(Investigator 118, 2008 January

The publicity afforded Dr Frederick Toben's 40 Days in Teheran in the columns of the Adelaide Review brings to public attention, yet again, the vague half-truths and myths that have unfortunately become part of 20th Century history (among other things, Toben claims Zyklon B gas was used only for 'delousing' in Auschwitz and "Jews were transferred, with Zionist collaboration, to Palestine with their property, while others were moved out of German territory, and Auschwitz was a transit camp"!)

Ironically, although often not fully appreciated, the major objective of the world Zionist movement was not in conflict with Hitler's racist policies.  Founded in the late 19th Century, Herzl's Zionism was a religio/political movement seeking a 'national' (sic) homeland for all Jews – specifically situated in the Biblical 'land of Israel'.

In their 'early days', the Nazis anti-Jewish policies aimed at excluding Jews from the national community, but the Reich's expansion in the wake of their conquering armies meant large numbers of Jews were 'acquired'; emigration on the scale now required presented a problem — not helped by the British navy in the Mediterranean returning refugee ships to Germany. As late as December 1944, Lord Gort, British High Commissioner to Palestine cabled the Foreign Office to ask for Soviet troops to close the Romanian and Bulgarian borders to halt the increasing flow of Jewish refugees fleeing their Nazi persecutors.

Enough time has passed for a more sober exploration of what was happening "behind the scenes" during the Holocaust years. The comments that follow are a brief indication of areas where researchers should more thoroughly explore…   

Arguably, no-one played a more active role in the mass murders perpetuated against European Jewry than Adolf Eichmann; what is not remembered is that throughout his career in the Nazi hierarchy, Eichmann, who visited British Palestine in 1937 as a representative of the Reich government, made no secret of the fact that his views on the Jewish question were frighteningly similar to those of world-wide Zionism. Eichmann, a student of Judaism, familiar with the Hebrew language and culture, recognized the identity of the geo-political views of the German National Socialist Party and the Zionist policy.

Soon after the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor, on June 21 1933, the German Zionist Federation wrote to the Nazi government:

"On the foundation of the new state, which has established the principle of race, we wish so to fit in our community into the total structure so that for us too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the fatherland is possible … Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration even of a government fundamentally hostile to Jews". (1)

On January 28 1935, Reinhard Heydrich, the 'real engineer of the final solution', issued a directive stating:

"The activity of the Zionist-orientated youth organisations … lies in the interest of the National Socialist state's leadership … [these organisations] are not to be treated with the strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of the so-called German Jewish organisations (assimilationists)." (2)

In April 1935 Heydrich issued another directive advocating the harassment of the non-Zionist German Jewish organizations; resultingly, Zionist groups were the only ones of a political nature that were allowed to continue functioning in Germany.

On May 15 1935, Schwarze Korps, official newspaper of the SS, argued that:

"The Zionists adhere to a strict racial position and by emigrating to Palestine are helping to build their own Jewish state... The assimilation-minded Jews deny their race and insist on their loyalty to Germany ... in order to subvert National Socialist principles."  (3)

In her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem (1994), Hannah Arendt pointed out, "It is indisputable that during the first stages of their Jewish policy, the National Socialists thought it proper to adopt a pro-Zionist attitude."  The book caused outrage in the Zionist movement.  Her crime was to shine a light on events that the Eichmann trial had been designed to bury. A campaign of smears and disinformation against Arendt began — as she herself reports:

"Even before its publication, this book became both the centre of a controversy and the object of an organised campaign... The clamour centred on the 'image' of a book which was never written … I allegedly had claimed that the Jews had murdered themselves. And why had I told such a monstrously implausible lie? Out of 'self-hatred', of course." (4)

On September 15 1935, the Nuremburg laws, "the most murderous legislative instrument known to European history", were enacted, depriving German Jews of their citizenship and forbidding sexual relations between Jews and Aryans. The introduction to the Nuremburg laws stated: "The least amount of opposition to the underlying ideas of the Nuremburg laws has been raised by the Zionists, because they know at once that these laws represent the only correct solution for the Jewish people as well." (5)

Arendt noted in the Eichmann trial that "there certainly was something breathtaking in the naivety with which the prosecution denounced the infamous Nuremberg laws of 1935, which had prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans, [since] Israeli citizens…seem agreed upon the desirability of having a law which prohibits intermarriage."

Domicile-Transfer agreements

At a time when Jews, trade unionists and anti-fascists were launching a worldwide economic boycott of Nazi Germany, the World Zionist Organisation was secretly negotiating an economic agreement which allowed richer German Jews to liquidate their property in Germany and redeem part of the money in Palestine. This agreement was announced by the Nazis shortly before the 18th Zionist congress in Prague, in September 1933.

The Jewish Chronicle reported: "The spectacle is puzzling to the world, whose sympathy we bespeak, and disheartening to Jews for whom the boycott is one of the few weapons to their hand and who now see themselves deserted by the movement which they most have a right to claim as an ally in their fight."

Some 60% of all capital invested in the settler economy in Palestine between 1933 and 1939 came from Nazi Germany! By June 1937, the largest exporter to Palestine was Germany. As Baruch Vladeck, chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee in the USA described it, Palestine had become "the official scab-agent against the boycott in the Near East". (6)

However, there were some boycotts that the Zionists did support.  In 1941 Agudat Yisrael began sending food packages to the inhabitants of the ghettos in Poland. In July the AJC and the Zionist Organisation of America began picketing their offices. It is estimated that 25% of the Warsaw ghetto and 18% of the Lódz ghetto died from hunger and disease even before the deportations  began.

The Judenräte

Everywhere the Nazis conquered, "the most important concentration measure prior to the formation of the ghettos was the establishment of Jewish councils (Judenräte)." As Eichmann commented, "The assimilated Jew was, of course, very unhappy about being moved to a ghetto. But the orthodox were pleased with the arrangement, as were the Zionists."  Some two-thirds of the Judenräte consisted of Zionist supporters.

There were three stages to the 'final solution' — concentration in ghettos, deportation to the east and extermination. Everywhere there were functioning Judenräte, the Nazis were successful in their plans. The Prague Community Council was to provide the model for the Judenräte, which in the towns of Poland and Russia in 1941-43 registered the names of their flock, brought them to the assembly place, and eventually followed them to the execution pits and death camps. The Judenräte were reviled by the Jewish population and with good reason. The Nazis insisted "the authority of the Jewish council be upheld and strengthened under all circumstances" (7)

Unable to fulfil their welfare function, "they made themselves felt all the more in their implementation of Nazi decrees. With the growth of the destructive function of the Judenräte, many Jewish leaders felt an almost irresistible urge to look like their German masters." A Nazi observer in Kraków in March 1940 "was struck by the contrast between poverty and filth in the Jewish quarter and the businesslike luxury of the Jewish community headquarters." In Warsaw, "the Jewish oligarchy took to wearing boots" (8). In Lódz, Rumkowski had his portrait put on ghetto stamps and currency.

Arendt's conclusion provoked outrage among the Zionists: "The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganised and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery, but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people." After all, the Jewish Councils had been created by the Germans for the sole purpose of destroying the Jews …

Selectivity & Holocaust "Denial"

The Zionists negotiated with the SS to secure facilities to train their pioneers in Europe and then bring them to Palestine. The 'rescue activities' of the Zionist movement were concentrated on saving the elite of their own organisations in Europe.   Henry Montor, executive vice-president of the United Jewish Appeal explained: "By 'selectivity' is meant the choice of young men and women who are trained in Europe for productive purposes either in agriculture or industry and who are in other ways trained for life in Palestine... There could be no more deadly ammunition provided to the enemies of Zionism...if Palestine were to be flooded with very old people or with undesirables… Until the resources of Palestine are adequately developed, immigration of 30,000 to 60,000 a year may be possible." (9)

Selectivity was the explicit policy of the Zionist movement, as Chaim Cohen, attorney general confirmed, when conducting the appeal of Rudolph Kastner (see below):

