In October 20th 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dropped a clanger in his speech to delegates at the 37th World Zionist Congress. According to Netanyahu, the Fuhrer changed his mind at the insistence of the Palestinian Arab leader at the time, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who argued that the expulsion of the Jews would result in their arrival en masse to Palestine, which at the time was under British Mandatory rule; instead, according to Netanyahu, al-Husseini told Hitler to “burn them.”
Hitler hosts the Mufti on Nov. 1941 in Berlin
The statement of PM Netanyahu controversially embraced the theory that al-Husseini bore responsibility for the Holocaust as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem inspired Hitler to initiate the “final solution” to murder the Jews of Europe while Hitler’s original intentions were solely to expel the Jews. PM Netanyahu’s statement seems not be based on facts. Sure the meeting between Adolf Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, took place on November 28, 1941, at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin; however in official German record of that meeting the text that Netanyahu speaks of does not appear. (Source: Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945, Series D, Vol XIII, London, 1964.) A quote:
The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews and the Communists.
The Fuhrer replied that Germany’s fundamental attitude on these questions, as the Mufti himself had already stated, was clear. Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests. Germany was resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time to direct a similar appeal to non-European nations as well.
Anyway in the entire text there is not a single reference to ‘Jew burning’ as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu suggested in his speech on 20th Oct. 2015.
From expelling to Holocaust
There is some evidence that the first plan of Hitler and Nazi regime was expulsion of the Jews from Germany and not to execute them. The transfer agreement in 1933 (“Ha’avara Agreement” in Hebrew) between Zionist organizations and Nazi Germany was a pact for the transfer of some 60,000 Jews and their assets to Palestine. So Nazi regime promoted the emigration of German Jews to Palestine, especially in 1933–1935. The deal with the Jewish Agency for Palestine that allowed it to confiscate the property of Jewish emigrants, but partially compensate them from the proceeds of additional German goods exported to Palestine. Among the benefits for Nazi Germany were ridding itself of some it considered dangerous enemies and increasing export. Indeed ‘The Transfer Agreement’ was the most far-reaching example of cooperation between Hitler’s Germany and international Zionism. Through this pact, Hitler’s Third Reich did more than any other government during the 1930s to support Jewish development in Palestine. The Mufti would begin diplomatic contacts with the Nazis in the middle of 1937, four years after the Nazi-ZIonist co-operation had started.
One example of previous policy before ‘Final Solution’ was sc. ‘Madagascar Plan’ (drafted from May to August 1940) – Hitler’s intention to expel the European Jews to Madagascar, the plan was predicated upon the defeat of Great Britain, for without open seaways and the British merchant marine available for transport, it was obviously unwork.
Haj Amin al-Husseini (who initially opposed the Palestinian peasant revolt of 1936 against Zionist colonization) sought relations with the Nazis to convince them to halt their support for Jewish immigration to Palestine, which they had promoted through the Transfer Agreement with the Zionists in 1933. His ties with the Nazis became the subject of worldwide publicity after the Israeli capture of Adolf Eichmann and during the latter’s trial in Israel. One of Eichmann’s subordinates, Dieter Wisliceny, gave evidence that Haj Amin had used his influence in Berlin to block German consideration of certain proposed exchanges and ransom deals that would have allowed groups of Jews to leave Axis territory and reach Palestine.
Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, forged a pact with Adolf Hitler on November 28, 1941, one week before the Wannasee conference, originally scheduled for December 7, 1941, yet was postponed by one month, due to the attack on Pearl Harbor on that very day. However it is the general view among historians that decisions or at least preparations related to ‘Final Solution’ were going on well before meeting between Mufti and Hitler. The chief historian of the Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration in Jerusalem, Dina Porat, told the Israeli news Web site Ynet that Netanyahu’s statements were factually incorrect the idea . “You cannot say that it was the mufti who gave Hitler to kill or burn Jews,” she said. “It’s not true. Their meeting occurred after a series of events that point to this.”
