New investigation launched into Ken Livingstone’s latest comments. Is Corbyn right?

Ken Livingstone may soon be looking a little more contrite if he cannot substantiate his latest claims [Image: PA].

At the moment? Yes, it seems he is.

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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37 thoughts on “New investigation launched into Ken Livingstone’s latest comments. Is Corbyn right?

  1. Wanda Lozinska

    Well, I still think that primarily all this is about is to do as much damage as possible to Jeremy Corbyn, by people who would lose out should he ever become PM. He himself is squeaky clean, so they have to pick on those who support him, such as Ken.

    Of course it would have been better if Ken had kept his mouth shut, but he obviously feels that he’s right and that he has been wrongfully attacked. This may well have been the case with his original comments but, even if there might be inaccuracies in his subsequent statements, I still don’t think that he was being anti-semitic. Surely it’s a question of “intent” – and he has repeatedly said that he didn’t intend to cause offence.

    In a Newsnight interview he did say he was sorry if his remarks did cause offence, so a proper apology should be enough. However, nothing will be enough for anti-Corbynites who just want to do as much damage as possible.

    Jeremy, as LP Leader, has no choice but to call a further investigation, but this is all waste of time and an unwelcomed distraction just before voting in Local elections is due to start. No doubt, the people behind this want Labour to do badly so they can restart their calls for Jeremy to step down, which, of course, he shouldn’t do!

  2. Jeffrey Davies

    Ken is the whipping boy they use to hurt corbyn nevertheless his words are being used by the greedie ones the blairites to rid themselves of him yet the right get away with many a lie until they thrown out there be no piece

    1. Shaya Grosskopf

      Of course, the words used by Ken Livingstone are never the responsibility of the aformentioned Livingstone, right? It’s all the greedy Blairites faults that the words that he actually said are being quoted accurately.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Which of Mr Livingstone’s words do you think you’re quoting accurately?
        Genuinely amazed that you seem to think you have accurately portrayed Mr Livingstone’s comments.

  3. casalealex

    I have supported Livingstone throughout this episode, but now, unfortunately, Livingstone appears to be getting too big for his boots.

    1. Shaya Grosskopf

      Perhaps he was already too big for his boots when he said “Hitler was a supporter of Zionism.” But genuinely grateful that the mist is clearing from in front of your eyes.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Hitler did support Zionism in its aim of removing Jewish people from Germany. The evidence is as plain as the nose on your face and is not disputed by any reputable authority. Since that is all Mr Livingstone was claiming, he was right – and therefore not “too big for his boots”.
        The other commenter is referring to Mr Livingstone’s more recent comments.

  4. Roland Laycock

    Looks like the Zionist are going to get there way KEN as done nothing wrong if there is any one that should apologise its the vile scum that as bought this about and if JC as a back bone he should stand with him Ken or as the Zionists got the real control of the party and Tom Watson was his visit to Israel to get his orders for when he takes over the party

    1. Shaya Grosskopf

      Yep, the word’s that came out of Ken’s man are all the fault of the “vile scum” Blairites Zionist Conspiracy.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Okay, you’re getting boring now.
        Unless your further comments on this subject include actual references to real evidence, I’m trashing them.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The first article is written by an American right-wing Holocaust denier, so I’m not convinced it should be taken as Gospel.

  5. Sven Wraight

    Since when to we believe the Guardian? I read the article and saw the video and the closest Mr Livingstone got to something controversial was to say there was “real collaboration.” This was a suspiciously short quote in a hatchet job of a video.
    Ken has consistently told the truth and has demonstrated he’s better informed than his critics, who are far right. They are trying to get him expelled before he launches a legal action against them. From the rabid right’s viewpoint, this must seem like a good idea as the first accusations against KL got him removed from the NEC and suspended for a year for no good reason, so obviously they’re trying the same nonsense again.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I was going to say much the same about the Graun‘s believability but in the end left it to saying that the comments were as quoted in that particular rag.
      If anyone can demonstrate that Mr Livingstone was misquoted, I’ll be delighted to publish that evidence.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It’s by a right-wing Holocaust denier and therefore easy for Mr Livingstone’s opponents to discredit.

  6. Shaya Grosskopf

    Or maybe… just maybe…. Ken Livingstone is wrong. Hitler wasn’t so friendly with the Zionists. Which would hardly be surprising. Because he exterminated 6 million Jews.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Hitler wasn’t friendly with Zionists at all. He hated them, as he hated all Jews. Ken Livingstone made that very clear in his comments.
      Sorry if that simple and obvious piece of information interferes with your worldview.

