The Quadruple Trap of the European Jews, as Reflected in New Archival Sources

  • Shlomo Aronson


After hitler’s rise to power, most of the Jews of Europe were manoeuvred into a hopeless trap. The initial Nazi plan envisaged the forced emigration of Jews, which included the so-called ‘Madagascar Plan’. But when the ‘Final Solution’ was imposed, the Jews were trapped not only by Hitler’s measures but by the Allies’ refusal to assist them, the result of fears of hostile public reaction to a ‘Jews’ War’ which would damage domestic mobilization and strategic interests in the Middle East and the fact that other considerations and the maintenance of the grand coalition were given the utmost priority. At the political level, the rescue of Jews would have involved the Allies in dealing with Nazi Germany, thus making the Jews a Nazi political asset, and would have entailed the danger of flooding their own countries or Palestine and other territories under their control with unwanted Jews; rescuing the Jews would also have brought trouble with the Soviets, with other Nazi victims who might make similar claims, and with the Arab/Muslim world.1


Jewish Community National Archive Rescue Worker Archival Source Record Group 
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  1. 1.
    There is a growing scholarly literature on these aspects of the Holocaust, starting with Bernard Wasserstein’s pioneering work Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939–1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979). And see further Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies (Tel-Aviv: Am Oved Press, Hebrew edition, 1981).Google Scholar
  2. Tony Kushner, The Persistence of Prejudice: Antisemitism in British Society during the Second World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989), Henry L. Feingold’s classic, The Politics of Rescue: The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938–1945 (paperback edition, New York: Holocaust Library, 1970), andGoogle Scholar
  3. Leonard Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See for previous discussion Richard Breitman and Shlomo Aronson, ‘The End of the “Final Solution”? Nazi Plans to Ransom Jews in 1944’, in Central European History, Vol. 25 no 2, 1993, pp.177–203, henceforth Breitman-Aronson 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 13.
    See in this regard: Juergen Heidekind and Christof Mauch, ‘Das Herman Dossier, Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, die Deutsche Emigration in Istanbul und der Amerikanische Geheimdienst Office of Strategic Services’, in Vierteljahreshefte fuer Zeitgeschichre 40 (1992) S. 567–623.Google Scholar
  6. 41.
    Eichmann’s formulation according to Brand in his meeting with Shertok in Aleppo, Syria, 11 June 1944, Ben-Gurion Archive, General Correspondence Files. For Shertok’s further reports on his talks with the British in London, and the Jewish Agency’s deliberations in this regard see most updated list of sources and details in the most recent scholarly publication: Tuvia Friling, Arrow in the Fog: Ben-Gurion, the Yishuv’s Leadership and Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Ben-Gurion and Hebrew University Presses, 1998), vol.11, pp.963–998.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Shlomo Aronson

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