The Mufti and the Holocaust


August 14, 2000


Snorri G. Bergsson


[This article was taken from the author's website. Gamla suggests those interested to visit this site which has articles on other issues concerning Oslo, Islam, etc. at:


 It is a strange "coincidence" that the Germans decided the systematic destruction of European Jewry only two months after the Mufti's meeting with Hitler. Since 1939 the Nazi policy had been to use the Jews as slave labourers and isolate them in ghettos, but not to exterminate them. However, after his arrival the Nazi policy changed. I am certainly not saying the Mufti was participating to any major extent in the planning of the Final Solution. However, I want to point out that at this time he was having meetings with some of the top Nazi figures and might easily have taken some part in the planning. Still, whatever the part the Mufti played in the Holocaust, one thing is almost certain, he knew about it from the beginning and approved.

 In 1941 the Mufti's delegate proposed a revised version of their former draft of an Axis-Arab treaty. According to captured documents the Mufti had just one thing in mind for the Yishuv Jewry:


Germany and Italy recognize the illegality of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. They recognize the right of Palestine and other Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements in Palestine and in other Arab countries as required by national interests, and in the same way as the Jewish question in the Axis lands is being solved.


What solution was the Mufti referring to? According to Melchers, he had only one: "The National Home must disappear and the Jews must get out... they may as well go to the Devil". Remember, as only those who are dead can go to the Devil, thus, it seems to me that he was planning an extermination, the same way as the Germans were doing in Europe. However, he was not content with just that measure, he had something "vaster" in mind. Bernard Lewis stated:


His objectives, as he explained on numerous occasions to German officials, were far-reaching. His immediate aim was to halt and terminate the Jewish settlement in Palestine. Beyond that, however, he aimed at much vaster purposes, conceived not so much in pan-Arab as in pan-Islamic terms, for a Holy War of Islam in alliance with Germany against World Jewry, to accomplish the Final Solution of the Jewish problem everywhere.


In June 1944, Dieter Wisliceny, Eichmann's deputy for Slovakia and Hungary, 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.


In his conversation with Endre Steiner in Bratislava, Wisliceny said:


The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in 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, who himself was a major war criminal and finally executed in 1948, repeated the Mufti's participation in the Holocaust at the Nuremberg trials in July 1946.


He 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. The Mufti seemed to have been much impressed.


It is beyond any doubt that the Mufti knew exactly what was going on in Poland. In a broadcast from Berlin on 21 September 1944 he said: "Is it not in your power, O Arabs, to repulse the Jews who number not more than eleven million?". It was a common knowledge that before 1939 the World Jewry numbered 17 million. This use of words, eleven million, could have meant that he knew precisely the number of Jews exterminated by the Germans, or he could be referring to the eleven millions European Jews the Nazis were going to annihilate, according to the Wannsee Conference. This would suggest that he knew the details of the Final Solution. It is one thing that strikes me as strange about the Wannsee Conference. It was due to start on 8 December 1941, but postponed until January 1942. Why? I can seriously imagine it might have had something to do with the Mufti's arrival at the end of November. The Germans might have wanted his support, his ideas or even his help in making effective plans. After all, he had been killing Jews for more than twenty years, he was the expert, so far. However, these thoughts are merely a Collingwoodian way of dealing with this question. Still, it is a strange coincidence that the Mufti was supposed to meet German high officials soon after his arrival, the documents show that there was no social visit on the agenda.

  The records prove he was aware of the Final Solution at the early stage, but the question is, however, to what extent did he participate? If he was not involved in the making of the Final Solution, which could be doubted, at least he was effective in the execution. In 1945 the Allies captured some letters that enlightened the Mufti's efforts preventing a possible Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine. He had no problems with the Germans, but their allies in the Balkans; Italy, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria were willing to give their Jews emigration visas. He did not like the thought of the Balkan Jewry immigrating to Palestine and complained strongly, both to the Germans, as well as directly to the Governments concerned. According to Wilhelm Melcher, a German official, at the Nuremberg court:


The Mufti was making protests everywhere — in the Office of the (Foreign) Minister, in the antechamber of the Secretary of State, and in other Departments, such as Home Office, Press, Radio, and in the S.S. headquarters.


The number of Jews who had obtained visa for Palestine, but were cancelled because of the Mufti's protests were:


13 May, 1943 : 4,000 children and 500 adults. (Bulgaria)

28 June, 1943 : 1,800 children and 200 adults. (Rumania)

28 June, 1943 :   900 children and 100 adults. (Hungary)


The number of Jews who very likely ended up in concentration camps, instead of Palestine, thus, was 7,500. However, this falls short of being the full number of  victims due to the Mufti's requests.

