Holocaust IndustryThe suffering of European Jews during the 1930s and 1940s gave rise to a stock of moral capital that was a measure not of exceptional moral actions by Jews as a group, but of acts committed by their Nazi oppressors. The holocaust label evokes that suffering and those acts. The Holocaust, distinguished by initial capitalization (a distinction I maintain throughout this review), is an ideology that has grown up around these interactions. The holocaust created moral capital. A “Holocaust Industry” exploits it by making a market in the suffering of “needy holocaust survivors.”

The disadvantages of moral capital are that it is less productive than most other forms of capital and that its value depreciates quickly as memories fade and the public sense of guilt and compassion wanes. Its highest value lies in its capacity to be transformed into more enduring political (rent-seeking) capital. The transformation process requires entrepreneurship as an input and spawns an industry that produces entrepreneurial returns for its creators and patrons.

These points are the foundations of historian Norman Finkelstein’s slim volume, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. The book complements a short list of recent works by Jewish scholars (several of which Finkelstein critiques) that reflect on the upturn of interest in books, movies, and television documentaries about the holocaust and that ask (some skeptically): “Why here, and why now?” (See, for example, Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999].) Finkelstein argues, against the grain, that this interest is “a tribute not to Jewish suffering but to Jewish aggrandizement” (p. 8). He documents economic exploitation by the Holocaust Industry, which he calls an “outright extortion racket” (p. 89). He also documents the U.S. role in facilitating the extraction of holocaust rents (which he inexactly terms “profits”). He argues that the Holocaust Industry would not exist without international bullying by the United States, which is why this country is not a target of rent extraction despite having a record on holocaust issues that is scarcely distinguishable from that of the recently extorted Swiss.

A positive economic analysis of this aspect of postwar economic behavior has yet to emerge. Not even the “revisionist” literature analyzes the public economic behavior of Zionist groups and other Jewish factions. This lacuna is puzzling. Economists have tackled other aspects of religious organization using the positive method of industrial organization and public choice (see, for example, Robert Ekelund and others, Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm [New York: Oxford University Press, 1996]). Surely the existence of Holocaust rents has not entirely escaped the notice of economic historians and theorists. It may be that the holocaust’s enhanced presence today represents nothing more than market maturation. But without a positive theory with which to examine the industry’s structure, conduct, and performance, it is impossible to know.

Finkelstein’s book will probably disappoint readers hoping for an economic analysis along the lines of that by Ekelund and others. Finkelstein uses a historical approach that is like descriptive political economy. Accordingly, he develops no positive theories whose implications can be tested against the anecdotal evidence he has amassed. The result in places is a patchwork of ad hoc explanations leading to conclusions that are not obviously superior to those he criticizes. Nevertheless, the book is provocative and brimming with recent historical detail. With a bit of luck, it will attract the interest of academic economists.

The gravamen of Finkelstein’s argument, which is shared by an increasing number of Jews and others worldwide, is that “the current campaign of the Holocaust Industry to extort money from Europe in the name of ‘needy Holocaust victims’ has shrunk the moral status of martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino” (p. 8). Although such blasphemy would normally be attacked as an anti-Semitic diatribe, Finkelstein escapes such treatment as the son of Jewish Auschwitz survivors. Even so, he reports being called a “garbage man,” an “anti-Zionist,” and a “notorious ideological opponent of the State of Israel” (pp. 65–66) at various times in his scholarly career. Critics disparage his book, however, by associating it with those allegedly anti-Semitic officials and private individuals who express agreement with the author’s brief. These sympathizers include, among others, citizens of western European countries who see themselves as being extorted by the Holocaust Industry, even as the Palestinian victims of Zionism remain uncompensated for their continuing loss of life, land, and liberty after decades of subjugation and subordination. Occasional proposals to compensate Palestinians out of Holocaust Industry rents wither quickly and die quietly. (Palestinians simply lack the entrepreneurial skills to press their claims successfully.) The author reports the fear in some quarters that Holocaust Industry activities will provoke a dangerous wave of bona fide anti-Semitism.

Finkelstein notes that the threat of indiscriminate, ad hominem slanders for alleged anti-Semitism has long been an effective deterrent to the public discussion of Holocaust Industry issues, which may help to explain the lack of a robust economic literature in this area. A few countries (Canada, France, and Germany, for example) have adopted laws that limit or otherwise chill public discussion. Several U.S. states presently require “approved” holocaust studies in public schools. The value of these public policies, from the industry’s perspective, lies in preventing uninhibited discussions that would dissipate Holocaust rents. Holocaust Affairs offices within the White House and the Departments of Justice and State, staunch political support in Congress, and U.S. support at the United Nations are further indicia of successful rent seeking by the Holocaust Industry.

Viewing history through an economic lens shows how “the Holocaust” has become a proprietary trademark. The murder of between three and six million Jews (industry estimates usually exceed historical estimates) was not intrinsically unique to a century that witnessed the wholesale slaughter of many ethnic groups, including the Nazis’ systematic killing of Gypsies, homosexuals, and physically and mentally disabled individuals. The twentieth century’s body count ran into the hundreds of millions, with many victims in the latter years being killed by Israeli-made weapons. Even so, the Holocaust Industry has created a property right in the “uniqueness” of the holocaust. This right is defended aggressively. Every application of the Holocaust label to other large-scale atrocities to the systematic killing of Muslims, is actively opposed. (Governments that sponsor atrocities also oppose the application of this label in order to soften the public perception of their actions.) Xerox opposes the generic labeling of document reproduction as xeroxing for exactly the same reason.

The aggressive defense and maintenance of the Holocaust brand have been so successful that even a few gentiles have gained wealth and notoriety by masquerading as Jewish holocaust survivors—an ironic example of chutzpah. Watchdog groups are alert for outsiders’ poaching Holocaust rents in this fashion. Some Jews also capture Holocaust rents by masquerading as holocaust survivors, usually winning industry praise rather than condemnation for their efforts.

Finkelstein singles out Elie Wiesel, a concentration-camp survivor and celebrity commentator on moral issues, for his role as an industry insider. He “is the Holocaust” (p. 55), according to Finkelstein. It was Wiesel who systematically applied the word holocaust to the Jewish experience. He subsequently gained recognition and fortune by lecturing about the holocaust, commanding speaking fees that Finkelstein reports to be upward of $25,000 plus a limousine. Finkelstein criticizes the fuzzy aphorisms Wiesel uses to characterize the holocaust—“noncommunicable,” “we cannot talk about it,” and “the truth lies in silence”—noting that Wiesel and others have made personal fortunes by talking and writing about it (p. 45).

The lack of a positive theory to explain industry behavior causes Finkelstein’s analysis occasionally to go astray. He dates the Holocaust Industry from the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. That date clearly represents an important point in the industry’s development, as he demonstrates, but it represents a point of inflection rather than a true beginning.

The industry’s creation, in the most encompassing sense, occurred more than twenty years earlier. Holocaust entrepreneurship and rent seeking played the determining role in creating the modern state of Israel, a series of events that Finkelstein dismisses as unrelated to the industry per se. By contrast, these events were comprehensively documented early on by the historian Alfred Lilienthal, whose work anticipated the logic of public-choice analysis (see, for example, What Price Israel? [Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1953]). Lilienthal, almost uniquely among Jews of that period, wrote and spoke against the creation of Israel, opposed charitable U.S. policies toward it, and coined the term Holocaustomania to characterize the use of Holocaust rhetoric to stifle public debate. He documented the opportunistic postwar actions of entrepreneurial Zionist organizers who manipulated, for essentially private purposes, both the postwar sensitivities of national governments and the anguish and misery of Jewish concentration-camp survivors. Lilienthal’s scholarly efforts were rewarded with anonymous death threats and several years of FBI surveillance.

Finkelstein’s presentation implies that Zionist goals no longer motivate the exploitation of holocaust survivors. He argues directly that today’s Holocaust Industry is not truly concerned with obtaining compensation for “needy holocaust survivors,” noting that very little of the recently extracted “compensation” has reached its nominal beneficiaries. Instead, the industry’s concern today lies with winning compensation for law firms, consultants, politicians, Holocaust organizations, and industry elites. “When Jewish elites rob Jewish survivors no ethical issues arise; it’s just about the money” (p. 87).

Finkelstein’s focus on 1967 as the creation date of the industry causes him to overlook the competition for the Jewish vote that characterized the 1948 Truman-Dewey presidential campaign and other elections for state and national offices (see, for example, John Snetsinger, Truman, the Jewish Vote, and the Creation of Israel [Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1974]). Incumbents and challengers competed wildly to outdo each other’s campaign promises in support of Zionism. Politicians at all levels accepted speaking fees from Zionist and other Jewish groups. Truman summarized his developing position in 1946 by telling a gathering of diplomats: “I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism; I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents” (qtd. in William Eddy, FDR Meets Ibn Saud [New York: American Friends of the Middle East, 1954], p. 37). The concentration of Jewish voters in a small number of U.S. cities made the political “collective-action” problem relatively easy to overcome: Lilienthal reported census data showing that 42 percent of American Jews lived in the five boroughs of New York City, and 75 percent were concentrated in just fourteen cities.

A victorious President Truman made good on his campaign promises in several significant ways: by supporting the creation of modern Israel over the vehement objection of Secretary of State George Marshall; by supporting financial aid to Israel that (by Lilienthal’s calculation) was nearly seven times greater per capita in 1952 than the amount given to Europe under the Marshall Plan; and by authorizing, over State Department objections, U.S. fund-raising and lobbying visits by self-confessed Zionist terrorists, including at least one future Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin.

Finkelstein’s book, by comparison, merely documents the methods by which today’s politicians support the industry while in office and then earn substantial legal and consulting fees by representing its interests when out of office.

The weakness of Finkelstein’s descriptive historical approach is most apparent in his explanation of the U.S. decision to authorize construction and federal funding of a Holocaust memorial and museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The National Mall is a hallowed piece of ground otherwise reserved for commemorating episodes in U.S. history. Finkelstein asserts that the memorial’s ulterior purpose is to demonstrate that a holocaust could not occur in the United States, thereby camouflaging the country’s actual treatment of its imported African and native populations. This explanation may have a satisfying feel to it, but it lacks a positive foundation and almost certainly is off the mark. A positive theory in this context would examine the memorial’s presence in terms of its value to the Holocaust Industry, the process and effect of lobbying by powerful factions, and the political calculations made by Congress and the Carter White House. Finkelstein documents each of these considerations, but his conclusion ignores their significance.

The author clearly is sensitive to the economic aspects of his subject, even though he does not develop his thesis along positive lines. However, by documenting the legacy of systematic exploitation, extortion, and de jure political correctness with regard to the holocaust, he opens the door to positive analysis of this unique but culturally and politically sensitive aspect of postwar economic behavior. In addition to the book’s virtues as a provocative and well-documented case study, this achievement makes The Holocaust Industry both a worthwhile read and a valuable reference.


If you’re an avid reader like I am, then review the full report here:
Table of Contents:
Acknowledgments and Introduction
Chapter 1: Capitalizing The Holocaust
Chapter 2: Hoaxers, Hucksters, and History
Chapter 3: The Double Shakedown
See Norman G. Finkelsteins Website at: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com


This book is both an anatomy and an indictment of the Holocaust industry. In
the pages that follow, I will argue that “The Holocaust” is an ideological
representation of the Nazi holocaust.1 Like most ideologies, it bears a
connection, if tenuous, with reality. The Holocaust is not an arbitrary but rather
an internally coherent construct. Its central dogmas sustain significant political
and class interests. Indeed, The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable
ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world’s most
formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast
itself as a “victim” state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United
States has likewise acquired victim status. Considerable dividends accrue from
this specious victimhood — in particular, immunity to criticism, however
justified. Those enjoying this immunity, I might add, have not escaped the
moral corruptions that typically attend it. From this perspective, Elie Wiesel’s
performance as official interpreter of The Holocaust is not happenstance.

Plainly he did not come to this position on account of his humanitarian
commitments or literary talents.2 Rather, Wiesel plays this leading role because
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he unerringly articulates the dogmas of, and accordingly sustains the interests
underpinning, the Holocaust.
The initial stimulus for this book was Peter Novick’s seminal study, The
Holocaust in American Lfe, which I reviewed for a British literary journal.3 In
these pages the critical dialogue I entered in with Novick is broadened; hence,
the extensive number of references to his study. More a congeries of
provocative aper,cus than a sustained critique, The Holocaust in American Life
belongs to the venerable American tradition of muckraking. Yet like most
muckrakers, Novick focuses only on the most egregious abuses. Scathing and
refreshing as it often is, The Holocaust in American Lfe is not a radical critique.
Root assumptions go unchallenged. Neither banal nor heretical, the book is
pitched to the controversial extreme of the mainstream spectrum. Predictably, it
received many, though mixed, notices in the American media.
Novick’s central analytical category is “memory.” Currently all the rage in the
ivory tower, “memory” is surely the most impoverished concept to come down
the academic pike in a long time. With the obligatory nod to Maurice
Halbwachs, Novick aims to demonstrate how “current concerns” shape
“Holocaust memory.” Once upon a bme, dissenting intellectuals deployed
robust political categories such as “power” and “interests,” on the one hand, and
“ideology,” on the other. Today, all that remains is the bland, depoliticized
language of «concerns» and “memory.” Yet given the evidence Novick
adduces, Holocaust memory is an ideological construct of vested interests.
Although chosen, Holocaust memory, according to Novick, is “more often than
not» arbitrary. The choice, he argues, is made not from «calculation of
advantages and disadvantages» but rather “without much thought for . . .
consequences.”4 The evidence suggests the opposite conclusion.
My original interest in the Nazi holocaust was personal. Both my father and
mother were survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi concentration
camps. Apart from my parents, every family member on both sides was
exterminated by the Nazis. My earliest memory, so to speak, of the Nazi
holocaust is my mother glued in front of the television watching the trial of
Adolf Eichmann (1961) when I came home from school. Although they had
been liberated from the camps only sixteen years before the trial, an
unbridgeable abyss always separated, in my mind, the parents I knew from that.
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Photographs of my mother’s family hung on the living-room wall. (None from
my father’s family survived the war.) I could never quite make sense of my
connection with them, let alone conceive what happened. They were my
mother’s sisters, brother and parents, not my aunts, uncle or grandparents. I
remember reading as a child John Hersey’s The Wall and Leon Uris’s Mila 18,
both fictionalized accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto. (I still recall my mother
complaining that, engrossed in The Wall, she missed her subway stop on the
way to work.) Try as I did, I couldn’t even for a moment make the imaginative
leap that would join my parents, in all their ordinariness, with that past.
Frankly, I still can’t.
The more important point, however, is this. Apart from this phantom presence,
I do not remember the Nazi holocaust ever intruding on my childhood. The
main reason was that no one outside my family seemed to care about what had
happened. My childhood circle of friends read widely, and passionately debated
the events of the day. Yet I honestly do not recall a single friend (or parent of a
friend) asking a single question about what my mother and father endured. This
was not a respectful silence. It was simply indifference. In this light, one cannot
but be skeptical of the outpourings of anguish in later decades, after the
Holocaust industry was firmly established.
I sometimes think that American Jewry “discovering” the Nazi holocaust was
worse than its having been forgotten. True, my parents brooded in private; the
suffering they endured was not publicly validated. But wasn’t that better than
the current crass exploitation of Jewish martyrdom? Before the Nazi holocaust
became The Holocaust, only a few scholarly studies such as Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews and memoirs such as Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Ella Lingens-Reiner, Prisoners of Fear  were
published on the subject.5 But this small collection of gems is better than the
shelves upon shelves of shlock that now line libraries and bookstores.

pofBoth my parents, although daily reliving that past until the day each died, lost interest by the end of their lives in The Holocaust as a public spectacle. One of my father’s lifelong friends was a former inmate with him in Auschwitz, a seemingly incorruptible left-wing idealist who on principle refused German compensation after the war. Eventually he became a director of the Israeli Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Reluctantly and with genuine The Holocaust Industry: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
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disappointment, my father finally admitted that even this man had been
corrupted by the Holocaust industry, tailoring his beliefs for power and profit.
As the rendering of The Holocaust assumed ever more absurd forms, my
mother liked to quote (with intentional irony) Henry Ford: “History is bunk.”
The tales of “Holocaust survivors”—all concentration camp inmates, all heroes
of the resistance — were a special source of wry amusement in my home. Long
ago John Stuart Mill recognized that truths not subject to continual challenge
eventually “cease to have the effect of truth by being exaggerated into
My parents often wondered why I would grow so indignant at the falsification
and exploitation of the Nazi genocide. The most obvious answer is that it has
been used to justify criminal policies of the Israeli state and US support for
these policies. There is a personal motive as well. I do care about the memory
of my family’s persecution. The current campaign of the Holocaust industry to
extort money from Europe in the name of “needy Holocaust victims” has
shrunk the moral stature of their martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino.
Even apart from these concerns, however, I remain convinced that it is
important to preserve — to fight for — the integrity of the historical record. In
the final pages of this book I will suggest that in studying the Nazi holocaust
we can learn much not just about “the Germans” or “the Gentiles” but about all
of us. Yet I think that to do so, to truly learn from the Nazi holocaust, its
physical dimension must be reduced and its moral dimension expanded. Too
many public and private resources have been invested in memorializing the
Nazi genocide. Most of the output is worthless, a tribute not to Jewish suffering
but to Jewish aggrandizement. The time is long past to open our hearts to the
rest of humanity’s sufferings. This was the main lesson my mother imparted. I
never once heard her say: Do not compare. My mother always compared. No
doubt historical distinctions must be made. But to make out moral distinctions
between “our” suffering and “theirs” is itself a moral travesty. “You can’t
compare any two miserable people,” Plato humanely observed, “and say that
one is happier than the other.” In the face of the sufferings of
African-Americans, Vietnamese and Palestinians, my mother’s credo always
was: We are all holocaust victims.
Norman G. Finkelstein

1 In this text, Nazi holocaust signals the actual historical event, The Holocaust
its ideological representation.
2 For Wiesel’s shameful record of apologetics on behalf of Israel, see Norman
G. Einkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis
and Historical Truth (New York 1998), 91n83, 96n90. His record elsewhere is
no better. In a new memoir, And the Sea Is Never FuR (New York 1999),
Wiesel offers this incred ble explanation for his silence on Palestinian suffering
“In spite of considerable pressure, I have refused to take a public stand in the
Isracb-Arab convict” (125). In his finely detailed survey of Holocaust literature,
literary critic Irving Howe dispatched Wiesel’s vast corpus m one lone
paragraph with the faint praise that “Ebe Wiesel’s first book, Night, [is] written
simply and without rhetorical indulgence.” “There has been nothing worth
reading since Night,” literary critic Alfred Kazin agrees. “EIie is now all actor.
Redescribed himself to me as a ‘lecturer in anguish.’» (Irving Howe, «writing
and the Holocaust,” in New Republic [27 October 19861; Alfred Kazin, A
Lifetime Earning in Every Moment [New York 19961, 179)
3 New York: 1999. Norman Einkelstein, “uses of the Holocaust,” in London
Review of Book (6 January 2000).
4 Novick, The Holocaust, 3 – 6.
5 Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: 1961).
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (New York 19Sg). Ella
Lingens-Reiner, Prisoners of Fear (London 1948).
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Chapter 1
In a memorable exchange some years back, Gore Vidal accused Norman Podhoretz, then-editor of the
American Jewish Committee publication Commentary, of being un-American.1 The evidence was that
Podhoretz attached less importance to the Civil War – “the great single tragic event that continues to
give resonance to our Republic” – than to Jewish concerns. Yet Podhoretz was perhaps more American
than his accuser. For by then it was the “War Against the Jews,” not the “War Between the States,”
that figured as more central to American cultural life. Most college professors can testify that
compared to the Civil War many more undergraduates are able to place the Nazi holocaust in the right
century and generally cite the number killed. In fact, the Nazi holocaust is just about the only
historical reference that resonates in a university classroom today. Polls show that many more
Americans can identify The Holocaust than Pearl Harbor or the atomic bombing of Japan.
Until fairly recently, however, the Nazi holocaust barely figured in American life. Between the end of
World War II and the late 1960s, only a handful of books and films touched on the subject. There was
only one university course offering in the United States on the topic.2 When Hannah Arendt published
Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1963, she could draw on only two scholarly studies in the English language
-Gerald Reitlinger’s The Final Solution and Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews.3
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Hilberg’s masterpiece itself just managed to see the light of day. His thesis advisor at Columbia
University, the German-Jewish social theorist Franz Neumann, strongly discouraged him from writing
on the topic (‘it’s your funeral»), and no university or mainstream publisher would touch the completed
manuscript. When it was finally published, The Destruction of the European Jews received only a
few, mostly critical, notices.4
Not only Americans in general but also American Jews, including Jewish intellectuals, paid the Nazi
holocaust little heed. In an authoritative 1957 survey, sociologist Nathan Glazer reported that the Nazi
Final Solution (as well as Israel) «had remarkably slight effects on the inner life of American Jewry.»
In a 1961 Commentary symposium on “Jewishness and the Younger Intellectuals,” only two of
thirty-one contributors stressed its impact. Likewise, a 1961 roundtable convened by the journal
Judaism of twenty-one observant American Jews on “My Jewish Affirmation» almost completely
ignored the subject.5 No monuments or tributes marked the Nazi holocaust in the United States. To
the contrary, major Jewish organizations opposed such memorialization. The question is, Why?
The standard explanation is that Jews were traumatized by the Nazi holocaust and therefore repressed
the memory of it. In fact, there is no evidence to support this conclusion. No doubt some survivors did
not then or, for that matter, in later years want to speak about what had happened. Many others,
however, very much wanted to speak and, once the occasion availed itself, wouldn’t stop speaking.6
The problem was that Americans didn’t want to listen.
The real reason for public silence on the Nazi extermination was the conformist policies of the
American Jewish leadership and the political climate of postwar America. In both domestic and
international affairs American Jewish elites7 hewed closely to official US policy. Doing so in effect
facilitated the traditional goals of assimilation and access to power. With the inception of the Cold
War, mainstream Jewish organizations jumped into the fray. American Jewish elites “forgot» the Nazi
holocaust because Germany — West Germany by 1949 — became a crucial postwar American ally in
the US confrontation with the Soviet Union. Dredging up the past served no useful purpose; in fact it
complicated matters.
With minor reservations (soon discarded), major American Jewish organizations quickly fell into line
with US support for a rearmed and barely de-Nazified Germany. The American Jewish Committee
(AJC), fearful that “any organized opposition of American Jews against the new foreign policy and
strategic approach could isolate them in the eyes of the non-Jewish majority and endanger their
postwar achievements on the domestic scene,” was the first to preach the virtues of realignment. The
pro-Zionist World Jewish Congress (WJC) and its American affiliate dropped opposition after signing
compensation agreements with Germany in the early 1 950s, while the Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) was the first major Jewish organization to send an official delegation to Germany, in 1954.
Together these organizations collaborated with the Bonn government to contain the “anti-German
wave” of Jewish popular sentiment.8
The Final Solution was a taboo topic of American Jewish elites for yet another reason. Leftist Jews,
who were opposed to the Cold War alignment with Germany against the Soviet Union, would not stop
harping on it. Remembrance of the Nazi holocaust was tagged as a Communist cause. Strapped with
the stereotype that conflated Jews with the Left — in fact, Jews did account for a third of the vote for
progressive presidential candidate Henry Wallace in 1948 — American Jewish elites did not shrink
from sacrificing fellow Jews on the altar of anti-Communism. Offering their files on alleged Jewish
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subversives to government agencies, the AJC and the ADL actively collaborated in the McCarthy-era
witch-hunt. The AJC endorsed the death penalty for the Rosenbergs, while its monthly publication,
Commentary, editorialized that they weren’t really Jews.
Fearful of association with the political Left abroad and at home, mainstream Jewish organizations
opposed cooperation with anti-Nazi German social-democrats as well as boycotts of German
manufactures and public demonstrations against ex-Nazis touring the United States. On the other
hand, prominent visiting German dissidents like Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller, who had spent
eight years in Nazi concentration camps and was now against the anti-Communist crusade, suffered
the obloquy of American Jewish leaders. Anxious to boost their anti-Communist credentials, Jewish
elites even enlisted in, and financially sustained, right-wing extremist organizations like the
All-American Conference to Combat Communism and turned a blind eye as veterans of the Nazi SS
entered the country.9
Ever anxious to ingratiate themselves with US ruling elites and dissociate themselves from the Jewish
Left, organized American Jewry did invoke the Nazi holocaust in one special context: to denounce the
USSR. “Soviet [anti-Jewish] policy opens up opportunities which must not be overlooked,» an
internal AJC memorandum quoted by Novick gleefully noted, “to reinforce certain aspects of AJC
domestic program.” Typically, that meant bracketing the Nazi Final Solution with Russian
anti-Semitism. “Stalin will succeed where Hitler failed,” Commentary direly predicted. «He will
finally wipe out the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe…. The parallel with the policy of Nazi
extermination is almost complete.» Major American Jewish organizations even denounced the 1956
Soviet invasion of Hungary as “only the first station on the way to a Russian Auschwitz.10
Everything changed with the June 1967 Arab Israeli war. By virtually all accounts, it was only after
this conflict that The Holocaust became a fixture in American Jewish life.11 The standard explanation
of this transformation is that Israel’s extreme isolation and vulnerability during the June war revived
memories of the Nazi extermination. In fact, this analysis misrepresents both the reality of Mideast
power relations at the time and the nature of the evolving relationship between American Jewish elites
and Israel.
Just as mainstream American Jewish organizations downplayed the Nazi holocaust in the years after
World War II to conform to the US government’s Cold War priorities, so their attitude to Israel kept in
step with US policy. From early on, American Jewish elites harbored profound misgivings about a
Jewish state. Uppermost was their fear that it would lend credence to the “dual loyalty” charge. As the
Cold War intensified, these worries multiplied. Already before the founding of Israel, American
Jewish leaders voiced concern that its largely Eastern European, left-wing leadership would join the
Soviet camp. Although they eventually embraced the Zionist-led campaign for statehood, American
Jewish organizations closely monitored and adjusted to signals from Washington. Indeed, the AJC
supported Israel’s founding mainly out of fear that a domestic backlash against Jews might ensue if the
Jewish DPs in Europe were not quickly settled.12 Although Israel aligned with the West soon after
the state was formed, many Israelis in and out of government retained strong affection for the Soviet
Union; predictably, American Jewish leaders kept Israel at arm’s length.
From its founding in 1948 through the June 1967 war, Israel did not figure centrally in American
strategic planning. As the Palestinian Jewish leadership prepared to declare statehood, President
Truman waffled, weighing domestic considerations (the Jewish vote) against State Department alarm
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(support for a Jewish state would alienate the Arab world). To secure US interests in the Middle East,
the Eisenhower Administration balanced support for Israel and for Arab nations, favoring, however,
the Arabs.
Intermittent Israeli clashes with the United States over policy issues culminated in the Suez crisis of
1956, when Israel colluded with Britain and France to attack Egypt’s nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel
Nasser. Although Israel’s lightning victory and seizure of the Sinai Peninsula drew general attention to
its strategic potential, the United States still counted it as only one among several regional assets.
Accordingly, President Eisenhower forced Israel’s full, virtually unconditional withdrawal from the
Sinai. During the crisis, American Jewish leaders did briefly back Israeli efforts to wrest American
concessions, but ultimately, as Arthur Hertzberg recalls, they “preferred to counsel Israel to heed
[Eisenhower] rather than oppose the wishes of the leader of the United States.”13
Except as an occasional object of charity, Israel practically dropped from sight in American Jewish
life soon after the founding of the state. In fact, Israel was not important to American Jews. In his
1957 survey, Nathan Glazer reported that Israel “had remarkably slight effects on the inner life of
American Jewry.”14 Membership in the Zionist Organization of America dropped from the hundreds
of thousands in 1948 to the tens of thousands in the 1960s. Only 1 in 20 American Jews cared to visit
Israel before June 1967. In his 1956 reelection, which occurred immediately after he forced Israel’s
humiliating withdrawal from the Sinai, the already considerable Jewish support for Eisenhower
increased. In the early 1960s, Israel even faced a drubbing for the Eichmann kidnapping from sections
of elite Jewish opinion like Joseph Proskauer, past president of the AJC, Harvard historian Oscar
Handlin and the Jewish-owned Washington Post. the kidnapping of Eichmann,” Erich Fromm opined,
“is an act of lawlessness of exactly the type of which the Nazis themselves . . . have been guilty.”15
Across the political spectrum, American Jewish intellectuals proved especially indifferent to Israel’s
fate. Detailed studies of the left-liberal New York Jewish intellectual scene through the 1960s barely
mention Israel.16 Just before the June war, the AJC sponsored a symposium on “Jewish Identity Here
and Now.” Only three of the thirty-one “best minds in the Jewish community” even alluded to Israel;
two of them did so only to dismiss its relevance.17 Telling irony: just about the only two public
Jewish intellectuals who had forged a bond with Israel before June 1967 were Hannah Arendt and
Noam Chomsky.18
Then came the June war. Impressed by Israel’s overwhelming display of force, the United States
moved to incorporate it as a strategic asset. (Already before the June war the United States had
cautiously tilted toward Israel as the Egyptian and Syrian regimes charted an increasingly independent
course in the mid-1960s.) Military and economic assistance began to pour in as Israel turned into a
proxy for US power in the Middle East.
For American Jewish elites, Israel’s subordination to US power was a windfall. Zionism had sprung
from the premise that assimilation was a pipe dream, that Jews would always be perceived as
potentially disloyal aliens. To resolve this dilemma, Zionists sought to establish a homeland for the
Jews. In fact, Israel’s founding exacerbated the problem, at any rate for Diaspora Jewry: it gave the
charge of dual loyalty institutional expression. Paradoxically, after June 1967, Israel facilitated
assimilation in the United States: Jews now stood on the front lines defending America — indeed,
“Western civilization” — against the retrograde Arab hordes. Whereas before 1967 Israel conjured the
bogey of dual loyalty, it now connoted super-loyalty. After all, it was not Americans but Israelis
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fighting and dying to protect US interests. And unlike the American GIs in Vietnam, Israeli fighters
were not being humiliated by Third World upstarts. 19
Accordingly, American Jewish elites suddenly discovered Israel. After the 1967 war, Israel’s military
elan could be celebrated because its guns pointed in the right direction – against America’s enemies. Its
martial prowess might even facilitate entry into the inner sanctums of American power. Previously
Jewish elites could only offer a few lists of Jewish subversives; now, they could pose as the natural
interlocutors for America’s newest strategic asset. From bit players, they could advance to top billing
in the Cold War drama. Thus for American Jewry, as well as the United States, Israel became a
strategic asset.
In a memoir published just before the June war, Norman Podhoretz giddily recalled attending a state
dinner at the White House that “included not a single person who was not visibly and absolutely
beside himself with delight to be there.”20 Although already editor of the leading American Jewish
periodical, Commentary, his memoir includes only one fleeting allusion to Israel. What did Israel have
to offer an ambitious American Jew? In a later memoir, Podhoretz remembered that after June 1967
Israel became “the religion of the American Jews.”21 Now a prominent supporter of Israel, Podhoretz
could boast not merely of attending a White House dinner but of meeting tête-à-tête with the President
to deliberate on the National Interest.
After the June war, mainstream American Jewish organizations worked full time to firm up the
American-Israeli alliance. In the case of the ADL, this included a far-flung domestic surveillance
operation with ties to Israeli and South African intelligence.22 Coverage of Israel in The New York
Times increased dramatically after June 1967. The 1955 and 1965 entries for Israel in The New York
Times Index each filled 60 column inches. The entry for Israel in 1975 ran to fully 260 column inches.
“When I want to feel better,” Wiesel reflected in 1973, “I turn to the Israeli items in The New York
Times.”23 Like Podhoretz, many mainstream American Jewish intellectuals also suddenly found
“religion” after the June war. Novick reports that Lucy Dawidowicz, the doyenne of Holocaust
literature, had once been a “sharp critic of Israel.” Israel could not demand reparations from Germany,
she railed in 1953, while evading responsibility for displaced Palestinians: “Morality cannot be that
flexible.” Yet almost immediately after the June war, Dawidowicz became a “fervent supporter of
Israel,” acclaiming it as “the corporate paradigm for the ideal image of the Jew in the modern
A favorite posture of the post-1967 born-again Zionists was tacitly to juxtapose their own outspoken
support for a supposedly beleaguered Israel against the cravenness of American Jewry during The
Holocaust. In fact, they were doing exactly what American Jewish elites had always done: marching
in lockstep with American power. The educated classes proved particularly adept at striking heroic
poses. Consider the prominent left-liberal social critic Irving Howe. In 1956 the journal Howe edited,
Dissent, condemned the “combined attack on Egypt” as “immoral.” Although truly standing alone,
Israel was also taken to task for “cultural chauvinism,” a “quasi-messianic sense of manifest destiny,”
and “an undercurrent of expansionism.”25 After the October 1973 war, when American support for
Israel peaked, Howe published a personal manifesto “filled with anxiety so intense” in defense of
isolated Israel. The Gentile world, he lamented in a Woody Allen-like parody, was awash with
anti-Semitism. Even in Upper Manhattan, he lamented, Israel was “no longer chic”: everyone, apart
from himself, was allegedly in thrall to Mao, Fanon and Guevara.26
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As America’s strategic asset, Israel was not without critics. Besides the increasing international
censure of its refusal to negotiate a settlement with the Arabs in accordance with United Nations
resolutions and its truculent support of American global ambitions,27 Israel had to cope with domestic
US dissent as well. In American ruling circles, so-called Arabists maintained that putting all the eggs
in the Israel basket while ignoring Arab elites undermined US national interests.
Some argued that Israel’s subordination to US power and occupation of neighboring Arab states were
not only wrong in principle but also harmful to its own interests. Israel would become increasingly
militarized and alienated from the Arab world. For Israel’s new American Jewish “supporters,”
however, such talk bordered on heresy: an independent Israel at peace with its neighbors was
worthless; an Israel aligned with currents in the Arab world seeking independence from the United
States was a disaster. Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then
could US Jewish leaders act as the spokesmen for American imperial ambitions. Noam Chomsky has
suggested that these “supporters of Israel” should more properly be called “supporters of the moral
degeneration and ultimate destruction of Israel.”
To protect their strategic asset, American Jewish elites «remembered» The Holocaust.29 The
conventional account is that they did so because, at the time of the June war, they believed Israel to be
in mortal danger and were thus gripped by fears of a «second Holocaust.” This claim does not
withstand scrutiny.
Consider the first Arab Israeli war. On the eve of independence in 1948, the threat against Palestinian
Jews seemed far more ominous. David Ben-Gurion declared that “700,000 Jews” were “pitted against
27 million Arabs — one against forty.” The United States joined a UN arms embargo on the region,
solidifying a clear edge in weaponry enjoyed by the Arab armies. Fears of another Nazi Final Solution
haunted American Jewry. Deploring that the Arab states were now “arming Hitler’s henchman, the
Mufti, while the United States was enforcing its arms embargo,” the AJC anticipated “mass suicide
and a complete holocaust in Palestine.” Even Secretary of State George Marshall and the CIA openly
predicted certain Jewish defeat in the event of war.30 Although the “stronger side, in fact, won”
(historian Benny Morris), it was not a walkover for Israel. During the first months of the war, in early
1948, and especially as independence was declared in May, Israel’s chances for survival were put at
“fifty-fifty” by Yigael Yadin, Haganah chief of operations. Without a secret Czech arms deal, Israel
would likely not have survived.31 After fighting for a year, Israel suffered 6,000 casualties, one
percent of its population. Why, then, did The Holocaust not become a focus of American Jewish life
after the 1948 war?
Israel quickly proved to be far less vulnerable in 1967 than in its independence struggle. Israeli and
American leaders knew beforehand that Israel would easily prevail in a war with the Arab states. This
reality became strikingly obvious as Israel routed its Arab neighbors in a few days. As Novick reports,
“There were surprisingly few explicit references to the Holocaust in American Jewish mobilization on
behalf of Israel before the war.”32 The Holocaust industry sprung up only after Israel’s overwhelming
display of military dominance and flourished amid extreme Israeli triumphalism.33 The standard
interpretative framework cannot explain these anomalies.
Israel’s shocking initial reverses and substantial casualties during, and increasing international
isolation after, the October 1973 Arab Israeli war — conventional accounts maintain – exacerbated
American Jewish fears of Israel’s vulnerability. Accordingly, Holocaust memory now moved center
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stage. Novick typically reports: “Among American Jews . . . the situation of a vulnerable and isolated
Israel came to be seen as terrifyingly similar to that of European Jewry thirty years earlier…. [Tlalk of
the Holocaust not only ‘took off’ in America but became increasing [sic] institutionalized.”34 Yet
Israel had edged close to the precipice and, in both relative and absolute terms, suffered many more
casualties in the 1948 war than in 1973.
True, except for its alliance with the US, Israel was out of favor internationally after the October 1973
war. Compare, however, the 1956 Suez war. Israel and organized American Jewry alleged that, on the
eve of the Sinai invasion, Egypt threatened Israel’s very existence, and that a full Israeli withdrawal
from Sinai would fatally undermine lsrael’s vital interests: her survival as a state.”35 The international
community nonetheless stood firm. Recounting his brilliant performance at the UN General
Assembly, Abba Eban ruefully recalled, however, that “having applauded the speech with sustained
and vigorous applause, it had gone on to vote against us by a huge majority.”36 The United States
figured prominently in this consensus. Not only did Eisenhower force Israel’s withdrawal, but US
public support for Israel fell into “frightening decline” (historian Peter Grose).37 By contrast,
immediately after the 1973 war, the United States provided Israel with massive military assistance,
much greater than it had in the preceding four years combined, while American public opinion firmly
backed Israel.38 This was the occasion when “talk of the Holocaust . . . ‘took off’ in America,” at a
time when Israel was less isolated than it had been in 1956.
In fact, the Holocaust industry did not move center stage because Israel’s unexpected setbacks during,
and pariah status following, the October 1973 war prompted memories of the Final Solution. Rather,
Sadat’s impressive military showing in the October war convinced US and Israeli policy elites that a
diplomatic settlement with Egypt, including the return of Egyptian lands seized in June 1967, could no
longer be avoided. To increase Israel’s negotiating leverage the Holocaust industry increased
production quotas. The crucial point is that after the 1973 war Israel was not isolated from the United
States: these developments occurred within the framework of the US Israeli alliance, which remained
fully intact.39 The historical record strongly suggests that, if Israel had truly been alone after the
October war, American Jewish elites would no more have remembered the Nazi holocaust than they
did after the 1948 or 1956 war.
Novick provides ancillary explanations that are even less convincing. Quoting religious Jewish
scholars, for example, he suggests that “the Six Day War offered a folk theology of ‘Holocaust and
Redemption.'” The “light” of the June 1967 victory redeemed the “darkness” of the Nazi genocide: “it
had given God a second chance.” The Holocaust could emerge in American life only after June 1967
because “the extermination of European Jewry attained [an] — if not happy, at least viable — ending.”
Yet in standard Jewish accounts, not the June war but Israel’s founding marked redemption. Why did
The Holocaust have to await a second redemption? Novick maintains that the “image of Jews as
military heroes» in the June war “worked to efface the stereotype of weak and passive victims which .
. . previously inhibited Jewish discussion of the Holocaust.”40 Yet for sheer courage, the 1948 war
was Israel’s finest hour. And Moshe Dayan’s “daring” and “brilliant” 100-hour Sinai campaign in 1956
prefigured the swift victory in June 1967. Why, then, did American Jewry require the June war to
“efface the stereotype”?
Novick’s account of how American Jewish elites came to instrumentalize the Nazi holocaust is not
persuasive. Consider these representative passages:
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As American Jewish leaders sought to understand the reasons for Israel’s isolation and vulnerability —
reasons that might suggest a remedy — the explanation commanding the widest support was that the
fading of the memories of Nazism’s crimes against the Jews, and the arrival on the scene of a
generation ignorant of the Holocaust, had resulted in Israel’s losing the support it had once enjoyed.
[W]hile American Jewish organizations could do nothing to alter the recent past in the Middle East,
and precious little to affect its future, they could work to revive memories of the Holocaust. So the
“fading memories» explanation offered an agenda for action. [emphasis in original]41
Why did the “fading memories» explanation for Israel’s post-1967 predicament «command[] the
widest support”? Surely this was an improbable explanation. As Novick himself copiously documents,
the support Israel initially garnered had little to do with “memories of Nazism’s crimes,”42 and,
anyhow, these memories had faded long before Israel lost international support. Why could Jewish
elites do “precious little to affect» Israel’s future? Surely they controlled a formidable organizational
network. Why was “reviv[ing] memories of the Holocaust” the only agenda for action? Why not
support the international consensus that called for Israel’s withdrawal from the lands occupied in the
June war as well as a “just and lasting peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors (UN Resolution
A more coherent, if less charitable, explanation is that American Jewish elites remembered the Nazi
holocaust before June 1967 only when it was politically expedient. Israel, their new patron, had
capitalized on the Nazi holocaust during the Eichmann trial.43 Given its proven utility, organized
American Jewry exploited the Nazi holocaust after the June war. Once ideologically recast, The
Holocaust (capitalized as I have previously noted) proved to be the perfect weapon for deflecting
criticism of Israel. Exactly how I will illustrate presently. What deserves emphasis here, however, is
that for American Jewish elites The Holocaust performed the same function as Israel: another
invaluable chip in a high-stakes power game. The avowed concern for Holocaust memory was as
contrived as the avowed concern for Israel’s fate.44 Thus, organized American Jewry quickly forgave
and forgot Ronald Reagan’s demented 1985 declaration at Bitburg cemetery that the German soldiers
(including Waffen SS members) buried there were victims of the Nazis just as surely as the victims in
the concentration camps.” In 1988, Reagan was honored with the “Humanitarian of the Year” award
by one of the most prominent Holocaust institutions, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, for his “staunch
support of Israel,” and in 1994 with the “Torch of Liberty” award by the pro-lsrael ADL. 45
The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s earlier outburst in 1979 that he was “sick and tired of hearing about the
Holocaust” was not so quickly forgiven or forgotten, however. Indeed, the attacks by American
Jewish elites on Jackson never let up, although not for his “anti-Semitic remarks” but rather for his
“espousal of the Palestinian position” (Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab).46 In Jackson’s case, an
additional factor was at work: he represented domestic constituencies with which organized American
Jewry had been at loggerheads since the late 1960s. In these conflicts, too, The Holocaust proved to be
a potent ideological weapon.
It was not Israel’s alleged weakness and isolation, not the fear of a “second Holocaust,” but rather its
proven strength and strategic alliance with the United States that led Jewish elites to gear up the
Holocaust industry after June 1967. However unwittingly, Novick provides the best evidence to
support that conclusion. To prove that power considerations, not the Nazi Final Solution, determined
American policy toward Israel, he writes: “It was when the Holocaust was freshest in the mind of
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American leaders — the first twenty-five years after the end of the war – that the United States was
least supportive of Israel…. It was not when Israel was perceived as weak and vulnerable, but after it
demonstrated its strength, in the Six Day War, that American aid to Israel changed from a trickle to a
flood” (emphasis in original).47 That argument applies with equal force to American Jewish elites.
There are also domestic sources of the Holocaust industry. Mainstream interpretations point to the
recent emergence of “identity politics,” on the one hand, and the “culture of victimization,” on the
other. In effect, each identity was grounded in a particular history of oppression; Jews accordingly
sought their own ethnic identity in the Holocaust.
Yet, among groups decrying their victimization, including Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans,
women, gays and lesbians, Jews alone are not disadvantaged in American society. In fact, identity
politics and The Holocaust have taken hold among American Jews not because of victim status but
because they are not victims.
As anti-Semitic barriers quickly fell away after World War 11, Jews rose to preeminence in the United
States. According to Lipset and Raab, per capita Jewish income is almost double that of non-Jews;
sixteen of the forty wealthiest Americans are Jews; 40 percent of American Nobel Prize winners in
science and economics are Jewish, as are 20 Percent of professors at major universities; and 40
percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington.
The list goes on.48 Far from constituting an obstacle to success, Jewish identity has become the
crown of that success. Just as many Jews kept Israel at arm’s length when it constituted a liability and
became born-again Zionists when it constituted an asset, so they kept their ethnic identity at arm’s
length when it constituted a liability and became born-again Jews when it constituted an asset.
Indeed, the secular success story of American Jewry validated a core – perhaps the sole – tenet of their
newly acquired identity as Jews. Who could any longer dispute that Jews were a “chosen” peopled In
A Certain People: American Jews and Their Lives Today, Charles Silberman – himself a born-again
Jew — typically gushes: “Jews would have been less than human had they eschewed any notion of
superiority altogether,” and “it is extraordinarily difficult for American Jews to expunge the sense of
superiority altogether, however much they may try to suppress it.” What an American Jewish child
inherits, according to novelist Philip Roth, is “no body of law, no body of learning and no language,
and finally, no Lord . . . but a kind of psychology: and the psychology can be translated in three
words: ‘Jews are better.”’49 As will be seen presently, The Holocaust was the negative version of their
vaunted worldly success: it served to validate Jewish chosenness.
By the 1970s, anti-Semitism was no longer a salient feature of American life. Nonetheless, Jewish
leaders started sounding alarm bells that American Jewry was threatened by a virulent “new
anti-Semitism.”50 The main exhibits of a prominent ADL study (“for those who have died because
they were Jews”) included the Broadway show Jesus Christ Superstar and a counterculture tabloid
that “portrayed Kissinger as a fawning sycophant, coward, bully, flatterer, tyrant, social climber, evil
manipulator, insecure snob, unprincipled seeker after power” – in the event, an understatement.51
For organized American Jewry, this contrived hysteria over a new anti-Semitism served multiple
purposes. It boosted Israel’s stock as the refuge of last resort if and when American Jews needed one.
Moreover, the fund-raising appeals of Jewish organizations purportedly combating anti-Semitism fell
on more receptive ears. “The anti-Semite is in the unhappy position,” Sartre once observed, “of having
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a vital need for the very enemy he wishes to destroy.”52 For these Jewish organizations the reverse is
equally true. With anti-Semitism in short supply, a cutthroat rivalry between major Jewish “defense»
organizations – in particular, the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center – has erupted in recent
years.53 In the matter of fund-raising, incidentally, the alleged threats confronting Israel serve a
similar purpose. Returning from a trip to the United States, the respected Israeli journalist Danny
Rubinstein reported: “According to most of the people in the Jewish establishment the important thing
is to stress again and again the external dangers that face Israel…. The Jewish establishment in
America needs Israel only as a victim of cruel Arab attack. For such an Israel one can get support,
donors, money…. Everybody knows the official tally of the contributions collected in the United
Jewish Appeal in America, where the name of Israel is used and about half of the sum goes not to
Israel but to the Jewish institutions in America. Is there a greater cynicism?” As we will see, the
Holocaust industry’s exploitation of “needy Holocaust victims” is the latest and, arguably, ugliest
manifestation of this cynicism.54
The main ulterior motive for sounding the anti-Semitism alarm bells, however, lay elsewhere. As
American Jews enjoyed greater secular success, they moved steadily to the right politically. Although
still left-of-center on cultural questions such as sexual morality and abortion, Jews grew increasingly
conservative on politics and the economy.55 Complementing the rightward turn was an inward turn,
as Jews, no longer mindful of past allies among the have-nots, increasingly earmarked their resources
for Jewish concerns only. This reorientation of American Jewry56 was clearly evident in growing
tensions between Jews and Blacks. Traditionally aligned with black people against caste
discrimination in the United States, many Jews broke with the Civil Rights alliance in the late 1 960s
when, as Jonathan Kaufman reports, “the goals of the civil rights movement were shifting – from
demands for political and legal equality to demands for economic equality.” “When the civil rights
movement moved north, into the neighborhoods of these liberal Jews,” Cheryl Greenberg similarly
recalls, «the question of integration took on a different tone. With concerns now couched in class
rather than racial terms, Jews Red to the suburbs almost as quickly as white Christians to avoid what
they perceived as the deterioration of their schools and neighborhoods.” The memorable climax was
the protracted 1968 New York City teachers’ strike, which pitted a largely Jewish professional union
against Black community activists fighting for control of failing schools. Accounts of the strike often
refer to fringe anti-Semitism. The eruption of Jewish racism – not far below the surface before the
strike — is less often remembered. More recently, Jewish publicists and organizations have figured
prominently in efforts to dismantle affirmative action programs. In key Supreme Court tests —
DeFunis (1974) and Bakke (1978) — the AJC, ADL, and AJ Congress, apparently reflecting
mainstream Jewish sentiment, all filed amicus briefs opposing affirmative action.57
Moving aggressively to defend their corporate and class interests, Jewish elites branded all opposition
to their new conservative policies anti-Semitic. Thus ADL head Nathan Perlmutter maintained that the
«real anti-Semitism» in America consisted of policy initiatives «corrosive of Jewish interests,” such as
affirmative action, cuts in the defense budget, and neo-isolationism, as well as opposition to nuclear
power and even Electoral College reform.58
In this ideological offensive, The Holocaust came to play a critical role. Most obviously, evoking
historic persecution deflected present-day criticism. Jews could even gesture to the “quota system”
from which they suffered in the past as a pretext for opposing affirmative action programs. Beyond
this, however, the Holocaust framework apprehended anti-Semitism as a strictly irrational Gentile
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loathing of Jews. It precluded the possibility that animus toward Jews might be grounded in a real
conflict of interests (more on this later). Invoking The Holocaust was therefore a ploy to delegitimize
all criticism of Jews: such criticism could only spring from pathological hatred.
Just as organized Jewry remembered The Holocaust when Israeli power peaked, so it remembered The
Holocaust when American Jewish power peaked. The pretense, however, was that, there and here,
Jews faced an imminent «second Holocaust.” Thus American Jewish elites could strike heroic poses
as they indulged in cowardly bullying. Norman Podhoretz, for example, pointed up the new Jewish
resolve after the June 1967 war to «resist any who would in any way and to any degree and for any
reason whatsoever attempt to do us harm…. We would from now on stand our ground.”59 Just as
Israelis, armed to the teeth by the United States, courageously put unruly Palestinians in their place, so
American Jews courageously put unruly Blacks in their place.
Lording it over those least able to defend themselves: that is the real content of organized American
Jewry’s reclaimed courage.
1 Gore Vidal, “The Empire Lovers Strike Back,” in Nation (22 March 1986).
2 Rochelle G. Saidel, Never Too Late to Remember (New York 1996),32.
3 Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, revised and enlarged
edition (New York: 1965), 282. The situation in Germany wasn’t much different. For example,
Joachim Fest’s justly admired biography of Hitler, published in Germany in 1973, devotes just four of
750 pages to the extermination of the Jews and a mere paragraph to Auschwitz and other death camps.
Joachim C. Fest, Hitler [New York: 1975], 679-82)
4 Raul Hilberg, The Politics of Memory (Chicago: 1996), 66, 105 – 37. As with scholarship, the
quality of the few films on the Nazi holocaust was, however, quite impressive. Amazingly, Stanley
Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) explicitly refers to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes’s 1927 decision sanctioning sterilization of the “mentally unfit” as a precursor of Nazi
eugenics programs; Winston Churchill’s praise for Hitler as late as 1938; the arming of Hitler by
profiteering American industrialists; and the opportunist postwar acquittal of German industrialists by
the American military tribunal.
5 Nathan Glazer, American Judaism (Chicago: 1957), 114. Stephen J. Whitfield, “The Holocaust and
the American Jewish Intellectual,” in Judaism (Fall 1979)
6 For sensitive commentary on these two contrasting types of survivor, see Primo Levi, The
Reawakening, with a new afterword (New York: 1986),207
7 In this text, Jewish elites designates individuals prominent in the organizational and cultural life of
the mainstream Jewish community.
8 Shlomo Shafir, Ambiguous Relations: The American Jewish Community and Germany Since 1945
(Detroit 1999), 88, 98, 100 – 1, 111, 113, 114, 177, 192, 215, 231,251.
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9 Ibid., 98,106,123-37,205,215-16,249. Robert Warshaw, “The ‘Idealism’ of Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg,” in Commentary (November 1953). was it merely a coincidence that at the same time,
mainstream Jewish organizations crucified Hannah Arendt for pointing up the collaboration of
aggrandizing Jewish elites during the Nazi era? Recalling the perfidious role of the Jewish Council
police force, Yitzhak Zuckerman, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, observed ‘There weren’t
any ‘decent’ policemen because decent men took off the uniform and became simple Jews» (A Surplus
of Memory [Oxford 1993], 244).
10 Novick, The Holocaust, 98-100. In addition to the Cold war, other factors played an ancillary role
in American Jewry’s postwar downplaying of the Nazi holocaust ~ for example, fear of anti-Semitism,
and the optimistic, assimilationist American ethos in the 1950s. Novick explores these matters in
chapters 4-7 of The Holocaust.
11 Apparently the only one denying this connection is Elie Wiesel, who claims that the emergence of
The Holocaust m American Life was primarily his doing. (Saidel, Never Too Late, 33-4)
12 Menahem Kaufman, An Ambiguous Partnership (Jerusalem 1991), 218, 276 – 7.
13 Arthur Hertzberg, Jewish Polemics (New York: 1992), 33; although misleadingly apologetic, cf.
Isaac Alteras, “Eisenhower, American Jewry, and Israel,» in American Jewish Archives (November
1985), and Michael Reiner, “The Reaction of US Jewish Organizations to the Sinai Campaign and Its
Aftermath,” in Forum (winter 1980 – 1).
14 Nathan Glazer, American Judaism (Chicago: 1957), 114. Glazer continued: “Israel has meant
almost nothing for American Judaism [T]he idea that Israel could in any serious way affect Judaism in
America is recognized as illusory” (115).
15 Shafir, Ambiguous Relations, 222.
16 See, for example, Alexander Bloom, Prodigal Sons (New York: 1986).
17 Lucy Dawidowicz and Milton Himmelfarb (eds), Conference on Jewish Identity Here and Now
(American Jewish Committee: 1967).
18 After emigrating from Germany in 1933, Arendt became an activist in the French Zionist
movement; during World War II through Israel’s founding, she wrote extensively on Zionism. The son
of a prominent American Hebraist, Chomsky was raised in a Zionist home and, shortly after Israel’s
independence, spent time on a kibbutz. Both the public campaigns vilifying Arendt in the early 1960s
and Chomsky m the 1970s were spearheaded by the ADL. (Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt
[New Haven 1982], 105 – 8,138 – 9, 143 – 4,182 – 4,223 – 33, 348; Robert F. Barsky, Noam Chomsky
[Cambridge 1997], 9 – 93; David Barsamian (ad.), Chronicles of Dissent [Monroe, ME: 19921, 38)
19 For an early prefigurement of my argument, see Hannah Arendt, “Zionism Reconsidered” (1944),
m Ron Feldman (ed.), The Jew as Pariah (New York: 1978),159.
20 Making It (New York: 1967),336.
21 Breaking Ranks (New York: 1979),335.
22 Robert I. Friedman, “The Anti-Defamation League Is Spying on You,” in Village Voice (11 May
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1993). Abdeen Jabara, “The Anti-Defamation League: Civic Rights and Wrongs,” in Covert Action
(Summer 1993). Matt Isaacs, “Spy vs Spite,” in SF Weekly (2 – 8 February 2000).
23 Elie Wiesel, Against Silence, selected and edited by Irving Abrahamson (New York: 1984), v. i,
24 Novick, The Holocaust, 147. Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The Jewish Presence (New York: 1977), 26.
25 “Eruption in the Middle East,” in Dissent (Winter 1957).
26 “Israel: Thinking the Unthinkable,” in New York magazine (24 December 1973).
27 Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel — Palestine Conflict (New York: 1995),
chaps 5-6.
28 Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle (Boston 1983), 4.
29 Elie Wiesel’s career illuminates the nexus between The Holocaust and the June war. Although he
had already published his memoir of Auschwitz, Wiesel won public acclaim only after writing two
volumes celebrating Israel’s victory. (Wiesel, And the Sea, 16)
30 Kaufman, Ambiguous Partnership, 287, 306 – 7. Steven L. Spiegel, The Other Arab Israeli Conflict
(Chicago: 1985), 17, 32.
31 Benny Morris, 1948 And After (Oxford 1990), 14 – 15. Uri Bialer, Between East and West
(Cambridge 1990), 180-1
32 Novick, The Holocaust, 148.
33 See, for example, Amnon Kapeliouk, Israel: la fin des mythes (Paris: 1975).
34 Novick, The Holocaust, 152.
35 Commentary, “Letter from Israel” (February 1957). Throughout the Suez crisis, Commentary
repeatedly sounded the warning that Israel’s “very survival” was at stake.
36 Abba Eban, Personal Witness (New York 1992), 272.
37 Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America (New York 1983), 304.
38 A.F.K. Organski, The $36 Billion Bargain (New York 1990), 163, 48.
39 Finkelstein, Image and Reality, chap. 6.
40 Novick, The Holocaust, 149-50. Novick cites here the noted Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner.
41 Ibid., 153, 155.
42 Ibid.. 69-77.
43 Tom Segev, The Seventh Million (New York: 1993), part Vl.
44 Concern for survivors of the Nazi holocaust was equally contrived a liability before June 1967,
they were silenced; an asset after June 1967, they were sanctified.
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45 Response (December 198S). Prominent Holocaust-mongers and Israel-supporters like ADL
national director Abraham Foxman, past president of the AJC Morris Abram, and chairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Kenneth Bialkin, not to mention
Henry Kissinger, all rose to Reagan’s defense during the Bitburg visit, while the AJC hosted west
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s loyal foreign minister as the guest of honor at its annual meeting
the same week. In like spirit, Michael Berenbaum of the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum
later attributed Reagan’s Bitburg trip and statements to “the naive sense of American optimisms,
(Shafir, Ambiguous Relations, 302 – 4; Berenbaum, After Tragedy, 14)
46 Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, Jews and the New American Scene (Cambridge 1995), 159.
47 Novick, The Holocaust, 166.
48 Lipset and Raab, Jews, 26 – 7.
49 Charles Silberman, A Certain People (New York: 1985), 78, 80, 81.
50 Novick, The Holocaust, 170-2.
51 Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein, The New Anti-Semitism (New York: 1974, 107.
52 Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew (New York 1965), 28.
53 Saidel, Never Too Late, 222. Seth Mnookin, “Will NYPD Look to Los Angeles For Latest
‘Sensitivity’ Training?” in Forward (7 January 2000). The article reports that the ADL and Simon
Wiesenthal Center are vying for the franchise on programs teaching “tolerance.”
54 Noam Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors (New York 19S6), 29 – 30 (Rubmstein).
55 For a survey of recent poll data confirming this trend, see Murray Friedman, “Are American Jews
Moving to the Right?” in Commentary (April 2000). In the 1997 New York City mayoral contest
pitting Ruth Messinger, a mainstream Democrat, against Rudolph Giuliani, a law-and-order
Republican, for example, fully 75% of the Jewish vote went for Giuliani. Significantly, to vote for
Giuliani, Jews had to cross traditional party as well as ethnic lines (Messinger is Jewish).
56 It seems that the shift was also in part due to the displacement of a cosmopolitan Central European
Jewish leadership by arriviste and shtetl chauvinist Jews of Eastern European descent like New York
City mayor Edward Koch and New York Times executive editor A.M. Rosenthal. In this regard it bears
notice that the Jewish historians dissenting from Holocaust dogmatism have typically come from
Central Europe — for example, Hannah Arendt, Henry Friedlander, Raul Hilberg, and Arno Mayer.
57 See, e.g., Jack Salzman and Cornel West (eds), Strangers in the Promised Land (New York: 1997),
esp. chaps 6, 8, 9, 14, 15. (Kaufman at 111; Greenberg at 166) To be sure, a vocal minority of Jews
dissented from this rightward drift.
58 Nathan Perlmutter and Ruth Ann Perlmutter, The Real Anti-Semitism in America (New York:
59 Novick, The Holocaust, 173 (Podhoretz)
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Chapter 2
“Holocaust awareness,” the respected Israeli writer Boas Evron observes, is actually “an official,
propagandistic indoctrination, a churning out of slogans and a false view of the world, the real aim of
which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the present.” In and of itself, the
Nazi holocaust does not serve any particular political agenda. It can just as easily motivate dissent
from as support for Israeli policy. Refracted through an ideological prism, however, “the memory of
the Nazi extermination” came to serve — in Evron’s words — “as a powerful tool in the hands of the
Israeli leadership and Jews abroad.1 The Nazi holocaust became The Holocaust.
Two central dogmas underpin the Holocaust framework: (1) The Holocaust marks a categorically
unique historical event; (2) The Holocaust marks the climax of an irrational, eternal Gentile hatred of
