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.”
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.”);
<!–[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. Various sources have repeated allegations, mostly ungrounded in documentary evidence, that he visited the death camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka and Mauthausen. 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.
[Quote from Wikipedia ends here]
Consider first the phrase “completely unfounded” as it attaches to any part of Wisliceny’s Nuremberg testimony.
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  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. 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.” 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.”
[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.
(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.”
[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.”
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.” 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.” Even after the conquest of Poland, writes Paulsson, “Jewish emigration continued to be permitted and even encouraged, while other expulsion plans were considered.” 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. 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.”
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.”
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.
<!–[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.
[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.”
[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.” 
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.” 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…” 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). 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).
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.