Jewish organizations and Jewish historians and Jewish "survivors" want every White Gentile to feel guilt for the Holocaust, so they have invented a series of ad hoc excuses for broadening the class of the "guilty" to include all of us, whatever our grandfathers were doing sixty plus years ago. Meanwhile, holocausts continue to this day. Has anyone thought to compensate the Congolese for example? How about the Armenians? Going by this Jewish line of thought of eternal guilt, how do we consider reparation to all other victims over the centuries?
By Richard Edmondson
After the conclusion of World War II did the Germans pay reparations of some sort to the Jews?
A lot of people would probably assume that, yes, some sort of redress did occur, but that whatever it was, most likely was paid out in one, two, three, or perhaps four lump sum payments, and that the matter was over, settled, and done with, oh, say maybe five years after the war, or ten at most.
Few people ~ or at any rate few who aren’t Jewish, or who don’t make a regular habit of reading the Jewish press ~ would guess that today, fully 67 years after the war, Germany continues to pay reparations to Jews, or that the benefits doled out keep going up every year, rather than down. But this is indeed the case.In July of 2012 observances were held marking the 60th anniversary of the Luxembourg Agreement. The event took place in Washington D.C., with ceremonies held at the Israeli Embassy, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Hart Senate Office Building.
More on the London Debt Conference can be found in a summary here, but basically it was an agreement on how German debts, mainly from the period between the two world wars, would be settled with a number of creditor nations, including the US, Britain, and France. Weber goes on to relate (emphases added):
Goldman and the other Jews who participated in the negotiations collectively came to be known as The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or simply the Claims Conference (CC). As a result of the agreement, the CC was installed, not only as the representative of world Jewry, but also essentially almost as an arbiter, procuring payments from West Germany on the basis of claims filed by individual Holocaust survivors.
The claims process works like this: the money is handed over by Germany to the CC, which in turn will allocate it into different funds that it oversees, with each fund earmarked for a specific purpose.
In addition there is also a Central and Eastern European Fund, which, like Article 2, allocates monthly pensions, only these specifically are provided for Jewish survivors who, rather than emigrating to the West, remained in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union. These pensions are currently set at 260 Euros per month, however, as of Jan. 1, 2013, they will increase to 300 Euros a month, making them equal to the Article 2 pensions.
Different funds have different eligibility requirements. For instance, a person may qualify for the Hardship Fund if he/she underwent:
i) deprivation of liberty;ii) flight from the Nazi regime;iii) “restriction of liberty” as defined under BEG, a German restitution law passed in the 1950s;iv) restriction of movement such as having to observe a curfew, as well as compulsory registration with limitation of residence, or wearing the star of David; or if theyv) resided in Leningrad at some time between September 1941 and January 1944, or fled from there during the same period.
As mentioned above, the Israeli government has also been a recipient of huge piles of money (and goods) at the expense of German taxpayers (in fact, between largesse from the taxpayers of Germany, as well as those in the U.S., the Zionist state is doing rather superbly for itself), and here again Weber provides some quotes that are quite instructive. One of these is from Goldman’s autobiography:
The second quote is also from Goldman, though taken from a 1976 interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur:
Goldman of course played a key role in negotiating the Luxembourg Agreement, so maybe he’s only overly touting his own achievements. But at this point Weber also supplies us with a quote from Jewish historian Walter Laqueur:
Weber then adds his own comment:
MASSIVE FRAUD AND EXORBITANT SALARIES
In a story posted in July, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that so far about $4.3 million has been recovered from the fraud, and that an additional $3.3 million is scheduled to be returned in installment payments. Well that’s nice. But out of a total of how much?
“Never in the six-decade history of the organization had theft of this scale ever been discovered,” reported the JTA (emphasis added).
What is certain is that the operation involved CC employees and that the money looted came out of the Article 2 and Hardship Funds.
So far 31 people have been arrested in the case, and the first sentence was handed down a year ago ~ to one of the recruiters, Polina Anoshina, who enlisted 30 people for the scheme. Her efforts resulted in the pay out of about $105,000 in fraudulent claims, of which she herself netted approximately $9,000. Her lawyer called her “a very small part of a very large wheel.”
