Edwin Black: The Holocaust 'Industry' Is More About Money than Memory





[Edwin Black is the award-winning bestselling author of IBM and the Holocaust, and his first book, The Transfer Agreement, now re-released in a 25th Anniversary edition (Dialog Press). He can be reached at www.edwinblack.com. ]

During the first months of the Hitler regime, in 1933, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich, which, in its various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million-almost $1.7 billion in 2009 dollars-to Jewish Palestine. In return, Zionists would halt the worldwide Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott that threatened to topple the Hitler regime in its first year. Ultimately, the Transfer Agreement saved lives, rescued assets, and seeded the infrastructure of the Jewish State to be.

Fiery debates instantly ignited throughout the pre-War Jewish world as rumors of the pact leaked out. That acrimony was rekindled in 1984 with the original publication of my book The Transfer Agreement-and has never stopped. Why?

Simply put, The Transfer Agreement came out a decade ahead of its time. When the book first appeared, in 1984, the world was still preoccupied with the enormity of Nazi genocide. The world's emphasis was on the murderous events of the war years. Organized remembrance was collectively fighting an anti-Semitic revisionist movement that was trying to deny or minimize the Holocaust with rabid pseudo-history. Few had spoken of the financial aspects of the Holocaust until I did. Few had publicly ever used the words "Zionist" and "Nazi" in the same sentence until I did.

For perspective, consider that the first network television attempt to treat the Holocaust was a TV series called "The Holocaust," which aired in 1978-the same year neo-Nazis marched through Skokie. That was the year I began researching The Transfer Agreement. At the time, the Second Generation movement of children of Holocaust survivors was just forming. The First World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors was only in the planning stage. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which received its charter in 1980, was several years and many controversies away from opening. Organized Holocaust education was essentially nonexistent. For society and for survivors, the dominant priority was coming to grips with the genocide-not the assets.

What has changed in 25 years?

Assets are now part of almost every Holocaust discussion. Zionists are compared to Nazis everywhere by anti-Semites and opponents of the existence of the State of Israel. Holocaust remembrance has become a business. The survivors' efforts at recovering assets or restitution have been expropriated by national and international organizations claiming to speak for them and then pretending to pay homage to them. Hence, we witness the spectacle of thousands of survivors in Brooklyn and Miami and elsewhere living at or near the poverty level. My Dad in Palm Beach has nothing but a roof over his head. But the well-heeled movers and shakers of communal remembrance travel first class, create vibrant websites, and talk the talk… all on their "fair share" of the diverted recovered assets or restitution of the actual survivors.

Every day the survivors, in their newsletters and online exchanges, rail against the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for sequestering their access to the all-revealing Bad Arolsen archives while tiny Luxembourg, with few survivors, just gained a full copy. No one listens.

Prominent national Jewish leaders find it easier to give well-funded communal cover to the perpetrator corporations, including insurance companies, who victimized the Jews. Holocaust historians find it more lucrative to go on the payroll of perpetrator corporations such as General Motors, IBM, I.G. Farben, and Deutsche Bank, murk the facts, and then slam the files shut.

My mother jumped from a moving train on the way to Treblinka into a snow drift, never believing that the next generation speaking for her would quarrel endlessly and often arrogantly about the measure of her misery.

The Holocaust has indeed become an "industry" where the facts are lost, and all too often not faced. The victims have become tertiary to the process. It is no longer about memory; it is more about money. Facing the reality of the Holocaust is no longer about confronting the horrifying decisions Jews and Zionists had to make with a gun to their head. The Transfer Agreement was one of those most terrible choices. Hence, the message of the book is unchanged 25 years later and its searing question asks this of history: "Why must Jews always make such terrible choices."


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Randll Reese Besch - 10/28/2009

Without being an 'anti-Semite'(aren't Palestinians too) or 'anti-Israel' which I am not. But many of the actions of that gov't are too much like the Nazis in the 1930's when they gave 2nd class status to Jews and put them in abysmal ghettos. Just look at Gaza and tell me it isn't a ghetto.

