Political Correctness Trumping History at the US Holocaust Museum? By Shelomo Alfassa January 13, 2006
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America's national institution for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. Yet, this premiere public-private organization is deficient in their scholarship, leaving out of the historic record, reference to the 1930's and 1940's Nazi-Arab conspiracy, probably because of political correctness once again surpassing truth.
With its origins within the Carter administration, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) was officially chartered by a unanimous Act of Congress in 1980 and was inaugurated in 1993 in Washington, DC. This grand facility on the National Mall receives millions of yearly visitors who come to learn the truth about what happened during the Holocaust. You wouldn't think so, but the USHMM is considered the second most popular Washington tourist attraction after the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.
The USHMM mission statement declares the Holocaust was a state-sponsored, "Systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945." However, this is not complete, as a matter of fact it is erroneous. Today historians and genocide scholars realize that Hitler's hand and influence stretched across North Africa from Morocco to Egypt and through the Arab countries to the North and East. The goal of the German leadership was not to cleanse Europe of Jews, but the whole world of Jews. In regards to Hitler and the Jews from Arab countries, Hitler was clear in his objective, "Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews?Germany would furnish positive and practical aid to the Arabs involved in the same struggle...."[1[
The USHMM has as primary mission to advance and disseminate knowledge about the Holocaust, yet, the Museum has made no effort, in either its permanent or temporary exhibits, to educate Americans about the role top Islamic leaders played in the Holocaust. As an example, the Museum fails to recognize or discuss the Holocaust-era pogrom known as the Farhud, perpetuated by a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq in June 1941. In addition, the Museum maintains an unspoken taboo on conducting programs or sponsored research regarding the Farhud, deportation of Jews from North Africa to concentration camps, and the interrelationship of the Nazis and Islamic leaders in Egypt, Syria, etc. It is a documented fact that Islamic troops under direction of the Nazis played a significant role in the Holocaust. This is not opinion, it is not 'anti-Islamic sentiment,' it is fact.
The USHMM declares that it stands as, "The nation's preeminent institution for Holocaust education and remembrance," all the while overlooking the fact that Hitler and the Islamic leadership conspired together to murder the Jews in both the Balkans and the Arab countries. And while they say they serve as the world's preeminent center, "For scholarly research of the Holocaust," visitors do not see among their exhibits documents or information regarding the intimate relationship between Hitler and Amin al-Husseini, the Islamic leader (Grand Mufti) of Jerusalem. Al-Husseini made an important contribution to the Axis war effort by recruiting 20,000 Bosnian Muslims in Croatia to serve in SS units. Known as the Handjar (Sword) legion, these Nazis murdered 90 percent of the Jews in Bosnia, hunted for Jews in Croatia, and served as auxiliary police in Hungary. In 1943 the Mufti established the Arab Institute for Research into the Jewish Question in Berlin, an Arab version of the existing German model that was actually financed by Nazi funds.
As time went on, Nazi ideas diffused into the Arab world. Hitler's Mein Kampf was published in Arabic and the Nazis supplied information bulletins to the Arab press. Nazi agents encouraged Arab nationalists to travel to Germany and to study there, while movie theaters in Beirut, Aleppo, and Damascus received German propaganda films and newsreels. The Ba'ath Socialist Party in Iraq, that existed until the capture of Saddam Hussein, got its start following the mold of German National Socialism.
Amin al-Husseini also had established a relationship with Mussolini and described his 1941 meeting with the Italian dictator in Rome as a success, finding Mussolini as a potent Jew hater like himself. Elliott Green in his article, "Arabs and Nazis - Can it Be True?" writes:
While battles raged in Libya, the Mufti urged that Tripoli be 'purged' of its Jews?He [al-Husseini] and his associates had urged Hitler to extend the 'Solution of the Jewish Question' to Arab lands. In their meeting, November 28, 1941, Hitler promised that this was part of his own plan. When the German troops crossed the Caucasus, the Fuehrer added, 'then will strike the hour of Arab liberation.' Hitler informed Husseini of his intent to 'solve' the 'Jewish problem,' not only in Europe but in non-European countries as well. The Grand Mufti replied that... He was fully reassured and satisfied by the words which he had heard from the Chief of the German State.[5[
A quasi-governmental organization like the American Red Cross, the USHMM is funded in large part by the taxpayers of the United States. In 1994 the USHMM had a budget of $11 million that climbed to $21 million by 2000, an increase of 91%. The museum is supported by a combination of government and private funds, with the US shelling out over 60% of the funding. In fiscal year 2003, the budget was $57.2 million ($38.4 Federal; $18.8 private(
An internal USHMM 2004 Performance and Accountability Report said that in a world with increasing ethnic violence and extremism, rising anti-Semitism, and continuing genocide, "Our work has never been more pertinent or more urgent." Yet, while this is true, the silence and lack of interest on matters relating directly to the conspiracy between Hitler and Amin al-Husseini during the Holocaust seems nothing more than a sad example of de facto revisionism, possibly borne out of ignorance, or possibly worse -- political correctness. While Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum is discussing the German-Arab ties, and while Encyclopedia of the Holocaust devotes more space to the Mufti of Jerusalem than to any other Nazi leader except Hitler, the USHMM is covering its eyes and ears unashamedly ignoring historical facts.
Despite the fact that the USHMM has exhibits on significant issues such as propaganda, genocide in the Eastern Congo and Rwanda, persecution of homosexuals and other issues, it makes no mention of Arab anti-Semitism -- not of its history in the last century -- not of its current existence. Other than one brief sentence on anti-Semitism in the Muslim context by the respected Dr. Aron Rodrigue of Stanford University, the USHMM Website has no discussion on Arab anti-Semitism and the Museum has no permanent or even temporary exhibit on the same.
The USHMM makes no mention that al-Husseini was the uncle of the now deceased Arab dictator, Yassar Arafat. Born as Mohamed Abdel-Raouf al-Husseini, Arafat (who once called his uncle "our hero") shortened his name to obscure his relation to his notorious Nazi uncle. Even so, al-Husseini would help Arafat by playing a central role in the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, using his influence to raise funds for the terrorist organization. Although Hitler is long gone and the Nazi regime has been crushed, the paradigm that Hitler created by inciting and having the Arabs join with him remains in place today and is one of the top reasons for continued virulent anti-Semitism in the Arab world. Mein Kampf is being sold throughout Islamic countries to hungry readers while new generations of Arab children are being indoctrinated to radically hate Jews. While the USHMM stands up on issues of murder and hatred in certain African countries, it inexplicably leaves out mention of the same existing in the Arab world today. This begs the question, is the USHMM, a facility funded mostly by the federal government, not discussing a subject which is unmistakably inline with their mission because they risk offending Muslim citizens or Muslim religious leaders?
It is no wonder why Congressman Elliot Engel (D-NY) and many prominent U.S. Jewish academic and social organizations are now publicly calling on the USHMM to fully include the relationship between Hitler and al-Husseini, as well as their goals, successes and failures in the annals of Holocaust history. Full-page advertisements have been placed in prominent Jewish publications and public forums have been scheduled. The goal -- to ensure that history recorded at the USHMM be historically accurate by being fully inclusive, not selective. And if that means revising the mission statement of the USHMM because it only makes mention of Jews in Europe, then it will need to be changed.
It is without question that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum serves the greater public good, but in the ongoing contemporary war being perpetuated by Islamo-facists against the Jews and other non-Islamic people, one of the victims has become intellectual integrity because of extensive political correctness. While the bureaucracy at the USHMM states they aim to, "Develop a national initiative on Holocaust education and civic responsibility," they ought to be examining themselves, they ought to be reassessing their own responsibility for truth and accuracy.
 Record of the Conversation Between the Fuhrer and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on November 28, 1941, in the Presence of Reich Foreign Minister and Minister Grobba in Berlin, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918-1945, Series D, Vol. XIII, London, 1964, p. 881ff in Walter Lacquer and Barry Rubin, The Israel-Arab Reader, (NY: Facts on File, 1984), pp. 79-84.
 Lukasz Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, London, 1966; 312-13.
 Eric Rouleau, "The Syrian Enigma: What Is the Ba'ath?" New Left Review, No. 45, September-October 1967.
Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of israelinsider.
The Farhud and the Rashid Ali Coup In Iraq, 1941
The Iraq Coup Attempt of 1941, the Mufti, and the Farhud
Prologue - The Iraq coup of 1941 is little studied, but very interesting. It is a dramatic illustration of the potential for the Palestine issue to destabilize the Middle East, as well a "close save" in the somewhat neglect theater of the Middle East, which was understood by Churchill to have so much potential for disaster .
Iraq had been governed under a British supported regency, since the death of King Feysal in September 1933. Baqr Sidqi, a popular general, staged a coup in October 1936, but was himself assassinated in 1937. In December of 1938, another coup was launched by a group of power brokers known as "The Seven." Nuri al-Sa'id was named Prime Minister.