Also interesting to note is that estimates of the total amount stolen have gone steadily upward with the passage of time. In December of 2009, roughly a month after the irregularities were discovered, the figure was put at $5 million. By February of 2010 this had risen to $7 million, and in November of 2010 to $42 million.
Today, as I said, the number stands at $57 million, although officials acknowledge it could rise even higher. All of this, keep in mind, has been paid for by the German taxpayers.But as I say, this isn’t the only controversy the CC has found itself in. The issue of survivor claims was also examined in the 2000 book, The Holocaust Industry, by Norman Finkelstein, who discusses how the number of Holocaust survivors has been exaggerated, and who also takes to task the World Jewish Congress for its legal campaign to extort reparations payments from Swiss banks.
And then came the 2006 revelations about exorbitant salaries and lavish expense accounts enjoyed by CC employees, including its then-President Israel Singer. It was a discovery that came at a time when the CC was under heavy fire for giving large sums of money to Jewish organizations while providing only minimal assistance to presumably genuine Holocaust survivors.
The above is found in a December 2006 story posted at the Israeli website Ynet, entitled “Where Did the Shoah Money Go?” The story informs us the CC’s management expenses were reaching “tens of millions of dollars each year” while at the same time individual survivors such as “N” ~ quoted in the story ~ were in desperate need of additional funds.
“I live in an Amidar apartment, spend thousands of shekels on medication and I have nothing to eat,” said “N.” “I telephoned organizations who are supposed to help Holocaust victims and the Claims Conference and asked for some help from, but they waved me off.”The story found that the CC was distributing some $90 million a year, but that a substantial amount of this was going to Jewish organizations rather than individuals in need. “In reality, not enough money actually reaches the survivors.”
At the time the scandal broke, Israel Singer, in addition to heading the CC, was also serving as secretary general of the World Jewish Congress. In January of that year Eliot Spitzer, then New York State Attorney General, issued a damning report on how money was being handled by the WJC, including apparent financial irregularities “amounting to millions of dollars,” according to Ynet. These included the “circular transfers” of some $1.2 million from the accounts of the WJC in New York to a bank account in Geneva, then on to an account in England, and finally ending up in an account held by a private company called Solar.
For example, in 2003, he submitted to the WJC, expense accounts amounting to USD 431,129 and in 2004, in the amount of USD 261,294. A breakdown of Singer’s movements shows that he flew to almost the entire world, sometimes together with his wife. For example, for two tickets to Germany, he paid (at the expense of the WJC, of course) USD 24,000. On the same day in September 2003, he paid an additional USD 1,000 for another flight. Six days later, his flight to Europe cost USD 12,000 and a week later, he paid EL AL USD 8,500. This was all paid by the WJC.
The total of all Singer's flights in 2003 was approximately USD 232,000 and the cost of his hotel accommodation amounted to approximately USD 173,000. In 2004, he really cut back and the cost of his flights and accommodation came to approximately USD 200,000.
Singer lives in New York, but this did not inhibit him from staying at deluxe hotels in the Big Apple, on which he spent in 2003 approximately USD 60,000 of WJC funds. In that year, he also stayed in deluxe hotels in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, Geneva, Rio de Janeiro, Budapest, London ~ as well as in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In addition, he withdrew more than USD 134,000 in cash from the WJC account in New York and claimed before the Attorney General that he used the money for travel purposes.
Apparently Singer’s travel expenses were paid for by the WJC rather than the CC, at least if we go by the statement of CC spokesperson Renana Levin:
“According to the procedures of the Claims Conference, the role of the President of the Claims Conference is to deal with foreign policy and he does not deal with internal financial affairs of the organization,” Levin said. “I want to stress that the Claims Conference did not finance any of the travels made by Israel Singer on its behalf.”
"Over the years, money was allocated to "Bet Yaacov" and the seminar of Hasidut Gur to train educators to teach the Holocaust to Haredi communities.
"The allocation to the 'March of the Living' amutah is defined by the Conference as an Israeli allocation, because all the participants, who come from all over the world, visit Israel at the end of the trip. In addition, the Conference funds scholarships of youth with limited means to participate in the March."
March of the Living: an international annual "Holocaust Education program" funded by Germany
CC grants to the March of the Living began in 1998, and by 2007 had totaled more than $7.4 million, while the “education program’s” annual budget stood at $4.2 million in 2005. One would perhaps not be too surprised, then, that, like the CC and WJC, the MOL has found itself under scrutiny for financial improprieties as well.
In April of 2007, the Jewish Week reported that the MOL paid $709,000 to Curtis Hoxter, a Manhattan public relations consultant, for work that neither he nor the MOL were able to adequately explain.
The story identified Hoxter as “a close and longtime associate of Claims Conference President Israel Singer,” and thus maybe not surprisingly the MOL was also found to have been getting funding from the WJC ~ specifically $657,000 between 2001 and 2003. Furthermore, the outlays were not reported on the WJC’s tax forms, the report stated.
The CC seems at this point to have gone into damage control mode, announcing it would conduct an “in-depth audit” of the MOL, but significantly the audit was to cover only those “procedures of March of the Living that are currently in place,” meaning the year 2007.
A 2003 article entitled “Restitution: The Second Round,” is quite telling on this count. The article is posted at the website of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and includes lengthy excerpts of an interview with Singer. The words “The Second Round” refer to efforts by international Jewish organizations, beginning in the early 1990s, to extract additional restitution monies on behalf of purported Holocaust survivors.
"We could also have fixed the Netherlands as our first target. We wanted, however, to start with a nation where we were reasonably sure we would win. We thus chose Norway not for moral or justice reasons, but strategic ones. It was a guilty country with a small number of Jews.
"As far as money was concerned, the problem there was easily manageable. Norway is rich and has abundant oil reserves. Whatever payment the Norwegians were to make to the Jewish community or to individuals would not affect their well-being. Paying out some money to Holocaust survivors would not mean individual Norwegians would have to make sacrifices. On the other hand, the result would be limited as it would not really change the lives of the Jews who received the funds….
"Everyone was aware that among Ukrainians and Lithuanians there were many anti-Semites. Norway however had maintained its gentle image, despite severe discrimination against its surviving Jews after the Holocaust.”
The East bloc:
"In the mid-eighties I spoke to the East German Prime Minister Erich Honecker. I asked him to accept joint responsibility for what Germany had done to the Jews in the Holocaust. At first he refused. Thereafter, he began negotiating with us, eyeing a kind of most favored nation status with the U.S. similar to the one already enjoyed by Romania. He offered an initial hundred million dollar payment…
"After the fall of communism, the eastern European countries wanted to be acceptable to the West. They dealt with many problems except one: their obligation to restitute the property stolen from millions of Jews. The financial side of our claims was important, yet secondary to the historical one. There were so many scandals attached to the restitution process in these countries that would cause much publicity.
"In 1992 the WJC and the Jewish Agency ~ together with seven other Jewish organizations - created the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO). Its aim was to negotiate on Jewish war claims with eastern European countries; they were not part of the Claims Conference's mandate which was specifically limited to Germany and Austria. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wrote the WJRO a letter naming it Israel's representative in these negotiations.”
Of course for all of these endeavors to be successful, the idea of Jewish victimization had to be reinforced and heavily promoted. Singer claimed new historical research showed that “27,600 trainloads of Jewish property” were stolen by the Germans.
"Things started moving in many countries. To our surprise, in 1997 the British Government called a conference in London on looted gold. Foreign Minister Robin Cook, who was extremely anti-Israel, initiated this conference because he considered it part of 'a foreign policy with a moral face.' His behavior followed a classic pattern: one is anti-Israel and then tries to compensate for that by being good for Diaspora Jews. French President Jacques Chirac's attitude is another typical example of such behavior.
