Friday, May 04, 2007

A coin with two sides

AT the end of 1979 a row broke out in Britain over the fairly innocent and respectable magazine History Today, which links professional historians who write most of its copy to teachers, students, and the interested general reader. There were complaints to the publishers, letters to newspapers, even attempts to remove the magazine from some newsagents' shelves.

Such publicity must have been a bit of a shock to the magazine's editors and writers, though it can't have harmed circulation figures, I imagine. I even invested 60p in a copy of the January 1980 issue myself. (Nowadays I think the magazine costs over £3.00).

What caused the furore was an article entitled "A Nazi travels to Palestine", by Jacob Boas. Or rather, it was the publicity for the article, because people started kicking up a fuss before they could even have read what Boas had to say in it.

Boas's article described how Baron Leopold Itz von Mildenstein, a member of the Nazi party and of Hitler's SS, set out in the Spring of 1933, accompanied by his wife and Kurt Tuchler, an official of the Zionist Federation of Germany, also with his wife, on a journey to Palestine.

Hitler had just become Chancellor, and begun his anti-Jewish policies. Julius Streicher wanted to drive the Jews out of Germany. But the Nazis were not clear about how they intended to set about this without disrupting the already Depression-beset German economy, and nor did they know what the effects might be on Germany's relations with the rest of the world.

The Zionists, for their part, were enjoying an upsurge of support among German Jews after Hitler took office in January 1933. Most had seen little point before in leaving a country where they were well-established to take their chances in poor and troubled Palestine. They saw themselves as good Germans whose future, like so much of their past, was in the Fatherland. But now Hitler was telling them otherwise.

The Juedische Rundschaue, fortnightly paper of the Zionist Federation, saw its circulation climb from less than 10,000 to almost 38,500 by the end of 1933. It declared that only those whose commitment to the Jewish people was beyond reproach could defend Jewish rights. It also said that only the Zionists were capable of approaching the Nazis in good faith as "honest partners".

The Zionists proposed that the status of German Jews be regulated on a group basis, and asked for government help towards emigration. Von Mildenstein, approached to write something favourable about Zionism and its project in Palestine, agreed on condition that he could make a visit, accompanied by Kurt Tuchler. He was favourably impressed, and saw advantages for Germany, as well as for the SS as proposers of a policy.

A series of article entitled "Ein Nazi faehrt nach Palestina" began in September 1934 in Der Angriff , Goebbels' newspaper. It ran for twelve parts. Von Mildenstein saw in the Jewish settlement on the land a form of rebirth fitting Nazi notions about blood and soil, as well as a way of ridding Germany of Jews. But life was difficult in Palestine, and problems were looming, in Palestinian Arab resistance to Zionist colonisation and British rule.

Though the SS gave privileges to Zionists over other Jewish groups, assisting their youth movements, and giving them the right to wear uniform and fly the blue and white flag, Von Mildenstein's own star faded amid rivalries and policy failures, while a man he had brought into the Jewish department came to the fore, one Adolf Eichmann.

Himself a survivor, born in Westerbork concentration camp, Boas is a noted Holocaust historian and educator, who did not go out of his way to sensationalise this episode or demonise those taking part. He did not go on to consider later responsibilities, the role of the Evian conference, or Jewish Agency agreements, or whether more Jews could have been rescued if they could have gone elsewhere. His part of the story ends there, in 1936.

But while Von Mildenstein was influencing policy, Der Angriff had a medal struck to commemorate his voyage to Palestine, a medal with the Nazi swastka on one side and the Star of David on the other. History Today used this motif in publicity for its January 1980 issue with Jacob Boas article.

This brought howls of outrage from Zionist student spokespersons and others convinced it was their duty to protect Zionism from any suggestion that its leaders ever collaborated with Nazis, and to denounce History Today's supposed motives as well as an article they had not yet read. For some this subject remains taboo, even when broached by an objective and even fairly sympathetic historian, as Boas was.

When Lenni Brenner, author of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, came to
speak in Britain a few years after this row, all hell broke out, as I can testify, having been on the receiving end of a few punches when I tried to stop some Zionist yobbos breaking up a meeting and throwing furniture around. Whether or not one likes Brenner, or agrees with his approach, his opponents were unable to debate the facts in his books, and had to persuade themselves they were tackling something else.

Now I am grateful to Lenni Brenner for sending a picture of a solid reminder of the past. He writes that John Sigler, an anti-Zionist Jew, has found one of Goebbels' medals, struck to commemorate Von Mildenstein's trip.
" John bought his medal from a respected coin dealer. It's about 1.5" in diameter and was originally in bronze. It is thicker than a coin. The photo is of a silvered bronze. (Silvered medals are common.).

