Nazi Party in Mandatory Palestine

The Nazi Party in Mandatory Palestine, also referred as the Nazi Party of Palestine and the Levant was a local branch of the Nazi Party in British-ruled Mandatory Palestine, established by members of the German Templer colonies in Palestine. The branch was established in March 1933[1] and gradually eradicated during the World War II by the British authorities via deportation of its members and their families. Some of the party members enlisted into the Nazi German military and participated in operations on behalf of the axis powers, notoriously including Operation Atlas targeting Mandatory Palestine.

National Socialist Party of German Workers in Palestine and the Levant (NSDAP)





After the Nazi takeover in Germany the new Reich's government streamlined foreign policy according to Nazi ideals, imposed and regulated financially. The Nazi emphasis was on creating the image that Germany and Germanness were equal to Nazism. Thus, all non-Nazi aspects of German culture and identity were discriminated against as un-German. All international schools of German language subsidised or fully financed by government funds were obliged to redraw their educational programs and to solely employ teachers aligned to the Nazi Party. The teachers in Bethlehem were financed by the Reich government, so Nazi teachers also took over there.



Karl Ruf from Haifa set the two chapters of the Nazi Party Palestine branch in Sarona and Jaffa in March 1933, but during most of the time it was Cornelius Schwarz who served as head of the party.[1] In 1933, Templer functionaries and other Gentile Germans living in Palestine appealed to Paul von Hindenburg and the Foreign Office not to use swastika symbols for German institutions, though without success. Some German Gentiles from Palestine pleaded with the Reich government to drop its plan to boycott Jewish owned shops, in April 1933.[2] Some Templers enlisted in the German Army. In the summer of 1933 the party numbered 42 members.[1]

In 1934, the Nazi Party numbers reached 239, with the largest chapter in Jerusalem counting some 67 members.[1]

By 1938, 17% of the Templers in Mandatory Palestine were members of the Nazi Party. According to historian Yossi Ben-Artzi, "The members of the younger generation to some extent broke away from naive religious belief, and were more receptive to the Nazi German nationalism. The older ones tried to fight it."[3]

Internment, deportation and exchanges


After the outbreak of World War II, the British disbanded the Nazi Party in Mandatory Palestine.[1] Templar colonists with German citizenship were rounded up by the British authorities and sent, together with Italian and Hungarian enemy aliens, to internment camps in Waldheim and Bethlehem of Galilee.[4] On July 31, 1941, 661 Templers and other Germans in Palestine were deported to Australia via Egypt, leaving behind 345 in Palestine.[5] Likewise the British authorities declared the Templers enemy nationals, arresting and deporting many them to Australia.[4] During the war the British government brokered the exchange of about 1,000 Templers for 550 Jews under German control. These Jews were mostly Palestinian or residents with relatives in British Palestine.[6] As a result, the Nazi Party branch remained with very few members.

Participation in military operations


Operation Atlas was the code name for an operation carried out by a special commando unit of the Waffen SS which took place in October 1944. It involved five soldiers: three who were previously members of the Templer religious sect in Mandatory Palestine, and two Palestinian Arabs who were close collaborators of the mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini.[7]

Atlas aimed at establishing an intelligence-gathering base in Mandatory Palestine, radioing information back to Germany, and recruiting and arming anti-British Palestinians by buying their support with gold.[8]

The plan failed utterly, and no meaningful action could be undertaken by the commandos. Three of the participants were arrested by the Transjordan Frontier Force a few days after their landing. The German commander was captured in 1946 and the fifth, Hasan Salama, succeeded in escaping.

Persecution of former party members


On 12 March 1946 a team from the Zionist Haganah assassinated the leader of the Templer community, Gotthilf Wagner, considered by Palestinian Jews to be an ardent member of the Nazi Party, although his family and the wider Templer community argued otherwise.[9][10][11]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e Yad Va-Shem. R.3 - Documentation of the Nazi Party (National Socialist Party - NSDAP) in Eretz Israel, 1928-1939. "The first two chapters of the Nazi Party in Eretz Israel were established in Sharona and Jaffa in March 1933."
  2. ^ Ralf Balke, Hakenkreuz im Heiligen Land: Die NSDAP-Landesgruppe Palästina, Erfurt: Sutton, 2001, p. 81. ISBN 3-89702-304-0.
  3. ^ Nurit Wurgaft and Ran Shapira, A life-saving swap Archived 2023-09-05 at the Wayback Machine, Haaretz, April 23, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Adi Schwartz, The nine lives of the Lorenz Cafe Archived 2008-06-06 at the Wayback Machine, Haaretz, January 20, 2008.
  5. ^ Ben-Yehuda 1992. Political Assassinations by Jews: A Rhetorical Device for Justice. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-1165-6.
  6. ^ Ran Shapira and Nurit Wurgaft (April 23, 2009). "A life-saving swap". Haaretz.
  7. ^ "Kurt Wieland, alias Heinz Hecht, Frederick Baksen, Abu Yassin". London: The National Archives. 11 May 2001.
  8. ^ *Fountain, Rick (5 July 2001). "Nazis planned Palestine subversion". BBC News.
  9. ^ Wawrzyn, Heidemarie (2013-08-01). Nazis in the Holy Land 1933-1948. Walter de Gruyter. p. 127. ISBN 978-3-11-030652-1. Archived from the original on 2024-01-03. Retrieved 2023-11-18.
  10. ^ The Templers: German settlers who left their mark on Palestine Archived 2023-07-25 at the Wayback Machine. The assassination by Jewish militants of the former Templer mayor of Sarona, Gotthilf Wagner, sent shockwaves through the depleted community. Contemporary reports say Wagner was targeted because he had been a prominent Nazi. Sieger Hahn, Wagner's foster son, says Wagner was killed because he was an "obstacle" to the purchase of land from the Germans. With the killing of two more Templers by members of the Haganah (Jewish fighting force) in 1948, the British authorities evacuated almost all the remaining members to an internment camp in Cyprus."
  11. ^ Wawrzyn, Heidemarie (1 August 2013). Nazis in the Holy Land 1933-1948. De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-030652-1. Archived from the original on 3 January 2024. Retrieved 18 November 2023. Furthermore, from the Jewish point of view Wagner was seen as an ardent Nazi and the leader of the Germans in Palestine, whom they learned had been named to be Gauleiter for the region had the Germans occupied Palestine. The assassination was intended to make it unmistakably clear that Palestine-Germans could no longer remain in the country. "They will not last here," was the headline in Jewish newspapers. According to the C.I.D., Wagner's murder took place in the context of land politics, for he had consistently instructed members of his settlement not to sell land to Jews. The Templers, however, considered Gotthilf Wagner an anti-Nazi and victim of Jewish terror.