A PORTRAIT of Reinhard Heydrich, a leading Nazi official, is displayed as part of the exhibition at the Wannsee conference house in Berlin in 2006..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
January 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most horrific events in Jewish history: the Wannsee Conference.
In a small suburb about 16 km. outside of Berlin, on January 20, 1942, Reinhold Heydrich called a gathering of the most significant bureaucrats in the Nazi regime. It was there and then that 15 representatives of the Nazi Germany’s bureaucratic offices decided on the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
The meeting lasted only about 90 minutes. Heydrich could not have imagined, when he sent out the invitations, that this short meeting would hold the historical significance it now does. Among the 15 representatives, not one was from the German army, while eight held doctorates.
Heydrich spoke for about an hour. He reported on the status of the Jews and the effective success of the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile murder squads that followed the German army rounding up Jews and killing them in pits with machine guns. He described the plan to gas Jews and extolled what was sure to be its successful outcome. Heydrich made it clear that gassing was a more efficient way of eliminating Jews than simply rounding up and shooting them.
Participants were presented with a list of Jews divided into two categories. Category A: Jews under the control of Germany. Category B: those Jews in lands still to be conquered. The numbers were stunning: 11 million Jews needed to be murdered. The largest number, five million, were in the USSR. Estonia was in Category A and next to the word “Estonia” was written the word “Judenfrei
.” Estonia was already free of Jews.
The Nazis used two terms interchangeably: “Judenfrei
” and “Judenrein
.” The former means “free of Jews” and the latter “without Jews.”
The ultimate policy of the Nazis was to rid the lands of Germany of Jews. Then they wanted to make certain that future lands would also be without Jews. Fast forward 75 years and Palestinian leadership has echoed this very same terminology. They speak of creating a state free of Jews. There are hundreds of quotes from Palestinian leaders, up to and including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, explaining that in their state there is no room for Jews.
While speaking to Egyptian journalists in a 2013 briefing about the two-state solution Abbas is quoted as saying: “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.” Do not misunderstand – Israeli means Jew.
Referring to Abbas’s quote, Erekat was asked this question by interviewer David Samuels: “Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?” Erakat replied: “Absolutely.”
This “no Jew in the state of Palestine” policy has not just been spoken about, it has been written and recorded. Neither the Hamas leadership nor now the PA leadership will allow a single Jew to reside in their state, and any Jew who wanted to would live there at their own peril.
In this day and age it sounds strange to say that Jews are forbidden to live anywhere they want, let alone and especially in their ancestral homeland. But this is the official Palestinian stance. US Secretary of State John Kerry, of course, has a different understanding – a real misunderstanding of the situation, which is the only way to explain his comfort in quipping: “Does anyone here really believe that the settlers will agree to submit to Palestinian law in Palestine?”
Just like in Gaza, Jewish settlers will not be permitted to stay. They will be removed. Settler blocs in the West Bank will remain and the sum total of the settlement area will be exchanged for areas in Israel – a clean swap, land for land. This is not difficult to understand. But Palestinian leadership does not want to compromise, they are not interested in land swaps. They want to turn back the clock. They want a Judenfrei and a Judenrein environment. And that cannot happen.
As we note the anniversary of Wannsee we must also note that, 75 years later, the desire for lands to be Judenfrei and Judenrein is still thriving in our midst.The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @Micah- Halpern.