mufftinazis.jpgPalestine Judenrein, a Palestine without Jews? It almost happenned! When British General Bernard Montgomery defeated German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel‘s “Afrika Korps” in the battle of El Alamein (Nov. 3rd, 1942), he didn’t just end the Nazis’ Africa campaign and turn the tide of the war, but he also saved the 500,000 Jews of British Mandate Palestine.

This according to two German historians in a study published last month:

The director of the Nazi research center in Ludwigsburg, Klaus-Michael Mallman, and Berlin historian Martin Cueppers say an Einsatzgruppe was all set to go to Palestine and begin killing the roughly half a million Jews that had fled Europe to escape Nazi death camps like Auschwitz and Birkenau.

The historians noted that Einsatzgruppe Egypt was standing by in Athens and was ready to head off for Palestine in the summer of 1942. The Middle East death squad, similar to those operating throughout eastern Europe during the war, where they were responsible for 1 million murders, was to be led by SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Walther Rauff. In much the same way they had operated in eastern Europe, the plan was for the 24 members involved in the death squad to enlist Palestinian collaborators so that the “mass murder would continue under German leadership without interruption.”

Einsatzgruppe Egypt was formed shortly after Palestinian leader and Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, visited Hitler in Berlin and offered the services of his people to the cause of the Third Reich. In late 1941 al-Husseini arrived in Mussolini’s Rome and, after friendly chats with Il Duce and the Fuhrer, got the Fascist and Nazi leaders to make a joint pronouncement committing their nations to helping in “the elimination of the Jewish national home in Palestine.” Follow-up meetings in Berlin between the Mufti and Hitler resulted in an understanding, according to the American historian Howard M. Sachar, whereby Hitler’s forces would invade Palestine with the goal being “not the occupation of the Arab lands but solely the destruction of Palestine Jewry.”

Of course Einsatzgruppe Egypt never made it out of Greece. Rommel was defeated at Al Alamein and later committed suicide – it was rumored that he had been involved in a failed assasination plot against Hitler.

“The history of the Middle East would have been completely different and a Jewish state could never have been established if the Germans and Arabs had joined forces,” the historians conclude.

Hell yeah it would have been completely different. I wouldn’t be writing this for one thing! But anyhow – and I don’t mean to be a dick or anything – I guess it’s kind of important to note how only 64 years ago, the Arab leadership of Palestine actively collaborated in a very real plan to commit genocide against the Jews in their midst. I’d like to think things have changed, but when current (and duly elected) Palestinian leaders dream of a world map without Israel, echoing the sentiments of their nuclear armed taskmasters, it kind of makes you wonder.

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

14 Comments

  • Thanks for the post. Just a small note: the Einsatzgruppen in Europe were responsible for about 1.5 million murders of Jews over 18 months, not 1 million Jews.

    PS Great graphic!

  • Just a small nit: I don’t know whether you intended to do this or not, but you make it seem like Rommel committed suicide not long after the defeat at El Alamein. However, Rommel did play a major role planning the German defense at Normandy (albeit severly hampered by Hitler) and then was forced to committ suicide in 1944, after being implicated in the assassination plot as you correctly point out.

    But, thanks for the informative post and link.

  • The German strategy in 1942 was to attempt to link the Afrika Korps with Army Group South in the Southern Soviet Union. The latter advanced into the Caucasus with a view to making it to Iraq. Rommel never got further east than El Alamein.

    I rather doubt that Hitler would have been any nicer to the Arabs than he was to his would-be Slavic collaborators.

  • . . . Speaking of the German resistance, btw: Claus von Stauffenberg’s widow died a week ago last Sunday– having survived her husband by some 61 years after his death on the night of 20 July 1944. “May perpetual light shine upon her . . .”

  • “Kind of makes you wonder”?

    What’s to wonder, ck?

    And some people bitch when I call these people Nazis.

    I had a friend in high school who insisted he was the reincarnation of Claus von Stauffenberg. Went around at SF conventions in a uniform pretending his arm was paralyzed from when von Stauffenberg’s car was strafed.

    Strange as it may seem, he was not a bad fellow.

    Pity von Stauffenberg’s plan didn’t work and that it took him so long to do it.

    A Kosher and Freyliche Pesach, Jewlicious.

  • Oh, yeah, is or is not that pic of the actual Grand Mufti a dead ringer for Peter Sellers?

  • Ephraim, I was thinking the muffti looked more like Alec Guiness circa “Lavender Hill Mob.”

  • Poor Stauffenberg. He just wasn’t efficient enough in the bathroom.

    And Ephraim’s off-base in criticizing S as tardy. He began plotting as soon as he obtained security clearance to participate in briefings at Hitler’s HQ. That occurred on July 1, 1944 (the day S was promoted to colonel).

  • Right, right, Alec Guiness! That’s it!

    Why did I think Peter Sellers?

    OK, Tom, point taken. Didn’t realize I was talking to a WWII buff. I guess it was more of a general comment: why didn’t somebody (not just Stauffenberg) do it sooner? I guess I can’t fault Stauffenberg. Pity he didn’t use a bigger bomb, or put it somewhere else instead of behind that massive table leg. Bad luck.

  • That’s the bathroom part, Ephraim. S was scheduled to participate in a briefing at a prearranged time, and shortly beforehand left for the bathroom with a co-conspirator. The plan was to assemble and pack two bombs in briefcases. S and his colleague took longer than expected, and S’s superiors shouted into the bathroom stalls to tell him to get back to the briefing. One bomb was uncompleted and abandoned; had both been used, the whole HQ complex would have blown up.

  • The what ifs just pile up. If Monty had been a bit more aggressive in his pursuit of the Afrika Korps the Nazi’s would have perhaps been unable to commit the havoc they did all over the Mediterranean for the next few years. If the Mufti (and other Arab leaders) had played footsie with the Brits then and in ’48, there would have been two states created in British Mandate Palestine. But Hitler’s Russian Front Army Group South never made it much beyond the Caucasus or Yougoslavia in their thrust south from the USSR. Tito made certain that it was a bloody business too.

    I still run into Jews who’ve got no earthly idea of the Einsatzgruppe, nor the whole gradual industrial development and refinement of the death camps.

    Cheery thoughts perhaps. Lest we forget, the specter genocide ever haunts us in every generation. Thanks for the post. ‘VJ’

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