Irene Harand: One Woman’s Answer to Hitler

​One of the most despicable books in human history ever published is Mein Kampf. This is the story of Sein Kampf (His Struggle, An Answer to Hitler), and the woman who wrote it.

Portrait of Irene Harand beside the German title of "His Struggle"

In 1935, an obscure book was published in Austria titled Sein Kampf (His Struggle, an Answer to Hitler). The author, Irene Harand, went through Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) and tore to shreds the book’s antisemitic claims, allegations, and ideology which swept through Germany and Austria from the time of its first publication in 1925.

Harand’s book, translated into English in 1937, is full of refutations of the antisemitic libels which Hitler used liberally in Mein Kampf. Harand rips into “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”:

The text of the Protocols from beginning to end is nothing but a mess of lies and forgeries.

Any reflective individual who reads the Protocols will see at first glance that they are criminal fantasies of the worst order, and that the Jews have had no possible connection with them. The Nazis cannot Produce one iota of evidence that they are authentic. (pg. 175.)

Page 175 from “His Struggle”

Harand also attacks the idea that Jews are without a culture of their own and infiltrate societies for the sake of their own self-preservation:

Hitler maintains that the Jews never possessed a culture of their own, but always borrowed their intellectual substance from other peoples.


These Hitlerian comments on cowardice, lack of idealism and self-sacrifice in the Jews are totally devoid of any truth. (pg. 118.)

Page 118 from “His Struggle”

Harand, a Catholic Austrian, had no qualms about bringing to the forefront the ways that Christianity itself drove antisemitic ideas – ideas that became entrenched outside of religion and into social bias regarding Jewish people. She deconstructed these ideas throughout her book Sein Kampf in clear and easy language, giving examples, and exposing the fabrications of stereotypes and lies.

Between 1933 and the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, Irene Harand worked tirelessly and endlessly against the antisemitic incitement that swept through Austria after Hitler’s rise to power. She became a thorn in the side of the Austrian Nazi party for her activism and efforts to denounce Nazism and antisemitism.

Part of Irene Harand’s activism included a lecture circuit that took her all over Europe. During the Anschluss she happened to be in England. It was then that she decided against returning to Austria and ultimately immigrated to the United States where she used her connections to provide visas for over 100 Austrian Jews, helping them escape from the hands of the Nazis.

In 1968 Yad Vashem recognized Irene Harand as Righteous Among the Nations.

This article was written with the help Dr. Stefan Litt of the Archives Department of the National Library.

Adolf Eichmann’s Secret Visit to Palestine

Years before Eichmann was brought to Israel to stand trial, the notorious mass-murderer visited Mandatory Palestine in 1937 while disguised as a journalist.

Eichmann at his trial. Photo: David Rubinger

In 1937, years before he became one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious mass-murderers, Adolf Eichmann visited Mandatory Palestine undercover as a German journalist. Eichmann’s second visit, twenty-four years later, was organized for him courtesy of the Israeli Mossad.

What was Eichmann hoping to find in Palestine before the start of the Second World War? Why was it important for him to see the Jewish yishuv with his own eyes? And the last and most frightening question of all: what conclusion did Eichmann draw from his visit? The answers to these questions are discussed below.

Eichmann reported from his visit to the Land of Israel: The creation of a Jewish State must be prevented“, a headline in Maariv, 28th of April, 1961

Long before the “Final Solution” was conceived at the Wannsee Conference, Hitler and the upper echelon of the Nazi regime had hoped to resolve the “Jewish problem” through forced emigration of the Jews living in Germany. Almost three years before the outbreak of World War II, in 1937, a nondescript German bureaucrat by the name of Adolf Eichmann was sent on a covert visit to Mandatory Palestine, together with his direct supervisor in the Nazi party’s intelligence service (the notorious SD), in order to explore the possibility of deporting Germany’s Jews to the region.

A clandestine meeting had taken place in Berlin between Eichmann and Feivel Polkes, an unofficial representative of the Haganah, one of the precursors of the Israel Defense Forces. They discussed the possibility of shipping off the persecuted Jews from Germany to Palestine. The Nazi officer wanted to see the Jewish community in Palestine for himself and to personally examine whether the plan was actually feasible.

On October 2nd, 1937 the Romania docked at the port of Haifa, carrying the two Nazi officials who travelled incognito, disguised as a German journalist and a student. Their application to properly enter the country was denied by the Mandatory authorities. It is not clear whether the two had been identified or whether their entry permits had aroused the suspicion of the customs officials. In any event, they were given a temporary entry permit for one night only. Disappointed by the failure of their mission, the two toured Haifa and spent the night on Mount Carmel. After the time they were allotted was up, they sailed for Egypt where they met with Mufti Amin al-Husseini and the representative of the Haganah.

I paid a British officer […] to evict Eichmann from Haifa“- Feivel Polkes took credit for Eichmann’s visit being cut short, Maariv, 21st of December, 1966

Even though the two Nazi representatives had been within the borders of Palestine for less than a day, Adolf Eichmann considered himself a qualified expert on the future of the state-in-the-making. In a detailed report to his superiors, Eichmann wrote that the economic situation of the Jewish settlement was dire, and it did not appear that it would improve any time soon. He did not tie the difficult situation to either geopolitical or material conditions but (as befitting a good Nazi) blamed it on the Jews’ devious and destructive nature – they had to settle for cheating each other as there were no Aryans around to cheat instead.

​Eichmann’s great fear was that the expulsion of the Jews from Germany would contribute in the future to the establishment of a stronger and prosperous Jewish entity that would rely on the great wealth which the deportees would bring with them to Palestine. Eichmann feared that over time, that same Jewish state would become a threat to Nazi Germany.

