Identity, conflict and cooperation in international river systems, Jack Kalpakian, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004
[ISBN 0754633381, 9780754633389, page 134]
The Jewish community was among the mid-sized communities in the country at the time of Iraq’s creation. At a time when Iraq’s population was much smaller, it numbered somewhere between 100,000-300,000 making it a significant player in Iraqi life, especially because it was cencentrated in Baghdad. The troubles started in 1933 when the Assyrian Christians became the victims of an Army campaign designed to thin their numbers and to destroy their mlitary power. This massacre was not the first and unfortunately not the last, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the repression of the Assyrians continued until the fall of Saddam. It foreshadowed the pogroms the Jewish community was to suffer a few years later…
Faisal’s son, Ghazi, became king in 1933. Ghazi was ill-tempered, bigoted and an admirer of Nazi Germany. With the king turning to Nazi Germany, the position of the Jewish community eroded… In 1941, a coup brought a pro-Nazi party to power, and Britain (from Palestine and the Trans-Jordan) and British India (from the Persian Gulf) sent armies to restore the empire’s clients to power. But on the orders of the British Ambassador, Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, the Anglo-Indian Army and the Trans- Jordanian Arab Legion did not enter the center of Baghdad for several days, allowing the ragtag remnants of the Iraqi army’s pro-German factions to massacre and kill unarmed Iraqi Jewish civilians in what became known as the farhud pogrom. …
Encyclopedia of the modern Middle East, [Volumen 2, Richard W. Bulliet, ISBN 0028960114, 9780028960111, Macmillan Reference USA 1996, page 642]
After the defeat of Rashid Ali al-Kaylani’s pro-Nazi coup and his flight from Baghdad pn June 1 and 2, 1941. Jewish life and property were attacked in what came to be called in Baghdad the Farhud. The looting was started by Iraqi soldiers who had been allowed to roam the streets of Baghdad…
Memories of Eden: a journey through Jewish Baghdad [by Violette Shamash, Mira Rocca, Tony Rocca, Memories of Eden, 2008
ISBN 0955709504, 9780955709500, page 192]
There were few doubts in our minds how perilous our position was, with the city’s policing now in the hands of the Al-Futuwwa mobs.
Nationalism, minorities and diasporas: identities and rights in the Middle East, [Volume 8 of Library of modern Middle East studies, by Kirsten E. Schulze, Martin Stokes, Colm Campbell, Tauris Academic Studies, 1996
…the pogrom of the Jews of Baghdad on 1-2 June 1941, known as the Farhud. For two days, Muslim masses massacred, wounded, raped, and looted, while the British forces, informed about these horrible events, abstained from…
The Farhud took place Sunday and Monday, June 1st and 2nd 1941, the two days of Shabu’oth. The word Farhud denotes the breakdown of law and order, where life and property are in peril.
Jews lived in Babylonia (modern Iraq) for over 2,400 years, since the destruction of the first Beth Hamiqdash. Jews were treated tolerantly by the Moslems and, while abuses (such as hooliganism, snatching of men’s fez caps and even murders) had been recorded from time to time, the Farhud is the only sad event of sizable magnitude.
Jews lived mainly in Baghdad and, in 1870, started moving to other towns such as Amarah, Ali Agharbi, Qalaat Salih and Basrah.
Mr. Naim Dallal spoke in depth about his experiences in Baghdad and Iran and thanked Dr. Khabbaza for information he provided for his speech The development of Basrah which started to flourish again after the opening of the Suez Canal, adversely affected Aleppo in Syria and northern Iraq.
The fact that the majority of the Jewish community was concentrated in Baghdad explains why the Baghdadi Jews bore the brunt of the Farhud.
Some reasons for the farhud:
A) Political: under British occupation (1914/1918–1922) Jews gained confidence, felt secure and did not tolerate any mockery or physical abuse. Some went as far as to proclaim themselves British citizens or proteges — this was strongly resented by the Moslems.
Mrs. Rachel Manasseh spoke eloquently about the Farhud and the events that led up to the Farhud. B) Economic: Jews were very active in all trade and finance fields — at the same time they were a sizable percentage of the civil service staff.
On August 27, 1934 numerous Jews were dismissed by Arshad Alumari, Minister of Economics and Communication, and an unofficial quota was set up for Jews to be appointed in the civil service and for Jews to be admitted into secondary schools and colleges.
C) Hatred of the Jews: stirred by several organizations headed by such prominent officials as Dr. Fadil Al Jamali (Inspector General of the
The event was MC’d by Mr. Robert Aizer.
Ministry of Education), Dr. Saib Showkat (Director of Baghdad Central State Hospital), General Taha Al Hashimi (Chief of Staff ), General Salah Aldin Al Sabbagh. The Palestinians Fawzi Al–Qauqji Darwish Al Miqdadi, Mufti Haj Amin Al Husseini together with the Syrians Farid Zayn Ad–Din and Dr. Amin Ruwayha were also very active in these organizations.
The driving force behind this anti British, anti Jewish, anti Zionist movement was the German embassy in Baghdad headed by Dr F. Grobba which generously supplied money, books and film.
Mr. Joe Eden was Director of Social Services in Israel, when in two months, he witnessed the arrival of 200,000 Jews from Iraq. Leading up to the Farhud.
April 1,1941: The Royal palace in Baghdad was surrounded by the army. The regent and his entourage escaped to Habbaniyeh, from there to Basrah and thence to Amman in Transjordan. April 3, 1941 Nazi sympathizer Rashid Ali Al Gaylani and four generals led a military coup, deposed the absent regent and were the real rulers of Iraq with the pro–Nazi junta.
At once hoodlums and students demonstrated in the streets against the British and the Jews.
People of all ages came to hear and learn. Looting of property and beating up of Jews took place in Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Irbil, Basrah, Amara and Fallujah. The killing of Jews took place in Baghdad alone.
May 30, 1941: Yunis Al Sabawi, head of Nazi groups, declared himself governor of central southern Iraq. He ordered Jews through Hakham Sasson Khedouri, to remain in their homes Saturday, May 31, and on June 1 and 2—Shabu’oth. He had the intention of slaughtering the Jews that weekend using the Nazi youth organizations he was heading. However, miraculously, Sabawi was deported to the Iranian border that same day.
May 31,1941: It was announced that the Regent with his entourage would be returning to Baghdad next day.
Mrs. Bianca Aizer read a fascinating personal account written for the Midrash by Dr. Simha Nathaniel who was a nurse in the hospital in Baghdad. The Farhud.
June 1, ’41, the first day of Shabu’oth: A delegation of Jews went to the airport to welcome the Regent. On their way back they were attacked on Al Khurr bridge by soldiers and civilians. One Jew was killed, and many injured who were taken to the hospital. There were attacks and killings in Al Rusafa and Abu Sifyan; terror continued until 10 p.m. : Jews were killed randomly, hundreds were injured, women and children were raped in front of their relatives, babies crushed, houses set on fire, looting…and so on.
June 2 ,1941: Policemen, soldiers and slum dwellers from Al Karkh entered the scene, and participated in the killing and the looting everywhere.
At 5 p.m., curfew was declared and anyone who showed himself in the streets was shot on the spot.
Reports vary—official Iraqi reports mention 187 killed, others say as many as one thousand, but it seems likely that about 400 innocents were killed with numerous wounded.
It would be inappropriate, however, not to mention some humanitarian acts carried out by some Iraqis.
1) Many Moslems opened their homes and fed and protected the Jews. It had been reported that some Moslems apologized for not being able to provide Kasher meat and/or poultry to their guests.
2) Looters in Basrah on May 1941, were stopped by a distinguished Moslem notable, Salih Bashayan, who appointed guards from his own men to protect Jewish property
3) On June 1, 1941 pressed by the mob to oust the injured Jews from the hospital where they were treated, Jamil Dallali, the director, called the police who dispersed the hostile crowd.
4) On June 1, 1941 Dr. Saib Showkat, Dean of the Baghdad Medical College, chief of surgery and administrator of Baghdad Central Hospital entered the surgery ward and scrubbed his hands getting ready to operate. Doctors and nurses standing idly by, had no option but to follow his example. In a few hours, all patients (mostly Jews) were attended to and moved into clean beds.
Answering a question posed concerning the Farhud. Mr. Eliyahou Shamash and Mr. Sami Qattan When Jewish nurses reported threats of rape by Iraqi wounded officers being treated at the hospital, Dr. Showkat sent the officers to their beds and warned on the megaphone that anyone disobeying his order would be shot by him with two guns in his belt. There was no argument—everyone obeyed.
On June 2nd, Jewish patients were transferred to Mir Elias hospital where Jewish doctors acknowledged that the treatment provided had been highly professional.
The 1941 Farhoud was premeditated
The Farhoud of June 1941, in which rioting mobs murdered some 180 of Iraq’s Jewish citizens (as well as injuring, raping and pillaging) was premeditated, Salim Fattal’s documentary film on the modern history of the Jews of Iraq, The land that devours the inhabitants thereof, clearly reveals.
In the interval between the deposing of Rashid Ali, the pro-Nazi Prime Minister who had seized power in a coup, and the arrival of the pro-British Regent in the Iraqi capital, Muslim houses in Baghdad were daubed ‘Muslim’, while Jewish homes were marked with the ‘Hamsa’ (hand). When the Chief Rabbi of Iraq went to the authorities to voice his safety concerns, he was told that the Jews should barricade themselves in their houses with enough food for three days.
Eye-witnesses described how minibuses of Jews were emptied and their passengers slaughtered. The rioting started on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot and went on for two days.
The British army, who were encamped on the outskirts of Baghdad, could have intervened to stop the death and destruction. A Jewish translator working with them was told that the British army had no ‘instructions’ to intervene. It was only when the rioting began to endanger the established Muslim quarters of Baghdad that the British army swiftly quelled the disturbances.
The dead were buried hurriedly in a mass grave without the usual Jewish mourning practices. The Farhoud had a traumatic effect and marked the beginning of the end of the Jewish commmunity, which traced its history back to 586 BC. Within 10 years all but 6,000 of Iraq’s 150,000 Jews had fled.
The 1941 pogrom in the literature of Jews from Iraq
The Nazi pogrom of June 1941, known as the Farhud, was the Iraqi Jews’ very own Kristallnacht – two days of murder, looting, rape and mutilation. It shattered this ancient community’s self-confidence, and swiftly led to the exodus of over 90 percent of Iraqi Jewry.
During these centuries under Muslim rule, the Jewish Community had it’s ups and downs. By World War I, they accounted for one third of Baghdad’s population. In 1922, the British recieved a mandate over Iraq and began transforming it into a modern nation-state.
Iraq became an independent state in 1932. Throughout this period, the authorities drew heavily on the talents of the mall well-educated Jews for their ties outside the country and proficiency in foreign languages. Iraq’s first minister of finance, Yehezkel Sasson, was a Jew. These Jewish communities played a vital role in the development of judicial and postal systems.
In the 1936 Iraq Directory, the “Israelite community” is listed among the various other Iraqi communities, such as Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabeans, and numbering at about 120,000. Hebrew is also listed as one of Iraq’s six languages.
Yet, following the end of the British mandate, the 2,700-year-old Iraqi Jewish community suffered horrible persecution, particularly as the Zionist drive for a state intensified. In June 1941, the Mufti-inspired, pro-Nazi coup of Rashid Ali sparked rioting and a pogrom in Baghdad during the Jewish Feast of Shavuot. Armed Iraqi mobs, with the complicity of the police and the army, murdered 180 Jews and wounded almost 1,000 in what became known as the Farhud pogrom. Immediately following, the British Army re-entered Baghdad, and success of the Jewish community resumed. Jews built a broad network of medical facilities, schools and cultural activity. Nearly all of the members of the Baghdad Symphony Orchestra were Jewish. Yet this flourisng environment abruptly ended in 1947, with the partition of Palestine and the fight for Israel’s independence. Outbreaks of anti-Jewish rioting regularly occurred between 1947 and 1949. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime.
On June 1, the first day of Shavuʿot, which in Iraq was traditionally marked by joyous pilgrimages to the tomb of holy men and visits of friends and relatives, the Hashemite regent, ‘Abd al-Ilāh, returned to the capital from his exile in Transjordan. A festive crowd of Jews crossed over the west bank of the Tigris River to welcome the returning prince. On the way back, a group of soldiers, who were soon joined by civilians, turned on the Jews and attacked them, killing one and injuring others. Anti-Jewish riots soon spread throughout the city, especially on the east bank of the Tigris, where most of the Jews lived. By nightfall, a major pogrom was under way, led by soldiers and paramilitary youth gangs, followed by a mob. The rampage of murder and plunder in the Jewish neighborhoods and business districts continued until the afternoon of the following day, when the regent finally gave orders for the police to fire upon the rioters and Kurdish troops were brought in to maintain order.
In the ” Farhud,” 179 Jews of both sexes and all ages were killed, 242 children were left orphans, and 586 businesses were looted, 911 buildings housing more than 12,000 people were pillaged. The total property loss was estimated by the Jewish community’s own investigating committee to be approximately 680,000 pounds.
The ” Farhud ” dramatically undermined the confidence of all Iraqi Jewry and, like the Assyrian massacres of 1933, had a highly unsettling effect upon all the Iraqi minorities. Nevertheless, many Jews tried to convince themselves that the worst was over. A factor in this was the commercial boom during the war, of which the Jewish business community was the prime beneficiary. Another factor was the tranquility which prevailed during the next years of the war. But the shadow of the ” Farhud ” continued to hover for years.
Farhud – the pogrom against iraqi jews, june 1941
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