The Holocaust Industry by Norman Finkelstein

I just finished reading “The Holocaust Industry” by Norman Finkelstein, sent to me by my friend Gaurav Ahuja a while back.
Both of Finkelstein’s parents had survived the Warsaw ghetto and both of his parents were the only ones, of their families, who had survived the war.  In spite of this, or perhaps because of this, his perspectives are refreshingly different from what we have come to expect from the leftist elite.
The first part of the book, which I did not find especially interesting, explains the evolving relationship between American Jewry, Israeli Jewry and the Nazi Holocaust.  I am certain that many other readers would find it quite interesting.  As for me, politics make my eyes glaze over.
Toward the middle of the book, Finkelstein shows us how powerful Jewish elites harnessed the tragedy of the Holocaust for their own monetary and political gain.  He shows us how shady and powerful Jewish organizations extorted millions of dollars from governments and banks – and then used the money for their own pet projects (and for their own personal wealth) rather than transferring it to actual survivors.  He cites several examples of dubious Holocaust history and scholarship and how, once those works were exposed as fraudulent, the Holocaust industry continued to lend them credence anyway.
Finkelstein names many names in his book, and slaughters a lot of sacred cow – so it is no wonder that he lost his job, as assistant professor at DePaul University, and is the target of threats and intimidation.  Finkelstein is a leftist and he annoyingly reminds us of this periodically in his book.  I wonder if this has given him any additional armor against his critics.  Somehow I doubt it; the Left is not known for being gracious or merciful.
For me, one of the most interesting paragraphs in the book was the following (pg. 127):

As the Holocaust industry plays with the numbers to boost its compensation claims, anti-Semites gleefully mock the “Jew liars” who even “huckster” their dead.  In juggling these numbers the Holocaust industry, however unintentionally, whitewashes Nazism.  Raul Hilberg, the leading authority on the Nazi holocaust, puts the figure for Jews murdered at 5.1 million.  Yet, if 135,000 former Jewish slave laborers are still alive today, some 600,000 must have survived the war.  That’s at least a half-million more than standard estimates.  One would then have to deduct this half-million from the 5.1 million figure of those killed.  Not only does the “6 Million” figure become more untenable but the numbers o fthe Holocaust industry are rapidly approaching those of Holocaust deniers.  Consider that Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler put the total camp population in January 1945 at a little over 700,000 and that, according to Friedlander, about one-third this number was killed off by May.  Yet if Jews constituted only 20 percent of the surviving camp population and, as the Holocaust industry implies, 600,000 Jewish inmates survived the war, then fully 3 million inmates in total must have survived.  By the Holocaust industry’s reckoning, concentration camp conditions couldn’t have been harsh at all; in fact, one must suppose a remarkably high fertility and remarkably low mortality rate.

In their zeal to inflate the numbers and suffering of Jewish victims, the Holocaust industry has sought to belittle the suffering of other ethnic groups.  Finkelstein relates how the Holocaust industry used its political clout to disparage victims of the Armenian holocaust and the mass murder of Gypsies by the Nazis.  More famously, Finkelstein opines that the Holocaust has been used as a tool for the oppression of Palestinians in Israel.
I think it all boils down to greed and the attempt to enforce a hierarchy of suffering – as in the saying of Plato, quoted by Finkelstein at the end of his introduction, “You can’t compare any two miserable people and say that one is happier than the other.”

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9 Responses to The Holocaust Industry by Norman Finkelstein

  1. Bay Area Guy says:

    I’ve read this book as well.
    I don’t think that any of Finkelstein’s scholarly analysis is that original. To his credit, he’s not trying to produce an original work of history, but rather trying to analyze the fraud behind the industry.
    Most of his knowledge on Nazi holocaust related issues comes from Raul Hilberg.
    What makes Finkelstein so popular is that he’s a polemicist, which makes him an entertaining read.
    I actually saw him speak at my university during the Muslim Student Union sponsored “Israeli Apartheid Week.”
    What do you think of his views on Israel?

  2. Bay Area Guy says:

    By the way, I’ve been reading “Righteous Victims” by Israeli historian Benny Morris.
    It’s a good book, and was also written while he was still an objective historian and before he became a shameless Zionist apologist.
    Regarding Finkelstein, he’s entertaining and gets a lot of things right, but the problem with polemicists such as himself is that they favor this romanticized “Israelis bad, Palestinians good” kind of history. Like most leftists, he buys into this whole “nobility of the oppressed” fallacy.
    History is rarely that simple. For the most part, you don’t have easily defined villains and romanticized heroes.

  3. Patrick says:

    Frankly I would like to learn some more information about the other ethnic and social groups that suffered. I have grown up hearing almost exclusively about the jewish suffering during the holocaust and of course that’s important to learn about but I know almost nothing about other groups that suffered.

    • Erranter says:

      I don’t see why people get so angry that the Jews write about their own people and then promote those writings. The Poles lost some 3 million and it was horrible, but the Poles didn’t write about it as extensively and study it as much as the Jews, and that’s a huge reason why we don’t hear about it. The Jews are interested in their own people; should they be writing about every other holocaust, too? They can write their stories if they like, but they just tend not to, not nearly as much.

      • Erranter says:

        “They,” as in other groups of people. I’d like to hear about it myself, but even a lot of Russians and other Eastern Europeans who lost tons of people just gloss over it. Part of it is because people quite similar to themselves did the killing, or even their own state did it, and they don’t want to consider that.

      • Patrick says:

        I’m not angry jews write about jews in the holocaust. I just think there should be more of an effort by our media and academia to get into the experience of non-jewish people deeper than they have been doing when it comes to the holocaust.

    • Voat > Reddit says:

      You might be interested in memoirs like “The Men With The Pink Triangle.” Jews, Romani (brown triangle) and homosexuals (pink triangle) had the lowest survival rates. The people with green triangles–people who were sent to concentration camps for being criminals, and not any racial reason–had higher survival rates, which matches Holocaust survivor accounts that say members of the former groups were singled out for especially brutal treatment. Such accounts are a lot more trustworthy than Elie Wiesel’s “Night” (the first edition of “Night”–which started out as a book written in Yiddish titled “And The World Remained Silent”–had no mention of the kid being hanged and the “God is here, on the scaffold” dialogue).

  4. AJ says:

    believe me, russians dont “gloss over it”. its just that jews have much more influence in the american media than (non-jewish) russians, so you dont hear about it. russians dont want to consider that the russian state was evil? really?

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