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January 2000

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH TO PAY BACK?

Since W.W.II there has been much fingerpointing and disagreements over who had been involved with whom and why things happened the way that they did. In the end, all that mattered was the end result and how to solve it.

There had been facts and rumors regarding several prominent American and European corporations involved with the Nazis, both before and during W.W.II. Amongst those corporations were Chase National Bank, Standard Oil, Du Pont, Ford and GM. Henry Ford had been known as a staunch anti-Semite (himself and Adolph Hitler each had pictures in their offices of the two of them together). Through the years though, many people, for different reasons, refused to believe these facts and called them blasphemous and inciting lies. The website Conspiracy Hell had received much hate mail and several death threats for printing the known factual list of the companies involved and their detailed participation.

As of the end of 1998, several lawsuits had been filed against GM and later against Ford for the use of Jews as slave labor during W.W.II. Now, in current news, Ford and GM have conceded that they had indeed used Jewish slave laborers during the war. They have agreed to pay compensation to those who were forced into the ordeal. Previously, there had been a large amount of ignorance regarding the war. Finally the story comes to a close as to whether or not corporations had had any part in anti-Semite activities during W.W.II.

Now the problem lies in the question of "how much is enough"? There have been other Jews, including those who have suffered through the war as well as those who just had family suffer, have, in different lengths, attempted to sue for monetary repayment and gains. The last major lawsuit was directed at Switzerland for "refusal" to release stolen money and treasures. It just seems that many people have suffered through wars throughout history and most do not receive any reimbursement. Basically, war is war and that equals suffering and loss from all angles. So, what is fair? Will it truly repay any suffering? More importantly, does it help to stifle racism or end up promoting it through more anger.

In recent decades and centuries many peoples have suffered and receive pittance of repayment, if any at all. The Blacks have received practically nothing for their past sufferings, including racial bias that was made illegal in the 1960s but continues since in different extremes. American Indians have been practically raped of everything including their own culture and have received only embarrassing settlements. The Japanese interred in camps did receive a little, but hardly anything substantial, not to mention the Americans in Japanese camps during the same W.W.II who were tortured mercilessly.

Does money solve the issues? Does it really help to ease any pains? Perhaps. But at what price? While slander and stereotypes are thrown about, does not the repeated requests for monetary settlements merely egg on the rift? Especially since so many other have not received nor ask for repayment for such things as bombed out towns and historic buildings, lost families and fortunes, loved ones. Money will never bring back the life that once had been. Look at the issues between the Croatians and the Serbs in recent months. Who will ever repay any of them and bring back what they have lost? No one. But, at least for now, a question has been answered and some wrongs admitted and we hopefully will all move on ahead from here. Will it work for any good? Time will tell.

Written by Philip Anderson
Following the story of the Ford/GM settlement (click here)

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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