Destroying Ancient Jewish Communities is Necessary to Establish Israel
Holding the future generations of a people collectively responsible for the crimes of previous generations is a malicious behavior that may lead to the perpetration of crimes. Present and future generations should not be subjected to legal, physical, financial, or psychological burden, guilt, or torture for the policies and practices of their forefathers. Since World War II, successive German governments have acquiesced, participating through policies and practices, to hold the German people (past, present, and future) responsible for the crimes committed by the Nazis against Germans and European Jews. Often, victorious countries force conditions on the defeated ones. This was the case after both World Wars I and II when the allied powers pressured defeated Germany to pay war reparations in the amount of $56 billion ($33 billion and $23 billion, respectively). In comparison, the entire cost of the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe from the destruction of World War II was $13.3 billion – Germany’s share was around 10 percent or $1.391 billion. In addition, the victors required Germany to make reparation payments to world Jewry and Israel, a condition set for Germany to “rejoin the family of nations.” 1 Although Poland and Greece suffered devastating damage and lost 5.6 million and 330,000 civilians, respectively, Germany repeatedly refused to enter into agreements to compensate those countries as it had with Israel (which did not exist at the time of World War II). The assumption that Israel represents all Jews and thus is entitled to German reparation payments is a fallacy if not a fraudulent criminal act.
The majority of German Jews were loyal Germans who stood against Zionism, a political ideology that aimed to empty Europe of its Jewish population, transporting Jews out of Europe for the purpose of colonizing Palestine. Clearly illustrating this ideological position, Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism and the Zionist Organization, later renamed the World Zionist Organization (WZO), went further to lay out the mechanism by which to remove the Jews from Europe. He said,
We must not imagine the departure of the Jews to be a sudden one. It will be gradual, continuous, and will cover many decades. The poorest will go first to cultivate the soil. In accordance with a preconceived plan, they will construct roads, bridges, railways, and telegraph installations; regulate rivers; and build their own dwellings; their labor will create trade, trade will create markets, and markets will attract new settlers, for every man will go voluntarily, at his own expense and his own risk. 2
Since 1897, the Zionists had aimed to establish a Jewish state; the safety and well-being of European Jews and Jewish refugees outside of this Jewish state were not of interest or a priority. This explains why Zionist-controlled Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish Agency of the WZO (later the government of Israel), did close to nothing to safeguard the rights of European Jews in their countries of origin or to settle the Jewish refugees outside of Palestine. Once again referring to the goal of removing Jewish communities from Europe, Herzl resorted to the following analogy, “If I wish to substitute a new building for an old one, I must demolish before I construct. I shall therefore keep to this natural sequence.” 3 Clearly, Herzl had no issue with destroying existing ancient Jewish communities to achieve the Zionist objective of establishing a Jewish state.
Most German Jews stood against the Zionist schemes to establish a state for the Jews in Palestine, Uganda, or Argentina. To the relatively influential and affluent German Jews, the establishment of a Jewish state was an attempt to solve the socio-economic problems of Eastern European Jews, not their own problems. 4 In 1897, the Munich Jewish community prevented Zionist Jews from holding their first official Congress in the city. The Congress was moved to Basel, Switzerland, instead. This position was clearly illustrated later when Germany’s Jews, along with many other Jewish communities worldwide, opposed Zionist collaboration with Nazi Germany in 1933.
The Haavara-Transfer Agreement: Nazi–Zionism Collaboration
Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Immediately thereafter, Jewish organizations began to agitate for and organize an international boycott of German goods to bring about meaningful changes or an end to the Nazi program that aimed at making Germany judenrein or “cleansed of Jews.” While the international boycott efforts were underway and gaining momentum worldwide, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, under the direction of the Jewish Agency for Palestine (also Germany’s main partner in the Luxembourg Agreement of 1952), and the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland (the Zionist Federation of Germany) signed an agreement on August 7, 1933, with the German Ministry of Economics in Berlin. The signed document, called the Haavara-Transfer Agreement (Haavara was a new company created in Tel Aviv specifically for this purpose), allowed German Jewish citizens who intended to relocate to Palestine to liquidate their properties and convert the proceeds in foreign currency to be deposited in a German Jewish Trust for the purchase of German products to be shipped and sold in Palestine.
In 1933, there were 523,000 Jews in Germany. Between 1933 and 1939, only 60,000 German Jews chose to relocate to Palestine and to convert and transfer their money. At the time of the agreement, the dealing, converting, and possession of foreign currency in Germany was limited to official business. German Jewish citizens deposited money into an account at PALTREU (Palästina Treuhandstelle zur Beratung deutscher Juden), a German Jewish Trust company for the purchase and shipment of German goods, which Haavara then sold in Palestine in Palestinian pounds. The revenues from the sale of the German products in Palestinian currency were then paid out to those German Jews who had already left Germany to colonize Palestine. The total amount transferred was 140,000,000 reichsmark (at the time, the equivalent of $40,419,000 or 8,100,000 Palestinian pounds) through the German Reichsbank. 5 The Haavara Agreement lasted until World War II despite stiff Nazi Party opposition to ending it. Ernst Marcus, a Zionist Jew involved in negotiating the Haavara-Transfer Agreement, however, believed it had Hitler’s approval. 6 Between 1938 and 1940, Nazi Germany was working on a second plan for the forceful removal of European Jews to the French-colonized and -controlled island of Madagascar. Germany’s Madagascar Plan called for a German Mandate over the island and the creation there of a Jewish self-rule. 7 This plan was not implemented due to the start of the war. In 1917, Great Britain issued a declaration (the Balfour Declaration) addressed to Lord Rothschild sympathizing with Jewish Zionist aspirations for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The WZO pursued similar schemes to transport European Jews to colonize Argentina, Canada, Australia, Iraq, Libya, and Uganda. 8 The WZO, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany thus shared a common objective: to empty Europe of its Jewish population and transfer the Jews to a non-European piece of territory.
