Islam and Nazi Germany’s War by David Motadel - review by David Cesarani

David Cesarani

The Eagle & the Prophet

Islam and Nazi Germany’s War


Harvard University Press/Belknap Press 500pp £25 order from our bookshop

Just two years after his release from Mauthausen, Simon Wiesenthal published a book on the subject of the collaboration between Amin al-Husayni, former mufti of Jerusalem, and the Third Reich. It was pioneering, but had little impact. For decades the subject of German attempts to inveigle Muslims into the Second World War on their side mainly interested those who wanted to show that Israel was confronting an alliance of jihadists and Nazi has-beens quartered in Cairo or Damascus. When Eichmann was on trial in Jerusalem, the Israeli government made a point of highlighting his contacts with the mufti. Barring a few honourable exceptions, such as the American historian Francis Nicosia, Nazi policy towards the Middle East remained the realm of advocacy literature. 

It is hardly surprising that interest was rekindled in the 1990s with the rise of Islamist militancy. Attempts to explain the origins of ‘Islamo-fascism’ (and to blacken its adherents) turned the spotlight back onto the 1940s. Jeffrey Herf’s Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (2009) revealed the chilling broadcasts inciting

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