Notify me of new HIR pieces!

Description: HIR mailing list


  Part 0 -  The Crisis of 1933

 Part 1 -  Diaspora Jewish leaders WWII

 Part 2 -  Diaspora Jewish leaders today

  Part 3 -  Israeli leaders today

 Part 4 -  Israeli leaders in WWII

 Part 4.5 -  Refuting the defense of Rudolf Kastner

 Part 5 -  Piety and Jewish self-defense



Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\hitler.jpg

Adolf Hitler


An HIR series

Historical and Investigative Research - 06 May 2006
by Francisco Gil-White
Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\iraniraq\button1E.jpg




The Crisis of 1933

In 1933, ordinary Jews all over the world banded together and came within an inch of destroying the Hitler regime. They did not fail. Their leaders failed them.



Short Preface

When Hitler came to power in 1933 outrages against the German Jews began immediately. This provoked a storm of protest all over the world. But, especially, it provoked ordinary Jews to organize to boycott German goods and services and sink the German economy. Many gentiles (non-Jews) joined them. This brought the Third Reich to its knees and within an inch of destruction. Hitler barely survived. What saved him?

The established Jewish leaders did.

To those who don’t know Jewish history (almost everybody) this is amazing, inconceivable. In fact, it was normal. This article will cover the 1933 crisis, relying on the massively detailed work of Jewish historian Edwin Black, who documents what happened in The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine (1983, Carroll & Graf). But in order to give a satisfactory account of why Jewish leaders behaved the way they did in 1933, I will begin briefly by explaining the context of the Jewish experience as they came out of the Middle Ages into the modern world, for without this context what happened in 1933 is difficult to comprehend.

If you would like to jump straight to the 1933 boycott, you may do so with the hyperlinked table of contents below. Then, having seen what happened, you may come back to the first section -- entitled "The Background" -- for a full historical understanding of why the Jewish leaders betrayed the Jews so dramatically.

Table of Contents


 Short Preface (above)

 The push for Jewish assimilation in the 19th century

 Why didn't assimilation happen earlier?
 The new antisemitism, and its appeal for many Jews
 The Orthodox Jews
 Jewish assimilation in German lands

 The Zionist movement splits

 Weizmann vs. Herzl/Jabotinsky
 The Jewish Agency
 The Zionist Organization

 Reform Judaism

 The consequences of Reform Judaism
 Reform Judaism in the United States
 Reform Rabbi Stephen Wise



 1933: The Jewish boycott against the Nazis

 A transatlantic betrayal
 The leaders in Palestine
 The Jewish masses join the boycott
 The Nazi reaction

 Rushing to satisfy Hitler

 The people around Hitler beg him to desist
 The Western governments mobilize to save Hitler
 The Western governments comply with
Hitler's ultimatum

 Rushing to save Hitler

 The plan
 Jabotinsky vs. Weizmann/Ben-Gurion

 Destroying the Boycott

 April: The boycott grows
  April: The American Jewish leaders
 April: A curious harmony between Labor Zionists and Nazis
 April: The binational plan of the Labor Zionists
 April-May: Stephen Wise against the boycott
 May: The boycott grows (even more)
 June: Chaim Arlosoroff is murdered
 July: Lord Melchett's 'coup'
 July-August: Samuel Untermyer vs. Stephen Wise
 August-September: The 18th Zionist Congress
 September: Stephen Wise delivers the coup de grace to the boycott


The push for Jewish assimilation in the 19th century

If the 20th century finally gave birth to the modern world, then the 19th was the extended prelude of contractions: a series of social and political upheavals set in motion by the enduring influence of the French Revolution. One consequence of these upheavals was that the political situation of the Jews was gradually liberalized in Europe, and in some countries they were even granted full citizen rights, equal to those of Christians.

“In the course of the nineteenth century, Jews in substantial numbers abandoned Yiddish as their primary language to speak, for example, ‘good’ German, and significant segments of the community succeeded in leaving behind the commercial occupations of their fathers to become poets, composers, philosophers, and intellectuals of various other stripes.”[15]

This new liberal momentum that, in fits and starts, was prying open the legal shackles of the Jews was greeted with a delirious enthusiasm by many Jews, desperate as they understandably were to end their inferior status. Something very interesting and with tremendous consequences now took place: the emancipated Jews made efforts to assimilate to Christian society, and, as they did, they were seduced by antisemitism. This phenomenon made modern antisemitism very difficult to combat, and it would have important negative consequences for the possibility of Jewish self-defense in the context of the German Nazi onslaught.

It is important, especially, to understand the ideology of the German Jewish leaders, and those whom they influenced, because without this context one cannot make sense of the reactions of the Jewish leadership to the Nazi persecution, and therefore neither can one fully understand the Holocaust. I will begin by explaining how the legal emancipation of the Jews during the 19th century produced a great wave of assimilation, and the consequences of that. I will focus first on the grand sweep of the process of assimilation and then on how it affected the German Jewish leadership in particular.

Why didn't assimilation happen earlier?

Previously, the Jews could say with confidence that their own civilization was superior to that which surrounded them, for the contrast was dramatic. Jewish society was freer, more socially just, much more ethical, and much, much more alphabetized than Christian society. Historian James Carroll, a Catholic who has studied medieval Judaism in the context of the ecclesiastical attacks of which it became a victim, says:

“Jewish life at the millennium was humane and thriving... I read this history as a Christian, but it seems fair to say that the Talmudic system[16] had shaped a way of thinking by the very seriousness with which the commentary of rabbis was taken. That way of thinking, in turn, shaped Jewish communal life. The problems and crises of Jews were addressed and resolved through commentary and further commentary -- an inbuilt commitment to text, reading, imagination, and community. All of this was organized around an admired collective whose authority was rooted in study and in the proven wisdom of its ‘responsa,’ its responses to questions. Though based on the Law of Moses, Judaism had emerged as a community ordered not by legislation or decree but by the influence of its interpreters, reflecting on a compilation of the commentary of ancestral masters. This is the culture of Talmud, a culture not of codification but of conversation, written and oral; a culture not of hierarchy but of mutuality.”[17]

This obvious superiority of Judaism, I think, contributed greatly to strengthening the commitment of Jews to their religion despite the interminable avalanche of attacks, in this way achieving the spectacular survival -- despite all odds -- of the community. But in the 19th c. the Christian societies in the West became freer than they had been: the press flourished, and a variety of opinions were expressed at the same time that the censoring power of the Church and the monarchies receded. These societies also became less harshly unequal, and education became more widely accessible. Even if these were partial victories, the consequence of hard-won battles fought from below, and resisted bitterly by the aristocratic classes, the palpable gains over the course of the century gave a sense of evolution: the world progressed -- not just in politics, but in science, art, and industry -- and this direction seemed inexorable, inevitable, irresistible. ‘Progress’ -- and consciousness of it -- became one of the obsessions of that generation; the very definition of modernity was this cult of ‘progress’ (this outlook has not altogether disappeared).

To many Jews, this modern world that was coming into being, and which, many promised, would be ever better, shone with a more attractive sheen than the Orthodox community. Many, without coercion, chose to convert to Christianity; others traveled only half-way there, assimilating to Christian culture and abandoning judaism, but -- and here lies the crucial issue -- functioning still as Jews and even as leaders with great influence in their community. This would have certain consequences, because assimilation to ‘modern society’ carried with it the adoption of the Western world's dominant ideology: antisemitism.

The new antisemitism, and its appeal for many Jews

If the spirit of Judaism was winning -- the universal ethics of the European Enlightenment -- was Jewish Law itself still necessary? Long a refuge and promise of universal liberation, many Jews now felt that they were dragging a heavy ball and chain that kept them in the Middle Ages and precluded full immersion in ‘modern society,’ thus sabotaging the millenarian hope of redemption: the passion to live -- finally! -- in a world where Jews could be ‘normal.’ This was the perception, especially, of wealthy Jews who already had a foot in Christian society and the other foot half outside of Judaism, for they wished to join the European ruling classes as full members. It is they who most found to their taste the old wine that antisemites were now selling in shiny new bottles.

The new attacks against Orthodox Jews represented them as a stubborn resistance, wishing to remain in a retrograde culture, and polluting modern society with their nefarious influences. In those days so-called ‘scientific’ racism was flourishing -- fed as it was by the nationalist eruptions that would then extend themselves over the European continent like brushfires -- so the supposed degeneracy of the Jews was often explained as a product of their objectionable biological nature. Those who pushed these far right arguments were the “traditionalist adversaries of the Jews and of Enlightenment liberalism, [who] maintained that the Jews were a separate nation and so could not be absorbed as citizens into European nations.”[18]

It is well to point out, however, that the ‘liberal opposition’ didn’t speak very differently on the question of the Jews: “Among Enlightenment figures, virtually all insisted that the Jews would need to give up their concepts of Jewish nationhood... Some went further and attacked Judaism at its foundations as immoral, inhumane, and inconsistent with civilized society.”[18a] Those who defended the ‘liberal’ view, then, “advocated [Jewish] integration but typically with limits to the citizen rights to be extended the Jews and with those rights coming only upon the Jews’ renunciation of much of their heritage.”[19]

The ‘right’ hand was a fist and the ‘left’ hand was extended only in exchange for abolishing the Law of Moses. Check mate.

Once this dilemma is appreciated we can recognize the profound genius of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism. His strategy recruited, on the one hand, the forces of liberalism because he was proposing a new State where his people could establish themselves as a democracy and be free, but it harnessed also the energies of the racist nationalism that sought to exclude the Jews, for many antisemites found appealing the idea of ridding themselves of the Jews by sending them to the Middle East. But the antisemites had their judo moves, too: by making clear that modern citizenship came with a price -- to proclaim oneself ‘assimilated,’ on the Christian side, and allied with the new antisemitic accusations -- they managed in this way to recruit the energies of many Jews, especially in the upper classes.  The ‘assimilated’ ended up defending the view that in order to resolve the so-called ‘Jewish Problem’ Talmudic Judaism would have to be abandoned, because Christian hate was supposedly a consequence of the ‘primitive’ difference that Orthodox Jews were clinging to with needless obstinacy.

This ‘explanation’ for antisemitism betrayed an almost complete ignorance of history, or at least a denial of it. And it shoved to one side the contemporary evidence: Where is the movement to exterminate the Amish, who represent a resistance to the modern world more extreme than anything in Orthodox Judaism? (As I have argued elsewhere, the fundamental reason for antisemitism is that Jewish Law, the law of liberated slaves, carefully protects the rights of ordinary workers, and this has always been offensive to the Western ruling classes.) But nothing here is sadder than the irony of these ‘new’ attitudes that in fact betrayed the liberal spirit that had produced the opportunity for emancipation in the first place. For if liberalism is not the tolerance of the difference that does not hurt us -- and Jewish orthodoxy, like Amish orthodoxy, does not hurt us (on the contrary, avoiding harm is at the center of both movements) -- then it is nothing. The modernizing Jews -- who benefited from liberalism -- did not defend the liberal and modern principle of religious tolerance, because they did not respect the right of their Orthodox brethren to remain different.

Historian Joseph Dan gives us another clue. There is a “deep ambivalence in the modern Jewish soul,” he says, for it contains “the rejection of the practical norms of traditional Judaism as ‘medieval’ and ‘ignorant,’ on the one hand, and the nostalgic cherishment of the deep roots in the past,” on the other.[20] I think the key here is the nostalgic cherishment of the deep roots in the past. It is quite uncomfortable to affect nostalgia for something that in fact will not consent to disappear, and the Eastern Jews, who inisted on the everlasting relevance of the halachach, were the majority. In consequence, the modernizing Jews, shorn now of the Law that defines Judaism, felt inferior in their authenticity as Jews. The solution? To abolish Jewish Orthodoxy so that it could become the object of a genuine nostalgia.

“In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Jews in central Europe were told by much of the surrounding society that Yiddish was a crude, bastardized, unwholesome language that reflected the degenerate nature of the Jews and illustrated their unfitness for citizenship rights. Many Jewish leaders and members of the cultural elite in the Jewish community embraced this attack and urged the abandonment of Yiddish as, in the words of one such figure, ‘a language of stammerers, corrupt and deformed, repulsive to those who are able to speak in a correct and orderly manner.’”[21]

It is interesting and revealing that the derogatory -- in truth condemning -- comment about Yiddish cited above comes from Moses Mendelssohn, the father of the ‘Jewish Enlightenment’ movement known as Haskalah. The leaders of this movement were called maskilim, and Mendelssohn is the father figure. One cannot accuse Mendelssohn himself of antisemitism because he “adhered to the practice of traditional Judaism throughout his life, was concerned about the welfare of his fellow Jews, and extended what help he could to Jewish communities across Europe in distress from the actions of local authorities.”[22] But Mendelssohn’s comment about Yiddish shows that his recommendation to his Jewish brethren to get an education beyond the Jewish language in order to participate more fully in their societies was not simply a practical advice. Mendelssohn had absorbed some of the prejudice of Christians against the Jewish people, whose tongue was simply a language like any other. His followers absorbed much more antisemitism than he did, because “very few, if any, of the maskilim shared Mendelssohn’s commitment to traditional Jewish observance. Rather, there was almost unanimous support for doing away with it.”[22a] As we shall see, it is not a great exaggeration to say that the maskilim represented a Jewish movement to abolish Judaism.

To round out the context, I will cast a brief look at the currents that had been affecting Orthodox Jewish practic.

The Orthodox Jews

In the 18th and 19th c. there came into being the Hassidic movement, founded by the Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov towards the end of the 18th. “Hasidism undoubtedly was to some extent a revivalistic movement, which brought new enthusiasm and new impetus to the performance of the old traditional ethical and ritualistic traditional norms,” and it has played an important role in the survival of Orthodox Judaism.[23] But from the practical, ethical point of view, it brought nothing new:

“It should be emphasized that it is very difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to point out even one central religious idea which is characteristic of the Hasidic movement as a whole and only to it, one that is not found in any Jewish non-Hasidic or pre-Hasidic movement, which is not part of the concept of the Zaddik and the relationship between the community and its leader. All the rich intellectual and spiritual ideas found in the many hundreds of books written by Hasidic leaders since the last two decades of the 18th this very day are all ideas which can be found in many other Jewish books of ethics and homiletic... -- except the theological ideas concerning the role of the Zaddik.”[24]

But this idea of what it meant to be a Zaddik was certainly new: “The Hasid believes that his leader and teacher, the Zaddik, is divinely inspired, and that his soul is constantly connected with the higher realms of the divine hierarchy of forces (which Hasidism adopted from the symbolism of the Kabbalah). The Zaddik thus represents a divine power, and serves as an intermediary between the worshipper and God himself.”[25]


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


Because there really are no new ethical concepts that are exclusive to Hasidism as such, there isn’t here a dramatic ‘revelation’: Hasidism is thoroughly conservative. What Hasidism injected into the mystical Jewish tradition of Kabbalah is an element it did not have and which most other mystical movements possess: the saint, defined more than anything as a good man, who in the Jewish version also works for social justice, and whose authority emanates from the perception of his ethics and his presumed direct, often ecstatic, link to God. There is also the detail that a Zaddik’s authority is dynastic, for it is transmitted from father to son (and in some cases to son-in-law). In this manner, Hasidic communities were created around different Zaddik dynasties.

“Never before in Judaism was there such a large movement motivated by the concept of a leadership which serves as a religious, mystical intermediary between Man and God. The only exception is the Sabbatian movement of the 17th and 18th centuries, which believed that its messiah, Shabtai Zvi, was an intermediary between the people of Israel and the Godhead, an idea which was presented especially in the works of Nathan of Gaza, the prophet of Shabtai Zvi.”[26]

Shabtai Zvi had been a complete disaster, for after convincing astonishingly large multitudes all over the Jewish world that he was the long-awaited Messiah, he demonstrated that he was in fact an enemy of Judaism who wanted to abolish Jewish Law, and in the end converted to Islam, a religion that considers it pious to murder recalcitrant Jews or else make them slaves of the Muslims.[26a] It is true that Hasidism shares with the Sabbatean movement the element of charismatic leadership, but in another sense Hasidism is the very antithesis of Shabtai Zvi, for it means to preserve the Jewish Law. In a certain way, the Hasidic movement harnessed the feverish desire of the Jewish masses for a charismatic leadership -- amply demonstrated in the Sabbatean movement -- and used it to preserve traditional Judaism, neutralizing the threat present in Sabbateanism and later reverberations. Orthodox Jews, too, have their judo moves.

Precisely because Hasidism is an injection of charismatic leadership into Jewish mysticism, it went in a direction contrary to rationalism. The traditional rabbis had always been in general rationalists and many of them were passionately in love with science, but science “was notably less popular among the Hasidim.”[27] It should not surprise us that the rationalist currents in Jewish orthodoxy perceived a threat in Hasidic mysticism, thus giving birth to “the struggle of the Mithnaggedim or the traditional Talmudic Jews, against Hasidism.”[28] For example, “Rabbi Elijah [Ben Solomon Zalman],” the Vilna Gaon, a great enthusiast of science, “was the chief figure in the traditionalist campaign against the Hasidim in the late eighteenth century, and one of his major criticisms was what he perceived as Hasidism’s anti-intellectualism. This, he argued, was antithetical to the essential rationalism of Jewish belief and would inevitably lead to a falling away from basic Jewish tenets.”[29]

The reaction of the mitnagdim against the Hasidim “was to be one of the contributory factors of the Haskalah movement” of the maskilim.[30] But whereas the mitnagdim sought to protect the rationalism in Jewish Orthodoxy from the charismatic influences of Hasidism, the Haskalah rationalism of the maskilim, inspired by the European Enlightenment, took from Enlightnment figures their antipathy toward religion as such, launching an attack against Jewish Orthodoxy itself, including the traditional orthodoxy that the mitnagdim were defending. “Maskilim transformed Sabbateanism into a metaphor for Hasidism, the immediate object of their polemics, as well as other aspects of contemporary Jewish life, such as rabbinism and kabbalism, which they regarded as obscurantist, and which they hoped to reshape and reform.”[31] For the maskilim to paint Hasidism with the colors of Sabbateanism was to perpetrate a great injustice. An even greater injustice was to paint in this way the rest of Jewish orthodoxy, which had always been of a rationalist and non-charismatic tendency. Why were the maskilim doing this? Because, they said, they wanted to “restore the Jewish people to the world of reality,”[32] and this position required that Orthodox Judaism be represented as unreal: a mystical outburst of hysterics along the lines of Shabtai Zvi. This is how they justified their alliance with the Christian ruling classes that were working so hard to erase Judaism from the face of the Earth.

These efforts were destroying what had been a Golden Age of Orthodox Judaism in Eastern Europe.

Many Jews took refuge in Eastern Europe, in the 16th and 17th c., from the anti-Jewish mass killings, forced conversions, and expulsions that took place in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Thanks to the autonomy that the Polish kings allowed, the Jewish comunity in these lands came closer than any other to a complete realization of an Orthodox Jewish society, a full expression of its compendium of Talmudic laws.[33] The beginning of the end came at the end of the 18th c., when the Polish state was dismembered and divided between Prussia, Austria, and Russia (it would not be recreated until after WWI).

There were maskilim -- assimilated, upper class Jews -- who now became leaders of the effort to destroy Jewish Orthodoxy in Russia. The Jewish upper classes avoided having to give their children to the Russian army by kidnapping lots of poor Jewish children who were taken often at the age of 7 or 8, would be educated by the Russian state, and would then begin a 25-year military service. Many were converted to Christianity.[34] The Russian experience was traumatic, especially when the infamous pogroms began. But it was the alliance of the maskilim with the Christian ruling clases in Germany that would have the gravest historical consequences.

Jewish assimilation in German lands

The Jews in Prussia and Austria were all that remained after the humble Jews in whom the government saw no great utility had been expelled, and after various policies had abolished the independence of the rabbis in German lands, forcing the Jews to integrate into the legal framework of the state. So the German Jewish communities “typically remained small and relatively affluent and their leading figures tended to be well connected with centers of power and other elite elements in the surrounding society.”[34a]

From this position resulted certain pressures: “contacts with the higher echelons of the larger society, and the allure of those echelons, unhappiness with the disabilities that followed on being Jews, and the absence of a sizable and strong Jewish community with communal institutions...led a number of Jews to abandon their Judaism and either themselves convert or baptize their children,” in this way completing their integration with the German elites.[35] “Philosophically, assimilationists no longer considered themselves Jews living in Germany. Instead, they saw themselves as Germans who, by accident of birth, were Jewish.”[36]

The consequences of adopting this vision quickly made themselves felt: of the 550,000 Jews who were emancipated between 1869 and 1871 in German lands, by 1930 a total of 60,000, or 10%, had relinquished all ties to Judaism either through apostasy, by being raised without any Jewish identity in mixed marriages, or simply by turning away completely from the Jewish community.[37] And many of those who retained some form of Jewish identity were assimilating anyway. The German Jewish minority viewed the recently annexed Polish Jews -- Orthodox, comparatively poor, and Yiddish speaking -- with horror, for they considered them “obstacles whose reform was necessary to win over the surrounding society to a more benign attitude toward Jews.”[38] They looked at Polish Jews and thought: ‘No wonder Christians hate us.’ And this meant that “they were predisposed to blame ‘Polish’ Jews for the persistence of anti-Jewish prejudice and Jewish disabilities should they reject proffered programs of self-reform.”[39]

“The support given by Prussian and Austrian maskilim to Joseph II’s efforts to push Jews out of their established occupations was aimed essentially against the Jews of Galicia, or Austrian-controlled Poland. And these pro-reform Jews did not perceive reform of Polish Jewry as simply a pragmatic step but chose to construe it rather as the exchange of an intrinsically primitive, corrupt, degenerate life for a better, more wholesome one.

