April 13, 2016, 5:30pm
Muslims Under Nazi Rule From 1941-1945
Presenter: David Motadel (London School of Economics)
Location: Stiteler Hall B21, 208 South 37th Street

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 paper will not only discuss Berlin’s attempts to promote Nazi Germany as a patron of Islam, but also show that the realities on the ground were often very complex: In the first weeks after Hitler’s 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 heterogeneous 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 paper will show that the history of Nazi Germany’s engagement with Islam was far more complex than that. More generally, it will contribute to our broader understanding of the politics of religion in the Second World War.

David Motadel will take up an Assistant Professorship in International History at the London School of Economics (LSE) this summer. He studied history at the University of Freiburg (2002-2005) and completed his MPhil (2006) and PhD (2010) in history at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar. He subsequently took up a Research Fellowship in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (2010-15). He has held visiting positions at Harvard (2007-8), Yale (2009-10), and Oxford (2011-12), and he is currently a Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh (2015-16). Motadel is the author of 'Islam and Nazi Germany's War (Harvard University Press, 2014), which was awarded the Fraenkel Prize, and the editor of 'Islam and the European Empires' (Oxford University Press, 2014). He regularly writes on history and current affairs for newspapers and magazines; his essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Times Literary Supplement, and The London Review of Books, among others.