Steve Rodan
Steve Rodan

To the professor — with love

To: Professor James R. Russell: adjunct professor of Iranian religions at the Daneshgah-e Adyan va Mazaheb, Qom.

From: Steve Rodan

Re: Comments on “In Jewish Blood: The Zionist Alliance With Germany, 1933-1963”

Dear Professor Russell,

Thank you for taking the time to read the Amazon excerpt of the book written by Elly Sinclair and myself. We tried to interest professors from British and U.S. universities in our book — to no avail. So, it was gratifying to know that an academic who works for a research institution in Qom, the seat of Shi’ism and spiritual well of the Iranian regime, invested the effort. I also was touched by your concern for my emotional health. I struggle with such issues as excessive weight, baldness and being unable to make a layup. But we could discuss this in a separate memo.

Like most American college graduates, I am semi-illiterate. So, there were some terms I did not quite understand in your post. First: What is a Zionist? I learn Torah in Eretz Yisrael and say three times a day “And our eyes shall see the return of Zion in mercy.” Do I qualify? Or, is a Zionist somebody who hates Jews, loves money and attends J Street’s annual convention just to shake Barack Obama’s hand?

The second word I had trouble with was “canard.” defined as a “false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor,” and which you used to describe our book.

Therefore, allow me professor, to present an excerpt from our book that has not yet come online. It is from Chapter 5: “The Privileged,”  Pages 140-142. As with the entire 722-page book, with more than 1,250 notes, this portion came from an oft-used source — in this case the Jewish Agency Executive protocols of Feb. 11, 1940. You can find it in the Central Zionist Archives the next time you visit Jerusalem. Here is the excerpt:

Leading Zionists provided critical aid to the Gestapo in the first days of the German occupation of Poland. Before the war, Apolinari Hartglass was one of the top Zionist organizers, focusing on the recruitment of young Hasidim in his native Biala. Eventually, he served in the Polish parliament and worked closely with Yitzhak Greenbaum. During the German invasion, Hartglass watched as Nazi soldiers and their officers looted, raped and killed the Jews of Warsaw. He was convinced that Berlin was intent on genocide – whether through starvation, slave labor or outright murder.

Hartglass as well as other Zionists joined the Judenrat, and he was summoned by the Gestapo within days of the German occupation. He was repeatedly ordered to Gestapo headquarters to report on the state of the Jewish community and particularly the Zionist movement. A key concern of the Gestapo was that the Haganah would lead a revolt in Poland. Gestapo officers cited a group called the “Jewish Legionnaires,” supposedly formed to fight Nazi persecution. Hartglass assured the Gestapo that there was no Haganah or any other Jewish self-defense group in Poland.

Moshe Kerner, a former member of the Polish Senate, was another leading Zionist in Warsaw and a member of the Judenrat. Kerner was regarded by Warsaw Judenrat chief Adam Czerniakow as a “righteous liar.” Like Hartglass, Kerner saw the Germans strangle the Jewish community while allowing some semblance of life for the gentiles. He and his colleagues on the Judenrat were alarmed by the German abduction of Jews for slave labor. Nobody was safe, including the Jewish leadership. Kerner and his colleagues offered to help the Gestapo. They would select 500 Jews per day for slave labor in exchange for a halt to the abductions. The Judenrat also requested a tiny salary for the laborers. The Gestapo agreed, but the abductions continued and the workers were not paid.

The Germans also wanted a complete picture of the Jewish community in Poland, particularly Warsaw. One of the demands by the Gestapo was for Kerner and his colleagues to conduct a census of Jews in the occupied Polish capital. The Nazis gave the Judenrat 10 days. To their amazement, the council completed the census in eight. The tally came to 364,000. The next order was for the Judenrat to identify Jewish professionals, or those who could help the Wehrmacht and the occupation authority. Kerner and his colleagues were suspicious but did not refuse.13

In February 1940, Hartglass and Kerner were already settled in Palestine. They were summoned to the Jewish Agency Executive to give a briefing. The two men had not escaped Poland, rather permitted by the Germans to leave at the request of the Zionist leadership in Jerusalem. Other Zionists on the Warsaw Judenrat were also granted Nazi permission but some sought to remain with the Jews in the ghetto.

The purpose of the Jewish Agency briefing was unclear. It was certainly not about informing the Executive of what was taking place in Poland. All the members knew of the dire situation of the Jews merely by reading reports of the Political Department. Greenbaum and others had been detailing the German persecution from the first days of the war. By the time Hartglass and Kerner arrived to the agency building, the Jews of Warsaw were being hunted by the Germans. They would use gentile youngsters to identify and kill the Jews. On March 28, the Poles launched a pogrom in coordination with the Nazis. Hartglass and Kerner would miss all this. They had reached Palestine nearly four months earlier. Their information was stale.

The only thing the Executive could learn was how Hartglass and Kerner had cooperated with the Gestapo in Warsaw. The two Zionists and their colleagues had provided the Reich with critical data that would be used in the Final Solution – an updated census, identifying Jewish labor, and the workings of the Jewish community and the Zionist movement. Most important, they convinced the as yet disorganized Germans that the Jews of Poland – who far outnumbered the invaders – would not revolt.

It turned out that the Germans had been right: there was a Haganah infrastructure in Poland, at least in Warsaw. Before the Nazi invasion, the militia had established a weapons workshop on Dzielna Street. The facility was set up by Zvi Kutsher to supply arms and ammunition to Palestine. The Haganah sent Yehuda Arazi to Poland to oversee the project, aided by Hillel Schwartz. Arazi, a captain in the British police, had been in Poland since 1935 and bought weapons from the Polish Army and smuggled them to Palestine. When the Germans invaded, he and his family fled their Warsaw apartment and returned to Palestine.

It was likely that Hartglass had told the Gestapo of Arazi’s escape and, with that, the end of the weapons factory in Warsaw. Armed with that knowledge, the Nazis prepared for their next step in the extermination of the Jews – the establishment of the ghettos. On Oct. 12, Hitler issued a decree for the administration of occupied Poland that included the establishment of the Judenrat.14

Nobody interrupted the briefing by Hartglass and Kerner. After their reports, not one Executive member asked why the Zionist leaders had worked with the Gestapo in facilitating the two key goals of the Final Solution — slave labor and genocide. Nobody asked whether they had sought or received permission for their cooperation.

When the two men were finished, they were dismissed from the room. For the record, Ben-Gurion was silent; Greenbaum said nothing. Nobody indicated that there had been anything wrong with collaborating with the Reich. Indeed, there is no record that anybody responded at all. But now every member of the Executive knew of the relationship between the Zionists and the Gestapo in Poland and soon in every other country occupied by Germany.

…      …       …

If you’re interested in more, perhaps I can get you a copy of the book from Amazon. The company must have some policy about discounts for academics. Don’t worry, I’ll be happy to vouch for you. No big deal, Jim. It’s just our way of saying thanks.

With Love of Zion,

Yankel

About the Author
Steve Rodan has been a journalist for some 40 years and worked for major media outlets in Israel, Europe and the United States. For 18 years, he directed Middle East Newsline, an online daily news service that focused on defense, security and energy. Along with Elly Sinclair, he has just released his first book: In Jewish Blood: The Zionist Alliance With Germany, 1933-1963 and available on Amazon.
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