Britain, Germany and the Road to the Holocaust: British Attitudes towards Nazi Atrocities 9780755623747, 9781786733870

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Table of contents :
Cover
Title
Copyright
Contents
Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. The First World War and its Aftermath
Germans: ‘Frightfulness’
Armenians: The last burst of indignation
Jews in Poland: a legacy of mistrust
2. The Rehabilitation of Germany
Post-war violence: the atrocity backlash
Growth of appeasement
Rise of the Nazis: working towards the Germans
3. Unlikely Victims
The League of Nations: Shanghai and Abyssinia
Atrocities in Spain: a moment of unity
China: a forgotten campaign
4. Jews under German Rule: a Hierarchy of Compassion
Escalating terror: The reluctant road to war
War: splitting the Germans
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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Britain, Germany and the Road to the Holocaust: British Attitudes towards Nazi Atrocities
 9780755623747, 9781786733870

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Russell Wallis is Research Fellow at the Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he gained his PhD in Modern History supervised by David Cesarani.

To my parents: Reginald Wallis, who fought from the Normandy beaches to Bergen-Belsen and beyond, and Barbara Wallis, whose father Herbert Cook lost his life in the same war.

Britain, Germany and the Road to the Holocaust British Attitudes towards Nazi Atrocities

Russell Wallis

BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2014 by I.B. Tauris & Co. Paperback edition first published 2020 Copyright © Russell Wallis, 2014 Russell Wallis has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgements on p. vii constitute an extension of this copyright page. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: 978-1-7807-6345-3 PB: 978-1-3501-5776-7 ePDF: 978-1-7867-3387-0 eBook: 978-1-7867-2387-1 Series: International Library of Twentieth Century History, volume 55 Typeset in Minion by Dexter Haven Associates Ltd, London To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

Contents Acknowledgements Introduction

vii 1

1 The First World War and its Aftermath Germans: ‘Frightfulness’ Armenians: the last burst of indignation Jews in Poland: a legacy of mistrust

9 9 33 46

2 The Rehabilitation of Germany Post-war violence: the atrocity backlash Growth of appeasement Rise of the Nazis: working towards the Germans

63 63 88 94

3 Unlikely Victims The League of Nations: Shanghai and Abyssinia Atrocities in Spain: a moment of unity China: a forgotten campaign

118 118 148 158

4 Jews under German Rule: a Hierarchy of Compassion Escalating terror: the reluctant road to war War: splitting the Germans

171 171 202

Conclusion

236

Notes

241

Bibliography

295

Index

315

Acknowledgements My thanks go to the many people who have offered advice and given encouragement throughout the process of writing my doctoral thesis and its rewriting for publication. Foremost is Professor David Cesarani, who has provided invaluable support and made countless constructive comments. Others who have contributed time and effort to the evolution of this book include Professors Bob Moore, Pat Thane and Dan Stone, Dr Zoë Waxman, the staff of the various libraries and archives I have visited, but most especially at the British Library, British Newspaper Archive, New York American Jewish Committee Archive, Bodleian Library, London Metropolitan Archive, House of Lords Archive, Sussex University Archive, King’s College, Cambridge Archive, London School of Economics and Political Science Archive, University College, London Archive, Churchill Archive, and the Institute for Jewish Research, New York. I would like to thank the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which fully funded the doctoral research on which this book was based. I would also like to thank Virginia Myers who copyedited the manuscript and last, but by no means least, I.B.Tauris publishers. Particular thanks go to Dr Sarah Butler who has encouraged me in my efforts over many years, and finally, to Ange, Luke, Amy and Dan Wallis.

vii

Introduction From the onset of the First World War, over a period of 30 years, Britons were faced with a series of overseas atrocities. They did not turn away. Instead, distant brutality pervaded the national consciousness and tugged at the national conscience. Debate permeated all levels of British society, involving politicians, academics, the clergy, journalists, humanitarians and the public. Atrocities were contested in parliament, in the press, over the airwaves, on the streets and in private. Victims became the focus of national concern and humanitarian action. In fact, mass violence in other lands was very much part of the national story. Britain’s preoccupation with far-off violence took root in the nineteenth century, an era peppered with humanitarian crusades. The campaign to abolish the slave trade, William Gladstone’s 1870s agitation against the ruthless Ottoman suppression of Bulgarians and the outpouring of indignation on behalf of the Armenians in the 1890s were all seen as part of a much-lauded tradition of compassion for small vulnerable nations and oppressed peoples. Early twentieth-century Britons had fond memories of their nation’s involvement in good causes. It was believed, with good reason, that Britain was an eminent, if not the pre-eminent, world power, and that this role carried with it a heavy responsibility. Despite fears of decline, this belief was still strong in the first half of the twentieth century. As Richard Overy points out, in interwar Britain there was a ‘widespread contemporary belief that, together with the Empire, Britain was the hub of the Western world … in much the way that America is regarded, and regards itself, today’.1 Britons felt their strength imposed upon them a moral burden in an unstable world. Doubtless, arrogance and self-interest played a key role and it was probably the same sense of self-belief that reinforced support for empire.



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But the fact remains that most were convinced that Britain’s role as international arbiter was a core aspect of British identity. In other words, responding justly to overseas tyranny and violence was more than just political; it was embedded in the national culture.2 This book tracks the outworking of this tradition from 1914 to the Second World War. It shows that humanitarianism was alive and well in Britain but that the philanthropic urge had its limits. Britons responded compassionately to a variety of victims who had been singled out for bad treatment, persecution and even slaughter. Whether African, Asian or European, the British public showed that the diversity of victim was no barrier to empathy. Most foreign victims of mass violence – and in some cases their oppressors – could be cast and then re-cast in the British imagination to make them worthy of support. They could move from being considered as ‘outsiders’ to ‘insiders’ with a surprising degree of alacrity. But this was not the case for Jews. Whether responding to anti-Jewish persecution and violence in the aftermath of the Great War or during the Nazi period, Jews proved to be an exception to the rule. When Jews were victims, the predominantly reticent, even taciturn response rarely fluctuated. Their image was somehow more intractable and less susceptible to sympathetic malleability. When confronted with a succession of overseas atrocities, British responses to persecution and violence against Jews were notably muted by comparison with others. Jews simply could not be recast as ‘worthy’ victims in the same manner. The ways in which perceptions of Jews interfered with British humanitarianism is an important part of this story.3 Another other major strand running through this account is the British perception of Germans. British empathy for Germans, especially so-called ‘ordinary’ Germans, came with comparative ease. This was often based on a perceived racial or cultural connection between the two peoples. Although prior to the Great War the relationship between Britain and Germany was increasingly difficult, it was equally characterised by cultural exchanges, a large network of personal connections, intellectual interchange and mutual admiration. As Dominik Geppert and Robert Gerwarth assert, ‘the old antagonism paradigm is not adequate to interpret the complexities of the intellectual cross-fertilizations which shaped British–German relations as much as the better-known rivalries.’



INTRODUCTION

In all kinds of ways, ‘the two countries embraced each other’s culture with a striking intensity partly motivated by competition and hostility, but also driven by admiration for each other’s achievements and the intention of emulating them.’4 This propensity to see good things in Germany did not entirely disappear with the First World War. Moreover, after the war had ended, old connections were quickly re-established and reinforced by a growing belief that Germany was maltreated at Versailles. There was a tenacity about British admiration of Germans that survived the war and positively blossomed between the wars. Interwar Britons tended to work hard towards an understanding of Germans and the German experience. After the Nazis came to power, deeply ingrained ethical positions, which the British often displayed when confronted with overseas injustice, were consciously subdued, ostensibly for the sake of a just peace, and calls for a just peace were often a convoluted attempt to understand the world from a German point of view. In a curious inversion of the British humanitarian tradition, Germany was often categorised as one of those nations that was deserving of British help. The cult of German victimhood, worked at so effectively by the Nazis, found its way into the British mainstream. One astonishing element of this tendency was that it lasted well into the Second World War. This impacted on British reactions to the isolation, persecution and murder of European Jews. There can be a tendency to see interwar Britain as somehow separate from a volatile world and detached from the terrible events that constituted the Holocaust. One reason for this was the stand that Britain eventually made against Germany and in particular the period after France fell. This has created a disproportionately narrow interpretation of Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world. In fact, Britain was enthralled by international events and information about these was fed through a number of channels. The 1930s witnessed a convergence of factors concerning the sharing and reception of information that has to be understood before we can picture how Britons faced up to the reality of Hitler’s Germany. It was a period in which mass communication came of age. Newspapers had been an important aspect of British life since the nineteenth century. The number of local titles had shrunk considerably but had been eaten up by national dailies and weeklies, which now enjoyed



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unprecedented circulation.5 Here was a generation who saw reading the newspaper not as an option, but as an essential part of daily existence. This national habit was enhanced by two more recent phenomena: the radio and cinema newsreels. The 1920s investment in radio infrastructure meant that transmissions could be picked up across the whole country. The number of licence holders exploded between 1927, when more than two million were issued, and 1939 when there were over nine million. It has been estimated that by 1935 some 98 per cent of the population could listen to at least one BBC station.6 Just as important were the national habits that went with owning or leasing a radio set. This national auditory enterprise was funnelled into the traditionally sacred space of the living room at home through a sturdy piece of equipment that was literally part of the furniture. BBC broadcasts were not background noise. ‘Listening in’, the colloquialism used to describe this act of mass intimacy, was not something done while doing something else.7 Nor was this activity denied to the working classes. George Orwell observed in depression-hit Wigan, ‘everyone has access to a radio.’8 In fact, 1930, the height of the slump, ‘saw the largest ever annual increase in radio licences’.9 Newspapers and radio were complemented by the near ubiquitous consumption of cinema newsreels. As Anthony Aldgate writes, ‘in 1934 there were some 4,305 cinemas operating in Great Britain, offering a total of some 3,872,000 seats, and during that particular year there were 963 million admissions to those cinemas.’10 This equates to an approximate average of 20 million admissions per week. These three factors contributed to a remarkable degree of national homogeneity in the consumption of information. The other constituent in this confluence of factors was a general hunger for information about foreign affairs. According to Overy, the ‘voluntary pursuit of information’, which included ‘current crises’, was ‘a social phenomenon of great importance’. Drawing on long traditions of volunteerism rooted in public life, as well as the experience of many people in serving the British Empire abroad, a host of issues elicited ‘the formation of committees, associations, or societies which in turn established a circle of branches and sub-committees to spread the word countrywide’.11 Britain was a switched-on society, highly attuned to the cacophony of international crises, and into this mix came news that



INTRODUCTION

Hitler was leader of Germany, a country not so far away and about which the British people were very well aware. Because they were aware, the government had to take notice of what they thought. Over a 30-year period from 1914, British responses to atrocity were shaped by the interaction of government and public opinion. One informed the other and vice versa. Successive governments took public attitudes on the subject very seriously, and despite wanting to take a lead, they invariably found themselves at the behest of popular conviction. This book positions British politicians firmly within the democratic paradigm in which they were compelled to act. For example, when Chamberlain flew to Munich to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, he went with the blessing of the king and queen, church leaders, most MPs, most newspapers and majority opinion. In other words, his actions were not merely reflective of the opinion of a few ‘guilty men’.12 But the Munich crisis was not the only one that consumed the public. By then foreign affairs had been discussed, debated and written about with an astonishing degree of intensity for a number of years. This reflected a widespread concern for civilization and a desire for a better world. In September 1935, Vera Brittain’s close friend, Winifred Holtby, knew she was dying. Three days before she passed away, she read a questionnaire in the Daily Mail asking readers to say what they most wanted if death was imminent. Her reply was ‘a decided British foreign policy’.13 The importance of foreign affairs in everyday British life should not be underestimated. In the process of tracking British responses to atrocity, it is necessary to take a position on certain issues that remain a source of controversy for historians. The first of these is the extent to which Britons went happily off to fight in the Great War. The most recent research suggests that the British response to the declaration of war was ‘much more complex than the myth of war enthusiasm suggests’. As Catriona Pennell writes, although crowds turned out to express support for war, ‘other crowds opposed it’, while ‘many more people were shocked and disbelieving, or at best reluctant in their acceptance. The belief that the war was made unavoidable by German violation of Belgian neutrality was not the same as a jingoistic anti-German fervour.’14 The next issue, which follows on from the first, was the depth and breadth to which British society was given over to anti-German xenophobia. I take the view that although



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German atrocities caused periodic regionalised waves of anti-German feeling, especially in 1915, there remained a significant mainstream element that continued to point out that an older, cultured, kinder Germany still existed and could at any moment resurface. Nonetheless, the overriding feeling during the war was that the conflict, when all was said and done, was worth fighting. This last point is also controversial. Popular conceptions of the Great War, of ‘trenches and relentless mud and guts’, of lions led by donkeys, still hold sway.15 Wartime propaganda has been particularly criticised. German atrocities during this war have, until relatively recently, been considered a myth, a figment of a febrile British imagination oversensitised by wartime. This, though, was merely part of a wider embellished story, one that still echoes today. That of nations inadvertently falling over the precipice into war, of the futility of death, of a lost generation, of innocence lost forever. In such accounts, 1914 to 1918 was a feverish aberration, a time when Britain lost its head. Worse though, were the few who decided that German and Turkish atrocities were an opportunity too good to miss. These were the propagandists who invented stories about barbaric Germans and bloodthirsty Ottomans, unleashing them on an unsuspecting public who unquestioningly took these messages to heart. Blank canvasses for the painters of lies, they signed up to die for an empty cause against an enemy who was really a friend. To put it another way, so the argument goes, those in the know attempted to provide for the public a false picture of the war and its motives, so that the latter willingly sacrificed themselves for a nefarious cause. This interpretation tends to be based on the post-war construct that the war was pointless, that millions of young men died for a cause that did not exist, unless you were one of the ‘hard-faced men’ who looked ‘as if they had done very well out of the war’.16 In reality, the picture was infinitely more nuanced.17 The disagreements at the outbreak of war were conducted by those who saw war as a necessary evil in order to protect the national interest, and by others who believed war should be avoided if at all possible. In fact, most probably believed some of each and this, doubtless, varied over time.18 In the battle of ideas the former position held sway. One reason for this was that many of those who had erred towards the latter before the war had



INTRODUCTION

their liberal sensibilities overwhelmed by incontrovertible evidence of German atrocities. The actual barbarity of the German army, facilitated by German administrators, and the seemingly incomprehensible acquiescence of the German people, sealed the commitment of these particular Britons to the war. But, as the first chapter shows, throughout the war it is possible to detect many of the doubts and equivocations about Germany that plagued the national conscience. Just as a more generous perception of Germans is detectable during the war, it is also evident immediately afterwards. I seek to add nuance to the story of a nation embittered by the war and determined to reap vengeance on a prostrate former enemy. This idea, that the 1918 election was universally characterised by anti-German feeling, was popularised by John Maynard Keynes’s polemic Economic Consequences of the Peace and has proved to be remarkably enduring.19 In truth, as Charles Loch Mowatt pointed out in his seminal interwar history, Keynes’s work, ‘whose biting wit and vivid portraiture, phrased in an exciting and quotable style, ensured for it much greater acceptance than the facts warranted’.20 It is simplistic to characterise post-war Britain in such terms. In fact, during this period we see the emergence, built on an existing foundation, of a common interwar view, vis-à-vis the noxious Versailles settlement and a strong inclination to understand the socalled ‘ordinary’ German perspective. This book tracks the growth of this tendency through the interwar years and into the Second World War, and does so in conjunction with an examination of British reactions to a succession of atrocities. We will see that proof of compassion or indignation on behalf of a range of foreign victims is compelling. For Belgians, French, Armenians, Abyssinians, Spaniards or Chinese, the ‘otherness’ of the victims was no barrier to large-scale humane responses. When it came to the persecution and murder of Jews, things were more subdued. Some have sought to explain this lack of humanitarian feeling or action by suggesting that Britons were hampered by an inability to fathom what was happening to Jews.21 Tony Kushner in particular argues that the British ‘liberal imagination’ was incapable of comprehending the ‘illiberal phenomenon’ of Nazi violence.22 Yet, following Kushner’s advice to examine a longer time span so as to include ‘the complex processes of history and memory’, it is apparent that



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Britons were perfectly capable of responding compassionately to a range of overseas victims over an extended period.23 By tracking responses over time, it is clear that Britons understood violence on a massive scale only too well, and this includes Nazi violence. By the time the Holocaust was publicly acknowledged in December 1942, a succession of horrifying examples of man’s inhumanity to man had been observed, dissected, and absorbed into national thought. Britons were no strangers to atrocity. Of course these things were contested, but the fact that they were so often debated with such intensity and passion showed that the British people grasped what mass violence meant. They understood that particular victims could be isolated, persecuted and killed, long before the Nazis came to power. Specifically, and this is not to suggest that they understood the detail of Nazi plans, they comprehended what went on in Germany after Hitler came to power and in Europe when Jews and others – such as homosexuals, the handicapped and ‘gypsies’ – were being exterminated. The fate of Jews was not sufficiently high enough on people’s agenda at any time after 1933 to generate sufficient public momentum to challenge government policy. The following pages examine some of the main reasons why this was the case. As Saul Friedländer writes, the chronicle of the murder of Europe’s Jews ‘cannot be limited only to a recounting of German policies, decisions, and measures’, but ‘must include the reactions (and at times the initiatives) of the surrounding world’.24 This includes Britain. Telling the story of British responses to atrocity will help to explain one key strand of why ‘Nazi and related anti-Jewish policies could unfold to their most extreme levels without the interference of any major countervailing interests.’25 As such, this book shows that the history of Britain is intricately entwined with the history of the Holocaust.



1

The First World War and its Aftermath

G e R m a n s : ‘F R iG h t F u l n e s s’

In August 1914 German troops invaded Belgium in a preconceived plan to encircle French forces and prevent a two-front war. They encountered unexpectedly stiff resistance from a desperately outnumbered Belgian army, especially at the fortified cities of Liège and Antwerp. As well as targeting urban and industrial hubs, the Germans cut through a plethora of smaller towns, villages and rural settlements. It was in places such as Louvain, Aerschot and Dinant that German officers and troops subjected Belgian civilians to a campaign of terror. Troops destroyed public buildings, burned homes and murdered the inhabitants. They herded men, women and children into town squares or churches to be executed.1 Over the following 50 months the Germans deported over 100,000 workers to make the weapons needed to sustain the military effort. Many were tortured for refusing to work and thousands were jailed on false charges, including the failure to inform on family or neighbours. Such behaviour evoked a widespread sense of terror.2 Around a quarter of a million Belgian civilians lost their lives as a result of brutal military occupation policies, a figure that does not include those murdered in the autumn of 1914.3 Britons looked on dumbfounded. Few, if any, expected such brutality and inhumanity, at least in Western Europe, the ‘centre’ of world civilization. But it did not end there. It was a similar story in northern France and Eastern Europe. French civilians were forced into labour camps and many thousands conscripted to support the German military machine. In the East, the German occupation of newly annexed areas ‘combined systematic exploitation’,



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as Mark Mazower puts it, ‘with violent pacification’.4 Here, German plans had a particular impact. This was where the high command, soldiers and, to a significant extent, the German population believed annexationist ambitions could be fulfilled. The ‘crude and untutored’ populations in the East would, in Vejas Liulevicius’s words, ‘be cultivated and ordered by German genius for organization’.5 Both the atrocities carried out during the initial stages of the war and the ongoing exploitation of conquered peoples cannot be explained by the vagaries of non-commissioned and junior officers. Rather, according to John Horne and Alan Kramer, action on the ground mirrored ‘high military policy’.6 There was some dissent over the ruthless and arbitrary repression of civilians among the military, but it was not strong enough to overcome the ‘collective fury of soldiers barely under discipline’ or ‘the authority of the military hierarchy and the impetus of a smoothly functioning machine of destruction’.7 The scale of suffering and destruction was without precedent in modern Western Europe.8 Nevertheless, Germans were convinced that their actions were either justifiable reprisals for a franc-tireur guerilla war waged by the Belgian populace, or the result of military necessity. Britons, however, saw things rather differently. Phrases sprang up to describe atrocities, such as ‘Prussianism’ or ‘atrociousness’, but the one that stuck in spite of its apparently anodyne connotations, the one that became a metonym for state-sponsored violence against defenceless civilians, was ‘frightfulness’. In order to understand British responses to reports of widespread and apparently officially endorsed brutality, we need to examine the longer-term context. Important, first of all, will be the development of attitudes to how war should be fought and, second, how Britons viewed Germans.

The laws of war Prior to the Great War there was growing international pressure to place some limit on the use of force during wartime. The roots of this dated back to 1625, when the influential Dutch philosopher, political theorist and lawyer, Hugo Grotius, published his monumental treatise, On the

0

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Laws of War and Peace. Concerned to explore the rightful conduct of belligerents, Grotius took the rather chilling view that in war, things that were necessary to attain the end in view were permissible.9 Fortunately, this had many caveats and what was deemed ‘necessary’ was a matter of earnest conjecture. His work laid the foundation for modern international law.10 During the Enlightenment ideas about conduct in war and human rights were explored further. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract of 1762 pointed out that although war produced a legal relationship between nations, it did not ‘cover the civilian population’. Rousseau’s ideas influenced the French National Constituent Assembly which, believing that ‘ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man’ were ‘the sole cause of public calamities’, approved in 1789 the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’. Noble concepts – freedom, equality, rights of liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression – thus became enshrined in the constitution of a global power.11 Although Abigail Green maintains that the lofty idealism of the late eighteenth century gave way to an increasingly defensive and combative nationalism and that the ‘story of human rights’ was ‘a story of failure’,12 there were some notable moves towards limiting the deadly and destructive effects of war during the nineteenth century. The 1856 Treaty of Paris that signalled the end of the Crimean War spelled out, among other things, the rules of maritime law between nations. In 1864, the ‘Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded’ in war was ratified in Geneva, its first Convention. Later conventions in 1899 and 1907 suggest that the momentum behind calls to limit the employment of force during wartime was gathering pace. A wide range of concerns were addressed, such as the launching of projectiles and explosives from balloons, asphyxiating gases, expanding bullets and the protection of merchant vessels. Also discussed was the permanent neutrality of Switzerland and Belgium. Indeed, there were no fewer than 33 instructions, articles, resolutions and declarations issued between 1864 and 1914.13 What such measures lacked, though, was clarity and teeth. They were open to different interpretations and in the event of contravention, devoid of any coercive mechanism to enforce adherence. Despite the problems associated with garnering international consensus limiting the use of force, signatories were increasingly obliged to remain within agreed limits, and



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these limits were narrowing.14 The codifiers of war were aware that popular feeling about the subject was changing. Although the body of theory associated with a ‘just war’ was not the staple discussion at cafés and bars throughout the Western world, it was a focal point of an anxiety that grew in line with late nineteenth-century humanitarian sensibilities.15 Germany was a participant in discussions and a signatory to many of these attempts to make war less barbarous. Yet, there was a significant body of opinion inside Germany with beliefs that ran counter to the dominant Western trend. Make no mistake, Germany was not alone in taking a ‘pragmatic’ view of conflict, in which the most efficient route to victory was the most barbaric. Britain had blood on its hands, for example, because of its ruthless suppression of the 1857 Sepoy rebellion in India and brutal response to the 1865 slave revolt at Morant Bay in Jamaica.16 Although neither could be classified as ‘war’ in the strictest sense, they were the result of a particularly harsh doctrine of force that was rightly assumed to have significant support in the homeland. In Britain, however, there was a trajectory of increased public dissent against colonial violence. The Jamaican rebellion evoked greater indignation than the rebellion in India, while the treatment of the Boers, Britain’s enemies in the Second Anglo–South African War (1899–1902), resulted in an even greater backlash against what the leader of the Liberal opposition, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, termed ‘methods of barbarism’.17 Of course, the British were better at pointing out the failings of other imperialist powers than their own and public outrage never seriously challenged Britain’s ‘right’ to possess an empire.18 But, the fact remains the public conscience was relatively well developed, and played an increasing role in political considerations about the use of force. Leading up to 1914 there was serious discussion in Britain about the laws of war. The Institute of International Law, founded in 1872 ‘for the purpose of promoting unanimity in the fixation of the principles of international law’, was increasingly influential.19 In 1912, an expert on international law at the London School of Economics, Dr Alexander Pearce Higgins, published War and the Private Citizen, based on his inaugural lecture.20 War, he argued, was ‘not a condition of anarchy’ and men who took part in it did not cease ‘to be moral beings responsible to one another, and to God’.21 He detailed the steps made to regulate



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warfare and pointed out that even in cases not covered by international agreements: ‘populations and belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations as they result from the usages established between civilised nations, from the laws of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience’.22 In other words, there were accepted limitations on what combatants could unleash either on military opponents or, crucially, on the civilians of enemy countries. This was not a controversial view in Britain. In Germany, discussion about the nature of war, about what means should justify what ends, dated back to the Bismarckian era. As in Britain, it was mostly linked to the question of colonialism. The unification of Germany in 1871 heralded the birth of a national and imperialistic journey in which the tensions of ‘ethnic homogeneity over diversity, imperial enlargement over stasis, and Lebensraum as the route to biological survival’ were key components.23 The constitution of the new Reich enshrined the idea of expansion. Yet, Bismarck was a cautious imperialist. Instead of opting for an expansionist model of national defence, he chose internal consolidation under Prussian leadership. This emphasised the identification and marginalisation of what he saw as the Reich’s internal foes. However, by the late 1880s Bismarck’s cautious colonialism had become outmoded. His departure in 1890 signalled the rise of a more belligerent imperialism. The expansion of the navy allowed the masses to demonstrate their commitment to the Reich. Less Prussian than the army, arguably it aided national consolidation through ‘ship launches, and fleet reviews that blended regional symbols and imagined histories into a coherent fiction of German unity’. The Kaiser’s anti-British stance during the Second Anglo–South African War found a well of support among the working classes, officials, academics, clergymen, professionals and entrepreneurs. After the British defeat of the Boers, German imperialism still had opponents, especially in the Centre and Social Democratic Parties, but as Shelley Baronowski points out, opponents never had the leverage ‘to undermine the widespread conviction’, especially among the middle classes, ‘that Germany deserved to be a global power’.24 All this had ramifications for the debate on how wars should be conducted.



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This debate was somewhat dominated by nationalists and expansionists, such as history professor Heinrich von Treitschke and military historian Friedrich von Bernhardi. Treitschke was one of the most influential teachers and publicists of Bismarck’s Germany.25 Increasingly deaf, he would shout from his lectern his disdain for the governments of non-Prussian states, women, socialists, Catholics, Poles and Jews to enraptured students. Famous for his proclamation, ‘the Jews are our misfortune’, he used the Volk concept with its emphasis on the visceral, immutable character of all Germans to underpin his advocacy of ruthless expansionism.26 Treitschke preached about the ‘moral majesty of war’, claiming that Germans must ‘overcome the natural feelings of humanity for the sake of the fatherland’.27 His influence after 1871 was considerable. It was evident, as his biographer Andreas Dorpalen points out, in the publication by former students of ‘an immense autobiographical literature, ranging from the memoirs of statesmen and politicians, officials and judges, to those of educators and newspapermen, doctors and scientists, lawyers, businessmen, and military leaders’.28 His views were echoed in the wartime statements of renowned liberals such as Max Weber, the principal architect of modern social science, and Friedrich Naumann, the liberal publicist, politician and later co-founder of the German Democratic Party.29 The next generation of German historians, reliant on the Prussian Ministry of Education, failed to create a critical distance between themselves and the dominant ideas of the Prusso–German monarchy.30 However, Treitschke’s footprint was mostly discernable in the arguments of pan-Germans, who gave his ideas an even more harsh, radicalised edge. Their philosophy was a potentially explosive mix in which expansion equalled self-preservation and the large German state would swallow smaller ones in a Darwinian struggle for supremacy. Notable among its proponents was Bernhardi, whose immensely popular book, Germany and the Next War (1911), encouraged readers not to ‘regard the massacres, the burning, the battles, and the marches, etc.’ with the eyes of children but instead to see ‘these murders and horrors’ as ‘a business, divine in itself, and as needful and necessary to the world as eating or drinking.’31 Militarism and ideas of race – mostly the superiority of the ‘German’ one – permeated his prose. Bernhardi’s views did not directly



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correspond with those of the German government, but his book, which caused an international sensation, was in its ninth edition in his native country by the outbreak of war. Of course, not all Germans shared these views. Before 1914 there were other traditions such as humanitarianism (especially among some of the well-read middle classes), socialist internationalism, contempt for militarism and deeply entrenched religious feeling. The liberal press sold best and ‘the public sphere was characterised by pluralism in which criticism of authority was commonplace.’32 Harsh military doctrine did not universally penetrate into German society. But it is also possible to see that colonialism provided a channel through which the views of Treitschke and Bernhardi became more acceptable to a growing number of Germans. The promise of a greater nation, ‘rightfully’ the prize of the fastest growing and potentially strongest of the European states, together with the concomitant fear of a fatal reversal, drove opinion-formers to accept that a price had to be paid in the struggle for pre-eminence.33 Taken in conjunction with a political culture that reinforced the position of the army by immunising it from external criticism, the way was left open for routine German military operations to develop a ‘dynamic of extremism’. The stage was set for widespread disregard of humanitarian norms in the event of war.34 When war broke out, Germans of all persuasions publicly expressed their support for the cause. Novelist and future Nobel Prize winner, Thomas Mann, invoked ‘German spiritual superiority against foreign influence’. Friedrich Meinecke, whose reputation as the foremost historian of his day was well established by 1914, rejoiced to witness the contest of German idealism as against the lesser qualities of Anglo-Saxons, while the superiority of ‘German freedom’ over superficial Western individualism was espoused by the philosopher and Protestant pastor, Ernst Troeltsch. Nonetheless, German left-liberals, leaders of the Social Democratic Party, and some churchmen and financiers were shocked at Britain’s declaration of war, not least because they expected British neutrality and understanding of their fight against ‘Slavdom’.35



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The British view of Germany But if German intellectuals were astonished by Britain’s declaration, then the British were equally bewildered when news of German atrocities filtered across the channel. Henry Scott Holland, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, could not understand why, after persistent appeals to the Hague Conventions, German methods of waging war seemed to run contrary to internationally agreed standards of conduct. As many others were to do, he saw the German people as good, but designated ‘Prussianism’ as an evil influence. It was the desire to stifle this ‘Prussian’ influence and bring Germany ‘into the Comity of Nations’ that for him, and indeed for others, justified war.36 Also influencing British reactions to German atrocities was the question of how Britons viewed Germans. Again, this can only be understood by looking at the development of a long-term national discussion about Germany and its people. The period leading up to the Great War saw a rise in Anglo–German antagonism, the roots of which can be found in the aftermath of German unification in 1871.37 German calls for a larger slice of the colonial cake and the attempt to match British sea power did nothing to ameliorate growing tensions. Exacerbating the situation at the turn of the century had been Germany’s anti-British stance over the Boer Wars. The first and second Moroccan crises (1905 and 1911) also acted as warnings of Germany’s expansionist aims and of its capability as a naval power. Thus, in the years preceding the outbreak of war there was a sizable element of the British populace that seemed gripped by anti-German hysteria. Novelists and playwrights cashed in on the popularity of invasion stories. Walter Le Queux fantasised in a series of books that England was awash with ‘a vast army of German spies’, while Guy du Maurier’s play, The Englishman’s Home, presented a ‘really ridiculous story of invasion and defence’, although it was used as justification by those advocating higher spending on defence.38 Regular articles in the Daily Mail, which later claimed proudly to be ‘the paper that foretold the war’, and a steady stream of Northcliffian boys’ literature kept the debate about defence requirements alive.39 The government, partly influenced by Le Queux’s novels, called on Captain Vernon Kell and Commander Mansfield



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Cumming to set up the Secret Service Bureau (subsequently MI5 and MI6) to keep tabs on and, if necessary, root out the hidden menace.40 However, there was another side to this story. As early as 1909, invasion stories were said to be ‘losing their freshness’, and by 1913 Le Queux’s popularity all but disappeared when he faced bankruptcy charges.41 Even during the second Moroccan crisis Andrew Bonar Law, leader of the Unionists, told the Commons: We are all thinking a great deal about our relationship with Germany. It is an idea prevalent, especially on the Continent, that there is in this country a feeling of hostility to Germany. In my opinion, that belief is entirely unfounded. So far as I am concerned, I never had, and certainly have not now, any such feeling. During my business life I had daily commercial intercourse with Germany. I have many German friends, I love some German books almost as much as our favourites in our own tongue, and I can imagine few, if any calamities which would seem so great as a war, whatever the result, between us and the great German people.42

A significant body of thought, labelled by the Mail as the ‘Suicide Club’, was less inclined to believe there were spooks around every corner and a German army ready for rapine.43 While nervously looking across the channel at the emergent European force, potentially an economic and military threat, late Victorian and Edwardian liberals tried to square the circle of admiration for so-called ‘German values’. The growth of Anglo–German tension conflicted with deep-seated respect for German culture and scholarship. This was underpinned by shared values and perceived racial connections.44 It is difficult to play down how deeply engrained the racial link with Germans was in the national psyche. With various nuances it was accepted and propounded by a host of nineteenth-century intellectuals, politicians and opinion-formers. Thomas Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Kingsley and E.A. Freeman, to name but a few, all believed Englishmen were descended if not wholly, then at least in part, from Teutons.45 Such attitudes seeped into the Liberal press, which consistently agitated for a more conciliatory approach towards Germany. It repeatedly attacked ‘Jingo journalists’ intent on ratcheting up tension and appealed to ‘the impregnable common sense of both peoples’. This body of opinion believed that a ‘century’s sympathy and co-operation’ should not be obliterated by ‘less than ten years’ coolness.46



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Fear of Germany sat uncomfortably alongside a deep sense of affinity. This was apparent in the days leading up to war in the summer of 1914, so that when war seemed imminent, many Britons were genuinely torn. Arthur Ponsonby, a former page to Queen Victoria and for a short time a member of the Foreign Office, was now forging a name for himself as a radical anti-war liberal. He was the leading figure in a foreign affairs committee set up to review defence spending. During the group’s well-attended second meeting on 31 July 1914, a motion calling for British neutrality in any circumstance was put to the vote. According to Christopher Addison, who went on to play a key role in post-war reconstruction, ‘nineteen voted for it, four against it (of whom I was one), but most did not vote at all. Everybody felt, I think, in abject misery at the prospect of what war would entail. We felt as helpless as rats in a trap, as indeed we were.’47 This crisis of conscience also threatened to tear the cabinet asunder. On Sunday 2 August, two days before war was declared, ministers met, adjourned and met again for ‘another long meeting’. Lord Riddell, a close associate of Lloyd George and the liaison between government and press, was told there were ‘serious dissentions and likely to be several resignations’ as a four-way split emerged. Such indecision, ranging from certainty over the need to support France, as advocated by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and his Foreign Secretary Lord Grey, to the ‘peace party’ led by Attorney General Sir John Simon, with the other two ‘parties’ falling somewhere in-between, was arguably representative of the country.48 The popular vision (which still exists today) of a country willingly marching off to war before dreams of a glorious victory were demolished by the experience of the trenches, is wrong. Proof of mass fervour at the time is surprisingly lacking, and there is evidence of a more sober interpretation.49 For example, an active anti-war movement publicly called for neutrality, inundating the cabinet with telegrams.50 On 3 August, the Manchester Guardian declared that ‘public demand for British neutrality grows from day to day.’ As proof, it published ‘a remarkable series of letters in which this demand [was] presented from every point of view’. Letters were received from such luminaries as future Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, classicist and humanitarian Gilbert Murray, journalist and missionary for liberalism A.G. Gardiner,



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the eminent historian G.M. Trevelyan, social philosopher and journalist L.T. Hobhouse and social theorist and economist J.A. Hobson. Although politically they represented the views of the liberal left, thus undermining the paper’s claim to represent the whole gamut of opinion, it was nevertheless a noteworthy assemblage. Other pleas for peace came from a melange of prominent academics, bishops and businessmen. According to one ‘manifesto’, Germany, caught between hostile states, was ‘highly civilised with a culture that has contributed enormously in the past to Western civilisation, racially allied to ourselves, and with moral ideals largely resembling our own’. ‘Our two peoples’, it continued, had ‘maintained unbroken peace since their earliest history’.51 This demonstration of inherent empathy with Germany was no aberration. Many British people were, at the very least, highly ambivalent about going to war with Germany. Undoubtedly there were strong and powerful voices that seemed to clamour for a reckoning. There was fear, suspicion and hatred too, fuelled in part by sections of the press, but the population as a whole did not succumb to what the historian, Caroline Playne, termed in 1928 ‘mass [anti-German] neurosis’.52 Both countries were European, both were Christian and mostly Protestant, colonial, industrial powers, and together they seemed like the cornerstone of Western civilisation. In Britain, there was ‘profound admiration for German culture in all its facets: art, music, philosophy, religion, education, scholarship, industry and especially in the [British] military’. For many, as A.J. Hoover puts it, fighting Germans ‘seemed like fratricide’.53

Responding to German atrocities Long-held veneration of Germany did not disappear after war broke out. When Asquith toured the country in order to galvanise public opinion in support of the war effort, he was careful to reflect the cabinet’s ambivalence.54 Despite possessing evidence of German brutality towards Belgian civilians, Asquith chose instead to emphasise the ruination of Louvain’s buildings, which had been destroyed by what he called ‘by blind barbarian vengeance’.55 After all, it was unclear whether German action could be ‘justified’ as reprisals to civilian guerrilla war. By the time he reached Edinburgh on 18



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September, however, it was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that German actions went beyond the accepted norms of wartime behaviour in Europe. Sticking to verifiable evidence, he read out the proclamation made by the Commander-in-Chief of the German army to the people of Rheims, which informed them that hostages would be hanged and the town burned ‘at the slightest attempt at disorder’. Asquith warned his audiences that the enemy was imbued with a culture and spirit of domination. Yet, he refused to blame ‘the German people’ and meticulously explained the debt owed to Germany for its ‘contributions…to philosophy, to science, and to the arts’. Quoting Edmund Burke, Asquith asserted that he would ‘not attempt to draw up an indictment against a nation’.56 He repeated a similar mantra when he spoke in Cardiff and Dublin. Of course, his speeches were designed to instil ‘patriotism’ and were doubtless punctuated with hyperbole, but generally the prime minister attempted to inspire popular commitment to the war effort while guarding against the endorsement of outright xenophobia. This attitude filtered down throughout liberal Britain. The Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, was convinced there were ‘two Germanys’, the ‘small but influential war party’ and ‘men like ourselves’.57 It was a conviction held by some Oxford academics,58 the distinguished literary critic John Bailey and the journalist, writer and later wartime propagandist, Arnold Bennett.59 Hallie Miles was one of many lesser-known liberal philanthropists who busied themselves on behalf of the war effort. She helped to organise and sang with the ‘Loyal Choir’, which gave concerts for the wounded and held ‘patriotic Teas’ to bolster public spirit. Although Miles was convinced of the existence of a German spy network in Britain (‘I know I travelled in a bus with two German spies to-day’), she felt deep sympathy for naturalised Germans and mused ruefully and passionately on the German people, German ideals and German culture. She came to terms with these conflicting feelings by reminding herself that it was ‘the Prussian Spirit of Militarism that is being fought.’ ‘Germany’, she believed, had ‘itself been crushed and trodden down by this Spirit too’.60 The wartime bifurcation of Germans into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ had begun; it came from the top and was the result of profound equivocation about the nature of the enemy.

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During the early months of the war The Times struggled to make sense of German violence against non-combatants. Reporting on the German entry into Visé, it denied that civilians had been interfered with or that the town had been fired deliberately.61 A letter from E.S.P. Haynes was published in The Times on 19 August 1914. Haynes, a Rabelaisian figure who nonetheless was both a lawyer and lover of liberty: hoped that the small group of Prussian politicians who have brought about this war will not be regarded in England as properly representing the great mass of Germans. There must be thousands and thousands of Germans who detest the policy of their Government as heartily as other Europeans, but who either have no chance of expressing their opinion or would feel it disloyal on their party to do so, just as there are many Germans settled in England who openly condemn what is called ‘German’ policy.62

It was not until 22 August that the paper finally admitted that there had been ‘repeated examples of gross ruthlessness and often of barbarity on the part of German officers and men’.63 An editorial was written in response to a report in the moderate Le Temps, which had gleaned from German prisoners that systematic brutality was employed because Germans were afraid of being poisoned or shot by francs-tireurs. The Times saw this as a poor excuse for barbarity and condemned ‘German Conspiracy Mania’. Yet, the influential paper still excused mass German support for the war on the basis that the population had been subjected to pedagogic travesties.64 The Times even held out the possibility of revolution in Germany unless there was a quick and painless victory.65 Its official history of the war, published as a cheap weekly, drew a clear distinction between troops and their leaders. It was also fairly restrained when it came to describing atrocities. Devoting most space to the destruction of property and limiting itself to evidence obtained from official Belgian investigations, it criticised the harm done by ‘unfounded tales’ and the ‘unjustified cries of “Wolf!”’.66 Even after news of German atrocities became incontrovertible, it was ‘glad to be told’ that British elementary school children were ‘being taught, not to hate Germans, but to help Belgians’.67 Journalists mostly tried to tell the story as they saw it within the confines of government censorship and with the facts that were available.68



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In the initial stages of the war careful attention was paid to how German atrocities should be represented. Even the Daily Mail, which was certainly not immune to lurid banner headlines, was remarkably free of atrocity stories in the first weeks of the war. Rather, its coverage was strangely sober. A leading article on 26 August 1914, for example, advised that accusations of atrocities should always be treated with cautious scepticism, but argued this was ‘no ordinary arraignment’. It was ‘the outcome of a committee of inquiry comprising the highest judicial and university authorities of Belgium, and it is concerned not with hearsay evidence but with incidents that in each case have been carefully investigated and that are attested by trustworthy eye-witnesses’.69 For any journalist in Britain this was as close as one could get to a reliable source. The potency of atrocity reports came initially not so much from the pages of the press, but from returning troops and Belgian refugees.70 Faced with either the trauma of eyewitnesses or official reports from the Belgian and French governments that included sometimes significant elements of exaggeration, it was perhaps understandable that distorted descriptions, such as stories about limbless babies and systematic rape, eventually found their way into contemporary accounts. If these stories emanated from below, rather than being imposed from above by the press or official sources, then it is possible to detect a trajectory of responses. Initially taken aback by the reality of German atrocities, the British public imagined what might happen to them and their families should German troops invade. This inevitably played into the recruitment drive that followed. The more men signed up, the greater the commitment to the war effort. In short, atrocity reports contributed to a mushrooming of intellectual and emotional engagement with the war across society. This did not necessarily spell jingoism. According to Catriona Pennell, public commitment to the war effort was largely ‘considered, well-informed, [and] reasoned’.71 Conscription did not come into force until January 1916. In order, therefore, to bolster a comparatively small standing army to the size of the German or French, a great deal of effort was expended on the recruitment campaign. At meetings held across the country, accounts of German atrocities from returning troops and Belgian refugees quickly became a major theme because they reinforced indignation and, for



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contemporaries, confirmed the justice of Britain’s cause.72 Images of German brutality exacerbated fears of invasion particularly on the south coast, where fears were perhaps at their most pronounced. Harrowing possibilities of men being shot and women ‘bayoneted and outraged’ were laid before potential recruits.73 Juxtaposing the comforts of home with the brutality of war may have been intended to increase a sense of fear, but it would be wrong to accuse all recruiters of cynicism and to underplay the capacity of volunteers to understand the issues. In some ways, it was this very understanding of atrocity, as we shall see, that helped to awaken greater sympathy for Belgian and French victims. The German advance through Belgium and into France was stopped, but atrocities came anyway by another route. The arbitrary use of naval mines, submarine warfare, bombardment of coastal towns, the Zeppelin ‘baby killers’ and the use of gas against Allied troops were all understood to be outside civilised norms. These events were largely what led to riots in some British cities.74 Much has been made of name-changing, spy hysteria and the German alien threat, but underlying all this was a distrust of foreigners in general. Anti-Germanism was difficult to untangle from anti-alienism and both were likely to reify into anti-Semitism.75 David Cesarani points out that ‘physical violence against Jews occurred in several towns and cities in 1914 and 1915; Jewish shopkeepers around the country were so afraid that they took to displaying in their shop windows their naturalisation papers or old photographs of themselves in the Russian army.’76 There was more to these outbreaks than hatred of Germans. It was partly the need to sort out fact from fiction that led the government to ask James Bryce to head a committee of investigation. The choice of Lord Bryce was significant. His tenure in Washington as British Ambassador meant that the subsequent report would get a reasonable hearing there. However, equally if not more important was his attitude towards Germany. Although committed to the war, his support was ‘reluctant, hesitant and with foreboding’. He had no entrenched antagonism towards Germany. In fact, he admired German scholarship and saw fundamental elements in German culture and society that bound the two countries together.77 Bryce viewed the press in both countries with deep suspicion, believing that it had fuelled Anglo–German antagonism, but he was shaken by the extent to which



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he believed acceptance of inhuman methods of war had permeated German society.78 As far as he was concerned, he had evidence to prove it. A letter came into his possession from a ‘sincere’ Englishwoman who had married a German merchant and then lived in Germany. She was convinced that after the inevitable invasion of Britain: Every town which remotely is concerned with war material is to be annihilated. Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Northampton are to be wiped out, and the men killed, ruthlessly hunted down … The fact that Great Britain is to be a Reichsland will involve the destruction of inhabitants, to enable German citizens to be planted in your country in their place.’79

Whether this was the ranting of a ‘convert’ to the German cause is a moot point, as is the question of whether she was reflecting broader German attitudes towards colonialism, but it almost certainly contributed to Bryce’s bewilderment. After sifting through the atrocity reports he became disconsolate and perplexed by his discoveries. He wrote, ‘I have tried as long as possible to think that the reports spread about [German atrocities] were gross exaggeration, but the evidence which now comes before me cannot be resisted.’80 When it came to writing the official report, care was taken to reject certain witness statements as fantasy, but the remaining evidence, partly taken from the diaries of German soldiers, genuinely affronted the liberal sensibilities of Bryce and his fellow commissioners.81 As The Spectator reported, The Committee themselves, as they related began their investigations with the belief that the stories told by Belgian refugees and by wounded British soldiers must be in many cases the result either of hysteria or of a fertile imagination. They add: ‘But the further we went and the more evidence we examined so much the more was our scepticism reduced. There might be some exaggeration in certain witnesses, possibly delusions in another, inaccuracies in a third. When, however, we found that things which at first seemed improbable were testified to by many witnesses coming from different places, having had no communication with one another, and knowing nothing of one another’s statements, points in which they all agreed became more and more evidently true.’82

The shortened version of the report was published as The Truth About German Atrocities. Written in an accessible way and containing a map of Belgium, it is likely that this was the most widely read version. It was not



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the ‘pornographic orgy’ portrayed by Susan Kingsley Kent, who reaches her conclusion by focusing on the report’s appendices.83 There were four main points: that many parts of Belgium had suffered deliberate and systematic violence; that the principal victims had been innocent civilians; that German officers had countenanced widespread destruction and looting; and that civilians, including women and children had been used as human shields. The stated idea behind the report was that the disclosures would ‘touch and rouse the conscience of mankind’.84 This seems a laudable aim in the face of real German atrocities. Although the report arguably fortified public ire, for some it did not go far enough. A correspondent to The Times voiced his concern that the ‘Blue Book’ might fade from public memory and suggested that a national museum should be dedicated to German ‘frightfulness’.85 J.H. Morgan, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of London and temporarily Home Office Commissioner with the British Expeditionary Force, who had collected evidence for the Bryce Commission, published his own version of events. Frustrated with the ‘extreme moderation’ of Bryce’s findings, he asserted, ‘this is not the time for mincing one’s words but for plain speech.’ His conclusions were essentially sensationalist and racist.86 Morgan’s views were echoed in certain sections of the popular press. As Dan Todman points out, ‘lurid descriptions of rape and murder brought pornographic titillation onto the breakfast tables of respectable Britain.’87 However, it is doubtful whether government propaganda can be placed in the same category. According to Philip Taylor, between 1914 and 1917, when the operation was run primarily by the Foreign Office, ‘British propaganda was restrained in character and cautious in approach’.88 Many of those involved, certainly in the first three years of the war, were thoughtful men, like Charles Masterman, who were opposed to prurient reports and insisted that propaganda material should be factual, ‘with the reader as far as possible reaching his or her own conclusions’.89 Most of the official output was for neutral countries anyway, and as the Neuwe Amsterdammer commented, ‘what makes these pamphlets valuable for us in neutral countries is their moderation towards the enemy. They do not abuse Germany, on the contrary, they endeavour, as honourably as possible, to indicate clearly the services which Germany has rendered to culture.’90



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Only later when media moguls Northcliffe and Beaverbrook took over – the ‘Press Gang’ as they were known in Whitehall – did official propaganda output become more sensationalist.91

Cartoons Wartime cartoons published in the press were not part of the government’s propaganda strategy, but were sometimes used to symbolically express attitudes towards German atrocities. Some of the earliest representations of the enemy appeared in the satirical magazine Punch. Ostensibly they appear gratuitous, but often they singled out the Kaiser as a subject of ridicule or abhorrence. For example, on 26 August 1914 a cartoon was published depicting the German leader standing over dead or terrified victims of atrocity.92 However, even this seems to place the blame for atrocities not on ordinary Germans, but on the German high command. Although these cartoons were intended to make a serious point, they also contained elements of humour. These frivolous (and clearly stereotypical) representations of the enemy were fairly common and should perhaps be viewed in a similar vein to the bogus postcards on sale to the public alleging to be from the Kaiser to George V. The Reverend Andrew Clark recorded the content of one of them in his diary: Mine dear Cousin…I vants der leedle Bank von England for mine Frau. I vants I vants der dockyards. Mein Gott!! Take dem big ships avay and I at once kom. I vants der leedle Isle von Wight and her luffly cows ver I shall hold vun big regatta. I vant dose leedle places, India, Canadas, Australias, for mine sohns. I haf seven…and der each vants von ver he can sit in der sun and eat his Leber Wurst and trink his Laager. Deutschlands uber Alles. Top Dog. Gott in Himmel, you have much more dan is goot for you mine dear cousin. But Ireland I vant not. No! Der Teufel! Greeting from WILHELM P.S. Move dem ships away or I get angry and kom not.93

One set of ‘cartoons’, however, was taken seriously. These were drawn by Louis Raemaekers. Dutch with a German mother, he shot to fame in Britain for his harrowing portrayals of German atrocities.94 Of two exhibitions organised by the Fine Arts Society, the first, which ran for more than four months in 1915, was flooded with visitors. According,



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to the Manchester Guardian’s art critic, Raemaekers portrayed the ‘German soldier’ as ‘always strange, dull, terrible’, but crucially also ‘as a Frankenstein created by the junkers’, in other words, unrepresentative of ordinary Germans. Moreover, the effect of these cartoons on the public mind is difficult to qualify or quantify. The same reviewer thought they displayed ‘clear, tense imagination, passion, humour, tenderness, and sincerity’.95 Such nuances should be remembered before making any claim that they merely fortified anti-German feeling. It should also be borne in mind that Raemaekers’ popularity waned as the war progressed. Novelist Sir Henry Rider Haggard visited both exhibitions, commenting after the second, held just over a year later, that ‘When I was there on the final day of the show last year the place was crowded and every drawing sold. Now at the beginning of the show there were not half a dozen people in the room and only a very few of the drawings had been sold. Thus does fashion change in England.’96 One aspect that did not seem to change throughout the war was the attitude of churchmen. With nineteenth-century Nonconformism by no means burnt out and leading Anglicans seeing the war as ‘an opportunity of unparalleled proportions’ to bring Christianity with a social conscience to the masses, wartime sermons had an important place in British wartime society.97 A host of clerics railed against antiGerman propaganda from their pulpits. Master of the Temple, Henry George Woods, condemned the ‘exasperating comments and caricatures’ created by the press that had contributed to an ‘atmosphere of suspicion’.98 He was supported by Holland, who denied that any ‘real living German’ was the fiendish creation of some popular pen portraits. The Canon of Westminster, William Carnegie, wanted his congregation to understand the German point of view. Germans, he told them, sincerely believed that this was a war of self-defence, therefore they should not be an ‘object of resentment’. According to Carnegie, the last two generations of Germans had been ‘singularly unfortunate’ because they had been subject to ‘perverted moral influences’ which had the full force of state backing. It was, he concluded, the German state system therefore that deserved British ire.99 This message was echoed by the eloquent Nonconformist preacher Bernard Snell, who urged his Brixton flock ‘to maintain a high and



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magnanimous spirit’ towards Germany. Indignation at German ‘wrongdoing’ should not ‘degenerate into hatred’. After all, he claimed, only a few men were ‘really guilty’.100 This theme was taken up by A.F. Winnington-Ingram, noted for what has been called the most infamous sermon in Anglican history, in which he told his congregation that they were ‘banded together in a great crusade – we cannot deny it – to kill Germans’ in order to ‘save the world.’ Yet in the wartime pamphlet, The Nation’s Call, he also wrote: we must never mix up the innocent with the guilty. I am thankful to think that in East London righteous indignation at the sinking of the Lusitania was shown, but when it took the form of wrecking innocent people’s houses, the Church protested and even sheltered some of those who were in danger. I believe the prayer, ‘Father forgive them they know not what they do’ covered the soldiers who, acting under orders, were crucifying the son of God…we must let the prayer cover in our minds those in the Zeppelins and submarines who are acting under orders and would be shot if they had not obeyed.101

This type of thinking led Herbert Hensley Henson, the Bishop of Durham, to condemn the ‘anti-Christian’ demand for ‘reprisals’.102 Preachers metaphorically split the Germans in a number of different ways so as to implicate leaders and leave the majority unsullied. German soldiers were portrayed as brave and chivalrous, not unlike their British counterparts.103 Their sense of humanity and self-sacrifice was confirmed by carefully selected extracts from diaries of German troops killed in battle, which were used as evidence of ‘their disgust at the brutality of their own countrymen’.104 The teachings of Treitschke and Bernhardi came in for explicit and extensive criticism and German Protestant leaders in particular were accused of failing to protest and thus leaving the national conscience exposed to harmful doctrines.105 Catholics, however, were extolled for being a significant minority who remained ‘out of sympathy with Prussia’.106 Bishop Henson, a ‘slender but pugnacious man with beetling eyebrows’ and a reputation for pulpit brilliance, was certain that ‘the Germany we are fighting is not the real Germany … the Good Germany, the Germany that we all admire’.107 He encouraged his congregation to ‘think of her as a noble nation for a time gone wrong’. Most Germans, he



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told his congregation, had been infected with a bellicose spirit, having been ‘deceived and hoodwinked by every form of sophistry’, but once they realised this was the case, he believed there would ‘be a change of feeling, a desire to return to fellowship with the civilised world, from which in its ignorance and frenzy it broke away, a national repentance’.108 Preacher after preacher reiterated this message. ‘Prussianism’ had been inculcated in the German population by the state, but in time, they would come to their senses. What they did not deserve was hatred.109 The idea of two separate and distinct Germanies, one good, which normally constituted the majority, and one bad, almost invariably a minority, did not disappear during the Great War. It was a way of accommodating the seemingly irreconcilable factors of being at war with a nation long held in esteem. The tendency to promote ‘fair play’ was echoed in the legal profession. The retired High Court Judge of the Chancery Division E.D.W. Fry, known for painstaking scrupulosity and a passion for justice (in fact, the first to bear the title Mr Justice), warned against ‘retaliation’ and urged ‘self control’ rather than entertaining a desire to ‘get even’ with ‘our adversaries by adopting their practices.’110 Further protests were registered at the prospect that the British should embark on a programme of reprisals for Zeppelin raids on England. According to Lord Alverstone, former Lord Chief Justice, this would involve Britain ‘being party to a line of conduct condemned by every right-thinking man of every civilised nation’.111 Former Solicitor General, Sir Edward Clarke, argued that ‘surely our gallant airmen are worthy of better employment than dropping bombs on defenceless civilians.’112 Jurist and professor A.V. Dicey agreed. Although the Germans had ‘made themselves outlaws’, this was ‘no reason for our sinking to the German level of barbarity’.113 It is significant that calls for restraint in the face of perceived German brutality came from both the religious and legal establishments. They expressed something of the strong tradition of humanitarianism that persisted in key areas of British society.



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Belgian refugees The welcome given to Belgian refugees, who flowed in droves to British ports, was also an expression of this long-standing tradition. It was a profoundly religious tradition rooted in the Evangelical and Nonconformist culture of British anti-slavery and the liberal interventionism of the Palmerstonian era.114 Gladstone had picked up the torch, blazing a trail across the land on behalf of oppressed Bulgarian Christians (although the campaign was not without an alltoo-conspicuous strand of anti-Semitism). Britain as a haven for the oppressed was part of the fabric of outward-looking Victorian altruism, or at least the appearance of it to other nations. It was still possible in 1914 to still remember a time when legal toleration of refugees was nearly absolute.115 Despite the draconian legislation of the 1905 Aliens Act, hurriedly fortified after the outbreak of war, warm memories of philanthropy melded with the very idea of what it meant to be British. There was obviously more than an element of hypocrisy here, and in practice, if compassion was to be offered to potential refugees then public opinion and political expediency would necessarily have to mesh. This is what happened in the case of Belgian civilians during the First World War. More than the invasion of Belgium itself, the violence that accompanied it, along with a large slice of guilt that Belgians were fighting ‘our’ war, resonated throughout the country. The Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna, set the tone. Refugees were to be ‘treated as friends’ and no obstacles were to be put in their way.116 Co-ordinating the national effort was the reformist and interventionist Liberal, Herbert Samuel. He made full use of the voluntary War Refugees Committee formed by ardent imperialist Lady Lugard who, as Flora Shaw, had been the first woman appointed to the permanent staff of The Times. The Local Government Board called for the formation of local reception committees, which eventually numbered approximately 2,500 nationwide. The government commandeered every institution or hostel they could lay their hands on and Earls Court was made into a makeshift ‘Belgian town’.117 Between 4,000 and 5,000 harried and bedraggled Belgians were welcomed every week and at one point there were about 250,000 refugees spread throughout the country. Money,

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clothing, private hospitality and accommodation were offered to the national Belgian Relief Fund. Such efforts were reflected at a local level. A campaign to raise funds in the Observer and West Sussex Recorder exceeded 1000 shillings, a figure they ‘had not dared to expect’.118 Reverend Andrew Clark of Great Leighs in Essex recorded in his diary how the local dentist treated Belgian convalescents and carried a box into which his patients were asked to ‘drop something’.119 Frederick Oliver, political writer and great-nephew of John Bright, commented to his brother that his wife’s refugee work was representative of ‘the greater part of the women of this country’.120 Part of this involved organising ‘At Homes’ for destitute Belgians.121 Refugee workers genuinely identified with the sufferings of Belgians. Hallie Miles recorded her journey on a bus with refugees. ‘[S]uddenly a motor tyre burst’, she wrote, ‘it sounded just like a shot or shell. I shall never forget their start and faces of agony. I could realise, as in a vision, all the terrors it reminded them of … Tears seem terribly near the surface nowadays.’122 A so-called ‘liberal’ outlook was no barrier to comprehension of overseas horrors, but more a key to unlocking empathy. Of course, not all were so tolerant of Belgian refugees. Some of them faced patronising racism and others local resentment that could become more serious. Tension increased in 1915, as belief spread that Belgians were receiving more favourable allowances than British servicemen. In Fulham, a relatively poor area, there were even anti-Belgian riots caused by a housing shortage.123 Nonetheless, to argue as Tony Kushner and Katherine Knox do, that ‘to understand why at least initially the Belgians received such a warm and enthusiastic welcome throughout British society is also to fathom the sheer hatred generated against the Germans’, is unsustainable.124 Miles’s wistful musing on German culture, ‘of all the wonderful music and writings, and the great people who have come from Germany’, which made her ‘weep for…sadness’, is just one example of a widespread attitude that showed hatred and compassion were not opposite ends of the same spectrum.125 Another is a Times editorial, ‘Atrocities in the Field’, dated 10 September 1914, which highlighted the plight of Belgian refugees and argued that after evidence of atrocities had been ‘carefully sifted’, it should be published so that ‘the German people themselves should have a chance of knowing and acknowledging the misdeeds of their Army.’126



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More characteristic of attitudes towards the ubiquitous presence of continental victims are the words of one relief worker who commented: ‘It is wonderful how “the refugee question” pervades the whole country. It is as good an opening subject for conversation as the weather once was, and like that is common to all classes.’127 This response was in no small part inspired by real German atrocities, but was not the polar opposite of anti-Germanism. Views of Germany remained highly complex. William Sanday, Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, is worth quoting at length because his thinking shows a subtlety that has been missed by some historians: We are well aware that the Germany we are fighting is not the real Germany. But it is more like the real Germany than the Britain which our adversaries depict for themselves is the real Britain. The real Germany, the good Germany, the Germany that we all admire, has handed itself over for the time to that other Germany which was and is still bent on fighting. I do not mean by this to construct for myself a military Germany, all bad, and a pacific Germany, all good. I know that the two conceptions run subtly into each other. I know that Germany as a whole is consciously and deliberately following the lead given to it. Yet I do not believe that we in this country think of Germany as a mere abstraction made up of a bundle of fundamental vices.128

A number of strategies were employed, either consciously or unconsciously, to distance ordinary Germans from atrocities. In fact, one of the reasons why atrocity stories were quickly discredited after the war is that they became associated with rabid anti-Germanism. Xenophobia was certainly present in British society during the war and in some cases was extremely virulent or violent, but it could not be said to characterise the national mood throughout the war. Manifestations were time- and place-specific, not a national phenomenon. Enduring respect for Germans did not die when the first shot was fired. It was still there even when news of German atrocities reached Britain and re-emerged after the high watermark of anti-German feeling in 1915. In fact, there was considerable resistance to the notion that unrestrained warfare and harsh military doctrine were accepted as normal by the majority of Germans. Nevertheless, German atrocities helped contribute to the widespread belief that, after all, Britons were fighting for a good cause. It was even imagined that Britain was



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fighting to free the German people from tyranny. Once freed, they could take their rightful place as friends of Britain. In the early 1970s, poet and novelist Robert Graves told a young upstart who questioned his political radicalism that the ‘First World War was started by the German invasion of Belgium, without excuse; we fought to rescue Belgium and our French allies, and we fought honourably throughout.’ Despite his revisionist account in the influential book Goodbye to All That, Graves remembered why Britain had fought.129 He was perhaps one of the few, because it is still not as well remembered as it should be that contemporary Britons believed they were fighting a just war. This belief was partly a response to the fact of German atrocities. Nonetheless, if some sections of British society polarised their enemy, it was a sporadic and temporary phenomenon, mostly apparent, as Trevor Wilson points out, in the first half of 1915.130 It is perhaps in this light and time frame that we need to assess British reactions to the Armenian genocide, especially the part allegedly played by Germany.

a R m e n ia n s : t h e l a s t Bu R s t OF i n DiG nat iOn

The relationship between Britain and the Ottoman Empire had been long and difficult. The ‘Sick Man of Europe’ was, like Charles II, ‘an unconscionable time dying’.131 Its long, slow, decline was mirrored by the rise of British global influence. This had inevitably led to tension over territory, but the two imperial powers mostly fell out over Ottoman treatment of subject peoples: first Bulgarians and second Armenians. The roots of this tension can be found both in Britain and Turkey. In Britain, an explosion of paternalistic philanthropy in the early nineteenth century saw volunteers embrace numerous causes at home and overseas. They ranged from poor relief to medical care, penal reform to education, manumission to Christian proselytisation. Stimulating a growing network of well-meaning individuals and organisations was a dynamic evangelical impulse devoted to the advancement of a global moral overhaul.132 So when economic hardships and panSlav propaganda, mainly Russian in origin, stoked the latent national consciousness of Serbs and Bulgarians in the 1870s, sparking a minor



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and imperfect insurrection, the brutal repression inflicted on Balkan Christians by the Turkish authorities evoked a massive public reaction in Britain. Although the massacre of 15,000 men, women and children, the burning of over 70 villages and the laying waste of 200 schools and ten monasteries did not change the pro-Turkish government policy, it did return the opportunistic anti-Turk, William Gladstone, to full political life and thence to the premiership.133 He led the first major public agitation in Victorian Britain about atrocities committed abroad.134 At the end of the Russo–Turkish War (1877–8), participants at the 1878 Congress of Berlin aimed to reorganise the countries that comprised the Balkans. It was here that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Salisbury, acquired Cyprus for Britain. This was done under the pretext of overseeing Ottoman reforms designed to improve the lives of the Armenians. He later defended his action at the Congress and saw no reason to apologise for acquiring Cyprus because, in ‘aiding and counselling’ the Turks, he considered they would benefit from the advice of an ‘efficient and disinterested administration’ which brought ‘civilisation’ to all it touched.135 Salisbury was able to get away with such condescending rhetoric because there was a substantial body of public opinion that took these matters to heart. The reaction to atrocities in Bulgaria cemented the perception that Britain was a defender of the oppressed, a role taken up with gusto when Sultan Abdul Hamid II presided over the massacre of approximately 100,000 Armenians between 1894 and 1896.136 Even Queen Victoria lent her not inconsiderable support. The strong public reaction meant that politicians had to take it seriously. It was partly the fear of sparking a European conflagration that made Britain shy away from military intervention, but not before it had made enough noise to create considerable antipathy with Turkey.137 As the government trod a careful line between the humanitarians and imperialists who made up the British electorate, Turkish authorities believed they saw hypocrisy in action.138 As tension between Britain and Turkey grew, Germany stepped into the breach. During the 1870s Germany had not supported the national uprisings in the Balkans. Instead, it had sought to increase its economic influence in Ottoman affairs by a process called ‘penetration pacifique’. What is more, after Bismarck had played ‘honest broker’ between the



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Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin, the authorities in Constantinople saw an opportunity to court a power with enough clout to oppose what they regarded as the pernicious machinations of both Russia and Britain. Abdul Hamid also preferred the more authoritarian German model of government to its English counterpart. The massacre of innocent Armenians in the 1890s only briefly shook German enthusiasm for the policy of peaceful permeation. In fact, support in Germany for eastern colonialism facilitated ever greater involvement in Ottoman affairs.139 Even the liberal-minded Friedrich Neumann, who later contributed substantially to the Weimar constitution, was convinced that the murder of Armenians was part of the ‘life-and-death struggle’, presumably against a perfidious internal enemy.140 After the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), or ‘Young Turks’, gained power in 1908, German influence continued to grow. Ziya Gökalp, chief ideologue of the CUP, found much to admire in the German concept of the nation, which, he believed, emphasised race, blood and culture and matched ‘the condition of “Turkishness” which was struggling to constitute its own historical and national identity.’141 In the opposite direction, according to Eric Weitz, although ‘no monolithic position existed’ in Germany with regard to the Ottoman Empire, a significant number of Germans ‘hoped’ that the ‘semiauthoritarian structures of imperial Germany, with their strong military characteristics, found a mirror image in the forms of Ottoman governance’. Moreover, both sets of elites ‘underwent a parallel radicalisation process that made them prone to adopt reckless and aggressive policies, domestically and internationally’.142 The trajectory of their relationship remained unaffected by further massacres of Armenians at Adana in 1909. (Although all observers, including Britons, welcomed the execution of 124 Muslim perpetrators and saw the subsequent agreement between the CUP and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnak – as heralding a new era of cooperation and peace.) Despite a sizable German missionary element that had strong links with the Armenian community, German officials on the spot tended to perceive the Christian minority in the same way as the Ottoman authorities. Britain viewed German involvement with suspicion, not just as a rival imperialist but also because there was a strong humanitarian movement



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focused on the Armenians. A representative example of this movement was the pro-Armenian activist and MP, Noel Buxton. Buxton was the kind of liberal whose social conscience and commitment to charitable work compelled him to dress in old clothes and reside in common lodging-houses to get alongside the poor. Just two years before war broke out he expressed his belief that the ‘generous impulse’ towards oppressed Armenians was ‘the proud tradition of our country’ and fell squarely within the British tendency to promote ‘liberty and national right’.143 However, by 1914 it was certain to all but the most intransigent observers that Turkey would side with Germany in any potential conflict.

Genocide and blame On 30 October 1914, Britain and France broke off diplomatic relations with Turkey, signalling the latter’s entry into the war on the side of the central powers. The battle between Russian and Turkish forces from December 1914 to January 1915 at Sarikamiş (now in north-east Turkey) left approximately 75,000 Ottoman troops dead. It was an operational and strategic disaster. Moreover, it marked a turning point in the treatment of the Armenians.144 Turkish authorities had always viewed them with suspicion, but with the outbreak of war this became outright paranoia. A secret body, the ‘Special Organisation’, whose roots were to be found in the inner circle of the CUP, became the primary arm for internal security. Measures directed at the ‘enemy within’ had commenced before the war and now the Special Organisation was given the job of ‘directly organising’ the massacres.145 Following the Sarikamiş debacle, Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman army were disarmed and made to form labour battalions. Squads of 50 to 100 men were marched to secluded spots and murdered. The liquidation process accelerated after the order was given for Armenian men, women and children to be deported from their homes to the deserts of modern Iraq or Syria. On the way, as Donald Bloxham describes, they were subjected to ‘massive and repeated depredations – rape, kidnap, mutilation, outright killing, and death from exposure, starvation, and



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thirst – at the hands of Ottoman gendarmes, Turkish and Kurdish irregulars, and local tribes people. The Ottoman army was also involved in massacres’.146 The legal term for this process today is ‘genocide’. When news of mass slaughter reached Britain in early 1915 the long-term context was crucial to the reaction. Salisbury’s diplomatic shenanigans in 1878, often portrayed by liberals as a betrayal of the Armenian cause, and failure to intervene decisively in the massacres of the 1890s remained sensitive issues in Britain. British guilt, German cynicism and Turkish barbarity were all present to varying degrees in the national imagination. However, the very history of the Armenian question meant that the shock engendered by German atrocities in Belgium was not repeated. As the Manchester Guardian editorialised in May 1915, ‘It cannot be said that the massacres in Armenia … have come as a surprise. The tyranny of Abdul Hamid did not disappear with his deposition, but, as the Adana massacres showed, became more open and cynical in the hands of [the CUP].’147 Nonetheless the public was outraged. If anything, it was the sheer scale of slaughter that took the breath away. On 24 May 1915, the Allies made a joint declaration condemning the killings and informing the Ottoman government that those implicated would be held personally responsible. Initial British reluctance to support the declaration was motivated by doubts about the veracity of the reports, fear that massacres had been provoked by Armenian insurrection and concern that atrocities had been carried out by both sides.148 The British government was also extremely nervous about offending its imperial Islamic subjects at a moment when the empire was under its greatest threat to date. It was not until July that the Armenian massacres were properly publicised. Bryce, again at the forefront of humanitarian concern, raised the issue in the Lords. In particular, he highlighted a ‘very extensive massacre’ in the eastern province of Muş where the male population had been taken out and shot, while 9,000 women and children had been ‘thrown into the Tigris and drowned’. The Archbishop of Canterbury lent his support. Evelyn Baring, the exproconsul of Egypt and now Earl of Cromer, was quite accurate when he pointed out that the hardships of the Armenians had ‘not been mitigated by the rising German influence in Turkey’. On behalf of the



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government, the Marquess of Crewe confirmed their fears and suggested that ‘these crimes have been countenanced, if not in some cases actually encouraged, by the German officials in Turkey.’ However, he also pointed out that nothing could immediately be done ‘for the actual repression of these atrocities’.149 Alluding to German culpability could have been an opportunistic attempt to inculpate Britain’s principal enemy. However, the specific context cannot be ignored. As noted above, the commotion about German methods of waging war reached its apogee in 1915. A subsequent statement by the profoundly religious lawyer and public servant, the Earl of Desart, seemed to encapsulate widespread feeling. Initially, he asked the government to furnish particulars of the case of Edith Cavell, who had become a cause célèbre after her execution on 12 October for helping stranded Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied areas. Desart went on: it is but a few days since that we listened with feelings of horror to the account given by the noble Viscount [Lord Bryce] of the terrible massacres of Armenians committed under Turkish orders. Fresh in our memories are the brutalities and massacres committed by the Germans in Belgium and in France, and also the murder of innocent non-combatants by German submarines and aircraft. One had almost thought that the possibilities of ruthlessness had been exhausted.150

One gets a sense that British observers were overwhelmed by news of atrocity after atrocity. The issue came before the Lords again on 6 October in a debate that ‘held a tense House in horror-stricken silence’.151 The government confirmed the figure of 800,000 dead as not improbable, but denied the existence of proof that German consular representatives positively encouraged the massacres. Nonetheless, it was pointed out that evidence from American observers in situ, together with ‘antecedent’ German behaviour, might suggest there was no smoke without fire. Bryce refused to express an opinion on the subject of German complicity. Yet, like his colleagues, he considered that the only way to save Armenians was to galvanise ‘the public opinion of the world’ in order to bring pressure to bear on the German government and induce them ‘to tell the Turks that they have gone too far.’152



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According to Liberal MP Aneurin Williams, a man with a reputation for public-spiritedness, the Lords’ debate ‘sent a wave of horror’ across Britain and ‘all civilised countries’. He continued, ‘the great majority of reading and thinking people realised then for the first time that the greatest massacres in history had been taking place during the last five months.’153 The Lords’ debate, together with almost daily evidence of mass slaughter, meant the press understandably gave prominence to the story.154 Taking the articles and comments in elements of the rightwing press in isolation can suggest that press coverage plugged into anti-German hysteria. Looking at some of the comments in the serious Liberal press in August points to a softer conclusion, however. On 23 August 1915 the Manchester Guardian reported that: It has been calculated that, as matters are shaping at present, there will be virtually no Armenians in Turkey in another year. The declaration of the Allied Governments to the effect that they would hold the authorities personally responsible has not improved affairs, and a recent remonstrance addressed by the Pope on behalf of the Armenian Catholics has likewise been of no avail. From one quarter alone could any mitigation of the Armenian lot come. In that quarter there has been absolute silence.155

Then on 11 September: It may be asserted without fear of exaggerating the Turkish outrages in Armenia … are without a parallel in history. Never has there been so resolute an attempt to exterminate a whole race, never one which promised to be so successful. In its conception it has something of the thoroughness of the Germans; in its execution it is as brutal as the Turk can make it.156

And again on 22 September: There is no evidence to show that the Turkish outrages on Armenians have abated or are likely to abate. If matters continue as at present, the ghastliest crime in modern times will have been carried out without anything being done to stop it. The circumstances of the case exclude the possibility of any effective protest on the part of the Allies, who, normally, are the protectors of the Armenians, and in the present war are under a greater obligation than before. It is through Germany alone that an improvement can be brought about.157



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Certainly, there were British attempts to influence American opinion in favour of the Allies and such invective might be construed as an attempt to convince men to enlist, but it should not be forgotten that in the face of unprecedented atrocities, the cause was seen as just.158 What comes through in these quotes is an enormous sense of frustration, and they could be interpreted as an appeal to the liberal opinion-formers in Germany whom many believed, although hidden, still existed. In response to a Manchester meeting in aid of Armenian refugees, a Manchester Guardian editorial asserted, ‘the cause of Armenia is the cause of the Quadruple Alliance.’ Yet, the same editorial told its readers that ‘the foul deeds [of Turkey] have been concealed from the German people’.159 The Times overtly blamed Germany for the fate of the Armenians in September 1915, but by December 1916 comment in the paper had noticeably softened in intensity. Now, the massacres were committed with the ‘tacit approval’ of the German government, but the guilt rested ‘primarily upon the leaders of the Young Turks’.160

Bryce and the Blue Book The Commons did not hold a debate specifically on the atrocities, but they came up during a debate on war finance. Williams, Lord Robert Cecil and T.P. O’Connor, the veteran political journalist and later first President of the British Board of Film Censors, all took time out to implicate Germany. Williams argued that the killings had been ‘sanctioned, if not incited’ by Germany and O’Connor thought that the plethora of German consuls ‘knowing the country, probably knowing the language, certainly knowing the Turkish authorities’ could affect Turkish policy. O’Connor quoted Count Reventlow, the outspoken German exnaval officer whose opinion that Turkish methods were justified because of Armenian insurrection had been published in the German press.161 These politicians knew they were implicating Germany without substantive proof and admitted as much; however, for them, the circumstantial evidence was damning. Although probably spurred on by evidence that Germany was employing methods of warfare deemed contrary to civilised standards in Europe, they were wrong on two

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counts. First, they overemphasised the level of knowledge circulating in the German public sphere.162 Second, MPs and the press tended to overstate the ease with which German officials could have stopped the massacres, although this is not to say, as Donald Bloxham argues, that they could not have any effect, short of ‘force’.163 As we have seen, Bryce was reluctant to engage in anti-German rhetoric. It seems that his even-handedness as well as his expertise led political leaders to accept him as the moving force behind the official Blue Book on Armenian atrocities. He employed the up-and-coming historian, Arnold Toynbee, to compile a dossier of evidence that would be presented to parliament. Rather than being merely a cynical attempt to influence neutral opinion (as Bryce has been accused of), he appeared to want to genuinely act in the interest of ‘historic truth’, as he informed Foreign Secretary Grey, and while the events in question were still ‘in living memory’. After all, most of the evidence was obtained from proArmenian contacts in America and Switzerland. In itself, this suggests that the flow of source information about atrocities was not coming out of Britain but rather going the other way. Bryce and Toynbee also had one eye on potential post-war territorial issues, such as whether Turkey should be allowed to rule over its Armenian minority (the bit that was left) after the war. The dossier mostly contained eyewitness reports, and the editors carefully omitted any evidence that seemed ‘open to reasonable doubt.’164 Bryce’s preface placed the atrocities squarely in the context of the nineteenth-century massacres, but he also provided evidence of ‘pious and compassionate Moslems’ who tried ‘to save the lives or alleviate the miseries of their Christian neighbours’.165 The summary referred to certain ‘German apologists’, but made no attempt to indict the German government, the German high command or the German people. In fact, the inclusion of evidence from German witnesses not only gave the report credibility, but also suggested that Germans per se were not Bryce’s target. As Toynbee himself wrote in 1915, ‘on the whole’ it is ‘unlikely that the German authorities initiated the crime. The Turks do not need tempters’.166 Bryce brushed aside notions that the Armenians had brought the violence on themselves and correctly concluded that the systematic



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nature of deportations suggested the war was ‘an opportunity and not a cause’.167 Even though the massacres, like the German atrocities in Belgium, clearly assailed Bryce’s moral sense, his liberal outlook remained intact. He summarised the collection of evidence as follows: ‘We have a vivid picture of human life, where wickedness in high places deliberately lets loose the passions of racial or religious hatred, as well as the commoner passion of rapacity, yet cannot extinguish those better feelings which show as points of light in the gloom.’168 The report was compiled in such a way as to make it accessible to the general reader. The Manchester Guardian commented that it was more like a ‘real book’ than a work of reference.169 The liberal New Statesman, in a ‘Blue Book Supplement’, suggested that ‘an unbiased person should have little difficulty in estimating the value of the evidence.’170 It is likely then that the dossier was widely read and understood. Donald Bloxham concedes that Britons focused on the suffering of the Armenians and that this ‘culminated in the now-famous 1916 Foreign Office “blue book’’’, but he ignores its tone and content, preferring instead the standard tale of allied atrocity-mongering.171 It was, no doubt, difficult to talk of the extermination of a people in measured terms, but Bryce’s book was remarkably balanced given the wartime context.

helping the armenians Armenian suffering certainly struck a public chord. A meeting on 1 October 1915 heralded the creation of the ‘Manchester Armenian Relief Fund’, which was to work hand-in-hand with the London-based ‘Armenian Red Cross and Refugee Fund’.172 Within a month, at another mass meeting also in Manchester organised by the Armenian Relief Committee, £2,500 was raised.173 By February 1916 the total raised for the Lord Mayor’s Fund had reached £34,000 and by June the figure stood at £53,000.174 These were remarkable sums of money for the time and all the more so in cash-strapped wartime Britain. The Lord Mayor’s Fund had been set up on 15 October 1915 at a Mansion House meeting.175 Speakers included Bryce, Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, Charles Gore, the abstemious



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and anti-nationalistic Bishop of Oxford, Sir Edwin Pears, a veteran journalist whose dispatches heavily influenced the Bulgarian agitation, and O’Connor.176 Government ministers Lord Robert Cecil and A.J. Balfour expressed sympathy with the cause and thus gave the campaign semi-official endorsement.177 Gore’s words demonstrated how the Armenian cause had been pricking the nation’s conscience for many years. He highlighted Britain’s ‘very special measure of responsibility and … obligation’ to the Armenians because he, like many others, thought Britain was responsible for preventing Russia from fulfilling ‘its mission’ to liberate ‘the Christian population of Turkey’ in 1878.178 Church leaders supported the fund and clergymen actively organised collections.179 Support also came from the left. Labour party leader, Arthur Henderson, claimed that Britain’s workers were ‘deeply shocked by Turkish savagery’ and determined that ‘a Christian people’ should never again ‘be bound by the odious Ottoman shackles.’180 Wednesday, 13 June 1917 was designated ‘Armenia Day’. A large advert in The Times was plastered with resonant quotes from the great and the good, living and dead, including Gladstone, Salisbury, Bryce, Asquith, Cecil and former Labour Party Chairman, Ramsay MacDonald.181 As Artin Arslanian suggests, the sympathy of the British press, public and officials was virtually ‘universal’.182 Support for Armenians, though, was not inextricably linked to hatred of Germans. Rather, it built on a long tradition of Christian and liberal concern.183 Pro-Armenian sentiments could, in some quarters, contain the charge that Turks were under German control, but generally arguments were much more subtle than that. British wartime indignation was primarily aimed at the lack of German protest, which in turn was judged on whether there was any curtailing of anti-Armenian violence. That Britain had no leverage over Turkish action led to intense frustration, which added to the guilt already accrued over Britain’s failure to protect Armenians and the awareness that nineteenth-century politicians had cynically used the issue to extend the British Empire. Possibly these feelings were somehow projected onto Germany, the only power in wartime, as Britons saw it, with sufficient influence to intervene. Bloxham thinks the British were wrong, that Germany did not have sufficient purchase in Ottoman affairs to make a significant difference.



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Furthermore, he suggests that British protests were merely an extension of ‘a much larger propaganda war’.184 Is he right? Bloxham is right to position himself against bald claims of official German complicity as propounded by Vahakn Dadrian, but perhaps goes too far.185 He contends that German protests would have fatally ruptured German–Turkish relations. Accordingly, Germany’s prospects of winning the war would have suffered a mortal blow, and they were therefore justified in protecting their strategic interests. By adopting this stance, Bloxham implicitly plays off Germany’s survival in ‘the most destructive conflict the world had then seen’, with genocide.186 Put plainly, he argues that German war aims trumped mass murder. He further suggests that the possibility of Germans using ‘force’ to stop genocide imposes modern-day humanitarian values onto the situation, thus creating an anachronism. Bloxham does two things here. First, by introducing a hypothetical extreme, suggesting that ‘force’ was the only way to stop the massacres, he creates a false paradigm. There were arguably many gradations of protest available, even between wartime allies. After all, the Ottoman authorities needed Germany as much, if not more, than Germany needed them. Second, he ignores the Western tendency, briefly described above, towards the adoption of more humane values in wartime. In other words, humanitarian considerations were very much part and parcel of international discussion several years before the outbreak of war. As in other theatres of war, it seems the German authorities in Turkey allowed themselves to become desensitised to human suffering. Moreover, Bloxham’s desire to problematise the issue within an international framework that places German responsibility on a par with that of the other Great Powers obscures the specific role played by German support for the Ottoman regime. As Eric Weitz argues, even the more sophisticated historiography – and Bloxham is definitely in this category – concentrate on the events during the First World War and neglect ‘the larger course of German–Ottoman relations.’187 Britain’s relationship with Ottoman authorities suffered in the late nineteenth century because outraged public opinion forced the government to be at least equivocal in their dealings with the Turkish government, the Porte. Germany used the rift to get closer to Turkey



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and its continued patronage gave some leeway for the pre-war massacres and paved the way for Turkish confidence during the war that although widespread violence against ‘internal’ enemies might be problematic, it would not be too problematic. Bloxham correctly points out that German authorities made periodic protests. However, the decision to censor the German press, the decision of the German press to censor themselves (bearing in mind that ‘not noticing took an act of will’), and declarations either denying mass slaughter or justifying deportations, especially in the United States, sent further signals to the Ottoman authorities that their actions were somehow acceptable and their aims perhaps achievable.188 The fact that ‘some German officers even signed some of the deportation orders’, although reprehensible, becomes less significant than the indulgence shown to Ottoman authorities over a sustained period.189 Because of this context, the CUP leadership was able to bat away sporadic German protests during the war. The latter was in too deep. German self-interest had created a form of credulity about the Ottoman interpretation of the Armenian question that was fatally exploited by the Ottoman authorities. For British reactions, of course, this is all background. But it shows that if we question the assertion that British responses to Armenian suffering were merely an extension of a cynical Allied propaganda campaign, then many British commentators were not too far out. It is important to note that official publications, as well as statements in parliament and the quality press, laced their concerns with caveats when it came to German culpability. They wrestled with it and this gave rise to considerable equivocation about German complicity. In particular, ordinary Germans were excused from blame, simply because it was deemed that information about the massacres was kept from them. As I have suggested, expressions of indignation about mass murder were perhaps more an attempt to goad the German cognoscenti to protest. As the Manchester Guardian angrily pointed out in 1918, ‘Not a word has been said of the plight of the Armenians in the German press.’190 On this last point, Margaret Lavinia Anderson asks, ‘Who knew? If we look not at the hard-pressed Germanin-the-street but at the elites, the close knit world of movers, shakers, and public opinion-makers, then the answer is clear: everyone. And if we ask, what did they know? The answer, with equal certitude, is: enough.’191



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This was more or less the suspicion held by British commentators. They said it out loud and mostly they were right. Post-war, one of the most surprising elements in all this is how quickly British officials failed to maintain their position of denouncing the Armenian massacres. Despite nationwide indignation, despite public statements by senior politicians, despite the creation of Armenia in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, despite thwarted British attempts to bring some perpetrators to justice, the de facto position was that the Armenians were left high and dry.192 The denouement of this process of abandonment is discussed in the next chapter. Meanwhile, East European Jews were also the targets of mass violence in the post-war period. Unlike the Belgians, French and Armenians, however, Jews were not identified as a worthy cause.

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Three years before war broke out The Times published an editorial in defence of its Vienna correspondent. It was apparently a ‘well-known fact’ that crypto-Jews, in other words, Jews who concealed their identity but who were secretly aligned with a worldwide ‘Jewish cause’, were the brains behind the CUP. Even more disturbingly, they were held responsible for the Adana massacres.193 Influential Jews were also suspected of capitalising on the mass murder of Armenians and of settling Russian Jews in the towns vacated by the dead. The Times was anxious because it detected something vaguely similar happening in London. No massacre was anticipated, but the capital was flooded with ‘criminal’ Russian Jews. Additionally, the paper claimed that Jewish Masonic string-pullers were at one end of a line of ‘financial’ influence traceable ‘to Frankfort and Berlin’.194 Germany, in other words, was seen as the source of Jewish influence. Sir Gerald Lowther and his staff at the British Embassy in Constantinople shared these views and they also found fertile ground in the upper echelons of the Foreign Office.195 The German–Jewish connection was alive and well in the minds of British officialdom. Somewhere amongst this mess of thoughts was a connection between Jewish criminality and atrocities.



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It is a fact, not as well known as it should be, that when German, Austrian and Russian forces clashed on the eastern front during the First World War, the Jews in West Russia, Congress (Russian) Poland and Austrian-controlled Galicia were the victims of atrocities. It was an area of Europe suffused with complex loyalties. This is not surprising, as Germany, Austria and Russia all promised the inhabitants of disputed areas their own version of freedom. The main objects of this wooing were Poles and Ukrainians, who also agitated for independence.196 Caught in the middle were 7 million Jewish inhabitants, who were subject to the rampaging passions of competing nationalisms. Seen as possessing suspect loyalties by Germans, Russians, Austrians and later Poles and Ukrainians, Jews found themselves caught up in a perpetual cycle of violence.197 As early as August 1914, German troops advanced into Congress Poland and under the pretext of eradicating snipers, shelled the Jewish quarter of Kalisz, the most ancient Jewish community in Poland, killing 33 people. The Russians went further. Exploiting wellestablished rumours of Jewish treachery, they carried out brutal mass deportations to the Russian interior. Galician Jews suffered a similar fate. A 1916 report by the American Jewish Committee, set up in 1906 to defend the rights of oppressed Jews, stated: Hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes on a day’s notice, the more fortunate being packed and shipped as freight – the old, the sick and insane, men, women and children, shuttled from one province to another, side-tracked for days without food or help of any kind – the less fortunate driven into the woods and swamps to die of starvation. Jewish towns were sacked and burned wantonly. Hundreds of Jews were carried off as hostages into Germany, Austria and Russia. Orgies of lust and torture took place in public in the light of day. There are scores of villages where not a single woman was left inviolate. Women, old and young, were stripped and knouted in the public squares. Jews were burned alive in synagogues where they had fled for shelter. Thousands were executed on the flimsiest pretext or from sheer purposeless cruelty.198

Unlike the Armenian atrocities, what was happening to the Jews of Eastern Europe received little publicity in Britain.199 Reactions to Jewish atrocities were muted partly because Russia, the main perpetrator was Britain’s ally, but also because government representatives, for example Sir George Buchanan, the British Ambassador in Petrograd, was only too



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happy to believe his Russian counterparts about the nefarious qualities of Jews.200 Only the Anglo-Jewish community embarked on a relief campaign, but this was done at some risk. During the war Britain’s Jews, as noted above, were in persistent danger of being caught in an anti-alien wave. Already under suspicion for holding dual or impure loyalties, the organisation of relief for the victims of Britain’s ally Russia could have exacerbated the problem.201 In the aftermath of war, nationalist tension persisted but the actors changed. The collapse of the German, Austro–Hungarian and Russian Empires meant that the once-subordinate nations of Eastern Europe claimed independence. Thus the British Foreign Office was confronted with a farrago of new states and potentially violent internecine conflicts in Eastern Europe. Diplomats and officials were faced with a host of unfamiliar practical and ideological dilemmas. With Russia recalibrated as an enemy, Poland was welcomed as a friend, as it was a physical and ideological barrier to Bolshevism, which under Lenin’s ruthless leadership had taken a firm foothold in Russia. The Russian Revolution had sent a shock wave around the world, not least because of the accompanying ‘Red Terror’, a wave of violent repression described by Orlando Figes as a ‘war by the regime against the whole of society – a means of terrorising it into submission’.202 It is impossible to overstate the fear engendered in America and Western Europe by the accompanying ‘Red Scare’. In Britain, anti-Bolshevism fused with antiGermanism (along with older forms of anti-alienism), and Jews – largely blamed for the Bolshevik Revolution – were a significant connection. The notion that Jews were a problem, if not a threat, was, as Sharman Kadish notes, ‘by no means confined to the extreme right’.203 Fears that Bolshevism would creep into Western Europe via Germany or Poland and especially via German or Polish Jews remained strong.204 Poland, then, which had been the subject of regular partition since the eighteenth century, benefited from Great Power patronage in the post-war years.205 It was widely held in Britain that Poles deserved independence after years of occupation. Poles had certainly suffered during the war; after all, not only had they inhabited one of the main military and political combat zones, but in some areas they had been subject to harsh German occupation policies. Foreign Secretary Arthur



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Balfour, positioning Britain as righting a historical wrong, promised that Poland would recover ‘those provinces ravished from her by Germany at the time of partition, or since’.206 When Lloyd George took the stage before trade union delegates assembled in Central Hall, Westminster, in January 1918 he was able to muster a considerable degree of unity for his package of war aims. These explicitly included the recreation of Poland, ‘comprising all those genuinely Polish elements who desire to form part of it’.207 However, the prime minister’s wording had placed approximately 3 million Jews who lived on potentially Polish territory in an ambiguous position. They would have to demonstrate their Polish credentials to be accepted by the Allies as part of the project. Moreover, they were under intense suspicion. As Lord Robert Cecil wrote in 1919: As is well known, a large proportion of the Bolshevist administration was composed of Jews…They in turn, driven perhaps by the necessities of their position, have committed, allowed to be committed, great atrocities…Nor is the action of Jewish revolutionaries confined to Russia. I am told by those who have studied the subject that there is scarcely a dangerous revolutionary movement in any part of Europe which has not at the back of it a Jew.208

Anglo-Jewish leaders noted Britain’s reticence to officially acknowledge the rights of the millions of East European Jews and interceded with Balfour on their behalf. Poles, Serbs and Czechs were the beneficiaries of British postwar planning, they pointed out, but millions of Jews were left exposed.209 The Balfour Declaration, promising Jews ‘a national home’ in Palestine, was anathema for people such as Sir Stuart Samuel and Claude Montefiore, who between them represented the majority of British Jews.210 Both were implacably opposed to Zionism and believed that Jews should assimilate into the dominant political culture.211 It is difficult to say how representative this view was of British Jewry as a whole, which was permeated with a multiplicity of political, social, and economic divisions. Nonetheless, their leaders thought, not without justification, that anti-Semites in Poland would see Balfour’s promise as ‘an invitation to solve the Jewish question by emigration.’ They therefore requested a ‘supplementary Declaration’ that would provide Eastern Jews with ‘complete religious, civil and political emancipation on a footing of equality with their fellow citizens’.212 Balfour expressed ‘sympathy’ with their views, but would not budge.



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While Jewish advocates were kept at arm’s length, Polish representatives, especially Roman Dmowski’s Polish National Committee (PNC) were treated with respect and handed a seat at the coming Paris Peace Conference.213 Dmowski’s virulent anti-Semitism was an inconvenience for British officials, but not sufficient reason to hinder fairly intense cooperation.214 Poland also had British advocates in the Polish Information Committee, whose influential members represented a broad political spectrum.215

Claim and counter-claim For the casual British observer at the end of the war, the city of Lemberg would have been difficult to place. For a start, it was in what was then loosely known as Galicia.216 Before 1918, this stretched west beyond Cracow and well into what is now eastern Ukraine. Adding to Lemberg’s abstruseness was its multicultural composition.217 During the war, the city had been occupied at various times by Russian, German, Austrian and finally Polish and Ukrainian forces. Its ownership seemed perennially unresolved.218 Yet, Lemberg was to become well-known to Britons for all the wrong reasons in early December 1918, when the city became a hot topic in the thinking press. By that time, the Germans and Austrians were clearly spent and the Russians were fighting amongst themselves. With little to hold them back, Poles and Ukrainians sought to carve out their own spheres of influence and both wanted Lemberg. The Ukrainian attempt to take the city was foiled by the Poles, who claimed victory for themselves on 22 November. It was immediately followed by a twoday orgy of violence in the Jewish quarter. Rape, murder and looting by Polish troops and civilians went unchecked by authorities. It was the spoils of victory.219 News of the violence was quickly transmitted to Britain. East European Jews received some support in the Foreign Office from Galician Jew Lewis Namier. He had arrived in England in 1908 ‘with a heavy accent’ and a ‘reputation for brilliance’. His knowledge of the area and his persistent lobbying on behalf of East European Jews made him a thorn in the flesh to his superiors.220 Perhaps more significantly,

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Polish Jews had a charismatic advocate in the form of Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist movement. His ability to make an impact on British statesmen was, according to Richard Crossman, ‘because he was utterly proud to be a Russian Jew from the Pale’, his only devotion being to ‘a country that did not yet exist’.221 On account of continued anti-Jewish violence and pressure from Weizmann, who threatened to organise a countrywide crusade in Britain as well as protests in France, Italy and America on behalf of Eastern Jews, the Foreign Office acquiesced to a fact-finding mission by the Manchester-based journalist and son of Polish immigrants, Israel Cohen.222 This was agreed on two conditions: that he went as a ‘special’ representative of The Times, and that the paper made ‘it quite clear’ that he was ‘a Jew and a Zionist’.223 Before the massacre at Lemberg hit the headlines, Balfour had issued a ‘solemn warning’ to the Poles.224 ‘The victory of freedom just attained,’ he stated, ‘will be of little avail if the world is to see the will of force, so recently vanquished, re-incarnated in other forms no less repugnant to the principles of liberty’.225 He hinted that continued disorder by the Poles would place Polish representation at the coming Peace Conference under threat.226 However, while the British government was publicly advocating a muscular humanitarian stance, their de facto recognition of the PNC gave little incentive for Polish politicians to rein in violence. In accordance with its ongoing policy of Polish support, the government had already decided to send a ‘semi-official, semi-diplomatic intelligence mission’ of its own to Poland under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel H. Wade.227 He was asked to examine the Lemberg pogrom as an afterthought. This had the additional benefit of soothing liberal concerns about official tolerance shown to Dmowski’s violent anti-Semitism.228 Wade’s first task, to forge a link with the provisional authorities, notably the new Prime Minister Ignacy Paderewski, impacted on his second: to ascertain whether ‘Jewish societies’ were telling the truth about atrocities.229 In fact, some European Zionist bureaus had embellished the casualty figures, but these were countered by equally misleading remonstrations of innocence by Polish supporters.230 Wade’s report to the Foreign Office in January 1919 exonerated the Poles and stated that Jewish deaths, ‘now 72’, were the result of ‘armed’ Jews siding with Ukrainian forces.231 In other words, they were portrayed as legitimate casualties of war.



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Senior Foreign Office officials were predisposed to believe Wade’s pro-Polish, anti-Jewish findings. Esme Howard, who used his position as a member of the British delegation to the Paris Peace Conference to push for an enlarged Poland, feared, like Wade, that ‘German propaganda’ had adversely affected public opinion against Poland.232 By ‘German’ they often meant Jewish, and this is where their suspicion fell. Eyre Crowe, the German-born Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, suggested it was in the nature of Jews to gravitate towards ‘revolutionary and terroristic movements’.233 Even Balfour, although sceptical of linking Jews to both Bolshevism and imperialism, was not impervious to basing his preconceptions on anti-Semitic stereotypes. Persecution over the years, he believed, had produced ‘undesirable’ self-protecting qualities in Jews, while the civil qualities that bound a community to their nation ‘by something deeper even than custom’ were, for him, missing from Jews who chose not to live in Palestine.234 As Edmond de Rothschild noted after a meeting with Balfour, ‘it was always difficult to say where the anti-Semite ended and the Zionist began.’235 These attitudes seem to have helped secure sympathy for the Polish point of view. Thus, Polish troops who had fought alongside the Germans were allowed ‘unrestricted passage’ to Polish territory. With the blessing of the British prime minster, the Polish authorities were initially supplied with 12,000 rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition.236 The Times reflected Foreign Office prejudice and detailed examination of its coverage is worthwhile because of its political influence. It was one of very few papers with a correspondent in the area and it set the tone for the rest of the British press. Initially, The Times felt it necessary to point out that atrocities committed by Germans, Turks and ‘Jewish Bolshevists’ did not bear comparison with Polish pogroms.237 The former were state-sanctioned and qualified as ‘frightfulness’, whereas the anti-Jewish violence in Poland was somehow spontaneous and excusable.238 In any case, according to The Times, brutality was a response to Jewish ‘provocation.’ The paper argued that not only was the proportion of Jews in Poland ‘far higher than any people can digest’, but also that Jewish ‘tendencies’ displayed in Poland reflected badly on other Jews, wherever they lived.239 Moreover, it was thought that the large numbers of Polish Jews living in extreme poverty made them susceptible to Bolshevism, and therefore anti-Semitism was a natural consequence.240 It was assumed that Anglo-



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Jewish leaders, the ‘antithesis’ of the Lemberg Jews, could influence their East European brethren and tame ‘troublesome’ elements, who were implicated in ‘questions of usury, food profiteering, and betrayal of Poles’.241 The Times raised the sinister prospect that Bolsheviks, facilitated by Germany, were sending Jewish agents into Poland.242 This was apparently the first step towards Poland becoming ‘a corridor’ through which Bolsheviks would gain access to the heart of Europe. This mish-mash of fear, obfuscation and typecasting was topped with a slice of home-grown ‘logic’. Even Londoners, ‘under provocation’ during the war, had wrecked shops belonging to foreigners. If the English had been incited to violence against Germans, and German often equalled Jew, presumably the Polish response was defensible.243 Poles, by contrast, were lauded for their gallantry. The battle for Lemberg was a heroic tale in which youthful Poles ousted Ukrainians using little but their fists.244 The Times’ correspondent, on visiting the scene days after the violence, pronounced everything had returned to normal and Lemberg was like ‘any European city on a Sunday’.245 It was a simple matter, therefore, to deduce that pogrom stories were ‘much exaggerated’ and designed to ‘discredit Poles … for purposes which the Germans and Bolshevists know best’.246 With Lemberg’s Jews firmly established as being in league with Poland’s (and Britain’s) ideological enemies, The Times adopted a seemingly balanced and disinterested stance calling for ‘improvement’ in Polish–Jewish relations, but still left its readers with a warning. Unless ‘frantic anti-Polish propaganda’ was suppressed – and by this it meant Jewish claims about pogroms – then the embittered population might, once again, turn to violence.247 Liberal publications were not immune to accepting these interpretations.248

Persistent rumours Reports of anti-Jewish violence in Poland, though, would not go away and the Foreign Office fretted that they would undermine public support for Poland.249 In the hope that it might stem further outbreaks by adding much-needed stability to the region, Britain moved to officially recognise Poland.250 However, far from calming things down, it heralded fresh



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outbreaks. Poland and Soviet Russia were now drifting into war and were fighting for control of eastern territories now emptied of German troops.251 Polish troops in border areas continued to see the Jewish occupants of these regions as part of the Bolshevik threat. Left-wing journalist Henry Brailsford, who was touring the warzone, arrived in the ancient Russian town of Pinsk in the spring of 1919. It was a town that had changed hands a number of times in six months. First Germans, then Ukrainians, then ‘Bolsheviki’ and finally Poles. According to Brailsford, Polish soldiers and their commanders were instinctively anti-Jewish. ‘It must be explained’ wrote Brailsford, ‘that the Polish officers are firmly convinced that every Jew is a Bolshevik’. Jews lived in a perpetual state of nervousness, not helped by the military practice of indiscriminately forcing them, ‘with insults and even with blows’, to perform unpaid menial tasks. Brailsford continued, the ‘military know that they are unwelcome, and they seek, because their forces are wholly inadequate, to secure themselves by severity’. Brailsford noted the words of one young officer who acted as the commandant of the town: ‘we know’ of the hostility in the villages, ‘it has been decided to burn some of them, and decimate the inhabitants’.252 On 5 April, more than 30 members of a local Jewish committee who had gathered to distribute flour and medicine from the USA were summarily executed on suspicion that they were Bolsheviks. Reports of the incident by Wade’s team did little to calm Foreign Office nerves, although the massacre barely registered in the mainstream press.253 Yet, British Jews chose not to pursue the matter.254 Lucien Wolf, Anglo-Jewish expert on foreign affairs and heavily involved in lobbying Peace Conference delegates on the subject of a treaty that would protect minority rights, was concerned that agitation might destabilise Paderewski, who was seen as more moderate than Dmowski.255 British Zionists were less restrained. A public meeting was held at London’s Queen’s Hall on 9 April to hear Israel Cohen’s report of his visit. Although 131 towns and villages had allegedly been hit by varying levels of violence between November and January, Cohen dismissed any idea that atrocities had been centrally organised. He resisted exaggerated accounts and highlighted the bravery of individual Poles.256 For his efforts, Cohen was censured by the right-wing Morning Post, which rejected pogrom



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claims as ‘Apocryphal’. Instead, the Post suggested that ‘the true object of the meeting’ had been ‘to discredit Poland and to help Germany’.257 Fresh reports of Polish atrocities arrived at the Foreign Office during the first half of 1919. Victories at Lida and Vilna had been accompanied by scores of Jewish deaths, with hundreds more taken prisoner and the looting of homes and synagogues.258 Although news of the brutalities was slow in reaching Britain, they eventually received considerable coverage in the serious Liberal press.259 Cecil Harmsworth, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, informed the Commons that Jewish victims had been implicated in an anti-Polish plot, but he sidestepped a request to have on-the-spot reports made public.260 In response to renewed violence, the Anglo-Jewish leadership finally decided to organise a protest. Officials were bombarded with telegrams and the Foreign Office was prompted to pressurise its Polish counterpart. Protest spilled over into the press, which also reported on a huge Jewish demonstration in New York.261 A Jewish National Day of Mourning was arranged for 26 June. British Jews refrained from work to process silently through London, Manchester and Leeds. Messages of support were received from Archbishop of York Cosmo Lang, Conservative MP Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, maverick Liberal MP Colonel Wedgwood, Sidney Webb, trade unionist J.R. Clynes and Liberal politician Sir Donald Maclean. In response to growing restiveness about the pogroms, Lord Cecil sent a note expressing confidence that the Peace Conference would ‘insert safeguards against the outrages’ into the final settlement.262 Jewish-led attempts to highlight the violence were hampered by the general view that Jews were seen as distinct from the rest of the population and were perceived not so much with empathy, as with a certain objective curiosity. For instance, J. Herbert Tritton, who witnessed the London protest, reported to the diarist, Andrew Clark, that he saw: a long procession of Jews (men and women) from the E[ast] end, in Hyde Park. They were diminutive people, none (J.H.T. thought) over five feet height [sic]. They were carrying black banners – on which were ‘We protest against the massacres of Jews in Poland’, and similar inscriptions. J.H.T.’s comment was ‘very futile: but what can they do?’263

Clearly, for many, it was a case of ‘us and them’, a Jewish problem. Not helping matters was the reaction of the press. Generally, the papers



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seemed indifferent to the protests or were outright opposed to them. Some even resorted to anti-Jewish diatribes with the obligatory German or Bolshevik connection.264 But the issue would not go away, not least, as Jewish leaders managed to prompt sympathetic MPs to ask the occasional awkward parliamentary question. Some of the one-sided reports that British agents sent to the Foreign Office became less tenable, as the atrocities gained greater press coverage. For example, Captain Crewdson, the senior British officer in Warsaw, reported that a recent anti-Jewish riot ‘owed its origin to overcharging by a Jewish shop-keeper’. Polish troops had merely ‘retaliated’ and given the offender ‘a thoroughly good hiding.’265 Crewdson also accounted for some of the day-to-day persecution suffered by Jews. Polish soldiers ‘have a playful habit’, he reported, ‘when excited of catching a Jew and shaving his beard off.’ This, he reasoned, was ‘natural’ enough because of the plethora of ‘low class’ Jews who were ‘dirty and disgusting’. Summing up, Crewdson claimed that the name ‘Jew’ was ‘synonymous with that of profiteer’, that virtually all Jews were armed and that it was their habit to ‘work the revolution through hands other than their own’.266 Crewdson’s report was plainly misleading and dangerously so. Indeed, those on the receiving end of such ‘playful’ persecution often feared for their life. As one American eyewitness reported: an old man burst in great excitement. Tears were running down his cheeks and he was trembling so that he could hardly speak for a few moments. Finally he managed to explain that while he was standing outside two soldiers had seized him, while a third had hacked off his beard with a dagger. The old man kept on repeating, ‘I thought he was going to cut my throat.’267

The two accounts neatly juxtapose different perceptions of the same event. Other reports reaching Britain were less biased. The disparity between differing accounts meant the Foreign Office was sufficiently concerned to inform Balfour that ‘there is still a strong feeling in the country and Parliament about the treatment of Jews in Poland. One cause seems to be complete inefficiency and corruption of Polish police.’268 One positive outcome of this and in response to a Polish ‘request’, was the decision of the government to send over a select commission of experienced Metropolitan Police Officers to help devise ‘an adequate system for the



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maintenance of law and order’. However, as the Manchester Guardian pointed out with some incredulity, ‘the supervision or the prevention of a pogrom might find even the average Metropolitan constable rather at a loss.’269 Public pressure in America led the US government to send a threeman team, headed by Henry Morgenthau, to investigate anti-Semitic disorders. The British government offered to send a man to join the team, but when it was rejected they decided to send a team of their own. Paderewski was livid and accused the Jews of francs-tireurs tactics and exaggerating violence. He tried to play down Polish violence by comparing it with pogroms that were concurrently being carried out in Russia and areas of what it now Ukraine, but reluctantly he complied.270 The Commissioner of the British delegation was Sir Stuart Samuel. Acting as his assistant was a man with a reputation in the Foreign Office as a kind of expert on Eastern Jews, Captain Peter Wright. However, unbeknown to Samuel, Wright was an associate of Dmowski and shared his anti-Semitic outlook.271 The dispatch of the delegation had the immediate – and no doubt for the government, welcome – effect of silencing talk about anti-Jewish violence. Leaving in late summer, the commission returned in December 1919, but the government delayed the report’s publication until July the following year. Parliamentary questions were batted away by government suggestions that the report should be referred to the League of Nations. As we shall see, this was merely a ploy. Meanwhile there was little respite from the regular intimidation and violence suffered by Polish Jews. Although a small number of MPs sporadically raised the issue in parliament, Namier became steadily more isolated in the Foreign Office. His attempts to highlight anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe was treated as a joke by diplomats, such as Sir Percy Lorraine and the newly appointed minister to Poland, Horace Rumbold.272

Damage control In April 1920, Polish–Soviet antagonism evolved into full-scale military conflict. The advent of war meant that in Britain, anything other than public advocacy of Poland was increasingly untenable. Poland’s image was



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enhanced by its regular characterisation as a ‘small nation’, the underdog against the Bolshevist bully.273 But public advocacy of Poland had the effect that accounts of regular persecution and violence against Polish Jews were less likely to be aired in Britain. In fact, behind the scenes the Foreign Office was intriguing to discredit British Jews. A letter to Rumbold from Foreign Office official Duncan Gregory, an ardent supporter of the Polish cause, is proof of the tactics the government employed and the ideology behind them. First, though, Samuel’s report (which had yet to be made public) was a commentary on the violence and day-to-day trials faced by Polish Jews based on witness statements. He drew a distinction between low-level persecution and the officially sanctioned pogroms at Lemberg, Lida and Vilna, which had claimed about 350 lives. He had ‘striven to detail and discuss the distressing incidents under investigation with a restraint befitting the official mission’, but felt bound ‘to place on record the pain and horror’ with which he ‘listened to the eye-witnesses of these callous and bloodthirsty crimes by which so many innocent and harmless people were done to death’.274 Nonetheless, he was optimistic for the future. For Gregory, this was ‘sheer Bolshevik propaganda’ and as far as he was concerned, ‘the Mission ought never to have gone’. He explained that publication had been successfully delayed by ‘the League of Nations trick’, but thought ‘the thing may not be completely dead.’ Gregory believed they had ‘overlooked the opportunity’ of limiting Samuel’s brief, but felt that a ‘mollifying coverer’ from Rumbold along the lines sketched out by Wright would neutralise the report. After all, it was ‘only a small fraction in the House which would really press’ for publication.275 With Harmsworth and his new boss, Foreign Secretary George Curzon, colluding with Gregory, Wright and Rumbold, these machinations amounted to a government strategy for undermining support for persecuted Jews, at a moment when Poles were, in any case, the beneficiaries of broad public sympathy. When Samuel’s report was eventually published it was sandwiched between Rumbold’s letter and an additional report penned by Wright without Samuel’s knowledge. Wright’s contribution was heavily biased towards the Poles and is noteworthy as perhaps the most anti-Semitic document ever published in the name of any British government.276



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Jews, he claimed, were complicit in German efforts to ‘squeeze and drain Poland’ and were guilty of ritual murder. He believed Bolshevism in Poland was ‘almost purely a Jewish movement’, driven by ‘big profits’. Poverty-stricken Jews were by inference also ‘capitalists’ with a tendency to exploit local peasants. Therefore, by looting Jewish possessions the Polish peasant soldier was taking what ‘the Jew has so long extracted from him’. It was, Wright wrote, an even contest in which ‘the Jew claims a right to all the profits, and the Poles to kick the Jew whenever he feels the inclination.’ In order to drive the point home he tried hard to show that Poles were similar to Britons (their soldiers were ‘the Polish Tommy’), while Jews were the opposite. To help his readers understand the Polish response, he painted a picture of an England where Jews had taken over, where all signs were in Hebrew, all shops and factories Jewish-owned, parliamentary seats given over to Jews, separate Jewish law courts used ‘Yiddish as well as English in the king’s Bench and Chancery Division’, ‘Bank of England notes’ would be ‘printed in Yiddish as well as in English’, and Jews would not only use ‘a foreign tongue, but that foreign tongue’ would be ‘the language of an enemy.’ Anti-Semitism, he argued, had been ‘the shield of Poland’ and if its government tried to stamp it out, it would ‘violate the very first principle of its constitution.’277 When it came to the number of Jewish casualties, Wright was ‘more astonished at their smallness than their greatness’. Rumbold’s contribution was most prominent. Using a tone of reasoned diplomacy, he flatly contradicted Samuel by denying that outbreaks of violence in Lemberg, Lida and Vilna were pogroms. Comparisons with German or Turkish violence were also scotched. Effectively, Rumbold’s missive gave government sanction to the notion that there were simply too many Jews in Poland, most of whom were tied to ‘commerce’ rather than ‘engaged’ in the war against Russia ‘or settled on the land’. Rumbold reflected Balfour’s belief by stressing that in vast regions of Europe, Jewish ‘loyalty to the State’ in which they lived was ‘(to put it mildly) feeble compared with their loyalty to their religion and their race.’278 Clearly, this was an assault on Jewish loyalty to Poland at a moment when the country was under attack from Bolshevik Russia. Effectively, Jews were painted as the enemy within. No mention was made of the



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widespread anti-Jewish economic boycott, which made commerce one of the few remaining ways in which Jews could earn a meagre living. The association between Jews and Germany, Rumbold wrote, was justification enough for the action of the Polish authorities in ‘relieving many Jews … of their offices, and not reinstating them’. Close comparison between his first draft and the finished article shows that the anti-Jewish emphasis was carefully and particularly applied.279 Rumbold, with guidance from Wright and with the blessing of his political masters, cleverly used his position to isolate Samuel and make light of anti-Jewish violence in Poland. He ended with a rebuke for the AngloJewish community. The condition of Polish Jews, he stated, was better by far than the conditions of Jews in neighbouring states. In fact: the massacres of Jews by Ukrainian peasant bands can find, in their extent and thoroughness, no parallel except in the massacres of the Armenians in the Turkish Empire…It is giving the Jews very little real assistance to single out as is sometimes done, for reprobation and protest, the country where they have perhaps suffered least.280

This was misleading. Not only did it create a false moral equivalence between violence against Jews in adjacent countries, it gave the impression that agitation by Anglo-Jewish leaders on behalf of Polish Jews was primarily for political or ideological motives. This was not the case. Anglo-Jewish leaders had also tried to intercede on behalf of persecuted Jews in Russia and the Ukraine, but their efforts had been rebuffed. Most newspapers chose to ignore Samuel’s account altogether. The Daily Mail, Britain’s largest selling paper, emphasised the ‘Germanised’ nature of Polish Jews.281 The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and Daily News gave prominence to Rumbold’s letter.282 The Morning Post was confident that the government paper ‘sufficiently disposes of the exaggerated reports’ of anti-Jewish violence by Poles and praised Wright’s contribution as ‘one of the most illuminating documents of the subject which has yet appeared … which is not only a political statement but a valuable ethnological treatise.’283 The Times drew readers’ attention to Wright’s commentary as ‘a most interesting disquisition’, which: shows the extraordinary difficulties presented by the existence in Poland of a large population which perpetuates in itself an archaic polity, curious customs, and as meticulous observance of its religious ordinances as was

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that of the Pharisees 2,000 years ago. It is a foreign body in the very heart of the State, an Oriental civilisation hitherto racially insoluble, which now under the guidance of nationalist leaders seeks to erect itself into a close politico-religious corporation with the widest powers while yet remaining in Poland.284

The Guardian refrained from comment and more or less limited itself to a verbatim reproduction of Rumbold’s letter.285 Only the Daily Herald chose to draw attention to the anti-Jewish nature of the violence.286 News from Poland coincided with an unprecedented surge of antiJewish feeling in Britain. In July 1920, anti-Semitism manifested itself in ways previously unimagined. The Samuel Report was published on 3 July; five days later the debate on the Amritsar massacre prompted unparalleled anti-Jewish scenes in parliament and on 12 July the first instalment of the serialised Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was published in the Morning Post. The Church Times criticised the Morning Post for publishing the forged Protocols. But at the same time it warned of ‘Jewish bigotry’ in Eastern Europe and added that ‘Russian Hebraism needs watching’.287 The Board of Deputies embarked on a largely futile attempt to refute accusations of Jewish complicity in Tsar Nicholas’s murder. These accusations originally appeared in the government White Paper, Russia No 1. In August The Times published a series of articles that amounted to a fabrication of Jewish complicity.288 British Jews were forced onto the defensive. A letter to Lord Rothschild from the foreign affairs spokesman of organised Anglo-Jewry, written in July 1920, shows that Jews in Britain saw the violence in Eastern Europe as fundamentally connected with anti-Jewish agitation in the United Kingdom: The fate of Eastern Europe depends to such an extent on the sympathy and goodwill of the allied nations that no political party in those countries can afford to ignore their public opinion, particularly the public opinion of all-powerful Great Britain. The Anti-Semites are well aware of that. It is precisely for this reason that they are strenuously endeavouring to permeate allied public opinion with their own spirit, making particular efforts to win the sympathy of Great Britain. This is why London is now enjoying the doubtful privilege of being made the chief base for the antiSemitic propaganda in Allied countries. These efforts have already been crowned with considerable success. An important portion of the British



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Press is already serving diligently the purposes of Anti-Semitism, turning British public opinion in a direction which a little time ago would appear unthinkable. In no other Allied country have the Anti-Semites so far obtained such results.289

The combined effect of the American and British missions to Poland served to create a Western consensus, which played down anti-Jewish violence in Poland. Public outrage, such as it was, could easily be controlled by a government inclined to support Poland, a nation that provided a physical and ideological barrier to Bolshevism. The attitude of Britons to Jewish persecution in Eastern Europe was markedly mute compared to responses to wartime German atrocities or the murder of the Armenians. The qualities that helped the British characterise themselves as the benevolent protector of the defenceless were largely cancelled out by a number of opposing forces. For a brief period in the summer of 1919, at a moment that coincided with the official creation of Poland, strong pro-Polish forces in Britain felt confident enough to give Jewish advocates a hearing. This did not last. Britain’s traditional commitment to a sense of fair play was geared more towards Poles than Jews. In Britain, when it came to suffering and atrocity, Jews were left with a legacy of mistrust, while Germany and Germans were, as we shall see, rehabilitated in the public imagination with remarkable speed.



2

The Rehabilitation of Germany

P O s t- Wa R v iOl e n C e : t h e at RO C i t Y BaC k l a sh

Within days of the last shot being fired in the Great War, Lloyd George called an election. For his erstwhile Liberal colleagues led by Asquith (who had resigned from the premiership in 1916), to do so with such undue haste was obscene. According to them, the incumbent prime minister was not consulting the electors, he was ‘stampeding them’; not to garner support for the peace process but to ‘seize power’.1 Lloyd George found unlikely support from the Unionists, led by Andrew Bonar Law. Together they would carry on the coalition forged in wartime.2 This was the inauspicious start to the ‘Coupon Election’, an Asquithian term designed to mock the selection process of coalition MPs, where parliamentary seats were ‘bartered’ in order to save the electoral skins of some Lloyd Georgian Liberals. In certain constituencies the Unionists had agreed to stand down. For those on the inside it meant subsuming petty differences to the greater, ‘national’ good. For those on the outside it was a Faustian pact, a subversion of parliamentary democracy. Doubtless, Lloyd George capitalised on victory, but the prime minister also argued that Britain had been left with a ‘moribund Parliament’, its authority ever diminishing. Majority support from an electorate that now included women over 30 was crucial for maximum British clout at the Paris Peace Conference, which would shape the post-war world. The coalition’s campaign focused on domestic reform and it is perhaps understandable that Lloyd George promised no ‘blank cheques’. What is less understandable is that the election, coming immediately after a war that left few families unscathed, was not uniformly characterised by



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hostility to Britain’s recently defeated enemy. It is undoubtedly true that from relatively anodyne beginnings the election became steadily more vitriolic and much of this vitriol was directed at Germany. Many modern historians suggest that the campaign was notorious for what A.J.P. Taylor describes as its ‘violent anti-German mood’, and sections of the press certainly seemed keen to stoke anti-Germanism.3 The Daily Mail, in typical fashion, regularly reminded its readers of the British death toll. The Express challenged its readership by asking, ‘How would the Germans like you to vote?’4 Northcliffe and Beaverbrook attempted to ratchet up the anti-German atmosphere and even The Times got involved.5 However, the idea that anti-German xenophobia swept a country out for revenge is too simplistic. Seeking support in his battle to lead the coalition prior to the election, Lloyd George appealed to Liberal stalwarts on the basis that revenge on Germany was not part of his agenda. Referring to the huge indemnity forced on France by Germany at the end of the Franco–Prussian War in 1871, he stated: No settlement which contravenes the principles of eternal justice will be a permanent one …We must not allow any sense of revenge, any spirit of greed, any grasping desire, to override the fundamental principles of righteousness. Vigorous attempts will be made to hector and bully the Government in the endeavour to make them depart from the strict principles of right and to satisfy some base, sordid, squalid ideas of vengeance and avarice.6

Having consolidated his leadership, Lloyd George did not even mention the Germans in his first election address of the campaign.7 In total, he made just six speeches during the campaign, and only the last two dealt specifically with reparations. Even then he was careful to demand that Germany pay ‘to the limit of her capacity’, a nebulous term that, in true Lloyd Georgian fashion, committed Britain to nothing in particular.8 Certain phrases, carefully pruned for the purpose and trotted out over years, have given the impression of unchecked anti-German xenophobia. Closer examination shows that they can be interpreted rather differently. For instance, a statement made by wartime cabinet minister, George Barnes, suggests that only those at the top were to be held responsible for Germany’s sins. Two weeks into the campaign, Barnes, a man recognised



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by contemporaries for his moderation and his staunch defence of working class rights, told an election meeting that he was in favour of ‘hanging the Kaiser’.9 Pinning the blame on ‘the autocrat in Germany’ was more important to him than punishing the ‘minor culprits’ responsible for war crimes whom, he believed, had merely been following orders.10 ‘Hang the Kaiser’ did not mean anti-German; if anything it meant the opposite – that only a few were guilty men. Even then, four days later, Winston Churchill seemed prepared to offer the Kaiser what Germany had not offered its victims, a ‘fair trial’, a fact that remains unreported in the history books.11 Eric Geddes, a businessman on the borders of politics, promised that Germany would ‘pay restitution, reparation and indemnity’, and was in no doubt that ‘we will get everything out of her that you can squeeze out of a lemon and a bit more.’ However, his comment has often been ripped from its context or misquoted. He proposed selling German gold, silver and jewels, pictures and libraries in order to fund the potential debt owed by Germany. Geddes also told his audience, ‘I would strip Germany as she has stripped Belgium.’12 He was undoubtedly advocating an over-simplified form of justice, but his apparent anger was arguably justified by Germany’s draconian wartime methods. There is no denying that the election campaign was somewhat uneven. The expanded electorate, 20 per cent of which remained in the armed forces and could not therefore be canvassed, presented MPs with what seemed like an impossible task. Many prospective MPs, given little time for electioneering, felt that their message was not getting through. As the campaign entered its final week, the election correspondent of the Manchester Guardian commented that there was a good deal of confusion, not helped by the multiplicity of candidates and by the competition for the coalition label. He noted that the nation seemed apathetic and was yielding ‘very slowly to the influence of meetings and sporadic efforts at canvassing. The meetings in London are not numerous enough to stir up enthusiasm, and if there had been more the contests would not seem so dull. The silent factor of the women’s vote puzzles most candidates.’13 The Times concurred. Although Trevor Wilson’s 1964 analysis of the election shows anti-Germanism reared its ugly head in areas of Cornwall and in parts of London, Manchester and Scotland, articles in The Times on 5 and 11 December belie the idea of an excitable anti-German populace.14 The



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paper provided detailed lists of public responses to the campaign. In Exeter, Tiverton and Honiton, the election was ‘practically devoid of incident’; in Portsmouth, electors were ‘slower than usual’ to show ‘interest’; in Bath, it was ‘the mildest in the annuls of the city’; in Worcester, ‘nomination day was the quietest ever known’; in Aldershot, things were ‘uneventful’; in Reading, there had never been so much apathy; in Gravesend, meetings were ‘poorly attended’; the Ipswich and county contests were ‘the quietest within the memory of any elector’; in Northamptonshire, the campaigns were ‘devoid of interest’; in York, the election was ‘seldom referred to’; in Newcastle, most were ‘taking the contests quietly’; while in Birmingham’s 11 divisions there was only ‘moderately active interest’.15 Birminghamborn Austen Chamberlain, a member of the wartime cabinet, confided to his sister that ‘everywhere as far as I can learn there is a want of workers, absence of organisation and great apathy. Hardly any women come to the meetings.’ Chamberlain expressed his ‘hatred’ of the election partly on account of the apathy of the voters, but also because the ‘dividing line of parties’ was ‘obscure and uncertain’ and ‘the issues ill-defined’.16 The day before the election The Times summed up the campaign: The quietest General Election campaign of modern times comes to an end with polling to-morrow…though the list of meetings approaches the dimensions of past electioneering efforts, the temperature is a long way off fever heat…For the first time in living memory a General Election had been conducted with such sobriety that it has been possible in many constituencies for the candidates to meet on a common platform and expound their views to electors holding the most diverse opinions without the risk of the meeting dissolving in disorder.17

Clearly, there was a broad expanse of the electorate who were not fired up, were not angry and were not vengeful. In particular, there was relatively little mention of the Kaiser, of war criminals or reparations.18 The body of men that eventually sat round the Downing Street cabinet table could in no way be described as ‘die-hard’, as the more extreme exponents of Toryism were termed. Moreover, it was not the question of Germans but the number of Jews in ministerial positions that drew the most disparaging remarks.19 Churchill, whose sensitivity to the public mood was almost invariably keen, warned Lloyd George a few days after the election that there was ‘a point about Jews’, namely,



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‘you must not have too many of them’.20 Nor had the situation changed 18 months later when Geddes cautioned Austen Chamberlain about ‘the strong anti-Semitic feeling’ that was ‘very prominent at the present time’. He added that ‘far too many Jews’ had been elevated to ‘prominent positions’ by the government.21 Here, perhaps, is a clue to the xenophobic atmosphere that prevailed in certain areas. Hatred of foreigners had become entrenched in British society by the end of the Great War. By over-emphasising the particularity of the 1918 election, the special or unprecedented or never-to-berepeated post-war circumstances, it becomes easy to suggest that hatred of foreigners, especially those actually living in Britain, was an aberration in Britain. It was not. Throughout the war individual Germans living in Britain had undoubtedly suffered great hardship. During the election, calls to repatriate so-called ‘enemy aliens’ were strong and within a year of the war’s end the number of Germans living in Britain ‘had been forcibly reduced’, it is estimated, ‘by over 20,000 souls.’22 But Germans were not the only ‘aliens’ to suffer. David Cesarani points out that the war had ‘reached so deeply into the social entrails of the participant countries that no minority or marginal group escaped its influence’. In particular, the savage erosion of the status of Jews in Britain needs to be understood ‘largely in terms of anti-Germanism, anti-alienism and anti-Bolshevism.’23 Bearing this in mind, Lloyd George’s first election address begins to make more sense. In fact, when he turned to foreign affairs, continental turmoil was at the forefront. ‘At this moment’, he thundered: The air of Europe is quivering with revolution. Two-thirds of Europe have been swept by its devastating deluge, and the situation is full of perilous possibilities, and if this Parliament, the new Parliament through lack of courage on the part of those who are there to guide it, through the selfishness of interests (hear, hear) – or through the factions of politicians – if it fails, the institutions even of this country may follow those of many in the rest of Europe.24

Revolution, as noted in the previous chapter, was assumed by many to somehow involve ‘the Jews’. Prejudice against them was also to figure in one of the administration’s first big tests: the massacre of innocent civilians by a British general at Amritsar.



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The amritsar massacre The British Empire was territorially at its largest just after the war. But sustaining it was another matter. The war had increased the desire for independence among indigenous populations. Despite victory, Britain was no longer seen as invulnerable and the sacrifices made on behalf of the mother country had increased expectations of a tangible reward. The years 1919–22, with rebellions and tribulations in Ireland, Egypt and India, have with some justification been called a ‘crisis of empire’. For Churchill, ‘the whole accumulated greatness of Britain’ was being challenged.25 Declining troop numbers following public clamour for demobilisation meant that Britain’s ability to defend its possessions was severely impaired. The Great War marked a definitive change in political conditions in India. The years 1914–18 witnessed a sharp increase in hardship and a corresponding rise in dissatisfaction among the country’s population. War had placed crippling demands on the country’s revenues and resources. Failure of the 1918 monsoons resulted in famine sweeping the country. If this was not enough, an influenza epidemic took six million lives.26 The advent of war had also given an immense stimulus to revolutionary activity. The Gadhr (mutiny) movement declared itself an ‘Enemy of the British Government’; the ‘Silk Letter Conspiracy’ was an attempt to create a pan-Islamic ‘Army of God’ against British rule; the fiery theosophist Annie Besant ran a campaign for ‘Home Rule’; and a sharp rise in Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi’s popularity all tested British resilience.27 Something was in the air. There was heightened expectancy in India that the country’s loyalty would lead to a sympathetic recalibration of the imperial relationship. How would Britain respond? Edwin Montagu, the Jewish Secretary of State for India, saw himself as a radical reformer. He knew that something should be done about India, and that it should be something big. In the summer of 1917 he declared that the British government was forthwith committed to ‘the progressive realisation of responsible Government in India’, but it was to remain ‘an integral part of the British Empire’.28 The announcement was as broad in scope as it was vague in promises. For the first time, the path towards selfgovernment was officially defined, but its nebulous provisions simply did



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not match up to the aspirations generated by the new Indian national awareness. Together with Lord Chelmsford, Montagu introduced his package of reforms, the most significant of which was ‘dyarchy’ or dual government. Certain sectors, such as education and agriculture, were devolved to Indian ministers but the most significant areas, justice and finance, were left in British hands. Along with promises of freedom came an immediate crackdown on anything that sniffed of insurrection. It was conciliation and repression, with emphasis on the latter. Sir Sidney Rowlatt, who had a fondness for the witty and germane Latin quote, presided over a committee examining seditious activity. Unfortunately, the good-natured chairman was also a closet reactionary. Building on the 1915 Defence of India Act, a temporary emergency wartime measure giving authorities extra powers to deal with sedition, the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919 passed into law. Anyone suspected of terrorist activity could be locked up for a year without trial. The second part of the Rowlatt recommendations, which would have introduced even more draconian punishments, was quietly dropped, but not before it had been widely read and digested in the subcontinent. Seen as a poor reward for wartime sacrifice, its publication aroused impassioned indignation and resentment throughout India. Crisis was just around the corner. For the British government, the potential for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others overcoming their differences in common cause was alarming. Michael O’Dwyer’s Punjab administration, inflexible and narrow-minded as it was, seems to have been particularly concerned that the Rowlatt provisions would end the tacit British policy of divide et imperia.29 The Punjab in the north-west of India held 20 million people in 100,000 square miles. It was the centre of unrest, remaining relatively unaffected by Gandhi’s policy of Satyagraha, a synthesis of ‘love and firmness’ which manifested itself in non-violent protest. Disturbances covered over a tenth of the area and involved a third of the population. Amritsar was seen as one of the ‘guilty districts’.30 On 13 April 1919 a crowd gathered at Jallianwalla Bagh, an enclosed strip of waste ground about 200 yards long. It was a peaceful protest against the outlawing of public gatherings. Exit and egress were limited to three or four narrow openings, just wide enough for two abreast.



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Many were in the town for market day and the Baisakhi celebrations.31 Without warning, General Reginald Dyer ordered a detachment of 50 riflemen, a mixture of Gurkhas and Sikhs, to open fire on the unarmed crowd. As Churchill later described: Pinned up in a narrow place considerably smaller than Trafalgar Square, with hardly any exits, and packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies, the people ran madly this way and the other. When the fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed upon the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was directed on the ground. This was continued for 8 or 10 minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion.32

According to the official account, 379 were killed and over 1,200 wounded. In the aftermath, with martial law imposed, public floggings and collective punishments were accompanied by ritualistic humiliations. British authorities cut the power to Amritsar and ordered aerial bombing of surrounding villages, while soldiers pissed in local wells to pollute the drinking water. In a street where a British woman missionary had been assaulted, Dyer ordered that locals wishing to pass should crawl through the filth on all fours. Six people arrested on suspicion of the crime were flogged without trial. The general believed he was doing his duty. He believed his actions would do ‘a jolly lot of good’ and teach the whole of the Punjab ‘not to be wicked’.33 For Dyer, there was ‘no question of undue severity’.34 In Britain his actions caused a storm. This was not just any emotive issue; it was fundamental to the national psyche. Britons liked to see themselves as the bringers of civilisation, benefactors to lesser peoples. Dyer’s disproportionate response called these ideas into question. It was no longer possible to remain silent on the nature of empire, to cozily accept the age-old rhetoric of imperial benevolence. Indeed, the crisis called into question what it meant to be British. What were British values? What was the yardstick by which Britons should be judged? The definitive factor, one that kept cropping up, was whether traditional methods of British rule had been usurped by ‘Prussianism’. In the debate that followed, the part played by German atrocities in the British imagination underpinned its tenor and outcome.

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A Scottish solicitor, William Hunter, was appointed to head up an investigatory committee into Punjab unrest. The committee itself, made up of five British and four Indian delegates, split along racial lines. The resulting Majority Report found against Dyer on two main counts: he had a mistaken concept of duty and had used ‘excessive’ force.35 The Minority Report went further. The General’s actions were described as ‘acts of “frightfulness”’ and equalled those committed by German forces ‘in Belgium and France’. Pleading ‘military necessity’, the report continued, was deemed not good enough because it was the same plea persistently used to justify ‘Prussian atrocities.’ Although the massacre was condemned as ‘un-British’, German wartime atrocities quickly became a clear and widely understood frame of reference.36 Amritsar was finally debated in the Commons on 8 July 1920. Montagu led for the government. He presented the House with a stark choice. Would Britain rule in ‘partnership’ with India in a British Commonwealth, or would it retain India ‘by terrorism, racial humiliation and subordination, and frightfulness’?37 Would ‘British’ liberal values or ‘German’-style barbarity win the day? The House was in uproar. Irish Unionist Edward Carson, famous for bringing down Oscar Wilde, used his courtroom expertise to build a case for Dyer. ‘To break a man under these circumstances’, he roared, was ‘un-English’.38 After all, had not Dyer prevented another ‘mutiny’?39 Winston Churchill, now Secretary of State for War, did his best to calm the febrile mood. With his usual verbal panache, he told MPs that even when ‘confronted with a howling mob,’ or a city or province ‘quivering all around with excitement’, it was beholden on military commanders to use only enough force ‘to secure compliance with the law’. Commanders should guard against the use of ‘frightfulness’.40 Leaving no room for doubt as to his meaning, Churchill defined ‘frightfulness’ as ‘the inflicting of great slaughter or massacre upon a particular crowd of people, with the intention of terrorising not merely the rest of the crowd, but the whole district or the whole country’. This, he stated, was not ‘the British way of doing business’.41 He was only partially right. Britain’s colonial past was littered with injustices to indigenous peoples. But Churchill’s attempt to distance British rule from ‘frightfulness’ tapped into the gradual intensification in the strength of public protests since Gladstone’s time



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against obvious violations of humanitarian principles. Specifically, this debate reflected a tension between revulsion against German wartime atrocities and the unnerving fact that a British officer was guilty of the same crimes. The Manchester Guardian believed ‘Prussianism’ to be ‘a political issue of the first magnitude’ because it created a dangerous precedent. The class that supported Dyer would not ‘stop at India’. It foresaw that Ireland would be next, and after that, striking workers in Britain. It continued that on the principle of ‘undiluted violence’, the ‘Prussians at Visé, at Louvain, at Aerschot and a score of other places took the same view.’42 The Labour party was of the same mind. At its Scarborough conference in June it passed a resolution that condemned events at Amritsar as ‘cruel and barbarous’. Delegates stood in solidarity with ‘India’s martyred dead’.43 A significant section of the liberal left sympathised with the victims because they believed they could be next. Framing their arguments in the familiar context of German atrocities added punch. On the other side of the debate were those, like Carson, who supported Dyer. Conservative MP and naval commander, Carlyon Bellairs, claimed recourse to extreme violence was sometimes acceptable. He believed that ‘in every great achievement, as in Dyer’s case, there is dust and dirt’ and ‘when a handful of whites are faced by hundreds of thousands of fanatical natives, one cannot apply one’s John Stuart Mill.’44 The racial ‘superiority’ of Britons that had infused British attitudes towards empire from its outset was brought to bear.45 Yet, ethnic arrogance was not only directed towards Indians who had died at Dyer’s hands, it was also directed at Jews. In fact, the debate itself revealed the existence of splenetic anti-Semitism. During the parliamentary exchanges, anti-Semitism had poisoned the air of the Commons chamber. Montagu was the favoured target. T.J. Bennett, who was present, likened the atmosphere to the ‘racial prejudice’ that had pervaded the ‘anti-Dreyfuss controversy’ in France a few years earlier.46 Sir William Sutherland, Lloyd George’s press liaison officer, reported to the prime minister that ‘normally placid’ backbench Tories displayed a ‘strong anti-Jewish sentiment.’ He criticised Montagu for becoming ‘more racial and more Yiddish in screaming tone and gesture’.47 Austen Chamberlain, felt ‘sorry’ for Montagu, but nonetheless claimed:



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Our party has always disliked and distrusted him. On this occasion all their English and racial feeling was stirred to passionate display – I think I have never seen the House so fiercely angry – and he threw fuel on the flames. A Jew, a foreigner, rounding on an Englishman and throwing him to the wolves – that was the feeling, and the event illustrates once again what I said of Dizzy [Disraeli]. A Jew may be a loyal Englishman and passionately patriotic, but he is intellectually apart from us and will never be purely and simply English.48

The Times echoed these sentiments, finding Montagu guilty of two forms of ‘bad advocacy’. First, his speech was, ‘too passionate, and the malcontents were irritated by its sharp logical dilemmas’ and, second, it claimed that: the English mind does not work in that way. We are the most daring political generalisers in the world, but it is our want in politics, as in science, to proceed inductively from the particular to the general, not from the general to the particular…East and West, be they produced ever so far, will never meet, and Mr Montagu, patriotic and sincere English Liberal as he is, is also a Jew, and in excitement has the mental idiom of the East.49

The reactionary Morning Post, read by a surprisingly large number of politicians, had already been running a campaign to discredit Montagu. In their editorial response to the parliamentary debate on 10 July they described Montagu’s speech as ‘disastrous’, claiming he was ‘solely inspired…with the fanatic motive of proving that an alien race is as good as the English’. On the same page, under the headline ‘World Unrest’, the paper advertised the forthcoming publication of a ‘series of articles’ that would reveal ‘the existence of a revolutionary movement in which Jews and secret societies’ played a fundamental role.50 The first instalment of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion appeared two days later. It was tagged with the comment that ‘only last week the House of Commons witnessed a startling exhibition of that racial dementia which would pit East against West in desperate opposition. That is the spirit that must be exorcised if we are again to have peace in the world.’51 The Dyer debate marked an identifiable shift in what might be seen as a triangular relationship between Britons, Jews and Germans. Condemnation of German atrocities had been virtually unanimous during the war, but as opinion divided over Dyer’s actions, denunciation



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of German atrocities became a contested issue. The liberal left was happy to invoke the demon in order to exorcise it. Hoping for a moderate Germany, they attacked the ‘harshness’ of the Versailles settlement and blamed wartime brutality solely on the ‘Prussians’, of which Dyer was a British version. However, a significant minority remained convinced Dyer’s actions were necessary; his cause, they contested, was the cause of England. Support for Dyer also required a reassessment of German wartime atrocities. German excuses that draconian measures had been essential when faced with unruly subjects started to gain traction on the right. But as attitudes towards Germany softened, Jews, embodied this time in the figure of Montagu, became the primary target for vilification. The Dyer fund, set up by the Morning Post, raised the massive sum of over £26,000. Contributing to it were individuals with such monikers as ‘antiJew’, a ‘believer in the Jewish peril’, ‘Anti-Alien’ and ‘a hater of Montagu’.52 The inter-governmental Spa Conference, which coincided with the Dyer debate, tackled the issue of war crimes, but interest in them had waned and the conference barely registered in the press. Events in Ireland were to provide opportunities to achieve an even greater understanding of the German position on atrocities.

Black and tans Hamar Greenwood was the last Chief Secretary to Ireland. Canadian by birth, he advanced up the political ladder by appending himself first to Winston Churchill as Private Secretary and then to Lloyd George as his Ireland enforcer. For him, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was guilty of terrorising the Irish. He believed that force should be met with force. Recent events in India, however, had cast a long shadow. Arthur Balfour warned Greenwood that ‘the Dyer debate’ had ‘not helped us govern [in Ireland] by soldiers.’53 This did not stop him from trying. Ireland had been a running sore for the British. Put simply, the British wanted Ireland as part of the empire and the Irish mostly wanted to rule themselves. Between 1886 and 1912, three attempts to grant the Irish Home Rule had come to nothing. The Great War had, if anything, radicalised the problem. When the Irish Republican Brotherhood,



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following the Easter Rising, proclaimed independence on 24 April 1916, the British responded ruthlessly by executing the ringleaders. The fight against conscription proved to be the next battleground. Republicans gathered armaments to resist with force and Irish nationalist opinion became alienated as clashes with the police became more frequent. In the 1918 election Sinn Fein, the Republican party, won by a landslide in Ireland but their 73 MPs refused to enter parliament. Instead, they set up one of their own, the Dáil Éireann. By this time it was clear, as D.G. Boyce points out, that although Englishmen ‘ruled many diverse races many thousands of miles away’ what they could not do was ‘rule a nation of less than five million people a few miles from their own shores.’54 Greenwood’s appointment along with General Sir Nevil Macready as Commander-in-Chief of the British army in March 1920, signalled that things were about to change, but not for the better. Macready, or ‘MakeReady’ as he was known, had liberal sensibilities but loathed Ireland and the Irish ‘with a depth deeper than the sea and more violent than that’ which he felt ‘against the Boche’.55 The IRA was badly equipped. According to Tom Barry, a leading figure in the nascent organisation, it ‘had no experience of war’. But, what they lacked in military training they made up for by showing ‘a great desire to become efficient volunteers’.56 More importantly, they had the support of the public. With all-out frontal attacks beyond their means, volunteers would emerge from civilian crowds, strike a blow at the enemy and then melt back into the community. The violence inflicted on the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) had a devastating effect on morale. The RIC, no counter-insurgency outfit, reacted to guerilla tactics by taking revenge on suspects and their supporters. Undermanned and suffering a crisis of confidence, the RIC was bolstered by a new breed of British volunteers, who, for want of coordinated uniforms, became known as the Black and Tans. One recruit, Douglass Duff, recalled his journey from Holyhead to Dublin on a grey February morning: On the quay lay four coffins, covered with Union Jacks. We looked dubiously at them as a sergeant strolled up, his rifle across his arm. ‘Come on now, my lads, what’s holding your eyes? Oh, it’s the coffins, is it? That fellow there,’ indicating one of the grim boxes, ‘only joined the Force three weeks ago, just as healthy and fine-looking as one of you.



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He was killed in Mayo and the other three in Tipperary. God rest their souls, and it’s maybe some of you that I’ll be bringing down here one of these fine mornings. Never mind, your mothers get well paid for your hides and they’ll be surely glad to be shot of you.’ 57

With a nervous undertrained force facing an ideologically committed and well-supported insurgency, it is hardly surprising that violence spiralled out of control. The situation was exacerbated by the introduction of the Auxiliaries Division, ‘mobile, offensive units of raiders’ who ‘behaved with even greater licence than the Black and Tans.’58 However, defective intelligence, the element of surprise, no readily identifiable enemy and slippery assailants gave the conflict a one-sided appearance. It was a dirty war, characterised by shooting, ambushes, midnight raids, kidnappings, hostage taking, torture, curfews and arson.59 The use of terroristic methods by one side was matched and exceeded by the other. Yet, it was not so much the level of violence that upset public opinion in Britain as the thought that representatives of British law were sullying themselves with extra-judicial tactics. Matters reached a head in September 1920, when head constable Burke of the RIC was murdered along with his brother at Balbriggan, a small seaside town about 20 miles north of Dublin. On hearing the news, Crown forces converged on the town, killing two men and laying waste to a significant number of buildings. Reporters rushed to the scene and filed graphic reports of what was effectively state-sanctioned terror. This marked a turning point in the nature of British coverage.60 Always somewhat uncomfortable about the troubles, the British press, with one or two exceptions, finally united to condemn government policy. Once again German atrocities were used as a familiar frame of reference. C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, had severed ties with Lloyd George over his Irish policy. In late September 1920, Scott published an editorial on Balbriggan entitled ‘An Irish Louvain’, which castigated the government for hypocrisy: ‘While we have all been leading the world in talk about security for Armenians and freedom for little Belgium we have ourselves drifted into a position where our criminal failure to govern a conquered white people stinks in the nostrils of the world.’61 Within the week shocking photographs of the destruction were published. Devastated buildings were likened to ‘Bapaume after the Germans had fired it’. ‘What use’, another leading article asked:



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is it to tell us, as Sir Hamar Greenwood does, in extenuation of this savagery, that somebody else of the same nationality as these poor burnt-out people murdered a policeman or a hundred policemen? That is exactly what the German commanders in Belgium said when they put a dozen innocent people against a wall and shot them because somebody else not in uniform had sniped a German soldier.62

The Times criticised Crown forces for not ‘acting in accordance with the standards of civilised government’.63 The paper branded reprisals ‘A National Disgrace’ and, significantly, drew readers’ attention to a letter from Annan Bryce, the brother of James, protesting against the ‘lawless employment of force’.64 The same day, the Daily Mail, a paper that few would accuse of being anti-British or pro-Irish – although it was progressively more anti-government – detailed nine days of reprisals.65 With feelings running high, Balbriggan came up in parliament. Asquith, doubtless aware he was speaking for critics of government policy on the right and left, labelled the action at Balbriggan as ‘an act of “frightfulness”’.66 Arthur Henderson, Labour’s chief whip and the decent, solid and respectable face of the party, proposed a vote of censure and called for an independent investigation. When it was brushed aside by the massed ranks of loyal coalitionists, the Labour party decided to set up their own Commission of Enquiry. The subsequent report was backed up by mass meetings nationwide and had a considerable impact. Arthur Greenwood, future leading light of the Labour movement, vilified reprisals at a meeting in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. ‘Manchester under German rule’, he told his audience, ‘would be like Cork or Dublin under British rule today’.67 The allusion could not have been clearer. As Armistice Day 1920 approached, the subject of Ireland threatened to pollute the memory of the war. For Charles Masterman, the Irish policy represented ‘the denial by the most powerful of the victors of the worldstruggle against Imperial domination, of the very principle for which five million [had] died.’68 Echoing his sentiments was the radical and combative backbencher, Lieutenant-Commander Kenworthy. He warned that if the reprisals were not condemned, the ‘Prussian spirit will have entered into us. The Prussian spirit will at last be triumphant, and the 800,000, the flower of our race, who lie buried in a score of battle-fronts will really have died in vain.’69 This Armistice Day was especially poignant. The new



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stone Cenotaph in Whitehall was to be unveiled and the remains of the Unknown Warrior were to be interred in Westminster Abbey.70 With grief still raw (shrieks penetrated the 11 o’clock silence), an apposite editorial in the Manchester Guardian averred indignantly that only chance ‘caused this special unknown soldier to be buried in Westminster Abbey on Armistice Day instead of being killed that day as a Sinn Feiner by old comrades now become “Black and Tans”’.71 The meaning of the Irish conflict was manifold. The apparent futility of excomrades in arms now at each other’s throats could easily be seen as an insult to the fallen. But worse than that, the troubles in Ireland seemed to signify the final victory of Prussianism, a denial of all that Britain had fought for. Even if not everyone believed these things, continuing violence made those of all political hues suspicious that such arguments held some truth. But reprisals kept on coming. On ‘Bloody Sunday’ in late November 1920, a group of British intelligence agents was targeted and murdered in synchronised early morning attacks. By way of revenge, a police convoy drove to Croke Park in the heart of Dublin where a Gaelic football match between Tipperary and Dublin was underway. Forcing their way through turnstiles, the security forces opened fire on the crowd for a minute and a half. Fourteen were murdered. Three days later Asquith instigated a full-scale parliamentary debate. Echoing Henry CampbellBannerman’s famous speech attacking British military practices in the second Anglo–South African War, he condemned ‘methods of terrorism and reprisals’ on the grounds they were ‘contrary to civilised usage’. In doing so, Asquith deliberately tapped into that traditional strand of humanitarianism concerned with the defence of small nations and oppressed and vulnerable peoples.72 Nonconformists had played a major part in this tradition. By the early 1920s organised Nonconformism, although less potent than in the late nineteenth century, was not a spent force. In the case of Ireland, though, Nonconformists were caught between the desire to identify with Lloyd George, their comrade of many causes, and matters of conscience.73 As a result, they responded to government-sponsored violence in a flabby and equivocal way. The established Church was increasingly uncomfortable with lawless lawmen operating under official protection. Disapproval of



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reprisals was not entirely unanimous, but Church leaders took a leading role in protests. On 18 November 1920, 17 bishops wrote to The Times demanding an end to ‘military terrorism’.74 Francis Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, tried to lead Catholics down a middle path but faced concerted opposition. When Daniel Mannix, the outspoken Republican supporter and Archbishop of Melbourne, was banned from visiting Ireland, 300 priests objected.75 Mannix had to content himself with speaking to a crowd of 4,000 in Bolton. He raged that ‘the world had never seen worse frightfulness than was to be seen in Ireland to-day.’76 As pressure on the government continued to grow, the ‘German’ angle was fully exploited.77 The Peace with Ireland Council represented a broad cross-section of British opinion. Advocate of Irish dominion status, George Fitz-Hardinge Berkeley, and historian Basil Williams started it. Williams, having been influenced by Erskine Childers, author of the popular spy novel Riddle of the Sands and later a gun-runner for the Irish Republicans, dedicated himself to finding a solution to the Home Rule question. By mid-1920, Williams and Berkeley had attracted the interest and involvement of the well-known wartime journalist and author Philip Gibbs, along with Charles Gore and L.T. Hobhouse. It was testament to its widespread appeal that such politically diverse figures as the left-winger, J.R. Clynes, the ambitious Liberal, Sir John Simon, and Conservative MP, Sir Henry Cavendish-Bentinck could agree on its precepts. When Simon and Cavendish-Bentinck shared the same platform at a public meeting in the Free Trade Hall on 22 November 1920, the latter declared that ‘if the present policy in Ireland is right, then the British Empire is not founded on liberty and justice, but terrorism. This is a contest between English principles and Prussian principles.’78 This was perhaps the main criticism of the reprisals policy, that it was ‘un-English’. If cherished conceptions of British imperialism were under threat, then the support of the massive government majority could no longer be taken for granted. The political ground was shifting under the coalition’s feet. The proximity of Ireland, its ease of access for British journalists, the speed at which official injustice was turned into news, the immediacy of spiralling violence, not to mention often successful Republican attempts to advertise their cause, meant ordinary Britons were confronted with the



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reality of colonial policy in extremis. It was a question of perception and reality. Britons were used to being told that empire was a ‘good thing’ and that its subjects should be, and mostly were, grateful for the bestowal of British blessings.79 The grubby reality was that, faced with revolt, British forces could – with approval at the highest level – resort to a form of despotism entirely at odds with the altruism allegedly at the centre of the imperial project. By the early 1920s, however, such practices were politically unsustainable. Draconian measures could be indulged for a while, but public anger stalked the government of the day. Partly it did so because German ‘frightfulness’ had been defeated. A bereaved nation could not justify its sacrifice if it was seen to condone the same philosophy. This is one of the reasons why the government had to come to an accommodation with Irish Republicans. A truce was called on 11 July 1921 and Ireland separated into north and south.