"The Star of David side inscription reads: EIN NAZI FÄHRT NACH PALÄSTINA -- A Nazi Travels to Palestine. The Swastika side inscription is UND ERZÄHLT DAVON IM Angriff -- And tells about it in the Angriff".

Nazis and Zionists were not evenly matched in the nightmare of the 1930s and nor were their motives equally evil. But today's Holocaust revisionism and denial, whether from neo-Nazis or their dupes, has as the other side of its coin, or medal, the way the Zionist propaganda machine has sought to monopolise and distort this piece of history for its own ends, leaving out and denying whatever does not fit its myth. History must be rescued from both sets of foes.

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8 Comments:

At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spectator-Hell-Extraordinary-Imprisonment-Auschwitz/dp/1840241438

READ

Spectator in Hell: A British Soldier's Extraordinary Story of Imprisonment in Auschwitz (Paperback)
by Colin Rushton (Author)

# Paperback: 192 pages
# Publisher: Summersdale Publishers; New Ed edition (25 Jan 2001)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 1840241438
# ISBN-13: 978-1840241433

 
At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

History must be rescued from ... those who write who use the word 'evil' when writing about history.

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger Charlie Pottins said...

I haven't seen this book by Colin Rushton yet, but it sounds as though it would be welcome. Expect it may be similar to "Stoker" by Donald Watt, an Aussie soldier who was in Auschwitz-Birkenau and worked in the crematoria. That's a very good read, simply and modestly told, and with some thoughts and reflections.
I seem to remember once reading a magazine article, possibly it was in RAF Flying Review, about British prisoners in Buchenwald, which was also the camp where they sent a lot of French resisters, I think.
Concerning use of the word "evil", I don't use it as an explanation in history, but in this context I was delineating degerees of responsibility and differences in motivation. The Nazis were intent on getting rid of Jews (though had there been no Jews the Nazi regime would have needed another internal "enemy"). They had smashed the divided German labour movement and already begun putting opponents in camps. The Zionist novement was as yet without a state, and sought to make what it could of the menacing situation by offering to help rid Germany of its Jews, and hoping to bring them and their capital, as far as possible, to Palestine. They tried the same deal with the Polish colonels. To read more you could start with Brenner (Zionism in the Afe of the Dictators) if you have not done already.
Incidentally, since posting this article, visits to this blog have soared. That's fine, if people are really after truth, but judging from some comments, not accepted because either they are Holocaust deniers and pro-Nazi or simply irrelevant to the topic (e.g. someone trying to explain US imperialism in the Middle East by Zionist influence. (Why in this context, and not responding to my articles on the Middle East?) Some are seeking some kind of absolution from crimes with which they identifywith the perpetrators.
I am happy to dethrone Zionism from its high horse but not interested in pretending it's "all the same" or on a level with Nazism. It was the wrong response, but it was not responsible for the problem. I am not going to concede anything to antisemites or give them any platform.
To get back to "good" and "evil", like I say they are not explanations, but they are valid categories. Don't expect a "value-free" history, it is about human beings and therrfore we cannot be detached observers, because whether we like it or not we are all participants. Especially when we are considering a historic period of which the people, movements and consequences are still with us. Nazism and racism are still around, in whatever form, people are still being massacred because of their "race", or religious background, or because they are in the wrong place. You cannot be neutral between murderers and vctims, oppressor and oppressed, and I am not.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger william said...

In October of 2002 I wrote an article for The Voice News entitled "Palestine, Immigration and Ha'avara" dealt with the subject of Zionist collaboration with the Nazi SS and with United States. The article extracted considerable information from sites on the web without appropriate attribution that might have been necessary for a scholarly journal but which I considered necessary for the limitations of space placed on such newspaper contributions.

I always wondered where it would be possible to obtain a photo of the medal and a copy of the twelve favorable articles written by the Nazi that visited Palestine. Your posting fills in the blanks.

Here is a copy of my article.

Palestine, Immigration and Ha’avara
By William C. Carlotti, Vermont

Marvin Peyser maintains that one of the benefits of supporting Israel comes from the fact that "the bulk of the $3 billion (a year) in military aid (to Israel) is spent right here in the U.S." in support of the "American defense industry," which, according to Mr. Peyser, is a "vital part of our economy." [Supporting Israel Is in America’s Best Interest, June 21] Actually, the aid requirement is that it be spent with the American manufacturers of armaments, bombs, bullets, guns, weapons, planes, and other killing devices (including the design and development of the special tanks that are notorious for their intrusions into Palestine communities).

European (mostly German) Jews made a similar arrangement with Hitler’s Nazi German government some seven months or so after Hitler came to power in 1933. The arrangement became known as Ha’avara (the Transfer Agreement). Nazi Germany and the Jewish Agency concluded the transfer negotiations, allowing Jews emigrating from Germany to Palestine to deposit their assets in Germany and receive Palestine pounds upon their arrival in Palestine. The Zionist Federation of Germany, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and the German economic authorities signed the Agreement on August 25, 1933, permitting the transfer of Jewish capital from Germany to Palestine by immigrants or investors.

