by Lenni Brenner
Croom Helm, London & Canberra, 1983
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Table of Contents:
• Glossary of Jewish and Zionist Organisations
• 1: Zionism and Anti-Semitism Prior to the Holocaust
• 2. Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil): The Roots of Zionist Racism
• 3. German Zionism and the Collapse of the Weimar Republic
• 4. Zionism and Italian Fascism, 1922-1933
• 5. German Zionism Offers to Collaborate with Nazism
• 6. The Jewish Anti-Nazi Boycott and the Zionist-Nazi Trade Agreement
• 7. Hitler Looks at Zionism
• 8. Palestine: The Arabs, Zionists, British and Nazis
• 9. The World Jewish Congress
• 10. Zionist-Revisionism and Italian Fascism
• 11. Revisionism and Nazism
• 12. Georg Kareski, Hitler's Zionist Quisling Before Quisling
• 13. Choosing the Chosen People: The Doctrine of 'Zionist Cruelty'
• 14. The World Zionist Organisation and Italian Fascism, 1933-1937
• 15. Austria and the 'Gentile Friends of Zionism'
• 16. The Jewish Parties of Eastern Europe
• 17. Spain: The Nazis Fight, The Zionists Do Not
• 18. Zionism's Failure to Fight Nazism in the Liberal Democracies
• 19. Zionism and the Japanese East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
• 20. Poland, 1918-1939
• 21. Zionism in Holocaust Poland
• 22. Zionist Collusion With the Polish Government-In-Exile
• 23. Illegal Immigration
• 24. The Wartime Failure to Rescue
• 25. Hungary, the Crime Within a Crime
• 26. The Stern Gang
One aspect of the [Nuremberg] laws, now long forgotten but which attracted considerable attention at the time, was the fact that from then on only two flags were to be permitted in the Third Reich, the swastika and the blue-and-white Zionist banner. This, of course, greatly excited the ZVfD, who hoped that this was a sign that Hitler was moving closer to an accommodation with them. But for many foreign Zionists this was a searing humiliation, well-expressed in the anguish of Stephen Wise's own organ, the Congress Bulletin:Hitlerism is Satan's nationalism. 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 to fly in Nazi-land. It was a painful distinction for Zionism to be singled out for favors and privileges by its Satanic counterpart.
Although there is not one statement by Jabotinsky in which he called himself a Fascist, and innumerable proclamations of his Gladstonian credentials, every other major political tendency saw the Revisionists as Zionism's Fascists. Weizmann privately attributed Arlosoroff’s murder to their Fascist style; Ben-Gurion routinely referred to 'Vladimir Hitler' and even went so far as to call the Nazis the 'German Revisionists'....
The highest such accolade was from Mussolini who, in 1935, told David Prato, later to become chief rabbi of Rome, that: 'For Zionism to succeed you need to have a Jewish state, with a Jewish flag and a Jewish language. The person who really understands that is your fascist, Jabotinsky.'...
Jacob de Haas, an intimate of Herzl’s, had converted to Revisionism in the mid-1930s....
The order -- 'Attention!' A triple chant ordered by the squad's commanding officer -- 'Viva L'Italia! Viva Il Re! Viva Il Duce!' resounded, followed by the benediction which rabbi Aldo Lattes invoked in Italian and in Hebrew for God, for the king and for Il Duce....
It is impossible to end a discussion of Revisionism and Fascism without mentioning briefly Begin's role during these events. His post-war books, The Revolt and White Nights, omit his own activities in the 1930s, and Jabotinsky is portrayed as a misunderstood exponent of military defence. But at the age of 22 Begin was prominent enough in the Polish Betar to sit with Jabotinsky on the presidium of the 1935 Polish Revisionist conference in Warsaw. By 1938 he was the dominant figure at the Betar's Warsaw world conference, and by 1939 he had been appointed head of Polish Betar. But, despite the fact that he has been called a Fascist by innumerable opponents, no specifically pro-Mussolini writings by him are ever cited and, by now, it must be presumed that none exist. However, if it is true that he never openly expounded Fascism, Yehuda Benari, director of the Jabotinsky Institute, and the author of the article on Begin in the Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, categorically states that in 1939 'he joined the radical wing of the Revisionist movement, which was ideologically linked with the B'rit HaBiryonim'. Begin was a personal friend of Achimeir, who had been deported to Poland in 1935, as well as von Weisl, who frequently came to Warsaw to negotiate with the Polish government on behalf of the NZO. He was an intimate friend of Nathan Yalin-Mor and at that time an admirer of Avraham Stern, both committed totalitarians. Even after the Second World War, as the leader of the Herut Party in the new Israeli state, Begin had both Achimeir and von Weisl writing for their daily newspaper....
"Yes, we Revisionists have a great admiration for Hitler. Hitler has saved Germany. Otherwise it would have perished within four years. And if he had given up his anti-Semitism we would go with him."...
"When provincial leaders of the left-wing of petty Zionism like Berl Locker call us Revisionists and Betarim-Hitlerites, we are not at all disturbed… the Lockers and their friends aim to create in Palestine a colony of Moscow with an Arab instead of a Jewish majority, with a red flag instead of the White and Blue, with the 'Internationale' instead of the 'Hatikvah,… If Herzl was a Fascist and Hitlerite, if a Jewish majority on both sides of the Jordan, if a Jewish State in Palestine which will solve the economic, political, and cultural problems of the Jewish nation be Hitlerism, then we are Hitlerites."...
To [Ben] Frommer, [an American Revisionist in 1935], the Jew: "No matter what country he inhabits… is not of the tribal origins… Consequently the Jew's attempt at complete identity with his country sounds spurious; his patriotism despite his vociferousness, hollow even to himself; and therefore his demand for complete equality with those who are of the essence of the nation naturally creates friction. This explains the intolerance of the Germans, Austrians, Poles and the increasing tide of antagonism in most European countries… It is presumptuous on the part of a Jew to demand that he be treated as lovingly as say a Teuton in a Teutonic country or a Pole in a Polish country. He must jealously guard his life and liberty, but he must candidly recognize that he does not 'belong'. The liberal fiction of perfect equality is doomed because it was unnatural."
In America the opposition to the Ha'avara was particularly intense in the garment industry trade unions, with their hundreds of thousands of Jewish workers. Most of the Jewish labour leaders had always looked upon Zionism with contempt. Many of them were from Russia and knew about the fateful Herzl-Plevhe meeting and how their old enemy Zubatov had backed the Poale Zionists against the Bund. As far as they were concerned the Ha'avara was just Zionism up to its old tricks, and in December 1935 Baruch Charney Vladeck, the Chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee, and himself an ex-Bundist from Poland, debated Berl Locker, the organisational head of the Palestinian Poale Zion, before an overflow crowd in New York.
Locker was compelled to take a defensive position, insisting that the agreement was purely in the interest of the German Jews. Besides, he argued, they would have brought the goods into the country on their own if there were no treaty. Why, if it had not been for the pact, he maintained, the situation would have been far worse in this regard: 'Palestine was presented by a fait accompli… The Transfer agreement prevents the country from being flooded with German merchandise, since goods come in only as there is need of them.'
Vladeck was not to be put off by Locker's obvious subterfuge, and he continued the attack. In New York the local Labour Zionists were simultaneously supporting the boycott in the United States while apologising for the Ha'avara in Palestine, and the old Bundist ridiculed their attempt to run with the fox and hunt with the hounds:You may argue from now till Doomsday, but this is double bookkeeping of the most flagrant sort. That nobody should break the boycott but the Jews of Palestine! And nobody deal with Germany but the Zionist organisation!… It is my contention that the main purpose of the Transfer is not to rescue the Jews from Germany but to strengthen various institutions in Palestine… Palestine thus becomes the official scab-agent against the boycott in the Near East… When the news of the Transfer Agreement first came out… Berl Locker said: 'Not a single Zionist agency has the slightest connection with the Transfer'… From this I can conclude in only one vein: The Transfer Agreement is a blot on the Jews and on the world....
