Zionism’s Record During the Holocaust

Please read the article, ‘Paul Bogdanor and the Zionist three card trick,’ in full on Tony Greenstein’s blog.

When Bogdanor’s article An Antisemitic Hoax: Lenni Brenner on Zionist ‘Collaboration’ With the Nazis appeared I wrote a response Why Ken Livingstone Got It Right Over Nazi Support for Zionism which showed why Bogdanor’s article was based on a series of lies and distortions.  Bogdanor was stung into writing a rejoinder, Tony Greenstein’s House of Cards, which has been published on the pro-war and Islamaphobic Harry’s Place, the Der Sturmer of the Internet, which specialises in demonising people on the Left like Livingstone and Galloway.

Judische Rundschau the Zionist paper carried the slogan 'Wear the Yellow Start with Pride'
Judische Rundschau the Zionist paper carried the slogan ‘Wear the Yellow Start with Pride’

Bogdanor’s writing is reminiscent of the vitriol employed against Hannah Arendt, herself a Jewish refugee from Nazism and Ben Hecht.  Hecht was a Revisionist Zionist who was so appalled by Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in Hungary and the indifference of American Zionists to the Rescue of Jews, that he wrote a devastating book ‘Perfidyabout Israel’s Kasztner’s trial.

Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem – the Banality of Evil was based on a series of 5 articles in the New Yorker.  The book touched on subjects such as the relationship between the Zionist movement and the Nazis in Hungary, the record of Kasztner, the leader of Hungarian Zionism and the Jewish leadership under Nazi occupation, which the Eichmann trial had studiously avoided. 

… the campaign, conducted with all the well-known means of image-making and opinion-manipulation, got much more attention than the controversy…. (it was) as though the pieces written against the book (and more frequently against its author) came “out of a mimeographing machine” (Mary McCarthy)… the clamor centered on the “image” of a book which was never written, and touched upon subjects that often had not only not been mentioned by me but had never occurred to me before.”

Shooting the messenger has always been the Zionist modus operandi. Apparently Arendt had claimed that ‘the Jews had murdered themselves.’ Why had she told ‘such a monstrously implausible lie?  Out of “self-hatred” of course.’

Marek Edelman, the commander of the Jewish Fighting Organisation in Warsaw, ZOB, was not invited to testify at the Eichmann trial because he was not a Zionist.  He had been a member of the anti-Zionist Bund, which had led the resistance.  Likewise Rudolf Vrba, the Jewish escapee from Auschwitz, whose Auschwitz Protocols had helped save 200,000 Hungarian Jews, was also not invited to testify because he too was not a Zionist.  As Ruth Linn, a Professor at Haifa University, explained ‘More than 35 years later… a prominent Israeli Holocaust historian explained to me that    “Vrba was probably not invited since the State of Israel had no money to sponsor the flight.’ even though witnesses from further afield had their fares paid. Even Andrew Biss, the friend of Rudolf Kasztner, the former head of Va’ada, the Zionist Rescue & Relief Committee in Budapest, was not invited to testify, because he intended to defend Kasztner.  Those stage managing the Eichmann trial were determined to keep the Kasztner saga out of the courtroom.

Bogdanor’s accusation that I deny ‘Irving style that Zionists were victims in the Nazi concentration camps.’ is a good example of his style and method.  Of course I said no such thing.  What I did say was that after the arrest of thousands of Jews in the wake of the Kristallnacht pogrom (November 9-10 1938), the Nazis very quickly released Jews who were Zionists.  As Israeli historian, Tom Segev wrote: “In Berlin and in Vienna, the SD ordered the release from jail of all Jews arrested during the Kristallnacht pogrom who were in any way connected with the Palastinaamt.’

Of course when it came to murdering Jews, the Nazis didn’t distinguish between Zionist, non-Zionist or anti-Zionist Jews, religious or secular.  That is why the efforts of the Zionist movement to present itself as a movement that the Nazis could work with was so pathetic.  When the Holocaust began, in June 1941, in the wake of the invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, all Jews in the conquered Russian territories were targets of the Einsatzgruppen death squads.  However that doesn’t absolve the Zionist movement from accusations of collaboration.

Zionist acceptance of Nazi ideas of racial separation reached ludicrous heights when Robert Weltsch’s editorial in the German Zionist Federation [ZVfD] paper came out with the headline ‘Wear it With Pride, the Yellow Badge’ on 4th April 1933, eight years before the yellow star became compulsory. 

Bogdanor’s response is illustrative of his method.  If you mention that the Zionists were given more favourable treatment than non-Zionists before the holocaust began, this immediately becomes an allegation that no Zionists died in the extermination camps.  Despite his anti-Stalinism Bogdanor is a polished performer of their dark arts.

Background to Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis

The behaviour of the Zionist movement during the Nazi period was neither exceptional nor an aberration.  From its inception the Zionist movement differed from all other Jewish reactions to anti-Semitism.  Zionism accepted that the Jews were strangers in other people’s lands. Leo Pinsker, founder of the Lovers of Zion, held that ‘Judaephobia is then a mental disease, and as a mental disease it is hereditary, and having been inherited for 2,000 years, it is incurable.’   If anti-Semitism was incurable, there was no point combating it. Chaim Weizmann, the longstanding President of the Zionist Organisation and first President of the Israeli state wrote, ‘Whenever the quantity of Jews in any country reaches the saturation point, that country reacts against them….The determining factor in this matter is not the solubility of the Jews but the solvent power of the country.  England had reached the point when she could or would absorb so many Jews and no more…. The reaction against this [Jewish immigration] cannot be looked upon as anti-Semitism in the ordinary or vulgar sense of that word.’  For Zionism anti-Semitism was a natural phenomenon and its cause was the Jews themselves.  Weizmann wrote of Sir William Evans-Gordon, the founder of the anti-Semitic British Brothers League, that he had no particular anti-Semitic prejudices.  He acted, as he thought, according to his best lights and in the most kindly way, in the interests of his country…. he was sincerely ready to encourage any settlement of Jews almost anywhere in the British Empire, but he failed to see why the ghettos of London or Leeds or Whitechapel should be made into a branch of the ghettos of Warsaw and Pinsk.’

Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, remarked that wherever the Jews went they would ‘either introduce Anti-Semitism where it does not exist or intensify it where it does.’  Zionism hated Emancipation, because it led to assimilation.  where Anti-Semitism prevails it does so as a result of   the emancipation of the Jews.  Herzl accepted that ‘It might more reasonably be objected that I am giving a handle to Anti-Semitism when I say we are a people – one people;.  It was an anti-Semitic trope that the Jews formed a nation separate from those amongst whom they lived. 

Acceptance of what the anti-Semites about Jews was widespread in the Zionist movement. Herzl observed that ‘When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat… and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse.  It is little wonder that Zionism saw anti-Semitism as its partner. ‘Great exertions will hardly be necessary to spur on the movement.  Anti-Semites provide the requisite impetus.  They need only do what they did before, and then they will create a desire to emigrate where it did not previously exist.’’

Herzl visited the rulers of Europe promising that the Zionist movement would help rid them of their unwanted Jews.  In August 1903, in the wake of the Kishinev pogroms in April, which had killed 49 Jews and injured hundreds, he travelled to Russia to meet the author of the pogroms, Interior Minister Count von Plehve. Herzl outlined his vision of a Jewish state, which he hoped would be sponsored by the Czar. He offered to rid Russia of its Jews who, he pointed out, were feeding the growing revolutionary movements. Plehve was all in favour, and when Herzl tried to convince him of the merits of Zionism, he interrupted him saying ‘You don’t have to justify the movement to me Vous prechez a un converti’ [You are preaching to a convert].’ The result of this meeting was that alone of Jewish political movements, the Russian Zionist movement was legalised.  Plehve wrote a letter pledging “moral and material assistance” a letter which became “Herzl’s most cherished asset.”

Herzl told Von Plehve: “Help us faster to land and the revolt will end. So will the defection to the socialist ranks.”   Herzl boasted that Zionism would dissolve all revolutionary socialist elements among the Jews. As Lacquer noted: “Herzl’s critics maintained… that he made, a deal with Plehve promising that Jewish Socialists would no longer attack the tsarist government…”

The attitude of the Zionist movement to the Nazis was no different from its historic attitude to anti-Semitism.  Alone amongst Jewish political movements it welcomed the ascent of the Nazis.  Zionism felt vindicated.  Hadn’t it warned that anti-Semitism would triumph?  The Zionist movement rushed to collaborate with the new Nazi government even whilst world Jewry understood that the Nazis and fascist anti-Semitism was different from anything that had gone before.  Whereas world Jewry began a Boycott of Nazi Germany, the Zionists sought to work with the Nazi government to its best advantage.  When Goering summoned the leaders of German Jewry to a meeting on March 25th 1933 to get them to have a massive Boycott rally in the USA called off, the ZVfD’s Secretary Kurt Blumenfeld, alone amongst the representatives, eagerly promised to co-operate with the Nazis in fighting the Boycott.

Blumenfeld stepped forward on behalf of the Zionists, declaring that the German Zionist Federation was uniquely capable of conferring with Jewish leaders in other countries… Once uttered, the words forever changed the relationship between the Nazis and the Zionists. ‘

Berl Katznelson, a founder of Mapai and editor of Labour Zionism’s daily paper, Davar, saw the rise of Hitler as “an opportunity to build and flourish like none we have ever had or ever will have”.   Ben-Gurion hoped the Nazi victory would become ‘a fertile force for Zionism.

I will first recall the points I made in response to Bogdanor’s original article which he fails to respond to at all.  Anything which Bogdanor found inconvenient to the narrative of a heroic Zionist movement was consigned to a historical black hole.

Continue reading here.

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