World News

Compensation for French women who worked for Nazis

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Thousands of French women who were forced to work for German paramilitary organisations during World War Two will receive compensation under an agreement signed on Thursday.

The women are all from the Alsace and Moselle regions which were disputed by Germany and France for much of the 19th and 20th centuries and effectively annexed by Nazi Germany when it defeated France in 1940. After the war, France reclaimed them.

The Nazis considered the people of the area were Germans and an estimated 130,000 young men were forced to join the Wehrmacht, the German army. Over 86,000 survivors were compensated in 1981 after an accord between France and Germany.

But no compensation was offered to thousands of others from Alsace and Moselle, mostly women, who were forced into Nazi paramilitary organisations that put them to work as support staff for the Wehrmacht or in weapons factories.

Only 5,800 of them survive and they will receive 800 euros ($1,268) each under an agreement between the French government and a German-funded foundation created to handle the 1981 compensation for the Wehrmacht veterans from Alsace and Moselle.

“This is a page of the history of Alsace and Moselle that is being turned,” said Jean-Marie Bockel, France’s secretary of state for war veterans, who signed the agreement in Strasbourg, the main city in Alsace.

He said 800 euros each not a significant financial compensation but it represented “a certain form of recognition” for the women.