What became of Nazi Germany's embassies in neutral countries?

What became of Nazi Germany's embassies in neutral countries?

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This picture shows the German embassy in Stockholm very near the end of World War II (with the flag lowered to mark Hitler's death).

Germany surrendered on the 8th May 1945. The Flensburg government was dissolved and its members arrested on 23rd May. The Allies formally assumed complete control of Germany on 5th June and arguably the German state ceased to exist.

The embassies in neutral countries must have been one of the few elements of the Nazi state beyond the reach of the victorious allies and untouched by the damage, destruction and civil breakdown occurring in most of Germany. There must have been German officials comfortably resident in neutral capitals and working up to and beyond 8th May. Possibly they tried to continue conducting embassy business up to and beyond 5th June.

At what point were German embassies in neutral countries shut down, if indeed they were? What became of staff, both German and local? Did they continue to draw salaries and who paid them? At what point was an embassy's Nazi paraphernalia disposed of? Who owned the physical buildings after 5th June - was it the four Allies? Or did the Irish, Swedish and other governments quietly seize them?

The salaries stopped as soon as Flensburg government was dissolved. The officials and technical personnel went on with their lives - found other jobs, went home or emigrated. The buildings lay fallow (the occupying powers being jointly responsible for their maintenance) until the Bundesrepublik & DDR were proclaimed in 1949, at what time they were turned to the East (in the Eastern Block) or West Germany (the rest of the world).


Companies With Ties To Nazi Germany

World War II came to an end with Japan's unconditional surrender. The date was September 2, 1945, and it was six years and a day since Germany's invasion of Poland. Around 78 million people were dead, not even including the unthinkable 6 million who died in Nazi concentration camps. After all that, it took just 18 minutes for the papers to be signed.

The world would never be the same, but for some at least, life went on. The survivors were set to the monumental task of picking up the pieces. While everyday people had to grapple with new realities and the losses of loved ones, some Nazi-aligned businesses simply had to adjust their marketing campaigns. A few of the companies built on the shoulders of the Third Reich not only survived — they flourished. In fact, you probably have some of their products in your home right now, even if you aren't a Nazi enthusiast.

Why is Switzerland a neutral country?

For centuries, the tiny Alpine nation of Switzerland has adhered to a policy of armed neutrality in global affairs. Switzerland isn’t the world’s only neutral country—the likes of Ireland, Austria and Costa Rica all take similar non-interventionist stances—yet it remains the oldest and most respected. How did it earn its unique place in world politics?

The earliest moves toward Swiss neutrality date to 1515, when the Swiss Confederacy suffered a devastating loss to the French at the Battle of Marignano. Following the defeat, the Confederacy abandoned its expansionist policies and looked to avoid future conflict in the interest of self-preservation. It was the Napoleonic Wars, however, that truly sealed Switzerland’s place as a neutral nation. Switzerland was invaded by France in 1798 and later made a satellite of Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire, forcing it to compromise its neutrality. But after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the major European powers concluded that a neutral Switzerland would serve as a valuable buffer zone between France and Austria and contribute to stability in the region. During 1815’s Congress of Vienna, they signed a declaration affirming Switzerland’s “perpetual neutrality” within the international community.

Switzerland maintained its impartial stance through World War I, when it mobilized its army and accepted refugees but also refused to take sides militarily. In 1920, meanwhile, the newly formed League of Nations officially recognized Swiss neutrality and established its headquarters in Geneva. A more significant challenge to Swiss neutrality came during World War II, when the country found itself encircled by the Axis powers. While Switzerland maintained its independence by promising retaliation in the event of an invasion, it continued to trade with Nazi Germany, a decision that later proved controversial after the war ended.

U.S. Reaction to Kristallnacht

On November 15, 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), the American president, responded to Kristallnacht by reading a statement to the media in which he harshly denounced the rising tide of anti-Semitism and violence in Germany. He also recalled Hugh Wilson, his ambassador to Germany.

Despite Roosevelt’s condemnation of the Nazi violence, the U.S. refused to ease the immigration restrictions it then had in place, constraints that prevented masses of German Jews from seeking safety in America. One reason was anxiety over the possibility that Nazi infiltrators would be encouraged to legally settle in the U.S. A more obscured reason was the anti-Semitic views held by various upper-echelon officials in the U.S. State Department. One such administrator was Breckinridge Long (1881-1958), who was responsible for carrying out policies relating to immigration. Long took an obstructionist role in granting visas to European Jews, and maintained this policy even when America entered World War II after the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Nazi Gold and Portugal's Murky Role

As World War II raged across Europe, Portugal sold tungsten and other goods to Nazi Germany, profiting handsomely from its neutral status in the conflict. The Nazis paid with gold bullion looted from countries they conquered and, it is suspected, from victims of the Holocaust.

After the Nazis lost the war, Portugal secretly sold off some of this gold to Indonesia, the Philippines and above all China, working through Macao, its colonial enclave near Hong Kong.

Those sales, disclosed for the first time by a former senior minister who insisted on anonymity, were the final chapter in a story that has now come back to haunt Portugal's central bank and some of the country's more prominent business families.

Fifty years after the defeat of Germany, Europe has been stunned by a stream of revelations about Nazi gold: who handled it, where it came from and who reaped financial rewards from genocide.

The issue initially arose in Switzerland, where investigators are now examining the Swiss financial transactions with the Nazis and the fate of lost Jewish wealth in World War II.

In recent months, the focus has broadened to include Sweden, Spain and Portugal, where newspapers and historians are raising a separate set of questions about the role of local banks in financing trade and collaborating with the Nazi regime.

At the same time, the Poles have ordered an investigation into the missing wealth of Poland's victims. The Netherlands, too, plans an inquiry to find out what happened to 75 tons of public and private gold, half of the total plundered, which is still missing.

