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Iraq Pre/during WW2: Majority of intelligentsia either active members or associates of pro-Nazi clubs & societies

Reader comment on item: The Grand Mufti

Submitted by Charles (United States), Jan 2, 2023 at 21:31

A British (especially in1939) report included a long list of grouos, societies who, were all active in promoting Nazi propaganda. The majority of the Iraqi intelligentsia, were either active members or associates of such clubs and societies. Many of them were in influential government posts or otherwise of good social and financial standing.

Hamdi, Walid M. S.. Rashid Ali Al-Gailani and the Nationalist Movement in Iraq 1939-1941: A Political and Military Study of the British Campaign in Iraq and the National Revolution of May 1941. (United Kingdom: Darf, 1987). pp.66-8.

cited the late Yasin al-Hashimi as an example of the political impact of the German Legation in that he secretly supplied a sum of twenty thousand dinars to the leaders of the Palestine movement to wage a revolt in Palestine. Added to that, the German Legation encouraged the people to "avenge" themselves against the Jews in Iraq which culminated in daily attacks against them.

Hikmat Sulaiman and Bakr Sidqi, who concluded their arms deal with Germany following their failure to secure arms from Britain, were in cooperation with the Germans in this regard....


By stirring up nationalist feeling among Iraqi youth through German teachers employed to teach in Secondary and High Schools and by spreading German propaganda to critize and attack French, Zionist and British designs on Arab countries.

It was during al-Madfa'i's premiership that a party of Iraqi youths went to Berlin to attend the massive Hitler Youth rally in Nuremburg in September, 1938, at the climax of the Sudetenland crisis. They were received in person by Hitler.


To maintain among the Iraqi people the hatred and dislike for Jews and induce the government to promulgate laws which limited Jewish activities , to nationalize transport and to establish new Arab banks to circumvent financial control by Jews.

To exploit Arab grievances in Palestine to their benefit by maintaining strong links with the Palestine Defence Committee in Baghdad, which, from 1938, was headed by General Taha al-Hashimi, and supporting it morally and materially.

The German Legation was also able to win the Iraqi Press to their side through their relations with the Iraqi Director of Propaganda and Publications.

An agreement was reached between the German Legation and the Director of Propaganda and Publications for the establishment of a telegraphic news agency in Damascus, to serve as an information centre and to exchange news with the German company, DNB.

And, as another British report confirmed, the Nazis had used the following means, inter alia, to further their objectives in Iraq:


The Press In order to arouse public opinion against Britain, many newspapers were used, in one way or another to promote ..anti-British feeling by writing didactic articles.

The wellknown Baghdad paper Al- 'Alam Al- 'Arabi (The Arab World) was the first to start such a campaign. Mein Kampf was translated into Arabic and published in newspapers. Many other moderate papers, so it was rumoured in Bahgad, were receiving German subsidies.


The Muslim Clergy

The clergy (both Sunni and Shi'a) were the second important element in the propaganda machinery of the Nazis, allegedly being in the pay of the German Legation.

The report went on to aver that the leading religious men were, indeed, subsidized by the Germans. They were receiving monthly payments for their religious sermons in the mosques on Fridays. Their speeches were mostly 'devoted to anti-British and anti-Semite political propaganda'. Their weekly magazine, the report said, Al-Nashi'ah Al-Islamiyyah, which was issued by Kamal al-Din al-Tai'y, was their instrument to spread these feelings and propaganda among Iraqis.


Clubs and Societies

Since 1936 , the Germans had encouraged and subsidized, as the report claimed , any anti-British clubs and societies in Iraq. In that year the Nadi al-Muthana Club was founded in Baghdad by Dr Amin Ruwaiha , a Palestinian nationalist, Dr Sa'id Shawkat, a brother of the former Prime Minister Naji Shawkat, and Shaikh Madhi Kubbah, a founder member of the Istiqlal Party.
In 1937 another club was founded in Mosul, under the name of Nadi al-Jazirah, by Najam al-Din Chelmiran.

Shortly afterwards, yet another club, know as Nadi al-Muhalab, was founded in Basra by Dr Sa'ad al-Din.

All these clubs were forming platforms for promoting nationalist feeling and spreading anti-British movement. And it was rumoured that all these three clubs were founded by the Nazis for propaganda purposes.

Meanwhile, many other political societies were mushrooming, and British Intelligence believed that most of them were also receiving money from the German Legation.

Among these were Jam'iat al-Shubban al-Mislimin (The Society of Muslim Youth), and Jam'iat al-Hidayah al-Islamiyyah (The Society of Islamic Guidance).

Added to which were the:

Syrian Jam'iat 'Usbat al-Amal al-Qawmi (The Society of the League of National Action), founded in Damascus and now with a branch in Baghdad; Jam'iat al-Jawal al-Arabi (The Society of Arab Scouts) and Jam'iat al-Difa"an Falsteen (The Society for the Defence of Palestine), founded by Dr Darwish al-Miqdadi and Said al-Haj Thabit respectively.

All these societies, the report stressed, were active in promoting Nazi propaganda.

The majority of the Iraqi intelligentsia, the report conceded, were either active members or associates of such clubs and societies. Many of them were in influential government posts or otherwise of good social and financial standing.

One illustration, given in the report of the membership of these clubs and societies, is that several doctors from the Royal Hospital at Baghdad belonged to one or the other of them.

The report goes on to note that the same thing was true of staff in the Ministries of Education, Defence, Communications and Public Work, Economics and Foreign Affairs...


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