by Peter Farmer:
After escaping Iraq ahead of pursuing British security forces and making his way to fascist Italy, Amin al-Husseini arrived in Germany in November 1941. Upon reaching Berlin, al-Husseini was treated as visiting royalty; a head of state in exile. The Nazi Party supplied him with several luxurious homes staffed with servants, a chauffeured Mercedes limousine, a monthly stipend equivalent to $10,000, and suites in two of Berlin’s most-prestigious hotels. He was also allocated a generous entertainment allowance, intended for his use in influencing the substantial Arab expatriate community then in Berlin.
Seeking support for Arab pan-nationalism and Muslim causes, al-Husseini had been in contact with members of the Nazi regime as early as 1933. He presented the Nazi leadership with a draft proposal of German-Arab cooperation, under which Germany would recognize the legitimacy of an Arab state encompassing Palestine, Syria, Trans-Jordan and Iraq, in return for Arab support of the Axis Powers in the Middle East. These views found favor in the highest reaches of the Nazi Party. On November 28, 1941, after meeting with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, al-Husseini was granted an audience with Führer Adolf Hitler.
In Hitler, al-Husseini found a soul mate. Although Hitler had written years before in Mein Kampf of the “racial inferiority” of Muslims, the Führer’s views had modified considerably since that time. Indeed, in the blond-haired, blue-eyed and light-complexioned al-Husseini, Hitler found a fellow Aryan. The Mufti and he shared a passionate hatred of the Jews and the British. Thus united, they formed a new strategic partnership.
In the months following his successful meeting with Hitler, al-Husseini formed a number of close relationships with members of the Nazi inner circle, including friendships with Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Schutzstaffel (SS), Hitler’s elite body guard and the chief paramilitary force of the Reich; and SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) Adolf Eichmann. The Grand Mufti remained close with Reichsminister von Ribbentrop. Soon, al-Husseini and these men discovered a shared passion for the extermination of Jews.
At al-Husseini’s request, Von Ribbentrop ordered that no Jews within German-controlled territory be allowed to leave Europe to enter Palestine. He also directed the formation of a special bureau within the Foreign Ministry devoted to extermination of Jewry abroad, called the “Anti-Jewish Action Abroad.”
With the assistance of Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels, al-Husseini began pro-Axis Arabic-language radio broadcasts from Berlin to the Middle East as early as December, 1941. In these broadcasts, he called upon his Arab brethren to commit acts of sabotage against the British and to kill Jews and other infidels at every opportunity. Assisted by Iraqi fellow exile Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, the Mufti called upon Muslims worldwide to wage jihad against the Allies. In one such broadcast on March 1, 1944, al-Husseini urged his listeners, “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion.”
The Grand Mufti collaborated actively with Himmler and Eichmann in the conduct of the “Final Solution” to exterminate the Jews of Europe. He toured Auschwitz concentration camp with Eichmann, and according to later testimony at the Nuremburg Trials by top Eichmann aide and SS-Hauptsturmführer Dieter Wisliceny, al-Husseini constantly urged greater haste in the killing of the Jews.
In 1943, Himmler asked for al-Husseini’s assistance in recruiting Muslims into the SS for use in the Balkans; under the Mufti’s enthusiastic direction, the notorious 13th Mountain Division “Handschar” of the Waffen-SS was formed from some 20,000 Croatian Muslim volunteers. It later saw action against Yugoslav partisans under Marshall Tito, and participated in ethnic cleansing operations against Jews and other “undesirables” in the region. Over 800,000 Yugoslav Serbs, Jews and Roma (gypsies) were exterminated, many by the cruel members of the Handschar division.
Read more: Family Security Matters
In the next installment of this series, we will examine the life of Muslim Brotherhood commentator and theorist Sayyid Qutb.
Peter Farmer is a historian and commentator on national security, geopolitics and public policy issues. He has done original research on wartime resistance movements in WWII Europe, and has delivered seminars on such subjects as political violence and terrorism, the evolution of conflict, combat medicine, and related subjects. Mr. Farmer is also a scientist and a medic.