Jews. Neither of these dogmas figured at all in public discourse before the June 1967 war; and,
although they became the centerpieces of Holocaust literature, neither figures at all in genuine
scholarship on the Nazi holocaust.2 On the other hand, both dogmas draw on important strands in
Judaism and Zionism.
In the aftermath of World War II, the Nazi holocaust was not cast as a uniquely Jewish — let alone a
historically unique — event. Organized American Jewry in particular was at pains to place it in a
universalist context. After the June war, however, the Nazi Final Solution was radically reframed.
“The first and most important claim that emerged from the 1967 war and became emblematic of
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American Judaism,” Jacob Neusner recalls, was that “the Holocaust . . . was unique, without parallel
in human history.”3 In an illuminating essay, historian David Stannard ridicules the “small industry of
Holocaust hagiographers arguing for the uniqueness of the Jewish experience with all the energy and
ingenuity of theological zealots.”4 The uniqueness dogma, after all, makes no sense.
At the most basic level, every historical event is unique, if merely by virtue of time and location, and
every historical event bears distinctive features as well as features in common with other historical
events. The anomaly of The Holocaust is that its uniqueness is held to be absolutely decisive. What
other historical event, one might ask, is framed largely for its categorical uniqueness? Typically,
distinctive features of The Holocaust are isolated in order to place the event in a category altogether
apart. It is never clear, however, why the many common features should be reckoned trivial by
All Holocaust writers agree that The Holocaust is unique, but few, if any, agree why. Each time an
argument for Holocaust uniqueness is empirically refuted, a new argument is adduced in its stead. The
results, according to Jean-Michel Chaumont, are multiple, conflicting arguments that annul each other:
“Knowledge does not accumulate. Rather, to improve on the former argument, each new one starts
from zero.”5 Put otherwise: uniqueness is a given in the Holocaust framework; proving it is the
appointed task, and disproving it is equivalent to Holocaust denial. Perhaps the problem lies with the
premise, not the proof. Even if The Holocaust were unique, what difference would it make? How
would it change our understanding if the Nazi holocaust were not the first but the fourth or fifth in a
line of comparable catastrophes?
The most recent entry into the Holocaust uniqueness sweepstakes is Steven Katz’s The Holocaust in
Historical Context. Citing nearly 5,000 titles in the first of a projected three-volume study, Katz
surveys the full sweep of human history in order to prove that “the Holocaust is phenomenologically
unique by virtue of the fact that never before has a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and
actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman and child belonging to a specific
people.” Clarifying his thesis, Katz explains: “f is uniquely C. f may share A, B. D, . . . X with s but
not C. And again f may share A, B. D, . . . X with all s but not C. Everything essential turns, as it
were, on i; being uniquely C . . . pi lacking C is not J…. By definition, no exceptions to this rule are
allowed. s sharing A, B. D, . . . X with ~ may be like ~ in these and other respects . . . but as regards
our definition of uniqueness any or all s lacking C are not f…. Of course, in its totality f is more than
C, but it is never ~ without C.” Translation: A historical event containing a distinct feature is a distinct
historical event. To avoid any confusion, Katz further elucidates that he uses the term
phenomenologically “in a non-Husserlian, non-Shutzean, non-Schelerian, non-Heideggerian,
non-Merleau-Pontyan sense.” Translation: The Katz enterprise is phenomenal non-sense.6 Even if the
evidence sustained Katz’s central thesis, which it does not, it would only prove that The Holocaust
contained a distinct feature. The wonder would be were it otherwise. Chaumont infers that Katz’s
study is actually «ideology» masquerading as “science,” more on which presently.7
Only a flea’s hop separates the claim of Holocaust uniqueness from the claim that The Holocaust
cannot be rationally apprehended. If The Holocaust is unprecedented in history, it must stand above
and hence cannot be grasped by history. Indeed, The Holocaust is unique because it is inexplicable,
and it is inexplicable because it is unique.
Dubbed by Novick the “sacralization of the Holocaust,” this mystifications’s most practiced purveyor
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is Elie Wiesel. For Wiesel, Novick rightly observes, The Holocaust is effectively a “mystery” religion.
Thus Wiesel intones that the Holocaust “leads into darkness,” “negates all answers,” “lies outside, if
not beyond, history,” “defies both knowledge and description,” “cannot be explained nor visualized,”
is “never to be comprehended or transmitted,” marks a “destruction of history” and a “mutation on a
cosmic scale.” Only the survivor-priest (read: only Wiesel) is qualified to divine its mystery. And yet,
The Holocaust’s mystery, Wiesel avows, is “noncommunicable”; “we cannot even talk about it.” Thus,
for his standard fee of $25,000 (plus chauffeured limousine), Wiesel lectures that the “secret” of
Auschwitz’s “truth lies in silence.”8
Rationally comprehending The Holocaust amounts, in this view, to denying it. For rationality denies
The Holocaust’s uniqueness and mystery. And to compare The Holocaust with the sufferings of others
constitutes, for Wiesel, a “total betrayal of Jewish history.”9 Some years back, the parody of a New
York tabloid was headlined: “Michael Jackson, 60 Million Others, Die in Nuclear Holocaust.” The
letters page carried an irate protest from Wiesel: “How dare people refer to what happened yesterday
as a Holocaust? There was only one Holocaust….” In his new memoir Wiesel, proving that life can
also imitate spoof, reprimands Shimon Peres for speaking “without hesitation of ‘the two holocausts’
of the twentieth century: Auschwitz and Hiroshima. He shouldn’t have.”10 A favorite Wiesel tag line
declares that «the universality of the Holocaust lies in its uniqueness.”11 But if it is incomparably and
incomprehensibly unique, how can The Holocaust have a universal dimension?
The Holocaust uniqueness debate is sterile. Indeed, the claims of Holocaust uniqueness have come to
constitute a form of “intellectual terrorism” (Chaumont). Those practicing the normal comparative
procedures of scholarly inquiry must first enter a thousand and one caveats to ward off the accusation
of “trivializing The Holocaust.”12
A subtext of the Holocaust uniqueness claim is that The Holocaust was uniquely evil. However
terrible, the suffering of others simply does not compare. Proponents of Holocaust uniqueness
typically disclaim this implication, but such demurrals are disingenuous.13
The claims of Holocaust uniqueness are intellectually barren and morally discreditable, yet they
persist. The question is, Why? In the first place, unique suffering confers unique entitlement. The
unique evil of the Holocaust, according to Jacob Neusner, not only sets Jews apart from others, but
also gives Jews a “claim upon those others.”
For Edward Alexander, the uniqueness of The Holocaust is “moral capital”; Jews must “claim
sovereignty” over this «valuable property.”14
In effect, Holocaust uniqueness – this “claim” upon others, this “moral capital” – serves as Israel’s prize
alibi. “The singularity of the Jewish suffering,” historian Peter Baldwin suggests, “adds to the moral
and emotional claims that Israel can make . . . on other nations.”15 Thus, according to Nathan Glazer,
The Holocaust, which pointed to the “peculiar distinctiveness of the Jews,” gave Jews “the right to
consider themselves specially threatened and specially worthy of whatever efforts were necessary for
survival.”16 (emphasis in original) To cite one typical example, every account of Israel’s decision to
develop nuclear weapons evokes the specter of The Holocaust.” As if Israel otherwise would not have
gone nuclear.
There is another factor at work. The claim of Holocaust uniqueness is a claim of Jewish uniqueness.
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Not the suffering of Jews but that Jews suffered is what made The Holocaust unique. Or: The
Holocaust is special because Jews are special. Thus Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish
Theological Seminary, ridicules the Holocaust uniqueness claim as “a distasteful secular version of
chosenness.”18 Vehement as he is about the uniqueness of The Holocaust, Elie Wiesel is no less
vehement that Jews are unique. “Everything about us is different.” Jews are “ontologically”
exceptional.19 Marking the climax of a millennial Gentile hatred of Jews, The Holocaust attested not
only to the unique suffering of Jews but to Jewish uniqueness as well.
During and in the aftermath of World War 11, Novick reports, “hardly anyone inside [the US]
government – and hardly anyone outside it, Jew or Gentile — would have understood the phrase
‘abandonment of the Jews.'” A reversal set in after June 1967. “The world’s silence,” “the world’s
indifference,” “the abandonment of the Jews”. these themes became a staple of “Holocaust
Appropriating a Zionist tenet, the Holocaust framework cast Hitler’s Final Solution as the climax of a
millennial Gentile hatred of Jews. The Jews perished because all Gentiles, be it as perpetrators or as
passive collaborators, wanted them dead. “The free and ‘civilized’ world,» according to Wiesel,
handed the Jews «over to the executioner. There were the killers—the murderers – and there were
those who remained silent.”21 The historical evidence for a murderous Gentile impulse is nil. Daniel
Goldhagen’s ponderous effort to prove one variant of this claim in Hitler’s Willing Executioners barely
rose to the comical.22 Its political utility, however, is considerable. One might note, incidentally, that
the “eternal anti-Semitism» theory in fact gives comfort to the anti-Semite. As Arendt says in The
Origins of Totalitarianism, «that this doctrine was adopted by professional anti-Semites is a matter of
course; it gives the best possible alibi for all horrors. If it is true that mankind has insisted on
murdering Jews for more than two thousand years, then Jew-killing is a normal, and even human,
occupation and Jew-hatred is justified beyond the need of argument. The more surprising aspect of
this explanation is that it has been adopted by a great many unbiased historians and by an even greater
number of Jews.”23
The Holocaust dogma of eternal Gentile hatred has served both to justify the necessity of a Jewish
state and to account for the hostility directed at Israel. The Jewish state is the only safeguard against
the next (inevitable) outbreak of homicidal anti-Semitism; conversely, homicidal anti-Semitism is
behind every attack or even defensive maneuver against the Jewish state. To account for criticism of
Israel, fiction writer Cynthia Chick had a ready answer: “The world wants to wipe out the Jews . . . the
world has always wanted to wipe out the Jews.”24 If all the world wants the Jews dead, truly the
wonder is that they are still alive — and, unlike much of humanity, not exactly starving.
This dogma has also conferred total license on Israel: Intent as the Gentiles always are on murdering
Jews, Jews have every right to protect themselves, however they see fit. Whatever expedient Jews
might resort to, even aggression and torture, constitutes legitimate self-defense. Deploring the
“Holocaust lesson” of eternal Gentile hatred, Boas Evron observes that it “is really tantamount to a
deliberate breeding of paranoia…. This mentality … condones in advance any inhuman treatment of
non-Jews, for the prevailing mythology is that ‘all people collaborated with the Nazis in the
destruction of Jewry,’ hence everything is permissible to Jews in their relationship to other
In the Holocaust framework, Gentile anti-Semitism is not only ineradicable but also always irrational.
Going far beyond classical Zionist, let alone standard scholarly, analyses, Goldhagen construes
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anti-Semitism as “divorced from actual Jews,” “fundamentally not a response to any objective
evaluation of Jewish action,” and “independent of Jews’ nature and actions.” A Gentile mental
pathology, its «host domain” is “the mind.” (emphasis in original) Driven by “irrational arguments,”
the anti-Semite, according to Wiesel, “simply resents the fact that the Jew exists.”26 “Not only does
anything Jews do or refrain from doing have nothing to do with anti-Semitism,” sociologist John
Murray Cuddihy critically observes, “but any attempt to explain anti-Semitism by referring to the
Jewish contribution to anti-Semitism is itself an instance of anti-Semitism!” (emphasis in original)27
The point, of course, is not that anti-Semitism is justifiable, nor that Jews are to blame for crimes
committed against them, but that anti-Semitism develops in a specific historical context with its
attendant interplay of interests. “A gifted, well-organized, and largely successful minority can inspire
conflicts that derive from objective inter-group tensions,” Ismar Schorsch points out, although these
conflicts are «often packaged in anti-Semitic stereotypes.”28
The irrational essence of Gentile anti-Semitism is inferred inductively from the irrational essence of
The Holocaust. To wit, Hitler’s Final Solution uniquely lacked rationality—it was «evil for its own
sake,” «purposeless” mass killing; Hitler’s Final Solution marked the culmination of Gentile
anti-Semitism; therefore Gentile anti-Semitism is essentially irrational. Taken apart or together, these
propositions do not withstand even superficial scrutiny.29 Politically, however, the argument is highly
By conferring total blamelessness on Jews, the Holocaust dogma immunizes Israel and American
Jewry from legitimate censure. Arab hostility, African-American hostility: they are “fundamentally
not a response to any objective evaluation of Jewish action” (Goldhagen).30 Consider Wiesel on
Jewish persecution: «For two thousand years . . . we were always threatened…. For what? For no
reason.” On Arab hostility to Israel: “Because of who we are and what our homeland Israel represents
— the heart of our lives, the dream of our dreams -when our enemies try to destroy us, they will do so
by trying to destroy Israel.” On Black people’s hostility to American Jews: “The people who take their
inspiration from us do not thank us but attack us. We find ourselves in a very dangerous situation. We
are again the scapegoat on all sides…. We helped the blacks; we always helped them…. I feel sorry for
blacks. There is one thing they should learn from us and that is gratitude. No people in the world
knows gratitude as we do; we are forever grateful.”31 Ever chastised, ever innocent: this is the burden
of being a Jew.32
The Holocaust dogma of eternal Gentile hatred also validates the complementary Holocaust dogma of
uniqueness. If The Holocaust marked the climax of a millennial Gentile hatred of the Jews, the
persecution of non-Jews in The Holocaust was merely accidental and the persecution of non-Jews in
history merely episodic. From every standpoint, then, Jewish suffering during The Holocaust was
Finally, Jewish suffering was unique because the Jews are unique. The Holocaust was unique because
it was not rational. Ultimately, its impetus was a most irrational, if all-too-human, passion. The
Gentile world hated Jews because of envy, jealousy: resentment. Anti-Semitism, according to Nathan
and Ruth Ann Perlmutter, sprang from “gentile jealousy and resentment of the Jews’ besting Christians
in the marketplace . . . large numbers of less accomplished gentiles resent smaller numbers of more
accomplished Jews.”33 Albeit negatively, The Holocaust thus confirmed the chosenness of Jews.
Because Jews are better, or more successful, they suffered the ire of Gentiles, who then murdered
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In a brief aside, Novick muses «what would talk of the Holocaust be like in America” if Elie Wiesel
were not its “principal interpreter”?34 The answer is not difficult to find: Before June 1967 the
universalist message of concentration camp survivor Bruno Bettelheim resonated among American
Jews. After the June war, Bettelheim was shunted aside in favor of Wiesel. Wiesel’s prominence is a
function of his Ideological utility. Uniqueness of Jewish suffering/uniqueness of the Jews, ever-guilty
Gentiles/ever-innocent Jews, unconditional defense of Israel/unconditional defense of Jewish
interests: Elie Wiesel is The Holocaust.
Articulating the key Holocaust dogmas, much of the literature on Hitler’s Final Solution is worthless
as scholarship. Indeed, the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud.
Especially revealing is the cultural milieu that nurtures this Holocaust literature.
The first major Holocaust hoax was The Painted Bird, by Polish émigré Jerzy Kosinski.35 The book
was «written in English,” Kosinski explained, so that “I could write dispassionately, free from the
emotional connotation one’s native language always contains.» In fact, whatever parts he actually
wrote – an unresolved question -were written in Polish. The book was purported to be Kosinski’s
autobiographical account of his wanderings as a solitary child through rural Poland during World War
II. In fact, Kosinski lived with his parents throughout the war. The book’s motif is the sadistic sexual
tortures perpetrated by the Polish peasantry. Pre-publication readers derided it as a “pornography of
violence” and “the product of a mind obsessed with sadomasochistic violence.” In fact, Kosinski
conjured up almost all the pathological episodes he narrates. The book depicts the Polish peasants he
lived with as virulently anti-Semitic. “Beat the Jews,” they jeer. “Beat the bastards.” In fact, Polish
peasants harbored the Kosinski family even though they were fully aware of their Jewishness and the
dire consequences they themselves faced if caught.
In the New York Times Book Review, Elie Wiesel acclaimed The Painted Bird as «one of the best”
indictments of the Nazi era, “written with deep sincerity and sensitivity.” Cynthia Ozick later gushed
that she «immediately” recognized Kosinski’s authenticity as “a Jewish survivor and witness to the
Holocaust.” Long after Kosinski was exposed as a consummate literary hoaxer, Wiesel continued to
heap encomiums on his “remarkable body of work.”36
The Painted Bird became a basic Holocaust text. It was a best-seller and award-winner, translated into
numerous languages, and required reading in high school and college classes. Doing the Holocaust
circuit, Kosinski dubbed himself a “cut-rate Elie Wiesel.” (Those unable to afford Wiesel’s speaking
fee – “silence” doesn’t come cheap – turned to him.) Finally exposed by an investigative newsweekly,
Kosinski was still stoutly defended by the New York Times, which alleged that he was the victim of a
Communist plot.37
A more recent fraud, Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments,38 borrows promiscuously from the
Holocaust kitsch of The Painted Bird. Like Kosinski, Wilkomirski portrays himself as a solitary child
survivor who becomes mute, winds up in an orphanage and only belatedly discovers that he is Jewish.
Like The Painted Bird, the chief narrative conceit of Fragments is the simple, pared-down voice of a
child-naif, also allowing time frames and place names to remain vague. Like The Painted Bird, each
chapter of Fragments climaxes in an orgy of violence. Kosinski represented The Painted Bird as “the
slow unfreezing of the mind»; Wilkomirski represents Fragments as “recovered memory.”39
A hoax cut out of whole cloth, Fragments is nevertheless the archetypal Holocaust memoir. It is set
first in the concentration camps, where every guard is a crazed, sadistic monster joyfully cracking the
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skulls of Jewish newborns. Yet, the classic memoirs of the Nazi concentration camps concur with
Auschwitz survivor Dr. Ella Lingens-Reiner: “There were few sadists. Not more than five or ten
percent.”40 Ubiquitous German sadism figures prominently, however, in Holocaust literature. Doing
double service, it “documents» the unique irrationality of The Holocaust as well as the fanatical
anti-Semitism of the perpetrators.
The singularity of Fragments lies in its depiction of life not during . but after The Holocaust. Adopted
by a Swiss family, little Binjamin endures yet new torments. He is trapped in a world of Holocaust
deniers. “Forget it — it’s a bad dream,” his mother screams. “It was only a bad dream…. You’re not to
think about it any more.” “Here in this country,” he chafes, “everyone keeps saying I’m to forget, and
that it never happened, I only dreamed it. But they know all about it!”
Even at school, “the boys point at me and make fists and yell: ‘He’s raving, there’s no such thing. Liar!
He’s crazy, mad, he’s an idiot.’ ” (An aside: They were right.) Pummeling him, chanting anti-Semitic
ditties, all the Gentile children line up against poor Binjamin, while the adults keep taunting, “You’re
making it up!”
Driven to abject despair, Binjamin reaches a Holocaust epiphany. “The camp’s still there — just
hidden and well disguised. They’ve taken off their uniforms and dressed themselves up in nice clothes
so as not to be recognized…. Just give them the gentlest of hints that maybe, possibly, you’re a Jew —
and you’ll feel it: these are the same people, and I’m sure of it. They can still kill, even out of
More than a homage to Holocaust dogma, Fragments is the smoking gun: even in Switzerland —
neutral Switzerland — all the Gentiles want to kill the Jews.
Fragments was widely hailed as a classic of Holocaust literature. It was translated into a dozen
languages and won the Jewish National Book Award, the Jewish Quarterly Prize, and the Prix de
Memoire de la Shoah. Star of documentaries, keynoter at Holocaust conferences and seminars,
fund-raiser for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Wilkomirski quickly became a
Holocaust poster boy.
Acclaiming Fragments a “small masterpiece,” Daniel Goldhagen was Wilkomirski’s main academic
champion. Knowledgeable historians like Raul Hilberg, however, early on pegged Fragments as a
fraud. Hilberg also posed the right questions after the fraud’s exposure: “How did this book pass as a
memoir in several publishing houses? How could it have brought Mr. Wilkomirski invitations to the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as recognized universities? How come we have no
decent quality control when it comes to evaluating Holocaust material for publication?”41
Half-fruitcake, half-mountebank, Wilkomirski, it turns out, spent the entire war in Switzerland. He is
not even Jewish. Listen, however, to the Holocaust industry postmortems:
Arthur Samuelson (publisher): Fragments “is a pretty cool book. . . It’s only a fraud if you call it
non-fiction. I would then reissue it, in the fiction, category. Maybe it’s not true — then he’s a better
Carol Brown Janeway (editor and translator): “If the charges . . . turn out to be correct, then what’s at
issue are not empirical facts that can be checked, but spiritual facts that must be pondered. What
would be required is soul-checking, and that’s an impossibility.”
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There’s more. Israel Gutman is a director of Yad Vashem and a Holocaust lecturer at Hebrew
University. He is also a former inmate of Auschwitz. According to Gutman, “it’s not that important”
whether Fragments is a fraud. “Wilkomirski has written a story which he has experienced deeply;
that’s for sure…. He is not a fake. He is someone who lives this story very deeply in his soul. The pain
is authentic.” So it doesn’t matter whether he spent the war in a concentration camp or a Swiss chalet;
Wilkomirski is not a fake if his “pain is authentic”: thus speaks an Auschwitz survivor turned
Holocaust expert. The others deserve contempt; Gutman, just pity.
The New Yorker titled its expose of the Wilkomirski fraud “Stealing the Holocaust.” Yesterday
Wilkomirski was feted for his tales of Gentile evil; today he is chastised as yet another evil Gentile.
It’s always the Gentiles’ fault. True, Wilkomirski fabricated his Holocaust past, but the larger truth is
that the Holocaust industry, built on a fraudulent misappropriation of history for ideological purposes,
was primed to celebrate the Wilkomirski fabrication. He was a Holocaust “survivor” waiting to be
In October 1999, Wilkomirski’s German publisher, withdrawing Fragments from bookstores, finally
acknowledged publicly that he wasn’t a Jewish orphan but a Swiss-born man named Bruno
Doessekker. Informed that the jig was up, Wilkomirski thundered defiantly, “I am Binjamin
Wilkomirski!” Not until a month later did the American publisher, Schocken, drop Fragments from its
Consider now Holocaust secondary literature. A telltale sign of this literature is the space given over
to the “Arab connection.” Although the Mufti of Jerusalem didn’t play “any significant part in the
Holocaust,” Novick reports, the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (edited by Israel Gutman)
gave him a “starring role.” The Mufti also gets top billing in Yad Vashem: “The visitor is left to
conclude,” Tom Segev writes, “that there is much in common between the Nazis’ plans to destroy the
Jews and the Arabs’ enmity to Israel.” At an Auschwitz commemoration officiated by clergy
representing all religious denominations, Wiesel objected only to the presence of a Muslim qadi:
“Were we not forgetting . . . Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husseini of Jerusalem, Heinrich Himmler’s friend?”
Incidentally, if the Multi figured so centrally in Hitler’s Final Solution, the wonder is that Israel didn’t
bring him to justice like Eichmann. He was living openly right next door in Lebanon after the war.43
Especially in the wake of Israel’s ill-fated invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and as official Israeli
propaganda claims came under withering attack by Israel’s “new historians,” apologists desperately
sought to tar the Arabs with Nazism. Famed historian Bernard Lewis managed to devote a full chapter
of his short history of anti-Semitism, and fully three pages of his “brief history of the last 2,000 years»
of the Middle East, to Arab Nazism. At the liberal extreme of the Holocaust spectrum, Michael
Berenbaum of the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum generously allowed that “the stones
thrown by Palestinian youths angered by Israel’s presence . . . are not synonymous with the Nazi
assault against powerless Jewish civilians.”44
The most recent Holocaust extravaganza is Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners.
Every important journal of opinion printed one or more reviews within weeks of its release. The New
York Times featured multiple notices, acclaiming Goldhagen’s book as “one of those rare new works
that merit the appellation landmark” (Richard Bernstein). With sales of half a million copies and
translations slated for 13 languages, Hitler’s Willing Executioners was hailed in Time magazine as the
“most talked about” and second best nonfiction book of the year.45
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Pointing to the “remarkable research,” and “wealth of proof . . . with overwhelming support of
documents and facts,” Elie Wiesel heralded Hitler’s Willing Executioners as a “tremendous
contribution to the understanding and teaching of the Holocaust.” Israel Gutman praised it for “raising
anew clearly central questions” that “the main body of Holocaust scholarship” ignored. Nominated for
the Holocaust chair at Harvard University, paired with Wiesel in the national media, Goldhagen
quickly became a ubiquitous presence on the Holocaust circuit.
The central thesis of Goldhagen’s book is standard Holocaust dogma: driven by pathological hatred,
the German people leapt at the opportunity Hitler availed them to murder the Jews. Even leading
Holocaust writer Yehuda Bauer, a lecturer at the Hebrew University and director of Yad Vashem, has
at times embraced this dogma. Reflecting several years ago on the perpetrators’ mindset, Bauer wrote:
“The Jews were murdered by people who, to a large degree, did not actually hate them…. The
Germans did not have to hate the Jews in order to kill them.” Yet, in a recent review of Goldhagen’s
book, Bauer maintained the exact opposite: “The most radical type of murderous attitudes dominated
from the end of the 1930s onward…. [B]y the outbreak of World War II the vast majority of Germans
had identified with the regime and its anti-Semitic policies to such an extent that it was easy to recruit
the murderers.” Questioned about this discrepancy, Bauer replied: “I cannot see any contradiction
between these statements.”46
Although bearing the apparatus of an academic study, Hitler’s Willing Executioners amounts to little
more than a compendium of sadistic violence. Small wonder that Goldhagen vigorously championed
Wilkomirski: Hitler’s Willing Executioners is Fragments plus footnotes. Replete with gross
misrepresentations of source material and internal contradictions, Hitler’s Willing Executioners is
devoid of scholarly value. In A Nation on Trial, Ruth Bettina Birn and this writer documented the
shoddiness of Goldhagen’s enterprise. The ensuing controversy instructively illuminated the inner
workings of the Holocaust industry.
Birn, the world’s leading authority on the archives Goldhagen consulted, first published her critical
findings in the Cambridge Historical Journal. Refusing the journal’s invitation for a full rebuttal,
Goldhagen instead enlisted a high-powered London law firm to sue Birn and Cambridge University
Press for “many serious libels.” Demanding an apology, a retraction, and a promise from Birn that she
not repeat her criticisms, Goldhagen’s lawyers then threatened that “the generation of any publicity on
your part as a result of this letter would amount to a further aggravation of damages.”47
Soon after this writer’s equally critical findings were published in New Left Review, Metropolitan, an
imprint of Henry Holt, agreed to publish both essays as a book. In a front-page story, the Forward
warned that Metropolitan was “preparing to bring out a book by Norman Finkelstein, a notorious
ideological opponent of the State of Israel.” The Forward acts as the main enforcer of “Holocaust
correctness” in the United States.
Alleging that “Finkelstein’s glaring bias and audacious statements . . . are irreversibly tainted by his
anti-Zionist stance,” ADL head Abraham Foxman called on Holt to drop publication of the book: “The
issue . . . is not whether Goldhagen’s thesis is right or wrong but what is ‘legitimate criticism’ and what
goes beyond the pale.” “Whether Goldhagen’s thesis is right or wrong,” Metropolitan associate
publisher Sara Bershtel replied, “is precisely the issue.”
Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the pro-lsrael New Republic, intervened personally with Holt
president Michael Naumann. “You don’t know who Finkelstein is. He’s poison, he’s a disgusting
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self-hating Jew, he’s something you find under a rock.” Pronouncing Holt’s decision a “disgrace,” Elan
Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, opined, “If they want to be garbagemen
they should wear sanitation uniforms.”
“I have never experienced,” Naumann later recalled, “a similar attempt of interested parties to publicly
cast a shadow over an upcoming publication.” The prominent Israeli historian and journalist, Tom
Segev, observed in Haaretz that the campaign verged on “cultural terrorism.”
As chief historian of the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Section of the Canadian
Department of Justice, Birn next came under attack from Canadian Jewish organizations. Claiming
that I was “anathema to the vast majority of Jews on this continent,” the Canadian Jewish Congress
denounced Birn’s collaboration in the book. Exerting pressure through her employer, the CJC filed a
protest with the Justice Department. This complaint, joined to a CJC-backed report calling Birn “a
member of the perpetrator race” (she is German-born), prompted an official investigation of her.
Even after the book’s publication, the ad hominem assaults did not let up. Goldhagen alleged that Birn,
who has made the prosecution of Nazi war criminals her life’s work, was a purveyor of anti-Semitism,
and that I was of the opinion that Nazism’s victims, including my own family, deserved to died
Goldhagen’s colleagues at the Harvard Center for European Studies, Stanley Hoffmann and Charles
Maier, publicly lined up behind him.49
Calling the charges of censorship a “canard,” The New Republic maintained that “there is a difference
between censorship and upholding standards.” A Nation on Trial received endorsements from the
leading historians on the Nazi holocaust, including Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browning and Ian
Kershaw. These same scholars uniformly dismissed Goldhagen’s book; Hilberg called it “worthless.”
Standards, indeed.
Consider, finally, the pattern: Wiesel and Gutman supported Goldhagen; Wiesel supported Kosinski;
Gutman and Goldhagen supported Wilkomirski. Connect the players: this is Holocaust literature.
All the hype notwithstanding, there is no evidence that Holocaust deniers exert any more influence in
the United States than the flatearth society does. Given the nonsense churned out daily by the
Holocaust industry, the wonder is that there are so few skeptics. The motive behind the claim of
widespread Holocaust denial is not hard to find. In a society saturated with The Holocaust, how else to
justify yet more museums, books, curricula, films and programs than to conjure up the bogy of
Holocaust denial? Thus Deborah Lipstadt’s acclaimed book, Denying the Holocaust,50 as well as the
results of an ineptly worded American Jewish Committee poll alleging pervasive Holocaust denial,51
were released just as the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum opened.
Denying the Holocaust is an updated version of the “new anti-Semitism” tracts. To document
widespread Holocaust denial, Lipstadt cites a handful of crank publications. Her piece de resistance is
Arthur Butz, a nonentity who teaches electrical engineering at Northwestern University and who
published his book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century with an obscure press. Lipstadt entitles the
chapter on him Entering the Mainstream.” Were it not for the likes of Lipstadt, no one would ever
have heard of Arthur Butz.
In fact, the one truly mainstream holocaust denier is Bernard Lewis. A French court even convicted
Lewis of denying genocide. But Lewis denied the Turkish genocide of Armenians during World War
I, not the Nazi genocide of Jews, and Lewis is pro-lsrael.52 Accordingly, this instance of holocaust
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denial raises no hackles in the United States. Turkey is an Israeli ally, extenuating matters even
further. Mention of an Armenian genocide is therefore taboo. Elie Wiesel and Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg
as well as the AJC and Yad Vashem withdrew from an international conference on genocide in Tel
Aviv because the academic sponsors, against Israeli government urging, included sessions on the
Armenian case. Wiesel also sought, unilaterally, to abort the conference and, according to Yehuda
Bauer, personally lobbied others not to attend.53 Acting at Israel’s behest, the US Holocaust Council
practically eliminated mention of the Armenians in the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum,
and Jewish lobbyists in Congress blocked a day of remembrance for the Armenian genocide.54
To question a survivor’s testimony, to denounce the role of Jewish collaborators, to suggest that
Germans suffered during the bombing of Dresden or that any state except Germany committed crimes
in World War II — this is all evidence, according to Lipstadt, of Holocaust denial.55 And to suggest
that Wiesel has profited from the Holocaust industry, or even to question him, amounts to Holocaust
The most “insidious” forms of Holocaust denial, Lipstadt suggests, are «immoral equivalencies»: that
is, denying the uniqueness of The Holocaust.57 This argument has intriguing implications. Daniel
Goldhagen argues that Serbian actions in Kosovo «are, in their essence, different from those of Nazi
Germany only in scale.”58 That would make Goldhagen “in essence” a Holocaust denier. Indeed,
across the political spectrum, Israeli commentators compared Serbia’s actions in Kosovo with Israeli
actions in 1948 against the Palestinians.59 By Goldhagen’s reckoning, then, Israel committed a
Holocaust. Not even Palestinians claim that anymore.
Not all revisionist literature — however scurrilous the politics or motivations of its practitioners — is
totally useless. Lipstadt brands David Irving “one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust
denial” (he recently lost a libel suit in England against her for these and other assertions). But Irving,
notorious as an admirer of Hitler and sympathizer with German national socialism, has nevertheless,
as Gordon Craig points out, made an “indispensable” contribution to our knowledge of World War II.
Both Arno Mayer, in his important study of the Nazi holocaust, and Raul Hilberg cite Holocaust
denial publications. “If these people want to speak, let them,” Hilberg observes. “It only leads those of
us who do research to re-examine what we might have considered as obvious. And that’s useful for
Annual Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust are a national event. All 50 states sponsor
commemorations, often in state legislative chambers. The Association of Holocaust Organizations
lists over 100 Holocaust institutions in the United States. Seven major Holocaust museums dot the
American landscape. The centerpiece of this memorialization is the United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington.
The first question is why we even have a federally mandated and funded Holocaust museum in the
nation’s capitol. Its presence on the Washington Mall is particularly incongruous in the absence of a
museum commemorating crimes in the course of American history. Imagine the wailing accusations
of hypocrisy here were Germany to build a national museum in Berlin to commemorate not the Nazi
genocide but American slavery or the extermination of the Native Americans .61
It “tries meticulously to refrain from any attempt at indoctrination,” the Holocaust museum’s designer
wrote, “from any manipulation of impressions or emotions.” Yet from conception through completion,
the museum was mired in politics.62 With a reelection campaign looming, Jimmy Carter initiated the
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project to placate Jewish contributors and voters, galled by the President’s recognition of the
“legitimate rights” of Palestinians. The chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, deplored Carter’s recognition of Palestinian
humanity as a “shocking” initiative. Carter announced plans for the museum while Prime Minister
Menachem Begin was visiting Washington and in the midst of a bruising Congressional battle over the
Administration’s proposed sale of weaponry to Saudi Arabia. Other political issues also emerge in the
museum. It mutes the Christian background to European anti-Semitism so as not to offend a powerful
constituency. It downplays the discriminatory US immigration quotas before the war, exaggerates the
US role in liberating the concentration camps, and silently passes over the massive US recruitment of
Nazi war criminals at the war’s end. The Museum’s overarching message is that “we” couldn’t even
conceive, let alone commit, such evil deeds. The Holocaust “cuts against the grain of the American
ethos,” Michael Berenbaum observes in the companion book to the museum. “We see in [its]
perpetration a violation of every essential American value.” The Holocaust museum signals the
Zionist lesson that Israel was the “appropriate answer to Nazism” with the closing scenes of Jewish
survivors struggling to enter Palestine.63
The politicization begins even before one crosses the museum’s threshold. It is situated on Raoul
Wallenberg Place. Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, is honored because he rescued thousands of Jews
and ended up in a Soviet prison. Fellow Swede Count Folke Bernadotte is not honored because,
although he too rescued thousands of Jews, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir ordered his
assassination for being too “pro-Arab.”64
The crux of Holocaust museum politics, however, bears on whom to memorialize. Were Jews the only
victims of The Holocaust, or did others who perished because of Nazi persecution also count as
victims?65 During the museum’s planning stages, Elie Wiesel (along with Yehuda Bauer of Yad
Vashem) led the offensive to commemorate Jews alone. Deferred to as the “undisputed expert on the
Holocaust period,” Wiesel tenaciously argued for the preeminence of Jewish victimhood. “As always,
they began with Jews,» he typically intoned. “As always, they did not stop with Jews alone.”66 Yet
not Jews but Communists were the first political victims, and not Jews but the handicapped were the
first genocidal victims, of Nazism.67
Justifying preemption of the Gypsy genocide posed the main challenge to the Holocaust Museum. The
Nazis systematically murdered as many as a half-million Gypsies, with proportional losses roughly
equal to the Jewish genocide.68 Holocaust writers like Yehuda Bauer maintained that the Gypsies did
not fall victim to the same genocidal onslaught as Jews. Respected holocaust historians like Henry
Friedlander and Raul Hilberg, however, have argued that they did.69
Multiple motives lurked behind the museum’s marginalizing of the Gypsy genocide. First: one simply
couldn’t compare the loss of Gypsy and Jewish life. Ridiculing the call for Gypsy representation on
the US Holocaust Memorial Council as “cockamamie,” executive director Rabbi Seymour Siegel
doubted whether Gypsies even “existed” as a people: “There should be some recognition or
acknowledgment of the gypsy people . . . if there is such a thing.” He did allow, however, that “there
was a suffering element under the Nazis.” Edward Linenthal recalls the Gypsy representatives’ “deep
suspicion” of the council, “fueled by clear evidence that some council members viewed Rom
participation in the museum the way a family deals with unwelcome, embarrassing relatives.”70
Second: acknowledging the Gypsy genocide meant the loss of an exclusive Jewish franchise over The
Holocaust, with a commensurate loss of Jewish “moral capital.” Third: if the Nazis persecuted Gypsies
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and Jews alike, the dogma that The Holocaust marked the climax of a millennial Gentile hatred of
Jews was clearly untenable. Likewise, if Gentile envy spurred the Jewish genocide, did envy also spur
the Gypsy genocides In the museum’s permanent exhibition, non-Jewish victims of Nazism receive
only token recognition.71
Finally, the Holocaust museum’s political agenda has also been shaped by the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Before serving as the museum’s director, Walter Reich wrote a paean to Joan Peters’s fraudulent From
Time Immemorial, which claimed that Palestine was literally empty before Zionist colonization.72
Under State Department pressure, Reich was forced to resign after refusing to invite Yasir Arafat, now
a compliant American ally, to visit the museum. Offered a subdirector’s position, Holocaust theologian
John Roth was then badgered into resigning because of past criticism of Israel. Repudiating a book the
museum originally endorsed because it included a chapter by Benny Morris, a prominent Israeli
historian critical of Israel, Miles Lerman, the museum’s chairman, avowed, “To put this museum on
the opposite side of Israel – it’s inconceivable.”73
In the wake of Israel’s appalling attacks against Lebanon in 1996, climaxing in the massacre of more
than a hundred civilians at Qana, Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit observed that Israel could act with
impunity because “we have the Anti-Defamation League . . . and Yad Vashem and the Holocaust
1 Boas Evron, “Holocaust: The Uses of Disaster,” in Radical America (July – August 1983), 15.
2 For the distinction between Holocaust literature and Nazi holocaust scholarship, see Finkelstein and
Birn, Nation, part one, section 3.
3 Jacob Neusner (ed.), Judaism in Cold War America, 1945 – 1990, v. ii: In the Aftermath of the
Holocaust (New York: 1993), viii.
4 David Stannard, “Uniqueness as Denial,” in Alan Rosenbaum (ed.), Is the Holocaust Unique?
(Boulder: 1996), 193.
5 Jean-Michel Chaumont, La concurrence des victimes (Paris: 1997), 148 – 9. Chaumont’s dissection
of the “Holocaust uniqueness” debate is a tour de force. Yet his central thesis does not persuade, at
least for the American scene. According to Chaumont, the Holocaust phenomenon originated in
Jewish survivors’ belated search for public recognition of past suffering. Yet survivors hardly figured
in the initial push to move The Holocaust center stage.
6 Steven T. Katz, The Holocaust in Historical Context (Oxford: 1994), 28, 58, 60.
7 Chaumont, La concurrence, 137
8 Novick, The Holocaust, 200 – 1, 211 – 12. Wiesel, Against Silence, v. i, 158, 211, 239, 272, v. ii, 62,
81, 111, 278, 293, 347, 371, v. iii, 153, 243. Elie Wiesel, All Rivers Run to the Sea (New York: 1995),
89. Information on Wiesel’s lecture fee provided by Ruth Wheat of the Bnai Brith Lecture
Bureau.”Words,” according to Wiesel, “are a kind of horizontal approach, while silence offers you a
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vertical approach. You plunge into it.” Does Wiesel parachute into his lectures?
9 Wiesel, Against Silence, v. iii, 146.
10 Wiesel, And the Sea, 95. Compare These news items: Ken Livingstone, a former member of the
Labour Party who is runnmg for mayor of London as an independent, has incensed Jews in Britain by
saying global capitalism has claimed as many victims as World War II. “Every year the international
financial system kills more people than World War II, but at least Hitler was mad, you know” . . . “It’s
an insult to all those murdered and persecuted by Adolf Hitler,” said John Butterfill, a Conservative
Member of Parliament. Mr. Butterfill also said Mr. Livingstone’s indictment of die global financial
system had decidedly anti-Semitic overtones. (“Livingstone’s Words Anger Jews,” in International
Herald Tribune, 13 April 2000)
Cuban President Fidel Castro . . . accused the capitalist system of regularly causing deaths on the scale
of World War II by ignoring the needs of the poor. “The images we see of mothers and children in
whole regions of Africa under the lash of drought and other catastrophes remind us of the
concentration camps of Nazi Germany.” Referring to war crimes trials after World War II, the Cuban
leader said: “We lack a Nuremberg to judge the economic order imposed upon us, where every three
years more men, women and children die of hunger and preventable diseases than died in the Second
World War.» . . . In New York City, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation
League, said . . . “Poverty is serious, it’s painful and maybe deadly, but it’s not the Holocaust and it’s
not concentration camps.” (John Rice, “Castro Viciously Attacks Capitalism,” in Associated Press, 13
April 2000)
11 Wiesel, Against Silence, v. iii, 156, 160, 163, 177.
12 Chaumont, La concurrence, 156. Chaumont also makes the telling point that the claim of The
Holocaust’s incomprehensible evil cannot be reconciled with dhe attendant claim chat its perpetrators
were perfectly normal. (310)
13 Katz, The Holocaust, 19, 22. “The claim that the assertion of dhe Holocaust’s uniqueness is not a
form of invidious comparison produces systematic doubletalk,” Novick observes. “Does anyone . . .
believe that the claim of uniqueness is anything other than a claim for preeminence?” (emphasis in
original) Lamentably, Novick himself indulges such invidious comparing. Thus he maintains that
although morally evasive in an American context, “the repeated assertion that whatever The United
States has done to blacks, Native Americans, Vietnamese, or others pales in comparison to the
Holocaust is true.” (The Holocaust, 197, 15)
14 Jacob Neusner, “A ‘Holocaust’ Primer,” 178. Edward Alexander, “Stealing the Holocaust,” 15 – 16,
in Neusner, Aftermath.
15 Peter Baldwin (ed.), Reworking the Past (Boston: 1990), 21.
16 Nathan Glazer, Amencan Judaism, second edition (Chicago: 1972), 171.
17 Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option (New York: 1991), 22. Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb
(New York: 1998), 10, 122, 342.
18 Ismar Schorsch, “The Holocaust and Jewish Survival,” in Midstream (January 1981), 39.
Chaumont convincingly demonstrates that the claim of Holocaust uniqueness originated in, and only
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makes coherent sense in the context of, the religious dogma of Jewish chosenness. La concurrence,
102 – 7, 121.
19 Wiesel, Against Silence, v. i, 153. Wiesel, And the Sea, 133.
20 Novick, The Holocaust, 59, 158 – 9.
21 Wiesel, And the Sea, 68.
22 Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners (New York: 1996). For a critique, see
Finkelstein and Birn, Nation.
23 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: 1951), 7.
24 Cynthia Ozick, “All the World Wants the Jews Dead,” in Esquire (November, 1974).
25 Boas Evron, Jewish State or Israeli Nation (Bloomington: 1995), 226 – 7.
26 Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, 34 – 5, 39, 42. Wiesel, And the Sea, 48.
27 John Murray Cuddihy, “The Elephant and the Angels: The Incivil Irritatingness of Jewish
Theodicy,” in Robert N. Bellah and Frederick E. Greenspahn (eds), Uncivil Religion (New York:
1987), 24. In addition to this article, see his “The Holocaust: The Latent Issue in the Uniqueness
Debate,” in P.F. Gallagher (ed.), Christians, Jews, and Other Worlds (Highland Lakes, NJ: 1987).
28 Schorsch, The Holocaust, 39. Incidentally, the claim that Jews constitute a “gifted” minority is
also, in my view, a “distasteful secular version of chosenness.”
29 Whereas a full exposition of this topic is beyond the scope of the essay, consider just the first
proposition. Hitler’s war against the Jews, even if irrational (and that itself is a complex issue), would
