Claims of Nazi-Zionist collaboration are not anti-semitic fantasies, as Zionists will have everyone believe. They are based on historical facts and material long accepted as an integral part of serious literature on this question, and which has been legally available in the state of Israel. Crucially, most of the English language literature on this question was written by Jews, including prominent Zionists.
No serious student of history can be in doubt that some Zionists, including the top leaders of the Zionist movement, collaborated with the Nazis and went to the extent of rendering assistance to them to exterminate huge numbers of Jewish people.
Israel has on its statute book a special law to deal with exactly these types of people, which uniquely applies to crimes committed beyond the territory of Israel and to crimes committed prior to the establishment of the Israeli state. This law provides for the death penalty and is exempt from the statute of limitations. In all fairness, many high-ranking Israeli leaders, being proven collaborators with the Nazis, ought to have been tried under this law and executed on conviction.
Dr Hannah Arendt, who was by no means either left wing or pro-Palestinian but was a supporter of the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, dealt with some of the issues involved in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. She wrote that during the early years of the Nazi regime, Hitler’s rise to power was regarded by the Zionists mainly as “the decisive defeat of assimilationism”. Hence they could, argued the Zionists, cooperate with the Nazi authorities because they too, like the Nazis, believed in “dissimilation … combined with emigration to Palestine of Jewish youngsters and, they hoped, Jewish capitalists”; such a policy could be the basis of a “mutually fair solution”. All leading posts in the Nazi-appointed Reichsvereingung (Reich Association of Jews in Germany) were held by Zionists, as opposed to the authentically Jewish Reichsvertretung, which included Zionists as well as non-Zionists, for “Zionists, according to the Nazis, were ‘the decent’ Jews since they too thought in ‘national terms’. In those years there existed “a mutually highly satisfactory agreement between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish Agency for Palestine – a ‘Ha’avarah’, or transfer agreement”. As a result, in the Thirties, when American Jews tried to organise a boycott of German merchandise, Palestine of all places was swamped with all kinds of goods ‘made in Germany’.
Arendt goes on to say: “Of greater importance for Eichmann were the emissaries from Palestine” who came in order to “enlist help for the illegal immigration of Jews into British-ruled Palestine, and both the Gestapo and the SS were helpful… They negotiated with Eichmann in Vienna, and they reported that he was ‘polite’, and that he even provided them with farms and facilities for setting up vocational training camps for prospective immigrants.” For these emissaries from Palestine, their main enemy “…was not those who made life impossible for Jews in the old countries, Germany or Austria, but those who barred access to the new homeland: that enemy was definitely Britain, not Germany”.
And further: “… they were probably among the first Jews to talk openly about mutual interests and were certainly the first to be given permission to pick young Jewish prisoners from among the Jews in concentration camps …; … they too somehow believed that if it was a question of selecting Jews for survival, the Jews should do the selecting themselves. It was this … that eventually led to a situation in which the non-selected majority of Jews inevitably found themselves confronted with two enemies – the Nazi authorities and the Jewish authorities” (pp.59-61).
Dr Arendt gives a heart-wrenching account of the officials of Judenrat (Jewish Councils – a widely used administrative agency imposed by the Nazis during World War 2, predominantly within the ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe and the Jewish ghettos in German-occupied Poland), the cruelty they displayed towards fellow Jews in their collaboration with the murderous Nazi machine. “To a Jew”, she wrote, “this role of the Jewish leaders in the destruction of their own people is undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story” (pp.117-119).
Dr Arendt concluded that without this collaboration many lives could have been saved:
“But the whole truth was that there existed Jewish community organisations and Jewish party and welfare organisations on both the local and international level. Wherever Jews lived, there were recognised Jewish leaders and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazis. The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganised and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people” (p.125).
Dr Arendt’s book initially received sympathetic response from the Israeli press. However, almost immediately the Zionist propaganda machine went into overdrive to attack it savagely as the “concept about Jewish participation in the Nazi holocaust … may plague the Jews for years to come” (Hannah Arendt, The Jew as Pariah, Grove Press, New York, 1978).
On 11 March 1963, the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League released a ‘summary’ guideline to “book reviewers and others when the volume appears” which accused Dr Arendt of saying, inter alia: “That Europe’s Jewish organisations in the main, played a ‘disastrous role’ by cooperating with the Nazi extermination machine. As a result the Jews, themselves, bear a large share of the blame” (our emphasis). In essence Dr Arendt was accused of putting forward the thesis “that the Jews had murdered themselves” (see Dr Arendt’s comments in the New York Review of Books of 26 January 1966).
This line of attack was repeated by nearly every reviewer of Arendt’s book. The response of the Zionist establishment to Arendt’s book is typical of its reaction whenever questions about Nazi-Zionist cooperation crop up. This is how Dr Arendt, in The Jew as Pariah, describes the campaign against her.
“No one will doubt the effectiveness of modern image-making and no one acquainted with Jewish organisations and their countless channels of communication outside their immediate range will underestimate their possibilities in influencing public opinion. For greater than their direct power of control is the voluntary outside help upon which they can draw from Jews who, though they may not be at all interested in Jewish affairs, will flock home, as it were, out of age-old fears (no longer justified, let us hope, but still very much alive) when their people or its leaders are criticised. What I had done according to their lights was the crime of crimes. I had told ‘the truth in a hostile environment,’ as an Israeli official told me, and what the ADL and all the other organisations did was to hoist the danger signal…" (p.275).
The campaign, said Dr Arendt, though farcical, was “effective”.
“Or was it? After all, the denunciation of book and author, with which they achieved great, though by no means total, success, was not their goal. It was only the means with which to prevent the discussion of an issue ‘which may plague Jews for years to come’. And as far as this goal was concerned, they achieved the precise opposite. If they had left well enough alone, this issue, which I had touched upon only marginally, would not have been trumpeted all over the world. In their efforts to prevent people from reading what I had written, or, in case such misfortune had already happened, to provide the necessary reading glasses, they blew it up out of all proportion, not only with reference to my book but with reference to what had actually happened. They forgot that they were mass organisations, using all the means of mass communication, so that every issue they touched at all, pro or contra, was liable to attract the attention of masses whom they then no longer could control. So what happened after a while in these meaningless and mindless debates was that people began to think that all the nonsense the image-makers had made me say was the actual historical truth.