      1. Shaya Grosskopf

        No, Ken did not make it clear in his initial views, that, at the time, before “he went mad” that Hitler was maniacally opposed to Jews

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        You are mistaken. There is filmed evidence of it.
        This is typical of the attitude of those who would see Ken Livingstone disgraced – cavalier disregard for the facts.
        It is also why I trash most of your comments.

  7. Shaya Grosskopf

    “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.”

    Then why did he say them in the first place?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      He has not been found to be mistaken in any of his claims yet.
      I think he’s mistaken in some of his latest comments, based on information that has come to me. I have asked for more information but all I’ve had so far is a lot of nonsense from a troll calling itself Shaya Grosskopf.

      1. Shaya Grosskopf

        “He has not been found to be mistaken in any of his claims yet.” is inconsistent with “I think he’s mistaken in some of his latest comments”

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Nobody has proved him wrong in a court situation, so he has not been found to be mistaken in any way that is binding.
        I do think he’s mistaken in some of his latest comments, though.

      3. Shaya Grosskopf

        Do you agree that if it is legitimate to say that “Hitler supported Zionism”, it is also fair to say that the late Nicholas Winterton, who ran the kindertransport, supported Hitler (as he helped remove Jews from German occupied lands), and that Nick Griffin and David Irving, both notorious antisemites, supported Ken Livingstone (both have made public statements of support). And the red cross supported the SS because they facilitated the provision of care packages to PoWs, rather like the Ha’avara agreement, which allowed German refugees to take *their own money* to Israel?

        Would the world not be better if we didn’t use ambiguous and deliberately provocative language?

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        Those are all separate issues that would have to be examined in their own right. Regarding the statements of support you allege from Nick Griffin and David Irving (I haven’t seen them), you are trying to confuse two different definitions of “support”. Hitler’s government gave material assistance to Zionism as its side of the Haavara agreement. Nick Griffin and David Irving haven’t given any material assistance to Ken Livingstone – they have merely indicated their approval. The difference is that Mr Livingstone is unlikely to have solicited that approval, nor is he likely to have welcomed it when it came, whereas the support provided by the Nazi government was vital to the success of the Zionist plan.
        Yes, the world would be better if YOU didn’t use ambiguous and deliberately provocative language.
        Now that I have pointed out what you are doing, please stop.

    1. Shaya Grosskopf

      It certainly is comprehensive, and in my view, a detailed and perfectly fair and defensible view of history. There’s nothing there to support the bald assertion that “Hitler was a supporter of Zionism.” A much moire nuanced “elements within the Zionist movement and Nazi movement sought limited common cause on facilitating emigration” would be accurate.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Your nuanced version isn’t accurate. The fact is that German Zionism approached the Nazi Government with a plan to move German Jews out of the country, and the Nazis supported it with the facilities that made it possible.

  8. autismandate

    This is so much a contrived plot it’s disgusting. Especially when ”people are dying on dead end street”.
    There is such a desperate cry for help by the disabled and poor which is being completely ignored or just given lip service. It’s sheer wicked hypocrisy by those feigning righteousness in this Machiavellian conniving against Corbyn.
    Obviously the Jews, including my cousin, represent one of the largest gene pools of intelligence in the World and are quite capable of expressing their own indignation if they thought that in Ken Livingstone there was a threat to humanity. But there is a real threat to humanity in the vile hypocrisy of the State persecution of Autistic and learning disabilities and disabled of this Country and by those expressing hostility and indignation against Ken Livingstone.
    I find it really annoying that these are the same people that turn a blind eye to disabilities and who vote to cut welfare and social care funding. These hypocrites’ feigning indignation, show no compassion or concern at all, for all those people suffering and dying in assessment and treatment units. Let’s see some of that indignation being expressed about the hypocrisy by those that are completely silent over the evil treatment of the disabled in this country.
    There is anti-Semitism and there is anti-disabilityism. The same indignation and offense could be actively expressed on behalf of the disabilities community who do not have the same humanitarian leverage on UK politicians as the Jewish community. We mustn’t offend, whatever that means, the Jewish community but we can offend, which means persecute and unexplained deaths, the disabled community. So does anyone know why there is a holocaust remembrance day. Well it’s obvious no one knows , because we are living through a re-run of State sponsored persecution of people with disabilities.

    1. Shaya Grosskopf

      Here’s a hint. If you want people to focus on austerity and issues which matter to people stop talking about Hitler being a supporter of Zionism.

