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The Passion of Max von Oppenheim

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Lionel Gossman

III. “The Kaiser’s Spy” under National Socialism; “Leben Im ns-Staat, 1933–1945”

13. Plotting for Nazi Germany Oppenheim′s Role in the Middle East Policy of the Third Reich

Texte intégral

  • 1 See Ludmila Hanisch, Die Nachfolger der Exegeten. Deutschsprachige Erforschung des Vorderen Orient (...)
  • 2 William L. Cleveland, Islam against the West: Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationali (...)
  • 3 William L. Cleveland, Islam against the West, Ch. 7, note 17, p. 200: ″Von Oppenheim began one of (...)

1One topic of conversation between Prüfer and his old mentor at these lunches was assuredly familiar to both of them from their years together in Cairo just before World War I; for both were once again engaged in plots, this time involving Arab leaders and Nazi officials, to stir up trouble for the British in the Middle East. Prüfer, hardly back from Brazil, had just replaced another Auswärtiges Amt associate of Oppenheim′s, Fritz Grobba, as the Amts man in charge of German relations with the Arabs and his visits to Oppenheim were almost certainly inspired, at least in part, by a desire to benefit from the old man′s experience. As for Oppenheim himself, while most of his Jewish Orientalist colleagues—and some non-Jewish ones—had emigrated,1 he seems to have thought of himself as a patriotic German who, since before World War I, had consistently placed his expertise and his many connections in the Islamic world at the service of his country. Now in his early 80s, he had been retired for many years from the Auswärtiges Amt, by which he had once been employed (albeit always, as we saw, in some special capacity, never as a regular career diplomat), but he had apparently not severed his links with it or with colleagues still on active duty in it. Thus from 1926 on he had made a practice of sending the Oriental Section at the Auswärtiges Amt copies of all the communications he received from Shakib Arslan, the Geneva-based Lebanese Druze and champion of Islamic unity and independence, with whom he had worked during World War I and who thought of Oppenheim as his ″très cher ami et frère.″2 Moreover, he appears to have promoted a direct exchange of letters between Arslan and von Richthofen, the deputy head of the Oriental Section, and to have consulted with the latter before himself replying to Arslan.3

  • 4 Rivalry and disagreement with al-Gailani (Akten der deutschen auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945, Serie (...)
  • 5 Werner Otto von Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstreise (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962), p. (...)
  • 6 Ibid., pp. 193, 329.

2There is in fact every reason to believe that Oppenheim was later quite actively involved in relations and negotiations between officials of the Third Reich and the leaders of the pro-Axis Arab independence and unity movements. Among the former, he knew the career diplomats von Richthofen (1879-1952), Prüfer (1881-1959), Grobba (1880-1973), and the latter′s rival at the Auswärtiges Amt Werner Otto von Hentig (1886-1984), from having served like them in the Middle East before and during the First World War. Von Richthofen had been Third Secretary at the German Consulate-General in Cairo from 1911 until 1914; Prüfer, as we saw, had also been posted to Cairo in the years before World War I and then saw service in Constantinople, where he almost certainly met up again with Oppenheim; Grobba had occupied a position similar to Prüfer′s in Jerusalem and the two men had come to know each other well;4 and von Hentig, having already been assigned to the German embassies in Teheran and Constantinople, where for a time he and Prüfer lodged together,5 had shared with Oskar Niedermayer the leadership of a famous mission to Afghanistan shortly after the outbreak of World War I, the object of which was to bring Afghanistan into the War on the side of the Central Powers and arouse the Indians to rebel against the British. Oppenheim, it will be remembered, had recommended Niedermayer for this mission. If Prüfer referred to Oppenheim as ″Onkel Max,″ Hentig wrote of him no less affectionately as ″mein alter Freund ′Maxbaron′ Oppenheim.″6

  • 7 Cleveland, Islam against the West: Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationalism pp. 139- (...)
  • 8 Ibid., p. 141 and Ch. 7, note 18 (p. 200).
  • 9 Ibid., p. 142. Sensing that his man would not take no for an answer, Prüfer even took the trouble (...)
  • 10 Not coincidentally perhaps, the failure of al-Gailani′s coup, was immediately followed in Baghdad, (...)

3Among the Arab leaders, Oppenheim, as noted, was a longtime friend of Shakib Arslan, who in turn had been an advocate of co-operation between proponents of Islamic unity and Germany since the turn of the century.7 Arslan had stood at the Kaiser′s side when the latter made his celebrated proclamation in Damascus in 1898,8 had lived in Berlin in the last years of the First World War and again at various periods in the 1920s during his long years of exile from Syria (mostly spent in Geneva), and had been one of the first to seek direct contact with the Nazis after they came to power. In late 1934 he had written to Prüfer presenting the advantage to Berlin of a German commitment to the Muslims in what he claimed was the highly likely eventuality of a new war between France and Germany and suggesting that a meeting be arranged for him with officials of the German government in Berlin—a proposal to which Prüfer responded negatively, deeming it, in accordance with Nazi foreign policy at the time, dangerous and impractical.9 Oppenheim also quickly got to know the two most active advocates of the Arab cause in Rome and Berlin during World War II: Haj Amin al-Husseini, the fiercely anti-British, anti-Zionist (and anti-Jewish) Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who had fomented both the Arab riots of 1929 in Palestine and the major revolt that broke out in 1936, and Rashid Ali al-Gailani, a no less strongly anti-British former Prime Minister of Iraq and leading figure in the Arab independence movement. To escape imprisonment by the British, al-Husseini had had to flee in October 1937 first to French-held Lebanon, then to Iraq, where he was welcomed as a hero and courted, on account of his enormous prestige, popularity, and influence, even by the ostensibly pro-British Prime Minister Nuri al-Said. Abetted by al-Husseini, encouraged by Grobba, then German ambassador to Iraq, and counting on aid from Germany, al-Gailani led a 1941 coup that overthrew Nuri al-Said and the pro-British Regent Abdul-Ilah. Having once again become Prime Minister, he ordered the Iraqi army to attack the British air base at Habbaniya, only to be almost immediately ousted in turn by an invading British force and obliged to seek refuge, along with al-Husseini, first in Teheran and then (when Iran was in turn occupied soon after by the British and the Russians) in the capitals of the Axis powers. Strongly in sympathy in any case with the ideologies of the Fascists and National Socialists and, in al-Husseini′s case especially, with the violent anti-Jewish policies of the latter, the two leaders eagerly threw in their lot with the Axis and tried to tie the Arab and Islamic cause to that of Berlin and, to a lesser extent, Rome.10

  • 11 Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer, pp. 77, 119. In March 1937, Mussolini had opportunistically (...)
  • 12 Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propagandafor the Arab World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009 (...)

4That was not as easy as one might have thought. There is general agreement among most historians that on the Arab side National Socialist Germany was much admired. (Fascist Italy considerably less so—despite al-Husseini′s high regard for Mussolini and the latter′s proclaiming himself the Protector of Islam11—on account of Italy′s conquest and colonial occupation of Libya and brutal suppression of revolts in that country.) But there is equally general agreement that Hitler, for various reasons, dragged his feet in the matter of collaboration with the Arab independence movement, or with any other independence movement of colonial peoples. From his racist perspective, the Arabs were alien and inferior, like the Jews. ″In contrast to hopes in Imperial Germany for aid from the Arabs in World War I,″ one scholar writes, referring to and citing Mein Kampf, ″Hitler harbored no hopes for ′any mythical uprising in Egypt.′ [...] English machine guns and fragmentation bombs would bring such a holy war ′to an infernal end.′ It was [.] ′impossible to overwhelm with a coalition of cripples a powerful state that is determined to stake, if necessary, its last drop of blood for its existence. As a volkish man, who appraises the value of men on a racial basis, I am prevented by mere knowledge of the racial inferiority of these so-called oppressed nations from linking the destiny of my own people with theirs.′″12

5Hitler, according to Hans-Ulrich Seidt,

  • 13 Cit. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, Berlin Kabul Moskau: Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer und Deutschlands Geopoli (...)

was not interested in collaborating with the colonial peoples oppressed and exploited by the British. He had a very clear recollection of the years 1920-1921, when his party was beginning to gain a footing politically in Munich. At that time there was talk in nationalist circles in the Bavarian capital of the NSDAP′s forming an alliance, as the ″freedom movement of the German nation,″ with all ″oppressed nations.″ Various Egyptians and Indians were introduced to Hitler; they impressed him as ″pompous asses full of verbiage but devoid of any solid foundation in reality.″ He was irritated that even in the nationalist camp there were Germans ″who let themselves be taken in by Orientals with such an inflated sense of their own importance.″ For that reason he took a firm stand early on, in Munich, against his party′s entering into political relationships with representatives of oppressed colonial peoples. ″I have always resisted any such engagements. Not simply because I have better things to do than to waste weeks in such fruitless palavers. Even if one were to be dealing with authentic, authorised representatives of such nations, I considered the whole business unsuitable, indeed quite harmful.″13

6Consistently with this position, Hitler expressed no interest in collaboration with Indians working to free their country from the British and no confidence that a ″coloured″ people could ever overcome its superior white Northern masters. On the contrary, he often expressed admiration for the achievement of a small ″Germanic″ people, such as the British, in conquering and establishing its rule over large non-European territories and populations.

  • 14 As late as 19 May 1941, after Hess′s surprise landing in Scotland, Secretary of State von Weizsäck (...)
  • 15 Documents cited in Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer, p. 78.

7A second impediment to Hitler′s responding positively to the overtures of Arab leaders, notably al-Husseini and al-Gailani, was in fact his enduring hope of working out an arrangement with the British, whereby in return for his being given a free hand in Europe, he would respect and uphold the integrity of the British Empire.14 There was, in addition, much doubt about the readiness and capacity of the Arabs to engage in military action. In a memorandum of 29 July 1937, entitled ″The Palestine Question,″ von Hentig had noted that the only strong protests against the partition of Palestine recommended by the Peel Commission had come from the Mufti, al-Husseini, and from the Iraqi government. All the other Arab and Muslim countries, though opposed to ″permitting the Jewish state to come into being,″ were ″not in the least inclined to quarrel with England over this question.″ Two weeks later a document on the same topic, prepared at Secretary of State von Weizsácker′s request, stated that ″in view of the development of Anglo-German relations, a decision to support the Arab world with money and arms is out of the question.″ An additional memorandum instructed German missions abroad, in diplomatic steps connected with Palestine, to take care that the Reich′s ″relations with England should under no circumstances be placed under unnecessary strain″ and to keep in mind ″the notorious political unreliability of the Arabs.″15

8A lucid summary of Hitler′s position in Middle East politics is provided by the historian Francis Nicosia, who sees it as adapting, but not essentially diverging from, that of Weimar:

  • 16 Francis R. Nicosia, ″Fritz Grobba and the Middle East Policy of the Third Reich,″ in Edward Ingram (...)

The most comprehensive account of Weimar policy in the region was to be provided by Moritz Sobernheim, head of the Jewish affairs section of the German foreign office. In a lengthy report on a visit to Palestine in the spring of 1925, he set out as Germany′s primary goal the restoration of her great power position in Europe and the world, and as her regional goal the restoration of a strong political, economic, and cultural presence. He also outlined as one means to those ends, full German acceptance of the status quo in the Middle East. According to Sobernheim, this included first and foremost recognition of Great Britain′s pre-eminence in the region, support for the Jewish National Home in Palestine, and rejection of Arab demands for independence.
The National Socialist assumption of power in January 1933 did not alter the foundations of German Middle East policy established during the Weimar period. Although the domestic and foreign policy objectives of the new regime changed radically, it maintained the same approach to the Middle East for the rest of the decade. Great Britain continued to be the most critical factor affecting the formulation of German foreign policy. At least since 1923, Hitler had believed some form of Anglo-German understanding, preferably an alliance, to be an essential preparation for the conquest of Lebensraum in Central and Eastern Europe. Such an understanding would include full German support for Great Britain′s imperial interests throughout the world, and preclude any support for the independence movements that were becoming more and more troublesome to Great Britain during the 1930s. Hitler′s Englandpolitik was also fully in keeping with his racial Weltanschauung and the tenets of National Socialism, which could only conceive of a world perpetually under white European domination, and which precluded any form of German support for colonial peoples against the racially superior, Germanic, Anglo-Saxons.16

  • 17 In addition to the Nicosia article of 1986 referred to in the previous note, see Lukasz Hirszowicz (...)

9The strategic and racial requirements of the Hitler regime in the pursuit of its Englandpolitik, in short, precluded support for Arab nationalist movements in the Middle East. Arab efforts to enlist German support against the Anglo-French presence in the Middle East were firmly rebuffed, and German political and economic aims in the Middle East were pursued, as they had been during the Weimar period, without any attempt to undermine Great Britain′s position in the area. Finally, the German position on Zionism and the Palestine question after 1933 remained the same as before, albeit for different reasons. With the goal of rapidly removing the Jewish population from Germany, the Hitler regime for a time supported both Zionist emigration to Palestine and the continued development of the Jewish National Home embodied in the Balfour Declaration and incorporated into Great Britain′s Palestine Mandate. However, the regime also remained firmly opposed to the establishment of an independent Jewish state in Palestine, as recommended by the Peel Commission in its partition plan of July 1937. In addition to traditional anti-Semitic myths of an international Jewish conspiracy, which would thus allegedly acquire an independent power base in Palestine, the German government also feared an addition to the growing coalition of states hostile to the new Germany.17 Its position was thus not markedly different from that of the British government, which, with the publication of the report of the Woodhead Commission in 1938, had declared partition impractical.

  • 18 Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, pp. 86-92; Heinz Tillmann, Deutschlands Araberpolit (...)

10Finally, even after the outbreak of war led to the abandonment of hope for a British-German understanding, a corresponding modification of the Arab policy of the Third Reich, and greater (but always cautious and, in the view of the Arab leaders, insufficient) willingness to embrace the cause of Arab independence, Hitler continued to hold back in deference to the interests of his Italian ally as well as those of Vichy France, of which he hoped to make an ally. There was also good reason to avoid giving offence, as encouragement of Arab unrest might well have done, to Spain and Turkey.18 To repeated calls by both al-Gailani and the Mufti, Amin al-Husseini, for a strong public declaration of Axis support for the independence of the Arab states and of opposition to the Jewish National Home in Palestine, Hitler responded at a meeting with al-Husseini in Berlin on 28 November 1941 that public declarations were useless when not backed up by armed force and that a declaration of support for Arab independence by Germany was especially inopportune at that particular moment, since it would alienate the French, and thus make it necessary to tie up in the West forces needed for the crucial war in the East. According to a memorandum drafted by an official of the Auswärtiges Amt, Hitler gave the following explanation to the Mufti at their meeting:

  • 19 ″Record of the Conversation Between the Führer and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on 28 November 194 (...)

Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish National Home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests. [...] Germany was at the present time engaged in a life and death struggle with two citadels of Jewish power: Great Britain and the Soviet Union. [...] This was the decisive struggle; on the political plane, it presented itself as a conflict between Germany and England, but ideologically it was a battle between National Socialism and the Jews. It went without saying that Germany would furnish positive and practical aid to the Arabs involved in the same struggle, because platonic promises were useless in a war for survival or destruction, in which the Jews were able to mobilize all of England′s power for their own ends.
The aid to the Arabs would have to be material aid. Of how little help sympathies alone were in such a battle had been demonstrated plainly by the operation in Iraq [i.e. al-Gailani′s coup d′etat and the attack on the British base at Habbaniya in April, 1941], where circumstances had not permitted the rendering of really effective, practical aid. In spite of all the sympathies, German aid had not been sufficient and Iraq was overcome by the power of Britain, that is, the guardian of the Jews. [...]
The Führer therefore had to think and speak coolly and deliberately, as a rational man and primarily as a soldier, as the leader of the German and allied armies. Everything of a nature to help in this titanic battle for the common cause, and thus also for the Arabs, would have to be done. Anything, however, that might contribute to weakening the military situation must be put aside, no matter how unpopular the move might be.
Germany was now engaged in very severe battles to force the gateway to the northern Caucasus region. [...] If, at such a moment, the Führer were to raise the problem of Syria in a declaration, those elements in France which were under de Gaulle′s influence would receive new strength. They would interpret the Führer′s declaration as an intention to break up France′s colonial empire and appeal to their fellow-countrymen that they should rather make common cause with the English to try to save what still could be saved. A German declaration regarding Syria [...] would at the present time create new troubles in Western Europe, which means that a portion of the German armed forces would be immobilized in the west and no longer be available for the campaign in the east.
The Führer then made the following statement to the Mufti, enjoining him to lock it in the uttermost depths of his heart.
1. He (the Führer) would carry on the battle to the total destruction of the Judeo-Communist empire in Europe.
2. At some moment which was impossible to set exactly today but which was not distant, the German armies would [...] reach the southern exit of Caucasia.
3. As soon as this had happened the Führer would on his own give the Arab world the assurance that its hour of liberation had arrived. Germany′s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operations which he had secretly prepared. When that time had come, Germany would also be indifferent to French reaction to such a declaration.
[.] For the good of the common cause it would thus be better if the Arab proclamation were put off for a few more months than if Germany were to create difficulties for herself without being able thereby to help the Arabs. [...] The moment that Germany′s tank divisions and air squadrons had made their appearance south of the Caucasus, the public appeal requested by the Grand Mufti could go out to the Arab world.
The Grand Mufti [.] asked whether it would not be possible, secretly at least, to enter into an agreement with Germany of the kind he had just outlined for the Führer. The Führer replied that he had just now given the Grand Mufti precisely that confidential declaration.19

  • 20 ″In den arabisch besiedelten Gebieten westlich von Ägypten soll keine nationalarabische oder sonst (...)
  • 21 Ian Kershaw suggests that Hitler′s eagerness to reach the oilfields of Baku led him to depart from (...)

11The widely held view, in sum, is that Hitler was not interested in the Middle Eastern countries bordering the Mediterranean—Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria—and was quite content to oblige his Italian ally by keeping to what had been agreed between them: that the entire Mediterranean region would be an Italian sphere of influence. Likewise, there was no question of encouraging nationalist movements in the North African territories of Italy, Vichy France, and Spain. Everything West of Egypt, it was repeatedly emphasized, was strictly out of bounds.20 Hitler′s interest in parts of the Middle East beyond the Mediterranean—the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Iran, the Caucasus—was greater, since these territories were a source of oil. Hence his insistence on putting off the public declaration of support for Arab independence in all the territories occupied by Britain, France, and Russia that al-Gailani and the Mufti kept asking for and at the same time his promise that with military success on the crucial Eastern front he would be in a position to provide practical assistance to the Arabs, by directing the German army to enter Iraq from the North, by way of the oil-rich Russian-held Caucasus.21

  • 22 ″In my opinion there can be bo doubt that we must give Italy absolute precedence in organizing the (...)
  • 23 See, for instance Documents on German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 11, documents 127, 133, 160, (...)
  • 24 McKale, Rewriting History. The Original and Revised World War II Diaries of Curt Prüfer, p. 7 (14 (...)

12Most documents at the Auswärtiges Amt from the years 1940-1941 do indeed testify to a policy of consistent deference to Germany′s Italian ally with only cautious expressions of support for Arab demands.22 Germany disclaimed any political ambitions in the region (though many memos noted that political ″indifference″ in no way ruled out playing an important role in the economic and cultural life of the Middle Eastern lands and especially in developing the oil resources of the region). Innumerable drafts of a brief, suitably vague statement to be broadcast in Arabic to the appropriate audiences—the wording of which was constantly scrutinized and slightly revised—asserted Germany′s longstanding ″sympathy″ with the aspirations of the Arab peoples, but stopped short of ″recognizing″ the independence of the states of the region.23 Nevertheless, among some Middle East hands at the Auswärtiges Amt, there was a constituency that represented the views of the Arabs and argued that it would be in Germany′s interest in the struggle against Great Britain to pursue a more aggressively pro-Arab policy and a more energetic exploitation of Arab hostility to the British, the French, and the Jews than had obtained in the years leading up to the 1939 war. Tellingly, one of those Middle East specialists, noting at the end of 1942 that ″the news from the Mediterranean sounds increasingly unfavorable,″ that ″Tobruk has fallen,″ that ″the Yanks have all of Algeria and Morocco well in hand,″ that ″Musso has taken steps for a separate peace with the U.S.S.R.″ and that ″the Italian fleet was allegedly not deployed, because it has no oil,″ attributed these serious setbacks to the shortsightedness of Germany′s Middle East policy since the outbreak of war. ″I can only ask, why does [the Italian fleet] have no oil?″ Curt Prüfer wrote in his diary, and provided the answer to his own question: ″Again, as in the first war, the Orient and the Mediterranean are being neglected. Germania non discet [Germany does not learn].″24

  • 25 Michael Bloch, Ribbentrop (London: Bantam Press, 1992), pp. 272, 279. According to Philip Rees, Bi (...)
  • 26 Ribbentrop specifically instructed that ″es soll keine allgemeine islamische Propaganda auf religi (...)

13On 25 July 1940, one month after the fall of France, Max Freiherr von Oppenheim submitted a memorandum on policy in the Middle East to Theodor Habicht, a former leader of the Nazi Party in Austria best remembered for having masterminded the murder of Dolfuss and the failed coup attempt in Austria in 1934, and, by the outbreak of war, an Under-Secretary of State at the Auswärtiges Amt and head of its Political Section, as well as the ″confidant″ and ″personal adviser″ of Ribbentrop.25 Though its general aims were similar to those of the 1914 memorandum, the 1940 memorandum was much shorter and it took account of the changed situation in 1940. (There was no reference to jihad in it, for example, because Germany′s ally Italy and potential ally Vichy France had many Muslim subjects in their colonial territories.)26 Oppenheim outlined the steps to be followed in order to make maximum use, for Germany′s ends, of the situation in the Muslim world. That he and Fritz Grobba may have worked on the memorandum together is suggested by the important role Oppenheim assigned in it to Grobba, who as German ambassador to Iraq from 1932 until the outbreak of war in 1939—when Iraq, under pressure from the British to observe the terms of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 and against the wishes of many members of the Iraqi cabinet, severed diplomatic relations with Germany—had energetically sought to promote German influence in the region.

  • 27 Quoted in Heinz Tillmann, Deutschlands Araberpolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg, p. 162.

14In an accompanying letter, Oppenheim declared that, given ″the special knowledge″ of the Middle East that he had acquired as a result of having been ″active there for decades, partly as a scholar and partly as an agent of the Auswärtiges Amt—up to and during the Great War,″ he was dismayed, as were ″many Orientals who had opened their hearts to him,″ by ″Germany′s cautious hesitation up to now to become involved in the problems of the Middle East.″ This caution was especially unwarranted, in his view, as the region was capable of ″playing an important role″ in Germany′s war against England.27 Oppenheim thus indirectly justified his submitting the memorandum, even though he no longer held any official position in the Auswärtiges Amt, on the grounds that, as a patriotic German and as head of the Orient Intelligence Bureau [Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient] in the First World War, he was both obligated and singularly qualified to express an opinion and offer advice on the matter, the more so as he remained in close contact with and enjoyed the confidence of important leaders of the Arab world.

15Here is the text of the memorandum:

16As Head of the Orient Intelligence Bureau at the Foreign Office and later at our embassy in Constantinople during the World War, I am taking the liberty, at a moment when the war against England is entering a decisive phase, to put forward the following suggestions:

17The time has come for us to intervene energetically in the Middle East against England.

18There are two urgent tasks.

191) Supplying Berlin with direct and reliable information about the Middle East.

202) Fomenting revolution, first in Syria, to counteract English plans to occupy that country, then in the neighbouring Arab lands, in Iraq, Transjordan, Palestine, and Saudi-Arabia. The aim would be to tie up British strike power, obstruct the export of oil and thus prevent supplies of oil from reaching the British naval and merchant fleets, cripple traffic through the Suez Canal for the English, and finally completely destroy British domination in the Near East.

21In order to carry out this task, our former ambassador in Baghdad, Dr. Grobba, should be sent as soon as possible to Syria. Syria is the only country from which, at the present moment, the fight against England can be carried on. Dr. Grobba must be headquartered in Damascus. Current business, such as the affairs of the citizens of the Reich in Syria, could be dealt with by a consular official working under him and located perhaps in Beirut. Dr. Grobba′s assignment, in contrast, would be to devote all his energy to the fomenting of an uprising of the entire Middle East against England. Dr. Grobba has the reputation there of being England′s most dangerous enemy. His very name would work like a programme for action, his appearance and activity in Damascus like a call to battle, not only for Syria, but for all the Arab lands. The latter,—Iraq especially, are only waiting for a signal from Germany in order to move against England. In addition, Dr. Grobba is accredited as Ambassador to Ibn Saud, and he is on friendly terms with the Mufti of Jerusalem, who is presently in Baghdad. Naturally, he needs to be supplied with appropriate assistants as well as with the necessary financial and other means, with radio and communications devices, etc. He also needs to be authorized to have a say in how the weapons of the French army are disposed of as that army is demobilized. These weapons should be transferred to the Arabs for the fight against England. Naturally an understanding with Italy needs to be reached concerning not only this matter, but Dr. Grobba′s other tasks also.

  • 28 Gabriel Puaux, decorated for bravery in World War I, was named French Ambassador to Austria in 193 (...)

22In Syria the French High Commissioner and Ambassador Puaux,28 who has been a very great enemy of ours ever since the failure of his fight against National Socialism in Vienna, must be removed and the current pro-French Syrian Directorate replaced by a Syrian regime better disposed toward us.

23In Iraq, the pro-English Foreign Minister Nuri as-Sa′id must be got rid of, by force if necessary. The Iraqi army must destroy the English air base at al-Habbaniya and with the help of the tribesmen take up arms against the British troops, shut off the oil pipeline to Haifa, and throw the English out of the whole of Iraq, especially out of Basra.

24In Transjordan, Emir Abdallah, who has committed himself completely to the English, needs to be removed.

25In Palestine, the struggle against the English and the Jews is to be taken up again as energetically as possible. Ibn Saud must be induced to take part in it also. But he will do so only if he is promised Aqaba and Ma′an, towns in Southern Transjordan to which he has a well-founded claim. It is possible that his demands will extend to the whole of Transjordan. In Palestine, a government should be set up under the Mufti. Jerusalem might be given a special administration in which representatives of the different faiths (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox) and of the Jews would work together under the Mufti. Only those Jews should be allowed to remain in Palestine who were there before World War I.

26As far as Syria is concerned, its future is not easily decided. Iraq would like to incorporate this land, and the Syrian Muslims as well as some of the Syrian Christians, namely the Greek Orthodox, would undoubtedly welcome the union of their homeland with Iraq. But Ibn Saud will combat such a union with all the means at his disposal, since he is a personal enemy of Iraq′s current ruling dynasty (the former Grand Sharifs of Mecca) and would fear the rise of a more powerful realm on his northern frontier. The simplest solution would be to place one of the sons of Ibn Saud on a throne to be established in Syria. (A direct incorporation of Syria into Saudi Arabia is out of the question on religious grounds, the fanatical Wahhabi faith that dominates in Saudi Arabia being unacceptable in Syria.) The Saudi prince would have to give up any idea of introducing his form of Islam into Syria. Lebanon would be constituted, as before the First World War, as a region of the Syrian state, with its own administration. Naturally, those areas that the French incorporated into Lebanon—Tripoli, Saida, Sur, the Bekaa Valley with Baalbek and Mount Hermon—must be separated again from the new administrative region.

27After the peace, after the victorious end of the struggle against England, a union of the aforementioned Middle Eastern states should be created. This union must also be joined by Yemen and the small states of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman, Bahrein, Kuwait, etc.

  • 29 They were, in fact, being so treated at the time by the Nazi state′s officials and were subject to (...)

28Egypt has been left out of consideration so far. In this connection, however, it should be noted briefly that the integration of Egypt into the said union of states would be of the greatest importance. At the present moment, I would deem it very advantageous to treat the Egyptians currently still in Germany as well as possible and they should be made aware of the unfriendliness with which the Germans living in Egypt have been treated, under pressure from the English, by the Egyptian government. In our press we are drawing attention to every sign of the differences separating the Egyptian government, the Egyptian people and its army, and the English, so as to suggest that we view the Egyptians as secret allies. On our side, therefore, we should not treat the Egyptians in Germany as enemy aliens.29

29Finally, I would like to point out that special, friendly treatment of Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian prisoners-of-war would bear useful fruit. In the Great War, all Muslim and also all Indian prisoners-of-war were held in a special camp in Wunsdorf, not far from Berlin. A mosque was built for them there, newspapers were published for them in the appropriate languages, etc.

30The main thing is for Ambassador Dr. Grobba to leave for the Middle East as soon as possible. It would be good if, prior to his departure, he could consult with Emir Shakib Arslan in Geneva in order to discuss with him questions concerning the new order to be established in the states of the Arab region, in particular in Syria. Shakib Arslan, who stands wholeheartedly on the side of Germany and, as I know for a certainty, has done for decades, possesses a vast knowledge of both people and situations in the region. If we plan to deal seriously with these problems, his advice would therefore be extraordinarily useful.

  • 30 In a memorandum to his superiors at the Auswärtiges Amt, dated 27 August 1940, a month after Oppen (...)

31As long as it is not possible to execute the plan of sending Ambassador Grobba to Syria, inasmuch as Germany still recognizes the role of the French in Syria, it might be possible to begin to carry out the proposed actions from Ankara, perhaps through the Iraqi embassy there.30 Should the negotiations lead to Iraq′s joining our side, a new Syrian National Government should be called into being and located provisionally on the Syrian-Iraqi border. This government should then be recognized by Germany and Italy. We would then communicate to the French government that we are recognizing it while at the same time notifying the French that Ambassador Grobba is being sent to Damascus to protect German interests in Syria and act as our government′s observer there.

