Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →