Beyond that, there was a taste for revenge. My soul would be at rest if I knew there would be 6 million German dead to match the 6 million Jews, said Meir Dworzecki, who’d survived the concentration camps of Estonia.
Ben-Gurion countered this sentiment, not by repudiating vengeance but with cold calculation: If I could take German property without sitting down with them for even a minute but go in with jeeps and machine guns to the warehouses and take it, I would do that-if, for instance, we had the ability to send a hundred divisions and tell them, Take it.’ But we can’t do that.
The reparations conversation set off a wave of bomb attempts by Israeli militants
One was aimed at the foreign ministry in Tel Aviv. Another was aimed at Chancellor Adenauer himself. And one was aimed at the port of Haifa, where the goods bought with reparations money were arriving. West Germany ultimately agreed to pay Israel 3.45 billion deutsche marks, or more than $7 billion in today’s dollars. Individual reparations claims followed-for psychological trauma, for offense to Jewish honor, for halting law careers, for life insurance, for time spent in concentration camps. Seventeen percent of funds went toward purchasing ships. By the end of 1961, these reparations vessels constituted two-thirds of the Israeli merchant fleet, writes the Israeli historian Tom Segev in his book The Seventh Million. From 1953 to 1963, the reparations money funded about a third of the total investment in Israel’s electrical system, which tripled its capacity, and nearly half the total investment in the railways.
Israel’s GNP tripled during the 12 years of the agreement. The Bank of Israel attributed 15 percent of this growth, along with 45,000 jobs, to investments made with reparations money. But Segev argues that the impact went far beyond that. Reparations had indisputable psychological and political importance, he writes.
Reparations could not make up for the murder perpetrated https://getbadcreditloan.com/payday-loans-ct/thomaston/ by the Nazis. But they did launch Germany’s reckoning with itself, and perhaps provided a road map for how a great civilization might make itself worthy of the name.
Assessing the reparations agreement, David Ben-Gurion said:
For the first time in the history of relations between people, a precedent has been created by which a great State, as a result of moral pressure alone, takes it upon itself to pay compensation to the victims of the government that preceded it. For the first time in the history of a people that has been persecuted, oppressed, plundered and despoiled for hundreds of years in the countries of Europe, a persecutor and despoiler has been obliged to return part of his spoils and has even undertaken to make collective reparation as partial compensation for material losses.
Something more than moral pressure calls America to reparations. We cannot escape our history. All of our solutions to the great problems of health care, education, housing, and economic inequality are troubled by what must go unspoken. The reason black people are so far behind now is not because of now, Clyde Ross told me. It’s because of then. In the early 2000s, Charles Ogletree went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to meet with the survivors of the 1921 race riot that had devastated Black Wall Street. The past was not the past to them. It was amazing seeing these black women and men who were crippled, blind, in wheelchairs, Ogletree told me. I had no idea who they were and why they wanted to see me. They said, We want you to represent us in this lawsuit.’
In the spring of 1921, a white mob leveled Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here, wounded prisoners ride in an Army truck during the martial law imposed by the Oklahoma governor in response to the race riot. (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis)