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From the arrival of the first Prussian consul in Jerusalem in 1842, German diplomacy took an active and benign interest in the affairs of Palestinian Jews.1 German consuls motivated undoubtedly by humanitarian concern, but obviously with the expansion of German political influence a primary consideration, served as defenders of Jews who had no claim to German protection.2 It was a German consul who had fought both the Turkish authorities and the rabbinate of the Sephardic, native Palestinian Jews, to win the right for German and other Ashkenazic Jews to prepare and to sell their own kosher meat.3 Because the German consular service was open to competent men who sought a career in the upper reaches of the diplomatic hierarchy, Germany sent a long succession of first-rate professionals to the consulate-general in Jerusalem .4 They extended benign protection to stateless Jews, as well as to the subjects of states such as the Netherlands which for many decades did not have a consul in Jerusalem.5 If inadequate sewers or filthy streets created a health hazard near Bikur Cholim. Jewish hospital, it was the German Consul General who intervened with the local Turkish government to ameliorate conditions.6
Of course the British conquest of Palestine in 1917 forced the closure of the German consulate. It was not until 1924 that impoverished and defeated republican Germany again had a consul resident in the splendid villa on the Street of the Prophets, where the consuls of imperial Germany had once resided.7 The restored German consulate enjoyed a vast reservoir of Jewish good will, a heritage of cordial relations dating back to 1842. Old Jerusalemite Jewish families still recall the formal visit by the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Palestine, A. 1. Kock, to German Consul Karl Kapp.8 Until 1932, the German consuls continued their protection of the hospitals and schools that enjoyed the special patronage of German Jewish philanthropy. Even Jewish institutions that were not primarily German in their orientation, such as the newly established Hebrew University at Jerusalem, extended and received exceptional reciprocal courtesies at the German consulate on all gala occasions. Consul Kapp, 1924-1926, and his successor Dr. Erich Nord, 1926- 1932, maintained the amiable philosernitic attitudes of their predecessors.9 Hitler's accession to the chancellorship in 1933, brought all of that immediately to an end.10
From 1933 to 1935 Heinrich Wolff was consul and Walter Dohle followed him 1936-1939. Whatever the private feelings of either consul may have been, both were conforming Nazis in terms of their behavior and their official correspondence. At a social level, Wolff and Dohle were rigidly courteous and correct in correspondence with Palestinian Jews. As will be noted, the consuls were faithful executors of Nazi racial policy toward any German Jew trapped in their grasp. There is, therefore, something surrealistic about the annual printed invitations sent to the consuls to attend Hebrew University convocations and concerts. One of Consul General Wolff's refusals will suffice as an example. It said, "Answering to the Hebrew University's kind invitation for the 10th of April I regret to inform you that owing to other official duties I am not in the position to assist at the ceremony."11 This did not mean a complete severing of ties, however. Evidently the consul had received no official prohibition against serving as the medium for the donation of German publications to the library of the Hebrew University. The registrar's thank-you notes were faithfully filed in the consulate's dossier on the Hebrew University. 12 In the same category is the poignant letter sent by the secretary of a children's school in northern Palestine: "We would appreciate very much if you could supply us with any study material you have about your country, whether in the form of prints, posters, stamps, or reading matter. . . ."13 Even more characteristic of the pervasive atmosphere of unreality, however, was a note sent by the Financial Secretary of the Hebrew University: "Would you be good enough to give [the] bearer, Miss Bertha Landau, information concerning tuition fees charged at Universities in Germany?"14
It must be supposed that even the most naive and optimistic of Palestinian Jews were aware by 1935 of the racial policy of Nazi Germany, and that Jews were being forced out of the universities, not encouraged to enroll. It may be suspected, therefore, that such notes were intended to be provocative and to put the German consul in the position of having to be honest. No record has been found of the consular reply to the notes quoted above, but it must be supposed that they avoided candor and maintained the amenities of diplomatic speech. However, in all official correspondence with the foreign office, the Gestapo, or with colleagues, Consuls Wolff and Dohle dropped their urbane masks and were as racist as required.
