Nazism in the 1947-1949 Arab-Israeli War

BACKGROUND

In November of 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of partitioning Palestine, then under the control of the British, into one Jewish and one Arab state (for more background on this, please see my posts A HISTORY OF POGROMS IN PALESTINE and THE ZIONISTS & THE BRITISH: WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED). The very next day, on November 30, the deeply pro-Nazi Arab leadership in Palestine, the Arab Higher Committee, called for protests and a strike.

Arab mobs attacked Jews near the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, Arab gunmen ambushed two Jewish buses near Petah Tikva, killing 7, and Arab snipers began shooting at Jewish buses and pedestrians in Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. This violence marked the beginning of a civil war between the Arabs of Palestine and the Jews.

In accordance to the United Nations Plan for the Partition of Palestine and the end of the British Mandate, Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, while still in the midst of the civil war. The morning of May 15, a military coalition under the auspices of the Arab League, including Egypt, Transjordan (Jordan), Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, invaded the newly established nation.

There is a misconception that the first 100,000 Palestinian refugees fled before the start of the war. While they did flee before the foreign Arab armies invaded, the civil war had already broken out before they left. The first refugees fled by March 1948; the war had been ongoing since the previous November.

There is much to say about the 1947-1949 war. But a topic that’s barely been discussed is the SS military training of the Arab Higher Committee and Arab League, as well as their collaboration with the Nazi regime in the lead up to and during the Holocaust. What’s been discussed even less is the fact that, with the outbreak of the war in Palestine just 2-3 years after the end of World War II, former Nazis joined the Arab forces to, quite literally, try to finish the job that Hitler had started.

 

BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST

In 1933, just two months after Hitler came to power, the leader of the Arab Higher Committee (the Arab leadership in Mandatory Palestine), Haj Amin al-Husayni, called the German consulate in Jerusalem, offering his congratulations.

He stated: “Muslims inside and outside Palestine welcome the new regime in Germany…Muslims hope for a boycott of the Jews in Germany because it would then be adopted with enthusiasm in the whole of the Muslim world.”

In November of 1933, the Nazis themselves revealed that they had established a direct contact with the Arab leadership in Palestine, with the hopes of “adapting the Nazi program” to the Holy Land.

In 1935, the Husaynis established the Palestinian Arab Party, modeled after the Nazi Party in Germany. Inspired by the Hitler Youth, the party created a Nazi-like scout group named “Al-Futuwwa.” After the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed in 1935, various Palestinian Arabs sent letters congratulating Hitler. In 1936, a popular Arab newspaper urged Arabs to go to Germany to fight for the Nazis. That same year, the al-Futuwwa youth corps began Nazi-inspired military training.

During the Great Arab Revolt (1936-1939), which culminated in various anti-Jewish massacres, the British quickly suspected Nazi involvement, noticing that the Arab rioters carried smuggled Nazi weaponry. The Jerusalem police found that the Arabs had received 50,000 pounds from Germany and 20,000 pounds from Italy. The British also suspected the Germans of planning the 1938 pogrom in Tiberias, which resulted in the massacre of 19 Jews, including 11 children.

 

DURING THE HOLOCAUST

In 1940 (and again in 1941), al-Husayni drafted a declaration of German-Arab cooperation. In October of 1941, al-Husayni traveled to Rome, meeting with various Italian leaders, including Benito Mussolini, during which, reportedly, they discussed their hostility to Jews and Zionism. In November of 1941, al-Husayni met with German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and with Hitler himself. In 1957, a top secret document came to light, which revealed that Germany and Italy recognized the right of the Arabs to “solve the Jewish question” in Palestine and other Arab nations.

Right in the midst of World War II, the Nazis continued to arm the Arabs in Palestine. Throughout the Arab world, the Nazis enacted a massive propaganda campaign. Nazi war planes dropped leaflets inciting the Arabs to start a “holy war” against the Jews and the British. This propaganda culminated in massacres, most notably, the Farhud in Iraq in 1941, which took the lives of up to 1000 Jews.

In 1943, al-Husayni declared: “It is the duty of Muhammadans [Muslims] in general and Arabs in particular to...drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries...[Germany has] very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world.” During WWII, al-Husayni worked for the Axis powers as a propagandist to target Arab and Muslim public opinion, and he recruited 6,000 Arab soldiers from various countries (including Palestine) to train with the Nazis. In a 1944 radio broadcast, he stated: “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion.” In 1944, al-Husayni recruited a group of Palestinian paratroopers to train under the Germans in the Netherlands.