"After so many years, news was emerging on Jewish properties in Poland and restitution issues re-surfaced in Germany. From my personal viewpoint, the CEF agreement with the Germans is the most significant moral victory. This body, the Central European Foundation of Repair to European Jews, now makes life pensions available to 92,000 East European Jews. The Austrians suddenly were willing to make new payments because it was bad publicity for them when we made agreements with the Germans at the same time stressing how horribly the Austrians behaved.
But Singer’s biggest triumph may have been in Switzerland, where he managed to squeeze some $1. 25 billion out of certain of the nation’s banks:
"Some people had been well aware ~ long before the WJC ~ of the dormant Swiss accounts and the banks' resistance to help heirs reclaim money due to them. Paul Erdman ~ an author who had many other grievances against the Swiss banks ~ wrote a novel called The Swiss Account. It was only around 1994 that we discovered that there was much official documentation available on the heirless and other accounts.
"Allen Dulles had been the American consul during the War in the Swiss capital Bern, where he spied on money transfers from Germany to Switzerland. Later, in his autobiography he mentioned a project initiated in 1944, called 'Safehaven.' It was part of economic warfare against the Axis and aimed at blocking the transfer of German assets to neutral countries.
"When Dulles became the head of the CIA in 1953, he attempted to blot out all information about this project. When we started investigating we learned about Safehaven's existence from the autobiography he wrote many years later. We could access a multitude of documents concerning it under the Freedom of Information Act."
A visit today to the official Swiss Banks Settlement website, shows that claims filed are subdivided into certain classes. For instance, persons could qualify for payments under the “Refugee Class” if they “were denied entry into or expelled from Switzerland, or admitted into Switzerland but abused or mistreated.”
This targeting of Swiss banks is also discussed by Norman Finkelstein in his book The Holocaust Industry. In an article here, Finkelstein calls the case against Switzerland “dubious at best,” yet as he relates, a number of US political leaders threw their weight behind the effort to force the Swiss to pay up:
If the Holocaust reparations game has become in essence a racket, the U.S. very much plays the role of enforcer. And this cuts across both Democrats and Republicans. In the article at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Singer talks about how Bill Clinton and then-New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato were recruited to the cause:
"Both sought re-election, yet had severe problems: the President was under investigation and D'Amato was not showing visible success. Clinton - despite his extreme dislike of D'Amato - was willing to collaborate with him on the restitution issue. D'Amato who has a huge Jewish constituency, said that the Jewish case was a just one and there weren't many Swiss voters in the United States anyhow."
Singer doubts whether the Bush administration would have been similarly forthcoming, as it is so strongly supportive of Israel. "You always see that administrations will back you on relatively marginal issues if they cannot do so on central ones. The reverse is also true because once they are supportive on critically important matters, they don't have to bother much about other ones. The one exception was the struggle for Soviet Jewry where all administrations have been supportive of the Jews, even if they were lukewarm on Israel."
Singer took an old woman to see D'Amato. She told him her father had an account in Switzerland and she was turned away when she had gone to inquire about it in 1946. They had wanted her father's death certificate from Auschwitz. D'Amato then related the story on television.
"We first approached Clinton through Hillary. When she heard we were working with D'Amato, she said, 'It's like Haman and Mordechai working together.' She knew her Bible better than the Jews and she could have thus been seen as Queen Esther. The President said, 'You have my full presidential support.'"
As Finkelstein noted (see above), class action lawsuits were filed in U.S. courts. The question of course is would the Swiss be afforded a fair judgment in the American judicial system? The words “dubious at best” would again seem to apply if we examine Singer’s comments on the matter:
"Hevesi was inclined to discuss a boycott on behalf of the 800 financial officers against the Swiss banks. He wrote a letter to Judge Edward Korman, who was dealing with the class actions against them in New York, informing him of what was going on. I kept stressing we did not want a boycott.
"In April 1996 the chairmen of the three major Swiss banks who felt threatened each wrote me a letter agreeing to the principle of global settlements. In 1997 Judge Korman began holding sessions in camera, on the restitution issues, which finally led to a global settlement. Strangely enough, all actors in the hearing were Jewish: the judge, the bank representatives and the lawyers."
