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©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black.   Used by permission.
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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

The Transfer Agreement: The Pact Between the Third Reich & Jewish Palestine

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. RETURN TO TEXT

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. RETURN TO TEXT

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. RETURN TO TEXT

©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black   Used by permission.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be used in any form or by any means--graphic, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems--without the permission of the publisher.

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