“Thus, with the unerring precision with which a bicyclist on his first ride will collide with the obstacle he is most afraid of, Mr. Robinson’s [Jacob Robinson, one of Dr Arendt’s critics] formidable supporters have put their whole power at the service of propagating what they were most anxious to avoid. So that now, as a result of their folly, literally everybody feels the need for a ‘major work’ on Jewish conduct in the face of catastrophe” (ibid.).
The Kastner case
Zionist cooperation with the Nazis, and the assistance furnished by the former in the extermination of several hundreds of thousands of Jews, were a logical culmination of their shared aims and nationalist, anti-assimilationist beliefs and theories.
This can be clearly demonstrated by reference to the most notorious case of Nazi-Zionist collaboration – that involving Rudolf Kastner. Not much is publicly known about this, thanks to the thorough suppression of information regarding it by the Zionist establishment and its backers in the imperialist countries.
The accusations against Kastner can be summarised as follows: Dr Rudolf Verba, a Doctor of Science then serving at the British Medical Research Council, was one of the few fortunate escapees from Auschwitz. In February 1961, he published his memoirs in the London Daily Herald, in which he wrote:
“I am a Jew. In spite of that, indeed because of that, I accuse certain Jewish leaders of one of the most ghastly deeds of the war.
“This small group of quislings knew what was happening to their brethren in Hitler’s gas chambers and bought their own lives with the price of silence. Among them was Dr Kastner, leader of the council which spoke for all Jews in Hungary. While I was prisoner number 44070 at Auschwitz – the number is still on my arm – I compiled careful statistics of the exterminations … I took these terrible statistics with me when I escaped in 1944 and I was able to give Hungarian Zionist leaders three weeks’ notice that Eichmann planned to send a million of their Jews to his gas chambers … Kastner went to Eichmann and told him, ‘I know of your plans; spare some Jews of my choice and I shall keep quiet.’
“Eichmann not only agreed, but dressed Kastner up in SS uniform and took him to Belsen to trace some of his friends. Nor did the sordid bargaining end there.
“Kastner paid Eichmann several thousand dollars. With this little fortune, Eichmann was able to buy his way to freedom when Germany collapsed, to set himself up in the Argentine …” (cited in Ben Hecht, Perfidy, Julian Messner Inc., New York, 1961, pp.261-2).
Verba’s accusations are fully corroborated by the ‘Eichmann Confessions’ produced in the 28 November and 5 December issues of Life magazine:
“By shipping the Jews off in a lightning operation, I wanted to set an example for future campaigns elsewhere…. In obedience to Himmler’s directive, I now concentrated on negotiations with the Jewish political officials in Budapest … among them Dr Rudolf Kastner, authorized representative of the Zionist Movement. This Dr Kastner was a young man about my age, an ice-cold lawyer and a fanatical Zionist. He agreed to help keep the Jews from resisting deportation – and even keep order in the collection camps – if I would close my eyes and let a few hundred or a few thousand young Jews emigrate illegally to Palestine. It was a good bargain. For keeping order in the camps, the price … was not too high for me….
“We trusted each other perfectly. When he was with me, Kastner smoked cigarettes as though he were in a coffeehouse. While we talked he would smoke one aromatic cigarette after another, taking them from a silver case and lighting them with a silver lighter. With his great polish and reserve he would have made an ideal Gestapo officer himself.
“Dr. Kastner’s main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Israel….
“As a matter of fact, there was a very strong similarity between our attitudes in the SS and the viewpoint of these immensely idealistic Zionist leaders…. I believe that Kastner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal…. ‘You can have the others,’ he would say, ‘but let me have this group here.’ And because Kastner rendered us a great service by helping to keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let his group escape. After all, I was not concerned with small groups of a thousand or so Jews…. That was the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ I had with Kastner” (ibid., pp.260-1).
It is worth remembering in this context that Nazi Zionist Adolf Eichmann stated in 1960, "[H]ad I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. I could not imagine being anything else. In fact, I would have been the most ardent Zionist imaginable"—A. Eichmann, ‘Eichmann tells his own damning story’, Life Magazine, Volume 49, Number 22, (28 November 1960), pp. 19-25, 101-112; at 22.
The government of Israel characterised these accusations of Verba’s as a lie. When Michael Greenwald, a fiercely pro-Zionist Israeli citizen, published these accusations against Kastner, the government did more than demand that Greenwald’s views be not broadcast. Since a prominent Zionist official was involved, Israel’s Attorney-General prosecuted Greenwald for criminal libel.
The verdict in the case given by Judge Benjamin Halevi in Israel’s District Court of Jerusalem is self-explanatory. We reproduce here excerpts from the verdict of Judge Halevi, who was later to be part of the panel of three judges who tried Eichmann:
“The masses of Jews from Hungary’s ghettos obediently boarded the deportation trains without knowing their fate. They were full of confidence in the false information that they were being transferred to Kenyermeze [a model camp where they would be comfortable and well looked after].
“The Nazis could not have misled the masses of Jews so conclusively had they not spread their false information through Jewish channels.
“The Jews of the ghettos would not have trusted the Nazi or Hungarian rulers. But they had trust in their Jewish leaders. Eichmann and others used this known fact as part of their calculated plan to mislead the Jews. They were able to deport the Jews to their extermination by the help of Jewish leaders.
“The false information was spread by the Jewish leaders. The local leaders of the Jews of Kluj and Nodvarod knew that other leaders were spreading such false information and did not protest.
“Those of the Jews who tried to warn their friends of the truth were persecuted by the Jewish leaders in charge of the local ‘rescue work’.
“The trust of the Jews in the misleading information and their lack of knowledge that their wives, children and themselves were about to be deported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz led the victims to remain quiescent in their ghettos. It seduced them into not resisting or hampering the deportation orders.
“Dozens of thousands of Jews were guarded in their ghettos by a few dozen police. Yet even vigorous young Jews made no attempt to overpower these few guards and escape to nearby Rumania. No resistance activities to the deportations were organized in these ghettos.
“And the Jewish leaders did everything in their power to soothe the Jews in the ghettos and to prevent such resistance activities.
“The same Jews who spread in Kluj and Nodvarod the false rumour of Kenyermeze, or confirmed it, the same public leaders who did not warn their own people against the misleading statements, the same Jewish leaders who did not organize any resistance or any sabotage of deportations … these same leaders did not join the people of their community in their ride to Auschwitz, but were all included in the Rescue train.
“The Nazi organizers of extermination and the perpetrators of extermination permitted Rudolf Kastner and the members of the Jewish Council in Budapest to save themselves, their relatives, and friends. The Nazis did this as a means of making the local Jewish leaders, whom they favoured, dependent on the Nazi regime, dependent on its good will during the time of its fatal deportation schedule. In short, the Nazis succeeded in bringing the Jewish leaders into collaboration with the Nazis at the time of the catastrophe.
“The Nazi chiefs knew that the Zionists were a most vital element in Jewry and the most trusted by the Jews.
“The Nazis drew a lesson from the Warsaw ghetto and other belligerent ghettos. They learned that Jews were able to sell their lives very expensively if honourably guided.
“Eichmann did not want a second Warsaw. For this reason, the Nazis exerted themselves to mislead and bribe the Jewish leaders.
“The personality of Rudolph Kastner made him a convenient catspaw for Eichmann and his clique, to draw into collaboration and make their task easier.
“The question here is not, as stated by the Attorney General in his summation, whether members of the Jewish Rescue Committee were or were not capable of fulfilling their duty without the patronage of the SS chiefs. It is obvious that without such SS Nazi patronage the Jewish Rescue Committee could not have existed, and could have acted only as an underground.
“The question is, as put by the lawyer for the defence, why were the Nazis interested in the existence of the Rescue Committee? Why did the SS chiefs make every effort to encourage the existence of the Jewish Rescue Committee? Did the exterminators turn into rescuers?
“The same question rises concerning the rescue of prominent Jews by these German killers of Jews. Was the rescue of such Jews a part of the extermination plan of the killers?
“The support given by the extermination leaders to Kastner’s Rescue Committee proves that indeed there was a place for Kastner and his friends in their Final Solution for the Jews of Hungary – their total annihilation.
“The Nazi’s patronage of Kastner, and their agreement to let him save six hundred prominent Jews, were part of the plan to exterminate the Jews. Kastner was given a chance to add a few more to that number. The bait attracted him. The opportunity of rescuing prominent people appealed to him greatly. He considered the rescue of the most important Jews as a great personal success and a success for Zionism. It was a success that would also justify his conduct – his political negotiation with Nazis and the Nazi patronage of his committee.
“When Kastner received this present from the Nazis, Kastner sold his soul to the German Satan.
“The sacrifice of the vital interests of the majority of the Jews, in order to rescue the prominents, was the basic element in the agreement between Kastner and the Nazis. This agreement fixed the division of the nation into two unequal camps: a small fragment of prominents, whom the Nazis promised Kastner to save, on the one hand, and the great majority or Hungarian Jews whom the Nazis designated for death, on the other hand. An imperative condition for the rescue of the first camp by the Nazis was that Kastner will not interfere in the action of the Nazis against the other camp and will not hamper them in its extermination. Kastner fulfilled this condition. He concentrated his efforts in the rescue of the prominents and treated the camp of the doomed as if they had already been wiped out from the book of the living.
“One cannot estimate the damage caused by Kastner’s collaboration and put down the number of victims which it cost Hungarian Jews. These are not only the thousands of Jews in Nodvarod or any other community in the border area, Jews who could escape through the border, had the chief of their rescue committee fulfilled his duty toward them.
“All of Kastner’s answers in his final testimony were a constant effort to evade this truth.
“Kastner has tried to escape through every crack he could find in the wall of evidence. When one crack was sealed in his face, he darted quickly to another" (Judgment of Judge Benjamin Halevi, Criminal Case 124/53; Attorney General v. Malchiel Greenwald, District Court, Jerusalem, June 22, 1955).
Referring to the meeting of Kastner with SS officers Becher and Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz at the time when the ‘new line’ of ‘rescuing’ Jews was disclosed by Hoess, Judge Halevi observed:
“From this gathering in Budapest, it is obvious that the ‘new line’ stretched from Himmler to Hoess, from Jutner to Becher and Krumey”, adding that this meeting not only exposed the ‘rescue work’ of Becher ‘in its true light’, but also ‘the extent of Kastner’s involvement in the inner circle of the chief German war criminals’”. Continued Judge Halevi:
“Collaboration between the Jewish Agency Rescue Committee and the Exterminators of the Jews was solidified in Budapest and Vienna. Kastner’s duties were part and parcel of the general duties of the SS.
“In addition to its Extermination Department and Looting Department, the Nazi SS opened a Rescue Department headed by Kastner.
“All these extermination, robbery and rescue activities of the SS were coordinated under the management of Heinrich Himmler” (ibid.).
As if all this were not enough, Kastner furnished a false affidavit in support of Becher, in his own name as well as that of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish World Congress. This wilfully false affidavit was given in favour of a war criminal to save him from trial and punishment in Nuremberg.
In view of the foregoing, Judge Halevi found Greenwald mainly innocent of libel against Kastner, but fined him one Israeli pound for one unproven accusation, namely, that Kastner had received money from the Nazis for assisting the latter in their extermination programme. He also awarded the court costs in favour of Greenwald, ordering the Israeli state to pay 200 Israeli pounds towards them.