The aim of the Nazi government was to cleanse Germany of its Jews, increase the export of German goods to Palestine to help the depressed German economy to recover, and to break the potentially crippling international Jewish boycott. In The Transfer Agreement: The Untold Story of the Secret Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, Edwin Black details how the WZO broke the anti-Nazi boycott to achieve its ultimate colonial objective by increasing Jewish German emigration to Palestine to strengthen the Jewish presence in the country. 9 As a party to the agreement, the Jewish Agency in Palestine, recognized by the Nazi German government as the guardian and representative of German Jewish citizens, negotiated their removal from their country of origin. This meant that German Jews were no longer Germans with recognized rights in Germany. The Zionists saw the Haavara-Transfer Agreement as an opportunity to transport affluent German Jews to Palestine where their active involvement would lead to its ultimate colonization and development. Obviously, poor German Jews did not have property to liquidate or money to deposit or an affordable way to leave Germany. The agreement did not include them. The interests of both parties coincided. However, agreements like the Haavara-Transfer and the Luxembourg Agreement make it abundantly clear that the interests of Israel and Jewish citizens of other countries were not the same. The Haavara-Transfer Agreement was opposed by Jewish organizations worldwide as it undermined the international campaign to boycott German goods as a rational and peaceful approach to change the Nazi policy against Jews in Germany, one that also seemed likely to easily find allies and supporters. The failure of the boycott campaign ended any chance of influencing Nazi Germany to change course. The Jewish Agency and the Zionist Federation of Germany participated in stripping German Jews of all their rights as German citizens in Germany. Could the boycott have succeeded? Could some, or all, Jews have been saved?
This mechanization by the Jewish Agency then and the Israeli government today has surfaced again through the close cooperation between Israel and European governments and political parties, including far-right groups in Europe and the United States. In addition to counting on the support of Germany, France, and many other members of the EU, Israel courts leaders both in and out of government, such as Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, Beatrix von Storch of Germany, Andreas Mölzer of Austria, Michaël Modrikamen of Belgium, and Marine Le Pen of France. Some of these leaders were welcomed warmly by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In the European Parliament, 15 members of far-right political parties formed a group called Friends of Judea and Samaria (referring to Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967) to counter initiatives by the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) to boycott goods produced by Israeli settlements and to label them as such. 10 Israeli settlements are being established on stolen Palestinian land in violation of international law and many UN resolutions. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of July 17, 1998, both the presence of Israeli settlers and the establishment of Israeli settlements on Palestinian soil are considered crimes against humanity. 11 EU governments, particularly the governments of France and Germany, were quick to adopt the extreme Israeli position, declaring BDS activism, which ultimately aims to put an end to the policies and practices of Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid against the Palestinian people, as antisemitic. 12 In the United States, Christian Zionists are one of Israel’s staunchest allies. Christian Zionists believe that the establishment of Israel is a fulfillment of an end-times prophecy and a harbinger for Armageddon where blood will flow, and Jews will be given the option to convert to Christianity or be slaughtered – while a few thousand Christians will be raptured and saved. 13
Israel is aware of the antisemitic nature of its allies both in Europe and the United States. The Israeli government is clearly willing to cooperate and coordinate with such groups for what it sees as in the best interest of Israel. To them, as was the case with the leaders of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Zionist Federation of Germany before them, far-right parties are here to stay; some of them already have members in government. Israel cannot be choosy about choosing its friends or with whom to deal. According to Zionist thinking, if it is in the interest of the State of Israel to enter into agreements with or deal with such groups, then so be it – the end justifies the means.
The Luxembourg Agreement: Nature and Impact of Germany’s Reparation Payments
After World War II, some experts argued that reparation payments were an ethical issue and thus should be paid directly to the victims, not linked to political and economic issues. Others indicated that by paying reparations, Germany would recognize and accept its legal and moral responsibility toward individuals and families who suffered from the Nazis’ heinous crimes. In an address to the German Bundestag on October 27, 1951, Chancellor Adenauer declared, “Germany was responsible for the atrocities committed by the National Socialist regime.” 14 Chancellor Adenauer’s statement would have been true if all victims of Nazi Germany, regardless of religious belief, were included, benefited, and treated the same by a universal act of German moral accountability. However, by limiting most reparation payments to Jews and Israel, Germany made political decisions that favored Jews and Israel, discriminating against all others. Also, by providing reparation money to Israel, clearly Germany took a political side, inserting itself in a brewing regional violent conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. Germany’s unconditional support has enabled Israel to inflict some of the same horrors that Nazi Germany practiced against European Jews. Professor Ofer Cassif of the Hebrew University has compared Israeli policies to those of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany. 15
From 1951 to the present, Germany continues to provide ample material, moral, and legal compensation to Nazi victims and their families. The agreements that Germany entered with 29 countries (including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Poland, Greece, and Ukraine) provided approximately $1.51 billion for the benefit of their nationals. None of that money went to the building of governmental infrastructure such as ports and roads, the importation of machinery for state-owned plants, or the acquisition of war equipment for a standing army or navy as happened when Israel was the recipient. In the case of German payments to Israel and the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC), some Jewish recipients of German reparations had no connection to the Holocaust or Germany – for example, the 25,000 Algerian Jews who were an integral part of the French brutal colonial presence, policies, and practices in Algeria.
If Germany wanted to take ownership of and settle its responsibility to the victims of World War II, it should have created a mechanism to directly compensate the victims and their families. No third party was necessary, and none should have been appointed. In the case of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Israel and the JCC were named as the legal representatives of all Jewish victims. The JCC was established in 1952 by 23 Jewish organizations to represent all Jews in the reparation negotiations with Germany, leading to the Luxembourg Agreement. Most surviving Jewish victims of the Holocaust refused to enter into an arrangement of reparation payments as a compensation for their pain and suffering. In 1952, thousands of Jewish protesters demonstrated in Israel; hundreds were arrested and approximately 200 protesters and 140 policemen were injured. The agreement with Germany was finally adopted by the Knesset by a 61 to 50 margin. 16
For their own reasons, many Germans were also against this kind of arrangement. For example, in Bavaria, 106 out of the ruling Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union’s 214 MPs did not support the Luxembourg Agreement of 1952. The German Democratic Republic refused outright to enter a similar transaction, though it offered certain privileges to victims of the Nazis on its soil. However, Israel had no qualms about reaching such a transactional arrangement with Germany, using German reparation money to build its military and economic capabilities. Certainly, once an agreement was reached and signed between Israel and Germany, the issue of German responsibility for the Holocaust should have come to an end as is the custom in both domestic and international law – no additional steps are necessary once a crime is established, a judgment is rendered or a settlement is reached, and a punishment is served out or an amount is agreed to, paid out, and received. However, this has not been the case.
Germany–Israeli Relationship: The Necessity of Secrecy
In a democracy, lack of public participation, knowledge, awareness, or debate often leads to secrecy, and secrecy leads to the violation of existing laws by those who take an oath to protect and defend them. Another illegitimate aspect of the relationship between Germany and Israel is that the German public fund is being used in violation of basic norms of democratic discourse and existing German export control laws that prohibit aid and the export of German weapon systems to regimes that violate human rights and perpetuate regional violent conflicts. “German exports should neither intensify conflicts nor contribute to internal repression or other severe human rights violations in crisis areas. Its international involvement obliges the Federal Republic of Germany not to burden its foreign relations by critical exports.” 17
Long before Germany and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1965, both governments decided on a secret path to conduct and control their relations to keep them out of the public discourse. This clandestine relationship was made clear in a 1991 statement issued by the German Defense Ministry, “Since the beginning of cooperation with Israel, it is continuous practice of all governments to structure and formalize this cooperation in the least public [way]possible.” 18 This channel was entrusted by both governments to their intelligence agencies: the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the Mossad. This type of secrecy automatically raises many questions about the possibility of wrongdoing. In a democracy, matters between states that involve public funds, human rights, armaments, and technological transfers are transparent, debated openly, and controlled by representatives of the people – certainly not by spies.
The German and the Israeli public get glimpses of the extent of the relationship between the two countries only when related political scandals erupt, and even then, the German media reluctantly reports about it. As the Israeli press tends to be more open in reporting about the nature and scope of the German and Israeli collaboration, the German people are largely left in the dark. To date, the media have reported on three political scandals: the transfer by Germany of military hardware from the former German Democratic Republic; the ongoing corruption surrounding the sale of German Dolphin-class submarines to Israel; and the fact that German-supplied Dolphin submarines to Israel are designed to carry and deliver nuclear warheads, posing a threat to regional and world peace.
To keep this relationship secret and to prevent criticism, politicians pass laws disingenuously labeled anti-Semitism laws to criminalize public debate on the Holocaust; Israeli policies and practices against the Palestinians; and actions to boycott, divest, and end investment (BDS) in settler colonial apartheid Israel. Any discussion of the Holocaust outside of the officially accepted narrative, criticism of the criminal policies and practices of Israel in the region, or BDS action against Israel either risks those involved being labeled anti-Semites or being criminally charged, or both. Stifling debate on Israeli policies and practices, using intimidation tactics to dissuade people from exercising their right to express their views and to be involved is not limited to Germany. Unfortunately, with Germany setting the example, disingenuously labeled anti-Semitism laws are being enacted throughout member states of the European Union and the United States. 19
Germany is one of the few countries that has passed legislation criminalizing criticism of and actions against the policies and practices of Israel, equating such criticism and actions with anti-Semitism. The United States is another. In significant parts of the United States, individuals, organizations, universities, businesses, and media outlets are being forced to certify that they do not support or participate in the boycott against Israel. Several legal actions have been filed by plaintiffs who claim that their right to free speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution has been violated. Some lower courts have decided in favor of the plaintiffs. However, the final legal battle has yet to be settled in law by higher courts. In a victory for free speech under the First Amendment, on January 28, 2022, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an injunction that blocks Texas from enforcing its anti-boycott law against the Plaintiff in this case. 20 Originating in Israel, these laws were instigated by Israel’s supporters and lobbyists in various countries to achieve the same Israeli objective: end the right of people to exercise free speech or to act peacefully to change their own governments’ policies and practices toward Israel. 21 Such laws, if permitted to stand, guarantee that the nature and scope of the relationship between Germany and Israel remain secret, a taboo – in a true democracy, there is no such thing as a taboo. Clearly, Germany is undermining its own democratic principles to keep its unconditional support for Israel from being scrutinized by its people.
In 1897 (36 years before Hitler came to power in Germany), European Jews began officially to organize and work to create a state for the Jews, establishing the Jewish Colonial Fund toward that purpose. In 1948, 51 years after the first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland, European Jews succeeded, with the aid of Western colonial powers, in colonizing Palestine (after the schemes to establish Israel in Uganda or Argentina had failed) and establishing Israel on land largely and clearly owned by the Palestinian people. Israel swiftly moved to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its indigenous Palestinian population, replacing it at first with European Jewish colonists transported from Europe and absorbed mainly through German reparation payments. From 1947 to 1949, approximately 700,000 Palestinians were evicted 22 while 717,923 Jewish colonists, of whom 373,852 were Holocaust survivors, immigrated to Palestine. 23 Palestinians who remained in their ancestral towns and cities were segregated and subjected to military control and dominance by Israel.
