Germany Reminds Netanyahu That Hitler Was Responsible For The Holocaust


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Holocaust experts are accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of rewriting history by claiming that Palestinians gave Hitler the idea for his genocidal campaign against European Jews.

Referring to attacks on European Jews before the official outbreak of World War II in 1939, Netanyahu said that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, “instigated” the killings.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ [Hitler] asked. [al-Husseini] said, ‘Burn them.’”

Holocaust historians and political officials in Israel and around the world have been quick to decry the inaccuracies Netanyahu recounted to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. They have called his remarks “dangerous historical distortion” and “a great shame.”

The initial plan to carry out a mass killing of European Jews came up in 1939 — long before Hitler met with al-Husseini in 1941, Meir Litvak, a professor at Tel Aviv University, told the Israeli news site Ynet. It reported:

While the initial plan was to send Europe’s Jews to an area north of the Ural Mountains so that they would die of disease, he said, the plan was nixed when the Soviet Union did not surrender in 1941. At that point, Litvak said, the extermination idea arose.

“Husseini supported the extermination of the Jews, he tried to prevent rescuing of Jews, he recruited Arabs for the SS,” said Litvak. “He was an abominable person, but this must not minimize the scale of Hitler’s guilt.”

Zevaha Galon, a left-wing Israeli legislator, noted that Hitler was responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of Jews before he met with al-Husseini.

“Perhaps we should exhume the corpses of the 33,771 Jews murdered in Babi Yar [in Ukraine] in September 1941, two months before the Mufti and Hitler met, and bring them up to speed on the fact that the Nazis had no intention of destroying them,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

German historian Stefan Ihrig added that al-Husseini was connected with Hitler, but that connection “cannot be used to shift blame away from the Nazis.”

German officials were much more willing to point to Hitler as the prime culprit for the Holocaust than the head of the Jewish state.

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” said Steffen Seibert, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way.”

“We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own,” he added.

The comments come during a time of deep strife between Israelis and Palestinians. In the last month, eight Israelis have been killed in attacks perpetrated by Palestinians. At least 40 Palestinians have been killed in the same period — about half of whom were killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Netanyahu of absolving Hitler of war crimes out of animosity for Palestinians.

“It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much so that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust,” he said.

For his part, Netanyahu said that he did not intend to give Hitler a free pass.

“I did not intend to absolve Hitler of responsibility for his diabolical destruction of European Jewry,” Netanyahu said after critique of his speech swept Israel. “Hitler was responsible for the Final Solution extermination of six million Jews, he made the decision.”

Netanyahu has leveled blame for the Holocaust against the Palestinian religious leader before. In a 2012 speech, he called al-Husseini “one of the leading architects of the Final Solution.”

“This isn’t the first time Netanyahu [has distorted] historical facts,” Israeli legislator Itzik Shumuli said, “But a lie of this magnitude is the first.”

The Israeli Prime Minister has also been found to have distorted facts about Iran’s nuclear capabilities and about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress