The rapprochement between Germany and Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust is one of the most striking political developments of the twentieth century. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to it as a ‘miracle’. But how did this ‘miracle’ come about? Drawing upon sources from both sides of the Iron Curtain and of the Arab–Israeli conflict, Lorena De Vita traces the contradictions and dilemmas that shaped the making of German–Israeli relations at the outset of the global Cold War. Israelpolitik offers new insights not only into the history of German–Israeli relations, but also into the Cold War competition between the two German states, as each attempted to strengthen its position in the Middle East and the international arena while struggling with the legacy of the Nazi past.
MUP FINAL PROOF – <STAGE>, 08/19/2013, SPi
The formation of a discourse
The need for a discourse
In the autumn of 1948, while the eventful war was drawing to an end, DavidBen-Gurion, who led the organized Jewish community – the Yishuv – to what
has been described until recently in the media and history books as a miraculous victory, began his moves for the next stage. At the personal level, he had
to reaffirm his leadership through a popular vote. In the international arena,
he had to manoeuvre for international recognition of Israel without making
From that year onwards, West German and Israeli football teams began exchanging expertise, with Israeli coaches travelling frequently to Cologne for training purposes. 5 The links between the German Trade Union Confederation (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) and its Israeli counterpart, the Histradut, also grew closer. 6 But Shinnar maintained his focus on high politics for the time being, fixated on his goal of establishing diplomatic relations. The desire for a closer cooperation with the Federal Republic was something that DavidBen-Gurion seemed to be ‘possessed
of the state of Israel.
From the start, the state itself has served as a vehicle for the achievement
and furthering of national (Jewish) goals. The term ‘Israeli’ has been used as
synonymous with Israeli Jew. For example, Israel’s founding father and first
Prime Minister, DavidBen-Gurion, stated at the twenty-fifth World Zionist
Congress held in 1960:
Here everything is Jewish and universal: the soil we walk upon, the trees whose
fruit we eat, the roads on which we travel, the houses we live in, the factories where
we work, the schools where our children are
.), Deutschland und Israel: Solidarität in der Bewährung: Bilanz und Perspektive der deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen (Gerlingen: Bleicher, 1992); G. Lavy, Germany and Israel: Moral Debt and National Interest (London: Frank Cass, 1996); N. Hansen , Aus dem Schatten der Katastrophe. Die deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen in der Ära Adenauer und DavidBenGurion ( Düsseldorf : Droste , 2002 ); Y. A. Jelinek , Deutschland und Israel, 1945–1965. Ein neurotisches Verhältnis ( Munich : Oldenbourg , 2004 ); D. Trimbur , De la Shoah à la Réconciliation? La Question
with ten times its population, led to a sense of permanent siege. DavidBenGurion, Israel’s founding leader who shaped much elite thinking, expressed Israel’s perception of the Arabs: Israel, he asserted, had been inhabited by Arab invaders for 1,300 years but once the homeless, persecuted Jews had finally achieved a small notch of territory, the Arabs sought to reduce its territory, flood it with refugees, seize Jerusalem, and ghettoise it by blockade (Brecher 1972: 552; Gerner 1991: 44).
Israel responded to Arab hostility, as Brown (1988: 134
Nasser’s increasing popularity in the region, of the spectre of Soviet penetration of the Middle East, and of a possible imminent reduction in the US armed forces stationed in Europe, it was easy for the Chancellor to understand why DavidBen-Gurion would justify the Sinai campaign as a pre-emptively defensive, rather than an offensive, act. 47 This, in turn, came close to putting the FRG onto a road to covert defiance of the United States, while the relationship between Adenauer and Ben-Gurion, and the West German and Israeli security establishments, grew ever closer
’s neighbours had declared war against it just a few hours after DavidBen-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency and first Prime Minister of Israel, announced its very foundation on 14 May 1948. The war effort left the Israeli economy in disarray. The situation was further complicated by the huge waves of mass immigration that characterised much of the first years of Israel’s existence. While in the run-up to the declaration of independence the immigrants were arriving in large numbers from Europe, either to escape Nazi persecution or after the liberation of the concentration
the trial, emphasising in an official communication that ‘The trial against Eichmann in Jerusalem is more than just a trial about the Hitlerian fascist past ( hitlerfaschisische Vergangenheit ). It is also a denunciation of the militaristic system which continues to exist on West German soil still today.’ 84 In the final comments on the draft speech of chief prosecutor Gideon Hausner, who would play a key role in the trial, DavidBen-Gurion reminded the attorney general of the importance of always employing the adjective ‘Nazi’ when mentioning ‘Germany’, so as to
, ‘The United Arab Republic Ballistic Missile and Space Programs’, OSI-SR/65–29, 2 August 1965. CIA (CREST/FOIA), www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP78T05439A000500320027–6.pdf [Accessed November 2019].
14 R. Howard , Operation Damocles: Israel’s Secret War against Hitler’s Scientists, 1951–1967 ( New York : Pegasus Books , 2013 ), p. 148 .
15 S. Aronson , DavidBenGurion and the Jewish Renaissance ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 2011 ), p. 295 .
16 FRUS, 1961–1963/XVIII, Doc. 140, Assessment prepared by the Defense