This system of control and dominance continues to employ a matrix of policies and practices aimed at controlling all aspects of Palestinian life, keeping ethnic communities apart, and favoring Jews over Palestinians. Germany’s reparation payments directly enabled Israel to colonize Palestine and ethnically cleanse most of its indigenous Palestinian population, denying their right to return to their properties or receive compensation. To this day, Israel has not allowed Palestinian refugees to return to their properties as required by international law and numerous UN resolutions, nor have Palestinians received any reparation payments from Germany or Israel for the crimes of settler colonialism and apartheid that continue to be inflicted on them continuously.
Germany’s Reparation Payments in Numbers
The recorded number of German reparations paid out in German deutsche marks (DM) is confusing, contradictory, and hard to accurately calculate. Germany switched from using deutsche marks to euros on January 1, 1999. The value and cost have changed through the years between 1949 and 2021. As a result, it is a daunting task to arrive at a 2021 value amount of the various reparation payments made by Germany over a period of 70 years. Also, using the exact figures that were approved, allocated, and disbursed over the years can be grossly misleading. Experts tend to resort to estimates which vary between the sources used here. According to the German Federal Ministry of Finance publication “Wiedergutmachung: Provisions Relating to Compensation for National Socialist Injustice” (2021), Western occupying powers passed acts between 1947 and 1949 to compensate those who suffered damage or had property confiscated because of race, religion, or ideology by National Socialist injustice. This publication lists 26 acts, of which 20 apply specific categories as the basis of universal compensation covering all victims regardless of race, religion, and ideology while the remaining six acts benefit largely or exclusively the JCC and Israel. It also lists the amount disbursed under each act up to December 31, 2020. Annex 1, representing public sector compensation payments, which shows that the German Federal government made allocations and disbursements totaling €79 billion while Annex 2, representing compensation paid by the Länder (German States) outside of the Federal Compensation Act 1950 to 2020, shows the Länder paid €36.519 billion in compensation for a compensation total of €115.519 billion. Under the Luxembourg Agreement, Germany pledged DM3 billion to Israel and DM450 million to the JCC, 24 to be paid within ten years in large part in German commodities and services to cover the cost of “expanding opportunities for the settlement and rehabilitation of Jewish refugees in Israel.” 25
According to the report, in later years, Germany allocated additional funds to be distributed through JCC to compensate all sorts of Jewish victims, including a one-time payment of DM5000 (€2,556) in 1980 to enable Jews from Eastern Europe to emigrate to Israel; a one-time payment of €2,556 in 1988 for Jewish and non-Jewish victims who were prosecuted because of their political opposition to National Socialism or on the grounds of race, religion, and ideology; a one-time payment of €2,556 in 1998 for Jews living in Central and Eastern Europe; a one-time payment of €2,556 in 2012 to individual Jews who were not yet born at the time of persecution, but suffered in the womb of their persecuted pregnant mothers; a one-time payment of €2,500 in 2018 for the transport of children evacuees. Between 2002 and 2020, payments totaling €2.57 billion were paid to various recipients dealing with specific circumstances: synagogues and their contents, movable property and household effects, the property of self-employed persons, security rights over land and bank account balances, assets of organizations, the clothing industry, securities, businesses without immovable property, small shareholdings, and shareholders of I-G Farben. 26 I-G Farben, an insolvent giant German chemical company that manufactured the gas that killed Nazi concentration camp prisoners.
According to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, for the last 70 years Germany has set aside $90 billion for Holocaust survivors. 27 In 2021, figures published by the German Federal Foreign Office did not diverge greatly from the estimates arrived at by experts:
Ever since the Luxembourg Agreement of 1952 (payment of some €1.53 billion), the question of reparations has been an important political issue in relations between the State of Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany. So far, Germany has paid more than €74 billion in reparations, including approximately €29 billion that has been paid to victims of Nazi persecution living in Israel. 28
After World War II, Germany was borrowing to rebuild and had no surplus to spare. In fact, Germany borrowed from the United States to survive. In addition to reparation payments, German financial, educational, technical, and military contributions to Israel include:
Military armaments and technological transfers.
Legitimizing and facilitating a European Union–Israeli partnership aimed at strengthening Israeli economic performance.
Partnering with and integrating Israel into NATO to enhance its military and technological capabilities, access, and performance.
Partnerships with, among others, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which awards grants to enable many Israelis to study and conduct research in Germany.
Collaboration and partnership with organizations such as Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. 29 (Worth noting here is that this museum, as with Israel itself, was built on land stolen from the Palestinian village of Ein Karim, considered the birthplace of John the Baptist. Ein Karim was ethnically cleansed in 1948, its people denied their right to return or compensation).
Germany’s reparation payments and military support enabled Israel to:
Intensify, expand, solidify, and maintain its colonization of Palestine that had begun in 1933.
Ethnically cleanse most of the Palestinians, expel them to neighboring countries, prevent their return, and destroy or steal their properties. Those who remained under Israeli control were segregated from Israeli Jews. Palestine was carved into disjointed Bantustans that were kept apart from each other by military checkpoints, separation walls and Israeli institutionalized discriminatory policies, laws, and regulations. Palestinians’ basic rights to move around, travel within and between their communities, worship in their churches and mosques and visit their religious and cultural capital Jerusalem, seek medical attention, attend schools and universities, plant and harvest their crops, build and renovate their homes, and conduct social, cultural, and business relations have been curtailed and often disrupted and denied. To this day, Palestinian communities are placed under Israeli military law, control, and dominance, unlike Israeli Jews whose rights are guaranteed and protected. Palestinians are demonized, humiliated, oppressed, imprisoned for long periods of time without charge or trial, and killed and maimed for being Palestinians. The entire Israeli political system is designed to favor Israeli Jews, catering to ever-increasing Jewish extremism, settler colonial expansion, and apartheid.
