Leopold von Mildenstein
Leopold Itz, Edler von Mildenstein (born 30 November 1902, living 1964) was a German writer and SS officer of the 1930s and 1940s who is remembered as a leader of the National socialist Party's support during the 1930s for the aims of Zionism. As a writer, he sometimes used the pen name LIM, his initials. He is sometimes styled in English "Baron", although strictly his rank of Edler, which means "nobleman", has no exact English language equivalent.
After the Second World War he continued to live in West Germany, where he joined the Free Democratic (or Liberal) Party and was elected to its Press Committee. In 1956 he went to Egypt to work for a radio station, and after the capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1960, he claimed immunity as an intelligence agent of the U. S. Central Intelligence Agency, a claim which was neither confirmed nor denied. Nothing was heard of him after 1964, when he published a book on cocktails.
Born in 1902 in Prague, then part of Austria-Hungary, Mildenstein belonged to the lowest tier of the Austrian nobility and was brought up as a Roman Catholic. He trained as an engineer and joined the National socialist Party in 1929, receiving the membership number 106,678. In 1932 he joined the SS, becoming one of the first Austrians to do so. According to his former SS colleague Dieter Wisliceny, from the First World War until 1935 Mildenstein visited the Middle East, including Palestine, several times.
Mildenstein had taken an early interest in Zionism, even going so far as to attend Zionist conferences to help deepen his understanding of the movement. He actively promoted Zionism as a way out of the official impasse on the Jewish question: as a way of making Germany judenrein (free of Jews). The Zionists, whose movement had grown tremendously in popularity among German Jews since Hitler came to power, were keen to co-operate. On 7 April 1933, the Juedische Rundschau, the bi-weekly paper of the movement, declared that of all Jewish groups only the Zionist Federation of Germany was capable of approaching the National socialists in good faith as 'honest partners'. The Federation then commissioned Kurt Tuchler to make contact with possible Zionist sympathisers within the National socialist Party, with the aim of easing emigration to Palestine, and Tuchler approached Mildenstein, who was asked to write something positive about Jewish Palestine in the National socialist press. Mildenstein agreed, on condition that he be allowed to visit the country in person, with Tuchler as his guide. So, in the spring of 1933 an odd little party of four set out from Berlin, consisting of Mildenstein, Tuchler and their wives. They spent a month together in Palestine, Mildenstein himself remaining for a total of six months before his return to Germany as an enthusiast for Zionism. He even began to study Hebrew.
On his return, Mildenstein's suggestion that the solution to the Jewish problem lay in mass migration to Palestine was accepted by his superiors within the SS. From August 1934 to June 1936 Mildenstein was put in charge of the Jewish Desk with the title of Judenreferent in the headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Security service of the SS, Section II/112, his title meaning that he was responsible for reporting on "Jewish Affairs", under the overall command of Reinhard Heydrich. During those years Mildenstein favoured a policy of encouraging Germany's Jewish population to emigrate to Palestine, and in pursuit of this policy he developed positive contacts with Zionist organizations. SS officials were even instructed to encourage the activities of the Zionists within the Jewish community, who were to be favoured over the 'assimilationists', said to be the real danger to National Socialism. Even the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 had a special Zionist 'provision', allowing the Jews to fly their own flag.
Adolf Eichmann, later one of the most significant organizers of the Holocaust, believed that his "big break" came in 1934, when he had a meeting with Mildenstein, a fellow-Austrian, in the Wilhelmstrasse and was invited to join Mildenstein's department. Eichmann later stated that Mildenstein rejected the vulgar anti-semitism of Streicher and that soon after his arrival in the section he had been given by Mildenstein a book on Judaism by Adolf Boehm, a leading Jew from Vienna.
Between 9 September and 9 October 1934 the National socialist Party Berlin newspaper Der Angriff, founded and controlled by Joseph Goebbels, published a series of twelve pro-Zionist articles by Mildenstein under the title A National Socialist Goes to Palestine. In honour of his visit, the newspaper issued a commemorative medal, with the swastika on one side and the Star of David on the other.
In the summer of 1935, then holding the rank of SS-Untersturmführer, Mildenstein attended the 19th Congress of the Zionist Organization in Lucerne, Switzerland, as an observer attached to the German Jewish delegation. Mildenstein's apparently less extreme anti-Jewish line was overtaken by events, and after a dispute with Reinhard Heydrich in 1936 he was removed from his post and transferred to the Foreign Ministry's press department. He had fallen out of favour because migration to Palestine was not proceeding at a fast enough rate. His departure from the SD also saw a shift in SS policy, marked by the publication of a pamphlet warning of the dangers of a strong Jewish state in the Middle East, written by another 'expert' on Jewish matters who had been invited to join Section II/112 by Mildenstein himself, Eichmann. Mildenstein was replaced as the head of his former Section by Kuno Schroeder. Later, in December 1939, Eichmann was made head of the Jewish Department Referat IV B4 of the RSHA, of which the SD became a part in September, 1939.
As Germany moved into the Second World War, Mildenstein continued to write propaganda articles and books. After the war, his 'Around the Burning Land of the Jordan' (1938) and 'The Middle East Seen from the Roadside' (1941) were placed on the list of proscribed literature in the Soviet occupation zone and later in the German Democratic Republic.
