The Holocaust Historiography Project

World Jewish Congress Called 'Morally False'

Hilberg Denounces Jewish 'Blackmail' Against Switzerland

Mark Weber

For several years now, the World Jewish Congress and other major Jewish organizations have waged a fierce and much-publicized campaign to force Switzerland to pay millions to Jewish organizations and Holocaust survivors, to compensate for money allegedly deposited in Swiss banks by Jews who later perished during the Second World War, and for gold purchased from Germany that was allegedly stolen from Jews. On August 12, 1998, major Swiss banks capitulated by agreeing to a "global settlement" payment of $1.25 billion dollars.

While US politicians and the American media have predictably supported the Jewish campaign against the Alpine confederation, which has included threats of economic boycott, many thoughtful people rightly regard this entire campaign as a disgraceful manifestation of Jewish power. Among those who have spoken out against it is Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg.

"I was nearly alarmed when I heard that the Swiss banks would pay 1.25 billion dollars," he said in a recent interview published in the respected Swiss weekly Weltwoche (January 28, 1999). In the campaign against Switzerland, Hilberg went on, "the Jews have used a weapon that can only be described as blackmail (Erpressung)." At another point in the interview he said: "I cannot accept the thesis that the blackmail methods were the only way to deal with this issue."

Hilberg, one of the world's most prominent Holocaust historians, is the author of the three-volume work The Destruction of the European Jews. Born in Vienna in 1926, he has for decades been a professor at the University of Vermont.

"I believe that the [Swiss] banks have paid more than they actually owe," Hilberg also told the Swiss weekly. "The demands of the World Jewish Congress are therefore morally false. If something belongs to another person, it doesn't belong to me. If I say that it belongs to me, I have to prove it. And when, as in the case of Holocaust money, it cannot be proven, a compromise based on healthy human intellect must be reached that is rational and acceptable."

"There is thus no relationship whatsoever," he went on, "between what the banks owe the Jews and what the World Jewish Congress has demanded and received." He expressed concern that the amount of the "global settlement" suggests that Europe's Jews in the late 1930s and early 1940s were much more wealthy than was actually the case.

Hilberg singled out World Jewish Congress president Edgar M. Bronfman for pointed criticism: "I cannot stress enough that the man who heads the World Jewish Congress does not speak for me. His family has one and half billion dollars. If he really wanted to, he could help a few poor survivors with money from his own vest pocket."

Hilberg also spoke about the problem of false Holocaust witness testimony, specifically citing the widely-praised memoir of "survivor" Benjamin Wilkomirski as a fabrication. (See "Holocaust Survivor Memoir Exposed as Fraud," Sept.-Oct. 1998 Journal, pp. 15-16.) Said Hilberg: "This is indeed a problem of Holocaust research: people often make use of survivor testimony. It's the primary literature. But one must be very careful, because testimonies are often mistaken, memories can deceive, and some things are suppressed."


Bibliographic information
Author: Weber, Mark
Title: Hilberg Denounces Jewish 'Blackmail' Against Switzerland
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: January/February 1999
Issue: Volume 18 number 1
Location: Page 14
ISSN: 0195-6752
Attribution: "Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA. Domestic subscriptions $40 per year; foreign subscriptions $50 per year."
Please send a copy of all reprints to the Editor.