Preface to German paperback edition of The Holocaust Industry

Excerpt:

Indeed, The Holocaust Industry forecasts billions in residuals while simultaneously avowing that it can’t even afford health care for elderly Holocaust victims. Decrying the squandering of their compensation monies, 20,000 Holocaust victims formed a new organization in June 2001, Holocaust Survivors Foundation – USA, “to ensure that billions of dollars raised for survivors are paid to survivors.” The Foundation’s secretary, Leo Rechter, charged that Holocaust survivors, as well as “foreign governments,” had been “duped for decades into believing” that the Claims Conference “had OUR interests at heart.” The Foundation’s president, David Schaecter, deplored that many aging Holocaust survivors live in “desperate conditions” while “the Claims Conference has allocated only a minuscule fraction of the billions it has acquired in the name of Holocaust survivors.” It’s “not right” for Holocaust survivors to lack health care, said the Foundation’s chairman, Joe Sachs, “when millions are spent building institutions in remote locations such as Siberia and hundreds of millions are spent on dubious purpose projects around the world.” These doubtful undertakings included “$1.5 million to the ‘Yiddish Theater’ in Tel Aviv,” “$1 million to the ‘Mordechai Anielevich Memorial’ in Israel,” “hundreds of thousands of dollars for a study of the history of pre-war yeshivot,” and “over a half million dollars for a ‘Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture’ in New York, which is twice as much as the recent allocation to all needy survivors in Florida.” Scoring The Holocaust Industry for “moving in and trying to get money for their favorite charities rather than giving money to people in whose name they obtained it,” Rechter rhetorically asked if negotiators for The Holocaust Industry informed their opposites that a “sizable chunk” of the compensation monies would be spent not on survivors but “pet projects”?


Two central theses inform The Holocaust Industry. First, it is the responsibility of Germans – but of Germans alone – to come to grips with their past. In The German Catastrophe, Friedrich Meinecke observes that Nazi Germany was not uniquely evil inasmuch as the “amoral element” at its core infected the whole of Western civilization. “This truth,” he nonetheless cautions, “ought not to be a justification for us Germans…. Ethical as well as historical considerations demand that we Germans should mind our own business and seek to understand Germany’s special part in it.” (1) The reverse equally applies: ethical and historical considerations demand that the United States, e.g., should mind its own business. Yet, although only too willing to supervise Germany’s national reckoning, Americans are neither willing nor able to conceive a comparable responsibility. In her speech marking the conclusion of the German slave-labor negotiations, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained that it was “in the foreign policy interests of the United States to take steps to address the consequences of the Nazi era, to learn the lessons of, and teach the world about, this dark chapter in Germany’s history and to seek to ensure that it never happens again.” (2) Indeed, it would also be in the “foreign policy interests” of most of humanity if the U.S. examined the “dark chapters” in its past. While Germans struggle daily with their historical crimes, Americans have yet even to recognize most of theirs. In mainstream American discourse on Vietnam, the only question asked is when the Vietnamese will acknowledge what they did to us. (3) In other words, we Americans are at the moral level of Himmler’s Posen speech.

The second central thesis of The Holocaust Industry is that American Jewish elites exploit the Nazi holocaust for political and financial gain. In The Question of German Guilt, Karl Jaspers maintained that the “indictment” of Germany “is no longer a true bill” if it becomes “a weapon used… for other purposes, political or economic.” (emphasis in original) (4) Although Germans clearly have a responsibility to confront the horrors of Nazism, they also have a right to resist the exploitation of these crimes.

In The Holocaust Industry, I report how American Jewish organizations, institutions, and prominent individuals have instrumentalized the Nazi holocaust to shield Israel from criticism and, more recently, to blackmail Europe. The main criticism of the book was not that I got the facts wrong but that in depicting this coordinated undertaking I had contrived a “conspiracy theory.” In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith observes that capitalists “seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” sDoes this also make Smith’s classic a “conspiracy theory”? (5)

***

Since publication of the German edition of The Holocaust Industry new developments have confirmed my main contentions. In October 2001 the Claims Resolution Tribunal (CRT), adjudicating claims on Swiss accounts dormant since the end of World War II, released its findings on an initial list of 5,570 foreign accounts. It found that the current value with accrued interest of accounts belonging to Holocaust victims totaled all of $10 million. This figure is unlikely to climb anywhere near the $1.25 billion extracted from the Swiss banks in the final settlement (let alone the $7-20 billion initially demanded) after claims are resolved on the remaining 21,000 Holocaust-era dormant and closed accounts. Reporting on the CRT’s findings, the London Times headline read: “Swiss Holocaust cash revealed to be myth.” The weight of the evidence supports Raul Hilberg’s charge that the World Jewish Congress conjured up “phenomenal figures” and then “blackmailed” the Swiss banks into submission. (6) With only the tiniest fraction of the $1.25 billion in the Swiss settlement being paid out to Holocaust victims or heirs, the battle among blackmailers has predictably begun over who gets to keep the Holocaust booty. Caught in the crossfire is, interestingly enough, the blackmailers’ victim. Claiming that Israel is the rightful recipient and that “I don’t trust the World Jewish Congress,” Israel’s Minister of Justice is demanding that “the deal with the Swiss banks…be renegotiated.” (7)

The blackmail tactics of Stuart Eizenstat, The Holocaust Industry‘s chief liaison with the Clinton administration (where he served as Deputy Treasury Secretary), proved less effective against the French. France’s Matteoli Commission had identified 64,000 banks accounts possibly belonging to Holocaust victims – a figure significantly higher than the 25,000 in the Swiss case. Yet, despite demands that “shocked” the French, Eizenstat – working against the clock in the last hours of the Clinton presidency – was only able to extort a relatively modest payment beyond what was actually owed Holocaust victims. In a “Statement of Interest” annexed to the final agreement, Eisenstadt underlined that “the United States’ interests include…a fair and prompt resolution” of the claims of Holocaust victims against France “to bring some measure of justice in their lifetimes.” A noble interest to be sure but, alas, it didn’t extend to the claims of Holocaust victims against the United States. Juxtaposing the records of the U.S. and Switzerland especially highlights this hypocrisy. (8)

