The conference Wiedergutmachung: Auseinandersetzung – Entschädigung – Verantwortung in Berlin discussed the legacy of the German reparation program; 70 years after the signing of the Luxembourg Agreement (1952)which, signed by Israel, the Jewish Claims Conference and Germany, forms the basis for all future compensation schemes for atrocities of National-Socialism.
While the ‘Wiedergutmachung’ is considered often as model in dealing with past crimes, voices from archives and interviews show instead: The state mostly determined the terms of recognition with little space for victims to articulate their needs. Nicole Immler and José Brunner, both stated a notorious lack of dialogue in the reparation procedures. This neglect is mirrored in recent debates on reparations for colonial crimes. A voice from the audience “broadened” the conversation in a much-needed way: What does Holocaust memory mean for new German citizens who bring their own past (often formerly colonized) with them? What are the consequences of memory politics for questions of citizenship? While the public and political debate is dominated by difference, discussing Holocaust and Colonialism as separate entities, Bénédicte Savoy, called for a relational approach; stolen objects from National-Socialism and Colonialism rest in the same archives, archivists work on both. She stressed the need to invite African scholars ‘to answer questions from below’: in a panel on ‘global perspectives’ this was a missed opportunity. The debate showed: The digitization of all Wiedergutmachungs-files accessible on a web portal of the Bundesarchiv is laudable, but will not be enough.
For program see: