Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Iran and The Part It Played During the Holocaust

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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 officers
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
Also in Iran, the Mufti tried to achieve in Iran what had failed in Iraq:
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.

Now, the mufti agitated to cut off the British and the Allies completely and supply Germany in its push against Russia.

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:
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 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).

According to the National Review:
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 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.

The plan failed.

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

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The Reality Show said...

Interesting material, Thanks.

1) Like the infamous Mufti, today's "Brown" Arabs still live with the same illusion that 'white' Hitler would spare them...

2) But clearly the Arabization of Iranians that had the major boost at the Mufti's, is one of the main causes of radical Islamic Iran of today - world's ever greatst menace.


Anonymous said...

nonsense. The article talks all about the Mufti that we all know was basically a nazi.
The mufti however was sunni. Iran is Shiite. No one listens to the "mufti" in Iran. Iran like many other countries was the scene of many activities from all sides, so the fact that Nazis were also there besides British and Americans etc is of no consequence.
The story about name change is proven false many times before.

Daled Amos said...

The issue of the name change is not definite--which I indicated.
Still, I would be interested in your source for saying this.

As far as no one listening to the Mufti because he was Sunni--then why was he allowed free reign in Iran?
Why did Iran provide oil to Hitler?
What about the Iranians who joined the Handszar Division?

You make Iran sound like something out of the movie Casablanca.
It wasn't.

Anonymous said...

Me said

Wow i've never seen someone have to stretch and twist the truth more to invent some propagnada. Iranians in the waffen ss? I'm a historian, a military historian, there were more englishmen in the waffen than there were iranians(or anything that could be remotely called iranian) does that make the english nazis?(before you answer that pay some attention to how many englshmen layed down their lives to free the victims of the concentration camps) The sunni mufti of jerusalem calling the shots in the shia heartland of iran? If you tune into cnn or bbc you'll see why that's highly implausible. "Allah is your master in heaven adaolf hitler is your master on earth"? No my friend, in islam i believe the right slogan would be "allah is your master in heaven , hell and on earth" and saying otherwise would get you a nice little public stoning.

I've done a little google of iran's participation in the holocaust and the only thing i ran across was an article in french written by a french jewish woman explaining how her father was given a false iranian passport that allowed them to leave france after the occupation, apparently the iranians had made some agreement with the nazis that their citizens would be treated the same regardless of religion, what horrible people.

Daled Amos said...

Some questions:
1. What is your source that there so many Englishmen in the Waffen SS

2. If there were more englishmen than Iranians, then you agree there were Iranians in the Waffen, correct?

3. If the Grand Mufti was willing to help Iran against Iraq, why wouldn't they let him in as the condition for asylum from the British?

4. Based on the sources quoted in my post, I apparently had better luck using Google.

5. Besides Google, did you check books, such as:
The East Came West: Muslim, Hindu & Buddhist Volunteers in the German Armed Forces, 1941-1945 edited by Antonio Munoz?

Anonymous said...

me said

1&2&5) Britisches Freikorps numbers reached demi-company size <60 , iranian participation in the waffen ss reached 0. Infrequently i've read the works of a number of revisionist who have found iranian sounding names and cliamed these as proof of iranian participation, unfortunately if you do the scholarship you'll uncover that these iranian sounding names are in fact azeri names and always attached to anti-soviet azeri nationalist units in the caucausus. ( funny note, the u.s. government is actually using nostalgia for these azeri-waffen units to recruit azeri nationalist to overthrow the current cuckoo nest theology in tehran)

3) The war between iran and iraq started in the beginning of the 80's, the grand mufti you speak of was very much dead by then, the then contemporay mufti of juresalem , like much of the sunni religious orthodoxy, came out in favour of saddam hussein and his sunni oriented government.

4) kudos

I don't intend to be overly critical, in fact i believe you do a great service by looking at current affairs from unexpected angles, it makes the mind sharper and what have you. But the iranians are not nazis, they don't ascribe to anything like a master race ideology nor are they even fascist. They believe in a kooky hybrid between theology and a very byzintine parlimentary style democracy. Their leadership is elected, though vetted more like the americans than in britain :). And they are very shrewd diplomats; as we have seen thy'veplayed a very weak hand superbly. I understand that some believe the iranians are out to wipe out all jews, but this seems to be very much paranoia not rooted in reality but rather in iranian scare tactics. The iranian goal seems to be to rewrite the terms of the peace of 1945 to give themselves more say at table of major world powers, and they seem to be achieving that goal.