An Afghan, Officer of the Third Reich
For nearly half-century between 1779 and 1924, Iran denied important economic roles for its Jewish community. The stigmas of “impurity,” as well as mandatory observation of Jewish religious and legal restrictions, were strongly imposed on them. In addition, the obligation to wear certain attire and identification patches forced the Jews to either accept voluntary conversion to Islam or leave Iran. Those who didn’t accept the conversion migrated to neighboring countries and elsewhere in the world. As a result, over eighty-thousand Jewish families settled in Afghanistan, mostly in Western and Northern parts of the country.
As part of the modernization program, Afghanistan sent students to Europe to earn an education. At the start of World War II, a student named Abdul Ghani was studying in Germany and profoundly interested in Nazi ideology. A high-ranking Nazi officer, Colonel Oskar Ritter Von Niedermayer, — fluent in Persian language and knowledgeable of Afghanistan — recruited Abdul Ghani as corporal in the Third Reich. The Nazis then indoctrinated Ghani with their ideology for only one purpose: to help recruit Jews from Afghanistan into Nazi concentration camps and ultimately to be perished. The gripping account of successful recruitments of a few Jewish men took place before the Afghan government learned of the horrific plan and stopped it.