The story of the Nazis' gold has struck a particular nerve in Lisbon because, after Switzerland, Portugal was the largest importer of the gold. The country was officially neutral during the war but its regime had strong Nazi sympathies.

Like a dark, forgotten ghost, Lisbon's past has revived with tales of the city as a pivotal center for spies and a place of unscrupulous deals, where weapons and goods were transshipped to support the German war machine.

Older people here say they knew that the country's neutrality was a useful cover for doing business with all sides. But few had heard of the enormous gold trade with Germany.

According to Allied records, close to 100 tons of Nazi gold ended up in Portugal after first passing through Swiss banks that were apparently helping to disguise its origins. Almost half of this gold is believed to have been stolen from the treasuries of European countries that fell to the Nazis.

Records of Portugal's wartime dealings have recently been revealed in the news media here, astonishing today's generation of Portuguese. They also appear to have embarrassed the establishment deeply. President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister Antonio Guterres have discussed the issue in meetings of the Cabinet, but have so far declined to comment publicly.

Until 1968, when the dictator Antonio Salazar retired, censorship was used to keep secrets. When Portugal became a democracy in 1974, there were more pressing matters like the leftist revolution and the independence of the colonies.

Now, politicians, historians, students and news organizations are demanding that the Government open its archives and give a full accounting of collaboration with Hitler.

''It's a political and a moral issue,'' said Fernando Rosas, a professor of contemporary history at New University in Lisbon. ''This Government should speak out. It's not their doing.''

The Bank of Portugal, which occupies a somber building on the downtown Rua do Comercio, has long had a venerable image, but recent celebrations of its 150th anniversary were clouded by the public debate about its Nazi collaboration. It declined to send representatives to recent round-table discussions on the gold issue organized by the city of Lisbon, television stations and universities.

Because the bank had a monopoly over the gold trade until after the war, its archives are considered vital. But it has spurned requests from historians and journalists for access to wartime documents, saying it is bound by strict secrecy laws. The bank has promised to study the matter.

Down in its vaults, the bank still has ''two or three'' gold bars stamped with swastikas, according to Nuno Jonet, a bank official.

''We kept them as curiosities, Mr. Jonet said. ''We do not admit any wrongdoing. The gold acquisition was the result of perfectly legal trade operations. I'm sure people at the time did not know the gold coming here was stolen.''

Portugal used the same arguments before the Allied Tripartite Commission, which was in charge of recovering stolen gold after the war. American officials tried to pressure Portugal to surrender 44 tons of gold by freezing its assets in the United States and cutting back on wheat exports.

But the Salazar regime did not budge. In 1953 the Allies finally gave up, accepting the four tons Lisbon offered to return and letting it keep the rest.

'ɻy then the cold war was under way and the Americans wanted to keep the Azores as a strategic base,'' said Jose Freire Antunes, who has written a history of the Azores.

Both Portugal and Switzerland insist that they were not aware that the Nazi gold they used for trade had been looted.

Antonio Louca, a historian at New University who is writing a doctoral thesis on Portugal's dealings in Nazi gold, dismisses these claims.

He said that as early as 1942 the Allies officially notified Western countries that Nazis were disposing of stolen gold through Swiss banks. Mr. Louca said he has recently obtained documents from Portugal's Foreign Ministry archives that cite the warning.

Old trade records tell part of the story: in 1940, less than 2 percent of Portugal's exports went to Germany by 1942, that figure had reached 24.4 percent. Portugal sent Germany textiles, boots and food, but it earned most from tungsten, an alloy used in steel, which was indispensable to the Nazi war machine.

'ɺt the height of the tungsten fever, prices in Lisbon increased by up to 1,700 percent,'' one history book reports.

Lisbon was also a crucial intermediary for Berlin, bringing insulin and industrial diamonds from Latin America and food from its African colonies and selling Nazi gold in South America. A businessman whose foreign company had a long presence here said: ''Salazar, the President, was the master of wartime neutrality. He charged extortionary prices.''

The full story of Portugal's Nazi gold may not be hidden in bank ledgers. There were other, secret channels.

Mr. Louca, the historian, said he has obtained German documents, recently declassified, that show that in 1944 couriers were secretly running large gold shipments from Germany to its embassy in Lisbon. The couriers bypassed the Portuguese central bank and sold the gold locally.

The documents raise several disturbing questions and touch briefly on the fate of one large and wealthy Jewish family.

By the summer of 1944, Europe was in chaos. German forces had occupied Hungary, an ally, when it took steps to withdraw from the war, and the Nazis had captured several members of the Weiss-Chorin family, owners of the country's largest industrial empire.

Under duress, the family made a deal with the SS, according to postwar American intelligence reports: the Nazis would get a large part of the Weiss empire and the family could leave Hungary. At least 44 family members left, of whom 32 arrived in Portugal in June 1944.

In July, the German Embassy in Lisbon began complaining in telegrams to Berlin that the gold price in Lisbon was dropping. Berlin responded by asking if this was a result of the sales by the couriers or sales by the Weiss family, which it suspected of bringing valuables from Hungary. Members of the Weiss family have said they brought no gold to Lisbon.

''Why was this gold coming here and why did the couriers not sell the German gold to the central bank?'' Mr. Louca said. ''The chances are that the gold included coins and jewelry, which had been stolen from individuals.''

Buyers reportedly included Portuguese businessmen and bankers, some of whom still own large establishments today.

After the war, the Allies demanded that Portugal give back at least 44 tons of looted Nazi gold. But Lisbon instead began to sell off its Nazi bullion secretly through Macao, with much of it going to China in the 1950's and 60's.

According to a government official who was himself involved in supervising numerous shipments, the China-bound gold was flown from Portugal to Macao, and from there moved across the Chinese border. The former official said some ingots sent to Macao were still embossed with the sealof the Dutch Treasury, which had been plundered by the Nazis others were marked with swastikas. A number of bars were carried from Macao to the Philippines and Indonesia, strapped on people's bodies, the official said.

