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The myth of Zionist anti-Fascism

In 1941, Yitzhak Shamir committed "an unforgivable crime from the moral point of view: he preached an alliance with Hitler, with Nazi Germany, against Great Britain." Source : Bar Zohar. "Le prophète armé-- : Ben Gourion." (Fayard. Paris 1966, p.99.) When the war against Hitler began, almost all the Jewish organizations joined forces with the Allies and some of the most eminent leaders, such as Weizmann, declared themselves on the allied side; but the German Zionist group, though it was a small minority at the time, took the opposite side : from 1933 to 1941, it was committed to a policy of compromise and even of collaboration with Hitler. The Nazi authorities, even while they persecuted the Jews, for example by dismissing them from the Civil Service, kept contact with the Zionist leaders, granting them special treatment and distinguishing them from the "integrationist" Jews they were hunting down.

The accusation of collusion with the Hitlerian authorities does not therefore apply to the immense majority of Jews; these had not even waited until the war to fight Fascism with weapons, as they did in Spain from 1936 to 1939 as members of the International brigades, all the way to the Warsaw ghetto where the fighters of the "Jewish Committee" showed that they knew how to die in battle.

But the highly organized minority of Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis for eight years. Their one goal was to create a powerful Jewish State, while their racist vision of the world made them more anti-British than anti-Nazi.

On September 5th 1939, two days after the Anglo-French declaration of war on Germany, Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency, wrote to the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. In his letter, he declared : "We Jews are on the side of Great Britain, and shall fight for democracy." He added that "the Jewish representatives are ready to sign an immediate agreement to allow the use of all their resources in men, techniques, material aid and all their capacities." This letter was printed in "The Jewish Chronicle" of September 8th, 1939 ; it was a genuine declaration of war on Germany by the Jewish people and raised the problem of internment of all Jews in Germany within concentration camps as "citizens of a nation at war with Germany."

In the days of Hitler and Mussolini, the Zionist leaders behaved in an ambivalent way with regards to Fascism, at times sabotaging the anti-Fascist struggle and even attempting to collaborate at others. The fundamental aim of the Zionists was not to save Jewish lives but to create a Jewish state in Palestine. Ben Gurion, Israel's first head of State, declared outright to the "Labor" Zionists on December 7th 1938 :

"If I knew it was possible to save all the children in Germany by taking them to England, and only half of the children by taking them to Eretz Israel, I would choose the second solution. For we must take into account not only the lives of these children but also the history of the people of Israel."

Source : Yvon Gelbner, "Zionist policy and the fate of European Jewry", in Yad Vashem studies (Jerusalem, vol. XII, p. 199). "The saving of the Jews in Europe did not figure at the head of the list of priorities of the ruling class. It was the foundation of the State which was primordial in their eyes."

Source : Tom Segev. "Le septième million" Ed. Liana Levi, Paris, 1993, p.539" (...) Must we help all those who need it without taking into account the characteristics of each one? Must we not give this action a national Zionist character and attempt to give priority to the saving of those who can be useful to the Land of Israel and to Judaism? I know it may seem cruel to pose the question in this way, but unfortunately we must establish clearly that if we are able to save 10,000 people out of the 50,000 people who can contribute to the construction of the land and to the national rebirth, or else a million Jews who will become a burden for us or at best a dead weight, we must restrict ourselves to the saving of the 10,000 who can be saved - despite the accusations and the appeals of the million left behind."

Source : Memorandum of the "Salvation Committee" of the Jewish Agency. 1943. Quoted by Tom Segev. Op. cit. p.124. It was this fanaticism which inspired, for instance, the attitude of the Zionist delegation at the Evian conference of July 1938, where 31 nations had gathered to discuss the absorption of refugees from Nazi Germany : the Zionist delegation demanded, as the only possible solution, the admission of 200,000 Jews to Palestine.

The Jewish state was more important than the lives of Jews.

