Thursday, January 23rd | 27 Tevet 5780

March 31, 2017 7:32 am

Himmler and Al-Husseini: Telegraphic Reminders of Reality

avatar by Ruthie Blum


A telegram sent by Heinrich Himmler to Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini. Photo: Israel National Library.

Upon her return from a class trip to Poland, taken as part of her Israeli high school education, my ‎daughter recounted with passion the experience of seeing the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau — now a museum of atrocities — in person. ‎

I asked her how she felt about the letter I and the other parents had been instructed to write in secret, which the teacher was to ‎distribute three days after the 11th graders arrived in Poland. In my letter, I tried to provide ‎comfort for the emotional distress I assumed she would feel seeing the fingernail marks on the walls of the gas chambers ‎and the rooms full of Jewish hair, eyeglasses and shoes. But I also wanted to say something ‎uplifting about the history and future of our people, without prompting a cynical roll of her eyes.‎

I did this by expressing how proud I was to be the mother of native Israeli children, born and raised in ‎the Jewish state established just a few years after Adolf Hitler’s defeat and unsuccessful attempt at ‎executing the Final Solution. This, I told her, was one answer to her and her brothers’ occasional questions about why I left the land of Toys ‘R’ Us and Macy’s for Jerusalem, of all places.‎

‎”You’re not going to believe this coincidence,” my daughter said. “A girl in my class whose mother is ‎American wrote almost the same thing as you did. But her conclusion was that this was why we ‎needed a Palestinian state.”‎

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This story came to mind with the release Thursday of a German-language telegram sent by Third Reich ‎SS commander Heinrich Himmler to Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini. The document, ‎dated around Nov. 2, 1943, was uncovered in the archives of Israel’s National Library. ‎

‎”From the outset, the National Socialist [Nazi] movement of Greater Germany has been a standard ‎bearer in the battle against world Jewry,” Himmler wrote to al-Husseini. “For this reason, it is closely ‎following the battle of freedom-seeking Arabs, particularly in Palestine, against the Jewish invaders. ‎The shared recognition of the enemy and the joint fight against it are creating the strong base [uniting] ‎Germany and freedom-seeking Arabs around the world. In this spirit, I am pleased to wish you, on the ‎‎[26th] anniversary of the wretched Balfour Declaration, warm wishes on your continued fight until the ‎great victory.”‎

What is striking about this telegram is not its contents — which simply constitute yet further evidence ‎of the warm relations between the Nazis and the mufti — but rather how similar its sentiments are to ‎those regularly voiced today. Not in Germany, where one could face charges for such antisemitic rhetoric, but in the Arab world and Palestinian Authority. ‎

In other words, my daughter did not have to travel to Europe for a tour of Hitler’s gas chambers to be ‎exposed to a purposeful and concerted effort to wipe her and her classmates off the face of the ‎earth.‎

Indeed, in the 17 years preceding the excursion, my daughter learned how to don a gas ‎mask, run to a bomb shelter, avoid suspicious people and packages, listen for air raid and ambulance ‎sirens, run for cover and call home at the sound or sight of a suicide bombing on a bus or cafe, and ‎attend funerals and memorial ceremonies. Lots of them.‎

A year after trekking to Poland, she was forced to exchange the fashionable jeans and ‎tank tops she purchased at the mall — which terror warnings often prevented her from frequenting — ‎for an IDF uniform.‎

Though now a grown woman, she still phones to let me know she is safe after every rocket strike, ‎stabbing attack or car ramming. Whether her friend’s mother still says “this is why we need a ‎Palestinian state” is unclear. But my daughter, like a majority of Israelis, realizes that the kind of ‎‎”solution” the Palestinians have in mind comes from the playbook of Himmler and al-Husseini. ‎

Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.

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