Germany to compensate 30,000 victims of 'inhuman' child abuse
GERMANY has owned up to one of the most disturbing examples of mass child and youth abuse in its post-war history, some 60 years after the first teenagers started being locked away and mistreated by supposedly "caring" foster homes.
The country agreed yesterday to provide a €120m compensation fund for the estimated 30,000 victims who were among the 800,000 children in German foster homes in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Institutions that for decades meted out inhuman treatment -- including ritual beatings, periods of solitary confinement, forced labour and sexual assaults -- were not youth remand centres or borstals as might be expected, but homes run by nuns and priests in former West Germany's Catholic and Protestant churches, as well as state-run homes.
Antje Vollmer, a Green Party politician, announced the establishment of the fund yesterday after two years of round-table discussions with victims, politicians and church leaders in an attempt to provide some form of retrospective justice for those who were abused.
Ms Vollmer said that by setting up the fund, Germany was finally "recognising the suffering of the victims".
'Der Spiegel' magazine which broke the story in 2003, concluded that the mistreatment was systematic: "Between 1945 and 1970, the worst educational practices of the Nazi era continued virtually unabated in these barrack like foster homes." (© Independent News Service)