Arlosoroff, Chayim (1899-1933)

Born in the Ukraine, Arlosoroff and his family moved to Germany in 1905. He attended University in Berlin, studying economics. Engaged in a passionate affair with his sister’s best friend, Magda Friedländer, daughter of a Jewish stepfather.  Became an ardent, committed Zionist and activist. Broke up with Magda when he found out that she was seeing a top Berlin Nazi.  She was also courted by a visiting Herbert Hoover Jr., the president’s nephew. Arlosoroff tried to shoot her in a lover’s quarrel.

At the outbreak of World War I he tried to enlist in the German army but was turned down as a foreigner. After the war immigrated to Palestine, he joined the leadership of the early Yishuv, the Jewish settlement in Palestine. Magda Friedländer proceeded to marry Josef Göbbels, a top, inner circle Nazi leader, and Hitler’s propagandist.

As a member of the top MAPAI and Histadrut leadership in Palestine, Arlosoroff returned to Germany on behalf of the Jewish Agency for the purpose of initiating the Ha’avara program - The Transfer, a plan of transferring Jewish capital from Germany to Palestine on the condition that development machinery and equipment would be purchased from German manufacturers. The SS enthusiastically embraced the program of Jewish emigration to Palestine as a solution to their agenda of ‘cleansing’ Germany of its Jews. Close to ten percent of Germany’s pre-war Jewish population, over sixty thousand people emigrated from Germany on the Ha’avara program, starting in 1933. It made strange bedfellows of the Socialist - Zionist wing and the Nazis, both interested in settling Jews in Palestine. The Ha’avara contributed greatly to the inflow of capital to the struggling Yishuv, during a period of worldwide economic depression, helping Arlosoroff become a major and prominent leader of the Zionist Labor movement in Palestine.

Incredulously, at the start of the war, before the depth of the German deeds against the Jews became known, the extreme right-fringe underground resistance group in Palestine, an IRGUN offshoot, known as the LEHI  or the Stern Gang, under Yitzhak Shamir, later prime minister of Israel, contacted the Germans in Beirut and Damascus at the beginning of the war to offer a mass resettlement of European Jews in Palestine instead of annihilation and, at another time, to open a front against the British enemy in Palestine.

In 1933, after his return from Berlin, during a June summer’s evening stroll with his wife on the Tel Aviv sea shore, Arlosoroff was assassinated at age thirty-four. 


 

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