Sunday, April 01, 2018

Did Wisliceny claim that the Mufti visited Auschwitz and was one of the initiators of the Final Solution?

Author: Sergey Romanov
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Amin al-Husseini was without a doubt a vicious Nazi collaborator. On 28.11.1941 he met with Hitler who personally promised the following to him:
Germany’s goal would then be solely the extermination of the Jewry living in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. In that hour the Mufti would be the most competent spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operation secretly prepared by him.
Das deutsche Ziel würde dann lediglich die Vernichtung des im arabischen Raum unter der Protektion der britischen Macht lebenden Judentums sein. In dieser Stunde würde dann auch der Mufti der berufenste Sprecher der arabischen Welt sein. Es würde ihm obliegen, die von ihm insgeheim vorbereitete arabische Aktion auszulösen.
In 1943 he was trying to block the transfer of 4000 Jewish children from Bulgaria to Palestine, suggesting to Ribbentrop they should be sent to Poland instead. In 1944 he was calling onto Arabs to "kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion. This serves your honor, God is with you".

According to his own memoir (published in Damascus) he was privy to the information about the extermination of Jews. He tells about a meeting with Himmler in the summer of 1943 during which he was told by the latter:
up to now we have exterminated around three million of them.
In the memoir the Mufti feigns surprise at this revelation. He admits though:
Their losses in the course of the Second World War represented more than thirty percent of the total number of their people...
So at least he was not a Holocaust denier. Now, all this aside, let's look at some widespread claims about the Mufti.

Joseph B. Schechtman, The Mufti and the Fuehrer: the rise and fall of Haj Amin el-Husseini, 1965, pp. 159-160:
There also is direct evidence as to the Mufti’s influence in the implementation of the physical destruction of Eu­ropean Jewry.
In June 1944, Dieter Wisliceny told Dr. Rudolf Kastner, representative of the Budapest rescue council, that he was convinced that the Mufti had "played a role in the deci­sion to exterminate the European Jews." "The importance of this role," he insisted, “must not be disregarded… . The Mufti had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he was maintaining contact, above all to Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considered this as a comfortable solution of the Palestine problem."
Wisliceny was even more explicit in his conversation with Engineer Endre Steiner of Bratislava:
"The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan, …He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chamber of Auschwitz.”
Benjamin Netanyahu on 21.10.2015:
[Netanyahu] quoted parts of the testimony given by Adolf Eichmann's deputy Dieter Wisliceny at the Nuremberg trials. Wisliceny said that "the mufti played an important role in the Final Solution and was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jews."
The extremist anti-Muslim hatemonger Pamela Geller on the same date:
Here at Atlas I have been calling attention to this for years. SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dieter Wisliceny, a close collaborator of Adolf Eichmann, testified that “the grand mufti, who had been in Berlin since 1941, played a role in the decision of the German government to exterminate the European Jews the importance of which must not be disregarded. He had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he had been in contact, above all before Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European jury. He considers this as a comfortable solution of the Palestine problem. In his messages broadcast from Berlin, he surpassed us in anti-Jewish attacks. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and has constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he has visited incognito the gas chamber it Auschwitz.” The statement referred to in the affidavit was made by Eichmann in his office in Budapest on June 4, 1944; the confirmation by Wisliceny was given some days later also in Budapest.
Further, according to testimony at the Nuremberg trials, “[T]he mufti was a bitter arch enemy of the Jews and had always been the protagonist of the idea of their annihilation. This idea the mufti had always advanced in his conversations with Eichmann.”
The historian Wolfgang G. Schwanitz on 04.11.2015:
Eichmann’s aide Dieter Wisliceny testified at the Nuremberg trials, “The mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry ... He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”
None of the words attributed to Wisliceny here actually come directly from him (and also not from any of his Nuremberg testimonies).

The statement "The Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan" comes, as Schechtman correctly states, from an affidavit by the architect Endre Steiner (made in Bratislava on 12.02.1946; see the Eichmann trial exhibit T/1117).

Thus, contrary to Netanyahu, Geller and Schwanitz, it does not come from a Wisliceny testimony.

