The German Foreign Office and the Palestine Question in the Period 1933-1939
The Eastern desk of the Foreign Ministry reorganized in 1933 did not oppose settlement of Jews in Palestine, which became a most important area for Jewish emigration. The assets, which the Jews took with them, would buy orange groves and the marks would be transferred to Germany. Wolff, the German Consul–General in Jerusalem disliked National Socialism as did Consul Wurst, and they were helpful with business transfers. In Berlin the experts on Palestine followed in quick succession: Schmidt-Roelke, Pilger, von Hentig. Surprisingly, Hitler never mentioned the Jewish National home in Palestine between 1933 and 1937, during which time Jewish emigration to Palestine was tolerated by the authorities. With the presentation of the partition plan, Hitler showed concern about German Jewish emigration to Palestine, but when the plan fell through in 1938, he did permit emigration to continue. In 1936 Doehle replaced Wolff and instituted a much more hard-line policy toward the Jews. War was eminent and the Jews looked to the Evian Conference to save them. Its failure quenched all hope and possibly influenced the November riots in Germany. In September 1938, a few days before Munich, many Germans believed war was inevitable and that Germany was facing defeat. Some officials even planned to assassinate Hitler. Chamberlain’s astonishing appeasement at Munich stemmed these widespread feelings and plans. Subsequently, Jewish emigration channels became chaotic, as did sales of Jewish property. For German Jews the end was near. A few desultory visits of Foreign Office officials to the Middle East in 1939 had no influence.