In May 1998 a Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets was charged by Congress with “conducting original research on the fate of assets taken from victims of the Holocaust that came into the possession of the U.S. Federal government” and “advising the President on policies that should be adopted to make restitution to the rightful owners of stolen property or their heirs.” (9) In December 2000 the Commission, chaired by Edgar Bronfman (who orchestrated the assault on the Swiss banks), released the long-awaited report. Entitled Plunder and Restitution: The U.S. and Holocaust Victims’ Assets, (10) it purports to demonstrate that “the United States has asked of itself no less than it has asked of the international community.” (11) In fact, a close reading of the document points to the opposite conclusion: although the United States was culpable of all the offenses it alleged against the Swiss, no comparable demands have been imposed on the U.S. for Holocaust restitution. (12)

The Presidential Commission unfavorably compares the “intransigence of the Swiss banks” with the “extraordinary efforts” of the United States to return Holocaust-era assets. (13) I want first to compare the charges leveled against the Swiss with the American record as revealed in the Commission report.

Denial of access to Holocaust-era assets

The Holocaust Industry alleged that the Swiss banks systematically denied Holocaust survivors and heirs access to their accounts after World War II. The Volcker Committee concluded that, apart from marginal exceptions, the charge lacked merit. (14) On the other hand, the Presidential Commission found that after the war “many” Holocaust survivors and heirs couldn’t recover their assets in the United States due to the “expense and difficulty in filing” a claim. (From 1941 the Federal government had blocked or vested the assets of all nationals from Nazi-occupied countries.) (15) As with the Swiss banks, in “some instances” the federal government sought out rightful owners. (16)

Destruction of Holocaust-era asset records

The Holocaust Industry alleged that, to cover their tracks, the Swiss banks systematically destroyed essential records. The Volcker Committee concluded that the charge lacked merit. (17)

On the other hand, the United States did destroy crucial “raw data.” After the U.S. declared war on the Axis, the Treasury Department required American financial institutions to submit detailed descriptions of all foreign-owned assets on deposit. The Commission reports that these forms – fully 565,000 – “have been destroyed, and the staff’s investigations have uncovered no duplicates. As a result, it is not possible to estimate the amount of victims’ assets in the United States in 1941.” The Commission is strangely silent on when or why these documents were destroyed. (18)

Misappropriation of Holocaust-era assets

The Holocaust Industry justly accused Switzerland of using monies belonging to Holocaust victims from Poland and Hungary as compensation for Swiss properties nationalized by these governments. (19) Yet, the Presidential Commission reports that this happened in the United States as well: “[C]ompensation for U.S. assets lost in Europe took precedence over compensation for foreign-owned assets frozen in the United States. Congress regarded frozen German assets as a source from which to pay U.S. war claims for damages suffered by American businesses and individuals….Thus, U.S. war claims were paid in part by German assets that likely included [Holocaust] victims’ assets.” (20)

Trading in looted Nazi gold

The Holocaust Industry justly accused the Swiss of purchasing Nazi gold looted from the central treasuries of Europe. (21) Yet, the Presidential Commission reports that the United States did so as well. In fact, trading in looted Nazi gold was official U.S. policy until Germany’s declaration of war precluded the practice. The relevant passage from the Commission report merits extended quotation:

The German invasion of France, Belgium and the Netherlands in May of 1940, prompted Mr. Pinsent, Financial Counselor at the British Embassy, to send a note to the Treasury Department to inquire of Mr Morgenthau [Treasury Secretary] “whether he would be prepared to scrutinize the gold imports with a view to rejecting those suspected of German origin,” as Pinsent explicitly feared that the private hoards of Dutch and Belgian gold might fall into German hands. In a June 4, 1940 memo, Harry Dexter White [head of the Division of Monetary Research] explained why the U.S. Treasury did not raise questions about the origin of “German” gold….The most effective contribution the United States could make to keep gold as an international exchange medium, White argued, “is to maintain its inviolability and the unquestioned acceptance of gold as a means of settling international balances.” Indeed, six months later White would scornfully write of his “adamant opposition to give even serious consideration to proposals from those who know little of the subject that we stop purchasing gold, or that we stop buying the gold of any particular country, for this or for that or for any particular reason.” In early 1941, White was asked again, through an internal Treasury memorandum, to consider the question “whose gold are we buying?” but from his memos it is clear that the answer was an “unquestioned acceptance of gold.” (22)

The Holocaust Industry also justly alleged that the Swiss purchased Nazi gold looted from Holocaust victims. (There was no evidence, however, that the Swiss knowingly purchased this “victim gold;” its total worth in current values was put at about a million dollars.) (23) The Presidential Commission similarly reports that “it is possible that gold bars and coins purchased by the Department of Treasury through the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, during and after the war contained trace amounts of gold items looted from victims of Nazism.” (24)

In sum, the Presidential Commission’s report demonstrates that the United States was guilty of all the charges leveled by The Holocaust Industry against Switzerland.

The Holocaust Industry forced the Swiss banks to conduct an exhaustive, external audit costing a half billion dollars in order to locate all unclaimed Holocaust-era assets. Before this audit was even completed, The Holocaust Industry forced a $1.25 billion settlement on the Swiss. (25) Yet, the Volcker Committee reported that, alongside Switzerland, the United States was also a primary safe haven for Jewish assets in Europe. (26) Compare now the demands imposed on the United States.

As noted above, the Presidential Commission claimed that its “work…demonstrates that the United States has asked of itself no less than it has asked of the international community.” The Commission did not, however, undertake a comprehensive accounting of unclaimed Holocaust-era assets in the United States. The report maintains that it wasn’t the Commission’s mandate “to mechanistically quantify or assign dollar values to perceived historical shortcomings in U.S. policy making or implementation.” (27) Indeed, it ostensibly couldn’t do so owing to the “necessary compromise between research goals and the time and resources available to complete them,” and the “paucity and uneven quality of documentation at its disposal.” (28) Inexplicably, Switzerland could, but the United States couldn’t, finesse these obstacles. (What prevented a greater allocation of “time and resources,” or a Swiss-style audit to fill the document gap?) (29) Likewise, an accurate reckoning of returned Holocaust-era assets would have required “systematic investigations that fell beyond the capacities” (30) of the Commission – but not beyond the capacities of the Swiss banks.