Historians, politicians and journalists are demanding that the Lisbon Government tell all. Fernando Rosas, the professor who is also editor of the prestigious magazine Historia, said the Government must allow free research and clarify the whole issue. ''The country needs to know the truth,'' he said.

Mr. Louca wonders if the gold story will ever be fully unraveled.

''Looting monetary gold was one thing -- stealing it from individuals, from victims, is another,'' he said. ''There is evidence that both types of gold came to Portugal.'' But, he added, even if new details spill out of official archives, it may be too difficult to separate the different sources of gold.

How lost novels are found

The story behind the rediscovery of The Passenger, with the author's niece actively contacting the publisher, was a stroke of luck for Graf — but also an exceptional case.

To find forgotten books that deserve to be reissued, Graf researches literary archives, sometimes finding references in bibliographies, and reads reviews from the 1920s.

To contribute to their relevance, new editions need links to the present, says Peter Graf. The Passenger, for instance, features parallels to the world's current migration problem. The pandemic also leads to existential questions. "We live in difficult times and have to leave our comfort zone," points out the publisher.

In periods of uncertainty, many readers turn to historical material, perhaps in an attempt to better grasp the hardships of human experience.

"I don't think literature changes the world," says Graf, "but it can sensitize readers for a moment."

Looking back on the Nazis' anti-Jewish pogroms


Qajar era Edit

Unofficial relations between the German Reich and Iran date to the early 19th century. Goethe's dedication of his West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan) to Hafez in 1819 is an illustration of how far back such cultural ties [3] went.

During the Qajar era, with the increasing unpopularity of world powers in Persia such as Russia and United Kingdom, especially after the Treaties of Turkmenchay and Gulistan and the revolt of Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi in the Tobacco movement, many Iranian intellectuals began searching for a "third force", which could be relied upon as a potential ally: Germany, which had largely remained out of the Great Game.

When Iran's first modern university was first established, Amir Kabir preferred the hiring of Austrian and German professors for Darolfonoon. [4] Even Nasereddin Shah supported the idea of hiring them to serve as Darolfonoon's faculty, despite political pressures towards the contrary. [5] In that regard, it is even written that Amir Kabir always showed interest in discussing the structural system of Germany's government and society as a model for modernizing his country. [6]

During the Constitutionalist movement of Guilan, German soldiers were actively involved in training the popular army of Mirza Kuchak Khan. [7] Mirza's field commander was a German officer by the name Major Von Pashen who had joined the Jangal movement after being released from a British prison in Rasht: he was Mirza's closest ally. Another famous German agent in Iran (especially during World War I) was Wilhelm Wassmuss, nicknamed the "German Lawrence".

Among commercial treaties, one can mention the June 6th, 1873 treaty signed in Berlin between Prince Bismarck and Mirza Hussein Khan.

First Pahlavi era and Nazi Germany Edit

Iranian Jews were very negatively impacted by this relation. In 1936 head of Reichbank and the financial mastermind of Nazi Germany travelled to Tehran and many important commercial agreements were signed between the two countries. In 1939, Nazi Germany sent over 7500 books with racial tones advocating for greater collaboration between Aryan Persians and Germans. In 1936, Iranians were called pure Aryans and were excluded from the Nuremberg Laws. Iranian railway was constructed by German engineers. Railway company was specifically ordered to avoid employing any person of Jewish origin in any of its subdivisions. Hitler personally promised that if he defeats Russia, he will return all of the Persian land taken by Russians during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many gentile anti-Semites were preparing for Johoudkoshan (Massacre of the Jews) and were warning Jews in the streets to leave Iran while they can. Nazi Germany had nightly broadcasts in Persian and was calling many of the leading Iranian politicians who had anti-German tendencies Crypto-jews. Bahram Shahrukh who was employed by German radio performed fiery anti-Jewish broadcasts every night. In Purim 1941, Shahrukh promoted the idea of revenge for the massacre of the Purim in biblical times, and suggested his Iranian followers to attack the Jews. Nightly newspapers were distributed in Tehran and swastikas were often painted on Jewish homes and shops. Thus many Persian Jews welcomed the British troops to capture Iran in 1942, since the alternative was to be taken over by Germans.

In order to fight the growing racial antisemitism among the Iranian population, many Jews joined the Tudeh party and advocated for communism. Even though Jews comprised less than 2 percent of Iranian population, almost fifty percent of the members of the Tudeh party were Jewish. Tudeh party was the only party among the Iranian political parties that accepted Jews with open arms. Most writers for publications of the Tudeh party were Jewish. Furthermore, many Iranian Jews viewed communism as a Jewish movement since many leading members of the communist revolution in Russia were Jewish and were looked upon favorably by Persian Jews.

The shelling of Iran's parliament by the Russians and the signing of the 1919 treaty firmly planted the roots of suspicion against Britain and Russia. Many people were aware of Wilhelm II's speech in Damascus in 1898 calling on all Muslims to rely on him as a true friend. [8] By the early 1930s, Reza Shah or the elder Reza Pahlavi's economic ties with Nazi Germany began worrying the Allied states. Germany's modern state and economy highly impressed the Shah, and there were hundreds of Germans involved in every aspect of the state from setting up factories to building roads, railroads and bridges. [9]

Reza Shah went on to ask the international community to use the native name of "Iran" in 1935 to address to his country. Although the country has been known as Iran to the native people themselves for many centuries, Westerners came to know the nation as Persia by ancient Greek accounts. The goal was to distract attention from the traditional Western designation “Persia” (a term Greek in origin). “Persian” was the historical name of one of the ethnic groups in Iran. With the reforms that Reza Shah was implementing, the adoption of a new name for the country was seen as restoring Iran's historical legacy. While Persia had fallen victim to imperialism, Iran would be free from foreign control.