As far as the Zionist leaders were concerned, the worst enemy was "assimilation". In this they resembled the Hitlerians as do all racists, for whom the fundamental preoccupation is purity of blood. This is why the Hitlerians regarded the Zionists as valid interlocutors who served their designs, insofar as Hitler's ultimate goal was to rid Germany, and later Europe, of all Jews. We have proof of this collusion between Nazis and Zionists.

In a memorandum of June 21st 1933 to the Nazi party, the "Zionist Federation of Germany" expressed itself as follows :

"In the foundation of the new State, which has proclaimed the race principle, we wish to adapt our community to these new structures... Our recognition of the Jewish nationality allows us to establish clear and sincere relations with the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not want to underestimate these fundamental principles, because we too are against mixed marriages and for the maintaining of the purity of the Jewish group...The Jews who are conscious of their identity and in whose name we speak, can find a place within the structure of the German State, for they are free of the resentment that the assimilated Jews must feel;...we believe in the possibility of loyal relations between those Jews conscious of their community and the German State.

To attain its practical objectives, Zionism hopes it will be able to collaborate with a government that is fundamentally hostile to the Jews....The realization of Zionism is impeded only by the resentment of Jews from without against the present German orientation The propaganda in favor of Zionism currently aimed against Germany is essentially non-Zionist... "

Source : Lucy Dawidovitch, "A Holocaust reader", p. 155. The memorandum added that "should the Germans accept the cooperation of the Zionists, these would try to dissuade Jews abroad from supporting the anti-German boycott."

Source : Lucy Dawidovitch : "The war against Jews (1933-1945)" Penguin books. 1977. p.231-232 The Hitlerian leaders were well-disposed towards the Zionists, whose exclusive aim was to create a state in Palestine, thus favoring their own designs to get rid of the Jews. Alfred Rosenberg, the chief Nazi theoretician, wrote :

"Zionism must be vigorously backed so that a yearly contingent of German Jews shall be transported to Palestine."

Source : A. Rosenberg : "Die Spur des juden im Wandel der Zeiten". Munich 1937. p.153. Reinhardt Heydrich, who was later to become "Protector" of Czechoslovakia, wrote in Das Schwarze Korps, the official organ of the S.S. in 1935, when he was head of the S.S. security. In an article entitled "The invisible enemy", he made a distinction between two kinds of Jews :

"We must separate the Jews into two categories, the Zionists and the partisans of assimilation. The Zionists profess a strictly racial concept and, through emigration to Palestine, they help to build their own Jewish State...our good wishes and our official goodwill go with them."

Source : Hohne. "Order of the Death's Head", p.333. "The German Betarreceived a new name: Herzlia. The activities of the movement in Germany had to obtain, of course, the approval of the Gestapo; in fact, Herzlia acted under the protection of the Gestapo. One day, a group of SS attacked a Betar summer camp. The head of the movement then complained to the Gestapo and, a few days later, the secret police declared that the SS in question had been punished. The Gestapo asked the Betar what compensation would seem most adequate. The movement asked that the recent prohibition that had struck them, forbidding them to wear brown shirts, be lifted; their request was granted."

Source : Ben-Yeruham, "Le livre de Betar" T.II, p. 350. A circular issued by the Wilhelmstrasse indicated :

"The goals that this category of Jews have set themselves (those Jews who oppose assimilation and favor a regrouping of their co-religionaries within a nation), with the Zionists in the front rank,are those least distant from the goals pursued in reality by Germany's policy towards the Jews."

Source : Circular letter by Bulow-Schwante to all the Reich diplomatic missions. #83. February 28,1934. "There is no reason," wrote Bulow-Schwante to the Ministry of the Interior,"to impede by administrative measures the Zionist activity in Germany ; for Zionism is not in conflict with the National-Socialist program, whose object is to make the Jews leave Germany progressively."

Source : Letter number ZU 83-21. 28/8, April 13, 1935. These directives confirmed previous measures and were applied scrupulously. By virtue of the privileged status of Zionism in Germany, the Bavarian Gestapo addressed the following circular to the police on January 28,1935: "By reason of their activity orientated towards emigration to Palestine, the members of the Zionist organization must not be treated with the harshness needed in dealing with the members of German Jewish (assimilationist) organizations."

Source : Kurt Grossmann : "Sionistes et non sionistes sous la loi nazie dans les années 30" Yearbook.Vol.VI, p.310. "The Zionist organization of German Jews had a legal existence until 1938, five years after the advent of Hitler....

The "Judaiche Rundschau" (the German Zionist newspaper) came out until 1938."

Source : Leibowitz : "Israel et Judaisme". Ed. Desclée de Brouwer, 1993. p.116. In exchange for their official recognition as sole representatives of the Jewish community, the Zionist leaders offered to break the boycott which the world anti-Fascists were trying to organize.

Economic collaboration began in 1933 : two companies were created : the "Haavara Company" at Tel Aviv and the "Paltreu", in Berlin.

The mechanism of the operation was the following : a Jew wanting to emigrate would deposit a minimum of 1,000 pounds sterling at the Wasserman Bank in Berlin or in the Warburg bank in Hamburg. With this sum, Jewish exporters could buy German goods for Palestine, and pay the corresponding amount in Palestinian pounds into the Haavara account at the Anglo-Palestine Bank at Tel Aviv. When the immigrant arrived in Palestine, he received the equivalent of the sum he had deposited in Germany.

Several future Israeli prime ministers took part in the "haavara" undertaking, including Ben Gurion, Moshe Sharret (who was then called Moshe Shertok), Golda Meir (who supported it from New York), and Levi Eshkol, who was its representative in Berlin.

Source: "Ben Gourion et Shertok, dans Black": L'accord de la "havaara", p.294. Quoted by Tom Segev in "Le septieme million", (Ed. Liana Levi. French translation. 1993, p. 30 and 595). The operation was advantageous for both parties : the Nazis thus succeeded in breaking the blockade (the Zionists managed to sell German merchandise even in Britain); whereas the Zionists were able to operate the "selective" immigration they desired : only millionaires were able to emigrate, their capital providing the funds needed to develop Zionist colonization in Palestine. In accordance with the goals of Zionism, it was more important to save Jewish capital from Nazi Germany that would permit the development of their undertaking, than to save the lives of poor Jews, unable to work or fight, who would have been a burden.

This policy of collaboration lasted until 1941, in other words eight years after Hitler's rise to power. Eichmann liaisoned with Kastner. The Eichmann trial revealed to some extent the mechanism of this connivance, of these "exchanges" between Zionist Jews "useful" to the creation of a Jewish State (wealthy personalities, technicians and youngsters who could serve to reinforce an army, etc.). with a mass of Jews who, being less favored, were left in Hitler's clutches.

The president of the committee, Ytzhak Gruenbaum, declared on January 18, 1943 :

"Zionism comes before everything else.. "

"They're going to say I'm an anti-Semite," Gruenbaum answered, "that I don't want to save the Exile, that I don't have a Warm Yiddish heart (...) Let them say what they want. I won't demand the sum of 300,000 or 100,000 pounds sterling to help European Judaism. And I think that whoever demands such things accomplishes an anti-Zionist action."

Source : Gruenbaum: "Jours de destruction", p. 68. This was also Ben Gourion's point of view:

"The Zionist's task is not to save the "rest" of Israel which finds itself in Europe, but to save the land of Israel for the Jewish people." (Quoted by Tom Segev. op.cit.p.158.)

"The leaders of the Jewish Agency agreed on the fact that the minority which could be saved had to be chosen according to the needs of the Zionist project in Palestine."

Source: Idem p.125. The conclusion of Isaiah Trunk's book : "Judenrat" (MacMillan, New York 1972) was that:

"According to Freudiger's calculations, fifty percent of the Jews could have escaped if they had not followed the instructions of the Jewish councils." (p.141) Significantly, at the time of the 50 th anniversary of the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto, Yitzhak Rabin asked Lech Walesa not to let one of the co-leaders of the insurrection, Marek Edelman, make a speech.