  9. suefewuk

    Hannah Arendt’s book on the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem includes the following:

    For “it is indisputable that during the first stages of their Jewish policy the National Socialists thought it proper to adopt a pro-Zionist attitude” (Hans Lamm), and it was during these first stages that Eichmann learned his lessons about Jews. He was by no means alone in taking this “pro-Zionism” seriously; the German Jews themselves thought it would be sufficient to undo “assimilation” through a new process of “dissimilation,” and flocked into the ranks of the Zionist movement. (There are no reliable statistics on this development, but it is estimated that the circulation of the Zionist weekly Die Jüdische Rundschau increased in the first months of the Hitler regime from approximately five to seven thousand to nearly forty thousand, and it is known that the Zionist fund-raising organizations received in 1935-36, from a greatly diminished and impoverished population, three times as much as in 1931-32.) This did not necessarily mean that the Jews wished to emigrate to Palestine; it was more a matter of pride: “Wear it with Pride, the Yellow Star!,” the most popular slogan of these years, coined by Robert Weltsch, editor-in-chief of the Jüdische Rundschau, expressed the general emotional atmosphere. The polemical point of the slogan, formulated as a response to Boycott Day, April 1, 1933 – more than six years before the Nazis actually forced the Jews to wear a badge, a six- pointed yellow star on a white ground – was directed against the “assimilationists” and all those people who refused to be reconciled to the new “revolutionary development,” those who “were always behind the times” (die ewig Gestrigen). The slogan was recalled at the trial, with a good deal of emotion, by witnesses from Germany. They forgot to mention that Robert Weltsch himself, a highly distinguished journalist, had said in recent years that he would never have issued his slogan if he had been able to foresee developments.

    But quite apart from all slogans and ideological quarrels, it was in those years a fact of everyday life that only Zionists had any chance of negotiating with the German authorities, for the simple reason that their chief Jewish adversary, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, to which ninety-five per cent of organized Jews in Germany then belonged, specified in its bylaws that its chief task was the “fight against anti-Semitism”; it had suddenly become by definition an organization “hostile to the State,” and would indeed have been persecuted – which it was not – if it had ever dared to do what it was supposed to do. During its first few years, Hitler’s rise to power appeared to the Zionists chiefly as “the decisive defeat of assimilationism.” Hence, the Zionists could, for a time, at least, engage in a certain amount of non-criminal cooperation with the Nazi authorities; the Zionists too believed that “dissimilation,” combined with the emigration to Palestine of Jewish youngsters and, they hoped, Jewish capitalists, could be a “mutually fair solution.” At the time, many German officials held this opinion, and this kind of talk seems to have been quite common up to the end. A letter from a survivor of Theresienstadt, a German Jew, relates that all leading positions in the Nazi-appointed Reichsvereinigung were held by Zionists (whereas the authentically Jewish Reichsvertretung had been composed of both Zionists and non-Zionists), because Zionists, according to the Nazis, were “the `decent’ Jews since they too thought in `national’ terms.”

    To be sure, no prominent Nazi ever spoke publicly in this vein; from beginning to end, Nazi propaganda was fiercely, unequivocally, uncompromisingly anti-Semitic, and eventually nothing counted but what people who were still without experience in the mysteries of totalitarian government dismissed as “mere propaganda.” There existed in those first years a mutually highly satisfactory agreement between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish Agency for Palestine – a Ha’avarah, or Transfer Agreement, which provided that an emigrant to Palestine could transfer his money there in German goods and exchange them for pounds upon arrival. It was soon the only legal way for a Jew to take his money with him (the alternative then being the establishment of a blocked account, which could be liquidated abroad only at a loss of between fifty and ninety-five per cent). The result was that in the thirties, when American Jewry took great pains to organize a boycott of German merchandise, Palestine, of all places, was swamped with all kinds of goods “made in Germany.”

    Of greater importance for Eichmann were the emissaries from Palestine, who would approach the Gestapo and the S.S. on their own initiative, without taking orders from either the German Zionists or the Jewish Agency for Palestine. They came in order to enlist help for the illegal immigration of Jews into British-ruled Palestine, and both the Gestapo and the S.S. were helpful. They negotiated with Eichmann in Vienna, and they reported that he was “polite,” “not the shouting type,” and that he even provided them with farms and facilities for setting up vocational training camps for prospective immigrants. (“On one occasion, he expelled a group of nuns from a convent to provide a training farm for young Jews,” and on another “a special train [was made available] and Nazi officials accompanied” a group of emigrants, ostensibly headed for Zionist training farms in Yugoslavia, to see them safely across the border.)

    According to the story told by Jon and David Kimche, with “the full and generous cooperation of all the chief actors” (The Secret Roads: The “Illegal” Migration of a People, 1938-1948, London, 1954), these Jews from Palestine spoke a language not totally different from that of Eichmann. They had been sent to Europe by the communal settlements in Palestine, and they were not interested in rescue operations: “That was not their job.”

    They wanted to select “suitable material,” and their chief enemy, prior to the extermination program, was not those who made life impossible for Jews in the old countries, Germany or Austria, but those who barred access to the new homeland; that enemy was definitely Britain, not Germany.