In 1936, the Hitler cabinet declared Iranians to be immune to the Nuremberg Laws, as they were considered to be "pure Aryans". [10] Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian junior diplomat, tried to save many Persian Jews from extermination by convincing many Nazi officials to leave them alone. [11] Sardari was stationed in Paris at the time of the Nazi occupation. [12] His efforts led the Nazis to issue a directive that Iranian Jews should be exempt from wearing the yellow star of David. It is said that Sardari gave out between 500 and 1,000 Iranian passports, without the consent of his superiors. His actions are believed to have saved 2,000 to 3,000 Jewish lives, as passports were issued for entire families. [11]

In 1939, Germany provided Iran with the so-called German Scientific Library. The library contained over 7500 books selected "to convince Iranian readers. of the kinship between the National Socialist Reich and the Aryan culture of Iran". [13] In various pro-Nazi publications, lectures, speeches, and ceremonies, parallels were drawn between the Shah and Hitler, and praises were given to the charisma and the virtue of the Führerprinzip. [14]

For many decades, Iran and Germany had cultivated ties, partly as a counter to the imperial ambitions of Britain and Russian (later the Soviet Union). Trading with the Germans appealed to Iran because they did not have a history of imperialism in the region, unlike the British and the Russians.

From 1939 to 1941, Iran's top foreign trade partner (nearly 50% of its total trade) was Germany, which helped Iran in opening modern sea and air communications with the rest of the world. [15]

Demands from the Allies for the expulsion of German residents in Iran, mostly workers and diplomats, were refused by the Shah. A British embassy report in 1940, estimated that there were almost 1,000 German nationals in Iran. [16] According to Iran's Ettelaat newspaper, there were actually 690 German nationals in Iran (out of a total of 4,630 foreigners, including 2,590 British). [17] Jean Beaumont estimates that "probably no more than 3,000" Germans actually lived in Iran, but they were believed to have a disproportionate influence because of their employment in strategic government industries and Iran's transport and communications network". [18] : 215–216

However, the Iranians also began to reduce their trade with the Germans under Allied demands. [19] [20] Reza Shah sought to remain neutral and to anger neither side, which was becoming increasingly difficult with the British and Soviet demands on Iran. Many British forces were already present in Iraq as a result of the Anglo-Iraqi War earlier in 1941. Thus, British troops were stationed on the western border of Iran prior to the invasion.

In 1941, the Allies forced Reza Shah to abdicate the throne to his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. His followers, who refused the British occupation of Iran, such as Fazlollah Zahedi [21] and Mohammad Hosein Airom ,shared similar fates. The British believed that Zahedi was planning a general uprising in co-operation with German forces. He was arrested and found with German weapons and correspondence from a German agent. He was flown out of the country and interned in Palestine.

Second Pahlavi era Edit

Postwar Iran came under the inescapable diplomatic shadow of the United States, which reduced the chances of further deepening relations between Tehran and Bonn. In commercial links, West Germany still remained well ahead of other European countries, even the United States, until 1974. [ citation needed ]

In 1972, after the visit to Tehran of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, Iran and West Germany signed an economic agreement to provide for Iranian exports of oil and natural gas to Germany, with West German exports to and investments in Iran in return. However, given its huge surplus in foreign trade in 1974 and 1975, the Iranian government bought 25% of the shares of Krupp Hüttenwerke (German for smelting plants), the steel subsidiary of the German conglomerate Krupp, in September 1974. That provided the much needed cash injection to Krupp, it also gave Iran access to German expertise to expand its steel industry. Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant was also designed and partially built by the German Kraftwerk Union of Siemens, meanwhile, an agreement that was inked. Along with the agreement, a letter of intent was also signed on November 10 by which the West Germany firm would construct four new 1,200-megawatt nuclear power stations in Iran over the next ten years. The letter was signed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and a director of Siemens on behalf of Kraftwerk Union. The four new plants were to be built in pairs, two in Isfahan and two in the Markazi Province, probably near Saveh. Target date for the first plant to go on stream was 1984, with another plant expected to become operational in each of the following three years. Kraftwerk Union was already building two similar-sized nuclear power stations near Bushehr on the Persian Gulf, while a French consortium headed by the Creusot-Loire subsidiary Framatome was building two 900-megawatt nuclear plants along the Karun River south of Ahvaz. [22]

In 1975, West Germany became the second supplier of non-military goods to Iran. Valued at $404 million, West German imports amounted to nearly one fifth of total Iranian imports. [23]

As the European country with the largest Iranian expatriate community, West Germany had the Shah's visits become the focus of much protest in the 1970s. As repression in Iran became more intense, the demonstrations became more vigorous. Many of Iran's intellectual ayatollahs, such as Ayatollah Beheshti actually spent some years in cities like Hamburg.

Since Iranian Revolution Edit

Hans-Dietrich Genscher was the first Western foreign minister to visit Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, visiting Iran in 1984.

Although West Germany was a key technology supplier to Saddam Hussein during the Iran–Iraq War, especially to Saddam's chemical weapons program, [24] [25] [26] Germany also kept open relations with Iran in some industrial and civilian technological sectors.

After the war, Germany increasingly became a primary trading partner of Iran, with German goods worth about 3.6 billion euros being imported into Iran in 2004.

