AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION
February 26, 2014
IN THIS EDITION
MERKEL IN ISRAEL- With 16 Ministers no less.
STATE OF THE NATION – Merkel roasts the U.S. for spying.
GERMANY & THE U.S.: LOVE LOST? – The answer is yes.
A NEW BERLIN JEWISH COMMUNITY: VERY COMPLICATED – See if you can figure
AN OLD(ER) JEWISH COMMUNITY: EVEN MORE COMPLICATED – and painful.
LOOTED ART: FINDING RIGHTFUL OWNERS – A long process.
ISRAEL & GERMANY: DIFFERENT BOATS: SAME RELATIONSHIP – You know who
to call when you need one.
HOLOCAUST PENSIONS – Who represents to Survivors?
This is not a happy time for either Germany – U.S. or Germany – Israel relations. The
fact that these two important relationships have unraveled a bit is a serious matter for
American Jews who have an important interest in both of them.
The U.S. – Germany problem emerged when it was revealed that our NSA had bugged
Chancellor Merkel‟s private cell phone. It unearthed a pattern of U.S. spying on a
widespread variety of German government and private communications. Of course, no
government can stand by idly while that happens. Germany tried to arrange a no-spying
agreement with the U.S. but it didn‟t work. From this acorn of diplomatic disagreement a
great deal of national anger grew. Madame Merkel is supposed to visit Washington in
the spring but the date is not yet set and she has begun talking about the EU
developing its own spying system. Not good!
The Germany – Israel disagreement is of a longer lasting nature. It has to do with the
perception that Israel is not serious about reaching any sort of an agreement with the
Palestinians. The matter of “settlement creep‟ is stuck in the craw of many Germans.
I don‟t have to explain to this audience that the Israelis see Germany and the EU as
putting great pressure on Israel without corresponding diplomatic weight exerted on the
In addition,the negotiating group that is dealing with Iran (which includes Germany) is
seen as giving way on the sanctions and getting nothing in return.
Why all these problems? Are the U.S. and Germany turning anti-Semitic? Do Americans
and Israelis think Germany is the reincarnation of the Third Reich and, does everyone
think the U.S. has become their enemy? The answer to all of it is “perceived national
interest”. Each leader and government will do what it thinks is best for his/her own
country. Obama will do what he thinks best for the U.S. including very widespread
spying. Merkel will continue to criticize the building of settlements because they see a
peaceful Middle East as good for German economic interests and a more peaceful
world. Sad to say, most of the rest of the world agrees with them. Netanyahu will harp
on the others being too soft on Iran.
The whole idea of diplomacy is to bring the perceived national interests of the various
nations into some sort of agreement with each other. Right now the three mentioned
above are trying but they are quite far apart.
With all that happening Germany itself is undergoing what I see as a dramatic change in
the way it sees itself. It was exemplified by German President Joachim Gauck, DW
recently reported, “On Friday, 21.02.2014, Joachim Gauck spoke to Dagmar Engel, the
head of DW's Berlin studio, about Germany's role on the international stage. He
expanded on his much-discussed speech at the Munich Security Conference, again
calling on Germany to take more responsibility in world politics."Germany is mature and
serves as a guarantor of stability and democracy, and we must not back away from
these responsibilities," he said.
Referring to Germany's "dark past," Gauck told DW that "Germany is a completely
different country than it was in between the two World Wars." He said that the country is
now often regarded as a model of democracy.
Gauck argued that, in light of its changing international position, Germany should take
on a mediating role in international conflict situations wherever it can and shouldn't shy
away from using force if necessary. He said that Germany can hardly be indifferent to
the events taking place in Ukraine, for example, and should instead "take on the role of
mediator in cooperation with other European states" there.
In a measured and certainly non-threatening way Pres. Gauck is talking about an
expanded international role for Germany – perhaps even a military one. Obviously the
Federal Republic is not the Reich; however Germany is the strongest of the European
countries and has the ability to play a greater role on the world stage. Good? Bad? We‟ll
just have to see how it begins to play out. There is no question, changes are on the
In the meantime the entire German cabinet has been visiting Israel so let‟s get on with
MERKEL IN ISRAEL
Even before Chancellor Merkel took off with almost all her cabinet of Ministers, the
advanced publicity clearly spelled out this trip was something special.