From presidents and senators, all the way down to city comptrollers, the pressure was applied. Like the Germans at the Luxembourg negotiations more than 40 years previously, the Swiss now had little chance of avoiding the financial hit coming their way. Finkelstein sheds additional light on the coercion tactics:
But as stated above, it wasn’t only Switzerland in the cross-hairs. US officials began flagellating the countries of Eastern Europe as well. Again from Finkelstein:
Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Stuart Eizenstat deplored the lax pace of evictions in Eastern Europe: 'A variety of problems have arisen in the return of properties. For example, in some countries, when persons or communities have attempted to reclaim properties, they have been asked, sometimes required ... to allow current tenants to remain for a lengthy period of time at rent-controlled rates.'
To force submission from recalcitrant governments, those seeking Jewish restitution wield the bludgeon of US sanctions.
Was there? Certainly not in the view of the Jewish organizations involved. Thus the newly-reunified Germany, too, became a target of “the second round” of the Holocaust racket. Again from Singer:
"Many Jewish leaders considered these efforts worthless as they saw no chance of success. Today all the Claims Conference's funds come from these endeavors. The new pensions for Soviet and eastern European Jews and those who emigrated to Israel from these countries are paid from monies obtained from claims against Germany after unification."
"I approached German Prime Minister Helmut Kohl as head of a state which had stolen money from the Jews. He told me my behavior was unpleasant. I answered that I had no reason to be nice. As he viewed Germany as a superpower, he kept telling me, after we had reached an agreement, that we had defeated his country. It is only because we succeeded that he respects the Jews and me. Many leading European politicians made outright nasty remarks. [French President Jacques] Chirac, for instance, told me that Jews are the cause of anti-Semitism in France and everywhere else.
"It became clear when dealing with the Swiss bankers, that they were anti-Semites. A senior banker in one of our early meetings asked me, 'What do you mean when you talk about the wealth of the Jews? I saw pictures of the Jews of Europe in Roman Vishniac's book, A Vanished World. They had rags on their feet.'
"I told him the Jews in Vienna - where my parents had lived - were university professors, founders of psychology, fathers of modern rationalism, the initiators of human rights and the bankers who had given the Swiss bankers' grandfathers jobs. I made it clear to him that his remarks were abusive and anti-Semitic. Then Avraham Burg related this story to the newspapers.
"A Swiss Jewish banker told me that his non-Jewish colleagues had always been anti-Semites and even though he sat on their side of the table, they considered him to be one of their Jewish counterparts."
Singer also has his eyes set on works of art that allegedly once belonged to Jews, and he looks forward “to the day when I can walk into an auction house and say, ‘This picture is stolen; it belongs to the Jewish people. You can’t sell it.’ I want to be arrested and taken away handcuffed and attract media attention. I have done many things in my life, but not this yet,” he confided.
Bronfman said he discovered Singer “had helped himself to cash from the WJC office, my cash.” The activity, he said, had been going on for “a very long time,” and he went on to add, “The final blow came when we discovered that he was playing games with his hotel bills in Jerusalem.”
Singer responded that Bronfman would “regret having stained my good name.”
Commenting on his longtime friendship with Singer, Bronfman said he went through “many weeks of crying to find out that I was so badly used by a man I used to love.”
Keep in mind this took place in March of 2007 ~ a bit over a year after Spitzer’s report on WJC financial irregularities had been issued. As in 2001, no criminal charges were filed. However, in June of 2007 Singer voluntarily ended his presidency at the CC as well.
If the misuse of funds at the WJC went on for “a very long time,” the same could be said of the fraud at the CC that came to light in 2009. That scheme went undetected for years. The fraudulent claims upon the Article 2 Fund alone are believed to have dated back to at least 1993. Credited with discovering the scam is Greg Schneider, who became head of the CC in July of 2009 and who continues to serve in that role today.
“I was petrified somebody would find this out before we could make it clear that we were on top of it. I insisted we go to the authorities immediately,” he said.