    Indeed, they were in a position to deal with the Nazi authorities on a footing amounting to equality, which native Jews were not, since they enjoyed the protection of the mandatory power; they were probably among the first Jews to talk openly about mutual interests and were certainly the first to be given permission “to pick young Jewish pioneers” from among the Jews in the concentration camps. Of course, they were unaware of the sinister implications of this deal, which still lay in the future; but they too somehow believed that if it was a question of selecting Jews for survival, the Jews should do the selecting themselves.

    It was this fundamental error in judgment that eventually led to a situation in which the non-selected majority of Jews inevitably found themselves confronted with two enemies – the Nazi authorities and the Jewish authorities. As far as the Viennese episode is concerned, Eichmann’s preposterous claim to have saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives, which was laughed out of court, finds strange support in the considered judgment of the Jewish historians, the Kimches: “Thus what must have been one of the most paradoxical episodes of the entire period of the Nazi regime began: the man who was to go down in history as one of the arch-murderers of the Jewish people entered the lists as an active worker in the rescue of Jews from Europe.”

    Eichmann’s trouble was that he remembered none of the facts that might have supported, however faintly, his incredible story, while the learned counsel for the defense probably did not even know that there was anything to remember. (Dr. Servatius could have called as witnesses for the defense the former agents of Aliyah Beth, as the organization for illegal immigration into Palestine was called; they certainly still remembered Eichmann, and they were now living in Israel.) Eichmann’s memory functioned only in respect to things that had had a direct bearing upon his career. Thus, he remembered a visit he had received in Berlin from a Palestinian functionary who told him about life in the collective settlements, and whom he had twice taken out to dinner, because this visit ended with a formal invitation to Palestine, where the Jews would show him the country. He was delighted; no other Nazi official had been able to go “to a distant foreign land,” and he received permission to make the trip. The judgment concluded that he had been sent “on an espionage mission,” which no doubt was true, but this did not contradict the story Eichmann had told the police. (Practically nothing came of the enterprise. Eichmann, together with a journalist from his office, a certain Herbert Hagen, had just enough time to climb Mount Carmel in Haifa before the British authorities deported both of them to Egypt and denied them entry permits for Palestine; according to Eichmann, “the man from the Haganah” – the Jewish military organization which became the nucleus of the Israeli Army – came to see them in Cairo, and what he told them there became the subject of a “thoroughly negative report” Eichmann and Hagen were ordered by their superiors to write for propaganda purposes; this was duly published.)

    Eichmann remembered only moods and the catch phrases he made up to go with them; the trip to Egypt had been in 1937, prior to his activity in Vienna, and from Vienna he remembered no more than the general atmosphere and how “elated” he had felt. In view of his astounding virtuosity in never discarding a mood and its catch phrase once and for all when they became incompatible with a new era, which required different moods and different “elating” phrases – a virtuosity that he demonstrated over and over during the police examination – one is tempted to believe in his sincerity when he spoke of the time in Vienna as an idyll.

    Because of the complete lack of consistency in his thoughts and sentiments, this sincerity is not even undermined by the fact that his year in Vienna, from the spring of 1938 to March, 1939, came at a time when the Nazi regime had abandoned its pro-Zionist attitude.

    It was in the nature of the Nazi movement that it kept moving, became more radical with each passing month, but one of the outstanding characteristics of its members was that psychologically they tended to be always one step behind the movement – that they had the greatest difficulty in keeping up with it, or, as Hitler used to phrase it, that they could not “jump over their own shadow.”

    Hope it helps.

  10. William massey

    This is a big mistake by the Labour Party. You are allowing the pseudo conservative Blairites to take control again. All this nonentity is to discredit Mr Corbyn. It’s them that should be got rid of not true labour members.

  11. Paul

    The truth of the matter is that if Ken Livingstone had said that he believed the things he said and still believes them but was sorry for any offence, insult or unintentional harm his outspokenness may have caused the matter would probably have been buried and forgotten by now. Trouble is that Ken being Ken he continues to argue the toss unapologetically which make this very unfortunate “more heat than light” affair drag on… and on… and on… to the great detriment of Labour and his own political reputation.

    A dash of contrition and apology, whether actually justified or not, would have put this to bed months ago and it is a pity that Livingstone doesn’t have the humility and good sense to have made this happen.

    As I said before everything and everybody has a season and old donkeys like Ken Livingstone and John Prescott should have left the political stage long ago and not have tried to make grabs at power and influence well beyond their sell by date.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You do know that Ken has said he is sorry for any unintentional offence he may have caused by accurately quoting historical fact?
      Yet the matter is not buried and forgotten. Is that because his detractors are trying to rewrite history, do you think?

Comments are closed.