reply to post by Thetawave
Ties with the Axis Powers during World War II
The nature of al-Husseini's support for the Axis powers, and his alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy is hotly disputed. Some, like Renzo de
Felice, deny that the relationship can be taken to reflect a putative affinity of Arab nationalism with Nazi/Fascist ideology, and that men like
Husseini chose them as allies for purely strategic reasons, on the grounds that, as Husseini later wrote in his memoirs,'the enemy of your enemy
is your friend', others think that Husseini's motives were deeply inflected by antisemitism from the outstart.
In 1933, within weeks of Hitler's rise to power in Germany, the German Consul-General in Palestine, the pro-nazi Heinrich Wolff, sent a telegram
to Berlin reporting al-Husseini's belief that Palestinian Muslims were enthusiastic about the new regime and looked forward to the spread of Fascism
throughout the region. Wolff met al-Husseini and many sheiks again, a month later, at Nabi Musa. They expressed their approval of the anti-Jewish
boycott in Germany and asked Wolff not to send any Jews to Palestine. Wolff subsequently wrote in his annual report for that year that the
Arabs' political naïvety led them to fail to recognize the link between German Jewish policy and their problems in Palestine, and that their
enthusiasm for Nazi Germany was devoid of any real understanding of the phenomenon. The various proposals by Palestinian notables like
al-Husseini were rejected consistently over the years out of concern to avoid disrupting Anglo-German relations, in line with Germany's policy of not
imperilling their economic and cultural interests in the region by a change in their policy of neutrality, and respect for English interests.
Hitler's Englandpolitik essentially precluded significant assistance to Arab leaders. Italy also made the nature of its assistance to the
Palestinians contingent on the outcome of its own negotiations with England, and cut off aid when it appeared that the English were ready to admit the
failure of their pro-Zionist policy in Palestine. Al-Husseini's adversary, Ze'ev Jabotinsky had at the same time cut off Irgun ties with Italy
after the passage of antisemitic racial legislation.
Though Italy did offer substantial aid, some German assistance also trickled through. After asking the new German Consul-General, Hans Döhle on 21
July 1937 for support, the Abwehr briefly made an exception to its policy and gave some limited aid. But this was aimed to exert pressure on England
over Czechoslovakia. Promised arms shipments never eventuated. This was not the only diplomatic front on which al-Husseini was active. A month
after his visit to Döhle, he met with the American Consul George Wadsworth (August 1937), to whom he professed his belief that America was remote
from imperialist ambitions and therefore able to understand that Zionism 'represented a hostile and imperialist aggression directed against an
inhabited country’. In a further interview with Wadsworth on August 31, he expressed his fears that Jewish influence in the United States might
persuade the country to side with Zionists. In the same period he courted the French government by expressing a willingness to assist them in the
 In the Middle East
See also: 1941 Iraqi coup d'état, Anglo-Iraqi War, and Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia
With the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the Iraqi Government complied with a British request to break off diplomatic relations
with Germany, and interned all German nationals, and introduce emergency measures putting Iraq on a virtual war-footing. A circle of 7 officers
opposed this decision and the measures taken. With Nuri as-Said's agreement - he wished to persuade al-Husseini of the value of the British White
Paper of 1939 - they invited al-Husseini to Iraq in October 1939, and he was to play an influential role there in the following two years. A
quadrumvirate of four younger generals among the seven, three of whom had served with al-Husseini in WW1, were hostile to the idea of subordinating
Iraqi national interests to Britain's war strategy and requirements. In March 1940, the nationalist Rashid Ali replaced Nuri as-Said. Ali
made covert contacts with German representatives in the Middle East, though he was not yet an openly pro-Axis supporter, and al-Husseini's personal
secretary Kemal Hadad acted as a liaison between the Axis powers and these officers.
In mid May 1940, despairing of their ability to secure control of Iraq's oil fields and deny access to Germany, the British turned to the extremist
Irgun, approaching one of its commanders, David Raziel, whom they had imprisoned in Palestine. They asked him if he would undertake to destroy Iraq's
oil refineries, and thus turn off the spigots to Germany. Raziel agreed on condition he be allowed to kidnap the Mufti and bring him back to
Palestine. The mission plan was changed at the last moment, however, and Raziel died when his plane was shot down by a German fighter..
