Photos from World War II: Although thousands, even millions, of photographs were taken during World War II, only a handful ever became popular. But sometimes it’s the little-known photographs that reveal to us the cruelty and uncertainty the war brought upon humanity.
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10 The Nazi Muslim Soldiers
The image above is that of German Nazi-era Muslim soldiers in prayer. They are from the German 13th Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS Handschar, a full Muslim division of the German army. The unit, which mostly consisted of Bosnian Muslims, was formed in March 1943 after Germany conquered Croatia, which included Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnian Muslims were accepted into the Nazi ranks because of Heinrich Himmler’s belief that the people of Croatia were of Aryan descent, not Slavic. The Nazis also believed that the new division would help them win the support of most Muslims around the world. In time, the division also included Croatian Roman Catholics, who formed 10 percent of its ranks.
The unit was Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al Husseni’s initiative. Hajj Amin al Husseni had led a failed coup in Iraq and had been exiled to Italy and then Berlin, Germany, where he encouraged Bosnian Muslims to join the ranks of the German army. Husseni encouraged the killings of Jews in North Africa and Palestine. He also wanted the Luftwaffe to bomb Tel Aviv. After the war, Husseni fled to France, where he was arrested. He later escaped and fled to Egypt, where the Allies were discouraged from re-arresting him because of his status in the Arab world.