Lest We Regret

Lest We Regret




Lest We Regret 




Douglas Reed 












published: 1943 



Author’s Note 




Part One – Great Argument 


01  To Friends And Foes 

02  ‘Something Constructive!’ 



Part Two – Freedom Lost! 


  01  God’s Englishman 

02  Where England Stood 

03  Where England Stands 



Part Three – Freedom Regained? 


01  First Things First 

02  The Choice Of Enemies 

03  Whodunnit? 

04  The Re-education Of England 

05  Four English Freedoms 


Part Four – Battle In England 


01  In Civvy Street 

02  When The Boys Come Home 

03  When The Girls Come Home 

04  Snap! 

05  Peace, The Graveyard 

06  The Example Of France 

07  The House That Jerry Built 

08  Escape! 

09  The Example Of Germany 

10  ‘All Nazis And Quislings’ 

11  The Breed! 

12  A Tale Of Three Mothers 

13  The Children Of Israel 

14  On Holding Our Own 

15  Social Security 

16  Nineteen-Sixty Corner 







Kind Friends, Adieu 


















I would be grateful if people in many parts of the Empire, who have received no reply from me, would 

read this book as an acknowledgment of their letters, a token of friendship reciprocated and an answer 

to their questions. 

I was forced to choose between continuing to write books or entering into a correspondence so great, 

that it would have occupied all my time. Most of these letters share a common theme – anxiety for the 

future, however our victory in this war may appear – and this book is a joint reply to them. The clear 

road beyond victory, for which we long, is still not visible. 

That is why I chose for my title the words Battle in England, from a letter written by a young officer 

who served far away from this, his native island. The letter was not sent to me; it was quoted in the 

House of Commons. One sentence vividly expresses the thought that prompts this book: 

‘We still feel out here that the ultimate battle is being won or lost in England.’ 

And so it is. With victory, the battle for our future will only begin. The years 1919-39 are close 

enough for us to remember that. 

My publisher thought that the title I chose would confuse readers, who would expect from it a book 

about the military battle of Britain. The cover, therefore, bears another title: Lest We Regret. The 

theme of the book, nevertheless, is that ‘Battle in England’ which will have to be fought and won in 

this island, after the war, if our future is not to be lost. 

I have interpolated in the text several quotations from letters to me; they were so apt to my theme that 

I have used them to illustrate it. 

*** this PDF prepared by http://www.douglasreed.co.uk *** 



































Chapter One 


It is the land that freemen till 

That sober-suited-Freedom shows; 

The land where, girt with friends or foes, 

A man may speak the things he will. – TENNYSON 

Even good things come to an end, and this, gentle reader (forgive an outmoded salutation; to be 

abreast of the courtly times I ought to call you ‘sucker’ if you applaud me and ‘rat’ if you do not, but 

being a writer called rabid I love ‘gentle reader’), this is the last of the books with which I have goaded 

and coaxed you, one nearly every year, since 1938. This opening sentence gives any I may vex an 

opportunity such as comes only once and I make no charge for it. 

(But neither rejoice nor lament too soon, gentle reader. If you will allow me a moment to change my 

literary clothes, I shall soon reappear before you in another guise.) 

Of its kind, alone, is this book the last. It is the end of my modest foresight saga, which I began in 

1938 with a book called Insanity Fair. Great were my expectations then. Foreseeing this war, I 

thought I might avert it – with a book. O young man in a flurry! I foresaw then that little time remained 

before a thing might happen, which would leave this country the choice between capitulation without 

a fight and a war began in the worst imaginable circumstances for itself, and this thing was, the 

abandonment of a little country far away, called Czechoslovakia. Many chances to avert the war, were 

already gone; this one remained. 

To-day, those thunders of yesteryear dwindle, and Insanity Fair and its three children go their rounds, 

soon to be joined by this, the fourth and last. I did not guess, when I began, that I should write more 

than one book, or suspect how much personal satisfaction I should reap, in spite of the disappointment 

of the hope which inspired the original book. 

For the first time in my life, excluding the war service which I shared with millions of others, I cast 

from me thoughts of money, security, a career and the future, and acted from a patriotic impulse too 

strong to be thwarted. Yet the financial calamity I feared, like Shaw’s disasters, never happened: in 

place of the calling I reluctantly gave up, I gained a better; and I surprise myself by the pleasure I still 

derive from having punched on the nose the craven imp, ‘Safety First’, and said the thing I would and 

the thing I knew. In that listless England, I ‘did something’, the most I could, and if this was but a book 

which has now joined the legion of others it was mine own. If I could plant the seed of adventure and 

the ideal of upholding what you think right at all costs, in any youngsters’ minds to-day, by writing 

this, I should be glad, for I know that they would gain by it. 

Enough is enough. I gather that I do not bore others, but refuse to bore myself. Not for me, to outstay 

my encores (and I once saw even that happen, at the Scala in Berlin, when an English band leader was 

so clamantly applauded that he gave an encore, then two, five, ten encores, turning between each to 

ask ‘Do you want more?’ until the audience became silent, then restive, and finally called ‘No, no 


Prognostication is the thief of time, and I have other things to do. Because I believe our future 

salvation can only come from, through, or be taken from us by our Parliament, which robbed us of the 

last victory, I shall try to enter that building, where voices for England speak so seldom and so often 

for all else. When peace comes, I want also to go abroad and write of what goes on there, in the hope 

that the people of this country, if they are accurately informed, will not let themselves be hoodwinked 


But first, this book, the last of it’s line. It is a fitting finish to the logical sequence. Insanity Fair was an 

urgent warning of the imminent outbreak of war. Lest We Regret is an urgent warning of a greater 

danger, the approaching outbreak of peace. 

This statement was greeted as a jest when I made it to a luncheon audience in London. The English 

take their leisure sadly and like to beguile it by listening to a speaker with whom they disagree while 

eating food which disagrees with them. Between indignation and indigestion, they have a grand time. 

They pay much for a bad meal and nothing for a good speaker (the odd belief prevails that the hotel- 

keeper deserves payment for his wares but not the speaker). 

But this was no joke! To-day millions of people have their every want cared for; to-morrow, they will 

need to fend for themselves. To-day all have work; to-morrow, each will have to seek it. To-day the 

young people take no thought for the morrow; to-morrow, they must think hard for the day. To-day, 

all clearly see their task, to win the war; and think they see clearly how to accomplish it, by serving. 

To-morrow, they will wish to live in peace, found families and prosper, but will they see the way to 

achieve that? To-day is filled with the adventure of war; to-morrow will be filled with humdrum. 

Such, at least, was the last peace. It was not peace. It was worse than the last war, worse than this war. 

These words protest against being written, yet they are true. The last peace, which was to endure for 

ever, held for twenty years. Twenty years of mass unemployment, derelict areas, a decaying 

countryside, growing disbelief and despair; twenty years, during which the men who came back from 

the last war saw their victory wantonly thrown away, while the rising generation lost faith in the future 

and the new war approached. 

That was the peace of 1919-39. That is the world to which the boys and girls will return unless they 

make it different. 

That is where I and this book come in:  

Having a son, a fighter pilot who got his wings at the age of eighteen, and a daughter 

who, after serving as an A.T.S. private in a mixed anti-aircraft battery for twelve 

months, now has a commission, I have come in contact during the past three years with 

a great number of the ordinary rank-and-file of the young generation. I feel convinced 

that these intelligent, deep-thinking boys and girls are not going to leave the making of 

the new world to anyone but themselves, when the war is won. Because I feel this – 

having listened for hours to their endless talks and discussions about the things that 

matter (freedom, simplicity, beauty, love, and, above all, right thinking) – I wish with 

all my heart that you would write something to show that we have a belief in, and an 

appreciation of them and all they are doing. 


From a woman of Glastonbury. 

An inspiring text! What writer would not be fired by such prompting? This letter, and that from which 

I chose my first tide, set me to write Lest We Regret. The same hope inspires it that produced Insanity 

Fair. Though the war was not averted, the peace may yet be saved. I seek to help towards this by a 

book. For ‘these intelligent, deep-thinking boys and girls’, if indeed they ‘are not going to leave the 

making of the new world to anyone but themselves when the war is won’, will need to know, when 

they step into Civvy Street, what snares and delusions await them, how England was misled into a new 

war, and how England was misgoverned in the inter-war years. That is essential; good intentions are 

not enough paving for Civvy Street. 

The generation of the last war may thus come into its own – by telling its sons and daughters what to 

do and what to beware of and by saving them from another twenty years of creeping and paralytic 


Ever since we first went on two legs, mankind has been divided into those who seek to learn from 

yesterday’s disasters, and those who cry, let to-morrow take care of itself. If we were not born with 

organs of procreation, the wise men would be those of the second group, but as we produce children, I 

think them fools. True, Horace taught men to avoid inquiring what is to be to-morrow, Cicero thought 

ignorance of future ills more useful than knowledge, and the wisdom that Omar found in the wine cup 

was, not to fret about to-morrow. But the empires these busy thinkers lived in declined: their 

philosophy is that of the slave; its fruits are the knout, the galley and the concentration camp. For 

tomorrow becomes so quickly to-day, and we live twenty-four thousand days! 

I prefer a modern philosopher, by name Winston Churchill, who said, ‘the use of recriminating about 

the past is to enforce effective action at the present’, and ‘we cannot say the past is past without 

surrendering the future’. If only his practice kept to that precept! He now says, ‘the past is past’, but his 

first thoughts were better ones. For our future was surrendered once, by saying ‘the past is past’, and 

we were only saved as a man might be who is cut down from the gallows before he chokes. 

Our future can be surrendered again for that very reason. The present odds are, that it will be 

surrendered. None of the bad things that caused this war has been changed. ‘The past is past,’ said the 

culprits, and they surrendered our future. 

That is the first thing to have in mind when you start off, best foot foremost, down Civvy Street. 

Without understanding that, you can accomplish nothing because you do not know where you are 

going. You may be intelligent and deep-thinking, you may be greatly resolved ‘not to leave the making 

of the new world to anyone else’, but your resolve will be vain. 

You need not make a new world, anyway, but only a better one of this delightful planet, which offers 

everything a man could wish, and in particular of this beloved island. Your best years will be before 

you, if you make them so; they will be your worst if you surrender them to others. Youth, in my 

experience, is not a happy time. The best years are after thirty-five, when achievement begins. But the 

most galling bitterness is, to fight a good fight, to shape your career, your family, and your 

contribution to immortality, and then to find everything you have built destroyed by others. 

Down Civvy Street, lie 1950 Corner and 1960 Square, and they can be blacked-out, fear-stricken, and 

bombed, or gay, busy, and full of light and life. The one certain way to come to another Slough of 

Despond, is to say ‘the past is past’ and to surrender the future. 

So I now set out to make a map of Civvy Street, compiled from experience, for those who do not 

remember what befell before or know what to beware of. Will it avail? 

To me and a lot of other people you appear to have a lot of what are known as the right 

ideas. But it is perfectly useless merely to keep pouring books out about it all, for the 

very reason that you yourself have stated; that a certain freedom does still exist so far as 

the matter which may be published in books is concerned. The result is that much 

‘controversial’ language may be used and the effect on the public is made less as the 

years go by. You may have conquered the book world, but it really counts for little. A 

nice juicy book on sex would probably do the same. The pen is not mightier than the 

sword. The right voice in the right place might be. Why don’t you make a bid to go into 



From a Gunner officer. 

Keep on. You are doing more good than you think. You sometimes suggest that you 

feel a sense of wasted effort, in spite of the great circulation of your books. It is not 

true. The truth is taking root and spreading, and you have helped more than you know. 


From a woman assistant in a chain store. 

Who knows which of these views is right? It is irrelevant, because I believe in trying, and this is my 

present way of trying, and because some of those ‘intelligent and deep-thinking people’, when they 

enter Civvy Street, may prefer a fight for the future to the surrender of the future. 

For now, implacably, peace – with all its horrors, if it is to be the peace of 1939 – moves towards us. 

When it will reach us, none can tell, as this war is being waged. I think we could have knocked out our 

enemy in 1941, at that cataclysmic moment when the Germans were thrown back from Moscow in the 

middle of an appalling winter, and in every German mind tolled, like a double knell of doom, the 

thoughts of 1813 and Napoleon and 1918 and the Kaiser. If I could see any way by which we now 

might lose, I would hedge, but, short of an invincible resolve not to win, I can see none. Somehow, 

somewhen, seemingly much later than need be, we shall prevail, and then will come peace. What the 

end of that will be, if the ‘intelligent and deep-thinking boys and girls’ relapse into the apathetic 

indifference of 1919-39 I have foreshadowed in another book.[2] The question now is, how shall we 

avoid that?  

Our men in the Middle East are thinking and talking about their families at home, of 

what sort of post-war world there will be and what place they will occupy in it. 


From a broadcast by Mr. R. G. Casey, 

British Minister, of State in the Middle East. 

Well, they will have one advantage above all price, if they will but use it: the experience of 1919-39. 

In 1919 this book could not have been written because none suspected the hidden reefs on which the 

peace was wrecked, or dreamed of navigation so culpable that we should run on them. They are all 

still there, those reefs, but now we know them, and this book is meant to show them. 

It is meant to be a Baedeker of 1943-63, an itinerary of the coming twenty years drawn in the light of 

those other twenty years. I want to take the reader step by step, through the years after this war, 

showing him as he goes the pitfalls into which we fell in the past. In future, far more people than 

before, because of bitter experience, will closely watch foreign affairs; here is a handbook for them. It 

is designed as a chart for constant reminder of the rocks and shoals which, between 1919 and 1939, 

they did not suspect; or a road-map of these coming years, with the signs now in place (DANGER – 

CONCEALED TURNING – LEVEL CROSSING, – and the like) for lack of which the last peace was 


‘Freedom, simplicity, beauty, love, and above all, right thinking.’ None of these things will be waiting 

in Civvy Street. They do not thrive in wartime, they droop. They can be regained by people who are 

ready, not only to die for England, but even to live for England; by people who long for something 

more invigorating than a lotus-eater’s paradise of ‘peace and prosperity’, but also something less 

wasteful and stupid than war and austerity, every twenty years. 

The battles of this war, unhappily, are nothing. Think of the battles of the last; what do they mean to- 

day? The battle that means something, the battle in England, will begin when the boys and girls return 

to Civvy Street. 

When they have won freedom, once again, from the menace of foreign conquest, they will find much 

less of freedom at home than there was when they went away. Will they even fight to recover what has 

been filched? Politicians, leader writers, professors, magnates and managing directors begin to 

murmur, No, and to make plans accordingly. The letter from which I have taken my text, says Yes. If 

they do not fight, how ludicrous were these two wars.  

For Freedom’s battle, once begun, 

Bequeathed by bleeding Sire to son, 

Though baffled oft, is ever won 

says Byron. A strange man; a great poet who spent his fortune, his health and his life fighting for the 

liberation of Greece – which is again part of our cause to-day, and how valiantly the Greeks fought! 

His private love affairs so shocked the England of his day (and possibly would similarly shock the 

England of this day, where the people have thronged to see a play about the rape of a kidnapped girl 

by a maniac) that it declined to bury his body in Westminster Abbey (‘we know of no spectacle so 

ridiculous’, wrote Macaulay on this subject, ‘as the British public in one of its periodical fits of 

morality’). About a hundred years later, a Mr. Chamberlain, who compelled a small nation to 

capitulate to a predatory great one, was interred there. The moral of the story is that the English 

veneration for an alderman is eternal and unchanging. The questions it raises are: What is freedom, 

and what, morality? The comparison offers another illustration of the meaning of the battle of England 

to come and of the types of Englishmen between whom it will be fought. 

Enough of freedom remains in England still for me, in beginning to tell of this battle in England, to 

borrow Byron’s couplet:  

Without or with offence to friends or foes 

I sketch your world exactly as it goes. 















Chapter Two 


If we are to go together through the piping times of the new peace, gentle reader, we must understand 

each other. We shall not, if I say, ‘let’s avoid this pothole or pitfall, into which we fell in 1919, or 

1929, or 1939’, and you reply ‘Prophet of gloom, cannot you suggest something constructive?’ 

The Gadarene swine (which animals I hereby thank on behalf of generations of writers) were accosted 

during their headlong rush by a swineherd, who said, ‘Er, wouldn’t you be helping the peace effort 

better if you turned about and went the other way?’, to which their leader, accelerating, squealed in 

reply, ‘You are a destructive critic; can’t you sometimes suggest something constructive?’ 

Transform the swine into chargers, put British cavalrymen on their backs, send them galloping into the 

Valley of Death, and you have – what? An imbecile mistake, and a court martial of the senior officers 

responsible? No: that would be destructive criticism and recrimination. Instead, you say ‘the past is 

past’, surrender the future, and call it Glory. 

This is idiotic, and as a method, applied to the affairs of a great nation, it palls.  

… I was terrified of war, because first of our son and secondly of every other mother’s 

son. I believed Chamberlain and his party were doing all they could to prevent war – 

infuriatingly stupid of me and mentally lazy too, but few people had your opportunities 

of knowing and plenty of dope was given to us, but I swallowed the dope because I 

wanted to. I know that now. I would not face up to the sin and folly of ‘appeasement’. I 

hoped and hoped and hoped it would work and at the Munich time I honestly believed 

that Chamberlain’s effort was wonderful. I still think you are not fair to him. I said, 

thank God for Chamberlain. Lots of mothers and wives and sweethearts did. 


From an officer’s wife in India. 

The most staggering proof of human gullibility I know is the fact that the declining British birth rate, 

which was an ominous feature of the inter-war years, rose after Munich. It shows at least that the roots 

of decline lie in spiritual things, not in a small purse, and that only new hope, not cash inducements, 

can bring revival. People who seek the future after this war should bear that pathetic example of 

credulity in mind. It should cause them to study public affairs more closely, to watch, instead of 

indiscriminately idolizing, the politicians of the moment, and to remember that the things they are told 

are usually untrue.  

Anyhow, having said all that when everyone was applauding, now that he is dead, a 

brokenhearted and discredited man, when it would be so easy to heap blame on him I 

know I was an insignificant one of the millions who made it possible for him to carry 

on his appeasement policy, and I shoulder the blame with him and say ‘Please, no 

recriminations’. Churchill and Co. said ‘no recriminations’ a little bit because the old 

school tie code says ‘Don’t kick a man when he is down’. But I add, please tell us what 

we can do afterwards. I am sure there will be an afterwards of construction in Britain, 

though things are looking black enough out here and some of us may never see England 


From the same letter. 

The writer of this letter wishes to say ‘the past is past’ without surrendering the future. It cannot be 

done. I do not know the state of Mr. Chamberlain’s heart when he died. Discredited he was with me, 

long before that, and I said so as vehemently as I could, knowing that the most constructive thing he 

could do for England would be, to resign. But in what sense was he ‘discredited’ otherwise? He was 

high in the government, and would be to-day if he lived. He kicked Czechoslovakia and England’s 

honour down; but he was up. He benefited under the old school tie code, which is, don’t kick a man 

when he’s up. His associates are still high up.[3] 

How is anything to be ‘constructed’ if the foundations which were rotten are not to be repaired? The 

same men who smugly said after Munich, that ‘the humpty-dumpty Czechoslovakia, once knocked 

over by Hitler, could not have been set up again even after a victorious peace’, now tell us we fight for 

Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Holland, Poland, Belgium and Norway, and promise that all 

these nations shall be free. A jellyfish might as well hope to grow a spine, as this island to reach a 

secure future while such standards of loyalty and truth prevail in our public life. 

The condition of mind revealed in the letter I have quoted is our most dangerous enemy. Wishing will 

not make it so; thinking might, but such people refuse to think. They ask for ‘something constructive’, 

but really mean: Tell us that all will be well if we jog along in the old rut. It will not. 

Yet these people love England, and want what we all want: a better England and an enduring peace.  

You are very scornful of the old and we are old, but we are desperately anxious if and 

when we win this war that we should put all the energy, brains and goodwill left to us 

to make no mistake this time about winning the peace, and we know a good many 

others of like mind, if we could find someone to suggest a constructive policy that 

might help to make Britain a happier, more comfortable and less ugly place for ordinary 

men and women to live in. 

Who wants more than that? But we cannot have it without making those changes which our past 

disasters command. To hope that the same men, or their kind, and the same methods will win the 

peace, is to yield to the delusion which caused the birth rate to rise after Munich. The beginning of 

‘something constructive’ is to perceive that. Otherwise, you start out blindfold into Civvy Street. 

Incidentally, I am not ‘scornful of the old’. I have always been resolved to grow old one day, and 

should be foolish to abuse my to-morrow’s self from respect for myself of to-day. The oldness I dislike 

is a habit of mind, something given to men in their cradles in England. They are born old, these 

people. The damage is done a few weeks after conception, when father says, ‘Are you really, Joyce? 

By Jove, I must put him down for Manchester’. 

In that moment, another good man is lost, and a few months later another veteran enters the world. 

Hopelessly handicapped before he was born, he begins that long travail of qualifying for a pension 

which will take him, by way of a public school, a University, Parliament and the Cabinet, to the 

implacable oblivion of Westminster Abbey, where he will never be heard of again. 

Parental and pre-natal influences will ruin him. As soon as his aged mind begins to work, he will 

comprehend that, with or without merit, he will always move up because he was put down, for Eton. 

In the illusion that he is having a grand life, he will be hostile to all who were not put down for Eton 

because he will fear that they might raise claims for unmoneyed ability. Being taught from the start 

that his own upward progress could only be retarded if he were to annoy those above him, he will 

never kick anyone who is up. 

Such are the old men of all ages, who led us in the inter-war years, and still hold us in the grip of the 

machine they have devised, for monopolizing the machinery of government. 

To attack age as counted in years, is stupid, for the spirit is a sword which stays bright, if it be tended, 

no matter how shabby the scabbard becomes. Lloyd George’s last great speech, when he demanded the 

retirement of Chamberlain just before Dunkirk, was made at the age of seventy-seven; Shaw’s 

imaginary conversation between the King, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the 

time of the abdication, was written at eighty; and both of these reached the highest peaks of ability and 

intellectual vigour. 

True, we grow older as a nation, and should mend this, but an aged state of mind, not one of physical 

decrepitude, holds us in thrall. It is as prevalent in the young as the elderly. The three words, ‘fear of 

change’, best define it, and it is as common in the slums as in the mansions. But in the mansions it is 

more dangerous, for there the weal or woe of the slums is made. 

Consider Richard Hillary, a handsome young man who did not fear death, yet feared ‘change’! One of 

the few to whom so many owe so much, he rode gaily into the Battle of Britain, was badly burned in 

his aeroplane, as by chance was I in the last war, and has since been killed. One of our best, he wrote a 

good book about the war (The Last Enemy, Macmillan, 1942). A man of wit and valour. A man 

enlightened enough to make fun of the intellectual standard required of our rulers: he went to the 

university, he said, determined, without over-exertion, to row himself into the government of the 

Sudan, that country of blacks ruled by Blues, where his father spent many years. 

And yet! What a gulf was fixed between this man and his fellow Englishmen! ‘Apart from the 

scholars’, he said, he and his generation at Oxford came from the ‘so-called better public schools’. 

They were held together by ‘a somewhat self-conscious satisfaction in their ability to succeed without 

apparent effort’. (Given the pre-natal entry for Eton, neither ability nor effort are necessary for 

success.) To ‘the scholars’ (unless these came from Eton) they scarcely spoke; ‘not, I think, from plain 

snobbishness, but because we found we did not speak the same language’. Through force of 

circumstances, the scholars had to work hard and were ‘conversationally uninteresting – not that, 

conversationally, Trinity had any great claim to distinction’. 

How can a man’s conversation prove uninteresting if you do not speak to him? ‘The scholars’ 

conversation’, adds Hillary, ‘might well have been disturbing.’ His attitude, and his friends’ ‘might 

seem reprehensible and snobbish’, but he believed it basically to be ‘a suspicion of anything radical – 

any change, not a matter of class distinction’. 

You perceive, gentle reader, what the awful thing was that this brave, good looking and witty young 

man feared, what he meant by ‘anything, radical, any change’. He feared and meant an unmoneyed 

man at a university! The secret of our decline, which we have yet to arrest, is contained in these words. 

Hillary’s generation ‘knew that war was imminent’, and were convinced they had been needlessly led 

into the crisis ‘not by unscrupulous rogues, but worse, by the bungling of a crowd of incompetent old 


Yet the thing they feared more than death was ‘any change’ in the exclusive order which made such 

bungling not so much possible as inevitable! Then what do the survivors think to-day, when the same 

‘crowd’ rules? Is dislike of ‘the scholars’ still their overriding obsession? Are they still too suspicious of 

anything radical, any change, to save the peace? The ‘crowd of incompetent old fools’ were but the 

men who, a few years before their own time, similarly rowed their way into the seats of the mighty 

from the same colleges, who also did not speak to ‘the scholars’ because they feared ‘anything radical, 

any change’. Is this war radical enough for them? Would the collapse of the Empire or the conquest of 

this island seem radical to them? 

‘Mr. H. G. Wells’, wrote Mr. Winston Churchill once, was born in humble circumstances into an island 

community where great statesmen had broken down the barriers of privilege and caste, and where wise 

laws enforced by vigorous Parliaments kept open the paths that offered careers to talent.’ 

A strange statement! How many of the ‘open paths that offer careers to talent’ led men with talent, but 

without money and the public school and university qualifications, to office in Conservative 

governments between the two wars? The fingers of one hand would be enough to count them. How 

many such sit in Mr. Churchill’s own government (apart from the Socialist hostages)? 

Short of a governmental ban, which exposes you to that same ridicule which you invite the world to 

bestow on Hitler, you cannot keep down great writers, great artists and great composers. These are 

careers for which talent equips, which money will not buy, into which public schools and universities 

cannot force you. Men born to money seldom excel in these callings, and I think this is the reason for 

the English detestation of artists. True, suppression has been tried, by some of those wise 

governments: Mr. Churchill was banned in his day, a government veto was put on the ‘broadcasting of 

a dinner given to Shaw on his seventieth birthday, and for many years the Lord Chamberlain 

suppressed one of our greatest playwright’s plays, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, in the London which now 

flocks to see rape on the stage. However, only imprisonment or hanging can prevent a pauper, with 

pen and paper, from writing his thoughts, and Mr. Churchill probably accorded too much praise to 

‘wise statesmen and vigorous Parliaments’ when he suggested that, but for these, Mr. Wells’s novels 

would not have been successful. 

‘Something constructive!’ How difficult to offer anything constructive to minds so solidly cast in this 

mould, to minds which wish a building to be made secure while perpetuating the defects which made 

it collapse.  

I do want to ask you if your next book could be constructive for a change. Can’t you, 

with your enormous knowledge of the world and of the men and women in it, suggest 

how we may build up all our tomorrows on a happier and a better scale. I have read 

your last book with the greatest interest and with piercing amazement that such a state 

of things can exist – but it leaves you shattered, disillusioned, despondent. Is everything 

rotten? Surely there must be some good thing somewhere, some sound cornerstone on 

which we can start to build again? 


From a woman of Tadworth. 

For any ejaculation’s sake, gentle reader, forget this interjection, ‘something constructive!’, before we 

start out in search of 1953 and 1963, unless you really wish to construct something. No button exists 

that you may press to ensure great riches, a pleasant surprise, and a meeting with a dark man. No 

magic will secure your future without any exertion on your part. If a book can help, this one shall. 

Reject what I suggest, if you will (‘I don’t think it would work’ is being much used, Sir or Madam), but 

please do not listen to what I propose and then say ‘why don’t you propose something?’ 

For I have made all the constructive suggestions in their day. The two constructive suggestions, when 

I first wrote, were that we should avert this war by a military alliance with Russia and the most urgent 

and most substantial increase in our armaments. Either would have sufficed. Both were the official 

policy of His Majesty’s Government, repeatedly proclaimed by its leaders from the front of the stage; 

both were opposed and thwarted behind the scenes. That is the darkest mystery of our times and the 

greatest danger to our future. 

The many suggestions in this book all merge into that greater and paramount theme: the need to find a 

way to prevent future governments, secure in a great majority obtained by promising the people one 

thing at an election, from doing another after the electorsvote has been given

The words in italics contain the riddle of our past and the key to our future. I beg you, gentle reader, to 

study them; they are few and simple and both our to-morrows depend on your understanding them. 

After the last war, which left the graves of our dead ‘girdling the world’, to quote King George V, an 

Imperial War Graves Commission was set up. Its latest Report contains an eloquent sentence:  

Reports have been received of family or private graves where the first burial was the 

father killed in the last war and the second burial a son killed in the present war. 

I suppose the same thought will leap to everybody’s mind who reads this, that came to mine: who will 

occupy the third place in that grave? 

On this, our companionable journey down the years to come, we may meet, at 1960 Corner or 

thereabouts, the grandson of that father, the son of that son. I hope we may find him in good heart, and 

going cheerfully towards a secure future; I do not mean secure in the sense of so much a week or even 

of eternal peace, but of release from disillusionment, cynicism and trust betrayed, of faith in his time, 

his country and his leaders. I hope we may find that he has recovered the belief in honour, humanity, 

the dignity of man and the high motives of his native land which were taken from his father and 

grandfather, and that we may have helped to that.  

I was born in a Liverpool slum and spent six years in Canada. Age thirty, married, 

factory hand in Civvy Street, and the possessor of a burning desire to help improve 

conditions as I know them. I have followed fairly closely the situation that you describe 

and have a maddening feeling of impotence when realizing how little so many of us 

were interested in the powers that were shaping the things to come. I believe 

enthusiasm would not be lacking if enough people could be led to realize the greatness 

that could be Britain. I know of many who would gladly do all in their power to make 

or help make Britain really great, in the truest sense. The spirit of adventure is not dead 

among the English. Dormant it may be, but a lead in the right direction would resurrect 

the spirit of the pioneer. 


From an R.A.F. aircraftman in India. 

So, gentle and indeed beloved reader, unknown friend in many lands, sender of good wishes and 

tokens and gifts from near and far, sharer of the deep feeling for this country and its kindred countries 

overseas which caused these books to be written, here is ‘something constructive’. The blackout still 

holds us in its thrall, and not the physical blackout of this war, but the spiritual blackout from which 

our leaders, who might be possessed of demons, will not release us. Here is an attempt to throw a light 

into the future of  

This strange conglomeration of imbecility, genius, futility, achievement, paganism, 

Christianity, beauty and hideousness known as England. England! The very word is a 

poem, but how sadly and badly the metre has gone wrong and how truly the poets can 

rewrite it if only they wake up and apply their eyes, brains and hearts to organize 



From a woman of Reading. 



























