Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Undeclared Wars with Israel
East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967–1989


  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107461628

£ 23.00

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Undeclared Wars with Israel examines a spectrum of antagonism by the East German government and West German radical leftist organizations - ranging from hostile propaganda and diplomacy to military support for Israel's Arab armed adversaries - from 1967 to the end of the Cold War in 1989. This period encompasses the Six-Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and an ongoing campaign of terrorism waged by the Palestine Liberation Organization against Israeli civilians. This book provides new insights into the West German radicals who collaborated in 'actions' with Palestinian terrorist groups, and confirms that East Germany, along with others in the Soviet Bloc, had a much greater impact on the conflict in the Middle East than has been generally known. A historian who has written extensively on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Jeffrey Herf now offers a new chapter in this long, sad history.

    • Examines the connection of ideas and politics regarding these aspects of German antagonism to Israel
    • Draws very extensively on the important but under-examined files of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations
    • Readers will learn details about the extent of the terrorist campaigns waged against Israeli civilians
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'An excellent review of the growing hostility of the German left towards Israel during the last fifty years.' Walter Laqueur

    'A critical book at a critical moment. By examining the Cold War politics of the German left toward Israel, Jeffrey Herf unlocks the origins of contemporary global strategies aimed at Israel's delegitimization, as well as the fusion of anti-Zionism with antisemitism. A remarkable array of sources, from secret police and intelligence files to acrimonious UN debates, makes this book especially authoritative.' Norman J. W. Goda, author of Tales from Spandau: Nazi Criminals and the Cold War

    'Jeffrey Herf's Undeclared Wars with Israel greatly enhances our understanding of the shadowy proxy wars fought in the Cold War's closing decades. It commendably sheds new light on the communist bloc's efforts to covertly undermine Israel and diminish western influence in the Middle East. Herf systematically documents both the arms transfers and clandestine support given to an international terrorist campaign that unrelentingly targeted Israel but also de-stabilized the region and convulsed the globe.' Professor Bruce Hoffman, Director, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University, Washington DC

    'Jeffrey Herf's superb book recounts a deeply troubling episode of the Cold War. He shows how East Germany's Communist regime waged a prolonged, violent campaign against Israel, often with sinister anti-Semitic overtones. Unlike the democratic government in West Germany, which took many important steps to atone for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes, the East German Communists refused to accept any responsibility for the Holocaust and instead provided arms, training, and support to those who wanted to kill Jews and wipe Israel off the map.' Mark Kramer, Director, Cold War Studies, and Senior Fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'Voluminously documented, [Herf's] new study is the most comprehensive inventory yet of how much of what - treaties, speeches, editorials, state visits, General Assembly votes, military and technical training, academic exchanges, and even enumerated bullets - East Germany did to make Arab friends and influence Arab people. From the late 1960s to the memorable autumn of 1989, a parade of Arab leaders, military and technical delegations, scientists, and aspiring revolutionaries visited East Germany for acclaim, legitimacy, all possible instruments of both hard and soft power, and even access to the West via East Berlin. Meanwhile East Germany offered a home away from home to fugitive West German lefties.' David Schoenbaum, H-Diplo

    'This groundbreaking book demands to be read, for its advances a deeper understanding of the Cold War period and the Leftist war on Israel. If Germany is serious about grappling with its past, a German publisher will swiftly translate Herf's comprehensive study.' Benjamin Weinthal, The Weekly Standard

    'Jeffrey Herf shines a searchlight into dark episodes into Germany's troubled past.' Colin Shindler, The Jerusalem Post

    'Herf has mined numerous important archives and German-language materials … a landmark of scholarship on this understudied and tragic episode of German-Jewish relations.' Jeffrey Kopstein, Journal of Cold War Studies

    'Jeffrey Herf has produced not only a prodigiously researched indictment but also a timely reminder. As he writes at the very end of his book, although they have been defeated, the communists and radical leftists in Germany 'left behind a toxic ideological brew. Their distortions about the history of the state of Israel, their extensive use of terrorism, and their justifications for it have cast a long and destructive shadow over politics and political culture in the Middle East, in Germany, and around the world.' Allan Arkush, Jewish Review of Books

    'Herf has written an important study of a difficult and multidimensional chapter in the history of Germans and Jews, interweaving political and military history in East Germany, the rise and self-immolation of the New Left in the West, the vicissitudes of Arab and Palestinian terrorism, and the efforts of Jews, in Israel and in Germany, to survive.' Russell A. Berman, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

    'Herf has written a readable and informative study of the GDR's position toward Israel, which adds a new chapter to the research of the history of German-Israeli relations. It is based on a large corpus of primary sources and is methodologically well composed. Undeclared Wars with Israel will be a useful source for those studying German and Israeli history, the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the history of international relations, and the history of the European left.' Philipp Lenhard, H-Judaic

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107461628
    • length: 500 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 153 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. East Germany and the Six-Day War of June 1967
    3. An anti-Israel left emerges in West Germany: the conjuncture of June 1967
    4. Diplomatic breakthrough to military alliance: East Germany, the Arab states, and the PLO 1969–73
    5. Palestinian terrorism in 1972: Lod airport, the Munich Olympics, and responses
    6. Formalizing the East German alliance with the PLO and the Arab states:
    7. Political warfare at the United Nations during the Yom Kippur War of 1973
    8. 1974: Palestinian terrorist attacks on Kiryat Shmona and Maalot and responses in East Germany, West Germany, Israel, the United States, and the United Nations
    9. The UN 'Zionism is racism' revolution of November 10, 1975
    10. The Entebbe hijacking and 'selection' and the West German 'revolutionary cells'
    11. An alliance deepens: East Germany, the Arab states, and the PLO:
    12. Terrorism from Lebanon to Israel's 'operation peace for Galilee':
    13. Loyal friends in defeat:
    1983–9 and after
    14. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland, College Park
    Jeffrey Herf is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. His publications on modern German history include Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge, 1984); Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (1997), winner of the American Historical Association's George Lewis Beer Prize; The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (2006), winner of the National Jewish Book Award; Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (2009), winner of the bi-annual Sybil Halpern Milton Prize of the German Studies Association in 2011 for work on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He has also published essays and reviews on history and politics in Partisan Review, The New Republic, The Times of Israel, and The American Interest.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.