In the meantime, Israel decided to accommodate hundreds of thousands of Jews who immigrated from Arab countries. Then, the economic situation in Israel coincided with Germany’s desire to return to the international stage as a sovereign country. Against this backdrop, negotiations were launched on compensations.
German Chancellor Adenauer’s address to the Bundestag was the point of departure for these negotiations. The address was brief and concise: Adenauer did not recognise the responsibility of the German people as the majority of Germans opposed and resisted the Nazi regime. Nevertheless, Adenauer admitted the crimes against the Jews and Jewish properties.
The address was sufficient to initiate and proceed with the negotiations on compensations. It also marked the start of economic and military relations between both sides.
Domination of the Holocaust over the moral and political discourse in Germany did not take place in the 1950s. Rather, it came to light and developed in later stages. Undoubtedly, the USA played a key role in consolidating the Holocaust as an intellectual and moral milestone in the 20th century.
Interestingly, though, economic and military cooperation between Germany and Israel preceded the apology and taking ownership of the historical, moral and political responsibility.
Will Israel’s relations with Germany continue to be overshadowed by the Holocaust?
The Holocaust memory continues to be a landmark.
Israel’s security, existence and future is a cornerstone in Germany’s foreign policy. However, it is neither clear nor perceived what Israel’s security and existence mean. Where are the borders of Israel? What is the relationship between occupation and security? Over the past few years, particularly after Trump was elected President of the USA, particular differences in the foreign policies of Germany and Israel seem to be in place.
The first dispute concerns International Law and international bodies. Contrary to Israel, Germany seems to attach great importance to these in the making of its foreign policy. Secondly, differences have recently surfaced regarding the Iranian nuclear file. The administration of this issue seems to involve serious disagreement between the USA and Israel on the one hand, and between Germany and Israel on the other.
Thirdly, the approach to the Palestinian file has clearly featured serious differences. This disagreement has not risen to the level of a serious, open confrontation.
Finally, Germany follows up on the government of Israel’s prosecution of activities carried out by human rights organisations. Some of these actors enjoy the direct support of the German government.
So far, these disagreements have not changed the essence of the relation between the two states, nor have they affected Germany’s unconditional commitment to Israel. However, disagreement indicates that a potential change in the distant future is seen as a possibility.