Why Zionists made deal with the Nazis
By EDWIN BLACK
Published: Thursday, November 5, 2009 5:20 PM EST
This article is excerpted with the author’s permission from an one that appeared in the Sept. 28 Jerusalem Post. Visit http://tinyurl.com/ykm9yd2 for the full article or www.transferagreement.com for more details.
On the afternoon of Aug. 7, 1933, at 76 Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin, on a day when well-dressed Jews in Germany could not step into the street without fear, when laboring kibbutzniks in Palestine proudly swept the midday perspiration from their foreheads, when anxious German businessmen worried the next telegram would cancel yet another order for increasingly unsellable Reich goods, when Nazi organizers throughout Europe gleefully reviewed statistics on Jewish populations and Jewish assets within their midst, when Polish blackshirts viciously beat Jews in town squares, when Jewish Palestinian exporters wondered nervously whether their biggest customer Germany would retaliate, when the prospects for Jewry in Europe seemed over, on this fateful day in the first summer of the Hitler regime, an official delegation of four German and Palestinian Zionists and one independent Palestinian business man were ushered into an Economics Ministry conference room. The Jews had been authorized by a combine of Jewish and Zionist bodies to negotiate with the Third Reich.
After hours of wrangled debate, Hans Hartenstein, director of the Reich Office of Currency Control, was about to call the meeting to an inconclusive close when a messenger from Deutsche Reichpost delivered a telegram from the German Consul in Tel Aviv. The telegram advised Hartenstein that a coalition of official and commercial Zionist interests in Palestine was the best way to break the growing Jewish-led worldwide anti-Nazi boycott that was crippling the Hitler regime in its first months. A deal with the Zionists would be necessary.
And so it was done. The Transfer Agreement was created.
There was no hard copy contract with names penned at the bottom. The agreement was actually an official Reich decree, 54/33, issued three days later, on August 10 by the Reich Economics Ministry. The decree authorized the Zionists to create two transfer clearinghouses, one under the supervision of the German Zionist Federation in Berlin, one under the supervision of Anglo-Palestine's trust company in Palestine. The office in Tel Aviv was called Haavara Trust and Transfer Office Ltd. Often called Haavara Ltd. for short, this corporation was organized under the Palestinian commercial code and operated by business managers. Its stock was wholly owned by the Anglo-Palestine Bank, which was renamed Bank Leumi.
Haavara, the Hebrew word for transfer, quickly became a synonym for transfer.
The bargain was this: Jews could leave Germany before being pauperized, and take some of their assets with them in the form of new German goods which the Zionist movement would then sell in Palestine and eventually throughout much of the world market. The proceeds would be given to the emigrants, with a portion reserved for statebuilding projects such as industrial infrastructure and land purchase.
Jews could not enter Palestine without a so-called “Capitalist Certificate” issued by the British proving they possessed the equivalent of $5,000. Transfer made this possible. Addressing more than just active emigrants, the Transfer Agreement allowed “potential emigrants” to protect their assets in these special bank accounts which again could not be accessed without purchasing and reselling German goods. Between the active and potential emigration accounts, the Transfer apparatus meant millions of reichsmarks—to both the Germans and Zionists.
The more goods the Germans sold, the more Jews would be permitted out of Germany and into Palestine, and the more money would be available to build the Jewish State. The price of this commerce-linked exodus would be the abandonment of the commercial war against Nazi Germany. It did not matter whether the anti-Nazi boycott could have succeeded in real terms. Boycott effectiveness is not measured in dollars and pfennigs but in ergs of fear. The Germans feared the mythical international Jewish conspiracy of global economic manipulation more than any other.
For almost three decades, the Transfer Agreement and the anguished details surrounding it were forgotten. Finally, in 1984, when the full story became known with the original publication of The Transfer Agreement, the book launched a fiery debate, a debate few were prepared to comprehend.