The Flat, directed by Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film

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The Flat, directed by Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film

Postby admin » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:24 am

The Flat -- Illustrated Screenplay
written and directed by Arnon Goldfinger
A Co-production of Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film With ZDF SWR NOGA Communications – Channel 8 in cooperation with Arte Supported by Filmforderanstalt Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg Deutscher Filmforderfonds The New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and Television Produced by Arnon Goldfinger and Thomas Kufus





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Re: The Flat, directed by Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film

Postby admin » Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:24 am

Part 1 of 3

The Flat
A Co-production of Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film With ZDF SWR NOGA Communications – Channel 8 in cooperation with Arte Supported by Filmforderanstalt Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg Deutscher Filmforderfonds The New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and Television Produced by Arnon Goldfinger and Thomas Kufus

During the first months of the Hitler regime, leaders of the Zionist movement concluded a controversial pact with the Third Reich which, in its various forms, transferred some 60,000 Jews and $100 million -- almost $1.7 billion in 2009 dollars -- to Jewish Palestine. In return, Zionists would halt the worldwide Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott that threatened to topple the Hitler regime in its first year.

-- The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, by Edwin Black

[Arnon] This is my grandmother, Gerda.
A month ago, she died.
Since then, no one has been here.
Everything remains as it was.
Now we have a difficult task:
to decide what stays and what goes.

[Woman] Hey, Arnon.

[Man] Hello.

[Mother Hannahle] Hello.
Half of it will go into the garbage.
This is broken. No, it isn’t broken.
But we’ll check carefully.

[Arnon] What do you want to do?

[Mother Hannahle] First, the big stuff.
Next important thing is … the books.
Most of them are probably in German.
We’ll have to come another day
and see what’s here.
The Persian rugs are worthless.
They’re probably worth nothing.

[Arnon] Let’s move on, Mom.

[Woman] Hello.

[Mother Hannahle] Hi.
Last one in closes the door behind.

[Brother Gidi] The question is, has Grandpa had a safe with something in it?

[Woman] If he did, I want it.

[Mother Hannahle] Nyahh!


[Man] Who locks the door?

[Mother Hannahle] Arnon.

[Door closes]


[Arnon] When I was a kid, I liked to come here.
Once a week, I’d cross the streets of Tel Aviv,
climb up the stairs, and find myself in Berlin.
My grandmother lived here for 70 years
as if she had never left Germany.
Despite the years in the Holy Land,
she never mastered Hebrew
and I didn’t want to learn German.
So we’d sit and chat in English
over apfelstrudel and Swiss chocolate.

[Lilting music]

When I grew up, I realized that the meaningful things
were always left unspoken.

[Shades rattling down]

The Flat, A Film my Arnon Goldfinger

[Man] Anybody down there?

[Woman] No.

[Man] [Throws down garbage bags]

[Glass shatters]

[Arnon] The cleanup begins
at a rate of 60 garbage bags per day.

[Mother Hannahle] … 6, 7, 8, 9.

[Arnon] My mother and cousins storm the flat.

[Woman] Look at this.

[Mother Hannahle] Look.

[Many, many gloves]

[Woman] Wow!

[Light-hearted piano music]

[Mother Hannahle] [Counting gloves] 37, 38, 39, 40.
I never smoked, but Grandma used to smoke like this.
The treasure chest.

[Jewelry box]

[Arnon] Who could believe
that we were digging through closets
that we’d never dared to open?
Grandmother would turn over in her grave
if she knew what we were doing.

[Mother Hannahle] How can anyone hoard so many things?

[Woman] Look, Arnon.

[Magnifying glass]

[Nice shoes]


[Women] [Playing with scarves] [Laugh]

[Micha Adler] Hi, Arnon. How are you?

[Arnon] Glad you came.
Next come the books.
Micha Adler, a German-Jewish book lover,
will find them a new home.

[Micha Adler] All these …
Nobody reads Shakespeare anymore.
Nobody wants it.
Americans buy them
in the Frankfurt Book Fair by the yard
just to put on their shelves
to look cultured and all.
They don’t even know what’s in the books, but it looks good.
I suggest we go over the books section by section
and try to find the ones that are in good shape,
because nobody reads Balzac, for example.

[Arnon] None of these are interesting?

[Micha Adler] No, not at all.
Nobody reads these anymore.

[Arnon] What is it?

[Micha Adler] [Speaks in German]

[Arnon] Meaning …?

[Micha Adler] The History of the Jewish People.
Would you read it?

[Arnon] Dostoyevsky!

[Micha Adler] Yes, but only the first half.
Herr Nietzsche.
Some people read Nietzsche, but not in this print.

Gobineau's [unlike Chamberlain's] was an honest Antisemitism, it was, like Nietzsche's, an historical Antisemitism: it had nothing whatever to do with modern Antisemitism, that movement born from fear, envy, and impotence ... [i]t is an upright, a genuine, a gentlemanly Antisemitism, it is the Antisemitism of the aristocrat, who sees his very blood threatened by revolutionary religions.

-- Oscar Levy, from "Breeding Superman: Nietzsche, Race and Eugenics in Edwardian and Interwar Britain", by Dan Stone

Any idea how many books they throw away in Germany?
I’m telling you, there are tons of books that …
Nobody wants them.
Goethe. Forget it.

[Arnon] [Showing him a picture] This is my grandfather …

[Micha Adler] Uh-huh.

[Arnon] My grandmother …

[Micha Adler] Uh-huh.

[Arnon] My aunt and my uncle.

[Micha Adler] Nice.
Pomerania …
What’s interesting about German Jews is …
How long did they live in Germany?
Until their 20s or their 30s, right?
Then they lived in Israel for 50 years.
Still, their heart stayed with those first 20 years
in Germany.
These books are all in German.
I’m sure they suffered
and that they had a hard time here.

[Arnon] To me,
Grandfather Kurt was an important man
from a distant land.
When he died, I was 15.
Grandmother used to say that I inherited his love of books
and his glasses.
But what else do I know about the man I resemble?

[Blinds go down]


[Arnon] [To cousin Rani] What do you know about Grandpa’s family?

[Cousin Rani] Nothing.
Nothing at all.

[Arnon] [To siblings Yair & Orit] When was Grandpa born?

[Sister Orit] In 1900?

[Arnon] [To brother Gidi] And where was he born?

[Brother Gidi] Those are tough questions.

[Arnon] What did Grandpa do in Berlin?

[Siblings Yair & Orit] He was a traffic court judge.

[Arnon] A traffic court judge?

[Sister Orit] Yes.

[Brother Gidi] Dad said he was a judge, a very good one.
That he protected the good guys and punished the bad ones.

[Arnon] [To cousin Rani] When was Grandma born?

[Cousin Rani] Can’t help you. I don’t know.

[Brother Gidi] I forget. I know very little of the family history.
And I got an “A” in history.

[Clock ticking]

[Arnon] My grandparents had 12 grandchildren.
The oldest one died.
Five live in America.
Four remember nothing.
And one is just too busy.
that leaves me …

[Cuckoo clock chimes]

[Arnon] And the flat.

[Soft piano music]

[Arnon] Three weeks go by, and no one comes to remove a thing,
except Mother.
She was born in Berlin, but this is her childhood home.
And now that her parents are gone, it’s all hers.
When it comes to the documents, she can’t throw anything away,
not even old bank statements.
She inspects them line by line, letter by letter,
and only then can she throw it away.

[Woman] Hi.
Found anything?

[Mother Hannahle] No, only bank statements from 2000.

[Woman] “To Kurt Tuchler,” issued April 18, 1911.
“A bicycle license.”

[Mother Hannahle] Well.

[Looking at newspapers: Gemeinde Blatt: der Judischen Gemeinde, 8 November 1936]

Jewish Community.
Maybe they brought newspapers with them to Palestine.

[Der Angriff: Ein Nazi fahrt nach Palastina, 3 October 1934]

[Mother Hannahle] “A Nazi Travels to Palestine.”

[Woman] What does that mean?

[Mother Hannahle] Look, a map.
Look, a swastika and a Star of David.

[Handwritten swastika, Star of David, and “Heydrich,” with a heart around it]

[Mother Hannahle] What is this?

[Woman] I have no idea.

Heydrich wished them a fond farewell: '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.'

-- Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner

[der Buergermeister von Djenin; zeigst Due Deine
zeig ich meine Missus
Hafeneinweihung Haifa!
Pension Wollstein
achrichten ueber Berlin
Artikelserie im Angriff
Verbindung mit Mildenstein
freiung von Adler Rudel
hebung des Verbotes der Juedischen Rundschau.
Gruendung den Junenreferata der SS.
planted von Mildenstein there”
auchen von Eichmann!
enstein’s spasteres Schick__.
elengenheit Karezski, sein Schwager, Bruder Hermann Stahl]

[Arnon] [Clears table and puts down stack of der Angriff]
What is Nazi propaganda
doing in my grandparents’ flat?
The newspapers tell the story
of a Nazi who travels to Palestine.
You can see him gazing from the ship
at impish little Jews at the shore
But there are also pictures of Jewish pioneers:
drying the swamps, plowing the land,
fulfilling the Zionist dream
of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine.

[Types in google: Nazi Travels to Palestine]

It gets really absurd
when I discover that the readers also got a special bonus:
a copper medallion.
On one side, the symbol of the Jews;
on the other,
the symbol of those who wanted to get rid of them.
But what does it have to do with my grandparents?


[Driving down a road]

[Arnon] I heard that up north, there is a German Jew
who specializes in German Jews,
Dr. Barkai.
When I called and told him the story,
he wasn’t surprised.
He, too, had come across the Nazi’s travelogues.

[Dr. Barkai] The author was a nobleman,
von Mildenstein.
He published
a series of articles
in the most Nazi newspaper imaginable at the time,
Der Angriff,
which means “The Attack.”
The German Zionist Federation felt this trip was important,
so they sent …
Kurt Tuchler with him.

[Arnon] My grandfather.

[Dr. Barkai] Yes, your grandfather.
Hold on.
You have found it
among your grandfather’s writings, right?
He told you about it.

[Arnon] My grandfather hadn’t told me anything about it.

[Dr. Barkai] No, he reported on it to Yad Va’Shem.
Tucher writes that …
he went with von Mildenstein in April ‘33
on a trip to Palestine.
And Mildestein returned, as Tucher writes,
“an enthusiastic Zionist.”

[Arnon] These articles were … pro-Zionist?

[Dr. Barkai] Yes.
Why are you amazed?
It was sort of a temporary mutual interest.
The Germans wanted to get rid of the Jews,
and the Zionists wanted them in Palestine.

[Arnon] What did the Zionists have to offer them?

[Dr. Barkai] They brought the Jews to Palestine.


Werner Senator, a leading German Zionist, once remarked that Zionism, for all its world Jewish nationalism, always politically assimilates to the countries within which it operates. No better proof of his remark exists than the political adaptation of the ZVfD to the theories and policies of the new Nazi regime. Believing that the ideological similarities between the two movements -- their contempt for liberalism, their common volkish racism and, of course, their mutual conviction that Germany could never be the homeland of its Jews -- could induce the Nazis to support them, the ZVfD solicited the patronage of Adolf Hitler, not once but repeatedly, after 1933.

The goal of the ZVfD became an 'orderly retreat', that is, Nazi backing for emigration of at least the younger generation of Jews to Palestine, and they immediately sought contact with elements in the Nazi apparatus whom they thought would be interested in such an arrangement on the basis of a volkish appreciation of Zionism. Kurt Tuchler, a member of the ZVfD Executive, persuaded Baron Leopold Itz Edler von Mildenstein of the SS to write a pro-Zionist piece for the Nazi press. The Baron agreed on the condition that he visited Palestine first, and two months after Hitler came to power the two men and their wives went to Palestine; von Mildenstein stayed there for six months before he returned to write his articles. [86]

Contact with a central figure in the new government came in March 1933, when Hermann Goering summoned the leaders of the major Jewish organisations. In early March, Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Steurmer, had declared that, as of 1 April, all Jewish stores and professionals would be boycotted; however, this campaign ran into an immediate snag. Hitler's capitalist backers were extremely worried by the announcement by rabbi Wise of a planned counter-demonstration to be held in New York on 27 March, if the Nazis went ahead with their boycott. Jews were prominent throughout the retail trade both in American and Europe and, fearing retaliation against their own companies, Hitler's wealthy patrons urged him to call off the action. But the Nazis could hardly do that without losing face, and they decided to use German Jewry to head off Wise; thus Hermann Goering called in the Jewish leaders.

German Zionism's influence in Weimar did not merit its leaders’ participation, but because they conceived themselves as the only natural negotiating partner with the Nazis, they secured a late invitation. Martin Rosenbluth, a leading Zionist, later told of the incident in his post-war autobiography, Go Forth and Serve. Four Jews saw Goering: Julius Brodnitz for the CV, Heinrich Stahl for the Berlin Jewish community, Max Naumann, a pro-Nazi fanatic from the Verband nationaldeutscher Juden (VnJ), and Blumenfeld for the Zionists. Goering launched into a tirade: the foreign press was lying about atrocities against Jews; unless the lies stopped, he could not vouch for the safety of German Jewry. Most important, the New York rally had to be called off: 'Dr Wise is one of our most dangerous and unscrupulous enemies.' [87] A delegation was to go to London to contact world Jewry.

The assimilationists declined, claiming that as Germans they had no influence with foreign Jews. This was false, but they hardly wanted to assist in their own destruction. Only Blumenfeld volunteered, but insisted he be allowed to speak truthfully about the Nazi treatment of Jews. Goering did not care what was said to get the rally called off; perhaps a description of the grim situation might make foreign Jews halt for fear of provoking worse. He did not care who went or what arguments were used as long as the deputation agreed to 'report regularly to the German embassy'. [88]

The ZVfD finally sent Martin Rosenbluth and Richard Lichtheim. Fearing exclusive responsibility for the outcome of their strange mission, they prevailed upon the CV to let them take along Dr Ludwig Tietz. Although not a Zionist personally, the wealthy businessman was 'a good friend of ours'. [89] The trio arrived in London on 27 March and immediately met forty Jewish leaders at a meeting chaired by Nahum Sokolow, then President of the WZO. They later met a battery of British officials. The delegates saw two tasks before them: to use the severity of the situation to promote Palestine as 'the logical place of refuge', and to head off all anti-Nazi efforts abroad. They called Wise in New York. Rosenbluth described the incident thus in his memoirs:

Mindful of Goering's charges… we conveyed the message… Getting the cryptic rest of our message across to him was somewhat more difficult, since it was necessary to speak in obscure terms in order to confound any possible monitors. Subsequent events proved we had made clear our hidden plea, and that Dr Wise had understood we wanted him to stand firm and under no circumstances cancel the meeting. [90]

There is no evidence that any effort was made to signal Wise to this effect. Through the research of an Israeli scholar, Shaul Esh, it is now known that the deputation tried to head off demonstrations in New York and Palestine. According to Esh, later that evening they sent cables:

not in their own name, but in the name of the Zionist Executive in London. The telegrams requested that the recipients immediately dispatch to the Chancellery of the Third Reich declarations to the effect that they do not condone an organised anti-German boycott… the Zionist Executive in London learned of this several hours later, they sent another cable to Jerusalem to delay the dispatch of an official declaration to Hitler. [91]

Later, in his own autobiography, Challenging Years, Stephen Wise mentioned receiving their cable, but he did not record any cryptic message from the delegation. [92] It is reasonable to assume that he would have recorded it, if he had thought any such attempt was made. In reality, Wise repeatedly raged at the ZVfD in the following years for persistently opposing every attempt by foreign Jews to struggle against the Hitler regime.

