Germany to pay compensation to Soviet WW2 prisoners

Wed May 20, 2015 10:04am EDT
 
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By Andreas Rinke

BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government plans to pay a total of 10 million euros in compensation to an estimated 4,000 surviving World War Two Soviet prisoners for their suffering at the hands of Nazi Germany, coalition sources said on Wednesday.

Europe marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the war earlier this month, and the event threw a spotlight on some of the more rarely discussed aspects of the conflict, such as the fate of many millions of prisoners of war.

The sources told Reuters that Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have agreed with their Social Democrat (SPD) partners to set aside the sum in a supplementary budget, with each survivor due to receive 2,500 euros ($2,780).

The suffering of the 5.3 million Soviet prisoners of war, who were held by German forces between 1941 and 1945, was extreme and more than half died. Held in inhumane conditions, many were executed. Others starved or died of disease.

In a speech commemorating the end of the war in early May, German President Joachim Gauck emphasized the responsibility Germany bears for these deaths, and said the cruel fate of the Soviet prisoners had not been fully recognized in Germany.

GERMAN-RUSSIAN TIES UNDER STRAIN

A spokesman for the foreign ministry declined to confirm the plans as they were a matter for the Bundestag lower house but he said he believed they were correct.   Continued...

 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a flower-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin walls in Moscow, Russia, May 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Grigory Dukor