The Commission reports that the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) only “reluctantly accepted” the $500,000 compensation offered by the US government in the early 1960s for unclaimed Holocaust-era assets. (31) Although the report findings support Seymour Rubin’s contention that the $500,000 figure was “very low,” (32) the Commission predictably concludes that the paltry compensation wasn’t “attributable to bad motives on the part of any official, agent or institution of the United States.” (33) The report never once proposes that the United States should in fact pay more compensation, to say nothing of an amount comparable to the $1.25 billion extracted from the Swiss.

The Presidential Commission includes a list of noble recommendations. (34) At war’s end, American GIs stationed in Europe engaged in massive looting. (35) One recommendation calls on the federal government “to develop, in concert with veterans’ service organizations, a program to promote the voluntary return of victims’ assets that may have been taken by former members of the armed forces as war souvenirs.” No doubt veterans are already queuing up to return the booty. A final recommendation calls on the United States to “continue its leadership to promote the international community’s commitment to addressing asset restitution issues.” After this report, one could be forgiven for concluding that American leadership is a curse rather than a blessing.

***

In my book I maintained that, in the recent negotiations with Germany, The Holocaust Industry inflated both the number of former Jewish slave-laborers alive at war’s end and those still alive today. In fact, the Claims Conference effectively concedes this. Professor Yehuda Bauer, former director of Yad Vashem (Israel’s main Holocaust research institute), currently serves as the Claims Conference’s advisor on Holocaust education. In his just-released study, Rethinking The Holocaust, Bauer “estimate[s] that at the end of World War II about 200,000 Jews emerged form the Nazi concentration and slave labor camps and had survived the death marches.” Although rather higher than standard estimates, Bauer’s figure is still impossible to reconcile with The Holocaust Industry’s claim during negotiations that 700,000 Jewish slave-laborers survived the war and 140,000 remain among the living 50 years later. (36) Even Holocaust survivor organizations are decrying that The Holocaust Industry jacked up the number of survivors during negotiations only to drop the number once it had the compensation monies earmarked for Holocaust survivors in hand: “Why during the negotiations were the numbers of actual Shoah survivors so vastly exaggerated and why were the negotiators so fearful that the press and the German and Swiss opponents might challenge their proclaimed survivors’ statistics?” (37) This inflation now exceeds that of the Weimar years with the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, J.D. Bindenagel, proclaiming that “in the postwar years many millions of Holocaust victims were caught behind the Iron Curtain.” (38)

Those Germans who believed that paying the extortion money and publicly heaping praise on The Holocaust Industry for its moral righteousness would finally close the chapter on Holocaust compensation are in for a surprise. The Holocaust Industry is now greedily eyeing the $350 million in the settlement set aside for a German foundation promoting tolerance (“Fund for the Future”). Leading the charge is Rabbi Israel Singer, vice-president of the Claims Conference. Maintaining that “it is the job of the Jewish community to challenge parts of the settlement it does not agree with,” this mastermind of The Holocaust Industry’s blackmail strategy opined: “I don’t believe we should play by the rules of the Germans.” Small wonder that even fellow Jews, according to Singer, “describe me as a gangster.” (39)

Total attorney fees in the German settlement came to $60 million. Melvyn I. Weiss and Michael Hausfeld led the pack with, respectively, $7.3 million and $5.8 million, while at least 10 others clocked in at more than $1 million. Professor Burt Neuborne of New York University reflected that his $5 million fee was “not particularly high” – especially as compared with the German settlement’s allocation of $5,000 to $7,000 for a survivor of Auschwitz. Lagging behind with a piddling $4.3 million, Robert Swift waxed philosophical about his “minimal by any standard” payment: “Not everything you do in life can be measured in dollars and cents.” Looking elsewhere for solace, one enterprising attorney sold the story of his client to Hollywood’s Mike Ovitz, former president of Disney. Stuart Eizenstat went on to defend the lawyers’ fees as “exceedingly modest.” Holocaust survivors thought otherwise. “If only half the amount, or about $30 million, could have been saved on attorneys’ fees,” a survivor organization editorialized, “it could have been used to establish one or several health-care centers for ailing Survivors. Shame on these unconscionable fees!” (40)

It’s a mistake, however, to focus exclusively on the misdeeds of the Holocaust lawyers. This has been The Holocaust Industry’s main strategy for diverting attention from itself as the ugly truth seeps out. (Success is almost guaranteed in the U.S., where lawyers are universally reviled.) In fact, the class-action lawyers together have pocketed less than two percent of the various Holocaust settlements. The real thieves are the interlocking directorates of The Holocaust Industry’s affiliate organizations like the Claims Conference and the World Jewish Congress (WJC).

In The Holocaust Industry I document the Claims Conference’s misuse of compensation monies from its inception in the early 1950s. None of these findings has been substantively refuted, (41) while recent developments conform to the established pattern. In November 2001 the WJC announced that it had collected $11 billion in Holocaust compensation and expected the figure eventually to reach some $14 billion. (It’s unclear whether these figures include the tens of thousands of properties worth billions of dollars that the Claims Conference is still contesting in Germany.) The Holocaust Industry is now “debating not whether, but how,” to use the “probably billions” in “leftovers” after needy Holocaust victims “pass from the scene.” (42) It’s hard to figure how The Holocaust Industry already knows that there will be “probably billions” in residuals if – as it also maintains – nearly a million indigent Holocaust survivors are still alive and “tens of thousands” are “likely to be alive” in 2035. (43)

