The Untold Story of The Nazi-Radical Zionist Collaboration
At the beginning of 1935, a passenger ship set sail from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Haifa in Palestine. The ship's name—Tel Aviv—was painted in Hebrew letters on the starboard bow. Yet the flag fluttering over the vessel bore the Nazi swastika. There was a similar paradox regarding the ship's owners and its crew. The Tel Aviv's owner was a German Jew, and a leading figure of Zionist movement in German lands. The captain, however, was a member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party).
Decades later, one of the passengers on that voyage would interpret the situation as a "metaphysical absurdity." Yet the Nazi-radical Zionist collaboration symbolized by the Tel Aviv was no contradiction. On the contrary, the ship was just one small example of a reality that writers of the official history have taken great pains to conceal from us.
What rationale lay behind this unusual alliance, at first glance so difficult to believe? For an answer to this question, we must journey back into history.
From Diaspora to Zionism
Anti-clerical movements gained strength with the Reformation that began in the late Middle Ages. Luther (right) and Calvin (left) were the Protestant movement's most important religious leaders. One of the main features of reformist religious figures was their close relations with certain Jews.
One of history's oldest peoples, the Jews, had lived in and around Palestine for centuries. In 70 AD, Roman armies captured Palestine and Jerusalem, where they destroyed the Temple and banished most of the Jews from Palestine. With that date begins the period of the Diaspora—or dispersion of the Jews—which would last for many centuries. The Jews scattered throughout the known world. A great number settled in Europe, eventually concentrating in Spain and eastern Europe, but for the most part, failed to assimilate into the populations among which they lived.
There were two reasons for this. The first was that some of them considered themselves superior to the goyim, or non-Jewish gentiles, based on their conviction later inserted in the Old Testament that they were "the chosen people." Considering themselves as an elect, these Jews thought it unacceptable, indeed humiliating, to intermarry or even mix with "lesser" peoples. A second, scarcely less important reason was the way they were viewed by the societies in which they lived. Europeans, in particular, were not on friendly terms with the Jews. During the Middle Ages, Christians harbored a deep aversion toward the Jews. Catholic Europe didn't like the Jews, nor did the Jews like Catholic Europe.
These circumstances prodded the Jews to assume a distinct social status. They were unhappy with the established order, but more importantly, possessed the power to change that order. In particular, their power lay in money. Usury, or lending money at interest, was the most important profession for most Jews during the Middle Ages, up through modern times. The Church had forbidden its members to lend money at interest, which was sinful according to Christian doctrine. But in Judaism, lending money at interest to non-Jews was not prohibited; it was even one of the significant aspects of Judaism. During the Middle Ages, therefore, European Jews became identified with usury. Through this profession, passed on from father to son, they were able to accumulate large fortunes. By the end of the Middle Ages, Jewish usurers were lending money at interest to princes and even to kings.
Certain Jews used the economic power they thus acquired to undermine the established order in Europe. They supported opposition to the Church, beginning late in the Middle Ages and reached its peak during the Protestant Reformation. One example of this is the friendly relationship that existed between some Jews and such theologians as Jan Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli, who formulated doctrines against the Catholic Church. In reaction, the Catholic Church identified them as "half-Jews" or "crypto-Jews."
The Protestant Reformation weakened the Catholic Church and, especially in northern Europe, let the Jews acquire certain rights and privileges. But for some Jews, who saw themselves a chosen people and superior to all others, this was not enough. They possessed economic power, but lacked political power, which was shared among the Church, the kings, and the nobles. Certain Jews were beginning to enter the bourgeoisie, a new social class distinct from Church, royalty, or aristocracy. In the 18th and 19th centuries, some Jewish bankers became the most important economic force in Europe. During the 19th century, the power of the Rothschild dynasty in particular became legendary, and the Rothschilds came to be regarded as Europe's lords of high finance.
The bourgeoisie, in which Jews played such leading roles, acquired political power through the French Revolution and the reforms and changes that followed it. The leaders of the Enlightenment, which had paved the way for the French Revolution, objected to religion's guiding role in civil life and championed democracy over monarchy. The ensuing developments allowed Jews to enjoy exactly the same rights as Christians; and in the years following the French Revolution, Jews all across Europe began to achieve civil equality. Most European countries eventually abolished legal and social limitations on Jews, as they should have. Jews could now share the same rights, rise in the ranks of government, and acquire political power. The first Jew to enter the British House of Lords was a Rothschild banker. Not long afterward, Benjamin Disraeli became Great Britain's first Jewish prime minister. Meanwhile, popular prejudices and antipathies against the Jews were decreasing in Europe, as Christianity's influence on society diminished. Throughout the countries of northern Europe, and in England especially, traditional anti-Semitism was being replaced by a trend that regarded the Jews sympathetically and defended their rights.
The first and foremost of these rights was the dream that Jews had held over the centuries: to return to Canaan, now Palestine. Ever since their expulsion in 70 AD, the Jews maintained their emotional attachment to that land. Throughout the long centuries they had dwelt in Europe, they saw themselves as living on foreign soil, and envisioned a future return to their "homeland." Always during the rites of the Jewish New Year was expressed the fervent hope "Next year in Jerusalem." Since most of the Jews considered themselves "chosen people," they have long aspired to live in no ordinary land, but rather in the land God promised to the Children of Israel, according to the Old Testament.
The Jews' spiritual attachment to the lands of their forefathers and their desire to live on those lands are exceedingly justified. What is wrong is to expel from their homes people who have lived in those same lands for centuries, to inflict suffering on them, and to use force and violence against them for the sake of this demand. Palestine is sufficiently extensive for Muslims and Jews to be able to live together. Indeed, Muslims and Jews and Christians all lived together in peace and security for 400 years under Ottoman rule, and were free to fulfill their religious obligations however they wished. Ideologies incompatible with religious moral values subsequently began to influence the region, damaging that peace and security. Once people begin to live by true religious moral values, then it will be possible to rebuild the permanent peace so fervently desired for the last half century.
The Emergence of Political Zionism
With its support for Zionism, the Balfour Declaration— published by Arthur James Balfour, British foreign minister of the day—laid the groundwork for the foundation of a Jewish state in the Middle East.
Right: Arthur James Balfour, and the Declaration he published.
For centuries, the Jews had anticipated that returning to Palestine would be possible only with the help of a savior, known as the Messiah. In the middle of the 19th century, however, two rabbis formulated a novel interpretation of this doctrine. Realizing that the Jews had acquired political power and that Europe was ready to help them, Rabbi Judah Alkalay and Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Kalisher claimed that there was no longer any need to await the Messiah, because the Jews could return to Palestine through their own economic and political clout, with the help of the great European powers. This would be the first step toward the coming of the Messiah.
This rabbinical interpretation influenced young Jewish nationalists who weren't particularly religious, yet still felt Jewish based on racial consciousness. Without question, the most famous of these was a young Austrian journalist named Theodor Herzl. By transforming the two rabbis' proposition into an active political movement, Herzl founded political Zionism, which derived its name from the sacred Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Its aim was the return of world Jewry to Palestine as a result of a lengthy program. Herzl presided at the first Zionist congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1898, which established the World Zionist Organization. This organization would direct the movement with patience and persistence until the establishment of Israel.
Zionism emerged and developed under the influence of the nationalist movements of the time. To achieve their aims, however, some Zionists adopted means that, as we shall be seeing in due course, included elements that no person of good conscience could possibly accept, and would even be rejected by many Zionists themselves.
The WZO had two main goals: to make Palestine fit for Jewish settlement and to induce all Jews, beginning with those in Europe, to immigrate to Palestine. In 1917, considerable progress was made toward the first aim. By issuing the Balfour Declaration, the British government gave notice of its support for establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, which had been captured from the Ottoman Empire during the World War I. For the Zionists, this was a great victory to have the public support of England, the world's greatest military and political power. The Balfour Declaration demonstrated to many, including numerous Jews who had regarded Zionism as a mere dream, just how powerful the movement really was.
The movement's second goal, the return of Jewry from the Diaspora, was much less successful, and this created a big problem for the Zionists. Despite many appeals from the WZO, the Jews of the Diaspora—especially those in Europe, whom the Zionists valued most—turned their backs on the planned return to Palestine.
The reason for their rejection was not simple indifference, and the solution for it would not be simple either.
Assimilation: A Problem for Zionism
David Ben Gurion, first prime minister of the State of Israel, declaring Israel's independence on 14 May, 1948
European Jewry rejected the Zionists' call for return to Palestine because for nearly a century, they had been involved in the assimilation process.
Assimilation was the inevitable result of gaining equality with Christians. During the Middle Ages, as noted earlier, Jews had been like second-class citizens with the restrictions imposed on them. The Jewish leaders thought that if these restrictions could be abolished, they could acquire political power, prove that they were superior, and return to Palestine. Therefore, they had worked to demolish the Catholicism's control over Europe, and had played a major role in the collapse of the traditional Church-monarchy order and its replacement by modernity.
Modernity, however, had an influence they could not have foreseen. With European society's abolition of some of the restrictions on the Jews, the basis of Jewish cohesion, as well as the key to Jewish resistance to assimilation, was also disappearing. At this point Jews began to become part of the European societies in which they lived. Even as the Jews gained equal rights with Christians, they were losing their Jewish identities. By the end of the 19th century, the majority of Jews in the Germany, France and England started to consider themselves Germans, Frenchmen, or British subjects of the Jewish faith, no longer as a separate nation.
Some Zionists, on the other hand, held quite different notions. According to them, being a Jew was not simply a matter of religion, but of race. The Jewish race was Semitic, totally different from the Europeans; and therefore assimilation was unacceptable. In their view, calling one's self a "Jewish German" or a "Jewish Frenchman" was nonsensical. European or not, Jews were distinct from any other race, regardless of whether they had Mosaic beliefs or were atheists (of which there were many within some Zionist groups). Therefore it was pathological for Jews to intermingle and assimilate with other races. They should have a state of their own, and it had to be in Palestine, their traditional homeland.
In short, these certain Zionists viewed assimilated Jews as sick people who needed help. Such Jews, intoxicated with the comforts of modernity, imagining they were no different from other people dwelling in Europe, had to be cured as soon as possible; or else the founding of a Jewish state would have to remain a dream.
But how to "cure" these Jews? It soon became evident that the task was difficult, for assimilationist Jews reacted sharply against the racist Zionists. Most of the assimilationist Jewish organizations issued proclamations sternly rebuffing these Zionists' claims. They declared that their communities were only religious in nature, that the Jews were loyal citizens of the countries in which they resided, and finally, that they had no intention of returning to the deserts of Palestine. While Theodor Herzl directed Zionist propaganda in Europe, a conference held in Pittsburgh, in the United States, issued a declaration called "Eight Principles of Reform Judaism." Assimilationist Americans put the world on notice that they regarded themselves as adherents of a religion, not members of a separate nation. Therefore, they had no intention either of returning to Jerusalem, or of re-establishing the sacrificial religion of the Children of Aaron. They did not support any new Jewish state.7
After similar declarations followed, the radical Zionists understood that they wouldn't be able to win over assimilationist Jews by words alone. Yet how could they prove that the Jews were in fact different from all other races, and were indeed aliens in Europe? Before the modern era, the problem solved itself. Europeans were hostile to the Jews and, by imposing restrictions on them, helped preserve the Jewish identity in a circuitous way. European societies had traditionally opposed assimilation with the Jews, and thus had prevented it. But now, it had become difficult to devise any restrictions, or to stir up antipathy against the Jews.
