The Holocaust Reparations Programs Cast Doubt on the Holocaust

      A participant in a recent discussion thread on Ron Unz’s website said that I had falsely claimed that it was easy for Jewish “Holocaust” survivors to get restitution. She also claimed that I had lied about the number of claims applied for by Jewish “Holocaust” survivors versus the number of claims paid.

      This article analyzes the reparations given to Jewish survivors of the so-called Holocaust.

Historical Background

      Jewish leader Chaim Weizmann in September 1945 sent a memorandum on behalf of the Zionist Jewish Agency to the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France demanding reparations, restitution, and indemnification from Germany owed to the Jewish people. The German government set up by the western Allies responded favorably to this demand. West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer declared to the Bundestag on September 27, 1951:

      The Federal government and the great majority of the German people are deeply aware of the immeasurable suffering endured by the Jews of Germany and by the Jews of the occupied territories during the period of National Socialism…In our name, unspeakable crimes have been committed and they demand restitution, both moral and material, for the persons and properties of the Jews who have been so seriously harmed…[1]

      Adenauer promised a speedy implementation of restitution and indemnity laws, and announced that reparations negotiations would soon begin. Accordingly, delegations representing the Bonn government, the State of Israel, and an ad hoc organization of Jewish groups called The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. (Claims Conference) began talks in the Netherlands in March 1952.[2] The Claims Conference, a nonprofit organization with offices in New York, Israel, and Germany, had been formed in 1951 by representatives of 23 major international Jewish organizations. Its purpose was to secure material compensation for “Holocaust” survivors around the world.[3]

      Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann, President of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Claims Conference, warned of a worldwide campaign against Germany if the Bonn officials did not meet Zionist demands. Adenauer and other German leaders took Goldmann’s threat seriously. The talks culminated in the Luxembourg Agreement, which was signed on September 10, 1952, by Konrad Adenauer, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, and Nahum Goldmann.[4]

      West German reparations have been paid out through several different programs, including the Federal Indemnification Law (BEG), the Federal Restitution Law (BReuG), the Israel Agreement, and special agreements with 12 foreign countries. The BEG indemnification law has been by far the most important of these. The BEG was based on a compensation law promulgated earlier in the American Zone.[5]

      The Claims Conference has continued to negotiate for and disburses funds to individuals and organizations and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the so-called Holocaust. As a result of negotiations with the Claims Conference since 1952, the German government has paid over $90 billion in indemnification to Jewish individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the National Socialists in Germany.[6]

      The Claims Conference has also conducted a social media campaign highlighting daily videos of Holocaust survivors. It has implored Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to add Holocaust denial and distortion to the platform’s hate speech policy. The Claims Conference is constantly adapting to the changing needs of survivors, yet its mission remains the same—to secure material compensation for “Holocaust” survivors around the world.[7]

      There have been additional types of “Holocaust” compensation and restitution agreements over the decades. These include: 1) agreements between governments and industry, and various parties representing victims and heirs such as the establishment of the German Foundation in 2000, primarily to compensate former slave and forced laborers; 2) agreements arising out of class-action lawsuits, such as the 1998 Swiss Banks Settlement; and 3) agreements between parties, such as that establishing the International Commission on Holocaust Era Claims (ICHEIC), in which corporations, insurance regulators, and the Claims Conference participated.[8]      

No Nuremberg style trials have been held nor have any reparations been paid.

Success of Claims Conference

      It might have been difficult for Jewish “Holocaust” survivors to get restitution at first. However, the Claims Conference tells us in numerous statements that its diligent and relentless efforts have made it much easier for survivors to get restitution. The Claims Conference has continually and successfully fought for the liberalization of existing programs. It brags about how successful it has been.

      For example, the 2021 Claims Conference report states: “The Claims Conference helped rebuild Jewish communities devastated by the Nazis, revive Jewish cultural life in Europe and provide essential services to Nazi victims in 40 nations in its first 12 years of existence. DM 450 million received from the Federal Republic of Germany was allocated towards these causes.”[9]

      The Claims Conference report further states: “At first, benefits were not provided universally and eligibility for the program was limited to Nazi victims who were former German citizens or who had a recognized status as refugees and stateless persons, and who were in the West. In the 1950s and 1960s, ongoing Claims Conference negotiations significantly expanded the scope of those eligible under the BEG. Subsequently, the Claims Conference has continually pursued the establishment and expansion of other compensation programs and has succeeded in achieving considerable liberalizations.”[10]

      The Claims Conference has been diligent in its efforts to receive compensation for the pain and suffering of “Holocaust” survivors. Its 2021 report states: “From day one, the Claims Conference was relentless in its efforts. In 1953, the Claims Conference expanded its original mandate and formed the Committee for Jewish Claims on Austria…In addition, the Claims Conference has sought compensation for Jewish slave laborers, and by 1966 reached agreements with six German companies for payments for slave labor.”[11]

      The 2021 Claims Conference report says it has expanded its role: “The Claims Conference’s original role further expanded with the creation of the Hardship Fund in 1980. Established after five years of negotiations, the fund issues direct payments to Nazi victims who had received no prior compensation and primarily benefitted those who had emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1970s. The Claims Conference, rather than the German government, processed the applications and determined who would be eligible and administered the payments. Continuing negotiations have liberalized the criteria for this and other subsequent Claims Conference compensation programs.”[12]

      The successful efforts of the Claims Conference have continued into the 21st century. The 2021 Claims Conference report states: “Negotiations have continued well into the 21st century. In 2000, a $5 billion agreement was reached with German industry and the government that was primarily for payments for slave and forced labor. A few years later, the Claims Conference successfully negotiated funding from the German government for in-home services for Holocaust survivors. The first home care agreement was for €6 million in 2004. In the present, the Claims Conference obtained agreements for €554.5 million for 2021 and €622.9 million in 2022.”[13]

      The Claims Conference states that it has successfully liberalized existing programs: “In the most recent years, the Claims Conference has continued fighting for liberalizations of existing programs. Significant liberalizations of the Hardship Fund included hundreds of thousands of survivors including those in former communist countries, those in Morocco, Leningrad, and Algeria. New programs such as the Child Survivor Fund were established, a pension program for 6,500 Holocaust survivors and pensions for Righteous Gentiles in need. Liberalizations in the Article 2 and Central and Eastern European pension programs expanded those programs to tens of thousands of additional Holocaust survivors. Payment increases were also secured for the programs and 200,000 Hardship Fund recipients received supplemental payments. Ultimately, no compensation can adequately address the horrors, pain, and loss experienced by Holocaust survivors.”[14]

      The 2021 Claims Conference report concludes that its mission is far from over: “The chronology that follows is a testament to 70 years of extraordinary accomplishments by the Claims Conference that have led to approximately $90 billion and counting in compensation for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. However, the Claims Conference’s mission is not complete, and its commitment to Nazi victims remains unwavering.”[15]

More Restitution Efforts

      Historian Michael R. Marrus writes that, in the mid-1960s, former slave laborers sought to sue I. G. Farben corporation for what they had suffered during World War II. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declared that the crimes of Nazism were too remote to be reached by civil courts. It stated:

      The span between the doing of the damage and the application of the claimed assuagement is too vague. The time is too long. The identity of the alleged tort feasors is too indefinite. The procedure sought—adjudication of some 200,000 claims for multifarious damages inflicted 20 to 30 years ago in a European area by a government then in power—is too complicated, too costly, to justify undertaking by a court without legislative provision of the means wherewith to proceed.[16]

      However, the courts began to think otherwise 30 years later. The evolution of class action lawsuits, plaintiff’s initiatives in the mid-1990s, and the decision of Jewish Judge Edward Korman in the precedent-setting Swiss banks case enabled successful litigation of Holocaust-era cases.[17]

      A series of class action lawsuits were filed in several United States federal courts against certain Swiss banks and other Swiss entities in late 1996 and early 1997. These lawsuits alleged that Swiss financial institutions knowingly retained and concealed assets of “Holocaust” victims, and accepted and laundered illegally obtained German loot and profits of slave labor. In August 1998, an agreement in principle was reached to settle the lawsuits for $1.25 billion. In exchange for this settlement amount paid by the Swiss banks, the plaintiffs and class members agreed to forever discharge Swiss banks, the Swiss Government, and other Swiss entities from all claims related to the “Holocaust,” World War II, and its prelude and aftermath.[18]

      American attorney Robert A. Swift writes that the settlement with Swiss banks was the opening shot for future litigation of “Holocaust” claims against German, Austrian and other corporations that benefited from the Axis’s wartime use of slave labor and confiscation of “Holocaust” victims’ assets. A new cooperation developed between the U.S. government and plaintiffs’ counsel. The German government announced in 1999 that it was prepared to compensate wartime forced laborers from Eastern Europe as part of an overall settlement between victims and German industry. As previously mentioned, this resulted in a $5 billion “Holocaust” settlement. A comparable agreement with the Austrian government and industry was later mediated.[19]  

      By the end of 2003, more than 1.5 million elderly forced laborers had received the first installment of their payments. These payments totaled approximately $3 billion. After 2003, payments to forced laborers from the Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, and other countries were received by forced laborers.[20]

      Multiple class actions and individual actions were also filed in various state and federal courts seeking the proceeds of unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policies from European insurance companies. The ICHEIC was created as an alternative to litigation. As a result of the lawsuits and the attention the issue was receiving from insurance commissioners, legislation addressing “Holocaust” insurance was enacted at both the state and federal levels. Such legislation was designed to assist the “Holocaust” litigation by 1) providing access to information on policies; 2) easing burdens of proof; and 3) extending statutes of limitations.[21]

        A law creating the “Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future” Foundation (the Foundation) entered into force on August 12, 2000. This law paved the way for settling individual claims on unpaid Holocaust-era German insurance policies. A Trilateral Agreement among the Foundation, the German Insurance Association (GDV), and the ICHEIC was reached in October 2002. The three parties to the Trilateral Agreement have agreed that, while the processing and payment procedure is certainly difficult and takes time, it has been working well.[22]

      The New York State Banking Department’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) was also formed to recover art stolen during the National Socialist era. The HCPO has been effective in resolving numerous art disputes. It has been a steadfast advocate for “Holocaust” survivors and their heirs, assisting individuals of all backgrounds to achieve justice in the resolution of their claims.[23]

                                                                                               

Survival Rate of Jews

      The commenter on Unz’s discussion thread said I overstate the survival rate of Jews in the “Holocaust.” While no one can say exactly how many Jews survived the so-called Holocaust, it is notable that the Claims Conference states: “In 2021, the Claims Conference will distribute approximately $658 million in direct compensation to over 260,000 survivors in 83 countries and will allocate approximately $654 million in grants to over 300 social service agencies worldwide that provide vital services for Holocaust survivors, such as home care, food and medicine.”[24]

      The over 260,000 “Holocaust” survivors in 83 countries in 2021 is a remarkably large number of survivors for an event that occurred 76 years prior to the year 2021. These survivors have lived extremely long lives. There would not be 260,000 “Holocaust” survivors in 2021 if 6 million Jews had died in the so-called Holocaust. The total compensation in 2021 of $1.312 billion in direct compensation and grants is also a lot of money to still be paying more than 260,000 survivors of the “Holocaust.”

      In December 1981, the Canadian Jewish News reported concerning the BEG that by the end of 1980, “The number of successful claimants is 4,344,378.” A Focus On article noted that between October 1953 and the end of December 1983, the West German government had paid a total of 4,390,049 claims to individuals under the BEG legislation.[25] The great majority of these successful restitution claims were from Jews. Raul Hilberg estimated that about two thirds of these allowed claims had been from Jews.[26] Using Hilberg’s conservative estimate would mean that over 2.9 million BEG claims to Jews had been made by January 1984.

      These successful BEG claims understate the number of Jews who survived World War II because, as of 1985, Jews in Poland, the Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia were not eligible for BEG restitution. Also, some European Jews who survived World War II died before the German BEG restitution law was enacted in 1953. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper estimates that only half of the Jewish “Holocaust” survivors around the world in 1985 had received restitution under BEG.[27] If this 50% estimate is accurate, it would mean there would have been approximately 5.8 million successful BEG claims if all Jewish survivors of World War II had been eligible to receive BEG restitution.

      Since the number of BEG compensation claims is larger than the number of BEG claimants, the exact number of Jewish recipients of BEG compensation cannot be obtained. Nevertheless, these BEG compensation figures indicate that not anywhere close to 6 million Jews died during World War II.[28] 

Conclusion

      The “Holocaust” reparations programs against Germany have been widely accepted and often praised in the West. However, they are unfair because: 1) Germany did not conduct a program of genocide against Jews during World War II, and 2) even Germans who were born after World War II are still collectively assumed to be guilty of crimes they could not have committed. Germany’s unparalleled payoff to Israel and world Jewry is the unfortunate result of Germany’s catastrophic defeat during World War II and its subsequent domination by foreign powers.[29]     

Endnotes


[1] Weber, Mark, “West Germany’s Holocaust Payoff to Israel and World Jewry,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 243-244.

[2] Ibid., p. 244.

[3] https://he.claimscon.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/70th-anniversary-web-copy.pdf, p.4

[4] Weber, Mark, “West Germany’s Holocaust Payoff to Israel and World Jewry,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 244-245.

[5] Ibid., pp. 246-247.

[6] https://he.claimscon.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/70th-anniversary-web-copy.pdf, p.4

[7] Ibid., p. 7.

[8] Taylor, Gideon, Schneider, Greg, and Kagan, Saul, “The Claims Conference and the Historic Jewish Efforts for Holocaust-Related Compensation and Restitution,” Reparations for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009, p. 104.

[9] https://he.claimscon.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/70th-anniversary-web-copy.pdf, p. 5.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid., pp. 5-6.

[12] Ibid., p. 6.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., p. 7.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Marrus, Michael R., Some Measure of Justice: The Holocaust Era Restitution Campaign of the 1990s, Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2009, p. 128.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Gribetz, Judah and Reig, Shari C., “The Swiss Banks Holocaust Settlement,” Reparations for Victims of Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, Leiden, The Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009, p. 115.

[19] Bazyler, Michael J. and Alford, Roger P. (editors), “Holocaust Litigation and Human Rights Jurisprudence,” Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy, New York: New York University Press, 2006, pp. 53-54.

[20] Bazyler, Michael J. and Alford, Roger P. (editors), “The Negotiations on Compensation for Nazi Forced Laborers,” Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy, New York: New York University Press, 2006, p. 178.

[21] Bazyler, Michael J. and Alford, Roger P. (editors), “Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims,” Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy, New York: New York University Press, 2006, pp. 239-247.

[22] Bazyler, Michael J. and Alford, Roger P. (editors), “The Road to Compensation of Life Insurance Policies,” Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy, New York: New York University Press, 2006, pp. 251-259.

[23] Bazyler, Michael J. and Alford, Roger P. (editors), “The Holocaust Claims Processing Office,” Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy, New York: New York University Press, 2006, pp. 271-279.

[24] https://he.claimscon.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/70th-anniversary-web-copy.pdf, p. 4.

[25] Weber, Mark, “West Germany’s Holocaust Payoff to Israel and World Jewry,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 247.

[26] Hilberg testimony in Zündel case, Toronto District Court, Jan. 18, 1985. Transcript p. 1229.

[27] Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Sunday, March 31, 1985, p. 15A. See also Weber, Mark, “Wilhelm Höttl and the Elusive ‘Six Million’,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 20, No. 5/6, Sept./Dec. 2001, pp. 29-30.

[28] Weber, Mark, “West Germany’s Holocaust Payoff to Israel and World Jewry,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 248.

[29] Ibid.

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4 Responses

  1. z says:

    sc israel shall repay, all of it, to the German people

  2. David says:

    I have a copy of “German Historical Institute
    Washington, D.C.
    Occasional Paper No. 2
    Holocaust and Shilumim
    The Policy of Wiedergutmachung
    in the Early 1950s

    Edited by
    Axel Frohn

    Let me know if you’d like a copy

    Basically the Germans applied the western Christian notion of compensation (finite) , the Israeli thought more akin to tribute (infinite), just as Staglich predicted.

  3. Vegan Health says:

    What about Zionists paying reparations for their murdering 50+ million Russians and Eastern Europeans?

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