I say that what can happen to an individual when abused and becomes an abuser can happen to a mass of people too. Israel needs abuse therapy and now.


omar ibrahim baker - 9/21/2009

Be that as it may Professor Lewis is a self declared Zionist!
Right or wrong??


N. Friedman - 9/21/2009

Omar,

How does one respond to Omar's last comment?

I think I shall leave it to the reader to decide whether the premier Middle East scholar of the latter half of the 20th Century, namely, Bernard Lewis, might somehow be correct or whether Omar is correct.

Of course, if Omar had read what Professor Lewis actually wrote, Omar would note that Lewis argued that Ba'athist ideology is alien to the Arab regions and, as such, is not within the Arab or Muslim tradition. That, of course, is a compliment to the Arab regions for not being the true ideological home of the noxious Ba'athist/fascistic/pseudo-socialistic ideology.

In fact, were Omar to do some homework on the subject, he would learn that Professor Lewis is not per se opposed to Arab nationalism. He is, rather, opposed to the adoption by Arabs of an ideology which, in Europe, resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people. That such an ideology is noxious does not seem to bother Omar one iota.

Were Omar to do some more homework on the subject, he might also learn that Professor Lewis is and has always been enamored of the Arab regions, having written with substantial empathy for Arabs, for Islam and for the history of both.

Well, that is my last post on this topic and, as I said, I leave it to the reader to decide whether the comments of the eminent Professor Lewis are worthy of consideration.


omar ibrahim baker - 9/21/2009


Mr Friedman
A coincidence, happenstance, of Vichy, crypto Nazi, rule over Syria and the birth of a certain political party, The Baath Arab Socialist party, does NOT, neither necessarily nor remotely, signify a similarity of, or even imply an affinity to, a certain distinct theoretical or doctrinaire political orientation.

Your, and Lewis’, contention is the logical/rational equivalent of a patently ridiculously false claim, namely:
that all those who reached the age of maturity and lived thereafter several years under , say, communist rule do necessarily bear the communist seeds and imprimatur and have necessarily developed thereafter as being communistically indoctrinated /inclined.
The patent fallacy of such a premise is not only too apparent for any effort to be wasted rebutting it
BUT
Has been unquestionably belied by recent history!

As with the case of Professor Eckstein’s sole reliance on a TV program, re the anti Semitism of Hizb Allah, your sole basis for this ridiculous contention is an unsupported claim by Professor Lewis; a self declared Zionist.
However both claims, Eckstein’s and Friedman/Lewis’, share an outstandingly glaring common feature :THE ABSENCE OF ANY REFERENCE TO A PRIMARY SOURCE!
Which, primary sources in the form of publications and position papers etc , do abound for both parties in the public domain; particularly in accessible Beirut!!

I understand your and Lewis’ ridiculous contentions as an extension of your (plural) and yours long running campaign to smear Arab nationalism by alleged similarities to fascism which campaign is presently pursued by constant reference to assumed similarities and presumed affinities between Islamism on the one hand and fascism and/or anti Semitism on the other.

However I note with pleasure your failure to respond to or dispute any other point I made in my post.


N. Friedman - 9/21/2009

Omar,

Professor Bernard Lewis disagrees with you, writing in The National Post:

The kind of regime represented by Saddam Hussein has no roots in either the Arab or Islamic past. Rather, it is an ideological importation from Europe — the only one that worked and succeeded (at least in the sense of being able to survive).

In 1940, the French government accepted defeat and signed a separate peace with the Third Reich. The French colonies in Syria and Lebanon remained under Vichy control, and were therefore open to the Nazis to do what they wished. They became major bases for Nazi propaganda and activity in the Middle East. The Nazis extended their operations from Syria and Lebanon, with some success, to Iraq and other places. That was the time when the Baath Party was founded, as a kind of clone of the Nazi and Fascist parties, using very similar methods and adapting a very similar ideology, and operating in the same way — as part of an apparatus of surveillance that exists under a one-party state, where a party is not a party in the Western democratic sense, but part of the apparatus of a government. That was the origin of the Baath Party.

