S.S. Zion and German Reparations


The ship that Gidon sailed to Israel on in 1959, the S.S. Zion, was built in Germany in 1956 and given to Israel as part of the reparations paid by West Germany to Israel. You can read more about the Zim Shipping Line here.


Negotiations for reparations from Germany to compensate for "Jewish Material Losses" totaled some 1.5 billion dollars in 1952, which is something like fourteen billion dollars today. The subject of reparations was hotly debated in Israel, with many feeling that to accept repayment from Germany would be, in a way, a willingness to forgive the Nazis for what they had done.


Most of the reparations paid to Israel over fourteen years were plowed into Israel's infrastructure and economy - equipment, factories, ships. Israel needed this economic injection to get its new country on its feet, and there is heated debate even today about the relatively small payments that Holocaust survivors received.

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