Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Last summer whilst on holiday I took a copy of Francis Nicosia’s Zionism & anti-semitism in Nazi Germany for light reading! An appalling apologia for the collaboration of the Zionist movement in Germany with the new Nazi government, I said that I would do a review of that book and its predecessor, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question. This was completed and reprinted in the Weekly Worker late last year and I am now including it on the blog as an aid to those interesting in the subject of how the Zionist movement, which today is so quick as it is to accuse its opponents of ‘anti-semitism’ was not always so concerned about anti-semitism.
Review: Francis Nicosia: The Third Reich and the Palestine Question   & Zionism and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany  
When in trouble accuse your critics of anti-Semitism. Even if they are Jewish and even if they are Zionist! [Israel Finance Minister: Goldstone Is ‘Anti-Semite Steinitz is of course right that it is possible to be a Jewish anti-Semite. The history of Zionism is full of such examples.
The past 20 years have seen the rise of the ‘New Zionist Historians’. Although politically they differ enormously, they have one thing in common. A desire to sweep aside Zionism’s invented history where propaganda and political convenience masqueraded as fact. A history whose purpose was more political and ideological than academic and investigative.
No question is more sensitive than that of the relationship between Zionism and the Nazis. Popular history holds that the Zionists led Jewish resistance to the Nazis, including the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and that Israel was established as a refuge from anti-Semitism. The Kasztner Trial in Israel from 1954-8 concerning Zionist collaboration in Hungary has been all but airbrushed from popular memory, even though it led to the fall of the Sharrett Government in 1955. The Ha’avarah Transfer Agreement between Nazi Germany and the Zionist Organisation, an agreement which led to Palestine being swamped with German goods between 1933 and 1939, with the Zionists operating as overseas salesmen for German companies has also been forgotten.
Yet the question of Zionism’s true record during the Holocaust has haunted Zionist writers. The first was Ben Hecht who, in 1962 published Perfidy, an account of the Kasztner trial. This was quickly followed by Hanna Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1963. In 1977 S Beit-Zvi, in Post-Ugandan Zionism in the Crucible of the Holocaust, [Tel-Aviv] documented how the Zionist leadership prioritised building a Jewish state over rescuing Jewish people, whilst in 1984 Edwin Black provided a comprehensive account of Haavara, the economic pact between Nazi Germany and the Zionist movement. Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators offered, from an anti-Zionist perspective, the most complete account of Zionist collusion with Nazism. [Croom Helm, London, 1983]
Even traditional Zionist historians such as Dr Noah Lucas found it difficult to avoid the fact that between 1941 and 1945, the Zionist movement effectively wrote off Europe’s Jews:
the forces unleashed by Hitler in all their horror must therefore be harnessed to the advantage of Zionism… While hopes and efforts for the rescue of Europe’s Jews continued, the struggle for a Jewish state became the primary concern of the movement… the Zionist realpolitik developed a rigorous logic and a momentum of its own in which the humanitarian considerations were subordinate. [The Modern History of Israel, pp. 188, 190, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1975].
Nicosia has documented both the relationship of the German Zionists with the Nazi government and the diplomatic factors that led to the Nazis adopting a pro-Zionist foreign policy externally. In so doing Nicosia has explored a number of archives in Germany, Israel and Britain. His problem was how to reconcile this with support for Zionism. His thesis that the Zionist movement had to do deals with the Nazis in order to rescue German Jews fails to explain the ideological symmetry between them and the consequences of that shared outlook on the Jews place in Germany.
