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Hugo Boss facing Holocaust lawsuit.

FASHION designer Hugo Boss is the latest high-profile businessman to face a lawsuit after being accused of using slave labour in World War II.

US lawyers acting for Holocaust victims have started legal proceedings against Boss Ltd and 21 other firms, mostly German.

The lawsuit comes a year after an Austrian magazine exposed the use of slave labour by Boss to make the uniforms worn by the SS, the Hitler Youth and the German wermacht during the Third Reich.

On the strength of the report, Boss hired a historian to probe the firm's activities in wartime. It's understood he found French POWs and Polish death camp inmates HAD been used in manufacturing the clothing.

Today Hugo Boss is a leading name in fashion. But when he founded a textile factory in 1923 it was to make post office and police uniforms. The advent of Nazism and its love of uniforms meant the firm had full order books for the 12-year reign of the Third Reich.

But manpower became a problem as workers went into the armed services. Boss, like thousands of other German firms, used slave labour to keep production lines going.

Last year Sigfried Boss, 83, said: "Of course my father belonged to the Nazi party. But who didn't belong back then? The whole industry worked for the Nazi army."

It's thought Boss's lawyers will argue that any forced labourers were fairly treated in comparison to others in Germany industry.

Last week Europe's biggest car maker Volkswagen faced a lawsuit when it emerged 400 children of slave labourers had died of neglect at a company-run nursery.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Hall, Allan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 15, 1999
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