Hitler’s Muslim legions: more BBC revisionism

The Mufti of Jerusalem inspects a unit of the Handschar (Scimitar) division

If, like me, you missed the BBC Radio 4 programme Hitler’s Muslim Legions, despair not – some kind soul has uploaded it on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2 andPart 3).

However, the programme turns out to be another BBC whitewash and revisionist attempt to downplay the Arab-Nazi alliance. Although the BBC assembled the requisite experts on this subject – Norman Stone, a professor of Soviet history, Jonathan Trigg, the author of Hitler’s Jihadis, Matthias Kuntzel, a German authority on the Nazi roots of Muslim antisemitism, the programme gives a platform to the disingenuous professor Gilbert Achcar whose mission in life seems to be to downplaythe Arabs’ Nazi connection and the role of the Mufti of Jerusalem.

To believe the BBC, you would think that the Nazis hastily recruited Muslims during the war because they had run out of genuine Aryans. The truth is that Arabs and Muslims ceased to be viewed as inferiors back in the 1930s. Achcar misleads by inferring that Hitler made an exception of the Mufti and agreed to meet him because ‘he didn’t look Semitic’ with his red hair and blue eyes.

The programme gives the impression that Muslims only joined the Nazis for opportunistic reasons (‘starve or join’). It misleadingly lumps together Muslim deserters from the Soviet army with elite SS divisions in the Balkans. According to the Muslim expert Taj Hargey, the Bosnian Muslims only wanted to get their own back on the Serbs and the Croats. They were struggling to survive, and find ‘their place in the sun.’ ….So that’s alright then.

The programme portrays the Muslim recruits as homesick and ready to desert to the Allies at the drop of a helmet. The Scimitar (Handschar) division committed atrocities, but these were ‘no worse than any others’. We are not told how these troops burned Serb churches and slaughtered 90 percent of Bosnian Jews*, nor are we given examples of their unspeakable cruelty.

Achcar says that the Mufti was only a figurehead, an (ineffectual) intellectual. The Mufti’s long record of anti-Jewish murder and incitement, not just in Palestine but across the Arab world, is barely alluded to. The Mufti personally recruited not just the Waffen SS Scimitar division but the Albanian Skanderberg Division, and sent tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths, egging on the Nazis themselves in their genocidal project. The only person to allude to the Mufti’s fundamental role in spreading an enduring legacy of antisemitism in the Arab world is Matthias Kuntzel, but his voice is rather drowned out.

Achcar is allowed to get away with the lie that the Mufti was ‘discredited’ amongst Arabs and Palestinians for being ‘associated with defeat’. Yet Yasser Arafat was quoted as recently as 2002 saying that the Mufti, his mentor and model, was his ‘hero’. When Palestinian police first greeted Arafat in the self-rule areas, they offered the infamous Nazi salute – the right arm raised straight and upward. Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf is a bestseller not just in Palestine, but across the Arab world.

But the BBC is embarrassedat the mere juxtaposition of ‘Hitler’ and ‘Muslims’, and even more anxious to deny any association between the Nazis and the Palestinians, the ‘darlings’ of the Left. “Circumstances, not ideology, brought Muslims and Nazis together,” the programme demurs, and millions of listeners, who do not know any better, will concur.

Hezbollah members give the Nazi salute

Further reading:

Antonio J Muñoz, Lions of the Desert: Arab Volunteers in the German Army
Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World
Matthias Kuntzel, Jihad and Jew-hatred
Jonathan Trigg, Hitler’s Jihadis: Muslim Volunteers of the SS (Hitler’s Legions)
Martin Sugarman, Fighting back
James Holland, Italy’s sorrow

*Bosnian Muslims collaborated with Croats in the deaths of Jews. The figure is over 80 percent – assuming that 65,000 Yugoslav Jews died in the Holocaust out of a pre-war population of 81,000. See comments below.


  • "The Handschar and Skanderbeg were Muslim SS divisions, by definition not simple soldiers but units dedicated to crimes of war."

