The Holocaust Affected Jews in Arab Countries

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(This Original Essay is Copyrighted by Shelomo Alfassa - All Rights Reserved)


During the period of the Holocaust, some 5,000 North African Jews were uprooted from their homes, and thousands were drafted into forced labor internment camps. Some were deported to Italy and died in extermination camps in Europe. The Jewish quarter of Benghazi, Libya was sacked and 2,000 Jews were deported. Under Axis and Vichy rule in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, & Libya, Jews were denied rights granted to them during colonial rule, including citizenship. Economic restrictions were imposed and Jews were sent to forced labor camps where many perished. The Jewish prisoners were dispersed over 30 camps, which for all practical purposes were no different from concentration camps.

During this period, the Great Synagogue in Tunis, was taken over by the Nazis and used as a horse stable, just like the main synagogue in Krakow, Poland. Although it was not a common event, on several occasions between 1942-1944, German truck convoys deported Jews from Morocco to the death camps of Europe. By late 1942, there were 5 different camps in Algeria, all together they held 4,470 persons, including Jews. In February of 1943, an American reported that "concentration camps" existed in Morocco. The report indicated that the situation has "deteriorated seriously in the past two months." Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum shows a total of 17 slave labor concentration camps in North Africa: 3 in Morocco, 3 in Algeria, 7 in Tunisia, and 4 in Libya. There, some of the prisoners were tortured and murdered. Other internees worked as slaves in the desert building the Trans-Sahara railway.

In addition, while the entire Jewish world has heard of Kristallnacht, few have heard of the Farhud, where Arabs that were Nazi sympathizers in Baghdad, killed, maimed and committed numerous atrocities against the local Jewish community. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's (USHMM) mission statement describes the Holocaust as the "Systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945" --this is not just an incomplete description--it is erroneous.

This essay is just a brief overview of Nazi activities in Arab countries. The intimate relationship and collusion between the Germans and their Arab partners is now well known. We also must remember Nazi activity took place in Syria, Egypt and other locations; much has been written about this topic, this essay strives only to be a pithy synopsis which seeks to bring much needed attention to the subject. Today historians and genocide scholars realize that Hitler's hand and influence stretched across North Africa from Morocco to Egypt and through the Arab countries to the north and east. The goal of the German leadership was to cleanse not only Europe, but the whole world of Jews.

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This page contains a single entry by Shelomo Alfassa published on November 18, 2007 7:39 AM.

Hanuka is About Victory in a Bloody War, Not Just About Oil was the previous entry in this blog.

Hayim Azses of Jerusalem: Mourning the Loss and Remembering the Man is the next entry in this blog.

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