Not only was she bringing along 16 of the most important members of her government
for this fifth (almost)annual meeting of ministers but she was lined up to receive Israel‟s
highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Distinction. It will be given to her by
Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The entire entourage of German ministers and staff will be on hand to celebrate the 50th
anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. Each minister is
meeting with his/her counterpart.
While the media during the last few months has been talking about the fracturing of the
two-nation relationship, you couldn‟t prove it by the warm words passed between the
national leaders. However, Haaretz noted, “In an interview to German public television
ZDF on Sunday, Netanyahu said the Palestinians and Israel would be best served to
support U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peace efforts and sit at the negotiating
Netanyahu reiterated his condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish
state, adding that he could not understand the Palestinian leadership's resistance to
On Monday, still ahead of Merkel's arrival in Israel, Germany's Foreign Minister FrankWalter Steinmeier blasted Israel's settlement policy as "disruptive" to peace talks. He
dubbed the expansion of Israeli settlements in areas the Palestinians want for a future
state as detrimental to peace efforts.
Germany is Israel's closest ally in Europe. Tensions have been on the rise lately
between Israel and Europe, and also Germany, over settlement policies. Israel insists
the issue of settlements should be resolved through the peace talks.
An article by Der Spiegel last week said that German-Israel ties are at an all-time low,
with Netanyahu and Merkel resorting to shouting at each other on the phone on a
number of occasions while discussing Israeli policies toward Palestinians.
While the important positions were not altered, a couple of good things too k place.
Most important – Chancellor Merkel denounced any attempt at boycotting Israel.
Second, an agreement was signed noting Israel's acceptance of Germany's offer to
provide consular services to Israeli travelers in countries where the Jewish state does
not have a diplomatic presence.
The Chancellor called this a "sign of the trust" that existed between Germany and Israel.
So, all is not love and affection. However, no matter what the problems each nation
needs the other so diplomatic meetings will always exude sweetness and light. They are
necessary diplomatic theater.
STATE OF THE NATION
When Pres. Obama gave his State of the Union speech; he was followed a few hours
later by Chancellor Merkel giving he State of the Nation speech to the Bundestag in
While most of her speech dealt with domestic issues, The New York Times reported,
she “…took perhaps her sharpest swipe yet at pervasive American intelligence
surveillance, saying on Wednesday that Washington had endangered its standing by
violating the freedom of the individual, a value for which it is admired abroad.
Ms. Merkel, addressing the German Parliament, stressed that the damage wrought was
so grave and fundamental that it would not be swiftly overcome. She has promised to
visit Washington in the coming months, even as President Obama has signaled
willingness to address German concerns and pledged that her cellphone is no longer
under surveillance by the National Security Agency.
But one trip alone will not overcome all the issues, Ms. Merkel said, even as she argued
against exacting some kind of revenge by stopping trade talks between Europe and the
United States, as some Germans in her conservative and normally pro-American camp
“A way of operating in which the end justifies the means, in which everything which is
technically possible is actually done, that violates trust, it sows mistrust,” Ms. Merkel
said. “At the end of the day, there is not more, but less security.”
In her hour-long speech, which presented the program of her recently formed coalition
between conservatives and the Social Democrats, Ms. Merkel also reiterated that
Germany had emerged strongly from the world financial crisis — thanks to action by a
similar grand coalition that governed from 2005 to 2009.
As a trained scientist who is at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy and a global
export powerhouse, Ms. Merkel is among the world leaders who is most vocal about the
need to stay competitive and current.
That gave extra force to her strong words about how the United States — and Britain —
uses the digital technology that, she repeatedly stressed, is changing all aspects of
The Local.de reported, “Merkel stressed that "Germany could not wish for a better
partner than the United States" but also conceded that the allies remain "far apart" on
the "ethical question" of freedom versus security in state surveillance.
"Is it right that our closest partners such as the United States and Britain gain access to
all imaginable data, saying this is for their own security and the security of their
partners?" asked Merkel.