hardly constitute a unique historical occurrence. Recall, for example, the central thesis of Joseph
Schumpeter’s treatise on imperialism that “non-rational and irrational, purely instinctual inclinations
toward war and conquest play a very large role in the history of mankind . . . numberless wars —
perhaps the majority of all wars — have been waged without . .. reasoned and reasonable interest.”
(Joseph Schumpeter, “The Sociology of Imperialism,” in Paul Sweezy (ed.), Imperialism and Social
Classes [New York: 1951], 83)
30 Explicitly eschewing the Holocaust framework, Albert S. Lindemann’s recent study of
anti-Semitism starts from the premise that “whatever the power of myth, not all hostility to Jews,
individually or collectively, has been based on fantastic or chimerical visions of them, or on
projections umrelated to any palpable reality. As human beings, Jews have been as capable as any
other group of provoking hostility in the everyday secular world.” (Esau’s Tears [Cambridge: 1997],
31 Wiesel, Against Silence, v. i, 255, 384.
32 Chaumont makes the telling point that this Holocaust dogma effectively renders other crimes more
acceptable. Insistence on the Jews’ radical innocence – i.e. the absence of any rational motive for
persecuting, let alone killing, them – “presupposes a ‘normal’ status for persecutions and killings in
other circumstances, creating a de facto division between unconditionally intolerable crimes and
crimes which one must and hence can live with.” (La concurrence, 176)
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33 Perlmutters, Anti-Semitism, 36, 40.
34 Novick, The Holocaust, 351nl9.
35 New York: 1965. I rely on James Park Sloan, Jerzy Kosinski (New York 1996), for background.
36 Elie Wiesel, “Everybody’s Victim,” in New York Times Book Renew (31 October 1965). Wiesel,
All Rivers, 335. The Ozick quote is from Sloan, 304-5. Wiesel’s admiration of Kosinski does not
surprise. Kosinski wanted to analyze the “new language,” Wiesel to “forge a new language,” of the
Holocaust. For Kosinski, “what lies between episodes is both a comment on and something
commented upon by the episode.” For Wiesel, “the space between any two words is vaster than the
distance between heaven and earth.” There’s a Polish proverb for such profundity: “From empty to
vacuum.” Both also liberally sprinkled their ruminations with quotes from Albert Camus, the telltale
sign of a charlatan. Recalling that Camus once told him, “1 envy you for Auschwitz,” Wiesel
continues: “Camus could not forgive himself for not knowing that majestic event, that mystery of
mysteries.” (Wiesel, All Rivers, 321; Wiesel, Against Silence, v. ii., 133)
37 Geoffrey Stokes and Eliot Fremont-Smith, “Jerry Kosinski’s Tainted Words,” in Villa,qe Voice (22
Jume 1982). John Corry, “A Case History: 17 Years of Ideological Attack on a Cultural Target,” in
New York Times (7 November 1982). To his credit, Kosinski did umdergo a kind of deathbed
conversion. In the few years between his exposure and his suicide, Kosinski deplored the Holocaust
industry’s exclusion of non-Jevvish victims. “Many North American Jews tend to perceive it as Shoah,
as an exclusively Jewish disaster. . . But at least half of the world’s Romanies (unfairly called
Gypsies), some 2.5 million Polish Catholics, millions of Soviet citizens and various nationalities, were
also victims of this genocide….” He also paid tribute to the “bravery of the Poles” who “sheltered” him
“during the Holocaust” despite his so-called Semitic “looks.” Jerzy Kosinski, Passing By INew York:
1992], 165 – 6, 178 – 9) Angrily asked at a Holocaust conference what the Poles did to save Jews,
Kosinski snapped back: “What did the Jews do to save the Poles?”
38 New York: 1996. For background to the Wilkomirski hoax, see esp. Elena Lappin, “The Man With
Two Heads,” in Granra, no. 66, and Philip Gourevitch, “Stealing the Holocaust,” m New Yorker (14
June 1999).
39 Another important “literary” influence on Wilkomirski is Wiesel. Compare these passages:
Wilkomirski ”I saw her wide-open eyes, and all of a sudden I knew these eyes knew it all, they’d seen
everytlung mine had, they knew infinitely more than anyone else in this country. I knew eyes like this,
I’d seen them a thousand times, in the camp and later on. They were Mila’s eyes. We children used to
tell each other everything with these eyes. She knew it, too; she looked straight through my eyes and
into my heart.
Wiesel: “The eyes — I must tell you about their eyes. I must begin with that, for their eyes precede all
else, and everything is comprehended within them. The rest can wait. It will only confirm what you
already know. But their eyes —their eyes flame with a kind of irreducible truth, which burns and is
not consumed. Shamed into silence before them, you can only bow your head and accept the
judgment. Your only wish now is to see the world as they do. A grown man, a man of wisdom and
experience, you are suddenly impotent and terribly impoverished. Those eyes remind you of your
childhood, your orphan state, cause you to lose all faith in the power of language. Those eyes negate
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the value of words; they dispose of the need for speech.” (The Jews of Silence [New York 1966], 3)
Wiesel rhapsodizes for another page and a half about “the eyes.” His literary prowess is matched by
his mastery of the dialectic. In one place Wiesel avows, “I believe in collective guilt, unlike many
liberals.” In another place he avows, “I emphasize that I do not believe in collective guilt.” (Wiesel,
Against Silence, v. ii, 134; Wiesel, And the Sea, 152, 23s)
40 Bernd Naumann, Auschwitz (New York: 1966), 91. See Finkelstein and Birn, Nation, 67-8, for
extensive documentation.
41 Lappin, 49. Hilberg always asked the right questions. Hence his pariah status in the Holocaust
community; see Hilberg, The Politics of Memory, passim.
42 “Publisher Drops Holocaust Book,” in New York Times (3 November 1999). Allan Hall and Laura
Williams, “Holocaust Hoaxer7” in New York Post (4 November 1999).
43 Novick, The Holocaust, 158. Segev, Seventh Million, 425. Wiesel, And the Sea, 198.
44 Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites (New York: 1986), chap. 6; Bernard Lewis, The Middle
East (New York: 1995), 348 – 50. Berenbaum, After Tragedy,84.
45 New York Times, 27 March, 2 April, 3 April 1996. Time, 23 December 1996.
46 Yehuda Bauer, “Reflections Concerning Holocaust History,” in Louis Greenspan and Graeme
Nicholson (ads), Fackenheim (Toronto: 1993), 164, 169. Yehuda Bauer, «On Perpetrators of the
Holocaust and the Public Discourse,” in Jewish Quarterly Review, no. 87 (1997), 348-50. Norman G.
Finkelstein and Yehuda Bauer, “Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners: An Exchange of Views,”
in Jewish Quarterly Review, nos 1-2 (1998), 126.
47 For background and the next paragraphs, see Charles Glass, “Hitler’s (un)willing executioners,” in
New Statesman (23 January 1998), Laura Shapiro, “A Battle Over the Holocaust,” in Newsweek (23
March 1998), and Tibor Krause, “The Goldhagen Wars,” in Jerusalem Report (3 August 1998). For
these and related items, cf. http://www.NormanFinkelstein.com (with a link to Goldhagen’s web site).
48 Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, “Daniel Jonah Goldhagen comments on Birn,” in German Politics and
Society (Summer 3998), 88, 91n2. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, “The New Discourse of Avoidance,” n25
49 Hoffmann was Goldhagen’s advisor for the dissertation that became Hitler’s Willing Executioners.
Yet, in an egregious breach of academic protocol, he not only wrote a glowing review of Goldhagen’s
book for Foreign Affairs but also denounced A Nation on Trial as “shocking” in a second review for
the same journal. (Foreign Affairs, May/June 1996 and July/August 1998) Maier posted a lengthy
intervention on the H-German web site (www2.h-net.msu.edu). Ultimately, the only “aspects of this
unfolding situation” that Maier found “really distasteful and reprehensible” were the criticisms of
Goldhagen. Thus he lent “support to a subsequent finding of malice” in Goldhagen’s lawsuit against
Birn and deplored my argumentation as “fanciful and inflammatory speculation.” (23 November 1997)
50 New York: 1994. Lipstadt occupies the Holocaust chair at Emory University and was recently
appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
51 Employing a double negative, the AJC poll practically invited confusion “does it seem possible or
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does it seem impossible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened?” Twenty-two
percent of respondents answered “it seems possible.” In subsequent polls, which rephrased the
question straightforwardly, Holocaust denial approached zero. A recent AJC survey of 11 countries
found that, notwithstanding pervasive right-wing extremists’ claims to the contrary, “few people
denied the Holocaust.” Jennifer Golub and Renae Cohen, What Do Americans Know About the
Holocaust? [The American Jewish Committee: 1993]; “Holocaust Deniers unconvincing — Surveys,”
in Jerusalem Post [4 February 2000]) Yet in Congressional testimony regarding “anti-Semitism in
Europe,” David Harris of the AJC highlighted the salience of Holocaust denial in the European Right
without once mentioning the AJC’s own findings that this denial finds virtually no resonance among
the general public. (Hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee, United States Senate, 5 April
52 see “France Fines Historian Over Armenian Denial,” in Boston Globe (22 June 1995), and
“Bernard Lewis and the Armenians,” in Counterpunch (16-31 December 1997).
53 Israel Charny, “The Conference Crisis. The Turks, Armenians and the Jews,” in The Book of the
International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide. Book One: The Conference Program and
Crisis (Tel Aviv: 1982). Israel Amrani, “A Little Help for Friends,” in Haaretz (20 April 1990)
(Bauer). In Wiesel’s bizarre account, he resigned as conference chair in order “not to offend our
Armenian guests.” Presumably he also attempted to abort the conference and urged others against
attending out of courtesy to the Armenians. (Wiesel, And the Sea, 92)
54 Edward T. Lirlenthal, Presernng Memory (New York: 1995), 228ff., 263, 312 13.
55 Lipstadt, Denying, 6, 12, 22, 89 – 90.
56 Wiesel All Rivers, 333, 336
57 Lipstadt, Denying, chapter 11.
58 “A New Serbia,” in New Republic (17 May 1999).
59 See, for example, Meron Benvenisti, “Seeking Tragedy,” m Haaretz (16 April 1999), Zeev
Chafets, “What Undergraduate Clinton Has Forgotten,” in Jerusalem Report (10 May 1999), and
Gideon Levi, “Kosovo: It is Here,” in Haaretz (4 April 1999). (Benvenisti limits the Serbian
comparison to Israeli actions after May 1948.)
60 Arno Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? (New York: 1988). Christopher Hitchens,
“Hitler’s Ghost,” in Vanity Fair Jume 1996) (Hilberg). For a balanced assessment of Irving, see
Gordon A. Craig, “The Devil in the Details,” in New York Review of Books (19 September 1996).
Rightly dismissing Irving’s claims on the Nazi holocaust as “obtuse and quickly discredited,” Craig
nonetheless continues: “He knows more about National Socialism than most professional scholars in
his field, and students of the years 1933-1945 owe more than they are always willing to admit to his
energy as a researcher and to the scope and vigor of his publications…. His book Hitler’s War …
remains the best study we have of the German side of the Second War and, as such, indispensable for
all students of that conflict…. Such people as David Irving, then, have an indispensable part in the
historical enterprise, and we dare not disregard their views.”
61 For the abortive attempts between 1984 and 1994 to build a national AfricanAmerican museum on
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the Washington Mall, see Fath Davis Ruffins, “Culture Wars Won and Lost, Part II The National
African-American Museum Project,” in Radical History Review (winter 1998). The Congressional
initiative was finally killed by Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. The Washington Holocaust
museum’s annual budget is $50 million, of which $30 million is federally subsidized.
62 For background, see Linenthal, Preserving Memory, Saidel, Never Too Late, asp. chaps 7, 15, and
Tim Cole, Selling the Holocaust (New York: 1999), chap. 6.
63 Michael Berenbaum, The World Must Know (New York: 1993), 2, 214. Omer Bartov, Murder In
Our Midst (Oxford: 1996), 180.
64 For details, see Kati Marton, A Death in Jerusalem (New York: 1994), chap. 9. In his memoir
Wiesel recalls the “legendary ‘terrorist’ past” of Bernadotte’s actual assassin, Yehoshua Cohen. Note
the inverted commas around terrorist. (Wiesel, And the Sea, 58) The New York City Holocaust
Museum, although no less mired in politics (both Mayor Ed Koch and Governor Mario Cuomo were
courting Jewish votes and money), was also from early on a plaything of local Jewish developers and
financiers. At one point, developers sought to downplay “Holocaust” in the museum’s name for fear
that it would depress property values in the adjacent luxury housing complex. Wags quipped that the
complex should be named “Treblinka Towers,” and the surrounding streets “Auschwitz Avenue” and
“Birkenau Boulevard.” The museum solicited funds from J. Peter Grace despite revelations of his
association with a convicted Nazi war criminal, and it organized a gala at The Hot Rod — “The New
York Holocaust Memorial Commission invites you to Rock and Roll the Night Away.” (Saidel, Never
Too Late, 8, 121, 132, 145, 158, 161, 191, 240)
65 Novick dubs this the “6 million” versus “11 million” controversy. The 5 million figure for
non-Jewish civilian deaths apparently originated with famed “Nazi-hunter” Simon Wiesenthal. Noting
that it “makes no historical sense,” Novick writes, “Five million is either much too low (for all
non-Jewish civilians killed by the Third Reich) or much too high (for non-Jewish groups targeted, like
Jews, for murder).” He hastens to add, however, that “what’s at stake, of course, is not numbers as
such, but what we mean, what we’re referring to, when we talk of ‘the Holocaust.”‘ Strangely, after
entering this caveat, Novick supports commemorating only Jews because the 6 million figure
“describes something specific and determinate,” while the 11 million figure “is unacceptably mushy.”
(Novick, The Holocaust, 214 – 26)
66 Wiesel, Against Silence, v. hi. 162, 166.
67 For the handicapped as Nazism’s first genocidal victims, see esp. Henry Friedlander, The Origins
of Nazi Genocide (Chapel Hill: 1995). According to Leon Wieseltier, the non-Jews who perished at
Auschwitz “died a death invented for the Jews . . . victims of a ‘solution’ designed for others” (Leon
Wieseltier, “At Auschwitz Decency Dies Again,” in New York Times [3 September 1989]). Yet, as
numerous scholarly studies show, it was the death invented for handicapped Germans that was then
inflicted on Jews; in addition to Friedlander’s study, see, for example, Michael Burleigh, Death and
Deliverance (Cambridge: 1994).
68 See Guenter Lewy, The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies (Oxford 2000), 221 – 2, for various
estimates of Gypsies killed.
69 Friedlander, Origins: “AIongside Jews, the Nazis murdered the European Gypsies. Defined as a
‘dark-skinned’ racial group, Gypsy men, women and children could not escape their fate as victims of
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Nazi genocide…. [T]he Nazi regime systematically murdered only three groups of human beings: the
handicapped, Jews, and Gypsies” (xii—xiii). (Apart from being a first-rate historian, Friedlander is
also a former Auschwitz inmate.) Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York:
1985) (in three volumes), v. iii, 999-1000. With his usual veracity, Wiesel claims disappointment m
his memoir that the Holocaust Memorial Coumcil, which he chaired, didn’t include a Gypsy
representative — as if he had been powerless to nominate one. (Wiesel, And the Sea, 211)
70 Linenthal, Preserving Memory, 241 – 6, 315.
71 Although the New York City Holocaust Museum’s “particularistic Jewish bent” (Saidel) was even
more pronounced — non-Jewish victims of Nazism early on received notice that it was “for Jews
only” — Yehuda Bauer flew into a rage at the Commission’s mere hint that the Holocaust
encompassed more than Jewish losses. “Unless this is immediately and radically changed,” Bauer
threatened in a letter to Commission members, “I shall take every opportunity to . . . attack this
outrageous design from every public platform I have.” (Saidel, Never Too Late, 125 – 6, 129, 212, 221,
224 – 5)
72 For background, see Finkelstem, Image and Reality, chap. 2.
73 “ZOA Criticizes Holocaust Museum’s Hiring of Professor Who Compared Israel to Nazis,” in
Israel Wire (5 Jume 1998). Neal M. Sher, “Sweep the Holocaust Museum Clean,” in Jewish World
Review (22 June 1998). “Scoundrel Time,” in PS—The Intellectual Guide to Jewish Affairs (21 August
1998). Daniel Kurtzman, “Holocaust Museum Taps One of Its Own for Top Spot,” in Jewish
Telegraphic Agency (5 March 1999). Ira Stoll, “Holocaust Museum Acknowledges a Mistake,” in
Forward (13 August 1999).
74 Noam Chomsky, World Orders Old and New (New York: 1996), 293 – 4 (Shavit).
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Chapter 3
The term “Holocaust survivor” originally designated those who suffered the unique trauma of the
Jewish ghettos, concentration camps and slave labor camps, often in sequence. The figure for these
Holocaust survivors at war’s end is generally put at some 100,000.1 The number of living survivors
cannot be more than a quarter of this figure now. Because enduring the camps became a crown of
martyrdom, many Jews who spent the war elsewhere represented themselves as camp survivors.
Another strong motive behind this misrepresentation, however, was material. The postwar German
government provided compensation to Jews who had been in ghettos or camps. Many Jews fabricated
their pasts to meet this eligibility requirement.2 “If everyone who claims to be a survivor actually is
one,” my mother used to exclaim, “who did Hitler kill?”
Indeed, many scholars have cast doubt on the reliability of survivor testimony. “A great percentage of
the mistakes I discovered in my own work,” Hilberg recalls, “could be attributed to testimonies.” Even
within the Holocaust industry, Deborah Lipstadt, for example, wryly observes that Holocaust
survivors frequently maintain they were personally examined by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz.3
Apart from the frailties of memory, some Holocaust survivor testimony may be suspect for additional
reasons. Because survivors are now revered as secular saints, one doesn’t dare question them.
Preposterous statements pass without comment. Elie Wiesel reminisces in his acclaimed memoir that,
recently liberated from Buchenwald and only eighteen years old, “I read The Critique of Pure Reason
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— don’t laugh! — in Yiddish.” Leaving aside Wiesel’s acknowledgment that at the time “I was wholly
ignorant of Yiddish grammar,” The Critique of Pure Reason was never translated into Yiddish. Wiesel
also remembers in intricate detail a “mysterious Talmudic scholar” who “mastered Hungarian in two
weeks, just to surprise me.” Wiesel tells a Jewish weekly that he “often gets hoarse or loses his voice”
as he silently reads his books to himself “aloud, inwardly.” And to a New York Times reporter, he
recalls that he was once hit by a taxi in Times Square. “I flew an entire block. I was hit at 45th Street
and Broadway, and the ambulance picked me up at 44th” “The truth I present is unvarnished,” “Wiesel
sighs, “I cannot do otherwise.”4
In recent years, “Holocaust survivor” has been redefined to designate not only those who endured but
also those who managed to evade the Nazis. It includes, for example, more than 100,000 Polish Jews
who found refuge in the Soviet Union after the Nazi invasion of Poland. However, “those who had
lived in Russia had not been treated differently than citizens of the country,” historian Leonard
Dinnerstein observes, while “the survivors of the concentration camps looked like the living dead.”5
One contributor to a Holocaust web site maintained that, although he spent the war in Tel Aviv, he
was a Holocaust survivor because his grandmother died in Auschwitz. To judge by Israel Gutman,
Wilkomirski is a Holocaust survivor because his “pain is authentic.” The Israeli Prime Minister’s
office recently put the number of “living Holocaust survivors” at nearly a million. The main motive
behind this inflationary revision is again not hard to find. It is difficult to press massive new claims for
reparations if only a handful of Holocaust survivors are still alive. In fact, Wilkomirski’s main
accomplices were, in one way or another, tapped into the Holocaust reparations network. His
childhood friend from Auschwitz, “little Laura,” collected money from a Swiss Holocaust fund
although in reality she was an American-born frequenter of satanic cults. His chief Israeli sponsors
were active in or subsidized by organizations involved in Holocaust compensation.6
The reparations issue provides unique insight into the Holocaust industry. As we have seen, aligning
with the United States in the Cold War, Germany was quickly rehabilitated and the Nazi holocaust
forgotten. Nonetheless, in the early 1950s Germany entered into negotiations with Jewish institutions
and signed indemnification agreements. With little if any external pressure, it has paid out to date
some $60 billion.
Compare first the American record. Some 4 – 5 million men, women and children died as a result of
the US wars in Indochina. After the American withdrawal, a historian recalls, Vietnam desperately
needed aid. “In the South, 9,000 out of 15,000 hamlets, 25 million acres of farmland, 12 million acres
of forest were destroyed, and 1.5 million farm animals had been killed; there were an estimated
200,000 prostitutes, 879,000 orphans, 181,000 disabled people, and one million widows; all six of the
industrial cities in the North had been badly damaged, as were provincial and district towns, and 4,000
out of 5,800 agricultural communes.” Refusing, however, to pay any reparations, President Carter
explained that “the destruction was mutual.» Declaring that he saw no need for “any apologies,
certainly, for the war itself,” President Clinton’s Defense Secretary, William Cohen, similarly opined:
“Both nations were scarred by this. They have their scars from the war. We certainly have ours.”7
The German government sought to compensate Jewish victims with three different agreements signed
in 1952. Individual claimants received payments according to the terms of the Law on Indemnification
(Bundesentschädigungsgesetz). A separate agreement with Israel subsidized the absorption and
rehabilitation of several hundred thousand Jewish refugees. The German government also negotiated
at the same time a financial settlement with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against
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Germany, an umbrella of all major Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Committee,
American Jewish Congress, B’nai Brith, the Joint Distribution Committee, and so forth. The Claims
Conference was supposed to use the monies, $10 million annually for twelve years, or about a billion
dollars in current values, for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution who had fallen through the cracks in
the compensation process.8 My mother was a case in point. A survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto,
Majdanek concentration camp and slave labor camps at Czestochowa and Skarszysko Kamiena, she
received only $3,500 in compensation from the German government. Other Jewish victims (and many
who in fact were not victims), however, received lifetime pensions from Germany eventually totaling
hundreds of thousands of dollars. The monies given to the Claims Conference were earmarked for
those Jewish victims who had received only minimal compensation.
Indeed, the German government sought to make explicit in the agreement with the Claims Conference
that the monies would go solely to Jewish survivors, strictly defined, who had been unfairly or
inadequately compensated by German courts. The Conference expressed outrage that its good faith
was doubted. After reaching agreement, the Conference issued a press release underlining that the
monies would be used for “Jewish persecutees of the Nazi regime for whom the existing and proposed
legislation cannot provide a remedy.” The final accord called on the Conference to use the monies “for
the relief, rehabilitation and resettlement of Jewish victims.”
The Claims Conference promptly annulled the agreement. In a flagrant breach of its letter and spirit,
the Conference earmarked the monies not for the rehabilitation of Jewish victims but rather for the
rehabilitation of Jewish communities. Indeed, a guiding principle of the Claims Conference prohibited
use of monies for «direct allocations to individuals.” In a classic instance of looking after one’s own,
however, the Conference provided exemptions for two categories of victims: rabbis and “outstanding
Jewish leaders” received individual payments. The constituent organizations of the Claims Conference
used the bulk of the monies to finance various pet projects. Whatever benefits (if any) the actual
Jewish victims received were indirect or incidental.9 Large sums were circuitously channeled to
Jewish communities in the Arab world and facilitated Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe.10
They also subsidized cultural undertakings such as Holocaust museums and university chairs in
Holocaust studies, as well as a Yad Vashem showboat pensioning “righteous Gentiles.”
More recently, the Claims Conference sought to appropriate for itself denationalized Jewish properties
in the former East Germany worth hundreds of millions of dollars that rightfully belonged to living
Jewish heirs. As the Conference came under attack by defrauded Jews for this and other abuses, Rabbi
Arthur Hertzberg cast a plague on both sides, sneering that “it’s not about justice, it’s a fight for
money.”11 When Germans or Swiss refuse to pay compensation, the heavens cannot contain the
righteous indignation of organized American Jewry. But when Jewish elites rob Jewish survivors, no
ethical issues arise: it’s just about money.
Although my late mother received only $3,500 in compensation, others involved in the reparations
process have made out quite well.
The reported annual salary of Saul Kagan, long-time Executive Secretary of the Claims Conference, is
$105,000. Between stints at the Conference, Kagan was convicted of 33 counts of willfully
misapplying funds and credit while heading a New York bank. (The conviction was overturned only
after multiple appeals.) Alfonse D’Amato, the ex-Senator from New York, mediates Holocaust
lawsuits against German and Austrian banks for $350 per hour plus expenses. For the first 6 months of
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his labors, he took in $103,000. Earlier Wiesel publicly praised D’Amato for his “sensitivity to Jewish
suffering.” Lawrence Eagleburger, Secretary of State under President Bush, earns an annual salary of
$300,000 as chair of the International Commission On Holocaust-Era Insurance Claims. “Whatever
he’s being paid,” Elan Steinberg of the World Jewish Congress opined, “it is an absolute bargain.”
Kagan rings up in 12 days, Eagleburger in 4 days, and D’Amato in 10 hours what my mother received
for suffering six years of Nazi persecution.12
The award for most enterprising Holocaust huckster, however, must surely go to Kenneth Bialkin. For
decades a prominent US Jewish leader, he headed the ADL and chaired the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations. Currently, Bialkin represents the Generali insurance
company against the Eagleburger Commission for a reported “high sum of money.”13
In recent years, the Holocaust industry has become an outright extortion racket. Purporting to
represent all of world Jewry, living and dead, it is laying claim to Holocaust-era Jewish assets
throughout Europe. Fittingly dubbed the “last chapter of The Holocaust,” this double shakedown of
European countries as well as legitimate Jewish claimants first targeted Switzerland. I will first review
the allegations against the Swiss. I will then turn to the evidence, demonstrating that many of the
charges were not only based on deceit but apply even more accurately to those issuing them than to
their targets.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, Switzerland’s president formally
apologized in May 1995 for denying Jews refuge during the Nazi holocaust.14 About the same time,
discussion reopened on the long-simmering question of Jewish assets deposited in Swiss accounts
before and during the war. In a widely reported story, an Israeli journalist cited a document —
misread, as it turned out — proving that Swiss banks still held Holocaust-era Jewish accounts worth
billions of dollars.15
The World Jewish Congress, a moribund organization until its campaign denouncing Kurt Waldheim
as a war criminal, leapt at this new opportunity to flex its muscle. Early on it was understood that
Switzerland was easy prey. Few would sympathize with rich Swiss bankers as against “needy
Holocaust survivors.” But more importantly, Swiss banks were highly vulnerable to economic
pressures from the United States.16
In late 1995, Edgar Bronfman, president of the WJC and the son of a Jewish Claims Conference
official, and Rabbi Israel Singer, the secretary-general of the WJC and a real estate tycoon, met with
the Swiss bankers.17 Bronfman, heir to the Seagram liquor fortune (his personal wealth is estimated
at $3 billion), would later modestly inform the Senate Banking Committee that he spoke “on behalf of
the Jewish people» as well as “the 6 million, those who cannot speak for themselves.”18 The Swiss
bankers declared that they could locate only 775 unclaimed dormant accounts, worth a total of $32
million. They offered this sum as a basis for negotiations with the WJC, which refused it as
inadequate. In December 1995, Bronfman teamed up with Senator D’Amato. His poll ratings at a nadir
and a Senate race not far off, D’Amato savored this occasion to boost his standing in the Jewish
community, with its crucial votes and wealthy political donors. Before the Swiss were finally brought
to their knees, the WJC, working with the gamut of Holocaust institutions (including the US
Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Simon Wiesenthal Center), had mobilized the entire US
political establishment. From President Clinton, who buried the hatchet with D’Amato (the
Whitewater hearings were still going on) to lend support, through eleven agencies of the federal
government as well as the House and Senate, down to state and local governments across the country,
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bipartisan pressures were brought to bear as one public official after another lined up to denounce the
perfidious Swiss.
Using the House and Senate banking committees as a springboard, the Holocaust industry orchestrated
a shameless campaign of vilification. With an infinitely compliant and credulous press ready to give
banner headlines to any Holocaust-related story, however preposterous, the smear campaign proved
unstoppable. Gregg Rickman, D’Amato’s chief legislative aide, boasts in his account that the Swiss
bankers were forced “into the court of public opinion where we controlled the agenda. The bankers
were on our turf and conveniently, we were judge, jury, and executioner.” Tom Bower, a main
researcher in the anti-Swiss campaign, dubs the D’Amato call for hearings a “euphemism for a public
trial or a kangaroo court.”19
The “mouthpiece” of the anti-Swiss juggernaut was WJC executive director Elan Steinberg. His main
function was dispensing disinformation. “Terror by embarrassment,” according to Bower, “was
Steinberg’s weapon, as he uttered a string of accusations to cause discomfort and shock. OSS reports,
often based on rumor and uncorroborated sources and disregarded for years by historians as hearsay,
suddenly assumed uncritical credibility and widespread publicity.” “The last thing the banks need is
negative publicity,” Rabbi Singer explained. “We will do it until the banks say, ‘Enough. We want a
compromise.'” Anxious to share the limelight, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal
Center, spectacularly alleged that the Swiss incarcerated refugee Jews in “slave-labor camps.” (With
wife and son on the payroll, Hier runs the Simon Wiesenthal Center as a family business; together the
Hiers drew a salary of $520,000 in 1995. The Center is renowned for its “Dachau-meets-Disneyland”
museum exhibits and “the successful use of sensationalistic scare tactics for fund-raising.”) “in light of
the media barrage of mixing truth and assumption, fact and fiction.” Itamar Levin concludes, “it is
easy to understand why many Swiss believe their country was the victim of an international
conspiracy of some kind.”20
The campaign rapidly degenerated into a libel of the Swiss people. Bower, in a study supported by
D’Amato’s office and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, typically reports that “a country whose citizens . .
. boasted to their neighbors about their enviable wealth, was quite knowingly profiting from blood
money”; that “the apparently respectable citizens of the world’s most peaceful nation . . . committed an
unprecedented theft”; that “dishonesty was a cultural code that individual Swiss had mastered to
protect the nation’s image and prosperity”; that the Swiss were “instinctively attracted to healthy
profits” (only the Swiss?); that “self-interest was the supreme guide for all of Switzerland’s banks”
(only Switzerland’s banks?); that “Switzerland’s small breed of bankers had become greedier and more
immoral than most”; that “concealment and deception were practiced arts among Swiss diplomats”
(only Swiss diplomats?); that “apologies and resignations were not common in Switzerland’s political
tradition” (unlike our own?); that “Swiss greed was unique”; that the “Swiss character” combined
“simplicity and duplicity,” and “behind the appearance of civility was a layer of obstinacy, and beyond
that was solid egotistical incomprehension of anyone else’s opinion”; that the Swiss were “not just a
peculiarly charmless people who had produced no artists, no heroes since William Tell and no
statesmen, but were dishonest Nazi collaborators who had profited from genocide,” and on and on.
Rickman points to this “deeper truth” about the Swiss: “Down deep, perhaps deeper than they thought,
a latent arrogance about themselves and against others existed in their very makeup. Try as they did,
they could not hide their upbringing.”21 Many of these slurs are remarkably like the slurs cast against
Jews by anti-Semites.
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The main charge was that there had been, in the words of Bower’s subtitle, “a fifty-year Swiss-Nazi
conspiracy to steal billions from Europe’s Jews and Holocaust survivors.” In what has become a
mantra of the Holocaust restitution racket, this constituted “the greatest robbery in the history of
mankind.” For the Holocaust industry, all matters Jewish belong in a separate, superlative category –
the worst, the greatest….
The Holocaust industry first alleged that Swiss banks had systematically denied legitimate heirs of
Holocaust victims access to dormant accounts worth between $7 billion and $20 billion. “For the past
50 years,” Time reported in a cover story, a “standing order” of the Swiss banks “has been to stall and
stonewall when Holocaust survivors ask about their dead relatives’ accounts.” Recalling the secrecy
legislation enacted by Swiss banks in 1934 partly to prevent a Nazi shakedown of Jewish depositors,
D’Amato lectured the House Banking Committee: “Isn’t it ironic that the very system that encouraged
people to come and open accounts, the secrecy was then used to deny the people themselves, and their
heirs, their legacy, their right? It was perverted, distorted, twisted.”
Bower breathlessly recounts the discovery of one key piece of evidence of Swiss perfidy against
Holocaust victims: “Luck and diligence provided a nugget that confirmed the validity of Bronfman’s
complaint. An intelligence report from Switzerland in July 1945 stated that Jacques Salmanovitz, the
owner of the Societe Generale de Surveillance, a notary and trust company in Geneva with links to the
Balkan countries, possessed a list of 182 Jewish clients who had entrusted 8.4 million Swiss francs
and about $90,000 to the notary pending their arrival from the Balkans. The report added that Jews
had still not claimed their possessions. Rickman and D’Amato were ecstatic.” In his own account,
Rickman likewise brandishes this “proof of Swiss criminality.” Neither, however, mentions in this
specific context that Salmanovitz was Jewish. (The actual validity of these claims will be discussed
In late 1996 a parade of elderly Jewish women and one man delivered moving testimony before the
Congressional banking committees on the malfeasance of the Swiss bankers. Yet almost none of these
witnesses, according to Itamar Levin, an editor of Israel’s main business newspaper, «had real proof of
the existence of assets in Swiss banks.» To enhance the theatrical effect of this testimony, D’Amato
called Elie Wiesel to bear witness. In testimony later widely quoted, Wiesel expressed shock —
shock! — at the revelation that the perpetrators of the Holocaust sought to plunder Jews before killing
them: “In the beginning we thought the final solution was motivated by poisoned ideology alone. Now
we know that they didn’t simply want to kill Jews, as horrible as this may sound, they wanted Jewish
money. Each day we learn more about that tragedy. Is there no limit to pain? No limit to the outrage?”
Of course, Nazi plunder of the Jews is hardly news; a large part of Raul Hilberg’s seminal study, The
Destruction of the European Jews, published in 1961, is devoted to the Nazi expropriation of the
It was also claimed that the Swiss bankers filched the deposits of Holocaust victims and methodically
destroyed vital records to cover their tracks, and that only Jews suffered all these abominations.
Assailing the Swiss at one hearing, Senator Barbara Boxer declared: “This Committee will not stand
for two-faced behavior on the part of the Swiss banks. Don’t tell the world that you are searching
when you are shredding.”24
Alas, the “propaganda value” (Bower) of elderly Jewish claimants testifying to Swiss perfidy quickly
exhausted itself. The Holocaust industry accordingly sought out a new expose. The media frenzy fixed
on the Swiss purchase of gold that the Nazis looted from the central treasuries of Europe during the
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war. Although billed as a startling revelation, it was in fact old news. The author of a standard study
on the subject, Arthur Smith, told the House hearing: “I have listened all morning and this afternoon to
things that, to a large extent, in outline, were known for a number of years; and I am surprised about
the fact that much of it is presented as new and sensational.” The point of the hearings, however, was
not to inform but, in journalist Isabel Vincent’s words, «to create sensational stories.” If enough mud
was flung, it was reasonably assumed, Switzerland would give in.25
The one truly novel allegation was that the Swiss knowingly trafficked in “victim gold.” That is, they
purchased vast quantities of gold which the Nazis had resmelted into bars after stripping down
concentration and death-camp victims. The WJC, Bower reports, “needed an emotive issue to link the
Holocaust and Switzerland.” This new revelation of Swiss treachery was accordingly treated as a
godsend. “Few images,” Bower continues, “were more searing than the methodical extraction in the
extermination camps of gold dental fillings from the mouths of Jewish corpses dragged from the gas
chambers.” “The facts are very, very distressing,” D’Amato mournfully intoned at a House hearing,
“because they talk about taking and the plundering of assets from homes, from national banks, from
the death camps, gold watches and bracelets and eyeglasses frames and the fillings from people’s
Apart from blocking access to Holocaust accounts and purchasing looted gold, the Swiss also stood
accused of conspiring with Poland and Hungary to defraud Jews. The charge was that monies in
unclaimed Swiss accounts belonging to Polish and Hungarian nationals (many but not all Jewish)
were used by Switzerland as compensation for Swiss properties nationalized by these governments.
Rickman refers to this as a “startling revelation, one that would knock the socks off the Swiss and
create a firestorm.” But the facts were already widely known and reported in American law journals in
the early 1950s. And, for all the media ballyhoo, the total sums involved ultimately came to less than a
million dollars in current values 27
Already prior to the first Senate hearing on the dormant accounts in April 1996, the Swiss banks had
agreed to establish an investigative committee and abide by its findings. Composed of six members,
three each from the World Jewish Restitution Organization and the Swiss Bankers Association, and
headed by Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank, the “independent
committee of eminent persons” was formally charged in a May 1996 “Memorandum of
Understanding.” In addition, the Swiss government appointed in December 1996 an “independent
commission of experts,” chaired by Professor Jean-Francois Bergier and including prominent Israeli
holocaust scholar Saul Friedländer, to investigate Switzerland’s gold trade with Germany during
World War II.
Before these bodies could even commence work, however, the Holocaust industry pressed for a
financial settlement with Switzerland. The Swiss protested that any settlement should naturally await
the commissions’ findings; otherwise, it constituted «extortion and blackmail.” Playing its
ever-winning card, the WJC anguished over the plight of “needy Holocaust survivors.” “My problem
is the timing,” Bronfman told the House Banking Committee in December 1996, “and I have all of
these Holocaust survivors that I am worried about.” One wonders why the anguished billionaire
couldn’t himself temporarily relieve their plight. Dismissing one Swiss settlement offer of $250
million, Bronfman sniffed: “Don’t do any favors. I’ll give the money myself.» He didn’t. Switzerland,
however, agreed in February 1997 to establish a $200 million «Special Fund for Needy Victims of the
Holocaust» to tide over «persons who need help or support in special ways” until the commissions
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completed their work. (The fund was still solvent when the Bergier and Volcker commissions issued
their reports.) The pressures from the Holocaust industry for a final settlement, however, did not
relent; rather, they continued to mount. Renewed Swiss pleas that a settlement should await the
commissions’ findings — it was the WJC, after all, that originally called for this moral reckoning —
still fell on deaf ears. In fact, the Holocaust industry stood only to lose from these findings: should just
a few claims ultimately prove legitimate, the case against the Swiss banks would lose credibility; and
should the legitimate claimants be identified, even if a large number, the Swiss would be obliged to
compensate only them, but not the Jewish organizations. Another mantra of the Holocaust industry is
that compensation «is about truth and justice, not about money.» “It’s not about money,” the Swiss
now quipped. “It’s about more money.”28
Beyond whipping up public hysteria, the Holocaust industry coordinated a two-pronged strategy to
“terrorize” (Bower) the Swiss into submission: class-action lawsuits and an economic boycott. The
first class-action lawsuit was filed in early October 1996 by Edward Pagan and Robert Swift on behalf
of Gizella Weisshaus (her father spoke about monies deposited in Switzerland before his death in
Auschwitz, but the banks rebuffed her postwar inquiries) and «others similarly situated” for $20
billion. A few weeks later the Simon Wiesenthal Center, enlisting attorneys Michael Hausfeld and
Melvyn Weiss, filed a second class-action lawsuit, and in January 1997 the World Council of
Orthodox Jewish Communities initiated yet a third one. All three suits were filed before Judge Edward
Korman, a US District Court judge in Brooklyn, who consolidated them. At least one party to the case,
Toronto-based attorney Sergio Karas, deplored this tactic: “The class-action suits have done nothing
but provoke mass hysteria and Swiss-bashing. They’re just perpetuating the myth about Jewish
lawyers who just want money.” Paul Volcker opposed the class-action suits on the grounds that they
“will impair our work, potentially to the point of ineffectiveness»—for the Holocaust industry an
irrelevant concern, if not an added incentive.29
The main weapon used to break Swiss resistance, however, was the economic boycott. “Now the
battle will be much dirtier,” Avraham Burg, chair of the Jewish Agency and Israel’s point man in the
Swiss banking case, warned in January 1997. “Until now we have held back international Jewish
pressure.” Already in January 1996 the WJC had begun plotting the boycott. Bronfman and Singer
contacted New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi (whose father had been a prominent AJC official)
and New York State Comptroller Carl McCall. Between them, the two comptrollers invest billions of
dollars in pension funds. Hevesi also presided over the US Comptrollers Association, which invested
$30 trillion in pension funds. In late January Singer strategized with Governor George Pataki of New
York as well as with D’Amato and Bronfman at his daughter’s wedding. “Look what kind of man I
am,” the Rabbi mused, “doing business at my daughter’s wedding.”30
In February 1996 Hevesi and McCall wrote the Swiss banks threatening sanctions. In October
Governor Pataki publicly lent his support. During the next several months local and state governments
in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Illinois all tabled resolutions threatening an economic
boycott unless the Swiss banks came clean. In May 1997 the city of Los Angeles, withdrawing
hundreds of millions of dollars in pension funds from a Swiss bank, imposed the first sanctions.
Hevesi quickly followed suit with sanctions in New York. California, Massachusetts, and Illinois
joined in within days.
“I want $3 billion or northward,” Bronfman proclaimed in December 1997, «in order to end it all, the
class-action suits, the Volcker process and the rest.” Meanwhile, D’Amato and New York State
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banking officials sought to block the newly formed United Bank of Switzerland (a merger of major
Swiss banks) from operating in the United States. «If the Swiss are going to keep digging their heels
in, then I’ll have to ask all US shareholders to suspend their dealings with the Swiss,» Bronfman
warned in March 1998. “It’s coming to a point where it has to resolve itself or it has to be total war.”
In April the Swiss started buckling under the pressure, but still resisted abject surrender. (Through
1997 the Swiss reportedly spent $500 million to fend off the Holocaust industry attacks.) “There’s a
virulent cancer throughout the Swiss society,” Melvyn Weiss, one of the class-action lawyers,
lamented. “We gave them an opportunity to get rid of it with a massive dose of radiation at a cost that
is very small and they’ve turned it down.” In June the Swiss banks put forth a “final offer» of $600
million. ADL head Abraham Foxman, shocked by Swiss arrogance, could barely contain his rage:
“This ultimatum is an insult to the memory of the victims, their survivors and to those in the Jewish
community who in good faith reached to the Swiss to work together to resolve this most difficult
In July 1998, Hevesi and McCall threatened stiff new sanctions.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, and California joined in within days. In
mid-August the Swiss finally caved in. In a class-action settlement mediated by Judge Korman, the
Swiss agreed to pay $1.25 billion. “The aim of the additional payment,” a Swiss banks press release
read, “is to avert the threat of sanctions as well as long and costly court proceedings.”32
“You have been a true pioneer in this saga,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated
D’Amato. “The result is not only an achievement in material terms but a moral victory and a triumph
of the spirit.”33 Pity he didn’t say “the will.”
The $1.25 billion settlement with Switzerland covered basically three classes — claimants to dormant
Swiss accounts, refugees denied Swiss asylum, and victims of slave labor which Swiss benefited
from.34 For all the righteous indignation about the “perfidious Swiss,” however, the comparable
American record is, on all these counts, just as bad, if not worse. I will return presently to the matter
of dormant US accounts. Like Switzerland, the US denied entry to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism
before and during World War II. Yet the American government hasn’t seen fit to compensate, say,
Jewish refugees aboard the ill-fated ship St. Louis. Imagine the reaction if the thousands of Central
American and Haitian refugees who were denied asylum after fleeing US-sponsored death squads
sought compensation here. And, although dwarfed in size and resources by the United States,
Switzerland admitted just as many Jewish refugees as the US (approximately 20,000) during the Nazi
The only means to atone for past sins, American politicians lectured Switzerland, was providing
material compensation. Stuart Eizenstat, Undersecretary for Commerce and Clinton’s Special Envoy
for Property Restitution, deemed Swiss compensation to Jewry “an important litmus test of this
generation’s willingness to face the past and to rectify the wrongs of the past.” Although they couldn’t
be “held responsible for what took place years ago,” D’Amato acknowledged during the same Senate
hearing, the Swiss still had “a duty of accountability and of attempting to do what is right at this point
in time.” Publicly endorsing the WJC’s compensation demands, President Clinton likewise reflected
that “we must confront and, as best we can, right the terrible injustice of the past.” “History does not
have a statute of limitations,” chairman James Leach said during the House Banking Committee
hearings, and “the past must never be forgotten.” “It should be made clear,” bipartisan Congressional
