Zupke demands money from companies for forced labor in the GDR

The SED Victims’ Representative Evelyn Zupke sharply criticizes Western corporations that used to obtain goods from forced labor in GDR prisons.

“I am deeply ashamed that, unlike the Swedish furniture company Ikea, none of the larger West German companies that have benefited from forced labor have agreed to help the victims,” ​​said Zupke on Thursday in Berlin.

Above all, she named Western department store chains that, for example, sold tights produced in the Hoheneck women’s prison – “Prison goods for the class enemy,” Zupke quoted a term coined for this purpose. The companies “got involved with the SED dictatorship and used the forced laborers as cheap labour”. However, it is never too late to participate in compensating these people. “As the SED victim representative, I will continue to hold the companies responsible.” The German Press Agency has asked the companies named by Zupke for a statement.

Zupke demands uncomplicated help

Overall, the Victims’ Representative campaigned for the victims of the SED dictatorship to be given more rapid and uncomplicated help more than 30 years after German reunification. According to Zupke, there were around 250,000 political prisoners and 173,000 young people in so-called youth work yards in the 40 years of GDR history. So far, around 50,000 people affected have received a victim’s pension.

It is important to close “gaps in justice”, said Zupke. Many people still failed to prove the health consequences of their persecution in GDR times. “I propose that on the basis of clearly defined criteria, such as political imprisonment or decomposition, and defined clinical pictures, the connection between the damaging event and the current health damage is assumed to be given,” explained Zupke.

She called this a “concrete assumption rule”. A similar rule applies to soldiers who have been physically and mentally damaged as a result of their deployments abroad. “This regulation for the SED victims would save unnecessary bureaucratic costs and strengthen the victims’ trust in the rule of law,” said Zupke.

Interest in Stasi documents remains high

The former civil rights activist has held the office of SED victim commissioner for a year – since June 17, 2021. At the same time, the Stasi documents authority was dissolved and its holdings were transferred to the Federal Archives, i.e. millions of documents such as Stasi files, but also photos and sound recordings.

The President of the Federal Archives, Michael Hollmann, drew a positive balance. The interest of citizens, science and the media in the files of the former GDR Ministry for State Security is still high and access is open, Hollmann told the German Press Agency. The Stasi files make a decisive contribution to coming to terms with the SED dictatorship.

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