    Once again no. They were raised as Gebirgsjager divisions, though the 21st never actually grew beyond regimental strength. The Bosnian SS Mountain Corps had one task and that was the expulsion of partisans out of eastern Bosnia and the protection of NE Bosnia and Srem. It's later assignments were to keep the railheads open for the German retreat out of Greece.
    Following it's withdrawal out of Bosnia, the division was engaged south of the Lake Balaton against the Bulgarian and Russian armies.

    "The Handschar Bosnian Muslim SS division does not deserve your sympathy. The main propaganda in the 1990s was in defense of the Bosnian Muslims, undeserved defense."

    Really? Were you a defenseless civilian in a bomb shelter for 4 years to know this from experience or is it just your own butthurt opinion.
    Handschar was strategic in alleviating the pressure on the 9th genocide of the Bosnian people that was at it's peak in 1943. It fell completly by spring 1944.

  • "Philo, of course the Handschar and the Skanderbeg SS units took part in mass murder".

    No they weren't By august 1944, the 13th SS Division was nearing exhaustion due to continous anti partisan operations. They also didnt participate in any massacres of Serbs. The unit's German leadership was advised to foster a good willed alliance between the Cetniks in the Majevicas. This did actually happen. What also happened is the Cetniks trailing the division's units since the big battle against the 16th Vojvodina partisan div at Lopare. The Cetniks were later seen at Sekovici after which allegations of executions of partisan POWs and the raping of partisan nurses arose.
    The 13th, 23rd as well as the 21st Skanderbeg were bogged down in hunting down partisans. They didnt have time or the resources to look for jews in Bosnia. Long story short, in northeastern Bosnia where Handschar operated, there were no jews to be found…ever. It was a Muslim and Orthodox part of the country.

    "But as far as I know, the Jews were mainly sent to the Jasenovac Camp where most were killed."

    Which ones? from where? what village?
    Handschar captured 2-3,000 combatants that it turned over to the German stalags in Bosnia. I have yet to come across a single instance in which a large group of jews was rounded up.
    Handschar wasnt even associated with the Croatian govt, since even Pavelic and the Ustasa were on bad terms with it and the German officials in NDH. They wanted no part in each other's business.

    Keep dreaming up these fantasies.

  • Philo, of course the Handschar and the Skanderbeg SS units took part in mass murder. But as far as I know, the Jews were mainly sent to the Jasenovac Camp where most were killed.

    As to Haj Amin el-Husseini "convincing" Hitler to choose extermination instead of emigration of Jews, I don't think that Hitler needed convincing. Husseini of course did participate in the Holocaust, urging Germany and the satellite states not to let any Jews leave the Nazi-fascist domain.

  • "The Handzar division didn't slaughter 90% of Bosnia's Jews."

    The Handschar and Skanderbeg were Muslim SS divisions, by definition not simple soldiers but units dedicated to crimes of war.

    Both units were at the centre of the Nazi campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Balkan pensinsula, including deporting the unfortunate Jewish communities of greater Albania and greater Bulgaria – thousands of innocents.

    Further, the leader of Hitler's Muslims, Haj Amin, was instrumental both in
    – convincing Hitler to choose elimination rather than emigration as the "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem
    – forming the Einsatzgruppe Aegypt which was to eliminate Mideast Jews.

  • Other lie from Achcar is when he has a full 2 pages on Fawzi al-Qawuqji he forgets to mention that the guy was also a guest of Adolf Hitler and called on the nazi radio to kill jews. In fact there were several Arabs from the area cooperating with the nazi's. When the Mufti fled from Germany, he did so with several members of his family that were there with him.

    Another tactic of Achcar in his book is to mention as much as potential political arab groups possible, he would have even used sportclubs if needed and some of the groups used in his book are almost one-man groups, to give the impression that the pro-nazi options of the Arab and palestinian population was only a minority.

    Unfortunately, historians such as Kuentzel, Herf, Mallmann and Cuppers proof the contrary so as does the book of the nazi Winsch or Red Cross Jacques de Reynier.

