51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With the Nazis
Edited by Lenni Brenner
Barricade Books. New Jersey, 2002
Available from amazon.com
Lenni Brenner was raised in an orthodox Jewish family. He was active in the civil rights and antiwar movements in the 1960s and is a revolutionary socialist. He is the co-author of Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity (2013), and the author of The Politics of Anti-Semitism (2003) and other works.
His edited volume, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With the Nazis is important reading today in the context of the United States-backed Israeli genocidal war in Gaza.
It was first published in 2002, but received little notice by mainstream or left publications, but current events warrant that that be corrected.
The book is a collection of documents from the different wings of Zionism, Nazi and other sources that Brenner collected and had translated into English when necessary. Brenner gives short introductions to each document, but lets them speak for themselves.
Brenner introduces the book, writing: “This book presents 51 historic documents to indict Zionism for repeated attempts to collaborate with Adolph Hitler. The evidence, not I, will convince you of the truth of the issue.”
Theodore Herzl was the founding leader of the Zionist Organization (which became the World Zionist Organization, WZO) in 1897, in a conference of European Zionist groups held in Basel, Switzerland.
Herzl held that the the presence of Jews in Christian Europe caused antisemitism, and that the governments of Europe “will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want” by aiding Jews to emigrate to Palestine and establish a new Jewish state on the land of ancient Israel, arguing “the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies”.
A document that appears early in Brenner’s collection is by Russian Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky, written in 1923, which argues that the Arabs in Palestine would never submit to the Zionist settler-colonialist project, and that it would need the support of an “outside Power” to subdue them.
Arch defender of the British Empire, Winston Churchill’s piece from 1920 — “Zionism Versus Bolshevism. A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People” — argues there is a conflict between “good and bad Jews” — the nationalists and the internationalists.
The section on “World Zionist Organization and Nazism before the Holocaust” includes a June 1933 proposal from the German Zionist Federation (GZF) to the Nazi regime that took power in Germany in January, 1933.
In it, the GZF proposes to collaborate with the Nazi state, arguing that “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”.
The GZF proposal argues that Zionism would be hurt by “resentment abroad against the German development. Boycott propaganda — such as is carried on against Germany in many ways — is in essence unZionist…”
The concrete agreement that emerged as a result of this collaboration was to transfer German Jewish money and goods to German Jewish immigrants in Palestine through the Ha Avara Pact.
The WZO ratified the GZF’s position and raised an argument — repeated in other documents in the book — that the “traditional” Jewish tactic of protesting for rights came from the “Ghetto” way of thinking and had to be replaced by the “real” solution of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine.
Brenner includes a number of documents along these lines. A history has shown, all hopes of accommodation between German Jews and the Nazis were dashed in the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms across Germany and later the Holocaust.
Fourteen of the documents in Brenner’s book refer to the split in the Zionist movement and the formation of the (openly fascist) Zionist Revisionists led by Jabotinsky. The official group eventually became the Labor Zionists, with socialist trappings.
Baron Mildenstein was a Nazi who visited Zionist settlers in Palestine in 1934. To commemorate his expedition, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels had a medal struck. On one side was the swastika, on the other, the Zionist star.
The baron wrote a 12-part report on his trip for Goebbels’ Nazi Party organ, Der Angriff (The Attack). His first article, reprinted in Brenner’s book, demonstrates that everyone, Nazis, Italian Fascists, leftists and other Zionists recognised the Revisionists as fascist.
The head of the Jewish Agency in Palestine who negotiated the Ha Avara pact was assassinated in June, 1933, by a Revisionist, who was captured by the police, but acquitted on a legal technicality. The legal system in Palestine remained a Turkish system, despite Britain being granted a “mandate” by the League of Nations over Palestine when the Turkish Ottoman Empire was defeated in WWI.
One Revisionist, Georg Kareski, accepted an office under the Nazi government as Reich Commissioner for Jewish Cultural Affairs. A 1936 article in the London-based Jewish Chronicle comments on an interview with Kareski in Goebbel’s Der Angriff.
The Revisionists were especially enamoured with the Italian fascist government. They enrolled Revisionist youth in Mussolini’s maritime academy for the training of naval officers. Revisionist members of the Blackshirts University Fascist Youth became part of the founding cadre of the future Israeli navy.
The Revisionists in Palestine had an armed wing, the National Military Organization (Irgun Zvai Leumi, IZL/NMO). It split in 1940, with one side led by Avraham Stern claiming to be the “real” Irgun.
Later that year, Stern made a proposal in the name of the NMO to Nazi Germany, which said, in part, “The NMO, which is well acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and toward Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that:
“1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO.
“2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed folkish-national Hebraium would be possible and,
“3. The establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.
“Under these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side.”
This proposal never reached Germany. Stern’s group changed its name, but became known as the “Stern Gang”. The other fascist wing kept the name of the Irgun, and Menachem Begin became its leader.
Another document is a December 4, 1948 letter to the editor of the New York Times warning of a visit to the US by Begin. The letter was signed by over two dozen Jewish leaders. Three names I recognised were Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein and Sydney Hook.
The letter said, in part: “Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the ‘Freedom Party’ … a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing chauvinist organization in Palestine.”
The letter named Begin as the party’s leader, and warned not to be taken in by the party’s current claims of being for democracy, but to look at its record.
“A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin” (some months before the letter) on April 9, 1948, during the Arab-Israeli war, when the Irgun and the Stern Gang “attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants — 240 men, women and children — and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem”.
The letter says “within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.
“During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and widespread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and extracted a heavy tribute.”
The first governments of Israel were formed by the Labor Zionists. However, former Revisionists were brought into the new regime. Begin’s party absorbed former Stern people, and he was elected to the first Knesset (parliament), and went on to form the Likud rightist party (currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu) and Begin was elected Prime Minister in 1977. The same year, Israel issued a commemorative postage stamp honouring Stern.
Labor Zionism has all but disappeared, and the current Israel government, leading the genocidal war against the people of Gaza, is the most right-wing in Israel’s history.
[51 Documents can be ordered from amazon.com, along with Brenner’s other titles.]