Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Zionist-Nazi Collaboration Token

Token issued by Joseph Goebbels to promote articles on Zionism in Palestine in a Nazi publication.

A token struck under the auspices of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, commemorates Zionist-Nazi cooperation.  It reads, “A Nazi travels to Palestine (obverse), and tells about it in Der Angriff (reverse).” The obverse has a Star of David in the center, while the reverse has a small swastika upon it.  Beginning in September of 1934, a well-publicized twelve-part series of positive articles about Jewish life in Palestine was presented to the Nazi readership of Der Angriff, an important newspaper.  The author of these articles was Baron Leopold Itz von Mildenstein, member of both the Nazi party and Hitler’s elite S.S.

Nazi publication Der Angriff.

Nazi party policy on the ‘Jewish question’ was muddled and confusing at best.  Therefore the S.S. decided to create its own Jewish program.  Based upon promoting Jewish emigration to Palestine, it closely paralleled the Zionist approach.  Before 1933 German Zionism was marginal at best and had no mass appeal among German Jewry.  The fortunes of Zionism, however, skyrocketed after Hitler took power when the Zionists became a powerful force within the intimidated Jewish community. 

The Zionist Federation of Germany selected Kurt Tuchler to ferret out Zionist sympathizers among Nazi officials in order to enlist their support in familiarizing the German people with Zionism and Jewish progress in Palestine.  Toward that end, Tuchler contacted von Mildenstein.  The Zionist suggested that the Nazi write something positive about Jewish life in Palestine in a leading National Socialist publication.  Von Mildenstein agreed but only if he visited Palestine accompanied by Tuchler as his guide.

Zionist Tuchler (left) and SS man von Mildenstein traveled together to Palestine with their wives.

Von Milenstein was an astute student of Jewish affairs who was sympathetic towards Zionist yearnings.  He attended Zionist congresses, became familiar with the issues, and befriended delegates.  This Nazi became a committed Zionist. 

Does von Mildenstein’s Zionism make him a philo-Semite?  It does not.  Nazis were anti-Semites and therefore assimilated Jews, as well as non-religious ones, who considered themselves Germans were anathema to them.  A major appeal of Zionism to Nazis was that their goal was to leave Germany for Palestine, unlike Jews who wished to remain in the fatherland. The Baron’s Jew was a ‘new Jew’ of Palestine, one that, he writes, “suits the soil.  The soil has reformed him and his kind in a decade.  This new Jew will be a new people.”

It appears that von Wildenstein’s ‘new Jew’ evokes the German volkisch movement, an integral element of Nazism, which romantically elevates to the heroic a peasant who works the soil.  Along these lines, von Wildenstein met a young Jew bound for Palestine, who told him

You…do not believe that we are truly capable of working with our hands.…You see, Zionism…reminds us not only that we are a people, but also that we have a fatherland….Theodor Herzl…told us that assimilation would not help us but only the realization on our part that we are one people with our own fatherland…

Leopold von Mildenstein in Palestine in 1933. (Goldfinger/Tuchler Family Archive/A Sundance Selects release)

Zionism was the focus of Nazi policy on the ‘Jewish question’ from 1934 to 1936 due solely to von Milderstein’s Herculean efforts.  His articles led to a promotion in 1935 to head the Jewish desk in Reinhardt Heydrich’s Security Service, the intelligence branch of the S.S.   His policy was to expand Zionist influence among German Jewry despite the oppressive conditions all Jews lived under.  His efforts were frustrated, however, by internal department rivalries and jealousies, as well as decreasing emigration to Palestine.  A short ten months after assuming his position, he resigned and saw the Jewish desk taken over by Adolf Eichmann, whom, ironically, von Mildenstein had personally recruited.  Thereafter the Jewish policy switched from a humane, supportive Zionism to that of severe repression and harassment which culminated in the “Final Solution” that resulted in the Holocaust.


COPYRIGHT (C) 2014 Eric Brothers

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