Eventually, the outbreak of the Arab revolt and the opposition of the regional Arab leadership to forced Jewish emigration put the kibosh on the plan. The fact that the British were working to limit Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, even stopping it completely with the start of the war, had not helped matters.

Following the crushing defeat of Nazi Germany, Eichmann, who by then had become one of the primary architects responsible for the Holocaust, was captured by US forces. With help from his old friends he was able to escape the POW camp under a false identity and make his way to Argentina. In 1960, the Mossad discovered his whereabouts, abducted him and brought him to the State of Israel to face justice. Following a long trial, he was convicted and sentenced to death. In the early morning hours of June 1st, 1962, he was executed by the Jewish State, whose establishment he had feared even before the war.


The Eichmann trial. Photo: David Rubinger


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Revealed: SS Chief Heinrich Himmler’s Warm Wishes to Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini

Discovered in the National Library archives, Himmler's message to the Mufti decried the "Jewish invaders", while sending “warm wishes for your continued struggle..."

The Mufti and Heinrich Himmler meeting in 1943. Photo: Albert Kurt

To the Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini,

The National-Socialist Movement of the Greater German Reich has since its inception upheld the fight against World Jewry.

It is for this reason that it closely follows the struggle of the freedom-seeking Arabs – and particularly in Palestine – against the Jewish invaders.

The common recognition of the enemy and the joint struggle against it is what creates the firm foundation between Germany and freedom-seeking Muslims around the world.

In this spirit, I am pleased to convey to you, on the anniversary of the execrable Balfour Declaration, warm wishes for your continued struggle until the great victory.

Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler

Telegram from Heinrich Himmler to Haj Amin al-Husseini. Click on the image to see this item in the National Library catalog.

 Haj Amin al-Husseini, Leader of the Arab World?

In 1937 the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine sought to arrest the Mufti due to his involvement in the Arab Uprising. In response, the Mufti fled the country to Lebanon, and from there to Iraq, where he stayed for some two years. In Iraq he joined a pro-Nazi group led by Rashid Ali al-Kaylani which rebelled against the monarchic regime and carried out a military coup in April of 1941, which lasted for only two months until British forces reached the outskirts of Baghdad. Kaylani and the Mufti fled through Iran to Italy and from there to Nazi Germany. The Mufti reached Berlin in November 1941.

The German Wehrmacht’s astonishing string of victories convinced the Mufti that he must secure a meeting with Adolph Hitler, the Fuhrer of the now enormous Nazi Reich. During the 90-minute meeting between Hitler and the Mufti, the latter strove to present himself not just as leader of the Palestinian national movement, but as a leader of the Arabs in general, and even as the representative of all Muslims.

Photo of the sole meeting between Adolph Hitler and Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. Photo: Heinrich Hoffmann

As a member of the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement, the Mufti believed in pan-Islamic unity and in the struggle to liberate Arab peoples from the yoke of colonial powers like Britain and France. In Germany he labored to obtain a declaration of Nazi support for the independence of Arab countries and support for the expulsion of Britain and France from the Middle East. He saw his fight against Zionism as one facet of his struggle against European colonialism, which also coincided with his personal virulent antisemitism – views he strove to disseminate during his years in Germany through Radio Berlin broadcasts in Arabic.

As part of his war against Zionism, the Mufti marked the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (Nov. 2nd) as a major annual day of protest because he realized that only through diplomatic recognition from the world’s powers could Zionism achieve its aim of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Out of deep fear that the ongoing annihilation of Jews in Europe would lead those who escaped to Palestine, the Mufti sought to receive assurances from the heads of the Nazi regime that no Jew would be sent there.

The above telegram, which was recently discovered in the archives of the National Library, and is apparently dated to 1943, includes a promise by Heinrich Himmler – one of the architects of the “final solution” – that “Nazi Germany will stand by the Arab people in Palestine in their struggle against the ‘miserable’ Balfour Declaration.

“In the end,” says historian Dr. Esther Webman of Tel Aviv University, “the Mufti failed to achieve most of his aims. Nazi Germany did not declare its support for the idea of Arab independence and the Nazi leadership merely used him to achieve its own goals. His attempts to foment rebellion by the Arabs of the Middle East against the colonial regimes during World War II were unsuccessful. His only meaningful achievement was to succeed in preventing a few cases of Jews departing Europe for Palestine during the war.”

Written with the kind assistance of Dr. Esther Webman, senior research fellow at the Dayan Center and head of the Zeev Vered Desk for the Study of Tolerance and Intolerance.


Rare Photos Taken Right After the Unification of Jerusalem

In the Six Day War of 1967, the entire city of Jerusalem came under Israel's control, including the Old City and the Western Wall. These pictures captured the emotions of the days which immediately followed...

Everyone – men, women and children, soliders and civilians, they all wanted to see the holiest of holy places with their own eyes. The photographers of the day understood the historical significance of the moment and made the most of it. They shot picture after picture, capturing and documenting the hundreds of thousands of visitors who traveled to the Western Wall. They also documented the clearing of the rubble that surrounded the Wall and the beginning of work on the plaza soon to be in place, which would mark the spot as a site of pilgrimage.

In those first few days following the war, the Jewish state’s leaders arrived to pray at the Wall, among them President Zalman Shazar who insisted on going to Jerusalem before the war was over and even donned a helmet. David Ben-Gurion arrived at the Wall the day after the war was declared over.

The photographs in the album were taken by the IPPA agency, founded by photographer Dan Hadani.  The Dan Hadani Collection, which documents the life and times of the State of Israel, as well as Israeli society and culture in the twentieth century, includes approximately one million historic photographs. It was acquired by the National Library of Israelin September, 2016.