leaders wrote in a letter to the Secretary of State, that the “response on this restitution matter will be
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seen as a test of respect for basic human rights and the rule of law.” And in an address to the Swiss
Parliament, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained that the economic benefits accruing to
the Swiss from withheld Jewish accounts “were passed along to subsequent generations and that is
why the world now looks to the people of Switzerland, not to assume responsibility for actions taken
by their forebears, but to be generous in doing what can be done at this point to right past wrongs.”36
Noble sentiments all, but nowhere to be heard — unless they are being actively ridiculed — when it
comes to African-American compensation for slavery.37
It remains unclear how “needy Holocaust survivors” will fare in the final settlement. Gizella
Weisshaus, the first claimant of a dormant Swiss account to sue, has discharged her attorney, Edward
Fagan, bitterly charging that he used her. Still, Fagan’s bill to the court totaled $4 million in fees. Total
attorney fee demands run to $15 million, with “many” billing at a rate of $600 per hour. One lawyer is
asking $2,400 for reading Tom Bower’s book, Nazi Gold. “Jewish groups and survivors,” New York’s
Jewish Week reported, “are taking off the gloves as they vie for a share of the Swiss banks’ $1.25
billion Holocaust-era settlement.” Plaintiffs and survivors maintain that all the money should go
directly to them. Jewish organizations, however, are demanding a piece of the action. Denouncing the
aggrandizement of the Jewish organizations, Greta Beer, a key Congressional witness against the
Swiss banks, beseeched Judge Korman’s court that “I don’t want to be crushed underfoot like a little
insect.” Its solicitude for “needy Holocaust survivors” notwithstanding, the WJC wants nearly half the
Swiss monies earmarked for Jewish organizations and “Holocaust education.” The Simon Wiesenthal
Center maintains that if “worthy” Jewish organizations receive monies, “a portion should go to Jewish
educational centers.” As they “angle” for a bigger share of the loot, Reform and Orthodox
organizations each claim that the 6 million dead would have preferred their branch of Judaism as
financial beneficiary. Meanwhile, the Holocaust industry forced Switzerland into a settlement because
time was allegedly of the essence: “needy Holocaust survivors are dying every day.” Once the Swiss
signed away the money, however, the urgency miraculously passed. More than a year after the
settlement was reached there was still no distribution plan. By the time the money is finally divvied
out all the “needy Holocaust survivors” will probably be dead. In fact, as of December 1999, less than
half of the $200 million “Special Fund for Needy Victims of the Holocaust” established in February
1997 had been distributed to actual victims. After lawyers’ fees have been paid, the Swiss monies will
then flow into the coffers of “worthy” Jewish organizations. 38
No settlement can possibly be defended,” Burt Neuborne, a New York University law professor and
member of the class-action legal team, wrote in the New York Times, “if it allows the Holocaust to
stand as a profit-making enterprise for the Swiss banks.” Edgar Bronfman movingly testified before
the House Banking Committee that the Swiss should not “be allowed to make a profit from the ashes
of the Holocaust.” On the other hand, Bronfman recently acknowledged that the WJC treasury has
amassed no less than “roughly $7 billion” in compensation monies.39
The authoritative reports on the Swiss banks have meanwhile been published. One can now judge
whether in fact there was, as Bower claims, a “fifty-year Swiss-Nazi conspiracy to steal billions from
Europe’s Jews and Holocaust survivors.”
In July 1998 the Independent (Bergier) Commission of Experts issued its report, Switzerland and Gold
Transactions in the Second World War.40 The Commission confirmed that Swiss banks purchased
gold from Nazi Germany, worth about $4 billion in current values, knowing that it had been plundered
from the central banks of occupied Europe. Throughout the hearings on Capitol Hill, members of
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Congress expressed shock that Swiss banks had trafficked in looted assets and, even worse, still
indulged these egregious practices. Deploring the fact that corrupt politicians deposit their ill-gotten
gains in Swiss banks, one Congressman called on Switzerland to finally enact legislation against “this
secret movement of money by . . . people of political prominence or leadership, of people looting their
treasury.” Bewailing the “number of international, high profile corrupt government officials and
businesspeople who have found sanctuary for their substantial wealth in Swiss banks,” another
Congressman wondered aloud whether «the Swiss banking system is accommodating this generation’s
thugs, and the countries they represent, in . . . ways that sanctuary was given to the Nazi regime 55
years ago?”41 Truly the problem warrants concern. Annually an estimated $100 – $200 billion arising
from political corruption is sent across borders worldwide and deposited in private banks. The
Congressional banking committee reprimands would have carried more weight, however, if fully half
this “illegal flight capital” weren’t deposited in American banks with the complete sanction of US
law.42 Recent beneficiaries of this legal US “sanctuary” include Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother
of Mexico’s former president, and the family of former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha. “The
gold looted by Adolf Hitler and his henchmen,” Jean Ziegler, a Swiss parliamentarian fiercely critical
of the Swiss banks, observes, “does not differ in essence from the blood money” now held in the
private Swiss accounts of Third World dictators. “Millions of men, women, and children were driven
to their deaths by Hitler’s licensed thieves,” and “hundreds of thousands of children die annually of
disease and malnutrition” in the Third World because “tyrants despoiled their countries with the aid of
Swiss financial sharks.”43 And with the aid of American financial sharks as well. I leave to one side
the even more important point that many of these tyrants were installed and maintained by US power
and authorized by the United States to despoil their countries.
On the specific question of the Nazi holocaust, the Independent Commission concluded that the Swiss
banks did purchase «bars containing gold looted by Nazi criminals from the victims of work camps
and extermination camps.” They didn’t, however, knowingly do so: «there is no indication that the
decision-makers at the Swiss central bank knew that bars containing such gold were being shipped to
Switzerland by the Reichsbank.” The Commission put the value of “victim gold” unwittingly
purchased by Switzerland at $134,428, or about $1 million in current values. This figure includes
“victim gold” stripped from Jewish as well as non-Jewish camp inmates.44
In December 1999 the Independent (Volcker) Committee of Eminent Persons issued its Report on
Dormant Accounts of Victims of Nazi Persecution in Swiss Banks.45 The Report documents the
findings of an exhaustive audit that lasted three years and cost no less than $500 million.46 Its central
finding on the “treatment of dormant accounts of victims of Nazi persecution” merits extended
[F]or victims of Nazi persecution there was no evidence of systematic discrimination, obstruction of
access, misappropriation, or violation of document retention requirements of Swiss law. However, the
Report also criticizes the actions of some banks in their treatment of the accounts of victims of Nazi
persecution. The word “some” in the preceding sentence needs to be emphasized since the criticized
actions refer mainly to those of specific banks in their handling of individual accounts of victims of
Nazi persecution in the context of an investigation of 254 banks covering a period of about 60 years.
For the criticized actions, the Report also recognizes that there were mitigating circumstances for the
conduct of the banks involved in these activities. The Report acknowledges, moreover, that there is
ample evidence of many cases in which banks actively sought out missing account holders or their
heirs, including Holocaust victims, and paid account balances of dormant accounts to the proper
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The paragraph mildly concludes that “the Committee believes the criticized actions are of sufficient
importance that it is desirable to document in this section the things that did go wrong so that it is
possible to learn from the past rather than repeat its mistakes.”47
The Report also found that, although the Committee couldn’t track down all the bank records for the
“Relevant Period” (1933-45), destruction of records without detection “would be difficult, if not
impossible,” and that “in fact, no evidence of systematic destruction of account records for the purpose
of concealing past behavior has been found.” It concludes that the percentage of records recovered (60
percent) was “truly extraordinary” and “truly remarkable,” especially given that Swiss law does not
require retention of records beyond 10 years.48
Yet, compare the New York Times’s rendering of the Volcker Committee findings. Under an editorial
headline, “The Deceptions of Swiss Banks,”49 the Times reported that the Committee found “no
conclusive evidence” that Swiss banks mishandled dormant Jewish accounts. Yet the Report
categorically stated “no evidence.” The Times goes on to state that the Committee “found that Swiss
banks had somehow managed to lose track of a shockingly large number of these accounts.” Yet the
Report found that the Swiss preserved records of a “truly extraordinary,” “truly remarkable” number.
Finally, the Times reports that, according to the Committee, “many banks had cruelly and deceptively
turned away family members trying to recover lost assets.” In fact, the Report emphasizes that only
“some” banks misbehaved and that there were “mitigating circumstances” in these cases, and it points
out as well the “many cases” in which banks actively sought out legitimate claimants.
The Report does fault the Swiss banks for not being “straightforward and forthright” in prior audits of
dormant Holocaust-era accounts. Nonetheless, it seems to credit the shortfall in these audits more to
technical factors than malfeasance.50 The Report identifies 54,000 accounts with a «probable or
possible relationship with victims of Nazi persecution.” But it judges that only in the case of half this
number— 25,000 – was the likelihood significant enough to warrant publication of account names.
The estimated current value of 10,000 of these accounts for which some information was available
runs to $170-$260 million. It proved impossible to estimate the current value of the remaining
accounts.51 The total value of actual dormant Holocaust era accounts will likely climb much higher
than the $32 million originally estimated by the Swiss banks, but will still fall staggeringly short of the
$7 – $20 billion claimed by the WJC. In subsequent Congressional testimony, Volcker observed that
the number of Swiss accounts “probably or possibly” related to Holocaust victims was “many times as
large as that emerging from previous Swiss investigations.” However, he continued: “l emphasize the
words ‘probably or possibly’ because, except in a relatively few cases, after more than half a century,
we were not able to identify with certainty an irrefutable relationship between victims and account
The most explosive finding of the Volcker Committee went unreported in the American media.
Alongside Switzerland, the Committee observes, the US was also a primary safe haven for
transferable Jewish assets in Europe:
The anticipation of war and economic distress, as well as the persecution of Jews and other minorities
by the Nazis prior to and during World War II, caused many people, including the victims of this
persecution, to move their assets to countries deemed to provide safe havens (importantly including
the United States and the United Kingdom)…. In view of neutral Switzerland’s borders with Axis and
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Axis-occupied countries, Swiss banks and other Swiss financial intermediaries were also recipients of
a portion of the assets in search of safety.
An important appendix lists the “favored destinations’, of Jewish transferable assets in Europe. The
main stated destinations were the US and Switzerland. (Great Britain came in a “low third” as a stated
The obvious question is, What happened to the dormant Holocaust era accounts in American banks?
The House Banking Committee did call one expert witness to testify on this issue. Seymour Rubin,
currently a professor at American University, served as deputy chief of the US delegation in the Swiss
negotiations after World War II. Under the auspices of American Jewish organizations Rubin also
worked during the 1950s with a “group of experts on Jewish communal life in Europe” to identify
dormant Holocaust-era accounts in US banks. In his House testimony Rubin stated that, after a most
superficial and rudimentary audit of just New York banks, the value of these accounts was put at $6
million. Jewish organizations requested this sum for “needy survivors” from Congress (abandoned
dormant accounts in the US are transferred to the state under the doctrine of escheat). Rubin then
[T]he initial estimate of $6 million was rejected by potential Congressional sponsors of the necessary
legislation and a limit of $3 million was used in the original draft legislation…. In the event, the $3
million figure was slashed in Committee hearings to $1 million. Legislative action further reduced the
amount to $500,000. Even that amount was opposed by the Bureau of the Budget, which proposed a
limit of $250,000. The legislation however passed with the $500,000.
“The United States,” Rubin concluded, “took only very limited measures to identify heirless assets in
the United States, and made available … a mere $500,000, in contrast to the $32,000,000
acknowledged by Swiss banks even prior to the Volcker inquiry.”54
In other words, the US record is much worse than the Swiss record. It bears emphasis that, apart from
a fleeting remark by Eizenstat, there was no other mention of the dormant US accounts during the
House and Senate banking committee hearings devoted to the Swiss banks. Moreover, although Rubin
plays a pivotal role in the many secondary accounts of the Swiss banks affair—Bower devotes scores
of pages to this “crusader in the State Department” — none mention his House testimony. During the
House hearing Rubin also expressed “a certain amount of skepticism with respect to the large amounts
[in dormant Swiss accounts] which are being talked about.” Needless to say, Rubin’s precise insights
on this matter were also studiously ignored.
Where was the Congressional hue and cry over “perfidious” American bankers? One member after
another of the Senate and House banking committees clamored for the Swiss to “finally pay up.”
None, however, called on the US to do so. Rather, a House Banking Committee member shamelessly
averred — with Bronfman agreeing – that “only” Switzerland “has failed to show the courage to
confront its own history.”55 Unsurprisingly, the Holocaust industry didn’t launch a campaign to
investigate US banks. An audit of our banks on the scale of the Swiss audit would cost American
taxpayers not millions but billions of dollars.56 By the time it was completed American Jews would
be seeking asylum in Munich. Courage has its limits.
Already in the late 1940s, when the US was pressing Switzerland to identify dormant Jewish accounts,
the Swiss protested that Americans should first attend to their own backyard.57 In mid-1997 New
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York Governor Pataki announced the creation of a State Commission on the Recovery Of Holocaust
Victims’ Assets to process claims against Swiss banks. Unimpressed, the Swiss suggested that the
commission might more usefully process claims against US and Israeli banks.58 Indeed Bower recalls
that Israeli bankers had “refused to release lists of dormant accounts of Jews” after the 1948 war, and
recently it has been reported that “unlike countries in Europe, Israel’s banks and Zionist organizations
are resisting pressure to set up independent commissions to establish how much property and how
many dormant accounts were held by Holocaust survivors, and how the owners can be located”
(Financial Times). (European Jews purchased plots of land and opened bank accounts in Palestine
during the British Mandate to support the Zionist enterprise or prepare for future immigration.) In
October 1998, the WJC and WJRO “reached a decision in principle to refrain from dealing with the
subject of assets in Israel of Holocaust victims on the ground that responsibility for this lay with the
Israeli government” (Haaretz). The writ of these Jewish organizations thus runs to Switzerland but not
to the Jewish state. The most sensational charge leveled against the Swiss banks was that they required
death certificates from the heirs of Nazi holocaust victims. Israeli banks have also demanded such
documentation. One searches in vain, however, for denunciations of the “perfidious Israelis.” To
demonstrate that “no moral equivalence can be drawn between banks in Israel and Switzerland,” the
New York Times quoted a former Israeli legislator: “Here it was negligence at best; in Switzerland it
was a crime.”59 Comment is superfluous.
In May 1998 a Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States 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.” “The Commission’s work demonstrates irrefutably,” Commission chair Bronfman declared,
“that we in the United States are willing to hold ourselves to the same high standard of truth about
Holocaust assets to which we have held other nations.” Yet a presidential advisory commission with a
total budget of $6 million is rather different from a comprehensive $500 million external audit of a
nation’s entire banking system with unfettered access to all bank records.60 To dispel any lingering
doubts that the US stood in the forefront of efforts to restore Holocaust-era stolen Jewish assets, James
Leach, chairman of the House Banking Committee, proudly announced in February 2000 that a North
Carolina museum had returned one painting to an Austrian family. “It underscores United States
accountability . . . and I think that is something that this Committee ought to stress.”61
For the Holocaust industry, the Swiss banks affair — like the postwar torments endured by Swiss
Holocaust “survivor” Binjamin Wilkomirski — was yet further proof of an ineradicable and irrational
Gentile malice. The affair pointed up the gross insensitivity of even a “liberal democratic, European
country,” Itamar Levin concludes, to “those who carried the physical and emotional scars of the worst
crime in history.” An April 1997 Tel Aviv University study reported “an unmistakable rise” in Swiss
anti-Semitism. Yet this ominous development couldn’t possibly be connected with the Holocaust
industry’s shakedown of Switzerland. “Jews do not make anti-Semitism,” Bronfman sniffed.
“Anti-Semites make anti-Semitism.”62
Material compensation for the Holocaust “is the greatest moral test facing Europe at the end of the
twentieth century,” Itamar Levin maintains. “This will be the real test of the Continent’s treatment of
the Jewish people.”63 Indeed, emboldened by its success in shaking down the Swiss, the Holocaust
industry moved quickly to “test” the rest of Europe. The next stop was Germany.
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After the Holocaust industry settled with Switzerland in August 1998, it deployed the same winning
strategy against Germany in September. The same three legal teams (Hausfeld — Weiss, Fagan Swift,
and the World Council of Orthodox Jewish Communities) initiated class-action lawsuits against
German private industry, demanding no less than $20 billion in compensation. Brandishing the threat
of an economic boycott, New York City Comptroller Hevesi began to “monitor” the negotiations in
April 1999. The House Banking Committee held hearings in September. Congresswoman Carolyn
Maloney declared that “the passage of time must not be an excuse for unjust enrichment” (at any rate,
from Jewish slave labor — African-American slave labor is another story) while Committee chairman
Leach, reading from the same old script, intoned that “history has no statute of limitations.” German
companies doing business in the United States, Stuart Eizenstat told the Committee, “value their good
will here, and will want to continue the kind of good citizenship in the US and Germany that they’ve
always displayed.” Forgoing diplomatic niceties, Congressman Rick Lazio bluntly urged the
Committee “to focus on the private sector German companies, in particular, those who do business in
the US.”64 To whip up public hysteria against Germany, the Holocaust industry took out multiple
full-page newspaper advertisements in October. The awful truth did not suffice; all the Holocaust hot
buttons were pressed. An ad denouncing the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer dragged in
Josef Mengele, although the evidence that Bayer “directed” his murderous experiments was nil.
Recognizing that the Holocaust juggernaut was irresistible, the Germans caved in to a substantial
monetary settlement by year’s end.
The Times of London credited this capitulation to the “Holocash” campaign in the United States. “We
could not have reached agreement,” Eizenstat later told the House Banking Committee, “without the
personal involvement and leadership of President Clinton . . . as well as other senior officials» in the
US government.65
The Holocaust industry charged that Germany had a “moral and legal obligation” to compensate
former Jewish slave laborers. “These slave laborers deserve a small measure of justice,” Eizenstat
pleaded, “in the few years remaining in their lives.” Yet, as indicated above, it is simply untrue that
they hadn’t received any compensation. Jewish slave laborers were covered under the original
agreements with Germany compensating concentration camp inmates. The German government
indemnified former Jewish slave laborers for “deprivation of liberty” and for “harm to life and limb.”
Only wages withheld were not formally compensated. Those who sustained enduring injuries each
received a substantial lifetime pension.66 Germany also endowed the Jewish Claims Conference with
approximately a billion dollars in current values for those Jewish ex-camp inmates who received
minimum compensation. As indicated earlier, the Claims Conference, violating the agreement with
Germany, used the monies instead for various pet projects. It justified this (mis)use of German
compensation on the grounds that “even before the funds from Germany had become available . . . the
needs of the ‘needy’ victims of Nazism had already been largely met.”67 Still, fifty years later the
Holocaust industry was demanding money for “needy Holocaust victims» who had been living in
poverty because the Germans allegedly never compensated them.
What constitutes “fair” compensation for former Jewish slave laborers is plainly an unanswerable
question. One can, however, say this: According to the terms of the new settlement, Jewish former
slave laborers are each supposed to receive about $7,500. If the Claims Conference had properly
distributed the original German monies, many more former Jewish slave laborers would have received
much more much sooner.
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Whether “needy Holocaust victims” will ever see any of the new German monies is an open question.
The Claims Conference wants a large chunk set aside as its own “Special Fund.” According to the
Jerusalem Report, the Conference has “plenty to gain by ensuring that the survivors get nothing.”
Israeli Knesset member Michael Kleiner (Herut) lambasted the Conference as a “Judenrat, carrying on
the Nazis’ work in different ways.” It’s a “dishonest body, conducting itself with professional secrecy,
and tainted by ugly public and moral corruption,” he charged, “a body of darkness that is maltreating
Jewish Holocaust survivors and their heirs, while it sits on a huge pile of money belonging to private
individuals, but is doing everything to inherit [the money] while they are still alive.”68 Meanwhile,
Stuart Eizenstat, testifying before the House Banking Committee, continued to heap praise on the
“transparent process that the Jewish Material Claims Conference has had over the last 40-some-odd
years.” For sheer cynicism, however, Rabbi Israel Singer ranked without peer. In addition to his
secretary-general post at the World Jewish Congress, Singer has served as vice-president of the
Claims Conference and was chief negotiator in the German slave-labor talks. He piously reiterated to
the House Banking Committee after the Swiss and German settlements that “it would be a shame” if
the Holocaust compensation monies were “paid to heirs rather than survivors.” “We don’t want that
money paid to heirs. We want that money to be paid to victims.” Yet, Haaretz reports that Singer has
been the main proponent of using Holocaust compensation monies «to meet the needs of the entire
Jewish people, and not just those Jews who were fortunate enough to survive the Holocaust and live
into old age.”69
In a US Holocaust Memorial Museum publication, Henry Friedlander, the respected Nazi holocaust
historian and ax-Auschwitz inmate, sketched this numerical picture at war’s end:
If there were about 715,000 prisoners in the camps at the start of 1945, and at least one third — that is,
about 238,000 — perished during spring 1945, we can assume that at most 475,000 prisoners
survived. As Jews had been systematically murdered, and only those chosen for labor — in Auschwitz
about 15 percent — had even a chance to survive, we must assume that Jews made up no more than 20
percent of the concentration camp population.
“We can thus estimate,” he concluded, “that the number of Jewish survivors numbered no more than
100,000.” Friedlander’s figure for surviving Jewish slave laborers at war’s end, incidentally, is at the
high end among scholars. In an authoritative study, Leonard Dinnerstein reported: “Sixty thousand
Jews . . . walked out of the concentration camps. Within a week more than 20,000 of them had
In a May 1999 State Department briefing, Stuart Eizenstat, citing the figure of “groups representing
them,” put the total number of slave laborers, Jewish and non-Jewish, still alive at “perhaps
70-90,000.”71 Eizenstat was Chief US Envoy in the German slavelabor negotiations and worked
closely with the Claims Conference.72 This would put the total number of still living Jewish slave
laborers at 14,000 – 18,000 (20 percent of 70-90,000). Yet, as it entered into negotiations with
Germany, the Holocaust industry demanded compensation for 135,000 still living former Jewish slave
laborers. The total number of still living former slave laborers, Jewish and non-Jewish, was put at
250,000.73 In other words, the number of former Jewish slave laborers still alive increased nearly
tenfold from May 1999, and the ratio between living Jewish and non-Jewish slave laborers drastically
shifted. In fact, to believe the Holocaust industry, more former Jewish slave laborers are alive today
than a half-century ago. “What a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott wrote, “when first we
practice to deceive.”
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As the Holocaust industry plays with numbers to boost its compensation claims, anti-Semites gleefully
mock the “Jew liars” who even “huckster” their dead. In juggling these numbers the Holocaust
industry, however unintentionally, whitewashes Nazism. Raul Hilberg, the leading authority on the
Nazi holocaust, puts the figure for Jews murdered at 5.1 million.74 Yet, if 135,000 former Jewish
slave laborers are still alive today, some 600,000 must have survived the war. That’s at least a
half-million more than standard estimates. One would then have to deduct this half-million from the
5.1 million figure of those killed. Not only does the “6 Million” figure become more untenable but the
numbers of the Holocaust industry are rapidly approaching those of Holocaust deniers. Consider that
Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler put the total camp population in January 1945 at a little over 700,000
and that, according to Friedlander, about one-third this number was killed off by May. Yet if Jews
constituted only 20 percent of the surviving camp population and, as the Holocaust industry implies,
600,000 Jewish inmates survived the war, then fully 3 million inmates in total must have survived. By
the Holocaust industry’s reckoning, concentration camp conditions couldn’t have been harsh at all; in
fact, one must suppose a remarkably high fertility and remarkably low mortality rate.75
The standard claim is that the Final Solution was a uniquely efficient, assembly-line, industrial
exterminations But if, as the Holocaust industry suggests, many hundreds of thousands of Jews
survived, the Final Solution couldn’t have been so efficient after all. It must have been a haphazard
affair — exactly what Holocaust deniers argue. Les extremes se touchent.
In a recent interview Raul Hilberg underscored that numbers do matter in comprehending the Nazi
holocaust. Indeed, the Claims Conference’s revised figures radically call into question its own
understanding. According to the Claims Conference’s “position paper” on slave labor in its
negotiations with Germany: “Slave labor was one of the three main methods used by the Nazis to
murder Jews — the others being shooting and gassing. One of the purposes of slave labor was to work
the individuals to death…. The term slave is an imprecise word in this context. In general slave
masters have an interest to preserve the life and condition of their slaves. However, the Nazi plan for
the ‘slaves’ was that their work potential be utilized and then the ‘slaves’ should be exterminated.”
Apart from Holocaust deniers, no one has yet disputed that Nazism consigned slave laborers to this
horrific fate. How can one reconcile these established facts however, with the claim that many
hundreds of thousands of Jewish slave laborers survived the camps? Hasn’t the Claims Conference
breached the wall separating the ghastly truth about the Nazi holocaust from Holocaust denial?77
In a full-page New York Times advertisement, Holocaust industry luminaries such as Elie Wiesel,
Rabbi Marvin Hier, and Steven T. Katz condemned “Syria’s Denial of the Holocaust.” The text
decried an editorial in an official Syrian government newspaper that claimed Israel “invents stories
about the Holocaust” in order to “receive more money from Germany and other Western
establishments.” Regrettably, the Syrian charge is true. Yet the irony, lost on both the Syrian
government and the signatories to the ad, is that these stories themselves of many hundreds of
thousands of survivors constitute a form of Holocaust denial.78
The shakedown of Switzerland and Germany has been only a prelude to the grand finale: the
shakedown of Eastern Europe. With the collapse of the Soviet bloc, alluring prospects opened up in
the former heartland of European Jewry. Cloaking itself in the sanctimonious mantle of “needy
Holocaust victims,” the Holocaust industry has sought to extort billions of dollars from these already
impoverished countries. Pursuing this end with reckless and ruthless abandon, it has become the main
fomenter of anti-Semitism in Europe.
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The Holocaust industry has positioned itself as the sole legitimate claimant to all the communal and
private assets of those who perished during the Nazi holocaust. “It has been agreed with the
Government of Israel,” Edgar Bronfman told the House Banking Committee, “that helpless assets
should accrue to the World Jewish Restitution Organization.” Using this “mandate,” the Holocaust
industry has called on former Soviet-bloc countries to hand over all pre-war Jewish properties or come
up with monetary compensation.79 Unlike in the case of Switzerland and Germany, however, it
makes these demands away from the glare of publicity. Public opinion has so far not been averse to
the blackmailing of Swiss bankers and German industrialists, but it might look less kindly on the
blackmailing of starving Polish peasants. Jews who lost family members during the Nazi holocaust
might also take a jaundiced view of the WJRO’s machinations. Claiming to be the legitimate heir of
those who perished in order to appropriate their assets could easily be mistaken for grave-robbery. On
the other hand, the Holocaust industry doesn’t need a mobilized public opinion. With the support of
key US officials, it can easily break the feeble resistance of already prostrate nations.
“It is important to recognize that our efforts at communal property restitution,” Stuart Eizenstat told a
House committee, “are integral to the rebirth and renewal of Jewish life” in Eastern Europe. Allegedly
to “promote the revival” of Jewish life in Poland, the World Jewish Restitution Organization is
demanding title over the 6,000 pre-war communal Jewish properties, including those currently being
used as hospitals and schools. The pre-war Jewish population of Poland stood at 3.5 million; the
current population is several thousand. Does reviving Jewish life really require one synagogue or
school building per Polish Jew? The organization is also laying claim to hundreds of thousands of
parcels of Polish land valued in the many tens of billions of dollars. “Polish officials fear,” Jewish
Week reports, that the demand “could bankrupt the nation.” When Poland’s Parliament proposed limits
on compensation to avert insolvency, Elan Steinberg of the WJC denounced the legislation as
“fundamentally an anti-American act.”80
Tightening the screws on Poland, Holocaust industry attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit in Judge
Korman’s court to compensate “aging and dying Holocaust survivors.” The complaint charged that the
postwar Polish governments “continued during the last fifty-four years” a genocidal “expulsion to
extinction” policy against Jews. New York City Council members jumped in with a unanimous
resolution calling on Poland “to pass comprehensive legislation providing for the complete restitution
of Holocaust assets,” while 57 members of Congress (led by Congressman Anthony Weiner of New
York) dispatched a letter to the Polish Parliament demanding “comprehensive legislation that would
return 100% of all property and assets seized during the Holocaust.” “As the people involved are
getting older and older every day,” the letter said, “time is running out to compensate those
Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Stuart Eizenstat deplored the lax pace of evictions
in Eastern Europe: “A variety of problems have arisen in the return of properties. For example, in
some countries, when persons or communities have attempted to reclaim properties, they have been
asked, sometimes required . . . to allow current tenants to remain for a lengthy period of time at
rent-controlled rates.”82 The delinquency of Belarus particularly exercised Eizenstat. Belarus is “very,
very far” behind in handing over pre-war Jewish properties, he told the House International Relations
Committee.83 The average monthly income of a Belarussian is $100.
To force submission from recalcitrant governments, the Holocaust industry wields the bludgeon of US
sanctions. Eizenstat urged Congress to “elevate” Holocaust compensation, put it “high on the list” of
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requirements for those East European countries that are seeking entry into the OECD, the WTO, the
European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe: “They will listen if you speak…. They will get
the hint.” Israel Singer of the WJC called on Congress to “continue looking at the shopping list” in
order to “check” that every country pays up. “It is extremely important that the countries involved in
the issue understand,” Congressman Benjamin Gilman of the House International Relations
Committee said, “that their response . . . is one of several standards by which the United States
assesses its bilateral relationship.” Avraham Hirschson, chairman of Israel’s Knesset Committee on
Restitution and Israel’s representative on the World Jewish Restitution Organization, paid tribute to
Congressional complicity in the shakedown. Recalling his “fights” with the Romanian Prime Minister,
Hirschson testified: “But I ask one remark, in the middle of the fighting, and it changed that
atmosphere. I told him, you know, in two days I am going to be in a hearing here in Congress. What
do you want me to tell them in the hearing? Whole atmosphere was changed.” The World Jewish
Congress has “created an entire Holocaust industry,” a lawyer for survivors warns, and is “guilty of
promoting . . . a very ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.”
“Were it not for the United States of America,” Eizenstat aptly observed in his paean to Congress,
“very few, if any, of these activities would be ongoing today.” To justify the pressures exerted on
Eastern Europe, he explained that a hallmark of “Western” morality is to “return or pay compensation
for communal and private property wrongfully appropriated.” For the “new democracies” in Eastern
Europe, meeting this standard “would be commensurate with their passage from totalitarianism to
democratic states.” Eizenstat is a senior US government official and a prominent supporter of Israel.
Yet, judging by the respective claims of Native Americans and Palestinians, neither the US nor Israel
has yet made the transition.85
In his House testimony, Hirschson conjured the melancholy spectacle of aging “needy Holocaust
victims” from Poland “coming to me to my office in the Knesset each day . . . begging to get back
what belongs to them . . . to get back the houses they left, to get back the stores they left.” Meanwhile,
the Holocaust industry wages battle on a second front. Repudiating the specious mandate of the World
Jewish Restitution Organization, local Jewish communities in Eastern Europe have staked out their
own claims on heirless Jewish assets. To benefit from such a claim, however, a Jew must formally
adhere to the local Jewish community. The hoped-for revival of Jewish life is thus coming to pass as
Eastern European Jews parlay their newly discovered roots into a cut of the Holocaust booty.86
The Holocaust industry boasts of earmarking compensation monies for charitable Jewish causes.
“While charity is a noble cause,” a lawyer representing the actual victims observes, “it is wrong to
perform it with other people’s money.” One favorite cause is “Holocaust education” — the “greatest
legacy of our efforts,” according to Eizenstat. Hirschson is also founder of an organization called
“March of the Living,” a centerpiece of Holocaust education and a major beneficiary of compensation
monies. In this Zionist-inspired spectacle with a cast of thousands, Jewish youth from around the
world converge on the death camps in Poland for first-hand instruction in Gentile wickedness before
being flown off to Israel for salvation. The Jerusalem Report captures this Holocaust kitsch moment
on the March: “‘I’m so scared, I can’t go on, I want to be in Israel already,’ repeats a young Connecticut
woman over and over. Her body is shaking…. Suddenly her friend pulls out a large Israeli flag. She
wraps it around the two of them and they move on.” An Israeli flag: don’t leave home without it.87
Speaking at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, David Harris of the AJC waxed
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eloquent on the “profound impact» pilgrimages to Nazi death camps have on Jewish youth. The
Forward took note of an episode particularly fraught with pathos. Under the headline “Israeli Teens
Frolic With Strippers After Auschwitz Visit,” the newspaper explained that, according to experts, the
kibbutz students “hired strippers to release the troubling emotions raised by the trip.” These same
torments apparently racked Jewish students on a US Holocaust Memorial Museum field trip who,
according to the Forward, “were running around and having a wonderful time and feeling each other
up and whatever.”88 Who can doubt the wisdom of the Holocaust industry’s decision to earmark
compensation monies for Holocaust education rather than “fritter away the funds” (Nahum Goldmann)
on survivors of Nazi death camps?89
In January 2000 officials from nearly fifty states, including Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel,
attended a major Holocaust education conference in Stockholm. The conference’s final declaration
underlined the international community’s “solemn responsibility” to fight the evils of genocide, ethnic
cleansing, racism and xenophobia. A Swedish reporter afterward asked Barak about the Palestinian
refugees. On principle, Barak replied, he was against even one refugee coming to Israel: “We cannot
accept moral, legal, or other responsibility for refugees.” Plainly the conference was a huge success.90
The Jewish Claims Conference’s official Guide to Compensation and Restitution for Holocaust
Survivors lists scores of organizational affiliates. A vast, well-heeled bureaucracy has sprung up.
Insurance companies, banks, art museums, private industry, tenants and farmers in nearly every
European country are under the Holocaust industry gun. But the “needy Holocaust victims” in whose
name the Holocaust industry acts complain that it is “just perpetuating the expropriation.” Many have
filed suit against the Claims Conference. The Holocaust may yet turn out to be the “greatest robbery in
the history of mankind.”91
When Israel first entered into negotiations with Germany for reparations after the war, historian Ilan
Pappe reports, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett proposed transferring a part to Palestinian refugees, “in
order to rectify what has been called the small injustice (the Palestinian tragedy), caused by the more
terrible one (the Holocaust).”92 Nothing ever came of the proposal. A prominent Israeli academic has
suggested using some of the funds from the Swiss banks and German firms for the “compensation of
Palestinian Arab refugees.”93 Given that almost all survivors of the Nazi holocaust have already
passed away, this would seem to be a sensible proposal.
In vintage WJC style, Israel Singer made the “startling announcement” on 13 March 2000 that a newly
declassified US document revealed that Austria was holding heirless Holocaust-era assets of Jews
worth yet another $10 billion. Singer also charged that “fifty percent of America’s total art is looted
Jewish art.”94 The Holocaust industry has clearly gone berserk.
1 Henry Friedlander, “Darkness and Dawn in 1945 The Nazis, the Allies, and the Survivors,” in us
Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1945—the Year of Liberation (Washington 1995), Il-35.
2 See, for example, Segev, Seventh Million, 248.
3 Lappin, Man With Two Heads, 48. D.D. Guttenplan, “The Holocaust on Trial,” in Atlantic Monthly
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(February 2000), 62 (but cf. text above, where Lipstadt equates doubting a survivor’s testimony with
Holocaust denial).
4 Wiesel, AR Rivers, 121 – 30, 139, 163 – 4, 201 – 2, 336. Jewish Week, 17 September 1999. New York
Times, 5 March 1997.
5 Leonard Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust (New York: 1982), 24.
6 Daniel Ganzfried, “Binjamin Wilkomirski und die verwandelte Polin,” in Weltwoche (4 November
7 Marilyn B. Young, The Vietnam Wars (New York: 1991), 301 – 2. “Cohen: US Not Sorry for
Vietnam War,” in Associated Press (11 March 2000).
8 For background, see esp. Nana Sagi, German Reparations (New York: 1986), and Ronald W.
Zweig, German Reparations and the Jewish World (Boulder: 1987). Both volumes are official
histories commissioned by the Claims Conference.
9 In reply to a question recently put by German Parliament member Martin Hohmann (CDU), the
German government acknowledged (albeit in extremely convoluted language) that only about 15
percent of the monies given to the Claims Conference actually benefited Jewish victims of Nazi
persecution. (personal communication, 23 February 2000)
10 In his official history, Ronald Zweig explicitly acknowledges that the Claims Conference violated
the agreement’s terms: “The influx of Conference funds allowed the Joint [Distribution Committee] to
continue programs in Europe it would otherwise have terminated, and to undertake programs it would
otherwise not have considered because of lack of funds. But the most significant change in the JDC
budget resulting from reparations payments was the allocation for the Moslem countries, where the
Joint’s activities increased by an average of 68 percent during the first three years of Conference
allocations. Despite the formal restrictions on the use of the reparation funds in the agreement with
Germany, the money was used where the needs were the greatest. Moses Leavitt [senior Claims
Conference officer] . . observed: ‘Our budget was based on priority of needs in and outside of Israel,
the Moslem countries, all included…. We did not consider the Conference fund as anything but a part
of a general fund placed at our disposal in order to meet the area of Jewish needs for which we were
responsible, the area of greatest priority”‘ (German Reparations, 74).
11 See for example Lorraine Adams, “The Reckoning,” in Washington Post Magazine (20 April
1997), Netty C. Gross, “The Old Boys Club,” and “After Years of Stonewalling, the Claims
Conference Changes Policy,” in Jerusalem Report (15 May 1997, 16 August 1997), Rebecca Spence,
“Holocaust Insurance Team Racking Up Millions in Expenses as Survivors Wait,” in Forward (30
July 1999), and Verena Dobnik, “Oscar Hammerstein’s Cousin Sues German Bank Over Holocaust
Assets,” in AP Online (20 November 1998) (Hertzberg).
12 Greg B. Smith, “Federal Judge OKs Holocaust Accord,” in Daily News (7 January 2000). Janny
Scott, “Jews Tell of Holocaust Deposits,” in New York Times (17 October 1996). Saul Kagan read a
draft of this section on the Claims Conference. The final version incorporates all his factual
13 Elli Wohlgelernter, “Lawyers and the Holocaust,” in Jerusalem Post (6 July 1999).
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14 For background to this section, see Tom Bower, Nazi Gold (New York: 1998), Itamar Levin, The
Last Deposit (Westport, Conn.: 1999), Gregg J. Rickman, Swiss Banks and Jewish Souls (New
Brunswick, NJ: 1999), Isabel Vincent, Hitler’s Silent Partners (New York: 1997), Jean Ziegler, The
Swiss, the Gold and the Dead (New York: 1997). Although suffering from a pronounced anti-Swiss
bias, these books contain much useful information.
15 Levin, Last Deposit, chaps 6 – 7. For the erroneous Israeli report (although he doesn’t mention it,
Levin was the author), see Hans J. Halbheer, “To Our American Friends,” in American Swiss
Foundation Occasional Papers (n.d.).
16 Thirteen branches of six Swiss banks operated in the United States. Swiss banks loaned American
businesses $38 billion in 1994, and managed hundreds of billions of dollars in investments in
American stocks and banks for their clients.
17 In 1992, the WJC spawned a new organization, the World Jewish Restitution Organization
(WJRO), which claimed legal jurisdiction over the assets of Holocaust survivors, living and dead.
Headed by Bronfman, the WJRO is formally an umbrella of Jewish organizations modeled on the
Jewish Claims Conference.
18 Hearings before the committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, 23
April 1996. Bronfman’s defense of “Jewish interests” is Highly selective. He is a major business
associate of the right-wing German media mogul Leo Kirch, notorious m recent years for trying to fire
a German newspaper editor who supported a supreme court decision barring Christian crosses in
public schools. (www.Seagram.com/company_info/history/main.html; Oliver Gehrs, “Einfluss aus der
Dose,” in Tagesspiegel [l2 September 1995])
19 Rickman, Swiss Banks, 50 – 1. Bower, Nazi Gold, 299 – 300.
20 Bower, Nazi Gold, 295 (“mouthpiece”), 306 – 7; cf. 319. Alan Morris Schom, “The Unwanted
Guests, Swiss Forced Labor Camps, 1940 – 1944,” A Report Prepared for the Simon Wiesenthal
center, January 1998. (Schom states these were “in reality slave-labor camps.”) Levin, Last Deposit,
158, 188. For a sober treatment of the Swiss refugee camps, see Ken Newman (ed.), Swiss Wartime
Work Camps: A Collection of Eyewitness Testimonies, 1940 – 1945 (Zurich: I 999), and International
commission of Experts, Switzerland – Second World war, Switzerland and Refugees in the Nazi Era
(Bern: 1999), chap. 4.4.4. Saidel, Never Too Late, 222 3 (“Dachau”, “sensationalistic”). Yossi Klein
Halevi, “Who Owns the Memory?” in Jerusalem Report (25 February 1993). Wiesenthal rents out his
name to the center for $90,000 annually.
21 Bower, Nazi Gold, xi, xv, 8, 9, 42, 44, 56, 84, 100, 150, 219, 304. Rickman, Swiss Banks, 219.
22 Thomas Sancton, “A Painful History,” in Time, 24 February 1997. Hearings before the committee
on Banking and Financial services, House of Representatives, 25 June 1997. Rower, Nazi Gold, 301 2.
Rickman, Swiss Banks, 48. Levin is equally silent on Salmanovitz being a Jew (cf. s, 129, 135).
23 Levin, Last Deposit, 60. Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financiil Services, House
of Representatives, 11 December 1996 (quoting Wiesel’s 16 October 1996 Senate Banking Committee
testimony). Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: 1961), chap. 5.
24 Hearings before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, 6
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May 1997.
25 Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, House of Representatives, 11
December 1996. Smith complained to the press that the documents he had unearthed long before were
being touted by D’Amato as new discoveries. In a bizarre defense, Rickman, who mobilized a massive
contingent of researchers through the US Holocaust museum for the Congressional hearings, replies:
“While I knew about Smith’s book, I made a point of not reading it so that I could not be accused of
using ‘his’ documents” (113). Vincent, Silent Partners, 240.
26 Bower, Nazi Gold, 307. Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, House
of Representatives, 25 June 1997.
27 Rickman, Swiss Banks, 77. For the definitive treatment of this topic, see Peter Hug and Marc
