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The Jewish Question & German Foreign Policy

Foreign Ministry Circular


Berlin, January 25, 1939

83—26 19/1


Subject: The Jewish Question as a Factor in Foreign Policy in 1938.

1. Germany’s Jewish policy as condition and consequence of foreign policy decisions in 1938.

2. The aim of German Jewish policy: emigration.

3. Means, ways and destinations of Jewish emigration.

4. The Jewish émigré as the best propaganda for Germany’s Jewish policy.

It is probably no coincidence that the fateful year of 1938 brought not only the realization of the concept of a Greater Germany, but at the same time has brought the Jewish question close to solution. For the Jewish policy was both precondition and consequence of the events of 1938. More than the power politics and hostility of the former enemy Allies of the World War it was the penetration of Jewish influence and the corrupting Jewish mentality in politics, economy and culture which paralyzed the strength and the will of the German people to rise once more. The cure of this disease of the body politic was probably one of the most important preconditions for the strenuous effort which in 1938 enforced the consolidation of the Greater German Reich against the will of a whole world.

But the need for a radical solution of the Jewish question also resulted from the developments in foreign affairs which added 200,000 persons of the Jewish faith in Austria to the 500,000 living in the old Reich. The influence of the Jews in the Austrian economy, which had increased beyond measure under the Schuschnigg system, made it necessary to take immediate steps to eliminate the Jews from the German economy and to apply Jewish financial resources in the public interest. The campaign launched in reprisal for the assassination of Secretary of Legation vom Rath has speeded up this process so greatly that Jewish retail trade – so far with the exception of foreign-owned stores – has vanished completely from our streets. The liquidation of Jewish wholesale and manufacturing enterprises, and of houses and real estate owned by Jews, is gradually progressing so far that within a limited period of time the existence of Jewish property will in Germany be a thing of the past....

The ultimate aim of Germany’s Jewish policy is the emigration of all Jews living in German territory....

The Jew has been eliminated from politics and culture, but until 1938 his powerful economic position in Germany and his tenacious determination to hold out until the return of "better times" remained unbroken.

...As long as the Jew could still make money in the German economy there was, in the eyes of world Jewry, no need to give up the Jewish bastion in Germany.

But the Jew had underestimated the consistency and strength of the National-Socialist idea. Together with the complex of states in Central Europe created at Versailles for the purpose of holding Germany down, the Jewish position of strength in Vienna and Prague also collapsed. With its race legislation, Italy took its place by the side of Germany in the struggle against Jewry. In Bucharest Professor Goga, an expert on the Jewish question, took over the government with a program directed against the Jews, but was unable to assert himself against the overwhelming international pressure from Paris and London. In Hungary and Poland the Jews were subjected to special legislation. The German political success at Munich, like an earthquake with distinct tremors, is beginning to shatter the position which the Jews have consolidated for centuries even in distant countries.

It is understandable that world Jewry, which "has chosen America as its headquarters," recognizes as its own defeat the Munich agreement, which in the American view signifies the collapse of the democratic front in Europe. Experience has shown that the system of parliamentary democracy has always aided the Jews to obtain wealth and political power at the expense of the host nation. It is probably for the first time in modern history that Jewry must now retreat from a previously secure position.

This decision was only taken in 1938. It took shape in the efforts of the Western democracies, and the United States of America in particular, to extend international control and protection to the now-finally decided Jewish withdrawal from Germany, that is, the emigration of the Jew. The American President Roosevelt, "who, as is known, included a number of spokesmen of Jewry amongst his close advisers," convened an international conference to discuss the refugee question as early as the middle of 1938, which took place in Evian without producing any notable practical results. The two questions which needed to be answered as a condition of organized Jewish emigration remained open: first, of how this emigration was to be organized and financed; and secondly, the question of where the emigration was to be directed.

International Jewry, in particular, seemed disinclined to make a contribution towards the solution of the first question. Rather, it considered the Conference – and the Committee subsequently established in London by the Conference under the leadership of an American named Rublee – as having for its main aim to create international pressure on Germany to enforce the release of Jewish funds to the largest possible extent....

The second question, to which countries the organized emigration of the Jews should be directed, could be solved just as little by the Evian Conference;* each of the countries taking part expressed its agreement in principle to help solve the refugee problem, but declared that it was unable to accept large masses of Jewish émigrés into its territory. While in the years 1933/34 more than 100,000 Jews from Germany made their way abroad, legally or illegally, and were able to gain a foothold in a new host nation, either with the aid of relatives living abroad, or the pity of humanitarian circles, by now almost all countries in the world have sealed their borders hermetically against the burdensome Jewish intruders....

Even the migration of only about 100,000 Jews has been sufficient to waken the interest in, if not the understanding of, the Jewish danger in many countries, and it can be foreseen that the Jewish question will develop into an international political problem when large numbers of Jews from Germany, Poland, Hungary and Rumania are set in motion by the increasing pressure of their host nations. Even for Germany the Jewish question will not be solved when the last Jew has left German soil....

Palestine, which has already been designated by a popular catchword as the target of emigration, cannot be considered as such because its absorptive capacity for a mass influx of Jews is insufficient. Under pressure of Arab resistance the British Mandatory Government has limited Jewish immigration into Palestine to a minimum.

At first the emigration of German Jews to Palestine received extensive support from Germany through the conclusion of an agreement with Jewish representatives in Palestine permitting the transfer of Jewish funds by means of additional exports (the Ha’avara Agreement).** Apart from the fact that this method enabled only a small number of well-to-do Jews to emigrate, but not the mass of Jews without property, there were also basic considerations of principle and of foreign policy which created an objection to this form of emigration: the transfer of Jewish property from Germany contributed in no small measure to the development of a Jewish State in Palestine. But Germany is obliged to discern the danger in the creation of a Jewish State, which even in a miniature form could provide world Jewry with a basis for action similar to that of the Vatican State for political Catholicism, and could absorb only a fraction of the Jews. The realization that Jewry will always be the implacable enemy of the Third Reich forces us to the decision to prevent any strengthening of the Jewish position. A Jewish State would give world Jewry increased power in international law and relations. Alfred Rosenberg formulated this thought in his address at Detmold on January 15, 1939, in the follmanner:

"Jewry is striving today for a Jewish State in Palestine. Not in order to offer a home to Jews from all over the world, however, but for other reasons: world Jewry must have a little miniature state in order to send ambassadors and delegates with extraterritorial rights to all countries in the world and through them to promote its lust for domination. But above all they want a center for Jewry, a Jewish State where Jewish swindlers from the whole world can be given refuge when they are pursued by the police of other countries, supplied with new passports and then sent to other parts of the world. It would be desirable if the friends of the Jews in the world, and particularly in Western democracies, which have at their command so much space all over earth, were to provide the Jews with an area outside Palestine, but of course not in order to set up a Jewish State, but a Reservation for the Jews."

That is the program of German foreign policy as regards the Jewish question. Germany has an important interest in seeing the splintering of Jewry maintained. Those who argue that this will cause the creation of sources of boycott and anti-German centers all over the world disregard a development already evident, that the influx of Jews arouses the resistance of the native population in all parts of the world and thus provides the best propaganda for Germany’s policy towards the Jews.

In North America, in South America, in France, in Holland, Scandinavia and Greece – wherever the stream of Jewish migrants has poured in, a clear increase in anti-Semitism has already been recorded. It must be an aim of German foreign policy to strengthen this wave of anti-Semitism....

The poorer the Jewish immigrant is and the greater the burden he constitutes for the country into which he has immigrated, the stronger the reaction will be in the host country, and the more desirable the effect in support of German propaganda. The aim of this German policy is a future international solution of the Jewish question, dictated not by false pity for a "Jewish religious minority that has been driven out" but by the mature realization by all nations of the nature of the danger that Jewry spells for the national character of the nations.


Akten zur deutschen auswaertigen Politik 1918-1945 ("Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945"), series D (1937-1945), Vol. V, Baden-Baden, 1953, pp. 780-785.

Yad Vashem