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
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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