School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Dr David Motadel in History Today cover story

Dr David Motadel, Chancellor's Fellow in History, has written the cover story for September's issue of History Today. (Published 11 September 2015)

Dr Motadel’s article addresses the Third Reich and the Muslim World during the Second World War.

At the height of the Second World War, German troops encountered large Muslim populations in North Africa, the Balkans, the Crimea and the Caucasus. Nazi officials saw Islam as a powerful force and one hostile to the same enemies as Germany: the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and Jews.

The article not only discusses Berlin’s attempts to promote Nazi Germany as a patron of Islam, but also shows that the realities on the ground were often very complex. In the first weeks after the invasion of the Soviet Union, thousands of Muslims, specifically prisoners of war, were executed by SS squads on the assumption that their circumcision proved that they were Jewish.

In North Africa, the Balkans, and the Eastern front, German soldiers were confronted with diverse Muslim populations, including Muslim Roma and Jewish converts to Islam. Historians interested in Nazi Germany’s relations with the Islamic world have so far predominantly focused on the collaboration of prominent figures like the Mufti of Jerusalem. The article shows that the history of Nazi Germany’s engagement with Islam was far more complex than that. And more generally, it contributes to our broader understanding of the politics of religion in the Second World War.

Read the full article on History Today

Dr Motadel’s staff profile