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April 20, 1984 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-20

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2

Friday, April 20, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Jewish Palestine and Zionism tested for transfer negotiations in early Nazi years

Self-scrutiny and self-criticism, search for admission of
guilt, have long been imbedded in Jewish history. These
are the principles that guided the Israeli investigating
commission after the tragic massacre of Moslems by Chris-
tians in Lebanon, when Jewish officials were blamed for
having failed to intervene as preventatives of the horror.
They have'been the guidelines in the testing of experiences
during the Nazi era, accusations having multiplied that
Jews failed to resist sufficiently.
An important chapter is now being written in the test-
ing of the generation of American Jews under the charge of
having been silent when protests were vital during the
continuing Hitler-sponsored pogroms. Under the chair-
manship of Arthur Goldberg, there is a continuing probing
of the records, and they already indicate that submission to
national U.S. demands, under governmental pressures,
were in large measure responsible for failure to act — a
J'Accuse that will be difficult to refute.
Such is the domestic event in the agony now on the
agenda, and it can well be called an inquiry into the guilt of ,
the Sha-Sha policies that have clouded many dale records
in the Jewish battle for self-respect and adherence to the
urgent needs never to abandon vigilance and the duty to
resist oppression.
Now the scrutiny of that guilt is in evidence in another
area. In Agentina, the Jewish calendar of events includes
the charge that Jews failed to act against the tyranny
which has just ended there politically, that they did not
demand that the kidnapped, thousands having vanished,
should be returned to their homes.
Jacobo Timerman has been unhesitant in leveling the
accusation against his fellow Argentinian Jews. He made
that charge that he protested against a welcome to a pro-
Argentinian Jewish delegation in the Knesset, during the
era of oppression. His articles in Haaretz emphasized the
charge of criminal silence by Argentinian Jews. They are
now being tested on a level similar to the study of American
Jewish guilt during the Nazi terror.
Now comes the most serious charge of all: that the
Zionist movement, the Palestinian Jewish community,
made a commercial deal with the Nazis to refrain from
endorsing the boycott of Nazi goods, in exchange for
granting permission for German Jews to emigrate to Pales-
tine.
The newest revelation, the accusatory aimed at Jewish
Palestine, the charge that Jews had made a deal with Nazis
in the interest of life-saving, may prove very shocking now
that it is placed on the record. In the interest of truth,
especially with a continuing rejection of Sha-Sha Judaism,
Edwin Black, himself a survivor from Nazism, must be
Laken seriously. His record of events of that era, incorpo-
rated in The Transfer Agreement (Macmillan), subtitled:
The Untold Story of the Secret Agreement Between the
Third Reich and Jewish Palestine," must be taken seri-
)u.sly.
The entire record compiled by the author of this vol-
Lime will require and will receive lengthy analysis. It needs
ntroductory comment to emphasize that the agreement
referred to did not have total Jewish endorsement, that
there were condemnations by Jewish leaders, that there
were differing views. _
The issue revolves around the then promulgated
boycott of German-made goods. On the verge of economic
disaster, the boycott of German-made goods served among
the most serious threats to the then triumphing Hitler-
dominated government. The boycott of German goods in-
itiated by the Jewish War Veterans gained support not only
in this country but worldwide.
That's when, the new revelations contend, the secret
agreement was reached.
The secret agreement, defined in the Edwin Black
book, was a document signed in August 1933 by the Nazis
and the Zionists. It provided that the Zionists refrain from
endorsing the boycott movement and at the same time
provide for German exports to Palestine. The Nazis were to
compensate the Zionists by permitting German Jews to
emigrate to Palestine and to take a measure of their assets
with them.
It is additionally explained in this connection that the
Germans viewed Palestine as a dumping ground, enabling
the Hitler regime to be rid of German Jews by permitting
their emigration.
How criminal was such an agreement? Is the fact that a
tenth of German Jewry — 60,000 of them — were rescued
thereby a justification for the secret agreement?
So vast is the researched account provided by Black in
the sensational book that it will not only serve as a major
addendum to the Arthur Goldberg committee's inquiry but
may revive many of the disputes that were on the calendar
or Jewish events in the early years of the Nazis.
How did American Jews react?
ANew York Times story dated Aug. 29, 1933 quoted by

Abba Hillel Silver
The whole affair was a bankruptcy sale . . ."

