February 8, 2001
Criticizes Holocaust Claims
By STEPHEN GRAHAM,
Associated Press Writer
BERLIN (AP) - An American author
defended a book in which he contends that Jewish
elites exploit the plight of Holocaust victims for
profit - a thesis denounced by some here who fear
it will stoke Germany's resurgent far
Norman Finkelstein, a 47-year-old New
York academic, was in Berlin on Wednesday to
promote the German edition of his book "The
Holocaust Industry." The book argues that Jewish
organizations use the Holocaust to "blackmail"
European governments into paying compensation.
He already stirred controversy after a regional
TV station pulled a documentary featuring his
theories for fear of stoking anti-Semitism.
The program, originally due to run Monday, shows
interviews with Finkelstein, Holocaust survivors
and academics on how billions of dollars in
compensation is handled by Jewish organizations. It
is now to be shown later with modifications.
"I think it's shameful that Germany television
will not let them be heard," Finkelstein said at a
news conference organized by his Munich
"There's a kind of political correctness which
makes difficult an open and honest discussion of
the issues I raise," he said, acknowledging that
the initial German reaction to his work has been
That's not surprising, as the 234-page volume,
priced at $18, is peppered with language that few
Germans would dare to use in public, even the
minority who complain it is time for Germany to
stop apologizing for its dark past.
Jewish groups "wildly inflate" the numbers of
Holocaust survivors, Finkelstein said Wednesday. "A
handful of American Jews have effectively hijacked
the Holocaust to blackmail Europe," he said.
The head of the Jewish community in Frankfurt,
Salomon Korn, accused Finkelstein of
spreading a "conspiracy theory," and criticized the
publisher for releasing a "shabby" book.
Finkelstein said he strongly supports the
principle of compensation and said he too was
concerned that his work could be taken up by the
far-right. But he argued that milking the suffering
of the victims was even more damaging.
"The main fomenter of anti-Semitism is the
Holocaust industry with its ruthless extortion
tactics," he said.
The English original of Finkelstein's book was
released last summer by a London publisher. The
German edition went on sale
Wednesday.© Copyright 2001