I had the privilege of meeting with Madagascar’s Ambassador to the United Nations this past week. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. It is a biodiversity haven and hotspot. Ninety percent of its wildlife is endemic. It has been in the news since an Israeli from Bnei Brak was imprisoned for trying to bring rare turtles back to Israel to delight his children. Both China and Russia have tried to gain a foothold in Madagascar since it is strategically situated in the Indian Ocean. It was annexed by France in 1897. It gained its independence in 1960.

However, very few know that the Nazis had a nefarious plan for Madagascar. The Nazis wanted to make all of Europe Judenrein. On March 5, 1938, SS Officer Adolf Eichmann was commissioned to put together a plan for Chief of Security Police Reinhard Heydrich: the resettlement of European Jews as a “foreign policy solution.” This was the “Madagascar Plan.” It was temporarily shelved until the Nazis took over France in 1940. As part of the “peace terms” with France, Germany was to control the French colony of Madagascar. This enabled the Madagascar Plan to re-surface.

Eichmann proposed that one million Jews would be deported annually for four years. The SS would make Madagascar a “police reserve” and a giant ghetto. As in all of the ghettos set up by the Nazis, the goal was to make conditions so deplorable and horrendous that most would die. Hitler approved the plan. In 1941, the American Jewish Committee caught wind of the Madagascar Plan and said the Jews would never be able to survive if the plan was implemented.

The Madagascar Plan was fully operational, but the British naval blockade and the Nazis’ loss of the Battle of Britain prevented its going into effect. However, the Madagascar Plan gave rise to the Wannsee Conference of 1942 and “the Final Solution,” which called for the extermination of the 11 million Jews of all of Europe.

Madagascar was not complicit in the plan that bears its name. It had nothing to do with it. Madagascar is now the home of more than 300 Jews. The Ambassador could not have been more accommodating and gracious. The Nazis wanted to turn the whole world into killing fields of Jews. The forces of Good overcame the forces of Evil. Madagascar happened to be caught in the middle.

Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.