The 1992 Mykonos restaurant assassinations and Mykonos Trial in Berlin severely soured relations. On September 17, 1992, Kurdish Iranian insurgent leaders Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan and their translator Nouri Dehkordi were assassinated at the Mykonos Greek restaurant, in Berlin, Germany. In the Mykonos trial, the courts found Kazem Darabi, an Iranian national, who worked as a grocer in Berlin, and the Lebanese Abbas Rhayel, guilty of murder and sentenced them to life in prison. Two other Lebanese, Youssef Amin and Mohamed Atris, were convicted of being accessories to murder. In its 10 April 1997 ruling, the court issued an international arrest warrant for Iranian intelligence minister Hojjat al-Islam Ali Fallahian [27] after it declared that the assassination had been ordered by him with knowledge of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ayatollah Rafsanjani. [28]

In a 2004 letter to Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the then mayor of Tehran, objected to the commemorative plaque in front of the restaurant and called it an insult to Iran. [29]

In 1999, a German, Helmut Hofer, was arrested in Tehran after he had an affair with an Iranian woman. That caused some tremors in the domestic political landscape and the diplomatic relations of Tehran-Berlin. [30]

That was followed in 2005, when a German angler on vacation in the United Arab Emirates was arrested in the Persian Gulf and convicted to a prison sentence of 18 months. In 2009 a German lawyer, Andreas Moser, was arrested during the protests against the 2009 elections but was released after one week. [31] Also in 2005, the hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stirred relations with comments directed against the Jewish Holocaust. [32] However, Tehran's tensions with Germany and most of the rest of Europe have eased considerably in recent years after the election of the more moderate Hassan Rouhani as president in 2013.

2000s to 2010s Edit

On 4 February 2006, the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors voted to refer ("report") Iran's case to the United Nations Security Council, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy that the world must act to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. [33] With Germany having been one of the three European Union countries that had negotiated with Iran for two-and-a-half years in a bid to persuade Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program, Merkel said that Iran was a threat to both Europe and Israel. [34]

In July 2015, Germany was the only non-UNSC nation that signed, along with the five UN Security Council's five permanent members, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018, Germany, along with the two other EU state signatories to the JCPOA (E3), issued a joint statement, which said, "It is with regret and concern that we, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States of America from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security" [35]

In January 2020, Germany was among the E3 states that jointly formally informed the EU that they had registered their "concerns that Iran [was] not meeting its commitments under the JCPoA" and thereby triggered the dispute resolution mechanism under the JCPOA, a move that they said had "the overarching objective of preserving the JCPoA". [36] The move was thought to be aimed at pushing the sides back to the negotiating table. [37]

In September 2020, in the first coordinated move by the three countries, Germany, France and the UK summoned Iranian ambassadors in a joint diplomatic protest against Iran's detention of dual nationals and its treatment of political prisoners. [38] In December 2020, Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the envoys from France and from Germany, which held the EU rotating presidency, to protest French and EU criticism of the execution of the journalist Ruhollah Zam. [39]

Around 50 German firms have their own branch offices in Iran, and more than 12,000 firms have their own trade representatives in Iran. Several renowned German companies are involved in major Iranian infrastructure projects,l especially in the petrochemical sector, like Linde, BASF, Lurgi, Krupp, Siemens, ZF Friedrichshafen, Mercedes, Volkswagen and MAN (2008). [40]

In 2005, Germany had the largest share of Iran's export market with $5.67 billion (14.4%). [41] In 2008, German exports to Iran increased 8.9% and were 84.7% of the total German-Iranian trade volume.

The overall bilateral trade volume until the end of September 2008 stood at 3.23 billion euros, compared to 2.98 billion euros the previous year. [40] [42] The value of trade between Tehran and Berlin has increased from around 4.3 billion euro in 2009 to nearly 4.7 billion euro in 2010. [43] According to German sources, around 80% of machinery and equipment in Iran is of German origin. [44]

The German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) has estimated that economic sanctions against Iran may cost more than 10,000 German jobs and have a negative impact on the economic growth of Germany. Sanctions would hurt especially medium-sized German companies, which depend heavily on trade with Iran. [40]

There has been a shift in German business ties with Iran from long-term business to short-term and from large to mid-sized companies that have fewer business interests in the US and thus are less prone to American political pressure. [45] Around 100 German companies have branches in Iran and more than 1000 businesses work through sales agents, according to the German-Iranian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. [46]

After the official agreement between Iran and the West during the Iran nuclear deal, Germany's economic relations with Iran has been increasing once more. German exports to Iran grew more than 27% from 2015 to 2016. [47]

On 20 October 2018, the Association of German Banks stated that exports from Germany to Iran have reduced to 1.8 billion euros since January. [48]

The Holocaust: An Introductory History

The Holocaust (also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew) refers to the period from January 30, 1933 - when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany - to May 8, 1945, when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jewry and one-third of all world Jewry.

The Jews who died were not casualties of the fighting that ravaged Europe during World War II. Rather, they were the victims of Germany&rsquos deliberate and systematic attempt to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, a plan Hitler called the &ldquoFinal Solution&rdquo (Endlosung).


After its defeat in World War I, Germany was humiliated by the Versailles Treaty, which reduced its prewar territory, drastically reduced its armed forces, demanded the recognition of its guilt for the war, and stipulated it pay reparations to the allied powers. With the German Empire destroyed, a new parliamentary government called the Weimar Republic was formed. The republic suffered from economic instability, which grew worse during the worldwide depression after the New York stock market crash in 1929. Massive inflation followed by very high unemployment heightened existing class and political differences and began to undermine the government.

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party, was named chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg after the Nazi party won a significant percentage of the vote in the elections of 1932. The Nazi Party had taken advantage of the political unrest in Germany to gain an electoral foothold. The Nazis incited clashes with the communists and conducted a vicious propaganda campaign against its political opponents &ndash the weak Weimar government and the Jews whom the Nazis blamed for Germany&rsquos ills.

Propaganda: &ldquoThe Jews Are Our Misfortune&rdquo

A major tool of the Nazis&rsquo propaganda assault was the weekly Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer (The Attacker). At the bottom of the front page of each issue, in bold letters, the paper proclaimed, &ldquoThe Jews are our misfortune!&rdquo Der Stürmer also regularly featured cartoons of Jews in which they were caricatured as hooked-nosed and ape-like. The influence of the newspaper was far-reaching: by 1938 about a half million copies were distributed weekly.

