Amin al Husseini and Adolf Hitler

Amin al Husseini and Adolf Hitler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

THIS ARTICLE COVERS

 

1. The issue of Hajj Amin el Husseini and the Jews by Francisco Gil White

2. Analysis of this article by themarxistblog

 

3. Photos of Hajj Amin el Husseini and their relevance

(this article is under construction, a work in progress)

 

Immediately after the war, Husseini’s  Nazi activities were well understood, as the article from The Nation (1947) which I have posted  to the right of this column attests. But then a tremendous silence about  Husseini and his Nazi years developed. Certainly the media, which displays  always the latest news on the Arab-Israeli conflict in its front pages, has  had nothing to say about the Nazi  origins of PLO/Fatah ever since  PLO/Fatah was created in the 1960s.  The silence in academia has been equally deafening.

Historian Rafael Medoff,  in an article from 1996, wrote the following:

“Early  scholarship on the Mufti, such as the work of Maurice Pearlman and Joseph Schechtman, while hampered by the inaccessibility of some  key documents, at least succeeded in conveying the basic facts of the Mufti’s  career as a Nazi collaborator. One would have expected the next generation of  historians, with greater access to relevant archival materials (not to mention  the broader perspective that the passage of time may afford) to improve upon  the work of their predecessors. Instead, however, a number of recent  histories of the Arab-Israeli conflict have played fast and loose with the  evidence, producing accounts that minimize or even justify the Mufti’s Nazi  activity.”[1]

What Medoff refers to  above as “early scholarship on the Mufti” is early indeed. The work of  Pearlman and Schechtman that he cites is from 1947  and 1965:

Pearlman, M.  (1947). Mufti of Jerusalem: The story  of Haj Amin el Husseini. London: V Gollancz.

Joseph B. Schechtman, The  Mufti and the Fuehrer, New York, 1965.

After this ensued a  tremendous academic silence on the Mufti Husseini. In fact, Medoff can refer us to no academic work on Husseini  before 1990. His article, recall, is from 1996. The few academic mentions of  Husseini that he could find from  1990 to 1996 were either completely  silent on the Mufti’s Nazi years—as if they had never happened—or else  they relegated a ‘summary’ of those years to a single paragraph (or even just  a sentence) that left almost  everything out. Some authors even claimed (entirely in passing) that Husseini’s Nazi activities had been supposedly imagined  by “Zionist propagandists.”

But recent scholars who have studied Hajj Amin al  Husseini in depth, such as Rafael Medoff, have  confirmed what his early biographers had already established:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)     <!–[endif]–>that  Husseini traveled to Berlin in late 1941, met with Hitler, and discussed with  him the extermination of the Middle Eastern Jews (whom Husseini had already  been killing for some 20 years);

<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)     <!–[endif]–>that  Husseini spent the entire war in Nazi-controlled Europe as a Nazi  collaborator;

<!–[if !supportLists]–>3)     <!–[endif]–>that Husseini helped spread Nazi propaganda  to Muslims worldwide (one of his famous exhortations goes like this: “Arabs,  rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you  find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor.  God is with you.”[2]);

<!–[if !supportLists]–>4)     <!–[endif]–>that  Husseini recruited thousands of Bosnian and Kosovo Muslims to Heinrich  Himmler’s SS, who went on to kill hundreds of thousands of Serbs, and tens of  thousands of Jews and Roma (‘Gypsies’).

It is beyond  dispute that Husseini did all that.  And in fact photographic evidence of Husseini’s  Nazi collaboration abounds on the internet.

But there has been quite an effort to whitewash Husseini’s responsibility in the German Nazi death camp  system specifically—in other words,  his responsibility in the Holocaust,  or as the Jews more properly say, in the Shoah (‘Catastrophe’). One  example of this whitewashing effort is Wikipedia’s page on Husseini.

Because of its emblematic nature, I shall now quote  from the  Wikipedia article on Hajj Amin al Husseini as I found it on 14 July, 2013  and then comment.