When the Third Reich collapsed, and after an interval was replaced by the Soviet Union as the patron of all anti-Western forces, the adjustment from the Nazi model to the Communist model was not very difficult and was carried throughout without problems. That is where the present Iraqi type of government comes from. As I said before, it has no roots in the authentic Arabic or Islamic past. It is, instead, part of the most successful and most harmful process of Westernization to have occurred in the Middle East.


Hence, there was a substantial Nazi influence for the Ba'ath party, one stronger, evidently, than the native Arab and Muslim influence.


omar ibrahim baker - 9/20/2009

Mr. Friedman your statements:
a-“I was speaking directly about the movement that affinity for Nazism among Arabs including Arab Muslims in the 20th Century and beyond - which is a fact.”
And
b-“The issue is that, in fact, Arabs did more than make wartime friends. They had ideological affinity for the Nazis and that affinity has found its way into Islamism and Ba'athism. Ba'athism is explicitly based on fascism. Islamism melds, in part, Islamic themes with Nazi themes - hence the open use of Nazi themes in the Hamas covenant. “

ARE totally unfounded and are made in the service of the Zionist-neocon political and PR war against everything Arab and Moslem and for the benefit of Israel.

RE (a):
During WWII most of the Arabs were pro Germany which happened to be at the time under Nazi rule .
That substantially evolved out of their anti Allies attitude due to presence in the Allies of two colonialist powers, Britain and France, under whose colonialist domination several Arab countries were and because of their pro Jews/Zionists stands mainly re Palestine .
Italy though part of the AXIS was equally resented, resisted and fought against in Libya as a colonialist power despite its alliance with Germany.
The same old adage: the enemy of my enemy is my friend!

-RE (b):No such “ideological affinity “ (with fascism) ever existed except , slightly, in the case of the Syrian Nationalist party of Anton Saadeh, always a semi fringe and insubstantial force and of limited public appeal relative to Nasserism, Baathism and , lately, of Islamism.
A cursory knowledge of the Arab political scene for the last eighty to ninety years would
irrefutably demonstrate a predominance of the following basic themes in the Arab Liberation movement:
1-Anti Colonialism/Imperialism and anti Zionism
2-Pro Arab solidarity/unity and Democracy
With Baathism and Nasserism (1946-1967) an additional factor, (3): socialism, gained overwhelming public favour along side (1) and (2) above.

This era (1946-1967) was notable for its rigid progressive distinction between Jews/Judaism and Zionism and, I contend, was outstanding, almost unique, in the anti Israel pro liberation progressive world camp for the thoroughness with which it made that distinction between Jews and Zionists, both Jewish and non Jewish.

Islamism , though still an evolving force both ideologically and politically , is, patently, strongly influenced by the Koran which deems the Jews as , primarily, a “people of the Book” but, never the less, Islamists clearly distinguishes between Jews and Zionists.

Your false and unfounded allegation about an Arab/Moslem “ideological affinity" to fascism/Nazism is , of course primarily, if not exclusively, born out of your Zionism and is ONLY another fabrication .
( It is interesting to note in this context the very warm present relations between Zionism/Pro Israel and neo conservatism of the American ultra right ; the erstwhile, and dormant?, non enemies of fascism.)
As such it could deceive the uninitiated but the FACTS are there for any serious reader to look up and come up with the truth.!


N. Friedman - 9/18/2009

Omar,

Jews were, at times and in certain places, under less distress under Muslim rule than Christian rule at certain times and places; however, there is no way to generalize because there were times when the exact opposite was true. Which is to say, there were periods and places where the treatment of Jews was horrendous under Muslim rule including under Arab rule.

In any event, I was not making a generalization. I was speaking directly about the movement that affinity for Nazism among Arabs including Arab Muslims in the 20th Century and beyond - which is a fact.

The rest of what you write misstates my position, which agreed with your statement in (a), namely, that people make their bed with nasty people in war time. The issue is that, in fact, Arabs did more than make wartime friends. They had ideological affinity for the Nazis and that affinity has found its way into Islamism and Ba'athism. Ba'athism is explicitly based on fascism. Islamism melds, in part, Islamic themes with Nazi themes - hence the open use of Nazi themes in the Hamas covenant.

I have said my point twice now. We should live with our differences.


omar ibrahim baker - 9/18/2009

Mr Friedman
Your attempt at and the semblance of reasonableness and feigned open mindedness of your post fails to confront the realities of real politic , to say nothing about rebutting them.
If it pleases you to contend against concrete historical fact that the Arabs had or harboured any substantial judophopia prior to the unveiling of Zionist colonialist ambitions in Palestine, you are welcome to that.
Except that it is an indisputable historical fact the Jews were less maltreated and more accepted and less discriminated against in Arab countries and in Islamdom in general throughout modern history than in any other major community in which they had a discernable presence .

(Need I relate to you how they were dealt with in the West and Christendom; your present major support and source of sustenance?)

I will not, though, construe your attempt as an effort to assuage your collective conscience nor as an exclusively West directed PR ploy for obviously plunder of the goyim is a well entrenched confessional attitude/dictate ; rereading Israel Shahak will tell you more about it than I ever could!
Be that as it may it does neither surprise nor bother me that you do not accept my “theory”!
Any other reaction would have been the cause of real surprise!

Never the less I note that you have assiduously avoided the major points
of my post dealing with the issue at hand namely:

“a-Wars dictate policies and impose alliances that in normal conditions would be reprehensible and totally unacceptable.

However in this context two outstanding facts must also be equally recognized:

b-Whereas the Palestinians were under an existential threat from the JEWISH/ZIONISTS and their imperialist allies colonialist onslaught on Palestine and were totally bereft of any major power support or ally their search for an ally is only understandable; that they should turn their attention towards the enemy of their mortal enemy was and is in no way abnormal or unprecedented

c- The JEWS/ZIONISTS, despite their warm relations and formal alliance ( The JEWISH LEGION) with Western and Russian allies ( The ALLIES) were not only seeking and sustaining relations with the enemy of their allies but were equally cooperating and seeking the assistance of their, and their allies, declared enemy , the NAZIS, against THEIR OWN PEOPLE.

(b) is a case of submission to the inevitable dictates of an existential war against a mortal enemy and as such is a legitimate corollary in a legitimate self defense effort
(c) is a blatant case of perfidy, treason and profiteering .”


N. Friedman - 9/18/2009

Omar,

If I understand you correctly, I do not disagree with you in saying: the enemy of my enemy can, for tactical reasons, be my friend. That, however, was not really what I was asserting about al-Husseini. His relationship appears to have been more than tactical; it appears to have been one of ideological affinity.

Of course, al-Husseini might have feigned his affinity to Nazism to garner support for opposition to the creation of Israel. A problem with that theory is that such an affinity was, rather clearly, widespread among educated Arabs at the time and, also in particular, among those who, today, would be called Islamists and, of course, it was of substantial importance in the Ba'athist movement. And, further, the ongoing use of Nazi-style propaganda by Islamists itself suggests an affinity as do the existence of states based on the Ba'athist and Islamist ideology that continue to spout Nazi style propaganda about Jews.

An additional problem with your theory is that the record shows al-Husseini to not merely have acted to prevent the formation of a state by Jews - something that one could certainly support at that time without being a Nazi - and another thing to support the extermination of one's enemies. That is quite a different thing altogether.

So, I do not accept your theory.

Mallmann and Cuppers' evidence, as I mentioned above, shows an actual plot in progress to exterminate 600,000 people. And, Herf's evidence, judging from what I have thus far read, shows that there was radio propaganda directed to fomenting more than just opposition to the creation of Israel. It was directed to making Arabs hate Jews as eternal enemies of Islam and to fomenting the destruction of the Jews.

Which is to say, the propaganda was not really directed against Jews forming a state but against Jews remaining alive. That is the difference between saying that I oppose the creation of a state for Palestinian Arabs and my saying that Palestinian Arabs are and will remain for eternity the enemies of God and, hence, of all decent people who, of course, should act to rid the world of such people.

