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Ken Livingstone claims Jews and Nazis 'collaborated' before the Second World War

Former Mayor of London makes claims in impromptu speech as he arrives for Labour Party disciplinary hearing

    Ken Livingstone has erroneously claimed there was “real collaboration” between Jews and Nazis before the the war as he opens his defence against claims he brought the Labour Party into disrepute.

    Arriving at his disciplinary hearing in London this morning, the former Mayor of London gave an impromptu speech to reporters.

    He claimed the “Zionist movement” asked the Nazis to stop rabbis giving sermons in Yiddish, and “make them do it in Hebrew” and that Hitler “agreed to that”.

    “They passed a law that said only the Zionist flag and the swastika could be flown in Germany – there was an awful lot,” Mr Livingstone claimed.

    “They [the Nazis] started selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army, so you had, right up to the start of the Second World War, real collaboration.

    “And when, in July 1937, many senior Nazis gathered at their foreign office, saying ‘we should stop sending Jews to Palestine because it could create a Jewish state’, in the middle of that meeting a directive comes specifically from Hitler saying ‘no, we will continue with this policy’.

    “Everyone who studied history just knows this.”

    Mr Livingstone is appearing before Labour’s National Constitution Committee to answer the charge that he engaged in conduct “grossly detrimental” to the party.

    In a series of radio and TV interviews following accusations of antisemitism against Labour MP Naz Shah last April, Mr Livingstone made repeated references to Hitler and Zionism. 

    He told Vanessa Feltz during a radio interview that Hitler had supported the establishment of a Jewish state in 1932 "before he went mad and murdered six million Jews”.

    Mr Livingstone cites support from five Jewish Labour members, including Diana Neslen, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Walter Wofgang, prominent members of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, in his defence.

    In his submission he says Hitler "had the effect of supporting" Zionism movement, referencing the 1933 "Transfer Agreement" which he claims was designed to allow German Jews emigrating to Palestine to retain some of the value of their property in Germany by purchasing German goods.

    "This agreement, between the Nazis and a section of Zionism, was not referred to in order to express hostility to Jewish people. The Transfer Agreement was a major political issue at the time as the Jewish movement to boycott German goods was a huge international campaign to turn public opinion against Nazi Germany."

    This morning, Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "Even when it has been made blatantly clear that his comments have caused deep hurt and offence to Jewish people, and in particular to Holocaust survivors, still Ken Livingstone has persisted down this route - repeatedly invoking the Holocaust, promoting a misleading and misinformed version of history to further his agenda.

    “Enough is enough." 

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