Soon after he became chancellor, Hitler called for new elections in an effort to get full control of the Reichstag, the German parliament, for the Nazis. The Nazis used the government apparatus to terrorize the other parties. They arrested their leaders and banned their political meetings. Then, in the midst of the election campaign, on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building burned. A Dutchman named Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested for the crime, and he swore he had acted alone. Although many suspected the Nazis were ultimately responsible for the act, the Nazis managed to blame the Communists, thus turning more votes their way.

The fire signaled the demise of German democracy. On the next day, the government, under the pretense of controlling the Communists, abolished individual rights and protections: freedom of the press, assembly, and expression were nullified, as well as the right to privacy. When the elections were held on March 5, the Nazis received nearly 44 percent of the vote, and with 8 percent offered by the Conservatives, won a majority in the government.

The Nazis moved swiftly to consolidate their power into a dictatorship. On March 23, the Enabling Act was passed. It sanctioned Hitler&rsquos dictatorial efforts and legally enabled him to pursue them further. The Nazis marshaled their formidable propaganda machine to silence their critics. They also developed a sophisticated police and military force.

The Sturmabteilung (S.A., Storm Troopers), a grassroots organization, helped Hitler undermine the German democracy. The Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei, Secret State Police), a force recruited from professional police officers, was given complete freedom to arrest anyone after February 28. The Schutzstaffel (SS, Protection Squad) served as Hitler&rsquos personal bodyguard and eventually controlled the concentration camps and the Gestapo. The Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS (S.D., Security Service of the SS) functioned as the Nazis&rsquo intelligence service, uncovering enemies and keeping them under surveillance.

With this police infrastructure in place, opponents of the Nazis were terrorized, beaten, or sent to one of the concentration camps the Germans built to incarcerate them. Dachau, just outside of Munich, was the first such camp built for political prisoners. Dachau&rsquos purpose changed over time and eventually became another brutal concentration camp for Jews.

By the end of 1934 Hitler was in absolute control of Germany, and his campaign against the Jews in full swing. The Nazis claimed the Jews corrupted pure German culture with their &ldquoforeign&rdquo and &ldquomongrel&rdquo influence. They portrayed the Jews as evil and cowardly, and Germans as hardworking, courageous, and honest. The Jews, the Nazis claimed, who were heavily represented in finance, commerce, the press, literature, theater, and the arts, had weakened Germany&rsquos economy and culture. The massive government-supported propaganda machine created a racial anti-Semitism, which was different from the long­standing anti-Semitic tradition of the Christian churches.

The superior race was the &ldquoAryans,&rdquo the Germans. The word Aryan, &ldquoderived from the study of linguistics, which started in the eighteenth century and at some point determined that the Indo-Germanic (also known as Aryan) languages were superior in their structures, variety, and vocabulary to the Semitic languages that had evolved in the Near East. This judgment led to a certain conjecture about the character of the peoples who spoke these languages the conclusion was that the &lsquoAryan&rsquo peoples were likewise superior to the &lsquoSemitic&rsquo ones&rdquo

The Jews Are Isolated from Society

The Nazis then combined their racial theories with the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin to justify their treatment of the Jews. The Germans, as the strongest and fittest, were destined to rule, while the weak and racially adulterated Jews were doomed to extinction. Hitler began to restrict the Jews with legislation and terror, which entailed burning books written by Jews, removing Jews from their professions and public schools, confiscating their businesses and property and excluding them from public events. The most infamous of the anti-Jewish legislation were the Nuremberg Laws, enacted on September 15, 1935. They formed the legal basis for the Jews&rsquo exclusion from German society and the progressively restrictive Jewish policies of the Germans.

Many Jews attempted to flee Germany, and thousands succeeded by immigrating to such countries as Belgium, Czechoslovakia, England, France and Holland. It was much more difficult to get out of Europe. Jews encountered stiff immigration quotas in most of the world&rsquos countries. Even if they obtained the necessary documents, they often had to wait months or years before leaving. Many families out of desperation sent their children first.

In July 1938, representatives of 32 countries met in the French town of Evian to discuss the refugee and immigration problems created by the Nazis in Germany. Nothing substantial was done or decided at the Evian Conference, and it became apparent to Hitler that no one wanted the Jews and that he would not meet resistance in instituting his Jewish policies. By the autumn of 1941, Europe was in effect sealed to most legal emigration. The Jews were trapped.

On November 9-10, 1938, the attacks on the Jews became violent. Hershel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Jewish boy distraught at the deportation of his family, shot Ernst vom Rath, the third secretary in the German Embassy in Paris, who died on November 9. Nazi hooligans used this assassination as the pretext for instigating a night of destruction that is now known as Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass). They looted and destroyed Jewish homes and businesses and burned synagogues. Many Jews were beaten and killed 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

The Jews Are Confined to Ghettos

Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, beginning World War II. Soon after, in 1940, the Nazis began establishing ghettos for the Jews of Poland. More than 10 percent of the Polish population was Jewish, numbering about three million. Jews were forcibly deported from their homes to live in crowded ghettos, isolated from the rest of society.

This concentration of the Jewish population later aided the Nazis in their deportation of the Jews to the death camps. The ghettos lacked the necessary food, water, space, and sanitary facilities required by so many people living within their constricted boundaries. Many died of deprivation and starvation.

The &ldquoFinal Solution&rdquo

In June 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union and began the &ldquoFinal Solution.&rdquo Four mobile killing groups were formed called Einsatzgruppen A, B, C and D. Each group contained several commando units. The Einsatzgruppen gathered Jews town by town, marched them to huge pits dug earlier, stripped them, lined them up, and shot them with automatic weapons. The dead and dying would fall into the pits to be buried in mass graves. In the infamous Babi Yar massacre, near Kiev, 30,000-35,000 Jews were killed in two days. In addition to their operations in the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen conducted mass murder in eastern Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. It is estimated that by the end of 1942, the Einsatzgruppen had murdered more than 1.3 million Jews.

On January 20, 1942, several top officials of the German government met to officially coordinate the military and civilian administrative branches of the Nazi system to organize a system of mass murder of the Jews. This meeting, called the Wannsee Conference, &ldquomarked the beginning of the full-scale, comprehensive extermination operation [of the Jews] and laid the foundations for its organization, which started immediately after the conference ended.&rdquo

While the Nazis murdered other national and ethnic groups, such as a number of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish intellectuals, and gypsies, only the Jews were marked for systematic and total annihilation. Jews were singled out for &ldquoSpecial Treatment&rdquo (Sonderbehandlung), which meant that Jewish men, women and children were to be methodically killed with poisonous gas. In the exacting records kept at the Auschwitz death camp, the cause of death of Jews who had been gassed was indicated by &ldquoSB,&rdquo the first letters of the two words that form the German term for &ldquoSpecial Treatment.&rdquo

By the spring of 1942, the Nazis had established six killing centers (death camps) in Poland: Chelmno (Kulmhof), Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Maidanek and Auschwitz. All were located near railway lines so that Jews could be easily transported daily. A vast system of camps (called Lagersystem) supported the death camps. The purpose of these camps varied: some were slave labor camps, some transit camps, others concentration camps and their subcamps, and still others the notorious death camps. Some camps combined all of these functions or a few of them. All the camps were intolerably brutal.

In nearly every country overrun by the Nazis, the Jews were forced to wear badges marking them as Jews, they were rounded up into ghettos or concentration camps and then gradually transported to the killing centers. The death camps were essentially factories for murdering Jews. The Germans shipped thousands of Jews to them each day. Within a few hours of their arrival, the Jews had been stripped of their possessions and valuables, gassed to death, and their bodies burned in specially designed crematoriums. Approximately 3.5 million Jews were murdered in these death camps.

Many healthy, young strong Jews were not killed immediately. The Germans&rsquo war effort and the &ldquoFinal Solution&rdquo required a great deal of manpower, so the Germans reserved large pools of Jews for slave labor. These people, imprisoned in concentration and labor camps, were forced to work in German munitions and other factories, such as I.G. Farben and Krupps, and wherever the Nazis needed laborers. They were worked from dawn until dark without adequate food and shelter. Thousands perished, literally worked to death by the Germans and their collaborators.

In the last months of Hitler&rsquos Reich, as the German armies retreated, the Nazis began marching the prisoners still alive in the concentration camps to the territory they still controlled. The Germans forced the starving and sick Jews to walk hundreds of miles. Most died or were shot along the way. About a quarter of a million Jews died on the death marches.

Jewish Resistance

The Germans&rsquo overwhelming repression and the presence of many collaborators in the various local populations severely limited the ability of the Jews to resist. Jewish resistance did occur, however, in several forms. Staying alive, clean, and observing Jewish religious traditions constituted resistance under the dehumanizing conditions imposed by the Nazis. Other forms of resistance involved escape attempts from the ghettos and camps. Many who succeeded in escaping the ghettos lived in the forests and mountains in family camps and in fighting partisan units. Once free, though, the Jews had to contend with local residents and partisan groups who were often openly hostile. Jews also staged armed revolts in the ghettos of Vilna, Bialystok, Bedzin-Sosnowiec, Krakow, and Warsaw.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was the largest ghetto revolt. Massive deportations (or Aktions) had been held in the ghetto from July to September 1942, emptying the ghetto of the majority of Jews imprisoned there. When the Germans entered the ghetto again in January 1943 to remove several thousand more, small unorganized groups of Jews attacked them. After four days, the Germans withdrew from the ghetto, having deported far fewer people than they had intended. The Nazis reentered the ghetto on April 19, 1943, the eve of Passover, to evacuate the remaining Jews and close the ghetto. The Jews, using homemade bombs and stolen or bartered weapons, resisted and withstood the Germans for 27 days. They fought from bunkers and sewers and evaded capture until the Germans burned the ghetto building by building. By May 16, the ghetto was in ruins and the uprising crushed.

Jews also revolted in the death camps of Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz. All of these acts of resistance were largely unsuccessful in the face of the superior German forces, but they were very important spiritually, giving the Jews hope that one day the Nazis would be defeated.


The camps were liberated gradually, as the Allies advanced on the German army. For example, Maidanek (near Lublin, Poland) was liberated by Soviet forces in July 1944, Auschwitz in January 1945 by the Soviets, Bergen-Belsen (near Hanover, Germany) by the British in April 1945, and Dachau by the Americans in April 1945.

At the end of the war, between 50,000 and 100,000 Jewish survivors were living in three zones of occupation: American, British and Soviet. Within a year, that figure grew to about 200,000. The American zone of occupation contained more than 90 percent of the Jewish displaced persons (DPs). The Jewish DPs would not and could not return to their homes, which brought back such horrible memories and still held the threat of danger from anti-Semitic neighbors. Thus, they languished in DP camps until emigration could be arranged to Palestine, and later Israel, the United States, South America and other countries. The last DP camp closed in 1957

Below are figures for the number of Jews murdered in each country that came under German domination. They are estimates, as are all figures relating to Holocaust victims. The numbers given here for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania are based on their territorial borders before the 1938 Munich agreement. The total number of six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, which emerged from the Nuremberg trials, is also an estimate. Numbers have ranged between five and seven million killed. The exact number will never be known because of the many people whose murders were not recorded and whose bodies have still not be found.

Nazi-Occupied Norway Offers a Glimpse of What Hitler Wanted for the Entire World

T he German occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1945 witnessed a remarkable building campaign to align this northern land with Hitler&rsquos New Order. From gleaming highways and ideal cities to maternity centers for a purified Nordic race, plans to remake Norway into a model &ldquoAryan&rdquo society fired the imagination of Nazi leaders.

