Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.
HAAVARA, a company for the transfer of Jewish property from Nazi Germany to Palestine. The Trust and Transfer Office Haavara Ltd., was established in Tel Aviv, following an agreement with the German government in August 1933, to facilitate the emigration of Jews to Palestine by allowing the transfer of their capital in the form of German export goods. The Haavara Agreement is an instance where the question of Jewish rights, Zionist needs and individual rescue were in deep tension. Jewish organizations outside of Germany had declared a boycott against German goods and hoped to delegitimate the Nazi regime. The Zionists saw this agreement as a way of attracting Jews to Palestine and thus rescuing them from the Nazi universe even if that meant cooperation with Hitler. For a time the Nazi program of making Germany Judenrein and the Zionist policy of seeking olim coincided. The amounts to be transferred were paid by prospective emigrants into the account of a Jewish trust company (PALTREU – Palestina Treuhandstelle zur Beratung deutscher Juden) in Germany and used for the purchase of goods, which the Haavara then sold in Palestine. The proceeds, in Palestine currency, were paid to the emigrants living in Palestine. The rate of exchange was adjusted from time to time by the Haavara according to the disagio, necessitated by the subsidy which the Haavara granted the Palestinian importers, to make up for the steadily deteriorating value of the Reich mark, so the German goods could compete with other imports. The ensuing disagio, borne by the emigrants, accordingly increased from 6% in 1934 to 50% in 1938. The major part of the transfer proceeds provided the 1,000 Palestine Pounds (then $4,990) necessary for a “capitalist” immigration certificate of the Mandatory administration, but also for other categories of immigration, such as Youth Aliyah, students, and artisans as well as for the transfer of public funds. The transfer weakened the boycott of German goods declared by many Jewish organizations around the world, and thus met with considerable opposition. The controversy was settled at the Zionist Congress in Lucerne (1935) which decided by a vast majority in favor of the transfer and placed the Haavara under the supervision of the *Jewish Agency . The Zionists sought to attract immigrants to Palestine, most especially the affluent German Jewish immigrants and the Germans sought to get rid of their Jews, increase their exports and a propaganda victory by dividing the Jews regarding the boycott. The Haavara continued to function until World War II, in spite of vigorous attempts by the Nazi Party to stop or curtail its activities. The total transfer amounted to LP 8,100,000 (Palestine Pounds; then $40,419,000) including LP 2,600,000 (then $13,774,000) provided by the German Reichsbank in coordination with Haavara. The Haavara transfer was a major factor in making possible the immigration of approximately 60,000 German Jews to Palestine in the years 1933–1939, and together with the money invested by the immigrants themselves, in providing an incentive for the expansion of agricultural settlement and for general economic development. It also served as a model for a similar arrangement with the Czech government and the immigration of several thousand Jews on the eve of World War II.
E. Marcus, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 2 (1958), 179–204; S. Esh. in: Am Yisrael be-Dorenu (1964), 330–43; L. Pinner, in: In zwei Welten (1962), 133–66. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Black, The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact between Nazi Germany and Jewish Palestine (2001).