It is important to note that the affidavit was read by Wisliceny, who, while in Nuremberg, wrote on the bottom of the document on 05.03.1946:
I have read these statements, they’re correct contentwise with the exception of Eichmann being born in Palestine and the Mufti being Himmler’s “constant collaborator”. I never used this formulation.
Hence, despite bungling the sourcing, the above persons could argue that they are not entirely wrong in attributing the statement to Wisliceny. What value is to be attributed to this remark is another issue. One could argue that Wisliceny confirmed the point cited above by not contesting it, while refuting the key point about his alleged claim of the Mufti being Himmler's "constant collaborator", though of course even then the possibility would remain that he simply forgot or did not bother to correct it. So it's not entirely the same as Wisliceny directly making the claim, but a case could be made for using this citation (as long as the words are not attributed directly to Wisliceny).

As a side note, Geller's quote about "a bitter arch enemy of the Jews" also comes from the Steiner affidavit.

The second part of the quote Schechtman provides - "He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and had constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard him say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chamber of Auschwitz" - does not come from the Steiner affidavit. It comes from an affidavit (apparently made in January of 1946) by Rudolf Kastner (published e.g. in the documentary appendix to D. Dalin, J. F. Rothmann, Icon of Evil: Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam, 2009):
Some days later, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dieter Wisliceny, a close collaborator of Eichmann, confidentially confirmed to me the above statement of his chief, and added:
"According to my opinion, the Grand Mufti, who has been in Berlin since 1941, played a role in the decision of the German Government to exterminate the European Jews, the importance of which must not be disregarded. He had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he has been in contact, above all before Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considered this as a comfortable solution of the Palestine problem. In his messages broadcast from Berlin, he surpassed us in anti-Jewish attacks. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and has constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he has visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz."
Therefore it is, again, hearsay, so attributing it directly to Wisliceny is simply wrong.

Schechtman glued the Kastner hearsay quote onto the Steiner hearsay quote, thus falsely attributing it to Steiner. Schwanitz glued the Kastner and the Steiner hearsay quotes together and falsely attributed them directly to Wisliceny, something he allegedly testified about during the Nuremberg trials. Geller attributed the whole quote to something that Wisliceny "testified" about, implying that it happened during the Nuremberg trial, and again ascribing it directly to him. While, as already mentioned, the second part of the Netanyahu quote comes from the Steiner affidavit, the first part ("the mufti played an important role in the Final Solution") is clearly based on the Kastner affidavit.

So did Wisliceny claim that the Mufti visited Auschwitz and was one of the initiators of the Final Solution?

First of all, if he did,  we certainly do not have his direct words.

If one chose to believe Steiner and Kastner, he did make such remarks during the war. But the usual grain of salt rule about hearsay applies, also if Wisliceny generally confirmed one of the affidavits.

As to the value of the claims: no historian seems to mention any post-war statement by Wisliceny about the Mufti's alleged visit to Auschwitz. Indeed, on 26.07.1946 Wisliceny composed a handwritten report on Mufti's alleged activities in regard to the "Jewish question" and not once mentioned any such visit. Hence, even if one were to accept that he made such a claim to Kastner during the war, the claim is still obviously extremely doubtful. However, Michael Sells points out:
Kastner never explained or defended the allegations in K-W, and he ignored them completely within the dozens of other reports, affidavits, and testimonies he authored on his dealings with Eichmann, Wisliceny, and other Nazi officials - including a comprehensive 300-page report he drafted on behalf of the Budapest rescue group and presented to the World Jewish Congress in 1946.
The claims in the Steiner affidavit should be seen in the immediate historical context of that time, provided by Sells in his article "Fabricating Palestinian responsibility for the Nazi genocide", especially in the light of who obtained Wisliceny's "confirmation" on Steiner's affidavit and for what purposes. In addition to that, had Mufti been such an important figure in the Final Solution, it would certainly be surprising that in Wisliceny's detailed testimony on the development of the Nazi anti-Jewish policy the Mufti is only mentioned as someone who allegedly intervened with Himmler against some transport of Jewish kids to Palestine in late 1942.

But even that aside, in general, Wisliceny is not that much trusted by the historians. Thus, Bettina Stangneth characterized his Mufti claims as "colorful ... stories" and himself as a man "who would have sold anyone down the river in order to escape the hangman's noose".

All this extra-evidence taken together, it is very doubtful that Wisliceny actually did utter such claims at the time, as described in the affidavits.

No comments: