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Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939

[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 3. Germany: 1933-1938
[3.12. The race laws of Nuremberg 1935 - Zionist Jewry splits]

[Four RV (Reichsvertretung) demands when the race laws should be accepted]

All these attempts at maintaining a foothold in Germany collapsed with the publication of the Nuremberg racial laws on September 15, and the first of twelve detailed provisions (Verordnungen) on November 14, 1935. Immediately following the publication, RV came out with a four-point program demanding that, on the basis of the new laws, the government stop the defamation and the boycott, grant cultural and religious autonomy to the Jews, and recognize RV as the central Jewish organization. Under these conditions, the Jews would accept the new laws.

(End note 68: Informationsblätter der RV, 9/22/35 [22 September 1935])

[The Zionists in discussion about the race laws]

This stand produced a bitter argument between the Zionists, (p.133)

who demanded nonrecognition of the Nuremberg laws, and the RV leadership. The Zionists had been in the peculiar position of opposing the Nazis more vigorously than the liberals and yet being supported, in a way, by the government because of their advocacy of emigration to Palestine. The Nazis argued that Zionists helped Germany solve the Jewish problem and that Palestine could absorb a million Jews. If only half of these were German Jews, then the whole Jewish problem might be solved.

(End note 69: Jewish Chronicle, 5/17/35 [17 May 1935], quoting Der Völkische Beobachter)

This did not mean, of course, that the Nazis did not attack the Zionists as well; Goebbels's [newspaper] Angriff did so frequently.

[Zionists want the national definition of Jews - Kareski (Jewish Volkspartei) defends the race laws - more Zionists in the RV (Reichsvertretung) - blame of Kareski - suspicion collaboration with Gestapo]

Inside the Jewish community, the Zionists pressed for a policy of national definition and speedy emigration, and demanded a greater say in the affairs of RV. A spokesman of the Zionist Right in the Berlin community (the so-called Jewish Volkspartei), Georg Kareski, took a different position in an interview published in the [newspaper] Angriff (quoted in the Jewish Chronicle, January 3, 1936), where he defended the new laws as offering an answer to the problem of an alien nationality, provided they were executed on a basis of mutual respect.

The Zionists now turned against Kareski as well, and he was practically ostracized at a conference held at Berlin in early February 1936. However, during the following year Kareski tried repeatedly to oppose a reconstructed RV, in which the Zionists now had a greater say.

This situation came to a head in the spring of 1937 when the leaders of RV appealed to the foreign organizations to prevent the takeover of RV by Kareski, who, they insinuated, was cooperating with the Gestapo. After consultation between JDC and the British Jews, on June 11, 1937, a letter was written over the signature of Sir Herbert Samuel to Leo Baeck, in which confidence was reiterated in "the present personnel and management" of RV. Serious misgivings were expressed in the event of any change in the composition of RV.

(End note 70: Executive Committee, 9/23/37 [23 September 1937])

It is not clear whether it was this intervention that changed the situation, but it is probable that it had at least some influence. At any rate, RV maintained its independence of internal Gestapo pressure for some time longer, and Kareski's attempt was repulsed. (p.134)