The Jews of Danzig, the City Where World War II Began

Following World War I, the formerly German port of Danzig (modern-day Gdansk, Poland) was made a “free city,” separated from Germany by a sliver of Polish territory. Adolf Hitler manufactured a conflict with Poland over this anomalous situation as a pretext for invading 80 years ago Sunday. Colin Shindler describes the situation of the city’s Jews at the time:

After the upheavals of the World War I, Danzig had become a temporary location for stateless and persecuted Jews, seeking a better life elsewhere. Many were encamped in a special transit facility on the city’s outskirts where they were helped by Danzig’s Jewish community. In the 1920s, some 60,000 homeless Jews passed through.

The Nazi virus, after infecting Weimar Germany, was soon exported to Danzig’s German citizens. . . . In May 1933, the Nazis won power in Danzig through a democratic election. . . . One tactic used by the Nazis was to create a split between the acculturated German-Jewish leadership and the [more] traditional Ostjuden from Poland. [Yet they refused] to denounce each other. Even so, by 1937, 3,000 Jews had left.

In October 1937, the local Nazis announced that they could not guarantee the rights of foreign-born Jews. A year later, Kristallnacht resulted in the burning down of two synagogues and the desecration of two others. . . . On January 2, 1939, laws excluding Jews from economic life and the professions came into force in Danzig. Deportations began shortly afterward.

When war broke out on September 1, German troops seized Danzig in a matter of hours:

The following day, the Nazis established the first concentration camp outside German borders at Stutthof, 30 miles from Danzig. It was also the last camp to be liberated by the Allies, on May 9, 1945. Over 60,000 died there in the intervening period—half of them Jews.

Read more at Colin Shindler

More about: Holocaust, Kristallnacht, Polish Jewry, World War II


While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy