In the 1950s and 1960s the Nazi worldwide diaspora, particularly in the Middle East, provided the cogs of these interwoven, high-level connections which remained discreet. As bankers, industrialists, diplomats, jurists, academics, journalists and politicians, even rising to the top in the police as in the case of Interpol, these former high officials—often converted to Islam—pursued common objectives with their Muslim allies. Postwar governments cautiously used their connections to improve their relations with the Muslim world.While working on European integration in a range of economic, social, monetary, legal and educational spheres, the Union tried to develop a common foreign policy that would place it on equal footing with the great powers.
Two French books examine in detail the postwar connections of European ex-Nazis and Arab leaders and their funding of the Palestinian terrorists movements through a Swiss banker, François Genoud. See Karl Laske, Le banquier noir: François Genoud (Paris: Seuil, 1996); and Pierre Péan, L’Extrémiste, François Genoud de Hitler à Carlos (Paris: Fayard, 1996). See also Klaus-Michael Mallman and Martin Cuppers, Nazi Palestine. The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine (New York: Enigma Books, 2010); see also in German the recent publications of Klaus Gensicke and Gerhard Hopp.
The German officials who had worked with the pro-Nazi exiles in Berlin did not do too badly after the war. Indeed, they played key roles in the reconstruction of the West German diplomatic corps dealing with the Middle East. Wilhelm Melchers was asked to assist the Adenauer government in organizing and staffing the new Foreign Ministry. In 1951, he became the director of its office dealing with the Middle East. From 1953 to 1957, he directed the German legation in Baghdad and Amman and was the German ambassador to Iraq from November 1956 to May 1957.18 From 1946 to 1948, Kurt Munzel, the former director of the Orient Office, completed a doctorate in Islam studies and Islamic and Semitic philology at the University of Erlangen, later teaching Arabic and Turkish there (1947-49); in 1949 he was an assistant at the Orient Seminar of the University of Cologne. In 1983, he published a phrase book for Arabic in Egypt. Like Melchers, he was called back to the reemerging West German Foreign Ministry in 1950. From 1951 to 1953, he worked in the ministry's Office III with responsibilities for the Near and Middle East. He worked in the German Legations in Baghdad (1953-55) and Amman, Jordan (1954-55), and returned to work in Cairo in the German Legation (1955-61). He was promoted to the rank of German ambassador to the Congo (Leopoldville, 1961-64) and to Lebanon (Beirut, 1964-65) before returning to the Foreign Ministry in Bonn in 1965.19
In Europe in the early years of the cold war, opposition to Communism offered an umbrella under which some former fascist and Nazi sympathizers succeeded in changing political colors by obscuring details of their biographies in order to be born again as Western democrats.
The German Islamic link
In the 1950s and 1960s, no other country could claim to have so many different organizations grouped for the same over-all purpose. Among them were the German-Arab Society, directed by former Nazi party member Horst Morgenbrod; the Near and Middle East Association with its Nazi adherents in Hamburg and headed by Dr. Ernst Messerschmidt; the German-Arab Association in Bonn; the German-Arab League in Heidelberg; the German Regional Eur-African Center in Bad Godesberg; Dr. Fakoussa’s German-Arab Institute in Bonn; the German-Egyptian Society, in Frankfurt, directed by Frau Ursula Beyrich; the Association of Overseas Interests, in Winsdorf; the Society of the Friends of Africa, in Berlin; and the North African Club, of Hamburg and Berlin, whose chief was Hans Peter Rullmann.
