Relations between Nazi Germany and the Arab world

Relations between Nazi Germany (1933–1945) and the Arab world ranged from indifference, resistance, collaboration and emulation.[1][2][3][4][5] Nazi Germany used collaborators throughout the Arab world to support their political goals. The cooperative political and military relationships were based on shared hostilities towards common enemies, such as the United Kingdom,[4][5] the French Third Republic,[2][4] along with communism, and Zionism.[2][4][5] Another foundation of such collaborations was the antisemitism of the Nazis and their hostility towards the United Kingdom and France, which was admired by some Arab and Muslim leaders, most notably the exiled Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini (see subsection in "antisemitism in Islam").[6]

Yunis Bahri (far left), Rashid Ali al-Gaylani (speaking) and Amin al-Husseini (center), at the anniversary of the pro-Nazi 1941 Iraqi coup d'état in Berlin.

In public and private, Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler made complimentary statements about Islam as both a religion and a political ideology, describing it as a more disciplined, militaristic, political, and practical form of religion than Christianity is, and commending what they perceived were Muhammad's skills in politics and military leadership.[7] Minor Nazi party branches were established in the Middle East before the war by local German diaspora.[8] In June 1941, Wehrmacht High Command Directive No. 32 and the "Instructions for Special Staff F" designated Special Staff F as the Wehrmacht's central agency for all issues that affected the Arab world.[9]

The official Nazi racial ideology considered Arabs racially inferior to Germans, a sentiment which was echoed in deprecating statements made by Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Regardless, Nuremberg Laws did not label Arabs as non-Aryans.[2] Referring to the Arab world, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: "As a völkisch man, who appraises the value of men on a racial basis, I am prevented by mere knowledge of the racial inferiority of these so-called 'oppressed nations' from linking the destiny of my own people with theirs".[10]

Despite Amin al-Husseini's efforts to acquire German backing for Arab independence, Hitler refused to support them, remarking that he "wanted nothing from the Arabs". Nazi Germany was reluctant to initiate disputes with the Italian Empire or Vichy France colonies.[11] Nazi Germany sent officials and military equipment to Middle Eastern forces fighting alongside Axis powers during the Middle East theatre of World War II.

Nazi perceptions of the Arab world edit

 
November 1943: al-Husseini greeting Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS volunteers with a Nazi salute.[12] At right is SS General Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig.

In speeches, Hitler purportedly made apparently warm references towards Islam, such as: "The peoples of Islam will always be closer to us than, for example, France".[7] Hitler was transcribed as saying: "Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers [...] then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world."[13]

This exchange occurred when Hitler received Saudi Arabian ruler Ibn Saud's special envoy, Khalid al-Hud.[14] Earlier in this meeting, Hitler claimed that one of the three reasons why Nazi Germany had some interest in the Arabs was:

[...] because we were jointly fighting the Jews. This led him to discuss Palestine and the conditions there, and he then stated that he himself would not rest until the last Jew had left Germany. Khalid Al Hud observed that the Prophet Mohammed [...] had acted the same way. He had driven the Jews out of Arabia [...][15]

Lebanese academic Gilbert Achcar wrote that the Führer "did not find it useful" to point out to his Arab visitors at that meeting that until then he had incited German Jews to emigrate to Palestine (see Aliyah Bet and Timeline of the Holocaust), and the Third Reich actively helped Zionist organizations get around British-imposed restrictions on Jewish immigration.[16]

Hitler had told his military commanders in 1939, shortly before the beginning of World War II: "We shall continue to make disturbances in the Far East and in Arabia. Let us think as men and let us see in these peoples at best lacquered half-apes who are anxious to experience the lash."[17][18]

 
Imam Bel Hadj el Maafi (in white) in 1947, in front of the Montluc prison, during a commemoration of the French Resistance.

After the destruction of the Ottoman Empire (a power which had controlled much of the Middle East for centuries) during World War I, the period which preceded the Second World War, saw all of North Africa and the Middle East either within the sphere of influence or under the direct rule of European colonial powers. Despite the Nazi racial theory, which denigrated Arabs as racially inferior, individual Arabs who assisted the Third Reich by fighting against the Allies were treated with dignity and respect. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, for example, "was granted honorary Aryan" status by the Nazis for his close collaboration with Hitler and the Third Reich.[19]

The Nazi government developed a cordial relationship with some Arab nationalists and it also cooperated with them, based on their common enemies and their shared distaste towards Jews and Zionism. Notable examples include the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine and other actions led by Amin al-Husseini, as well as the Anglo-Iraqi War, when the Golden Square (a political clique of four generals led by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani) overthrew the pro-British 'Abd al-Ilah regency in Iraq and installed a pro-Axis government which was swiftly overthrown by British forces with the help of local Christian Assyrian levies.[20][21][22] German Arabic propoganda was launched to stoke anti-Allied sentiment in the region.[23] In 1941 the German Foreign Office noted:

‘The Islamic concept of Holy War cannot be applied with the current distribution of powers. Arabism and Islam are not congruent. The Arabs that we have to take into account do not fight in favor of religious, but political goals. Matters of Islam need to be dealt with in a tactful manner.”[24]

In response to the Rashid Ali coup, Hitler issued Führer Directive No. 30 on 23 May 1941, to support their cause. This order began: "The Arab Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally against England."[22]

On 11 June 1941, Hitler and the supreme commander of the armed forces issued Directive No. 32:

Exploitation of the Arab Freedom Movement. The situation of the English in the Middle East will be rendered more precarious, in the event of major German operations, if more British forces are tied down at the right moment by civil commotion or revolt. All military, political, and propaganda measures to this end must be closely coordinated during the preparatory period. As central agency abroad I nominate Special Staff F, which is to take part in all plans and actions in the Arab area, whose headquarters are to be in the area of the Commander Armed Forces South-east. The most competent available experts and agents will be made available to it. The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces will specify the duties of Special Staff F, in agreement with the Foreign Minister where political questions are involved.[25]

In the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler, Hitler complained that Italy's colonies in the Libya and East Africa damaged the credibility of the Axis powers as an anti-colonial force:

Our Italian ally has been a source of embarrassment to us everywhere. It was this alliance, for instance, which prevented us from pursuing a revolutionary policy in North Africa. In the nature of things, this territory was becoming an Italian preserve and it was as such that the Duce laid claim to it. Had we been on our own, we could have emancipated the Moslem countries dominated by France; and that would have had enormous repercussions in the Near East, dominated by Britain, and in Egypt. But with our fortunes linked to those of the Italians, the pursuit of such a policy was not possible. All Islam vibrated at the news of our victories. The Egyptians, the Irakis [sic] and the whole of the Near East were all ready to rise in revolt. Just think what we could have done to help them, even to incite them, as would have been both our duty and in our own interest! But the presence of the Italians at our side paralysed us; it created a feeling of malaise among our Islamic friends, who inevitably saw in us accomplices, willing or unwilling, of their oppressors. For the Italians in these parts of the world are more bitterly hated, of course, than either the British or the French. The memories of the barbarous, reprisals taken against the Senussi are still vivid. Then again the ridiculous pretensions of the Duce to be regarded as The Sword of Islam evokes the same sneering chuckle now as it did before the war. This title, which is fitting for Mahomed and a great conqueror like Omar, Mussolini caused to be conferred on himself by a few wretched brutes whom he had either bribed or terrorized into doing so. We had a great chance of pursuing a splendid policy with regard to Islam. But we missed the bus, as we missed it on several other occasions, thanks to our loyalty to the Italian alliance! In this theatre of operations, then, the Italians prevented us from playing our best card, the emancipation of the French subjects and the raising of the standard of revolt in the countries oppressed by the British. Such a policy would have aroused the enthusiasm of the whole of Islam. It is a characteristic of the Moslem world, from the shores of the Atlantic to those of the Pacific, that what affects one, for good or for evil, affects all.[26]

Nazi persecution of Arabs edit

Nazi harassment of Arabs began as early as 1932, where members of the Egyptian Student Association in Graz, Austria reported to the Egyptian consulate in Vienna that some Nazis had assaulted some of its members, throwing beer steins and armchairs at them, injuring them, and that “oddly enough” the police had not arrested the perpetrators, but the Egyptians.[27] The Nazis attackers were later acquitted; one of its officers, penciled the word “Jude" [Jew] after the names of three of the attacked Egyptians. In February 1934, the Egyptian Embassy in Berlin complained to the Reich Ministry of the Interior that a student had been attacked and insulted in a dance hall in Tübingen. The perpetrator had complained that he was not permitted to dance with a “German” because he was “black” and of a “lower race” and had punched him. The attacker was not punished.

 
The Moroccan Mohamed Bouayad was killed in a gas chamber in Mauthausen in April 1945.

While Arabs were a small population in Europe at the time, they were not free from Nazi persecution.[28] Racist incidents against Egyptians were reported as early as the 1930s.[29][30] The Nazis also sterilized hundreds of "half-breeds", Germans of mixed Arab/North African heritage.[31] On the onset of war, Egyptians living in Germany were interned in response to the internment of Germans in Egypt.[32] Tens of thousands of French colonial soldiers were imprisoned after fighting alongside French forces in the Battle of France.[33]

The Arab collaborators with Nazi Germany, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini and Rashid Ali al-Gailani, were aware of the Arab inmates, yet did nothing to free them. Al-Husseini refused to intervene when a Palestinian called Boutros S. was arrested for "political expressions" and sent to a work camp near Berlin. In December 1943, an Iraqi student Sayd Daud Y was arrested for helping the desertion of his future brother-in-law, a grenadier in the Wehrmacht. Daud was engaged to the soldier’s sister and had a child with her, but “for racial considerations” was not allowed to marry her. His brother tried to help him by appealing to al-Kailānī and to the Grand Mufti to intervene, though they refused to help. He was brought to Dachau in April 1945.[34]

Arabs who participated in the resistance for persecuted the worst. Arab members of the French communist group 'Bataillons De La Jeunesse' include Othman ben Aleya, Hassan ben Mohamed in Lyon, Mohamed Mould Abdallah and the Algerians Bouzid Kheloufi and Mohamed Tirouche, who volunteered for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.[35] The Lebanese Antoine Hajje was murdered by the Nazis for participating in the communist resistance.[36] In his final letter, he wrote:

“I have just arrived from the Royallieu Camp with our colleagues Pitard and Rolnikas, to the German section of the Health Prison.

An officer informed us that by order of higher authority we will be shot this morning as hostages. We protested, but in vain. We go to death, satisfied with having, in all circumstances, fulfilled our duty, all our duty. We are struck by fate, and fate is, alas, unjust. We die prematurely, but it is for France. We are proud of it.

