The Nazi Muslim Soldiers
The image above is that of German Nazi-era Muslim soldiers in prayer. They are from the German 13th Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS Handschar, a full Muslim division of the German army. The unit, which mostly consisted of Bosnian Muslims, was formed in March 1943 after Germany conquered Croatia, which included Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bosnian Muslims were accepted into the Nazi ranks because of Heinrich Himmler’s belief that the people of Croatia were of Aryan descent, not Slavic. The Nazis also believed that the new division would help them win the support of most Muslims around the world. In time, the division also included Croatian Roman Catholics, who formed 10 percent of its ranks.
The unit was Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al Husseni’s initiative. Hajj Amin al Husseni had led a failed coup in Iraq and had been exiled to Italy and then Berlin, Germany, where he encouraged Bosnian Muslims to join the ranks of the German army. Husseni encouraged the killings of Jews in North Africa and Palestine. He also wanted the Luftwaffe to bomb Tel Aviv. After the war, Husseni fled to France, where he was arrested. He later escaped and fled to Egypt, where the Allies were discouraged from re-arresting him because of his status in the Arab world.
Shaving The Hair Of French Women
After France was liberated toward the end of World War II, French citizens who had supported the invading German troops in any form were tracked down and had their heads forcefully shaved as a badge of dishonor. The photograph shown above is that of a woman whose head was being shaved in Montelimer, France, on August 29, 1944. As many as 20,000 French citizens had their heads shaved in public, the majority of which were women. The punishment was often carried out by locals or members of the French Resistance and was done everywhere from the homes of the victims to public squares in the presence of a cheering crowd.
During the same period, Germany also decreed that women who had sexual relations with non-Aryans or prisoners of war should have their heads shaved. Shaving the hair of women seen as fugitives didn’t get its start during World War II—it’s also recorded to have been done in Europe during the Middle Ages, when it was used as punishment for adulterous women.
Yevgeny Khaldei was in Moscow when the Soviet army overran Berlin, but he quickly left for Berlin on the orders of top Soviet officials, possibly Joseph Stalin himself. His orders were to produce images that depicted the Soviet victory in Germany. Yevgeny got to Berlin and inspected several locations, including Tempelhof Airport and the Brandenburg Gate, before settling for the Reichstag building. Yevgeny took 36 different shots of the scene, which was to be used for Soviet propaganda. Interestingly, a Soviet army unit had initially hoisted its flag on the building not long after the town was captured, but that scenario had gone unrecorded.