Chanak Like the Amritsar debate, the Irish crisis had another outcome. Reintegrating Germany into the post-war European community was seen as of paramount importance, but a large slice of guilt at and justification of the actions of British forces also contributed to a further re-evaluation of German wartime atrocities. Perhaps, after all, the German military had been misjudged. When faced with an elusive and ‘unfair’ enemy, they had responded as the British had in Ireland. Maybe they were not so bad after all. As the New Statesman commented about a month after Balbriggan, wartime British leaders knew ‘very well’ that Germans ‘would undoubtedly be shot from windows and from behind walls by Belgians in civilian clothes’, adding, ‘this indeed, according to the Germans, was what happened at Louvain. It is the sort of thing that happens in every invaded country.’80 That same year, Oxford academic, former MP and wartime staff officer, E.N. Bennett, translated the German official enquiry into Allied atrocity claims as ‘an ironic comment on British action in Ireland’. Known in Britain as the White Book and originally published in Germany as a challenge to the Bryce Report, it was in reality, as Horne and Kramer

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point out, ‘a product of [German] Foreign Ministry manipulation’.81 Nonetheless, Bennett concluded among other things that ‘German troops were fully justified in taking reprisals on the persons or property of those Belgian civilians who actually attacked them.’82 Moreover, as news of reprisals in Ireland spread throughout the world, the British wartime position on German atrocities came under increasing pressure from abroad. Bennett detected a change of mood in Britain because, he argued, ‘war-fever’ had abated and ‘prejudice’ was ‘slowly being replaced by reasoned judgment’.83 This type of thinking took root. British colonial violence showed up the falsity of wartime ‘atrocity propaganda’, which in turn revealed the apparent perniciousness of Versailles and the allegedly unfair treatment of Germans, who were now seen to have done only what the British had in similar circumstances.84 The process by which Versailles was blamed for the rise of Nazism was given a huge boost by the copious statefunded publications pouring out of Germany itself. Its impact was reinforced either by a lack of a coherent British response or by outright agreement with the German case. However, Britain was also confronted by yet another foreign crisis, this time in the Near East. The height of the crisis in Britain was autumn 1922, but it had been brewing for some time and it was intrinsically linked to the fate of the Armenians. Hostilities with Turkey had ceased on 30 October 1918 with the signing of the Mudros Armistice. To the chagrin of British MPs, the armistice did not provide for the withdrawal of Turkish forces from key areas, or for a supervised demobilisation in Turkish Armenia.85 This was to have disastrous consequences for Armenians, who were left further vulnerable by the withdrawal of Western troops. In an attempt to plug the gap, the Allies authorised the landing of Greek troops at Smyrna in May 1919, to impose autonomy in the city and its hinterland. There was broad agreement that the Greeks would act as a civilising force. Lloyd George saw them as ‘a rising people’, ‘friends’ of the West, and newspapers agreed that they best represented democracy and British values.86 That Greek troops marred their arrival by committing atrocities against Turks, who retaliated, was known by the British government but not reported in the press.87



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The Greek landing prompted Turks to turn to Mustapha Kemal’s new nationalist movement. Support for Kemal (later known as Atatürk) was further reinforced by the vacuum left by the Allies, the length of time that had elapsed between the armistice and the imposition of a peace treaty, and in-fighting among the Allies.88 By March 1920, with tension high between Turks and Greeks and with both caught in a vicious circle of rising violence, it became clear to Britons that the Armenians were again under threat. James Bryce warned that the Turks were ‘starting fresh massacres’, and at a crowded meeting in London he detailed what the Manchester Guardian reported as ‘Turkey’s attempts at Extermination’.89 In response, Lloyd George told the Commons that ‘very strong action’ was needed ‘to protect the minorities’.90 Constantinople was formally occupied on 11 March and General Sir Charles Harington took command of 8,000 British troops at Chanak near the Dardanelles, part of a designated Allied ‘neutral zone’.91 At San Remo in April 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres created an Armenian state. This was acclaimed in the press.92 The Daily Mail was unequivocal, and stated with Gladstonian fervour that Turkish ‘expulation [sic] from Europe’ was ‘a well-merited punishment’ for hundreds of years of intolerance and atrocities.93 Turkish retention of Constantinople and some of Thrace was ‘dependent’ on their treatment of the remaining Armenians.94 Most Britons believed the wartime massacre of Armenians justified the terms of Sèvres, although the Manchester Guardian pointed out that the treaty would be a ‘sham’ unless it was backed by force.95 Yet, no Western power was willing to enforce the treaty. This left the Armenians exposed to the now dominant Turkish nationalists and to Soviet expansionism.96 Pro-Armenians in Britain questioned the government’s commitment to prevent ‘further butchery’, but Lloyd George, although sympathetic, declared that providing more troops was a ‘physical impossibility’.97 In fact, British military authorities had started to accept Armenia’s probable demise in February 1920. A memorandum from the General Staff outlined the difficulties of maintaining Armenian Erzerum, stating that the area was ‘being peopled almost entirely by Turks and Kurds. This is of course due to the Armenian massacres and is regrettable; but it is nonetheless a practical factor which cannot be ignored.’98 Predictably, by the end of the year Armenia itself was



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swamped by a combination of Turkish and Soviet occupiers.99 Despite a failed attempt in February 1921 to find a compromise, the Greeks, quietly encouraged by Lloyd George, decided to push for a complete victory over the Turks and advanced into Anatolia.100 The British press, of all political hues, broadly supported the prime minister.101 The Manchester Guardian sent Arnold Toynbee, one of the principal wartime pro-Armenian and anti-Turk protagonists, to cover the Greco– Turkish War, but the sense of indignation that had driven him to compile the Blue Book had dissipated. He believed that hypocrisy had undermined Western claims to hold the moral high ground. ‘What the Germans have done in Belgium and the English in Ireland’, he wrote, ‘rather chokes one when one’s tempted to take a high line’.102 Moreover, having witnessed Greek atrocities, he regularly sent dispatches defending Turkish actions and emphasising Christian brutality.103 By mid-1921 he was a fully converted Turkish advocate.104 Toynbee, using family connections (he was married to Rosalind, daughter of the Greek scholar Gilbert Murray), circulated his accounts to influential government figures. These were all the more effective because of his prior support for Greece and Armenia.105 Samuel Hoare, one of the recipients, wrote to Toynbee’s mother-in-law, Lady Mary Murray, stating that although he had already had news of the massacres, it was because of Toynbee’s previous sympathy for Greece that he was now taking them seriously.106 According to Charles Roberts of the National Liberal Club, opinion was moving heavily in Toynbee’s direction, despite evidence that Turkish crimes were ‘more considerable and ferocious’ than those committed by Greeks.107 By September 1921, Greek forces were in retreat and Armenian supporters again berated the government for failing to honour wartime promises.108 After another aborted Allied attempt at conciliation in March 1922, and prompted by Rumbold’s warning that the Turks were planning ‘to get rid of minorities’, Lloyd George had a dossier compiled containing ‘documentary evidence’ of the massacres and ill-treatment of Armenian and Greek Christians by Turkish forces between 1919 and 1922.109 In May, leader of the Commons Austen Chamberlain confirmed that Kemalists had slaughtered ‘10,000 Greeks’ and abducted women and children who were either starved to death or transferred to ‘Turkish harems’. Others were marched until they died.110 The Archbishop of



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Canterbury spoke out on behalf of Near East Christians, while The Times wrote of the ‘Turk’s Insane Savagery’ and claimed that the latest reports bore ‘painful resemblance’ to wartime Armenian massacres.111 Nonetheless, Turkish support in Britain was growing. In parliament, pro-Turks invoked the spectre of Ireland to emphasise government hypocrisy.112 Joined by a vocal section of the press, they increasingly saw Lloyd George’s support for Greek and Armenian Christians as just another political ploy. As the prime minister’s popularity waned, on account of a ‘cash for honours’ scandal and amid accusations that Lloyd George was an autocrat, the government’s ability to influence opinion diminished.113 Publication of Toynbee’s The Western Question in Greece and Turkey in August 1922 further undermined support for Greeks and Armenians, who were increasingly conflated as ‘Christians’. For Toynbee, when ‘judging Greek and Turkish atrocities, Westerners have no right to be self-righteous. They can only commit one greater error of judgment, and that is to suppose that the Turks are more unrighteous than the Greeks.’114 At the height of the crisis he went further, suggesting that although the Turks had a worse reputation than the Greeks and Armenians, now the ‘actors’ had ‘exchanged parts’.115 As The Times commented, the book ‘played no small part in shaping public opinion in this country regarding the rights and wrongs’ of near eastern complexities.116 Kemal launched a major attack against Greek forces on 26 August and within a month his army reached Smyrna and the edge of the neutral zone. Armed engagement with British forces looked likely and the crisis became headline news in Britain. The prime minister favoured a show of force to secure the freedom of the Straits and to protect Christians. As the prospect of war grew closer, the press started to adopt an anti-war stance. But newspapers were not neutral. Rather, they were sympathetic to Turkish nationalists. As Greeks and Armenians were censured, Kemal’s forces were increasingly portrayed as disciplined and civilised in a brutalised environment.117 The Times was more or less a lone voice among the daily nationals when it claimed there was little difference between the ‘Kemalist Turk’ and ‘the Turk of the Armenian massacres’. The paper called for ‘practical steps’ to secure the ‘immediate safety’ of minorities.118 After taking control of Smyrna, Kemal’s army, according to Niall Ferguson, ‘sealed off the Armenian quarter and began systematically



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butchering its 25,000 inhabitants. Then they set fire to it, to incinerate any survivors.’119 This caused temporary, but not insurmountable difficulties to Lloyd George’s opponents. British reporters, especially the Mail’s George Ward Price, deliberately misrepresented the facts, blaming Armenian terrorists in order to maintain growing British support for Kemal.120 A letter from the father of a British officer to the prime minister claimed that British forces stationed in Smyrna were ‘bitter’ with Ward Price because they all knew the truth. Nevertheless, his articles helped to secure public perceptions of Near East atrocities. Even left-liberal publications such as the New Statesman were too ready to accept that Smyrna was ‘not fired by the Turks but by the Greeks’. In any case, it continued, all parties were equally bad, therefore the ‘atrocity cry’ was ‘the most irrelevant of political arguments.’121 The British Cabinet split over what to do. Lloyd George and Churchill favoured dispatching immediate reinforcements, but were opposed by Foreign Secretary George Curzon and by Austen Chamberlain. Despite warnings from officials in late September that Britain would ‘not stand for a fresh war’, the prime minister believed the public would be willing to support the use of force in order to protect the Straits.122 Churchill was given control of an inner war cabinet. He believed Liberals would be affected by the atrocities while Conservatives would be driven by patriotic fervour.123 Meanwhile Curzon went to Paris and reached an agreement with the French that if Kemal refrained from attacking the Allied zone, a conference would accede to his territorial demands.124 On 20 September, French and Italian troops were ordered out of the area by their respective governments. Britain was left to defend the Allied zone alone. The press’s anti-war tirade grew even more shrill.125 The Mail in particular castigated Lloyd George for thinking he could save himself by going to war and ‘rouse the nation’ as Gladstone had done during the Bulgarian crisis of the 1870s.126 The Morning Post confidently asserted that nobody wished to fight the Turks, ‘not even the non-conformist conscience.’127 As if to prove them right, the TUC sent a delegation, which included the Nonconformist women’s representative, Margaret Bondfield, and the Trade Union leader, Ben Tillet, to protest against the threat of war. In an alternative reason for the recent global conflagration, one that had gained in popularity after the war, they believed that Britons



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had died in the Great War to prevent another. Any further military action, therefore, would be an insult to the dead.128 Church leaders agreed.129 Experts on Eastern affairs believed conflict in the Near East would damage Britain’s reputation and cause colonial discontent.130 Authors A.A. Milne and E.M. Forster wrote to the liberal Daily News claiming that Lloyd George was ignoring problems closer to home and subverting patriotism, a ‘noble’ sentiment, for his own political ends.131 The anti-war movement continued to grow in line with sympathetic representations of Turkish nationalists. In Britain, after years of portraying Turks in a derogatory way, they were now reinvented. Kemal himself was bestowed with quintessentially English characteristics. He had ‘piercing blue eyes, fair hair and diminutive close-cropped moustache’, wore ‘plain clothes’ in an ‘English style’, had ‘simple tastes’ and possessed ‘a first-hand acquaintance with British military policy and with the characteristics of the British soldier’.132 Kemal’s army was no longer comprised of ‘demoralised’ Ottomans. ‘[U]nder the stress of patriotic resolve directed by sound discipline’, it was now portrayed as a civilising force, like the British themselves.133 For Mail correspondent Arthur Weigall, ‘the Turk’ had warranted ‘the name of the Englishman of the Near East’. ‘Let us be frank with ourselves’, he continued, ‘We cannot help admiring him; and, that being so, we should trust our instinct and say openly what we are all saying in secret, “Well done!”’134 Lloyd George summoned press representatives to tell them that the Turkish army could not be restrained from committing atrocities in the past, and now ‘hundreds of thousands of Armenians and Greeks’ would be susceptible to ‘a repetition of those terrible incidents’.135 It had little effect. General John Seely noted as he passed through London, ‘I saw placarded in every street the legend “Stop the New War.”’136 On 25 September, as an additional 1,000 British troops arrived at Chanak and Kemal’s forces provocatively encroached into the Allied zone, tension mounted.137 Harington’s reports to the cabinet reflected his growing anxiety.138 Deciding that unless they acted, British forces would be ‘seriously endangered’, the cabinet told the general to inform Kemal that he unless he withdrew, they would ‘open fire.’139 In contradistinction to the flustered tone of his telegraphs, Harington delayed implementing



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the order and Kemal agreed to meet Allied representatives at Mudania. An agreement was reached on 11 October.140 The Greeks were to return to Greece, Turkish forces were to withdraw 15 kilometres from the coast and the Allies were to hold their position pending a formal peace treaty. Although a minority believed that Lloyd George had acted properly by standing up to the Turks to protect ‘Christians’, many more believed he had been reckless.141 Leading Conservative, Andrew Bonar Law, who due to ill health had been absent from government deliberations, wrote to The Times stating, ‘we cannot alone act as policeman of the world.’ Instead, he advocated withdrawing from global affairs. For Churchill, Bonar Law was expressing ‘a very general view’.142 Lloyd George’s political allies were deserting him. On 10 October 1922, the cabinet decided to call a general election. It was to be fought as a coalition. Lloyd George made an ‘Appeal to the Nation’ defending his Near East policy.143 He maintained that preventing the Turkish expansion into Europe and stopping further atrocities was ‘in accordance with the highest interests and traditions of this land’. He contended that it was because the Turks knew his threat carried weight that ‘you have peace now.’ He was proud that the might of the British Empire had protected civilians ‘from indescribable horror’.144 But his words fell flat. Britons were not interested in his vision. For the New Statesman, Lloyd George failed to grasp ‘the English point of view’.145 On 19 October Conservative backbenchers met at the Carlton Club. Stanley Baldwin, President of the Board of Trade, called the premier ‘a dynamic force’, and with the country now clearly in an introspective mood he felt able to add that this was ‘a very terrible thing’. The Conservatives resolved to fight the election as a separate party.146 That afternoon Lloyd George resigned and Bonar Law was installed as prime minister. Randall Davidson, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to him reminding him of Britain’s ‘solemn pledges’ to the Armenians and the shame of abandoning ‘Christians’ to ‘the unrestricted sword of a merciless foe.’ The new prime minister, however, was of the opinion that the Christian population had either already been massacred, become ‘Islamised’, or were ‘not likely to survive very long’ anyway.147 On 15 November 1922 there was a general election. Bonar Law’s Conservatives won with a clear majority.



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When it came to negotiating with the Turks at the Lausanne Conference, the Turkish case was persistently made in Britain. The Times believed Britain was obliged ‘to make concessions in regard to minorities’ or be prepared ‘to fight’ the Turks when they knew Britain was ‘not ready’.148 J. Ellis Barker, writing in the Fortnightly Review, highlighted the similarities between England and Turkey. He thought the best way to ‘visualise’ Constantinople was by ‘imagining the Thames to be the Bosphorus’ and the natural objections that ‘Englishmen’ would have to ‘foreign warships passing along the docks, the city and the Embankment, being able to destroy at any moment the business sections, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Royal graves and Buckingham Palace.’149 After months of tough negotiation at Lausanne, which nearly collapsed over the issue of minority protection, the conference ended without a signed agreement. Bonar Law intervened and the Treaty of Lausanne, which gave the Turks a significant diplomatic victory, was signed. It was Churchill who lamented in 1929 that in the Treaty, ‘which registered the final peace between Turkey and the Great Powers, history will search in vain for the word Armenia’.150

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Helped along the way by the very public debates on Turkey, now a rehabilitated former enemy, as well as by British atrocities in India and Ireland, there was a steady and unmistakable drift towards the German interpretation of the Great War. During the war, Philip Gibbs had been one of only five official correspondents accredited to the British Expeditionary Force. Freed from the strictures of censorship, he published two popular books in 1920, Realities of War and Now It Can Be Told. Whereas the former attacked the British army high command and eulogised ordinary soldiers ‘on all fronts’, the latter contrasted the ordinary fighting man, whom he saw as an honourable and principled soul, with a bellicose home front allegedly baying for German blood and ‘inspired largely by feminine hysteria and official propaganda’.151 Significantly, Gibbs consigned wartime atrocities to the status of myth.



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Gibbs’s books were designed for a mass readership. During the 1920s so-called ‘middlebrow literature’, a derogatory term coined by Virginia Woolf, became hugely popular, largely because it depicted what was comfortable, predictable and familiar.152 According to Rosa Maria Bracco, in the immediate aftermath of the war these books debunked ‘the myth of German evil’ and year-on-year became more concerned with presenting the ‘truth’ about Britain’s former enemy. A decade after the armistice, most novels about the Great War portrayed English and German soldiers sharing in the same terrible predicament.153 This process of readjustment was consummated with the runaway success of R.C. Sherriff ’s play, Journey’s End. First performed on a single Sunday evening in December 1928, it eventually ran for two years at London’s Savoy Theatre. It depicted life in an officers’ trench in St Quentin in the days before a German assault and when Raleigh, a fictional young officer, stated, ‘the Germans are really quite decent, aren’t they?’ audiences applauded.154 Most critics thought they were witnessing an exposé of the Great War.155 It was not only British books about the war that showed up wartime anti-Germanism as a relatively shallow and transient phenomenon. Translations of German books, such as war memoirs, histories and fiction were readily available and sold well in Britain. Weimar culture itself was a source of fascination. The flowering of experimental and innovative art and the opportunities for sexual adventurism in Berlin acted as a magnet for British artists, writers, bohemians and businessmen.156 Britons streamed over to Germany, attracted by a nation seemingly in tune with wider cultural trends but also apparently in a ‘perpetual state of crisis and instability’.157 Even British involvement in the military occupation of the Ruhr opened up new vistas of understanding. According to Colin Storer, the ‘experience of British servicemen and their civilian counterparts living cheek-by-jowl with the Germans in the Rhineland did much to popularise a more sympathetic attitude towards the former enemy.’158 The overall impression was that Germany was coming to terms with its recent past. Certain elite groups, ‘from bankers to bishops’, helped to create a dominant negative view of the Versailles settlement.159 Prominent among these were church leaders, who throughout the 1920s increasingly attacked the peace treaty as un-Christian. The influential ecumenical movement brought church leaders into close contact with their German



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counterparts, who themselves pushed for revision. Convinced of German claims, British bishops disseminated their views through the press, on the radio or to their local congregations. Their opposition to Versailles added a moral force to the argument that Germans had been wronged.160 The sense of morality that they helped bring to pro-German arguments lasted throughout the interwar years and beyond. However, as Catherine Cline pointed out, ‘none played a more crucial role’ in this opinion shift ‘than British historians.’161

Rewriting history Immediately after hostilities ended, the new German government under the presidency of Social Democrat Friedrich Ebert sought to create ‘official’ histories about the origins of the war. Even though documents were selectively edited, honest scholarship suppressed and pseudoscholarship subsidised, Die Grosse Politik der Europäischen Kabinette 1871–1914 became an essential tome for students of pre-war history.162 Disseminated widely at home and abroad, these studies deflected blame for the conflict away from Germany and, by default, made the terms of Versailles seem even more punitive.163 This extended and wilful attempt at self-exculpation had a disproportionate impact in Britain, where admiration for German historical scholarship remained strong. Official reluctance to release British pre-war documents exacerbated the problem. As Keith Hamilton argues, by early 1921 the regular flow of German documents was having a definitive influence on the debate concerning the origins of the war.164 Literary scholar Sir Sidney Lee wrote to The Times in November 1924, warning of the ‘formidable miscellany of diplomatic papers’ from Germany, adding: the authentic, if incomplete, evidence which Germany is freely placing at the disposal of historical study must inevitably, unless the English Foreign Office qualify its tradition and take a hand in the illumination of the recent past, tend to give the German interpretation of pre-war events historical authority all the world over.165

His warning was pertinent, but was not sufficiently heeded.

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Other scholars disagreed with Lee. Some, like Sir Charles Beazley, Professor of History at Birmingham, and William Harbutt Dawson were funded by the German War Guilt Section.166 This enabled them to write revisionist accounts. Dawson had spent time in Germany as a journalist, and was a recognised British expert on German social policy who had published three influential books on the subject before the war.167 Twice married to German women, the war came as a profound shock to him. He responded by publishing What is Wrong with Germany? (1915), a book that espoused the theory of ‘two Germanies’, one made up of good Germans, the other of bad. By negotiating with the ‘good’, he believed that a fair and democratic peace settlement was possible.168 Dawson was a prolific writer during and after the war.169 For example, in the wellrespected 1928 book A History of Germany, he argued that Germany was really a ‘nation of thinkers and dreamers’ and the recent past had been an aberration.170 His influence continued to be felt after the Nazis came to power. Published in 1933, his Germany Under the Treaty, which the Times Literary Supplement called ‘an important and timely book’, attacked the territorial provisions of Versailles.171 Dawson argued that policy towards Germany was ‘perverse and unintelligent’, marked by ‘repression and exasperation’. In the final chapter, he ‘look[ed] forward to a union of the British, German, and Scandinavian peoples’, as well as those of the United States, whom he believed shared racial characteristics.172 It was Dawson’s faith in Germany, especially his concept of the ‘national character’, that prevented him ‘from fully recognising the nature of the new Nazi regime’, and in 1936, he accepted an honorary doctorate from Königsberg University, in a ceremony held at the German Embassy in London.173 Perhaps even more influential, though, was the liberal historian George Peabody Gooch. After spending time in Berlin in the 1890s, Gooch married German art student Sophie Else Schön and he regarded Germany as a second home. From 1913, he took over sole editorship of the prestigious periodical, the Contemporary Review, which became one of the leading British journals for international affairs.174 Throughout the war the journal eschewed ‘negative generalisations’ about Germans, urged a quick end to the war and looked forward to a ‘reconciliation of the enemies.’175 After the war, Gooch invited British and German intellectuals who ‘decried reparations and the French insistence on collecting them’



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to write for the Contemporary Review.176 This coincided with growing post-war sympathy for Germany and thus Gooch developed a reputation for fairness and historical detachment. In his popular 1923 book, Recent Revelations of European Diplomacy, he argued that no country had wanted war, that Germany was not solely responsible and all countries shared a general guilt.177 According to Cline, Gooch ‘greeted each new set of documents’ that comprised Die Grosse Politik ‘with delight and plumbed them eagerly for the light they could shed on the origins of the war’. He subsequently aired his views ‘in a series of articles, lectures, books and occasional letters to the press.’178 By 1925, Gooch felt the time was right for a more radical reassessment of Germany. His book, Germany, was written for a series edited by Liberal politician, historian and later, later defender of appeasement, H.A.L. Fisher. Fisher introduced what was, largely, a paean to Germany. He pointed out, with no little self-congratulation, that such a positive work on a former enemy so soon after the war was a tribute to ‘our cool, selfcritical and judicial island’.179 Gooch’s contribution was a lyrical tribute to Germans, who were portrayed more or less as ‘a nation of dreamers and poets’.180 He took his readers on a high-blown rhetorical tour of all that was good and worthy in German culture from ‘the Augustan age of German literature’ through Germany’s ‘lead in music’, ‘natural science’, philosophy, physiology and medicine. For Gooch, pre-war Germany was ‘a glittering vision of mind and muscle, of large-scale organisation, of intoxicating self-confidence, of metallic brilliancy, such as Europe had never seen’. It was no wonder, he wrote, that so many Germans regarded Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s vision of the ‘Germanic race’ as correct.181 Chamberlain was a British-naturalised German whose magnum opus, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899), had turned him almost immediately into a ‘prophet of race’. He propounded the theory of the innate superiority of Teutonism, the advances of which had ‘been registered only in the face of an unrelenting Semitic peril’. For Chamberlain, the struggle of Germandom was ‘an on-going struggle of racial becoming’.182 Gooch, updating Chamberlain’s prewar analysis to fit post-war circumstances, argued that ‘one of the strongest racial stocks in the world’ was now beginning to pull itself



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together. All that was required was an end to the ‘Carthaginian peace’, soon to become the stock phrase for Versailles, so that the new republic would stand a chance in a nation where ‘self-government’ had never really taken root.183 For Gooch, the marching youths on Germany’s streets were not a threat, merely the sign of ‘great nation animated like one man with a common feeling that it has been greatly wronged’.184 Gooch’s unrelenting optimism about Germany and its people and his belief that the study of history was an essentially moral or moralising pursuit, overrode his commitment to objectivity. Although Gooch was perhaps more sympathetic of Germany than most Britons in 1925, he nonetheless forged a path that many subsequently chose to tread. In particular, Gooch influenced political leaders as well as prominent members of the League of Nations Union including Gilbert Murray, Leonard Woolf and H.G. Wells. In this way, he helped to construct the zeitgeist that was to underpin the policy of appeasement. These well-meaning historians and others seemed unaware that their interpretations of recent history benefited, in Cline’s words, ‘the very militarist and reactionary forces’ they were most in fear of in Germany itself.185 In 1925, Gilbert Murray, expert on ancient Greece and known for his humanitarianism, reassured a German correspondent that few in England now blamed Germany alone for the Great War.186 By the time Gooch and Harold Temperley had finished editing British documents relating to pre-war diplomacy more than a decade later, Germany’s partisan and partial version of events were a major part of a ‘comfortable consensus.’187 By the late 1930s most now re-remembered the war as everyone’s fault and a tragedy for all. The subject of German atrocities was largely forgotten, or tied up with a sense of guilt. Taking a hard line with Germany became increasingly untenable because fewer and fewer Britons were in favour of it. Hence, when the terms of the 1925 Locarno Treaty were made public, it was clear that German rehabilitation rather than punishment was the order of the day.188 This was quickly followed in 1926 by Germany’s entry into the League of Nations with a permanent seat on the Council. The evacuation of the Rhineland by Allied forces was completed by June 1930, five years ahead of schedule. Nevertheless, the Weimar government orchestrated a Day of Mourning on the tenth anniversary of Versailles. On 28 June



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1929, muffled church bells tolled throughout the land and flags were flown at half mast.189 Events were reported sympathetically in the British press, with commentators struck by the unanimous German opposition to the treaty.190 Although far-right groups were portrayed as tangential to proceedings, they were, in fact, very much involved in the protests. At this stage, British officials were under no illusions as to the nature of the German National Socialists. Sir Ronald Lindsey, British Ambassador to Berlin during the 1928 German election campaign, reported to Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain that ‘[t]hese crazy people are actuated by a combination of anti-Semitism and acrid nationalism carried to its extremist logical conclusions … The only pleasant thing about them is that they have lost three of the fifteen seats in the Reichstag.’191 As their electoral fortunes changed so did official British attitudes. Come Hitler’s accession to power on 30 January 1933, there was to be a radical reassessment of him and his movement.

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By 1933 the rehabilitation of Germany was all but complete in the minds of most Britons. If there was any guilt to be admitted, especially concerning the fall of German democracy, then Britain and the Allies were in the frame. For a large number of cognoscenti, as Keith Robbins argues, it was ‘Allied policy which had perhaps fatally injured the prospects of the new Weimar Republic.’192 Ideas gestated in the 1920s became the lens through which the triumph of Nazism was viewed. The year before Hitler came to power, for example, women’s rights campaigner, Cicely Hamilton, published Modern Germanies as seen by an Englishwoman. Hamilton used scathing but by now commonplace language to describe Versailles as no more than an ‘extorted confession’. Preoccupation with war guilt was an ‘inevitable reaction’ from Germans, whose accomplishments since the war in such straightened circumstances could only be admired. Moreover, marching brown-shirted Stormtroopers were a reasonable response to the restrictions placed on Germany’s regular army by the Allies. Hamilton was confident that the German people would ‘in the end,



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pull through’. Popular author and one of a few who were sympathetic to Jewish suffering in the 1930s, Margaret Storm Jameson, was equally captivated.194 She provided a romantic vision of Germany when she wrote in 1932 that she was: 193

Conscious all the time of an older Germany surviving strongly under the new, caring intensely for music, for friendship, and completely indifferent to lesser values. Even the madness of Hitlerism has a root in the romanticism of that enduring Germany…To understand post-war Germany even a little one must think less of the grimacing mask of Hitler and more of German men and women going about their business with their old steadfastness, of workless men brushing their shabby jackets and cheap worn shoes, of the young stiffening themselves to believe in a future. All these millions of patient, essentially simple people, are waiting on the next turn of the wheel… The one certain thing is that nothing short of another collapse can keep these people from recovering. They are too tough to be finished by anything less than violence or catastrophe. Also they are learning to laugh at themselves.195

Early in March 1933, however, weeks after Hitler became Chancellor, the press received irrefutable evidence of escalating violence in Germany. Victims included communists, socialists, pacifists and Jews. Referring to the Catholic massacre of Huguenots in 1572, the New Statesman foresaw a ‘Bartholomew’s Eve massacre’. It sounded ‘utterly fantastic’ but they had evidence, and so had ‘every newspaper office in London’, that ‘the Nazis mean business’. They were bent on a ‘Reign of Terror’.196 German correspondents who attempted to deny charges of brutality were given short shrift, and the facts stood ‘incontestable’.197 The Times confirmed that accounts of ‘violence and intimidation’ everywhere came in ‘from official and trustworthy private sources’.198 Brutality was widely reported, the facts verified and its nature understood. Britons were genuinely shocked and somewhat disoriented, but it was not long before they recovered their poise. The desire, almost a yearning, to understand the ‘German’ viewpoint was too entrenched. When a little known MP, Lieutenant-Colonel Acland-Troyte, asked in parliament whether ‘events show that the mentality which caused the Belgian atrocities in 1914 still exists in Germany?’, he was ignored.199 There was no simmering indignation; instead, there was evidence of a countervailing trend.



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Doyen of international affairs at the BBC, journalist Vernon Bartlett was also something of a celebrity. He rubbed shoulders with prime ministers, statesmen and opinion formers. His personal correspondence is replete with letters from the great and the good. Yet he apparently had the common touch. According to the BBC yearbook of 1931, it was his ‘unobtrusive charm and his respect for truth and a certain quality of fair play’ that made Bartlett’s monologues so popular.200 He was the recognised ‘voice’ of foreign affairs on the BBC, which had a virtual monopoly of airtime. Bartlett’s talks tended to adopt the form of a cosy fireside chat, for which the radio format was so apt. On 30 March 1933, Bartlett told listeners about his experience of the meeting of the Reichstag held at the Kroll Opera House following the destruction of the Reichstag building by fire. It was broadcast two days before an officially orchestrated boycott of Jewish shops and businesses, which had been held in response to ‘foreign atrocity propaganda’. The meeting was seminal because it was here that the German parliament voted to divest itself of authority by passing the Enabling Act, which handed full legislative and executive powers to Hitler.201 The National Socialist Party, although devoid of an overall majority, had called on the support of the German National People’s Party and the Centre Party to pass the Act. Bartlett was particularly struck by the courageous speech of Otto Wels, chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the sole party to vote against the Act in the face of extreme intimidation. Nevertheless, he argued, it was ‘inevitable’ that the ‘lasting inferiority’ induced by Versailles would ‘be disputed by a young and vigorous race.’ Bartlett saw it as a ‘tragic reminder’ of ‘our failure … to help the moderates in Germany’. In order to prove that the current state of Germany was ‘not the fault of the Germans alone’, Bartlett harked back to the immediate post-war period. He did so in the form of an anecdote: The first man I met on German soil after the war was a porter who carried my luggage when I arrived by boat on Lake Constance early in 1920. He had two hooks instead of arms, and I felt so little like a conquering hero when he told me he had lost his arms near Ypres that I rather hoped he would not guess my nationality, but when he saw my passport, his feeling of friendliness knew no bounds. He was only one of many. Germany at



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that time was almost entirely pacifist – wanted no more war – was willing to accept all the responsibility for the last one that was due to her, and looked upon those who had fought on the other side not as enemies but merely as fellow-victims of the devastating piece of folly.202

Ordinary Germans, in Bartlett’s view, had been the victims of highhanded statesmanship. Germans were ‘bewildered, in trouble, hopeless and helpless’ and in their desperation they ‘turned to Hitler’. According to Bartlett, most foreign observers (especially the French) had the situation in Germany wrong. Indeed, most could not ‘see the wood for the trees’ and persecution of friends distorted their judgement. ‘For years the Nazis had been taught to hate the Jews and the Socialists’ and it was unreasonable to expect that hatred to immediately subside. He asked, were there not ‘excesses’ in ‘almost every revolution’? After all, he continued, ‘this is a revolution’, but one ‘very nearly without bloodshed.’ Although ‘many doctors, lawyers, artists and civil servants, and so on’ had lost their jobs either on account of their ‘political opinions’ or because they were of the ‘Jewish race’ and ‘a complete anti-Jewish boycott’ was being threatened, he was nonetheless convinced that persecution was ‘not nearly so bad’ as foreigners believed. Moreover, not only had the German government taken ‘strong measures’ to prevent persecution but a significant body of opinion remained opposed to the Nazis and, if provoked, was allegedly prepared to rise up in opposition. Whether Hitler carried through his plans by moderate or draconian means depended, according to Bartlett, on how genuinely Britain and other countries were able to see the role they had played in making Germans turn to Nazism. ‘Personally’, he was inclined to think that ‘the Nazi revolution’ was ‘an inevitable step towards the recovery to German greatness and influence’. In any case, having spent a week in Berlin, he pronounced the situation ‘entirely normal’.203 Other broadcasters and writers echoed Bartlett’s views. One was the avid promoter of Anglo–German unity, Evelyn Wrench.204 On 10 April 1933, the ex-editor of The Spectator broadcast his first-hand impression of Germany. He asked listeners to recall ‘the critical weeks’ of 1914 when ‘facts looked so different in each country’. If they wanted to avoid war, ‘a method of understanding what the other fellow thinks’ was needed. Although he disagreed with the boycott, Wrench was keen to provide ‘another picture of Nazism’. He outlined the suffering of Germans since



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the war and used the words of a ‘liberal-minded’ German, not a member of the Nazi Party, to plead for understanding that Hitler was ‘not a fire eater’, that ‘young Germany doesn’t want war’ but did want ‘a square deal’. Wrench left his audience with the notion: that a new Germany is being born, led by young men, new to politics, their views may not be our views, but they have youth behind them. Let us hope they will leave the Jews in peace, and I believe and hope they will. But apart from this Jewish question, do let us show Germany that we want to try to understand the present mentality of the German people.205

Clearly, the ‘Jewish question’ was recognised, but emphasis was on the plea for tolerance. Messages coming over the radio were reflected in most British newspapers. Although shock and horror were expressed in response to the unleashing of out-and-out violence, the desire to understand the appeal of Nazism prevailed. Commentators generally searched for a line that would allow an expression of humanitarian concern for Jewish victims, but at the same time give ample space for the German point of view as the civilised victims of injustice. The News Chronicle reported that Germans, like Britons, found brutality ‘repugnant’ and were confident that ‘sober opinion would prevail.’206 The Daily Express claimed that the ‘disciplined intellect’ of Germany would ‘assert itself, modifying the forces of reaction’ and democracy would ‘re-emerge’.207 Hitler himself and nationalist members of the German Cabinet, the ‘moderates’, were favourably compared with Hermann Göring, currently Minister without Portfolio, whose inflammatory speeches marked him out as an extremist.208 A.L. Kennedy, foreign leader writer for The Times, wrote in his diary that ‘a struggle is beginning between Goring [sic] and Goebbels, the extremists, against Hitler, Backed [sic] by Rosenberg, who are moderates.’ He added, ‘I must try to write just favourably enough to Hitler [sic] to get him to allow the articles to be quoted in the Ger[man] Press.’209 Thus, The Times, which under the editorship of Geoffrey Dawson turned support for appeasement into a virtual artform, nailed its colours to the mast very early on. Its first editorial on Nazi Germany claimed that Hitler had enforced ‘the strictest discipline’. In any case, ‘upheaval’ was ‘inevitable’ and no one expected ‘revolutions to be made with rose-water’.210 Most



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newspapers, whether on the right or left, shared this view, as did the prime minister.211 Ramsay MacDonald informed the German Ambassador that ‘he had not believed’ reports of excesses and ‘understood very well the character of and circumstances attending a revolution’.212

The anglo-Jewish double-blind But, what of the Jews? Of course, the threat of a German boycott made front-page news. But American-Jewish protests evoked a strange response in the British press. Strange, because when it came to antiSemitism, whatever the underlying view of Jews, the press normally displayed restraint. Now it showed signs of breaking this unspoken rule. The joint effect of the coverage, even before the boycott took place on 1 April, left readers with the impression that a world coalition of Jews was powerful enough to bring the German economy to its knees. The Daily Express, for instance, told its readers that Germany would pay dearly because it was ‘a heavy borrower in foreign money markets, where Jewish influence’ was ‘considerable’.213 But if reporting in the Express was predictable enough, surprisingly it was the left-wing Daily Herald, under the headline, ‘Jews’ World Boycott of Germany’, that announced that ‘Jewish financiers’ were ‘now “working” the money market’ until persecution ceased.214 This view was shared by financial experts such as John Maynard Keynes, who according to Virginia Woolf ’s diary, told his guests at a private gathering that Germany was ‘doing something very queer with their money’, surmising that maybe it was the ‘Jews’ who were ‘taking away their capital’.215 Generally, then, a cross-section of papers portrayed a battle between two great forces, a battle in which Jews wielded ultimate power through financial control. Consequently, the boycott was presented as a ‘retaliatory’ measure, an ‘eye for an eye’, rather than what it actually was – an act of aggression against a vulnerable minority.216 In fact, Jews in Western Europe and the USA had some economic and political levers, but their power was puny and the contest unequal. Hitler had given the impression of restraint by limiting the boycott to one day and British commentators were taken in. It was a pattern of behaviour they had predicted from a



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new chancellor constrained by the limitations of holding actual power.217 Thus, two sets of stereotypes were reinforced: Jews, hardly victims when protected by massive financial clout, were making too much of a fuss, while the heritage of German victimhood came through loud and clear. The News Chronicle and Daily Telegraph made their respective positions obvious: reports of violence against Jews were ‘sensational’ and ‘distorted’ and the feelings of indignation experienced by Britons ‘unpleasantly’ resembled ‘the sort of feelings aroused during the war’. Indeed, the ‘new Nazi “frightfulness” was not even frightful.’218 Sixteen London-based German journalists rallied to the defence of the new regime by circulating a letter to the British press. They called for ‘friendly understanding’ between Britain and Germany and explained: What is happening in Germany to-day is a revolution in the full sense of the word. In revolutionary periods incidents are, of course, inevitable. We feel however, that false rumours and reports about alleged atrocities in Germany have reached a circulation in this country which brings us face to face with a state of mind very much like the general psychosis created during the war.219

When The Spectator, under editor Henry Wilson Harris, a strong supporter of the League of Nations who believed journals should be more concerned with moral than political issues, refuted this message (albeit in a low key), he received a stream of protests from Englishmen and Germans.220 The first to complain was Dr A. Munthe, an historian from Potsdam. He called reports of atrocities ‘utterly ludicrous’ and, in a wounded tone, claimed ‘it would make one laugh’ if these reports ‘were not so painfully reminiscent of the campaign of defamation which is one of the most inglorious pages of the Great War’. But he saved his strongest invective for Jewish refugees, the ‘profiteers and embezzlers of the discarded system and their literary scientific hangers-on’, who had ‘scurr[ied] post haste across the nearest border and set up dismal howls over their lost fleshpots’.221 Support for Munthe came from R.G. Walmsley, who denounced ‘the embittered atmosphere of mutual recrimination’ created by some (unspecified) newspapers. For him, it was entirely feasible that Germany’s post-war troubles were ‘directly due to an excessive and baneful influence of the Jews’. Rose Scott, an Englishwoman residing in Germany, could ‘only endorse Dr Munthe’s

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words’ and argued that communists started the violence and Jews controlled German public life.222 A.H. Cooper-Prichard expressed fears that something similar was already happening in Britain, thus giving substance to the ‘German accusation’ that ‘Englishmen are half Jews.’223 Patrick du Val from Cambridge was angered by the publication of an ‘anti-German cartoon’ by Louis Raemaekers. Was it not, he asked, ‘time to drop the cry of German atrocities’ which had been too ‘hastily believed’?224 In addition to letters, an article by German liberal and London correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung, Wolf von Dewall, pleaded that Germany was being unfairly treated and asked readers to have faith that there were ‘good forces in the [Nazi] movement’ driving for peace. If Harris was brave enough to highlight anti-Jewish persecution in The Spectator, its ex-editor, Evelyn Wrench, undermined him. Wrench agreed there were too many Jews in German public life and reminded readers of the Black and Tans to prove that ‘Governments often do what large sections of the Community disapprove of.’225 With attention on Germany, it was perhaps inevitable that the subject came up in parliament. Conservative MP Edward Doran pointed out that with the large number of Jews ‘scurrying’ from Germany to Britain, and because the Aliens Act was not stringent enough, it would not be long before immigrants would create ‘a von Hitler in this country’. It would be easy to portray Doran as an aberration, but he reflected a fairly common belief that too many Jews in Britain would stir up anti-Semitism. Sir John Gilmore, the Home Secretary, reassured the House that British interests came first and that there were ‘adequate powers under the Aliens Order to safeguard England’ from the ‘undesirable influx of aliens’.226 But three weeks later the subject resurfaced. Pressed by a fellow Tory, Oliver Locker-Lampson, on whether he would bring the persecution of German Jews before the League of Nations Council, Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon took the opportunity to assert that there was no suitable article in the League Covenant that would allow for such a course of action.227 This was a distortion of the facts. The precepts of the League were vaguely expressed precisely to allow latitude of interpretation and Simon’s categorical and narrow response was a misappropriation of both the spirit and substance of the

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Covenant. Norman Bentwich, the Anglo-Jewish colonial official who became the leading light of the League High Commission, which fought to find places of refuge for German Jews, expounded the legal case for positive action to an audience of jurists at the Grotius Society. He argued that historical precedent provided ample examples where either ‘armed intervention or diplomatic representations’ had been ‘made to a foreign State on the ground of humanity’. He also submitted that ‘the scope and deliberate atrocity of the persecution of the Jews in Germany constitute such a challenge to the established principles of religious and racial equality in Europe’ that international peace would be ‘endangered’ if the League stood ‘aloof ’.228 Bentwich’s forceful argument is proof that the extent and potential of Nazism was not beyond the imagination of contemporaries. Nevertheless, it is notable how little was the furore over Simon’s disingenuous answer, especially, as we shall see, when compared to other contemporary crises. Salford MP John Morris tried another tactic. Perhaps thinking that the government’s real problem with the League was its innate internationalism, he evoked Britain’s ‘ancient tradition, to respect the numerical weakness and defenceless position of Jews in Germany’. This was not mere rhetoric. Morris was harking back to the heady days of Palmerston, who sent the British fleet to blockade the port of Piraeus following an attack on a British Jew, Don Pacifico.229 Although Morris’s allusion would have been clear to all, the prime minister was having none of it. MacDonald evaded a full-scale debate by claiming that other parliamentary business was far too pressing.230 Concern was also expressed in the Lords. Viscount Cecil, who had earned himself a reputation as a sane humanitarian, called on the government to lodge a verbal protest with its German counterpart. He was unremitting when listing the full gamut of anti-Jewish measures being employed throughout Germany, whether by ‘violence and outrage’, with no effort to intervene by police or the government; by ‘inflammatory articles against the Jews’ in the German press with no public outcry (this ‘was all the more difficult of understanding by friends of Germany’); or the ‘wholesale dismissal of Jews’ from their places of business. Britain, Cecil argued, had every reason to speak out, not just because of its mandate to oversee Palestine but also because post-war peace treaties

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made it clear that ‘there were definite obligations that minorities should be treated in precisely the same way as any other subjects’. Finally, he pointed out that it was Germany who had made the most noise about minorities under those treaties anyway.231 The Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, was another contributor to the Lords’ debate. Appalled by the butchery in the Great War and determined to prevent another, Lang was a strong supporter of the League of Nations and, as we shall see, not afraid to sanction force against Italy following the invasion of Abyssinia. Nonetheless, his response to the persecution of German Jews was, frankly, underwhelming. Lang sounded compassionate but failed to challenge the government’s stance. Indeed, he felt sure they were already doing all they could to ‘express the concern’ of British Christians who were ‘animated by sincere friendship for the Germans.’232 Debate on Germany reached its apogee in the Commons on 13 April, although it did not so much concern anti-Jewish persecution as Germany’s foreign policy ambitions. Austen Chamberlain, in a ‘rare moment of agreement’ across the House, spoke out about threats to European stability and the potential fate of Poles living in the Polish Corridor, sundered from Germany in the post-war settlement.233 He used the treatment of Jews as an example of what might happen to Poles should Germany regain this territory. References to German Jews, however marginal, encouraged a minority of MPs (often Jewish themselves) to speak out. In response, Simon affirmed that parliamentary feeling represented ‘not a Jewish’ but an ‘Anglo-Saxon outlook’.234 What this meant is difficult to ascertain. What we do know is that parliamentary exchanges were laced with deference to Germany, while the Jewish community was left to organise its own protests. One way to engender support, as with the Armenians in 1915, was to set up a fund under the auspices of the Lord Mayor of London. When Neville Laski, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and brother of the political theorist Harold, asked for permission to hold a meeting for this purpose at the Guildhall, his request was refused from ‘influential quarters’.235 This was probably the Foreign Office. It was a significant blow to Jewish efforts. Jewish leaders were painfully aware that they needed to show the correct deportment to stand any chance

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of gaining support. However British they felt, Jews were invariably already judged and labelled. In 1930s Britain, anti-Semitism was pretty much everywhere. It did not normally lead to violence, but was rather expressed in a plethora of misgivings. Laski sought to counteract this by urging Jewish protesters to become more ‘British’. Regardless, therefore, of concern for family, friends and acquaintances in Germany, regardless of whether they knew a victim who had been murdered, beaten up, sacked, ‘retired’, harassed or persecuted, Jewish-led meetings, Laski warned, should show ‘dignity and restraint’. He was convinced that one meeting of a ‘non-Jewish character’ was ‘worth all the Jewish meetings which could possibly be held’.236 Prompted by German-Jewish representatives, Laski tried to reflect prevalent attitudes by making sympathetic noises towards Germany.237 He even found himself repeating the mantra that ‘no revolution is without its excesses.’238 But his strategy was only partially successful. Support from the British was patchy at best. Leo Amery, the combative Conservative backbencher who had the ear of senior ministers, attended a meeting in Birmingham. Afterwards, he commentated that the audience was influenced not by ‘specific Jewish sympathy’ but instead by a ‘general feeling about fair play.’239 Undoubtedly, Anglo-Jewish representatives tried to elicit support for German Jews. An energetic subcommittee co-ordinated meetings and produced 25,000 pamphlets to be circulated in parliament, among learned societies, to mayors, clubs, libraries, Labour and women’s organisations, public men, institutions and the local and national press.240 Representatives reported their activities to the Foreign Office, thus acting as both a prompt and a conduit.241 During a short period after the boycott, Jewish leaders seemed confident they could successfully mobilise a society so steeped in humanitarianism. Perhaps they were buoyed up by the limited action evident in the formation of the Academic Assistance Council. Set up on the initiative of William Beveridge, director of the London School of Economics, and supported by prominent scholars such as J.M. Keynes, Gilbert Murray, the historian George Trevelyan and the economist Josiah Stamp, by mid-1935 it had found 60 permanent and 148 temporary posts for refugee academics. The Council made it clear that their action implied

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‘no unfriendly feelings to the people of any country’, nor any ‘judgment on forms of government or any political issue between countries’.242 But as Richard Overy points out, it always ‘remained sensitive to the charge that it was only designed to help Jews’.243 In the end, the optimism of Anglo-Jewish leaders was largely unfounded and the campaign barely got off the ground. They were mindful that the Jewish question was part of the wider problem of Europe and as Laski later stated, ‘it was unwise continually to bring the Jewish aspect to the forefront.’244 Ultimately, they were caught in a double blind. The more restraint they showed, the less likely they were to be noticed; if they dared to show less, they could have been damned for being too emotional or not ‘British’ enough. The public meetings that did take place, prompted as they were by Anglo-Jewish leaders, lacked spontaneity and vitality. At a May meeting in Birmingham, for instance, the main speaker, Birmingham’s resident Bishop, Dr Ernest Barnes, stated that he: was sure that many things done during the recent revolution were gravely regretted by millions of the German people, but the present was no time for threats or violent reproaches. We must be content to appeal to that better spirit which, though at the moment silent had not vanished from Germany. In the long run, he was convinced, we should not be disappointed if we expected from the German people a generosity of temper such as we ourselves, after periods of excitement, could display.245

Like others, Barnes acknowledged the violence but sought to give the German populace the benefit of the doubt at a time when he thought that calm was called for. Germans, he believed, ‘regretted’ their actions, which had taken place in the heat of the moment, and this was understandable as Britons themselves had been guilty of violent excesses following similar ‘periods of excitement’, presumably a euphemistic but widely understood reference to British colonial atrocities. What was missing from Barnes’s speech was any call for a change of government policy, any appeal to the League of Nations or any demands for a tougher stance. Effectively, empathy with Germans trumped compassion for Jews. In a meeting convened to protest about anti-Jewish persecution, the bishop could not help displaying his identification with the German people. Undoubtedly, the meeting was a sign of public discontent and

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those attending would have felt they were making a statement, but the resolution which declared anti-Jewish discrimination ‘in Germany and elsewhere’ was ‘contrary to the spirit and principles of the Christian faith’, was too woolly to be effective. A meeting in Bradford more explicitly condemned ‘the persecution and the discrimination’, but again, its resolution was laced with caveats. To blame was the German government, not the people, and it was to their ‘conscience’ that the speaker appealed. This appeal was fundamentally misplaced because, as Peter Fritzsche has pointed out, the new Germany offered by the National Socialists was seen by the majority of Germans as ‘a workable ideal’. Britons misjudged the public mood in Germany.246 Sympathy for German suffering had become the dominant narrative in Britain’s collective memory.247

explaining Germany Thus, when Hitler made his first speech on foreign policy, not only were protest meetings almost entirely eclipsed but, as we shall see, commentators were predisposed to interpret his words sympathetically. Hitler demanded the revision of Versailles (already a popular theme in Britain), and also affirmed that countries surrounding Germany had a right to exist. Overall, the new chancellor projected a desire for peace and appeared to rule out any use of military force.248 Helping the Foreign Office with their interpretation of these latest developments was one their most tried and trusted diplomats stationed in Berlin. Following stints in Warsaw, Constantinople and Madrid, Sir Horace Rumbold had been appointed British Ambassador to Berlin in 1928. The rise of the Nazis coincided with his last days as a diplomat (he retired in June 1933), by which time he commanded considerable respect in the Foreign Office. Consequently, Rumbold’s special dispatch of 26 April 1933, based on an extensive reading of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and his observations of the boycott, was a masterpiece of insight. In essence, he predicted that Hitler would ‘resort periodically to protestations of peaceful intent to induce a sense of security abroad’, but thought it fallacious to expect ‘a return to sanity or a serious modification of the views of the Chancellor and his

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entourage’. This was not Rumbold’s only report. Although on 11 May he remained convinced that Hitler was responsible for Germany’s antiJewish policy, just five days later – the day, in fact, before Hitler’s speech – he provided a more benign view of German government. The regime, he now claimed, was ‘steadily consolidating itself ’ and there were ‘signs lately of a saner and more responsible attitude’ especially by ‘Hitler, Goebbels and Göring.’250 This, he suggested, was not due to ‘any sudden accession of virtue’, but rather the difficulties of maintaining the pace of ‘revolution’. It was further evidence of the widely held belief that Nazism would be tamed by the exigencies of holding power. Rumbold expressed a similar view when he responded to a subsequent request to outline his predictions for the development of the Third Reich from Sir Robert Vansittart, the influential Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office. When responding to Vansittart’s request, Rumbold, well aware of Hitler’s 13-year record of virulent anti-Semitic diatribes, extraordinarily, saw his speech as ‘a volte face’. Although he maintained Hitler’s ‘peace protestations’ were pretty empty, Rumbold counselled his Whitehall masters that Hitler was continually subject to ‘moderating influences both at home and abroad’. In fact, he pointed out, Hitler had already ‘given way a little where his pet racial theories are concerned’ and, he argued that ‘the stronger Hitler becomes at home, the more he can afford to be conciliatory abroad.’ This was bad news for German Jews. Rumbold, whose ‘illuminating analysis’ was submitted to the Foreign Secretary, increasingly saw Hitler as a pragmatist, a man with whom Britain could do business and a man who could be relied on to balance the extreme elements in his party.251 After this, Jewish protests became more of an irritant than anything else. When a resolution pledged a boycott of German goods by the London Textile Trade, it was dismissed on the basis that they were ‘under close Jewish control.’252 The Times capitalised on Hitler’s speech, claiming that ‘behind the demagogue and showman’ was a ‘statesman’ who was no different from his predecessors. The presence of nationalists in the German Cabinet reinforced the view that Hitler was influenced by moderates and speaking for the German majority.253 Prophecies that the good sense of ordinary Germans would prevail appeared to be borne out. A Manchester Guardian leader column also proceeded to praise Hitler’s moderate tone and 249

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compared it to ‘the atrocious glorification of war’ by his Vice-Chancellor, Von Papen. The paper was especially pleased to note his verbal tirade against the terms of Versailles. Hitler, the editorial continued, was stating ‘truisms’ and the speech was a reminder of the necessity to remove any ‘grievances’ Germany might have. Indeed, Hitler came across as the voice of common sense. This served to reduce the impact of the Guardian’s less prominent and nebulous warning of ‘a hundred other acts and utterances’ that worked against ‘Hitler’s pacific speech’. Despite appealing to the government to reinforce the League, the Guardian’s overall message to its readership was one of hope.254 Ex-Liberal MP Joseph King, who had defected to Labour, echoed the Guardian. In one of the first books to be published on the subject, The German Revolution (1933) included a hastily written epilogue in which he described Hitler as displaying ‘his power in eloquence, elevated tone, clear statement, strong appeal and fair promises’. In King’s opinion, ‘[f]or these things the world, as well as his countrymen, can be thankful.’255 Coverage on the BBC carried a similar message. Wrench was given the microphone the day after Hitler’s speech and claimed he felt ‘more optimistic about Europe’ than he had ‘for a very long time’. He told his audience that one of Hitler’s ‘intimate friends’ had confided to him that the German leader had ‘an uncanny flair or instinct for doing the right thing at the critical moment’. Wrench triumphantly told his listeners that: When I returned from Berlin, while making no attempt to defend Germany’s anti-Jew policy, I appealed for a greater attempt in this country to understand the German point of view, and I expressed the hope that, once Germany emerged from her revolutionary crisis, she would prove to be a willing partner in the new Europe. Friends told me I had become a victim to German propaganda, but I stuck to my guns. There really is no question that Herr Hitler’s speech has cleared the political atmosphere of the world.

It was, he continued, the primary duty of all commentators ‘to exercise restraint and try to put himself in the other fellow’s shoes as far as he can.’256 Papers and periodicals sent correspondents to Germany and, like Wrench, they worked hard to understand the new Germany. For The

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Times it was Enid Bagnold, author of National Velvet. She was genuinely appalled by the ‘bullydom’, the ‘triumph of baiting: Communist-baiting, Jew-baiting, free-thought baiting ’, but with regard to the Jews, she attempted to explain the reasons why they were hated. Generally, she believed that Jews ‘interrupt[ed] race feeling’. More specifically, each class of German she spoke to had its own reason: The business man hates them because he has been worked up to believe that the Jews financed Communism in order to divide and rule and threaten him. The uncomplicated German woman (with her mate) hates them because they represent sophistication, night life, the threat against the hearth. The young Nazi’s emotion, faced with a Jew boils; it does not like the knowledge, the age, in the Jewish eye.257

Nonetheless, Bagnold appeared to be captivated by the avidity of Nazis and their supporters, old and new. Delicately, she expressed something of what Nazism was offering and what Germans were accepting, which amounted to a new sense of safety, purpose and belonging. She placed herself, as Wrench had suggested, ‘in the other fellow’s shoes’, and recounted a personal experience. An original member of the Nazi party in full regalia and his wife took her for a drive and she sensed what it was like to be a part of this new vibrant collective: beflagged and free…free from suspicion, divinely under the fluttering mantle of power. Unless it is my imagination, I dare to talk more loudly. This impression is strengthened during the afternoon. Instead of being the servants, as it were, whispering over the bed-making, I am the man and wife laughing gaily on the stairs. I can understand what my other, rather sad [newly-converted], Nazi said, when he whispered, ‘The relief! The relief!’258

Doubtless, Bagnold sensed something of the ominous potential of this newly militarised society, but her impulse to inhabit the German mindset, to feel the appeal of Nazism, was greater than her desire to understand the new strictures, the shrinkage of existence, imposed on German Jews. The New Statesman gave column space to the Liberal Clifford Sharp, editor of the periodical from its inception in 1913 until 1928 and a recent visitor to ‘Hitler’s Berlin’. Sharp was astute enough to see that Hitler had conquered ‘the minds and hearts of all classes of Germans’, and in a nod

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to the democratic sensibilities of British readers he confirmed that if there was an election, the chancellor would win by an ‘overwhelming majority’. It was a ‘real Revolution’ that had to ‘be seen to be believed’, but in reality it was only to be expected as the ‘delayed reaction of a great nation against the injustices and stupidities’ of Versailles. Indeed, the ‘strength and depth’ of the revolution were proportionate to the ‘enormity of the blunders of the Allies’. Sharp gave the appearance of equivocation on the ‘Jewish Question’ but, like Bagnold, could not quite hide where his loyalties lay. Unfortunately, he surmised, legal persecution would carry on for the foreseeable future, but fortunately ‘without further violence’. After all, he explained, throughout the ‘hard years’ which were worse than foreigners could imagine, Jews had ‘accumulated against themselves, justly or unjustly, a tremendous mass of popular hatred as food profiteers, usurers, antinational intriguers, and so on’. German suffering and Jewish malignancy were intertwined in a way that contained enough familiar themes for his readers to comprehend. It was Sharp’s understanding of German suffering that compelled him to explain why Britons should accept Nazism as a permanent fixture, a fixture ‘as long as that of Mussolini’s rule in Italy, Stalin’s in Russia or Kemal’s in Turkey’. This was a fact that should be faced ‘at once’. As a final flourish, he believed, Hitler would probably establish a ‘constitutional monarchy with a monarch … who owes his title to the Reichstag as our own monarchs since 1689 have owed theirs to Parliament’.259 Germans, like Britons, would travel the same path; he believed they were too similar not to. The News Chronicle’s correspondent was the Liberal MP, Robert Bernays. Bernays was from an old Jewish family, long since Christian. In a full-page article, a version of which also appeared in the Contemporary Review, he noted that although violence had largely ceased, ‘atrocities to-day are more calculated and systematic.’260 He supported the idea of a Jewish relief fund but recommended that ‘moral pressure’ be applied. Yet, his indignation gave way to an analysis of German antiSemitism. He believed that the post-war sufferings of Germans had been exacerbated by Jews who had ‘flaunted their riches’, adopted a ‘mocking, cynical, destructive kind of outlook’ and ‘made vast profits

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out of the inflation’. In a mish-mash of positive and negative stereotypes, Bernays concluded that the ‘real crime’ of the Jews was to be ‘cleverer’ than Germans, thus inflaming the latter’s ‘inferiority complex’ into ‘a persecution complex.’261 In this assessment, Bernays assumed two things. First, a kind of unhealthy complexity that he believed characterised ‘Jewish’ thought, and second, a simplicity and perhaps more than that, a vulnerability, in the ‘German’ makeup. He placed both groups in a hierarchy. Germans were most like the English and somehow deserving of compassion, whilst Jews, as the opposite, were cast as wily predators.262

a necessary corrective Many in Britain were convinced that the situation in Germany was stabilising and the reassertion of ‘Germandom’, guided by the Nazis, was a necessary corrective. Interest began to wane. The Board of Deputies mournfully reported that what was happening in Germany was ‘tending to lose its novelty and so its news value’.263 Neville Laski spoke regularly to Vansittart, who noted with pleasure that press coverage about Germany was ‘less prolific’.264 Indeed, Vansittart prompted Laski to keep a lid on protests and to avoid ‘fiery speeches’ because people were ‘tired of having “Jew” dinned into their ears’.265 Nonetheless, Jewish leaders pressed ahead. A meeting at Queen’s Hall in late June was covered in the national and local press, but it was not headline news. Although some papers announced it was the first meeting of its kind since the Armenian massacres, it had proved impossible for Jewish organisers to secure a venue symbolic of national feeling, such as Mansion House or the Albert Hall. This reflected official obduracy and lack of widespread support.266 Lang’s presence seems to have been secured as the result of a kind of compromise on the part of British officialdom, and only because the more prestigious venues were refused.267 Members of both Houses were invited to attend, as were certain scholars, authors, and journalists but it is unclear how many accepted. Lord Buckmaster, the liberal judge and renowned public orator, presided. He smoothly explained to the audience that it was ‘not intended to be a



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meeting of people protesting against wrongs from which they are suffering, but of independent, fair-minded people who are well-wishers of Germany, protesting against a cruel wrong and injustice’. Emphasis was meant to fall on the first part of the sentence. In the same spirit, Lang concluded that it was not just German Jews ‘who were suffering’, but ‘increasingly their fellow Christians’.268 A report of the meeting appeared in the East London Observer. The article, written by a Jewish writer who attended, lacked the self-congratulatory tone of other reports. Dismissing the event as a ‘Church meeting’, the writer criticised the promoters for having ‘one eye on their own affairs and the other half shut on the atrocities.’ Naturally though, he continued, ‘in this crisis we welcome any ally, even though his motives in joining us are not altogether of the disinterested type.’ He quoted from the Jewish Chronicle, which had reported that: Those who have made it their business to test non-Jewish opinion on the question of the Nazi abominations must have become increasingly sensible of a growing belief that the wrongs done to our German brethren have been greatly exaggerated. One hears statements to that effect on all hands.269

Differing reports of the meeting gave an indication of the gap in attitude between those protesting out of a sense of duty, tradition or benevolence, and those protesting out of desperation. The last public ‘protest’ meeting of 1933 was held in October, this time at the Albert Hall. The main speaker was Albert Einstein. Having the feel of a managed affair, it was not exactly a protest meeting but rather a ‘gala evening’ to celebrate the achievements of the Academic Assistance Council. This is probably why it was broadcast on the BBC.270 During the meeting, Sir William Beveridge announced that only refugee scholars who could contribute something to Britain would be admitted, while Austen Chamberlain’s vote of thanks included an observation on how unaccommodated refugees could become an irritant.271 The New Statesman described the meeting as ‘quite unpolitical … In no speech was there an appeal to passion against the Nazis … No political attack on Hitler was permitted: the urgent question of what the world is to do about Nazi barbarism was not raised.’272 It also suggested that the Foreign Office had surreptitiously counselled prospective attendees to boycott the meeting, an accusation Geoffrey Dawson did not deny, although he felt obliged



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to defend himself against the charge that he had deliberately submerged the report in The Times. He retorted that it ‘occupied a column on a very crowded night’.273 The Evening News denigrated Einstein’s appeal to the traditions of European humanitarianism and intellectual freedom, claiming it was ‘a piece of alien agitation on British soil’.274 Even the respected journalist and literary critic, Desmond McCarthy, chided the periodical’s editor, Kingsley Martin, for the New Statesman’s critical coverage because there had been ‘much too much about the Jews’.275 In a similar vein, it was around this time that H.G. Wells warned his audience at a literary luncheon not to let the ‘advertising and monopolising energy’ of Jews, who were a ‘viciously and incurable nationalist race…blind them to the reality of what was happening in Germany. The German affair was not a pogrom. Jews made the most noise, but it was not only Jews who suffered’.276 Although the issue of German Jews was no longer deemed particularly newsworthy by about June 1933, ‘objective’ writing about Germany itself never really went out of fashion. Publishers rushed to meet the public demand. One of the first to publish in 1933 was Vernon Bartlett. His high profile, the book’s populist style and its pithy title, Nazi Germany Explained, helped guarantee him a sizeable readership. Bartlett sought to answer his readers’ doubts and soothe their fears. Along with many other books that later appeared on the subject, he gave the impression of neutrality by professing only to provide the facts in order that readers could ‘judge without prejudice’.277 The book reiterated all that he said in defence of Nazi Germany over the radio. Additionally, and largely missing from his broadcasts, he discussed Jewish persecution, listing the methods used for squeezing and denuding the Jews of their rights. There was, he argued, ‘nothing to be gained by printing long accounts of the sufferings of individual victims’ because: The destructive side of the German Revolution has been so widely commented upon outside Germany that it already leads many people to condemn the whole German race as uncivilised and deserving of all that was said or written against it in the heat and bitterness of the last war. This book has two aims that are not in every case compatible with each other: it seeks to give an objective account of the German Revolution and also to plead for a little more patience and understanding on our part before we set ourselves up to judge it.278



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Essentially, Bartlett advocated ‘fair play’ as a plea for understanding, not the Jews but the Germans, and by Germans he often meant Nazis. He provided a list of mitigations for the violence. Among others these were: Stormtroopers had been ‘taught’ to hate; those guilty of violence had been ‘sent to concentration camps’; they were only ‘very young men’, and most Germans (including the Stormtroopers) did not know about atrocities. Having met the Führer more than once, Bartlett was keen to exculpate him from the anti-Jewish violence. Indeed, according to Bartlett, when confronted by atrocities Hitler ‘showed great distress’. A trustworthy source had informed Bartlett that Hitler was known to have said of the Jews that ‘one can hate in the individual but not in the mass.’279 Bartlett, the man who was perhaps Britain’s most prominent and apparently politically independent spokesman on foreign affairs, concluded that ‘if greater understanding of Germany’s point of view could be fostered abroad’, then ‘German aggressiveness would surely diminish’. This was due largely to ‘that large mass of right-minded Germans’.280 Condemning Bartlett for his credulity or his myopia misses the point. More pertinent is his explanation for taking the approach he did: In my desire to do what little I can to dissipate the sort of misunderstandings that lead to war, I may have given too favourable an explanation of the actions of Hitler’s men. I have, indeed, sought for explanations of much that disgusts me and fills me with despair. But I have not wanted to take the easier way, and to argue that these Germans are a race apart whose reactions are so different from our own that we need not even bother about them.281

Bartlett’s inner turmoil was plain. He knew the facts and he knew they were unpalatable. He wrestled with his conscience, to strive, to take the hard way, in order to show that Germans were worth the struggle. He thought that by meeting the Germans on their own terms he was fighting racism, fighting prejudice and fighting injustice. This was a principled stand that made atrocities against Jews seem like a price worth paying. Henry Hamilton Fyfe, the successful ex-editor of the Daily Mirror and Daily Herald and now a left-wing writer, described Bartlett’s book as ‘very sensible and fair-minded’, but it was no neutral tract.282 In fact, it was left to The Times to point out that the book would have been more convincing had it been more analytical and less subjective.283



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Other books published in 1933, such as Friedrich Sieburg’s Germany My Country, Major B.T. Reynolds’s Prelude to Hitler and the fictional The Cross of Peace by Philip Gibbs, also tended to endorse the popular belief in unjustified German suffering and sympathise too much with Germany’s new direction.284 Even The Brown Book of Hitler Terror and the Burning of the Reichstag, a collection of documents providing details of persecution suffered by opponents of Nazism, was, as Lord Marley stated in the introduction, not meant as a fight against Germany but ‘a fight on behalf of the real Germany.’285 Bartlett’s views reflected a growing trend. When it came to Germany, being seen to be ‘fair’ was a prerequisite for being taken seriously. Lord Noel Buxton, the left-liberal humanitarian who had played a pivotal role in raising awareness of the Armenian plight, wrote an article, ‘In Germany To-day’, for the Contemporary Review. In his opening remarks he felt obliged to say that ‘in England we hear only of the seamy side; in Germany one sees nothing of the ugly aspect, but much that is interesting and that makes a good impression. Each view is misleading unless one can keep the other in mind.’286 Thus, he gave ample space to adopt a pro-German or even a proNazi view, less space to injustices and ended with a so-called balanced conclusion. It was right to remember ‘outrageous treatment’ of victims but Germany, he argued, had not become ‘militarist’ and it was ‘fair to hear the case for the Nazi leaders’. Consequently, it was ‘unnatural’ to treat it as a ‘pariah state’. Instead, it was the statesman’s job to produce conditions in which ‘the outlook of Germans can become normal’; only then would international tension dissipate and Germany recover from ‘internal strife.’287 After 1933, Britons worked hard to assimilate the plethora of stories emerging from Germany into an ongoing narrative of German victimhood and a justified German recovery. This is not to say they did not struggle with news of violence, persecution and death – they did. But, there was a keenness to interpret German misdeeds generously and this was rooted in a commitment to fair play. The long tradition of British compassion was not forgotten, it was merely weighted more towards Germans than Jews. The rise of the Nazis marked another recalibration in the relationship between Britons, Germans and Jews.



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The Jews were now seen as an impediment to the implementation of just peace. Too much of what Hitler had to say about the perniciousness of Versailles chimed with broad British opinion. The plethora of negative Jewish stereotypes doing the rounds in 1930s Britain facilitated the deepseated desire to understand things from a German point of view. This was partly why commentators who played down anti-Jewish atrocities and played up German victimhood, often saw themselves as putting the record straight. After all this hard work, Germany’s decision in October 1933 to leave the League of Nations was a massive blow to hopes of peace and Britons knew it. It was not for want of trying. Britain had failed in its selfappointed role of ‘honest broker’, as Carolyn Kitching terms it, between France and Germany. Britain had failed because, on the one hand, government officials were unable or unwilling to ‘understand the depths of insecurity suffered by France’, while on the other, they went overboard in trying to understand Germany and meet ‘German demands’.288 Sir John Reith, Director-General of the BBC, gave Bartlett the job of clarifying the issue for the British public.289 Bartlett explained that Germany’s departure was about preserving ‘honour and justice.’ He reaffirmed his belief in ‘Hitler’s sincerity’, because he spoke for the ‘whole [German] nation’. Bartlett begged his listeners to ‘drop’ their ‘prejudices’ and maintained that the persecution of German Jews was no reason to deny Germany’s case. After all, he reasoned, ‘[t]wo wrongs don’t make a right’, therefore Britons must continue to try and understand ‘the German point of view.’290 According to Bartlett, following his broadcast ‘a bewildering number of people’ telephoned him to congratulate him on his talk, while of the ‘many thousands’ of letters he received, ‘well over 90 per cent’ of the correspondents supported him.291 A subsequent editorial in the Manchester Guardian reported that Bartlett’s broadcast, which was ‘admirable in spirit but partial in some of its details’, had been ‘widely discussed’ in Britain and ‘seized upon as giving evidence of approval in Britain of the German Government’s action’.292 It was an indication of how influential his talks had become. When one London paper printed a story that the Foreign Office had ‘reprimanded the BBC’ for the broadcast, a Manchester Guardian journalist sought confirmation, only to be told that ‘the statement was without foundation – that it was “a fairy tale.”’293



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Rather than criticism, Germany’s withdrawal from the League of Nations, seen by many Britons as the guardian of peace, was followed by a renewed endeavour to understand Germany and in particular to sympathetically interpret that country’s growing identification with Nazism. An English version of Hitler’s speech was made available and Foreign Secretary Simon’s anodyne broadcast from Geneva was clearly meant to soothe.294 Lloyd George, still a strong voice in politics, thought Germany had ‘a very strong case’. Lord Snowden, teetotal Nonconformist, former Chancellor of the Exchequer and one of the most significant figures in the early history of the Labour Party, was similarly inclined: ‘A people that has been suppressed and humiliated and kept in subjection for fifteen years, as they have, were bound to rebel sooner or later.’295 Note here the sense of resignation about Germany’s withdrawal from the League, because the League of Nations was about to become a very hot potato. It was to become central to a dispute about foreign atrocity that rocked the British government to its foundations.



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Unlikely Victims

t h e l e aG u e OF nat iOn s : sha n G ha i a n D a B Ys si n ia

The immediate post-war period witnessed a dramatic surge of public interest in foreign affairs. Britons were no longer disposed to accept unquestioningly decisions reached by a small group of men on the Commons front bench. This change of attitude was, perhaps, the quietest revolution against pre-war convention in a Continent seething with insurrection. The League of Nations, set up by the Paris peacemakers to end the possibility of another war, commanded considerable public support. At the forefront and acting as a mobilising agent and mouthpiece for majority opinion, was the League of Nations Union (LNU). With the Paris Peace Conference still in full flow, a well-attended meeting at the Albert Hall welcomed this truly international development. It was followed by ‘thousands’ of smaller meetings nationwide, most full to overflowing.1 But Britain was not suddenly pacifist. The issue of war was confronted square on and with a surprising degree of pragmatic optimism. In light of the apparent failure of old style ‘secret’ diplomacy, the League promised transparency and obeisance to public opinion. These were reasonable safeguards against the vanities of an untrammelled elite. The League Covenant, so christened by the American President Woodrow Wilson because he was ‘an old Presbyterian’, provided for a more democratic way of conducting nation-to-nation transactions and its central purpose, to prevent war, was based on relatively uncluttered precepts.2 Although all of its 26 Articles were bent on averting war, the 16th was the crux. War of all against all or some against some was to be displaced by war of all against



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one, the one being the aggressor nation. This would make any potential conflict short and comparatively bloodless.3 Its sheer simplicity went a long way to explaining the colossal levels of British support for the League and its Covenant in the interwar years. Politicians courted electoral oblivion if they publicly questioned the basis of the League of Nations. Yet, the League suffered an early, but far from mortal, blow. When Wilson’s sturdy support for it was cut down by his failure to achieve the required two-thirds majority in the Senate, some in Britain started to question the League’s validity. But America’s absence did not translate into hostility. Despite its isolationist urge between the wars, the United States worked, sometimes intimately, with the League and a united front was often distinctly probable when crises loomed. Moreover, with Britain’s empire intact and victory secured, America’s absence gave Britain preeminent status within the League, and with this came greater latitude to lead and act.4 This was widely recognised in interwar Britain, especially by the mid-1930s. Thus, British leaders often felt compelled to express their support for the League in public. In Britain, faith in the League flourished not just because it provided insurance against war. Its values chimed with the lore that Britons could and should display concrete concern for the fate of small nations and the welfare of oppressed peoples. Article 16 of the Covenant provided the means by which such values could be upheld; the legal basis for facing down the aggressor. Most Britons understood, with a mixture of grim realism and understandable reluctance, that in the last resort there would have to be recourse to the use of necessary force. This included the massively popular LNU, which understood that a League with teeth was essential for peace. As Conservative MP Vyvyan Adams wrote in 1933, ‘a vast number of people quite erroneously identify the words “pacifist” and “conscientious objector”. If pacifist means a friend of peace and an enemy of war, I am one. But if it means a conscientious objector I am not a pacifist.’5 Out-and-out pacifism was generally a minority pursuit.6 An unrepresentative minority, however, some of whom held key positions in the British government, thought differently about the League.7 Dislike, if not hatred of the League among certain National government politicians stemmed from their belief that it was an inconvenient irrelevance. They also distrusted what they saw as its congenital internationalism.



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Although prepared to rearm, they were not inclined to do so under the auspices of a League they distrusted. They aimed to extricate Britain from its commitment to the Covenant or, more specifically, to the parts requiring action. The League could be a moral force, but no more. This group of senior politicians and civil servants set out to discredit the League and deliberately render it ineffective. They knew this strategy would face considerable opposition in the country. The British public would therefore have to be reeducated. It was a risky strategy and there was to be collateral damage. The strategy ruined the political career of Samuel Hoare and tarnished the apparently unassailable reputation of Stanley Baldwin. More importantly, it left Abyssinians, Spanish Republicans and Chinese civilians exposed to the aggressive actions of authoritarian states. It also gave Hitler a green light for a bolder foreign policy. The precursor to these events, the one that set the ball rolling, was in 1931, when Japanese forces invaded the area in north-east China known as Manchuria.

shanghai The 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth had given Japan the right to guard a zone around the South Manchuria Railway. It was here, during the evening of 18 September 1931, that Japanese forces staged an explosion in order to accuse the Chinese of unrestrained banditry and damaging Japanese property. The Japanese Kwantung Army occupied the city of Mukden and quickly spread out to take control of the whole province.8 According to procedure, China reported the actions of its fellow member to the League, but Britain was inclined to side with Japan. The policy of ‘extraterritoriality’, the innocuous name given to colonial exploitation, had long been practised by Britain (and other major powers) in China and considerable British capital was invested there. Japan was seen as a civilising presence in the Far East, a reliable partner and ally in an unstable environment. Indeed, political chaos in China confirmed what many Britons already thought of its people. For years, Chinese immigrants had been portrayed in the press and popular literature as the ‘Yellow Peril’ and London’s small Chinese community had been tarred with notoriety for

0

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tawdry opium-induced lasciviousness. The popularity of Sax Rohmer’s fictional tales of Fu Manchu, the oriental criminal mastermind with his devastating (Western-imbibed) intelligence and a penchant for torture, did not help matters.9 His stories quickly became the staple of the big screen, whether silent or ‘talkie’. It was no wonder that when news of the crisis reached Britain, there was little sympathy for the victims of the Japanese, who anyway maintained they were protecting their interests and would retire when order was restored. This they did not do. There were stirrings of discontent in the left-liberal press about Japanese aggression. The Manchester Guardian, News Chronicle and New Statesman came closest to censuring the Japanese. The Guardian claimed to be ‘in despair’ and asked what hope was there if the British public cared ‘so little for the League and ha[d] so little faith in its machinery’ and the LNU stayed ‘dumb when the territorial integrity of China [was] flagrantly violated’?10 Right-wing opinion, now heavily represented in parliament after the emergency election of 27 October called on account of the world financial crisis, tended to think that Japan had a good case, perhaps concerned to protect British capital interests in China. Majority opinion followed suit. Opposition to Japan in the USA was more animated. Yet, when Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson, addressed a stern note to the Japanese, he was undermined by a flaccid response from Sir John Simon, the British Foreign Secretary, delivered through the pages of The Times. Thus far, humanitarian issues were difficult to identify. However, the mini-war that the Japanese started in Shanghai, ostensibly to protect their interests, was a different matter. According to Donald Jordan, before 1932 Shanghai was a teeming city of ‘opportunity and frustration’. Bedraggled Chinese arrived daily by foot or steamer searching for work. Refugees fleeing a catastrophic flood in the summer of 1931 added to the misery. Many died for want of food.11 In the International Settlement, home to British, American, French, German and Italian residents, things were different. The Settlement buttressed the northern banks of the Yangtze, where a vast array of military vessels served as a constant reminder of where the real power lay. But the most numerous non-Chinese presence was the Japanese. Although most Chinese workers were intent on survival, some nationalists, partly fired up by the massacres of Chinese residents in



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Japanese Korea and partly by the Manchurian onslaught, boycotted Japanese businesses.12 As a result, the Japanese issued an ultimatum to the Chinese Mayor of Shanghai, Wu Tiecheng, who accepted all the terms. Nonetheless, jealous of Japanese army successes and fortified by a generally low opinion of the Chinese, the Japanese navy attacked the Shanghai district of Chapei. A show of strength, it was believed, would force the Chinese to back down.13 Chapei was ravaged as foreigners watched from the International Settlement.14 Chinese civilian casualties in this densely populated area were high, not least as they were subjected to aerial bombardment before the troops went in. The 33 days of intense fighting between mismatched forces at the centre of China’s economic and political heartland captured world headlines for five weeks in early 1932. It was a deliberate attempt by the Japanese to divert global attention away from Manchuria. To an extent, it worked.15 But, it also galvanised British humanitarian sentiment, as Britons were reintroduced to the atrocious practice of the indiscriminate bombing of civilians from the air.16 Following the attack on Chapei, there was an unmistakable change in British attitudes towards the Japanese. Although Prime Minister MacDonald assigned ‘no blame’, The Times, which had close ties to the government, expressed its disapproval of Japanese aggression.17 Previously pro-Japanese, The Times’ newly found consternation could be detected in its description of the flotilla in Shanghai harbour as ‘an international police force’.18 Piqued by Japanese intransigence, it reported fully on the effect of bombs, which ‘exploded on the ramshackle and crowded houses of the Chinese town’ and were ‘estimated to have killed some hundreds of non-combatants’.19 The public backlash started straight away. Edith Pye, renowned organiser of international relief and champion of women’s rights, wrote a stinging letter to The Times in defence of Chinese culture. For the deaths of mothers and infants ‘penned in the crowded streets and flimsy houses, prevented by iron barricades from seeking the shelter of the International Settlement’, she blamed those who had ‘done nothing to call a halt to the use of military force as an instrument of national policy’.20 Events in Chapei stripped away the complexities of international diplomacy and humanitarian concerns came to the fore. Dyed-in-the-wool supporters of Japan suddenly found themselves on



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the defensive, as they attempted to draw a clear distinction between events in Manchuria and those in Shanghai. But most correspondence from erstwhile Japanese apologists indicated the tide of public opinion was turning against Japan, as humane considerations mixed with imperial and capitalist interests and the fear of Chinese communism.21 Even the staunchly pro-Japanese Observer, under the editorship of J.L. Garvin, reported that ‘Japan Goes Too Far.’22 The Chinese population and its army was increasingly seen as worthy of compassion. The LNU added its considerable weight to the debate. A letter to The Times was signed by LNU executive members Lord Robert Cecil, Arthur Salter, former head of the economic and financial section of the League Secretariat, A.D. Lindsey, Master of Balliol College, Oxford, and Gilbert Murray. Not only did they refuse to distinguish between Japanese action in Manchuria and violence in Shanghai, they condemned outright the ‘unpardonable atrocities upon the civil population’. Believing British interests in China and elsewhere were best served by adherence to the Covenant, they warned that if the League did not act when ‘practically the whole world’ was willing to cooperate against Japan, then neither Britain nor anyone else could hope to benefit from the system when their interests were threatened.23 They believed that the future of the Covenant was ‘at stake’ and the ‘validity of collective treaties’ in danger of being undermined. This viewpoint was reinforced in a letter to the Manchester Guardian signed by another set of luminaries, such as scholar G. Lowes Dickinson, historian and socialist political thinker R.H. Tawney, Leonard Woolf and Arnold Toynbee.24 The affair was fast becoming a cause célèbre. Fighting continued until early March, when it was brought to a stuttering halt by the prompting of the League, the complicated, protracted and delicate negotiations of Sir Miles Lampson and Nelson Johnson, respectively the British and American Ministers to Peking, and the sheer presence of foreign arms in Shanghai. The other factor was the presence of a League Commission investigating the causes of the Manchurian crisis.25 Its chairman was Conservative peer Lord Lytton, a firm believer in collective security (the common colloquialism for the League system). When the Commission’s preliminary report was published in April 1932 it did not specifically call for sanctions against Japan, but made it clear that the Mukden incident could not be regarded



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as ‘legitimate self-defence’. The ‘Lytton Report’, as it was known in Britain, recommended that Manchuria should have autonomous status within China. It was widely understood in Britain that the League, under British guidance, had made every effort to remain fair. On 24 February 1933 Japanese delegates walked out of the League in protest. The Japanese became progressively more belligerent. This threatened the so-called ‘Open Door’ policy that protected British interests in China, which in turn caused British discontent with Japan to grow.26 In June 1933, Adams even advocated using Article 16 against Japan, believing the youth of Britain ‘would be ready to fight “in a just war”’.27 Perhaps more pertinently, in 1934 Lytton went public to criticise the government for failing ‘to appreciate the obligations of League membership’. He particularly condemned as ‘insincere’ the claim that Britain had fulfilled its League obligations because of the false implication that ‘the League is an entity apart from the States that compose it.’ This distinction became integral to the rhetorical and ideological argument concerning Britain’s League commitment. Supporters saw little difference between the League and its component countries, while critics emphasised the gulf between the two so as to discredit the former. Lytton argued that Britain as ‘friends of Japan’, as ‘principal naval power’ and with interests in China meant they were ‘better qualified…than any other State’ to take a lead. He also condemned the failure to reciprocate America’s advances.28 Within 18 months Lytton had turned into a vehement critic of the government’s disdain for the League. The defection of a recognised authority on international affairs who commanded cross-party respect was significant. Government inaction, evidence that Japan had deliberately flouted the agreed system of international security and growing European tension caused momentum to build behind League principles. This found manifestation in the 1935 ‘Peace Ballot’ and the Abyssinian Crisis.

Battle of ideologies The LNU, increasingly concerned about the diminishing power of the League, was nonetheless encouraged by the results of an experiment in public consultation carried out by the Ilford branch. As a result, they



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organised a nationwide vote to assess public approval for the Covenant in order to pressurise the government to ‘pursue a really vigorous League policy’.29 All main political parties professed wholehearted support for the League and all were approached to help with the organisation. Even though senior Conservative figures occupied conspicuous positions within the LNU, the party refused official support. But this did not stop grassroots Conservatives from helping out.30 Nor was the reticence of high-ranking Tories a barrier to an outcome that exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic of League supporters. That the LNU mobilised half a million activists to facilitate the eventual response should have provided some clue. In the end, 11.5 million people voted. Much has been written about the ‘Peace Ballot’, but the very term, which still pervades modern historiography, is misleading. This is because, on the crucial issue of whether Britons were prepared to uphold the Covenant by force, of the 11 million who voted there was an unambiguous majority. It is perhaps no wonder that Liberal internationalist, Labour activist and campaigner for collective security Philip Noel-Baker called it a ‘howling success’.31 Never before or since has British foreign policy been subject to such a direct public appeal, and for a group of politicians who were so adamantly opposed to the League, the ringing endorsement it received must have caused considerable consternation. The announcement of the result was one of two events that shaped responses to the impending crisis in Abyssinia. The other was a change of prime minister. On 7 June 1935, Stanley Baldwin swapped places with Ramsay MacDonald. Most saw this as a seamless change.32 However, in the realm of foreign affairs generally and Abyssinia in particular there was a significant difference in ideological emphasis between the two. Despite personal suspicions about the League, MacDonald had seen the Covenant as a method of achieving a ‘new mentality of peace.’ For him, the old system of diplomacy, that of ‘alliances and war’, was something to be eradicated.33 His socialist background meant he was less disconcerted than his Conservative colleagues by the prospect of peace based on internationalist principles. According to his biographer David Marquand, MacDonald could only ‘question his [foreign policy] assumptions, not abandon them altogether’.34



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Baldwin was a different matter. He harboured a deep distrust of the League. He believed that America’s absence was fatal to the League’s chances of success. As he commented to Vansittart during the Manchurian crisis, ‘you get nothing out of Washington’ except ‘words’.35 Just as telling was his attitude towards non-Britons. According to his friend Tom Jones, he ‘did not like foreigners of any kind’, and during his life as an elected representative, whether as prime minister or anything else, he could never bring himself to visit the home of the League of Nations in Geneva.36 Before his third and final stint as premier he was candid with Conservative supporters, telling his audience at a Glasgow meeting on 22 November 1934 that ‘a collective peace system’ was ‘perfectly impracticable’.37 In response to the LNU’s ballot, however, Baldwin changed his tune in public. Now, a matter of months later, he was glad that ‘a large volume of public opinion’ supported the government’s efforts ‘to maintain the authority of the League of Nations’. The League Covenant, he declared, was ‘the sheet-anchor of British policy’.38 Baldwin, who attempted to trade on his image as the ‘plain man’ of the people and a politician with no side, decided the time had come to play fast and loose with his reputation. While publicly endorsing the Covenant’s importance, he decided Britain’s commitment to it needed to be broken. This was not about the British public’s unwillingness to rearm. Indeed, the Birmingham Post, Baldwin’s favourite newspaper, accurately reflected public opinion: ‘peace-loving as this nation is it still believes in a need to resort to arms, in the last event to prevent or defeat aggression.’39 For Baldwin and senior colleagues, the Abyssinian crisis was less about Abyssinia or Italy and more an ideological battle over the terms on which Britain would be prepared to rearm.40 In fact, Baldwin already had a mandate to rearm under the auspices of the League, but he disagreed with its non-nationalistic premise. It was decided to wrest the initiative from League supporters and ‘re-educate’ an overwhelmingly proCovenant public.41 As Alfred Duff Cooper wrote with more candour than other protagonists could muster, the ‘opportunity of finally dissolving the ties that bound us to the decaying corpse of the League of Nations was unique.’42 Like Japan and China, both Italy and Abyssinia were League members and subject to its rules. In addition, they had signed a treaty in 1928 that



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bound both parties to arbitration in a potential dispute. But Mussolini craved an empire and wanted to avenge Italy’s humiliating defeat in 1896, when its colonialist ambitions were brought to a shuddering halt by Abyssinian defenders. The invasion of the north-east African country, so Lord Cecil claimed, was ‘common talk in Rome at least as early as the summer of 1934’.43 Simon privately signalled his concern over Italian troop movements near the wells at Walwal, widely acknowledged as Abyssinian territory, on 25 September.44 He also pointed out to Sir George Clerk, British Ambassador in Paris, that friendly relations between Italy and France, probably facilitated by wariness over Germany, meant that Mussolini could depend on a French ‘attitude of benevolent neutrality.’45 On 5 December 1934, the Italian military manufactured an incident between themselves and local tribes at Walwal. Abyssinian losses were disproportionately large, as Italian troops were supported by aeroplanes and tanks. However, Mussolini demanded that the Harrar Governor publicly apologise, salute the Italian flag, punish the ‘guilty’ and pay indemnities for Italian dead and wounded.46 The Times, with its close links to the government, portrayed the Abyssinians as ‘slave-hunters’ prone to committing atrocities and praised Mussolini for his ‘conciliatory spirit.’47 The behaviour of government representatives at the Stresa Conference in April 1935, where Britain was negotiating with France and Italy to reaffirm the Locarno Treaty and create a ‘front’ to counter German air force expansion, provided an early indication of the official line. Italian diplomats bluntly informed their British counterparts that when it came to Abyssinia they ‘could not exclude the possibility of force’,48 but the British government chose to do nothing to deter them through the collective apparatus of the League. Indeed, the standing instructions to Sir Sidney Barton, British Ambassador in Addis Ababa, were to guard against giving the impression that the Emperor, Haile Selassie, could rely on Britain’s support.49 Rather, with Baldwin’s accession to the premiership, all diplomatic efforts centred on finding a solution to potential Italian aggression by offering Mussolini vast swathes of Abyssinian territory. This policy was undertaken with the fate of the League at the forefront of official thinking. Warren Fisher, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and head of the Civil Service, wielded unprecedented power over the careers of higher



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civil servants and had apparently unfettered access to Baldwin and to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Neville Chamberlain. Fisher felt he had every right to ‘pronounce about public policy in the defence and foreign policy areas’,50 and on 2 July 1935, in a memorandum intended solely for Baldwin and Chamberlain, he outlined the rationale behind government thinking. He compared the League to Christianity. Just because, he wrote, the world did not practise ‘the ideals of its founder’ there was no reason to discontinue Christian teaching, so it was with the League. Just because ‘in 15 years it has not succeeded’ there was no reason to abandon ‘the League and what it should stand for’. He continued: We cannot pretend that the League is an effective instrument for world peace or that it is likely to become so for as far as we can see ahead. Whatever happens about Abyssinia, there is bound to be a further setback to the League. That, however, does not in my opinion mean that any of us need to desist from affirming and re-affirming the principles which it represents…The real value of the League is, in my judgement, as a world rostrum which can be used for the assertion of moral principles in the international sphere.51

Fisher provided for his masters moral justification for positive-sounding pronouncements on League principles even while they deliberately undermined the practical measures designed to keep the peace as enshrined in the Covenant. In other words, they could quite genuinely affirm their support for League principles, while actively working to undermine its practical applications. That same day, Chamberlain wrote in his diary that if the League failed to stop the war, ‘it would be practically impossible to maintain the fiction that its existence was justified at all.’52 Fisher’s disingenuous reasoning and Chamberlain’s unseemly enthusiasm for the death of the League help to explain the disparity between government declarations and actions over the next few months. One explanation for this attitude seems to be that the shadow of Chanak loomed over the thinking of key players in the Abyssinian crisis, especially the fear that France would not stand by Britain. Austen Chamberlain was concerned that if the government assented to sanctions under public pressure, then Chanak ‘would be repeated’.53 Moreover, Baldwin himself, according to his biographers Middlemas and Barnes,



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‘remembered the Chanak incident vividly and reminded the Cabinet that the League was not trustworthy’.54 Such attitudes extended to Italian supporters in the press. Lord Rothermere, proprietor of the Mail and vociferous supporter of Mussolini, boasted to Lord Beaverbrook, owner of the Express, that the results from a ballot organised by the Mail were overwhelmingly anti-League. Beaverbrook disagreed: ‘Ah’ he replied, ‘people you’ve trained to be Rothermereites … The people aren’t with you this time. Over Chanak when you pushed Ll[oyd] G[eorge] in 1922 they were with you. This time you haven’t a doggone man with you.’55 Like Rothermere, Italian sympathisers, who included the owners of the main newsreel companies, made every effort to portray the League and Abyssinia in a bad light, but they only seem to have reinforced greater conviction in those already committed to their particular cause, rather than making new converts. For instance, colonial administrator Sir Henry Hesketh Bell came out of the cinema convinced that Abyssinia was a land of ‘barbarism, squalor, degradation, and cruelty’.56 By contrast, the London correspondent of the Manchester Guardian reported in early October that although manifestations of public feeling in cinemas were ‘rare’, audiences were ‘proving a barometer of public taste and, by unaccustomed noise, of the depth of popular feeling’. He continued: Photographs of Mussolini and his two sons are now the signals for a storm of booing and hissing unknown hitherto in these palaces of entertainment, where laughter is usually the only collective sound which a British audience permits itself … For the Emperor of Abyssinia, who looks pathetically small in the contemporary newsreel, there is always a burst of cheering, more widely spread even than the clapping he receives.57

Newspapers responded to imminent invasion, growing interest and indeed burgeoning identification with the Abyssinians by printing maps of the potential conflict zone. Business was brisk in London shops and maps had to be reprinted to meet demand.58 Abyssinia increasingly preoccupied the public. A letter from Lord Olivier, Labour peer and uncle of the actor Laurence, to The Times also showed the way opinion was moving. ‘The fate of the League of Nations is obviously at stake in this crisis’, he wrote, and Britain was bound to ‘treaty’ and ‘covenant’ by ‘our honour as a nation and our humanity as a



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civilised people’. ‘Even if bloodshed’ in Europe was the ‘possible outcome,’ he asked, ‘why are we to decide that it is better for us to contemplate unconcerned the assured butchery and subjugation of Abyssinia?’59 Olivier’s view was said to have met with ‘almost universal approval’.60 One factor that contributed to increased empathy for Abyssinia was the rediscovery of its connection to Christianity. According to a James L. Cox, even though Abyssinians were ‘wild and undisciplined’, he believed that any past ‘barbarities’ were insignificant when weighed up ‘against the indiscriminate and horrible massacre of women and children now being organised’. After all, Abyssinia ‘cradle[d] some of the earliest Christian memories’, furthermore, its Christian tradition had ‘survived through the ages’.61 This straightforward application of Christian values did not go unchallenged. When George Lansbury, freed from the fetters of Labour leadership, called for a ‘truce of God’, he found support from ardent pacifist Canon H.R.L. Sheppard, who renounced war as a ‘denial of Christianity’ and invited those who shared his view to ‘send a postcard.’ As a result, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) was born.62 Such people were against all forms of force in international affairs. But belief in Christian pacifism had relatively few supporters and was speedily and robustly challenged by Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang, who called for ‘organised action’.63 William Temple, Archbishop of York, waded in with even greater vehemence. In a message broadcast over the BBC on 1 September 1935, he asserted that if the effective execution of the Covenant ‘involved the use of armed forces’, Britain ‘ought to be prepared to use them’ and ‘there was nothing un-Christian in that.’64 Later that month Temple went even further, condemning Christian pacifism as ‘heretical’.65 It is significant that two of the most influential church leaders had combined in muscular support for Abyssinia and the League. But Christianity was not the only reason Britons empathised with the Abyssinians’ plight. The tradition of liberal benevolence persisted. The same George Barnes who had favoured hanging the Kaiser saw the crisis as a ‘matter of international morality’, asking: Is there no outstanding and effective trumpet tongue among us now that could appeal to the country? One looks back wistfully to the days of Palmerston, and of Gladstone. There is, I am sure, the same sense of justice and fair play now as there was then, and to which appeal might

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be made with success. The mass of our people would respond if it were made a question of right and wrong … the principles of the Covenant will never be made effective until there are prearranged sanctions to enforce them.66

This tradition was invoked to support the closure of the Suez Canal, which was under the stewardship of Britain, to Italian traffic. No stranger to public campaigns of dissent and an ardent pro-Boer, Lord Craigmyle (previously known as Thomas Shaw), warned that the canal, ‘a monumental triumph of peace’, was about to be converted ‘into a huge and effective power in war’. For Craigmyle, ‘to use the Suez Canal as a convenience in the impending conflict, giving an unspeakable advantage in the passage of ships and munitions of war, is to distort the humane purpose of its construction to facilitate those very calamities which it is the duty of the League to prevent.’67 This, it was argued in a letter to The Times, was ‘incompatible with all canons of British justice’.68

Rising indignation On 18 August 1935, Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare warned cabinet colleagues that public opinion was ‘greatly hardening against Italy’. Even the right-wing Morning Post, he said, was ‘restive against Italian arrogance’ and a poll in the Yorkshire Post showed that three-quarters of north England was ‘behind the Covenant’.69 He admitted to Sir George Clerk that Britons ‘were deeply stirred’. It was not just ‘extremists or sentimentalists or fanatical people’ but the ‘general body of opinion’ that ‘regarded the League and the Covenant as an instrument’ of ‘collective security’.70 Hoare, the man charged with steering British policy during the crisis, was in no doubt as to popular feeling. Harold Nicolson recorded in his diary on 21 August 1935 the national mood of foreboding as the Italian invasion of Abyssinia looked increasingly likely. He jotted down newspaper headlines: ‘“Ramsay MacDonald says Worst crisis since 1914” … Opposition consulted.’ There was, he wrote, ‘a general crisis atmosphere’.71 Hoare and League of Nations Minister, Anthony Eden, sought the advice of political leaders



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and statesmen, including Lloyd George, Lansbury, Austen Chamberlain, Liberal leader Sir Herbert Samuel and Winston Churchill.72 All counselled, with varying degrees of emphasis, that any action should be taken within the auspices of the League. It was a measure of the impact of the LNU on public opinion that Eden’s conversation with Lord Robert Cecil drew the most considered response from the Foreign Office. Cecil had urged the government to circulate to all League nations, as well as to America and Japan, a formal unequivocal diplomatic commitment to the Covenant, although without referring specifically to Abyssinia or Italy. This, he believed, would have ‘an immense effect’ if stated ‘with all the force of a first class state proper.’73 That same day, 22 August, the cabinet decided to publicly declare where they stood.74 They chose the occasion of Hoare’s maiden speech to the League Assembly in September to announce this. As we shall see, it did not turn out as Cecil envisaged. In response to Cecil, R.J. Campbell of the Foreign Office composed an extraordinary memorandum, following a similar line to Fisher. Although in no position to dictate policy, it is feasible, as most of what he recommended was carried out, that Campbell was outlining the dominant views of Foreign Office colleagues and others in the higher echelons of government. The League, he argued, was ‘conspicuously incomplete’ and therefore, any attempt to stand by the Covenant would lead to war. However, because the government had not in any way acknowledged this, but had instead only: repeatedly asserted their intention of standing by their obligations under the Covenant, it seems incumbent upon them in the case of the present dispute to show every disposition to give to the existing procedure of the League in its present form an honest chance to prove itself. At Geneva in September, therefore, they must be prepared to stand by their undertaking.75

After questioning whether Britons would support war and whether British forces were strong enough to fight one, he outlined how the public would need to be re-educated. He believed they simply had not understood what was self-evident to him and his colleagues, that the League’s coercive mechanisms were fatally flawed. Crucially, he argued, the British public had confused the ‘principles’ of the League with its ‘methods’. Nonetheless, he had a solution. All that was required was



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for ‘public misapprehension’ to be corrected by separating the two in ‘the public mind’. This would enable the government to stand by ‘their obligations as regards the principles set out in the Covenant’ and yet leave them free ‘to decide their own line as regards the methods’. The League could then return to its ‘universal’ principles and possibly even ‘attract Germany, Japan and the United States of America to its fold’. It was understood that this new League would no longer have the means to enforce its precepts. Instead, it would have to rely on a moral imperative. In effect, this was a return to the old system of treaties and alliances in all but name. The content of Campbell’s memorandum was controversial enough, but other comments scrawled on the document were also significant. William Strang, the pertinacious head of the Foreign Office’s League of Nations Section, advised that if the League failed to deal with the Abyssinian crisis, then Britain must ‘consider’ withdrawing ‘from the League altogether’, or ‘try to remove from the Covenant’ the articles (including Article 16) which committed it to action.76 Also written on the memorandum, but without further comment, was ‘seen by Mr. Eden’. The government minister with responsibility for Britain’s commitment to the League of Nations raised no objections to its content. It was felt that when responding to Cecil, the ‘least said in reply the better’.77 It is a moot point whether France under Prime Minister Pierre Laval, if pressurised by Britain, would have adhered to its responsibilities under the Covenant. What we do know is that the British government was not prepared to try. On 24 August, Hoare provided information to Clerk in order to help him negotiate with Laval’s administration. Convinced that British government strategy would successfully undermine the League, Hoare’s task was to ensure that Britain was not blamed for its failure, as ‘the great strength of British public opinion’ was ‘behind the covenant’. Instead, other League members, or non-League nations or the League itself, must be held accountable. Following his statement in Geneva, and after Italy and Abyssinia had made their cases to the League, there would, he wrote, be an enquiry into the best way to employ sanctions. Britain would apply delaying tactics using obscure, unratified guidance for interpreting Article 16 of the Covenant. This implied ‘a process of gradualness in the application of any economic measures’.



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In the meantime, he advocated saying neither ‘too much’ nor ‘too little’ to French counterparts. The former would imply Britain was prepared impose sanctions ‘however futile’ and the latter would suggest that Britain regarded sanctions as ‘impracticable’. Hoare was fully aware that there was no middle way. Either the League stood up to aggressors or it lost all credibility. He had become embroiled in a strategy of smoke and mirrors that had all the potential for spiralling out of control. While impressing upon an increasingly animated British public that the government was carrying out their pro-Covenant wishes, Hoare was implicitly informing France that Britain would do no such thing. All this time, representatives of Britain, France and Italy were negotiating just how much Abyssinian territory Mussolini would get. No wonder Hoare closed with the admonition that Clerk should ‘treat this letter as entirely between you and me.’ When Hoare told his subordinate in Paris that it was ‘essential that we should play out the League hand in September’, he was implementing a bluff.78 Only it was not the Italians he was bluffing, but the British public. It was around this time that British officials started to talk about the possibility that Hoare’s Geneva speech might provoke Mussolini into carrying out a ‘mad dog act’ against British interests. Vansittart convinced Eden to mobilise the home fleet, just in case.79 With the Hood, the Renown and a flotilla of destroyers now anchored off Gibraltar, Britons were left with the impression that its leaders were at last embracing its role as a Great Power and providing a lead to the League. Eden had a word with senior staff at The Times to ensure events were given appropriate publicity.80 Buoyed up by the sudden show of naval strength, opinion was further roused by the prospect of the meeting in Geneva. The speech itself was a combined effort. Vansittart helped Hoare construct it, Neville Chamberlain went through it ‘paragraph by paragraph’ and Baldwin ‘endorsed it fully’.81 On 5 September, Baldwin, Hoare and Chamberlain had dinner because the latter two believed a discussion was ‘absolutely necessary’ and they preferred to ‘talk with our three selves, and with none of our other colleagues’.82 It is inconceivable that the speech was not discussed and probable that it was the main topic of conversation. The ground was carefully prepared. Hoare also informed Laval that British fleet movements were ‘unprovocative’ and warned him that his



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speech would show ‘moderation as regards the Abyssinian question, but resolution as regards the principles of the League.’ As Fisher and Campbell had advised, emphasis was on the word ‘principles’. The Foreign Secretary raised no objections when Laval made it clear that he would pass this information to the Italians.83 Hoare’s speech caused a sensation. His (and the government’s) apparently muscular stance was universally welcomed. He stated: In conformity with its precise and explicit obligations the League stands, and my country stands with it, for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety, and particularly for steady and collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression. The attitude of the British nation in the last few weeks has clearly demonstrated the fact that this is no variable and unreliable sentiment, but a principle of international conduct to which they and their Government hold with firm, enduring and universal persistence.84

This was the passage that received most attention, but in fact, the speech was suffused with caveats and compromises. Despite ostensible adherence to all that the League stood for, he implicitly criticised the attitude of Britons and the League and hedged on Britain’s level of commitment. His subsequent BBC broadcast went out of its way to let the Italians know that ‘whatever bitter things may be said’ they were ‘the words of a friend’.85 But opinion in Britain, having been fed a steady diet of enthusiastic pronouncements, saw what they expected to see – wholehearted commitment to the League and a determination to carry out Britain’s obligations. Regardless of political affiliation, the press fell over itself to praise the government’s statement of intent. For The Times and Telegraph it was ‘momentous’.86 The Manchester Guardian, a long-time critic of government ‘drift’, bathed itself in the new resolve: ‘no foreign master, then, for Abyssinia, and no conquistador, under the Covenant’.87 ‘League Ready to Follow Britain’ proclaimed the Labourowned Daily Herald, while the Liberal News Chronicle announced that Hoare’s address was a call to arms. Commentators universally praised the speech as quintessentially ‘British’, a ‘note of quiet firmness in the face of the threatened crisis’, ‘without rhetoric’, its tenor one of ‘studied moderation’.88 The Star encapsulated this upsurge of emotion, pointing out that ‘never, even in



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the great days of Palmerston, had the voice of England been heard in the councils of Europe to finer effect than it was in Geneva.’89 Periodicals and regional papers carried the same message. Even the New Statesman, which had continued to articulate a pacifist position throughout 1933 and 1934, advocated sanctions.90 Interesting was the response of Lord Lothian (aka Philip Kerr). Regardless of his posthumous reputation as an arch-appeaser of Hitler’s regime, on this occasion, in an address to the Lords in October, he declared that Britain was ‘bound to see the League policy through’. What he meant by this was confirmed in a letter to Hoare. He urged that Britain must be prepared, if its military and naval strength was judged sufficient, ‘to cut Italy’s communications with East Africa in order to stop hostilities and force her to negotiate’. ‘If necessary’, he concluded, ‘we should take this action without the pledged support of France and other powers.’91 The government reaped the rewards of Hoare’s speech. Beforehand, only Eden had been credited with supporting the Covenant, but now Hoare was praised for taking a ‘stand beside his younger colleague; and behind both is that most typical of Englishmen, Mr. Baldwin’.92 Political opponents were equally impressed and Labour leadership contender, Herbert Morrison, declared the speech had the ‘overwhelming support’ of public opinion.93 Lloyd George was ‘confident’ that the nation ‘without distinction of party’ would support the government in any step to ‘implement the Covenant’, while Churchill declared himself ‘stirred’ by the speech.94 Hoare was ‘amazed’ at the reaction.95 He had underestimated public enthusiasm for the League and support for a policy of firm resistance to Italian aggression, but he did nothing to disavow the public of the impression he had given. Rather, senior government members made Hoare’s apparent proclamation its central election message. Baldwin’s National government won with an overwhelming majority in November.96 However, Baldwin’s reputation as a quintessential Englishman who, according to Arnold Toynbee, ‘might not be a genius, but who was unmistakably free from guile’, was about to be tarnished. 97



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losing the battle, winning the war On 3 October 1935 when the Italians invaded Abyssinia they were pretty much condemned without exception. Letters poured into newspapers and church leaders ranged themselves against the aggressors as a national appeal was launched for the British Ambulance Service in Abyssinia. The executive Committee of the National Railwaymen’s Union instructed its members to refuse to transport war supplies for Italian use.98 The LNU executive declared that ‘the whole force of the League should be used to stop the war.’99 In addition, over 6,000 people attended a LNU meeting in the Albert Hall on 30 October where, to a man, they declared themselves in favour of any ‘measures which the League may deem necessary to maintain the provisions of the Covenant by collective action.’100 Speakers included Cecil, Austen Chamberlain, Violet Bonham Carter – Asquith’s daughter and a prominent humanitarian activist – and Herbert Morrison. Cecil thought the meeting ‘a rather remarkable occasion’.101 As anger grew, senior government members and their press allies used public platforms to ease a very different message into the public discourse. For Eden, the crisis was ‘a test case’ of whether the League could act as an ‘effective instrument’.102 The Times reinforced this message, arguing that if League members were ‘prepared to tolerate inactively a concrete and unequivocal act of unprovoked aggression, then the Covenant and the Pact of Paris are dead’. If this was the case, then ‘the world specifically abandons its greatest effort for the restraint of war’.103 They were setting the League up for a fall. Hoare went even further by suggesting he was the first nonItalian who recognised that Italy had a ‘case for expansion and economic development’. He therefore proposed using the ‘breathing space’ before sanctions kicked in to attempt a ‘settlement’.104 But these statements were either drowned out in the cacophony of protest at Italian warmongering or because nobody, largely due to Baldwin’s reputation, believed the government would be capable of such a Machiavellian scheme. League advocates started to get wind that something was amiss. NoelBaker wrote to Cecil to warn him that an ‘unimpeachable source’ had sounded out European diplomats about the League being ‘turned into a purely consultative body for conference and conciliation’. ‘Now’, he added, he could make sense of ‘Baldwin’s references to post-election attempts to



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bring in the states outside the League, and the vague hints in the Government press about a “reform” of the League and a “new foreign policy”’. He concluded, ‘the League is in grave danger.’105 Rumours that the government meant to reach a ‘deal’ with Mussolini and do away with Articles 10 and 16 were now circulating freely in Geneva. However, as Cecil told Gilbert Murray, he did not believe such ‘slander’ and doubted that either Baldwin or Hoare would engage in this ‘very very sharp practise’ [sic].106 As preparation for the imposition of sanctions reached a crucial stage, British and French representatives colluded to postpone the relevant meeting.107 Hoare, encouraged by Vansittart and Eden, went to Paris to finalise an agreement he had been working on with Laval for the annexation by Italy of all Abyssinian territory so far occupied.108 Despite Eden’s promise to the British public, broadcast in August, that no ‘solution’ would be reached without consulting ‘the Ethiopian Government’, this is exactly what happened.109 Unfortunately for Hoare and the government, news was leaked to the French press and became common knowledge in Britain the following week, but not before the cabinet had agreed its content and put pressure on the Abyssinian government to accept the terms. They were faced with an unprecedented outburst of public indignation perhaps helped by The Times’ sudden volte-face. The Times, up until Hoare’s Parisian faux pas, had been a staunch supporter of the government line. However, for reasons that remain unclear – although fear of a drop in sales cannot be ruled out – its editor Geoffrey Dawson decided, albeit temporarily, to desert the government at this crucial moment. On 16 December, a leader appeared under the headline, ‘A Corridor for Camels.’ This editorial, which condemned the granting of a ‘makeweight’ strip of land giving Abyssinians access to the sea but refusing them the right to build a railway, expressed a widely held view.110 According to Duff Cooper, Secretary of State for War, when news of the Hoare-Laval agreement became public: there arose a howl of indignation from the people of Great Britain. During my experience of politics I have never witnessed so devastating a wave of public opinion. Even the easy-going constituents of the St. George’s division were profoundly moved. My post-bag was full and the letters I received were not written by ignorant or emotional people but by responsible citizens who had given sober thought to the matter.111



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Harold Nicolson wrote in his diary that the House of Commons was ‘seething’ as MPs were ‘swamped by a tide of indignant letters’.112 Hugh Dalton, Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, received an ‘amazing mail bag of letters’ on the subject.113 A ‘sheaf of telegrams of protest’ was delivered to Baldwin’s office. However, following a visit from Vansittart during which he assured the prime minister that he thought all had gone well in Paris, Baldwin, according to Vansittart’s personal secretary Clifford Norton, was ‘heartened’ enough that he threw ‘the whole bunch of papers into the air, where they floated for a moment like a cloud of pigeons’.114 Yet, a few days later, the difference between Baldwin’s public and private personae became clear when he informed the Commons that, ‘I know that something has happened that has appealed to the deepest feelings of our countrymen, that some note has been struck that brings back from them a response from the depths.’115 Doubtless, Baldwin thought he was acting from the best of motives and that his chosen course was for the good of the British people, but his decision to render the League ineffective was to have dire consequences. Letters to newspapers and MPs showed that complaints fell broadly into three categories. First and foremost, there was a sense of betrayal concerning League principles and Abyssinian victims.116 Second, there was dismay that the government had broken faith with democratic principles. One correspondent could not believe that Baldwin ‘of all men’ had backed ‘proposals which make his many fervent declarations concerning the League, sound false.’ If this had been known prior to the election, the writer claimed, Baldwin ‘would have been swept (politically) out of existence.’117 Another fumed that he had voted for Baldwin out of personal admiration. However, he now considered that he was ‘only one of many thousands who will regret having so voted if the stand which Great Britain has so far made for international justice is abandoned, and Abyssinian rights are sacrificed to pacify her aggressor.’118 Third, many felt personal shame over Britain’s ‘national humiliation’.119 Two writers, although ‘unacquainted with the finer points and details of foreign affairs,’ were ‘tremendously concerned that the eternal principles of truth and justice should be vindicated in international affairs’ as they were at home. The ‘country’s honour’ was their ‘own’.120



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Although in the public mind ideas of national honour meshed quite easily with the precepts found in the Covenant, for Baldwin and his colleagues the two ideas were mutually exclusive. The action of the government broke an election pledge, which stated that their ‘attitude to the League’ was ‘dictated by the conviction that collective security by collective action can alone save us from a return to the old system which resulted in the Great War.’121 The ‘old system’ was precisely what they were trying to recreate. The government had been caught out attempting to manipulate an issue that was central to the memory of the last war. New MPs dismayed by an unprecedented public backlash required a sacrifice. This was to be Hoare. The government’s fight-back started with Hoare’s resignation speech. It won the sympathy of his Conservative colleagues and marked the realignment of the new parliament along party lines. Lord Halifax came closest to publicly admitting the government had no intention of surrendering its policy of undermining the Covenant. He was referring to national loyalty, rather than loyalty to the League, when he told the Lords that ‘in the long run these events may even serve to win a new loyalty to the better international order that we seek to create.’122 Although the government increasingly faced charges of lack of leadership, in truth, it was leading but not in the way that most perceived. The cost, in the short term, was Abyssinian lives. It had been Britain’s policy to implement an equal embargo on the sale of arms to both Italy and Abyssinia. In reality, this left the wellarmed Italians with an overwhelming advantage. British officials were also in receipt of intelligence that Mussolini’s troops were developing and testing poison gas and that the Italian dictator was keen to finish the job before the rains came.123 News of atrocities coincided with news of the Hoare-Laval agreement and this served to stoke public indignation. Italian bombing of Red Cross positions became headline news and newspapers published photographs of Abyssinian air-raid victims.124 Punch printed cartoons lampooning Italian claims that they represented civilisation, while emphasising the defencelessness of their quarry. Resonant phrases, the ones that occurred whenever Britons were moved to compassion, seeped into the debate. The Spectator adopted CampbellBannerman’s pro-Boer phrase ‘methods of barbarism’, whilst the New

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Statesman alluded to Italian ‘frightfulness’.125 When Italian supporters such as editor of the English Review and fascist sympathiser, Douglas Jerrold, attempted to compare public ire to that directed at the Germans in the Great War, nobody took any notice. The publication of the Italian writer C.G. Baravelli’s The Last Stronghold of Slavery was dismissed by The Spectator as ‘propaganda pure and simple and only worth mentioning for its disingenuousness’.126 The Times published a telegram from T.A. Lambie of the Red Cross on the effects of bombing on soldiers and civilians in Waldia and Kworam. Hundreds had been blinded or maimed by mustard gas, and in Wallo thousands of peasants would ‘be groping their way down the dark years because of a dictator, whose name they have never heard of, but whose decree of ruthlessness has put out their eyes’.127 For Sir Henry Hesketh Bell, whose attitude had apparently changed from the previous July, anyone who read The Times could not fail to feel ‘horror and indignation’.128 Cecil read out Bell’s letter to the Lords, describing Italy’s action as ‘perhaps as horrible and shameless a thing as has ever been done, even in the bloody annals of warfare.’ Lord Halifax, answering for the government, admitted that criticism and condemnation of Italy came from across the political spectrum.129 As if to underline the point, on 7 April, 22 women’s organisations and a number of publicly prominent women, including Conservative Nancy Astor, Liberal Violet Bonham-Carter and Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson, declared they were ‘deeply moved’ by the suffering. They joined together to protest about ‘the deliberate bombing of the Red Cross units’ and the ‘inhuman use of poison gas’.130 The New Statesman was not exaggerating when it wrote that the bombing appeared ‘to have struck people’s imagination in England’.131 Even The Times, which by this time had returned to the government fold, had to acknowledge that public opinion had ‘been deeply stirred’ by the poison gas attacks on Abyssinians.132 The Abyssinians were regularly endowed with so-called British values, a process that signified widespread identification with their plight. This was expressed in a number of ways. Prominent among them was the theme of the ‘plucky underdog’. For example, an F.E. Newton questioned, ‘are we to wait until the brave little people defending (as we would do) their country against a foreign invader are quite exterminated?’133 Many



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lamented the lack of a national figure to galvanise the populace, ‘no Gladstone, no Bright, no Campbell-Bannerman’, as one correspondent put it.134 Abyssinians were perceived as both an oppressed people and a small nation. They also had an empire. This meant they could be appreciated as fellow imperialists, albeit, as G.P. Gooch suggested, using methods that Britain was using a century ago, such as the slave trade. Even so, the implication was that Abyssinia was capable of progress. Abyssinian notables, who were bestowed with enlightened Christian values, would be the guarantors of this advancement.135 Abyssinia was sometimes even compared favourably with the British Empire. One of hundreds who wrote letters of protest to the News Chronicle accused the ‘Great British Empire, Defender of the Faith, Protector of the Weak, champion of the oppressed’, of standing by ‘supinely, inert, indifferent whilst helpless men, women and children are slaughtered, maimed and blinded by a vicious aggressor.’136 Notably, however, letters of protest now tended to criticise the League for failing to act decisively rather than the government. The government’s strategy appeared to be working. Eden, now Foreign Secretary, successfully staved off attempts to introduce more draconian sanctions over the next few months and in April he publicly questioned the authority of the League. He told fellow members that if it failed, ‘then we should each of us have to consider the policy which in that situation it would be our duty to pursue.’137 Chamberlain was more forthright, arguing that the ‘League’s weapons to-day will not shoot.’138 These comments preceded Baldwin’s speech to the Unionist Association in Bewdley, his own constituency, where he could be sure of a warm reception. In accordance with government’s strategy of an emphasis on League ‘principles’ rather than methods, he affirmed without hint of irony, but not without cynicism, that ‘we want the Covenant of the League to become the law of the world.’ He then returned to his anti-League incantations, blamed both sides for using poison gas and told his audience that the League did not possess ‘effective machinery for stopping a war’.139 A clear sign that Baldwin was reasserting hold over his party came at the end of April, when senior Conservative figures started either to resign from the LNU or to overtly criticise the policy of sanctions.140 ‘All the talk in the lobbies and smoking rooms’ of the Commons, reported



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The Spectator, was ‘centred around “the reform of the League”, or in other words, decent burial of Article XVI.’141 On 6 May, the day after the Italian victory, Eden confessed under pressure from his Commons shadow, Hugh Dalton that ‘without doubt, a blow’ had ‘been struck at the structure of the League and the conception of collective security.’142 It was also widely rumoured in early May that Samuel Hoare was to return to the cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, which turned out to be true.143 For Collin Brooks, this announced ‘the abandonment of the Sanctions policy.’144 Hoare’s brief moratorium from government did nothing to change his opinion that Britain should only be ‘prepared to fight’ from selfinterest. He told the Unionist Canvassing Corps that Britain should only commit itself to ‘vital imperial issues’.145 Eden concurred. The ‘manifest failure of the League,’ he announced, ‘which has rightly been tried out to the uttermost must be admitted and remedied “in a spirit of candid realism”’.146 Chamberlain was more blunt when he condemned the continuation of sanctions as ‘the very midsummer of madness’, but rather nebulous when promising to search for ‘other and better solutions’. Nonetheless, he spoke in accordance with the agreed format by suggesting that the League and the ‘ideals’ for which it stood should not be abandoned.147 It was to act as a moral influence. Free to return to pre-war foreign policy, the government could now decide without the encumbrance of humanitarian considerations, external forces, or the League, what it was prepared to fight for. Certainly, this did not include Abyssinia. On 21 June, Baldwin announced the end of sanctions.148 Just before the Conservative-dominated Commons voted to drop them, Baldwin goaded the opposition: ‘I understand that hon. Members opposite are going to launch a great campaign against this Government on what we have done in regard to the League of Nations … I welcome it … the country will be educated. That is wholly to the good.’149 The government had regained the initiative, but the price to be paid for Baldwin’s ideological stance, for his desire that Britain be ‘self-contained’, as he admitted to his friend Thomas Jones, would be high.150 Baldwin’s biographers suggest that Hoare’s resignation was ‘the first major defeat on the British tradition of pragmatic foreign



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policy’.151 This is wrong on two counts. First, it was not a defeat. Hoare’s forced resignation was one lost battle in a string of government victories. Second, to call this type of foreign policy ‘pragmatic’ grants it insurmountable status. It is certainly arguable that curtailing sanctions and rendering the League ineffective not only allowed Mussolini free rein, but also encouraged Hitler. Horace Rumbold’s successor as British Ambassador to Berlin, Eric Phipps, stated that in the early years of Nazi rule that: an understanding with England was the avowed aim not only of Herr Hitler and the Nazi Party, but of almost all Germans in every walk of life. The policy expounded in Mein Kampf won universal approval. ‘To conciliate the favours of England no sacrifice would have been too great’, writes the Führer of pre-war Anglo–German relations. Similar sentiments were expressed in every conversation at which an Englishman was present. Although it was not always apparent to us, the privileged position of Englishmen earned the envy of other foreigners. It was in deference to English public opinion for example that…the colonial question was kept in cold storage, and that the persecution of Jews and political prisoners was mitigated. Such concessions, it may be argued, do not amount to very much, but they were regarded here as very important and they were made to no other nation. British influence and prestige reached its height towards the end of 1935 when, for a brief space, it was thought that England at the head of the League, might succeed in stopping Signor Mussolini’s Abyssinian adventure. The victory of Italy opened up a new chapter. It was inevitable that in a country where Might is worshipped English prestige should then fall. The German began to ask himself whether it was necessary to conciliate a Power, without whose favours Italy seemed to be doing very well.152

Throughout the Abyssinian crisis Germany was in the process of rearming, and it was Germany that Vansittart saw as the main threat to European peace, which might explain why he made the strategic error of working so hard to keep Mussolini on side. But Vansittart’s view was in the minority. Baldwin and other senior figures who went out of their way to discredit the League held an essentially pro-German policy. Eden noted in his diary on 20 May 1936 that he had talked ‘with S.B. in evening. Did not get much out of it save that he wants better relations with Hitler than Musso – we must get nearer to Germany’.153 As for the British public, indignation over Italian aggression was much greater than any



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directed towards Germany. Four days after Hoare’s speech in Geneva, the implementation of the infamous Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised German Jews passed with little comment in Britain.154 A small article tucked away in the Manchester Guardian pointed out that the laws: hardly received the attention outside Germany that they deserved. The reasons for this are easily to be found. First the Abyssinian crisis is so much in the foreground that all other questions scarcely find space in the columns of the press. Secondly, it is generally believed that the new antiJewish laws of the Nazis hardly bring any change in practice, but only legalise a status which has already been in existence for some time.155

The article also referred to the Saar plebiscite. The territory had been placed under a League of Nations mandate by the terms of the Versailles Treaty. January 1935 was perhaps the last opportunity for the majority German population to legitimately express their opinion while the world was watching. They voted overwhelmingly to return to Nazi Germany. As part of the conditions of transfer, the German government had signed a treaty declaring that for one year there would be no discrimination against inhabitants for reasons of political opinion, race, or religion.156 The Nuremburg Laws, which were also implemented in the Saar territory, were a clear breach of this international agreement, but few were listening. Instead, The Times directed its readers to an ‘inspired commentary on the “Jewish Laws”’. This suggested, like the Guardian, that the laws ‘merely’ legalised the situation already in existence and were ‘of minor significance’, while the New Statesman, although denouncing the laws as ‘medieval’, declared they offered ‘German Jewry the process of law in place of arbitrary bullying and local tyranny’.157 There was a clear discrepancy between the emotions stirred by the sufferings of Abyssinians and those endured by erstwhile German Jewish citizens just over the channel. Two factors, both occurring in early 1936, were designed to highlight to Britons the way German Jews were being ostracised. First, the American diplomat, James McDonald, the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Coming from Germany, resigned on account of overwhelming inertia with respect to his mission. This received a good deal of publicity.158 Second, The Yellow Spot was published. This claimed to be ‘a collection of facts and documents relating to three



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years’ persecution’ that had been ‘carefully assembled by a group of investigators’.159 The Bishop of Durham, the same Herbert Henson who had so robustly defended the ‘Good Germany’ in the Great War, hesitated before providing its introduction, but was ultimately convinced of the ‘substantial trustworthiness’ of the evidence. After referring to McDonald’s resignation, he nonetheless wrote he was ‘certain’ that Germany contained: a vast multitude of citizens who secretly abhor the barbarities which they are compelled to witness, and in some sense to inflict. We are assured that the Nazi regime is maintained by the Young, and regarded with dismay and dislike by the Old. Certainly it possesses the wellknown characteristics of Youth – precipitate and ruthless logic, fierce intolerance, contempt for the lessons of experience, recklessly thoroughgoing methods. But, even so, there is ground for hope. Youth is generous, quick to learn, quick to unlearn, frank in its repentance, eager to make amends for its wrong-doing. As one who has had rather special reasons for holding Germany in high regard, who has an unfeigned admiration for her intellectual achievements, who has often in the past visited with delight her historic cities, and recalled the wonders of her history, I cannot bring myself to believe that the persecution of minorities, and among them specially of the Jews, which now stains the national name, can be more than a passing aberration.160

Henson’s riders and qualifications cannot but have had a mitigating effect on the subsequent proof of inhuman treatment meted out to German Jews. Reviews, such as that which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, reinforced his message by suggesting that most Germans would have objected ‘if they were at liberty to do so’.161 Moreover, with the outbreak of public anger over Italian atrocities and with Germany’s remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the book was pushed into the background. On 7 March 1936, Hitler summoned the Reichstag and informed rapturous deputies that German troops were advancing into the Rhineland. Bordering on France, Belgium and the Netherlands this region had been occupied by Allied troops (now largely departed) under the terms of Versailles in order to safeguard these countries from attack. Celebrations broke out in the Rhineland and Germany. The Observer reported that in Berlin, ‘bells were rung, flags run up’, Mainz was ‘a city of happy people’, Coblenz ‘went mad with joy’, and in Cologne ‘the



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sonorous voice’ of the Cathedral’s Big Peter sounded ‘above the rejoicing crowds’.162 Without doubt Germans were enthused by Hitler’s gamble, but the question remained whether France or Britain, or both, would counter Hitler’s blatant breach of the conditions set out in the Treaty of Versailles. This was not to be. While the French government did nothing, British leaders, according to Richard Evans, ‘moved quickly to restrain any precipitate response’.163 Harold Nicolson noted in his diary that the ‘feeling in the House is terribly “pro-German”.’164 He warned a select audience at Chatham House that ‘Germany is Hitler’ and ‘Hitler is Germany.’ But he was in the minority at the meeting. Having received many letters from around the country, the educationalist and peace campaigner, Dr Maxwell Garnett, claimed most correspondents sympathised with Germany. Harry Powys Greenwood, author of The German Revolution (1934), went further, declaring that most Britons were in favour of breaking with France and forging ‘an alliance with Germany’.165 The British press was virtually unanimous in siding with Germany. In short, the public appeared to accept the view of Lord Lothian, one of Germany’s (and Hitler’s) most ardent defenders during the 1930s, that they were merely reclaiming what was theirs. Eden’s taxi driver, for instance, mused out loud, ‘I suppose Jerry can do what he likes in his own back garden, can’t he?’166 Eleanor Rathbone, responding to a talk subsequently given by Sir Norman Angell, wrote that: judging by the letters and articles in the press, the country was giving way to a wave of what might crudely be described as Sentimental ProGermanism. Some months ago public opinion had rescued us from the disgrace of the Hoare-Laval proposals. Now, led by the same honourable motive, but misconceiving the facts, it was throwing its weight on the wrong side. The motives were sympathy with the under-dog, whom they strangely imagined to be Germany.167

Germany as ‘the underdog’ was still the widely held view when, in July, news reached Britain of an assault by fascists on the elected government of Spain. But, as Spain became headline news, what was happening in Germany, once again took a back seat.



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at RO C i t i e s i n sPa i n : a m Om e n t OF u n i t Y

The Spanish Civil War had an unprecedented impact in Britain, not least because of its ideological resonance. For some, events in Spain were the key to preventing Bolshevism from entering Europe via the back door.168 For others, they confirmed the seemingly relentless march of fascism. As such, the war elicited passionate debate in an ideologically polarised atmosphere. As Observer correspondent Sheila Grant Duff later wrote, the civil war was ‘one of the great battles of human history and its mythic quality moved us all.’169 The Spanish Civil War began on 17 July 1936. The spark was an uprising by a coalition of disparate right-wing forces, led by General Franco, against the elected left-wing Republican government. As his Army of Africa marched north from Morocco to Madrid, they left behind a ‘horrific trail of slaughter’. In ‘one town after another, the occupying troops raped working-class women and looted their houses.’170 Those perceived as a threat to the rebel cause were identified and killed. Forces loyal to the government responded to the invasion with outbursts of violence against those elements in Spanish society which they thought supported the insurgents. For them, priests, nuns, policemen and the wealthy could be agents of an oppressive social system. According to Paul Preston, this involved ‘criminal acts, murder, rape, theft and the settling of personal scores’.171 But there was a fundamental difference. Whereas violence committed by government supporters lacked official sanction, brutality committed by insurrectionist forces was sponsored by the leadership or allowed to go unchecked. Franco’s intention was to instil dread into his opponents. Initially, representations of the conflict in Britain did not reflect reality. British officialdom was ideologically inclined towards the rebels. Franco was seen as representing the social traditionalism and fiscal orthodoxy of the pre-Republican order. Strong connections between British commerce and the Spanish aristocratic and upper middle classes reinforced shared social, cultural and political assumptions.172 Thus, when reactionary elements within the British diplomatic corps reported harrowing republican atrocities, the accounts found ready acceptance in ministerial and bureaucratic circles.173 What they thought they saw was



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a Spanish government impotent when confronted by the sort of anarchy they associated with the Bolshevik Revolution. They bracketed the Spanish Republican leadership with the weak Kerensky government that had fallen to rampaging communists in 1917 Russia.174 Soviet support for the Republican government did little to calm these fears. Yet the aid they gave to the Spanish government paled in comparison to the military aid provided by Germany and Italy to Franco. But British ministers could not be seen to question the legitimacy of the elected government. Also, they did not want to risk public agitation so soon after the Abyssinian crisis, therefore instinctive support for an invading force had to remain hidden from the public. The cabinet opted for a policy of ‘non-intervention’, which as Enrique Moradiellos points out, was effectively ‘tacit neutrality whose central aim was to avoid all direct or indirect help to the disowned government side and any hindrance to the rebels’.175 Part of the government’s reasoning was to avoid upsetting other powerful European nations, particularly Germany. Intervention, as The Spectator commented, would be ‘folly’ because of the risk of provoking Italy and Germany to ‘counter-measures’.176 Public debate on Spain was dominated by atrocity stories.177 At first, because representatives of the Catholic Church were targeted, British commentators portrayed the Spanish government as ‘anti-God’, while rebels were seen to represent Christian and civilising values. Within days of the outbreak of war, the Daily Express printed unsubstantiated gossip that republicans had killed thousands in Barcelona. The report was given credibility because its author, Sefton Delmer had considerable public prestige and this ‘set the tone’, according to Preston, ‘for much early reporting from the Republican zone’.178 The Times, cheek-by-jowl with the government, employed its usual wordplay in order to present, in the words of popular scientist and philosopher Julian Huxley, ‘the insurgents in a better, and the constituted authority in a worse light.’179 Although appearing dispassionate, the paper steadily promoted Franco, who stood for ‘law and order’ in a country it saw as not ready for a British-style democracy.180 In contrast, The Times highlighted the involvement of women and children in perpetrating republican violence, to emphasise the breakdown of familial structures and the radicalisation of society under alleged left-wing extremism.181 Republican violence was seen as



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a ‘war of extermination’ against traditional conservative values and ‘a necessary stage in the consolidation of the anti-Fascist revolution’.182 Atrocities committed by republicans presented the British left with a problem. They took to deprecating atrocity reports altogether, fudging the issue by suggesting both sides were equally culpable, invoking stereotypical images of an apparent Spanish propensity for violence, or accusing the right-wing press of exaggeration. On 20 July, Labour delegates at their annual conference passed an emergency resolution supporting Spanish workers and the Labour Party National Executive and the TUC General Council followed suit.183 However, Labour leaders, fearing a communist threat to their own movement, moved to ensure pro-Spanish initiatives did not stray beyond those with strictly humanitarian emphases. Yet this did not stop many Labour activists joining communists in pro-republican ventures.184 The left’s discomfort was short-lived. On 14 August, Franco’s forces marched into Badajoz near the Spanish–Portuguese border and massacred at least 2,000 people. The News Chronicle reported that: In each street there is a barricade, and each barricade is now almost literally a mountain of corpses. A red blood-stained wall at the Commandancia, perforated with bullets, shows the grim spot where some 2,000 men were executed by the insurgents…The ruined, bloodstained streets are haunted by the pitiful figures of women and children, dressed in deepest mourning, who move furtively about looking for the bodies of their loved ones.185

No longer could the fiction be maintained that both sides were equally blameworthy or, crucially as some preferred, that Franco and his North African troops represented civilising values. Events in Badajoz marked a turning point. There was a change of tone in the serious right-wing press. Their attempts to appear impartial became more studied, not least because a host of influential figures spanning the political divide wrote collectively to The Times to express their dismay over British policy. ‘For centuries’, they wrote: we have been proud of the fact that we have been pre-eminently a free people, and of the English institutions which have established our freedom in the face of every attempt to put in its place some form of irresponsible, militarist, or autocratic government. It has taken over 300

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years of our history to establish and consolidate this characteristically British freedom, and we have had to defend it at one time or other against our own kings, aristocracy, army leaders, and also against Spanish, French and German monarchs, dictators or conquerors. To-day in most of the States of Europe our ideal of individual liberty has been repudiated and all the institutions of political freedom destroyed. At the present moment in Spain a constitutional Government, elected by the people, is being attacked by a junta of generals, who, with the aid of Moorish troops, have declared their intention of destroying Parliamentary democracy in that country and of setting up in its place an authoritarian, military Government on the Fascist model…At any other time during the last 150 years of our history the sympathies of practically all classes in this country and of our Government would have been with the Spanish people and its Government in such a struggle of democracy against military despotism, and of freedom against Fascism.186

This passionate plea to do the right thing was based on a widely believed but particular ‘Whig’ reading of British history.187 It made no mention of the League of Nations, now successfully discredited, and only briefly referred to Germany, the main supplier of arms to Franco. British sympathies were starting to swing away from the insurgents. As Kingsley Martin pointed out, Franco’s: terrible declarations about not taking prisoners, about completely depopulating any district that held out against him, about grinding to powder the bones of his opponents – these coupled with the actual savagery of his methods, the massacres at Badajoz and elsewhere, have estranged British sympathy.188

As the humanitarian urge started to trump ideological differences, those who had publicly supported Franco quickly shifted position, some to downplay Franco’s actions and others to condemn them outright. For instance, newsreel companies, predominantly under right-wing ownership, ensured that Spain no longer occupied ‘key positions’ in the programming pecking order, whereas the Daily Express printed details of the savagery committed by nationalist forces.189 Correspondent Harold Pemberton admitted the rebels were ‘killing wholesale – mathematically and methodically – as a military expedient.’190 The Morning Post, also normally sympathetic to the rebels, used metonymic terminology when it announced their correspondent had been expelled from Nationalist territory for an incidental reference to ‘insurgent frightfulness’.191



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As yet these papers did not turn away from Franco, but there was creeping suspicion that the side they had been championing was engaged in spreading terror. This grew into outright belief in the following months.

Guernica As Franco’s forces supported by bombers closed in on Madrid, the battle for control of the city was followed avidly in Britain. Newsreels now provided extensive coverage of the destruction wrought by insurrectionist bombers and raised concerns about potential threats to London.192 British concerns were such that in November 1936, a cross-party group of MPs led by the Liberal Wilfred Roberts visited the Spanish capital. Their subsequent report, authored by Conservatives as well as others, ‘drew attention to the humanitarian crisis in the city.’193 On its return in December, the group became the nucleus of the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief (NJC), an ‘all-party, non-political, non-sectarian’ group dedicated to providing relief for war victims. By January, the Committee represented a ‘large variety of different bodies.’194 After Germany and Italy had officially recognised the Nationalist regime on 18 November, Spanish government forces began to be portrayed as the plucky underdog. The arrival of British volunteers to aid Republicans created additional complications for proinsurgent opinion in Britain. Reports in the New Statesman described a Haigian ‘backs against the wall’ scenario, where practically every ablebodied man and woman in Madrid had fought with any available weapon to push the enemy back.195 By 23 November what had looked like an inevitable insurgent victory for the Spanish capital had been halted. The British government now entered into secret trade negotiations with the insurgents and moved unilaterally to render the passage of arms and men from Britain to Spain illegal.196 This move, which went against the flow of public sympathy for Republicans, created a sense of unease in parliament. It gave the impression, which was not without substance, that the government was siding with fascist regimes. It is no surprise, therefore, that Sir John Simon, now Home Secretary, commented in December 1936 that ‘the Spanish Civil War is getting troublesome from a domestic point of view.’197



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In early 1937, a group of Anglican and free churchmen visited Spain for two weeks and their findings finally quashed any claims that government forces represented a threat to Christianity. The Spectator found the report ‘restrained and convincing’, as it drew a distinction between the established Church in Spain, viewed with contempt by Republicans, and Catholic leaders living in Basque territory.198 Here the clergy, it was reported, ‘lived in close sympathy and contact with their people’ and, crucially, had opted to support the elected government.199 Basques, who had strong economic links to Britain, as shown by the daily exchange of goods via merchant vessels, were seen as self-sufficient and democratic in the British style. Amidst dissent and jibes that this was ‘Abyssinia all over again’, Hoare announced to Parliament on 14 April that the Royal Navy would no longer protect British trade ships en route to north-east Spain from attack.200 This was in response to (ultimately false) information that sea approaches to Bilbao were mined and guarded by Nationalist ships. Newspapers provided heroic accounts of ordinary seamen determined to maintain trade links with the warzone in direct opposition to government policy.201 Hoare was forced to retract his order. British ships would now be protected up to the limit of Spanish territorial waters. When the German aircraft under Franco’s command bombed the undefended Basque town of Guernica and strafed the fleeing population on 26 April 1937, Britons united in condemnation of the atrocity. In the immediate aftermath, journalist George Steer visited the town and his report was printed in The Times. His restrained but moving prose emphasised the heightened sense of terror felt by Spaniards. He stressed the victims’ innocence and the self-sacrifice of Catholic priests, and contrasted Basque tradition, their ancient democratic institutions and historic sense of identity, with ‘ruthless mechanical destruction’.202 The Times supported Steer’s report with an editorial that invited comparison between British and Basque values.203 His account was highly influential. Philip Noel-Baker wrote to Steer: I think no article in modern times has made so deep an impression throughout the whole country as your dispatch about the bombing of Guernica … I have quoted the dispatch at length in at least ten big meetings throughout the country, and it everywhere makes a tremendous impression.204



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Other newspapers reported events unquestioningly.205 Noel Monks of the Daily Express, who visited the town with Steer, wrote that ‘Guernica was to these people what Westminster is to the Englishman’, while an editorial proclaimed that ‘there are some things that pass all bounds and cry for protest. The bombing of Guernica is one.’ Those who had gathered in the town, the editorial continued, ‘were not under arms. They were not the destroyers of churches or the murderers of priests or the ravishers of nuns. The insurgent air-raiders have added a new word to the vocabulary of massacre – GUERNICA.’206 This style of reporting was echoed across all sections of the press. The impact on British opinion must be understood in context. The bombing of unfortified towns, unknown in Europe until 1937, was understood to be an atrocity, not a legitimate act of war. The News Chronicle described it as an ‘exhibition of frightfulness’ that exceeded ‘the worst’ atrocities committed by Italians in Abyssinia.207 What made matters worse was that Guernica was easily imagined as an English town. As the Chronicle continued, the destruction was ‘a foretaste of what will happen to other cities, larger and nearer home’.208 The Daily Mail was hardly less explicit.209 It printed photographic evidence of the carnage, published protests from the Archbishop of York and Cecil, while allowing minimal space to ‘Franco’s Denial.’ Reporting on by-elections in Wandsworth and West Birmingham, the Mail affirmed that the public was obsessed with the bombing.210 Although a small group of pro-Francoists continued to downplay reports and undermine Steer’s credibility, the Conservative press largely deserted them. The New Statesman pointed out that rebel advocates could scarcely raise their heads in public because support for the Basques came ‘from all sides.’211 The News Chronicle’s political correspondent confirmed that ‘almost everyone at Westminster’ viewed the massacre with abhorrence. Indeed, parliamentary opinion was ‘more moved than it was when Italy began to use mustard gas against the Abyssinians’.212 On 30 April, 7,000 people attended a meeting of the LNU and approved a resolution that expressed unmitigated horror at the bombing. Representatives of all major Protestant denominations joined in. The appeal to ‘Christian’ values, previously monopolised by supporters of Franco, now pervaded pro-republican arguments. A special service was



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held at Birmingham parish church, where the Rector read out Steer’s report.213 The Bishop of Winchester spoke of ‘a cruel deliberate, coldblooded act’ that was both ‘against the laws of God and against every law of civilisation’.214 Memories of the Great War and German ‘frightfulness’ provided another framework in which the atrocity could be understood. For one Great War veteran, Steer’s reports ‘rekindled’ the rage he had felt after being torpedoed in ‘an act of coercive frightfulness’ during the war. He felt compelled to shout out that that ‘never will “frightfulness” achieve its avowed object of killing human determination to preserve its freedom.’215 The Spectator argued that Guernica deserved special categorisation due to the ‘sickening butchery’ that ‘took rank among crimes which their very hideousness prints indelibly on history’.216 The New Statesman described it as ‘frightfulness’ that had ‘left the world aghast’.217 A joint statement issued by the General Council of the Trades Union Congress and the National Executive of the Labour Party denounced the bombing as ‘example of frightfulness’ and ‘an outrage upon humanity and a violation of the principles of civilisation’. Moreover, it declared perpetrators were ‘criminal murderers’ and drew readers’ attention to eyewitness statements that detailed German involvement. Perpetrators were: German airmen, using German aircraft, dropping German stamped bombs, in cynical contradiction of the declaration made by Herr Hitler himself in his Reichstag speech of May, 1935, that the German Government opposed the use of aircraft for the destruction of open towns and the bombing of non-combatant women and children.218

But overt condemnation of Germany was something of an aberration, even in the post-Guernica maelstrom. Most were more prone to the line taken by The Spectator, which could not bring itself to believe that ‘Herr Hitler [was] capable of condoning a crime so damnable.’219 The government predictably trod a delicate line by condemning the outrage and avoiding any mention of German culpability, despite a parliamentary debate that saw MPs from across the political spectrum condemn Franco’s (not Hitler’s) ‘frightfulness’.220 But this is where Geoffrey Dawson and The Times came into their own. The stealth and speed with which the paper moved from the publication and endorsement of Steer’s account, which had implicitly criticised



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German involvement, to its pro-German norm was extraordinary. Stung when the German authorities censured the paper for its Spanish coverage, Dawson was again torn by the need to remain credible by reporting facts and the desire to spin those same facts out of existence. It was around this time that he made his now famous statement to Lord Lothian: ‘I spend my nights… dropping in little things which are intended to sooth [the Germans].’221 It was only a matter of days before The Times was able to suggest that the atmosphere was ‘propitious for a fresh effort in the direction of Anglo–German rapproachment’.222

humanitarian response Nonetheless, despite selective blindness with regard to Germany’s role in the bombing, parliamentary and public protests resulted in an immediate and widespread humanitarian response to the victims. The Home Office, in response to heightened public feelings on the matter, agreed to admit Basque children into Britain.223 In May, the Royal Navy was ordered to escort approximately 4,000 Basques, predominantly children, to Southampton. This was the largest single influx of refugees in British history and their arrival caused considerable interest nationwide.224 Newsreels made a point of emphasising British humanitarianism; the Catholic authorities and the Salvation Army provided refugees with homes and the Labour movement offered considerable support.225 National relief efforts were buttressed by local fund-raising schemes and individual philanthropic gestures. Goronwy Rees, whose reputation was later tarnished by his suspected involvement with the Cambridge spy ring, but who was at the time assistant editor of The Spectator, gave an account of his personal involvement and what drove him to help. He was on a train heading to Southampton when he spotted a flight of planes. It focused his mind on: the 4,000 children from Bilbao, the Catholic refugees from General Mola’s guns and Germany’s aeroplanes…It is really difficult to grasp that a child actually before your eyes was a few days ago in danger of being blown to pieces by bombs and shells…When you go away you remember most the grave lonely faces of the very small children trying to comfort themselves by hugging a piece of wood for a doll. It is difficult to



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describe the feelings of shame and anger which arise against a civilisation in which their fate is possible…There is only feeling to balance against this sense of anger and pity; it arises when you realise that to help these children an organisation has sprung up spontaneously, in spite of immense difficulties, ignoring national divisions, and ignoring political divisions because fundamentally these are of no significance compared with the common fact of humanity. This organisation belongs to no Government and no party, though fortunately help has been given by our Government; ‘bus companies have lent transport, bakers, butchers and dairymen have sent food, individuals money, clothes and toys; and others have given and are giving days of intense and exhausting work.’226

The Basque children were eventually spread around the country. Regionalised humanitarianism was motivated by comprehension of the atrocity’s magnitude, understanding that Basques had been targeted and the innocence of Basque children. An appeal from the Bolton and District United Trades Council on behalf of Basque children summed up the broadly national mood: ‘they are unable to help themselves. Innocent victims of brutal and in many cases fiendish atrocity.’227 This is one example of a plethora of unofficial philanthropic activity, which manifested itself in the creation of ‘broad alliances on the local level’, built on ‘human interest and passion’.228 Yet, the action on behalf of refugees was not without opposition. The Labour hierarchy tried to ensure its involvement was seen to be nonpolitical. Disgusted Labour activists thus ‘felt abandoned by their own leaders’.229 On the other side of the political coin, obstruction also came from the top. Baldwin wrote (but did not say in public), that he had ‘grave doubts as to the desirability on practical grounds of bringing [refugees] to this country in large numbers’.230 Despite Eden’s support for the Basques, the prime minister’s reticence seeped down through the government departments that dealt with the NJC.231 In the end, although some children remained in Britain, Franco’s inevitable advance and the fall of Bilbao on 19 June 1937 enabled British officials to argue that civilians were no longer in danger. Momentum built behind the idea of sending the children back. But as the focus on Spain began to fade, another crisis was brewing. Hostilities had broken out again between Japan and China, and over the following 18 months Japanese warmongering in China vied with Spain for the attention of British humanitarians.



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C h i na : a F ORG Ot t e n C a m Pa iG n

Following the Manchurian crisis, tension persisted between China and Japan. When Japan deployed a large number of troops in a demilitarised zone south of Peking in contravention of international agreements and engaged in provocative manoeuvres close to Chinese territory, the ensuing military exchange outside Wanping escalated into full-scale war. The British government was conscious of the need to protect its considerable financial interests as well as British citizens living in the Far East. However, the British military presence there was comparatively weak, so the logical thing to do was appeal to other powers for help. But with lingering suspicion between Britain and America over the handling of the Manchurian crisis and the government’s opposition to Stalin’s Spanish entanglement, collaboration with the only two powers capable of influencing events was unlikely. Powerful voices in the government, not least Baldwin’s successor, Neville Chamberlain, considered an accommodation with Japan an acceptable option. However, elements within the Foreign Office wanted no truck with Japan’s ‘spoliation of China’.232 Chamberlain’s forceful personality and his decision to ingratiate himself in Foreign Office strategy won out. Britain therefore adopted ‘a middle course’ of providing ‘moral support and limited material aid’ to China, while aiming to maintain ‘Anglo–Japanese relations’.233 As one official put it, ‘we are after all pledged [sic] to consider means of supporting the National Govt. (so long as it remains the constitutionally recognised Govt. of China); but this does not necessarily mean incurring serious friction with Japan.’234 By 1937, the image of the Chinese, the perceived victims of Japanese intransigence, had undergone something of a transformation in Britain. Adding to more positive images was the persistent threat to the ‘opendoor’ policy, which left even the world of commerce suspicious of Japanese motives.235 Attempts to contain Japanese expansionism pre1937 had come to nothing, because a conversation between Yoshida Shigeru, the Japanese Ambassador to London, and Eden had given rise to fears that Britain was planning a Far Eastern ‘Hoare-Laval Agreement.’236 Nevertheless, when questioned in Parliament in July 1937 about Japanese aggression in north China, the Japanese press interpreted



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Eden’s evasiveness – he said that Japan was entitled to station troops at certain points in north China – as evidence of British indulgence.237 Given Britain’s track record on Manchuria, Abyssinia and the Rhineland, it was unsurprising that they should interpret the Foreign Secretary thus. This impression was reinforced by The Times, which commented that ‘Britain was fully prepared to recognise the obvious fact of Japan’s “special position” in regard to China.’238 Even at this early stage, there were rumblings of discontent in Britain. Freda Utley, an influential pro-Chinese activist, wrote to the New Statesman warning that there ‘was little doubt that preparations’ for a deal with Japan would ‘secure for [Japan] virtually all she wants in China’.239 But Japanese bombing of undefended Chinese towns, which increased the threat to British commercial interests as Japanese forces moved south to Shanghai, saw these grumbles snowball into an avalanche of discontent. The Manchester Guardian warned of a ‘repetition’ of 1932, when ‘air attacks were made on densely populated districts, causing thousands of casualties to civilians and great damage to property.’240 On 24 August, Labour’s National Council, speaking on behalf of the Labour party and the TUC, denounced Japan’s invasion as a ‘further lawless act of aggression’.241 The Communist party executive issued a resolution linking Japanese action with German fascism while praising ‘the heroic Chinese people’.242 When an emboldened Japan deliberately targeted British vessels and severely injured Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, the British Ambassador to China, it was a signal for the right-wing press to become indignant. The Daily Express warned that Japan’s invasion equalled Italy’s actions in Abyssinia.243 The Times reported that Japan had no ‘licence to play havoc with the lawful interest of Great Britain’, and without ‘declaring war’, Japan had launched a full-scale invasion.244 Condemnation of Japan now came from across the political spectrum, and after weeks of prevarication the Japanese government, albeit reluctantly, apologised for the shooting. This did not stop British commentators from criticising Japan for impudence and failing to punish those responsible. Although most united in condemnation, this broad consensus hid differences about how Britain should respond. The Times followed the government line. Still driven by Britain’s commercial interests and fearing that potential enemies, both communist and fascist, were



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stacking up, it advocated moral denunciation and condemned calls for economic sanctions. The New Statesman warned readers of attempts by the right-wing press to ‘deliberately obscure’ Japan’s weaknesses in order that public pressure did not force the government to impose sanctions. It told readers not to be fooled by government protestations directed at the Japanese: the story of Manchuria, Abyssinia and Spain is being repeated in China. Deceived by a Liberal tradition of support for the victim of aggression rather than for the aggressor, the Englishman imagines that his Government is opposed to Japan’s new invasion and this impression is confirmed by British warnings to the Japanese not to damage our interests in China.245

However, the blanket bombing of Shanghai in mid-September put pressure on right-wing opinion to advocate firmer action. In the vain belief that moral condemnation was enough to deter Japanese aggression, the high Tory press increased their invective. On 20 and 21 September, the Japanese attacks on Shanghai and Nanking made headline news in The Times.246 The Telegraph wrote that ‘the conscience of civilisation’ had been ‘deeply stirred’ by the devastation, which was ‘well outside the actual war zone’.247 For The Spectator, Japan’s ‘recourse to any barbarity’ was predetermined and systematic.248 The Morning Post, although appreciative of ‘Japan’s legitimate grievances’ and arguing that atrocities were not ‘condoned’ by most of the Japanese people, declared that British opinion would be alienated by this ‘policy of sheer frightfulness’.249 The veracity of reports, which appealed to civilised values and human morality, went unchallenged. Japan was perceived to have gone beyond the internationally accepted code of ethics for war conduct.250 The Times summed up popular feeling in Britain with an editorial simply entitled ‘Frightfulness.’251 It is worth quoting at length, because it shows that the British capacity for imagining terror against a particular people had not dimmed. First, it drew attention to the gap between Japan’s attenuating words and its horrific deeds: Lofty words make a shabby pendant to the Imperial Navy’s latest exploit. A Japanese submarine came to the surface in the neighbourhood of Hong-kong and systematically destroyed by gunfire almost the whole of

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a fishing fleet of junks; it then made off without attempting to rescue the men, women and children who were struggling in the water. This massacre in cold blood of a little civilian community – for a fleet of junks is little more than a floating village – can be extenuated by no plea that the fishermen had even the remotest connexion with the war… [Japan] has accordingly resorted to a campaign of promiscuous and indiscriminate terrorism of which the object is, not to defeat the illequipped but numerous Chinese armies in the field, but to break the spirit of the civilian population. Air raids on Canton, Nanking, Hankow, and other large cities have been, and are still being carried out in the teeth of vigorous protests by the British, the American and other Governments. Tokyo claims that all these raids have been directed against military or at any rate strategic objectives; but the ascertainable damage done to such objectives has been infinitesimal by comparison with the havoc wrought among civilians in thickly populated districts. The tragedy of wholesale slaughter is enhanced incidentally by the innumerable wounded, for whom even rudimentary first-aid facilities are seldom available.252

It was, of course, folly to assume that strong words without action would impede the relentless march of Japanese chauvinism. Nonetheless, this was an astonishing attack on an ostensible ally by a paper that was regularly used by the British government as a tool of international diplomacy. The Rothermere press joined in, calling the Japanese ‘subhuman’, while the Beaverbrook-owned isolationist Evening Standard even suggested that Britain would ‘not be interfering in other people’s business if we boycotted Japanese goods.’253 In contrast to condemnation of Japanese leaders, the Chinese were portrayed as stoical in the face of adversity. Their new sense of nationhood had allegedly been reinforced by Japanese aggression, as indeed had the fighting qualities of the ordinary Chinese soldier.

explosion of empathy Behind the scenes, Sir Robert Craigie, the British Ambassador in Tokyo, issued ‘very strong representations’ to the Japanese government. Craigie, however, favoured appeasement. His official reproach highlighted damage to British property, not the sufferings of the Chinese.254 In addition, Chinese attempts to elicit material and moral support from the



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League of Nations were scuppered by the Foreign Office, even if it meant ‘humiliation for the League’.255 At the end of September Eden responded to increased public pressure by attempting to garner American support for an economic boycott.256 Chamberlain sabotaged his initiative. However, there were signs that public opinion was starting to harden. In addition to merely condemning the bombing, Labour’s National Council appealed for international cooperation, especially with the United States. It also called on the government to prevent individuals from selling war materials or lending money to Japan and for British citizens to ‘express their detestation of Japanese barbarism by refusing to buy Japanese goods’.257 The recently formed China Campaign Committee (CCC), whose membership included Victor Gollancz, penal reformer Margery Fry, Kingsley Martin, editor of the New Statesman, his partner Dorothy Woodman and the ‘quiet and unpretentious’ communist, Arthur Clegg, provided a focus for national protests.258 Its stated aim was to ‘rouse public sympathy and practical support’ for the Chinese and the first public meeting was held on 30 September at Whitfield’s Tabernacle in London. Speakers included Lord Cecil, Harold Laski, Ellen Wilkinson, the fiery Labour MP for Jarrow, and leading British sinologist Lady Dorothea Hosie.259 Within four months the CCC had organised hundreds of meetings and distributed over three-quarters of a million pamphlets nationwide.260 The New Statesman printed a telling interview with publican’s wife and ‘old-fashioned Conservative’, Mrs Tomkins. She had seen one of the many pictures of the bombing that had been published in the press: I couldn’t sleep at night for it … I could just hear that little child screaming, and my husband says to me put that paper in the fire and think of something else, but I was kind of fascinated with it and kept looking at it all day long … And I think its right people should know about such things.261

Mrs Tomkins declared herself in favour of an economic boycott. Three events in early October further suggested that public indignation was on the rise. First, during a speech in Chicago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave what appeared to be a clear intimation that the United States would join with other nations in direct action against



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Japan. Second, the Labour party at their annual conference adopted a strongly-worded resolution, proposed by leader Clement Attlee, in protest at the slaughter of innocent civilians.263 Third, a national protest meeting was held at the Albert Hall on Saturday 9 October 1937. The New Statesman believed the meeting was evidence of the rising ‘tide of popular indignation’ against ‘the massacre of non-combatants’. For The Spectator, it was evident that the public was as ‘moved today’ as Britons had been ‘by the Macedonian atrocities in the time of Gladstone’.264 The News Chronicle, sponsor of the event, reported on the meeting under the headline, ‘Voice of Britain Heard at Albert Hall.’ The report captured something of the feeling: 262

The Albert Hall was nearly a third full an hour before the meeting began. Out of a seething Kensington Road, where cars were arriving in an unbroken stream, and where distributors of pamphlets and papers thickly surrounded the building, came the swelling crowd…The buzz of talk quickly changed into applause as the caption for the film lit the screen: ‘The News Chronicle presents the film “Bombs on China!”…’ The audience probably the greatest single film audience ever assembled, watched in silence the tattered remnants of buildings in Shanghai, the litter of wounded and dying in the streets, the puff of anti-aircraft shell in the sky, the scattering of terrified people in the streets, the hopeless flight of refugees. There were occasional bursts of applause, occasional halfsmothered cries of sheer horror.265

The event was attended and endorsed by an impressive array of opinion formers, with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding.266 Having been criticised by Christians in Japan, it had not been easy for Lang to attend. Yet he told the assembly that: we are entitled to ask our Government, if protests and appeals are unavailing, to take the lead by letting it be known that they are prepared to act if they can obtain such support from other nations as would make their action effective, and by inviting other nations to join them. We have often been appalled by the nightmare of nations using every power of science to deal destruction on helpless multitudes. This nightmare has been turned into a reality before our eyes.

