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Location of Madagascar
|Ethnic groups||Jews, Malagasy people|
226,597 sq mi
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The evacuation of European Jews to the island of Madagascar was not a new concept. Paul de Lagarde, an anti-semitic orientalist scholar, apparently first suggested the idea in 1885, and it was taken up in the 1920s by Henry Hamilton Beamish, Arnold Leese and others. For its part, the Zionist Movement in 1904-5 seriously debated — though it ultimately rejected — the British Uganda Programme by which Jews were to be settled in Uganda. The adherents of Territorialism split off from Zionism and looked throughout the world for places where Jews might settle and create a state or at least an autonomous area — though they are not known to have considered Madagascar, specifically, in that role.
In Nazi Germany 
The leaders of Nazi Germany seized on the idea, and Adolf Hitler signed off on it in 1938. In May 1940, Heinrich Himmler, in his Reflections on the Treatment of Peoples of Alien Races in the East, declared: "I hope that the concept of Jews will be completely extinguished through the possibility of a large emigration of all Jews to Africa or some other colony."
Planning begins 
Although some discussion of this plan had been brought forward from 1938 by other well-known Nazi ideologues, such as Julius Streicher, Hermann Göring, Alfred Rosenberg and Joachim von Ribbentrop, it was not until 1940 that the planning process was actually set in motion. Following the Franco-German armistice of 25 June, Franz Rademacher recommended as one of the terms of a peace treaty with France, that France make her colony Madagascar available as a destination for Jews from Europe.
Rademacher, recently appointed leader of the Judenreferat III der Abteilung Deutschland, or Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, included in the memorandum to his superior Martin Luther a definition of the mechanics of Jewish evacuation out of Europe. "The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe," said Rademacher. Rademacher believed that Jews transported to Madagascar should be deprived of their citizenship. Once Jews had been transported to Madagascar, further theorized Rademacher, they would be used as hostages to ensure "future good behavior of the members of their race in America".
On receiving the June 3rd memorandum, Luther broached the subject with Foreign Minister Ribbentrop. By June 18, Hitler himself, as well as Ribbentrop, spoke of the Plan with Benito Mussolini in reference to the fate of France after its defeat. On June 20, Hitler spoke directly of the Madagascar Plan with Grand Admiral Erich Raeder.
Once learning of the new potential of the Plan, Reinhard Heydrich, appointed in 1939 by Göring to oversee Jewish evacuation from German-occupied territory, had Ribbentrop relinquish any future actions to the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office). In this way, Adolf Eichmann, who headed the sub-office of Jewish evacuation in the RSHA, became involved. On August 15, Eichmann released a draft titled Reichssicherheitshauptamt: Madagaskar Projekt, calling for the resettlement of one million Jews per year for four years, and abandoning the idea of retaining any Jews in Europe whatsoever. The RSHA, he emphasised, would control all aspects of the program.
Most Nazi officials, especially the authorities of the General Government (which administered the rump remains of Poland) including Hans Frank, viewed the forced resettlement of 4,000,000 Jews to Madagascar as being infinitely more desirable than the heretofore piecemeal efforts at deportation into Poland. As of July 10, all such deportations were cancelled, and construction of the Warsaw ghetto was halted, since it appeared to be unnecessary.
Planning continues 
Rademacher envisioned the founding of a European bank that would ultimately liquidate all European Jewish assets in order to pay for the Plan. This bank would then play an intermediary role between Madagascar and the rest of Europe, as Jews would not be allowed to interact financially with outsiders. Göring's office of the Four Year Plan would oversee the administration of the Plan's economics.
Additionally, Rademacher foresaw roles for other government agencies. Ribbentrop's Foreign Affairs Ministry would negotiate the French peace treaty that would result in the handing over of Madagascar to Germany. It would also play a part in crafting other treaties to deal with Europe's Jews. Its Information Department, along with Joseph Goebbels in the Propaganda Ministry, would control information at home and abroad regarding the policy. Victor Brack of the Führer Chancellory would oversee transportation. The SS would carry on the Jewish expulsion in Europe, and ultimately govern the island in a police state. It was envisioned that the Third Reich would win the Battle of Britain and invade and conquer Great Britain in Operation Sea Lion—then the British Fleet could be taken over by Germany and used to transport the Jews to Madagascar. How the native Malagasy population of Madagascar was to fit in with this plan was never elaborated upon, nor did the Plan explicitly outline how millions of Jewish refugees would live at all in an environmentally-brutal and poor country.
The Germans' desired perception from the outside world would be that Germany had given "autonomy" to the Jewish settlement in Madagascar; however, Eichmann made it plain in his draft that the SS would control and oversee every Jewish organization that was created to govern the island.
Plan abandoned 
In late August 1940 Rademacher entreated Ribbentrop to hold a meeting at his Ministry to begin drawing up a panel of experts to consolidate the Plan. Ribbentrop never responded. Likewise, Eichmann's draft languished with Heydrich, who never approved it. The Warsaw ghetto was completed and opened in October. Expulsions of Jews from German territory into occupied Poland continued again from late autumn 1940 to spring 1941.
The United Kingdom strongly resisted during the Battle of Britain, and Germany was unable to achieve a quick victory by September. The British fleet would not be at Germany's disposal to be used in evacuations, and World War II would continue indefinitely. Mention of Madagascar as a "super ghetto" was made once in a while in the ensuing months, but by early December, the Plan was abandoned entirely. When British and British Empire forces took Madagascar from Vichy forces in 1942 and transferred it to the Free French, this effectively ended all talk of the Plan.
See also 
- Nazi Germany
- Haavara Agreement
- British Uganda Program
- Fugu Plan
- Functionalism versus intentionalism
- Operation Ironclad
- Brechtken, Magnus: Madagaskar für die Juden: Antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1885-1945, 2nd edition, Wissenschaftsverlag, Oldenbourg, Germany, 1998 ISBN 3-486-56384-X, 9783486563849
- Browning, Christopher R.: The Origins of the Final Solution, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, and Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2004 ISBN 0-8032-1327-1
- Ainsztein, R. Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Eastern Europe, Elek Books Limited, London, 1974.
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2007)|
- Browning, Christopher R. The Origins of the Final Solution. 2004. Page 81
- Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: 1936-1945: Nemesis. New York: Norton, 2000. pp.320-322
- Rademacher, "The Jewish Question in the Peace Treaty," memo of 3 July 1940.