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Achievements of Haavara
Between 1933 and 1941, some 60,000 German Jews emigrated to Palestine through the Ha'avara and other German-Zionist arrangements, or about ten percent of Germany's 1933 Jewish population. (These German Jews made up about 15 percent of Palestine's 1939 Jewish population.) Some Ha'avara emigrants transferred considerable personal wealth from Germany to Palestine. As Jewish historian Edwin Black has noted: "Many of these people, especially in the late 1930s, were allowed to transfer actual replicas of their homes and factories -- indeed rough replicas of their very existence."40
The total amount transferred from Germany to Palestine through the Ha'avara between August 1933 and the end of 1939 was 8.1 million pounds or 139.57 million German marks (then equivalent to more than $40 million). This amount included 33.9 million German marks ($13.8 million) provided by the Reichsbank in connection with the Agreement.41
Historian Black has estimated that an additional $70 million may have flowed into Palestine through corollary German commercial agreements and special international banking transactions. The German funds had a major impact on a country as underdeveloped as Palestine was in the 1930s, he pointed out. Several major industrial enterprises were built with the capital from Germany, including the Mekoroth waterworks and the Lodzia textile firm. The influx of Ha'avara goods and capital, concluded Black, "produced an economic explosion in Jewish Palestine" and was "an indispensable factor in the creation of the State of Israel."42
The Ha'avara agreement greatly contributed to Jewish development in Palestine and thus, indirectly, to the foundation of the Israeli state. A January 1939 German Foreign Office circular bulletin reported, with some misgiving, that "the transfer of Jewish property out of Germany [through the Ha'avara agreement] contributed to no small extent to the building of a Jewish state in Palestine."43
Former officials of the Ha'avara company in Palestine confirmed this view in a detailed study of the Transfer Agreement published in 1972: "The economic activity made possible by the influx German capital and the Haavara transfers to the private and public sectors were of greatest importance for the country's development. Many new industries and commercial enterprises were established in Jewish Palestine, and numerous companies that are enormously important even today in the economy of the State of Israel owe their existence to the Haavara."44 Dr. Ludwig Pinner, a Ha'avara company official in Tel Aviv during the 1930s, later commented that the exceptionally competent Ha'avara immigrants "decisively contributed" to the economic, social, cultural and educational development of Palestine's Jewish community.45
The Transfer Agreement was the most far-reaching example of cooperation between Hitler's Germany and international Zionism. Through this pact, Hitler's Third Reich did more than any other government during the 1930s to support Jewish development in Palestine.
Zionists Offer a Military Alliance With Hitler
In early January 1941 a small but important Zionist organization submitted a formal proposal to German diplomats in Beirut for a military-political alliance with wartime Germany. The offer was made by the radical underground "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel," better known as the Lehi or Stern Gang. Its leader, Avraham Stern, had recently broken with the radical nationalist "National Military Organization" (Irgun Zvai Leumi) over the group's attitude toward Britain, which had effectively banned further Jewish settlement of Palestine. Stern regarded Britain as the main enemy of Zionism.
This remarkable Zionist proposal "for the solution of the Jewish question in Europe and the active participation of the NMO [Lehi] in the war on the side of Germany" is worth quoting at some length:46
In their speeches and statements, the leading statesmen of National Socialist Germany have often emphasized that a New Order in Europe requires as a prerequisite a radical solution of the Jewish question by evacuation. ("Jew-free Europe")
The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question. However, the only way this can be totally achieved is through settlement of these masses in the homeland of the Jewish people, Palestine, and by the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries.
The goal of the political activity and the years of struggle by the Israel Freedom Movement, the National Military Organization in Palestine (Irgun Zvai Leumi), is to solve the Jewish problem in this way and thus completely liberate the Jewish people forever.
The NMO, which is very familiar with the good will of the German Reich government and its officials towards Zionist activities within Germany and the Zionist emigration program, takes that view that:
1. Common interests can exist between a European New Order based on the German concept and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as embodied by the NMO.
2. Cooperation is possible between the New Germany and a renewed, folkish-national Jewry [Hebr_ertum].
3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of maintaining and strengthening the future German position of power in the Near East.
On the basis of these considerations, and upon the condition that the German Reich government recognize the national aspirations of the Israel Freedom Movement mentioned above, the NMO in Palestine offers to actively take part in the war on the side of Germany.