Perrenoud, Assets in Switzerland of Victims of Nazism and the Compensation Agreements with East
Bloc Countries (Bern 1997). For early discussion in the United States, see Seymour J. Rubin and Abba
P. Schwartz, “Refugees and Reparations,” in Law and Contemporary Problems (Duke University
School of Law, 1951), 283.
28 Levin, Last Deposit, 93, 186. Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial services,
House of Representatives, 11 December 1996. Rickman, Swiss Banks, 218. Bower, Nazi Gold, 318,
323. A week after establishing the Special Fund, Switzerland’s president, “terrified of unremitting
hostility in America” (Rower), announced the creation of a $8 billion Solidarity Foundation “to reduce
poverty, despair, and violence” globally. The foundation’s approval, however, required a national
referendum, and domestic opposition quickly surfaced. Its fate remains uncertain.
29 Bower, Nazi Gold, 315. Vincent, Silent Partners, 211. Rickman, Swiss Banks, 184 (Voleker).
30 Levin, Last Deposit, 187 – 8, 125.
31 Levin, Last Deposit, 218. Rickman, Swiss Banks, 214, 223, 221.
32 Hickman, Swiss Banks, 231.
33 Ibid. Rickman fittingly entitled this chapter of his account, “Boycotts and Diktats.”
34 For the complete text of the “Class Action Settlement Agreement,” see Independent Committee of
Eminent Persons, Report on Dormant Accounts of Victims of Nazi Persecution in Swiss Banks (Bern:
1999), Appendix O. In addition to the $200 million Special Fund and the $1.25 billion class-action
settlement, the Holocaust industry finagled another $70 million from the United States and its allies
during a 1997 London conference on the Swiss gold.
35 For US policy on Jewish refugees during these years, see David S. Wyman, Paper Walls (New
York: 1985), and The Abandonment of the Jews (New York: 1984). For Swiss policy, see Independent
Commission of Experts, Switzerland — Second World War, Switzerland and Refugees in the Nazi Era
(Bern: 1999). A similar mix of factors — economic downturn, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and, later,
security — accounted for the restrictive American and Swiss quotas. recalling the “hypocrisy in the
speeches by other nations, especially the United States which was completely uninterested in
liberalizing its immigration laws,” the Independent Commission, although harshly critical of
Switzerland, reports that its refugee policy was “like the governments of most other states.” (42, 263) I
found no mention of this point in the extensive US media coverage of the Commission’s critical
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36 Hearings before the Committee on Banking, Housing, amd Urban Affairs, United States Senate, 15
May 1997 (Eizenstat and D’Amato). Hearings before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban
Affairs, United States Senate, 23 April 1996 (BronDman, quoting Clinton and letter of Congressional
leaders). Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Fmancial Services, House of
Representatives, 11 December 1996 (Leach). Hearings before the Committee on Banking and
Financial Services, House of Representatives, 25 June 1997 (Leach). Rickman, Swiss Banks, 204
37 The only discordant note during the multiple Congressional hearings on Holocaust compensation
was sounded by Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California. While registering “1000 percent”
support “to get justice for all of the victims of the Holocaust,” Waters also questioned “how to take
this format and use it to deal with slave labor of my ancestors here in the United States. It’s very
strange to sit here . . . without wondering what I could be doing … to acknowledge slave labor in the
United States…. Reparations in the African-American community have been basically condemned as a
radical idea, and many of those . . . who tried so hard to get this issue before the Congress have
literally been ridiculed.” Specifically she proposed that government agencies directed to achieving
Holocaust compensation be directed as well to achieving compensation for “domestic slave labor.”
“The gentle lady raises an extraordinarily profound subject,” James Leach of the House Banking
Committee replied, “and the Chair will take it under advisement…. The profoundness of the issue you
raise in an American historical setting as well as in the human rights setting is deep.” The issue will
undoubtedly be deposited deep in the Committee’s memory hole. (Hearings before the Committee on
Banking and Financial Services, House of Representatives, 9 February 2000) Randall Robinson, who
is currently leading a campaign to compensate African-Americans for slavery, juxtaposed the US
government’s “silence” on this theft “even as the US Undersecretary of State, Stuart Eizenstat, labored
to make 16 German companies compensate Jews used as slave laborers during the Nazi era.” (Randall
Robinson, “Compensate the Forgotten Victims of America’s Slavery Holocaust,” in Los Angeles Times
[11 February 2000]; cf. Randall Robinson, The Debt [New York: 2000], 245)
38 Philip Lentz, “Reparation woes,” in Crain’s (15 – 21 November 1999). Michael Shapiro, “Lawyers
in Swiss Bank Settlement Submit Bill, Outraging Jewish Groups,” in Jewish Telegraphic Agency (23
November 1999). Rebecca Spence, “Hearings on Legal Fees in Swiss Bank Case,” in Forward (26
November 1999). James Bone, “Holocaust Survivors Protest Over Legal Fee,” in The Times (London)
(1 December 1999). Devlin Barrett, “Holocaust Assets,” in New York Post (2 December 1999).
Stewart Ain, “Religious Strife Erupts In Swiss Money Fight,” in Jewish Week (14 January 2000)
(“angle»). Adam Dickter, “Discord in the court,” in Jewish Week (21 January 2000). Swiss Fund for
Needy victims of the Holocaust/Shoa, “Overview on Finances, Payments and Pending Applications”
(30 November 1999). Holocaust survivors in Israel never received any of the Special Fund monies
earmarked for them; see Yair Sheleg, ”surviving Israeli Bureaucracy,” in Haaretz (6 February 2000).
39 Burt Neuborne, “Totaling the sum of Swiss Guilt,” in New York Times (24 June 1998). Hearings
before the committee on Banking and Financial services, House of Representatives, 11 December
1996. “Holocaust-Konferenz in Stockholm,” in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (26 January 2000)
40 Independent commission of Experts, Switzerland – Second World war, Switzerland and Gold
Transactions in the Second World War, Interim Report (Bern: 1998).
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41 Hearings before the committee on Banking and Financial services, House of Representatives, 11
December 1996. Called as an expert witness, university of North Carolina historian Gerhard L.
Weinberg sanctimoniously testified that the “position of the Swiss Government at the time and m the
immediate postwar years was always that looting is legal,” and that “priority number one” of the Swiss
banks was “making as much money as possible . . . and to do so regardless of the legalities, morality
and decency or anything else.” (Hearings before the committee on Banking and Financial services,
House of Representatives, 25 June 1997)
42 Raymond W. Baker, “The Biggest Loophole in the Free-Market system,” in Washington Quarterly
(Autumn 1999). Although not sanctioned by US law, much of the $500 billion-$1 trillion annually
“laundered” from the drug trade is also “safely deposited into US banks.” (ibid.)
43 Ziegler, The Swiss, xii; cf. 19, 26s.
44 Switzerland and Gold Transactions in the Second World War, IV, 48.
45 Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, Report on Dormant Accounts of Victims of Nazi
Persecution in Swiss Banks (Bern 1999). (hereafter Report)
46 The “external cost” of the audit was put at $200 million. (Report, p. 4, paragraph 17) The cost to
the Swiss banks was put at another $300 million. (Swiss Federal Banking commission, press release, 6
December 1999)
47 Report, Annex s, p. 81, paragraph 1 (cf. Part I, pp. 1 3 – 1 5, paragraphs 41-9).
48 Report: Part I, p. 6, paragraph 22 (“no evidence”); Part I, p. 6, paragraph 23 (banking laws and
percentage); Annex 4, p. s8, paragraph s (“truly extraordinary”) and Annex s, p. 81, paragraph 3
(“truly remarkable”) (cf. Part I, p. 15, paragraph 47, Part I, p. 17, paragraph s8, Annex 7, p. 107,
paragraphs 3, 9)
49 “The Deceptions of Swiss Banks,” in New York Times (7 December 1999).
50 Report, Annex s, p. 81, paragraph 2. Report, Annex s, pp. 87 – 8, paragraph 27 “There are a variety
of explanations for the substantial under-reporting in the early surveys, but some of the main causes
can be attributed to the Swiss banks’ use of narrow definitions of ‘dormant’ accounts; their exclusion of
certain types of accounts from their searches or inadequate research; their failure to investigate
accounts under certain minimum balances; or their failure to consider account holders to be victims of
Nazi violence or persecution umless relatives made such claims at the bank.”
51 Repon, p. 10, paragraph 30 (“possible or probable”); p. 20, paragraphs 73-5(significant probability
for 25,000 accounts). Repon, Annex 4, pp. 65-7, paragraphs 20-6, and p. 72, paragraphs 40-3 (current
values). In accordance with the Repon recommendation, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission
agreed in March 2000 to publish the 25,000 account names. (“Swiss Federal Banking Commission
Follows Voleker Recommendations,” press release, 30 March 2000)
52 Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, House of Representatives, 9
February 2000 (quoted from Voleker’s prepared testimony). Compare the caveats entered by the Swiss
Federal Banking Commission that “all indications on possible current values of accounts identified are
essentially based on assumptions and projections,” and that “only in the case of about 1,200 accounts .
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. . has actual evidence be [sicl found, supported by contemporary in-house banking sources, that the
account owners were actually victims of the Holocaust.” (press release, 6 December 1999)
53 Repon, p. 2, paragraph 8 (cf. p. 23, paragraph 92). Report, Appendix S. p. A134; for a more precise
breakdown, cf. pp. A-135ff.
54 Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial services, House of Representatives, 25
June 1997 (quoted from Rubin’s prepared testimony). i For background, see Seymour J. Rubin and
Abba P. Schwartz, “Refugees and Reparations,” in Law and Contemporary Problems [Duke
University School of Law 1951], 286 – 9)
55 Hearings before the committee on Banking and Financial Services, House of Representatives, 25
June 1997.
56 Switzerland’s population stood at 4 million for the Relevant Period of 1933 – 45 as compared to the
US population of over 130 million. Every Swiss bank accoumt opened, closed or dormant during these
years was audited by the Volcker committee.
57 Levin, Last Deposit, 23. Bower, Nazi Gold, 256. Bower deems this Swiss demand “unanswerable
rhetoric.” Unanswerable no doubt, but why rhetoric?
58 Rickman, Swiss Banks, 194 – 5.
59 Bower, Nazi Gold, 350-1. Akiva Eldar, “UK: Israel Didn’t Hand Over Compensation to
Survivors,” in Haaretz (21 February 2000). Judy Dempsey, “Jews Find It Hard to Reclaim wartime
Property In Israel,” in Financial Times (1 April 2000). Jack Katzenell, “Israel Has WWII Assets,” in
Associated Press (13 April 2000). Joel Greenberg, “Hunt for Holocaust victims’ Property Turns in
New Direction: Toward Israel,” in New York Times (15 April 2000). Akiva Eldar, People and
Politics,” in Haaretz (27 April 2000).
60 For information on the Commission, see http://www.pcha.gov (Bronfman quoted from a 21 November
1999 commission press release).
61 Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial services, House of Representatives, 9
February 2000.
62 Levin, Last Deposit, 223, 204. “Swiss Defensive About WWII Role,” in Associated Press (15
March 2000). Time (24 February 1997) (Bronfman).
63 Levin, Last Deposit, 224.
64 Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial services, House of Representatives, 14
September 1999.
65 Yair Sheleg, “Not Even Minimum Wage,” in Haaretz (6 October 1999). William Drozdiak,
“Germans Up Offer to Nazis’ Slave Laborers,” in Washington Post (18 November 1999). Burt
Herman, “Nazi Labor Talks End Without Pact,” in Forward (20 November 1999). “Bayer’s Biggest
Headache,” in New York Times (5 October 1999). Jan Cienski, “Wartime Slave-Labour Survivors’ Ads
Hit Back,” in National Post (7 October 1999). Edmund L. Andrews, “Germans To Set Up $5.1 Billion
Fund For Nazis’ Slaves,” in New York Times (15 December 1999). Edmund L. Andrews, “Germany
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Accepts $5.1 billion Accord to End Claims of Nazi Slave Workers,” in New York Times (18 December
1999). Allan Hall, “Slave Labour List Names 255 German Companies,” in The Times (London) (9
December 1999). Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, House of
Representatives, 9 February 2000 (quoted from Eizenstat’s prepared testimony).
66 Sagi, German Reparations, 161. Probably a quarter of the Jewish slave laborers received such a
pension, my late father (an Auschwitz inmate) among them. In fact, the Claims Conference’s figure in
the current negotiations for Jewish slave laborers still alive is based on those already receiving
pensions and compensation from Germany! (German Parliament, 92nd session, 15 March 2000)
67 Zweig, German Reparations and the Jewish World, 98; cf. 25.
68 Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, “Position Paper — Slave Labor.
Proposed Remembrance and Responsibility Fund” ( 15 June 1999). Netty C. Gross, “$5.1-Billion
Slave Labor Deal Could Yield Little Cash For Jewish Claimants,” in Jerusalem Report (31 January
2000). zvi Lavi, “KIeiner (Herut) Germany Claims Conference Has Become Judenrat, Carrying on
Nazi ways,’, in Globes (24 February 2000). Yair Sheleg, “MK Kleiner The Claims Conference Does
Not Transfer Indemnifications to Shoah survivors,” in Haaretz (24 February 2000).
69 Hearings before the committee on Banking and Financial Services, House of Representatives, 9
February 2000. Yair Sheleg, “Staking a Claim to Jewish Claims,” in Haarerz (31 March 2000).
70 Henry Friedlander, “Darkness and Dawn in 1945 The Nazis, the Allies, and the Survivors,” in us
Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1945 — The Year of Liberation (Washington: 1995), 11-35.
Dinnerstein, America and the Surnvors of the Holocaust, 28. Israeli historian Shlomo Shafir reports
«the estimate of Jewish survivors at the end of the war in Europe vary from 50,000 to 70,000″
(Ambiguous Relations, 384nl). Friedlander’s total figure for surviving slave laborers, Jewish and
non-Jewish, is standard; see Benjamin Ferencz, Less Than Slaves (Cambridge: 1979) —
“approximately half a million persons were found more or less alive in the camps that were liberated
by the Allied armies” (xvii; cf. 240n5).
71 Stuart Eizenstat, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, Chief
US Envoy in German Slave-Labor Negotiations, State Department Briefing, 12 May 1999.
72 See Eizenstat’s “remarks” at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and
Austria Annual Meeting (New York: 14 July 1999).
73 Toby Axelrod, “$5.2 Billion Slave-Labor Deal Only the Start,” in Jewish Bulletin (12 December
1999; citing Jewish Telegraphic Agency).
74 Hilberg, The Destruction (1985), v. iii, Appendix B.
75 In an interview with Die Berliner Zeitung, I cast doubt on the Claims Conference’s 135,000 figure,
citing Friedlander. The Claims Conference curtly stated in its rebuttal that the 135,000 figure was
“based on the best and most trustworthy sources and is therefore correct.” Not one of these alleged
sources, however, was identified. (“Die Ausbeutung jüdischen Leidens,” in Berliner Zeitung, 29, 30
January 2000; “Gegendarstellung der Jewish Claims Conference,” in Berliner Zeitung, 1 February
2000) Replying to my criticisms in an interview with Der Tagesspiegel, the Claims Conference
maintained that some 700,000 Jewish slave laborers survived the war, 350,000-400,000 on the
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territory of the Reich and 300,000 in concentration camps elsewhere. Pressed to supply scholarly
sources, the Claims Conference indignantly refused. Suffice to say that these figures bear no
resemblance to any known scholarship on the topic. (Eva Schweitzer, “Entschaedigung für
Zwangsarbeiter,” in Tagesspiegel, 6 March 2000)
76 “Never before in history,” Hilberg has observed, “had people been killed on an assembly-line
basis.” (Destruction, v. iii, 863). The classic treatment of this topic is Zygmunt Bauman’s Modernity
and the Holocaust.
77 Guttenplan, “Holocaust on Trial.” (Hilberg) Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against
Germany, “Position Paper — Slave Labor,” 15 June 1999.
78 “We Condemn Syria’s Denial of the Holocaust,” in New York Times (9 February 2000). To
document “increased anti-Semitism” in Europe, David Harris of the AJC pointed to relatively strong
survey support for the statement that “Jews are exploiting the memory of the Nazi extermination of the
Jews for their own purposes.” He also adduced the “extremely negative way that some German papers
reported on the Jewish Claims Conference . . . during the recent negotiations over compensation for
slave and forced labor. Numerous stories depicted the Claims Conference itself and the mostly Jewish
lawyers as greedy and self-serving, and a bizarre discussion ensued in mainstream newspapers about
whether there are as many Jewish survivors as cited by the Claims Conference.” (Hearings before the
Foreign Relations committee, United States Senate, 5 April 2000) In fact, I found it nearly impossible
to raise this matter in Germany. Although the taboo was finally broken by the liberal German daily
Die Berliner Zeitung, the courage displayed by its editor, Martm Sueskind, and US correspondent,
Stefan Elfenbein, found only a faint echo in the German media, in large part owing to the legal threats
and moral blackmail of the Claims Conference as well as the general German reluctance to openly
criticize Jews.
79 Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, House of Representatives, 11
December 1996. J.D Bindenagel (ed.), Proceedings, Washington Conference on Holocaust-era Assets:
30 November – 3 December 1998 (US Government Printing Office: Washington, DC), 687, 700-1,
80 Hearings before International Relations committee, House of Representatives, 6 August 1998.
Bindenagel, Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, 433. Joan Gralia, “Poland Tries to Get
Holocaust Lawsuit Dismissed,” in Reuters (23 December 1999). Eric J. Greenberg, “Polish Restitution
Plan Slammed,” in Jewish Week (14 January 2000). “Poland Limits WWII Compensation Plan,” in
Newsday (6 January 2000).
81 Theo Garb et al. v. Republic of Poland (United States District Court, Eastern District of New York,
June 18,1999). (The class-action lawsuit was brought by Edward E. Klein and Mel Urbach, the latter a
veteran of the Swiss and German settlements. An “amended complaint” submitted on 2 March 2000
was joined by many more lawyers but omits some of the more colorful charges against the postwar
Polish governments.) “Dear Leads NYC Coumcil in Call to Polish Government to Make Restitution to
Victims of Holocaust Era Property Seizure,” in News From Council Member Noach Dear (29
November 1999). (The textual quote is from the actual resolution, No. 1072, adopted on 23 November
1999.) [Anthony D.] Weiner urges Polish Government To Repatriate Holocaust Claims,” US House of
Representatives (press release, 14 October 1999). (The textual quotes are from the press release and
actual letter, dated 13 October 1999.)
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82 Hearings before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, 23
April 1996.
83 Hearings before the International Relations Committee, House of Representatives, 6 August 1998.
84 Hearings before the International Relations Committee, House of Representatives, 6 August 1998.
Isabel Vincent, “Who Will Reap the Nazi-Era Reparations7” in National Post (20 February 1999).
85 Hearings before the International Relations committee, House of Representatives, 6 August 1998.
Currently an honorary vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, Eizenstat was the first
chairman of the AJC’s Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations.
86 Hearings before the International Relations committee, House of Representatives, 6 August 1998.
Marilyn Henry, “Whose Claim Is It Anyway7” in Jerusalem Post (4 July 1997). Bindenagel,
Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, 705. Editorial, “Jewish Property Belongs to Jews,”
in Haaretz (26 October 1999).
87 Sergio Karas, “Unsettled Accounts,” in Globe and Mail (1 September 1998). Stuart Eizenstat,
“Remarks,” Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and Austria Annual Meeting
(New York: 14 July 1999). Tom Sawicki, “6,000 Witnesses,” in Jerusalem Report (5 May 1994).
88 Bindenagel, Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, 146. Michael Arnold, “Israeli
Teens Frolic With Strippers After Auschwitz Visit,” in Forward (26 November 1999). Manhattan
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney proudly informed the House Banking Committee of a bill she
introduced, the Holocaust Education Act, which “will provide grants through the Department of
Education to Holocaust organizations for teacher training, and provide materials to schools and
communities that increase Holocaust education. Representing a city with a public school system
notoriously lacking basic teachers and textbooks, Maloney might have set different priorities for
scarce Department of Education funds. (Hearings before the Committee on Banking and Financial
Services, House of Representatives, 9 February 2000)
89 Zweig, German Reparations and the Jewish World, 118 Goldmann was founder of the World
Jewish Congress and the first president of the Claims Conference.
90 Marilyn Henry, “International Holocaust Education Conference Begins,” in Jerusalem Post (26
January 2000). Marilyn Henry, “PM We Have No Moral Obligation to Refugees,” in Jerusalem Post
(27 January 2000). Marilyn Henry, “Holocaust ‘Must Be Seared in Collective Memory,”‘ in Jerusalem
Post (30 January 2000).
91 Claims Conference, Guide to Compensation and Restitution of Holocaust Survivors (New York:
n.d.). Vincent, Hitler’s Silent Partners, 302 (“expropriation”); cf. 308-9. Ralf Eibl, “Die Jewish Claims
Conference rings um ihren Leumund. Nachkommen jüdischer Sklaven….,” in Die Welt (8 March
2000) (lawsuits). The Holocaust compensation industry is a taboo subject in the United States. The
H-Holocaust web site (www2.h-net.msu.edu), for example, barred critical postings even if fully
supported with documentary evidence (personal correspondence with board member Richard S. Levy,
19 – 21 November 1999).
92 Ilan Pappe, The Making of the Arab Israeli Conflict, 1947 – 51 (London: 1992), 268.
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93 Clinton Bailey, “Holocaust Funds to Palestinians May Meet Some Cost of Compensation,” in
Intemational Herald Tribune; reprinted in Jordan Times (20 June 1999).
94 Elli Wohlgelernter, “WJC: Austria Holding $10b. In Holocaust Victims’ Assets,” in Jerusalem
Post (14 March 2000). In his subsequent Congressional testimony, Singer highlighted the allegation
against Austria but — typically — maintained a discreet silence on the charges against the US.
(Hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee, United States Senate, 6 April 2000)
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It remains to consider the impact of The Holocaust in the United States. In doing so, I also want to
engage Peter Novick’s own critical remarks on the topic.
Apart from Holocaust memorials, fully seventeen states mandate or recommend Holocaust programs
in their schools, and many colleges and universities have endowed chairs in Holocaust studies. Hardly
a week passes without a major Holocaust-related story in the New York Times. The number of
scholarly studies devoted to the Nazi Final Solution is conservatively estimated at over 10,000.
Consider by comparison scholarship on the hecatomb in the Congo. Between l891 and 1911, some 10
million Africans perished in the course of Europe’s exploitation of Congolese ivory and rubber
resources. Yet, the first and only scholarly volume in English directly devoted to this topic was
published two years ago.1
Given the vast number of institutions and professionals dedicated to preserving its memory, The
Holocaust is by now firmly entrenched in American life. Novick expresses misgivings, however,
whether this is a good thing. In the first place, he cites numerous instances of its sheer vulgarization.
Indeed, one is hard-pressed to name a single political cause, whether it be pro-life or pro-choice,
animal rights or states’ rights, that hasn’t conscripted The Holocaust. Decrying the tawdry purposes to
which The Holocaust is put, Elie Wiesel declared, “I swear to avoid . . . vulgar spectacles.”2 Yet
Novick reports that “the most imaginative and subtle Holocaust photo op came in 1996 when Hillary
Clinton, then under heavy fire for various alleged misdeeds, appeared in the gallery of the House
during her husband’s (much televised) State of the Union Address, flanked by their daughter, Chelsea,
and Elie Wiesel.”3 For Hillary Clinton, Kosovo refugees put to flight by Serbia during the NATO
bombing recalled Holocaust scenes in Schindler’s List. “People who learn history from Spielberg
movies,” a Serbian dissident tartly rejoined, “should not tell us how to live our lives.”4
The “pretense that the Holocaust is an American memory,” Novick further argues, is a moral evasion.
It “leads to the shirking of those responsibilities that do belong to Americans as they confront their
past, their present, and their future.” (emphasis in original)5 He makes an important point. It is much
easier to deplore the crimes of others than to look at ourselves. It is also true, however, that were the
will there we could learn much about ourselves from the Nazi experience. Manifest Destiny
anticipated nearly all the ideological and programmatic elements of Hitler’s Lebensraum policy. In
fact, Hitler modeled his conquest of the East on the American conquest of the West.6 During the first
half of this century, a majority of American states enacted sterilization laws and tens of thousands of
Americans were involuntarily sterilized. The Nazis explicitly invoked this US precedent when they
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enacted their own sterilization laws.7 The notorious 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of the
franchise and forbade miscegenation between Jews and non-Jews. Blacks in the American South
suffered the same legal disabilities and were the object of much greater spontaneous and sanctioned
popular violence than the Jews in prewar Germany.8
To highlight unfolding crimes abroad, the US often summons memories of The Holocaust. The more
revealing point, however, is when the US invokes The Holocaust. Crimes of official enemies such as
the Khmer Rouge bloodbath in Cambodia, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait, and Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo recall The Holocaust; crimes in which the US is
complicit do not.
Just as the Khmer Rouge atrocities were unfolding in Cambodia, the US-backed Indonesian
government was slaughtering one-third of the population in East Timor. Yet unlike Cambodia, the
East Timor genocide did not rate comparison with The Holocaust; it didn’t even rate news coverage.9
Just as the Soviet Union was committing what the Simon Wiesenthal Center called “another genocide”
in Afghanistan, the US-backed regime in Guatemala was perpetrating what the Guatemalan Truth
Commission recently called a “genocide” against the indigenous Mayan population. President Reagan
dismissed the charges against the Guatemalan government as a “bum rap.” To honor Jeane
Kirkpatrick’s achievement as chief Reagan Administration apologist for the unfolding crimes in
Central America, the Simon Wiesenthal Center awarded her the Humanitarian of the Year Award.10
Simon Wiesenthal was privately beseeched before the award ceremony to reconsider. He refused. Elie
Wiesel was privately asked to intercede with the Israeli government, a main weapons supplier for the
Guatemalan butchers. He too refused. The Carter Administration invoked the memory of The
Holocaust as it sought haven for Vietnamese “boat people” fleeing the Communist regime. The
Clinton Administration forgot The Holocaust as it forced back Haitian “boat people” fleeing
US-supported death squads.11
Holocaust memory loomed large as the US-led NATO bombing of Serbia commenced in the spring of
1999. As we have seen, Daniel Goldhagen compared Serbian crimes against Kosovo with the Final
Solution and, at President Clinton’s bidding, Elie Wiesel journeyed to Kosovar refugee camps in
Macedonia and Albania. Already before Wiesel went to shed tears on cue for the Kosovars, however,
the US-backed Indonesian regime had resumed where it left off in the late 1970s, perpetrating new
massacres in East Timor. The Holocaust vanished from memory, however, as the Clinton
Administration acquiesced in the bloodletting. “Indonesia matters,” a Western diplomat explained,
“and East Timor doesn’t.”12
Novick points to passive US complicity in human disasters dissimilar in other respects yet comparable
in scale to the Nazi extermination. Recalling, for example, the million children killed in the Final
Solution, he observes that American presidents do little more than utter pieties as, worldwide, many
times that number of children “die of malnutrition and preventable diseases” every year.13 One might
also consider a pertinent case of active US complicity. After the United States-led coalition devastated
Iraq in 1991 to punish “Saddam-Hitler,” the United States and Britain forced murderous UN sanctions
on that hapless country in an attempt to depose him. As in the Nazi holocaust, a million children have
likely perished.14 Questioned on national television about the grisly death toll in Iraq, Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright replied that “the price is worth it.”
“The very extremity of the Holocaust,” Novick argues, “seriously limit[s] its capacity to provide
lessons applicable to our everyday world.” As the “benchmark of oppression and atrocity,” it tends to
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“trivializ[e] crimes of lesser magnitude.”15 Yet the Nazi holocaust can also sensitize us to these
injustices. Seen through the lens of Auschwitz, what previously was taken for granted — for example,
bigotry — no longer can be.16 In fact, it was the Nazi holocaust that discredited the scientific racism
that was so pervasive a feature of American intellectual life before World War II.17
For those committed to human betterment, a touchstone of evil does not preclude but rather invites
comparisons. Slavery occupied roughly the same place in the moral universe of the late nineteenth
century as the Nazi holocaust does today. Accordingly, it was often invoked to illuminate evils not
fully appreciated. John Stuart Mill compared the condition of women in that most hallowed Victorian
institution, the family, to slavery. He even ventured that in crucial respects it was worse. “I am far
from pretending that wives are in general no better treated than slaves; but no slave is a slave to the
same lengths, and in so full a sense of the word as a wife.”18 Only those using a benchmark evil not
as a moral compass but rather as an ideological club recoil at such analogies. “Do not compare” is the
mantra of moral blackmailers.19
Organized American Jewry has exploited the Nazi holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel’s and its own
morally indefensible policies. Pursuit of these policies has put Israel and American Jewry in a
structurally congruent position: the fates of both now dangle from a slender thread running to
American ruling elites. Should these elites ever decide that Israel is a liability or American Jewry
expendable, the thread may be cut. No doubt this is speculation — perhaps unduly alarmist, perhaps
Predicting the posture of American Jewish elites should these eventualities come to pass, however, is
child’s play. If Israel fell out of favor with the United States, many of those leaders who now stoutly
defend Israel would courageously divulge their disaffection from the Jewish state and would excoriate
American Jews for turning Israel into a religion. And if US ruling circles decided to scapegoat Jews,
we should not be surprised if American Jewish leaders acted exactly as their predecessors did during
the Nazi holocaust. “We didn’t figure that the Germans would put in the Jewish element,” Yitzhak
Zuckerman, an organizer of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, recalled, “that Jews would lead Jews to
During a series of public exchanges in the 1980s, many prominent German and non-German scholars
argued against “normalizing” the infamies of Nazism. The fear was that normalization would induce
moral complacency.21 However valid the argument may have been then, it no longer carries
conviction. The staggering dimensions of Hitler’s Final Solution are by now well known. And isn’t the
“normal” history of humankind replete with horrifying chapters of inhumanity? A crime need not be
aberrant to warrant atonement. The challenge today is to restore the Nazi holocaust as a rational
subject of inquiry. Only then can we really learn from it. The abnormality of the Nazi holocaust
springs not from the event itself but from the exploitive industry that has grown up around it. The
Holocaust industry has always been bankrupt. What remains is to openly declare it so. The time is
long past to put it out of business. The noblest gesture for those who perished is to preserve their
memory, learn from Their suffering and let them, finally, rest in peace.
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1 Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (Boston: 1998).
2 Wiesel, Against Silence, v. iii, 190; cf. v. i, 186, v. ii, 82, v. iii, 242, and Wiesel, And the Sea, 18.
3 Novick, The Holocaust, 230 – 1.
4 New York Times (25 May 1999).
5 Novick, The Holocaust, 15.
6 John Toland, Adolf Hitler (New York: 1976), 702. Joachim Fest, Hitler (New York 1975),214,650.
see also Finkelstein, Image and Reality, chap. 4.
7 See, for example, Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection (Oxford 1994).
8 see, for example, Leon F. Litwack, Trouble in Mind (New York: 1998), esp. chaps 5-6. The vaunted
western tradition is deeply implicated in Nazism as well. To justify the extermination of the
handicapped — the precursor of the Final Solution — Nazi doctors deployed the concept “life
unworthy of life” (lebensunwertes Leben). In Gorgias, Plato wrote “I can’t see that life is worth living
if a person’s body is in a terrible state.” In The Republic, Plato sanctioned the murder of defective
children. On a related point, Hitler’s opposition in Mein Kampf to birth control on the ground that it
preempts natural selection was prefigured by Rousseau in his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality.
Shortly after World war II, Hannah Arendt reflected that “the subterranean stream of western history
has finally come to the surface and usurped the dignity of our tradition” (Origins of Totalitarianism,
9 See, for example, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, The Political Economy of Human Rights, v.
i: The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston 1979), 129 – 204.
10 Response (March 1983 and January 1986).
11 Noam Chomsky, Turning the Tide (Boston: 1985), 36 (Wiesel cited from interview in the Hebrew
press). Berenbaum, World Must Know, 3.
12 Financial Times (8 September 1999).
13 Novick, The Holocaust, 255.
14 See, for example, Geoff Simons, The Scourging of Iraq (New York: 1998).
15 Novick, The Holocaust, 244, 14.
16 On this point, see esp. Chaumont, La concurrence, 316 18.
17 See, for example, Carl N. Degler, In Search of Human Nature (Oxford: 1991), 202ff.
18 John Stuart Mill, On the Subjection of Women (Cambridge: 1991), 148.
19 It is no less repugnant to compare the Nazi holocaust, as Michael Berenbaum proposes, only in
order to “demonstrate the claim of uniqueness” (After Tragedy, 29).
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20 Zuckerman, A Surplus of Memory, 210.
21 I refer here both to the Historikerstreit and to the published correspondence between Saul
Friedländer and Martin Broszat. In both instances, the debate largely turned on the absolute versus
relative nature of Nazi crimes; for example, the validity of comparisons with the Gulag. See Peter
Baldwin (ed.), Reworking the Past, Richard J Evans, In Hitler’s Shadow (New York 1989), James
Knowlton and Truett Cates, Forever in the Shadow of Hitler? (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: 1993), and
Aharon Weiss (ed.), Yad Vashem Studies XIX Jerusalem: 1988)
# # # #
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Letters to Finkelstein
[Note: at the request of the authors some of the names have been changed or edited]
[Updated: 9 November 2000. New letters are at the bottom]
To: < info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2000 13:02:12 +0200
I “spent” 4 years in various Concentration Camps.
Everything you wrote about “The Holocaust Industry” is nothing but true.
R. G
Tel Aviv
Dear Mr. Finkelstein,
Recently, I have read your book “Holocaust Industry” with great interest. I would like to thank you for the courage
and truthfulness in your writing.
As a Polish-Catholic survivor of the German-Nazi occupation in Poland, I have a special reason to be interested in
literature on the subject. I owe it to the memory of my late mother who risked her life and mine when hiding,
adopting and saving a Jewish girl in Czestochowa. We were fortunate and lucky to succeed in helping the Jewish
family to reunite in 1945 when her parents survived the labor camp in Czestochowa (probably the same which
your mother experienced).
I am totally disgusted by the immorality in the cases of “the Holocaust industry.” I consider your book to be
fundamental for turning over the flood of shameful, greed motivated actions. The book should be recommended
as an educational reading in schools and universities.
Please accept my best wishes,
Karol Pelc
P. S. I can also suggest to your readers two journal publications related to the same subject:
(1) The New York Times’ article “Lawyer in Holocaust Case Faces Litany of Complaints”, NYT September 8,
2000. It is available on the Web at the following address:
(2) The Atlantic Monthly’s short story “The Third Generation” by Tova
Reich, The Atlantic Monthly, March 2000. It is available on the Web at the
following address: http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/03/reich.htm.
16th September 2000
Bernard Szmekura
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Dear Prof. Norman Finkelstein
I am the son of Jewish Holocaust Victim survivors. I have fought very hard to claim reparations for my Parents
over the years and have had very little success. My parent’s history is well documented in The Lowicz Memorial
Yiskor Book and is well known amongst a few surviving Holocaust Survivors living in Melbourne Australia. I can
prove that the Holocaust Claims Mechanism is a massive Fraud especially in Australia.
It is my understanding that six million of the seven million European Jews were murdered by the Nazi’s and that
some where in the order of 275,000 Jews actually survived as Victim/Survivors. Of this 275,000 approximately
175,000 were liberated from the camps. As of this year it is estimated that around 80% of the victim /survivors
have passed away. This would leave about 55,000 victim survivors and approximately and approximately 35,000
left of those liberated from camps. Furthermore in Australia there were about 10,000 Holocaust Victim/survivors
settling here by 1950 and 80% have passed away leaving approximately 2,000. A Prof. Colin Rubinstein quotes
larger figures but they are unsubstantiated and other than there are no official figures other that shipping lists
during the Post Holocaust period which are now being assessed.
It is not difficult to estimate that such large numbers of actual Holocaust Victim/Survivors have now passed
away some 55 years after being liberated as they suffered enormous Physical damage under the Nazi regime and
there lifespan would have been significantly reduced.
In 1999 $AU4,000,000 (four million Australian Dollars ) was distributed to Holocaust Victims in critical financial
Hardship and they received $AU1000 each this means that 4000 individuals claim to be not only Holocaust
Survivors but in Financial Hardship. Considering there were 4 Million claims made Worldwide under the German
Restitution Legislation (B.E.G.) by 1953 this means that most Victim / Survivors claimed the Lump Sum and Life
Pension. Assuming that 80% were successful this means that the actual estimated Holocaust Victims in Australia
received this compensation. It is clear that many So Called Russian “Jews” who claim they survived the
Holocaust, have made fraudulent claims. The whole process has not been available for Public audit.
This means one can safely assume that there would have been only 400 Holocaust Victim Survivors without
B.E.G. German pensions in Australia. Since the German Slave Labour Settlement was announced no less than
30,000 claims have been made in Australia. This is a total impossibility as of the 2000 Holocaust Victim /Survivors
only a few Hundred actually liberated from Concentration Camps/ Ghettos and situations where they could have
been in Slave Labour. I have been told that the Washington Holocaust Museum has been awaiting Official
of true numbers of Holocaust Numbers in Australia for years.
The Solicitor handling such Slave Labour Claims is Mr Henry Byrstiner in Australia and he is working with Ed
Fagan in the USA. He a $50 fee for each application for each claim then a further few hundred dollars if the
are successful. I understand that Mr Ed Fagan is Claiming $US4,000,000 (four million USA dollars for his work)
and I would safely assume that Mr Byrstiner is getting his share. I have spoken to Mr Burtsyner and had much
feedback of others that dealt with him and. Both the feed back and my own experience are that he is not very
sympathetic unless you have money.
It is time that databases be set up of all B.E.G. claimants, Article 2 Claims Conference Claimants and all other
claimants and compared with databases of actual Holocaust Victim/Survivors. I believe that some International
Jewish Authorities prevented the Public Databasing of Lists of Holocaust Survivors by The Church of Latter Day
Saints for Religious reasons. I note that there is no other public Access Database system that took its place.
Searching for lost victims of the Holocaust through the Red Cross is very difficult.
Many Jews that claim to be survivors were the Wealthy Jews of Europe that were financially mobile enough to
flee the Nazi’s and whilst I respect the definition of Holocaust Survivor and comprehend their financial loss in
escaping the Nazi’s. The real Victims are those who actually caught under Nazi Occupation and were brutalised
and incarcerated. Those who suffered direct Nazi brutalization had their lifespans significantly reduced in the
main. It is of some bitter relief that a few other fellow Jews understand this great Fraud that has taken place
against the real and actual victim Survivors of the Holocaust.
I quite often meet Jews in Australia who claim that their parents went through the Holocaust and all of them are
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extremely wealthy. It is quite remarkable that whilst both my parents suffered incarceration in the Death camps
and Ghettos and lost all their direct and indirect family in the Holocaust (some 120 in all) that they were never
ever invited to commemoration of the Holocaust. In fact the Melbourne Holocaust Memorial Centre was set up in
1987 a year after my Father’s passing. It is very clear to me that nearly all Australian Jews are too ready to Claim
some sort of Kudos as being connected to the Holocaust as most Sympathetic Non-Jews in Australia have no
idea who is who. Even the Accounts and records of the Gestapo Crimes salvaged by my father’s friend, Mr
Gedaliah Shaiak, have mysterially disappeared. You can find a reference to Mr Shaiak in the 1965 “Who’s who in
World Jewry” but there is no mention of him in the Australian Holocaust Exhibitions.
I am now quite certain that thousands of Nazi’s sought refuge in Australia in the Post War period and some of
them came here with the Identities of their Jewish Victims. The published account of Australia being a “Safe
Haven” for Nazis and the Gestapo claims that The Australian Jewish Community backed down from taking action
against the Australian Government because of threat that Foreign Aid to Israel would be cut, this is not true. The
Australian Jewish Community is a total Farce. The overwhelming majority 35,000 Jews in Australia in 1945 where
hostile toward the influx of Eastern European Holocaust Jewry, unless they had large huge amounts of wealth on
entry. One must be suspect about that particular group of Holocaust survivors that entered Australia with their
wealth largely intact.
I feel rather isolated now from the Jewish Community as I have met most of them and they do not possess the
Human Qualities one would expect from descendants and/or a community that has suffered such a great Human
Tragedy such as the Holocaust.
The truth marches on and we must expose the great post Holocaust Tragedy.
Yours Sincerely
Bernard Szmekura
From: patron <nobody@lib.uchicago.edu>
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: (no subject)
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 13:00:18 -0500
You and your family are a truly loathsome set of human beings. The only
resurgance of anti -Semitism comes as a result of books like yours, not
from attempta to combat your Nazi apologetics. Spare us the crap about
your family “survivors”; IF that is really true, perhaps that is one set
that we could have done without as at least you would not have been
born. The next time any Jew in the world is physically attacked or
killed for being Jewish-whether in Iran, Crown Heights or West Ridge,
Chicago- we will hold YOU responsible for inspiring the deed. You had
better watch your back, we know where you work, we know where you live
and would be overjoyed to send you to a well-earned and bloody demise.
From: David Pavett <david@pavett.demon.co.uk>
To: “‘info@normanfinkelstein.com'” <info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: Thanks
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 21:44:47 +0100
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
I have just finished your book on the Holocaust industry. My attention
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was drawn to it by the interview that you gave to the British Channel 4 News.
While waiting for the book to arrive I read the comments on the book
(mostly negative) in the press.
Now I have read it all I can say is that those writing the criticisms
were clearly prepared to do so without waiting for their copy to arrive. Apart
from all the usual abuse, specific comments were made
(that you think you are the first person to make these points, that you should
have referred to the writings of Novick etc., etc.) which prove that the
reviewers had not read the book.
Well, now I have read it. I found it disturbing, difficult, startling and
I am not Jewish but I have always been interested in Jewish culture and
was brought up by old-time communist parents to think of racism, of which
the most outstanding example immediately to hand for someone born as I was
in 1941 was anti-Jewish racism, as a scourge of mankind.
I have therefore been saddened to see the role played by the government
of Israel and by leading Jewish organisations on various issues. In
particular I dislike the tendancy to treat any criticism of Israel of the activities
of Jewish organisations as proof of anti-Jewish racism. I often read the
London Jewish News which I pick up at my local supermarket. It is quite a
good community paper but on such matters is is appaling. When I have
tried to question their dismissal of criticism of Israel by Jews by abuse
rather than by argument they simply don’t reply.
After reading your book I understand these things much more clearly. I
was particularly interested in your point about the money of Holocaust
victims in American banks.
Above all I can now make sense out of things which before puzzled me. I
fear that the grip of the Holocaust industry is such, even on a fairly
independent minded person such as myself, that I would not have dared to
hypothesize some of the solutions which you demonstrate to be matters of
Once again, thanks.
I shall now go on to read some or your other books.
Yours sincerely
David Pavett
From: Dosege@cs.com
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Congratulations!
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 01:17:41 EDT
Dear Prof. Finkelstein!
I could not put it down. Just stopped reading it…The Holocaust Industry.
Coincidentally I had just finished reading “The Holocaust in American Life”
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and this is where I want to direct my question. David Novik mentions that
Simon Wiesenthal just made up the figure of 5 million non-Jews who perished
in the holocaust. I have been trying to find a book by a reputable scholar
about these non-Jewish victims. I tried the web and could not find
anything. Do you have any recommendations? I would appreciate it.
I will also check your web site later.
I have a lot of admiration for you and your courage. Along with Noam
Chomsky you have become one of my favorite scholars.
Although I am not a scholar, I have been a peace activist for about 14
years, since I became a US citizen. I am post W.W.II German born and raised,
worked for the AFSC as a volunteer in their Middle East Program and aside from
carrying the guilt of being a German, I am intensely interested in Holocaust
and Middle East scholarship, but only from trustworthy authors. I have
read Raul Hilberg’s books and several others you mentioned in your bibliography.
I am also interested in the non-Jewish victims.
Thank you for your help and keep up the great work!
Dorothea Sege
From: Whitman Symmes <goyamx@yahoo.com>
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Congratulations!
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 14:37:46 -0700 (PDT)
Dear Prof. Finkelstein:
You stand out like a beacon in noxious smoke.
Your integrity and objective perceptions are
superbly humanitarian.