Lord Lytton, veteran of the Manchurian crisis, pointed out that the hastily organised meeting along with ‘the representative character of the speakers’ proved that Chinese suffering ‘was felt by everyone in this



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country’. To loud applause, Lady Violet Bonham Carter declared that the meeting was ‘a call to action’. She continued: the resolutions we shall pass and the cheers and the tears with which we shall pass them are powerless to save China in her agony. They will not save from death or mutilation one single Chinese child. If we mean to defend, if we mean to salvage what is left of law and of humanity we have got to act.

As the first consignment of medical supplies left for China, 2,000 people demonstrated their support for China in Trafalgar Square. The Spectator, although politically opposed to the News Chronicle, agreed that the spirit of the meeting represented ‘the feeling of the vast majority of the British people.’267 A few days later, Labour front-bencher Herbert Morrison solemnly declared, ‘I have never known so great a wave of spontaneous moral indignation sweep across the British people as that which the war in China has called forth.’268 Indignation gathered pace and the Chinese continued to be represented in a positive way. They were described as ‘ancient, courageous’ and ‘peaceloving’.269 The Chinese soldier, although ‘under-trained and under-armed’, could stand a bombardment that would have ‘dislodged’ a modern infantryman.270 It was a peculiarly interwar English image of ‘muddling through’ against the odds and designed to create a sense of familiarity with the victims.271 Winifred Galbraith, writing in The Spectator, emphasised this sense of commonality when she asked: What would you do if, up for your first term at Cambridge, you heard that an invading army had taken London, destroyed your home on, say Streatham Common, and taken possession of the telegraph and post office so that you could not get in touch with your people? Then repeated air-raids destroy your College (Pembroke), and the approach of the army northward breaks up the University since the enemy is said to kill all professors and students out of hand in case they are Communists. You make you way on foot to, say, Nottingham, which is being fortified as a front line town. What would you do next? This is the question that hundreds of thousands of young men and women and school boys and girls have to decide today in China.272

Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist movement, which a few years previously had been vilified as the cause of anti-British agitation in China, was portrayed by Utley as ‘a kind of Puritan national resurrection movement,



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a revised Confucianism-cum-Y.M.C.A. ideal, rather than a Fascist movement’.273 Attributed to Chiang were characteristics of self-discipline, ‘determination’, ‘loyalty’, ‘simplicity, modesty and lack of display’. Furthermore, his devotion to Christianity meant even ‘at the front even when under artillery fire one could always see a copy of the Bible on his desk.’274 Utley was not alone in believing that in a once divided, stagnating and anarchic country, Japanese aggression had produced ‘a new unity and a national consciousness more profound than any in its modern history’.275 The New Statesman reported on a ‘packed and enthusiastic’ protest meeting, this time held in early November at the Queen’s Hall. It was described as ‘remarkable’ how Chinese speakers, who regularly addressed protest meetings, could ‘talk to an English audience at once and be appreciated’. This was because they had ‘the same kind of humour’ and were ‘not too emotional in their approach’.276 To further their cause, Chinese artists performed to raise funds for humanitarian efforts. Placing Chinese people and their culture at the forefront of public campaigns helped to engage the public. This provides a stark contrast to the way Jews felt they had to play down their involvement in philanthropic campaigns for fear of alienating sympathy. Even in Parliament, Chinese suffering seemed to elicit cross-party sympathy. When Philip Noel-Baker raised the issue, he was able to say without fear of too much contradiction that in Britain there were ‘divisions about Spain. There are none about China’. Indeed, for those on the left there was a feeling that China might mobilise the British public against fascism in a way that Spain could not.277 To a certain extent this was right, because calls for an economic boycott grew amidst evidence of Conservative unease in Parliament over Japanese atrocities. Tory MPs expressed outrage at Japan’s ‘horrible methods’ and advocated a ‘firmer attitude’ and ‘effective action’, but Chamberlain was not ready to concede.278 As he told the cabinet, he was ‘anxious to avoid the position which had been reached with Italy over Abyssinia.’ By this, he meant that in regard to Italy he thought League sanctions had gone too far, and he was not prepared to pressurise Japan in the same way.279 The Foreign Office persisted in blocking Chinese attempts to garner League support. First, they had helped to bog down Chinese protests



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by referring them to a League body known as the Far East Advisory Committee. Now, following Chinese complaints of British inaction, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Viscount Cranborne, known to friends and colleagues as ‘Bobbety’, sponsored a resolution condemning Japanese bombing. However, when Wellington Koo, the Chinese representative to the League, tried to force the implementation of sanctions, Cranborne blocked his move by endorsing a conference in Brussels for those who had signed the Nine-Power Treaty of 1922.280 In public, the government appeared optimistic that the conference would provide a settlement without the need for sanctions. In private, according to Bradford Lee, the government was ‘at a loss to envisage how the war could be ended’.281 Although Chamberlain thought the conference was a ‘complete waste of time’, the appearance of action had taken the sting out of public protests.282 Furthermore, reports reaching Britain now suggested that Japanese bombing had subsided. Coinciding with the start of the conference in early November, Italy announced they had joined the German–Japanese Anti-Commintern Pact set up to prevent subversive communist activities. On 1 December, Japan officially recognised the Franco regime and Italy, in turn, recognised Manchukuo. Evidence of rapprochement between extreme right-wing regimes created even greater tension in British official circles than had been the case during the Abyssinian crisis or over the Spanish Civil War. Sir Robert Craigie, for example, whose preference was for a settlement that benefited the Japanese, suggested Britain should stop arms traffic to China, whereas Eden sided with his adviser, H.H. Thomas, who argued that Japanese aggression and expansionist aims would make an Anglo– Japanese friendship ‘impossible’.283

nanking and after Around the same time, and although the bombing might have subsided, Japanese troops engaged in weeks of barbarity against civilians after routing the Chinese army in Nanking. Thousands of men were summarily shot, women raped and killed, homes looted and destroyed.284 Masayo Enomoto, who served in the Japanese Imperial Army, recalled the



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systematic terror that was inflicted on the Chinese people both inside and outside Nanking. ‘When you enter a village’, he attested, ‘first you steal their valuables. Then you kill people and then you set the village on fire and burn everything. Such killing, burning and robbing was seen everywhere.’285 Most Western estimates put the number killed at several hundred thousand.286 A few Westerners stayed in the city and created an international safety zone for Chinese refugees. One respected member of the foreign community wrote that ‘the terror is indescribable.’287 However, they struggled to get messages out of the city, which was under severe Japanese censorship. The massacre received scant contemporaneous coverage in the British press. The Times deliberately played it down.288 The Daily Telegraph and the Manchester Guardian gave reasonably full accounts, but these were not prominently placed or followed up with editorials. All three left readers with the impression that by the time the reports were published, the violence was under control. Moreover, as soon as news leaked out, the Japanese moved quickly to palliate world opinion. General Matsui, Commanderin-Chief, issued a public rebuke to subordinates and the Japanese Foreign Minister, Kiki Hirota, made a conciliatory speech in the Japanese diet.289 This was welcomed by the British Foreign Office, who stifled information about the massacre despite being fully informed by the Reverend C.L. Boynton of the National Christian Council who sent a detailed account of the atrocities.290 The feeling in the Foreign Office was that ‘nothing’ could ‘be gained by more publicity’. In fact, officials were ‘glad’ that the press did not recount ‘these dreadful tales’, as it was believed they would have caused ‘unnecessary bitterness’.291 British representations to the Japanese were strictly private and when a representative of the British military was sent to Nanking to investigate, he reported back that matters had ‘shown considerable improvement’.292 After Labour’s Arthur Henderson asked questions in parliament about the situation, the Foreign Office crafted Eden’s reply in such a way as to denude the issue of significance.293 The final factor that detracted from the massacre was that Spain once again hit the headlines. Franco’s bombing campaign had moved to Barcelona, where republican forces were now penned in. The bombing received massive press and newsreel coverage.294 Public outrage was such that Chamberlain was forced in the Commons to express his ‘horror and disgust’.295



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Over the next few months, events in the Far East continued to vie with Spain for public attention. Public meetings, newspaper articles and calls for a public boycott of Japanese goods permeated the public discussion. In May, two events reinvigorated public indignation. First, British forces witnessed the Japanese executing unarmed Chinese prisoners at Amoy. In parliament, Noel-Baker accused the Japanese of violating the Hague conventions. The Foreign Office knew he was right, because of, as they acknowledged among themselves ‘what the Japanese did at Nanking’, but R.A. Butler, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, refused to make a formal protest.296 Instead, Alexander Cadogan, who had succeeded Vansittart as Permanent Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office, spoke to the Japanese Ambassador and agreed to ‘let the matter rest’ for fear of ‘mutual recriminations’.297 Away from public scrutiny the Foreign Office was careful not to let atrocity reports detract from their policy of accommodating Japan. As one official put it: So long as we are in diplomatic relations with the [Chinese] government we must continue to recognise their sovereignty over the occupied areas, but that does not prevent us from accepting the fact of Japanese occupation and making the best arrangements we can with the de facto authorities for the protection of our interests on a de facto basis. There is nothing unfamiliar about the problem: it is Spain all over again.298

It is perhaps no wonder that Japanese authorities continued to act as if they were unconcerned about British protests. The second event was that the Japanese resumed their bombing campaign over Canton. This provoked renewed public outrage and, as a result, the Archbishop of Canterbury privately demanded assurances of an official protest from the newly installed Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax.299 Yet, in response to dogged Parliamentary questioning, Foreign Office officials deliberately provided answers designed to fudge the issue.300 Privately, though, they recognised that Japan’s defence of indiscriminate bombing was ‘the old, old argument that because circumstances make it difficult or impossible for the rules to be observed therefore they may be ignored. This is the argument which the Germans put forward in the war to justify their unrestricted submarine campaign.’301 As The Spectator again charged Japan with the crime of ‘frightfulness’, the CCC organised a week of protest in June.302 This included a two-day



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‘Protest and Boycott Parade’ and a ‘Great Protest Meeting’ to be held at the Queen’s Hall. Joining the CCC were members of the International Peace Campaign and the LNU. Speakers included Cecil and Nicolson and it was followed by a march to the Japanese Embassy. On the fourth day, MPs were to be lobbied in the Commons. The finale was a ‘Mass Demonstration’ in Trafalgar Square followed by an attempt to present a resolution to the Japanese Embassy.303 The Japanese Ambassador refused to accept it, defiantly stating that the bombing of Canton was being carried out ‘to demoralise the Chinese and to prevent reinforcements coming from there’.304 Protests were also carried out elsewhere. On 14 August, the CCC called yet another day of protest. Special services of intercession were held at St Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Martin in the Fields, City Temple, Methodist Central Hall, Kingsway Hall, as well as others nationwide. On 15 August, a deputation led by Canon Lewis Donaldson, Archdeacon of Westminster, the Reverend S.W. Hughes, Secretary of the National Free Church Council and Clegg of the CCC visited the Japanese Embassy. This was followed by a parade along Oxford Street and a meeting in Hyde Park.305 The event was widely covered in the national press, not least because the Assistant Japanese Military Attaché assaulted Mary Jones, the Assistant Secretary of the CCC. By September, the CCC had held more than 1,000 meetings and distributed over a million ‘Aid China’ leaflets. Public pressure throughout July and August seemed to have an effect on cabinet deliberations. Duff Cooper noted in his diary that the cabinet discussed whether financial aid should be given to China: The sum was £20,000,000 and it was said that that would enable them to continue to war for another year. Halifax was in favour of doing it. Simon stated the objections but sat on the fence. I said that my continual obsession was the possibility of having to fight a war simultaneously against Germany, Italy and Japan. I was not sure that we should win that war. The suggested loan to China would be direct intervention in the Far Eastern War. Was this the moment to do it, when the Czechoslovak question was still unsettled, when our relations with Italy were passing through a period of deterioration and when the new Government in Japan was definitely more moderate than its predecessor and was endeavouring to improve Anglo–Japanese relations. It had been said



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that our prestige would suffer if the Japs won. But it would suffer much more if we had definitely backed the Chinese and yet the Japs won. Could anybody believe that £20,000,000 was going to make the difference between victory or defeat? The Prime Minister was inclined to take my view. No decision was reached and we are to discuss it again next week.306

The entry is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it shows that the issue of China would not go away. Second, Duff Cooper was right that £20 million would not make the difference between victory and defeat; therefore it is probably safe to assume the gesture was partly to ease the public conscience. Third, the cabinet was split, but not necessarily in ways most would have expected. Simon’s position was perhaps predictable, but Halifax and Duff Cooper both look as if they were on the wrong side. It is a salient reminder that when examining the events of the late 1930s, the most common response is still to place the protagonists into opposing camps: anti-appeasers were ‘good’, ‘appeasers’ bad. This window into the cabinet room shows that all too often views were in a state of flux and that the events leading up to the Second World War were by no means inevitable. The hidden hand at these discussions, and the one that is perhaps played down in most accounts, is that of public opinion. All too often in the interwar years when it came to standing up for the victims of oppression, public pressure could make a difference and influence government policy. As the next chapter shows, when confronted with anti-Jewish persecution and the instigation of increasingly extreme measures against Jews in Europe, the British government still had to take public opinion into account, but not in the ways they had come to expect when confronted by other foreign atrocities. Foreign crises had previously reified into relatively straight-forward categories: victim and aggressor. In the case of Germany and the Jews, these classifications were not so clear-cut.

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Jews under German Rule: a Hierarchy of Compassion

e s C a l at i n G t e R ROR : t h e R e lu C ta n t ROa D tO Wa R

While successive crises had vied for the attention of the British public, Germany had slipped away from the front pages of the press. Britons, however, did not lose interest. There was a continued fascination in German life under the Nazis, as witnessed by the steady demand for books and articles on the subject. These were never neutral, but only a minority were overtly critical. R.T. Clark in The Fall of the German Republic, for example, bemoaned the loss of German democracy and could not understand why so few had taken up arms to fight for freedom.1 Henry Wickham Steed, ex-editor of The Times, published a series of lectures about the potential threat of the new Germany and Dorothy Woodman warned of German rearmament.2 Manchester Guardian correspondent Robert Dell, an erstwhile supporter of Germany, wrote a hard-hitting indictment of Nazi Germany. He was perhaps the first to state in print that the English version of Mein Kampf was bowdlerised to make it appear more acceptable in Britain. He even went so far as to ask whether there was some truth in wartime atrocity stories after all.3 When reviewed, these more negative accounts were often regarded as lacking balance. The Times Literary Supplement, for example, accused Dell of holding the same views as ‘extreme French chauvinists’.4 Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it was shared by Dell’s fellow correspondent at the Guardian, Frederick Voigt, who saw his contribution as ‘the case for the prosecution’ and ‘in the fine tradition of English polemical writing’.5



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Others were vehemently pro-German, pro-Nazi or both, such as Michael Fry’s Hitler’s Wonderland, John Wolf ’s Some Impressions of Nazi Germany and A.W. Fletcher’s Education in Germany.6 But again, these were the exceptions. British authors, if they wanted to be taken seriously, had to lay claim to a dispassionate stance. However, German suffering under the yoke of an apparently malign Allied policy was by now so widely believed in Britain that it had the effect of skewing common conceptions of objectivity. Journalist Sheila Grant Duff later recounted the general attitude, stating ‘it was we and not the German people themselves who were responsible for the rise of Hitler. We gave them the grievances and the grievances made Hitler. QED.’7 Powys Greenwood, for example, who believed that Britons ‘must never forget’ their ‘share of responsibility, wrote in the introduction to his book The German Revolution: My object is to explain, not to accuse and not to excuse. If I sometimes appear to lay too little emphasis on the individual cases, the tragedies and cruelties of Germany to-day, it is not because I condone them. It is simply because the indignation they rightly evoke tends to blur the understanding. If I have on the whole adopted a sympathetic tone in writing of the Nazi evangel and have chosen many of its moderate and more reasonable manifestations for quotation and exposition, it is because a comprehension of the good in the new German is as necessary as a knowledge of the evil.8

Greenwood demonstrated the widespread tendency to work hard in order to deliberately quell a natural aversion to the violence that was so central to Nazism, and he did so in the name of fairness. In effect, legalised persecution of and brutality towards German Jews were generally explained in terms of German trauma. If writers were frustrated at oppressive measures practised in Germany, they were also surprisingly tolerant of discrimination, repression and cruelty, or perhaps more accurately, tolerant of German tolerance. Empathy for Germans was bolstered by another significant factor: the allegedly pernicious role of Jews in post-war German society. Margaret Green, for example, was a left-wing writer who travelled to Germany in order to understand it better. She pointed out that many Jews, especially the more recent immigrants, had ‘played an inglorious part in the welter of corruption and exploitation’ that had crippled Germany after the war.9



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If attitudes towards the Nazi leaders fluctuated, feelings toward the German people were invariably positive. This was true of Robert Hastings’ The Changing Face of Germany (1934), Robert Bernays’ Special Correspondent (1934), B.T. Reynolds’ Prelude to Hitler (1933), Margaret Green’s Eyes Right! (1935), Arthur Willert’s The Frontiers of England (1935), James Duncan’s What I Saw in Germany (1936), Christopher Sidgwick’s German Journey (1936), Norman Hillson’s I Speak of Germany (1937), Eric Taverner’s These Germans, Douglas Reed’s Insanity Fair (1938), (which was also blatantly anti-Semitic), Edward Grigg’s Britain Looks At Germany (1938) and Lord Londonderry’s Ourselves and Germany (1938). German suffering, along with an assumption that Britons and Germans shared similar values, provided the subtext for the persistent cry that any people would have acted the same given similar circumstances. In order to explain the apparently bemusing phenomenon of Germany’s embrace of Nazism, it was commonly argued that ordinary Germans did not agree with Nazi methods, but broadly agreed with Nazi aims, and what Hitler offered was hope. By arguing that the majority of Germans approved of all but the most violent aspects of the new regime, writers offered the prospect of a kind of domesticated Nazism. Their leaders might rant, violence might be meted out, but the German masses would somehow act as buffer to rampant extremism.10 This inclination to portray ordinary Germans as separate and distinct from the Nazis, had, by 1938, become common. J.A. Cole, in Just Back From Germany, explained how ‘changes of regime pass harmlessly over the heads’ of ordinary Germans, while the American Nora Waln, in her widely read book Reaching for the Stars (1939), argued that ‘[f]undamentally, Germans are good’ and even just as war was breaking out, an ‘educated populace’ were ‘waking to realisation of the danger’.11 Special mention, though, should be given to German Life and Letters. It was designed ‘to explain German ideas and the German point of view to the English public’. Although edited by university professor L.A. Willoughby, it was, in the words of the Times Literary Supplement, ‘by no means narrowly academic in character’ but ‘informed by a broad and humane culture’.12 More extreme elements of Nazism were certainly criticised, but Nazi policies were generally discussed sympathetically. Published quarterly from October 1936 until just after the outbreak of



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war, the journal emphasised the importance of ‘the German view in the world to-day. For it is no exaggeration to say that the peace of Europe depends primarily on a sympathetic understanding of that point of view by the English people, which, of course does not mean that we must accept that point of view without question.’13 The balance of this statement is key. Although reserving the right to question, the emphasis was on the struggle required to understand Germany’s standpoint. G.P. Gooch, who by the mid-1930s was one of the most widely respected intellectuals of his generation, wrote its first article. He labelled the accusation of German culpability for the last war as the ‘Guilt Lie’, recognised that Hitler had removed Germany’s ‘inferiority complex’, and argued it was ‘unreasonable’ for a resurgent Germany to respect the territorial status quo in Europe.14 Other contributors were similarly inclined. Occasionally inviting essays from German scholars, Willoughby was particularly delighted when Hans Grimm, author of Volk ohne Raum (People without Space), the title of which became a popular slogan for National Socialists, accepted the invitation. Grimm’s arguments were apparently ‘well worth the sympathetic attention of all right-minded’ Britons.15 The sheer breadth of subjects covered between 1936 and October 1939, including poetry, religion, art, music, education, philosophy and politics in the Third Reich, showed that this was a serious attempt to sympathetically understand how Nazism fitted with German culture and vice versa. Just one example was an article by F.B. Aiken-Sneath on the heavily censored German press. It was not, he argued, a government press, but an ‘ordered press’, while Das Schwartz Corps, the official paper of the SS, was described as a ‘vigorous and lively paper’.16 German Life and Letters was trying hard to understand the appeal of Nazism to the German masses and explain this to its British readers. Although wellmeaning, it arguably provided intellectual justification to seriously engage with Nazi Germany, while playing down the more reprehensible aspects of a narrow-minded, exclusionary and brutal regime.17



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accepting the anschluss Such attitudes underpinned widespread British acquiescence when German troops entered Austria on 12 March 1938. By the evening of the next day, a law providing for the annexation of Austria had been approved by a reconstituted Austrian cabinet and signed by Hitler, who was driven through the country to wild acclaim.18 A plebiscite held on 10 April resulted in a majority favouring inclusion into the German Reich. All of this was reported in Britain, but so was the darker side of this merger. According to Richard Evans, ‘all the various stages of antiSemitic policy and action that had been developing over the years in Germany now happened in Austria at the same time, telescoped into a single outburst of rabid hatred and violence.’19 In just two days, 21,000 ‘opponents’ of the regime were arrested. A.L. Kennedy, a senior journalist with The Times, witnessed the clampdown in action. ‘The dirty work’, he confided to his diary, ‘and there is plenty of it, is being done’. The ‘ordinary citizen’ could ‘go about his work’, provided he was ‘not a Jew’. They, along with ‘political refugees and prisoners’ were tracked down, humiliated, ‘reduced to penury’ or shot.20 The press helped set the tone for reactions to the Anschluss. The Daily Telegraph gave the fullest account of anti-Jewish persecution, while the Manchester Guardian reported that the Anschluss was ‘as brutal’ as Japan’s invasion of China and Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia.21 It called for ‘a united campaign’ between Labour and Liberal supporters in order to try and force a sterner British policy towards Germany, but ended up a couple of weeks later merely complaining about ‘the narrow and limited spirit of the Labour Party’.22 The News Chronicle was obviously moved by the ‘plight of the Jews’, which was ‘beyond adequate description’, but it also played down the extent to which Jews were specifically targeted.23 For instance, it reported that Viennese officials had not been axed ‘on racial grounds’, but rather because their ideology was ‘not in harmony’ with the new regime. The Daily Express, keen to avoid any talk of war, warned ‘1914 Is No Parallel’ and advised that the best policy was to ‘mind our own business!’24 It printed an article by the respected Australian historian, Stephen H. Roberts, which described the German Chancellor as a dreamer and a romantic, claiming ‘the brutal sides of his movement passed Hitler by.’25



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The Times’ headline, ‘The Rape of Austria’, on 15 March did not reflect the rather anonymous article that followed. Generally, it portrayed the Anschluss as inevitable and commented that it was a hard enough task merging two countries without ‘complicating it by persecuting Jews’.26 Within its broader strategy of pushing the policy of appeasement, Jews were something of an irritant. In any case, it reassured readers that as Austrian Jews were now only subject to ‘administrative anti-Semitism’, which protected them ‘from casual theft’, they were better of than before.27 Most titles were indignant at the way Hitler had gone about his business, but rather than using the Anschluss as a lever to increase British indignation, they were more concerned that Germany should be given a fair hearing. Lord Londonderry praised the press for their restraint. which he was sure ‘reflected the moderate attitude’ of most Britons. Like Garvin of the Observer, he was convinced that ‘bloodshed had been saved’ by Hitler’s ‘drastic action’.28 Londonderry, often seen as an arch-appeaser, found support in the unlikely figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who agreed that people should ‘be thankful’ that the Anschluss ‘took place without any bloodshed whatever’.29 Such statements were designed to stem potential public outrage. Of the weeklies, The Spectator was more stridently opposed to Viennese atrocities than its left-wing rival the New Statesman. It provided eyewitness reports, leaving readers in no doubt as to the nature of the persecution. John Low, a waiter in Vienna: saw enough brutality in the streets to convince me that far worse went on behind the scenes. I watched Jews being surrounded by bands of youths and girls, pushed, punched and jeered at…I saw two girls in their twenties laughing hysterically and pushing and clouting a bearded little Jew, so old he could barely shuffle along. I watched middle-aged clerks from Government offices bundled into a lorry and carried off amidst the jeers of a screeching crowd.30

On 1 April, it drew attention to the ‘Five Years of Persecution’ of German Jews since the 1933 boycott. The ‘systematic repression of Jews in Germany, so far from diminishing,’ it wrote, ‘has entered into its most cruel and destructive stage’. Jews were to be pitied for the ‘absolute hopelessness of their position’.31 Some readers confirmed accounts of Jewish suffering. R. Fletcher had received a letter from Vienna describing how Jews were subject to ‘systematic plundering’, were ‘forced … on hands and knees’



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to scrub pavements, were made to don religious attire and perform ‘physical jerks in the synagogue’ while being ‘kicked, cuffed and spat upon,’ ‘deprived of police protection’ and ‘ejected from employment’.32 However, it was The Spectator’s defence of ordinary Germans that drew an overwhelmingly positive response from readers. Anti-Semitism, it affirmed, had ‘no roots in any widespread conviction among the German people’. Rather, it was ‘effected by the all-powerful extremists with the active collaboration of the Gestapo’.33 Readers agreed, not least because it chimed with their own reasons why Germans could not be blamed. These ranged from the effect of ‘persistent propaganda’ on ‘impressionable’ young Germans, praise for the bloodless ‘revolution’ in Austria, the desire to be ‘fair’, or faith in ‘the fundamental good-heartedness of the German’.34 By 10 June, The Spectator was confident that holidaying in Austria was ‘perfectly safe’ and that despite all the notices forbidding Jews entry, Englishmen could ‘take his Jewish friends where he pleases’.35 The best that can be said for this is that the journal waited a couple of months to reach this conclusion, unlike The Observer, which had printed the same message in March.36 The New Statesman took a decidedly flaccid view of atrocities, concentrating instead on opposing the entry of refugees into Britain. Its editor, Kingsley Martin, was of the opinion that Britain, being a ‘densely populated country suffering from chronic under-employment’, could not allow an ‘unrestricted flood’ of refugees because it could cause ‘“national” resentment’.37 Popular intellectual C.E.M. Joad explained the lacklustre response of the left. After the ‘iniquitous’ post-war settlement, the Allies ‘have only themselves to blame if the sufferers have now taken the law into their own hands and done for themselves what we would not do for them. Over a period of fifteen years we deliberately maddened Germany; it is little disingenuous of us to complain when we see foam on her lips’.38 Joad was not alone. Liberal leader, Archibald Sinclair, although indignant about ‘the persecution of Jews, Protestants and Catholics’, believed the Germans ‘had been goaded into supporting it’ because of the harshness of Versailles.39 Evidence from the social research organisation, Mass Observation, suggests the public was equally unmoved by anti-Jewish violence. Isolated



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individuals were ‘sorry for the Jews’, but most appeared unaffected. ‘You make this fuss about Austria’, said one Communist, ‘but it has been going on in Spain for almost 2 years’. Another contributor reported on a staff room conversation between a number of people who were discussing the Anschluss. They discussed the ‘thoroughness of the Germanification of Austria’, but when the subject of Jewish persecution came up, there was ‘a shrug of the shoulders, and, well, it must, I suppose, what can we do’. Elizabeth Crowfoot, a 24-year-old actress, noted that a friend was appalled at anti-Jewish measures in Austria until, after speaking to a pro-German businessman, she changed her mind. Now she believed ‘the expulsion of the Jews had saved Germany from another big financial crash.’40 Given the predominant mood, it was perhaps not surprising that Anglo-Jewish leaders were reluctant to draw attention to anti-Jewish persecution and doubts were raised as to ‘whether an effective platform could in present circumstances be obtained’. Their uphill battle was exacerbated by what they saw as subtle but ‘ceaseless and pernicious antiJewish propaganda’ in Britain as well as overseas. Leonard Montefiore, President of the Anglo-Jewish Association, summed up the siege mentality of British Jews when he complained that, ‘not by their own desire’ but by ‘force of circumstances over which they had no control, Jews, alas, had become front-page news.’41 The broadly pro-German public response meant that government officials and politicians could take a relatively relaxed view. They, like the New Statesman whose views were fairly representative of left-wing opinion, were mostly concerned about keeping out Jewish refugees. The introduction of discriminatory measures by the Nazis played into their hands. It would be some time, one Foreign Office memo stated: before any large number of former Austrians will receive German passports describing them as German nationals, and moreover those former Austrians who do receive such passports will not be the Austrians who will be trying to flock to the United Kingdom and elsewhere to escape from the new regime. They will not be the class about which the Home Office are now concerned.42

The ‘class’ of people to which the memo referred was the mass of Austrian Jews. Nonetheless, Home Secretary Samuel Hoare was taking no chances. Concerned that ‘the Germans were anxious to inundate



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this country with Jews’ in order to create ‘a Jewish problem’ in Britain, he set up a high-powered committee to deal with the problem.43 Regardless of Hoare’s expressions of sympathy in the Commons, the government hastily introduced restrictions that made ‘most would-be entrants ineligible’.44 Driven by sincere compassion for Jewish refugees, the independent MP, Colonel Wedgwood, tabled a Commons motion calling on the government to allow more Jews to escape persecution, but it was roundly defeated. Mostly, Hoare’s stance was applauded. Diplomatic activity lacked the sense of urgency applied to the restriction of refugees. Although, a ‘non-official’ approach was made to the German government on the ‘personal initiative’ of Britain’s Ambassador to Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, calling ‘for moderation in the treatment of Jews, Socialists’ and opponents of Nazism, the Foreign Secretary told the Lords that ‘there was no question of an official assurance in reply either being expected or given.’45 The swiftness and completeness of the Anschluss, together with the dominant British attitude, made it a short-lived crisis. One contributor to Mass Observation got ‘very excited over crises’ but, after a heavy week, ‘forgot about them’ only to find, when he next picked up a paper, ‘it was all over.’46 Another commented that ‘everyone’ had ‘forgotten all about it and have just accepted the situation.’47 Conservative MP and Zionist advocate, Victor Cazalet, wrote to The Times in early May after visiting Vienna. He described Jewish hardships, but was comforted that the ‘worst period’ was over and commented that the behaviour of the German army, ‘officers and men’, had been ‘exemplary’. Not only had army personnel saved Jews ‘being persecuted in public’ but they appeared to display ‘a sense of shame and sympathy at recent events’. He wondered whether ‘the real facts ever reach those in the highest places and in any case,’ he was ‘credibly informed’ that there were ‘as many non-Jews as Jews’ among political prisoners.48 Nonetheless, as it became clear that the refugee issue would not go away, and in July President Roosevelt convened a conference at Evian in France to deal with the matter. Cazalet, apparently having changed his mind about Austria, was one of seven public figures who signed a letter to The Times calling on the government to make a stand, otherwise the ‘conscience of Christendom’ would ‘suffer judgement at the bar of



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history’.49 Despite this plea, Evian was a flop. Of the 32 countries that sent delegates, none would accept more than a tiny number of Jewish refugees.50 Anyway, The Times argued, it was Christian refugees who needed help, on the grounds that Jews, having ‘years of persecution and wandering behind them’, would be ‘more easily able to adapt themselves to existence in the countries’ where they ended up.51 Public reactions to the Anschluss fortified the government as it dealt with the next crisis: Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland with its sizable minority of German inhabitants. As disguised Nazi Stormtroopers entered Czechoslovakia to stir up German nationalist feeling, Harold Nicolson declared on the radio his faith in the German people who, like Britons, feared another war. For Nicholson: It would be well in accord with the German heroic, or warrior, conception of diplomacy, to endeavour first to frighten us by menaces and then to offer conciliation. I should not be in the very least surprised if, after a settlement of the Czech problem has been devised Herr Hitler were to come forward bearing an olive branch in one hand and in the other a large fat dove of peace.52

munich and the public mood Despite Nicolson’s attempt to soothe, most Britons believed war was looming. When Chamberlain flew out to meet the German Chancellor to cede Czech territory to Germany, he went with the backing of an enthusiastic, if apprehensive, public. To some Conservative MPs Chamberlain attained the status of a virtual saint, to others his diplomatic move was seen as a bold gambit in the face of great peril.53 He also went with the support of many on the left. For example, the New Statesman believed the ‘strategical value of the Bohemian frontier should not be made the occasion of a world war. We should not guarantee the status quo.’54 Maynard Keynes agreed.55 It took Chamberlain three meetings, but agreement was finally reached in Munich on 30 September 1938. Czechoslovakia was forced to hand over significant border areas to Hitler containing crucial munitions factories. The prime minister flew back to a rapturous

0

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reception. Thousands gave up their Saturday and stood for hours waiting for a glimpse of Chamberlain. The roads were virtually impassable, and crowds ‘could not be held back’, with many trying to ‘open the doors of his car to shake him by the hand’. The welcome reached its climax outside Buckingham Palace, where thousands more waited in the heavy rain for a glimpse of the prime minister and the king and queen. They chanted ‘We want Neville’ and at just after 7 o’clock in the evening they got their wish. The crowd responded with a chorus of ‘For they are jolly good fellows.’ His return to Downing Street was greeted with similar enthusiasm. After the crowd had called for a speech, Chamberlain told them that he had achieved ‘peace with honour’, and recommended that they ‘go home and sleep quietly’ in their beds.56 The Daily Sketch offered readers a plate with a photograph of Chamberlain and his wife at Downing Street and by 15 October they had received 90,000 applications. The Sketch claimed, ‘[t]hey had never known anything like it.’57 The Manchester Guardian greeted Chamberlain’s diplomatic coup with an editorial: The pacificators of Munich returned home yesterday to receive greater gratitude than has ever been given to any returning conqueror. They have done something that has hardly ever happened before in history – the snatching of the world at the eleventh hour from universal calamity, from a return to barbarism, from untold cruelty and misery. The future may be dark and uncertain enough, but after all it is the future and mankind does not live in it. The instinct of the peoples to-day to praise (even to pitches of extravagance) the peacemakers is sound.58

The Guardian’s belief that Chamberlain had done the right thing was partly due to their faith in the German populace. Just prior to Munich their diplomatic correspondent had written of his conviction that ordinary Germans would not ‘allow Hitler to engage in a war of obvious aggression’. He continued, ‘The fear of war is greater amongst the German people than amongst any other, and if they knew that Hitler has been, and perhaps still is, as much as considering a war of pure aggression, then neither his eloquence nor his measures of terroristic coercion would avail him any longer.’59 Despite its left-leaning credentials, on the day the Munich Agreement was signed, the Guardian reported that Germans compared Chamberlain,



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‘a figure of peace’, favourably with their Führer, a view, incidentally, shared by Chamberlain himself.60 Archbishop Lang broadcast a panegyric to Chamberlain. He thanked the prime minister and God for ‘deliverance’.61 Lang was reflecting a widely held Anglican view that Munich was morally defensible. It is important to remember that his views over Abyssinia and China had not been so accommodating. Perfectly able to understand and respond compassionately to different types of victim, his attitude towards the victims of Nazism was not so generous because he retained the belief that Germans deserved greater sympathy. His view was widely shared by other church leaders, who like Bishop Barnes of Birmingham, were tied to an unrealistically optimistic view that the Munich Agreement would create within Germany ‘a yearning for a better way’.62 Lang’s broadcast was part of an attempt to shore up public support for government policy. Although appeasement, as Daniel Hucker puts it, ‘enjoyed considerable public support’, evidence from the diaries of ordinary Britons, adds nuance to the picture.63 It appears the crisis acted as a catalyst for ‘ordinary Britons’ to actively consider what another war would mean to them. As such, people went through a range of emotions. Some with dependants actively considered either evacuation or taking protective measures such as trench digging. Others resolutely decided they would stay put and ‘all go together’.64 Mary Collins, a primary school teacher, was in a state of high anxiety because her recently married only son was in the RAF. Morbid thoughts pervaded everyday considerations. For example, after giving her pupils a ‘lesson in litter’, she hoped that ‘England will never be littered by little children’s bodies.’65 Other worries ranged from death, to lack of food or money, to what to do with pets. But such worries did not necessarily bring about stasis. Many considered volunteering for ‘war work’, either by enlisting, joining ‘the ARP’ or St John’s Ambulance.66 Isabel Blackwell, a filing clerk in a trade union office and an avid follower of foreign affairs, was ‘sick with worry’ at the thought of war. But with the growing prospect of conflict, she lost her worry and ‘began to feel quite an exhilaration in all the bustle and hurry, the anti aircraft guns, searchlights, trenches, and gas mask queues’. Blackwell’s assertion that she found it all both ‘exciting and chilling’ reflected the general mood of Mass Observation accounts.67



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Faced by a peril that was common to all, the atmosphere provoked by the Munich crisis created a sense of public spiritedness and togetherness that crossed the class divide. On a train journey to London, Mrs B Charlton, a well-to-do 63-year-old woman from Keswick, commented that fellow travellers, complete strangers, ‘all talked about the situation’. She observed that ‘the common peril breaks down barriers and on the whole brings out the best in people.’ Most information was obtained from ‘listening in’ or by reading the daily nationals, with Charlton noting ‘the part the wireless has played and the keen, general interest taken’. What is more, Charlton observed from her elevated social position that ‘everyone’ showed an ‘intelligent appreciation of what it all means’, whether it was ‘one’s maids, the gardener, the trades peoples, porters, taxi men and so on’.68 She devised a mini survey that included questions about a prospective war, including whether they hated Hitler or hated Germans. Of the 14 who took part, five expressed hatred for Hitler and only two for Germans.69 For Mary Collins, a good many people she spoke to ‘rage[d] at Hitler’, who would ‘grace a good many bonfires on November 5th,’ but most as a rule did not feel ‘animosity to the Germans as a nation’. She quoted with approval Lilian Mowrer’s adage about how to treat Germans from her book Journalist’s Wife (1938): ‘love them. Love them a lot, and you can get the best out of them. I am not so sure that this would not apply to Hitler as well.’70 In fact, rather than expressing hatred of Germans, many contributors to Mass Observation believed ordinary Germans were on the side of justice and would act as a brake on Hitler’s excessive demands. For instance, Isabel Blackwell believed that Hitler faced ‘internal trouble’, which led her to the conclusion that if war had been declared ‘Hitler would have been thrown out by his people in a month.’71 Elizabeth Crowfoot agreed, believing ‘there was terrific unrest in Germany.’ Mrs G, wife of a haulage driver, told Dorothy Corbett, a 49-year-old housewife, that her hopes had been raised by Chamberlain’s broadcast to the Germans, as it would ‘cause disruption in Germany which was the best thing that could happen’. Corbett, struck by the camaraderie in a queue for gas masks, observed the ‘remarkable absence of abuse of Hitler’. Three people, she remarked, ‘hope’ for ‘a “jolly good revolution” and all around agreed that his fall was only a matter of time.’72 The milkman of artist Alice Coats maintained that Hitler had ‘met his Waterloo’.73



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For a proportion, Chamberlain’s efforts at Munich evoked real enthusiasm. Mary Collins, no lover of the prime minister, receiving her paper before most others, relished the prospect of being ‘the harbinger of good news’ on her walk to school, enthusiastically telling the news to one person after another. For her, it was almost as if she had ‘been to Munich’.74 News of the settlement, however, sometimes had a detrimental affect on the sense of unity created by the crisis. A nurse from Bury, A.M. Franklin, reported that almost everyone was ‘smiling’ because they were ‘sure that everything is completely settled’. However, she also believed the agreement was ‘the triumph of Fascism over Democracy’, and ‘nearly came to blows’ with a colleague who did not agree and after a fierce exchange, stormed out the room.75 Others also harboured doubts about the morality of the Munich Agreement. Blackwell, although relieved after Chamberlain’s return from Munich and grateful that ‘we shall not have war,’ like some others did ‘not trust Hitler’.76 Charlton observed that in Keswick, although people were initially ‘jubilant’ and praised Chamberlain, having given the matter some thought, she wondered ‘about the price to be paid’, while Corbett also found that relief was mixed with disquiet.77 Likewise, Mrs E. Dawson from Gateshead wrote four days after the agreement was signed that she felt ‘relieved and glad for all the world – God bless the P.M. … But, in my heart of hearts I wonder’.78 Defence of the Munich settlement carried on throughout 1938, but the doubts expressed in the immediate aftermath continued to harden.79

kristallnacht As deeper reflection replaced initial euphoria in Britain, anti-Jewish violence in Germany was growing. Between May and October 1938, according to Otto Dov Kulka and Eberhard Jäckel, violence was ‘extremely widespread’ and ‘whole localities’ were being purged of Jews.80 Thus, the explosion of brutality on the night of 10 November 1938, which became known as Kristallnacht, ‘was an expansion and centrally organised escalation from above of the patterns of anti-Jewish



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violence that had swept German from below during the previous months of the year.’81 In this ‘outbreak of unbridled destructive fury’, approximately 90 Jews were killed during the nationwide pogrom and hundreds died later in concentration camps.82 Orders for the pogrom came from the top and the Nazi party mobilised state security services to spearhead the onslaught.83 The sheer scale and ferocity of the violence meant news of it was immediately flashed across the world. Many Britons were shocked, but condemnation was equivocal. Two factors conditioned responses, existing preconceptions of Germans and existing preconceptions of Jews. On receiving the news, the Daily Mail and Daily Express tended to privilege the official German version of events. For these two populist right-wing publications, this vast expression of Jew hatred was spontaneous and carried out in defiance of authorities, which were said to have restored order. The Mail’s editorial was condemnatory, but ultimately reflected enduring belief in German humanitarianism. The ‘reprisals’ were an ‘outrage to the name of justice’, but the violence against German Jews by other Germans was ‘an internal affair’. The editorial concluded with the hope that ‘Germany might yet heed the call of humanity and show moderation – and mercy.’84 The same paper reported that Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for Coordination of Defence, was in favour of aiding Jews (albeit in an unspecified way), but found it ‘very difficult to believe that the German people approve[d] the appalling treatment of innocent people’.85 Meanwhile, the Express’s German correspondent reported that ‘the pogroms have caused such intense dissatisfaction among the masses of the people as I have never seen during the five years Hitler has been in power.’86 The presence of an indignant German populace apparently meant it was safe to call the violence ‘an internal problem’, which ‘could never justify warlike action on our part against the German nation.’87 The Express counselled its readers, ‘[l]east said, soonest mended.’88 Both papers remained opposed to relaxing the immigration laws. Popular left-wing papers were more inclined to implicate highranking Nazis and favour a more generous refugee policy.89 However, they joined their right-wing counterparts in defending the German people. As the Herald editorial put it:



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no one with any knowledge of the German people will doubt for a moment that for the greater part they will themselves feel pity and shame at such an outburst. For there is not a single people in the world to-day so ill-provided with the sentiments of kindness and brotherhood as not to feel that such events are a disgrace to the human family.90

The urbane Ulster essayist, Robert Lynd, literary editor and a regular columnist in the Saturday News Chronicle, wrote a piece about the German people entitled ‘They Will Be Ashamed of This.’ He believed that ‘millions of Germans’ were ‘horrified by the orgy of Jew-baiting’. Moreover, Lynd insinuated that German Jews had powerful allies in the German army: German officers stepped in to save helpless Jews who were being tormented by rioters after the Nazi march on Vienna; and, indeed, there could be nothing more certain to appeal to the natural chivalry of gallant soldiers than the spectacle of unresisting human beings, young and old, being beaten and terrorised by an overwhelmingly powerful mob hysterical with hate.91

The Times reported events with reasonable accuracy, portraying the violence as carefully organised and officially condoned. Its first report noted that Berlin’s fire brigade had left Jewish properties to burn by concentrating on ‘preventing the spread of fire’ to adjacent properties.92 It also reported on the deliberate inactivity of the police, who confined themselves to taking Jews into ‘protective custody’. But the next day The Times published a letter from Lord Rothschild, who wrote of attempts to blame ordinary Germans that they were ‘the grossest defamation of the character of the German people as a whole.’ Rather, the German people were ‘very much like the British. They detest the persecution of innocent people’.93 The Daily Telegraph also printed accurately what their correspondent saw ‘fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee’, while ‘respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the “fun”’. Yet, the Telegraph’s correspondent excused such behaviour on the grounds that ‘racial hatred and hysteria’ had ‘taken hold of other-wise decent people’.94 Right- and left-wing periodicals also propagated the belief that most Germans were innocent and condemned the atrocities. The Spectator saw ‘sufficient evidence’ of ‘pity and disgust… to make it both unreasonable and unjust to draw an



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indictment against a nation for crimes that are to be laid at the door of a party’.95 The New Statesman agreed. The majority of Germans were ‘no party’ to violence and ‘aghast at the savagery’.96 In reality, the extensive brutality, according to Richard Evans, had been carried out ‘without encountering any meaningful opposition’.97 Eminent British Jews decided to act. A group including Viscount Samuel, Chief Rabbi Dr Joseph Hertz, Neville Laski, Lionel de Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann asked for and received permission to lobby the prime minister. Hemmed in by the policy of appeasement, they recognised that ‘diplomatic action’ was neither feasible nor likely to be effective and were ‘anxious not to embarrass’ the government or ‘embitter relations’ between Britain and Germany. They suggested a three-pronged approach, which was discussed by the cabinet the following day. First, they urged the government to consider allowing into Britain children under 17 years of age on the basis that ‘Jewish organisations’ would guarantee that these children would not be a drain on the public purse. Knowing also the general opposition to Jewish refugees, they would ‘educate them and train them with a view to ultimate emigration’.98 This was probably the genesis of the so-called Kindertransport. That same month the independent MP, Eleanor Rathbone, founded the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees. A hardy campaigner on behalf of oppressed Jews, Rathbone’s admiration for Jewish contributions to society meant that she ‘viewed them as deserving of help’.99 Along with Harold Nicolson and some other MPs, Rathbone harangued ministers on behalf of refugees. Although the results were rarely satisfying, the government streamlined procedures for refugee entry into Britain and consular officials in Germany and sped up departures, an action also suggested by the Jewish delegation. Others, for instance Wyndham Deedes, a pro-Zionist who had been part of the British Palestine administration, and Professor Norman Bentwich, formerly Director of the League of Nations High Commission for Refugees from Germany, went out of their way to help refugees. Disparate groups such as the YMCA, the Society of Friends and other non-Jewish organisations worked together to house the children. As Tony Kushner points out, many Britons ‘especially after “Kristallnacht” were willing to put themselves out to help the refugees’.100 By the end



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of August 1939, 9,354 children had left Germany for Britain, although their parents remained to face an uncertain future. The Jewish community had been aiding refugees since 1933, but with the aid previously collected by Jewish leaders virtually exhausted and the number requiring assistance vastly expanded, more money was now needed. The Downing Street delegation therefore made their second suggestion that ‘distinguished representative men’, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, endorse a ‘fresh appeal for funds’. In the end, it was not Lang, but William Temple, Archbishop of York, who agreed to speak at an Albert Hall meeting on 1 December. Although intended to be a meeting reflective of general British indignation, like the one held about China the previous year, this was not the case. Leo Amery, the influential backbench MP, was asked to attend by Conservative Central Office. As he surveyed the audience, he noted that it was ‘very largely composed of Jews’ who were ‘anxious to hear our public men speak sympathetically about their coreligionists’. Temple, by no means lacking compassion, urged his audience to ‘keep alive’ their ‘capacity for feeling and moral judgment’. However, his audience must have been somewhat disappointed when the future primate outlined a history of injustices suffered not by Jews, but by Germans since the war. Particularly telling was his alignment of Britons and Germans. For Temple, both countries were susceptible to the ‘temptation’ of committing atrocities and he reminded the audience of the ‘dark pages in the story of the British Empire’, in order to undermine any temptation that Britain could ‘sit in judgement’ of Germany. Specifically, he ‘refused to identify’ the German people with deeds carried out ‘by the Nazi Party’.101 Cardinal Hinsley, Archbishop of Westminster, echoed his message while Herbert Morrison, Labour leader of the London County Council, appealed to ordinary Germans to let their leaders know that such ‘disgraceful occurrences’ should ‘cease’.102 Although these messages were equivocal, there were signs that such explicit violence touched a public nerve. Church leaders quickly announced the formation of ‘The Christian Council for Refugees from Germany and Central Europe’, which gave priority to ‘Christian refugees’.103 Isolated resolutions also condemned the pogroms. Durham miners, for example, called on British leaders to disassociate themselves from the German government, while a letter signed by representatives of religious



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and political organisations at Oxford University asked the government to ‘register its disgust and active opposition’ to Germany’s ‘ruling party’.104 Another deputation to Downing Street, this time from the Liberal party, the smallest of the main political parties by some distance, requested that greater numbers be given asylum.105 On 22 November, well-known humanitarians wrote to The Times stating, ‘we wish to record our solemn protest before the conscience of civilisation, against the persecution of the Jews in Germany.’106 Unlike letters received in response to previous atrocities, there was no challenge to the government, no call for a public response, no request for financial help and no ‘English’ characterisation of Jews as worthy victims. The third initiative to come out of the meeting with Jewish representatives at Downing Street was the creation of the Baldwin Fund for Refugees. Baldwin launched the appeal on 7 December via the BBC. He told listeners of ‘heartbreaking scenes’ as parents sent children out of Germany knowing they might ‘never see them again’, but he also reassured his audience that Britain was merely a ‘clearing house’ for refugees. In other words, refugees would soon be moved on. He appealed to the traditions of humanitarianism, although his compassionate appeal appeared to be driven by a desire to preserve Britain’s reputation. ‘[I]f we refuse this call and other nations play their part’, he declared, ‘how great our shame would be.’107 The Times’ decision to facilitate the fund, however, caused tension among the paper’s staff. One correspondent, recently returned from China, argued that Jewish persecution was ‘wholly negligible’ compared to Chinese suffering.108 On 12 December The Times was forced to print the first of three apologias, because announcement of the fund appeared to have stimulated anti-Jewish responses. Hoping that ‘elementary humanitarianism’ would not be outweighed by ‘latent anti-Semitism’, the paper attempted to counter arguments that wealthy Jews across the world ‘ought to provide for their poorer brethren’, that the problem was ‘too big for private charity’ and that ‘charity begins at home.’109 Two days later, the paper refuted the complaint that subscriptions from ‘prominent’ Jews were ‘incommensurate’ with their ‘special responsibility’ and argued there was ‘no foundation’ to the accusation that ‘rich Jews’ either waited ‘to help Jewish refugees’ or limited their ‘help to refugees of the Jewish



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religion.’110 A third editorial argued along similar lines while emphasising that there were ‘promising announcements’ that other countries would accept refugees.111 Christian leaders were also obliged to refute criticisms of the fund by those who thought that Jews should either cope alone or remain the responsibility of other Jews.112 Like The Times, they highlighted the plight of ‘non-Aryan’ Christians. Collections for the fund in cinemas and theatres were obstructed by ‘widespread Fascist protest’. Protestors interrupted a newsreel appeal by the Archbishop of Canterbury and paraded up and down London’s theatre quarter. Two million leaflets, so The Times estimated, were circulated by the British Union of Fascists ‘in and around London alone’.113 But protests orchestrated either by fascists, fascist sympathisers or anti-Semites spread beyond London. In Worthing, physiotherapist Joan Strange recorded in her diary the displays of hatred visited on those who worked on behalf of Jewish refugees. Strange herself was subjected to intimidation and threats and found scrawled outside her house ‘in tar’, the words ‘Jews get out’ and ‘Britons before aliens.’114 At the very least, ‘fascist’ bullying or the threat of it cannot be discounted as a factor in deterring pro-Jewish activity.115 But such attitudes could also be found in more lofty circles. P. Vos, joint Honorary Secretary for the Baldwin Fund, was forced to counter accusations from the medical profession that the fund was being used to establish ‘foreign medical competitors “in our midst”’.116 According to Louise London, even some ministers and Whitehall officials attempted to ‘curtail the effectiveness of Baldwin’s appeal.’117 All in all, donations to the appeal eventually amounted to a significant sum, but opposition to this fund was considerably more widespread and vitriolic compared to any carried out on behalf of other victims of atrocity.118

Divided loyalties During this period, Anglo-Jewish representatives, having received information emanating from the German press, in particular the ‘organ of the German secret police’ (probably Das Schwartz Corps), that Jews unable to leave Germany ‘were in real peril, even of destruction, and

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that this peril was immediate’, continued to lobby the government. Lord Winterton, chairman of an Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees, received another deputation on 7 December but was unimpressed when informed that threats to exterminate the Jews had been made within ‘the organ of the German secret police’. Winterton told the deputation that ‘there were some hopeful indications that contact would be established’ with the German government and while this remained a possibility, ‘no further official pressure’ would be ‘put on the Germans for obvious reasons’. For Winterton, although these contacts were ‘unofficial’ they displayed ‘a certain willingness’ to talk about reasonable terms for emigration119 This vague allusion was enough to resist pressure from a deputation fearful for the future of German Jews. But what was the nature of these diplomatic feelers? One contact, possibly the one to which Winterton referred, was via a British consular officer, known as Alexander, who had travelled to Berlin to organise the release of ‘a Jewish friend’ from Dachau. He reported to the Foreign Office that negotiations with the Gestapo were going well until the day after the nationwide German pogrom, ‘when they were extremely rude’. Alexander used a ‘letter of introduction’ to Rudolph Hess’s ‘assistant’, Herr von Pfeffer, in order to circumvent lower Nazi authorities.120 Although Pfeffer and his colleague, Herr Sthamer from the office of von Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Secretary, secured the release of Alexander’s friend, Pfeffer took the opportunity to make an astonishing set of proposals which, he claimed, could not be made formally because ‘they could not risk an official rebuff ’. Alexander reported the conversation to the Foreign Office: He said there was no friendship possible between Germany and England so long as we behaved as if [Britons] were a decadent race. Germany, however, would like us to behave like a strong imperialist race, in which case she would be delighted to divide the world with us, the yellow and black races to be England’s sphere of influence. Given such an agreement, Germany would soon settle the Spanish question to our satisfaction and give up her support for Japan. Meanwhile, Germany intended to make a great bloc in Eastern Europe in which not only the Czechs but also the Hungarians, the Ukrainians, and the Poles would be subject races.

Alexander’s response to this proposal, so he told J.K. Roberts of the Foreign Office, was that it was ‘quite impossible’ that Germany could



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‘expect’ England’s ‘friendship as long as Germany persecuted her Jewish minority, since we should naturally fear that she would treat Slavs in the same way’. At this point, Pfeffer assured Alexander that: the Jews were a special problem and that other minorities would not be treated in the same way. He made it clear that Germany intended to get rid of her Jews, either by emigration or if necessary by starving or killing them, since she would not risk having such a hostile minority in the country in the event of war. He also said that Germany intended to expel or kill off the Jews in Poland, Hungary and the Ukraine when she took control of those countries.

Clearly not taking the discussion seriously, Roberts appeared more interested in, first, a subsequent proposal which outlined the possibility of providing a home for the Jews ‘in Tanganyika’ or ‘preferably in the highlands of the Cameroons and Nigeria’, and, second, Pfeffer’s hope that an agreement between England and Germany would ‘confirm the Naval Agreement’ and ‘parity in the air’. This last part seemed reasonable to Foreign Office officials. Roberts then pointed out that Alexander had got the impression that both Pfeffer and Sthamer were: somewhat ashamed of the anti-Jewish excesses and anxious to find some way out which would enable Herr Hitler to make an offer to the world … Mr. Alexander found the utmost detestation of the recent excesses throughout Germany and particularly in Munich, where he knows of members of the Nazi Party who have resigned their party membership.121

The notion that Germans were essentially reasonable, even members of the Nazi party, who were apparently struggling to free themselves from the shackles of extremism, seemed to trump Pfeffer’s other, more sinister, revelations. This exchange came less than two months after the Munich Agreement and appeasement remained the firm policy of the government. Although it was perhaps unlikely that officials would take literally a proposal about Germany’s takeover of Eastern Europe, the subjugation of whole peoples and the mass murder of Jews, it nonetheless revealed that notions of conquest and mass murder were circulating among senior Nazis. At the very least, it should have acted as a warning and, in his favour, Winterton alerted the prime minister that, ‘there is every indication that the Germans are once again about to make another



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attack, of a more brutal and drastic nature than has yet taken place against the Jews.’ The ‘time was approaching’, he continued, ‘when it will be necessary to make a formal protest to the German Government against the treatment of its minorities, if only on the ground of the economic disturbance and embitterment of relationship’ between Germany and the rest of the world.’122 To his detriment, Winterton used the information to stonewall urgent appeals for action by the Anglo-Jewish community. It helped keep them within the limits of acceptable protest as dictated by the policy of appeasement. Although the policy of appeasement was in many ways the natural outworking of majority opinion towards Germany, the main thrust came from the prime minister. Following the nationwide pogrom in Germany, the persecution of Jews in Germany could no longer be sidelined so easily. Chamberlain wrote to his sister about the pogrom: ‘the persecution arose out of two motives, a desire to rob the Jews of their money and a jealousy of their superior cleverness. No doubt Jews aren’t a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself – but that is not sufficient to explain the pogrom.’123 Clearly, Chamberlain had little love for Jews but was ‘horrified’ by Germany’s actions.124 His biggest immediate concern after the pogrom was the effect it would have on Anglo–German relations. He was frustrated that there seemed to be ‘some fatality about Anglo–German relations which invariably blocks every effort to improve them’, but this did not stop him from trying. In doing so, he had to balance a number of strategic considerations that were often in conflict with one another. These included the protection of Britain’s international reputation, fear of public outrage and significant anti-refugee opinion.125 Additionally, he was keen to keep public attention away from British-controlled Palestine, which had just introduced quotas limiting the number of immigrants. But Chamberlain’s prime consideration was to identify the limits of German expansionist aims in order to satisfy them. The government, therefore, needed to control any signs of a public humanitarian response to the atrocity so that German sensibilities were not offended. The Times, as usual acting as the government’s mouthpiece, sought to dampen potential public outrage with its editorial on 16 November, the first after the German pogrom. It disparaged public



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expressions of indignation, arguing that these would have no effect on German authorities other than to ‘inspire more counter-attacks on British policy’.126 But it went further, claiming that it had ‘too often been the practice of English-speaking democracies to denounce or to applaud the denunciation of the oppression of minorities and to warm themselves in the moral glow generated by the liberation of their emotions in the fond delusion that something has thus been done’. The editorial, ‘Deeds Not Words’, reassured readers that the government was working hard on schemes to help the Jews.127 Channelling indignation into schemes that had government approval would, so it was hoped, contain the tone and content of the discourse. The government need not have worried, because the public generally continued to want to see things from a German point of view. There was some soul-searching as people asked how instances of violence fitted with what they ‘knew’ of Germany, but generally questioners came down on the side of the Germans by engaging in a process of false moral equivalence. For example, a meeting of the Northampton branch of the LNU, which was addressed by Liberal leader Archibald Sinclair, resolved they had no wish to ‘condone the crime against Herr vom Rath nor do we charge the German people with this shame’.128 A spate of letters to the press in December showed ordinary Britons still sympathised with ordinary Germans. After a New Statesman correspondent asked why the crowds who witnessed the violence, at times only carried out by ‘about 15 men with sticks’, did not respond with a ‘spontaneous outburst of indignation’, the periodical received a series of letters defending ordinary Germans. These claimed that witnesses had indeed protested, had helped Jews and had without exception denounced the violence or, in stark contrast, been so subdued by terror that they were unable to protest.129 If anything, the correspondent’s questioning evoked a greater response than the violence itself, and none of the letters seriously attempted to address the moral ambiguities faced by Germans. The Times received similar letters. One enthusiastic correspondent, declared ‘the German people’ should not be compared to their leaders, as an ‘ordinary German’ was ‘an uncommonly sympathetic person, kind, helpful, and genial’ and in possession of ‘all the homely virtues’ that also characterised Britons. Indeed, it was ‘from fear of not doing the right



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thing’ that he did ‘the worst thing imaginable’. The writer was in no doubt that if the violence continued, the German people would ‘awaken’ and make their country into ‘a State of law and justice.’130 This affectionate portrait of Germans drew a favourable response, most notably from R.A. Williams, Professor of German at Cambridge. He conceded that the ‘voice of protest’ had ‘not been audibly raised’, and even suggested that ‘silence’ equalled ‘consent’. Again, though, he mitigated the brutality, this time on the grounds that Germans could not be ‘judged from a purely Anglo-Saxon viewpoint’. He continued: The absolute guiding idea for the Germans of to-day is the national State. The State is the fate of all Germans, and the State pursues its remorseless way with ruthless disregard of the claims of any individuality except its own … There are very many German men and women whose intellectual and moral qualities would inevitably ensure our admiration and esteem for them as individuals, and who are yet capable of approving the persecution of the Jews. To these people that persecution will appeal as a tragic necessity laid by the fate upon the German nation, but at the same time as a mere accident in the deathless progress of the State… such people see hundreds of thousands of Jews sacrificed to the State, and see it almost with indifference, because they are ready to sacrifice themselves on the same altar.131

Thus, Williams’ mitigation goes so far as to imply that German inaction, when faced with mass brutality, was motivated by a sense of heroism and self-sacrifice. His thoughts on the subject betray a convoluted attempt to rationalise the unpalatable fact that ordinary Germans could condone barbarism. Once again, empathy for Germans won out. Williams was not alone. A letter, again to The Times, from the historian, G.M. Young, agreed with the German view, that anti-Jewish violence was ‘a matter of domestic, and not international concern’. Moreover, he believed that since the war, Germans had been: most harshly dealt with, and suffered the most galling indignities, at the hands of individual Jews, of Jewish firms, and public authorities in which the Jewish element was dominant. I am not prepared to deny, what Germans have often represented to me, that the restoration of Germany to economic health, and therefore national independence, was most grievously impeded by false views urged in London, Paris, and New York by Jews who only saw in the German lands a promising field for international exploitation.



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Yet, the pogrom clearly tested his patience. Surely, he inquired, ‘whatever appetite for revenge on the Jewish people’ might have existed, it ‘must by now be sated’? He asked whether Germany was so strong that it could ‘defy the conscience of the world’ and he questioned the value of German friendship.132 Young, like his peers, clearly wanted to see the best in Germany, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. However, underlying Young’s vexations was a common-sense antipathy to Jews that allowed considerable flexibility when judging German actions. Young was a Conservative, but the way he saw Jews as somehow monolithic and pernicious was not reserved to those on the right. Mary Agnes Hamilton, former Labour MP, former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Clement Attlee and associate of the Woolfs, the Huxleys, D.H. Lawrence and Lytton Strachey, was considered a ‘friend of the Jews’.133 Two weeks after the German pogrom, she sought to explain why such violence had occurred in a civilised nation that was a major power. Along with persistent propaganda which had ‘distorted and poisoned’ young minds, Hamilton attempted to understand Jew hatred. ‘How many people’, she asked, ‘could deny that they dislike Jews’ or dreaded the presence of them in such large numbers? For her, it was centuries of persecution that had taught Jews: many minor tricks of manner and faults of taste that exasperate…the inclination to cringe before the strong and bully the weak…that general insensitiveness of which tiny, yet unbearable, traits are the butting-in on intimate conversations, button-holing and boring you when you want to get away, standing, the while too near: involving you in the entire clan when you have accepted the individual, and so on – in a word, taking an ell when given an inch.

As well as being clannish and immune to self-criticism, Jews were the ‘servants of Capitalism’. Hamilton judged Jewish ‘faults’ in relation to commonly-held ideas of Englishness.134 Characteristics ascribed to Jews, although not necessarily deemed their fault, were the opposite of how the English viewed themselves. The unwillingness to ascribe English characteristics to Jewish victims in the same way as to other contemporary victims of atrocity affected the attitudes and actions of Britons, whether humanitarian in outlook or not. Mass Observation conducted a study of anti-Semitism in early



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1939. The timing and content of the survey brings the results within the scope of responses to the accelerated persecution of Jews in Germany. One part of the survey was conducted in the East End of London, where there was a relatively large and vibrant Jewish community, the other was nationwide. For the first part, volunteers were asked to observe everyday life in the streets and in other public places. Two conversations give a fairly representative view. The first, observed in a cafe, demonstrates the nature of casual anti-Semitism: 135

A café argument: 3 Cockneys – [aged] 25, were drinking coffee at counter and chatting. The proprietor, 45, was washing cups, he said during course of conversation to one of Cockneys (referring to a cake): ‘You’re a Jew wanting that for a penny.’ Cockney, 25: ‘Who, who’s a bloody Jew, not me, not fucking likely.’ They went on talking and laughing in undertones.

The second, heard in a public house, showed how these attitudes cut across sympathy: A young chap: ‘So you love Hitler? He’s a murderer.’ Another: ‘And Franco.’ B.J. (Bob Johnson, local character, flower-seller, notorious drunkard, exconvict) ‘Yes, I love Hitler.’ He takes off his cap. ‘Hitler’s a good chap.’ The attendant turns to a Jewish newsvendor, buys six Evening Standards and distributes them free, says: ‘That’s my contribution to the refugee fund. There you are, Bob, there’s a paper for you – bought from a Jew.’ General laughter and good humour.

The part of the survey carried out nationwide, however, revealed a more considered view. A ‘Left-winger’ from Bloomsbury shared with his social circle a ‘vague general aversion’ towards Jews, although he ‘spent much time and thought trying to rationalise it.’ A respondent from Milford-on-Sea stressed that Jews were ‘as good’ as Englishmen ‘but’, he continued, ‘and it is a big but … this opinion has been formed only … by making a conscious effort to be fair and tolerant.’ Overall, he was of the opinion that ‘I instinctively dislike Jews but am trying to teach myself not to.’ Another respondent, this time from Yorkshire, also revealed ‘an antipathy to Jews’ and although realising it was ‘unreasonable’, declared, ‘I am unable to overcome it.’ The survey organiser summed up the ‘almost unanimous’ view expressed by respondents who considered they were not anti-Jewish and yet subsequently proved ‘that secretly he or she is’. Moreover, this was ‘equally true of working class, middle class and upper



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class Observers, for all ages, sexes, areas, occupations, political views, educational standards. Many are ashamed of their covert hostility. Many who are openly pro-semitic, Communists, etc., nevertheless confess a secret contempt or dislike’.136 Britons struggled with their consciences to understand Germans, but they also experienced something of an internal battle when it came to Jews. However, whereas Germans were normally given the benefit of the doubt, underlying antipathy towards Jews was apparently impossible to overcome. Innate antipathy cut across the activities of humanitarians who traditionally contributed to compassionate causes. One ‘highly educated and cultured’ male, part of a group who spent ‘their leisure in good works’, was aghast at Jewish persecution, but ‘could never feel quite the same towards a Jew as a European’. Indeed, he felt, ‘a slight feeling of physical aversion’ on seeing a Jew and shrank from ‘close contact’. The reason for this, he believed, lay with the ‘undoubted and deeply rooted racial differences which could never be resolved’. An elderly woman of ‘exceptional enlightenment and energy’ felt similarly. She ‘could easily imagine herself getting to feel a horror of Jews, if she had been subjected to constant propaganda on the subject’ as had the Germans. Looking at the situation from a German perspective, allowed the woman to understand, if not condone, the violence inflicted on Germany’s Jews. Playing against a compassionate response were two other factors. First, the Jewish cause paled in comparison to other foreign crises. One respondent to the survey from Sheffield claimed she felt ‘sorry’ about Jewish persecution, but did not have ‘the same urge to help the Jewish refugees’ as she did ‘the Spanish’. She justified this with the well-used argument that wealthy Jews should take responsibility for ‘their own people’. A Cambridge resident noted that there was very little ‘interest … in the Jewish Problem’ in the town. In fact, the Baldwin appeal did not ‘arouse the enthusiasm stirred up, e.g. by appeals for Spain’. The same seemed to be the case in Liverpool where people did ‘get worked up about minorities… but so far as Jews are concerned they do not seem very perturbed’. A Cornish respondent claimed that people ‘do not seem to think of the Jewish Question as one affecting English people … Personally I rather admire them and deplore anti-Semitism, but I care



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less about Jewish than other sorts of refugees and persecutees [sic]’. There was a hierarchy of compassion and Jews were at the bottom. Second, there is evidence from the survey that the public, like Mary Agnes Hamilton, believed that Jews lacked English traits. For instance, one respondent from the Portsmouth area observed that there appeared to be an attitude ‘of tolerance combined with a certain after-all-they’re-not English air of superiority’ towards Jews, which resulted in ‘a feeling of distant sympathy for their troubles’. The Jews, the respondent continued: are alright – providing they don’t interfere with us…I am continually having my judgment distorted by the vision of the traditional Jew – waving hands, bulbous nose, and greasy, crinkly hair. Much as I would like to give the Jews my whole-hearted sympathy, this idiotic Music-Hall caricature occasionally finds its counterpart in real life, with the result that the physical revulsion I feel warps my vision.

Negative attitudes had an impact on the public’s readiness to donate money to help the Jews, although the desire to be seen to be doing the right thing sometimes overcame reticence. As one contributor to the survey noted when a collection was made for refugees in an Ealing cinema, most gave something, but many ‘probably contributed’ in order that others did not ‘think they were ungenerous’ and ‘one person was heard to remark “I suppose we must give something.”’ Likewise, in Reigate, there was ‘a surprising indifference’ among people who normally donated to charitable causes to give money to help ‘German Jews – to Baldwin’s [Fund]’. Nor were attitudes dependent on personal contact with Jews. In the words of one respondent, ‘I don’t mind the thought of the jews [sic] being prosecuted [sic] as a race, but I do mind when I think of them as individuals,’ while another from Sheffield claimed, ‘I have only met an odd Jew occasionally myself and have no particular feeling towards them individually, but at the bottom of my soul I do not like them as a race.’137 Generally, it would seem that instinctive anti-Semitism often compromised compassion. In a period crowded with humanitarian responses to atrocity, those most inclined towards action were hampered by anti-Jewish prejudices. Humanitarian action on behalf of Jews was not only embarked on with greater reluctance. but also met with more resistance than for other overseas victims of atrocity, who were readily



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inscribed with aspects of Englishness. For the most part, Jews were deemed un-English and often responsible for their own suffering. Tension caused by the juxtaposition of entrenched compassionate traditions and the recognised unacceptability of particular antiJewish prejudice meant that Jewish suffering could become the object of humour. As E.M. Forster put it, ‘[p]eople who would not ill-treat Jews themselves, or even be rude to them, enjoy tittering over their misfortunes; they giggle when pogroms are instituted by someone else and synagogues defiled vicariously.’138 As the situation in Europe grew more precarious, these attitudes, along with a genuine desire for peace, helped to maintain increasingly desperate attempts to hold on to a sense of optimism about Hitler’s promises. His speech to the Reichstag on 30 January 1939 attacked British opponents of appeasement and warned of what the future held for the Jews: ‘If international Jewry inside and outside Europe again succeeds in precipitating the nations in to a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth and with the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.’139 As Saul Friedländer points out, Hitler’s speech showed that ‘the possibility of annihilation was in the air.’140 The words of von Pfeffer had been a warning to the government, and now it was made public by the German Chancellor himself. However, the press chose to sideline or ignore the warning and instead concentrated on the positive aspects of Hitler’s speech. The Manchester Guardian failed to mention Hitler’s socalled ‘prophecy’, suggesting instead that the speech was a ‘typical’ rant but ‘set in a minor key’.141 The Times referred to the threat as a ‘sinister flourish’, but took heart from Hitler’s repeated assurance that Nazism was ‘not for export’. Hitler’s declaration that he desired ‘a long period of peace’, the paper reported, ‘belied the more nervous prophets’.142 The following day, it followed this up with the claim that Hitler’s speech was met with ‘a guarded and somewhat puzzled sense of relief ’.143 Vera Brittain, who heard the speech on the radio, found it difficult to listen to Hitler’s ‘aggressive, intermittently sarcastic voice’, although a ‘later translation’ led her to believe ‘it was a more pacific speech than everyone had expected.’ This view was shared by Chamberlain, who congratulated himself that his own public utterances had altered Hitler’s speech ‘at the last moment

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and made it more pacific.’144 As ‘stocks and trade generally improved at once in consequence’, this appeared to be a common feeling.145 On 15 March 1939, Germany invaded and annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia. The Times reported on ‘the work of the Gestapo in Prague’ and stated the situation of Jews was ‘to say the least, unpromising … to judge by the number of hearses and mourners in the Jewish cemetery this afternoon the number of suicides in the community must have been large.’ Additionally, removing Jews from their businesses was ‘proceeding at breathless speed’. It found consolation in the fact that the ‘Jew-baiting by civilians’, which had occurred in Vienna, was not being repeated and there was ‘reason to believe that Herr Hitler himself forbade any such excesses’.146 Even so, as Chamberlain issued a guarantee to Poland, it was increasingly obvious that Britons, fortified by the Munich crisis, were bracing themselves for another war with Germany. Peace campaigners such as Vera Brittain, despaired. A petition signed by over a million people called for a new peace conference. A planned meeting at the Queen’s Hall on 18 March and a deputation to Downing Street two days later had been ‘spoiled’ by ‘Hitler’s latest coup’. However, expressions of friendship towards Germans continued. George Bell, the Bishop of Chichester, recorded ‘a friendly message to the German people’ and the BBC assured him every effort would be made to broadcast it ‘on the foreign wave-length’.147 One MP, a Chamberlain supporter, wrote to The Times suggesting the shame of Versailles justified appeasement and that Englishmen had been ‘waiting and watching and praying’ that the German government would ‘decide to fulfil the inner desires of the German people’ and negotiate a reasonable settlement.148 Duff Cooper, who had resigned from the cabinet over the Munich Agreement, wrote an impassioned letter to The Times. The sufferings of Austrians and Czechs under Nazi rule, he declared, made the terms of Versailles seem lenient. ‘Some of us’, he continued, ‘are getting rather tired of the sanctimonious attitude which seeks to take upon our own shoulders the blame for every crime committed in Europe’.149 The publication of Duff Cooper’s letter was a sign that doubts about Chamberlain’s policy were growing, nonetheless, the bifurcation of Germans into the ‘good’ majority and ‘bad’ minority persisted even after the outbreak of war.

