Saturday 18 July 2015

The Royals and the Nazis

Who wasn't tickled by this front page? Well, The Palace, obviously. They said it's "disappointing that film, shot eight decades ago... has been obtained and exploited". Disappointing? How so? It's not like anyone seriously believes the Queen has an attic full of Nazi regalia and goes to bed with a signed copy of Mein Kampf. And no one is suggesting that she is somehow culpable for what the Queen Mother and the execrable Edward VIII encouraged her to do. Those for whom sycophancy is the only appropriate mode for treating with and speaking about the royals should neck a bottle of chill pills. Relax, Elizabeth Windsor today remains the same patrician Tory who places herself above big P politics as she was upon her assumption of the throne.

What is, of course, inexcusable is the behaviour of the dear old Queen mum and the empty-headed simp Edward. The Sun tries its best to soft soap the pair, adding that the film should be seen "in context". That "no one" knew Hitler was a bit of a wrong 'un, and that these are just larks because "families of all kinds larked around apeing the stiff-armed antics of the faintly comic character". This is just so much poppycock. The 1930s had mass media. The press had international correspondents. You did not need to follow Trotsky on the rise of Hitler to know the Nazis were violent thugs who routinely attacked opposing parties (eternal kudos to those KPD and SPD comrades who replied in kind). It was also fairly common knowledge that the Nazis singled out and attacked Jews, were committed to tearing up the Versailles Treaty, and was bent on rearming Germany with a view to expanding its borders. For toffs like Elizabeth and Edward, liberal democracy, the rule of law, rights of minorities, and political freedom were so much collateral. Germany had a large and powerful labour movement that could, on paper, have swatted away the Nazis with a flick of its wrist were it not paralysed by internal fratricidal division and hobbled - at least in the SPD's case - constitutionalism. It was perceived as a latent threat to the prevailing social order and required putting in its place, hence why so many aristos and bourgeois-types in Germany and abroad broadly welcomed the Nazis' assumption of power.

As The Sun itself notes, the Queen Mother did her bit once the Luftwaffe started bombing London and arguably atoned for her earlier attitudes. Edward was later to scab on the war effort advising the Nazis to bomb Britain into a quick peace, and until his dying day remaining an unrepentant fascist and anti-semite. Small wonder the royal archives concerning him remain under lock and key.

In all, there's nothing especially new here - though The Sun were right to publish this because it is of historical interest. And comes as a welcome tonic to the usual grovelling and kowtowing we get from the press. In fact, it's Rupert Murdoch's sole redeeming quality that he finds the monarchy as an institution pretty appalling, though it's been a signal feature of his entire business career to put his own political leanings second to News International/News Corp's commercial interests. Apart from that, however, why have The Sun decided to splash on this story now? What's grinding away in the background, is there a surreptitious master plan at work here?

Nah. It's a scoop and it will sell newspapers, ensuring the currant bun features on news bulletins around the world. It needs it as the paper's web presence is but a fraction of its rivals. The Sun's army of readers conspicuously give it the body swerve treatment when they venture onto the internet. But the story will not be without its consequences for how the royals are perceived. Only the most deluded thinks Charles won't follow mummy to the throne - unless she outlives him. Nevertheless, we are reminded that the royals have their views about political issues. Whereas the Queen has always been discreet enough to keep hers away from the prying eyes of the public, Charles is not so fussed. By acknowledging the views of royals past, we may be preparing ground for a monarch who's openly opinionated.


Anonymous said...

I won't be using this article if I ever want to understand the rise of Nazism within Germany!

Phil said...

Neither would I considering this piece is about the attitudes of aristocrats in Britain toward the Nazis just as they came to power.

Boffy said...

A few years ago, there was a good documentary on TV that detailed extensively how Edward VIII, also as a British representative in Europe, had advised Hitler about where British and French troop placements were, which enabled Hitler to send his tanks through the gap, leading to the overrunning of France, and the British defeat at Dunkirk.

The British government knew about it, fumed, and sent him to the Caribbean, not in exile, or to be executed for treason and the deaths of thousands of British soldiers, but for another plush job in the sun. He continued giving information to the Nazis from there.

The argument that the Royals or anyone else didn't know what Hitler and the Nazis were in 1933 is, as you say laughable. Everyone knew from Mussolini's rise to power on the basis of organised thuggery what fascists were, Hilter had been jailed for the Beer Hall Putsch and organised thuggery by the Brown Shirts in the 1920's.

The second volume of Mein Kampf was published in 1926. What I find inexcusable is that its not just the gutter press that have acted as apologists for the Royals on this. Andrew Roberts who recently did a great documentary series on Napoleon, also appeared on TV, to put out this gibberish about people not knowing what Hitler was in 1933.

Presumably what he and other Royal apologists mean by this is - we knew that he was a fascist thug, who like Mussolini murdered trade unionists and socialists, and carried out progroms against Jews, gypsies, gays and whose ideas were a similar kind of medieval throw back in terms of women and society to those of the clerical-fascists of ISIS today, but we like Churchill and the Daily Mail, don't mind that at all, especially had he taken on the USSR as we expected. What we didn't know in 1933, was that he would instead turn all of that rearmament to attacking us rather than the USSR as we intended.

Its only this latter bit of one nationalism trumping another that the Royals and other sections of the ruling class are concerned with.

Gary Elsby said...

Phil, you forgot to mention the Hitlerist supporters who formed the leadership of the Labour Party at the very same time.
It is amiss of you.

Phil said...

Would you be so good as to fill us in, Gary?

Organized Rage. said...


Do you really believe Betsy's mum remained at Buckingham Palace throughout the war, or even throughout the Blitz? Please show some sense comrade. Two things I like about this story it's an example of Murdoch liking for revenge to be served cold, I wonder how much he paid for the clip?. It must have been an expensive meal.

The second is what a spring Blunt must have had in his step when he was asked in 1945 to go to Germany to retrieve the correspondence this Nazi loving family had written in the 1930s to their German relations.

If academics wish to look into this matter further the KGB archives might be a good place to start, perhaps the only place, for as I write one can smell the bonfire burning at the Royal achieve.

Reading today's papers, its a wonder some brown noser didn't claim the Windsor's were only following orders.

Doesn't it make you proud to be British knowing your head of state comes from this family in perpetuity ;)

Gary Elsby said...

Maybe we should look closer at Atlee, Cripps and Bevan.
Flirtations of Bevan with the 'New Party' and support of Moseley should be highlighted along with what appeasement actually means.
Known British Nazis wanted appeasement with Hitler and thoughts of only Tory appeasement meant Hitler support is rather weak.
Who got booted out of Labour?

For sure, post 1939 the place was littered with anti Hitler personalities, including Moseley, Bevan, the daily Mail, Lord Rothermere Car industry, big business etc....
None of them wanted Hitler.

Bob said...

Good article. Not sure you should be linking to David Irving's website, though. If you want a more neutral source for the "Queen Mum wanted peace with Hitler" article (no longer available on the Independent website) it's here:

Phil said...

And there's me moaning about journos not properly checking their sources ...

BCFG said...

"Doesn't it make you proud to be British knowing your head of state comes from this family in perpetuity ;)"

No its the endless war mongering to keep our global supremacy that really does it for me.

I don't think you will get the royals speaking in support of ISIS incidentally. On the uncouth natives of the Islamic state, that bastard child of Blairite ethical foreign policy and bloodthirsty imperialism, the Royals, the Tories, the Murdoch press and the British Trotskyites speak as one single and united voice of reason and civility in a barbaric world!

Gary Elsby said...

A huge clean-up of who said what happened post 1939 and certainly post battle for Britain
Churchill's relatives (Moseley and Diana Mitford) were released when the threat was over and everyone changed tack.
A thousand known knows were locked up, including MPs but the crucial part of this present debate is the timing.
Many Trades Unionists and MPs were complimentary of the Hitler 'corporate' plan for the economy and planning from the centre.
Mosleley and Mussolini were Fascists and not to be confused with Nazis who were proven anti-Semites. Of course, to court favour with the big guns, they both went down this route clearing all Jews out of their respective organisations.
Moseley was never linked to Nazi money and therefore escaped the noose.
There is a huge gulf of thought between 1933 admiration of a corporate plan to 1939-42/45 utter revulsion of the Nazi project and it shouldn't surprise anyone that the death camp policy was condemned worldwide by all classes.
Fascist organisations today don't promote death camps but instead offer central planning as an answer to all our non idealistic ills.
Appeasement was the favourite tool of both camps, one being pro Hitlerists who welcomed any invasion and secondly by the left who wanted no armaments to he used between the workers of both Germany and Britain.
They didn't want the workers to fight the capitalists wars by proxy (ho hum).
Appeasement is not a term that should be bandied around as though it was a sign of weakness when in fact it was Government policy.
Churchill routed them.