Nevertheless, another option might be found: an ideology to stop assimilation.
Nineteenth-Century Racism and Modern Anti-Semitism
Some Zionists discovered something very useful to them: A twisted ideology that firmly opposed the assimilation of the Jews was growing stronger in Europe. This was modern racism, reinforced by Darwin's theory of evolution. During the 19th century, racist theoreticians flourished all across Europe. Attaching utmost importance to the fact that humanity is made up of different races, these people, presumed that human being's most important characteristic was his race. They made the false claim that a race could run no greater risk than losing its "purity" through mixture with other races.
The Dreyfus affair in 1894 is an important example of the anti-Semitism growing in Europe. Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer accused of treason and leaking information to the German military attaché, was convicted, despite much evidence in favor of his innocence, simply because he was a Jew.
At the same time, racial theorists—primarily in Germany, but in many other countries as well—expounded anti-Semitic theories. Pointing to the differences between the Aryan and Semitic races, they claimed that the Jews were defiling the purity of their own race by living among Europeans. According to such people, the Jews had to be isolated, and miscegenation with them prevented. Fanatical hatred of the Jews based on the call for racial isolation is known as modern anti-Semitism—so-called "modern" because it opposed the Jews because of their race, not their religion, as was the case in the Middle Ages. Anti-Semitism, rising together with the fortunes Jews amassed, reached a peak with the infamous Dreyfus Case.
Interestingly, not only European racists felt uncomfortable about the assimilation of the Jews. Another group that felt threatened—on behalf of the "Jewish race"—were certain Zionists who considered Jewry not as a religion, but merely as a national identity. Ironically, one side wanted to prevent the Jews mixing into their race, while the other wanted to keep its own Jewish race separate from all others to protect its so-called "Jewish identity."
The goal they wanted was actually the same. Why, then, shouldn't they work together?
The first forthright response to this question came from Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism.
Anti-Semitism: Herzl's Card
The unstoppable progress of Jewish assimilation (and Jewish resistance to the insistent Zionist calls) prodded some Zionists toward collaboration with anti-Semites. The man who brought this about was Theodor Herzl, the movement's first leader, who understood perfectly that to compel Jews to abandon their present homes for Israel, anti-Semitism was a necessity. Any plan to convince the Jews to emigrate had to be based on this foundation.
A photograph, on exhibit in Jerusalem, showing Jews slaughtered at Kichinev in 1903
Meanwhile, anti-Semitism, rising in tandem with 19th-century racism, had already extinguished the hopes of many Jews who had thought that they could live in Europe free from any restrictions. Herzl pronounced anti-Semitism to be incurable, and for Jews, the only salvation was to establish a state in Palestine. Herzl's thesis that Jews and gentiles could not live together in harmony was quite compatible with the position of anti-Semitic racists. Remarking on this significant parallel, Herzl declared that anti-Semitism could be of great help to their campaign.
He said that all anti-Semites were their closest friends, because this would thus facilitate migration. On 9 June, 1895, he made the following entry in his diary: "First I shall negotiate with the Tsar regarding permission for the Russian Jews to leave the country... Then I shall negotiate with the German Kaiser, then with Austria, then with France regarding the Algerian Jews, then as need dictates."8
Herzl was not content to entice the Jews to emigrate with diplomatically-phrased entreaties. As the well-known French intellectual Roger Garaudy wrote, in The Case of Israel: A Study of Political Zionism, Herzl advocated the separation of the Jews not to establish a separate religion or culture, but a state. To achieve that end, he had no qualms about telling everyone he spoke to about the danger represented by the Jews and to describe the need for them to leave at once. Herzl always employed the same extreme language with German Foreign Minister von Blow and Guillaume II, Russia's Minister of the Interior Plehve and Czar Nicholas II, and leading anti-Semites.
The cruelest of these was Plehve, responsible for one of the most terrible massacres against Jews in Kichinev in April 1903. In a letter to Plehve in May, Herzl suggested that Zionism was a preventive antidote to revolution. Plehve responded to his letter in August, requesting a letter from Herzl to the effect that the Zionist movement supported him. Herzl wrote Plehve, promising that a Zionist movement that would ensure the migration of Jews would be supported.9
The photograph to the side shows Stalin and Trotsky, two of the most important figures in the Bolshevik Revolution, addressing the crowds in Red Square. Below left: One of the many propaganda posters used during the Revolution.
Herzl promised Plehve that he would win over those Jews playing a major role in the Bolshevik revolutionary movement against the Tsar, thus averting rebellion, in exchange for help in sending Jews back to Palestine. Herzl's plan to collaborate with anti-Semites would be the method most favored by some subsequent Jewish leaders.
Eventually, Herzl became a most fervent supporter of anti-Semitic movements. Roger Garaudy writes that before the publication of his book in 1895, one of Herzl's critics said, "You have done immeasurable harm to the Jews." Herzl had no reservations about the following reply: "I deserve to be the greatest of all the enemies of the Jews… The enemies of the Jews will be our greatest friends … Countries hostile to the Jews will be among our closest allies…"
Theodor Herzl was very aware that to convince Jews to flee their countries for Israel, political Zionism needed the concept of "enmity towards the Jews." In due course, we shall see how some proponents of political Zionism have maintained Herzl's idea, unchanged, right up to the present day.
Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, stated that reinforcing anti-Semitism was the only way to save the Jews from assimilation and to convince them to emigrate to Palestine.
This behavior is to reinforce the claims of torture in order to portray the Jews as foreign to the people in the countries in which they lived, and thus nourish the idea of "enmity towards the Jews" in a way it needed most, and to accelerate migration. Here lies the motive for Herzl's efforts to strengthen hatred of Jews rather than fearing its expansion. In addition, there was no end to the warnings issued to him. Baron Johann von Chlumetzky, a prominent member of the Austrian Parliament, wrote to Herzl:
You will be successful in this, if the goal of your tendencies and propaganda is to incite anti-Semitism. As a result of such propaganda, I am totally convinced that anti-Semitism will become an avalanche, and that you will lead your race towards slaughter.10
Herzl and some other Zionists agreed on this common goal with anti-Semitic racists, believing that this was the only way to transfer all Jews to Palestine. For those who wanted to protect the "purity" of their own race from mixing with Jews, this was a perfect solution. Theodor Fritsch, publisher of the famous anti-Semitic magazine, Antisemitische Correspondenz (later called Deutsch-Soziale Blätter), hailed the First Zionist Congress and sent his best wishes for the implementation of a plan requiring that the Jews leave Germany as soon as possible to settle in Palestine.
Herzl believed that it would harm Zionism if the Jews felt comfortable remaining in the countries where they lived, stating—as quoted by Garaudy: "But they do become assimilated by any society if they find themselves secure in it for a long period. And that will never be to our interest." Therefore, according to some Zionist leaders, the first step was to provoke enmity against the Jews in these countries. They would be kept under psychological tension, and made uneasy with provocative attacks. By such measures, these Zionist leaders hoped to convince the Jews that they were in peril in the Diaspora and that they could be saved only by emigrating to the Holy Land.
Herzl tried to provoke anti-Semitism in another surprising manner, by adding passages to his diary that would lead anti-Semites to believe in the existence of a "Jewish conspiracy" and thus incite them against the Jews. Three volumes of Herzl's diaries were published in Germany in 1922 and 1923. Joseph Samuel Bloch, the Austrian writer and publisher of the newspaper Österreichische Wochenschrift, and who knew Herzl intimately, writes that the letters to Rothschild and to Baron Hirsch in these diaries, and the assertion that the Jews were potential rebels and revolutionaries in the countries where they resided, were enough to bring destruction on the Jewish people. Bloch goes on to state that Herzl has provided the enemies of the Jews with the basis for a solution of the Jewish problem, and shown them the path to follow in their future work. To this end, the diaries were a terrible document.11
Herzl strove to arouse anti-Semitism and to form alliances with the anti-Semites until his sudden death in 1904. But his efforts did not result in much success: Most European Jews declined to immigrate to the Holy Land.
Jewish Resistance to Radical Zionism
The World Zionist Organization, founded by Herzl and which had continued to grow after his death, had as its chief goal the resettlement of Jews to Palestine. Despite the WZO's efforts, however, immigrants to Palestine continued to be fewer than expected. Indeed, after 1925, immigration began to decrease abruptly. Some immigrants even returned to their countries of origin. Between 1926 and 1931, approximately 3,200 Jews left Palestine annually. By 1932, there were only 181,000 Jews, in Palestine, as opposed to 770,000 Arabs. The Zionist leaders were well aware that with such a small Jewish minority, they could not establish a state.
In Germany, France, and the United States in particular, the Jews had grown prosperous and were loath to abandon their high standard of living for life in Palestine.
Jews in many European countries were forced to live in ghettos. The photograph shows Jews being forced to leave a ghetto in Poland.
Many well-known Jews of the period, such as physicist Albert Einstein, the philosopher Martin Buber, and Professor Judah Magnes, first president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, vigorously opposed the racist Zionism's calls for emigration. The Jewish masses were no less adamant in rejecting the calls of some Zionist leaders. Except for a small minority, the Jews of Russia rejected racist Zionism. Indeed, some returned to Russia after living conditions in Palestine turned out to be less than they expected.
During the 1920s, the Zionist leadership believed that the Balfour Declaration, which had opened the way to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, would accelerate the immigration process. They were in for a grave disappointment. While the Jewish population of Palestine doubled, reaching 160,000 in the 1920s, the number of immigrants was only about 100,000. Of that number, seventy-five percent did not remain in Palestine. In other words, the total number of immigrants was about 8,000 annually. In 1927 only 2,710 Jewish immigrants arrived, but 5,000 Jews left. In 1929, the number of Jews who arrived and departed was roughly the same.
This decline was an ominous fiasco for the radical Zionists, seeking as they did to bring the greatest number of Jews to Palestine in the shortest time, even if that required force. Despite the WZO's intense propaganda, immigration to the Holy Land remained weak. At the end of the nineteenth century, the number of Jews living in Palestine had been less than 50,000—only seven percent of the population. Even in 1919, two years after the Balfour Declaration, the Jewish population did not exceed 65,000. During the twelve years between 1920 and 1932, only 118,378 Jews—not even one percent of the world Jewish population—were settled in Palestine by one means or another.
It was obvious that this policy wasn't working. One or two anti-Semitic movements hadn't been enough to convince those unwilling Jews to emigrate. Therefore, some radical Zionist leaders decided to more effectively use the method pioneered by Herzl. They needed to make Jews, especially those "elite" European Jews considered necessary for the envisioned state of Israel, feel more uncomfortable. In other words, anti-Semitism had to grow more powerful.
The Ideological Kinship of Nazism and Radical Zionism
The call for immigration to Palestine, repeated over and over by the World Zionist Organization, was answered by only a very few number of Jews. An important number of European Jews was already involved in the assimilation process and did not want to abandon their comfortable homes for an ambiguous adventure. Those who answered this call were idealist Jews with very strong religious or national beliefs. Above: Chaim Weizmann, the leader of the WZO, with a group of young and idealist Jewish immigrants about to leave for Palestine.