"Is it right to act this way because others in the world do the same?" she added before
also touching on alleged British spying at international talks.
"Is it right if in the end this is not about averting terrorist threats but, for example, gaining
an advantage over allies in negotiations, at G20 summits or UN sessions?
"Our answer can only be: No, this can't be right. Because it touches the very core of
what cooperation between friendly and allied countries is about: trust."
There is no question that Chancellor Merkel and, indeed, the German people are much
more concerned about the spying issue than are we here in the U.S. The fact that she
made it a centerpiece of her first major address since the election says a lot. The
importance of Germany and the EU to the U.S. is critical and one can only hope that the
President and our State Dept. people are properly tuned in. „Nuff said!
GERMANY & THE U.S.: LOVE LOST?
We have just passed Valentine's Day, the holiday of love and affection. I have the
feeling that Chancellor Merkel did not send a card or gift to Pres. Obama. As a matter of
fact, she, and many Germans, are still smarting from the revelation that the U.S.'s NSA
was intercepting calls made and received by Frau Merkel on her private cell phone.
Since news of our spying was made public, I have been hearing from German friends
that the psychological wound they suffered id deep and has not gone away. I must
admit that in previous editions I tended to gloss over the wound thatthe revelations
made. I said that the damage done could quickly be attended to and that this important
relationship would soon be put back on track. What I did not consider was the "Humpty
Dumpty" effect. It turns out not to be so easy to put it back together again.
Here‟s an example. Those of you who have been participants in the AJC – Konrad
Adenauer Foundation Exchange program know Heiner Sussebach. He has traveled as
interpreter for this program for the last 23 years. A German born American citizen, there
is no one I know who has a better feel for American (and American-Jewish) – German
relations than he does.
Heiner frequently has German friends visiting him and his wife Jan in their Vermont
home. In a recent note he wrote”, “It should be obvious by now that the United States of
America as "the only remaining Superpower" is a pipe-dream. No nuclear arsenal, no
high-tech hardware of any kind, no perception of invincibility will suffice to protect our
national interest. (Whatever that is.)
We need friends and allies.
And one cannot win friends and allies by ignoring them, let alone offending them.
On a grassroots level: You know how many of our family and friends we have had as
guests in our home over the years. Their interest in visiting or re-visiting America is
waning. They are very polite about it. But their reluctance is quite obvious.
I am worried about where we are going.
Recently, Roger Cohen of The New York Times (an old acquaintance of mine from my
Berlin days) wrote a column entitled, "An Ally Offended". He opined, "This is as bad a
moment as there has been in German-American relations in the postwar years. The
poison of the United States surveillance scandal, absent an apology from Washington,
continues to seep through a society where the right to personal privacy is a paramount
value shaped by history.
With the end of the Cold War division of Europe now a quarter-century distant, and the
old strategic imperatives of trans-Atlantic cohesion long gone, much is made of the
shared values of Europe and the United States as the glue that binds them. But in the
case of Germany this argument no longer holds. If anything, a cultural gulf has
The clash of three traumas — the Nazis and then the Stasi in Germany, and 9/11 in the
United States — has left each society with a different appreciation of the relative value
of privacy and personal freedom on the one hand and security on the other. Or at least
that is the way they perceive each other. Few things summon the nightmarish past in
Germany quite like revelations that their personal data and chat is being vacuumed up.
Get over it, say Americans, a chief 9/11 plotter lived in Hamburg. Being a world power
and a regional power are not the same.
Merkel still feels angry, betrayed and humiliated by the National Security Agency’s
eavesdropping on her cellphone. She recently told one politician close to her that she
misses George W. Bush.
The relationship between Europe’s most powerful leader and President Obama is
strained. It got off to a bad start and never recovered. Obama was not pleased that
Merkel refused his request to speak at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate when he was
candidate in 2008; Merkel thought the idea hubristic, Obama was not yet president after
She hates soaring rhetoric and feels Obama over-promises and under-delivers
(Guantánamo, climate change, nuclear Global Zero). Obama has qualms of his own:
the German opt-out on Libya and austerity-driven recipes for the European Union.