An Author at War with His Own Evidence
Nicosia is an author at war with his own evidence. And like Israeli historian Benny Morris, is determined to reach conclusions at variance with the evidence, especially in his second book Zionism and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. The result is a series of apologetics for the record of the German Zionist Federation. [ZVfD]
Nicosia’s first book, ‘The 3rd Reich and Palestine’ detailed the relationship of the Nazi government and its different factions to Arab Nationalism, Zionism and the British and the interplay of these different forces. It is far more lucid and coherent than his second book, Zionism and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany  whose attempts to place Nazi anti-Semitism in the context of both medieval and post-Emancipation anti-Semitism in Germany is unconvincing. For example his statement that ‘a deeply rooted antipathy toward Jews had been and remained at the core of European life for centuries, a reality from which modern anti-Semitism… developed in the modern period.’ is both meaningless and ahistorical. [2:17]
Nicosia concludes that the rise of the Nazis to power in 1933 ‘left German Zionism with little option but to seek co-operation with a regime that ultimately would attempt to physically annihilate all the Jews of Europe.’ [2:11] Yet as Nicosia admits [2:2] Zionism was itself a volkish form Jewish nationalism, influenced by the same blut und boden mythology as its non-Jewish counterparts spouted. [ see ‘Blut und Boden: the Roots of Zionism Racism’ pp. 18-26, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, Lenni Brenner, Croom Helm, 1983]
What marked out Zionism from all other Jewish movements was not simply that ideologically Zionism was a mirror image of anti-Semitism but the fact that some of the most rabid Jew-haters sought their legitimation from Zionism.
‘As one of the developing volkish nationalisms of central and eastern Europe in the 19th century… Zionism has accepted the premise that the Jewish people, for racial, religious, cultural or historical reasons, should not be assimilated.’ [1:17]
The Zionist rejection of ‘assimilation’ was ‘firmly rooted in the conviction that the Jews constituted a unique race.’ [1:18] This belief in the theory of race reached its apotheosis with the visit in 1933 of Arthur Ruppin, the father of Jewish land settlement in Palestine, to German’s leading race scientist and Himmler’s mentor, Hans Gunther of Jena University, to share ideas. Ruppin recorded with satisfaction that the Professor was extremely friendly. [Tom Segev, The 7th Million, p.19, Hill & Wang, 1993]
Amos Morris-Reich, who attempts to play down Ruppin’s belief in the race sciences, nonetheless asks ‘why did Ruppin not express his reservations of Günther in the privacy of his diary, but, on the contrary, describe the conversation as a pleasant encounter?’ [Arthur Ruppin’s Concept of Race, Israel Studies, volume 11, number 3, p.2]. The answer is fairly obvious and what Reich forgets is that Ruppin was at the forefront of colonising another people’s land and justifying it through racism. Of course the Zionists have subsequent tried to play this down and although the meeting with Gunther is mentioned in the German edition of Ruppin’s diaries, it was erased in the English and Hebrew editions (edited by Alex Bein).
Nicosia observes that although today criticism of Zionism ‘is often dismissed as motivated by a deeper anti-Semitism, in Herzl’s day an opposite non-Jewish reaction, one of support for the Zionist idea, might have resulted in a similar reaction.’ [2:7] As he notes, ‘Before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, active anti-Zionism… was largely a Jewish phenomenon…’ [2:13]
For example Nicosia cites Victor Klemperer, a Christian Jew who survived only because he had married an Aryan. Klemperer described a meeting with the former leader of German Zionism, Kurt Blumenfeld in 1935: ‘The Blumenfelds were here on Friday; I disagree violently with him about Zionism, which he defends and praises, which I call betrayal and Hitlerism.’ [2:13]
Nicosia engages in sophistry and worse when explaining the welcome, by Herzl and the early Zionists, of the support of anti-Semites. Apparently Herzl was merely responding to the ‘threat of modern anti-Semitism and its rejection of Jewish emancipation and assimilation.’ Apart from the fact that Zionism started from a rejection of emancipation, it is a strange way to respond to a threat by welcoming it! As Herzl’s biographer notes, ‘Anti-semites approved of Herzl for authenticating their own accusations against the Jews.’ [Theodor Herzl – Artist and Politician, p.251, Desmond Stewart, Quartet Books, 1974]
When Herzl’s pamphlet ‘Der Judenstaat’ was published in 1896, Herzl ‘badgered’ Edouard Drumont, editor of the anti-Semitic daily La Libre Parole, into reviewing his pamphlet, which he did on January 16 1897. ‘Drumont praised Herzl for agreeing to so many of the charges made against the Jews by their opponents.’ [Ibid.] As Emperor Franz Josef retorted, in respect to Herzl’s argument that civic equality for Jews was a ‘misfortune because it led to assimilation and intermarriage’ (a familiar Zionist argument), ‘What would have become of this Herzl if there were no equality of rights?’ [Ibid.]
Nicosia’s treatment of Moses Hess’s and race is also disingenuous: ‘Hess argued that gentiles rejected Jews on the basis of their perceived race rather than the traditional measure of religion.’ (my emphasis) Despite quoting from the very same paragraph, Hess’s Rome & Jerusalem Nicosia omits the following sentences:
‘… the tendency of some Jews to deny their racial descent is equally foredoomed to failure. Jewish noses cannot be reformed and the black, wavy hair of the Jews will jot be changed into blond by conversion or straightened out by constant combing. The Jewish race is one of the primary races of mankind… The Jewish type has conserved its purity through the centuries.’ [Arthur Hertzberg, The Zionist Idea, pp. 120-1]
There was clearly nothing ‘perceived’ about Hess’s belief in a Jewish race. Hess, who can lay claim to being the first Political Zionist, also believed that “Race struggle is primary; class struggle is secondary.” [Rome & Jerusalem, Philosophical Library, New York, 1958, p.10]
Nicosia’s problem is that he has little understanding of Zionism, past or present, still less how its racial theories translated into practice in Palestine. For example he describes the Jewish National Fund, the main Zionist organisation involved in the settling the land as having been established in 1920, whereas the JNF was first formed in 1901. [2:155]
Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazis Minister for the Eastern Territories was Hitler’s favourite theoretician. Rosenburg argued that ‘Zionism must be vigorously supported in order to encourage a significant number of German Jews to leave for Palestine or other destinations.’ [1:25] He was also fond of citing the Zionists’ own statements:
‘Rosenberg’s argument that the Zionist movement could be utilized to promote the political, social and cultural segregation of Jews in Germany, as well as their emigration, was eventually transformed into policy by the Hitler regime after 1933.’ [Ibid and see 2:70] Rosenberg’s approach would become ‘a central element in Nazi Jewish policy after 1933.’ [2:70]
The German Zionists sought to use the advent of Hitler in order to oust their ‘assimilationist’ opponents from the leadership of the Jewish community. The Zionists went as far as denouncing and even disrupting the meetings of the CV. [2:167]
German Zionism saw in the rise of Hitlerism a golden opportunity: ‘So positive was its assessment of the situation that, as early as April 1933, the ZVfD announced its determination to take advantage of the crisis to win over a traditionally assimilationist German Jewry to Zionism.’ [2:146] On 21st June 1933 the German Zionists, in a memorandum to Hitler, declared that ‘Zionism believes that the rebirth of the life of a people, as it has developed in German life through attachment to Christian and national values, must also occur among the Jewish people.’ [2:92, also 1:42]
Nicosia concedes that German Zionism ‘retreated for the most part into its ideological comfort zone from which they generally dismissed the idea of Jewish self-defense against anti-Semitism…’ as a manifestation of ‘assimilationist’ refusal to accept the inevitable.[2:286] Indeed an understanding of National Socialism and how to respond, ‘seemed to elude the entire Zionist movement, including the Yishuv, until well into the Second World War.’ [2:289]
Zionist arguments that the Jews were a separate people confirmed everything that the Nazis and anti-semites argued. Rosenberg took this as ‘a clear affirmation that all Jews were aliens in Germany…’ [2:70]
Assimilation, not anti-Semitism, was German Zionism’s main enemy, and this did not change after 1933. As Kurt Blumenfeld, Secretary of the ZVfD (1909-11) and of the Zionist Organisation from 1927, said in a letter to Walter Rathenau, the Jewish government minister assassinated in 1922: ‘Under no circumstances does a Jew have the right to represent the affairs of another people.’ [Nathan Weinstock, Zionism: A False Messiah, p.135, Inklinks, 1979] This was an abject capitulation to the ideas of Nazi racism over a decade before they took power. ‘Blumenfeld identified the political left in Germany as the immediate danger, especially to Jewish youth.’ [2:60] Thus at the very time that Hitlerism was gaining ascendancy, the Zionist movement identified the left as the main danger!