When the Anglo-Iraqi War broke out, like many clerics in Iraq, al-Husseini issued a fatwa for a holy war against Britain. When the coup d'état
failed, - what little German and Italian assistance was given played a negligible role in the war - he escaped to Persia, where he was granted
legation asylum first by Japan, and then by Italy. On October 8, after the occupation of Persia by the Allies and after the new Persian government of
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi severed diplomatic relations with the Axis powers, al-Husseini fled through Turkey to Axis Europe. Specifically,
he fled to Fascist Italy with the Italian diplomats who provided him with an Italian service passport. To avoid recognition, al-Husseini changed his
appearance by shaving his beard and dying his hair.
 In Nazi-occupied Europe
Al-Husseini arrived in Rome on October 11, 1941, and immediately contacted Italian Military Intelligence (Servizio Informazioni Militari, or SIM). He
presented himself as head of a secret Arab nationalist organization with offices in all Arab countries. 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 October 27. According to al-Husseini's account, it was an amicable meeting in which Mussolini expressed his hostility to the Jews and
Back in the summer of 1940 and again in February 1941, al-Husseini submitted to the 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
Now, encouraged by his meeting with the Italian leader, al-Husseini prepared a draft declaration, affirming the Axis support for the Arabs on November
3. In three days, the declaration, slightly amended by the Italian foreign ministry, received the formal approval of Mussolini and was forwarded to
the German embassy in Rome. On November 6, al-Husseini arrived in Berlin, where he discussed the text of his declaration with Ernst von Weizsäcker
and other German officials. In the final draft, which differed only marginally from al-Husseini's original proposal, the Axis powers declared their
readiness to approve the elimination (Beseitigung) of the Jewish National Home in Palestine.
Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941).
On November 20, al-Husseini met the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on November
28. He asked Hitler for a public declaration that 'recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that
would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland'. Hitler refused to make such a public announcement, saying that it would strengthen
the Gaullists against the Vichy France, but asked al-Husseini to 'to lock ...deep in his heart' the following points, which Christopher
Browning summarizes as follows, that
‘Germany has resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time, direct a
similar appeal to non-European nations as well'. When Germany had defeated Russia and broken through the Caucasus into the Middle East, it would have
no further imperial goals of its own and would support Arab liberation... But Hitler did have one goal. "Germany’s objective would then be solely
the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power". (Das deutsche Ziel würde dann lediglich
die Vernichtung des im arabischen Raum unter der Protektion der britischen Macht lebenden Judentums sein). In short, Jews were not simply to be driven
out of the German sphere but would be hunted down and destroyed even beyond it.’
Al-Husseini meeting with Muslim volunteers, including the Legion of Azerbaijan, at the opening of the Islamic Central Institute in Berlin on 18
December 1942, during the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.
A separate record of the meeting was made by Fritz Grobba, who until recently had been the German ambassor to Iraq. His version of the crucial words
reads 'when the hour of Arab liberation comes, Germany has no interest there other than the destruction of the power protecting the Jews".
Al-Husseini's own account of this point, as recorded in his diary, is very similar to Grobba's.
In December 1942, al-Husseini held a speech at the celebration of the opening of the Islamic Central Institute (Islamische Zentralinstitut) in Berlin,
of which he served as honorary chair. In the speech, he harshly criticised those he considered as aggressors against Muslims, namely "Jews,
Bolsheviks and Anglo-Saxons." At the time of the opening of the Islamic Central Institute, there were an estimated 3,000 Muslims in Germany,
including 400 German converts. The Islamic Central Institute gave the Muslims in Germany institutional ties to the 'Third Reich'.
 The Holocaust
Al-Husseini had been residing in Berlin during the war, though denied knowing of the Holocaust in the aftermath trial.
On November 2, 1943, Himmler sent a telegram to the Mufti: To the Grand Mufti: The National Socialist movement of Greater Germany has, since its
inception, inscribed upon its flag the fight against the world Jewry. It has therefore followed with particular sympathy the struggle of
freedom-loving Arabs, especially in Palestine, against Jewish interlopers. In the recognition of this enemy and of the common struggle against it lies
the firm foundation of the natural alliance that exists between the National Socialist Greater Germany and the freedom-loving Muslims of the whole
world. In this spirit I am sending you on the anniversary of the infamous Balfour declaration my hearty greetings and wishes for the successful
pursuit of your struggle until the final victory. Reichsfuehrer S.S. Heinrich Himmler
Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Heinrich Himmler (1943).
