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“Reckonings” – riveting documentary film explains how the agreement to offer reparations to Holocaust victims came about

By BERNIE BELLAN Since 1952 the German government has paid more than $562 billion in compensation for crimes committed during the Holocaust, of which $472 billion has been paid to the State of Israel (in goods and services) and $90 billion in cash to individual Holocaust survivors.
How the German government came to agree to compensate victims of the Holocaust is a fascinating story – and one that is the subject of a spellbinding documentary film called “Reckonings.”
On Sunday afternoon, November 12 over 150 people gathered in the auditorium of Westwood Collegiate in St. James to view “Reckonings” and to participate in a discussion that followed the film led by Jewish Heritage of Western Canada Executive Director Belle Jarniewski and Jewish Child and Family Service Holocaust Support Services Worker Adeena Lungen.
The event was timed to coincide with the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht – “the night of broken glass,” which took place Nov. 9-10, throughout Germany, when over 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps, and at least 100 Jews killed.
“Reckonings,” released in 2022, was directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Roberta Grossman. In a style first pioneered by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, Grossman uses historical footage, occasional reenactments, interviews with various individuals who appear from time to time throughout the film – but never for more than a couple of minutes at one time, and music composed to fit the moment, all in a fast-cutting mode that maintains your attention throughout the 74 minutes of the film.

West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer


The crux of the story is how the West German government, led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, decided to take full responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust, and offer reparations to Holocaust victims.
If there is any one hero in this film, it is Adenauer. As the film explains, he was a former mayor of Cologne whose family was fiercely anti-Nazi. As well, Adenauer was a devout Catholic – something that played a significant role in his wanting to come to terms with German guilt and atone for the collective sins of the German people.

Head of the Claims Conference Nahum Goldmann


On the Jewish side, the key figure working with Adenauer – and negotiating on behalf of Holocaust victims was Nahum Goldmann, who co-founded the World Jewish Congress in 1936 with Rabbi Stephen Wise.
Goldmann had been stripped of his German citizenship by the racist German Nuremberg laws (and although the film doesn’t explain it, he found refuge in Honduras.) Yet, the fact he was German-born and was able to develop a warm relationship with Adenauer proved key to the eventual creation of what came to be known as the “The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.”
The film unravels the many complexities that were involved in negotiating what turned out to be an agreement of monumental consequence, especially bringing together Jewish and German negotiators across from one another.
In the opening moments of “Reckonings,” co-producer Karen Heilig observes, “You can just imagine what it was like for Jewish representatives to sit down with German representatives only seven years after World War II…It was like negotiating with the devil.”
As the film explains, Israelis themselves were largely opposed to negotiating reparations with the German government. As Heilig observes, “They didn’t want German money.”
Similarly, most of the German population was also opposed to the idea of reparations. “Only 11% of the German population supported compensation” for Jews, according to the film.
In a very interesting insight into the psyche of the German population following the war, it is also noted that, when it came to who the German people thought were most victimized by the war, “Jews were last on the list.”
Amidst what was evidently still a deeply-rooted antisemitism within the German population – and strong opposition from within his own party (Christian Democrat), Adenauer remained adamant that Germany would negotiate reparations – both for individual victims of the Holocaust and for the recently formed State of Israel. (The Federal Republic of Germany itself only came into being in 1949.)
One of the crucial factors in Israel agreeing to negotiate reparations – after having been so solidly opposed, came toward the end of 1951, the film explains, as a result of the Israeli treasury almost being totally bare. The reason was the extraordinarily high cost that the Israeli government had incurred as a result of absorbing hundreds of thousands of refugees since the formation of the state – both Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab countries.
Yet, despite the precarious state of Israel’s finances, there were still many who refused to countenance the notion of Israel accepting German reparations. In fact, at the time that negotiation began, in 1952, there was a boycott of German goods in Israel.
As the leader of Herut (also leader of the Opposition in the Knesset), Menachem Begin insisted, “reparations will lead to cleansing the guilt of the German people.”
However, notwithstanding the fierce opposition from among many Israelis to entering into negotiations with the German government, Israel’s government, led by David Ben Gurion, did announce that it was ready to discuss reparations, but it led off with a claim for $1 billion – the cost, it said, for absorbing 500,000 Holocaust survivors.
Adenauer agreed to negotiate with both the Israeli government and a representative organization of the Jewish people – but at the time there was no organization in place to do that.
Thus was created “The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany,” with Nachum Goldmann at its head. The other members of the negotiating team had clear goals in mind: What they were negotiating with the West German government was not about “morality,” it was about dollars and cents.
To that end, the negotiators wanted to break down compensation into two different categories: compensation for personal suffering and compensation for property lost to the Nazis.
The problem was: Who would claim compensation for property when everyone who might have owned particular properties had been annihilated?
I actually put that question to Adeena Lungen during the discussion that followed, since the film didn’t go into any detail as to how that circle could be squared. Adeena explained that survivors of Holocaust victims are often able to claim compensation for personal suffering, for which there is significant information available, but compensation for loss of property is often much more difficult to ascertain.
Agencies such as JCFS, which help survivors apply for compensation often rely upon archival information that “gives a wealth of information about property based on the recollections of others from a particular shtetl.” As Adeena further noted, “in Poland, wherever you lived there was a document that recorded where you lived” – and there is now an “online database” based upon those documents from where anyone can get detailed information about where individuals lived.
Before teams representing the three parties (West Germany, Israel, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany) for the coming negotiations met, however, Konrad Adenauer met with Nahum Goldmann in secret to determine certain basic points: Was West Germany actually ready to pay reparations and where would the negotiations take place?
The answers to those questions were: Yes, West Germany was ready to pay and two, the negotiations were to be held in a neutral county – in this case, The Netherlands.
Although Israel and the Claims Conference were to be separate parties to negotiations with West Germany, it was agreed that Israel and the Claims Conference would coordinate their strategies together.
Prior to the commencement of negotiations, however, the film explains, “German officials wanted to come to terms with the rest of the world, then Israel and the Claims Conference,” but Israel took the position that “No, you have to come to terms with us and the Claims Conference, then the rest of the world.”
With West Germany accepting that as a pre-condition to negotiations, the representatives met and, after a prolonged series of negotiations, West Germany did agree to provide $857 million in reparations, of which $750 million was to go to Israel (but not in cash, as the film explains; rather, it was in goods and services, including raw materials, industrial machinery, and ships for the Israeli navy), while the Claims Conference was to receive $107 million.
However, many individuals were excluded from the deal to receive compensation, including anyone living behind the Iron Curtain and people who had been in hiding during the war.
One of the key individuals during the negotiations with Germany was Ben Ferencz, who passed away this past April. Not only was Ferencz the sole surviving negotiator for the Claim Conference, as Belle Jarniewski also pointed out, Ferencz was the last surviving prosecutor from the famed Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. Ferencz is featured quite prominently in “Reckonings,” as he was able to give a first-hand account of what the negotiations were like.
The final agreement worked out between West Germany and Israel, on the one hand, and West Germany and the Claims Conference, on the other, came to be known as the Luxembourg Agreement. It has served as the basis for all subsequent agreements to compensate Holocaust victims by the German government.