...various maskilim worked to advance Prussian, Austrian, and even Russian steps to dismantle the vestiges of autonomy that persisted in the formerly Polish territories, impervious to the damage they were doing to the Jewish communities in those regions.”[40]

The maskilim didn’t merely advocate state education for the Jews but wanted to restrict their religious education, and beyond this “embraced the attacks on Talmudic studies that had for centuries figured prominently in anti-Jewish indictments of Jewish religious learning and practice,” representing the study of the Talmud like the Christian antisemites did: as “primitive, arcane, and even corrupting, and certainly inconsistent with Jewish entry into the modern world and participation in the surrounding civil society.” In the maskilim’s conception of Judaism the Jews had, as before, the obligation to enlighten the world with their ethics, but this would no longer make reference to the Talmudic system of laws; the Jews would simply practice better than anybody the universal humanitarian ethics of the European Enlightenment (which, ironically, had been inspired by a Talmudic scholar: Baruch Spinoza).[41] In this way, the assimilated Jews would become energetic defenders of the rights of everybody except their Orthodox brethren. For the maskilim were not looking to enrich Judaism but “to woo non-Jewish opinion and win assimilation into surrounding cultures and societies.”[42] Because the maskilim wanted to feel ethical and at the same time satisfy the antisemites with whom they were assimilating, they had to represent the destruction of Judaism as a way to better the modern world. In this way, they adopted practically all of the prejudices of the Christians against the Jews, including those accusations concerning their occupations, which would become the central axis of modern antisemitism: the Jews love money, and their money gives them power.

It is absurd, in principle, to fault a people for earning their life in a particular way so long as this is not a criminal endeavor, and the Jews were not criminals. But it is an even greater absurdity here because the Jews had been forced to earn their living as moneylenders. There was no choice involved. The artisan guilds of the Middle Ages excluded the Jews, and the political class forbade them from owning land. How were they supposed to earn a living if they could be neither farmers nor artisans? The Church did not allow Christians to lend money, because this was supposedly a sin, and the moral censure of the Church made it convenient to force the Jews into this profession, as it generated another structural advantage for the mobilization of antisemitism. This is how many Jews became moneylenders.

“Moneylending became the occupation of Jews at all financial levels. Wealthier Jews were the financiers of royalty, nobility, and even churches and monasteries; poorer Jews forced out of trade and crafts turned to extending small loans to the traders and craftspeople...”[43]

Given that moneylending was a sin to Christians, it isn’t very difficult to see where the prejudice against the supposed ‘capitalist materialism’ and ‘lack of productiveness’ or ‘parasitic nature’ of the Jews came from. (In any case, it was a Western European phenomenon; the Eastern European Jews, the great majority, were in fact overwhelmingly artisans because of the greater liberties that had traditionally existed in the East under the Polish kings.)

But even though the accusations were absurd, the maskilim embraced them, alleging that their Jewish brethren had supposedly been corrupted by their trade in money. One assimilated and ‘modernizing’ German Jew who made this argument a pillar of his philosophy was Karl Marx. “Marx argued, along with various Jew-baiters at the time, that it is not simply that Jews are coarsened by their involvement with commerce but, rather, that the Jews and their religion are immutably materialistic and degenerate and this drives them to engage in trade.”[44] It is hardly a coincidence that Marx’s father should have converted to Christianity, baptizing young Karl when he was six. We have here the prototype of the assimilated Jew, who wants to demonstrate to Christians that he is truly on the other side, a ‘good Jew,’ acceptable because he attacks his ‘former’ people. Marx was quite loud and proud in his displays of antisemitism.

“In his essay ‘On the Jewish Question’ (1844), Marx argues that the Jewish mind is too limited and Jewish thinking too concrete to have fashioned a true religion. Instead, it produced a pseudo-religion whose practical expression is materialism and occupation in trade. Also as a consequence of their limited nature, the Jews are incapable of creativity and lack aesthetic sensibility... Marx writes in the essay, ‘What is the worldly cult of the Jews? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money... That which is contained in an abstract form in the Jewish religion -- contempt for theory, for art, for history, and for man as an end in himself -- is the real, conscious standpoint of the man of money.’”[45]

Naturally Marx blamed the Jews for the very capitalism that his ideology was meant to extirpate from the world, so the essence of Marx’s program was actually the “liberation of the world from the ethos of the Jews!”[46] And the more Marx was attacked for being a Jew, the more he strove to demonstrate that he really wasn’t, ramping up the volume of his antisemitic attacks.

I hardly find it a coincidence that Marx, founder of a false ‘left’ that was thoroughly anti-liberal and would re-enslave the workers wherever it succeeded, murdering them also by the millions, should have been a ferocious antisemite. The Law of Moses that Marx so thoroughly despised, after all, was born, according to Exodus, in a slave revolution against an oppressive Egyptian kind, and is therefore designed with great care to protect the rights and liberties of ordinary workers.[47] Judaism is the real left, if anything is. If Marx was an enemy of the Jewish constitution, he couldn’t really be a friend of the workers, and the trajectory of his ideology stands in evidence: hardly anything in history has been worse for the workers than Marx’s ideology.

The biggest irony of all this is that by the end of the 19th c. and beginning of the 20th, “[the] Jewish pursuit of assimilation was being met with the shrill antisemitism purveyed by the new antisemitic political parties in Germany and Austria,” showing that assimilation was not actually the panacea against anti-Jewish hatred that the proponents of assimilation imagined.[48] Theodore Herzl, an assimilated Jew, reacted to this reality by becoming a nationalist Jew and launching the Zionist movement as a worldwide and politically relevant phenomenon. But many other assimilated Jews, finding themselves in limbo, rejected by the Christian society they had tried to assimilate to, and incapable of solidarity with a traditional Jewish community they had abandoned and attacked, concluded that they must really be plagued by an intrinsic inferiority that could not be shaken. Coming thus to the logical end of their ideology, they arrived at that singular phenomenon: hatred of their own selves, culminating in the pathos of that absurd -- though ideologically consistent -- curtain call of suicide. It was the case, for example, of Otto Weininger, who converted to Christianity in 1902, followed by his family. A year later he argued in Sex and Character that women were inferior in everything, devoting also a chapter to Jewish inferiority. He went out of his way to point out that he was a Jew and not excluded from his own condemnations. A year later he took the logical step and killed himself.[49]

Once the preceding context has been digested, it is possible to understand what follows. The great pressures on the Jews during the 19th c. that produced the above processes of assimilation -- especially in German lands -- sliced in two the Zionist movement. This rupture, as we shall see, made very difficult the defense of the Jewish people when, in the context of the German onslaught, patriots confronted traitors in the Jewish leadership.





Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\liberte.jpg















































































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\mendelssohn.jpg

Moses Mendelssohn









































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\gaon.gif

Elijah ben Solomon Zalman
( the Vilna Gaon )





















Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\poland.jpg

The Polish-Lithuanian
at its greatest extent






































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\marx.jpg

Karl Marx


The Zionist movement splits

Those most in danger from the growth of so-called ‘political antisemitism’were the more traditionalist Jews of the East, the great majority (90%). We should not be surprised, therefore, that support for the Zionist movement came especially from the masses of the Russian and Polish Jews. But those who were in a position to lead the movement were the assimilated upper class Jews in Western Europe, people such as Theodore Herzl. The founder of the Zionist movement worried especially about the Eastern European Jews, but he was an exception, and the growing dispute between assimilated and Orthodox Jews would pruduce a gash in the Zionist movement separating the two sides. This was to be expected because everybody was conscious that the future was being constructed, and those who militated for modernizing assimilation did not want Orthodoxy in the Jewish future.

The first great seismic movement would come when Chaim Weizmann and Theodore Herzl threw their weight in opposite directions, each on his tectonic plate.

Weizmann vs. Herzl/Jabotinsky

“Chaim Weizmann was a member of the community of young Russian Jews who had been locked out of universities in Russia because of czarist numeri clausi and had gone to Germany to study,” where the assimilationist movement among ‘educated’ Jews was strongest. Weizmann had joined the Zionist movement but, influenced by the Russian socialists -- ‘modernizing’ Marxists with a fiercely anti-religious ideology drenched in antisemitism -- allied with other Zionists of equal temperament, broke with Herzl, and split the Zionist Organization, creating the so-called Democratic Faction. “Herzl,” though not himself a religious Jew, “was worried about the potential large-scale defection of Orthodox Russian Jewry from the Zionist cause in the face of the Democratic Faction’s anti-religious agenda, [so he] hurriedly organized a meeting of supportive Russian Zionists, both Orthodox and nonreligous, in Vilna in February, in 1902. A religious Zionist party, Mizrachi, was formed at the meeting as a counterweight to the Democratic Faction within the Zionist Organization.” Soon this party gained the allegiance of many Zionists groups all over Russia, something that Weizmann didn’t like at all, and which led him to declare: “The rabbinical party is organizing itself in Jesuit fashion, and I think of their machinations with disgust. Everything is vulgar and foul.”[50]

When Herzl died in 1904, at age 44, Weizmann managed to become the leader of the Zionist Organization because Max Nordau, Herzl’s ally, refused to take the helm. This was a catastrophe. In line with his Marxist ideology, Weizmann began working to purge the Zionist Organization of anything that was “clerical, bourgeois, and conservative.”[51] He wanted to import into Palestine only “an elite... uninfected with the dross of Jewish bourgeois capitalism or traditional religiosity [in order to] construct a Jewish socialist utopia in Eretz Israel.”[51a] This left out the Eastern European Jews who most needed a place of refuge, the majority, and stood Herzl on his head. Weizmann was quite explicit in a letter he wrote in 1918 that he didn't want any Eastern Jews in Palestine and worried that if the Jews were forced out of Europe, “we shall have all the miserable refugees who will be driven out of Poland, Galicia, Rumania, etc., at the doors of Palestine. We shall be swamped in Palestine and shall never be able to set up a community worth having there.” Later he would declare publicly that the Jews of Europe, whom Herzl had founded the Zionist movement to save, were “economic and moral dust in a cruel world.” He did not mean to save them: “The old ones will pass; they will bear their fate or they will not... Only a branch will survive” (his branch).[51b]


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


The leader of the rebellion against the policies of Weizmann and his ally David Ben-Gurion was Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky wanted to organize, under protection of an imperial power, and fast, the immigration of many Jews to Palestine so that they could make them a majority there and declare a state that would protect the Jews who were being attacked with violent pogroms in Eastern and Central Europe. This was, precisely, Theodore Herzl’s strategy. But Jabotinsky injected a thoroughly military spirit. He had begun by organizing Jewish self-defense forces among the Russian Jews so they would not be passive victims of the pogroms. When WWI exploded, “he was convinced that Jews’ participation in the armed struggle” -- a Jewish Legion contributing to the conquest of the Middle East -- “would give them a claim to the spoils of war” after the victory, and they would be able to build their state.[52] “It took almost three years of single-minded effort on the part of Jabotinsky and much agitation on the part of others to bring the Jewish Legion into being,” a force that rose to 5000 Jewish soldiers.[53] But the British rapidly disbanded the Jewish Legion when they created the British Mandate and the Jews were once again without defense. When, with British encouragement, the Arabs launched a wave of terrorism against the Jews in 1920, “Jabotinsky again organized the Haganah self-defense forces which, many years later, became the nucleus of the Israeli army.”[54]

Whereas Weizmann wanted, in his words, nothing more than “a place where they [his Jews] formed an important part of the population... however small this place might be. For example, something like Monaco, with a university instead of a gambling-hall,”[62a] condemning once a gain a handful of Jews to live without protection in antisemitic lands, Jabotinsky wanted lots of Jewish immigration to Palestine, and fast, in order to acquire as much land as possible and create there a militarily capable majority that could declare a State.

Whereas Weizmann was a Marxist who rubbed shoulders with, and waxed sycophantic towards, anti-Zionist millionaires whom he wanted to include in an expanded Jewish Agency to help him develop Palestine, Jabotinsky was “unalterably opposed” to any such ideological oxymoron, and though he much preferred the free market to socialism, he “did not embrace capitalists -- especially the very rich -- without reservation,” the way Weizmann did.[62]

In historical context it is obvious that Jabotinsky was right about everything. In Palestine Hajj Amin al Husseini, the local Arab leader, created by the British as a tool of oppression against the Jews, was already intimidating or murdering all opposition to him among the Arabs, leaving only those who allied with his project of extermination. The Jewish immigrants who escaped the Russian pogroms had merely come to the Palestinian pogroms. The exile (Galut) had not ended. Without a policy to create a true Jewish state with a Jewish majority, and a military self-defense policy to confront the violence of Husseini, there would not be a long-term solution. This was Jabotinsky's argument.

The Jewish Agency

The main problem for Jewish security was that Weizmann and Co. were allied not with the Jewish people but with the British elite. “The Jewish Agency, led by [David] Ben-Gurion, [Moshe] Sharett et al.,” had been created by the British, in 1923. Ostensibly the British had done this to implement the mandate given by the League of Nations: “to prepare a homeland for Jews in Palestine.”[55] But “in reality, the Jewish Agency simply acted as an alter ego of the Zionist Organization, coordinating most of its important policy decisions in advance with London.”[56] The Jewish Agency didn't have any authority that the British Government didn't choose graciously to concede: “The Mandate authorities did not recognize the Jewish Agency as having any governmental authority in Palestine, but the Agency was widely viewed by the Jews of Palestine as their de facto government.”[56a] In Perfidy, Ben Hecht explains it like this:

“The British government asked the leaders of Zionism to submit for British approval a coterie of Jews who would be acceptable as chiefs of the new Jewish Agency. The coterie was submitted and blessed with British sanction. Thereafter the Jewish Agency became the Jewish face for the British rule of Palestine -- a sort of caricature of authority to which Jews could give their loyalty... It was not an elected body, but an appointed one. And just as it had been established by British approval it could be dissolved by British disapproval... [and] it remained unwavering in its loyalty to British policy.”[57]

What was this British policy to which the leadership of the Jewish Agency would remain “unwavering in its loyalty”?

This British policy did not limit itself to sabotaging the project of creating a Jewish state, creating for this purpose the terrorist Hajj Amín al Husseini and assisting his attacks against innocent Jews in Palestine, then using this violence as an argument to restrict Jewish immigration and reduce radically the territory where Jews had a right to settle.[58] Neither did this policy stop at forbidding entry to Palestine to any Jew who didn’t possess the equivalent of £1000 ($5000), which closed the doors to the impoverished Russian and Polish Jewish masses, many of them Orthodox.[59] Beyond this, the British ruling class, allied with other European elites, would set in motion a policy of so-called ‘appeasement’ that would allow Hitler to take over the European continent practically without having to draw his sword, producing a pan-continental right-wing coup that would lead to an anti-Jewish genocide whose chief architect would be, precisely, the British creation Hajj Amin al Husseini.[60] And the British would assist this genocide, closing the doors of Palestine to the desperate European Jews, and condemning the Hungarian Jews whom it could have easily saved to die in Auschwitz, in addition to doing all sorts of diplomacy to prevent, in general, the rescue of Jews.[61] The loyalty of Weizmann and his allies to British policy would extend even to cooperating with the destruction of Hungarian Jewry the last point.

Jabotinsky's Revisionists, by contrast, launched a passionate resistance against British policies. Natually, the British wanted to be rid of them, so Weizmann and Ben Gurion, always faithful to their masters, launched one attack after another against Jabotinsky's movement. And so it came to pass, in the same year of 1923 in which the British asked Weizmann to create the Jewish Agency, that Jabotinsky “dramatically resigned not only from his executive position, but from the Zionist Organization in a dispute over Weizmann’s leadership.”[63] He would later return to dispute the leadership of the Zionist Organization.

The Zionist Organization

The Zionist Organization was a king of landless State containing various parties that disputed among themselves the government of the Organization; Zionist Jews all over the world, so long as they contributed the symbolic shekel, had a right to vote, and the votes decided the proportional representation of the various parties in the Zionist Executive. One important party was the General Zionists, where “Faction ‘B,’ identified with Chaim Weizmann, worked closely with the Labor Zionists.”[66] The main labor party was David Ben-Gurion's Mapai, which began to dominate the entire political structure of the Zionist Organization and he Jewish Agency in Palestine. The only Zionist parties that consistently and doggedly opposed the policies of the Weizmann/Ben-Gurion/Mapai axis were Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Party and the religious Mizrachi Party.

That Jabotinsky had the right idea was demonstrated in the tremendous terrorist wave of 1929, when it became clear that the Zionist leaders in Palestine would not aggressively use the Haganah that Jabotinsky had created to defend the Jews from Husseini's attacks, and that they were giving in to the British policy that used that violence -- which the British themselves encouraged -- to tell the League of Nations that building a Jewish homeland was impractical. So, “from 1929 on, a fundamental change occurred in the organizational structure of the Zionist movement... [with a] consolidation of political parties,” with the Revisionists on one side and the labor movement on the other.[64]

“...the schocking impact of the 1929 riots bestowed an advantage on Jabotinsky’s militant opposition... [for] Jabotinsky could remind the voters of his previous cautions that the Zionist leadership was leading the movement into a blind alley, and the voters could see for themselves the truth of his statements. As the leader of the fighting opposition, he was now at the height of his renown, while Weizmann, the President of the Zionist movement, had been obliged to resign.”[65]

From the beginning, Jabotinsky had wanted his Revisionists to secede from the Zionist Organization and form their own, but in spite of the Revisionist Party being his creation, and himself a very popular leader, the majority of his followers wanted to stay and dispute the leadership. At the 17th Zionist Congress, in 1931, Jabotinsky formulated a platform he called the ‘ultimate objective’ which demanded that the Congress commit to the establishment of a Jewish state, on both banks of the Jordan, with a Jewish majority. If the Congress accepted this, he had won, “if not, then this was not a true Zionist movement and the Revisionists would draw the appropriate conclusion and secede.”[67]

In the elections that decided the proportional representation of the deputies to the 1931 Congress, the Revisionists won 21% of the vote, tripling their support -- a consequence of the blow to the Weizmann/Labor Zionist prestige after the 1929 debacle. But Weizmann and his allies had much support still. Because Jabotinsky had promised that the Revisionists would leave the Zionist Organization if his ‘ultimate objective’ were rejected, and because Weizamnn, Ben-Gurion, and allies, despite the risks, preferred that they leave,

“Ben Gurion had summoned up all his persuasive powers to prevent Mapai delegates from supporting [Jabotinsky’s] proposal. ...[then,] at the height of the tension, a cable arrived from Palestine, sent by Eliyahu Golomb and Saadia Shoshani, stating that the acceptance of the ‘ultimate objective’ proposal could spark an Arab pogrom in Palestine. The timing of the cable aroused suspicion, particularly among the Revisionists. However, it helped sway the vacillators, and the proposal was rejected.”[68]

It was of course false that the Arab pogroms against the Jews had anything to do with the policies of the Zionist Organization (unless we should speak of the positive incentive for Arab pogroms in the near-total inaction of the Jewish Agency when Arabs came to kill Jews). Hajj Amin al Husseini wanted to exterminate Jews: period. If 10,000 more came to Palestine, or 10,000 fewer, to him it was the same: he wanted to kill them all. If they established a state or merely came to till the land, it was the same: he would kill them all. So the only way to protect the Jews was to follow Jabotinsky’s lead: create a Jewish majority, and be well armed and prepared in order to defend from the inevitable antisemitic attacks. But Mapai had defeated this option. “[Jabotinsky] expressed his deep contempt for the Congress by the dramatic act of tearing up his membership card after the vote, declaring: ‘This is not a Zionist Congress.’” But his followers didn’t want to leave the Zionist Organization, arguing that, since they had just tripled their support, they would soon have control of the movement. At the same time that the Labor movement was unifying, consolidating and organizing, the dispute over what to do divided the Revisionists.[69]

There would be a high price to pay for this, for two years later, in 1933, Adolf Hitler would rise to power in Germany, and the Revisionists, despite their best intentions, would fail -- partly thanks to their internal divisions -- to save the boycott movement against the Germans that came within an inch of destroying Nazism. Mapai, partly thanks to its superior organization, successfully sabotaged the boycott and saved the Nazis (as we shall see). But Mapai didn't do this all by itself -- the Jewish leaders in the United States and Europe contributed enormously. These were for the most part assimilated Jews, and in particular Reform Jews, so to round out the context we will cast a look upon the main characteristics of the Reform movement.





Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\Herzl.jpg

Theodore Herzl







Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\Weizmann.jpg

Chaim Weizmann













Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\jabotinsky.jpg

Vladimir Zeev






Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\Ben_Gurion.JPG

David Ben-Gurion











Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\hajjamin.jpg

Hajj Amin al Husseini




Reform Judaism

The militant assimilationists wanted “to bring Jewish religious practice more into conformity with Christian practice,” and so they shoved the Talmud to one side and placed a greater emphasis “on the Hebrew Bible, which is sacred to both faiths.” They also wanted “to reform the book of prayer and to replace Hebrew with German,” and “sought to impose on Jewish religious practice at least a superficial resemblance to Protestant practice, with the expectation that this would make the Jews’ religion seem less alien to their neighbors and thereby win Jewish acceptance.” They represented all this as a way of “shedding the primitive and tainted for the progressive and modern and good.” They were also in favor of “removing from the liturgy all reference to Zion and Jerusalem and anything else that might suggest Jewish nationhood” in conflict with patriotism toward the countries they were living in.[70] Many assimilated German Jews thought that “Jewish ethnic identity” -- the very thing that made Jews a distinctive culture: their adherence to the system of Talmudic laws -- “should be denied”; at the same time, however, they “saw quintessential value in the tenets of Moses. These German Jews developed Reform Judaism.”[71]

The consequences of Reform Judaism

In 1922, in an article entitled ‘The Mission of Reform Judaism,’ Samuel Cohon, a defender of this movement, explained it like this:

“Reform Judaism represents the latest phase in the evolution of Jewish religious thought. It grew out of the post-Mendelssohnian intellectual endeavor to adapt the historic faith of Judaism to the changed conditions in Jewish life, following the French Revolution. Its pioneers, Jacobson, etc., were called upon to fight apostasy on the one hand and rigid orthodoxy on the other. Originating in Germany, the Reform Movement spread to other West European countries, and found an especially congenial home in democratic America. Its theology, as formulated by Abraham Geiger and his followers, is based on reason and on the scientific study of the Bible, Talmud, and Jewish tradition. Through its renewed emphasis on the ethical side of life, Reform Judaism has added new vigor to the age-old religion of Israel.”[72]

As we see in Samuel Cohon’s defense, officially Reform Judaism was supposedly opposed not only to orthodoxy but to apostasy. In other words, it represented itself as the way to save Judaism: “Advocates of reform often argued against critics that reform was necessary to retain Jews who found traditional Orthodoxy incompatible with the demands of modernity and would otherwise be lost to the community.”[73] But obviously, there was something else, here. As Cohon explains, Reform Judaism was a “post-Mendelssohnian intellectual endeavor,” meaning that it was inspired and led by the maskilim who followed Moses Mendelssohn and who, unlike him, didn’t feel any love for traditional Judaism. Max Lilienthal, for example, the main maskil allied with the Tsarist government to destroy Jewish orthodoxy in Russia, “emigrated to the United States in 1845 and became a prominent Reform rabbi there.”[74]

“Certainly,” concedes another defender of Reform Judaism, “some of the changes made Jewish life look more Christian: the organ music, the new synagogue architecture, [and] the regular sermon.”[75] The vestments of Reform rabbis also imitate the garb of Protestant pastors. So in the superficial details as in the deeper questions -- such as the removal of the Talmud -- Reform Judaism was going in the direction of Protestant Christianity. Was this really the way to prevent apostasy to Christianity? Or was this, more likely, an intermediate step that facilitated conversion? The statistics speak for themselves: today more than 50% of Jews raised in Reform Judaism marry gentiles, and in general they do not educate their children in Judaism -- not even Reform Judaism.[76] This trend could be seen from the very start: “even many of Reform Judaism’s pioneers ultimately converted to Christianity.”[77]

Cohon explains above that the theology of Reform Judaism was “formulated by Abraham Geiger and his followers.” Certain aspects of Abraham Geiger’s ideology are made clear by his reaction to what happened in 1840, when the medieval blood libel -- the accusation that the Jews were supposedly in the habit of stealing Christian children to torture them to death and perhaps eat them in satanic rituals that celebrated the murder of Jesus -- was revived against the Jews of Damascus, who were accused of murdering a Capuchin monk and his Muslim servant to use their blood in their rites.

“A number of prominent European Jews spoke out forcefully against the libel and several joined a delegation to Egypt to bring their concerns to the authorities there, as Damascus was then under the control of the Egyptian ruler Mohammed Ali. Among the delegates were Moses Montefiore, a leading figure in British Jewry, and the French Jewish statesman Adolph Cremiuex. But Abraham Geiger, a key founder of Reform Judaism, was critical of the delegation. Geiger declared: ‘For me it is more important that Jews be able to work in Prussia as pharmacists or lawyers than that the entire Jewish population of Asia and Africa be saved, although as a human being I sympathize with them.’”[78]

Geiger worked very hard to demonstrate to the ruling class in Prussia that he didn’t have any interests that could be interpreted as pan-Jewish, going to the extreme of opposing an international effort to defend the Damascene Jews from lies that had produced antisemitic mass killings in the Middle Ages. The Jews in the Muslim world were Orthodox, not reformed; Geiger did not care whether they were saved -- or at least their very lives were less important to him than the freedom of a Prussian Jew to open a pharmacy. One is entitled to wonder what this ‘sympathy’ was that Geiger claimed to feel, “as a human being,” for the Jews of Asia and Africa.

Reform Judaism in the United States

As Cohon also explains, Reform Judaism flourished especially in the United States, when many German Jews immigrated there during the 19th c. The three most important Jewish organizations in the US were the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, and the American Jewish Congress, and the first two were vehicles for German Reform Jewry.

“Both the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith were founded by well-to-do German Jews with a special outlook. Like other European Jews, the Germans immigrated en masse following the political upheavals of the mid-nineteenth century. But unlike their East European counterparts, the Germans clung to their original national identity [as Germans], and were economically more established. Moreover, many German Jews believed they were so-called Hofjuden, or courtly Jews, and that coreligionists from Poland and Russia were ‘uncivilized’ and embarrassing. The bias was best summarized in a June 1894 German-American Jewish newspaper, the Hebrew Standard, which declared that the totally acclimated American Jew is closer to ‘Christian sentiment around him than to the Judaism of these miserable darkened Hebrews.’”[79]

The Jewish multitudes that had immigrated from Eastern Europe, resenting the prejudices of the hofjuden in the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith, formed the American Jewish Congress in 1917. The next year WWI ended and a combined delegation of the Committee and the Congress went to negotiate Jewish rights at Versailles, “but the Committee leaders split off from other American Jewish groups...when -- in the Committee view -- the proposed rights [for the European Jews!] went ‘too far.’” A new map of Europe was being created at Versailles that would supposedly create nationally homogenous states, guaranteeing the rights of those minorities left stranded within the new ‘nation-states.’ Committee leaders were opposed to the Zionist insistence that Jews be considered a national minority with the right to its own state -- in Palestine. This was consistent with the central purpose of the maskilim, which was to abolish all representation of the Jewish people as a nation, for what they frankly wanted to do was make the Jews disappear into the Christians. But “American Jewish Congress leaders,” that is to say, the representatives of the Jewish orthodox masses in the United States, “returned from Versailles in triumph. They had helped create a Jewish homeland.”[80]

By the time Hitler took power in 1933, “the Congress stood as the most representative and outspoken Jewish defense organization. In contrast, B’nai B’rith functioned as little more than a fraternal order... And the Committee, in 1933, basically represented the interests of about three hundred and fifty prominent Jewish members.” In other words, the democratic force representing the Jewish masses in the United States was the American Jewish Congress, in the hearts of whose members, “predominantly East Europeans” burned the love of Judaism. Comparatively speaking, the Congress was not so well endowed, financially, despite its vast membership, because the members were for the most part unwealthy Jews, whereas “the Committee and B’nai B’rith -- which often acted as a binary lobby -- were respected, influential, and adequately financed, with access to the most powerful circles of American government and business.”[81]

The US experience repeated the German pattern: the upper class maskilim Jews who opposed Orthodox Judaism were assimilating to the American upper classes and supported their policies. These were Jews whose process of assimilation in Germany had already produced a German ethnic identity: they felt themselves to be more German than Jewish, and they loved Germany more than Judaism (many of them frankly despised Judaism). In the American upper classes, at the time, the ideology of the biological superiority of the Germans, eugenics, was immensely popular (the Anglo-Saxons were a Germanic tribe, so they felt included), especially among those who held the reins of industrial and government power.[82] These American eugenicists would sponsor the growth of German eugenics, especially after 1918, and it would become German Nazism.[82a] For the German Jews who dominated the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith, their opposition to Orthodox Judaism, their identification with, and assimilation to, the eugenicist Christian upper classes, and their primary identity as Germans made it unlikely that they could oppose Adolf Hitler’s regime in defense of the European Jews.


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


But the foregoing does not yet fully explain why Hitler succeeded.
We must also explain why the American Jewish Congress, which was very good at organizing big protests, and whose membership was full of Orthodox Jews who wanted to fight Nazism, failed when the moment came to lead the 1933 boycott against Germany that almost destroyed the Nazis. The main reason was this: although the Congress represented especially Orthodox Jews who had emigrated from Polish and Russian lands, the founder and leader of the organization, Stephen S. Wise, was a Reform rabbi. There was a ‘spy’ at the summit.

Reform Rabbi Stephen Wise

When Stephen Wise is mentioned it is common to hear that he was heavily involved in progressive causes such as the defense of the rights of Jews, women, organized labor, and blacks. But Stephen Wise was also quite close to radical eugenicist Woodrow Wilson, who pioneered New Jersey’s state eugenics law and who was an ally of the Ku Klux Klan.[83] Wise’s best friend was Louis Brandeis, an assimilated Jew who became Supreme Court Justice and voted in favor of the eugenicist fraud that legalized forced incarceration and sterilization for lower-class non-‘Aryans’ deemed ‘feebleminded’ in the US.[84] But the most important point is that Wise would ally with Roosevelt’s policy, betraying the Jews during the Holocaust -- and with great energy, launching one attack after another against the Jews of the Jabotinsky movement who wanted to save their European brethren from slaughter.[85]

How to reconcile Wise's reputation as a defender of the less fortunate with these other aspects of his career? We have seen that there was a pnchant for strong contradictions among militant assimilationist Jews: 1) they ingratiated themselves with the Christian upper classes; 2) they adopted a project of modern and progressive universal ethics; but 3) they absorbed and made theirs the worst antisemitic prejudices, in complete contradiction with the modern liberal ethics they so proudly defended. Wise’s friendships with powerful reactionaries followed from the first point. His efforts to defend the weak, from the second. And his behavior towards the Jewish menace, from the first and the third.

It was Wise’s very prestige as an advocate of the weak, and as a Jewish leader, that made him so effective sabotaging the defense of the Jewish people -- precisely what the US ruling class wanted. It was confusing for many well-meaning gentiles who wanted to combat antisemitism when Stephen Wise -- the most important Jewish leader in the United States, and with a reputation for defending the oppressed -- told them that this was counterproductive or unnecessary. Of course, given that Wise was president of the American Jewish Congress, and given that this organization had the most members and also the most militant, where even many of the top leaders wanted to fight Hitler, Wise could not openly declare himself against defending the Jewish people. Which is to say that Wise carefully balanced himself on a tightrope, for he needed to maintain his leadership position in the antinazi protest movement at the same time that he sabotaged it. But despite the difficulties imposed by the structure of his situation, his was a dramatic performance, and comparable to what Neville Chamberlain would later do: when a boicot was about to destroy the Nazis in 1933, Wise, who had it within his power to destroy Hitler, in fact saved the German dictator and forsook the European Jews.

This will not surprise those who understand that Stephen Wise's ideology was in fact that of Chaim Weizmann:

“Reform Rabbi Stephen Wise, the undisputed leader of organized American Jewry, called [Vladimir Zeev] Jabotinsky a ‘traitor’ for preaching evacuation of over a million eastern Jews. ...Furthermore, Wise claimed, the Jabotinsky movement was guilty of bringing unselected, ‘unsuitable’ Jews to Palestine. As the United Palestine Appeal’s director Henry Montor [an ally of Wise] wrote, ‘No responsible person has ever said that Palestine could hold all the millions of Jews who need shelter.’ Montor condemned those who ignored the ‘need’ for selecting Jews ‘worthy’ of settling in Palestine: ‘I think it is fair to point out that many who have been brought into Palestine by the Revisionists [sic] have been prostitutes and criminals.’”[85a]

Once Stephen Wise's ideology is understood, it is not so difficult to explain his performance during the dramatic boicot that the Jews of all the world set in motion, with their gentile allies, and supported by Jabotinsky's revisionists, against Adolf Hitler's regime.

What has been documented up to here, then, is sufficient context to understand why Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, and Stephen Wise sabotaged the aforementioned boicot, saving Nazism. The story of the 20th c. has been written so tendentiously, however, that few Jews are even aware that this boicot -- a worldwide event -- even took place, much less are they aware of how it was betrayed. That story now follows, below.






Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\geiger.jpg 

Abraham Geiger
( founding theologian of Reform Judaism )












































































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\wise.jpg

Rabbi Stephen Wise


1933: The Jewish boycott against the Nazis

In 1933 Hitler was first named interim chancellor. Then he burned the Reichstag and blamed it on the leftists in order to declare emergency powers with which to ‘protect’ Germany, he said, from an imminent leftist revolution. With such powers he forbade everybody from any political campaigning during the elections -- except the Nazis, who did it with the support of the state, and deploying their paramilitary menace. Only thus, and in the context of an anti-communist (and anti-Jewish) hysteria, in the middle of a Great Depression that was especially acute in Germany due to the policies of the Western powers, and with the support of other conservative parties, was Hitler, just barely, able to produce a governing majority.

In that interval, after Hitler was named chancellor but before the elections, the main American Jewish leaders got together to discuss what they would do. Two representatives of the American Jewish Congress, Stephen Wise’s organization (see section above on Reform Judaism), wanted protests to show the Germans that there would be consequences if they voted for Hitler’s party. But “the men of B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Committee rejected this,” and at that meeting it was decided that they would wait and see what happened.[86]

There was hardly any need to wait. In the campaign the Nazi stormtroopers were already attacking the Jews. When the Central Verein (the biggest Jewish organization in Germany) published a report of the antisemitic attacks -- on the 5th of May, the day the elections were held -- and predicted there would be more violence, the Nazis immediately consummated the prophecy by sacking their offices. After counting the votes the Nazis took control of all German institutions and “on March 8 and 9, Hitler’s Storm Troopers smashed into the provinces and towns,” with “carefully orchestrated anti-Jewish actions in Essen, Magdeburg, and Berlin.”[87]

Goering had met twice with the leaders of the Central Verein to assure them that everything would calm down, for the Nazis were quite worried of the American reaction. But this American reaction was brewing already: on 12 March the American Jewish Congress approved a program of protests and marches that would culminate in a massive demonstration in Madison Square Garden on the 27th. One vice-president of the Congress, Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, told the reporters that there would be a great boycott against Germany if the violence against the Jews did not abate. With the speed of lightning, the assimilated German Jews of the American Jewish Committee, with their assimilated German Jewish allies in B’nai B’rith (see section above on Reform Judaism), called a meeting of the three main Jewish organizations, stating their categorical opposition to any protest, and especially to a boycott. What would Stephen Wise do? He could not take the same position, quite, because his own people -- overwhelmingly Eastern European (more traditional) Jews -- were demanding action, so he came as close as he could: he opposed a boycott as such and said that his friend, Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Judge, was advising not to bother the new president Franklin Roosevelt (an acquaintance of Wise’s) with this yet. Neither did Wise want a march, and he proposed timidly instead that they sign a joint protest declaration, and no more. But a crushing majority of his Congress voted for marching, and so the Congress leaders were informed the next morning that “the Committee-B’nai B’rith binary would dissociate itself from the Congress -- indeed from any organized Jewish protest against Hitler.”[88]

I must emphasize the context. The dailies on both sides of the Atlantic were reporting the atrocities against the German Jews, and precisely during these dates, Hitler was approaching the climax when the Reichstag would vote on the Enabling Act to give him absolute power within the German Reich (the law was voted on March 23). A worried Goebbels wrote in his diary: “The horrors propaganda abroad gives us much trouble.”[89] Should the Nazis fail to employ the desperate Germans because their anti-Jewish policies produced an international boycott, Hitler’s future would be abolished. Therefore, the hurried reaction of the Committee and B’nai B’rith leaders -- and within his limitations, of Stephen Wise -- was benefiting Hitler. In fact, it was rescuing him, because his position was quite fragile.

It was not just Stephen Wise and the leaders of the Committee and B'nai B'rith. Wealthy Jews in the United States were in general opposed to defending their European brethren. For example, Adolph Ochs, from an assimilated German Jewish family, and maried to Effie Wise, daughter of Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise (important in American Reform Judaism), was the owner of the New York Times. Early on, “[he] had established a pattern of limiting discussion of the Nazi's depredation of the Jews, [and] when, shortly after Hitler's ascension to power, the paper was challenged to open its letter columns to the plight of Germany's Jews, publisher Adolph Ochs refused. He explained that to do so would generate too much mail and would require, under Times rules, that he give equal space to the other side.”[89a] Poppycock.

Moral heroes are rarely the powerful, the rich, or the strong, because heroism requires confronting the special interests that keep these people in their positions -- they have a lot to lose. It should not surprise us, therefore, that it was a tiny Jewish organization, closer to the pulse of the masses, the Jewish War Veterans, that voted unanimously on 18 March to launch a national boycott of German goods and services. This was the 'mouse that roared,' and from this point onwards an amazing confrontation began between the Jewish masses and their leaders: ordinary Jews participated with joyous energy, agitating and organizing to grow the boycott and destroy Nazism, while their wealthy, established leaders made passionate efforts to sabotage it all. The Jewish masses would come quite close to defeating Hitler, but he got away by the skin of his teeth, thanks to the established Jewish leaders. All of this is documentad with great detail by Jewish historian Edwin Black in his monumental work: The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. I will rely mostly on his work.

A transatlantic betrayal

The Jewish War Veterans wanted to produce a fait accomplit and bring the rest of the Jews to join their boycott declaration of 18 March. They had to convince Stephen Wise because the people of the Congress, even the leaders, were almost all agitating for a boycott -- only Wise, at the top, interposed himself. To resist, Wise supported himself with what the Jewish leaders in Europe were doing.

On 19 March “a group of European Jewish organizations analogous to the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith” -- which is to say, steered by upper-class Jews who assimilated to the Christian ruling classes, and quite distant from the Jewish masses -- called a conference in Paris. What was their purpose? They “tried to stifle the growing protest movement on the [European] Continent inspired by the American Jewish Congress.” The Paris decision was unanimous against any protest, so the “Committee people in New York could now tell the Congress that Jewish organizations closest to the trouble in Europe agreed that there should be no public agitation against Hitler.” People from the Committee rushed that night to the emergency planning conference of the Congress to urge calm.”[89b]

They were not well received. On the contrary, “[their] words of caution were emphatically rejected by the [Congress] delegates who well knew that the Committee had become a megaphone -- via friends and family relations [in Germany] -- for Nazi pressure on the American anti-German protest movement.” The Congress membership cheered and celebrated that it would confront the Nazis, and “J. George Freedman, commander in chief of the Jewish War Veterans, ...proudly announced his organization had already -- on its own initiative -- commenced the national anti-Nazi boycott.” Joseph M. Proskauer, from the Committee, turned livid and attacked the proposal saying that a boycott would endanger the German Jews even more, which produced loud polyglot disapproval in English, Yiddish, and Russian.[89c]

“Stephen Wise,” the reluctant leader of the excited Congress, then “stepped in to avoid total humiliation for the Committee,” promising that the protest declaration would be rewritten. And so, “through Wise’s counsel, the Congress did not declare a boycott.” The tiny Jewish War Veterans organization decided then and there that, despite the opposition of Stephen Wise, they would organize the boycott themselves, and other leaders of the American Jewish Congress attached themselves informally to the effort.[90]

Wise was trying to contain an avalanche in his own organization.

The leaders in Palestine

Also on 19 March the swastikas were unfurled in the German consulates in British Mandate Palestine. “Angry Tel Aviv Jews prepared to storm the consulates and burn the new German flag. But Zionist leaders were afraid to provoke the Nazis.” Why? According to Edwin Black, “lest Berlin suddenly clamp down on Zionist organizing and fundraising activities in Germany.”[90a] I find this explanation strange and in any case insufficient.

Allow me to point out the following. The two main leaders of the Jewish Agency -- David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharrett -- would later, in the 50s, launch themselves at the head of the Israeli government against the elderly Malchiel Greenwald, suing him for supposed slander in order to defend Rudolf Kastner of Greenwald’s charge that Kastner had helped Adolf Eichmann butcher 800,000 Hungarian Jews. Why did Ben-Gurion and Sharrett attack old Malchiel Greenwald? Because, as was demonstrated at the trial (which Greenwald won), David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharrett were implicated in Kastner’s crime, just as their ally Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel, was implicated too.[91] It is useful to keep in mind that the Labor Zionist leaders of the Jewish Agency would go to these extremes of collaboration during the Holocaust when we try to understand their resistance to any anti-Nazi protest in the year 1933 (see the section above on the split within the Zionist movement for an explanation of the differences between Labor and Revisionist Zionism)..

It is important to keep in mind that the ideology of these Labor Zionist leaders was not the ideology of the common Jew.

“[T]he Yishuv -- that is, the Jewish population of Palestine -- was not following the direction of the Zionist Organization leadership. Despite official Zionist calls to abstain from anti-Nazi activities..., the rank and file said no. As early as February 1933, Jewish newspapers in Palestine began urging a boycott, and merchants in great numbers complied.”[92]

There was a clear parallel to the situation in the United States. Not only because the American Jews were asking for a boicot that their leaders were resisting, but becasue their main leader, Stephen Wise, “was a cornerstone activist in the American Zionist movement.”[93] Wise led the General Zionist party, and his right-hand man Nahum Goldmann led the Radical Zionist Party. Both parties were more or less aligned with the Mapai Party of Labor Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion.

The Jewish masses join the boycott

The pressure of the Jewish masses all over the world for a boycott was actually tremendous. The Jews of Vilna, a city that in those days was in Poland and populated predominantly by Poles and Jews, organized a pro-boycott demonstration on 20 March. Astutely, because there were lots of rumors that the Nazis were planning to attack Poland (Hitler had hinted that he would occupy the Polish Corridor in order to give himself to the German city of Danzig), the Jews of Vilna gave their anti-Nazi boycott a strong flavor of Polish national defense. In this way they broadened their appeal and produced a model of Jewish-Christian alliance that -- despite widespread antisemitism (for the Catholic Polish population was heavily antisemitic) -- could be forged in the rest of Europe against the Nazis. This naturally contributed to the prestige of the pro-boycott efforts of the Jewish War Veterans in New York.[94]

But the leaders of the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith condemned the boycott excitement in the American Jewish Congress, giving the US government all the political protection it needed to do nothing, for these were “the influential and prominent leaders of the Jewish community.”[95] Congress leader Stephen Wise himself “assured the State Department that he would not demand American diplomatic countermeasures until the department could verify the atrocity reports.”[96] Verify what? The antisemitic outrages were happening in broad daylight. Wise was giving the antisemites who were all over the State Department a way out. And they took it.

Undersecretary of State William Phillips, after his interview with Wise, gave a press conference in which he announced:

“Following the visit of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the Department has informed the American Embassy at Berlin of the press report of mistreatment of Jews in Germany... [and] the deep concern these reports are causing in this country. The Department has instructed the Embassy to make...a complete report of the situation.”[97]

The words “following the visit of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise” were perfectly unnecessary, and they do not seem innocent to me. To some these words communicated that the “deep concern” was certainly not being felt in the US government. To others, influenced by the propaganda of the worldwide antisemitic movement, which accused ‘the Jews’ of being a powerful and nefarious influence that controlled the US government behind the scenes, it seemingly confirmed that their antisemitic fantasy was real. And what would the State Department’s ‘report’ consist of? “In truth, no investigation took place.” Secretary of State Cordell Hull simply asked his chargé d’affaires in Berlin, George A. Gordon, “for an encouraging report -- justified or not -- to soothe angry Jewish groups.”[98]

 “‘We are under heavy pressure to make representations on their [the Jews’] behalf to the German government,’ [said Hull to Gordon]. Hull added that he didn’t want to make any such protests, but if some assuasive statement [suggesting that things were not so bad in Germany, and getting better] could be issued to the press, it might help cancel the ‘monster mass meeting’ Wise [that is to say, the American Jewish Congress] had scheduled for March 27.”[99]

Gordon communicated to Hull what was really going on: that soon the Jews would be expelled from the professions, that the denials from the Nazis that they were oppressing the Jews were “absurd,” and that the denials coming from Jewish groups had almost certainly been coerced. With perfect cynicism, Gordon suggested to Hull that he back himself up, anyway, with the coerced denials of the German Jews, and with the phony Nazi denials, when he told the American public that nothing much was going on. He also gave Hull the material that he needed. Beyond this, Gordon “held meetings with several of his counterparts in the Berlin diplomatic community, obtaining a consensus against any efforts in their countries to use diplomatic channels as a medium of protest against Adolf Hitler.”[100]

Ordinary Jews then struck another blow: the Jewish War Veterans staged a protest march on 23 March in New York, at the same time that the Reichstag was conferring absolute power on Adolf Hitler. The march was a staggering success. Many important figures joined the effort, and the response of the masses was electrifying.

“In solidarity, W.W. Cohen, vice-president of the American Jewish Congress, accepted the position of parade marshal. He participated at his own initiative, since Stephen Wise was still reluctant to commit the Congress to a boycott per se... [But] Cohen’s visibility nevertheless associated the powerful Congress with the JWV’s banners and placards declaring economic war with Germany.”[101]

The boycott kick-off generated lots of press and recruited the support of many Jews and non-Jews, igniting also the enthusiasm of prominent people. Worldwide excitement recalled the outraged reaction 35 years earlier to the slanderous accusations against Alfred Dreyfus (a Jewish officer in the French Army falsely accused of treason), and the more recent reaction that had defeated Henry Ford’s antisemitic propaganda campaign with a Jewish-led boycott against Ford Motor Co.[102] In Warsaw there was much discussion about whether Poland should join the boycott of the Vilna Jews and the Jewish War Veterans in New York. “Boycott movements were also fast developing in Lithuania, France, Holland, Great Britain, and Egypt.” Immediate results could be seen against the German steamship lines in New York, and the British trade unions and leaders of the Labor Party were covering London with signs that read: BOYCOTT GERMAN GOODS. Several firms were canceling already their German orders. The next day, 24 March, pro-boycott signs could already be seen in London’s exclusive areas.[103]

The Nazi reaction

The Germans were quite worried, and Goering summoned to his office the leaders of the three main German Jewish organizations. The Zionists were not invited, according to Black because the Nazis hated the Zionists. But the Nazis hated all Jews. I find more logical another reason that Black also provides: “In 1933...Zionism in Germany was a mere Jewish fringe movement.”[104] In other words, the Nazis didn’t think that the Zionists had much influence. In any case the Zionists quickly mobilized and managed to secure an invitation for Kurt Blumenfeld, the president of the German Zionist Federation.

Goering kept them standing and accused them of being responsible for all the agitation against Germany. He threatened them, saying: “Unless you put a stop to these libelous accusations immediately, I shall no longer be able to vouch for the safety of the German Jews.” Like a typical Nazi, Goering had unwittingly satirized himself: if you keep saying that we attack the Jews, we'll attack the Jews. Goering wanted them to go to London and the US to convince the Jewish leaders that nothing was going on. Brodnitz, from the Central Verein, didn’t dare say that, in fact, “his vice-president Ernest Wallach was already in the United States trying to dissuade the [American Jewish] Congress.”[105] The Zionist Blumenfeld then declared that they had a worldwide organization and therefore could influence things. The link was obvious because Stephen Wise, leader of the American Jewish Congress, was a very important Zionist leader in the US, founder of the American Federation of Zionists in 1897, and had been named the year after that the US secretary of the world Zionist movement.[106]

“Once uttered, the words forever changed the relationship between the Nazis and the Zionists. It was suddenly clear that the Jewish group the Reich had been ignoring was, in fact, the one it should be negotiating with in its efforts to combat the Jewish presence in Germany. After all, both Nazis and Zionists agreed that Jews did not belong in Germany.”[107]

After the meeting, Blumenfeld and the other three carried out Goering’s orders, immediately mobilizing their organizations to inundate Great Britain and the United States with denials of the reports of mistreatment of Jews. They traveled to London and, from there, the very morning of March 27, spoke to Wise and begged him to cancel the demonstration that was planned for that day in Madison Square Garden.[108] Ernest Wallach from the Central Verein, when he learned of Goering’s order, also begged Stephen Wise that if he could not cancel the demonstration he should at least try to quiet down the emotions.[109]

Goering’s envoys were not fooling anybody: Bernard Deutsch, president of the American Jewish Congress, declared the effort to convince them that nothing was going on “pitifully unconvincing” and Wise (who was the ‘honorary’ president but all the same the real leader) couldn't disagree. The patriotic Jewish pressure on Wise was very strong, and so neither could he cancel the 27 March demonstration, even though the leaders of the other two important Jewish organizations pressured and attacked him, and even though Secretary of State Cordell Hull was feeding him false reports that everything was improving in Germany.[110]

What Wise could do, however, within limits, was quiet down the emotions, like Ernest Wallach was asking him to do.

The Madison Square Garden demonstration was an amazing, monster success. In the climax speech, Wise defended the protest event he was presiding and condemned the mistreatment of Jews in Germany, for he could hardly do otherwise. But Wise, whose excessive histrionics were quite famous, “surprised many by discarding some of the dramatic techniques he often employed,” and “at first he [even] spoke in conciliatory tones.” He neither ridiculed nor threatened the Nazis, as the speakers before him had done, and he did not mention the word ‘boycott.’ In fact, “No direct word about a boycott against Germany was actually mentioned at Madison Square Garden. Neither was the budding Jewish War Veteran’s boycott or the Polish boycott encouraged at the rally, even though it was an opportunity to expand those movements vastly. The decision was Stephen Wise’s.” And why that decision? Because Wise first wanted to see what the State Department would do, says Edwin Black. That’s what Wise said, but to repeat his explanation as if it were obviously true, with zero comment, strikes me as uncritical. Wise was very well informed and equally well connected, so he simply had to understand that he had already guaranteed the total inaction of the US diplomats.[111]

In spite of Wise, the ant-Nazi boycott began to surge with great enthusiasm, and days after the boycott declaration the Jewish War Veterans could already show $2 million in canceled German orders. The Nazis, very worried, reacted like Nazis: coinciding with the New York demonstration, they announced a retaliatory boycott against the German Jews that would begin 1 April unless the campaign against Germany ceased. Naturally, the Nazi enthusiasts in the ranks just couldn’t wait, so there immediately began a fever of unofficial boycotts and expulsions against the German Jews right after the announcement. This is something the Nazis were going to do anyway, but they weren’t planning to start in 1933: the worldwide reaction had precipitated things for Hitler.[112]

This worldwide reaction, I emphasize, came from the Jewish people, and their allies in the Gentile (non-Jewish) populations. They did not have the support of the main Jewish leaders, and neither could they count with the Western gvernments.





Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\hitler.jpg

Adolf Hitler





































































































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\hull.jpg

Cordell Hull
( US Secretary of State )














































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\goering.gif

Hermann Goering



Rushing to satisfy Hitler

At that time, Hitler’s cabinet had a majority of non-Nazi members and they were all opposed to the boycott against the Jews, because already by 29 March it was obvious that Hitler’s retaliation against the German Jews was becoming the oxygen, in big gaping mouthfuls, of the anti-Nazi combustion all over the world, growing the boycott that threatened to destroy the Third Reich’s economy (let’s not forget that the world was trying to recover from the Great Depression -- this was the worst possible time to be the victim of a boycott). And, anyway, to boycott the German Jews was for the Nazis to shoot themselves in their jackboots because the Jews played an important role in the German economy, and many ‘Aryans’ whom the Nazi Party had promised to employ ended up jobless when the Jewish businesses went broke.[113] Germany could not win this fight. But Hitler never made decisions because they were good for Germany.

The people around Hitler beg him to desist

Hitler promised that his boycott would take place with discipline, and without violence.[114] An empty promise, because nobody really could contain the Nazi masses: a bloody pogrom was in the offing that would confirm all the accusations people were making abroad.

“A Leipzig newspaper had already warned Jews against defiance or provocative self-defense. ‘Should a shot be fired at our beloved leader, all Jews in Germany would immediately be put against the wall, and bloodshed would result which, in its ghastliness, will exceed anything the world has ever seen.’”[115]

The internal pressure on Hitler was growing. In his cabinet, only Frick, the Interior Minister, and Goering were in favor of the anti-Jewish boycott. By 30 March even a rabid Nazi such as Hjalmar Schacht was insisting with his führer that it had to be canceled. “The Justice Ministry warned that the boycott was patently illegal and that the courts might enjoin the entire affair.” The Foreign Minister, Konstantin von Neurath, was especially preoccupied and recruited President Hindenburg to exert some pressure on Hitler. When he saw that he could not convince him, Neurath presented his resignation, which meant Hindenburg would probably also resign, bringing down the entire government.[115a]


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


This finally forced Hitler to ‘compromise’: if in the next 12 hours the Jewish leaders abroad and the Western governments publicly declared that they would not participate in an anti-Nazi boycott, he said, he would cancel his own boycott against the German Jews. In reality Hitler had conceded nothing: from the beginning he had said that he would launch his anti-Jewish boycott if the agitation against him continued; now he was saying that he would cancel his boycott only if the agitation against him ceased. Can you spot the difference? But it worked. Neurath withdrew his resignation and promised to obtain the declarations that his führer demanded.[116]

The Western governments mobilize to save Hitler

At the same time, the leaders of the US State Department were communicating with their German counterparts, saying to them: “it is not the purpose of this government to the domestic concern[s] of Germany.”[117] Translation: the US government was not opposed to the anti-Jewish attacks but wanted to save Nazism from the effects of its own policies. The British government, though it was being pressured by the House of Commons and the public, also communicated that it didn’t wish to intervene against the Nazis.[118]

The German Hans Dieckoff then told US chargé d’affaires George Gordon of his führer’s ‘new’ ultimatum; Gordon recommended to Cordell Hull that he quickly make the declaration Hitler was demanding. At the same time, “German officials were telephoning their embassies in London, Washington, and Paris, urging similar declarations from Jewish leaders as well as the governments of England and France.”[119] The Western governments were walking a tightrope, for they “struggled to compose public statements that would not outrage their citizenry and yet satisfy Hitler” -- a difficult feat because the Western publics were getting angrier and angrier, and they were organizing ever more effectively to destroy the Nazis.[120]

The Western governments comply with
Hitler's ultimatum

When it became known that Hitler was demanding formal declarations from Jewish leaders against the anti-Nazi boycott, “Berlin Zionists sent an urgent telegram to the Zionist Organization in London asking for such a proclamation. The cable reached Rosenbluth, Lichteim and Tietz [the Zionist Jews Goering had sent to London] about midnight on March 30.”[139] Prodded by Chaim Weizmann, these people succeeded in getting Lord Reading -- a prominent Jew who had been making much noise against Germany in the House of Commons -- and Lord Herbert Samuel, also Jewish, to make a joint declaration saying that “we deprecate exaggerated reports of occurrences [in Germany] or any attempts to boycott German goods.” Following this the British Foreign Minister John Simon gave the German ambassador a letter supporting that declaration.[140] The British government, and Jewish leaders in Britain, had complied with Hitler’s ultimatum.

(Lord Herbert Samuel was a Jewish member of the British aristocracy (he even became Viscount) who in 1921 had been High Commissioner for Palestine, which is to say British ruler of Palestine. On Winston Churchill’s orders, who was then Colonial Secretary, Samuel had elevated Hajj Amin al Husseini to the post of Mufti of Jerusalem after Husseini demonstrated that he could organize massive terrorist waves against innocent Jews.[141] Edwin Black explains that Samuel was “a great friend of the Zionist movement,” which really means that he was a Weizmann and Mapai sympathizer.)

Goering’s Zionist envoys also “dispatched cables to Stephen Wise and the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, instructing them to notify Adolf Hitler formally that no anti-German boycott would be organized.” They did this in the name of the Executive Committee of the Zionist Organization, but without consulting that body. When the Zionist Executive realized what had happened it sent a message to the Jewish Agency that it should wait a bit, but by then the message had been sent. The newspapers in Palestine published what the Jewish Agency had done, and this “changed the nature of the boycott in Palestine. It quickly became a grass-roots trend spreading in spite of Zionist leadership. Hence, it was no different from the boycott in America and many other countries. People wanted to boycott and fight. Leaders refused.”[142]

In the United States Stephen Wise did not denounce the boycott but he did not support it either. He kept silent. Edwin Black interprets this as an anti-Nazi posture: Wise refused to pronounce the capitulation Hitler had demanded in his ultimatum. But it was politically impossible for Wise to produce such a declaration, because he was leading an American Jewish organization whose members, the most numerous, were also those most eager to confront Hitler. In this context, Wise’s behavior can once again be interpreted as a sabotage of Jewish self-defense that went as far as the structure of his political situation allowed. The bulk of the evidence will allow us to decide, later, which interpretation is more reasonable.

The leaders of the American Jewish Committee were not under such pressure from their members, and they quickly declared themselves against the anti-Nazi boycott. The president of that organization, Cyrus Adler, said on 31 March, right on time to satisfy Hitler’s ultimatum, that “The American Jewish Committee, of which I am president, has taken no part in protest meetings. No responsible body in America has suggested boycott. We have been and are doing all in our power to allay agitation.” Soon the German embassy was communicating to Neurath in Berlin that American Jewry had complied.[143]

But even though he was being given precisely what he had demanded, to Neurath’s astonishment Hitler refused to cancel the anti-Jewish boycott.

At the eleventh hour came the declaration that the United States government planned to publish the next morning, which declaration 1) asserted that the accusations against Germany had been “exaggerated,” 2) condemned the incipient boycott, and 3) affirmed that “by showing a spirit of moderation ourselves [refraining from an anti-Nazi boycott] we are likely to induce a spirit of moderation elsewhere [we can convince the Nazis to cancel their anti-Jewish boycott].” So now Roosevelt had also complied with Hitler’s ultimatum. The US government didn’t want to be embarrassed, so it explained that the publication of this statement was conditional on Germany’s own promise to cancel the anti-Jewish boycott. Hindenburg was recruited to pressure Hitler and this time a change was forthcoming. However, to protect his prestige with the Nazi troops salivating already with the prospect of hurling themselves on the Jews, Hitler did not cancel his boycott but instead proposed a brief moratorium: if by 5 April he could see that the agitation against the Third Reich had significantly diminished, then he would dissolve the boycott. “However, the drive to expel Jews from their professions and destroy their place in German society would begin at once.”[144]

In the end there wasn’t even a moratorium. What the Nazis did a few hours later was announce that the boycott would limit itself to 1 April, and they promised it would take place without violence. (From the point of view of American popular culture, April 1st was an appropriate date for such Nazi promises, for on this date Americans by tradition pull the most spectacular hoaxes on each other and then have a good laugh, so you are never supposed to believe anything that people say on April 1st.) Since the boycott had not been cancelled, the American and British governments were unable to publish their statements, but in any case, the US government, abasing itself before the Nazis, apologized in case the problem had been their own delay!

On the official boycott day, April 1st, there was plenty of violence.[145]


Rushing to save Hitler

At the same time that all of the above was happening, the Labor Zionists launched another strategy. They understood that without the Nazi pressure the German Jews would never go to the Middle East because they were not Zionists. They saw an opportunity, therefore, in the Nazi persecution.

The plan

For the Labor Zionists, Edwin Black explains, “in a macabre sense, things were ideal [because] the German Jews were not impoverished Russian peasants [who tended to be Orthodox] or lower-class Polish merchants with few valuables [and who also tended to be Orthodox]”[121] The German Jews had abandoned Judaism and had much wealth that could be used to develop Palestine. There was also a confluence of interest with the Nazis, because they were looking to rid themselves of the German Jews and to them Palestine was “a remote, self-run concentration camp,”[122]

Such harmony!

For the Labor Zionists the thing to do was obviously to save Hitler by sabotaging the anti-Nazi boycott and thus gain a position from which to negotiate with the Nazis the exit of the German Jews to Palestine And so those who considered the Nazi persecution “in a macabre sense...ideal” set to work and “immediately contacted Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann.” The next day, 30 April, Weizmann was already “talking with wealthy British Jews, including Anthony Rothschild, Lord Reading, Lord Sieff of the Marks and Spencer department stores, and Pinchas Rutenberg,” speeding off to Palestine right after that. Great things were in the air. “His secret plans included meetings with Arab, British, and Zionist leaders to discuss a solution on a vast scale.”[123]

“German Zionism as a movement...considered itself Weizmann disciples,”[124] and it was precisely a group of prominent German Zionist immigrants to Palestine, associated with Georg Landauer, the director of the Zionist Federation of Germany in Berlin, who set in motion the most ambitious plan to save Hitler.[125] The proposal to the Nazis would be to sabotage the boycott in exchange for letting the German Jews leave with the minimum the British required to enter the Mandate territory (£1000), using the rest to buy German goods needed in Palestine.[126] Nobody would ask the German Jews what they wanted to do with their lives: “Jews would be allowed to bring [some of their] assets out of Germany to rebuild their lives, but only if they liquidated their European existence and rebuilt those lives in Palestine.”[127] Weizmann’s Zionists could hardly pull anything like this off without the Nazis.

Sam Cohen, a wealthy Jewish financier who “maintained apartments and hotel rooms” in Berlin, Prague, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Warsaw, and London, but whose permanent address was “an opulent castle in Luxembourg,” and who had a company, Hanotaiah, with agricultural developments in Palestine, was selected to negotiate with the Nazis.[128] Because Cohen was not part of the Zionist government, it could be denied that the Zionist Organization was involved in his activities if these were discovered by the patriotic Jews leading the antinazi boycott movement. Cohen was was a friend of Nahum Goldmann, Stephen Wise’s right-hand man in the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, and he had financed an important project of his.[128a]

Cohen's plan was the following: let every German Jew who wishes to go to Palestine take the £1000 entry requirement; the rest of his money will go, in part, directly to the German Treasury, while the remainder will stay in a blocked account that will be used to buy German goods with which to develop Palestine (Sam Cohen was no fool: his company would have control over the monies of the German Jews). The Zionists would also commit to stimulate German commerce in the Middle East, thus generating foreign currency earnings for the Third Reich. Finally, the Zionists would launch an internal political effort in the Jewish community to destroy the boycott movement. The Nazis were receptive to Cohen’s proposals, which were presented at the end of March.[129] This plan demonstrates that Weizmann, the Marxist, was not really opposed to rich capitalists, nor was he opposed to importing bourgeois Jews to Palestine, so long as these were assimilated German Jews (among whom Weizmann had educated himself) whose money he would take so that they would have no choice but to join his Marxist experiment in Palestine.

Once the negotiations had begun, the German Zionists who had set in motion all this recruited Chaim Arlosoroff, “a member of the Jewish Agency Executive Committee [in Palestine] and one of Zionism’s most respected personalities,” and this man began to take matters into his own hands, with great secrecy.[130] Just like Chaim Weizmann, with whom he was close friends, Chaim Arlosoroff was an assimilated Russian Jew who had educated himself in Germany. “As head of the political department of the Jewish Agency, [he] functioned as the foreign minister” and “stood out as one of the troika leading the Jewish Agency.”[131] Naturally Arlosoroff was a leader of Mapai and an ally of David Ben-Gurion, another member of that troika. With great energy, Arlosoroff set in motion the effort to wrest from Sam Cohen his lucrative transfer monopoly for Mapai and the Zionist Executive's benefit.

Chaim Arlosoroff's negotiations would produce a tremendous confrontation between the two main Zionist movements.

Jabotinsky vs. Weizmann/Ben-Gurion

Edwin Black explains that

Mapai, or Labor Zionism, saw Palestine as the home of a Jewish elite that would toil in the noble vocations of manual work and farming. Its orientation was communal, socialist. ...Mapai’s Israel would not be for every Jew... [but] for the approved cadre of pioneers.”[132]

In other words, a group of Marxist pioneers, assimilated to Christian culture, and enemies of the Jewish religion, who would acquire, with glacial incrementalism, territory in Palestine. This had nothing whatever to do with saving ordinary flesh-and-blood Jews in Eastern Europe whose lives were in danger; on the contrary, this was a utopian project to construct an 'ideal' society, and in marxist utopias the abstraction is always more important than the flesh-and-blood people who are repeatedly and easily sacrificed for the 'good' of the utopian vision. The main promoter of this vision was the Mapai Party, and “the entire leadership of the Zionist Organization...was becoming increasingly Mapai-dominated.”[133]

By contrast, the leaders of the minority Revisionist Party were energetically militating for a defense of the Jewish people -- all Jews, without distinction: “Revisionist Zionism rejected Jewish exclusivity. They wanted a nation of ordinary Jews in a mixed urban-rural society. The system would be free enterprise, not socialism.” Revisionists did not want a slow process of immigration for a handful of elite Marxists, but rather, in the tradition of Theodore Herzl and Max Nordau, they maintained that “only by rapidly transferring the largest number of Jews in the shortest amount of time would the Jews constitute a sudden majority in Palestine that could declare the State.” They wanted to save the entire European Jewish population, not just the German Jews, and therefore wished to confront Hitler with a worldwide boycott and destroy Nazism, dealing the world antisemitic movement, which was now being directed from Germany, a mortal blow.[134]

“Their ranks were composed largely of East European Jews, especially Polish [and Lithuanian] Jews. What Revisionists did around the world was often a direct reflection of Jewish activism in Poland. Naturally, Revisionists in Palestine agitated for an emotional, often violent, boycott of anything German.”[137]

Given that Arlosoroff directed Mapai's effort to sabotage the boycott against the Nazis so that he could bring just a handful of German Jews to Weizmann's marxist experiment in Palestine, “Arlosoroff,” naturally, “was a special foe of Revisionism.” In fact, “it was Arlosoroff who in late 1931 conceived the decree against membership in Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Union.”[135]

The Revisionists would try hard to foil Arlosoroff's plans.

“Since mainstream Zionist officials refused to confront Hitler and insisted on continuing mutual trade, it was only logical that the Revisionists would assume the vanguard of protest.” In late March, in reaction to the policy that the mainstream Zionist leaders were adopting toward the Hitler threat, Jabotinsky began plotting a takeover of the Zionist Organization at the 18th Zionist Congress that was scheduled to take place in Prague in August-September 1933. But there was so much division among Revisionist leaders as to what the best course of action would be that “Jabotinsky, [who] knew that the rank and file was with him... dissolved the entire Revisionist leadership structure, declaring he would lead by personal fiat.” The center of the strategy would be, of course, the boycott.[138]
























Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\schacht.jpg

Hjalmar Schacht

















Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\samuel.jpg

Herbert Samuel




























































































Destroying the Boycott

Perhaps the most incredible thing here, once you examine the behavior of established Jewish leaders in various parts of the world, is the context that surrounded their actions: the boycott was working and the Nazis had almost been destroyed already. Had the established Jewish leaders simply endorsed the boycott they would have undoubtedly destroyed Nazism, and then perhaps also the worldwide antisemitic movement, covering themselves in glory by inheriting to us a very different world. But this is not what they did.

What is narrated below is in some ways like a suspense and horror film where the victim, the Jewish population in Europe, is at several turns almost (and easily) rescued, but each time the bad guys who wish to kill her win, by an inch, and at the last moment.

April: The boycott grows

It was the War of the Boycotts. In retaliation for the anti-German boycott the Nazis were boycotting the German Jews, and this, plus the expulsion of the Jews from the professions, produced a flood of Jewish refugees in the countries that bordered Germany. “Within two weeks of April First, more than 10,000 German Jews had escaped and were now in need of food, clothing, organization, jobs -- a basis for existence.”[146] This all fanned the cinders of the international protest, igniting the movement’s fire in the first two weeks of April.

The first week there were massive protests and/or agitation in favor of boycotting the Nazis in Paris, Istanbul, Toronto, Salonika, Panama, Bombay, and New York. In Poland the anti-German boycott even included street violence.[147] On 7 April Nazi Finance Minister Hjalmar Schacht was already informing his führer that, due to the boycott, Germany’s reserves of foreign currency would soon run out.[148] On the 10 there was a controversy in the House of Commons because the British government was trying to suppress the boycott, which, supported by the Labor Party, continued to grow. On the 13 the Rumanian Jews joined the semi-official boycott that already existed in that country. On the 17th the boycott of the Jewish businessmen against the German fur trade extended to Belgium. By the 19th the Yugoslav boycott against the Nazis was doing so much damage that Nazi agents in Yugoslavia tried to launch a boycott against the Jews in that country -- without success.[149]

By mid-April Great Britain had already displaced Germany as the main exporter of goods to Denmark and Norway; Reich sales to Finland had fallen considerably; many stores in the United States couldn’t move their German merchandise and were looking for alternative suppliers in Japan, Czechoslovakia, and England. Total Reich exports had fallen 10% and it was obvious that May would be disastrous. Food prices in Berlin were skyrocketing.[150]

In Palestine, the boycott against Germany that the Revisionist Party was pushing was also quite effective in the month of April.

Doar HaYom, the Revisionist newspaper in Palestine, and Betar, the paramilitary Revisionist youth corps, were relentless. Tactics included public humiliation of businessmen trafficking in German goods, mass recruitment of boycott pledges from merchants, picket lines, disruptive demonstrations, and incessant editorials condemning those who traded with Hitler. Many thousands of dollars’ worth of German orders were canceled in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the first days of April alone. ...By mid-April [German] Consul Heinrich Wolff [in Palestine] was dismally reporting that the boycott was seriously damaging all German economic interests in the area.”[151]

The severe pressure on Germany was not just economic. On 7 April Neurath was explaining to Hitler the gravity of the political and military situation: “various neighbors were actively contemplating a preventive war with Germany while she was still weak... Foremost among the potential invaders was Poland... Other neighbors to the East -- Rumania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia -- would have to be kept on friendly terms, principally through trade, to preclude any anti-German alliance with Poland.” Neurath was also worried about France. The military capacity of the Germans was nil at the moment: they were five years away from being able to confront Poland, even.[152] But Hitler would not reason: on the same April 7 “Hitler promulgated the first formal antisemitic decree, summarily dismissing virtually all Jewish government employees.”[153]

A little later, on April 22, the German embassy in Italy was reporting to Berlin that the Czechoslovaks were planning to join the Poles in a preventive, invasive war against Germany. On April 23 the German ambassador in Poland was informing that the probability of a Polish attack was relatively high. On 25 April the German embassy in Czechoslovakia confirmed that this country would join a Polish attack against Germany.[154] The next day the British embassy in Berlin was explaining that the pressure on Germany might soon break the lock that the Nazis had on German politics. And because the problems caused by Nazi policy were raising the prestige of Hitler’s domestic enemies, everybody was getting the picture that “protest and boycott were the only effective restraints on Nazi policy.”[155]

Hitler’s lunacy was about to destroy his movement. The mechanical nature of the escalating process was not difficult to apprehend: the oppression of the Jews, in the context of the liberal currents that had been enjoying success in the West since the French Revolution, were producing an international mass reaction against Germany. To this Hitler replied in the only language he knew, with more repression against the Jews. In turn, this fed the international mass reaction against Germany. And so forth. The final resting point of this process would be the destruction of Nazism. Only the established Jewish leaders could save it, for only they could puncture the prestige of the anti-Nazi response.

They were doing everything they could.

April: The American Jewish leaders

Cyrus Adler, president of the American Jewish Committee, was getting letters from his friends in Germany 1) begging Adler not to believe those reports -- should they come from Gentiles or Jews -- that alleged the supposed exaggeration of the situation in Germany; 2) explaining to Adler that the German Jews were in fact being persecuted, tortured, murdered; and 3) demanding that Adler and every Jewish leader out of danger should join the boycott against Germany because this was the only way to pressure the Nazis. “But Adler would not change his position.”[156]

There is more: “Unshakeable evidence about Nazi horrors arrived on April 6, when Adler and B’nai B’rith president Alfred Cohen received a cable completely invalidating the denials of German atrocities that German Jewish leaders had issued and which the [American Jewish] Committee had earlier published.” But instead of sharing this information with the public and retracting the Committee’s previous statements to the public, Adler and Cohen sent the information to Secretary of State Cordell Hull and promised it would not be published. Hull seemed grateful.[156a]


“Adler and the Committee continued to deprecate publicly Jewish efforts to boycott Germany or even organize protest. Committee people would always point to the instructions of German Jewish leaders to stop all protests and boycotts and not believe the exaggerated stories of Nazi brutality. Yet Adler and his colleagues knew those German Jewish admonitions to be false, spoken under the truncheon, and, in fact, no more than tools of Nazi propaganda.”[157]

Edwin Black also documents that the leaders of the Zionist Executive understood -- like the rest of the world -- that boycott and protest were the only tools to stop Hitler.[158] For this reason, precisely, they would destroy the boycott, because they meant to save Hitler. The Nazis had taken notice.

April: A curious harmony between Labor Zionists and Nazis

Incredible but true: the German Zionist newspaper Juedische Rundschau issued a call on 7 April, instigated by the Zionist Kurt Tuchle, for Zionists and Nazis to be “honest partners.” Tuchler had “many acquaintances in the NSDAP [the Nazi Party].” One of them was Baron Leopold von Mildenstein, who was invited by Tuchler to visit Palestine and write an article in favor of Jewish emigration to Palestine in Der Angriff, Goebbel’s newspaper, with the title ‘A Nazi Goes to Palestine.’ “Goebbels’ newspaper was so proud of the series that a commemorative coin was struck in honor of the voyage. On one side was a swastika. On the other a side a Star of David.” Mildenstein became an expert in Zionism and he was said to have read The Jewish State by Theodore Herzl, ordering his subordinates to do the same. “One of these...was...Adolf Eichmann.”[159] Mildenstein's Jewish Affairs Department “would eventuyally design the policies for the elimination of Jewish influence from German life. This office was the forerunner of the murderous anti-Jewish unit in the Gestapo that Eichmann would later run.”[159a]

“...[starting in] April 1933...Zionists enjoyed a visibly protected political status in Germany. ...[Since] the Reichstag fire of February 27...most non-Nazi political organizations and suspect newspapers were dissolved. ...The exceptions included Juedische Rundschau...and several other Jewish publications...[and] Juedische Rundschau was allowed comparative press freedoms [compared even with the ‘Aryan’ publications]. ...[Later, in] 1935 uniforms for Zionist youth corps were permitted -- the only non-Nazi uniform allowed in Germany. When [with] the Nuremberg Laws in late became illegal for Jews to raise the German flag..., the same law stipulated that German Jewry could raise the Star of David-emblazoned Zionist flag.”[160]

Repeatedly, Edwin Black refers to this as the Nazi 'toleration' of the German Zionists allied with Weizmann, but that may not be the best word -- especially not concerning Otto von Bolschwing's activities.

Bolschwing had joined the Nazi Party in 1932, after which he was made a member of the SD, the intelligence service of the SS. “In the years leading up to 1939, Bolschwing became a leading Nazi intelligence agent in the Middle East,” writes historian Christopher Simpson, an expert in Nazi intelligence. “One of [Bolschwing's] first brushes with Nazi espionage work, according to captured SS records, was a role in creating a covert agremeement between the Nazis and Fieval Polkes, a commander of the militant Zionist organization Haganah.” (As mentioned earlier, the Haganah had been created originally by Jabotinsky to defend the Jews in Palestine after the 1920 terrorist attacks, but it was now controlle by the Labor Zionists, who had shown in the 1929 attacks their unwillingness to use this militia.) Simpson explains that, “under the agreement” between the Nazis and Polkes,

“the Haganah was permitted to run recruiting and training camps for Jewish youth inside Germany. These young people, as well as certain other Jews driven out of Germany by the Nazis, were encouraged to emigrate to Palestine. Polkes and the Haganah, in turn, agreed to provide the SS with intelligence about British affairs in Palestine. Captured German records claim that Polkes believed the increasingly brutal Nazi persecution of the Jews could be turned to Zionist advantage -- at least temporarily -- by compelling Jewish immigration to Palestine, and that the Haganah commander's sole source of income, moreover, was secret funds from the SS.”[160a]

It was Otto von Bolshwing who educated Adolf Eichmann on the Zionist movement and Palestine, and it was with Bolschwing that Eichmann designed the first programs of anti-Jewish persecution that would later be applied with tremendous success all over Europe, producing the Final Solution.[160b]

April: The binational plan of the Labor Zionists

Now, it has been said -- and Edwin Black on occasion says it -- that the Labor Zionists were trying to sabotage the anti-Nazi boycott so that they could bring the German Jews, with their capital, to Palestine, because this was the way to create a Jewish state. Their intentions, in other words, were supposedly lofty. But this defense of the Labor Zionist leaders does not work, because information in fact abounds to show that, in fact, they did not seek a Jewish State.

We have seen already that Chaim Weizmann, in his own words, wanted “something like Monaco, with a university instead of a gambling-hall,” and set up as a British protectorate.[160c] And in a 1931 interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency “Weizmann... stated that he had no sympathy or understanding for the idea of a Jewish majority in Palestine and that the Arabs would interpret such majoritarian demands as aggression directed toward them.”[160d] We know also that the leaders of Brit Shalom, Jewish intellectuals “from the German-speaking cultural area,” led by Arthur Ruppin, and much closer to the Labor movement leaders than to revisionism, wanted something similar. In their own words, Brit Shalom members were looking to “settle the Jews as a second people, in a country already inhabited by another people.” Historian of Zionism Anita Shapira comments: “On the whole, there was little sympathy among adherents of Brit Shalom for the Herzlian idea of a state,” and they argued in public that the 'nationalism' (really, the jihadist racism) of the Muslims should be appeased, giving them much of what they wanted, under British protection.[160e] All of this is in fact confirmed by Edwin Black himself when he explains that “Some of Zionism’s most influential leaders advocated binationalism in some form or another. Among them were Arthur Ruppin, David Ben-Gurion, Judah Magnes, and Chaim Weizmann.”[160f]

On 8 April, the day after German Zionist Kurt Tuchler called on Zionists and Nazis to be “honest partners,” Chaim Arlosoroff was looking to partner honestly with other major antisemites as well, and he organized a meeting for Weizmann and the leaders of the Jewish Agency with the Arab sheiks of Palestine. What were the Arlosoroff and Weizmann selling? Not a Jewish state but a binational plan. “Weizmann and Arlosoroff talked with the sheiks about glorious things to come, glorious for Arabs and Jews alike.” They promised much economic development, which they were planning to stimulate with the money of the German Jews whom, with the help of the Nazis, they would bring.[161] Given that the Arab sheiks tended to be violent antisemites -- because Hajj Amin al Husseini intimidated and murdered Arab leaders who desired peaceful coexistence with the Jews -- a binational plan in fact would guarantee an existential danger to the Jewish community, precisely the problem that Herzl had tried to solve.

The British were sponsoring the anti-Jewish Arab terrorism, and sabotaging Jewish self-defense, because they wanted to destroy all posibility of a Jewish state. It should not surprise us, therefore, that they were quite happy with the German-emigration-plus-binational proposal.[162] A binational state populated by assimilated, middle-class German Jews who despised Judaism and were not interested in defending it, surrounded by Arabs indoctrinated by antisemitic terrorist tools of the British such as Hajj Amin al Husseini and other Arab sheiks, promised to abolish the vision of Herzl and Jabotinsky. In fact “Arlosoroff, sworn to secrecy by High Commissioner [for Palestine] Arthur Wauchope, had been since mid-March 1933 negotiating with the [British] Mandate government toward some sort of binational solution.”[163] Jabotinsky Revisionists were naturally opposed to the binational plan of the Labor Zionists and the British. What they wanted was a Jewish state, with Jewish demographic superiority, and governed by Jews so that nobody could murder them with impunity, or chase them from their homes, or rape their women, or force them to abandon their religion.

It is true that Arlosoroff had some problems with his colleagues in the Labor Zionist leadership, but not because there was a principled objection to his strategy as such; they were upset that he was doing everything himself, consulting only Weizmann, and negotiating (at first) without the explicit authority of the Jewish Agency or the Zionist Executive; and they worried too for the damage to the authority of the president of the Zionist Organization, for at this time it was Nahum Sokolow, not Chaim Weizmann, who held this chair.[165] But despite the disagreements the plan to save Hitler in order to abolish Jewish existence in Germany and reproduce it in Palestine went forward and gained official sanction from both the Jewish Agency and the Zionist Executive; what hit a snag was the idea of a binational state, because Hajj Amin al Husseini would not agree: what he wanted to do was exterminate the Jews -- and fast.[166]

Meanwhile, in the United States, Stephen Wise was putting the brakes on the anti-Nazi boycott.

April-May: Stephen Wise against the boycott

When the Nazis announced, on 12 April, a push for ideological purity that would culminate in a great book burning on 10 May, the American Jewish Congress convened an emergency meeting of 1000 delegates representing 600 Jewish organizations from the New York area. “As usual, the delegates shouted for the Congress to finally proclaim the boycott. Jewish groups could then begin organizing. But once again Stephen Wise refused the call.” And yet he had to do something in order to keep his leadership position, so Wise agreed to another big protest march to coincide with the book burning in Germany.[166a]


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


The American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith immediately opposed themselves and launched a media campaign to dissuade millions of Jews from joining the march against Hitler. But there was great enthusiasm for the march and in fact it became a spectacle of protest even more awesome than the 27 March demonstration at Madison Square Garden, with a great deal of participation by non-Jews. Shortly before it took place, “Samuel Untermyer, one of America’s most prestigious and foreceful Jewish leaders, was filling Stephen Wise’s leadership vacuum...urg[ing] all Americans to ban all German products and services.”[167] In those days Hjalmar Schacht, German Finance Minister, was in the United States, and the demonstrators wanted him to get a strong impression. The US government, however, was keen that Schacht should get the opposite impression, so Roosevelt told Shacht that “Hitler was the right man for Germany and that no one else could inspire such confidence.”[168]

May: The boycott grows (even more)

In Palestine the Revisionists were doing everything they could to keep alive the boycott against Hitler, and this “became part of Revisionism’s campaign for popular support” to take over the Zionist Organization.

“On 28 April...Jabotinsky delivered a forceful condemnation of Nazi relations with Palestine. It was the first speech by a foreign Jew ever broadcast by Poland’s state-controlled radio. Speaking alternately in French and Polish, Jabotinsky called for a rigid worldwide boycott of German goods, to be led by Palestine. By May 10, boycott agitation in Palestine was so severe that the Executive Committee of the Vaad Leumi (Zionist national council in Palestine) threw into open debate its official ban on anti-Nazi boycott activities.”[169]

In the rest of the world the movement was also growing. In the month of May there were anti-Nazi protests in Melbourne, Philadelphia, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Marseille, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow, and London. The boycott grew wherever there were Jews to push it forward: Cairo, Gibraltar, Paris, Lyons, Nice, and Marseille. The Argentinean Jews stopped buying all German products and services and transferred their money from German to Argentinean banks. The British Jews stopped using German shipping; an old man, Captain Joseph Webber, created a system of boycott certificates for British stores. By the end of May, the big British trade unions declared it obligatory for their membership to participate in the anti-Nazi boycott, transferring the benefits to British producers. In Holland the trade unions and the Social Democratic Party did the same, even if this would hurt Dutch agricultural exports to Germany. In Amsterdam two pro-boycott groups created anti-Nazi seals in several languages that were used internationally, something the Jewish War Veterans in the United States were also doing. Jewish jewelers in Holland, instead of sending their stones to Germany, employed 4000 Dutch workers and destroyed the German jewelry business. “By early June 1933, the specter of collapse was hovering over the Third Reich.”[170]

June: Chaim Arlosoroff is murdered

On 16 June Jaim Arlosoroff was murdered by pistol shot. Who killed him?

Edwin Black points out that in the first century, “the Sicarii carried short Roman daggers and assassinated Jewish leaders found guilty of consorting with the Roman enemy.”[174] These Sicarii have been called “terrorists” but this word has a connotation of attacks against innocent people, whereas the Sicarii were Jewish patriots who carried out carefully targeted assassinations against members of the ancient Jewish upper classes who had corrupted themselves to cooperate with the frankly Nazi-like Roman oppression of the Jews.[175] Comparing the modern Revisionists to these ancient Jewish patriots, Edwin Black points out that the Revisionists had motive to kill Arlosoroff, because “Arlosoroff was consorting with all of Revisionism’s greatest enemies: the British, who occupied the land; the Arabs, who refused to make room for Jewish destiny; and the Germans, who were dedicated to annihilating the Jews.” (The simple truth is that the British and the Arabs were also trying to annihilate the Jews.) For a Jewish patriot the argument was not difficult that Arlosoroff -- who was trying hard to save Hitler -- was the enemy and deserved a bullet. But did the Revisionists in fact kill him? Some Revisionists, no doubt, wanted to, and were ready to do it; however, it was rumored that Jabotinsky had sent “a one-word instruction: ‘NO’”[176]

Of course, immediately after the murder, the authorities arrested two Revisionists, Abraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt, so that Sima, Arlosoroff’s widow, who was walking with him on the beach when he was murdered, would identify them. Sima said that, yes, these two men had been the murderers. Then the police raided the home of Abba Achimeir, another Revisionist who had written much vitriol against Arlosoroff, and they arrested him because his diary spoke of celebrating a “great victory.”[177] The ‘evidence’ against Achimeir is no evidence at all. And what is the probability that Arlosoroff’s widow could have recognized the murderers?

It is often difficult for witnesses to traumatic events to remember what happened with any precision, and even to identify people who werer at the scene -- the problem is so acute that students of the American legal system have established that “acceptance of mistaken identifications is the largest single cause of wrongful convictions.”[177a] This is the case even when everything happens in broad daylight; so much the worse, then, that Arlosoroff was killed on a moonless night on the beach of a primitive 1933 Palestine: pitch black. Moreover, according to Sima’s own testimony, before shooting, the murderers had shone a flashlight on her husband's face, who was standing right beside her, so she was dazzled.[178] What can she have really seen? As one might expect, she was quite unsure about the identification, but “Sima Arlosoroff was under tremendous pressure from Mapai leaders to maintain her damaging testimony despite doubts.”[179]

It is quite possible that the murderers were not even Jews. Granted, right after the shooting Sima shouted: “Help, help! Jews shot him!”, no doubt because moments earlier, when she and her husband had noticed the two figures in the dark, Arlosoroff had told her not to worry because the men were Jews. But the murderers, immediately before shooting, had in fact addressed them with an incorrect Hebrew expression, and Arlosoroff, agonizing after the shot, had corrected his wife’s screams: “No, Sima, no.”[180] All this according to Sima’s own testimony. By the time the trial had begun, an Arab who had been arrested for another crime confessed that he had murdered Arlosoroff. Then he said no, then he confessed again, and finally he recanted his earlier testimony saying that the Revisionists had paid him to confess.[180a] In other words, a man innocent of this crime accepted money in order to risk... the death penalty? I suppose that is one hypothesis. Another hypothesis is that this Arab, whom the British -- allies of Mapai and enemies of the Revisionists -- already had in custody, was pressured by the authorities to change his testimony, just as Mapai had pressured Sima Arlosoroff to persist with her doubtful identification.

Finally, there is the question: Why didn’t the murderers also kill Sima Arlosoroff? They were not against murder, this is obvious, and killing her too on the beach, on a perfectly dark night, would have made it almost impossible for them to be caught. But if Arlosoroff’s murderers wanted Sima alive so that, under pressure from Mapai, she would finger Stavsky and Rosenblatt as the supposed killers, then it makes sense that they didn’t shoot her. “Within a year Rosenblatt, the supposed assassin, and Achimeir, the supposed ringleader, were both exonerated due to conflicting evidence,” even though the British and Labor Zionist authorities clearly wished to inculpate them.[181]

It is not exactly easy to defend the argument that the Revisionists murdered Arlosoroff.

One of the first questions that must be asked in a murder investigation is cui bono?: Who benefited from Arlosoroff's assassination? This question, at least, has an obvious answer: Mapai.

Mapai exploited the tragedy to its maximum. A broad anti-Revisionist movement sprang up uniting a range of Zionist ideologies behind Mapai. These groups collectively advocated the banishment of all Revisionists from Zionism. ...Jabotinsky was often held personally responsible. Pamphlets called him a ‘bloodthirsty beast.’ David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister, admitted he was ‘less interested in whether Stavsky [one of the accused, who was declared guilty and sentenced to death, but then released because of irregularities] is the murderer than in Jabotinsky.’”[183]

In other words, the objective was not really to find the guilty parties but to affix the label ‘Nazi terrorist’ on Jabotinsky: “Ben-Gurion declared that Jabotinsky bore total responsibility because he was Revisionism’s ‘commander, leader, and mentor’; ...Mapai forces hammered away at Revisionism, labeling it a Fascist misfit of Zionism, and harassing Jews who supported Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky himself was portrayed as the Jewish Hitler, commanding forces analogous -- somehow even linked -- to Nazi Storm Troopers.” But, as Black points out, “in truth, it was not the stalwarts of Jewish militancy, the Revisionists, who had constructed avenues of commercial and political détente with the Third Reich. It was the forces of Mapai.” And the hypocrisy didn’t end here, because, “emulating the very violence they were decrying, Mapai forces called for ‘avenging our Arlosoroff’ with a bloody reprisal against Jabotinsky.”[183a]

I point out that these sorts of attacks were not exactly new. Because Jabotinsky insisted in the military preparedness of Jews, his Labor Zionist opponents had long been accusing him of supposed ‘fascism,’ gaining in this way a propaganda advantage with the Jews, for whom the use of force is always extremely difficult, due to the ethical orientation of Jewish civilization, and due also to the long experience keeping their heads bowed in antisemitic lands. The silliest of these accusations was undoubtedly the complaint that Jabotinsky's Betar youth wore brown shirts, and that Hitler's stormtroopers also wore brown shirts, a coincidence that was supposed to be meaningful. But if it was meaningful, then somebody should have been accusing Hitler of being pro-Jewish, because “the Revisionist movement, way before the Nazis, had brown shirts,” as Jabotinsky follower Peter Bergson once explain with evident exasperation. In any case, says Bergson, “the Revisionists finally changed it to blue shirts, because they got tired of the argument and it became repugnant to them, no matter if they did it first.”[184]

Because these propaganda attacks about supposed Revisionist ‘fascism’ came from the Weizmann/Ben-Gurion Marxist camp, they added complaints against the supposedly objectionable ‘capitalism’ of the Revisionists, who were represented as being against the workers:

“Labor Zionist Marie Syrkin denounced Revisionism as comparable to ‘German or Italian fascism,’ and Stephen Wise's son James, editor of the monthly Journal Opinion, criticized what he considered the ‘fascist tendencies’ of the Revisionist movement. In a stinging public attack on Revisonism in 1935, Stephen Wise denounced its ‘militarism’ and advocacy of ‘social exploitation’ as evidence that it had become ‘Fascism in Yiddish or Hebrew.’”[184a]

These sorts of slanders agianst Jabotinsky and his movement, to this day, have not ceased because Labor Zionism managed to seize control of all important institutions in Iraeli and world Judaism. But they are without justification. One cannot object that Jabotinsky wanted to arm the Jews against antisemitic attacks, for nobody has the right to kill innocent people because they practice a certain religion, and whoever comes to kill them has earned himself a bullet. Although it may be difficult to recognize this in an antisemitic civilization, this universal argument which justifies violence in self defense applies also to the Jews. Jabotinsky was a patriot.

True, Jabotinsky had trained some of his paramilitary troops in Mussolini's Italy, but in those days Mussolini “repeatedly ridiculed Hitler's antisemitic and racist orientation.” Mussolini had not yet been pressured by the Nazis to adopt a racist policy, and there were many Jews in the Italian dictator's movement and government. In fact shortly before Hitler's anti-Jewish boycott of 1 April, 1933, “Mussolini ordered Vittorio Cerruti, the Italian ambassador in Berlin, to register a strong complaint with the Foreign Ministry,” something that no Western government did -- on the contrary, as we saw, they were looking for ways to satisfy Hitler's demands.[184c] In the first half of the 30s it was not even clear that Mussolini would ally with the Nazis and Italy was still formally allied with the Western powers. Jabotinsky favored Mussolini's training for his troops because Mussolini was a militarist and the Jews desperately needed military capability to defend themselves from antisemitic attacks: he was looking for good military training for defenseless Jews. Even those who would like to argue that Jabotinsky was a ‘fascist’ are forced to concede that when Mussolini allied with the Nazis and began supporting the racist policies of the Third Reich, Jabotinsky immediately broke with him.[184d] And getting training for his troops in Italy didn't mean that Jabotinsky's preferred system was fascist: “Jabotinsky in fact denounced totalitarianism and championed liberal democracy.”[184e] Moreover, he was profoundly anti-racist, and was disgusted by the oppression of blacks in the United States, which he witnessed first hand.[184b]

When soon after Arlosoroff's murder Zionists everywhere voted to decide the proportional representation of the parties at the Eighteenth Zionist Congress that would be held in August-September in Prague, Mapai disqualified many of Jabotinsky’s candidates on technicalities. This, plus the propaganda about Arlosoroff, and perhaps an electoral fraud, as there were many accusations of fraud, gave Mapai 44% of the vote and reduced the Revisionists to 14%. “Whereas Revisionism with alliances had previously held a tenuous half-control over the movement, the Revisionists were now reduced to the third most powerful. Moreover, with Mapai able to wield an alliance of the second-ranked General Zionists [led by Stephen Wise and Chaim Weizmann ] and the Radical Zionists [led by Wise’s right hand Nahum Goldmann], Revisionism became an isolated minority within the movement.”[184f]

What could the Revisionists do?

“The only way Jabotinsky could now save his movement, and force Zionism to join the anti-Nazi campaign, was through a floor flight at the Eighteenth Zionist Congress itself. Jabotinsky was convinced that with the world watching, he could rouse the hearts and consciences of the delegates, regardless of party.

Mapai was equally determined that its 44 percent control be used to expel the entire Revisionist community... and then to transform the whole Zionist Organization into a mere extension of Mapai itself. To achieve this, Mapai would have to block any public debate of the Hitler threat that could sway the other delegates into a sudden emotional coalition with the Revisionists.”[185]

So we see that Arlosoroff's murder was very good for Mapai, because with the propaganda they launched accusing the Revisionists of 'terrorism' they destroyed much of their prestige, and by extension the prestige of the anti-German boycott they were pushing. This justifies at least a suspicion that perhaps it was Mapai who murdered Arlosoroff.

Something else does too.

It was well known that “Revisionist forces led by Jabotinsky were challenging the entire leadership of the Zionist Organization...[and that] Jabotinsky planned a dramatic appeal for floor votes at the upcoming Eighteenth Zionist Congress to oust the existing leadership and install himself and his circle.” The Labor Zionists needed something dramatic to resist because the anti-Nazi boycott was very popular and the Revisionists were leading it. The Labor Zionists were “expert at political warfare,” and Arlosoroff’s death was to attack the revisionists.[182]

There is more.

Sam Cohen, owner of the agricultural Hanotaiah company, was who had initiated the negotiation with the Nazis. He supported himself especially with the German Consul in Palestine Heinrich Wolff, whom he had probably bribed, for Wolff “even had secret business dealings with Sam Cohen, including some land he had acquired through Hanotaiah.”[171] To retain control of the negotiations and reap the enormous profits his monopoly over the monies wrested from the German Jews would give him, Cohen had to show the Nazis that he had what it took to suppress the boycott. On 15 June he told Heinrich Wolff that Doar HaYom, the Revisionist paper in Palestine -- the one agitating with great vehemence in favor of the boycott -- would suddenly go silent on the issue. And so it did. Cohen had somehow acquired a financial interest in Doar HaYom that allowed him to replace the editor with his own agent.[172]

The people behind Arlosoroff -- Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, and others -- wanted to wrest control of the negotiations from Sam Cohen for the benefit of the Zionist Organization.[173] The pressure on them from the Nazis was the same: they had to show that they could neutralize the boycott-leading Revisionist movement better than Cohen. Sam Cohen's impressive play with Doar HaYom had taken place on 15 June. Arlosoroff was murdered on 16 June.

July: Lord Melchett's 'coup'

Although the propaganda surrounding Arlosoroff's murder and other dirty tricks had succeeded in marginalizing the Revisionists in the Zionist Organization, destroying the boycott was not so easy, because it had a certain élan. In fact, it was growing. But if the Nazis were going to be destroyed by the winter 1933, as some boycott enthusiasts were prognosticating, this required a worldwide organization to coordinate efforts and produce a market where sellers and non-German suppliers could easily find each other. Otherwise, past the moment of initial enthusiasm, the boycott would fall apart. In Britain Lord Melchett and the British Trade Unions Congress took the initiative in the same month of June, sending official invitations to the independent boycott committees all over the world to organize themselves in the proposed World Jewish Economic Conference.[186]

We have here, then, what would be everybody’s strategic center, for though it was difficult for Weizmann, Mapai, and allies to stop the spontaneous pro-boycott efforts, sabotaging Melchett’s conference required only recruiting or neutralizing the summit of the main Jewish organizations, the only ones with the resources, offices, and personnel with which to construct in a hurry the needed infrastructure for a centrally organized international boycott.

The Labor Zionists had an ideological and institutional advantage here, because “in England, as in America, the biggest obstacle to a united protest and boycott movement was the coterie of leaders standing at the helm of the Jewish community.”[187] The British organization analogous to the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith was the Anglo-Jewish Association, a small group of assimilated ‘gentlemen’ who had declared themselves leaders of the Jews. The organization analogous to the American Jewish Congress, with elected representatives and chock-full of members who wanted to fight Hitler, was the Board of Deputies of British Jews. But there, too, an analog of Stephen Wise stood at the helm: the leaders of the Board of Deputies did not want a boycott, and instead tried hard to ingratiate themselves with the British upper classes that were so sympathetic to the persecution of the Jews.[188]

In July the German situation had deteriorated so much that the Nazi leadership was repressing rebellious movements within the party, and there was much talk of the danger of a “second revolution.”[189] In truth, the country was close to collapse. But when Lord Melchett tried to program his conference for July, the Anglo-Jewish leaders, instead of giving Hitler one last push and winning the battle, denounced the effort. Melchett “correctly understood that Jews alone could not execute a successful boycott. They were dependent upon winning Christian cooperation. That would be impossible as long as official Jewish organizations denounced the boycott and the boycott conference as illegitimate.” So he postponed his conference and presented himself on 12 July to the meeting of the Joint Foreign Committee (JFC), the body that decided the joint foreign policy of the two big organizations of the British Jews. Melchett told them: if you won’t confront Hitler, then step aside, shut up, and let others do it. The masses were with Melchett, and the leaders knew it. “After a bitter debate, a majority ratified...[that] an ad hoc committee [led by Melchett...would] now supersede the established Anglo-Jewish authorities on all questions regarding Nazi Germany.”[190]

Melchett had staged a ‘coup d’état.’

Or almost. Two days later the JFC repented from having given Melchett so much power and said it would be better to include him in the JFC, promising to pay more attention to the pulse of the Jewish masses. Melchett considered these leaders indispensable and therefore “went along...for the sake of unity.”[191] (Though Melchett was descended from assimilated German Jews, he was an Anglican, and had to convert to Judaism to join the JFC.) By 19 June the established leaders had Melchett, a Zionist, where they wanted him, for they had created a structure populated with important Zionist leaders, including Nahum Sokolow, president of the Zionist Organization. (They had even considered including Chaim Weizmann).[192] It is not difficult the imagine what the effect of all this was on Melchett, for he was a Zionist, like his colleagues, and among them he was the only boycott advocate. “The new question was: Would Melchett sway establishment Anglo-Jewish leaders to boycott, or would they convince Melchett to join the ranks of quite diplomacy and foresake his movement?”[193]

Zionist leaders wasted no time.

Herbert Samuel, according to a report in the Frankfurter Zeitung from early July, had assured the German ambassador in London that any formal pro boycott effort in Great Britain would be denounced by Neville Laski and Leonard Montefiore, the presidents of the two big Jewish organizations in Britain.[194] Nahum Sokolow, from his simultaneous position as president of the Federation of Polish Jews in Great Britain, sabotaged the ardent boycott desires of the Polish Jews.[195] Chaim Weizmann and other key Zionist figures told the Deputies of the British Jews that they should oppose the boycott.[196] They had to move quickly because Jewish patriots such as Samuel Untermyer and George Freedman (this was the leader of the Jewish War Veterans, the organization that had launched the boycott) “were already in London conferring with European boycott advocates. All were anxious for Melchett to reschedule the [boycott] conference [he had postponed].” It appeared that the boycott advocates were about to win big.

“However, Zionist and traditional Anglo-Jewish leaders suddenly learned that they would be joined in opposing the conference by one of the boycotter’s own, one whose counsel would be heeded. No one could accuse this opponent of not being in the forefront of the anti-Nazi movement. He had just arrived in London from America, and he was as determined as anyone that [Melchett’s] World Jewish Economic Conference never take place. His name was Rabbi Stephen Wise.”[197]

I must correct a bit what Edwin Black writes, because he himself documents that Wise had opposed himself with perfect consistency to a boycott, despite all the pro-boycott militancy of his own American Jewish Congress. He was hardly "one of the boycotter’s own.” It is true that under pressure from his rank and file Wise had been forced to present himself in a stellar role in the big New York protests, and this had indeed raised his profile “[at] the forefront of the anti-Nazi movement.” But Wise used this prestige, as Black himself documents, to destroy the boycott. Notice therefore what this man whose “counsel would be heeded” -- because of his prestige as an apparent antinazi leader -- meant to do: “he was as determined as anyone that [Melchett’s] World Jewish Economic Conference never take place.” It appears that Wise wanted to undo Melchett's conference plans because at this conference the true leader would be Samuel Untermyer, who was very popular with the people in Wise’s own American Jewish Congress. If the conference was a success, Wise would be completely displaced, the anti-Nazi boycott would explode everywhere with great organization, and Nazism would be destroyed.

July-August: Samuel Untermyer vs. Stpehen Wise

What Stephen Wise now did was mobilize his prestige as anti-Nazi leader to convince Melchett that it would be better to join the World Jewish Congress, where, Wise promised, the boycott would finally be given a worldwide organization. But the top leadership of Wise's World Jewish Congress was chock-full of established Jewish leaders who opposed any anti-Nazi agitation. The boycott advocates rapidly perceived the game that was afoot, so when they saw that Melchett was caving in to Wise, Samuel Untermyer and allies announced that they would organize the World Jewish Economic Conference in 48 hours, 18 July, in Amsterdam. “The announcement was immediately backed by all pro-boycott groups. An article in the New York Times correctly identified Untermyer’s move as a battle between Eastern European [pro-boycott] and Western European [anti-boycott, heavily German] Jews for the leadership of the Jewish people.” In London Melchett felt forced to support Untermyer’s conference, and in New York Untermyer’s admirers in the leadership of the American Jewish Congress “began to doubt whether Wise was still the man to follow...[and,] in a rebellious action, ...suspended the subsidy for Nahum Goldmann, Wise’s chief organizer in Europe.”[198]

It seemed that Untermyer was winning.

After his conference, Untermyer and allies established the World Jewish Economic Federation so that sellers and non-German suppliers all over the world could easily find each other and so finally destroy the Nazis. They proposed Lord Melchett as honorary president and Untermyer as president, but by then the established Jewish leaders had complete control over Melchett, who announced that he would not participate, and that he was opposed to declaring officially any boycott! By early August, Melchett had retired completely from any anti-Nazi effort and some Zionist groups were even proposing him for president of the Zionist Organization! “Wise,” for his part, “began a subversion campaign” against Untermyer.[199]

There was a growing pro-boycott fervor developing in the Board of Deputies of the British Jews. This was a serious problem for the established Jewish leaders, because if this organization should ally with Untermyer, Hitler would be destroyed. So when the Deputies convened on 23 July to deliberate and then vote on the question of the boycott, Neville Laski, their leader, explained in secret that a negotiation was afoot with the Third Reich to transfer the German Jews to Palestine. It was a passionate, one hour speech, and he assured them that this was the best way to protect the German Jews, and that a boycott would sabotage everything. Those negotiations -- which Laski did not explain in any detail -- were those conducted on the one hand by Sam Cohen, and on the other by the Zionist Organization. Laski didn't allow anybody but him to talk for more than five minutes, and “only one or two pro-boycott Deputies were permitted to speak.” Wishing to trust the good intentions of their leaders, and not wanting to sabotage a secret negotiation that they ill understood and that supposedly would save the German Jews, the Deputies voted against the boycott. “Just after the Deputies’ final July 23 vote, Nahum Goldmann, the main [American Jewish] Congress organizer, arrived back in Geneva and promptly wrote a short letter about a fund-raising question to his friend Mr. Sam Cohen, who had by then reached London. At the end of the letter was this addendum: “Stephen Wise is presently in Paris and will arrive here [Geneva] Thursday evening.”[200]

Was it true that Sam Cohen's and the Zionist Organization's negotiations were being conducted to benefit the German Jews?

This is impossible to defend because the negotiations called for the Jewish leadership to destroy the anti-Nazi boycott that had virtually finished the Nazis already. To get a sense for this, on the same 23 July “Goering called a press conference and announced extraordinary measures to combat any insurrection among the ranks.”[201] To say that these were draconian measures is a bit absurd, because the Nazi state was already draconian, but it is nevertheless dramatic that increased repression had become necessary to prevent Hitler’s own Nazi Party from cracking under the pressure: the boycott was destroying the Nazi hold over Germany. By mid-July the German transport, medical, steel, and wine industries were bankrupt or near bankruptcy.[202] The situation was so desperate that Goering was making an effort to abolish the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany and the violence that came with it in order to deny the anti-Nazi combustion elsewhere the oxygen it needed. But the Nazis were difficult to control and “anti-Jewish boycotts continued unabated and in the most public fashion.” This was a moment full of “seductive encouragements to strangle the Reich economically,” and a final push was all that was needed, “but key Jewish leaders were doing all they could during July to block the anti-Nazi boycott.”[203]

They only way to defend the established Jewish and Zionist leaders is to say that they were poorly informed, or else they were very stupid, choosing in good faith a counterproductive strategy for the German and European Jews. But this defense cannot succeed. In late July the Zionist Executive was considering a detailed investigation by Leo Motzkin, member of the Executive and head of the Committee of Jewish Delegations in Geneva, on the conditions of the German Jews. Motzkin’s report asserted that “the actual number of cruelties and of violence perpetrated against Jews... will never be known.” On the possibilities of transfer to Palestine it concluded that, aside from some of the young, the German Jews did not want to leave, and “while emigration would save the young, only an intensified international boycott would help the older generation survive in a hostile Reich. ...The report recommended that the ‘boycott be increased and extended...’” But “Motzkin’s boycott report was rejected,” and in its place the recommendations of David Werner Senator to do everything possible to destroy the anti-Nazi boycott and stabilize the German economy, were accepted (Senator was one of the Zionist leaders who had initially launched the negotiations with the Nazis).[204]

In other words, the leaders of the Zionist Executive opted to save the Nazi regime even when their own investigation made clear that this course of action would condemn a majority of German Jews (in fact, a crushing majority, as we shall see). This was not a bad choice made in good faith: the Zionist leaders, against what their own investigation had established, were looking to save Hitler when he was about to fall, and despite the fact that destroying the boycott woudl condemn most German Jews. What they were trying to do was ally with the Nazis to confiscate the monies of a handful of Jews and force them to emigrate to Palestine -- a place where they didn't want to go.

The plan would not succeed, however, if the American Jewish Congress decided to confront Hitler. Congress members wanted to do it, so Wise would have to mobilize all of his energy and personal prestige in the opposite direction.

On the night of 3 August, the leaders of the American Jewish Congress came together to vote on two competing motions: one would declare the Congress in favor of organizing the boycott, the other, by contrast, would delay the boycott vote until 20 August, as per Stephen Wise’s wishes (expressed from Europe). Various leaders advocated passionately for joining Untermyer; others were opposed, determined to follow Wise. The Congress had all the infrastructural and financial resources that Untermyer needed, and should they join Untermyer a great barrier to German products in the United States -- a huge economy where the boycott was still not very effective -- would be erected. Wise could have destroyed Nazism if instead of opposing Untermyer he had simply spoken in favor of the boycott, because the vote was in fact ten for boycott and twelve for delaying the decision -- a photo finish. Thus is history decided.[206]

Samuel Untermyer returned to New York on 6 August, fresh from the success of his pro-boycott conference in Amsterdam. “Awaiting him was a Jewish community eager to follow and a non-Jewish community ready to join.” It was a triumphant, Hollywood spectacle: 5000 sympathizers celebrated his return at the docks with signs that read ‘Our Leader,’ while a band on a boat escorted his ship with music. Once on dry land Untermyer rushed to give a pro-boycott address on the radio. He criticized the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith as the main obstacles to an effective boycott. About the American Jewish Congress he said “I am satisfied that ninety-five percent of their members are already with us and that they are being misrepresented by two or three men now abroad.” He meant Stephen Wise and Nahum Goldmann. The next day, August 7, a rebellion began at the top of the Congress, and Wise was informed that the Congress would join the boycott on August 20. Untermyer was very excited, confident that he had finally achieved his coup and would soon have the resources to defeat Hitler.[205]

But Untermyer's adversaries did not rest. On August 7 the Zionist Executive had finally succeeded in wresting the negotiations with the Nazis from Sam Cohen (though Sam Cohen would not be pushed outside; he would simply no longer have a monopoly over the transfer), and the Transfer Agreement was signed, committing the Zionist leaders irrevocably to sabotaging the anti-Nazi boycott.[207] But, could they? Wise had to move fast, and so he rushed to give a public speech in Prague on 14 August that would save his prestige with the protest movement: he declared himself in favor of the boycott, and promised that his World Jewish Congress would organize the worldwide anti-Nazi effort. His Congress was scheduled to meet on September 5, after the Eighteenth Zionist Congress had concluded in Prague. It was a shrewd move. In the context of Wise's latest pro boycott declaration, the leaders of his American Jewish Congress felt obliged to convince Untermyer not to begin organizing the boycott, but to wait for September 5. Untermyer agreed because he had few resources and it was politically difficult to oppose Wise now that the Reform rabbi had promised in public to join the effort.


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


Untermyer had been kicked off the summit, and Wise would have a new opportunity to use his prestige as protest leader, which he had just renewed, to sabotage the movement.

August-September: The 18th Zionist Congress

On 20 August the American Jewish Congress announced that it would implement the boycott against Germany, in the same breadth condemning Roosevelt for not opposing Nazism and for forbidding entry to the United States to the desperate Jews. Untermyer predicted that Germany would fall that winter, and he announced that he had sent a cable to the Zionist leaders in Prague urging them to join the anti-Nazi boycott.[208]

The next day, in Prague,

“ Jabotinsky was exhorting his followers to postpone their political grievances [with the Labor Zionists] in favor of the war against Nazism, Labor leader David Ben-Gurion... demanded that his supporters do the opposite. The most important task of the moment, Ben-Gurion declared, was to cleanse the movement of Revisionism and extend Mapai’s political borders to cover the entire Zionist Organization. The Labor Party [Mapai], controlling 44% of the delegates, was the movement, Ben-Gurion said. This new reality, Mapai leaders explained, required a new constitution to enable the Zionist Executive to expel ‘undisciplined’ groups and/or deprive them of their rightful share of immigration certificates. Ben-Gurion proposed giving Revisionists the Inquisitional choice of pledging allegiance to the new Mapai-dominated organization or leaving the movement altogether.”[209]

It’s important to point out who was behind Mapai’s policy. “Nazi officials had unmistakably warned: The sterility of the [Zionist] Congress’ German resolution, the uncompromising suppression of any boycott or protest mandates, and the complete absence of any hostile demonstrations against Germany -- these would be the prerequisites for future cooperation.”[210] Mapai leaders obediently managed to take full control of the presidium, the organizing body, and used it to create a Commission on Palestinian Terrorism with which to accuse the Revisionists over and over again of having supposedly murdered Arlosoroff, thus postponing any discussion of the German crisis.[211] The president of the Zionist Organization, Nahum Sokolow, obediently inaugurated the Congress with a speech notable for the following words: “It is not our task to influence or criticize the internal developments of the German people, which have gravely suffered through the war and its consequences.”[212]

After Sokolow’s speech Dr. Arthur Ruppin took the floor to explain Mapai’s proposal: to bring to Palestine a total of 4000 Jews, and a maximum of 50,000 to 100,000 over the next decade. This confirmed that the decision of the Zionist Executive to save the Nazis had nothing to do with defending the German Jews. The German Jewish population in those days ascended to more than half a million. In two hurried sentences, Ruppin spoke of an agreement reached with the Third Reich, lying about the involvement of the Zionist Executive and attributing the whole negotiation to Sam Cohen.[213]

The night of the 24th the Revisionists tried to present for a floor vote their pro-boycott resolution. The Labor Zionists did not allow it. “At this the Congress lapsed into utter pandemonium.” Some “Mapai ruffians” even accosted Jabotinsky’s wife. Later “Jabotinsky was invited to press charges, but declined.”[213a]

By August 25 the news about the Transfer Agreement had been leaked to the press, and the agreement, “still shrouded in ambiguity, had raised a storm of protest around the world. If the agreement was what the Revisionists suspected, the details had to be aired before the delegates, the world media, and world Jewry.” Meir Grossman, a Revisionist, invoked the right of interpellation to say that “In yesterday’s newspapers there was a report that an agreement has been concluded between the Zionists and the German government... that Palestine will purchase 3 million marks’ worth of goods from Germany and that in return the German government will release a like amount of the property of the Jews.” Grossman demanded that the Zionist leaders clarify whether this had been agreed with their knowledge and consent. The delegates received Grossman’s intervention with a great applause.[214]

Not only had the Labor Zionists negotiated with the Nazis, but Chaim Arlosoroff, the supposed martyr fallen for the Jewish cause whose portrait was emblazoned on the anti-Revisionist flag that Mapai was flying, had led the effort. Instead of answering Grossman’s question, the presidium closed the session saying it was late and it would soon be Shabbos (this is the Jewish Holy Day, which begins on Friday evening, at sunset). Jabotinsky convened a spontaneous press conference announcing that since the Zionist Organization would not join the boycott, “the 100,000 members of the Revisionists, all their offices and resources all over the world would do so,” and would respect Untermyer’s leadership. He denounced the Transfer Agreement as a great humiliation and promised that the Jews of Palestine would continue boycotting Germany.[215]

In the nighttime session Berl Locker of the Zionist Executive -- who had worked with Sam Cohen in the initial negotiation -- lied, saying that the Executive had had nothing to do with it, and in order to postpone any discussion he promised there would be an investigation and a report. This was followed by a vicious attack from Zalman Rubaschov -- a Labor leader in Palestine who would later be President Zalman Shalazar of Israel -- against the Revisionists, saying that they were a “gangrene” that had to be extirpated from the Zionist movement. Jabotinsky walked out. One Revisionist wanted to reply but “before his first sentences were complete, the entire Mapai delegation stood up and walked out.” When the session resumed the Revisionists wanted details about the Transfer Agreement “but the proceeding was interrupted by what many believed was a staged emergency,” when it was announced that a telegram had supposedly arrived from Palestine saying that a Revisionist had confessed to the murder of Arlosoroff. When Jabotinsky returned and was apprised of this he let out a laugh and assured his followers not to worry: “I guarantee that the telegram is false.” Sure enough: the next day the delegates learned that that telegram was a fake. “Still, the false alarm had served to foreclose debate one more day on the truly pressing issue: the Transfer Agreement.”[216]

The next three days were one gaping astonishment after another. On August 26 the Nazis actually castigated the Labor Zionists publicly for having failed so far to expel the Revisionists. On the 27th a Berlin newspaper reported that Germany would buy a big share of Palestine’s orange harvest, causing a scandal. Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland, an important Zionist, denounced any Palestinian Jew who traded with the Nazis. Untermyer denounced the absurd argument that the anti-Nazi boycott should be cancelled to save the Transfer Agreement, and threatened in a telegram that unless the Zionist Organization repudiated the orange agreement he would summon a convention of American Zionists to have the entire US delegation recalled from Prague. On the 28th Grossman’s question of the role Zionist leaders had played in the Transfer Agreement would have to be answered so Mapai simply canceled the session! [217]

Wise again tread carefully on his tightrope over a dangerous abyss. Though he had publicly promised, before going to the Zionist Congress and under pressure from Untermyer, to organize the worldwide boycott, at the Zionist Congress he in fact opposed the Revisionist resolution in favor of the boycott! Now Untermyer pushing him against the another wall with his ultimatum. So Wise, once again forced to demonstrate that he was supposedly a leader of the protest movement, attacked Weizmann, his rival at the top. He also attacked Mapai’s policy of bringing just a handful of Jews to Palestine, and then only those who agreed with Mapai’s ideology (Ben-Gurion was in fact promising to give priority to his own people over the desperate German Jews!). Witless Revisionists cheered and celebrated Wise's interventions, while the Mapai militants booed. But, as ever, Wise was doing just the minimum not to lose his prestige with the protest movement, and he was careful not to mention, even, the Transfer Agreement or the orange agreement. So Meir Grossman once again took the floor: What role had the leaders of the Zionist Organization played in the negotiations with the Nazis? Cornered, the Zionist Executive said that it would explain it to the Political Committee -- which included Meir Grossman, Stephen Wise, Menachem Ussischkin, David Ben-Gurion, and others -- in private session. Testifying would be E.S. Hoofien [from the Anglo-Palestine Bank], Berl Locker, Dr. Arthur Ruppin, and Sam Cohen.[218]

One after another, Locker, Hoofien, Ruppin, and Cohen lied, saying that the Transfer Agreement would not affect the boycott, that Sam Cohen had negotiated everything, and that the Zionist Executive had had nothing to do with it.[219] A surreal distraction: How could the Zionist leaders wash their hands of the affair by saying that they had not negotiated with the Nazis, when they were defending the fruits of those negotiations? The Revisionists thought that this time they would be able to convince the delegates to abolish the agreement; “as expected, the only way Mapai could block this was by intensifying their allegations that the Revisionists killed Arlosoroff.”[220] This was another surreal twist: the treasonous agreement with the Nazis would be saved by representing the chief negotiator as a martyr fallen for the Jewish cause. And so it was: “Hour after hour, night after night. The crisis in Germany was omitted from the agenda. The menace of Hitlerism was bypassed. The Nazis must have been smiling.”[221]

Reacting to the pressure from below, Wise again acted but again in such a way as to blunt the attacks of the pro-boycott people. He replaced Untermyer’s uncompromising ultimatum with a weaker one: “Either the Political Committee clarify how the Transfer Agreement was not a gross breach of the boycott, or Wise himself would issue a statement on behalf of the entire American delegation condemning the agreement.”[222] Formulated as a threat, in fact it gave the Labor Zionists a way out. Wise’s maneuver, however, did not seem quite sufficient, for anger at the agreement was growing. So Mapai created on 31 August a special session just to attack the Revisionists for the murder of Arlosoroff, passing a resolution that would establish an inquisitory investigative panel that would give Mapai the power to expel them. They did not allow discussion on the resolution and it was approved.[223]

Amazing: that same day the Nazis published the text of the agreement, demonstrating the involvement of the Zionist leadership in the negotiations. “By September 2, in the shadow of the latest discussions, even some of the staunchest transfer advocates in Prague were changing their minds.” In these circumstances, Wise was forced to demand that the Congress adopt a resolution condemning the agreement. The clamor for repudiating the agreement grew when Ruppin confessed that, in fact, the Zionist Executive had directed the negotiations. Meir Grossman presented, with Stephen Wise, the text of a resolution that would annul the agreement. But then Moshe Sharrett, who would later play a starring role condemning some 400,000 Hungarian Jews to death, in a new Kafkaesque twist contradicted Ruppin, saying that the Zionist Organization had not seen the agreement until a day before the signing of it. So an agreement with the Nazis had been signed after considering it for no more than one day? This was a defense of the Zionist Executive? “Mapai knew they were becoming isolated on the issue. The Transfer Agreement could indeed be repudiated the next day at the final Congress session. In the absence of the Transfer Agreement, there could only be boycott, and boycott meant the return of Revisionism. It could not be allowed.” So Mapai used its numerical superiority of 44%, with some allies in other parties, to pass a resolution -- over the loud protests -- that “outlawed all forms of anti-Nazi protest, including campaigning against the Transfer Agreement. Under the resolution, all those who broke the discipline provisions would be suspended and tried by a special tribunal...empowered to expel the person or party from the Zionist Organization.” The next day Mapai managed to get the tired and confused delegates, anxious to be done with it all, reluctant to ally public with the 'terrorism' of the Revisionists, and wishing to believe that their leaders had not negotiated in bad faith against their interests, to vote in favor of the agreement with the Nazis.[224]































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\adler.jpg

Cyrus Adler





































































































































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\arlosoroff.jpg

Chaim Arlosoroff






















































































































































































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\untermyer.gif

Samuel Untermyer








Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\sokolow.jpg

Nahum Sokolow











































































Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\roosevelt.gif

Franklin Delano


September: Stephen Wise delivers the coup de grace to the boycott

The boycott could still be saved, and the man with the power to save it was Reform Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. But, once again, Wise would take it upon himself to sabotage everything.

As we saw, when it seemed that Untermyer would wrest from him the leadership of the protest movement, Wise had rushed to promise that, after the Zionist Congress his own World Jewish Congress would launch in Geneva the infrastructure with which, finally, to organize all over the world the boycott against the Nazis. That moment had now arrived. Following the close of the Zionist Congress, Stephen Wise gave the inaugural address at his World Jewish Contgress on 5 September in Geneva, and he announced that he would organize the boycott.[225] It was impossible to say otherwise because those who assisted that Congress had come to organize the boycott.

Naturally, the Zionist Organization was making pressure against and in fact they had managed to secure the non-attendance of the Board of Deputies of the British Jews, one of the most important organizations.[226] But there was pressure from the other side as well: on 6 September Untermyer had gotten the Assembly of Hebrew Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, with the support of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Abraham Kook, to place an official curse of untouchability -- cherem -- on German goods, thus placing Orthodox Judaism in dramatic confrontation with the Nazis and the Zionist Organization.[227]

Despite everything, that same September 6 Nahum Goldmann and Stephen Wise were working already to steer the whole business toward sabotage. Goldman defended what the Zionist Organization had done -- the Transfer Agreement -- as compatible with what the World Jewish Congress was planning to do. The confused participants in Wise’s Congress couldn’t follow this: the Zionist Organization was doing everything within its power to sabotage the boycott. Wasn’t the World Jewish Congress supposed to organize, precisely, that same boycott?

This was, in fact, no longer clear.

In his speech of that same day, Wise did like Goldmann: he defended the Zionist Organization. He said, “I do not believe the boycott has been ruthlessly trampled upon and violated by our fellow Jews or their representatives in Palestine.” No? But the Zionist Organization, as we earlier saw, had outlawed “all forms of anti-Nazi protest, including campaigning against the [boycott-nullifying] Transfer Agreement.” ‘War is peace,’ ‘freedom is slavery,’ and ‘nulifying the boycott neither tramples upon nor violates the boycott.’ Wise could have been a character in a George Orwell novel. Then Wise produced another of his inimitable hot-air threats that were a menace to no one: “if it be proved to me that any Jew in or out of Palestine, or any representative of any group of Jews, has been so base as to attempt to do business with Germany for the sake of profit and gain, I attest that life will not be bearable for any such man...”[228] But the main problem with the Transfer Agreement, which Wise had just excused, was not with the motives that had inspired it (though these motives were that base), but with its obvious effects: the Transfer Agreement would save Hitler.

On September 7 things were getting a bit out of hand for Goldmann and Wise, for the delegates to the World Jewish Congress wanted to approve a resolution condemning the Zionist Organization. Goldmann then gave a speech denying that the Zionist Executive had negotiated the agreement, denying that it broke with the boycott, and defending the agreement. When he saw that he was convincing nobody, he desperately declared that it was “absurd” (absurd!) to say that one could not negotiate with Germany. When he saw that he still was not convincing them he announced, as organizer of the World Jewish Congress, that

“...we will not permit this forum to be used for anti-Zionist maneuvers and I am asking you not to insist on resolutions which are directed against the Zionist Organization. The conference is to decide about the boycott question. But what has been done here [with the Transfer Agreement] was absolutely necessary and not a crime.”[229]

His opponents immediately replied that the World Jewish Congress certainly could deal with the question of the agreement of the Zionist Organization with the Nazis because this was organically linked with the success of the boycott. An agitated discussion ensued, and Goldmann continued defending the agreement as a Zionist obligation.

On 8 September, the last day, Stephen Wise read the ‘boycott’ declaration. In his last sentence Wise would supposedly declare the formation of a Central Jewish Committee to coordinate the boycott efforts around the world, finally destroying the Nazis. But he didn’t. Wise’s declaration simply encouraged the continuation of the spontaneous boycott that was already taking place. There was not one word about the organization of the boycott which was supposedly the very goal of the World Jewish Congress. Once again, posing as a protest leader, Wise had sabotaged the defense of the Jewish people. But few people realized on this moment what he had done: everybody got the impression that Wise had declared the organization of the boycott mostly because this was supposed to be the very purpose of his World Jewish Congress. Immediately after this, Wise gave control of boycott business to the Zionist Executive, for he placed Leo Motzkin and Nahum Goldmann at its head.

Naturally, the boycott was never organized.

In the United States Wise was received by the leaders of the American Jewish Congress. They were not happy. They wanted to know why Wise had sabotaged Untermyer’s efforts if he was not going to organize the boycott himself. Some wanted to force Wise to cooperate with Untermyer, but his followers outnumbered them and there was no such revolution. Wise was the founder of the American Jewish Congress, and his followers wanted to believe in him.

The boycott had been destroyed. Hitler had been saved. The Jewish people had been betrayed. From here onwards the Western governments would put in motion a policy that has been called ‘appeasement’ by historians -- because they apaprently consider it out of bounds to call it ‘pro-Nazi’ -- and which resulted in Hitler taking over all of Europe practically without having to draw his sword.


Is this article useful? Help us do more with a donation .
Would you like to be notified of new articles? Sign up (it’s free) .


Stephen Wise would go on to do worse things during the Holocaust. So would Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Sharrett, and David Ben-Gurion.




Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\wise.jpg

Rabbi Stephen Wise



Description: C:\Users\Francisco\Desktop\Transfer\web\hir\israel\goldmann.jpg

Nahum Goldmann



The next piece in this series is:

“How the mainstream Jewish leadership failed the Jewish people in World War II”; from THE PROBLEM OF JEWISH SELF-DEFENSE; Historical and Investigative Research; 17 January 2006; by Francisco Gil-White.

Notify me of new HIR pieces!

Description: HIR mailing list


Footnotes and Further Reading

[1] There is a bewildering array of different spellings of the man’s name. I have used only one, forcing other authors to agree with mine, for simplicity’s sake.

[2] Carroll, J. 2001. Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. (p.387-88)

[3] Hathaway, J. 1997. The Grand Vizier and the false Messiah: The Sabbatai Sevi controversy and the Ottoman reform in Egypt. Journal of the American Oriental Society 117:665-671. (p.665)

[3a] Davies, W. D. 1976. From Schweitzer to Scholem: Reflections on Sabbatai Svi. Journal of biblical literature 95:529-558. (p.530)

[4] Hathaway (1997:665)

[5] Davies(1976:530)

[6] Davies (1976:537-38)

[7] “The religion of peace?: What, exactly, is ‘moderate Islam’?”; from THE CULTURE OF ISLAM; Historical and Investigative Research; 10 January 2007; by Francisco Gil-White.

[8]  Bostom, A. G. 2005. The legacy of jihad: Islamic holy war and the fates of non-Muslims. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. (pp.17-19)

[9] To read about the importance of Jewish ideology for the struggle to gain basic legal protections of liberty and equality for ordinary workers throughout history, read:

Gil-White, F. J. 2005. The Crux of World History. Volume 1. The Book of Genesis: The birth of the Jewish people: Historical and Investigative Research.

[10] Hathaway (1997:667)

[11] Hathaway (1997:667)

[12] Hathaway (1997:667)

[13] Davies (1976:542)

[14] Davies (1976:542-43)

[15] Levin, K. 2005. The Oslo syndrome: Delusions of a people under siege. Hanover, NH: Smith and Kraus. (p.3)

[16] The Talmud is a record of rabbinic interpretations of the Torah that are considered authoritative and which form the basis of Jewish law. It is divided into two major parts, Mishna, which states concluded legal opinions, and Gemara, which is a series of debates. (Of course, the Talmud is infinitely more than this).

[17] Carroll (2001:248)

[18] Levin (2005:40)

[18a] Levin (2005:40)

[19] Levin (2005:40)

[20] Dan, J. 1991. A bow to Frumkinian Hasidism. Modern Judaism 11:175-193. (p.190)

[21] Levin (2005:2)

[22] Levin (2005:5)

[22a] Levin (2005:45)

[23] Dan (1991:180)

[24] Dan (1991:178-79)

[25] Dan (1991:178)

[26] Dan (1991:175)

[26a]  "Dhimmitude and slavery: The fates of non-Muslims (and Muslims, too) in Islamic society"; from THE CULTURE OF ISLAM; Historical and Investigative Research; 14 October 2007; by Francisco Gil-White.

[27] Levin (2005:44)

[28] Glenn, M. G. 1957. Some historical background for the rise of Musarism. The Jewish quarterly review 48:99-103. (p.99)

[29] Levin (2005:44)

[30] Glenn (1957:99)

[31] Carlebach (1992:199)

[32] Eisenstein-Barzilay, I. 1956. The ideology of the Berlin Haskalah. Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 25:1-37. (p.1)

[33] “Towards the end of the Middle Ages Jews lived in 85 towns in Poland and their total number amounted to 18,000 in Poland and 6,000 in Lithuania, which represented merely 0.6 per cent of the total population of the two states. The 16th and the first half of the 17th century saw increased settlement and a relatively fast rate of natural population growth among both Polish and Lithuanian Jews. The number of immigrants also grew, especially in the 16th century. Among the new arrivals there were not only the Ashkenazim, banished from the countries belonging to the Habsburg monarchy, that is Germany, Bohemia, Hungary and Lower Silesia... but also the Sephardim who were driven away from Spain and Portugal. Moreover many Sephardic Jews from Italy and Turkey came to Poland of their own free will.”

SOURCE: "History of the Jews in Poland" by Ph. D. M. Rosenzweig

“Under Polish rule, the Jews had achieved a degree of political and social autonomy unsurpassed in the European diaspora. More than in any other country, the Jews of Poland were able to engage in the full range of practices that made Judaism a distinct social order. Not only their ritual observance but their rabbinic courts of law and system of taxation were recognized and protected by the state. In each community, a governing body known as the kahal gathered and apportioned Jewish taxes, policed the local Jewish population, and controlled residence and membership in the community. Moreover, a country-wide institution known as the Council of the Four Lands (referring to the four major regions of the Polish commonwealth) coordinated practices among the hundreds of Jewish communities and represented them vis-à-vis the Polish rulers.”

Nathans, B. 2002. Beyond the Pale: The Jewish encounter with late imperial Russia. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. (p.25)

[34] Ofek, A. 1993. Cantonists: Jewish Children as Soldiers in Tsar Nicholas's Army. Modern Judaism Vol. 13:277-308. (pp.277-78)

[34a] Levin (2005:38)

[35] Levin (2005:38)

[36] Black, E. 1984. The transfer agreement: The dramatic story of the pact between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. New York: Carroll & Graf. (p.167)

[37] Black (1984:167)

[38] Levin (2005:40)

[39] Levin (2005:41)

[40] Levin (2005:40, 42)

[41] Carroll (2001:406-13)

[42] Levin (2005:46)

[43] Levin (2005:26)

[44] Levin (2005:6)

[45] Levin (2005:7)

[46] Levin (2005:7)

[47] For an analysis of the political impact of Jewish Law in the fist century Mediterranean, consult Chapter 1 of:

Gil-White, F. J. 2005. The Crux of World History. Volume 1. The Book of Genesis: The birth of the Jewish people: Historical and Investigative Research.

[48] Levin (2005:192)

[49] Levin (2005:10-11)

[50] Levin (2005:189-90)

[51] Levin (2005:189)

[51a] Levin (2005:191)

[51b] The first remark is in a letter from Weizmann to Steed, November 30, 1918. The second remark, about the European Jews being "dust" not worth saving he made in reply to a question, during his testimony before the Peel Commission that was investigating the causes of Palestinian Arab terrorism against the Jews in 1936. Weizmann had been asked whether the Zionist movement sought to bring 6 million Jews to Palestine.

Wyman, D. S., and R. Medoff. 2002. A race against death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust. New York: The New Press. (p.132).

[52] Brown, M. 1989. The New Zionism in the New World: Vladimir Jabotinsky's relations with the United States in the pre-Holocaust years. Modern Judaism 9:71-99. (p.75)

[53] Brown (1989:75)

[54] Brenner, L. 1983. Zionist-Revisionism: The Years of Fascism and Terror. Journal of Palestine Studies 13:66-92. (p.66)

[55] Hecht, B. 1991[1961]. Perfidy. Jerusalem: Gefen. (p.234)

[56] Black (1984:82).

[56a] Wyman, D. S., and R. Medoff. 2002. A race against death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust. New York: The New Press. (p.15, fn.)

[57] Hecht (1991[1961]:233-34)

[58] For British policy in Palestine at the time of the Jewish people's greatest need, consult the section entitled "The Arab terrorist and British puppet Hajj Amin al Husseini becomes a British-Nazi puppet" in:

“How did the ‘Palestinian movement’ emerge? The British sponsored it. Then the German Nazis, and the US”; from UNDERSTANDING THE PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT; Historical and Investigative Research; 13 June 2006; by Francisco Gil-White.

[59]  Black (1984:83)

[60] “How did the ‘Palestinian movement’ emerge? The British sponsored it. Then the German Nazis, and the US”; from UNDERSTANDING THE PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT; Historical and Investigative Research; 13 June 2006; by Francisco Gil-White.

[61] For British policy in Europe in the context of the Holocaust:

And for the role that the British played condemning to death 800,000 Hungarian Jews, read:

“The responsibility of the mainstream (Labor Zionist) Israeli leaders during the Shoah (‘Holocaust’)”; from THE PROBLEM OF JEWISH SELF-DEFENSE; Historical and Investigative Research; 21 February 2007; by Francisco Gil-White.

[62] Brown (1989:85)

[62a] Levin (2005:195)

[63] Brown (1989:84)

[64] Tzahor, Z. 1988. The struggle between the Revisionist Party and the Labor Movement: 1929-1933. Modern Judaism 8:15-25. (p.15)

[65] Tzahor (1988:18)

[66] Brenner (1983:70)

[67] Tzahor (1988:19)

[68] Tzahor (1988:19-20)

[69] Tzahor (1988:20)

[70] Levin (2005:44-45)

[71] Black (1984:167).

[72] Cohon, S. S., and N. J. Vol. 2, 1922), pp. 27-43. 1922. The Mission of Reform Judaism. The journal of religion 2:27-43. (p.27)

[73] Levin (2005:49)

[74] Levin (2005:43)

[75] Freehof, S. B. 1955. Reform Judaism in America. The Jewish quarterly review 45:350-362. (p.353)

[76] The statistics, put together by the National Jewish Population Survey (“NJPS”) of 1990, were presented by Anthony Gordon and Richard Horowitz in: “Will your grandchildren be Jews?”; Jewish Spectator; Fall, 1996; pp 36-38.

[77] Black (1984:167)

[78] Levin (2005:56)

[79] Black (1984:4)

[80] Black (1984:5)

[81] Black (1984:5-6)

[82] To read about the rise of the eugenics movement in Britain and the United States, consult Chapter 7 of:

Gil-White, F. J. 2004. Resurrecting racism: The current attack on black people using phony science: Historical and Investigative Research

[82a] To read about how the US ruling class sponsored the rise of German Nazism, read:

Black, E. 2003. War against the weak: Eugenics and America's campaign to create a master race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows.

[83] “President Woodrow Wilson counted [Wise] as a key supporter.” See: Black, E. 2003. War against the weak: Eugenics and America's campaign to create a master race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. (p.120)

To read about Woodrow Wilson’s ideology, consult the section entitled “The institutionalization of eugenics in the US” in Chapter 7 of:

Gil-White, F. J. 2004. Resurrecting racism: The current attack on black people using phony science: Historical and Investigative Research

[84] To learn about the Supreme Court fraud that legalized eugenic sterilization in the US, see:

Black, E. 2003. War against the weak: Eugenics and America's campaign to create a master race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. (pp.108-122).

For Brandeis’s role, same reference, p.120.

For a summary of all this, read Chapter 7 (especially the section entitled “Who Were the Feebleminded?”), in:

Gil-White, F. J. 2004. Resurrecting racism: The current attack on black people using phony science: Historical and Investigative Research.

[85] “How the mainstream Jewish leadership failed the Jewish people in World War II”;  Historical and Investigative Research; 17 January 2006; by Francisco Gil-White; from THE PROBLEM OF JEWISH SELF-DEFENSE.

[85a] Rapoport, Louis. 1999. Shake heaven and earth: Peter Bergson and the struggle to rescue the Jews of Europe, Gefen, Jerusalem and New York. (p.32).

[86] Black (1984:8)

[87] Black (1984:9)

[88] Black (1984:10-11)

[89] Black (1984:13)

[89a] Levin (2005:139)

[89b] Black (1984:13)

[89c] Black (1984:14)

[90] Black (1984:14-15; emphasis mine)

[90a] Black (1984:12)

[91] “The responsibility of the mainstream (Labor Zionist) Israeli leaders during the Shoah (‘Holocaust’)”; from THE PROBLEM OF JEWISH SELF-DEFENSE; Historical and Investigative Research; 21 February 2007; by Francisco Gil-White.

[92] Black (1984:122)

[93] Black (1984:39)

[94] Black (1984:15)

[95] Black (1984:18)

[96] Black (1984:17)

[97] Black (1984:17)

[98] Black (1984:19, 39; emphasis  mine)

[99] Black (1984:39)

[100] Black (1984:18-19)

[101] Black (1984:20)

[102] On the international reaction to the accusations against Alfred Dreyfus: Mandell, R. D. 1967. The affair and the fair: Some observations on the closing stages of the Dreyfus case. The journal of modern history 39:253-265.

On Ford’s antisemitic propaganda and the boycott that stopped it: Black (1984:25-30)

[103] Black (1984:33)

[104] Black (1984:35)

[105] Black (1984:36)

[106] Black (1984:40)

[107] Black (1984:36)

[108] Black (1984:79)

[109] Black (1984:37)

[110] Black (1984:38)

[111] Black (1984:44-46; emphasis mine)

[112] Black (1984:47-48)

[113] Black (1984:52-53)

[114] Black (1984:53)

[115] Black (1984:58)

[115a] Black (1984:59-60)

[116] Black (1984:60)

[117] Black (1984:54-55)

[118] Black (1984:55)

[119] Black (1984:60)

[120] Black (1984:60-61)

[121] Black (1984:72)

[122] Black (1984:98)

[123] Black (1984:80)

[124] Black (1984:96)

[125] Black (1984:82, 86)

[126] Black (1984:83)

[127] Black (1984:134)

[128] Black (1984:85)

[128a] Black (1984:85, 205, 211)

[129] Black (1984:85-86)

[130] Black (1984:86)

[131] Black (1984:93)

[132] Black (1984:142)

[133] Black (1984:142)

[134] Black (1984:142)

[135] Black (1984:148)

[136] Black (1984:122)

[137] Black (1984:122)

[138] Black (1984:122-23)

[139] Black (1984:81)

[140] Black (1984:62-63)

[141] “How did the ‘Palestinian movement’ emerge? The British sponsored it. Then the German Nazis, and the US”; from UNDERSTANDING THE PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT; Historical and Investigative Research; 13 June 2006; by Francisco Gil-White.

[142] Black (1984:81, 122)

[143] Black (1984:63-64)

[144] Black (1984:64-65)

[145] Black (1984:64-65)

[146] Black (1984:71)

[147] Black (1984:104-05)

[148] Black (1984:111)

[149] Black (1984:105)

[150] Black (1984:129-30)

[151] Black (1984:123)

[152] Black (1984:110-11)

[153] Black (1984:97)

[154] Black (1984:112)

[155] Black (1984:106)

[156] Black (1984:107-08)

[156a] Black (1984:108)

[157] Black (1984:108)

[158] Black (1984:108)

[159] Black (1984:173-74)

[159a] Naftali, T. 2005. "The CIA and Eichmann's Associates," in US Intelligence and the Nazis. Edited by R. Breitman, N. J. W. Goda, T. Naftali, and R. Wolfe, pp. 337-374. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (p.339)

[160] Black (1984:174-75)

[160a] Simpson, C. 1988. Blowback: America's recruitment of Nazis and its effects on the Cold War. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicholson. (p.253)

[160b] Simpson (1988:253-54)

[160c] Levin, K. 2005. The Oslo syndrome: Delusions of a people under siege. Hanover, NH: Smith and Kraus. (p.195)

[160d] Shapira, A. 1992. Land and power: The Zionist resort to force 1881-1948. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. (p.193)

[160d] Shapira (1992:164-66)

[160f] Black (1984:96)

[161] Black (1984:95-96)

[162] Black (1984:98-99)

[163] Black (1984:96)

[164] “Was there, in British Mandate Palestine, a ‘nationally conscious’ ‘Palestinian Arab people’?”; from UNDERSTANDING THE PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT; Historical and Investigative Research; 30 April 2006; by Francisco Gil-White

[165] Black (1984:99-100)

[166] Black (1984:101)

[166a] Black (1984:114)

[167] Black (1984:114-15, 119)

[168] Marks, F. W. M. I. 1985. Six between Roosevelt and Hitler: America's Role in the Appeasement of Nazi Germany. The Historical Journal 28:969-982. (p.971)

[169] Black (1984:143-44)

[170] Black (1984:180-184)

[171] Black (1984:248)

[172] Black (1984:160)

[173] Black (1984:148-49)

[174] Black (1984:149)

[175] To learn more about the sicarii, read:

Horsley, R. A. 1979. The Sicarii: Ancient Jewish "Terrorists". The journal of religion 59:435-458.

To read about Roman oppression and the valiant resistance of the ancient Jews, read:

Gil-White, F. J. 2005. The Crux of World History. Volume 1. The Book of Genesis: The birth of the Jewish people: Historical and Investigative Research.

[176] Black (1984:149)

[177] Brenner (1983:74)

[177a] Bradfield, A. L., and G. L. Wells. 2000. The Perceived Validity of Eyewitness Identification Testimony: A Test of the Five Biggers Criteria. Law and Human Behavior 24:581-594. (p.581)

[178] Black (1984:151-52)

[179] Black (1984:157)

[180] Black (1984:152)

[180a] Brenner (1983:74)

[181] Black (1984:157)

[182] Black (1984:142)

[183] Black (1984:158)

[183a] Black (1984:158)

[184] The quotations are from Irgunist Peter Bergson, in an interview with David Wyman (Wyman & Medoff 2002:124).

[184a] Wyman & Medoff (2002:19)

[184b] Brown (1989:73-74)

[184c] Black (1984:62)

[184d] Brenner (1983:79)

[184e] Wyman & Medoff (2002:19)

[184f] Black (1984:288)

[185] Black (1984:288-89)

[186] Black (1984:199-89)

[187] Black (1984:192)

[188] Black (1984:192)

[189] Black (1984:217-225)

[190] Black (1984:193-94)

[191] Black (1984:200)

[192] Black (1984:209)

[193] Black (1984:200)

[194] Black (1984:203)

[195] Black (1984:201)

[196] Black (1984:201)

[197] Black (1984:201)

[198] Black (1984:202-05)

[199] Black (1984:207-10, 272)

[200] Black (1984:211-123)

[201] Black (1984:224)

[202] Black (1984:264-65)

[203] Black (1984:224-25)

[204] Black (1984:255-56)

[205] Black (1984:276-78)

[206] Black (1984:272-76)

[207] Black (1984:248)

[208] Black (1984:280-81)

[209] Black (1984:301)

[210] Black (1984:305)

[211] Black (1984:296)

[212] Black (1984:305)

[213] Black (1984:303-05)

[213a] Black (1984:309)

[214] Black (1984:312-13)

[215] Black (1984:313-14)

[216] Black (1984:314-15)

[217] Black (1984:315-21)

[218] Black (1984:322-27)

[219] Black (1984:325-30)

[220] Black (1984:330)

[221] Black (1984:332)

[222] Black (1984:332)

[223] Black (1984:334-35)

[224] Black (1984:335-43)

[225] Black (1984:349)

[226] Black (1984:352)

[227] Black (1984:350-51)

[228] Black (1984:352-53)

[229] Black (1984:355)


Reform Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise

Reform Rabbi Steven Samuel Wise