Did Haj Amin al-Husseini Influence Hitler? By: Wolf Gruner

There is a current controversy about the allegation that the great mufti of Jerusalem instigated the final solution of the Nazis. While there is no doubt that Haj Amin al-Husseini, was a virulent anti-Semite, history shows that the Final Solution was conceived and implemented by Nazis and nobody else.

In USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive, Polish Jewish survivor Martin Becker speaks about meeting the nephew of the great mufti al-Husseini while he studied in Egypt before World War II.

Becker says he was not aware of the great mufti’s hatred toward the Jews at the time, which shows that al-Husseini’s influence has become exaggerated in the years that followed.

Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting Hitler in 1941. Photo Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The fact is that the great mufti was strictly opposed to Jewish immigration to Palestine. He was against the British mandate policy that allowed it, and he also supported anti-Jewish violence and the Arab uprising in the 1930s. In 1937, the great mufti fled Palestine and British persecution.

He finally met Hitler at the end of 1941, by which time Nazis had already murdered almost 1-million Jews by mass extinction in the occupied Soviet territories. After the war, Dieter Wisliceny, one of the SS men responsible for the execution of the Final Solution, reported during the Nuremberg trial that the al-Husseini had recommended the killing of the Jews to Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Few people tend to believe Wisliceny; many think that he was trying to deflect responsibility for the genocide from the Nazis.

While Hitler and his entourage may have liked his support, they certainly didn’t need the advice or inspiration of the great mufti of Jerusalem. Before Hitler al-Husseini had even met, the order had already been given for the construction of the first extermination camp in occupied Poland.

Muhammed Amin al-Husseini

USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive contains over 60,000 key indexing terms. Below is the description for Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, an indexing term that is mentioned in several Holocaust survivor testimonies.

  • Born in Jerusalem in 1895, Amin al-Husseini was the grand mufti (Islamic religious head) of Jerusalem and Arab nationalist in British Mandate Palestine.
  • In 1921, the British appointed him as Mufti of Jerusalem and he was elected to the Supreme Moslem Council. In this capacity, Husseini became the spiritual and political leader of the Palestinian Arabs and held an unwavering stance against Jewish settlement in the mandate.
  • When the British abolished the Supreme Moslem Council, he fled to Lebanon. Having lost British support, Husseini made contact with Germany from exile in Lebanon in 1937 asking the Nazis to recognize Arab nationalism and to express his support of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish policies.
  • In 1941, Husseini went to Italy and then Germany where he remained to the end of the war. With financial support from the Germans, Husseini worked with intelligence operations in the Middle East and used his influence on Adolf Eichmann to forestall any barter arrangements to rescue Jews. It is alleged that through his contact with Eichmann, the mufti visited the Auschwitz camp complex in Poland although this has not been verified.
  • His campaign to create an Arab military legion within the Axis armed forces did not come to fruition but he acted as spiritual advisor to the Waffen-SS Bosnian Muslim battalions in Yugoslavia and the Ostbataillone Muslim units in the Wehrmacht.
  • After the war, Israel and Yugoslavia demanded that he be placed on trial, but he evaded trial on the grounds that he was not a citizen of an Axis nation. Husseini escaped arrest in France and fled to Egypt, remaining in Egypt and Lebanon until his death in Beirut in 1974