Hitler described Zionism as a ‘great movement’ which had resolved his ‘indecision’ as to whether or not the Jews were a separate people. [A Hitler, Mein Kampf, James Murphy, April 1942, p. 41][op. cit. p.184] He certainly doubted Zionism’s ability or even sincerity in wishing to build a Jewish State in Palestine but he was no opponent. On the contrary Hitler supported those who saw ‘the utility of Zionism in a future National Socialist state.’ [2:72] In January 1938 Hitler made a specific commitment to continued Jewish emigration to Palestine.’ Hitler ruled that ‘Jewish emigration from Germany should continue to be promoted with all possible means, and it should be directed in the first instance to Palestine.’ [1:141] In the debates over Ha’avarah [Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement] Hitler consistently supported its continuance against growing opposition from the Interior and Foreign Ministries.
The SD (Security Service of the SS) main worry was the danger to Jewish emigration from Britain’s restrictive immigration policy in Palestine rather than an independent Jewish state. [2:140] As late as July 1939 Hitler was still firmly supportive of Ha’avarah and Jewish emigration to Palestine. [2:142]
General Gerhard Engel, an adjutant of Hitler, described in his Diaries how Hitler had planned in 1937 to send all of Germany’s Jewish population to Palestine but that the British had vetoed it. [1:142] In a letter to Nicosia Engel described how Hitler had come to favour the concentration of Jews over their dispersion. [2:143] Hitler and the SS were also those who were the last to discard emigration, in particular to Palestine, even after 1939. [2: 264]
On 16 January 1937 the Interior Ministry informed the Foreign Office ‘that it intended to promote Jewish emigration by all possible means, but without specifically favouring Palestine as had been done in the past.’ [1:114-115] (my emphasis) Clearly the Zionist movement, in Germany as elsewhere, had lobbied for emigration to be directed solely at Palestine. Carl Clodius of the Foreign Office ‘argued that German Jews in countries other than Palestine would ardently support the economic boycott against Germany…’ [1:120]
Anti-Semitism played little part in the victory of the Nazis. Between 1930 and 1933 they played it down. [2:74] There was ‘a reluctance’ on Hitler’s part to address the Jewish question between 1925 and 1933 because of ‘a general lack of voter appeal in anti-Semitism’. [n.52, 1:231]
Hitler made his position in respect of the British Empire and its role, in the Middle East clear, giving short shrift to those who would form an alliance with the oppressed nations:
… I as a German would far rather see India under British domination than under that of any other nation…. A coalition of cripples cannot attack a powerful State which is determined, if necessary, to shed the last drop of its blood to maintain its existence. To me, as a nationalist who appreciates the worth of the racial basis of humanity, I must recognize the racial inferiority of the so-called ‘Oppressed Nations’, and that is enough to prevent me from linking the destiny of my people with the destiny of those inferior races. [Mein Kampf, 363]
Nazi support for Arab nationalism and the rebellion in Palestine of 1936-9 was never forthcoming. [1:83] ‘Hitler’s hopes for an understanding with Britain precluded even the mildest form of moral support for an Arab nationalism aimed at loosening Britain’s grip on its share of the Levant.’ [1:181] And in any case Nazi racism put Arabs and Jews on an equal footing! [1:101]
The Nazis support of Zionism was partly because they also saw it as a white settler colonial movement. Leopold von Mildenstein, head of the SD’s Jewish department, went on a six-month visit to Palestine in 1933. This was followed, from 26th September to 9th October 1934, by a series of 12 articles in Goebbel’s paper Der Angriff. [Jacob Boas, A Nazi Travels to Palestine, History Today, January 1980, p.35] which waxed lyrical about Jewish settlement in Palestine.
Hanna Arendt tells how Mildenstein required his successor, Adolph Eichmann, to read Herzl’s Der Judenstaat which converted Eichmann to Zionism. Eichmann even protested against the desecration of Herzl’s grave in Vienna in 1939. [Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, pp. 40-41, Penguin, 1979] [1:61] Both Mildenstein and Eichmann attended the Zionist Congresses at Lucerne and Zurich in 1935 and 1937 as observers.
