Friday, March 24, 2006

So Much For The 'Extortion Racket'

So much for the Holocaust as extortion racket. An article in The Forward proves otherwise. Last week, the Hungarian government finally agreed a compensation scheme for surviving relatives of Hungarian Jews murdered during the Second World War. The amount? For each relative that died, just $1,800. An earlier program paid out just $150 per parent and $70 per sibling.

And how much is your life insurance?

Contrary to popular myth, the deportation of Hungarian Jews in the spring and early summer of 1944 was a crime carried out largely by the Hungarian government, not the German occupation force. Eichmann and his helpers were on hand to 'supervise', but the men in uniforms who herded Hungarian citizens onto a mix of German and Hungarian trains belonged to Hungarian Gendarmerie. So the fact that payments of some small kind have been finally made acknowledges this responsibility.

Because of property expropriations made by Eastern Bloc countries on a class basis, as well as the expropriation of property owned by ethnic Germans expelled after 1945, many East European countries have been extremely reluctant to compensate survivors for loss of their homes and businesses. Many Hungarian Jews will have received compensation payments as survivors of Nazi slave labour camps.

Yet as German historians Christian Gerlach and Götz Aly showed in their 2002 book Das letzte Kapitel, the proceeds of 'Magyarisation' were the main motivation for the Horthy regime to cooperate with the SS in deporting over 430,000 Hungarian Jews before the transports stopped in July 1944. Gerlach and Aly's claims have been substantianted by the work of Hungarian historians, who strongly emphasise material greed as the prime cause of Hungarian complicity in genocide.

Aly has since gone on to stir up controversy over the conclusions of 2005's Hitlers Volksstaat, which argues that the expropriation of Jewish property across Europe helped fund part of the Nazi war effort. By levying burdensome occupation costs, the Nazi regime brought about a 'sparing of the German taxpayer' (Schonung des deutschen Steuerzahlers - the phrase was Göring’s from November 1941). In today's terms, the amount of money seized by Nazi Germany was much less than the amount paid out in compensation by the Federal Republic of Germany since 1954.

Quite aside from exposing Denier claims of 'Holocaust greed' as fiction, the Hungarian case poses another interesting challenge to Denier myths. The 'Hungarian Action' from May to July 1944 brought over 430,000 Jews on more than 140 trains to Auschwitz, of whom 110,000 were selected as slave labourers and transported onwards to practically every single concentration camp in occupied Europe. Over 320,000, however, were selected for the gas chambers and murdered.

Proving a rightful claim to the Hungarian government's compensation scheme will be the work of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference. I've seen their research staff at work; it is a job which requires considerable documentation and proof. And therein lies the rub.

No matter how hard Holocaust Deniers try, no amount of fancy aerial photo-interpretation, disputing of eyewitnesses or claims of forensic improbability will get around the fact that the trail for hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews went cold at Auschwitz. Where did they go? Hungary was a Soviet ally after 1945. No, they did not emigrate; they were murdered.

Of 825,000 Jews in 'Greater Hungary' before 1944, approximately 500,000 died, at Kamenets-Podolsk in 1941, inside Hungarian Army forced labour battalions and during the occupation, as well as in Auschwitz or other German concentration camps. Around 300,000 survived, the majority of these escaped deportation. Today, after border changes and emigration, especially in the wake of the 1956 Uprising,there are less than 100,000 Jews in Hungary. But by no means all will be able to make a claim. Since the claims are being paid only for those whose relatives died, many tens of thousands of Jews who resided in Budapest, which was not as affected by the deportations as provincial Hungary, will be automatically excluded.

It will be interesting to see what the take-up rate for this compensation scheme turns out to be. So much, methinks, for the extortion racket.

22 comments:

Scott Smith said...

The pensions paid to "Survivors" is not the entirety of the Holocaust shakedown racket. Tons of foreign and military aid to Israel is needed as an insurance premium for various countries to stay respectable. Those who don't go along and pay for protection soon become pariah states, as though their reason for sovereign existence was to exterminate Israel or something like that.

Even in the United States, which does not have to pay the Holocaust penance, still pays just the same. We let it happen after all by not intervening against Germany when the Zionists first asked.

And to get elected to any major political office without the endorsement of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the Israel-First Evangelical Christians would be like trying to elect an atheist to the College of Cardinals.

Nick Terry said...

Hungary is compensating relatives of the dead, Scott. Quite a different matter to German compensation for survivors of slave labour camps, who incidentally include hundreds of thousands of non-Jews.

As for aid to Israel, the only country which has supplied it is the United States, whereas Britain demanded hard cash for its Centurion tanks in the 1960s. US aid is also motivated by multiple factors. To say that all aid is given out of 'Holocaust guilt' is nonsense.

Scott Smith said...

Nick Terry said:

<< As for aid to Israel, the only country which has supplied it is the United States, whereas Britain demanded hard cash for its Centurion tanks in the 1960s. >>

What about Germany's gift of submarines to Israel, which were said to be reparations for Saddam's Scud attacks on Israel in the first Gulf War? Why does Germany have to pay this coalition bribe? And what other Middle Eastern shithole do we allow to stockpile nuclear weapons, no questions asked, besides Israel?