In 1993, Marek Edelman had been interviewed by Edward Alter for the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz". In this interview, he recalled those who had been the true instigators and heroes of the Warsaw ghetto's "Jewish fighters' committee" :

"Socialists of the Bund, anti-Zionists, Communists, Trotskyites, Mihal Rosenfeld, Mala Zimetbaum, Edelman and a minority of Left-wing Zionists from the Poalei Zion and the Hashomer Hatzair."

"It was they who fought against the Nazis with weapons, as did the Jewish volunteers in the international brigades of Spain. Over 30% of the Americans in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were Jews, who were attacked at the time by the Zionist press because they fought in Spain instead of going to Palestine."

Source : "Jewish Life", April 1938, p. 11. 2,250 of the fighters in the Polish Dombrovski brigade, out of a total of 5,000 Poles, were Jews.

These heroic Jews fought on all fronts side by side with the antiFascist forces of the world. And yet, the Zionist leaders declared in an article by their London representatives entitled : "Must Jews take part in the anti-Fascist movements?" "NO !...", setting a single goal : "the construction of the land of Israel".

In his autobiography, the President of the World Zionist Organization, Nahum Goldman, described his dramatic meeting with the Czech Prime Minister, Edward Benes, in 1935. Benes accused the Zionists of having broken the boycott of Hitler with the "Ha'avara" (the transfer agreements) and blamed the refusal of the world Zionist Organization to organize resistance against the Nazis.

"I have had to take part in many painful meetings in my life, but I have never felt as miserable and ashamed as during those two hours. I felt with every fibre of my being that Benes was right."

Source : Nahum Goldman."Autobiographie", op.cit. pp. 157- 158. Ibid, p.260. The Zionists, counting on Mussolini's hostility to England, established contact with him as early as 1922. He had received them after his march on Rome in October, on December 20th 1922.

Source : Ruth Bondy, "The Emissary: a life of Enzo Sereni" (p.45). Mussolini received Weizman on January 3rd 1923, and another time on September 17th 1926; Nahum Goldman, president of the World Zionist Organization, had a meeting with Mussolini on October 26th,1927, where the Italian leader told him : "I will help you to create this Jewish state." (Nahum Goldman : "Autobiographie", op.cit.p.170)

This collaboration was already a form of sabotage against the international anti-Fascist struggle. It subordinated the entire Zionist policy to the sole design of building a Jewish state in Palestine. Its design remained unaltered during the war, even when Hitler's persecution of European Jews was at its worst.

When the Jews were deported from Hungary, Rudolf Kastner, the vice-president of the Zionist organization, negotiated with Eichmann on the following basis : if Eichmann allowed the departure to Palestine of 1,684 "useful" Jews who would help in the construction of the future state of Israel (capitalists, technicians, soldiers, etc...) Kastner would allow Eichmann to make 460,000 Hungarian believe that they were not being deported to Auchwitz but simply being transferred.

At the time of the Eichmann trial, Judge Halevi recalled that Kastner had intervened on behalf of one of his Nazi interlocutors : one of Himmler's henchmen, Standarten feurher Kurt Becher, escaped punishment thanks to Kastner's testimony at the Nuremberg Trial.

The Judge was formal :

"There was no truth or good faith in Kastner's testimony...Kastner deliberately committed perjury in his testimony before this court when he denied that he had intervened on behalf of Becher. Furthermore, he concealed this vital fact : his action on behalf of Becher was made in the name of the Jewish Agency and the World Jewish Congress...It is clear that Kastner's recommendation was not made on a personal basis but also in the name of the Jewish Agency and the World Jewish Congress...and this is why Becher was released by the Allies." After the verdict, Israeli opinion was shaken. In the newspaper "Haaretz", Dr. Moshe Keren wrote on July 14th 1955 :"Kastner must be tried for collaboration with the Nazis..." But the evening paper "Yediot Aharonot" (23rd June,1955) clearly explained why this was impossible. "If Kastner is tried, the entire government might collapse before the nation, following what this trial will uncover."

Adopted from the book: "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics" by: "Roger Garaudy"

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