The German Reparations (Shilumim)







The Israeli-German negotiations about the German Reparations started early in 1952 and continued during the whole year. This was a very stormy year. The country was still recovering from the hardships of the War of Independence. The waves of Jewish nee comers, Olim, from North Africa, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and the survivors of the Holocaust were not yet absorbed. The small Yishuv, the Jewish community that shouldered all these great tasks was also severely divided politically, and still learning the first lessons in structuring its recently founded Democracy.
The Government faced the need to redefine National Priorities. Economic stress was the main worry.
Levi Eshkol supported the Reparations Agreement., despite the advise of many.
The opposition to the Reparations was enormous. Many predicted moral degeneration. Amongst the waves of demonstrations there were the Holocaust Survivors, who in front of the Ministry of Finance demanded recognition of their handicaps and payments for their rehabilitation. Demonstrators, human skeletons, marched on the house, shouting .
Puzzling Eshkol and others, the same survivors who demand payments for their sufferings, and the same individuals and groups that demanded financial support for their economic initiatives, lifted their fists against the Reparation Agreement. Facing that confrontation, and unwilling to argue with and offend the painful, Eshkol forced himself into silence.
His planned to use the Reparation money for the rehabilitation of the survivors and the development of the infrastructure of the economy: the foundation of metal-industries, chemicals and phosphates, water systems - national and regional, exploiting the rich resources of the Negev, etc.


... A short time before the signing of the Agreement the Germans suggested that Israel would help them receive American funds, so that they would be able to pay...

Eshkol's humor -


"An investor from abroad was interested to know if in Israel it was possible to make a small fortune. He was told that the sure way of making a small fortune in Israel is to bring a large fortune..."
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Friends asked Eshkol, the Minister of Finance: "How is it that people believe you when you say "no" , while they do not believe other Ministers?" -"People think that when others say that they do not have, they really have and refuse to give. Me - they believe that I donít have, and they are sorry for me..."
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