Court caps Jewish ghetto pension claims

Some 22,000 Jewish people confined to ghettos under the Nazis during World War II are entitled to smaller pension payments than they initially claimed, a German federal court ruled Tuesday.

Court caps Jewish ghetto pension claims
Photo: DPA

The judgement applies to people who “willingly” worked in ghettos under German occupation and were paid wages, however meagre, as opposed to slave labourers, who are entitled to other compensation.

The Federal Social Court, which hears public insurance and entitlements claims, ruled that payments to plaintiffs would only be made retroactively to 2005 and not 1997, as demanded by the plaintiffs.

German pension authorities say the ruling will slash payouts by up to €500 million ($660 million).

The dispute resolved around Germany’s so-called Ghetto Pensions Law of 2002 which applied to those who worked for pay in the ghettos.

About 70,000 Jews from around the world applied for payments under the law including around 30,000 from Israel and more than 10,000 from North America.

Monthly payments of between €100 and €300 were to have been paid retroactively going back to 1997 if applications were filed by mid-2003.

German authorities, however, rejected around 90 percent of the appeals on the grounds that they were invalid, leading to a comprehensive study of work conditions in the ghettos.

In 2009, the Federal Social Court eased qualification rules. However it said it had no authority to reverse the rejection of applications already filed.

Pension authorities argued that as the limit for retroactive payments is usually four years, those who re-applied could only claim payments back to 2005.

The judges on Tuesday upheld this view in a ruling based on an appeal by two Jewish women from Israel who had filed their applications by the original 2003 deadline but saw them rejected the first time.

“The court stresses that applications for retroactive payments for ghetto pensions fall under normal pension law,” it said in a statement.

Germany says it has paid out the equivalent of more than €67 billion in reparations to victims of the Nazis including survivors of concentration camps, ghettos or forced work camps.


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French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.