With the visited of Benjamin Netanyahu
to France recently, where he made no attempt to hide his satisfaction at the attack
on French Jews in the kosher supermarket, which he exploited for the purpose of
increasing Jewish immigration to Israel, a debate over Zionist-Nazi Collaboration
is most appropriate.
Lenni Brenner in Full Flow
In the current edition of the Journal of Holy Land Studies I wrote a
critique, ZIONIST-NAZI COLLABORATION AND
THE HOLOCAUST: A HISTORICAL ABERRATION? LENNI
BRENNER REVISITED in which I make a number of criticisms of
Lenni Brenner’s major work, the pioneering Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
which was written in 1982.
Brenner’s first book
Unfortunately I can’t republish the article for the duration of the
current issue of JHLS, i.e. 6 months, but you can purchase the article here.
The Mufti of Jerusalem Salutes his SS Divisions
The main shortcomings of Lenni’s work, as I saw them were:
• A failure to mention Rudolph Vrba and AlfredWetzler, who escaped from
Auschwitz on 10 April 1944, or the Auschwitz Protocols/Vrba-Wetzler Report.
Simon Wiesenthall holding up the picture of the major war criminal Walter Rauff and the gas trucks he invented, which saw action first in the ‘Euthenasia’ campaign and then at Chelmno extermination camp
• Treating Yad Vashem as a dispassionate, neutral academic institution dedicated
to Holocaust research, rather than a propaganda institute.
• A failure to understand that the Judenräte (singular Judenrat; German for ‘Jewish
council’), were an integral part of the extermination process.
• A belief that Europe’s Jews could be saved through bribery, in particular Rabbi Weissmandel’s Europa Plan.
Brenner uncritically adopted the politics of the Jewish Orthodoxy.
Journal where critique of Brenner is to be found
• Brenner uncritically accepted the argument that Adolf Eichmann’s ‘Blood for Trucks’
offer could have saved Hungarian Jewry.
• Brenner personally blamed Rudolf Kasztner, the leader of Hungarian Zionism and
the Jewish Agency’s ‘Rescue Committee’ (Va’ada) in Budapest, for the rapid extermination of
Hungarian Jewry whilst ignoring the role of the Jewish Agency.
• Brenner failed to ask what the implications for the future were of
Zionist collaboration with the Nazis, with particular reference to Argentina. The
Zionist movement argues that the Holocaust was a product of having no state and
Jewish weakness but the Israeli state’s attitude to anti-Semitism is no
different from Zionism historically.
I made it clear that I have enormous respect for Lenni’s achievements but
that his work, like all others, is not immune from criticism. Unfortunately Lenni takes all criticism
personally and has reacted in his normal, ego-driven, over-the-top
fashion. In particular he writes:
‘ZITAOTD received Mortimer’s Times review and four favorable pages devoted
to it in Ken Livingstone’s You Can’t Say That: Memoirs. Envy of their
attention to it motivated your Holy Land Studies article because you
know one certainty: Tony Greenstein knows more about the Holocaust than Lenni
Brenner or anyone else who ever has or ever will tread upon this planet.’
The only problem with this explanation is that I have never read Ken
Livingstone’s memoirs! The Labour
Committee on Palestine which I helped form and of which I was the first
Chairperson, back in 1982, split when Ted Knight, who was a mole inside the
Labour Party on behalf of the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), an
anti-Semitic grouping, took the LCP over.
All this was later documented in the pages of the Workers Press. See We formed the Labour Movement Campaign on Palestine and a few years later Ken
spoke at our fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference where had admitted he’d
been wrong to go along with the LCP, as did a Jewish comrade the late Alf
It is true that a book concentrating on Zionism’s relations with fascism
cannot go in depth into a host of
topics. However that doesn’t
render it immune from all criticism either.
Lenni doesn’t seem to understand why a failure to even mention the two
Jewish escapees from Auschwitz, Rudolph Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, who wrote the
Auschwitz Protocols which helped save the Jews of Budapest, was a critical
mistake. The only conclusion I can draw
is that Lenni had not heard of them at the time he wrote his book. Kasztner’s primary crime was not his
testimony in favour of the Nazi war criminals, Krumey, Wisliceny et al. after
the war, but his failure to distribute the Protocols or pass on knowledge about
Auschwitz to Hungary’s Jews.
Kasztner’s reason for suppressing the Auschwitz Protocols were that the Zionists
had organised a ‘Train of the Prominents’, which left Budapest on June 30th
1944 containing primarily the Zionist and Jewish elite of Hungary, some 1684
people. As Israel Gutman of Yad Vashem finally
admitted that: ‘Kasztner
had been given a copy of the Auschwitz Protocols on April 29 1944 but that he
had ‘already made a decision, together
with other Jewish leaders, choosing not to disseminate the report in order not
to harm the negotiations with the Nazis.’ [Ruth Linn, Escaping Auschwitz – A
Culture of Not Forgetting citing Gutman, Shoah
population of around 650,000 was the last major Jewish community in Nazi
occupied Europe. In a lightning campaign
Eichmann deported, between May 15 and July 7th, 435,000 Jews to Auschwitz
and it was only because of the
widespread publicity that the Protocols obtained internationally, despite the
best efforts of Kasztner, Nathan Schwalb to suppress them, that the Hungarian
ruler Admiral Horthy, called a halt to the deportations.
This had absolutely nothing
to do with Rabbi Weissmandel of Bratislava, with whom Lenni developed an
obsession. Weissmandel sent out information,
based on the Protocols, to his religious friends in Switzerland urging the
bombing of the railway lines to Auschwitz and the gas chamber/crematoria. But even if this had occurred, it would have
been a second best. It was the
distribution of the Protocols to the Vatican, the Czech legation in Switzerland
and to various Christian and other groups which resulted in a ‘bombardment of
Horthy’s conscience’ with appeals from the Pope, the Sweden King Gustav and threats
from Roosevelt, which culminated in a
heavy air raid on Budapest on July 2nd. This led to Admiral Horthy, the Hungarian ruler,
ordering an end to the deportations.
Bombed railway lines could have been repaired, bombed gas chambers would
have meant killing Jews in pits, whereas stopping the deportations at source meant
some 200,000 Jews survived in Budapest.
Lenni has reinforced my point on Yad Vashem. In the 1950’s, at the time of the Kasztner
trial and with memories of the Holocaust still recent, memories were still
raw. But Lenni continued to treat Yad
Vashem as a dispassionate institute long after Gutman and others had been
absorbed into conveying its message that Israel is the guarantor against a repetition
of the Holocaust. I cited Gutman (see below)
on how the Jewish Councils had reinforced the powers of resistance as
demonstrating how he had been absorbed into the Zionism’s foundational myth of
Lenni seems to believe that a cursory reference to the fact that not all
members of the Jewish Councils (Judenrate) were collaborators suffices whereas
it is irrelevant whether or not all individual members collaborated or not. Clearly a minority were not but the Councils
were set up by the Nazis to make the process of extermination more efficient
and this was demonstrated in particular in Hungary where they provided the
lists that were used to round up the Jews.
As these were assimilated Jews, the Nazis would never have found them
but for the Judenrat.
Lenni describes how Rabbi Weissmandel approached Wisliceny, who the
Czechs hanged after the war, in November 1942 to ask how much money was needed
to put an end to the final solution. $2 million
was the response. (Zionism in the Age of
the Dictators – ZAD p.236). This was the
Europa Plan. Brenner then devotes the
succeeding pages to the Zionist refusal to transfer the money as an
illustration of their collaboration, but it is proof of nothing.
The prospect of this strategy succeeding was less than nil. In my article I cited the response of Vrba that
it was ‘truly hair brained’ and
holocaust historian John Conway that it was ‘far fetched and illusionary’|. Lenni responds to my question as to why the Nazis prioritised deportations
even when they needed the trains for the military that ‘Explaining “why the
Nazis prioritize deportations to the extermination camps” is a good topic, but
in another book. Had I answered that question it wouldn’t have given my readers
an extra word of knowledge about how and why Zionists behaved as they did
during the holocaust.’ Lenni misses
however the purpose of my question. If
the Nazis prioritised the deportation of Jews above their military needs, was
it likely that for $2m they would abandon the final solution? Especially when the seizure of the property
of the deportees was economically very advantageous.
As to adopting the politics of the Jewish orthodoxy, that is a fair
description of Lenni’s statement that Weissmandel’s Min HaMaitzer was ‘‘one of the most powerful indictments of
Zionism and the Jewish establishment’.
The Orthodox critique of Zionism is not something that Marxists or
socialists would be likely to agree with.
It contained no social or political critique but was an outpouring of
grief and anger. Powerful and moving yes,
but not a powerful indictment of Zionism.
Weissmandel was without doubt brave and courageous, but politically his
judgements were on a par with the Zionists.
Vrba described his Yeshivah in the middle of Bratislava, as ‘a circus
with Rabbi Weissmandel as its main, albeit tragicomic, clown’ (Vrba and Bestic,
I Cannot Forgive, 1997: 370–371). Weissmandel
trusted the Nazis not to harm the Yeshivah, whose students almost certainly
lost their lives in Auschwitz.
Weissmandel in a catastrophic error of judgement, entrusted to
Wisliceny, the butcher of Slovakian Jewry, a letter addressed to the ‘trustworthy’ people’ who had ‘enough guts and devotion to negotiate with
the SS as the Slovak group had done . . . ’ (Bauer 1994: Jews for Sale?
p.154). (Braham 1981: Politics of Genocide, 427; Vrba 1997: 378). The conclusion drawn by Chief Rabbi
Freudiger, was that he should establish relationships with Wisliceny (Arendt
1997: 196; Beit Zvi 2006: 311, 314; Porat 197). Randolph Braham described
Weissmandel’s letter as the ‘fatal advice of the Slovak Jewish leaders’ (Braham
The argument regarding
Argentina was simply whether lessons could be drawn from relations between
Zionism and Fascism in the 1930’s for any future anti-Semitic state, such as Argentina.
Lenni’s attempt to make
a point re the Mufti of Jerusalem’s role and whether he was a major or minor
war criminal are plain silly. The Mufti supported,
like other third world leaders, e.g. India’s Subra Chandra Bose, fascism
against the host colonial power. The
Mufti raised Muslim SS Divisions in Bosnia and Albania which, as Lenni accepts,
had nothing to do with the deportation of Jews.
Lenni raises the question of the Soviet Muslim SS Divisions. The Mufti played no part in their recruitment
but was a ‘spiritual mentor’ to people who, for the most part never heard of
Zionists use the Mufti to smear the Palestinian people with a wall devoted to
him at Yad Vashem and an article in the Holocaust
Encyclopaedia which is nearly as long as Hitler’s! However when it comes to major war criminals
then Walter Rauff, who had the blood of 100,000 people on his hands is more
worthy of the title. But Rauff was a
paid Israeli agent, who was helped to escape justice after the war. Lenni’s attempt to make something of this is
just silly point scoring.
suggestion that the Mufti’s role as ‘spiritual adviser’ to the Soviet SS troops
played a part in Stalin’s switch into supporting the Zionists and the creation
of the Israeli state after the war is ludicrous. It assumes that morality was a factor in Stalin’s
decision making. Stalin’s overnight
reversal to a pro-Zionist position had nothing to do with the Mufti and
everything to do with his belief that the establishment of the Israeli state
would result in Britain and the British Empire’s removal from the Middle East
theatre. Of course this merely
facilitated the US’s growing hegemony but Stalin was not the most intelligent
operator. He believed that the
pro-Stalinist Mapam and Ahdut ha- Avodah groups would give the Soviets
influence at the top of the Israeli state.
The Mufti’s role may well have had some influence on American leftists,
though I suspect that the enormity of the Holocaust dwarfed all such
considerations, but if so then it ill becomes Lenni to magnify the Mufti’s
Lenni Brenner Response 8th
Your “Reply to Lenni Brenner’s Response 22.12.14” only added more
nonsense to your previous follies. You started with
“No one doubts that Lenni’s tackling of the question of Nazi-Zionist
Collaboration was pioneering but unless it is to become fossilized it cannot
remain immune from debate by those who are broadly sympathetic.”
My “tackling” of Zionist-Nazi collaboration didn’t become “fossilized”
after ZITAOTD. In 2002 I edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration
with the Nazis.
Re debates: I invite friends and foes alike to challenge me. When
someone makes unreal criticisms, I cite their follies and invite them to try to
prove me wrong.
You announce that
“It is inevitable that in tackling Nazi-Zionist collaboration, one
cannot avoid the holocaust. Subjects such as the Europa plan inevitably
confront the mechanics and driving force of the holocaust, not least its
apparent lack of economic rationale. For example why in the middle of a war
they were losing, did the Nazis prioritize deportations to the extermination
In my preface I explained that
“Unless this book were to become an encyclopaedia, the material had
necessarily to be selected, with all due care, so that a rounded picture might
come forth. It is inevitable that the scholars of the several subjects dealt
with will complain that not enough attention had been devoted to their
particular specialties. And they will be correct, to be sure; whole books have
been written on particular facets of the broader problems dealt with herein,
and the reader is invited to delve further into the sources cited in the
I focused on Zionism’s relations with Nazism and Fascism. Explaining
“why the Nazis prioritize deportations to the extermination camps” is a good
topic, but in another book. Had I answered that question it wouldn’t have given
my readers an extra word of knowledge about how and why Zionists behaved as
they did during the holocaust.
I accept a widely shared explanation of Nazi prioritization of
deportations to camps. Nazi Germany wasn’t just a same ol’ same ol’ imperial
power. In Mein Kampf, published in 1925-26, Hitler complained:
“If at the beginning of the War and
during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the
people (the Marxists -LB) had been held under poison gas, as happened to
hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers in the field, the
sacrifices of millions at the front would not have been in vain.”
Murdering Jews was his obsession. Eventually some military, Claus von
Stauffenberg et al., realized this. They tried and failed to kill him and the
Perhaps there is a better explication, but l still don’t see how adding
any rationale for Hitler’s non-stop murders would have helped my readers better
understand the sundry Zionist betrayals of the Jews.
You say some Zionists explain away their dreadful Hitler era record
because, alas, they didn’t have a Jewish state. You then cite Israel’s working
with Argentina’s anti-Semites, “between 1976 and 1983,” as demonstrating that
Israel isn’t really “a refuge against anti-Semitism.” Again, had I dealt with
Argentina, it would have added nothing to my readers’ factual knowledge of
Zionism’s adaptation to Nazism, 1933-45.
