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Dervla Murphy (Viewpoints, 30 April) writes that “Livingstone may not be everyone’s pin-up boy but he does know his history” and quotes various facts about negotiations between the Nazis and the German Zionist organisation in 1933.
These are essentially correct but create a totally misleading impression when read today knowing the Nazis’ later treatment of Jews.
In 1933, nobody believed the Nazis were intent on mass-murder — everyone assumed their main objective was to reduce ‘Jewish influence’.
Hitler’s rants in Mein Kampf were not taken seriously — even if anybody actually read the book and, given its turgid style, even native German speakers would have probably given up after a few pages.
Admittedly, Nazi thugs had attacked Jews in the streets but, compared to what had happened in the Russian pogroms from 1880 onwards, or what was going on in east European countries, these were not very remarkable.
It was no coincidence that the extermination camps were all located outside Germany in territories where violent antisemitism was really endemic.
The camps in Germany, such as Dachau and Buchenwald, were initially only internment centres for political opponents of the regime. Inmates were savagely mistreated, but they were not production-line mass-murder faculties.
With hindsight, this attitude was mistaken but the linking of Zionism with Nazism, which occurred in the early days of the regime, to denigrate Israel, as if there existed some sort of ZioNazism, borders on antisemitism itself.
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