By addressing this word to you, I say goodbye to a profession that I loved; I will have been, until the end, the defender of human dignity and truth. »[37][38]

Essaid Haddad, Mohamed Thami-Lakhdar and Mohamed Sliman, all of whom were active resistance members, were also killed.[39] Mohamed Lattab, an Algerian, was interned at Compiègne, later sent to Auschwitz on July 6, 1942, where he was murdered on either January 9 or March 5, 1943- his prisoner number was 45730.[40][41] Ben Ali Lahousine was born in Morocco on October 15, 1918 and was sent to Compiègne and later Aushwitz. During his time there, he was a Vorarbeiter, exempt from physical work. As a kapo, he was 'known for his brutality'; he was transferred to Sachsenhausen and later Dachau, where he was killed by freed prisoners after liberation.[42][43] The Moroccan Fremdarbeiter Abdallah ben Ahmed and Salem Ammamouche were convicted of forgery and trafficking with food stamps. The former died of tuberculosis in the Brandenburg jail in March 1944, and the later was executed in Berlin-Plötzensee in mid-April 1945.[18] Djaafar Khemdoudi was sentenced to Neuengamme for saving Jews in Lyon, with the help of Bel Hadj El Maafi.[44]

The historian Gerhard Höpp has confirmed that 450 Arab inmates were housed in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz (34),[a] Bergen-Belsen (21), Buchenwald (148), Dachau (84), Flossenburg (39), Gross-Rosen (12), Hinzert (3), Mauthausen (62), Mittelbau-Dora (39), Natzweiler (37), Neuengamme (110 - 73 at the Alderney satellite camp), Ravensbruck (25), Sachsenhausen (42) and others.[45] Most of the inmates were Algerians who were living in France, and were used for Nazi slave labor. One in five Arabs did not survive the camps, and one - a Moroccan named Mohamed Bouayad - was killed in a gas chamber at Mauthausen only eleven days before its liberation.[46]

Josef R., a former prisoner in Sachsenhausen, spoke about an “Arab who couldn’t speak any German at all” called "Ali":

“It was a cold winter and ‘Ali’ had to stand for hours outdoors, where cold water was poured over him and he was punched and kicked. ‘Ali’ was about 45 years old at that time and it was surely more than he could take. But I don’t know which SS man did that to ‘Ali’ at that time.”[47]

Arabs were involved in the Buchenwald resistance. The Algerians Kermiche Areski and Messaoud ben Hamiche belonged to the “Brigade française d’Action liberatrice” that formed in the camp in June 1944. On April 11, 1945, the brigade took part in the prisoners’ armed revolt that made it possible to transfer the camp to the American troops.[47]

Arab perceptions of Hitler and Nazism edit

Massive programs of propaganda were launched in the Arab world, first, they were launched by Fascist Italy and later on, they were launched by Nazi Germany. In particular, the Nazis had considerable impact on the new generation of political thinkers and activists.[48]

A French report dated September 14, 1940, quotes a local Muslim leader: “We do not wish to be the instruments to others’ grievances, because we would only have to bear the consequences; Satan continues to excite the French against the Jews, we'll just be spectators.”[49] Muslim leaders in Algeria tried to avoid direct conflict with the Vichy regime over the 'Jewish Question'.[50]

Some believed that the Germans would help them gain their independence from French and British rule. After France's defeat by Nazi Germany in 1940, some Arabs were making public chants against the French and British in the streets of Damascus: "No more Monsieur, no more Mister, Allah's in Heaven and Hitler's on earth."[51] Posters in Arabic stating "In heaven God is your ruler, on earth Hitler" were frequently displayed in shops in the towns of Syria.[52]

 
Amin al-Husseini and Adolf Hitler on 28 November 1941

The two most noted Arab politicians who actively collaborated with the Nazis were the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini,[21][page needed][53] and the Iraqi prime minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani.[54][55]

The British sent Amin al-Husseini into exile for his role in the Palestinian revolt of 1936–39. The ex-Mufti had agents in the Kingdom of Iraq, the French Mandate of Syria and in Mandatory Palestine. In 1941, al-Husseini actively supported the Iraqi Golden Square coup d'état, led by Rashid Ali al-Gaylani.[56]

After the Golden Square Iraqi regime was defeated by British forces and Assyrian levies, Rashid Ali, al-Husseini and other pro Nazi Iraqi veterans took refuge in Europe, where they supported Axis interests. They were particularly successful in recruiting several tens-of-thousands of Muslims for membership in German Schutzstaffel (SS) units, and as propagandists for the Arabic-speaking world. The range of collaborative activities was wide. For instance, Anwar Sadat, who later became president of Egypt, was a willing co-operator in Nazi Germany's espionage according to his own memoirs.[48] Adolf Hitler met with Amin al-Husseini on 28 November 1941. The official German notes of that meeting contain numerous references to combatting Jews both inside and outside Europe. The following excerpts from that meeting are statements from Hitler to al-Husseini:

Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests. ... This was the decisive struggle; on the political plane, it presented itself in the main as a conflict between Germany and England, but ideologically it was a battle between National Socialism and the Jews. It went without saying that Germany would furnish positive and practical aid to the Arabs involved in the same struggle, because platonic promises were useless in a war for survival or destruction in which the Jews were able to mobilize all of England's power for their ends....the Fuhrer would on his own give the Arab world the assurance that its hour of liberation had arrived. Germany's objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operations, which he had secretly prepared. When that time had come, Germany could also be indifferent to French reaction to such a declaration.[57][58][59]

 
Bosnian Muslim soldiers of the SS "Handschar" with a brochure about Islam and Judaism, 1943

Amin al-Husseini became the most prominent Arab collaborator with the Axis powers. He developed friendships with high-ranking Nazis, including Heinrich Himmler, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and (possibly) Adolf Eichmann.[citation needed] He contributed to Axis propaganda services and he also contributed to the recruitment of both Arab Muslim and non-Arab Muslim soldiers for the Nazi armed forces, including three SS divisions which consisted of Bosnian Muslims.[60] He was involved in planning "wartime operations directed against Palestine and Iraq, including parachuting Germans and Arab agents to foment attacks against the Jews in Palestine."[61] He assisted the German entry into North Africa, particularly the German entry into Tunisia and Libya. His espionage network provided the Wehrmacht with a forty-eight-hour warning of the Allied invasion of North Africa. The Wehrmacht, however, ignored this information, which turned out to be completely accurate.[citation needed] He intervened and protested to government authorities in order to prevent Jews from emigrating to Mandatory Palestine.[62] There is persuasive evidence that he was aware of the Nazi Final Solution.[63] After the war ended, he claimed that he never knew about the extermination camps and he also claimed that he never knew about Nazi plans to commit genocide against European Jews, he also claimed that the evidence which was used against him was forged by his Jewish enemies, and he even denied the authenticity of the evidence which proved that he had met Eichmann. He is still a controversial figure, he is both vilified and honored by different political factions in the contemporary Arab world.[64]

Researchers like Jeffrey Herf, Meir Zamir, and Hans Goldenbaum agree on the importance of the German propaganda effort in the Middle East and North Africa. But the latest research on the massive and influential radio broadcasts was able to prove "that the texts were supplied by German personnel and not, as sometimes believed, by the reader[s] of the Arabic broadcasts [...]". Furthermore, Goldenbaum concludes "that the man who was long regarded as the Reich's most important Muslim of all, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, did not play any particularly important role in this case. Despite the fact that his Arabic speeches were broadcast by Radio Berlin and he was always presented as a role model, al-Husseini did not have any influence on the broadcast content. The Arabs in general did not seem to have been partners with equal rights. Instead they were secondary recipients of propaganda and orders, Goldenbaum concluded. Cooperation never went beyond the emphasized common battle against colonialism."[65][66]

Opposition edit

Many Arabs opposed Nazism and fascism, especially in the liberal and leftist press. In some instances, Arabs defied Nazi laws by rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. Fascist Italy murdered Arabs, Berbers and Jews during and before the war.[67][68][69] Hundreds of thousands of African soldiers, including Arab North Africans, fought in the French Colonial Army during the war.[70][71][72][73]

Algeria edit

 
The poster was printed in the Algerian journal "an-Nasr" (Triumph) in June 1943. It depicts Saladin slaying Nazism. The text reads, "By God, against the swastika, the enemy of all religions".

French colonialism in North Algeria began in the 1830s, solidifying in the 1870s. Algeria had been integrated into France since 1848, but few Algerians had been granted French citizenship. Algerian Jews were officially French citizens ever since the 1870 Crémieux Decree. In Morocco and Tunisia, which were protectorates of France, Jews were considered subjects of the sultan and bey. Antisemitism in France was a growing movement among French political elites.[74] One of the worst cases was in 1870, during the Dreyfus affair, when Alfred Dreyfus, a captain of Jewish heritage, was convicted of treason with forged documents. According to historian Bernard Lewis, Muslims generally sided with Dreyfus.[75] Antisemitism, which had existed in the Muslim world long before, was influenced in many ways due to an importing of French antisemitism.[76]

It was during this time, in the 1920s, when the International League Against Anti-Semitism (LICA) was founded by Bernard Lecache.[77] Some Muslim reformers agreed with Lecache, among them Abdelhamid Ben Badis, Mohammed Salah Bendjelloul, and Sheikh Tayeb El-Okbi. Lecache believed in Arab-Jewish reconciliation against rising inter-communal tensions. El-Okbi would later say that "LICA is the true incarnation of the Islamic spirit. The Qur’an says that humans are born brothers and that Islam does not make a difference between races. True Muslims do not belittle other races. They are against hatred of people, injustice and inequality."[78] In 1939, Abder-Rahmane Fitrawe published Le racisme et l’Islam ("Racism and Islam") which sought to illustrate the threat of Nazism and Fascism by arguing that they went against the teachings of Islam.[79][80][81][82] Some of these Muslim intellectuals were criticized for allying with Jewish leaders and calling for Muslim-Jewish collaboration.[83]

On 20 January 1942, 15 high-ranking Nazi Party and German government officials met at a villa in Wannsee, a Berlin suburb, to coordinate the execution of the "Final Solution" (Endlösung) of the "Jewish Question". At this Wannsee Conference, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler's deputy and head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office, or RSHA), noted the numbers of Jews to be eliminated in each territory. In the notation for France there are two entries, 165,000 for Occupied France, and 700,000 for the Unoccupied Zone, which included France's North African possessions, i.e. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.[84][page needed][85][86] The SS had established a special unit of 22 people in 1942 "to Kill Jews in North Africa". It was led by the SS functionary Walter Rauff, who helped develop the mobile gassing vehicles the Germans used to murder Russian prisoners and Jewish people in Russia and Poland. A network of labor camps was established in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.[87] In 1941, some Jews joined anti-Nazi underground rebel movements.[88][89][90] Many of these Jews were caught and sent to labor camps or executed.[91][92][93] Algerian Jewish survivors were the last to receive compensation from Germany for the Holocaust.[94]

After the fall of France, the Vichy French regime abolished the Crémieux Decree, a decree which granted Algerian Jews French citizenship but did not grant Algerian Muslims French citizenship. The abolition of the Crémieux Decree served as the legal basis for the antisemitic laws which were enforced by the regime. The French fascists thought that by abolishing this decree, they would increase their popularity among Muslim nationalists in Algeria, which did not occur. The Algerian nationalist Ferhat Abbas responded: "Your [French] racism runs in all direction, today against the Jews, and always against the Arabs."[95] Messali Hadj, founder of the Algerian People's Party, wrote: "[This] cannot be considered as progress for the Algerian people—lowering the rights of Jews did not increase the rights of Muslims."[95] While Hadj was imprisoned, he refused a deal for his release if he wrote a declaration in support of the French fascist collaborator Marshal Pétain.[96] As a result, he was sentenced to sixteen years of hard labor, was banned from visiting France for twenty years, and had all of his propterty confiscated.[97] Dr. Boumendjel, an Algerian politician, in a letter to local Jewish leaders, wrote:

 
An advertisement for the Comité de L’Union Sémite shows a Jewish–Arab handshake. Captions in both Hebrew and Arabic say 'Unity with Ishmael will bring redemption to Israel’

I can assure you that, in general, the Muslims have understood that it would be inappropriate for them to rejoice in the special measures of which the Jews of Algeria are the victims. They cannot reasonably get behind those who are attempting to practice a racial policy when they themselves are struck down on a daily basis in the name of racism. Our adversaries did not suspect that in making the Jews inferior, they could only bring them closer to the Muslims. Most of them believed that the Muslims would be delighted with the abrogation of the Crémieux decree, whereas they may simply have realized that a citizenship that can be withdrawn after seventy years of being exercised was questionable, through the fault of the very ones who had granted it…. They refuse to be “overgrown children,” dupes, or bargaining chips.[98]

Tayeb el-Okbi was a member of the Algerian Islah (Reform) Party, and he was also a friend of the prominent Algerian reformist Abdelhamid Ben Badis, who was tolerant of different religions and cultures. When he discovered that the leaders of the pro-fascist group, the Légion Français des Combattants, were planning to commit a pogrom against Jews with the help of Muslim troops, he issued a fatwa ordering Muslims not to attack Jews.[99] His actions were compared to French Archbishops Jules-Géraud Saliège and Pierre-Marie Gerlier, whose efforts saved scores of Jews in Europe, though he took more personal risk as a Muslim in the French colony.[100]

In 1941, Vichy France ordered the confiscation of the property of the Jews. However, in a sign of the solidarity, not a single Muslim Algerian took advantage of the law by purchasing confiscated Jewish property; on a Friday in 1941, religious leaders throughout Algiers delivered sermons in which they warned Muslims against participation in schemes to strip Jews of their property.[101]

José Aboulker, a French Algerian Jew and the leader of the anti-Nazi resistance in French Algeria,[102] praised the restraint of the Arabs:[103]

The Arabs do not participate [in the fight against Vichy]. It is not their war. But, as regards the Jews, they are perfect. The [Vichy] functionaries [and] the German agents try to push them into demonstrations and pogroms. In vain. When Jewish goods were put up for public auction, an instruction went around the mosques: "Our brothers are suffering misfortune. Do not take their goods." Not one Arab became an administrator [of property] either. Do you know other examples of such an admirable, collective dignity?

