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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 Three - 7 ~

The Weapon Hitler Feared

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

The anti Ford boycott was but a commercial skirmish compared to the international financial war waged against Russian Czar Nicholas II by Jewish banker Jacob Schiff and the American Jewish Committee. The war began when Jews were blamed for Russia's social and economic chaos in the 1880s. The classic scapegoat scenario developed. Quotas for Jews were decreed in academia and commerce. Jews were physically restricted to the smallest hamlets. Bloody pogroms followed as mounted Cossacks swept through the hamlets pillaging and ravaging defenseless Jews.(41)

Although America's German Jews detested the unkempt Russian Jews, they were nevertheless infuriated by the barbarism of the czar's persecution. Among the Hofjuden who considered themselves the custodians of Jewish defense, Jacob Schiff stood out as a central figure. A major factor in international finance, Schiff's greatest weapon was money: giving it, denying it. After the notorious Kishinev pogrom of Passover 1903, Schiff decided to personally lead a crusade to force Czar Nicholas to abandon his anti-Semitic campaign.(42)

Schiff used his influence with friends and family in Europe to commit major Jewish and even non-Jewish financial houses to a banking boycott of Russia.(43) And before long, Russia's loan requests were in fact systematically denied in most French, English, and U.S. money markets. In 1904, after war broke out between Russia and Japan, Schiff lobbied tirelessly among commercial adversaries and cohorts alike to grant high-risk war loans to the Japanese. About $100 million, suddenly infused, quickly armed the under equipped Japanese, allowing them to score a series of humiliating victories. (44) Schiff's loans were officially recognized as the pivotal factor in Japan's victory, and the Jewish leader was commemorated in Japanese newspapers and history books as a new national hero.(45)

The banking boycott and the financing of Japan's victory were only the first rounds. In 1906, Schiff and other influential Hofjuden formed the American Jewish Committee. Their first major objective was abrogation of the Russo-American commercial treaty, the legal basis of all friendly relations with Russia. The Committee asserted that the czar's denial of Russian visas to Jewish American citizens was an affront not just to America's Jewish citizens but to the United States itself.(46)

Although William Taft had issued a presidential campaign promise of abrogation, he refused to honor his pledge once elected. During a February 1911 White House luncheon for Committee leaders, when Taft rendered his final refusal to abrogate, Schiff warned, "We had hoped you would see that justice be done us. You have decided otherwise. We shall now go to the American people." Schiff then stalked from the room, refusing to even shake the president's hand. On the way out, Schiff whispered to fellow Committee leaders, "This means war!"(47)

Calling upon all friends and resources, the Committee began a widespread public appeal to have Congress force the president to end commercial relations with Russia. Within weeks, House and Senate abrogation resolutions-each personally approved by the Committee-were prepared. On December 13, 1911, after the House voted 300 to 1 to abrogate, Taft capitulated, and two days later issued instructions to terminate the treaty.(48)

Despite abrogation, the czar would not yield. Massacres continued, and the Jewish death toll rose. So the banking boycott was tightened. Its effects became most destructive, however, during World War I, when the czar needed multimillion-dollar military loans. Committee members were widely criticized for the stubborn continuation of their boycott even as it threatened the Allied war effort. But the boycott remained in effect until the monarchy was toppled in 1917.(49)

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41. Salo W. Baron, The Russian Jew under Tsars and Soviets (New York: Macmillan 1976), 44-49. RETURN TO TEXT

42. Eric Hirshler, "Jews from Germany in the United States," in Eric Hirshler, ed., Jews from Germany in the United States (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1955), 62-64, 75-76; see Cyrus Adler, Jacob H. Schiff: His Life and Letters (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1929), I: 42-154, and II: 117-38, 296-97; see Hirshler, "Jews from German" in Hirshler, pp. 96-98; 72-76; Moses Rischin, The Promised City: New York's Jews 1870-1914 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1977), 95-98. RETURN TO TEXT

43. Adler, Schiff, II, pp. 120-138. RETURN TO TEXT

44. Marvin Tokayer and Mary Swartz, The Fugu Plan: The Untold Story of the Japanese and the Jews During World War II (New York: Paddington, 1979), 46; Memorandum, Takahashi, in Adler, Schiff, I: 215-26; Stephen Birmingham, "Our Crowd." The Great Jewish Families of New York (New York: Dell, 1967), 335. RETURN TO TEXT

45. Tokayer and Swartz, 46; memorandum, Takahashi, in Adler, Schiff, I: 216,228. RETURN TO TEXT

46. Nathan Schachner, The Price of Liberty: A History of the American Jewish Committee (New York: AJC, 1948), 7-8, 37-42; Adler, Schiff, II: 160-61. RETURN TO TEXT

47. Naomi W. Cohen, "The Abrogation of the Russo-American Treaty of 1832," Jewish Social Studies, XXV (Jan. 1963): 21; Rosenstock, p.75; Adler, Schiff, II, pp. 150-151. RETURN TO TEXT

48. Cohen, "Abrogation," 22-28, 35; Cyrus Adler and Aaron M. Argalith, With Firmness in the Right; American Diplomatic Action Affecting Jews, 1840-1945 (N.Y.: AJC, 1946), 285-280. RETURN TO TEXT

49. Cohen, Not Free, 89-90. 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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