corrections to richard’s account of haavara

I thought at once that Richard was confusing Etzel, which was a fairly large revisionist militia, with LEHI, which was a small elite terrorist group, and said so in my copy of his article. But Tony Greenstein (the very one whose feud with Gilad Atzmon is now the subject of unseemly mirth and/or legend), wrote a lengthier response. He says:

Richard, there are a few mistakes here too. LEHI broke off from Irgun under the command of Yair Stern, hence the Stern Gang. It called itself, I believe, ‘Irgun B’, but it was LEHI, not the Irgun under Begin, which proposed (twice) an agreement with the Nazis. LEHI was commanded by a triumvirate which included Shamir. Begin had nothing to do with the group. The purpose of Ha’avara was not to save German Jews. Zionism was only interested in selective immigration. Weizmann and Ruppin among others made this crystal clear. They did not seek a rescue of Germany Jewry, but wanted to ‘rescue’ their wealth. Immigrants got maybe 20% of their wealth back. Finally although he is a good comrade, it was me who first used the term’ weaponising anti-Semitism’ and indeed weaponising the holocaust in an article in Weekly Worker!

Arie Brand adds (in the same comments thread):

I think it is pretty appalling how Labour members who in all likelihood are privately running with the hare but publicly hunting with the hounds, are now trying to cover their respective rear-ends, all in “righteous indignation”. What are they scared of, for Pete’s sake? … I read that Ken Livingstone is referring to publications by Lenni Brenner to defend his comments. What I know about it I also got from Brenner. I am not aware of any respectable attempts to refute him. In addition to sentences of that notorious letter that you published, here is a copy of a post that I placed on this site earlier, which contains the full text of the letter as I found it in Brenner. What especially got me in that text, apart from the appalling proposal as such, was the words “Volkisch-national Hebraicum”. In Nazi terminology the word “Volk” had a very special meaning and was closely linked to the “Blut und Boden” complex, the ideological underpinning of a racist–territorial exclusivism. The following document was published in Lenni Brenner’s “Zionism in the Age of the Dictators”, the publication to which Ken Livingstone is referring.

First, Brenner introduces the document in his usual business-like way:

An alliance between his (Stern’s) movement and the Third Reich was discovered in the files of the German Embassy in Turkey. The Ankara document called itself a ‘Proposal of the National Military Organisation (Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the side of Germany.’ The Ankara document is dated Jan 11 1941. At that point, the Sternists still thought of themselves as the ‘real’ Irgun, and it was only later that they adopted the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (Lohamei Herut Yisrael) appellation. This offer by the NMO (in theory, at least – RB) would be connected to the military training and organizing of Jewish manpower in Europe, under the leadership and command of the NMO. These military units would take part in the fight to conquer Plastelina, should such a front be decided upon.

This is the document itself:

The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question, but this can only be made possible and complete through the settlement of these masses in Plastelina, the home of the Jewish people, and through the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries … The NMO, which is well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that: (1) Common interests could exist between the establishment of a New Order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO; (2) Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed volkish-national Hebraicum would be possible; and (3) The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East. Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Plastelina, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli Jewish freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side… The indirect participation of the Israeli Jewish freedom movement in the New Order in Europe, already in the preparatory stage, would be linked with a positive-radical solution of the European Jewish problem in conformity with the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Jewish people. This would extraordinarily strengthen the moral basis of the New Order in the eyes of all humanity. The NMO is closely related to the totalitarian movements of Europe in its ideology and structure.

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