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Wa R : sP l i t t i n G t h e G e R m a n s

On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. On the same day, Chamberlain solemnly announced to the Commons that ‘the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe lies on the shoulders of one man – the German Chancellor.’ Yet, Britain, he continued, had ‘no quarrel with the German people, except that they allow themselves to be governed by a Nazi Government. As long as that Government exists and pursues the methods it has so persistently followed during the last two years, there will be no peace in Europe.’150 Liberal leader Sir Archibald Sinclair echoed these sentiments,151 while Labour’s Arthur Greenwood reiterated Chamberlain’s assertion: ‘We have no quarrel with the German people; but while we have no passion against people we shall enter this struggle with a grim determination to overthrow and destroy that system of government which has trampled on freedom and crucified men and women.’152 These were the terms, agreed by all main parties, underlying Britain’s declaration of war. A combination of attitudes that had developed since the last war meant this conflict was seen as a form of regime change, almost a fight to free the downtrodden German people. On 3 September 1939, war was declared. An editorial in The Listener advised that anti-Germanism should be shunned, because of Germany’s past ‘great contribution to civilised life’. Germany’s ‘tragedy – and ours’ was the Nazi leadership.153 These pronouncements reflected what was still the dominant feeling among Britons. Responding to a leaflet dropped by the Royal Air Force over Germany appealing to ordinary citizens opposed to the Nazis to resist them, George Orwell remarked that ‘all English people were delighted at this gesture’ because ‘we saw it as demonstration that we had no quarrel with the common people of Germany’.154 In contrast, a White Paper published in October 1939 detailing pre-war German atrocities found limited support. The Times called it ‘a terrible indictment’ and emphasised that victims were ‘for the most part Jews.’155 Sir George Bonner and five fellow barristers, who had been working with German refugees, confirmed that evidence from them ‘bears out the stories of Nazi brutality told in yesterday’s White Paper.’156

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Generally though, the government’s attempt to highlight atrocities caused an adverse reaction. The Manchester Guardian was surprisingly equivocal. It claimed the news was not new and argued the government was betraying ‘confusion of thought’. For the Guardian, it was ‘not an answer’ to show that ‘the Nazis did, and do, horrible things in their camps.’ No mention was made of the principal victims. Instead, the paper was more concerned that whatever the outcome, Germany might ‘at least free herself of this moral pestilence’.157 Most Britons were thoroughly opposed to any attempt to ignite anti-German feeling and officials saw the document as propaganda failure. Even Joan Strange, the refugee activist who thought the information in the White Paper ‘perfectly horrible’, believed that ‘the majority of Germans must hate the camps as we do.’ She added, ‘we must not work up hatred against the German people.’158 A letter to Lord Ponsonby, written on 4 September, claimed people in the Midlands did not ‘seem at all excited or bloodthirsty about this war’. They were united by an anti-Hitler attitude and ‘broad sympathy for the German people who were compelled to follow him’.159 It would seem that freeing Germans from the scourge of Nazism was more important than freeing Jews from persecution. As Norman Bentwich summed up, empathy with the German people had quickly become part and parcel of Britain’s ‘ethical standpoint in the war’.160 Once war broke out, news of planned or actual anti-Jewish measures quickly reached Britain. The Foreign Office was kept informed about the condition of Jews living in Poland by, for instance, Conservative MP Vyvyan Adams, who had helped two sisters escape from Warsaw and written down their account of the conditions. They detailed desperate food shortages and the casual approach of German authorities to the murder of Jews. An uncle of the girls, having received a permit to visit the home he had been expelled from, ‘was shot in the back’ as he entered. His wife found his body with a label attached: ‘Found in the street without a permit at 8:10 p.m.’ Also included in the report were details of the enforcement of ‘racial laws’, forced labour, deportations from which victims ‘never returned’ and group murders in ‘full daylight’. On leaving Warsaw, the girls were asked to ‘tell the people of England that we need their help, and that unless we are saved quickly we shall all be starved and tortured to death.’161

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The Jewish origin of this and other reports, however, affected the way they were received. One Foreign Office official commented that ‘Jewish sources are always doubtful.’162 Rex Leeper, Director of the Political Warfare Executive, was equally inclined to dismiss accounts on the grounds that ‘as a general rule Jews are inclined to magnify their persecutions. I remember the exaggerated stories of Jewish pogroms in Poland after the last war.’ These, he continued, ‘were found to have little substance’.163 Like others most able to act, Leeper, key to the propaganda effort and well able to use atrocity reports to galvanise public opinion, was hampered by long-standing mistrust of Jews. But that was not all. On 2 October 1940, he wrote a memorandum outlining departmental policy: The summer is ending; Germany has not beaten Britain; a second war winter is coming, and the first one was unpleasant enough for Germany; it is going to be not a short war, as the Germans hoped, but a long war; Germany has made great conquests, but the conquered peoples are her enemies, liable to revolt at the first opportunity. These briefly are the reasons why the German people may be expected now to enter a period of mistrust of their leaders and disillusionment. Propaganda will have to take advantage of this situation.164

Leeper let his belief in the revolutionary potential of ordinary Germans dictate policy. The public had also been kept informed of atrocities via the press. On 24 October 1939, The Times reported on a German plan from ‘well informed circles’ that three million Jews were to be deported to the Lublin region of Poland without any means of supporting themselves. This, the paper concluded, ‘would doom them to famine’.165 On 7 November, it provided readers with further details of persecution, ruination, and forced migration and noted that Jews were ‘naturally treated with greater ruthlessness’ than others.166 Three days later it reported that Jews were being transported to Nisko, a town not far from Lublin. Later that month, it elaborated on the ‘creation of a Jewish reserve’: The haste with which the reserve is being created out of nothing forces the Germans to resort to desperate improvisations. Trains are said to stop in the open country, 25 miles from Lublin…It is understood that by November 10, 45,000 Jewish men, women, and children had been dispatched to the reserve from Teschen, Oderberg, Mahrisch Ostrau,

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Prague, Pilsen and other towns in Bohemia and Moravia, as well as from Vienna and the new Reich districts of Danzig, West Prussia, and Posen. Under the supervision of S.S. ‘Death’s Head’ units, the Jews are put to work on road-building and the drainage of the marshland.167

By December, the paper declared it was: clear that the scheme envisages a place for gradual extermination, and not what the Germans would describe as a Lebensraum. The maximum deportation programme comprises all the Jews now under German control; 180,000 from the original Reich, 65,000 from Austria, 75,000 from the Czech Protectorate, some 450,000 from the annexed Provinces of Poland, and nearly 1,500,000 from the Polish Reststaat [Remainder State].

Although the original Nisko plan was far-reaching and exterminatory in intention, it was quickly abandoned. Whether or not The Times’ estimation of numbers was correct, the numbers, as the report observed were ‘very nearly irrelevant: it amounts to a mass massacre.’168 The same was true for the establishment of Jewish ghettos. After German authorities decided to ‘bring home to the Reich’ ethnic Germans scattered throughout eastern countries, Poles and Jews were forcibly ousted from their homes. Hans Frank, the civilian ruler of the eastern area of German-occupied Poland, known as the General Government, obstructed moves to transfer Jews to his area. Many were therefore forced into a demarcated area of Lodz. The Times reported this new development on 27 February 1940.169 By March 1940, it revealed that approximately two million Polish Jews had ‘been practically outlawed’ and each was ‘obliged to wear distinctive marks on their clothing – pieces of yellow cloth sewn on the back of the arms, or a white armlet with the Shield of David in blue’. At the beginning of October 1940, The Times described in detail the suffering of Jews transported from German occupied territories to Poland over the past nine months: In the appalling cold of last January up to 10 trains a day left the annexed provinces with people herded together, mostly in cattle trucks. Transports are known to have been en route for as long as 18 days, and numbers of people froze to death … With well over 1,000,000 Poles and Jews’ driven into the General-Gouvernement, a poor territory and burdened with a large and ruined capital city overcrowding is an obvious danger … strict hierarchy with regard to the distribution

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of food will regulate the incidence of hunger to suit the Nazi Weltanschauung. The German Army comes first, then the S.S., the Reichsdeutsche, the Volksdeutsche, after them the Poles, and last, if anything is left the Jews.170

Reports of these events in the Manchester Guardian followed a similar trajectory. Information of Hitler’s intention to ethnically reorder Europe, even if less prominently placed in newspapers than some other war news, was there for all to read. While press coverage of the atrocities committed by Germans and Turks in the Great War had contributed to a tidal wave of public indignation on behalf of victims, in this case reaction was muted. Although the information about anti-Jewish atrocities was in the public sphere, it did little to shift attitudes towards the victims. For instance, one contributor to Mass Observation recounted a conversation in early January 1941 between a friend and ‘a Jewess’ who was told: You Jews don’t care about the war, you are international, if you are bombed out or thrown out you always have another country to go to. Sister in Russia, brother in America, someone here or there, relatives in every country of the world. What do you care if my son, like all the English, is supposed to be fighting for freedom – a fat lot of freedom we get – we are fighting for the landowners and the Jews.171

According to this interpretation, Jews were somehow untouched by war because their perceived connections (and, no doubt, wealth) allowed them to move effortlessly away from the conflict. Jews, according to this logic, did not care about the same things as Englishmen. This was not true of Germans. A few weeks later, the same respondent wrote that ‘I feel in my heart that I don’t hate the young German soldier, I feel he’ll not wish to invade us – he’ll be scared stiff and … he’d rather be at home with sweetheart and family’.172 Like Britons, ordinary Germans who displayed British values were seen to be reluctant participants in the war and would prefer to return to home and hearth. An assault by Sir Robert Vansittart on this widely held view caused a national row.

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Black record Vansittart was a household name, despite having been shunted from his job as Permanent Under-Secretary to the Foreign Office to the grander sounding but less influential Chief Diplomatic Advisor to the Government.173 On 3 September 1940, the first anniversary of the outbreak of war and while the Luftwaffe was pounding Britain, he made the first of a series of BBC broadcasts. Taken together, the broadcasts reflected his pre-war distrust of Germany and his anti-appeasement views. Significantly, they were, according to Norman Rose, ‘in a highlysimplified form for mass consumption’.174 The broadcasts were sponsored by Minister of Information Duff Cooper, and sanctioned by Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax. Vansittart’s connection to the government made the broadcasts a litmus test for public opinion and it was feasible that in the autumn of 1940, with Germany in the ascendancy and the ending of the ‘phony war’, that beneficence towards German people was in increasingly short supply. For Vansittart’s opponents, apparent ministerial sanction together with his status helped give the impression that he was foreshadowing a new government policy of, as the New Statesman put it, ‘war against the Germans and not against the Fascists’.175 In January 1941, the broadcasts were published as Black Record (which incidentally was dedicated to American journalist Dorothy Thompson, described by Tony Kushner as ‘Eleanor Rathbone’s counterpart in the United States’).176 Vansittart’s aim, among others, was to show that Germany was carrying out a systematic policy of racial extermination. He believed the nation had a tradition of aggressive behaviour, evident from the annihilation of the Hereros and the atrocities committed in the Great War, and Hitler was its logical conclusion.177 Present-day atrocities, therefore, were ‘no accident’ and he pointed to the ‘catalogue of horrors’ concurrently being endured by ‘Jews, Czechs, Poles and Germans too’. As the German liberal tradition had been too weak to exert steadfast influence, he argued, Germans would need to be re-educated after the war. However, Vansittart’s expectation that the ‘hurricane of cruelty’ being inflicted on populations living in German-occupied territories would be succeeded by a ‘wave of indignation’, did not happen. Instead,

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a split appeared between those who broadly agreed with Vansittart and his opponents.178 Vansittart was supported by influential politicians, for example, Duff Cooper, Arthur Greenwood and Harold Nicolson; some notable press heavyweights, such as the Sunday Times and The Spectator; the writers H.G. Wells (to an extent), Leonard Woolf and academics including Lewis Namier and A.L. Rowse.179 It is conceivable that he also had covert support from Winston Churchill. Key elements of Vansittart’s thesis were pertinent. His supporters believed that condemnation of German atrocities, past and present, was the best way to mobilise commitment to the war effort and ultimately secure peace. Public discussion of atrocities would also, they believed, put pressure on the perpetrators to stop and, perhaps most of all, force the German population under threat of punishment to prevent their government, and agents of it, engaging in more slaughter, brutality, expropriation and other crimes. As The Spectator argued, ‘the most effective method of inducing people to act in a desired way is to bring it home to them that if they act contrary to your wishes, the consequences will be dire, but, if they act in accordance with them, the consequences will be beneficial.’180 There were, however, good reasons to object to Vansittart’s views. He described Germany as a ‘butcher-bird’, and referred to incidents of German aggression dating back to Tacitus, which implied anti-German racism, a charge Vansittart was at pains to deny.181 Vansittart also attracted some unsavoury characters, from the German haters of the Never Again Association who refused collaboration with ‘any German’, to Jew haters such as Conservative MP Maurice Petherick.182 Even his supporters cringed at his combative style. Labour’s Hugh Dalton, Minister of Economic Warfare and later President of the Board of Trade, thought Black Record ‘true in substance’ but ‘hysterical and venomous in tone’.183 The Spectator lamented that Vansittart had ‘weakened his case by over-stating it, and that when it comes to the use of words violence is not strength’.184 Moreover, Vansittart was accused of presenting his case in an un-English way. For Nicolson, Vansittart’s ‘emphatic manner, his use of sharp muscle-bound metaphors, his avoidance of cotton-wool and tissuepaper, his very conviction, do in fact render the exposition of his theory somewhat stark. The British public do not care for nakedness; they prefer that even their wolves should be dressed in sheep’s clothing’.185

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Vansittart’s style certainly gave his more numerous opponents plenty of ammunition. He was attacked by Conservative politicians and noted appeasers, such as Samuel Hoare, Lord Londonderry, Lady Astor and Lord Bedford; Labour politicians Herbert Morrison and Lord Faringdon; Liberal politician Lord Noel Buxton; peace campaigners Lord Ponsonby and Vera Brittain and Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office Alexander Cadogan, who criticised ‘Van’s ridiculous (and vulgar) broadcast’. The Tory press, The Times and Express; the socialist and Liberal press, for instance, the Manchester Guardian, Daily Herald, the News Chronicle, Reynold’s News, The Economist, Picture Post and the New Statesman, all weighed in.186 Opponents of Vansittart, mobilised and organised, held meetings to discuss counter-strategies to what they saw as anti-Germanism. The 1941 Committee was one of these.187 Along with its chairman, J.B. Priestley, it included luminaries and humanitarians – Richard Acland, Edward Hulton, Julian Huxley, Margaret Storm Jameson, David Low and Kingsley Martin. C.E.M. Joad and G.P. Gooch. These vocal opponents were joined by Church leaders as well as by pro-Jewish activists like Eleanor Rathbone and Victor Gollancz. Internationalists on the left found themselves in agreement with ardent nationalists in condemning Vansittart. However, Vansittart’s opponents were equally guilty of distorting arguments, exaggerating and obscuring matters in order to influence the public. They seised on Vansittart’s linguistic flights of fancy and paraded them as factual inaccuracies. He was accused of being motivated by a ‘desire for revenge’; of wanting to enslave 80 million Germans; of advocating a ‘policy of [German] extermination’, and of espousing a theory that was effectively, as William Temple observed, ‘the Nazi heresy read backwards’.188 As one commentator indignantly put it, ‘the Germans are to be for the British what the Jews are for Nazi Germany, a universal scapegoat.’189 Driving the indignation were the notions that ordinary Germans shared so-called English traits and that Germany was, traditionally, a bastion of liberalism. There was a predisposition to believe that Germans were innocent of supporting the Nazi government; that they were against the persecution of the Jews and were even ready (or at least getting ready) to overthrow the Hitler regime. Various arguments were employed to distance ordinary Germans from atrocities. As Harold Laski saw it, Germany had been subjugated

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by ‘perhaps ten thousand gangsters’ who had ‘brutally exercised almost unlimited power’.190 Nazi leaders were described in the New Statesman as ‘social outcasts’ and Nazism itself as an aberration.191 Britain, it was argued, could easily have gone the same way as Germany.192 With German victimhood still at the forefront of the argument, Laski urged Britons to demonstrate their historic tendency for ‘fair play’ and not to punish Germans just because they had not experienced England’s fortunate heritage. Germany was passing through ‘a period of unreason’ and in any case, because Britons had committed colonial atrocities of their own, condemnation of Germans would be hypocritical.193 G.M. Young was another who evoked ‘fair play’, claiming ‘[m]agnanimity towards the vanquished’, by which he meant Germans, had always been ‘a characteristic of the English people’.194 Supporting the idea of German victimhood was Sebastian Haffner, a German refugee who worked on anti-Nazi propaganda for the British government. In a 1941 pamphlet entitled Offensive Against Germany, he ascribed to Germans ‘national characteristic[s]’ and painted a mournful picture of a race, who from the time of the ‘Cimbri and Teutons’, had endured ‘catastrophic defeat and tragedy’. The Nazis, in ‘a mass-hypnotic frontal attack’ on ‘all Germans’, had convinced them that they were the ‘most easily conquered nation in the world’. It was because of this that they were unable to fathom ‘fantasy and myth’ from ‘fact and reason’.195 Humanitarians, such as Eleanor Rathbone, found Haffner’s portrayal of German victimhood appealing and deduced from his ‘brilliant’ analysis that: Our potential allies in Germany are not, as are the natives of German occupied territories, disarmed, and so powerless to help us except by industrial sabotage and passive resistance. They are part of a conscripted nation, actually members of the armed forces or relatives and friends of such men. Not now, but when the tide of war begins to turn against Hitler, their chance will come for surrendering, throwing down their arms or turning them against their oppressors.196

For Rathbone, Germans were temporarily being kept in stasis by the machinery of terror, the existence of which was a sign that a healthy opposition existed in Germany.197 Undoubtedly she was committed to helping the oppressed and dying and perhaps did more than anyone else in Britain to help draw attention to the Jewish cause. Yet, by over-emphasising

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the revolutionary potential of the German people she created an unrealistic impression that commitment to the war effort by Britons would enable Germans to rise up and speedily bring down the Nazi regime. Rathbone was not alone in predicting Germans would rebel. Senior Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan, Stafford Cripps and Phillip Noel-Baker also believed that ‘the war would principally take the form of an uprising inside Germany’,198 while Laski argued that as the German population had been ‘secretly humiliated for years’, they were ‘cherishing in their humiliation the hope of revenge’.199 Referring to a revolt by German sailors against their officers at the end of the Great War, the Evening Standard popularised the idea of revolution in Germany when it predicted ‘Another Kiel’.200 Emphasising the insurgent potential of the ‘good’ majority in Germany created false expectations that humane government would soon be restored. The persistent implication that Jewish suffering would be over, arguably placed limits on the humanitarian impulse. At the root of this belief was a perceived connection between Britons and Germans. Victor Gollancz, the influential publisher, wrote an extensive rebuttal to Black Record, entitled Shall Our Children Live or Die? (1942), which The Times made their ‘book of the week’.201 Central to it was Gollancz’s belief that change in Germany was dependent on ‘a fight of those below culminating in the overthrow of those above.’ He requested readers to consider the type of people that comprised the German masses: We are talking about the great masses of ordinary, common people: the mother with her baby, the little clerk, the worker at his bench…do you really believe that, given these, the average Herr Schmidt of Hamburg will be any more likely to satisfy his aggression by starving and murdering and torturing his fellow men than the average Mr. Smith of Clapham.202

These ideas were echoed in Parliament. Labour MP R.R. Stokes asked Churchill, by now prime minister, ‘[a]re not the Germans much more our hereditary friends than anyone else?’203 These left-wingers found support in unlikely places. The Duke of Bedford, suspected of being a Nazi sympathiser but not interned, declared that the majority of the Germans were fundamentally ‘decent’ and ‘resemble[d] our own people’.204 Surprisingly, Bedford found himself in agreement with Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, the very person with the power to intern him.205 The Economist confirmed that:



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During the whole era of appeasement and even during the months of ‘phoney war,’ it was difficult to rouse people to any deep feeling of resentment even against the Nazis. On the whole, sympathy for the Germans as the only Continental people with ‘Anglo-Saxon’ standards of order and cleanliness still outweighed the chronicle of horror from the concentration camps.206

The Anglo–German connection was alive and well in British minds even during wartime. Although the question of Germany aroused considerable disagreement, all sides saw the debate as fundamentally connected to the question of why Britain was fighting the war at all. But the fact is, that for much of the war Britons could not agree on whom they were fighting, whether it was Germans or Nazis. George Orwell noted in his diary in February 1941, the growing ‘division of opinion…as to whether we are fighting the Nazis or the German people.’207 H.N. Brailsford asked, ‘who or what is our enemy? Is it Germany, our rival and competitor, or is it her philosophy?’208 Harold Nicolson commented in August 1941, ‘it may seem strange to foreign observers that the British people should embark upon the third year of the Second German War without having achieved any common or consistent opinion upon the nature of their enemy.’209 The debate split the country, often acrimoniously, but not along political fault lines. It percolated throughout wartime society and was discussed at all levels, from high politics, the national press and radio, to the everyday workplace and even the family home. It revealed the strong current of conflict swirling below frequent assertions of national wartime unity. To concentrate on Vansittart himself misses the point, and does not do justice to the debate’s long history or the depth of feeling it engendered. Views could, of course, be held with varying degrees of vehemence, but broadly speaking, one side tended to emphasise German atrocities, whereas the other was inclined to play them down. That the most impassioned attempt to play them down came from the very people with a history of humanitarian concern for oppressed peoples created considerable confusion. The polemical nature of the debate, which prevented constructive deliberation about the permeation of Nazi values into German society, also led those who were most sensitive to foreign atrocities to rationalise those committed by German forces.



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In June 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union. This ‘ideological war of extermination’ was waged to expose and eradicate ‘Bolshevism and international Jewry’. As German forces swept into Russia, mobile task forces, the Einsatzgruppen, along with the German order police and with the help and complicity of the Wehrmacht, eliminated perceived enemies including ‘partisans and saboteurs, commissars, state and Communist Party officials and Jews.’210 Within weeks there were mass shootings of Jewish men, women and children. The Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park intercepted German messages detailing mass murder of Jews and Russians. For example, one report in August alluded to an intercepted message referring to the murder of ‘partisans and Jewish Bolsheviks’: ‘The operation of the SS Reit-Brigade continue. Up to today mid-day a further 3,600 have been executed, so that the total of executions carried out by the Reit-Brigade up to now amounts to 7,819. Thus the figure of executions in my area now exceeds the 30,000 mark.’ The British analyst continued, ‘The tone of this message suggests that the word has gone out that a definite decrease in the total population of Russia would be welcomed in high quarters and that the leaders of the three sectors stand somewhat in competition with each other as to their “scores”.’211 Dalton informed Foreign Secretary Eden that the German army was executing hostages and urged ‘strongly’ that broadcasts to Germany should contain an unequivocal message that war criminals would not ‘go unpunished’. He also suggested that inhabitants of German-occupied territories ‘should be encouraged to record any names and incidents which would be useful to those judging criminals after the war’.212 But he came up against sarcastic and strident opposition. Deputy Head of Central Department, R.M. Makins, thought Dalton’s ideas impractical and potentially ‘embarrassing’, declaring that: Although the vision of Dr. Dalton as a witch-doctor smelling out the German criminal from one end of Europe to the other is a terrifying one, the question whether it should be revealed to Europe is by no means easy to decide. Personally I am sceptical about the effect of threats, nor do I think that we should give way to a desire for revenge or stimulate that desire in other people. It seems to me that we should do what is possible to avoid a ‘Hang the Kaiser’ campaign.



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Vengeance, he continued, should be left to Germany’s ‘neighbours’, but even then he questioned whether ‘subordinate officials’ should be held responsible for their superiors’ actions.213 Eden and other officials agreed.214 With dreadful irony this exchange took place at the same time 33,771 Jews were murdered by German shooting squads at Babi Yar outside Kiev.215 The massacre at Babi Yar was finally reported in The Times about three months later on 7 January 1942.216 But the widely held belief in the innocence of ordinary Germans still influenced the way news was received and interpreted. Veteran humanitarian campaigner, Gilbert Murray, wrote to The Times wishing to ‘sum up a controversy on which gallons of angry ink are being wasted’, in other words, the German debate. He drew attention to the now infamous Reichenau order, recently captured and published by the Soviet authorities, which called on German troops to steel themselves for ‘tasks which exceed[ed]’ their usual routine. Soldiers, the order stated, must fully understand ‘the necessity of a severe but just revenge on subhuman Jewry’.217 Murray condemned the document, but argued it betrayed throughout ‘the efforts of a brutal high command to force its methods upon an unwilling or half-willing army’: It is full of complaints. ‘Our troops fail to hunt the enemy in the proper manner. They continue to take cruel and perfidious guerrillas as prisoners.’ Villagers, it complains, are actually allowed ‘to feed from the German field-kitchens. Such an attitude on the part of our troops can only be described as absolutely frivolous. The supply of food to local inhabitants and prisoners of war is unnecessary humanitarianism.’ The picture is clear enough; the soldiers not yet quite willing to commit the cruelties ordered by the Nazi leaders, though of course not venturing to protest or resist. A completely brutalised army would not have needed a Reichenau order.218

Despite clear proof that Jews were the primary target of an exterminatory policy concurrently being conducted by German troops, Murray, by scanning the document for evidence of German humanitarianism and therefore mitigating the actions of the German army, showed he too believed in the innocence of most Germans. That The Times published Murray’s letter perhaps suggests the paper supported his interpretation of the order.



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evidence mounts Further evidence of mass murder accumulated throughout 1942. AngloJewish representatives received increasingly lurid details of life and death in the ghettos. The Jewish Labour Bund in Warsaw smuggled out a detailed report of the way in which Jews, deemed ‘unfit’ for work, were sent from the Lodz ghetto to be gassed at Chelmno. Nonetheless, the government’s desire to ‘damp down’ the atmosphere in the face of the clear radicalisation of German atrocities contributed to their refusal to sign a joint declaration made by the Allied governments-in-exile on 13 January 1942, which attempted to make the trial and punishment of war criminals a ‘principle war aim’.219 Contributing to the government’s ability to avoid responding to atrocity stories, according to Jewish MP Sidney Silverman, was the lack of press coverage. But this was not the only reason. Despite Silverman’s belief in a ‘conspiracy of silence in the Press’, news of continuing anti-Jewish atrocities did reach the public, if only in fits and starts.220 Nonetheless, a survey conducted in early 1942 by Mass Observation, ‘Private opinion about the German people’, suggests a majority were still inclined to see Germans as victims. Contributors were asked what they thought of Germans and whether their opinion had changed since the start of the war. Results revealed a spectrum of attitudes, from ‘vindictiveness and hatred’ to ‘uncompromising pro-German’. Among those who expressed dislike for Germans was a smattering of people who thought in extreme terms. However, most of those who were more antagonistic had only become so relatively recently, and perhaps even more pertinent was the evidence that ‘people are loath to come to such a conclusion, and appear to be fighting against it.’ One respondent, for example, although regarding Germans ‘entirely as represented by their official atrocities everywhere in Europe,’ nonetheless, believed that ‘this instinct is in complete contradiction to my intelligence and my expressed ideas.’ Although the trend at this moment in time was towards a more antagonistic stance, overall, 53 per cent of respondents were categorised as ‘Pro-German’. Among this group were those who considered that Germans had been ‘foolish or misled’, that there were ‘extenuating circumstances’ for their behaviour, or that the present situation was ‘not mainly their fault’.



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Many other respondents displayed a predisposition to feel positively about the enemy. For instance, a school teacher claimed Germans had always been ‘superior to any other European people’, while a film director maintained his positivity towards Germans had ‘not changed in the last 25 years’. Interestingly, although a clear majority of those surveyed had ‘no vindictive feelings’ towards ordinary Germans and many of had ‘a considerable measure of goodwill’, there was a ‘tacit assumption’ among this group ‘that they [were] in the minority’. Also interesting was that this group tended to see cultural and racial similarities between Britons and Germans. One respondent commented that Germans ‘are more like us than any other race’, another that ‘they are just as good as the English’, while another observed that ‘the German people are like ourselves.’ Yet another considered Nazis subhuman, but the German masses in their ‘homes and round the firesides’ were ‘a sad deceived people’. Such attitudes meant that Germans were often absolved of blame for supporting the Nazi regime or the war. It seemed clear to British observers that ordinary Germans could not take any responsibility for atrocities. Sometimes these sentiments were expressed with a sense of paternalistic superiority. Germans were described, on the one hand, as ‘industrious, intelligent, [and] ambitious’, but on the other, as children who were ‘smashing all the toys in the nursery’ and who believed its mother ‘perfect and omniscient’. It was the ‘Nazi clique’ or what one respondent termed ‘a few madheads’, who were largely held responsible. Young Germans educated since 1933 were singled out for exoneration, as they had been warped by their ‘one-sided Nazi education’ or were ‘temporarily depraved, having been hypnotised by the Nazis doctrines’. Others could not see how most Germans could ‘be blamed for the war’ or for the actions of ‘their worst criminals’. These were ‘victims of circumstance’ not ‘enemies’. A sense of benevolence spilt over into feelings of pity. For one respondent, Germany had proportionally more ‘Fascists’ than other countries, therefore s/he felt ‘extreme sympathy for the dilemma and the suffering with which the honest ones are faced.’ Others understood Germany’s grievances or claimed Germans needed ‘sympathy as much as we do, if not more so.’ A steady number, though, remained convinced that Germans were ready to revolt and ‘to throw these devils off ’.



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Indeed, one respondent commented that ‘by repudiating Vansittart’s broadcast…we may encourage the German people to revolt against the Nazis and to trust us.’221 It was significant that such a survey should be carried out at all in wartime, when the nation was arguably fighting for its very existence. Clearly the issue of ordinary Germans was important. Overall. though, what the survey reveals is the persistence of pre-war beliefs about Germany, the same beliefs that underpinned the policy of appeasement, even when faced with growing evidence of atrocities on an unprecedented scale. The likely extermination of ‘certain populations’, by which they meant Jews but were reluctant to say so, prompted governments-in-exile to further pressurise the British government to take proactive measures. Partly in response to this, Churchill suggested to Franklin Roosevelt the establishment of a United Nations War Crimes Commission.222 A set of ground rules was drawn up by the president’s staff and on 6 July 1942 ‘approved in principle’ by the War cabinet.223 It was, so one Foreign Office document stated, to be ‘a fact-finding Commission similar to the Bryce Committee on Atrocities in Belgium in the last war’. Conclusions would be ‘published’ periodically in order to inform the public about ‘the nature our enemies, spurring [Allied peoples] to renewed efforts to defeat them’. Moreover, it was suggested that war criminals be named, thereby letting the guilty know they were ‘being watched by the civilised world’ which would ‘mete out swift and just punishment on the reckoning day’.224 What Dalton had recommended nearly a year before was finally given serious consideration. However, the establishment of the commission was not announced until 7 October 1942 and its first meeting did not take place until a year after that.225 One reason for the delay can be found in the Foreign Office itself. Officials, still concerned about Germany, reiterated fears about ‘another “Hang the Kaiser” campaign.’ They believed publicity would mean ‘a whole host of busybodies in this country would be stirred into action.’226 Making the need for action more urgent was the fact that the Foreign Office had received ‘numerous reports of large scale massacres of Jews, particularly in Poland’ and specifically a telegram from Gerhart Reigner, the Geneva representative of the World Jewish Congress.227 This stated that European Jews were subject to a comprehensive plan of



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extermination, although the news was dismissed as a ‘wild story’, albeit a potential embarrassment should it be found to be true. As one official put it, ‘the less put in writing the better.’228 Information about the massacres was also increasingly available to the public. On 11 May 1942, the Manchester Guardian reported a speech by Chaim Weizmann in which he estimated that ‘at least 25 per cent of all European Jews’ would be ‘physically destroyed’ during the war.229 On 10 June 1942, The Times detailed the ‘massacres of tens of thousands of Jews’, either by starving or ‘mass executions’.230 On 25 June, the Daily Telegraph reported that 700,000 Polish Jews had been killed by mobile gas chambers, while five days later, both The Times and the Manchester Guardian reported a speech by Silverman in which he pointed out that the Germans were not bothering to hide ‘their intention to exterminate the Jewish race. Already in countries ruled by Germany over 1,000,000 Jews had lost their lives since the war began.’231 Furthermore, footage of German atrocities was shown in cinemas. A lady by the name of Yvonne Hudson complained to The Times that children watching Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book at a cinema in Chelsea were subjected to ‘a horrifying news reel of the German atrocities in Russia’. For Hudson, this was a ‘criminal folly’. But the evidence was there for the public.232 In July and August, the news of brutal Jewish deportations from Vichy France also reached Britain. A letter from the Swiss humanitarian activist, Regina Kägi-Fuchsmann, to a B.H. Heine of Edgware, Middlesex, was forwarded to the Foreign Office: The panic is appalling and we all fear this is only the first round of the ‘purge’. Already mass-imprisonments of people who lived in freedom have taken place. The camps are filling up again, probably in readiness for the next forcible kidnapping…It seems to me important, exceedingly important, that people in England…should know and publish these things … The monstrous evil runs it course. Children are not spared. After having destroyed their identification papers transportation is beginning. No one knows yet where to.233

Sir Herbert Emerson, the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, pleaded with Home Secretary Herbert Morrison to allow 1,000 Jewish children visas. Morrison had spoken at a protest meeting organised by international Labour on 2 September about the treatment



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of European Jews. However, being suspicious of so-called ‘enemy aliens’, Morrison would only permit ‘exceptional cases’ to be admitted to Britain. By ‘exceptional’ he meant those who would be ‘directly advantageous to our war effort’, because admitting too many would inflame ‘the antiforeign and Anti-Semitic feeling which was quite certainly latent in this country’. Additionally, he feared that any gesture of generosity would compel Britain to ‘accept additional refugees’ in the future.234 Regardless of the extreme difficulties of prizing people away from the clutches of pro-Nazi French authorities, this mean-spirited response was probably a fair reflection of the public mood. Churchill, it seems, was aware of this and let his frustration spill over in the Commons: The cruelties, the massacres of hostages, the brutal persecution in which the Germans have indulged in every land into which their armies have broken, have recently received an addition in the most bestial, the most squalid, and the most senseless of all their offences – namely, the mass deportation of the Jews from France, with the pitiful horror attendant upon the calculated and final scattering of families.235

About a month later, the prime minister fired off another salvo at a speech in Edinburgh, but the response was decidedly lacklustre. Edward Stebbing, a discharged soldier from Essex, thought Churchill’s speech ‘almost boring’ because he had gone on about ‘German atrocities’.236 For him, the idea of exterminating Germans (an idea that opponents had deliberately and falsely attributed to Vansittart) because they ‘had evil in their blood’ was ‘simply Nazism inverted’.237 The New Statesman attempted to dampen potential public ardour against enemy atrocities by calling for ‘self-restraint’ on the grounds that ‘the more loudly we talk of punishment, the more surely will the Germans steel themselves to prolong a war of defence.’ In any case, the paper continued, ‘the best hope we can cherish is that a German revolution will deal with the heads of the Nazi party and the Gestapo.’238 William Temple, now Archbishop of Canterbury, clearly moved by news of continuing atrocities, along with other church leaders and the Chief Rabbi, set up ‘a council’ comprised of Christians of all denominations as well as Jews. Its aims were to combat ‘religious and racial intolerance’, ‘promote mutual understanding between Christians and Jews’ partly by encouraging joint cultural activities, and ‘foster



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cooperation’ on post-war reconstruction. Its very aims suggest an awareness that opposition to humanitarian sentiment for Jews was too deeply embedded for a quick solution. However, in Temple’s two main public interventions he displayed the same attitude as the New Statesman. First, at St Jude’s, Hampstead, on 18 October, his sermon, which included the subject of possible punishment of war criminals, showed that he distinguished between Nazis and Germans, with the latter not only innocent, but ‘embittered’ and with ‘a just grievance on its side.’239 Second, at a protest meeting organised by Anglo-Jewry at the Albert Hall on 29 October at which Temple was the main speaker, he emphasised that the meeting’s purpose was: ‘Not to stir up hatred or the spirit of vengeance but to keep moral perception clear, to utter the judgment of civilised men on a reversion to barbarism and to pledge themselves once more to the effort and sacrifice by which deliverance must be wrought.’240 So concerned was Temple to quell anti-German feeling that, like many others, he spoke not of immediate protest and action, but about renewed commitment to the war effort and final victory. Underlying this was his belief in the potential for an internal revolt against Germany’s leaders.

Who is responsible? As news about the sheer scale of murder gathered pace, the ferocity of the debate about Germans reached new levels, particularly among those on the left. On 14 November 1942, the New Statesman reported that a ‘deluge of letters’ had arrived which, it claimed, showed ‘the subject [was] of intense interest’ to Britons.241 In 1941, Labour’s party conference had revealed deep divisions over the question of German culpability and these resurfaced in December 1942 as Labour leader in the Commons, Arthur Greenwood, spoke in favour of Vansittart’s views. Incensed by this, three Labour MPs wrote to the Daily Herald to express their anger and point out that Greenwood’s comments ‘mark a break with what has hitherto been the attitude and policy of the Labour Party’.242 Internal party feuding was exacerbated by the involvement of high profile public figures such as Laski, who found himself embroiled in a sharp exchange

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of views with H.G. Wells over the charge that he had distorted Vansittart’s views.243 A.L. Rowse also got involved: It is useless to make this distinction between the Nazis and the German people and to say that the Germans are not responsible for the crimes and the barbarities that they have committed. No doubt the degree of responsibilities differs with different groups and classes, but that the German people have a degree of responsibility cannot be denied.244

As the debate degenerated into mud-slinging, Kingsley Martin noted that the Labour party ‘was paralysed’, caught between those who excused ordinary Germans for the actions of their leaders and those who did not.245 On 26 November, MPs Silverman and A.L. Easterman called at the Foreign Office to hand over a document received from the Polish government giving details of what came to be known as the Final Solution.246 They suggested a Four-Power Declaration announcing that the United Nations was now aware that European Jews were being exterminated. They also proposed that in the declaration would be a warning ‘that if it was carried out the perpetrators of it would be held responsible’ and be punished. Moreover, they urged that it should also contain something to the effect ‘that the German people could not escape responsibility for the acts of their government’. The Foreign Office faced a dilemma because, as Richard Law, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Foreign Office, admitted, ‘we would be in an appalling position if these stories should prove to have been true and we have done nothing whatever about them.’247 Jewish representatives therefore were given permission to brief MPs although, Harold Nicolson sensed that MPs felt ‘not so much “[w]hat can we do for such people?” as “[w]hat can we do with such people after the war?”’ He was at a loss to understand why ‘horrors like this Black Hole on a gigantic scale scarcely concerns us.’248 Rathbone agreed. She wrote to Temple, ‘[o]ne would think that the mass extermination of “the chosen people,” or a few millions of them, was quite a minor incident.’249 Just prior to the Christmas break, MPs were traditionally permitted to question ministers on subjects of importance. Their list of priorities was printed in The Times. First on the list was ‘Defence Regulation 33B and the Government management of wartime finance.’ Other issues were



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listed as: ‘the future of civil aviation’; ‘German atrocities against Jews and others in the occupied territories’ and ‘the volume of criticism reaching them from their constituencies about the patchy distribution of fish’.250 Plainly, MPs were being pressurised by constituents about a number of issues of which the Jewish tragedy was but one. On 17 December in parliament, Eden declared that Hitler was carrying out his ‘oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe’ and he provided some details about the procedures used to murder ‘entirely innocent men, women and children’. The joint declaration by the Allied governments promised to ‘over-throw the barbarous Hitlerite tyranny’ and he reaffirmed ‘their solemn resolution to ensure that those responsible’ would ‘not escape retribution’.251 The statement was carefully balanced in order to accommodate both sides of the German debate. The House stood in silence as a gesture of respect. There was broad consensus in the press that although the news was tragic, nothing much could be done to help Jews. The Times was of the opinion that only victory could provide the ‘supreme act of relief ’ and that emigration would merely offer a ‘palliative’.252 The Manchester Guardian was initially of the opinion that nothing ‘will have much effect except military victory’, although over the following few days it suggested using broadcasts to stimulate occupied peoples to help Jews where they could, and criticised Morrison for refusing to relax the strict regulations on refugee entry to Britain and Palestine.253 The News Chronicle favoured a similar approach.254 The Daily Mail and Daily Mirror pretty much sidestepped the problem altogether by printing the story on inside pages and not providing editorials.255 The Daily Herald argued that ‘we must not deceive ourselves. There is little, very little that we can do to arrest at this stage the campaign of extermination.’256 It also told its readers not to imagine that ‘we shall help the Jews, or our United Cause, by the simple act of threatening homicidal maniacs with undefined punishment.’ Instead, it suggested that Britain should address itself to those elements of the Axis population ‘which still remembers that once upon a time’ Germany was one of the ‘leaders of Civilisation.’257 The Daily Express took a similar view, claiming the mass murder of Jews was countenanced by Hitler merely to gain ‘the support of the most extreme section of the Nazis.’ It continued, ‘Hitler must pay the price to the violent rootless



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thugs of the Waffen S.S. who have promised to stand beside him against the German people, and even against the German Army.’258 As before, the desire of both the right and left at this critical moment was to distance Nazi perpetrators from ordinary Germans. The New Statesman decided to sideline German involvement altogether by stating as truth what it knew to be only partially right. ‘One gets a glimpse’, it stated, ‘of the irrelevant folly of this anti-German-people campaign when one realises, on the evidence of the Polish Government’s official reports, that the people actually engaged in murdering the Jews in Eastern Europe are a special corps of Lithuanians, Latvians and Russian Whites.’259 Dr Witold Czerwinski, editor of the Polish Fortnightly Review, felt compelled to protest, pointing out that ‘the People “actually engaged in murdering the Jews” are the Germans.’260 The Spectator was in a minority when it advocated a stern approach to Germany. Whether the ‘crime of mass-murder of the Jews’ should be laid ‘at the door, not of Germans as such but of the Nazis’, the paper reported, was ‘one of the more difficult questions that will fall to be decided when the war ends’. Nonetheless, it continued: Germany is waging a national war, under a government which Germans allowed to install itself in power, and which they supported with considerable solidarity as long as victories were being won. Nothing was more distressing in the years before the war than to see many Germans who had habitually written and spoken on liberal lines ranging themselves unhesitatingly behind Hitler as unqualified nationalists…It is hardly possible to formulate in detail measures for dealing with the situation, but the broad principle that a nation which fights a war as a nation must suffer the consequences of defeat as a nation holds good.261

As all doubt about the extermination of European Jews was swept away, the press, with one or two exceptions, seem to have been preoccupied by the possibility of stoking anti-German sentiment. Now that news of mass murder was out in the open, Kingsley Martin revealed one reason why they had taken so long to publish: When the first atrocities of the German concentration camps were reported, most of us were first incredulous and then so aghast many of the papers deliberately withheld the details. But familiarity grows with



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repetition, and contempt with familiarity, so that to-day, ‘all pity choked with custom of fell deed,’ we shrug our shoulders at horrors which have ceased, by dint of repetition, to be ‘news.’262

In other words, lack of reportage was excused on the grounds that, first, when Jews talked about atrocities the figures were so vast they were treated with scepticism, and second, by dint of a relentless flow of evidence, atrocities against Jews were somehow expected, or the norm. According to this logic, press coverage was stymied either by incredulity or overfamiliarity. It could have been one or the other, but not both. According to Mass Observation evidence, the massacres now became a topic of everyday conversation. A commercial traveller from Wembley learnt about the murders from ‘general conversation’, while the wife of a radio operator from Newport reported on conversations heard in the office of the Great Western Railway. A housewife from Gateshead reported family exchanges and a teacher from Sussex wrote down the thoughts of her canteen cook. The fact that Jews were specifically targeted and treated with such inhumanity was not beyond the understanding of ordinary people. For example, the radio operator, who had fostered a four-year-old refugee, commented: Now, at this very moment when I write, on some Polish railway siding, people suffocating slowly, jammed tight in a closed goods truck. Men, women and children are being hunted like wild beasts through the ghetto by armed men. Perhaps some family are at this moment cowering in a cellar listening to the German boots tramping nearer and willing praying [sic] that they may be overlooked. Perhaps some woman is wildly imploring a Nazi to spare her baby.

The government received a ‘spate of letters’ offering help, with some offering homes to Jewish children.263 The majority, though, limited themselves to generalised expressions of horror. The news, wrote the commercial traveller, was ‘sickening’ especially ‘in these supposedly civilised days’; the teacher could not forget the ‘ghastly sufferings of the Jews’ and an Army clerk commented that ‘I don’t know how anyone can be so brutal’. But responses were rarely unmitigated. The radio operator’s wife took to task a retired stationmaster who did not see why ‘they shouldn’t kill the Jews. I don’t blame Hitler at all. Look at all the money they’ve got



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and they never do any work. The black market is entirely won [sic] by Jews.’ In fact, he was condemned by most of his colleagues, not because of his anti-Jewish attitude but because he was known to have dabbled in the black market himself. The commercial traveller was also sickened by the news and yet commented that many people did not think British Jews acted ‘in such a manner as to obtain sympathy’ for foreign Jews. He continued, ‘[o]ne hears many references to black markets, cornering of foods in short supply [which were] all held against the Jews.’ His particular complaint was that ‘many able-bodied young Jews’ were not engaged in war work. Another respondent from Gateshead wrote of the Parliamentary announcement: Well the greedy Jews have brought it on themselves the world over. I haven’t time for them for thinking of our decent lads. Jews had a big hand in causing the war. No! I’m not cold-blooded…said Tom [her husband] who has never been so anti-Jew as I. If the Jews cause all the trouble in the world they say they do, then they should be exterminated and we cannot blame Hitler.

One landlady described the massacres as ‘unspeakable’ but was convinced ‘the tables will be turned, they that persecute the Jews never prosper.’ She had spoken to a clerk, who agreed ‘with Hitler about getting rid of the Jews.’ On retelling this to her work colleagues, they were ‘silent about Jews’. A housewife from Bradford, who worked with Jewish refugees from Czechoslovakia, overheard a conversation at a bus stop between two women discussing Jewish refugees: They both agreed that it was a mystery how they managed to evade almost all National Service; how the women were able to sport such wonderful furs, clothes and jewellery; and how even their young sons could find safe jobs in indispensable civilian work, while our own boys were roped in on every side.264

Overall then, even though indisputable evidence was now widely available about the mass murder of Jews, one or another aspect of alleged Jewish behaviour impacted negatively on expressions of sympathy. The public partly reflected what was in the papers and most responses backed up what politicians feared: that eliciting compassion for the Jews would increase anti-Semitism, although that is not to say that politicians did not use popular anti-Semitism to stave off difficult choices.



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Divided responses On 25 December 1942, Victor Gollancz wrote a pamphlet entitled Let My People Go, with the subtitle, ‘Some practical proposals for dealing with Hitler’s massacre of the Jews and an appeal to the British public.’ In reality it was more than that. There was no doubt that Gollancz was moved by news of extermination, however he was fixated with attempting to play down any hint of anti-German feeling. Let My People Go should be read in the light of his earlier pamphlet, Shall Our Children Live or Die? Intending to divert attention away from German guilt, Gollancz pointed out that those responsible for the massacres were either ‘Latvian or Lithuanian criminal[s]’ or the Nazi youth who for a decade had ‘been specially and deliberately trained to lose [their] humanity’.265 In this reading, ordinary Germans, especially the working classes, were innocent of all charges and even the SS only committed vast crimes because of indoctrination. Most Germans, he believed, simply did not know what was ‘being done in their name’ and had they known, he was convinced that ‘the overwhelming majority would disapprove’.266 German propaganda ensured that ordinary Germans were given a false picture, which, he believed, they swallowed without question. In contrast, Allied propaganda designed to inform Germans of Jewish extermination policies would simply not be believed. ‘Nothing’, he wrote, ‘could be baser than to use the anti-Jewish horror, not to bring relief to the victims, but to stir up hatred against the German people as a whole.’ Britain’s task was to ‘hasten’ victory and ‘encourage hour by hour, every movement – and there are many – of German disaffection.’ Hence, he argued there were ‘two ways of reacting’ to the massacres, ‘one way is mercy – immediate aid to the persecuted, the other is hatred, retribution for the persecutors.’ These were, in his view, ‘mutually exclusive.’267 Gollancz, a vocal advocate of European Jewry during the war, had confused even his supporters.268 They asked him whether he meant ‘it was wrong to hate the Nazi atrocities in Poland and Russia. Or wrong to hate the German people? Or wrong to hate the Nazis? Or wrong, perhaps, even to hate Hitler?’269 His advocacy of ‘ordinary Germans’ cut across his efforts to galvanise compassion for Jews. Eleanor Rathbone attempted to organise a co-ordinated response and find solutions that might save ‘more than just a few thousands’. She even



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suggested an offer to take Jews be made to Hitler, which, if refused, might show that the United Nations was at least ‘willing to make great efforts’, ‘shame neutral countries into “doing their bit”’, or ‘encourage anti-Nazis in enemy countries to increase their efforts’. In light of this, she urged activists to launch campaigns to influence public opinion and Allied governments.270 Rathbone was instrumental in forming the unofficial National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror, ‘an alliance of activist clergy, the main Jewish leaders and the parliamentary advocates for refugees’, although its effectiveness was doubtful.271 Arthur Balfour’s Zionist niece Blanche Dugdale, Baffy to her friends, attended a Commons meeting designed to coordinate the disparate committees working to rescue Jews. ‘Little or nothing will come of this’, she wrote, ‘and the whole idea was fantastically unthought [sic] out that it was almost funny.’272 Church leaders made public appeals and regional endeavours came in the form of resolutions from various local organisations or individual financial contributions.273 Cyril Garbett, the traditionalist Archbishop of York, was a firm advocate of punishing the instigators and perpetrators of atrocities. However, the idea that ordinary Germans were either ignorant of atrocities or coerced by the Nazis held firm in Church circles. The main protagonist, but by no means the only senior Anglican figure who held these views, was George Bell, Bishop of Chichester. Rather than encouraging a compassionate response to the plight of Jews, he engaged in an extensive defence of Germans. ‘The chief blame’ he told the Lords, ‘lay with certain powerful anti-democratic forces in military and industrial circles who betrayed their country for their own selfish ends. In spite of the paralysing effects of murder and cruelty, vast numbers of Germans refused to bow the knee to Baal.’274 Vansittart took the opposite approach. He laid a motion before the Lords that ‘in view of the systematic atrocities committed both by the Gestapo and the German Army, remedies should be proposed before systematic extermination has gone beyond repair.’ For him, it was a ‘sheer case of conscience, to make sure we have done everything in our power to check these horrors and, what’s more, to ward off the even worse one there may be yet to come.’ ‘Therefore’, he told the Lords ‘in anything I may say to-day I shall be taking the standpoint of the victims, and that standpoint alone.’ He outlined some of the spoliation techniques of the German



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army during the Great War, and suggested that similar techniques were being carried out in contemporary Europe in order to ensure the racial supremacy of ‘the Herrenvolk.’ ‘Against all this horror’, he told the House, no German dissented, ‘not even the German Churches had protested against Germany’s crimes against her neighbours and fellow-beings.’ He pointed to evidence freely available and ‘widely publicised’ in Britain of German intentions, and claimed that ‘so far, no effective deterrent [had] been found.’ As a result, ‘the policy of atrocity, for it is a policy, goes on unchecked, and will probably grow worse. It is carried out by all sorts and conditions of Germans, sometimes to order, sometimes without orders, spontaneously, even eagerly.’ Over and over, he said, in German broadcasts ‘we have exonerated the German people – even the German Army, God forgive us! – and we have put down all crime to one clique, or even to one man.’ Instead: one must include entire categories like the Gestapo, the Security Police and the Death’s Head Guards at the concentration camps. That being so, it follows again, or should have followed, that we should long since have been driving at the German people the truth that this is the price of atrocity, that the price in rising, and that it is very vital in their interests to prevent it from rising any further … Tell them that the remedy is in their own hands, and that it is not a very difficult one; but tell them, too, that retribution – the lady with the limp – is not class-conscious, and will not recoil before numbers, however great, if really guilty. Tell them every night that if they lie awake they can hear her footfall in the darkened streets, and tell them the addresses at which she will call. Tell them what their fellows and friends and relatives have been doing in every country, great and small.275

Vansittart’s message should not be dismissed as the ramblings of an antiGerman racist. Although he tended to play down the extent to which Jews were specifically targeted for death, Vansittart, like Gollancz and Rathbone, was genuinely moved by the plight of Germany’s victims. He was the figurehead for a certain ‘old-school’ viewpoint, one that held a traditional view of crime and punishment, in which retribution (not revenge) would act as a deterrent. The problem was, these public figures could not agree. These divisions cut through any chance of attaining an agreed consensus. Over 200 MPs from all parties signed a Commons motion assuring the government of the ‘fullest support for immediate measures, on



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the largest and most generous scale’, although, crucially, the motion specified that these would have to be ‘compatible with the requirements of military operations and security’. Notwithstanding the fact that deference to wider war aims allowed for considerable latitude of interpretation of this motion, it should not be assumed that MPs were entirely united in indignation. First, the number of consenting MPs did not constitute a Parliamentary majority. Second, the Liberals, who only had 21 seats, were the only mainstream political party to issue a resolution condemning atrocities. Third, evidence from Foreign Office files suggests that opposition to any form of public agitation was active and subtle. David Robertson, MP for Streatham, received a letter from six constituents, one of whom was Dugdale, complaining that the silence observed in the Commons would be ‘hypocrisy’ unless the government relaxed restrictions on the number of refugees allowed into the British Empire. He forwarded it to the Foreign Office with a cover note, which read: ‘It is perfectly obvious that a campaign is being run by the Jews in this country’. Robertson therefore agreed to chair an LNU meeting, at which he ‘praised the government for what they had already done’ and allowed a resolution to be passed that was ‘quite innocuous’.276 Shortly after parliament’s announcement of the extermination of Europe’s Jews, William Beveridge, much in the news because of his report which became the foundational document for the Welfare State, wrote a letter to the press. He called for the relaxing of limits placed on refugee numbers to reassure escapees that they would not be turned away and the promise of United Nations help for neutral countries who would provide ‘first aid’ for refugees. Moreover, he requested that the Nazi government be asked to send Jews ‘in trainloads’ to ‘neutral countries’ and warned that ‘threats of retribution’ had ‘little effect’. Before it was published, Beveridge forwarded it to the Foreign Office so that they could make any revisions deemed necessary. A.W.G. Randall’s comments, which reflected official thinking, challenged Beveridge on a number of points. Randall believed he had overestimated the ability of the United Nations to accommodate refugees; ignored ‘the fact’ that killing Jews was ‘not by any means the whole of the German policy of extermination’; did not take into account ‘the unfortunate fact that an exaggerated segregation of the Jewish question stimulates anti-Semitism’ and ignored ‘the fact’



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that an offer to Hitler would, ‘if accepted’, be ‘vastly beyond the shipping and reception capacity of the United Nations together’. Indeed, Randall argued, it ‘would cruelly raise hopes which there was no prospect of fulfilling.’ After modification, the article was published in the right-wing Observer and the left-wing Daily Herald.277 As well as revealing how closely the Foreign Office monitored highprofile public interjections into the debate about Jews, this exchange also shows that officials were stuck in a mindset that would not allow them to consider, let alone facilitate, risk-taking strategies. But it also shows that those advocating action were somewhat unrealistic. Not so much from the point of view of what could be achieved given the political will, but of how to create that political will in the first place. Whether in peace or war, large-scale public agitation was needed in order to make the government reconsider its stance. The polemical debate about ordinary Germans prevented the creation of a broad alliance that would stand any chance of making ministers think again about what they could do for European Jews. Thus, when a deputation of MPs including Lord Melchett, Greenwood, Rathbone, Silverman, Independent Conservative MP Professor A.V. Hill and Conservative MP Quintin Hogg met with a high-profile government delegation consisting of the Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Colonial Secretary and a representative of the Dominions Secretary, it was unlikely to meet with success. Indeed, with the deputation divided, consensus was unlikely from the start and the meeting was beset with deference to ‘the Government’s difficulties’. Moreover, as it was agreed the meeting was ‘private’ its impact on the public was, at best, minimal.278 That the government put up a highpowered set of representatives may indicate the importance they gave the issue. However, because no action resulted, it can reasonably be assumed they were drafted in to stifle debate. Not only did a shared perception of the demands of war dampen discussion, but the contrast between a comparatively low-profile delegation and an unprecedented block of senior ministers perhaps constricted a bold approach. The nature of coalition government itself may also have minimised friction. The cross-party composition of the delegation was arguably offset by a cross-party group of ministers, thus emptying the issue of combative

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party politics. The parliamentary correspondent of the New Statesman bemoaned the dearth of a credible opposition: There is at present no national figure on the Opposition benches. One thinks, without going back to the days of Gladstone, how great a moral issue would have been made of this point by almost any former Opposition leader. An Asquith, a Lansbury, even a Baldwin would have compelled the public to see this question as one of simple human decency.279

Instead, the rise in anti-Semitism after Eden’s Commons’ declaration showed little sign of abating. Harold Nicolson had provided details in his weekly Spectator column about the massacre of Jews: In October, 1940, the Germans interned 433,000 Warsaw Jews in a special area of ghetto which they surrounded with a high wall. In March, 1941, Himmler visited Poland and decreed that 50 per cent of the Polish Jews should be exterminated before the end of 1942. Massacres had already taken place at Vilna, Tarnopol and Cholm. After Himmler’s visit the systematic extermination of the ghetto Jews was planned with bureaucratic efficiency. On July 22nd, an order was issued for ‘the transsettlement of the Jewish population of Warsaw,’ which provided that no fewer than 6,000 persons should be deported every day. Skilled workers were retained, but the remaining Jews were taken away in batches and packed into goods trucks, 120 people being crushed into trucks with room only for 40. They were then taken to the execution camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, where they were stripped and murdered.280

In response, an Olive Bennett wrote to The Spectator bristling with indignation. Surely, she wrote, Harold Nicolson: stretches the bounds of human credulity in making the statement of 433,000 Warsaw Jews congregated in a ghetto behind a high wall. The figures given are twice the number of the whole of the population of Warsaw, and I should like to see the wall enclosing nearly half a million people. From close observation of The Times I have discerned that it becomes a wailing wall according to our fluctuating fortunes of war and Jewish atrocities act as a barometer.

By the time the Spectator published Nicholson’s article some 300,000 Jews had been murdered in Treblinka alone. However, Bennett’s attitude on hearing of Jewish suffering and the unprecedented number of dead was an attitude shared by others. Edward Stebbing noted that according to the News Chronicle, ‘anti-Semitism is on the increase, and from



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various incidents which have been reported recently it would appear to be true’.281 Pam Ashford, another contributor to Mass Observation, witnessed a fellow local businesswoman, Mrs Muir, ‘blazing about the H. of Commons standing out of respect for the Jews who were being massacred in Europe. She thought the world was well rid of the Jews.’282 George Orwell made his own observations in May 1943: ‘People dislike the Jews so much that they do not want to remember their sufferings, and when you mention the horrors that are happening in Germany or Poland, the answer is always “Oh yes, of course that’s dreadful, but …” – and out comes the familiar list of grievances.’283 It was this attitude that forced Harold Laski into print. Having given most of his public utterances over to the defence of Germans, he now wrote articulately and with evident frustration about the tensions created for British Jews by the mass murder of European Jews. He pointed out that anti-Jewish feeling was extending to ‘sections of the population among whom, before the war, such an attitude was exceptional’, such as politicians, administrators and businessmen. ‘All of them agree’, he continued, that: the Nazi persecution is an abominable thing. All of them unite in eloquent denunciation of it. All of them are insistent that it is an evil and ugly thing which is, usually, the expression of, and the index to, much deeper social disease. Most of them, when pressed would admit that it is wholly irrational. But most of them, also, are prepared with an explanation for its emergence which, not seldom tends to become an excuse.

Certainly, he wrote, most thought the Jews deserved ‘sympathy’, but most also thought they were ‘over-insistent upon their tragic role in a time of supreme tragedy’. Therefore, they caused: relentless unceasing uneasiness by their inability to maintain a dignified silence in the presence of massive wrongs. Patriotic Jews would not force the full-scale horror of their sufferings upon the national attention. They would develop that sense of proportion which enables them to be seen and not heard … If he speaks as a Jew, the climate of opinion he is certain sooner or later, to encounter will emphasise to him that those to whom he appeals have, at bottom, the half-conscious sense that he is, after all, an alien amongst them pleading for aliens whose claims are in no aspect rights. If he chooses to meet the ignorant prejudices of anti-semitism, he finds that it is impermeable to rational argument. If he attempts to state,



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in all its formidable complexity, the grounds upon which the place of the Jews in modern civilisation deserves the sympathy of understanding, he is only too likely to breed the conviction that he stands permanently outside the tradition in which he feels all his being involved.284

This was the unsolvable problem for Jews who wished to draw attention to the plight of those dying on the Continent. The Allies responded to the crisis by organising a conference in Bermuda. A cable signed by church leaders, politicians, civic leaders, academics, those representing Britain’s workers as well as other wellknown Britons, was sent to Eden assuring him of their support at the forthcoming conference. However, they included a crucial caveat by asking that ‘any sacrifice’ made must be ‘consistent with not delaying victory’.285 Evoking national defence as an excuse for inaction meant that the same inaction remained largely unquestioned. Louise London points out that the British government ‘were intent on narrowing the scope of any intended action’. It seems they successfully gauged public opinion and consequently achieved their objective.286 The news of Jewish deaths, however, had little immediate effect on the debate about Germans. Writer and humanitarian, Phyllis Bottome, who from 1936 had penned various articles about the Nazi threat – albeit to little effect – wrote in The Spectator that she supported the view that not enough Germans were willing to protest against the policies of their government. She pointed out that ‘not only one man’ gave the order for the murder of Jews, claiming ‘there must have been many German officers and soldiers who gave it and carried it out … to lead away the little children by the hand, these kind German fathers, into the open fields, before they blew their brains out.’ She recalled her experience in 1933 Munich to reinforce the assertion that Germans used their: noble qualities to support crime, because they will not learn that man must choose what is right, and not accept it from the lips of another. No disinterested observer living through those days of the German Revolution could fail to believe that the Germans wanted Hitler, and that is why they got him. That it was soon made equally out of their power to get rid of him is perfectly true, but I doubt whether if Hitler’s way had led to victory through crime, many of those 80 per cent. of Germans who are said to be against him, and whom we hear so much about, would not have been heart and soul with him.



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She continued: From the moment the Germans attacked the Jews on racial grounds, for which they had no scientific authority, their homicidal mania was proved; and the rest of the civilised world should have become their keepers. There are geographical, historical, linguistic and personal differences between peoples, but racially – in spite of Adam’s palette of mixed colours – they are only human beings. No sane person really doubts Thomas Jefferson’s supremely competent statement: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ It is the richness of human nature that there are such great dissimilarities between nations and individuals; and we should be wholly impoverished if any country, including our own, were able to fix the whole world in any one image or superscription. This is the main reason – conscious or unconscious – for which we are fighting this war.

She criticised what she called the ‘“liberal” optimists’ and praised Vansittart’s foresight. Like him, she suggested that after the war Germans needed to be re-educated by the likes of Dorothy Thompson, Thomas Mann and that the ‘best of the German refugees in our own country and America’ might form a committee to pick the best teachers ‘who understood the German language, and held the ideals proclaimed by the United Kingdom’. Otherwise, she pointed out, their re-education would be left to Stalin.287 Bottome’s analysis contained some generalisations about Germans, but it also demonstrated a passionate commitment to individual freedom, equality and diversity. But Bottome’s analysis was ‘violently’ disliked by Rathbone. She was put out by the ‘astonishing generalisations’ Bottome had made about ‘the German people’. She took issue with the assertion that only a minority of Germans were prepared to put themselves in harm’s way and make a stand against Hitler. Even if they had anticipated Hitler’s corrupt use of power, resistance, she argued, would have equated to ‘a peculiarly painful and utterly futile form of suicide’. ‘Surely’, she continued: the common-sense and really patriotic course for anti-Nazi Germans to take in resisting Hitlerism is not by courting martyrdom nor by premature revolutions certain to be bloodily repressed and to result in the death of all the leaders, but by secret preparation till the moment to strike comes, and, meantime, by taking every opportunity for sabotage, for propaganda, for resisting cruelties and helping their victims to escape. That is just what is happening.288



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These opposing views had at their heart fundamental agreement that Jews needed to be saved. However, their differences meant that the main point of agreement was obscured. It was typical of the debate as a whole that Rathbone would pick out particular elements of Bottome’s argument for vilification and ignore crucial aspects where agreement could have been found. The root of their differences was in their respective views of the German people. Bottome pessimistically believed that when all was said and done, the majority of Germans found Hitler too acceptable. Rathbone’s view was based on optimism; that the German people had since 1933 been secretly planning, waiting for the right moment to overthrow a despised regime. Bottome and Rathbone simply could not agree. This division was fatal to the chances of galvanising widespread consensus, which was already severely hampered by a widespread negative perception of Jews in general that undercut the sense of empathy normally felt for victims of atrocity. This small exchange was symptomatic of a debate that pervaded the war years and stretched back to the years before the First World War.



Conclusion In 1934, the Daily Express, one of the most successful interwar newspapers, published a book, Covenants with Death. Its black cover was emblazoned with a red skull and boney fingers clasping a ‘treaty’. Inside were photographs of war that were said to ‘reveal the horror, suffering and essential bestiality of modern war’. A sealed section at the end of the book was reserved for images that were ‘inescapably horrible’; they showed the victims of atrocity. For the Express’s isolationist proprietor, Lord Beaverbrook, the publication brought home the ‘peril of foreign entanglements’.1 The book was aimed at the mass market. Violent images reinforced what was supposed to be a message of peace. What the book showed was that atrocities were commonly understood. Indeed, they were an essential part of an ongoing national conversation. Some atrocities became iconic. In the post-Holocaust world, it is difficult to envisage a time when the name ‘Guernica’ was a by-word for atrocity, but it was. Other atrocities, however, were pushed into the background of the national consciousness. German atrocities committed during the Great War were quickly designated as a ‘myth’. But this ‘myth’ was itself a myth. ‘Frightfulness’, a word that now seems antiquated and innocuous, had metonymic connotations between the wars. It stood for the doctrine of officially authorised violence, for the dragooning of innocents, for the slaughter of civilians, (often with the intention of creating widespread terror). Somehow, though, one aspect of its meaning became disembodied from the original context. During the First World War it stood for German brutality. After the war it could be applied to almost anyone except the Germans. An enduring sense of admiration for Germany’s cultural achievements, perceived racial connections with the British, a national sense of guilt



CONCLUSION

over Germany’s treatment during the First World War and after, a concomitant sense of shame about British colonial atrocities, a desire for peace and a pervasive belief that Germans were ‘just like us’, were factors that made this possible. The unwillingness to accept that Germans were capable of atrocities was also facilitated by a tendency in Britain to adopt a pecking order of empathy. Attitudes towards overseas atrocities changed over time and were subject to multifarious political, social, economic and ideological forces. Calibration was flexible. Mass concern could be applied to one set of victims at a particular time and then withdrawn. Another set of victims could be observed with indifference for years and then hurled into the spotlight. For the first half of the twentieth century this flexibility could not be applied to Jews. Such was the strength and variety of negative stereotypes superimposed on them that they could not be reinvented in the British imagination. After 1933, Jews had the fatal misfortune of being the victims of Germans, at a time when the latter were the beneficiaries of British forbearance. But why was there a continued tendency to indulge Germany following Hitler’s accession, when Germany was the biggest threat to peace after 1933 and the enemy after 1939? The majority of contemporary Britons, fortified by a false view of history, believed the alternative was to espouse an unfair view of Germany or worse, provoke an outpouring of anti-German xenophobia. As a consequence, they worked hard to see things from a German point of view. This disposition undermined the likelihood of a proper debate about the permeation of Nazi values into German society, including anti-Jewish attitudes and measures. Before the war, the majority of Britons believed the majority of Germans were an effective constraint on Nazi extremism. During the war, as evidence of massive atrocities accumulated, the public debate about Germans became vitriolic to the point of deadlock. Official thinking on the issue had to constantly bear in mind the ‘Good-and-Bad German controversy’ and work within its parameters.2 After all, they could not afford to alienate a substantial proportion of the public over an issue as fundamental as the nature of the enemy. By late 1942, the atrocity issue was under serious consideration by the Political Warfare Executive. Journalist Ritchie Calder had been drafted into the department in 1941 and by August 1942 he was Director of Plans and



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Campaigns. When he wrote a paper on 1 October 1942 for the cabinet, entitled ‘Splitting the Germans’, they adopted his ideas. This meant, in the words of his PWE colleague Ralph Murray, that Calder’s scheme would ‘influence all British Ministers and other responsible figures when making speeches and statements’.3 Splitting the Germans, according to Calder, was necessary in order to ‘break the enemy’s will to fight. The Nazis, he explained, were now ‘exploiting their own terrorism of the peoples of occupied Europe to impress upon Germans that these acts will provoke relentless extermination’. This being the case, there would ‘be no quarter for any German; therefore all must … fight to the last ditch’. In other words, he knew that Nazi propagandists were telling the German people about German barbarity in order to evoke a sense of collective responsibility and reinforce their commitment to the cause. Calder argued that if the British promised and pursued draconian measures against Germans then this would merely reinforce Nazi propaganda and help create a fortress mentality in Germany, thus prolonging the war. With the ‘outcome of the 1942 Russian campaign, the strain of the fourth winter of war, the dependence of the Germans on millions of foreign, and potentially dangerous, workers within Germany, the increasing impact of heavy raids’, and the increasingly stringent measures employed to control the German home front, the time was now propitious ‘to give the individual German an escape clause, to point out that the whole German people will not be held collectively responsible for all German atrocities’. He concluded that Nazi leaders, the SS and Gestapo were ‘the only ones to be declared guilty outright’. Nazi party activists, the military high command and industrialists were in a lesser category and they too would have access to the ‘escape clause’. This policy would bring Britain back into step ‘with the Americans and the Russians.’4 It was suggested that ‘the Secretary of State might be asked to send a letter to the Foreign Ministers of all Allied Governments, explaining British policy is making a distinction between the guilty and the less guilty in Germany, and asking that all Allied government speakers should conform to British policy.’5 A list of the guilty was compiled forthwith.6 At the very moment when overwhelming evidence for the Final Solution was being actively considered, the government tied itself to a



CONCLUSION

policy of ‘splitting the Germans’. It is perhaps not surprising that British ministers were attracted by Calder’s reasoning. Consideration of the alternative, the possibility of holding a majority of Germans responsible to varying degrees for supporting and upholding a criminal and murderous regime, would have seemed impractical. In any case, officials acutely aware of the British public mood (Calder himself was an active proponent of the school that believed in a majority of good Germans who might actively oppose the Nazis), drew a crass distinction between a tiny minority of Germans who were ‘guilty’ and the vast majority who were not.7 The motivation behind the decision was to encourage the majority of ‘good Germans’ to revolt and end the war early. This did not happen. It was a mistaken belief that had been gestated before the First World War, but grew to maturity between the wars. It was fatal for Europe’s Jews because it fostered the belief that only a policy of winning the war would do. Constructing a deep context is vital to the creation of a robust history of the mass murder of European Jews. This does not mean taking a teleological approach, but it does mean recognising the importance of the succession of events that go to make up what we now call the Holocaust. Mark Mazower states that the Holocaust ‘may be better understood in a historical context that stretches back to the age of empire’.8 That applies to Germany, but it also applies to Britain. Although much work has been done to uncover this vital context for Germany, it has not been done sufficiently in the British case.9 Britons were confronted with atrocity, dealt with it and incorporated it into their national story. In fact, their very identity was in many ways caught up with protecting those who suffered. From the outbreak of the First World War, the British acted in accordance with this tradition. A disparate group of ‘foreign’ victims were the recipients of nationwide indignation almost regardless of the way the government was eventually able to contain public protest. Belgians, French, Armenians, Abyssinians, Spaniards and the Chinese all evoked considerable humanitarian investment. When Jews were victims, there was a break with this tradition. However, there was another sense in which the tradition was alive and well. When Britons increasingly looked upon Germans as victims after the First World War, they did so quite conscious that their attitude fell



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well within the tradition of ‘fair play’. This is one reason why so many supported the policy of appeasement. The roots of ‘appeasement’ can be found as far back as the nineteenth century, but it started to take recognisable shape after the First World War. It was a movement that started ‘from below’ and was gestated mostly on the left of British politics. It was then co-opted by the right. By the time of the Munich crisis the majority were on board. Although September 1938 helped prepare Britons for the probability of war, the attitudes that underpinned appeasement did not evaporate. Empathy with or sympathy for ordinary Germans, as well as a long-held deep suspicion of Jews, combined to create a fundamental failure in the British humanitarian tradition, whether this tradition was rooted in nineteenth century liberal altruism or traced back to the internationalist egalitarianism of the French Revolution. In other words this was not a question of right and left, of nationalist or internationalist – it was much bigger than that. This was a failure of colossal proportions by a populace who knew their country was a mighty power, who were captivated by international affairs, hungry for news, well-informed, and saturated in humanitarianism. There was not just one road to the Holocaust, there were many. Some of them are to be found in British history.

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6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Overy, Richard, The Morbid Age: Britain Between the Wars (London, 2009), p. 7. Colls, Robert and Dodd, Phillip (eds), Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880–1920 (Beckenham, 1986). Preface. This approach in no way seeks to underplay the suffering of the nonJewish victims of the Holocaust. Geppert, Dominik and Gerwarth, Robert (eds), Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain: Essays on Cultural Affinity (Oxford, 2008), p.vii. Murdock, Graham and Golding, Peter, ‘The Structure, Ownership and Control of the Press, 1914–76’, in George Boyce, James Curran and Pauline Wingate (eds), Newspaper History: From the 17th Century to the Present Day (London, 1978), p.130; Hampton, Mark, Visions of the Press in Britain, 1850–1950 (Urbana and Chicago, 2004), p.42. For further theoretical discussions of the power and limitations of the press, see Hartley, John, Understanding News (London, 1988); Berkowitz, Dan (ed.), Social Meanings of News: A Text-Reader (London, 1997); Cohen, Stanley, Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers (Oxford, 1987); Halloran, James D., et al., Demonstrations and Communications: A Case Study (Harmondsworth, 1970). Overy, Morbid Age, pp.375–6. Gardiner, Juliet, The Thirties: An Intimate History (London, 2010), p.15. Orwell, George, The Road to Wigan Pier (Harmondsworth, 1972), p.80. Robbins, Keith (ed.), The British Isles 1901–1951 (Oxford, 2002), p.109. Aldgate, Anthony, Cinema and History: British Newsreels and the Spanish Civil War (London, 1979), p.55. Overy, Morbid Age, p.377. See also McCarthy, Helen, ‘Democratising British Foreign Policy: Rethinking the Peace Ballot, 1934–5’, Journal of British Studies (May 2010), pp.358–87. Cato, Guilty Men (London, 1944). For the other side of what has remained a polemical debate, see Hogg, Quintin, The Left Was Never Right (London, 1945). Andrew Chandler states that the ‘supporting consensus’ for Munich ‘embraced all political parties, religious denominations, and



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19

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social classes.’ Chandler, Andrew, ‘Munich and Morality: The Bishops of the Church of England and Appeasement’, Twentieth Century British History, 5/1 (1994), p. 99. Bishop, Alan (ed.), Chronicle of Friendship: Vera Brittain’s Diary of the Thirties 1932–9 (London, 1986) p.211. Pennell, Catriona, A Kingdom United: Popular Responses to the Outbreak of the First World War in Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2012), p.4. Todman, Dan, The Great War: Myth and Memory (London and New York, 2005), p.4. Keynes, John Maynard, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, vol. 2: The Economic Consequences of the Peace (London and Basingstoke, 1971), p. 91. Pennell, A Kingdom United, p.4. Gregory, Adrian, The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War (Cambridge, 2008), p. 37. Gregory also makes a wider point that the war was worth fighting: ‘The British, like most people, prefer to think of their historic wars as just ones. In reality a very high proportion of wars fought by Britain before 1914 were morally dubious at best, and many were the most naked aggression. But only the First World War is widely pilloried as wrong. To a large extent because of 1939–45, the First World War has been reconstructed as an unjustifiable war. This is mistaken on almost every count. By the classic standards by which a just war would be judged, 1914–1918 stands up rather well from a British point of view. Intervention could be justified on the basis that the failure to act was likely to endanger the nation – in that sense it qualifies as a necessary war. In moral terms it was a war against unprovoked aggression and the violation of international treaties, to which Britain was a signatory. This moral case was about as clear cut as a war can ever be. In terms of fighting the war, the British Government tried reasonably hard to maintain a sense of humanity, legality and proportion … ’, ibid., p. 49. Soon after publication, Keynes himself noted that his book was ‘smothered’ in ‘a deluge of approval’ and this remained the case throughout the interwar years. Skidelsky, Robert, John Maynard Keynes, vol. 1: Hopes Betrayed 1883–1920 (London and Basingstoke, 1983), p. 392. Mowatt, Charles Loch, Britain between the Wars 1918–40 (London, 1978), p. 4. See also, Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes, vol.1, p.392. Bernard Wasserstein was struck by the ‘imaginative failure’ of officials to ‘grasp the full meaning of consequences of decisions.’ Wasserstein, Bernard, Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939–1945 (London, 1979) p.356. Walter Laqueur argues that British paralysis in the face of mass murder was because the ‘evil nature of Nazism was beyond their comprehension’;



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Laqueur, Walter, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth About Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ (Harmondsworth, 1980) p.203. Kushner, Tony, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford, 1994), pp.18–20. Kushner, Tony, ‘Britain, the United States and the Holocaust: In Search of a Historiography’, in Stone, Dan (ed.), Historiography of the Holocaust (London, 2004), p.269. Friedlander, Saul, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939–1945 (London, 2007), p.xv. Ibid., p. xxi.

Chapter 1 1 2

3 4

5

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Horne, John and Kramer, Alan, German Atrocities 1914: A History of Denial (New Haven and London 2001), p.191. Zuckerman, Larry, The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I (New York and London, 2004), pp.1–3; Hull, Isabel V., Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca and London, 2005), pp.233–42. Gregory, Adrian, The Last Great War, British Society and the First World War (Cambridge, 2008), p.45. Mazower, Mark, Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe (London, 2009), p. 24; Polonsky, Antony, ‘The German Occupation of Poland during the First and Second World Wars: A Comparison’, in Roy A. Prete and A. Hamish Ion (eds), Armies of Occupation (Waterloo, 1984), pp. 127–8. Liulevicius, Vejas Gabriel, War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I (Cambridge, UK, 2000), p.8. Martin Kitchen observes, ‘The harsh reality of German ambition was evident in the short-lived treaty of Brest-Litovsk. About 1 million square kilometres of territory with fifty million inhabitants were taken away from Russia. About 90 per cent of Russia’s coal mines, 54 per cent of Russian industry, 33 per cent of the Russian railway systems, 32 per cent of Russia’s agricultural land, 34 per cent of the population, 85 per cent of the sugar beet production and virtually the entire oil and cotton production was taken. German social democrats abstained from voting on the Treaty on the basis that it brought peace in the east.’ Kitchen, Martin, The Silent Dictatorship: The Politics of the German High Command under Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 1916–1918 (London, 1976), p. 183. Horne and Kramer, German Atrocities, p.191. Ibid., p. 174.



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17 18

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Lipkes, Jeff, Rehearsals: The German Army in Belgium, August 1914 (Leuven, 2007), pp.13–14. Grotius, Hugo, The Rights of War and Peace, Book III (Indianapolis, IN, 2005), p. 1186. Akçam, Taner, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (London, 2007), p.245. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rightsof.asp. Accessed 3 November 2011. Green, Abigail, Moses Montefiore: Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero (Cambridge, MA, and London, 2010), pp.422–3. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.ns (link no longer active). Akçam, A Shameful Act, p.245. Horne and Kramer, German Atrocities, p.145. See, for example, Chakravarty, Gautam, The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination (Cambridge, 2004); Reactions to Morant Bay were more characterised by uncomfortable ambivalence. See Heuman, Gad, ‘The Killing Time’: The Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica (London and Basingstoke, 1994), pp.164–77. Spies, S.B., Methods of Barbarism: Roberts and Kitchener and Civilians in the Boer Republics January 1900–May 1902 (Cape Town, 1977), p.9. Bösch, Frank, ‘Are we a cruel nation?’ Colonial Practices, Perceptions and Scandals’, in Dominik, Geppert and Robert Gerwarth (eds), Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain: Essays on Cultural Affinity (Oxford, 2008), p. 138. Manchester Guardian, 6 September 1912, p.14. Higgins, A. Pearce, War and the Private Citizen: Studies in International Law (London, 1912). Higgins, A. Pearce, ‘Non-Combatants and the War’, Oxford Pamphlets 1914–1915, no XI (London, 1914), pp.3 and 6. Ibid., p. 4. Baranowski, Shelley, Nazi Empire: German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler (Cambridge, 2011), p.5. Ibid., pp. 4–39. Evans, Richard J., The Coming of the Third Reich: How the Nazis Destroyed Democracy and Seized Power in Germany (London, 2004), p.29. Von Treitschke, Heinrich, The Organization of the Army (London and Glasgow, 1914), p.10. Ibid., p. 11. Dorpalen, Andreas, ‘Heinrich von Treitschke’, in Walter Laqueur and George L. Mosse (eds), Historians in Politics (London, 1974), p.31. Dorpalen, Andreas, Heinrich von Treitschke (New Haven, CT, 1957), p. 295. For Weber’s view of Poles, for example as ‘the least evolved nationality’, see Mazower, Hitler’s Empire, p.21.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 4 – 1 7

30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

41 42 43 44

45 46

McCleland, Charles E., ‘Berlin Historians and German Politics’, in Walter Laqueur and George L. Mosse (eds), Historians in Politics (London, 1974), p. 191. Von Bernhardi, Friedrich, Germany and the Next War (London, 1912), p. 50. This quote was attributed to Martin Luther, thus appealing to Germany’s substantial Protestant population. Horne and Kramer, German Atrocities, p.174. Baranowski, Nazi Empire, p.4. Hull, Absolute Destruction, p.1. Kennedy, Paul, The Rise of Anglo–German Antagonism 1860–1914 (London, 1982), pp.462–3. Holland, Henry Scott, So As By Fire: Notes on the War (London, 1915), p. 36. According to Dominik Geppert and Robert Gerwarth, the rise of Anglo– German antagonism still exists as a ‘widespread master narrative’. Geppert and Gerwarth, Wilhelmine Germany, p.3. Playne, Caroline, The Pre-War Mind in Britain: An Historical Review (London, 1928), p.100; The Times, 26 February 1909, p.6. Lord Northcliffe, formerly Alfred Harmsworth, was the owner of The Times and the Daily Mail. Andrew, Christopher, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 (London, 2009), p.3 ; Boghardt, Thomas, The Spies of the Kaiser: German Covert Operations in Great Britain during the First World War (Basingstoke, 2004), p.147. Manchester Guardian, 2 May 1909, p.7. Gardiner, A.G., The ‘Daily Mail’ and the Liberal Press: A Reply to ‘Scaremongerings’ and an Open Letter to Lord Northcliffe (London, 1914), p. 4. Brex, John Twells, ‘Scaremongerings’ from the Daily Mail 1896–1914 (London, 1914), p.137. There was ‘profound admiration for German culture in all its facets: art, music, philosophy, religion, education, scholarship, industry, and especially in the [British] military’; Hoover, A.J., God, Germany, and Britain in the Great War: A Study in Clerical Nationalism (London, 1989), p.19. Butler, Sarah, Britain and its Empire in the Shadow of Rome: The Reception of Rome in Socio-Political Debate 1850–1920 (London, 2012), pp.69–72. Brex, ‘Scaremongerings’, p.153. Such attitudes are reflected in recent scholarship on the relationship between the two nations, which argues that ‘the old antagonism paradigm is not adequate to interpret the complexities of the intellectual cross-fertilizations which shaped British– German relations as much as the better-known rivalries.’ In all kinds of ways, ‘the two countries embraced each other’s culture with a striking intensity partly motivated by competition and hostility, but also driven by



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 8 – 2 2

47 48 49 50 51 52

53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71

admiration for each other’s achievements and the intention of emulating them.’ Geppert and Gerwarth, Wilhelmine Germany, p.vii. Addison, Christopher, Four and a Half Years: A Personal Diary from June 1914 to January 1919 (London, 1934), p.32. Riddell, Lord, Lord Riddell’s War Diary 1914–1918 (London, 1933), p.3. Gregory, The Last Great War, p.11. Riddell, War Diary, p.3. Manchester Guardian, 3 August 1914, p.9. Playne, Caroline E., The Pre-War Mind in Britain, p.100. For a more modern example of this view, see, for example, Zeman, Z.A.B., A Diplomatic History of the First World War (London, 1971), pp.166–9, Kennedy, Paul, ‘Idealists and Realists, British Views of Germany, 1864– 1939’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5/25 (1975), p.147, pp. 148–9. Hoover, God, Germany, and Britain, p.19. Sandhurst, Viscount, From Day to Day 1914–15 (London, 1928), p.28. The Times, 22 August 1914, p.7. Asquith, H.H., The War, its Causes and its Message: Speeches Delivered by the Prime Minister August–October 1914 (London, 1914), pp.14, 22–4. Hendrick, Burton (ed.), The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page (London, 1924), pp. 314–15; Kennedy, Paul, ‘Idealists and Realists’, p.147. Why We Are At War: Great Britain’s Case, by Members of the Oxford Faculty of Modern History (Oxford, 1914), p.114. Bailey, Sarah (ed.), John Bailey 1864–1931 Letters and Diaries (London, 1947), p. 147; Swinnerton, Frank (ed.), The Journals of Arnold Bennett (London, 1954), p.272. Miles, Hallie Eustace, Untold Tales of War-Time London: A Personal Diary (London, 1930), pp.22–5. See also Hallam, G.H., Notes on the War (Sidcup, n.d.), pp.4–5. The Times, 10 August 1914, p.7. Ibid., 19 August 1914, p.9. Ibid., 22 August 1914, p.7. Ibid., 5 October 1914, p.9. For example, a leader column ridiculed distinctions made by Lloyd George and Lord Bryce between leaders and led. Ibid., 15 October 1914, p. 7. The Times History of the War (London, 1915), p.431. The Times, 6 October 1914, p.9. Gregory, The Last Great War, p.49. Daily Mail, 26 August 1914, p.8. Horne and Kramer, German Atrocities, p.178. Pennell, Catriona, A Kingdom United: Popular Responses to the Outbreak of the First World War in Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2012), p.4.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 3 – 2 5

72 73 74 75 76

77 78 79 80 81 82 83

84 85 86

87

88 89 90

Munson, James (ed.), Echoes of the Great War: The Diary of the Reverend Andrew Clark 1914–1919 (Oxford, 1985), pp.14–15. Observer and West Sussex Recorder, 23 September 1914, p.10. Gregory, The Last Great War, p.46. Holmes, Colin, Anti-Semitism in British Society, 1876–1939 (London, 1979), pp. 131–6; Cesarani, David, ‘Anti-Alienism in England after the First World War’, Immigrants and Minorities, 6/1 (1987), pp.5–29. Cesarani, David, ‘An Embattled Minority: The Jews in Britain during the First World War’, in Tony Kushner and Kenneth Lunn (eds), The Politics of Marginality: Race, the Radical Right and Minorities in Twentieth Century Britain (London, 1990), p.65. Robbins, Keith, ‘Lord Bryce and the First World War’, in Politicians, Diplomacy and War in Modern British History (London and Rio Grande, 1994), p. 189. Ibid., pp. 189–90. Hendrick, The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, pp.348–50. Robbins, ‘Lord Bryce and the First World War’, p.193. Horne and Kramer, German Atrocities, p.236. The Spectator, 15 May 1915, p.675. Kingsley Kent, Susan, Making Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Interwar Britain (Princeton, NJ, 1993), p.23. It is also notable how Kingsley Kent takes at face value the 1941 book by the American Quaker, James Morgan Read. See Morgan Read, James, Atrocity Propaganda, 1914– 1919 (New Haven, CT, 1941), which is typical of the anti-propaganda literature that abounded between the wars. The Truth about German Atrocities, Founded on the Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages (London, 1915), p.23. The Times, 14 May 1915, p.9. Morgan, J.H., A Dishonoured Army: German Atrocities in France: With Unpublished Records, Reprinted from The Nineteenth Century, June 1915 (London, 1915). Morgan also translated what became known as the German ‘War Book’, which ‘inculcate[d] upon German officers the duty of “frightfulness”’. Todman, Dan, The Great War: Myth and Memory (London, 2005), p.14. For examples of modern emphasis on lurid propaganda, see Wilson, Trevor, The Myriad Faces of War: Britain and the Great War 1914–18 (London, 1986); Paris, Michael, Over the Top: the Great War and Juvenile Literature in Britain (London, 2004). Taylor, Philip, British Propaganda in the 20th Century: Selling Democracy (Edinburgh, 1999), p.28. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/view/article/34927. Accessed 30 May 2012. Masterman, Lucy, C.F.G. Masterman: A Biography (London, 1939), p.279.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 6 – 3 0

91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104

105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115

Taylor, British Propaganda (Edinburgh, 1999), p.28. Punch, 26 August 1914, ‘The Triumph of Kultur’. Munson, Echoes of the Great War, p.27. Manchester Guardian, 9 December 1915, p.8. Ibid., 3 December 1915, p.6. Higgins, D.S. (ed.), The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard (London, 1980), p. 94. Gregory, The Last Great War, pp.159–60. Woods, Christianity and War, pp.5–6. Carnegie, W.H., Sermons on Subjects Suggested by the War: Three Sermons Preached in June 1915 (London, 1915), pp.15–18. Snell, Bernard J., How are we to Love our Enemies (London, 1915), pp. 9–10. Cited in Gregory, The Last Great War, p.168. Henson, War-time Sermons, p.49. Bull, Paul, Peace and War: Notes of Sermons and Addresses (London, 1917), p. 15. Snell, How are we to Love our Enemies, pp.6–7; Woods, Henry George, Christianity and War (London, 1915), p.4. For a balanced study on the content of German soldiers’ diaries, see Horne, John and Kramer, Alan, ‘German “Atrocities” and Franco–German Opinion, 1914, The Evidence of German Soldiers’ Diaries’, Journal of Modern History, 66/1 (1994), pp. 1–33. Mistakenly, so did the writings of Nietzsche. See Golomb, Jacob and Wistrich, Robert S. (eds), Nietzche, Godfather of Fascism?: On the Uses and Abuses of a Philosophy (Oxford, 2002). Henson, H. Hensley, War-time Sermons (London, 1915), p.48; PlowdenWardlaw, James, The Test of War: War Addresses given at Cambridge (London, 1916), p.27. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33825. Accessed 3 November 2011. Henson, War-time Sermons, p.50–1. Ibid., Woods, Christianity and War, pp.7–8; Carnegie, Sermons on Subjects Suggested by the War, p.14; Plowden-Wardlaw, The Test of War, p. 41. The Times, 14 September 1914, p.9. Ibid., 20 October 1915, p.9. Ibid., 1 May 1917, p.7. Ibid., 4 May 1917, p.9. Green, Moses Montefiore, pp.422–3. For a good study of nineteenth-century British attitudes to refugees, see Porter, Bernard, The Refugee Question in Mid-Victorian Politics (Cambridge, 1979).



N O T E S T O PA G E S 3 0 – 3 4

116

117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133

134 135 136

Kushner, Tony and Knox, Katherine, Refugees in an Age of Genocide: Global, National and Local Perspectives during the Twentieth Century (London, 1999), p.53; Cahalan, Peter, Belgian Refugee Relief in England during the Great War (London, 1982), pp.11, 58–9. Samuel, Herbert, Memoirs (London, 1945), pp.106–8. According to Samuel, the cost to public funds was £3.5 million, while committees and private hosts provided £6m. Observer and West Sussex Recorder, 23 December 1914, p.5. James, Echoes of the Great War, p.37. Gwynn, Stephen (ed.), The Anvil of War: Letters between F.S. Oliver and his Brother 1914–1918 (London, 1936), p.42. Miles, Untold Tales, p.30. Ibid., p. 20 Kushner and Knox, Refugees in an Age of Genocide, p.57. Ibid., p. 47. Miles, Untold Tales, pp.22–5. The Times, 10 September 1914, p.9. Cahalan, Belgian Refugee Relief, p.4. Sanday, W., The Meaning of the War for Germany and Great Britain: An Attempt at Synthesis (Oxford, 1915), pp.108–9. Cited in Bracco, Maria Rosa Merchants of Hope: British Middlebrow Writers and the First World War, 1919–1939 (Oxford, 1993), p.7. Wilson, The Myriad Faces of War, p.182. Palmer, Alan, The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1992). Green, Moses Montefiore, p.88. The agitation was accompanied by some nasty anti-Semitic insinuations, especially against Prime Minister Disraeli, who was accused of being motivated by ‘hebraic sympathies…rather than the national interest.’ Cesarani, David, ‘Duel Heritage or Dual of Heritages? Englishness and Jewishness in the Heritage Industry’, in Kushner, Tony (ed.), The Jewish Heritage in British History: Englishness and Jewishness (London, 1992), p. 31. For a solid account, see Shannon, Richard T., Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation, 1876 (London, 1963). Cecil, Gwendoline, Life of Robert Marquis of Salisbury, vol.2, 1868–80 (London, 1921), pp.302–3. See also Marsh, Peter, ‘Lord Salisbury and the Ottoman Massacres’, Journal of British Studies 11/2 (1972), pp.63–83; Zeidner, Robert F., ‘Britain and the Launching of the Armenian Question’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 7/4 (1976), pp.465–83; Levene, Mark, Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: The Rise of the West and the Coming of Genocide (London and New York, 2005), p.309.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 3 4 – 4 0

137

138 139

140 141 142

143 144 145 146

147 148 149 150 151 152 153

154 155 156 157 158

On the tradition of Armenian support, see Nassibian, Akaby, Britain and the Armenian Question (London, 1984), pp.59–62; For the pro-Armenian tradition, see also Marsh, Peter, ‘Lord Salisbury and the Ottoman Massacres’, Journal of British Studies 11/2 (1972), pp.63–83; Zeidner, ‘Britain and the Launching of the Armenian Question’, pp.465–83. Akçam, A Shameful Act, p.44. Fuhrmann, Malte, ‘Visions of Germany in Turkey: Legitimising German Imperialist Penetration of the Ottoman Empire’, given at ‘The Contours of Legitimacy in Central Europe: New Approaches in Graduate Studies’, European Studies Centre, St Antony’s College Oxford, 24–26 May 2002. Akçam, A Shameful Act, p.32. Ibid., p. 44. Weitz, Eric D., ‘Germany and the Young Turks: Revolutionaries into Statesmen’, in Ronald Grigor Suny, Fatma Müge Göçek and Norman M. Naimark (eds), A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire (Oxford, 2011), p.177. Noel-Buxton, Noel, Europe and the Turks (London, 1912), pp.90–1. Strachan, Hugh, The First World War, vol.1: To Arms (Oxford, 2001), p. 728; Akçam, A Shameful Act, p.151. Akçam, A Shameful Act, p.96. Bloxham, Donald, The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians (Oxford, 2005), p.1. See also Akçam, A Shameful Act; Dadrian, Vahakn N., The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (Oxford, 2007). Manchester Guardian, 26 May 1915, p.6. Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p.136. Hansard, HL, vol.418, cols 774–8, 28 July 1915. Ibid., vol. 19, cols 1100–04, 20 October 1915. Daily Express, 7 October 1915, p.1. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.19, cols 994–1004, 6 October 1915. Dackombe, Barry, ‘A fine and disinterested spirit: Biography of Aneurin Williams MP’, Journal of Liberal History 57/Winter (2007–08), pp.34–41; Parliamentary Papers (Commons), vol.75, cols 1761–2, 16 November 1915. Manchester Guardian, 6 August 1915, p.6. Ibid., 23 August 1915, p.4. Ibid., 11 September 1915. p.8. Ibid., 22 September 1915, p.6. For an interpretation that emphasises the cynical manipulation of the Armenian question by British politicians and press, see Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question.

0

N O T E S T O PA G E S 4 0 – 4 4

159 160 161 162

163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175

176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185

Manchester Guardian, 2 October 1915, p.8. The Times, 30 September 1915, p.7; ibid., 14 December 1916, p.9. Parliamentary Papers (Commons), vol.75, cols 1760–77, 16 November 1916. Although leaks did occur, for instance a report from a ‘Basle lady’ in a weekly periodical that was an organ of the German missionary effort in the East, in general, press proprietors willingly adhered to government censorship. The national press failed to pick this up and therefore coverage was not widespread, but it was there in the public domain. Manchester Guardian, 5 October 1915, p.8. Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p.127. The Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Falloden Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (London, 1916), pp.xvi–xvii. The Treatment of the Armenians, p.xxvi. Toynbee, Arnold J., Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation (London, 1915), p. 108. The Treatment of the Armenians, p.xxxiii. Ibid., p. xxxvi. Manchester Guardian, 15 December 1916, p.4. The New Statesman (Blue Book Supplement), 27 January 1917, p.4. Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p.129. Manchester Guardian, 2 October 1915, p.4. Ibid., 26 October 1915, p.10. Manchester Guardian, 5 February 1916, p.6; 8 June 1916, p.6. Vice-presidents of the Fund included the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Cardinal Bourne, Bryce, Lord Curzon, various bishops, Lady Frederick Cavendish, George Cadbury and Arnold Rowntree. Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question, pp.63–4. For Pears’ role in the ‘Bulgarian agitation’, see Shannon, Gladstone and the Bulgarian Agitation, p.38. Arthur Balfour, First Lord of the Admiralty. The Times, 16 October 1915, p.5. Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question, p.64. Hovannisian, Richard G., ‘The Allies and Armenia, 1915–18’, Journal of Contemporary History 3/1 (1968), p.147. The Times, 13 June 1917, p.4. Arslanian, Artin H., ‘British Wartime Pledges, 1917–18, The Armenian Case’, Journal of Contemporary History 13/3 (1978), p.518. See, for example, Robinson, Emily, Armenia and the Armenians (London, 1917), p. 6. Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p.129. See Dadrian, History of the Armenian Genocide.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 4 4 – 4 7

186 187 188

189 190 191 192 193 194 195

196 197 198 199

Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p.127. Weitz, ‘Germany and the Young Turks’, p.177. Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p.125; Anderson, Margaret Lavinia, ‘Who Still Talked about the Extermination of the Armenians?: German Talk and German Silences’, in Suny, Göçek and Naimark (eds), A Question of Genocide, pp.206–7. For statements by the German Ambassador in Washington, see Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question, pp. 76 and 79. For German protests, see for example, Akçam, A Shameful Act, pp.125 and 183. Akçam. A Shameful Act, p.xvi. Manchester Guardian, 23 August 1918, p.4. Anderson, ‘Who Still Talked about the Extermination of the Armenians?’, p. 207. Hovannisian, ‘The Allies and Armenia, 1915–18’, pp.145–68; Arslanian, ‘British Wartime Pledges, pp.517–30. The Times, 9 August 1911, p.9. Ibid., 14 April 1911, p.3. Kedourie, Elie, ‘Young Turks, Freemasons and Jews’, Middle Eastern Studies 7/1 (1971), pp. 89–104; Levene, Mark, War, Jews and the New Europe: the Diplomacy of Lucien Wolf 1914–1919 (Oxford, 1992), p. 52. Ukrainians were also called Ruthenians, although the latter term meant different things over time. By the time of the Great War it seems to have mostly meant Ukrainians. Fink, Carole, Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878–1938 (Cambridge, 2004) p. 71. The American Jewish Committee, The Jews in the Eastern War Zone (New York, 1916), p.8. It has been implied that Armenian atrocities received widespread publicity only because British officials got wind that Germany was intending to expose the brutality of Britain’s Russian ally. This claim seems to rest on the utterances of Arnold Toynbee in his 1967 biography, in which he sought to distance himself from the Blue Book on Turkish atrocities. There is little evidence that this pay-off was based in fact. It has gained credibility because of an enduring belief that wartime propaganda was not only inherently deceitful, but also supremely successful. Toynbee describes himself as an ‘amanuensis’ for Bryce. In fact he was a lot more than that and subsequently built a reputation for himself as an expert on Near Eastern politics, especially atrocities. Toynbee, Arnold J. Acquaintances (London, 1967), p. 149; Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, p. 129; Levene, War, Jews and the New Europe, p. 52.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 4 8 – 5 0

200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211

212 213

214 215

216

Levene, War, Jews and the New Europe, pp.51–2. ‘British Jews were compelled to walk a tightrope between transgressing their loyalty to the allied cause and abnegating responsibility for their fellow Jews.’ Cesarani, ‘An Embattled Minority’, p.62. Figes, Orlando, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891–1924 (London, 1997), p.642. Kadish, Sharman, Bolsheviks and British Jews: The Anglo-Jewish Community, Britain and the Russian Revolution (London, 1992), p.10. The Times, 16 December 1918, p.7. Magocsi, Paul Robert, A History of the Ukraine (Seattle, WA, 1996), pp. 515–16. The Times, 28 February 1918, pp.7–8. Ibid., 7 January 1918, p.7. For unanimity behind war aims, see Lloyd George, David, Memoirs of the Peace Conference, vol.1 (New Haven, CT, 1939), p. 36. YIVO, Wolf/Moshowitsch Papers, Record Group 348, Microfilm no MK 502, Folder 54, Letter to a Joshua Podrushnik from Robert Cecil dated 9 August 1919. American Jewish Committee, Marshall Papers Box 10, Folder marked ‘Great Britain Joint Foreign Committee’, Samuel and Montefiore to Balfour, 18 June 1918. President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and President of the Anglo-Jewish Association respectively. Their foreign affairs expert Lucien Wolf expressed it thus: ‘in all countries, the duty of the Jews was to identify themselves with the National cause and to subordinate Jewish interests to it.’ Wolf, Lucien, ‘Diary of the Peace Conference’, (unpublished), 11 June 1919. American Jewish Committee, Marshall Papers Box 10, Folder marked ‘Great Britain Joint Foreign Committee’, Samuel and Montefiore to Balfour, 18 June 1918. Headlam-Morley, Agnes, Bryant, Russell and Cienciala, Anna (eds), A Memoir of the Paris Peace Conference 1919 (London, 1972), p. 12; Black, Eugene, The Social Politics of Anglo-Jewry 1880–1920 (Oxford, 1988), p. 354. Wolf /Moshowitsch Papers, 2 January 1919. For example, Annan Bryce, William Joynson Hicks, Home Secretary in the second Baldwin administration 1924–9 and R. W. Seton-Watson, East European Adviser to the government. This group was generally wary of the PNC. One of the foremost scholars of the area, Paul Magocsi, admits that ‘the concept of Galicia is problematic’. Magocsi, Paul Robert, Galicia: A Historical Survey and Bibliographic Guide (Toronto, Buffalo, London, 1983), p. xiv.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 5 0 – 5 2

217 218 219 220 221

222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234

235 236 237

Magocsi, Paul Robert, ‘Galicia: A European Land’, in Chris Hann and Paul Robert Magocsi (eds), Galicia: A Multicultured Land (Toronto, Buffalo, London, 2005), p.3. Fink, Defending the Rights of Others, p.71. Ibid., p. 111. FO 371/3281/201809, 13 December 1918. Crossman, Richard, A Nation Reborn: The Israel of Weizmann, Bevin and Ben-Gurion (London, 1960), p.41. During the war Weizmann had developed a process for the manufacture of synthetic acetone at a time when it was desperately needed, which carried political weight. Weizman to Drummond, 25 November 1918, Weisgal, Meyer W. (ed.), The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizman, vol.9, Series A, October 1918–July 1920 (Jerusalem, 1977), p.37. FO 371/3281/199154, 29 November 1918. Manchester Guardian, 16 November 1918, p.6. Jewish Chronicle, 22 November 1918, p.5. Ibid. Lieutenant-Colonel H.A.L.H. Wade was accompanied by Mr Richard Kimens, Vice-Consul at Warsaw and Red Cross Commissioner in Russia, and Mr Rowland Kenny. The Times, 11 December 1918, p.7. Manchester Guardian, 12 December 1918, p.6. FO 371/3282/199551, FO note to Lord Hardinge, 6 December 1918; FO 371/3282/199551/W55, 17 December 1918. Sobansky to Lord Swaythling, 30 November 1918, Board of Deputies of British Jews Papers, Joint Foreign Committee Minute Book, March 1918–March 1923. FO 608/66/259, Wade to FO, 16 January 1919. FO 608/61, FO summary dated 3 February 1919. FO 371/4369 P.I.D. 547/547 18 November 1918. Sokolow, Nahum, History of Zionism 1600–1918 (London, 1919), Introduction by A.J. Balfour, p.xxxi–iii. Wolf suggested of Balfour that it was ‘difficult to say where the anti-Semite ended and the Zionist began’. Wolf, Lucien, ‘Diary of Peace Conference’, 28 February 1919. Wolf, Diary’, 28 February 1919. FO 608/61, Wade to Rumbold, 14 January 1919; The Times, 20 January 1919, p. 8; FO 608/61, Wade to FO, 12 January 1919. The Times, 2 December 1918, p.9. The Times, 4 December 1918, p.7. The account of the Polish military commander in Lemberg differed little from the German version of the Belgian atrocities. BoD, ACC/3121/ C11/4/2, Telegram from Zionist Bureau to Jewish Chronicle, 6 December 1918. The implicit acceptance of this version of events by The Times is noteworthy because these explanations vis-à-vis Belgium were largely rejected as an excuse for ‘frightfulness’.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 5 2 – 5 5

238 239 240

241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258

259 260 261 262 263

The Manchester Guardian, although outraged by the violence, believed the Polish government was powerless to control the pogrom. Manchester Guardian, 30 November 1918, p.6. The Times, 2 December 1918, p.9. Ibid., 4 December 1918, p. 7. Henry Wickham Steed, editor of The Times, held this view as did others. Wickham-Steed, Henry, The Hapsburg Monarchy (London, 1914); Contemporary Review, January 1919, p. 58. The Times, 4 December 1918, p.7. Ibid., 16 December 1918, p.7. Howard also feared that Germany and Russia would become ‘coterminous’. FO 608/61, FO summary dated 3 February 1919. The Times, 4 December 1918, p.7. Ibid., 3 December 1918, p.8. Ibid., 4 December 1918, p.7. Ibid. Ibid., 7 December 1918, p.7. Article, ‘The Jews of Poland: Evils of Bolshevism’. The Englishwoman, February 1919, pp. 58–9; The New Statesman, 4 January 1919, p.270 and 1 February 1919, p.366; Contemporary Review, January 1919, p.54. See, for example, Manchester Guardian, 2 January 1919, p.4 and 11 February 1919, p.4; FO 608/66/308, Howard note, 2 February 1919. The Times, 22 February 1919, p.9. Davies, Norman, White Eagle Red Star: The Polish–Soviet War 1919-1920 and ‘The Miracle on the Vistula’ (London, 2003), p.22. Brailsford, Henry Noel, Across the Blockade: A Record of Travels in Enemy Europe (London, 1919), pp.70–3. The Manchester Guardian was a notable exception. Manchester Guardian, 7 May 1919, p.6. Wolf, ‘Diary’, 23 April 1919. Cohen, Israel, A Report on the Pogroms in Poland (London, April 1919), pp. 7–21. Morning Post, 11 April 1919. On 10 May 1919 the Jewish deputies of the Polish Diet wrote to Paderewski giving details of these and many more instances of pogroms. Marshall Correspondence Peace Conference, Paris, 1919 (1), Boxes 5–6. Manchester Guardian, 30 May 1919, p.9. Manchester Guardian, 8 June 1919, p.11. Jewish Chronicle, 23 May 1919, p.9 and 30 May 1919, p.9. The Times, 23 May 1919, p.11. Manchester Guardian, 27 June 1919, p.6. Munson, Echoes of the Great War, p.285.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 5 6 – 6 2

264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289

The Times, 24 June 1919, p.8; Morning Post, 23 June 1919, p.8; Morning Post, 25 June 1919, p.8; Morning Post, 27 June 1919, pp.3 and 6; Westminster Gazette, 26 June 1919, p.4. FO 608/67/145. Crewdson to Sir William Goode, 3 July 1919. Ibid. Goodhart, Arthur L., Poland and the Minority Races (London, 1920), p. 81. Diary entry 9 August 1919. FO 608/67/215, Telegram to Balfour, 16 July 1919. Manchester Guardian, 6 September 1919, p.8. FO 608/67/96, Balfour to Paderewski, 25 June 1919; FO608/67/128, Paderewski to Balfour, n.d.; FO 608/67/296, Wyndham to FO, 19 August 1919. Levene, War, Jews and the New Europe, p.190. Ibid. For example, Lloyd George’s parliamentary speech in The Times, 11 August 1920, p.11. Report by Sir Stuart Samuel on his Mission to Poland, Miscellaneous No 10 (1920) (Cmd. 674). FO688/6/482–3, Gregory to Rumbold, 8 May 1919. Wright’s report remains perhaps the most anti-Semitic piece ever to have been publicly endorsed by a British government. Samuel Report, pp.19–33. Sokolow, History of Zionism, p.xxxi. FO 688/6/449–454, Rumbold, draft. Samuel Report. Daily Mail, 5 July 1920, p.8. Daily Telegraph, 5 July 1920, p.8; Daily Express, 5 July 1920, p.7; Daily News, 5 July 1920, p.6. Morning Post, 5 July 1920, p.6. The Times, 5 July 1920, p.19. Manchester Guardian, 5 July 1920. Daily Herald, 5 July 1920, p.1. Church Times, 30 July 1920. Press cutting in American Jewish Committee Archives General Correspondence 1906–46, Chronological File 1906– 30, Box 1. The Times, 13 August 1920, p.11. Wolf/Moshowitsch Papers, Letter to Rothschild, July 1920.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 6 3 – 6 6

Chapter 2 1 2 3

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18

19

Manchester Guardian, 22 November 1918, p.4. The Labour party had voted itself out of the national coalition in the immediate aftermath of war. Taylor, A.J.P., English History 1914–1945 (London, 1965), p.126. Taylor’s view was reinforced by Trevor Wilson’s 1964 analysis of the election, ‘The Coupon and the British General Election of 1918’, Journal of Modern History 36/1 (1964), pp.39–40. Wilson ‘confirmed’ what was commonly believed between the wars, when the idea took root that Britain had momentarily taken leave of its senses and become xenophobic (and especially anti-German). The fact is that Britain’s ‘temporary insanity’ is as much of a myth as the idea that distrust and dislike of foreigners was a passing phase. Daily Express, 14 December 1918, p.1. The Times, 4 December 1918, p.9. Cited in Nicolson, Harold, Peacemaking 1919 (London, 1933), p.16–17. Manchester Guardian, 18 November 1918, p.7. Cited in Morgan, Kenneth O., Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918–1922 (Oxford, 1979), p.40. Barnes, George N., From Workshop to War Cabinet (London, 1924), p. vii. Observer, 1 December 1918, p.8. Manchester Guardian, 5 December 1918, p.9. Ibid., 10 December 1918, p.8. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy. open.ac.uk/view/article/33360. Accessed 30 November 2011. His statement, delivered on the Cambridge hustings, hardly represented a coherent policy but rather reflected his reputation for impatience and bluff political style. These particular traits were later evident when the government used his commitment to fiscal management for much publicised retrenchment in the form of the ‘Geddes Axe’. Manchester Guardian, 8 December 1918, p.10. Wilson, ‘The Coupon’, pp.39–40. The Times, 5 December 1918, p.16; 11 December 1918, p.12. Self, Robert C. (ed.), The Austen Chamberlain Diary Letters: The Correspondence of Sir Austen Chamberlain with his Sisters Hilda and Ida, 1916–1937 (London, 1995), p.100. The Times, 13 December 1918, p.9. Both Kenneth Morgan, whose history of the Lloyd George coalition remains a respected work, and Charles Loch Mowatt who wrote a staple history of interwar Britain, came to similar conclusions. Morgan, Consensus and Disunity, p.41; Mowatt, Britain between the Wars, p.5. Morgan, Consensus and Disunity, p.43.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 6 7 – 7 2

20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46

Lloyd George Papers F/8/2/49, Churchill to Lloyd George, 26 December 1919. Lloyd George Papers, F/7/4/8a, Geddes to Austen Chamberlain, 10 June 1921. Cesarani, David and Kushner, Tony, The Internment of Aliens in Twentieth Century Britain (London, 1993), p.13. Cesarani, David, ‘An Embattled Minority’, The Politics of Marginality: Race, the Radical Right and Minorities in Twentieth Century Britain (London, 1991), pp.61 and 75. Manchester Guardian, 18 November 1918, p.7. Hyam, Ronald, Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation 1918–1968 (Cambridge, 2006), pp.33–4. Pati, Bedheswar, India and the First World War (New Delhi, 1996), pp. 96–7; Datta, V.N., Jallianwala Bagh (Ludhiana, 1969), p.24. Pati, India and the First World War, p.5; Datta, Jallianwala Bagh, pp.1–6, 31–46. Datta, Jallianwala Bagh, pp.25–6. Ibid., p. 45. Ibid., p. 47. Baisakhi has been called the Punjabi harvest festival. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.131, col.1729, 8 July 1920. Hunter, William, Report of the Committee Appointed by the Government of India to Investigate the Disturbances in the Punjab, etc. (London, 1920), pp. 30–1; Hyam, Britain’s Declining Empire, p.35. Ibid., pp. 30–1. Ibid., p. 31. Ibid., p. 115. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.131, col.1707, 8 July 1920. Ibid., col. 1719, 8 July 1920. Ibid., col. 1715, 8 July 1920. Ibid., col. 1727, 8 July 1920. Ibid., cols 1727–30, 8 July 1920. Henry Page Croft tried to interrupt Churchill: ‘Was not the frightfulness started three days before? Was not the frightfulness on the other side?’. Manchester Guardian, 19 July 1920, p.6. Cited in Sayer, Derek, ‘British Reaction to the Amritsar Massacre 1919– 1920’, Past and Present 131 (1991), p.152. The Times, 8 July 1920, p.10. Colley, Linda, ‘Britishness and Otherness, An Argument’, Journal of British Studies 31/4 (1992), p.311. The Times, 12 July 1920, p.10.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 7 2 – 7 8

47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72

73

Morgan, Consensus and Disunity, p.123. Self, The Austen Chamberlain Diary Letters, pp.137–8. The Times, 9 July 1920, p.16. Morning Post, 10 July 1920. Ibid., 12 July 1920. Ibid. Middlemas, Keith (ed.), Thomas Jones Whitehall Diary, vol.3: Ireland 1918–1925 (London, 1971) p.33. Boyce, D.G., Englishmen and Irish Troubles: British Public Opinion and the Making of Irish Policy 1918–22 (Aldershot, 1994), p.13. Townsend, Charles, The British Campaign in Ireland 1919–1921: The Development of Political and Military Policies (Oxford, 1978), p.20. Barry, Tom, Guerilla Days in Ireland (Dublin, 1949), p.9. Duff, Douglass V., Sword for Hire: The Saga of a Modern Free-Companion (London, 1934), p.54. Leeson, D.M., The Black and Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence (Oxford, 2011), p.3. Mowatt, Britain between the Wars, p.66. Many titles were fed by a well-oiled Republican propaganda operation, which circumvented government attempts at censorship. Manchester Guardian, 22 September 1920, p.6. Ibid., 29 September 1920, p.6. The Times, 23 September 1920, p.6. The Times, 30 September 1920, p.11. Martin, Hugh, Ireland in Insurrection: An Englishman’s Record of Fact (London, 1921), p.177. The Times, 21 October 1920, p.6. Daily Herald, 18 January 1921, p.1. Masterman, C.F.G., The New Liberalism (London, 1920), pp.170–1. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.58, cols 961–2, 20 October 1920. Lloyd, David, Battlefield Tourism: Pilgrimage and the Commemoration of the Great War in Britain, Australia and Canada, 1919–1939 (Oxford and New York, 1998), p.70. Ibid., pp. 65–75; Manchester Guardian, 27 October 1920, p.6. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.135, col.487, 24 November 1920. For the original ‘methods of barbarism’ speech, etc., see Spies, S. B., Methods of Barbarism: Roberts and Kitchener and Civilians in the Boer Republics January 1900–May 1902 (Cape Town, 1977), p.9. They made common cause over the Anglo–South African War, Welsh disestablishment, stalking the dukes, National Insurance and welfare reform. ‘Lloyd George and Nonconformity, the last rally’, English Historical Review, LXXXIX (CCCL), p.77.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 7 9 – 8 2

74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84

85 86

87 88

Boyce, D.G., Englishmen and Irish Troubles: British Public Opinion and the Making of Irish Policy 1918–22 (Aldershot, 1994), p.74. Boyce, Englishmen and Irish Troubles, pp.78–9. The Times, 22 November 1920, p.12. For example, Contemporary Review, September 1920, pp.305–14; The Times, 2 November 1920, p.8; The Times, 9 November 1920, p.13. Manchester Guardian, 23 November 1920, p.11. Much like Niall Ferguson argues today. See his Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (London, 2004). New Statesman, 16 October 1920, p.42. Horne, John and Kramer, Alan, German Atrocities 1914: A History of Denial (New Haven and London, 2001), pp.371 and 420. Bennett, E. N., The German Army in Belgium: The White Book of May 1915 (London, 1921), p.x. Ibid., p. v. The harshness of Versailles is still blamed for the rise of Hitler and the policy of appeasement. This belief is a legacy of attempts by the post-war German authorities to convince the world that their armies had not been defeated in the field, but ‘stabbed in the back’ by the civilian population (or as Hitler would have it, by Jews), hypnotised by British propaganda and undermined by Bolshevik contamination. These things were widely believed in interwar Britain. Garnett, David, The Secret History of PWE, The Political Warfare Executive 1939–1945 (London, 2002), pp.1–2. In fact, Adrian Gregory gets it about right when he asserts, ‘The causality by which Versailles is held responsible for Hitler’s war is phoney. It wasn’t Versailles that caused the Second World War. Bodged treaty as it was, Versailles could have guaranteed European security. It was the failure to defend and enforce Versailles that led directly to the Second World War. Responsibility for that war rests less with those who imposed the treaty than with those who passively accepted and even connived in its rejection.’ Gregory, Adrian, The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War (Cambridge, 2008), p.295. See also Marks, Sally, The Illusion of Peace: International Relations in Europe 1918–1933 (London, 1976), p. 16. Hovannisian, ‘The Allies and Armenia’, pp.149–50. Kars and Ardahan, provinces on the eastern edge of Turkey. Riddell, Lord, Lord Riddell’s Intimate Diary of the Peace Conference and After, 1918–1923 (London, Gollancz, 1933), p. 208; The Times, 16 May 1919, p. 12; Daily Mail, 17 May 1919, p.5; Lloyd George Papers (LGP), 15 November 1920. LGP, G.W. Rendell to Lloyd George. Bloxham, Donald, The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism and the Destruction of the Ottoman Empire (Oxford, 2005), pp. 147–9.

0

N O T E S T O PA G E S 8 2 – 8 4

89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112

Fisher, H.A.L., James, vol.2 (London, 1927), p.245. Bryce to Dr Charles W. Eliot, 2 March 1920; Manchester Guardian, 5 March 1920, p.7. Ibid. Otherwise known as Çhanakkale. The Times, 28 April 1920, p.17. LGP, Daily Mail clipping. Daily Mail, 12 May 1920. Manchester Guardian 26 April 1920, p.6. The Treaty of Sèvres was signed on 10 August 1920 but was never ratified by the Ottoman government. Dadrian, History of the Armenian Genocide, p.359. Bloxham, Great Game of Genocide, pp.149–50. O’Connor T.P. in Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol. 136, col. 14, 13 December 1920; LGP, draft for San Remo statement, April 1920. LGP, Memorandum detailing the potential difficulties of maintaining an Armenian Erzerum. From General Staff, 11 Feb 1920. Walder, David, The Chanak Affair (London, 1969) p.92. Gilbert, Martin, Sir Horace Rumbold: Portrait of a Diplomat 1869–1941 (London, 1973), pp.227–8. For example, Daily Mail, 22 June 1920; Spectator, 12 March 1921, p.317; New Statesman, 19 March 1921, pp.692–3. Arnold Toynbee Papers (ATP), Toynbee to Rosalind Toynbee, 11 May 1921. ATP, ‘The Turks Point of View’, 19 May 1921, and ‘Greek Massacre of Turks’, Manchester Guardian, 27 May 1921. ATP, Toynbee to Gilbert Murray, 13 June 1921. He was married to Rosalind, daughter of Sir Gilbert and Lady Mary Murray. The Murrays ensured that his reports were read by Robert Cecil, Maurice Hankey, Eyre Crowe, Wedgwood Benn and Samuel Hoare. ATP, Hoare to Lady Mary Murray, 13 June 1921. Ibid., Roberts to Toynbee, 14 June 1921. Turkey No 1 (1921) Reports on Atrocities in the Districts of Yalova and Guemlek and in the Ismid Peninsula, Cmd.1478. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.151, col.1124, 7 March 1922. Gilbert, Rumbold, p. 252. LGP., G.W. Rendel memorandum on Turkish Massacres and Persecutions of Minorities since the Armistice, 20 March 1922. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol. 154, col. 46, 15 May 1922. The Times, 16 May 1922, p.17. Parliamentary Debates, Commons, Fifth Series, vol.154, cols 46–59, 15 May 1922; The Times, 17 May 1922, p.6; The Times, 31 May 1922, p.19.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 8 4 – 8 6

113 114 115 116 117

118 119 120

121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128

129 130 131 132 133

Morgan, Kenneth, Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918–1922 (Oxford, 1979), pp.339–41. Toynbee, Arnold J., The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the Contact of Civilisations (London, 1922), p.269. Daily Mail, 21 September 1922, p.9. The Times, 13 October 1922, p.17. See, for example, Birmingham Post, 29 August 1922; New Statesman, 16 September 1922, p.640; ATP, Scott to Toynbee, 14 September 1922. LGP, Notes on the words of the Marquis of Salisbury in the House of Lords on 19 January 1897; Daily Express, 6 September 1922, p.4; Morning Post, 2 September 1922, p.6; New Statesman, 2 September 1922, pp.576– 7; Daily Mail, 13 September 1922, p.9. The Times, 9 September 1922, p.9. Ferguson, Niall, The War of the World: History’s Age of Hatred (London, 2006), p. 182. See also Dobkin, M., Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (New York, 1972). Daily Mail, 16 September 1922, p.7, 18 September 1922, p.10, 19 September 1922, p.6, 25 September 1922, p.5; Morning Post, 16 September 1922, p. 7; Daily Express, 16 September 1922, p.1; Daily Express, 27 September 1922, p.6; New Statesman, 14 October 1922, p.33. New Statesman, 14 October 1922, p.33. Riddell, Intimate Diary, pp.388–9. Gilbert, Rumbold, p.261. Hehir, P., ‘The Near East Crisis’, The Nineteenth Century and After, XIX– XX, July–December 1922 (London, Constable, 1922), p.840. Daily Express, 14 September 1922, p.1; New Statesman, 16 September 1922, p. 624. Daily Mail, 18 September 1922, p.8. Morning Post, 19 September 1922, p.6. This was an about-turn on Labour’s 1918 declaration, which had condemned the fighting and called for the protection of Armenians. LGP, Minutes of Labour Delegation to Lloyd George, 21 September 1922. The delegation included J.H. Thomas MP, Will Thorne MP, O.W. Bowerman MP, A. Hayday MP, Robert Smillie, J.B. Williams, John Turner, Ben Turner, John Beard and A. Connelly. They were met by Lloyd George, Austen Chamberlain, R.S. Horne and L. WorthingtonEvans, the Minister for War. The Times, 23 September 1922, p.8. The Times, 18 September 1922, p.10; New Statesman, 23 September 1922, p. 652. Daily News, 4 October 1922, p.4, 9 October 1922, p.7. The Times, 1 September 1922, 3 October 1922, p.9. Daily Mail, 5 September 1922, p.6.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 8 6 – 9 0

134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162

Ibid., 21 September 1922, p.9. Ibid., 25 September 1922, p.5. The Times, 20 September 1920, p.10. Gilbert, Rumbold, p.266. For example, LGP, Harington to Cabinet, 22 Sept 1922. LGP, Cabinet to Harington, 30 September 1922. Gilbert, Rumbold, p.268. It was due to come into force on 14 October. The Times, 4 October 1922, p.13, 6 October 1922, p.11. Cited in Gilbert, Martin, Winston S. Churchill, vol.6: 1916–1922 (London, 1975), p. 859. LGP, ‘The Government’s Near East Policy, An Appeal to the Nation’. LGP, Handwritten notes for speech in Manchester on 14 October 1922. New Statesman, 21 October 1922, p.65. Walder, Chanak, p.325. Bonar Law Papers (BLP), Randall to Bonar Law, 30 October 1922; Bonar Law to Randall, 31 October 1922. The Times, 15 February 1923, p.11. Barker, J. Ellis, ‘The Freedom of the Straits’, The Fortnightly Review, vol. 112, July to December 1922, pp.775–6. Churchill, Winston S., The World Crisis: The Aftermath (London, 1929), p. 408. Gibbs, Philip, Realities of War (London, 1920), p.v; Gibbs, Philip, Now It Can Be Told (New York and London, 1920), pp. 520–1. See Bracco, Rosa Maria. Merchants of Hope: British Middlebrow Writers and the First World War, 1919–1939 (Oxford, 1993), pp.10 and 15. Bracco, Merchants of Hope, pp.74–5. Sherriff, R.C., Journey’s End (London, 2000), p.39. Bracco, Merchants of Hope, pp.178–87. Storer, Colin, Britain and the Weimar Republic: The History of a Cultural Relationship (London and New York, 2010), pp.3–4. Ibid., pp. 180–1. Ibid., p. 58. Cline, Catherine Ann, ‘British Historians and the Treaty of Versailles’, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies 20/1 (1988), p. 43. Cline, Catherine Ann, ‘Ecumenism and Appeasement: The Bishops of the Church of England and the Treaty of Versailles,’ Journal of Modern History, 61/4 (1989), pp.683–703. Cline, ‘British Historians and the Treaty of Versailles’, pp.43–4. Herwig, Holger H., ‘Clio Deceived: Patriotic Self-Censorship After the Great War’, in Keith Wilson (ed.), Forging the Collective Memory: Government and International Historians through Two World Wars (Oxford, 1996), pp.88 and 96.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 9 0 – 9 3

163 164

165 166 167 168 169

170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177

178 189 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188

Cline, ‘British Historians and the Treaty of Versailles’, pp.48–9. Hamilton, Keith, ‘The Pursuit of ‘Enlightened Patriotism’: The British Foreign Office and Historical Researchers during the Great War and its Aftermath’, in Wilson (ed.), Forging the Collective Memory, p. 209. The Times, 12 November 1924, p.10. Mombauer, Annika, The Origins of the First World War: Controversies and Consensus (Harlow, 2002), p.96. Dawson, William Harbutt, The Evolution of Modern Germany (London, 1908), Social Insurance in Germany (London, 1912) and Municipal Life and Government in Germany (London, 1914). Dawson, William Harbutt, What is Wrong with Germany? (London, 1915), p. x. Dawson wrote sympathetic introductions to von Treitschke, Heinrich, History of Germany in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1915) and to Schnee, Heinrich, German Colonization Past and Future: the Truth about the German Colonies (London, 1926). Dawson, William Harbutt, A History of Germany (London, 1928), pp. 75–6. Times Literary Supplement, 1 June 1933, p.371. Ibid., Dawson, William Harbutt, Germany Under the Treaty (London, 1933), p. 416. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/view/article/54572. Evans, Richard, J., Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and the European Continent (Cambridge, 2009), p.113. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/view/article/33447. Cline, ‘British Historians and the Treaty of Versailles’, p.52. It met with ‘considerable demand at home and abroad’, and subsequently Gooch was ‘pressed from many quarters to bring the survey up to date’. Gooch, G.P., Recent Revelations of European Diplomacy (London, 1927), pp. v and 213. Cline, ‘British Historians and the Treaty of Versailles’, p.49. Gooch, G.P., Germany (London, 1925), p.v. Evans, Cosmopolitan Islanders, p.113. Gooch, Germany, p.109. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/view/article/32349. Gooch, Germany, pp.357–8. A Carthaginian peace refers to a brutal peace treaty demanding total subjugation of the defeated nation. Ibid. Here he quoted Brigadier General Morgan. Cline, ‘British Historians and the Treaty of Versailles’, p.53. Ibid., pp. 50–1. Mombauer, Origins of the First World War, p.105. Horne and Kramer, German Atrocities 1914, p.375.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 9 4 – 1 0 0

189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217

Nevin, Thomas R., Ernst Jünger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914–1945 (London, 1997), p.104. Manchester Guardian, 28 June 1929, p.17; 29 June 1929, p.19; Observer, 30 June 1929, p.20; Times, 28 June 1929, p.16. Sir R. Lindsay to Sir Austin Chamberlain, 24 May 1928, The Papers of Sir James and Agnes Headlam-Morley, HDLM ACC 815/25. Robbins, Keith, Present and Past, British Images of Germany in the First Half of the Twentieth Century and their Historical Legacy (Göttingen, 1998), p. 35. Hamilton, Cicely, Modern Germanies as seen by an Englishwoman (London, 1931), pp.110 and 252–3. Kushner, Tony, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination, p.44. Storm Jameson, Margaret, Civil Journey (London, 1939), pp.51–2. New Statesman, 4 March 1933, p.241. Spectator, 10 March 1933, p.321. The Times, 11 March 1933, p.9. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.276, cols 1913–16, 30 March 1933. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/view/article/30795. Friedlander, Saul, The Years of Persecution: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1933–1939 (London, 2007), p.17. Listener, 5 April 1933, pp.521–2. Ibid. See also Lord Snowden’s preface to Joseph King’s The German Revolution: Its Meaning and Menace (London, 1933), p.10. Listener, 19 April 1933, p.614. News Chronicle, 11 March 1933, p.2; 22 March 1933, p.8. Daily Express, 6 March 1933, p.10. New Statesman, 11 March 1933, p.277. Martel, Gordon, (ed.), The Times and Appeasement: The Journals of A. L. Kennedy 1932–1939, (London, 2000), p.87. The Times, 15 March 1933, p.15. Observer, 19 March 1933, p.16 and 9 April 1933, p.16; Daily Telegraph, 1 April 1933, p.11; News Chronicle, 1 April 1933, p.3; Spectator, 15 April 1938, pp. 674–5; New Statesman, 17 June 1933, pp.786–7. Cited in Griffiths, Richard, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany 1933–9 (London, 1980), p.116. Daily Express, 24 March 1933, p.1. Daily Herald, 24 March 1933, p.1. Oliver, Anne and McNeillie, Andrew (eds), The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 4: 1931–1935 (London, 1982), p.235. Daily Express, 28 March 1933, p.1; New Statesman, 1 April 1933, p.401. For example, News Chronicle, 22 March 1933, p.8.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 0 0 – 1 0 4

218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228

229

230 231 232 233 234 235 236

237

News Chronicle, 1 April 1933, p.6; Daily Telegraph, 2 April 1933, p.10. News Chronicle, 1 April 1933, p.3. The Spectator, 7 April 1933, p.490. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy. open.ac.uk/view/article/33725. The Spectator, 7 April 1933, p.501. Ibid., 14 April 1933, p.537. Ibid., 19 May 1933, p.715. Ibid., 26 May 1933, p.764. Ibid., 14 April 1933, p.527–8. Parliamentary Papers (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.275, cols 1351–2, 10 March 1933. Ibid., vol. 276, cols 1184–5, 30 March 1933. Bentwich, Norman, ‘The League of Nations and Racial Persecution in Germany’, Transactions of The Grotius Society, vol.19: Problems of Peace and War, Papers Read Before the Society in the Year 1933 (London, 1934), p. 75. When Leonard and Virginia Woolf were planning to drive through Germany to Italy in the summer of 1935, they were warned that it may be inadvisable for Jews to do so. Leonard wrote, ‘It seemed to me absurd that any Englishman, whether Jew or Gentile, should hesitate to enter a European country. I remembered Palmerston’s famous speech: ‘Civis Romanus sum…’ and how he mobilised the British fleet and blockaded Greek ports on behalf of the British subject Don Pacifico, a Jew born in Gibraltar, in order to recover £150 damages done to this British subject’s house in Piraeus. Surely, I thought, the British Government in 1935 would insist that the Nazis and Hitler treat an English Jew as they would any other British subject.’ Woolf, Leonard, Downhill All The Way: An Autobiography of the Years 1919–1939 (London, 1967), pp.185–94. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.276, cols 1913–16, 30 March 1933. Parliamentary Debates (Lords), Fifth Series, vol.87, cols 192–5, 30 March 1933. The Times, 31 March 1933, p.7. Pederson, Susan, Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience (London, 2004), p.271. The Times, 15 April 1933, p.5. Board of Deputies of British Jews Papers (BoD), ACC3121/C11/6/4/1, Joint Foreign Committee Minutes (JFC), 6 April 1933. BoD ACC3121/C11/6/4/1, Report of BoD meeting, 15 May 1933. See also Laski’s interview with the Manchester Guardian headed ‘No Exaggeration’. Jewish activists were on the back foot from the start. BoD ACC3121/A/26. Wolf-Mowshowitch Papers, Kahn Conversation, 31 March 1933.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 0 4 – 1 1 0

238 239 240 241 242

243 244 245 246

247 248 249 250 251 252 253

254 255 256 257 258 259

BoD ACC3121/A/26, News Bulletin of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency dated 27 March 1933. Barnes, John and Nicholson, David (eds), The Empire at Bay: The Leo Amery Diaries 1929–1945 (London, 1988), p.292. BoD ACC3121/C11/6/4/1. Ibid. Hirschfeld, Gerhard, ‘”A High Tradition of Eagerness…”, British NonJewish Organisations in Support of Refugees’, in Werner, E. Mosse (ed.), Second Chance: Two Centuries of German-speaking Jews in the United Kingdom (Tübingen, 1991), p.602. Overy, The Morbid Age, p.279. BoD ACC3121/A/29, Minute Book 29, December 1936–April 1938, 2 March 1938, Minutes of Meeting 21 March 1938. The Times, 16 May 1933, p.16. According to Peter Fritzsche, ‘The near total absence of opposition to the Third Reich after the assault on the socialist Left in 1933 was not the result of an absence of opponents or even the result of terrorization. Rather, the opponents themselves accepted the evidence of national acclamation and saw no way to make inroads to organise political dissent’. Fritzsche, Peter, Life and Death in the Third Reich (London, 2008), p.74. Stone, Dan, Responses to Nazism in Britain, 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust (Basingstoke, 2003), p.77. Gilbert, Martin, Sir Horace Rumbold, p.381. Kershaw, Ian, Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain’s Road to War (London, 2005), p.41. FO 371/16724/7, Rumbold to Simon, 16 May 1933. FO 371/16724/163–72, Rumbold to Vansittart, 30 May 1933. FO371/16724/80, 22 May 1933. The Times, 18 May 1933, p.15. It is easy to dismiss The Times’ reporting in the 1930s because of its fawning attitude towards Hitler and comparatively diminished sales, but it retained its aura and was still particularly influential within the political classes. Koss, Stephen, The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain (London, 1984), p.412; Kershaw, Making Friends With Hitler, p.29. It has rightly been compared unfavourably with papers such as the Manchester Guardian, which gave substantially better exposure to Jewish persecution between 1933 and 1945. Kushner, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination, p.35. Manchester Guardian, 18 May 1933, p.8. King, The German Revolution, p.152. Listener, 24 May 1933, p.814. The Times, 2 June 1933, p.15. Ibid. New Statesman, 17 June 1933, pp.786–7.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 1 0 – 1 1 5

260 261 262

263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284

285 286 287

Bernays, Robert, ‘The Nazis and the Jews’, Contemporary Review, November 1933, pp.521–3. FO 371/16756, Cutting, News Chronicle, June 1933. Peter Mandler implies simplicity of living was part of English selfperception. Mandler, Peter, The English National Character: The History of an Idea from Edmund Burke to Tony Blair (London, 2006), pp.165– 6; See also Santayana, George, Soliloquies of England (London, 1937 (1922)); Baldwin, Stanley, On England (London, 1938 (1926)); Buchan, John, Memory Hold the Door (London, 1940), pp.168–9. BoD ACC3121/A/26, 18 June 1933. Wolf/Mowshowitch Papers RG348, MK. 502/Folder no 95, 29 June 1933. BoD ACC3121/C11/6/4/1, n.d. News Chronicle, 27 June 1933, Cutting, 30 June, 1933, Wolf/Mowshowitch Papers RG348, MK. 502/Folder no 158. BoD ACC3121/A/26, Minutes of meeting 14 May 1933. The Times, 28 June 1933, p.16. East London Observer, 1 July 1933, Cutting, 30 June, 1933, Wolf/ Mowshowitch Papers RG348, MK. 502/Folder no 158. Overy, The Morbid Age, p.279. Ibid., p. 280. New Statesman, 7 October 1933, pp.404–05. Kingsley Martin Papers, Box 11, Geoffrey Dawson to Kingsley Martin, 1 December 1933. New Statesman, 7 October 1933, pp.404–05. Kingsley Martin Papers, Box 14, 1933, McCarthy to Martin, October 20. The Times, 22 September 1933, p.14. Bartlett, Vernon, Nazi Germany Explained (London, 1933), pp.9–11. Ibid., pp. 116–22. Ibid., pp. 126–30. Ibid., pp. 124, 197. Ibid., pp. 287–8. The Bookman, January 1934, p.396. The Times, 17 November 1934, p.8. Sieburg, Friedrich, Germany My Country (London, 1933); Reynolds, Bernard Talbot, Prelude to Hitler: A Personal Record of Ten Post-war Years in Germany (London, 1933); Gibbs, Philip, The Cross of Peace (London, 1933). The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror and the Burning of the Reichstag (London, 1933), p.10. Noel-Buxton, Noel, ‘In Germany To-day’, Contemporary Review, October 1933, p. 400. Ibid., pp. 407–8.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 1 6 – 1 2 1

288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295

Kitching, Carolyn, Britain and the Geneva Disarmament Conference: A Study of International History (Basingstoke, 2003), p.196. Bartlett, Vernon, This Is My Life (London, 1937), p.188. Bartlett, Vernon, ‘German Leaves the League’, Listener, 18 October 1933, p. 570. Bartlett, This Is My Life, p.192. Manchester Guardian, 17 October 1933, p.12. Manchester Guardian, 19 October 1933, p.8. Bartlett felt the need to resign from the BBC because he gave his only copy of the talk to a German journalist who then used it for propaganda. Listener, 25 October 1933, p.605. Manchester Guardian, 16 October 1933, p.13.

Chapter 3 1 2 3

4 5 6 7

8 9 10 11

Cecil, Robert, The Great Experiment: An Autobiography (London, 1941), p. 104. Ibid., p. 68. McCallum, R.B., Public Opinion and the Last Peace (London, 1944), p.2. As described by Armstrong, Lloyd and Redmond, it was about ‘deterring aggressors by agreeing in advance to oppose them with a united front of all other states’. Armstrong, David, Lloyd, Lorna and Redmond, John, From Versailles to Maastricht: International Organisation in the Twentieth Century (Basingstoke, 1996), p.19. Kenneth Campbell states, ‘no international order can long exist without the most powerful state within that order defending and preserving it.’ Genocide and the Global Village (New York, 2001), p.12. Vyvyan Adams Papers (VAP), 12 June 1933. See Ceadel, Martin, Pacifism in Britain 1914–1945: The Defining of a Faith (Oxford, 1980), pp.1–8. Daniel Waley claims that Britons were split into supporters and opponents of the League. He categorises them as ‘cautious realists’ and ‘idealists’ respectively. However, this is not a fair reflection of the proLeague position. British Public Opinion and the Abyssinian War 1935–6 (London, 1975), p.13. Housden, Martyn, The League of Nations and the Organisation of Peace (Harlow, 2012), p.99. Rohmer, Sax, The Book of Fu-Manchu (London, 1929), pp.50–3. Cited in Bassett, R., Democracy and Foreign Policy: A Case History, The Sino–Japanese Dispute, 1931–33 (London, 1968), p.27. Jordan, Donald A., China’s Trial by Fire: The Shanghai War of 1932 (Ann Arbor, MI, 2001), p.1.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 2 2 – 1 2 6

12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

31 32 33 34 35 36

Bickers, Robert, Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai (London, 2003), p.217. Jordan, China’s Trial by Fire, p.8. The British ‘cheered on the Japanese’. Bickers, Empire Made Me, pp.217 and 221. Jordan, China’s Trial by Fire, pp.ix and 7–8. For British reactions to the German Zeppelin raids in World War One, see Fegan, Thomas, The ‘Baby Killers’: German Air Raids on Britain in the First World War (Barnsley, 2002). MacDonald claimed to have ‘not very much more than the knowledge which the ordinary newspaper reader possesses’. The Times, 30 January 1932, p. 12. The Times, 2 February 1932, p.13. Ibid., 30 January 1932, p.11. Ibid., p. 8. Ibid., 2 February 1932, p.8; 3 February 1932, p.8. The Observer, 31 January 1932, p.14. The Times, 18 February 1932, p.13. Manchester Guardian, 2 March 1932, p.16. The decision to send the Commission was made on 10 December 1931; Armstrong, Lloyd and Redmond, From Versailles to Maastricht, p.41. For example, Low, David, Years of Wrath: A Cartoon History, 19321945 (London, 1949), p.15. VAP, 12 June 1933. Lytton, Earl of, The League the Far East and Ourselves (London, 1934), ‘The Ludwig Mond Lecture in the University of Manchester, delivered on May 17, 1934’, pp.9–12. Cecil, The Great Experiment, p.257. Stanley Baldwin was honorary president and Austen Chamberlain sat on the executive council. Neville Chamberlain called the ballot ‘terribly mischievous’. Feiling, Keith, The Life of Neville Chamberlain (London, 1947), p. 262. The Cecil of Chelwood Papers, MS 51108, Noel-Baker to Cecil, 15 May 1935. Eden, Anthony, The Eden Memoirs: Facing the Dictators (London, 1962) p. 216; Mowat, Charles Loch, Britain Between the Wars 1918–1940 (London, 1978), p.479. Cited in Robbins, Keith, ‘Labour Foreign Policy and the League of Nations’, in Robbins, Keith, Politicians, Diplomacy and War in Modern British History (London, 1994), p.268. Marquand, David, Ramsay MacDonald (London, 1977), p.757. Jones, Thomas, A Diary with Letters 1931–1950 (London, 1954), p.30. Ibid., p. xxxiii.

0

N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 2 6 – 1 3 0

37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62

The Cecil of Chelwood Papers MS 51132, Cecil to Sir Geoffrey Fry, 27 November 1934; Toynbee, Arnold J., Survey of International Affairs 1935, vol. 2: Abyssinia and Italy (London, 1936), p.50. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, pp.52–3. Middlemas, Keith, and Barnes, John, Baldwin: A Biography (London, 1969), p. 836. This battle has remained hidden beneath the 1930s rhetoric concerning the ‘Peace Ballot’ and pacifism in general. Keith Feiling, Chamberlain’s biographer, observed that ‘Britain’s foreign policy had come to depend upon public opinion.’ Feiling, Keith, The Life of Neville Chamberlain (London, 1947), p.248. Cooper, Duff, Old Men Forget: The Autobiography of Duff Cooper (London, 1954), p.191. Cecil, The Great Experiment, p.264. Cabinet Papers (CAB) 16/121, Simon to Murray, 25 September 1934. CAB 16/121, Simon to Clerk, 25 September 1934. The Times, 17 December 1934, p.11. Ibid., 12 January 1935, p.13; 12 February 1935, p.12. Thompson, Geoffrey, Front-line Diplomat (London, 1959), p.97. CAB 16/121/394, FO to Barton, 5 October 1934. Fry, Geoffrey K., ‘Three Giants of the Inter-war British Higher Civil Service: Sir Maurice Hankey, Sir Warren Fisher and Sir Horace Wilson’, in Kevin Theakston (ed.), Bureaucrats and Leadership (Basingstoke, 2000), p. 45; Roi, Michael. L., Alternative to Appeasement: Sir Robert Vansittart and Alliance Diplomacy, 1934–1937 (London, 1997), p.2. Fisher was instrumental in the appointment of Sir Robert Vansittart as Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office. London School of Economics Archive, Coll Misc 0461/2 Fisher to ‘S.B and N.C’, 5, July 1935. Feiling, The Life of Neville Chamberlain, p.265. VAP, Chamberlain to Adams, 3 September 1935. Middlemas and Barnes, Baldwin, p.862. Crowson, N.J. (ed.), Fleet Street, Press Barons and Politics: The Journals of Collin Brooks 1932–1940 (London, 1998), p.129. The Times, 11 July 1935, p.10. Cited in Waley, British Public, p.33. The Times, 28 August 1935, p.10; 29 August 1935, p.12. Ibid., 23 July 1935, p.10. Ibid., 27 July 1935, p.8. The Times, 29 July 1935, p.10. Manchester Guardian, 16 October 1934, p.20. See Lukowitz, David C., ‘British Pacifists and Appeasement, The Peace Pledge Union’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol.9, no 1 (January1974), p.120.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 3 0 – 1 3 5

63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76

77 78 79 80 81 82 83

84

Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.59. The Listener, 4 September 1935, p.412; Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs, 1935, p.61. The Times, 25 September 1935, p.8. Ibid., 12 August 1935, p.11. Ibid., 21 August 1935, p.6. Ibid., 13 August 1935, p.8. FO 371/19126/201, Record of conversation between Samuel Hoare, Eden and Lloyd George, 21 August 1935. CAB 16/121/71, Hoare to FO, ‘Record of Anglo–French Conversation… on Tuesday, September 10, 1935’. Nicolson, Nigel (ed.), The Harold Nicolson Diaries 1907–1964 (London, 2004), p. 129. FO 371/19126/201; FO 371/19126/117; FO 371/19126/196, 22 August 1935; FO 371/19126/194, 22 August 1935; CAB 16/121/142, 27 August 1935. FO 371/19130/67, Cecil to Hoare, 22 August 1935. FO 371/19130/63–6, R.J. Campbell memorandum, 25 August 1935, ‘Lord Cecil’s letter of August 22nd to the Secretary of State’. FO 371/19130/63–6 FO, R.J. Campbell Memorandum, 25 August 1935, ‘Lord Cecil’s letter of August 22nd to the Secretary of State’. Author’s italics. Article 10 stated: ‘The Members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League. In case of any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled’, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/leagcov.asp#art10. FO 371/19130/63–6, R.J. Campbell Memorandum, 25 August 1935, ‘Lord Cecil’s letter of August 22nd…’ FO 371/19120/6, Hoare to Clerk, 24 August 1935. Thompson, Front-line Diplomat, p.95. Martel, Gordon (ed.), The Times and Appeasement: The Journals of A.L. Kennedy, 1932–1939 (London, 2000), p.184. Vansittart, Lord, The Mist Procession: The Autobiography of Lord Vansittart (London, 1958), p.533; Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.261; Middlemas and Barnes, Baldwin, p.855. Middlemas and Barnes, Baldwin, p.855. CAB 16/121/68 10 September 1935, ‘Record of Anglo–French Conversation on Tuesday, September 10, 1935’; CAB 16/121/71 11 September 1935, Hoare to FO, ‘Record of Anglo–French Conversation on Tuesday, September 10, 1935’. FO371/19133/76, Text of Hoare’s speech to the Assembly of the League of Nations delivered on 11 September 1935.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 3 5 – 1 3 8

85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99

100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107

The Listener, 18 September 1935, p.459. The Times, 12 September 1935, p.12; Daily Telegraph, 12 September 1935, p. 6. Manchester Guardian, 12 September 1935, p.8. The Times, 12 September 1935, p.12; Manchester Guardian, 12 September 1935, p. 8; News Chronicle, 12 September 1936, p.8. Cited in The Times, 13 September 1935, p.18. Leventhal, F.M., ‘Leonard Woolf and Kingsley Martin: Creative Tension on the Left’, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, 24/2 (1992), p.289. Butler, J.R.M., Lord Lothian (Philip Kerr) 1882–1940 (London, 1960), p. 210. Lord Londonderry, that other great appeaser, had nothing to say on the crisis. See Kershaw, Ian, Making Friends with Hitler, p.124. The Fortnightly, October 1935. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.61. The Times, 13 September 1935; Churchill, Winston S., The Second World War, vol. 1: The Gathering Storm (London, 1948), p.135. Hoare, Samuel, Nine Troubled Years (London, 1954), p.169. Feiling, The Life of Neville Chamberlain, p.266. Diary entry, 2 August 1935; Stannage, Tom, Baldwin Thwarts the Opposition: The British General Election of 1935 (London, 1980), pp.153–4 and 172–3. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.317. Hiett, Helen, Public Opinion and the Italo–Ethiopian Dispute: The Activity of Private Organizations in the Crisis, Geneva Special Studies, vol.7 no 1 (Geneva, 1936). On correspondence to newspapers, The Times, 2 October 1935, p.10; on condemnation by Church leaders, The War in Abyssinia: A Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury (London, 1935); on the LNU’s response, The League Nations Year Book 1936 (London, 1936). Manchester Guardian, 1 November 1935, p.14. The Cecil of Chelwood Papers MS 51108, Cecil to Noel-Baker, 1 November 1935. The Listener, 16 October 1935, p.642; Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.201. The Times, 4 October 1935, p.15. Parliamentary Papers (Commons), Fifth Series, vol. 305, cols 31–2, 22 October 1935. The Cecil of Chelwood Papers MS 51108, Noel Baker to Cecil, 2 November 1935. Ibid. MS 51132, Cecil to Murray, 6 November 1935. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.279. This included the issue of whether to ban oil exports to Italy. Hitler’s interpreter, Dr Schmidt, later revealed that Mussolini stated to Hitler that if the League



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 3 8 – 1 4 2

108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130

131 132 133 134 135

‘had extended economic sanctions to oil, I would have had to withdraw from Abyssinia within a week.’ Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.297. Robertson, James C. ‘The Hoare-Laval Plan’, Journal of Contemporary History, 10/3 (1975), p.439. The Listener, 14 August 1935, p.264. The Times, 16 December 1935, p.15. Duff Cooper, Old Men Forget, p.192. Nicolson, Nigel (ed.), Harold Nicolson Diaries and Letters 1930–39 (London, 1971), p.224; Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.306. Pimlott, Ben (ed.), The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton 1918–40, 1945–60 (London, 1986), p.197. Colvin, Ian, Vansittart in Office (London, 1965), p.81. Waley, British Public Opinion and the Abyssinian War 1935–6, p.69. For example, VAP, 1/4/3, 17 December 1935, Manchester Guardian, 18 December 1935, p.5. VAP, 1/4/3, 13 December 1935. Ibid. Manchester Guardian, 14 December 1935, p.8. VAP, 1/4/3, 13, letter to Geoffrey Ellis MP, 12 December 1935. Stannage, Baldwin Thwarts the Opposition, p.155. Parliamentary Debates (Lords), Fifth Series, vol.99, col.286, 19 December 1935. FO 371/19126/192, Memorandum from the Military Attaché in Rome, 20 August 1935. Daily Herald, 17 December 1936, p.1. The Spectator, 3 January 1936, p.1; New Statesman, 4 January 1936, p.2. Ibid. 10 January 1936, p.58. The Times, 25 March 1936, p.15. Ibid., 30 March 1936, p.13. Parliamentary Debates (Lords), Fifth Series, vol.100, cols 340–59, 30 March 1935. Manchester Guardian, 7 April 1936, p.24. Other signatories included a large number of women’s associations as well as individuals such as, M. Bondfield, E. Marion Bryce, Thelma Cazalet, Eleanor Cecil, M.I.C. Ashby, Blanche Dugdale, Gertrude Emmott, Philippa Fawcett, H. Franklin, Ida Hall, Megan Lloyd George, Edith Lyttleton, Mary Murray, E. Rathbone, Hilda Runciman, Alice Yalisbury and Irene Ward. New Statesman, 4 April 1936, p.514. The Times, 31 March 1935, p.17. News Chronicle, 9 April 1936, p.9. Rathbone, Eleanor (ed.) The Tragedy of Abyssinia: What Britain Feels and Thinks and Wants (London, 1936), p.36. New Statesman, 4 April 1936, p.517.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 4 2 – 1 4 7

136 137 138 139 140

141 142 143

144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162

News Chronicle, 9 April 1936, p.9. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, pp.351–2. Manchester Guardian, 8 April 1936, p.8. The Times, 20 April 1936, p.8. Lord Queensborough, Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee of the LNU, resigned on 28 April, Toynbee, Survey, p.456. On 6 May, Austen Chamberlain ‘won almost universal cheers from the Government’s supporters in declaring the futility and the danger of continuing sanctions.’ The Times, 7 May 1936, p.16. On 11 June, the Duchess of Atholl resigned from the LNU. Daily Mail, 12 June 1936, p. 14. The Spectator, 1 May 1936, p.779. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.456. The Spectator, 1 May 1936, p.779. ‘[A] post which was not only eminent in itself but was also concerned – more intimately than any other Cabinet office except the Foreign Secretaryship itself – with the shaping of Anglo– Italian relations.’ Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.466. Brooks, Fleet Street, Press Barons and Politics, p.164. Diary entry 5 June 1936. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1935, p.457. The Times, 8 June 1936, p.15; Telegraph, 11 June 1936, p.14. The Times, 11 June 1936, p.10. Letters of protest did not die. See Vyvyan Adams Papers and Rathbone, Eleanor (ed.), The Tragedy of Abyssinia. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.313, 23, cols 1728– 9, June 1936. Middlemas and Barnes, Baldwin, p.897. Ibid., p. 899. Johnson, Gaynor (ed.), Our Man in Berlin: The Diary of Eric Phipps, 1933–1937 (Basingstoke, 2008), p.200. Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.374. See Saul Friedlander, The Years of Persecution, p.142. Manchester Guardian, 5 October 1935, p.13. The Times, 1 March 1935, p.13. Ibid., 13 September 1935, p.13; New Statesman, 21 September 1935, p. 362. For example, The Times, 30 December 1935, p.13. The Yellow Spot (London, 1936). Henson, H.H. (intro.), The Yellow Spot, pp.5 and 8. Contrary to Henson, Vera Brittain believed that ordinary Germans were forcibly subdued. Bishop (ed.), Chronicle of Friendship, p.274. Times Literary Supplement, 11 April 1936, p.307. Observer, 8 March 1936, p.19.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 4 7 – 1 4 9

163

164 165 166 167

168 169 170 171 172 173 174

175 176 177 178 179 180

181

Evans, Richard J., The Third Reich in Power: How the Nazis won over the Hearts and Minds of a Nation (London, 2006), p.635. For Virginia Woolf, the news made her ‘too languid’, so much so that she was driven to consider ‘having an afternoon off.’ Bell, Anne Olivier (ed.), The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol.4: 1931–1935 (London, 1982), p.16. Nicolson (ed.), Nicolson Diaries and Letters 1930–39, p.247. Nicolson, Harold, Germany and the Rhineland: A record of addresses delivered at meeting held at Chatham House on March 18th, March 25th and April 2nd, 1936. Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.346. Neville, Peter, ‘A Prophet Scorned? Ralph Wigram, the Foreign Office and the German Threat, 1933–36’, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 40, no 1 (January 2005), p.47; See also Nicolson, Germany and the Rhineland Little, Douglas, ‘Red Scare, 1936, Anti-Bolshevism and the Origins of British Non-Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, Journal of Contemporary History 23/2 (1988), pp.291–311. Grant Duff, Sheila, The Parting of the Ways: A Personal Account of the Thirties (London, 1982), p.148. Preston, Paul, The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge (London, 2006), p.120. Ibid., p. 232. Graham, Helen, ‘Spain and Europe: The View from the Periphery’, The Historical Journal 35/4 (1992), pp.971–2. Preston, The Spanish Civil War, p.140. Moradiellos, Enrique, ‘British Political Strategy in the Face of the Military Rising of 1936 in Spain’, Contemporary European History 1/2 (1992), p. 125; Nicolson (ed.), The Harold Nicolson Diaries, (2004), p.144; Eden, The Eden Memoirs, pp.399–400. Moradiellos, Enrique, ‘The Origins of British Non-Intervention in the Spanish Civil War: Anglo–Spanish Relations in Early 1936’, European History Quarterly 21/3 (1991), p.358. The Spectator, 7 August 1936, p.225. Mowat, Britain Between the Wars, pp.576–7. Preston, Paul, We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War (London, 2008), p.8. New Statesman, 1 August 1936, pp.145 and 187. The Times, 5 August 1936, p.12; Contemporary Review, September 1936, p. 277; Moradiellos, Enrique, ‘The Gentle General: The Official British Perception of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War’, Preston, Paul and Mackenzie, Ann L. (eds), The Republic Besieged: Civil War in Spain 1936–1939 (Edinburgh, 1996). The Times, 6 August 1936, p.10.