In addition to al-Husayni, other prominent Palestinian leaders working directly for the Nazis included Akram Zuaiter, Jamal Hussein, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, Mu’in al-Madi, Amin Tamimi, Abd al-Qader al-Husayni.

 

OPERATION ATLAS

Operation Atlas was a secret operation carried by the Nazi SS that aimed to establish an intelligence-gathering base in Mandatory Palestine. Two Palestinian Arabs, close collaborators of al-Husayni, were involved in the operation.

The purpose of the intelligence base was to radio information from Mandatory Palestine to Germany and to recruit and arm anti-British Palestinians, buying their support with gold. Another objective was to exacerbate tensions between Jews and Arabs, which would destabilize the British.

On October 6, 1944, the five men carrying out Operation Atlas parachuted over Jericho with submachine guns, dynamite, radio equipment, a duplicating machine, an Arab-German dictionary, money in various currencies, and explosives. On October 9, the British found the dispersed cargo boxes and were alerted to the operation.

Hasan Salama, who later went on to establish the Army of the Holy War during the 1947-1949 war, was injured during the operation. Abdul Latif and two Germans involved hid in a cave in Wadi Qelt. Some days later, all those involved in the operation save for Salama and a German, were captured by the British.

A few historians allege that part of the purpose of Operation Atlas, specifically thought of by al-Husayni, was to poison the water supply in Tel Aviv to kill about 25,000 Jews. Other historians claim there is no such evidence for that part of the plan.

 

PALESTINIAN PUBLIC OPINION

During World War II, Arab public opinion in Palestine was ardently pro-Nazi. Opinion surveys at the time concluded that 88% of Arabs supported the Germans, while 9% supported the British, and the rest had no opinion.

In Jaffa, Nablus, and Tulkram, people gathered for protests chanted: “Viva Italia! Viva Duce! And Heil Hitler!”

During World War II, the Jews of Palestine came out en masse to join the British military. The British, afraid that Jews joining their troops would cause tension with the Arabs, stated that Jews could only join on the condition that an equivalent number of Palestinian Arabs join as well.

As such, Jews offered compensation to Palestinian Arabs to enlist. Even so, only 9,000-12,000 Arabs enlisted, as opposed to 30,000 Palestinian Jews who fought for the British, even though the Jewish population was much smaller. According to the British, many of the Palestinian Arab volunteers ended up deserting.

 

1947-1949 WAR

After World War II, most of the Palestinian Arab leaders who’d been exiled by the British as a result of the violence in the 1930s were allowed to return to Palestine. Following the vote on the 1947 Partition Plan, the Arab Higher Committee warned the British not to intervene in their violence against the Jews. The Arab Higher Committee published a leaflet stating: “The Arabs have taken the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.”

Between 1948-1949, 1000 former Bosnian Muslim SS members joined the Palestinians in their fight against the Jews. Hundreds of members from the 13th and 23rd SS Divisions volunteered as well.

The Palestinian paramilitary organizations were deeply involved with the Nazis as well. Hasan Salama, the founder of the Army of the Holy War, was formerly a major in the Nazi military. Additionally, he enlisted another German officer as his adviser. Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, a commander in the Army of the Holy War, also received Nazi military training.

The Arab League-sponsored Arab Liberation Army also had a former Nazi propagandist, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, as its commander. Fawzi el Kutub, known for various bombings that destroyed synagogues and killed dozens of Jews, had also trained with the SS.

 

BLACK INTERNATIONAL & HAIFA

In early 1948, 30,000 army veterans from various fascist forces created an army known as Black International. Some of the members included Nazi soldiers, a pro-Nazi renegade Soviet battalion, and pro-Nazi Poles and Yugoslavs, as well as the Muslim members of a brigade that al-Husayni had organized to fight alongside the Nazis. Black International attacked Jewish towns and kibbutzim.

A source close to the group commented: “These Poles, Russians, Germans and Yugoslavs…are the Arabs fighting for national liberation…Actually their cynical joy is unbounded at the double gift which has been handed them — the opportunity to butcher Jews, and get paid for it.”

In December of 1947, former Nazis were already training Arab groups. A January 1948 report found that 30 former Nazi POWs were participating in Arab battles, 15 of them training Arab soldiers in Hebron. On May 22, an Egyptian aircraft was shot down; 3 of its 5 pilots were actually likely Nazi Germans.

In 1948, when the Arabs capitulated the city of Haifa, the Arabs refused to surrender the Nazi Germans fighting for them. In fact, the leader of the Arab revolt in Haifa was actually a German.

For a full bibliography of my sources, please head over to my Patreon