Little Bits of History

June 3

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 3, 2017

1940: Franz Rademacher recommends the Madagascar Plan. Rademacher was born in northern Germany in 1906 and studied law in Munich. He began practicing law in 1932 and was a member of the Nazi stormtroopers between 1932-34. In 1933 he joined the Nazi Party and was a vocal anti-Semite. He began  a term as a diplomat in the German embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay on the southeast coast of South America in 1937 and returned home in May 1940 to lead Referat D III or the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Upon his return, he began to formulate plans to deport Jews to Madagascar, the island off the coast of Africa.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s many plans for the expulsion and resettlement of European Jews were put forth. The first suggestion came in 1878 when Paul de Legarde (German biblical scholar and orientalist) wrote in Deutsche Schriffen (German Writings) about Madagascar as a destination. The Zionist movement in 1904-05 debated moving Jews in Russia but they were about to be subjected to a forced move from there to Kenya. It was deemed unworkable. The idea popped up repeatedly with forced relocations and Madagascar became the site. It was championed by the British, French, and Polish task forces. Unlike the Nazi program, these propositions were in order to protect the migrants.

The Polish government first debated the idea of deporting Polish Jews to Madagascar in 1937 but abandoned the idea after some study. It was found the island could only accommodate about 5,000 to 7,000 families with some estimates as low as 500 families. They instead, encouraged the voluntary emigration of Jews prior to the outbreak of World War II. On this day, the idea was officially revived by Rademacher’s recommendation. Adolf Eichmann gained Hitler’s approval and released a memo on August 14, 1940 calling for the resettlement of a million Jews per year for the next four years and putting the island under the governance of the SS. It was assumed many would die of the harsh conditions imposed.

The Nazis were looking for barren and unproductive lands as a destination site since these would keep evacuees from flourishing in their new home. Since voluntary emigration had only rid Germany of about half their Jews, they opted to deport the rest overseas. The Party had as a goal as getting all Jews out of Europe. Although Rademacher had considered Palestine as drop zone, he concluded a strong Jewish state in the Middle East was undesirable and at the time, Palestine was under British control. Instead, Madagascar was chosen. However, the war’s progress got in the way of the plan and it was abandoned. The Battle of Britain was a spectacular disappointment and  the Madagascar Plan was put on permanent hold. Instead of relocating Jews,  they would be exterminated.

The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe. – Franz Rademacher

It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed. – Elie Wiesel

Bulgaria was the only Axis country to deflect insistent German demands for the deportation of its Jews. – Norman Davies

Spring and summer 1942 was probably the worst period of internal terror in Slovakia. It was also the time of mass deportation of Slovak Jews to the extermination camps in Poland. – Alexander Dubcek

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