With the coming of the war, the situation regarding the Jews altered drastically. It is not widely known that world Jewry declared itself to be a belligerent party in the Second World War, and there was therefore ample basis under international law for the Germans to intern the Jewish population as a hostile force.
On September , 1939 Chaim Weizmann, the principle Zionist leader, had declared war against Germany on behalf of the world's Jews, stating that
Athe Jews stand by Great Britain and will fight on the side of the democracies...The Jewish Agency is ready to enter into immediate arrangements for utilizing Jewish manpower, technical ability, resources etc...@ (Jewish Chronicle, September 8, 1939)
This was only a reiterating of a state of war which already existed between Germany and the Jews. For the war between the two was first announced "Judea declares War on Germany." (Daily Express, March 24, 1934)
Detention Still Favored
It is a remarkable fact, however, that well into the war, the Germans continued o implement the policy of Jewish emigration. The fall of France in 1940 enabled the German Government to open serious negotiations with the French for the transfer of European Jews to Madagascar.
A memorandum of August, 1942 from Luther, Secretary of State in the German Foreign Office, reveals that he had conducted these negotiations between July and December 1940, when they were terminated by the French. A circular from Luther's department dated August 15th, 1940 shows that the details of the German plan had been worked out by Eichmann, for it is signed by his assistant, Danecker. Eichmann had in fact been commissioned in August to draw up a detailed Madagascar Plan, and Danecker was employed in research on Madagascar at the French Colonial Office. (Reitilinger, The Final Solution, p. 77) The proposals of August 15h were that an inter-European bank was to finance the emigration of four million Jews throughout a phased program.
Luther's 1942 memorandum shows that Heydrich had obtained Himmler's approval of this plan before the end of August and had also submitted it to Goering. It certainly met with Hitler's approval, for as early as June 17th his interpreter, Schmidt, recalls Hitler observing to Mussolini that AOne could found a State of Israel in Madagascar.@ (Schmidt, Hitler's Interpreter, London, 1951, p. 178)
Although the French terminated the Madagascar negotiations in December, 1940, Poliakov, the director of the Center of Jewish Documentation in Paris, admits that the Germans nevertheless pursued the scheme, and that Eichmann was still busy with it throughout 1941.
Eventually, however, it was rendered impractical by the progress of the war, in particular by the situation after the invasion of Russia, and on February 10th, 1942, the Foreign Office was informed that the plan had been temporarily shelved. This ruling, sent to the Foreign Office by Luther's assistant, Rademacher, is of great importance, because it demonstrates conclusively that the term@Final Solution@ meant only the emigration of Jews, and also that transportation to the eastern ghettos and concentration camps such as Auschwitz constituted nothing but an alterative plan of evacuation.
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