The German Consul in Baghdad, Grobba, was apparently already active before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, soliciting support for Germany and exploiting unrest. . Though the Germans were not particularly serious about aiding a revolt perhaps, they would not be unhappy if it occurred.
In March of 1940 , the "The Seven" forced Nuri al-Sa'id out of office. Rashid Ali Al Keilani was made Prime Minister. However, in February of 1941, Raschid was forced to resign in favor of Taha Pasha al Hashimi. Raschid Ali and a group of officers plotted to eliminate the British supported monarchy and the regent, Abd-ul Ilah as well as Taha Pasha.
The Mufti - Apparently the coup was in great part the initiative of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El Husseini. Husseini had fled the wrath of the British in Palestine, where he was wanted for his central role in the Palestinian "Arab Revolt." The Mufti had visited the German Consul General, Dohle, in Palestine on July 21, 1937, and is thought to have been in the pay of the Germans since that time. He is reputed to have met Adolf Eichmann in Palestine, when Eichmann had traveled there (in September or October of 1937) with another SS officer, Herbert Hagen, to investigate the possibility of deporting German Jews to Palestine. Based on war crimes testimony and the Eichmann trial transcripts, it appears that Eichmann and the Mufti later enjoyed a close relationship. 
Husseini wrote in his memoirs:
Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: 'The Jews are yours.
Husseini fled Palestine in October of 1937, following the murder of the British Commissioner of the Northern District (Galilee), Lewis Andrews. The Mufti and a number of members of the Arab Higher Committee fled to Beirut, and then in October 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, they moved to Baghdad. The Iraqi government financed the Mufti, and the Mufti endeavored to use Iraqi dissatisfaction to oust the British and advance the Palestinian cause as well as the cause of the Axis. However, on the whole most of the anti-British faction regarded the war as an opportunity to advance their own cause, whoever won. The Mufti, however, considered a British victory in the war as contrary to Arab interests. It should be pointed out that whilst the Mufti was certainly pro-Axis by choice, that was not true of the entire Palestinian leadership, including his cousin Jemal, who favored a deal for Palestine with Britain. According to a diplomatic observer, the Mufti favored the Arabs joining the axis and the USSR, then an ally of Germany, in a general war against the France and Britain. 
Husseini was being supported, morally and apparently financially, from Berlin and Rome. On August 26, 1940, Husseini had sent his secretary Kemal Hadad to Berlin. Hadad acted as a liaison between the Axis powers and four pro-Nazi staff officers known as the " the Golden Square" (Salah al-din al Sabag, Fahmi Said, Mahmud Salman and Kemal Shabib).  Hadad made another trip in December of 1940 because "funds were running low."  In February of 1941, Haddad again traveled to Berlin with a letter requesting military aid.
The British had been following the career of the Mufti with concern. In May 1940, the British Foreign Office had allegedly refused a proposal from the the Vaad Leumi (Jewish national council in Palestine) that they assassinate Haj Amin al-Huseini. However, in November, Winston Churchill approved the plan. According to a different account, it was David Raziel, imprisoned leader of the Jewish Irgun underground, who himself proposed the plan, writing from his jail cell. Eventually, the plan was changed to a mission of sabotage in Iraq. In May 1941, several members of the Irgun including its leader David Raziel were released from prison and flown to Iraq for this purpose. The mission was abandoned when Raziel was killed by a German plane 
The Coup - On April 1, 1941, the "Golden Square" and the chief of staff of the Iraqi army staged the coup, and appointed Rashid 'Ali al-Keilani head of the government. Nuri as Said was forced to flee Iraq along with the regent and young king Faysal II. On April 3, a letter from the German Secretary of State Von Weizacker answered Haddad's letter favorably, but the letter arrived after the coup.
Rashid 'Ali stated on April 10 that he would honor the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930, apparently fearing British reprisals .On April 16, Rashid responded to a request for landing of British troops at Basra cautiously. He replied that they could land, but must embark immediately for Palestine or Egypt. The British began landing troops on April 16 or 18 at Basra, at first in compliance with Rashid Ali's conditions, and later in violation of the conditions, since the troops did not leave. The British played for time and made pretences of accepting the new situation. However, reinforcements from India kept arriving at Basra.
The Iraqi government was also trying to buy time, and entered into a pretence of Turkish mediation of the crisis. However, the Iraqi representative in Turkey, told the German Ambassador von Papen, that there would be no compromise with the British. Raschid Ali had already asked the Italians for military aid at the end of March, and likewise, Hitler decided on April 10 to send military aid to the Iraqis. However, the shipments took several weeks. The German foreign office got a report from General Keitel of a large shipment, including, for example, some 15,000 rifles and about 800 machine guns. Arms were shipped from Saloniki and through Turkey and Syria. The shipments from Syria were sent as a consequence of the agreement between the Vichy leader Darlan and Hitler as to general collaboration between Vichy and Germany. In the same agreement Vichy also agreed to allow German aircraft to base and stage through Syria on their way to Iraq, though there would be some pretence involved, so that the Vichy government could plausibly deny to Britain that it was assisting the German war effort. The French also rationed German fuel supplies, and as the Luftwaffe was unable to obtain fuel from Persia or elsewhere, this hampered their effectiveness.
A second group of British troops landed at Basra on April 28, and the Iraqis protested. On the evening of April 29, about 9,000 troops of the Iraqi army surrounded the RAF air base at Habaniyeh and the next day the Iraqis ordered that no flights were to take off. However, the Iraqis had insufficient force. The move was instigated by the "Golden Square" officers. Rashid Ali himself apparently wanted to avoid antagonizing the British and wait for supplies from the Germans.
The British strike back - The British struck to lift the siege of Habanniyeh, remove Rashid Ali from power and restore the pro-British government. Though they were initially unable to move from Basra overland, because of the weather and because Iraqis had cut lines of communication, the British were able to use the RAF at Habbaniyeh and Shaiba effectively, and began attacking on May 2. They had about 90 aircraft, mostly antiquated, but these included a number of Wellington bombers. . The RAF struck the Iraqis surrounding Habbaniyeh The Iraqis used their air force , very sparingly and not very effectively. At the same time, relatively small numbers of British reinforcements were ferried by air from Basra. Iraqi anti-aircraft fire and artillery proved ineffective. By May 6 the Iraqi force was defeated and the siege of Habbaniyeh was abandoned, though the roads were still blocked. The RAF also destroyed most of the Iraqi air force on the ground by about May 8.
German Aid - During this time, several German officers and diplomats were seconded to Iraq to oversee Luftwaffe operations and the arms supply. Dr Fritz Grobba, the former consul, now returned to oversee the arms shipments and a Major Hansen was sent to oversee the transfer of aircraft. Grobba allegedly distributed sums of money to both Rashid Ali and the Mufti. Raschid Ali got about 90,000 pounds, and the Mufti reportedly got about $10,000.
The first train load of war supplies arrived from Vichy Syria on 11 or 12 May, and two more followed on 26 May and June 3. A third shipment on June 10, and perhaps more, would have followed, but RAF reconnaissance had soon spotted the shipments and commenced attack on the railway line and Vichy French bases where German aircraft had been spotted. They even air landed British army engineers into Syria to blow the railway bridges. The supplies that arrived seem to have been stored in Mosul by the Iraqis but were never used. It is not known why, though some military historians suggest it was because the Iraqi forces were not trained to use French equipment, and Vichy had not supplied promised instructors. One of the enduring mysteries about the French supplies is whether or not aircraft were supplied. The RAF claim to have seen Me109s on Iraq airbases, and encountered them in the air, but it is clear that no German single engine fighters went to Iraq. There is a suggestion in some of the sources that Vichy may have supplied MS406s, their standard fighter of the time, but no solid evidence.
German air forces arrived at Mosul after staging through Vichy Syria on 13-14th May 1941. They consisted of 14 Bf110 twin engine fighters and 7 He111 bombers, plus a number of transport aircraft. From the beginning they had problems with technical backup, spares, and fuel (the fuel provided by the Iraqis was very crude and had to re-refined before use). Nonetheless, the German forces embarked on attacks on Habbaniya and the British forces immediately upon arrival on May 13. The first German bombing raid on Habbaniya did more damage than all previous Iraq attacks put together.
It was all in vain. As noted, the Iraqi army failed to overrun Habbaniyeh initially, while the British were getting organized, and lost their chance, for whatever reason. By the time the Germans were attacking the British and Imperial forces at Habbaniya had seized the initiative. They had cowed the offensive spirit of the Iraqi army, and virtually destroyed the Iraqi air force. However, the British could not leave Habanniyeh by land.
KingCol and Habforce to the Rescue - It was understood from the beginning that a larger force was needed. The force of British and Arab Legion troops was hastily organized in Palestine. The entire Palestine force, called Habforce, consisted of about 7,000 or 8,000 troops under Major General John George Walters Clark. However, it was judged that it would take too long for this force to arrive. Therefore an advance column, called KingCol, was sent with about 2,000 troops men drawn from the Household Cavalry Regiment (Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards) and the 1st Essex Regiment together with supporting artillery and armored vehicles, under Brig. J.J. Kingstone.
