Madagascar, an island located off the coast of East Africa, has never
been home to a significant number of Jews. After the island became a
French colony, a small number of Jewish families settled in Tananarive,
but they did not establish a Jewish community.
In the summer of 1940, Heinrich
Himmler proposed to Hitler and the Nazi Party the plot to transport the entire Jewish population to the island. The "Madagascar Plan" was proposed by Franz Rademacher, the Jewish affairs expert in the German
Foreign Office. Rademacher laid out his plan in his memorandum, "The
Jewish Question in the Peace Treaty" on July 3, 1940.
The plan called for the French colony to be turned over to the Germans,
who would establish military bases on the island.
The Madagascar population
of 25,000, mainly Europeans, would be removed and the Jews would be
forcibly relocated there. Hitler discussed the plan with Mussolini in June 1940, but there were many failings in the plot. The Nazis intended
to move four million Jews, not including Russian Jews, to an island
unable to accommodate even a population of 40,000 to 60,000, as determined
by a Polish commission previously discussing the relocation of the Jews
in 1937. The Madagascar
Plan ultimately became unfeasible when the Battle
of Britain took longer than the Nazis expected and Hitler made the
decision to invade the Soviet Union in the fall of 1940. Germany was
left in no position to transfer Jews.
When Madagascar gained its independence in 1960 and became the Malagasy
Republic, Israel was one of the first
nations to send an ambassador. Relations between the two countries are
close, and, over the years, the leaders of both countries have exchanged
visits a number of times.
Sources: "Madagascar." Encyclopedia
Judaica. CD-ROM Edition. Judaica Multimedia. 1997; about.com; Yad Vashem