Germany agrees payments for Nazi ghetto workers

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BERLIN, Sep 19 (Reuters) The German government today agreed to pay workers in Nazi Germany's Jewish ghettos 2,797 dollas each in compensation.

Compensation for ghetto workers, who generally received a small, but often negligible wage, is one of the last outstanding compensation claims dating back to Hitler's Third Reich.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been keen to settle them and asked top officials to work together with Israel on the matter.

Government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Merkel's cabinet had approved a Finance Ministry proposal to pay the 2,000 euro sum to all those who have yet to receive compensation.

''The payment agreed today is not compensation for being interned in ghettos...it's a humanitarian gesture,'' Wilhelm told a regular government news conference in Berlin.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry stressed the payments were not for victims of forced labour, who receive compensation according to a separate settlement from 2000.

In 2002, the German parliament passed a law to grant the ghetto survivors a small pension, but the plan was unsuccessful due to bureaucratic complications in processing the claims.

The Finance Ministry said the government estimated there were around 50,000 people still eligible to claim the payment.

''The aim is to get the payment to the elderly applicants as quickly and as unbureaucratically as possible,'' it said.

The government said applications could be made immediately to Germany's Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV) in Bonn.

An English language link to the Office's website is below.

REUTERS GL RK2245

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