What Really Happened When the Mufti Met Hitler

Benjamin Netanyahu caused a storm this week when he claimed that the Mufti of Jerusalem gave Hitler the idea for the Final Solution in 1941. Here’s what the official documentation reveals.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Al-Husseini greeting Bosnian Waffen-SS volunteers with a Nazi salute, November 1943.
Al-Husseini greeting Bosnian Waffen-SS volunteers with a Nazi salute, November 1943.Credit: The German Federal Archive
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

The meeting between Adolf Hitler and the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, took place in Berlin on November 28, 1941, from 4:30-5:45 P.M. The meeting was not transcribed, but the main points were detailed by Fritz Grobba, a Nazi diplomat and Middle East expert who had previously served in the German consulate in Jerusalem and as German ambassador to Iraq. Those points are outlined below.

The conversation began with the Mufti thanking the Führer for the great honor he had bestowed upon him by receiving him. The Mufti praised Hitler lavishly, told him he was admired by the entire Arab world, and thanked him for publicizing their shared fate in his speeches.

Hitler meeting with Husseini in Berlin, 1941.

He also told him the Arabs had complete confidence in the Führer because they shared three common enemies: the British, the Jews and the Bolsheviks. The Mufti said the Arabs were willing to side with Germany in the struggle and spill their blood alongside German soldiers, even establishing an Arab Legion. The Arabs were convinced a German victory would be good not only for the Germans, but for the entire world and the Arabs. To this end, the Arabs were requesting independence and the establishment of a united entity to include Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinians and Transjordan.

The Mufti warned Hitler that the British were also working to achieve Arab independence. Therefore, he urged Germany to intervene so the British would not gain the upper hand. He added that the Arabs expected Germany to clarify its goals regarding the Arabs, and requested that Germany and Italy publish a joint declaration on the subject. He claimed the Arabs were well organized under his leadership, and explained that regional powers Turkey and France had nothing to fear from such a step.

Hitler, meanwhile, said the reasons for his struggle were clear, and maintained that he was conducting an uncompromising battle against the Jews – including the Jews of Palestine – in order to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state that would serve as a base for destroying all the nations of the world. He said his main battle was against the Jews, and that exterminating the Jewish people was part of his overall campaign.

The Führer explained it was clear to him that the Jews should not be allowed to rebuild in Palestine. He said he was determined to solve the Jewish problem one step at a time in order to bring order to the world, including to non-European nations.

He added that it was true the Germans and Arabs shared common enemies in the British and the Bolsheviks, and that although these two enemies had different goals, they were both headed by Jews, who had the same goal. Germany was confronting them both in a life-and-death struggle, and the success of this struggle related not only to National Socialism and Judaism, but would have a positive influence on the Arabs, too.

Hitler declared that he would continue the struggle until the Jewish-Communist “reich” in Europe was totally destroyed, and that during the course of the struggle, in the not-too-distant future, German soldiers would also reach the Caucasus. At that point, he said, the Führer would promise the Arabs that the time of liberation had arrived.

He further promised that Germany had no other interest in the region aside from the destruction of the Jewish force that was located in Arab territory. When that happened, the Mufti would become the spokesman of the Arab world, he said. Hitler also promised that when the German soldiers broke through into Iraq and Iran, the British Empire would come to an end.

Hitler promised that Germany would give practical assistance to the Arabs participating in the struggle, in which the Jews were using all the power of England – which he dubbed “the defender of the Jews.” He said the assistance would be material, because support alone was useless. He told the Mufti he had tried to help Iraq against the British, but circumstances had prevented him from doing so.

Hitler added that he was a rational person and, more important, a soldier and the leader of the German forces. He noted that every effort would be made to attain the goal. He explained that the struggle would also affect the fate of the Orient, and that there was a need to examine which steps would assist the struggle and which would harm it.

Hitler refused to publish any declaration on the subject, not even a private one. He asserted that he had made few promises in his life, but had kept them all. At the end of the conversation, Hitler said he had feared for the Mufti’s safety, but now he was glad Husseini was there.

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