Freedom to Fascism | Hitlers Soviet Muslim Legions
During World War II, hundreds of thousands of foreign peoples joined with Hitler’s legions to bring theirs people into special status in Hitler’s New Order. Tens of thousands among them were Muslims, where the majority of them came from Soviet Union. Under the banner of the crescent and the swastika, these Soviet Muslims believe to become holy warriors to liberated theirs land. But the end of this unholy alliance was a disaster for them.
The Pro-Nazi Soviet Muslims
When the German Army invaded Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941 they saw many of their opponent inhabitants welcomed them as liberators. One of the group of Soviet citizens that felt had reason to rejoiced the coming of the Teutonic legion invaders were Soviet Muslims.
Many of Soviet Muslims hates domination of Russians upon them. They still remembered theirs golden age under the Muslim khans, emirs, and sultans before they fall into Russian Czardom between 17th and 19th centuries. Actually, when the Czardom liquidated during Bolshevik Revolution, the Muslim Soviet got a chances to liberated themselves from theirs Russian masters and formed some independent states with help from theirs Turkish brothers and her German allied. Even for a while they thought to build a Greater Turkey Sultanate like Pan-Turanian longing.
In Caucasus, an all-Islam army, composed of Azeris, Ajars, and other Caucasian Muslims, assist the Turkish army under Nuri Pasha, who was known for his Pan-Turanian ideas. They besieged many non-Muslims towns in Caucasus that refused surrender to them and starved it into submissions. Some of them implicated with the massacres of Armenians.
The same thing developed in Central Asia. In Kokand, a free government of Turkestan was proclaimed, while the emirs of Khiva and Bukhara asserted their independence. The Turkish-Tartar peoples in Crimea and Volga also arise against the Russians.
Unfortunately, after succeeded consolidated their power in Russia, the Bolshevist penetrated these areas. One by one centers of Muslim resistance to communism fell. The attempt to free these Muslim areas from Russian rule had failed, and the Soviet government succeeded in reestablishing its authority over the whole Caucasus and Turkestan. But the native peoples rejected this Russian-Communist authority. Some of them rise against the Moscow rule when the communist forced collectivized farms and atheistic attitudes upon them. One of the uprisings erupted in Chechnya, where the Cechens under an ex-communist named Hasan Israilov rise against the Soviet regime.
The unrest of these Muslim peoples didn’t escape from Hitler intention. When many of Muslim Soviet POWs enthusiastic wished to join with the victorious Wehrmacht against theirs ruler, theirs aspirations get a green light from the German dictator. On December, 1941 a top secret memorandum ordered that the OKW was to create two Muslim units: the Turkestanisch Legion, consisted Muslim volunteers from Central Asia, like Turkomans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirghizs, Karakalpaks, and Tadjiks; and Kaukasisch-Mohammedan Legion from Caucasian Muslims volunteers, like Azeris, Daghestans, Chechens, Ingushes, and Lezghins. Beside a separated unit consisted Muslim Tartars, Wolgatatarische Legion, was formed in Poland on January 1942.
The German courting of the Soviet Muslims was part of Hitler’s lunatic schemes for bringing Turkey into his side and for advancing to control the oil fields in Middle East and Baku. The Soviet Muslims fighting units were supposed to take part in bringing the whole Middle East into the German orbit. As Hitler said in December 1942, “I consider only the Muslims to be reliable…I see no danger in the establishment of purely Muslim units.” As propaganda tools the Nazis attempt to revive and encourage Pan-Turanian tendency in Turkey and within Soviet Muslims population.
The Nazi’s Muslim Project
When the German army marches into Caucasus, they bring with them theirs Muslim supporters to fire rebellions within Soviet Muslim peoples. That move made a great-worried within Soviet leadership. As Konstantin Oumansky, Soviet ambassador in Washington, said on one of the blackest days of the Black Summer of 1942:
“I must said that I am a little worried about the Caucasus…The Tartars in the Crimea are, to a large extent, disloyal… they never liked us. It is well known that during the Crimean War they gladly ‘collaborated’, as we’d now say, with the English and the French. And, above all, there are religious factors, which the Germans have not failed to exploit. Nor do I trust the mountain peoples of the Caucasus. Like the Crimean Tartars, they are Muslims, and they still remember the Russian conquest of the Caucasus which ended not so very long ago – 1863.”
The Soviet authorities were, indeed, rather worried about the Caucasus Muslim nationalists there. The uneasiness extended, to some extent, also to certain Muslim nations of Central Asia, particularly the Uzbeks, among whom Muslim traditions were still strong.