But the story, which proved beyond doubt that Kastner was a collaborator, whom the Israeli government had attempted to defend, did not end there.
Public reaction to the trial
Israeli public opinion was near-unanimous in demanding that Kastner and his associates in the ‘Rescue committee’ be put on trial as Nazi collaborators. Here lies the rub. Kastner’s associates were the government of Israel. As the Israeli evening paper Yedi’ot Aharonot put it:
“If Kastner is brought to trial the entire government faces a total political and national collapse – as a result of what such a trial may disclose" (23 June 1955).
Not surprisingly then, the Israeli government, instead of putting Kastner on trial, lodged an appeal against Greenwald’s acquittal for criminal libel. In launching this appeal, the government showed “exemplary expediency”, as someone writing in the Israeli paper Ma’ariv put it:
“At 11 PM the verdict was given. At 11 AM next morning the government announces the defence of Kastner will be renewed – an appeal filed. What exemplary expediency! Since when does this government possess such lawyer-genius who can weigh in one night the legal chances of an appeal on a detailed, complex verdict of three hundred pages?!” (24 June 1955).
The motivation for the Israeli government’s defence of Kastner was made crystal clear at the appeal hearing in the Supreme Court by the following words of Chaim Cohen, Israel’s Attorney-General:
“The man Kastner does not stand here as a private individual. He was a recognized representative, official or non-official of the Jewish National Institutes in Palestine and of the Zionist Executive; and I come here in this court to defend the representative of our national institutions" (Hecht, p. 268).
This perfectly true statement constitutes the crux of the matter. Kastner’s collaboration with Nazi war criminals was not an individual isolated case. It represented the collaboration of the echelons of the Zionist leadership.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict was that Becher was a Nazi war criminal, whom Kastner, in his own as well as the Jewish Agency’s name, had without justification helped escape justice. Therefore Greenwald was acquitted of libel on this point.
The Supreme Court also accepted the finding of the lower court that Kastner had deliberately concealed the truth about Auschwitz from the masses of Hungarian Jewry in exchange for the Nazis allowing a paltry thousand or so to be taken to Palestine.
Thus Kastner can hardly have been rehabilitated, let alone “fully rehabilitated”.
The Supreme Court’s judgment
Yet, after unanimously accepting the above facts, shockingly the Supreme Court decided, by a majority of 3 to 2, that Kastner’s conduct was morally justifiable and found Greenwald guilty of criminal libel for characterising it as ‘collaboration’. With their defence of Kastner, the Nazi collaborator, the government of Israel and the Supreme Court furnished conclusive proof that Zionism fully stood for collaboration with the Nazis.
That the court majority, far from rehabilitating Kastner, joined him is clearly revealed from the following excerpts taken from the majority judgment of Judge Shalomo Chesin, which reveal an attitude of extreme cynicism and callousness, at variance with the compassion, decency and moral concern for the fate of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews exterminated by the Nazis with the collaboration – yes, COLLABORATION – of Kastner. Let Judge Chesin speak for himself:
“…What point was there in telling the people boarding the trains in Kluj, people struck by fate and persecuted, as to what awaits them at the end of their journey…Kastner spoke in detail of the situation, saying, ‘The Hungarian Jew was a branch which long ago dried up on the tree’. This vivid description coincides with the testimony of another witness about the Hungarian Jews, ‘This was a big Jewish community in Hungary, without any ideological Jewish backbone’ (Moshe Shweiger, a Kastner aide in Budapest, protocol 465).
In other words, if they were not Zionists (“without any ideological Jewish backbone”, if it pleases the Zionists), or willing or fit for travel to Palestine, they were not worth bothering about.
Judge Chesin goes on to assert, without foundation, that the Jews of Hungary were not capable, physically or mentally to offer forcible resistance to the Nazi deportation scheme. As such, no rescue could have flowed from the disclosure of the news about Auschwitz.
Even though Kastner’s silence when he arrived in Kluj was “premeditated and calculated”, even though his omissions made the Nazi extermination plans “easier” to execute, it could still not be regarded as collaboration! Continued Judge Chesin:
“And as to the moral issue, the question is not whether a man is allowed to kill many in order to save a few, or vice-versa. The question is altogether in another sphere and should be defined as follows: A man is aware that a whole community is awaiting its doom. He is allowed to make efforts to save a few, although part of his efforts involve concealment of truth from the many or should he disclose the truth to many though it is his best opinion that this way everybody will perish. I think that the answer is clear. What good will the blood of the few bring if everybody is to perish?…As I said, I am not arguing with the basic factual findings of the learned President of the Jewish District Court (Judge Halevi) but it seems to me, with all due respect, that his findings do not, as of necessity, demand the conclusion he has arrived at. That is to say, collaboration on the part of Kastner in the extermination of the Jews. And that they better coincide with bad leadership both from a moral and public point of view…
“In my opinion, one can say outright that if you find out that Kastner collaborated with the enemy because he did not disclose to the people who boarded the trains in Kluj that they were being led to extermination, one has to put on trial today … many more leaders and half-leaders who gagged themselves in an hour of crisis and did not inform others of what was known to them and did not warn and did not cry out of the coming danger….
“Because of all this I cannot confirm the conclusion of the District Court with regard to the accusation that Greenwald has thrown on Kastner of collaboration with the Nazis in exterminating the Jewish people in Hungary during the last war" (Hecht, ibid., pp.270-2).
“In other words, the Court approved of Kastner’s contempt for the Hungarian Jews and could not allow him to be condemned for doing exactly what many other Zionist leaders and half-leaders did – concealing their knowledge of the Nazi extermination plans so that Jews would board the trains to Auschwitz peacefully while their Zionist ‘leaders’ boarded a different train for Palestine”. These words taken from page 25 of the excellent pamphlet on the subject, Nazi-Zionist collaboration produced by the Jews Against Zionism and Anti-Semitism (JAZA) group in Australia and reproduced by the British Anti-Zionist Organisation/Palestine Solidarity (BAZO-PS) in 1981 sum up the Zionist contempt for vast layers of the Jewish people. Anyone who is interested in this subject can read this pamphlet at http://www.iahushua.com/Zion/zionhol03.html.
