Robert O'Neil: Lord Baden-Powell Must Have Been a Nazi Piece of Work

Roundup: Talking About History

[Robert O'Neil writes for the Belfast Telegraph.]

I don't know how to tell you this, but I am the owner of several books by Lord Baden-Powell. “For shame!” I hear you cry. I agree. He was a man who ought to have been poked in the eye more often by those around him. But there you are.

So why I have Baden-Powell's books I have no idea. I got them in second-hand bookshops. They're in the company of other curious volumes such as Difficulties: An Attempt To Help, by fully qualified music hall performer Seymour Hicks (1871–1949) and Arthur Mee's Golden Year: Over The Hills And Far Away....

Further investigation of Life's Snags reveals Baden-Powell to be a somewhat brusque individual, evidently sadistic, with a definite penchant for violent solutions.

He relaxed by painting water-colours of firing squads. He was, of course, an imperialist, he thought England was Britain, and his favourite sport was pigsticking. Put it this way, I'm fond of a pint. But, if you'd confronted me with Baden-P in a pub, I would not have considered it a waste to pour the beer over his head..

I have long held that view, but am even more confirmed in it now with new revelations — generally preferable to old revelations — that the moustachioed nutjob admired Adolf Hitler and thought Mein Kampf “a wonderful book with good ideas”. I have read Mein Kampf. Put it this way: the author was no JK Rowling.

Secret MI5 documents, only now made public, show that Baden-P also thought Mussolini and von Ribbentrop were good eggs. Cracked or what?...

Right, it’s time to reorganise my library. And I’m putting these guys, and their charming, cuddly tomes, in a section clearly marked “Utter nutters”.

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