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182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216

Ibid., 1 August 1936, p.12. See also Crowson (ed.), Fleet Street, Press Barons and Politics, p.172. Buchanan, Tom, The Spanish Civil War and the British Labour Movement (Cambridge, 1991), p.48. Buchanan, The Spanish Civil War, p.18. News Chronicle, 17 August 1936, p.1. The Times, 19 August 1936, p.6. Butterfield, Herbert, The Whig Interpretation of English History (London, 1951). Political Quarterly, August 1936, p.587. Aldgate, Anthony, Cinema and History: British Newsreels and the Spanish Civil War (London, 1979), p.128. Atholl, Duchess of, Searchlight on Spain (London, 1938), p.131. Ibid. Aldgate, Cinema and History, p.143. Buchanan, Tom, The Spanish Civil War, pp.27–8. Buchanan, Tom, Britain and the Spanish Civil War (Cambridge, 1997), p. 97. New Statesman, 14 November 1936, p.757. Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.415. Edwards, Jill, The British Government and the Spanish Civil War (London and Basingstoke, 1979), p.199. The Spectator, 19 February 1937, p.297. The Times, 16 February 1937, p.18. New Statesman, 17 April 1937, p.621. Daily Express, 26 April 1937, p.11. The Times, 28 April 1937, p.17. Ibid. Cited in Preston, We Saw Spain Die, p.263. Daily Mail, 28 April 1937, p.13. Daily Express, 28 April 1937, p.1. News Chronicle, 28 April 1937, p.10. Ibid. Daily Mail, 28 April 1937, p.5. Daily Mail, 29 April 1937, p.9. New Statesman, 8 May 1937, p.763. News Chronicle, 29 April 1937 p.1. The Times, 3 May 1937 p.16. Southworth, Herbert Rutledge, Guernica! Guernica! A Study of Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda and History (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1977), p.185. The Times, 30 April 1937, p.12. The Spectator, 30 April 1937, p.785.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 5 5 – 1 6 0

217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245

New Statesman, 1 May 1937, p.701. The Times, 29 April 1937, p.8. The Spectator 30 April 1937 p.785. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.323, cols 1332–7, 6 May 1937. According to Chamberlain, criticism was ‘savage’; Edwards, The British Government and the Spanish Civil War, p.196. Coote, Colin R., Editorial, The Memoirs of Colin R. Coote (London, 1965), p. 167. The Times, 17 May 1937, p.9. Kushner, Tony and Knox, Katherine, Refugees in an Age of Genocide: Global, National and Local Perspectives during the Twentieth Century (London, 1999), p.106. Ibid., p. 121. Aldgate, Cinema and History, p.128; Buchanan, The Spanish Civil War, p. 164. The Spectator, 28 May 1937, pp.984–5. Mass Observation Archive (MOA), Worktown Box 8, W8/G, Spanish Aid. Buchanan, The Spanish Civil War, pp.165–6. See also Fyrth, Jim, The Signal Was Spain: The Aid Spain Movement in Britain 1936–39 (London, 1986). Buchanan, The Spanish Civil War, pp.165–6. Kushner and Knox, Refugees in an Age of Genocide, p.107. Bell, Adrian, Only For Three Months (Norwich, 2007), p.30. Agbi, S. Olu, ‘The Foreign Office and Yoshida’s Bid for Rapprochement with Britain in 1936–1937: A Critical Reconsideration of the Anglo– Japanese Conversation’, The Historical Journal 21/1 (1978), p.174. Lee, Bradford A., Britain and the Sino–Japanese War, 1937–1939: A Study in Dilemmas of British Decline (Stanford, CA, 1973), p.212. FO 676/933/10, FO to H.M. Ambassador in China, 24 April 1938. See for example, Low, David, Europe Since Versailles (Harmondsworth, 1940), p. 99. Agbi, S. Olu, ‘The Foreign Office and Yoshida’s Bid’, p.173. Manchester Guardian 13 July 1937, p.6. The Times, 3 May 1937, p.15. New Statesman, 22 May 1937, p.840. Manchester Guardian, 13 August, 1937, p.9. The Times, 25 August 1937, p.14. Clegg, Arthur, From Middlesbrough to Manchuria: The Story of the Haruna Maru (Teesside, n.d.). Liddell Hart Papers (LHP) 15/3/351–2, Cutting, Express, 17 August 1937. Ibid., Cutting, The Times, 27 August 1937. New Statesman, 28 August 1937, p.299.



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246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256

257 258 259 260 261 262

263 264 265 266

267 268

LHP 15/3/351–2, Cuttings, The Times, 20 and 21 September 1937. Ibid., Cutting, Daily Telegraph, 24 September 1937. The Spectator, 24 September 1937, p.498. LHP 15/3/351–2, Cutting, Morning Post, 25 September 1937. The Daily Telegraph referred to ‘the rules of the Hague Convention of Jurists appointed under the Washington Conference of 1922’. Ibid., Cutting, Daily Telegraph, 24 September 1937. Ibid., Cutting, The Times, 28 September 1937. Ibid. Quoted in the New Statesman, 2 October 1937, p.473. LHP 15/3/351–2, Cutting, The Times, 27 September 1937. Lee, Britain and the Sino–Japanese War, p.52. Harvey, John (ed.), The Diplomatic Diaries of Oliver Harvey 1937–1940 (London, 1970), p.48. In response to letters from Sir Francis Acland, the Bishop of Bristol and J.M. Keynes, The Times wrote, ‘[i]t is understood that Ministers are much impressed by the rising feeling in this country against the methods which are being adopted by Japan’. The Times, 30 September 1937, p.13; Eden, The Eden Memoirs, p.524. Clegg, From Middlesbrough to Manchuria. The Independent, 16 February 1994. New Statesman, 2 October 1937, p.484. Edwards, Ruth Dudley, Victor Gollancz: A Biography (London, 1987), pp. 272–3. New Statesman, 2 October 1937, p.473. ‘It seems’, he said, ‘to be unfortunately true that the epidemic of world lawlessness is spreading. And mark this well, When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in q quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease.’ http://www.vlib.us/amdocs/ texts/fdrquarn.html. What Roosevelt actually meant by his ‘Quarantine Speech’ remains a moot point. LH15/3/351–2, Cutting, The Times, 5 October 1937. The Spectator, 1 October 1937, p.533. LH15/3/351–2, News Chronicle, 9 October 1937, p.6. Those attending included Lord Allen of Hurtwood, Sir Francis Acland, Canon F. Lewis Donaldson, Archdeacon of Westminster, Cecil, Lord Rennel, Lady Gladstone, Viscount Samuel, Dame Adelaide Livingston, the Rev. H.R.L. Sheppard, Sir Arthur Salter, Richard Acland and a host of others. Those sending messages of support included Winston Churchill, Sir Archibald Sinclair, Professor Gilbert Murray, Ben Tillet and Lloyd George. The Spectator, 8 October 1937, p.569. The Times, 11 October 1937, p.16.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 6 4 – 1 6 7

269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294

Ibid., 26 October 1937, p.17. Ibid., 28 October 1937, p.17. It was an image that would have been familiar because of its similarity to Stube’s domesticated ‘little man’. Mandler, Peter, The English National Character, p. 178. The Spectator, 29 April 1938, p.741. Utley, Freda, Japan’s Gamble in China (London, 1938), p.99. Hollington, K. Tong, Chiang Kai–shek: Soldier and Statesman (London, 1938), pp. xi, 583–95. Utley, Japan’s Gamble in China, p.viii. New Statesman, 13 November 1937, p.787. Ibid., 8 January 1938, p.42. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.327, cols 90, 140, 155, 21 October 1937. CAB 23/89, Cabinet Conclusions, 6 October, 1937, cited in Lee, Britain and the Sino–Japanese War, p.53. Lee, Britain and the Sino–Japanese War, p.62. Signatories to the NinePower Treaty were the United States, Japan, Great Britain, China, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal. Ibid. Ibid. Agbi, S. Olu, ‘The Pacific War Controversy in Britain: Sir Robert Craigie versus The Foreign Office’, Modern Asian Studies, vol.17, no 3 (1983), p.500. Rees, Laurence, Horror in the East (London, 2001), p.35. Ibid., p. 37. Ibid., p. 33. See also Chang, Iris, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (London, 1998), p.4. Timperley, H.J., What War Means: The Japanese Terror in China A Documentary Record (London, 1938), p.20. LH15/3/351–2, Cutting, The Times, 20 December 1937; LH15/3/354 Daily Telegraph, 28 January 1938. Iwane Matsui was hanged for his part in the Nanking massacre in 1948, having been found guilty by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Dilks, David (ed.), The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan 1938–1945 (London, 1971), p.40. FO 371/22146/195 (Shanghai), Note by A. Scott, 18 January 1938; FO 371/22146/224–5, 19 April 1938. FO 371/22146/219–21, 14 March 1938. FO 371/22146/185, 7 February 1938; Parliamentary Debates, Commons, Fifth Series, vol.331, col.645, 7 February 1938. News Chronicle, 31 January 1938; Daily Telegraph, 31 January 1938, p.11; New Statesman, 5 February 1938, p.193; Aldgate, Cinema and History, p.172.

0

N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 6 7 – 1 7 2

295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304

305 306

Cited in Watkins, K. W., Britain Divided: The Effect of the Spanish Civil War on British Political Opinion (London, 1963), p.121. In mid-February all stories were eclipsed by Eden’s resignation. FO 371/22147/2, 27 May 1938; Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol. 336, col. 371, 18 May 1938. FO 371/22147/2, 27 May 1938. FO 676/933/16, 21 May 1938. FO 676/393/7, Archbishop of Canterbury to Halifax, 31 May 1938. FO 676/393/14, Memorandum from P.N. Loxley, 2 June 1938. FO 676/393/27, Telegram from A. Blunt in Canton, n.d. The Spectator, 10 June 1938, p.1041. Events were advertised in The Spectator and New Statesman on 10 and 11 June 1937. Clegg, Arthur, Aid China, 1937–1949: A Memoir of a Forgotten Campaign (Beijing, 2003), p.66; FO 676/393/114, 15 June 1937. The Foreign Office was alerted about ‘processions in London, under clerical leadership’, but dismissed the CCC as ‘a body of Leftist but not extreme complexion’. Clegg, Aid China, p. 66. Norwich, John Julius (ed.), The Duff Cooper Diaries 1915–1951 (London, 2005), p. 251.

Chapter 4 1 2

3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Clark, R.T., The Fall of the German Republic: A Political Study (London, 1934), p. 488. Wickham Steed, Henry, The Meaning of Hitlerism (London, 1934); Wickham Steed, Henry, Hitler Whence and Whither? (London, 1934); Woodman, Dorothy, Hitler Rearms: An Exposure of Germany’s War Plans (London, 1934). Dell, Robert, Germany Unmasked (London, 1934). Times Literary Supplement (TLS), 12 July 1934, p.482. Ibid. Fry, Michael, Hitler’s Wonderland (London, 1934); Wolf, John, Some Impressions of Nazi Germany (London, 1934); Fletcher, A.W., Education in Germany (Cambridge, 1934). Grant Duff, Sheila, The Parting of Ways (London, 1982), p.50. Philip Gibbs’s The Cross of Peace (London, 1933) is a good example of how this theme crossed over into fiction. TLS, 30 November 1933. p.854. Greenwood, Harry Powys, The German Revolution (London, 1934), pp. ix–xiii. Green, Margaret M., Eyes Right! A Left-Wing Glance and the New Germany (London, 1935), p.76.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 7 3 – 1 7 7

10

11 12 13 14 15 16 17

18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Hastings, Robert The Changing Face of Germany (London, 1934); Bernays, Robert, Special Correspondent (London, 1934); Reynolds, B.T. (Major, R.A., rtd), Prelude to Hitler: A Personal Record of Ten Post-war Years in Germany (London, October 1933); Green, Eyes Right!; Willert, Arthur, The Frontiers of England (London, 1935). TLS, 4 June 1938, p.382; Waln, Nora. Reaching for the Stars (Boston, 1939), pp. 369–79. TLS, 28 November 1936, p.999. German Life and Letters, I/1, October 1936, pp.1–2. Ibid, pp. 3–16. Ibid., II/1, October 1937, pp.71–5. Ibid., I/1, October 1936, pp.53 and 60. Willoughby defended British scholars for choosing to boycott the centenaries of Heidelberg and Gottingen universities, but was active in fostering lower level collaboration and was in the process of organising an ‘international congress of “Germanisten’’’ (Germanists) when war broke out. Daily Mail, 15 March 1938, p.1. Evans, Richard J., The Third Reich in Power, p.657; Burleigh, Michael, The Third Reich: A New History (London, 2001), p. 319; Graml, Hermann, Antisemitism in the Third Reich (Oxford, 1992), p.135. Martel, Gordon (ed.), The Times and Appeasement: The Journals of A.L. Kennedy, 1932–1939 (London, 2000), pp.266–8. Gannon, Franklin Reid, The British Press and Germany 1936–1939 (Oxford, 1971), p.158. Manchester Guardian, 15 March 1938, p.10; 13 April 1938, p.8. News Chronicle, 21 March 1938, p.19. Daily Express, 13 March 1938, p.12. It was an extract from The House That Hitler Built (1937), written after months in Germany. The book impressed Beatrice Webb and was criticised by supporters of the Nazi regime. See Bonnell, Andrew G., ‘Stephen H. Roberts’, The House That Hitler Built as a Source on Nazi Germany’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 46/1 (2000), pp.1– 20. Daily Express, 13 March 1938, p.13. The Times, 21 March 1938, p.13. Ibid, 18 March 1938, p.15. Ibid, 17 March 1938, p.7; News Chronicle, 21 March 1938, p.19. The Spectator, 22 April 1938, p.675. Ibid, 1 April 1938, p.577. Ibid, p. 582. Ibid, 22 April 1938, p.709. Although the same article somewhat contradicted itself by suggesting that Germans were forced to comply with state policy by the ‘system of



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 7 7 – 1 8 1

34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51

52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59

local police spying, local denunciation and party pressure’. Ibid, 1 April 1938, p. 582. Ibid, 8 April 1938, p.631; 15 April 1938, pp.674–5; 15 April 1938, p.675; 22 April 1938, p.709; 22 April 1938, p.711. Ibid, 10 June 1938, p.1051. New Statesman and Nation, 26 March 1938, p.514. Ibid, p. 506. Ibid, pp. 516–17. The Times, 15 March 1938, p.8. Mass Observation Archive (MOA), March Bulletin 1938, ‘“Crisis” reports, March 1938’. Board of Deputies Archive (BoD) Archive ACC3121/A/26, Jewish Chronicle, 13 April 1938. FO 372/3282/11, 15 March 1938. FO 372/3282/19, ‘Extract from Cabinet Conclusions 14 (38), 16 March 1938.’ London, Louise, Whitehall and the Jews, 1933–1948: British Immigration Policy, Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust (Cambridge, 2000), p. 58. The Times, 17 March 1938, p.7. MOA, March Bulletin 1938, “Crisis” reports, 29 April 1938. Ibid. The Times, 6 May 1938, p.12. The others were Lord Lytton, William Ebor, George Cicestr, Violet Bonham Carter, Dorothy Gladstone and Evelyn Jones. The Times, 19 July 1938, p. 10. Friedlander, Saul, The Years of Persecution. The Times, 27 July 1938, p.15. According to Louise London, Evian was a ‘success’ as far as the government was concerned, as their aim was that no ‘external force’ should affect its policy on refugees. London, Whitehall and the Jews, p.91. Nicolson, Harold ,‘The Past Week’ broadcast on 22 August 1938, Listener, 25 August 1938, p.388. Rhodes, James Robert (ed.), ‘Chips’: The Diaries of Sir Henry Channon (Harmondsworth, 1984), p.213. New Statesman, 27 August 1938, pp.301–2. Martin, Kingsley, Editor: A Second Volume of Autobiography 1931–45 (Harmondsworth, 1968), pp.268–73. The Times, 1 October 1938, p.12. Self, Robert (ed.), The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters, vol. 4: The Downing Street Years (Aldershot, 2005), p.355. Manchester Guardian, 1 October 1938, p.12. Manchester Guardian, 29 August 1938, p.9.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 8 2 – 1 8 5

60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80

81

82 83

84 85

Ibid., 30 September 1938 p. 10; Self, Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters, p. 362. The Listener, 6 October 1938, p.695. Chandler, Andrew, ‘Munich and Morality: The Bishops of the Church of England and Appeasement’, Twentieth Century British History, 5/1 (1994), p. 83. Hucker, Daniel, Public Opinion and the End of Appeasement in Britain and France (Farnham, 2011), p.2. MOA, Day Surveys 1937–8, Diarist 38. Ibid., Diarist 35. Ibid., Diarist 22. Ibid., Diarist 13. Ibid., Diarist 32. Charlton’s entry found in file of Alice Coats. Ibid. Ibid., Diarist 35; Mowrer, Lilian T., Journalist’s Wife (London, 1938), p.163. MOA, Day Surveys 1937–8, Diarist 13. Ibid., Diarist 38. Ibid., Diarist 32. Ibid., Diarist 32. Ibid., Diarist 62. Ibid., Diarist 13. Ibid., Diarist 32; Diarist 38. Ibid., Diarist 47. Mowat, Charles Loch, Britain Between the Wars 1918–1940 (London, 1978), p. 619. Kulka, Otto Dov and Jäckel, Eberhard (eds), (translated from the German by William Templer), The Jews in the Secret Nazi Reports on Popular Opinion in Germany, 1933–1945 (New Haven and London, 2010), p. lv. Ibid., p. lviii. Even Ian Kershaw’s more sympathetic reading of mainstream German reactions to anti-Jewish violence as ‘lethal indifference’ is condemnatory compared to contemporary British responses. Kershaw, Ian, ‘Reactions to the Persecution of the Jews’ in Kershaw, Ian, Hitler, The Germans, and the Final Solution (London, 2008), p.183. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, pp.589–90. The orders were ostensibly a ‘response’ to the murder of Ernst vom Rath, a Legation Secretary at the German Embassy in Paris. Herschel Grynszpan, whose parents along with thousands of other Jews had been deported to Poland under atrocious conditions, had carried out the shooting. Burleigh, The Third Reich, p.324. Daily Mail, 14 November 1938, p.12. Ibid, 17 November 1938, p.12. A few days later, the paper was extolling the benefits of Nazi rule to Vienna, ‘a brighter more prosperous, happier



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 8 5 – 1 9 0

86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106

107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114

city than in those gloomy days before the Anschluss.’ Ibid., 21 November 1938, p. 12. Daily Express, 14 November 1938, p.1. Ibid., 17 November 1938, p.10. Ibid., 21 November 1938, p.12. News Chronicle, 11 November 1938, p.10. Daily Herald, 11 November 1938, p.12. News Chronicle, 12 November 1938, p.8. The Times, 11 November 1938, p.14. Ibid., 12 November 1938, p.13. Daily Telegraph, 11 November 1938, p.16. The Spectator, 18 November 1938, p.836. New Statesman, 19 November 1938, pp.816–17. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, p.589. FO 371/22536/253. Cohen, Susan, Rescue the Perishing: Eleanor Rathbone and the Refugees (London, 2010), p.10. Kushner, Tony and Knox, Katherine, Refugees in an Age of Genocide: Global, National and Local Perspectives during the Twentieth Century (London, 1999), p.168. The Times, 2 December 1938, p.16. Ibid. In reality, the extensive brutality had been carried out ‘without encountering any meaningful opposition’. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, p. 589. The Times, 17 November 1938, p.10. Letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Hinsley, the Archbishop of Westminster, James Black, Moderator of the Church of Scotland and Robert Bond. Daily Herald, 15 November 1938, p.2; The Times, 17 November 1938, p.9. The Times, 17 November 1938, p.9. Signatories included Katherine Atholl, Violet Bonham Carter, Lord Robert Cecil, Stafford Cripps, H.A.L. Fisher, Julian Huxley, George Lansbury, Lord Lytton, Gilbert Murray, Philip Noel-Baker, Archibald Sinclair and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Ibid., 22 November 1938, p.10. Ibid., 9 December 1938, p.16. Ibid., 25 November 1938, p.10. Ibid., 12 December 1938, p.15. Ibid., 14 December 1938, p.17. Ibid., 19 December 1938, p.13. Ibid., 5 January 1939, p.13. Ibid., 16 January 1939, p.9. McCooey, Chris (ed.), Despatches from the Home Front: The War Diaries of Joan Strange, (Eastbourne, 1989), Diary entry 14 January 1939, pp.2 and 11.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 9 0 – 1 9 5

115

116 117 118

119 120 121 122 123 124 125

126 127

128 129 130 131

Although the British Union of Fascists peaked in influence in the early 1930s, allegiance to at least some of their central tenets ‘stretched much further than outright supporters’. Kershaw, Making Friends With Hitler, p. 52; See also Griffiths, Richard, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany 1933–9 (London, 1980); Stone, Dan, Responses to Nazism in Britain, 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust (Basingstoke, 2003). British Medical Journal, 21 January 1939. London, Whitehall and the Jews, 1933–1948, p.109. Yehuda Bauer contends it ‘was estimated that 90% of the contributors’ were Jewish. Bauer, Yehuda, My Brother’s Keeper: A History of the American Joint Jewish Committee 1929–1939 (Philadelphia, PA, 1974), p. 271; Harry Defries argues that ‘donations came largely from nonJewish sources’. Defries, Harry, Conservative Party Attitudes to Jews 1900–1950 (London, 2001), p.140. FO 371/22540/83. It is possible that this was Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, previously head of the Stormtroopers and now working for Hess. FO 371/21638/161, F.W. Leith-Ross to Lord Winterton, 21 November 1938. FO 371/22540/76–80, Winterton to Halifax, 9 December 1933. Self, The Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters, pp.433–4. Ibid., p. 362. Home Secretary Samuel Hoare was the principal cabinet opponent of increased admissions, ‘a stance he claimed had the backing of both public opinion and Jewish representatives.’ London, Whitehall and the Jews, 1933–1948, p.102–5. This was a reference to German newspaper reports, which characterised British indignation as hypocrisy because of the Amritsar massacre. This was echoed throughout the rest of the press, which suggests that the government must have done some furious briefing. The News Chronicle, for example, no supporter of the Chamberlain government, was remarkably sanguine. Its front-page headline announced, ‘powers Move to Rescue Victims of Nazi Terror’. In contradistinction to its pessimism about Spain or China, it assured readers that the ‘cry of the Jewish victims’ would ‘not go unanswered.’ News Chronicle, 16 November 1938, p. 1. The Times, 12 November 1938, p.14. New Statesman, 3 December 1938, p.911; 10 December 1938, p.959; 17 December 1938, p.1051. The Times, 15 December 1938, p.17. Ibid., 28 December 1938, p.6.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 1 9 6 – 2 0 3

132 133 134

135 136

137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154

155 156 157 158 159 160

Ibid., 17 November 1938, p.15. http://www.oxforddnb.com.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/view/article/39455; Spectator, 2 December 1938, p.951. According to Peter Mandler, for interwar Britons, ‘the line between “national character” and “manners’’ was “constantly being blurred”. They believed that “gentlemanly” virtue was intrinsic to the national character.’ Mandler, The English National Character, p.163. It was carried out at the instigation of Neville Laski. MO, Anti-Semitism 1939–51, Box 1, March 1939. Quotes were extracted from a report of six weeks work by a team of full time Mass Observers, helpers, and a questionnaire using a national panel of 2,000 part-time Observers. Ibid. New Statesman, 7 January 1939. Also in Forster, E. M., Two Cheers for Democracy (Bungay, 1972), p.13. Friedlander, Saul, The Years of Persecution, p.310. Ibid., p. 312. Manchester Guardian, 31 January 1939, p.10. The Times, 31 January 1939, p.13. Ibid., 1 February 1939, p.14. Self, Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters, pp.382–4. Bishop (ed.), Chronicle of Friendship, p.332. The Times, 18 March 1939, p.11. Bishop, Chronicle of Friendship, p.346. The Times, 21 March 1939, p.17. Ibid., 22 March 1939, p.15. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.351, cols 127 and 132, 1 September 1939. Ibid., col. 137, 1 September 1939. Ibid., col. 135, 1 September 1939. The Listener, 7 September 1939, p.464. Orwell, George, My Country Right or Left 1940–1943: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol.2 (London, 1971), p. 438. For information on the leaflets, see Garnet, David, The Secret History of PWE: The Political Warfare Executive 1939–1945 (London, 2002), pp. 3–17. The Times, 31 October 1939, p.7. Ibid., 1 November 1939, p.9. Manchester Guardian, 31 October 1939, p.6. McCooey (ed.), Despatches from the Home Front, Diary entry 14 January 1939, p. 23. Cited in Overy, The Morbid Age, p.356. Manchester Guardian, 6 November 1939, p.10.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 0 3 – 2 0 7

161 162

163 164 165 166 167 168

169 170 171 172 173

174

175 176

FO 371/21638/13–21, Report, ‘An account of events in Poland, September 1939–March 1940 as related to Mr. P Gildesgame by the Misses Krakowski’. FO 371/24472/11, 13 April 1940. James G. Nicolson of the American Red Cross in a report to the Foreign Office relativised Jewish suffering, denied the existence of the ‘Lublin Jewish Reserve’ and suggested not only that Jewish refugees had left their homes ‘of their own free will’, but that ‘all the numbers which one had read in the press were undoubtedly exaggerated.’ FO 371/21638/61, 24 April 1940. FO 371/24472/11, 21 April 1940. FO 939/377, Notes on the Policy of Department E. H., 2 October 1940, by Rex Leeper. The Times, 24 October 1939, p.5. Ibid., 7 November 1939, p.9. Ibid., 10 November 1939, p.7; 20 November 1939, p.5. Ibid., 16 December 1939, p.9. This far-reaching and exterminatory scheme was quickly abandoned. Cesarani, David, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes and Trial of a ‘Desk Murderer’ (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 77–81. The Times, 27 February 1940, p.7. On 22 October the paper reported the creation of the Warsaw ghetto. Ibid., 1 October 1940, p.5. MOA, Diarist No 5296, E. Dawson, 4 January 1941. Ibid. ‘The Papers of Lord Vansittart of Denham’, VNST II/1/20. Vansittart to Eden, 22 April 1941; The Times capitalised on comments made by Lord Londonderry by suggesting that Vansittart’s behaviour was ‘an obvious breach in the whole tradition of the British Civil Service’, The Times, 20 February 1941, p.5. Rose, Norman, Vansittart: Study of a Diplomat (London, 1978), p.247. Vansittart propounded the view that the British could only be fortified in their wartime sufferings by ‘one strong primitive emotion…hate.’ The Papers of Lord Vansittart’. Vansittart to Eden, 22 April 1941. New Statesman, 1 March 1941, p.206. Kushner, Tony, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford, 1994), p.59. The Vansittart controversy is still a matter for debate between historians. Only a few really take the time to understand it properly. Thus, Vansittart is portrayed, for example, even by the eminent historian Richard J. Evans, as an erstwhile Daniel Goldhagen. In fact, Vansittart had very little to say about German attitudes to Jews, but he had a lot to say about German recourse to violent ‘solutions’ and the inability of German liberals to sufficiently exert their influence. Evans, Richard J., Rereading German History: From Unification to Reunification



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 0 7 – 2 0 9

177 178 179 180 181

182

183 184 185 186

187 188

1800–1996 (London, 1997), p.150; Goldhagen, Daniel, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (London, 1997). For the genocide of the Hereros, see, for example, Hull, Isabel, Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca and London, 2005). Vansittart, Robert, Black Record: Germans Past and Present (London, 1941), pp. 54–5. For Leonard Woolf ’s recognition of the particularity of ‘German cruelty and barbarism’, see Leventhal, F.M., ‘Leonard Woolf and Kingsley Martin … ’, Albion, p.288. The Spectator, 3 April 1942, p.325. Vansittart had never, he argued, used the word race ‘with any biological intention.’ The Papers of Lord Vansittart’, VNST II/1/13, Vansittart to Archbishop of Canterbury, 5 November 1941. He later wrote, ‘I do not think or talk of race. There is no such thing as a pure race.’ Ibid., VNST II/1/20. Letter to The Economist, 10 January 1942. Years later Vansittart ‘regretted citing Tacitus, for it “led to a charge of racialism which I never lived down.”’ See also, Roi, Michael L., Alternative to Appeasement: Sir Robert Vansittart and Alliance Diplomacy, 1934–1937 (London, 1997), p.13. Talking of refugees, Petherick, who later rose to become Financial Secretary of the War Office, wrote, ‘A considerable proportion of these are pure scum, and even if they were not it is far too easy to plant agents amongst them and for a German Jew, for instance, to slip in by persuading some socialist member of Parliament that his little Rachel has been subjected to indignity at the hands of a Gauleiter.’ Ibid., VNST II/1/18, Petherick to Vansittart, 14 January 1942. Pimlott, Ben (ed.), The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940–45 (London, 1986), 2 February 1941. The Spectator, 31 January 1941, p.109. Ibid., 23 April 1943, p.382. For Londonderry, Parliamentary Debates (Lords), Fifth Series, vol.118, cols 388–410, 18 February 1941; For Astor, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.368, cols 417–18, 28 January 1941; For Bedford, Duke of, What a Game? (Glasgow, 1941); For Herbert Morrison, New Statesman and Nation, 16 May 1942, p.317; for Dilkes, David (ed.), The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan 1938–1945 (London, 1971), p.334; for Brittain, Bishop, Alan and Y. Aleksandra Bennett (eds), Wartime Chronicle: Vera Brittain’s Diary 1939–1945 (London, 1989), p.132; for Ponsonby, The Times, 19 February 1941, p.9. Edwards, Ruth Dudley, Victor Gollancz: A Biography (London, 1987), p.367. New Statesman, 28 December 1940, pp.671–2; The Papers of Lord Vansittart, VNST II/1/20; The Economist, 27 December 1941, p.777; VNST II/1/13, Archbishop of Canterbury to Vansittart, 29 October 1941.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 0 9 – 2 1 5

189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219

Ibid., VNST II/1/20. The Economist, 27 December 1941, p.777. Laski, H.J., The Germans – Are they Human? A Reply to Sir Robert Vansittart (London, 1941), p.7. New Statesman, 25 January 1941, p.76; Brailsford, H.N., The German Problem (London, 1944), p.7. New Statesman, 8 November 1941, p.405. Laski, The Germans – Are they Human?, pp.4–5. The Spectator, 21 February 1941, p.202. Haffner, Sebastian, Offensive Against Germany (London, 1941), pp.23–5. New Statesman, 12 July 1941, pp.32–3. Rathbone was still arguing along the same lines in September 1943. The Spectator, 17 September 1943, p.264. Burridge, T.D., British Labour and Hitler’s War (London, 1976), pp.26 and 60. Laski, The Germans – Are they Human, p.7. VNST II/1/20. Evening Standard, 23 March 1942. The Times, 27 February 1942, p.7. Gollancz, Victor, Shall Our Children Live or Die? A Reply to Lord Vansittart on the German Problem (London, 1942), p.51. The Times, 18 December 1940, p.2. Bedford, Duke of, What a Game? (Glasgow, 1941). The Times, 22 May 1942, p.4. The Papers of Lord Vansittart, VNST II/1/20. The Economist, 27 December 1941, p. 777. Orwell, My Country, p.434. New Statesman, 5 April 1941, pp.358–9. The Spectator, 29 August 1941, p.202; New Statesman, 5 April 1941, p.358. Cesarani, Becoming Eichmann, pp.92–3. HW 16/6. Report dated 21 August 1941. FO 371/26540/23, Dalton to Eden, 25 September 1941. FO 371/26540/14, R.M. Makins to Eden, 29 September 1941. FO 371/26540/27, Eden to Dalton, n.d. Evans, Richard J., The Third Reich at War: How the Nazi Led Germany from Conquest to Disaster (London, 2009), pp.226–7. The Times, 7 January 1942, p.3. It got the figures wrong, and because it seems to have obtained its information from Soviet sources, did not state that Jews were the principal victims. http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/ussr2.htm. The Times, 20 January 1942, p.5. Dale Jones, Priscilla, ‘British Policy Towards German Crimes Against German Jews, 1939–1945’, in David Cesarani (ed.), The Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, vol.6: (London, 2004), p.102. In any case, Jewish representatives were held at bay because representative

0

N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 1 5 – 2 2 1

220 221 222

223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243

governments did not wish to ‘make any discrimination whatsoever in respect of their citizens.’ FO 371/30917/85, Potulicki to Lias, n.d. Cited in Kushner and Knox, Refugees in an Age of Genocide, p.195. MOA, File Report 1104, ‘Private opinion about the German people’, 27 February 1942. Kochavi, Arieh, ‘Britain and the Establishment of the United Nations War Crimes Commission’, in Cesarani, The Holocaust: Critical Concepts, p. 150. The term ‘United Nations’ as a description of the Allies first appeared in the Atlantic Charter, the policy statement of Allied war aims issued in August 1942. FO 371/30917, Eden Memorandum, 20 July 1942. Ibid. Kochavi, ‘Britain and the Establishment of the United Nations War Crimes Commission’, p.132. FO 371/30917/60, J.K. Roberts minute, 6 August 1942. FO 371/30917/92, D. Allen, 14 August 1942. FO 371/30917/97, Scurfield to Ponsonby, 16 September 1942. For other works referring to Reigner’s telegram, see Wasserstein, Bernard, Britain and the Jews of Europe; Laqueur, Walter, The Terrible Secret (London, 1982). Manchester Guardian, 11 May 1942, p.5. The Times, 10 June 1942, p.3. Daily Telegraph, 25 June 1942; The Times, 30 June 1942, p.2; Manchester Guardian, 30 June 1942, p.2. The Times, 7 August 1942, p.5. FO 371/32680/51, Regina Kägi-Fuchsmann of Zurich to B.H. Heine, 14 August 1942. FO 371/32680/81, A.W.G. Randall minute, 21 September 1942. For the Caxton Hall meeting, see The Times, 3 September 1942, p.8 and BoD ACC3121/A30, Joint Foreign Committee Report, August–September 1942. The Times, 9 September 1942, p.5. Garfield, Simon Private Battles: How the War Almost Defeated Us (London, 2007), p.303. Ibid., p. 287. New Statesman, 17 October 1942, pp.249–50. The Times, 19 October 1942, p.2. Ibid., 30 October 1942, p.2. The meeting was not filled to capacity ‘owing to police regulations’, BoD ACC3121/A30, BoD Meeting, 17 November 1942. New Statesman, 14 November 1942, p.315. Cove, Messor and Stokes to the Daily Herald, 4 January 1943, The Papers of Lord Vansittart, VNST II/1/20. New Statesman, 17 October 1942, p.257; 24 October 1942, p.272; 31 October 1942, p.289.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 2 1 – 2 2 8

244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275

Ibid., 31 October 1942, pp.289–90. Ibid., 14 November 1942, p.315. Fox, John P., ‘The Jewish Factor in British War Crimes Policy’, English Historical Review XCII/362 (1977), p.98. Cited in ibid., p.99. Nicolson (ed.), The Harold Nicolson Diaries (2004), p.270. Pederson, Susan, Eleanor Rathbone and the Politics of Conscience (London, 2004), p.328. The Times, 15 December 1942, p.4. Parliamentary Debates (Commons), Fifth Series, vol.385, col.2083, 17 December 1942. The Times, 12 December 1942, p.5. Manchester Guardian, 5 December 1942, p.4; 8 December 1942, p.4; 11 December 1942, p.4; 18 December 1942, p.4. News Chronicle, 18 December 1942, p.10. Daily Mail, 18 December 1942, p.3; Daily Mirror, 18 December 1942, p. 5. Daily Herald, 18 December 1942, p.2. Ibid. Daily Express, 18 December 1942, p.2. New Statesman, 26 December 1942, p. 421. Ibid., 9 January 1943, p.26. The Spectator, 25 December 1942, p.590. New Statesman, 19 December 1942, p.401. FO 371/30917/105, 8 February 1943. MOA, quotes from Mass Observation Diarist Nos. 5150, 5177, 5233, 5296, 5376, 5243, 5460. Gollancz, Victor, ‘Let My People Go’: Some Practical Proposals for Dealing with Hitler’s Massacre of the Jews and an Appeal to the British Public (London, 1943), pp.2–3. Ibid., pp. 28–31. Ibid. For Gollancz’s activism, see Edwards, Victor Gollancz, pp.373–7. Gollancz, Shall Our Children Live or Die, pp.64–5. BoD, ACC3121/C11/7/1/5, E.F. Rathbone Memorandum, 7 January 1943. Pederson, Eleanor Rathbone, p.340. Rose, N.A. (ed.), Baffy: The Diaries of Blanche Dugdale 1936–1947 (London, 1973), pp.201–2. Diary entry for 9 March 1943. BoD, ACC3121/A30, Executive Committee Report December 1942– January 1943; The Times, 25 January 1943, p.2. The Times, 11 March 1943, p.8. Parliamentary Debates (Lords), Fifth Series, vol.125, cols 1058–91, 11 February 1943.



N O T E S T O PA G E S 2 2 9 – 2 3 9

276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288

FO 371/30917/97; Letter from constituents, 29 January, 1943; Robertson to Eden, 5 February and Robertson to Eden, 23 February 1943. FO 371/30917/102, William Beveridge to Richard Law, February 1943. FO 371/30917/94, 29 January 1943. New Statesman, 23 January 1943, p.50. The Spectator, 25 December 1942, p.597. Garfield, Private Battles, p.346. Entry for 6 April 1943. Ibid., p. 336. Entry for 7 March 1943. Orwell, My Country, p.333. New Statesman, 13 February 1943, p.107. The Times, 23 March 1943, p.6. London, Whitehall and the Jews 1933–1948, p.212. The Spectator, 3 September 1943, pp.210–11. Ibid., 17 September 1943, p.264.

Conclusion 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Castle, Ivor, and Innes, T. A., Covenants with Death (London, 1934). FO 898/422 Ritchie Calder to ‘The Director-General’, 1 October 1942. FO 898/422 Murray to ‘Regional Directors, Mr. Ritchie Calder’, 1 October 1942. FO 898/422 Ritchie Calder to ‘The Director-General’, 1 October 1942. FO 898/422 Murray to ‘Regional Directors, Mr. Ritchie Calder’, 1 October 1942. FO 898/422 Calder to Wilson, 10 October 1942. Calder was a member of the 1941 Committee that vehemently opposed Vanisittart. Mazower, Mark, ‘Violence and the State in the Twentieth Century’, American Historical Review 107.4 (2002), par. 38, http://www. historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/107.4/ah0402001158.html. Sharf, Andrew, The British Press and the Jews Under Nazi Rule (London, 1964); Sherman, A.J., Island Refuge: Britain and Refugees from the Third Reich 1933–1939 (London, Elek Books, 1973); Wasserstein Britain and the Jews of Europe; Laqueur, Walter, The Terrible Secret: Suppression of the Truth About Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ (Harmondsworth, 1980); Kushner, Tony, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford, 1994); London, Louise, Whitehall and the Jews: British Immigration Policy and the Holocaust (Cambridge, 2000); Stone, Dan, Responses to Nazism in Britain, 1933–1939, Before War and Holocaust (Basingstoke, 2003). It must be stated that the present book would not have been possible without this valuable historiography.



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Index

Abdul Hamid II 34, 35, 37

Armenian Relief Committee 42

Abyssinia, Abyssinians 7, 103, 120, 124–45,

Armenians

149, 153, 154, 159, 160, 165, 166, 175,

and 1890s massacres 1, 33, 34, 35, 37

182, 239

and Adana massacres 35, 37, 46 and Chanak 80–8

Academic Assistance Council 104–5, 112

and Genocide 7, 33, 36–46, 60, 62

Acland, Francis 279n256 Acland, Richard 209

Armistice Day 77, 78

Acland-Troyte, Lieutenant-Colonel 95

Arnold, Thomas 17

Adams, Vyvyan 119, 124, 203, 275n148

Arslanian, Artin 43

Addis Ababa 127

Ashford, Pam 232

Addison, Christopher 18

Asquith, Herbert 18–20, 43, 63, 77–8, 137, 231

Aerschot 9, 72 Aiken-Sneath, F.B. 174

Astor, Nancy 141, 209

Aliens Act, 1905 30, 101

Athol, Duchess of 275n140, 285n106

Alverstone, Lord 29

Attlee, Clement 163, 196

American Jewish Committee 47

Auxiliaries Division 76

Amery, Leopold 104, 188 Amoy 168

Babi Yar 214

Amritsar massacre 61, 67–74, 80, 286n126

Badajoz 150, 151

Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act

Bagnold, Enid 109, 110 Bailey, John 20

69 Anderson, Margaret Lavinia 45

Balbriggan 76–7, 80

Anglo–South African War, Second 12, 13,

Baldwin, Stanley and Abyssinia 120, 125–44, 270n30

78 Anschluss 175–80, 284–85n85

and Chanak 87

anti-Belgian riots 31

and China 158

Anti-Commintern Pact 166

and Nazi Germany 231 and Spain 157

anti-Semitism 23, 30, 50, 51, 52, 59, 61, 62, 72, 94, 101, 104, 176, 177, 189,

Baldwin Fund 189–90, 198, 199, 286n118

196–200, 225, 229, 231, 232

Balfour, Arthur 43, 48–9, 51, 52, 56, 59, 74, 227, 251n177, 254n234

Armenia Day 43

Balfour Declaration 49

Armenian Red Cross and Refugee Fund 42



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T Bapaume 76

Black and Tans 74–80, 101

Baravelli, C.G. 141

Blackwell, Isabel 182, 183, 184

Barker, J. Ellis 88

Bloody Sunday 78

Baring, Evelyn 37

Bloxham, Donald 36, 41–5

Barnes, Dr Ernest 105, 182

Blue Book on Armenian atrocities 40–2, 83, 252n199

Barnes, George 64, 130

Boers see Anglo–South African War,

Barnes, John 128

Second

Barry, Tom 75

Bolshevism 48, 52, 53, 59, 62, 67, 148,

Bartlett, Vernon 96–97, 113–16, 269n293

213

Barton, Sir Sidney 127 Basques 153–7

Bonar Law, Andrew 17, 63, 87, 88

Beaverbrook, Lord 26, 64, 129, 161, 236

Bondfield, Margaret 85, 274n130

Beazley, Sir Charles 91

Bonham Carter, Violet 137, 141, 164, 283n49, 285n106

Bedford, Lord 209, 211

Bonner, Sir George 202

Belgium and atrocities 9–10

Bottome, Phyllis 233–35

and British response to atrocities 19–33,

Bourne, Cardinal Francis 42, 79, 251n175 Boynton, Rev. C.L. 167

80, 81 and German invasion 9–10, 23

Bracco, Rosa Maria 89

and neutrality 5, 11

Brailsford, Henry 54, 212

and refugees 22, 24, 30–1

Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of 243n5

Bell, George 201, 227

Bright, John 31,142

Bell, Sir Henry Hesketh 129, 141

Britain and humanitarian tradition 1, 2, 3, 7, 29,

Bellairs, Carlyon 72 Belzec 231

30, 35–6, 43, 72, 78, 104, 122, 130, 151,

Bennett, Arnold 20

156–7, 160, 189, 198, 199, 211, 212, 239, 240

Bennett, E.N. 80–1

and liberal imagination 7

Bennett, Olive 231 Bennett, T.J. 72

Britain Looks at Germany 173

Bentwich, Norman 102, 187, 203

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 4, 96, 108, 112, 116, 130, 135, 189, 201,

Berkeley, George Fitz-Hardinge 79

207, 269n293

Berlin, Congress of 34, 35

British Empire 1, 4, 12, 33, 37, 43, 119, 239

Bermuda Conference 233 Bernays, Robert 110–11, 173

and Abyssinia 142

von Bernhardi, Friedrich 14, 15, 28,

and Chanak 87 and India 68, 70, 72

245n31

and Ireland 74, 79, 80

Besant, Annie 68

and Nazi Germany 188, 229

Bevan, Aneurin 211 Beveridge, Sir William 104, 112, 229

British Union of Fascists 190, 286n115

Bilbao 153, 156, 157

Brittain, Vera 5, 200, 201, 209, 275n160

Birmingham Post 126

Brooks, Collin 143

von Bismarck, Otto 13, 14, 34

Brown Book of Hitler Terror and the Burning of the Reichstag, The 115

Black Record 207, 208, 211



INDEX Bryce, Annan 77, 253n215

Chamberlain, Houston Stewart 92

Bryce, James

Chamberlain, Neville

and Armenians 37, 38, 41–2, 43, 82

and Abyssinia 128, 134, 142, 143

and German atrocities 23–5, 80–1, 217,

and China 158, 162, 165, 166 and Nazi Germany 5, 180–4, 193, 200–2,

246n65

270n30

Buchanan, Sir George 47–8

and Spain, 167, 278n220

Buckmaster, Lord 111–12

Chanak, 80–8, 128, 129

Bulgarian agitation 1, 30, 33, 43, 85,

Changing Face of Germany, The 173

249n133 Burke, Edmund 20

Chapei 122

Butler, R.A. 168

Charlton, B. 183, 184

Buxton, Noel, (later Lord) 36, 115, 209

Chelmno 215

by-elections, Wandsworth and West

Chiang Kai-shek 164, 165 Childers, Erskine 79

Birmingham 154

China Campaign Committee 162, 168, 169, 281n304

Cadogan, Alexander 168, 209

Church, Anglican 5, 27–9, 32, 43, 61, 78–9,

Calder, Peter Ritchie 237–9

86, 89, 130, 137, 153, 155, 169, 182,

Campbell, R.J. 132–3, 135

188, 209, 219, 227, 233

Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Henry 12, 78,

Church, Catholic 79, 149, 154, 156, 177

140, 142

Church, non-conformism 27, 30, 78, 85,

Canton 161, 168, 169

117, 169

Carlton Club 87 Carlyle, Thomas 17

Church Times 61

Carnegie, William 27

Churchill, Winston

Carson, Edward 71, 72

and Abyssinia 132, 136,

cartoons 26–7, 140

and attitudes towards Jews 66

Cavell, Edith 38

and British Empire 68

Cavendish-Bentinck, Lord Henry 55, 79

and Chanak 85, 87, 88

Cazalet, Victor 179

and China 279n266

Cecil, Lord

and First World War 65 and India 70, 71

and Abyssinia 127, 132–3, 137, 138,

and Ireland 74

141

and Nazi Germany 208, 211, 217, 219

and Armenians 40, 43, 261n105 and China 123, 162, 169, 279n266

cinema newsreels 4, 152, 156

and Jews in Poland 49, 55

Clark, Rev. Andrew 26, 31, 55

and Nazi Germany 102, 285n106

Clark, R.T. 171

and Spain 154

Clarke, Edward 29

Cenotaph 78

Clegg, Arthur 162, 169

Centre Party, German 96

Clerk, Sir George 127, 131, 133–4

Cesarani, David 23, 67, 253n201

Cline, Catherine 90, 92, 93

Chamberlain, Austen 66, 67, 72, 83, 85,

Clynes, J.R. 55, 79

94, 103, 112, 128, 132, 137, 262n128,

Coats, Alice 183

270n30, 275n140

Cohen, Israel 51, 54



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T Daily Herald

Cole, J.A. 173

and Abyssinia 135

collective security 123, 125, 126, 127, 131,

and Jews in Poland 61

140, 143, 145 Collins, Mary 182, 183, 184

and Kristallnacht 185–6

Committee of Union and Progress 35, 36,

and Nazi Germany 99, 114, 209, 220, 222, 230

37, 45, 46

Daily Mail 5

Congress of Berlin, 1878 34, 35 Congress Poland 47

and Abyssinia 129

Contemporary Review 91–2, 110, 115

and Chanak 82, 85, 86

Conventions on the laws of war 11, 16, 168,

and First World War 16, 17, 22, 64 and Ireland 77

279n250

and Jews in Poland 60

Cooper, Alfred Duff 126, 138, 169, 170, 201,

and Kristallnacht 185

207, 208

and Nazi Germany 222

Cooper-Prichard, A.H. 101

and Spain 154

Corbett, Dorothy 183–4 Covenants with Death 236

Daily Mirror 114, 222

Cox, James L. 130

Daily News 60, 86

Craigie, Sir Robert 161, 166

Daily Sketch 181

Craigmyle, Lord 131

Daily Telegraph

Cranborne, Viscount 166

and Abyssinia 135, 167

Crewdson, Captain 56

and the Anschluss 175

Crewe, Marquess 38

and China 160

Cripps, Stafford 211, 285n106

and Jews in Poland 60

Croft, Henry Page 258n41

and Kristallnacht 186 and Nazi Germany 100, 218

Croke Park massacre 78 Cross of Peace 115

Dalton, Hugh 139, 143, 208, 213, 217

Crowe, Eyre 52, 261n105

Dashnak (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) 35

Crowfoot, Elizabeth 178, 183 Cumming, Mansfield 16–17

Davidson, Randall 87

Curzon, George, 58, 85, 251n175

Dawson, E. 184

Czerwinski, Dr Witold 223

Dawson, Geoffrey 98, 112, 138, 155–6 Dawson, William Harbutt 91

Dachau 191

Day of Mourning, Jewish National 55

Dadrian, Vahakn 44

Day of Mourning, Versailles 93

Dáil Éireann 75

Deedes, Wyndham 187

Daily Express

Defence of India Act 69

and Abyssinia 129

Dell, Robert 171

and China 159

Delmer, Sefton 149

and First World War 64, 236

Desart, Earl of 38

and Jews in Poland 60

von Dewall, Wolf 101

and Kristallnacht 185

Dicey, A.V. 29

and Nazi Germany 98, 99, 175, 209, 222

Dickinson, G. Lowes 123

and Spain 149, 151, 154

Dinant 9



INDEX Disraeli, Benjamin 73, 249n133

Fletcher, R. 176–7

Dmowski, Roman 50, 51, 54, 57

Foreign Office 18, 90

Donaldson, Canon Lewis 169, 279n266

and Abyssinia 132, 133

Doran, Edward 101

and the Anschluss 178

Dorpalen, Andreas 14

and Armenians, 42

Duff, Douglas 75–6

and China, 158, 162, 165, 167, 168, 281n304

Duff, Sheila Grant 148, 172 Dugdale, Blanche 227, 229, 274n130

and First World War 25

Duncan, James 173

and Jews in Poland 46, 48, 50, 51–8

Dyer Fund 74

and Kristallnacht 191, 192

Dyer, General Reginald 70–4

and Nazi Germany 103, 104, 106, 107, 112, 116, 191, 192, 203, 204, 207,

East London Observer 112

209, 217, 218, 221, 229, 230, 271n50,

Easterman, A.L. 221

288n162

Ebert, Friedrich 90

Forster, E.M. 86, 200

Economic Consequences of the Peace 7

Fortnightly Review, The 88

Economist, The 209, 211

Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, The 92

Eden, Sir Anthony (later Lord Avon)

Franco, General Francisco 148–55, 157,

and Abyssinia 131–8, 142–4, 147 and China 158–9, 162, 166, 167, 281n295

166, 167, 197

and Nazi Germany 213, 214, 222, 231, 233

Franc-tireurs 10, 21, 57

and Spain 157

Frank, Hans 205

Education in Germany 172

Frankfurter Zeitung 101

Einstein, Albert 112–13

Franklin, A.M. 184

Emerson, Sir Herbert 218

Freeman, E.A. 17

Enabling Act 96

Friedländer, Saul 8, 200

English Review 141

‘frightfulness’ 10, 25, 52, 71, 77, 79, 80,

Englishman’s Home, The 16

100, 141, 151, 154, 155, 160, 168, 236, 247n86

Enomoto, Masayo 166–67 Evening Standard 161, 197, 211

Fritzsche, Peter 106, 267n246

Evans, Richard, J., 147, 175, 187, 288n176

Frontiers of England, The 173

Evian Conference, 179–180, 283n51

Fry, E.D.W. 29

Eyes Right! 173

Fry, Margery 162 Fry, Michael 172

Fall of the German Republic, The 171

Fu Manchu 121

Far East Advisory Committee 166

Fyfe, Henry Hamilton 114

Faringdon, Lord 209 Ferguson, Niall 84, 260n79

Gadhr movement 68

Figes, Orlando 48

Galbraith, Winifred 164

‘Final Solution’ 221, 238

Galicia, 47, 50, 253n216

Fisher, H.A.L. 92, 285n106

Garbett, Cyril 227

Fisher, Warren 127–8, 132, 135, 271n50

Gardiner, A.G. 18

Fletcher, A.W. 172

Garnett, Dr Maxwell 147



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T Garvin, J.L. 123, 176

Green, Abigail 11

Geddes, Eric 65, 67, 257n12

Green, Margaret 173

general election

Greenwood, Arthur 77, 202, 208, 220, 230

1918 7, 63–7, 75

Greenwood, Hamar 74, 75, 77

1922 87

Greenwood, H. Powys 147, 172

1931 121

Gregory, Adrian 242n18

1935 136, 137, 139, 140

Gregory, Duncan 58

General-Gouvernement 205

Grey, Sir Edward (later Lord) 18, 20, 41

Geneva 117, 126, 132, 133, 134, 136, 138,

Grigg, Edward 173 Grimm, Hans 174

145, 217

Grosse Politik der Europäischen Kabinette

Geneva Convention 11

1871–1914, Die 90, 92

German Journey 173 German Life and Letters 173–4

Grotius, Hugo 10, 11

German Revolution, The 172

Grotius Society 102

Germans, Germany

Guernica 152–5, 236

and anti-German riots 23 and attitude to First World War 10, 14, 15

Haffner, Sebastian 210

and forced repatriation of 67

Haggard, Sir Henry Rider 27

and imperialism 13, 15

Halifax, Lord 140, 141, 168, 169, 170, 207

and spies 16, 20, 23

Hamilton, Cicely 94

and Versailles 3, 7, 74, 81, 89, 90–96, 106,

Hamilton, Keith 90 Hamilton, Mary Agnes 196, 199

108, 110, 116, 145–7, 177, 201, 260n84 Germany 92

Harington, General Sir Charles 82, 86

Germany My Country 115

Harmsworth, Cecil 55, 58, 245n39

Germany Under The Treaty 91

Harrar 127

Gestapo 177, 191, 201, 219, 227, 228, 238

Harris, Henry Wilson 100, 101

Gibbs, Philip 79, 88, 89, 115, 281n7

Hastings, Robert 173

Gilmore, Sir John 101

Haynes, E.S.P. 21

Gandhi, Mohandas, (Mahatma) 68, 69

Heine, B.H. 218

Gladstone, William 1, 30, 34, 43, 71, 85,

Henderson, Arthur 43, 77 Henderson, Arthur (later Baron Rowley) 167

130, 142, 163, 231 Goebbels, Joseph 98, 107

Henderson, Sir Nevile 179

Gökalp, Ziya 35

Henson, Herbert Hensley 28, 146, 275n160

Goldhagen, Daniel 288–9n176

Hereros 207

Gollancz, Victor 162, 209, 211, 226, 228

Hertz, Rabbi Dr Joseph 187

Gooch, George Peabody 91–3, 142, 174,

Hess, Rudolph 191 Hicks, William Joynson 253n215

209, 264n177 Goodbye to All That 33

Higgins, Alexander Pearce 12 see also War and the Private Citizen

Gore, Charles 42–3, 79 Göring, Hermann 98, 107

Hill, A.V. 230

Government Code and Cypher School 213

Hillson, Norman 173

Graves, Robert 33

Hinsley, Cardinal, 188, 285n103

Greco–Turkish War 83

Hirota, Kiri 167

0

INDEX History of Germany, A 91

I Speak of Germany 173

Hitler, Adolf 3, 5, 8, 95, 237, 266n229

imperialism 52 and Britain 79

and accession to power 94

and Germany, 13, 15

and the Anschluss 146–7, 175 and appeasement 120, 136, 144

Insanity Fair 173

and boycott of Jewish businesses 99

Inskip, Sir Thomas 185

and British view of 101, 106–17, 172–74,

Institute of International Law 12 Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees

176, 183–5, 197, 200, 201, 203, 206,

191

207, 224–5 and Enabling Act 96

Irish Commission, Labour Party 77

and Germans 97, 98, 209, 210, 233–5

Irish Republican Army 74, 75

and Munich 180–1

Irish Republican Brotherhood 74, 75

and policy towards Jews 192, 200, 222, Jäckel, Eberhard 184

223, 224–5, 226, 227, 230 and Prague 201

Jalianwalla Bagh 69–70

and Spain 155

Jameson, Margaret Storm 95, 209

and Versailles 260n84

Jewish Chronicle 112

Hitlerism 95

Jewish National Day of Mourning 55

Hitler’s Wonderland 172

Joad, C.E.M. 177, 209

Hoare, Samuel 83, 120, 131–45, 147, 153,

Johnson, Bob 197

158, 178–9, 209, 261n105, 275n143,

Johnson, Nelson 123

286n125

Jones, Mary 169

Hobhouse, L.T. 19, 79

Jones, Thomas 126, 143

Hobson, J.A. 19

Jordan, Donald 121,

Hogg, Quintin 230, 241n12

Journalist’s Wife 183

Holland, Henry Scott 16, 27

Journey’s End 89

Home Rule, India 68

Just Back From Germany 173

Home Rule, Ireland 74, 79, Hoover, A.J. 19

Kadish, Sharman 48

Horne, John 10, 80–1

Kägi-Fuchsmann 218

Hosie, Lady Dorothea 162

Kaiser Wilhelm II 13, 26 ‘hang the Kaiser’ campaign 65, 66, 130,

Howard, Esme 52, 255n242

213, 217

Hucker, Daniel 182

subject of ridicule 26

Hudson, Yvonne 218 Hughes, S.W. 169

Kalisz 47

Hulton, Edward 209

Kell, Vernon 16

humanitarianism 1, 2, 3, 7, 12, 15, 29, 44,

Kemal, Mustapha (Atatürk) 82–7, 110

51, 72, 78, 93, 98, 104, 113, 122, 150,

Kennedy, A.L. 98, 175

151, 156, 157, 165, 185, 189, 193, 196,

Kent, Susan Kingsley 25, 247n83

198, 199, 211, 212, 214, 220, 239, 240

Kenworthy, Lieutenant-Commander 77

Hunter Report 71

Kershaw, Sir Ian 284n81

Hunter, William 71

Keynes, John Maynard 7, 99, 104, 180, 242n19, 279n256

Huxley, Julian 149, 196, 209, 285n106



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T League of Nations High Commission for

Kindertransport 187–90

Refugees 102, 145, 187, 218

King, Joseph 108 Kingsley, Charles 17

Lebensraum 13, 205

Kitching, Carolyn 116

Lee, Bradford 166,

Knatchbull-Hugessen, Sir Hughe 159

Lee, Sir Sidney 90

Koo, Wellington 166

Leeper, Reginald, (Rex) 204

Kramer, Alan 10, 80–1

Lemberg 50, 51, 53, 58, 59, 254n237

Kristallnacht 184–200

Let My People Go 226

Kroll Opera House 96

liberalism 18, 209

Kulka, Otto Dov 184

Lida 55, 58, 59

Kushner, Tony 7, 31, 187, 207

Liège 9

Kwantung Army, Japanese 120

Lindsey, A.D. 123 Lindsey, Sir Ronald 94

Lambie, T.A. 141

Listener, The 202

Lampson, Sir Miles 123

Liulevicius, Vejas 10

Lang, William Cosmo Gordon 55, 103, 111,

Lloyd George, David and 1918 general election 63–7

112, 130, 163, 182, 188 Lansbury, George 130, 132, 231, 285n106

and Abyssinia 132, 136

Laski, Harold, 162 209–11, 220–1, 232

and Amritsar 72

Laski, Neville, 103–5, 111, 187, 266n236,

and Chanak 81–7 and First World War 18, 49, 246n65

287n135 Last Stronghold of Slavery, The 141

and Ireland 74, 76, 78 and Nazi Germany 117

Lausanne Conference 88

Locarno, Treaty of 93, 127

Laval, Pierre 133, 134, 135, 138, 140, 147,

Locker-Lampson, Oliver 101

158 Law, Richard 221

Lodz Ghetto 205, 223

Lawrence, D.H. 196

London, Louise, 190, 233, 283n51

League of Nations 93, 118, 119–21, 123–6,

Londonderry, Lord, 173, 176, 209, 273n91, 288n173

132, 137, 142, 154, 169, 194, 229,

Lord Mayor’s Fund 42, 103, 251n175

270n30, 272n76, 273n99, 275n140 and Abyssinia 118–44

Lorraine, Sir Percy 57

and China 121, 123, 124, 162, 165, 166

Lothian, Lord (Philip Kerr) 136, 147, 156

and Nazi Germany 100, 102, 103, 105,

Louvain 9, 19, 72, 76, 80 Low, David 209, 278n235

108, 116, 117, 145 and Poland 57, 58

Low, John 176

and Spain 151

Lowther, Sir Gerald 46 Lugard, Lady 30

League of Nations Commission to China

Lynd, Robert 186

123–4, 270n25

Lytton, Lord 123–4, 163, 283n49, 285n106

League of Nations Council 101 League of Nations Covenant 101, 118, 119,

MacDonald, Ramsay 18, 43, 99, 102, 122,

123, 125–37, 140, 142

125, 311

and Article 16 118, 119, 124, 133, 138,

Maclean, Sir Donald 55

143



INDEX Macready, General Sir Nevil 75

Melchett, Lord 230

Makins, R.M. 213

Middlemas, John 128

Manchester Guardian

Miles, Hallie 20, 31

and 1918 general election 65

Milne, A.A. 86

and Abyssinia 129, 135

Modern Germanies as seen by an Englishwoman 94

and Amritsar 72 and Anschluss 175

Monks, Noel 154

and Armenians 37, 39–40, 42, 45

Montagu, Edwin 68–74

and Chanak 82, 83

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 69

and China 121, 123, 159, 167

Montefiore, Claude 49

and First World War 18

Montefiore, Leonard 178

and German atrocities 27

Moradiellos, Enrique 149

and Ireland 76, 78

Morant Bay, slave revolt 1865 12, 244n16

and Jews in Poland 57, 61, 255n238

Morgan, J.H. 25, 247n86

and Munich 181

Morgan, Kenneth, 257n18

and Nazi Germany 107, 108, 116, 145,

Morgenthau, Henry 57 Morning Post 54, 60, 61, 73, 74, 85, 131,

171, 200, 203, 206, 209, 218, 222,

151, 160

266n236, 267n253

Moroccan crises 16, 17

Manchukuo 166 see also Manchuria

Morris, John 102 Morrison, Herbert 136, 137, 164, 188, 209,

Manchuria 120, 122, 123, 124, 126, 158,

211, 218–19, 222

159, 160, 163

Mowatt, Charles Loch 7, 257n18

Mandler, Peter 268n262, 280n271,

Mowrer, Lilian 183

287n134 Mann, Thomas 15, 234

Mudania 87

Mannix, Daniel 79

Mudros Armistice 81

Mansion House 42, 111

Munich Crisis 5, 180–4, 192, 201, 233, 240, 241n12

Marley, Lord 115 Marquand, David 125

Munthe, Dr A., 100

Martin, Kingsley 113, 151, 162, 177, 209,

Murray, Gilbert 18, 83, 93, 104, 123, 138, 214, 261n205, 279n266, 285n106

221, 223

Murray, Lady Mary, 83, 261n205, 274n130

Mass Observation 177–8, 179, 182–4, 196–200, 206, 215–17, 224–5, 232,

Murray, Ralph 238

287n136

Muş massacre 37 Mussolini, Benito 110, 127, 129, 134, 138,

Masterman, Charles 25, 77

140, 144, 273–4n107

Matsui, General Iwane 167, 280n289 du Maurier, Guy 16 Mazower, Mark 10, 239

Namier, Lewis 50, 57, 208

McCarthy, Desmond 113

Nanking 160, 161, 166–8

McDonald, James 145–6

National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror 227

McKenna, Reginald 30 Mein Kampf 106, 144, 171

National Council, Labour Party 159, 162

Meinecke, Friedrich 15

National Executive, Labour Party 150, 155



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T Now It Can Be Told 88

National Joint Committee for Spanish

Nuremberg Laws 145

Relief 152, 157 National People’s Party, German 96 National Railwaymen’s Union 137

Observer 123, 146, 148, 176, 177, 230

Nazi Germany Explained 113–14

Observer and West Sussex Recorder 31

Neumann, Friedrich 35

O’Connor, T.P. 40, 43

Neutral Zone, Allied 82, 84

O’Dwyer, Michael 69

Neuwe Amsterdammer 25

Offensive Against Germany 210

Never Again Association 208

Oliver, Frederick 31

New Statesman

Olivier, Lord 129–30 On the Laws of War and Peace 10, 11

and Abyssinia 136, 141

see also Grotius, Hugo

and the Anschluss 176, 177, 178 and Armenians 42

Open Door policy 124, 158

and Chanak 85, 87

Orwell, George 4, 202, 212, 232

and China 121, 159, 160, 162, 163, 165

Ottoman Empire 33, 35

and Ireland 80

Ourselves and Germany 173

and Kristallnacht 187, 194

Overy, Richard 1, 4, 105

and Munich 180 Pacifico, Don 102, 266n229

and Nazi Germany 95, 109, 112, 113, 145,

pacifism, 118–19, 130, 136, 271n40

207, 209, 210, 219, 220, 223, 231

Paderewski, Ignacy 51, 54, 57, 255n258

and Spain 152, 154, 155 News Chronicle

Palestine 49, 52, 102, 187, 193, 222

and Abyssinia 135, 142

Palmerston, Lord 30, 102, 130, 136, 266n229

and the Anschluss 175, 186

Pan-Germans 14

and anti-Semitism 231

von Papen, Franz 108

and China 121, 163, 164

Paris Peace Conference 50, 52, 63, 118

and Nazi Germany 98, 100, 110, 209, 222,

Paris, Treaty of, 1856 11 ‘Peace Ballot’ 124–6, 270n30, 271n40

231

Peace Pledge Union 130

and Spain 150, 154 newsreels 4, 129, 152, 156

Peace with Ireland Council, The 79

Newton, F.E. 141

Pears, Sir Edwin 43

Nicolson, Harold

Pemberton, Harold 151

and Abyssinia 131, 139

Pennell, Catriona 5, 22

and China 169

Petherick, Maurice 208, 289n182

and Kristallnacht 187

Phipps, Eric 144

and Nazi Germany 147, 180, 208, 212,

Phoney War 212 Picture Post 209

221, 231 Nine-Power Treaty 166, 280n280

Pinsk 54

Nisko 204–5

Playne, Caroline 19

Noel-Baker, Philip 125, 137, 153, 165, 168,

Poland see Congress Poland Polish Information Committee 50

211, 285n106 non-intervention 149

Polish National Committee 50

Northcliffe, Lord 16, 26, 64, 245n39

Polish–Soviet War 57–8



INDEX Political Warfare Executive 204, 237, 238

Reichenau order 214

Ponsonby, Arthur, later Lord 18, 203, 209

Reichstag 94, 96, 110, 115, 146, 155, 200

Portsmouth, Treaty of 120

Reigner, Gerhart 217, 291n228

Prelude to Hitler 115, 173

Reith, Sir John 116

Preston, Paul 148, 149

reparations 64, 66, 91

Price, George Ward 85

Reventlow, Count 40

Priestley, J.B. 209

Reynolds, B.T. 115, 173

propaganda

Reynold’s News 209

and Abyssinia 141

Rheims 20

and First World War 6, 25–7, 44–5, 81, 88,

Rhineland 89, 93, 146–7, 159 von Ribbentrop, Joachim 191

252n199, 260n84 and Jews 61, 178, 196, 198

Riddell, Lord 18

and Nazi Germany 96, 108, 177, 196, 198,

Roberts, Charles 83 Roberts, J.K. 191–2

203, 204, 210, 226, 234, 238

Roberts, Stephen H. 175, 282n25

and Poland 52, 53, 58, 61 Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion 61, 73

Roberts, Wilfred 152

Prussianism 10, 16, 29, 70, 72, 78

Robertson, David 229

Punch 26, 140

Robbins, Keith 94

Pye, Edith 122

Rohmer, Sax 121 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 162, 179, 217, 279n262 Rose, Norman 207

le Queux, Walter 16–17

Rosenberg, Alfred 98 radio 4, 90, 96, 98, 113, 180, 200, 212

Rothermere, Lord 129, 161

Raemaekers, Louis 26–7, 101

Rothschild, Edmond de 52

Randall, A.W.G. 229–30

Rothschild, Lord (2nd) 61

Rath, Ernst vom 194, 284n83

Rothschild, Lionel de 186–7

Rathbone, Eleanor 147, 187, 207, 209, 210,

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 11

211, 221, 226, 227, 228, 230, 234, 235,

Rowlatt, Sir Sidney 69

274n130, 290n197

Rowse, A.L. 208, 221

Reaching for the Stars 173

Royal Irish Constabulary 75, 76

Realities of War 88

Ruhr, Allied occupation of 89

Recent Revelations of European Diplomacy 92

Rumbold, Sir Horace

‘Red Scare’ 48

and Chanak 83

Reed, Douglas 173

and Jews in Poland 57–61 and Nazi Germany 106, 107, 144

Rees, Goronwy 156

Russia No 1, White Paper 61

refugees

Russo–Turkish War, 1876–7 34

Armenian 40 Belgian 22, 24, 30, 31 Chinese 121, 163, 167

Saar plebiscite 145

Jewish 100, 112, 145, 175, 177–80, 187,

Salisbury, Lord 34, 37, 43

188, 189, 190, 191, 198, 199, 202, 218,

Salter, Arthur 123, 279n266

219, 225, 227, 229, 234

Samuel, Herbert (later Viscount) 30, 132, 187, 249n117, 279n266

Spanish 156–7



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T Spectator, The continued

Samuel Report 58–61 Samuel, Sir Stuart 49, 57–61

and Kristallnacht 186

Sanday, William 32

and Nazi Germany, 97, 100, 101, 208, 223, 231, 233

Sarikamiş 36

and Spain, 149, 153, 155, 156

Satyagraha, policy of 69

Stalin, Joseph 110, 158, 234

Schutzstaffel (SS or Death’s Head

Star, The 135

personnel) 174, 190, 205, 228 Schwartz Corps, Das 174, 190

Stebbing, Edward 219, 231

Scott, C.P. 76

Steed, Henry Wickham 171, 255n240

Scott, Rose 100

Steer, George 153, 154, 155

Seeley, General John 86

Stimson, Henry L. 121

Sepoy rebellion, 1857 12

Stokes, R.R. 211, 291n242

Sèvres, Treaty of 46, 82, 261n95

Storer, Colin 89

Shall Our Children Live or Die? 211, 226

Strachey, Lytton 196

Shanghai 120–3, 159, 160, 163

Strang, William 133

Sharp, Clifford 109–10

Strange, Joan 190, 203,

Sheppard, Canon, H.R.L. 130, 279n266

Stresa Conference 127

Sherriff, R.C. 89

Suez Canal 131

Sidgwick, Christopher 173

Sunday Times 208

Sieburg, Friedrich 115

Sutherland, Sir William 72

‘Silk Letter Conspiracy’ 68 Silverman, Sidney 215, 218, 221, 230

Taverner, Eric 173

Simon, Sir John 18, 79, 101–3, 117, 121,

Tawney, R.H. 123 Taylor, A.J.P. 64, 257n3

127, 152, 169, 170

Taylor, Philip, 25

Sinclair, Archibald, 177, 194, 202, 279n266,

Temperley, Harold 93

285n106 Sinn Fein 75, 78

Temple, William 130, 188, 209, 219–20, 221

Smyrna 81, 84, 85

Temps, Le 21

Snell, Bernard J. 27

Teutonism 92

Snowden, Lord 117, 265n204

These Germans 173

Sobibor 231

Thomas, H.H. 166

Social Contract 11

Thompson, Dorothy 207, 234

see also Rousseau, Jean-Jacques

Tiecheng, Wu 122 Times, The

Some Impressions of Nazi Germany 172

and Abyssinia 127, 129, 131, 134, 135,

Spa Conference 74

137, 138, 141

Spanish Civil War 147, 148–57, 166, 191,

and Amritsar 73

198, 286n127 Special Organisation 36

and the Anschluss 175, 176, 179, 180

Spectator, The

and Armenians 40, 43

and Abyssinia 140, 141, 143

and Chanak 84, 87, 88

and the Anschluss 176, 177

and China 121–3, 159, 160, 167, 279n256

and China 160, 163, 164, 168

and First World War 21, 25, 31, 64–6, 90

and First World War 24

and Ireland 77, 79



INDEX Times, The continued

Vilna 55, 58, 59, 231 Voigt, Frederick 171

and Jews in Poland 46, 51–4, 60, 61,

Volk ohne Raum 174

254n237

Vos, P. 190

and Kristallnacht 186, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 200

Wade, Lieutenant-Colonel H. 51, 52, 54,

and Nazi Germany 95, 98, 107, 109, 113,

254n227

114, 145, 155–6, 171, 202, 204, 205, 209, 211, 214, 218, 221, 222, 231,

Walmsley, G. 100

267n253, 288n173

Waln, Nora 173

and Prague 201

Walwal 127

and Spain 149, 150, 153, 155–6

Wanping 158 War and the Private Citizen 12

Times Literary Supplement 91, 146, 171, 173

see also Higgins, Alexander Pearce

Todman, Dan 25

Warsaw Ghetto, 231, 288n169

Toynbee, Arnold J. 41, 83, 84, 123, 136,

Webb, Beatrice 282n25

252n199, 261n105

Webb, Sidney 55

Trades Union Congress (TUC) 85, 150,

Weber, Maximilian Karl Emil ‘Max’ 14,

155, 159

244n29

Treblinka 231 Treitschke, Heinrich von 14, 15, 28

Wedgwood, Colonel 55, 179, 261n105

Trevelyan, G.M. 19, 104

Weigall, Arthur 86

Tritton, J. Herbert 55

Weitz, Eric 35, 44

Troeltsch, Ernst 15

Weizmann, Chaim 51, 187, 218, 254n221

Truth About German Atrocities, The 24

Wells, H.G. 93, 113, 208, 221 Wels, Otto 96 Western Question in Greece and Turkey,

United Nations Declaration on the

The 84

extermination of European Jews 222,

What I Saw in Germany 173

232

What Is Wrong With Germany 91

United Nations War Crimes Commission

White Paper on German atrocities 202–3

217

White Paper, Russia No 1 61

Utley, Freda 159, 164, 165

Wilkinson, Ellen 141, 162 du Val, Patrick 101

Willert, Arthur 173

Vansittart, Sir Robert (later Lord)

Williams, Aneurin 39, 40

and Abyssinia 134, 138, 139, 144

Williams, Basil 79

and China 126, 168

Williams, R.A. 195–6

and Nazi Germany 107, 111, 206, 207–9,

Willoughby, L.A. 173–4, 282n17

212, 217, 219, 220, 221, 227–8, 234,

Wilson, Trevor 33, 65

288n173, 288n174, 288n176, 289n181

Wilson, Woodrow 118, 119 Winnington-Ingram, A.F. 28

Versailles, Treaty of 3, 7, 50, 52, 63, 74, 81, 89, 90–6, 106, 108, 110, 116, 118,

Winterton, Lord 191, 192, 193

145–7, 177, 201, 260n84

Wolf, John 172

Vichy France 218

Wolf, Lucien 54, 253n211, 254n234

Victoria, Queen 18, 34

Woodman, Dorothy 162, 171



B R I TA I N , G E R M A N Y A N D T H E R OA D T O T H E H O L O C AU S T Woods, Henry George 27

Yellow Spot, The 145

Woolf, Leonard 93, 196, 208, 266n229,

Yorkshire Post 131 Yoshida, Shigeru 158

289n179

Young, G.M. 195–6, 210

Woolf, Virginia 89, 99, 196, 266n229, 276n163 Wrench, Evelyn 97–98, 101, 108–9

Zeppelins 23, 28, 29, 270n16

Wright, Captain Peter 57–60, 256n276

Zionists 54