Chapter One 


(to Adam Wakenshaw

What sort of people have we become in 1943, as we prepare again to return to Civvy Street? ‘This 

happy breed’, Shakespeare called us, in his inspired and enraptured panegyric about ‘This precious 

stone set in the silver sea, which serves it in the office of a wall, or as a mote defensive to a house, 

against the envy of less happier lands’. The events of 1940, when we waited in baffled surprise for the 

invasion which never came, show how precisely he told the truth even in his most lyrical moments. 

Because of his accurate portraiture, he must have been right, when he wrote that we were a happy 

breed. I think this was a happy land, when the lads and lassies danced round the maypole or gaily 

brought the harvest home, when the countryside was common to all and water pageants enlivened the 


The words do not fit to-day. Staunch, dour, dogged, suffering much and complaining little if you like, 

but ‘a happy breed’ we are not. The machines destroyed much of the beauty of our country and our 

way of life, and we have not yet found the means to revive it in spite of the machines: to make the 

motor-tractor and the garage and the factory as much part of a pleasant English symphony as were the 

plough, the barn and the mill. That is the goal we should set out to reach, in Civvy Street. 

We shared with the French the brunt of the first world war, and have borne ourselves the brunt of the 

second. Some fathers and sons already share one grave. The avid picture papers, those chattering 

parakeets in our dark jungle, show us other fathers, who survived that war, and their sons, serving 

together in this one. ‘Fighting for freedom’, we become daily more enchained by the bans and taboos 

which men who sit at desks devise because this ‘work of national importance’ is the industry by which 

they live, and they know no other way but this to feed their self importance, multiply their 

subordinates, puff out their authority, increase the paper mountain and prolong their sway. We move 

with dull resentment towards the Servile State, of forty million ciphers regimented by a million 


And yet the stock endures. After one hundred and fifty years of relentless misgovernment and two 

world wars, it is as sound as ever, and this depressing picture could be changed, by the wand of 

patriotic revival, as quickly as the transformation scene in a pantomime. 

With twenty despondent years behind them, their beliefs and ideals shattered by the contradictory 

words and deeds of a generation of politicians, with no light to guide them but their inherited idea that 

this island and the empire built by their forefathers should keep together and remain unconquered, 

these islanders, outarmed, outnumbered, ill-equipped, have fought a fight that should astonish the 

world when all the figures can be counted and all the stories told. 

Backward through Norway, Belgium, France, Greece, Crete, Malaya, Burma and Libya, always 

backward but never beaten; manning a bleak outpost in Iceland and garrisoning tropical Madagascar; 

holding the seas; smashing down the enemy in the air; it is a fantastic story, for these islanders are not 

very many and they have borne the brunt. 

Within a few months of Dunkirk, while our island still slowly repaired its defencelessness, the armies 

of General Wavell in Libya, and of General Platt and General Cunningham in East Africa, fighting 

always against vastly greater numbers, smashed the Italian empire and captured some 350,000 men. 

The decision to reinforce our armies out there, while this island was in such plight, appears staggering 

in retrospect. (Writing in an earlier book I gave too large a share, as good friends from the desert told 

me, to the Imperial troops, in those astonishing victories. When our own men return they will find that, 

since the Ministry of Information was set up, our information is meagre. Only long afterwards were 

the excellent official accounts published which showed the part played by men from this island.)[4] 

They are tough, these islanders. Not even the age of prosperity, the last century, which has so defaced 

and disfigured our land and warped our physique, has broken them. I remember them in the last war, 

in my own platoon – miners, bow-legged and squat from their labour, undersized, scarred by the coal- 

chips, dour and bitter in their slavery to ‘old King Coal, men whose forefathers were driven by theft 

from the good land they tilled and the good air they breathed. Their spirit should have been broken. 

They were unbreakable – and they were volunteers. 

To-day again the spirit of these men ‘wrests prodigies of valour from the wronged flesh’, as C. E. 

Montague wrote, who with relentless eyes described them: battalions of colourless, stunted, half- 

toothed lads from hot, humid Lancashire mills; battalions of slow, staring faces, gargoyles out of the 

tragical-comical-historical-pastoral edifice of modern English rural life. 

Between the wars even worse things were done to these men, so that the travelled Englishman was 

shocked by their appearance when he came home. The young Germans were physically far better: 

these were the ‘starving German babies’ of which we heard in 1919 (and shall hear again in coming 

years). The babies which really starved, from malnutrition of the mind, were the English babies; of 

them, a writer in The Times just before this war, who took the then fashionable view that much was 

admirable in ‘The Things’ which we now ostensibly fight against, said: ‘The contrast in physique 

between Englishmen and Germans between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five is amazingly in 

Germany’s favour.’ 

Of these British heirs of the years 1919-39 (the pitfalls of which we now strive constructively to avoid 

as we go through the Civvy Street of to-morrow) William Shirer wrote: ‘These prisoners were a sad 

sight. What impressed me most about them was their poor physique.’ 

Or go back to 1912, when an American, Price Collier, said in England and the English (a most 

sympathetic book about this country): ‘Look at the people who swarm the streets to see the Lord 

Mayor’s show and where will you see a more pitiable sight? The beef-eating, port-drinking fellows in 

Piccadilly, exercised, scrubbed, groomed, they are well enough to be sure; but this other side of the 

shield is distressing to look at. Poor, stunted, bad-complexioned, shabbily dressed, ill-featured, are 

these pork-eating, gin-drinking denisons of the East End. Crowds I have seen in America, in Mexico, 

and in most of the great cities of Europe; of India and China I know nothing. Nowhere is there such 

squalor, such pinching poverty, so many undersized, so many plainly and revoltingly diseased, so 

much human rottenness as here. This is what the climate, the food and the drink, and man’s rule of the 

weaker to the wall, accomplish for the weak. It is one of England’s ugly problems add deserves a 

chapter to itself.’ 

I could long continue with such quotations. They present a true picture, though long training for battle 

in this war has made an improvement in physique. These conditions were the result of bad housing, 

bad feeding, bad education in matters of health, and lack of opportunity for fresh air and physical 


Could anything be more constructive than the resolve, at the beginning of Civvy Street, to alter this? It 

is unworthy of us. We stand, at this moment, on a high peak in our history. Our reputation in the world 

was never so great. The prodigies these men have wrested from the wronged flesh have wiped from 

the minds of mankind the memory of Munich and everything that went before. 

Once more mankind looks to us as their hope in years to come, their only hope for a free life. French 

peasant women run to open the doors and let the light stream out, when they hear the R.A.F. (I 

remember looking down from my aeroplane on November 10th, 1918 and seeing the Belgians wave 

long-hidden flags to us.) 

The Serbs would not fight in their mountains, but for us. The Greeks, who with hatred in their hearts 

watch the Germans and Italians strutting about Athens, put their hope in us. The Hollanders rejoice 

when a British bomb destroys their factories. The Norwegians exult when a British aeroplane attacks 

Gestapo headquarters in Oslo. South American Republics loosen their relations with Germany and 

Italy because of us. Germany’s satellites, Hungary, Roumania, and Bulgaria, grope towards the safety- 

exit – renewed communications with us. ‘England’, they tell themselves, ‘will listen when we say, we 

could not help it, Germany made us fight.’ 

Never was such opportunity ours. Fresh from Germany, Howard K. Smith, in Last Train from Berlin 

(Cresset Press, 1942), says: ‘It is true to say that England has never been more popular on the 

European continent than she is to-day.’ 

Five years ago, at the time of Munich, it would have been true to say that England was never more 

unpopular. The change has been brought about, not by the politicians but by the fighting man from this 

island – the man, or his son, who after the last war was turned into the street when magnates closed the 

shipyards to eliminate competition, the man whom absentee mineowners threw out of the mines, the 

man who was paid thirty shillings a week for labouring from dawn to dusk on the land, the officer who 

was axed, the ex-officer who was forced to peddle vacuum cleaners. 

Is the opportunity they have won to be wasted again? At home, in this island, everything points to this. 

It is ‘constructive’ to demand that this should not happen and to propose how it can be prevented from 


In Retreat in the East (Harrap, 1942), 0.D. Gallagher says: ‘I would like to say now, talking as a South 

African, that in the eleven theatres of war where I have worked as a reporter in the past seven years I 

have seen no troops show such courage of various types as the troops from Great Britain. Whether it 

was fighting a hopeless offensive against impossible odds of men or material; whether it was fighting 

a disheartening, long delaying action without prospect of a single victory; whether it was in the mad 

heroism of a smashing attack to force a victory; whether it was courage in private matters, not 

allowing themselves to be worn down by nagging anxiety about wives or sweethearts left to their own 

devices at home thousands of miles away – whatever courage the war called for, these men found it 

within themselves. Courage is their birthright. The rather uninspiring man in drab clothes who filled 

the cities of Great Britain, who breathed air contaminated by industry, who nervously said, ‘O I beg 

your pardon!’ if he accidentally brushed against you in a crowd, is not the man he was. He is a tough 

guy now … see the square-jawed men of the Commandos, the sunburned men of the desert, the 

confident men of the air forces, and the men of the sea. They are the men of Britain reborn … their day 


A tribute true in every word save the last ten. Their homeland has not been reborn. The contrast 

between their fighting achievement in foreign fields and the spiritual anarchy in this island remains as 

incongruous as it was in the last war. At home, the spirit is still that of 1919-39. No single thing has 

changed, and Mr. Churchill, like all his predecessors, has denied the need for change by saying ‘the 

past is past’. Their day will not come unless they claim their heritage and fight a battle in England for 

it when they return. 

The shabby body they inherited, the tortured flesh, has improved through service. They can see to it 

that their children are not thrust back into that poor flesh-and-blood tenement which shocked visitors 

to this island. 

The men who bore the brunt, and who will return, are their own worst enemies. For the healthier flesh 

is still inhabited by the downcast spirit bred in the inter-war years. The antics of our statesmen in those 

years, the repeated breach of promises made to our own people, have left these men bewildered and 

loath to think or talk about ‘politics’ – a word which only means the nation’s housekeeping, their own 

welfare, and their children’s future. The two new forms of adult education which the last quarter- 

century has brought, and which none escape, though all should now train themselves to resist them, 

greatly helped to produce this spiritual ailment. If The Decline and Fall of the British Empire should 

yet come to be written, broadcasting and the films would deserve a long chapter in the story of the 

blame. These two have become instruments of mal-education and may do much to make the returning 

men yield themselves slavishly to another twenty years of delusion ending in a new war. Their reform, 

their liberation from alien and meretricious influences should be a first objective of the battle in 


This low state of mental health is a great menace to us in the coming journey through Civvy Street. If 

these men cannot nerve themselves to try and understand why the events of 1919-39 came about, they 

will surrender their own future, degrade themselves into voting-donkeys to be duped by the dangling 

of any carrot at election time, and plant the seeds of the war after this. 

The women of England could do much to rouse their men, when they return to Civvy Street, from the 

obscene apathy of the inter-war years and from the passion for being gulled which caused them to put 

on a performance of IdiotsDelight at the time of Munich and even to produce more babies. 

A war correspondent, Philip Jordan, writing from Tunisia about the British infantryman, said: ‘He is 

the greatest soldier in the world. In this war I have seen, among others, British, German, Russian, 

American, French and Japanese at war, and I have not the slightest doubt who is the best … the British 

soldier is the best, and best of all is the often forgotten infantryman … a lot of them are stupid men 

because of the environment in which they have been brought up, and their vocabulary must be the 

most limited in the world … they are men on whom the waves of twenty years of political unrest have 

broken and who, even though their average standard of intelligence is a disgrace to the rich country 

which underfed and now conscribes them, know more than their fathers did and have the same innate 

shrewdness … the modern soldier is a citizen, not always perhaps a very bright one’. 

All who have moved among our troops know the truth of this. The cult, or habit of ignorance is 

discreditable to men who fight so well, and will make them, when they return to Civvy Street, fair 

game and sitting shots for the unscrupulous, unless they can be moved to attempt the greatest 

adventure of all – the adventure of thinking, learning and understanding a little about their own affairs. 

I do not like the nationalization of the deity and am usually repelled by talk about ‘God’s Englishman’; 

Germans speak of ‘God’s German’, in Liberia people probably talk about God’s Liberians, and we are 

all supposedly God’s chillun anyway, Eskimos, Hottentots, and all, whether we wear shoes or not. 

But at the threshold of the future, let us give the name, for once, to an Englishman, Adam Wakenshaw. 

A good name and a good man. Take him as typical of the man England produced in these last twenty 

years, the man whose spirit even that England could not kill. 

After that last war, when the land for heroes was receiving its returning sons, Adam Wakenshaw ran 

about in Newcastle and sold newspapers. He wore no shoes, because he owned none. Later he became 

a miner, and when he was at work, lived with his wife and child just round Starvation Corner. When 

he was out of work, since he would neither draw the dole nor get into debt, he hawked things about the 

streets. When this war came he was called up, sent to Libya and, when his arm was blown off, 

continued to fire his gun at the enemy until he died. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross. When 

the Lord Mayor of Newcastle went to inform his widow, she was out, being gone to the Town Hall to 

ask help of the authorities in obtaining shoes for her seven-year-old son. 

The perfect short story! Like father, like son; England, from war to war! It even has a sequel. When 

the officers of Wakenshaw’s regiment announced that they would supply coupons and cash for some 

shoes, an official, that is, a man sitting in an office, announced that this would be An Offence. 

About 1955, we shall meet this boy in Civvy Street. He will be about twenty. I hope we shall find that 

he has always worn shoes, because they are necessary, in town life; that he has something in his head 

and never lacked something in his stomach; and that he enjoys, not so much ‘security’, but the feeling 

that his country likes him and that if he works hard he can get ahead. 

God’s Englishman! He is no picture-book hero, and unhappily he is better when he is told what to do 

than when he is left to himself, that is why he is good in war, ineffective in peace. He is the exact 

opposite of the independent-minded Englishman of legend. 

He has now a better chance than ever before, to make his own country, that sorely misused and misled 

land, worthy of the things he has done for it and of the almost divine renown he has won for it again in 

the eyes of all other Europeans. If he relapses into indifference when he sets foot in Civvy Street and 

we sink back to the depths we touched between 1919 and 1939, we shall not rise again. 

He can prevent that by becoming as good and combative a citizen as he is a warrior.  


















Chapter Two 


One glorious afternoon in October 1940 – what a golden summer and autumn that year brought, and 

what a waste! – I drove out of London to rid myself for an hour of the feeling of fear and taut 

expectation which lay over the city, as if vultures wheeled between a clear sky and a friendly sun and 


This was at the height of the London Blitz, a word which the Londoners borrowed from the Germans 

to describe the air assault. They were apter than they knew. Indeed, they were as wrong as they 

habitually are in the use of foreign phrases or the description of foreign things, for they took it from 

Blitzkrieg, and this term, which means war conducted with the speed of lightning, was only apt until 

Dunkirk. By the autumn of 1940 the war was clearly not to be a Blitzkrieg, and the Germans, ruefully 

realizing this, were already coining a mouth-to-ear jest to mock their leaders: ‘Es kommen sieben Jahre 

Blitzkrieg‘, or ‘We are going to have seven years of lightning war’. But as the word Blitz by itself 

denotes not only rapidity, but also something stabbing and striking from the sky, the Londoners chose 

the perfect name for their ordeal. ‘The Blitz’ cannot be bettered. 

The great city was partly depopulated, so many people were gone. The theatres were closed, and the 

restaurants that remained open were half-empty at night. By day, the sirens sent flocks of frightened 

people running in all directions. I shall not forget the afternoon when I walked through Hyde Park and 

an infernal din of guns and bombs suddenly shattered the air, and, before me, a man huddling a child 

to his breast dashed madly across the road to take shelter beneath – a tree! Overhead, twenty-two 

German bombers passed, slowly, low and in formation, and the barking guns rabidly strained to reach 

them like a pack in full cry after a fox, but they flew on, not one within my vision was hit. 

London still struggled vainly to cope with the destruction. The débris lay about for days, the streets 

were shut where unexploded bombs lurked. The blessed change which the spring would bring, was 

impossible to foresee; only increasing desolation lay ahead, you felt, and what would London look like 

in six months more? 

And in all minds, unspoken but clear to read on every face, was the thought: as soon as dusk falls, the 

sirens will sound, and then we shall hear that humming sound, and the first bombs, and the guns, and 

then the fires will bite into the sky, and the fire-fighters will go by, with their clanging bells, through 

the empty streets – we must get home before it starts! So; in the afternoon, the trek would begin, the 

great queues would form at the bus-stops, and others at the underground stations, and soon London 

would be empty as the grave. Life would stop and death would take its place. 

The sun shone on my native city, which thus waited for its nightly ordeal, as I drove through St. John’s 

Wood and Golders Green and Tally-ho Corner, and Barnet, which I remembered as a place still rural, 

whither I went bicycling in my boyhood, to spend rapturous hours at the ancient Horse Fair. I found 

again that London has no end. No matter how far I went, I thought, I would only come to more houses 

and more shops. 

Then I reached a place where the road ran between two old inns. One faced towards London, and by it 

I left my car. Then I walked across the road to the other. It turned its back on London, and on the 

further side was a little courtyard, with a great oak tree to shade it, and below that a rough bench, 

where the gaffers, once upon a time, would sit, with their mugs of beer, and talk, their day’s work 


None stirred. One moment, I was among the millions, the next, I was alone in the world. I sat on the 

bench and looked in astonishment at the scene before me. London was cut off as by a knife. Here, 

some super-human power might have intervened to say, ‘Hold, enough: London shall go no further’. 

The green land fell away in quiet meadows and woods heavy in the heat, to a hazy and shimmering 

horizon, many miles distant. Not a bungalow, not a chimney; only, among the dark curves of a far-off 

copse, the hard cone of a steeple, a landmark which the men from these parts, through the centuries, 

took with them in their mind’s eye when they marched away to follow Marlborough, or to fight 

Napoleon, or to be shipped, peasants driven from their acres, to Australia, or to seek freedom in 

Canada, or to trudge through the morass of Passchendaele. Clattering into the silence, like coins into a 

plate, came the immemorial sounds of the countryside: a hen clucked, a rook cawed, a dog barked. 

Perfect peace. The contrast between what lay behind my back and what lay before me cut so sharply 

into the imagination that it hurt. I felt like a man who sat on the edge of one world and looked into 

another. This could not be real: it was a vision. I would have liked to get up and walk into that vision 

and keep on walking and never turn back. 

The warmth of the old bench seeped into my legs, the gnats danced beneath the oak, and the film that 

town life draws over human eyes cleared from none as they refreshed themselves in that lovely scene. 

Here was a little fragment of the lost poem, England, not spoiled by man, not reached by war. During 

a century and a half, these fragments have become fewer and fewer, and further between. Sitting by 

the inn, for an hour, sunk in warmth and beauty and quiet and thought, I tried to reconstruct the poem 

from its fragments, to recapture the metre and the lilt….  

A nostalgic longing for a past that you did not know, an unreasoning belief that it was better than the 

present, is stupid. As men grow older, they think the old times were good because they were younger 

then. But a careful examination of those times, and a reasoned conclusion that much was better then, is 


That much was better in England, we prove by our books and advertisements and calendars. If we 

wish to show a foreigner what we understand by the word England, which stirs something deep within 

us, we seldom show him anything that England has produced since 1800 – unless it is a battleship, a 

tank, or an aeroplane. We take him back to what remains of ‘unspoiled England’ – to the old cathedrals 

and village churches, the manors and oast houses, the views which have not been ruined, and even 

(save for a few masterpieces about the genteel villadom which grew up during the last century) to the 

old poets and painters. We do not show him a factory, coalmine, derelict area, slum, a litter of inter- 

war Council homes, or a multi-storeyed apartment house. We built better then, before we somehow 

went wrong. England was merrier, and the breed happier. 

Where was that wrong turning? Among many causes which combined around 1800, to produce the 

things we see to-day, the greatest was the Enclosure of England, which altered our whole way of life 

for the worse, depopulated our countryside, bred our overcrowded cities, and changed a race of 

people, rooted in the land, to one of narrow-visioned townsmen who have lost their native lore. 

To-day, few people know what the word ‘Enclosure’ even signifies, though the thing it means has 

warped the life and fortunes of their land. The well-disciplined school-books tell them little. They are 

unconscious of something which affects every moment of their being. 

I did not realize it until I began to travel. Then, when I returned from abroad, I was baffled by the 

hedged-aboutness of England. I saw nothing like it elsewhere. Each time I came back, it puzzled me 


I could not tread my native heath, or go anywhere save by road – unless I travelled long distances to 

some spot yet free, like the New Forest or Dartmoor. In other countries I could strike out whither I 

would, right or left, when I left the town behind me. Here, barbed wire, railings, fences, hedges, walls, 

and trespassers-will-be-prosecuted boards met me at every turn. I lived, once, deep in the countryside, 

and for miles around was no field or wood which I might enter. On all sides was derelict land, but it 

was guarded as if it were Eden itself; I might not use it. 

‘Freedom’ is a jewel of many facets, and an important facet, though not the greatest of all, is a man’s 

freedom to roam and know his own country. That the road is so often called ‘the open road’ in 

England, is something of deep meaning. Only because all else is shut, do we need to lay stress on the 

openness of the road. In this matter, England is the least free country I know. 

This is the fruit of Enclosure. That anything so monstrous could be done to a country, at the very time 

when enlightenment and the lowering of barriers were in the universal air, with so little resistance then 

and so little realization of it now, is bewildering. Tennyson was out of date, or dealt in-dreams, when 

he wrote, about 1850, of ‘the land that freemen till, the land that sober-suited freedom chose’, for 

freemen no longer tilled it then. They were driven from it, by Parliament-sanctioned pillage, and those 

who protested were often sent to Australia as convicts! 

The rich men who did this hardly foresaw that factories would rise like mushrooms from the earth, 

during the century that lay ahead, or that these would rapaciously demand hordes of despondent men, 

uprooted from their native acres, to toil in them. They acted only from immediate greed. 

Yet they could not, had they known, by any one other stroke have done so much to produce that 

unhappy throng, crowding towards the towns, the coalmines and the areas subsequently to become 

derelict. They made the man of the tortured flesh and retarded mind, who nevertheless has given back 

to England, if England will but grasp and keep it, the leadership of the world in 1943; the man who 

soon will come back to the native land he may not own, unless he be rich, or till, save as a tenant. 

The same kind of people govern us now that governed us then. Their own governing motive is ‘deep 

suspicion of anything radical, any change’. Yet they brought about the most radical change in our 

history and the most disastrous in its effects; the face of England bears the scars, the breed the wound. 

The pretext, 150 years ago, was that Enclosure would redeem the English countryside from decay. The 

result, in 1939, was described by a British Minister of Agriculture. During a 200-mile tour of derelict 

farms, which left him ‘amazed’ (for, although his job was to know about the land, he did not know ‘that 

such a thing could happen in England to-day’), he saw hundreds of acres of one-time fat meadows and 

well filled barley fields choked with nettles and thorn bushes; he was told of fifteen thousand derelict 

acres in Suffolk alone; he saw the site of ‘a pleasant seven-bedroom mansion, where the owner once 

lived, but which has now disappeared, nobody quite knows how or where. People have taken it away 

piecemeal in motor cars, hand carts and perambulators’. On the other hand, he saw, during that tour, 

many more thousands of enwalled acres, empty parklands, reserved for the use of owners often absent 

and seldom active, where once were busy cottagers and thriving smallholders. 

To-day people become a little interested in their country and eager to know what has happened to it. 

They should study the story of Enclosure. When the whole trend of Europe and of the young 

American Republic was to liberate the masses of mankind from serfdom, when this universal impulse 

even brought about Revolution in France, a revolution in the opposite direction was accomplished in 

this country with the connivance of Parliament. It did not greatly stir the surface of the times, and has 

left hardly a ripple on the conscious mind of Britain! 

At the very moment when enlightenment was dawning, this kind of argument was used to support the 

theft of the land: ‘The use of common land by labourers operates upon the mind as a sort of 

independence … when the commons are enclosed, the labourers will work every day in the year, their 

children will be put out to work early, and that subordination of the lower ranks, of society which in 

the present times is so much wanted, would be thereby considerably secured.’ 

More than half the cultivated land of England, before Enclosure, was farmed on the common-field 

system, and the landless farm labourer was hardly known in the villages of England. Compare what 

these men, whose land was to be taken from them, themselves thought about it, and the picture they 

painted of the future, with the arguments advanced in excuse of it and with the actual results:  

The Petitioners beg leave to represent to the House of Commons that a more ruinous 

Effect of this Inclosure will be the almost total Depopulation of their Town, now filled 

with bold and hardy Husbandmen, from among whom, and the Inhabitants of other 

open Parishes, the Nation has hitherto derived its greatest Strength and Glory, in the 

Supply of its Fleets and Armies, and driving them, from Necessity and Want of 

Employ, in vast crowds, into manufacturing Towns, where the very Nature of their 

Employment, over the Loom or the Forge, soon may waste their Strength, and 

consequently debilitate that great Principle of Obedience to the Laws of God and their 

Country, which forms the Character of the simple and artless Villagers, more equally 

distributed through the Open Countries, and on which so much depends the good Order 

and Government of this State. 


From a petition against enclosure by the inhabitants 

of a Northamptonshire village, 1797. 

A gruesome glimpse of the century and a half that lay ahead! 

About a fifth of the total acreage of England was enclosed between 1760 and 1840, and the old village 

community of freemen (freeholders, tenant farmers, cottagers and squatters) all sharing rights to 

common land, which went back to our earliest history in this island and which neither Romans nor 

Normans destroyed, was broken up. Until that time, any man might hope, by his own labour, to 

acquire property and rise in his village. From that time, we inherit the most unhappy of beings, the 

landless farm labourer. 

What was Enclosure? Often it was simply a petition to Parliament bearing the signature of one big 

landowner for authority to put a fence round some piece of land until then shared by all. For long, he 

was not obliged even to inform his neighbours of their impending eviction! 

Thus was Westcote in Buckinghamsire, enclosed in 1765 on petition of the most noble George, Duke 

of Marlborough; Waltham, Croxton and Braunston, in all five thousand six hundred acres, in 

Leicestershire, by the Duke of Rutland and the local parson in 1766; and hundreds more. The 

smallholder’s only hope of succour was to reach and move the heart of a Parliament packed with great 

landowners and as distant from and daunting to himself as the Court of the Last Judgment. 

In Parliament these petitions were laid before Committees of Members from the districts where 

Enclosure was proposed – the cronies of the petitioner! Often, petitions affecting the enclosure of 

thousands of acres, and the fate of hundreds of freemen, were rushed through in a week or two. 

Parliament passed an Act giving the Duke of Leeds power to work mines and get minerals, from the 

land thus to be confiscated; how ignoble, in view of that beginning, was the indignant debate in the 

House of Lords in May 1938, when the proposal was made to reconvey to public ownership the coal 

that lies beneath our once fair countryside. In that debate, a noble Marquess, complaining of 

‘disadvantages in the democratic principle, one of which is apparent now’, fervently upheld ‘the 

sanctity of private property’! 

‘Sanctity’, the dictionary says, means ‘purity, inviolability, holiness, sacredness, solemnity.’ 

Thus did dukes and squires put fences round commons or waste land, a vast expanse containing 

villages and cottages and land formerly shared by all. What remains of the English village of old 

shows that it was the flourishing home of a thriving and hopeful community. When the land was 

enclosed, ‘consent’ was only needed from proprietors! The cottagers and squatters who did not own

but yet enjoyed freemen’s rights to the land from days before the Druids, were overridden roughshod 

and evicted. 

Indeed, this was, a hundred years before its time, the Soviet system of confiscation, used by big 

landowners (instead of officials calling themselves ‘the State’) against the ‘freemen who tilled the soil’.  

It was not infrequent to decide upon the merits of a Bill which would affect the 

property and interests of persons inhabiting a district of several miles in extent, in less 

time than it takes me to determine upon the propriety of issuing an order for a few 

pounds by which no man’s property could be injured. 


Lord Thurlow, Lord Chancellor of England, in 1781. 

The manner in which a large part of England was taken from the many and enclosed by the few was 

simple and is staggering to look back on. Recent history contains nothing to compare with it. A 

petition was ‘accepted’; that is, the petitioner’s friends in Parliament passed it for him. Then, 

Commissioners, who were appointed by the Enclosers even before they presented their petition to 

Parliament and were often the lord of the manor’s own bailiffs, arrived to put a fence round that 

‘certain proportion of the land which has been assigned to the lord of the manor in virtue of his rights 

and the owner of the tithes’. The power of the Commissioners was absolute. This happened in the 

England in which Pitt was Prime Minister, who declared ‘it is the boast of the law of England that it 

affords equal security and protection to the high and low, the rich and poor’. 

Thus were men who, like their forefathers, for a thousand years, enjoyed the right to till and use the 

land, driven overnight from it by Act of Parliament. Very rarely, and then usually by chance, a 

Member tried to check the worst abuses. For instance, Sir William Meredith in 1772 proposed that the 

assent of a Committee of the whole House should be made necessary before a clause was put in any 

Bill to make ‘an offence’ punishable by death: he accidentally overheard the lord of the manor and his 

friends, in a Committee room of the House, unanimously agree to insert in the Bill, which would make 

law of their own pet petition, a clause making opposition to it a capital offence! 

The real motive behind the Enclosure Acts (as distinct from the professed ones of patriotic concern for 

the future of English agriculture and the welfare of the countryfolk) is vividly revealed in the Carlisle 


This publication contains the letters of one George Selwyn, M.P. He was Chairman of the House of 

Commons Committee which considered, and reported in favour of a petition for the Enclosure of 

King’s Sedgmoor, in Somerset, in 1775. This land, said the selfless petitioners, was of little value in its 

then state, but could be greatly improved by enclosure and drainage. A Bill was accordingly prepared 

by a Mr. St. John, brother to that Lord Bolingbroke who coveted the land in question, and it was 

approved by the Committee of which Mr. Selwyn was chairman. 

The truth of the transaction is exposed in Selwyn’s public letter to Carlisle: ‘Bully has a scheme of 

enclosure which, if it succeeds, I am told will free him from all his difficulties … I cannot help wishing 

to see him once more on his legs.’ And again: ‘Stavordale is also deeply engaged in this Sedgmoor bill, 

and it is supposed that he or Lord Ilchester, which you please, will get two thousand pounds a year by 

it. He will get more, or save more at least, by going away and leaving the moor in my hands, for he 

told me himself the other night that this last trip to town has cost him four thousand pounds.’ 

Faro was played for high stakes in those days. The letter shows clearly that Selwyn was as little 

interested in the salvation of Sedgmoor by drainage, as he was in ploughing up the moon. He meant to 

help his friends, who would help him if he needed help, or were in debt to other friends; for Bully was 

in financial trouble and Stavordale owed money to Fox, who owed money to Carlisle. 

Thus were the common lands of England shared out round the gaming tables of Piccadilly and St. 

