Hitler and the Moslems-Why?

Hitler cultivated Moslem leaders. There was even a special SS division formed, with Moslem soldiers. How did this square with Hitler’s racism, and the Nazi party’s general disgust at religion? At any rate, did this SS Division see much action? What did the Moslem Imams make of Nazi ideology?

The same way he squared it with his deals with the Japanese. Which is also, for that matter, pretty close to how he dealt with the fact that he wasn’t exactly tall and blond himself.

Why do you spell the word as moslem, instead of the more commonly used Muslim? I’m curious.

As to the racism angle, you could ask the same question about how Hitler reconciled nazi ideology about raciial hierarchies with his collaboration with Italians and Japanese – which is that the reality of war makes for unlikely allies (heck, the US was allied with the Soviet Union during this period).

Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows, or something of the kind. Initially only pureblooded Germans could join the SS; later this was broadened to include all Nordic races; later still, as the need became greater, to practically anybody who (a) wasn’t African or Jewish, and (b) might have some tactical or strategic reason for aligning themselves with the Axis. The division concerned (the 13th Mountain Division) was raised among Bosnian Muslims in 1943. The officers were ethnic Germans; the enlisted men mostly Bosnian Muslims with a sprinkling of Catholic Croats. They lined up with the Germans, basically, because the Germans were antipathetic to the Serbs.

It didn’t see action until 1944. It served exclusively in the Balkans, initially in Bosnia itself. In late 1944 it was transferred to Zagreb, at which point either because they were homesick or because they could see which way the wind was blowing the rate of desertions started to climb. It climbed faster when the division was transferred to Hungary to engage the advancing Red Army. By early 1945 it had basically fallen apart.

Why? Simple, Hitler didn’t cultivate Muslim leaders. To increase his personal fiefdom in the Nazi state, Himmler had the SS take control of all foreign troops serving with the German Army as the war progressed; the size of the Waffen-SS ballooned as a result and by the war’s end had reached a peak strength of nearly 1,000,000. Included in this were formations made of troops who were blatantly untermensch according to Nazi ideology; the 29th and 30th Waffen Grenadier Divisions der SS were formed from Russians, the 36th more infamously known by the name of its leader, Dirlewanger, in large part from the mentally ill. Nazi actions in practice were hardly known for internal consistency in their logic. That the SS had a Croatian Mountain division that was actually composed mostly of Bosnians who were Muslim has no higher meaning to it than that the SS had divisions formed from Hungarians, French, Belgian, Cossacks, Albanians, Estonians or any other nationality.

Nazi ideology had the idea of a racial pyramid. The Aryans were at the peak and were supposed to be in charge. The Jews were down at the bottom and were supposed to be exterminated. The Slavs were also pretty far down and were only fit to be a subject race with no rights.

But there was still room for other people in the space below the Aryans and above the Slavs. These were people who would work for the Aryans and would be allowed some power of their own. Usually they would be allowed to run their own local region, subject to German overall control, but they might also be used to control territory occupied by lesser races.

So while Hitler and the other Nazis didn’t consider the Italians or the Japanese the equals of the Aryans, they were okay with the Italians ruling over Africans and the Japanese ruling over Chinese. They would have also been okay with Britain ruling over India and the United States ruling over Latin America if we’d been willing to make a deal with them. And they had no problem with what they regarded as secondary races like French, Dutch, Scandinavians, Hungarians, Romanians, and/or Muslims fighting alongside Germans for the Nazi cause.

Hitler liked Islam better than most religions and expressed to Albert Speer that he had wished the battle of Tours had turned out differently and the Germany had become Muslim instead of Christian. He considered Islam more warlike and manly and Christianity wimpy and weak.
He considered Arabs and Bosnians as very low on the racial ladder but it never bothered him to work with races he considered lower than his as long as the Germans were in charge and the other races were taking the orders.
The top Nazis despised religion and were trying to replace it with a new version of German paganism but did not get far in that and had to move very slowly and surreptitiously to avoid alienating the population.
The SS division with alot of Bosnian muslims fought against Serb partisans with some degree of success at first but had to retreat into Germany with the arrival of the Russians.
Arab muslim opinion was very split but for the most part supportive of the Nazis since they were fighting against the French and English who were the colonialist powers in the middle east. They also both hated the Jews, so it was the enemy of my enemy is my friend type of alliance.

The approach pre-dated the Nazis. allying with Muslims was an important aspect of WW1 German policy. And it had one very simple reason behind it. Britain was actually the largest Muslim power in the world at the time. A huge percentage of the Muslim population of the world was was ruled by the British Empire, if they could be convinced to rebel against british rule it would seriously weaken Britain’s ability to fight.

The Muslim regiments also had pre-Nazi precursor in the Bosnian Muslim regiments that fought for the Austro-Hungarian army.

He did not as others have said.

What was done by the Nazi regime is the cultivation of potential wedge groups among his enemies empires in areas of the strategic importance, and in this the British empire

False. Or shall we describe the French SS division as “a special SS divsion was formed with the Roman Catholic soldiers”?

The Bosniak Imams made written statements against the Nazis as unislamic. So did Algerian and Tunisian imams.

Of course since the Islamic idea of imam is not like priesthood you can find some who did not react this way, but contrary to the propaganda of certain kinds of religious bigots, the widest reaction of the time was not positive.

This is also incorrect

The German ideology as the allied Croat fascist ideology of the time was that the bosniak were racially the Croats only adopting the muslim religion and the Croats themselves where racially germanic who had adopted the slavic language. this was the propaganda.

the raising of the bosniak units was presented as self defense in the context of what was mostly the conflict between the croat and the serb.

because itself had been sold to the bosniak as self defense… and when this was switched there was mutiny in fact.


mythology, please do not repeat mythology in GQ.

This is mythology.

**False. **

There was the sympathy in the British regions where the propaganda on the part of the germans was trying to exploit the anti-colonial feeling support and of course in the palestine, the resentment of the Jewish settlement.

Several hundreds of thousands of the Maghrebine muslims served voluntarily in the Free French army and they were with the west african muslims, the absolute majority of the Free French army. It is ***absolute falsehood ***to claim that the Arab muslims supported in majority the Nazis. In fact thousands and thousands of Maghrebine and African muslims (and Indian ones too to recognize the british side) died fighting against the Nazis and not as conscripted soldiers… My own grandfather participated in this, it is a hateful falsehood that gets repeated that denies the blood contribution of the Maghrebine and the African muslims.

One can only possibly say the feeling may have been supportive among the Palestinians.


This is mistaking the feeling of the Palestinians - the Christian AND the Muslim - for a synonym for muslims and for all arabe muslims.

In fact in the Maghreb the muslim leadership forbade collaboration in the Vichy and the Nazi racist laws and told the populatoin that the nazi ideology was makruh, hateful and unislamic. The Sultan of Morocco took even the risk of going directly against the vichy occupation authorities and forbidding the application of the nazi race laws to the Jewish moroccans, which the Vichy racist regime and the French colonials were seeking to apply.

in fact also the French.

Here is a useful and balanced article in the English that speaks to this subject, that does not avoid some of the problems. The only mistake of fact is it says the North africa troops of the French were Arab. In fact very many as from my family were Berberophones. But this is a small point.

On the point of the half truths that have been advanced on this

there is more of course.

There is also this blog post article.

I hope that the hateful falsehoods about the muslims and the nazis will not be repeated in the GQ like this.

I have to take issue with this, the conflict between the Arabs (and the wider Muslim World) and the Jews were to erupt later (though not that much later), but at the time the tensions were mainly confined to internecine tensions with the small but growing population Zionist immigrants had taken seed in post-WWI Palestine. This did have ramifications further afield, especially with the nascent pan-Arabists, but the general antipathy between the Jews and Arabs and the wider Muslim population was a later development.

In Bosnia where the Jewish and Muslim populations had historically enjoyed good relations, the Bosnian Muslim alliance with Germany was solely about tensions between Bosnian Muslims and the more dominant Yugoslav ethnic groups, particularly the Serbs.

The thing about the Nazis is they knew who they hated much more than they knew why they hated them. Racial theories were more of a justification than a reason for persecution. Their racial hierarchy and ideology had fixed points (in particular the Jews and the German ‘Volk’), but much of it was pliable to more pragmatic concerns such as the difficulties of forming alliances with peoples you class as ‘racially inferior’.

For the persons who find it interesting, there is the French film, Indigène, that tells this story of the Maghrebine troops volunteering and fighting for the Free French against the Nazi even in the face of the race and the religious chauvanism of the French army.

it is an interesting movie to correct the half truth of the Free French that has whitened the history and actively forgotten that the French contribution to its own liberation was heavily with the blood of the African and the Maghrebine people that the racists and the bigotted now deny can be really French…

The problem is deeper - the Bosniaks were the small religious minority trapped between the Serbs and the Croats and the idealogy of the fascist Croat puppet regime (I say the regime, not all the Croats of course) that held the Bosniak were just Croats naturally.

We can add that also in the Balkans the Muslim Albanians en masse rejected the attempts of the Nazis to grab the Albanian jews.

the simple narrative of the muslim and the jew essential hatred is a false one as you highlight, imposing on the past what is a product of a recent history.

So what was the relationship of the Muslim Brotherhood to the nazis ?

It is also useful (particularly it is interesting for a context in certain funny ATMB conversations about a forbidden american word) to note this reflection toofrom the BBC about the French troops for the liberation of Paris (although it has some of the percentages not in agreement overall on the forces)

the denial of the contribution of the africans and the maghrebines goes back far…

I knew I remembered this, ah cher Ralph and his questions, eternally answered…

Et voila it is a good thanks to dissonance these three years

That in itself isn’t mythology. Speer makes the claim, at least. From Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich”

Now, it’s possible that Speer made the anecdote up, but this combination of bad history and incoherent racial theory sounds like Hitler.

Churchill always referred to the members of the Islamic faith as Moslems. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hitler did too.

Additionally the only head of state of an occupied country to actively oppose the nazi deportation of their jewish population was the muslim king of Morocco.

I thought that when Hitler asked the Finns, “Send me your Jews” their guy replied, “Why don’t you try to come and get them?”