STUTTGART, Germany (Agence France-Presse) — The Nazis developed plans to slaughter half a million Jews who fled to Palestine during the Holocaust, according to a new study presented yesterday.
A research team from Stuttgart University in southern Germany found evidence that the Nazi occupiers in Athens established a military unit ready to wipe out the Jews who had escaped the systematic genocide in Europe.
The troops were under the command of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrikakorps during World War II.
Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cueppers of Stuttgart University based their research on three years’ study of German wartime records, notably from the Foreign Ministry and the military archive in the western city of Freiburg.
The historians said in their new book, “Germans, Jews, Genocide — The Holocaust as History and Present,” that only Rommel’s defeat in 1942 in Egypt by the British prevented the spread of the Holocaust to Palestine.
If Rommel’s army had defeated his enemy, General Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s troops and made it to Palestine, the unit would have received orders to slay all 500,000 Jews there.
The units were to work like the task forces that exterminated hundreds of thousands of Jews in Eastern Europe.
The authors said the Nazis were counting on the Palestinians to assist in the plan because of their traditionally good ties with the Germans.
“The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the most important collaborator with the Nazis on the Arab side and an uncompromising anti-Semite,” they said.
“He showed what a decisive role hatred of Jews played in the project to promote German-Arab understanding.”
They said that Sheik al-Husseini held several meetings with Adolf Eichmann, the man who organized the logistics of the Holocaust for the Nazis.
“The history of the Middle East would have been completely different and a Jewish state would never have been founded if the plan by the Germans and Arabs had been implemented,” Mr. Mallmann said.
An estimated 6 million European Jews were killed under the Nazis’ “Final Solution.”