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The Holocaust Industry by Norman G. Finkelstein

The Holocaust Industry by Norman G. Finkelstein

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering by Norman G. Finkelstein, first published in 2000, is a short book about the Holocaust as promoted by organized Jewry.

Anyone who wants to label the author as a “racist” or an “anti-Semite” may want to re-read his name and perhaps look up the meaning of those terms, but that is another topic.

The text is organized into an introduction followed by three chapters and a conclusion. The author’s aim is straightforward as stated in the first paragraph of the introduction.

This book is both an anatomy and an indictment of the Holocaust industry. In the pages that follow, I will argue that “The Holocaust” is an ideological representation of the Nazi holocaust. Like most ideologies, it bears a connection, if tenuous, with reality. The Holocaust is not an arbitrary but rather an internally coherent construct. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests. Indeed, The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a “victim” state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States has likewise acquired victim status.

The author’s interest in the holocaust was initially personal as both his parents were survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and Nazi concentration camps. Apart from his parents, “every family member on both sides was exterminated by the Nazis”.

I do care about the memory of my family’s persecution. The current campaign of the Holocaust industry to extort money from Europe in the name of “needy Holocaust victims” has shrunk the moral stature of their martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino. Even apart from these concerns, however, I remain convinced that it is important to preserve—to fight for—the integrity of the historical record.

According to Finkelstein, The Holocaust was generally not talked about in the public sphere until after the Six-Day War in June 1967, due to, at least in part, some in the US realizing the potential advantage of having Israel as an ally in the region.

It was not Israel’s alleged weakness and isolation, not the fear of a “second Holocaust,” but rather its proven strength and strategic alliance with the United States that led Jewish elites to gear up the Holocaust industry after June 1967.

There are “two central dogmas” to The Holocaust as a “propagandistic indoctrination”:

(1) The Holocaust marks a categorically unique historical event; (2) The Holocaust marks the climax of an irrational, eternal Gentile hatred of Jews. Neither of these dogmas figured at all in public discourse before the June 1967 war; and, although they became the centerpieces of Holocaust literature, neither figures at all in genuine scholarship on the Nazi holocaust. On the other hand, both dogmas draw on important strands in Judaism and Zionism.

In other words, The Holocaust is not about history and drawing lessons from it but about manipulating the past in order to manipulate the present and in turn the future. One of the means is the promotion of Holocaust literature. The author mentions and discusses a few of these and their authors. To quote one example:

The first major Holocaust hoax was The Painted Bird, by Polish émigré Jerzy Kosinski. The book was “written in English,” Kosinski explained, so that “I could write dispassionately, free from the emotional connotation one’s native language always contains.” In fact, whatever parts he actually wrote—an unresolved question—were written in Polish. The book was purported to be Kosinski’s autobiographical account of his wanderings as a solitary child through rural Poland during World War II. In fact, Kosinski lived with his parents throughout the war. The book’s motif is the sadistic sexual tortures perpetrated by the Polish peasantry. Pre-publication readers derided it as a “pornography of violence” and “the product of a mind obsessed with sadomasochistic violence.” In fact, Kosinski conjured up almost all the pathological episodes he narrates. The book depicts the Polish peasants he lived with as virulently anti-Semitic. “Beat the Jews,” they jeer. “Beat the bastards.” In fact, Polish peasants harbored the Kosinski family even though they were fully aware of their Jewishness and the dire consequences they themselves faced if caught.

As part of the discussion, the author, not surprisingly, mentions his own experience of being attacked for his writings since he is so critical of the so-called Holocaust industry.

The third chapter titled “The Double Shakedown” discusses how certain organizations that claim to represent Jewish victims try to rake in money.

The term “Holocaust survivor” originally designated those who suffered the unique trauma of the Jewish ghettos, concentration camps and slave labor camps, often in sequence. The figure for these Holocaust survivors at war’s end is generally put at some 100,000. The number of living survivors cannot be more than a quarter of this figure now.

The number 100,000 is taken from Henry Friedlander, a respected holocaust historian and survivor of Auschwitz. Yet, over time many claim to be survivors by conveniently broadening the definition.

In other words, much money has been handed over to organizations over the years for “needy Holocaust victims” but little has filtered down to actual victims. The author makes a point regarding his mother:

The Claims Conference was supposed to use the monies, $10 million annually for twelve years, or about a billion dollars in current values, for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution who had fallen through the cracks in the compensation process. My mother was a case in point. A survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek concentration camp and slave labor camps at Czestochowa and Skarszysko Kamiena, she received only $3,500 in compensation from the German government. Other Jewish victims (and many who in fact were not victims), however, received lifetime pensions from Germany eventually totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. The monies given to the Claims Conference were earmarked for those Jewish victims who had received only minimal compensation.

Most of the chapter is about the targeting of Swiss banks for compensation for, amongst other things, whatever amounts they were still holding in dormant accounts of victims and for allegedly having trafficked assets looted from Jews during WWII.

In short, it was a propaganda campaign against the Swiss in conjunction with “class-action lawsuits and an economic boycott”. Whilst there were dormant accounts that needed to be dealt with, the accusations were either untrue or were “old news” sold as new and in sensationalized form. In the end, the Swiss were pressured into a $1.25 billion settlement.

In times of distress, money and assets are moved to more secure locations. Obviously, assets were moved from Germany to Switzerland before and during the war, but the US was also a destination. However, the issue of compensation by the US was barely addressed. The author quotes Seymour Rubin who served as deputy chief of the US delegation in the Swiss negotiations after WWII, having identified $6 million in dormant US bank accounts.

[T]he initial estimate of $6 million was rejected by potential Congressional sponsors of the necessary legislation and a limit of $3 million was used in the original draft legislation…. In the event, the $3 million figure was slashed in Committee hearings to $1 million. Legislative action further reduced the amount to $500,000. Even that amount was opposed by the Bureau of the Budget, which proposed a limit of $250,000. The legislation however passed with the $500,000.

In other words, whilst slandering and making others pay are the standard tactics, the US barely pays up if at all.

The author then returns to a brief discussion regarding figures. Whilst he accepts mainstream numbers of holocaust deaths and survivors, at least for the sake of argument, he questions the ever-increasing number of survivors according to the Holocaust industry.

Raul Hilberg, the leading authority on the Nazi holocaust, puts the figure for Jews murdered at 5.1 million. Yet, if 135,000 former Jewish slave laborers are still alive today, some 600,000 must have survived the war. That’s at least a half-million more than standard estimates. One would then have to deduct this half-million from the 5.1 million figure of those killed.

The author mentions a quip by his mother, a quintessential example of Hebrew ironic and sarcastic humor:

“If everyone who claims to be a survivor actually is one,” my mother used to exclaim, “who did Hitler kill?”

In the conclusion, the author highlights that Hitler “modelled” his policies and actions after the West—after all, “a majority of American states enacted sterilization laws and tens of thousands of Americans were involuntarily sterilized”.

He also criticizes the US government’s track record of often conveniently citing the “Holocaust” in matters of foreign policy but committing or turning a blind eye to atrocities when it suits them. Amongst other things, the author makes the commonsensical concluding remark:

The challenge today is to restore the Nazi holocaust as a rational subject of inquiry. Only then can we really learn from it. The abnormality of the Nazi holocaust springs not from the event itself but from the exploitive industry that has grown up around it.

The author obviously wants to keep the book as brief as reasonably possible but it would be helpful to include more direct quotations when discussing Holocaust literature—after all, the audience may not have read the literature so they are reliant on the author to provide concrete examples.

On balance, the book is short and simply written so it is easily accessible. The author does often quote others, both promoters and critics of the holocaust, as part of his discussion. It is the author’s analysis and, to some extent, his opinion but he generally explains his reasoning well. He demonstrates that however annoyed he may be, he is level-headed and has a sense of humor.

The book is well-referenced. However, in the online version, the citations are organized as endnotes (at the end of the chapter) rather than as footnotes (at the bottom of the page), so reading references is more difficult.


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