<< US aid is also motivated by multiple factors. >>

The major factor is Bible-thumping End-Times Christians and Jews in the U.S. electorate, and the Interventionist plutocratic establishmnet that we have had for the last century, beginning with the Yellow Journalism of "Remember the Maine" and the Spanish concentration camps in Cuba. A Zionist, it has been said, is some Jew (or Christian) who wants some other Jew to fight for and go settle the Holy Land for the Dream.

The solution, as I see it, is to end tax-exemptions for the incomes and property of the Churches and "charitible" foundations. This would eliminate the major source of corruption in American society.

<< To say that all aid is given out of 'Holocaust guilt' is nonsense. >>

It's a bit more complicated than guilt, of course, but the Big-H is an undeniably successful marketing campaign.

Nick Terry said...

For a useful summary of US motivations as well as the history of aid to Israel, see

http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2006_03_17.htm

Roman Werpachowski said...

Because of property expropriations made by Eastern Bloc countries on a class basis, as well as the expropriation of property owned by ethnic Germans expelled after 1945, many East European countries have been extremely reluctant to compensate survivors for loss of their homes and businesses.

It's not just that, not even mainly about that. The first reason is that if the East European countries were to issue compensation, this would be a terrible burden for their budgets. Another things is that from 1939, everyone who could confiscated property: Germans did it, Soviets did it, locals did it. To compensate Jews and Germans without compensating the locals also would be terribly unfair. To compensate everyone would be terribly costly. That's why almost 17 years after the fall of communism, the problem of compensation for private property confiscated by the Communists is still unsolved in Poland, for example. To simply pay for it by the market rate would be very, very costly, tens of billions of dollars.

Roman Werpachowski said...

as well as the expropriation of property owned by ethnic Germans expelled after 1945

A large group of Germans resettled from Poland after 1945 came to Polish lands after 1939, occupying houses and lands stolen from Polish owners.

Nick Terry said...

You're quite correct, Roman, regarding the complexities of property compensation in the former Eastern Bloc.

As hard as it is on the former owners who lost their homes, I do not support compensation for such losses of property, because of the countless claims that can be made by many different nationalities. Most of all, because businesses were nationalised or rationalised out of existence all over the Eastern Bloc, and thus a claim for one would mean a claim for all. This is not saying that reprivatisation was undertaken always correctly after 1989.

The Hungarian payments are a different matter. They compensate for loss of life. But how can one put a price on a human life? There was not something called genocide insurance available to the victims.

Roman Werpachowski said...

The Hungarian payments are a different matter. They compensate for loss of life. But how can one put a price on a human life?

It is quite a symbolic gesture. Hungary could not afford to pay a real (like the ones afforded when someone is shot by the police for no reason) compensation for each person dead. However, I can imagine that an old poor person, who's parent was killed in Auschwitz, could use the money for a good cause, like making a trip to Poland and visiting the place of their parent's death. So the fact they gave the money is a good thing.

Roman Werpachowski said...

OFFTOPIC: I don't reject the idea of reprivatization outright. However, one should not expect receiving a 100% compensation, it's absurd. BTW, it's not true that the no Jews got their property back. In Poland, the remaining synagogues are back in Jewish hands. The invidual Jews (not religious communities) have to wait with the rest of the people.

Nick Terry said...

Absolutely, it's great that there is some payment however small. From the article which prompted my post, it seems as if most relatives will take up the offer, which they did not before.

I stand corrected on community property. Synagogues and the like are much easier to return than individual property. But this is dependent on their being a community remaining to which the buildings can be returned. Not always the case, as you know.

Thanks for all your comments.

Roman Werpachowski said...

But this is dependent on their being a community remaining to which the buildings can be returned. Not always the case, as you know.

Yes. In large cities, such communities persisted or were founded anew. In small cities, the situation is different. But then, there are few remaining synagogues in small cities.

Scott Smith said...

Roman said:

<< as well as the expropriation of property owned by ethnic Germans expelled after 1945

A large group of Germans resettled from Poland after 1945 came to Polish lands after 1939, occupying houses and lands stolen from Polish owners. >>

And how much of this Polish land and property was first stolen from the Germans and Austrians after 1919?

Roman Werpachowski said...

Scott, you're hopeless... Do you know what were the partitions of Poland in the end of the XVIIIth century? Are you aware that there were plebiscites in Silesia?

Besides, there is a difference between moving borders while respecting private property (this is what happened in 1919) and throwing people out of their homes and taking over their money and posessions (this is what happened in 1939). Unless you believe that all houses and things in a country belong to the government of this country.

Scott Smith said...

I'm not sure what the 18th century has to do with territories where Germans lived in the 20th century before their borders were moved, thus making them minorities in their own lands.

For the same reason, I don't favor returning land beyond the Oder-Neisse to Germany because Germans no longer live there; they were ethnically-cleansed by the Allies.