Indeed, The Holocaust Industry forecasts billions in residuals while simultaneously avowing that it can’t even afford health care for elderly Holocaust victims. Decrying the squandering of their compensation monies, 20,000 Holocaust victims formed a new organization in June 2001, Holocaust Survivors Foundation – USA, “to ensure that billions of dollars raised for survivors are paid to survivors.” The Foundation’s secretary, Leo Rechter, charged that Holocaust survivors, as well as “foreign governments,” had been “duped for decades into believing” that the Claims Conference “had OUR interests at heart.” The Foundation’s president, David Schaecter, deplored that many aging Holocaust survivors live in “desperate conditions” while “the Claims Conference has allocated only a minuscule fraction of the billions it has acquired in the name of Holocaust survivors.” It’s “not right” for Holocaust survivors to lack health care, said the Foundation’s chairman, Joe Sachs, “when millions are spent building institutions in remote locations such as Siberia and hundreds of millions are spent on dubious purpose projects around the world.” These doubtful undertakings included “$1.5 million to the ‘Yiddish Theater’ in Tel Aviv,” “$1 million to the ‘Mordechai Anielevich Memorial’ in Israel,” “hundreds of thousands of dollars for a study of the history of pre-war yeshivot,” and “over a half million dollars for a ‘Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture’ in New York, which is twice as much as the recent allocation to all needy survivors in Florida.” Scoring The Holocaust Industry for “moving in and trying to get money for their favorite charities rather than giving money to people in whose name they obtained it,” Rechter rhetorically asked if negotiators for The Holocaust Industry informed their opposites that a “sizable chunk” of the compensation monies would be spent not on survivors but “pet projects”?

“Representatives of the Jewish organizations, which ostensibly conducted the worthy campaign to set up the compensation funds, did not do this out of deep concern for Holocaust survivors or their heirs,” Knesset member Michael Kleiner told the Israeli parliament amid Jewish infighting for the Holocaust booty. “The real aim was not to restore Jewish property to its legal owners. The representatives of the organizations did everything possible to ensure that the money that was taken and the Jewish property would come into their own coffers instead of going to their lawful owners. In this way, the representatives of the Jewish bodies hoped to breathe new life into their organizations and the lives of luxury to which they have become accustomed.” Israel’s eminent daily, Haaretz, similarly commented that “at times it seems that the Holocaust has become a tool in the hands of the large Jewish organizations to obtain funds for the favorite projects of the organizations’ leaders.” (44)

***

The Holocaust Industry has designated “Holocaust education” the main beneficiary of compensation monies. In my book, I wrote that much of Holocaust literature is “worthless as scholarship.” Deploring that “American publishers put out a multitude of worthless books, like the testimonies of Holocaust survivors who were seven years old at the time,” Hilberg goes on to observe that “in the United States no one is really interested in learning anything new about this historical epoch,” and that “today the really serious Holocaust scholarship comes out of Germany.” (45)

A sampling of recent Holocaust literature confirms the harshest verdicts:

1. Sir Martin Gilbert’s latest contribution to Holocaust literature, Never Again: A History of the Holocaust, was selected by The Holocaust Industry for distribution in Lithuania. An inset in the book posits this pearl of embarrassingly insipid chauvinism: “I think that European Jews were the most knowledgeable people on earth because they wanted to know about the world around them.” Consider these chapter headings: “Warsaw Ghetto Revolt,” “Ghetto Revolts,” “Escape to the Partisans,” “Jewish Resistance Movements,” “Jews in the Allied Armies,” “Jews in the National Resistance Movement,” “Death Camp Revolts,” “Jews in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.” From Jews going to their deaths “like sheep to slaughter” we now have Jews going to their deaths like “Rambo-witz.” (46)

2. As noted above, Yehuda Bauer is former director of Holocaust research at Yad Vashem and currently advises the Claims Conference on Holocaust education. In the crowning achievement of his life’s work, Rethinking the Holocaust, Bauer manages both to affirm and deny every major thesis on the Nazi extermination of the Jews: it can and can’t be rationally understood; did and didn’t spring from the Enlightenment and French Revolution; was and wasn’t comparable to the extermination of the Gypsies…. He bizarrely criticizes “most of German historiography” on the Nazi holocaust because it “avoids the murder itself and instead agonizes over who decided what and when regarding the murder of the Jews.” Finally, Bauer offers this profound insight into Himmler’s motivation: “If all humans contain in themselves the seeds of attitudes that we term positive and negative, we can explain Himmler as a person in whom the negative elements manifested themselves in extreme form, undoubtedly as a result of the confluence of social and personal-individual factors.” (47)

3. Guenter Lewy’s study, The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies, was acclaimed by Holocaust historian Saul Friedlander for its “great compassion.” The central thesis of Lewy’s book is that Gypsies didn’t suffer like the Jews – indeed, didn’t even suffer a genocide – during World War II. The argument goes like this: Gypsies were ruthlessly slaughtered by the Einsatzgruppen like the Jews, but only because they were suspected of spying; Gypsies were deported to Auschwitz like the Jews, but only “to get rid of them, not to kill them;” Gypsies were gassed at Chelmno like the Jews, but only because they had contracted typhus; most of the few remaining Gypsies were sterilized like the Jews, not however to prevent their propagation but only to “prevent contamination of ‘German blood.'” It’s not hard to imagine the public and scholarly reaction if one replaced Gypsies with Jews in Lewy’s book. (48)

4. The latest book by Richard Overy, a highly regarded British professor of contemporary history, is entitled Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945. In this otherwise exhaustively annotated collection of documents relating to the Nuremberg trials, Overy reproduces without critical comment the testimony of Franz Blaha, a Czech doctor imprisoned at Dachau, that there were “many executions by gas or shooting or injections.” As it happens, Blaha was the only person who testified about the Dachau gas chamber at the 1945 Dachau trial. Pre-trial, he said there had been one experimental gassing, and he had seen two dead, two unconscious, and three sitting upright in the chamber. At the trial itself he testified to seeing 8-10 people in the chamber, of whom three were still alive. Only later at Nuremberg did he report many executions by gas. It’s precisely this sort of slipshod scholarship that renders Holocaust denial credible. Indeed, the meticulous handling of sources is much more important than grandstanding about the perils of Holocaust deniers. (49)