Husseini intervened on May 13, 1943, with the German Foreign Office to block possible transfers of Jews from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, after
reports reached him that 4000 Jewish children accompanied by 500 adults had managed to reach Palestine. He asked that the Foreign Minister "to do his
utmost" to block all such proposals and this request was complied with. A year later, on the 25 July 1944, he wrote to the Hungarian foreign
minister to register his objection to the release of certificates for 900 Jewish children and 100 adults for transfer from Hungary, fearing they might
end up in Palestine. He suggested that if such transfers of population were deemed necessary, then:-
"it would be indispensable and infinitely preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, as
for example Poland, thus avoiding danger and preventing damage."
Among the acts of sabotage al-Husseini attempted to implement, Michael Bar Zohar reports a chemical warfare assault on the second largest and
predominantly Jewish city in Palestine, Tel Aviv. According to him, five parachutists were sent with a toxin to dump into the water system. The police
caught the infiltrators in a cave near Jericho, and according to Jericho district police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi, 'The laboratory report stated
that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers.'. Medoff concludes,
Under Husseini's direction, teams of Arab saboteurs were parachuted into Iraq, Transjordan and Palestine, where they attacked Allied facilities
such as telephone lines, pipelines, bridges and railways. One such sabotage team was armed with a substantial quantity of poison that they were
supposed to dump into the Tel Aviv water system. (In a separate but related matter, the Mufti repeatedly urged the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem 'in order to injure Palestinian Jewry and for propaganda purposes in the Arab world', as his Nazi interlocutors put it. The proposals were
rejected as militarily unfeasible.
Wolfgang G. Schwanitz notes that in his memoirs Husseini recalled that Heinrich Himmler, in the summer of 1943, while confiding some German war
secrets, inveighed against Jewish "war guilt", and, speaking of Germany’s persecution of the Jews said that "up to now we have exterminated (in
Arabic, abadna) around three million of them". In his memoirs, Husseini wrote he was astonished to hear this. Schwanitz doubts the sincerity of his
surprise since, he argues, Husseini had publicly declared that Muslims should follow the example Germans set for a "definitive solution to the Jewish
In September 1943, intense negotiations to rescue 500 Jewish children from the town of Arbe in Croatia collapsed due to the objection of al-Husseini
who blocked the children's departure to Turkey because they would end up in Palestine.
Recent Nazi documents uncovered in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Military Archive Service in Freiburg  by two researchers, Klaus
Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers indicated that in the event of the British being defeated in Egypt by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel's Afrika
Korps the Nazis had planned to deploy a special unit called Einsatzkommando Ägypten to exterminate Palestinian Jews and that they wanted Arab support
to prevent the emergence of a Jewish state.
 Propaganda and recruitment
Insignia of the 13th Handschar Division
November 1943 al-Husseini greeting Bosnian Waffen-SS volunteers.
Throughout World War II, al-Husseini worked for the Axis Powers as a broadcaster in propaganda targeting Arab public opinion. The Mufti was paid “an
absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year). Walter Winchell called him 'the
Arabian Lord Haw-Haw.'
He recruited Muslim volunteers for the German armed forces operating in the Balkans. Beginning in 1941, al-Husseini visited Bosnia, and convinced
Muslim leaders that a Muslim S.S. division would be in the interest of Islam. In spite of these and other propaganda efforts, "only half of the
expected 20,000 to 25,000 Muslims volunteered'. Al-Husseini was involved in the organization and recruitment of Bosnian Muslims into several
divisions of the Waffen SS and other units. The largest was the 13th Handschar division of 21,065 men, which conducted operations against Communist
partisans in the Balkans from February 1944, committing numerous atrocities against their traditional ethnic rivals the local Christian
In 1942, al-Husseini helped organize Arab students and North African emigres in Germany into the "Arabisches Freiheitkorps," an Arab Legion in the
German Army that hunted down Allied parachutists in the Balkans and fought on the Russian front.
On March 1, 1944, while speaking on Radio Berlin, al-Husseini said: 'Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever
you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.' He was promised the leadership of
Palestine after German troops had driven out the British. At the end of the war, he was allowed to flee to Syria as part of an attempt to prevent
the alienation of Middle Eastern regimes.[