In 1941-42 Nazi Germany appeared to be invincible in North Africa against the British and in Eastern Europe against the Soviet Union. Some very specific plans were being drawn in Berlin to ensure the genocide of the Jews in Palestine. With the invasion of Egypt at hand, many Arab nationalists seeking to eliminate British and French presence in North Africa and the Near East looked to a leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, for guidance.
The Mufti visited Axis capitals and met Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. Not only did Nazi Germany promise to end the European “colonial presence” that had replaced the Ottoman Empire after 1918, it also pledged to wipe out the Jews who had been living in Palestine since time immemorial as well as the new arrivals from the beginning of the modern Zionist movement in the nineteenth century and following the Balfour Declaration in 1917.
The process of extermination was about to be activated and the SS and SD officers had been selected and assigned to the effort. They were to operate behind the lines with the help of those in the region who were eager to join the task force. When the Afrika Korps was defeated at El Alamein, the Einsatzkommando shifted its operations to Tunisia, where it implemented cruel anti-Jewish policies for many months. The authors have identified the relevant documents and analyzed the racist, ideological, political, and religious implications of the planning of a specific regional extermination program within the context of the Holocaust.
“It is to the credit of the authors…that they have been assiduous in locating information either inaccessible or overlooked before….The book is especially strong in its portrayal of substantial affinities between many Arab leaders and National Socialism. It is not just that they believed that they had the same enemies; there was a far greater convergence of beliefs than much of the literature—and subsequent apologias—would lead one to believe.”
— Gerhard L. Weinberg, Central European History
“A very important study regarding German-Arab collaboration during World War II against the Jews in the Arab world in general and in Palestine in particular.”
— Jewish Book World
“Compelling….The Einsatzkommando…that accompanied Rommel’s Africa Corps counted on Arab assistance in the destruction of Palestinian Jewry in the same way that collaborators in Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine aided the Nazi death squads in eastern Europe. The authors….both academics at German universities….reject the argument that Arab support for Hitler was due only to the Zionist movement. Rather, they argue, Haj Amin Husseini, the leader of the Arab revolt against Great Britain in Palestine, and Rashid Ali Gailani, the leader of the pro-Nazi revolt in Iraq, shared the same anti-Semitic view of all Jews, not just Zionists, as did the National Socialists. The authors conclude that the Nazi regime tried much more concretely than previously supposed to physically destroy the Jews of Palestine, and that this objective would have received widespread and active support from the Arabs. Recommended.”
“[The publisher] should be complimented for bringing [this book] to the English-reading world….[It] …contains…clear-headed analysis…of the relationship between the Muslim world…and the National Socialists….It describes how the common value of Jew-hating and anti-Zionism made Palestine a ripe prize and rallying point both strategically and politically for Islamists, Arab nationalists, and Nazis….The book…paint[s] the disastrous probable outcome of a ‘Nazi Palestine,’ but it is much more than that. It is a book about what did happen, not a fantasy. It makes clear that the outcome of a success of the Arab/Nazi coalition in WWII would have been genocide of the Jews, led by Germans and enforced by Arabs.
“[The authors] show us the irrational roots of history…[and] discuss how useful the irrationality of Jew-hating was as a tool for uniting Muslims and Nazis….[The book] displays the toxic mix of Nazi and Muslim antisemitism, showing how the Germans exploited its pragmatic and historical tendency in the Middle East….[and] it gives us a lot of facts useful in drawing conclusions and in providing an understanding of how, in much of the Palestinian population, this antisemitism was transformed into genocidal hate and political ammunition….
“Probably the most shocking and freshest research in Nazi Palestine is the information on the Einsatzkommando and Rommel’s Afrika Korps…. The readiness of this unit, along with assurances of Arab leaders of assistance in the mass murder of the Jewish populations, gave little doubt of the anti-Semitic genocide about to take place….The Einsatzkommando [was]…about [to be] use[d] in the implementation of the Holocaust in the Middle East….There were Arab troops in Greece waiting for deployment.
“Mallmann and Cüppers did not write a survey of all of Arab hearts and minds. They wrote instead a shocking and dangerously revealing story of a significant threat to the world reflected in the relevance of Nazi ideology and Nazi values to many Arabs. We hear in modern voices rising from Palestine and the Middle East repetitions of those genocidal threats that seem to have been coined in the 1930s and ‘40s. There should be room to defend against a blanket condemnation of a whole people as ‘Nazis.’ At the same time, there should be an awareness of a legacy of Nazi sympathizers that exists in the Middle East….
“The public has a tendency to keep their eyes shut tight and not see the uncomfortable even if it is obvious. It is the role of the researcher to pry those eyes open through well-researched material, allowing scholars and the public to see the facts. The authors of Nazi Palestine have done just that with good scholarship and potent writing.”
— David Sokol, Journal for the Study of Antisemitism
Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers are German historians at the University of Stuttgart’s Forschungsstelle Ludwigsburg. Among their many well-received publications are Mallmann’s (with Bogdan Musial), ed., Genesis des Genozids: Polen 1939-1941 and Cüppers’ Wegbereiter der Shoah: Die Waffen-SS, Der Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS und die Judenvernichtung 1939-1945.