A fitting refutation of Judge Chesin’s sickeningly revolting judgment is to be found in the minority judgment of Supreme Court Judge Moshe Silberg, in which he tears to shreds the majority verdict. What right, asked Judge Silberg, did Kastner have to decide the fate of 800,000 Hungarian Jews? He went on:
“…The charge emanating from the testimony of the witnesses against Kastner is that had they known of the Auschwitz secret, then thousands or tens of thousands would have been able to save their lives by local, partial, specific or indirect rescue operations like local revolts, resistance, escapes, hidings, concealment of children with Gentiles, forging of documents, ransom money, bribery, etc. – and when this is the case and when one deals with many hundreds of thousands, how does a human being, a mortal, reject with complete certainty and with an extreme ‘no’ the efficiency of all the many and varied rescue ways? How can he examine the tens of thousands of possibilities? Does he decide instead of God? Indeed, he who can act with such a usurpation of the last hope of hundreds of thousands is not entitled to claim good faith as his defence. The penetrating question quo warrento [a writ requiring to show by what authority an office is held or exercised] is a good answer to a claim of such good faith…
“And if all this is not enough to annul the claim of good faith which was put before us on behalf of Kastner by the Attorney General, then Kastner himself comes and annuls it altogether. Not only did he never make this claim, but his own words prove the contrary. He writes in his report to the Jewish Agency that the Committee sent emissaries to many ghettos in the countryside and pleaded with them to organize escapes and to refuse to board the trains. And though the story of these pleadings is untrue, and the silence of Kastner in Kluj is proven, the very uttering of these statements entirely contradicts the claim that Kastner had concealed the news about the fate of the ghetto inmates in good faith and only as a result of his complete despairing of the chances of escaping or resisting the Germans. You cannot claim at the same time helplessness and activity. Anyway, such a claim is not convincing…
“We can sum up with three facts:
“A. That the Nazis didn’t want to have a great revolt – ‘Second Warsaw’ – nor small revolts, and their passion was to have the extermination machine working smoothly without resistance. This fact was known to Kastner from the best source – from Eichmann himself – And he had additional proofs of that when he witnessed all the illusionary and misleading tactics which were being taken by the Nazis from the first moment of occupation.
“B. That the most efficient means to paralyse the resistance with – or the escape of a victim is to conceal from him the plot of the coming murder. This fact is known to every man and one does not need any proof of evidence for this.
“C. That he, Kastner, in order to carry out the rescue plan for the few prominents, fulfilled knowingly and without good faith the said desire of the Nazis, thus expediting the work of exterminating the masses.
“And also the rescue of Becher by Kastner…He who is capable of rescuing this Becher from hanging proves that the atrocities of this great war criminal were not so horrifying or despicable in his eyes…I couldn’t base the main guilt of Kastner on this fact had it been alone, but when it is attached even from afar to the whole scene of events it throws retroactive light on the whole affair and serves as a dozen proofs of our conclusion” (ibid. pp. 273-5) (Supreme Court Judge, Moshe Silberg, 1957).
In the Kastner case the top Zionist leadership of Israel was shown to be continuing publicly to defend collaboration with the Nazi mass murderers in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Jews.
Although the Supreme Court concluded the Kurt Becher was a war criminal, the Jewish Agency (World Zionist Organisation) declined to withdraw the false certificate given to him by Kastner on their behalf, thus sparing Becher from hanging, to remain free in West Germany at the head of several corporations with a personal wealth of $30 million at the time. Becher even used his certificate as a ‘good’ SS officer in order to give evidence in favour of his fellow criminals at several war crimes trials in West Germany. The Israeli government never attempted to bring him to trial, presumably out of fear of what such a trial might reveal.
Similarly, none of Kastner’s colleagues on the Zionist Relief and Rescue Committee nor his superiors in the Jewish Agency were ever brought to trial as demanded by the Israeli public, let alone the several hundred ‘prominents’ who assisted Kastner in reassuring the Hungarian Jews that they were destined for Kenyermeze and not Auschwitz, in return for tickets on the train that eventually took them to Palestine.
Kastner, with his undisputed claims that he did everything with the blessing of the Jewish Agency, was a source of huge continuing embarrassment to the Zionist leadership. He had to be got rid of. He was got rid of in the immediate aftermath of the conclusion of the appeal hearing, but before the judgment ‘rehabilitating’ him had been delivered. He was shot dead by Zeer Eckstein who was not a Hungarian aching to avenge the mass murder of Hungarian Jews but a paid undercover agent of the secret service of Israel (Arendt, The Jew as Pariah, p.208).
The Kastner case, in addition to refuting Zionism’s cynical use of the holocaust as a propaganda tool, also reveals that the very existence of the Jewish Agency, far from being an instrument for the protection of the Jewish masses, was a real assistance to the Nazis in their extermination plans. Lots of Jewish lives could have been saved but for the existence of the Jewish Agency.
Zionism is no answer to the problem of anti-semitism, but a dreadful and cowardly way of avoiding participation in the struggle against discrimination, repression and extermination.
A sick and warped ideology
We have to go beyond documenting what Kastner did, and the approval of his conduct by the Supreme Court of Israel and the Israeli government. We have to ask: why did Kastner consider it correct actively to assist the Nazis by leading several hundred thousand Jews to extermination in return for the lives of fewer than 2,000? Further, why did the top Zionist leadership feel obliged to come to his defence after his crime had been proved?
The answer is that before, as well as during the war, Zionism considered itself as a political movement concerned only with those Jews who were desirous of colonising Palestine, while the vast majority of the Jews were opposed to it. Rescuing the Jews in general from the Nazis was not the aim and function of Zionism. Zionism is not, neither then nor today, a movement for the protection of Jews but a movement for establishing a Jewish state in Palestine – its rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.
During the dreadful years of Nazi rule, millions of Jews desperately wanted to leave Europe, but the last place they wanted to go was Palestine. Contrary to popular myth, there was no historical or cultural affinity between the Jewish masses and Palestine. Most Jews were urban people, and the United States, which had between the 1880s and 1914 absorbed nearly 2 million Jews from Eastern Europe, would have been their preferred destination. Failing that, any other country away from the blood-drenched claws of the Nazis, would have been eagerly welcomed.
For the Zionists, however, the establishment of the Jewish state was the raison d’être of their existence. Guided by this warped outlook, the majority of mainstream Zionists sat out the war trying to construct the ‘national homeland’ in Palestine and conducting campaigns for unhindered Jewish immigration into Palestine and for a Jewish army, whereas the majority of Jews, like everyone else during the 2nd World War, had more important things to worry about, including participation in partisan anti-Nazi resistance movements and enlisting in large numbers in the Allied armies. The World Zionist Organisation neither publicised nor participated in the anti-Nazi resistance; it neither publicised the holocaust nor supported resistance to it; instead it participated in covering it up until the Allies publicised it.
Vast numbers of Jews organised and participated in the partisan underground throughout Europe – generally under communist leadership, often under the direct command of the Red Army, thus making a sizeable contribution to the Allied war effort.
Even in the Warsaw ghetto, where the Zionist contribution was greatest, the majority of the fighters were communist, Bundist or unaffiliated, although from the Zionist propaganda the unwary may be forgiven for getting the impression that the Warsaw ghetto rebellion was all a Zionist effort.
Yitzhak Greenbaum, while speaking on ‘The diaspora and the redemption’ in February 1943 at a Tel Aviv gathering, succinctly, not to say cold-bloodedly, explained the Zionist policy during the holocaust in the following words:
“…When they come to us with two pleas – the rescue of the masses of Jews in Europe or the redemption of the land – I vote without a second thought for the redemption of the land” (quoted by Rabbi Moshe Shonfield, The Holocaust victims accuse, Neturei Karta, New York, 1977, p.26).
He restated this stance in his post-war book In days of holocaust and destruction:
“… when they asked me, couldn’t you give money out of the United Jewish appeal funds for the rescue of Jews in Europe, I said ‘NO’ and I say ‘NO’ again … one should resist this wave which pushes the Zionist activities to secondary importance” (ibid. p.26).
This buying of land from the Arabs of Palestine took priority over rescuing European Jews threatened with extermination. More than that. He called for a conspiracy of silence over the mass murder of Jews so as not to distract attention from purchasing land. In his words: “The more said about the slaughter of our people, the greater the minimisation of our efforts to strengthen and promote Hebraisation of the land” (ibid.).
Let it be noted that Greenbaum was not some minor Zionist official. He was the immediate superior of Kastner in the Jewish Agency, in his position of the head of the Rescue Committee for European Jewry, and occupied the position of a cabinet minister in Israel’s first government. Although in a minority in the Zionist leadership on this question, damningly he was left in charge of the ‘Rescue Committee’ after blatantly making clear his opposition to using Zionist funds for the rescue of Jews. Clearly, Greenbaum’s policy was also the policy of the Zionist movement – an agreed policy that Kastner was merely implementing.
This policy was succinctly captured in the cold-blooded slogan: “One goat in Eretz Israel is worth an entire community in the diaspora”.
To the Zionist leadership, the most important question was the building of the ‘Jewish homeland’. If this involved sacrificing a million or more Jews, that was for them a price worth paying.
Contrary to popular belief, Zionist leaders did not seriously question that they were silent during the holocaust. Dr Nahim Goldman, President of the World Jewish Congress, speaking on 4 March 1962 at a commemorative meeting frankly stated:
“If there is a basis to the historical ‘I accuse’, let us have the courage now to direct it against that part of the generation which was lucky enough to be outside of Nazi domination and did not fulfil its obligations toward the millions killed” (ibid. p.70).
While admitting responsibility for the deaths of those who could have been, but were not, rescued, Goldman rather slyly attempted to spread the blame so as to accuse everyone not actually a victim of the holocaust, instead of laying the blame where it belongs, namely, on the Zionist leadership.
The Zionist leadership ignored heart-wrenching pleas from beleaguered Jews threatened with deportation to, and extermination at, Auschwitz. One such request was sent from a cave near Lublin (Poland) on 15 May 1944 by Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandel. The author of this appeal wrote passionately that the Zionist leadership put pressure on the allies to bomb the crematorium at Auschwitz and the roads and bridges leading to it. No such bombing took place. The heart-wrenching messages were ignored. One can only conclude that the Zionist leadership could not initiate ‘strong protests’ against Nazi extermination without imperilling the sordid deals their representative Kastner was negotiating for the rescue of a few hundred Jews and their transportation to Palestine (see pp.40-43 of the JAZA pamphlet Nazi-Zionist collaboration).
The revisionist Zionists, for their own political reasons, were responsible for bringing to light the collaboration between the Nazis and the mainstream Zionist leadership. One of these revisionists was lawyer Shmuel Tanir, who was Greenwald’s defence counsel in the Kastner case, who later on was to become Israel’s Minister of Justice.
Even Ben Hecht, another supporter of the revisionists, in his book Perfidy, concludes that had the mainstream Zionists organised to rescue the Jewish masses “… by any measure, such honourable human behaviour would have been of deeper worth to the world than a dozen states of Israel” (p.193).
The Zionist thinking during the holocaust is correctly outlined by Mapai (predecessor of the present-day Israeli Labour Party) leader Eliezer Livetz, who expressed his regrets in the following words in Yediot Aharonot in an article entitled ‘Thoughts on the holocaust’:
“Our Zionist orientation educated us to see the growing land of Israel as the prime goal and the Jewish nation only in relation to its building the land. With each tragedy befalling the Jews in the Diaspora, we saw the state as the evident solution. We continued employing this principle even during the holocaust, saving only those who could be brought to Israel. The mandate’s limitation on immigration served as a political factor in our battle to open the doors to aliya (immigration) and to establishing the state. Our programs were geared to this aim and for this we were prepared to sacrifice or endanger lives. Everything outside of this goal, including the rescue of European Jewry for its own sake, was a secondary goal. ‘If there can be no people without a country’, Rabbi Weissmandel exclaimed, ‘then surely there can be no country without a people. And where are the living Jewish people, if not in Europe?’” (Shonfeld, op.cit. pp.24-25).
The revisionist paper, Herut, correctly stated that the leaders of the Jewish Agency and leaders of the Zionist movement in Palestine, could have appealed in the “broadcasts of their ‘secret’ Haganah radio station to Jews in ghettos, camps and villages to flee to the woods, to mutiny and fight, to try to save themselves.” By their silence “they collaborated with the German to no less extent than the scoundrels who provided the Germans with the death lists. History will yet pronounce its verdict against them. Was not the very existence of the Jewish Agency a help for the Nazis? When history tries the so-called Judenrat and the Jewish police, she will also condemn the leaders of the Agency and the leaders of the Zionist movement" (25 May 1964, cited in V Bolshakov, Anti-communism, the main line of Zionism, Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1972, p.40).
That surely is the verdict of history.
Just as Judge Benjamin Halevi concluded that the Budapest ‘Relief and Rescue Committee’ of the Zionist Jewish Agency was a department of the Nazi SS, along with the departments for extermination and looting, so we must conclude that the very existence of the Jewish Agency was of assistance to the Nazis in carrying out and covering up unspeakable crimes.
When the news about Auschwitz eventually found its way into the Swiss, NOT Palestinian, press, notwithstanding attempts at suppression by Zionist officials in Geneva, it caused a furore throughout the world, causing the Hungarian government to suspend deportations consequent upon threats from the Allies. The deportations were only resumed after the German occupation of Hungary. It is most unlikely that the destruction of Hungarian Jewry could have been achieved in the little time available without Zionist collaboration in luring the Jews to board the Auschwitz-bound trains in a lightning operation that took them out of Hungary just in time before the arrival of the Red Army.
The Zionist leaders were opposed to publicising the news about the ongoing murder of Jews because they believed that such publicity would have served to distract attention from ‘Hebraisation’ of the land of Palestine, that is, clearing the land of the Arabs.
Keeping doors shut to Jews
For the same twisted reason, during this time there were Zionists furiously busy organising to keep the doors shut to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in every country except Palestine. In Britain they were instrumental in defeating a Parliamentary motion in January 1943 aimed at rescuing the threatened Jews. The argument of the Zionist leadership was: “Every nation has its dead in the fight for its homeland – the sufferers under Hitler are our dead in our fight”!
Persecuted Jews were barred from entering the US during this time by a combination of anti-semitism of State Department officials (Assistant Secretary of State Breckeridge Long was a notorious anti-semite), supported by Lawrence Steinhardt, one of very few Jews who at the time were in an important position in the US Foreign Service. A director of the American Federation of Zionists and afterwards of the American Zionist Commonwealth in the 1920s, Steinhardt achieved notoriety for his unrelenting support for the State Department’s anti-refugee stance. He opposed large-scale immigration of Eastern European Jews, declaring them as totally unfit to become American citizens, characterising them as lawless, scheming, defiant and unassimilable.
Even as regards Jewish immigration into Palestine, the Zionists aimed for selective immigration to build a Jewish state, not at rescuing Jews fleeing extermination. And the policy of selective immigration had been firmly in place long before the war, with German awareness of what this policy meant for those not selected. Not for nothing did Chaim Weizmann, first President of Israel, speaking at the 20th Zionist Congress in 1937, make this nauseating statement:
“…the hopes of six million Jews are centred on emigration…I was asked, ‘But can you bring six million Jews to Palestine? I replied, ‘No’…In the depth of the Jewish tragedy – I want to save two million of youth…The old ones will pass, they will bear their fate or they will not. They are dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world…Only a remnant shall survive…we have to accept it” (Nazi-Zionist collaboration, p.54).
It is this heartless tradition which provides the explanation for Kastner’s actions, as well as their defence by the Supreme Court and the government of Israel. In his defence of Kastner, the Attorney General of Israel, Chaim Cohen, appealed to this tradition:
“…It has always been our Zionist tradition to select the few out of many in arranging the immigration to Palestine…Are we therefore to be called traitors?” (quoted in Ben Hecht, op.cit., pp.194-5).
“The answer to Chaim Cohen’s question is ‘YES!’ – for continuing to ‘select the few out of many in arranging the Immigration to Palestine’, during the Holocaust, when the problem was how to get the many to any haven that would have them – Zionists are ‘therefore to be called traitors’.
“It was not a great jump from Weizmann’s description of the masses of European Jews as ‘economic and moral dust in a cruel world’, to the Supreme Court of Israel’s majority Judgment that Kastner was entitled to mislead the Hungarian Jews about Auschwitz because:
“’The Hungarian Jew was a branch which long ago dried up on the tree’.
“’This was a big Jewish community in Hungary without any ideological Jewish backbone’ (i.e. not much Zionism) (Hecht p.271).
“As Ben Hecht remarks, it was not a much greater jump from there to Dr. Goebbels diary entry in 1943:
“’In our Nazi attitude, toward the Jews, there must be no squeamish sentimentalism’.
“Indeed, as Ben Hecht also remarks, the sneer and belittlement of Dr. Goebbels who wrote ‘The Jews deserve the catastrophe that has now overtaken them’, seems to echo in the voice of the Attorney General of the State of Israel who says:
“’For those and millions of Jews like them there came true the old curse. ‘And, lo, they were meant to be taken like sheep for slaughter, for killing, for destruction, for crushing and shame.’ There was no spirit in them. The Jewish masses in Warsaw were in the same condition’ (ibid. p.149) (Court records, CC124/53 Jerusalem District Court).