The purpose of Holocaust education is naturally to “learn the lessons of the Holocaust.” But what lessons does The Holocaust Industry want us to learn? One important lesson is to prioritize the struggle against anti-Semitism – unless it pays not to. Thus, while urging the world community to boycott Austria after Joerg Haider’s Freedom Party joined the governing coalition, The Holocaust Industry was happily negotiating a compensation agreement in Vienna. Upon cutting a deal Stuart Eizenstat heaped praised on the Austrian government for having “shown leadership not just in Austria, but leadership to the rest of Europe and to the world about how one can reconcile with one’s past, and how one can heal wounds even many decades later.” (50) Another important lesson is “do not compare” the Holocaust with other crimes – unless comparing is politically expedient. Thus, a Holocaust industry periodical compared the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center with “the ordeal of WWII and the suffering of the Shoah,” while Atlantic Monthly pondered whether bin Laden or Hitler stood higher on the “hierarchy of evil,” and The New York Times Magazine opined that Islamic fundamentalism was “a more formidable enemy than Nazism.” (51) Yet another lesson is to remember the Nazi genocide – but forget all other genocides. Thus Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres dismissed Turkey’s systematic extermination of Armenians as mere “allegations,” and Armenian accounts of the mass slaughter as “meaningless.” (52) And still another lesson is to keep vigilant for crimes against humanity – except those committed by your own government. Thus, while the U.S.’s uncontrollable power wreaks havoc on much of humanity, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council “urged the United States to focus on ‘the threat of genocide’ in Sudan.” (53) Finally, the Israeli military is learning a most instructive Holocaust lesson. To repress Palestinian resistance to the 35-year-long occupation, a senior Israeli officer called on the army to “analyze and internalize the lessons of…how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto.” (54)

One authentic lesson of the Nazi holocaust is, I think, quite simple: Speak truth to power. In the current climate of “Holocaust correctness” and intimidation, the personal and professional toll can be considerable. But the price of silence is plainly worse. The Holocaust Industry’s misrepresentations and lies foster Holocaust denial; its blackmail and huckstering foment anti-Semitism; its hypocrisy and double standards preclude meaningful precepts. The sooner The Holocaust Industry is shut down, the better off all of us – Jews and non-Jews – will be.

Norman G. Finkelstein
February 2002

Notes

1. Friedrich Meinecke, The German Catastrophe: Reflections and Recollections, trans. by Sidney B. Fay (Cambridge: 1950), p. 53.

2. U.S. Department of State, “Statement by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright” (20 October 2000).

3. Upon departing for Vietnam in November 2000, President Bill Clinton announced that his “one central priority” was “gaining the fullest accounting of American prisoners of war and Americans missing in action in Southeast Asia.” The New York Times earlier reported that Clinton would be “the first president to step onto Vietnamese soil since the end of the war there that took 58,000 American lives.” Fortunately no Vietnamese died. An American expert on Agent Orange visiting Vietnam a few months later worried that U.S.-Vietnamese relations might be jeopardized by Hanoi’s call for humanitarian assistance for the one million Vietnamese victims (including 150,000 children) of Agent Orange: “If cleanup was deemed necessary, if health care was necessary, if compensation was necessary, it would become very expensive.” To be sure, Clinton did “pledge to give Vietnam a computer system with information on where U.S. forces stored or sprayed Agent Orange.” Even the eminent U.S-based humanitarian organization, Human Rights Watch, only “urged” Clinton to press Vietnam on its human rights’ responsibilities. (David E. Sanger, “Settling a Goal of Reconciliation, Clinton Plans a November Trip to Vietnam,” in New York Times, 15 November 2000 (“58,000″), Seth Mydans, “Clinton to Try to Juggle Past Horrors and Future Hopes on Vietnam Visit,” in New York Times (16 November 2000) (“priority”),”Official: 70 Percent of Agent Orange child victims have not received aid,” in Associated Press 30 May 2001 (“150,000″), Tini Tran, “U.S., Vietnam hold second meeting on Agent Orange research,” in Associated Press (2 July 2001) (“very expensive”), Press Release, Human Rights Watch (10 November 2000).

4. Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt (New York: 1961), trans. by E.B. Ashton, p. 45.

5. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (New York: 2000), intro. by Robert Reich, p. 148. It bears parenthetical mention that a “conspiracy theory” is not prima facie absurd, at any rate in Anglo-American jurisprudence. Indeed, “participation in a common plan or conspiracy” to commit aggression was the centerpiece of the prosecution’s indictment at the Nuremberg trial.

6. Claims Resolution Tribunal For Dormant Accounts In Switzerland, “The Claims Resolution Tribunal has fulfilled its initial project” (press release, no date). Adam Sage and Roger Boyes, “Swiss Holocaust cash revealed to be myth” in The Times (13 October 2001). “Comment s’ecrira desormais l’histoire de l’Holocauste? Entretien avec l’auteur de ‘La destruction des juifs d’Europe,'” in Liberation (Paris, 15 September 2001) (“spectacular figures”). “Holocaust Expert Says Swiss Banks Are Paying Too Much,” in Deutsche Presse-Agentur (28 January 1999) (“blackmail”). As of November 2001 the CRT has awarded another $3.5 million against claims on the remaining 21,000 accounts. (personal communication from Viejo Heiskanen, Secretary General of the CRT, 21 January 2002)
By all indications, The Holocaust Industry has been pursuing against European insurance companies a strategy identical to its Swiss blackmail campaign, a topic I will return to in a future publication. Meanwhile the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) is embroiled in scandal as it has spent more than $30 million on administrative expenses – including multiple international conferences lasting no more than 24 hours with first-class accommodations and business-class flight arrangements – while distributing only $3 million to Holocaust claimants. (Commission head Lawrence Eagleburger pockets an annual salary of $350,000.) Shrugging off the criticism, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, Elan Steinberg, said that the “bill is footed by the insurance companies and banks” – i.e. “It’s on the goyim.” (Yair Sheleg, “Profits of doom,” in Haaretz (29 June 2001), Henry Weinstein, “Spending by Holocaust Claims Panel Criticized,” in Los Angeles Times (17 May 2001)). Apart from its vulgarity, the statement is almost certainly untrue: under the German settlement’s terms, administrative expenses are deducted from the $100 million total allotment to policy-holders. Typically, The Holocaust Industry is now demanding that the German insurers foot its vacation bills.