The London proceedings were typical of all further ZVfD behaviour. In 1937, after leaving Berlin for America, rabbi Joachim Prinz wrote of his experiences in Germany and alluded to a memorandum which, it is now known, was sent to the Nazi Party by the ZVfD on 21 June 1933. Prinz's article candidly describes the Zionist mood in the first months of 1933:

Everyone in Germany knew that only the Zionists could responsibly represent the Jews in dealings with the Nazi government. We all felt sure that one day the government would arrange a round table conference with the Jews, at which -- after the riots and atrocities of the revolution had passed -- the new status of German Jewry could be considered. The government announced very solemnly that there was no country in the world which 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!… In a statement notable for its pride and dignity, we called for a conference. [93]

The document remained buried until 1962, when it was finally printed, in German, in Israel. 'Pride' and 'dignity' are words open to interpretation but, it is safe to say, there was not one word that could be so construed today. This extraordinary memorandum demands extensive quotation. The Nazis were asked, very politely:

May we therefore be permitted to present our views, which, in our opinion, make possible a solution in keeping with the principles of the new German State of National Awakening and which at the same time might signify for Jews a new ordering of the conditions of their existence… Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one's own tradition…

… an answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural, and moral renewal of Jewry… a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group. For the Jew, too, origin, religion, community of fate and group consciousness must be of decisive significance in the shaping of his life…

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 acknowledgement of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group…

… fidelity to their own kind and their own culture gives Jews the inner strength that prevents insult to the respect for the national sentiments and the imponderables of German nationality; and rootedness in one's own spirituality protects the Jew from becoming the rootless critic of the national foundations of German essence. The national distancing which the state desires would thus be brought about easily as the result of an organic development.

Thus, a self-conscious Jewry here described, in whose name we speak, can find a place in the structure of the German state, because it is inwardly unembarrassed, free from the resentment which assimilated Jews must feel at the determination that they belong to Jewry, to the Jewish race and past. 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, because in dealing with the Jewish question no sentimentalities are involved but a real problem whose solution interests all peoples, and at the present moment especially the German people.

The realisation of Zionism could only be hurt by resentment of Jews abroad against the German development. Boycott propaganda -- such as is currently being carried on against Germany in many ways -- is in essence un-Zionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build… Our observations, presented herewith, rest on the conviction that, in solving the Jewish problem according to its own lights, the German Government will have full understanding for a candid and clear Jewish posture that harmonizes with the interests of the state. [94]

This document, a treason to the Jews of Germany, was written in standard Zionist cliches: 'abnormal occupational pattern', 'rootless intellectuals greatly in need of moral regeneration', etc. 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.

Obsessed with their strange mission, the ZVfD's leaders lost all sense of international Jewish perspective and even tried to get the WZO to call off its World Congress, scheduled for August 1933. They sent their world leadership a letter: 'It will have to express sharp protests,' their lives could be at stake at a time when 'our legal existence has enabled us to organise thousands and to transfer large sums of money to Palestine’. [95] The Congress did take place as we shall see, but the ZVfD had nothing to worry about as the Nazis chose to use the occasion to announce that they had made a deal with world Zionism.

'Seeking its own National Idealism in the Nazi Spirit'

The Jewish public knew nothing about von Mildenstein's journey to Palestine in the company of a member of the Zionist Executive, nor about Rosenbluth and Lichtheim’s trip to London; nor did they know about the memorandum, nor the request to call off the Zionist Congress. However, they could not miss what was appearing in the Rundschau, where assimilationalist German Jewry was roundly attacked. The CV complained bitterly of Zionist 'siegesfanfaren' as the Rundschau rushed to condemn the guilty Jews. [96] The editor, Robert Weltsch, took the occasion of the 1 April boycott to assail the Jews of Germany in an editorial: 'Wear the Yellow Badge with Pride’:

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 the 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. [97]

Even as the Nazis were in the process of throwing the left into concentration camps, Weltsch attacked the left-wing Jewish journalists:

If today the National Socialist and German patriotic newspapers frequently refer to the type of the Jewish scribbler and the so-called Jewish press… it must be pointed out… Upright Jews have always been indignant at the raillery and the caricature directed by Jewish buffoons against Jews to the same extent, or even a greater extent, than they aimed them at Germans and others. [98]

Although the left-wing press had been under attack from the day the Nazis came to power, the Jewish newspapers were still legal. Naturally they were censored; if a journal printed something untoward, it would be closed down, temporarily at least. However, the Nazis did not force the Zionists to denounce their fellow Jews.

After the Holocaust Weltsch was quite contrite about the editorial, saying that he should have told the Jews to flee for their lives, but he never claimed that the Nazis made him write the piece. Weltsch was not a Fascist, but he was too much the Zionist sectarian to have really thought through his ideas about the world at large. As were most of the leaders of the ZVfD, he was quite convinced that 'egotistical liberalism’ and parliamentary democracy were dead at least in Germany. Internationally, they were still for the British in Palestine, but the Rundschau's correspondent in Italy, Kurt Kornicker, was quite openly pro-Fascist. [99] The ZVfD’s leaders became convinced that Fascism was the wave of the future, certainly in Central Europe, and within that framework they counterposed the 'good' Fascism of Mussolini to the 'excesses' of Hitlerism, which they thought would diminish, with their assistance, as time went by.

Racism was now triumphant and the ZVfD ran with the winner. The talk of blut began to take hold with a statement by Blumenfeld in April 1933 that the Jews had previously been masking their natural blood-sanctioned apartness from the real Germans, but it reached Wagnerian proportions in the 4 August Rundschau with a long essay, 'Rasse als Kulturfaktor', which pondered on the intellectual implications for Jews of the Nazi victory. It argued that Jews should not merely accept silently the dictates of their new masters; they, too, had to realise that race separation was wholly to the good:

We who live here as a 'foreign race' have to respect racial consciousness and the racial interest of the German people absolutely. This however does not preclude a peaceful living together of people of different racial membership. The smaller the possibility of an undesirable mixture, so much less is there need for 'racial protection'… There are differentiations that in the last analysis have their root in ancestry. Only rationalist newspapers who have lost feeling for the deeper reasons and profundities of the soul, and for the origins of communal consciousness, could put aside ancestry as simply in the realm of 'natural history'.

In the past, the paper continued, it had been hard to get Jews to have an objective evaluation of racism. But now was the time, indeed past time, for a bit of 'quiet evaluation': 'Race is undoubtedly a very important, yes, decisive momentum. Out of "blood and soil" really is determined the being of a people and their achievements.' Jews would have to make good for 'the last generations when Jewish racial consciousness was largely neglected. The article warned against 'bagatellised' race, and also against the CV, who were beginning to abandon their traditional assimilationist ideology in the wake of the disaster, but 'without changing basically'.

Challenging the racist bona fides of their rivals was not enough. To prove that the 'Jewish Renaissance Movement' had always been racist, the Rundschau reprinted two pre-1914 articles under the title 'Voices of the Blood'. 'Das singende Blut' by Stefan Zweig and ‘Lied des Blutes' by Hugo Salus rhapsodised about how 'the modern Jew… recognizes his Jewishness… through an inner experience which teaches him the special language of his blood in a mystical manner'.

But although these mimics of the Nazis were confirmed racists, they were not chauvinists. They did not think they were racially superior to the Arabs. The Zionists were even going to uplift their benighted Semitic cousins. Their volkism was only a warped answer to their own 'personality problem', as they put it: it allowed them to reconcile themselves to the existence of anti-Semitism in Germany without fighting it. They hastened to reassure their readers that many modern nations and states were racially mixed and yet the races could live in harmony. Jews were warned: now that they were to become racists, they should not become chauvinists: 'above race is humanity'. [100]

Although racism permeated through the ZVfD's literature, foreign Jewish observers always saw Joachim Prinz as its most strident propagandist. A Social Democratic voter before 1933, Prinz became rabidly volkist in the first years of the Third Reich. Some of the violent hostility towards Jews in his book Wir Juden could have been inserted directly into the Nazis' own propaganda. To Prinz the Jew was made up of 'misplacement, of queerness, of exhibitionism, inferiority, arrogance, self-deceit, sophisticated love of truth, hate, sickly, patriotism and rootless cosmopolitanism… a psychopathological arsenal of rare abundance’. [101]

Prinz was deeply contemptuous of the rational and liberal traditions which had been the common basis of all progressive thought since the American Revolution. For him the harm that liberalism had done was compensated for only by the fact that it was dying:

Parliament and democracy are increasingly shattered. The exaggerated harmful emphasis on the value of the individual is recognised to be mistaken; the concept and reality of the nation and the volk is gaining, to our happiness, more and more ground. [102]

Prinz believed that an accommodation between Nazis and Jews was possible, but only on the basis of a Zionist-Nazi accord: '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. [103]

After he came to the United States Prinz realised that nothing he had been saying in Germany sounded rational in a democratic context and he abandoned his bizarre notions, further proof that the German Zionists had simply adapted ideologically to Nazism. [104] But perhaps the best illustration of the Zionists' Nazification was the curious statement by one of the Rundschau's editors, Arnold Zweig, made in his Insulted and Exiled, naturally written abroad and published in 1937:

of all the newspapers published in German, the most independent, the most courageous, and the ablest was the Judische Rundschau, the official organ of the Zionist Union of Germany. Although it sometimes went too far in its approval of the Nationalist State (seeking its own national idealism in the Nazi spirit), there, nevertheless, issued from it a stream of energy, tranquility, warmth, and confidence of which the German Jews and Jewry the world over stood in urgent need. [105]

'The Exclusive Control of German Jewish Life'

Not even the Nuremberg Laws of 15 September 1935 challenged the basic German Zionist belief in an ultimate modus vivendi with the Nazis. The HeChalutz (Pioneer) Centre, in charge of training youth for the kibbutz movement, concluded that the promulgation of laws making mixed marriage a crime was a suitable occasion for a new approach to the regime. The Pioneers came up with a plan for the emigration of the entire Jewish community over a period of 15-25 years. Abraham Margaliot, a scholar at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Institute, has explained the thinking at the Centre in that fateful year:

The HeChalutz leaders assumed that this underlying goal would prove so alluring to the German authorities that they would agree to extend aid towards further emigration abroad by liberalizing the laws governing the transfer of foreign currency abroad, by providing opportunities for vocational training and by 'political means'. [106]

The Rundschau published excerpts from a speech in which Hitler announced that his government still hoped to find a basis for 'a better attitude towards the Jews'. [107] The paper published a statement by A.I. Brandt, the head of the Nazis' press association, which informed a doubtlessly somewhat surprised world that the 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. [108]

The goal of the ZVfD became 'national autonomy'. They wanted Hitler to give Jews the right to an economic existence, protection from attacks on their honour, and training to prepare them for migration. The ZVfD became absorbed in trying to utilise the segregated Jewish institutions to develop a Jewish national spirit. The 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. By 15 January 1936 the Palestine Post had to make the startling report that: 'A bold demand that the German Zionist Federation be given recognition by the government as the only instrument for the exclusive control of German Jewish life was made by the executive of that body in a proclamation today.’ [109]

German Zionist hopes for an arrangement faded only in the face of the ever-mounting intimidation and terror. Even then there was no sign of any attempts at anti-Nazi activity on the part of the ZVfD leaders. Throughout the entire pre-war period there was only a tiny Zionist involvement in the anti-Nazi underground. Although the HeChalutz and Hashomer youth movements talked socialism, the Nazis were not concerned. Yechiel Greenberg of Hashomer admitted in 1938 that 'our socialism was considered merely a philosophy for export'. [110] But almost from the beginning of the dictatorship the underground KPD, always looking for new recruits, sent some of their Jewish cadre into the youth movements and, according to Arnold Paucker -- now the editor of London's Leo Baeck Institute Year Book -- some Zionist youth became involved with the resistance at least to the extent of some illegal postering in the early years of the regime. [111] How much of this was due to the influence of the Communist infiltrators, and how much was spontaneous is impossible to estimate. However, the Zionist bureaucracy vigorously attacked the KPD. [112] As in Italy, so in Germany: the Zionist leadership sought the support of the regime for Zionism and resisted Communism; in neither country could it be thought of as part of the anti-Fascist resistance.

The interrelationship between the ZVfD and the WZO will be described below. Suffice to say for now, that the WZO leaders approved of the general line of their German affiliate. However, within the ranks of the world movement there were many who refused to remain silent while their German branch not only accepted second-class citizenship as no more than the Jews had a right to expect but, even worse, denounced foreign Jews for boycotting Germany. Boris Smolar, the chief European correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Zionist wire service, spoke for all these when he wrote angrily, in 1935:

One can understand that a Jewish newspaper which appears in Germany may not be in a position fully to support the demands of World Jewry with regard to the full restoration of Jewish rights. This, however, doesn't justify any official organ to come out and practically agree to the anti-Jewish limitations which exist in Germany. This last is exactly what the Judische Rundschau has done. [113]

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.

-- Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner

[Arnon] Grandfather was a Zionist.
On the other hand, he was a German patriot
who was decorated for his service in World War I.
When he returned from Palestine, he found a letter on his desk.
The Nazis had fired him, like all Jewish judges.
And yet, he and Grandmother
still felt that Germany was their home
and even brought a new baby into the world:
Hannahle, my mother.

[Sister Orit] [Reading a card] “Happy birthday, Grandma.”

[Woman] [Reading a card] “The chancellor
of the Federal Republic of Germany
and Mrs. Helmut Kohl
request the honor of the company of Mrs. Gerda Tucher” –

[Mother Hannahle] Do you know how many people got these?
Do you?
I threw them all away.
Arnon, do you want any of these letters?

[Arnon] Sure. It’s our entire family history.

[Mother Hannahle] Anyone in their right mind would throw them out.
“Flowers Galore.” Need this?

[Arnon] Yes.

[Mother Hannahle] I threw out a bunch.
Letters from people you don’t even know.

[Arnon] The people I don’t know are the most interesting.

[Mother Hannahle] I threw out a whole bunch.

[Brother Yair] [Pulls out a dead fox] I can’t believe it!

[Woman] There’s another one!

[Brother Yair] What is it?
What’s this thing?

[Woman] See the snakeskin?

[Brother Yair] Seen this?

[Woman] It’s processed.

[Brother Yair] But this isn’t.
Did people really wear these?

[Woman] I grabbed it by the leg.
Yuck! [Pulls out another dead fox]
Orit, come here!

[Brother Yair] You must see this.

[Sister Orit] [Laughs]
Did they wear it like this?

[Brother Yair] Maybe they wore it alive and it died later.
Grandma wore this?

[Mother Hannahle] Sure.

[Everyone laughs]

[Lights out]


[Arnon] One night in the flat, I found a magazine.
Clearly, it wasn’t Grandmother’s regular reading material.
Reading through it,
I landed on a pair of SS boots.
It was an article about the Nazi who traveled to Palestine.
Von Mildenstein, it seems, was not just a journalist
but an SS officer
who investigated the Jewish question.
Suddenly, an unexpected name popped up:
Grandmother Gerda.
The magazine folded long ago,
but I was able to track down Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren,|
the writers of the article.


[Arnon] [To Yehuda Koren] I found this at my grandma’s.
Do you remember it?

[Yehuda Koren] When was it published?

[Arnon] Do you remember writing it?

[Yehuda Koren] We remember some things …
I remember visiting your grandmother.
She received us by etiquette:
with coffee, tea, plates loaded with cookies …
but the atmosphere was charged.
After all, she and her husband toured Israel with a Nazi.
I was amazed she had consented to meet us at all.
People don’t usually like to talk about such things.
I asked for photos, and she brought some,
the size of stamps.
I took them and, for some reason,
never returned them.
I just kept them.

[Arnon] Still got them?

[Yehuda Koren] Yes.

[Eilat Negev] We kept them all these years.
We knew they were historic, so we kept them just in case.
And here they are.
These are enlargements.

[Arnon] Wow.

[Yehuda Koren] This one is from Venice, where they apparently stopped.
That’s what I think. Unless this isn’t your grandma.

[Arnon] That’s her. But who is that?

[Yehuda Koren] That’s von Mildenstein’s wife.

[Arnon] Who gave her those photos?

[Yehuda Koren] He did.

[Arnon] Von Mildenstein?

[Yehuda Koren] Yes.
While both couples were still living in Berlin.

[Eilat Negev] Still in its original wrapping.

[Yehuda Koren] Just as he sent it.

[Eilat Negev] They’re tiny. Can’t see anything.
You’d have to enlarge them.

[Arnon] Wow.

[Yehuda Koren] When your grandparents emigrated to Palestine,
the Mildensteins escorted them to the train station.
From Palestine, they sent the Mildensteins
their new address and started corresponding.
I’m certain that until 1939, your grandparents
and the Mildensteins have corresponded regularly.

[Arnon] What happened afterwards?

[Eilat Negev] Right after the war,
von Mildenstein tried to contact your grandpa,
perhaps to clear his name, as many Nazis did.
Your grandmother called them “Persil letters,”
meaning “white-washing letters,”
but your grandpa refused to reply.


[Blinds opening]

[Arnon] I remember seeing an album full of little pictures
like the ones Yehuda and Eilat gave me.
But at the time, it didn’t faze me.
In the album, it looks like two couples from Berlin
going on vacation to the Orient.
With von Mildenstein at the wheel,
they hit the dusty roads of Palestine,
waving to the locals,
photographing Jewish pioneers and holy sites.
But Grandmother and the baroness
preferred ice-cold lemonade.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes,
this is Grandma, but with who?
They look so … coquettish.

[Arnon] Did she tell you about her relations with the Mildensteins?

[Mother Hannahle] I don’t … don’t remember this story.

[Arnon] It’s a very strange story:
Zionists traveling together with a Nazi …
Didn’t you ask her … anything?

[Mother Hannahle] No.
They only mentioned it once, when we discovered the album,
but I never asked.
Had I asked, she might’ve told me,
but I didn’t.

[Arnon] Why?

[Mother Hannahle] I wasn’t interested. I simply wasn’t.

[Arnon] There’s something very interesting
concerning von Mildenstein.
He recruited Eichmann
into the “Department of Jewish Affairs”
of the SS.

[Mother Hannahle] He gave Eichmann …
his job?

[Arnon] Yes.

[Mother Hannahle] Maybe that’s why they never mentioned it.
I guess it made them …
uncomfortable, maybe.
This is the first time I’ve heard about it.

[Arnon] I found the transcription of Eichmann’s interrogation.
Look how many times he mentions Mildenstein.

[Mother Hannahle] [Reading transcript in German]
He’s talking about who was there.

[Arnon] Who?

[Mother Hannahle] Goering, Goebbels, and Mildenstein.
He regarded Mildenstein as his master …
Later he realized that Mildenstein
looked into the future,
that he knew more than all of his superiors put together.

[Arnon] He knew about the Jews more than any of them.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes.

[Arnon] He got his expertise
from his trip to Palestine with Grandpa.

[Mother Hannahle] So it seems.

‘Our Official Good Will Go with Them’

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. [182] There were maps on the walls showing the rapidly increasing strength of Zionism inside Germany. [183] 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.' [184] To commemorate the Baron's expedition, Goebbels had a medal struck: on one side the swastika, on the other the Zionist star. [185]

In May 1935 Reinhardt Heydrich, who was then the chief of the SS Security Service, later the infamous 'Protector' of the Czech lands incorporated into the Reich, wrote an article, 'The Visible Enemy', for Das Schwarze Korps, the official organ of the SS. In it Heydrich assessed the various tendencies among the Jews, comparing the assimilationists quite invidiously with the Zionists. His partiality towards Zionism could not have been expressed in more unmistakable terms:

After the Nazi seizure of power our racial laws did in fact curtail considerably the immediate influence of Jews. But… the question as he sees it is still: How can we win back our old position… We must separate Jewry into two categories… the Zionists and those who favor being assimilated. The Zionists adhere to a strict racial position and by emigrating to Palestine they are helping to build their own Jewish state.

Heydrich wished them a fond farewell: '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.' [186]

'It was a Painful Distinction for Zionism to be Singled out for Favors'

The Nuremberg Laws of September 1935, the finishing touches of Germany's pre-Second World War anti-Jewish legislation, were defended by the Nazis as an expression of their pro-Zionism. They had at least the tacit approval of the wiser heads amongst the Jews themselves. As it happened -- and naturally it was more than mere coincidence -- every nationwide Jewish organ in Germany was under temporary ban when the laws were promulgated -- except the Rundschau. It published the codified restrictions with a commentary by Alfred Berndt, the editor-in-chief of the German News Bureau. Berndt recalled that, only two weeks before, all the speakers at the World Zionist Congress in Lucerne had reiterated that the Jews of the world were to be correctly seen as a separate people unto themselves regardless of where they lived. Well then, he explained, all Hitler had done was to meet 'the demands of the International Zionist Congress by making the Jews who live in Germany a national minority'. [187]

One aspect of the 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. [188]

The Nazis were as thorough in their philo-Zionism as in other matters. Now that the Jews were established as a separate people with a separate soil, should they not also have a separate language? In 1936 they added a new 'nach Palastina' ingredient to their repressive measures. Jewish Frontier had to inform its readers distressfully that:

The attempts to seclude the Jews in the cultural ghetto have reached a new height by the prohibition to rabbis to use the German language in their Chanukah [6 December] sermons. This is in line with the effort made by the Nazis to force the German Jews to use the Hebrew language as their cultural medium. Thus another 'proof' of Nazi-Zionist cooperation is seized eagerly by the Communist opponents of Zionism. [189]

Nazi leniency towards Zionism

In spring 1934, Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuhrer of the SS, was presented with a 'Situation Report -- Jewish Question' by his staff: the vast majority of Jews still considered themselves Germans and were determined to stay on. Since force could not be used, for fear of potential international repercussions, the way to break down their resistance was to instil a distinctive Jewish identity amongst them by systematically promoting Jewish schools, athletic teams, Hebrew, Jewish art and music, etc. Combined with Zionist occupational retraining centres, this would finally induce the recalcitrant Jews to abandon their homeland. However, this subtle formula was not enough, for whenever pressure against them began to subside the stubborn Jews would start to dig in again. The Nazi policy was therefore to increase support for the Zionists, so that the Jews would plainly see that the way to ward off worse troubles was to join the movement. All Jews, including Zionists, were still to be persecuted as Jews, but within that framework it was always possible to ease the pressure. Accordingly, on 28 January 1935, the Bavarian Gestapo circularised the regular police that henceforward: 'members of the Zionist organisations are, in view of their activities directed towards emigration to Palestine, not to be treated with the same strictness which is necessary towards the members of the German-Jewish organisations [assimilationists]. [190]

The Nazis created complications for themselves with their pro-Zionist line. The WZO needed German-Jewish capital far more than it ever wanted German Jews. It also operated under the immigration quotas set by the British. Its largest following was in Poland, and if it gave out too many certificates to Germans, there would not be enough for its support base in Poland and elsewhere. Therefore the Zionists gave only 22 per cent of the certificates to Germans throughout the 1930s. Furthermore the WZO were not interested in the vast majority of Germany's Jews, since these were not Zionists, did not speak Hebrew, were too old and, of course, did not have the 'right' trades. Either Jewish emigration had to be organised to other countries as well, or Germany would be stuck with the Jews neither it nor the Zionists wanted. Nazi discrimination against anti-Zionists led to problems for those world-based bodies like the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which tried to provide havens for Jews in countries other than Palestine. Yehuda Bauer, one of Israel's most widely known Holocaust scholars, has written of a discussion of the ensuing difficulties between two leading officials of the Joint Distribution Committee:

[Joseph] Hyman thought that a statement should be made by the German Jews that Palestine was not the sole outlet which of course, frankly speaking, it wasn't. [Bernard] Kahn agreed, but explained that the Nazis supported Zionism because it promised the largest emigration of Jews from Germany; hence German Jewish leadership could not make any public statements about other outlets. Still less could they mention the decision to maintain Jewish institutions in Germany. The Nazis had dissolved one meeting in Germany simply because the speaker had said 'we have to provide for the people who go away and for the Jews who must stay in Germany'. [191]

In practice, the Nazis' concern about where the Jews should go disappeared with the Austrian anschluss, which brought so many Jews with it that further attention to their destination would have crippled the expulsion programme. In October 1938 the Nazis discovered that the Poles were about to revoke the citizenship of thousands of their Jewish citizens resident in Germany. They therefore decided to deport the Jews to Poland immediately so that they would not be stuck with thousands of stateless Jews. It was this cold pogrom that led to the massive violence of Kristallnacht in November 1938.

The story was told, many years later, on 25 April 1961, at the trial of Adolf Eichmann. The witness, Zindel Grynszpan, then an old man, was the father of Herszl Grynszpan who, in despair at the deportation of his father back to Poland, had assassinated a German diplomat in Paris and provided the Nazis with the pretext for their terrible night of broken glass. Old Zindel told them of his deportation from his home in Hanover on the night of 27 October 1938: 'Then they took us in police trucks, in prisoners' lorries, about 20 men in each truck, and they took us to the railway station. The streets were full of people shouting: "Juden raus! Auf nach Palastina!" [Google translate: Jews out! On to Palestine!"] [192]

The significance of Zindel's testimony was utterly lost in the welter of detail in the Eichmann trial. But those Jews were not being sent to Palestine, as the Nazi mob cried; the prosecutor in that courtroom in Jerusalem never thought to ask the elderly Grynszpan a question that we would think to ask: 'What did you think, what did the other Jews think, when they heard that strange cry coming up from the savage mob?' Zindel Grynszpan is long dead, as are most if not all the others who suffered there that hellish night; we have no answer to our query. But what really matters was what was shouted, rather than what was thought about it in that police van. However, we can reasonably suggest that if the ZVfD had resisted Nazism's rise, if the WZO had mobilised Jewry against the New Order, if Palestine had been a bastion of Jewish resistance to Nazism, the Nazis would never have told the Jews, and that mob, that the place for a Jew was in Palestine. Perhaps, then, that Friday night in Hanover the cry would have been 'Jews to Poland', even a straight 'kill the Jews'. The sombre fact is that the mob screamed what had been screamed at them by Hitler's minions: 'Jews to Palestine!'

The Nazis asked for a "More Zionist Behaviour"

That the Nazis preferred the Zionists to all other Jews is a settled point. Even though Joachim Prinz may have winced when he wrote his 1937 article, he was only being honest when he sorrowfully had to admit that:

It was very difficult for the Zionists to operate. It was morally disturbing to seem to be considered as the favoured children of the Nazi Government, particularly when it dissolved the anti-Zionist youth groups, and seemed in other ways to prefer the Zionists. The Nazis asked for a 'more Zionist behaviour'. [193]

The Zionist movement was always under severe restriction in the 1930s in Germany. The Rundschau was banned on at least three occasions between 1933 and November 1938, when the regime finally closed down the ZVfD's headquarters after Kristallnacht. After 1935 the Labour Zionist emissaries were barred from the country, but even then Palestinian Zionist leaders were allowed to enter for specific meetings; for instance Arthur Ruppin was granted permission to enter Germany on 20 March 1938 in order to address a mass indoor rally in Berlin on the effects of the 1936 Arab revolt in Palestine. Certainly, the Zionists had far less trouble than their bourgeois assimilationist rivals at the CV, and it was nothing compared with what the Communists had to face in Dachau at the same time the Rundschau was being hawked in the streets of Berlin.

However, the fact that the Zionists became Adolf Hitler’s 'favoured children' hardly qualified him as a Jewish nationalist. Even von Mildenstein, for all his Hebrew records, accepted the party line when it turned to outright murder. Throughout the period, the Nazis toyed with the Zionists as a cat would play with a mouse. Hitler never thought he was letting anyone get away from him because he was encouraging Jews to go to Palestine. If the Jews went to far-away America, he might never be able to get at them and they would always remain the foes of the German Empire in Europe. But if they went to Palestine instead? 'There,' as a Gestapo agent told a Jewish leader, 'we will catch up with you’. [194]

The Zionists could not even claim that they were duped by Hitler; they conned themselves. Hitler's theories on Zionism, including the Jews' alleged inability to create a state, had all been there, in plain German, since 1926. The Zionists ignored the fact that Hitler hated all Jews and that he specifically condemned their own ideology. The Zionists were simply reactionaries, who naively chose to emphasise the points of similarity between themselves and Hitler. They convinced themselves that because they, too, were racists, against mixed marriage, and believed that the Jews were aliens in Germany; because they, too, were opposed to the left, that these similarities would be enough to make Adolf Hitler see them as the only honest partners, for a diplomatic détente. [195]

-- Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner

[Arnon] So it does interest you.

[Mother Hannahle] It’s interesting, but again,
I’m not going to start looking into it.
If I happen upon it, fine.
What good will it do me? Will it …
make me see them in a different light?
I had my own burden of living with them.
I don’t really care what happened
so many years ago.
No, I don’t care.
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Re: The Flat, directed by Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film

Postby admin » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:07 am

Part 2 of 3

[Arnon] I wonder why the past
never made it into Mother’s home.
Here, everything is perfectly new
and perfectly in place.
That’s how she raised us:
What’s important is the here and now.
All she takes from Grandmother’s flat
are pleasant little mementos.
When my grandmother died,
I realized that my family lives only in the present.
So I take home anything
that smells a hundred years old or older.
For the first time in my life, I have a past.
But in that past, I keep finding one name
over and over again.

'The Haganah's Goal—A Jewish Majority in Palestine'

Because Hitler did not believe that the Jews could create a state of their own, it did not follow that he would be pro-Palestinian. They too were Semites. In the 1920s many right-wing German political groups began to express sympathy for the oppressed nations of the British Empire as fellow victims of perfidious Albion. However, Hitler would have none of this; the British, after all, were white.

I as a man of Germanic blood, would, in spite of everything, rather see India under English rule than under any other. Just as lamentable are the hopes in any mythical uprising in Egypt… As a volkish man, who appraises the value of men on a racial basis, I am prevented by mere knowledge of the racial inferiority of these so-called oppressed nations, from linking the destiny of my own people with theirs. [197]

However, the revolt of the Palestinian Arab masses in 1936 made Berlin rethink the implications of their pro-Zionist policies. Intense unrest had been aroused in October 1935 by the discovery of weapons in a cement cargo bound for Tel Aviv, and the situation became feverish in November when Shaykh Izz al-Din al-Qassam, a popular Muslim preacher, took to the hills with a guerrilla band. British troops soon killed him, but his funeral developed into a passionate demonstration. The crisis dragged on for months before it finally exploded on the night of 15 April 1936, when a remnant of Qassam's band stopped traffic on the Tulkarm road, robbing travellers and killing two Jews. Two Arabs were slain in reprisal the next night. The funeral of the Jews turned into a right-wing Zionist demonstration and the crowd started marching on Arab Jaffa. The police opened fire, four Jews were shot and, again, Arabs were attacked on the streets of Tel Aviv in retaliation. A counter-march soon started for Tel Aviv. The revolt was on. A spontaneous general strike developed and the pressure from below forced the rival cliques within the Arab establishment to unite in an Arab Higher Committee under the leadership of the Mufti. However, the Higher Committee feared that the continuation of the rising would put the peasantry permanently beyond its leaders' control, and finally prevailed upon the strike committees to call off the protest on 12 October, pending the outcome of a British Royal Commission's investigation.

Until the Arab revolt, the Nazis’ patronage of Zionism had been warm but scarcely committed, as we have seen. However, with the political turmoil in Palestine and the appointment of the Peel Commission, the WZO saw their chance to persuade the Nazis to make a public commitment to them in Palestine itself. On 8 December 1936 a joint delegation of the Jewish Agency, the highest body of the WZO in Palestine, and the Hitachdut Olei Germania (the German Immigrants Association), went to the Jerusalem office of Doehle, the German Consul-General. The Zionist scholar, David Yisraeli, has related the incident.

They sought through Doehle to persuade the Nazi government to have its Jerusalem representative appear before the Peel Commission, and declare that Germany was interested in an increased immigration to Palestine because of its eagerness to have the Jews emigrate from Germany. The Consul, however, rejected the proposal on the spot. His official reasons were that considerations of increased immigration from Germany would inevitably bring out the matter of the transfer which was detrimental to British exports to Palestine. [198]

Characteristically, the Zionists were more eager to extend their relationship than the Nazis, but Doehle's rejection of their request did not stop them from further approaches. The outcome of the Peel Commission's expedition was thought crucial to the Zionist endeavour and it was therefore the Haganah, then the military arm of the Jewish Agency (de facto the Labour Zionist militia), that obtained Berlin's permission to negotiate directly with the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Security Service of the SS. A Haganah agent, Feivel Polkes, arrived in Berlin on 26 February 1937 and was assigned Adolf Eichmann as his negotiating partner. Eichmann had been a protege of the pro-Zionist von Mildenstein and, like his mentor, had studied Hebrew, read Herzl and was the SD's specialist on Zionism. The Eichmann-Polkes conversations were recorded in a report prepared by Eichmann's superior, Franz-Albert Six, which was found in the SS files captured by the American Army at the end of the Second World War:

Polkes is a national-Zionist… He is against all Jews who are opposed to the erection of a Jewish state in Palestine. As a Haganah man he fights against Communism and all aims of Arab-British friendship… He noted that the Haganah's goal is to reach, as soon as possible, a Jewish majority in Palestine. Therefore he worked, as this objective required, with or against the British Intelligence Service, the Surete Generale, with England and Italy… He declared himself willing to work for Germany in the form of providing intelligence as long as this does not oppose his own political goals. Among other things he would support German foreign policy in the Near East. He would try to find oil sources for the German Reich without affecting British spheres of interest if the German monetary regulations were eased for Jewish emigrants to Palestine. [199]

Six definitely thought that a working alliance with the Haganah would be in the Nazis' interest. They still needed the latest inside information on the various Jewish boycott groups and on Jewish plots against the lives of prominent Nazis. He was eager to allow the SS to help the Zionists in return.

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 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. [200]

Six's enthusiasm was not shared at the German Foreign Ministry, which saw Palestine as a British sphere. Berlin's prime interest was in an understanding with London on the crucial question of the Balkans; nothing must interfere with that. The officials were also concerned about how Italy would react to German intervention in Mediterranean politics. Therefore, on 1 June 1937 the Foreign Minister, Konstantine von Neurath, sent cables to his diplomats in London, Jerusalem and Baghdad: neither a Zionist state nor a Zionist political structure under British rule would be in Germany's interest, as it 'would not absorb world Jewry but would create an additional position of power under international law for international Jewry, somewhat like the Vatican State for political Catholicism or Moscow for the Comintern'. Germany therefore had 'an interest in strengthening the Arab world', but 'it is not to be expected, of course, that direct German intervention would influence essentially the development of the Palestine question'. Under no circumstances were the Palestinians to get more than token support: 'understanding for Arab nationalist aspirations should be expressed more clearly than before, but without making any definite promises'. [201]

-- Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner

[Radio Announcer] The Jews have captured Eichmann
One of the worst monsters of all time.

[Radio Announcer] The menace will be held
in a bulletproof glass cell
to prevent assassination attempts.
The trial will be filmed by a foreign TV.

[Reporter] Adolf Eichmann
has been undergoing a relentless cross-examination for days.
When Attorney General Mr. Hausner had asked
who was responsible for the expulsion of the Jews
from public life in Germany between the years 1933-39,
the following dialogue ensued.

[Attorney General Mr. Hausner] In this emigration,
the Jews lost their property
because they couldn’t take it with them, correct?

[Adolf Eichmann] That’s correct, but not my fault.

[Attorney General Mr. Hausner] Was Heydrich for the emigration of Jews?

[Adolf Eichmann] Yes, but he wasn’t the initiator.

[Attorney General Mr. Hausner] Were you the initiator?

[Adolf Eichmann] Yes, I was one of the initiators.

[Attorney General Mr. Hausner] Who else?

[Adolf Eichmann] The father of the idea, in those days, was …
the SS officer von Mildenstein.

[Reporter] In today’s Germany,
Mr. von Mildenstein
represents an important American beverage company.
But that’s only incidental.

'He Agreed to Help Keep the Jews from Resisting Deportation'

The destruction of Hungarian Jewry took place at a time when the Nazi structure was showing all the signs of collapse. Canaris's Abwehr Intelligence had concluded that the war was lost; it therefore started making its own contacts with Western Intelligence, and had to be taken over by the SD. Count Klaus von Stauffenberg's bomb on 20 July 1944 came in the middle of the Hungarian crisis and almost destroyed the Nazi edifice. The Germans had invaded the country because they knew that Admiral Miklos Horthy was planning to pull Hungary out of the war. The neutrals, under the prodding of the War Refugee Board, protested against the new murders, and some made efforts to extend diplomatic protection to some of the Jews. From the beginning Eichmann, who had responsibility for the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, was concerned that Jewish resistance or attempts at escape over the border to Romania, which by then was unwilling to hand over Jews to the Nazis, would trigger off political shock waves that could slow down his operation.

When Eichmann first went to work for von Mildenstein, the fervent philo-Zionist gave him Herzl's Judenstaat. He liked it. He was also fond of Adolf Bohm's Die Zionistische Bewegung (The Zionist Movement) and once, in Vienna, he recited an entire page of it by heart during a meeting with some Jewish leaders, including the mortified Bohm. He had even studied Hebrew for two and a half years, although, he conceded, he never really spoke it well. He had had many dealings with the Zionists before the Second World War. In 1937 he had negotiated with the Haganah's representative, Feivel Polkes, and had been their guest in Palestine. He had also had close contacts with the Czech Zionists. Now, again, he would negotiate with the local Zionists.

In 1953 the Ben-Gurion government prosecuted an elderly pamphleteer, Malchiel Gruenwald, for having libelled Rezso Kasztner as a collaborator for his dealings with Eichmann in 1944. The trial had considerable international coverage throughout 1954. Eichmann must have followed it in the press, for he described his relationship with Kasztner at length in taped interviews he gave to a Dutch Nazi journalist, Willem Sassen, in 1955, parts of which were later published in two articles in Life magazine after his capture in 1960. Gruenwald had denounced Kasztner for having kept silent about the German lies that the Hungarian Jews were only being resettled at Kenyermezo. In return, he was allowed to organise the special convoy, which ultimately became a train to Switzerland, and place his family and friends on it. Further, Gruenwald claimed, Kasztner later protected SS Colonel Becher from being hung as a war criminal by claiming that he had done everything possible to save Jewish lives. Eichmann described Kasztner as follows:

This Dr Kastner [many sources Anglicise Kasztner's name] was a young man about my age, an ice-cold lawyer and a fanatical Zionist. He agreed to help keep the Jews from resisting deportation -- and even keep order in the collection camps -- if I would close my eyes and let a few hundred or a few thousand young Jews emigrate illegally to Palestine. It was a good bargain. For keeping order in the camps, the price of 15,000 or 20,000 Jews -- in the end there may have been more -- was not too high for me. Except perhaps for the first few sessions, Kastner never came to me fearful of the Gestapo strong man. We negotiated entirely as equals. People forget that. We were political opponents trying to arrive at a settlement, and we trusted each other perfectly. When he was with me, Kastner smoked cigarettes as though he were in a coffeehouse. While we talked he would smoke one aromatic cigarette after another, taking them from a silver case and lighting them with a little silver lighter. With his great polish and reserve he would have made an ideal Gestapo officer himself.

Dr Kastner’s main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Israel…

As a matter of fact, there was a very strong similarity between our attitudes in the SS and the viewpoint of these immensely idealistic Zionist leaders who were fighting what might be their last battle. As I told Kastner: 'We, too, are idealists and we, too, had to sacrifice our own blood before we came to power.'

I believe that Kastner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal. He was not interested in old Jews or those who had become assimilated into Hungarian society. But he was incredibly persistent in trying to save biologically valuable Jewish blood -- that is, human material that was capable of reproduction and hard work. 'You can have the others' he would say, 'but let me have this group here.’ And because Kastner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let his groups escape. After all, I was not concerned with small groups of a thousand or so Jews. [582]

Andre Biss, Joel Brand's cousin, who worked with Kasztner in Budapest, and who supported his policy, nevertheless corroborated Eichmann's statement in part in his book, A Million Jews to Save, when he described who boarded the famous train which reached Switzerland on 6 December 1944:

Then came the most numerous group, Kasztner’s pride -- the Zionist youth. These were composed of the members of various organisations of agricultural pioneers, of extreme right-wing 'revisionists’ who already possessed immigration certificates, and a number of orphans… Lastly came those who had been able to pay cash for their journey, for we had to collect the sum the Germans demanded. But of the 1684 in the train 300 at the most were of this category…

Kasztner's mother, his brothers, sisters and other members of his family from Klausenburg [Kluj] were passengers… Members of the families of those who had fought for the formation of this convoy formed at the most a group of 40 to 50 persons… In the confusion that ensued about 380 persons managed to clamber into the train which left Budapest, not with 1300 passengers as expected, but crammed full with more than 1700 travellers. [583]

The Israeli Labour Party got more than it bargained for when it set out to defend Kasztner. Shmuel Tamir, a former Irgunist, a brilliant cross-examiner, appeared for Gruenwald. Later, in 1961, Ben Hecht wrote his book, Perfidy, a remarkable expose of the Kasztner scandal, and he presented many pages of Tamir's masterly demolition of Kasztner’s defence....

Kasztner was also involved in the affair of Hannah Szenes which was described at the trial. Szenes was a brave young Zionist from Hungary, whom the British finally allowed, together with 31 others, to parachute into occupied Europe to organise Jewish rescue and resistance. She landed in Yugoslavia on 18 March, one day before the German invasion of Hungary; she smuggled herself back into Hungary in June and was promptly caught by Horthy's police. Peretz Goldstein and Joel Nussbecher-Palgi followed her in and they contacted Kasztner, who conned them both into giving themselves up to the Germans and Hungarians for the sake of the train. Both were sent to Auschwitz, although Nussbecher-Palgi managed to saw through some bars on his train and escape. [587] Szenes was shot by a Hungarian firing squad. Kasztner's admission in court that he had failed to notify the Swiss, who represented Britain's interests in Budapest, of the Hungarians' capture of a British officer and spy -- 'I think I had my reasons' -- outraged the Israeli public, many of whom had read her poetry and knew of her bravery in the Hungarian prisons. [588]

-- Zionism in the Age of the Dictators: A Reappraisal, by Lenni Brenner

[Blinds opening]

[Arnon] Von Mildenstein’s idea
as the head of the Department of Jewish Affairs,
was to get the Jews to leave their homeland
of their own volition.
This was realized just partly by my grandparents.
Indeed, they packed up and left Berlin.
But after the war, they kept on packing
and returned to Germany year after year.

[Throws down many, many stored suitcases]

[Jaunty music]

[Mother Hannahle] Look at what she kept.
What is this?
[Crumples it up]
“Gerda Tuchler.”
Letters from 1935.
I’m not going to read them. Sorry.
Letters from all their friends. All dead now.
[Crumples up another paper]
“Dr. and Mrs. Kurt Tuchler.”
“Gerda von Mildenstein.”

[Arnon] Could be his wife.

[Mother Hannahle] I guess so. Unbelievable.

[Arnon] From when?

[Mother Hannahle] There’s no date.
And no letter inside.

[Phone beeping]

[Line beeping]

[Line ringing]

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Hallo?

[Arnon] Is it possible to speak in English?
Is it possible?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I can indeed, yes, no problem.

[Arnon] Ah.
I’m calling from Tel Aviv, from Israel.
My name is Arnon Goldfinger.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yes?

[Arnon] And I’m the grandson of Kurt and Gerda Tuchler.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] You aren’t.

[Arnon] Yeah, I am.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Really?

[Arnon] Yeah!

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Right! Carry on.

[Arnon] Do you know them?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Well, I knew Mr. Tuchler; I knew Gerda Tuchler,
because they were friends with my parents.

[Arnon] Yes, that’s it.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Right!

[Arnon] Yeah, wow, it’s a surprise, because …

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I’m very surprised.

[Arnon] Yeah … You know what happened?
My grandma, Gerda, passed away not long ago …

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Oh.

[Arnon] Yeah, she was 98.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Well … [sighs]

[Arnon] Yeah, yeah.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Fantastic age, absolutely wonderful.

[Arnon] Yeah.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I hope she had a good life too.

[Arnon] Yeah.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] She was very, very bouncy when she was here
and so proudly telling of her grandchildren and …

[Arnon] Yeah, I didn’t know.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] She gave me a very, very sweet necklace
with a turquoise stone.
I still have that and cherish that
very, very much.
Well, I mean, in a way,
yes, there were contacts, definitely.

[Arnon] You know, frankly, I’m surprised,
you know, that you answered and that you know them,
and, you know, I’m very surprised,
so I even didn’t know, you know …
You know, I have a bunch of questions
that I don’t even know what to do.
I need to think about it and maybe call you again.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Listen, let’s not push it, because I mean,
you have to really sort of work through what you find
and make sense out of that somehow.

[Arnon] Sure, sure, sure.


[Arnon] In a sleepy suburb in a city I never heard of
lives the Nazi baron’s daughter.
One day, her phone rings,
and a man with a strange accent is on the line.
She knows who he is immediately.
It’s the grandson of her parents’ good friends,
Kurt and Gerda Tuchler.
She’s flooded by memories,
as if they visited only yesterday.
But today, the grandson visits instead.

[Birds chirping]

[Buzzer rings softly] [Edda Milz v.Mildenstein & Harald P. Milz]

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Hello!

[Arnon] Hi.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Take your coat off?
We should have a glass of champagne, really.

[Arnon] You know, what really surprised me on the phone
when we were speaking that …
I mean, about Gerda and Kurt and your parents --
were they really friends?
I mean, uh … after the war?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I think they were
well before the war,
they were obviously very, very close, good friends,
and they discussed a lot.
I knew them from the talks.
At a very early age, I knew the names,
and I really got to meet them the first times
when they came into this house,
and that was well after the war.
And, yeah, they were having good times together,
talking again from the past,
meaning half an hour after I was in, I was sent out.
It wasn’t my subject to be.
And no, they were really
sort of obviously close enough to do this friendship,
and they seemed to be sending letters
at a regular basis, both sides.
[Reading] “Dear von Mildenstein …”
That I can read.
Can’t read that.
“Many thanks for …
“the books …
“beautiful photos and letters …
I’ll send you more soon …”

[Arnon] That’s from here?
From Wuppertal?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] No, that is from Tel Aviv …
Gordon Street.

[Arnon] Well, you told me on the phone
that you received from Gerda …

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah?

[Arnon] A necklace.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I’ve now got more stuff to work through
than I thought was worth living for.
I’m sure I haven’t put it over there somewhere.
Yes, it wasn’t hiding away anywhere.
I found it.

[Arnon] When did she give it to you?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] They brought that, I think,
to my mind, the first time they came.

[Arnon] Hmmm.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] And of course, when I saw that picture,
playing detective work,
I couldn’t possibly imagine, when that one came,
who might’ve been the girl at the back.
Now, that, to my mind, could’ve been your mother.
Don’t you dare to say no.
Because all the others are boys.

[Arnon] Yeah.
But this is actually already Gerda’s grandchild.
This is my older brother.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Okay.

[Arnon] This young one.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] One identified.

[Arnon] Yeah.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] And that’s quite obviously a boy.

[Arnon] And that’s a cousin of mine.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] That one?

[Arnon] Another cousin of mine.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Okay.

[Arnon] So that must be a picture before I was born.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Oh.

[Arnon] Yeah.
So how come you got this picture?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I suppose that Gerda Tuchler sent it to my mother,
Or they had it with them when they came here,
and they left it with her.
I think you’ll just have to go very
sort of, like, hands up and accept the fact
that they were two lots of people,
obviously got on very well.

[Arnon] You know, I’m curious to understand them,
because for me, it was a real surprise that they --
I mean, that my grandparents
kept in contact after the war with, you know,
some Germans at all.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah, funny. They did.

[Birds chirping]

[Arnon] I try to imagine my grandparents coming here
with flowers and suitcases full of gifts.
I still can’t believe that they renewed their friendship
with the von Mildensteins
as if nothing had ever happened.

[Harald P. Milz] [Playing accordion]

[Arnon] How was the first time you were,
you know, coming to her house, meeting her parents?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] He survived it.

[Harald P. Milz] Uh, ja … [sighs]
Well, that’s quite a story, and …
They didn’t want me, really, no, as a son-in-law.
It can’t have been my job,
because I had quite a good managerial position
in that company.
I think they would have preferred a diplomat,
you know, or whatever.
This is my impression, because they --
they very much moved in diplomatic circles
that, uh – my parents-in-law --
and that must’ve been the reason.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] That is the family tree, as you could call it,
and it goes, really, as I say,
from the year 300-and-something …
Was I right? Yes, I was right.
372 …
down to poor little me down at the bottom.
I’m the bottom one.

[Harald P. Milz] Edda Milz Itz, Edler von Mildenstein.

[Arnon] What is the meaning of the “von”?
Baron or some kind of …

[Harald P. Milz] No, that’s old German gentry.
And, yeah, that may also have been a reason
not wanted to accept me as a normal blue-blooded --
uh, red-blooded; not blue-blooded --
person, you know.
I don’t know whether you know this difference.
In Germany we say, “Oh, he is blue-blooded,”
so he is gentry, or she is.
Did you not --
Sorry, did you not notice
that I always go one step behind my wife?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] [Blows a raspberry]

[Harald P. Milz] It’s like Prince Philip behind the queen, you know,
because she is blue-blooded, and I am not.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] He said that’s why I walk around –

[Harald P. Milz] Yeah, yeah.

[Arnon] After Edda and Harald got married,
they moved to the United Kingdom,
far away from their parents.
30 years later, they returned to Germany,
to the house where Edda was raised.
Here Edda found letters and photos
and a mess she couldn’t put in order.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Letters, letters, letters.

[Arnon] Like me, she didn’t have the courage
to throw away her inheritance,
so she stuck it in the basement.
I didn’t know how to ask her
what her father did during the war.
Instead, I requested a picture of him from that period.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Look, this is a miracle that we found it.
Maybe you want the light on.

[Arnon] What is it?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] That is the Daily Mail
of December the 10th, 1956.
The Nazis behind the Egyptian propaganda war: Goebbels men help Nasser.
“Four Goebbels-trained Nazis
“are the brains behind the torrent of lies, abuse
“and powers endlessly
“Nasser’s Voice of the Arabs radio station.”
“Baron Mildenstein,
formerly chief of the Near East Bureau
of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry …”
[Dr. Werner Wietschekle, said to be a meticulously perfect Arabis.
Johann von Leers, Orientalist and historian, of Jena and Brelau universities, who sent some …]

[Arnon] Was he working with Goebbels?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Sorry?

[Arnon] Was your father working with Goebbels?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] We got …
According to this gentleman, yes,
but there’s absolutely no proof, no nothing.
He never did work with Goebbels.

[Arnon] Did he sue them?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yes, a solicitor put up the claim
to sue them for libel actions, and that, after --
I don’t know – it may have taken two months
or whatever the legal cases do in these countries --
and they, of course, had to pay damages.
Then they had big headlines – the other press, not the Mail.
They had nothing in it --
the Telegraph and the Times,
and they had that the first German journalist
who actually fought in British courts
and won the libel actions against them.

[Arnon] Here.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Do I have to read the whole thing?

[Arnon] Please.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Can I copy it for you?
“There was no truth in the article.
“So far as the plaintiff was concerned,
“he was not a Nazi.
“The defendant now recognizes the allegations
“had been unjustified
“and that they agreed to compensate the plaintiff
“and to pay his costs of proceeding.”
Is that enough? I should think so.
I suppose that’s what always happens with the press
when they get a little bit overexcited
in the wrong direction.

Leopold von Mildenstein

Before the Israeli capture of Eichmann, Leopold Eduard Stephen von Mildenstein was more a West German embarrassment than an American one. After leaving the Jewish Affairs Department in 1937, he joined Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry, where he spent the war designing virulent anti-Allied and anti-Semitic tracts primarily for use among Arabs in the Middle East. [21] After the war, he parlayed his experience with Goebbels into an attractive resume for jobs in marketing. Coca Cola's West German unit hired him as its press secretary. Mildenstein spoke excellent English, having lived in New York City between November 1923 and April 1925, just after completing his university studies in Germany. He also maintained superb contacts among the German political elite. Despite his Nazi past, Mildenstein was a respected member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the libertarian political party that was popular among the country's business class. In May 1956, he was elected deputy chairman of the press committee of the FDP. [22]

Mildenstein wanted to establish a relationship with the U.S. government, probably with the CIA itself. He had visited the United States in July 1954. At the request of an unidentified "foreign government"-probably the West German government-Mildenstein was granted a U.S. visa despite his known wartime affiliation with the SS. In January 1956, Mildenstein himself approached the political officer at the U.S. embassy in Bonn for help in securing a U.S.-sponsored exchange grant for journalists. Although told by the State Department that "his Nazi background" plus the fact that he "was not an active journalist" made him ineligible for the grant, Mildenstein continued to visit the U.S. Embassy. [23] Finally, in May 1956, following his election to the FDP's press committee, he told a U.S. foreign service officer that he had "useful and valuable info[rmation] ... which he [was] willing to exchange for unspecified consideration." [24]

Mildenstein's interest in serving as a U.S. agent reached the CIA, and the station in Frankfurt opted to consider him as a potential "operational contact." Frankfurt requested traces-a search for any relevant information-on Mildenstein from other CIA field stations and the headquarters in Washington. The local CIA officers already understood the nature of the man they were considering. Mildenstein was an "unsavory type," they cabled Washington, "and probably has [a] continuing relationship with [a foreign government]." Nevertheless, a certain foreign government official who provided this information believed that Mildenstein was the type of man "with whom [a] coldly calculated business relationship" could be maintained "without undue operational effort." [25]

There was little activity following this request. The CIA station in Stuttgart advised Frankfurt that Mildenstein had been a prewar propaganda agent for Goebbels in the Middle East, where he also wrote articles for the Nazi press. It also noted some evidence that he had been in the SS and "possibly [the] SD," but there were no specifics. The trace request drew no other CIA comment on his SS past, let alone any reference to the Jewish Affairs Department. Headquarters, it seems, had nothing to add. In any case, the CIA station in Frankfurt decided not to pursue the case any further.

Mildenstein next turned up in Egypt working for the government of Gamal Abdul Nasser. In December 1956, the Turkish press reported that he had been hired by Egypt's powerful "Voice of Arabs" radio station along with other former associates from Goebbels' organization. [26] Mildenstein's experience in inciting the Arabs against Jews in the Second World War was highly prized in Egypt. This was confirmed by a CIA report from Cairo, which listed him among a group of influential former Nazis who were shaping the actions of the Nasser government. [27]

It seems unlikely, given the released information, that the CIA recruited Mildenstein in Egypt or anywhere else following its brief dalliance with him in the summer of 1956. It was therefore with some surprise that the CIA learned in June 1960 that Mildenstein was seeking immunity as a U.S. intelligence agent. CIA Frankfurt, whose personnel had changed since the last time that Mildenstein had been of any interest, cabled Washington to find out whether he should be protected. "No indication [of] Kubark [CIA] interest since [redacted] 15 June 1956," Washington replied, and "unless further information is available [in the] field[,] no current HQS interest exists." [28] There remains the possibility that another U.S. intelligence service did have some contact with Mildenstein. If this happened-and Mildenstein was not simply blowing smoke in June 1960 to save his hide-then it was probably in Egypt, where the U.S. military attache in Cairo was in contact with some of the former SS officers who were serving the Egyptian government. [29]

The CIA had reason to be concerned that Mildenstein claimed an operational relationship to weather the storm that followed the capture of Eichmann, but it had no reason to be surprised. CIA headquarters knew very well that the Agency had hired Nazis even more odious than Mildenstein.

-- U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis, by Richard Breitman, Norman J.W. Goda, Timothy Naftali and Robert Wolfe


[Arnon] I don’t know what to make of Edda.
She received me with the warmth and openness
of a person who has nothing to hide.
Yet, she presented her father as having no Nazi past.
She even has the press clippings to prove it.
And then she told me another thing,
and I couldn’t believe my ears.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I know that there was one problem
that Kurt Tuchler’s mother, who lived …
on the northeast side of Berlin?
I don’t know anything about her,
other than she was already then a very old lady
and that the Tuchler couple tried very hard
to convince her to leave Germany.
And she was like –

[Arnon] You mean the mother of Gerda?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] The mother of Kurt.

[Arnon] Of Kurt?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah.

[Arnon] About what time are you talking about?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I can’t put a date to that.
I only know that there was a problem in the family,
in amongst the Tuchlers, saying that mother --
now whosever it was, whether hers or his,
but I should have mentioned that it was his mother --
refused to leave her house, her place, her everything.
“Well, if you would come with us,”
in brackets was said to her,
“Then you could take all your possessions with you, now.”
And she said, “No.
We’ve always lived here.”
And then history went that --
I think they even mentioned it when they were here again --
that, of course, she was then taken to Theresienstadt
and was killed there.


[Arnon] How do the von Mildensteins know things about my family
that no one ever told me?

[Removal Man 1] Is this picture for sale?

[Removal Man 2] There’s also a picture of the grandmother.
There are two portraits.

[Removal Man 1] Ask her if she’d sell it.

[Mother Hannahle] What’s next?

[Removal Man 2] Would you sell these portraits?

[Mother Hannahle] No.

[Removal Man 1] Not at any price?

[Arnon] When I return to Israel
I find that strangers have invaded the flat.
My mother called in professionals
who promised fast removal for a fair price.

[Removal Man 3] I can offer you …
for everything … 200 or 210 dollars.

[Removal Man 1] I can sell these for 500 shekels …
I’ll give you half.

[Mother Hannahle] Really …?
That’s ridiculous.

[Removal Man 4] To be honest, for everything in here,
I can offer you … 1,000 Shekels, tops.
It’s a good offer.

[Mother Hannahle] [Laughs]

[Arnon] I had no idea that my grandparents
were carrying in their hearts such a loss.
I realize that the woman Edda told me about
must have been my grandmother’s mother,
Susanne Lehmann.
I go to Tamar, a second cousin
who enjoyed visiting Grandmother Gerda
and writing everything down.

[Cousin Tamar] I went to see her
mostly because I missed my grandmother …
and I wanted to hear German.
So I’d visit her.
Be warned, Gerda didn’t like to talk,
so I used to take notes on little scraps of paper.
This is about her mother. It was hard to talk about that.
She said her mother came to this country in 1937
as a tourist.
When I asked her why didn’t she stay,
she said she had to put some things in order.
She was worried about her job in Germany.
Also, she didn’t want to become a nuisance.
Gerda boarded the ship with her and cried, “Mother, don’t go!”
But her mother insisted and left.
This is all I have about her mother.
I don’t know the rest, and didn’t dare ask.

[Arnon] Why?

[Cousin Tamar] Painful issues …
I just let her tell what she wanted.
As you know, one could feel it when she didn’t want to talk.

[Arnon] What about her mother’s death? Did she say it was natural?

[Cousin Tamar] She was very sad, but I don’t remember more.
When we spoke,
I didn’t think of her mother as a Holocaust victim.
She said, “My mother died.” She didn’t say, “She perished.”
She didn’t use those terms.

[Arnon] She didn’t say anything about …

[Cousin Tamar] How she died?

[Arnon] The drama that followed
Susanne’s return to Germany unfolds letter after letter.
My grandmother and her mother corresponded continuously,
up to the moment Susanne was forced to leave her home
and was deported to the ghetto.
“My dear children,
“I received your letter, and as always,
“I’m happy to hear from you.
“Day by day, my solitude worsens.
“There is not much left to do.
“But I refuse to lose hope that one day,
we shall see each other again.”


[Mother Hannahle] Looking back,
I realize they simply repressed it.
Why else didn’t they talk about it when we’re growing up?
She had just repressed it.
I guess she felt uncomfortable about the whole thing.

[Arnon] But why didn’t you ask about your grandmother?

[Mother Hannahle] I don’t know. I really don’t.
I didn’t know who to ask about it.
They’ve never mentioned it.
[Looking at photo album]
Look, here are all the cousins …

[Arnon] Don’t you want to talk about her?

[Mother Hannahle] I have no feelings for her. I’ve never met her.
Grandpa’s parents died of old age,
nothing to do with the Holocaust.
My other grandfather too.
About Grandma, they said she didn’t want to stay here,
and they didn’t know what’s become of her.

[Arnon] They told you that?

[Mother Hannahle] Yes.
To this day, I don’t know where she died or how,
whether she was murdered or …

[Arnon] I want to show you …
This is from a book
listing the names of all the German Jews
killed in the Holocaust.

[Mother Hannahle] “Lehmann, Susanne …”
[geb. Majmon
* 15.03.1879 in Berlin
wohnhaft Berlin
Deportation: ab Berlin
13.01.1942, Riga]
She moved to Riga.

[Arnon] It means that in …

[Mother Hannahle] January 1942 …

[Arnon] She was deported to Riga.

[Mother Hannahle] Where did you find this?

[Arnon] At Yad Va’Shem.

[Mother Hannahle] Did Grandma know this?

[Arnon] I wasn’t aware of that. Do you think she knew?

[Mother Hannahle] I don’t know.

[Arnon] I found letters from her …

[Mother Hannahle] [Reading letter] “My loved ones,
“I’m well, but it is very cold here.
“I’ll be in the shop starting December 1st …”
No. “Come December 1st, I won’t be in the shop anymore.”
Here she writes,
“I hope sweet little Hannah
remembers her grandma.”
And that she hoped she’d get to see us again.
I’m not at all sure it was from her.
It’s not from her.
I don’t know …
There was another Hannah in the family.
Maybe … No. I don’t think it was from her.
Here she writes …
That I shouldn’t forget her and that I shouldn’t
grow up too fast so that my clothes would still fit me.

[Arnon] It had to be from her. It was in the batch.

[Mother Hannahle] Well, maybe.
My beloved Hannah …”
She asks me
to keep on praying for my grandma,
because …
God will help us.
I shouldn’t stop praying, so that God will help us.

[Arnon] Did you pray for her?

[Mother Hannahle] No. No.
Here, “I’m thinking of you,
“Stay well …
“I wish you all well, you and your dear children.
“Love …”
Ah. Susi. Yes, that’s her.
It’s her. Interesting.

[Arnon] In my mother’s photo album,
I find evidence
of Susanne Lehmann’s visit to Tel Aviv.
Three generations of women in one photograph,
unaware that this is the last picture
they will ever take together.
I scheduled a visit with Frau Gertrud Kino,
my grandmother’s last living friend.


[Frau Gertrud Kino] It’s open!

[Arnon] Gertrude?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] Yes.
My make-up isn’t right.
You always bring me flowers. There’s no need.

[Arnon] Grandma taught me never to come empty-handed.

[Frau Gertrud Kino] She was right!
Gerda was a nice person, kind and pleasant.

[Arnon] And him?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] He was …
This is somewhere abroad.
They always used to go to Germany or to Vienna.
Places I never went to.

[Arnon] You never went to Germany?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] What for?
That was a topic Gerda and I never discussed.

[Arnon] Why not?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] Because I couldn’t forgive, and I wasn’t …
“German to the core,” as they used to say.
I was an Israeli. Luckily. I’ve made my homeland here.

[Arnon] What about Grandma?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] Not really. Neither did Kurt.
Look how lovely she’s always looked.

[Arnon] What did she tell you about her mother?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] She just said that they took her away …
and murdered her.
In a Latvian Ghetto …
They took the Jews from Berlin fairly late.
In 1942, I think.
And they “disappeared,” meaning they were murdered.

[Arnon] We, including my mother – she didn’t know
that her grandmother was murdered.

[Frau Gertrud Kino] That’s possible. Gerda may not have told them.

[Arnon] Why?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] In Germany, only third-generation Germans
have started with the questions.
The second generation, they didn’t ask what’s happened.
You don’t understand this, and I’m very happy you don’t.

[Arnon] They had a friend …
a former Nazi officer by the name of von Mildenstein.

[Frau Gertrud Kino] [Frowning] The one who traveled here?
“A Nazi Travels to Palestine?”

[Arnon] Yes.

[Frau Gertrud Kino] He was a friend of theirs?
He was a journalist for Der Angriff.
I wouldn’t accompany a German who wrote for Der Angriff.
It was the worst Nazi newspaper ever.

[Arnon] What did Grandma tell you about it?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] Just the story itself,
that they had accompanied him and about the articles.
That was all.

[Arnon] Did she tell you whether they kept in touch later on?

[Frau Gertrud Kino] [Frowning] With him? After the war?
I don’t think so.
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Re: The Flat, directed by Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film

Postby admin » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:46 pm

Part 3 of 3


[Arnon] Grandmother probably knew
that Gertrud wouldn’t approve
of her friendship with the von Mildensteins,
just as she couldn’t relate to her longing for Germany.
But the pictures keep revealing a friendship
that continued after the war.
Here, my grandparents can be seen
on vacation with Gerda von Mildenstein.
And here, the baron captured them
in front of a waterfall.
I don’t understand how they could reunited
after what happened to Susanne.

[Mother Hannahle] Truth is, I’m amazed.
It was so unlike them.

[Arnon] Why?

[Mother Hannahle] It was unlike my dad.
Your grandpa …
I’m surprised he agreed to meet him
in light of what he knew.
How did they meet in the first place?

[Arnon] They met at that first journey to Palestine.

On 7 April 1933, the Juedische Rundschau, the bi-weekly paper of the Zionist movement, declared that of all Jewish groups only the Zionist Federation of Germany was capable of approaching the Nazis in good faith as "honest partners". The Federation then commissioned Kurt Tuchler to make contact with possible Zionist sympathisers within the Nazi Party, with the aim of facilitating emigration to Palestine, and Tuchler approached Mildenstein, who was asked to write something positive about Jewish Palestine in the press. Mildenstein agreed, on condition that he be allowed to visit the country in person, with Tuchler as his guide. So, in the spring of 1933 a party of four set out from Berlin, consisting of Mildenstein, Tuchler, and their wives. They spent a month together in Palestine, and Mildenstein began to write a series of articles for Der Angriff, a Nazi Party newspaper in Berlin which Joseph Goebbels had founded in 1927 and still controlled. Mildenstein himself remained in Palestine for a total of six months before his return to Germany as an enthusiast for Zionism. He even began to study Hebrew. In August 1933 Hitler's government and German Zionists entered into the Haavara Agreement [Transfer Agreement], which encouraged emigration by allowing Jews to transfer property from Germany to Palestine.

-- Leopold von Mildenstein, by Wikipedia

[Mother Hannahle] It’s amazing that they looked for him and visited him …
He probably said he’d had no choice;
he wasn’t involved.
He must have tried to …
to picture himself as a saint.

[Arnon] He may have tried that,
but Grandpa was a judge, after all.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes, he was.
What did his daughter tell you?

[Arnon] I’ve some questions left.
Maybe if you join me next time, you could help me understand …

[Mother Hannahle] What had really happened.


[Arnon] Before Mother goes on an adventure,
she always ties up loose ends.
The things that managed to stay on
will now emigrate to an unknown destination.

[Furniture movers move furniture]

[Arnon] Two Jews on an airplane to Germany.
As protocol would have it, we must visit family first.
But of all the relatives we had here,
only a distant one remains.
His name is Manu Troekes,
and we’re of the same generation.
His family survived the war
because his grandfather wasn’t Jewish,
but he, too, discovered one day
that he had a great-grandmother who died in the Holocaust:
Paula Lehmann.

[Buzzer buzzes] [Muller/Trokes]

[Manu Troekes] Arnon?

[Arnon] Hi.

[Mother Hannahle] Hi.

[Manu Troekes] Hannah?

[Mother Hannahle] Yes. I’m here.

[Manu Troekes] Ja! Hello.

[Mother Hannahle] Hello, Manu.

[Manu Troekes] Hello.

[Hellos all around]

[Mrs. Troekes] Please come in!

[Arnon] This is me, okay?

[Manu Troekes] Mm-hmm.

[Arnon] This is my mother and father. Okay?
This is Gerda …

[Manu Troekes] Mm-hmm.

[Arnon] And Kurt.

[Manu Troekes] Mm-hmm.

[Arnon] And here, this is Susanne Lehmann.
And Heinrich Lehmann.

[Manu Troekes] Yes.

[Arnon] And he had four brothers …

[Manu Troekes] And a sister.

[Arnon] Who?

[Manu Troekes] Lehmann, Heinrich Lehmann.

[Mother Hannahle] Heinrich Lehmann.

[Manu Troekes] Yes, yes, that’s right.

[Arnon] That’s your grandfather.

[Mother Hannahle] I didn’t know.

[Manu Troekes] You didn’t know?

[Mother Hannahle] No.

[Manu Troekes] What?
Okay, continue.
Still, you’re right. You’re right.

[Arnon] And this is Paula.
The mother of your grandmother.

[Manu Troekes] Yes.

[Arnon] And here is your mother.

[Manu Troekes] Yes.

[Arnon] And here is you.

[Manu Troekes] Exactly.

[Arnon] Manu.

[Manu Troekes] Yes, exactly.
I show you what I did.

[Mrs. Troekes] He did the same paperwork.

[Manu Troekes] The same paper, I did.

[Mrs. Troekes] A few days ago.

[Manu Troekes] I started maybe a week ago because I didn’t --
I knew – I knew, but I did not have all the details.
And I got some details and a photo,
two photos, from Ilanna.

[Arnon] Uh-huh.

[Manu Troekes] Ilanna’s also the same generation.

[Arnon] Yes.

[Manu Troekes] Of another brother, Max Lehmann.

[Arnon] Max Lehmann. He is here somewhere.

[Manu Troekes] He is the brother of Heinrich Lehmann,
and the brother of Paula Lehmann,
who is Paula Bernstein.

[Mother Hannahle] To me, it’s new.

[Manu Troekes] No, I show you. Wait.

[Mother Hannahle] To me, it’s new.
I really didn’t know.

[Manu Troekes] Look.

[Mother Hannahle] Oh!


[Manu Troekes] My name is not Lehmann, of course,
and yours is not Lehmann, but still, it is our family.
It goes back one, two, three, four generations.

[Mother Hannahle] I don’t understand how I don’t know.

[Manu Troekes] Yeah. Yeah.

[Mother Hannahle] We didn’t ask, and we were not told.
I knew only about the people who are alive,
but never about the people who are not with us.

[Manu Troekes] Yeah.

[Arnon] Did you know about the destiny of Paula Lehmann?

[Manu Troekes] Yes, yes.

[Arnon] And how did you know this story?

[Manu Troekes] I asked.
But they said, “No.”
They didn’t want to hurt me.
But then much later, I learned
they didn’t want to hurt themselves too.
And one of the most horrifying things
is that they let go my great-grandmother.
She was deported.
She ended in Theresienstadt.
So what did the family do?
Did they bring her with a suitcase to the truck?
Did they – why did they let her go?
And why did not somebody hide her?
I mean, even from the family.

[Arnon] Yeah.
Is it possible they didn’t know where she was going?

[Manu Troekes] No!!!
Everybody knew.

[Mother Hannahle] This is it …

[Arnon] Afternoon has come,
and in Berlin, do as the Berliners do:
after Schlafstunde, time for Spazieren.

[Manu Troekes] Hannah?

[Mother Hannahle] What?

[Manu Troekes] Would you live here?

[Mother Hannahle] No. Not here.
I like it where I live.
But I would like to visit more often.

[Manu Troekes] This is Paula’s old house.

[Mother Hannahle] Yeah? I didn’t know.

[Manu Troekes] 45 Ginzel Street.

[Arnon] That was her last apartment?

[Manu Troekes] Yes.

[Arnon] Wow.

[Manu Troekes] Yeah.
And here, look.
There’s ein Stolperstein.
To memory …

[Mother Hannahle] Where?

[Manu Troekes] Paula Lehmann, here.

[Mother Hannahle] No.

[Manu Troekes] Yeah.

[Shows her plaque to Paula Lehmann on the ground]

[Mother Hannahle] I didn’t know that they put that –

[Manu Troekes] It says: “Paula Bernstein,
“born Lehmann, lived here.
“Born in 1867, deported to Theresienstadt in 1942,
“and murdered December 1942.”

[Mother Hannahle] Unbelievable. Hmm.

[Manu Troekes] It’s an artist who had the idea, an artist.
And then either a family or a friend or somebody …

[Mother Hannahle] Pays for this,

[Manu Troekes] Pays for this,
and then you have to ask the community,
and this is for Paula.

[Arnon] And that’s for –

[Manu Troekes] This is for Paula.

[Arnon] Paula Lehmann isn’t my only relative who lived here.
The home of Susanne Lehmann was a quick walk away.
When Susannah would go to visit her sister-in-law,
she’d take little Hannahle along,
to show off her granddaughter.

[Mother Hannahle] Nice neighborhood.

[Manu Troekes] It’s a very quiet, pleasant residential area.
Look. That’s 55 Innsbrucker Street.
Susi lived here.

[Mother Hannahle] Really?

[Manu Troekes] Yes.

[Mother Hannahle] Here?

[Manu Troekes] Yes. That’s the address.
Susi Lehmann.

[Mother Hannahle] How do you know that?

[Manu Troekes] Arnon told me.

[Mother Hannahle] That Susi lived here?
So my mother also lived here?

[Manu Troekes] Yes, Gerda lived here as a child.

[Mother Hannahle] Really?

[Manu Troekes] Yes.
Not in this house, of course. The old house was destroyed.

[Mother Hannahle] But this is the address.

[Manu Troekes] Yes.
Unbelievable, eh?

[Mother Hannahle] Amazing, yes.

[Manu Troekes] But no Stolperstein.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes.

[Manu Troekes] You could do one.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes, maybe.

[Manu Troekes] We could do it together, next year or …

[Arnon] It is from here that my grandparents
tried to rescue Susanne Lehmann.
They wrote from Palestine to anyone who could help
and also tried desperately to locate their good friend.
He now had a code name: “Mild.”
I don’t know if von Mildenstein ever received their letters
or where he was in those years.
Could he have helped?


[Mother Hannahle] How did they receive you
when you visited them?

[Arnon] Very kindly. Did you say, “Where”?

[Mother Hannahle] No.

[Arnon] They were very nice.

[Mother Hannahle] Really?

[Arnon] Very friendly.
Question is, what should we tell them?

[Mother Hannahle] I think we should act as normal as possible.
Then we’ll see how things go.

[Arnon] My question is, should we actually say the word “Nazi”?
On one hand, we know he was a Nazi.
On the other hand, I don’t know
whether it would be nice to verbalize it.
I don’t know how things stand in Germany today.
Whether people are ashamed of it.
Do they see it as a blemish? How do they see it?

[Mother Hannahle] I’m certain they see it as a blemish.
So we won’t verbalize the actual word.
We’ll just ask what he did then
without saying the very word.

[Arnon] We don’t want to come across
as if we know something and we’ve come to interrogate.

[Mother Hannahle] We’re not going there to tell them,
“Listen, we know something you don’t.”
Why should we?

[Arnon] But why not?

[Mother Hannahle] Because it’s none of our business.
Our only concern is our own family.
Why mention things that only concern them?
Would you tell your friend that his father’s a murderer
if he doesn’t know that?
What for?

[Train station announcer]

[Arnon & Mother Hannahle] Hi.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] How are you?

[Mother Hannahle] All right.


[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Did you have a good journey?

[Mother Hannahle] Yes.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] [Hugs Arnon] That was brilliant, that you could do it that soon.

[All laugh]

[Birds chirping]

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] There’s Ravensburger jigsaws.

[Arnon] Ah.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] If they like that.
It’s great fun.

[Arnon] My daughter loves puzzles.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] That is actually very nice.
You know what a Tigerente is?
It’s a tiger-duck.

[Harald P. Milz] I must admit
it’s my birthday today, you know?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Oh!

[Everyone laughing]

[Harald P. Milz] I didn’t want to tell you before.

[Mother Hannahle] Happy birthday!

[Harald P. Milz] Thank you.

[Arnon] So, Harald, this is for your birthday.

[Harald P. Milz] Yeah. [Laughing]

[Arnon] I hope you will like it.

[Harald P. Milz] Thank you very much.

[Arnon] [To Edda] Yes, and this is for your hospitality.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I’m not doing anything for you.
Oh, that is wonderful.

[Arnon] You know, this is from the Dead Sea.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Oh, that’s great.

[Harald P. Milz] Israeli folk songs.
Ja, good.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Thank you very, very much.

[Arnon] Before we arrived, Edda dug up new evidence
of the friendship between her parents
and my grandparents …

[Harald P. Milz] Oh, I don’t believe it.

[Arnon] Her mother’s old diaries
from the time after their trip to Palestine.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Mother’s diaries, yes. They are something.

[Arnon] Here are the Tuchlers.
September 21, 1933.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] “Dinner with Mrs. Tuchler.”
“A walk with Dr. Tuchler.”
Well, there’s Tuchlers again.
“At Café Vienna.”
That was a theater or a film.
“Phoned Mrs. Tuchler.”
“Ate at Igel.”
“Ate at Igel.”
I think I would get so bored to go to the same restaurant.
Well, there’s Tuchlers again. That was on the 13th.

[Arnon] 13th of what?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Of November.

[Arnon] Just before they …

[Mother Hannahle] left.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Just before they left,
but they stayed even closer together
just before they left.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Understandable.

[Mother Hannahle] Yes.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] “Tuchlers’ departure.
November 23, 1936.”
That was it.

[Harald P. Milz] [Opening a bottle of champagne] It’s coming. It’s coming.

[Neighbor Jedel] [Pointing to the garden umbrella] You’ll shoot a hole in that.

[Arnon] Mazel tov!


[Mother Hannahle] Mazel tov!

[Harald P. Milz] Friendly fire.

[All laugh]

[Mother Hannahle] Happy birthday.

[Arnon] Happy birthday, Harald.

[Mother Hannahle] Stay like this. [Holds up bubbly glass]

[Harald P. Milz] Yeah.

[Neighbor Lady] Yes.

[Arnon] Edda. Mazel tov.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Cheers.

[Birds chirping]

[Arnon] I was asking my mother
what happened the Second World War
for our family.

[Neighbor Lady] Yes.

[Arnon] And she claimed that her parents
didn’t tell her nothing.

[Mother Hannahle] No, they were not talking about it. No.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I think that was the kind of education we got then.
You know, parents wouldn’t talk about it,
and you wouldn’t ask
because you weren’t allowed to ask.

[Mother Hannahle] Also, with us, it …
We don’t have any discussion, any --
It was holes.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] But that was the way that we were brought up.
We didn’t really get an awful lot of …

[Harald P. Milz] Mm-hmm.
But I remember very well
during the war, we had no radio,
we had no electricity,
and the Americans and the British,
they put posters on the walls and so on
and informed us about these concentration camps.
And people didn’t believe it.
They said, “It’s all propaganda.
“It’s all, you know” – um, ja --
“done by the Americans and British.”
They just didn’t believe it.
It’s – it’s – it’s --
You couldn’t believe it, you know.
And then all of a sudden, ja, it is the truth, you know.
And I remember that the word “Nazi” wasn’t there.
It was Nationalsozialisten.
This word “Nazi” came after the war.
We never used it.

[Arnon] And today you use it?

[Harald P. Milz] Pardon?

[Arnon] Today do you use the word “Nazi” here in –

[Harald P. Milz] Oh, yeah, all the time. Nazi, Nazi.
“Oh, he was a Nazi,” and so on.

[Arnon] So you are the famous neighbor.
Edda told me about you.

[Neighbor Lady] [Laughs]

[Arnon] That any question I have, you are the read address.


[Neighbor Lady] Whenever I need anything, I turn to him.

[Neighbor Jedel] When I find something,
I copy it and I say, “Edda, look at this.”
Here and there, you encounter the name “von Mildenstein.”

[Mother Hannahle] During the war, what …
what did Baron von Mildenstein do?

[Neighbor Jedel] I’ve no knowledge of that.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] He’s too young to know.

[Mother Hannahle] But from the books?

[Neighbor Jedel] I haven’t found anything,
at least not in the ones I’ve read.

[Mother Hannahle] Was he in the army?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] No.

[Neighbor Jedel] I didn’t find anything.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] If he says he didn’t, he didn’t.

[Neighbor Jedel] There’s a book that was published in which all,
let’s us call them “relevant” Germans,
starting with …
the highest ranking generals
down to functionaries, et cetera, are listed.
In this book, Edda’s father is mentioned.
The book is divided into categories
according to occupations.
As far as I remember, he was listed as “journalist.”
So …
I would say, “clean as a whistle.”

[Mother Hannahle] Yeah.

[Neighbor Jedel] So concerning this issue, everything is okay.

[Birds chirping]

[Harald P. Milz] The little house
where you sit and have your tea in the afternoon.

[Arnon] And what was actually the story
with the father of Edda?
I didn’t get it.

[Harald P. Milz] Well, I learned a lot today when Jedel talked about it.
I didn’t know Edda’s father was --
he is an engineer, civil engineer, really.
And as such, I think he also worked,
and, um, but he liked traveling …

[Arnon] But during that time in the beginning,
was he part of the National Socialistic party?

[Harald P. Milz] Oh, he must have been, ja. Ja.
Edda would know. I think he has been.
He must have been, as many have been,
like our teachers all were members of the party.
They had to be, and nothing with it.
They just wore this little emblem here,
and that was it.
I must say, not everybody was a bad Nazi, you know.
They were also just members.
Had to – some had to be.

Many von Mildenstein documents survived the war. Among them: a membership card from the Nazi Party before they took power


-- The Flat, written and directed by Arnon Goldfinger

[Arnon] But do you know what was his job?

[Harald P. Milz] Pardon?

[Arnon] What was his job?

[Harald P. Milz] I think he was, um …
Ja, it’s strange to say, I don’t really know.
He worked in government,
in the – I think in the interior ministry.
But Edda would know exactly, of course.
And it’s strange enough that we never --
Edda and I, we hardly ever talk about it.

[Arnon] Ah, really?

[Harald P. Milz] It’s not a topic between us
I don’t know.

[Arnon] Really?

[Harald P. Milz] And I never had so much interest in my father-in-law
as we had today, you know?

[Arnon] There was a time when the name von Mildenstein
must have aroused more interest.
When the Eichmann trial was on German TV
and the baron’s name came up,
what did Edda’s parents say about it at home?
She was 21.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I don’t know.
I mean, yes, of course, he was mentioned
simply because he was the chap before Eichmann.
But he was thrown out because he had other ideas.

[Arnon] And what was his way different from the others?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Huh?

[Arnon] In what way his method or way of working was different from the others?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Oh, I don’t know what the others were like,
but I mean, he –

[Arnon] Eichmann was –

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah, particularly Eichmann.
I mean, I don’t know what his beginning views
or what he actually stood for.
I haven’t a clue.
But what I read in the books say he immediately organized
things like concentration camps, et cetera.
That was something he hadn’t even --
father hadn’t even heard about before.
They wanted to get serious, really,
and they didn’t want to have anybody
who would hinder that.
And he was sort of being, very much,
“He’s not going to do anything to any Jews.
“He’s got Jewish friends anyway.
“So we drop him.”
And he had very quickly to rethink,
“What am I going to do as next step?”
And he said, “The best is if I carry on
“what I was good at so far,
writing about where I’m traveling.”
And then he decided to go to America.

[Arnon] He left Germany?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] He did, yeah.
That’s when he took the boat –

[Arnon] For how many years?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Oh, I think four years he went out for.
After that, as I say,
he tried to put a little bit more space
between him and whoever was in power in Berlin.
When was he actually arrested?
Was it ‘50s?

[Mother Hannahle] Eichmann.

[Arnon] Eichmann? It was in ’61.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Close. Okay, ’61.
And I think his then-boss at Coca-Cola --
and I haven’t got the papers for that --
suggested that he would more or less
take the bull by the horn, which is a word that,
if there is a problem, tackle it.
And he got together with Der Spiegel,
which is a very, was a very well-known,
aggressive, in a way, publication.
He said, “Just put it right there.”
And he wrote his side of the time there,
and that was it, and it was never another item,
because basically, all he was,
he was doing this journalistic work.

[Distant church bells ringing]

[Leaves rustling]

[Arnon] We said good-bye to Edda and Harald
and promised to stay in touch.
I found the article Edda mentioned.
She got some of the details wrong.
It was published five years after the Eichmann trial
[19. Dezember 1966]
and dealt with SS history.
[Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf [The Order Under the Skull
Die Geschichte der SS / Von SPIEGEL-Redakteur Heinz Hohne]
In it, Edda’s father is not listed as a journalist
but as Eichmann’s first boss.
I called Heinz Hoehne, the man who wrote the article.
Much to my surprise,
he recognized my grandfather’s name immediately.
Von Mildenstein made a point
of telling him about Kurt Tuchler,
presenting himself as “the Zionists’ best friend.”

[Heinz Hoehne] Hello, Mr. Goldfinger!
Very nice to see you.
Please come in. This is my wife.


[Arnon] Did you meet my grandfather, Kurt Tuchler?

[Heinz Hoehne] No. I didn’t.

[Arnon] And when von Mildenstein
came to your office, what else did he tell you
about his relationship with my grandfather?

[Heinz Hoehne] He said that he knows this person,
that they are in good relations,
and that their wives get along well.
They traveled together …
That’s more or less all he told me
about his personal life.
He was more concerned about his career in the SS,
and that was the main topic of our talk.
Clearly, if you are a press officer at Coca-Cola,
things can get ugly when people suddenly find out
that you were in the SS.

[Arnon] But the Eichmann trial
happened already five years before,
so they already heard about it --

[Heinz Hoehne] No.
At that time, they weren’t concerned about it.
You have to remember, it was 1961.
Nobody wanted to hear
that somebody had been in the SS.
For example, if you look up what Coca-Cola wrote …
to commemorate von Mildenstein’s 60th birthday,
that’s one sweet little biography.
Nobody would ever imagine
this man had any connection to the SS.
There were lots of holes in it.

[Arnon] So what von Mildenstein
actually did during the war?

[Heinz Hoehne] There are no traces
of Mildenstein in the SS after 1937.
I haven’t seen any.
And I’ve rummaged through many files.
They don’t exist.


[Engine whirring]

[Arnon] When Heinz Hoehne
researched SS history,
many documents were off limits to him
because they were kept in East Germany.
I go to the reunited national archive
to find what Hoehne couldn’t.
As it turns out,
many von Mildenstein documents survived the war.
[Leopold von Mildenstein]
Among them: a membership card from the Nazi Party
before they took power,
a letter of appointment as an SS officer,
and a CV in his own handwriting.
1935 to ’36:
Head of department at the SD, the secret service.
1937: A trip abroad, just like Edda said.
But oops.
1938: Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda,
where he spent seven years as a department head.
[Reichsministerium Volksaufklarung und Propaganda]
So von Mildenstein didn’t quit the party.
He was promoted within its ranks
less than a year
after he said good-bye to my grandparents.



Mogen Dovid and Swastika To Fly Side by Side

Hamburg – The Blue and White Zionist flag with the Mogen Dovid, the star of David, will fly side by side with the German swastika flag, when two German boats will begin to operate, within a short time, on Palestinian coastal transport.

The Atlantic Shipping Company is sending two motorships to Palestine loaded with the belongings of German Jews who have emigrated to Palestine. As the ships are registered in Germany they are bound to carry the official German flags. But upon their arrival in Palestine, where they will be used for local service, they will in addition fly the Zionist flag, probably in the hope of securing Jewish business and of counteracting the hatred of the swastika flag.

-- The Jewish Western Bulletin, Published by The Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council, Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, November 9, 1933

[Arnon] I just can’t understand the relationship
between my grandparents and von Mildenstein,
and no one seems to offer a satisfying explanation.
So I turn to an expert on Nazis and denial,
Professor Michael Wildt.

[Professor Michael Wildt] Hi.

[Arnon] Hello.
Happy to see you.

[Professor Michael Wildt] Hello.
A man like Mildenstein
is educated.
He knows the world. He’s fluent in many languages …
He’d consider himself a highly educated man.
With …
a Jew …
who had a similar education
and was on his own level intellectually,
he’d have lively, pleasant conversations.
And he would always separate between the two, saying,
“It is my duty as a National Socialist
“to free Germany and Europe of the Jews,
“and here I have this individual Jew,
“who, of course, will have to go one day,
but I can have good conversations with him,
“and I can have a good contact with him.”

[Arnon] My biggest surprise was
that I found out that the Tuchlers and Mildenstein
were in contact also after the war.
They renewed their friendship.
And I cannot understand it.
How can it be?

[Professor Michael Wildt] The question
how was it possible that after the war
the Tuchlers and the Mildensteins
have renewed their relationship …
might have …
more to do with Tuchler than with von Mildenstein.
What did Tuchler know about Mildenstein?
What did Mildenstein tell him?
Even for a persecuted Jew,
it’s important --
if you’ve lived in Germany for so long,
your family lived here for centuries,
you yourself lived here for decades,
and then that country wants to expel you,
you find it unbearable to imagine
that all Germans want to expel you,
that all Germans are like the Nazis
and they want to expel you.
You find this again and again, in many documents:
There must be at least one good German
who keeps in touch with you,
who accepts you as a human being,
who talks to you eye to eye,
who listens to you,
and treats you like a human being.

[Arnon] I look at pictures
of my grandparents returning to Germany
time and again,
as if they wanted to prove that their homeland
didn’t reject them.
And I try to imagine their first talk
with von Mildenstein after the war.
Did he tell them what he told his daughter,
that he left it all behind to travel around the world?
And did they
in order to deal with the loss of Susanne Lehmann,
choose to believe their friend wasn’t involved?
But my dilemma is not what to believe or not to believe.
I have to decide what to do with what I know.

[To Edda] You know, but what I found –
and I felt that I must tell you because, you know …
because of our, you know, some kind of a friendship
that’s started even between us, is,
I found out new information about your father.
What I found to document
that he was working in Goebbels’ ministry,
and he was officer in the SD,
which was the intelligence for the SS,
and that’s really different from what I knew so far.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah, I don’t quite believe that
because he wasn’t there anymore.
He was not in Berlin after --
I don’t’ know whether the forces were sort of gathering up
or if he stayed long enough,
he would have been in the forces himself.
He didn’t.
Because that’s when they went to Japan.

[Arnon] I went to the Bundesarchiv,
and this is something that I copied for you.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah, okay.

[Arnon] See, this is, uh --
That’s his handwriting, yeah?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yep.

[Arnon] Here he writes in his C.V.
that he joined Goebbels’ ministry and …

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Okay, I mean, that is like a skeleton.
I’ve got something where, if I found the pieces,
could patch them to that, but not more than that.
With all fairness and even wanting to do it,
I wouldn’t know where to start at the minute.

[Arnon] There is a whole file in the Bundesarchiv,
but you can ask if you are interesting in it.

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] Yeah, I mean, I’m interested.
Like, you know, if you’ve got someone in the family
who’s done something,
you want to find out what was he thinking about it,
and why did it sort of – where did he go,
and where was the rest of the family at that time?
Um …
This gives nothing, really, on that, does it?

[Arnon] You think it will help to --
Do you want to learn about the past?

[Edda Milz v.Mildenstein] I want to learn around it, but I’d like to sort of,
preferably, see different sides of it as well,
if that is possible.
Um …
Anything else?


[Rain pattering]

[Arnon] When you start talking about the past,
it’s impossible to stop.
Who would have imagined that my mother and I
would visit the grave of Heinrich Lehmann,
Susanne’s husband, my mother’s grandfather,
my great-grandfather?

[To his mother] I think it’s straight on …

[Mother Hannahle] And then left, somewhere …
That sign says, “P7.” Is there a “P7”?

[Arnon] Yes, here it is.
There’s “A7” and “B7.”

[Mother Hannahle] This is “B7.”

[Arnon] Here’s “A4.”

[Mother Hannahle] Grandma could’ve asked to have something written on her grave
in memory of her mother, who doesn’t even have a grave.

[Arnon] Right.
What do you think she’d say if she knew you came to visit?

[Mother Hannahle] I think she’d say, “The nerve!
“What are you doing here? This is none of your business!”
What would she think about it …?

[Arnon] How do you feel about her now?

[Mother Hannahle] Because she didn’t tell me about it?

[Arnon] Yes.

[Mother Hannahle] I’m surprised now, but back then …

[Arnon] But now that we’re uncovering all the secrets,
disregarding what she’d forbidden ….

[Mother Hannahle] Well …
In retrospect, I should have done that more often.
I should’ve disregarded her “no-nos” much more often.
But it doesn’t really move me. I can’t say it does.

[Arnon] Does it bother you that you aren’t moved?

[Mother Hannahle] I can’t say if it bothers me or not.

[Arnon] It bothers me.
It bothers me that you aren’t moved by what we’re seeing here.

[Mother Hannahle] It does?

[Arnon] Yes.
It’s even making me sad that you …

[Mother Hannahle] That I react with no …
Either you have it, or you don’t.
It’s not something you acquire or pretend to have.

[Thunder rumbling]

[Mother Hannahle] Are you going the right way?

[Arnon] Hold on.

[Mother Hannahle] I saw “Q4” over there.

[Arnon] “Q4.”

[Mother Hannahle] Here it is.

[Arnon] Ah, okay.

[Raining hard]

[Mother Hannahle] Ooh.

[Arnon] Oh, wow.

[Mother Hannahle] Started raining again.

[Arnon] One, two, three, four.

[Rain intensifies]

[Mother Hannahle] Wow, wow, wow.

[Arnon] Wow, wow, wow.

[Looking for graves]

[Mother Hannahle] Let’s say this is one, two …

[Arnon] No, this is three.

[Mother Hannahle] Three.

[Checking among the brambles with her feet]
There’s nothing here.
Nothing in this row.
I didn’t think we wouldn’t find it.

[Arnon] Neither did I.
It must be here somewhere.

[Mother Hannahle] There used to be many graves here,
and now they’re all gone.


[Melancholy piano music]

[Arnon] [Takes portraits of grandma and grandpa off walls and leaves the flat with them]



Unasked and unanswered questions in Arnon Goldfinger's movie, "The Flat":
1. What did Arnon mean when he said, "When I grew up, I realized that the meaningful things were always left unspoken," while the camera rests on Kurt Tuchler's portrait?
2. What did Mother Hannahle mean when she said about her parents, "I had my own burden of living with them."
3. Was Kurt Tuchler a member of the Nazi Party?
4. Was Kurt Tuchler made an honorary Aryan by Adolf Hitler, as, for example, Emil Maurice?
5. Was Kurt Tuchler a spy for the German government during the war? Did he provide intelligence to the SS, support German foreign policy in the Near East, try to find oil sources for the German Reich, provide information on the various Jewish boycott groups, and on Jewish plots against the lives of prominent Nazis, as promised by and envisioned for Feivel Polkes?
6. What is the history of Kurt Tuchler AFTER he moved to Israel?
7. If Baron Leopold von Mildenstein was a CIA agent after the war, was Kurt Tuchler also a CIA agent after the war? Is that why the two families were meeting in Germany after the war?
8. Who is Arnon Goldfinger's father, and what is his history? Was he a Zionist? Why would a Zionist or his wife have regret for what previous Zionists did?
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Re: The Flat, directed by Arnon Goldfinger and Zero One Film

Postby admin » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:52 pm

New film on Nazi links to Zionism sidesteps the toughest questions
by Terri Ginsberg
The Electronic Intifada
New York City
7 November 2012



Filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger and Edda von Mildenstein in The Flat. (Zero One Film/A Sundance Selects release)

Arnon Goldfinger’s 2011 documentary The Flat has just opened in New York City. Although enthusiastically publicized as an unpredictable and astonishing trip into buried history revealing unpopular truths about the Israeli past, The Flat — or Ha-dira in Hebrew — ultimately fails to deliver on its proclaimed promise.

Instead, the film adheres closely to the acceptable parameters of Zionist discourse, offering little to challenge prevailing conceptions about the film’s ostensible focus: the controversial relationship between Zionism and National Socialism.

The Flat follows Goldfinger’s quest for answers after he discovers that his late grandparents, Kurt and Gerda (née Lehmann) Tuchler, maintained a close and long-standing friendship with high-level Nazi propagandist Leopold von Mildenstein and his family. The quest begins as Goldfinger and his mother, Hannah, find copies in Gerda’s former apartment of the notorious Nazi Party Berlin newspaper Der Angriff, in which a series of articles appears under the title “A National Socialist Goes to Palestine.”

The articles are written by von Mildenstein and describe his exploratory trip to Palestine in 1933 accompanied by his wife and the Tuchlers, Jews who would later emigrate from their native Germany to Palestine.

Zionist mission

Nazi propagandist Leopold von Mildenstein in Palestine in 1933. (Goldfinger/Tuchler Family Archive/A Sundance Selects release)

This trip was no mere tourist holiday but instead a mission, led by the Tuchlers, for enabling von Mildenstein to write convincing articles for Der Angriff in support of Jewish emigration to Palestine. Although never specified or discussed in The Flat, the Nazi government had in fact been approached about this matter by the Zionist Federation of Germany, of which Kurt Tuchler was an active member, and which argued — in eerie similarity to Nazi racialist views — that Jews, understood as a people separate and apart, were unsuited to reside anywhere but in a country of their own (Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, 1983, chapter 5).

This discovery leads Goldfinger on a search for information that might help explain the relationship described in the articles. Interviewing family members as well as various and sundry Israeli researchers, he confirms the articles’ veracity and learns of the friendship’s post-war continuation.

Yet this attempt at explanation is so heavily enmeshed in the personal-familial, and so wholly divorced from the historical context, that it ends up ignoring the fact that von Mildenstein’s diplomatic relationship with Tuchler, and the sympathies he shared with fellow Nazis for the Zionist cause, have in fact been well-documented in several credible books. One would think research-obsessed Goldfinger, who painstakingly ascertains the murder of his maternal great-grandmother in Theresienstadt, should at least have been aware of this historical research.

Likewise unmentioned are the numerous extant, not unrelated analyses of sordid connections known to have existed between the Zionist effort, the post-Holocaust State of Israel and Germany before and after the Second World War.


The Flat thus recalls the similarly disingenuous films of Israeli documentary-maker Yulie Cohen Gerstel, who through savvy investigation unearths “obscure” books confirming the Nakba (the ethnic cleansing of Palestine leading to Israel’s establishment in 1948) her aging mother admits having helped perpetrate. Her discoveries are presented as though the current preponderance of solid histories on the subject were nonexistent.

Goldfinger’s approach in The Flat is of a willfully curious yet naive son, confused and angry not only that his mother apparently knew nothing about her embarrassing familial history, but that she has no further interest in it whatsoever.

Goldfinger’s consternation is palpable when Hannah is not “moved” by the fact that von Mildenstein’s daughter, Edda Milz von Mildenstein (who they track down and visit at her home in Wuppertal, Germany, and who herself repeatedly denies her own father’s Nazi past), is not overly disconcerted to learn the awful truth about him.

Indeed the film’s overriding objective, underscored by repeated close-ups on Goldfinger scrutinizing his mother’s ambivalent reactions to ensuing discoveries, is to interrogate “second generation” repression of familial guilt and the disavowal of history.

Such a critical goal is potentially worthwhile — except when pursued, as in this case, at the expense of recognizing and acknowledging Israel’s sordid past and its culpable persistence.
The Flat fails to mention the fact of the historical and ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in which the Tuchlers and the von Mildensteins, who actively supported the very Jewish emigration to Palestine that would lead to the displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people, are indubitably implicated.

Reinstating taboos

Gerda and Kurt Tuchler (Goldfinger/Tuchler Family Archive/A Sundance Selects release)

Like most Israeli films concerning the Holocaust, and not unlike Holocaust cinema generally, The Flat deflects the crimes of the Nakba onto Nazi crimes through a process of internalization and displacement.

Goldfinger’s abiding guilt over his grandparents’ questionable association with Nazis is assuaged rather than confronted, through a moralizing tack. Edda’s denial of her father’s membership in the SS and his key position within Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda ministry comes off as comparatively worse than anything the Tuchlers or their progeny might have done, regardless of Goldfinger’s inability — and unwillingness — to get to the bottom of that matter.

In effect, The Flat, which appropriately concludes in a cemetery, at once breaks and reinstates the ultimate Zionist taboo of drawing analogies between Israel and Germany and, by extension, between the Nakba and the Holocaust. Concealing such connections by purporting to grapple with an unspoken Israeli past — while pervasively ignoring its most crucial, Palestinian, question — The Flat travesties its ostensible mission of recollection.

As such the film must itself be relegated — ironically, in view of its subject — to the status of propaganda.

Terri Ginsberg is author of Holocaust Film: The Political Aesthetics of Ideology (2007), co-author of Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema (2010), and co-editor of A Companion to German Cinema (2012).
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