Sunday, March 4, 2007

Edwin Black: Iran worked with Nazi Germany

"Iran’s links to the Third Reich began during the pre-World War II years when it welcomed Gestapo agents and other operatives to Tehran, allowing them to use it as a Middle East base for agitation against the British and the region’s Jews.

"Key among these Gestapo men was Fritz Grobba, Berlin’s envoy to the Middle East, and often called “the German Lawrence” because he promised a Pan-Arab state stretching from Casablanca to Tehran.

"Relations between Berlin and Tehran were strong from the moment Hitler came to power in 1933, when Reza Shah Pahlavi’s nation was still known as Persia.

"The shah became a stalwart admirer of Hitler, Nazism and the concept of the Aryan master race. He also sought the Nazis’ help in reducing British petro-political domination.

"So intense was the shah’s identification with the Third Reich that in 1935 he renamed his ancient country “Iran,” which in Farsi means Aryan and refers to the Proto-Indo-European lineage that Nazi racial theorists and Persian ethnologists cherished.

"The idea for the name change was suggested by the Iranian ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of Hitler’s trusted banker Hjalmar Schacht. From that point, all Iranians were constantly reminded that their country shared a bond with the Nazi regime.

"Shortly after World War II began in 1939, the mufti of Jerusalem crafted a strategic alliance with Hitler to exchange Iraqi oil for active Arab and Islamic participation in the murder of Jews in the Mideast and Eastern Europe, predicated on support for a Pan-Arab state and Arab rule over Palestine.

"During the war years, Iran became a haven and headquarters for Gestapo agents and German operatives. It was from Iran that the seeds of the abortive 1941 pro-Nazi coup in Baghdad were planted."

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