Jewish "cooperation" with Nazis was rather minimal and was directed, as I understand it, to freeing Jews, not to exterminating people. Hence, such behavior would fit the model you propose. The role of al-Husseni is entirely different.


omar ibrahim baker - 9/18/2009

Mr Friedman
I was hoping to hear from Mr Green who often thought he had something of exceptional significance on the subject of Hajj Amin’s relations with Germany during WW II; not from auxiliaries.
Irrespective of the truth or absence there of of your own defense some determining facts must be recognized namely:
a-Wars dictate policies and impose alliances that in normal conditions would be reprehensible and totally unacceptable.

However in this context two outstanding facts must also be equally recognized:

b-Whereas the Palestinians were under an existential threat from the JEWISH/ZIONISTS and their imperialist allies colonialist onslaught on Palestine and were totally bereft of any major power support or ally their search for an ally is only understandable; that they should turn their attention towards the enemy of their mortal enemy was and is in no way abnormal or unprecedented

c- The JEWS/ZIONISTS, despite their warm relations and formal alliance ( The JEWISH LEGION) with Western and Russian allies ( The ALLIES) were not only seeking and sustaining relations with the enemy of their allies but were equally cooperating and seeking the assistance of their, and their allies, declared enemy , the NAZIS, against THEIR OWN PEOPLE.

(b) is a case of submission to the inevitable dictates of an existential war against a mortal enemy and as such is a legitimate corollary in a legitimate self defense effort
(c) is a blatant case of perfidy, treason and profiteering .

History has a vast well documented library on the subject of ZIONIST/NAZI cooperation; before and during WWII.
For your information I chose to quote below a mildly Zionist author.
____________

(http://www.lastsuperpower.net/docs/nzc4hannaharendt/view )
4.2 The Jewish Councils

On collaboration by the Judenrat officials, Dr. Arendt wrote:

‘To a Jew this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story. It had been known about before, but it has now been exposed for the first time in all its pathetic and sordid detail by Raul Hilberg, whose standard work The Destruction of the European Jews I mentioned before. In the matter of cooperation, there was no distinction between the highly assimilated Jewish communities of Central and Western Europe and the Yiddish-speaking masses of the East. In Amsterdam as in Warsaw, in Berlin as in Budapest, Jewish officials could le trusted to compile the lists of persons and of their property, to secure money from the deportees to defray the expenses of their deportation and extermination, to keep track of vacated apartments, to supply police forces to help seize Jews and get them on trains, until, as a last gesture, they handed over the assets of the Jewish community in good order for final confiscation. They distributed the Yellow Star badges, and sometimes, as in Warsaw, ‘the sale of the armbands became a regular business; there were ordinary armbands of cloth and fancy plastic armbands which were washable’.

In the Nazi-inspired, but not Nazi-dictated, manifestoes they issued, we still can sense how they enjoyed their new power – ‘The. Central Jewish Council has been granted the right of absolute disposal over all Jewish spiritual and material wealth and over all Jewish manpower’, as the first announcement of the Budapest Council phrased it. We know how the Jewish officials felt when they became instruments of murder - like captains ‘whose ships were about to sink and who succeeded in bringing them safe to port by casting overboard a great part of their precious cargo’; like saviors who ‘with a hundred victims save a thousand people, with a thousand ten thousand’. The truth was even more gruesome. Dr. Kastner, in Hungary, for instance, saved exactly 1,684 people with approximately 476,000 victims. In order not to leave the selection to ‘blind fate’, ‘truly holy principles’ were needed 'as the guiding force of the weak human hand which puts down on paper the name of the unknown person and with this decides his life or death’, And whom did these ‘holy principles’ single out for salvation? Those ‘who had worked all their lives for the zibur ' (community)' - i.e., the functionaries - and the ‘most prominent Jews’, as Kastner says in his report.

