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Business and the Holocaust
Articles | Excerpts | Government Resources | Historical Media Reports | Media Reports | Organizations | Restitution | War Crimes Trials
©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black.   Used by permission.
Chapter One 1 |  2 |  3   Chapter Two 1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7   Chapter Three 1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7 |  8

The Transfer Agreement:
The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine
  by Edwin Black
Excerpts from Three Chapters

~ Chapter Two - 4 ~

The Ideological Struggle

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

March 19, 1933 was also the day that the swastika was unfurled over German consulates in Jerusalem and Jaffa. Germany maintained the two consulates in Palestine as part of its normal diplomatic relations with Great Britain. Angry Tel Aviv Jews prepared to storm the consulates and burn the new German flag. But Zionist leaders were afraid to provoke the Nazis, lest Berlin suddenly clamp down on Zionist organizing and fund-raising activities in Germany. In Jerusalem, Jewish Agency Executive Committee member Dr. Werner Senator dispatched a letter about the flag-raising to the Zionist Organization in London. Senator explained that Zionist leaders were working with the British Mandatory authorities to defuse the problem "to avoid hostile encounters, which would cause unpleasant repercussions for our people in Germany."(21)

In Berlin, the Hitler regime was clearly worried. Atrocity reports covered the front pages of newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. Der Forverts correspondent Jacob Leschinsky's report from Berlin was typical: "One can find no words to describe the fear and despair, the tragedy that envelops the German Jews. They are being beaten, terrorized, murdered and...compelled to keep quiet. The Hitler regime flames up with anger because it has been forced through fear of foreign public opinion to forego a mass slaughter.... It threatens, however, to execute big pogroms if Jews in other countries make too much fuss about the pogroms it has hitherto indulged in." The dispatch was carried by The New York Times and many other newspapers. Leschinsky, immediately after the dispatch, was arrested and expelled.(22)

Atrocity scandals were complicating almost every attempt at the German economic and diplomatic recovery Hitler desperately needed to stay in power. The Jews of New York would have to be stopped. Within a few days, the reconvened Reichstag was scheduled to approve sweeping dictatorial powers enabling Hitler to circumvent the legislature and rule by decree. But this talk of an international Jewish-led boycott was frightening Germany's legislators. Such a boycott could disable German export industries, affecting every German family. Goebbels expressed the Nazi fear in his diary: "The horrors propaganda abroad gives us much trouble. The many Jews who have left Germany have set all foreign countries against us.... We are defenselessly exposed to the attacks of our adversaries."(23) But as Nazi newspapers castigated German Jewry for the protests of their landsmen overseas, German Jews themselves responded with letters, transatlantic calls, and cables to stifle American Jewish objections to Hitler.

When the Congress' emergency protest planning conference convened on March 19 at New York's Astor Hotel, Committee representatives arrived with a prepared statement. It read: "It is only natural for decent and liberal-minded men and women to feel outraged at these occurrences and...to give public expression to their indignation and abhorrence, (but) the American Jewish Committee and the B'nai B'rith are convinced that the wisest and the most effective policy for the Jews of America to pursue is to exercise the same fine patience, fortitude and exemplary conduct that have already overwrought feelings, but to act wisely, judiciously and deliberately.(24)

These words of caution were emphatically rejected by the delegates who well knew that the Committee had become a megaphone-via friends and family relations-for Nazi pressure on the American anti-German protest movement. Bernard S. Deutsch, Congress president, set the meeting's defiant tone: "The offices of the American Jewish Congress are being flooded with messages from all over the country demanding protest... We are met here to translate this popular mandate into responsible, vigorous, orderly and effective action," Cries of approval bellowed from the crowd. The protest motion was formally introduced: "This tragic hour in Jewish history calls imperatively for the solidarity of the Jewish people. And we American Jews are resolved to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brother Jews in Germany in defense of their rights, which are being grievously violated, and of their lives, which are imperiled.(25)

The audience cheered. But from among the cheering delegates stood up J. George Fredman, commander in chief of the Jewish War Veterans, who proudly announced his organization had already-on its own initiative-commenced the national anti-Nazi boycott. He urged fellow Jewish organizations to join and formally called for a boycott amendment to the protest resolution.(26)

Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, the American Jewish Committee's representative at the rally, became livid. He stood up and insisted that marches and meetings were improper and unproductive. He advised quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy-as the Committee had always done. The crowd booed and hissed. Undaunted, Proskauer turned toward Fredman and condemned his boycott amendment as "causing more trouble for the Jews in Germany by unintelligent action." Over waving hands and hostile jeering, he insisted on placing into the record a message from another Committee stalwart, Judge Irving Lehman, the brother of the governor of New York. In a voice struggling to be heard, Proskauer read Lehman's letter: "I feel that the [Madison Square Garden protest] meeting may add to the dangers of the Jews in Germany.... I implore you in the name of humanity, don't let anger pass a resolution which will kill Jews in Germany." At this the crowd stormed their disapproval in English, Yiddish, and Russian. The hotel meeting room became so unruly that police had to be called to restore order. (27)

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NOTES

21. Letter, Werner Senator to Berl Locker, Mar. 19, 1933, CZA S49/381 (trans. GZ/EF). RETURN TO TEXT

22. Moshe Gottlieb, "The Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement in the American Jewish Community 1933-1942," (unpub. Ph.D. diss., Near Eastern and Judaic studies, Brandeis, 1967), 20. RETURN TO TEXT

23. Goebbels, 236-37; "Reich is Worried Over Our Reaction," NYT, Mar. 23, 1933; also see "Herr Hitler's Nazis Hear an Echo of World Opinion, NYT, Mar. 26, 1933. RETURN TO TEXT

24. Statement, AJC, in Gottlieb, "Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement," (dissertation), 46. RETURN TO TEXT

25. "Nazi Foes Here Calmed by Police," NYT, Mar. 20, 1933. RETURN TO TEXT

26. Ibid.; "Conference Called by the Jewish Congress" JDB, Mar. 21, 1933; "American Jewry Protests," JC, Mar. 24, 1933. RETURN TO TEXT

27. "Nazi Foes Here Calmed by Police," NYT, Mar. 20, 1933; "Conference Called," JDB, Mar. 21, 1933; "American Jewry Protest," JC, Mar 24, 1933 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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