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04.03.2015

The adherent of Zionism and love object of Magda Goebbels

On 23 February Haim Arlozorov was born in the Ukrainian town of Romny

Everyone interested in world history of the last century or who simply lives in Israel knows about Haim Arlozorov – almost every town in the country has a street named after him.

Arlozorov could be called one of the most famous Jews of the 20th century: he was the leader of the Zionist movement in the 1920s-1930s, a member of the Jewish agency and the head of its political department. Born in the provincial Ukrainian town of Romny not far from Sumy, at the age of six he moved with his family to Koenigsberg, then to Berlin, and at the age of 24 he emigrated to Palestine.

Even in the First World War, Arlozorov’s family did not leave Germany – they considered themselves German, at least by their place of residence. At the same time, they did not intend to lose their national identity. “I’m a Jew and proud of it. I don’t feel completely German and I’ve never concealed this,” Haim wrote in a school essay.

Arlozorov began to take a keen interest in politics at the age of 19 – he began to take part in party discussions on the side of the social democrats, defending Zionism. In his student years, Haim threw himself into politics and swiftly became one of the main figures of the Zionist movement. He was a member of the Workers’ Zionist Committee in Germany, represented the Jews of Eretz Israel at the Permanent mandate commission of the League of Nations in Geneva, along with leaders of international Jewry he was present in Zurich at the founding assembly of the Jewish agency (Sokhnut), and became one of its leaders, laying the foundation for the future state.

Arlozorov would probably have been able to do much more for Israel if he had not died tragically at the age of 34. In the summer of 1933, when Haim was peacefully walking along the beach with his wife Sima, he was attacked and shot in the stomach. As medical assistance was late in arriving, Arlozorov died later that day.

11 facts about the life and murder of Haim Arlozorov

— Haim Arlozorov was also known as Vitaly (the Ukrainian version of Haim) and Viktor (in Germany).
— His grandfather Eliezer was the “official rabbi” in Romny. Arlozorov’s father Saul returned to Ukraine on business, but he was not allowed back into Germany, and he died of cholera.

— Fleeing the Jewish pogroms, the Arlozorov family emigrated to Prussia in 1905, and then to Germany. In his youth in Germany he created a Zionist youth group, modeled on the Scouts. The members of this group, local teenagers, held marches, went on overnight camping expeditions, sang songs by the campfire and talked about Palestine.

— Haim Arlozorov’s first literary work was a book of 72 pages, “Jewish people’s socialism”. He wrote it at the age of 19 while he was a student at Berlin University, where he studied economics and law. In the work dedicated to his father, he disputes with Marx: “No, not historical materialism, but national idealism of the highest tension can become a source of power in the Jewish people, which will be sufficiently powerful and capable of creating in Palestine conditions for the full, normal and free development of the Jewish working masses.”

— Arlozorov became active in politics in 1919. It was then that he became the co-founder of the left-wing Zionist political movement “Ha-Poel ha-Tzair”. Golda Meir called him the “rising star of Jewish politics of the 1920s-early 1930s”, and Ben Gurion said that “he was gifted with all the talents required by a political figure in general, and by a Jewish political figure in particular.”

—Arlozorov first visited in the Holy Land in the spring of 1921. Before he finally moved to Palestine in 1923, Haim was romantically involved with Magda Friedlaender, who many years later would become the wife of the future propaganda minister of the Third Reich Joseph Goebbels. The young revolutionary was her first love.

— After Hitler came to power, Arlozorov developed a program for the mass emigration of German Jews to Palestine (“transfer”). At the first stage of this plan, he tried to establish contact with the Nazi government, and went to Germany to hold talks about the mass emigration of Jews. In the first years of power, the Nazis allowed Jews to emigrate, and Arlozorov did not want to miss this opportunity, despite a wave of local criticism.

— Arlozorov succeeded in signing the “Ha-Aavara” agreement with the Germans, under which money from property sold by Jews in Germany was transferred to accounts in the Anglo-Palestinian Bank and “Tempelier Bank”. These funds were used to purchase German goods for export to Palestine and Europe, and the money earned went to support repatriates from Germany. It was thanks to this program that the Strauss family, which immigrated from Nieder-Olm to Nahariya, founded the Strauss company, which is now one of the largest manufacturers of dairy products in the world.

— Arlozorov’s murder has never been solved. In the British archive, the case is classified for 100 years – a longer period than all the documents pertaining to the Second World War.

— The two people charged with Arlozorov’s murder were acquitted. Avraam Stavsky, who was sentenced to death, was released on the basis of the British “Law on Witnesses”, according to which the testimony of one witness is insufficient for a guilty verdict (the laws of the Torah state the same thing).

—The village of Kfar Haim in Sharon, which was founded in the year of Arlozorov’s murder, was named in his honor, as was the town of Kiryat-Haim, the kibbutz of Givat Haim, and many streets and schools in various towns of Israel.

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