‘The Great Persian Dictator’
Mossadegh Smeared As Nazi / Hitler-Like Figure

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | August 20, 2017                       

The Mossadegh 'Nazi / Hitler' Slander Exposed

Nazi Germany — the ultimate expression of the capacity for human depravity — is almost universally recognized as the benchmark for evil in the world. One consequence of this tenet is that ever since the Holocaust, whenever there has been a strong initiative to discredit or demonize a particular political figure, analogies to Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich become nearly inevitable.

It should come as little surprise, then, that Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the controversial and much-maligned Iranian Premier elected in April 1951, was the subject of such attacks in his time.

It didn’t take too long for this rhetoric to surface. In an ominous 1951 editorial, a Canadian newspaper predicted that the rise of Iranian nationalism mirrored the European fascism of Hitler and Mussolini:

Mossadegh’s Troubles | The Lethbridge Herald, September 19, 1951

Nationalism is certainly a funny thing at times. There is no telling where it will take a country. Under Hitler, for instance, Germany went to the dogs after a period of great success. Italy, too, had its day. Both countries were stricken with a very violent type of nationalism which eventually proved their undoing. To a lesser extent, Iran is suffering from the same disease. She, too, will succumb if it is allowed to run its course. Only the removal of Premier Mossadegh and the violently anti-British element which supports him will save Iran.

Iranian nationalism is no different from the German and Italian nationalism which helped bring about the last great war.

While Great Britain was considering a military response to Iran’s seizure of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, The New York Times evoked the days of Neville Chamberlain:

“...the United States, which so condemned British “appeasement” in the 1930’s, should hesitate against forcing the British into appeasement now if it is not also absolutely necessary.” The New York Times, Sept. 28, 1951

One northern California newspaper contributed their own imaginative innuendo:

Sore Need For The First Team | Santa Cruz Sentinel, Oct. 18, 1951

In Iran the British get shamefully kicked out of their own oil fields and refinery. In Egypt, a megalomaniac (among other things) demands the British clear out and stay out of the canal zone and the Sudan. [Referring to King Farouk]

It’s dangerous, not because we might make some enemies in Egypt or Iran, but because we might stir up the Moslem world against us, and Russia is always there with a phony smile, ready to “help them out”. Just like Russia helped out Hitler with a non-aggression pact in 1939. The buddies of Hitler now become the buddies of Mossadegh and Farouk, only Russia could and would swallow Mossadegh and Farouk with one gulp, given the chance.

The mainstreaming of the Hitler/Mossadegh analogy got an extra boost in this 1952 New York Times editorial:

A Bid For Dictatorship | The New York Times (July 15, 1952)

Having brought his country to the verge of bankruptcy, Premier Mossadegh is now trying to take it further along the road to ruin by demanding dictatorial powers for six months, on the plea that he needs these powers to pull Iran out of the crisis into which he has plunged it. What he proposes is in effect a legalized coup d’etat that smacks of Hitler’s technique.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This is the legal device by which Hitler also acquired absolute powers. He had no intention, of course, of surrendering them on termination of the ostensible period for which they had been granted, and there is no assurance that Mr. Mossadegh would act differently. It remains to be seen whether the Iranian Parliament, in which Mr. Mossadegh commands only a die-hard minority, will heed the warning that Hitler’s example provides.

Then came the fresh wave of accusations of a new ‘dictatorship’ after the July 21st pro-Mossadegh uprising known as 30 Tir which returned him to power after his resignation over control of the military.

Australian editorial cartoonist Eyre Jr. portrayed Mossadegh as Aladdin, riding a “dictatorship” carpet with a genie bottle labeled “smelling salts” in one hand and a bloody sword in the other, conjuring the spirits of Hitler and Mussolini.

Harry Giles Eyre in The Sydney Morning Herald (July 24, 1952)
Political cartoon by Eyre Jr. (Harry Giles Eyre) in The Sydney Morning Herald

Middle East Holocaust

In this cartoon by a British artist, Mossadegh gazes at busts of Hitler, Napoleon, Mussolini and Caesar and ponders which role model to emulate.

