When Iran announced that it wanted to host a conference on the Holocaust, apparently it was not venturing into unfamiliar territory. Edwin Black, author of IBM and the Holocaust, writes in a January article for The San Francisco Chronicle:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has shot to the forefront of Holocaust denial with his rabble-rousing remarks last month. But it's more like self-denial. The president of Iran need only look to his country's Hitler-era past to discover that Iran and Iranians were strongly connected to the Holocaust and the Hitler regime, as was the entire Islamic world under the leadership of the mufti of Jerusalem.The lynchpin was the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, who shortly after the outbreak of WWII, formed an alliance with Hitler. In an article for The History News Network, Iraq's Jewish Pogrom and World War II, Black writes:
In Iraq, the Mufti set up a new and powerful base. He conspired with a group of pro-Nazi Iraqi officers, known as the "Golden Square," to overthrow the Regent. The Mufti also entered into a secret pact with Germany, offering Iraq's precious oil in exchange for the destruction of the Jews of Palestine and the Reich's support of Arab national aspirations across the Middle East. Hitler himself was anxious to thwart Britain's domination of the oil-rich Middle East and secure the oil needed to fuel his planned invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. So he went along with the idea, even though the Nazis reviled "the Arab race." (In this article Black chronicles how the British enlisted the help of the Irgun to blow up Iraqi refineries)In his article for the Chronicle, Black describes how:
o Iran was a safe haven for Gestapo officersAlso in Iran, the Mufti tried to achieve in Iran what had failed in Iraq:
o Iran was where the idea for the pro-Nazi coup in Iraq in 1941 originated
o Iran was where many German airmen fled after the failed Iraqi coup
o Iran was the Mufti's base for a while, during which time he called for the destruction of the Jews and the defeat of the British
The plan once again was for a total diversion of oil from the Allies to the Nazis, in exchange for the accelerated destruction of the Jews in Eastern Europe and the Nazis' support for an Arab state. Through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., Iran had already been supplying Hitler's forces in occupied Czechoslovakia and Austria.After Britain and Russia invaded Iran to break up the Iran-Nazi alliance, the Mufti escaped and from Berlin and other fascist countries he called for the destruction of the Jews. Black notes:
Now, the mufti agitated to cut off the British and the Allies completely and supply Germany in its push against Russia.
In Tehran's marketplace, it was common to see placards that declared, "In heaven, Allah is your master. On Earth, it is Adolf Hitler."But Iranian cooperation with the Nazis went beyond its borders:
When the mufti raised three divisions of Islamic Waffen SS to undertake cruel operations in Bosnia, among the 30,000 killers were some volunteer contingents from Iran. Iranian Nazis, along with the other Muslim Waffen SS, operated under the direct supervision of Heinrich Himmler and were responsible for barbarous actions against Jews and others in Bosnia. Recruitment for the murderous "Handschar Divisions" was done openly in Iran.The unit, however, was basically Yugoslavian. According to one site quoting sources:
According to the National Review:
According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (Edition 1990, Volume 2, Pages 706 and 707), Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, made a major contribution to the Nazi war effort by organizing "in record time" Muslim SS units in Croatia. These units were involved in some of the worst atrocities of World War II.
An estimated 20,000 Muslims fought in the Hanjar (Sword) SS Division. Most of their activities were directed against the Yugoslav partisans, led by Josip Broz Tito, and the local Jewish and Romany populations. They also conducted police and security activities in Fascist Hungary. The Nazis recruited two SS divisions from Yugoslavia's Muslim population: the Bosnian 13th Waffen Hanjar (or Handschar) SS division, and the Albanian Skanderbeg 21st Waffen SS division.
According to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust:
They participated in the massacre of civilians in Bosnia and volunteered to join in the hunt for Jews in Croatia ... The Germans made a point of publicizing the fact that Husseini had flown from Berlin to Sarajevo for the sole purpose of giving his blessing to the Muslim army and inspecting its arms and training exercises.
From the Encyclopedia of Holocaust, Edition 1990, Vol. 2, page 704. The caption reads: Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, inspecting troops in Bosnia (1943).
The Mufti also recruited Bosnian Muslims for an all-Muslim unit of the SS called the "Handschar" division, which committed so many atrocities that 38 of its officers were later tried as war criminals. In July 1945, Husseini himself was indicted for war crimes by the Yugoslavian government. [emphasis added]As a side note, The BBC News had an article in July 2001 entitled, Nazis planned Palestine subversion:
British secret intelligence files have been released in London about a German wartime plan for subversion in Palestine, when the territory was administered by Britain.The plan failed.
The plot involved parachute landings, thousands of gold coins and the Arab Muslim leader, Mohammed Amin el-Hussaini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who was then living in exile in Berlin.
It also had the approval of Hitler's security chief, Heinrich Himmler.
...Palestine in 1944 was in a state of ferment, with the British Mandate authorities struggling to keep the lid on violent hostility between Arab and Jewish communities.
The Germans, on the other hand, wanted to make things a great deal worse and planned - with the support of the Grand Mufti - to arm Palestinian villagers and incite them to rise up against the Jews.
A small commando team of two German officers and three Arabs was formed in Berlin in early 1944.
Their leader, Colonel Kurt Wieland, an Arabic speaker who knew Palestine, had several meetings with the Mufti and they agreed a plan: drop by parachute, establish a base, gather intelligence and radio it back to Berlin; and recruit and arm Palestinian supporters with Nazi gold.
One last note--the change in name from Persia to Iran may itself have been influenced by Nazi Germany. According to The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies:
The suggestion for the change is said to have come from the Iranian ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of the Nazis. At the time Germany was in the grip of racial fever and cultivated good relations with nations of "Aryan" blood. It is said that some German friends of the ambassador persuaded him that, as with the advent of Reza Shah, Persia had turned a new leaf in its history and had freed itself from the pernicious influences of Britain and Russia, whose interventions in Persian affairs had practically crippled the country under the Qajars, it was only fitting that the country be called by its own name, "Iran." This would not only signal a new beginning and bring home to the world the new era in Iranian history, but would also signify the Aryan race of its population, as "Iran" is a cognate of "Aryan" and derived from it.Personally, I can't wait for all of this--and more--to come out during the Iranian conference on the Holocaust, can you?
See also Holocaust(s) Denial