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THE INFLUENCE OF NAZI GERMANY
Since the start of the "War on Terror" in 2001 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, it has become increasingly common to hear the term "Islamo-Fascism" used in the media, particularly by those on the political right.
It is beyond the scope of this report to cover all aspects of totalitarian philosophy in today's Islamic world. For example, Saudi Arabia is one of the most totalitarian societies on earth. However, it has been an ally of America and is a key source of oil for the west. Thus, there has been little concern for Saudi "human rights" in the west.
Also, this report also does not in any way reach any conclusions about Islam as a religion in terms of fascism or totalitarianism.
What this report does focus on is the very large influence of Nazi Germany and Fascism on Arab nationalist movements and intellectuals prior to 1945.
We need to look at all this in terms of a global reaction to the conquest of most of the planet by western imperialism in the 19th century. Many nationalist movements in the 1930s saw totalitarianism as the only means of mobilizing the resources of their peoples to break the grip of foreign powers on their nations. Many looked to communism. But many also looked to fascism, a fact many tried to cover up after 1945. Following the loss of World War II by Germany, Arab leaders and intellectuals, much like their counterparts around the world, developed a collective sense of amnesia concerning fascist ideology. Whereas in the 1930s Fascism was touted as the ideology of the future, by 1945 it was a pariah tradition to be ignored and disavowed. Any affinity for Fascism or Nazism was dismissed and denied, in spite of the fact that elements of fascist ideology were adopted by a host of radical nationalist organizations in the Middle East, including the Ba'ath Party, Young Egypt, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, and others. Similarly, Islamic radicalism, although more religious than secular in nature, has been influenced by fascist ideology.
The material on this page represents an attempt to provide information on fascist ideology and political movements in the Middle East. It is by no means an exhaustive collection of quotations, links, and documents. It does, however, address a gap in current scholarship as far as this subject is concerned.
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The World Future Fund serves as a source of documentary material, reading lists, and internet links from different points of view that we believe have historical significance. The publication of this material is in no way whatsoever an endorsement of these viewpoints by the World Future Fund, unless explicitly stated by us. As our web site makes very clear, we are totally opposed to ideas such as racism, religious intolerance, and communism. However, in order to combat such evils, it is necessary to understand them by means of the study of key documentary material. For a more detailed statement of our publications standards click here.
In the 1930s the rise of National Socialism in Germany attracted the attention of numerous Arab intellectuals and political figures who sought to free the Middle East from British and French colonial rule. Nazi Germany represented to Arab nationalists (sometimes referred to as "Arabists") a world-class power and potential ally to have in fighting against Great Britain and France. More importantly, perhaps, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party demonstrated the potential of a nationalist movement based upon a unifying ideology. For despite having been weakened by defeat in World War I, Hitler and his party had been able to free Germany from the limitations of the Versailles Treaty. Nazism also had fostered a rise in the national spirit of Germany from the chaos and shame of the 1920s. To many Arab leaders and thinkers, cultivating an Arab national spirit was a prerequisite to throwing off the shackles of European imperialism.
Political instability was endemic to the Middle East and Arab nationalists tended to believe that the reassertion of state power was the key to engineering a successful Arab renaissance. The racist character of National Socialism also struck a chord within Arabists in that as the Arab sense of self evolved, it was accompanied by increasing suspicions of non-Arabs. These suspicions were directed in particular at Jews, whose numbers in Palestine grew throughout the 1930s due to emigration from Central Europe. The antisemitism of Nazism thus appealed to Arab radicals and their fascination with Hitler's regime deepened.
NAZI QUOTATIONS ON ISLAM
"When the Mohammedans attempted to penetrate beyond France and into Central Europe during the eight century when they were driven back at battle of Tours. Had the Arabs won this battle, the world would be Mohammedan today. For theirs was a religion that believed in spreading the faith by sword and subjugating all nations to that faith. The Germanic people would have become heirs to that religion. Such a creed was perfectly suited to the Germanic temperament." Adolf Hitler quoted by Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, page 96.
"Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers, already, you see, the world had already fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing Christianity! then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so." Adolf Hitler, August 28, 1942, midday from Hitler's Secret Conversations, page 542)
"If a British statesman today demands that every problem concerning vital German interests should first be discussed with England, then I could make precisely the same claim and demand that every British problem must first be discussed with us. Admittedly, this Englishman would answer: Palestine is none of your business! But, just as Germany has no business in Palestine, so has England no business in the German Lebensraum! And if the problem is claimed to be a question of general rights, then I can only agree to this opinion if it were regarded as universal and obligatory. One says we had no right to do this or that. I would like to ask a counter-question: what right -- just to quote only one example -- has England to shoot down Arabs in Palestine, only because they are standing up for their home? Who gives England the right to do so?" -- Adolf Hitler, Speech in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, April 1, 1939.
"Palestine is at present occupied not by German troops but by the English; and that the country is undergoing restriction of its liberty by the most brutal resort to force, is being robbed of its independence and is suffering the cruelest maltreatment for the benefit of Jewish interlopers. The Arabs living in that country would therefore certainly not have complained to Mr. Roosevelt of German aggression, but they are voicing a constant appeal to the world, deploring the barbarous methods with which England is attempting to suppress a people which loves its freedom and is merely defending it. ... One fact is surely certain. In this case England is not defending herself against a threatened Arab attack, but as an uninvited interloper, is endeavoring to establish her power in a foreign territory which does not belong to her." -- Adolf Hitler, Speech Before the Reichstag, Berlin, Germany, April 28, 1939.
HITLER AND PALESTINE
Hitler meets the Grand Mufti, the leader of the Palestinians in 1941
Muhammad Amin Al-Husseini, also known to history as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was a pioneer of pan-Arab nationalism in the early part of the 20th century. Born into an aristocratic family in 1895, Al-Husseini ) studied law in Cairo and served for a time in both the Ottoman and British armies during the First World War.
Following Word War I, al-Husseini returned to Jerusalem and became active in local politics. There he developed a reputation as a rabid antisemite and he was even imprisoned by the British authorities for instigating an attack on Jews who were praying at the Wailing Wall. Despite a growing reputation as a radical nationalist, al-Husseini was named Mufti (later Grand Mufti) of Jerusalem in 1922 by Sir Herbert Samuel, who was Great Britain's first High Commissioner of Palestine. The rise of al-Husseini ushered in a new era of extreme politics in the British mandate territory of Palestine. This era was characterized by the assassination of political enemies and vicious assaults on the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem.
In the 1930s, al-Husseini turned his attention to driving out those other foreign invaders, the British. In 1936, with the financial assistance of the SS, al-Husseini fomented the Arab Revolt, which included a coordinated campaign of terrorism against Jews, the British, and Arabs who did not agree with Husseini's political goals. One year later, al-Husseini negotiated with Nazi Germany to request that it stop supporting Jewish immigration to Palestine. Husseini also asked the Reich for support in helping drive the British out of the region. For these activities, al-Husseini was exiled from Jerusalem by the British authorities. He spent the next several years living in Syria and Iraq. He was forced to flee Iraq when the British crushed a popular revolt in 1940. He was then forced to flee Iran when it was invaded by Britain and Russia and went to Germany in 1941.
Some have suggested that al-Husseini was instrumental in instigating a "final solution to the so-called Jewish problem. According to testimony given at Nuremberg in June 1946 by Dieter Wisliceny, Adolf Eichmann's deputy, "The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan. ... He was one of Eichmann's best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chamber of Auschwitz." However, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum casts doubt on these assertions and says that the information is not clear. It seems very unlikely (at best) that he played any major role in getting the Holocaust in motion. It was well under way before he ever arrived and he played almost no role in day to day German government actions.
Al-Husseini was never tried by the Allies after the war. He died in 1974.
Picture below shows Himmler and Al-Husseini. Note personal handwriting of Himmler on photo.
"This division of Bosnian Moslems, established with the help of Greater Germany, is an example for Moslems in all countries. There is no other deliverance for them from imperialist oppression than hard fighting to preserve their homes and faith. Many common interests exist between the Islamic world and Greater Germany, and those make cooperation a matter of course. The Reich is fighting against the same enemies who robbed Moslems of their countries and suppressed their faith in Asia, Africa, and Europe. ... Further, National Socialist Germany is fighting against world Jewry. The Koran says: 'You will find that the Jews are the worst enemies of the Moslems.' There are also considerable similarities between Islamic principles and those of National Socialism, namely in the affirmation of struggle and fellowship, in stressing leadership, in the ideas of order, in the high valuation of work. All this brings our ideologies close together and facilitates cooperation."