Apparently their superiors were particularly interested in German Jewish academics and professionals who had lost their positions in Germany and found employment in Palestine. For this, the texts of the annual addresses given at the opening of the academic year by Judah L. Magnes, Chancellor of the Hebrew University, assumed special importance. The texts of Dr. Magnes's addresses invariably included the names of newly appointed faculty at senior rank, and in the case of German refugees, the place in which they had been formerly employed. As Magnes missed no opportunity to condemn Nazism in very specific terms, the texts of his speeches were heavily underlined by the consuls at Jerusalem, to be reported duly to Berlin.15 As most of the Jewish academics who entered Palestine did so on visitors' visas rather than as permanent residents, they continued to carry German passports. Thus, there is again a kind of surrealistic dream character to the matter-of-fact letters from the administration of the Hebrew University to the consul, confirming the employment of a professor, that it might be recorded in the German consular register of German citizens living abroad.16 In other words, the Nazi state that had made life untenable for a Jew at home, was asked to provide protection for him abroad. All of this fascination with the employment of German Jews in Palestine was communicated not only to the foreign office in Berlin, but to the German Consul General in New York. Apparently, because the United States had become a refuge for so many German Jews, the Consulate General in New York had become a center for the compilation of statistics.17
Prior to the Nazi success of 1932, Jewish academics had used the friendly intercession of the German Consul General in Jerusalem to obtain appointments as visiting professors in Palestinian institutions. Hitler's entry into office had caught such persons by surprise. The friendly and philosemetic Dr. Nord's replacement by the hostile Nazi Heinrich Wolff meant that Jewish aspirants for Palestinian academic posts no longer had a friend to speak for them. They continued to use the hopelessly obsolete argument that their appointment as a Professor of German at Hebrew University would advance German interests in the Near East.18 As late as 1939, however, the German foreign office apparently felt obliged to warn Consul Walter Dohle to lend no support to homeless Jewish academics.19
There was a complication of another sort for Hitler's consul with regard to his duty in Jerusalem. After the passage of the Nuremberg Race Laws, it became necessary for the consul to obtain satisfactory evidence that all German citizens in Palestine were either Jewish, half-Jewish, quarter-Jewish, or Aryan.20 Nothing more completely reveals the absurdity of such racial identification than the pedantic detail in which aspiring Aryans described their pedigree as free of Jewish "taint." Nazi dogma was quite clear on the point that the religion of an individual was of no significance; what counted was freedom from descent from a Jewish grandparent.21 Nevertheless, people with the most suspiciously Jewish sounding background used the profession of Christianity by themselves and their parents as proof of Aryan origin.
Since German missionaries had been active in Palestine since the early nineteenth century, and since a fair number of Jews had been converted to Christianity and become missionaries, the question of Aryan purity for Germans native to Palestine was decidedly hard to prove. An obstetrician named Heinrich Samuel Huber, son of the missionary Jacob Huber, stated that he had been born at Nazareth in 1866. He asked the German consul at Nazareth and the German Consul General at Jerusalem to search for his birth records. None could be found. Dr. Huber's letters all closed with resounding "Heil Hitlers".22 Nevertheless, there was no one who could trace his ancestry beyond the generation of his parents. The Consul General wrote to the pastor of the German colony at Haifa. "No help!"23
In many cases, it was necessary to ask the aspiring Aryan to produce convincing family papers and documents. In case after case, the German Consul General could produce no more impressive certification for a worried candidate for Aryan purity than a statement that he saw "no reason to doubt that the individual was Aryan." This ingenious dodge undoubtedly helped to keep the uncertain Aryan quiet and loyal, while permitting the consulate the freedom to search further.24 As a consequence, there was an enormously complicated correspondence between Palestine and Germany as dusty parish archives and the records of membership in recognized religious communities were searched to prove the unprovable: unimpeachable blood purity.25
We can almost see the nervous perspiration on the forehead of Captain of Corvette Wolfgang Jerchel trying to prove that his wife met the tests which would permit him to continue his career in the German navy.26 Frau Jerchel sprang from parents who were of Slovene or Croat, Italian, and some unidentified eastern Roman Catholic ethnic origin. Her grandparents' birth and death records were at Trieste, Haifa, Smyrna and Jerusalem. Thus, although the Jerchels had nothing to do with Palestine, at the moment, the busy Consul General at Jerusalem was engaged in attesting to their blood purity, while collecting documents from the German consuls stationed in all the cities which had once housed Maria Luigia Jerchel's grandparents.27 Fortunately for the sanity of the German consuls at Jerusalem, most cases were more easily settled in the touchy matter of arische Abstammung.