7. Pierre Heumann, “Israel fordert neuen Bankenvergleich,” in Weltwoche (I0 January 2002) (“trust” “renegotiated”).

8. “Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of France concerning Payments for Certain Losses Suffered During World War II.” (18 January 2001) Jonathan Wright, “U.S., France sign deal on Jewish bank claims” in Reuters (18 January 2001) (“shocked”). Apart from establishing a procedure similar to that of the CRT for resolving claims on dormant accounts, the French earmarked about $100 million (Euro 100 million) for a Holocaust foundation.

9. For background, see p. 119 of the English paperback edition. The commission was formed at the peak of U.S. pressures on the Swiss banks and in the face of Swiss criticism that the U.S. was itself not blameless in the matter of Holocaust compensation.
10. Washington, DC. (Hereafter: P&R) It is divided into two parts: “Findings and Recommendations,” and “Staff Report”. Page numbers for the Staff Report are denoted “SR”.

11. P&R, p. 5.

12. It bears passing notice that this report is replete with the hyperbole typical of Holocaust industry publications. Thus the Holocaust is deemed “the greatest mass theft in history.” (P&R: SR-3) The entire United States was built on land stolen from the indigenous population, and U.S. industrial development was fueled by centuries of unpaid labor of African-Americans in the cotton industry: Did the Commission reckon these thefts in its calculations?

13. P&R, pp. 4, 5.

14. See pp. 111-12 of the English paperback edition. Even after publication of the Volcker Committee’s findings, Professor Gerald Feldman from Berkeley still denounced Switzerland for having “handled its accounts with Jews in an utterly abominable fashion.” Indeed, Feldman fulsomely praised the American role in securing Holocaust compensation from Europe yet passed over in silence that, as seen below, the Presidential Commission – on which Feldman served as an “outside expert” (P&R, p. 48) – documented that every count of the indictment against the Swiss applied with equal or greater force to the U.S., and the Commission made no comparable demands on the U.S. for Holocaust compensation. (“Reparations, Restitution, and Compensation in the Aftermath of National Socialism, 1945-2000″ (The Holocaust Center of Northern California, 10 February 2001)). Apart from his affiliation with the U.S. Presidential Commission, Feldman sits on the Commissions of the Bank Austria and the Deutsche Bank; for Feldman’s multiple Holocaust-related consultancies, see www.NormanFinkelstein.com under “The Holocaust Industry” (“Prof. Gerald Feldman – Another Holocaust huckster?”).

15. P&R, pp. 11-12; SR-167-8. The report also observes: “No noticeable relaxation of the rules or procedures facilitated victims’ claims….Heirs faced more challenges than named account holders. Many case histories demonstrated that the initial claimant died during the claim process. In those cases,…further investigations…delayed cases.”

16. P&R: SR-170. See pp. 111-2 of the English paperback edition.

17. See p.112 of the English paperback edition.

18. P&R: SR-4, SR-213-14.

19. See pp. 97-8 of the English paperback edition.

20. P&R, p. 12; SR-6, SR-170.

21. See pp. 96-7, 108-9 of the English paperback edition.

22. P&R: SR-51.

23. See pp. 97, 110-11of the English paperback edition.

24. P&R: SR-214.

25. For details, see pp. 89-120 passim of the English paperback edition.

26. See pp. 114-15 of the English paperback edition.

27. P&R: p. 7.

28. P&R: p. 19; SR-212-13.

29. The Commission merely conducted a “pilot project matching the names of a limited list of Holocaust victims with a list of escheated property maintained by the State of New York…This procedure…yielded 18 matches of names of victims with dormant bank accounts in the State of New York…the value of these accounts ranges from a few dollars to five thousand dollars.” (Under the doctrine of escheat, American banks are supposed to transfer abandoned dormant accounts to the respective state government.) In addition, the Commission reached an agreement with major banks “defining suggested best practices to be used by banks when they search for Holocaust assets.” Under this accord, banks volunteering to participate are supposed to conduct “their own investigations” of relevant records, and inform state officials of any Holocaust-era dormant accounts found. An abyss plainly separates these “suggested best practices” from the exhaustive, external audit imposed on the Swiss banks. Remarkably, the agreement even provides that cooperating banks don’t have to publicly report “the identity of the account holder” for “any accounts identified.” (P&R: pp. 3, 15-17)

30. P&R: SR-184n249.

31. P&R: SR-138. The JRSO was responsible for recovering heirless Holocaust-era assets after the war. Interestingly, the Commission reports that the JRSO claimed for itself property belonging to Holocaust survivors and their heirs:

Individuals sometimes discovered that the JRSO had submitted a claim for their property and they then turned to the successor organization for restitution; the JRSO handled over 4,800 such claims by 1955. After internal discussion, the JRSO agreed to restitute property to such claimants even though it had obtained title to such assets….It did, however, assess a service charge to the late petitioners to covers its costs. The fees depended on the relationship of the claimant to the former owner and the appraisal of the property. If the JRSO had actually recovered a property, a surcharge of ten percent augmented these costs (although the organization reduced this to five percent if a claimant was indigent). One claimant sharply criticized US authorities for “awarding” her property to the JRSO. She argued that she had not heard about the filing deadline until after it had passed, and instead discovered that “I shall be punished because the Occupation Army, for whom my husband and I pay plenty, deems it right to take my property and gives it to who knows whom.” The frustration and anger expressed in this letter likely mirrored the sentiments of other claimants who missed the deadline; individuals hurled “demands” and “protests” at the JRSO for the immediate return of their property. (P&R: SR-156)