Through this unusual arrangement, those Jews bound for Palestine deposited money in a special account in Germany. The money was used to purchase German-made agricultural tools, building materials, pumps, fertilizer, motor transport, and other goods of all kinds and descriptions, which were exported to Palestine and sold there by the Jewish-owned Ha’avara company in Tel-Aviv. Money from the sales was given to the emigrants upon their arrival in Palestine in an amount corresponding to their deposits in German banks.

German goods poured into Palestine through the Ha’avara, which was supplemented a short time later with a barter agreement by which Palestine’s oranges and agricultural products were exchanged for German timber, automobiles, agricultural machinery, and other goods. The Agreement enabled German Jews to meet the requirements of the British certificate of immigration and served the Zionist aim of bringing Jewish settlers and development capital to Palestine, while it simultaneously served the German economy with an increase in the production and export of German goods to offset its economic depression. For a time, the Ha'avara Agreement helped the Nazis in undermining the anti-Nazi boycott initiated by the American Jewish Congress only weeks before the agreement was signed.

The negotiations for the agreement were initiated six months after Hitler came to power by the Zionist Federation of Germany (by far the largest Zionist group in the country), which submitted a detailed memorandum to the new government. The memorandum reviewed German-Jewish relations and formally offered Zionist support in "solving" the vexing "Jewish question." The first step, it suggested, had to be a frank recognition of fundamental national differences:

"Zionism believes that the rebirth of the national life of a people, which is now occurring in Germany through the emphasis on its Christian and national character, must also come about in the Jewish national group. For the Jewish people, too, national origin, religion, common destiny and a sense of its uniqueness must be of decisive importance in the shaping of its existence … because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group and reject any trespasses in the cultural domain, we—having been brought up in the German language and German culture—can show an interest in the works and values of German culture with admiration and internal sympathy …"

As a result, the Hitler government vigorously supported Zionism’s proposal for Jewish emigration to Palestine from 1933 until 1940-41. So thorough was the collaboration that the SS became particularly enthusiastic in its support for Zionism’s transfer agreement. SS officer Leopold von Mildenstein and Zionist Federation official Kurt Tuchler and their wives toured Palestine together for six months 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," praising the success of the transfer agreement. The publishers of 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 in order to support Zionist migration and development more effectively.

Between 1933 and 1941, some 60,000 of Germany’s wealthiest, best-educated Jews (or about 10% of Germany's 1933 Jewish population) emigrated to Palestine through the Ha'avara and other German-Zionist arrangements. (These German Jews made up about 15% of Palestine's 1939 Jewish population.) The total amount transferred from Germany to Palestine through the Ha'avara between August 1933 and the end of 1939 was 8.1 million pounds or 139.57 million German marks (then equivalent to more than $40 million, but the equivalent of $516 million in 2002 dollars). This amount included 33.9 million German marks ($13.8 million) provided by the Reichsbank in connection with the Agreement. Several major industrial enterprises were built with the capital from Germany, including the Mekoroth waterworks and the Lodzia textile firm. The influx of Ha'avara goods and capital produced an economic explosion in Jewish Palestine.

Having learned from its collaboration with Hitler’s Germany, Israel’s ruling elite—now interned in the Likud Party—have made the same deal with the United States to the tune of $90 billion of military aid since 1948, which has been spent in the United States to bolster the military-industrial complex. The continuing colonial expansion of Israel, turned into the United States "Fort Apache" of the Middle East, is recorded in the deaths and sufferings of the Jewish and Palestine peoples.


http://www.thevoicenews.com/news/2002/1004/In_Response/R01.html

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous jeff green said...

on march 6 2007 I lost my mother and during the estate sale i found this coin and this article is all the info i could find can someone please help me and tell me the complete history behind this coin

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger JEFF said...

on march 6 2007 I lost my mother and during the estate sale i found this coin and this article is all the info i could find can someone please help me and tell me the complete history behind this coin

 
At 12:51 AM, Anonymous Nell Minow said...

A new movie from Israel called "The Flat" provides some background on this story as the grandson of the couple who accompanied von Mildenstein to Palestine investigates what happens and meets with von Mildenstein's daughter.

 
At 7:21 AM, Blogger Brewerstroupe said...

Don Watt's book, "Stoker" has been totally discredited by historians and scholars worldwide. Mr Watt was an Australian soldier, captured in the early part of WW2 and was held in a variety of POW camps in Poland and Germany, of this there is no doubt.
However Mr Watt was never in Auschwitz, he never escaped and found his way to the Swiss border and he never shot a Russian soldier trying to rape a German Grandmother.
There are a lot of coins in the Holocaust narrative.

 

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