Why so many Turks like Hitler

Nazi eraThe "Muselmann", Hitler and the Mufti

The Nazi regime was based on a deadly ideology. Anyone who was identified as an enemy - for racial or political reasons - should disappear, be "eradicated", as it was called in Nazi jargon. Concentration camps were established as early as 1933, later extermination camps were built.

"In coming to terms with history in Germany, we rightly first of all focused on the fact that the Jews came first among the six million people," explains Jörg Becker, professor emeritus of political and social sciences at the University of Giessen. Daniel Roters from the University of Münster adds:

"It is important to note that the crime against the Jews that was committed during the Nazi era was a singular crime, singular in human history".

"C-a-f-f-e-e-, don't drink so much coffee"

Other groups were also victims of the persecution: communists, social democrats, homosexuals, people with disabilities, Sinti and Roma. It was a long time before they got a place in public memory. But one group is hardly noticed, says Jörg Becker: the Muslims. Were they victims because of their religion? The scientific debate on this has only just begun.

Jörg Becker: "Anyone who grew up in the 'good, old' German tradition will know an old nursery rhyme that all children knew at least a generation or two ago. This song is called: c - a - f - f - e - e, doesn't drink too much coffee, the Turkish drink is not for children, it weakens your nerves, makes you pale and sick.

The Muslims are referred to here as pale, weak and sick people. What is strange is not their religion, but their outward appearance.

"And now a strange thing has happened in the German concentration camps. This term 'Muselmann' was used in Auschwitz, or then in other concentration camps, for the concentration camp prisoners who were so emaciated and so sick and weak as in this nursery rhyme that actually only the gas chamber was the last remaining step. That means the emaciated, the completely broken, were called Muselmänner in all German concentration camps. "

According to Jörg Becker, this could be a possible first connection to expand the victim perspective in the concentration camps to include Muslims as well. Daniel Roters, research assistant at the Center for Theology at the University of Münster, disagrees.

"That is one thing that goes back much further. Since the siege of Vienna, the topos of the Turk has been there. So Turkish and Muslim are then synonymous, of those who want to conquer Europe, so to speak. If you look at yourself, in the 90s , in the 80s - the Bosniaks were suddenly identified as enemies by Serbian ultra-nationalists and they were also called Turks, simply to stylize them as non-European, although as Muslims they had built up a tradition for 400 years and lived there . The 'Muselmann' as a swear word, corruption of the Muslim, we can trace that back much longer. "

Debate on the role of Muslims

Nonetheless, an academic discussion was gradually emerging, devoted to the question of whether there were possibly more Muslims among the victims of the Nazis than previously assumed.

Jörg Becker: "This is exciting because it is relatively little known that among the Sinti and Roma who were killed in the concentration camps, estimates say that half of the Roma and Sinti were Muslims. If these estimates are correct, then it works to the fact that we assume around 10,000 Muslims murdered in German concentration camps. "

But that is such a large number that one can no longer say ...

"... that's by the way, that's negligible."

Daniel Roters from ZIT at the University of Münster doubts the informative value of such numbers.

"The problem with the Sinti and Roma is that even within Islamic societies they do not have an independent identity. It didn't matter whether they were Muslims or not. It didn't matter what they believed in."

For the Nazis, the supposed "race" was more decisive than religion, Roma and Sinti, like the Jews, did not fit into the dream of the rule of the "master race". Daniel Roters said:

"The Sinti and Roma were present in Europe and that is the point - the Jews too. The Muslims weren't so homogeneous, maybe that's because of that. You couldn't exactly say, '" Was he a Muslim or not? Or where did it come from? ' So if you look at each other - North African Muslims are just different from Turkish or Arab ones. It was difficult to determine. "

Aside from these discussions, the debate about the relationship between Muslims and the Nazis determines a completely different phenomenon, explains Becker.

"If you talk to critics of Islam - and there are very, very many of them in Germany, there are especially atheists, but they also exist especially in left-wing circles - then you quickly come to the following argumentation pattern: The Arabs, Muslims in the The Middle East and the Nazis liked each other very much. Then immediately comes the reference to the common anti-Semitism. "

"Hitler needed the Muslims"

Indeed, anti-Semitism is widespread among Muslims today. "The Jews" are suitable for many representatives of political Islam as a projection surface for various conspiracy theories. And yet there is an essential difference, says Jörg Becker.

"We all know that this hatred of Jews among Arabs is a product of the 19th century, so it has a completely different historical dimension than in Germany. In other words, it is qualitatively different from the anti-Semitism that has grown up in Germany with its six or seven hundred years of history. Many leftists in particular who simply make an equation do not understand that either. They are two completely different phenomena. "

Those who claim close and extensive cooperation between the Nazis and the Muslims like to base their arguments on photos of Adolf Hitler in conversation with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. This Grand Mufti also contributed to the establishment of a Bosnian Waffen SS division under the name Handschar. All of this is true and has been historically documented, confirms Daniel Roters.

Muslim volunteers of the Waffen SS read a booklet called 'Islam and Judaism' in 1943. (HO / AFP)

"The story with the Mufti of Jerusalem showed that at a certain point Hitler needed the Muslims. Especially the Arabs, against the British."

According to Jörg Becker, however, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is one of many people who were instrumentalized by the Nazis for foreign policy purposes.

"And then this thought is much more important than the reference to the fact that Muslim and Nazi ideas are compatible. This is a favorite thesis of many anti-Islamic forces, the reference that the totalitarianism of the Nazi era is just as totalitarian as Islam This can only lead to the fact that this figure of argumentation is completely disregarded because the idea of ​​instrumentalization is completely disregarded. In this respect, it is even a bit disgusting to assume that Islam has the same world of thought as the Nazis, just because the Grand Mufti could be misused as an instrument. "

Jörg Becker also deduces that there was no friendship between Hitler and the Grand Mufti from the statements that Hitler made about Muslims in general.

November 30, 1941: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin Al-Husseini, at a meeting with Adolf Hitler in Berlin. (HO / AFP)

"There is this quote from Hitler about the Arabs: 'Lacquered semi-monkeys that should feel the knout.' After everything I've read about the Nazi era, I think that this quote reflects the opinion of the Nazi leadership much more clearly than the fact, 'these are our good friends just because they were anti-Semites too.' "

Today it is clear: There were definitely Muslims among the collaborators of the Nazis, but when some of them turned against the Nazis, they were destroyed as well as all the others. The research on the subject of the Holocaust is far from over and the question of whether Muslims should also be counted among the victims of the Nazis raises the question of whether the Muslim victims of the Nazis actually had to die because of their religion, or whether it was the same "racial" reason as everyone else.