Almost two decades have been gone since Finkelstein published his book “The Holocaust Industry” which stirred a lot of discussions worldwide. Nowadays the thesis of the book would no longer been controversial, says Finkelstein. He wanted to show how the Holocaust has been used as an ideological weapon to deflect critique at the conduct of Israeli governments. Furthermore the genocide was a financial weapon, instrumental for the “shakedown of Europe” in the 1990ies. In doing so the Jewish Claims Conference in the U.S. was misappropriating money and not transferring the full compensation sums to the Holocaust survivors. Finkelstein, son of two Holocaust survivors, recalls how his mother got only three thousand dollars through the Jewish Claims Conference while his father received monthly checks directly by the German state until his death.
Norman Finkelstein, political scientist from the U.S. and author of several books about the Israel-Palestine conflict. His latest book is: “Gaza. An Inquest into Its Martyrdom”.
David Goeßmann: My last question: Your book “The Holocaust Industry” has created a lot of discussion in Germany when it came out in 2000. Explain what the Holocaust industry is, what you found out and what you respond to critics who say the study is inaccurate and serves anti-Semitic attitudes.
Norman Finkelstein: Well, let’s start from the end. The book is no longer controversial. I mean at the time I wrote the book, I said that Israel has used the Nazi Holocaust to sell a weapon, an ideological weapon, basically for political reasons, to silence criticism of Israel by saying that after all the suffering Jews have endured, they shouldn’t be held to the same moral, legal standards as everybody else, that was the whole point in this. The Nazi Holocaust is incomparable, it’ unique. If the suffering was unique, then it shouldn’t be held to conventional moral-legal standards. It should be held to a unique standard, because of its unique suffering. So it was being used as a political weapon. And it was also being used at the time – because I was writing in the 1990s – a financial weapon, a shakedown of Europe. The so called holocaust compensation reparations. Nobody any longer denies that Israel uses the Holocaust as a political weapon and even Abraham Berg, the former head of the Israeli Knesset in his book on the Nazi Holocaust referred on page 4 to the Holocaust Industry – that expression. At the time everybody was so indignant – how could I use that expression. Now it’s just passed into a commonplace – the Holocaust Industry. And as to the financial side, the top person in the world, Raul Hilberg, the founder of the whole field of Holocaust studies who authored the standard three-volume “The destruction of the European Jews” – Hilberg said: Not only were my findings right, not only were they meticulous, he said they were conservative. The actual picture of the shakedown, the racket was much worse. He was the one who said – before me by the way, in 1999 – I’m quoting him: “For the first time in history the Jews are using the blackmail weapon.”
David Goeßmann: And what groups were involved?
Norman Finkelstein: It was a lot of the Jewish organizations in the United States, mostly it was the World Jewish Congress, run by this multi-billionaire blowhard named Edgar Bronfman and his sidekick Rabbi Israel Singer. Singer ended up stealing. It was funny because they were attacking the Swiss because of their secret Swiss bank accounts. It turned out that he was stealing money from the World Jewish Congress and where was he putting it? In a secret Swiss bank account. Singer disappeared from the scene. As most of them, most of them ended up being in jail or crooks. Alan Hevesi, Burt Neuborne… He used to say “I do everything pro bono”. I called him the pro bono Holocaust huckster. He ended up taking 4 million from the German case. He tried for 4 million from the Swiss case. Finally even the New York Times which had supported the Holocaust shakedown from the beginning to the end, even they ran an editorial, saying, look Mr. Neuborne, this is getting a little bit unseemly, a little bit embarrassing, you’re such a crook. So the only one who ended up out of jail was me.
David Goeßmann: And you said, that the Germans actually paid better to the Holocaust survivors than the Jewish Claims Conference.
Norman Finkelstein: Yes, the German record on reparations was very good. I mean you may question their motives but the record was good, I mean the sums they paid out. The problem is a part of the money they gave to the Jewish Claims Conference, which I prefer to call the Jewish Crooks Conference. And the money just didn’t go to the survivors. My father got paid directly from the Germans. I got a check promptly every month, I remember. I can see it in my mind’s eye, it’s so long ago no. It used to come in a distinctive blue envelope, I remember the return address was Hannover. And he got it every month. Even when he was dying, when he was in the hospital, I had to go to the German consulate each month and certify that he was still alive. They were sticklers. It’s the law, it’s Germans. So I had to certify he was still alive but until the last day he got the checks. My mother, for reasons not worth going into, was supposed to be paid through the Jewish Claims Conference – the Jewish Crooks Conference – and she got 3,000 Dollars. In total.