Sunday, February 24, 2008

1951 Anti-German Reparations Demonstrations

from Yitzhak Heimowitz

At the urging of Norman Cohen and Steve Adler I did look at my scrapbook and discovered that the Oct.25, 1951 demonstration was only one of several opposing German reparations. On Jan 11, 1952 Betar demonstrated before the Israel Consulate General in Manhattan against the arrest of hundreds of Herut members and Betarim in Israel who were also demonstrating against the deal with Germany.

On Jan 20, 1952 thirty Betarim demonstrated at the Biltmore Hotel against another meeting of the Jewish organizations pressing for reparations. This got a lot of publicity including the NY Herald Tribune and the NY Times. The Betarim sat in the halls outside the meeting room, reading Tehillim and praying (Mincha and perhaps Maariv). The conference organizers offered the Betarim two choices: a) one or two would be admitted and permitted to address the meeting, or b) a representative would come out to address the Betarim. Otherwise, they threatened the NY Police commanded by a captain, who were waiting downstairs, would come up and break up the demonstration.

The Betarim rejected both choices and demanded they all be admitted to the meeting. Supposedly the police were sent for, but at that minute the meeting ended, the door opened and delegates began to leave. The Betarim all immediately rushed into the room, distributed their leaflets and shared it for a while, debating with the remaining delegates.

Of course I have all the material on the Apr. 1956 invasion of the Egyptian Consulate General, but that will have to wait for another time. I could spend all of my time on this and I don't have that much to spend, so drop by drop.

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