German American Law Journal :: Articles Edition
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Compensation for East German Victims of Political Persecution
Originally published: Thu, April 13, 2000.

by Kerstin Grote *

In January 2000, Germany enacted a new statute to improve the compensation for victims of political persecution in former East Germany. Germany has three different kinds of rehabilitation laws, criminal, labor and administrative compensation laws, which form the framework for redressing the injustice of the East German regime.

Under the criminal rehabilitation law, every political prisoner may now apply for compensation in the amount of DM 600 per month of wrongful imprisonment. Political prisoners who may already have received compensation apply for an additional payment of up to DM 600 for each month of imprisonment.

Close relatives like spouses, children and parents of family members executed by the Soviet Union at the beginning of the GDR regime after the World War II receive benefits from the Foundation for Former Political Prisoners. This compensation is independent of the present economical situation of the relatives.

Relatives of deceased political prisoners or family members who died of the aftereffects of being imprisoned also receive benefits from the Foundation for Former Political Prisoners, again independent of the present economical situation. Close relatives of "victims of the wall" who died while trying to escape from East to West Germany are covered by the same program.

The Foundation for Former Political Prisoners will now receive additional funding from the German Government to support former deportees and internees from the region east of the Oder-Neiße border in what is now Poland.

The new statute also extends the deadline for application for compensation and benefits under these programs to December 31, 2001.

* Kerstin Grote received her law degree from University of Hannover, Germany, in 1997. In the summer of 2000 she interned with Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, LLP, Washington D.C. Now Kerstin Kress, she is corporate counsel to a transatlantic corporation's US office.