Leopold von Mildenstein
Leopold Itz, Edler von Mildenstein (30 November 1902 – November 1968) was an SS officer of the 1930s and 1940s who is remembered as a leader of the Nazi Party's support during the 1930s for the aims of Zionism.
He sometimes worked as a writer and used the pen name LIM (his initials). In English he has sometimes been called a "Baron" although his rank of Edler meant "nobleman" and has no exact equivalent; perhaps the nearest translation is "Esquire".
After the Second World War, Mildenstein continued to live in West Germany, where he joined the Free Democratic Party and was elected to its Press Committee. In 1956, he went to Egypt to work for a radio station, and after the capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1960 he claimed immunity as an intelligence agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency, a claim which was neither confirmed nor denied. Nothing was heard of him after 1964, when he published a book on cocktails.
Born in 1902 in Prague, then part of Austria-Hungary, Mildenstein belonged to the lowest tier of the Austrian nobility and was brought up as a Roman Catholic. He trained as an engineer and joined the Nazi Party in 1929, receiving the membership number 106,678. In 1932 he joined the SS, becoming one of the first Austrians to do so. According to his former SS colleague Dieter Wisliceny, from the First World War until 1935 Mildenstein visited the Middle East, including British-administered Palestine, several times. On 30 January 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power as Chancellor of Germany.
Mildenstein had taken an early interest in Zionism, even going so far as to attend Zionist conferences to help deepen his understanding of the movement. He actively promoted Zionism as a way out of the official impasse on the Jewish question: as a way of making Germany Judenrein (free of Jews). Some Zionists, whose movement had grown tremendously in popularity among German Jews since Hitler came to power, co-operated. On 7 April 1933, the Juedische Rundschau, the bi-weekly paper of the Zionist movement, declared that of all Jewish groups only the Zionist Federation of Germany was capable of approaching the Nazis in good faith as "honest partners". The Federation then commissioned Kurt Tuchler to make contact with possible Zionist sympathisers within the Nazi Party, with the aim of facilitating emigration to Palestine, and Tuchler approached Mildenstein, who was asked to write something positive about Jewish Palestine in the press. Mildenstein agreed, on condition that he be allowed to visit the country in person, with Tuchler as his guide. So, in the spring of 1933 a party of four set out from Berlin, consisting of Mildenstein, Tuchler, and their wives. They spent a month together in Palestine, and Mildenstein began to write a series of articles for Der Angriff, a Nazi Party newspaper in Berlin which Joseph Goebbels had founded in 1927 and still controlled. Mildenstein himself remained in Palestine for a total of six months before his return to Germany as an enthusiast for Zionism. He even began to study Hebrew. In August 1933 Hitler's government and German Zionists entered into the Haavara Agreement, which encouraged emigration by allowing Jews to transfer property from Germany to Palestine.
On his return to Berlin, Mildenstein's suggestion that the solution to the Jewish problem lay in mass migration to Palestine was accepted by his superiors within the SS. From August 1934 to June 1936 Mildenstein worked in the headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the security service of the SS, in Section II/112, in charge of the Jewish Desk, with the title of Judenreferent (Jewish Affairs Officer). This title meant that he was responsible for reporting on "Jewish Affairs" under the overall command of Reinhard Heydrich. During those years, Mildenstein favoured a policy of encouraging Germany's Jewish population to emigrate to Palestine, and in pursuit of this policy he developed positive contacts with Zionist organizations. SS officials were even instructed to encourage the activities of the Zionists within the Jewish community, who were to be favoured over the assimilationists, said to be the real danger to National Socialism. Even the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 had a special Zionist provision, allowing the Jews to fly their own flag.
Adolf Eichmann, later one of the most significant organizers of the Holocaust, believed that his big break came in 1934, when he had a meeting with Mildenstein, a fellow-Austrian, in the Wilhelmstrasse and was invited to join Mildenstein's department. Eichmann later stated that Mildenstein rejected the vulgar anti-semitism of Streicher. Soon after his arrival in the section Mildenstein gave Eichmann a book on Judaism by Adolf Boehm, a leading Jew from Vienna.
Between 9 September and 9 October 1934 the Nazi Party newspaper Der Angriff published a series of twelve pro-Zionist articles by Mildenstein under the title A Nazi Goes to Palestine. In honour of his visit, the newspaper issued a commemorative medallion, with the swastika on one side and the Star of David on the other.
In the summer of 1935, then holding the rank of SS-Untersturmführer, Mildenstein attended the 19th Congress of the Zionist Organization in Lucerne, Switzerland, as an observer attached to the German Jewish delegation. Mildenstein's apparently pro-Zionist line was overtaken by events, and after a dispute with Reinhard Heydrich in 1936 he was removed from his post and transferred to the Foreign Ministry's press department. He had fallen out of favour because migration to Palestine was not proceeding at a fast enough rate. His departure from the SD also saw a shift in SS policy, marked by the publication of a pamphlet warning of the dangers of a strong Jewish state in the Middle East, written by another "expert" on Jewish matters who had been invited to join Section II/112 by Mildenstein himself, Eichmann. Mildenstein was replaced as the head of his former section by Kuno Schroeder. Later in December 1939, Eichmann was made chief of the Jewish Department Referat IV B4 of the RSHA, which the SD became a part in September, 1939.
As Germany moved into the Second World War, Mildenstein continued to write propaganda articles and books. After the war, his "Around the Burning Land of the Jordan" (1938) and "The Middle East Seen from the Roadside" (1941) were placed on the list of proscribed literature in the Soviet occupation zone and later in the German Democratic Republic.
Like the Haavara Agreement, Mildenstein's 1933 visit to Palestine and the medal to commemorate it were later sometimes used by anti-Israel authors to argue that there was a relationship between Nazism and Zionism.
Mildenstein visited the United States in 1954, having been granted a visa to do so at the request of the government of West Germany. In January 1956, he asked the U. S. Embassy in Bonn to help him obtain an exchange grant for journalists, although he was not one. By then a member of the Free Democratic Party, in May 1956 he was elected to its Press Committee. In December 1956, a CIA report from Cairo confirmed that he had been employed by the Egyptian government of Gamal Abdul Nasser to work for its Voice of the Arabs radio station. In June 1960, soon after the capture of Eichmann by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires on 11 May 1960, Mildenstein announced that he had had an operational relationship with the CIA and as a former U. S. intelligence agent claimed immunity from prosecution. This relationship was neither confirmed nor denied by the CIA.
Mildenstein was apparently still living in 1964, when he published a new book on the mixing of cocktails, including some non-alcoholic ones, but after that no more was heard of him, although it is known that he died in 1968.
In 1980, History Today, in publishing an article by Jacob Boas about Mildenstein and Tuchler's visit to Palestine in 1933, used an image of the Angriff commemorative medal in its publicity, which led to strong protests from Zionists and others who were outraged by the revelation that Zionist leaders had collaborated with the Nazis.
In 2011, Israeli director Arnon Goldfinger, a grandson of Mildenstein's companions the Tuchlers, produced a film called The Flat, in which Mildenstein's friendship with his grandparents is discussed at length. Goldfinger's film showed that his grandparents had kept in touch with the Mildensteins after the war. He interviewed Mildenstein's daughter, and details of Mildenstein's life are revealed. Looking into the German National Archives, Goldfinger states that Mildenstein joined the Ministry of Propaganda under Goebbels in 1938, and that he later worked as a press officer for Coca Cola in West Germany until the public Eichmann hearings of 1961, in which Eichmann named him as "the specialist for the Jewish affairs."
- Jacob Boas, 'A Nazi Travels to Palestine', in History Today, vol. 30, issue 1, pp. 33–38
- Magnus Brechtken: 'Madagaskar für die Juden: Antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1883-1945' ("Madagascar for the Jews: anti-Semitic ideas and political practice, 1883-1945") (Munich, 1998), p. 171 onwards
- Saul Friedländer, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden ("The Third Reich and the Jews") (Bonn, 2006), p. 77
- Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York: Owl Books, 1994; German edition, Hamburg, 1995)
- H. G. Adler, The Jews in Germany (1969)
- Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (1970)
- Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews (1975)
- G. L. Mosse, German and Jew (1970)
- Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1983)
- Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis (2002) — includes the full text of one of Mildenstein's articles for Der Angriff
- Peter Padfield, Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (London: Cassel & Co, 1990, reprinted 2001, ISBN 978-0-304-35839-7
- K[arl] S[eeger]: Dipl[om]-Ing[enieur] Leopold Itz Edler von Mildenstein †. In: Sportjournalist Jg. 18 (1968), H. 11, page 16.
- Jacob Boas, "A Nazi Travels to Palestine" in History Today, Vol. 30, Issue 1 (1980), pp. 33-38
- Pascal Bruckner, Steven Rendall, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (2010), p. 68
- Jacob Boas, The Jews of Germany: Self-Perception in the Nazi Era as Reflected in the German Jewish Press 1933-1938, Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Riverside, (1977), p. 111
- "Revelations". just-another-inside-job.blogspot.it. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- Yad Vashem studies, Vol. 37, part 1, p. 134
- Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, (1983), p. 45, online edition at marxists.de, accessed 27 March 2011
- Max Williams, Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography: Volume 1 (2001), p 61.
- Anna Porter, Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust (2008), p. 94: "His first big break, as he saw it later, presented itself in 1934, when he was told to report to Second Lieutenant Leopold von Mildenstein at 102 Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin. Von Mildenstein ran the SD "Jews Section," or Section II/112. A fellow Austrian with an easy manner, von Mildenstein took an interest in teaching Eichmann the basics of his department."
- Peter Padfield, Himmler: Reichsführer-SS, Cassel & Co, London, (2001) , p. 198
- Serge Klarsfeld, Joseph Billig, Georges Wellers, The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythomania (1978), p. 12
- Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich & the Palestine Question (2000), p. 61
- Peter Padfield, Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (2001) , pp. 198, 199, 275
- Yaacov Lozowick, Hitler's Bureaucrats: the Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil (2005), p. 20
- Peter Padfield, Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (2001) , p. 334
- Adrian Weale, Army of Evil: A History of the SS (2012), pp. 140-144
- Stollberg, Berlin, 1938
- Union, Stuttgart, 1941
- Richard Breitman, U. S. Intelligence and the Nazis, pp. 342-343
- Mix mit und ohne Alkohol (Munich: Copress-Verlag, 1964, 93 pp., illustrated by Walter Tafelmaier), reviewed in Libreria svizzera, Volume 22 (1964), p. 700: "Leopold von Mildenstein: MIX MIT UND OHNE ALKOHOL, 96 Seiten mit vielen farbigen Illustrationen Mehrfarbiger animierter Einband."
- Charlie Pottins, A coin with two sides dated May 4, 2007, accessed 25 March 2011
- Eyelet Dekel, The Flat by Arnon Goldfinger at midnighteast.com
- Lenni Brenner, A Nazi Travels to Palestine and Tells About It in The Assault, article dated 3 May 2007 at ucc.ie, accessed 30 March 2011