Did Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III support the Nazis and Hitler?
The claim that Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah offered to support the Nazis and Hitler is a false report based on rumor, inuendo, second-hand, and third-hand information from an unreliable source. It is a fact that Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah during World War I and World War II was an ardent supporter of the British and the Allies: "He aided the British in both World Wars and urged his followers to do the same" (Waserman, The Templars and the Assassins, 2001); "During the war, he rendered assistance from his residence in Switzerland to the British Empire in its operations against Germany (which tried to assassinate him) in Iran and elsewhere." (Steinberg, Ismaili Modern, 48). The Imam sent messages to his Jamats worldwide to pray for the Allies and support the British war effort.
Aga Khan III's son Prince Aly Salman Khan raised funds for the Allies in 1939 through the Prince Aly Khan War Fund. He also rendered an outstanding military services to the Allies in the World War II (1939-1945) and joined one of the toughest fighting forces in the world - the French Foreign Legion. He saw service in the Middle East under General Waygand. In 1940, he joined the British forces in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. He was promoted to Lt. Col. on October 10, 1944. Later, he was decorated for distinguished service with the U.S. Army. In an operation, aided by a British officer and two Ismaili irregulars, he captured a tank in the desert of Syria. From the French he received both the Legend of Honour and the Croix de Guerre with palms on August 15, 1944 at Paris.
In fact, the German intelligence who received alleged reports of Aga Khan III offering to support the Nazis did not even believe it and concluded that the Aga Khan was pro-British and on the side of England. The alleged report is a total fabrication by Max Hohenlohe, who consistently provided colorful and embellished reports to the Nazis to justify his own position as a spy on their payroll for hanging out in an expensive hotel for the entire war.
William Lawrence Shirer in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich comments on the alleged reports about Aga Khan III circulating in Nazi intelligence:
"There are in the DGPF volumes several dispatches to the German Foreign Office about the alleged contacts with various British diplomats and personages.... [he then reports the above story and says]... It must be kept in mind that these are German reports and may not be true at all, but they are what Hitler had to go on." (p. 751)
Willi Frischauer in his book The Aga Khans, p. 138, describes the source of the report - Prince Max Hohenlohe as someone of doubtful veracity when it comes to his reports about the Imam:
"One of the Germans was Prince Max Hohenlohe, one of the Hitler peace scouts angling for contacts and not averse, if need be, to justifying their raison d'etre and their expense accounts by highly coloured reports to their paymasters in Berlin. A personable man with fluent English and French, he talked to the Aga Khan in the relaxed, enervating atmosphere of the Palace lounge where all was peace."
"Had the Aga Khan lived to see the version of these conversations which Max Hohenlohe passed on to Walter Hewel, the German Foreign Office official at Hitler's headquarters, as it emerged from German official documents after the war, he would have been deeply shocked. Hohenlohe's reports made the Aga Khan appear either a fool or a knave. At the very time when Britain faced a Nazi invasion, Hohenlohe quotes the Aga Khan as saying that he remembered his stay in Germany with much pleasure and was grateful for ever for the consideration accorded to him."
"The diatribe put in the Aga Khan's mouth did not sound like the view of an Indian prince who had worshipped the British royal family since the first weekend he spent at Windsor as Queen Victoria's guest. Even Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler's Foreign Minister, to whom Hohenlohe's reports were sent, regarded the Aga Khan as a partisan of the British and more likely to pass on information to them than vice versa. The German consul in Switzerland was instructed to tell the Aga Khan, if the opportunity arose, that 'we intend to destroy England'.
When the Hohenlohe reports were published after the war, Aly Khan was angry: 'Ridiculous,' he said, 'my father was passionately pro-British.' While the Aga Khan became the victim of Nazi agents—although he never once left Switzerland during the war, they spread a rumour that he visited occupied Paris as Hitler's guest."