Confronting the Transfer Agreement
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|Martin Barillas||October 12th 2009|
Spero Forum editor
Prize-winning investigative author Edwin Black, known for holding dozens of speaking events on each of his several books, has decided to participate in just a single presentation for the 25th anniversary re-release of his controversial volume The Transfer Agreement (Dialog 2009). The historic event, slated for October 30 in the Washington D.C. suburbs, is the first on the topic Black has agreed to in years, and will feature questions emailed from around the world. Articles and postings on the Internet and in Jewish and academic media have solicited questions in advance from readers, communal leaders and Holocaust survivors. For years, the author has declined interviews or speaking events on this topic.
Rather than deliver prepared remarks, Black will be interviewed by Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt of Congregation B'nai Tzedek. Mitchell Bard, editor of Jewish Virtual Library, will moderate and posit questions from both the audience and from those emailed in advance. Questions worldwide can be addressed at www.transferagreement.com or emailed to TAinquiry@edwinblack.com. Emailed questions must include a verifiable name and address. The Transfer Agreement event innovates the inclusion of questions previously submitted from those not present in the audience, a first for a book store author event.
Although Black is best known for books such as IBM and the Holocaust and War Against the Weak, his first bestseller was The Transfer Agreement, in 1984, chronicling the minute-by-minute dealings of Zionists and Nazis in 1933 that brought some 60,000 Jews and the equivalent of $1.7 billion dollars to under-developed Palestine. The controversial agreement rescued European Jews and assets, and helped create the Jewish State, but was the subject of a firestorm of outrage both during the 1930s and then again when Black’s book was first published in 1984.
The Transfer Agreement was awarded the Carl Sandburg Award for the best book of the year in 1984 and became the basis for Black’s entre into the world of Holocaust journalism. Quickly, however, the book became a cause célèbre for partisan recriminations among Israeli political parties, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Zionists. The book was the first to focus on assets as a central Holocaust issue, which at the time in the early 1980’s was considered a taboo approach to the subject.
Eventually, the book was seen as what the Chicago Tribune called, “A struggle to write a painful chapter in Jewish history” and what the Jerusalem Post called, “historical journalism at its best.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency calls Black’s new 2009 introduction “stunning.” This re-release features an Afterword by Anti-Defamation League national president Abraham Foxman, who wrote, “Decades later, it is easy to employ judgmental hindsight. Those who do so were not there but seem to think that books, records, and movies can adequately recreate the context. We are talking about the thirties—a very bad time for European Jews.”
Barnes and Noble in Rockville, Maryland will host the historic event on October 30, 2009 sponsored by History News Network, and cosponsored by Jewish Virtual Library, State of California Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Institute for Religion and Public Policy, Binghamton Social Justice Fund, Spero News, The Auto Channel, Energy Publisher, The Cutting Edge News and Dialog Press.
Martin Barillas is editor of the Spero Forum.