Speech to the Bosnian Muslim Waffen-SS Division by Muhammad Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, January 1944. Quoted in Joseph B. Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer: The Rise and Fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini (New York: Yoseloff, 1965), p. 139.
"No more monsieur, no more mister! In heaven Allah, on earth Hitler!" -- Popular street saying in Palestine in the 1930s. Quoted in Joseph B. Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer: The Rise and Fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini (New York: Yoseloff, 1965), p. 84.
"At Nablus, the Arab population recently received British troops with shouts of 'Heil Hitler'! ... The Arab journals Falastin and Al Difa'a publish every week articles with a racial tendency and frequently reproduce large portraits of various leaders of the Third Reich. They do not even try to conceal the fact that they have become pupils of the Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin." -- Excerpts from an article in the French magazine Marianne, 1938. Quoted in Joseph B. Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer: The Rise and Fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini (New York: Yoseloff, 1965), p. 84.
MICHEL AFLAQ AND THE BA'ATH PARTY
Michel Aflaq is considered to be the intellectual founder of the Ba'ath Party, which came to dominate Iraq and Syria.
Michel Aflaq Memorial Site Arabic
"We were fascinated by Nazism, reading its books and the sources of its thinking, particularly Nietzsche, Fichte and Chamberlain. And we were the first who thought about translating Mein Kampf. He who lived in Damascus could appreciate the tendency of the Arab people to Nazism, which was the power which appealed to it. By nature, the vanquished admires the victorious." -- Unidentified Syrian Ba'athist Leader. Quoted in Itamar Rabinovich, "Germany and the Syrian Political Scene in the Late 1930s," in Jehudah Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1975), p. 197.
"We were racists. We admired the Nazis. We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books. ... We were the first who thought of a translation of Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was witness to the Arab inclination toward Nazism." -- Sami al-Jundi, Member of the Syrian Ba'athist Party. Source: "Militant Palestinian and Islamic Organizations"
"The [Syrian Social Nationalist] Party is not a political club or an association. ... It is an idea and a movement that is concerned with the total life of the nation; it is the symbol of the rejuvenation of a nation that many have thought has long been dead. ... It is also the Syrian nation in microcosm and the nucleus of the future independent state of Syria." -- Speech of Antun Sa'adih, June 1, 1935. Quoted in Labib Zuwiyya-Yamak, The Syrian Social Nationalist Party: An Ideological Analysis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 90.
"Struggle is the test of the viability of ideologies and values; it always has the same ending: a victor and a vanquished." -- Antun Sa'adih quoted in Labib Zuwiyya-Yamak, The Syrian Social Nationalist Party: An Ideological Analysis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 109.
"The reason why our nation has been slow in asserting its national reality with vigor and determination is because it has been waiting all this time for the guiding leader and the great reformer. When he came, he gave us the faith that we lacked and the new order that we needed. The leader has released the nation's latent energy, freed its genuine spirit, activated its superior mind, and, at the hour of his martyrdom, said to his executioners: 'I shall die, by my party will live on'." -- Asad al-Ashgar, "A Call to Social Nationalists Beyond the Borders" (1959). Quoted in Labib Zuwiyya-Yamak, The Syrian Social Nationalist Party: An Ideological Analysis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 116.
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a 22-year-old elementary school teacher, the Muslim Brotherhood was a revivalist movement based on the tenets of Wahhabism, an orthodox form of Islam founded in Saudi Arabia. For most of its first decade in existence, the Brotherhood was a youth organization that sought to implement moral and social reform in Egypt through Islamic education, information and propaganda.
In 1939, The Brotherhood formally became a political party, the Party of the Muslim Brotherhood. In politics, Al-Banna and his followers criticized the Egyptian government for not resisting Zionist incursions from Europe and for kow-towing to western imperialist powers like Great Britain. Al-Banna also decried the fate of the poor in Egypt, particularly since so many foreign companies seemed to be profiting in the country. During the 1940's, and especially after the end of World War II in 1945, the Muslim Brotherhood radicalized even further, with many members of the Brotherhood becoming involved in terrorist activity. Many Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood also fought in Palestine during the war that broke out in connection with the creation of Israel.