As a part of this entire exercise in illogic, the Nazis indulged in some straightforward sadism. It seems to have been a belated inspiration of the racial theorists at Berlin to require all Jews to adopt the names Israel and Sara. This was issued as a ministerial order on 17 August 1938.28 At Jerusalem the German Consul General required all German Jews carrying a German passport to submit proof that they had legally changed their birth register in their place of origin to show their new name. Attestation that the change had been made at the Standesamt of the applicant's home town was to be submitted in three copies to the Consulate General in Jerusalem.29 Any infants born to German Jews in Palestine also had to be given the required names and a formal request made of the consulate attesting to that fact so that the police records of the parents' home town in Germany might record the birth.30
Thus, as 1939 slipped by and Worlld War II approached, the German Jews of Palestine, clinging to the thin security that a German passport gave them, were all busy recording the change of names.31 The only element worthy of comment is that in the midst of an exercise intended to humiliate Jews, a few brave individuals so worded their request for a name change that it became an assertion of pride, rather than a confession of inferiority:
I, the Jew Nathan Bamberger, residence Jerusalem/Palestine, Alfasi [street] No. 9, born in Bad Kissingen, Maxstrasse No. 5, submit herewith my name change to Nathan Israel Bamberger.
I am the son of Rabbi Moses Lob Bamberger and his wife Esther, nee Goldschmidt, and was born on 5 June 1888.
Nathan Bamberger 32
Of all the activities of the German Consulate General in Jerusalem, the most controversial is the so-called Heavers Agreement. Heavers is the Hebrew word for "transfer," so the system to which it gave rise is usually called the Transfer System.33
Nazi policy toward the Jews went through several distinct phases. When Hitler first came to power, his only goal was to drive the Jews out of Germany as quickly as possible. Jews who saw the future clearly, and moved quickly, disposed of their property on as good terms as possible and fled to countries to which they could obtain entry. After 1934, the Nazis decided to make it impossible for Jews to carry large sums of cash outside the country. Ultimately, Jewish emigres might carry no more than ten German marks per person or about two and a half dollars. To escape thereafter, Jews either had to have property abroad or to know a guarantor who would ensure that they would not become charges on public charity in their new home. Since Jews were forced out of all professional, artistic, and commercial enterprise, their property in Germany was quickly Aryanized, that is, transferred to Aryan hands for a fraction of its real value. The only financial cushion for Jews trapped inside Germany was the aid extended by foreign Jewish philanthropic organizations. From the German point of view, this system offered tremendous advantages, since Jewish property could be expropriated at leisure while foreign Jews saved the victims from outright starvation.34
At that juncture the top policy-making body of the Palestinian Jewish leadership made the painful decision to enter negotiations with the Germans to save German Jewry. The Jewish Agency Executive of the World Zionist Congress established a Central Bureau for the Settlement of German Jews. From June to August 1936, the Jewish Agency Executive made contact with the German government through the German Consul General at Jerusalem. Two types of favors were requested. One involved permission for 15 Hebrewspeaking Palestinian Jewish teachers to enter Germany for one year to establish youth villages in which young German Jews could be trained for life in Palestine.35 This had to be cleared with the top level of the Gestapo. The Gestapo made their usual noises about a gang of "left-wing Marxists" coming into Germany, but raised no objection if their year's stay would expedite the departure of Jews without burden to the German State.36 Indeed, very shortly, the Gestapo raised no objection to an increase in the number of teachers.37
The second favor requested by the Jewish Agency through Consul General Dohle was for permission for two members of the Jewish Agency to enter Germany for a period of one year, including multiple entries and exits. The two were Eliezer Kaplan and Eliyahu Dobkin.
