Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that a Palestinian leader told the Nazis to kill Jews, Germany reacted by saying that it was responsible for the Holocaust.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said they are “very clear in our minds” that the Nazis were culpable for the atrocious killing of Jews, as reported by BBC.
The response came after Netanyahu said at the World Zionist Congress that “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 [to Palestine].’” When Hitler asked, “What should I do with them?” Al-Husseini replied, “Burn them.”
While the assertion that the Grand Mufti, who met Hitler in November 1941, gave the idea to kill Jews has been made previously, it has been widely dismissed. The killing of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis had already begun by the time Hitler met with Al-Husseini. Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Merkel, said there was “no reason to change our view of history.”
“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” he said. “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.”
Netanyahu’s assertion elicited criticism and outrage. Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, accused the Israeli prime minister of attempting to absolve Hitler. Opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, said it was a “dangerous historical distortion.” He wrote on his Facebook page that the claim that the Grand Mufti gave the idea for the Holocaust “minimizes the Holocaust, Nazism and… Hitler’s part in our people’s terrible disaster.” Israeli defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, contradicted Netanyahu, saying on Israel’s Army Radio that it was Hitler who “initiated” the mass murdering of Jews.
In a statement, Palestine Liberation Organization’s Secretary General Saeb Erekat said, “It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews.”
Netanyahu later defended his comments, saying that he “didn’t mean to absolve Hitler of responsibility, but to show that the father of the Palestinian nation wanted to destroy Jews even without occupation,” as reported by the Independent.