WHEN PHOTOGRAPHS of Palestinian leader Amin al-Husseini touring Trebbin Concentration Camp appeared the images were greeted with disbelief. The 6 previously unknown photos in which the Palestinian leader and self-styled ‘grand mufti of Jerusalem’, al-Husseini, inspects a Nazi concentration camp along with Nazi senior officials and government figures, are shocking to say the least.
Three of the images now in the public domain provide “irrefutable proof that all of the men present had precise knowledge of the fate of Jews in Hitler’s Germany — and of the likely fate of Jews in their own home countries under Nazi rule, ” writes Wolfgang Schwanitz. The photos are stamped “Photo-Gerhards Trebbin.”
This evidence of Palestinian leadership involvement in the events surrounding the Holocaust, as more than simply a disinterested party, stand alongside documentation and commentary by Schwanitz, showing a delegation including Iraqi politician Ali al-Kailani accompanying al-Husseini. These are not the only clues, indicating that al-Husseini’s published memoirs, upon which much of current historical opinion on the politician (including a controversial Wikipedia article) is based, are just plain wrong.
Joel Fishman in a forward to a special issue on al-Husseini in the Jewish Political Studies Review says:”During the past decades, new archival sources have become available. They include Nazi documents captured by the Red Army, State Department and CIA collections which have become declassified, and related primary sources from Germany. “
“For example, in 1977, the State Department declassified the “Axis in Arabic” files of the US Embassy in Cairo. This valuable collection includes transcripts of the Mufti’s speeches to the Arab world, broadcast from Berlin by shortwave.”
“Approximately 8 million pages of documents declassified in the United States under the 1998 Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act added significantly to our knowledge of wartime Nazi crimes and the postwar fate of suspected war criminals” write Richard Breitman and Norman J.W. Goda in the introduction to their book Hitler’s Shadow. Yet other documents remain classified, see postscript below.
Dr Steven Wagner of Brunel University London, head of a project which aims to ‘unmask al-Husseini via his war-time letters and diaries’ concurs:
“It’s now possible to set the record straight. Researchers have lacked access to direct primary evidence about Husseini’s time in Germany and Italy during 1941-45. Lack of evidence has hampered research about Husseini’s aims, motives, and decisions. Most of what we know about him has derived from his own memoir, written decades later, compared against colonial archives.”
Yet a good deal of this apparent ‘new evidence’ was already in the public domain in some form, long before the circumstances of al-Husseini’s close relationship with the Hitler regime was raised in a very public fashion in 2015, at which time, the evidence appeared then, to the casual observer, to be merely transcripts of a 1941 meeting with Adolf Hitler, ‘an innocent meeting with Der Fuhrer’, along with several books by authors accused of ‘Nazifying the subject matter’.
In reality most of the early intrigue stems from evidence submitted before Nuremberg and later Eichmann trial.
A video from the 1961 Eichmann Trial demonstrates the submission of documents in the trial of Hitler’s head of Jewish Affairs, Adolf Eichmann. In one segment, the camera focuses on a document from the diary of Al-Husseini, “who virulently opposed Jewish settlement in Palestine and became an ally of the Nazis”, concerning the “Jews of Italy, France, and Hungary.”
Gideon Hausner, Israeli attorney-general during the trial, submits ‘two photographs, which show Himmler and the Grand Mufti, into evidence. Then Hausner reads from a cable sent from Himmler to the Mufti.
The telegram reads: “The National-Socialist movement of the great Germany has made its fight against world Jewry a guiding principle since its very beginning,“
“For that reason it [the movement] has been closely following the battle of freedom-seeking Arabs – and especially in Palestine – against the Jewish invaders,”
While it was always known that al-Husseini had met with Adolf Hitler two months before and in the run-up to the Wannsee Conference at which the Final Solution to exterminate the Jews was formerly adopted — the authors of the ‘Wannsee Protocol’ had calculated the policy necessitated an industrial-scale genocide program to forcefully remove and murder a then population of 11 million Jews in Europe — not much else on the subject existed in any form of consensus within the public realm, certainly no explanation as to why the Palestinian leader kept re-appearing on subsequent public occasions.
Much of the problem stemmed by efforts by the Mufti to avoid capture and over-eagerness on the part of the Allies to avoid upsetting ‘potential allies possessed of strategic oil reserve in the Middle East’, in the aftermath of the war.
“In June 1947, American intelligence officials reported that Husseini “promised to produce documents disproving his ‘alleged pro-Axis activities as claimed by the Jews and proving his innocence,’ but he never did so writes Sean Durns.
