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A Nazi Travels to Palestine

Baron von Mildenstein and the S.S. support of Zionism in Germany from 1934-1936.

In the spring of 1933 four people gathered on a platform of Berlin’s railway station ready to board a train for Trieste, where they were to take a ship bounds for Palestine. What made this group unusual was the fact that it was composed of two couples, one Jewish, the other Nazi, only two months after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of the German Reich and his first legislation against non-Aryans. Yet the two couples were travelling with the sanction of both the Nazi (National Socialist German Workers) Party and the Zionist Federation of Germany. They were engaged in a mission whose invisible fellow-traveller ws the fate of German Jewry.

The Nazis boarding the train were Baron Leopold Itz von Mildenstein and his wife. Von Mildenstein was a member of both the Nazi party and of Hitler’s elite bodyguard, the S.S. His Jewish travelling companions were Kurt Tuchler, an official of the Zionist Federation of Germany, who was also accompanied by his wife. What had brought them together on this journey to Palestine was their common desire, motivated by radically different objectives, to make Germany ‘free of Jews’, or, as the Nazis put it, Judenrein . Where the National Socialists had not yet worked out a solution to ‘the Jewish question’, the Zionists, with their ambition to establish a Jewish homeland and their sponsorship of Jewish emigration to Palestine, had an answer. After the boycott of German Jews of April 1st, 1933, and the introduction of the non-Aryan legislation less than a week later, Hitler remained largely aloof from the Jewish question, and up until the Party orchestrated pogrom of November 9th-10th, 1938, there was no specific policy concerning its solution. This left the field of Jewish affairs wide open to officials like von Mildenstein to advance policies they thought might solve the problem of what to do with Germany's half-a-million Jews.

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