Now, perhaps all this is not so bad. For decades, Germany was America’s problem. The
postwar republic emerged under American tutelage. As that parental relationship ended,
there were bound to be difficulties. This is the best Germany there has ever been,
prosperous and at peace with its neighbors. One senior official told me: “It’s O.K. not to
be the problem any longer. But how can we be problem-solvers together?”
The question is hanging there as an ever-stronger Germany reconsiders its foreign
policy and appraises the lingering surveillance-scandal damage. The first weeks of
Merkel’s new government have seen a marked rhetorical shift away from restraint.
Joachim Gauck, the German president, has lambasted those “who use Germany’s guilt
for its past as a shield for laziness or a desire to disengage from the world.” He has said
the time for distrust is past; it is now a time for greater German responsibility.
It is unquestionably in America’s interest to work closely with Germany as this needed
adjustment unfolds. For that, a way past the current estrangement has to be found.
Steinmeier has warned that the loss of trust, particularly among young Germans, “will
not heal by itself.” He has proposed a trans-Atlantic forum to address the question of
how fundamental civil rights are maintained in the era of big data. He has said the
young generation of Germans needs to be won over anew to the trans-Atlantic bond.
Roger, I believe, has hit on the two most important issues. First, what do we have to do
to put the spying and cell phone business behind us? Apologies and deep discussions
are called for. Chancellor Merkel will be coming to Washington in the spring (At least
she‟s been invited). Only Pres. Obama himself can put it right.
The second issue is the rise of Germany‟s sense of growing international importance
and how that can be understood and managed. While our current administration is
increasingly focused further East, they had better keep an eye on Central Europe.
Today‟s Germany is like a child grown to maturity. Their democracy was developed
during the U.S. occupation after WW II. Now it is the most important nation in Europe. It
has grown out of its diapers. In terms of our own interests, the Messrs. Obama and
Kerry should be working on it.
A NEW BERLIN JEWISH COMMUNITY: VERY COMPLICATED
In my last edition I wrote about the dysfunction in the Berlin Jewish community. If that
was hard to understand, a new complication has been added to make it even more
First of all, one should understand that to be a recognized “community” is important
because that is a key to receiving tax money which underwrites religious life in
Germany. The large and central “Jewish Community of Berlin” which I wrote about
previously gets the lion‟s share of the Berlin money. However, some years ago, a small
group tried, and somewhat succeeded in gaining some sort of recognition. They
represented a pre-war congregation and were known as the Israelitische Synagogen
Gemeinde Adass Jisroel. They are now largely defunct.
However, the name Adass Jisroel is not. The Jerusalem Post recently reported, “A new
Jewish community was dedicated in the former East Berlin, in the footsteps of one
destroyed by the Nazis.
In an odd twist, the community has the same name as another Berlin congregation that
is mired in legal limbo and debt after failing to prove it has any members.
In Tuesday’s ceremonies at the century-old Beth Zion synagogue, descendants of prewar Adass Jisroel rabbis symbolically transferred the spiritual legacy of their forefathers
to the new congregation, Kahal Adass Jisroel.
The new group’s 250 members include many young families and students at the Skoblo
Synagogue and Education Center and its Orthodox Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin, groups
that are under the umbrella of the Lauder Yeshurun. The synagogue is located within
the Lauder complex, and the congregation itself is independent of other organizations.
It is not part of the official Berlin Jewish community but hopes to cooperate with it,
according to Josh Spinner, a member of the new congregation, and executive vice
president and CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. The Central Council of Jews in
Germany has given its unequivocal approval.
There is unlikely to be any cooperation with the largely defunct Israelitische Synagogen
Gemeinde Adass Jisroel. Its president, Mario Offenberg, told JTA he knows “next to
nothing” about the new group and takes “a neutral position.”
Establishing continuity with a pre-war congregation can lead to property restitution, but
Spinner said the new congregation is only interested in spiritual continuity.
It is unclear whether there are any properties involved, aside from the synagogue
building and cemetery.
So, there you have it. A new congregation taking on the name of a not quite totally dead
congregation claiming it is the spiritual inheritance from the original. No one can say that
Berlin Jewish life is not interesting.