Prior to the Nazis, German Zionism was no more than an isolated bourgeois political cult. While the leftists were trying to fight the brownshirts in the streets, the Zionists were busy collecting money for trees in Palestine. Suddenly in 1933 this small group conceived of itself as properly anointed by history to negotiate secretly with the Nazis, to oppose the vast mass of world Jewry who wanted to resist Hitler, all in the hope of obtaining the support of the enemy of their people for the building of their state in Palestine. Smolar and their other Zionist critics saw the ZVfD as merely cowardly, but they were quite wrong. Any surrender theory explains nothing of the pre-Hitler evolution of Zionist racism, nor does it go far in explaining the WZO's endorsement of their stance. The truth is sadder than cowardice. The plain fact is that Germany's Zionists did not see themselves as surrendering but, rather, as would-be partners in a most statesmanlike pact. They were wholly deluded. No Jews triumphed over other Jews in Nazi Germany. No modus vivendi was ever even remotely possible between Hitler and the Jews. Once Hitler had triumphed inside Germany, the position of the Jews was hopeless; all that was left for them was to go into exile and continue the fight from there. Many did, but the Zionists continued to dream of winning the patronage of Adolf Hitler for themselves. They did not fight Hitler before he came to power, when there was still a chance to beat him, not out of any degree of cowardice, but out of their deepest conviction, which they had inherited from Herzl, that anti-Semitism could not be fought. Given their failure to resist during Weimar, and given their race theories, it was inevitable that they would end up as the ideological jackals of Nazism....
A recent Zionist convert, the then world-famous popular biographer Emil Ludwig, was interviewed by a fellow Zionist on a visit to America and expressed the general attitude of the Zionist movement:'Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine. You know', and here the biographerhistorian seemed to assume the role of a patriarchal Jew -- 'the coming of the Nazis was rather a welcome thing. So many of our German Jews were hovering between two coasts; so many of them were riding the treacherous current between the Scylla of assimilation and the Charybdis of a nodding acquaintance with Jewish things. Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am personally very grateful to him.'
Ludwig was a newcomer to the movement, but his views were in complete concord with those of such veterans as the celebrated Chaim Nachman Bialik, thought of then as the poet laureate of Zion. Because of his reputation, his statements were given wide circulation both by the Zionist movement and its left-wing enemies. The poet’s concern had long been the breakdown of Jewish unity resulting from the decline of traditional religious faith, and now he could not hide his happiness that Hitler had come just in time to save German Jewry from its own destruction.Hitlerism, the poet feels, has rendered at least one service in drawing no lines between the faithful Jew and the apostate Jew. Had Hitler excepted the baptized Jews, there would have developed, Bialik contended, the unedifying spectacle of thousands of Jews running to the baptismal fonts. Hitlerism has perhaps saved German Jewry, which was being assimilated into annihilation. At the same time, it has made the world so conscious of the Jewish problem, that they can no longer ignore it.
Bialik, like many other Zionists, thought of the Jews as something of a super race; if only they would finally come to their senses and stop wasting themselves on an ungrateful humanity and started working in their own vineyard.Indeed it is quite true that Judaism, by penetrating into all the nations actually did undermine the remnants of that sort of idolatry… but perhaps the strongest forces in this process were our 'apostate' or 'assimilated' Jews of all types, who entered into the very body of Christianity and stirred its very bowels, and went on slowly undermining the remnants of paganism as a result of their Jewish volition and their Jewish blood. I, too, like Hitler, believe in the power of the blood idea. These were the men -- although often the names of great non-Jews are called in their stead -- who smoothed the roads for the great movements of freedom all over the world: The Renaissance, Liberalism, Democracy, Socialism and Communism… Anti-Semites sometimes have clear discernment. Jewish influence has indeed been very powerful in this connection; we ought not to deny it.
However, by 1934 Zionism was a movement claiming over a million members world-wide and not all of them accepted the upside-down notion that Hitler really was a boon to the Jews. Some, like the American rabbi, Abraham Jacobson, protested against this insane idea, which was still quite widespread even as late as 1936: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! ...
The Zionist-Nazi pact became public the day before a boycott resolution was to be debated, and it may be speculated that the Nazis did this so as to discourage endorsement of the boycott. The leader of the right-wing 'Revisionists', Vladimir Jabotinsky, presented the boycott case, but there was no chance of his proposal getting a serious hearing. The British had arrested several of his Revisionists for Arlosoroff's murder and the prosecutor was putting evidence before the court while the Congress met. As the Revisionists had a history of violence against their Zionist rivals, most delegates were convinced of their complicity in the Arlosoroff affair. Their unsavoury reputation was enhanced when Jabotinsky's own brownshirts accompanied him into the hall in full military formation, compelling the presidium to outlaw the uniforms for fear they would provoke Arlosoroff's Labour comrades into a dot. Jabotinsky's support for the boycott, and his opposition to the pact, was dismissed as the raging of a terrorist opponent of the democratically elected moderate leadership. His resolution was defeated by a vote of 240 to 48.
However, defeating Jabotinsky's resolution did not necessarily mean that the delegates favoured a deal with Hitler and, when the Nazis announced that they had signed an agreement with the Zionists allowing German Jews to ship three million Reichmarks’ worth of Jewish wealth to Palestine in the form of German export goods, much of the Congress dismissed the statement as a propaganda stunt. When the truth became clear, pandemonium broke loose. The leadership had completely miscalculated and genuinely expected the pact to be immensely popular. Now, stunned by the hostile opposition, they tried to protect themselves by outright lying; the Labour leader, Berl Locker, brazenly proclaimed: 'the executive of the World Zionist Organisation had nothing to do with the negotiations which led to an agreement with the German government'. No one believed this crude fabrication....
Now Stephen Wise presented the leadership with an ultimatum: explain 'how to prevent German… propagandists from utilising the agreement'. His demand 'was heatedly discussed all day… by the Political Committee'. In the end the leaders did not dare take official responsibility for the 'Ha'avara' or Transfer Agreement, and pretended that it only bound Germany and the formal signatory, the Anglo-Palestine Bank. But, since the bank was their own bank, they only succeeded in making themselves look ridiculous to friend and foe alike....
The great majority of Jews opposed the Ha'avara. It had no defenders outside the WZO, and trading with the Nazis was not popular with many inside its own ranks. Protests started pouring in while the Prague Congress was still in session. The pact was extremely unpopular in Poland, where the Jews feared that if there was no resistance to the anti-Semitism next door, their own Jew-haters would start demanding that the Polish govemment imitate the Germans. In America and Britain, each with a more or less democratic tradition, many Zionists, including some of the leading names in the movement, opposed it. The prominent Cleveland rabbi, Abba Hillel Silver, was one of the very first to complain, in August 1933:Why the very idea of Palestine Jewry negotiating with Hitler about business instead of demanding justice for the persecuted Jews of Germany is unthinkable. One might think that the whole affair was a bankruptcy sale and that the Jews of Palestine were endeavouring to salvage a few bargains for themselves.
Lamentations were heard even at the far corners of the earth. The Melbourne Jewish Weekly News protested: 'they will make us a laughing-stock among the Germans, who will be able to declare that when it comes to a conflict between Jewish business and sentiment, business always wins'. Rabbi Wise returned to the subject on innumerable occasions. In September 1933 he referred to Ha'avara as the 'new golden calf -- the Golden Orange' and continued: 'I think I speak the mind of Jews everywhere when I say we hold in abhorrence any Jew, whether in or out of Palestine, who undertakes to make any commercial arrangements with the Nazi government for any reason whatever'.
In a speech at a World Jewish Conference at Geneva in 1934, Wise attacked the Labourites who had become the dominant force in Palestinian Zionism:One leading Palestinian put it over and over again at Prague: Palestine has primacy. This conference must clearly state, that while Palestine has primacy over all other factors in the equation, its primacy ceases when it comes into conflict with a higher moral law.
Wise had identified the rot in the WZO: the land of Israel had become far more important than the needs of the people Israel. Labour Zionism had become, in the fullest sense, a utopian cult....
Of course it was the Nazis who were the prime gainers from Ha'avara. Not only did it help them push out a few extra Jews, but it was of immense value abroad, providing the perfect rationale for all those who still wanted to continue trading with the Germans. In Britain, Sir Oswald Mosley's newspaper, the Blackshirt, loved it: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....
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 sympathiser. Now as the head of the Jewish Department of the SS's Security Service, he started studying Hebrew and collecting Hebrew records; when his former companion and guide, Kurt 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. Von Mildenstein was as good as his word: he not only wrote favourably about what he saw in the Zionist colonies in Palestine; he also persuaded Goebbels to run the report as a massive twelve-part series in his own Der Angriff (The Assault), the leading Nazi propaganda organ (26 September to 9 October 1934). His stay among the Zionists had shown the SS man 'the way to curing a centuries-long wound on the body of the world: the Jewish question'. It was really amazing how some good Jewish boden under his feet could enliven the Jew: 'The soil has reformed him and his kind in a decade. This new Jew will be a new people.' To commemorate the Baron's expedition, Goebbels had a medal struck: on one side the swastika, on the other the Zionist star.
Nahum Sokolow, then President of the WZO, saw Mussolini on 16 February 1933. Sokolow was not a strong figure; he had only been elected in 1931 on Weizmann’s resignation after losing a vote of confidence on his policy of accommodation to the British, and he made no requests of Mussolini. However, Mussolini spoke of his 'cordial sympathy’ for the Jews. When the Nazis announced their anti-Jewish boycott for 1 April, Mussolini sent his ambassador to see Hitler on 31 March, urging him to call it off. At this meeting the Fuhrer heaped praise upon the Duce, but Adolf Hitler was the world’s greatest expert on the Jews and needed no lecture on how to deal with them. Was it his fault that the leading Marxists were Jews? And what excesses had he perpetrated on the Jews that his name should be so maligned abroad, he retorted. No, his admirers might thank him if he called off the boycott, but his many enemies would all take it as a sign of weakness. Hitler asked that the next time the ambassador saw Signor Mussolini:Add this: That I do not know whether in two or three hundred years my name will be venerated in Germany for what I so ardently hope to be able to do for my people, but of one thing I am absolutely certain: that five or six hundred years from now, the name of Hitler will be glorified everywhere as the name of the man who once and for all rid the world of the plague of Judaism.
The Italians, who were concerned about Germany’s designs on Austria, were on relatively good terms with the British as a result and gave London a report on the Hitler interview, but there is no reason to believe that Mussolini ever passed on these ominous words to the Zionists, nor is there evidence that the WZO ever presumed to request that the Italians pass them such information on Hitler's intentions. The WZO's interest lay in getting Mussolini to support them on Palestine, ally with the British on Austria, and lobby on behalf of German Jewry within the Nazis' parameters....
Though his prophesy to Mussolini's ambassador was awesome, Hitler was acutely aware of his weakness in early 1933. The opposition to stepping up the persecution of the Jews, as witness both Mussolini's intervention and the pleas of the German bourgeoisie, who were concerned for their export markets in the United States, compelled him to restrict the boycott to a one-day warning to the Jews. But Mussolini took this caution to mean that some form of modus vivendi was possible. He had tried to help the Jews; now he had to do likewise for Hitler. He asked Angelo Sacerdoti, the chief rabbi of Rome, to put him in contact with the heads of Jewry, suggesting that Hitler could scarcely be expected to stop his activities, if he did not have prior guarantees from world Jewry that they would call off their own demonstrations against him. Weizmann was already scheduled to visit Rome on 26 April 1933, and the rabbi suggested him as the logical contact; thus the third Weizmann-Mussolini meeting was quickly arranged.
Their discussion is shrouded in obscurity.
-- Zionism in the Age of Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner