Class action by Ukrainian slave laborers against German corporations
The Ukrainian Union of Prisoners/Victims of Nazi Persecution and the Ukrainian Association of the Antifascist Resistance, have authorized the filing of a class action law suit in the Federal Court in New York, Eastern District, against a number of German corporations, which in the years of World War II, forcibly seized hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens and utilized them as forced/slave laborers.
The chief benefit of litigation will be a weakening of the calumny.  The chief benefit of the litigation described below will be to begin erasing the image painted in recent years of Ukrainians as Nazis, when the predominant reality is that Ukrainians were largely the victims of the Nazis — the role depicted in the litigation — and were largely also the opponents of the Nazis.

The chief benefit of litigation will not be material compensation.  Any compensation that will be received from German corporations will go primarily to the plaintiffs' lawyers, to those administering the litigation effort, and to those entrusted with distributing the compensation.  The slave laborers themselves are often dead by this time, or so old that they are likely to be dead by the time any compensation is received, or at least so old that future compensation will reach them at such an advanced age that it will be unable to begin offsetting the losses they suffered as a result of the war.

Four negative side-effects:  There are at least four undesirable effects of the litigation:

(1) Redistributing wealth is not as good as building wealth.  Energy is diverted from building institutions capable of creating wealth to institutions which seek to redistribute wealth.

(2) The role of victim is corrupting.  As can be seen in the Jewish precedent, and perhaps as can be sensed in the case histories below, when an industry dedicated to extracting compensation for suffering is born, individuals will step forward who either claim to have been victims when they were not, or who exaggerate and even hyperbolize their suffering.  In this way, genuine and grievous loss is buried under a layer of falsehood, those identifying with the victims are corrupted, and those identifying with the victimizers are calumniated.  Historical truth is sacrificed.  In following the unhappy Jewish precedent, Ukrainians reinforce that precedent, and find it in their own economic interest to join their voices to the Jewish corruption of history.

(3) The Germans will be alienated.  The more that Germany perceives that compensation is being extracted by denigration and coercion, and particularly the more this effort depends on outright calumniation, the less generous it will be to Ukraine through voluntary channels.

(4) A fixed game will be legitimized.  Net positive compensation from this game goes not to those who have suffered the greatest wrongs, but to those who have become most expert at playing the game, and Ukrainians will never become as expert as Jews.  Thus, in joining in this sort of litigation, Ukrainians legitimize it, and may soon find themselves at the receiving end (as, for example, do the Poles today) of a process which they have helped legitimize, and thus with their insubstantial early gain more than wiped out by later heavy losses.  In other words, it is conceivable that Ukrainians are being led into a trap.

Better ways to spend one's time.  My own preference would be to have all the money that will be spent by both sides as a result of this litigation allocated instead to strengthening democracy, the rule of law, and the economy in Ukraine.  While this litigation is in progress, Ukraine's rulers are marching toward dictatorship, and Ukraine's economy is sinking deeper into third-world stagnation.  The Ukrainian press is being strangled, the Ukrainian intelligentsia is being plundered, and Ukraine's contract killers go unpunished.  By the time any compensation is received from this litigation, it is possible that Ukraine will be an entrenched banana republic whose nomenklatura will use what little of the compensation is released into their jurisdiction to buy bigger villas on the Côte d'Azur.  The standard of living of all Ukrainians — whether former slave laborers or not — would be enhanced by building democracy and the economy; in contrast, the litigation will enhance the standard of living only of those entrepreneurs who introduced Ukraine to the modern industry of adopting the role of victim and extracting compensation.

The press release below was taken from the Brama web site at:

Class Action Suit Against German Corporations
by Ukrainian Slave Laborers


August 12, 1999
Kyiv, Ukraine
For Immediate Release

The Ukrainian Union of Prisoners/Victims of Nazi Persecution and the Ukrainian Association of the Antifascist Resistance, have authorized the filing of a class action law suit in the Federal Court in New York, Eastern District, against a number of German corporations, which in the years of World War II, forcibly seized hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens and utilized them as forced/slave laborers.  (Evgeny Guminsky, et al. v. BMW, Opel, etc., File No. CV 994671).  Presently, the number of former forced/slave laborers that are still alive in Ukraine is nearly 300,000.