Like the Haavara Agreement, Mildenstein's 1933 visit to Palestine and the medal to commemorate it were later sometimes used by anti-Israel authors to argue that there was a relationship between National socialism and Zionism.
Mildenstein visited the United States in 1954, having apparently been granted a visa to do so at the request of the government of West Germany. In January 1956, he asked the U. S. Embassy in Bonn to help him to obtain an exchange grant for journalists, although he was not one. By then a member of the Free Democratic Party, in May 1956 he was elected to its Press Committee. In December 1956, a CIA report from Cairo confirmed that he had been employed by the Egyptian government of Gamal Abdul Nasser to work for its Voice of the Arabs radio station. In June 1960, soon after the capture of Eichmann by Mossad agents in Buenos Aires on 11 May 1960, Mildenstein announced that he had had an operational relationship with the CIA and as a former U. S. intelligence agent claimed immunity from prosecution. This relationship was neither confirmed nor denied by the CIA.
Mildenstein was apparently still living in 1964, when he published a new book on the mixing of cocktails, including some non-alcoholic ones, but after that no more was heard of him, and the date of his death is unknown.
In 1980, History Today, in publishing an article by Jacob Boas about Mildenstein and Tuchler's visit to Palestine in 1933, used an image of the Angriff commemorative medal in its publicity, which led to strong protests from Zionists and others who were outraged by the suggestion that Zionist leaders had collaborated with the National socialists.
In 2011, Israeli director and grandson of the Tuchlers Arnon Goldfinger produced the film The Flat, in which Mildenstein's friendship with his grandparents is discussed at length. In the film, Goldfinger showed that his grandparents kept in touch with the Mildensteins after the war. He interviewed Mildenstein's daughter, and details of Mildenstein's life are revealed.
- Glossary of National socialist Germany
- List of National socialist Party leaders and officials
- List of SS personnel
- Jacob Boas, 'Baron von Mildenstein and the SS support for Zionism in Germany, 1934-1936' in History Today, January 1980
- Jacob Boas, 'A National socialist Travels to Palestine', in History Today, vol. 30, issue 1, pp. 33-38
- Magnus Brechtken: 'Madagaskar für die Juden: Antisemitische Idee und politische Praxis 1883-1945' ("Madagascar for the Jews: anti-Semitic ideas and political practice, 1883-1945") (Munich, 1998), p. 171 onwards
- Saul Friedländer, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden ("The Third Reich and the Jews") (Bonn, 2006), p. 77
- Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York: Owl Books, 1994; German edition, Hamburg, 1995)
- H. G. Adler, The Jews in Germany (1969)
- Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (1970)
- Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews (1975)
- G. L. Mosse, German and Jew (1970)
- Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (London: Croom Helm Ltd., 1983)
- Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the National socialists (2002) — includes the full text of one of Mildenstein's articles for Der Angriff
- Jacob Boas, 'A National socialist Travels to Palestine', in History Today, Vol. 30, Issue 1 (1980), pp. 33-38
- Bruckner, Pascal & Rendall, Steven, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (2010), p. 68
- Yad Vashem studies, vol. 37, part 1, p. 134
- Brenner, Lenni, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, (1983), p. 45, online edition at marxists.de, accessed 27 March 2011
- Williams, Max. Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography: Volume 1 (2001), p 61.
- Anna Porter, Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust (2008), p. 94: "His first big break, as he saw it later, presented itself in 1934, when he was told to report to Second Lieutenant Leopold von Mildenstein at 102 Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin. Von Mildenstein ran the SD "Jews Section", or Section II/112. A fellow Austrian with an easy manner, von Mildenstein took an interest in teaching Eichmann the basics of his department."
- Padfield, Peter, Himmler. Reichsführer-SS, Cassel & Co, London, (1990, 2001), p. 198
- Klarsfeld, Serge & Billig, Joseph & Wellers, Georges, The Holocaust and the Neo-National socialist Mythomania (1978), p. 12
- Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich & the Palestine Question (2000), p. 61
- Padfield, Peter, Himmler. Reichsführer-SS (1990, 2001), pp. 198, 199, 275
- Yaacov Lozowick, Hitler's Bureaucrats: the National socialist Security Police and the Banality of Evil (2005), p. 20
- Padfield, Peter, Himmler. Reichsführer-SS (1990, 2001), p. 334
- Lumsden, Robin, A Collector's Guide To: The Allgemeine – SS (2001), pp. 83-84
- Stollberg, Berlin, 1938
- Union, Stuttgart, 1941
- Breitman, Richard, U. S. Intelligence and the National socialists, pp. 342-343
- Mix mit und ohne Alkohol (Munich: Copress-Verlag, 1964, 93 pp., illustrated by Walter Tafelmaier), reviewed in Libreria svizzera, volume 22 (1964), p. 700: "Leopold von Mildenstein: MIX MIT UND OHNE ALKOHOL, 96 Seiten mit vielen farbigen Illustrationen Mehrfarbiger animierter Einband."
- Charlie Pottins, A coin with two sides dated May 4, 2007, accessed 25 March 2011
- Eyelet Dekel, The Flat by Arnon Goldfinger at midnighteast.com
- Lenni Brenner, A National socialist Travels to Palestine and Tells About It in The Assault, article dated 3 May 2007 at ucc.ie, accessed 30 March 2011