The former was the treasurer of the Jewish Agency Executive and the latter was the representative of the Immigration Department.38 After a brief moment of coyness Dr. Werner Senator, of the Central Bureau for the Settlement of German Jews, told Dohle that their mission to Germany would involve attractive financial transactions tied to Jewish emigration.39 Dr. Senator made the prospect of the KaplanDobkin visit seem so attractive that Consul General Dohle became its advocate in a report to Gestapo Headquarters at Berlin.40 The Gestapo gave its consent, including permission for travel permits to be offered to other Jews of German origin nominated by German Zionists still resident in Berlin. With regard to the latter, the Gestapo composed long treatises discussing whether Jews who were still classed as dependents of the German Reich but had left Germany could receive or ought to receive travel visas. Similarly, the Gestapo did not quite know what to do about Dr. Werner Feilchenfeld, a Berlin-born Jew who had become a Palestinian British subject nine months before.41 Again, there is a strange air of unreality about the bureaucratic emphasis on legal forms from those same individuals who served the state that denied basic rights as persons and as citizens to Jews.
Actually, the representatives of the Jewish Agency in Germany had an existing framework on which they could build. In August 1933, during Hitler's first year in power, the Ministry of Industry had signed a formal agreement with the Anglo-Palestine Bank of Tel Aviv through which cash could be made available to German Jews who had shipped German products to Palestine for resale there to raise capital for themselves. The original agreement of 1933 was excessively complicated because the bank received and disbursed all funds. The actual shipment of goods out of Germany was handled through the Palastina Treuhand-Stelle der Juden in Deutschland. Clearance of the goods through British customs in Palestine and the mechanics of the sale of the goods were handled by Heavers Ltd.42
Following the mission of Dobkin, Kaplan, and Feilchenfeld to Germany, the Germans enlarged their share of the pie while making the actual function of the Heavers easier and more efficient. Control of the financial operations of Heavers was given to the Bank der Tempelgesellschaft, which had begun as a financial institution serving the needs of the German Protestant communities centered at Haifa and Jaffa, but which had become a major financial center in Palestine. By strengthening a German-run financial institution in British Palestine, the German Consul General in Jerusalem buttressed German influence in the Near East and established an additional chord of ensured loyalty in the Palestinian German Christian community.43 At the same time, Heavers Ltd., headed by Dr. Feilchenfeld, was given greater latitude in bringing goods out of Germany and selling them in Palestine. By May 1938 43,000 Jews had been brought from Germany to Palestine through Heavers.44
Unquestionably, Heavers saved Jewish lives. Nevertheless, it put a cruel weapon into Nazi hands. The Germans played cat and mouse with Jews anxious to escape. They renewed the agreements with the Jewish Agency at three-month intervals. Meanwhile, the newspapers were filled with rumors that the entire system was about to be terminated.45 Because Germany was in the midst of intensive rearmament and public works programs, full employment prevailed. There was actually a shortage of the sort of German products most likely to find a market in Palestine. These included machinery, metal sheeting, and pipes. The Germans prohibited or severely limited the export of such priority items, forcing Heavers to. export German products for which there was inadequate demand in Palestine. This put Heavers in the peculiar position of having to sell German goods on the world market in order to rescue Jews trapped in Germany.46 This sales drive ran a collision course with the efforts of Jewish organizations in the United States, Britain, and France to boycott German goods.47 It is highly unlikely that even a completely effective boycott of German goods, by Jews, could have severely hurt Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, the appearance of Jew working against Jew created bad feeling.48
As Worlld War II approached, the Heavers term was applied by the Germans to a form of German self-enrichment totally foreign to the idea of expediting Jewish escape from Germany. Friends and relatives of German Jews could purchase gift certificates good for German marks, which might be sent to German Jews on certain specified Jewish holidays and on occasions of celebration such as a 50th wedding anniversary. The German Consulate General in Jerusalem assiduously clipped and filed all the newspaper publicity relating to real and pretended Heavers collected from newspapers around the world.49
It is obvious that the Nazis conducted their financial policy toward the Jews with the sort of avaricious ruthlessness which antisemites customarily attribute to Jews. Nazi materialism bore no resemblance to the image of unselfish warriors evoked by orators extolling Aryan superiority.
