Theft Murder: The Inadequacy Of Reparations And Restitutions As A Result Of Anti Semitism

3617 words - 14 pages

At a conference regarding Holocaust-era assets, Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Prize Laureate and distinguished writer, quoted the First Book of Kings, "You have committed murder and now you wish to inherit the victim's fortune as well" (Authers XII). He was clearly pointing to the modern example of this type of theft-murder. Wiesel described analogous instances of industries and governments taking the lives of the Jews and then their possessions. The Nazi government perpetrated the largest genocide of the twentieth century, thereby committing some of the most heinous acts ever played out on the world stage. Regrettably, the acts were uncompleted in 1945; the injustices of twentieth-century anti-Semitism go far beyond the gas chambers of Auschwitz and the crematories of Dachau. They extend comfortably into the modern era, even unto the present day. It is high time that they were ended forever; the Jews deserve restitutions for not only stolen possessions and money, but also for their slave labor in concentration and work camps. But because of continued anti-Semitism, governments and corporations have consciously and willfully failed to sufficiently pay Jews reparations and restitutions for their looted assets, their slave labor, and their insurance policies.

To fully comprehend these atrocities committed by the companies and governments, one must understand what sum of money was stolen from the Jews. The Jews of Europe were one of the wealthiest groups of people in pre-war Europe. An estimate of Jewish wealth for six European countries added up to approximately $12.9 billion, or in today's money, $165.3 billion (Eizenstat 73). In the whole of Europe, as much as $320 billion dollars were stolen from the Jews (Bazyler XI). Those Jews who managed not to have their assets stolen directly deposited them into Swiss banks, with the hope that Swiss secrecy laws would protect their money until the situation improved (Bazyler XV). Little did they know that they had simply changed the undeserving benefactors of their estate from the Nazis to the Swiss.

Over 4.1 million accounts were opened in Swiss banks between 1933 and 1945 (Bazyler 38). Of these 4.1 million accounts, approximately 53,886 of them were opened by members of the various groups persecuted by the Nazis (Bazyler 38). This estimate is approximate, and there were probably thousands of more accounts opened by persecuted people that will never be discovered.

The amount stolen extends beyond money or material possessions; it extends through the economic gains accrued by the German governments for their use of slave labor. The success of the German economy depended on this cheap and free form of labor. Ten of the top twenty companies in Germany used some form of slave labor (Bazyler 59). Some of these companies filled upwards of 50% of their positions with prisoners. The economic...

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