Destroy more than 530 Palestinian villages and city sections to prevent Palestinians from ever returning to their villages and homes. The remaining Palestinian cities and villages are discriminated against by the government. Israeli Jewish communities receive more government aid, economic development attention, and construction projects and permits.
Loot and confiscate the property of the Palestinian people including land, homes, personal belongings, farms, factories, bank accounts, books, art, etc.
Cause wars, loss of life, destruction, plunder, and mayhem in the region by refusing to implement UN resolutions and international law and conventions calling on Israel to respect human rights and dignity and demanding that Palestinians be allowed to return to their properties and to establish a viable Palestinian state. Israel’s adamant refusal to live by international law and norms creates dangerous conditions that threaten world peace and security.
Beyond The Luxembourg Agreement
According to the Luxembourg Agreement of 1952, German reparation payments were to last for ten years from 1953 to 1963. 30 To this day, payments have not ended. In fact, reparation payments continue and are not presently limited only to payments paid by the German government. In 2000, the German government and German companies that had profited from forced labor during the war (including Volkswagen, Daimler, Chrysler, Bayer, and Deutsche Bank) jointly created the Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future foundation to compensate for forced labor. This fund was not limited to compensating Jewish laborers, Jewish organizations, or Israel. Benefiting 1.7 million people (of which 1.66 million were forced laborers paid €4.37 billion) the fund has paid out €4.4 billion ($5.8 billion) in recent years. 31 Each laborer or their heirs received €7,700 ($10,300 dollars) making the total amount dispersed by the fund around €13.1 billion ($17.5 billion). According to the “Wiedergutmachung” report, the capital of this fund was DM10.1 billion (€5.16 billion euros). 32 A simple calculation shows that €5.16 billion would not be sufficient to pay 1.7 million people the mandated amount of €7,700 euros.
Out of the 373,852 Holocaust survivors living in Israel at the end of 1952, approximately 140,000 were alive in January 2020 with an average age of 85. A significant number of the survivors have been living in poverty from decades of neglect by the Israeli government which used German reparation payments in the billions of DM and euros for purposes other than providing modest living conditions and a dignified life to the survivors. 33 In 2015, Susan Rotem, a volunteer with the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors, described Israel’s approach, “The Israeli government divides the money as it sees fit … It feels like they are a bother to our government which is just waiting for them to pass away.” 34 In January 2020, then Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, himself the son of a Holocaust survivor, bluntly said, “Nothing was done for years. It was a disgrace.” 35 Israel’s criminal neglect of Holocaust survivors for decades does not absolve Germany from its moral responsibility to directly help Israeli Jewish survivors and to perform due diligence to ensure the payments go directly to the survivors and their families. Instead, Germany has acquiesced to the notion that Israel represents the interest of Israeli Jewish survivors and has their best interest at heart. History has proven both Germany and Israel wrong.
In his book The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, Israeli historian Tom Segev 36 shows that German reparation payments to the Israeli government did not benefit individual Jewish survivors of the crimes of Nazi Germany or their families. Reparation payments made by Germany to Israel went to:
Absorb 500,000 German and East European Jews who, both before and after the Nazi regime came to power in Germany, were involved in colonizing and ethnically cleansing Palestine for the benefit of the Jews. Most housing units were for Jews.
Purchase equipment and raw material for 1,300 industrial plants owned by the state for the benefit of Jews only – the bulk of the money went to 36 factories.
Develop seaports, railroads, water supplies, oil drilling, mining, and purchase equipment for construction and agriculture.
Acquire 50 ships, including two passenger liners, or two-thirds of Israel’s merchant marine fleet.
Procure armaments and spare parts.
A quick glance at the known facts will lead an objective observer to conclude that through its reparation payments to Israel, Germany actively engaged in aiding and abetting the settler colonization of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous people, and the looting of their properties, establishing and maintaining an apartheid state for Israeli Jews and their sole benefit, as well as continually skirting its own laws and interests to satisfy the never-ending Israeli appetite for regional control, dominance, and expansion. Two months after Israel was established, David Ben Gurion became its first prime minister. He described the looting of Palestinian properties in Palestine by people under his command in four striking words, “Most Jews are thieves.” 37 His words exposed an official policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians and prevent them from ever returning to their homes and properties. This conclusion has been confirmed by the well-documented works of many Israeli historians, including Ilan Pappé and Adam Raz. 38 In October 2014, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin described a hate-filled Israeli society as “a sick society.” 39 In May 2016, the deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Major General Yair Golan, compared the social trends in Israeli society to “Nazi-era Germany and Europe in the 1930s.” General Golan was referring to the murder of a wounded Palestinian by an Israeli soldier. In its aftermath, thousands of Israeli Jews gathered in Tel Aviv to praise the soldier and demand his release, shouting, “Death to Arabs.” 40 According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between 2008 and 2020, Israel murdered at least 5,600 Palestinians, including approximately 2,200 children, and injured 115,000. Palestinians are killed and injured simply for being Palestinians. 41
Germany and the United States are the main enablers of Israeli colonization and apartheid. Between 1949 and 2018 the United States contributed more than $132 billion in actual US dollars. On September 14, 2016, the United States signed a third Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel covering 2019 to 2028. In this MOU, the US promised to contribute an additional $38 billion. This will bring the total amount of the United States’ military aid to Israel to approximately $170 billion. 42 Germany is the second largest supplier of weapons to Israel, right after the United States. Between 2009 and 2018, Germany supplied 24 percent of Israel’s imported weapons – the United States’ share was 70 percent. Between 2015 and 2019 Germany sold Israel weapons worth €862 million. 43 Both United States and German military support and export to Israel violates the letter and spirit of clear federal laws. The United States violates the US Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts, which prohibit US weapons from being used for non-defensive purposes. In the case of Germany, it violates Article 26 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany 44 and the goals of the existing German export control law. The German Federal government states,
All exports of military equipment are subject to a license, which is only issued following detailed scrutiny of each case. The German government pays particular attention to ensuring that the goods will not be misused to commit human rights violations or to exacerbate a crisis. 45
It is common knowledge that Israel, a settler colonial apartheid state, is continuously engaged in violating international law and numerous UN resolutions on the question of Palestine; breaching the basic human rights of the Palestinian people; fomenting violence and regional conflicts that threaten world peace and security; acquiring weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them (nuclear, biological, and chemical). Even on the few occasions when countries such as the United States, France, and Great Britain have stopped or placed temporary restrictions on the export of weapons to Israel for its violations and aggressions in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine, and its relentless violent discriminatory policies and practices in occupied Palestinian and Syrian lands, Germany has continued unabashed. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said, “I want to state very clearly: Israel will get what it needs for the preservation of its security.” 46 In 2008, in an emotional speech to the Israeli Parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Israel’s security is “part of Germany’s raison d’être.” 47 Schroeder and Merkel failed to mention if maintaining military occupation and control over Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese land, the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the segregation of ethnic communities, and the violation of international law and norms fit within Germany’s definition of “Israeli security” and “Germany’s raison d’être.” And if Germany wants to atone for its National Socialist past, why does it continue to aid and abet Israel in repeating the Nazis’ violent and racist policies and practices?