The generous support of the Faculty Research Committee of Towson State University made this study possible. I am thankful to Dr. P. A. Alsberg, State Archivist of Israel, who expedited my access to the primary source materials at the State Archives upon which this study is based.
1. In 1955, the Israel State Archives in Jerusalem purchased the German Consular Correspondence for Palestine, 1839-1939, from private persons into whose hands the material had fallen as a consequence of the war. A great part of the original collection was lost, but the invaluable material today housed at the State Archives in Jerusalem occupies 53 meters of shelf space. All German consular materials will be cited as German Consulate, Record Group 67 (hereafter G.C., R.G. 67), followed by the file number assigned to each dossier in the State Archives.
4. The Prussian and German Consuls in Jerusalem from 1842 to 1917 were Ernst Gustav Schultz, 1842-1851; Dr. Georg Rosen, 1852-1867; Professor Heinrich Julius Petermann, 1868-1869; Baron Karl von Allen, 1869-1873; Baron Thankmar von Munchhausen, 1874-1881; Dr. Julius Reitz, 1881-1885; Dr. Paul von Tischendorf, 1886-1899; Dr. Friedrich Rosen, 1899-1900; Edmund Schmidt, 1901- 1916; Dr. Johann Wilhelm Heinrich Brode, 1916-1917. This list may be found in the inventory to the German Consular documents at the Israel State Archives, Jerusalem, p. viii.
5. G.C., R.G. 67, file no. 115: A. Lehren, President and J. A. Roos, Secretary, of the Pekidim and Amarcalim of Amsterdam to the Netherlands Foreign Minister, Amsterdam, 17 Nov. 1862; ibid.: Netherlands Foreign Minister to charge d'affaires in Constantinople, The Hague, 18 Nov. 1862; ibid.: Netherlands charge d'affaires to Prussian Consul Rosen, Constantinople, 24 Dec. 1862. See also Arie Morgenstern, "The Pekidim and Amarcalim of Amsterdam and the Jewish Community of Palestine, 1810-1840," Ph.D. diss. Hebrew University [Hebrew, Eng. summ.], 1981.
7. Germany maintained a consulate-general at Jerusalem which supervised consuls in the lesser cities of the British Mandate of Palestine. In this study, the title "consul" has been occasionally applied to the Consul General in Jerusalem. It will be understood by the reader that the title "Consul General" should be more properly applied.
10. At the end of 1932, Consul General Nord was transferred to Bangkok, shortly before Hitler became chancellor. Nord seems to have had no concept of the extremity to which racial antisernitism was about to take Germany because he left a large file of personal as well as official correspondence at the consulate general in Jerusalem, revealing his personal friendship for Jews and his support for Jewish institutions. See ibid.: Nord to Prufer, Jerusalem, 11 Dec. 1932. File no. 1378 at the Israel State Archives is titled Hebraische Universitat but contains correspondence and documents relating to a variety of scholarly and charitable institutions other than the Hebrew University.
