Zionist militia's efforts to recruit Nazis against Britain revealed by Israel's archives
Newly-unveiled transcripts from Israel's state archives reveal the attempts made by Zionist militias to enlist Nazi Germany in their battle against British Mandate authorities in Palestine.
“Eighty-one years later, it is still hard to understand how Jews in the Land of Israel could have believed in enlisting Nazi Germany in the struggle to liberate the homeland from British control,” Haaretz wrote.
The transcripts were released to the public last month and include the interrogation of Efraim Zetler, a member of the pre-Israeli state Lehi Zionist militia, who was kidnapped by Haganah fighters in 1942. The Haganah, formed in 1920, was another Zionist paramilitary.
“We will communicate with any military power ready to help with the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, even if it’s Germany,” Zetler told the interrogators. “The only condition is that we get weapons, so we can rebel against the English,” he added.
“If Germany agrees to help us fight enemy number 1, the English, we’ll team up with it,” he continued, saying about Germany: “It’s not an enemy of the Jews in Israel.”
In its article, Haaretz revealed information that dispelled the Zionist narrative of Palestinian collaboration with Nazi Germany.
Zetler was interrogated roughly two weeks following the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, where Nazi officials deliberated on the execution of the Final Solution. Securing Nazi support is believed to have been suggested two years prior by Avraham Stern, the Lehi leader who championed aggressive opposition to British governance.
According to Haaretz, Lehi agents met with an official from the German foreign ministry in Beirut at the end of 1940.
The document that was presented suggested various strategies, including a partnership between Jewish militia and the Nazis.
In the document, it was proposed that Lehi actively participate in the war alongside Germany, arguing that a mutual interest existed between the "German perspective and the authentic national ambitions of the Jewish people".
“The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a totalitarian national basis, in an alliance relationship with the German Reich, is compatible with the preservation of German power,” the document stated.
According to Haaretz, the Nazis did not respond.
During that period, Germany allegedly favoured the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had sought asylum in Germany to escape the British and had harboured hopes that the German leader would aid in expelling the British.
“A kosher strategy that ends in failure is wrong; a ‘wrong’ strategy that ends in victory is the most strictly kosher of all,” Stern said.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.