This offer by the NMO could include military, political and informational activity within Palestine and, after certain organizational measures, outside as well. Along with this the Jewish men of Europe would be militarily trained and organized in military units under the leadership and command of the NMO. They would take part in combat operations for the purpose of conquering Palestine, should such a front by formed.
The indirect participation of the Israel Freedom Movement in the New Order of Europe, already in the preparatory stage, combined with a positive-radical solution of the European Jewish problem on the basis of the national aspirations of the Jewish people mentioned above, would greatly strengthen the moral foundation of the New Order in the eyes of all humanity.
The cooperation of the Israel Freedom Movement would also be consistent with a recent speech by the German Reich Chancellor, in which Hitler stressed that he would utilize any combination and coalition in order to isolate and defeat England.
There is no record of any German response. Acceptance was very unlikely anyway because by this time German policy was decisively pro-Arab.47 Remarkably, Stern's group sought to conclude a pact with the Third Reich at a time when stories that Hitler was bent on exterminating Jews were already in wide circulation. Stern apparently either did not believe the stories or he was willing to collaborate with the mortal enemy of his people to help bring about a Jewish state. 48
An important Lehi member at the time the group made this offer was Yitzhak Shamir, who later served as Israel's Foreign Minister and then, during much of the 1980s and until June 1992, as Prime Minister. As Lehi operations chief following Stern's death in 1942, Shamir organized numerous acts of terror, including the November 1944 assassination of British Middle East Minister Lord Moyne and the September 1948 slaying of Swedish United Nations mediator Count Bernadotte. Years later, when Shamir was asked about the 1941 offer, he confirmed that he was aware of his organization's proposed alliance with wartime Germany. 49
In spite of the basic hostility between the Hitler regime and international Jewry, for several years Jewish Zionist and German National Socialist interests coincided. In collaborating with the Zionists for a mutually desirable and humane solution to a complex problem, the Third Reich was willing to make foreign exchange sacrifices, impair relations with Britain and anger the Arabs. Indeed, during the 1930s no nation did more to substantively further Jewish-Zionist goals than Hitler's Germany.
1.W. Martini, "Hebr_isch unterm Hakenkreuz," Die Welt (Hamburg), Jan. 10, 1975. Cited in: Klaus Polken, "The Secret Contacts: Zionism and Nazi Germany, 1933-1941," Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring-Summer 1976, p. 65.
2.Quoted in: Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen: Die "Reichskristallnacht" (Tubingen: Grabert, 1981), p. 212. See also: Th. Herzl, The Jewish State (New York: Herzl Press, 1970), pp. 33, 35, 36, and, Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement (New York: Macmillan, 1984), p. 73.
3.Th. Herzl, "Der Kongress," Welt, June 4, 1897. Reprinted in: Theodor Herzls zionistische Schriften (Leon Kellner, ed.), erster Teil, Berlin: Judischer Verlag, 1920, p. 190 (and p. 139).
4.Memo of June 21, 1933, in: L. Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader (New York: Behrman, 1976), pp. 150-155, and (in part) in: Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin: Univ. of Texas, 1985), p. 42.; On Zionism in Germany before Hitler's assumption of power, see: Donald L. Niewyk, The Jews in Weimar Germany (Baton Rouge: 1980), pp. 94-95, 126-131, 140-143.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (Austin: 1985), pp. 1-15.
5.JJudische Rundschau (Berlin), June 13, 1933. Quoted in: Heinz H_hne, The Order of the Death's Head (New York: Ballantine, pb., 1971, 1984), pp. 376-377.
6.Heinz Hohne, The Order of the Death's Head (Ballantine, 1971, 1984), p. 376.
7."Berlin," Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York and Jerusalem: 1971), Vol. 5, p. 648. For a look at one aspect of this "vigorous life," see: J.-C. Horak, "Zionist Film Propaganda in Nazi Germany," Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1984, pp. 49-58.
8.Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), pp. 54-55.; Karl A. Schleunes, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois, 1970, 1990), pp. 178-181.
9.Jacob Boas, "A Nazi Travels to Palestine," History Today (London), January 1980, pp. 33-38.
10.Facsimile reprint of front page of Das Schwarze Korps, May 15, 1935, in: Janusz Piekalkiewicz, Israels Langer Arm (Frankfurt: Goverts, 1975), pp. 66-67. Also quoted in: Heinz H_hne, The Order of the Death's Head (Ballantine, 1971, 1984), p. 377. See also: Erich Kern, ed., Verheimlichte Dokumente (Munich: FZ-Verlag, 1988), p. 184.
11.Das Schwarze Korps, Sept. 26, 1935. Quoted in: F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), pp. 56-57.
12.Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), p. 83.
13.F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), p. 60. See also: F. Nicosia, "The Yishuv and the Holocaust," The Journal of Modern History (Chicago), Vol. 64, No. 3, Sept. 1992, pp. 533-540.
14.F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), p. 57.
15. Judische Rundschau, Sept. 17, 1935. Quoted in: Yitzhak Arad, with Y. Gutman and A. Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1981), pp. 82-83.
16.Der Angriff, Dec. 23, 1935, in: E. Kern, ed., Verheimlichte Dokumente (Munich: 1988), p. 148.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 56.; L. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), p. 138.; A. Margaliot, "The Reaction...," Yad Vashem Studies (Jerusalem), vol. 12, 1977, pp. 90-91.; On Kareski's remarkable career, see: H. Levine, "A Jewish Collaborator in Nazi Germany," Central European History (Atlanta), Sept. 1975, pp. 251-281.
17."Dr. Wise Urges Jews to Declare Selves as Such," New York Herald Tribune, June 13, 1938, p. 12.
18.F. Nicosia, The Third Reich (1985), p. 53.
19.Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 (New York: Bantam, pb., 1976), pp. 253-254.; Max Nussbaum, "Zionism Under Hitler," Congress Weekly (New York: American Jewish Congress), Sept. 11, 1942.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich (1985), pp. 58-60, 217.; Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984), p. 175.
20.H. H_hne, The Order of the Death's Head (Ballantine, pb., 1984), pp. 380-382.; K. Schleunes, Twisted Road (1970, 1990), p. 226.; Secret internal SS intelligence report about F. Polkes, June 17, 1937, in: John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust (New York: Garland, 1982), vol. 5, pp. 62-64.
21.F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 63-64, 105, 219-220.
22.F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 160.
23.This distinction is also implicit in the "Balfour Declaration" of November 1917, in which the British government expressed support for "a national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine, while carefully avoiding any mention of a Jewish state. Referring to the majority Arab population there, the Declaration went on to caution, "...it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." The complete text of the Declaration is reproduced in facsimile in: Robert John, Behind the Balfour Declaration (IHR, 1988), p. 32.
24.F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 121.
25.F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 124.
26.David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Bar-Ilan University, Israel, 1974), p. 300.; Also in: Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, Vol. 5. Doc. No. 564 or 567.
27.K. Schleunes, The Twisted Road (1970, 1990), p. 209.
28.Circular of January 25, 1939. Nuremberg document 3358-PS. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg: 1947-1949), vol. 32, pp. 242-243. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (Washington, DC: 1946-1948), vol. 6, pp. 92-93.
29.F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 141-144.; On Hitler's critical view of Zionism in Mein Kampf, see esp. Vol. 1, Chap. 11. Quoted in: Robert Wistrich, Hitler's Apocalypse (London: 1985), p. 155.; See also: F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 26-28.; Hitler told his army adjutant in 1939 and again in 1941 that he had asked the British in 1937 about transferring all of Germany's Jews to Palestine or Egypt. The British rejected the proposal, he said, because it would cause further disorder. See: H. v. Kotze, ed., Heeresadjutant bei Hitler (Stuttgart: 1974), pp. 65, 95.
30.F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 156, 160-164, 166-167.; H. H_hne, The Order of the Death's Head (Ballantine, pb., 1984), pp. 392-394.; Jon and David Kimche, The Secret Roads (London: Secker and Warburg, 1955), pp. 39-43. See also: David Yisraeli, "The Third Reich and Palestine," Middle Eastern Studies, October 1971, p. 347.; Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (1979), pp. 43, 49, 52, 60.; T. Kelly, "Man who fooled Nazis," Washington Times, April 28, 1987, pp. 1B, 4B. Based on interview with Willy Perl, author of The Holocaust Conspiracy.
31.Y. Arad, et al., eds., Documents On the Holocaust (1981), p. 155. (The training kibbutz was at Neuendorf, and may have functioned even after March 1942.)
32.On the Agreement in general, see: Werner Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1972).; David Yisraeli, "The Third Reich and the Transfer Agreement," Journal of Contemporary History (London), No. 2, 1971, pp. 129-148.; "Haavara," Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 7, pp. 1012-1013.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin: 1985), pp. 44-49.; Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), pp. 140-141.; The Transfer Agreement, by Edwin Black, is detailed and useful. However, it contains numerous inaccuracies and wildly erroneous conclusions. See, for example, the review by Richard S. Levy in Commentary, Sept. 1984, pp. 68-71.
33.E. Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984), pp. 328, 337.
34.On opposition to the Haavara in official German circles, see: W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (1972), pp. 31-33.; D. Yisraeli, "The Third Reich," Journal of Contemporary History, 1971, pp. 136-139.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 126-139.; I. Weckert, Feuerzeichen (1981), pp. 226-227.; Rolf Vogel, Ein Stempel hat gefehlt (Munich: Droemer Knaur, 1977), pp. 110 ff.
35.W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer (1972), p. 31. Entire text in: David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Israel: 1974), pp. 298-300.
36.Interior Ministry internal memo (signed by State Secretary W. Stuckart), Dec. 17, 1937, in: Helmut Eschwege, ed., Kennzeichen J (Berlin: 1966), pp. 132-136.
37.W. Feilchenfeld, et al, Haavara-Transfer (1972), p. 32.
38.E. Black, Transfer Agreement, pp. 376-377.
39.E. Black, Transfer Agreement (1984), pp. 376, 378.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 238-239 (n. 91).
40.E. Black, Transfer Agreement, p. 379.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich, pp. 212, 255 (n. 66).
41.W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer, p. 75.; "Haavara," Encyclopaedia Judaica, (1971), Vol. 7, p. 1013.
42.E. Black, Transfer Agreement, pp. 379, 373, 382.
43.Circular of January 25, 1939. Nuremberg document 3358-PS. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg: 1947-1949), Vol. 32, pp. 242-243.
44.Werner Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1972). Quoted in: Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen (Tubingen: Grabert, 1981), pp. 222-223.
45.W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (1972). Quoted in: I. Weckert, Feuerzeichen (1981), p. 224.
46.Original document in German Ausw_rtiges Amt Archiv, Bestand 47-59, E 224152 and E 234155-58. (Photocopy in author's possession).; Complete original German text published in: David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Israel: 1974), pp. 315-317. See also: Klaus Polkhen, "The Secret Contacts," Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring-Summer 1976, pp. 78-80.; (At the time this offer was made, Stern's Lehi group still regarded itself as the true Irgun/NMO.)
47.Arab nationalists opposed Britain, which then dominated much of the Arab world, including Egypt, Iraq and Palestine. Because Britain and Germany were at war, Germany cultivated Arab support. The leader of Palestine's Arabs, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, worked closely with Germany during the war years. After escaping from Palestine, he spoke to the Arab world over German radio and helped raise Muslim recruits in Bosnia for the Waffen SS.
48.Israel Shahak, "Yitzhak Shamir, Then and Now," Middle East Policy (Washington, DC), Vol. 1, No. 1, (Whole No. 39), 1992, pp. 27-38.; Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel's Fateful Hour (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), pp. 213-214. Quoted in: Andrew J. Hurley, Israel and the New World Order (Santa Barbara, Calif.: 1991), pp. 93, 208-209.; Avishai Margalit, "The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir," New York Review of Books, May 14, 1992, pp. 18-24.; Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), pp. 266-269.; L. Brenner, Jews in America Today (1986), pp. 175-177.; L. Brenner, "Yitzhak Shamir: On Hitler's Side," Arab Perspectives (League of Arab States), March 1984, pp. 11-13.
49.Avishai Margalit, "The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir," New York Review of Books, May 14, 1992, pp. 18-24.; Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), pp. 266-269.; L. Brenner, Jews in America Today (1986), pp. 175-177.; L. Brenner, "Skeletons in Shamir's Cupboard," Middle East International, Sept. 30, 1983, pp. 15-16.; Sol Stern, L. Rapoport, "Israel's Man of the Shadows," Village Voice (New York), July 3, 1984, pp. 13 ff.
From The Journal of Historical Review, July-August 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 4), pages 29ﾐ37.
Mark Weber studied history at the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Munich, Portland State University and Indiana University (M.A., 1977). In March 1988 he testified for five days in Toronto District Court as a recognized expert witness on Germany's wartime Jewish policy and the Holocaust issue.
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