Would the real Yunis Bahri please stand up?

Known for his  regular anti-colonial and anti-Jewish broadcasts on Radio Berlin, Yunis Bahri is best known for his collaboration with the Nazis. He played an important part in inciting anti-Jewish  hatred in the Middle East. After the war he produced propaganda for Nasser’s regime in Egypt.  Constantly on the move, he was a man of many guises. He was reputed to have had 15 nationalities,  been married 100 times and fathered 100 children. His marriage to Dutch painter Julie van der Veen only lasted four months, but she kept in touch with him.  Hussein Aboubakr asks for a new perspective on this enigmatic figure, whose role has been minimised by bad scholarship.
Yunis Bahri: ‘the voice of the Arabs’
After the fall of the Third Reich, and according to his memoirs, he was able to escape only by forged papers and pretending that a childhood scar was from Nazi torture. He went to Paris to establish a newspaper calling for Arab nationalism and Arab unity.
According to Julie van der Veen’s  memoirs, “In the summer of ’48 I went back to Paris and I stayed in Hotel Belfort in the Rue Sophie Germain, a small room, but I did not mind, it was much worse that Yunis was in Paris as well. He had a newspaper, Al-Arab, for the Arab world, his office was at Rue Vivienne, in the second arrondissement. When he found out that I was in Paris, he wrote me. He wanted to meet me, we spoke in a cafe, I was very nervous of course. He told me about his new work and I asked how it ended in Berlin and then he told me that he was a spy to the English and that then I was not allowed to know that.”
There is little doubt his work for the English was a lie. In the 1950s, Bahri would go back to the Middle East and would be called in person by Nasser to go to Cairo. Not much is known about what he did there but the close similarity between the Nasser propaganda outlet “Voice of the Arabs” and the Voice of Berlin are suggestive. At the time, Voice of the Arabs was also employing Leopold von Mildenstein, Goebbels’s man for Arabic propaganda and whom Bahri undoubtedly knew from his time in Berlin.
Bahri would have many jobs and posts during his lifetimes, such as a Mufti in Indonesia and an Imam in European mosques. Bahri’s life of infatuation with European women, alcoholism, Nazism, Arab nationalism, socialism, and Islamic piety sheds very important light on a history that is badly distorted by bad scholarship.
What was Bahri? Was he an Arab Nationalist? Was he a Nazi? Was he an Islamist? Was he just a charlatan? What happened to all this Arab Nazism? Did it just disappear? Or did it turn into anti-imperialism, decolonization, and resistance? If Nazism in the Middle East can transform into social justice? Could this happen elsewhere as well? Some good questions for you to think about because we really need a new perspective right now.
The arrow points to Yunis Bahri, seen here in Berlin with the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini and Rashid Ali, ex-prime minister of Iraq


  • Hello Herman, thank you for your comment. The post was not mine but an extract from an article by Hussein Abubakr Mansour. I have put in a link to his article on Twitter. and one to your website about Julie.

  • Hello,
    I am the author of the website Julie van der Veen in which a short version of her biography from which you copied a passage for your article on Yunis Bahri.
    I intend to further develop my story about Julie van de Veen on the basis of her extensive letter correspondence, including that with Yunis Bahri. From those letters it is clear what an upstart this man was, the best caricature for him may be adventurer and opportunist, but in Julie’s correspondence he comes across more as a cheater, liar and bad lover. In his letters it is clearly visible how he bemoans his “grievances” to win pity, love and sustenance from a beautiful and then wealthy woman at times that suit him.
    This man does not deserve admiration, rather rejection. If I can help you clarify this within your circle of readers, I’d be happy to provide you with more information.
    Kind regards,


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