Monday, June 18, 2012

A Rebbe Letter on Buying German Products

Date unknown
Greeting and Blessing;

I am in receipt of your letter in which you ask my opinion "as to whether it is a weakness or impropriety" to avoid the purchase of goods made in Germany. You add that you ask this question as a Jew, in light of Jewish law and custom.

Surely this is more a matter of feeling rather than a question of Jewish law and custom. Consequently, as in all matters of sentiment, it is difficult to express an opinion that would have universal application.

At any rate it certainly cannot be categorized as a "weakness". On the contrary, a decision of this kind bespeaks strength of will, all the more so since it entails some inconvenience.

Nor can it be considered an "impropriety", since it is based on a principle which may be considered to come under the category of "Remember what Amalek did unto you". For, as is well known, the inhuman atrocities, etc., against our defenseless and innocent brethren were not perpetrated by a small group, but were carried out with the knowledge, consent and even cooperation of the vast majority of the German nation. Moreover, I do not think than anyone seriously believes that the Germany of today is entirely different from the Germany of two decades ago.

While on this subject a point must be made which, unfortunately, is often overlooked. It is that the so-called "Final Solution", which Hitler wished to bring about, can take various forms. It can take the form of an overt attempt at physical extermination, or it can be an insidious process which is no less destructive and perhaps even more so, namely, through assimilation and intermarriage, a process which began in Germany long before Hitler, when Jews tried to hide their Jewish identity and conduct their daily life like their German neighbors and associates, etc. This process, most unfortunately, is very much in evidence all around us. Whatever explanation may be given, the effect is the same. Hitler, too, had a "philosophy" that "justified" his actions.

It is too painful of a subject to dwell on here, but the conclusion is obvious. Each and every one of us who is aware of the situation must do everything possible to counteract the tide of assimilation by positive and dedicated action, to strengthen the eternal Jewish values and Torah-true institutions in his community and environment.

With blessing,


  1. If I understood correctly (the answer is a bit too subtle for me, a simple engineer...), the Rabbi recommends *not* to buy German goods.
    The matter is actually very complex. For instance, many people are not aware of the essential role played by American IBM in the success of the German death machine by means of the development of hardware (card perforating machines) and systems for database managing of the Shoah victims. Does it mean that one should not buy any kind of IBM-PC based computer? If one could extensively check this matter, perhaps it would be evident that most industrial companies from many countries, in all production fields, actively collaborated with or supplied products or services which enabled the flawless operation of the German killing machine during WWII... We have lots of products manufactured using Krupp steel, we ride daily on Siemens elevators, our cities use electric power generated with Siemens generators - all these companies used slave labor of our martyred brothers.
    I'm a bit confused on this matter, more so that I consider myself a supporter of the free market and I'm 100% for abolishing every kind of trade restrictions, as I believe that free trade is the best antidote against wars (within a "normal" context, of nations that wish to maintain solid and respectful relations). Anyway, I'll have to research a bit more on this...
    Thanks for posting this controversial article.

  2. R. Halevy, you say,
    "many people are not aware of the essential role played by American IBM in the success of the German death machine"

    If public schools were to make Edwin Black's "IBM and the Holocaust" mandatory in the curriculum, then things might be different. Anyhow, I, for one, if I have the option, would not buy german products. My parents went through the holocaust and although it's now nearly 7 decades later, to me the issue is still fresh and sore, especially because we note that Europe never learned its lesson, nor did the free world's gentiles achieve a redemptive mindset therefrom, and, of course, the Arabs are bedmates of any Fascism. Like the Rebbe said, if we can do the mitzvah of "Remember what Amalek did to you', then I believe it behooves you to do so too, despite superficial isms such as the free market. Of course, where the bother of figuring out accurately what that means can be cumbersome, as you suggest, then it may as well be overlooked.

    By the way, as for your strong support for the free market, that which only a Democracy and capitalistic society has been able up until now to support, please read:

    It might surprise you. A few more of my posts relate to this issue, but I cannot remember which just now.

    Again, thanks for your 2 agorot.