The last surviving member of the Claims Conference delegation (who passed away this past April) Ben Ferencz


Of the $90 billion that has been paid out in reparations since 1953, over 270,000 Holocaust survivors were among the first recipients of the initial $107 million paid in 1953. Since then, an additional 500,000 individuals have received payments. And, although the Luxembourg agreement was only intended to provide compensation to survivors in 1953, ever since then there have been regular negotiations between the German government and the Claims Conference, which have resulted in varying amounts being negotiated each time.
Insofar as Holocaust survivors who moved to Winnipeg are concerned – of whom there have been over 1500 individuals over the years, Belle Jarniewski explained the process through which they receive compensation from the German government.
In 1948 something called the United Restitution Office was established to help Holocaust survivors. (The Canadian office was founded in 1952.) The purpose of the office was to help survivors with individual claims. Case files were established for survivors, including claims and documentation describing difficulties survivors have encountered during their lifetimes. In 2022 those files were transferred to the care of the Jewish Heritage Centre.
Adeena Lungen (about whose role at JCFS helping Holocaust survivors we described in some detail in an article in our December 20, 2021 issue, which can be downloaded on our website – simply go to jewishpostandnews.ca and, under the “Search Archive” tab at the top, and enter Dec. 20, 2021 to download the complete issue. The article about Adeena is on page 3.), explained that JCFS has been working with Holocaust survivors in Winnipeg since 2000. Adeena has been serving in her role as Holocaust support services worker for the past 20 years, she noted.
Adeena noted that, in addition to compensation available from the German government for Holocaust survivors, other countries have, in recent years, also begun to offer compensation in certain cases. (For instance, in our two most recent issues we posted an advertisement for compensation now being offered to Jews who were former residents of Lithuania.) Other countries offering compensation now include France, Austria, Poland and Romania, Adeena added.
When asked how a survivor could go about proving that they are actually a Holocaust survivor (and there have been numerous bogus attempts over the years by individuals falsely claiming to be Holocaust survivors), Adeena described the steps JCFS, for instance, will take to verify someone’s claim, noting however that, while JCFS will do an initial assessment of someone’s claim, the final determination rests with the Claims Conference.
According to Adeena, a claimant must submit documents, such as identity papers from the country of origin.
Currently there are still 200,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide, of whom 150,000 have been receiving distributions from the Claims Conference. Adeena noted that new files are still being opened for Holocaust survivors. (Apparently there are still Holocaust survivors who have been unaware that they are eligible to receive compensation.)
In 2022, for instance, the Claims Conference was able to distribute $562 million to 150,000 individual Holocaust survivors. An additional $750 million was distributed to social welfare agencies worldwide, including JCFS. If you would like more information about compensation for Holocaust survivors, contact Adeena Lungen at alungen@jcfswinnipeg.org.