While Israel was establishing itself, the network that had united European Nazis and fascists with Arabs before World War II was reemerging. In the early 1950s, many Nazi criminals and collaborators had found asylum in the Arab world, mainly in Egypt and Syria. There they lived under false names and worked in anti-Zionist propaganda centers, such as the Institute for the Study of Zionism, which was founded in Cairo in 1955. Its director, Alfred Zingler (alias Mahmoud Saleh), worked together with Dr. Johannes von Leers (d. 1965, alias Omar Amin), who had been a specialist on the “Jewish question” in Josef Goebbels’s propaganda department. Zingler’s main assistants were Dr. Werner Witschale and Hans Appler (Saleh Shafar), who had also served on the staff of Goebbels’s ministry, as well as Louis Heiden. Heiden was the editor of one of the many Arabic versions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and of a translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf into Arabic. In 1955, the Cairo Egyptian special services for anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist propaganda hired Appler.
Other Nazis settled in Egypt as well. Most of them worked with the Egyptian government as advisers on anti-Zionist propaganda or assisted with the organization of police forces or as military trainers in Palestinian terrorist camps. In 1957, according to the Frankfurter Illustrierte, the number of Nazis in Egypt was over two thousand.9 Erich Altern (Ali Bella), the chief of the Jewish section of the Gestapo in occupied Galicia during the war, escaped to Egypt in the early 1950s, where he served as a military instructor in the Palestinian camps. Baumann (Ali Ben Khader), who had collaborated in the extermination of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and went into hiding, became a military specialist in Egypt for the army of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
By the 1960s, Arab activities in Europe had greatly increased. Arab diplomats, Arab League offices, and thousands of Arab students in European universities all contributed to a much stronger Arab presence. Networks were established between Arabs and neo-Nazi and fascist movements eager to build close links with the Arab world. They planned to issue propaganda leaflets, pamphlets, and books on the “Jewish Question,” as well as distribute Arab League literature dealing with the Middle East. They circulated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and anti-Zionist propaganda.
A European Nazi-Arab network emerged to exchange information on world affairs and facts concerning Jewish activities in all countries. It also fostered suitable liaisons with Arab representatives. Many of these Nazi and fascist groups aimed at building a European Middle East policy. In Germany, the head of the Arab office in Bonn, Hassan Awat Fakoussa, an attaché at the Egyptian Embassy, published a weekly information bulletin that contained much material from the neo-Nazi press (Deutsche National-Zeitung, Deutsche Wochen-Zeitung). One of the leading figures in the German neo-Nazi movement, a former SS officer named Karl Ernst Priester, was a founding member of the European Social Movement. After his death, a police investigation revealed that he was one of the chief European agents for the Arab League.10
In Austria, the right-wing organs were Reichsruf and Nation Europa, a monthly for intellectuals. In Belgium, Paul E. Laurent, a former Belgian SS sympathizer, headed the Centre de Documentation pour la Collaboration avec les Peuples Arabes and kept links with the fascist movements Jeune Europe, EuropaFront, and Europe Réelle. In the United Kingdom, the British leader of the Nazi National Socialist Movement, Colin Jordan, maintained Arab-Nazi cooperation. In Sweden, the C. E. Carlberg Foundation in Stockholm supported this collaboration and close contacts with Arabs, particularly with what was then the United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria (UAR). Such links developed also with Italian fascist movements.
Thus, postwar fascist and neo-Nazi groups endeavored to establish a widespread network throughout Europe. Many were funded by the Arab League. Despite their racist ideology, some sought the Arab alliance because they shared the same hatred of Israel. They opened offices in various key cities—Strasbourg, Vienna, Lausanne, and Malmö, an important conference center in Sweden, and elsewhere. James Parkes, historian and Anglican clergyman, has listed some of these organizations in his 1963 book, Antisemitism.11
Although numerous, these organizations failed to gain large numbers of members and were forced to operate in a semiclandestine fashion. They all rejected parliamentary democracy and shared a profound hatred of the Jews, Israel, and America—the power that had destroyed the Nazi-fascist dream of world hegemony.