And in fact, the article at the JTA paints Schneider as something of a knight in shining armor who managed to avert total disaster—first by spotting the fraud; then by contacting CC Chairman Julius Berman initially, and then the FBI; and thereafter by cooperating fully with the investigation.
Uriel Heilman, the JTA writer, goes on to relate how the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office praised the CC for its “extraordinary continued cooperation.” Heilman additionally noted that “perhaps most important, the Germans seem to trust Schneider.”
A different view of Schneider is expressed by Finkelstein:
While Schneider, as mentioned above, became head of the CC in 2009, his employment with the organization actually began in 1995 after he obtained a master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Heilman even discusses Schneider’s early life on a farm in Connecticut, as well as a trip to Israel at the age of 15.
“After a few days in Israel, I felt more at home and more connected than I did in 15 years on the farm,” Schneider told Heilman. “I didn’t fit in with that farm life. I always knew I wanted to do Jewish.”
“There’s too much at stake here,” Schneider told JTA. “It would be detrimental to the organization. It would be detrimental to survivors. The results are more important than the symbolism of a resignation.”
But for Berman it appears a case of ataraxia has set in. Berman didn’t do anything wrong, he maintains ~ so why on earth should he quit?
Calling the controls that the Claims Conference had in place to prevent fraud “reasonably adequate,” Berman said the deception was as impossible to anticipate as the attacks of 9/11. “Until it happens once,” he added. “Then you’re on notice that something you never foresaw can happen.”
Though perhaps it was unintended, Berman’s analogy to 9/11 gives rise to a measure of levity. But let’s not forget that other “indispensable” higher-ups ~ either in or out of the loop ~ were also on hand as the fraud was occurring. One was Gideon Taylor, who comes from a family of powerful Jews ~ whose grandfather was Samuel Fisher, a British lord and former president of the Board of Directors of British Jews.
“The day I left I made a decision: I’m not going to speak publicly about the Claims Conference because I’ve moved on,” Taylor told the JTA. “It is what it is.”
Yes, Taylor has moved on, but not that terribly far, and the grass in his new location also seems pretty green:
Just after announcing his intentions to leave the CC, Taylor shared some thoughts on life, loot, and Israel with the Jewish Chronicle, commenting,
“Of all the times to have been at the Claims Conference, this was probably the busiest, with the big agreements on slave labour, the discussions with Swiss banks and negotiations with insurance companies.”
“We are living in turbulent times for the Jewish world and Israel. There are the economic challenges, the security and political challenges and the atmosphere.”One former CC higher-up who is facing charges in the affair is Semen Domnitser. According to the JTA, Domnitser oversaw the Hardship and Article 2 Funds. Through his lawyers he has maintained his innocence.
“It has never been about the money,” claimed Berman, who was on hand for the festivities at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
“It has always been about the recognition, the validation, the acknowledgement. Today for the first time in 60 years, we can say that every Holocaust victim alive today is entitled to some form or recognition. We are all painfully aware that we are entering the twilight years for survivors. All we can do is hope to make their final years ones of dignity and promise to carry the lessons of the Shoah forward.”Various German officials were also present, and some of their remarks are striking:
And Dr. Peter Ammon, Ambassador of Germany to the United States, stressed that the nation understands its burden of history and will continue to fulfill its historic and moral responsibility to those who suffered under the Third Reich.
Will all of this end when the last Holocaust survivor dies? Or will the penance and restitution go on for “generations to come,” as Ammon puts it?
Josopović went on to say he felt convinced that amendments to his country’s “compensation law” would be passed soon, and that these would include payments to “Holocaust survivors, private individuals, their inheritors or local communities.”
So what does Eizenstat want exactly? Well according to Haaretz, he desires Croatia to “commence with a restitution program and the formation of an independent commission of international scholars to examine the country’s wartime past.”
The matter is discussed in a recent article by former Israeli Roy Tov, who informs us that similar demands are being made upon Serbia ~ also seeking EU membership.
I apologize to the Honorable Mr. Eizenstat, but his strategy, succinctly summarized by him as “once they’re in, the leverage is lost,” is nothing but an extortion attempt.
