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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 Three - 3 ~

The Weapon Hitler Feared

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

Shortly after the July 1932 election, the economy improved somewhat, due more to psychological than true financial factors. A bumper wheat and potato harvest made Germany temporarily independent of imported grain and starch related foodstuffs. Public make-work gave short-term relief to the most severely hardshipped in big cities. More than 74,000 gardens and 26,000 settlement houses were erected to help feed and shelter the jobless in small towns. Seasonal unemployment came a bit later and less severely that autumn than in previous years. Total acknowledged unemployment was under these circumstances down to just more than 5 million. In certain segments of German society, confidence began to take hold.(11)

As the bankrupt Nazis approached the November 1932 contest, they were unable to pay for a last-minute voter drive. In the aura of stability and with reduced Nazi campaigning, the electorate backed away from the radical program of National socialism, casting 2 million fewer votes for the NSDAP. But after the November election, with the Nazis nevertheless assured of a leading role in the government, the brief improvement in the economy vanished.(12) The moderate moment had been lost.

Commercial recovery was Adolf Hitler's prime mission when he came to power in January 1933. But Hitler and his circle's conception of their problem and the twisted explanations they ascribed to real and perceived trends became the new determining economic factors. The greatest obstacles to recovery now were, in fact, political instability and bizarre economic policies, including import restrictions that provoked retaliatory bans on German exports.

Economic policies and the worldwide economic depression combined to deprive Germany of her place among the world's trading nations. Without exports, Germany was denied foreign currency-the essential ingredient to her survival. Without foreign exchange, she could not pay for the imported raw materials she needed to continue manufacturing nor for imported foodstuffs to compensate for recurring shortages. Worse, Germany couldn't even borrow money to pay for raw materials and food because without foreign exchange to pay her war reparations and other foreign obligations, her credit was once again unreliable.(13)

In late 1932, the president of the Reichsbank warned the cabinet that further deterioration in foreign exchange would force Germany into another fiscal default. What's more, if there was a sudden run on Germany's banks, it would trigger another total crash of the economy.(14)

But when Hitler and his circle saw Germany deadlocked in depression, they did not blame the world depression and the failures of German economic policy. They blamed Bolshevik, Communist, and Marxist conspiracies, all entangled somehow in the awesome imaginary international Jewish conspiracy. The Jews were not just a handy scapegoat. The paranoid Nazis believed in the legendary, almost supernatural economic power of the Jews. When they promulgated the motto "The Jews are our bad luck," they meant it.(15)

Complicating the Reich's response to economic developments was Hitler's impatience for economic details. A British embassy report compiled in early 1933 explained: "Hitler is a pure visionary who probably does not understand the practical problems he is up against." In fact, Hitler saw only the superficial aspects of any economic problem. He was well known for exhorting his followers: "If economic experts say this or that is impossible, then to hell with economics....if our will is strong enough we can do anything!"(16) Therefore, when problems persisted, the Nazi response was to scream "conspiracy" and make snap decisions to plug holes rather than rebuild the dike.

In the Nazi mind, the Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott would reduce exports and foreign currency below the viable threshold. By Nazi thinking, a second prong of the Jewish offensive would be publicizing German atrocities to undermine confidence in the new regime and turn the non-Jewish world against Germany. In this instance, Nazi fears approximated the reality. As an overindustrialized nation dependent upon exports, Germany was especially prone to boycott. Therefore, as the American Jewish War Veterans escalated their ant-Reich agitation in late March 1933, a primary order of Nazi business would now be to end the atrocity claims and stop the boycott.(17)

Nazi preoccupation with the anti-German boycott was not merely fear of Jewish power. The Nazis dogmatically believed in the power of boycotts in general. Boycott had long been a prime tactic of the German anti-Semitic movement. When in 1873 an economic depression followed a stock market fall, the German Conservative party falsely blamed Jewish speculators and organized anti-Semitic campaigns, including boycotts. A few year later, the Catholic party joined the movement, coining the motto "Don't buy from Jews." By 1880, Berlin women's organizations had formed housewife boycott committees.(18)

During the years prior to 1933, Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, and other Nazi leaders regularly struggled to attract public support by advocating the anti-Jewish boycott. Brownshirt pickets around a store with signs reading DON'T BUY FROM JEWS served to remind Germans of the Jew's secure economic status and warn Jews of what was in store should National Socialism come to power. The Nazis were convinced that an official countrywide boycott would totally destroy the commercial viability of the Jews in Germany.(19)

But during the first years of the Nazi party, German anti-Semites also became painfully aware of the Jewish power of boycott and backlash. The lesson came in a confrontation waged not in Germany but in the United States, pitting the Jewish community against the American anti-Semite most revered by the Nazis: Henry Ford.

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NOTES

11. Report, F. Thelwell, "The Economic Situation in Germany, February, 1933," PRO-FO 317/16694-1527. RETURN TO TEXT

12. Ibid.; Shirer, 240-41. RETURN TO TEXT

13. Thelwell, "Economic Situation," PRO-FO 317/16694-1527. RETURN TO TEXT

14. Ibid., 7-8 RETURN TO TEXT

15. Dawidowicz, 24-28, 47, 68-69; see George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: The Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich ("The Universal Library"; New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1971), 242-43; see Shirer, 586. RETURN TO TEXT

16. Thelwell, "Economic Situation," PRO-FO 371/16694-1527; Pool and Pool, 246; see Shirer 357. RETURN TO TEXT

17. See Dawidowicz, 68-71; see "Reich is Worried Over Our Reaction," NYT, Mar. 23, 1933; see Goebbels, 236-39. RETURN TO TEXT

18. Dawidowicz, 43; Moshe Gottlieb, "The Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement in the American Jewish Community, 1933-1941" (unpub. Ph.D. diss., Near Eastern and Judaic studies, Brandeis, 1967), 13-14; see Marvin Lowenthal, The Jews of Germany: A Story of Sixteen Centuries (New York: Longmans, Green, 1936), 277. RETURN TO TEXT

19. See Levin, 43-44, 72-73; Lowenthal 369-71; see Stephen Wise, Challenging Years: The Autobiography of Stephen Wise (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1949), 247; see Sidney Bolkosky, The Distorted Image; German Jewish Perceptions of Germans and Germany, 1918-1935 (New York: Elsevier, 1975), 169-70. 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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