The Role of the Arab Legion - Enthusiasts of the Arab Legion have sometimes left the impression that the Arab Legion was the key force in ending the revolt. This was not the case. The Legion set out with 350 men, and after garrisons were left at H4 and Rutbah, 250 continued toward Baghdad, under Major John Glubb ("Glubb Pasha"). The column got air cover from the RAF. This small advance force arrived about May 14 (May 18 according to some sources, prossibly referring to the arrival of Habforce), despite Luftwaffe strafing and despite the fact that company D of the Arab Legion regiment refused to cross the Transjordan-Iraq frontier and advance to Rutbah, and they had to be disarmed and disbanded.  Glubb and the Legion did not take part in the main advance of Habbaniyeh. In his Story of the Arab Legion, Glubb relates that their most important task was to find the route to get the motorized transport through the sand dunes safely. Once KingCol arrived at Habbaniyah, Glubb attempted to carry out his political mission to the Iraqi tribes, together with a little light sabotage of railways and similar tasks. The Legion force detached itself from the main KingCol column and went north with a diversionary force to act as scouts. The northern force was however held up by serious Iraqi defence at Khadimain. There was some serious fighting between the main part of the northern column and the Iraqi defenders but the Legion did not take part in that. It did cut the Baghdad railway so that the Iraqi troops at Mosul could not send reinforcements.
The advance of KingCol from Sarafend in Palestine to R.A.F. Habanniyeh
(along H - Haifa Pipeline) and return along T to Palmyra. (from de Chair, Somerset , "The Golden Carpet") .
Though the new German commander agreed with the Iraqi government in Baghdad on May 16th that his priorities were to repel the British KingCol force, capture Habbaniya, and put spine into the Iraqi army, he did not have sufficient force to do it. The British were seizing the initiative. The battle was in the hands of younger officers who were not only more aggressive, but prepared to adopt many new means of fighting, such as flying elements of the ground forces into position to mount diversionary attacks, using bombs especially adapted to emit a fearsome scream as they fell, etc. In fact the RAF officer commanding Iraq, Air Marshall Smart, apparently unsuited for operational command, had had a nervous breakdown by this point, and the air battle was in the hands of a Group Captain and a clutch of squadron leaders
The British had, in addition to KingCol, a variety of Imperial troops and allies in Iraq. These included the Indians who had arrived in Basra, Assyrians, mostly in northern Iraq, and some troops of defeated allies, such as the Greeks, who fought with memorable distinction. On May 19th the combined British Imperial forces took Fallujah. The German forces coordinated with the Iraqi counter-attack which swung back and forth during the day, but finally ended with with the British once more in possession. This seems to have settled it so far as serious opposition from the Iraqi army was concerned, and the number and condition of the German aircraft was daily deteriorating. Twelve Italian CR42 fighters arrived in Kirkuk via Aleppo Syria on 26th May, and immediately went into action against British Imperial forces on the road between Fallujah and Baghdad, but essentially this force was contained by RAF aircraft now operating from Habbaniya and Shaibah in Iraq, the H4 base and Amman in Transjordan, and from Aqir and other bases in Palestine. The Axis air support could not retrieve the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground were that the Iraqi army had retreated into Baghdad, with outposts at Ramadi and Kirkuk.
By May 28th British forces were camped just outside Baghdad. There was no reinforcement of German/Italian forces. The intelligence officer of KingCol fed a rumor directly into the Iraqi military command that 100 tanks were coming down the Baghdad road, and this seems to have broken the nerve of Rashid Ali and his colleagues in the Iraqi Government. In fact the only armor the British Imperial forces had were a handful of armored cars of various types. Raschid Ali and his party, including Haj Amin El Husseini fled first to Persia and then to Berlin.
The Farhud - Nonetheless, Iraq remained turbulent. Yunis Al Sabawi, an Iraqi pro-Nazi leader, appointed himself governor of central southern Iraq. He ordered Jews to remain in their homes Saturday, May 31, and on June 1 and 2, during the Jewish Shavuoth holiday, apparently intending a pogrom. However, the British deported Sabawi before he could put his plan into action.
On June 1, a group of Jews went to the airport to greet the regent and his party who were returning to Iraq. On the way back, they were attacked on Al Khur bridge by soldiers and civilians. One Jew was killed, and many injured. Riots and murder spread to Al Rusafa and Abu Sifya.. The terror continued until 10 p.m, including murder, murder of infants rape, arson, and looting. On June 2 1941 the riots continued, reinforced by policemen, soldiers and slum dwellers from the Al Karkh quarter. At 5 p.m., a curfew was declared. Persons out after curfew were summarily shot. Official Iraqi reports record 187 killed. Some estimates claim thousands of Jewish dead. Very probably about 400 people were killed and an estimated 2,100 injured. At the same time there were many acts of kindness by Muslims who protected and sheltered Jews, and Muslim doctors who took the lead in giving aid to Jewish casualties.
The behavior of the British in the Farhud remains a mystery, since the British ambassador, Kinahan Cornwallis, refused to allow British troops to enter the city until the pogrom was over. This may have been due to reluctance to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs, or to fear of getting involved in street fighting, or to reluctance to risk British lives for what were not vital British interests. British records are sealed until 2017. 
Epilog - The timely intervention of the British and their success in quelling the counter-coup, seemed to vindicate, in part, British imperial policy and the tactics engineered by Churchill in the 20s, which relied on air power. Failure of the Axis to commit sufficient air power, for one reason or another, lost for the Axis the chance to control oil-rich Mesopotamia, and to have a staging base for controlling the entire east.  On the other hand, the high-handed meddling of the British in Iraqi politics and the inept government they supported may have been instrumental in encouraging Iraqis to seek Axis help.
The deposed Grand Mufti and Palestinian leader, Haj Amin El Husseini, became an active collaborator in the Nazi war effort, broadcasting for Berlin and organizing SS troops in Yugoslavia. The Iraqi revolt provided a model of how trouble in Palestine could spill over into other countries and destabilize the Middle East. The activities and career of the Mufti, always disquieting, became a source of anxiety for most of the rulers in the Middle East. They feared, with some justice, that he was out to unseat them, either as part of a plan to take power in Palestine by removing the British and their supporters from the Middle East, or else after he head taken power in Palestine. In Iraq, the seeds of anti-Jewish feeling that were stirred up in this period came to the fore again in 1948, after the establishment of the State of Israel.
For the Jews of Palestine, the Mufti was a source of nightmares. Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann's deputy had told Rudolf Kastner, who was in touch with the Jewish Agency, that the Mufti had been influential in determining the fate of European Jews, and the Mufti later confided to the British that he envisioned the same solution for the Jews of Palestine. It is safe to assume that these plans were known to the Zionist leadership. The Jewish community of Palestine were aware not only of the Farhud, and of the Mufti's hair-raising calls on Nazi Radio to "kill the Jews wherever you find them." They had also seen the slaughter inflicted on Jews and Arabs by the Mufti and his followers during the Palestinian revolt. These facts, in addition to other public Arab statements about massacring the Jews, likely helped convince the Jews of Palestine that they were facing a war of extinction in 1948.
Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini
featured on the cover of Vienna Illustrated (Wiener Illustrierte) magazine. Husseini is apparently reviewing troops he had recruited.
Ami Isseroff and Peter FitzGerald-Morris
1 Churchill said of the battle of Habanniyah - "Thus the German plan for raising rebellion in Iraq and mastering cheaply this wide area was frustrated on a small margin. The landing of an Indian brigade at Basra on April 18 was timely. It forced Rashid Ali into premature action. Even so there was a race with our meagre forces against time. The spirited defence of Habbaniya by the Flying School was a prime factor in our success. The Germans had of course at their disposal an airborne force which would have given them at this time Syria, Iraq, and Persia, with their precious oil-fields. Hitler's hand might have reached out very far towards India, and beckoned to Japan. He had chosen however, as we shall soon see, to employ and expend his prime air organism in another direction. We often hear military experts inculcate the doctrine of giving priority to the decisive theatre. There is a lot in this. But in war this principle, like all others, is governed by facts and circumstances; otherwise strategy would be too easy. It would become a drill-book and not an art; it would depend upon rules and not on an instructed and fortunate judgment of the proportions of an ever-changing scene. Hitler certainly cast away the opportunity of taking a great prize for little cost in the Middle East. We in Britain, although pressed to the extreme, managed with scanty forces to save ourselves from far-reaching or lasting injury." http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/Petroleum/iraq.htm
2. Grobba and Unrest - See here
Ben prima dell'inizio del secondo conflitto mondiale, il console tedesco a Baghdad, Hans Grobba aveva iniziati a svolgere un accurato lavoro sotterraneo, avvicinando i membri del partito nazionalista arabo (già in contatto con il Movimento filonazista e antiebraico capeggiato dal Gran Muftì di Gerusalemme, Husseini) e i principali esponenti dell'esercito iracheno..
(Well before the beginning of the war, the German consul in Baghdad, Hans Grobba had begun to develop an accurate underground work, approaching members of the Arabic nationalist party (already in contact with the Nazi-loving and anti-Jewish movement headed by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hussieni) and the main leaders of the Iraqi army....)
3. Eichmann and the Mufti and Mufti involvement with Nazism - The involvement of the Mufti with Nazism and with the extermination of the Jews in Europe, must be documented carefully, because there are systematic attempts to deny it for reasons that have nothing to do with historical veracity, and on the other hand, there seem to be some attempts to embroider and dramatize it, perhaps beyond what is warranted by the evidence.
Eichmann's trip to Palestine was the initiative of the SD. Eichmann was ordered to travel to Palestine in July of 1937 and to make contact with Zionists there. This manipulation is often portrayed by anti-Zionists as "collaboration with Nazis," but in fact the Zionists were interested in any possibility of rescuing Jews from the clutches of the Germans. Eichmann was to use this fact well in future dealings. However, according to the BBC, Eichmann's trip to Palestine was aborted after one day:
This trip, aborted after one day, revealed the true extent of his sympathy for Zionism: he warned the SD that it would be foolish to promote a strong Jewish state. Instead, it should encourage Jewish emigration to backward countries where they would live in poverty.
It is not clear that Eichmann met the Mufti then, though this is stated in several sources. According to one source (http://www.remember.org/eichmann/timeline.htm)
, Eichmann only arrived in Palestine in November of 1937, which was most likely after the Mufti had fled.
Evidence introduced at the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem indicates however that the Mufti and Eichmann were close and that the Mufti was an important role in instigating the Holocaust, according to second hand testimony of Steiner regarding Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann's deputy for Slovakia and Hungary:
" State Attorney Bach: This is our document No. 281. Mr. Steiner first tells us that Wisliceny described his talks with Eichmann, why Palestine cannot be considered as the destination for emigration: "When I asked him why, he laughed and asked whether I had never heard of the Grand Mufti Husseini. He explained that the Mufti has very close contact and cooperation with Eichmann, and therefore Germany cannot agree to Palestine being the final destination, as this would be a blow to Germany's prestige in the Mufti's eyes."
Then he goes on: "At this further conversation Wisliceny gave me more details about the cooperation between Eichmann and the Mufti. The Mufti is a sworn enemy of the Jews and has always fought for the idea of annihilating the Jews. He sticks to this idea always, also in his talks with Eichmann" - and here we have one of the points about which Wisliceny has reservations - "who, as you know, is a German who was born in Palestine. The Mufti is one of the originators of the systematic destruction of European Jewry by the Germans, and he has become a permanent colleague, partner and adviser to Eichmann and Himmler in the implementation of this programme."
Here Wisliceny adds: "I have read these descriptions and find them correct, except for this, that Eichmann was born in Palestine, and that the Mufti was a permanent partner of Himmler's; this is not what I said."
Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1117."
Web source: http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/e/eichmann-adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-050-07.html
The gist of the above can be confirmed from several sources, including Wisliceny himself. Reportedly, in June 1944, Wisliceny told Dr. Rudolf Kasztner in Budapest that he was convinced that the Mufti had played a role in the decision to exterminate the European Jews... The importance of this role must not be disregarded... The Mufti had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he was maintaining contact, above all to Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considered this as a comfortable solution of the Palestinian problem.
At the Nuremberg Trials in July 1946, Wisliceny testified:
"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."
Wisliceny also testified that after the Mufti's arrival in Germany he had paid visit to Himmler and shortly afterwards (late in 1941 or early in 1942) had visited Eichmann in his Berlin office at Kürfurstrasse, 116. According to Wisliceny, Eichmann told him that he had brought the Mufti to a special room where he showed him maps illustrating the distribution of the Jewish population in various European countries and delivered a detailed report on the solution of the Jewish problem in Europe.
When the Red Cross offered to mediate with Adolf Eichmann in a trade prisoner-of-war exchange involving the freeing of German citizens in exchange for 5,000 Jewish children being sent from Poland to the Theresienstadt death camp, Husseini directly intervened with Himmler and the exchange was cancelled.
Among the sabotage al-Husayni organized was an attempted chemical warfare assault on the Jewish community in Tel Aviv. Five parachutists were sent with a toxin to dump into the water system. The police caught the infiltrators in a cave near Jericho, and according to Jericho district police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi, "The laboratory report stated that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers."
An interesting source that has many quotes from books including the postwar depositions of Steiner, Wisliceny and Rudolf Kastner regarding the Mufti and Eichmann: The Grand Mufti and in French , under the title: La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale http://aval31.free.fr/
Reference: Bar-Zohar, Michael and Eitan Haber, The Quest for the Red Prince, 1983 quoted here.
4. Jemal Husseini ("Baghdad Proposal) " In discussions including the Mufti's cousin Jemal el_Huseini the idea was that a National Government would be established in Palestine, the Mufti and his Huseini clan would support the Allies, and Iraq would declare war on the Axis and provide two divisions for the desert war. However opposition from Churchill and the Jewish population of Palestine saw that these talks did not succeed and the "Baghdad proposals" were rejected by the British Government on 29/8/40." The Mufti had not participated in these talks and was evidently uninterested in any case. Hirszowicz, op. cit. p 81 - 82.
Assessment of Mufti's aims - The diplomat was Al-Hud - advisor to Ibn Saud, in communication to German Ambassador to Turkey 15/11/39. See- Hirszowicz, Lukasz, The Third Reich and the Arab East London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968, pp 65 ff.
5. Hadad's Missions - At about this time (August-September 194) Haddad also had discussions with Von Papen former German Chancellor and now ambassador to Turkey Von Papen was told Italy had already given the Iraq government a written assurance supporting the independence of all mandated and protectorate Arab countries. The Mufti wanted a similar declaration from Germany. On that basis Iraq would resume diplomatic relations, and a new revolt would be organised in Palestine to assist the Axis fight against Britain. With Saudi Arabian assistance the pro-British Emir of Transjordan would be removed and his lands joined to Palestine. Haddad went on to Berlin where in August/September 1940 he held discussions with Grobba (the former German Consul) Melchers and Weizacker (the state secretary in the German Foreign Office). Haddad represented himself as representative of a coordinating committee of the Arab World under the leadership of the Mufti essentially it represented Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine. Haddad told the Germans that the committee had been trying to contact the Germans for some time without success, in particular to inform the German and Italian governments of the Iraqis desire to cooperate with the Axis Haddad also told ther Germans there was no chance that that the Palestinians would be allied to Britain even while the British were negotiating with Jemal Husseini. (Grobba's notes 27/8/40). Hirszowicz, op. cit. p 82 - 83.
At this time however, the Middle East was in the Italian sphere, and the Germans were reluctant to commit to any such schemes. The Tripartite pact signed on 27/9/40 recognised Italy's hegemony in the Arab lands. In further discussions, the Mufti's secretary was told by the Germans that any agreement to Italian supremacy in the Middle East was temporary, and would change when the war was over. Hirszowicz, op. cit. p 91
6. December trip and Axis Funding of the Mufti - Hirszowicz records several trips by Haddad to Berlin and Rome, including this one: "By December 1940, the funds advanced to the Mufti by the Axis were running short The Mufti's secretary Haddad therefore made a further trip to Rome and Berlin. (p108-9).
It is clear (see note above) that the Mufti was a vicious racist who was deeply implicated in German war crimes. It is frequently alleged and is perhaps likely, but apparently not fully proven, that the Axis powers supported the Palestine Arab Revolt and funded it. The exact history of the support for the Mufti and the origins of that support - whether from Germany or Italy or both, are not entirely clear in our sources. It is likely, based on the information available to us, that the Axis powers played a role in funding the Palestinian Arab revolt as well as the coup in Iraq, but only the latter seems to be well documented. Hirszowicz notes,
In German/Italian discussion at this time the Italian Foreign Minister Ciano claimed to have been funding the Mufti for many years to no great effect. (p 86)
The time in question was autumn of 1940, and the above implies that the Italians may have been funding the Mufti during the Arab revolt, which had taken place from 1936 to 1939.
A second and often cited source regarding Axis support for the Palestinian is a captured document evidence exhibit submitted to the Nurenberg war crimes tribunal. The Mufti was being held in France for trial, but he escaped with the connivance of French authorities and was never tried. The document in question is shown online here. Following is an excerpt:
OFFICE OF U.S. CHIEF OF COUNSEL
FOR PROSECUTION OF AXIS CRIMINALITY
17 September 1945
Source of Original OKW Files, Flensburg
LEADS: CANARIS, IBN SAUD, GRAND MUFTI.
SUMMARY OF RELEVANT POINTS (with page references):
1. Only through the funds made available by Germany to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was it possible to carry out the revolt in Palestine. (Page 1).
2. Germany will keep up the connection with the Grand Mufti. Weapons will be stored for the Mufti with Ibn Saud in Arabia. (Page 2).
3. Ibn Saud himself has close connections with the Grand Mufti and the revolting circles in TransJordan. (Page 2).
4. To be able to carry out our work one of Germany's agents will be placed in Cairo (Page 3).
5. The document is undated but obviously written before the outbreak of the war in 1939. It is not signed.
Analyst Landmann Doc. No. 792-PS
Source:The Arab Higher Committee, Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes, The Documentary Record Submitted to The United Nations, May 1947, by Nations Associates.
As we do not have a translation of the entire text of the German documents, it is difficult to assess the exact meaning and reliability of the statement regarding the Palestine revolt, nor is there an explanation for the fact that both Ciano and the Germans claimed to be supporting the revolt. Perhaps both were supporting it independently. Perhaps the Abwehr (German intelligence) wanted to take credit for the work of the Italians or perhaps it was an invention. On the face of it however, there is no good reason to doubt this evidence. The note about storage of weapons with Saud and Saud's connections with the Grand Mufti seems very unlikely.
7, Raziel Mission - There are various accounts of what the Raziel mission was and how it was initiated. According to Phillip Matar (1984) the idea for the mission initiated with the Zionist executive and was approved by Churchill. According to the Irgun Web site, "Raziel regarded Hitler as the prime enemy of the Jewish people, and therefore decided that it was essential to collaborate with the British against the joint enemy. When war broke out, Raziel wrote a letter from his place of detention to the British Commander in Chief in Palestine, to the Mandatory government secretary and to the British police commissioner. In his letter, he informed them of his readiness to declare a truce and offered help to the Allies in their struggle against the Germans. ....
In their plight, the heads of British intelligence in Egypt ... asked if the Irgun could despatch a unit to blow up the refineries in Baghdad, since the fuel reserves were vital to the Luftwaffe. ... Raziel, immediately assented. He organized a four-man unit and decided to head it. His comrades tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade him from taking part. On Sunday, May 17, 1941, the four left for the military airfield at Tel Nof. Raziel was accompanied by Yaakov Meridor, Yaakov-Sika Aharoni and Yaakov Harazi (the latter two were unaware of Raziel's true identity). At Tel Nof, they boarded an RAF transport plane, and several hours later landed at Habaniyeh. After landing, it was explained to Raziel that the plan had been postponed and that, instead, the unit was to carry out intelligence missions in preparation for the capture of Faluja (which was en route to Baghdad).
The next day the unit set out, accompanied by a British officer and reached the river, which they were scheduled to cross. However, there was room for only two passengers in the sole available boat. Raziel ordered Meridor and Sika to cross the river and carry out the mission, while he himself, with Harazi and the British officer, made their way back to the car. Suddenly a German plane swooped down and bombed the area, scoring a direct hit on the car and killed Raziel and the British officer instantly. The driver of the car was injured while Harazi, who managed to jump clear, was unscathed ...."
8. RAF - Details are based in large part on the account of Air Vice-Marshal B. A. Casey - http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/opsrep.html.
Details of the air operations are given here - http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/dailyairops.html
The strength of the RAF initially : (adapted from http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/airops.html
Initial Aircraft Strength of RAF Units
Units Aircraft Type At Start of Operations
No 4 Service Flying Training School Audax 32
Communication Flight Valentia 3
Nos 37 & 70 Squadron Detachments Wellington 18
Additional aircraft arrived later, but these came mostly after the initial battles. Audax and Fairey Gordon were biplanes. Habaniyeh was the last battle of WW II for the Hawker Audax. See http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/acloss.html
for some pictures of these aircraft.
9. The Iraqi air force - On paper the Iraqi Air force, was not inconsiderable, as claimed in some accounts, and its planes should have been a fair match in quality, if not in number for the available RAF forces.
According to Dust Clouds in the Middle East, the operational force was at least as follows:
Squadron Location Aircraft
No.1 Army Cooperation Mosul 25 Hawker Nisrsa
No.2 Fighter Kirkuk 9 Gloster Gladiatorsb
4 Savoia SM79 high-altitude medium bombersc
No.5 Fighter Rashid 5 Breda Ba.65d
No.7 Fighter Bomber Rashid 15 Northrop-Grumman (Douglas) 8A-4 attack bomberse
a. Hawker Nisrs were a faster export version of the RAF Hawker Hart. The Hawker Nisrs were also obsolete as fighting aircraft in the European context, but Europe was a long way away. The Iraqi Nisrs were superior to the comparable Hawker Audax (another Hart variant) based at Habbaniya. Intended as an Army cooperation aircraft, it could carry a light bomb load, and also act as a fighter in the absence of more modern aircraft.
b. The Gladiator fighter was now obsolete in the European theatre, but the RAF and the Italian air force were still doing a lot of fighting in Africa and the Western Desert with biplane fighters like this one. At the beginning of the campaign, the Gladiator was the best fighter there, and both sides had it. The CR42s the Italians sent to Iraq was a very comparable biplane fighter.
c. The Italian Savioa SM79 bombers could carry a very solid bomb load, and could operate at an altitude where the RAF Gladiators could not intercept. These aircraft alone if used properly could have made a real mess of Habbaniya and Shaiba.
d. The Italian Breda Ba.65 often appears in lists of the worst aircraft of WWII. But in the Middle East at this time it had a useful multiple role. As a fighter it outgunned the RAF Gladiators, and almost of the Iraqi aircraft also had a defensive upper turret. It could also carry a useful light bombload.
e. The Douglas (Northrop Grumman) 8A-4 was an export version of the Northrop A-17, broadly comparable to the ground attack aircraft which the US started the war with. In the context of Iraq in 1941 it was a comparatively modern aircraft comparable to with anything the RAF had at Habbahiya or Shaibah.
The Iraqis had some additional aircraft not listed in the above table such as de Havilland Dragons.
The Iraqis could have made much better use of these aircraft. I would speculate that a force composed of these aircraft if properly used could without German/Italian support have made much more serious attacks on Habbaniya and on KingCol which had very little anti-aircraft capability.
10 - The Legion as part of KingCol - From Glubb's Story of the Arab Legion
Chap XIII "The Storm Breaks" "The force which actually set out consisted of only the 350 men of the Desert Mechanised Foce .... Our force was carried in Ford trucks ... the men were armed with rifles and a number of Vickers and Lewis machine-guns, all veterans of the First World War. We also had our "home made" armoured cars. We had no artillery or even mortars."
Chap XIV "The path of honour" - "The force of the Arab Legion which left Rutbah for Iraq, after leaving patrols and garrisons at H4 and Rutbah, was 250 strong"
Some sources give the impression that Glubb led the entire KingCol column, with text like this: On May 30, the British-organized Arab Legion, led by Major John Glubb , reached Baghdad in the last-ditch effort, causing the "Golden Square" and their supporters to flee to Iran.
11. Arab Legion mutiny - from http://homepages.force9.net/rothwell/trans-jo1.htm:
" The first call to action was something of a disaster. The Mechanised Regiment was earmarked to join Kingcol, part of Habforce, in the relief of Habbaniya in Iraq in April 1941. ' D' Company of the Regiment was at the H4 pumping station on the Iraq Petroleum Company pipeline but when ordered to advance against Rutbah, the men refused to cross the border into Iraq. As a result, the Mechanised Regiment was excluded from the subsequent campaign and ' D' Company was disbanded. It was replaced by ' L' Company, formed from the Line of Communication Squadron. A new squadron, the Mobile Guard Squadron, was formed to take over the line of communication duties. "
12. Farhud - The account of the Farhud is based largely on The Farhud by Hayim V. Habousha
Peter FitzGerald Morris of Rochester, England, provided the detailed account of British and German military action and much of the background about the history of the Grand Mufti Haj Amin El-Husseini and the Transjordan Legion. He provides these references:
Buckley, Christopher, 1939-1945. Five Ventures: Iraq-Syria-Persia-Madagascar-Dodecanese, London: HMSO, 1954 and 1977. Official "popular military history" of the Iraq, Syria, Iran, Madagascar and Dodecanese campaigns, includng the political background
De Chair, Somerset S. The Golden Carpet. NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1945. A personal account of KingCol's march from Palestine to Baghdad and then to Palmyra by the MP and poet who was KingCol intelligence officer. Here you find the full story of the tanks rumour that probably caused the surrender of Baghdad. An appendix by Glubb Pasha sets out the role of the Arab Legion in the campaign.
Dudgeon, Air Marshall AG, Hidden Victory: The Battle of Habbaniya, May 1941. Stroud, UK: Tempus Publishing, Ltd,. A personal account of the seige of Habbaniya by one of the RAF Squadron Leaders later Air Vice Marshal. Dudgeon is concerned to fill the gaps in the official accounts.
