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Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World

Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World
    Book Description:

    Jeffrey Herf, a leading scholar in the field, offers the most extensive examination to date of Nazi propaganda activities targeting Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East during World War II and the Holocaust. He draws extensively on previously unused and little-known archival resources, including the shocking transcriptions of the "Axis Broadcasts in Arabic" radio programs, which convey a strongly anti-Semitic message.

    Herf explores the intellectual, political, and cultural context in which German and European radical anti-Semitism was found to resonate with similar views rooted in a selective appropriation of the traditions of Islam. Pro-Nazi Arab exiles in wartime Berlin, including Haj el-Husseini and Rashid el-Kilani, collaborated with the Nazis in constructing their Middle East propaganda campaign. By integrating the political and military history of the war in the Middle East with the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the propagandistic diffusion of Nazi ideology, Herf offers the most thorough examination to date of this important chapter in the history of World War II. Importantly, he also shows how the anti-Semitism promoted by the Nazi propaganda effort contributed to the anti-Semitism exhibited by adherents of radical forms of Islam in the Middle East today.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15583-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. A Note on Terminology and Spelling
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book documents and interprets Nazi Germany’s propaganda efforts aimed at Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa. It pushes the history of Nazism beyond its customary Eurocentric limits and draws attention to the European dimensions of Arabic and Islamic radicalism of the mid-twentieth century. On shortwave radio and in printed items distributed in the millions, the Third Reich’s Arabic-language propaganda leapt over the seemingly insurmountable barriers created by its own ideology of Aryan racial superiority. From fall 1939 to March 1945, the Nazi regime broadcast shortwave Arabic programs to the Middle East and North Africa seven...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Defining Anti-Semitism: 1933–1939
    (pp. 15-35)

    Nazi ideology posed two seemingly insurmountable barriers to successful appeals to Arabs, as a national, regional, and ethnic group, and Muslims, as a religious grouping. First, Hitler had written that an Aryan master race existed at the pinnacle of a hierarchy of other, clearly inferior races. How, then, could the Nazis find allies and collaborators among non-European “races”? Second, the Nazis made anti-Semitism a core element of their program. For Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East, anti-Semitism could be interpreted as applying also to non-Jewish Semites, such as themselves. Before the Nazi regime could engage in a propaganda campaign...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Growing Contacts, First Broadcasts: 1939–1941
    (pp. 36-56)

    From the beginning of World War II, the Nazi message conveyed to the Arabs of North Africa and the Middle East, and to Muslims as a religious population more broadly, was a counterintuitive one. The Nazi regime was infamous around the world due, in part, to its loud and frequent assertions of the superiority of “the Aryan race.” Yet its early radio broadcasts asserted that the leaders of the Third Reich were well informed about Arab politics and the religion of Islam, supported Arab aspirations for an end to British and French influence, and had a deep respect for and...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Propaganda and Warfighting in North Africa and the Middle East in 1941
    (pp. 57-87)

    By early 1941, Hitler, a Eurocentric politician with dreams of world power, acknowledged the role that defeating Britain in North Africa and the Middle East could play in winning the war in Europe. The British, too, grasped the strategic significance of the region both for preservation of their imperial status as well as for the possibilities of winning the war. It was in this period that American officials also expanded their understanding of the role the Middle East would play in the outcome of the war in Europe. The Middle East meant access to oil, transit between the European and...

  10. CHAPTER 5 “Kill the Jews before They Kill You”: Propaganda during the Battles in North Africa in 1942
    (pp. 88-157)

    In winter and spring 1942, the Allies were losing the war. German submarines sank hundreds of merchant ships off the East Coast of the United States, underscoring how difficult it would be for the United States to decisively enter the war in Europe soon. On the Eastern Front, the German armies remained deep inside the Soviet Union and had the city of Leningrad under siege. Behind the lines, the SS Einsatzgruppen were murdering hundreds of thousands of Jews. On January 20, the Wannsee Conference was held to convey plans for the Final Solution. The extermination camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau (January), Belzec...

  11. CHAPTER 6 “The Jews Kindled This War in the Interest of Zionism”: Propaganda in 1943 as the Tide Turned against the Axis
    (pp. 158-193)

    The German surrender to Soviet forces in Stalingrad on February 2, 1943, after a horrific six-month-long battle, was a decisive turning point in the war in Europe. From then on, the Red Army and Air Force gradually seized the initiative and began to push the German armed forces into retreat. Defeat at Stalingrad ended Hitler’s hopes for an invasion of the Middle East from the north by way of the Caucasus. Rommel’s Panzerarmee in the North African theater was now Nazi Germany’s only hope of gaining a military victory in the Middle East. In response to the defeat at Stalingrad,...

  12. CHAPTER 7 “The Americans, the British, and the Jews Are All Conspiring against Arab Interests”: Propaganda from 1944 to Spring 1945
    (pp. 194-232)

    Although the military battles of World War II in North Africa had end in 1943, Nazi Arabic-language propaganda continued with unabated intensity. The Germans, as well as the Americans and British, knew that their attacks on Zionism were popular among a broad segment of the Middle Eastern public and that their explicit attacks on the Jews were finding a positive reception among a smaller audience that shared their radical anti-Semitism. Judging from the content of the last year and a half of their broadcasts, the Nazis also believed that their most fervent supporters in the Middle East were the Islamists,...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Postwar Aftereffects
    (pp. 233-260)

    On May 7, 1945, Haj Amin el-Husseini fled Germany and arrived in Bern, Switzerland. Swiss officials handed him over to the French, who housed him in a villa near Paris. The Mufti’s pro-Axis broadcasts in Arabic from Rome and Berlin were a matter of public record and, as we have seen, had been carefully monitored by American and British officials. Nevertheless the British government did not seek to extradite him or to place him on trial for war crimes. The British concluded that placing him and other pro-Nazi Arab exiles on trial would undermine efforts to gain support in the...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 261-266)

    Nazi Germany’s Arabic-language propaganda during World War II was the product of a remarkable political and ideological synthesis that took place in wartime Berlin. Beginning in 1939 and with even greater intensity after fall 1941, officials of the German dictatorship worked closely with pro-Nazi Arab exiles to produce leaflets that were distributed in the millions, and hundreds of thousands of hours of radio broadcasts. These materials displayed a synthesis of Nazism, Arab nationalism, and fundamentalist Islam. Just as National Socialism represented a radicalization of already existing and long-held anti-Semitic traditions in Europe, so the pro-Axis exiles in Berlin reinforced and...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 267-310)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-322)
  17. Index
    (pp. 323-335)