20. In conjuction with a Nazi Party Congress at Nuremberg, the Reichstag passed the Race Laws on 15 Sept. 1935. Executive decrees of 15 Nov. 1935 completed the definition of the status of Jews, half Jews, and quarter Jews. See Marvin Lowenthal, The Jews of Germany (Philadelphia, 1936), pp. 401-3. See also Nora Levin, The Holocaust; The Destruction of European Jewry 1933-1945 (New York, 1973), pp. 68-71, 76, 91-92, 105.
21. National Socialist Twenty-Five Point Program, Articles 4 and 5, 22 May 1926, in National Socialism: Conservative Reaction or Nihilist Revolt, ed. Stephen S. Tonsor (New York, 1959), p. 14; ibid.: Speech by Adolf Hitler, 28 July 1922, pp. 18-19.
25. Ibid.: The Director of the Deutsches Ausland-Institut, Haus des Deutschturns, to Consul General Dohle Stuttgart, 7 Feb. 1935; ibid.: Memorandum by Consul Dohle, on the collected documents relating to the Aryan status of Friedrich Krafft, Jerusalem, 16 Mar. 1936.
27. Ibid.: Italian Consul General di Angelis to Dohle Jerusalem, 17 Mar., 4 Apr. 1936; ibid.: Acting Director of the German Consulate General to di Angelis, Jerusalem, 9 Apr. 1936; ibid.: Dohle to Captain Jerchel, Jerusalem, 14 Apr. 1936.
33. A Chicago free-lance writer has produced a popular treatment of the subject. See Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Untold Story of the Secret Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine (Riverside, NJ, 1983).
34. Lowenthal, The Jews of Germany, pp. 353-421. The Reichsfluchtsteuer or "Flight Tax," as well as other methods whereby departing German Jews were subjected to "legal" extortion, is well described in Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust (New York, 1982), pp. 123-129.
37. Ibid.: General Instructions of the Consular Service, German Foreign Office to Dohle, Berlin, 30 Apr. 1936. The Foreign Office declined to grant a blanket one- year visa for the teachers but agreed to admit these "enemies of the state" for provisional periods of six months only; actually, a considerable number of teachers and staff beyond the original number requested were ultimately admitted (ibid.).
43. Ibid.: Director of the Bank der Tempelgesellschaft (signature illegible) to Consul Dohle Jaffa, 8, 21, 29 Mar. 1936. A part of the payment for German exports was settled on a barter basis by the shipment of Palestinian citrus fruit to Germany. See, ibid.: Director of the Bank to Dohle, Jaffa, 21 Mar. 1938.
45. G.C., R.G. 67, file no. 1254: Palestine Post, 8, 9, 10 Mar. 1938, contained as an enclosure in Dohle to the German Foreign Office, 10 Mar. 1938. The Hebrew language newspaper Davar published a panic-producing report on 1 Dec. 1938 stating that the British were about to tighten regulations on the import of German goods, chiefly by increasing the recorded value of German goods entering Palestine, for tariff purposes. See G.C., R.G. 67, file no. 1145 for German summary of Davar article in Dohle, to Foreign Office, Jerusalem, 2 Dec. 1938.
47. In Palestinian Jewish circles, the most outspoken opposition to Heavers was led by Betar, a Zionist but non-socialist political party usually categorized as insisting that the Jewish National Home should include both Cis-Jordanian and Trans-Jordanian Palestine. Betar wanted no compromise on the boycott of German products. See The Palestine Post, 28 Oct. 1935, p. 1. Betar was willing to work with the Gestapo to rescue Jews where no financial profit to Germany was involved. See William R. Perl, The Four Front War: The Most Daring Rescue Operation of the Century (New York, 1979), pp. 1-222.