Monday, May 18, 2020

On Weckert's 'Jewish Emigration from the Third Reich'

Unlike Heddesheimer, Ingrid Weckert is a known quantity. She has a long career on Germany’s far-right; of all the HH authors, she has the clearest connections with the neo-Nazi movement in Europe, with Jürgen Graf a close second. Now in her 90s, she has spent the last 40 years writing exculpations of Nazi figures (including Julius Streicher and Josef Goebbels) and crimes (most notably Kristallnacht). Beyond contributions to Holocaust denial, she was closely affiliated with the neo-Nazi leader Michael Kühnen in the 1980s and participated in attempts to form legitimate far-right political parties --  most recently, Kühnen’s Deutsch Alternative, which was banned in 1992. Trained as a librarian, she also studied theology and history, including allegedly studying Jewish history in Israel.

Weckert’s contribution to the HH collection, Jewish Emigration from the Third Reich, is a translation of her Auswanderung der Juden aus dem Dritten Reich, which Castle Hill published in 2004. A slim volume numbering only 70 pages not including frontmatter, backmatter, and appendices, it attempts to strike a more seemingly conciliatory tone than much of Weckert’s previous work. Nevertheless, it repeats the grotesque errors of that work, with the typical lying by omission, whitewashing, and blame shifting found there. It is important to state at the outset that a thorough checking of Weckert’s use of source material is beyond the scope of this short review. That said, an earlier review by Andrew E. Mathis of Weckert’s article on Kristallnacht in the Journal of Historical Review (summer 1985 issue) found that she was a routine abuser and misrepresenter of her cited sources.[1]

After a short introduction in which she assures her reader that Jewish emigration from the Third Reich was an orderly affair undertaken with the utmost decorum by the Nazis, Weckert begins her examination of her topic with a short discussion of the famous “Jewish Declaration of War” against Germany on March 24, 1933. In making a notable concession many deniers do not – i.e., that “the Jews” had no state with which to war wage against Germany – she nevertheless engages in antisemitic stereotyping, writing, “As World Jewry did not have its own state, it used the power at its disposal, namely its influence on the world economy, to impose a world-wide boycott of Germany.”[2]

The “Jewish Declaration of War” is a stock in trade of denier rhetoric, so while it is really beyond the scope of Weckert’s book, it nevertheless requires some discussion. Like many of her colleagues, Weckert expresses outrage at the idea that Jews around the world might boycott Germany in 1933, given the poor economic situation there – apparently not considering the outrage that Jews worldwide might feel that one of the Europe’s great powers had seen fit to elevate to its leadership a rank antisemite and his political party. Nor do most deniers acknowledge what these Jewish communities knew, i.e., that the Nazi regime was already unleashing violence on the German Jewish community. 

The leadup to the March 5, 1933, election was particularly brutal, with the aftermath even worse. Thomas Childers describes it thus:

On March 9, SA squads moved into a Jewish neighborhood in Berlin, rounded up dozens of Eastern European Jews, and packed them off to a concentration camp; four days later Brown Shirts in Mannheim invaded Jewish businesses, roughed up their owners, and shut down the shops; later that same day in a small Hessian town, Storm Troopers, “in search of weapons,” forced their way into the homes of local Jews, ransacked the rooms, and brutalized the terrified inhabitants; in Breslau, SA men stormed brazenly into a courtroom, attacked Jewish lawyers and judges, and drove them out of the building.[3]

Notably, Childers concedes that this violence was not organized or authorized by the regime itself, but he also notes that it was the particularly violent aftermath of the March election that resulted in the call for a Jewish boycott of German goods.[4]

Weckert acknowledges none of these points. She also does not acknowledge the extent to which the idea of a boycott of German goods was controversial even among Jewish communities themselves. For one thing, German Jews themselves had pled with the U.S. Jewish community not to attack the new government. Notable voices of dissent against the boycott were the American Jewish Committee’s Cyrus Adler and the British Board of Deputies’ president Neville Laski. As David Cesarani writes, “close scrutiny of the Jewish response in February and March 1933 would have revealed only division and dissonance. There was no chorus of ‘international Jewry.’”[5]

Weckert’s second chapter describes the organizations representing Germany Jewry in the early years of the Nazi regime. Here, a clear distinction emerges between what we might call “national” Jews and Zionists. Whereas the latter were Jewish nationalists committed to creating a Jewish national home in Palestine, the former considered themselves German citizens of the Jewish faith and identified strongly as German nationalists. Weckert’s description of the Zionists is informative: “The National Socialist attitude corresponded in principle to the Zionist position. They wished to establish a nationalistic Judaism and thus opposed any inner Jewish attachment to anything German. But they approved of National Socialism because they shared its basic tenet: devotion to one’s own people and state.”[6] In short, the Zionists were the Jewish equivalent of the Nazis, so any cooperation or collaboration between the two groups should be considered natural.

In the next couple of chapters, Weckert details the different civil society organizations involved in the promotion of Jewish emigration and then discusses the Ha’avara, or Transfer, Agreement enacted between the Nazi government and the Zionist community in Germany and Palestine. Amusingly, in introducing the topic of Nazi-Jewish collaboration in emigration projects before the war, she admits that Ha’avara has become a standard feature of histories of the Holocaust, but she claims that the Rublee-Wohlthat Agreement “generally falls under the historical blackout.”[7] Similarly, about one source on Ha’avara on which she relies rather strongly – Werner Feilchenfeld, Dolf Michaelis, and Ludwig Pinner’s Haavara: Transfer nach Palästina und Einwanderung Deutscher Juden (1972) – she writes that it “has obviously not been read by most people who write about the Haavara.”[8] To put it plainly, this assertion is false. A Google Scholar search finds that the publication by Feilchenfeld et al is cited by 53 other publications, including ones by Francis Nicosia (cited by Weckert herself) and Avraham Barkai (ditto); the scholars discussing the Rublee-Wohlthat Agreement include Richard Breitman, Christian Gerlach, Hans Mommsen, and Kurt Schleunes – four of the most important historians in the field. For someone claiming to be in possession of secret knowledge, Weckert has sources that have been broadly cited.

In her chapter on Ha’avara, Weckert reiterates many of the errors she made in discussing the topic in her writings on Kristallnacht. For instance, she asserts that Jews emigrating to Palestine under the agreement were exempted from the Reichsfluchtsteuer (Reich flight tax – a tax assessed on all emigrants as a way of not draining too much currency from Germany’s already scarce reserves); they were not.[9] Moreover, in depicting the agreement as beneficial to the Jews who emigrated to Palestine, she omits several key negative aspects of the agreement. For instance, Germany tended to freeze the vast majority of the currency of the emigrant in German accounts; this money could only be ransomed by the emigrant agreeing to accept an unfavorable exchange rate. In his book on Ha’avara, Edwin Black notes that some emigrants found that, by the time their money was fully out of German hands, they had lost more than half due to this exchange rate and the Reichsfluchtsteuer.[10]

Further, Weckert’s understanding of the immigration process to the Yishuv in Palestine is deeply flawed. She writes, “The Haavara was beneficial to those Jews unable to raise the one thousand pounds required in order to go to Palestine.”[11] In fact, not every immigrant was charged a thousand pounds. Rather, Jews intending to immigrate as capitalists (rather than as farmers) were charged this fee by the Yishuv.[12] This fact underscores an important point about the emigration of German Jews to Palestine that Weckert does not address at all: German Jewry was overwhelmingly middle class, with its population largely employed in business and white collar professions. The Yishuv – particularly the left-wing mainstream of the Zionist movement – didn’t want these Jews in Palestine. It wanted Jews who would be willing to work the land and build a Jewish state based in agriculture that would be self-sufficient. Whereas for the largely poor and working class Jews of Eastern Europe, this offer was potentially attractive, for German Jews, it was decidedly not – thus, the comparatively small number of Zionists in Germany compared to the countries to its east. The conclusion that Weckert avoids stating is that German Jews paying this thousand-pound fee were leaving for a country in which they actually had no real desire to settle and in which they knew they were largely unwanted. Although many German-Jewish Zionists would take advantage of the agreement, many other German Jews who did were not Zionists and were instead leaving because they knew the country of their birth was oppressing them.

Weckert’s fifth chapter, “Emigration and the SS,” details the work done by the SS to encourage Jewish emigration in the early years of Nazi rule. In a footnote to that chapter, she writes, “It is surely a paradox for those who have derived their historical knowledge from the media, wherein the SS is depicted as a murderous Third Reich gang, with chief responsibility for the Jewish ‘Holocaust.’”[13] This statement is either catastrophically ignorant or deeply dishonest. No credible historian claims that the extermination of the Jews was a project of the SS in the 1930s. Among Weckert’s more remarkable claims in this chapter is that, after Kristallnacht, “it was the SS that sent a team to clean up and to ensure that the office would be functioning again as soon as possible.”[14] She cites a book by Francis Nicosia on this point, but the single reference to the destruction of the Palästinaamt (Palestine Office) on Kristallnacht that Nicosia offers (on a different page than that cited by Weckert) states only that, at Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem, a former Palästinaamt employee testified that “the SS helped to restore the working operation of the Amt immediately after the Kristallnacht pogrom. He further testified that the SS helped the Palästinaamt to recover immigration certificates that had already been granted by British authorities for a group of German Jews to go to Palestine.”[15] Nicosia says nothing about cleaning up, and Weckert does not acknowledge that all Jewish emigration offices were closed permanently in the subsequent weeks and replaced by the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung.

