Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hitler's Muslim Legions

6 days left to listen to this one!

Hitler's Muslim Legions
BBC Radio 4

It was after Germany's invasion of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in 1941 that Hitler's attention was first drawn to the potential for Muslim recruits to swell his ranks. For the many thousands of captured Soviet Muslims, the opportunity to serve in the Wehrmacht offered an escape from the brutality and starvation of the prison camps. Elsewhere, a major recruitment drive amongst Bosnian Muslims led to tens of thousands signing up for the Waffen-SS. Formed into exclusive Muslim units, these men fought in some of the most brutal campaigns of the entire war.

This programme investigates why Hitler and Himmler apparently cast aside their Nazi ideal of an Aryan master race, justifying the admission of Islam into their ranks. It asks what attracted these men to fight for the Third Reich, how they were treated by their German officers and how they conducted themselves in the bedlam of war. Were they hopeless soldiers who committed unspeakable atrocities; or did they fight bravely for the Fuhrer?

We examine the fate of these Muslims at the end of the war. With Hitler dead and the Third Reich defeated there was nothing to protect them, and most were killed as traitors.


Grandméchantloup said...
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Grandméchantloup said...

The Muslim divisions have infamous on a percieved postwar reputation that anything else - at the time, they were of little consequence.

In the main, their remit was simply to continue what had gone on before, but with a smarter uniform topped by a fez with silver Totenkopf. They were actually more effective for their looting skills more than anything else, and many were shot for desertion.

A fascinating story, but not much more than that.