Wolff’s successor, Walter Dohle, reported, in January 1938, that because of its promotion of Jewish emigration, sympathy among Arabs for the Nazis was declining. [1:191]
Even though Foreign Minister Neurath had issued, on June 1 1937, policy guidelines raising for the first time the question of using the Arabs as a counter-weight to Zionism, the Foreign Office, sought to keep as much distance as possible between the Nazis and Arab Nationalism. [1:111] The Iraqi Prime Minister was rebuffed when he sought German support for opposition to the Peel Commission’s proposed Partition of Palestine. [1:123]
The Zionists’ relationship with the Nazis included the collaboration of Hagana agent, Feivel Polkes, who offered information about the Communist resistance to the Gestapo. Polkes ‘declared himself ready to gather information for Germany that did not conflict with his own political ends… he would vigorously support German foreign policy interests in the Middle East.’ [1:62]
In a memo of June 17 1937 the SD’s Jewish department Referat II/112 made it clear what the demands of the Zionists were:
‘Pressure will be exerted on the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland [the umbrella group for German Jewish organisations] to oblige Jews who emigrate from Germany to go exclusively to Palestine and not to other countries. A measure such as this is certainly in the German interest, and will be undertaken by the Gestapo…. Besides this, cash payments can be made to Polkes for his news gathering activities.’ [1: 63]
Nicosia concludes, with the benefit of hindsight, that since the Jews were doomed, the emigration of some 53,000 German Jews to Palestine justified the Zionist’s role. Indeed leading Zionists took this to its logical conclusion. Berl Katznelson, a leader of the Israeli Labour Party, saw the rise of Hitler as ‘… an opportunity to build and flourish like none we have ever had or ever will have.’ [2:91]
The Transfer Agreement (Ha’avara) in 1933 was agreed between the Zionist movement and the Nazis whereby German Jews leaving for Palestine could place their assets in a special frozen account in Germany which would purchase German goods. The goods would then be exported, payment for which would be deposited in an account held by Ha’avara Ltd in Tel Aviv.
Ha’avara was supported by the Nazis for one simple reason. It would fatally undermine that which they feared most – a Boycott of Nazi Germany. Germany’s economy was export dependent and as Edwin Black noted, ‘the volume of German goods sold abroad was already dangerously low. Germany simply could not stand further reductions.’ [op. cit. p.34 citing NYT 25.3.33., 20.3.33.], ‘The Reich Chancellery expressed alarm over the growing boycott movement.’ [2:83] From a high of 26.9 billion RM in 1929, foreign trade had dropped to 10.4 billion RM in 1932. [1:30] A report for Hitler of May 1935 on the prospects for future German foreign trade painted a bleak picture, because of protectionism but also because of the small but growing international boycott of German goods. [2:83]
Alarm was particularly expressed at the participation of non-Jewish businesses in the Boycott. ‘The Foreign Office was flooded with letters from German firms with branches abroad, expressing alarm over the intensity of anti-German feeling and propaganda over alleged atrocities against Jews in Germany.’ Yet at the very time that Nazis leaders were expressing their alarm over a Boycott, the Zionists stepped in to reassure them. If they could only reach an agreement over Ha’avarah and trade with Palestine, then they would put an end to all talk of Boycott. The Zionists relaxed the pressure on the Nazis precisely at the time, at the start of their rule, when it should have been used to maximum effect.
Goring summoned the leaders of the 3 major German Jewish groups to see him on 25 March 1933 and made it clear that Germany’s Jews were expected to speak out against a Boycott of Germany. [Black, 34] As Nicosia notes, ‘Clearly the boycott generated considerable fear in Berlin about its potential for severely disrupting the government’s economic policies.’ [83-4]
Germany’s Jewish leaders were ordered to a meeting with Goring on 25th March 1933. They were told to go to London, and then New York, to have the American Jewish Congress Boycott meeting in New York’s Madison Square Gardens on March 27th called off. [Black, 36]
The Boycott was extremely popular internationally. It has been adopted by the labour movement in the United States and the Nazis were terrified of what it could do to their exports.
