Holocaust Reparations -- A Growing Scandal

| September 15, 2000

Holocaust Reparations -- A Growing Scandal, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Commentary Magazine
By the end of World War II, a chilling 53 million people had been killed in cities, concentration camps and battlefields. Today, over 100,000 Holocaust survivors get monthly pensions from the German government, and, after five and a half decades, the issue of Holocaust reparations is recentering itself on the political stages of the US and Israel. It has also become a site for great contention. Gabriel Schoenfeld from Commentary Magazine sorts out the issues complicated by time, asking some tough questions along the way: Why is interest in Holocaust reparations piquing at this late date? Who has yet to pay their fair share--the Swiss banks, the Netherlands? Has the organized Jewish community itself been pursuing Holocaust claims in a legitimate manner? After so many years, compensating for losses (meaning everything from slave labor to stolen artwork, uncollected bank accounts to stock-exchange holdings) is highly problematic, but many are fighting for every last mark, with plenty of Holocaust lawyers (some charging per hour what a survivor receives from the German government a year) chomping at the bit. Schoenfeld recommends instead of focusing on financial restitution, an overhaul on historical thought on the Holocaust is needed: 'To Abraham Foxman, (Holocaust survivor) the reduction of the Holocaust to a matter of dollars and cents amounts to a 'desecration' and 'too high a price to pay for a justice we will never achieve'...It is past time to reconsider.' --Amanda Luker
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