Sunday, June 01, 2014

Was the Farhud a Nazi event?

 Fritz Grobba, German ambassador to Baghdad: financed pro-Nazism in Iraq

How does one explain that Arabs murdered Jewish neighbours and policemen took off their uniforms and joined rioters in the Farhud pogrom, whose 73rd anniversary falls at the festival of Shavuot? Lawyers in Israel are bringing a case against the Israeli government for compensation by claiming that the pogrom, which claimed more victims than Kristallnacht, was a direct result of German-Nazi propaganda.  Haaretz reports: (With thanks: Imre; Lily)

A legal struggle that Farhud victims are waging against Israel provides a possible explanation of the motives. Based on the professional opinion of historians, the plaintiffs claim that Nazi Germany was behind it. Accordingly, they are demanding that the government recognize the victims of the Farhud as victims of the Nazis, granting them compensation and benefits according to the Disabled Victims of Nazi Persecution Law. Their claims, which were denied, are now being clarified by an appeals committee.

“If we do not convince them, we will appeal to the District Court and even to the Supreme Court,” say attorneys David Yadid, Doron Atzmon and Sivan Batsri, experts in the rights of Holocaust survivors and victims of Nazi persecution, who brought the lawsuit.

How much were the Nazis involved in Iraq?A look at the professional opinion written by the historians recruited by the parties provides a fascinating glimpse into the historical debate about Nazi Germany’s influence in Iraq and the suffering that the Nazis caused to Jews living in Arab countries, far from occupied Europe.

The historical material includes minutes of a German military discussion, the Nazi foreign ministry's correspondance, British army intelligence reports and the report of the investigative committee established in Iraq after the pogrom. The Iraqi prime minister, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani; the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini; Adolf Hitler and his book Mein Kampf; the Nazi radio station that broadcast from Berlin and had reception in Iraq; and the fascist youth movement that mirrored Germany’s Hitler Youth all play major roles in the material.

The plaintiffs claim that the riots against the Jews in Iraq were “a direct result of incitement and deliberate, organized German-Nazi propaganda whose purpose was to make the Jews hateful to the Arab inhabitants of Iraq and motivate them to strike at the Jews.”

Attorneys Yadid and Batsri are convinced that “the Germans were directly linked to the people who fueled, instigated and organized the riots, supported them and directed them.” They add: “The broad scope of the riots... and other historical sources prove that there was a directing hand behind the riots — the hand of Nazi Germany.” They see Iraq as a satellite and a vassal state of Nazi Germany.

But on the other side of the barricade is the Holocaust Survivors' Rights Authority at the Finance Ministry, whose officials claim that Nazi involvement in Iraq was marginal, meaning the case of Iraqi Jewry is not like that of other Jews subject to Nazi rule. The Authority says that the riots were caused by other factors, such as traditional hatred of Jews, a fight against supporters of the British and support for the Palestinian national struggle.

“Germany did not go out of its way to infiltrate Iraqi territory and establish a physical or ideological foothold there,” writes Dr. Yaacov Toby of the University of Haifa in his professional opinion. “Berlin’s affairs were directed toward the European continent, not elsewhere.” He added, “There was no expectation, and certainly no order, from the German government to the Iraqi government to carry out any government activity inside Iraq, and certainly not one of violent incidents or killing of Jews.”

The historical documents in archives in Israel and abroad were collected for the plaintiffs by Professor Yitzchak Kerem, an expert on Spanish and Oriental Jewry. In his professional opinion, he wrote, “The deciding factor in the outbreak of the Farhud was Nazi incitement against Iraq’s Jews, which was carried out by the Nazi regime through the representatives and agents it appointed.”He draws a firm conclusion. “The Farhud must be seen as an integral part of the Holocaust that the Nazi regime brought on our people.” He calls the Farhud “the Kristallnacht of Iraqi Jewry.”

Historian Dr. Nissim Kazaz, an expert on Iraqi Jewry whose father was killed in the riots, claims that the pogrom was “indisputably” the result of “ongoing anti-Jewish incitement by the emissaries of Nazi Germany and the Arab leaders who joined with them.” He said, “The participants in the pogrom were organizations, military people and police officers steeped in Nazi ideology beside the rioters, whom had been incited by Nazi Germany’s lackeys in Iraq.”

He also believes that the victims of the Farhud should be regarded as “inseparable from the victims and those affected by the Holocaust of European Jewry.”

To understand the Nazis’ influence in Iraq, we must return to 1932, the year the British mandate ended there. Dr. Fritz Grobba, an Orientalist and German diplomat stationed in Iraq as Germany’s ambassador, established the Nazi hold there. Before that, he had served in the German consulate in Jerusalem and fought on the Palestine front during World War I.