These projects have a great deal to tell us about how Hitler and his henchmen envisioned the world under the swastika, which they had begun to construct in Norway. As the Greater German Reich expanded and stretched beyond the Arctic Circle, the Nazis wasted no time leaving their mark on the new territories. Their efforts to reshape occupied Norway, including everyday spaces where people lived and worked, give us a preview of the deeply ideological environments Hitler foresaw emerging in the wake of his ultimate victory, even in those nations he considered potential allies.

The Nazis believed that Norwegians were racially (although not culturally) superior to Germans, and Hitler hoped to win them over to his worldview. Rather than deploy the policies of mass extermination and slave labor used in Eastern Europe, he courted them using propaganda and incentives. With ambitious architecture and infrastructure projects, Hitler sought to literally and figuratively build bridges to Norway&rsquos citizens, bringing them into the fold of his Greater German Reich. Yet despite claims made by the occupiers that Norwegians and Germans shared a special bond as Nordic brothers, Hitler&rsquos construction schemes expose a deeply colonial mindset.

Within months of the April 1940 invasion, the Nazis had begun to develop sweeping plans for the transformation of Norway&rsquos towns and landscapes. They viewed these changes to the physical environment as preconditions for the incorporation of Norwegians into the Greater German Reich and, importantly, also for the long-term presence of German rulers in this northern land. The Nazis had no intention of withdrawing, even as they publicly promised the Norwegians that the occupation was only a temporary measure to &ldquoprotect&rdquo them from British aggression.

New Trondheim was the most grandiose of the projects, an entirely new city for Germans that Hitler commissioned Albert Speer to design on the Trondheim Fjord, which was also the intended site of a vast new German naval base. Hitler imagined New Trondheim as the German cultural hub of the north, and thus &ldquofabulously built,&rdquo as he told Joseph Goebbels, with a German art museum and opera house as well as other luxurious amenities. Among the attractions of this location was the neighboring city of Trondheim and its association with the Vikings, a legacy the Germans wanted to appropriate for themselves. Knowledge about the new city and naval base was tightly controlled to avoid provoking the Norwegian resistance.

The Nazis&rsquo desire to create ideal urban environments in occupied Norway&mdashwhether for the German rulers or the occupied Norwegians&mdashunderscores the importance of town planning for Hitler and his architects, who treated urban spaces as stage sets for the performance of the Volksgemeinschaft, the racial community. Even before seizing power, Hitler had begun to sketch out the architectural foundations for a new Germany, which later also shaped his ideas of empire building. The Germans invested considerable resources to create physical environments that would support a new social order in occupied Norway.

Although the occupiers did plan monumental projects, their broader strategy for intervening in Norwegian towns focused more on coopting existing environments rather than on erecting edifices that stood apart from their sites. We see this clearly in the reconstruction schemes for 23 Norwegian towns damaged in the 1940 invasion. Albert Speer oversaw the Norwegian architects tasked with rebuilding, who were expected to produce designs in accordance with town-planning principles developed in Nazi Germany. As in Germany, Speer favored neoclassical styles for public structures, including those meant to house new Nazi institutions, but he also accommodated Norwegian ideas of placemaking. Above all, the power of racial ideology in these reconstructed Norwegian towns derived from Nazi values becoming embedded into everyday spaces and everyday lives.

Even as Hitler reassured Vidkun Quisling, the head of Norway&rsquos puppet government, that Norway would soon regain her independence, the Germans settled in for the long term. Beyond the cultural metropolis envisioned for themselves on the Trondheim Fjord, the creation of other exclusive German spaces indicates the occupiers&rsquo attention to their own needs as rulers. Among these projects were the Soldatenheime, cultural and recreational centers that Hitler commissioned for the 400,000 German troops stationed in Norway. Generously designed and furnished, with theaters that showed German films, restaurants that served German food and walls that were decorated with German art, the Soldatenheime represented self-contained German worlds that reinforced the troops&rsquo national identity in a foreign land.

If the German occupiers, despite their ideology of Nordic brotherhood, kept themselves spatially and culturally apart as rulers, they promoted fraternization of another sort. Occupied Norway became a locus of the Lebensborn program, initiated in Germany by SS leader Heinrich Himmler in 1935 to encourage the birth of Aryan babies. Intending to harvest the Norwegians&rsquo supposedly superior genes to improve the racial health of the German population, the Nazis established more maternity centers in Norway than in any other country, including Germany. Treating these children like other natural resources in Norway that could benefit the Fatherland, the Nazis devised a pipeline that sent hundreds of babies from Norway to Germany during the war years.

While Norwegian babies flowed southward, Germans moved northward. Among other infrastructure projects, Hitler commissioned a superhighway that would have stretched from Trondheim to Berlin. Such transportation systems would have tethered the peripheries of Hitler&rsquos European empire to its center, Berlin. The superhighway to Trondheim was also designed to encourage German tourists, driving their Volkswagens, to familiarize themselves with the northern reaches of their empire. Hitler believed that, in the wake of his victorious armies, this type of road travel would help Germans identify with the new territories of the Greater German Reich, preparing them to fight to retain them in the future.

When we look to Norway, we see not only the Nazis&rsquo self-serving ideals of Nordic brotherhood taking form, but also, more broadly, how they envisioned their relationship to the conquered regions&mdashespecially the North, a place both physical and mystical to them. The Nazis considered the invasion of Norway to be a homecoming: they claimed that Germans had originated in the North and were finally returning, making the land their own again. Building was central to their strategy of dominance and re-appropriation. For all these reasons, the occupying Nazis invested enormous resources in the effort to remodel Norway. Ultimately, that transformation was in the service of their imagined Aryan empire and their role as its masters. That empire, thankfully, never came to be&mdashbut in these northern building blocks lies a striking clue as to the depth of Nazi desire to create total worlds.