Black stated that "Germany will import eight to ten million
Marks worth of Jaffa oranges and Palestine will take
20,000 Marks of German industrial products." The quota-
tion proceeds: The exports to Palestine are to consist prin-
cipally of agricultural machinery, motors, refrigerators,
textiles, and machinery for small manufacturing plants for
buttons, leather goods, wicker furniture and similar
household goods."
Other sources are quoted which thelf reported on the
agreement.
Then the protests began to mount. The most impres-
sive was from Dr. Abba Hillel Silver. Black states in refer-
ence to the Silver statement:
Rabbi Silver told a Jewish Telegraph Agency
interviewer: "If the reports of those two deals are
correct; and I for one find them unthinkable and
inconceivable, then every Jew who goes to Pales-
tine becomes an importer of German goods into
Palestine, and this at a time when we deny Jewry
. . . of the world the right to trade with Germany."
Unable to conceal his fury, Rabbi Silver de-
clared, "Why,' the very idea of Palestinian Jewry
negotiating with Hitler about business instead of
demanding justice for the persecuted Jews of
Germany is unthinkable. One might think that the
whole affair was a bankruptcy sale and that the
Jews of Palestine were endeavoring to salvage a
few bargains for themselves. Palestinian Jewry
should be showing the way to unified action and
not be willing to victimize the rest of the world for
a million crates of oranges."
Studying the situation, it is important that the entire
statement issued by Dr. Silver should be on the record. He
then declared:
This is a test case. Always Palestine has asked
the Jews of the world to sacrifice for Palestine.
Now the time has come to ask, will Palestine make
a commercial sacrifice for the 15 million Jews of
the world? We say to the Palestinian Jews, we -
won't trade with the enemy and we won't permit
the Jews of Palestine to.
On a total basis, what was the Jewish reaction in this
country? The entire matter of resistance is important. The
tilence as such was vital. This is where the guilt of Sha-Sha
Jews enters (so-called for trying to quiet any controversy).
The American Jewish Congress was at the time the milit-
ant force. The American Jewish Committee was reticent, if
such a mild rebuke can account for the failure to act in that
tragic era in Jewish history.
It will be recalled that reports of Nazi terrorism were
branded by Nazis and pro-Nazis as "atrocity stories." While

,

a boycott of German goods was planned in this country, an
anti-Jewish boycott was in progress in Germany proper.
That's when Jews were misled and this is where the Ameri-
can Jewish Committee can be labeled among the guilty in
the silence movement and in whatever agreement may now
be - considered as having been treacherous. That portion of
the accusatory is represented as follows in Black's The
Transfer Agreement:
The boycott promised to be a long ruinous
confrontation for the Jews. In Munich, a hastily
formed Central Committee for Defense Against
Jewish Atrocity and Boycott Propaganda issued
strict guidelines. All local party units were to be
involved in both boycotting Germany's Jews and
maintaining Nazi discipline. There was to be no
violence, no basis for further atrocity stories. But
an anti-Jewish boycott, violent or disciplined,
would be disastrous for Germany's fragile
economy, and virtually everyone in Germany
with realistic business sense knew it. Non-Nazi
members of the cabinet— a majority— demanded
that Hitler cancel the anti-Jewish boycott. He re-
fused.
The next morning, March 30, newspapers in
Germany and abroad confirmed that the anti-
Jewish boycott proclamation was not just an-
other vague Nazi threat, but a real and organized
action. Terrified German Jews now redoubled
their panicky campaign to disavow foreign pro-
tests and newspaper reports. They pleaded with
their New York brethren to cancel any further
protest activities, and especially any talk about
boycotting German goods. Noted Hamburg
banker Eric Warburg cabled his cousin Frederick
in New York: "Today's boycott threats against
Jewish firms in Germany will be carried out if
atrocities news and unfriendly propaganda in
foreign press mass meetings, etc. does not stop
immeclitately." Frederick Warburg upon receipt
immediately telephoned Cyrus Adler, president
of the American Jewish Committee, who com-
posed a paragraph disavowing atrocity stories
and any boycott. The statement was forwarded to
Committee secretary Morris Waldman for ap-
proval.
(Of interest here is the role that was played by Morris
Waldman, who was the first executive director of the
Jewish Welfare Federation of Detroit commencing with the
founding of the Federation in 1925.)
Stephen S. Wise, foun-
der of the World Jewish
Congress, emerges as the
activist who confronted the
White House and State De-
partment, demanding ac-
tion, at last securing atten-
tion that led to instructions
to the consular corps in
Germany to do some inves-
tigating of the atrocities
and to lead to the refutation
of German methods to exon-
erate the commencement of
Stephen Wise
the cruelties.
But even Dr. Wise, who organized protest rallies, espe-
cially the dramatic one of March 1933 in Madison Square
Garden, New York, was at first hesitant to join the JWV-
organized boycott of German goods.
The March 27, 1933 Wise-sponsored Madison Square
Garden demonstration brought German condemnations
and attacks on Dr. Wise by Hermann Goering who called
Wise "one of our most dangerous and unscrupulous
enemies."
The boycott movement proceeded and Dr. Wise contin-
ued among the most
active leaders in the anti-Nazi move- -
na
ment.
Samuel Untermeyer, the eminent attorney, was
among the most active promoters of the boycott movement.
The boycott proceeded, and so did the transfer agree-
ment. Was the latter justified? There is an interesting
conclusion by Author Black:
Between 1933 and 1941, 20,000 German Jews
directly transferred to Palestine via Haavra.
Many of them never collected their money, and
often when they did, it was only partially in cash
and mostly in mandatory stocks and mortgages.
Another 40,000 German Jews emigrated to Pales-
tine during this period via the indirect and corol-
lary aspects of transfer. Many of these people,
especially in the late 1930s, were allowed to trans-

Continued on Page 12

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