Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
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Tanzania
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Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by Tanzania » 11 May 2022 07:50

Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Last week we have been short in Aqaba / Jordan. Even though the Hashemite Museum there was
closed, I remembered a strange story with German officers, I came across more than ten years ago.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:
The story begins shortly after the end of GW on the east shore of the Red Sea. After the so-called
'Arab Rebellion', the supposed victor, the Hashemite King Hussein ibn Ali, attempted to extend his
claim to the entire Arabian Peninsula and clashed with Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud in the process. Here,
the control of the two most important cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, was particularly important
in order to legitimize the claim to religious leadership within the Arab world. These disputes finally
culminated in the so-called second `Hijaz-Najd War 1924 - 1925´ between the two ruling houses.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_conquest_of_Hejaz

This resulted in some heavy fighting:
Battle of Taif 1924 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taif_massacre
Battle of Makkah 1924 - https://islam.fandom.com/wiki/Battle_of_Mecca_(1924)
The Role of the Ikhwan under 'Abdul-Aziz Al Sa'ud 1916-1934 http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1472/1/1472.pdf

Hejaz-English.jpg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Hejaz


DETAILS:
After the abdication of his father Hussein ibn Ali, King Ali bin Hussein tried to modernize the Hashemite army.
In November 1924, the Syrian merchant as-Sayyid Muhyi'd-Din Uthman Chatila recruited several former
German military personnel as instruction officers for his Hijaz army on behalf of King Ali, since British officers
had meanwhile been banned from serving or supporting this army. On December 24, 1924, German citizens
recruited as instruction officers reached Jiddah, where they were received by the Chief of the General Staff,
Arif Pasha
, and by King Ali. Ten names who were involved in the last fights at Jiddah could be identified:

Major a.D. Hans Steffen
Captain a.D. Daniel Gerth
Medical doctor Hans Fester

(- ? -) Rolf Schoen
(- ? -) Hans Holzapfel
(- ? -) Rolf Linsingen
(- ? -) Kurt Scholz
(- ? -) Ernst Zgran
(- ? -) Fritz Gileschewski
(- ? -) Johannes Modler


QUESTION:
Does anyone know more data or vita of these persons?
Were they involved in the fighting in the Middle East as part of the Asia-Corps?

Regards Holger
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“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

stevebecker
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Re: Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by stevebecker » 11 May 2022 21:47

Mate,
Sorry I found none of these names, then again I don't record everyone.
But a check of these men finds something strange.
the first I checked;
Dan Gerth Pour le Mérite
Served on the Western Front
no mention of any service in the Hejaz in the 20's but little is shown between his Freikorps to joining the Nazi's at the end of the 20's

Major Steffen has a bit to do in that Area during his life with Munitions (Steffen and Heymann) but I have little on him

S.B

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Re: Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by Tosun Saral » 12 May 2022 14:03

Major a.D. Hans Steffen was a soldier of fortune. He was a german flyer.
Die Stunde, 26.5.1935, p.2 published in Wien
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Re: Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by Tosun Saral » 12 May 2022 14:12

Hans Steffen
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien, p. 22
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Re: Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by Tosun Saral » 12 May 2022 14:31

sorry no more about other personel

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Re: Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by Tanzania » 15 May 2022 09:48

(Sorry for late reply; - was busy to change my location from Germany to Tanzania as permanent resident.)

@ Steve
All names appear in the secret files of the German Foreign Office in Berlin,
File No.: BA, Dept. Potsdam, AA No. 43 514, page 129-264

I'm sure you'll agree, that if someone had enough combat experience on either the Eastern or Western Fronts
during the GW, he was not necessarily also suitable for use in Near Easter or Africa. In addition to the climate
and language, the main factor was the oriental mentality of the locals. Because of this, I am convinced that
when selecting former military personnel, great importance was attached to experience in these areas,
especially if you are on your own and work as a military instructor. And the German, so-called German `Asia
Corps´ offered enough opportunity for this until 1918 in Middle East.

Therefore I am convinced that these formally German military personnel were involved in covert or secret
operations in these areas during the GW; - not officially, but possibly in covert operations, as an adviser.

Since these actions by these 'unemployed' German military personnel were somewhat politically sensitive
to the victors of the GW, there were probably no lists or official statement.



@ Tosun
Thank you very much for your efforts. Those are very interesting details; - also that Major a.D. Hans Steffen
must have been in the air force before.

Talal Sha'yfan Muslat Al-Azma mentioned in his Thesis in July 1999 also the following:
02_German pilots with German airplanes in Jiddah 1925.png
Source: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1472/1/1472.pdf page 165



There are also indications that Major a.D. Hans Steffen, together with other aviators, should work for
Abd al-Aziz ibn Sauds army in 1929.
03_Graf von Schaessberg 1929 in Jeddah.jpg

What is new, of course, is that retired Major Hans Steffen was also active during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.
Certainly an interesting and varied military career.

Regards Holger
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“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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Re: Identification of mysterious German officers in Hedjaz?

Post by stevebecker » 20 May 2022 22:45

Mate,

While that's true, we should also remember the Ottomans were careful not to use non muslims in this area during the war.

No Germans were attached to units during the war in the Hejaz and Yeman

The Arabs under the British, did use non muslims in this area, so what are we now seeing with these Germans?

As you say the British were banned, so the Germans had some expirence working with the Ottomans, but this is not the case with Arabs in that area?

As mentioned, Gerth had no expirence there, and his bio shows no move to that area between his Freikorps days (1919 to early 20's) to joining the Nazi's at the end of the 20's

Steffen was an ex Airman, but his story in the Hejaz and Yeman was all to do at first flying, but mainly with Armaments, which he did all over the Middle East.

The lower ranks I can't find any details as yet?

None appear at first look to have any service in the East, so you would think they would use ex Asia Korps officers, but that appears to be not the case.

None appear to know arabic or have any ideas of the people there?

Sorry
S.B

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