"If in Kastner's opinion, rightly or wrongly, he believed that one million Jews were hopelessly doomed, he was allowed not to inform them of their fate; and to concentrate on the saving of the few. He was entitled to make a deal with the Nazis for the saving of a few hundred and entitled not to warn the millions ... It has always been our Zionist tradition to select the few out of many in arranging the immigration to Palestine ... Are we to be called traitors?" (10)

Why did all wings of the Zionist movement play down reports of annihilation and obstruct the rescue efforts of others? Nathan Schwalb, Hehalutz representative in Switzer-land, provided one explanation, in a letter to Rabbi Michael Weissmandel in late 1942:

"After the victory [of the Allies], they will once again divide up the world between the nations, as they did at the end of the first war … we must be aware that all the nations of the Allies are spilling much blood and if we do not bring sacrifices, with what will we achieve the right to sit at the table when they make the distribution of nations' territories after the war? ... … only through blood will the land be ours." (11)

There was no more determined opponent of 'refugeeism', as it was termed, than Ben-Gurion:

"… are we again, in moments of desperation, going to confuse Zionism with refugeeism, which is likely to defeat Zionism ... Zionism is not a refugee movement. It is not a product of the second World War, nor of the first. Were there no displaced Jews in Europe ... Zionism would still be an imperative necessity."(12)

In a letter December 17 1938 to the Zionist Executive, Ben-Gurion explained:

 "…if the Jews are faced with a choice between the refugee problem and rescuing Jews from concentration camps on the one hand, and aid for the national museum in Palestine on the other, the Jewish sense of pity will prevail and our people's entire strength will be directed at aid for the refugees in the various countries. Zionism will vanish from the agenda and … also from Jewish public opinion. We are risking Zionism's very existence if we allow the refugee problem to be separated from the Palestine problem." (13)

Describing a press conference he gave on his return from the USA, "Ben-Gurion dwelt at length and replied to questions on the following topics: America in general and American Jewry in particular, anti-semitism in America, the Biltmore Plan … As for the holocaust - not a word. Nothing was said, nothing was asked; the subject was simply not on the agenda." (14)

Because the Nazis did not occupy Hungary until March 1944, the country became an island of safety in an ocean of destruction for about a third of a million Jews from neighbouring countries. On April 17 1944 the Hungarian regent, Miklós Horthy, visited Hitler to discuss Hungary's role in the war. Hitler 'regretted' Hungary's Jewish policy, the one country in German-occupied Europe with a major Jewish community left untouched by the holocaust. It was the only Axis country to send Jewish troops to the eastern front, accounting for reports that the Hungarian army had stopped an action by local police against the Jews and that Einsatzgruppe paramilitaries had cleared an area of Jews "except for a small area occupied by Hungarian forces." (15)

Some three-quarter million Jews were living in Hungary when Adolf Eichmann and 300 Gestapo men arrived on March 15 1944. The same evening Eichmann summoned the Jewish leaders to a conference to persuade them to form a Judenrat.   This was a time when, according to the papal nuncio, "the whole world knew what deportation meant in practice."(16)

The Nazis also formed a 'rescue committee' whose de facto leader was Rudolph Kasztner of the minority Mapai (Labour Party) faction amongst the Zionists. When they met the Zionists, Eichmann did not try to lie or deceive as to the fate of the deportees. However, the Zionists were allowed greater privileges than those normally accorded members of a Judenrat: they were free to come and go, practically as they pleased, and exempt from wearing the yellow star and received permits to visit concentration camps in Hungary. Kasztner, himself, could freely travel about Nazi Germany without identification papers indicating he was Jewish!

The bargain that Kasztner and Eichmann struck resulted in a train carrying 1,684 members of the Zionist elite going to Switzerland. Eichmann also offered to send 15,000-18,000 Jews to Vienna to be kept on ice (auf Eis gelegt) pending negotiations with the Allies. These Jews were actually sent to the Vienna-Strasshof concentration camp. It was only the Nazis' military collapse that prevented the women and children being subject to 'special treatment'.

Rudolph Vrba, who escaped from Auschwitz five weeks before the deportation of Hungary's Jews, wrote in the Daily Herald in February 1961:

"I accuse certain Jewish leaders of one of the most ghastly deeds of the war. This small group of quislings knew what was happening to their brethren in Hitler's gas chambers and bought their own lives with the price of silence. Among them was Dr Kastner … I was able to give Hungarian Zionist leaders three weeks notice that Eichmann planned to send a million of their Jews to his gas chambers … Kasztner went to Eichmann and told him, 'I know of your plans; spare some Jews of my choice and I shall keep quiet.'   Eichmann not only agreed, but dressed Kasztner up in SS uniform and took him to Belsen to trace some of his friends." (17)

Even Hungary's Zionist chief rabbi Freudiger admitted that half the Jews could have been saved if they had ignored the instructions of the Jewish councils. He also admitted that he received the Vrba report about Auschwitz on May 10/11 and immediately arranged his own escape. Unfortunately the rest of Hungarian Jewry was not let in on the secret.     Eichmann described his relationship with the Zionists in an interview he gave to a Dutch Nazi journalist, Willem Sassens, in 1955:

"This Dr Kasztner … agreed to help keep the Jews from resisting deportation - and even keep order in the collection camps - if I would close my eyes and let a few hundred or a few thousand young Jews emigrate illegally to Palestine. It was a good bargain. For keeping order in the camps, the price of 15,000 or 20,000 Jews … was not too high for me ... With his great polish and reserve he would have made an ideal Gestapo officer himself.

"Dr Kasztner's main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Israel ... As a matter of fact, there was a very strong similarity between our attitudes in the SS and the viewpoint of these immensely idealistic Zionist leaders …

"I believe that Kasztner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal. He was not interested in old Jews or those who had become assimilated into Hungarian society. But he was incredibly persistent in trying to save biologically valuable Jewish blood - that is, human material that was capable of reproduction and hard work. 'You can have the others,' he would say, 'but let me have this group here.' And because Kasztner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let his groups escape." (18)

Kasztner went to Nuremberg after the war in an attempt to exonerate Nazi leaders, including SS colonel Kurt Becher and SS general Hans Juttner. In all Kasztner tried to save seven of Eichmann's Gestapo colleagues. In his trial, Kasztner even alleged Himmler had helped him save Jews.

The Eichmann trial in 1961 was a response to the Kasztner trials. Thus began the Zionist attempt to mould the history of the holocaust into a Zionist pattern. Missing from history would be the anti-Zionist Bund and the communists, the two largest parties of the resistance. The Bund had led the resistance in Warsaw but Marek Edelman, deputy commander of ZOB, the Jewish Fighting Organisation, was deliberately not called to give evidence at the trial. As Linn notes, Edelman "remained alive and kicking and refusing and, therefore, extremely inconvenient for the creation of a heroic Zionist condensing and compensating myth". (19) Neither was Rudolph Vrba called. He was not a Zionist.

History is never as 'black and white' as we would like it to be. But so long as we are content to not research it properly, we make it all the easier for the Frederick Tobens and the David Irvings to claim or imply the Holocaust never happened!

Bob Potter


(1) Reitlinger The Final Solution (1953) p 13
(2) Ibid p 240
(3) Dawidowicz The War Against the Jews (1985) p118
(4) Arendt Eichmann in Jerusalem (1994) p58
(5) Reitlinger op cit p13
(6) Brenner 51 Documents (2002) p93
(7) Reitlinger op cit p299
(8) Hilberg The Destruction of European Jews (1985) pp 76-77
(9) Hecht Perfidy (1961) p255
(10) Hecht op cit in 7 p255
(11) Schonfield Documents & Testimony on Jewish War Criminals (1977) pp 27-28
(12) New York Times 27/4/46 Symposiun at 49th Annual Zionist Org of America org by Maariv
(13) Elam Intro. To Zionist History (1972) pp 125-26.
(14) Lucas Modern History of Israel (1975) fn 2 p458
(15) Hilberg op cit p116
(16) Reitlinger op cit p 420
(17) Hecht op cit p 261 n 68
(18) Brenner op cit pp 280-81
(19) See The Ghetto fights Bookmarks Sept 1990/Linn Escaping Auschwitz (2004) p 28.