Telegram from Heinrich Himmler to Haj Amin al-Husseini. To see this item in the National Library catalog, click here
Haj Amin al-Husseini, Leader of the Arab World?
In 1937 the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine sought to arrest the Mufti due to his involvement in the Arab Uprising. In response, the Mufti fled the country to Lebanon, and from there to Iraq, where he stayed for some two years. In Iraq he joined a pro-Nazi group led by Rashid Ali al-Kaylani which rebelled against the monarchic regime and carried out a military coup in April of 1941, which lasted for only two months until British forces reached the outskirts of Baghdad. Kaylani and the Mufti fled through Iran to Italy and from there to Nazi Germany. The Mufti reached Berlin in November 1941.
The German Wehrmacht’s astonishing string of victories convinced the Mufti that he must secure a meeting with Adolph Hitler, the Fuhrer of the now enormous Nazi Reich. During the 90-minute meeting between Hitler and the Mufti, the latter strove to present himself not just as leader of the Palestinian national movement, but as leader of all Arabs and even as the representative of all Muslims. Photo of the sole meeting between Nazi Fuhrer Adolph Hitler and Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. Photo: Heinrich Hoffmann
Like the ideological platform of the “Muslim Brotherhood” movement, the Mufti believed in pan-Muslim unity and in the struggle to liberate Arab peoples from the yoke of colonial powers Britain and France. In Germany he labored to obtain a declaration of Nazi support for independence for Arab countries and support for the expulsion of Britain and France from the Middle East. His fight against Zionism was one facet of his fight against European colonialism, which also coincided with his personal virulent antisemitism – a position he strove to disseminate during his years in Germany through Radio Berlin broadcasts in Arabic.
As part of the fight against Zionism, the Mufti marked the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (Nov. 2nd) as a major annual day of protest because he realized that only through diplomatic recognition from the world’s powers could Zionism achieve its aim of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Out of deep fear that the ongoing annihilation of Jews in Europe would lead those who escaped to Palestine, the Mufti sought to receive assurances from the heads of the Nazi regime that no Jew would be sent there.
The telegram which was recently discovered in the archives of the National Library, and is apparently dated to 1943, includes a promise by Heinrich Himmler – one of the architects of the “final solution” – that “Nazi Germany will stand by the Arab people in Palestine in their struggle against the ‘miserable’ Balfour Declaration.
“In the end,” historian Dr. Esther Webman of Tel Aviv University, “the Mufti failed to achieve most of his aims. Nazi Germany did not declare its support for the idea of Arab independence and the Nazi leadership merely used him to achieve its own goals. His attempts to foment rebellion by the Arabs of the Middle East against the colonial regimes during WW2 were unsuccessful. His only meaningful achievement was to succeed in preventing a few cases of Jews departing Europe for Palestine during the war.”Written with the kind assistance of Dr. Esther Webman, senior research fellow at the Dayan Center and head of the Zeev Vered Desk for the Study of Tolerance and Intolerance.