Your challenge of Zionists’ fantasy 30s-40s state is the ultimate in
woulda. Their never-happened Nazi era state woulda been heroic. You counter
that by insisting that it woulda been as bad as Argentina-era Israel. But
neither they nor you can provide tangible proof of how a never-happened state
woulda for-sure worked.
Exposing Israel’s Argentina crimes is legitimate in an article devoted
to that topic. Instead you cited them in proclaiming that my book, documenting
30s-40s Zionist politics, is a many times “failure” because it didn’t indulge
in conjectures about a fantasy state.
You insist that I use Mortimer’s review “as a shield from criticism….
Mortimer is not an expert on either Zionism or the holocaust.” In fact he was
and is a scholar specializing in Middle Eastern politics and very knowledgeable
about Israeli diplomacy.
Re the Holocaust, he interviewed me before doing his review. Then,
expecting to be attacked for praising the book, he took no chances. He checked
my sources before saying that it is “carefully documented.”
Of course I use his review to promote the book, but I don’t use it or
anything else to protect myself against criticism. Indeed I urge folks to
challenge me re doubts they might have about it. I’m writing an article re
American Jewish capitalists and I close the Intro with two requests:
“1) Please correct any errors. 2) Please send me further
documentation re specifically Zionist donors.”
You added more to your attack vs. Yad Vashem, but didn’t answer my
question re my quotes from one of its scholars: “Do you have a problem with
those quotes? Instead you complained that Yisrael Gutman argued elsewhere that
“The Judenrat reinforced the Jews’ power of endurance.” Whatever he wrote on
other occasions, the fact remains that you couldn’t answer “Do you have a
problem with those quotes?”
You attack me for “treating Yad Vashem as a dispassionate, neutral
academic institution dedicated to Holocaust research, rather than a propaganda
I did no such thing. In its early decades, the Holocaust Memorial Museum
organized symposiums of scholars from Zionist factions that had been Nazi-era
rivals. There was nothing “dispassionate” or “neutral” about such duels. Each
side presented evidence of disgraceful behavior by their rivals.
Labour Zionists denounced the Zionist-Revisionists for having sent youths
to Mussolini’s naval academy. Revisionists countered that fact by castigating
the Laborites for breaking the anti-Nazi boycott by organizing the World
Zionist Organization’s Ha avara trade agreement with Germany.
The Lenni Brenner who treats “Yad Vashem as a dispassionate, neutral
academic institution… rather than a propaganda institute” only exists in the
space between your ears. I and other anti-Zionists legitimately quote such Yad
Vashem scholars and Nazi-era documents they bring to light, without hailing it
as “a dispassionate, neutral academic institution.”
I will not waste my time re your denunciation of me re the Judenrats. I
will only repeat that I focused on Zionists’ roles in them. I wasn’t
writing an encyclopaedia article on the judenrats.
You claim “Brenner uncritically adopted the politics of Weissmandel and
the Jewish Orthodoxy….how else is one to describe his statement that
Weissmandel’s Min Hamaitzer was ‘one of the most powerful indictments of
Zionism and the Jewish establishment’?
Weissmandel wrote about his dealings with Zionists in Nazi-occupied
Europe and abroad. By your pretzel logic, quoting him re Zionist misdeeds
extends into endorsement of Orthodox politics. Really? If I quote you re
Israel’s Argentina crimes, would that mean that I also “uncritically” adopt your
denunciations of ZITAOTD?
I cited his thinking beyond Orthodoxy’s traditional bribery: “He
realized immediately that with money it was possible to mobilize the Slovak
partisans.” You proclaim that “there is no evidence for this other than
Weissmandel’s own post-war account.” If you think he lied re possibly
funding partisans, provide evidence proving that he made that up after
But let’s go the whole route: If he lied about his thinking re the
partisans, and I believed him, how does even that mean that I also adapted to
Orthodoxy’s bribery fantasy?
You don’t know when to stop:
“Lenni says that I indict him for having ‘Uncritically accepted the
argument that Adolf Eichmann’s ‘Blood for Trucks’ offer could have saved
Hungarian Jewry.’…. Why, in a book on Nazi-Zionist Collaboration, would Brenner
devote three pages to the Blood for Trucks deal, if it had no chance of
Later on you performed a half-step retreat: “I’m happy to withdraw the
word ‘uncritically’ as in ‘uncritically accepted’.”
Tony, Britain is an excellent place to study English. Plainly I wrote
about what sundry Zionists thought about Eichmann’s offer. Not even one
syllable in the book hints that I thought, critically or uncritically, that
Eichmann’s deal could succeed in any way, shape or form.
You go on yet again re Vrba and Wetzler but you ultimately report that
Weissmandel sent their Auschwitz Protocols abroad. Now look again at what I
wrote on page 255:
“On 16 May 1944 Rabbi Weissmandel had sent detailed diagrams of Auschwitz and
maps of the railway lines through Slovakia to Silesia to the
Jewish organizations in Switzerland demanding ‘absolutely, and in the
strongest terms,’ that they call upon the Allies to bomb the death camp and the
railways. His proposal reached Weizmann in London, who approached the British
Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, in an extremely hesitant manner. Eden wrote to
the Secretary for Air on 7 July:
‘Dr Weizmann admitted that there seemed to be little enough that we
could do to stop these horrors, but he suggested that something might be done
to stop the operation of the death camp by bombing the railway lines…and
bombing the camps themselves.’
A memorandum by Moshe Shertok to the British Foreign Office, written
four days later, conveys the same hangdog scepticism:
‘The bombing of the death camps is…hardly likely to achieve the
salvation of the victims to any appreciable extent. Its physical effects can
only be the destruction of plant and personnel, and possibly the hastening of
the end of those already doomed. The resulting dislocation of the German
machinery for systematic wholesale murder may possibly cause delay in the
execution of those still in Hungary (over 300,000 in and around Budapest). This
in itself is valuable as far as it goes. But it may not go very far, as other
means of extermination can be quickly improvised.’”
Suppose I had written “Weissmandel had sent detailed diagrams of
Auschwitz and maps of the railway lines through Slovakia to Silesia,” which he
got from Vrba and Wetzler, two escapees from the camp, to “the Jewish
organizations in Switzerland.”
That extra info wouldn’t have added anything important to the
documentation of Weizmann and Shertok’s sheepish pleas to bomb Auschwitz.
“How can one possibly condemn the collaboration of Kasztner and the Jewish
Agency and omit all mention of the Auschwitz Protocols?”
My readers didn’t have to know that the Protocols were the source of
Weissmandel’s alert to Kasztner. All they needed to know was that Kasztner didn’t
tell Hungary’s Jews to resist being sent to Auschwitz, which he knew was a
Your Reply defends your insistence that the Mufti was only “a minor war
criminal.” You acknowledge his meeting Mussolini in 1941and then you cite
Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow’s meetings with him, “true it was before the
What your point? Were you trying to show that his meeting with Mussolini
was no worse than their meetings? That doesn’t work. Their meeting with Arab
Libya’s despotic ruler certifies them to be political degenerates and the Mufti
meeting Mr. Nice Guy likewise proclaims him a degenerate.
