The Haavara Agreement – see transcript of Circular 54/1933 of the Reich Ministry of Finance, August 28, 1933 below – was an official contract between the Third Reich authority and Zionist Authority benefiting the interests of both parties. Haavara was intended to promote both the emigration of German Jews and the export of German products to Palestine.
In 1935 the steamer “Tel Aviv” made its maiden voyage from Nazi Germany to Haifa with Hebrew letters on its bow and a Nazi flag fluttering from its mast. The Captain of the Zionist-owned ship was a member of the Nazi Party. A passenger described the spectacle as a “metaphysical absurdity.”
As a result of the Agreement, German exports arrived in Palestine at bargain prices with the help of Jewish capital and Jewish commerical assistance. It boosted the Nazi economy at a time when Jews worldwide were boycotting German goods. Goods worth a total of 139.5 million Reichsmark were transferred by 1939. The Agreement also made it possible to settle a large number of German Jews in Palestine. The outbreak of war in September 1939 ended the transfer practice.
Circular 54/1933 of the Reich Ministry of Finance, August 28, 1933
To further the cause of Jewish emigration to Palestine through allocation of the necessary sums of money, without putting too much strain on the currency reserves of the Reich and simultaneously increasing German exports to Palestine, an agreement has been reached with the appropriate Jewish authorities. It is based on the following conditons:
Emigrants on whose behalf the Emigration Advisory Office confirms that further sums of money are necessary and adequate for the purpose of starting a new life in Palestine, and that the minimum amount of 1000 PP [Pal. Pounds] required for immigration into Palestine is insufficient, may be granted an additonal sum in excess of the 15,000 RM on condition that it is paid at the Reichsbank into the Special Account I of the Bank of the Temple Corporation [German colonists bank in Palestine] and credited to a trust company in Palestine specially set up for this purpose (or to the Anglo-Palestine Bank unti the Jewish trust company has been set up). A total sum of 3 million RM has been designated initally for this Special Account I and for a Special Accout II mentioned below; it is to be operated by the Temple Bank as a trust account for the above mentioned Jewish Trust Company. This account is to be used to pay for German goods delivered to Palestine. Emigrants will be paid the equivalent of their deposits by the Palestine trust company according to the funds available from the sale of German goods to Palestine. This will occur in the order and proportion of the payments made into the Special Account I and paid out in Palestine Pounds. The “Palästina-Treuhandstelle zur Beratung deutscher Juden GmbH” [Paltreu, Palestine Trust Office for Advice to German Jews] has been founded in Berlin, Friedrichstraß 218, to advise German Jews in matters concerning this form of capital transfer to Palestine. I request that particular attention is to be drawn to this organization when authorization [for capital trnasfer to Palestine] is being granted.
Furthermore, a Special Account II has been opened at the Reichsbank on behalf of the bank of the Temple Organization. On application the exchange regulation authorities may grant permission to German Jewish nationals, who have not yet emigrated but who are already planning a new existence in Palestine, to deposit up to 50,000 RM per person into this account (and similarly credit it to a German-Jewish trust company to be founded in Palestine or to the Anglo-Palestine Bank Ltd. until this has been founded).
Source: Werner Feilchenfeld, Dolf Michaelis, Ludwig Pinner, Haavara-Transfer nach Palästina und die Einwanderung deutscher Juden 1933-1939, Tübingen 1972, p.26 f.
Herbert A. Strauss, General Editor, “Jewish Immigrants of the Nazi Period in the USA” Vol. 4 – Jewish Emigration from Germany 1933-1942: A Documentary History, K.G. Saur, New York 1992, p. 254.
Example of certificate issued by Haavara to Jews emigrating to Palestine
The Trust and Transfer Office “Haavara” Ltd. places at the disposal of the Banks in Palestine amounts in Reichmarks which have been put at its disposal by the Jewish immigrants from Germany. The Banks avail themselves of these amounts in Reichmarks in order to make payments on behalf of Palestinian merchants for goods imported by them from Germany. The merchants pay in the value of the goods to the Banks and the “Haavara” Ltd. pays the countervalue to the Jewish immigrants from Germany. To the same extent that local merchants will make use of this arrangement, the import of German goods will serve to withdraw Jewish capital from Germany.
The Trust and Transfer Office,
We hereby confirm, that in accordance with the above arrangement, we have transferred to-day, by order of Messrs. ______ the sum of (Haavara) Reichmarks: _____ in payment of invoice dated _____ as per order dated ___. Equivalent of above amounting to ___ has been received by us. Dated ____ The above sum in Reichmarks has been transferred to the exporter/s ________ of __________, (German)