Indeed, due to the secret nature of the relationship, Israel receives from Germany whatever military equipment, technological knowledge, equipment blueprints, and spare parts that it orders – not necessarily what it needs. Some of this equipment, knowledge, blueprints, and spare parts finds its way to other countries that the German Parliament does not permit export to under the existing German export control law, including India, China, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Most of the German military export to Israel is provided through German financial aid. Re-exporting such equipment to third parties provides Israel with huge profits (with no cost involved), competing with German industries that must pay for the research and development, as well as the production costs of such products and knowledge, and risking the revelation of German industrial secrets to other foreign companies and countries. Israel’s technology transfer was not limited to its deals with the five countries mentioned above.
During South Africa’s apartheid era from 1948 to 1994, some Western countries, for legal and moral reasons, refused to supply the apartheid regime with weapon systems. Israel stepped in and instantly became Apartheid South Africa’s closest ally and supplier of weapons, nuclear material, and military-industrial technical know-how. 48 In return, Apartheid South Africa funded some of Israel’s ambitious military-industrial projects and turned out to be the main customer for such weapon systems and provided it with the technical knowledge to operate and develop its own military weapon systems and industry. By the late 1970s Apartheid South Africa was the largest customer for Israeli weapons. Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, a Boer white South African who held various military and cabinet posts including the prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 to 1924 and 1939 to 1948, maintained close ideological affinity and communication with Chaim Weizmann who was the president of the WZO in 1917 and the president of Israel from 1949 to 1952. 49 Smuts and Weizmann met in London in June 1917 and actively lobbied the British government on behalf of the Zionist colonial objective in Palestine. Their efforts culminated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which Balfour stated in part, “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people …” The ideological affinity (both shared settler colonial apartheid systems that seek to control and dominate the indigenous population and regional dominance) between the two settler colonial apartheid countries continued after Israel was established in 1948. The relationship grew and intensified during the administration of John Vorster who served as Apartheid South Africa’s prime minister from 1966 to 1978 and as the fourth state president from 1978 to 1979. Israeli leaders were not bothered by the known fact that Vorster had been a vocal supporter of Hitler, a member of Apartheid South Africa’s violently antisemitic Ossewabrandwag (an Afrikaans term meaning “ox wagon sentinels” or “ox wagon guard”) and was imprisoned during the war as a Nazi agitator and sympathizer. 50 Yitzhak Rabin (Israeli general chief of staff from 1964 to 1968, ambassador to the United States from 1968 to 1973, minister of defense from 1984 to 1990, and prime minister from 1974 to 1977 and from 1992 until he was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli Jew) and Shimon Peres (Israel’s president from 2007 to 2014, prime minister from 1984 to 1986, and defense minister from 1995 to 1996) were very generous in their praise of Vorster and the main architects of the Israeli relationship with Apartheid South Africa. The two countries shared technical information and jointly developed and tested nuclear weapons. (Apartheid South Africa had six nuclear devices and Israel is reported to have from 200 to 400 nuclear bombs. South Africa dismantled its six nuclear bombs when the apartheid system ended in 1993.) 51 Apartheid South Africa received 30 grams of tritium, which gives thermonuclear weapons the necessary boost to their explosive power and provided Israel with much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel needed to build its nuclear weapons. 52 In 1963 Israel and Dassault of France signed a contract to develop a family of ballistic missiles called Jericho, a reference to the biblical city of Jericho. The knowledge gained from this contract was sold to Apartheid South Africa to develop and produce its family of ballistic missiles by the name of Chalet. The ballistic missiles were needed to deliver their nuclear bombs. During the 1973 War, Israel was willing and ready to use its nuclear weapons against its neighbors. South Africa’s nuclear weapons were constantly aimed at the largest black townships, Soweto, Mamelodi, and Gugulethu to quickly wipe out millions of people. They were based on gun-type and implosion-type designs in the shape of cannonballs to be fired from large long-range cannons. Both countries also collaborated in the production of their jet fighter that was identical to the French Mirage 5 using blueprint copies stolen by Israeli agents from the same company, Dassault. The Israeli copy was called Kfir (Hebrew for Lion Cub) and the South African copy was called Cheetah. Were the animal names attributed to both jet fighters accidentally? Later, Israel sold a prototype of its new Lavi jet fighter (two prototypes were produced before the project was terminated under pressure from the US), the blueprints and technical know-how to China. 53 The Lavi-inspired Chinese version was called J-10 or Vigorous. All Apartheid South African and Israeli cooperation was illegal under the UN arms embargo at the time. Given this Israeli track record, what would prevent Israel from passing on or selling German technical know-how gained from commercial contracts or scientific collaboration to third parties?