The law suit describes the utterly immense destruction inflicted on Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the years of German occupation.  During their reign of terror, the German fascists burned and completely destroyed 714 cities and towns, as well as over 28 thousand villages, leaving more than 10 million Ukrainian citizens, a quarter of Ukrainian population, homeless.  The Germans also destroyed and burned 60,000 industrial establishments, 200,000 commercial buildings, as well as 32,000 educational institutions.  According to expert statistics, the monetary value of the total damage to the Ukrainian economy exceeded 285 billion rubles.

In order to satisfy the demand for human labor of the German war machine, the Nazis forcibly seized more than 2.4 million Ukrainian workers, transported them against their will from Ukraine to Germany, and forced them to work as slave laborers under inhuman conditions of the concentration camps and various hard labor camps.  The class action complaint describes how one of the Plaintiffs, Evgeny Guminsky, who presently resides in Kiev, Ukraine, was forcibly taken from his native village of Vrublevka, Zhitomer Region, at the age of 17.  For three days he traveled in a freight train designed for cattle, without any food or water.  He was brought to the city of Gugenau and placed in a hard labor camp called "Rottenfeld".  Every morning, he was awakened at 3 a.m. and forced to march for 3-4 kilometers to the designated work location under the escort of the SS guards and ferocious dogs.  He was forced to work at the German factory of DAIMLER-BENZ, which produced heavy-duty trucks for the German war machine.  His working day lasted for 16 hours.  Every mishap brought on a beating by the guards with clubs.  There were only two meager meals served to the slave laborers per day: soup made of water and swede in the morning, and a piece of bread at night.  There were no days off.  Evgeny Guminsky received no pay for his slave labor.

Plaintiff Matrena Rashina, presently living in Kharkov, Ukraine.  She was forcibly taken from her native village of Bishkin, Ukraine to Bathausburg, Germany at the age of 16.  She was forced into slave labor at the factory of the German corporation BASF, where every single day she had to load heavy white metal strips onto wagons.  She received very small portions of food and was severely beaten for every mishap, and sometimes she was beaten for no reason at all.

Plaintiff Raisa Sevast’yanova presently resides in Simferopol, Ukraine.  She was born in Crimea, Ukraine in 1925, into a Jewish family.  Her real name is Raisa Goldshlyak.  When the War started, her neighbors took her to a small Ukrainian village and obtained for her Russian identification papers in the name of Valentina Rymanova, in order to save her from the Nazis.  In 1942, Raisa was forcibly taken by the Nazis and brought to Berlin, and then transferred to Vienna.  She was placed as a slave laborer into the factory of a German corporation SIEMENS.  The labor camp where Raisa worked was surrounded by a double wall of barbed wire, and was guarded at all times by the SS guards and vicious dogs.  She was awakened at 4 a.m. every morning; given a piece of bread with 20 grams of margarine; and then marched to work under military convoy.  Every working day lasted for 12 endless hours without any breaks, during which she was standing at all times.  Raisa was forced to work even when she was very sick.  She received almost no compensation for her labor.

Other plaintiffs worked in similar inhuman conditions: Ivan Shuvalov worked for the German corporation OPEL; Alexander Boyko worked for the German corporation MANN; Nikolay Godun worked for VOLKSWAGEN; Fedor Lirskiy worked for KRUPP.

The complaint further alleges that the Defendant corporations conspired with the Nazi regime to profit from the use of forced/slave labor and since these acts were crimes against humanity, no statute of limitations should apply.  The Plaintiffs are seeking compensation from these and other German corporations for the economic, physical and moral damage that they and all other forced/slave laborers of Ukraine were caused to suffer.

The class action law suit was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by three legal firms:

Pyotr S. Rabinovich, Esq.
Pyotr S. Rabinovich PA
475 Fifth Ave.
Suite 602
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 212-679-5880
Fax: 212-679-7958
Myroslaw Smorodsky. Esq.
Smorodsky & Stawnychy
75 Union Avenue
PO Box 1705
Rutherford, NJ 07070
Tel: 201-939-1999
Fax: 201-507-3970
Danylo Kourdelchouk, Esq.
Oleksandr Storozhuk, Esq.
Ukrainian Bar Association
for Foreign Affairs
2-A Zoloti Vorota St.
Kyiv, Ukraine, 252034
Tel: 38-044-246-53-91
Fax: 38-044-229-85-22

Press release issued by:
The President of the Ukrainian Union of Prisoners/Victims of Nazi Persecution, D. Demidov
The President of the Ukrainian Association of the Antifascist Resistance, V. A. Kachanovsky