I will continue to follow your output.
Whitman Symmes
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Support
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2000 14:31:19 +0300
Dear Sir
A brief message – I saw your recent BBC interview on ‘Hardtalk’ and would
just like to congratulate you on your handling of the interview. You were
scrupulously fair and more than answered the rather generic and facile
questions that were put to you.
I’ve spent the last ten working years of my life in and around the
middle-east (including two years working in the West Bank and Gaza strip)
and have seen at first hand what the distorting mirror of the holocaust
industry has done to the region. It is an immense relief that someone has
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finally spoken so clearly and sanely on the whole subject.
It is unfortunate that you have had to (and doubtless will continue to
be) vilified for attempting the painful process of telling the truth. Please
be assured that there are many people who welcome and appreciate the work
you are doing (not incidentally – right wing anti-Semites as some would prefer).
Please don’t despair – it is a part of history that on both a moral and
political level must be revised.
With very best wishes
Alan Smart
From: “Serge E. Grynkewich, II” <kingbaby@zpdee.net>
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: The Holocaust Industry
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2000 18:05:06 +0800
Dear Sir:
I tend to agree with your assessment that the holocaust has been turned
into an “industry” by certain groups. And this is, indeed, sad and a
disgrace to the memory of all those who suffered during the holocaust
Living in Asia, as I do, there is little ever said or done about what
happened here during the holocaust era. So much attention and money
havebeen paid to one group that quite unfairly the suffering of many asian
peoples has gone virtually unnoticed. Atrocities were carried out here,
but very little has been written about them and much less done to
address the issue.
I support your efforts in giving a more balanced treatment to the entire
issue and to change it from an “industry” to something more encompassing
and educational for all concerned.
I also am concerned that should the holocaust “industry” continue, the day
will come when people tire and grow angry at the fact of just one group
deriving financial benefit from what happened. Then the risk of facing
another holocaust becomes even more real.
Serge Grynkewich
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Alone no longer
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2000 20:04:07 -0400
Have no idea who reads this but I am reading The Holocaust Industry
and it’s like listening to myself speak with an index to history.
I have found living here in New York very unsettling. I am Jewish but
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secular. I used to be happy to identify myself as Jewish until I
married into a world of crazy, foul racism.
My wife L.R. and I (P. N.) have felt marginalized by the
hysteria of New York Jewish culture. The bent finger stabbing out
insults about blacks and Arabs. “We never had any hand outs!”
Watching Hillary, Lazio rush to see who can cause a serious conflict in
the Middle east is dismaying to say the least.
This will not work out well for American Imperial interests. It will
solidify European anti American feeling, speed up the integration of
the EU as a force and result in boycotts and bombs of American business.
Americans have no idea how much their country (nothing personal) is
hated. Though no one has any fantasies about Arafat, we Europeans hate
the way Israel is allowed to get away with murder. The only other
country that has America’s blessing in genocide is Turkey a friend and
ally of Israel and America.
Also if American Jews think Arafat is going to use his armed police
force as an army they will be sorely disappointed. No, instead the
world will have images of armed Israeli settler and troops machine gunning
Arab stone throwers.
I have never felt so ashamed and angry. I hate this know nothing
attitude. As you are aware trying to engage Upper West Side Jews in a
logical argument is impossible.
Bring up American slavery and my ADL committee mother-in-law tells me
how much worse the black would be if they stayed in Africa. Then trying
to discuss compensation for segregation and slavery and I get a lecture
about Jews being slaves in Egypt. “What about the Jews!”
As another friend once told an English friend of mine; “what have the
blacks ever given to American culture?” Bill Clinton’s stance with Arafat,
sounds just like America 1860.
Well, that’s my life. So thanks for the book.
P. N.
P.S. My grandfather went to hear Hitler speak. He wanted to know. When
I tell this story to my wife’s relatives here they simply think of him as
being stupid. Fact is in England there was no way of knowing what
Hitler really planned. Grandpa caught the next train from Nuremberg to Berlin
to persuade his family to leave. That part of the family disappeared.
I think I honor him by always testing the truth and listening to my
From: “Paul” <pauljohnson@mountsett.freeserve.co.uk>
To: <info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: new book
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 22:45:52 +0100
dear norman,
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just a short note. you don’t know me but i have just finished reading
your new book. i have to say that it is one of the most thoughtful and
elegant books i have read in a long while. it really made me question my own
views on anti-semitism, the holocaust, and neo-nazism. i entirely agree with
your argument and think that the book is of great value.
with all best wishes,
paul johnson
department of sociology and social policy
university of newcastle
newcastle upon tyne
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Truth is the work of every intellectual
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2000 22:26:06 -0500
You must get some hate mail, ….. but as for me and my house,
we love anyone who seeks the truth. When I think of the Trail of
Tears and the “great man” on the $20 bill, or Mount Rushmore and the treaty
of 1868 between the Lakotah Nation and our own government, I am glad
there are those who speak the truth as they see it. Keep the faith. The
greatest enemy of Israel are those Jews with no morality whatsoever.
From: A.E. Quarles van Ufford
To: Norman Finkelstein
Concerns: The Holocaust Industry
Date: The Hague/Netherlands, August 5th 2000
Dear Mr. Finkelstein,
I greatly appreciate your taking of your responsibility as a Jew to tell the truth. Jezus Christ was also a Jew and
we all know how he was treated by his own people! The same feeling of irritation also strikes me when the Dutch
press approve of the “New Version”of the Holocaust-story. I was very shocked when Yasser Arafat on visiting the
Netherlands was shown Ann Frank’s home. It was an incredible stupidity. I am so glad when I see him beaming
on pictures of late. Something is changing for the poor Palestinians for the better.
The tragedy of the Jewish people consists of their being “Gods people”. It has brought them blessings, but alas
also distress.
Stay loyal to your principles of objective science. After all it is what science ought to be! You show as much
courage as a soldier in the field, when you dare to oppose public opinion. I can advise you to read “Profiles in
courage” written by John F. Kennedy who admired moral courage as much as I and you do! Very often politics
and science look much alike! Time will bring justice!
Yours truly,
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A.E. Quarles van Ufford
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Re: The Critical Reception of “The Holocaust Industry”
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2000 16:36:43 -0500
Professor Finkelstein,
I’ll be buying your book shortly. I read the review in the “New York
Times Book Review” which called to mind a quote of Schopenhauer’s:
All truth goes through three steps:
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as self-evident.
I look forward to reading your book in entirety.
Thank you for having the courage to challenge the conventional wisdom.
[name withheld at request of the author]
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 00:50:43 +0100
Dear Norman
thought you might be interested in seeing this note I sent in response
to a query from Jack [not his real name] because his is probably a typical
response to the NYTimes book review. My response of course is just my own
words but you know my view fundamentally jives with yours on this matter. After
the line comes the relevant part of Jack’s note, then my reply to him:
At 10:07 09-08-2000 -0400, you wrote:
Steve–Opened up my NYTimes on Sunday and found a review of Norman’s
book, “The Holocaust Industry” in the Book Review. Would you like a
copy of the review? Haven’t read the book, but based on what the reviewer
says, I think Norman is living on the same planet as those who say the
Holocaust never happened!!!
Hi Jack
Norman is not a Holocaust denier. He does however believe that the story
of the holocaust has been illegitimately used and manipulated in the recent
past for purposes other than educational, humanistic and ethical.
Primarily,the Holocaust story has transformed into a one-sided justification for
the Zionist project to expand Israel at the expense of Palestinian human and
national rights. You see, if you treat the Jewish Holocaust by the Nazis
as a uniquely unique event in modern history you attribute a moral
superiority to the current jewish people and the powers that speak in its name, that
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is, the Israeli state, the pro-Zionist Jewish lobbies in the US, Jewish
organizations. To the extent that such a perspective becomes convincing
and hegemonic it tends to over-ride the claims of a people oppressed by the
Israeli state to their human and national rights. Palestinian claims are
made to be seen as chicken feed in comparison to the unique devastation
of European Jewry. Now the near liquidation of European Jewry was massive
and tragic but it was NOT unique. Norman talks about other genocides in his
book. For example, you may not be aware of the hundreds of thousands of
Gypsies were also murdered by the Nazis. Although anti-semitism was core to
Nazi ideology and politics, the memory of the murdered Jews is no more holy
(and I would add – if I were not an atheist but as someone raised as a
religious Jew – before the Jewish God) than that of the murdered Gypsies. Have you
any idea of how many Chinese were slaughtered by the Japanese in their
invasion of China – long before the start of the Final Solution (200,000 just in
a few days in Nanking! multiply that by four years and you get a lot more
than 6 million). Norman also refers to slavery and the genocide of Native
Americans, etc.
Actually I read the review since my parents sent it to me. I don’t think
the reviewer was completely fair to Norman. It’s NOT to be expected. Norman
has taken a BIG risk to criticize the SUCCESSFUL mythologizing and
ideologizing of the Shoah by forces which over the last 3 decades have achieved a
record-breaking contribution of the USA for the existence of the Israeli
military industrial complex and Zionist colonialism. (From among these
forces are the owners and editors of the NYTimes as well as the most
influential elements in the Clinton administration! That’s just fact.)
From the defense of Israel in 1973, to the campaign to undermine the Soviet
Union and over-populate Israel through the transfer of Soviet Jewry, through
the devastation of Lebanon, through the settlements which have involved the
immoral expropriation of Palestinian Arabs from their land against all
accepted conventions of occupation, to the so-called “Peace Process”
which seeks to limit a Palestinian state to what in South Africa were called
“Bantustans”. These are all campaigns which require a convincing
justification through a “white-washing” myth. It is the irony of history
and a shame that the Shoah has served as such a legitimatory myth.
i suppose you’re having a pretty hot summer. how did London go?
Subj: Holocaust Industry
Date: 8/11/00 1:17:03 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: RenoDeCaro
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Dear Professor Finkelstein:
I have included below a review of your courageous book, The Holocaust Industry
, which I have just sent to Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Amazon.uk. I hope I
have done justice to you and your important book.
Reno de Caro
The thrust of Professor Finkelstein’s unsettling book is that powerful
interests (Israel and Jewish organizations in America) have hijacked what has
become known as the holocaust. And while Israel has exploited the holocaust
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as a weapon to deflect criticism, regardless how justified, American Jewish
organizations have used the plight of supposedly needy survivors to extort
staggering sums of money from the rest of the world. This was done not for
the benefit of survivors, but for the financial advantage of these
There are no conclusions reached in Professor Finkelstein’s book that a
careful reader of daily newspapers could not have reached, assuming the
reader could read between the lines and base his judgment on evidence and
common sense rather than the politically correct slant of the media reporting.
Finkelstein has infuriated his critics not by ranting or raving or
misrepresenting the evidence, as they have accused him, but by painstakingly
supporting his arguments with irrefutable documentation. The first line of
defense of the mass media in America, one of the holocaust industry’s most
effective and compliant tools (second only to the Clinton administration),
was to pretend Finkelstein’s book did not exist. Once this tactic became
ineffective due to an outpouring of Internet exposure, the mass media
launched scathing attacks on the author and his book. Read the New York
Times book review for one such “hit piece” and compare that review with your
own reading of the book. Naturally, reading the book is something the review
is designed to discourage.
A zealous supporter of the holocaust industry, Professor Zweig from Tel Aviv,
posted a negative “one star” review of Dr. Finkelstein’s book on Amazon.com
before the book was even available to the American public (July 19). This was
no doubt a preemptive Internet strike to discourage potential readers without
giving the book the publicity even a negative not-.com media review would
have had. After Finkelstein was invited for a radio interview in the U.S.,
the holocaust industry enlisted Professor Zweig, who they doubtless consider
a “heavy hitter,” to put the heretic Finkelstein in his place. An
alternative explanation would be that Professor Zweig was given an
opportunity to do penance and rehabilitate himself by debunking Finkelstein
on the airwaves after it was discovered that the latter had cited information
in Zweig’s own book which blackens the holocaust industry.
In the ensuing debate, the best Zweig could do was claim that Finkelstein had
taken statements made in his book out of context. This is the standard
damage control employed by any public figure who said or wrote something he
subsequently discovered was not in his best interest.
The bottom line of Finkelstein’s book is that it says what was very long
overdue to be said. But few academics have the courage or intellectual
fortitude to weather the defamation campaign that will predictably descend on
anyone who challenges this multi -billion dollar industry. Historically
speaking, it has seldom been the politically correct Professor Zweigs of a
given time that brought us closer to the truth, but the defiant and
much-maligned “heretics” such as Norman Finkelstein.
I recommend the advice Nietzsche gave his readers 130 years ago: “If you want
to know something about a book or its author, read what HE wrote rather than
what his critics or enemies say about him.” In addition to reading the book,
I highly recommend listening to the radio debate between Professor
Finkelstein and Professor Zweig, the holocaust industry’s first choice to
represent their side in the controversy. From the debate it becomes clear
that Professor Finkelstein is extremely comfortable when dealing with the
charges leveled against him by his detractors. He refutes them calmly and
convincingly. No wonder the spokespersons for the holocaust industry prefer
writing unopposed “hit pieces” like the New York Times review over
challenging Professor Finkelstein directly.
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To: info <info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: Review of The holocaust Indusry
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 19:19:06 +0100
Dear Dr Finkelstein,
I read your book, The Holocaust Industry and have followed the
responses to its publication in the press (both in America and in the UK). It is an
insightful and interesting book on a topic which is certainly painful or
embarrassing for many people. However, I would like to take this
opportunity of voicing my admiration for your book and the honesty of
your pursuit.
Best wishes,
From: “niallmcnamara” <niallmcnamara@tinet.ie>
To: <info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: Your writings
Date: Sun, 13 Aug 2000 08:00:12 -0700
Dear Professor Finkelstein,
I have always read your books and articles because of the fairness and
perspective you bring to your intellectual and very readable writings.
Your recent book, is very relevant to society as it deals with corporations
over people. You clearly believe that the money collected for victims of
Nazism is actually due to those who were persecuted and suffered. “The
Holocaust industry” (HI) as you elaborate with acuity and skill, serves the
interests of those who want to gain money from the suffering of the European
Jews and to serve Israel’s political interests.
Its objectionable to witness some of the unkind attacks on you by
certain critics. George Bernard Shaw once observed that: “If you put an
Irishman on a spit, you will get an other Irishman to turn it.” (As you guess
I am Irish). Sadly, your co-religionists who profit by the HI have put you
on a spit. However, both you and Professor Chomsky are far greater human
beings and intellectuals than any number of your critics. And you both have a
wonderful sense of fair play that being left of the centre brings to any
discussion. Neither of you will get positions from the US government –
unlike your critics – but you represent the voice of idealism in a
worldwhere idealism has little enough voice.
Kindest regards,
Niall McNamara,
Dublin, Ireland.
From: Patron <nobody@lib.uchicago.edu>
Reply-To: nobody@lib.uchicago.edu
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
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Subject: (no subject)
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 14:11:34 -0500
Did you notice the article praising your book by Taki in the right-wing
hate site Frontpagemag.com (edited by David Horowitz)? This was
reprinted from the New York Press. Of course, He links this to his own
racist objections to reparations for African Americans and attack on
Brent Staples. Something tells me that you wont be spotlighting THIS
review. Nice company you keep, Normie! (add on David Irving- whose work
you praise- etc).
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
On behalf of my father, Coen Schutte, born in Amsterdam in 1924, I hereby send you a translation of the ‘letter to
the editor’ which he sent to the Netherlands newspaper ‘NRC Handelsblad’ which publicised an interview with you
regarding the publication of your book ‘The Holocaust Industry’ , as well as to the Dutch periodical ‘Vrij Nederland’
which has been quoting from several of your publications and has recently been conducting a number of feature
articles with several spokespeople and individuals regarding the refunding of, and the compensation and
damages for Jewish funds that were appropriated by Dutch financial institutions during the German occupation of
The Netherlands in the Second World War.
I think the contents of my fathers letter is self-explanatory. I have only provided a direct translation of his original
Dutch text, but maybe I should clarify some of the specific historical facts and backgrounds that are mentioned,
since some of those are not quite known outside The Netherlands:
In February 1941, less than a year after the German invasion, literally he whole city of Amsterdam, from the public
transportation service to the stock exchange, went into a massive two-day strike against the repression by the
Nazi’s of the local jewish population. This strike was initialised after several pogroms by the Germans and their
Netherlands collaborators on jewish people and their property and can be considered as one of the very first
structural resistance acts in the German occupied territories.
This uprising caused the German occupation authorities to speed up their initial plan to implement the structure of
a Jewish Council in Amsterdam. This process was actually helped by several leaders of the local Jewish upperclass,
who were worried about their own position after the strike, the Germans were already known for their
propensity to take reprisals at the time, as well as over the fact that they were loosing their grip and influence over
their own people. Due to several demographic, cultural and social circumstances, the jews of Amsterdam had
assimilated over the years into the local population at a far greater rate than in the rest of the European cities. The
fact that my father, who lived in a working class area had so many jewish friends and neighbours is probably the
best evidence of this assimilation.
The general role this Jewish Council, as well as the personal active involvement of its members in the registration
of the jewish inhabitants and the drafting of the lists of people to be deported to the Nazi death camps, has been
evidenced and heavily criticised over the years by several historians, but has never lead to any legal actions
taken against its members.
In his letter, my father mentions the book of the author Hans Knoop; another book which entails a detailed
description of the holocaust of the Dutch jews and the active involvement of the Jewish Council is the study
‘Ondergang’ by Professor Dr. J.J. Presser. I’m afraid, however, that to the best of our knowledge none of these
publications have ever been translated in English.
In case you may have any questions or remarks, please feel free to contact my father directly on the address he
mentions in his letter, or through my personal e-mail. My father is quite willing to give you any additional
information you may require or answer any questions you may have.
With most kindest regards,
Hildo Schutte
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
It also fills me with anger, to see that yet another committee has appointed itself as ‘the true representative of the
Jewish community’ and has started another dance around the golden calf.
In my opinion, those who pretended to be the representatives of the Jewish people in The Netherlands during the
Second World War, the so-called ‘Jewish Council’, should have been brought in front of a court of law to be held
responsible for their actions many years ago.
But now, again, I see those same kind of smug faces in the news.
Whatever happened to my childhood friends ?
Brammetje IJzerman, Gerrie Trompetter, my junior high school sweetheart, Lettie Jacobs? Where is Elie Toff,
worked for the International Red Aid and helped to hide German political refugees in The Netherlands, years
before the Nazi invasion of 1940 ? What happened to our next-door neighbour Mr Berlijn ?
They were gassed, lead to the slaughter because they put their faith into these so-called ‘Representatives of the
Dutch jewish community’.
“Communism is far more dangerous for the jews than National Socialism”, was a public statement of rabbi
Loterijman in the early thirties: “Communism only divides the Jewish people, while National Socialism helps to
unify them…..”
Well, we most certainly found out what he meant by that.
“They’re our own kind of people, that Jewish Council” said father IJzerman to me at the time. He was one of the
first who was put on the deportation lists, because the upper-class didn’t want another rising against the
Germans, after the massive protest strikes in February 1941.
One of the most striking conclusions drawn by the jewish author Hans Knoop in his study of the conduct of the
Jewish Council was that the jewish upper-classes in order to survive, were prepared to sacrifice their own lowerclasses.
Personally, I still wonder how on earth Cohen, a leading member of the Jewish Council, was able to live
with the fact that he replaced the name of a relative destined for deportation with the name of an arbitrary other
jew. But maybe I’m wrong: In those circles the general attitude seemed to be: “Why worry about the riff-raff ?”.
That “riff-raff”, the jewish lower -classes, were the first who were sacrificed to the Nazi’s. They didn’t have any
bank accounts or any share portfolios; the furniture of their homes were their only earthly possessions. For them
there will be no compensation or damages, because they are no longer with us. They were betrayed and sold out
by their own self-appointed representatives who were merely trying to save their own skins.
I still carry a torch for those who I’ve known and who saw through this hideous game: Jan Plank (M.Polak) en
Joop Menasse.
They didn’t report themselves for registration and went underground to join the resistance.
Hildo Schutte
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Back from vacation. Had a chance to read Norm’s book. Of course it is not
the same book that was savaged in the NEWSPEAK Times Book Review, for
obvious reasons: sober, balanced, judicious and thought-provoking. Hopefully
Norm’s book will provoke some soul searching among Jewish Americans about
their participation in The Holocaust Industry. As Norm correctly points out,
it has given rise to even more anti-Semitism. Of course anti-Semitism has
always been out there, but now it seems on the ascendancy. Witness the
phenomenal growth of Matt Hale and his World Church of Creator, which i have
been combatting out here. He was considered a local crank until Alan
Dershowitz and the ADL agreed to help him get his law license. Then they
gave him tens of millions of dollars of free publicity. Then his movement
took off like wild-fire. Then the Benjamin Smith killing spree out here; the
bombing of the Jewish synagogues in Sacramento;the murder of the children at
the Jewish daycare center in LA. Etc. For the life of me I could not
understand why ADL would help Hale get a law license.(Dershowitz loves
publicity of any kind.) Norm’s book made the rationale perfectly clear to
me: competition for scarce resources. They boosted Hale to create an enemy
in order to raise funds by scaring people with this enemy. But Hale has now
become a Frankenstein Monster. At least he won’t be getting a license to
practice law–no thanks to Dershowitz and ADL. But my hat is off to
Norm–Mazel Tov! Francis.
Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820 USA
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
I have just read The Holocaust Industry and find myself totally in agreement with your argument.
Congratulations on your courage and on the rigour of your research.
I watched the interview with you on Sky Television this evening. The interview looked like a set-up. Three onto
one. You were magnificent under fire and I think perhaps managed to penetrate the shell of ignorance – which is
of course the basis on which the Holocaust Industry has founded its business. You had to fight to make sure that
Jonathan Freedman’s attempt to smear you was not left unanswered – but you succeeded.
I’ve been thinking and saying the same things as you for a long time, but now, for the first time, I feel that
someone has credibly taken the truth to the public.
Warm regards,
George Rosenberg
I just read U. Herbert’s long piece on your volume, in German. I was
surprised. This academic seems as negative to you and your purpose as Bartov
in The New York Times, except Prof. Herbert is much cleverer, has far greater
knowledge(the guy is also pompous/dogmatic in the typical German manner, he
knows what is right and wrong with each and all issues-there is no use of ”
as I see it”, or “this seems overdone”-no it IS overdone!).
I got the feeling you might not have read this article in a very influential
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German daily yourself. The fellow cuts your work down slice by slice while
giving some lip to its usefullness in raising the issues(his main issue of
concern is to put the Nazi terror against the Jews in historical context and
not have it nailed down as outsid all other history, etc.).
If this is treatment your work will get from the lofty German academic
ruling class, the thing to do is what that Harvard baby pin up did a few
years ago:travel to German yourself and take your charges, etc. directly to
the ordinary Germans kept in the dark by the ruling forms.
New York
Subject: Re: Prof. Finkelstein- mistreatment in German press
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 00:39:59 EDT
Professor Finkelstein!
This goes from bad to worse. I read P. Longerich’s long piece in
Frankfurter Rundschau, a none too surprising or inspiring “rebuttal” of your main
theses.But his very last words are eye-popping. The man warns against transferring
your charges against the Industry in the US to the German scene, on the
grounds that doing so could threaten the survival of German freedom and
liberal society! This is something Germans must not read or hear!
This is surely as outrageous as it gets, with a sinister undertone.
A German warns his fellow Germans against listening to a Prof.
Finkelstein, a man missing most of his relatives due to the German government voted into
office in 1933!! So is Goebbels back running the German press? So Prof.
Longerich does not think people with names like Finkelstein have suffered
enough from censorship in Germany?
German liberties, European commitment and renouncement of dictatorship are now so
solidly engraved in the old vaterland it is preposterous-and certainly not
productive- to suggest that the Germans collectively have to “prove” it
over and over. It would seem productive to look into just why this lobby of
conceited and none too scrupulous Germans are so fanatically committed to
exposing Germany’s darkest epoch over and over and shutting out anything
that might interfere with that purpose.
As I read it, Prof. Longerich admits at the end that the veracity or falseness of the
theses put forth by Prof. Finkelstein is irrelevant to him;all that matters is that Germans
hear of their evil from over half a century ago and nothing else. Cynicism can go no
further. Germany has surely seen enough such cynicism and censorship in the last century.
P.S. This “Letter” was written for use by your site, if you so wish. It is
all yours. I have vented my spleen, for now. There is obviously a much
greater story here, this lobby of Germans now hitting down on you as if by
mechanical drill. I have have only recently come to realize its full force
and influence in Germany.
Also, the New York Times let Bartov and the Industry attack you and
otherwise no doubt would like to ignore you altogether. Their conceit and
hypocrisy is also rather too obtrusive.. Are you familiar with the
viciously anti-Semitic postings in the Times back in 1919-20?In one, not the worst
but found in a front spread article on a US priest back from Russia(Feb. 13,
1919), the Times printed a list of the 25 top Soviet Communists giving
their real Jewish name, thus you could see that Trotsky’s real name was
Bronstein, etc.!!!!
This is not just gross anti -Semitism; in context of that day, with the
Times too reporting mass slaughter of Jews in Ukraine by anti -Soviet forces on
grounds that the Soviet government was Jewish led, it amounts to inciting
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violence against unarmed Jews, pure and simple. I have notified The Times
of their criminal reportage 80 some years ago;the current herausgeber, Ochs’s
direct offspring, Sulzberger, was so pleasing as to reply, recognizing that
their reporting back then was not all what he would have liked but he
apologizes for nothing, withdraws nothing!!!
Rather than harass Prof. Finkelstein, it would seem a great idea that The
Times busy themselves with accounting for what they printed in 1919-20
injurious to Jews. I see that they have “apologized profusely” for their
cold coverage of Hitler’s work as it came to light in 1943-45;that is small fry
next to their “slips” 25 years earlier.
August 21, 2000 Budapest
Dear Norman Finkelstein,
This letter is inspired by the program ‘Answer the Question’ presented on
Sky News Channel on August 19, 2000.
I am a law student furthering my LLM studies in a Central European
University. I am a person trying to see the world with my open eyes, analyze
it critically and not to live in a world of illusions nevertheless it is not
very common in the human world also. Herewith I would like to express my
high support to the steps you have taken towards the disclosure of objective
scientific truth. I appreciate your objective attempt much.
Nevertheless I did not read the ‘Industry of Holocaust’ itself, I believe
that I hypothesize the ideas expressed there quite clearly. I have noticed
and made some findings about your anticipators as well. Nevertheless the
fact that the program I mentioned was almost the only one on the topic, so
is not very correct for me to generalize, but still it is quite obvious for
me that your opponents (which I would better describe as respectless
blind-attackers, as they do not try to present explicit proof for their
stand and are even not listening to the other point of view) are deeply
short in arguments except impulsive and irrational ones. I think they live
in a world of fallacy they created for themselves and supported by their
co-thinkers. Nevertheless they left the last word to say for themselves I
stayed with a strong impression that it is you who deserve esteem and it is
you who after all is standing for the truth.
It is very important that you dare to say what you did in the book. Even
quite a long time ago I felt (well maybe the word to feel it is not the
exact one to be used here as I do not recognize whatever kind of mystical
‘intuition’ and I think that any intuition has its reasonable explanations),
at least to some extent, things you expressly pronounced to be true. Despite
the objective truth, which is that constituents of your nation suffered much
only on the grounds of their nationality, and I believe that accordingly
they deserve greatest respect and compassion, I was always certain that it
is unjust to obligate the whole world to feel guilty and to counterfeit to a
kind of sanctuary unmistakable universal mandate for their nation. In my
opinion this position indubitably leads to regeneration of diverse forms of
antagonism towards that nation. I observe the facts supporting this view all
over the world. I hold that it is very important that people like you make
(and even the unanalytical public living with stereotypes) to support, o
even to regain the respect to your nation as a whole and individuals who
represent it in particular.
Moreover (and I think it is the main idea of your book) I may not disagree
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with you that the Tragedy already became a huge industry. What not let my
intuitions to become proven scientific truth, it was the lack of reliable
information, and that until your research I was not able to deal with real
facts and figures. It was your publication which provided me required ones.
In conclusion I want to say that I consider your work as a severely
important one and I truly believe that it could became the breakpoint in the
Industry as well as the beginning of the Victory of the Truth to which, I
suppose, we serve both. I express my courageous support to you and I wish
you the very best in your further efforts.
I care.
Ignas Jonynas
Student, Lawyer and Truth-seeker
From: “Robert Bard” <rbard@btinternet.com>
To: < info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: The Holocaust Industry
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 17:53:41 +0100
Just to say I recently read The Holocaust Industry. As a British Jew, who
has studied the Holocaust period at MA level, visited most of the major
Polish Concentration Camps, I agree very much with what you say and feel
that people who make a livelihood out of a historical tragedy should be
exposed. It is about time someone had the courage to speak out against
vested interest. I have always been fascinated (in a morbid sense) in how
Israelis use the memory of the Holocaust to justify their existence, and
then proceed to treat the Palestinians ideologically the same way in which
the Nazis treated the Jews. I feel very strongly that you are right to
raise these matters even if some consider them an embarrasment as silence
often seems to imply acceptance of what is unacceptable.
Robert Bard
London, England
In May 1996 the Amsterdam leftish squatters magazine “Ravage”
published an article by Peter Edel. In this article a number of aspects
concerning WWII were mentioned, that Peter Edel considered to be
inadequatly explained by regular historians in the Netherlands. He cited
for instance the questionable role of the Jewish councils in wartime
Amsterdam. To make a link to the present, Peter Edel also made a
short remark in his article about the “Anti Defamation League of B’nai
B’rith”, in which this organisation was associated with the American
far right.
As a result of this publication in “Ravage”, the Dutch branches of the
B’nai B’rith brotherhood, requested the Dutch Justice Department to
start a criminal procedure against both magazine and journalist. The
Dutch B’nai B’rith brethren considered the remark about ADL/B’nai
B’rith to be insulting and they blaimed Edel for having damaged “the
good name and honor” of this organisation.
So, “Ravage” and Edel had to stand trial. The fact that the Dutch
B’nai B’rith started a criminal procedure in this case might be
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unimaginable to Americans, but in fact this is possible according to
Dutch law, since slander and defamation are considered to be criminal
acts here.
Like real criminals “Ravage” editor Freek Kallenberg and journalist
Peter Edel were summoned for interrogation by the police in februari
1997. Subsequently, in November 1998, both had to appear in court to
defend themselves against the charges made by the Justice Department
and the Dutch B’nai B’rith lodges. During the trial, which took about
four hours, Peter Edel made a statement in which he explained that he
had done nothing else than his journalistic work and that he never had
the intention to insult anyone. He also made clear that there is
excessive evidence showing that ADL/B’nai B’rith has done about
everything over the years to destroy its own “good name and honor.”
After two weeks the judge declared a mistrial, because the Dutch
branches of B’nai B’rith were not named anywhere in Edel’s article. It
was the judge’s belief that the remark in the article was only intended
against the American organisation ADL/B’nai B’rith and not against
the Dutch B’nai B’rith branches (and its affiliates like the “Centre for
Information and Documentation Israel” which is more or less the
Dutch version of ADL, but wasn’t mentioned by Edel either).
About ten days after this verdict the Justice Department decided to
start appeal against Peter Edel and “Ravage.” This court case took
place on 11 April 2000. The result however was the same. This judge
stated as well that “Ravage” and Edel couldn’t be prosecuted, since the
people that filed the complaint were not mentioned. During the trial
again no single document appeared which prooved that the American
organisation ADL/B’nai B’rith was endorsing the initiative against
Edel en “Ravage” by both the Dutch B’nai B’rith brethren and the
Justice Department. As a matter of fact the Justice Department
couldn’t even show that ADL/B’nai B’rith was aware of this court
case. Still the Justice Department and the Dutch B’nai B’rith brethren
didn’t want to hear about giving up, so again an appeal was started. It
was the ultimate attempt to get a conviction out of this: an appeal for
the Dutch High Court in The Hague.
In the meantime Peter Edel had decided not to hang around doing
nothing. Actually the affair with the Dutch lodges of B’nai B’rith was
an incentive for him to start a more thorough study about the history of
Zionism and the Jewish state. The result of this study was a series of
twenty articles published in another Dutch leftish magazine: “Kleintje
Muurkrant” (translated something like “Little Placard”), in one of
which Peter Edel described all the the nasty details he had found about
ADL/B’nai B’rith since his publication in “Ravage.” In the last article,
that was published in Juli 2000, he announced that he was going to
send all the articles he had written for “Kleintje Muurkrant”, about
Zionisme, Israel and ADL/B’nai B’rith, to the Dutch branches of B’nai
B’rith. Also in this article he proposed the brethren of this brotherhood to
join him in a discussion in “Kleintje Muurkrant.”
On the third of Juli the twenty articles, as well as the proposal for a
discussion, were send to Ronny Naftaniël, the spokesperson for the
Dutch B’nai B’rith lodges. After three days “Kleintje Muurkrant”
received a letter from Naftaniël in which the Dutch Zionist leader made
clear that he saw no reason to participate in a discussion with Peter
Edel. Ten days later Peter Edel got a phonecall from his lawyer, telling
him that the Justice Department had dropped the appeal against
“Ravage” and him. Apparently Naftaniël and his fellow brethren were
scared of what they had helped creating, by taking Peter Edel in court.
Obviously silence remained their best option at his point.
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The lesson out of all of this, is that the best way to confront
ADL/B’nai B’rith, and similar organisations in Europe, is to challenge
them in a discussion. Because, as this case shows, these people back
off as easily, as they make vicious accusations against those who
criticize the Zionist ideology and the state of Israel.
Dear Professor Finkelstein,
This is a message to say how much I admire your great courage in tackling a subject which should have been
discussed openly and honestly for a long time. Only someone of your background and position could dare to do
this, it seems; in Europe people are afraid to mention the use of the Holocaust and the distorted support by the
western countries of Israel, no matter how many injustices it perpetrates. These are matters which are hardly ever
spoken about in an open and objective way, which is a great tragedy, in my opinion.
In Austria, which ignored its recent history for so many years, indeed until the election of Kurt Waldheim as
Federal President, your book has received much publicity.
Thank you, Professor Finkelstein. To take a position such as you have done, knowing the great risks involved, is
so unusual these days that I feel I must state my great appreciation.
Paula Abrams-Hourani
P.S. For the record, perhaps I should mention that I am an American Jew who is married to a Palestianian writer. I
have lived in Vienna for many years and have visited Israel and the occupied territories many times.
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2000 17:11:06 -0400
Dear Norman,
As a college teacher who has been teaching the Holocaust for the past
twenty years, I want to thank you for your efforts to set the record
straight in your latest book. I have not read the book yet (it is on
order), but I have listened to the interviews on your web site, and I
cannot agree more with what I have heard of your position. Earlier, I
read your refutation of Goldhagen and found it totally convincing. Thanks for
your efforts at clarifying the record.
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: supportive comment
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 08:21:46 +0100
Dear Norman G Finkelstein, at last honesty and intellectual rigour,
thank you. We cannot afford to lose awareness of human suffering through the
cruelty of others and your work helps us keep in sight ALL human
suffering. You have courage and your enemies (and, perhaps worse, new
found friends) must be numerous and powerful; but the truth is also a
great power and, we hope, a greater power than falsehood and of the new
secret police dogging the mediaspheres of our great democracies.
with kind regards
Terry Edwards
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From: tmfrey@juno.com
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Truth vs. Error
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 20:02:34 -0700
God’s prophet said the holocost happened! And God backed it up.
Where is your vindication? If God doesn’t back up your claim then sit
Dear Mr. Finklstien,
I am thirty -five years old, Jewish, and living in Toronto. I was not
raised with a strong sense of my heritage, but we were definitely
Jewish. And one day I will marry Jewish. I had a few years of Hebrew
school and a Bar- Mitzvah. I am writing this to you to unburden my self.
I am writing this to you for selfish reasons. I do not have anybody to
discuss this emotional issue with. If you ever print this letter,
please with hold my name.
I did not read you book “The Holocaust Industry.” And I will not buy
it, because I just cannot stand anymore material on the Holocaust.
However, I did read a review of it in Salon.com, and I read your
This may make me sound silly. I do not have words to describe the way
that I feel every time I see one of our people, our so-called leaders,
or spokespersons, on TV, or the radio, or in print, crying in public
about the Holocaust. I feel embarrassed, not just a little, but a lot.
It has gotten to the point where I will turn off the TV for a few
minutes during the news, and then turn it back on. I am afraid to buy
the paper some days, afraid to watch 60 minutes.
Why do we insist on forcing our grief and suffering on other people?
Why do we behave as if we are the only people who have suffered? We give
the impression that we do not take the struggles of other people with
any sincerity at all. How can the average Canadian in working clothes
relate to all of this? Jewish suffering is tiresome. We as a community
need to set other priorities, enough with the holocaust already. Lets
move on.
These words should not make anybody angry, they just should make our
people think about how we can best serve the causes that we care about.
Always making a seen in public is not serving the best interests of our
people. You were quoted as saying that the demand for reparations is
the number one cause of anti -Semitism in Europe, you are absolutely
right. I am not going to get in to the John Demjanuk case,( The falsely
accused Nazi war criminal; the so called Ivan the terrible. )And how
terrible that was for our image, not to mention how terrible it was for
him an innocent man.
I have to much unload in just one letter, so I have to synopsis. There
is growing anxiety in the US about Jewish power and influence. The way
that this is expressed is often scary. It pains me to say this, but it
is my opinion that the Jewish leadership in the US; because of there
over bearing manner, because of there appearance of selfishness, and
because of there extremely high profile are often the cause of this.
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I believe your book will be a positive contribution to our people.
However, I do hope that your are careful in how you go about explaining
your views. Be cautious, in not giving anything to the media that they
can use in a negative way against us. The fact the book has been
published is enough, you should for the most part stay away from
reporters and journalists. Please let me know if you receive this
letter. Thank you.
Dear Professor Finkelstein
I am writing to express my appreciation of your book The Holocaust Industry.
I ordered it from the Guardian (UK) after they carried two excerpts.
Unfortunately because it was so short it left me wanting to read a whole lot
more on the subject and so I have been “surfin’ the web”.
I notice that Amazon.com allows people to deposit reviews without giving a
name. Newspapers in the UK don’t allow this and nor should Amazon. The
first and lengthiest review was from a neo-Nazi puporting to support your
work whilst deliberately misrepresenting it. The review was posted
anonymously and claimed to come from New York. I don’t know how to contact
Amazon to tell them that their policy of allowing anonymous reviews is
unethical so perhaps you could post some advice either to me or on your
Yours sincerely
Mark Elf
ps. just for the ethnic head count – I’m Jewish
From: Hicham Dennaoui <dennaoui@palestinet.org>
To: < info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: Thank you Mr Finkelstein
Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 21:58:02 +0200
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
Just a few lines to thank you for writing “The Holocaust Industry”. This
book represents to me a huge step for the freedom of speech. Now one can
dare talking about how the Nazi Holocaust was turned into a nasty
propaganda machinery without being automatically accused of anti -semitism. Again,
though I live in Switzerland, the feeling your book provides me with is a
re-discovery of this freedom. From now on I no longer have to think “If I
ever say this or that, even if it is totally true and well documented, I
will be labelled as a racist pig, so better not say anything”, or to start
any comment by : “Let me first state that I am not anti-semite ….”
I also do profoundly believe that the memory of all those who died is now
respectfully *served*, whereas up to present it was rather *used* by
various interests. Let aside the Palestinian struggle I have always been shocked
and saddened by the use of the Nazi Holocaust for political as well as
financial goals.
But I didn’t mention the most important thing : My admiration. My admiration for your work, your courage, your
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intellectual integrity.
Mr Finkelstein, English not being my mother tongue, I really do hope that
my message to you is clear and that my feelings were correctly put into words.
My respect and regards
Hicham Dennaoui