    Also when the Mufti arrived in Cairo it was considered as a great event for the arab population of the Middle East.


  • Another usefull bookis this one

    "Le Régime anglais en Palestine" by Gert Winsch, Berlin 1939. It shows already the very narrow relation between nazi Germany and the arab population of Palestine.

    Some anecdotical about this book is the fact it was used at several occassions by marxists anti-Israel and even anti-jewish writers in Belgium, Lucas Catherine and Wim de Neuter (Oxfam) as a source. Unfortunately for them it was discovered and made public.


  • Achar must have been blind when reading Jacques de Reynier, "A Jérusalem un drapeau flottait sur la ligne de feu" page 30-32 (1950): "Chef spirituel reconnu non seulement en Palestine mais dans tout le Moyen-Orient…" "(The mufti) Spiritual leader recognized not only in Palestne but in the whole M-E…"

    "Il est le chef de tous ceux qui politiquement, mais surtout religieusement sont opposés au Sionisme" "He is the leader of all who politically but mainly religiuosly are opposed to Sionism"

    Also to be noted that de Reynier of the International Red Cross had to visit the Mufti in order to be able to operate normally in the region among the Arab population and be protected… So pretending the Mufti had no influence is one more of the 1001 lies of Gilbert Achcar.


  • Shema, the Handschar was an SS division. They were not soft-handed humanitarians. Who told you that they did NOT go after Jews?? I don't care even if the Holocaust Museum in DC says so. Look at their record in George Stein's [exact name?] book, The Waffen SS. They most certainly did kill Jews, as well as Serbs, Gypsies, and even some Croats, although they were officially considered Croats themselves and Bosnia had been annexed by the Croatian Ustashi state during the war.

    However, you are right on one point. As far as I know they didn't kill 90% of the Bosnian Jews. Most of the Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian Jews were killed, as far as I recall by the Croatian Ustashi with whom the Handschar closely collaborated, according to German orders.

    The Ustashi did their dirty work in the Jasenovac death camp. Imagine that. The Croatian Ustashi had their own death camp, just like their German patrons. It is estimated that 500,000 to 750,00 persons were murdered in the camp, the overwhelmingly majority of them Serbs –parenthetically, where do you get off with your "pro-Milosevic propaganda" claim??
    About 45,000 to 65,000 Jews were murdered there too, as I recall, plus 1000s of Roma [Gypsies].

    The Handschar Bosnian Muslim SS division does not deserve your sympathy. The main propaganda in the 1990s was in defense of the Bosnian Muslims, undeserved defense.

  • bataween
    overnight I remembered that I've in fact once read a novel in which Hussein and his Balkan shenanigans figured prominently

    I got me his book because I'd heard him in an hour long interview on Germn radio where he told that he felt sure that this book would become a movie.
    IMHO though it definitely is a page-turner it is neither high-brow nor airport – guessing I'd say it is a teaser for getting a movie going. As far as I can tell the history is accurate and he has some scenes in it which stayed with me as if I'd seen them in a movie. I don't know about the sex-inserts – I am past getting angered by the fashion and have accepted that these days they are a necessity if one wants to sell something. I remember though that nothing struck me as slimy in his attitude towards women – it would make a great movie

    here it is

    Harold Nebenzal seems to be Hollywood nobility in his own right plus being the son of a German between the wars Movie Tsar says imdb.com

    bataween I am serious about the help – I hope it goes without saying that it is free of charge or obligation or whatever – so whenever the language barrier should enhance your workload, just say so.


  • The Handzar division didn't slaughter 90% of Bosnia's Jews. That's mid-1990s pro-Milosovic propaganda that's been proved wrong – even the USHMM will tell you that they didn't participate in any round up of Jews in Bosnia!

  • I remembered having read about one book in German


    and while looking for that one amazon offered another one


    If you want me to try to find additional information on the books or whatever else let me know, but probably the authors are academics and thus know English well enough to correspond with you without an intermediary.


  • Antonio Munoz's works on the subject should be required reading.



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