Book on Nazis and Islam scoops Fraenkel Prize

  • October 10, 2014
Book on Nazis and Islam scoops Fraenkel Prize

David Motadel has been awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in contemporary European history.

A Gates Cambridge alumnus has been awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in contemporary European history.

David Motadel [2006], who finished his PhD in History in 2010, has won The Fraenkel Prize for his book manuscript, Islam and Nazi Germany’s War.

The book, which will be published by Harvard University Press later this month, is based on David’s PhD dissertation which was supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. It details how in the most crucial phase of the Second World War, German troops, fighting in regions as far apart as the Sahara and the Caucasus, confronted the Allies across lands largely populated by Muslims. The book shows how Nazi officials saw Islam as a powerful force with the same enemies as Germany: the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Jews and how German officials tried to promote the Third Reich as a patron of Islam.

It explores Berlin’s policies and propaganda in the Muslim war zones, and the extensive work that authorities undertook for the recruitment, spiritual care and ideological indoctrination of tens of thousands of Muslim volunteers who fought in the Wehrmacht and the SS.

The book is described as “the first comprehensive account of Berlin’s ambitious attempts to build an alliance with the Islamic world”. Drawing on archival research in three continents, it reveals how German troops on the ground in North Africa, the Balkans, and the Eastern front engaged with diverse Muslim populations, including Muslim Roma and Jewish converts to Islam. It shows the profound impact of the Second World War on Muslims around the world and its publisher claims it provides “a new understanding of the politics of religion in the bloodiest conflict of the twentieth century”.

The $4,000 Fraenkel Prize is awarded for an outstanding work of twentieth-century history in one of The Wiener Library’s fields of interest, including: The History of Europe, Jewish History, The Two World Wars, Antisemitism, Comparative Genocide and Political Extremism. The Wiener Library is the world’s oldest Holocaust archive and Britain’s largest collection on the Nazi era. David is currently a Research Fellow in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Picture credit: David Motadel.

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