The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering is a 2000 book by Norman Finkelstein, in which the author argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for political and financial gain, as well as to further the interests of Israel. According to Finkelstein, this "Holocaust industry" has corrupted Jewish culture and the authentic memory of the Holocaust.
Finkelstein states that his consciousness of "the Nazi holocaust" is rooted in his parents' experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto; with the exception of his parents themselves, "every family member on both sides was exterminated by the Nazis". Nonetheless, during his childhood, no one ever asked any questions about what his mother and father had suffered. He suggests, "This was not a respectful silence. It was indifference." It was only after the establishment of "the Holocaust industry", he suggests, that outpourings of anguish over the plight of the Jews in World War II began. This ideology in turn served to endow Israel with a status as "'victim' state" despite its "horrendous" human rights record.
According to Finkelstein, his book is "an anatomy and an indictment of the Holocaust industry". He argues that "'The Holocaust' is an ideological representation of the Nazi holocaust".
In the foreword to the first paperback edition, Finkelstein notes that the first hardback edition had been a considerable hit in several European countries and many languages, but had been largely ignored in the United States. He sees The New York Times as the main promotional vehicle of the "Holocaust industry", and says that the 1999 Index listed 273 entries for the Holocaust and just 32 entries for the entire continent of Africa.
Chapter 1: Capitalizing The Holocaust - by the 1980s, Finkelstein states, the "War against the Jews" had become more important to American cultural life than the "War Between the States". (p. 11)
Chapter 2: Hoaxers, Hucksters and History - in 1967, Finkelstein claims that two concepts appeared in public discourse: The uniqueness of the Holocaust, and the concept of the Holocaust as climax of a historical irrational anti-Semitic tendency in Europe. Finkelstein asserts that these concepts became central to the "Holocaust Industry", but that neither figures in scholarship of the Nazi Holocaust. (p. 13)
Chapter 3: The Double Shakedown - in this chapter, Finkelstein claims that the number of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust recognized by relief groups increased from c. 100,000 in 1945 to nearly 1 million owing to definitional changes in who was considered to be a survivor. Because of this, Finkelstein repeatedly asserts that fraudulent claims were made on Switzerland, while accounts and assets in the US and Israel were ignored. Payments were made to the wrong people and real survivors lost out.
The second (2003) edition contained 100 pages of new material, primarily in chapter 3 on the World Jewish Congress lawsuit against Swiss banks. Finkelstein set out to provide a guide to the relevant sections of the case. He feels that the presiding judge elected not to docket crucial documents, and that the Claims Resolution Tribunal could no longer be trusted. Finkelstein claims the CRT was on course to vindicate the Swiss banks before it changed tack in order to "protect the blackmailers' reputation".
Fraudulent writings on the Holocaust
Finkelstein claims that there are two known frauds connected to the Holocaust, that of The Painted Bird by Polish writer Jerzy Kosinski – which was published as fiction – and Fragments by Binjamin Wilkomirski. He claims that Kosinski and Wilkomirski were defended even after their supposed frauds had been exposed. He identifies some of the defenders as members of the "Holocaust Industry", and writes that they also support each other. Elie Wiesel supported Kosinski; Israel Gutman and Daniel Goldhagen (see below) supported Wilkomirski; Wiesel and Gutman support Goldhagen.
Finkelstein compares the media treatment of the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, particularly by members of what he calls "The Holocaust Industry". One to 1.5 million Armenians died in the years between 1915 and 1917/1923 - denial includes the claim that they were the result of a civil war within World War I, or refusal to accept there were deaths. In 2001, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres went so far as to dismiss it as "allegations". However, by this time historical consensus was changing, and, according to Finkelstein, he was "angrily compared … to a holocaust denier" by Israel Charny, executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem.
Forms of Holocaust denial
According to Finkelstein, Elie Wiesel characterized any suggestion that he has profited from the "Holocaust Industry", or even any criticism at all, as Holocaust denial. Questioning a survivor's testimony, denouncing the role of Jewish collaborators, suggesting that Germans suffered during the bombing of Dresden or that any state except Germany committed crimes in World War II are all evidence of Holocaust denial – according to Deborah Lipstadt – and Finkelstein says the most "insidious" forms of Holocaust denial are "immoral equivalencies", denying the uniqueness of The Holocaust. Finkelstein examines the implications of applying this standard to another member of the "Holocaust Industry", Daniel Goldhagen, who argued that Serbian actions in Kosovo "are, in their essence, different from those of Nazi Germany only in scale".
According to Finkelstein, Deborah Lipstadt claims there is widespread Holocaust denial, though he says her prime example in Denying the Holocaust (1993) is Arthur Butz, author of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. The chapter on him is entitled "Entering the Mainstream" - but Finkelstein considers that, were it not for the likes of Lipstadt, no one would ever have heard of Arthur Butz. Finkelstein claims that Holocaust deniers have as much influence in the US as the Flat Earth Society (p. 69).
The book has been controversial, receiving a number of both positive and negative reviews. The Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg praised Finkelstein's book:
I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against the Swiss banks, and the other claims pertaining to forced labor. I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy. He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results. I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein's breakthrough.
Israeli historian Moshe Zuckermann welcomed his book as an "irreplaceable critique of the ‘instrumentalisation of the past’ and underlined its ‘liberating potential’".
Donald D. Denton reviewing the book for Terrorism and Political Violence journal noted that it "will be valuable as an historical piece of research and of interest to those who now attempt to deal with the contemporary genocides and the subsequent generations of children of those who endured such horrors".
Finkelstein's response to critics
Finkelstein responded to his critics in the foreword to the second edition (published in 2003), writing "Mainstream critics allege that I conjured a 'conspiracy theory' while those on the Left ridicule the book as a defense of 'the banks'. None, so far as I can tell, question my actual findings."https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_Industryhttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein was born on December 8, 1953, in New York City, the son of Harry and Maryla Finkelstein, née Husyt. Finkelstein's parents were Jewish. His mother grew up in Warsaw and survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the Majdanek concentration camp. His father was a survivor of both the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz.
After the war they met in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria, and then emigrated to the United States, where his father became a factory worker and his mother a homemaker and later a bookkeeper. Finkelstein's mother was an ardent pacifist. Both his parents died in 1995.[non-primary source needed] Finkelstein has said that "they saw the world through the prism of the Nazi Holocaust. They were eternally indebted to the Soviet Union (to whom they attributed the defeat of the Nazis), and so anyone who was anti-Soviet they were extremely harsh on". They supported the Soviet Union's approval of the creation of the State of Israel, as enunciated by Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko, who said that Jews had earned the right to a state, but thought that Israel had sold its soul to the West and "refused to have any truck with it".