Hitler and Zionism: For once Ken Livingston is telling some truth, so what’s the fuss?

Not infrequently, the British manage to cloak nefarious hypocrisy in a seemingly righteous cowl. The recent decision to suspend (red) Ken Livingston from the Labour Party is one of those deliciously British ironies that ranks with the Royal Family’s pretense of English, rather than Hanovarian descent.

Having espoused obscene anti-Semitic calumnies for decades, Ken is suddenly ostracized from his own Jew-hating leftist party for having the temerity to claim that Hitler was supportive of German Jewish emigration to Palestine. He has since doubled down on his calumny by claiming that because the Jewish Agency struck an accord with the Nazi party in its attempt to rescue Germany’s Jews, they are “two sides of the same coin.”

The problem is, Red Ken is actually telling at least a partial truth for once in his life. It’s well established that the Jewish Agency, the German Zionist Organization and the Third Reich agreed upon a formula by which German Jews could leave the land to which they had long been loyal (after depositing the bulk of their assets with the Nazi party of course) and embark for the only true homeland we have ever had. The Jewish Agency had no power to avert the genocidal madness that was to be part of Germany’s future, but it did have the potential to save those German Jews who were willing to recognize their peril, had not Britain foiled the plan. It’s England’s role in the matter that may be Livingston’s undoing.

Although Hitler was obviously a vile Jew-hater and despite the fact that Mein Kampf expresses negative views on the potential power of a Jewish state, the Nazis adopted the view in the early 1930’s that robbing and expelling Germany’s Jews would be a cost-effective solution to their “Jewish problem.” Gas Chambers and ovens cost money, whereas voluntary deportation and asset confiscation is a net economic positive for a young, fascist party seeking to rebuild the ruined Weimar economy.

The 1933 Haavara (transfer) agreement, between the Nazi party and the Jewish Agency, created a mechanism by which each Jew bound for Palestine paid a stiff exit fee and deposited the little money that was not confiscated in a special account in Germany. It’s not that the Jewish Agency suddenly mistook Hitler for a philo-semite.  Rather, no other country was particularly interested in absorbing Jews, though many saw the handwriting on the wall in Germany.  Since the Nazi regime did not allow currency to leave Germany and since the Reichmark was not worth much outside of Germany, the money was used to purchase German-made agricultural tools, building materials, pumps, fertilizer, etc, which were exported to Palestine and sold there by the Jewish-owned Haavara company in Tel-Aviv. Money from the sales was given to the Jewish emigrant upon his arrival in Palestine. Faced with no good alternatives and no support from other nations against Nazi antisemitism, the Jewish Agency did what it could to rescue Germany’s Jews..

The SS was briefly enthusiastic in its support for Zionism. An internal June 1934 SS position paper urged active and wide-ranging support for Zionism by the government and the Party as the best way to encourage emigration of Germany’s Jews to Palestine. This would require increased Jewish self-awareness. Jewish schools, Jewish sports leagues, Jewish cultural organizations. This fit quite nicely with the ostracism of Jews from mainstream German society.

An SS officer, Leopold von Mildenstein toured Palestine to assess Zionist development there. Based on his firsthand observations, von Mildenstein wrote a series of twelve illustrated articles for the important Berlin daily Der Angriff that appeared in late 1934 under the heading “A Nazi Travels to Palestine.” The series expressed great admiration for the pioneering spirit and achievements of the Jewish settlers. Zionist self-development, von Mildenstein wrote, had produced a new kind of Jew. He praised Zionism as a great benefit for both the Jewish people and the entire world. Der Angriff issued a special medal, with a Swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other, to commemorate the joint SS-Zionist visit. A few months after the articles appeared, von Mildenstein was promoted to head the Jewish affairs department of the SS security service.

The official SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, proclaimed its support for Zionism in a May 1935 front-page editorial: “The time may not be too far off when Palestine will again be able to receive its sons who have been lost to it for more than a thousand years. Our good wishes, together with official goodwill, go with them.”  In one of history’s great ironies, German ships flying the Nazi flag transported thousands of German Jews to Palestine.

Given the historical facts, which are neither controversial or obscure, why then is Red Ken being tarred and feathered by a Labour Party that likes neither Jews nor Israel?  The answer may be a classic case of misdirection.  It was the British, not the Germans who put an end to German Jewish emigration to Palestine!  The prospect of wholesale immigration of Jews was the causus-belli of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt, supported ever so carefully by the British Mandatory Government.  The door slammed indelibly shut with Neville Chamberlain’s 1939 White Paper, attempting to undo the Balfour Declaration.   At a time when first-degree relatives of the British royal family were prancing around in Nazi uniforms and the Prince of Wales was sharing a girlfriend with Ribbentrop, not only did the British slam the door to rescuing Germany’s Jews via Israel, they shut the door to Britain as well (not that Roosevelt behaved much better).  In fact, one of the few nations that welcomed Jews with open arms was China – giving birth to the Shanghai community.

Livingston must be scratching his head something fierce.  His antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and, wholesale disregard for the truth have fueled his rise in British politics for decades.  Now, the one time he actually speaks some modicum of truth, his whole party turns against him – not because of what he said but rather because his statement will inevitably lead to the exposure to England’s complicity in the extermination of German Jewry.  As an anonymous wit famously said, “the only reason the sun never sets on the British Empire is that God doesn’t trust the English in the dark.”

About the Author
The author is a physician, policy expert, and thought leader in healthcare transformation and digital health. He has served as Professor of Medicine and Public Policy at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities and been commissioned by US Presidents Clinton and Bush to serve in several roles within the Executive Office of the President focused on health policy and national security. In September 2014 he and his family made Aliyah to Zichron Yaacov.
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