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Emet m'Tsiyon

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glamourous Glimpses of Life in Baghdad around the Time of the Farhud, 1941

Freya Stark, a British political agent in Baghdad in the early 1940s, has left glimpses of life in the city around the time of the Farhud.

Did I tell you that the black-out here had to be stopped because everyone knifed everyone else in the dark? The papers said it had been such a success there was no need to continue. [quoting her own letter of the time; Dust in the Lion's Paw, p 127]
The Iraqi army in 1942, a year after the fall of the pro-Nazi Kilani government
was largely Nazi at least [p 131]
. . . the army was still largely Nazi in sympathy [pp 131-132]

By July [1942] the country [Iraq] was seething with disguised Nazis and swastikas were appearing everywhere -- even on the back of my car. The Jews were doing us almost more harm than the enemy, afraid not so much of the Germans as of the Iraqis [p 133]
Now, if she couldn't understand why the Jews in Iraq at that time should have been more afraid of the Iraqis, that is, the Arab Iraqis, than of the Germans, then she must have been very thick.
There were few Germans in Iraq in 1942. The Nazis had helped to inspire the Arab pogromists, but the pogromists were Arab Muslims. Of course, the Nazis must have been pleased that Arabs were helping in their work of mass murder of Jews, but the Germans were far away and the Iraqi Arabs were very close geographically to the Jews. I would ask further why the Jews should have trusted the British, since the British army had stayed outside the city and allowed the pogrom to proceed for two days [June 1 & 2, 1941] without intervening, even though some in the army would have been ready to intervene to stop the pogrom, so it seems from Somerset de Chair's account.
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Coming: Iraqi investigators find the British-appointed muft of Jerusalem guilty, among others, for preparing the way for the Farhud; Jews in Jerusalem, etc.


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