This isn’t, really, about the Holocaust

Amsterdam will refund relatives of hundreds of Jews who were fined for being late with their rent during their incarceration in World War II concentration camps, city officials said Friday.
“From today, the descendants of the families can ask to be reimbursed for the fines imposed for late rental payments during World War II, which were unfairly collected,” the Dutch city said in a statement.

Rather, it’s about the way that the petty offices of the State simply rumble on even when disaster strikes. Whether it’s true or not I’m not sure but there’s a story that the US Mail continued delivering between North and South into 1864….

11 thoughts on “This isn’t, really, about the Holocaust”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Rather, it’s about the way that the petty offices of the State simply rumble on even when disaster strikes.

    This is actually a tougher moral question than it looks. We want to live in a country of laws and rules. We want those laws and rules to be clear and to be obeyed. For various definitions of “we” I suppose.

    Part of that rule of law is the concept of the state as something outside us, something that is not a patrimonial possession of one person, or one family, or one tribe, but something that exists as a continuing legal person. We usually have nothing but contempt for Iraq where the state was clearly not something the population thought of as belonging to everyone, but a tool of one man, one tribe, to be looted as soon as it was safe to do so.

    So naturally, when war breaks out, we still want policemen to patrol, bureaucrats to do their job, car registrations to be approved. Because both Britain and Germany existed before the war and would continue to exist after the war.

    The problem comes because the Holocaust is such an exceptional event in history. How should the census taker feel when he learns his lifetime’s work has been used to identify every Jew in Holland? How should the railway worker feel when the trains he made run on time turned out to be taking people to their deaths? But how is an individual to know when exceptional times have arrived when the state kills in secret?

    I am not sure compensation should have been paid. It has certainly been paid so late it is meaningless and just another form of empty moral posturing by people who had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

    It is not a simple issue however you see it.

  2. Careful SMFS you are admitting the democratic State has a legitimate existence and legal responsibilities. The many enemies of the State ,any state, particularly a welfare state, on here won’t like that. Get ready for a shit pie onslaught of ad hominem abuse.

  3. “there’s a story that the US Mail continued delivering between North and South into 1864….”: pity it’s not true. If Lincoln asserted that the Confederacy was bogus and all those states were truly part of the USA, then surely the mails should have continued? That he stopped the mails while allowing slavery to continue within The Union is not a pretty picture.

  4. Can’t see anyone here would have a problem with SMfS’s view of the State, DBC. That more what they’d like the State to be. Neutral. And not to be a tool of whatever bunch of ideologues get’s their hands on it.

  5. The time for adjudication and reparations is at war’s end. Spending time and money to try to repair a hundred million historical atrocities is a fool’s errand. That we should do what the people 70 years ago decided not to do is hubris.

  6. Reed: Whatever ad hom you get on here you deserve as you are a rambling apologist for socialist evil and tyranny.

    No abuse is required to point out that SMFS is entirely wrong about the functions of the state. Anything useful it does could be better done by the market and private action.

    Given that the state is an entrenched evil that cannot be easily or quickly destroyed we all have to compromise or give up our life in conflict. At least until the time comes that compromise is no longer possible or even grudgingly acceptable.

  7. “SMFS is entirely wrong about the functions of the state. Anything useful it does could be better done by the market and private action.”

    There was some mention in the paper’s last week of people who’ve had problems with providers enforcing phone contracts, even when they’ve moved across the Atlantic. And looking at it from the telco’s point of view, why not? They do have a contract. The telco is still supplying the service. We can all think of instances where the private sector has acted “unreasonably” . But the private sector is’t in the business of being “reasonable”. It’s in the business of making money.
    So if you want “reasonable”, maybe for some things the State’s a better bet. Because the State can assign a value to “reasonable”. In the instance of the post, private landlords would have been quite within their rights to impose penalties for non-payment of rent. The reason for non-payment’s not their problem. The private bit means private. No obligation to public good or woolly notions like “reasonableness.” But, ignoring the appropriateness, what would you reckon the chances of a private landlord in wartime Amsterdam coughing up compensation 75 years later? Without a very hard fought legal battle?

  8. If you have been taken to death camp and have lost everything including your family and even your own clothes, how the hell would you be paying rent to anyone private or “public”? And how and with what would any “fines” be paid? How would you even know you had been fined unless someone is suggesting the Nazis operated a mail forwarding service for their victims.

    I suppose the Amsterdamned could have confiscated property from the flat but surely the Nazis would have looted such at the time of the arrest anyway.

  9. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Ah Mr Ecks, you poor naive chap. 🙂

    You make the mistake that we, who have never really experienced tyranny and indeed many poor Germans made after 1933. they believed that they lived in a rechstaat and that rules were there for a reason.
    A dictatorship just makes up the rules as it goes along, it has no one to answer to.
    The persecution of the Jews in Nazi Europe had the happy corollary that it filled the Nazi state’s coffers.
    Imposing spurious rents or fines was just another method of expropriating more money laid with a thin veneer of legitimation ( probably to slave the bureaucrats conscience). On the off-chance that these poor souls had any money hidden away in a bank or anything still worth flogging, the Nazi state could “legitimately” steal it.
    Hitler’s Germany was effectively bankrupt from the mid 1930s and could only survive by expropriation, annexation and slave labour.

    On another note, my late wife used to make a very cogent statement when such subjects arose:
    “You know, everyone makes fun of Mussolini – about the trains and his rubbish army – but he did make the Italians all learn to speak Italian. A lot of them learnt to read and write too.”

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