Islam a German secret weapon? New book uncovers forgotten POW camp

BY Tracy Wholf  August 10, 2014 at 5:26 PM EDT

History has a way of surprising us – even 100 years later.

In author Eugene Rogan’s forthcoming book, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, Rogan writes about a small and relatively unknown prisoner-of-war camp called Halbmondlager, or ‘Half Moon Camp’ that was specifically designed for Muslim captives.

Kaiser Wilhelm II reportedly had a secret mission of turning British and French military prisoners of Muslim faith into jihadist loyal to Germany. While held captive, the prisoners lived in relatively opulent surroundings (for POWs) and were given everything necessary to practice their faith.

This jihad-plan was the brainchild of German aristocrat and diplomat, Max von Oppenheim, who had traveled extensively and studied the east. Oppenheim believed that it was possible to coordinate a propaganda plan to rally a mass-Muslim uprising against the allies.

Oppenheim convinced the Kaiser that the Islam faith could be a secret weapon and Wilhelm vowed to “inflame the whole Mohammedan world” against the French and British, The Telegraph reported.

To cement his plan, the Kaiser signed a secret treaty on August 2, 1914 with Sultan Mehmed V to establish a political alliance between Germany and the Ottoman Empire.