Among other activities, he acquired the newspaper Al-Alam Al-Arabi, in which he published an Arabic translation of Mein Kampf and other essays containing anti-Semitic propaganda. He sent Iraqi officers and intellectuals on trips to Germany as guests of the Nazi party. He also gave financial support to nationalist youth groups in Iraq and provided them with Nazi propaganda materials. A delegation from the Al-Futuwwa nationalist youth movement even visited Germany in May 1938, attended the Nazi party conference in Nuremberg and returned to Iraq armed with anti-Jewish messages.

“They made an effort to emulate and adopt the extremely anti-Semitic slogans and tendencies of the Hitler Youth,” wrote Professor Michael Eppel, former head of the Department of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa. This youth movement later participated in the pogrom, together with other groups. “The influence of Nazi Germany was the deciding factor in directing anger on the street toward physical attack, a pogrom against the Jews,” he wrote.

“The Iraqi politicians who encouraged it and handed out weapons to the worked-up crowd were among Germany’s strongest supporters, and they were very strongly influenced by the spirit of facism and Nazism.”

Dr. Toby disagrees. “Of the many factors that created the hostile atmosphere toward the Jews inside Iraq, the German one is at the bottom of the list. It was marginal, perhaps almost negligible, in comparison with other factors,” he wrote, adding, “The mere existence of propaganda is not enough... to base a conclusion about a link, expectation or intent by the Germans to carry out an act against the Jews inside Iraq.”

Another figure at the center of the claim is the Iraqi prime minister at the time, Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, who seized power in a coup in 1941 and established a pro-Nazi government that lasted for two months – the pogrom took place immediately upon the fall of this government. Professor Kerem collected testimonies proving that al-Gaylani’s government had been funded by the Nazis.

In a telegram sent on May 21, 1941 from Baghdad, Dr. Grobba, Germany’s ambassador in Iraq, writes that he transferred tens of thousands of gold ingots to al-Gaylani. Alongside that, he gives an update about al-Gaylani’s request for 80,000 more gold ingots and mentions the agreement that was about to be signed between Germany and Iraq, as part of which the Nazis would grant a loan of one million gold ingots to their allies in Baghdad.

Money and propaganda were not the only things the Nazis provided to Baghdad. They also sent weapons to Iraq in an attempt to help the Iraqis fight against a common enemy — the British. Professor Kerem found evidence of that in the archives of Germany’s Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry. He says that in the minutes of a meeting of the supreme German command from May 7, 1941, it is written that “Hitler decided to assist Iraq in every possible way, including sending arms, ammunition, money and military aid.”

Dr. Toby interprets this differently. “The Iraqis were courting the Germans enthusiastically and begging for their political, financial and military assistance. Throughout most of the period under discussion, Germany responded with indifference. It was only toward the end that they agreed to send limited assistance, which contributed nothing to the administration in Baghdad,” he wrote.Indeed, the German attempt to help the Iraqis fight the British failed.

 On May 29, 1941, after the British reached the gates of Baghdad, al-Gaylani fled from Iraq. The Jews thought that the danger had passed, and on the morning of the Shavuot festival, June 1, 1941, they emerged wearing their holiday clothing to welcome the pro-British ruler, who had returned to Iraq. But Iraqi troops set upon them, and within hours Jews were being attacked all over the city and in other places as well.

“Farhud, ya ummat Muhammad!” (Farhud, O nation of Mohammed!) was the cry of the mob when the signal was given to murder and rob the Jews,” (survivor) Hela Kargola later said. “Thousands, regardless of gender, age or status, took part in the celebration of slaughter and theft.”

Were the Nazis behind the pogrom, or was it a spontaneous outbreak of frustrated Iraqis? Researchers differ. In the heat of the dispute, an embarrassing situation has been created in which the state is being asked to defend the strongly pro-Nazi Dr. Grobba. In his professional opinion, Dr. Toby wrote that Grobba “was not of the sort of people who were sworn Nazis,” but rather “a professional diplomat who evidently stayed in office when the Nazis came to power, not because of strong faith in Nazi ideology.”

Dr. Kazaz, the plaintiffs’ expert, was irritated to read these assertions. “The truth is that Dr. Grobba was a professional diplomat serving his country and his homeland. And let us say that he was ‘not of the sort of people who were sworn Nazis,’ by Dr. Toby’s definition. The question still remains: what kind of Nazi does Dr. Toby think he was? And even if we work on the assumption that he was not a sworn Nazi, he still remains in the category of a Nazi.”

