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German Reparations to the Jews After World War II: A Turning Point in the History of Reparations

Colonomos, Ariel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Pablo De Greiff, ed., The Handbook of Reparations. Oxford, New York, USA: Oxford University Press. Pp. 390-419.

“The post-World War II German-Israeli reparations program is the largest, most comprehensive reparations program ever implemented. Traditionally, reparations were supported by the vanquished and were designed to compensate the victor for the damages caused during the war. The Wiedergutmachung (literally ‘making good again’) program as it is called in Germany, or Shilumim (the payments) as Israelis usually prefer to refer to it, innovates in many areas and goes beyond this interstate framework. Jewish leaders participated in the Luxembourg negotiations that led to the signature of the 1952 treaty and community networks played a crucial role in the distribution of the money to the victims. Civil society groups played an instrumental role in the USA as plans for reparations were being discussed during the war. Neither the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) nor Israel existed during the war. Reparations have been paid to the State of Israel and are paid to Jewish Holocaust survivors regardless of their nationality. The FRG greatly benefited politically and economically from this treaty. As a result, the FRG was able to enter the international arena and establish diplomatic relations with Israel, the economy of which country greatly benefited from the money it received.” (excerpt)


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