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Mufti's memoirsHeinrich Himmler by Frentz

Re: Did Himmler ever admit to "Three Million"?



Eric MuellerMiddle East expert Eric Müller, Texas:

HERE is my translation of that passage, a rather literal translation:

"I used to hear coming from Himmler all the time [things] that showed the intensity of his hatred for the Jews. He accused them of being oppressors/wrongdoers while they claim to be oppressed/wronged. He would say that they lit the fires of wars, that they are egotists, and that sort of thing, showing the extent of harm that they had brought down on Germany in the previous war and that they were always igniting the fires of war and then using them for their material interests, without losing anything in them themselves. Therefore we have determined to give them a taste of the evil consequences of their actions in advance. We have so far exterminated about three million of them. (This talk with him was in the summer of the year 1943)."

The verb in question - abadna ("we have exterminated") - is translated as "destroy, exterminate, extirpate" by the best academic Arabic-English dictionary (the Hans Wehr dictionary, which ironically is an English translation of an Arabic-German dictionary - the result of a project originally begun in the Third Reich supposedly with the aim of translating Mein Kampf into Arabic.)

The verbal noun "ibadah," derived from that verb, means "extermination" and "ibadah jama'iya" or "collective 'ibadah'" is the modern Arabic expression used for the word 'genocide.' Another derivative of the same root, "mubeed" (literally, the thing that does the 'ibadah'), is the Arabic word for pesticide.

So the Arabic verb 'adadna' really pretty much has to mean "we exterminated," though I suppose with a slight stretch you might translate it as "we have got rid of"

But of course, I'm sure Himmler didn't speak to the Mufti in Arabic and I don't think the Mufti spoke very much German so this is the Mufti's recollection many years later the fact of a conversation through the intermediary of an interpreter.

The statement also could be an effort by the Mufti to distance himself from the supposed extremism of the Nazis. I don't know when these memoirs were supposedly written, but already by the 1960s the Arabs who were engaged in fighting the Zionists had all realigned with the Soviets. So public expressions of enthusiasm for the Nazis wouldn't have been welcome politically at that point.

ALSO, I've just now been trying to track down some information about the source of that quote, the "Memoirs of al-Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husayni" edited by 'Abd al-Karim al-'Umar and published in Damascus in 1999. Obviously that's 25 years after the Mufti died and in a quarter century one could accomplish a great deal of creative "editing" if the Mufti hadn't thoroughly reworked the incidents in his own mind and writing himself.

My first question is whether the 1999 edition was a reprint or a new book. The second thing I want to find out is who 'Abd al-Karim al-'Umar is and what he has to do with the Mufti and where these memoirs were for 25 years prior to 1999.

I looked up the on-line catalogues of the two big Arabic bookdealers (based in Beirut) from which I've bought books on several occasions to search for this title and the editor and neither one pulls up anything - which is a little odd, though by no means impossible. That part of the world is not known for efficiency and order. Still, those websites regularly throw up even out-of-print books (because you can contact the store and ask for them to hunt down copies of such items). So it's a bit strange that they don't pull up anything.

Anyhow, I'll let you know what more I find.

I heard several years ago that Rashid Ali al-Gilani, the Iraqi Prime Minister who spent time in Berlin and then fled to Saudi Arabia after the war, also left some manuscript memoirs behind - either in Berlin when he left or after he died in the 1960s. I also heard that the Egyptian editor of the Magazine Uktubir ("October") - formerly one of Sadat's pet publications, so definitely tied to the Egyptian state machine - had got hold of the manuscript and was thoroughly rewriting it for 'publication'. I don't think that ever was published - thank God. But the apparent interval of 25 years between the death of the Mufti and the publication of his 'memoirs' is rather unnerving in light of that sort of 'editing.'


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