The rise of Palestinian terrorism in the early 1970’s then, caused some elements of the European extreme right to once again take interest in the Middle Eastern affairs. After King Hussein of Jordan expelled the PLO from Jordan in 1970, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat created a new terrorist organization called Black September. The organization established strong ties with German left-wing radicals. Working together, they carried out one of the most infamous acts in the annals of European terrorism-the kidnapping and subsequent killing of several Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympic games in Munich, Germany. Actually, representatives of the extreme right had collaborated with Palestinian rejectionist groups long before the representatives of the radical left had.
A few neofascists even fought alongside Arab guerrillas in Middle Eastern conflicts. For example, Robert Courdroy, a veteran of the Belgian SS, died in combat while fighting for the Palestinians in 1968. And, on some occasions, the extreme right actually worked side by side with the radical left in support of Palestinian terrorists. Other efforts to collaborate in the field of terrorism followed. For example, there were several instances of cooperation between German right-wing extremists and terrorist groups in the Middle East. Following the example of European left-wing terrorists, members of a small German neo-Nazi group, Wehrsportgruppe-Hoffmann, sought to develop an alliance with the PLO and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups during the 1970s and early 1980s. Karl Heinz Hoffman, the leader of the group, traveled to Damascus in July 1980 to develop links between the PLO and East German intelligence agents. Hoffman also worked out a deal that provided used trucks to the PLO in exchange for training. (Ibid).
Members of this group reportedly received paramilitary training in PLO camps in Jordan and fought alongside Palestinians in that country during the "Black September" of 1970. (Bruce Hoffman, Right- Wing Terrorism in Europe since 1980).
One German neo-Nazi mercenary, Karl von Kyna, even died in combat during a Palestinian commando raid in September 1967. (Lee, "The Swastika and Crescent") .
In the 1960s, the Quai d’Orsay and the French Catholic Left sponsored numerous pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe, Lebanon, and Cairo. These movements revived those Euro-Arab currents, Palestinian in particular, which from the 1930s had fostered active collaboration between the European Nazi and fascist regimes and the religious and political leaders in the Arab lands. Their activism went back to the use made of Islam by the Axis regimes in their struggle against the Soviet Union.In 1941 Nazi theoretician Alfred Rosenberg was appointed Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. His colleague, Gerhard von Mende, director of the Ostministerium, the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, became the architect of the collaboration between the Wehrmacht and the battalions made up of defector Muslim soldiers from Soviet Turkestan. This activity was bolstered by the help provided by Hitler’s Arab agent, Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Al-Husseini was the religious and spiritual head of the Arabs of Palestine during the British Mandate, and took refuge in Berlin following the failure of his pro-Nazi insurrection in Iraq, which ended in a pogrom (Farhud) against the Jews in June 1941. Al-Husseini cooperated with von Mende and indoctrinated the Muslim SS troopers from Asia and the Balkans and Arabs in the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. Numbering about 250,000, the Muslim SS served as auxiliary forces in Poland, Yugoslavia and the extermination camps. Representatives of the Ostministerium attended the Wannsee Conference at which the Final Solution was decided upon.After the war the Muslim soldiers, still sponsored by von Mende and a group of ex-officers of the Wehrmacht and SS that he had set up, regrouped in Munich and Hamburg. As naturalized Turks they obtained student status and during the 1950s were recruited by various sections of the CIA against the USSR. Von Mende maintained his contacts with the Mufti, the MB and Nazi criminals who had found refuge in Arab countries. These durable relationships between European supporters of the Third Reich and their Arab networks in the postwar period split off into European, pro-Arab groups against America and Israel. When Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, fled Egypt in 1954, he managed with CIA support to take control of the mosque in Munich to make it a center for MB influence throughout Europe. Using this base he set up a network of Muslim communities and centers spread across Europe, and from there, aided and abetted by European ex-Nazis, relaunched the war against Israel. According to Ian Johnson, “Munich was the bridgehead from which