Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Madagascar

Recently a mention of the Madagascar Plan in the press reminded me of the material I had prepared on the topic a long time ago. Here comes the blog:

The first Zionist Congress in Basel on August 31, 1897, adopted a resolution calling for the "creation of a home in Palestine secured under public law for those Jews who cannot or do not want to assimilate elsewhere."

Dreaming Theodor Herzl
In Basel's Stadtkasino, a good 200 delegates elected the Austrian publicist Theodor Herzl as the first president of the newly founded Zionist World Organization. This gave secular Jewish nationalism - propagated by Herzl in his book "Der Judenstaat" (1896) - an internationally anchored network. The aim was to counter the rampant anti-Semitism in Europe with the project of an independent state.

After the conclusion of the Basel Congress, Herzl wrote: "I founded the Jewish state in Basel. If I say that out loud today, a burst of universal laughter would answer me. Perhaps in five years, at least in fifty, everyone will see it."

It took 50 years indeed. On May 14, 1948, following a U.N. resolution, the independent state of Israel on Palestinian territory was proclaimed, and that is when all the trouble started.

In 1922, Great Britain had received the mandate for Palestine from the League of Nations, the predecessor of the U.N. The British faced a difficult task as they were to fulfill the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that on the one hand, committed them to promote a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. On the other hand, they were also to protect the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in their mandated territory.

Paul de Lagarde
But long before Herzl's Judenstaat, the question of what to do with the Jewish minority in a Christian occident had stirred the mind of theologist and linguist Paul de Lagarde. The Professor in Göttingen wrote in 1885 in an essay über nach Madagaskar auszuschaffende Juden (about Jews to be deported to Madagascar). As a representative of ethnic anti-Semitism, he stressed the point that because of Madagascar's isolated situation, a mixing of Jews with other peoples could almost be ruled out.

Later Lagarde's idea was taken up by British publisher Henry Hamilton Beamish. He was the founder of the anti-Semitic "The Britons" organization. In his journals, Beamish demanded the expulsion of Jews to the African island of Madagascar from the twenties onwards. "The Briton" flyer mocked that the problem for the Zionists was "solved," Madagascar offered space "for 100 million". Beamish was also allowed to spread his ideas in the N.S. press under the name "Der Engländer" (The Englishman). There he wrote, "Where is the paradise that allows all Jews to live in peace and joy? This is Madagascar."

Julius Streicher's anti-Semitic hate paper "Der Stürmer" (translated as The Stormer, Attacker, or Striker), addressed the Madagascar Plan at an early stage - sooner than the Nazi leadership dealt with it. As early as 1933, the paper was already celebrating the idea of "depopulating the island and housing the Jews there." To prevent the escape from the Great Ghetto, "fast and vigilant police ships would have to circle the island permanently."

"Prudently, they omitted to ask us, the Malagasy."
The trunk is marked Wien-Madagaskar (Vienna-Madagascar).
A caricature from 1938 shows a desperate Jew pressed against a globe in the typical degrading Nazi pictorial language. Above the cynical headline: "Madagascar - The End."


Later in 1940, the leader of Referat D III, i.e., the Judenreferat in Ribbentrop's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Franz Rademacher, was the first to draw up a roughly sketched Madagascar plan. He presented it to his superior Martin Luther, "The solution to the Jewish question can be found within the framework of peace with France, through a revival of the Madagascar plan."

Luther took the mad plan with a sympathetic attitude. He even saw the possibility of propagandistically selling those millions of forced deportations as "Germany's magnanimity." After all, a state would be given to the Jews.

Soon almost all top Nazi functionaries, including Eichmann, Göring, Rosenberg, and Heydrich, were interested in the distant African island. Hitler, too, demanded that "Madagascar be used to house Jews under French responsibility" and initiated Mussolini into the idea.

Alfred Rosenberg at a Nazi party rally.
As early as 1927, the Nazi chief ideologist, Alfred Rosenberg, praised Paul de Lagarde, as "prophet of the new world view and co-builder of the national state."

Commemorative stamp for Reinhard Heydrich
issued in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
one year after he had been assassinated in Prague.
Following the infamous Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, where Heydrich outlined that European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), the Madagascar plan was paper waste.

After the war, Franz Rademacher disappeared, but in 1952 was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for aiding and abetting 1300 Serbian Jews. Followed a typical post-war biography of an N.S. offender, i.e., an early release and a career in the BND, Germany's FBI.

In 1968 Rademacher was still mourning his Madagascar idea, "If it had been realized, we wouldn't have a Middle East crisis today." Really?


N.B. Most of the pictures and much of the material are drawn from articles published in Der Spiegel.

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