In the same year, the Vichy Regime imposed a two percent quota for Jews in the medical profession. In response, Marcel Lūfranī, an Algerian Jewish doctor, and two of his Muslim colleagues - Saʿadān and Būmalī - created a petition demanding the reinstatement of Algerian Jewish docters. It was later signed by Mohammed Saleh Bendjelloul, Drs. Ghudbān, Bensmāyya, and Ferhat Abbas.[104] According to historians on Vichy France and the Holocaust, Marrus R. Michael and Robert O.Paxton:

There is no truth to the allegation that the Algerian anti-Jewish campaign was a concession to Muslim pressures. The Western-educated Muslim elite, leaning toward the Resistance, seems even to have supported the Jews. ... On November 29, 1942, a group of Muslim leaders, including Boumendjel and Sheik El-Okbi, a spiritual leader of Algerian Muslims, sent a letter to Dr. Mohammed Loufrani, a proponent of Jewish-Muslim understanding, denying that Jews and Muslims were antagonistic in Algeria. Far from rejoicing in the abrogation of the Crémieux decree, they wrote, Algerian Muslims “saw the dubious worth of a citizenship that the granting authority can take away after seventy years’ enjoyment.” In the April 1943 session of the Oran Conseil général, the regional governing body, all the Muslim members signed a declaration affirming their “sincere friendly understanding with Frenchmen of the Israelite religion” and their support for restoring the Crémieux decree. The European settlers in Algeria, by contrast, tried to retain anti-Jewish legislation even after the Allied armies arrived in November 1942.[105]

 
Djaafar Khemdoudi in his Neuengamme clothes

According to Robert Satloff, in World War II, only one Arab in North Africa, Hassan Ferjani, was convicted for performing actions that led to the deaths of Jews by an Allied military tribunal, while many other Arabs acted to save Jews.[106] Algerian religious leaders Si Kaddour Benghabrit and Abdelkader Mesli hid and saved Jews in the basements of the Grand Mosque of Paris.[107][108][109][110] In Paris, a handwritten note written in Kabyle said:

Yesterday evening, the Jews of Paris were arrested— the elderly, women, and children. In exile like us, workers like us, these are our brothers. Their children are like our children. If you encounter one of their children, you must give him asylum and protection until the time that the misfortune—or the sorrow— passes. Oh, man of my country, your heart is generous.[111]

In the French city of Lyon, the imam of the city, Bel Hadj El Maafi, joined the French Resistance and protected the Jews of Saint-Fons and Vénissieux, helped by Djaafar Khemdoudi.[112][113] Between 200,000 and 250,000 North African Muslims served in the French armies on the Allied side.[114] In the metropole, a group called Future of North Africa called on Muslims to join the Allies, saying:

Men who you have always known to be devoted to the North African cause are now [on our side]. They call you to holy war against the enemy of Islam, against the enemy of humanity, Hitler and the Nazi regime.[114]

The historian Haim Saadon opines that bar some exceptions, there was no violence against Jews by Muslims and although there was no particular sense of camaraderie between Jews and Muslims, they treated each other quite well.[115]

Mohammed Arezki Berkani edit

Mohammed Arezki Berkani was an Algerian nationalist who was an active member of Étoile Nord-Africaine (North African Star) and the Algerian People's Party. Because of his activities, he was imprisoned by the Vichy French authorities in 1941, along with the Algerian communist Larbi Bouhali, at the Djenien-Bou-Rezg concentration camp.[116] Berkani's memoirs are unique in that they provide an insight into life as a Muslim in a French concentration camp alongside Jews.[117][118] He expains how the camp commander Lieutenant Deriko tried to provoke fighting between Arabs and Jews at the site:[119]

This was not all. He was always searching for new ways to create problems between internees. He demolished a wall that separated the first section from the second section and added four or five rooms to the first section. These rooms had belonged in the past to the second section. There, he assembled the camp’s Jews, who had previously been mixed in with the Europeans, and separated them from the French, or rather, from the Europeans. This wretched Deriko was responsible for yet more provocations. The Europeans to one side, the Arabs to one side, same for the Jews. The latter again share the first section. The same courtyard serves both Muslims and Jews. There was no doubt: Deriko did this with the intention of seeing Jews slaughtered by Muslims, since there were not many Jews. But, the Jews understood his scheme. So did the Arabs. Commander Deriko wanted Arabs and Jews to stab one another, but the opposite occurred. A friendly understanding spread between the two communities. Never would you have believed that the Arabs and the Jews in the camp’s first section would become real friends, even brothers. Indeed, whether they wanted it or not, they were brothers in hunger, suffering, misery, sorrow, etc. in Deriko’s camp. ... Since the trap set for the Jews and Arabs did not result in anything, one fine day commander Louis divided the courtyard between Jews and Arabs with a piece of chalk—a demarcation of the border—and informed everyone that each person had to stay within his bounds. I would like to conclude simply by paying homage not only to the Muslim militants, and in particular to the organizers, but also to the Jews who knew how to thwart all of Deriko’s and his deputy’s petty attempts to provoke incidents among Arabs and Jews.

— Mohammed Arezki Berkani

Egypt edit

 
The Egyptian paper Al-Ithnayn wa al-Dunya mistakenly believed that Hitler would not be able to conquer Poland and would be stuck there. “He cannot swallow it.” September 18, 1939

Fascism was denounced by many in Egyptian society.[120] The Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram denounced Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, criticizing not just the brutal Italian conquest, but the world for allowing a League of Nations member to be invaded.[121] The paper also denounced Germany's aggressive expansion before the war. The weekly Ar-risala had articles that denounced Hitler, such as a 1939 editorial that said: "Nazism by its very nature is contradictory to freedom of expression and freedom of opinion; it is based on the rule of force"[122] and "The competition between fascism and Hitlerism is for the enslavement of people", as well as other articles criticizing the treatment of women by fascist regimes.[123][124][125][126] Ahmad Hasan al-Zayyat, while he worked as an editor for Ar-risala, wrote scathing articles on Hitler and fascism.[127][128] 'Abd al-Mun'am Khallaf denounced the notion of "death for the nation's sake" and argued that Islam did not value ethnicity or race but rather mercy and compassion.[129] The newspaper Al Muqattam produced articles which criticized Nazi racial ideology and its antisemitism.[130] The Egyptian cultural and literature magazine al-Hilal compared Nazi Germany to Sparta, not as a compliment, but to criticize the "disintegration of the individual", arguing that Athenian values of elightenment and democracy outlasted the failed city-state of Sparta.[131][132]

 
Nazi: "I brought you a new fez!" Masri Effendi (Cariacture of Egypt): "But this fez will crush me and take my breath away!" From Ākhir sāʼah - 26th of July, 1942

Taha Hussein, the famous Egyptian academic and twenty-one time Nobel Prize in Literature nominee,[133] criticized the lack of freedom of thought in Nazi Germany, writing "They live like a society of insects. They must behave like ants in an anthill or like bees in a hive."[134] Hussein disagreed with neutrality, urging the Egyptians to fight the Germans in the war.[135] In 1940, he wrote a book review of Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks, declaring:

Hitler is an intellectually limited man who does not like to delve deeply into problems or to refl ect in any depth. He hates books and culture, he is superbly ignorant about what science and experience could offer him, and he resorts only to wild fantasies that have no precise aim. He has only contempt for philosophers, politicians, and thinkers. He thinks he has come into existence to lead Germany , and with it the world, toward a new phase of their destiny... I give thanks to God that I did not wait until the declaration of war to hate Hitler and his regime. In fact, I have hated them both since they made their appearance; I have resisted them with all my strength. I have always envisioned Hitler as a man whose conscience drips with blood, who considers nothing respectable or sacred, an enemy of the spirit, of humanity, of all the ideals of civilization. And now his acts and words confirm in everyone’s eyes what I had understood from the beginning of his fateful rise. It is therefore a duty more than a right for anyone who believes in spiritual, moral, and religious values, and in liberty, to stand up as the adversary of that man and that regime, and to mobilize every resource against both so that humanity may one day recover its civilization intact and its conscience in integrity.[136]

The Egyptian legal scholar Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri, while teaching law in Baghdad, argued that Nazism was also anti-Arab as well.[129] al-Sanhuri denounced fascism in an essay he wrote for al-Hilal, concluding that “the democratic system is still the best, most appropriate system that the human race has even known.".[137]The Egyptian journalist Salama Moussa, in the magazine Al Majalla Al Jadida, at first supported Germany's industrialization under Hitler, but later denounced it as a totalitarian state, arguing instead for traditional liberal democratic values.[138] Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood also criticized fascism, in his book Peace in Islam.[139] The Egyptian lawyer Hamid Maliji denounced Hitler's racial theories after Mein Kampf was translated into Arabic.[140][141] The Egyptian journalist Muhammad Zaki Abd al-Qadir criticized appeasement and argued that the West should abandon appeasement and should instead confront Germany.[142] One of the pioneers of Egyptian literature, Tawfiq al-Hakim directly ridiculed Hitler and Mussolini in his book Himari Qala Li (My Donkey Told Me).[143][144] Here, Al-Hakim comments on Nazism, Fascism and liberalism through fiction. He writes a fictional conversation between Mussolini and his prison guard, where Mussolini learns that millions of Italians are celebrating his removal.[145][146] He also writes a conversation between Scheherazade and Hitler.[147][148] Al-Hakim, through Scheherazade, argues with Hitler in favor of democracy against Nazism.[145]

The Egyptian journalist and poet Abbas Mahmoud al-Aqqad was an outspoken critic of Nazism and a supporter of liberal democracy; he even fled to Sudan in an attempt to avoid being captured by the German army during the invasion of Egypt for publishing his anti-Nazi book "Hitler in the Balance".[149][150][151][152] He argued that Hitler and Nazism were the ultimate danger to freedom and liberalism, and believed democracy was a better model for Egypt than dictatorship.[153] Aqqad believed that "the fulfillment of the needs of these countries can by ensured only by democratic governments"[154]

The author Muhamad Abdallah Inan warned against the Nazi party, specifically against its racism and repression of the free press.[155][156][157][158][159] In Ar-Risala, he wrote:

German National Socialism does not stop its view about the racial superiority at this point, but it goes much beyond that. It announces the superiority of the Aryan race over all other races, not only over the Jewish race and considers all non-Aryan races as inferior; and the people of the south Mediterranean and the Semitic and Oriental people all generally belong to the inferior people that should be avoided by the Aryan race, which should be careful not to mix with them [...] there is no need to say that this theory is not based on proper science nor proper research or proper thought, it is only a new form of the attitude of hate of western people towards [others] and a new form of western colonialism.[160]

The most influential political party in Egypt at the time was the Wafd, which emerged from the anti-British protests during the 1919 revolution. The Wafdist Egyptian politician Mostafa al-Nahhas - who was prime minister from 1942 to 1944 - refused to ally himself with the Nazis. According to his memoirs, he was approached by the Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano and Amin al-Husseini, who attempted to convince him to join the Axis, even promising him the presidency of an Egyptian republic.[161] He refused, instead opting to cooperate with the British. In 1942, he promised Rabbi Nahum Effendi that if Egypt were to fall to Germany, Egypt would not enact any anti-Jewish laws.[162]

The political cartoons which were produced during that time frequently satirized politics in Egypt as well as foreign affairs. Cartoons produced by Alexandar Saroukhan[163] and in Akher Saa, along others, were firmly anti-Nazi and anti-fascist, containing a message of ridicule and threat.[164] The political cartoonist Kimon Evan Marengo, code name KEM, produced anti-Nazi cartoons during the war for the British Foreign office.[165]

Iraq edit

During the Spanish Civil War, around 700 Arabs volunteered for the Republicans.[166] Nuri Roufeal Kotani and his compatriot Setty Abraham Horresh, travaled from Syria to Lebanon to France, finalying crossing the Pyrenees to fight fascism.[167] Kotani was promoted to corporal and later sergeant for his service in Spain.[168]

The newspaper Saut al-Sha‘b took a firm anti-German stance. In February 1940, it stated that Nazi Germany was a threat to the small countries of Europe, whose fate could only be secured by Allied victory.[169] It later argued that democracy was a sunnah, that the rule of one man and one people over another was immoral and incompatible with Islam.[170] Saut al-Sha‘b produced a series of short commentaries called "Sawanih" ('Thoughts' in Arabic). One article compared Germany and Italy to wolves, attacking the 'lambs' of Europe.[171] In August 1940, an article in Sawanih joked about the difference in character between Germany and England: A German and an Englishman drive and stop in the middle of a one-lane bridge. The German then issues a three-hundred page declaration why the Englishman should retreat. The Englishman responds: "When you have finished reading it, let me know, so that I can read it, too.” In frustration, the German drives away.[172]

The satirical newspaper Habazbuz, owned by Nuri Thabit, also criticized fascism, for example, attacking Mussolini when he declared himself the 'protector of Islam' and supported the Ethiopians during the Italian invasion.[173] Thabit, a teacher himself, complained that students in the nationalist clubs didn't know any history: one student said Egypt was founded by Adam and was ruled by Abraham for a thousand years before he was succeeded by Khedive Ismail, another said Harun al-Rashid was one of the four rightly guided caliphs. Thabit complained: “Every day a sports competition! Every day a sporting exercise! Every day a parade!” ... "when you ask a student on Khalid ibn al-Walid, he tells you he is Napoleon’s cousin!”.[174]

Hibatuddin Shahrestani was a Shi'a religious leader and anti-colonial activist in Iraq. In 1910, he argued that the answer to colonialism was Islamic unity, one that went beyond ethnic exclusivity. In 1937, he argued that Islam was a religion based on the universial brotherhood of all men, that celebrated the dignity of the individual. Thus, Nazism was incompatible with Islamic beliefs.[175] He was not the only Islamic leader to reject the ultra-nationalist currents of the time; when Hajj Amin al-Husayni visited Mosul, he was told by the chief judge, Ra’uf al-Mufti, that the people of Mosul had no intention of attacking Jews, because Islam commands Muslims to defend their neighbors.

The Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) initially supported the 1941 Iraqi coup, due to its genuine popularity among the anti-British Iraqi masses.[176] Communist leader Yusuf Salman Yusuf - better known as Comrade Fahd - sent a letter to the coup leader Rashid Gaylani, imploring him to stay away from the Axis powers - which the ICP considered imperialist - and anti-semitism, instead suggesting an alliance with the Soviet Union.[177] Fahd later denounced the al-Gaylani as fascist and criminal, regretting his previous support.[178] The Iraqi Communist Party then voiced its supported for Britain and the government of Nuri al-Said in the war against Nazism.[179]

During the Farhud, a massacre of Iraqi Jews in Baghdad, the mufti of Mosul, Sheikh Ibrahim al-Rumi, promised Rabbi Yaakov Mutzafi that the police commander had guaranteed their safety. On June 1, officers were guarding the streets in the city; they remained at these posts throughout the following day. In Sulaimaniya, the imam of the city, upon hearing that young men were planning to attack the Jewish population, denounced them as criminals who rejected Islam, highlighting that Jews were under their protection.[180] In Hilla, the governor of Hashimiyya had weapons distributed to the Futuwwa youth movement and instructed them to attack local Jews. In response, the local mujtahid, Mirza al-Qazwini threatened to attack Al Hashimiyah with his tribesmen. While large-scale violence was averted, three Jews were attacked while boarding a train - one died later died in the hospital. al-Qazwini then confonted the governor, arguing that the murder was a sacrilege.[181]

While most of the violence was in Baghdad, the city of Basra saw looting of Jewish homes as well. The historian Orit Bashkin argues that Basra did not experience an event at the same scale of the Baghdad, because the nationalist forces were not as powerful as local Islamic tradtions.[182] The mayor, Sheikh Ahmad Bash-A‘yan, formed a local milita to retore order to the city. Later, while in Palestine for medical reasons, the president of the Jewish community of Basra sent a letter to the Jewish Agency, asking that the sheikh should be recognized for his efforts to save Iraqi Jews.[182] Other Basran locals participated in the defense; Sayyid Muhammad Salih al-Radini, with a group of armed men, threatened two individuals who tried to break into the home of the Jewish Sofer family. The two individuals were later assulted as a “cautionary” measure.[183]

Lebanon edit

Raif Khoury was an early 20th century Lebanese political activist who wrote in Al Tariq, a Lebanese political magazine which served as an outlet of the League Against Nazism and Fascism.[184][185] The League organized anti-fascist conferences in Lebanon, with Khoury often giving speeches at these events.[186] Khoury alerted the Lebanese public through pamphlets and articles, such as in one article saying:

The reader must know that human rights, even in their bourgeois democratic version, are threatened with extinction. How great then must be the threat [posed by Fascism] to the Socialist version of human rights [in the USSR]?! The reader must realize that we are at a turning point of history. This forces us to fight two jihads for human rights: a jihad to preserve the rights guaranteed by bourgeois democracy; and another jihad for an extension of these rights to its Socialist version. Each of these jihads is complementary to the other.[187]

Khoury often used both Islamic religious and socialist secular imagery in his writings, commenting on both the French Revolution and contemporary movements in his writings. He was not alone, papers like al-Hadith, al-Dabbur, Lisan al-Hal and Al-‘Irfan firmly stood with the Allies.[188][189] Salim Khayyata, a member of the Syrian–Lebanese Communist Party, wrote scathing reports on the rise of fascism in Europe and specifically the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.[190][191]

Morocco edit

 
Sultan of Morocco Muhammad V with FDR and Churchill at the 1943 Casablanca Conference

Sultan Mohammed V reportedly refused to sign off on "Vichy's plan to ghettoize and deport Morocco's quarter of a million Jews to the killing factories of Europe," and, in an act of defiance, insisted on inviting all the rabbis of Morocco to the 1941 throne celebrations.[192][193] During the celebrations, loud enough for the French attendees to hear him, he said: "I must inform you that, just as in the past, the Israelites will remain under my protection...I refuse to make any distinction between my subjects."[194] For example, King Mohammed V refused to make the 200,000 Jews who were living in Morocco wear yellow stars, even though this discriminatory practice was enforced in France. He is reported to have said: "There are no Jews in Morocco. There are only subjects."[195] However, the French government did impose some antisemitic laws against the sultan's will.[192]

During the Battle of France, more than 2,100 Moroccan troops were killed and 18,000 were taken prisoner.[73] The Armée d’Afrique later fought in the 1943 Tunisian campaign.

In August 1933, Muhammed al-Kholti, a Moroccan nationalist, wrote "The Jews and Us" in the magazine L’Action du Peuple, calling for an entente between Jews and Muslims.[196] In the magazine L'Avenir Illustré, he wrote:

Do not be mistaken, fellow Jews, Morocco is for Moroccans, that is for us Muslims and for you Jews. It is our duty to collaborate together to defend our homeland. Say it once and for all that you have one homeland [not the Promised Land, but the land where you are now].[196]

Tunisia edit

Tunisia, like Morocco, was a de facto colony, ruled by Ahmed Pasha Bey and Moncef Bey. The Nazis established labor camps in Tunisia, killing over 2,500 Tunisian Jews, including the famous Tunisian Jewish boxer Messaoud Hai Victor Perez, who was sent to Auschwitz and shot during a death march by a German officer.[197][198] Though Ahmed Pasha did sign anti-Jewish legislation, forced by the French Resident-General of Tunisia, Jean-Pierre Esteva, he deliberately stalled implementation of these policies.[199] Moncef Bey went even farther; just eight days after ascending the throne, he awarded the highest royal distinction to about twenty prominent Tunisian Jews. Moncef later went on to say that Tunisian Jews are "his children" like Tunisian Muslims.[200] His prime minister, Mohamed Chenik, regularly warned Jewish leaders of German plans. He helped Jews avoid arrest, intervened to prevent deportations, and even hid individual Jews.[201] Khaled Abdul-Wahab saved several Jewish lives during the Holocaust, and was the first Arab to be nominated for the Righteous Among the Nations.[202][203] So did Si Ali Sakkat, a local land owner, took in sixty Jews who escaped from a nearby labor camp.[204][205][206][207] According to Mathilda Guez, a Tunisian Jew who later became an Israeli politician, Moncef Bey gathered all the senior officials of the realm at the palace and gave them this warning:[208]

The Jews are having a hard time but they are under our patronage and we are responsible for their lives. If I find out that an Arab informer caused even one hair of a Jew to fall, this Arab will pay with his life.

Moncef Bey was later ousted from power, with the French claiming that he was a Nazi collaborator. General Alphonse Juin doubted this charge and tried to prevent his ouster.[209] The real reason he was removed was because he formed the first solely Tunisian government, causing an outcry by French settlers.[210]

Palestine edit

 
Palestinian Arab recruits training in the British army

Many Palestinian commentators denounced Hitler and Nazism. In 1936, the Arab newspaper al-Difa' published an article which contained the following statement: "There will be no peace in Europe until the spirit of the Swastika, ruling Germany today, will be overcome." Newspapers such as Filastin extensively covered Germany's new armament policy. In 1934, the newspaper warned, "Europe will see no peace if it will not keep distance from the spirit of the swastika that dominates Germany today. . . . [Nazism] is an ideology full of disrespect of all peoples; it glorifies the German, and therein lies a danger."[211] In 1933, Filastin would later go on to print that "The Jews are oppressed only because they are Jews, no more, and there is no justification for that."[212] An article in Filastin titled “The Truth about the Hitler Movement: Reasons for the Persecution of the Jews”: denounced Nazi racial ideology, saying:

Hitler followers want to make their race the ruler of all races in the world. One would think, the Nazis are Christians, and is not Christianity a fruit of the Semites and not of the Aryan people? Therefore, the view of Hitler's supporters is very strange.[212]

Editor Yusuf Hanna predicted the "biggest confrontation in history" and he dismissed the idea of a Nazi "preventive war" against Communism: "Nazism does not fight communism, but wants to enslave all peoples." In the summer of 1941, Filastin predicted that Germany could never win a multifront war: "There is no doubt that we will soon witness the time of punishment for Nazi Germany, according to all the bestialities it has committed."[213]

The leftist paper Al-Ghad warned that Palestine was directly threatened by the prospect of an Axis victory: "If Fascism will prevail, and the Arab lands will be enslaved with iron and fire, our struggle for independence will be set back for years."[213] On the outbreak of the war, Al-Ghad argued that Arabs should support Britain over Nazi Germany:

The Arab people . . . stand at the side of those who fight Fascism. The differences between England and the Palestinian Arabs . . . do not change this. Those are local struggles, which have to be delayed until the end of the tensions in the world. . . . We are not stupid [enough] to believe the sentence "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."[213]

Muhammad Najati Sidqi was a Palestinian intellectual and a leftist activist. In 1940, he wrote "The Islamic Traditions and the Nazi Principles: Can They Agree?", in which he argued that Nazism is entirely contrary to Islamic beliefs.[214][215] Sidqi had previously fought for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. He believed that Muslims must pause the fight against Britain and support the war against Germany, which he believed was the greater enemy. He wrote that the racist beliefs of the Germans were in complete disagreement with Islam, citing both Nazi and Islamic sources: "The barbaric theory of Nazi racism fundamentally contradicts the teachings of Islam, since Islam sees in all of its followers one equal essence, as it proclaims that all the believers are brothers.'"[216] Since racial equality is integral to Islam, Nazism "represents the lowest level of concrete greed," going on to describe it as 'chaotic paganism'. He ended the book arguing that Arabs should mobilize for the Allies.

Thousands of Palestinians opposed Amin al-Husseini and Nazi Germany, leading to over 12,000 Palestinian Arab volunteers to serve in the British army.[217][218][219] The Palestine Regiment was composed of both Arabs and Jews, which eventually lead to the formation of the Jewish Brigade consisting of Yishuv Jews.[220] Platoon 401 fought the Germans in the Battle of France and was the last British platoon to be evacuted from France.[221]

Cooperation edit

Egypt edit

Aziz Ali al-Masri was an Egyptian officer who was suspected by the British to be in contact with the Axis early in the war. On May 16, 1941, during the Anglo-Iraqi war, al-Masri attempted to fly to Iraq, but the plane lost power and crashed near Cairo. After he was caught, al-Masri claimed he was actually flying there to stop the rebellion. During an inquiry, it was revealed that, in a meeting with the British Colonel C. M. J. Thornhill on the 12th, he proposed this idea. Whether or not he was telling the truth about his intentions, the fact that Thornhill proposed that Iraq and Egypt should become British dominions in the meeting, which would have angered the Egyptian public if it was revealed and be easy propaganda for the Axis, convinced British authorities to drop the case. Al-Masri was dismissed from his post.[222] His secret clique of anti-British officers as well as prime minister Ali Maher were the precursor to the 1952 Egyptian coup d'état, with many of the same officers involved, including future president of Egypt Anwar Sadat.[223]

Sadat attempted to collaborate with the Axis during the war. His memoirs, Revolt on the Nile (1957) and In Search of Identity (1977), describe how he saw the military as the key to sparking revolution in Egypt, similar to the Urabi Revolt. There were meetings and talk among junior officers as early as 1939 about a potential revolt, with Sadat describing how he wanted to make Egypt "a second Iraq".[224][225] Sadat writes that al-Masri's goal was Beirut, which was under the Vichy government at the time, but since his car broke down on the way, he missed the secret German plane that was intending to transport him. Then he tried to seize an Egyptian plane, but it hit a post on takeoff, grounding it.[226]

After the Abdeen Palace incident, where British troops ordered the Egyptian King Farouk to appoint a pro-Allied prime minister, Sadat furthered his plans for a coup. He met with the Islamist leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna, but was disappointed over his lack of explicit support for the plan.[227] Sadat then met with two German agents in Cairo to discuss his plan, but was caught by the British and sentenced to two years in prison.[228][229]

Iraq edit

 
Tail of a downed bomber in Syria with Iraqi and German markings, December 1941

The German ambassador to Iraq, Fritz Grobba, led a policy of spreading Nazism in Iraq. A local branch of the Nazi party was formed for the German diaspora in Iraq, while trade between Germany and Iraq from 1935 to 1938 doubled. A kindergarten was opened in Baghdad, and Iraqi students with proficiency in German were eligible for free education in Germany. In 1938, the Iraqi Director General of Education and later Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, Muhammad Fadhel al-Jamali, sent a delegation to the Nuremberg Rally, whose leader was personally introduced to Hitler.[230][231] In 1937, Iraqi Jewish students complained to the Ministry of Education about teachers who spread German propaganda in the classroom.[232] Dr. Saib Shawkat, leader of the nationalist Al-Muthanna Club, visited Nazi Germany in 1937.[233]

The historian Edgar Flacker argued that the newspaper al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi was funded by the German legation in Baghdad, though the historian Peter Wien argues that the paper's pro-authoritarian attitudes were not casused by any outside funding, but by genuine belief.[234] A 1934 article in the paper analyzed the political developments of nations since World War One and argued that Japan was the best country to emulate. In 1936, General Bakr Sidqi led a coup against the Iraqi government, the first in its modern history. An article in al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi in April of that year defended the idea of dictatorship. The article argued that dictatorship, a nation led by "strength" and "virture" instead of "words", was needed for Iraq, citing Ataturk's Turkey, Hitler's Germany, and Mussolini's Italy as examples as 'unselfish' rulers making strong decisions based of 'virtue'.[235] In 1935, a letter was published in al-‘Alam al-‘Arabi - which Wien suspects was written by a German living in Iraq - defending the Nazi racial laws.[236]

 
al-Gaylani and Indian nationalist Chandra Bose in a meeting in Berlin. 23 September 1942

On 1 April 1941, the day after General Erwin Rommel launched his Tunisian offensive, the 1941 Iraqi coup d'état, lead by a secret alliance of nationalist politicians called the Golden Square, overthrew the pro-British Kingdom of Iraq. While Nazi Germany was not openly allied with the government of Iraq like Fascist Italy was during the Anglo-Iraqi War,[237][238] it provided air support. On May 30th, Younis al-Sabawi, a leader of the al-Muthana club and whio had previously translated Mein Kampf into Arabic, summoned the Chief Rabbi of Baghdad Sassoon Kadoori. al-Sabawi ordered Kadoori to instruct the Jewish community to lock themselves in their homes for a few days, stay off the telephones, cook enough food for a three-day journey, pack a single suitcase and prepare for transport to detention centers.[239] Kadoori and several other leading members of the Jewish community secretly met with mayor of Baghdad Arshad al-Umari. al-Umari later paid al-Sabawi arounbd 16,000 dinars to flee the city, preventing him from broadcasting his planned anti-semetic speech on the radio.[239]

By June 1st, the leaders of the coup had fled the city, coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. From 1–2 June 1941, immediately after the collapse of the pro-Fascist Rashid Ali government in Iraq, al-Husseini and others inspired a pogrom against the Jewish population of Baghdad known as "the Farhud".[240] Iraqi Jews were massacred in the street and in their houses, while the British army refused to enter until the next day. The estimates of Jewish victims vary from less than 110 to over 600 killed, and from 240 to 2,000 wounded. The historian Edwin Black concludes that the exact numbers will never be known, pointing out the improbability of the initial estimate in the official reports of 110 fatalities that included both Arabs and Jews (including 28 women), as opposed to the claims of Jewish sources that as many as 600 Jews were killed.[241] Similarly, the estimates of Jewish homes destroyed range from 99 to over 900 houses. Though these figures are debated in the secondary literature, it is generally agreed that over 580 Jewish businesses were looted. The Iraqi-Arab Futuwwa youth group—modeled after the Hitler Youth—were widely credited with the Farhud. Saib Shawkat, an Iraqi doctor and leader of the al-Muthanna club, was chief of surgery at Baghdad Medical College, and attended to wounded Iraqi Jews in his hospital. When some of his Jewish nurses reported rape threats by wounded Iraqi officers, he threatened to shoot the officers.[242][243]

On May 4, 1942, members of the Golden Square, Fahmi Said, Mahmud Salman and Yunis al-Sabawi, were sentenced to death and hanged. Kamil Shabib was hanged two years later. Salah al-Din al-Sabbagh fled to Iran and later Turkey, where he was captured and hanged at the entrance of the at the gate of the Ministry of Defense in 1945.[244] Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, the leader of the Square, fled to Iran and then Italy and formed a pro-Nazi government-in-exile, later fleeing to Saudi Arabia, avoiding capture.

Lebanon edit

Shakib Arslan was an Arab writer, poet, historian, politician, and Emir in Lebanon. His critque of colonialism and defense of Islam made him one of the most influential early 20th century Arab intellectuals. His relations with Germany preceded the Nazis; he had stood by Kaiser Willhelm II during a speech he gave in Damascaus where he called Germany 'the protector of 300 million Muslims' in 1898.[245] During the interwar period, he tried to convince German leaders to revive the spirit of the German-Ottoman cooperation during World War One through his colleague Max von Oppenheim. He believed, since Germany and the Arab world shared the same enemies, Britain and France, an alliance between the two was the best hope for independence. In a visit to Berlin in 1934, his request for Nazi assistance for the Arab world was denied by the diplomat Curt Prüfer.[246] He even visited Berlin only three weeks after the invasion of Poland.[247] Arlsan wrote to al-Husseini that "I follow the Axis in the hope that by means of their victory, Islam will be liberated from its slavery".[248] He was also unique in being an apologist for Mussolini and his invasion of Ethiopia, even meeting him multiples times, causing him to be criticized by other Arabs.[249][250][251] Arlsan was approached to translate Mein Kampf in Arabic and wrote articles in Arabic Nazi propaganda.[252]

 
Free Arabian Legion soldiers riding a BMW R75 motorcycle, Balkan Peninsula, 1943.

However, he personally did not agree with Nazism. In 1939, he wrote to Daniel Guérin that, while Germany was the enemy of their enemies, he was not ignorant; if German control over the Arab world became unbearable, "they would have only changed masters".[253][254] In a letter to Muhammad Ali el-Taher, he wrote that Germany 'holds principles I do not share', and in a letter Nuri al-Sa'id he stated that Germany was like any other European country, writing "I do not care for Hitler, nor do I defend him or believe his ideology".[255] In his diary, he wrote that if Italy took over Palestine, it would not liberate the Palestinians, but instead turn it into an Italian colony.[256] His diary also criticized the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, writing:

The oppressed became the oppressor. Hitler obliterated Czechoslovakia’s independence. Czechia [that is, the Sudetenland], became a kind of German district under Germany’s protection (a protectorate), and in fact there is no different between it and Germany’s other districts, apart from the fact that its language is not German, at least for the time being. Slovakia also became an independent state under German protection. Meanwhile, Hungary took over the Ruthenian Ukraine region. I must admit that I had some special sympathy for Germany, because I viewed them as a distinguished people, and in the past I thought that their humiliation (after World War I) was a kind of crime and betrayal. But now, after they have become strong and powerful, they have begun to attack peaceful nations. Even if Hitler succeeds in his path and his policy, still, every person of conscience must feel discomfort from, and even disapproval of Hitler’s deeds, and the matter will even cause serious damage to Germany, because all of Europe will become tense and stand on its guard, and in the end will come out against the German people, which does not really seek such a confrontation. I am also afraid that Hitler’s course will force the democratic governments to try to appease the eastern states, and of course, these developments will have repercussions in the Arab states, and especially in Syria.[257]

It is worth noting that Arslan's objections to Germany and Italy were only made in private; in public he promoted and endorsed these regimes to further his political interests. His view on the situation is best described in an article he wrote in La Nation Arabe: "the enemy of my enemy is my friend, this is the harsh truth".[258]

Morocco edit

Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali was a 20th century Moroccon Salafi Islamic scholar, most famous for English translations of the Quran, known as The Noble Quran, and Sahih al-Bukhari. al-Hilali moved from Iraq to Nazi Germany in 1936 to study Arabic philology, first at the University of Bonn - under the recommendation of the aforementioned Arslan - and then at the University of Berlin.[259] At Bonn, he studied under Orientalist Paul Kahle, who later fled Germany with his wife due to their outspoken opposition to Nazism.[260] During his time in Germany, he became interested in radios, believing that the Muslim world needed to invest in more stations to broadcasts religious teachings. In 1939, he became a speaker for the Arabic station at Radio Berlin, then led by Yunis Bahri.[261] While Bahri relied on nationalism - greeting every broadcast with "Here is Berlin, greetings to the Arabs" - al-Hilali relied on Islamic pride, highlighting French colonialism's suppression of traditional Islam in Morocco.[262] He left Germany in 1942 for Tetouan, Morocco.

Tunisia edit

Habib Bourguiba was a Tunisian nationalist and president of Tunisia from 1957 to 1987. When World War II began, he was residing a French prison in Marseilles alongside his nationalist compatriots, such as Mongi Slim.[263] On November 26, the Italian government requested Germany to release the imprisoned Tunisian leaders. After the prisoners were freed, they were met with Italian representatives, eager to exploit them for Italian control of Tunisia. Bourguiba and his colleagues were transferred to luxurious estates for the meetings. Bourguiba's demands of a government lead by Moncef Bey and a nationalist government were rejected, however. He then refused to work for the Axis unless his political conditions were met, and he asked to be returned to Tunisia. Bourguiba was unimpressed by Axis, and wrote a secret letter around this time:

Our support of the Allies must be without condition. Because for us it is essential that at the end of the war - which now should happen before long - we would find ourselves in the camp of the winners, having contributed, however little, to the common victory.[264]

In an interview after the war, one of Bourguiba's fellow prisoners, Dr. Slimane Ben Slimane, stated:

The truth is that we were all so pro-nazi that we had hoped for the victory of the Axis. We were mistaken but that is how it was. It has to be said, he added, that the first to be doubtful of such a victorious outcome was Bourguiba. As best I remember, one evening in December 1940 we were following on the radio developments in the battle of England when Bourgeiba declared: The battle of England is lost, therefore the Germans will lose the war, it's only a question of time, remember Napoleon. We protested without persuading him.[264]

On February 26, 1943, an Italian plane returned the men to Tunis in a plot to lessen hostilities from the local population, due to the harsh conditions of Arab workers.[265] The German government tried to incite anti-Jewish sentiment in the country.[266] In October 1942, Bourguiba had sent his wife and son back to Tunis with a personal message to the American consulate that the Tunisians could expect nothing from the Germans and he was telling his followers to support the United Nations.[267] Immediately after arriving in Tunisia, he tried to stop any pro-Axis sentiment among the nationalists, understanding that this jeopardized their position post-war. Bourguiba's position during his imprisonment was vague, while he privately denounced the Axis, he willingly presented himself as a useful pawn for Nazi ambitions in the region and was in contact with Amin al-Husseini.[268] He later fled Tunisia after learning that the French government was planning on arresting his for collusion.

Palestine edit

The Palestinian Arab and Nazi political leaders said that they had a common cause against "International Jewry".[citation needed] However, the most significant practical effect of Nazi anti-Jewish policy between 1933 and 1942 was to radically increase the immigration rate of German and other European Jews to Palestine and to double the population of Palestinian Jews. Al-Husseini had sent messages to Berlin through Heinrich Wolff [de], the German consul general in Jerusalem, endorsing the advent of the Nazi regime as early as March 1933, and was enthusiastic over the Nazi anti-Jewish policy, and particularly the anti-Jewish boycott in Nazi Germany. "[The Mufti and other sheikhs asked] only that German Jews not be sent to Palestine."[269]

Until the end of 1937, the Nazi policy for solving the "Jewish Question" emphasized motivating German Jews to emigrate from German territory. During this period, the League of Nations Mandate for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Mandatory Palestine which was supposed to be used as a place of refuge for Jews was "still internationally recognized". The Gestapo and the SS inconsistently cooperated with a variety of Jewish organizations and efforts (e.g., Hanotaiah Ltd., the Anglo-Palestine Bank, the Temple Society Bank, HIAS, Joint Distribution Committee, Revisionist Zionists, and others), most notably in the Haavurah Agreement, to facilitate emigration to Mandatory Palestine.[270]

Nora Levin wrote in 1968: "Up to the middle of 1938, Palestine had received one third of all the Jews who had emigrated from Germany since 1933 – 50,000 out of a total of 150,000."[271] Edwin Black, benefitting from more modern scholarship, has written that 60,000 German Jews immigrated into Palestine between 1933 through 1936, bringing with them $100,000,000 dollars ($1.6 billion in 2009 dollars). This precipitous increase in the Jewish Palestinian population stimulated Palestinian Arab political resistance to continued Jewish immigration, and was a principal cause for the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, which in turn led to the British White Paper decision to abandon the League of Nations Mandate to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine. The resultant change in British policy effectively closed Palestine to most European Jews who were fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II. After 1938 the majority of Zionist organizations adhered to a strategy of "Fighting the White Paper as if there was not War, and fighting the War as if there was no White Paper". Zionists would smuggle Jews in Palestine whenever possible, regardless if this brought them into conflict with the British authorities. At the same time, the Zionists and other Jews would ally themselves to the British struggle against Germany and the Axis powers, even while the British authorities refused to allow the migration of European Jews into Palestine.[272][additional citation(s) needed]

One consequence of al-Husseini's opposition to Britain's mandate in Palestine and his rejection of the British attempts to work out a compromise between Zionists and Palestinian Arabs was that the Mufti was exiled from Palestine. Many of his followers, who had fought in guerilla campaigns against Jews and the British in Palestine, followed him and continued to work for his political goals. Among the most notable Palestinian soldiers in this category was Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, a kinsman and officer of al-Husseini who had been wounded twice in the early stages of the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. Al-Husseini sent Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni to Germany in 1938 for explosives training. Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni then worked with al-Husseini to support the Golden Square regime, and consequently was tried and sent to prison by the British after they recaptured Iraq. He subsequently became the popular leader of approximately 50,000 Palestinian Arabs who joined the Mufti's Army of the Holy War during the 1947-1948 Arab–Israeli War. His fellow Iraq-veteran and German collaborator Fawzi al-Qawuqji became a rival general in that same struggle against Zionism.[273]

After the Kristallnacht pogroms in November 1938, most Jewish and Zionist organizations aligned with Britain and its allies in opposition to Nazi Germany. After this time, the organized assistance which the Gestapo provided to the Jewish organizations which transported European Jews to Palestine became much more sporadic, but bribery of individual Germans frequently enabled the Jewish organizations to accomplish such operations, even after Nazi Germany's official policy discouraged them.[271][page needed]

 
Amin al-Husseini meeting with Heinrich Himmler (1943)

Al-Husseini opposed all immigration of Jews into Palestine. His numerous letters which appealed to various governmental authorities to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine have been widely republished and they have also been cited as documentary evidence of his collaboration with the Nazis and his participative support of their actions. For instance, in June 1943, al-Husseini recommended to the Hungarian minister that it would be better to send the Jewish population of Hungary to the Nazi concentration camps in Poland rather than let them find asylum in Palestine (it is not entirely clear whether al-Husseini was aware of the extermination camps in Poland, e.g. Auschwitz, at this time):

I ask your Excellency to permit me to draw your attention to the necessity of preventing the Jews from leaving your country for Palestine, and if there are reasons which make their removal necessary, it would be indispensable and infinitely preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, for example, in Poland...[274]

Achcar quotes al-Husseini's memoirs about these efforts to influence the Axis powers to prevent emigration of Eastern European Jews to Palestine:

We combatted this enterprise by writing to Ribbentrop, Himmler, and Hitler, and, thereafter, the governments of Italy, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and other countries. We succeeded in foiling this initiative, a circumstance that led the Jews to make terrible accusations against me, in which they held me accountable for the liquidation of four hundred thousand Jews who were unable to emigrate to Palestine in this period. They added that I should be tried as a war criminal in Nuremberg.[275]

Achcar then notes that although al-Husseini's motivation to block Jewish emigration into Palestine:

was certainly legitimate when it was addressed as an appeal to the British mandatory authorities... It had no legitimacy whatsoever when addressed to Nazi authorities who had cooperated with the Zionists to send tens of thousands of German Jews to Palestine and then set out to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The Mufti was well aware that the European Jews were being wiped out; he never claimed the contrary. Nor, unlike some of his present-day admirers, did he play the ignoble, perverse, and stupid game of Holocaust denial... His amour-propre would not allow him to justify himself to the Jews... gloating that the Jews had paid a much higher price than the Germans... he cites: "Their losses in the Second World War represent more than thirty percent of the total number of their people... Statements like this, from a man who was well placed to know what the Nazis had done... constitute a powerful argument against Holocaust deniers. Husseini reports that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler... told him in summer 1943 that the Germans had 'already exterminated more than three million' Jews: "I was astonished by this figure, as I had known nothing about the matter until then."... Thus. in 1943, Husseini knew about the genocide... Himmler... again in the summer of 1941... let him in on a secret that... Germany would have an atomic bomb in three years' time...[276]

In November 1943, when he became aware of the nature of the Nazi Final Solution, al-Husseini said:

It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries ... Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world.[277]

In 1944, the Germans planned a secret Nazi mission to Palestine. Dubbed "Mission Atlas", the mission was prepared in coordination with Amin al-Husseini. The unit was to incite against the British and organize a new Arab rebellion. The mission was carried out on October 5, 1944. The five agents were flown out of Greece, and at midnight they parachuted into Palestine. The mission failed. One of the few contacts in Palestine the mufti had given the agents, Nafith al-Hussaini, told them to leave immediately. Within ten days, all five agents were arrested by the Palestinian police or members of the Arab Legion.[278]

Arab exiles in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy edit

 
The Algerian Saïd Mohammedi (on the left) joined Al-Husseini and assisted the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) during World War II, after which he joined the Algerian Revolution in 1954.

Following the defeat of the Golden Square in Iraq in May–June 1941, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani fled to Iran but was not to stay long. On 25 August 1941, Anglo-Soviet forces invaded Iran, removing Reza Shah from power. Gaylani then fled to German-occupied Europe. In Berlin, he was received by German dictator Adolf Hitler, and he was recognized as the leader of the Iraqi government in exile. Upon the defeat of Germany, Gaylani again fled and found refuge, this time in Saudi Arabia.

Amin al-Husseini arrived in Rome on 10 October 1941. He outlined his proposals before Alberto Ponce de Leon. On condition that the Axis powers "recognize in principle the unity, independence, and sovereignty, of an Arab state, including Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan", he offered support in the war against Britain and stated his willingness to discuss the issues of "the Holy Places, Lebanon, the Suez Canal, and Aqaba". The Italian foreign ministry approved al-Husseini's proposal, recommended giving him a grant of one million lire, and referred him to Benito Mussolini, who met al-Husseini on 27 October. According to al-Husseini's account, it was an amicable meeting in which Mussolini expressed his hostility to the Jews and Zionism.[279]

Back in the summer of 1940 and again in February 1941, al-Husseini submitted to the Nazi German Government a draft declaration of German-Arab cooperation, containing a clause:

Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements, which exist in Palestine and in the other Arab countries, as required by the national and ethnic (völkisch) interests of the Arabs, and as the Jewish question was solved in Germany and Italy.[280]

Al-Husseini helped organize Arab students and North African emigres in Germany into the Free Arabian Legion in the German Army that hunted down Allied parachutists in the Balkans and fought on the Russian front.[281]

Arab incorporation and emulation of Nazism edit

Several emerging movements in the Arab world were alleged to have been influenced by European fascist and Nazi organizations during the 1930s. The fascist[282] pan-Arabist Al-Muthanna Club and its al-Futuwwa (Hitler Youth type)[283] movement, participated in the 1941 Farhud attack on Baghdad's Jewish community.[284][285]

Ahmad Shuqayri, the founder of the PLO, wrote in 1946, "Let it be known that we are not anti-British, anti-Soviet, anti-American or antisemitic. Equally, we are not pro-Nazis, pro-Fascists. We are what we are—Arabs and nothing but Arabs. So help us God."[286] The Palestinian newspaper Falastin would later deny the claim that Palestinian nationalism is derived from Fascism:

The Arab Palestinians don't need Fascists or Nazis to be motivated against the Zionists. The hatred against the Zionist plan in Palestine grew long before Nazism and Fascism. . . . But always, when Arabs protest the pro-Zionist policies of England, we heard: Arab Palestinians learned it from the Nazis. And the English believe this? Reality is different. The Arabs don't expel the Jews from the home, but those foreigners want to push the Arabs out of the country.[212]

Ba'athist Party edit

 
Book cover of "The Myth of the Twentieth Century" by Alfred Rosenberg, which Aflaq bought a copy.