A half century later the Jewish Claims Conference (successor to the JRSO) pursues the identical strategy to rob legitimate Jewish heirs of their properties in the former East Germany. See the references cited on p. 87n11 of the English paperback edition, and Netty Gross, “Time’s Running Out,” in Jerusalem Report (7 May 2001). Gross quotes one cheated Jewish heir that, “We are being robbed a second time. First by the Nazis and their collaborators….Now …we are being victimized by Jewish organizations…who have their own organizational interests at heart.” A newsletter of disgruntled Holocaust survivors makes the telling point that the Claims Conference, while denouncing European banks and insurance companies for not publishing full lists of potential claimants to Holocaust-era assets and not searching these claimants out, itself “never made an adequate effort to identify former Jewish owners” of the east German properties and “never published a list of Jewish property owners.” (NAHOS, The Newsletter of the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors, 1 November 2001 and NAHOS, Vol. 7, No. 14 (11 April 2001), p. 1 (emphasis in original))

32. P&R: SR-171. The quoted phrase comes from a statement by Seymour Rubin in 1959 (for Rubin, see pp. 115-16 of the English paperback edition). The JRSO ultimately acceded to this figure, according to Rubin, because Holocaust survivors were approaching death: “time is running out for these people.” The Holocaust Industry played the same “time is running out” tune during the Swiss banks shakedown. One might have thought that a half century later time had already run out. For suggestive evidence that the total value of unclaimed Holocaust-era assets ran much higher, see P&R: SR-6, SR-166-7, SR-172, SR-214-5.

33. P&R: p. 7.

34. P&R: pp. 21-6.

35. P&R: SR-117ff.

36. Yehuda Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust (New Haven: 2001), p. 246. For the Claims Conference figures, see pp. 127-8 of the English paperback edition. The likelihood is that only about 10 percent of the Jewish slave-laborers alive at war’s end still remain alive. This percentage is supported by recent estimates that during the war Germany’s Roman Catholic Church “used 10,000 forced laborers and about 1,000 are still alive” (New York Times, 8 November 2000). On this and related matters, see esp. Gunnar Heinsohn, Judische Sklavenarbeiter Hitlerdeutschlands – Wie Viele Uberlebten 1945 den Genozid Und Wie Viele Konnten Im Jahr 2000 Noch Leben?, Schriftenreihe des Raphael-Lemkin-Instituts Nr. 9 (Bremen: 2001); revealingly, Heinsohn reports that the German media suppressed serious discussion of the slave-labor numbers (p. 67).

37. NAHOS, Vol. 7, No. 18 (14 August 2001), p. 7. See also NAHOS, Vol. 7, No. 15 (11 May 2001), where the Claims Conference is upbraided for manipulating survivor numbers “depending on political exigencies” – e.g., to expedite negotiations The Holocaust Industry has lamented since the mid-1990s that “Holocaust survivors are dying every day” and “ten percent” are dying annually, yet to justify ever-escalating demands the number it sets forth for living Holocaust survivors increases from one year to the next. The real figure for former Jewish slave-laborers still alive will probably never be known since the German government has elected to only spot-check the applications for compensation submitted by the Claims Conference. (see Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance’s response to query of Martin Hohmann (CDU), 9 October 2001)

38. “Nun bitte auch zahlen,” in Die Zeit (12/2001).

39. Nacha Cattan, “Shoah ‘People’ Fund Attacked,” in The Forward (28 December 2001) (“rules”); Yair Sheleg, “Only he knows what needs to be done,” in Haaretz (9 November 2001) (“gangster”).

40. Jane Fritsch, “$52 Million for Lawyers’ Fees in Nazi-Era Slave-Labor Suits,” in New York Times (15 June 2001) (Neuborne), Daniel Wise, “$60 Million in Fees Awarded to Lawyers Who Negotiated $5 Billion Holocaust Fund,” in New York Law Journal (15 June 2001), Larry Neumeister, “Millions in legal fees awarded in slave labor cases,” in Associated Press (18 June 2001) (Eizenstat, Swift), Jonathan Goddard, “Holocaust lawyers make millions as the survivors wait,” in London Jewish News (22 June 2001), Jonathan Goddard, “Nazi Story Sold,” in London Jewish News (6 July 2001) (Hollywood), “The Survivors Belong At The Head Of The Table,” in NAHOS (1 November 2001), reprint of article originally published in Aufbau (28 March 2001) (survivors).

Criticizing the first edition of The Holocaust Industry, Professor Ulrich Herbert passionately defended attorney Michael Hausfeld on the grounds that without him “the Eastern European slave laborers would have had no chance of compensation.” In fact, the documentary record clearly shows that the Schroeder government was committed to compensating Eastern European slave-laborers before the Holocaust lawyers crashed the scene. (Indeed, already in 1992 the Kohl government voluntarily paid East European governments DM1.5 billion to compensate Nazi victims.) The unsung hero is not Hausfeld but Klaus von Munchhausen, who first pressed the German government on behalf of the Eastern European slave-laborers back in 1996, yet was sidelined by The Holocaust Industry in the slave-labor negotiations. In subsequent correspondence, Herbert (who served as Hausfeld’s researcher) did acknowledge that Hausfeld is “exceedingly interested in earning unimaginable amounts of money.” When this quote was reported to Hausfeld he – unsurprisingly – threatened to take “appropriate action” if I cited it. (Ulrich Herbert, “Vorschnelle Begeisterung – Ein Kritikwurdiges Buch, eine nutzliche Provokation: Uber die Thesen Norman Finkelsteins,” in Suddeutsche Zeitung (18 August 2000), “Klaus von Munchhausen: ‘Es geht nicht um die Opfer, es geht um Profit’ (Interview),” in Der Tagesspiegel (14 June 2000), Mark Spoerer, “Entschadigungsieistunger an ehemalige NS-Zwangsarbeiter seit 1945,” at
www.uni-hohenheim.de/~www570a/spoerer/entschaedigung.htm, Gunnar Heinsohn, “Das Klaus von Munchhausen-Gerhard Schroder-Team und der 3.9 Milliarden Coup der Jewish Claims Conference,” chronology prepared for ARD/Radio Bremen (23 February), correspondence with Ulrich Herbert (18 April 2001), and Michael Hausfeld (17 January 2002))