Glubb, John Bagot, ("Glubb Pasha") The Story of the Arab Legion. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1948. Full account of the origin and activities of the Arab Legion includes an account of their work in the Iraq and Syria campaigns
Great Britain. Central Office of Info. Paiforce: The Official Story of the Persian and Iraq Command, 1941-1946. London: HMSO, 1948. D760P3A54.. British Government official account of the Persia and Iraq Command includes the political background, the campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Iran.
Hirszowicz, Lukasz, The Third Reich and the Arab East London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968 The most complete account of political contacts between Nazi Germany and the Arab nationalists. Hirszowicz had access to the Arab sources and there are extensive notes and bibliography
Shores , Christopher, Dust Clouds in the Middle East: The Air War for East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940-42. London: Grub Street, 1996 A detailed and probably definitive account of the air campaigns in East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar.
Warner, Geoffrey. Iraq and Syria, 1941. Newark, NJ: U of DE, 1979. A concise account of the political background to the campaigns in 1941
Report of Operations in Baghdad Area - 2 May to 31 May 1941 By Air Marshal D'Albiac The official dispatch on the Iraq campaign is on the RAF history site at http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/opsrep.html
Account of the role of the RAF Assyrian Levies The RAF levies are the real forgotten military force in the Iraq campaign http://www.gabylevies.freeservers.com/custom2.html
Centre for Contemporary conflict, Thesis, and history.net . Three excellent articles on Iraq in 1941 > http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/rsepResources/si/dec02/middleEast.asp http://www.csus.edu/indiv/s/scottjc/introduction.htm http://www.thehistorynet.com/ahi/bl_air_war_over_iraq/
Saddam's Uncle http://eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/saddam.html
The Grand Mufti and in French, under the title: La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale http://aval31.free.fr/
Stone & Stone Brief account of the military campaign with links to another bibliography http://www.sonic.net/~bstone/history/iraq.shtml
Iraq Air Force 1941 On paper a well equipped and trained force http://orbat.com/site/history/historical/iraq/iraqaf1940.html
Iraq Army 1941 Also on paper an even better equipped and trained force. http://orbat.com/site/history/historical/iraq/iraqarmy1941.html
Some additional sources on Iraq in this period:
Churchill, W, The Second World War, (Vol. 2 & 3) London: The Reprint Society, 1950.
Ireland, P.H, Iraq, a Study in Political Development , London : J.Cape, 1973.
Khaduri, M, Independent Iraq, 1932 - 1958, (2nd ed), London: Oxford University Press, 1960.
Longrigg, S.H, Iraq, 1900 to 1950: A political, social and Economic History, Beirut: Librarie du Liban, 1953.
Melka, R.L, The Axis and the Arab Middle East, 1930 - 1945, Ann Arbor, Mich: Xerox University Microfilms, 1974
Shikara, A.A.R, The Interaction Between Domestic Politics & Foreign Policy London: LAAM LTD, 1987.
Silverfarb, Daniel, Britain's Informal Empire in the Middle East: A Case Study of Iraq 1929-1941, London, Oxford, 1997,
Simon, R.S, Iraq, Between The World Wars, New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.
Tarbush, M.A, The Role of the Military in Politics, London: K. Paul International, 1982.
Woodward , E.L , Sir British Foreign policy in the Second World War 1970 London : H.M. Stationery Office
Some additional sources on the Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini:
Carpi, Daniel. . The Axis of Antisemitism, Dollard Des Ormeaux, Que. : Dawn Publishing Co. , 1985.
Jbara, Taysir, Palestinian Leader, Hajj Amin Al-Husoyni, Mufti of Jerusalem, Kingston Press, 1985.
Mattar , Phillip, "Al-Husayni and Iraq's quest for independence, 1939-1941," Arab Studies Quarterly 6,4 (1984), 267-281.
Mattar, Phillip, The Mufti of Jerusalem , Columbia University Press revised edition, 1988.
Pearlman, Moshe, Mufti of Jerusalem: The Story of Haj Amin el Husseini, V Gollancz, 1947
Schechtman, Joseph B., The Mufti and the Fuehrer: The rise and fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini, T. Yoseloff, 1965.
Elpeleg, Z. David Harvey, Shmuel Himelstein, The Grand Mufti: Haj Amin Al-Hussaini, Founder of the Palestinian National Movement,Frank Cass Publishers, 1993.
Taggar, Yehuda, The Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Arab Politics, 1930-1937, Garland Pub, 1987.
Zepp-LaRouche, Helga, ed. "The Grand Mufti and Hitler: National Socialist Networks in the Mideast," chapter 4 of The Hitler Book: A Schiller Institute Study, Ben Franklin Booksellers, 1984.
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Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume III, The Grand Alliance (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1950), Chapter 14, "The Revolt in Iraq," pp. 224-237.
THE REVOLT IN IRAQ
The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 provided that in time of peace we should, among other things, maintain air bases near Basra and at Habbaniya, and have the right of transit for military forces and supplies at all times. The treaty also provided that in war we should have all possible facilities, including the use of railways, rivers, ports, and airfields, for the passage of our armed forces. When war came Iraq broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, but did not declare war; and when Italy came into the war the Iraq Government did not even sever relations. Thus the Italian Legation in Baghdad became the chief centre for Axis propaganda and for fomenting anti-British feeling. In this they were aided by the Mufti of Jerusalem, who had fled from Palestine shortly before the outbreak of war and later received asylum in Baghdad.
With the collapse of France and the arrival of the Axis Armistice Commission in Syria British prestige sank very low, and the situation gave us much anxiety. But with our preoccupations elsewhere military action was out of the question, and we had to carry on as best we could. In March 1941 there was a turn for the
worse. Rashid Ali, who was working with the Germans, became Prime Minister, and began a conspiracy with three prominent Iraqi officers, who were styled "the Golden Square". At the end of March the pro-British Regent, Emir Abdul-Ilah, fled from Baghdad.
It was now more than ever important to make sure of Basra, the main port of Iraq on the Persian Gulf, and I minuted to the Secretary of State for India:
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for India 8 Apr 41
Some time ago you suggested that you might be able to spare another division from the frontier troops for the Middle East. The situation in Iraq has turned sour. We must make sure of Basra, as the Americans are increasingly keen on a great air assembling base being formed there to which they could deliver direct. This plan seems of high importance in view of the undoubted Eastern trend of the war.
I am telling the Chiefs of Staff that you will look into these possibilities. General Auchinleck also had ideas that an additional force could be spared.
Mr. Amery telegraphed in this scnse to the Viceroy on the same day, and Lord Linlithgow and the Commander-in-Chief, General Auchinleck, promptly offered to divert to Basra an infantry brigade and a regiment of field artillery, most of which was already on board ship for Malaya. Other troops were to follow as quickly as possible. The brigade group disembarked without opposition at Basra on April 18, under cover of an airborne British battalion which had alighted at Shaiba the day before. The Government of India was requested to follow them up as quickly as possible with two more brigades also assigned to Malaya.
Prime Minister to General Ismay,for C.O.S. Committee, and all concerned 20 Apr 41
Troops should be sent to Basra as fast as possible. At least the three brigades originally promised should be hurried there.
Prime Minister to Foreign Secretary 20 Apr 41
It should be made clear to Sir Kinahan Cornwallis [The British Ambassador in Baghdad] that our chief interest in sending troops to Iraq is the covering and establishment of a great assembly base at Basra, and that what happens up-country, except at Habbaniya, is at the present time on an altogether lower priority. Our rights under the treaty were invoked to cover this disembarkation and to avoid bloodshed, but force would have been used to the utmost limit to secure the disembarkation, if necessary. Our position at Basra therefore does not rest solely on the treaty, but also on a new event arising out of the war. No undertakings can be given that troops will be sent to Baghdad or moved through to Palestine, and the right to require such undertakings should not be recognised in respect of a Government which has in itself usurped power by a coup d'etat, or in a country where our treaty rights have so long been frustrated in the spirit. Sir Kinahan Cornwallis should not however entangle himself by explanations.
When accordingly Rashid Ali was informed by our Ambassador that more transports would reach Basra on the 30th, he said that he could not give permission for any fresh landings until the troops already at Basra had passed through the port. General Auchinleck was told that the landings should go forward none the less, and Rashid Ali, who had been counting on the assistance of German aircraft, and even of German airborne troops, was forced into action.
His first hostile move was towards Habbaniya, our Air Force training base in the Iraqi desert. On April 29, 230 British women and children had been flown to Habbaniya from Baghdad. The total number in the cantonment was just over 2,200 fighting men, with no fewer than 9,000 civilians. The Flying School thus became a point of grave importance. Air Vice-Marshal Smart, who commanded there, took bold and timely precautions to meet the mounting crisis. The Flying School had previously held only obsolescent or training types, but a few Gladiator fighters had arrived from Egypt, and eighty-two aircraft of all sorts were improvised into four squadrons. A British battalion, flown from India, had arrived on the 29th. The ground defence of the seven miles perimeter, with its solitary wire fence, was indeed scanty. On the 30th Iraqi troops from Baghdad appeared barely a mile away on the plateau overlooking both the, airfield and the camp. They were soon reinforced from Baghdad, until they numbered about 9,000 men, with fifty guns. The next two days were spent in fruitless parleys, and at dawn on May 2 fighting began.