James’s. Thus were the high walls and tall fences built, which meet the wayfarer’s eye when he leaves 

the English village in search of the English countryside to-day. The Parliament was one of landlords; 

its permanent officials pocketed about £120,000 in fees in fourteen years for assisting the Enclosure 

Bills through; where, at Westminster, was the English freeman to find a friendly care ‘The sacred 

rights of property’ counted for nothing when the property was the poor man’s mite. Said the despoiled 

English countryman: ‘Parliament may be tender of property; all I know is, I had a cow and an Act of 

Parliament has taken it from me.’ 

The ‘freeman who tilled the soil’, the man who inherited from immemorial times the right, if he could 

buy, build or rent a cottage, to enjoy the use of commonly-held land, the small farmer, cottager and 

squatter with a title, unwritten but rooted in antiquity, to a share in his native soil: all these were left 

the choice between becoming hired farm labourers, seeking work in the towns, or emigrating.  

Go to an alehouse kitchen of an old enclosed country, and there you will see the origin 

of poverty and poor rates. For whom are they to be sober? For whom are they to save? 

For the parish? If I am diligent, shall I have leave to build a cottage? If I am sober, shall 

I have land for a COW? if I am frugal, shall I have half an acre for potatoes? You offer 

no motives; you have nothing but a parish officer and a workhouse! Bring me another 


To-day, we hear that State doles ‘will destroy the spirit of adventure’. It was destroyed then, when 

‘cottages were pulled down as if by an invader’s hand, and families that had lived for centuries on the 

land were driven out. Ancient possessions and ancient families were swept away’. 

But this first consequence was not the worst consequence’. The ultimate result was still more 

disastrous. Enclosure killed the spirit of a race. The petitions against it which are buried in the 

Journals of the House of Commons are the last voice of village independence. The unknown 

commoners who braved all threats and sent their vain protests to the House of Commons that obeyed 

their lords, were the last of the English peasants. Such as they were in Gray’s mind when he wrote of 

‘some village Hampden that with dauntless breast the little tyrant of his fields withstood’. 

Thus was merry England killed and joyless England born. How sardonic a jest that the house called ‘of 

Commons’ should have destroyed the English commons! And how mocking a paradox that John 

Yeoman, when he went to fight ‘for freedom’ against Napoleon, should already have lost the second 

cornerstone of freedom: the right to enjoy his native land. (Of the first cornerstone we will talk in the 

next chapter, gentle reader.) 

Alone among the men he fought with or against, he was deprived of that. The French and the Germans 

both have it to this day and are never likely to lose it. (The Germans under Hitler passed an Act 

making farm-holdings hereditary and inalienable and no future German government, unless it be one 

under alien influence, is likely to tamper with this.) 

Thus John Yeoman was, in this respect, the least free of all the men who fought Napoleon. (In 1854 he 

was sped to the far Crimea with talk of giving back his commons. ‘Commons for Heroes!’ When he 

returned, no more was heard of that. By the time John Yeoman, clerk, mechanic, unemployed miner, 

came to fight for freedom in 1914 and 1939, he no longer remembered that he ever was a yeoman, and 

this kernel of freedom was not even mentioned among ‘The Things’ he fought for.) 

Thus the year after Waterloo saw bread riots and the firing of ricks and barns. The English began to 

emigrate, and the enclosing squires began, in Parliament, to pass laws against poaching. The common 

lands became the stupendous game preserve which they now are. About the time John Yeoman was 

told that he would be enslaved if Napoleon landed in England, Parliament fixed the penalties for 

poaching at hard labour, flogging, or transportation. In the year following Waterloo, when freedom 

was made safe for a century, a Bill went through Parliament, without debate, which imposed the 

maximum penalty of transportation for seven years on any person found unarmed but with a net for 

poaching in enclosed land; and in some of the subsequent years one in seven of all criminal 

convictions in England were convictions under these Game Laws! 

In my council-school days, in London, I was mistaught that Australia was first colonized by British 

‘convicts’, and consequently regarded the first Australians I met, in France, with awe and respect. So 

subtle is the poison which still runs in our veins from those times. For what was the crime for which 

many of those men who were shipped oversea were convicted? That they sought to defend their 

ancestral right to live, work and eat! By no twisting of the human code did they do wrong. They were 

of our best. 

Because that spirit lives on in their descendants of to-day, these are freer in their being and bearing 

than we. Because of that inherited passion for freedom, they spring so quickly to our side when we are 

in danger. They still are freemen of the land; they may go or farm where they will. They think they 

inherit this from us and love us for it. They do not realize that we have lost something so precious, or 

that this loss causes the caged, restrained, inhibited manner which the Englishman has come to wear. 

Just after Waterloo, thousands of these dispossessed husbandmen were sent to Australia, many of 

them boys under eighteen, and some of these for life. Who sent them? The enclosing squires, jealous 

of their pheasants, were also magistrates and sentenced them. Of these benches Lord Brougham said, 

‘There is not a worse constituted tribunal on the face of the earth, even that of the Turkish Cadi’. Any 

who used arms in their defence, when attacked by gamekeepers, were hanged. 

Ah, that was an England, when, midway between Trafalgar and Waterloo, Romilly carried a Bill 

through the Commons to abolish the death penalty for the theft of five shillings – and in the House of 

Lords the Archbishop of Canterbury and six other bishops helped to reject it! But no doubt that 

archbishop was strong on the subject of Sabbath observance. (The Son of Man, should He come to 

earth again, would often fail to recognize his disciples.) 

In 1943 we fight again ‘for freedom’. England is a great enclosed park sprinkled with suburbs – for the 

villages, bereft of their ‘bold and hardy husbandmen’, have become small samples of the big towns. All 

the other peoples who fight with us have the thought of their land, their native acres, at the core of 

their motives, and all will return there. John Yeoman alone will not. 

In 1942 an all-wise government admonished us to ‘spend our holidays at home’, and since we might go 

hardly anywhere else, the advice was easy to follow. For many people this meant confinement to the 

kitchen parlour, for if they might not go to Blackpool or Southend, only the street, the pub, or the 

berailinged local park remained. The countryside, even if they could reach it, was closed, save for our 

dear open road. 

The patriotic stop-at-homes, however, were promised as reward, ‘ample facilities for out-door 

recreation’. But that very thing has been lacking since Enclosure. So the Minister of Agriculture 

‘appealed’ to landowners, and particularly to ‘owners of mountains and moorlands’, to ‘permit 

reasonable access to their property’. The modest man’s life, limb, property and family were at the 

unrestricted disposal of the Government. Only this humble request could be made to the present-day 

successors of the squires who enclosed. Whether any Englishman trod a mountain or moor as a result, 

we may safely doubt. 

For fifty years, in this free country, a Bill to gain for the descendants of John Yeoman ‘access’ to his 

native mountains was regularly thrown out by Parliament. In 1939 it was suddenly allowed to become 

law – but in such a form that in practice nothing has been changed; and during the war enclosure and 

restriction have been carried even further. 

The emperors of Austria were also archdukes and counts of so much else that their titles filled a page. 

The grandees of Spain decked themselves in flowery chains of titles. Oriental potentates call 

themselves the Son of God, Daughter of the Moon, Lord of this, that and the other. I know no title so 

grandiloquent and arrogant as, ‘Owner of Mountains and Moorlands’. 

In this country you may ask an ordinary looking man his calling, and he may reply, ‘Oh, I own 

mountains and moorlands’. And if you then say, ‘Sir, what of that humble, forlorn, impoverished and 

sickly looking fellow over there? Would you permit him briefly to use one of your mountains – not a 

big one, of course, but one of your smaller and partly worn mountains?’ he will answer, ‘Not on your 

life, Sir. I am putting a railing round it’. 

When the South Africans may not climb Table Mountain, or the Australians be forbidden to use 

Sydney Beaches, they may realize how confined we have become since Enclosure. Consider this 

picture of conditions near two of our greatest cities, from an article on the Access to Mountains Bill by 

Professor Joad:  

A person visiting the Central Station at Manchester on a sunny Sunday morning might 

well suppose that the city was in fear of invasion, and that an exodus of refugees was in 

progress. He would be wrong. Looking closely, he would see that all the supposed 

refugees were reasonably young and vigorous; in fact, they were not refugees at all, but 

only ramblers escaping from Manchester. From 7.30 onwards the station is alive with 

them. Rucksacks are piled on the platforms; hobnails clink on the stone; sandwiches 

bulge from the pockets of tweed coats. By half-past nine the station is empty; the trains 

have taken them away to Edale and Chinley for a day on the Derbyshire moors. From 

each of the great northern towns there is a similar exodus. It is, I submit, impossible not 

to regard this exodus with approval. Taking them by and large, our northern industrial 

cities are the ugliest agglomerations of brick and mortar with which mankind has ever 

defaced the surface of the earth, fitting monuments to the mean spirit of trivial profit- 

making which engendered them. For a hundred years men and women stayed in these 

places because they must, worked in them, played in them, and on Sundays, when piety 

forbade games, lounged in their streets and waited for the pubs to open. To-day biking 

has replaced beer as the shortest cut out of Manchester. 


Between Manchester and Sheffield there are some 215 square miles of moorland. A 

great belt of spacious country, empty save for a few moorland villages. Some parts, as 

where Kinderscout raises its ugly head some two thousand feet above sea level, are 

grim and bleak: others are a spread of bracken and purple heather cleft by deep valleys 

with fast-running streams. This country is in the highest degree exhilarating; it tones up 

both spirit and body and, appropriately, it lies in the heart of the most thickly populated 

area in England – stretching on the east to the gates of Sheffield and the urban 

agglomerations which sprawl over the south of Yorkshire, on the west almost to 

Manchester and the teeming populations of the cotton towns. It would be difficult to 

imagine a more admirable playground for these close-penned city folk, as invigorating 

as their towns are depressing, as wide as they are cramped, as beautiful as they are ugly. 


Yet of the total area all but 1,212 acres is closed to the public; 109,000 acres are in 

private ownership and sacred to the preservation of grouse; 39,000 acres are owned by 

local authorities some of whom mysteriously debar the citizens whom they are 

supposed to represent, from access to the land of which, as citizens, they are owners. 

Over all this stretch of country the hand of the keeper lies heavy. Walkers are frowned 

at by notice boards and everywhere trespassers will be prosecuted. On Sundays 

hundreds of walkers are carefully shepherded along the public footpaths. In the whole 

district there are only twelve of these which are over two miles in length, and on fine 

Sundays you will see a continuous file of walkers following one behind the other for all 

the world as if they were a girls’ school taking the air in ‘crocodile’. 

What a picture! I know no country which can offer one distantly comparable with it. 

Enclosure has produced results worse even than those which the ‘bold and hardy husbandmen’ 

foretold. Nowadays this dog-in-the-manger disease is not confined to the group with which it began. It 

has spread through the whole community. Every little local Bumble’s ambition is to put a railing round 

something; it makes him feel important, and he encloses the pieces of greensward, the public parks, 

which alone remain to the English from their great heritage of commonly-shared land. Hence our 

fortified parks, an English monopoly; anywhere else it would be thought mad to put a hideous iron 

fence round that which is meant for all. Consider this ludicrous picture from the daily press:  

Though railings surrounding Ashton Park, Preston, have been removed for war 

purposes, the gates are locked at night. Boys collect at closing time and tell the park 

keeper not to lock himself in. But it is no joke. It is a formality that must be carried out 

so that the town does not lose its rights of closure when the park is enclosed again. 

‘The town’ must not lose ‘its rights’! What is the town but the townspeople? Who but they have rights 

in the park, the last place they may go to? why must it be enclosed? 

But the thing goes even further. It leads to the enclosure of the little squares in which London 

abounds, places which might relieve much of the surrounding ugliness. They, too, were imprisoned, 

and behind a curtained window a watchman, the representative of the ‘Committee of Management’, 

kept jealous watch to see that no child played on the grass or puppy on the paths. 

Came the war, and the railings were removed. New the Committees, resolved to have these 

monstrosities restored immediately peace breaks out, complain in the newspapers of the affront done 

to those who ‘pay for the upkeep’ (a shilling a week from each householder) by the sight of citizens 

using the paths or sitting on the seats in a warm noonday hour. 

The mania has infected the very descendants of those who were driven from the land. The 

Englishman’s ambition seemingly is to acquire a little house and garden and enrail it. The railing keeps 

nothing out and nothing in. The dog jumps over or squeezes through; the burglar steps across. But the 

sight of his railing apparently makes the Englishman feel, in a small way, like those who benefited 

from the great Enclosures, like a little lord of the manor. ‘Freedom’ is come to mean, to him, the liberty 

to imprison himself. 

Enclosure, I wager, is chiefly to blame for the way the Englishman has enclosed his spirit. He moves 

through the old books and tales as a man, forthright, plain-speaking, independent, intolerant of petty 

oppression. Nowadays he encloses himself; he immures his spirit; his instinct is to repress his 

emotions and his thoughts; he hedges. And ‘to hedge’ is the precisely apt word. He is enclosed.[6] 

Such are the effects of Enclosure, and they grow ever worse. The few who profited claim that all has 

been for the best. The Marquess of Salisbury, in propounding Post-War Conservative Policy

affectionately quotes another peer, Lord Stamp, as ‘showing’ that ‘the average man at the end of the 

nineteenth century had become four times as well off as his predecessor at the beginning, and the same 

development has continued into the twentieth century, including the decade before the present war’. 

Medical records, certainly, show that we are far healthier than we were. But the argument collapses 

when the infallible test is applied. We have ceased to multiply. Englishmen no longer wish, as their 

forefathers wished, to bring many children into a world in which they will be four times as well off. 

For many years, even after Enclosure, we increased exceedingly. Belief in the world, and faith in the 

future, were hardy plants, not easily discouraged. Now, they droop. 

Does any sign offer that, after this new world war for freedom, a spirit of freedom will prevail; that the 

land will be liberated, at least that part which once was commonly shared; that an Englishman will be 

free to climb a mountain? For Enclosure only works one way. The small man’s fence will not avail 

him if the squires wish to hunt across his acre. Remember the Devonshire man who twice asked the 

fox hunters to keep off his poultry farm, where he sought to make a living. ‘Silly, futile and 

unreasonable’, his request was called, and when he shot a hound he was prosecuted and heavily fined. 

To-day, under the threat of starvation, the English countryside thrives again within its Enclosure. No 

scrap of land that will grow food must be wasted, we are told. 

The fox destroys much food. It could be quickly exterminated. Hunting has never exterminated the 

fox. It is not meant to. It is the pastime of the wealthy and the foxes are jealously preserved for it. The 

Minister of Agriculture was asked ‘whether he was satisfied that foxes were being as rapidly and 

economically exterminated by foxhunting as they could be by any other method; and, if not, whether 

he would instruct masters of foxhounds that they must either show better results or cease to operate 

during war time?’ 

Listen to the reply: ‘The answer to the first part of the question is, Yes; the second part therefore does 

not arise.’ 

The history of Enclosure shows that the English squires were the first Bolshevists. They were Reds. 

They seized the land of others. It was the most galling and debilitating thing ever done to the English 

spirit. It is vain to think of ‘constructing’ a better England after this war unless the causes of our 

present plight are first realized. This is foremost among the things that should be changed. 

Of our two great parties, the Labour Party behaves towards this paramount question as a tame elephant 

might behave to a wild tiger. The other Party, which alone is politically vigorous, is directly descended 

from the enclosing squires, with their faro debts, and has not changed its mind since 1800. 