Weckert’s chapter on the Rublee-Wohlthat Plan is bizarre in that a large proportion of the text is concerned with a dispute between State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ernst Weizsäcker and Reichsbank head Hjalmar Schacht on negotiating a plan for Jewish emigration with Franklin Roosevelt’s friend George Rublee. Ultimately, Weckert alleges, Hitler himself intervened, authorized Schacht to implement the agreement, and after foot dragging by the foreign affairs ministry, “wholeheartedly assented to it.”[16] The vast majority of this information is asserted without citing a single source. As to why the plan, which was part of the aftermath of the failed Evian Conference to address the issue of Jewish refugees, failed, Weckert assures us that any failure of the plan “was not the fault of the agreement or of its German initiators.”[17] Susanne Heim is less rosy in her assessment of the reason for its failure. She writes, “The Germans did not want it to become publicly known that they had negotiated with the IGC [the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees] at all; while the IGC met strong reservations in Jewish circles […] Therefore two different memoranda were signed independent from one another, and each party declared itself willing just to fulfil its part of the verbal agreement.”[18]

The next two chapters of Weckert’s book detail initiatives from the Yishuv to facilitate Jewish immigration: these are Aliya Bet and proposals from the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) – the Jewish militia in Palestine led by Menachem Begin. Amusingly, her primary source here is the far-left Jewish anti-Zionist author Lenni Brenner -- a favorite author of the far-right on topics regarding Zionism (along with Normal Finkelstein, Alfred Lilienthal, et al). These chapters are perfunctory and don’t really offer anything new. Her conclusion, similarly brief, is notable only because it discusses the total number of Jewish emigrants from Germany in the period under discussion. She writes, “There is only one figure that derives from an official German source that, however, is rejected by all establishment authors because it seems too high.”[19] This source is the Wannsee Protocol, about which she says, “All information in this document is judged credible and convincing, except for its emigration statistics.”[20] She then quotes the Protocol’s figures for the Altreich themselves but is not specific on whether she deems them too high or too low, instead writing, “What is important here is to point out once again the tendency of establishment historiography arbitrarily to designate certain parts of a document as authentic, while rejecting other portions as inauthentic.”[21] This view about how historians work, not to mention the historical consensus on the Wannsee Protocol, is absurd.

A discussion of Jewish Emigration From the Third Reich would not be complete without briefly considering Weckert’s illustrations. For instance, on page 24, she provides an image of a German passport held by a Jewish emigrant. Her caption reads, “Passport of the German Reich, issued on February 14, 1939, to the German Jew Wilhelm ‘Israel’ Steiner. The Reich preferred to see Jews leave the country – for good.”[22] This is a truly remarkable example of omission of key facts. In all likelihood, Steiner’s passport only bore the name “Israel” as a result of the August 1938 Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names, which required all German Jews not having “Jewish” first names to add Israel or Sara as a middle name for men and women, respectively.

Truly baffling is her inclusion on page 42 of the front page from the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps of June 30, 1938. Her caption reads, “In the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps (The Black Brigade) sentences like the following could be read: ‘The time should not be too far off when Palestine can welcome again the sons it lost more than a thousand years ago. Our wishes accompany them, with governmental sympathy.’ (May 1935, p. 1).”[23] The caption is remarkable for two reasons. First, the date of the quotation does not match the date of the newspaper page that she chose to include. Second and more importantly, the page that she did include features a grotesque character of a Jewish man and woman, below which a caption reads, “The only costume that this type should be allowed is the costume of a beating!”[24]

Weckert seems unable to contain her loathing for Jews even when noting points in passing. For instance, describing the dislike of Germany felt by many Jews in Palestine in the 1930s, she writes, “Palestine was like the animal that bites the hand that feeds it. The hostility of the Jews toward Germany expressed itself on many different levels. For example, during a Purim procession Germany was depicted as a poisonous-green fire-breathing dragon covered with swastikas…”[25] Jews, we are told, should be thankful to Germany for expelling them to Palestine. Weckert’s treatment of her topic would be comical if not so deeply insulting.

Given this level of contempt for Jews, it is perhaps surprising that a “respectable” concern like HH would include Weckert’s book among its other “scholarly” undertakings. Indeed, her work in general is only rarely cited by other deniers. The notable exception – David Irving’s reliance upon her work on Kristallnacht in his Goebbels biography – led Richard Evans to conclude, “A more blatant disregard for the most elementary rules of historical scholarship would be hard to imagine.”[26] It would be difficult to improve upon that statement with regard to Weckert’s work.

[1] Andrew E. Mathis, “Reichskristallnacht: A Response to Ingrid Weckert,” The Holocaust History Project,, accessed May 6, 2020.
[2] Ingrid Weckert, Jewish Emigration from the Third Reich, 2nd edition (Uckfield, U.K.: Castle Hill, 2016), 10-11.
[3] Thomas Childers, The Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017), 234.
[4] Ibid.
[5] David Cesarani, Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews, 1933-1949 (London: Macmillan, 2016), 74.
[6] Weckert, Emigration, p. 20.
[7] Weckert, Emigration, p. 25.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine (Washington, D.C.: Dialog Press, 2009), 171-172.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Weckert, Emigration, p. 31.
[12] Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, translated by Haim Watzman (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), 20.
[13] Weckert, Emigration, p. 41.
[14] Weckert, Emigration, 42.
[15] Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1985), 160.
[16] Weckert, Emigration, 53.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Susanne Heim, “International Refugee Policy and Jewish Immigration under the Shadow of National Socialism,” in Refugees From Nazi Germany and the Liberal European States, edited by Frank Caestecker and Bob Moore (New York: Berghahn, 2010), 35-36.
[19] Weckert, Emigration, 68.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Weckert, Emigration, 24.
[23] Weckert, Emigration, 42.
[24] Quoted ibid, translation by author.
[25] Weckert, Emigration, 38-39.
[26] Richard Evans, “David Irving, Hitler, and Holocaust Denial,” expert report filed in Irving v Penguin and Lipstadt (2000), EWHC QB 115,, paragraph K.11, accessed May 6, 2020.


  1. Lol Weckert's dumb.

    Her BS excuse about the Stateless Jews using their (nonexistent) influence in world politics is easily invalidated by a close look at actual world politics. None of the Nations of the world acted aggressively - either economically or Military - towards the Nazis. Their closest rival the British was even happy to step back and let Hitler and Mussolini support Franco in the Spanish Civil war, and they even pressured the French to withdraw their initial support for the Republicans and the elected left wing Spanish Government.

    Worthless and pathetic.

  2. Hi Andrew, good job. I see a slight mistake (imho) in your presentation of the Haavara agreement (wich does not alter your demonstration). You write :

    « not every immigrant was charged a thousand pounds. Rather, Jews intending to immigrate as capitalists (rather than as farmers) were charged this fee by the Yishuv. »

    In fact, the contrary is true: within the context of the Haavara Agreement, every single immigrant was automaticaly "charged" one thousand pounds, but NOT by the Yishuv. It was not at all the Yishuv (or the zionist body in charge of the affair) which was charging this important sum of money. It was the British authority. In fact, this "fee" is at the center of the possibility of the Haavara agreement: Britsh authorities, as is well known, had radicaly limited the number of Jews able to emigrate to Palestine with very low quotas. But there was a hole in their wall: if you could bring (as decided by the British authorities) one thousand pounds of cash, you were deemed a "capitalist" immigrant (British choice of words, not the Yishuv's), and you did not fall within the quotas. So that any jew with one thousand pounds could emigrate to Palestine without any kind of limitation. The zionist Jewish Agency understood it could organize the coming of as much Jews it could bring to Palestine, as far as the one thousand pounds could be gathered. This was what made the Haavara agreement possible without beeing impaired by british quotas.

    Tom Segev does not write otherwise. In the Seventh Million (that you quote), he writes:

    « The sum of £1,000 was necessary to receive British permission to settle in Palestine as a “capitalist,” as this category of immigrant was called. »

    See how Segev use quotes around “capitalist,” as should always be the case, since it's a very artificial denomination *by the British*. The more so that the Jewish Agency organized the funding of the emigration of some german jews who had not the one thousand pounds at their disposal by lending them that money taken from the sums brought by richer german jews who had already used the Haavara agreement to emigrate.

    As demonstrated with the Weckert case, the Haavara agreement is very often used by antisemites and Holocaust deniers to "show" there was a close relationship betwwen zionists and nazis (their "conclusions", or inuendo, can differ: because nazis were good benevolent people towards the jews, because zionists/jews are in fact like nazis, any shades of these...). The "fun" fact is that this defamatory use of a real pragmatic temporary cooperation of some zionists with the nazi regime (that saved tens of thousands of lives) is an invention of Soviet antisemitic propaganda. As you have well shown, the Haavara is a well studied and known phenomenon (Hilberg described it in his 1961 edition of his Destruction of the European Jews), not a "dark secret" of any kind.

    Any french reading person will find a more in depth examination both of the Haavara agreement, with a bibliography, and of Soviet antisemitic propaganda in my phdn web page about the subject:

    See also, the thourough examination of Soviet lies and propaganda by the highly praised french historian of zionism, Alain Dieckhoff, here:


  3. Thanks for this, Gilles. I'll add a correction shortly.


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