Cartoon by Harold Frank Hoar, aka Acanthus (1952)
Political cartoon by Harold Frank Hoar, aka Acanthus (1952)

Sefton Delmer (British journalist) | September 7, 1952

The Persian mobs last year were convinced that their good Doctor would usher in an era of wealth and ease for them.

So were the Germans convinced that Hitler would conquer the world, and make them a rich, slave-owning herrenvolk.

The Hitler comparisons really started rolling in Aug. 1953 after Mossadegh called for a national referendum on whether or not to dissolve the Majles (Parliament) due to the level of foreign influence corrupting it. The press proceeded to echo a line so similar, it could not have been coincidental.

Mossadeq Poll Outpoints Hitler, Stalin

TIME magazine wrote: “Hitler’s best as a vote-getter was 99.81% Ja’s in 1936; Stalin’s peak was 99.73% Da’s in 1946. Last week Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, the man in the iron cot, topped them all with 99.93%.”

On NBC TV, announcer John Cameron Swayze told the audience that Mossadegh “has accomplished what Hitler and Stalin could not. He received 99 910 percent of the vote in a carefully managed referendum.”

The New York Times scoffed, “A plebiscite more fantastic and farcical than any ever held under Hitler or Stalin is now being staged in Iran by Premier Mossadegh in an effort to make himself unchallenged dictator of the country.”

Red Grip Closing On Persia | The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) August 12, 1953

In a deliberate act of incitement, the CIA insinuated a Nazi-like tenor to Mossadegh’s government in a fake editorial they crafted to be translated and published in Iranian newspapers. Following their summary of the referendum, it stated:

Along the Road Toward Dictatorship | CIA Propaganda (August 1953)

Mass meetings were arranged to express the “will of the people” and groups assembled by the government were led in the chant “Mossadeq is victorious” in a manner only too reminiscent of meetings held in Europe in the 1930’s.

IJmuider Courant (Netherlands) | August 4, 1953

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) | August 5, 1953

On August 19, 1953, Mossadegh was overthrown in a military coup aided by the U.S. and Britain. His home was attacked and he was forced to flee for his life. Once again, the media circulated a nearly identical meme: that Mossadegh had been besieged in his “Hitler-like bunker”. This phrase or some slight variation of it was repeated by The New York Times, The Associated Press, and numerous other outlets.

The day of the coup, The Wall Street Journal published a sanctimonious editorial placing Mossadegh among the pantheon of classic, power-mad tyrants with all of the usual villainy:

Rise Of A Dictator | The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 1953

Dictators come in various sizes and shapes, but they all come the same way.

They come like Mossadegh by emotional appeals to their countrymen and their designs are always the same: A search for complete power.

Mussolini was vain and pompous and he appealed to his people’s pride by promising to bring again the grandeur that was Rome. Hitler, the cruel fanatic, was an egoist who talked of a race destined to master the world, and his people believed he foretold their destiny. Stalin was ruthless, silent and cunning, but when he spoke to his people he was always the little father of the Russians, posing as the man who had dedicated his life to bringing about the greatest good, for the greatest number. Even [Louisiana governor] Huey Long, who cussed and talked of corn pone wars, promised to make every man a king and the people at the crossroads and creek forks believed him. Peron appealed to his shirtless ones and rode to vast and dictatorial power. [Argentine dictator Juan Perón]

Mossadegh puts a different twist to all of this, but the appeal is just the same.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mossadegh has now dissolved the parliament and it is not hard to guess that in the new one no voices will question whatever he wants done. Today he holds Iran’s fate and fortune in his thin hands. He has achieved what he sought: Complete power. It is clear that he had to achieve it to keep what power he already had. Like all the dictators before him, he had played on his people’s pride and promised them he would do things he could not do, any more than Mussolini could revive the Roman empire or Hitler could rule the world.

