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Australia – A Territorial Solution of the Jewish Problem

By Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Historian

In April 1938 – following the Anschluss, or annexation, of Austria into Hitler’s Great Germanic Empire – a bizarre plan was hatched which has evaded history books. On the eve of the Holocaust, Australia was selected as a suitable site for solving the ‘Jewish Problem’.

Such a ‘territorial solution’ was neither new nor revolutionary. Throughout history anti-semites had spread the idea of removing the unwanted Jews once and for all. Since the 19th century racism and colonialism in Germany and elsewhere provided the ideas and places for the compulsory segregation and destruction of the Jews.

Paul de Lagarde, a renowned scholar and vicious anti-semite, proposed in 1885 to abandon Jews from Poland and Romania, Russia and Austria on the French island of Madagascar in the Pacific Ocean

Theodor Fritsch, the godfather of German antisemitism, demanded in 1887 the use of colonies to solve the ‘Jewish Problem’.

Karl Paasch, another Jew hater, suggested in 1892 to deport the Jews to New-Guinea.

Among all these ideas, one proposal stood out: The famous Madagascar plan. However, whilst the plan was repeatedly and widely discussed in Germany and Austria, in France and Poland, the German architects of the ‘final solution’ abandoned the plan when embarking on the annihilation of the Jews.

Madagascar plan

Cartoon about the Madagascar Plan and how this will end British unemployment in English newspaper, ‘The Fascist’, January 1938. SJM Collection.

In April 1938 Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Austria’s ambitious SS Leader, proposed a resettlement scheme that went far beyond the Madagascar plan. Kaltenbrunner recommended deporting all 20 million Jews from across the globe to Australia. In return, all “White Australians” were to be resettled in Europe and other “Aryan” countries. Only the Aboriginal People, termed as “Austral Niggers”, were not to be removed. In this proposed plan, they were to be left behind, “to mix with the Jews” or to engage in a “race struggle”.

Kaltenbrunner concluded: “Australia is the right continent. Handing over Australia to the Jews does not constitute a hardship but rather a gift of mankind. Australia is capable of development. Twenty million people could live here – easily and well, if they want to work. They can even multiply to 50 million. Indeed, this is the right solution of the Jewish Problem. However, it will presumably still take 50 till 100 years before mankind has grasped this.”

This bizarre plan was sent in a memorandum to Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer: SS and Chief Architect of theFinal Solution”. Himmler did not respond. Himmler had other plans to remove the Jews, to destroy the Jewish world and to eradicate the Jewish spirit. The memorandum was buried in an archival folder of the SS and kept under strict lock and key until very recently, when I stumbled over it.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s achievements were recognized and awarded. In 1942 he succeeded Reinhard Heydrich as Head of the Reich Security Main Office, playing a pivotal role in implementing the program of the ‘Final Solution’. In 1946 Kaltenbrunner was sentenced to death by the International Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

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