The evacuation of European Jewry to the island of Madagascar was not a new concept. Individuals such as Britons Henry Hamilton Beamish and Arnold Leese, and governments including the British, French, and Polish, had all contemplated the idea from the 19th century right up to the late 1930s. Nazi Germany seized upon the idea, and in May 1940, in his Reflections on the Treatment of Peoples of Alien Races in the East, heinrich himmler stated, "I hope that the concept of Jews will be completely extinguished through the possibility of a large emigration of all Jews to Africa or some other colony."
Although some discussion of this plan had been brought forward from 1938 by other well-known Nazi ideologues, such as Julius Streicher, hermann göring, and joachim von ribbentrop, it was not until June 1940 that the plan was actually set in motion. Victory in France being imminent, it was clear that all French colonies would soon come under German control, and the Madagascar Plan could become reality. It was also felt that a potential peace treaty with Great Britain, which in a few weeks' time was about to experience German aerial bombardment and whom the Germans fully expected to capitulate as quickly as the French, would put the British navy at Germany's disposal for use in the evacuation.
An ambitious bureaucrat named franz rademacher, recently appointed leader of the Judenreferat III der Abteilung Deutschland, or Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, set the plan in motion on June 3, 1940 with a memorandum to his superior martin luther. The memorandum included a definition of the mechanics of Jewish evacuation out of Europe. rademacher espoused the division of eastern and western Jews. The eastern Jews, he felt, were the source of the "militant Jewish intellgentsia", and should be kept close at hand in Lublin, Poland, to be used as a kind of hostage to keep American Jews in check. The western Jews, he went on, should be removed from Europe entirely, "to Madagascar, for example."
On receiving the June 3rd memorandum, luther broached the subject with Foreign Minister ribbentrop. By June 18, hitler himself, as well as ribbentrop, spoke of the Plan with mussolini in reference to the fate of France after its defeat. On June 20, hitler spoke directly of the Madagascar Plan with Grand Admiral erich raeder.
Once learning of the new potential of the Plan, reinhard heydrich, appointed in 1939 by Göring to oversee Jewish evacuation from German-occuppied territory, had ribbentrop relinquish any future actions to the RSHA (Reich Central Security Office). In this way, adolf eichmann, who headed the office of Jewish evacuation in the RSHA, became involved. On August 15th, eichmann released a draft titled Reichssicherheitshauptamt: Madagaskar Projekt, calling for the resettlement of one million Jews per year over four years, and abandoning the idea of retaining any Jews in Europe whatsoever. The RSHA, he emphasised, would control all aspects of the program.
Most Nazi officials, especially the authorities of the General Government including hans frank, viewed the forced resettlement of four million Jews to Madagascar as being infinitely more desirable than the heretofore piecemeal efforts at deportation into Poland. As of July 10, all such deportations were cancelled, and construction of the Warsaw ghetto was halted, since it appeared to be unnecessary.
Rademacher envisioned the founding of a European bank that would ultimately liquidate all European Jewish assets in order to pay for the Plan. This bank would then play an intermediary role between Madagascar and the rest of Europe, 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.
Additionally, rademacher foresaw roles for other government agencies. ribbentrop's Foreign Affairs Ministry would negotiate the French peace treaty that would result in the handing over 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 josef goebbels in the Propaganda Ministry, would control information at home and abroad regarding the policy. victor brack of the Führer Chancellory would oversee transportation. The SS would carry on the Jewish expulsion in Europe, and ultimately govern the island in a police state.
The Germans' desired perception from the outside world would be that Germany had given "autonomy" to the Jewish settlement in Madagascar. However, eichmann made it plain in his draft that the SS would control and oversee every Jewish organization that was created to govern the island.
Collapse of the Plan
In late August, 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 draft languished with heydrich, who never approved it. The Warsaw ghetto was completed and opened in October. Expulsions of Jews from German territory into Poland continued again from late autumn 1940 to spring 1941.
The resistance of Great Britain during the Battle of Britain, and Germany's failure to achieve a quick victory by September, was an important cause of the Plan's collapse. The British fleet would not be at Germany's disposal, to be used in evacuations; the war would continue indefinitely. The main cause however lays in the decision of the nazis to implement the "final solution". Mention of Madagascar as a "super ghetto" was made once in a while in the ensuing months, but by early December, the Plan was abandoned entirely.
The failure of the Madagascar Plan, and the eventual logistical problems of deportation in general, would ultimately lead the Nazis to find other “solutions” to the European "Jewish Question".
La lettre ci-jointe de Luther me parait explicite:
August 21, 1942: The memorandum of Martin Luther, chief of the department "Germany" in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, recapitulates the essential points of National Socialist policy in regard to the Jews:
The principle of German policy on the Jewish question after the assumption of power was to promote Jewish emigration by every means. To accomplish this, General Field Marshal Göring, in his capacity as chief of the Four Year Plan, established in 1939 a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration, the direction of which was entrusted to Gruppenführer Heydrich in his role as chief of the security police.
After having referred to the Madagascar plan, which had at that time been by-passed by events, Luther goes on to note that Göring's letter of 31 July 1941 followed up Heydrich's letter, in which Heydrich informed Rademacher that:
The overall problem constituted by the 3,250,000 Jews who found themselves under German rule could no longer be resolved by emigration; which is why the necessity of a "final territorial solution" becomes apparent.
Luther goes on writing
Knowing that, Reich Marshal Göring on 31 July 1941 charged Gruppenführer Heydrich with making, in collaboration with all German central agencies interested, all necessary preparations for a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe…
In compliance with that order, Gruppenführer Heydrich called a meeting 20 January 1942 of all interested German agencies, a meeting at which the under secretaries of the other ministries, and I myself from the Foreign Ministry, were present.
At that meeting Gruppenführer Heydrich explained that the responsibility assigned him by Reich Marshal Göring had been given him by order of the Führer, and that the Führer from then on authorized the evacuation of the Jews to the east as a solution other than emigration.
In compliance with that order by the Führer, the evacuation of the German Jews was undertaken.
The destination consisted of the eastern territories, via the General Govermnent
Evacuation via the General Government is a provisional measure. The Jews ultimately will be transferred to the eastern occupied territories when the necessary conditions are created.[proper extermination capabilities]
The difficulties of the war and the prospects opened by the Russian campaign had brought about the provisional abandonment of the policy of total emigration.
Je demande pardon a ceux de nos amis qui ne parlent pas l'Anglais
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