Ba'athism has been criticized by Western observers as similar in form to Nazism, specifically regarding its historic anti-semitism, authoritarian and nationalist tendencies.[287][288] The historian Stephen Wild in his 1985 paper National Socialism in the Arab near East between 1933 and 1939 briefly draws a direct line between these two ideologies. He cites the fact that Michel Aflaq, one of the founding fathers of Ba'athism, purchased a copy of Alfred Rosenburg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century. He also quotes Sami al-Jundi:

Whoever has lived during this period in Damascus will appreciate the inclination of the Arab people to Nazism, for Nazism was the power which could serve as its champion, and he who is defeated will by nature love the victor.

....

We were racialists, admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source of its thought, particularly Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation and H.S. Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century which revolves on the race. We were the first to think of translating Mein Kampf.[289]

The Lebanese academic Gilbert Achcar disagreed with Wild's analysis in his 2010 book, The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.[290] He claims that Wild's translation was out of order, out of context and incorrect. The full, correctly translated al-Jundi quote was:

We were racialists, admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source of its thought, particularly Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation and H.S. Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century and Darré's The Race[b]. We were the first to think of translating Mein Kampf.

Whoever has lived during this period in Damascus will appreciate the inclination of the Arab people to Nazism, for Nazism was the power which could serve as its champion, and he who is defeated will by nature love the victor. But our belief was rather different....

We were idealists, basing social relationships on love. The Master [Zaki al-Arsuzi] used to speak about Christ.[291]

He also cites a 1938 essay by al-Arsuzi where he argues that the two major semitic groups, Arabs and Jews, should unite:

As for the Jews, my opinion is that Arabs and Jews should come to an understanding in this world and cooperate in order to re-establish the Arabs’ glory and realize the Semitic genius, which is the Judeo-Arab genius.[291]

Achcar argues that al-Arsuzi was still a rascist, even drawing criticism by al-Jundi, who called al-Arsuzi a “racist who believed in authenticity and nobility, a man of an aristocratic temperament and turn of mind.”[292] Jalal al-Sayyid, who founded the Ba'ath party with Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar, went further, saying of al-Arsuzi:

“His education had made him too categorical. He made no place for socialist values in his political philosophy and had greater affinities for Nazi or even ancient Roman thought, categorizing people as slaves or masters, nobles or plebeians.”[292]

Achcar believes that Aflaq was more invested in communism during his time in 1930s France, citing the fact he was on the four member editorial committee of the communist Al-tali'a,[c] which produced articles such as "The Nazi Brutes Murder Their Adversaries" and "Everyday Racism under Hitler". Aflaq wrote an article in 1935 where he praises the "communist revolutionary" in contrast to the "fascist warrior".[293] Aflaq later also joined the Lebanese Communist journal Al-Tariq, which published papers for The League Against Nazism and Fascism. Aflaq also published an essay in 1938 which warned against "the nationalism that comes to us from Europe", which Achcar suggests that "no reader could have doubted whose nationalism he had in mind".[294] He summarizes his argument as follows:

The foregoing is by no means intended to excuse the Baaths later degeneration, which, as we will see, was aggravated in the 1960s. Indeed, it is precisely the Baath's decline into dictatorship that makes claims such as Wilds credible in the eyes of nonspecialists. Those who have knowingly spread them, such as [Bernard] Lewis,[d] who can hardly be accused of ignorance of the subject (willful ignorance aside), have done so in the context of a campaign to retrospectively denigrate Arab nationalism and its anti-Zionism. The political motivation is patent. Moreover, as Rene Wildangel points out, arguments based on such isolated elements as the two quotations from Sami al-Jundi—to say nothing of the fact that one has been truncated, a circumstance of which Wildangel himself seems unaware—are made by certain academics with no regard for the scholarly precaution that is one of the elementary intellectual standards of their profession.[295]

Götz Nordbruch in his 2009 book Nazism in Syria and Lebanon: the Ambivalence of the German Option, 1933–1945 claims that Aflaq was neither a member of the Communist Party, nor taking an active role in its activities.[296] Aflaq and al-Bitar organized support for the fascist backed Iraqi government during the Anglo-Iraqi war through the Syrian Committee to Help Iraq.[296][e] Nordbruch translate al-Jundi as:

[they] were the first who thought about translating [Hitler’s] Mein Kampf. Whoever has lived through this period in Damascus will have noticed the inclination of the Arab people towards Nazism. Nazism was the force that took revenge for them. The defeated naturally admire the victorious. We, however, were of a different school.[297]

Nordbruch writes on the relationship between early Ba'athist thinkers and Nazism:[298]

Despite Jundi’s insistence that Ba‘thism was indeed a ‘different school’, Nazism obviously figured prominently in these circles’ reflections on society, history, and culture. Although neither Arsuzi nor ‘Aflaq explicitly introduced National Socialist ideologists in their writings, Jundi’s account illustrates the topicality of Nazism as an intellectual point of reference. In this context, two facets of early Ba'thist ideology are important. While the elaboration of Ba‘thism was still in its initial beginnings, already in the writings of the early 1940s two central ideas are discernible: the idea of an ‘eternal message’ (al-risala al-khalida) attributed to the Arab nation and the construction of communism as the ultimate negation of national thought. Both facets are related to each other, as well as to the very concept of nationalism that was further developed in post-war Ba'thist reflections. .... Despite a lack of explicit references to National Socialist sources, these writings resonated with tropes that were attributed to National Socialist thought. Considering the assumption of a particular and eternal message, in the early sources of Ba'thism, traces of essentialist imaginations of a superior Arab nation can already be identifi ed. Even more so, the Ba'thist perception of communism as an antinational Weltanschauung symbolizing the threats to the community noticeably paralleled National Socialist anti-communist agitation.

Young Egypt edit

The Young Egypt Party was founded in 1933, and has been criticized as 'fascist'. The party had a youth wing, the 'Green Shirts', which engaged in marches and street battles with the Wafd's Blue Shirts.[299] The founder and leader of the party, Ahmed Hussein had visited Nazi Germany, where he praised the Reichsarbeitsdienst, the organized labor service, as 'a return to true Islamic society, when there was no employer and no employee but all were brothers co-operating together.'[300][301] In a letter to Hitler, Hussein praised the economic situation and the 'end of class struggle' through compulsory work.[300]

However, Hussein would later criticize Hitler during the Munich Crisis: "If war breaks out now, after all the efforts and sacrifices which England and France have made and which Czechoslovakia has accepted, the meaning of all that is that Hitler is a madman who wishes to destroy the world in order to satisfy his arrogance and his desires."[300] The expansionist policy of the Axis powers was criticized as a 'hysteria of conquest and aggression'.[302] The historian James Jankowski wrote: "All of this should not be taken to mean that Young Egypt was totally negative towards the fascist states; as we shall see in the next chapter, fascist ideas had a considerable impact on the movement, particularly in the later 1930's. But it does show that Young Egypt was not acting as an apologist for the Axis powers in the tense year before the war."[302]

Syrian Social Nationalist Party edit

 
Flag of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) was founded by Antoun Saadeh in 1932 adopted styles of fascism. Its emblem, the red hurricane, was taken from the Nazi swastika,[303] leader Antoun Saadeh was known as az-Za'im (the leader), and the party anthem was sung to the same tune as the German national anthem.[304] He founded the SSNP with a program that Syrians were "a distinctive and naturally superior race".[305] However, when Saadeh found out that the Argentinian branch of the SSNP newspaper had been voicing its outright support for Nazi Germany and the Axis powers, he issued a lengthy letter to the editor-in-chef, restating that the SSNP is not a National Socialist party and that no stance should be taken vis-à-vis the Allies or the Axis.[306]

Views on historical representation edit

The Arabic-speaking world has attracted particular attention from historians examining Fascism beyond Europe. Focusing exclusively on pro-Nazi and pro-Fascist forces, these scholars have tended to emphasize the appeal that Fascism and Nazism had across the Arab world. More recently however, this narrative has been challenged by a number of scholars[307] who assert that Arab political debates in the 1930s and 1940s were quite complex. Fascism and Nazism, they argue, were discussed alongside other political ideologies, such as communism, liberalism, and constitutionalism. Moreover, the recent revisionist works have stressed the anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi voices and movements in the Arab world.[308][309]

The first example of this issue was in 1946, when the American Christian Palestine Committee published "The Arab War Effort, a documented account", arguing that Arabs were eager collaborators with the Axis and only reluctantly worked with the Allies.[310] This sparked a response by the Egyptian nationalist Ahmed Hussein, arguing the document deliberately ignored and underplayed Egypt's contribution to the Allies in the war.[311]

The Israeli historian Israel Gershoni, author of Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism - Attraction and Repulsion, described how the Arab–Israeli conflict has created a war of narratives, where history is used for modern politics, overemphasizing certain events to paint an image of eager collaboration:

The grand mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and his active involvement in the Jewish genocide have figured prominently in Israeli efforts to prove the tangible collaboration between the "Arab world" and Nazis. Here, it is imperative to distinguish between "official" and academic efforts. Although scholars are certainly more cautious in depicting the Husayni and Arab-Nazi collaboration, sometimes their work mirrors the generalization that indicts Arabs at large as active supporters or sympathizers with Nazism. The Arab-Israeli conflict's escalation and its redefinition as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict reinforced this mutual demonization. On the Israeli-Jewish side, it has triggered an emphasis on Holocaust denial and extensive, sometimes disproportionate, study of the intimate Nazi-mufti collaboration that is embodied by Husayni's unabashed enthusiasm for Nazi antisemitism and his historical role in the atrocities.

— Israel Gershoni, Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism - Attraction and Repulsion, p. 3.

Gilbert Achcar, a professor of Development Studies at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, argues that historical narratives often overemphasize collaboration and under-appreciate progressive Arab political history, overshadowing the many dimensions of conflict between Nazism and the Arab World. He accuses Zionists of promulgating a 'collaborationist' narrative for partisan purposes. He proposes that the dominant Arab political attitudes were 'anti-colonialism' and 'anti-Zionism,' though only a comparatively small faction adopted antisemitism, and most Arabs were actually pro-Ally and anti-Axis (as evidenced by the high number of Arabs who fought for Allied forces). Achcar states:

The Zionist narrative of the Arab world is based centrally around one figure who is ubiquitous in this whole issue—the Jerusalem Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who collaborated with the Nazis. But the historical record is actually quite diverse. The initial reaction to Nazism and Hitler in the Arab world and especially from the intellectual elite was very critical towards Nazism, which was perceived as a totalitarian, racist and imperialist phenomenon. It was criticized by the liberals or what I call the liberal Westernizers, i.e. those who were attracted by Western liberalism, as well as by the Marxists and left-wing nationalists who denounced Nazism as another form of imperialism. In fact, only one of the major ideological currents in the Arab world developed a strong affinity with Western anti-Semitism, and that was Islamic fundamentalism—not all Islam or Islamic movements but those with the most reactionary interpretations of Islam. They reacted to what was happening in Palestine by espousing Western anti-Semitic attitudes.[312]

According to Gilbert Achcar, there was no unified Arab perception of Nazism:

In the first place, there is no such thing as Arabs. To speak in the singular of an Arab discourse is an aberration. The Arab world is driven by a multiplicity of points of view. At the time, one could single out four major ideological currents, which extend from western liberalism, through Marxism and nationalism, to Islamic fundamentalism. In regard to these four, two, namely western liberalism and Marxism, clearly rejected Nazism, in part, they rejected Nazism on shared grounds (such as the heritage of enlightenment thinkers, and the denunciation of Nazism as a form of racism), partially because of their geopolitical affiliations. On this issue, Arab nationalism is contradictory. If one looks into it closely, however, the number of nationalistic groups which identified themselves with Nazi propaganda turns out to be quite scaled-down. There is only one clone of Nazism in the Arab world, namely the Syrian social national party, which was founded by a Lebanese Christian, Antoun Saadeh. The Young Egypt Party flirted with Nazism for a time, but it was a fickle, weathercock party. As for accusations that the Ba'ath party was, from the very outset in the 1940s, inspired by Nazism, they are completely false.[313]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The Auschwitz Memorial and Museum puts the number of Muslims at 58, but this includes Muslim Soviets prisoners of war "Which Religious Denominations Did the People Deported to Auschwitz Belong To?". www.auschwitz.org. 24 April 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2023. A text search on https://memorial-archives.international/searches/search , a website dedicated to archiving the names of victims of the Holocaust, returns 109 results for the search "Moamed OR Mohammed OR Mohamed OR Mohamet OR Mehmed"
  2. ^ Achcar argues that the two paragraphs were out of order in the Wild's 1985 paper. He also claimed that Wild mistranslated "and Darré's The Race" as "which revolves around race". "Darré's The Race" refers to Richard Walther Darré's 'Neuadel aus Blut und Boden' which was translated into Franch as "La race: Nouvelle noblesse du sang et du sol". (Achcar, 2010, pg. 66)
  3. ^ Not to be confused with the Egyptian magazine founded in 1965 with the same name.
  4. ^ Bernard Lewis cites Wild (1985) in the 1999 edition of "Semites and Anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice" pg.280, calling it "a scholarly and scrupulously objective study of the issue"
  5. ^ al-Arsuzi disagreed with the committee saying "I do not cooperate with anyone. It is better that we stand on our feet". In a response to al-Jundi, he elaborated: "Are you crazy? The British are encircling Syria from all sides, they will soon occupy us. Do you want us to be hanged like traitors – without even any profit for the people?!" (Nordbruch, 2009, pg.179)

References edit

  1. ^ Copeland, Miles. The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA's original operative. 1989. Page 181. "Most of them (the Nazis) were anti-Arab, although they had the wit to conceal that fact."
  2. ^ a b c d Herf, Jeffrey (December 2009). "Nazi Germany's Propaganda Aimed at Arabs and Muslims During World War II and the Holocaust: Old Themes, New Archival Findings". Central European History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 42 (4): 709–736. doi:10.1017/S000893890999104X. JSTOR 40600977. S2CID 145568807.
  3. ^ Bougarel, Xavier; Korb, Alexander; Petke, Stefan; Zaugg, Franziska (2016) [2016]. "Muslim SS units in the Balkans and the Soviet Union". In Böhler, Jochen; Gerwarth, Robert (eds.). The Waffen-SS: A European History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 252–283. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790556.003.0008. ISBN 9780198790556. OCLC 970401339. S2CID 133436194.
  4. ^ a b c d  • "Hajj Amin al-Husayni: Wartime Propagandist". Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2020. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
     • "Hajj Amin al-Husayni: Arab Nationalist and Muslim Leader". Holocaust Encyclopedia. Washington, D.C.: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2020. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Spoerl, Joseph S. (January 2020). "Parallels between Nazi and Islamist Anti-Semitism". Jewish Political Studies Review. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 31 (1/2): 210–244. ISSN 0792-335X. JSTOR 26870795. Archived from the original on 9 June 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
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  177. ^ Batatu, Hanna (1978). The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq: A Study of Iraq's Old Landed and Commercial Classes and of its Communists, Ba'thists and Free Officers. Princeton University Press. pp. 453–455. ISBN 978-0-86356-5205. To His Excellency, the Esteemed Prime Minister Rashīd Ālī al-Gailānī: The Iraqi Communist Party congratulates your Excellency on the affection and backing you have won among the people ... On this basis and in such spirit and driven by its sense of national duty, the Communist Party feels called upon to present to your Excellency its opinion in regard to certain matters . . . which are prejudicial to the national movement. In the first place, the Communist Party regrets, nay abhors, the acts of provocation hatched against our Jewish brethren by the retainers of British imperialism on the one side, and the propagandists of German imperialism on the other. The violation of liberties, the intrusion into homes, the plundering of possessions, the beating and even murder of people are, your Excellency, acts which not only contravene law and justice but run counter to this nation's natural disposition for generosity, gallantry, and highmindedness. . . . Such criminal acts injure the reputation of the national movement and lead to a fissure in the ranks of the united national front and hence to failure and who could benefit from this but the imperialists? While thus expressing our disapproval, we do not in the least deny the existence of traiors who belong to the Jewish sect and who have made common cause with the wicked band of 'Abd-ul-Ilāh and Nurī as-Sa'īd and their henchmen but we feel that punishment should be meted out to them according to the provisions of the law. Secondly, we are of the opinion that in regard to propaganda, the directorate concerned should orient the Iraqi people along proper nationalist lines but we have observed not without distress . . . that it has deviated into paths which could only bring harm to the people. . . . Lately we have heard only drummings about the "just cause" of the Axis powers . . . and you, no doubt, agree with us, your Excellency, that the powers in question are no less imperialist than Britain. Thirdly, there is the matter of foreign assistance. . . . To depend on the help of any imperialist state is tantamount to a betrayal of the movement and a lapse into another imperialism and this is surely what your Excellency does not desire. . . . We are dwelling on this point in view of the widely spread report, attributed to a responsible source, that foreign troops will arrive in the capital allegedly in order to defend the independence of Iraq side by side with the brave Iraqi army. If, contrary to what we hope, this is true, then our national movement has been sullied and become part of the Second Imperialist War, a war from which we warned the country to hold aloof. . . . Moreover, we asserted in the past and we now assert once again that the only state on which we could depend without the slightest risk to our national sovereignty is the Soviet Union.
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  223. ^ Tripp 1993, p. 66"It is, therefore, significant that a number of the Free Officers who were to be responsible for the overthrow of the king in 1952 obtained their political ‘initiation’ within the army through Ali Mahir’s secret Officers’ Organisation. The most obvious examples are Yusuf Mansur Sadiq, Abd al-Wahhab Salim al-Bishri and Muhammad Rashad Mahanna. In addition, Muhammad Nagib and his brother Ali were members of the organisation. Indeed, it has been suggested that virtually all of the most prominent Free Officers were members of what became known later as King Faruq’s ‘Iron Guard’. This claim should be treated with caution. Nevertheless, one of its aspects receives unwitting corroboration by one of the Free Officers, Anwar al-Sadat."
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  230. ^ Herf 2006, p. 31"In December 1937, Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Hitler Youth, while on a trip through the Middle East, invited the Iraqi government to send twenty young people to the Reichsparteitag in summer 1938 as guests of the Hitler Youth organization. The Iraqi government accepted the invitation, and a group of young people went to Nuremberg."
  231. ^ Wien 2008, p. 47"There is only the example of Mahmid al-Watari, a former Arabic teacher of Sha’al during primary education at the Alliance school. He had not heard of him until 1938, when one day the Baghdadi newspapers published a report on their front pages that an Iraqi mission headed by al-Watari had returned from Berlin. It had paid a visit to the teachers of the Nazi capital and its associations, responding to a special invitation by Goebbels to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two peoples. There was a picture in the papers of al-Watari shaking hands with Goebbels."
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  303. ^ Rolland, John C. (2003). Lebanon: current issues and background. Nova Publishers. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-59033-871-1.
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  307. ^ Among them are the works by Peter Wien (2006) and Orit Bashkin (2009) on Iraq, Rene Wildangel (2007) on Palestine, Götz Nordbruch (2009) on Lebanon and Syria, and Israel Gershoni and James Jankowski (2010) on Egypt.
  308. ^ Motadel, David (3 March 2016). "Arab Responses to Fascism and Nazism: Attraction and Repulsion, edited by Israel Gershoni". Middle Eastern Studies. 52 (2): 377–379. doi:10.1080/00263206.2015.1121872. S2CID 147486609.
  309. ^ Wien, Peter (2016). Arab Nationalism: The Politics of History and Culture in the Modern Middle East. London: Routledge. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-315-41219-1. OCLC 975005824. Until recently, European and Anglo-American research on these topics – often based on a history of ideas approach – tended to take for granted the natural affinity of Arabs towards Nazism. More recent works have contextualized authoritarian and totalitarian trends in the Arab world within a broad political spectrum, choosing subaltern perspectives and privileging the analysis of local voices in the press over colonial archives and the voices of grand theoreticians.
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  312. ^ Murphy, Maureen Clare (9 January 2011). "The Holocaust, Palestine and the Arab World: Gilbert Achcar interviewed". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  313. ^ Christophe Ayad, Gilbert Achcar ‘Sait-on qu‘un Palestinien a créé un musée de l’Holocauste?, at Libération 27 March 2010.'D'abord, les Arabes, ça n'existe pas. Parler d'un discours arabe au singulier est une aberration. Le monde arabe est traversé par une multitude de points de vue. A l'époque, on pouvait distinguer quatre grands courants idéologiques, qui vont de l'occidentalisme libéral à l'intégrisme islamique en passant par le marxisme et le nationalisme. Sur ces quatre courants, deux rejetaient clairement le nazisme : l'occidentalisme libéral et le marxisme, en partie pour des raisons communes (l'héritage des lumières, la dénonciation du nazisme comme racisme), et en partie à cause de leurs affiliations géopolitiques. Le nationalisme arabe est contradictoire sur cette question. Mais si on regarde de près, le nombre de groupes nationalistes qui se sont identifiés à la propagande nazie est finalement très réduit. Il y a un seul clone du nazisme dans le monde arabe, c'est le Parti social nationaliste syrien, fondé par un chrétien libanais, Antoun Saadé. Le mouvement égyptien Jeune Egypte a flirté un temps avec le nazisme, mais c'était un parti girouette. Quant aux accusations selon lesquelles le parti Baas était d'inspiration nazie à sa naissance dans les années 40, elles sont complètement fausses.

Bibliography edit

General reading edit

Nazi Germany's Arab Policy edit

Arab World edit

Egypt edit

  • Gershoni, Israel (2018). "Demon and Infidel: Egyptian Intellectuals Confronting Hitler and Nazism during World War II". In Nicosia, Francis R.; Ergene, Boğaç A. (eds.). Nazism, the Holocaust, and the Middle East: Arab and Turkish Responses. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781785337840. LCCN 2017050574.
  • Gershoni, Israel (2010). Confronting Fascism in Egypt: Dictatorship vs Democracy in the 1930s. Standford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-6343-1.
  • Tripp, Charles (1993). "Ali Mahir and the Politics of the Egyptian Army, 1936–1942". Contemporary Egypt: Through Egyptian eyes. Routledge. pp. 45–71. ISBN 9780203413166.

Palestine edit

Syria and Lebanon edit

Iraq edit

French North Africa edit

Algeria edit
  • Roberts, Sophie B (2017). "Rupture: Vichy, State Antisemitism, and the Crémieux Decree". Citizenship and Antisemitism in French Colonial Algeria, 1870–1962. Cambridge University Press. pp. 250–296. ISBN 978-1-107-18815-0.
  • Kalman, Samuel (2013). French Colonial Fascism: The Extreme Right in Algeria, 1919-1939. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137307095.
Morocco edit
Tunisia edit

External links edit