Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Book on Holocaust Restitution

The book that Michael Bazyler and I have been working on for over two years, Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy (Bazyler & Alford, eds., 2006) is now available for purchase at Amazon here or NYU Press here.
The book has received good reviews (available here) such as IAGS President Israel Charney's blurb that the book is "an invaluable text for students and scholars as well as a fascinating read for all those concerned with Holocaust and genocide issues in all disciplines and on behalf of all victims."

The book is the culmination of months of effort to convince almost all the major players in the Holocaust litigation drama to put pen to paper and retell the story from their own perspectives. It is divided into six sections: Overview, Bank Litigation, Slave Labor Litigation, Insurance Litigation, Looted Art Litigation, and The Litigation's Legacy. It includes chapters from the top diplomats (including Stuart Eizenstat and Otto Graf Lambsdorff), top historians (including Michael Berenbaum and State Department historian William Slany), top plaintiffs (including Burt Neuborne, Mel Weiss, Gideon Taylor, and Robert Swift), top defense counsel (including Roger Witten and Owen Pell) and prominent judges (including Thomas Buergenthal and Edward Korman). The full list of all contributors is available here. In all, we have gathered 38 contributors who have written over 30 chapters.

Since the "Look Inside This Book" feature is not yet available on Amazon, I will give you a sense of its contents from the Introduction:
Holocaust restitution is not about money. It is about victims. It is about individuals who have waited sixty years for something. Of course it is not about 'perfect justice,' a phrase that may never pass one's lips in the same breath as 'Holocaust.' But it is about waiting for some recognition, some voucher to validate the misdeeds that have been perpetrated.... [But] Holocaust restitution is not only about the victims. It also is about those who victimized. As German president Johannes Rau put it in the December 1999 ceremony on the signing of the German slave labor settlement, ... 'I know that for many it is not really money that matters. What they want is for their suffering to be recognized as suffering, and for the injustices done to them to be named injustices. I pay tribute to all who were subjected to slave and forced labor under German rule and, in the name of the German people, beg for forgiveness.' Such an apology is, in the words of one survivor, a 'moral victory that will live forever.' It is a recognition that promises a cleansing for the chlidren and grandchildren of those who victimized. It offers, if you will, a release from their past too. Holocaust restitution, then, is about satisfying the victims' and the victimizers' historic need for a moral accounting regarding the horrific events that transpired during and after the Second World War.
If you are interested in Holocaust restitution as a scholar or lay person, I would encourage you to purchase the book. I'm not tooting my own horn when I say that it was a joy to work with these great people and I think you will find it a delight to read.


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