Durns proceeds to accuse the Mufti of forging a blatant lie, a lie which has held sway until today: “To neutralize any U.S. effort to pursue him as a war criminal, al-Hussaini lied by claiming he had ‘never spoken against America’ in his Berlin radio talks. Neither the United States nor Great Britain indicted him. The government of Yugoslavia, which could have indicted him for his role in helping to form the Bosnian SS Division, also declined to press charges. In the absence of a trial, al-Husseini and his apologists have had an easier time obscuring his record of collaboration with Nazi Germany or excusing or misrepresenting it as desperate opportunism rather than ideological conviction.”
The Palestinian then held a March 4, 1961, press conference in Beirut, Durns says. The Mufti CIA cables reveal, “he categorically denied any connection with the persecution of Jews in Germany during the Second World War. He claimed that ‘all allegations in this respect were baseless and they were prompted by Zionists’ enmity toward him and the Palestinian national movement.”
“The Mufti also distributed a statement in response to a book on Eichmann by the American journalist Quentin Reynolds, which alleged that Husseini had several contacts with the SS officer and had toured Nazi death camps.” The Palestinian leader claimed at the time “that he did not know Eichmann and that he had no connection whatsoever with him.” Further, “neither he nor any other Arab had plans in the past or at present to annihilate any race, Jews or others.”
An affidavit submitted by SS Col. Dieter Wisliceny during the Nuremberg Trial “The Map Room Statement” implicated al-Husseini who had visited Eichmann at Eichmann’s office in late 1941 or early 1942.
By chance I was with Eichmann in Berlin a few days later, when he told me in detail about this visit. Eichmann lectured to the Grand Mufti in his Map Room [Kartenzimmer], where he had collected statistical accounts of the Jewish population of various European countries—he lectured in detail about the solution of the Jewish question in Europe. The Grand Mufti, according to him [Eichmann] was most impressed and said to Eichmann that he already asked Himmler and had in fact secured Himmler’s consent on this point, that a representative of Eichmann should come to Jerusalem as his personal adviser when he, the Grand Mufti, would go back after the victory of the Axis Powers.
One cannot escape the unfortunate conclusion, especially when reviewing the evidence presented here, that al-Husseini was very much in touch with Hitler, Goering and Himmler, sharing finer details such as the exact method of operation of the camps. Whether he was anything more than an ally and associate is another matter. All three Nazis were certainly above the rank of Eichmann, the minute taker of Wannsee, and thus higher-up in the chain of command. Hitler was surely aware that the Nazi policies of involuntary euthanasia were essentially aimed at achieving the same goals as his putative ally, al-Husseini, and geared towards cementing ties with Hitler’s allies in the Middle East, many of whom shared the Third Reich’s own political objectives, ‘killing two birds with one stone’ as it were.
It is an utter embarrassment to advocates of Palestinian maximalism (to date no Freedom Charter) to witness how such collaboration with the Nazi regime has been simply swept under the table in an ongoing campaign to sugar-coat and sanitise events — first by denying that the Holocaust even happened, and then by claiming that since al-Husseini was ‘never a part of the German high command’, the Palestinian ‘could not possibly have had any influence over events’, and further, that he was ‘merely a religious leader and refugee’.
These brazen assertions are not born out by the historical record which shows that al-Husseini proceeded to organise and commit a special division of Waffen SS troops comprising former Ottoman soldiers from Bosnia, nor do they outweigh his later political involvement in the All-Palestine Government in Gaza, established on 22 September 1948, during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War — ostensibly to govern the Egyptian-controlled territory in Gaza.
In this respect, al-Husseini as President of Gaza 1948–1959, and thus a politician, was very much the forerunner and precursor to the political events and situation we see today, one in which the history of Western Palestine under the Ottomans is pursued by the international community to the exclusion of the rights of Jewish Palestinians.
POSTCSCRIPT: Tom Suarez reports Britain says releasing a 1941 document about Palestine might ‘undermine security’: “A two-part archive, labeled “Activities of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem” and dated 1940-1941, sits in Britain’s National Archives in Kew. This writer successfully had the first part declassified in 2014. The second part remains sealed. My 2018 attempt to have these ten pages declassified was refused on the grounds that the archive might “undermine the security of the country [Britain] and its citizens.” None of its secrets are to be available until January, 2042; and if the paired file is any precedent, even in 2042 it will be released only in redacted form.”
NOTE: An article by Michael Sells published by Tabletmag in 2015 sought to discount witness testimony and ‘documentary evidence’ that al-Husseini had “inspected Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz, closely questioning the guides on the workings of the facilities.” Such isolated speculation brings to mind a philosophical dilemma — the ontological and epistemological question as to why Adolf Hitler was not at the so-called Wannsee Conference, where he is not listed as an attendee and thus what evidence, if any, there is to prove that Hitler, like al-Husseini was involved in events, as anything more than a mere political figurehead?