Weizmann prevents Salvation
from Freispruch für Deutschland by Heinrich Härtle, 1965; translated by Hadding Scott, 2008.
While leading circles of German Jewry wanted to use this opportunity, the President of the World Jewish Congress, Chaim Weizmann, sitting in London, strongly opposed any Jewish emigration from Germany that did not have Palestine as its destination. The Jewish writer J.G. Burg reports in his book Schuld und Schicksal (Guilt and Destiny), uncontradicted and unrefuted since its publication (in 1962) three years ago, the following: the longtime advisor of the English General Allenby, Colonel Meinertzhagen1, an expert on Palestine, was in Berlin in 1934 with Hitler trying to obtain facilitations for Jewish emigration. Hitler declared his agreement that Jews should be able to emigrate with 1000 English pounds or goods worth 20,000 reichsmarks. When however Meinertzhagen informed Chaim Weizmann of this opportunity, Weizmann made impossible counterdemands: they should be able to take along all Jewish wealth. The Englishman traveled again to Berlin for a further discussion with Hitler, Ribbentrop, and Hess. Ribbentrop assured him that the Reich Government was ready to agree with every reasonable proposal for Jewish emigration, but could not negotiate with Weizmann or other Jews. He suggested that some government should function as a trustee for the Jews.
When Meinertzhagen reported this to Weizmann, the Zionist leader flew into a rage and responded:
"It would bother me little if cholera or Bolshevism2 came over Germany. As far as I am concerned both plagues can come over the Germans.... I would sooner see the demise of the German Jews than the demise of the State of Israel for the Jews."
Burg deduces from this that Weizmann only wanted to realize his Zionist concept, without regard for the fate of the German Jews.
How strong the will of the Reich Government was even at the end of 1938, after the disastrous Kristallnacht, to actualize not the extermination but the emigration of the Jews, is proven by the dispatch of an international authority such as the Reichsbank president Dr. Schacht to London. Schacht had presented to Hitler the proposal to start an international board of trustees for control of the seized Jewish assets, into which Jews should be accepted. As security for this capital an international loan in U.S. currency should be issued, equivalent to 1.5 billion marks. From this pool every Jewish emigrant would receive an amount which would make it possible to build a new life outside of Germany.
Hitler approved the plan and authorized Dr. Schacht to begin negotiations in London. Reichsbank President Dr. Schacht informed the Governor of the Bank of England, [Montagu] Norman, and the American, [George] Rublee, from the Evian Committee3. Both agreed with the plan. The Reichsbank President however ran into the decisive rejection of his proposal by Chaim Weizmann. Burg comments:
"With that, one of the greatest chances for the salvation of German Jewry was squandered, mainly because Chaim Weizmann did not approve."
The German Government did not allow itself to become discouraged through these failures and the negative reports from Evian. On 31 January 1939 Goering wrote to Ribbentrop that Jewish emigration from Germany should be encouraged with all means, and a Reich Center for Jewish Emigration should be created. The Foreign Office inquired in all diplomatic agencies abroad about what possibilities for immigration existed in each country. The wealth should be transferred through German government bonds.
Madam Professor Arendt confirms that even in the first years of the war "the Hitler Government was still willing to let Jews go." Only two years later, she says, in Fall 1941, was emigration forbidden.
If it was not possible to have the majority of the remaining Jews emigrate before the broadening of the European War into the Second World War, the primary blame goes, after Chaim Weizmann, to the English Government. In March 1939 that government had decided that only another 75,000 more Jews total would be allowed to immigrate to Palestine for the next five years.
Even [David] Ben-Gurion himself could not ignore this fateful decision. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot in April 1961, while the Eichmann Trial was still going on, he confirms that a heavy share of the guilt lies on the West4, since France, Great Britain, and the USA neglected to save Jews from annihilation. This applies especially to Britain, he said, since the governments of Chamberlain, Eden, and Churchill had been able to save Jews who were trying to escape to Palestine. (Palestine was at that time under the British Mandate administration, which however blocked immigration for Jewish refugees.)
Why were these harsh but humanly justifiable attempts to solve the Jewish Question through emigration suppressed at Nuremberg? And why, at least in the sentencing, were they calmly ignored? The harshness of those measures could not justify it: for these accusing and judging Powers at the same time not only tolerated but even demanded the expulsion, forced with the greatest brutality, of millions of Ostdeutscher.5
The efforts toward Jewish emigration, conducted without regard to the disadvantages for the national economy and monetary policy by a financial expert of the rank of Dr. Schacht, prove that in the pre-war period and in the first years of the war nobody seriously thought about the physical annihilation of German Jewry, or indeed of European Jewry. For the living witnesses of this evolving situation, the emigrations, which everybody could observe, were the incontrovertible confirmation that no murderous solution of the Jewish Question had been intended.
This is proven even more strongly however by the fact that the Reich Government with these emigration projects had taken upon itself an extremely dangerous political and public relations burden. For, every Jew who emigrated involuntarily, especially the strong of character among them, must become, from this moment on, an irreconcilable enemy of the Germans. With every Jew who emigrated, an enemy of the Reich entered those countries which prepared themselves more and more obviously for a clash of arms against the German superpower. If ever there was a fifth column6 against Germany, every Jewish emigrant surely strengthened it.
If one took such a risk upon oneself, it was proven that one wished to have Germany Jew-free at any price, but in no way was it proven that one had run wild with some crazy plan of extermination.
In a recently (1965) published historical inquiry by Juergen Rohwer over the sinking of the Jewish refugee-ships Struma and Mefkure in the Black Sea, it is proven that both Jew-ships had not been sunk by the German Navy as has been claimed until now.7
"After as before, Jews were able to leave the country from the Black Sea ports. Even more: the Supreme Commander of the Kriegsmarine, Grand Admiral Doenitz, even gave orders not to hinder the Jew-transports Bella Citta, Maritza, and Milka departing from Costanza (Romania) in March and April 1944, but to treat them as normal ships."8
The German Naval leadership instructed German U-boats to tow those three ships past the mine barrages. It was Soviet warships, on the other hand, that sunk the Struma and the Mefkure.
1. Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, General Allenby's "expert on Palestine," was himself at least partly of Jewish extraction.
2. European Jews at the time were viewed as carriers of disease as well as Bolshevism, which is probably why Weiszmann mentions cholera. He is referring to two of the Germans' reasons for wanting the Jews out.
3. The Evian Conference was an international conference convened 6-13 July 1938 in Evian, France to consider the question of how to deal with involuntary emigrants. The Evian Committee was set up at this conference. George Rublee, an important U.S. banker, was a member of the committee.
4. The author Härtle does not directly challenge the assumption that Jews were exterminated; rather he argues that it resulted because other efforts to solve the Jewish Problem were blocked. Therefore he argues for spreading the blame, and he conveniently finds Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion making that same argument quite logically, although from a different motive. It has been in the Jewish interest to spread Holocaust-guilt because this guilt becomes a source of power for Jews, which they use to the detriment of the rest of the world. The Allies' endorsement of the Jewish attribution of guilt to the Germans has had adverse effects on many countries other than Germany, not least among them, the UK and the USA, which have tended to support the State of Israel and its causes rather mindlessly. Some of the other guilt-driven follies, like anti-racism, have been even more destructive. It is German guilt as a premise that has to be rejected. Härtle goes as far in that direction as the evidence available in 1965 allowed; he points out the extreme bias of the IMT version of history in many respects, and alludes toward the end of this section that there might be something wrong with the claim of Jewish extermination per se.
5. Ostdeutscher here means Germans who had lived in the parts of Germany that were given to Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1945. Germans from communities that had existed for centuries all over eastern Europe were forced to flee into what was left of Germany. What was called East Germany in the postwar period used to be the center of Germany.
6. This is a strange use of the term fifth column. Fifth column usually means a sympathetic faction among one's enemies, but here it means a corrupting faction among people who should be friends. What both uses of the term denote is a minority faction with an interest in a conflict that runs counter to the interest of the society in which they live.
7. The Struma had actually reached Turkey, towed into port with a failed engine. But after nine weeks of negotiations with Britain about where the passengers should go and how they would get there, the Turks towed the ship and its passengers back out to sea and left them. Although registered in neutral Panama, the Struma was sunk by the Soviet submarine SC 213 on 24 February 1942, killing 768 people, with only one survivor. The Turkish ship Mefkure was sunk by the Soviet submarine SC 215 on 5 August 1944, killing 345 people.
8. At this point, using the argument that Härtle has applied repeatedly hitherto, which is the logical incompatibility of Jewish emigration and a plan of extermination, we now get a hint that very late in the war, as late as April 1944, there still was no plan of extermination. Otherwise the German Government would not still have been facilitating the departure of Jews from Europe at that time.