You cite a historian who “points out that the Mufti’s radio broadcasts
‘produced no tangible effects.’” But you omit reference to his asking Hitler to
support Arab revolts against Britain and France. Surely he wanted to play a
leading role in his proposed uprisings. Hitler said no to this, yet the Mufti
still signed onto the Nazi team, wherein he could only do what its coach
allowed him to do.
You acknowledge that “In Bosnia, where the Muslim clerics had issued 3
fatwas denouncing the Nazi/Croat treatment of the Jews, the Nazis called on the
Mufti to counter this, which he did.” You say that
“Muslim SS units the Mufti recruited played no role in the deportation
of the Jews. This resulted in these units being sent to France for ‘retraining’
on the Jewish question, where they promptly rebelled and joined the
Good for Them! But he didn’t order their rebellion. He told the Germans
that it was their unfortunate reaction to the Nazis’ simultaneous alliance with
the Chetniks, Serbian nationalists who murdered Yugoslav Muslims. Then he went
on recruiting ever more Muslims into the SS.
In 1943, Himmler organized SS units composed of Muslim Soviet POWs. At a
December 14 Berlin gathering, the Mufti became their “spiritual
leader.” Those Muslim SS fought against the Soviets, and helped murder
thousands during the 1944 Polish revolt.
In 1947, Stalin, anti-Zionist prior to the war, supported creating a
Zionist state. That the “spiritual leader” of the SS who fought his
troops was a leading figure in the post-war Palestinian struggle certainly
played an important part in Stalin’s transition to pro-Zionism.
Knowledge of the Mufti’s anti-Soviet role was a prime factor in
generating support for Israel among American leftists. No one then dared to
claim that he was only a “minor” war criminal.
But thanks for culminating the diminution of the Mufti’s criminal status
with your absurd exposure of me:
“Inflating his importance is something the Zionists have a vested
interest in doing. I’m surprised that, for the sake of ego, Lenni Brenner
should wish to join them.”
You want folks to believe that I’m the greatest political trapeze artist
who ever lived. First your invented “Brenner uncritically adopted the
politics of the Jewish Orthodoxy.” Then he zipped thru the air to the Yad
Vashem to treat it “as a dispassionate, neutral academic institution dedicated
to Holocaust research, rather than a propaganda institute.” Finally your
Brenner invention ends his circus act by joining up with the Zionists “for the
sake of ego.”
Tony, by now our readers are asking themselves what possessed you to
write your screed about my many ‘failures.’ I’ll close with the answer to their
ZITAOTD received Mortimer’s Times review and four favorable pages devoted
to it in Ken Livingstone’s You Can’t Say That: Memoirs. Envy of their
attention to it motivated your Holy Land Studies article because you
know one certainty: Tony Greenstein knows more about the Holocaust than Lenni
Brenner or anyone else who ever has or ever will tread upon this planet.
You do know a lot about n-z collab. If you bail out of your obsession re
my alleged failures, you could educate the public about Zionism’s crimes.
give ‘em hell,
Ken Livingstone – You Can’t Say That: Memoirs [Paperback],
We were denounced by the Board of Deputies of British Jews but this did
not stop us campaigning to get the Labour party conference to recognise the PLO
as the “sole legitimate leadership” of the Palestinian people. Labour
right-wingers were horrified at the prospect of recognising Arafat’s PLO but
George Galloway, then chair of the Scottish Labour party, got a motion onto the
conference agenda. There was a huge struggle for the votes of each trade union,
with Israeli embassy officials lobbying strenuously, but to no avail as the
Labour party recognised the PLO by a margin of just I per cent. A decade later
Yasser Arafat would shake hands with the Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin on the White
Relations with the Board of Deputies worsened the following year when
Yitzhak Shamir became Israel’s prime minister and Labour Herald interviewed
Lenni Brenner, who detailed the history of Zionism’s right wing led by Vladimir
Jabotinsky, who died in 1940. Among his main supporters were Menachem Begin and
Yitzhak Shamir, who became the operational commander of the Stern Gang, the
militant Zionist group that assassinated Count Bernadotte, the UN Special
Mediator in Palestine in 1948. Brenner argued that Nazi documents show that the
Stern Gang visited the German embassy in Istanbul in January l94l and offered
to ‘establish [Israel] on a totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the
German Reich’ and in exchange the Stern Gang would “actively take part in the
war on Germany’s side.” Hitler rejected the offer but when Begin came to power
he issued stamps to commemorate Avraham Stern.
I was shocked by the revelations in Lenni Brenner’s book Zionism in the
Age of the Dictators, about the role of Israel’s respected Labour party
leaders. Lenni’s book claimed that the chair of the World Zionist Organization
and first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, wanted “the transfer of Jewish
youth to Palestine rather than . . . equal rights in Germany.” Brenner’s book
said some German Zionists sent a memo to Hitler on 21 June 1933 saying that “we
too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the
Jewish group” and that race separation was “wholly to the good.” That month
Labour Zionist Chaim Arlosoroff negotiated a pact with the Nazis to set up a
trading company, Ha’avara, to sell Nazi goods, thus undermining the boycott
organized by trade unionists and communists.
The World Zionist Congress had rejected the boycott by a vote of 240-48,
and Ha’avara profits apparently provided 60 per cent of all investment in
Palestine between 1933 and 1939.This fitted Hitler’s 1932 policy of “Jews to
Palestine” and his deputy Heydrich wrote in 1935, “We must separate Jews in two
categories. . . Zionists and those who favour being assimilated. The Zionists
adhere to a strict racial position . . . our good wishes. . . go with them.” To
encourage Zionists, the Nuremberg laws in 1935 allowed only two flags to be
flown in Germany, the Swastika and the blue and white Zionist banner. Rabbis
were ordered to conduct their sermons in Hebrew – the language Zionism had
recreated for Israel – rather than Yiddish.
In the 1930s Zionists were viewed as eccentric by the 90 per cent of
Jews who wanted acceptance in the countries where they lived but Brenner
claimed they persuaded the UK Board of Deputies and its US equivalent not to
boycott Nazi goods. While Jewish communists pressed ahead with mass
demonstrations against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts the Board of Deputies
advised UK Jews not to heckle Mosley as “Jews have no quarrel with fascism.”
Some Zionists opposed Jews fighting fascism in Spain and in 1937 the
Nazi-Zionist link was strengthened when Labour Zionist Feivel Polkes agreed
with Adolf Eichmann to provide intelligence, support German policy in the
Middle East and find oil for Germany in return for allowing German Jews to go
to Palestine. In Palestine Labour Zionists began excluding Arabs from working
on Jewish-owned projects or land.
With the support of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, Chaim Weizmann
warned in 1935 that “the Zionist movement would have to choose between the
immediate rescue of Jews and the establishment of [Israel].” So two-thirds of
all German Jews who applied to emigrate to Israel were refused. When Jews in
the Warsaw ghetto sent a cable to Jewish leaders to get the Allies to bomb the
death camps, US Rabbi Stephen Wise declined because he did not want to “disturb
the war effort . . . by stormy protests,” and when the US Congress was
considering a bill to establish a Rescue Commission Rabbi Wise testified
against the bill because it did not mention Palestine.