You are speaking just out of my heart” – as germans say.
I myself , born 1950, a male german, having a german father and a croatian
mother, had a lot of compassion and understanding for jewish people since my youth.
My family had to suffer after the war under ethnic cleaning in Eastern Europe.
Never this part of the history was mentionned or dicussed in germany, because
of the fear of “revanchism”. It was always argumented by german authorities, that we should focus on the future
and not stick to the past and generate new hate …!!
But why then, we shall remind up to the third next generation the Holocaust?
Is the suffering of Germans or Russians (by war and communism), French and
others of no importance? More and more I feel, that I become angry about the
requirements and allegations of jewish organisations.
Do these people also see that, for example, also the palestinians do have a
right on compensations against Israel? Do they see, that the human rights
require, that these people have a right to return back to their homes, that
they had to leave after ´48?
best regards
Alois Freko
From: Jacob Levich <jlevich@earthlink.net>
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Thanks
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2000 20:26:11 -0400
Dear Dr. Finkelstein,
I read your most recent book with tremendous interest and excitement, and I
wanted to express my gratitude for the courage you’ve shown, as well as for
the high level of scholarship and integrity exhibited throughout.
The New York Times review was a disgusting travesty, by the way. The irony
is that all its overheated rhetoric, selective quotation, and deliberate
falsification reminded me of the cruder kind of Holocaust deniers. You
could not have wished for a more powerful (if wholly unintentional)
validation of your work.
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Thank you for standing up for ALL who were murdered, and for all who
survived. They deserve no less than the truth.
An extra note of thanks — your book led me to read Raul Hilberg’s
exquisite memoir, which I might not otherwise have discovered.
Best regards,
Jacob Levich
New York
Dear Norman,
Your book will be particularly valuable in Europe, where even peace
activists believe American supports Israel because of the Jewish
lobby. I’ve even heard the phrase “Jewish-occupied Washington” used
to show why American maintains sanctions on Iraq. These activists,
who should know better, invert the causation. Once in a while I try
to explain as much: that the Jewish lobby exists only because Israel
is useful to American piracy. The day Israel stops doing the US’s
dirty work is the day the Jewish lobby gets relagated to the same
dustbin as the Palestinian lobby.
Maybe it takes longer than a day, as the Elian Gonzalez affair shows.
It looks like the `sensible’ segments of the US government have
decided that they’ll finish off Cuba more effectively by `free’ trade
than by embargo. The Cuban exiles in Miami, no longer needed, can now
be forced to obey the law by armed federal agents. But it’ll take a
year or two before the brainwashed politicians and newspaper editors
stop taking their cue from the exiles.
(Just like all these idiot right-wingers who go on about China being a
“Communist dictatorship” and how we should not trade with it, etc. —
they’re still singing from their “who lost China” sheet. They haven’t
yet realized that, through “free” trade with China, the “good cops”
portion of the US government have found out how to exploit American
and Chinese workers simultaneously, for the benefit of American big
[The NY Times review was a real disgrace.] The last such hostile
review I saw was of Endicott and Hagerman’s excellent book on US
biological warfare in Korea. But alas it didn’t conform to the NYT
party line — same `problem’ as your book.
True party-liners.
Or worse. The Times, and the Western press, is more skilled at
propganda than the Soviets were. I was just in Spain for a conference
of physics teachers from around the world; even a peace activist (who
knew what a crime the Vietnam war was) believed most of the Nato lies,
and was giving a Serbian physicist a hard time about how Serbia had to
atone for its sins. Hardly anyone else would even speak to the
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Dear Prof. Finkelstein,
Having heard about your book on the news on German television a
few weeks ago, I ordered it immediately and have just finished
reading it. Although born in the United States, I have lived in
Germany for the last 29 years and have, naturally, followed the
course of the negotiations on compensation for Jewish (and other)
victims of Nazism, first in the case of Switzerland and more
recently of this country (Germany). I was, of course, also aware
of the huge amounts of money the German government has paid over
the years. Added to this is the fact that my degrees (BA from
the U. of Georgia and MA from the U. of London) are in history,
specifically German history in the 20th century.
Although my background is Christian (my family is Episcopalian),
my sentiments have been very pro-Jewish at least since the 1967
Six-Day War. At the time, I was engaged to a Jewish girl from
Queens. N.Y., and we keenly followed the round-the-clock coverage
of the war, cheering at every Israeli victory. In 1971 I then
spent a summer on a kibbutz in Israel and traveled widely in the
country. I had, in fact, registered for an ulpan (the program
for Jewish immigrants to Israel to learn Hebrew) but left early –
with others – because of the unfriendly treatment by the
Having said all that, I have to say that your book was
fascinating and illuminating reading and should be required
reading for all the governments involved and, more specifically,
for all Jews and particularly all American Jews. It is a sad
truth that your revelations will also play into the hands of
anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi groups, who will no doubt use it to revive
the nonsense of an international Jewish conspiracy. We are
witnessing an increase in such behavior here in Germany now. But
it is not your revelations that are to blame for this development but,
rather, the shameless extortionist behavior of the Jewish
organizations you refer to. Keep up the good work and don’t let
yourself be intimidated by these mighty Jewish organizations that
would, no doubt, love to silence you.
David Orpin
Wassenberg, Germany
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: liked your book
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2000 22:56:28 EDT
Dear Mr. Finkelstein,
After reading the review in the Economist, I bought a copy of The Holocaust
Industry and have just finished reading it. I wish to thank you very much
for this book. The juxtaposition between the evil of the Holocaust and the
atrocities committed against the Palestinians has always seemed quite
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vexing to me. It is also frustrating that no politician or other public figure
seems capable of addressing the legacy of the Holocaust on anything other than a
cartoon-character level. I hope your book helps accelerate the day when all
people of good will, Jews and Gentiles alike, can work together for a world
free of bigotry and oppression.
Peter Cole
Brighton, MA
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Subject: Honor where honor is due
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2000 13:46:06 GMT
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
heartiest congratulations on your latest book. It has opened many eyes.
I wish you continued strength and good cheer as you fight the good fight.
Your enemies are of the sort one should have.
S. Leibowitz
From: “hossam tarakji” <htarakji@hotmail.com>
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 20:14:23 CDT
mr. finkelstein
I watched your show on aljazeera channel yesterday, and I have big respect
to your courageous opinions that reflect your good and honest
personality, something that is rare this days.
I hope your voice and the voice of all the honest people around the world
rise very high so the rights go back where it belongs.
Dear Mr. Finkelstein:
This book is that that every honest Jew needs. My father who with his family escaped Holocaust because they
managed to be evacuated by the Soviet authorities in 1941 was shocked when after coming to this country in
1994 he saw how many people who survived as 6-10 year old kids in Romanian ghettos in Moldavia became
“professional Holocaust survivors” in spite of being so small to remember most of their life there, we were
shocked when we learnt about the whole deal of Swiss compensation “to the Jews.” Who of almost 3M Soviet
Jews perished in Holocaust ever heard about Switzerland or about her banks at least? 99% of the Soviet Jews as
most of their Gentile compatriots were stripped out anything even related to gold and currency during the
“Socialist Industrialization” in early 1930-s; they might have a golden wedding band or (the most “affluent”) a
golden crown which the NKVD failed to confiscate. Who, except for a few rich Jews from the West can claim
anything from Switzerland, then?
This ridiculous campaign to milk every nation in Europe will do nothing except for feeding the anti-Semitism.
Fortunately, you wrote this book.
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There is another issue that, I think, can be of great help. This is the question of the number of victims. The major
problem form my point of view is an inaccurate approach to the political map of the pre-war Europe. For example,
most of the authors point out the the number of victims in Romania was about 300,000 (half of the population), but
same authors state at the same time that the vast majority of this people were inhabitants of Bessarabia and
Transnistria (today’s Republic of Moldova where I am from, while the Jews of so-called “old Kingdom” or Romania
in her 1914 borders survived. But the former territories were annexed by the USSR in 1940 and the Jews there
were counted by the Soviet statistics as Soviet citizens! The same is true for the Baltic States (almost 250,000
victims), and for Western Ukraine with Lvov that was the third largest Jewish city in 1939 Poland! I am not saying
about the Jews in Vilnius and its vicinity who were Polish citizens as of 09/01/1939, then they became Lithuanians
after Vilnius was transferred to Lithuania by the Soviets in October 1939, and after June 1940 they became Soviet
citizens when the Baltic States were annexed by the USSR. I roughly estimate the number of this double or triple
(as for Vilnius district)count as about 1M people even if we do not take in account those Polish Jews who
managed to escape to the Soviet Union after the German occupation and became Soviet citizens. I wrote about
this discrepancies to every Jewish organization, and to “The Jerusalem Post”, but nobody even responded to me,
because of the reasons that wrote about in your book, I guess.
Again, thank you for your book and I hope to read a new book of yours soon!
Ilya Girin, Ph.D., MBA
E-mail: girin@jerusalemail.com
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 21:07:50 Beirut
Dear Dr.Finkelstein,
I thank you for all your efforts and I admire your courage and
humility. I am a secular Syrian which distances me from various religious dogmas be it
Islamic or Jewish.It is through Jews like you that there could be peace in the
Middle East.Jews who are proud of their roots but this pride has not prevented
their consciense from siding with the truth.
I was born in Germany and even as a child of eight it struck me how most
Germans treated Jews like semi Gods and Israel as God’s personal state on
this earth.The problem lies as you have mentioned in your interview on
Al-Jazeera that we are between two extreemes.One side tries to deny the Holocaust
altogether(most of us Arabs belong to that category although I think it is
somehow understandable)which is simply not true.This is the sort of view
that the makers of the holocaust just fall in love with.What we need is to
educate people about the horrors of the holocaust on Jews as well as others without
using those lost lifes in blackmailing banks or in justifying the
oppression of the Palestinians or the killing of the Iraqi children.The Holocaust was a
dark mark in human history but it is an insult to all the victims of the
Holocaust when their lives are used to justify injustice.The other extreme is the
side you have thoroughly described in your book I can add no more, you have said
it all.
During my graduation from the American University of Beirut we as
students were honoured by the presence of Dr.Edward Said.In his speech he called on
us to be proud of our heritage without ignoring its downsides to learn from
all cultures and treat each person on this earth as a HUMAN.This is the sort of
religion we should be preaching the religion of tolerance and justice.Thank
you very much. It is after hearing people like you that one can actually be
proud of being a Homo Sapian.
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Dear Prof. Finkelstein:
I just read your book. A very interesting and more than well referenced work of literature. I just about concur with
all you are saying. It is nice to see some one as brave as yourself to vocally stand up against the system. I am
sure (and I know) there are many people, both Jewish and Gentile that have the same feelings as yourself.
Perhaps now more people will become vocal and end this Holocaust Industry before
ruin takes place. I also feel that the Holocaust revisionist movements that
we hear of have really gained momentum and have come about more in response
to the incessentness of the Holocaust Industry rather than in response to
the Holocaust history itself. I also feel that the Holocaust Industry
itself is unknowingly inspiring anti-Semitism as a reaction to it. I want
to thank you for a great book!
Dr. Joel Kaplan
Detroit, Michigan
Congratulations for your book and your courage in speaking the truth.
it is high time these things are said.
My father, and my uncle, were deported to Buchenwald as french
“resistants”. Indeed we don’t understand why the sufferings of the christians
deported (and the slavs, and the tzigans among others ) are never accounted for. And
why the atrocities commited by the Japanese in the Far East never
mentionned. Or rather I should say we do understand to well…
Yes, you are right when you say that all this will bring anti-semitism,
in truth I believe it has already happened.
Thanks for your fight.
Dear Dr. Finkelstein,
The NYT article and the ABC’s 20/20 are investigating
journalism with an extraordinary ” tour the force”
on two accounts : a./ Fagan was fingered out as a
scapegoat of the battered holocaust industry, omitting
totally the similar behavior of dozens of identical
class-action-suit law firms – the so called
holocaust-ambulance-chaser lawyers, as well as the
From: IChambon@aol.com
Date: Sun, 17 Sep 2000 17:13:57 EDT
Subject: Sans sujet
To: info@normanfinkelstein.com
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total omission of the innumerable, unmandated,
intertwined and semi-secretive Jewish Holocaust
Restitution Organizations and b./ not even the
slightest hint is dropped on Norman Finkelstein’s book
‘The Holocaust Industry’ an international history
bombshell which , in my view, was the trigger of this
initial attempt to deflect the mounting wrath of the
reduced number of genuine holocaust survivors.
Elie Wiesel, another genuine holocaust survivor, has
established (?) draconically restrictive criteria for
those who address Holocaust or Israeli issues : only
those who went through the former have the right to
speak, recall, address the ‘ inexpressible’,
‘incommunicable’and ‘unique’ tragedy, baptized by him
as “the Event”, the awesomeness of the very word –
‘Holocaust’ – being as sanctified as ‘God’, thus
unpronounceable and untouchable ; ‘The Event’ and ‘The
Creator’ are – so he professes – the acceptable
alternatives to these two holy names. As for the
latter issue,according to E.W., only those with
extended Israeli residence have the right to speak on
and of Israeli matters.
Having survived the circuit of Auschwitz, Mauthausen
and other camps and also having spent 40 years of
active life in Israel, I can now disregard even Elie
Wiesel’s stringent restrictions which he imposes with
his habitual solemnity on others, but on himself.
Not being a historian
myself but only an average history buff, it is rather
difficult for me to validate all your claims
pertaining to the anatomy of this industry, but, a
priori, I couldn’t find in your study anything that
would contradict my longstanding understanding of the
post-holocaust machinery established over the last 50
years. There are, indeed, many-many facets of this
fascinating “main basse” on the restitution to
survivors, forced on the heirs and beneficiaries of
the perpetrators, and each of the numerous facets
could be the object of extended studies and
One of them – maybe the most outstanding – should be
the (re)definition of the status of ‘holocaust
survivor’. The unstoppable hyperinflation in the ever
growing number of h.s. serves – as you point outconcrete
and specific aims of the holocaust industry.
A linguist of the stature of N.Chomsky would be needed
to put some order in the nomenclature of the holocaust.
A preliminary attempt by me would look something like
this :
HOLOCAUST AVOIDERS : All those who have fled Germany
and Austria before 1939, mostly with the assistance
of the Nazis, sometimes without ( to Palestine, Great
Britain, USA, China , etc.) This group of people
amounts to about 3-400.000.
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PROTECTED FROM HOLOCAUST : 600.000 Romanian Jews never
extradited to Germany, 80.000 Bulgarian Jews, 400.000
Hungarian Jews (out of the 800.000) protected by
Horthy(finally) and several neutral countries’
representatives ,400.000 French Jews in Vichy -France
and/or hidden by the French, 40.000 Dutch Jews, 20.000
Belgian Jews, 6.000 Danish Jews.
BEYOND REACH (OF HOLOCAUST): 400.000 British Jews,
3.000.000 USA Jews, 3.000.000 Soviet Jews, 1.500.000
North African and Middle Eastern Jews and some 200.000
Jews in South America, Canada and Australia.
THREATENED BY HOLOCAUST : All the Jews of the world,
all the Romani, all the homosexuals, all the
communists, all the socialists, all the Slaves, all
clergy eventually, all the handicapped of the world
and on and on and on.
HOLOCAUST VICTIMS : 4.100.000 – 6.000.000 Jews
slaughtered by the Nazis.
HOLOCAUST GRADUATES : around 250.000 Jews exiting,
most of them barely, the concentration camps in 1945.
These were the holocaust survivors.
[ After the war an ever increasing number of
categories were generated : Holocaust Deniers (
Goering, Faurisson, Zundel, et al.), Holocaust
Skeptics ( Irwing, LePen, Shoukeiry, et al.),
Holocaust Profiteurs ( Germany,Austria, Israel, Swiss
Banks, WJC, CC…etc.), Holocaust Mysticists ( Elie
Wiesel, Katzetnik et al.) Holocaust Emulators ( Khmer
Rouge, Hutus, Indonesians…etc), Survivor Fakers
(Kosinski, Wilkomirski), Collaborators to the
Holocaust ( Papon, Quisling, Degrelle, Szallasi,
Kastner, Rumkowski……followed by a very long list),
Holocaust Finger Pointers (Rabbi Ovadia, Goldhagen,
et al.) ]
It is inconceivable, offensive and historically
fraudulent to increase year after year the number of
the ‘holocaust survivors’ ; the natural attrition
rate over the last 55 years would have presumably
decreased our number of the living genuine holocaust
survivors, to 70-80.000, as of today.I would also
venture to submit that the number of people involved
and remunerated in the various associations,
congresses, conferences, committees,
commissions,congregations, memorials,focus groups, chairs,
museums, centers, consultants,counsels,
litigators,task forces, institutes, restitution
organizations,all of them with their staff and their
boards,directors, secretaries,chairmans, fellows,
interns ; their cumulative number probably exceeds the
present number of the living Graduates of the
Holocaust. This huge contingent of unmandated salary
drawers thrive for half a century on restitutions
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earmarked for the actual survivors. While the size of
the holocaust graduates is rapidly diminishing, that
amorphous unaudited body is in constant expansion, as
if to validate again one of Parkinsonís laws :”Work
expands to fill the time available for its
completion”, except that in this case the “time
available for completion ” has been cannily omitted and
“the completion” is never in sight, nor envisaged. In
the very near future we, the 70.000, shall all
disappear, but fear not, with each passing day, new
survivors are discovered, baptized as such and
incorporated, so that the machinery can perpetuate its
own existence and its unstoppable expansion. And then
there will be a ‘second’ and ‘third’ generation of
In this context, it is interesting to
note today that Ed Fagan has claimed – on ABC’s 20/20 –
that he alone represents 82.000 ‘survivors’ and as you
mentioned in your book, the Israeli Prime Minister’s
Office reports 860.000 survivors in 2000 !
It seems that the burden is on us to correct without
further delay this outrageous misnomer which is at the
very foundation of what cannot be avoided to be called
a major historical deceit.
Would you help, Dr. Finkelstein, and could you kindly
ask a distinguished linguist like Noam Chomsky and a
distiguished holocaust historian like Raul Hilberg for
their scholarly assistance in this endeavor ? It seems
imperative to stop the proliferation ,the misuse and
the abuse of the term ‘holocaust survivor’.
[name withheld at request of author]
To: FINKELSTEIN <info@normanfinkelstein.com>
Subject: Your book
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 18:22:59 -0400
Dear Mr. Finkelstein;
In many aspects your book hit the mark.
This is how we feel.
September 19, 2000
To The Editor
The New York Times
On September 8, 2000, you published an article; (“Lawyer in Holocaust
Case Faces Litany of Complaints”) that surprised us in its specificity
about Mr. Edward Fagan who is only one of twenty six (26) attorneys or
law firms that have treated the victims of the Holocaust as terribly as
what your article accuses Mr. Fagan of.
At the outset, to those of us who understood the situation in the Swiss
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Settlement case while Senator D’Amato was holding his hearings, it
quickly became apparent that between the lawyers and the organizations
this affair has become a feeding frenzy or cleptocracy. These parties
were all determined from the outset to appropriate the moneys from the
settlement for themselves leaving the victims with promises and false
From the beginning it was glaringly apparent how any due process that
respected the victims rights was missing from these proceedings. We
were not consulted on settlement issues. We were deliberately excluded
by one of the most prominent participants, the World Jewish Congress,
from having our say in the settlement discussions or final agreement.
Mr. Bert Neuborne specifically denied me access to be heard by the
negotiators and arrogantly declared “I am representing you”. Early on
rumors began to circulate that the organizations, like the World Jewish
Congress and the Claims Conference had influenced Judge Edward R. Korman
to render a decision in the settlement’s distribution that favors the
organizations as opposed to the victims. His final decision in the
case, the behind the scene maneuvering by Mr. Bert Neuborne, Mr. Stuart
Eizenstat of the State Depart, the 26 lawyers and the organizations show
just how greedily these parties have manipulated the case in their own
As your article correctly states our hopes were gotten up and in the end
we were told that we “just didn’t matter”. You needed to add however
that Mr. Fagan is only one of the shameful assembly who is doing this to
If this settlement survives its nauseating stench of collusion, conflict
of interest, impropriety and theft, the money from it will mostly go to
those who have appointed themselves as beneficiaries and to some who
were lucky enough to know Judge Korman personally. This cleptocracy
deprives survivors of concentration camps of appropriate representation
and compensation.
THE LIBERATED [name changed at author’s request]
(Auscvhwitz, Buchenwald, Zeitz, Berga-Elster Concentration camps)
From: <yule@futureone.com>
Dear Norman,
I read your book The Holocaust Industry and found it intelligent, insightful, and hard to argue against. Of course,
there will be those who argue vehemently against it, who insist upon believing a lie rather than the truth; they will
never be satisfied with your writings or beliefs. I know that they do everything they can to suppress and attack
those, such as your self, who have the courage to not merely articulate your beliefs but to rigorously research
your information in support of those beliefs.
Being a Jew, I wanted to share with you my understanding of the spiritual undercurrents in this obvious war
between the people of the Lie and those who cherish the Truth above all else, such as your self. There are two
different kinds of people in this world, the Good and the Evil, and this ontological reality clearly transcends race,
religion, nationalism, and ethnicity. How could those such as Bronfman and son, who have “won the game” in life,
and have all that money can buy, be so committed to untruth, deception, and the exploitation of their fellow Jews?
How can they exploit the suffering of their fellow man?
The answer is that those they exploit are not their fellow man, because Bronfman and son, and all the rest of the
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exploiters of the innocent (just like the Nazis they happen to target) are ontologically Evil. They are, to those with
true spiritual vision, demons. Yes, there are such things as demons, and they certainly are not just found in
Germany or Switzerland or Vietnam or whatever other convenient enemy is made the current target. These
people of the lie are clearly found in the US and Israel, too, as you well know, reaching all the way to the top.
At this point in time, something unique is happening: the evil ones are being exposed by the Good. The Light is
shining in the darkest places to reveal the underlying spiritual makeup of mankind, and the dark forces that rule
life in this world. We know that life shouldn’t be this way. But those in positions of power, who control the money
and therefore the policies of nations, have been exploiting the suffering of the innocent for at least as long as
there has been recorded history (and certainly much longer). They are of the demonic essence, the People of the
Lie, and their time has come. Spiritually, their end is near.
The fact that untruth can be exposed, and evil uncovered, in our present time, to such a degree, indicates the
power of the Light that is shining upon this dark world. The force of Light and Truth will prevail. As one of good
heart to another, I just wanted to share this insight with you, as it may provide some comfort to know that True
justice will prevail, and everyone will get exactly what they deserve, spiritually. It is happening now.
Thank you for your work in support of Truth. It is not just an academic work but a spiritual work as well.
Best wishes.
This letter is from a member of the old Brooklyn College Peace Coalition back when Professor Finkelstein was
involved, and who went on to get a Masters of Arts in History.
Hi Norm,
I came across this item in the local Oregon State University History Department web site. It reminded me of what
you wrote about funds and fanfare funneled into Holocaust museums and memorials, so I thought I should send it
At first I wondered why it was there, in context and all… The town of Corvallis has few Jews, not even a
synagogue. However, in the heart of the fertile valley of the Willamette River there once lived thriving communities
of aboriginals. Native Americans were decimated times nine along the West Coast of North America. There is no
week or even day, not even a special minute set aside to remember the genocide of Native Americans. I think it is
too close to home for folks here to think about. Too much of the current order rides on keeping it under the rug, so
to speak. (I mean, could you imagine invoking the right of return for, say, the Cherokee, or the Lakota, or the
Iroquois? And then giving them military credits?)
But if it was not genocides or holocausts in general that concerned local citizens, why such a big mobilization for
The Holocaust? Especially since there were so few Jews around?
I suspect the reason might be that it provides a moral imperative for the United States to intercede abroad. I
remember when we were in the Brooklyn College Peace Coalition (against the Gulf War) and our antagonists
bedeviled us with the highsterical charge that Sad-damn was Anothah Hitlah! Newsweek magazine provided the
visuals with their famous cover photo of the dictator in an Adolph-styled, touched-up mustachio. Goaded with guilt
for the goyim, we remember The Holocaust. We failed to save them. Shame stokes the need for pride, and honor.
We nod, frowning, and intone: “Never Again!” Our resolve fixes.
Where the media is controlled, human rights stops having a universal application and becomes a one-way
weapon. It becomes a matter of routine to seize upon, or make up, any little trip-up by the current target and
explode it into a humanitarian offense so the great United States can intercede, send troops, and bombs. It’s the
responsible thing to do, the duty of the strong. We cannot sit idly by… For humanitarian reason, people were
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blown to pieces in Iraq. For humanitarian reasons NATO planes dropped bombs on people in the Balkans. For
humanitarian reasons the USA blockades Cuba… In it all, the lesson of The Holocaust makes selective
intervention holy.
But was there no humanitarian reason in East Timor? Or South Central Africa? What about apartheid South
Africa, or closer to home, Duvalier’s Haiti? et cetera ad nauseum.
Whether these humanitarian missions actually work, in particular or in general, is not a subject of study, for no
sooner has the smoke cleared than another urgent situation requires immediate action.
The one shining lesson that we can pull from this mess, though, is that the masses, even here in the USA, do
have their hearts in the right places. From the information they are given they understand a wrong and wish to
right it. But they are not given the right information. If all gross inhumane acts could be highlighted through the
media and the schools, and analysied in a free and open manner, we could vanquish so many nightmares for
millions of our fellow humans. I think people are well-intentioned. Ironically, under current conditions it is these
very best intentions that lead to hell on earth for so many.
But what if there was a full account? What if people knew the whole story? What if there were a stream of annual
specials on the Kibya massacre, or the hundred or so other genocidal attacks on Palestinians over the last half
century? What if we got decent news coverage from Africa? Why can’t we care about the very real help the rich
and powerful USA could give to this world in pain right now in the present? People buried alive in a stinking
mountain of garbage, which is their hideous home, still, to this day –why? Children hungry when over 50% of
Americans are over-weight –why? Tuberculosis, the disease of poverty, quadrupling in Russia, when Wall Street
experiences an expansion and profits of such magnitude and duration as to be unprecedented –why?
I am told to forget these torments and enjoy life. I have so many privileges, and life is short. To follow that advice I
think I may need a lobotomy…But you know me, you know I think life is wonderful. I don’t need a cranial erasure…
We also know there is enough to go around… so why not?
Keep up your research,
And all the best From your old BCPC comrade,
Chris Brady
After reading so much about the holocaust for the past few years, I began to become a little bit Holocaust weary
and was thus intrigued by your book. I was not dissapointed.
“The Holocaust Industry” is a fantastic piece of work. Whilst it’s been reviewed by various different critics and
such, I think some of its stengths are being overlooked, notably the quality of your writing. It reads like an airport
paperback, easy to read and capivating at the same time. I even found it witty in places and laughed at loud at the
line.. “An Israeli flag: never leave home without it.”
“The Holocaust Industry” answers those questions which had been lingering in my mind about the Holocaust. My
hat goes off to you, this is a tremendous book.
Yours Sincerely,
Richard Scannell
Dear Professor Finkelstein,
Your book has enriched and troubled my life.
Enriched because you have freed my mind…troubled because of its truths.
One of your students, Christine, who works at Manhattan Plaza, gave me your email address. I trust that this
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does not intrude.
‘Never again!’, a phrase echoing through my life, has led me to appreciate and respect the struggles of all
oppressed and suffering people.
Then one day, not so many years ago, news came that the Israelis, under the righteous banner of The Holocaust,
had initiated Kristalnacht and other civil abuses against the Palestinians.
I have been questioning “Jewish” rights ever since.
Whenever I have been vocal on the use of the Holocaust as an overrriding reason to lessen the deaths of so
many others I have been labeled an “anti-Semite” and shunned as such.
That is, until I heard of your book.
Your voice is one of courage, justice and decent investigation. I applaud you, Professor Finkelstein. And I am
enormously grateful for your work.
(Name Withheld)
Dear Norman,
I finished the book within hours after speaking to you about it. Bravo!
Thank you! I have already sent off copies to friends and relatives.
I have used the term “The Holocaust Industry” in conversation for a number
of years. I don’t remember if it was something that I had seen in print or
heard or just fashioned as a vague description of an offensive and evasive
manipulation of history. Your work is sharp and unsparing in its demolition
of the disgusting icons of “Holocaust” correctness.
My father came from a small city in southeastern Poland, Przemysl. His
family left there in 1912. We took him back for a brief visit in 1991 and
made a one day stop in Warsaw on the way. The monument to the fighters of
the ghetto uprising sits in the corner of a bleak expanse. “They fought for
the dignity of mankind,” reads the inscription. Dad pointed out that the
text was in Hebrew and Polish. Yiddish still remains buried there with the
three million Polish Jews who spoke it every day.
Of course neither the Nuremburg Tribunal nor the Eichmann trial helped
explain the criminal complicity of the allies in the rise of fascism. On the
contrary. Israel’s leaders latched on to Eichmann as a shield to deflect and
bury criticism and real investigation. The Soviet Union didn’t help much
Is there some decent scholarship on that topic? Or are you in the midst of
doing it yourself? If so, I would like to volunteer to help.
By the way I thought your reference to the JDC was quite tame.
Bravo to you once more! I look forward to meeting you in New York.
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Dear Professor Finkelstein,
Your book has enriched and troubled my life.
Enriched because you have freed my mind…troubled because of its truths.
One of your students, Christine, who works at Manhattan Plaza, gave me your email address. I trust that this
does not intrude.
‘Never again!’, a phrase echoing through my life, has led me to appreciate and respect the struggles of all
oppressed and suffering people.
Then one day, not so many years ago, news came that the Israelis, under the righteous banner of The Holocaust,
had initiated Kristalnacht and other civil abuses against the Palestinians.
I have been questioning “Jewish” rights ever since.
Whenever I have been vocal on the use of the Holocaust as an overrriding reason to lessen the deaths of so
many others I have been labeled an “anti-Semite” and shunned as such.
That is, until I heard of your book.
Your voice is one of courage, justice and decent investigation. I applaud you, Professor Finkelstein. And I am
enormously grateful for your work.
(Name Withheld)
13 October 2000
dear mr. finkelstein:
i have red your new book “the holocaust industry” and found it to be
courageous and insightful. i think that it is important that you tried to expose
the way some organizations try to make a profit on the holocaust and the USA’s hypocrisy in dealing with its own
i found it also necessary that you once again emphasized that not only
jews, but also gipsies (zigeuner), mentally ill (minderwertiges leben) and
so called antisocial people (asoziale) as well as gays and lesbians
(homosexuelle) perished in the holocaust. i think that it is important to
tell that there is no hierarchy of victims.
however, in one point i strongly disagree with you. you write that “the
holocaust”, as every other historic event, is unique and can therefore not
be more unique than another event. you claim to “restore the Nazi holocaust
as a rational subject of inquiry”.
but in my opinion, of all known genocides, the holocaust just is not
rational. it is the most diabolical crime ever commited in mankind. as far
as i know, an industrial genocide such as the holocaust never occured in
history. i do not know of any genocide for which special facilities or
inventions have been designed and built to kill effectively. the
extermination camps were nothing more but slaughter-houses for human
beings. and i guess that is worth never to be forgotten!
many regards
j. n. mettler, switzerland
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15 October 2000
Dear Mr. Finkelstein,
I’m living in Germany as a German for 56 years, I studied Slavic
languages especially Russia. In school we had not be informed about the German crimes in Eastern Europe. I
learned it as a student. I’m convinced the Germans would have never been engaged in helping the East-
Europeam victims of the Second World War. They had forgotten them for 50 years. Without the Yewish “pressure
groups” nobody would
remember. It’s paradox!
Keep in mind another fact: The Bertelsman Publishing House published
Goldhagen’s book, but this old Nazi-Publishing company would have never
published your book. It’s paradox too! But fact is too, that your book will encourage antisemits in Germany. It’s
paradox, but I agree to your statement in S üddeutsche Zeitung
about publishing your researches. We have to publish the truth,
nothing but the truth. But you are underestimating the deep roots of
antisemitism and racism in the German society which have survived
“SILENTLY” in the hearts of men for fifty years after the Second World
War. They never felt as “sinners” who had to show “REUE” (REPENTANCE).
They only felt guilty because they didn’t win the Second World War, and
nowadays there are a lot of attempts to win the war afterwards. As a
member of the Yewish-Christian Society in the university town of
Marburg I could send you dozens of examples about the German “Unfähigkeit zur
Reue” (incapability for repentance). Unfortunately Alexander
Mitscherlich’s famous book “Über die Unfähigkeit zu TRAUERN” helped the
Germans not to be “repentant”. They were SAD indeed, but nothing more.
My father, a war prisoner in Russia for eleven years, came back to West
Germany in 1955. These war prisoners had been received as “heroes”, as
winners, not as loosers. Having been again well established by the new
German Army (cold war policy!) he declared very outspoken his hate
against Russians and Yews. In those times that was not “correct”, but
when my mother protested and tried to be divorced the whole company
(family, old friends etc.) criticized her very sharply and she felt
very, very alone for many years.
God take care of you, all of us
(Gott schütze Sie, uns alle)
Sincerely yours
Bernd E. Scholz, M.A.
Subject: the holocaust industry
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 14:24:55 +0200
Dear Mr. Finkelstein,
Thank you for having the courage to speak out against powerful
instututions. I think in time people will understand the importance
and value of your writings. I am a student of History myself and even here
at university there are only a few teachers who dare to say anything
about Holocaust history which is not in favour of them.
Your new book has recently been published in Holland and I am sure you
were aware of the Jewish community who requested and advised that it
would be best if your book would not be published. That is pure
censorship! Besides, I doubt whether those critics actually have read
your book at all. The inteview which was broadcasted suggested that
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you were against Anne Frank’s memoration and other such non-sence. Your
book is not written in favour of those who are against memoration of the
Shoah, I think it is far more about those organistions who proclaim to
‘serve’ the survivors, but in fact simply blackmail other organisations
and countries to benefit their own pocket over the backs of those who
suffered immensly.
I hope you will never loose the courage and inspiration to keep on
fighting against this injustice. Thank you for taking time to read my
Your sincerely, Barbara (a Dutch student)
Subject: new book
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 21:10:36 -0600
From: “Zachary L. Stauber” <anchorite@geocities.com>
To: normangf@hotmail.com
Hello Mr. Finkelstein,
I had the pleasure of hearing the last few moments of your interview on Democracy NOW! and have just finished
reading The Holocaust Industry. I’m glad that somebody out there is not afraid of bad P.R. in their quest to right
some wrongs in this world. You’re one of the best, keep up the excellent work. That was the most well
documented, and still nicely flowing piece of work I’ve read in many years.
It was new to me when you started giving examples of how Jews in America are not a disadvantaged victimized
party, unlike Blacks, women, Latinos, etc. It explains a lot of things, like how a serious contender to the vice
presidency is one of them, like how they are the only group to have their victimization addressed. After reading it,
the statements about how great it was that Joseph Lieberman was going to be the first Jew to hold such a high
office started sounding like a golf country club claiming that they now proudly have dropped their prejudices and
allow rich white Catholics into their ranks (no more WASP-only!).
It’s frightening though, and in a way I do blame the Nazi holocaust for this lashing out, an overcompensation, if
you will, against any criticism of Israel, of American policy in the Middle East, of Jewish supremacy. The fight to
end the siege on Iraq is very dear to my own heart. I know plenty of Iraqis here in the states, and they’re such
forgiving people, if the siege ended today they wouldn’t turn into terrorists but be delighted to be left alone to go
back to what they were doing before the war (that is, until this new generation, growing up without a life apart from
war, takes hold). But I wonder, if the U.S. was finally able to install a puppet dictator (Saddam Hussein II) in Iraq
through some well CIA-funded resistance group, a dictator who would give away Iraqi oil to American
stockholders and make Iraq once again a pillar of American interests, is it likely the people I care so much for
would turn into intolerant, self-righteous persecutors who could do no wrong? Not that it’ll happen anytime soon,
but I think the answer is yes, and how does one guard against it beforehand?
-Zack Stauber
24 October 2000
Dear Mr Finkelstein,
Let me begin by saying that I admire your courage in view of the opposition that you have to face in your own
country. I have read a lot of holocaust literature (including your books), I have visited various camps in Poland
I thought I had a vague idea of what was (and is) going on, but your book was an eye-opener. Incidentally, I read
your latest book last week and events in Israel supported what you had to say for 100%! I am a high school
teacher (and writer) and your book confirms one of the things that I try to teach my students, namely: always be
critical, never believe something you read or hear without at least hearing counteraguments and always ask
yourself why does this person write or say what he writes or says. This may sound cynical, but your excellent
book proves that no subject is beyond cynicism.
Now, of course, the US being what it is, namely a country that is about MONEY and little else, your revelations on
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second thought did not really surprise me. As many American writers have stated: the American dream long ago
became the American nightmare. I still feel deep sympathy for genuine holocaust victims and I still dislike racism
of any kind (something else I try teach my students) but from now on I will take a much more careful look at any
study (or so-called study) of the Holocaust. Finally: one thing that I have always found impossible to accept was
the so-called uniqueness of the Holocaust; thanks to your latest book (and the previous one) I now understand
insistence on this.
Once again, thank you, and keep up the good work!
Jack Didden
Dear Norman:
We all realize that the survivor’s assets are being robbed the 2nd time
in the ongoing Holocaust industry but there is no point in just
complaining when those in charge enrich themselves at our expense and
are unwilling to come clean.
This is a call to all who are interested in seeing that this madness
stops and those responsible account for their actions. We urge all to
write to the US Attorney General and to the FBI (both in Washington, DC)
and request an investigation as follows in both the Swiss and German
Settlement cases as well as other similar cases:
1. That Judge Korman disclose his past and present affiliation with
any organization that is part of any settlement before him.
2. That Judge Judah Gribitz disclose his past and present affiliation
with any organization that is part of any settlement before him.
3. We request an investigation of Judge Korman, Judge Gribitz and Burt
Neuborn why they acted to seal the court records in these settlements
and the immediate opening to the public of the same records.
4. Full disclosure of all compensation or payment to any organization
or individual for whatever reason that has been or is to be paid out of
any settlement money in the Swiss and other cases.
5. Please investigate and assure that Judge Korman, Judge Gribitz ,
Senator D’Amato, Burt Neuborn, Mr. Engelberger, Mr. Stuart Eisenstat and
all other officials in any capacity serving on any Settlement disclose
what official or private dealings each of them had with one another.
Were they responsible for the promotion advancement, appointment to any
past or current position of any official tied to the Swiss, German or
the Austrian and Insurance Claims.
6. All advertising, mailing or other companies that participated in
these Settlements disclose the amount of the fees/expenses or
compensation for which they invoiced the Settlements for work done on
these cases and provide copies of contracts, agreements and disclose the
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method whether competitively or not they were awarded the job.
7. As the Swiss Settlement amount by now equals $1,260,521,000 ($1.25
billion plus $10,521,000 interest to date –see announcement by Burt
Neuborn dated September 11, 2000), of which $800 million has been
“allocated to the Deposit Class to repay the claims of depositors or,
far more likely, their heirs.”( see Announcement
dated September 11, 2000, by Judah Gribitz, Special Master “Swiss Banks”
names of the organizations, the
individuals, positions held, work performed, the basis and who
authorized the amounts that is to be paid out of the later balance, and
who will receive additional interest that may accrue.
8. We demand full disclosure of the names, amounts and reason for the
entitlement by the Swiss Banks of the roughly 26,000 undisclosed
accounts remaining in Swiss Bank accounts belonging to victims.
9. We ask for an investigation and disclosure of Mr. Volcker’s
affiliation in any capacity with any Swiss company, such as on the board
of directors, etc. and the disclosure of the names of all individuals,
with past or present positions held in any Swiss entity, who served with
Mr. Volcker in any capacity on any entity.
10. We request an investigation and full disclosure of Mr. Stuart
Eisenstat, formerly of the State Department, of what legal statute
authorizes him, as a paid US Government employee, to personally
intervene in the German Class Action Suits by appearing before the
courts and testifying against the merit of the cases to be tried as a
class or as individual cases. More specifically, what US Statute gives
Mr. Eisenstat the authority to prevent and deprive individual US
citizens of the right to seek legal redress in these cases.
11. We ask for a full investigation of the German Slave Labor
Settlement, the Austrian Settlement and the Insurance Claim Settlements
along the specifics listed above in the Swiss case. As more data
becomes available we will make these available to the US Justice
Department and the FBI.
12. Respectfully request that a full investigation be conducted in the
current Settlement cases (Swiss Banks Master Docket No: CV -96-4849,
(ERK)(MDG) US Dist. Court-Eastern Dist. NY. and all proceedings halted
until full protection of the victim’s rights is assured through the
appointment of an unaffiliated, unbiased, pro-bono authority that will
remedy the current tainted process.
P.F. (name withheld by request)
From: “J. Appell” < appell@mathematik.uni-wuerzburg.de>
To: normangf@hotmail.com
Subject: The Holocaust Industry (what else?)
Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 14:10:52 +0100
Dear Dr. Finkelstein:
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I am a mathematician working at the University of Wurzburg
in Germany. I just finished reading your book “THI”, and I found
it both deep and interesting. In particular, I very much appreciate
the fact that your assertions are basically not polemic, but throughout
well-grounded from the scientific viewpoint.
Predictably, the book has not found a good press in Germany,
because “a real masochist does not admit any kill-joy”.
Nevertheless, I do hope that it will find the worldwide distribution
and large readership it deserves.
With my best wishes and warmest regards,
Jurgen Appell.
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