“This basically Nazi philosophy, displayed here towards Jews instead of Arabs, helps explain how the concept of saving the few at the expense of the many led Zionists to become the most suitable collaborators for the Nazis in administering the Jewish Councils or Judenrat in the ghettos,.. (Zionist-Nazi collaboration, p.55).
A shared racist philosophy
The Nazi-Zionist collaboration was not accidental, nor a matter of isolated individual actions. It arose logically from shared aims. The Nazis wanted a Jewish-free Germany and Europe. The Zionists wanted to get them to Palestine. When confronted with the choice between saving the masses of European Jews from persecution and extinction, on the one hand, and building the so-called national home, on the other, the Zionist leadership unfailing chose the latter. This is made perfectly clear in a letter from David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, to the Zionist Executive on 7 December 1938, in which he stated that saving Jewish lives from Hitler was a potential threat to Zionism unless the Jews thus saved were brought to Palestine. “When Zionism had to choose between the Jews and the Jewish state, it unhesitatingly preferred the latter” (see Arie Bober (ed.), The other Israel: the radical case against Zionism, Anchor Books, New York, 1972, p.171).
No decent person, Jew or non-Jew, can shut their eyes to the collaboration of the Zionist leadership. In his book Perfidy, written principally to expose the Israeli government’s support and defence of Kastner, Ben Hecht, an extreme revisionist Zionist of the Menachem Begin variety, and hardly a friend of the Palestinians, felt obliged to say:
“Such a book was not easy for me to write. For the heart of a Jew must be filled with astonishment as well as outrage … that a brother should be so perfidious” (Hecht, op.cit., p.vi).
Elie Wiesel, who reviewed the manuscript for Yediot Aharonot of 4 April 1959, cited Ben Hecht as saying: “the best known, most respected leaders of Zionism – were actually criminals”. Wiesel went on:
“Somehow, my typewriter refuses to write about Weizmann and about the heads of the Jewish Agency who helped the Germans to destroy European Jewry” (Shonfeld, op.cit, pp. 105-6).
Anyone, even a Zionist, with an open mind and a tinge of decency would have to agree with Ben Hecht’s conclusion: honourable human behaviour would have been of deeper worth to the world than a dozen States of Israel (Hecht, p.193).
The state of Israel is often talked about as some entity “for which six million Jews died”. Although a lot of Jews died, they were not martyrs who died for the Zionist ‘cause’. Apart from being simply untrue, the propaganda of Zionists, as well as their imperialist backers, on the question of the holocaust, it is unbearably offensive to anti-Zionist Jews, for, in the words of Isaac Deutscher:
“It should be realised that the great majority of Eastern European Jews were, up to the outbreak of the second world war, opposed to Zionism. This is a fact of which most Jews and non-Jews in the West are seldom aware. The Zionists in our part of the world were a significant minority, but they never succeeded in attracting a majority of their co-religionists. The most fanatical enemies of Zionism were precisely the workers, those who spoke Yiddish, those who considered themselves Jews; they were the most determined opponents of the idea of an emigration from Eastern Europe to Palestine” (Isaac Deutscher, The non-Jewish Jew and other essays, Oxford University Press, London, 1968).
Fight against imperialism
These were the folk who were exterminated by the Nazis on an industrial scale. The holocaust victims perished not in order that a ‘Jewish state’ be established. They were simply murdered in cold blood by the Nazis acting on their sick racialist theories. The Nazis murdered millions of Jews, communists, Soviets, Poles, gypsies and others in one of the greatest crimes against humanity. The Nazi ideology was the product of crisis-ridden imperialism. And the most important lesson for humanity to learn from the holocaust, which claimed the lives of 6 million Jews, and of the far greater holocaust with its 50 million dead, an even greater number maimed, and colossal destruction of wealth, namely, the Second World War, was that it too was a product of imperialism. The only way to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies is to overthrow imperialism, for war and genocide cannot be put to an end while this system lasts.
Nazism, far from leading to the “rejuvenation of the Jewry”, as is often claimed by the Zionists and their apologists, led to the mass murder of Jews. “The shock and demoralisation, and also amoralisation suffered by the survivors of the holocaust goes far to explain how a poisonous ideology like Zionism could, for the first time in history, gain a real mass following among Jews.
“But to call the mass murder of Jews followed by the decline and decadence of traditional universalist Jewish values and the takeover of Jewish community institutions by narrow nationalist zealots, a ‘rejuvenation of Jewry’, takes real gall” (Nazi-Zionist collaboration, p.79).
In the words of Rabbi Moshe Shonfield: “The first and foremost action [of the Zionists] was to establish the ‘state’ and the masses of Jews merely served as convenient means. And wherever there existed a contradiction between the two, the needs of the masses, and even their salvation, were subordinated to the needs of the state-information” (I accuse from the depths, cited in Nazi-Zionist collaboration, p.81).
“The author accuses the Zionists of having collaborated in the murder of six million Jews”, stated the orthodox Torah Jews of the ‘Neturei Karta’ in advertising Shonfeld’s book The holocaust victims accuse in the New York Times. Whenever the Zionists, or the Zionist state of Israel, are criticised, the Zionist movement has a knee-jerk reaction. If the criticism emanates from non-Jews, they are dubbed anti-semites; if such criticism comes from Jews, they are dismissed as ‘self-hating Jews’. The Zionist movement is busy, with the help of the leading imperialist states, attempting to criminalise every public expression of support for the Palestinian people, any criticism of Israel’s brutal policies and the conditions of apartheid imposed on the Palestinians in their own land. If Zionism collaborated with the German fascists in the 1930s and 1940s, helping the latter in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people, it has since the establishment of the state of Israel served as a faithful servant of US imperialism – a dagger pointed at the heart of the Arab democratic and socialist movement. As such, just like its chief patron US imperialism, it has become an enemy of all progressive humanity including especially the Jewish masses. It needs to be fought against and shall be fought against and defeated, however long and arduous the struggle.