Staunton, November 29 – Sometimes the most remarkable thing about a publication in Russia today is its remarkable honesty about a subject normally treated in the most hostile and tendentious way, an exception to the general rule that raises questions as to why it was allowed to appear and how it will be read both by those inclined to be sympathetic and those who won’t.
Just such an article has appeared on the portal of the Rex news agency which is part of the Regnum network. Entitled “The Muslim Legions of Nazi Germany” and written by Azerbaijani journalist Samir Babaoglu, it tells the story of Turkestan, Azerbaijani, North Caucasian and Idel-Ural POWs who fought on the German side during World War II (iarex.ru/articles/87785.html).
What is striking given how this subject is usually treated by Russian outlets especially in recent years is its calm and even-handed approach and perhaps most of all its contention that those involved acted for understandable reasons including above all saving lives at a time when such people had few good choices.
Babaoglu’s concluding words are especially striking and noteworthy:
Today, under modern conditions, it may be difficult for us to understand how the intellectuals and leaders of the Azerbaijani, Turkestani, North Caucasian, Volga and Crimean Muslims, who wanted independence for their lands which had been conquered by the Soviets could use the assistance of the Nazis to create their own national committees.
But after all, along with those who collaborated with the Nazis to save their lands from the Bolsheviks, there were those Muslims who fought for the lives of their compatriots, albeit far from the front lines. That is an historical reality.
Who knows how many Muslim souls were saved from possible death in POW camps by Muslim leaders such as Nuri Pasha, Hisnu Emir Erkilet Pasha, Mehmet Emin Resulzade, Veli Qayyum Khan, who negotiated with the Germans and came up with the idea of creating Muslim legions?
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