New Research Sheds Light on Nazi Influence in Arab World

April 30, 2013 1:22 am 12 comments

Haj Amin el-Husseini, better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, with Nazi SS officers in November 1943. Photo: German Federal Archives.

Nazi Germany’s effort to recruit supporters in the Arab world is attracting new attention among scholars.

With the 70th anniversary of a Palestinian Arab leader’s sabotage of a plan to rescue Jewish children from Europe coming up next month, Israeli scholar Edy Cohen spoke exclusively to JNS.org about his current research on the role of Nazi and Axis propaganda in the Middle East. Cohen, 41, is on the staff of the Israel State Archives.

During the Holocaust years, Haj Amin el-Husseini, better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, lived in Berlin, where he recorded pro-Nazi radio broadcasts that were beamed to the Arab world and recruited Bosnian Muslims to join an all-Muslim unit of the SS. Seventy years ago, on May 13, 1943, Husseini caught wind of a plan to permit 4,000 Jewish children, accompanied by 500 adults, to travel to Palestine in exchange for the release of 20,000 German prisoners of war. Both the Germans and the British had agreed to the exchange, but the Germans backed down when the Mufti objected.

The Mufti was the most prominent Arab figure to support the Nazis, but he was not alone. “My research tracks the effort by the Germans, Italians, and Japanese to spread their propaganda and influence in Palestine and various Arab countries,” said Dr. Cohen, who was born and raised in Beirut and immigrated to Israel in 1995. “They worked hard at it and, to a significant extent, they succeeded.” Cohen has been combing through Arabic-language Nazi and Axis leaflets and radio broadcasts that were collected and analyzed by Haganah intelligence in the 1930s and 1940s.

Some of the leaflets found by Cohen feature stark headlines such as “Kill the Jews and the British!” Some were printed on the back of facsimile British pounds or American dollars, so that when they were dropped by German planes over Arab regions of Palestine, they looked like money and immediately attracted attention.

Haj Amin el-Husseini, better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Photo: American Colony (Jerusalem), Photo Dept., photographer.

According to Cohen, some of the Arabic-language Nazi propaganda promised that those who attacked Jews would be rewarded by being given “the most beautiful of the Jewish girls” after Palestine’s Jewish community was vanquished. “That sort of language makes one think of the promise that Muslim terrorist leaders today sometimes offer—that those who die while killing Jews will receive seventy virgins in heaven,” Cohen said.

The text of the leaflets and broadcasts were composed by Nazi authors, and then translated into Arabic by members of the Mufti’s entourage in Berlin. Some of the Mufti’s men in Germany were more than writers: several parachuted into Palestine in 1944 with vials of poison that they intended to dump in the Tel Aviv water system. They were intercepted by the British police before they could carry out the attack.

Cohen found an internal memo from British police headquarters in Jerusalem in 1939 reporting, “The Arab population in Palestine are listening to the Berlin Broadcasts in Arabic most attentively, particularly in town and village coffee shops where large crowds gather for the purpose.” The report stated that the “uneducated classes are undoubtedly being influenced” by the Nazi propaganda.

In 1945, the activists known as the Bergson Group successfully lobbied the government of Yugoslavia to indict the Mufti as a war criminal, because of atrocities committed against Allied soldiers and civilians by members of the Bosnian Muslim SS unit, known as “Handschar,” that he helped create. The Yugoslavs never took steps to extradite him, however.

Husseini fled Berlin during the final days of the war but was briefly detained by the French authorities and placed under house arrest in a Paris villa. In response to Arab pressure, the French permitted the Mufti to stage a faux escape, and he found haven in Cairo. Later he moved to Beirut, where he passed away in 1974.

Earlier this year, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas stirred controversy when, in a PA television broadcast, he listed the Mufti’s name among a number of “martyrs and heroes” who have died while fighting Jews or Israelis.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, DC. His latest book is “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,” available from Amazon.

