This is the story of a human tragedy, a dramatic turn of events in the history of 2 nations and a hypothetical situation of particular interest to Historians of the Israelo-Palestinian conflict or Madagascar. It is the story of two nations that nothing seemed to connect and yet came very close to have their destiny forever intertwined.
[wiki] "The Madagascar Plan was a suggested policy of the Third Reich government of Nazi Germany to forcibly relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar".
The rampant antisemitism in the early century in Europe already floated the idea of expelling European Jews to Africa. The plan to deport jews to Madagascar gathered steam when France was vanquished in 1940. The plan was elaborated by Franz Rademacher, defended by Himmler and gained the support of Poland's Hans Frank, governor of occupied-Poland who did not want to manage what would become the Varsaw Ghetto yet and Hitler. Rademacher's plan was first formulated as such:
# Germany would be given the right to install military bases on Madagascar
# The 25,000 Europeans (mostly French) living on Madagascar would be removed
# Jewish emigration was to be forced, not voluntary
# The Jews on Madagascar would operate most local governmental functions but would be responsible to a German police governor
# The entire emigration and colonization of Madagascar would be paid by Jewish possessions confiscated by the Nazis"
In reality, 4 millions Jews were expected to be deported.
However, as the battle over Great-Britain and on the east front went on, the plan was put on hold temporarily.
On August 15 1940, Eichman drafted a document called "Reichssicherheitshauptamt: Madagaskar Projekt". However, the document laid on Heydich (his superior)'s desk, ignored and unapproved, therefore letting the Varsaw ghetto's construction be set in motion.
The events following the establishment of the Varsaw ghetto are tragically infamous. As the war proceeded, the systematic extermination of Jews know as the holocaust commenced.
It is probable that had the Madagascar plan been implemented, the holocaust might have proceeded in a different manner. The plan can definitely not be portrayed as an act of clemence by the Nazis, but one cannot help but wonder: "what if Heydich has approved the draft on August 1940 ?"
Assuming all things equal after this hypothetical signature, several scenarios are to be considered :
1) the Nazis would have send the initial 25,000 jews to Madagascar and put some in charge of the local government. The island was taken back from Germany by Great-Britain and the free forces only in 1942. By that time, 1.5 millions jews would have been moved to the island. (approx. 12% of the Malagasy population at the time)
2) Considering Britain and France's critical role in the creation of Israel in 1947, one would think that they would have let the local Jewish settlers in Madagascar the administration of the country.
3) The Malagasy population fought valiantly against the French occupation in 1947. It would be logical to assume that they would have done the same wherever the occupants were from. It would suggest that a similar conflict to the one in Palestine could have taken place in Madagascar. For how long, who knows ?
This is the point where I struggle to project this hypothetical situation. The Israelo-Palestinian conflict was always rendered more complex by the borders that Israel shares with other arab nations that support the Palestinians' claim. Madagascar,being an island, would not be in a similar situation.
Moreover, I believe the fact that the Jewish population would be forced to migrate to Madagascar would not carry the same adverse reaction from Malagasy people as a colonialist invasion. In my opinion, it is not too far-fetched to imagine a decade from 1940's to the 50's when Madagascar would have been a Jewish nation.
Another factor to consider is the size of the island. Madagascar is as big as France, Belgium and the Netherlands combined. An enclave of Israel surrounded by Malagasy land would seem like a viable option for both communities.
Granted all of the stuff I have just written is pure speculation and is solely for the purpose of intellectual musing from my rahter unique perspective on this story as a Malagasy; yet if you think of the "what-could-have-been", would that scenario be really that bad for all parties involved ? Let's review:
1) Part of the Jewish community would have escaped the holocaust.Reference:
2) They would not be perceived as ruthless colonialists because they would have been forced to migrate to Madagascar by the Nazis in the first place.
3) The bloodshed between France and Madagascar in 1947 might have been lessened by a Jewish mediation.
4) Considering the rapid development of Israel, maybe Madagascar would have benefited from a dynamic economic neigbhor.
5) The current Middle-East crisis would not be taking place, at least not in Palestine. There might be an Indian Ocean crisis; however looking back at the Malagasy history of conflicts (mostly a few and far in between), one cannot help but wonder what if Ribbentrop or Heydich had "greenlighted" the Madagaskar Projekt ....
the madagascar plan on history1900s
The plan by Rademacher at the Jewish virtual library