Herzl's concept of forging an alliance with anti-Semites in order to halt, then reverse, the assimilation of Jews was put into practice by some of his Zionist successors, in concert with racists in Europe and around the world. The most important of these were German racists, the forerunners of the Nazi movement. Due to their political power as well as their ideological rigidity, they were exactly the type of ally the radical Zionists were looking for. In fact, the ideological parallels between the two were striking.
Lenni Brenner, an American historian who characterizes himself as an anti-Zionist Jew, reveals the unknown history of their alliance in his book Zionism in the Age of Dictators. As Brenner has emphasized, the ties between these Zionists in question and the anti-Semitic racists were forged in the early years of the Zionist movement. For instance, Max Nordau, Herzl's partner in the Zionist movement, granted an interview to Edouard Drumont, the famous French anti-Semite, on December 21, 1903. The conversation between the Jewish racist and the French chauvinist was published in Drumont's anti-Semitic newspaper, La Libre Parole, including Nordau's statement that Zionism was not a question of religion but exclusively of race, and that on this point, there was no one with whom he was in greater agreement than M. Drumont.
An important theme in Brenner's book is the ideological similarity between the German racists and the radical Zionists. The blood-and-soil fetishism that was rapidly spreading among the German intelligentsia before the World War I was absolutely mirrored in racist Zionist positions. According to this ideology, the German race had its own blood (Blut), and had to live on its own soil (Boden). Jews, being not of German blood, could never be a part of the German Volk or have the right to dwell on German soil. As Brenner emphasizes, racist Zionists quite genuinely supported all the arguments of the Blut und Boden racists. In the radical Zionists' opinion, too, Jews were not a part of the German people and therefore, should not mix with the German blood. Best for the Jews was to return to their own soil: Palestine.
There is no question that by sharing the German racists' theories, these Zionists approved of anti-Semitism. Because Jews were not of the German people, German racists had the right to isolate and expel them, too. According to the radical Zionists' position, Jews themselves were to blame for anti-Semitism, by insisting on living in foreign lands and trying to mix with alien races. It was the assimilated Jews, not the anti-Semites, who were at fault. Chaim Greenberg, the radical Zionist editor of the Zionist organ Jewish Frontier, would characterize this mentality as follows: "To be a good Zionist one must be somewhat of an anti-Semite."12
As Brenner states:
If one believes in the validity of racial exclusiveness, it is difficult to object to anyone else's racism. If one believes further that it is impossible for any people to be healthy except in their own homeland, then one cannot object to anyone else excluding "aliens" from their territory.13
Francis R. Nicosia, a professor of history at St. Michael's College (Vermont), also stresses the ideological relationship between radical Zionists and Nazis in his book The Third Reich and the Palestine Question. According to Nicosia, the radical Zionists were ideologically close not only to the Nazis, but also to their nineteenth century racist predecessors, including Arthur de Gobineau. In 1902, Die Welt, a Zionist newspaper published by the WZO, endorsed Gobineau's theories on racial degeneration and on the desirability of maintaining racial purity, noting that Gobineau had admired the Jews' racial purity. In the years prior to the World War I, some influential Zionists zealously defended the theories of racist philosophers such as Elias Auerbach, Ignaz Zollschan, Arthur Gobineau, and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.14
Nicosia also emphasizes the anti-Semites' sympathy for Zionism. Anti-Semites were advocating the transfer of European Jewry to Palestine as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century, even before political Zionism existed in active form. Among their number was Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a racist philosopher and forerunner of fascism. Fichte, an advocate of the expulsion of the Jews and other minorities in order to safeguard and honor the German Volksgeist (national spirit), considered granting the Jews equal social rights as Germans would be a disaster. He suggested that the "Jewish question" might be solved only by removing all Jews to Palestine. Fichte's theories would be embraced completely by such successors as Eugen Dühring.15
The German anti-Semites' sympathy for Zionism continued after World War I, during the years of the Weimar Republic. Nicosia relates that during those years, such prominent anti-Semites as Wilhelm Stapel, Hans Blüher, Max Wundt, and Johann Peperkorn looked on Zionism as the best solution to the Jewish problem.
One point needs to be clarified. There is nothing extraordinary about Zionism, viewed strictly as a movement that supported and helped Jews who wanted to emigrate to Palestine. It may be quite normal supporting a group setting out with such an aim. However, the cooperation between anti-Semites and radical Zionists includes very dangerous plans and objectives. First of all, both groups share the common element of racism, which is incompatible with religious moral values. The two groups supported one another in the light of their racist aims, and had no compunction about resorting to violence when necessary in order to achieve their own ends. The worst victims of the extremist groups supported by radical Zionists were members of their own race. Racist Zionists generally turned a blind eye to this unjust treatment, and, as will be considered in later chapters, even became a source of mistreatment themselves.
Radical Zionist Collaboration with Nazism
On first hearing, one would probably regard the link between Zionism and German anti-Semitism as a contradiction in terms. Yet in 1925, Jacob Klatzkin, one of these Zionists, expounded as follows:
If we do not admit the rightfulness of anti-Semitism, we deny the rightfulness of our own nationalism. If our people is deserving and willing to live its own national life, then it is an alien body thrust into the nations among whom it lives, an alien body that insists on its own distinctive identity, reducing the domain of their life. It is right, therefore, that they should fight against us for their national integrity … Instead of establishing societies for defense against the anti-Semites, who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defense against our friends who desire to defend our rights.16
In some circles of the World Zionist Organization, the core of the Zionist movement, radical Zionist sympathy for anti-Semitism was quite widespread. Chaim Weizmann, WZO's second leader after Herzl and later the first president of Israel, frequently expressed his understanding for anti-Semitism. As Brenner writes:
As early as 18 March 1912 he had actually been brazen enough to tell a Berlin audience that "each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn't want disorders in her stomach. Germany already has too many Jews." In his chat with Balfour [the British foreign affairs minister], in 1914, he went further, telling him that "we too are in agreement with the cultural anti-Semites, in so far as we believed that Germans of the Mosaic faith are an undesirable, demoralizing phenomena [sic]."17
Chaim Weizmann, the leader of the World Zionist Organization, and Lord Arthur James Balfour, British Foreign Secretary
This mentality dominating some sections of the WZO was also shared by some others at its German branch, the Zionist Federation of Germany (Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland, or ZVfD), one of the two main Jewish organizations in Germany. The Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith (Centralverein, or CV) was the other main organization established by the assimilationist Jews. Naturally, the ZVfD and the CV disagreed on a variety of issues. For example, one was deeply convinced that being a Jew was a matter of race, while the other group regarded Jews as only a religious community.
Of course, the major area of dispute was anti-Semitism. For the assimilationists in the CV, anti-Semitism was the main threat. They did everything they could to kill this "virus" that threatened their contented lives in Germany. But some Zionists who considered assimilationism the real virus were very pleased with the rise of anti-Semitism, let alone worrying about it. Kurt Blumenfeld, president and former general secretary of the ZVfD, was one Jewish fan of anti-Semitism. Brenner writes that Blumenfeld completely bought the anti-Semitic line that Germany belonged to the Aryan race and that for a Jew to hold office in the land of his birth was an intrusion into the affairs of another Volk.18
From the early 1920s, German anti-Semitism was embodied by the Nazis, who by then had become a force across Germany. In 1923, Hitler and his uneducated, aggressive, psychologically unbalanced, racist, sadist and despotic men marched to attempt the Beer Hall Putsch (revolt). Such men, organized for street fighting into the SA (Sturmabteilung, or storm troops), began to take their political rivals as targets.
The collaboration between the two sides started at the time the Nazi movement emerged. Radical Zionists paid continual court to the Nazis, no less than to the other anti-Semites. Hitler sent calculated messages to the radical Zionists as well. As Nicosia stresses, Hitler's speeches in the early 1920s claimed that the only possible solution to the Jewish question was the deportation of all Jews from Germany. Hitler's ideas were quite different from those of the ignorant, rowdy anti-Semites who knew only how to organize pogroms. On April 6, 1920 in Munich, Hitler stated that National Socialism should concentrate on completely removing Jews from Germany, rather than cultivating a pogrom atmosphere against the Jewish community. He argued, moreover, that every means to this end would be justified, "even if we must cooperate with the devil himself"—a reference to the racist Zionists. On April 29, Hitler concluded, "We will carry on our struggle until the last Jew is removed from the German Reich."19 In his well-known letter of September 16, 1919, he wrote:
Anti-Semitism, based purely on emotion, will always manifest itself in the form of pogroms. However, a rational anti-Semitism must lead to a well-planned, legal struggle against and elimination of the special rights of the Jew that he, unlike other aliens who live among us, possesses. Its ends must be irrevocably the complete removal of the Jews.20
The removal that Hitler advocated was endorsed by Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazis' leading ideologist, who became the chief advocate of collaborating with the radical Zionists to achieve Nazi goals. In Die Spur des Juden im Wandel der Zeiten (The Spoor of the Jew down the Ages), published in 1919, Rosenberg concluded that "Zionism must be vigorously supported in order to encourage a significant number of German Jews to leave for Palestine or other destinations."21 As Brenner shows, Rosenberg's argument that the radical Zionist movement could be exploited to promote the segregation of the Jews in Germany, as well as their emigration to Palestine, was eventually transformed into policy by the Hitler regime. 22
In 1933 the Nazi movement came to power, taking advantage of the economic depression that began in 1929, the weakness of the Weimar Republic, and the socio-psychological state of the German people. The Nazi victory pleased some Zionists no less than if they themselves had come to power.
Early Years of the Nazis, and the Radical Zionists
As early as 1920, the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg had mentioned the necessity of collaborating with radical Zionists to deport the Jews from Germany.
At the time of the Nazis' ascendancy, German Jews made up 0.9 percent of the German population, but their economic importance was considerable. Most Jews had high standards of living; sixty percent were either businessmen or professionals. Others were tradesmen, theologians, students; only some were workers. Although few in numbers, they were Germany's most significant racial minority. "Purifying" the German race by driving out these Jews was one of the Nazis' major objectives. Racial purity was so important to the Nazis that Hitler would even attempt to fill "reproduction farms" with young German men and women with "ideal" features to create a new, superior Aryan generation. Keeping the race pure required also that the Jews first be isolated, and then be pushed out of the country.
Such was the radical Zionists' dream as well, which was why interesting ties developed between the two sides, in the days when the Nazi movement was on the brink of gaining power. Of these relationships, one of the most significant grew up between Kurt Tuchler, a member of the ZVfD executive board, and Baron Leopold Itz Edler von Mildenstein of the SS. Tuchler explained to Mildenstein how radical Zionism paralleled the Nazi movement and persuaded him to write a pro-radical Zionist piece for the Nazi press. The baron also agreed to visit Palestine with Tuchler, and two months after Hitler came to power, the two men and their wives traveled to Palestine. Von Mildenstein stayed there for six months before returning to write his articles praising radical Zionism.23 From the initial days of the Nazi government, there were also official contacts between radical Zionists and Nazis. In March 1933, Hermann Göring summoned the leaders of the major Jewish organizations.