32I do not underestimate the difficulties the Arab insurgents will encounter in facing up to the still intact British army in Iraq and Palestine. The strength of the English troops′ resistance will be considerably diminished, however, as further German successes in the war with England are announced, the more so as the troops in question are largely recruited from the colonies.

33Moreover, the English position in Egypt and India would be weakened by an Arab uprising. The flow of oil to the English in Haifa would be cut off and—this is particularly important—the occupation of Syria by the English would be prevented and communication between the English in Iraq and the Turks would be interrupted.

  • 31 These had been broken off at the beginning of the War.
  • 32 English translation (by Lionel Gossman) of the original German text of Oppenheim′s memorandum (see (...)

34The immediate goal of negotiations to be entered into with Iraqi representatives must be to get Iraq to declare its desire to restore diplomatic relations with Germany.31 Our response to this declaration would enable Ambassador Dr. Grobba to return to Iraq. From his position there he could establish contact with Syrian nationalists and move to Damascus after calling for an independent Syrian government.32

  • 33 In fact, in late 1940, al-Sa′id himself began making overtures both to the Italians—even though by (...)
  • 34 Memorandum by an official of the Foreign Minister′s Secretariat consisting of a record of the conv (...)
  • 35 Before the Peel Commission on 12 January 1937, according to Dalin and Rothmann, al-Husseini reiter (...)

35Oppenheim′s memo directly reflected the views of the Arab leaders at the time, the Lebanese Druze Shakib Arslan, the Palestinian Amin al-Husseini, and the Iraqi Rashid Ali al-Gailani. The call for a grand union of the Muslim states of the Middle East once the British had been defeated was a goal embraced by all three. The emphasis on Syria would have been especially pleasing to Shakib Arslan. A political activist throughout his life, Arslan, as already noted, had long placed his hopes for Arab independence on Germany and had spent the last two years of the 1914-1918 war there. Prevented by the French Mandate authorities from returning to Syria after the War, he had continued his struggle for Arab independence and unity from his exile in Geneva. As we saw, he was in regular correspondence with Oppenheim, to whom he communicated his goals, his ideas and his proposals for action. The recommendation that the pro-British Nuri al-Sa′id should be ″removed″ can only have been welcomed by the fiercely anti-British and pro-German al-Gailani, who, having replaced al-Sa′id as prime minister in March, 1940 had had to keep him on as foreign minister.33 So too, the suggestion that a ″Greater Syria″ might eventually be united with Iraq in a grand union of Arab states could not but have been well received by the Mufti, who told Hitler at his meeting with him in November 1941 that ″the Arabs were striving for the independence and unity of Palestine, Syria, and Iraq.″34 In fact all the Mufti′s demands were met in Oppenheim′s memo, down to his suggested appointment as head of the new Palestinian state and the chilling proposal that of the 400,000 Jews in Palestine (a fair number of them, of course, refugees from Nazi Germany), only those who had been resident there before World War I (about 60,000) should be allowed to remain. In Germany, in 1940, Oppenheim, who did not indicate what the fate of those to be ″removed″ should be, obviously felt less compunction to be evasive on the subject of the Jewish settlers in Palestine than the Mufti had been in his testimony to the Peel Commission on 12 January 1937.35

  • 36 Quoted by Tillmann, Deutschlands Araberpolitik, p. 170, note 211. Tillmann considers this response (...)
  • 37 Mufti-Papiere. Briefe, Memoranden, Reden und Aufrufe Amin al-Husainis aus dem Exil, 1940­1945, ed. (...)
  • 38 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957), (...)

36Habicht′s response, two days later, to Oppenheim′s memorandum was curt. ″Thank you for sending your memorandum of 25.7.40. The questions raised in it are already the subject of close and thorough study at the Foreign Office.″36 While Habicht′s note might well have been intentionally cold or even—as some scholars have written— discourteous, his impatience with what he seems to have implied was the meddling of an outsider was not wholly unjustified. Some of the matters raised by Oppenheim had in fact been the subject of a secret report to the Auswärtiges Amt, dated 6 July 1940, from Von Papen, then German ambassador in Ankara. In this report Von Papen summed up the content of discussions he had had at his private summer residence in Therapia, outside Istanbul, with the Iraqi Justice Minister Naji Bey Shawkat. Shawkat, who had been recommended to him by the Grand Mufti,37 then an exile in Baghdad, had assured him that the ″Anglophile″ Nuri al-Sa′id was deeply unpopular, that the Iraqi people so longed to shake off the constraining remnants of the English yoke that the cabinet had refused to break off relations with Italy in spite of pressure from the British ambassador and al-Sa′id. At the same time, the Iraqi gave a clear indication that the Arabs counted more on German than on Italian assistance in their struggle for independence. To von Papen′s prudent reiteration of the official German line that ″the future development of the political situation in the Near East was a matter of interest primarily to Italy,″ and that he, ″could be regarded only as an intermediary for proposals addressed to Italy via the Reich government,″ Shawkat replied that, just ″as the Arab national movement had fought Anglo-French imperialism, so it would have to oppose Italian imperialism″ and that ″it was therefore in the interest of the Axis powers for Germany to use her influence with Italy, in order to support a solution that would be compatible with the interests of the Arab movement.″ ″As a first step,″ von Papen continued, ″the Iraqi Minister of Justice recommended the re-establishment of the Arab national government in Damascus″ (participation of Arab nationalists in the government of the Syria mandate having been ended by the French in March-July 1939)—a measure ″strongly endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.″ The Arab national government would then ″resume its struggle in Palestine,″ which Shawkat considered, according to von Papen, ″should be of particular value to us at a moment when the most diverse interests were clashing in Syria. It is assumed that England will shortly attempt to occupy Syria and disarm the French forces. The Arab uprising could successfully intervene in such a moment of weakness.″38

  • 39 This document was not found by the editors of the Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945.
  • 40 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957), (...)

37On 21 July 1940—hence still prior to Oppenheim′s submission of his memorandum—Ernst Woermann, an Under-Secretary at the Auswärtiges Amt and then head of the Political Department, responded to both von Papen′s memorandum and another related memorandum on ″The Situation in the Area of the Mediterranean and the Near East.″39 Woermann noted that an annex to the latter, almost certainly the work of one or more Arab leaders, ″contained an endorsement of the establishment of a northern Arab empire under the leadership of Iraq″ and under the protection of ″Germany or Germany and Italy together.″ Von Papen, however, Woermann continued, had reminded the Iraqi Justice Minister of Germany′s view ″that the future development of the political situation in the Near East was of interest primarily to Italy.″ In the Under-Secretary′s own opinion, which was that of the more conservative Auswärtiges Amt officials, ″there can be no doubt that we must give Italy absolute precedence in organizing the Arabian area. [...] This, consequently, rules out any German claim to leadership in the Arabian area, or a division of that claim with Italy.″ Woermann′s rejection of an activist German role in the politics of the Middle East— combined with a reminder that ″this political désintéressement should not be taken to signify that we renounce any economic interest in that area,″ notably as regards ″air routes″ and ″Iraqi oil″—was thus a reiteration of Germany′s established policy. Woermann acknowledged that ″all views about the Arabian area received here indicate a unanimous anti-Italian attitude among the Arabs″ but warned that ″we ought not to allow ourselves to become involved in this Arabian game,″ the aim of which was to ″get from us support against Italy.″ In short ″our policy, including our radio propaganda in the Near East or directed toward North Africa [.] must be conducted, as in the past, on the sharpest anti-British, and a muted anti-French note.″40

38In a circular sent on 20 August 1940 to Embassies and Legations in Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Romania, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia, as well as to various consulates in Turkey and the Middle East, the Auswärtiges Amt issued directives that clearly formulated German policy and warned against responding to Arab overtures:

  • 41 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957), (...)

Leading Arab personalities have in recent times repeatedly approached our foreign Missions with the request to bring about a policy statement by the Reich Government on the independence movement of the Arab countries and to promote support for their aspirations. This affords occasion to state the following fundamental considerations about the coming reorganization of the Arab region:
Germany pursues no political interests in the Mediterranean area, whose southern and eastern part is formed by the Arab world. Germany will therefore let Italy take the lead in the political reorganization of the Arab area. This consequently rules out any German claim to political leadership, or the sharing of leadership with Italy in the Arab territories, which consist of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Palestine, Transjordan, Syria-Lebanon, and Iraq.
This political désintéressement, however, does not at all mean that in those areas Germany renounces the pursuit of interests in matters of economy, transportation, and cultural policy. First and foremost, Germany will assert, and settle in concert with Italy, her claim with respect to participation in the exploitation of oil resources, the securing of her air routes, and the continuation of her archaeological activities.
These directives, however, must be treated confidentially. They are not of a nature to be divulged to representatives of foreign powers. Especially, they must not be made known to [leading] Arab personalities. It is desirable, nevertheless, on every occasion to stress to them the common German and Arab interest in England′s defeat, and assure them of Germany′s full sympathy in their people′s fight for liberation. Please avoid entering into any discussion, however, of the question of the future political organization of the Arab region, and if necessary observe a noncommittal attitude; on no account are you to say anything to Arab representatives about a désintéressement on the part of Germany.41

39It seems clear that, as Habicht had asserted in his reply to Oppenheim, there had indeed been and still was ongoing discussion at the Auswärtiges Amt of various courses of action Germany might pursue in the Middle East and that the ″energetic intervention″ Oppenheim advocated in his memorandum had, on the whole, been rejected in favour of continuation of the policy of désintéressement (as the ever cautious Woermann put it) and overall deference to Italy as the main Mediterranean power. Oppenheim, in contrast, had conceded only, almost as an afterthought, that ″Naturally an understanding with Italy needs to be reached concerning not only [the transfer to the Iraqis of the weapons of the French army in Syria] but Dr. Grobba′s other tasks also.″

40Nonetheless, only a week after Woermann sent out his circular, Grobba, who was also attached to the Political Department of the Auswärtiges Amt, submitted a memo directly to Foreign Minister Ribbentrop that diverged quite markedly from the official line, with copies to Habicht, Woermann, and Secretary of State von Weizsäcker. Dated Berlin, 27 August 1940, it gave an account of a meeting Grobba had had in Berlin with the Grand Mufti′s private secretary, Osman Kemal Haddad. Haddad had been sent to Berlin by al-Husseini to discuss with members of the Auswärtiges Amt the possibility of an agreement on direct Arab-German collaboration. ″Under instructions from the Grand Mufti,″ Haddad explained that Iraq had broken relations with Germany unwillingly and only under threat from the British and from the French Armée d′Orient; that ″a committee for collaboration among the Arab countries [had] been formed under the chairmanship of the Grand Mufti,″ with representatives from Iraq (including the Iraqi army), Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine (the last-named represented by the Grand Mufti himself); and that ″this committee had already decided some months ago that it should seek to establish contact with Germany.″ Since then, ″there [had] been a radical change in the situation in Iraq—1) through the defeat of France and the elimination of the Armée d′Orient; 2) through the weakening of England and the withdrawal from Iraq of English troops and aircraft; and 3) through the reinforcement of the Iraqi Army,″ which now ″had a total of five divisions already, with a sixth being currently formed.″ Iraq had therefore taken an independent attitude toward England and rejected the demand for the transit of Anglo-Indian troops from the Bahrein Islands and India.″ The committee had then decided to send Naji Shawkat, the Iraqi Minister of Justice, to von Papen in Turkey. From their talks together, ″the committee had gained the impression that Germany was sympathetic toward the aspirations of the Arabs, but that she would negotiate on the pertinent questions only in concert with Italy. The committee realised that Italy occupied a predominant position in the Eastern Mediterranean″ and so the Iraqi Minister President Rashid Ali al-Gailani had decided to send a special envoy to Rome. In the meantime, however, ″the Italian Minister [in Baghdad], on instruction from the Italian Government, had already informed the Minister President in writing that it was the goal of the Italian Government that all Arab countries in the Near East which were under British or French Mandate or protection should become independent.″ Knowing the official German policy of leaving the Middle East to the Italians, but deeply distrustful of Italy, and extremely eager to involve Germany directly in their struggle, the Arab leaders were clearly trying to suggest, according to Grobba, that there was no obstacle to German involvement in their independence plans, since the Italians had already accepted all their proposals.

41Grobba then outlined the wishes of the Arab committee. The first, as formally expressed by the committee itself in a document appended to his memorandum, was for ″a joint declaration [...] of the German and Italian Governments″ consisting of five parts.

I. The German and Italian Governments recognize the full independence of the Arab countries which are already independent or are under French mandate (Syria and Lebanon) or under British mandate and protectorate (Transjordan, Palestine, the Arab countries on the coast of the Arabian Peninsula—Kuwait, Oman, Masgat, Hadhramaut, South Yemen as part of the state of Yemen, and the other countries recognized as Arab countries on the basis of an Arab majority of the population). Germany and Italy will make no use of any juridical or other means to abridge the independence of these Arab countries, e.g. by establishing mandates, that hypocritical device of the League of Nations and the democracies to disguise their imperialistic greed.
II. Germany and Italy recognize the right of all Arab countries to shape their national unity in accordance with their wishes. [...]
III. Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements in Palestine and the other Arab countries in a manner that conforms to the national and ethnic interests of the Arabs and to the solution of the Jewish question in the countries of Germany and Italy.
IV. Germany and Italy have no imperialist designs with respect to Egypt and the Sudan, and recognize the independence of these two countries, as set forth under number I of this Declaration.
V. Germany and Italy have no greater wish than to see each Arab nation enjoying abundant prosperity and taking its historical and natural place in the sun.

42The second wish was for ″a declaration by the two governments, in writing, that they are in accord with″ the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iraq and Germany, with a view to ″friendly collaboration between the two Governments in all questions of interest to both countries.″ On its side, the Government of Iraq agrees ″to accord to Germany and Italy a preferred position with respect to the exploitation of Iraqi mineral resources, especially petroleum, and the economic development of the country.″ In addition, Iraq offers its ″good offices to enable Germany and Italy to achieve a like understanding with the other Arab countries, especially Syria, Palestine, Transjordan, and Saudi Arabia.″

  • 42 Documents on German Foreign Policy, vol. 10, pp. 556-60, document dated Berlin, 27 August 1940, co (...)

