If that assertion leaves you astonished, Dear Reader, don’t be. Just because This Writer supported Ken Livingstone over his original assertions regarding the Nazis and Zionism last year, that doesn’t mean I’ll support him over everything he says. This Site is concerned with facts. When Mr Livingstone was criticised over his original comments last year, I started out thinking that he was wrong; it was only after further information came into my hands that I changed my opinion.
And at the moment, the facts seem to be against him, regarding the claims he has made, starting just before his disciplinary hearing in front of members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.
According to The Guardian, “It is understood new complaints about Livingstone’s conduct relate to his comments last week when he suggested there was ‘real collaboration’ between the Nazis and some German Jews at one point in the 1930s.
“Referring to Hitler, Livingstone said: ‘He didn’t just sign the deal. The SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there. When the Zionist movement asked, would the Nazi government stop a Jewish rabbi doing their sermons in Yiddish and make them do it in Hebrew, he agreed to that.
“’He passed a law saying the Zionist flag and the swastika were the only flags that could be flown in Germany. An awful lot. Of course, they started selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army. So you had right up until the start of the second world war real collaboration.’”
That has been enough for Mr Livingstone’s long-time friend and ally, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, to announce a new investigation:
But what about the new claims? Has anybody actually bothered to fact-check them?
That, in fact, turned out to be a very good question and at first I struggled to find any research into the claims at all.
Then I found a site called Skeptics Stack Exchange. I had never heard of this place before but it was carrying a discussion about some of the things Mr Livingstone had said. Here’s what the people there found:
“There were Jewish training camps in Germany, but Livingstons description is highly misleading regarding the goal of the camps, and also who ran the camps (the sources I could find say that various Jewish organizations ran them, not the SS).
“The motivation for these camps was not concern about Jewish ability to cope. Instead, these camps existed because the experience gained in them allowed Jews to obtain visas and thus to leave Germany, which was one of the goals of Nazi Germany before the Endlösung.
“Another source differentiates Zionist camps – whose goal was to educate Jews so that they could leave – and non-Zionist camps – whose goal was to fight against anti-semitic stereotypes.
“I was unable to find any information about weapons sold to Jews or the language claim.”
Regarding Nazi laws on flags that could be flown in Germany, a different page on the same site had this to say:
“This is obviously false. There was never a time in Germany where only two flags where allowed. Wikipedia has a list of official flags used in Germany between 1933 and 1945, which were of course legal at the time, and a number of them neither contain the swastika, nor are blue and white (for example the flag of the SS).”
A comment on the page points out that “almost” all the flags on the list were discontinued in 1935, when the law in question was passed. Another responds that being discontinued is not that same as being forbidden, and only one counter-example would be enough to refute Mr Livingstone’s claim.
“The Wikipedia article Flag of Israel has a section on it being referenced in the Nuremberg Laws, which were passed in 1935: ‘Paragraph 4 in “The Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour”, part of the infamous Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935, states that 1. “Jews are forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the [German] national colours. 2. On the other hand, they are permitted to display the Jewish colours. The exercise of this right is protected by the State”… The “Jewish colours” referred to in this article were blue and white..'”
Again, there is a comment: “Implying that allowing the Jewish flag equalled supporting their cause, when in fact it was clearly part of a program to single them out for persecution, is what is offensive about Livingstone’s claim. Whether or not other flags were allowed doesn’t really change that point.”
This rings true. Doesn’t it?
If anyone has factual evidence – in either direction – on any of the new claims made by Mr Livingstone between March 30 and April 4 this year, please feel free to send them in to the comment column, with links to the original source information. I’m not interested in evidenceless personal opinions, so please don’t send me chasing any wild geese or fishing for red herrings.
Mr Livingstone has also stated that, if he is found to be mistaken in any of his claims, he will gladly apologise for the error and for any offence caused.
In these instances, it seems – at least for the moment – that this is what he’ll have to do.
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