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Features

Popularity of Online Casino Games in Canada

In recent years, the popularity of online casino games in Canada has surged, captivating the attention of a diverse audience seeking thrilling entertainment. With the convenience of accessing these games from the comfort of home, Canadians are exploring the vast world of virtual casinos that offer an extensive array of gaming options.

Diverse Selection of Casino Games:

One of the key factors contributing to the widespread appeal of online casino games in Canada is the vast selection available. There are hundreds of top casino games online, covering every genre imaginable. From classic table games like poker and blackjack to immersive slot machines with captivating themes, Canadian players have a plethora of options to choose from.

The Rise of Online Slots:

Among the various casino games, online slots have witnessed a significant surge in popularity. The ease of gameplay and the potential for substantial payouts make slots a preferred choice for both seasoned players and newcomers. With themes ranging from ancient civilisations to popular movies and TV shows, online slots offer a diverse and engaging experience for players of all preferences.

Convenience and Accessibility:

The accessibility of online casino games is a key driver behind their growing popularity in Canada. Players no longer need to travel to a physical casino to experience the thrill of gambling. Instead, they can enjoy their favourite games with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device. This convenience has opened up the world of online gambling to a broader audience, attracting both seasoned gamblers and those trying their luck for the first time.

Technology Advancements:

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the online casino gaming experience. High-quality graphics, realistic sound effects, and seamless gameplay contribute to an immersive environment that mirrors the excitement of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the integration of live dealer games brings an authentic touch to online gaming, allowing players to interact with real dealers in real-time.

Regulatory Environment:

The regulatory environment in Canada has also contributed to the popularity of online casino games. While each province has its own regulations, the overall legal framework allows for a thriving online gambling industry. This has given rise to reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and adhere to strict industry standards, ensuring a fair and secure gaming environment.

Social Aspect and Community Engagement:

Online casinos in Canada are not just about individual gameplay; they also provide a platform for social interaction. Many online casinos feature chat rooms and community forums where players can connect, share experiences, and discuss strategies. This sense of community adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the gaming experience, making online casinos a social activity beyond the solitary pursuit of winning.

The popularity of online casino games in Canada is undoubtedly on the rise, driven by a combination of diverse gaming options, convenience, technological advancements, and a favourable regulatory environment. With a wide array of top casino games available at their fingertips, Canadians can indulge in the excitement of gambling from the comfort of their homes. As the online casino industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual gaming is here to stay and will likely continue to captivate audiences across the country.

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Features

Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman

By ORLY DREMAN

(Special to the JP&N) Feb. 1, 2024

In every news broadcast that we hear that “The IDF spokesman is permitted to announce”… then every person in Israel sits down, holds their breath and waits to hear the names of the soldiers fallen in action that day. This causes deep sadness to every family in Israel. For example, I found out the son of my T.V technician was killed and my handyman’s son was seriously injured. Death in Israel is so personal.

Our synagogue recently mourned twenty seven year old Inbar Heiman who was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music nature party on October seventh and was murdered in captivity. She was a gifted young woman filled with love and compassion. She was a creative artist that was supposed to enter her senior year at university this academic year. We had prayed and wished that she would return until her family received the tragic news of her death.

When we made personal medical visits to the Hadassah hospital, we often heard helicopters overhead bringing in wounded soldiers from Gaza. In the surgery department we saw a reserve soldier being released after six weeks in the hospital. His wife and newborn baby were with him. The department had a touching farewell gathering with Israeli flags, music and cakes. This is how every soldier who leaves the hospital is treated. More than fourteen thousand civilians and soldiers were hospitalized since October seventh with most of the injuries being in the hands and legs, burns, head and eye injuries.

We seldom are in the mood to go to a restaurant these days, but if we do, such outings are accompanied by guilt feelings. Is it right to go when our people are suffering?- the hostages are starving. We all wear the metal disc that says “Bring Them Home now- Our hearts are captured in Gaza”. They occupy our thoughts pervasively. Some of the hostages have suffered untreated gunshot wounds and the hygiene conditions are poor, many of them not showering for four months, sitting thirty meters under the ground in dark tunnels, with no electricity and suffering from extreme malnutrition. Some of them have diseases like Celiac, Asthma, Colitis, Diabetes, Fibromialgia, heart diseases and allergies. They are getting no medications and time is running out for them. Twenty five of them have already perished. What sort of civil society will we be if we abandon them?

Whole families are recruited for combat duty in different areas of the country. It might be a brother and a sister fighting in Gaza or a father in Judea and Samaria while another brother is fighting on the Lebanese border. If you ask soldiers who have lost their siblings in combat if they wish to go back to fight after the shiva, they do not hesitate, even though it is so hard on the parents. This demonstrates the dedication of Israeli citizens and their wish to complete the task of exterminating the Hamas, while at the same time knowing their family member did not die in vain. The grief is intergenerational and we are even acquainted with grandparents whose grandchildren are in combat and they are given the opportunity to go to workshops that help them with their anxiety.

In a Knesset Committee it was recently reported That many survivors from the Nova party have taken their own lives. Others continue to experience the trauma of the horrific events. They cannot sleep nor eat. Many were sexually abused and even though they were not murdered they continue to experience the pain- the sights, voices- cries for help and the fear. They are in a sense also fighters who awaken to a new existence everyday and continue to fight for their existence.

At the military cemeteries there is one funeral process after another and the families are asked to leave the site to make room to prepare for the next funeral. Wounded soldiers arrive in ambulances, on hospital beds or wheelchairs in order to eulogize their fallen comrades.

The reservists who return home after months of combat are having troubles adjusting because this war, like the War of Independence, is very meaningful. It is the most justified war our homeland has encountered. Upon their return there is a big downfall in physical and mental energy. A stranger cannot understand this. These soldiers were disconnected from normal civilian routine for a long time and they had difficult and intimate experiences with their combat mates. They have lost friends and did not have time to mourn. They must release the stress they were exposed to. They are back in body but not always in spirit. They also might be recruited again in the near future to the southern or the northern front, the war is not over. Many men who were injured worry about their future fertility and sexual functioning.

They entertain such existential thoughts as would it be better that I am killed in action before I have children and leave no descendants, or losing my life and leaving behind orphans. Dozens of children remain orphaned from both parents. They also have witnessed their family members being murdered and their homes burned down. Years ago, Solly treated and did a follow up on a family where both parents were murdered in a terrorist attack. Even though the children were adopted by loving relatives they suffered from survivor guilt and this expressed itself in such phenomena as dropping out of school, turning into juvenile delinquents and having trouble in intimate relations.

The evacuees from the south and the north are dispersed in hundreds of hotels in the center of the country. Hence, they have no permanent home, have no privacy and many have no work, nothing to do for months on end and experience feelings of powerlessness. Some pupils are not capable of returning to their temporary schools because of anxieties, depression and fear. Some teenagers have turned to drugs and alcohol which increases violence and vandalism. For them school is experienced as a waste of time. Their friends were murdered, some still have relatives in captivity and everything is falling apart. They also experience sleep disruptions and are in no mood to study. For them life is a living hell. Some families are moved from city to city several times. The children do not have friends in the new locations and they feel lonely and express a lack of social support.

In the realm of parenting many mothers even those who were NOT directly exposed to the dramatic events reported that their children cry more (eighty three percent). Others say the children have difficulties sleeping (seventy three percent), have concentration problems (fifty four percent) and many children are developing eating disorders. In sixty percent the anxiety of the children is so high it hurts functioning. For example, they are often afraid to leave the house. Other disturbances were reported such as bed-wetting, insisting on sleeping with their parents and acts of anger and aggression.

We, as Israelis are also concerned with our Jewish brethren who are experiencing thousands of antisemitic incidents, higher than the number of all incidents in the last decade. There are many Jews in the diaspora who are considering emigration to Israel after experiencing antisemitic events such as seeing their synagogue, Hebrew school, kosher butcher and other Jewish businesses being stoned and burned. For them Israel is their safest haven.

On a more optimistic note the Jewish people have prevailed over thousands of years despite terrible events. In spite of the uncertainty not everything is lost. We are united and strong. The soldiers are full of motivation and good values. I firmly believe that if we are patient and persist, the Jewish people and the state of Israel will prevail.

Orly Dreman is a 10th generation Israeli. Her cousin, Ruvi Rivlin, was a former president of Israel. Orly’s father was a diplomat who served both in North America and in Europe.
By profession Orly is an English teacher. She has dealt with children suffering from ADD.
Since childhood, Orly has been involved in voluntary work with the disabled, the challenged, new immigrants, the elderly and others. 

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Features

The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

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