Germany–Israeli Military Cooperation
German governmental annual reports that began in 1999 and German Parliamentary inquiries about the nature and size of the German Israeli military relationship are deliberately misleading, showing a distorted picture. If one is to believe the public record, the size of all transactions between 1990 and 2000 was DM2.4 billion. The following examples provide a glimpse of the military relations between the two countries.
German–Israel collaboration began in secret in 1955, three years after the September 1952 Reparations Agreement was signed, nine years before diplomatic relations were established between the two countries, and long before Germany was officially allowed to raise an army, rearm, and manufacture military equipment. In 1944, US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau advocated a plan to reduce Germany to a pre-industrial state by eliminating its arms industry and other key industries essential to military strength. As part of the Potsdam Agreement issued on August 2, 1945, the three victorious powers agreed about, among other things, the reparations to be paid by Germany (not to be confused with the Luxembourg Agreement of 1952 committing Germany to pay reparations for Jewish victims of the Holocaust and Israel as a representative of all Jews), the political and geographical reorganization of Germany, and the disarming and demilitarizing of Germany.
Demilitarization prevented Germany from building military ships. In the first three years of occupation, both the United Kingdom and the United States put in place a vigorous disarmament program to dismantle Germany’s industries. This program became increasingly unpopular, running contrary to the mission of the 1948 Marshall Plan to encourage industrial growth in war-torn Germany to ward off possible communist/Soviet influence. During this period, two major international developments occurred that impacted US strategic thinking about Germany’s rearmament: On August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union detonated the RDS-1 atomic bomb, and on June 25, 1950, the Korean War began where the Soviet Union intervened on the side of North Korea. Both developments had a chilling effect in Europe, forcing a reevaluation of the defense requirements of Western Europe and the possibility of a military action by the Soviet Union via East Germany. The Cold War began in full force. Prior to 1955, all attempts to raise a German army and to rearm Germany were opposed by France and the United Kingdom. However, on May 6, 1955, Germany was finally allowed to join NATO, reintegrate into European defense, gradually raise a military, and rearm. To skirt the limitations placed on it by the allied powers while its industry was dismantled, Germany accommodated Israel’s demand for navy boats by subcontracting with French and British shipyards to build them using German money and parts. As early as 1955, Germany exported patrol boats to Israel after removing any German markings. The export of military equipment has continued ever since.
According to Jane’s Fighting Ships 1999–2000, 54 Germany manufactured and exported 12 corvette missile boats to Israel as “Saar 4” and “Saar 5” between 1990 and 1998. Five of the twelve corvettes received by Israel in 1993 were designated as Super Dvora Mk.2 patrol boats (number and engine type: 2 MTU 12V 396 TE94). Between 1995 and 1996, Israel re-exported 25 of the same class of German patrol boats equipped with similar numbers and engine types to India, Sri Lanka, and Slovenia. Where did the additional 20 corvettes come from?
In 1986, Israel contracted with the German shipbuilder Ingenieurskontor Lübeck to develop the design for a medium-sized submarine with 1,500 tons displacement, a 4,500-kilometer reach, and capable of being used for a variety of purposes (torpedo, mines, special forces deployment, anti-ship missiles, and reconnaissance). Unable to pay for the German submarines on its wish list, Israel turned to the United States. According to the Congressional Research Service, since 2000, more than 70 percent of the annual American aid to Israel has funded military efforts. In 2019, a record 99.7 percent of the $3.3 billion in US aid to Israel was for its military. Annual foreign military assistance from the United States represents about 20 percent of the Israeli military budget. In the beginning, the United States was reluctant to use US funds to procure German-made submarines for Israel. In 1989, after intense lobbying of Congress, the United States relented, agreeing to cover the larger share of the total expected cost of $600 million if Germany covered the balance and if US shipbuilder Litton Ingalls be designated as the prime contractor, at which Israel changed course, deciding to use the American funds for the purchase of other equipment. Litton Ingalls had previously worked on the Israeli corvette Saar 5.
In January 1991, Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government provided an aid package to Israel for DM1.2 billion, of which DM880 million were for the construction of two submarines, DM165 million for a Patriot air defense battery, and the remaining DM155 million for other equipment. Israel wanted a third German submarine under the same financial terms. In February 1995, Germany countered with an offer to pay DM220 million if Israel would pay the balance. The cost of each submarine is estimated at $320 million (some sources put the cost for each submarine at $650 million). Germany ended up paying for 85 percent of the cost of the three submarines that were delivered between 1998 and 2000. According to the Times of Israel (June 30, 2017), Israel received two additional submarines at a cost of $1.3 billion. Germany paid €333 million of the purchase price, or slightly more than a third. In 2011, Israel ordered a sixth Dolphin-class submarine at a cost of $500 to $700 million. Germany agreed to subsidize €135 million of the total cost. On January 20, 2022, Israel and Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purchase and delivery within nine years of three additional submarines, the supply of spare parts, and the building of a training simulator center in Israel in a deal worth €3 billion ($3.4 billion). This deal, similar to the one signed in 2017, comes with a €850 million ($955.3 million) German government subsidy to be invested in Israeli industries (both defense and non-defense). 55
Many experts believe that the German-supplied Dolphin-class submarines can carry a combined total of up to 16 torpedoes and Popeye Turbo submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). 56 The cruise missiles have a range of at least 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) and are widely believed to be equipped with 200-kiloton nuclear warheads containing up to 6 kilograms (13 pounds) of plutonium. 57 Israel again used money appropriated by the United States to pay a portion of the cost of German equipment provided that the components were made in the United States.
