70 years Luxembourg Agreement

Saturday, 10 September 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  8 minutes

Luxembourg City Hall © Cayambe/cc-by-sa-3.0

Luxembourg City Hall © Cayambe/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Reparations Agreement between Israel and the Federal Republic of Germany (“Luxembourg Agreement”, “Wiedergutmachungsabkommen” or “Reparations Agreement”) was signed on September 10, 1952, and entered in force on March 27, 1953. According to the Agreement, West Germany was to pay Israel for the costs of “resettling so great a number of uprooted and destitute Jewish refugees” after the war, and to compensate individual Jews, via the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, for losses in Jewish livelihood and property resulting from Nazi persecution.

In 1952, the first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion argued that the reparation demand was based on recovering as much Jewish property as possible “so that the murderers do not become the heirs as well”. His other argument was that the reparations were needed to finance the absorption and rehabilitation of the Holocaust survivors in Israel.

According to the website of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, or Claims Conference, “In response to calls from Jewish organizations and the State of Israel, in September 1951 Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of West Germany addressed his Parliament: “… unspeakable crimes have been committed in the name of the German people, calling for moral and material indemnity … The Federal Government are prepared, jointly with representatives of Jewry and the State of Israel … to bring about a solution of the material indemnity problem, thus easing the way to the spiritual settlement of infinite suffering.”

One month after Adenauer’s speech, Nahum Goldmann, co-chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and president of the World Jewish Congress, convened a meeting in New York City of 23 major Jewish national and international organizations. The participants made clear that these talks were to be limited to discussion of material claims, and thus the organization that emerged from the meeting was called the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany—the Claims Conference. The Board of Directors of the new conference consisted of groups that took part in its formation, with each member agency designating two members to the board: “The Claims Conference had the task of negotiating with the German government a program of indemnification for the material damages to Jewish individuals and to the Jewish people caused by Germany through the Holocaust.”

Train set manufactured by Maschinenfabrik Esslingen in the old Jerusalem Railway Station, shortly after delivery as part of the reparations agreement with Germany, 1956 © Moshe Pridan

Train set manufactured by Maschinenfabrik Esslingen in the old Jerusalem Railway Station, shortly after delivery as part of the reparations agreement with Germany, 1956 © Moshe Pridan

Israel’s relations with Germany, already extremely delicate on account of the Holocaust, were complicated further by Cold War politics and the division of Germany into mutually hostile Eastern and Western states; the former a communist satellite aligned with the Soviet Union, the latter a liberal democracy oriented towards the West. Due to a variety of factors, it quickly became apparent that West Germany would be the state most willing and able to deal with Israeli claims related to the Holocaust. To complicate matters further, Israel also had to be sensitive to the strategic interests of the United States which, following the breakdown in the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union, had come to believe the establishment of a prosperous West German economy was essential to forge a reliable and productive alliance with the postwar democratic government, seated in Bonn.

Israel was intent on taking in what remained of European Jewry. Israel was also recovering from the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and was facing a deep economic crisis, which led to a policy of austerity. Unemployment was very high, especially in the ma’abarot camps, and foreign currency reserves were scarce. David Ben-Gurion and his party, Mapai, took a practical approach and argued that accepting the agreement was the only way to sustain the nation’s economy. “There are two approaches”, he told the Mapai central committee. “One is the ghetto Jew’s approach and the other is of an independent people. I don’t want to run after a German and spit in his face. I don’t want to run after anybody. I want to sit here and build here. I’m not going to go to America to take part in a vigil against Adenauer”.

Negotiations were held between Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. In 1951, Israeli authorities made a claim to the four powers occupying post-war Germany regarding compensation and reimbursement, based on the fact that Israel had absorbed and resettled 500,000 Holocaust survivors. They calculated that since absorption had cost 3,000 dollars per person (equivalent to $31,300 in 2021), they were owed 1.5 billion dollars (equivalent to $15.7 billion in 2021) by Germany. They also figured that six billion dollars worth of Jewish property had been pillaged by the Nazis, but stressed that the Germans could never make up for what they did with any type of material recompense. Negotiations leading to the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany began in March 1952 and were conducted between representatives of the government of the Federal Republic, the government of the State of Israel, and representatives of the World Jewish Congress, headed by Dr. Goldmann. These discussions led to a bitter controversy in Israel, as the coalition government, headed by David Ben-Gurion, claimed that reparations were necessary to restore what was stolen from the victims of the Holocaust. The agreement was signed by Adenauer and Moshe Sharett on September 10, 1952, at Luxembourg City Hall. The German Parliament (Bundestag) passed the agreement on March 18, 1953, by a large majority, 239 for and 35 against, though only 106 of the ruling CDU/CSU’s 214 MPs supported the motion, which relied on the unanimous support of the opposition Social Democrats to get through. The Arab League strongly opposed the motion and threatened a boycott of the Federal Republic of Germany after it passed the restitution agreement, but the plan was abandoned due to economic considerations, namely that the Arab League would suffer far more from losing trade with West Germany than West Germany would from the Arab League.

Israel’s economic situation was so precarious at the time that the (survival) viability of the state was acutely threatened. The agreement also paved the way for diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel. Together with other agreements and grant agreements, around 80 billion euros have been made available to date and at least 3-digit millions are added every year. Israel evaluates these donations, but also those from the USA and other countries, as “government revenue”, which is why the country today has a seemingly remarkable GDP and per capita income (during the life of the agreement, German reparations payments accounted for about 15% of Israel’s GDP, created 45,000 jobs and ensured Israel’s survival). The actual situation of the citizens clearly cannot keep up with the statistical acrobatics.