43Once these conditions were agreed to, Grobba went on to explain, the Iraqi government would ″dismiss Nuri Sa′id as Foreign Minister and replace him probably with Naji Shawkat,″ the Justice Minister who had earlier contacted von Papen. It also proposed ″the conclusion of a secret agreement between it and the German and Italian Governments″ laying out the details of their ″friendly collaboration.″ These negotiations, it was suggested, should take place in Ankara—i.e. under the aegis of Ambassador von Papen. Finally, the Iraqi government and the countries declared independent (Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan) would declare their strict neutrality. But that would not prevent them from starting ″a general uprising in Transjordan and Palestine″ for which ″up to 10,000 men and the required number of officers″ would be made available. The preparations would be ″organized from Syria″ and the uprising could draw on the French Army weapons being surrendered to the Italians in Syria in accordance with the French-Italian armistice agreement. Still, more would be needed, and financing this development would require ″30,000 pounds sterling, gold,″ of which the Arab national committee could raise about 10,000, the remainder to be supplied by Germany and Italy. The Arabs, Grobba reported, believe they can handle the 30,000 to 40,000 British troops still in Palestine. If these troops could be tied down by the projected uprisings and if the Iraqi government prevented the transfer of Anglo-Indian troops from India to Egypt via Iraq, Italy′s military situation in the eastern Mediterranean (where the Italian army was not doing at all well in combat with the British) would be considerably relieved. Though he did not explicitly endorse these Arab proposals and arguments, Grobba must have appeared to be implicitly endorsing them, since he did not question them or offer any criticism of them.42

  • 43 Documents on German Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960), vol. 11, (...)
  • 44 Ibid., p. 228, document 133, 30 September 1940. Weizsäcker came up a few days later with yet anoth (...)

44In view of official German policy in the Middle East, the written statement of support for the independence of all the Arab countries under British and French control allegedly communicated by the Italian Ambassador in Baghdad to the Iraqi Minister President caused a great deal of consternation in German diplomatic circles. Germany had persistently refused to issue such a written statement and continued to resist Arab pressure to do so. In his interview with the Mufti in November 1941, as we saw, Hitler still would not yield on this point. Nevertheless, Woermann sent out a memo on 28 September 1940, explaining that, as ″we cannot, without loss of prestige, allow the steps taken by the Arabs at various times to obtain such a statement from us to go completely unanswered, it is therefore proposed that the following oral statement, to be broadcast in Arabic on the radio, be made to the private secretary of the Grand Mufti who has been waiting here for over a month: ′Germany′s desire has always been that the Arab countries should rid themselves of English and French rule, enjoy greater autonomy than heretofore, and achieve complete independence. The Arab countries may therefore count on Germany′s full sympathy in their efforts to attain this goal.′″43 The wording of even this cautious oral statement was repeatedly reviewed, revised, and refined, so that it would win Arab support while making no commitment on Germany′s part to intervene actively. Thus Weizsäcker suggested in a letter to the German Embassy in Rome two days later, on 30 September, that it be watered down to ″Germany has always followed with interest the struggle of the Arab countries to attain their independence. In their striving toward this goal, the Arab countries will be able in the future also to count upon the full sympathy of Germany″—to which might be added, Weizsäcker suggested, if the Italians agreed—″who finds herself in full accord with her Italian ally in this matter.″44

  • 45 Ibid, p. 229, document 134, 30 September 1940.
  • 46 Ibid, pp. 241-43, document 146, 3 October 1940.

45On the very same day, however, Grobba sent a memo around to his colleagues in the A.A., warning against Germany′s associating too closely with Italy in Middle Eastern affairs. The Arabs, he wrote, ″had studied the question whether a collaboration with Soviet Russia might be advisable. [...] If they saw their independence threatened by Italy, they might possibly consider alignment with Soviet Russia as the lesser evil.″45 On 3 October, von Papen chipped in with a memo from Turkey to the effect that ″the Arabs′ abysmal distrust of the plans of Rome″ had been heightened by the Italian government′s insistence that its minister in Baghdad had acted without official authorization in providing a written statement of support for Arab independence. As a result, Justice Minister Shawkat, representing the Arab National Committee, had told him that ″All the hopes of the Arab world were pinned on Germany. If these hopes were disappointed, the Arab countries would eventually do better to come to an understanding with the English regime.″ Von Papen went on to point out that the Reich′s refraining from ″participation in the solution of the Arab problem of the Near East had a significance for the postwar settlement in the Near East that should by no means be underestimated.″ Italy′s hegemony in the Mediterranean, he pointed out, would give her ″absolute control of the maritime route (through the Suez canal) to our Central African possessions, which are to be regained, as well as to the oil deposits in the Near East.″ This meant that it was in Germany′s national interest that ″a safe land route via the Balkans and Turkey to the Persian Gulf [.] be established after the war.″ Hence there was no way for Germany to avoid ″dealing with the Arab problem of the Near East.″ It was ″a question that we have to face.″ Bridges would have be rebuilt with Turkey, which had ″been driven by the Italian threat into the English orbit,″ and ″a secure and friendly relation established with the Arab states of the Near East.″46 Like Grobba, Von Papen was thus challenging the policy of désintéressement and complete deference, in Middle East affairs, to Italian ambitions.

  • 47 See, for instance, Marion Thielenhaus, Zwischen Anpassung und Widerstand: Deutsche Diplomaten 1938 (...)
  • 48 See Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Gold, Bankiers und Diplomaten. Zur Geschichte der Deutschen Orientbank (...)
  • 49 According, at least, to a highly fictionalized and often inaccurate biography of Von Papen by Tibo (...)
  • 50 Werner Otto von Hentig, Mein Leben. Eine Dienstreise, p. 335.
  • 51 Ibid., p. 342. Grobba later asserted that Hentig opposed an active, interventionist German policy (...)

46There appears to be agreement among historians that there were different factions in the Auswärtiges Amt—a more aggressive faction and a more cautious and circumspect one, the latter usually said to have been represented by Secretary of State, Ernst von Weizsäcker.47 Von Papen (who had associations with Foreign Minister Ribbentrop going back to the First World War48 and was serving, as of 1939, as Ambassador to Turkey) is said to have been at the centre of a group of old Middle East hands that included Hentig Hentig′s rival Grobba, and a couple of Oriental scholars, with Oppenheim—on the strength of his earlier role as an agent of the A.A. and an authority on the ″Orient″—in an associated and advisory capacity.49 In general, this group was critical of the policy of deferring to Italy in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and supported a more energetic policy focused on Germany′s own national interests. As Hentig noted in his autobiographical memoir (written after 1945), ″Hitler had generously delivered the entire Near East into the hands of Mussolini′s colonial policy. In doing so he was acceding to the wishes of the Italian Ministry of Colonies, without considering that the Italians were then the most hated Europeans in the Arab world. The Arabs saw the English as taskmasters, the French as exploiters; but the busy Italian settlers had taken their land and thereby the foundation of their livelihood.″50 Hentig claimed that his ″well-known negative view″ of Germany′s policy of deference to Italian ambitions, ″which of course no one dared to bring to Hitler′s attention,″ could have got him into serious trouble. If he continued to express it, he was warned, he could find himself ″an die Wand gestellt″ [before a firing squad].51

  • 52 Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Moveme (...)

47Whether independently or under the influence of von Papen, Grobba, and associates, Ribbentrop began in late 1940 to take a greater interest in how the situation in the Middle East might be exploited to Germany′s advantage. He had already, in the summer of 1940, agreed that the Abwehr, under Canaris, should engage more actively in intelligence-gathering in the Arab lands, and Canaris had in fact dispatched an agent—Alfred Roser—to Damascus in the early fall of 1940 to set up a spy ring and establish contact with anti-British groups in Palestine. Later in the same year—thanks, in all likelihood, to Grobba—Weizsäcker and perhaps also Ribbentrop agreed to meet with Haddad, the Mufti′s private secretary, who, as we saw, had been sent to Berlin to negotiate with the Auswärtiges Amt.52 The memo prepared by Wilhelm Melchers, then head of the Middle East section of the A.A., for those participating in that meeting with Haddad suggests that (no doubt in light of the reports being received from Abwehr agent Roser) views of the situation in the Middle East and of what German policy should be there had evolved over the summer.

48The somewhat pessimistic memo of the conservatively inclined Melchers offered a comprehensive review of all the major countries of the Middle East. Beginning with ″Arabia″ in general, it recalled that ″even before and after the outbreak of the war, Germany saw in Arab nationalism her natural ally,″ whereas Italy, in contrast, ″finds the latter irksome″ and has therefore ruled out any ″recognition in writing of the independence of the Arab countries and of their right to form a union.″ Since, however, ″the line of German policy has been determined so as to give Italy in principle the absolute lead politically in the Arab area, [...] in conformity with Italy′s wish, we issued only an oral statement to the effect that we were watching with interest the struggle of the Arabs for independence and would continue to sympathize with their efforts to achieve freedom.″ The upshot has been that ″all the statements heretofore made in the press and on the radio were merely propaganda.″ Meanwhile, reports coming in from a wide range of sources, ″show the situation in the Arab area becoming increasingly tense, particularly in Syria and Iraq.″

  • 53 Major-General I.S.O. Playfair, The Mediterranean and Middle East, vol. 2 (London: Her Majesty′s St (...)

49In Syria (where, as a British historian of the Middle East campaigns explains, ″Germany obtained no official footing after the collapse of France,″ since ″the terms of the German armistice were mainly concerned with affairs in metropolitan France,″ and it was thus ″left to Italy to determine the amount of demilitarization to be enforced in French overseas territories″53) there is great ″antipathy of the Arabs toward the Italians,″ much ″disappointment of the Arabs over the reserve of the Germans on the Armistice Commission,″ and a ″feeling of having been sold out by them to Italy.″ Among the French, support for de Gaulle is on the increase, the British are conducting an active propaganda campaign, and there is a large concentration of Australian troops on the border with Palestine. The Italian armistice commission itself ″would like to see us in Syria because they see their situation as untenable.″

50In Iraq, the memo notes the ″untenable position of the [pro-Axis] Gailani government″: its army is ″presumably unable to defend itself against the English″ and it is under threat of an English blockade of its ports and an embargo on petroleum imports. Moreover, ″the oral statement [in support of independence] by the Axis is inadequate as a political instrument for the Iraq Minister President″ [i.e. Gailani] and there has been a ″complete loss of prestige of the Italians and a decline in morale″ because of the destructive British attack on the Italian navy at Taranto in November 1940.

51In Palestine, Arab-Jewish hostilities have quieted down, the people want peace, and ″the achievements of the Italian Air Force are apparently minimal.″ In Saudi Arabia, the king does not trust German policy. Egypt is firmly in English hands, defended by an army of 175,000 English, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian troops; and the Indians, though Mohammedans, ″are to be considered reliable.″ Older officials and rich families are also pro-English. Only ″the younger officials and officers of the insignificant Egyptian Army are probably pro-German. The lower classes are not interested in politics.″

52Melchers concludes his report with a warning and some proposals. The warning: ″The activity of the English and de Gaullists, the defeats of the Italians, and disappointment with Germany could result in a defection of the Arabs to the side of the English [.] and may perhaps even create a disastrous situation in the whole of North Africa.″ In assessing the significance of this for Germany Melchers notes soberly, however, in the sceptical style of the diplomats allegedly closer to Weizsäcker than to Ribbentrop, that ″the national, military, cultural, and state-building forces of the Arabs should not be overestimated″ and that ″we have no reason at all to be sentimental about these people, who are basically anti-European and torn by religious, family, and tribal differences.″ Nevertheless, he also invokes the argument put forward not long before by von Papen that ″the Arabs, as inhabitants of the land-bridge and routes leading to southern and eastern Asia as well as to East Africa [.] are a tremendously important power factor.″ In addition, as they are the foremost representatives of Islam in the world ″Germany must not jeopardize her great prestige here if she does not wish to suffer most severe reverses for a long time to come.″

  • 54 Cited in Isaac Lipschits, La Politique de la France au Levant 1939-1941 (Paris: A. Pedone; Amsterd (...)
  • 55 Documents on German Foreign Policy, (Washington, D.C., 1960), vol. 11, pp. 826-29, document 481, ″ (...)

53Melchers therefore proposes that ″without basically giving up the principle of Italian precedence in the Arabian area,″ the Germans should demand, ″in the interest of [.] an efficient conduct of the war″ that their own ″military and political authorities establish liaison with those of the Italians,″ in order to ″plan measures whereby the reverses that threaten in the Arab area may be avoided.″ To this end, thought should be given to providing ″a written declaration in which the Arabs as well as the Egyptians are assured political freedom and self-determination″; a German armistice delegation composed of ″suitable military and diplomatic personnel″ should be sent to Syria to collaborate with the Italian delegation and with Vichy′s newly appointed High Commissioner, General Henri Dentz—considered by the British Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East, Sir Archibald Wavell, ″completely subservient to Vichy and most unlikely to resist German penetration″54—″in paralyzing English and Gaullist activity and in getting rid of the unreliable officials of the present High Commissioner″; a committee of Arab nationalists should be formed in Syria to take the place of the former Syrian Government and ″become the first exponent of the establishment of an independent Greater Syrian state to include Palestine and parts of Transjordan″; Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia should be wooed by the promise— as Oppenheim had suggested in his memo—of ″the territories of ′Aquaba and Ma′an now belonging to Transjordan and always desired by him″; and finally (another suggestion of Oppenheim′s) ″the Arab world should be promised a solution of the Jewish question that it would find tolerable.″ Melchers concluded, again in the spirit of Oppenheim′s memo, that ″the execution of only some of these proposals would profoundly stir up the entire Arab world [...] and probably take the wind out of the sails of England and of de Gaulle.″55 Even if Oppenheim′s memo played no part in the development of National Socialist Germany′s policy in the Middle East, there is no doubt that it articulated many ideas and suggestions that became part of ongoing discussions at Ribbentrop′s Auswärtiges Amt.

  • 56 His instructions, as drawn up by Melchers, communicated to him in Ankara where he had been waiting (...)
  • 57 Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstriese, p. 337.
  • 58 Ibidem, p. 336.

54In late 1940, one of Oppenheim′s basic recommendations was acted upon when it was decided to send a respected and experienced German diplomat on a mission to Syria, albeit the mission was entrusted not to Grobba, as Oppenheim had proposed in his memorandum of July 1940, but to Grobba′s rival at the Auswärtiges Amt, von Hentig. At first it might seem that Oppenheim′s memorandum had little to do with the decision. In contrast to what Oppenheim had proposed, it was impressed on Hentig that he was being sent on a ″fact-finding″ mission and was to avoid any provocative activity.56 In Hentig′s own words, ″In consideration of [Hitler′s negotiations with Pétain at] Montoire and of the Führer′s Italian policy, the Political Section [of the Auswärtiges Amt] decided that I should limit myself strictly to a four-week visit for purely information-gathering purposes.″57 Since Hitler hoped at this point to turn Vichy France into an ally, in sum, the aim of the mission was ostensibly not to fan the flames of revolution in the Arab lands, starting with Syria, as Oppenheim and some in the Auswärtiges Amt (such as Grobba) had urged. It was simply to report on the situation in the French Mandate territory, where, as Melchers′ memorandum had noted and as Hentig himself was to confirm, there was considerable sympathy among high-ranking officials for de Gaulle, German nationals were being harassed, and even the Italian armistice commission was subject to irksome restrictions on its movements. Moreover, as Melchers had also pointed out and as Hentig confirmed subsequently, Arab opinion was deeply hostile to Italy and perplexed that Germany, the truly victorious power in Arab eyes, was not represented on the commission and was doing nothing to stop the humiliations and injuries to which the French authorities were subjecting resident German nationals and their Arab friends.58 There was certainly matter enough to investigate in the course of a ″fact-finding mission.″

55Nevertheless, the French were extremely wary of Hentig′s plans, delayed delivery of his travel permit, kept him under constant surveillance during his visit, and treated him with suspicion bordering on hostility. At one point the hotel where he was staying was surrounded by agents of the ″Deuxième Bureau,″ the French military intelligence, and he was required to show his papers. Hentig later professed to having kept a low profile throughout his four-week mission: ″The French and the English have often claimed that I brought unrest to the land,″ he wrote later. ″Perhaps that is what they feared. But even those hostile to my activities, such as the English Consul-General—who significantly, still remained undisturbed at Aley, twenty minutes above Beirut—knew that this was not the case.″

  • 59 Cit. Lipschits, La Politique de la France au Levant 1939-1941, p. 83.
  • 60 ″Three Reich Plotters Try to Win Syria. Following Gains in Iraq, Nazis seek support for Hitler as (...)

56It is by no means clear, however, that Hentig′s mission was as harmless as he claimed or as his official instructions seem to indicate. The British Consul in Damascus described its purpose in a telegram to the Foreign office as ″to report to Berlin on the general situation and on the state of Anglo-French relations; to establish contact with Syrian nationalists; and to launch an anti-British propaganda campaign.″59 On 7 April 1941, several months before America entered the War, the New York Times featured a still more alarming report of Hentig′s activities in Syria.60 Three Germans, the article claimed, had been

responsible for the Nazi agitation in Syria, accompanying the plotting for a coup d′etat in Iraq. They were Herr von Hoentig, a specialist in agitation in the Orient; Dr. Fritz Grobba, the German Minister to Iraq and Saudi Arabia; and Max von Oppenheim, a distinguished archaeologist and acute propagandist. [...] Herr von Hoentig devoted himself exclusively to stirring up unrest. He warned wealthy Syrians that Syria would soon come under German domination and that those who had not lined up with the Germans would go to a concentration camp. To poor Arabs, he pictured Adolf Hitler as the protector of Islam, sent by Allah to aid the devout. To them he said the British intended to divide Syria between a Jewish Palestine and Turkey. This had considerable success among the simpler Arabs, who also were dazzled by promises of a vast German-protected Arab kingdom. Herr von Hoentig also organized sabotage and assassination gangs and introduced a number of German Oriental agents to the country, where they still remain. He brought to Syria the propaganda film ″Victory in the West,″ which had been used to scare European countries. The film was shown day after day in the Hotel Metropol in Beirut to specially selected parties of Arabs, who at the same time were entertained with Nazi propaganda. [.] Herr von Hoentig succeeded, according to his own boasts in Ankara, in penetrating illegally into Iraq [...] and stirring up trouble there. He set the stage for the coup d′etat in Iraq.

  • 61 Major-General I.S.O. Playfair, The Mediterranean and the Middle East, vol. 2, pp. 193-94.
  • 62 Charles de Gaulle, Lettres, notes et carnets (Paris: Plon, 1981), vol. 3: June 1940-July 1941, pp. (...)

57In his official history (1956) of the war in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Major-General I.S.O. Playfair recalls that in September 1940 the Mufti, al-Husseini, had suggested that ″from a centre in Syria, the Germans should organize large anti-British movements in Palestine and Transjordan.″ At first ″the German government showed little interest,″ Playfair writes, but ″whether on account of the Mufti′s promptings or not, in January 1941 the German Foreign Office sent an emissary, von Hentig —a disciple of Wassmuss, the German Lawrence—to Syria.″61 General de Gaulle himself noted in a telegram of 13 February 1941 to General Larminat in Brazzaville that ″German infiltration into the Empire continues. In Syria a German mission led by von Hentig and Roser arrived in Damascus on January 26 and has visited Aleppo, by way of Homs. Ostensibly this mission is about economics but its real purpose is espionage, anti-British propaganda, and contacting the nationalists. They have met with those nationalist leaders who are most hostile to France and with all the Germanophile Syrians, in particular Sadi Kailani.″ De Gaulle was well aware, moreover, of Hentig′s role in the Middle East in the First World War and drew the obvious conclusion. ″Von Hentig,″ he explained in a follow-up telegram two days later, ″was the principal collaborator of von Niedermayer in 1916 when the latter′s mission was to bring about Afghanistan′s entry into the War on the side of Germany.″ The Nazi government had appointed him director of the Asia section at the Wilhelmstrasse: ″His presence in Syria, authorised by Vichy, highlights German plans not only for Syria but for the countries situated between Syria and the Indies.″62

58This view of Hentig′s mission was made official in 1942 in a pamphlet put out by the Free French in London in which it was asserted that from the moment he arrived in Beirut, on 11 January 1941, ″M. von Hentig began to work on public opinion, addressing himself preferably to milieux hostile to France.″

  • 63 Les Allemands en Syrie sous le gouvernement de Vichy (London: Publications de la France combattant (...)

His propaganda was at first insidiously subtle. At a meeting in the Hotel Metropole on January 25, to which he invited the main political and religious leaders, he seduced his audience by his affability and affected to pass lightly, out of courtesy, over the thorny problems inevitably created by the French administration. But this discreet behavior was not continued for long. Soon, in the same locale, there was a showing of, among others, the film ″Sieg im Westen″ (Victory in the West), in which the defeat of France is portrayed in the most vivid and striking images. At the same time, M. von Hentig asked the Muslims for their opinions on the creation of an Arab empire; he envisaged the convocation of an Islamic congress in Damascus; he encouraged the formation of youth groups on the German model; he fired up the extremists against the English and advised them to get together with the Iraqi Futuwwah movement. All this under the nose of the representatives of Vichy. Then the clandestine propaganda of the outfit communicated the keyword slogans, which did not take long to reappear throughout the country in the form of demands, outcries, and riots. [...] Soon the superiority of the French was being questioned, along with their right to retain their title to the Mandate. Finally they were compared to the chosen race, the German race, which alone deserves to rule. And the populations of Aleppo, Hama, and Damascus began to sing:
Bala Missiou, bala Mister,
Kelloh barra, haide sikter,
Bissama Allah, oua alard Hitler.
(″No more Monsieur, no more Mister: all of you, get out, scram. In Heaven Allah, here on earth Hitler!″)
The effect of all this activity was multiplied by a journey through Syria undertaken by Messieurs von Hentig and Roser in the course of which they presented their films and openly proclaimed the coming of the German Era. In Damascus, Tripoli, Lattaquieh, Aleppo, and even beyond the Euphrates, they carried out a round of visits, with an air of officialdom, to all the notables of each place, to religious leaders, to schools. [...] In every place where people thought they had something to complain about, it was explained to them that it was useless to pay any attention to the French since they retained only the shadow of authority, that a very different future was on the way, and that it was with those who held that future in their hands that they should be dealing. It is worth noting that in March of this year a tailor in the el-hoja souk in Damascus began turning out swastika flags for some individuals who expected to be making use of them in the very near future.63

59The character and thrust of Hentig′s mission have been summed up by a modern French historian as follows:

  • 64 Lipschits, La Politique de la France au Levant 1939-1941, pp. 83-84. See also on Hentig′s mission (...)

What Hentig undertook was above all a campaign of anti-French propaganda. He did everything he could to undermine the prestige of France in the Levant. To this end he showed the film ″Sieg im Westen″ in all the territories of the Mandate and exploited to the full the discontent provoked among the Syrians by the bad economic situation and the non-ratification of the 1936 Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence. Von Hentig directed his propaganda especially toward nationalist circles and had conversations with several leaders of the Nationalist Block. He found very receptive interlocutors. The populations of Syria and Lebanon had become more and more germanophile as the German armies, surrounded by a halo of invincibility moved ever closer to their two countries. As Dentz declared at his treason trial in 1945: ″The Reich appeared at that point as a liberator. The Reich was the power that was going to liberate all the Arab lands, unite them, and create the great Arab Empire. No one expected that liberation and that great Empire to come from France, conquered and shorn of its prestige. England was always perceived as the promoter of the resented Mandate idea and the enemy of Arab emancipation. It was the Reich, victorious, coming ever nearer, especially after the invasion of Greece [in March 1941], that was the future liberator.″64

  • 65 See Oppenheim′s letter to Hentig, accompanying the letters and cards of introduction and containin (...)

60In view of this apparently more activist character of Hentig′s mission, it comes as no surprise that he was supplied by Oppenheim, before he set out, with thirteen letters of introduction to Syrian notables, all of whom were explicitly identified by Oppenheim in a covering note with tags such as ″completely nationalist,″ or ″like all Bedouins, unquestionably an Arab nationalist,″ or, in the weakest case, ″apparently French-oriented but nevertheless nationalist.″ Among them were three powerful Bedouin chieftains with whom the old scholar had established relations of friendship or ″blood-brotherhood″ during his own earlier stays in Syria, a former President of the Syrian Republic under the Mandate, the Director of the Syrian Museums, a professor and lawyer in Damascus married to a German woman, and Adel Arslan, the brother of the exiled Pan-Islamist leader Shakib Arslan.65 Hentig himself recorded later that, as he travelled from place to place around the country establishing contact with local dignitaries and chieftains, he was constantly approached, in his capacity as a representative of the victorious German government, by all manner of politically interested parties: Arabs, Chaldeans, Kurds, Armenians, leaders of the various religions, even Jews willing to collaborate with the National Socialists ″against their own people, especially the orthodox Zionists, if Hitler would guarantee them an independent Jewish Palestine.″ Whatever his instructions about avoiding interference in the political situation in Syria may have been, Hentig did not discourage these approaches. On the contrary, he undertook, as he conceded later in his Memoirs, ″first, to defend our Arab friends from the most egregious attacks on them by the Mandatory power and to obtain the release of as many of those who had been imprisoned or sent to camps as possible,″ and second, while avoiding any hard and fast commitments, to leave those who had approached him ″in no doubt as to our essential orientation and attitude.″

  • 66 Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstreise, pp. 338-40. The ″the superior-looking young officer type″ re (...)
  • 67 On the Madagascar project, see Christopher R. Browning, The Final Solution and the German Foreign (...)

61Thus he explained to one Arab leader (who was to be the first Prime Minister of Lebanon after that country gained independence in 1943) that ″in response to specific political conditions, a government must often temporarily adopt an attitude that deviates from its permanent national policy. It was, however, the ′policy of the German People′ to collaborate in the struggle for the independence of the Arab lands [die Unabhängigkeit der arabischen Länder mitzuerkämpfen].″ That, he assured his Arab friends ″was our permanent position, overriding any opinions and measures that might at a given moment be taken by a German government.″ The Jewish delegation, in contrast, was advised that ″in consideration of the interests of our Arab friends and of our general principles, the conditions it had set forth could never be accepted.″ Hentig was somewhat more sympathetic in his response, however, than Oppenheim had been in his memorandum of July 1940. The delegation′s leader, ″a superior-looking young officer type,″ was assured that ″I personally have always been a supporter of a Jewish national state in a territory with a favourable climate and adequate space for settlement.″66 Hentig had in fact been a consistent supporter of the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland, the main, twenty thousand member strong German Zionist organization, founded in 1896, and had done everything he could to facilitate the emigration of German Jews to Palestine. After the November 1938 pogrom it was Hentig who was approached by the ZVfD for help in preventing a planned parading of arrested Jewish men through the streets of Berlin. By January 1941, however, advocacy of Jewish emigration to Palestine had become completely inopportune. On the other hand, a project to settle European Jews in ″a territory with a favourable climate and adequate space,″ namely Madagascar—a project discussed in various quarters since the 1920s and approved by Hitler, Göring, Ribbentrop, Eichmann, and many others in the National Socialist Party—had again come under active consideration in the Auswärtiges Amt, following the armistice with France. Though it was totally unacceptable to the extremist splinter group of Revisionist Zionism that had approached Hentig, such a solution of the ″Jewish problem″ would probably have been supported by Oppenheim—as well, no doubt, as al-Husseini and the Arabs.67

62On 26 February 1941, on his return from Syria, Hentig drew up a broad-ranging report on the situation in the Arab lands of the Middle East. Some of its recommendations were included in a ″Memorandum on the Arab question″ and ″how it should be handled with reference to our aim of achieving England′s defeat″ produced by Woermann (the Head of the Political Department of the A.A.) a little over a week later, on 7 March. A key issue was raised and resolved at the outset: ″The Islamic idea (Holy War) is impracticable under the present grouping of powers. Arab nationality and Islam are not identical. The Arabs to be brought into our plans are fighting not for religious but for political aims.″ In other words, as Oppenheim′s silence on the topic in his memorandum to Habicht of 25 July 1940 had implied, jihad should no longer be regarded in 1940-1941 as the key element that it had been in Imperial Germany′s plans in 1914-1918. The Woermann memorandum then went on to deal with the importance of the Arab area in general and with the possibilities for action by Germany in the form of propaganda, sabotage, uprisings, and publication of the written statement, insistently demanded by the Arab leaders, of Axis support for the independence and ultimate unity of all the Arab lands.

  • 68 Von Papen reports to Weizsäcker that, according to the Secretary General at the Turkish Foreign Mi (...)

63″In the context of the war with England,″ it was asserted, ″the Arab area holds a position of great strategic significance,″ since it ″forms a land bridge between Africa and India.″ Over it, ″through Iraq, Transjordan and Palestine,″ and through the Suez canal, ″vast numbers of [British] troops and quantities of war material″ have been shipped westward to Egypt and war material has also been shipped over it ″to Turkey and probably also to Greece.″ (Greece, it will be remembered, had been attacked by Italy at the end of October 1940 and the campaign had not gone well at all for the Italians, so that by the time Hentig composed his report, Germany was on the verge of coming to the aid of its Italian ally with its own invasion of Greece; as for Turkey, a confidential letter from Ambassador von Papen to Secretary of State von Weizsäcker of 8 April 1941 makes it clear that Turkey was also in constant fear of attack by the Axis.68) In addition, it was noted, as if in anticipation of operation ″Barbarossa,″ ″through these areas passes also a main route on which England and the Soviet Union might join hands if the occasion should arise.″ The Middle East countries are also vital to the British because of the oil fields of Mosul and the pipeline to the Mediterranean at Haifa.