 A document published at the Eichmann trial 1961 revealed that the Rumanian Prime Minister had allowed the emigration of 80,000 Rumanian Jews but the Germans ordered him to cancel their visas "in accordance with our agreement with the Mufti". Eichmann spoke of an agreement on the same matters between the Mufti and Himmler, to use his words: "We have promised him that no European Jew would enter Palestine any more." Most of these 80,000 Jews were later on sent to Poland and at least some of them could have been saved. The Mufti simply wanted them dead, according to Wilhelm Melchers who revealed at the Nuremberg trials: "The Mufti was an accomplished foe of the Jews and did not conceal that he would love to see all of them liquidated." One of the documents presented by the United Nations at an Assembly meeting in 1947 was the Mufti's letter to the Hungarian Foreign Minister, dated 28 June 1943 (see appendix). There he said, among other things:

I ask your Excellency to permit me to draw your attention to the necessity of preventing the Jews from leaving your country for Palestine; and if there are reasons which make their removal necessary, it would be indispensable and infinitively preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, for example, in Poland, in order to protect oneself from their menace and avoid the consequent damage.

Since he knew perfectly well what was going on in Poland, this would mean their instant death. To the UN document someone had added a note: "As a Sequel to This Request 400,000 Jews Were Subsequently Killed". This was later on conformed by the Hungarian government's reply to Berlin, promising to end their Jewish problem, according to the request made by the Mufti.

 Therefore we can assume, if we add the 80,000 Rumanian Jews and the 400,000 Hungarian Jews to the above mentioned 7,500, that the Mufti had his crooked fingers mingled in the death of around 500,000 Jews during the Holocaust, if we include the thousands of Jews "his" Waffen SS units massacred. Thus, was he guilty of not guilty?


Guilty or not guilty?


 After the War, and later during the Eichmann trials, the Mufti was questioned about his participation in the Holocaust. He denied any involvement; it was not his problem what the Nazis did in Poland, he had not killed anybody. Referring to Eichmann, he even denied having met him and added that the


Nazis needed no persuasion or instigation either by me or anybody else to execute their program against the Jews... and... had no occasion to observe his activities or for that matter to visit the Nazi extermination camps for Jews.


After the War, the Mufti re-established himself as the leader of the Palestinian Arabs. When his aides were asked about their views of the Mufti's participation in the War, they said that he had only done his duty, protecting the Arabs and standing firm against Zionism. Thus, the Mufti and his followers denied all accusations, even those documented as facts.

 During an UN session on the partition of Palestine, the Guatemala chief delegate delivered a powerful lecture on the Mufti's activities during the stay in Berlin, which was based on evidence given at the Nuremberg court and captured German files. The Palestinian delegate, Jamal al-Husseini, the Mufti's closest associate and a relative, objected:


The honorable delegate of Guatemala has accused the Mufti of having been one of the initiators of, and one of the most active collaborators in, the plan for the systematic extinction of the Jews during the war. We emphatically deny this accusation. It is surprising that the honorable delegate should base himself upon the so-called testimony at Nuremberg.


His only arguments proved to be that is was surprising that someone should trust the evidence of those who had participated and were also eye witnesses! Emile Ghouri, the Greek-Orthodox member of the Arab Higher Committee and the Mufti's close associate, as well issued a statement at the same session. He said:


I can understand that the acts of anyone who seemed to cast his lot with the Axis during the war must seem to be wicked and detestable... But I am also convinced that if the reasons that drove him to take the course he took were fully known... it was the policy that was adopted in Palestine that finally forced this course of action in the Mufti.


In fact, we have only the Mufti's own words against the evidence of witnesses. Let us thus examine some of the other accusations made against the Mufti. Simon Wiesenthal claims that the Mufti visited both Auschwitz and Majdanek where


he paid close attention to the efficiency of the crematoria, spoke to the leading personnel and was generous in his praise for those who were reported as particularly conscientious in their work. He was on friendly terms with such notorious practitioners of the "final solution" as Rudolf Hess, the overlord of Auschwitz; Franz Ziereis of Mauthausen; Dr. Siedl of Theresienstadt; and Kramer, the butcher of Belsen.


During his trial, Eichmann admitted that he had met the Mufti and several witnesses testified he had done so on several occasions. According to Dr. Rudolf Kasztner, Eichmann had told him: "I am a personal friend of the Grand Mufti." It is a strange friendship never to have met! It is reasonable to assume that the Mufti did participate in the Holocaust, as was quoted by Brenner:.


Once the Jews of Europe became a threat to the Mufti... the Mufti in turn became for them... the incarnation of the Angel of Death... Once the looming reality of the State of Israel was before him, the Mufti spared no effort at influencing Hitler to murder as many Jews as possible in the shortest amount of time.


If the "Nazis needed no persuasion or instigation", why did he, then, have to "spare no effort" to persuade him, and, as quoted above, "constantly incite him to accelerate the extermination measures"? Even if he did not kill anybody, was he thereby innocent? Hitler did not kill any Jews but just had them transported to Poland. The Mufti did not kill any European Jews but he just had them transported to Poland. Is there any difference? The man who said: "I declare a holy war, my Moslem brothers! Murder the Jews. Murder them all", does not seem very innocent to me.

 There is no question about his importance to Germany. One month before the Germans surrendered, the Mufti received a large sum of money from the Germans in order to carry on the work against the Jews. He subsequently carried on his work of murdering Jews and fighting Zionism. His refusal to negotiate during the Israeli War of Independence, turned out to be to his disadvantage. Still, he was the main influence on the Palestinian Arabs until 1964 when the PLO was founded. Nevertheless, his family has since been continuing his tradition. Mohammed Abder Rauf Arafat al-Kudwa al-Husseini, alias Yasser Arafat, his relative and associate, has carried on his work by spreading terrorism and murdering innocent civilians, through the Palestinian "Liquidation" Organisation (PLO). The Palestinian Arab leader, Faisal Husseini, is his nephew, and the Hamas terrorists are following his footsteps in combining religion and politics through terrorism. The Mufti's ghost is still alive and well.

  Historians agree that he was one of the most important persons in the inter-War Palestine and some say he was the must cruel of them all. When he served in the Turkish army during the First World War he received a comment from an officer who knew him as "the blackest-hearted man in the Middle East". F.H. Kirsch, a British official in Palestine, gave his verdict:

I have no doubt whatsoever, that had it not been for the mufti's abuse of his immense powers and the toleration of that abuse by the government over a period of fifteen years, an Arab-Jewish understanding within the framework of the mandate would long since have been reached.

I believe there is no question that the Mufti was up to his neck in direct involvement in the Holocaust, though not in the decision making itself of the Final Solution, but very likely participation in the execution of the program. The case against him is far too strong to describe as "a Zionist propaganda", as the Mufti and his supporters usually have done. There are too many documents, testimonies and concrete facts against him. The only arguments for his innocence are his words. He knew about the Final Solution right from the start and still had no hesitation in requesting the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Poland. The main issue here, is whether or not the Mufti was responsible for the transfer of hundreds of thousands to Poland, knowing that it would be their "death-march". Philip Mattar argues, supported by statements made by Arabs, that

the thousands of captured German documents used by many writers on the subject have produced no hard evidence of the Mufti's participation in atrocities beyond his activities to stop the Jewish emigration to Palestine that he saw as leading to displacement or eviction of his own people.

Mattar denies any atrocites made by the Mufti, as does historian Biyan al-Hut, quoted by Zvi Elpeleg. Al-Hut describes the Mufti's actions during the World War II as his fight against the "rascist" Zionism and "her objective jugdment went astray, and she wrote as a propagandist rather than as a researcher." The continous Arab whitewashing of the Mufti's career during his stay in Germany has not been proven reasonable. Zvi Elpeleg notes that Haj Amin "did not conceal his efforts to prevent the departure of Jews to Palestine" and even justified the Nazi final solution. In his memoirs he proclaimed, as quoted by Elpeleg:


There were other serious occurrences during the war, such as the attempt by world Jewry in 1944 to bring about the immigration of Eastern European Jewry to Palestine... I objected to this attempt, and wrote to Ribbentrop, to Himmler and to Hitler... until I succeeded in frustrating the attempt.


Elpeleg and Mattar agree on this vital point. The Mufti was the person behind the prevention of Jewish emigration from the Nazi satellite states. In his memoirs, the Mufti admitted that the Balkan countries had halted all Jewish emigration due to his encouragement. Zvi Elpeleg admits that it is


impossible to estimate the extent of the consequences of Haj Amin's efforts to prevent the exit of Jews from countries under Nazi occupation, nor the number of those whose rescue was foiled and who consequently perished in the Holocaust... His frequent, close contacts with leaders of the Nazi regime cannot have left Haj Amin with any doubt as to the fate which awaited the Jews whose emigration was prevented by his efforts. His many comments show that he was not only delighted that Jews were prevented from emigrating to Palestine, but was very pleased by the Nazis' Final Solution.


Elpeleg's conclusion is thus:


Similarly, despite the fact that he repeatedly denies having had any part in the Final Solution, he does not conceal his efforts to prevent Jews escaping from the Nazi inferno. His memoirs... even include a detailed description of these efforts, in which he notes with pride that by preventing Jews from leaving Europe he had kept the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine from increasing in strength...


His hatred of Jews — and not just of Zionism — was fathomless, and he gave full vent to it during his period of activity alongside the Nazis... His claim that his cooperation with the Nazis was prompted only by the struggle against Britain is groundless. For Haj Amin, Germany was first and foremost the embodiment of anti-Jewish sentiment.


The Mufti had urged  the Nazi leaders to "kill as many Jews as possible" and knocked out a great number himself. His determination was to stop Zionism at all cost. Hitler's policy suited him well indeed and did not in principle contradict the policy he had already adopted in Palestine. He had the motives, the hatred and the thirst for Jewish blood. No one knows to what extent he was ready to use the sword to decide the fate of the Holy Land, as he had promised to do. Haj Amin's stay in Germany was prompted by his hatred of Jews. He wanted to see them killed and successfully cooperated with the Nazis in order to see his dream come true.

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