Reich leaders realized that boycott agitation was accelerating, especially in Great Britain. Placards proclaiming BOYCOTT GERMAN GOODS spread infectiously throughout London, and were now in the windows of the most exclusive West End shops. [Black, 34]
Even the Archbishop of Liverpool urged Catholics to join the Boycott! But the Zionist movement was uninterested in a campaign to topple Hitler or protect Germany’s Jews. Even in Palestine Wolff warned that the momentum for a boycott of German goods was growing. [1:38]
What better way to undermine the Boycott than to proclaim that the Jews, of all people, were profiting most from trade with Germany? Wolff ‘was particularly assertive in his view that Palestine was the weapon with which Germany could wreck the boycott movement.’ [1:41]. In 1937 over 31m RM were transferred, [1: 213] but conditions were progressively tightened. [1:131] In 1936 and 1937, as a result of the Arab revolt, Jewish emigration to Palestine had slowed down and Ha’avara was no longer seen as effective in this regard. [1:136]
The Zionists’ role as scab agents for trade with Nazi Germany sealed the fate of the Boycott. Ha’avara resulted in Germany becoming the biggest exporter to Palestine, increasing from 4th to 1st place from 1933 to June 1937, accounting for 16.1% of all imports. Some 60% of investment in Jewish Palestine were from Nazi Germany! [David Rosenthall, Chaim Arlosoroff 65 Years After his Assassination, Jewish Frontier, May-June 1998, p. 28] Because Palestine was swamped with German goods, Ha’avara officials sought out other markets for them in the Middle East. [1:48]
In 1933 the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague avoided voting on resolutions supporting Haavara, whilst not supporting Boycott. Initially Berl Locker for the Zionist Executive denied all knowledge of Haavara. [1:53] In 1935 the 19th Congress at Lucerne rejected Boycott and endorsed Ha’avara.
Nicosia differentiates between the ‘reluctant’ collaboration of the mainstream Zionists and the enthusiastic collaboration of the German Revisionist leader, Kareski, who saw in Hitler’s ascendancy ‘a positive rather than a negative reality.’ [2:198] This is extremely weak since all wings of the Zionist movement saw their vindication in the rise of Hitler. In fact the Revisionists outside Germany, and Misrahi, were the only section of Zionism to oppose haavara and trading with Nazi Germany.
Nicosia tries to justify the Zionist role in Nazi Germany by arguing that they ‘were not spared the treatment meted out to non-Zionist Jewish organisations.’ [2: 100/101] But this was not true. And even were it so, a sharp differentiation has to be made between Zionism as a political movement and Zionists as individuals.
In a memo of 24 May 1934. Heydrich argued that the Zionist organisations should receive ‘preferential treatment’ compared to the assimilationists. The SD spoke of ‘the severest measures be taken against all assimilationist efforts among the Jews, and that the strongest support be given to all Zionist organizations.’ [2:136]
Heydrich on 10th February 1935 prohibited speeches that encouraged Jews to remain in Germany, culminating in a Gestapo ban on all speeches and meetings of Jewish organisations, the Zionists excepted. And with the banning of all Jewish assimilationist groups later in 1935, ‘Zionist groups were the only ones of a political nature that were allowed to continue functioning.’ [1:57]
Heydrich’s directive of 28 January 1935 stipulated that the Zionist organisations ‘are not to be treated with that strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of the so-called German-Jewish organizations (assimilationists).’ [War Against the Jews, 118-119, Pelican, 1975] Even on an individual level, the Zionists received preferential treatment. In November 1938, in Berlin and Vienna, ‘the SS ordered the release from jail of all Jews arrested during the Kristallnacht pogrom who were in any way connected with the Palastinaamt.’ [2: 140, 177-8; 1:160]
Nicosia’s assertions to the contrary are contradicted by his own evidence. He himself describes how non-Zionist or anti-Zionist Jewish organisations ‘were specifically targeted and closely scrutinized for any indication that they might seek to promote assimilationist or deutschnationale agendas’ whereas police reports on Zionist events ‘usually mentioned with satisfaction that assimilationist tendencies were not in evidence.’ [2:118]
The paper of the SS, Schwarze Korps, argued that the Jews had to be separated into 2 categories – Zionists and assimilationists.
