The jihad of the III Reich: Hitler sought an alliance with the Islamic world during World War II

The jihad of the III Reich: Hitler sought an alliance with the Islamic world during World War II

Much has already been written about Adolf Hitler, the German dictator responsible for the genocide of approximately six million Jews during his National Socialist regime between 1933 and 1945, but historians and scholars around the world continue to show that a thorough investigation of his life can continue to reveal significant attributes such as his admiration for Islam.

The German historian David Motadel conducted a study on the Third Reich’s link with various Muslim communities during its expansion through Europe, Asia and Africa and noted that Hitler praised Muhammad’s faith as “a man’s religion,” “martial, strong, and aggressive,” while he believed that Catholicism was a religion “of meekness and flaccidity.”

“You see that our misfortune has been to have the wrong religion. The Mohammedan would have been much more compatible with us than the Christian, meek and weak”, the Führer went on to affirm, as revealed by Motadel in his book Muslims in the war of Nazi Germany.

Research by Motadel, a professor at the London School of Economics, describes how The Nazi regime earnestly sought an alliance with the Islamic world during WWII and encouraged tens of thousands of Muslims to join his troops in the fight against communism, Judaism, and Western democracy.

“In 1941 and 1942, Hitler’s troops entered Muslim-populated territories in Africa, the Balkans, the Crimea and the Caucasus and moved closer to the Middle East and Central Asia. At that time, the military situation in Germany had deteriorated. In the USSR, the Blitzkrieg strategy had failed. As the Wehrmacht came under pressure, Berlin sought broader coalitions, such as the Courtship of Muslims, which sought to pacify the occupied Muslim territories and mobilize the faithful to fight with Hitler against their supposed common enemies: the British Empire, the United States, the Soviet Union and the Jews. Berlin officials saw Islam as a politically significant factor,” Motadel warned in his post.

A key date of that alliance is on November 28, 1941, when the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al Husayni was received in Berlin with a grand ceremony organized by the Reich with an honor guard of 200 German soldiers.

“Hitler welcomed me warmly with a happy expression, expressive eyes and evident happiness.” The Palestinian leader noted that day in his personal diary, who took refuge in Germany while the Nazis placed him at the center of their propaganda apparatus focused on the Muslim world to gain more support on their battle fronts.

At the same time, a Nazi memorandum that year highlighted the importance of Islam in the war and ensured that the fact that the Third Reich became “protector of Islam” would lead to “great political successes,” in a context where the demands of Arab independence and the paralysis of Jewish emigration to Palestine prevailed.

The book cover of David Motadel, a German-born 1981 historian and professor at the London School of Economics

The book cover of David Motadel, a German-born 1981 historian and professor at the London School of Economics.

On the other hand, the obvious observation about this link is how the Nazis solved the obstacle posed by racism that had achieved their popular rise.

Hitler had asserted the racial inferiority of non-European people, including Arabs and Indians in his book ‘Mein Kampf’. However, once in power, German officials were practical.

Non-Jewish Turks, Iranians and Arabs were explicitly exempted from any official racial discrimination in the 1930s, following diplomatic interventions by the governments of Tehran, Ankara and Cairo. And during the war, the Germans acted the same when meeting Muslims in the Balkans and in the Soviet Union, ”explained Motadel.

And Motadel’s conclusion in his book is the following: The Nazis’ attempts to use Islam in WWII can be understood as an episode in the long history of the strategic use of Islam by the non-Muslim great powers in the modern era.

Compared to other campaigns for Islamic mobilization, Germany’s was one of the shortest and most improvised. In geographic scope and intensity, however, it was one of the most energetic attempts to politicize and instrumentalize Islam in modern history.

Ben Oakley
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