To the Editor:

The article by Dan Sieradski (Nov, 2005 issue, pp 16), where he tries to demonstrate historical links between Palestinian leadership and the Nazis, contains three photos of The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj-Amin el-Husseini.

The photos themselves happen to be true (see, e.g. Haj-Amin and Berlin, by Jennie Lebel, Israel, 1996). What is certainly not true are the subtitles to the first two photos. The first one states, “The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem with Serbian SSâ€?, while the second one states, â€?The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem reviewing Serbian SS troopsâ€?. It is by no means clear whether it is the author, or the editor, who is responsible for the fraudulent subtitles. What is clear, however, is that Haj-Amin never visited Serbia, which was at that time occupied by Nazis, and that Serbia has absolutely nothing to do with either Haj-Amin or the Nazi generals on these photos.

According to Ms. Lebel, Haj-Amin el-Husseini (1895-1974), the Mufti of Jerusalem (self-proclaimed ‘Grand Mufti’’, in Islam a non-existent, invented title) was one of the greatest international criminal in the first half of the 20th Century. During WWII, he collaborated intensively with Nazis, and helped in recruiting Moslem Bosnian, Kossovar-Albanians and former Soviet Union Moslems for their Waffen-SS divisions. In the Independent State of Croatia (not in Serbia) about 20,000 volunteers, mainly Bosnian Moslems, were recruited for the Croat Waffen-SS Volunteer Mountain Division, later called 13. Waffen-SS Division ‘Hanjar’ (dagger).

According to the book cited above, the Waffen SS-general on the first photo is Gottlob Berger (photo taken in Germany, 1943). The troops reviewed on the second photo belong to 13. Waffen-SS Volunteer Bosnian-Herzegovinian mountain division, ‘Hanjar’ division and its commander is the Waffen-SS general Karl-Gustav Sauberzweig who is seen reviewing the troops together with Haj-Amin, wearing traditional fess. This photo was taken in Nov. 1943 in the German city of Neuhammer, where the troops have been stationed for additional training.

The 13. Waffen-SS division, which operated mostly on the territory of the Independent State of Croatia, committed numerous crimes of murder mostly against the civilian Serbian population, Jews and Roma of Bosnia and Herzegovina, although its main purpose was to fight Partisan resistance movement during the period 1943-1945.

Such incidences of ignorance are not just infuriating.

Igor Najfeld, Vermont, Dec 2005
igor@cems.uvm.edu