[Quote from  Wikipedia begins here]

Al-Husseini settled in Berlin in late  1941 and resided there for most of the war.[153] Various sources have repeated allegations, mostly  ungrounded in documentary evidence, that he visited the death camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka and Mauthausen.[153] At  the Nuremberg trials,  one of Adolf Eichmann‘s  deputies, Dieter Wisliceny,  stated that al-Husseini had actively encouraged the extermination of European  Jews, and that he had had an elaborate meeting with Eichmann at his office,  during which Eichmann gave him an intensive look at the current state of the   “Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe”   by the   Third Reich.  Most of these allegations are completely unfounded.[153]

[Quote from Wikipedia ends here]

Consider first the phrase “completely unfounded” as  it attaches to any part of Wisliceny’s Nuremberg testimony.

 

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As part of the legal proceedings at the Nuremberg  War Crimes Tribunal, two independent witnesses (Andrej or Endre  Steiner and Rudolf Kasztner)—both of whom had had personal contact with  Dieter Wisliceny during the war—reported to the  Tribunal that in wartime conversations with Wisliceny  he had said certain things about Husseini’s role in  the Final Solution (the genocidal enterprise in which Wisliceny  was not just anybody but a highly-placed administrator). The Steiner and  Kasztner testimonies are quite similar to each other. Before his execution  for crimes against humanity, Nuremberg Tribunal investigators called on Wisliceny to either confirm or deny what these two  independent witnesses had said. Wisliceny did  correct them on minor points but he confirmed what they had both stated  concerning Husseini’s central and originating role  in the extermination program (consult footnote [3] to  read the Steiner and Kasztner testimonies).

So are these “completely unfounded” allegations? If  so, that would mean:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)     <!–[endif]–>that  in light of other, better established evidence, what Wisliceny  stated is impossible; and/or

<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)     <!–[endif]–>that Wisliceny  is less credible as a witness than witnesses who contradicted his statements.

So I ask: On  the basis of what evidence do the Wikipedia  editors argue that “most of these allegations are completely unfounded”?

At first it seems as though Wikipedia editors have  provided three sources but on closer inspection it is the same footnote,  repeated three times (in the space of four sentences). The footnote contains  this:

Gerhard Höpp  (2004). “In the Shadow of the Moon.” In Wolfgang G. Schwanitz.   Germany and the Middle East 1871–1945. Markus Wiener, Princeton.  pp. 217–221.

The title is incomplete. Gerhard Höpp’s  article is: “In the Shadow of the Moon: Arab Inmates in Nazi Concentration  Camps.” The full title makes it obvious that this article is not about  Husseini, something that readers who see only the truncated title in the  Wikipedia reference will not realize.

But, anyway, what does Höpp  say—entirely in passing—about Wisliceny’s testimony concerning Husseini? He says this  (and only this):

“Al-Husaini… is said not only to have had knowledge of the  concentration camps but also to have visited them. Various authors speak of the  camps at Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, and Mauthausen. While the assumption that he visited the  Auschwitz camp in the company of Adolf Eichmann is supported by an affidavit  of Rudolf Kasztner, referring to a note by the Eichmann collaborator Dieter Wisliceny, the other allegations are entirely unfounded.”   (p.221)

Recall that Höpp is  Wikipedia’s thrice-cited source to ‘support’ that “most” of the following  three allegations are “completely unfounded”:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)     <!–[endif]–>that  Husseini visited death camps

<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)     <!–[endif]–>that  Husseini encouraged the extermination of the Jews;

<!–[if !supportLists]–>3)     <!–[endif]–>that Husseini met with Eichmann to  discuss said extermination.

But notice that Höpp says absolutely nothing about allegations 2  and 3.

And notice that, concerning allegation 1, Höpp uses the phrase “entirely unfounded” in a manner exactly opposite to the Wikipedia  editors who invoke him. For the Wikipedia editors, “most” of what Wisliceny says is “completely unfounded,” whereas for Höpp it is those allegations not backed by Wisliceny’s testimony  that he considers “entirely unfounded.”

Moreover, Höpp states:

“Speculation  on this and other misdeeds by the Mufti appear  unnecessary in view of his undisputed collaboration with the Nazis…” (p.221)

In other words, since we already know that Husseini  was a rabid anti-Semite who himself organized mass killings of Jews before he met the Nazis, and then also   with the Nazis, and discussed with  Hitler the extermination of the Middle Eastern Jews, and shouted on the Nazi  radio “Kill the Jews wherever you find them,” is it not a waste of time to  argue back and forth whether Husseini did or did not visit this or that death  camp with Eichmann?

