There but for the grace of God . . .
A book by two German authors has detailed Nazi plans to exterminate the Jews of Palestine if the Axis powers had won the Battle of El Alamein and proceeded into the Middle East. According to the authors (Klaus Michael Mallmann and Martin Cueppers), an SS battalion based in Athens was to follow Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's forces into Palestine, using mobile gassing vans of a kind earlier utilized in Poland to kill the half-million or so Jews in the territory, who were concentrated in a number of large cities (primarily Tel Aviv) and a few hundred agriicultural settlements. The Germans also expected substantial cooperation from Palestinian Arabs, one of the most extreme Arab personalities, Haj Amin El-Husseini (the Mufti of Jerusalem), having been a longtime guest of the Nazis and sharing with them a strong desire to see the Jews eliminate before the postwar era. The plan was foiled by the Axis defeat at the hands of primarily British forces at El Alamein, and the subsequent surrender of German and Italian forces in North Africa (1943). Whether by accident or design, the story was reported in an Italian newspaper (La Repubblica) opposite another story about American preparations for a possible assault on Iran, which many in the Administration view as a contemporary equivalent to Nazi Germany, at least where the Jews are concerned.