In this compelling documentary, the life of SS officer Heinrich Himmler unfolds through film footage and the letters he wrote during the war..
Germany will stand firmly by the Arabs of Palestine in their fight against the "criminal" Balfour Declaration, was the main message conveyed in the telegram that was recently uncovered in the archives of Israel's National Library. The rare document, which the library assesses dates back to 1943, was written by infamous SS commander Heinrich Himmler and sent to Haj Amin al-Husseini, who served as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem between 1921 to 1937.
The Nazi commander, who was one of the main masterminds behind the 'Final Solution' (the Nazi regime's term for their plan to exterminate all of Europe's Jews), wrote to the Muslim leader that "the joint recognition of the enemy, and the joint battle against him are what creates the firm allegiance between Germany and freedom-seeking Muslims all over the world."
Himmler went on to tell the Mufti, who presided over the Palestinian territories during a particularly tumultuous period for the British Mandate ruling in the area, that his country was closely following the Palestinian resistance against the Balfour Declaration (the historic British document penned by Arthur James Balfour, the UK's Foreign Secretary at the time, which openly supported "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.")
"The National-Socialist movement of the great Germany has made its fight against world Jewry a guiding principle since its very beginning," Himmler wrote. "For that reason it [the movement] has been closely following the battle of freedom-seeking Arabs- and especially in Palestine- against the Jewish invaders," the Nazi leader added.
He finished his warm letter to the Mufti by writing: "In this spirit, I am happy to wish you on the first anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, warm wishes for the continuation of your battle until the big victory."
This newly revealed document sheds more light on the strong connections historians have affirmed before between the Mufti and the top hierarchy of the Nazi regime. In 1937, the British Mandate sought to arrest al-Husseini due to his involvement in the Arab uprising. The Mufti fled to Lebanon and from there to Iraq, where he joined a pro-Nazi group that rebelled against the Iraqi regime and carried out a military coup in April 1941. When the coup failed, al-Husseini escaped to Nazi Germany, arriving in Berlin in November 1941.
Upon witnessing Nazi Germany's streak of victories at the time, the Mufti decided that he had to gain the close support of Nazi Germany's leader Adolf Hitler. Al-Huseeini and the Fuhrer's 90-minutes-long meeting was especially cordial, with the Mufti presenting himself to Hitler not just as leader of the national Palestinian movement but also as the leader of all Arabs and the representative of Muslims worldwide, in an attempt to convince the Nazi leader of the natural allegiance he shared with Germany.
Newsreel footage of Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Western Wall in 1938 during the British Mandate period
However, historians have stressed in the 72 years that have lapsed since the Holocaust that Mufti al-Husseini's main objective in pushing for the meeting at the time was to ensure that European Jews would not flee in droves to Palestine as they tried to escape death at the hands of the Nazis.
Despite the firm bond that the Mufti succeeded to forge with the German leadership, many believe that he failed to achieve most of his diplomatic goals. Dr. Esther Webman, an historian from the Tel Aviv University, says that "at the end of the day, the Mufti failed in achieving the majority of his goals: Nazi Germany didn't declare its support of Arab independence and the Nazi leadership used him to realize its own goals."
"His attempt to incite Middle Eastern Arabs against the colonial authorities during WWII didn't succeed either," Dr. Webman added. "His only significant accomplishment was his success in preventing a number of cases of Jews leaving for Palestine during the war."
As most of the Nazi leadership was quick to eliminate all evidence of its participation in the horrors executed during World War II, any new documents written by high-ranking officials in the regime serve as a welcome insight into the depths of the dark and atrocious mechanisms of a regime that has left a tragic mark on world history.
As recently as August 2016, more documents written by Himmler were revealed. The Nazi leader's office diaries, which were believed to have been lost for 71 years, were found at the archives of the Russian military and contained gory descriptions of the Nazi leader's first-hand experiences during his visits to the extermination camps he oversaw and in which approximately six million Jews had perished.
While Israeli officials have yet to comment on the contents of the telegram that has recently emerged, many are looking forward to hear the reaction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sparked controversy in October 2015 when he claimed during a speech he made at the 37th World Zionist Congress that Hitler did not intend to exterminate all Jews, but rather to expel them. Netanyahu further claimed that the Fuhrer was inspired to massacre all of Europe's Jews only after he convened with Mufti al-Husseini, who, as aforementioned, was afraid to face a wave of Jewish immigration to Palestine.
It remains to be seen how this new and significant finding will impact the historic narrative regarding Jewish history and the Palestinian-German diplomatic maneuvers in the years prior to the establishment of the Jewish state.
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