The Nazis & the Jews: The Madagascar Plan
(July 3, 1940)
The Madagascar Plan was a proposal for Jewish settlement devised by the Nazi regime in the late 1930's.
On December 9, 1938, French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet informed German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop that in order to rid France of 10,000 Jewish refugees it would be necessary to ship them elsewhere. At that time, the Nazi regime considered mass emigration to be the "Final Solution" to the "Jewish problem."
On March 5, 1938, the SS officer in charge of forced Jewish emigration, Adolf Eichmann, was commissioned to assemble material to provide the chief of the Security Police (SIPO) Reinhard Heydrich with "a foreign policy solution as it had been negotiated between Poland and France," i.e., the Madagascar Plan. Temporarily shelved in the wake of the war, the project was taken up again after the fall of France in the summer of 1940.
Eichmann prepared a detailed official report on the island of Madagascar and its "colonization" possibilities based on information gathered from the French Colonial Office. He added an evacuation plan calling for 4 million Jews to be shipped to Madagascar over a period of four years and also advocated the creation of a "police reserve" as a giant ghetto. The plan was to be financed by a special bank managing confiscated Jewish property and by contributions exacted from world Jewry.
The plan leaked out and was published in Italy in July 1940. In August 1940, the Third Reich officially endorsed the Madagascar Plan. Alarmed by the plan, the American Jewish Committee commissioned a special report, published in May 1941, that sought to demonstrate that Jews could not survive the conditions on the island. By that time, however, the Nazis were already well underway with a different "Final Solution" - the extermination program.
On February 10, 1942, only a few weeks after
the Wannsee Conference, the Madagascar Plan was officially shelved and replaced in public policy statements with the lexicon of "evacuation to the East."
Text of the Madagascar Proposal
The approaching victory gives Germany the possibility, and in my view also the duty, of solving the Jewish question in Europe. The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe.
The task of the Foreign Ministry in this is:
a) To include this demand in the Peace Treaty and to insist on it also by means of separate negotiations with the European countries not involved in the Peace Treaty;
b) to secure the territory necessary for the settlement of the Jews in the Peace Treaty, and to determine principles for the cooperation of the enemy countries in this problem;
c) to determine the position under international law of the new Jewish overseas settlement;
d) as preparatory measures:
1) clarification of the wishes and plans of the departments concerned of the Party, State and Research organizations in Germany, and the coordination of these plans with the wishes of the Reich Foreign Minister, including the following:
2) preparation of a survey of the factual data available in various places (number of Jews in the various countries), use of their financial assets through an international bank;
3) negotiations with our friend, Italy, on these matters.
With regard to beginning the preparatory work, Section D III has already approached the Reich Foreign Minister via the Department Germany [interior affairs], and has been instructed by him to start on the preparatory work without delay. There have already been discussions with the Office of the Reichsfuehrer SS in the Ministry of Interior and several departments of the Party. These departments approve the following plan of Section D III:
Section D III proposes as a solution of the Jewish question: In the Peace Treaty France must make the island of Madagascar available for the solution of the Jewish question, and to resettle and compensate the approximately 25,000 French citizens living there. The island will be transferred to Germany under a mandate. Diégo Suarez Bay and the port of Antsirane, which are [sea-] strategically important, will become German naval bases (if the Navy wishes, these naval bases could be extended also to the harbors – open road-steads – Tamatave, Andevorante, Mananjara, etc.). In addition to these naval bases, suitable areas of the country will be excluded from the Jewish territory (Judenterritorium) for the construction of air bases. That part of the island not required for military purposes will be placed under the administration of a German Police Governor, who will be under the administration of the Reichsfuehrer SS. Apart from this, the Jews will have their own administration in this territory: their own mayors, police, postal and railroad administration, etc. The Jews will be jointly liable for the value of the island. For this purpose their former European financial assets will be transferred for use to a European bank to be established for this purpose. Insofar as the assets are not sufficient to pay for the land which they will receive, and for the purchase of necessary commodities in Europe for the development of the island, the Jews will be able to receive bank credits from the same bank.
As Madagascar will only be a Mandate, the Jews living there will not acquire German citizenship. On the other hand, the Jews deported to Madagascar will lose their citizenship of European countries from the date of deportation. Instead, they will become residents of the Mandate of Madagascar.
This arrangement would prevent the possible establishment in Palestine by the Jews of a Vatican State of their own, and the opportunity for them to exploit for their own purposes the symbolic importance which Jerusalem has for the Christian and Mohammedan parts of the world. Moreover, the Jews will remain in German hands as a pledge for the future good behavior of the members of their race in America.
Use can be made for propaganda purposes of the generosity shown by Germany in permitting cultural, economic, administrative and legal self-administration to the Jews; it can be emphasized at the same time that our German sense of responsibility towards the world forbids us to make the gift of a sovereign state to a race which has had no independent state for thousands of years: this would still require the test of history.
Berlin, July 3, 1940
Sources: Yad Vashem; Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.