64″A decisive blow to the British Empire″ could thus be delivered in this area ″through operations against Egypt and/or military occupation of the Arabian land bridge.″ Admittedly, ″this area lies beyond the reach of the Axis powers at the present time [italics in text]—except with respect to the Luftwaffe,″ but that situation would change if Turkey could be brought into the war on the side of the Axis. In the meantime, propaganda needs to be vigorously carried out by radio broadcasts in Arabic, by exerting influence on Arab newspapers and magazines, by cultivating relations with Arab personalities and by doing ″something conspicuous from time to time, such as the dispatch of Minister von Hentig to Syria.″ The Abwehr should be given ″greater latitude″ with respect to acts of sabotage and uprisings by the Arabs, a line of action from which, ″in compliance with the wishes of the Foreign Minister, it has refrained for the most part, out of consideration for Italy.″ As for the written declaration of support for Arab independence and unity, ″purely from the standpoint of Germany′s interest, there could be no objection to such a declaration. Given the Arabs′ dislike of the English and of the Italians, it would be easy for us to attain a position of influence in a Greater Arab empire. [...] The difficulties arise from considerations relating to other powers″—i.e. Italy, France, Turkey, and the Soviet Union. At some point the Italian Government needs to be induced to ″define its objectives in the Arab area,″ but the moment may not yet be opportune.

65Likewise, ″a declaration favouring a Greater Arabia would, because of Syria, be contrary to our general policy of not including the French colonial empire, at the present time, among the subjects under discussion.″ In Syria, such a declaration might ″bring about an open defection to the de Gaulle camp. Even France herself and other parts of her colonial empire might in this way be driven further toward de Gaulle and England.″ Still, ″as regards France, this question is of more than mere tactical significance. Underlying it is the question whether French influence in Syria is to continue at all.″ But that question is as yet ″not ripe for discussion.″ As for the Soviet Union (relations with which, in February 1941, were still officially governed by the non-aggression treaty of August 1939), German policy in Iraq might have to take Soviet interests into account. All in all, therefore, ″it appears to be difficult to issue a declaration in favor of a Greater Arab federation which [.] goes substantially beyond our former declaration. Some kind of reaction to the wishes expressed by the Grand Mufti [.] would, however, be desirable.″ This part of the memorandum closes on a prudent note: ″It will always be safe to repeat in talks with the Arabs that the victory of the Axis powers is certain, that Germany has no territorial ambitions in this area, and that we are linked with the Arabs by being opponents of their English oppressors; that we share their views on the Jewish question; and that the Arabs can always be sure of our support within practical limits whenever they themselves take up the struggle against England.″

  • 69 Documents on German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 12, pp. 234-43, document 133.

66The rest of the memorandum was mainly about Iraq and how it might be supported militarily and financially if it were to enter the war on the side of the Axis. The presciently cautious position expressed on this matter probably reflected the views of Hentig rather than Grobba. From a military point of view, it was stated, ″open resistance by Iraq against England″ at the present time, ″could have only a brief success, and in the final outcome [...] strengthen British prestige.″ Hence ″it must be our policy to keep Iraq′s confidence in us alive″ through the delivery of requested weaponry— ″once a route for the transport of the material has been settled″—in order that ″Iraq will strike when the over-all military and political situation makes such action desirable.″ However, ″Iraq′s open rebellion against England should not be actively promoted until the moment is conducive to success.″ In conclusion, the memorandum advised the ″removal of de Gaulle followers in key positions from Syria″ and ″in accordance with the proposals of Minister von Hentig,″ the setting up of ″a German delegation to the Italian Armistice Commission in Syria, to be headed by Minister von Hentig (formally in his military capacity as Major in the reserves).″69

  • 70 This memorandum, referred to by Melka, Middle Eastern Studies, 9 (1973): 81-93, is preserved in th (...)

67It seems likely that von Hentig made the final report on his mission, and perhaps earlier reports too, available to Oppenheim, for in a second memorandum to the Auswärtiges Amt on 22 March 1941, the old scholar essentially backed up Hentig′s views.70 As summarized by the late Robert Melka, this second memorandum of Oppenheim′s contained an overview of his ideas on the mandated territories of the Middle East, based, he said, on his long experience there. Oppenheim, according to Melka,

described the peoples of the mandates, with few exceptions, as deeply opposed to French and British domination. At the present time Syria was the only country of the Middle East accessible to Germany [all the others—Egypt, Palestine, Transjordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia—being directly or indirectly, under British control or influence], which should seize this opportunity ″in order to establish ourselves there strongly and in wide spheres of action.″ This, von Oppenheim thought, could best be done through a German armistice commission. The Italian commission was isolated and had no influence with the local population, and therefore the Germans must have their own commission, which, because of the high qualifications of its members, would become ″the strong point of German power, and especially the point of support for our Arab friends,″ not only in Syria, but in neighbouring countries as well. Such a policy, he concluded, would be welcomed by the Arabs and would enable Germany to play a leading role in the future united Arab state, which she should promote.

  • 71 Robert L. Melka, ″Max Freiherr von Oppenheim: Sixty Years of Scholarship and Political Intrigue in (...)
  • 72 Documents on German Foreign Policy, vol. 12, pp. 561-62, 742-43, documents 352 (15 April 1941) and (...)

68″Von Oppenheim′s memorandum,″ in Melka′s view, ″contained such recent information on Syria, which he had not visited since the spring of 1939, and bears such a close resemblance to the report and recommendations which von Hentig submitted on February 26, that it is difficult to escape the conclusion that it was drafted under the latter′s inspiration.″71 However, while the Italian government gave its consent to the dispatch of German liaison personnel to the Italian Armistice Commission in Syria, the French in a clear sign of their deep suspicion of this particular German diplomat′s aims and activities absolutely refused to have him return to Syria. Woermann, on his side noted that, as ″Herr von Hentig is a man especially suited for the task, [.] the matter has become a question of prestige to us as a result of the French refusal.″ He suggested that Hentig and Jacques Benoist-Mechin, the French rightwing writer, Vichy diplomat, and friend of the German ambassador in Paris, Otto Abetz, get together and work things out. Though he noted in the same memorandum that ″we must insist on sending Hentig,″ three weeks later (in a memorandum of 8 May 1941) he climbed down and, in light of Abetz′s insistence that he did ″not consider sending Minister Hentig to Syria advisable at this time,″ proposed that Rudolph Rahn, an official at the German Embassy in Paris—who was, on the whole, unsympathetic to Arab nationalism and an advocate of working with Vichy France—be sent instead.72

  • 73 Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, p. 162. With the old Directorate still in power in (...)

69The French authorities′ already considerable suspicion of von Hentig and his plans for Syria had clearly been aggravated as a result of his activities in the Mandate during his visit in February. They were convinced that it was von Hentig who was behind the serious unrest in Syria in the months of March and April following his visit.73 Earlier reluctance to let him into the country was thus turned into adamant refusal. All in all, it seems safe to assume that, even if Hentig′s vision of German policy in the Middle East was more cautious and less grandiose than that of his friend ″Maxbaron,″ the two men worked closely together and were totally committed to the goal they had both sought to realise under the Kaiser a quarter of a century earlier: the triumph of Germany and the destruction of the British Empire. Oppenheim was happy to collaborate with all—Grobba, Prüfer, Shakib Arslan and, in all likelihood, the Mufti, al-Husseini—who shared that commitment and who believed, whatever their personal rivalries, that the Middle East held a key to Germany′s victory in the war.

Notes

1 See Ludmila Hanisch, Die Nachfolger der Exegeten. Deutschsprachige Erforschung des Vorderen Orients in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts.

2 William L. Cleveland, Islam against the West: Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationalism, pp. 140, 141. See also Chantal Metzger, L′Empire colonial français dans la stratégie du Troisième Reich (1936-1945), vol. 1, p. 582, note 2; p. 598, no. 3. On Arslan, see Martin Kramer′s review of Cleveland: www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/Arslan.htm, and Jakob Kreis, ″Shakib Arslan′s Libyan Dilemma,″ in Rethinking Totalitarianism and its Arab Readings (Proceedings of the Conference ″European Totalitarianism in the Mirrors of Contemporary Arab Thought″ [Beirut, 6-8 October 2010]), http://www.perspectivia.net/content/publikationen/orient-institut-studies/1-2012.

3 William L. Cleveland, Islam against the West, Ch. 7, note 17, p. 200: ″Von Oppenheim began one of his covering notes to his Auswärtiges Amt contact of the time, von Richthofen, with the words: ′As agreed, I am sending you Amir Shakib Arslan′s latest letter with my request for a response so that I can write to him myself″ (14 December 1928). In her extremely well researched study, L′Empire colonial français dans la stratégie du Troisième Reich (1936-1945), Chantal Metzger goes so far as to describe Oppenheim as the animating spirit of the ″Section Proche Orient-Afrique du Nord de l′Auswärtiges Amt.″ After Germany′s defeat in World War I, she claims, ″the baron set up a network of like-minded people. He was able to surround himself with diplomats of caliber and his team was active on the margins of the Auswärtiges Amt and the Abwehr. He enjoyed good relations with Admiral Canaris and co-operated with the Sicherheitsdienst. Two diplomats in his team stand out: Fritz Grobba and Werner-Otto Hentig″ (vol. 1, p. 174). Shakib Arslan continued to communicate with Oppenheim through the Second World War, confiding his views to him in 1942 on the growing rivalry between Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, and Rashid-Ali al-Gailani, the former Premier of Iraq, for leadership of the Arab movement in support of Germany and against colonial rule in the Middle East. (See Berndt Philipp Schröder, Deutschland und der Mittlere Osten im Zweiten Weltkrieg [Göttingen: Musterschmidt, 1975], pp. 224-28).

4 Rivalry and disagreement with al-Gailani (Akten der deutschen auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945, Serie E [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1969], vol. 1, document 175 [27 January 1942] pp. 310-11; vol. 4 [1975], document 166 [12 November 1942], pp. 289-90) led al-Husseini to complain repeatedly to Secretary of State von Weizsäcker that Grobba was unreliable, sided with al-Gailani, and was more interested in the independence of Iraq than in that of the other Arab states (ibid., vol. 2 [1972], document 281 [10 June 1942], note by Weizsäcker, pp. 479-80). These complaints resulted in Grobba′s being dismissed from his post as head of the Middle East Section of the Auswärtiges Amt and replaced by Prüfer. Nevertheless, even after this the two German Middle East experts remained on seemingly friendly terms. Grobba wrote Prüfer addressing him as ″Lieber Prüfer,″ and accompanying his best wishes for a Happy New Year with ″herzlichen Grüssen von Haus zu Haus″ [warmest greeting from my family to yours] (ibid., vol. 4, document 321 [28 December 1942], pp. 596-97). Prüfer, however, seems not to have had a high opinion of Grobba. He describes him as an intriguing ″fishwife,″ ″absolutely unreasonable,″ and ″incapable of seeing the forest for the trees,″ because he was so ″blinded by vanity and ambition″ that ″he can no longer see that we are supposed to make German policy as a whole″ (McKale, Rewriting History. The Original and Revised World War II Diaries of Curt Prüfer, 12 November, 20 November, and 23 November, pp. 5-6, 10, 11-12). On the rivalry of Grobba and von Hentig, which appears to have been based on personal antipathy and social background as well as different views of policy in the Middle East, see Helmut Mejcher, ″Hitler′s Route to Baghdad?″ in Haim Goren, ed., Germany and the Middle East, Past, Present, and Future (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2003), pp. 71-83 (pp. 77-79).

5 Werner Otto von Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstreise (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962), p. 202.

6 Ibid., pp. 193, 329.

7 Cleveland, Islam against the West: Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationalism pp. 139-49.

8 Ibid., p. 141 and Ch. 7, note 18 (p. 200).

9 Ibid., p. 142. Sensing that his man would not take no for an answer, Prüfer even took the trouble to warn his colleagues at the A.A. ″against the reception of Arslan by leading government personalities″ (ibid.).

10 Not coincidentally perhaps, the failure of al-Gailani′s coup, was immediately followed in Baghdad, in the power vacuum before the arrival of British troops, by an anti-Jewish farhud or pogrom in which—according to the report of an official Iraqi investigation commission appointed by the new government of Jamil al-Mifdai—110 Jews were killed, many wounded, and over 900 Jewish homes destroyed (B. Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer: The Rise and Fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini [New York and London: Thomas Yoseloff, 1965], pp. 114-15). The 1941 farhud marked the beginning of the end of the large and ancient Jewish community in Iraq.

11 Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer, pp. 77, 119. In March 1937, Mussolini had opportunistically proclaimed himself ″Protector of Islam″ after a state visit to Libya (invaded by Italy in 1911-1912 and completely occupied in the course of the 1920s) and the brutal suppression of resistance to Italian rule that culminated in the execution of the Senussi rebel leader, Omar al-Mukhtar. Italy simultaneously began a propaganda campaign designed to pacify Muslim sentiment around the Mediterranean and deflect anti-colonial feelings toward the British and the French.

12 Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propagandafor the Arab World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 15-16.

13 Cit. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, Berlin Kabul Moskau: Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer und Deutschlands Geopolitik, pp. 220-21. See also Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1985), pp. 82-84.

14 As late as 19 May 1941, after Hess′s surprise landing in Scotland, Secretary of State von Weizsäcker noted: ″I have always had the impression that the Führer was interested in reaching a compromise agreement with England, one that would leave the British Empire intact while England accepted that it would have no say in matters concerning the Continent. Hess must have been obsessed by this idea″ (Die Weizsäcker-Papiere 1933-1950, ed. Leonidas E. Hill [Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna: Propyläen-Ullstein Verlag, 1974], p. 255). Only a few days earlier Ribbentrop had told John C. Cudahy, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland before the war and to Belgium between 1939 and 1940, that the obstinate resistance of the British was ″for the Führer a great tragedy, for he, who wanted at heart to be a friend of England, had been chosen by fate to break the great Empire. In his efforts to create a good relationship with England, the Führer had accepted [...] a limitation of the German fleet at thirty-five percent of the English fleet, and had, finally, wanted to make available to England twelve German divisions for all eventualities; i.e. he had been willing to guarantee the British Empire with German blood. In return, England should only have recognized Germany as the dominant power in Europe″ (Documents on German Foreign Policy [Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1969], series D, vol. 12, p. 708, document 451, [5 May 1941]). See also on Hitler′s interest in an agreement with Great Brtain Lukasz Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966), pp. 38-39; Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 72-76; Stefan Wild, ″National Socialism in the Arab Near East between 1933 and 1939,″ Die Welt des Islams, new series 25 (1985): 126-73 (pp. 143-45).

15 Documents cited in Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer, p. 78.

16 Francis R. Nicosia, ″Fritz Grobba and the Middle East Policy of the Third Reich,″ in Edward Ingram, ed., National and International Politics in the Middle East: Essays in Honour of Elie Kadourie (London: Frank Cass, 1986), pp. 206-28 (pp. 207-08). On Moritz Sobernheim (a Jewish scholar of Islam), the immediate German response to the Balfour Declaration, and German-Jewish and German-Zionist relations from the end of World War I until 1933, see Francis R. Nicosia, ″Jewish Affairs and German Foreign Policy During the Weimar Republic. Moritz Sobernheim and the Referat für jüdische Angelegenheiten,″ Leo Baeck Society Yearbook, 1988, pp. 261-83.