Read article in full


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

This is a yes, but situation. That is, yes this but that too. Or you are right and so is he.

By the way, I know both Dr Kerem and Dr Yosef Tobi [I think that Yaacov is a mistake].

To the point, Arab mobs have massacred Jews over the centuries without needing German encouragement, not only in Iraq but in Morocco, Egypt, etc. But in the case of the Farhud, of course Germans were around --like Grobba-- and encouraging Judeophobia and on a rather sophisticated level with the Protocols and Mein Kampf, etc. But the Iraqi investigating committee found the incitement stemming from Haj Amin el-Husseini and Palestinian Arab teachers in Iraq who followed him.

So I would agree that the Farhud was part of the Holocaust just as a massacre of Jews in occupied Latvia or Lithuania or Croatia could have been perpetrated by Latvians, Croats, etc. and in Iraq it was done by Arabs, in all those cases with the likely encouragement and instigation and/or approval of the Germans.

But we recall, that in 1933, just eight years before the Farhud, the Assyrian massacre took place with the enthusiastic approval of the mob in Baghdad. So the Germans did not have to teach Iraqi Arabs about the delights of massacring.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

for the Iraqi mob's enthusiasm for the Assyrian massacre, see link:

Sylvia said...

I think the litmus test for the Holocaust is not whether it was Nazi-inspired - but whether there is any evidence of them planning to carry out a final solution in Iraq.
As Eliahu noted, they didn't need this kind of inspiration to massacre Jews. Conversely, it is a well known fact and it came out at the Nuremberg trials, that many Nazis were influenced by the American Henry Ford's "the International Jew".

But as far as Iraq there was the added problem of Panarabism which in itself was a fascist ideology intolerant of those groups that didn't toe the official line. The 1933 Assyrian massacre was an example (the Assyrian/Chaldean community wasn't prepared to give up its ancient and glorious identity to become Arabs) and of course the Jews reputed to be stiff-necked.
All this is not to say that Husseini and Rashid didn't play their part. They did.
But there was very likely a convergence of a number of ideologies and causes that led to the massacre.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Henry Ford's The International Jew was a sort of pastiche of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And it did influence Germans. See links:

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

if we are talking about influences across borders, then an Indian [pre-Pakistani] Muslim influenced Hitler with his description of jihad.

Sylvia said...

ALL antisemitic pamphlets contain the same tropes, Eliahu. privilege, dominates the media, dominates the banks, "crimes", blood, etc., in short, nothing you can't find on Mondoweiss. There is nothing the Jew can do right. And if he does, it is denigrated as supremacism or - to use the term of the latest American antisemitic pamphlet - "exceptionalism".

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

I am saying that Mashriqi, the Indo-Pak Muslim [a Pakistani before there was a Pakistan] influenced Hitler in regard to jihad. As we know, one of hitler's principles was eternal kampf, that is struggle. And therefore kampf is parallel to jihad.
I don't think hitler needed to get his Judeophobia from Muslims or vice versa.

Sylvia said...

Great post Eliahu.
I am, however, convinced that Hitler had nothing to learn from Jihad. He and his executioners have very likely attended catechism classes and if not, knew Martin Luther on the Jews.

And he more than likely knew the history of the Crusades in the Middle Ages. The preaching was the same as that of Jihad, the massacring of Jews on their path was the same, the only difference is that a Crusade had to be called by the pope and was not a permanent command of the Christian faith.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Thanks, Sylvia
There is a lot of info out there that has been suppressed or buried or overlooked.

Anonymous said...

When i see the hatred tgar wz ABLE TO GENERATE=

I sometimes wonder how it is that we Jews are abke to raise so much hatred!!!

Youdith Shaked said...

Dr. Yaacov Toby stated: “Berlin’s affairs were directed toward the European continent, not elsewhere.”
Facts: 1. Hitler himself defined Europe, not as a continent, but as "the European nations and its colonies."

2. “On 28th May 1941 , Vichy France signed the Paris Protocol. … an agreement between Nazi Germany and Vichy-France … granted the Germans military facilities in Syria, Tunisia, and French West Africa.” “The Germans obtained military, naval, and economic concessions which gave them virtual control of North Africa. … Further Vichy concessions to the Germans in Africa at this time and in 1942 relating to supplies, convoys, ports, railroads, military cooperation in Tunisia” Michael Robert Marrus, Vichy France and the Jews, pp. 345-47.

3. Xavier Vallat reported to the German emabassy in Paris about the Jewish Question in Vichy France North Africa.

4. As per German primary sources, propaganda was VERY important and the starting point for any anti-Jewish measures.

Edith Shaked
Board Member, H-Holocaust