In Silesia in 1919 German Freikorps units had to protect the ethnic-Germans from being ethnically-cleansed before such plebiscites.

Also, any plebiscite held in Danzig in 1939 would have unanimously favored restoration to the Reich. So what was the problem?

Hitler wanted an alliance with Poland, unlike the Junkers on the German General Staff, who wanted to eat Poland's lunch. All he asked for was Danzig and right-of-ways for German rail and autobahn traffic to East Prussia.

The Poles could not permit that because they had sought to economically isolate disputed German territories and to enforce trade preferences with the British Empire.

And the British had given the fervid Polish patriots a complete blank check, with the goal of either causing Hitler to lose face or to fire the first shot in their renewal of the world war in order to restore the Versailles "balance of power."

Eastern European borders redrawn after Potsdam had no intention of respecting property rights or even human lives. The Allies simply used the Soviets, and Czech and Polish revanchists to do their dirty work and washed their hands of it.

Sergey Romanov said...

All this does not change the fact that Nazi Germany was the aggressor and paid for it :-)

Scott Smith said...

Germany was not the sole aggressor, but in any case, Poles, Ukrainians, and Hungarians paid, along with the Germans, by the Potsdam border "redrawings."

:-O

Roman Werpachowski said...

but in any case, Poles, Ukrainians, and Hungarians paid, along with the Germans, by the Potsdam border "redrawings."

Well, at least Poland gained something on the Germans :D

Roman Werpachowski said...

I'm not sure what the 18th century has to do with territories where Germans lived in the 20th century before their borders were moved, thus making them minorities in their own lands.

It has this: Wielkopolska (called by the Nazis "Warthegau") was Polish until the end of the XVIIIth century, when it was robbed by Prussia. The Poles were always a majority there.

Scott Smith said...

Scott said:

"I'm not sure what the 18th century has to do with territories where Germans lived in the 20th century before their borders were moved, thus making them minorities in their own lands."

Roman said:

<< It has this: Wielkopolska (called by the Nazis "Warthegau") was Polish until the end of the XVIIIth century, when it was robbed by Prussia. The Poles were always a majority there. >>

And London and Paris had no more business moving the Polish borders around as they would today in Indiana to benefit "the Indians."

Only Germany had supported Polish nationalism against the Tsarist Empire. But Poland did not want peace with Germany.

Remember that the Allied propaganda of the "self-determination of peoples" always came at the expense of Germans and Germany. It certainly would not have applied to minorities oppressed anywhere by the Windsor crown.

Roman Werpachowski said...

Only Germany had supported Polish nationalism against the Tsarist Empire.

BS. Who financed Haller's army, Germans? What about Woodrow Wilson's support for Polish independence?

But Poland did not want peace with Germany.

After WW I, Poland did not fight any wars with Germany until it was attacked by Germany in 1939. So who didn't want peace? How can you twist the truth so?

Roman Werpachowski said...

And London and Paris had no more business moving the Polish borders around as they would today in Indiana to benefit "the Indians."

OK, so your positions is that Poles should not have a sovereign state. Millions of us beg to differ :D

Scott Smith said...

<< Scott:
Only Germany had supported Polish nationalism against the Tsarist Empire.

Roman:
BS. Who financed Haller's army, Germans? What about Woodrow Wilson's support for Polish independence? >>


The Allies were more interested in 1) Keeping Russia in the war against Germany, 2) Causing problems for Germany after the war in order to skew the balance-of-power, and 3) causing problems for Bolshevist Russia, than they were ever interested in Polish national interests. The Germans were no altruists here either since they were fighting the Russian Empire. And Wilson's messianic goals were simply to fan any nationalism against any empires not aligned with the Entente, and to expand an American role as world-arbiter, or "global policeman" as we would say today, and to reduce international financial barriers to dominate global markets, though preferences were still allowed for the Entente powers themselves.

<< Scott:
But Poland did not want peace with Germany.

Roman:
After WW I, Poland did not fight any wars with Germany until it was attacked by Germany in 1939. So who didn't want peace? How can you twist the truth so? >>


That's not true. Polish chauvinism has been well-documented, though probably not in Poland. In the event of war, the Polish cavalry expected to be in Berlin in a fortnight given unconditional Entente backing. And the Entente encouraged such delusions.

<< Scott:
And London and Paris had no more business moving the Polish borders around as they would today in Indiana to benefit "the Indians."

Roman:
OK, so your positions is that Poles should not have a sovereign state. Millions of us beg to differ >>


No, my position is that the dissolution of multinational empires should have been accomplished by drawing borders based on plebiscites rather than the imperatives of Allied hegemony so that populations affected would not be ethnically-cleansed by ad hoc measures, as after Versailles, nor by diplomatic agreement by the Communists, as after Potsdam. Most German provinces would have gone to Germany, regardless of the Entente balance-of-power; and mostly Polish provinces would have gone to Poland. Remember that the Treaty of Versailles forbade ethnically-German Austria joining the rest of the German nation. The reason is obvious but it puts the lie to Wilson's propaganda of the "self-determination of peoples." This only applied to Entente satellites, not Germans.