At that time, one important evidence of the Nazis' radical Zionist view was a memorandum that the ZVfD sent to the Nazi Party on June 21, 1933. This document, not published until 1962, was an open request from radical and racist Zionists for collaboration with the Nazis. Some interesting passages from this long memorandum follow:
… On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race, we wish so to fit our community into the total structure so that for us too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the Fatherland is possible … Our acknowledgment of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities … we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group … Thus, a self-conscious Jewry here described, in whose name we speak, can find a place in the structure of the German state … We believe in the possibility of an honest relationship of loyalty between a group-conscious Jewry and the German state … For its practical aims, Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration even of a government fundamentally hostile to Jews …24
Of this memorandum, Brenner writes:
This document, a treason to the Jews of Germany, was written in standard Zionist clichés … In it the German Zionists offered calculated collaboration between Zionism and Nazism, hallowed by the goal of a Jewish state: We shall wage no battle against thee, only against those that would resist thee.25
Years later, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, one of the radical Zionist authors of the memorandum, explained the motive for it:
The Nazi ideology, which dictated that the Germans and the Jews were two races that should not mix with each other, was completely shared by racist Zionists. On this basis was erected the radical Zionist-Nazi alliance. Above: Hitler with his SAs during his climb to power.
… [N]o country in the world... tried to solve the Jewish problem as seriously as did Germany. Solution of the Jewish question? It was our Zionist dream! We never denied the existence of the Jewish question! Dissimilation? It was our own appeal!…26
As Prinz pointed out, the major point of agreement between radical Zionists and Nazis was their commitment to the existence of a Jewish question. Both sides regarded the Jewish presence in Europe as a problem and considered the coexistence of Jews and gentiles an impossibility. In contrast, the assimilationist Jews did not even want to admit that such a question existed. To the radical Zionists, this was treason. Therefore, they sought to settle the dispute through violence, and to persuade by force Jews who had lost their racial consciousness. The Jüdische Rundschau, the weekly periodical of the ZVfD, fiercely attacked Germany's assimilationist Jews. Its editor, Robert Weltsch, wrote:
At times of crisis throughout its history, the Jewish people has faced the question of its own guilt. Our most important prayer says "We were expelled from our country because of our sins" … Jewry bears a great guilt because it failed to heed Theodor Herzl's call … Because Jews did not display their Jewishness with pride, because they wanted to shirk the Jewish question, they must share the blame for the degradation of Jewry.27
The radical Zionist position was clear: Assimilationist Jews had sinned by ignoring their appeal, by denying their own racial identity; for this, they would pay by being oppressed by the radical Zionists' allies, the Nazis. Articles in the Jüdische Rundschau attacked the Jewish assimilationists and at the same time praising Nazism. In April 1933 Kurt Blumenfeld, general secretary of the ZVfD, wrote: "We who live here as a 'foreign race' have to respect racial consciousness and the racial interest of the German people absolutely."28 Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a radical Zionist, explained that the Zionists could agree only with the Nazis, racists like themselves: "A state which is constructed on the principle of the purity of nation and race can only have respect for those Jews who see themselves in the same way."29
The authorities of the Zionist Federation of Germany (ZVfD) at the 19th Zionist Congress. The man at far left is Kurt Blumenfeld, leader of the ZVfD and the foremost architect of the alliance established with Hitler.
Soon after the Nazis came to power, they enacted laws limiting the social rights of Jews—which did not bother radical Zionists at all. Indeed, the Nazis thought that they were doing the Jews a favor by passing laws against assimilation. The Rundschau published a statement by A. I. Berndt, the head of the Nazi press association, claiming that these laws were:
… both beneficial and regenerative for Judaism as well. By giving the Jewish minority an opportunity to lead its own life and assuring governmental support for this independent existence, Germany is helping Judaism to strengthen its national character and is making a contribution towards improving relations between the two peoples.30
The Nazi-radical Zionist alliance was based on just such considerations. The relationship between the two groups, which had begun as a demonstration of good will, was transformed into the most concrete and organized collaboration.
The radical Zionists were well aware of the Nazis' anti-Semitism, but did not consider it a threat; on the contrary, they wanted it to increase. Each law passed against the German Jews pleased them more. Brenner writes:
tighter the Nazis turned the screw on the Jews, the more convinced they became that a deal with the Nazis was possible. After all, they reasoned, the more the Nazis excluded the Jews from every aspect of German life, the more they would have need of Zionism to help them get rid of the Jews.31
Asking German Jews to Vote for Hitler
As frequently pointed out, there was a clear distinction between the assimilationists and the radical Zionists, who accepted the Nazis as allies, while the assimilationists hated National Socialism. The difference between the two is evident in the thinking and policies with regard to the Nazis of the Zionist Federation of Germany (ZVfD) and the Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith (CV), founded by assimilationist German Jews. This split between radical Zionists and assimilationists also occurred against fascist regimes in other countries, an issue we shall later deal with in detail. But as a general rule, the radical Zionists got along well with fascist elements, while the assimilationists opposed them.
Nevertheless, there were exceptions to this rule. Some assimilationist Jews, particularly among the bourgeoisie fearful of the Left, collaborated collaborate with the fascists or at least sought to do so. A good example is the VNJ (Verband nationaldeutscher Juden - Union of National German Jews), second in importance to the CV among assimilationist Jewish organizations. In 1934, the VNJ began an effective campaign of support for Hitler. Taking note of this, The New York Times reported on August 18, 1934 that the VNJ was calling on every Jew who regarded himself as a German to vote for Hitler:
Whether in war or peace, we—the Union of National German Jews—do not hold our own interests above those of the German people and the German land. For that reason, we hail the uprising that brought Hitler to power in January 1933, even if it imposes difficulties on us… We entirely approve Hitler's chancellorship and the great historical significance of his movement. As Jews spiritually and materially devoted to the German nation, we recognize no other nation than Germany. We support Hitler's chancellorship and the unity of Chancellery institutions, and unhesitatingly advise all Jews who feel themselves to be German to vote for Hitler on August 19.32
Defeating the Anti-Nazi Boycott with Radical Zionist Help
The VNJ was undoubtedly an exception. The sympathy of the VNJ for the Nazis was not true of most assimilationist Jews. Hitler's leadership caused great worry for assimilationists in the other Western countries as well. In direct counterpoint to the radical Zionists' collaborationist efforts, the assimilationists looked for ways to resist the Nazis and take effective action against them, in concert with other anti-fascist groups.
Soon after the Nazis came to power, Western democracies started an effective boycott against the Nazis. Especially in the United States, the boycott started by the assimilationist Jews, leftists and liberals seriously dropped the sales of the Nazi goods and caused a crisis in the Reich economy. Radical Zionists helped the Nazis overcome this boycott during these hard times. Left: A Nazi flag burned during a boycott protest in Chicago.
The anti-Nazi boycott began when the Jewish War Veterans (JWV), an assimilationist organization in New York, announced a trade boycott against German merchandise on March 19, 1933, and four days later organized a huge protest parade. The movement grew stronger, eventually calling itself the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League, and calling on all Americans to stop buying goods made in the Nazi Germany. The boycott spread to Europe, and was quite effective—by no means good news for a country trying to develop its economy. Due to the boycott organized by the assimilationists, sales of German goods dropped seriously in Germany's two main markets, Europe and the United States.
At once, some helpers emerged to aid the Nazis to overcome this critical threat to the German economy. Who were they? The radical Zionists, of course. While the assimilationist Jews were promoting a devastating boycott of the Nazi economy, the radical Zionists were lending their strange ally a helping hand.
In fact, the radical Zionists had begun their pro-Nazi efforts even before the first demonstrations, opposing the boycott even in the planning stages. These Zionists insistently rejected all suggestions that the Jewish organizations made with regard to the boycott announcement.
Stephen Wise, leader of the American Jewish Congress (AJC)
At first, the WZO tried to prevent it, and when that failed, it sought to ease the financial problems of its Nazi allies. Brenner writes: "[The WZO] not only bought German wares; it sold them, and even sought out new customers for Hitler and his industrialist backers."33
The reasoning behind this behavior was that some people at the WZO administration saw Hitler as a blessing. Thanks to him, according to them, radical Zionism attained a great support; and again thanks to him, those Jews who had lost their racial awareness would come to their senses and emigrate to Palestine. Emil Ludwig, the world-famous popular biographer who was also an active radical Zionist of the time, expressed the WZO's general attitude:
Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine … Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am very grateful to him.34
Another famous radical Zionist, Chaim Nachman Bialik, remarked: "Hitlerism has perhaps saved German Jewry, which was assimilated into annihilation … I, too, like Hitler, believe in the power of the blood idea."35
An Italian Jewish member of the WZO, Enzo Sereni, spoke in a similar vein: "Hitler's anti-Semitism might yet lead to the salvation of the Jews." At the Lucerne Congress, Sereni declared:
We have nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that we used the persecution of the Jews in Germany for the upbuilding of Palestine. That is how our sages and leaders of old have taught us … to make use of catastrophes of the Jewish population in Diaspora for upbuilding.36
So pleased were the radical Zionists with the solution Nazism offered that in order to chasten the assimilationists, they made plans to employ it in other countries as well. In 1936, an American rabbi, Abraham Jacobson, protested against this idea of racist Zionists:
How many times have we heard the impious wish uttered in despair over the apathy of American Jews to Zionism, that a Hitler descend upon them? Then they would realize the need for Palestine!37
These affinities between the Nazis and radical Zionists made their economic cooperation not only possible, but natural. The most significant economic accord between the two was an agreement, called Ha'avara ("transfer" in Hebrew), that allowed the transfer of German Jews, with their wealth, to Palestine. (More about this agreement later on.) The agreement let Germany market its goods in Palestine. The arrangement later expanded so that eventually, the WZO was exporting oranges to Belgium and Holland on Nazi ships. By 1936, the WZO was selling German wares in Britain.
The radical Zionists did the Nazis more favors than this. Some Zionists supplied sources of foreign currency to German weapons manufacturers. In his book So Werden Kriege Gemacht (How Wars Are Started), Albert Norden describes another Nazi-radical Zionist commercial deal. He writes that raw materials of strategic importance to Germany were supplied through a company called International Nickel Trust, which controlled eighty-five percent of the nickel produced in the capitalist countries, and whose owners were a number of Zionists. One year after Hitler came to power, the INT and Germany's I. G. Farben Industrie signed an agreement: More than half of Germany's nickel production would be met by the INT, with Germany thus making a fifty percent foreign exchange saving.
Hitler's Radical Zionist Financiers
Some important Zionist investors in Western nations lent Hitler significant financial support. Sometimes brokered by the WZO, this financial aid helped Nazi Germany to become increasingly powerful.
This support that certain Jews gave Hitler later turned into a dreadful nightmare. This policy, implemented by some Jews in order to make their radical views a reality, and by others merely for material gain, cost the lives of many of their fellow Jews.
The True Meaning of the Hitler Salutation: Millions are Behind Me. The Accomplice of the Guiding- Managing Classes.
A number of sources cite secret affiliations with Hitler. Another figure who played an important role in financing him was Clarence Dillon (1882-1979), an American Jew. The son of Samuel and Bertha Lapowski (or Lapowitz), Dillon served as right-hand man to the famous Jewish financier Bernard Baruch during World War I. During the years before the World War II, when relations with Hitler began, Dillon played a crucial role in arming the Third Reich.
Another Hitler supporter was Sir Henry Deterding of Royal Dutch Shell, which had been founded by the Jewish Samuel family. In May 1933, Alfred Rosenberg, a significant Nazi figure, was a guest at Deterding's large estate, one mile from Windsor castle. After this secret meeting, Deterding and his backers, the Samuel family, gave Hitler thirty million pounds.
These facts suggest the close connection between Nazis and certain Jewish financiers devoted to radical Zionism, who funded the German Führer. Interestingly, Hitler admitted that he was financed by the Jews in question. In Hitler M'a Dit (Hitler Told Me), Hermann Rauschning, one of Hitler's closest friends in the period before World War II, quotes the German leader as saying, "The Jews made an important contribution to my struggle. A great many Jews supported me financially in our movement."38
No matter how much radical groups use Rauschning's book as a reference and base their own perverted views on it, this information is most striking.
In short, Hitler obtained significant financial support from radical Zionist investors with the help of some people at the WZO and its German branch, the ZVfD. The relationship between this known anti-Semite and some Jews played a vital role in overcoming the anti-Nazi boycott and in allowing Germany to enter the war as an industrial giant.
As a result of the assimilationist Jews' incitement, the British government decided to support the anti-Nazi boycott. In reaction, Blackshirt, the newspaper of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, the greatest fan of Hitler in Britain, wrote:
Can you beat that! We are cutting off our nose to spite our face and refuse to trade with Germany in order to defend the poor Jews. The Jews, themselves, in their own country, are to continue making profitable dealings with Germany themselves. Fascists can't better counter the malicious propaganda to destroy friendly relations with Germany than by using this fact.39
For radical Zionists, the most advantageous deal was the transfer agreement designed to resettle German Jews in Palestine. This may be the most important result of the alliance between the radical racist Zionists and the Nazis.
Nazi-Radical Zionist Agreement to Promote German Jewish Emigration
The radical Zionists chiefly hoped to obtain the Nazis' encouragement of immigration by German Jews to Palestine. For their part, the Nazis wanted to rid Germany of its Jewish minority as soon as possible. Thus, not long after they came to power, they signed an agreement allowing the German Jews to emigrate to Palestine. This accord, concluded between the Anglo-Palestine Bank (linked to the WZO) and the Reich Ministry of Finance, enabled the transfer of Jewish assets to Palestine, and created a market for German industrial goods there. On August 25, 1933, as the Irish historian and politician Conor Cruise O'Brien explains, the Anglo-Palestine Bank agreed with the German Ministry of Economics to use Jewish assets to purchase goods needed in Palestine. This arrangement became the basis of an official plan, in which Nazis and Zionists collaborated to let German Jews emigrate to Palestine with a portion of their assets.
In 1933 the Anglo-Palestine Bank established in Tel-Aviv the Trust and Transfer Office Ha'avara Ltd. A corresponding body was set up in Berlin with the help of two leading Jewish bankers, Max Warburg of MM Warburg in Hamburg, and Dr. Siegmund Wassermann of AE Wassermann in Berlin. The Berlin company, known as Palästina Treuhandstelle zur Beratung Deutscher Juden, assumed responsibility for negotiating with German authorities the settlement of contracts with German Jews wanting to leave for Palestine. Most of the 50,000 Jews who left Germany between 1933 and 1939 used the services of Ha'avara, during which time a wealth of some 63 million pounds Sterling was transferred to Palestine. The actual German policy during those years was to support the Palestinian Jews against the Arabs.40
Through this Ha'avara, or "transfer," agreement, some Zionists achieved their main goal: to enable the Jews to emigrate to Palestine. At the same time, the Nazi economy, which was lagging due to the boycott, was also bolstered. Emigrating Jews bought German industrial products, then sold them in Palestine, and the profit from the transaction compensated the Jews for the capital they had to leave behind in Germany. Certain circles at the World Zionist Organization not only undermined the effectiveness of the Jewish boycott, but also became the biggest distributor of Nazi-manufactured products in the Middle East and northern Europe. Through Trust & Transfer Office Ha'avara Ltd., the WZO assumed basic sales rights on German products brought to Palestine. Significant quantities of Nazi products were to be purchased with money from German-Jewish capitalists. Thus the WZO opened the doors for the Nazis to big market opportunities in the Middle East. On 7 December, 1937, the German Bureau, which concerned itself with foreign exchange matters, announced that since 1933, foreign sales-based transfer processes had brought in a profit of 70 million golden marks for Palestine.
Above: Two Gestapo soldiers responsible for transferring the Jews to Palestine. The subtitles of this photograph, included in a book of propaganda entitled Pillar of Fire, deserve particular attention.
These dealings between the radical Zionist leaders and the Nazis, especially the Ha'avara (transfer) agreement, have been described in a number of other books. For example, Lenni Brenner recounts the Ha'avara agreement in Zionism in the Age of Dictators. The transfer agreement is also mentioned in Moshe Shonfeld's The Holocaust Victims Accuse: Documents and Testimony on Jewish War Criminals, published in Israel; as well as Francis Nicosia's aforementioned The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, among others.
The secret archives of Wilhelmstrasse, the German foreign office, reveal that Hitler's Reich concluded an agreement with Jewish agents to facilitate Jewish emigration from Germany to Palestine. The following, from a German foreign office document dated June 22, 1937, notes that the Nazi policies might result in a Jewish state:
This German position is entirely dictated by domestic considerations. In practice, it promotes the consolidation of Jewry in Palestine and thus, facilitates the building of a Jewish state, and could lead one to conclude that Germany favors the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.41
The same document stresses that Jewish emigration was regulated by Hitler, who had a special interest in the matter.
These facts surprise most people today, since official historians have taken great pains to hide this alliance. The radical Zionists and the Nazis both sought to keep their alliance secret, and managed to conceal their relationship with general success even when their collaboration was at its height. Nevertheless, the two sides were unable to prevent some rumors from spreading. American writer Edward Tivnan, in The Lobby: Jewish Political Power in US Foreign Policy, indicates that by the end of 1930s, the clandestine alliance between certain Zionists and the Nazis had given rise to rumors that created considerable unease among American Jews.42
The transfer agreement was in force continuously from 1933 until war broke out in 1939. Jewish emigration from Germany to Palestine ended that year, not because of disagreement between the two sides, but because wartime conditions no longer permitted German ships to sail to Palestine, a mandated territory of Great Britain. During the period 1933-1939, almost sixty thousand German Jews had been transferred to Palestine. A report issued by the German interior ministry in December 1937 summed up the results of Ha'avara:
There is no doubt that Ha'avara has contributed most significantly to the very rapid development of Palestine since 1933. The Agreement provided not only the largest source of money, but also the most intelligent group of immigrants, and finally it brought to the country the machines and industrial products essential for development.43
If the World War II hadn't brought the agreement to an end, no doubt the Jewish emigration promoted by the Nazi-radical Zionist cooperation would have continued. This is corroborated by the increasing numbers of Jews who immigrated to Palestine in the years 1938 and 1939. Ten thousand German Jews were to be transferred to Palestine in October 1939, but these "reservations" had to be canceled when war began in September. The Ha'avara agreement continued until 1941, though with interruptions. All told, the German Jews transferred to Palestine as a result of the Nazi-radical Zionist cooperation made up fifteen percent of the total Jewish population of Palestine at the time. In The Transfer Agreement, devoted to the Ha'avara, Edwin Black reports that the accord contributed greatly to the establishment of the state of Israel by triggering an economic boom in Palestine.44
Nürnberg Laws and "Juden Raus! Auf Nach Palästina
[(Jews Out! To Palestine]"
While Nazis were engaged with certain Zionists to promote the emigration of the German Jews, they were also following policies to increase German Jews' racial consciousness, again with a number of Zionists' approval. In Zionism in the Age of Dictators, Brenner frequently stresses how pleased these Zionists were with the Nazis' racist policies. One example is the Nürnberg Laws, promulgated in September 1935, which prohibited marriage between Jews and Germans.
These laws were aimed at isolating the Jews from the German community. The new legislation, named "Laws for Protection of German Blood and Honor," deprived the Jews of German citizenship and became social outcasts. They were barred from the civil service, including teaching school, forbidden to write for periodicals, and banned from working in radio, stage, or cinema, and even farming. Marriage between Germans and Jews was of course forbidden. Jews were prohibited from displaying the German flag. All these measures stemmed from the concept that the Jews could never be Germans—a belief held by Nazis and some Zionists alike.
The Nazis' anti-Semitic policy, in full consort with the plans of radical Zionists, forced the German Jews to emigrate from the country. The Transfer Agreement signed between racist Zionists and the Nazis guaranteed that Jews leaving the country would be transferred to Palestine, not to any other "wrong address." Above: The Jews hoping to emigrate to Palestine, in front of the legal immigration offices in Germany in 1939.
Brenner cites an interesting commentary by Alfred Berndt, the German News Bureau's editor-in-chief, who recalled that only two weeks before, speakers at the World Zionist Congress in Lucerne had reiterated that the Jews around the world were rightly viewed as a separate people unto themselves, regardless of where they lived. Berndt explained that Hitler had simply met "the demands of the International Zionist Congress by making the Jews who live in Germany a national minority."45 Brenner also tells us that in the Nazi state, only two flags were permitted: the swastika and the blue-and-white Zionist banner. His source is none other than American Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen Wise:
The determination to rid the German national body of the Jewish element, however, led Hitlerism to discover its "kinship" with Zionism, the Jewish nationalism of liberation. Therefore Zionism became the only other party legalized in the Reich, the Zionist flag the only other flag permitted in Nazi-land.46
Lenni Brenner calls the Nazis' policy "philo-Zionism," and writes that they helped radical Zionists in every respect, enacting various laws to help the Jews avoid assimilation and preserve their racial consciousness. In 1936, Nazis took a new measure prohibiting rabbis from using the German language and requiring them to use Hebrew in their sermons from December 6 (Hanukkah) of that year on. This was a considerable help to some Zionists, who were trying to gather all the world's Jews in Palestine and force them to speak Hebrew, a language they had started to forget.47
The Nürnberg laws, completely isolating the Jews from German society, intensified some radical Zionists' trust the belief in the Nazis. Above: Hitler during one of the grand shows of strength held in Nürnberg.
The Nazis' attempts to make the German Jews racially conscious were not limited to these measures. According to Brenner, in spring 1934, his staff presented Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, with a situation report on the Jewish question: The vast majority of the Jews in Germany still considered themselves Germans. They suggested certain solutions to that problem. What could these be? As Brenner writes:
… the way to break down their resistance was to instill a distinctive Jewish identity amongst them by systematically promoting Jewish schools, athletic teams, Hebrew, Jewish art and music, etc.48
On the night of October 27, 1938, according to Brenner, at a demonstration against the Jews in Hannover, the slogan "Juden Raus! Auf nach Palästina" (Jews out! Off to Palestine) was used by Hitler's SA, and soon spread across the entire country. The slogan concisely expressed the joint goal of the Nazis and some Zionists—to transfer all the Jews from Germany to Palestine.