And of course the Labour Zionists cannot be blamed for not anticipating
that Nazism would become the greatest evil in human history, but however
well-intentioned their motives it was a catastrophic error of judgment not to
throw all the resources of Zionism into the campaign against Nazism. Those in
power after the war were understandably defensive about this record. In
1953 the Israeli government sued Malchiel Gruenwald for criminal defamation
when he exposed this history. The Israeli Supreme Court, quoting the view of
one Zionist that the Hungarian Jews they failed to rescue were “without any
ideological backbone,” ruled that it was right “to risk losing the many in
order to save the few . . . it has always been our Zionist tradition to select
the few out of the many for Palestine.”
Many British Jews were traumatized by the revelations in Lenni Brenner’s
book. Lenni was denounced and Ted Knight and I were abused for reviewing it in
Labour Herald. A public meeting at which Lenni discussed his book was attacked
by Zionists, who hospitalized one of the platform speakers. Brenner’s book
helped form my view of Zionism and its history and so I was not going to be
silenced by smears of anti-Semitism whenever I criticized Israeli government
Greenstein – Reply to Lenni Brenner’s Response 22.12.14.
I did not expect that my critique
of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators
[ZAD] would be welcomed, however the tone of the reply suggests that Lenni
Brenner takes any criticism personally.
No one doubts that Lenni’s tackling of the question of Nazi-Zionist
Collaboration was pioneering but unless it is to become fossilised it cannot
remain immune from debate by those who are broadly sympathetic.
It is inevitable that in tackling
Nazi-Zionist collaboration, one cannot avoid the holocaust. Subjects such as the Europa plan inevitably
confront the mechanics and driving force of the holocaust, not least its
apparent lack of economic rationale. For
example why in the middle of a war they were losing, did the Nazis prioritise
deportations to the extermination camps?
One concrete example I dealt with was the role and place of the
Judenrats (Jewish Councils).
A standard argument of the
Zionists is to accept that their record was not a good one but that they were
relatively powerless and didn’t have a Jewish State. That is the relevance of the Argentinian
example. Is a Jewish State a refuge
against anti-Semitism? This is one of Zionism’s
most powerful arguments.
Lenni Brenner uses Edward
Mortimer’s Review in The Times as a
shield from criticism. It is wearing
thin. The Review was certainly a coup
but Mortimer is not an expert on either Zionism or the holocaust.
Regarding Yad Vashem Lenni cites Yisrael Gutman and his challenge to
those who believed that the Jewish fighters should have deferred to the
political parties. Gutman was simply reiterating
what Mordechai Anielwicz and Antek Zukerman had already said [Jews of Warsaw 1939-1943, pp. 143, 441
fn. 23, 1982] Yad Vashem was effectively
founded in 1942 during the Holocaust (which the Zionists were denying was
happening). Yad Vashem’s historians have
seized on the Ghetto Uprising, as the prime example of Jewish Resistance (which
they magnify) whilst at the same time
exonerating Warsaw’s Judenrat. The
suicide of its Chairman Adam Czerniakow in protest at the first Aktion,
provided an opportunity of marrying the ‘good’ Judenrat with the
appeared in 1968 in a luxurious edition with photostats of the Polish originals
whereas the diarist of the Ghetto, Emmanuel Ringelblum’s diaries were delayed
indefinitely. [Post-Ugandan Zionism on
Trial, p.334, Shabtai beit-Zvi].
Gutman was one of the
most important Yad Vashem historians and editor of The Encyclopaedia of the
Holocaust who, despite the Judenräte helping to round up Warsaw’s
Jews for deportation, argued that ‘The Judenrat reinforced the Jews’ power of
endurance’ [Ruth Linn, Escaping Auschwitz – A Culture of Not Forgetting,
Yad Vashem consciously
sought to erase the names of Vrba and Wetzler, the Jewish escapees from
Auschwitz, in the Encyclopaedia Holocaust,
of which he was Editor in chief. They
weren’t Zionists. (Linn, p.60) It wasn’t until 2001 that an account of their
escape was finally included in Gutman’s Hebrew writings for school students
Regarding the Judenrat, to use his own phrase, Brenner’s response to my
criticism is pathetic. Not only does he
concentrate in ZAD on the individual chairman of the Judenrat – the ‘bad’
Rumkowski and Gens and the ‘good’ Czerniakow but we are told that the ‘moral
atmosphere’ (a curious phrase) within them was corrupting. The obvious question is why? Was it the preponderance of Zionists or was
it the context within which the Judenrats were operating?
The attempt by Yad Vashem to restore the reputation of the Judenrats and
the bitter debate between their defenders and critics, Hannah Arendt and Raul
Hilberg in particular, simply passes Brenner by. As I show in my article, Nazi leaders were
explicit that the Judenrat were an integral, indeed vital part of the
extermination process. As Hilberg put
it, regarding their welfare activities ‘The Councils served the
Nazis with their “good” qualities as well as the “bad”’.’ Without a conscious
attempt to break this vicious circle, as in Minsk or Rohatyn, then even the
‘good’ Judenrat inevitably collaborated.
Brenner cites the forced labour of the poor and the ability of the rich
to avoid labour conscription in Warsaw, even though the Warsaw Judenrat had a
The Europa Plan was based
on a coincidence. The bribe paid to Wisliceny
in Slovakia to halt the deportations was apparently successful (whereas it was the
result of Vatican and internal pressure).
The view of Vrba, that it was ‘truly hair-brained’ and holocaust
historian John Conway that it was ‘far fetched and illusionary’ are nearer the
mark. For $2 m the Nazis were going to
stop the holocaust! In this respect the
Nazis were incorruptible. Money would,
however, have bought arms for the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance, false ID and similar
I have omitted the crazy
advice of Weissmandel to Rabbi Freudiger of Hungary that he could trust Wisliceny
and that he should follow the Slovakian Judenrat and negotiate with the
SS. Quite rightly Yehuda Bauer
criticises Weissmandel’s letter in Jews
for Sale. even if he does so for his own sectarian
reasons, support for Kasztner’s negotiations.
it is ‘bullshit’ to suggest that he adopted the politics of the Jewish
Orthodoxy.” But how else is one to
describe his statement that Weissmandel’s Min
Hamaitzer was ‘one of the most powerful indictments of
Zionism and the Jewish establishment’? [ZAD,
Lenni says that I indict him
for having ‘Uncritically accepted the argument that Adolf Eichmann’s ‘Blood for
Trucks’ offer could have saved Hungarian Jewry.’ and presumably the statement that ‘Brenner
too was deceived by Brand’s criticisms at Kasztner’s trial that the Zionists
had sabotaged it.’ Apparently I have
converted Brand’s hopes in 1944 into uncritically ‘hoping in 1983 that
Eichmann’s proposals could have saved Hungary’s Jews. This is just playing with words.
Why, in a book on Nazi-Zionist
Collaboration, would Brenner devote three pages to the Blood for Trucks deal, if
it had no chance of succeeding? After
all Stalin was clearly going to reject a proposal aimed at splitting off the
Soviet Union from the West. [for
Hitler’s faith, till the very end that the Allies would break with the USSR see
The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich, p. 1304, William Shirer].
Contrary to what Lenni
asserts, Brand clearly did believe that the mission stood a chance of
succeeding. In the Kasztner trial he
testified that ‘the inevitable result of his failure to return to Hungary’ had
been the renewed extermination of Hungarian’s Jews (which in fact had never
stopped). [Perfidy, p.196, Ben Hecht,] Indeed Brand came to believe that he
personally bore the blame and he cursed the Jewish leadership because of this.
[p.202] Ladislaus Lob, who was on Kasztner’s train described how Brand ‘accused
both the Allies and the Jewish leadership in Palestine of deliberately
betraying him.’ [Dealing with Satan, p.71, Ladislaus Lob]
None of this makes any
sense but I’m happy to withdraw the word ‘uncritically’ as in ‘uncritically
accepted’. In May 1964, while he was in
Frankfurt testifying at the trial of Krumey and Hunsche, Brand confessed to a
‘terrible mistake’ in passing Eichmann’s offer to the British. It now realised that ‘Himmler sought to sow
suspicion among the Allies as a preparation for his much-desired Nazi-Western
coalition against Moscow.’ NYT 21.5.64, Braham, Politics of
Genocide, p. 1015.
Lenni also considers it
‘bullshit’ to assert that he personally blames Kasztner, leader of Hungarian
Zionism and head of its ‘Rescue Committee’ (Vada’ah) for the rapid
extermination of Hungarian Jewry whilst ignoring the role of the Jewish
Agency.’ He cites the role of Moshe
Shertok and Chaim Weizmann as proof of this.
However the reference to Shertok and Weizmann is in the context of their
half-hearted appeal to the British to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz.
Lenni concludes that the
Labour Zionists didn’t regard Kasztner as a traitor and that the most important
aspect of the Kasztner Trial was its revelation of the philosophy of the WZO
and ‘selectivity.’ Both of these are
true, but irrelevant to the question as to what was the role of the Jewish
Agency in Hungary, i.e. what did it do (or not do).
Shoshana Barri’s ‘The
Question of Kastner’s Testimonies on Behalf of Nazi War Criminals’ [Journal of
Israeli History, Vol. 18 1997) suggested that the Jewish Agency was directly
responsible for Kasztner testifying on behalf of Becher and the other Nazis at
Nuremberg. The article was printed 15
years after ZAD but its central contention, that the Jewish Agency had given
Kasztner the green light to testify, was widely suspected at the time of the
trial. Eliahu Dobkin of the Jewish
Agency Executive was directly questioned as to whether he had given Kasztner
his authorisation. Since Kasztner was a
representative of the Jewish Agency in Budapest and Va’adah was a Jewish Agency
Committee, coupled with the fact that Kasztner spent much of 1945-48 in
Nuremberg testifying on behalf of these war criminals, then the role of the
Jewish Agency was highly pertinent. Yet
Brenner doesn’t mention this. The focus
is on Kasztner as an individual.
Brenner says he doesn’t understand
why the Auschwitz Protocols, Rudolph Vrba and Alfred Wetzler are relevant. I would have thought that this was
obvious. It is the missing link in his
account of Kasztner’s collaboration.
Vrba and Wetzler escaped from Auschwitz and produced a detailed account
of the extermination process, the gas chambers and the maps of
Auschwitz/Birkenau that Weissmandel sent abroad. The Protocols were conclusive evidence of the
final solution, yet Kasztner suppressed them.
Even Yisrael Gutman finally admitted that ‘‘Kasztner was given a copy of the
report on 29 April 1944… but at that time he had already made a decision,
together with other Jewish leaders, choosing not to disseminate the report in
order not to harm the negotiations with the Nazis.’ [Ruth Linn, p.72, Shoah Vezikaron] How can one possibly condemn the collaboration of Kasztner and the
Jewish Agency and omit all mention of the Auschwitz Protocols? As Vrba wrote in the Daily Herald (February
Did the Judenrat
(or the Judenverrat) in Hungary tell their Jews what was awaiting them? No, they remained silent and for this silence
some of their leaders – for example Dr. R. Kasztner – bartered their own lives
and the lives of 1684 other ‘prominent’ Jews directly from Eichmann.
The Jewish Agency in Istanbul and
Jerusalem and Nathan Schwalb of Hehalutz in Geneva likewise suppressed the
Protocols but they had circulated too widely for this to be successful. The Vatican, the Czech consulate in Geneva,
different Christian groups in Hungary, the Swiss press and finally the BBC, had
copies of the Protocols. When the BBC broadcast
them and Eisenhower bombed Budapest Horthy’s reaction was to swiftly end the
deportations on July 8th.
This isn’t about the book that Brenner ‘coulda, shoulda have
written’. It is about the one he did
Brenner finishes off with a
rhetorical flourish concerning the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin
al-Husseini. Full of sound and fury it
says nothing. Apparently the objection is
to my description of the Mufti as a ‘minor war criminal’. Stung by criticisms of his book, Brenner lashes
out wildly playing the ‘anti-Semitism’ card.
Apparently meeting Mussolini in
November 1941 is proof that the Mufti was a major war criminal. True it was before the war, but Chaim
Weizmann met him four times (so many times that in his autobiography, Trial
& Error, he states it was only 3 times).
Nahum Sokolow, then President of the WZO also took the opportunity to
meet him. [Meir Michaelis, Mussolini and
In my essay I cite Tom Segev who
points out that the concentration on the Mufti by the Zionists has nothing to
do with the scale of his iniquity but is an attempt to tar the Palestinians
with his brush. The person who has
studied this in most detail is Professor Gilbert Achcar in ‘The Arabs and the
Holocaust’. Achcar does not spare the
Mufti but nor does he indulge in Brenner’s wild demagogy.
Achcar points out that the
Mufti’s radio broadcasts ‘produced no tangible effects.’ (p.143) Was William
Joyce, ‘Lord Haw Haw’ a major or minor war criminal? Achcar cites Stephen Schwartz, a neo-Con
ideologue, as accepting that the Muslim SS units the Mufti recruited played no
role in the deportation of the Jews.
This resulted in these units being sent to France for ‘retraining’ on
the Jewish question, where they promptly rebelled and joined the Resistance. The only case of a rebellion in the Waffen
SS. In Bosnia, where the Muslim clerics
had issued 3 fatwas denouncing the Nazi/Croat treatment of the Jews, the Nazis
called on the Mufti to counter this, which he did. But his ‘primary motivation in this case was
not anti-Semitic but, Islamic and defensive.
His primary purpose in creating the Handschar and Kama divisions was to enable
the Muslim population to defend themselves against the Serbian Chetniks. (pp.
Not one Jew was handed over to
the Nazis in Albania, the only European country where the number of Jews
increased during the War. Achcar speaks
of the ‘indirect complicity in Nazi crimes’ of the Mufti. This is based on his radio broadcasts and
letters he wrote attempting to block Jewish emigration to Palestine. The more serious charges, of links with
Eichmann and visiting Auschwitz are based on a single witness at Nuremberg and
are unproven. (p.145) Achcar concludes
that the Mufti’s ‘primary motivation was to block Jewish immigration to
Palestine’, something which all Arab nationalists agreed with but which was
utterly reprehensible and anti-Semitic in being directed at the Nazis, given
the final solution. Achcar accepts that
the Mufti did not embrace National Socialist doctrine, at least in its entirety
but that he was undoubtedly anti-Semitic. (pp. 150-151)
To sum up – the Mufti was
undoubtedly a reactionary leader of the Palestinian Arabs, imposed on them by a
Zionist British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel. The Zionists consistently favoured him and
dealt with him in preference to the Nationalist Istiqlal Party. The Mufti was without doubt anti-Semitic but
this was a consequence of the dispossession of the Palestinians rather than any
embrace of fascism per se. The question
is whether the Mufti is a minor or major war criminal. Clearly Lenni Brenner believes the latter, at
least for polemical purposes. Presumably
therefore he fully merits the second longest article in The
Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust only slightly shorter
than that of Hitler and greater than that of Himmler and Goebbels combined.
Given that no Jews died directly as a consequence
of the Mufti’s collaboration with the Nazis, who would Lenni Brenner classify
as major and minor war criminals?
Clearly Hitler, Himmler, Goering, Heydrich, Rosenberg, Hoess and the
commandants of the extermination and concentration camps come under that
category and the members of Eichmann’s Judenkommando (Danneker, Krumey,
Wisliceny, Alois Brunner) and the doctors (Brand, Mengele) and the
industrialists of Krupp, IG Farben, IBM et al.
Compared to these the Mufti is indeed very small beer. Walter Rauf, who tried to set up an
extermination camp in Kairoun Tunisia and who was responsible for the murder of
100,000 Jews was indeed a major war criminal but one whom Israel protected and
The idea that you can gauge who was and who
is not a major war criminal by how much they were paid is not worthy of
consideration. The Mufti was a failure
by any measure and the major damage he did was to the Palestinians. Inflating his importance is something the
Zionists have a vested interest in doing.
I’m surprised that, for the sake of ego, Lenni Brenner should wish to
No mincing words: Your article, “Zionist-Nazi Collaboration and the
Holocaust: A Historical Aberration? Lenni Brenner Revisited,” in the 13.
2. 2014 issue of Holy Land Studies, is pathetic.
Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators was published in 1983. Your critique of it was published 31 years
later. Obviously you weren’t rushing to meet a deadline. If you were writing a
responsible study, you would have first asked me to explain why I wrote what I
did re the issues you raise in your essay, and why I didn’t treat other things
you feel are important. Then, better informed, you might have written a valid
The book has “major shortcomings.” You denounce “Brenner’s… failure to
analyze the Holocaust in depth,” without giving even a hint re what an in depth
analysis would entail. The scholarly world will dismiss this as reviewing the
book I ‘coulda, shoulda’ written, instead of factually exposing errors in the
book I actually wrote.
A bazillion things can be said about the Holocaust, but the book’s topic
was Zionism’s relationship with Nazism. It took me years to research that. I
was under no obligation to go beyond that, in all directions, to analyze the
Holocaust in depth, whatever that means.
ZITAOTD’s documentation of its defined topic got favorable reviews from
London’s Times and other journals, world-wide. None denounced it for not
analyzing the Holocaust. Be certain that its reputation will survive your giant
You complain that, “in the case of the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum
Yad Vashem,” I “produced no analysis of this official Israeli memorial
project.” My book was about Zionism’s role during the Hitler era, not
about the Yad Vashem’s politics after the creation of Israel.
You insist that I treated the “Yad Vashem as a dispassionate, neutral
academic institution dedicated to Holocaust research, rather than a propaganda
institute.” But I didn’t discuss the Yad Vashem. On page 204 I quoted “Yisrael
Gutman, one of the scholars at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Institute,” re
war-time Poland’s Zionist leaders:
“It is true that some of the leaders had good reason to fear for their
personal safety in a country which had fallen to the Nazis. At the same time
there was in the departure of these leaders an element of panic, which was not
counterbalanced by an attempt to concern themselves with their replacement and
the continuation of their former activities by others … Those left behind
were mostly second or third rank leaders, who were not always capable of
tackling the acute problems of the times, and they also lacked vital liaison
contacts with the Polish public and its leadership. The leaders who remained
included some who held aloof from underground activity and tried to obliterate
traces of their past.”
On page 209 I wrote about how
“At the Conference on Manifestations of Jewish Resistance at the Yad
Vashem Remembrance Authority in April 1968, bitter words were exchanged between
those historians who had partaken in the struggle and those who still sought to
defend the passive approach. Yisrael Gutman challenged one of the latter, Dr. Nathan
I then quoted Gutman:
“Do you believe that if we had waited until the end and acted according
to the advice of the party leaders, the revolt would still have taken place, or
that there would then have been no point in it whatsoever? I believe there
would have been no revolt at all and I challenge Dr Eck to offer convincing
proof that the party leaders intended at all that there should be an uprising.”
Do you have a problem with those quotes? Clearly I wasn’t passing
judgement, pro or con, on the Yad Vashem. I only mentioned it to give my
readers the when, where and why of Gutman’s remarks.
You also fret about my “failure to understand that the Judenräte
(singular Judenrat; German for ‘Jewish council’), were an integral part of the
extermination process.”You wrote that
“Brenner failed to analyze the role of the Judenräte within the process
of the extermination of the Jews. Instead he focussed on the character of their
individual members. ‘Some scholars have shown that not all leaders or members
of the Jewish Councils collaborated’ (Brenner 1983: 205). This is true but
irrelevant. What was important was not the subjective intentions of Judenräte
In fact I wrote that
“Some scholars have shown that not all leaders or members of the Jewish
Councils collaborated, but the moral atmosphere within them was extremely
corrupting. Bernard Goldstein, in his memoir The Stars Bear Witness,
described the Warsaw Council in the early months before the establishment of
the ghetto…. ‘the operation very quickly became corrupt … rich Jews paid fees
running into thousands of zlotys to be freed from forced labour. The Judenrat
collected such fees in great quantity, and sent poor men to the working
battalions in place of the wealthy.’”
Can’t you read English? My quote from Goldstein clearly went beyond “the
subjective intentions of Judenräte members.”
that I believed “that Europe’s Jews could” have been “saved through bribery,
Weissmandel’s Europa Plan in particular. Brenner uncritically adopted the
politics of the Jewish Orthodoxy.”
‘one of the most powerful indictments of
the Jewish establishment’.
That’s bullshit. Dov-Ber Weissmandel believed that it was possible to
bribe some top Nazis to slow down the extermination. But I added that
“Weissmandel realized: ‘the money is needed here – by us and not by
them. For with money here, new ideas can be formulated.’ Weissmandel was
thinking beyond just bribery. He realized immediately that with money it was
possible to mobilize the Slovak partisans.” (p. 236)
That’s far from endorsing “the politics of the Jewish Orthodoxy.” Its a
reasonable presumption that money sent by Zionists in Palestine to Weissmandel
might have been used for things well beyond bribes.
You indict me for “uncritically accepted the argument that Adolf
Eichmann’s ‘Blood for Trucks’ offer could have saved Hungarian Jewry.”
I cited what Zionist Joel Brand thought might come of Eichmann’s
proposal to let some Jews live in exchange for Britain and the U.S. giving Hitler
trucks to use against the Soviets:
“Brand never had any illusions that the Eichmann proposition would be
accepted by the Western Allies. However, he believed that, as with the earlier
negotiations with Wisliceny, some serious SS officers wanted to invest in their
own future. Live Jews were now a negotiable currency. Brand hoped that it would
be possible to negotiate for more realistic arrangements or, at least, to decoy
the Nazis into thinking that a deal could be made. Possibly the extermination program
would be slowed down or even suspended while an accord was being worked out.
