When it comes to political correctness, History often becomes a lawbreaker...
There are scores of historical events that contradict the bucolic laboratory narration deemed, well, correct...they are befittingly condemned to silence and obliviousness.
That is very true for the evolution of Islam through History since its inception 14 centuries ago. Unhappily, Western journalists usually don't know much beyond a couple of platitudes about the de-colonization process or the contradictions with Kemalism and Nasserism... Yet there is much more…
It is amazing, how little we know about Islamic history, even as recent as the Islamic participation in World War II, particularly of the Muslims from the former Soviet Union. Very few people, beyond a hard core of specialists, are familiar with the attitudes of Islam’s traditional notables and religious leaders towards the Nazi regime.
Now, the jihadists of today have declared war on the “Crussaders and the Jews” and we are confronted everyday to suicide bombers, children being coldly murdered and the whole gallery of extreme cruelty of their war against democracy. Have they materialized from historical nothingness? Hardly. It is high time to look at some antecedents.
During WWII, about 2,000,000 non-German volunteers fought along with the Nazi armies. Of them, 1,600,000 were from the former Soviet Union; a sizable majority were Muslims. There was for example the 162nd Turkoman Infantry Division, composed of Turkomans and Azerbaijanis, the Caucasian-Mohammedan Legion, made up of Azerbaijanis, Daghestans, Ingushes, Lezghins, and Chechens. The Turkestani Legion had volunteers from the following nationalities: Turkomans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Karakalpaks, and Tadjiks.
To give a quantitative frame to understand the avalanche of Islamic volunteers to the nazi armies, the Caucasian-Mohammedan Legion is a good example. It had 102,300 men ("Soviet Opposition to Stalin," p.51) at a time when the total population of the Northern Caucasus may have been just above 6,5 M. And they all were volunteers, who chose to fight with the Germans driven by the religious leadership in the region. Almost from the first days of the nazi regime there had ben continuous contacts between Berlin and the Muslim leaders, first and foremost, in Palestine, Iraq and Turkey.
A relentless agitation had been beamed from the Mosques, inspired by a pivotal man, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the most prominent figure of inter-War Palestine. Besides his pan-Arab tendencies, he hated the Jews as bearers of modern European way of life, which confronted to the concepts of Islam as he saw them. In 1933 the Mufti took contact with Nazi Germany and said he looked forward to spreading their ideology in the Middle East, especially in Palestine. He secretly met with German diplomats, and later that year, the Mufti's assistants approached Wolff, the Nazi General-Consul in the area, seeking his help in establishing a National Socialist Arab party in Palestine. But the German refused, since they didn't want at the time to get involved in the British sphere of influence and, besides, membership of the Nazi party was restricted to German speaking "Aryans" only. But they started helping the Mufti with large sums of money and weapons for his anti-Jewish armed groups. Soon, under the influence of the Mufti, Palestinians were to see the Nazis as their only real friend in Europe. In 1937, during the celebration of Mohammad's birth, the Nazi swastika flag was flying high in Jerusalem over giant pictures of Hitler.
In September 1937 the infamous Adolf Eichmann and another young SS officer, were sent to Palestine to organize the pro-Nazi movement. In 1938 the Mufti was already on the payroll of Abwehr II, the German counterintelligence. The Mufti's organization had become massive. He then moved to Iraq, where he was accepted as an Arab and Islamic hero, and he established his headquarters in Baghdad from where he continued his activities through a web of clendestine cells and private "charity" organizations.
He succeeded in establishing a group of pro-Axis officials led by General Rashid Ali, who in 1941 ousted the pro-British Iraqi Prime MinisterNuri Said Pasha. In May he declared jihad against Britain, "the greatest foe of Islam".
However, in a few months the British managed to crush the uprising and the Mufti had fly; this time he went to Germany. On November 21, 1941 he had a meeting with Hitler in Berlin. Hitler accepted that, once the Nazi troops would reach South of the Caucasus, he would help the Mufti to exterminate all the Jews in the Middle East and establish a unified pan-Arab state.
The Mufti's part of the arrangement was to raise support for the Nazis among the Muslims in the Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Middle East. The Germans founded the "Arab Bureau", under his leadership, in Berlin. He was in charge of supervising Axis propaganda to Muslims all over the world.
His first achievement was the recruitment of tens of thousands of the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania to the Waffen SS Handschar Division. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Eastern Legions, the so-called "Ostlegionen" which contained only volunteers from the non-Russian nationalities. On December 30th, 1941 a top secret memorandum ordered the Supreme Nazi Command to create, first the Turkestani Legion and second, the Caucasian-Mohammedan Legion. The Crimean Tartar were not only gladly collaborating with the Germans, but also supplying the Wehrmacht with 20,000 soldiers.
Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler was the most willing promoter and collaborator of Islam among the Nazi leadership. He hated the 'soft' Christianity and liked Islam, which he saw as a masculine, martial religion based on the SS qualities of blind obedience and readiness for self-sacrifice, uncontaminated by compassion for one's enemies.
Throughout the war, the Nazi Islamic units were used as auxiliary troops of the Waffen-SS, particularly to help the Germans to fight the partisan in the Eastern front and then in Italy and the Balkans where they later participated in massacring tens of thousands of partisan Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. In Ukraine, to instill more terror among the population, the Caucasian hanged supposed partisans from the balconies and prohibited the removal of the corpses.
The Mufti found in Berlin a twin soul and admirer in Veli Kayum Khan, head of the Turkestani "government in exile", and convinced the Nazi bosses to fund a Turkestani National Committee to agitate in the name of the independence of Turkestan and to be in charge of the political and national leadership of Turkestani volunteers. With the aid of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the SS-FHA, Kayum Khan, sat up schools at Dresden and Götingen to train religious imams for the Muslim military units in the Waffen SS and the Wehrmacht. They were supported by some Muslim leaders from the Caucasus, like Alibegow, Khedia, Kantimer, Mischa, and Tschamalja. A speciphic unit consisting of Muslim Tartars, the Wolgatatarische Legion, was formed in Poland on January 1942.
In 1943, the Turkestanis had 15 battalions and one year later grew-up to 26 battalions. Those battalions were usually integrated as independent battalions within German divisions, in charge of punishing rebellious civilian populations… On 14 December 1943, another meeting was held in presided by the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husseini. He approved the plan to raise a Turkic-Muslim SS division and give his "spiritual leadership" to influence the Muslim volunteers. To lead the new unit Himmler decided to appoint SS-Standartenführer Harun-el-Raschid-Bey, an Austrian Nazi officer who converts to Islam.
The Osttürkischen Waffen-Verbände der SS was formed on January 1944 and was to be expanded into a division, Muselmanischen SS-Division Neu-Turkestan. The unit was formed in Trawniki, Poland. When the SS tried to quell the Warsaw Uprising, the unit was attached to the notorious SS Dirlewanger Brigade, and participated in the brutal repression that killed 200,000 Polish civilians.
When the mass of Soviet Muslims collaborators followed the retreating German armies to avoid the reprisals that awaited them from the Russians, they tried to surrender to the Western Allies but were sent back to Russia. Many of them were executed, others lost in the Gulags. Stalin ordered massive deportations to the east of some of Soviet Muslim nationalities that had fraternized with the Nazis - like the Chechens, Balkars, Ingushi, Karachais, and Crimean Tartars.