Radical Zionist Collaboration with the SS
The SS (Schutz-Staffel, or Protective Echelon), a party formation devoted to Adolf Hitler, is often regarded as the most radical, fanatical, and ruthless organ of Nazi Germany. The SS was organized by Heinrich Himmler by Hitler's order, and functioned as a Nazi brain trust. Lenni Brenner describes the relationship between the SS and certain Zionists:
By 1934 the SS had become the most pro-Zionist element in the Nazi Party. Other Nazis were even calling them "soft" on the Jews. Baron von Mildenstein had returned from his six-month visit to Palestine as an ardent Zionist sympathizer. Now as the head of the Jewish department of the SS's Security Service, he started studying Hebrew and collecting Hebrew records; when his companion Tuchler visited his office in 1934, he was greeted by the strains of familiar Jewish folk tunes. There were maps on the walls showing the rapidly increasing strength of Zionism inside Germany.49
Goebbels (left), the propaganda minister of the Nazis, had a long proradical Zionist article published in a Nazi publication named Der Angriff and had a medal struck, bearing on one side the swastika, on the other the Star of David. Heydrich (right), chief of SS Security Service, was one of the pro-radical Zionist Nazis.
The series by the SS officer von Mildenstein praised radical Zionism in the Nazis' propaganda organ, Der Angriff: "A Nazi went to Palestine!"
Mildenstein not only wrote articles praising radical Zionism, but also persuaded Goebbels to run his report as a twelve-part series in Goebbels's newspaper Der Angriff (The Assault), a leading Nazi propaganda organ. The long report was serialized from September 26 to October 9, 1934. In it, Mildenstein praised racist Zionist efforts in Palestine. Radical Zionists were showing the SS how to solve the Jewish problem. According to Mildenstein, the soil had transformed the Jews within a decade, and these "new Jews" would form a new people. To commemorate the baron's findings, Goebbels had a medal struck, bearing on one side the swastika, on the other the star of David.50
In May 1935, Reinhard Heydrich, then chief of the SS Security Service, wrote an article extolling racist Zionism for Das Schwarze Korps, the official newspaper of the SS. Heydrich considered that there were two basic categories of Jews: the Zionists and assimilationists. The radical Zionists had strict racial standards, just like the Nazis. But according to Heydrich, the assimilationists posed a threat—yet it was entirely reasonable to cooperate with the racist Zionists. Heydrich concluded his article with this moving tribute to his Jewish comrades:
The time cannot be far distant when Palestine will again be able to accept its sons who have been lost to it for over a thousand years. Our good wishes together with our official good will go with them.51
Some Zionists Spying for SS Agents; SS Weapons for These Zionists
After a while, close ties developed between the SS and some of the armed Jewish organizations. The most important of these was the Haganah, the military arm of the Jewish Agency in Palestine, which was under the control of the WZO. (Before Israel was founded, the Haganah formed the nucleus of the future Israeli army. Future Israeli leaders such as Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin served in the Haganah.) In 1937, secret meetings took place between the Haganah and the SD (Sicherheitsdienst), the security service of the SS. On February 26 of that year, Feivel Polkes, an agent of the Haganah, traveled to Berlin. The man whom the Nazis assigned to negotiate with Polkes was Adolf Eichmann, SD's specialist for Jewish migration. Eichmann had been von Mildenstein's protégé in support of radical Zionism, and had studied Hebrew and read Herzl. The Eichmann-Polkes conversations were recorded in a report submitted to Eichmann's superior, Franz-Albert Six, and found in SS files captured at the end of the World War II. The files reveal that Polkes claimed that the radical Zionists could find new sources of oil for the Nazis; in return, they required that Jewish emigration from Germany to Palestine be heavily increased. Liking what Polkes had to say, Six decided that a working alliance with certain Zionists would be in the Nazis' interest:
Pressure can be put on the Reich Representation of Jews in Germany in such a way that those Jews emigrating from Germany go exclusively to Palestine and not go to other countries. Such measures lie entirely in the German interest and is [sic] already prepared through measures of the Gestapo. Polkes' plans to create a Jewish majority in Palestine would be aided at the same time through these measures.52
The contacts Polkes made in Berlin were followed up that same year. On October 2, 1937, the liner Romania arrived in Haifa with two German "journalists" aboard. In fact, they were two senior members of the SS, Herbert Hagen and Adolf Eichmann. They met with their agent, Reichert, and then with Feivel Polkes, who took them to visit a kibbutz, one of the communal farms established by Jewish immigrants during the settlement of Palestine. Eichmann was impressed by what he saw and years later, having fled to Argentina, he dictated his memoirs on tape:
I did see enough to be very impressed by the way the Jewish colonists were building up their land. I admired their desperate will to live, the more so because I was myself an idealist. In the years that followed I often said to Jews with whom I had dealings that, had I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. I could not imagine being anything else. In fact, I would have been the most ardent Zionist imaginable.53
For his part, Polkes made some interesting remarks during his meeting with the SS: "In the Jewish chauvinistic circles people were very pleased with the radical German policy, because … in the foreseeable future, the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs in Palestine." Also during his visit in February, he had offered the Haganah's services in spying for the Nazis.
The close relations between the SS and radical Zionists were doubtless operating at the highest level, up to the Führer himself. In early 1938, Otto von Henting, for many years a mediator between the Nazis and the radical Zionists, called with some good news: The Führer had decided that all obstacles to Jewish emigration to Palestine were now to be removed.
In supporting some Zionists, the Nazis went so far as to provide weapons to militants fighting Palestinians. In The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, Nicosia points out that the SS supplied weapons to the Haganah, the military branch of the WZO in Palestine, for use against the Arabs.54
Radical Zionists Prevent Jews from Fleeing
In Zionism in the Age of Dictators, Lenni Brenner remarks that because the Zionist movement did not want the bulk of German Jewry in Palestine, it might be assumed that the Zionists sought to find other havens for their brethren. But that did not happen.55
In fact, the radical Zionists did nothing to save German Jewry from Nazi cruelty. Even when the rumors and reports of the Holocaust had reached their peak, the radical Zionists did not change their attitude. Indeed, this was depicted in a great many films on the subject.
In the introduction to David S. Wyman's book (The Abandonment of the Jews), the famous Jewish author Elie Wiesel is one of those "infuriated" by the way that certain Zionist leaders failed to rescue the Jewish people:
The Jews were abandoned… Sad and revolting as it might sound, both the major Jewish organizations and the most powerful figures of the Jewish community could not or did not want to form a unified rescue commission.
The World Zionist Organization formed a military arm named Haganah to fight with the Arabs in Palestine. In the photo, taken in 1938, are seen three important leaders of a specially selected unit of Haganah: Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Sadeh and Yigal Allon. After the establishment of the Israeli State, Haganah formed the nucleus of Israel's army. In the following years, Dayan and Allon became Ministers of Foreign Relations. But there remained an unknown truth about Haganah: Some of the arms that the unit used against the Arabs were supplied by the Nazis!
Later in his book, Wyman confirms Wiesel's views, stating that none of the American Jewish communities made any reference to operations to rescue the Jews of Europe. None, especially Jewish organizations, sought to save them. At a meeting held in Pittsburg in January 1943, B'nai B'rith wanted all propaganda waged to rescue the Jews to be transformed into a propaganda supporting the foundation of a Jewish State in Palestine.
In 1938, David Ben Gurion, the second man in the WZO after Weizmann and later Israel's first prime minister, expressed this radical Zionist thinking in a speech he made at a meeting of Labour Zionist leaders in England:
If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative.56
The most damning aspect of the radical Zionists' policy is not their failure to save Jews. The real scandal is that they also blocked German Jews' attempts to emigrate to any country except Palestine.
In 1943, a distinguished radical Zionist opposed the rescue of the German Jews: Rabbi Stephen Wise. As Zionism's chief spokesman in America, Wise delivered a speech opposing the resolution that called for a government rescue agency for European Jews. Rabbi Wise had also defended American immigration quotas in 1938, in a letter he wrote as leader of the American Jewish Congress (AJC). Wise stated that he also opposed changes in the law that might enable the Jews to take refuge in America.
Just as in the U.S., radical Zionists had also closed England's portals to German Jews. Members of the British Parliament issued a call for their own government to give Jews in difficulties the right to sanctuary on British territories. This proposal, made by 277 gentiles with the aim of saving the Jews, infuriated some Zionist leaders: On 27 January, 1943, in a debate by a hundred or so Christian members of Parliament on what could be done to rescue the Jews, a radical Zionist spokesman stated that they actually opposed this proposal because it failed to contain the necessary preparations for the colonization of Palestine.57
It is not hard to understand why the radical Zionists prevented Jews from escaping the Nazis. Had the doors of America or England been opened to the Jews, many of the skilled Jewish technicians and qualified specialists whom racist Zionists needed for Palestine would have headed to those countries instead. To insure the immigration of the targeted Jews to Palestine, they condemned other unqualified German Jews to Nazi oppression.
While radical Zionists maintained the collaboration they had set up with the SS, many innocent Jews were subjected to Nazi barbarity.
Without a doubt, they betrayed their own people. Throughout the war, a Slovakian rabbi, Dov Michael Weissmandel, worked to rescue Jews from Nazi control, but found his efforts hampered by the Zionists. At length, when the radical Zionists began to spread rumors of a Jewish holocaust, Weissmandel became infuriated. In July 1944, in a letter to the radical Zionist leaders, the rabbi expressed his revulsion:
Why have you done nothing until now? Who is guilty of this frightful negligence? Are you not guilty, our Jewish brothers …? … Brutal, you are and murderers, too, you are, because of the coldbloodedness of the silence in which you watch, because you sit with folded arms and do nothing, although you could stop or delay the murder of Jews at this very hour.
You, our brothers, sons of Israel, are you insane? Don't you know the hell around us? For whom are you saving your money? … Murderers!58
Weissmandel's intuition was acute. Indeed, as we have already seen, radical Zionists "saved their money for the murderers" by giving the Nazis enormous financial support. The radical Zionists believed it was necessary to work with the enemies of the Jews, to support the pressure the anti-Semites imposed on Jews, in order to establish a Jewish state. They readily financed the Nazis' persecution of their fellow Jews.
Mussolini, Italian Fascism, and Radical Zionism
Radical Zionism did not form alliances with anti-Semites in Germany alone. Since they aspired to induce Jews everywhere to emigrate to Palestine, some Zionists made secret alliances with fascist powers in a number of other countries in the 1930s and 1940s. The most noteworthy of these was with Mussolini, Hitler's most important ally.
After gaining power in the early 1920s, Mussolini began to impose a totalitarian system that he called Fascism. He was intensely interested in the Mediterranean and consequently, in the Middle East. He invaded Ethiopia to re-establish Italian sovereignty over the area that had once been ruled by the ancient Roman Empire. Consequently it was impossible for him to ignore the Palestine question. From the time he became interested in Palestine, Mussolini sided with the radical Zionists. He knew that radical Zionism was an important power, and he intended to wrest from Britain the role of its guardian.
Rabbi Dov Michael Weissmandel addressed the radical Zionists as; "Are you not guilty, our Jewish brothers …? … Brutal you are, and murderers, too, you are, because of the cold-bloodedness of the silence in which you watch, because you sit with folded arms and do nothing, although you could stop or delay the murder of Jews at this very hour. You, our brothers, sons of Israel, are you insane? Don't you know the hell around us? For whom are you saving your money? … Murderers!"
Zionism in the Age of Dictators details the relations between the two wings of the radical Zionists and Mussolini. According to Brenner, the Jews were an important factor in Mussolini's party. Five Jews had been among the founders of the Fascist movement. In the following years, Mussolini would appoint a Jew as president of the Banca Commerciale Italiana. Two of Mussolini's foreign ministers, Sidney Sonnino and Carlo Schanzar, were of Jewish descent.
In the second half of the 1920s, Mussolini met several times with some representatives of the WZO, but of these meetings, no written record exists. Weizmann successfully kept them a secret. As Brenner points out, Weizmann's autobiography is deliberately vague on his relations with Mussolini, and often misleading. But there is no doubt that Mussolini and Weizmann got along well. On September 17, 1926, Weizmann was invited to Rome to speak with "Il Duce." Mussolini offered to help the radical Zionists to build up their economy in Palestine, and the Italian press began publishing favorable articles on radical Zionism. One month later, Nahum Sokolow, the WZO's number two man, visited the Italian dictator, and again Mussolini stressed his support for radical Zionism.
Mussolini's relations with some Zionists who had walked out of the WZO were more comprehensive and also more effective. Brenner deals with these fascinating ties in Zionism in the Age of Dictators andin The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir. According to Brenner, after these Zionists walked out of the WZO, they began to look for a new ally. Italy was the most suitable candidate. Jabotinsky dreamed of a new Mediterranean order in alliance with Italy. As he explained in a 1935 interview: "We want a Jewish Empire. Just like there is the Italian or French on the Mediterranean, we want a Jewish Empire." This Jewish "Empire" would include Jordan as well as Palestine, and parts of Egypt and Iraq. Jabotinsky considered himself the Jewish version of Mazzini or Garibaldi!
Mussolini had great sympathy for the Zionists led by Jabotinsky and described them as the "Fascists of Zion." In November 1934, Mussolini allowed Betar, Revisionists' youth wing, to set up a squadron at the maritime academy at Civitavecchia, which was run by the Blackshirts. Militants of the Betar trained together with the Blackshirts, then went to Palestine to fight in the ranks of the Irgun.
Mussolini was Hitler's greatest ally. They maintained the same ideology, entered into an alliance in what was called the "Pact of Steel" and supported one another during World War II. Having so much in common, the two fascists adopted similar policies of support toward radical Zionism, so much so that the militants of the Zionist Betar organization were trained with Il Duce's fascist units known as the Black Shirts.
Jabotinsky and his supporters became increasingly friendly with Fascism. Abba Achimeir and Wolfgang von Weisl, the movement's leaders, suggested Jabotinsky be called their Duce. Jabotinsky wanted to hold the international Zionist congress under his leadership in Trieste, in Fascist Italy. But the congress was cancelled, for fear of public reaction in the West.
It should be noted that the Zionists led by Jabotinsky also praised Hitler and the Nazis. During a speech, Abba Achimeir expressed his views: "Yes, we Revisionists have a great admiration for Hitler. Hitler has saved Germany. Otherwise it would have perished within four years."59
These people's Nazi sympathies were evident even from how they dressed. Members of Betar wore the same brown uniforms as Hitler's SA.
Meanwhile, the relationships radical Zionists carried on concurrently with Hitler and Mussolini led to a third ally: Francisco Franco. In 1939, after defeating Spain's Republicans after a three-year civil war with Hitler's and Mussolini's support, Franco then installed his own version of fascism, called Falangism. Eventually, radical Zionists found their way to Franco's side. It is well known that many Republican Jews fought against Franco, but these Jews were overwhelmingly assimilationists. As Lenni Brenner points out, the radical Zionists never supported the Jews who fought against Franco; on the contrary, they strongly opposed them.
All across Europe, from Spain to Austria, from Poland to Romania, many fascist movements took Hitler or Mussolini as their models, and grew increasingly powerful. That meant new allies for the racist, radical Zionism.
Alliances with Austrian, Romanian and Japanese Anti-Semites
The Jews made up only 2.8 percent of Austria's entire population, yet after the World War I, a powerful anti-Semitism developed there, and grew rapidly, particularly under Hitler's influence. Engelbert Dollfuss, leader of the Christian Social Party and Austria's Prime Minister, and Kurt von Schuschnigg, who took Dollfuss' place after his death in 1934, signed anti-Jewish laws similar to those of the Nazis. Assimilationist Jews found Austria's new policies upsetting; but as might be guessed, the racist Zionists were pleased at the intensifying anti-Semitism. After the anti-Semitic Prime Minister Dollfuss's death, WZO leader Nahum Sokolow stated, "He was one of those who established, with my help, the organisation of Gentile Friends of Zionism in the Austrian capital."60
Dollfuss, as a friend of the Zionists, had instituted a harsh anti-Semitic policy that would continue throughout the 1930s. Jews were discriminated against in the civil service and the professions. In 1935, the government announced plans for setting up separate schools for Jews. Assimilationist Jews naturally opposed the new ghetto schools, but Robert Stricker, the Austrian parliament's only Jewish deputy and a leader of the radical Zionist movement, told the government that a number of Zionists very much welcomed these measures.
Above: Mussolini, during a visit he paid to a center consisting mostly of radical Zionists established in Bari in 1934. On the poster in front of him is written, "A pure and strong Jewish generation is being born in Palestine to be worthy of the Zionist Renaissance."
The assimilationists tried to alert the nations of the West to the dangerous anti-Semitic trends in Austria. In an immediate response, Der Stimme, the organ of the Austrian Zionist Federation, condemned the dissemination of atrocity stories from Austria abroad, and backed up the anti-Semitic government. Brenner writes that during the period in which the Austrian government was discriminating against the Jews, it was able to get financing with the help of some Zionists.
Similar events took place in Romania, where the Jews comprised 5.4 percent of the population. That country had a longstanding tradition of anti-Semitism, and this hostility towards the Jews grew considerably prior to World War II. Anti-Semitic extremists were active from the 1920s on, and when Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, they became fierce and aggressive.
Romanian anti-Semitism was spearheaded by a fascist party called the Legion of the Archangel Michael, led by Corneliu Codreanu. The party had a militia called the Iron Guard, who perpetrated various street attacks on Jews in the years 1929 and 1932. Hitler's rise greatly strengthened the Legion's position.
At this juncture, it was the duty of Jewish leaders to begin a serious campaign against anti-Semitism and to form a political alliance with the anti-fascist powers. Some leaders did not adopt such an approach, for most Jewish leaders were radical Zionists. Some leaders of the WZO believed that it would be advantageous to have anti-Semitism come into power and was planning an extension of its Ha'avara strategy to Romania. "Jidanii in Palastina!" (Yids to Palestine!) had long been the anti-Semites' war cry. For their part, some WZO leaders talked openly of helping Romania relieve the pressure caused by the presence of too many Jews.61 In January 1941, the Iron Guard carried out a bloody attack in Bucharest, slaughtering an estimated 2,000 Jews and cutting the throats of some 200. Again, there was no reaction from the radical Zionists.
The alliance between radical Zionism and anti-Semitism even extended to the Far East, where the major fascist power was Japan. After the World War I, Japan had intensified its expansionist policies and eventually joined Hitler and Mussolini's pact. Relations between the Japanese regime and the Nazis were so good that Hitler even awarded this Far Eastern race the title of "honorary Aryans."
Why the radical Zionists sought collaboration with Japan is explained by Japan's 1931 annexation of Manchuria, which had a sizable Jewish community. Some Zionists thought that by collaborating with Japan, as they'd done with Hitler, they could pressure these Jews to emigrate. Thus the puppet state of Manchukuo, established by the Japanese, would be transformed into a radical Zionist ally in the Far East.
Brenner notes that the Japanese administration, particularly the military, had its own distinctive version of anti-Semitism.62 The Japanese generals believed in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Because they viewed local Jews as its agents, they wanted Manchuria to be rid of Jews as soon as possible. Finally they arrived at the same solution as Hitler's: to support radical Zionism.
In December 1937, the Jewish communities of the Far East held a conference in Harbin, Manchuria, organized by Abraham Kaufman, the leader of the Zionists of Harbin. The platform was decked with the Japanese, Manchukuo, and Zionist flags. Leaders of the Zionist Betar attended the conference as honor guards. The meeting was addressed by General Higuchi of Japanese Military Intelligence; General Vrashevsky of the anti-Semitic White Guards; and officials of the puppet state of Manchukuo. The conference issued a resolution, which it sent to every major Jewish organization in the world, pledging cooperation with Japan and Manchukuo in building a new order in Asia. In return, the Japanese acknowledged and supported radical Zionism as the Jewish national movement. Shortly thereafter, in fact, relations between the Manchukuo regime and Betar improved enormously. Betar members were present at just about every invitation and celebration held by the anti-Semitic regime.63
This interesting collaboration with the Japanese brought few significant gains. Only a small number of Jews was transferred from Manchuria to Palestine.
Polish Anti-Semites and Radical Zionists
In the early 1920s, radical Zionism was popular and powerful in Poland, which had the largest Jewish community in Europe—2.8 million, or ten percent of Poland's total population. Poland was also home to an intense, fervent anti-Semitism. A strong radical Zionism and strong anti-Semitism: the two, as was becoming the rule, were made for collaboration with one another.
Lenni Brenner has closely studied the relationship between the Polish anti-Semites and some radical Zionists. According to him, the first agreement, known as the Ugoda (compromise), was negotiated in 1925 by the radical Zionist leaders Leon Reich and Osias Thon. Their negotiating partner, Wladyslaw Grabski, Poland's prime minister and a firm anti-Semite, was seeking an American loan to Poland and thought that his agreement with some radical Zionists would help him. Under the agreement, these Zionists received important concessions. Brenner writes that, due to their agreement with the anti-Semitic prime minister, some Jews saw Reich and Thon as traitors to the community.64
This agreement did not last for long, however. As a result of a coup in May 1926, Joseph Pilsudski became dictator. Like his predecessor, Pilsudski was an anti-Semite with close contacts to some radical Zionists. On January 26, 1934, Pilsudski signed a ten-year non-aggression pact with Hitler. He remained loyal to the radical Zionists until his sudden death on May 12, 1935. Osias Thon and Apolinary Hartglas, two leading figures of the Zionist movement in question, proposed that in his memory a Pilsudski Forest be planted in Palestine. The Palestinian Zionists who supported Jabotinsky announced that they were going to build a hostel for immigrants to be named in Pilsudski's honor.65
Engelbert Dollfuss, the anti-Semitic dictator of Austria and "one of the Gentile friends of Zionism," in the words of Nahum Sokolow, the leader of the World Zionist Organization.
After Pilsudski's death, anti-Semitism increased in Poland. There were anti-Semitic sentiments in the army, particularly among the colonels. The anti-Semitic hardcore was grouped in a racist party called the Naras (National Radicals), which admired the Nazis. At the end of the 1930s, the Naras began to organize pogroms against the Jews. The Bund, chief party of the leftist assimilationist Jews, organized units to resist the Naras. But the radical Zionists never resisted the Naras, whose activities were very advantageous to them. The Naras militants' slogan was, "Moszku idz do Palestyny!" (Kikes to Palestine!). One major reason Jews in Poland moved away from radical Zionism, Brenner relates, was that the Naras favored the radical Zionists. As he notes, the anti-Semitic Polish colonels, too, had always been enthusiastically philo-Zionist.66
Some radical Zionists were as pro-anti-Semitic as the anti-Semites were pro-radical Zionist! A leading radical Zionist, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, once proclaimed that the Jews were so much "excess baggage", and that "Poland has a million more Jews than it can possibly accommodate." Abba Achimeir, one of the leaders of the radical Zionist movement in Palestine, expressed in his diary the following sentiment: "I wish that a million Polish Jews might be slaughtered. Then they might realize that they are living in a ghetto."67
The Stern Gang Proposes a Military Alliance with the Nazis
The puppet state of Manchukuo, established by Japanese in Manchuria, was one of the interesting anti-Semitic alliances of radical Zionists. Above: Ceremonies that founded the Manchukuo state.
Revisionism, based on a racist ideology, as opposed to the leftist tendency of the WZO, stepped up its armed attacks in Palestine in the second half of the 1930s. Their assaults were directed both at the Arabs and the power of the British mandate, which was strictly limiting Jewish immigration, and were organized by the Irgun, a radical Zionist guerrilla force. After the outbreak of the World War II, the Irgun split into two factions. The Jabotinsky wing decided to call off military operations against the British for the duration of the war. The second faction, smaller and more radical, advocated continuing the struggle against the British until London allowed the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state. This group, led by Avraham Stern, broke with Irgun in September 1940 and established itself as a separate organization. This most radical group of Zionists later renamed itself LEHI (Lohamei Herut Yisrael—Fighters for the Freedom of Israel).
Also known as the Stern Gang, it had very ambitious goals. As stated in Avraham Stern's Eighteen Principles, the group's major aims included a Jewish state with borders as defined in the Book of Genesis (from the Nile of Egypt to the Great River, the River Euphrates); the expulsion of the Arabs; and finally, the re-building of the temple in Jerusalem.
The Stern Gang had decided to fight the British, and so immediately looked for ways to cooperate with England's enemies. In September 1940, only a few weeks after separating from the Irgun, the group's leaders made contact with an Italian agent in Jerusalem. There they offered an agreement whereby Mussolini would actively support the establishment of a Jewish state in return for the Stern Gang's military cooperation with fascist Italy. But this offer led to no tangible results, because the Italians did not take the gang's power very seriously.
Next, Stern sent Naftali Lubentschik to Beirut in order to meet with the Germans. Lubentschik made contact with two Nazis, Rudolf Rosen and Otto von Hentig, and offered them a comprehensive military alliance. After the war, a copy of the Stern Gang's proposal was discovered in the files of the German Embassy in Turkey (and is therefore known as the Ankara document). Another copy of the document would later be revealed by the German historian Klaus Polkhe, who studied the secret archives of the Third Reich. According to the document, the radical Zionist Stern Organization proposed an official military alliance with the Nazi government. In summary, it included the following:
Common interests could exist between the establishment of a New Order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied in the NMO [National Military Organization];
Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed volkish-national Hebrium would be possible; and
The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of sustaining and strengthening the German position in the Near East.
Throughout Jozef Pilsudski's dictatorial regime in Poland, racist Zionists established close relations with Pilsudski, known for his anti-Semitism.
Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognised on the part of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany's side.68
In December 1941, Stern sent Nathan Yalin-Mor to try to contact the Nazis in Turkey, but the meeting could not take place because he was arrested on the way. According to Brenner, there is no indication in the archives as to how the Nazis responded to this offer. Most likely, they regarded Stern as small and ineffective, and didn't think much of its offer. What is crucial, however, is that a radical Zionist organization proposed military alliance to the Nazis in 1941, the year the Jewish genocide was to be launched. Unquestionably important is Stern's crooked assertion that the Jews and the Nazis' desired New Order shared substantial common interests. Yalin-Mor later summed up the rationale behind his organization's wish to cooperate with the Nazis in the middle of the war. He admitted that Stern's goal of persuading the Jews to emigrate to Palestine was quite consistent with Germany's plans for removing the Jews from Europe.69
At the time the Ankara document was presented, a leading Stern Gang member was Yitzhak Shamir, who would first become Israel's foreign minister, then prime minister, between 1977-1992. Shamir, like his preceptor Menahem Begin, was behind a great many acts of violence against civilians in the 1940s, when he became notorious for his bloody attacks on British and Arab targets.
Shamir's role in the Stern's attempt to ally with the Nazis is unquestionably important. Yet in the many years since the Ankara document was discovered, Shamir answered few questions about it. Nearly everything known about the proposed alliance, however, indicates that he was one of its chief architects.
In 1989, Yitzhak Shamir's past was unveiled to his fellow Israelis for the first time, when the story of the Ankara document was published in a major Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post. The story caused great shock, and for the first time these precarious dealings became the subject of discussion in Israel. On 11 March 1989, the Jerusalem Post's report was reflected in the Turkish press by the daily Zaman, in a report headed "The First Step to the Truth in Israel: Shamir-Nazi Collaboration Revealed." This report in daily Zaman stated that any mention of the Zionist-Nazi collaboration—in other words of the collaboration between certain Zionist leaders and Nazi politicians—had been banned by the State of Israel and not set out in writing until 1989.
Since then, many books have been published dealing with the Ankara document. Yet most of their authors, especially those who are Jewish, treat the Stern-Nazi relationship as an ambiguous historical event. For example, Yehoshafat Harkabi, a retired Israeli colonel, interprets it as an obscure episode in Jewish history in his book Israel's Fateful Hour. Yet the episode is not obscure at all. The only thing that enables such an interpretation is that most people know only of Stern's role in the Nazi-radical Zionist collaboration, and only because the Stern documents have been published. Relations between the Nazis and the WZO remain largely unknown.
Avraham Stern (to the side), who established a new organization with radicals like himself after leaving Irgun, offered the Nazis a military alliance in 1941. Nathan Yalin-Mor (far left) assigned to meet with the Nazis on behalf of Stern, would later explain the logic of this alliance by stating that the project of convincing the Jews to immigrate en masse was in full accord with Germany's aim of cleansing Europe of the Jews.
The last episode to be considered in the matter is provided by Eichmann in Jerusalem, by Hannah Arendt, who was prominent in the American Jewish circles as a political scientist and who, like Lenni Brenner, was anti-Zionist. By focusing on Adolf Eichmann, Arendt revealed certain previously hidden aspects of the collaboration between Nazis and some radical Zionists.
The Story of Adolf Eichmann
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is one of the most important books on the relations between radical Zionists and Nazis. Ms. Arendt's book relates the trial of the former Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann (or a similar figure), who was kidnapped in Argentina in 1960 by agents of the Mossad, brought to Israel, and put on trial. Eichmann is important because he was the man appointed to solve the Jewish question, under the command of Reinhard Heydrich.
Yitzhak Shamir, one of the leading directors of the Stern organization that offered a military alliance to the Nazis. Right: An identity card that Shamir used during 1940s, when he was searched for his terrorist actions.
Eichmann's was a strange story, and Ms. Arendt brings to light some interesting facts. First of all, she draws attention to the Nürnberg Laws, enacted in 1935, which sought to isolate the Jews from German society. Arendt points out that these laws were congenial to some Jews trying to maintain the homogeneity of the House of Israel, and that the same rules, even if unwritten, still apply in Israel. She reminds us that in Israel, it is forbidden for Jews to marry gentiles.70
In recounting Eichmann's background, Arendt provides remarkable facts about her subject. In his youth, Eichmann was not anti-Semitic and even had close relations with Jews (for just one example Mr. Weiss, general director of the Vacuum Oil Company of Vienna). According to Arendt, Eichmann was interested in Freemasonry and for a time attended the Schlaraffia Lodge.
His main role began in 1934, when he entered the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), a special and secret arm of the SS. The SD, established by SS Heinrich Himmler, operated as an intelligence service under Heydrich's direction. Shortly after joining, Eichmann entered the Jewish affairs section of the SD, and became an expert on "the Jewish question." During that period he made his first contacts with certain Zionist leaders in Germany.71 Arendt tells us that at that time, Eichmann read Der Judenstaat (Jewish State) and was very impressed by it:
… Von Mildenstein … required him to read Theodore Herzl's Der Judenstaat, the famous Zionist classic, which converted Eichmann promptly and forever to Zionism … From then on, as he repeated over and over, he thought of hardly anything but a "political solution" … and how to "get some firm ground under the feet of the Jews" … In order to help this enterprise, he began spreading the gospel among his SS comrades, giving lectures and writing pamphlets … He then acquired a smattering of Hebrew … He even read Adolf Böhm's History of Zionism … and this was perhaps a considerable achievement for a man who, by his own account, had always been utterly reluctant to read anything except newspapers.72
Eichmann was so drawn to Zionism because of the parallels he perceived between the aims of radical Zionists and those of Nazism. Just like the Nazis, some radical Zionists wanted to remove all Jews from the Reich. For the Nazis, that meant judenrein (clear of Jews); for some Zionists, it would lead to a Jewish state.
After being assigned as SD's (Sicherheitsdienst— the security service of the SS) specialist for Jewish emigration, Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann started to take a special interest in radical Zionism. He read the books of various Zionist writers, especially Herzl, and even learned Hebrew. He very much liked the radical Zionists' philosophy and the mission, and became one of the leading architects of the alliance the Nazis established with them.
What Eichmann called "idealism," and shared with some Zionists, was actually racism. The racists on both sides did not want Jews and Germans to live together. On that, at least, they were in agreement; and that was the rationale for the great assistance the Nazis gave to Jewish immigration to Palestine.
While such close relations were being established with radical Zionists, Eichmann was also organizing actions that would make German Jews uneasy. SD (Sicherheitsdienst), the SS Security Service to which he was affiliated, incited and organized such uprisings as the Kristallnacht, which broke out with the looting of Jewish shops. The aim was to "rescue" Jews from assimilation and convince them to emigrate.
Amidst all this information, we need to recall one important fact: it is the Jews' right to enjoy a homeland of their own, and thus it is perfectly natural for them to want to emigrate to Palestine, the land of their forefathers. Zionism is a legitimate ideology, so long as it supports these Jewish rights within a justified framework. However, some radical Zionists regard these lands as belonging to themselves alone, and plan to occupy other territories in the region as well. To aim at world domination and follow policies with that aim in mind is a violation of the historical facts and of present-day conditions. Palestinian lands are sacred to both Muslims and Christians, just as they are to Jews. Members of all three religions must be able to live there in peace, to perform their religious obligations as they wish, and to enjoy the security they desire. A mentality by which one community utterly disregards another, ignores its basic human rights, and permits it no right to live at all, is unacceptable.
Who could have a better religion than someone who submits himself completely to God and is a good-doer, and follows the religion of Abraham, a man of püre natural belief?... ."(Qur’an, 4: 125)