Did the Nazis Try to Assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin in Tehran in 1943?

In November 1943, as the tide was turning in the Allies’ favor in World War II, United States president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin met in Tehran to discuss their plans for the war. When they returned home, at least one of them announced that the meeting been shadowed by a Nazi assassination plot. “I suppose it would make a pretty good haul if they could get all of us going through the street,” FDR said to the press when he got back to the United States.

Was the plot real? A new book, The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, digs into that question and comes up with unclear answers. Rich Tenorio writes:

By late November, FDR, Churchill and Stalin had arrived in Tehran for their long-delayed meeting. Although Mayr was out of action, the Nazis had new plans. They had begun receiving intel on the Allies from an unexpected informant, “Cicero,” the Ankara-based valet to the British ambassador to Turkey. Hitler, Schellenberg and Skorzeny met at the Fuhrer’s Wolf’s Lair headquarters in East Prussia, allegedly to plan an operation in Tehran.

According to the Soviets, 38 German operatives parachuted into Iran, with all but six being captured by the eve of the conference. Soviet officials shared concerns of an assassination plot with American and British counterparts and persuaded the Americans to change their lodging from the US embassy to the Soviet embassy.

“They could have meetings in a very secure location,” Mensch said, adding that the Soviet embassy adjoined the British embassy. Had the leaders gone back and forth across the city, he added, “the big fear was if Nazi sharpshooters, soldiers or probable agents in disguise would have a shot at them.”

Was the fear warranted? Or could the Soviets have been up to something themselves?

Asked about British doubts, Mensch cited another historian from the UK, Adrian O’Sullivan.

“[O’Sullivan] was very skeptical of the plot,” Mensch said. “He has written pretty extensively about the Iranian regime in the war, which provided a lot of information that was helpful to us about Franz Mayr, his circle and various Nazi missions to Iran in 1943. He thought the Soviets just made it up or exaggerated the plot for their own reasons. What we try to do in the book is sort through skeptical opinions.”

“We come down somewhere in the middle,” Mensch reflected. “There are different points of view and arguments for and against. Ultimately, we form our own conclusion. We’re very open about the fact that some information is still a mystery, still unknown.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: History & Ideas, World War II

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem