Monday, 27 January 2020

Hitler's British Traitors - Tim Tate

The Secret History of Spies, Saboteurs and Fifth Columnists - so says the sub-title, and that is exactly what we get, to an extent I have never come across in what is now forty years of sporadic research on the subject. Never before have I seen it spelled out just how dangerous the relevant Duke of Bedford was. Never before has it been made so absolutely clear that only ordinary people paid any meaningful price for their treachery. The rich, the landed, those with friends in high places, simply went through the motions of punishment.

In some ways I wish Tate had included a critique on the trial and hanging of William Joyce, Lord Haw-Haw. But I understand entirely why he didn't. Joyce wasn't ever a British citizen. He could not be a traitor to a country he never owed allegiance too, and his trial was a legal nonsense with lethal outcomes.

Tate is very good on the case of Sir Barry Domvile, the former head of naval intelligence, who may well have been the greatest Nazi danger to the UK. I have read Domvile's account and that of Sir Archibald Maule-Ramsay, the MP who formed the Right Club to keep British Nazism going after other Fascist groups closed down on the declaration of war. Ramsay was mad - even by the aristocratic standards of his day, obviously deranged - whereas Domvile was evil. Both were interned under Section 18b of the Defence Regulations. Neither was stripped of rank or title. The Duke of Bedford, who was prepared to finance and Nazi coup in Britain, wasn't even interned.

A scorching read, thoroughly recommended.

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