The Simon Wiesenthal
Center today called upon German Minister of Labor Walter Reister to take
measures to reverse the practical implications of the recent decision of
the German Supreme Social Court (Bundessozialgericht) to grant
disability pensions to two veterans of the Latvian SS Legion. In a
letter to the minister, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff urged him to
deal as quickly as possible with the potentially dangerous practical
results of the verdict rendered in Kassel on Friday.
Zuroff said: "We are particularly
perturbed by this decision which ostensibly is in stark contradiction to
the law passed last year by the Bundestag which allows the cancellation
of pensions of all those who "violated the norms of humanity." It was
our understanding that any person who served in the SS or in other units
which carried out crimes against civilians fell under that category.
"As partners with the ministry in
the Joint Project for Data Evaluation and Processing (Federal War
Victims Assistance Act), we urge you to fully clarify this matter which
threatens the success of our important project. At a time when efforts
are being made to deny criminals government pensions, this decision
seeks to do the exact opposite. At a time when survivor slave laborers
and others are struggling for just recompense for their suffering, the
court in Kassel has rendered a verdict in favor of the perpetrators."
In March 1998, the Simon Wiesenthal
Center was commissioned by the German Labor Ministry to provide data on
Nazi Holocaust perpetrators with a view to canceling their disability
pensions. This project is coordinated by the Center’s Israel director
Dr. Efraim Zuroff.