By the time al-Husseini met with Hitler the extermination was under way. The Einsatzgruppen were in operation and extermination camps were under construction. Also in the summer of 1941, the construction of the Vernichtungslager – the annihilation camp, was launched. Two civilians from Hamburg came to Auschwitz that summer to teach the staff how to handle Zyklon B, and in September, in the Block 11, the first gassings were carried out on 250 patients from the hospital and on 600 Russian prisoners of war, probably ‘Communists’ and Jews. In Babi Yar in September 1941, two months before the Mufti and Hitler met,. 33,771 Jews were murdered. Babi Yar was the ravine outside the Ukrainian capital of Kiev where the mass killing of Jews by German troops and local collaborators took place Sometime during that eventful summer of 1941, perhaps even as early as May, Himmler in privacy had informed his inside circle, ‘that the Führer had given the order for a Final Solution of the Jewish Question,’ and that ‘we, the SS, must carry out the order.’ Also In the late summer of 1941, addressing the assembled men of the Einsatzkommandos at Nikolayev, Himmler ‘repeated to them the liquidation order, and pointed out that the leaders and men who were taking part in the liquidation bore no personal responsibility for the execution of this order. The responsibility was his alone, and the Führer’s.’
Christopher Browning, an eminent Holocaust historian at the University of North Carolina, wrote in a 2003 essay – “Initiating the Final Solution: The Fateful Months of September–October 1941” . According Browning the Final Solution was made even months before Hitler’s November 28 meeting with al-Husseini. A quote:
In the fateful months of September/October 1941, the goal of Nazi Jewish policy fundamentally changed from a vision of expulsion and decimation to one of total and systematic extermination. Many decisions were still to be taken concerning how, when, at what rate, in what sequence, and with what temporary exemptions. But the “basic decisions” and “total clarity” sought by Höppner [Rolf-Heinz Höppner, the chief ethnic-cleanser in the Warthegau, expressed his frustration in his memorandum] in early September were now there. Those working on the Jewish question were no longer in doubt about what “working toward the Führer” meant and what was expected of them. This new vision of total eradication—to be carried out in “reception camps in the east” through “special measures” such as Brack’s “gassing apparatuses” and encompassing even the Jewish women and children of Belgrade and the Spanish Jews in France—differed fundamentally from the old vision. Among the many decisions taken in the course of the evolution of Nazi Jewish policy, in my opinion, this was the single most important one. The watershed between previous policies and the Final Solution had been crossed.
During WWII there was for murderous foreign antisemites, such as the dictatorial Croat Ante Pavelic, The Pope or the Romanian Ion Antonescu, as well as the Mufti, in Europe, however no serious historian would claim any of them influenced Hitler’s decision to murder Europe’s Jews as these men were remote from the decision-making inner circles of the Third Reich. Nazi murderousness towards the Jews burst onto German and Austrian streets during Kristallnacht in November 1938, while its keener SS Jew-killers got ahead of themselves from day one of the September 1939 invasion of Poland. Well before Mufti-Hitler meeting November 1941 and Wannasee December 1941 there had been Hitler’s “prophetic” speech on January 30 of that year when he said that the outbreak of a world war would result “in the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe”.
The view of Netanyahu might be supported by Wolfgang G. Schwanitz and Barry Rubin two scholars at an Israeli research center, in their book Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East:
After the meeting… Hitler made a fifth decision that would end millions of lives. He ordered [SS second-in-command Reinhard] Heydrich to organize a conference within ten days to prepare the “final solution to the Jewish question.” Thus, Hitler made his key decision to start the genocide with al-Husseini’s anti-Jewish rhetoric and insistence on wiping out the Jews fresh in his ears.
The evidence for this theory is however almost non-existing. Even if the mufti wanted the Final Solution to be expanded, he wasn’t the one who came up with the idea.
The role of Mufti
Appointed Mufti of Jerusalem by the British in 1921, Haj Amin al-Husseini (1893 – 1974) was the most prominent Arab figure in Palestine during the Mandatory period. Fearful that increased Jewish immigration to Palestine would damage Arab standing in the area, the mufti engineered the bloody riots against Jewish settlement in 1929 and 1936. There is broad agreement that the Mufti, who helped instigate Arab pogroms against Jews in the holy land in the 1920s, collaborated with the Nazis as part of his virulent opposition to Zionism. Historians differ, however, on the significance of his relationships with Nazi leaders and the meeting with Hitler that Mr. Netanyahu described. The mufti’s promotion of genocide over mass deportation of Europe’s Jews was discussed in the Nuremberg war crimes trials, but he was never prosecuted and died in 1974.
A quote from Wikipedia:
His opposition to the British peaked during the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, evading an arrest warrant, he fled Palestine and took refuge in, successively, the French Mandate of Lebanon and the Kingdom of Iraq, until he established himself in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. During World War II he collaborated with both Italy and Germany by making propagandistic radio broadcasts and by helping the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. On meeting Adolf Hitler he requested backing for Arab independence and support in opposing the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home. At war’s end, he came under French protection, and then sought refuge in Cairo to avoid prosecution. In 1933, within weeks of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, the German Consul-General in Palestine, 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.
The affidavit of one of Eichmann’s subordinates, SS Hampsturmfuerer Dieter Wisliceny, who appeared as a witness for the Nuremberg prosecution, speaks for itself (Source: Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd ):
The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry for the Germans and had been the permanent collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of the plan…According to my opinion, the Grand Mufti, who had been in Berlin since 1941, played a role in the decision of the German government to exterminate the European Jews, the importance of which must not be disregarded, He had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with who had been in contact, above all before Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considered this as a comfortable solution of the Palestinian problem. In his messages broadcast from Berlin, he surpassed us in anti-Jewish attacks. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures…
David Bedein, director of the Center for Near East Policy Research and Israel Resource News Agency, in Jerusalem circulated his 2012 speech on the Mufti’s WW II activities:
“No one denies the Mufti’s Arabic language radio broadcasts, his recruitment of the Islamic SS unit, and his active involvement in SS round ups of Jews in Yugosolvia. And there is no doubt that Mufti was aware of the Final Solution, fully supported it, and sought to extend it to the Arab world. In 1961, when Eichmann was brought to justice in Jerusalem, Israel’s then foreign minister, Golda Meir, called for the Mossad to apprehend the Mufti and to sit him alongside Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem.”
Related to Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini’s role in the extermination of European Jewry, veteran journalist Haviv Kanaan has reviewed the senior Muslim clergyman’s actions in 1942, when the Jewish community in then-British Mandate Palestine was preparing for the possibility of a Nazi invasion. Kanaan said that in 1968 he met with Faiz Bay Idrisi, a senior Arab officer in the Mandate Police, who spoke of al-Husseini’s intention to build a crematorium in the northwest Samarian hills. Idrisi told Kanaan at the time, recalling how in case of a German invasion “Haj Amin Husseini was gearing to enter Jerusalem at the head of the Muslim Arab Legion squadron he’d created for the Third Reich. The mufti’s plan was to build a huge Auschwitz-like crematorium in the Dotan Valley, near Nablus, to which Jews from Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and North Africa would be imprisoned and exterminated, just like the Jews in the death camps in Europe.” (Source: Israel Hayom )
After PM Netanyahu’s speech the condemnations have come fast and furious for reasons large and small, from trivializing the Holocaust and giving succor to Holocaust deniers, to absolving Hitler from even a single ounce of the blame that he deserves, to distorting history by overstating the Mufti’s role (even if he would have carried out the Holocaust if given the chance).
Probably it was not Netanyahu’s intention in his poorly conceived speech to trivialize the Holocaust or take the blame for it away from Hitler, but that was anyway the outcome. In getting his history wrong – compared to widely accepted facts – and overstating the role of the Mufti and linking Palestinian accusations about the Temple Mount to the Holocaust, Netanyahu makes it seem as if his grip on reality is lost. Sure there is no doubt that Mufti was aware of the Final Solution, fully supported it, and sought to extend it to the Arab world, sure al-Husseini was a supporter of the Holocaust. But he did not instigate it? No, it was Adolf Hitler.
Vatican’s role in holocaust in my earlier articles