When Baghdad burned

Against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the June 1941 Farhud Massacre was perpetrated upon the unprepared Iraqi Jews – as the British stood by and did nothing.

June 1, 2015 13:04
Monuments in Israel

The 'Prayer' monument in Ramat Gan, in memory of the Jews who were killed in the ‘Farhud’ Pogrom in Iraq.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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In an Arabic dialect, the word for “violent dispossession” is farhud. For decades after it occurred, many thought the nightmare was a sudden and unexpected convulsion that afflicted the Iraqi-Jewish community, which had lived in that land for some 2,600 years. But in truth, the wild rape and killing spree of June 1-2, 1941, the Farhud Massacre, was not unexpected.

For years, the Jew hatred, anti-British rage and Nazi agitation seethed just below the surface, like a smoking volcano waiting to erupt. Soon after Hitler took power in 1933, Germany’s chargé d’affaires in Baghdad, German-Arab specialist Fritz Grobba, acquired Christian Iraqi newspaper Al-Alem Al Arabi, converting it into a Nazi organ that published an Arabic translation of the Führer’s Mein Kampf in installments. Radio Berlin then began beaming Arabic programs across the Middle East. The Nazi ideology of Jewish conspiracy and international manipulation was widely adopted in Iraqi society, especially within the framework of the Palestine problem that dominated Iraqi politics.


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