AN OLD(ER) JEWISH COMMUNITY: EVEN MORE COMPLICATED
In the last few months I have been writing about the problems the long established
Berlin Jewish Community is going through. It has had problems with internal elements in
the community itself as well as with the Berlin Government. By and large, the Jewish
community prefers to work out its problems quietly and away from public view.
However, unhappily, it has become a public spectacle. It‟s not the Ukraine or Syria but
there is considerable anger toward the leader and the leadership of the Community.
An issue has been the unsavory leadership style of the Community's president. Late last
month The Times of Israel reported, " On the heels of community president Gideon
Joffe being named to Tip magazine’s list of the 100 most embarrassing Berliners, a
distinction derived in part from a May council meeting that erupted into a melee between
opposing factions, the main opposition group finally submitted last month a petition for
an early election aimed at ousting Joffe.
Now, the council appears set to undermine that effort — at least that’s how the
opposition sees it.
After nearly a year of effort, the opposition barely squeaked in above the 20 percent of
voting members required to sign the petition. That’s 1,833 names, even after the council
subtracted those who had died or moved away.
Looks good, right? Not so fast. Council manager Michael Rosenzweig decided to check
if those signatures were legit. So he had his office randomly call 60 signatories, 11 of
whom denied they had signed. He simply had a “belly ache” over this discovery,
Rosenzweig told reporters at a private meeting Wednesday.
Despite his tummy problems, Rosenzweig wrote to every legitimate name on the list to
ask if they really had signed. Signatories have two weeks to respond by pre-stamped
return envelope. If a handful fail to do so, or deny they’ve signed, the petition is out the
Initiative Neuwahl (New Election Initiative), as the opposition calls itself, is livid and
seeking legal recourse. “It is further evidence that the [current leadership] … is only out
to retain its power in the community as long as possible, in order to profit from it,” the
group said in a statement on its website. “Obviously they don’t give a hoot for the
democratic rules of our community.”
The latest developments may be evidence of nothing more than the continued
unraveling of an already shaky community council, but even so, it suggests a possible
new list for Tip magazine: Most embarrassing Berlin organizations.
It is now reported that Initiative Neuwahl has taken to demonstrate their unhappiness
publicly. There was a public demonstration against the way the petition for new
elections was held. This may not be in the same league as what has been going on in
Kyiv; however, a demonstration by one group of Jews against another is certainly a
novelty if nothing else in Berlin. In any case, the battle continues.
LOOTED ART: FINDING RIGHTFUL OWNERS
A question hanging over the future of those recently discovered art pieces that might
have originally had Jewish owners revolves around what course the German
government might take.
Spiegel On-Line reported, “Germany will double funding for efforts to return Nazi-looted
art to their rightful owners and may invite Jewish representatives to join a mediation
body, the government said
The new Culture Minister, Monika Grütters, told the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung
(FAZ) that she could not specify the amount of money that would be given for
researching art suspected to have been stolen, only that it would be doubled.
The move follows widespread criticism over Germany's handling of the discovery of a
vast trove of long-lost masterpieces, many thought to be Nazi loot, found in the Munich
flat of recluse.
Although the more than 1,400 works by masters such as Picasso, Matisse and Chagall
were discovered in early 2012, the spectacular find only became known to the public
late last year through a news magazine report.
The eccentric hermit who was in possession of the priceless art, Cornelius Gurlitt, 80, is
the son of Nazi-era art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who acquired the paintings in the
1930s and 1940s.
Germany has since sped up efforts to locate their rightful owners, publishing images of
the pictures on website lostart.de.
Grütters also said there were plans to expand the government-backed mediation panel
that now hears disputes about artworks of contested provenance, the eight-member
The body, which has former German president Richard von Weizsaecker on its board
along with a former high court judge, historians and art experts, can make
recommendations but no binding rulings.
"I can certainly imagine expanding the Limbach Commission and including
representatives of Jewish organisations," Grütters told the FAZ.
She also said that the Gurlitt case and the international criticism it sparked had been a
wake-up call for many German art collectors.
"Genuine and responsible Germans were, I believe, rather sensitized by this case," she
said. "There are private persons who are re-examining their collections."
Gurlitt too has said he is willing to consider claims for some of the artworks that were
found in his apartment, his lawyer Hannes Hartung was quoted as telling national news
Hartung was quoted as saying the octogenarian "is willing to look closely at the looted
art lawsuits and negotiate fair and equitable solutions".
It is pretty obvious that the procedures that have to be followed will take a long time. It
will probably be years before the art works wind up in the hands of the legally correct
owners if then. One thing I can say is that, as far as the German government is
concerned it could not be in better hands. Culture Minister, Monika Grütters is very
sensitive to Jewish concerns. She is an old friend of AJC (and mine). In 1997 she was a
participant in the AJC – Konrad Adenauer Foundation Exchange Program. She was a
Berlin city council member in the late 1990‟s representing the area of the city in which I
lived. She is a great person and I am sure she will do the right thing for the rightful
Jewish art owners.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder
has called on Germany to establish laws regarding looted art.
Arutz Sheva reported, “Germany must introduce a law specifically aimed at facilitating
the return of Nazi-looted art, the head of the World Jewish Congress said Thursday
after meeting with top German officials, according to AFP.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said there were still thousands of priceless artworks in
the hands of individuals and museums that were stolen from Jews under the Third
Reich and said the country was not legally equipped to handle such cases.
"One of the main reasons that these problems still exist is that there is no law in
Germany that addresses the restitution of looted art," he said at a museum documenting
the Nazi terror, according to AFP.
He noted that Germany had already negotiated compensation on "the difficult issues of
slave labor, stolen bank deposits and insurance policies."
"I encourage Germany to deal with Nazi-looted art in the same comprehensive manner,"
said Lauder, calling the works "the last prisoners of World War II."
Perhaps laws would help. We‟ll just have to see if the German government moves on
Mr. Lauder‟s suggestion.
ISRAEL & GERMANY: DIFFERENT BOATS: SAME RELATIONSHIP
If you've been following DuBow Digest you know that Israel has gotten five or six
submarines from Germany. They act as the main second strike weapon Israel has in its
naval arsenal. They are located off the coast of Iran. Of course, the Israeli Navy doesn't
secretly let me in on locations but assuredly they're not sitting in port waiting for Israel
Navy Day (or whatever it's called there).
It now looks as if Israel is cooking up a deal with Germany for the purchase of surface
craft to guard their recently discovered natural gas fields off the Mediterranean coast.
Israel Hayom reported, "Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon met with German
counterpart Ursula von der Leyen in Berlin ... and discussed the possible purchase of
surface ships to defend natural gas fields in Israeli waters.
The Israeli Navy has recently begun evaluating naval vessels for defending the valuable
natural gas installations off the Israeli coast. The navy intends to purchase four ships,
though it has yet to be determined from which country it will purchase them.
"The situation in the Middle East is very complex and unstable, and we expect there will
be chronic instability in the coming years," Ya'alon told von der Leyen. "We are great
supporters of democracy and I wish there were more democratic states around us. We
have experience in the Palestinian arena, in Gaza, where Hamas won the elections but
there is no democracy. This was also the case in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood."
Ya'alon also spoke about Iran, warning that the "messianic-apocalyptic" regime's
nuclear program must be stopped "one or way another ... otherwise it will become a
nightmare for the Middle East and the entire world."
Ya'alon thanked Germany for its support and said he "appreciated very much the
cooperation between Germany and Israel."
"Knowing very well the relationship, the good cooperation between our two countries,
looking back to the dark past but looking to the bright future, these two democracies
sharing the same values, I believe sharing the same interests, challenged by common
threats like terror, rockets, missiles, weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East
and beyond," Ya'alon said.
Der Leyen, Germany's first female defense minister, said, "This is the first foreign guest
I have the pleasure of welcoming here in my function as defense minister. It shows the
special relationship between Germany and Israel."
I doubt if they have already inked the sales memo but since Germany has become
Israel's main supplier of warships (defense vessels) it only makes sense that the latest
purchases should come from Germany. In addition, one cannot mistake the positive
tone of Defense Minister von der Leyen's statement. Israel and Germany may have
differences about settlement policy but those differences do not seem to affect the
supplying of needed defense craft.