41. See pp. 84ff. of the English paperback edition. My conclusions relied heavily on Prof. Ronald Zweig’s study commissioned by the Claims Conference, German Reparations and the Jewish World. After publication of The Holocaust Industry, Zweig repeatedly charged that I “misused” and “distorted” his research, yet – despite ample space and time to present his case – cited not a single example. (cf. Zweig’s review on www.Amazon.com for The Holocaust Industry, and p. 10 of his introduction to the second edition of German Reparations and the Jewish World (London: 2001), as well as our “Democracy Now” radio debate at www.webactive.com/pacifica/demnow/dn20000713.html )

42. Jon Greenberg, “Jewish leaders say Holocaust reparations are nearly complete,” in Associated Press (2 November 2001) (“11 billion”), Yair Sheleg, “Conflicting claims,” in Haaretz (10 December 2001) (German properties), Cattan, “Shoah ‘People’ Fund Attacked” (“debating”), Nacha Cattan, “Clash Looming Over Uses of Shoah Funds,” in Forward (9 November 2001) (“scene”).

43. For these figures, see pp. 152, 159-60 of the English paperback edition.

44. PRNewswire (4 June 2001) (“ensure,” Sachs, Schaecter), NAHOS, Vol. 7, No. 15 (Rechter), NAHOS, Vol. 7, No. 17 (16 July 2001), p. 2, and NAHOS, Vol. 8, No 2 (20 December 2001), pp. 5-7 (doubtful undertakings), NAHOS, Vol. 7, No. 13 (“sizable chunk”), p. 3, Cattan, “Shoah ‘People’ Fund Attacked” (“favorite charities”), Yair Sheleg, “Future imperfect, tense,” in Haaretz (1 February 2002) (Michael Kleiner), Eliahu Salpeter, “Time is running out for compensation,” in Haaretz (13 February 2002) (“tool”). Rechter wondered why the constituent organizations of The Holocaust Industry are “fighting so ferociously” for a cut of the compensation monies if there supposedly isn’t even enough to cover a health-care program. (NAHOS, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 1) Denouncing The Holocaust Industry‘s fraudulent use of the term “Holocaust survivor” to deny actual survivors their due, Rechter also observed: “Giving aid to needy Jews is certainly a worthy cause, but it must be remembered that this money was demanded on behalf of Holocaust survivors and it should go to their welfare. Russia was not under Nazi occupation. Many of its Jews did flee eastward for fear of the Nazis, and therefore they constitute ‘war victims,’ but they are not Holocaust survivors.” The term was similarly falsified to inflate the number of survivors during compensation negotiations. (Sheleg, “Conflicting claims,” and p. 160 of the English paperback edition) For the record, while elderly Holocaust survivors languish without medical coverage, the current annual salary and benefits of Gideon Taylor, executive vice-president of the Claims Conference, total $220,000. (1999 Tax Return of the Claims Conference)

45. Cattan, “Shoah ‘People” Fund Attacked,” and Nacha Cattan, “Struggle Seen As Bronfman Eyes WJC Exit,” in The Forward (4 January 2002) (main beneficiary), Liberation (15 September 2001) (Hilberg). See p. 55 of English paperback edition for “worthless.” “Holocaust education” thrives not only in the publishing world but academia as well. Australia’s Sydney University now offers a “Masters in Holocaust Studies.” Why not also offer a “Masters in the Irish Potato Famine”?

46. Martin Gilbert, Never Again: A History of the Holocaust (New York: 2001), p. 25 (“knowledgeable”). For Lithuanian translation, see “Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research,” at http://taskforce.ushmm.org (“Working Group on the Liaison Project with Lithuania: Status of project as of September 2001″).

47. Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, pp. xii-xiii, 7 (rational vs. irrational), pp. 43, 53, 263-4 (Enlightenment/French Revolution), pp. 50, 52, 109, 140, 264, 265, 267 (Gypsies), p. 86 (German historiography), p. 21 (Himmler).

48. Guenter Lewy, The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies (Oxford: 2000), pp. 38, 116, 117, 118, 128, 162, 165 (“get rid”), 220, 221 (“contamination”).

49. Richard Overy, Interrogations: The Nazi Elite In Allied Hands, 1945 (New York: 2001), p. 378. I am indebted to Harold Marcuse for information on Blaha’s testimony (compare Eugene Kogon et al., Nazi Mass Murder: A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas (New Haven: 1993), chap. 8).

50. For Eizenstat’s remarks, see “Unofficial Transcript: Schaumayer, Eizenstat on Nazi Slave Labor Fund” (17 May 2000). Never passing up an opportunity to make a buck, WJC President and Seagram multibillionaire, Edgar Bronfman, called on Jews to “stop Austria’s Joerg Haider and other extremists by making an emergency contribution to the World Jewish Congress.” (mail solicitation)

51. Together: American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (November 2001), Ron Rosenbaum, “Degrees of Evil,” in Atlantic Monthly (February 2000), Andrew Sullivan, “Who Says It’s Not about Religion?” in The New York Times Magazine (7 October 2001).

52. Robert Fisk, “Peres stands accused over denial of ‘meaningless’ Armenian Holocaust,” in The Independent (18 April 2001). Recoiling at any comparison between the Nazi and Turkish exterminations, Israel’s ambassador to Georgia and Armenia maintained that Jews suffered a “genocide” while what happened to the Armenians was merely a “tragedy.” (“Armenia files complaint with Israel over comments on genocide,” in Assoicated Press (16 February 2002))

53. “Bush Remembers Holocaust Victims, “Pledges Defense of Israel,” in Reuters (19 April 2001).

54. Amir Oren, “At the gates of Yassergrad,” in Haaretz (25 January 2002), and Uzi Benziman, “Immoral Imperative,” in Haaretz (1 February 2002).