But, I might add, why doubt it? And why doubt that  such a man encouraged the Nazis to exterminate the European Jews and also met  with Eichmann to discuss this program? (Unless, of course, such expressions  of doubt are intended as an apology for the Mufti…)

Let us now continue with the Wikipedia article:

[Quote from  Wikipedia continues here]

A single  affidavit by Rudolf Kastner reported that Wisliceny told  him that he had overheard Husseini say he had visited Auschwitz incognito in  Eichmann’s company.[154] Eichmann denied this at his trial in Jerusalem in 1961.  …Eichmann stated that he had only been introduced to al-Husseini during an  official reception, along with all other department heads. In the final judgement [sic], the Jerusalem court stated: “In the  light of this partial admission by the Accused, we accept as correct Wisliceny’s statement about this conversation between the  Mufti and the Accused. In our view it is not important whether this  conversation took place in the Accused’s office or elsewhere. On the other  hand, we cannot determine decisive findings with regard to the Accused on the  basis of the notes appearing in the Mufti’s diary which were submitted to  us.”[157] Hannah  Arendt, who attended the complete Eichmann trial,  concluded in her book Eichmann  in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil that, “The trial revealed only that all rumours about Eichmann’s connection with Haj Amin el  Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, were unfounded.”[158]

[Quote from  Wikipedia ends here]

I am confounded by Wikipedia’s choice of reliable  experts. The Jerusalem court that tried Eichmann for Crimes Against Humanity  concluded that “we accept as correct Wisliceny’s  statement about this conversation between the Mufti [Husseini] and the  Accused [Eichmann]” (the topic of which was to discuss how to exterminate the  European Jews); but Wikipedia editors prefer the contrary opinion of  philosopher Hannah Arendt, according to whom any claim of a relationship  between Husseini and Eichmann is “unfounded.” And why do they prefer Arendt?  Because she “attended the complete Eichmann trial.”

Didn’t the judges also attend?

Anyway, let’s look at Arendt more closely. To her,  two independent testimonies at Nuremberg concerning Husseini’s  relationship with Eichmann, later corroborated by Wisliceny,  a highly-placed eyewitness, are “rumours.” This is  strange. And, against this, Arendt simply accepts Eichmann’s denial. Doubly  strange. Why has Eichmann earned so much respect from Hannah Arendt?

But more to the point: Do we have reasons to  consider Eichmann a more credible witness than Wisliceny?

Arendt shouldn’t think so. She wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the  Banality of Evil so that she could extend herself in deep ruminations  about the human soul based on (odd choice) Eichmann’s strange behavior at  trial, which led her to call him a “clown.” Wisliceny,  by contrast, was universally considered by prosecutors as a very careful  witness, who was painstaking in correcting the smallest details in the  testimony he was asked to comment on.[4]

(And Eichmann most certainly had motive to lie in order to diminish Husseini’s role in the Holocaust relative to his own, for  he was obviously proud of what he had done. Moreover, Husseini was still at  large, and busy organizing the ‘Palestinian’ movement, so better not to say  anything that could support a manhunt plus extradition procedures that might  derail Husseini’s ongoing effort to exterminate the  Jews in Israel, a project certainly dear to Eichmann’s putrefacient  heart, a project that, as he sat in the witness box, no doubt swam before his  mind’s eye as a pleasant future outcome to engulf those sitting in judgment  of him, or their children.)

Let us continue:

[Quote from  Wikipedia continues here]

Rafael Medoff concludes that “actually there is no evidence that the  Mufti’s presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny  hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but conflicts with everything else that  is known about the origins of the Final Solution.”[159]

[Quote from  Wikipedia ends here]

Rafael Medoff is  expressing an opinion. Is it reasonable? Here is the full passage in Medoff’s article:

