Following Volkswagen's lead, Siemens announced plans Wednesday for a $12 million fund to compensate former slave laborers forced to work for the company by the Nazis during World War II.

The electronics giant, along with VW, is one of several German businesses under pressure from lawsuits in the United States and threats of more at home from Nazi-era victims.Volkswagen last week became the first of these firms to agree to victim payments when it announced its own $12 million fund - a change of heart after arguing for years that it had no legal duty to pay back wages for labor forced on it by the Nazi war machine.

Lawyers representing former slave laborers criticized Siemens, as they did Volkswagen, for setting up a fund to avoid larger payments a lawsuit might demand.

Siemens is seeking "the cheapest alternative," said Munich attorney Michael Witti.