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51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With the Nazis Hardcover – November 1, 2002
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About the Author
Lenni Brenner has authored three critically acclaimed books on Jewish history: Zionism in the Age of Dictators, The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir and Jews in America Today. He currently resides in New York City.
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By the way, Brenner's work isn't any kind of conspiracy theorist "secret history" nonsense (despite what some fringe people on both sides of this apparent controversy might have you believe). All of the history that Brenner documents is a matter of public record. Serious historians have no argument with Brenner's work, even if they disagree with him politically. The fact that some people are attacking him with such vitriol is very telling. I praise Mr. Brenner for his work and his life-long commitment to anti-racism.
The book contains 51 documents, of varied quality and relevance, supposedly proving that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. Really?
In reality, of course, most Zionists did no such thing. The Revisionist leader Jabotinsky called for an economic boycott of Nazi Germany. The Labor Zionists supported the Allies during World War Two. Zionists participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, while others joined Communist partisan units. And, of course, the Zionist idea that Jews can be safe only in their own state, was ultimately proven right. Without this context in mind, the documents presented by Brenner are in effect a subtle way of suggesting that the Jews were responsible for the Holocaust. In reality, both Labor and the Revisionists smuggled Jews out of Nazi-infested Europe.
So Brenner is a Trotskyist. Now, there was a small Trotskyist group in Albania which supported Mussolini, and later joined the right-wing, anti-Communist resistance group Balli Kombëtar. There were also Trotskyists who, after the war, expressed support for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a fascist organization. What conclusions should we draw from this? That Trotskyists in general were Nazi collaborators?
What have Brenner come up with, then? Not much. Naturally, he spends an entire section of the book exposing the Stern gang (Lehi). But this group was very small and was disarmed by the Labor Zionists in 1948. That the Stern gang proposed collaboration with the Nazis in 1940 and 1941 is therefore as irrelevant as Albanian Trotskyists joining an anti-Communist resistance group after first praising Mussolini. Besides, the whole point of Lehi's proposal was that they would side with the Nazis only if Hitler agreed to resettle all Jews in Palestine. Since that never happened, the deal was off. No actual collaboration took place.
Next, Brenner attempts to implicate the Labor Zionists in Nazi collaboration. However, the documents he presents rather show that Labor attempted to save Jews by getting them out of Germany. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, there was a catch: the Zionists had to buy German goods in return for every Jew being allowed to emigrate. This broke the trade boycott against Germany called by many progressive groups. The abstract sectarian Trotskyist Brenner doesn't appreciate the moral dilemma of the situation: should one uphold a trade boycott even if it means sacrificing Jews? Or should one try to save as many as possible, even if it means paying the Nazis? Only a stupid Trot like Brenner could suggest, that the only solution is...yes, what? Socialist revolution? In Germany 1936?
A similar dilemma exists in the case of Rudolph Kastner, whose case is still controversial. Kastner negotiated with the notorious Adolf Eichmann, and managed to save perhaps 2000 mostly Hungarian Jews from being killed by the Nazis. However, the rest of Hungarian Jewry was exterminated. Kastner had to "play God" and decide who was to live and who was to die. Also, he had to promise Eichmann to "uphold order in the concentration camps". The original deal between the two stipulated that one million Jews would be spared in exchange for 10,000 trucks for the Nazi army. When the trucks failed to materialize, most Jews were transported to the death camps. Still today, Jews are divided over how judge Kastner, who became a government official in Israel after the war. Was he a tragic hero? Or a cynical collaborator? The fact that Kastner appeared as a witness in favor of SS war criminals have lead many to belive the latter. But even so, Kastner was hardly identical with all of Zionism. Incidentally, Kastner was assasinated when details of his deal with Eichmann leaked out.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they didn't have a clear position on the Jewish question beyond apartheid. Exclusively Jewish concentration camps were set up in 1938, the Final Solution was decided upon in 1942. Until that time, different ideas existed within the Nazi leadership about what to do with the Jews. Some wanted them expelled to a foreign country, perhaps Madagascar (at the time controlled by Vichy France). This made it possible for Zionists to attempt a "deal with the Devil": since some Nazis wanted to extradite all Jews from Germany, why not propose that they be transferred to Palestine? Today, we know that this was a naive proposal. But not even Brenner's hero Trotsky predicted the Holocaust. At the time, an transfer agreement seemed like an idea worth trying. Ironically, the Holocaust proved that all attempts to get the Jews out of Germany, no matter how naive, were at some level justified.
Some documents in this book are frankly ridiculous. Please note that the point is to prove Zionist collaboration with Nazis. But Brenner has also included documents about Revisionist collaboration with Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan! Brenner never explains that Fascist Italy wasn't anti-Semitic, nor a fully committed ally to the Nazis, until the eve of World War Two (the documents cited are from before that). Nor does he explain that Imperial Japan didn't exterminate Jews in Manchuria. These documents tell us much about the antics of right-wing nationalists, but nothing about collaboration with Holocaust-mongers.
Finally, I must protest against the naivety of the editor of this anthology. He seems morally outraged by the fact that Zionists can even comtemplate some kind of deal with Nazis, no matter the purpose. But please, comrade. The Bolsheviks made secret deals with both Imperial Germany and the Weimar Republic, both equally anti-Communist, and also with the rogue Ottoman adventurer Kemal Pasha, or the anti-Communist Turkish nationalist Kemal Atatürk. The Bolsheviks took money from Wall Street banks, and even attempted to collaborate with Labor Zionists in Palestine! And during all of this, a certain Leo Trotsky was one of the leaders of the Soviet Bolshevik regime... Trotsky even supported the creation of an "anti-imperialist united front" with Chiang Kai-shek. On that point, he later changed his mind. But not on the others.
Is Lenni Brenner upset about this? Or was this "all for a good cause"?
By all means, buy this book. The documents are interesting in and of themselves. But that's about it...