A very detailed article about the possibility of armed conflict over the Mediterranean
natural gas fields recent appeared in The Tablet entitled, “With Natural Gas Fields in the
Eastern Mediterranean, Israel Now Has a New Front: the Sea”. You can access by
clicking here. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/159738/israels-newfront.After reading it you will understand how important the German ships are to Israel.
In closing, I think I should mention the fact that not everything Germany does in the way
of selling naval vessels isfor the highest of moral reasons. The business of business is
business. So, it has also been reported that (The Loacal.de) “Germany is “weeks away”
from signing a contract with Egypt to provide the troubled Middle East country with two
more submarines in a multi-million euro deal, a defence source told the The Local.
In addition they are on the verge of selling a large number of boats to Saudi Arabia.
Neither of these sales is a current threat to Israel so no one is complaining.
I thought you should have the total picture. There it is.
It was recently reported by Reuters, “Germany’s Labour Ministry is to bring in new
legislation extending the pension rights of thousands of Jews forced to work in Nazi-era
ghettos, Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday.
Spiegel said the ministry had presented the proposal to an Israeli delegation visiting
Berlin last week, and it would be worth an average of 15,000 euros ($20,400) extra to
each of the 130,000 former ghetto workers living in Israel.
So, I have been wondering, how many people know why is it that every once in a while
the German government increases the number of recipients of Holocaust pensions? Do
they do it out of a sense of responsibility? That may be part of it, but who on the survivor
side is pushing them to undertake that responsibility? Is it just the Israeli government?
Perhaps many of you know, but in case you don‟t, the answer is that there is an
organization in the U.S. that has that that job as its responsibility.
It is generally called the Claims Conference though its full name is The Conference on
Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. According to Wikipedia, “[It] represents world
Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and
their heirs. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers
unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare
services to Holocaust survivors and preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah.
The Claims Conference was founded in 1951 as a body to engage the German
government in negotiations for material compensation for Jewish victims of Nazi
As of 2012, the Claims Conference has administered the following programs, which
provide direct payments to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. Programs were
negotiated with the German government and are subject to eligibility criteria determined
by the German government. The Conference continually negotiates to expand and
liberalize eligibility criteria in order to include additional victims in the programs. In 1978,
after 25 years of payments, the total Federal Republic of Germany payments amounted
to 53 billion Deutschmarks. Payments from some programs continue to this day.
The Article 2 Fund, a lifetime pension for certain persons who were incarcerated in
concentration camps, ghettos, or forced labor battalions, or who were forced to go into
hiding. Eligibility criteria have been negotiated continually with Germany, and include
limits on income, established by the German government.
The Central and Eastern European Fund, a pension program similar to the Article 2
Fund, which distributes payments to survivors located in Eastern Europe and the former
Hardship Fund, a one-time payment for Jewish victims of Nazism who emigrated from
Soviet bloc countries and meet certain eligibility criteria established by the German
Holocaust Victims Compensation Fund, a one-time payment for Jewish victims of
Nazism who fled from the Nazis. Comparable to the Hardship Fund but for current
residents of the Former Soviet Union.
Program for Former Slave and Forced Laborers, a one-time payment for persons
"compelled to perform work in a concentration camp...a ghetto, or a similar place of
incarceration under comparable conditions." Application deadline has expired.
Fund for Victims of Medical Experiments and Other Injuries Application deadline has
The Conference also works with the International Commission on Holocaust Era
Insurance Claims (ICHIEC) to process claims for unpaid Holocaust era insurance
policies. The Conference also administers programs on behalf of the U.S. District Court
administering the Swiss Banks Settlement.
The Claims Conference handles a great deal of money and that has been the cause of
a great deal of trouble. They have been accused of paying overly high salaries to
executives and in 2010 a major fraud of $57 million dollars was discovered.
However, even with all that the Conference continues to represent Holocaust survivors
in the U.S. and for that they are entitled to kudos from the American Jewish community.
See you again in March.
DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be reached at
Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com