Thursday, 6 April 2017

Truth and alternative truth over Nazis and Zionism in 1930s Germany

I have tried to follow the argument made against Ken Livingstone, now leading to a 100  Labour MPs calling for his expulsion from their party for his alleged anti-semitic views.(“Corbyn faces revolt over Livingstone," 6 April;


Your leader on antisemitism, “Labour  has put Ken Livingstone ahead of a fundamental principle, (Opinion, 6 April; accuses Mr Livingstone of presenting a “grotesque misreading of history”

And talks of him perpetrating something designated as “vindictive revisionism.”

I am neither Jewish  nor a  historian, but I am a professional researcher. I  have tried to understand the basis of the Nazi - Zionist nexus in the1930s that Livingstone insists is historically true. I searched the on line documentation publicly  accessible and  found the following  in  two Jewish archives.


In the summer of 1933, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the German Zionist

Federation, and the German Economics Ministry drafted a plan meant to allow

German Jews emigrating to Palestine to retain some of the value of their property in

Germany by purchasing German goods for the Yishuv, which would redeem them in

Palestine local currency. This scheme, known as the Transfer Agreement or

Ha’avarah, met the needs of all interested parties: German Jews, the German

economy, and the Mandatory Government and the Yishuv in Palestine…

In retrospect, and in view of what we know about the annihilation of European Jewry,

these relations between the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany seem especially

problematic. Even then, however, the negotiations and the agreement they spawned

were profoundly controversial in broad Jewish circles. For this reason, until 1935 the

Jewish Agency masked its role in the Agreement and attempted to pass it off as an

economic agreement between private parties.”


One of the German authorities’ principal goals in negotiating with the Zionist

movement was to fragment the Jewish boycott of German goods. Although in

retrospect we know the boycott had only a marginal effect on German economic

development in the 1930s, at the time it was perceived as a genuine threat.

Correspondence between Heinrich Wolff, the German consul in Palestine, and the

German Foreign Ministry shows that shattering the boycott was a key motive for the

German authorities in concluding the Transfer Agreement.3 In the absence of precise

information concerning the Yishuv’s standing in the international boycott movement,

some tended to believe that a considerable economic impact could be achieved by

concluding a contract with the Palestinian Yishuv. Nobody doubted the moral weight

that breaking the boycott in the Yishuv would carry for world Jewry.

The Jewish movement to boycott German goods was foremost among the efforts of

international Jewish organizations on behalf of German Jewry, and Jewish

communities worldwide, especially in the United States, France, and Great Britain,

took part in it

(The Transfer Agreement and the Boycott Movement: A Jewish Dilemma on the Eve of the Holocaust, by Yf’aat Weiss; Shoah Resource Center, The International 2/33 School for Holocaust Studies;



Another  document  in the archive of the US National Holocaust  Memorial  museum in Washington DC on Chaim Weizmann, the  president of the World Zionist Organization during the Nazi era and the first president of Israel, records the following:


“In August 1933, the Zionist Congress nominated Weizmann, to head the Jewish Agency's Department for the settlement of German Refugees. His first action was to try to coordinate and streamline all Jewish relief activities. His efforts met with little success. Weizmann opposed mere philanthropy; he always wished to bring about an organized, carefully controlled immigration of German Jews and other refugees to Palestine. Nevertheless, in light of the increased persecution of German Jews, he did not adopt a rigid policy. On the contrary, he hoped that a large influx of immigrants would greatly enhance the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. He felt that the young Jews, who had no future in Germany, should be given preference and that as much of their property as was possible to save ought to be transferred to Palestine. Although he was not personally involved in the details of the Haavara agreement, he supported it.

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