|©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black. Used by permission.
The Transfer Agreement:
The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine
by Edwin Black
Excerpts from Three Chapters
~ Chapter One - 3 ~
The Powers That Were
Yet, all were Jews, drawn from a
common heritage. And as of January 30, 1933, there arose a clear need to unify to combat the
greatest single anti-Jewish threat ever posed. Hitler promised not only to rid Germany of its
Jews, but to cleanse the world as well. Action by America's Jews was required-fast action.
As Adolf Hitler's Nazi party was
taking over Germany, as the German Jews of New York were dominating the American Jewish
political scene, so too, would Germans and Germany now determine the realities in a small
undeveloped stretch of desert by the sea known as Palestine. For hundreds of years, the area
had been the kingdom of the Jews. After the Israelites' dispersion in the second century A.D.,
the Romans changed the region's name to Syria Palaestina to wipe away the Jewish nation
forever. Small groups of Jews had remained through the centuries in what became known simply
as Palestine, but not until the late nineteenth century, following waves of European
anti-Semitism, did large numbers of Jews begin an experimental return to their ancestral home.
Agricultural settlements repeatedly failed in Palestine as Jewish idealists and dreamers tried
to force the sandy and swampy wasteland to bloom. But with the steady help of European and
American Jewish philanthropists, the Jewish agricultural revival finally began to triumph over
the neglected Palestinian terrain.(11)
By the time airplanes were flying
over the Mideast, the future of Jews in Palestine could be seen as green patches against a
bleached beige backdrop. The green patches marked orange groves, the economic basis for Jewish
survival in the Holy Land. When the young workers came from Russia, Poland, and even the
United States, they were frequently settled on groves to grow oranges and other citrus for
export. (12) Orange crates became the building blocks of Zionism.
Promising as those orange groves
were, Jewish Palestine in 1933 was still little more than a collection of unconnected enclaves
between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The nearly 200,000 Jews living in
Palestine accounted for only 19 percent of the population. If the enclaves were to grow into
an actual homeland and fulfill the promise of God, Abraham, and Balfour, the orange groves
would have to prosper. For that, more hands and more lands were needed.
But in 1933, Jewish prosperity in
Palestine was in danger of shutting down. In a tense world, the British were once again making
strategic plans for the Middle East. These plans were dependent upon the Arab potentates
England had been stringing along for a decade with conflicting promises of Arab nationalism in
Palestine. So Palestinian immigration regulations had been pointedly revised a few years
earlier. Severe quotas now applied to all Jewish immigrant categories, except the so-called
capitalist settler with proof of £1,000 (about $5,000) in hand.(13)
Few Palestine-bound Jews possessed
that much money. Most were poor European workers. Moreover, the "worker immigrant" quota
itself was limited by "absorptive capacity" or the ability of the Palestinian economy to expand
and provide new jobs. In this way existing Arab jobs theoretically would no longer be
threatened by new Jewish arrivals. The British didn't really expect the Palestinian economy to
grow, because quotas restricted immigration for all but the wealthier Jews, and the great
majority of wealthy Jews were uninterested in emigrating to Palestine. With little or no new
capital, the Jewish economy in Palestine would stagnate.
At the same time, the message to the
world was clear. What began as a private campaign of violence against Jews was now, under
Hitler, the unofficial policy of the day. Jews were murdered in their homes, daughters were
raped before parents' eyes, rabbis were humiliated in the street, prominent leaders were found
floating in the canals and rivers. As early as the first days after Hitler's surprise
appointment as interim chancellor, the message was indeed clear to those who would pay
attention: The Jews of Germany were facing an hourglass, and time was slipping away.
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11. Palestine Royal Commission,
Report of the Palestine Royal Commission (London: HMSO, 1937), 2-5; Esco Palestine Study
Committee, Palestine: A Study of Jewish, Arab and British Policies (New Haven: Yale, 1947),
I: 17-18, 54, 333, 338-40, 366-81; Esco, II: 686-90; "Israel," Encyclopaedia Judaica
(Jerusalem: Ketter, 1972) IX: 248.
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12. Yehuda Chorin, Citrus in
Israel (Tel Aviv: Israel Periodicals, 1966), 26-27; Sophie A. Udin, ed., The Palestine Year
Book 5706: Review of Events, July 1944 to July 1945, I (Washington, D.C.: ZOA, 1945), 209-10;
see "Minutes of Conversation on Jewish Labor in Offices of the Histadrut in T.A.," Jan. 4,
1933, BPM at AJA; Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
1972), 308, 315, 316.
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13. See Nicholas Bethell, The
Palestine Triangle: The Struggle for the Holy Land, 1935-48 (New York: Putnam, 1979), 24;
see "British Policy in Palestine, 1922," (Churchill White Paper), cited in Esco, I: 282-84;
Esco, I: 256, 315-18; Esco II: 645-48, 653-54; Great Britain Colonial Office, Palestine and
Trans-Jordan for the Year 1932 (London: HMSO, 1933), 24-27; see "Immigration to Palestine with
Reference to German Jewish Refugees," PRO-FO 371/16767-1527, pp. 58-60.
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©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black Used by permission.
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