The Nazis had Muslims as allies

Muslim anti-Semitism : What Wolffsohn, Amthor, Merz and Co. withhold

Around the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet soldiers, there were also some irritating voices. The historian Michael Wolffsohn called for a new culture of remembrance in Germany that also includes Muslims. Literally he said: "As if, for example, the Muslim world had not cooperated with the Hitler gangs in the murder of the Jews and in World War II."

What is the factual content of the allegations against Muslims?

A little later, the CDU MP Philipp Amthor said: "It is also clear that one must not forget that anti-Semitism is of course particularly strong in Muslim cultures." Against the background of the migration of the past few years are "natural at this point." there are many worries for the Jewish population ”.

It was followed by Friedrich Merz, also CDU: “75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we are experiencing again anti-Semitism - mainly from the right, but also through the immigration of 2015/16. Many bring hatred of Jews with them, which is preached in their home countries. There can be no tolerance for that either. ”Finally, Thilo Sarrazin spoke up. “Fundamentally oriented Muslims” controlled the SPD. But that fell into the “bizarre” category.

Wolffsohn, Amthor and Merz were accused of exploiting the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz to rail against Muslim migrants. That was tactless, it was said, a diversion from German guilt and an ingratiation to the rhetoric of the AfD. This applies regardless of the factual content of their statements.

But what about this factual content? First there is the history: Were Muslims the willing executors of the Nazis? The meeting on November 30, 1941 in Berlin between the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al Husseini, and Adolf Hitler is legendary.

Al Husseini wanted the German Reich to support the “Arab struggle for independence and freedom” as well as “the destruction of a national Jewish home” in Palestine. He also helped recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen SS.

No ideological proximity between Islam and National Socialism

The Reichsführer of the SS and commander of the reserve army, Heinrich Himmler, justified this recruitment very pragmatically in a speech to party functionaries in 1944: “I have to say, I have nothing against Islam, because in this division he educates his people and promises them that Heaven if they fought and fell in battle. A practical and sympathetic religion for soldiers. "

However, the cooperation between al Husseini and Hitler was primarily based on partially congruent interests. The Mufti hoped for German help against the British occupation forces and against the establishment of a Jewish home.

Hitler saw the Muslims as ideal allies

Hitler saw the Muslims striving for independence as ideal allies against the colonial powers France and Great Britain. To derive an ideological closeness between Islam and National Socialism from this does not stand up to the facts.

Many more Muslims fought on the side of the Allies against Hitler than on the side of the Axis powers for him. This is what the historian David Motadel, who teaches at the London School of Economics, points out in his 2018 standard work “For Prophets and Leaders: The Islamic World and the Third Reich”: “From North Africa alone,” writes Motadel, “a quarter fought Million Muslims in the Free French Army and helped liberate Europe. "

Most of the Muslims in Hitler's army have no religious motivation

The same applies to hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the British military, many of them from India, as well as tens of thousands in the Red Army, mostly Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Turkmens. More than 20 million Muslims lived in the Soviet Union at that time.

[Currently on tagesspiegel.de: Coronavirus - what is it? How sick it makes you and what treatments are possible]

While Islam was primarily a “means to an end” for the Nazi regime, Motadel sums up, most of the Muslims who fought in the German army had no religious motives. “Many were recruited into prisoner-of-war camps. Their main concern was to escape the hunger and epidemics of the camp. "

Muslims helped Jews during World War II

Mehnaz M. Afridi, the director of the Manhattan College "Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center", also comes to the conclusion in her essay "The Role of Muslims and the Holocaust": "Muslims do not have the National Socialist mass murders, pogroms, concentration camps, Gas chambers and the 'final solution to the Jewish question'. "

Israel maintains a list of people who risked their lives to save Jews from murder during World War II. The “Righteous Among the Nations” include 70 Muslims.

More Jews in Albania after the war than before

In Albania, for example, which is predominantly Muslim, there were more Jews after the war than before the war. Many persecuted people from half a dozen European countries found refuge there.

What about the second claim, according to which immigrants from Muslim cultures are largely responsible for an increase in anti-Semitism in Germany? The Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior recorded around 1,800 anti-Semitic crimes in 2018, almost 90 percent of which can be assigned to the “right-wing phenomenon”, meaning that they were committed by right-wing extremists. 102 acts fell under “foreign ideology”, 52 were registered as “religiously motivated”.

Is “Muslim Person” a cipher for “Arabic”?

It is criticized, however, that anti-Semitic crimes fall under the category “right-wing” if no further specifics are recognizable and no suspects are known. In the study “Jewish Perspectives on Antisemitism in Germany” published by Bielefeld University in 2017, 81 percent of the victims of violent anti-Semitic crimes said they were attacked by “Muslim people”.

But how meaningful is such a feeling category? Hardly any victim will have asked the attacker about their religious affiliation. “Muslim person” seems to be more of a cipher for “Arabic” or “North African”. Outwardly, Iraqi Yazidis, Egyptian Copts and Syrian Christians can hardly be distinguished from Middle Eastern Muslims.

Many Muslims are completely non-religious

And whether the crime resulted from religion in each case is mostly unclear. Islam is a hereditary denomination; many Muslims are completely non-religious. The term “Muslim person” suggests a causality between belief and deed that is based at best on probability, but not on evidence.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that residents of Muslim countries have an above-average anti-Semitic attitude. According to the latest survey by the renowned Pew Research Center, 100 percent of Muslim Jordanians, 99 percent of Muslim Lebanese, 98 percent of Muslim Egyptians and 88 percent of Muslim Moroccans have a negative attitude towards Jews. In addition, there is a strong affinity for conspiracy theories. In no predominantly Muslim country does a majority of people believe that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were perpetrated by Muslims.

Intolerance towards Muslims is also increasing

However, one of the reasons for the anti-Semitism of young Muslim migrants is evidently an increasing hostility towards Islam. This is the result of a documentation of a school project published by the Federal Agency for Civic Education in April 2019.

In this context, many young people of Muslim faith justified their anti-Semitic attitudes by saying "that they themselves are being devalued and discriminated by the increasing hostility to Islam". The authors of the documentation warn against this "highly questionable mechanism". Various Pew studies also show that intolerance towards Muslims has risen dramatically in almost all European countries.

General Secretary of the Islamic World League visits Auschwitz

What to do? Perhaps that: Almost unnoticed by a wider public, the General Secretary of the Islamic World League based in Mecca, Sheikh Mohammad al Issa, visited the former German concentration camp Auschwitz with around 60 other Muslim representatives from all over the world. Together with the executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), David Harris, he went through the camp gate with the inscription “Arbeit macht frei” (work makes you free) and lit a candle on the so-called death wall.

Al Issa, who had previously condemned the denial and relativization of the Holocaust as a crime and an insult to the victims, spoke of a “holy duty” and “great honor”. The AJC, which organized the trip, called the visit "historic". Harris announced a return visit from his organization to Saudi Arabia. If Wolffsohn, Amthor and Merz were to honor such symbolic gestures instead of just complaining, the cause they should be concerned with would be served far better: fighting anti-Semitism in all its forms as well as racism and hostility towards Islam.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page