Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold

By Spoerl, Joseph S. | Jewish Political Studies Review, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold


Spoerl, Joseph S., Jewish Political Studies Review


Matthias Küntzel, Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold, translated by Colin Meade. Candor, NY: Telos Press Publishing, 2014. 274 + xiii pp. ISBN 9780914386001

Reviewed by JOSEPH S. SPOERL

This book is an English translation of a book first published in German in 2009, with an epilogue penned by the author in May 2014. Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold focuses on German-Iranian relations from the time of Kaiser Wilhelm (reigned from 1888-1918) to the present, culminating in a treatment of the Iranian nuclear program and Germany's shameful role in shielding it from sanctions. Matthias Küntzel is uniquely qualified to write this book. The subject of his doctoral dissertation was the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and he has published extensively on Germany's position regarding nuclear proliferation. Küntzel is also a student of Islamist ideology and its disturbing incorporation of extreme Jew-hatred as a central doctrine. This book presents important new findings based on the author's research in German and American archives.

Küntzel begins with Kaiser Wilhelm's policy of cultivating Muslim allies in order to cause trouble for Germany's enemies: Britain, France, and Russia. Each ruled over large numbers of Muslims. Traditionally suspicious of Russia and Britain, the dominant powers to its north and south, respectively, Iran was very receptive to German overtures. Germany's loss in World War I did not cool Iranian ardor for all things German, and during the interwar years, Germany became Iran's main supplier of industrial technology and technical expertise.

According to Küntzel, "?the coming to power of Adolph Hitler in no way hindered these expanding ties. On the contrary, not only was the Shah delighted, but a large section of the Iranian intelligentsia and business community also sympathized with National Socialism." (23) In late 1934, at the urging of the Iranian ambassador to Berlin, the Shah banned the name "Persia" and insisted that the name "Iran" or "land of the Aryans" be used exclusively. Hitler reciprocated by exempting the "Aryan" Iranians from the Nuremberg racial laws. To this day, German visitors to Iran are reminded enthusiastically by Iranians that Germany and Iran share "a common Aryan heritage." (27)

On August 25, 1941, Soviet and British troops invaded and occupied Iran, which provided the vital land bridge across which American-made war materiel was shipped to the USSR. This invasion reinforced Iranian mistrust of Britain and Russia, and of the Americans who aided those two countries and became their ally and did nothing to diminish the already strong Iranian sympathy for Germany. Küntzel cites the reporting of German journalist Christiane Hoffmann and others to the effect that in the Twenty-First Century, many Iranians still express "unconcealed admiration ... for Hitler." (7) While many Iranians worked with the British and Americans who were transporting cargo to the USSR, others assisted German agents in efforts to sabotage the Allied efforts in Iran.

After the Second World War, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, West Germany quickly re-established commercial ties with Iran, and with great success. Once again, Germany became Iran's most important trading partner. Tire Iranian Revolution of 1979 that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power did not stop West Germany from jealously protecting and fostering its trade relations with Iran. Küntzel describes in scathing detail the repeated failure of successive West German governments to impose any meaningful sanctions restricting trade with Iran. Indeed, he points out that, for decades, Germany facilitated its trade with Iran by means of export credit guarantees, even as Iran held U. …

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