The effect of German propaganda between 1939 and 1945 on Egypt’s perspective of Jews after1956

Asmaa Khairy 

30th May 2013 

Presented to: Dr. Peter Polak Springer 

Qatar University 

© All copy rights reserved

The effect of German propaganda between 1939 and 1945 on Egypt’s perspective of Jews during 1956-1968

There is no doubt that the third Reich had a very good hold of propaganda inside Germany and in German occupied territories and territories they were planning to concur. One of the places they planned to concur, and where they had a rich propaganda was the Arab world. Media propaganda has a huge rule in documenting history and making it. In my paper I’ll be exploring the effect of the Nazi propaganda for the Arab world during World War 2 (WWII) on the Egyptian popular reaction toward the start of Jewish expulsion after 1956 in Egypt. To have a fair comparison I’ll be exploring the memory and existence of Jews in Egypt before 1939 and afterwards. Based on that, I’ll look into the effects of the Nazi propaganda on Egyptian perspective of Jews during and after 1956.

By 1947, Jews numbers in Egypt were approximately 64,165 Jews in different cities (Aboelghar, 2006) and through records I examined they have been living normal lives in Egypt. Jews had their trade and political lives just like everyone. As an example, by 1920 there were almost 50 papers written and distributed by Jews in three different languages: Arabic, French and Hebrew. In 1920 as well, when Talaat Harb founded Bank de Egypte, his partner was a Jew named (Youssef Katawi) and he was from a well known Alexandrian Jewish family. Even more, by 1947, 927 Jew graduated from Cairo University and 3080 from high schools across Egypt (Aboelghar, 2006).

On the other hand, there were a few elites that were worried about the constant immigration of Jews from Europe, Georgy Zidan’s writings about his trips to Palestine as an example. Zidan was born in 1861 and died in 1914 after his third trip to Palestine. He was a Christian Lebanese who lived in Egypt and founded a publishing house (Al hilal). Between the years, 1886 and 1913 Zidan had a few trips to Palestine, monitoring the Jew’s immigrations and their settlements. The Ottomans had no problem with the immigrations saying that the Jews are being oppressed in their countries and having them in Palestine to work in agriculture would do no harm; as it will bring in more taxes. (Georgy Zidan, 2009)

Georgy’s wirings were introduced by Fathi AlNimnim and published almost a century after his death in 2009. Through AlNimnim introduction he discusses Georgy’s life. An interesting incident was highlighted where there was a huge rage in the Egyptian community, when Zidan was offered a position for teaching Islamic history in Cairo University; claiming that a Christian should never be trusted to teach Islam’s history. (Georgy Zidan, 2009) Despite his position against the immigrations of Jews, and the concept of Zionism, some considered him to be a member of the Masonic movement in Egypt. (Hasan, 1970 )

To conclude, Jews in Egypt where settled in as normal citizens up until 1947 and there was no anti Semitic movement against them. However, the problems with the Jews were among some of the elites due to the fear of the immigration of Jews to Palestine currently; known as the Zionist movement in Palestine.

Moving on, in 1939, German propaganda for the Arab world and the Middle East and North Africa’s area was founded by the VII office within the foreign ministry department. (Herf, 2009) The messages prepared to be aired in Arabic were made to by typical to the German Text. In the process, orientlists along with Arabic native speakers provided the jargon used during the war between the common people. Based on it, messages were prepared carefully.

The Nazi German propaganda lasted for about 7 years in Egypt and other countries. Despite that, Egyptian writings that I’ve examined[1] of that time –during the propaganda- didn’t reflect the propaganda and didn’t refer to the German radio in anyway. However, the Nazi propaganda reflected clearly in the public Egyptian rages during the war.

Since the start of the Nazi propaganda, a sense of respect for Hitler and the third Reich was built in the Egyptian community. To the Egyptians, Hitler was a light of hope of ending the British colonialism in Egypt. This aspiration was emphasized in the Radio broadcastings during 1939-1941. These broadcasts held the message, Hitler supports your will to end the British colonialism and the Aryan race respects it too. (Herf, 2009, p. 36) These messages paid back very positive during the Nazi-British war over Egypt in the Battle known as “Al Allamein” battle. Egypt has been flooded by protests supporting Nazis, which were chanting: “Go forward Rommel” looking forward for the Nazis to come and liberate them from Britain.

