The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, an Arab nationalist, prominent Muslim religious leader, and wartime propagandist for Nazi Germany.
Muhammad Amin al-Husayni (189?-1974) was the Mufti (chief Muslim Islamic legal religious authority) of Jerusalem under the political authority of the British Mandate in Palestine from 1921 to 1937. His primary political causes were: 1) establishment of a pan-Arab federation or state; 2) opposition to further immigration of Jews to Palestine and Jewish national aspirations in Palestine; 3) promotion of himself as a pan-Arab and Muslim religious leader.
In exile between 1937 and 1945, al-Husayni, claiming to speak for the Arab nation and the Muslim world, sought an alliance with the Axis powers (Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy) based on their publicly recognizing 1) the independence of the Arab states; 2) the right of those states to form a union reflecting a dominant Muslim and specifically Arab culture; 3) the right of those states to reverse steps taken towards the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine; and 4) al-Husayni himself as the spiritual and political representative of this pan-Arab, Muslim entity. In exchange, al-Husayni collaborated with the German and Italian governments by broadcasting pro-Axis, anti-British, and anti-Jewish propaganda via radio to the Arab world; inciting violence against Jews and the British authorities in the Middle East; and recruiting young men of Islamic faith for service in German military, Waffen-SS , and auxiliary units. In turn, the Germans and the Italians used al-Husayni as a tool to inspire support and collaboration among Muslim residents of regions under Axis control and to incite anti-Allied violence and rebellion among Muslims residing beyond the reach of German arms.
Despite his collaboration, the Axis powers were unwilling to promote al-Husayni's political ambitions as he wished. As the Nazi regime collapsed in 1945, French authorities took al-Husayni into custody. He escaped to Egypt in 1946. Al-Husayni devoted the remainder of his life to supporting Palestinian nationalism and to agitating against the State of Israel. He continued to produce and disseminate anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel propaganda. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 4, 1974.
For more information, see:
Gerhard Weinberg, 'World War II Leaders and Their Visions for the Future of Palestine" (PDF) »
Online Exhibition—State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda »
Online Exhibition theme—Additional Propagandists on Trial »