According to Ken Livingstone (UK Labour politician, former Mayor of London), Hitler supported Zionism:

Evening Standard:

Mr Livingstone told BBC Radio London he had never heard anyone in the party say anything anti-Semitic. Then he went on: “Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.

"He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.

The Guardian has the exact same quote, as do many others.

Although the claim does not appear to be explicitly challenged, Livingstone was suspended from the Labour-party for “anti-semitism”, which does imply that his remark was considered controversial within the Labour Party. Is it accurate and fair to say that Hitler (at one point) supported Zionism?

  • 6
    It is clear from Hitler's writings that he hated Jews. But his policies when he first came to power where often pragmatic and opportunistic (at least if you agree with A J P Taylor). So he might have pragmatically "supported" Zionism without that being his long term goal or his intent. This isn't what most people mean when they say "supported" which might explain the controversy about Livingstone's remarks.
    – matt_black
    Apr 28, 2016 at 14:39
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    @matt_black True, support has different meanings. And to say before he went mad is a rather poor choice of phrasing, since it implies he wasn't mad already. I don't think either Livingstone or the sources supporting his claims suggest that Hitler supported Zionism for wishing a bright Jewish future, but rather to get rid of the problem (perhaps one could compare to how Native Americans in the USA were forcibly moved to reservations). I can see it is quite disingenuous to refer to both in the same way.
    – gerrit
    Apr 28, 2016 at 14:48
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    Isn't this just a question of an individual's motives, and therefore off-topic?
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 28, 2016 at 15:12
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    @Oddthinking I don't interpret the claim as being about motives. I am quite sure that Livingstone was referring to the Haavara Agreement, which can objectively be called support in the sense of helping logistically. What Hitlers motivation was is historically relevant, but I don't think it's essentially within the scope of the question.
    – gerrit
    Apr 28, 2016 at 15:23
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    @gerrit You might want to remove the part about Livingstones suspension from the question. It's not really relevant to the claim, and it's a bit one-sided. Livingstone said a lot of things, in a specific context; your formulation and comment might imply that an allusion to the Haavara agreement is what got him suspended, which I really don't think is the case.
    – tim
    May 4, 2016 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


Wiktionary support, verb:

  1. To back a cause, party, etc., mentally or with concrete aid.

  2. To help, particularly financially.

Although there is evidence that Hitler agreed to (perhaps initiated) a framework for resettling Jews to Palestine, this does not imply he backed the Zionist cause in the political meaning of support.

The Haavara Agreement was a resettlement agreement between Nazi Germany and the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland (Zionist Federation of Germany). The latter had some 20,000 members in the late 1920s. According to The Transfer Agreement, this rescued 60,000 Jews:

This book documents the agreement between Nazi Germany and an organization of Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland in 1933 to salvage the smallest amounts of German Jewish Assets and the voluntary emigration of German Jews to Palestine before the Third Reich implemented confiscation, expulsion and then extermination. The Transfer Agreement rescued some 60,000 German Jews. A sweeping, worldwide economic boycott of Germany by Jews helped spur a deal between the Nazis and Zionists1. At that time, there were few Jews in Palestine, but from 1933 through 1936, 60,000 German Jews immigrated into the region2, bringing with them a portion of the assets they once held in Germany3.

1 Edwin Black discusses The Transfer Agreement Book TV on C-SPAN, George Mason University, History News Network.

2 U.S. Holocaust Museum Article on Refugees

3 Edelheit, Abraham J.; Edelheit, Hershel (1994). History of the Holocaust : a handbook and dictionary. (New ed.). Boulder: Westview. p. 44. ISBN 978-0813322407.

Black, Edwin (2009), The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine, Tradeselect Limited, 2009, ISBN 978-0914153139

The number 60,000 is disputed:

How many German Jews settled in Palestine? Black says 60,000 between 1933 and 1941, all of them through some form of the agreement. He cites no sources for these figures. Yisraeli, using German foreign-policy documents, tells of 32,995 emigrants between 1932 and 1937, of whom only 12,500 used the transfer agreements.

For comparison, there were around 523,000 Jews in Germany in January 1933.

As far as I'm aware, the historical veracity of this agreement is undisputed, so in the logistical/organisational sense, one can say that Hitler did indeed effectively support Zionism.

However, in the ideological meaning, it is not shown that Hitler backed the cause of Zionism, which traditionally aims a better future for the Jewish people. To the contrary, there is overwhelming evidence that Hitler hated Jews before, during, and after the Transfer Agreement.

In summary:

  • Hitler did aid Jews (Zionists) to get from Germany to Palestine, but
  • Hitler hated Jews and he certainly wasn't a Zionist.

See also: Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.

  • Why the downvote?
    – gerrit
    Apr 28, 2016 at 19:25
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    and Hitler would presumably have agreed to aid Jews to go from Germany to any other country as part of his policy to make Germany "Judenrein" (free of Jews). May 1, 2016 at 9:51
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    So a better wording would be "The Nazis permitted Jews to flee from German persecution to Palestine whilst allowing them to retain some of their fortune, but only if they spent it on German goods". Have to squint very hard to interpret that as 'support'!
    – Benjol
    May 4, 2016 at 13:20
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    @Benjol True, and the same is true for the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries. One could argue this also had the effect of supporting zionism, even when Arab leaders at the time could hardly be described as zionists. I added a link to the Wikipedia article on that history.
    – gerrit
    May 4, 2016 at 14:09
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    Excellent answer. To this might also be added Hitler's own thoughts on the Zionist enterprise, found in Mein Kampf: that the Jewish state is not for living in, but is merely "a central organization for their international world swindle, endowed with its sovereign right and removed from the intervention of other states". The claim that Hitler supported the Haavara agreement for any reason other than to get Jews out of Germany and to make some money in the process is misguided; the aim that he was a Zionist himself is just stupid.
    – Shimon bM
    Aug 24, 2017 at 7:04

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