The Marquess of Salisbury’s Post-War Conservative Policy puts its heaviest veto on ‘the 

nationalization of agriculture’. Well, this Party took the land which was not theirs. That part of 

England, if they could ever look beyond class, they would liberate; they would still hold enough, the 

bulk. That would not be ‘nationalization’ but restitution and the amendment of a criminal misdeed. 

The Minister of Agriculture grew quite heated when he was urged to check staghunting in war time. 

It is a monstrous paradox. If freedom exists at all in the minds of men, this country is the home of it, 

and men who love it are unitedly on our side to-day, because they know they cannot win or regain it, 

save with us and through us. When we win, they will get this freedom. The bold and hardy 

husbandman of France will blithly work on his plot, liberated from the watch of alien masters. Even 

our enemy, the bold and hardy husbandman of Germany, rid of the interference of Nazi officials, will 

gladly till his freeman’s land again. The bold and hardy husbandmen of Serbia, Holland, 

Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Greece, Norway, Poland, will re-enter into the enjoyment of their fields. 

We alone are shorn of this, the half of freedom.[7]  

… The sun stepped down, and the shadows crept out from the oak. The premonitory hush of evening 

gathered over the peaceful scene. In the inn behind me, mugs and glasses clattered, as all was made 

ready for the labourers who would come when their work was done. 

I needed to go, because soon dusk would fall, and the blackout, and the sirens, and the noise in the air 

would follow, and I must be back before then. First, I went for a moment into the little church hard by. 

The most utter peace I ever knew filled its cool nave. I looked at the memorial to the dead of the last 

war; beneath it lay a few fading flowers. I read the long list of vicars stretching back far to Thomas de 

This and Wilfrid de That in Norman times. Then I noticed that one part of the old church was newly 

restored, and different from the rest. I found a tablet which told that in the last war a Zeppelin bomb 

fell on this very spot and brought down part of the ancient tower. 

Even here! Even in this peace! These two wars, I thought, would follow you into the deepest glade of 

the darkest forest; you would find an unexploded bomb there, or a crater. 

I took the car and drove back, still musing on the enchanted scene I thus discovered. As I came into 

the town the crowded buses were hurrying to their suburban destinations, the people streaming into the 

underground stations, or going, with their bundles, to some vault or cellar. Emptier and emptier were 

the streets. With the thickening dusk, the traffic lights took on a jewel-like brilliance. I reached 

Portland Place and, while I waited for the red light to change, the sirens called. I put the car away, and 

as I walked home the first bombs fell. 

Another day was over, and a daylight dream of England.  













Chapter Three 


Where does England stand, within its still unbroken citadel, as it approaches peace and the greatest 

opportunity in its history? The long siege has been withstood; through the sally-ports surge those men, 

of whom the Duke of Wellington said, ‘Yes Sir, they may be small, but none others fight so well’; they 

converge doggedly upon an enemy whose dream of world conquest fades; in the streets where we 

Mafficked and Municked, the crowds will sing and dance and cheer again. 

Shall the colours peel from that picture again, as we walk down Civvy Street? Shall we find it, marked 

‘2s.6d.’, in a tarnished gilt frame in some dusty junk shop at 1960 Corner, as we go through the years? 

Just before the German invasion of France, I went to the Imperial War Museum. Here was a Haunted 

House, a place where the ghosts of a million men and countless million hopes walked. Banished to 

oblivion in Lambeth, it was an eerie place, the shabby sepulchre of an idealistic generation. Here, in 

pictures that attracted great crowds in 1919, were ‘the boys’ going over the top on the Somme or 

floundering in the mud at Ypres, the Royal Flying Corps pilots setting out in Morane Parasols, the old 

uniforms and equipment – things as dead and meaningless as battle-axes and arquebuses. 

To-day again this little island has saved the way of life on this planet as we know it. Our world may be 

small; if you consider the universe and the planets as a limitless sea with a few fish in it, it is indeed a 

very small plaice. But it is important for us. This island vanquished, and neither the decapitated empire 

nor America would have escaped conquest. That would have meant a new order in this world and by 

no stretch of imagination which we can reach, a better one, whatever our present lot. 

Where do we stand now, who live in this insignificant and supremely important fragment of earth, the 

British island? ‘The boys’, when they come back, may see in some little local picture theatre, if it then 

still goes the rounds, a film Mrs. Miniver, which will show them their island during the siege. It was 

made far away and the players do not speak the English of this land. Hollywood, which showed 

Vienna during the last impoverished years of its decline as a place of gay uniforms, countesses, wine, 

song and lilac, now shows them England besieged: a place where well-poised feudal squires and 

squiresses emerge from their Enclosures to deal firmly, tactfully and kindly with the Blitz and with a 

chorus of half-witted yokels. 

How sick am I of this picture! While our islanders fought all over the globe, the Ministry of 

Information produced in their honour a series of short films called Into Battle. The first was about 

friendly aliens in a non-combatant unit! Among some fine types of men in it, I recognized one who 

followed, in a certain foreign city, the second oldest calling in the world. By no standard, can such a 

picture deserve pride of place in this island. 

The means of implanting the suggestion that we are second-rate are now so great, and the films and 

radio so subtly spread it, that the native character, already sorely injured by Enclosure, may be further 

undermined. Two American soldiers once asked the Brains Trust what thing they might take back with 

them to America, which could count as typically English’. The answers were: ‘A bottle of English 

beer’; ‘Some crumpets; ‘Mr. Winston Churchill, but we can’t spare him’; and, ‘the English word, 

“quite”.’! Such was the distillation of English culture. 

A piece of an English railing might be an answer. Only one real answer exists, and all those lips 

should promptly have given it: a set of Shakespeare. Because Shakespeare is the greatest writer living 

or dead, and you might, in a book, describe everything England means to us, and to the world, in this 

present climacteric of the world’s history, by borrowing from his words. 

It is sinister that this is the only answer we can make. A Frenchman, a German, a Hollander, a 

Norwegian could offer many answers even to-day. We have lost so much that we have nothing else 

that is typically English. True, by diving into the past we might find something: a Sheraton chair or a 

Chippendale cabinet, a picture by Constable or Crome, pewter, homespun. But to-day? A piece of 

Wedgwood, perhaps, or a bulldog? Certainly not a film about England during the siege; that, we 

import! We cannot export an enclosed estate or a derelict area. No, the only answer is Shakespeare, 

who lives to-day as he lived centuries ago. 

We might offer the world the voice of England, but it is silent. This voice we hear is not the voice of 

those who toil, or fight, or serve, and long to better our island lot. 

Since this great new thing, broadcasting, was made the monopoly of the politicians of the day – after 

the war, a Free English broadcasting station should be set up somewhere abroad – only the mealy- 

mouthed and the tongue-in-cheeked may enter there. That hour in the week, after the Sunday evening 

news, when more people than at any other time settle themselves to listen, was once filled with 

broadcasts that sought to invigorate and stimulate, to contribute to an improvement in our affairs. Now 

we rarely hear any but those who know how to speak long and say little, to embroider verbiage with 

flowery compliments to men in office; it is like the uttermost hell, where sinners are condemned to 

listen for all eternity to interminable aldermen. 

Compensation for the lack of anything to listen to, at this upward end of the broadcasting scale, was 

offered when 1943 began. We were permitted by the grace of the song pluggers to hear, at its lower 

extremity, the sound of gastric wind being expelled from the human body, or a lifelike imitation. 

The song (of whom or what was it typical?), was broadcast often enough for listeners to accustom 

themselves to this new level of taste and public enlightenment. Then second thoughts seemingly set in 

at broadcasting headquarters, for ‘Right in der Fuehrer’s face’ was broadcast with silent gaps in the 

places which this sound previously occupied. The Press, which overlooks nothing of importance, 

indignantly told its readers that the B.B.C. was now refusing ‘to blow Hitler raspberries’. Came the 

dawn, and another day in the life of England. I love to picture the ladies and gentlemen of the Board of 

Governors banning questions about Enclosure, for instance, while raspberries are blown across the 

overladen air. 

With all this sealing of lips, save for the purpose of blowing raspberries, the spirit of England at home 

is astonishingly different from that which our fighting men show in action and which the world now 

salutes again. Outside the fortress, are staunchness, dogged endurance, valour and resolve; within, are 

repression, self-seeking, babel and trivial talk. The broadcasting monopoly, which is enormously 

wealthy, entrenched in privilege, and commands the entire talent of the country, should be the 

spokesman of the nation, because it speaks to the whole world. How can we give of our best, from 

within the island fortress, save through it? 

Once the Brains Trust was asked, ‘If you had six months to live, how would you spend them?’ One 

Brain said he would gather round him choice wines and food and fill himself with them. Another said 

he would spend the time ‘in a mortal funk’. This at a time when our men, on land, on all the seas and in 

the air, face death as their daily lot! 

The Brains Trust itself grew restive in the shackles that were put on it and some of its members 

clamoured for the raising and widening of the debate. At that, another member complained that ‘the 

highbrows’ were trying to ruin the Brains Trust, that we were fighting, after all, for ‘low-brows’ and 

democracy, and that the Brains Trust must be kept ‘lowbrow’. This diverting argument was most 

typical of our island to-day. The brain lives behind the brow, and lowness of brow was a chief 

characteristic of the first men who went on two legs. It may be studied in any monkey house. I love to 

picture the perfect Brains Trust, completely browless and simian, discussing questions of freedom, 

honour, culture, art, and civilization. 

The contrast between the British achievement in the world, during the last three years, and the spirit of 

the home island, as it is evinced in the only way it can express itself, through our broadcasting, is 

staggering in its incongruity. It shows that the worthiest battle remains to be fought when this battle is 

done: the battle for the spirit of England. 

The beginning and end of that battle is, Freedom. A battle for anything else, in England, would be 

worthless. But a man must understand what he strives for. How would a simple man define Freedom, 

the thing we have not? 

Freedom is a thing of innumerable facets, but split it, and it has but two halves. The first is the half we 

have lost, the freedom to enjoy and use a part of our native land. The second half is the greater half, 

because the first half rests on it. 

It is, freedom from wrongful arrest and wrongful imprisonment. 

Given these two things, a man is as free as he need wish to be on this planet; the rest is for him to 

make. Freedom of speech, assembly, religion, contract, and the rest, are smaller facets. These are the 

two halves of the jewel. 

The first half was taken from us through Enclosure. The second half, the only basis on which freedom 

can be built, we kept through thick and thin. Now it has been taken from us, with the connivance of 

the same Commons which enclosed the free lands, by men who say they will give it back when the 

war is over. 

We should not rest until that first half of the jewel is taken from the safe and restored to us, and then 

we should set out in search of the second half. 

The danger is, that few realize the worth of this priceless thing. Everywhere I went before this war, I 

found that, while the English reputation sank like a declining sun, from China to Abyssinia, from 

Austria to Czechoslovakia, this thing still gave the Englishman a feeling of superiority over others. 

They shared that feeling. Here, they thought, walks a free man. 

In no other country I knew obtained, in our full measure, the law that no man might be arrested and 

held without immediate publication of the charge against him, or imprisoned without open trial. In 

France, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Italy, Roumania, Greece, Bulgaria and Germany, the policeman, 

magistrate or judge, in greater or lesser degree, might detain and intimidate men, and delay or falsify 

the processes of the law, so that no man felt free. Cash and corruption entered largely into the system, 

and often justice and the police were but instruments of victimization wielded by persons in office. 

In the Scandinavian countries, Holland and Switzerland, which seemed to me the happiest and best- 

run in Europe, an order akin to ours prevailed. But I hope to do them no injustice in saying that this 

priceless right existed, in the same degree, in no country but ours. 

It gives the poorest man a feeling of ultimate dignity; he is not quite an outcast. It was envied in us, far 

beyond wealth and possessions, by people in other lands. Until 1939, we might promptly and proudly 

have told any stranger, who asked what he might take away that was typically English, ‘Take a copy of 

the Habeas Corpus Act’. He would immediately have understood and agreed. 

Wrested from tyrants during centuries of struggle, this became the half of our jewel of Freedom, and 

we kept it even when we lost the other half. If the legendary Englishman looked the whole world in 

the face, this was why: he neither owed nor feared any man; and this was his chief title to the respect 

which awaited him when he went abroad. Simple people often do not know the value of old heirlooms 

and cast them away. If they understood, they would not agree, even in a world war, to yield this right, 

save under the most stringent safeguards. These do not exist to-day. 

For centuries we kept that half of Freedom, but only by dint of a battle in England that seldom paused 

for long. Those who fought for it, fought for all mankind, for Freedom went out from here; but for 

them, the serfs and slaves would not have been liberated, and the other facets of Freedom, which were 

presently added to the rough stone, would never have been cut. One after another, they fought for this 

through the centuries, and when they died, saw that the Battle in England still went on. Without them, 

we should have lost it long ago. 

Consider William Cobbett, who for forty-five years strove, with raging anger, against the things which 

were to be done to England between 1800 and 1943. He saw them all before they happened. With 

Enclosure going on around him, he rode his Rural Rides and clamoured against the spoliation of the 

countryside which he foresaw as clearly as if the future opened to him, against the human hives which 

were being allowed to sprawl and straggle over the land, and particularly against ‘The Wen’, his 

prophetic name for London. His was a lone voice; but he never ceased to cry, and was heard. But for 

him, we might have lost the greater half of freedom a century ago.  

Cobbett was not merely an angry and antiquated old farmer who thought the country 

must be going to the dogs because the whole world was not given up to the cows. 

Cobbett was not merely a man with a lot of nonsensical notions that could be exploded 

by political economy; a man looking to turn England into an Eden that should grow 

nothing but Cobbett’s Corn. What he saw was not an Eden that cannot exist, but rather 

an Inferno that can exist, and even that does exist. What he saw was the perishing of the 

whole English power of self-support; the growth of cities that drain and dry up the 

countryside, the growth of dense dependent populations incapable of finding their own 

food, the toppling triumph of machines over men, the sprawling omnipotence of 

financiers over patriots, the herding of humanity in nomadic masses whose very homes 

are homeless, the terrible necessity of peace and the terrible probability of war, all the 

loading up of our little island like a sinking ship; the wealth that may mean famine, and 

the culture that may mean despair; the bread of Midas and the sword of Damocles. In a 

word, he saw what we see, but he saw it when it was not there. And some cannot see it – 

even when it is there.[8] 

Cobbett gave his whole life to the battle in England, and above all to those two vital objectives: the 

freedom of the land, and freedom from wrongful imprisonment. He fought for them in England, in 

France during the French Revolution, in America just after the American Revolution, and again in 

England. He never faltered, was furiously decried, greatly loved, and treated those two impostors just 

the same. He lived for England, and, could he have been listened to, our way would lie clear before us 


This man, the son of a small farmer (‘who, when a little boy, drove the plough for twopence a day, and 

these, his earnings, were appropriated to the expenses of an evening school’), became a great master of 

the English language, wrote incessantly and insuppressibly, and commanded a huge audience. When 

he was twenty he enlisted in a regiment of foot, and before he was thirty, jumping over many heads, 

became its sergeant-major during service in Nova Scotia. On his discharge, having gained knowledge 

of what went on in the regiment, he accused some officers of peculation from regimental funds, but 

then, suspecting the court of connivance, fled to France, and afterwards to America. When he returned, 

eight years later, he was famous, through his writings; he was wooed by a Tory government and 

offered the editorship of a government newspaper so that he might, for a comfortable salary, laud all 

that was done by authority and lampoon all who protested. 

He refused, and began to publish the weekly Political Register, the most famous independent journal 

of the next thirty-five years. Sometimes the politicians, sometimes the mob, attacked him. He was 

fined for criticizing the Government’s treatment of Ireland. His windows were smashed. 