* * * * *
From the outset of this new danger General Wavell showed himself most reluctant to assume more burdens. He said he would make preparations and do what he could to create the impression of a large force being prepared for action from Palestine, which might have some effect on the Iraqi Government. The force he could make available would in his opinion be both inadequate and too late. It would be at least a week before it could start. Its departure would leave Palestine most dangerously weak, and incitement to rebellion there was already taking place. "I have consistently warned you," he said, "that no assistance could be given to Iraq from Palestine in present circumstances, and have always advised that a commitment in Iraq should be avoided...My forces are stretched to the limit everywhere, and I simply cannot afford to risk part of them on what cannot produce any effect."
In Syria resources were equally strained. The Commanders-in-Chief Middle East had said that the maximum force that could be spared for Syria until the Australians were re-equipped was one mechanised cavalry brigade, one regiment of artillery, and one infantry battalion, subject to no Iraq commitment. This force could not be expected to deal with the number of troops which the Germans would be able to dispatch to Syria, and should not be sent unless the Vichy French were actively resisting. If it was decided to advance into Syria it would certainly be better that the troops should be British in the first instance and not Free French, whose intervention would be bitterly resented.
On May 4 we sent General Wavell our decisions about Iraq:
A commitment in Iraq was inevitable. We had to establish a base at Basra, and control that port to safeguard Persian oil in case of need.
The line of communication to Turkey through Iraq hasalso assumed greater importance owing to German air superiority in the Aegean Sea. . . . Had we sent no forces to Basra the present situation at Habbaniya might still have arisen under Axis direction, and we should also have had to face an opposed landing at Basra later on instead of being able to secure a bridgehead there without opposition. . . . There can be no question of accepting the Turkish offer of mediation. We can make no concessions. The security of Egypt remains paramount. But it is essential to do all in our power to save Habbaniya and to control the pipe-line to the Mediterranean.
General Auchinleck continued to offer reinforcements up to five infantry brigades and ancillary troops by June to if shipping could be provided. We were gratified by his forward mood. General Wavell only obeyed under protest. "Your message," he said on the 5th, "takes little account of realities. You must face facts." He doubted whether the forces he himself was gathering were strong enough to relieve Habbaniya, or whether Habbaniya could hold out till they might arrive on the 12th. "I feel it my duty to warn you in the gravest possible terms," he said, "that I consider the prolongation of fighting in Iraq will seriously endanger the defence of Palestine and Egypt. The political repercussions will be incalculable, and may result in what I have spent nearly two years trying to avoid, namely, serious internal trouble in our bases. I therefore urge again most strongly that a settlement should be negotiated as early as possible."
I was not content with this.
Prime Minister to General Ismay, for C.O.S. Committee 6 May 41
The telegrams from Generals Wavell and Auchinleck should be considered forthwith, and a report made to me at the House of Commons before luncheon to-day.
The following points require attention:
(1) Why should the force mentioned, which seems considerable, be deemed insufficient to deal with the Iraq Army? What do you say about this? Fancy having kept the Cavalry Division in Palestine all this time without having the rudiments of a mobile column organised!
(2) Why should the troops at Habbaniya give in before May 12? Their losses have been nominal as so far reported. Their infantry made a successfiul sortie last night, and we are told that the bombardment stops whenever our aircraft appear. Great efforts should be made by the Air Force to aid and encourage Habbaniya. Surely some additional infantry can be flown there as reinforcements from Egypt? The most strenuous orders should be given to the officer commanding to hold out.
How can a settlement be negotiated, as General Wavell suggests? Suppose the Iraqis, under German instigation, insist upon our evacuating Basra, or moving in small detachments at their mercy across the country to Palestine. The opinion of the Senior Naval Officer at Basra is that a collapse or surrender there would be disastrous. This is also the opinion of the Government of India. I am deeply disturbed at General Wavell's attitude. He seems to have been taken as much by surprise on his eastern as he was on his western flank, and in spite of the enormous number of men at his disposal, and the great convoys reaching him, he seems to be hard up for battaliops and companies. He gives me the impression of being tired out.
The proposals of C.-in-C. India for reinforcing Basra seem to deserve most favourable consideration.
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Supported by the Chiefs of Staff, I brought all this to an issue before the Defence Committee when it met at noon. There was a resolute temper. The following orders were sent at their direction:
Chiefs of Staff to General Wavell and others concerned 6 May 41
Your telegram of yesterday has been considered by Defence Committee. Settlement by negotiation cannot be entertained except on the basis of a climb down by Iraqis, with safeguard against future Axis designs on Iraq. Realities of the situation are that Rashid Ali has all along been hand-in-glove with Axis Powers, and was merely waiting until they could support him before exposing his hand. Our arrival at Basra forced him to go off at half-cock before the Axis was ready. Thus there is an excellent chance of restoring the situation by bold action, if it is not delayed.
Chiefs of Staff have therefore advised Defence Committee that they are prepared to accept responsibility for dispatch of the force specified in your telegram at the earliest possible moment. Defence Committee direct that Air Vice-Marshal Smart should be informed that he will be given assistance, and that in the meanwhile it is his duty to defend Habbaniya to the last. Subject to the security of Egypt being maintained, maximum air support possible should be given to operations in Iraq.
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Meanwhile at Habbaniya the squadrons of the Flying School, together with Wellington bombers from Shaiba, at the head of the Persian Gulf, attacked the Iraqi troops on the plateau. They replied by shelling the cantonment, their aircraft joining in with bombs and machine-guns. Over forty of our men were killed or wounded that day, and twenty-two aircraft destroyed or disabled. Despite the difficulty of taking off under close artillery fire, our airmen continued their attacks. No enemy infantry assault developed, and gradually their batteries were mastered. It was found that the enemy gunners would not stand to their pieces under air attack, or even if our aircraft were to be seen overhead. Full advantage was taken oi their nervousness, and it was possible from the second day to turn a proportion of our air effort to dealing with the Iraqi Air Force and their bases. On the nights of May 3 and 4 offensive land patrols from Habbaniya moved out to raid the enemy lines, and by the 5th, after four days of attack from the Royal Air Force, the enemy had had enough. That night they withdrew from the plateau. They were followed up, and a very successful action yielded 400 prisoners, a dozen guns, sixty machine-guns, and ten armoured cars. A reinforcing column from Falluja was caught on the road and destroyed by forty of our aircraft dispatched from Habbaniya for the purpose. By May 7 therefore the siege of Habbaniya was over. The defenders had been reinforced by fighter aircraft from Egypt; British women and children had all been evacuated by air to Basra; the Iraqi Air Force of about sixty planes had been virtually destroyed. This good news only reached us late and bit by bit.
Prime Minister to Air Vice-Marshal Smart 7 May 41
Your vigorous and splendid action has largely restored the situation.
We are all watching the grand fight you are making. All possible aid will be sent. Keep it up.
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Prime Minister to General Wavell 7 May 41
It would seem that the Habbaniya show has greatly improved, and audacious action now against the Iraqis may crush the revolt before the Germans arrive. They can of course fly there direct in heavy bombers, but these would only have what they stand up in and could not operate long. We must forestall the moral effect of their arrival by a stunning blow. I presume that if Rutba and Habbaniya are clear [our] column will take possession of Baghdad or otherwise exploit success to the full. Other telegrams are being sent to you about rousing the tribes and about Government policy.
General Wavell replied to the Chiefs of Staff direct.
8 May 41
I think you should appreciate the limits of military action in Iraq during next few months without a favourable political situation. Forces from India can secure Basra, but cannot, in my opinion, advance northwards unless the co-operation of the local population and tribes is fully secured. Force from Palestine can relieve Habbaniya and hold approaches from Baghdad to prevent further advance on Habbaniya, but it is not capable of entering Baghdad against opposition or maintaining itself there. . . . In order therefore to avoid a heavy military commitment in a non-vital area, I still recommend that a political solution be sought by all available means.
Although I realised his cares and his devotion. I continued to press General Wavell hard.
Prime Minister to General Wavell 9 May 41
The Defence Committee have considered your telegram of May 8 about Iraq. Our information is that Rashid Ali and his partisans are in desperate straits. However this may be, you are to fight hard against them. The mobile column being prepared in Palestine should advance as you propose, or earlier if possible, and actively engage the enemy, whether at Rutba or Habbaniya. Having joined tbe Habbaniya forces, you should exploit the situation to the utmost, not hesitating to try to break into Baghdad even with quite small forces, and running the same kind of risks as the Germans are accustomed to run and profit by.
2. There can be no question of negotiation with Rasbid Ali unless he immediately accepts the terms in C.O.S. telegram. Such negotiation would only lead to delay, during which the German Air Force will arrive. We do not think that any ground forces you may be able to divert to Iraq will affect your immediate problem in the Western Desert. The Air Force must do its best to cover both situations. Only in the event of your being actually engaged or about to engage in an offensive in the Western Desert should Tedder deny the necessary air support to the Iraq operations.
I tried to reassure General Wavell that we had no extensive operation in view and were only seeking to cope with the immediate need.
You do not need to bother too much about the long future in Iraq. Your immediate task is to get a friendly Government set up in Baghdad, and to beat down Rashid Ali's forces with the utmost vigour. We do not wish to be involved at present in any large-scale advance up the river from Basra, nor have we prescribed the occupation of Kirkuk or Mosul. We do not seek any change in the independent status of Iraq, and full instructions have been given in accordance with your own ideas upon this point. But what matters is action; namely, the swift advance of the mobile column to establish effective contact between Baghdad and Palestine. Every day counts, for the Germans may not be long. We hoped that the column would be ready to move on the 10th, and would reach Habbaniya on the 12th, assuming Habbaniya could hold out, which they have done, and a good deal more.
We trust these dates have been kept, and that you will do your utmost to accelerate movement.
Wavell responded gallantly to the many cumulative calls made upon him. "Without waiting for 'Tiger'," he reported on the 13th, "I ordered all available tanks to join Gott's force and attack the enemy in the Sollum area. . . . If things go well in the Western Desert I will try to move additional troops to Palestine for action towards Iraq. . . . We will try to liquidate this tiresome Iraq business quickly. . .. I am doing my best to strengthen Crete against impending attack. I discussed the question of Syria with Catroux this afternoon."
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By this time "Tiger" had begun to arrive safely at Alexandria, and I cherished many hopes of good results in Crete, in the Western Desert, and in Syria. Varied fortunes attended these interrelated ventures.
Prime Minister to General Auchinleck 14 May 41
I am very glad you are going to meet Wavell at Basra. He will tell you about "Tiger" and "Scorcher" [defence of Crete]. A victory in Libya would alter all values in Iraq, both in German and Iraqi minds.
2. We are most grateful to you for the energetic efforts you have made about Basra. The stronger the forces India can assemble there the better. But we have not yet felt able to commit ourselves to any advance (except with small parties when the going is good) northward towards Baghdad, and still less to occupation in force of Kirkuk and/or MosuL This cannot be contemplated until we see what happens about "Tiger" and "Scorcher". We are therefore confined at the moment to trying to get a friendly Government installed in Baghdad and building up the largest possible bridgehead at Basra. Even less can we attempt to dominate Syria at the present time, though the Free French may be allowed to do their best there. The defeat of the Germans in Libya is the commanding event, and larger and longer views cannot be taken till that is achieved. Everything will be much easier then.
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It will be well to complete the Iraq story before the impact of more sanguinary events, though not graver dangers, fell upon us in Crete.
The advance-guard of the relieving "Habforce", a motorised brigade group from Palestine, arrived at Habbaniya on May 18 to resume the attack on the enemy, now holding the bridge across the Euphrates at Falluja. By this time the Iraqis were not the only enemy. The first German aircraft were established on Mosul airfield on May 13, and thenceforward our Air Force had as a principal task to attack them and prevent their being supplied by railway from Syria. The attack on Falluja by the advance-guard of "Habforce" and the land elements of the Habbaniya garrison took place on May 19. Inundations hampered direct approach from the west, and small columns were therefore dispatched over a flying bridge upstream from the town to cut off the retreat of the defenders; another party made an air landing to block the road to Baghdad. It had been expected that this action, together with air bombardment, would make the enemy, about a brigade strong, surrender or disperse. But in the end ground attack was needed. A small force on the west bank whose task had been to prevent by rifle-fire the demolition of the vital bridge was ordered to rush it; they did so successfully and without casualties. The enemy gave way; 300 prisoners were taken. A counter-attack three days later was beaten off.
Some days were spent in making preparations for the final advance on Baghdad, during which our air action against the German Air Force on the northern airfields of Iraq finally crushed their effort. Later an Italian fighter squadron appeared, but accomplished nothing. The German officer charged with coordinating the action of the Axis air squadrons with the Iraqi forces, a son of Field-Marshal Blomberg, landed at Baghdad with a bullet in his head, thanks to misjudged firing by his allies. His successor, General Felmy, though more fortunate in his landing, could do nothing. His vigorous instructions from Hitler were dated May 23, by which time all chance of useful Axis intervennon had passed.
HITLER'S DIRECTIVE No. 30. MIDDLE EAST
FIELD HEADQUARTERS: May 23, 1941
The Arab Freedom Movement is, in the Middle East, our natural ally against England. In this connection, the raising of rebellion in Iraq is of special importance. Such rebellion will extend across the Iraq frontiers to strengthen the forces which are hostile to England in the Middle East, interrupt the British lines of communication, and tie down both English troops and English shipping space at the expense of other theatres of war. For these reasons I have decided to push the development of operations in the Middle East through the medium of going to the support of Iraq. Whether and in what way it may later be possible to wreck finally the English position between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, in conjunction with an offensive against the Suez Canal, is still in the lap of the gods. . .
The advance upon Baghdad began on the night of May 27, and made slow progress, being hindered by extensive inundations and blown-up bridges over the many irrigation waterways. However, our forward troops reached the outskirts of Baghdad on May 30. Although they were weak in numbers and there was an Iraqi division in the city, their presence was too much for Rashid Ali and his companions, who that day fled to Persia, accompanied by other trouble-makers, the German and Italian Ministers and the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem. The next day, May 31, an armistice was signed, the Regent of Iraq was reinstated, and a new Government took office. We soon occupied with land and air forces all the important points in the country.
Thus the German plan for raising rebellion in Iraq and mastering cheaply this wide area was frustrated on a small margin. The landing of an Indian brigade at Basra on April 18 was timely. It forced Rashid Ali into premature action. Even so there was a race with our meagre forces against time. The spirited defence of Habbaniya by the Flying School was a prime factor in our success. The Germans had of course at their disposal an airborne force which would have given them at this time Syria, Iraq, and Persia, with their precious oil-fields. Hitler's hand might have reached out very far towards India, and beckoned to Japan. He had chosen however, as we shall soon see, to employ and expend his prime air organism in another direction. We often hear military experts inculcate the doctrine of giving priority to the decisive theatre. There is a lot in this. But in war this principle, like all others, is governed by facts and circumstances; otherwise strategy would be too easy. It would become a drill-book and not an art; it would depend upon rules and not on an instructed and fortunate judgment of the proportions of an ever-changing scene. Hitler certainly cast away the opportunity of taking a great prize for little cost in the Middle East. We in Britain, a!though pressed to the extreme, managed with scanty forces to save ourselves from far-reaching or lasting injury.
It must be remembered that the revolt in Iraq was but one small sector of the immense emergency in the Middle East which lapped General Wavell on all sides simultaneously. This comprised the impending German onslaught upon Crete, our plans to attack Rommel in the Western Desert, the campaigns in Abyssinia and Eritrea, and the bitter need to forestall the Germans in Syria. In the same way the whole Mediterranean scene, as viewed from London, was but a secondary part of our world problem, in which the Invasion menace, the U-boat war, and the attitude of Japan were dominant features. Only the strength and cohesion of the War Cabinet, the relations of mutual respect and harmony of outlook between political and military chiefs, and the smooth working of.our war machine enabled us to surmount, though sorely mauled, these trials and perils.
The reader will be conscious of the tension which grew between the British War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff and their over-strained but gallantly struggling Commander-in-Chief in Cairo. The authorities at home, over whom I presided, directly overruled from Whitehall the judgment of the man on the spot. They took the issue out of his hands and assumed the responsibility themselves for ordering the relief of Habbaniya and for rejecting all ideas of negotiation with Rashid Ali or accepting Turkish mediation, which at one time was mentioned. The result was crowned with swift and complete success. Although no one was more pleased and relieved than Wavell himself the episode could not pass without leaving impressions in his mind, and in ours. At the same time General Auchinleck's forthcoming attitude in sending, at our desire, and with the Viceroy's cordial assent, the Indian division to Basra so promptly, and the readiness with which Indian reinforcements were supplied, gave us the feeling of a fresh mind and a hitherto untaxed personal energy. The consequences of these impressions will be seen as the story unfolds.
Fascinating post. I knew nothing of the Arab involvement (I guess I assumed that it began in 1947)and think the museum should do more to educate.
I cannot recommend this museum highly enough. My only disappointment was that I only alloted myself an afternoon to visit it. It is extremely engaging and is one of the few "must-see" attractions in DC. I think every student should pay a visit to the Holocaust Museum, the wall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air and Space Museum, and Arlington...