Singer’s comments about how he would like to walk into an art auction one day and say ~
“This picture is stolen; it belongs to the Jewish people. You can’t sell it.” ~ should also be kept in mind.
The Claims Conference and the WJRO have begun to work with relevant Jewish communities and governments around the world to bring increased attention to the restitution of looted movable cultural and religious property. The organizations are focusing on the systemic issues involved in art restitution with the intent of improving and creating processes to enable more owners and heirs to recover their property.
The return of plundered artworks and religious artifacts often has meaning beyond that of the restitution of other types of assets. These were personal possessions valued for their beauty and cultural significance, often handed down through several generations. In many cases, these artworks or artifacts are the last personal link heirs may have to families destroyed in the Holocaust. Many of these artworks have ended up in museums around the world, with no centralized method for families to locate them.
So who will pay for this?
Let us also return briefly to the comments of Ludger Schlief, the German finance minister quoted above. You’ll recall Schlief conceded that his country faces “enormous challenges” with regard to the EU’s current economic crisis, but that this “will not deter Germany from its historic responsibility.”
Is the feeling, then, that no matter how tough times get for the rest of us, Jews who may have suffered at some point in the past must at all costs be provided for?
Government pensions have been slashed, income from property rentals have fallen significantly and there have been steep tax hikes and price rises. At the same time, state social services and medical assistance has been significantly reduced.
“Today’s economic crisis has made these survivors more vulnerable than ever at a time in their lives when they most need aid,” Gregory Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, wrote in a report on the new assistance.
“The Claims Conference is taking dramatic and immediate action to help ease their situation as much as possible and to prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe for this vulnerable population.”
The article also informs us that an allocation of “nearly $120,000” will be given to the Jewish Museum of Greece ~ for yet another Holocaust education program.
As for Schneider’s thoughts on the $57 million that went missing, he feels far too much attention has been paid to this and not enough to his organizations accomplishments ~ and he believes those accomplishments are considerable.
“This is the last moment of the last generation of survivors. We have to give them the dignity they deserve. We only have a few years left when we can still make a difference,” he says.
Does he feel that at some point the CC and other Jewish organizations may have overplayed their hands and gotten a little too greedy? Apparently not.
“The Germans say, when will it ever end?
Hasn’t it been enough already?”
Schneider said, then added: “The suffering hasn’t ended. The nightmares haven’t ended. How can you possibly say enough? It won’t be enough until the very last survivor, and even then it won’t be enough.”
WHAT ABOUT NAKBA
REPARATIONS FOR THE PALESTINIANS?
By Richard Edmondson
Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of history is that since approval of the Luxembourg Agreement 60 years ago, Jews have been collecting reparations payments for offenses that in some cases are identical to those which they themselves have inflicted upon the Palestinians in the same period.
For instance: Jews who became “refugees and stateless persons” in the Nazi era may qualify for assistance under the Hardship Fund which is administered by the Claims Conference. Additionally those Jews who also “suffered considerable damage to health as a result of Nazi persecution” would equally qualify for reparations under the same fund.
How many Palestinians, particularly those in Gaza, have been denied access to needed medical care or life-saving drugs and suffered ill-health effects as a result?
The Hardship Fund also offers assistance to those Jews who fled “from areas of the Soviet Union that were generally up to 100 kilometers from the most easterly advance of the German army (Wehrmacht) but were not later occupied by the Nazis.”
Jews who endured “deprivation of liberty,” as well as “curfew” and “restriction of movement” can also get help from the Hardship Fund. Palestinians in the West Bank have suffered conditions that meet the same identical criteria. Why are they not eligible for reparations?
For those Jews able to meet the eligibility requirements, the Hardship Fund provides a one-time payment of 2,556 Euros.
But the Article 2 Fund provides much more even than that ~ a lifetime pension of 300 Euros a month. According to the CC website, the Article 2 Fund “is limited to Jewish Holocaust survivors” (apparently Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and non-Jewish homosexuals or disabled do not qualify, whereas these groups are included in the Swiss Banks settlement) that meet certain eligibility requirements. These include those who:
* Were “in hiding for at least 18 months” under “inhumane conditions, without access to the outside world” either in “German Nazi-occupied territory” or in “Nazi satellite states”
* Lived “illegally under false identity or with false papers for at least 18 months” again in a Nazi-occupied territory or satellite state
Interesting to note is that the 18-month requirements in the three conditions above were reduced ~ to 12 months ~ as of January 1 this year.
In addition, Article 2 pensions are available to those who “were incarcerated for at least six months” in different categories of facilities, including a “concentration camp as defined in accordance with the German Federal Indemnification Law,” or BEG, as well as various other types of camps or forced labor battalions that are defined under different criteria and located in various geographic regions.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Have no doubt about the latter point. Initially, the German Government Ghetto Fund and the Ghetto Pension were set up to be mutually exclusive. People could apply for and receive one or the other, but not both. However, this stipulation has since been done away with. Now those who were confined to a ghetto may receive a pension and a one-time payment!
And then we come to the matter of stolen property. Restitution for stolen or confiscated property has been an ongoing issue since even before the war ended, and efforts to recoup losses have met with varying degrees of success depending on country. According to one source:
The process was helped along by restitution laws passed by the allied occupation powers from 1947 to 1950. Then in 1957, West Germany passed the BRÜG law to provide “compensation for moveable property stolen by the Nazis, which the claimant could identify but could no longer locate.” This included household goods, bank accounts, jewelry, and securities. Over the years the BRÜG was gradually expanded, with a major change coming in 1994 when the law was expanded to include property stolen in the former East Germany.
By 1954, the value of recovered property amounted to roughly 1 billion DM, or $150 million at late-1930s value. But by 1997, payments under the BRÜG reportedly stood at about 4 billion DM, paid out to roughly 750,000 claimants. The figure amounts to about $400 million in 1930s values.
Then came “the second round” starting in the 1990s. In 1992, the World Jewish Restitution Organization was formed with the purpose of putting the squeeze on the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe.
When it came to returning or paying for stolen assets, however, the negotiations with European countries and businesses were long and arduous. From the mid-1990s to 2006, only some $3.4 billion was pledged to restore unpaid assets directly to survivors or their heirs or as humanitarian funds to account for the many potential claimants who after fifty years lacked proof and/or knowledge of the stolen assets.  Most humanitarian funds were designated to support needy survivors, with some money going to help reestablish European Jewish communities. In addition to these pledges, about half a billion dollars was paid via a few high-profile individual art and real estate legal cases, bringing the total to nearly $4 billion.
Another milestone came in 2009 when the Conference on Holocaust Era Assets was held in Prague, attended by 46 nations. Forty-three of them ended up signing a set of guidelines that included:
a) recognition of “the legitimate Jewish owners of property seized by the Nazis and their collaborators”;b) the establishment of “transparent and accessible claims processes”;c) allowing full and free access to national archives by claimants;d) the awarding of “full title or fair compensation” for those successful in pressing their claims; and finally,
e) “consider allocating the proceeds from unclaimed and heirless property to benefit Holocaust survivors in need.”One question of course is how much Palestinian property has been stolen in the last 64 years. Would it amount to “27,600 trainloads”?
It is of course outside the scope of this article to document every crime committed by Israel against the Palestinians in the last 64 years, but these crimes include looted property, land confiscation, house demolition, indefinite detention, murder and torture.
Jewish author Norman Finkelstein has suggested that German reparations to the Jews could ~ and should ~ serve as a legal precedent to Israeli reparations to the Palestinians.
Of course since Sharett made his proposal, 60 years have elapsed ~ 60 years in which the crimes have mounted up. Finkelstein continues:
The issue of reparations has also been addressed in the Jerusalem Sabeel Document, drawn up in 2006 by the Palestinian Christian movement Sabeel. Listed in the document are a total of seven “Principles” the organization feels are necessary in order to achieve peace.
I would suggest the time has come for Jews, or at any rate those who claim to hold “Jewish values” (whatever those are), to raise their voices and call for reparations to the Palestinians.