No one bothered to swear the Jewish officials to secrecy; they were voluntary ‘bearers of secrets’, either in order to assure quiet and prevent panic, as in Dr. Kastner's case, or out of ‘humane’ considerations, such as that ‘living in the expectation of death by gassing would only be the harder’, as in the case of Dr. Leo Baeck, former Chief Rabbi of Berlin. During the Eichmann trial, one witness pointed out the unfortunate consequences of this kind of ‘humanity’ - people volunteered for deportation from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz and denounced those who tried to tell them the truth as being ‘not sane’.

We know the physiognomies of the Jewish leaders during the Nazi period very well; they ranged all the way from Chaim Rumkowski, Eldest of the Jews in Lodz, called Chaim I, who issued currency notes bearing his signature and postage stamps engraved with his portrait, and who rode around in a broken-down horse-drawn carriage; through Leo Baeck, scholarly, mild-mannered, highly educated, who believed Jewish policemen would be ‘more gentle and helpful’ and would ‘make the ordeal easier’ (whereas in fact they were, of course, more brutal and less corruptible, since so much more was at stake for them); to, finally, a few who committed suicide - like Adam Czerniakow, chairman of the Warsaw Jewish Council, who was not a rabbi but an unbeliever, a Polish-speaking Jewish engineer, but who must still have remembered the rabbinical saying: ‘Let them kill you, but don't cross the line’.13


Dr. Arendt's conclusion was that without this collaboration, many lives could have been saved:

'But the whole truth was that there existed Jewish community organizations and Jewish party and welfare organizations on both the local and the international level. Wherever Jews lived, there were recognized Jewish leaders and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazis. The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had leally been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half, and six million people.'14
_______________


N. Friedman - 9/17/2009

Omar,

While I cannot speak for Mr. Green, I can imagine he would note that (a) al-Husseini was committed to the Nazi program of mass extermination Jews - he being a Nazi lover and Antisemite -, (b) al-Husseini reached an agreement with the Nazis that involved Arabs in Palestine exterminating the Jewish population, (c) al-Husseini wrote and delivered radio broadcasts to the Arab regions filled with vile propaganda and calls to annihilate all Jews and (d)al-Husseini remains a revered figure among Palestinian Arabs.

As well known writer Bernard-Henri Lévy states in his book, Left in Dark Times:

First, that Arab anti-Semitism was not, as is always said, a circumstantial anti-Semitism, mainly linked to English support for the nascent Israeli state, which the Arabs therefore saw as a colonial creation: Germany, says the Grand Mufti in a statement the authors discovered, is "the only country in the world that has not merely fought the Jews at home but have declared war on the entirety of world Jewry; in this war against world Jewry, the Arabs feel profoundly connected to Germany"—one could hardly put it better! And second, that there was, stationed in Athens, under the orders of the Obersturmbannführer Walther Rauff the very same man who refined and then developed the use of gas trucks at Auschwitz, a special intervention force, the Einsatzgruppe Ägypten, intended to reach Palestine and liquidate the 500,000 European Jews who had already taken refuge in the Yishuv in the event Rommel won the battle of the desert: this was an Arab unit, and it was al- Husseini who, there again, in his conversations with Eichmann, had put the final touches on the intervention plan, which should indicate his full and entire participation in the Final Solution; and only Montgomery's victory at El Alamein stymied the project for extermination.

Such facts have been meticulously documented by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cuppers in their book Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das "Dritte Reich", die Araber und Palästina (trans. "Crescent Moon and Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine"). A shortened version of the history can be found here. Other facts - e.g. regarding radio propaganda - come from the research of Professor Jeffrey Herf.


omar ibrahim baker - 9/15/2009

And a certain gentleman and ardent Zionist,Elliot Aron Green, blames, chastise and demonizes , here at HNN, the Palestinian leader, Hajj Amin Al Husseini, for having, in his search for an ally among the great powers against the Zionist /British / Imperialist onslaught on Palestine , certain relations with Germany which , at the time , happened to have a Nazi regime in power!
It is NOT here a question of a double standard but rather a question of absolutely NO standard at all that did then govern, and still does, dictate and characterize all Zionist Israeli behavior ever since.