How far did the UK aristocracy’s love of the Nazis really go?

Roundup
tags: Hitler, England, Nazi, WW II



Bernard Wasserstein is emeritus professor of history at the University of Chicago. His latest book is ‘The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews’ 

The country is bristling with new ideas and new methods… I have found fresh hope and renewed confidence.” 

So wrote the Conservative MP Sir Arnold Wilson after one of the seven visits he paid to Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1937.
Lord Mount Temple, who helped found the Anglo-German Fellowship, declared that Hitler had produced a “national reawakening”. A former minister, Lord Londonderry, called on Hitler and found him “a kindly man with a receding chin and an impressive face”. 

The historian David Pryce-Jones considers this “the silliest sentence ever uttered about Hitler”. But that accolade was surely earned by Sir John Simon, foreign secretary from 1931 to 1935, who called Hitler “an Austrian Joan of Arc with a moustache”.

Even Winston Churchill wrote laudatory comments on Hitler in 1935. He and others were impressed by the dynamism of the Führer, his oratorical skill, and his capacity to mobilise a great national movement. Churchill soon changed his mind: one reason was his distaste for Hitler’s antisemitism. 

The late historian Sir Martin Gilbert liked to tell the story of the occasion when the two warlords almost met. It was 1932 and Churchill, out of office, was visiting Germany. ...




comments powered by Disqus