Baathism. Arab socialism. Ba'ath (from the Arabic for "revival"), also locally called Assadism in Syria and Saddamism in Iraq- an Arabism ideology with admiration for Islam and admiration for as well as influenced by Nazism, Hitlerism.
In 1947, the Ba'th party was founded by three French-educated Syrian intellectuals Michel 'Aflaq, raised as Greek Orthodox Christian but admiring Islam, together with Salah al-Din Bitar a Sunni Muslim, and Zaki al-Arsuzi, an Alawite Muslim.
Similar to al-Husri, 'Aflaq was an ardent proponent of pan-Arab ideology celebrating the glorious Islamic past and advocating the unity of all Arab states. However, he deviated slightly from al-Husri's though in that he endeavoured to create a synthesis between nationalism and socialism applicable to all Arab states.
Apart from 'Aflaq's enthusiasm for Hitler, he also deemed his National-Socialist Germany as a model for the society he wanted to create. When the pro-German pan-Arab nationalists under al-Gilani took power with the support of the Third Reich in Iraq, 'Aflaq formed a committee to defend al-Gilani's regime. German nationalist ideology appealed strongly to 'Aflaq and his young generation. As it is confirmed by one of the old Ba'thists, they were "influenced by Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Fichte's Fourteen Letters to the German Nation, and Hitler's Mein Kampf," 'Aflaq's pro-Nazi inclination, despite his studying in France and becoming acquainted with the constitutional basis of the French Revolution...
Renowned expert, E. Kedourie:
Jundi records the occasion, on 29 November 1940, when he and four other young men met in the room of one of them and listened to a four-hour lecture by Arsuzi on Democracy, Communism and Nazism, beginning with Descartes ...At the end Of this discourse which 'plumbed the depths ' and was 'warm and emotional', Arsuzi suggested the formation of an Arab Resurrection Party. Jundi became the treasurer of the small group...
We were racialists [’irqiyyin], admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source of its thought, particularly Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation, and H. S. Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, which revolves on race. We were the first to think of translating Mein Kampf.
Encyclopedia of Politics:
While Aflaq embraced Islam as the religion for the Arab peoples, it was ironic that he had been raised a Christian. During World War II, he admired Adolf Hitler and saw in Nazism the type of national socialism he espoused for the Arab world.
Princeton Papers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle Eastern Studies:
The Islamic Component A. The Genesis of the Ba'th: Islam in the Thought of Michel 'Aflaq ... 'Aflaq called upon all Arabs, Muslims as well as Christians, to admire Islam and the Prophet because of Islam's "important role in shaping Arab history and Arab nationalism."
... as Elie Kedourie wrote in Islam in the Modern World, '[T]o define the Arab nation in terms of its history is—sooner rather than later—to come upon the fact that Islam originated among the Arabs, was revealed in Arabic to an Arab...' Hence, 'Arab nationalism,' Kedourie explained, 'affirms a fundamental unbreakable link between Islam and Arabism.' (Here’s an essay on the same subject, with a collection of quotes from Arab writers agreeing with Kedourie that Arabism and Islam are one and the same.)...
A Syrian born explains in 'Swastikas in Damascus':
Syria under the Assads has long harbored a soft spot for Nazism. The revolution is changing that...
Those around me who sported some vague admiration for Hitler almost always supported the Assads, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Some of them sought to join the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), established by Antoun Saadeh, a 20th century politician who spoke of the superiority of Middle Eastern Arabs over Africans and Syrians over neighboring peoples. Unlike the Assads’ Arab Socialist Baath Party and the many other political and social movements that called for a unity of Arab nations, the SSNP believed in the Syrian nation, a Greater Syria that would include modern Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan. Saadeh himself was Lebanese. The anthem of the SSNP, its flag, and its own version of Führerkult around Saadeh seem to some as the closest one could get to a Nazi ideology that is alive and well in the region, though today’s SSNP tries to distance itself from some of Saadeh’s right-wing racial theories. I’ve tried understanding where some of this right-wing sentiment, of a seemingly Nazi-esque flavor, may have originated. In 1939, Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbles, launched the Radio Berlin Arabic-language program. The program broadcast across the Middle East and North Africa and told Arab listeners that everything they had heard about Hitler hating Arabs and assigning them a low “racial status” was wrong. It even broadcast Quran recitations, in what seemed to have been an attempt to steal listeners from the BBC’s Arabic-language radio service.
The Nazis also developed relations with Muslim public figures, most notably Hajj Mohammad Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the time. Husseini knew Hitler personally. And, despite what Radio Berlin used to say, Arabs suffered because of Nazism too. Hundreds of Arab nationals, Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike, were led to concentration camps under Hitler... We were never taught this. And yet at some point, I began hearing a startling number of Syrians quoting Hitler and discussing his views and political career. Some would mutter the common, and not altogether accurate, claims that Germany “rose from the ashes” of World War I and from the confines of the Treaty of Versailles and that the lives of German citizens greatly improved under Hitler before World War II began in September 1939. Those were mostly teenagers who had seen a clip of the dictator delivering a tirade and went about glorifying him without any real knowledge of who he was. Some might have heard a quote out of context and went about repeating it. Others, perhaps, were filtering their world through a warped understanding of anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism, cornerstones of the ruling Baath Party, whose ideologies we learned at school. “I could have killed all Jews, but I left some of them alive in order to...” Hitler never once said these words, but I remember the made-up quote circulating on Facebook since the site gained popularity among Syrians around 2009. It was usually paired with a black background and a photo of Hitler himself.
Related: Nazism at Arab Palestinians
Atrocities in Lebanon
- Ba'athist - definition of Ba'athist by The Free Dictionary
- Adel Soheil (2018). "The Iraqi Ba'th Regime's Atrocities Against the Faylee Kurds Nation-State Formation Distorted." p. 56. The three French-educated Syrian intellectuals 'Aflaq, a Greek Orthodox Christian, together with Salah al-Din Bitar a Sunni Muslim, and Zaki al-Arsuzi, an Alawit founded the Ba'th party in 1947
- Baathist purge may stall Hussein trial, Neil MacDonald, CS Monitor, July 28, 2005
- Adel Soheil (2018). "The Iraqi Ba'th Regime's Atrocities Against the Faylee Kurds Nation-State Formation Distorted." p. 55.
- Elie Kedourie (1974). "Arabic Political Memoirs and Other Studies." London: Frank Cass. p. 200.
- Rodney P. Carlisle (2005), "Encyclopedia of Politics." p. 540.
- Princeton Papers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. (1997). United States: Markus Wiener Publishers. Vol. 5, p. 33. ; William Harris, Aḥmad Ashraf, Yesim Arat (1997), "Challenges to Democracy in the Middle East." p. 33.
- Lee Smith, "It’s an Arab Nationalist Thing. Osama’s Islamism and Saddam’s Baathism are more alike than you think." Slate, Oct 22, 2004.
- A. Khattab, Swastikas in Damascus, New Lines, March 17, 2021.