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 Madagascar-PosThe Madagascar Plan was a proposal of the Nazi government of Germany to relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar. Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Nazi government. This wasn’t formally proposed until June 1940, shortly before France’s defeat in the Battle of France. The proposal called for the handing over of Madagascar, then a French colony, to Germany as part of the French surrender terms.

The idea of deporting Polish Jews to Madagascar was investigated by the Polish government in 1937, but the task force sent to evaluate the island’s potential determined that only 5,000 to 7,000 families could be accommodated. As efforts by the Nazis to encourage emigration of the Jewish population of Germany were only partially successful, the idea of deporting Jews to Madagascar was revived by the Nazi government in 1940.

TogetherThe plan was postponed after the Germans failed to defeat the British in the Battle of Britain later in 1940 and was permanently shelved in 1942 with the commencement of the extermination of European Jewry.

Origins

Paul_Anton_de_LagardeAs early as 1885 there were a number of resettlement plans for European Jews that were precursors to the Madagascar Plan.

Paul de Lagarde, aka Bötticher, an Orientalist and German scholar, was the first to suggest evacuating the European Jews to Madagascar in 1885. He was one of the prime movers in the revival of anti-Semitism in the later years of the 19th c., demanding a national Christianity purge of Jewish and, in particular, Pauline elements.

Members of the Zionist movement in 1904–1906 seriously debated the British Uganda Programme, by which Russian Jews, who were in immediate danger from ongoing Pogrom, would be settled in what today is Kenya. The plan was later rejected as unworkable by the Zionist Congress. Adherents of territorialism split off from the main Zionist movement and continued to search for a location where Jews might settle and create a state, or at least an autonomous area.

 Zionist Conference

The idea of Jewish resettlement was taken up in the 1920s by British Antisemites Henry Hamilton Beamish, Arnold Leese, and others. With the cooperation of the French, the Polish government commissioned a task force in 1937 to examine the possibility of deporting Polish Jews to the island. The head of the commission, Mieczysław Lepecki, felt the island could accommodate 5,000 to 7,000 families, but Jewish members of the group estimated that only 500 or even fewer families could safely be accommodated.

Henry Hamilton BeamishThe Planning begins

Violence and economic pressure were used by the Nazis to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. By 1939 around 250,000 of Germany’s 437,000 Jews emigrated to the United States, Argentina, Great Britain, Madagascar, Mexico, Palestine, and other countries.

Treatment of Alien Races in the East, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.

The Nazi leadership seized on the idea of deporting the remaining German Jews overseas. Barren unproductive lands were viewed as appropriate destinations as this would prevent the deportees from flourishing in their new location.

Although some initial discussion took place in 1938 among Nazi ideologues such as Julius Streicher, Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, and Joachim von Ribbentrop, it was not until 1940 that planning formally began. Franz Rademacher, recently appointed head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, forwarded on 3 June to his superior, the diplomat Martin Luther, a memorandum on the fate of the Jews. He recommended that the French colony of Madagascar should be made available as a destination for the Jews of Europe as one of the terms of the surrender of France, which the Germans had invaded on 10 May 1940. The resettled Jews, noted Rademacher, could be used as hostages to ensure “future good behaviour of their racial comrades in America.”

Final SolutionOn receiving the memorandum, Luther broached the subject with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was simultaneously developing a similar scheme. By 18 June, Hitler and Ribbentrop spoke of the Plan with Italian leader Benito Mussolini as a possibility that could be pursued after the defeat of France.

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), insisted that Ribbentrop relinquish any future responsibility for the Plan to that office. As Heydrich had been appointed by Hermann Göring in January 1939 to oversee Jewish evacuation from German-occupied territory, the Jewish Question was hence under his purview.

Adolf Eichmann, head of the RSHA Sub-Department IV-B4, which dealt with Jewish affairs and evacuation, soon became involved. On 15 August, with Adolf Hitler‘s approval, Adolf Eichmann released a Memorandum titled Reichssicherheitshauptamt: Madagaskar Projekt (Reich Main Security Office: Madagascar Project), calling for the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years and abandoning the idea of retaining any Jews in Europe.

The RSHA, he emphasised, would control all aspects of the program. While Rademacher called for the colony to be under German control but self-governing under Jewish administration, Eichmann made it plain that he intended for the SS to control and oversee every aspect of life on the island, which they would govern as a police state.

Most Nazi officials, especially Hans Frank, governor of the General Government (the occupied portion of Poland), viewed ‘the forced resettlement to Madagascar as being preferable to the heretofore piecemeal efforts at deportation into Poland. As of 10 July, deportations into Poland were cancelled and construction of the Warsaw ghetto was halted, since it appeared to be unnecessary.’

Planning continues

Rademacher envisioned the founding of a European bank that would ultimately liquidate all European Jewish assets to pay for the plan. This bank would then play an intermediary role between Madagascar and the rest of the world, as Jews would not be allowed to interact financially with outsiders. Göring’s office of the Four Year Plan would oversee the administration of the plan’s economics.

