Johann von Leers
|Johann von Leers|
January 25, 1902|
|Died||5 March 1965
|Other work||Convert to Islam|
Johann von Leers (25 January 1902 – 5 March 1965) was an Alter Kämpfer and an honorary Sturmbannführer in the Waffen SS in Nazi Germany, where he was also a professor known for his anti-Jewish polemics. He was one of the most important ideologues of the Third Reich, serving as a high-ranking propaganda ministry official. He later served in the Egyptian Information Department, as well as an advisor to Gamal Abdel Nasser. He published for Goebbels, in Peron's Argentina and for Nasser's Egypt. He converted to Islam, and changed his name to Omar Amin.
Early life and education
Von Leers was born in Vietlübbe, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany on January 25, 1902. He studied law at Berlin, Kiel, and Rostock and eventually worked as an attache in the foreign office. He was involved in the Viking Free Corps. Von Leers became actively involved in voelkisch politics during the Weimar Republic, and he joined the NSDAP in 1929. He was a district speaker and leader of the National Socialist Students' League, and in 1933 signed the Gelöbnis treuester Gefolgschaft, the "vow of most faithful allegiance" to Adolf Hitler.
Von Leers supported himself writing freelance articles for the NSDAP press, and joined the Waffen SS in 1936 as a sub-Sturmbannführer, eventually becoming an a full honorary. He would serve as a professor at the University of Jena. He eventually was summoned by Joseph Goebbels to work in the propaganda ministry. There he was assigned to proliferate party propaganda, eventually penning 27 books between 1933-1945.
He wrote the notorious anti-Semitic tract (published and popular during the Third Reich), Juden sehen dich an (Jews Are Looking at You). He was fluent in five languages, including Dutch and Japanese.
Jeffrey Herf reports that in December 1942, von Leers published an article in Die Judenfrage, a journal which belonged to the anti-Semitic intellectual world, entitled "Judaism and Islam as Opposites". As the title indicates, the author's perspective is Hegelian, presenting Judaism and Islam in terms of thesis and antithesis. This essay also reveals the ingratiating National Socialist perspective which von Leers projected on the Islamic past as well as the intensity of his hatred for Judaism and Jewry. The following passage is part of the original text:
- Mohammed's hostility to the Jews had one result: Oriental Jewry was completely paralyzed. Its backbone was broken. Oriental Jewry effectively did not participate in [European] Jewry's tremendous rise to power in the last two centuries. Despised in the filthy lanes of the mellah (the walled Jewish quarter of a Moroccan city, analogous to the European ghetto) the Jews vegetated there. They lived under a special law (that of a protected minority), which in contrast to Europe did not permit usury or even traffic in stolen goods, but kept them in a state of oppression and anxiety. If the rest of the world had adopted a similar policy, we would not have a Jewish Question (Judenfrage).... As a religion, Islam indeed performed an eternal service to the world: it prevented the threatened conquest of Arabia by the Jews and vanquished the horrible teaching of Jehovah by a pure religion, which at that time opened the way to a higher culture for numerous peoples .... (Quoted in Victor Klemperer' Tagebuch as author of an article "Schuld ist der Jude" in nr.143 of "Freiheitskampf" Review (1943), where he accuses the Jews to have prepared the First World War to destroy the German people: "if the Jews win, our destiny will be that of the polish officers in Katyn".
Von Leers was a proponent of realpolitik, advocating a race-free foreign relations policy on the basis of relationship and alliance. He authored the memo which led to the exemption of non-Jewish racial minorities from race laws in the nation in 1934, 1936, and 1937.
In 1945 he fled to Italy, living there for five years, and then moving to Argentina in 1950 where he continued his propaganda activities. He was praised by Haj Amin al-Husseini for his loyalty to Arab nationalism. Thereafter he moved from Argentina to Egypt.
In Nasser's Egypt
Von Leers was welcomed in Egypt by al-Husseini and he became the political adviser to the Information Department under Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser. He continued to specialize in anti-Semitism as head of the Institute for the Study of Zionism, managing anti-Israeli propaganda. He was a mentor of Ahmed Huber and networked with Muslim emigres in Hamburg, while also being an acquaintance of Otto Ernst Remer in the country.
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