I am entitled to reparations and restitution

Almost every American Democrat Candidate for President has signed on to the demand that American Blacks are entitled to reparations for the original sin of slavery.  I began to wonder if I might be entitled to reparations and even restitution too, only I am not Black.

My father was a slave. He was an Austrian Jewish refugee who “escaped” to France.  He was sold to the Vichy French as slave labor in Southern France.  He built the roads, the beautiful corniches along the Mediterranean that so many tourists ride along today bringing billions of dollars to the French economy.  After working on the roads, and being beaten severely for his unpaid efforts, he was sold to the French Winemakers in and around LaGrasse in Languedoc.

When he was not worth much to the French anymore, they traded him to the Germans for a French imprisoned soldier.  The Germans send him to Auschwitz where he worked as a slave laborer at a sub-camp, Pieskowische, for an electrical contractor building communications for the Nazis.

The Germans next sent him to nearby Blechammer to work as a slave at the giant chemical plant that Allied bombers attacked regularly. The bombers were never quite able to target the rail lines to Auschwitz fifty miles away.  Eventually, he was liberated in Buchenwald.

My mother’s story as a German slave went from Poland to Bergen Belsen. My mother certainly was entitled to restitution.  Before the War, my grandfather had extensive real estate holdings in Lodz, Poland. Long after the War, the Poles offered to return the property provided my family returned to live in Lodz.  There was an intervening problem. Poles killed Jews who survived the Holocaust who had the nerve to return to claim their former property. She chose not to return to Lodz. My mother’s family filed claims and received nothing.

Neither was ever paid any reparations for their having been slaves.

My mother did get some restitution payments because her health had been ruined.  She spent the remaining years of her life a paranoid schizophrenic. She believed the Germans were coming to finish the job, to kill me, to kill my cousins. Beware the white powder she would warn.  The Germans stored a white powder poison to lace the food at Belsen. They planned to give it to the Jews before the British liberated them.

My father died shortly after the war from injuries he sustained as a slave. Yad Vashem does not count him as a Holocaust victim. He did not die during the War years. By Yad Vashem’s definition, he was not a Holocaust victim. His name cannot be entered into their records of the 6,000,000

I never thought of being entitled to reparations or restitution because the horrors of the Holocaust affected my parents directly and me only with the secondary smoke of history. I grew up free and healthy in America with my White Privilege, looking over my shoulder lest the Long Knives come. As a young person, I knew I could live anywhere I wanted in Washington, D.C. so long as it was not in posh Chevy Chase because the real estate covenants said No Hebrews. I could go to the beautiful beaches on the Chesapeake Bay so long as I avoided the ones with the signs that said no Dogs and Jews. I did not have to worry about restricted schools because I went to a Yeshivah.

With all the Democrat Presidential talk about reparations, I wondered, and now I am feeling entitled to reparation payments to me because my parents were slaves not just for the Germans, but for the French. Using P.C. victim logic, Americans owe me for not liberating my parents soon enough, as does the Church, and the world for anti-Semitism that continues to this day again rising from the never dead, dead.

Should my children be entitled to reparations? They too, as third generations, and my grandchildren as fourth generations, have been affected by the smoke of the Holocaust, slavery and historical antisemitism?

Am I not entitled to reparations from Minister Farrakhan for his perpetuating the hate that led to my family’s slavery?  Perhaps, U.S. Congresswomen, Reps. Rashida Talib and Ilhan Omar, promoting anti-Semitism, owe me reparations through the American government for stirring anti-Semitism and making me insecure as an American?

Do I owe compensation to the American soldiers for injuries they sustained or to the children of the soldiers who died to liberate my parents?

I must admit being confused how this reparation thing will work.  Do I owe reparations to American Blacks for slavery?  Do I owe restitution to American Native Americans for their lost lands?  Do American Blacks owe restitution or reparations to the Union soldiers who died to end slavery?

Do Jews owe Arabs reparations or restitution for returning to their once Jewish homeland as refugees from certain death only to be turned away by Arab pogroms?  Can I say that to the millions coming to America’s Southern border today mostly seeking economic opportunity are entitled to reparations?  Do Arabs owe Sephardic Jews reparations and restitution for having expelled 650,000 Jews from Muslim countries?  What about India and Pakistan who expelled, uncompensated, millions of human swapped pawns in population exchanges? Do not the Muslims and Hindus have claims?

No doubt, the P.C. police, especially the Tribal ones, will confirm I am confused.

Will a one-time payment make everything O.K.?

A few virtue dollars changes nothing.

The forever obligation to fight bigotry cannot end.

If ongoing racial hatred, prejudice and discrimination is the standard for reparations–Jews are entitled to a forever stream of payments from the world for anti-Semitism?

About the Author
Jerry is the president and founder of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, www.JASHP.org. He is the son of Survivors of Buchenwald and Bergen Belsen. He is a former Yeshivah student and served with the IDF in the Sinai. He is the author of over 100 articles in publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post to the Prairie Connection to the San Diego Jewish World. Jerry is frequently interviewed on T.V. and Radio about the American Jewish experience. The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has completed projects in 33 US. States and in 5 countries. Over 7,000,000 people annually benefit from one of JASHP's projects. JASHP has completed seven projects in Israel. Most recently, the first ever historic memorial to the Exodus in Israel, July 2017. The Exodus was known as the "Ship that Launched a Nation". December 2017, the Machal Memorial in Jerusalem to the 5,000 Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers who came to Israel when they needed her most during the War of Independence.
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