Jabotinsky's plot to kill Hitler

Claim published in diary of British colonel.

July 20, 2010 04:43
2 minute read.
Ze'ev Jabotsinsky

jabotinsky 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

Shortly after WWII began, Revisionist Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky hatched a plot to assassinate Hitler and other top Nazi officials – if excerpts from a British colonel’s diary published this week in Israel are to be believed.

Earlier in the week, Ynet ran a report that quoted the diary of Col. Richard Meinertzhagen, in which he described meeting with Jabotinsky in 1939 in London, where the Zionist leader proposed a scheme to kill a top Nazi official in order to bring others, including Hitler, to the funeral. According to the plan, the coffin would be crammed with explosives to be detonated by the undertaker once the Nazis had surrounded it to pay their respects.

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According to the diary, Meinertzhagen, who at the time was an adviser at the War Office in London, showed the plan to officials at the Foreign Office, who reportedly scoffed at the idea.

The meeting is described in Meinertzhagen’s Middle East Diary, 1917-1956, a 376-page account of his life as a British officer in the Middle East, which was first published in 1959. A prolific diarist, Meinertzhagen published four books based on his personal experiences.

In Middle East Diary, Meinertzhagen describes meeting the Revisionist leader and arguing for leniency after his arrest and sentencing for weapons possession.

“I first met Jabotinsky in Jerusalem in early 1920.... Jabotinsky was arrested, tried by court martial and sentenced to six years imprisonment. After a most painful interview with his wife, I agreed to intercede. I took the matter up with General Congreve, Commander- in-Chief, who said he could not interfere with justice. I told him he could interfere with injustice and that Jabotinsky’s sentence was spiteful and was evidence of discrimination against Jews. Congreve agreed to reduce the sentence to six weeks and deportation for twelve months.”

Jabotinsky was later awarded an amnesty.

Meinertzhagen also describes unconfirmed reports that the Irgun leader had suggested that the Allies attack German oil rigs in the Danube River, a plot that was eventually approved by British authorities and led to the disabling of a large number of rigs.

Middle East Diary is Meinertzhagen’s best-known work, although it has long been treated with skepticism by a number of scholars, largely due to what many say are fabrications about meetings with T.E. Lawrence. Meinertzhagen has also been the subject of a large amount of non-favorable criticism from authors and scholars, most notably Brian Garfield in his 2007 work The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud. The book refers to the colonel as “a liar and a charlatan,” and claims that a very large amount of his official life story is a fabrication.

Meinertzhagen was also a noted ornithologist, although he is best known in this field for being the namesake of the “Meinertzhagen Fraud.” In the early 1990s, British researchers looking into the collection of nearly 20,000 bird specimens he donated to the Natural History Museum before his death in 1967 found widespread cases of museum theft, and large-scale falsification of documentation.

At one point, Meinertzhagen was banned from the Natural History Museum’s Bird Room for 18 months for taking specimens without approval, and was long suspected of bird theft by members of the museum staff.

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