Read more on Wikipedia Luxembourg Agreement (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife

Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife

[caption id="attachment_160851" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Playa Jardín © Daniel Gainza[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Puerto de la Cruz (which in English translates as and was formerly known as "Crossport", although nowadays it is usually known in all languages by its Spanish name) is a city and municipality located in Spain, on the north coast of Tenerife island, in the Orotava Valley. It is located 4 km (2 mi) west of La Orotava, and 37 km (23 mi) W of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and 25 km (16 mi) from Tenerife North Airport b...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Brunei - Kuala Belait

Theme Week Brunei - Kuala Belait

[caption id="attachment_219943" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © flickr.com - IQRemix/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Kuala Belait, officially known in Malay as Pekan Kuala Belait (literally 'Kuala Belait Town'), is a town located in the westernmost part of Brunei, in Belait District. It is the second largest settlement in the country after Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, and functions as the capital for the district. Kuala Belait is officially a municipality (Malay: bandaran), as well as a village-level su...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Honduras - Comayagua

Theme Week Honduras - Comayagua

[caption id="attachment_220517" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Comayagua Cathedral © Einkimadu/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Comayagua is a city and municipality in Honduras, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Tegucigalpa on the highway to San Pedro Sula and 594 metres (1,949 feet) above sea level. The accelerated growth experienced by the city of Comayagua led the municipal authorities to structure a territorial reorganization plan. Between the years of 1945 -1975 the population of the city quadrupled due to...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Tuscany - Arezzo

Theme Week Tuscany - Arezzo

[caption id="attachment_150379" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Piazza Grande © LPLT[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Arezzo is a city and comune in Central Italy, capital of the province of the same name, located in Tuscany. Arezzo is about 80 km southeast of Florence, at an elevation of 296 m above sea level. In 2011 the population was about 100,000. Arezzo is set on a steep hill rising from the floodplain of the River Arno. In the upper part of the town are the cathedral, the town hall and the Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea), f...

[ read more ]

The port city of Geelong

The port city of Geelong

[caption id="attachment_153604" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Waterfront © Marcus Wong/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Geelong metropolitan area is the second most populated area in the Australian state of Victoria. Located 75 kilometres (47 mi) south-west of the state capital, Melbourne, the port city is situated around Corio Bay and the Barwon River. The metropolitan area runs from the plains of Lara in the north to the rolling hills of Waurn Ponds to the south, with the bay to the east and hills to the west, an...

[ read more ]

LP12 Mall of Berlin

LP12 Mall of Berlin

[caption id="attachment_151565" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Naturally Selenator/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The heart of the heart - the Leipziger Platz project area is located precisely in the heart of this dynamic metropolis. This highly prominent location in the city of Berlin is absolutely unique and offers huge potential. Because of the proximity to Potsdamer Platz and Sony Center, which are already extremely well visited locations, an extremely high volume of visitors is always ensured. This means that L...

[ read more ]

Saint-Omer in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region

Saint-Omer in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region

[caption id="attachment_160649" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Angel Aroca Escámez/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Saint-Omer is a commune in France. It is a commune and sub-prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais department 68 km (42 mi) west-northwest of Lille on the railway to Calais. The town is named after Saint Audomar, who brought Christianity to the area. The canalised portion of the river Aa begins at Saint-Omer, reaching the North Sea at Gravelines in northern France. Below its walls, the Aa connects with the Neuf...

[ read more ]

The hotel ship Queen Elizabeth 2

The hotel ship Queen Elizabeth 2

[caption id="attachment_203448" align="aligncenter" width="590"] near the Cunard Building in Liverpool © flickr.com - Eric The Fish/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as QE2, is a floating hotel and retired ocean liner originally built for the Cunard Line, which operated by Cunard as both a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship from 1969 to 2008. Since 18 April 2018, she has been operating as a floating hotel in Dubai. QE2 was designed for the transatlantic service from her ho...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Umbria - Todi

Theme Week Umbria - Todi

[caption id="attachment_153577" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Hans Peter Schaefer[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Todi is a town and comune (municipality) of the province of Perugia in central Italy. It is perched on a tall two-crested hill overlooking the east bank of the river Tiber, with distant views in every direction. Todi is a member city of the Cittaslow movement. In the 1990s, Richard S. Levine, a professor of architecture at the University of Kentucky, chose Todi as the model sustainable city, because of its sc...

[ read more ]

The Art Nouveau town of Ålesund

The Art Nouveau town of Ålesund

[caption id="attachment_152216" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Ålesund from Fjellstua © sgm[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Ålesund is a town and municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. It is part of the traditional district of Sunnmøre, and the center of the Ålesund Region. It is a sea port, and is noted for its unique concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. Ålesund town is the administrative centre of the municipality as well as the principal shipping town of the Sunnmøre district. Ålesund municipality ...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
© flickr.com - Sammy Six/cc-by-2.0
Mada’in Salih in Saudi Arabia

Hegra (known to Muslims as Al-Hijr, also known as Mada’in Salih or "Cities of Salih") is an archaeological site located...

Diamond Exchange Center from Azrieli Center © flickr.com - Ted Eytan/cc-by-sa-2.0
Ramat Gan in Israel

Ramat Gan is a city in the Tel Aviv District of Israel, located east of the municipality of Tel Aviv...

Hortensia, one of the symbols of Brittany at the local market © Marc Schuelper/cc-by-sa-3.0
Perros-Guirec in Brittany

Perros-Guirec is a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany in northwestern France. It has been a seaside resort since...

Close