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German Reparations and the Jewish World: A History of the Claims Conference 1st Edition;2-nd editionHolocaust Industry: Lack of Transparency. Post-WWII Polish-Jews-Feared-Poles Myth. Poland Targeted. “Holocaust Survivors” a Bait

jan peczkis|Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Author Ronald W. Zweig is a researcher, on the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. He is at Tel Aviv University. The author buys-in into Holocaust supremacism and into the mystification of the Holocaust. That is, he repeats, as fact, the presumed uniqueness of the Holocaust (in terms of moral issues and human experience), and endorses its presumed divorce from its genuine historical setting of war and destruction. (p. 9). Just saying it, over and over, does not make it so!

This work is mainly on the Claims Conference component of the 1952 Luxembourg Agreement. However, my review focuses on currently-relevant topics, and these topics are not addressed according to the chronology of their occurrence. My review is based on the 2nd edition, originally published in 2001.


The unwillingness of many Jewish Holocaust survivors, in Poland, to disclose their Jewishness after the war, is customarily blamed on (what else?) Polish anti-Semitism. Zweig inadvertently debunks this as he writes, “The Claims Conference had difficulties in ascertaining with accuracy the size of European Jewish communities. As late as ten years after the war many Jews refused to cooperate in a Conference-sponsored survey of the Jewish population of Europe because they remembered the uses made of such lists by the Nazis during the war.” (p. 61).


Without necessarily endorsing the position of the Polish government, Zweig recognizes the reality of the injustice of attempting to force German-victim Poland to pay for German crimes and for the consequences of German crimes. He writes, “The fate of Jewish communal property in countries (like Poland) occupied by the Nazis, and where the loss and destruction caused by war were not confined to the Jewish community alone, is particularly problematic. Can the Polish state be asked to compensate for heirless properties that accrued to it as the result of policies for which it was not responsible? Can the vastly depleted surviving Jewish community in Poland (some 6,000 today) be considered the legitimate heirs of a community of 3,300,000 before the war? What rights do Polish Jewish refugees now living elsewhere have on communal property in Poland? By what right do non-Polish Jewish organizations, confident and experienced in their dealings, intervene in the internal Polish relations between the government and the weak local Jewish community?” (p. 6).


Zweig sagely comments, “There were no precedents for many of the legal and political issues created by the war. The concept of heirless personal and communal assets is not new to the law. Normally, heirless property reverts to the state, for the benefit of the entire community. However, GERMANY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE LEGAL OWNERS and therefore could not be allowed to benefit from the property that was left behind.” (p. 2; Emphasis added).

It is obvious that any “unjust enrichment” claims, by the Holocaust Industry against Poland, must be vitiated by the fact that the Germans, and not the Poles, are responsible for the fact of so many heirless Jewish properties in Poland! Therefore, any financial restitution for them must come from Germany, not Poland.


As if to belabor the obvious, Zweig quips, “The widespead public interest in the Holocaust, and in the assets issue, ensured the full involvement of the Clinton administration. This has given legitimacy, prestige and diplomatic backing to many of the claims being raised.” (p. 7).


Zweig brings-up Norman Finkelstein’s classic, THE HOLOCAUST INDUSTRY. He at first tries to dismiss it as an expression of jealousy by those who were not compensated enough, by those who resent having to pay for past injustices, and by those who dislike being confronted with “inconvenient memories of the past”. (p. 10).

He then does a bit of an about-face, as he freely admits that, “The critics’ task was made easier by the regrettable policy of the Jewish organizations to close their records to research, resulting in an almost total absence of serious scholarship on the subject of restitution, reparations and the rehabilitations of the Jewish world.” (p. 10). Zweig then claims that the records have now been open, but provides no references, and no details on what information was disclosed, and what remains secret.


One does not have to believe in conspiracy theories, or in Jews being the “invisible hand” that rules over nations, to appreciate the ability of the non-government entities of the Holocaust Industry to put effective pressure on governments to pay them off. This is obvious in the following statements by Zweig, “As already noted, the globalization of the world economy ensures that all significant bodies—banks, companies and states—are vulnerable to American non-governmental pressures. Even though the State Department and the Clinton administration have adopted the Holocaust-era assets question, the initiative for action on the restoration of assets has become the prerogative of private lawyers and voluntary organizations.” (p. 7).

This is a portent. As time goes on, the Holocaust Industry is less likely to depend on popular support, the passage of favorable laws, etc., and instead likely to rely more and more on largely-covert pressures directed at governments by private individuals and organizations. The potential for corruption, by those who demand payment as well as those who are forced to pay, is easy to see.


Nowadays, we still hear of the need to “do belated justice” to Holocaust survivors. It is a political tool for playing on emotions. As this book makes clear, satisfying the needs of Holocaust survivors never was a priority for restitution claims in the first place!

That is, contrary to popular misconception (deliberate?), the 1952 Luxembourg Agreement was never primarily, or even largely, about the survivors. In fact, Zweig quips, “The needs of the ‘needy’ victims of Nazism had already been largely met by Jewish philanthropy. The Jewish organizations had larger plans for the Claims Conference allocations than simply extending existing welfare programs.” (p. 122).

The Germans wanted their restitution payments to go primarily to “needy victims”. (p. 80). Jews, on the other hand, desired to obtain the German money with no strings attached. Zweig calls this the debate of “culture versus welfare”. (p. 183). The Jewish side prevailed. They then conveniently redefined “Holocaust restitution” in the broad sense of restitution monies going to build the State of Israel and for financing Jewish institutions in the Diaspora.

Much of the West German restitution money (and equipment), specified by the Luxembourg agreement, went to build the industrial infrastructure of the State of Israel. As for the monies given the Claims Conference, only a part of it went to Holocaust survivors. The rest of it was rationalized as "of indirect benefit to Holocaust survivors." That is, it went to various Jewish institutions. Zweig comments, “Over the years, direct Conference allocations for cultural and educational reconstruction reached $23,613,700. Between 1954 and 1964, this was the largest single source of funds available in this field throughout the Jewish world.” (p. 178). For example, “Some $3,833,500 in allocations went for the construction, renovation, equipment and repair of 150 schools in 18 countries.” (p. 179). Interestingly, the Jewish school system in England was supported (p. 195), even though England had never been under Nazi German occupation!

The however-remote connection of the payments to the Holocaust-related victimhood grew even more tenuous. Zweig notes that, “By the early 1960s the wartime experiences of an applicant were no longer the most significant criterion in deciding allocations.” (p. 180). 1 comment|Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Report abuse| Permalink   Comment Jan Peczkis2 days ago Report abuse .
Click on, and read by reviews, of the following (most recently-published listed first):

Holocaust, Genocide, and the Law: A Quest for Justice in a Post-Holocaust World

Robbery and Restitution: The Conflict over Jewish Property in Europe (War and Genocide)

Restitution and Memory: Material Restoration in Europe

Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy

Holocaust Justice: The Battle for Restitution in America's Courts

Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II

The Plunder of Jewish Property During the Holocaust: Confronting European History
Books I reviewed that specifically address Poland's 1997 law on the restitution of Jewish communal properties:

Jewish Presence in Absence: The Aftermath of the Holocaust in Poland, 1944 2010

Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland

Post-Communist Restitution and the Rule of Law
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