‘The enactment of the Nuremberg Laws encouraged this approach. The Zionists and proponents of emigration to Palestine were less badgered in their activities by the police and the SD than the non-Zionists.’ [Dawidowicz 118] Exceptionally the Revisionist Zionist National Youth Herzlia was allowed to wear its own uniforms. [2:122; 1:56]
Jewish ‘expert’, Bernard Lohsener, who drafted the Nuremberg Laws and the definition of ‘who is a Jew’, [Raul Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews, Vol. I, 3rd edition, pp. 68-9] wrote in the introduction to the Nuremburg Laws that
‘Among convinced Zionists one finds the least amount of opposition to the basic ideas of the Nuremberg Laws because they [the Zionists] know immediately that they offer the only feasible solution for the Jewish people as well, and because they know … the Jewish people has existed for millennia and has remained strong because it has maintained the purity of its blood…’ [2:108]
German Zionist leader Rabbi Joachim Prinz explained that ‘It was morally disturbing to seem to be considered as the favored 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 behavior.’ [“Zionism Under the Nazi Government” The New Palestine, September 17, 1973 cited in Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis’ p. 101, Barricade, 2002]
Nicosia is therefore right when he asserts that the Zionists ‘were nothing more than convenient tools for facilitating the removal of Jews from Germany.’ [2: 206] and that ‘After 1933, the Zionist movement became a vehicle through which German exports were promoted…’ [1:37]
One feature of Zionist policy has always been opposition to Jewish emigration to countries other than Israel. During the Soviet Jewry campaign Zionist leaders were also clear that rescue should be solely to Palestine. Nicosia glosses over the fact that under the Nazis, the Zionist movement pursued this policy. [2:125] ‘the CV criticized what it believed to be the efforts of the ZVfD to direct Jewish emigration exclusively to Palestine at the expense of other suitable destinations.’ [2:168, citing C.V.-Zeitung, 13.10.1935.] This gives the lie to the argument that Ha’avara was designed to rescue Jews.
With the exception of 1939, in no year had German Jews, or those from the Greater German Reich, formed a majority of Palestinian immigrants. [2:270] Between 1933 and 1935 over 6,000 immigration certificates went to American, British, Turkish and other Jews. [Brenner, Dictators, p. 145] Of the more than ¼ million Jews from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia who escaped between the beginning of 1938 and September 1939, less than 40,000 went to Palestine. [2: 274] Yet the German Zionists had sought to block escape to any other country, despite the inability of Palestine to absorb more immigrants. Or to put it in context, between 1933 and 1941, of the more than half a million Jews who managed to escape from Greater Germany, some 10% went to Palestine. When one considers that between ¾ million and 1.5 million Jews are believed to have survived the Nazi holocaust in the Ukraine and Poland by fleeing into Russia, then despite the failures of Stalinism, the creation of the Soviet Union led to between 15 and 30 times more Jews escaping than the Zionist project. [2: 283]
Between 1933 and 1937, just 23% of Jewish immigration to Palestine was German. Only once in 1939, were a majority of immigrants (52%) Jewish. Hidden away in the footnotes, Nicosia observes that ‘While the number of Jewish immigrants into Palestinian from Germany increased sharply in 1938 and 1939 after a steep decline in 1937, the amount of Jewish capital transferred to Palestinian via Ha’avara decreased considerably during those two years.’ [n. 109, 1: 262]
In 1937, the year when trade between Palestine and Germany peaked at over 31 million RM, the number of Jews immigrating from Germany was at an all-time low of 3,700. [1: 212-213] The influence of Ha’avara on the number of immigrants was marginal but its benefits for the Zionist economy were immense.
The information that Nicosia researched confirms much that was already known about the attitude of the Nazis towards Zionism. He also confirms, despite his best endeavours, that Zionism was a movement of collaboration. The followers of Zionism were individuals who moved politically between Zionism and political movements to its left. It was the failure of the Left in Europe that led to Jews supporting a Jewish volkish nationalism. And as the war approached in Poland, where over 3 million Jews lived and where the fight against anti-Semitism intensified, Jews abandoned Zionism which they saw as merely a reflection of anti-Semitism.