However, the British were not interested in exploring the possibilities of
Eichmann’s scheme and notified Moscow of Brand’s mission; Stalin naturally
insisted that the offer be rejected.” (p. 254)
You converted Brand’s hopes, in 1944, into my “uncritically” hoping, in
1983, when ZITAOTD was published, that Eichmann’s proposal could have
saved Hungary’s Jews. Shame on you!
You have me “personally blaming Rudolf Kasztner, the leader of Hungarian
Zionism and the Jewish Agency’s ‘Rescue Committee’ (Va’ada) in Budapest, for
the rapid extermination of Hungarian Jewry whilst ignoring the role of the
This is more bullshit. Chapter 25, “Hungary, The Crime Within The
Crime,” details the roles of Moshe Shertok, the head of the World Zionist
Organization’s Jewish Agency’s Political Department, and Chaim Weizmann, the
WZO’s President. Then the chapter ends with the exact opposite of blaming the
Hungarian disaster personally on Kasztner:
“That one Zionist betrayed the Jews would not be of any moment: no
movement is responsible for its renegades. However, Kasztner was never regarded
as a traitor by the Labour Zionists. On the contrary, they insisted, that if he
was guilty, so were they…. by far the most important aspect of the
Kasztner-Gruenwald affair was its full exposure of the working philosophy of
the World Zionist Organization throughout the entire Nazi era: the
sanctification of the betrayal of the many in the interest of a selected
immigration to Palestine.” (pp. 263-264)
You kicked up a fuss about my “failure to mention Rudolph Vrba and
Alfred Wetzler, who escaped from Auschwitz on 10 April 1944, or the Auschwitz
As you don’t explain how this detracts from what I did write about the
Zionists and the Nazis, I must put this down as another example of your
reviewing the book I ‘coulda, shoulda’ written.
You also rant about my
“failure to ask what the implications for the future were of Zionist
collaboration with the Nazis. With particular reference to Argentina. The
Zionist movement argues that the Holocaust was a product of having no state and
Jewish weakness but the Israeli state’s attitude to anti-Semitism is no
different from Zionism historically.”
How did my “failure” to write about Israel and Argentina, post the Nazi
era, weaken what I wrote about Zionism in the Nazi era? This is more reviewing
the book I didn’t write.
I’m closing this response to your essay with attention to the most
shameful thing in it.
On p. 190 of your Holy Land Studies piece, you cited “the Mufti
of Jerusalem, Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, a minor war criminal.” This is
absolutely false. Mussolini met the Mufti on October 27, 1941. Hitler had a
well-publicized conference with him on November 28.
The Mufti asked for a public declaration of support for Arab struggles
for independence from Britain and France. Hitler rejected that because
publicly supporting Arab liberation against France would have created problems
with his puppet, Vichy France, which still controlled French North Africa. But
he assured the Mufti that, after defeating the Soviets in the Caucasus, his
army would then support Arab liberation and wipe out the Jews in the British
Middle East, i.e. in Palestine.
The Mufti accepted this and Hitler set him up in Berlin. He made
propaganda radio broadcasts aimed at the Arab world and helped recruit Bosnians
and Soviet Muslim POWs into all-Muslim waffen-SS units.
The Nazis paid him 50,000 marks a month at a time when a German field
marshal only earned 25,000 marks a year. Was Hitler paying that fortune to a
“minor” war criminal?
You are an anti-Zionist confronted by the horrible fact that the most
prominent Palestinian leader of the Nazi era was an infamous collaborator. It
is impossible to outright deny this, so you diminish it. In your mind – and
only in your mind – he became “a minor war criminal.”
Thank you for that! Now I can point out that the windbag who scribbled
about my “major shortcomings”also babbled re the Mufti’s “minor” war
There is a political lesson to be learned from your folly. Many
gentiles, world-wide, first became pro-Zionist only post WW II, when the
Soviets and Yugoslavs accused the Mufti of war crimes. The Nation, a
well known liberal American magazine, produced a pamphlet, The Arab Higher
Committee, Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes, and sent it to every UN
delegation.It contained photographs of the Mufti with Hitler and
Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, and the Mufti’s diary account of his
meeting with Hitler.
After they examine those pictures, there is no way you could convince
people that he was a minor collaborator. On the contrary, your statement will
discredit you in their eyes.
Zionists use the Mufti’s pro-Nazism to discredit today’s Palestinian
movement. The best way to deal with that, as in ZITAOTD, is to report his
crimes and then document Zionist cooperation with Nazism.
Candidly telling of his pro-Nazi role served well to reassure readers of
the accuracy of my descriptions of Zionist collaboration with Nazism, whereas
your minimization of his crimes will henceforth automatically make your readers
fear that you are also maximizing Zionism’s infamies.
I’m sending this response to you on December 20th. I’ll wait three days
for a reply. Then I’ll send it on the 24th to Holy Land Studies andmy
anti-Zionist list, on its own or with your reply, if any. Ask for another three
days to work on your reply and I’ll wait for it until the 28th, before sending
this note to Holy Land Studies and my list.
In either case, when I distribute this note I’ll also add on the London Times 1984 review of ZITAOTD so our readers can compare your assessment of the
book with the Times evaluation of it.
Edward Mortimer, “Contradiction, collusion and controversy,” The
Times (London), 11 February 1984
Zionism in the Age of the Dictators by Lenni Brenner
Who told a Berlin audience in March 1912 that “each country can
absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorders in her
stomach. Germany already has too many Jews”?
No, not Adolf Hitler but Chaim Weizmann, later president of the World
Zionist Organization and later still the first president of the state of
And where might you find the following assertion, originally composed in
1917 but republished as late as 1936: “The Jew is a caricature of a
normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual
in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligation, knows no
order nor discipline”?
Not in Der Sturmer but in the organ of the Zionist youth organization,
As the above quoted statement reveals, Zionism itself encouraged and
exploited self-hatred in the Diaspora. It started from the assumption that
anti-Semitism was inevitable and even in a sense justified so long as Jews were
outside the land of Israel.
It is true that only an extreme lunatic fringe of Zionism went so far as
to offer to join the war on Germany’s side in 1941, in the hope of establishing
“the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and
bound by a treaty with the German Reich.” Unfortunately this was the group
which the present Prime Minister of Israel chose to join.
That fact gives an extra edge of topicality to what would in any case be
a highly controversial study of the Zionist record in the heyday of European
fascism by Lenni Brenner, an American Trotskyist writer who happens also to be
Jewish. It is short (250 pages), crisp and carefully documented. Mr Brenner is
able to cite numerous cases where Zionists collaborated with anti-Semitic
regimes, including Hitler’s; he is careful also to put on record the opposition
to such policies within the Zionist movement.
In retrospect these activities have been defended as a distasteful but
necessary expedient to save Jewish lives. But Brenner shows that most of the
time this aim was secondary. The Zionist leaders wanted to help young, skilled
and able-bodied Jews to emigrate to Palestine. They were never in the forefront
of the struggle against fascism in Europe.
That in no way absolves the wartime Allies for their callous refusal to
make any serious effort to save European Jewry. As Brenner says, “Britain
must be condemned for abandoning the Jews of Europe”; but, “it is not
for the Zionists to do it.”
[Note: Yitzhak Shamir was “the present Prime Minister of
Israel” in 1984. – LB]
[Note: Edward Mortimer later became the Director of Communications,
Executive Office of the Secretary General, United Nations. – LB]