The 5,000 Thalidomider survivors around the world today received little or no financial support from Grünenthal or their respective governments, for decades. Since the mid-90s the German Contergan Foundation, in charge of paying out monthly pensions to German survivors, has been entirely funded by the German state. Today the government funded foundation pays more money to survivors annually than Grünenthal has in total since 1972 (40+ years).
In 2012, for the first time in the company’s history, Grünenthal’s chief executive Harald Stock addressed Thalidomide survivors directly in a public speech, just months after Grünenthal’s distributor in Australia reached an out of court settlement resulting from a successful multimillion dollar class action suit on behalf of Lynnette Rowe and other Australian Thalidomiders. Although Grünenthal would not agree to contribute to the compensation Stock said how sorry he was that the company had “remained silent” for such a long time. Stock chose his words carefully, making sure not to admit to any guilt. Grünenthal still claims they did nothing wrong. Almost sixty years later, Thalidomide survivors are still waiting for the one thing that matters most: a true and heartfelt apology.
“They apologized for some bullshit that they didn’t reach out to us or some fuck, yeah? They never apologized for the suffering they caused. And they didn’t pay for that, you know, for their wrong. There was no apology. Apology comes from the heart, yeah? Their apology came from their lawyers.”
~ Niko von Glasow – Film Director, Producer and Thalidomider
Watch Niko’s reaction