Intelligence officers, SS generals, propaganda specialists and even Holocaust functionaries went to Egypt after the collapse of the Third Reich to continue to persecute Jews.
Geraldine Schwarz, who has made a film on the subject called Exile Nazi: The Promise of the Orient, said the covert recruitment drive was the brainchild of Egypt’s King Farouk I.
“He commissioned a confidant to build a new army,” she told Die Welt newspaper. The king’s man was Adel Sabit, entrusted to build the anti-Israel force along with former Afrika Korps Lieutenant General Artur Schmitt. “The Arab League wanted it so,” she said.
Arabs failed in their first war against the Israelis in 1947, so the king and his ministers looked to “professionals” from Germany, as the old colonial powers of France and Britain were despised.
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Mahmout Sabit, the cousin of Adel Sabit, told her at his home in Cairo: “The secretary-general of the Arab League decided the Germans were the best, with the most knowledge, the actual inventors of modern mobile warfare.”
He said Schmitt had been living after the war in a Cairo hotel under the name of Goldstein. His orders were to recruit his countrymen with the aim of building a million-strong army under a unified command structure and “common military doctrine”.
One report from Schmitt states: “The defeat of the Arabs against Israel was the result of an incompetent Egyptian leadership, which was not in a position to take advantage gained in the first week, to impose the force of their actions upon the Jews and destroy the State of Israel in a Blitzkrieg in a maximum of two weeks.”
Mr Sabit said Schmitt did not know Egypt’s neighbour Syria hired 50 Nazis between 1948-9, including many former SS soldiers, to help mould its army and intelligence service to rival Israel’s. One of the men it brought to Syria was Walter Rauff.
Rauff was, at the war’s end, the SS security chief for northern Italy, a wanted war criminal who helped develop mobile gas-wagons to kill Jews and other enemies of the regime.
“Allah in Heaven, Hitler on Earth” was a common slogan in Syrian capital Damascus during the war. It, too, wanted a German-led force to take on Israel, and Rauff was tasked with rebuilding Syrian intelligence services “along Gestapo lines”.
In the end, Syria, Egypt and other Arab countries proved no match, militarily or technologically, for Israel. The old Nazis either moved away or died there, except for Schmitt who returned to Germany and became a right-wing MP in Bavaria in the 1960s.