How the Nazis Planned to Deport All Jews to Madagascar
And how it led to the Holocaust
Did Adolph Hitler just wake up one fine morning and decided he wanted to exterminate all the Jews of Europe? Or maybe it was SS official Reinhard Heydrich, whom he had described as ‘the man with the iron heart’, that came up with the idea?
That is of course bollocks. Ideas of this magnitude (their realization more specifically) never randomly leap into consciousness but rather come, as is to be expected, step-by-step. And so it happens that there is a very important psychological step that leads to the ‘Final Solution’: The Madagascar Plan.
Origins of the plan
The idea of relocating portions of the Jewish population to Madagascar did not originate in Nazi Germany.
The Polish government had already commissioned a task force in 1937 to examine the possibility of settling Polish Jews on the island. Even the French government had considered deporting some 10,000 of its Jewish population to Madagascar.
What? The Nazis were not the only ones that wanted to get rid of the Jews?
The truth of the matter is that the Jews are one of the people who have suffered most in this Earth as they have been discriminated against and attacked in every single nation on which they settled and this for almost all their history. The Nazis were the more extreme case in what was otherwise the rule back in the Europe of the early 20th century.
Maybe this prolonged suffering and resistance is the main reason behind their greatness! But back to our story.
The Nazi plan
Antisemitism was one of the basic tenets of the Nazi ideology. The government started to discriminate against Jews as soon as they seized power in 1933. Through a combination of economic as well as violent pressures, they succeeded in having more than half of the Jewish population in Germany voluntarily leave the country by 1939.
The first idea of the Nazi leadership, therefore, was to deport the remaining Jewish population to some very undeveloped country so that they would also have no chances of flourishing. The third most powerful man in the government, SS Commander Heinrich Himmler framed it like this:
To completely eliminate the term ‘Jew’ through massive immigration of all Jews to Africa or some other colony.
Believe it or not, the man who would be pivotal to the holocaust, considered the physical extermination of a people “un-Germanic and impossible”. After some considerations, it was finally decided for Madagascar.
The plan was developed in the initial stages of World War II, in 1940 when Germany was close to conquering France because Madagascar was then a French colony. The originator of this idea also noted that the resettled Jews could also be used as a means of pressure in order to obtain the ‘good behavior’ of America, which according to the Nazis was run by Jews.
The plan was then communicated to Hitler who seemed to be quite enthused by it, discussing it even with the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. By the time France surrendered on 22 June, it was decided that all the Jews of Europe would be deported at a rate of one million per year for four years. Every aspect of life on the island would be maintained and controlled by the SS, the most infamous Nazi organization.
The founding of a special European bank was also thought of. The purpose of this bank would be to act as an intermediary between Madagascar and the rest of the world as the Jews would not be allowed to financially interact with outsiders.
The flow of information in and out of the island would also be subject to the Ministry of Propaganda headed by Goebbels. It was moreover expected that most of the Jewish population would perish in harsh conditions on the island (Madagascar at that time was very unfit for such a large emigration plan) and in the hands of the SS. In other words, this would have been another, subtler and slyer kind of genocide.
The plan changes
With the failure of Germany to conquer Britain, it soon became clear that such an endeavor would be impossible as the British began to enforce a naval blockade.
After the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union, it was then decided that the Jews would now be deported to the Soviet Union, where they would either be used as slave labor, or murdered after Soviet defeat.
However, once it became clear that ‘the victory’ against the Soviet Union would not be a quick one, it was finally decided that the Jews should perish in extermination camps set up mainly in occupied areas of Poland.
The fact is that the Nazis did not come up with the ‘Final Solution’, the plan to exterminate Jews, overnight. It rather developed in stages and took its final form only in 1942 during what is now known as the Wannsee Conference.
As a matter of fact, the Final Solution was just the culmination of centuries-old persecution of a people who were always seen as scapegoats for all kinds of problems.