Half-way between Trafalgar and Waterloo, Cobbett angrily protested against the public flogging of 

British soldiers under a guard of German mercenaries. The things that happen in England! He was 

fined a thousand pounds and imprisoned for two years. In prison, and after he came out, he continued 

to write, for another seven years, as a fierce and independent critic who could neither be corrupted nor 


Then came the crisis. The Government took powers of wrongful arrest. It suspended the Habeas 

Corpus Act and introduced the Regulation 18B of its day. Cobbett, the chief prey, escaped to America. 

He returned a popular hero, and until he died maintained his robust and independent criticism of 

public affairs, when he thought this necessary. When he was nearly seventy, the Government tried 

once more to break him by bringing him before the Court of King’s Bench on a charge of inciting rural 

disorders. He defended himself and the charge collapsed, covering the Government with ignominy. 

During his last years, when he was an Independent Member of Parliament for Oldham, they 

abandoned hope of intimidating this honest and turbulent Englishman, who would not suppress the 

fears he felt for England as he saw the seeds of decay being planted. 

But for such a man, and his like, we would not for so long have kept our peerless right of freedom 

from malicious arrest and wrongful imprisonment. 

To-day Cobbett’s fight has to be fought again, if we are to check the retreat from Freedom and win the 

battle in England. Even the gods might hesitate to claim the power now wielded by one man, to 

imprison others; and its great danger is that none ever knows how it may be used to-morrow. The 

Minister who employs it to-day is not ruthless; but he himself, before he received it, laid stress on this 

peril. He does not know how any successor may use it, yet refuses to relinquish it. Ah, the difference 

between words and deeds, between opposition and Office! 

Once this power is used, the extremists are avid for its continuance, because they hope to wield it to- 

morrow. The Dai1y Worker, released from suppression, calls for ‘the rats to be put behind bars’, that is, 

for people whom it dislikes to be put away. Two other London newspapers, so swiftly does this rot 

spread, now currently recommend that all sorts of persons unsympathetic to them should be 

imprisoned. The disease infects the middle parties, those which abjure us to ‘fight for Freedom’. In the 

Commons and in the Press, lickspittles and lackeys ‘call the attention of Mr. Morrison’ to the activities 

of someone they do not like. Put this man away, they mean: I dislike his views. They call themselves 

Conservatives, Socialists, Liberals, Democrats. 

The present Minister has reduced the number of people thus detained from the original 1,817 to about 

500. We know now that many innocent people were put away. In our parlous plight of 1940, when 

good reason offered to suspect treachery, but among persons much higher placed than these obscure 

individuals, the gaoling of hundreds of people without charge or proof may have been excusable. Now 

that we are invulnerable it is inexcusable. Some of them have been imprisoned. for years uncharged. 

They should be charged and tried, or released. 

The unanswerable argument against this thing is that every time an arrest under it has been tested at 

law it has been found wrongful in some way. These tests have been few, because they can only be 

applied when a man has been released and is free to use them, and then only if he has money enough 

for enormously expensive actions. But the result has always been the same. 

We now know that the Home Secretary, who is required to have ‘reasonable cause’ for believing a 

prisoner to be of hostile associations, may consider the statement of some secret informer enough, who 

will not be punished for perjury, if his information later be found false, because his testimony was not 

made ‘on oath’. The anonymous letter-writer is thus promoted to the status of a servant of the Crown! 

Consider those few cases. Mr. Ben Greene, after nearly two years’ imprisonment, succeeded at great 

cost in obtaining from the Home Secretary the statement that the allegations against him ‘might be 

regarded as withdrawn’. When his solicitor, by threatening a question in Parliament, elicited the name 

of the secret informer, who immediately withdrew his allegations, this proved to be a German subject. 

He is immune from retribution. 

Remember Cobbett, and the flogging of the British soldiers at Ely under German guard! 

Then, Mr. H.S.L. Knight. When he claimed damages for wrongful dismissal, he was an R.A.F. 

aircraftman whose commanding officer was ‘completely satisfied of his loyalty’ and who 

recommended him for a commission. Mr. Knight was put away for six months and summarily 

dismissed, in result, by his employers. After his release, when he was in the R.A.F., he was only able 

to make his case public by using the ‘wrongful dismissal’ issue to bring it before the courts. 

He was denied damages, the Court finding that his employer was ‘frustrated’ by his arrest from 

fulfilling the contract. But Mr. Justice Hilbery said that Mr. Knight was completely cleared of any 

misconduct that would have justified his dismissal and that his arrest was due to ‘tittle-tattle’! 

Consider the facts. He was put away on suspicion of Nazi sympathies. The ‘evidence’ against him 

consisted of (1) a letter referring to his ‘appalling Communistic views’ from a colleague whose 

testimony the judge ‘rejected completely’; (2) some scraps of conversation reported by a woman typist 

who said in court that she was ‘irresponsible and temperamental’, broke down, and ran out weeping; 

and (3) a statement (contemptuously dismissed by the judge) from ‘Mr. W.’. We may not know who 

Mr. W. was. He was a Jewish refugee from Germany and thus entitled to this new privilege of laying 

anonymous information, with impunity, against British citizens! 

Mr. Justice Hilbery’s judgment in this case was either ignored or given inadequately by the British 

Press, which claims to speak for British citizens. It is to my mind one of the most excellent in our 

recent history, and reveals one of the most flagrant injustices committed in the name of national 

interests in our time. The judge ironically referred to the unnamed enemy alien informer ‘whose name 

has not been stated because we know that the giving of such names may lead to all sorts of very 

dreadful consequences to innocent persons who may remain behind in Germany’ – but who was 

privileged with impunity to denounce and have imprisoned an innocent British subject! The testimony 

of this anonymous poltroon, said the judge, ‘amounted to absolutely nothing’; ‘I can find absolutely 

nothing at all in that evidence which even slightly savours of any sort of misconduct’. Of the evidence 

of a woman who boarded at the same guesthouse as Mr. Knight, he said ‘Her evidence resulted in 

absolutely nothing’. Of the evidence of the hysterical woman clerk (who said Mr. Knight had made a 

motor-car journey over a road built by Hitler in Bavaria, which happened to have been built by an 

Austrian Republican Government in Austria!) he pointed out that she broke down in the witness box, 

and said her evidence, ‘riddled as it is with inaccurate statements of fact, when examined has nothing 

in it’. The evidence of another secret informer, when it was now tested in open court, he ‘rejected 

without the least hesitation as unreliable’; he was ‘satisfied that this witness had a wholly warped and 

perverted view of the plaintiff’. Of the wrongfully imprisoned man himself, the judge said, ‘The 

Plaintiff gave his evidence like an honest man and I think he gave his evidence to the best of his 

ability accurately’. The plaintiff’s dismissal, he said, was not justified. What then of his imprisonment

This fantastic case would have moved the members of a decent Parliament to wonder how many other 

unknown people are detained through anonymous slander and to demand reform, but no. Five days 

after this a Mr. Watkins of Central Hackney declared in the House that ‘these hundreds of people … are 

all guilty in varying degrees’. 

Then a Mr. Thomas Wilson, who was put away for eighteen months and ruined by this imprisonment 

and the cost of his attempts to gain justice. He, too, found a way to bring his case into court after 

release, and stated that he ‘raised the matter in an attempt to maintain some of the few rights remaining 

to a citizen’. (Under the Bill of Rights every citizen has the right to appeal to the King’s Bench 

Division, but a petition which he sent was prevented from reaching the Court. He applied for the 

Home Secretary who imprisoned him, Sir John Anderson, to be committed for contempt of Court.) 

This is what Mr. Justice Humphreys said:  

There is no more important duty attaching to the Judges of the King’s Bench Division 

than that of looking after the liberties of British subjects, and where one of those 

subjects has been committed to prison not by an order of a court of law but as the result 

of the opinion of a Secretary of State in the peculiar circumstances referred to in 

Regulation 18B, which only apply in war time, he has an inalienable right to ask that 

his case should be considered by that Court, and the Court is bound to consider whether 

he was being detained in custody legally or illegally. If any case should be brought 

before me hereafter in which any person – I care not how high his position or how great 

his fame – be found to have interfered with the right of one of His Majesty’s subjects, I 

think that I should have no difficulty in putting into force, with the assistance of other 

members of that Division, the great powers of the King’s Bench Division of 

imprisoning such a person for contempt of Court. Sir John Anderson himself knew 

nothing about the matter. But something happened for which Sir John has thought it his 

duty to apologize to the Court because it was done by an official of the Home Office, 

and the Court is glad to have that apology. The applicant chose to send an application to 

the Court himself. The document is irregular in form, but is a clear request to the Court 

from a person in custody to have his case considered. It is a perfectly proper document, 

in respectful language, desiring that if it was thought that he had done anything wrong 

as a servant of the Crown, he should be put on trial in the ordinary way and should not 

be detained indefinitely without a possibility of proving his innocence. That document 

was not dealt with at the prison. It was sent to another department where it was the duty 

of somebody to censor it. I cannot conceive any reason why such a document should 

not see the light of day. There is nothing improper in it. Someone, whose name the 

Court has not got, and whose position it does not know, intercepted that document and 

‘did not forward it to that Court to whom it was addressed. That official thought that it 

was not the proper way for the case to be put before the Court. It was no business at all 

of that official to form such a conclusion. It certainly was a piece of great impertinence 

on his part to take on himself to do what he did. 

Mr. Justice Tucker, concurring in this judgment, together with Mr. Justice Wrottesley, said in some 

future case it might become a matter of great importance to decide what was the position if a Secretary 

of State said: ‘Somebody in my department informs me of certain facts and I am not going to tell you 

what his name is.’ 

This judgment may make a man cry, ‘There are still judges in England’. For in other lands, all know 

arrest or imprisonment without trial; but few know such peremptory rebuke as this to official misusers 

of authority. The pity is that the judge limited his warning to ‘next time’. 

In this case again you see the anonymous poltroon. This man, whose name not even an English Court 

of Justice could wrest, was an official. Such as he, when they are criticized, are protected by Ministers 

in Parliament with the words ‘The honourable Member is attacking men who cannot defend 

themselves’. Yet these men may secretly denounce British citizens, or deny them their rights, and with 


These few cases already make a grave indictment against Regulation 18B and the way it has been 

administered, and an uncorrupted House of Commons would by now have compelled a change. Add to 

them the memorable judgment of Lord Atkin who in the House of Lords dissented from four other 

Law Lords to say:  

I view with apprehension the attitude of judges who, on the mere question of 

construction, when face to face with claims involving the liberty of the subject, show 

themselves more Executive-minded than the Executive … it has always been one of the 

principles of liberty for which, on recent authority, we are now fighting, that the judges 

are no respecters of persons and stand between the subject and any attempted 

encroachment on his liberty by the Executive, alert to see that any coercive action is 

justified in law. In this case I have listened to arguments which might have been 

addressed acceptably to the Court of the King’s Bench in the time of Charles I. I protest, 

even if I do it alone, against a strained construction put upon words with the effect of 

giving an uncontrolled power of imprisonment to the Minister … I am profoundly 

convinced that the Home Secretary was not given unconditional authority to detain. 

Add this last judgment, from the case of a Mr. Frank Arbon and a Major Alexander de Lassoe, D.S.O., 

M.C., who did not complain of their detention, but that, in breach of the instructions issued by the 

Home Secretary, the conditions of their imprisonment were ‘punitive’ (that is, those of convicted 

persons) instead of ‘custodial’ (that is, those of persons detained but neither charged nor tried, and 

therefore not proven guilty). 

Lord Justice Goddard said:  

In the case of a detained prisoner, a prison officer is always present, while in that of a 

remand prisoner the officer is only within sight, but not within hearing. That, I am told, 

is in accordance with the directions of the Prison Commissioners. This raises a question 

of grave importance. It is a strange state of affairs that, had the plaintiffs in the present 

case been charged with an offence under a statute, they would have been entitled to 

interview their solicitors out of the hearing of a prison officer, as might a prisoner 

charged with murder, rape, or any other crime. Yet, as they had not been charged with 

any offence, that privilege was denied them. The law has always protected most 

jealously the confidence of communications between solicitor and client, and it is 

repulsive to me as a judge to learn that that confidence is being violated, for that is what 

it amounts to. 

In these quotations, gentle reader, you have seen, at work in England, the evil thing they know abroad. 

The root of the only real liberty we have left has been gravely impaired. After this war, extremist 

parties will be turbulently active, and will find ready hearing among disappointed people, as they 

found after the last war. It is mad to do, in the name of ‘Freedom’, the very things they would do if 

they could. It gives young people no choice between policies, programmes, methods or ideals. If 

‘force’ is the new clarion call, they will choose the most forcible. ‘Beating the Nazis with their own 

weapons’ (or the Communists) has invariably failed wherever I have watched it, from Dollfuss to 

Carol. It invests the people who suffer from it, such of them as are revolutionaries or traitors, with 

glamorous appeal when they come out. 

Apart from that, it is wrong. It is a new attack, now as in Cobbett’s day, on the last British liberty, the 

one on which alone we could build. It is not insignificant because to-day it hits few people, and these 

have few friends. Forces are at work in this country, now, which would fain use it, after the war to 

destroy us. 

It is unnecessary, and alien to everything we call British. If it is not checked now, the battle in England 

will have to change it. In other countries, I was often startled by the immediately depressing effect 

which this thing has upon the population. Overnight, mouths shut, eyes veil themselves, and men 

withdraw into a shell of miserable caution. To some extent this has happened here. 

It must be stopped, so that we can get back to the one sound basis of Freedom – Freedom from 

wrongful arrest. On that, by means of decent debate, you may build anything. By violence, no matter 

how small the beginnings, you can only destroy. 

We have retreated further from Freedom than most people are aware; indeed, nearly the whole way. 

No happiness, awaits us along that path, but only worse misery. Regulation 18B, until it is revoked, is 

a noose suspended over the heads of a multitude who do not think themselves threatened to-day – in 

fact, the whole nation. 

Liberate the land, and restore our ancient freedom from wrongful arrest, and we may yet find our 










































Chapter One 


We approach Civvy Street, gentle reader, and look towards 1950 and 1960 with the eyes of 1918. 

Early in that street, a wrong turning will entice us and we must be alert to avoid it if, this time, we are 

to reach a place where we may ‘construct something’. 

We want to reach, and build, not Liberty Hall, but Freedom’s House. Its walls are, freedom from 

capricious arrest, and freedom to use and enjoy our own land; for is it not absurd, to read that this 

professor or that politician have been made ‘Freeman of London’, or ‘Freeman of Edinburgh’ when 

Englishmen are not freemen of England? 

But first things come first, and before the walls comes the foundation. The foundation is: foreign- 


The words seem to baffle many people. Yet foreign policy is but the ordering of our relationships with 

other countries. Those neighbours, Mr. Brown and Mr. Jones, so conduct their relations that Mr. Jones 

does not throw rubbish over the fence and Mr. Brown does not enter Mr. Jones’s house without 

permission. That, between States, is foreign policy. 

Our foreign policy – I mean the one we should pursue, the foundation ‘for our house – is simple. 

Stupendous skill in pursuing a wrong policy while deluding the people that you follow the right one, is 

needed, to fail in it, and the achievement of our successive governments in bringing us to the present 

war is the eighth wonder of the world. If I were to see a man perform the Indian rope trick with the 

North Pole I could not be more astonished than I am by that fantastic feat. Only foolishness in a 

dimension as infinite as space, or knavery, could account for it. But if certain sections or combines or 

groups prove to have made great gain from this war when the fog of it lifts, of power, or territory, or 

raw materials, or cash, the events of that nightmare prelude, 1919-39, would become explicable. For 

this reason, those events cannot be studied too closely. 