the Brotherhood spread throughout Western society.”The denazification process in Federal Germany, full acknowledgment of the Shoah, rejection of antisemitism, and support for Israel particularly stressed under Chancellor Willy Brandt (1969–1974), a noted opponent and victim of the Nazi regime, opened the way for an Israel-German reconciliation. However, in the postwar period, in Germany as well as in the rest of Europe, especially in the countries under the communist yoke, former Nazis and their followers peopled the various government ministries. Some were even elevated to the highest positions of state, such as Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, former member of the Nazi party; Theodore Oberländer, an ex-pogrom inciter who was head of the German Ministry for Refugees; Hans Globke, co-author of the Nuremberg race laws who was appointed Secretary of State by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1953–1963), becoming his eminence grise; Walter Hallstein, professor of law in Nazi Germany and an officer in the Wehrmacht, who became architect of the European Community and first president of the European Commission from 1958 to 1967.This deep-rooted solidarity between European adherents to the Third Reich ideology and their Arab networks continued after the war in their shared collaboration against America and the Jews. From the mid-1960s, French policy revived these latent networks. The Quai d’Orsay endeavored to build a common EEC foreign policy tied in solidarity with the PLO of Yasser Arafat. On January 25–28, 1969, in Cairo, France sponsored the Second International Conference in Support of the Arab Peoples. On November 22, 1970, in the Dar es Salaam area of Cairo, Georges Montaron, editor of the French weekly Témoignage chrétien, gave a lecture on “The Arab World and Western Opinion” to a crammed room. He deplored Europe’s ignorance of the Arab world, which he attributed to the effectiveness of Zionist propaganda. “Zionism can make use of anything; it has an army of propagandists, rabbinical Judaism, which identifies itself with Israeli policy, so that the majority of authentic French Jews double up as authentic Zionists. If you manage to make authentic Frenchmen or authentic Englishmen be at the same time authentic Eastern Arabs, how great will then be your influence!”The Quai d’Orsay attempted to build solidarity with the PLO, a movement created in 1964. It strived to bring the European states into this alliance, which would become the fulcrum of the foreign policy of the EEC in the Mediterranean region, thwarting American ambitions.Great Britain’s joining the European Community (January 1973) strengthened the French project. According to unpublished sources from the Euro-Arab Dialogue movement, in November 1973 the British Member of Parliament Christopher Mayhew and Raymond Offroy, member of the French National Assembly, envisaged the setting up of an association. Its mission consisted of bringing together their European colleagues who wished to improve Europe’s relations with the Arab world. The two men met during meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and shared a common vision.
In his revealing book, Alexandre Del Valle describes the various sources that fed the growing current of Islamophilia among the European intelligentsia. The new Islamic vogue drew from the ranks of the respectable and from the disreputable, including clerics, communists, converts to Islam, and Nazi sympathizers.7
The philosophy of René Guénon in particular exercised a pervasive influence. Guénon was a French Nazi who had converted to Islam and lived in Cairo. He preached hatred of Western civilization and modern Western secularism, and maintained that Europe could be redeemed only through Islam. He was not alone in thinking that Islam would be the redeemer of the decadent West, as the tenacious Judeophobic current in the Church saw the Islamic destruction of Israel as a Christian victory.8 This atmosphere encouraged the flow of immigrants from Muslim countries and the further development of EAD policies along these lines.
In his book on Islamic totalitarianism, Alexandre Del Valle examines the symbolism of the Andalusian myth that is used to support Muslim political claims on Europe. The myth particularly inspires the anti-Christian “Association for the Return of Andalusia to Islam,” which was founded by Christian converts to Islam, communists and neo-Nazis from all over Europe.12 Del Valle describes the activities of people affiliated with the Vatican and other Christian bodies in adopting, engineering, and extending a European Islamophile culture. The American writer on Islamic jihad, Robert Spencer, has detected the same endorsement of Islam by the Church in North America.13 We now know that the EAD agreements between universities, cultural centers, publishers, and Churches instigated this cultural and media subversion of history targeting Western societies.