“With regard to  the crucial question of what the Mufti knew and when he knew it, the evidence  requires especially careful sifting, and earlier scholars did not always take  sufficient care. Pearlman, for example, accepted as fact the unfounded  postwar claim by Wisliceny that the Mufti was “one  of the initiators” of the genocide. Of course, Pearlman was writing in  1946-1947, when the genesis of the annihilation process was not yet fully  understood. Other accounts at that time, such as a 1947 book written by  Bartley Crum, a member of the Anglo-American Commission of Inquiry on  Palestine, likewise accepted Wisliceny’s claim. Schechtman, writing in 1964-1965, should have known  better. He made much of the fact that the Mufti first arrived in Berlin  shortly before the Wannsee conference, as if the  decision to slaughter the Jews was made at Wannsee,  when in fact the mass murder began in Western Russia the previous summer (at  a time when the Mufti was still deeply embroiled in the pro-Nazi coup in  Baghdad). Schechtman eventually conceded that ‘it  would be both wrong and misleading to assume that the presence of Haj Amin  el-Husseini was the sole, or even the major factor in the shaping and  intensification of the Nazi ‘final solution of the Jewish problem,’ which  supplanted forced emigration by wholesale extermination.’ Actually, there is  no evidence that the Mufti’s presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but  conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final  Solution.”[5]

Medoff’s  argument turns on a semantic point. If we agree with him that the mass  killings of Jews on the Nazi Eastern front, which began before Husseini  arrived in Berlin, are part of the ‘Final Solution,’ then Husseini is not   “one of the originators” of the ‘Final Solution.’ But the question is not  what we agree to call ‘Final Solution.’ The question is whether the Nazis had  yet decided, before Husseini  alighted in Berlin, to create a death camp system to kill all of the European Jews. They had not. And that decision was formalized  at Wannsee, indeed shortly after Husseini arrived in Berlin.

Consider what historians say about the established  chronology of changes in Nazi policy on the so-called ‘Jewish Question.’

Gunnar Paulsson explains  that “expulsion”—not extermination—“had initially been the general policy of  the Nazis towards the Jews.”[6] Tobias Jersak writes: “Since the 1995 publication of Michael Wildt’s documentation on the SS’s Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst SD) and the ‘Jewish Question,’ it has  been undisputed that from 1933 Nazi policy concerning the ‘Jewish Question’   aimed at the emigration of all Jews, preferably to Palestine.”[7] Even  after the conquest of Poland, writes Paulsson,   “Jewish emigration continued to be permitted and even encouraged, while other  expulsion plans were considered.”[8]  Christopher Simpson points out that, though many Jews were being murdered,  and people such as Reinhard Heydrich  of the SS pushed for wholesale extermination, “other ministries” disagreed,  and these favored “deportation and resettlement,” though they disagreed about  where to put the Jews and how much terror to apply to them.[9] And so, “until the autumn of 1941,” conclude Marrus & Paxton, “no one defined the final solution  with precision, but all signs pointed toward some vast and as yet unspecified  project of mass emigration.”[10]

Hajj Amin al Husseini arrived in Berlin in “the  autumn of 1941”—to be precise, on 9 November 1941. So yes, there had already  been mass killings of Jews on the Eastern front, but for the hypothesis that  Husseini had something to do with the Nazi decision to set up the death camp system in order to kill   every last living European Jew  (instead of sending most to ‘Palestine’), Husseini arrived right on time.

The last part of Medoff’s passage—the one that Wikipedia quotes—is  especially problematic. He writes:

“Actually,  there is no evidence that the Mufti’s presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but  conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final  Solution.”

Medoff  disparages the evidence we have as “hearsay.” Is it?

Wikipedia explains the legal definition of ‘hearsay’:

“information gathered by one person from another person  concerning some event, condition, or thing of which the first person had no  direct experience.”[11]

What we have are two   independent testimonies before the  Nuremberg Tribunal, by Andrej (Endre) Steiner and  Rudolf Kasztner, about their wartime conversations with Wisliceny,  the topic of which was Husseini’s key role in 1)  the decision to exterminate all of the  European Jews and, 2) the administration of the death-camp system. If these  two independent claims about what Wisliceny said  had not been corroborated by Wisliceny they would  still be significant, because they are independent and they agree. But in  fact these two independent testimonies were  corroborated by Wisliceny  himself. And Wisliceny most certainly did have “direct experience” of the  personal relationship between Eichmann and Husseini, because he was  Eichmann’s right-hand man.

So:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>1)     <!–[endif]–>we do have evidence that the Mufti’s  presence was a factor;

<!–[if !supportLists]–>2)     <!–[endif]–>this  evidence is not hearsay because it  comes from Wisliceny; and

<!–[if !supportLists]–>3)     <!–[endif]–>given what we know  about Husseini’s character, deeds, and timely  arrival in Berlin, Wisliceny’s claims certainly do  not conflict “with everything else that is known about the origins of the  Final Solution.”

So every word in the Medoff  passage that Wikipedia quotes is false.

We continue:

[Quote from  Wikipedia continues here]

Bernard Lewis also called Wisliceny’s  testimony into doubt: “There is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny’s statements, and it seems unlikely that the  Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from the outside.”[160]

[Quote from  Wikipedia ends here]

The full passage from Bernard Lewis’s work is the  following:

“According to Wisliceny, the Mufti was a friend of Eichmann and had, in  his company, gone incognito to visit the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Wisliceny even names the Mufti as being the ‘initiator’ of  the policy of extermination. This was denied, both by Eichmann at his trial  in Jerusalem in 1961, and by the Mufti in a press conference at about the  same time. There is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny’s statements, and it seems unlikely that the  Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from outside.” [12]

So Eichmann and Husseini deny it and this is enough  for Lewis… If we apply his standards to any ordinary criminal investigation  we will be forced to let the main suspect go the minute he himself and/or his  alleged accomplice deny the charges. Presto! This will save a lot of  unnecessary police work.

The same can be said for his curious insistence that  without “independent documentary confirmation” the testimony of witnesses can  be dispensed with. But, naturally, a great many things that happen in the  world are not recorded in a document. Eyewitness testimony must be considered  carefully, but saying that “there is no independent documentary confirmation”   of a particular piece of testimony is not the same thing as producing good  reasons to doubt it. And to say, in the absence   of conflicting evidence, that our null hypothesis will be to consider as  true the opposite of what was  testified to, why that is simply absurd.

The above is obvious but Lewis’s last argument—“it  seems unlikely that the Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from  outside”—will appeal to many as reasonable, so it  deserves a more extended comment.

What Lewis is saying is that the Nazis decided on  total extermination for reasons that were ‘endogenous’ to their ideological  program. But though killing lots of Jews as part of a campaign of terror and  to make lebensraum for deserving  Aryan specimens on the Eastern front was certainly part of general Nazi  policy, the ‘Final Solution,’ as pointed out above, was initially and for a  long time a program of mass expulsion,  and did not contemplate (yet) exterminating the entire European Jewish population. Getting to that point required  some ‘exogenous’ prodding (“from outside”); it was not an ideological  requirement.

Historian Thomas Marrus  writes: “After the riots of Kristallnacht in  November 1938, SS police boss Heydrich was ordered  to accelerate emigration, and Jews were literally driven out of the country.  The problem was, of course, that there was practically no place for them to  go.”[13] The reason there was no place  for them to go is that no country would receive them. As historian James  Carroll points out:  “The same leaders,  notably Neville Chamberlain and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had denounced the  anti-Jewish violence of the Nazis declined to receive Jews as refugees.   …Crucial to its building to a point of no return was Hitler’s discovery  (late) of the political indifference of the democracies to the fate of the  Jews…”[14]  Though one may argue that this was not really “indifference” on the part of  Roosevelt et al. but a very special   interest (in their doom).[15] The main point here is that, as  historian Gunnar Paulsson points out: “Expulsion  had initially been the general policy of the Nazis towards the Jews, and had  been abandoned largely for practical,  not ideological, reasons” (my emphasis).[16]

 

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The Nazis were right bastards. No disagreement. But  they did need some encouragement to go that   far. They needed to be told, first, that they would not get rid of any  Jews by pushing them out to the ‘Free World.’ And then they needed to be  told, by British creation Hajj Amin al Husseini, that neither could they push  them out to ‘Palestine.’ Bernard Lewis is wrong.

Perhaps Wikipedia would like to try again with a new  set of ‘supporting’ sources? We will be waiting to examine them.

 

http://www.hirhome.com/israel/nazis_palestinians.htm

 

 

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