Compensating for wartime looting

Settlement of Holocaust claims
Counter Claim:
1. Swiss banks paid US$1.25 milliard in settlement of Holocaust claims. That opened the floodgates, spurring personal injury lawyers and class action specialists to seek bounties from banks (unredeemed accounts), insurers (unpaid death benefits) and manufacturers (uncompensated forced labour) throughout Europe. There are few survivors left who will benefit from these money transfers. It is late, very late for this kind of restitution. Instead, what is happening is that the lawyers and community bureaucrats will reap the power and the payoff that comes from collecting in the name of those whose names are forever lost. They risk causing an industry to be made on the memory of victims.

2. Holocaust victims who had their savings or property or art stolen should be allowed to seek restitution even at this late date. Jewish organizations should help by providing lawyers. And the lawyers should help by working pro bono, or, at most, on salary. But contingency fees? Class-action suits? Fishing for aged Jews from whom they can make a killing? The lawyers crisscross Europe in search of ever richer settlements to extract from any institutions with a tainted World War II past. Is this what honouring the Holocaust has come to? A shakedown of Swiss banks, Austrian industry, German automakers that recalls the worst of racial hustling and class action opportunism in the USA? Soon no doubt to be added to the list: Ford and General Motors. What did they know and what did they do when their plants were taken over by the Nazis before and during World War II?.

3. The Holocaust commands the preservation of memory. It is not an instrument for the generation of money. The dead are honoured by learning the truth and never letting the world forget it, not by entering into rancorous negotiations with corporate leaders who represent a generation entirely innocent of these crimes.

4. Looting was the least of the crimes of the Holocaust. Nor is it unique. The Holocaust itself, the deliberate mechanized racial murder of 6 million souls, is a singular crime. Wartime looting is not. It is commonplace. At the end of this bloodiest of centuries, to reduce the Holocaust to looting is literally to debase the sacred.

5. Israel's acceptance of German reparations after the World War II was problematic, but at least at that time one could make an argument from necessity: A people collectively made destitude and desperate by German depredations was entitled to German reparations. But now? The only thing certain to come out of this grotesque scramble for money is a revival of Shylockian stereotypes. This is particularly unfortunate not just because in truth there is no people more given to philanthropy than the Jews, but also because this generation of Europeans has grown up more free of anti-Semitic poison than any in the European history.

6. It is one thing to risk reviving dormant anti-Jewish feeling in defence, say, of a vital, living cause like Israel, heir to the civilization destroyed by the Nazis. But for this? For blood money from the Holocaust?.

7. Should we find out and proclaim the truth about Holocaust looting? Of course. And truth about the forced labour. And truth about the industrialists who abetted the Nazi machine. And truth about the peoples of Europe who were silent, or worse. But money? It should be beneath the dignity of the Jewish people to accept it.

Type Classification:
J: Unconfirmed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions