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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount