The Grand Mufti hoped Hitler would support Arab independence and eliminate the Jewish national home in Palestine. By now killing operations against Jews were unway in the USSR. German Jews had been deported to Riga and Minsk. Aktion Reinhard was in its planning stages. Hitler talked around Arab independence but was pleased to grant the Mufti’s second wish:
When German forces reached Palestine, he continued, “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere. . . .” 3 The German Foreign Ministry provided the Mufti with generous funding and accommodations in Berlin. Heinrich Himmler visited him several times, referring to “the fellowship of our common struggle.” Adolf Eichmann agreed to have his staff aid the Mufti when German forces reached Jerusalem. 4
General Erwin Rommel commanded German and Italian forces in Libya. He hoped to drive eastward through Egypt to the Suez Canal, cutting Britain’s lifeline to India. In June 1942, Rommel finally captured Tobruk, the eastern Libyan port that he needed to advance. An elated Hitler crowed to Mussolini that “the British Eighth Army is virtually destroyed,” while in London, Parliament debated whether Churchill should be replaced. 5 Rommel pressed to Britain’s defensive position at El Alamein outside Alexandria, just three days’ march to the Suez Canal and Palestine.