17 In addition to the Nicosia article of 1986 referred to in the previous note, see Lukasz Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, pp. 26-42; Andreas Hillgruber, ″The Third Reich and the Near and Middle East 1933-1939,″ in Uriel Dann, ed., The Great Powers in the Middle East (New York and London: Holmes & Meier, 1988), pp. 274-82; Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1986), Chapter 6: ″The Nazis and the Palestine Question″ (pp. 140-63). On debates, within the German leadership, about the ha′avara agreement (allowing emigrant German Jews to export capital to Palestine in the form of imports of German goods into the Mandate territory) and on Palestine as an appropriate destination for Jewish emigrants, see Hans Adolf Jacobsen, Nationalsozialistische Aussenpolitik 1933-1938 (Frankfurt a. M. and Berlin: Alfred Metzner, 1968), pp. 156-57; R. Melka, ″Nazi Germany and the Palestine Question,″ Middle Eastern Studies, 5 (1969): 221-33; Lukasz Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, pp. 29-33; Francis Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 112-23, 126-44, 151-59 et passim. To those most eager to rid Germany of its Jews, such as many in the SS, as well as to others who, for humanitarian reasons, wanted to help Jews to emigrate, Palestine seemed to offer the most convenient and practical solution to the ″Jewish problem.″ Others, however, feared the creation in Palestine of a new anti-German centre of Jewish power and insisted on dispersal of the Jews.

18 Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, pp. 86-92; Heinz Tillmann, Deutschlands Araberpolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Berlin: VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1965), pp. 161, 165-66; Martin Kolinsky, Britain′s War in the Middle East: Strategy and Diplomacy, 1936-42 (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 1999), pp. 153-55. On 26 December 1941, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Woermann reiterated that ″we have always been extremely careful to distinguish between the Arabs of the Near East and the Arabs of North Africa. Our Arab policy does not apply west of Egypt. And in view of our policy in relation to France, Italy, and Spain, we have no interest in encouraging Arab nationalism in North Africa.″ For this reason, Woermann did not favor Husseini′s proposal, supported by Oppenheim and Grobba, that a special ″Arab League″ be set up, recruited from volunteers and prisoners of war (i.e. from French North Africa) to fight for Germany (Akten der deutschen auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945 [Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1969], series E, vol. 1, pp. 99-100, document 59). Following Hitler himself in his conversation with the Mufti, Woermann also warned on 28 February 1942, that in view of German-French relations the issuing of any declaration about the independence of Arab lands was inopportune (ibid., p. 100, note 2).

19 ″Record of the Conversation Between the Führer and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on 28 November 1941, in the presence of Reich Foreign Minister [i.e. Ribbentrop] and Minister Grobba in Berlin,″ memorandum dated Berlin 30 November 1941, in David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann, Icon of Evil: Hitler′s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam (New York: Random House, 2008), Appendix of Correspondence and Documents, pp. 159-62. Original German text (see Appendix to the present volume), signed [Paul Otto] Schmidt, in Akten zur deutschen auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945 (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1970), series D, vol. 13.2, pp. 718-21. An entry in al-Husseini′s diary confirms this report of his interview and conversation with Hitler (Rothmann, Icon of Evil, pp. 162-65). By June 1942 the theme of the common enemy—the Jews and the English—had been expanded to include the Americans. Grobba reports that on 25 June 1942 the Mufti had a conversation with Erwin Ettel, German Ambassador to Iran from 1939 until the embassy was closed in 1941 and one of al-Husseini′s main contacts with the Auswärtiges Amt, in which he asserted that Germany and the Arabs were united in their common battle against the Jews. ″Germany was the only country in the world that did not limit its fight against the Jews to its own territory but had announced an uncompromising fight against world Jewry. The Arabs felt at one with the Germans in this battle against the Jews. The fight against England was inseparable from the fight against Jewry. The English were now, together with the Americans, the friends and protectors of the Jews″ (Fritz Grobba, Männer und Mächte im Orient. 35 Jahre diplomatischer Tätigkeit im Orient″ [Göttingen: Musterschmidt, 1967], p. 270).

20 ″In den arabisch besiedelten Gebieten westlich von Ägypten soll keine nationalarabische oder sonstige politische Propaganda betrieben werden″ [″No Arab nationalist or other political propaganda is to be implemented in the the areas settled by Arabs west of Egypt″] ran an instruction issued by Ribbentrop on 12 February 1942. This confirmed a longstanding policy of deference to Italian and then Vichy French interests (Akten zur deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945 [Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1969], series E [1941-1945], vol. 1, p. 406, document 231 [text of a telegram from Woermann, head of the A.A.′ s Political Section to the German Embassy in Rome]).

21 Ian Kershaw suggests that Hitler′s eagerness to reach the oilfields of Baku led him to depart from his original plan of advancing on the Caucasus after taking Stalingrad and to adopt instead a strategy that, in Kershaw′s words, was ″sheer lunacy″ and resulted in a catastrophic defeat, namely dividing the German army into two groups, the stronger of which pushed south into the Caucasus, while the weaker was left with the task of taking Stalingrad (Hitler 1936-45. Nemesis [New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 2000], p. 529).

22 ″In my opinion there can be bo doubt that we must give Italy absolute precedence in organizing the Arabian area,″ Ernst Woermann, the head of the Political Section of the A.A., declared in a memorandum, dated 21 July 1940 (Documents on German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 10, p. 261 [Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1957], document 200). Despite criticisms of this policy by many of the old Middle East hands at the A.A. it was never abandoned in any significant way and was repeatedly confirmed in successive memoranda.

23 See, for instance Documents on German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 11, documents 127, 133, 160, 596; vol. 12, document 83; Akten zur deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945, series E, vol. 1 (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1969), documents 26, 131.

24 McKale, Rewriting History. The Original and Revised World War II Diaries of Curt Prüfer, p. 7 (14 November 1942).

25 Michael Bloch, Ribbentrop (London: Bantam Press, 1992), pp. 272, 279. According to Philip Rees, Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right since 1890 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990), Habicht was an ″Undersecretary in the Foreign Department of the NSDAP″ (i.e. the Aussenpolitisches Amt of the Nazi Party). However, he is listed as Undersecretary in the Auswärtiges Amt and head of both the Political Section and the Information Section in Biographisches Handbuch des deutschen Auswärtigen Dienstes, ed. Maria Keipert, vol. 2 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2005), pp. 153-64 and as ″Sonderbeauftragter für Propaganda,″ immediately responsible, like Secretary of State Weizsäcker, to Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, in Bernd Sösemann, Propaganda: Medien und Öffentlichkeit in der N-S Diktatur, 2 vols. (Stuttgart, Franz Steiner, 2011), vol. 1, p. 764.

26 Ribbentrop specifically instructed that ″es soll keine allgemeine islamische Propaganda auf religiöser Grundlage betrieben werden. Propaganda mit Schlagworten wie ′heiliger Krieg′ soll daher unterbleiben″ [″No general Islamic propaganda based on religion is to be utilized. Any propaganda using slogans like ′holy war′ must cease″] (Akten zur deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945 [Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1969], series E [1941-1945], vol. 1, p. 406, document 231 [text of a telegram from Woermann to the German Embassy in Rome]).

27 Quoted in Heinz Tillmann, Deutschlands Araberpolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg, p. 162.

28 Gabriel Puaux, decorated for bravery in World War I, was named French Ambassador to Austria in 1933. In 1938 he did his best to thwart the Anschluss. He also, on the outbreak of war in 1939, cancelled Oppenheim′s excavation rights at Tell Fakhariya in Northern Syria, a fact of which Oppenheim was no doubt mindful when composing his memorandum. Dismissed by Vichy from his post in Syria, Puaux finally joined the French Resistance.

29 They were, in fact, being so treated at the time by the Nazi state′s officials and were subject to internment. See Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, ″Aziz Cotta Bey, deutsche und ägyptische Handelskammern und der Bund Ägypter deutscher Bildung,″ in Gerhard Höpp, ed., Fremde Erfahrungen: Asiaten und Afrikaner in Deutschland, Österreich und in der Schweiz bis 1945 (Berlin, 1996), pp. 359-84; Gerhard Höpp, ″Der verdrängte Diskurs: Arabische Opfer des Nationalsozialismus,″ in G. Höpp, ed., Blind für die Geschichte: Arabische Begegnungen mit dem Nationalsozialismus (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 2004), p. 215-68, especially pp. 220-31.

30 In a memorandum to his superiors at the Auswärtiges Amt, dated 27 August 1940, a month after Oppenheim submitted his memorandum, Grobba reported that, in return for a public declaration by the Axis powers recognizing ″the right of all Arab countries to shape their national unity in accordance with their wishes,″ the Iraqi government was willing to sign a secret agreement with the governments of Germany and Italy, laying out the details of a ″friendly collaboration.″ The secret negotiations would be carried out in Ankara, at the German Embassy and the Iraqi Legation. (Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 [Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957], series D, vol. 10, pp. 556, 558, document 403). The German ambassador to Turkey from 1939 until 1944, was Franz von Papen, an old associate of Oppenheim′s and a supporter of his Jihad plan in 1914.

31 These had been broken off at the beginning of the War.

32 English translation (by Lionel Gossman) of the original German text of Oppenheim′s memorandum (see Appendix) reproduced in Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, ″Max von Oppenheim und der Heilige Krieg. Zwei Denkschriften zur Revolutionierung islamischer Gebiete 1914 und 1940,″ Sozial.Geschichte, 3 (2004): 55-59.

33 In fact, in late 1940, al-Sa′id himself began making overtures both to the Italians—even though by the terms of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 Iraq was required to move against them on their entering the war against Britain in June, 1940-and to the Mufti. However, as he was generally considered a ″traitor″ by the pro-Axis Iraqi nationalists, these belated attempts at collaboration were viewed with suspicion and came to nothing (Majid Khadduri, ″General Nun′s flirtations with the Axis Powers,″ Middle East Journal, 16 [1962]: 328-36).

34 Memorandum by an official of the Foreign Minister′s Secretariat consisting of a record of the conversation between the Führer and the Grand Mufti on 28 November 1941, in Dalin and Rothmann, Icon of Evil, Appendix, p. 159.

35 Before the Peel Commission on 12 January 1937, according to Dalin and Rothmann, al-Husseini reiterated his longstanding demand for the cessation of all Jewish immigration to Palestine ″and called for the removal of 80% of the Jews already in the country (four hundred thousand) to bring their total number back to the level that prevailed prior to World War I (eighty thousand)″ (Icon of Evil, pp. 33-34). Al-Husseini′s actual testimony before the Commission seems rather less specific and considerably more evasive. Nevertheless, his answers to questions from Earl Peel and from the vice-chairman, Sir Horace Rumbold, were so obviously evasive that they aroused the commissioners′ fears for the fate of the Jews in Palestine under an Arab government. Here is the relevant exchange as recorded in Palestine Royal Commission: Minutes of evidence heard at public sessions (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1937), 56th Meeting (Public) 12 January 1937, p. 298:
4643. Chairman [Earl Peel]: You want completely to stop Jewish immigration. If you are setting up a Government here, what do you want to do with the 400,000 Jews or more in the country at present?—They will live, as they always have lived in Arab countries, with complete freedom and liberty as natives in the country. In fact, Moslem rule in ancient history and the history of the Arabs has always been known for tolerance toward the Jews. As a matter of fact, the Eastern countries under Arab rule were shelters for Jews who used to emigrate there when persecuted in Europe. According to the annals of history the Jews have had their quietest and most peaceful times in Arab countries under Arab rule.
4644. His Eminence was complaining that now there are far too many Jews, that the Arabs including the Christians were now only 70 per cent, of the population whereas 14 years ago they were 93 per cent?—That is his complaint.
4645. At the same time, if the Arabs had this treaty they would be prepared to welcome the Jews already in the country?—That will be left to the discretion of the Government, which will be set up under the treaty and will be decided by that Government on the considerations most equitable and most beneficial to the country. [...]
4648. Sir Horace Rumbold: Does His Eminence think that this country can assimilate and digest the 400,000 Jews now in the country?—No.
4649. Chairman [Earl Peel]: Some of them would have to be removed by a process kindly or painful as the case may be?—We must leave all this to the future.

36 Quoted by Tillmann, Deutschlands Araberpolitik, p. 170, note 211. Tillmann considers this response ″ein glatter Affront.″ Melka agrees and attributes the brusqueness of the reply to the fact that, since Habicht, ″unlike Oppenheim′s other friends in the Foreign Office, was a Nazi Party member [since 1926] and member of the Nazi group in the Reichstag before 1933, [.] he was hardly likely to have much sympathy for an old Jewish aristocrat and his advice″ (″Max Freiherr von Oppenheim,″ Middle Eastern Studies, 9 [1973]: 81-93 [p. 86]). However, several months earlier, in an acrimonious dispute between the Auswärtiges Amt and the Aussenpolitisches Amt [foreign section] of the Nazi Party over German policy in Afghanistan, reflecting no doubt the standing rivalry between Rosenberg (head of the Aussenpolitisches Amt) and Ribbentrop (head, as Foreign Minister, of the Auswärtiges Amt) and involving von Hentig and Grobba, Ribbentrop′s man Habicht had sided—at a meeting ″to which, significantly, Dr. Grobba was not invited″— with von Hentig and against Grobba, who represented the position embraced by the Aussenpolitisches Amt. Grobba′s view had been that Germany should pursue a policy of co-operation with the current Afghan government, since the country, he claimed, had been deeply penetrated by Germany economically, culturally, and militarily, while von Hentig had argued—somewhat uncharacteristically, since he was not usually inclined to support adventurism—that the current Afghan government was, to the contrary, ″subservient to England″ and should therefore be removed by fomenting an insurrection and restoring Amanullah Khan, King of Afghanistan from 1919 until 1929 and leader of a surprise attack against British India in 1919, to the throne. The NSDAP′s Aussenpolitisches Amt was extremely dismissive of Hentig′s ″sabotaging attitude.″ (″It is known that he has lacked any understanding of Germany′s successful penetration [of Afghanistan] during recent years″; he ″had until recently been claiming for years that Afghanistan was of no political interest to Germany″; and in any case the planned insurrection has been so ″superficially″ prepared that even Afghan supporters of Amanullah residing in Germany ″have stated that improvised insurrections would never be successful″ and would lead only to civil war. (See Documents on German Foreign Policy [Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1954], vol. 8, pp. 527-29, 550-55, documents 449, [12 December 1939] and 470 [18 December 1939].) It is possible that Oppenheim sealed the fate of his memorandum to Habicht by attributing a key role in his proposal to Grobba.

37 Mufti-Papiere. Briefe, Memoranden, Reden und Aufrufe Amin al-Husainis aus dem Exil, 1940­1945, ed. Gerhard Höpp (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 2001), documents 1 and 2 (letters from al-Husseini to von Papen, 21 June 1940 and 22 July 1940), pp. 15-16.

38 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957), vol. 10, pp. 141^3, document 125, report by von Papen, Therapia, 6 July 1940.

39 This document was not found by the editors of the Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945.

40 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957), vol. 10, p. 261, document 200, memorandum by the Director of the Political Department, Berlin, 21 July 1940.

41 Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957), vol. 10, p. 515, document 370, Circular of the Foreign Ministry, 20 August 1940.

42 Documents on German Foreign Policy, vol. 10, pp. 556-60, document dated Berlin, 27 August 1940, consisting of a letter from Grobba, and an enclosure with the text of the joint German and Italian declaration, as proposed by the Arab committee.

43 Documents on German Foreign Policy (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960), vol. 11, p. 220, document 127.

44 Ibid., p. 228, document 133, 30 September 1940. Weizsäcker came up a few days later with yet another modification which was intended to adapt the statement ″to the oriental mentality [...] without conceding anything of substance.″ The Secretary of State emphasized that ″the statement is to be made to the private secretary of the Grand Mufti here orally.″ It was then to be ″broadcast over the German radio in the Arabic language.″ Clearly, there was to be nothing in writing (ibid., pp. 268-69, document 160, 6 October).

45 Ibid, p. 229, document 134, 30 September 1940.

46 Ibid, pp. 241-43, document 146, 3 October 1940.

47 See, for instance, Marion Thielenhaus, Zwischen Anpassung und Widerstand: Deutsche Diplomaten 1938-1941 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöning, 1984); the more nuanced assessment in Hans-Jürgen Döscher, Das Auswärtige Amt im Dritten Reich. Diplomatie im Schatten der ′Endlösung′ (Berlin: Wolf Jobst Siedler, 1987), pp. 181-91; and the first­hand testimony of Wipert von Blücher, Ambassador to Iran (1931-1935) and to Finland (1935-1944) in his Gesandter zwischen Diktatur und Demokratie: Erinnerungen aus den Jahren 1935-1944 (Wiesbaden: Limes Verlag, 1951), pp. 117-18. Wolfgang G. Schwanitz (″′Der Geist aus der Lampe′: Fritz Grobba und Berlins Politik im Nahen und Mittleren Orient,″ Comparativ, 14 [2004]: 126-50), places Grobba in the first group, Hentig, along with Prüfer, in the second, more circumspect one (pp. 135-36). According to Schwanitz, the first group favored destroying British power in the Middle East ″durch die Inszenierung von /ihad-Aufruhen″ [by setting-up /ihad-uprisings] whereas the opposite side was against making the Middle East a major theatre of war. Still, though there was no love lost between Grobba and Hentig, and Hentig generally followed the more cautious line of the long-established diplomats at the Auswärtiges Amt, both were opposed to the policy of deference to Italy and in favour of a more active German presence in the Middle East. Both also had a close connection with Oppenheim, as did Prüfer.

48 See Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Gold, Bankiers und Diplomaten. Zur Geschichte der Deutschen Orientbank 1906-1946 (Berlin: Trafo-Verlag, 2002), pp. 321-22.

49 According, at least, to a highly fictionalized and often inaccurate biography of Von Papen by Tibor Koeves (Satan in Top Hat: The Biography of Franz von Papen [New York: Alliance Book Corporation, 1941], pp, 333-5). Even if the group did not exist as described by Koeves, there was a good deal of co-operation among its alleged members. On Von Papen′s central role in Nazi Middle East policy, see Karl Heinz Roth, ″Berlin-Ankara-Baghdad: Franz von Papen and German Middle East Policy during the Second World War,″ in Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, ed., Germany and the Middle East 1871-1945 (Madrid: Iberoamericana; Frankfurt a.M.: Vervuert, 2004), pp. 181-214.

50 Werner Otto von Hentig, Mein Leben. Eine Dienstreise, p. 335.

51 Ibid., p. 342. Grobba later asserted that Hentig opposed an active, interventionist German policy in the Middle East—a policy Grobba was convinced would bring Britain to its knees by destabilising the whole region and cutting British lines of communication with India—because, as an old school diplomat, he was opposed to Hitler; see Grobba′s 82-page review, written in 1957, of a 208-page report by Generals Felmy and Warlimont on Germany′s exploitation of Arab nationalist movements in World War II, drawn up in 1955 for the Historical Division of the U.S. Army in Europe (U.S. National Achives 2, RG338, FMS, P-207ArchII, RG 338, FMS, P-207), cit. in Wolfgang Schwanitz, ″The Jinnee and the Magic Bottle: Fritz Grobba and the German Middle Eastern Policy 1900-1945,″ in Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, ed., Germany and the Middle East 1871-1945, pp. 87-117. While Hentig might well have been circumspect and no blind devotee of Hitler, however, it is unlikely to have been out of opposition to Hitler that he allegedly did not support the adventurous policy in the Middle East advocated by Grobba, as the latter argued (p. 110). Hitler himself was opposed to deep involvement in Middle Eastern affairs, and and if, as Grobba claims, Hentig was less supportive of an aggressive Middle East policy than Grobba, that is quite likely to have been because he had learned from his experience in Afghanistan in the First World War not to expect too much from intervention in the Middle East.

52 Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), p. 101. Relying on the same sources as Mattar, Hirszowicz notes meetings of Haddad with Grobba, Melchers, and Weizsäcker, but says nothing of a meeting with Ribbentrop (The Third Reich and the Arab East, p. 82).

53 Major-General I.S.O. Playfair, The Mediterranean and Middle East, vol. 2 (London: Her Majesty′s Stationary Office, 1956), p. 193.

54 Cited in Isaac Lipschits, La Politique de la France au Levant 1939-1941 (Paris: A. Pedone; Amsterdam: Systèmes Keesing, 1963), p. 86. On 6 December 1940, Dentz replaced Puaux, who had been trying to play both sides of the fence, maintaining relations with the British while defending Pétain as ″le gardien de l′unité de la patrie″ (ibid., pp. 68-76). According to Lipschits, Dentz ″was in every respect a supporter of Marshall Pétain. In his view, the Gaullists were dissidents, while the British were the executors of ′democratico-Masonic politics′ and the representatives of ′judeo-saxon finance′″ [″fut sous tous les rapports un partisan du Maréchal Pétain. Pour lui, les gaullistes étaient des dissidents et les Britanniques les exécuteurs de ′la politique démocratico-maçonnique′ et les représentants de la ′finance judéo-saxonne′″] (p. 171).

55 Documents on German Foreign Policy, (Washington, D.C., 1960), vol. 11, pp. 826-29, document 481, ″Brief for the Conference in the Office of the State Secretary on December 9, 1940.″),.

56 His instructions, as drawn up by Melchers, communicated to him in Ankara where he had been waiting for several weeks for a travel permit from the French, and signed by Weizsäcker, stipulated ″Your trip is purely of an informational nature.″ Its purpose was, first, ″to report on the political and military situation in Syria and, as far as possible, the neighboring areas. Does England constitute a serious threat to Syria by way of Palestine? Are the resources of France adequate for defense? What progress is being made by the de Gaulle movement? What are the methods by which English propaganda is operating and what success does it have?″ Second, ″to gather relevant data for our policy toward the Arab states,″ and third, ″to observe Germany′s own interests of an economic and cultural nature and to report on them.″ He was instructed, finally, ″to avoid anything that might be construed as approval or support of any tendencies directed against the French government″ (Documents on German Foreign Policy, vol. 11, pp. 1053-54, document 626 [dated Berlin, 8 January 1941]).

57 Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstriese, p. 337.

58 Ibidem, p. 336.

59 Cit. Lipschits, La Politique de la France au Levant 1939-1941, p. 83.

60 ″Three Reich Plotters Try to Win Syria. Following Gains in Iraq, Nazis seek support for Hitler as ′Protector of Islam′.″ The general drift of the report was correct: Oppenheim was actively involved in the preparations of Hentig′s mission, while Grobba′s activities were centred in Iraq. All three men were indeed behind a broad plan to stir up the Arabs and tie up large numbers of British troops in the Middle East.

61 Major-General I.S.O. Playfair, The Mediterranean and the Middle East, vol. 2, pp. 193-94.

62 Charles de Gaulle, Lettres, notes et carnets (Paris: Plon, 1981), vol. 3: June 1940-July 1941, pp. 256-57.

63 Les Allemands en Syrie sous le gouvernement de Vichy (London: Publications de la France combattante, brochure no. 201, 1942), pp. 5-6. The Futuwwah movement advocated by Hentig was a pan-Arab, fascist youth movement organized on the model of the Hitler Jugend and officially instituted in Iraqi schools in 1939 by Sami Shawkat, the Iraqi Minister of Education and brother of Naji Shawkat (see Reeva S. Simon, Iraq Between the Two Wold Wars, pp. 110-14).

64 Lipschits, La Politique de la France au Levant 1939-1941, pp. 83-84. See also on Hentig′s mission to Syria and Lebanon, Chantal Metzger, L′Empire colonial français dans la stratégie du Troisième Reich (1936-1945), vol. 1, pp. 338-45. According to Metzger, when he stopped off on his way to Syria at Ankara, Hentig already established contact with a disaffected, pro-German, anti-British French official, the Corsican Columbani, who had been chief of police in Syria and whose close contacts with Syrian nationalists had led to his being recalled to Paris. Columbani, who was also a confidant of Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, supplied Hentig with information about French troop numbers and strengths, military supplies, etc. (pp. 339-41).

65 See Oppenheim′s letter to Hentig, accompanying the letters and cards of introduction and containing a list of the names, together with ″notes on the persons to whom I have given you introductions″ in Robert L. Melka, ″Max Freiherr von Oppenheim: Sixty Years of Scholarship and Political Intrigue in the Middle East,″ Middle Eastern Studies, 9 (1973): 81-93 (pp. 90-92). See also Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstreise, p. 341. In return for this service, Melka relates, Oppenheim asked Hentig to intervene with the French authorities in order to ensure continuation of his excavation concession at Tell Fakhariya, which the French had transferred to an American team from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

66 Hentig, Mein Leben: Eine Dienstreise, pp. 338-40. The ″the superior-looking young officer type″ referred to by Hentig was Naftali Lubenchik, representing the Lehi group of Revisionist Zionists led by Avraham Stern (usually referred to as the ″Stern Gang″). In December 1940 or January 1941, Lubenchik was sent by Stern (who had already tried to negotiate a deal with the Italian Fascists) to Beirut to meet with Hentig and offer to ″actively take part in the war on Germany′s side″ in return for German support for ″the establishment of the historic Jewish state [i.e. on both banks of the Jordan] on a national and totalitarian basis″ (Joseph Heller, The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror, 1940-49 [London: Frank Cass Publishers, 1995], pp. 78-79, 85-87; Colin Shindler, The Land beyond Promise: Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream [London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2002], pp. 22-27). Despite the rebuff received by Lubenchik, Stern renewed his overture to the Germans in December 1941, with even less success (Heller, pp. 90-91).

67 On the Madagascar project, see Christopher R. Browning, The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office: a study of Referat D III of Abteilung Deutschland, 1940-43 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1978), pp. 34-45. According to Francis Nicosia, Hentig had been in favor of the ha′avara Agreement (on ha′avara, see note 17 above) and of the emigration of German Jews to Palestine prior to the outbreak of war and had at that time, in order not to alienate the British, opposed supplying arms to Arab insurgents in the Palestine Mandate. ″He supported a policy of concentrating Jews in Palestine and their autonomy in a Palestinian state with an Arab majority, as Germany′s response to the recommendations of the Peel Commission″ (F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 132-33, 181). At the same time, however, Hentig had also made various suggestions for countering Zionist efforts to establish an independent Jewish state in Palestine (p. 124). By 1941, he may well have come around to supporting the Madagascar solution of the ″Jewish problem.″ On Hentig′s support of the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland, see Carsten Teichert, Chasak! Zionismus im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland 1933-1938 (Cologne: ELEN Verlag, 2000), pp. 215, 248, 383, 472.

68 Von Papen reports to Weizsäcker that, according to the Secretary General at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Numan Menemencioglu, Turkey is fearful of both warring powers and ″has no use for either a total English or a total German victory.″ While expressing his ″excitement″ at the ″fabulous successes″ of the German army in Yugoslavia, von Papen also notes darkly that ″the excitement here is even greater because many people believe it will now be Turkey′s turn″ (Documents of German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 12, pp. 491-93, document 295). That this fear was not unfounded is suggested by a directive of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht of 30 June 1941, announcing ″continuation of the struggle against the British position in the Mediterranean and the Near East by means of a concentric attack which is to be launched from Libya through Egypt, from Bulgaria through Turkey, and possibly from Transcaucasia through Iran. [...] For this purpose provision should be made for concentrating in Bulgaria as soon as possible forces strong enough to make Turkey politically compliant or to break her resistance by force of arms″ (ibid., document 617, pp. 1012-13, note 3). The British invasion of Syria in June 1941 was undertaken largely to prevent Germany from establishing the power-base there that Oppenheim and von Hentig advocated, since that would have isolated Turkey and brought such pressure to bear on her, that she might have been forced to permit the transit of German war material, thus endangering not only Palestine, but Egypt and Iraq, which had only recently been wrested back from the pro-Axis al-Gailani (see Kolinsky, Britain′s War in the Middle East, pp. 166-69).

69 Documents on German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 12, pp. 234-43, document 133.

70 This memorandum, referred to by Melka, Middle Eastern Studies, 9 (1973): 81-93, is preserved in the Records of the German Foreign Office Received by the Department of State, Microcopy T-120, Roll 735, ″Reise Syrien 1940-41, Allgem. Schriftwechsel, Ausgrabungen Oppenheim, Roser, Lageberichte—W.O von Hentig, frames 351092, 351096-8.″

71 Robert L. Melka, ″Max Freiherr von Oppenheim: Sixty Years of Scholarship and Political Intrigue in the Middle East,″ p. 88.

72 Documents on German Foreign Policy, vol. 12, pp. 561-62, 742-43, documents 352 (15 April 1941) and 476 (8 May 1941). On Rahn′s activities in Syria and later in the French North African colonies, see Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, pp. 161-64, 184-88, 270-71, 288-89.

73 Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East, p. 162. With the old Directorate still in power in Vichy-ruled Syria and no reform in sight, the nationalists organized a general strike in March 1941. This sparked off many demonstrations and much violence. ″Arrests are in their hundreds,″ the long-time nationalist leader Shukri Al-Quwatli (later President of Syria) wrote in a letter dated 2 April 1941, ″and the number of people searched for in their homes, causing them to flee, is over five hundred. [...] There is much oppression, and injustice knows no bounds. Despite all this the nation is standing firm. [...] The Senegalese [French troops] are everywhere. The strike is general. The army and the tanks are in the streets. Yesterday there were casualties. All the Syrian towns are on strike″ (cit. Salma Mardam Bey, Syria′s Quest for Independence 1939-1945 [Reading, England: Ithaca Press, 1994], p. 30).

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