Rommel lost “Al Allamein”‘s battle due to the lack of fuel for his tanks. However Egyptians were still hoping that the Nazis will liberate them. This reflects in the Elder’s popular cultures that I’ve examined growing up in Egypt. These stories are told by grandparents to the new generations. My grand-ma narrated this story to me, explaining its effects, hopes and depressions of the battle on her and her community. So, eventually Rommel’s memory, as well as the Nazi in Egypt became the memory and the symbol of an unexplained will for an unknown status. And it still shows in today’s writings and popular culture. As an example, a blogger named Ahmed M. Eissa blogged in 2008 about a personal rough time saying: “I felt like “Go forward, Rommel” as our grand-dads used to say. I needed my situation to end even if I’ll face something worse.” (Eissa, 2008)

Summing this part up, the Nazi propaganda didn’t reflect in the writings of that time. It was however reflected in the popular actions and memorable in the popular culture. These reflections started appearing in 1942 and continued till present. The Nazi propaganda in the Arab world stopped after the end of the war, however, some of its messages reflected later in the Egyptian propaganda on the expulsion of the Jews.

Moving on, shortly after World War 2, the Israeli state was declared on the land of Palestine on the 15th of May 1948 as the land of the “Jews”. The war between Arabs and Israel started in May 1948 to return Palestine to the Arabs. This war lasted for 10 months and ended in March 1949 with the loss of the Arab armies. The Egyptian army’s officers at the time accused King Farouk of buying ruined machinery and guns as a betrayal to Egypt. They said, this shipment of arms have made us lose the war. (Hussien, 2001) They accused the Ottomans of being in favor of the Jews against the Arabs and backed that up by the allowance of the Ottomans for Jews to immigrate into Palestine since 1886, buy lands and work in agriculture (Georgy Zidan, 2009).

Dr. Hussien, the secretary of King Farouk says that this was an invalid argument and all the investigation that was done said that King Farouk had nothing to do with it and that he was not guilty with what he was charged with. In 1952, the revolution started and the king was expelled, the redone investigation also proved nothing against him and up till now there are no documents that support the army’s accusation except the army itself. (Hussien, 2001). However, in all the Nakba war (1948-1949) has almost no effect on the status of Jews in Egypt.


Later on, when the revolution emerged and Mohamed Naguib took the authority in Egypt 1952, the political status was not stable; so Gamal AbdEl Nasser took over. Not long after he took over, Abdel Nasser started implementing socialism in Egypt. Some argue that that was the start of the conflict with Egyptian Jews, as they were in hold of a large sum of capital. (Aboelghar, 2006) However that wasn’t their case alone. The public at that time was not against any ethnicity, they were forced by Abdel Nasser’s propaganda to hate capitalists and move towards a socialist Arab World. The picture on the side is of a paper’s front page at the time, defines Abdel Nasser’s laws that were aiming to implement socialism in Egypt. The subjected individual’s property limits, the percentages of workers in the parliament and minimum wages, etc.


However, there was a significant about German propaganda regarding Jews as a race in the literature published before 1956. In 1954, Ihsan Abdel Qudos published his Novel “Ana Horra” which translates into: I’m free. In this novel the hero meets a Jew friend and visits their alley and spends time with them. She notices that there is nothing bad about them, even if their nose is hooked and they love money very much. However, throughout the novel, the hero is corrupt and the society argues that it’s due her hanging out with the Jews. (Abdelkodous, 1954) This concept was a base of a future “enemy within” conspiracy theory.

In 1954 as well, Abdel Nasser made a speech on the 1st of May; workers day, accusing the Jews of being both Zionists and communists. He said that Zionism and communism are both faces of the same coin. He accused a certain Jew named: Henry Corel of being the funder for these movements in Egypt. This was though Henry Corel was known for being an anti-Zionist communist activist. Abdel Nasser’s speech was supported by Islamists newspaper “Al Dawa” that was published by the Muslim Brotherhood. They said that both communists and Zionists wanted to rule the world and they both should be fought against as enemies. (Aboelghar, 2006)

The activist Henry Corel was expelled from Egypt and went to France prior the Suez Canal Crisis. He is, to our current days, known for being loyal to Egypt even after his expulsion and his Egyptian nationality has been taken away. Prior the Suez Crisis, Corel supplied Abdel Nasser, through Tharwat Okasha, the French plan of the attack on the Canal. (Abbas, 2012) (Aboelghar, 2006) This ciris happened when Egypt started having connections with the communist soviet union and after Abdel Nasser started to nationalize suez canal. Though Henry Corel tried to help, there was no acoknoldgment of him and he was never given back his nationality, says Wael Abbas in his article.

Furthermore, after 1956 the Egyptian Jews were considered the inner enemy that should be getten rid of for the country to survive. This happened because the Isreali, along with the west attach on the Canal. This was a reflection of the Nazi propaganda which propagated that the Jews along with the west are conspiring against you. And the Israeli attacked emphasised that message.

Due to the fact that the Jews became the inner enemy, percaurations were taken to eliminate the threat. Similar to Hitler’s strategies, male Jews were arrested and put into collective prisions in Jewish schools. Women and children were locked at their homes and were not allowed out. As an example of the 900 Jew were arrested in Cairo, 500 of them were locked up in Al Abassya Israelian school. (Abbas, 2012)

In another form of supressing, Jews were forced out of the country and this was highlighted by media as the victory of the time. In “Akhr Saa’ “ (The last hour) magazine, issue of 28th of November 1956, head lines said: “Those of no nationality who indangered Egypt are now leaving to their countries or any country the wish. They will never come back.” This headline was put along with the pictures of the expulsion below in addition to three sentences that translate to: “Donations to the enemy – Freezing their money – Destructing Egypt’s economy” (Saa’, A trip with no return, 1956) It was documented that after 1956, around 40~50 thousand Jew left Egypt either expeled or migerated to run away of the grivences. (Aboelghar, 2006) Most of the deported travelled to Europe, America or Isreal. However, there are no official documents of their destinations, the only documents avaliable in the Egyptian archive that they were deported with no chance of return.

sortie_sans retour






This propaganda to support these actions, was in a lot of ways similar to Hitler’s. Mainly it’s similar to Hitler’s announcement of the Jew as inner enemies and denouncing them. It’s also similar to the stab in the back conspiracy theory conducted by Nazi’s.

Common messages expressed in the Egyptian memory of the Egyptian Jews compared with the German memory would be summarized in the physical shape, economical standard and the inner enemy. Jews are expressed in the Egyptian literature by the same biological features that Jews were discriminated against by in Nazi Germany. Also, Jews are left in the Egyptian memory as people who had “The” money. Last but not least, Israel’s support in Egypt and the base for the Zionist movement ruling over Egypt; inner enemy.

To conclude, the research conducted showed that the Nazi propaganda in Egypt during1939- 1945 didn’t influence much the manner people dealt with Jews, neither their acceptance of their expulsions in 1956. It however impacted their reactions to incidents during the war; I.e Al Allamein’s Battle.  Despite that, messages from the Nazi propaganda were re-used or reflected in Abdel Nasser’s propaganda during 1952-1958.  It has also affected Nasser’s strategies dealing with the Jews from school prisons to major expulsions.

My recommendations for further studies on the topic would be to study the effect of the Nazi’s propaganda on Abdel Nasser, his society and his media strategies makers. I would also recommend further comparative studies of the memory of the Jews in the Egyptian memory with the German, before and after the expulsions and the genocide. These studies will help us fully understand the effect of the media, national and global, in the making of history and the documentation of it.






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Abdelkodous, I. (1954). I’m free أنا حرة. cairo: Akhbar AlYoum.

Aboelghar, M. (2006). Egyptian Jews. Cairo: Dar AlHilal.

Eissa, A. M. (2008, June). Go Forward Rommel. Cairo, Egypt. Retrieved May 17, 2013, from

Georgy Zidan, F. A. (2009). Zionsim, it’s history and doings. Cairo: Al hilal.

Hasan, M. (1970 ). Georgy Zidan . Cairo .

Herf, J. (2009). Nazi propaganda for the Arab world. Yale.

Hussien, H. (2001). Years with King Farouk. Cairo: Nahdat Misr.

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Saa’, A. (1956). A trip with no return. Akhr Saa’.

العربية (Director). (2012). النكسة – الطريق إلى الحرب 1976 Al Naksa – The road to the war 1976 [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from

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[1] The political History of Egypt 1945-1952 By Tarek Al Bishrey

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