Ministry of Public Enlightenment and PropagandaAdditionally, Rademacher foresaw roles for other government agencies. Ribbentrop’s Foreign Affairs Ministry would negotiate terms with the French for the handover of Madagascar to Germany. It would also play a part in crafting other treaties to deal with Europe’s Jews. Its Information Department, along with Joseph Goebbels and his Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, would control the flow of information at home and abroad. Viktor Brack, a division chief in the Chancellery of the Führer, would oversee transportation. The SS would undertake the expulsion of the Jews from Europe and govern the island as a police state. The Nazis expected that after the invasion of Great Britain in Operation Sea Lion that they would commandeer the British merchant fleet to transport the Jews to Madagascar. Many deportees were expected to perish in the harsh conditions or die at the hands of the SS.

Plan abandoned

After Germany’s failure to defeat the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain in 1940, the invasion of Britain was postponed indefinitely. This meant the British merchant fleet would not be at Germany’s disposal for use in evacuations, and planning for the Madagascar proposal stalled. In late August 1940 Rademacher entreated Ribbentrop to hold a meeting at his ministry to begin drawing up a panel of experts to consolidate the plan. Ribbentrop never responded. Likewise, Eichmann’s memorandum languished with Heydrich, who never approved it. Establishment of ghettos in Warsaw and other cities in Poland resumed in August 1940. Hitler continued to mention the plan until February 1942, when the idea was permanently shelved. British Empire forces took the island from Vichy France in the Battle of Madagascar in November 1942 and control was transferred to the Free French.

General Plan Ost

At the end of 1940, Hitler asked Himmler to draft a new plan for the elimination of the Jews of Europe, and Himmler passed along the task to Heydrich. His draft proposed the deportation of the Jews to the Soviet Union via Poland. The later Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the East), prepared by Professor Konrad Meyer and others, called for deporting the entire population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to Siberia, either for use as slave labour or to be murdered after the Soviet defeat. After the German failure in the Battle of Moscow in December 1941, Hitler resolved that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately rather than after the war, which now had no end in sight. Since transporting masses of people into a combat zone would be impossible, Heydrich decided that the Jews would be killed in extermination camps set up in occupied areas of Poland.

Text of the Madagascar Proposal

The approaching victory gives Germany the possibility, and in my view also the duty, of solving the Jewish question in Europe. The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe.

The task of the Foreign Ministry:

a) To include this demand in the Peace Treaty and to insist on it also by means of separate negotiations with the European countries not involved in the Peace Treaty;

b) to secure the territory necessary for the settlement of the Jews in the Peace Treaty, and to determine principles for the cooperation of the enemy countries in this problem;

c) to determine the position under international law of the new Jewish overseas settlement;

d) as preparatory measures:

1) clarification of the wishes and plans of the departments concerned of the Party, State and Research organizations in Germany, and the coordination of these plans with the wishes of the Reich Foreign Minister, including the following:

2) preparation of a survey of the factual data available in various places (number of Jews in the various countries), use of their financial assets through an international bank;

3) negotiations with our friend, Italy, on these matters.

Office of the Reichsführer-SSWith regard to beginning the preparatory work, Section D III has already approached the Reich Foreign Minister via the Department Germany [interior affairs], and has been instructed by him to start on the preparatory work without delay. There have already been discussions with the Office of the ReichsführerSS in the Ministry of Interior and several departments of the Party. These departments approve the following plan of Section D III:

Section D III proposes as a solution of the Jewish question: In the Peace Treaty France must make the island of Madagascar available for the solution of the “Jewish Question,” and to resettle and compensate the approximately 25,000 French citizens living there. The island will be transferred to Germany under a mandate. Diego Suarez and the port of Antsirane, which are strategically important, will become German naval bases (if the Navy wishes, these naval bases could be extended also to the harbors – open road-steads –Tamatave, Andevorante, Mananjara, etc.). In addition to these naval bases, suitable areas of the country will be excluded from the Jewish territory (Judenterritorium) for the construction of air bases. That part of the island not required for military purposes will be placed under the administration of a German Police Governor, who will be under the administration of the Reichsfuehrer SS. Apart from this, the Jews will have their own administration in this territory: their own mayors, police, postal and railroad administration, etc. The Jews will be jointly liable for the value of the island. For this purpose their former European financial assets will be transferred for use to a European bank to be established for this purpose. Insofar as the assets are not sufficient to pay for the land which they will receive, and for the purchase of necessary commodities in Europe for the development of the island, the Jews will be able to receive bank credits from the same bank.

As Madagascar will only be a Mandate, the Jews living there will not acquire German citizenship. On the other hand, the Jews deported to Madagascar will lose their citizenship of European countries from the date of deportation. Instead, they will become residents of the Mandate of Madagascar.

This arrangement would prevent the possible establishment in Palestine by the Jews of a Vatican State of their own, and the opportunity for them to exploit for their own purposes the “symbolic importance” which Jerusalem has for the Christian and Mohammedan parts of the world. Moreover, the Jews will remain in German hands as a pledge for the future good behavior of the members of their race in America.

This can be made for propaganda purposes of the generosity shown by Germany in permitting cultural, economic, administrative and legal self-administration to the Jews; it can be emphasized at the same time that our German sense of responsibility towards the world forbids us to make the “gift of a sovereign state” to a race which has had no independent state for thousands of years: this would still require the test of history.

Signed, Franz Rademacher

Berlin, July 3, 1940

 

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