on 9 November 2014
Although Jonathan Trigg deserves recognition for trying to cover one of the more complex issues of the Second World War, i.e. the involvement of Islam in the conflict, this book is poorly written, with a linguistic jargon that is both sloppy and speculative.
The way Trigg ascribe the characteristics of the historical figures is not supported by any reference to sources that actually supports his claims. There are also errors as well as repetition of myths and lies.
One example of such a persistent myth that Trigg reiterates, is that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem met with SS-Hauptscharführer Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in October 1937. This never happened since the Mufti was kept under house arrest by British authorities and Eichmann and his travel companion had their tourist visas revoked when they arrived in Haifa, Oct 2, 1937 and were hence not able to travel to Jerusalem. The Eichmann travel report from Nov 4, 1937 and the protocol from the Eichmann trial where the journey is also addressed confirm this. Both these documents are easily accessible on several Internet sites.
There are numerous similar factual errors and unsupported claims, which make the book hazardous to use as a source of information.
For those interested in the Islamic combat units on the Eastern front, I would recommend professor Rolf-Dieter Müller's book “The unknown Eastern Front”, English ed. 2014, ISBN 978 1 78076 890 8
This book is a bit of a dog's dinner. It is clearly written, but it's main thrust is not clear. Were the Muslim soldiers of the Reich victims or complicit traitors? Were they good troops or pretty useless troops? It would be a help if Trigg explored these opposites properly. After all the truth is rarely simplistic. howver, I can't help feeling that these dodgy formations get approval for just wearing a German uniform. Fighting for any other nation these troops would have been regarded as a dangerous rabble, and probably not worth a serious book. In fact the auxiliaries who fought for other nations have received just such a treatment from historians of the Second World War. Logically, there is little to chose between all such troops - except that lovely Nazi kit - and fezes too!
Incidentally, the Turkish fez was designed to symbolise subjugation, which is why it was banned by Attaturk when he seized power in Turkey in the 1920s, making it a secuar nation. It's so typical of the Nazis that they were 20+ years behind the times AND chose a slave symbol for their deluded cannon-fodder.
The Waffen SS Handschar Division could be perhaps regarded as an exception. The German OKH regarded them as second rate troops, rather than negligable like their fellow Muslim units. The recruitment appeals were actually build around their faith as much as their nationalism (regionalism really). Each battalion had its own Imam too. However we read that the division had to be filled out with Catholics, with a supposedly Waffen SS volunteer division rapidly becoming a typical late war scraping up of conscripts. A man had to be pretty desperate, ideologically insane, or stupid, to join the losing side so late in the war. Hence desertion was a serious problem for most of these units most of the time, a problem rarerly fould in normal Heer formations, even at the worst of times.
Nonetheless there is an interesting story in here. I know of better books on Handschar but of no competitor at all on the general theme. It is also the only overview reasonably available in English. Worth a place on your military bookshelf, (It's still on mine)but worth some critical consideration as well.