The Farhud massacre of Jews in Iraq began 80 years ago to the day. Matthias Kuntzel, German political scientist, writes in MENA Watch, that it would not have happened without German support.
Tuesday, June 01, 2021
Kuntzel: By 31 May, 'the Farhud was already a done deal'
With this coup a red line was reached for London. On May 2, 1941, the brief British-Iraqi war began. The defeat of al-Gailani was foreseeable. Hitler, for whom the imminent campaign against the Soviet Union had priority, could not really support his regime. At the end of May, the British armed forces were already close to Baghdad.
On May 31, the putschists, led by Rashid Ali al-Gailani and Amin el-Husseini, fled to Iran. At this point in time, the Farhud , which began a day later, was probably already a done deal: Muslims' businesses had been marked in advance so that they would not also be destroyed.
The massacre took place at the beginning of June in a power vacuum: the putschists had disappeared, the new government, which was close to the British, was not yet in office. A commission of inquiry later set up by the Iraqi government identified two causes for the pogrom: the agitation of Amin el-Husseini and the radio propaganda from Berlin.
What is known about this propaganda? The British-Iraqi conflict "opens up a good field for our Arab broadcasts", rejoiced Joseph Goebbels on May 3, 1941, when the conflict was approaching its climax. "We should try to use the Arab instincts only for our own purposes."
In the coming weeks, Islam in particular was used for the purposes of National Socialism. During these weeks the Mufti al-Husseini was in constant contact with the makers of Nazi radio in Zeesen near Berlin. The Arabic-language program of this Nazi station was known and loved in Baghdad. Al-Gailani allowed it to be spread more massively than ever during his brief reign.
On May 5, 1941, Radio Zeesen reported on the Mufti's call to “take up arms against England”. Al-Husseini presented Iraqi clergymen who solemnly declared that “no more Muslims will fight on the side of Britain without sinning against the interests of Islam”.
On May 11, 1941, the Nazi broadcaster quoted Amin el-Husseini again: "The Iraqi fight is a fight for all Mohammedans and thus a holy war of Islam." It quickly became apparent, however, that the putschists would have no chance without the support of Germany. But now the Mufti unceremoniously declared the 80,000 Jews living in Baghdad the scapegoat: They had transmitted information to the British and thus helped them advance.
Without the slightest evidence, he also blamed them for the failure of the al-Gailani coup in his later memoirs. On May 26, a few days before the massacre, Junus Bahri finally had his say on Zeesen.
Bahri, a former spokesman for Iraqi radio, was the figurehead of the Nazi broadcaster and extremely popular with his special address to the Arab masses.
He also used religion as an instrument to cheer his Iraqi audience on.