In a very few days patriotic Americans and even more patriotic Italian-Americans will be celebrating an event that is supposed to have occurred back in the days of 1492. Every Columbus statue from the rock-ribbed coast of Maine to the actor-laden hills of Hollywood will have its queue of orators and cluster of wreaths. Columbus discovered America and there seems to be a universal conspiracy on foot never to let us forget it.
A few days ago another discovery was made that some day may make the Columbus adventure seem by comparison a paltry little trip across a quiet suburban street.
Herr Doktor Paul Joseph Goebbels, panjandrum of propaganda for the Third Reich, discovered Palestine.
The exact date on which the gabby one made his startling discovery is not certain. Some day it may offer a fertile field for historians and Ph.D. hunters to delve into. They will write long, arid theses explaining that they have uncovered absolute evidence that the daring young Nazi navigator, after ploughing through stormy, serpent-infested seas for many months on the stout ship Der Angriff, finally set foot on Palestine’s wild shores at exactly ten minutes after three o’clock, Arabian Standard Time, on the afternoon of September 26, 1934.
But the historians and the Ph.D. seekers will have only the slimmest of evidence on which to base their assertions. When pressed they will be forced to admit that the basis for their conclusion is that on that afternoon, at that very hour, the natives of Haifa were forced to flee for their lives. Records left by these natives explain the cause of the flight in the following quaint language:
“On ye afternoon of ye twenty-sixth day of September, along about ye tenth minute after ye third hour post meridian, just as ye worshippers were leaving ye sacred house of worship, our nostrils were assailed by a mighty, fetid odor that was wafted to us from ye ocean. It was such an overpowering odor that ye worshippers made shift to drop everything and run for ye dear life. Ye worshipers ran for miles until ye foul stench no longer assailed their mightily bruised nostrils and then dropped exhausted upon ye soothing sands of ye desert.”
Now that’s pretty strong evidence as far as the sense of smell is concerned, but only the most rabid anti-Nazis will contend that it is conclusive proof that the stout ship Der Angriff had landed and disgorged its fearless explorers on the sands of Haifa’s shore.
But who are we to quibble about dates? The all-important facts are undisputed by anyone in his right senses. Goebbels, if not the mighty shrimp in person then, as our private J.T.A. historian has informed us, one of the star reporters of his newspaper Der Angriff, landed in Palestine not long ago and wrote a glowing account of his trip of discovery.
The natives, he found, referring to the Jewish population, were doing a pretty good job of work at building up Palestine.
But the star reporter – explorer wasn’t going to be panicked into pouring out a panegyric on Palestine all at one throw. So he threw in a couple of sly Nazi potshots just to show the boss that he hadn’t been entirely overcome by the Holy Land’s beauty.
Tel Aviv, he discovered, wasn’t such a garden spot. In fact the cafes crowded with ladies reminded him strongly of the Kurfuerstendam, the principal Jewish street in Berlin. Moreover, Jewish education in all Palestine, he somewhat pointedly remarked in Der Angriff’s story of the astounding discovery junket, resembles the educational system of the Soviets.
And to top it all off, the daring Nazi Columbus found that Palestine is the hottest spot in the East, that the Jews and the British and the Arabs are sitting on a keg of dynamite, nitro – glycerine and T.N.T. that might at any moment go boom-boom-boom.
And maybe that’s why the Goebbels’ sailor man weighed anchor and scooted out of Palestine as fast as the trade winds could carry him.
But the very fact that Palestine is such a tinder-box may quite possibly appeal to the hardy pioneering spirit of the Nazis. Sitting on kegs of high explosives may appeal to their practical minds as not any worse than being purged.
Any day now we may expect to see the Mediterranean cluttered up with Nazi vessels bound for the untamed wilds of Palestine.
It wouldn’t surprise us in the least to see the ocean caravan led by the good ship Der Stuermer-Mayflower, with “Fatso” Julius Streicher at the helm. Our old friend Hanfstaengl is first mate. Between the two of them, Der Stuermer-Mayflower will have no trouble getting through the doldrums. When the vessel is becalmed, Hanfy and Fatso get behind the canvas, take deep breaths and start talking. The wind stirred up by their words speeds them to their destination faster than an honest ninety-mile gale. Eventually, they land on what will be known to posterity as Streicher’s Pilgrim’s Rock.
But our imagination strikes a snag when we try to look beyond that point. The Pilgrims of American history were greeted, if our memory isn’t playing tricks on us, with arrows that whizzed uncomfortably close to Pilgrim ears.
It wouldn’t do to have the Palestinian natives toss arrows at the Nazi pilgrims. They might escape the shower or if the arrows struck, they probably would simply crumble against the inordinately tough skulls of the invaders.
How would it be if the bold pilgrims were greeted with a barrage of the ritual murder issues of Der Stuermer, tossed by them by any army of Palestinian boy scouts? To survive such a barrage, Hanfy and Streicher and their plucky band would have to be mighty good dodgers.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.