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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;; Yad Vashem

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