possibility of starting a direct dialogue between the Israeli and the German governments on the question of Holocaust reparations. 6 At the time of Mendelsohn’s travels, many in Israel opposed the idea of having economic, political or social contacts with Germany – let alone of accepting any kind of material restitution or compensation for the horrors committed by the Nazis against the Jews. While his mission was not secret (indeed, several newspapers found out about his activities and reported them), it was not to be widely advertised, either, and Mendelsohn tried to
The rapprochement between Germany and Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust is one of the most striking political developments of the twentieth century. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to it as a ‘miracle’. But how did this ‘miracle’ come about? Drawing upon sources from both sides of the Iron Curtain and of the Arab–Israeli conflict, Lorena De Vita traces the contradictions and dilemmas that shaped the making of German–Israeli relations at the outset of the global Cold War. Israelpolitik offers new insights not only into the history of German–Israeli relations, but also into the Cold War competition between the two German states, as each attempted to strengthen its position in the Middle East and the international arena while struggling with the legacy of the Nazi past.
mention ‘[p]roviding reparations and assistance to victims and restoring
essential services’ only as their final point ( UN Secretary-General, 2016 : 10, Recommendation 13).
It also overlooks the fact that incident accounts have value in themselves for those
providing them. Currently, contributors’ accounts can be excluded for failing
to meet the (externally imposed) threshold, even though it is concern for the lives
of these same healthcare workers and the broader
When the negotiations between West Germans and Israelis began, on 21 March 1952, the atmosphere was tense. The opening announcement read by the Israeli delegation stated that no amount of reparation would ever be enough to compensate the Jewish victims of the Nazi crimes. The one read by the West German delegation recognised the unprecedented nature of the crimes committed against the Jews – but it also stressed the importance of recognising Bonn’s limited ability to pay reparations under the present circumstances. 1 The slow rhythm of the exchange was marked
take on the events was rather different. As he made clear during his talks with the German negotiators, Naguib insisted that the FRG ‘“owed” [the] Arab States an “indemnity”’ and that the ‘long-term credits to [the Arab States], of which Egypt would get [the] lion’s share, should “at least” equal [the] amount of reparations paid [to] Israel’. 4 US Ambassador Caffery worked hard to help the West Germans reach out to the local authorities, and explained to the Bonn delegation the main issues that were behind the attitude of the Egyptian counterparts – i.e. their
upon important facts. The FRG agreed to pay reparations to Israel seven years after the liberation of the last concentration camp. The agreement that the two countries signed in 1952 was unprecedented and revolutionary in the history of post-genocidal reconciliation. At that time, Benjamin Ferencz, former Chief Prosecutor for the US Army at the Einsatzgruppen trial at the Nuremberg war trials, stressed that with the agreement Germany had ‘established a milestone in international morality’. 1 Up to that moment, only victors in a war could demand reparations from
denounced the United States’ hesitance to financially support Egypt especially because, he claimed, Washington was so openly subsidising Israel – among other ways via Bonn’s compensations to the Jewish state. Nasser’s seizure of the Suez Canal thus presented the East German authorities with an excellent opportunity to ride the wave of anti-Western sentiment in Egypt and across the Arab world, by portraying themselves as the champions of the anti-imperialist cause as allegedly demonstrated by the East German unwillingness to engage in reparations negotiations with Israel
discussions at Paris gave at least a chance to redress this situation.
However, as Robert Skidelsky has aptly put it, ‘[a]ny chance the world had
of regaining political, economic and moral equilibrium [after the Treaty of
Versailles] was fatally undermined by the inability of American and
European statesmen to liquidate the twin and connected problems of interAllied War debts and German reparations.’19 Once Germany had been
blamed for the war and its consequences it became inevitable that the main
economic business of Paris would be tied up with assessing the bill with
Originally established in 1953 as a humble operation concerned solely with reparations, under the leadership of Felix Shinnar the Israeli mission in Cologne gradually took on a much more significant role. Slowly but surely, Shinnar laboured to get direct and privileged access to the highest echelons of West Germany’s foreign policy, with the ultimate goal of establishing full diplomatic relations between Israel and the FRG. By 1958, Chancellor Adenauer, Foreign Minister von Brentano, and many other leading FRG representatives from across the political spectrum
. From an Israeli perspective, these payments were crucial. Defence- and security-related expenses had increased substantially at the turn of the decade as the country expanded its armaments arsenal just as reparations from Germany and other foreign investments and capital transfers were declining. 1 But strengthening economic ties was not just important for the Israelis. In fact, such economic cooperation also acted as a multiplier of commercial opportunities to promote both West German and Israeli goods in third countries. Each side could, thanks to the other