12 Comments

  • I am very glad to see more publicity on this as it has been swept under the rug and covered up long enough. I often wonder why Israeli leaders never mention Islam’s pact with Hitler? Below is some more info you probably know about that involves the Catholic Church, Islam and the Nazis. Thanks for the article.

    http://prophetofdoom.net/Islamic_Clubs_Ustashi.Islam

  • I do trust all the concepts you’ve presented
    for your post. They are really convincing and will certainly work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for newbies.
    May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time?
    Thanks for the post.

  • Can anyone here tell me if they know of any relation between the aforementioned Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Yasser Arafat ? One book I read claimed that Arafat is the nephew of this Grand Mufti al-Husseini and that Arafat’s real name is Mohammed Abdel Rahman al-Husseini .

  • Moshe Ben Rangel

    We,d failed once when Yhaveh ask us to kill them all,He commanded:”Kill the elder,the young,their choldren,the pregnand women their animals even the grass growing in their fields you shald burn”but our fathers failed to do it,noe we,re living with the consecuences.We can’t not fail again the future of our people deppends on it.

    • That’s not a failure, it’s a moral success. We do not behave like Israel’s worst enemies would.

  • @richard sherman, are you sure you read the whole history or you just read the part of killing??? you missed the part where Jews broke the truce and tried to backstab Muslims to sneak in foreign forces!!!

  • Wolf MURMELSTEIN

    Furthermore:
    1. In August 1943 a group of about 1200 children arrived at Terezin where they stood in almost complete isolation for about two months. It was possible to note that they had had a terrible experience. At the end of October they left for …. with nurses and a doctor of Terezin. Among the volunteers who followed them there had been a sionist activist of Vienna whom the then Elder Eppstein maybee entrusted to forward a message to “foreign organizations” These children came from Byalistoc and, abroad, could be able to show better their terrifying experiences. So it is hardlu thinkable that the exchance Jewish childre/German prisoniers would have permitted by Himmler, even without the advice of the Great Mufti.
    2. Nazi criminals found safe heaven and appointments for suitable positions – according their “professional skills” – in several Arab states. In Syria government and rebel forces show how they had learnt those lessons.

  • Wolf MURMELSTEIN

    In German archives documents had been found by historians showing how in July 1942 SS Collonel Walter Rauff (by the way the inventor of the first Gas Chambers) with three “comrandes” arrived in Tripoli in order to direct the Shoah in the Middle East “relying on locals”.
    Fron about 1933 Italian fascist government handed out arms and other material to the followers of the “Great Muftu”.
    But in 1937 – contacts conducted bu Adolf Eichmann – the Mufti choose the alliance with Nazi Germany, the only power able to stop the immigration from East Europe.
    In October 1939 the had been the show of a “Jewish Settlement” at Nislo in Polamd.
    The is matter to study more.

    • hello,
      i read your reply.thank you.
      have you got any documents that prove that the 1933 Italian fascist government handed out arms and other material to the followers of the “Great Mufti” like you said?. i would like to know if there any documents in this subject..you can send me email : edycohen@walla.com
      thank you in advance

  • The British colonies were in uproar around the time of WWII, independence was the cry, especially lands the Brits had occupied after the collapse of Turkish Empire what is the Mid East. Indian too listen to Radio Berlin and if you were caught your in trouble. So I see nothing alarming if the Grand Mufti did so, it was against the British occupation. They had no other means to fight the Brits except tease them. People in India kept butterfly mustaches, which a symbol of Hitler, to defy the British rulers.

  • Antisemitism is foundational to both Islam and national socialism..Muhammad personally decapitated 900 unarmed Jews at Quarjayza…..Which was really the first Auschwitz…The Nazis simply expanded on on Muhammad’s example of slaughtering unarmed Jews..

    So finally Jew killing is foundational to both Islam hand national socialism..

    As Winston Churchill so wisely stated in THE GATHERING STORM in 1948: “MEIN KAMPF was the new KORAN”.

  • RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    America Unite BOSTON BOMBING

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTYenEIEUp4

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.