One Melbourne paper celebrated the demise of Mossadegh with a bold label:

End of a fuhrer | The Argus, August 21, 1953

THE swift and violent overthrow of DR. MOSSADEQ, Premier and virtual dictator of Persia, has been a complete surprise to the world, and a pleasant surprise to the Western half of it.

But it would be unwise to assume that the overthrow of a little fuhrer means that Persia will return to the comity of nations and confirm the rights of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

End of a fuhrer | The Argus (Australia) August 21, 1953

In yet another nervy instance of slander, The Santa Cruz Sentinel tried to draw a parallel between Mossadegh and Nazi leader / noted war criminal Hermann Göring:

Curtain For The Comedian | The Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 24, 1953

Hermann Göring The performance of Mossadegh in Iran, which has now ended, at least for the time being, was far less funny than many newspaper readers might think. The cavortings and fits of an elderly man who would drop into a dead faint at the slightest provocation made amusing reading, all right. So did the rainbow-hued pajamas that invariably were mentioned as the premier’s attire. One should not forget, though, that the fainting spells always came at the strategically right moment, and that the pajamas were no less an instrument of publicity than were Hermann Goering’s neon-lighted uniforms.

The Uralla Times (Australia), August 27, 1953

Mossadeq, of Persia, appears to be on the road followed by Hitler and Mussolini. The Shah’s flight to Rome seemed to leave the way open for the doctor to proclaim himself as absolute boss, but his confidence left him vulnerable and he was duly upended.

A Kentucky newspaper retroactively likened Mossadegh to Hitler and Mussolini in 1956:

Let’s Hope the Age of Reason is Here | Meade County Messenger, August 9, 1956

Mussolini marched into Ethiopia without cause other than a dictatorial complex. Hitler took over Czechoslovakia because it pleased his fancy and because of its importance in his plans for world conquest. Mossadegh, former Premier of Iran took over the British oil installations a few years ago without due processes. Mussolini and Hitler were brought into line after a bloody world war and their own destruction. Mossadegh was eventually tried as a traitor because of the serious economic disaster his action had brought upon the country.

In his 1961 memoir, the Shah of Iran devoted an entire chapter to denigrating Mossadegh. At one point, he suggested that Mossadegh could be more “negative” then even Hitler:

Mission For My Country (1961) by His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi Much more serious, though, was his basic negativism. Hitler railed against the Treaty of Versailles; but he also had a definite programme, ill-advised though it was. But, oddly, Mossadegh’s philosophy and stated objectives, which had temporary popular appeal, were almost exclusively negative.

Later, while criticizing the referendum over the dissolution of Parliament, the Shah made this remark about the suspiciously overwhelming number of ‘yes’ votes:

The results were all that Mossadegh — or Hitler before him — could have desired.
It will be recalled that Mossadegh was replaced as Prime Minister by Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, who in 1942 had conspired with German forces in Iran, resulting in his arrest by the British. The United States and Britain were well aware of this, but weren’t phased a bit. The recent major release of Iran documents by the State Dept. contains an undated CIA document from after April 16, 1953 with a “biographical sketch” of Zahedi, nonchalantly acknowledging his past Nazi ties:


[3 lines not declassified] indicate that he is competent, energetic, aggressive and patriotic. Derogatory comments also emphasize the aggressive aspect of his character. Associated with the Nazi efforts in Iran during World War II, he has long been firmly anti-Soviet.

It might also be noted that the Republican President who authorized Operation Ajax, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had successfully fought and defeated the Nazis as U.S. Army General during World War II. Just imagine what he would make of his party’s shameless appeasement of violent Nazism in the streets of America in the year 2017.

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Related links:

Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Mossadegh Compared

SENTENCED TO HANG | Dr. Mossadegh’s Fatal Punishment, Contrived by the Press

Mossadegh’s Great Escape From Tehran To Bogota

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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