The Egyptian government eventually grew fearful of the influence and spread of the Brotherhood and it was banned. The ban appeared vindicated after a member of the Brotherhood assassinated the Prime Minister of Egypt, Mahmoud Fahmi Nokrashi, on December 28, 1948. The Egyptian government also engaged in the selected killing of members of the Brotherhood, including al-Banna himself, who was murdered in Cairo in February 1949. The Brotherhood was re-legalized as a religious movement and remained above ground until 1954 when it was banned again once and for all for the role of its members in the attempted assassination of President Nasser. The subsequent government crackdown was severe, with almost 4,000 members of the Brotherhood arrested. Thousands more fled Egypt for other Islamic countries. Fighting between the Egyptian government and the Brotherhood has continued throughout the post-war period. For example, President Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by four members of the Muslim Brotherhood after he made peace with Israel in 1979.
Contact between members of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda has been well established for two decades and the current no. 2 man in al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, got his start in politics as a member of the Brotherhood.
THE YOUNG EGYPT PARTY
Established in October 1933 by Ahmad Husayn as the Young Egypt Society (Misr al-Fatah) was patterned explicitly after the Nazi Party. By 1936, the small organization had grown and changed its name to The Young Egypt Party. Subsequently it changed names twice more when it became the Islamic Nationalist Party in 1940 and then the Socialist Party of Egypt in 1949. During its early growth, Husayn developed a paramilitary wing of the party called the "Green Shirts", which were inspired by and uniformed like Hitler's SA (the "Brown Shirts") and Mussolini's "Black Shirts". The Green Shirts were banned by the state in 1938 and Husayn went into exile. During this period he traveled to Germany and Italy to see Europe's fascist regimes for himself. Young Egypt's political goals included a call for increased state involvement in economic development and a rapid expansion of the Egyptian military. Prominent members of the party included the future Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and his successor Anwar Sadat. The members of Young Egypt actively worked against the British during the war, which led to the arrest of some of them. Among these was Sadat himself, who was imprisoned for providing intelligence information to the Germans during the war in North Africa.
"One party, one state, one leadership!" -- Green Shirt slogan quoted in Shimon Shamir, "The Influence of German National Socialism on Radical Movements in Egypt," in Jehuda D. Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East, 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Institute of German History, 1975), p. 205.
"Have we not the right, in the face of all these difficulties (over-population), beyond and over our sacred rights, to demand the unification of Egypt and the Sudan so that we restore to ourselves the living space which is indispensable and inevitable? Others have found living space for themselves in foreign and remote lands - why should we not have the right to demand not to be strangled in a territory of land which is today too narrow for us, and how shall we manage otherwise as time passes and our number increases? Egypt has the right to aspire to become the Great Nile Kingdom, to be a guardian of the east Mediterranean, to be the leader of the Arab and Islamic nations." -- Muhammad 'Ali' Aluba, Pamphleteer, Young Egypt Party, 1942, quoted in Shimon Shamir, "The Influence of German National Socialism on Radical Movements in Egypt," in Jehuda D. Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East, 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Institute of German History, 1975), p. 206.
"I was in our village for the summer vacation when Hitler marched from Munich to Berlin, to wipe out the consequences of Germany's defeat in World War I and rebuild his country. I gathered my friends and told them we ought to follow Hitler's example." -- President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, In Search of Identity: An Autobiography (New York: Harper & Row, 1978).
"My Dear Hitler, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart. Even if you appear to have been defeated, in reality you are the victor. You succeeded in creating dissentions between Churchill, the old man, and his allies, the Sons of Satan. ... There will be no peace unless Germany becomes again what she was. The West as well as the East ... will invest a great deal of money ... which is of great benefit to Germany. So much for the present and the future. As for the past, I think you made some mistakes ... But your trust in your country and people will atone for those blunders. You may be proud of having become the immortal leader of Germany. We will not be surprised if you appear again in Germany or if a new Hitler rises up in your wake." -- Letter of Anwar Sadat to Adolf Hitler, September 18, 1953, in answer to the question "If you wished to send Hitler a personal letter, what would you write to him?" published in "Al Musawwar", No. 1510.
"The earth is the inheritance of the strong - the future belongs to the conquering people ... to the victorious alone is the right of life." -- Ahmad Husayn, quoted in Shimon Shamir, "The Influence of German National Socialism on Radical Movements in Egypt," in Jehuda D. Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East, 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Institute of German History, 1975), p. 204.
"We are among those who believe in power, that the earth belongs to the powerful, and that the weak people are fit only to perish."-- Ahmad Husayn, quoted in Shimon Shamir, "The Influence of German National Socialism on Radical Movements in Egypt," in Jehuda D. Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East, 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Institute of German History, 1975), p. 204.
"There is no way for us to achieve all that except by force, material force. Indeed,nature teaches us that there can be no accord between the strong and the weak. Agreement can only be reached by struggle and strife. The conqueror is the worthy one, because he continues to exist; the conquered is weak, so he is exterminated."-- Ahmad Husayn, quoted in Shimon Shamir, "The Influence of German National Socialism on Radical Movements in Egypt," in Jehuda D. Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East, 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Institute of German History, 1975), p. 205.
"They are the secret of this moral desolation which has become prevalent in the Arab and Islamic worlds. They are the secret of this religious and moral decay, up to the point where it has become correct to say: 'Search for the Jew behind every depravity." -- Ahmad Husayn, Statement from a Young Egypt Pamphlet, quoted in Shimon Shamir, "The Influence of German National Socialism on Radical Movements in Egypt," in Jehuda D. Wallach (ed.), Germany and the Middle East, 1835-1939 (Tel Aviv: Institute of German History, 1975), p. 207.
"[Young Egypt] hopes one day to achieve in its rallies what the Nazis have achieved in theirs." -- Ahmad Husayn, Speech of April 14, 1938, in James P. Jankowski, Egypt's Young Rebels: 'Young Egypt,' 1933-1952 (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1975), p. 59.
"How much you have accomplished, oh leader, in the returning of spirit to this great people, putting them under one banner, one leadership, one plan and proceeding with them into the battles of life as one force, strong, able to hold its head high, filled with dignity, not accepting any wrong or insult to itself, its own master first and last, with no outside power having authority over it." -- Ahmad Husayn, Open Letter to Adolf Hitler, August 1,1938, in James P. Jankowski, Egypt's Young Rebels: 'Young Egypt,' 1933-1952 (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1975), p. 60.
"Ahmad Husayn declared that the principles of his party are made up of a combination of the principles of Rome and Berlin, that he does not consider Hitler and Mussolini to be dictators but rather they are reflections of their peoples, of the basis of their life and greatness, and that Germany and Italy are the two democratic states in Europe, the other states being capitalist-parliamentary organizations`." -- Excerpt from an interview with Ahmad Husayn in Il Lavoro Fascista, July 29,1938, in Joseph B. Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer: The Rise and Fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini (New York: Yoseloff, 1965), p. 60.
On April 1, 1941, the Iraqi army, commanded by four generals (a group known as "The Golden Square") staged a coup in Baghdad that was supported by the Germans. Rashid Ali al-Kilani was installed as head of the government and the administration of Nuri al-Said and Regent King Faisal II were forced to flee. The Iraqi generals were motivated in large part by German promises of support against the British, who still nominally exercised power in Iraq. The country had been given a measure of independence in 1937, but was still considered a British mandate territory.
Nine days after the coup, on April 10, 1941, Hitler agreed to a request from Iraq to send military aid. Several weeks later a large shipment of small arms arrived in Iraq via Turkey and Syria. In the meantime, around 9,000 British troops had landed in the Gulf port city of Basra to put down the rebellion. Fighting broke out between Iraqi troops and British forces in early May around the RAF base at Habbaniya. Pushed back from Habbaniya by the British, who were supported by air power, the Iraqis fell back to Fallujah and then Baghdad, before capitulating toward the end of the month. The British restored Faisal to the throne, but in reality remained the force behind the throne until 1947.
The articles listed here are written from varying ideological points of view. The subject of connections between European Fascism and Middle East extremism (both secular and religious) appears in newspapers, online, and in magazines around the world far more often than it does in scholarly studies. The information contained in these articles may be factually incorrect in places.