Document Type



In August 2000, Germany's twin houses of parliament enacted a law establishing a foundation to compensate survivors of the Nazi forced labor program. The Foundation Law was acclaimed as a victory for Holocaust survivors, despite that it sharply limits compensation amounts, denies recovery to some potential claimants, and purports to preclude further litigation of Holocaust-era claims. Proponents of the Foundation Law defended the choice to use legislation to resolve Holocaust-related claims initially brought in a judicial forum on the grounds that litigation is inherently ill-suited to that task, and justified the terms of the Law by reference to the claimants' poor chances in the courtroom. In this article, the co-authors identify some troubling assumptions underlying these rationales and highlight the historical and political context in which they were offered.

Date of Authorship for this Version



Reparations for historical injustices, War reparations, Forced labor, Slave labor, German Foundation Law, Third Reich, Nazi war crimes, Foreign Law, Other Law

Original Citation

Originally published in Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 1-61, Winter 2002. Please note that the copyright in the Harvard Journal on Legislation is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, and that the copyright in the article is held by the authors.