In 2002, Israel used $265 million of US military assistance to purchase 400 GD 883 engines with Renk transmissions (RK304) being produced under license by the US global aerospace and defense company General Dynamics Land Systems for the new Israeli Merkava MK.4 tank. The original German engine is designated as MTU 883 V-12. The previous Merkava Mk.3 used the same RK304 in addition to GEADRIVE, a turret stabilizing system made by the German Wedel GmbH of Germany. Surprisingly, 170 Turkish M-60-A1 tanks were refitted with the same MTU 883 V-12 engines and the RK304 Renk transmissions. According to the Jerusalem Post (October 17, 2019), the total cost of the deal to upgrade 170 tanks was $687 million. 58
On May 11, 2015, Reuters reported that Germany and Israel had signed a deal whereby Germany would provide Israel with four naval corvettes, the designated “Saar 6” missile boats that are worth $480 million (around €380 million). Germany subsidized this deal with a contribution of €115 million. Thyssen Krupp, the German conglomerate building the corvettes, promised to buy approximately €150 million worth of Israeli goods, making the cost of the four corvettes to Israel €215 million. 59
In reporting on such military transactions, most media reports, without exception, describe the purchases and subsidies as part of Germany’s atonement for its Nazi past and current commitment to Israel’s security. Media outlets rarely mention or investigate if Germany is breaking its laws by exporting lethal weapon systems to a conflict area, how such equipment is used, where it is used, against whom it is used, and for what purpose. German-supplied submarines, corvettes, and missile boats are used to menace the shores of Lebanon and to blockade and bomb Gaza. Off the shores of Gaza, the Israeli navy often fires its bombs and missiles to devastate Gaza’s residential buildings and to terrorize, kill, and maim its fishermen and other civilians. “Local media reports suggest the Israeli navy has carried out more than 100 attacks using ship-based guns for naval bombardment and ship-launched missiles for precision strikes.” 60 On April 16, 1988, an Israeli assassination squad arrived by sea, presumably by submarine, off the coast of Tunisia to assassinate Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), the deputy of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Four people were murdered in the attack, including a gardener. 61
To this day, Germany considers its support of Israel a pillar of its foreign policy, continuing its unconditional diplomatic, economic, and military aid. Although most Germans were the direct victims of the Nazi era, today’s Germans are condemned and indoctrinated to live in guilt and to show atonement for the atrocities committed 70 years ago at the hands of National Socialists. It appears that Germans have no say on the nature and scope of the relationship between their country and Israel. Young Germans in 2021 are being conditioned by the government, the educational system, and the culture to feel remorse for the crimes of Nazi Germany, particularly against Jews. Most of these young Germans are at least three generations removed from the Nazi era and they, their parents, and grandparents had nothing to do with Nazi Germany nor did they benefit from it – quite the contrary. This collective guilt by association, if conditions remain the same, is not expected to end soon. The price tag for such conditioning keeps going up with no end in sight. In fact, Germany’s never-ending guilt trip contributes directly to the maintenance of the secret relationship between the two countries and Germany’s uncritical support for the policies and practices of settler colonial apartheid Israel and its armed forces.
Most of Germany’s reparation payments have gone to Israel instead of directly compensating Holocaust victims and their survivors in Europe and the United States. In turn, Israel has used the money for the colonization of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, building its military, emboldening its aggressions, and creating a Jewish state with Jewish-only roads, settlements, and schools. As illustrated earlier, Israel and its supporters use the psychological conditioning of Germans to continue to extract financial, military, and diplomatic gains from Germany. Providing financial aid and military equipment, including submarines that are capable and ready to deliver nuclear, chemical, and biological warheads, is not only a threat to Palestine, Lebanon, and Iran, but to regional and global security and peace. Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear, chemical, and biological warheads could be used against Europe and Germany itself if Germany decides to change its policy orientation from being supportive of Israeli policies and practices of settler colonialism and apartheid to being on the side of democratic principles, UN resolutions, and international law and norms.
History teaches us that countries can be blackmailed or pressured to do things that they otherwise would not do. To avoid or eliminate this potentiality, Germany should take concrete steps to engage its citizens in an open debate without fear and intimidation to end the burden of the collective guilt trip and to liberate itself from the cost and potential danger associated with its secret relationship with Israel. In a democracy, open and free debate is healthy and can only lead to strengthening democratic values and norms, in Germany as elsewhere. Until then, the never-ending guilt trip and acts of political cowardice and expediency will continue to:
Undermine the German national interest, violate existing German and international law, and negatively impact the physical and psychological well-being of several generations of Germans who have nothing to do with the Nazis and their atrocities.
Violate the basic rights of Germans to know, debate, criticize, and act against the criminal policies and practices of settler colonial apartheid Israel against the Palestinian people.
Provide unconditional support to Israel, causing catastrophic and lasting damage, pain, and suffering to the Palestinian people.
Enable Israel to threaten regional and world peace and security.
How long do the German people have to live under a cloud of guilt and pay for the crimes committed by the Nazis more than 70 years ago? How long do the Palestinian people have to pay for the crimes of both Nazi Germany and Israel? Why should the Palestinian people pay for the racist colonial objectives of Israel or the atrocities of Nazi Germany by extension? The slogan “never again” does not only mean that Germany should never inflict harm on Jews again. It means also that Germany and settler colonial apartheid Israel should not perpetuate crimes against the Palestinians as an act of remorse or payment for the atrocities of the Nazis against the Jews.