Many English people seem to feel physical pain when urged to consider foreign policy. Yet it is easy 

to understand; its object only is, to prevent the conquest of this island by a foreign foe. This is the 

foundation of our house. Each time that foundation is shaken, cracks appear in the walls and ceilings 

of the house. Look back to the Napoleonic wars and Enclosure; to the 1914 war and DORA; to the 

present war and Regulation 18B; and then look forward to the future. 

We in this island hold a position of such enormous strength in the planet that, supported by the kindred 

countries oversea, we could ensure peace in the world indefinitely. The battlefields of time are strewn 

with the litter of a thousand wars, and churchgoers who sing of an age ‘when wars shall be no more’ 

may privately think this an absurdity. Yet my statement is true. Whether wars ought to be no more, I 

am unsure; because I remember with what glee I welcomed the hope of adventure that 1914 brought 

and cannot honestly expect the nineteen-year-olds of to-day or to-morrow to feel differently. But I am 

sure that wars which imperil this island ought to be no more, and never need be again. 

We have no cause to cast desperately about for a means to be secure, as have landlocked nations. We 

have security, unless we throw it away. As Shakespeare said:  

This fortress built by nature for herself 

Against infection and the hand of war; 

This happy breed of men, this little world; 

This precious stone set in the silver sea, 

Which serves it in the office of a wall, 

Or as a mote defensive to a house, 

Against the envy of less happier lands. 

Yet this impregnable pass was sold in our time! That the enemy did not enter, is the one enigma more 

baffling than that of our foreign policy between 1919 and 1939. 

We have, then, the most formidable natural fortress in the world. How may it be kept secure? We are 

not very many in numbers, but our natural defence, the sea, is so strong that it makes good that 

weakness. As long as we have a supreme Navy and a strong Air Force, we can prevent any enemy 

from conquering this island. We have the foundation for our house. 

There is one exception: numbers against us so overwhelming, that not even the sea could redeem the 

balance. This could happen only if an Europe were united against us. That almost happened! 

To prevent it happening, is where ‘foreign policy’ begins. 

The people who live in Europe across the Channel desire peace founded on our strength, on the 

invulnerable position which nature has given us. They will only choose something else if we force 

them to. They look to us as their single hope of building their own house of freedom, because they 

know that the alternative is foreign conquest. But if they think we shall not defend our island, they will 

combine against us; for in that case each man’s only hope of a future is, to stand well with the 


That is what nearly came about. Had Poland not resisted in 1939, and forced us to declare war, it 

would have happened. As it was, many European peoples joined with Germany. Czechoslovakia we 

ourselves forced to capitulate. Italy and Hungary joined with Germany willingly, Roumania and 

Finland reluctantly, Bulgaria docilely. France, in effect, did not resist. Greece, Yugoslavia, Norway, 

Holland and Belgium resisted. But in some even of these countries, and in Spain, groups of people 

formed themselves to fight for Germany, though we fought against Germany. 

A Polish capitulation, or our abandonment of Poland, would have, brought about a European coalition, 

ranked against us, which would have outweighed the value of our natural defence, the sea. This is the 

only result to which a foreign policy of withdrawal from Europe, of talking about ‘little countries far 

away of which we know nothing’, can lead. We cannot withdraw from Europe without either 

withdrawing from this island or living in it under foreign rule. 

If we revert to that lunatic policy, the next war is already begun, or our future capitulation is certain. 

Then, since our fate is inexorably linked with that of Europe across the Channel, what must our 

foreign policy be? 

Only one nation in Europe so much outnumbers us as to be moved repeatedly to attempt our 

overthrow, knowing that without this it cannot have even European conquest, for the other peoples 

will never stop fighting. It is Germany, and this will remain so for as long as we need consider. 

These lusty people are separated from us only by the North Sea, or, when they conquer France, by the 

Channel. Were we separated only by a land frontier, we should now live under German rule. The sight 

of this little island, so near but so thwarting to ambitions for European conquest creates a perpetual 


Thus our future is as implacably bound up with those of the other Europeans as is our long immunity 

with the Channel. We cannot make the best of all worlds and let Germany do what it will in Europe 

whole hugging ourselves in safety upon this island. That would create a European coalition against us 

which not even the Channel could withstand. We should have had enough proof of this now. 

What should our foreign policy be then? Simply to maintain that supreme Navy and strong Air Force 

and keep a wary eye on Germany? 

No, that is not enough. One loophole still remains through which our life and liberty might ebb. We 

cannot survive without an alliance. It would have prevented this war. 

The Russians are far more numerous than even the Germans. But Russia has only a big toe in Europe. 

It is an Asiatic State, too far from us to attack us, too swollen to covet what we have. You cannot 

attack another country across thousands of miles of intervening States and large expanses of water. 

Look at the map. Besides, Russia has an enormous empire; Germany seeks one. Germany is an 

outstretched fist, under our nose. Russia is a big word a long way off. (I do not take German ambitions 

amiss, and think people mad who ask ‘But aren’t there any good Germans?’ meaning, are there none 

who are content only to attack Poles and Czechs and Serbs and leave us alone? No Germans are as bad 

as all that.) 

A hundred and fifty years of recent history should now have convinced our people that we need the 

alliance with Russia and that we shall go wrong again in Civvy Street if we fight against this fact. 

Should we have beaten Napoleon, but for his catastrophe at Moscow? Well, it would have taken much 

longer at the best. 

In 1914 the Germans would have reached Paris and the Channel coast but for the Russian attack from 

the east which made them halt on the Marne. We would not have won that war in 1918 but for the 

Russian offensives of 1916 and 1917. 

I believe we could have won this war in 1941, by striking with all our force at the moment (which 

must have been the most fearful in any German’s memory) when Hitler’s armies were halted before 

Moscow. Where should we stand now, but for the Russian counterblows of 1941, 1942 and 1943? 

But we speak, not of past wars, or even this one, but of winning the next peace. For that, we need an 

alliance with Russia. We have made one for twenty years. The present war was bred in twenty years. 

The term should be extended to fifty years. 

For Russia will not attack us. If we want to have war with Russia, we shall have to go to Russia, and 

we have done this twice, in 1854 and in 1918. The story of that last attack is sinister and a straight line 

leads from it through all the events which brought this war about. 

I used to think that the state of dementia about Russia in which so many of my compatriots live, and 

which enabled them to be led blindfold into the present war, only reached back to the confiscatory 

days of 1918 and that earlier, when they were able to find invigoration in pictures of the Romanoffs in 

the Tatler, Russia was held in friendly regard here. 

But even Tennyson, a hundred years ago, raved about ‘that o’er grown Barbarian in the East’, and 

possibly this helped to make The Boys in the Crimea feel that they fought for something, though who 

can guess now, what that something was? It was probably a ‘crusade’, a word our leaders invariably 

use about this war, in which the Turkish alliance is vital to us. If the moon were coloured red we 

should certainly have a strong anti-moon party in the House of Lords and all the stately homes. 

History has tried hard to hammer into our heads the need for a constant alliance with Russia in the 

present condition of Europe. For this other great State can do us one mortal injury, and that is why it is 

a vital prop in our foreign policy. It can join with Germany, if we persist in fostering mistrust in our 


This, too, nearly happened. In Germany, a strong party has long favoured alliance with Russia as the 

only means of overcoming this country. If that had happened in 1939, it would have meant our instant 

extinction. That it did not, was not our achievement, but Germany’s omission. Hitler stopped at a 

standstill agreement with Russia, and did not form the full fighting alliance. After this war, when 

Germany will twice have tried the other method of attacking both ourselves and Russia, with the result 

of defeat in both cases, the party in Germany to which I refer will be stronger than ever in its 

argument. Those people in the world, who then will still desire our downfall and be powerful enough 

again to mislead public opinion, will work to that end by estranging us from Russia. 

Look back a moment, before we enter Civvy Street, on the things they did, on the monstrous web of 

delusion they wove about the British people. 

People forgot it after the last war, but they know now the vital importance to us of having Germany 

engaged on another front when Germany fights us. And before this war began, Germany was faced by 

three fronts, not two. Germany was not even prepared to fight on two at that time; for that reason, the 

project for the standstill agreement with Russia, which would reduce the number of fronts to one, for 

the first two years of this war, already lay in Ribbentrop’s drawer. 

But the third front was decisive. While it remained the war could not begin. Not even Hitler would 

unloose it. 

It was destroyed at the command of England, and English people in millions cheered their own 

imminent doom, which, eighteen months later, they would escape by a hairbreadth! 

The third front was the coalition of the Little Entente, three States liberated or strengthened by the last 

war, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Roumania. The capitulation of Czechoslovakia, which the 

British Prime Minister brought about, destroyed that front. The vast quantities of arms now furnished 

to the German armies by the Czechoslovak State factory at Skoda; the fierce resistance offered even 

now by Serb guerrillas in their mountains to forty Axis divisions; and the help given to the Germans 

by the Roumanian armies sent to Russia; these show what was lost. At the time of Munich, all these, 

and the Russians, were ready to fight. This would have been a war of three fronts. Germany would not 

have begun that war. And the defeatists claim that we ‘gained time’! 

It is vital, for our future foreign policy, to understand that episode. Powerful people in this country 

who detested Communism (quite rightly), could not see that the one way to stimulate Communism in 

this country was to allow a war to come about in which Russia, on whichever side, would play a 

dominant part; and that the way to prevent the growth of Communism in this country was to avoid the 

war, which could only be prevented by an alliance with Russia. These people, if they care to look 

about them to-day, will see that they have more Communists in this country than ever before. 

These people still pursue their dangerous illusion. It causes them, in my belief, to think the 

prolongation of the war a lesser evil than a victory mainly won by Russia. Opportunities have already 

offered to curtail and win it. Each time stubborn opposition has been raised to the seizing of them. As I 

write, the war approaches its fourth birthday and still we do not strike. When the great opportunity of 

1941 offered, the call for action was stilled by rebukes to ‘armchair critics’ (though, at the time, more 

civilians than fighting men had been killed) and in 1942 the same demand was refused with protests 

about ‘the impossibility of finding the ships’ (though in November 1942 ‘the greatest Armada in our 

history’ took American and British troops to North Africa). But,another motive, animosity to Russia, 

was often clearly revealed. 

The third front, which would have prevented the war, was wantonly destroyed. When we come to 

Civvy Street, these motives and these people will reappear; indeed, they still thwart us in reaching 

victory. Munich is the date to remember, and the golden rule, that in foreign policy honesty is the best 


First things first. Foreign policy is the foundation of our security, and you cannot clearly understand it 

without understanding those events. After the invasion of Prague, General Halder, who later became 

Hitler’s Chief of Staff, spoke to German officers at the Staff Academy in Berlin. The text of his talk 

came to the hands of an able Polish officer who was engaged in Secret Service work. General Halder’s 

subject (six months before the war began) was ‘The Coming War’. He said, among other things:  

The situation in Central Europe has been entirely changed. The third front, which 

caused us so many headaches and threatened the heart of the Reich, has been destroyed 

once and for all. With the destruction of the Czechoslovak army of forty divisions, the 

Little Entente has in effect ceased to exist. 

Thus was the war made while Britain cheered. 

But, you say, after much toil, much misleading, and reprieve from annihilation, Britain has understood 

that simple problem. We have an alliance with Russia, for eighteen years to come. Our present leaders 

are not those who prevented it before; they see its importance. 

Beware: at the very beginning of Civvy Street you turn into Gullible Lane. We made a similar alliance 

with France! Remember what happened to it, in twenty years, between 1919 and 1939. While the 

British people were told that it was impregnable, it was destroyed piece by piece, so that at the end, 

when it collapsed, we were all but buried in the ruins. 

That is the final result of false foreign policy. Nevertheless, the lesson of those years is that the British 

people knew what foreign policy should be followed. Their instinct was as sure as that of the lioness, 

which from some inner prompting springs to defend her cubs, or of the primitive man who, he knows 

not why, seizes his club and goes warily, suspecting danger, to the mouth of his cave. Their instinct 

was so strong that every British Government, during those years, promised it would pursue the right 

foreign policy. The manifold devices of secrecy, anonymity and delusion enabled them actually to 

pursue the wrong one. 

Then, how do we stand to-day? 

Under Mr. Churchill, we have made an alliance with Russia for common action to preserve peace and 

resist aggression in the post-war period’. It is for twenty years. This war was brewed in twenty years. If 

we keep the alliance, we shall have peace at least until 1962. If its term were for fifty years, and we 

kept it, we should have peace at least until 1992. 

Our Foreign Minister, Mr. Eden, has said (December 2nd, 1942):  

There is no reason why any conflict of interest should arise between Russia and 

ourselves. That foreign policy [he said] was firmly based on history. In each of the 

great world conflicts, that of Napoleon and those of 1914 and 1939, we found ourselves 

on the same side and after each ‘we drifted apart’. 

(We did not ‘drift apart’ in 1918; we attacked Russia.) On the maintenance of the alliance, said Mr. 

Eden, ‘lies the best chance of building a new and better international society after the war’. 

Mr. Richard Law, our Deputy Foreign Minister, said (January 22nd, 1943):  

If we and the other nations of western Europe fail to have an adequate understanding of 

Russia after the war, you will find exactly the same thing happening again – Russia will 

withdraw beyond her frontiers and she will become a tremendous question mark. It will 

be impossible then to find a political solution of any real stability. It is, therefore, 

absolutely vital that relations with Russia should be as friendly, cordial and sympathetic 

as they can possibly be. 

All is well, then; the three men responsible for our foreign policy, on which the foundation of our 

future rests, our island safety, know what to do and will do it? 

No. We do not know how long they will be in office, and anyway, we have repeatedly seen that if 

anonymous hands grasp the wheel and alter the course of foreign policy, the men on the bridge will 

not sound the alarm, but will keep silence, or will even profess that the course is still the true one, 

while the ship heads for the rocks. 

Behind those official protestations, lies a silent but stubborn conflict, in England, between those who 

want to get the war over and those who would sooner see its prolongation than a Russian victory, 

which now makes the course of the war enigmatic and enshadows our future after it – for, wriggle as 

you like, you will not have either early victory or long peace without that Russian alliance. 

It is a tragic paradox. Those people in this island who cannot bear the thought of Russia brought about 

this war by wrecking the alliance which would have prevented it. They did not see that the one way to 

stimulate Communism here was to allow the war to happen: or did they see that, and desire it? Are 

they more subtle than we think, these hidden ones? They cannot see now that the one way still further 

to foster Communism here is, unnecessarily to prolong the war by holding back while Germany is 

engaged with Russia. Or do they see that, and desire it? 

Our paramount interest, from every sound and patriotic point of view, is to get this war finished. Any 

who work against that work against us and our future, whatever their motives. But no doubt remains 

that the same hidden influence, which was able to prevent the Russian alliance before the war, so that 

the war came, is still most powerful in this country, and that a consequent confusion is spreading into 

our foreign policy again, which can only bring us worse misfortune. 

Our leaders declare that no delay has occurred, in pressing on with the war. Well, it approaches its 

fourth birthday; we have not struck; our air-bombing, with its bouts of fierceness and long lapses, is 

still not the ‘unprecedented ordeal’ which Mr. Churchill last promised in June 1942; the commando 

raids have ceased, save for the inexplicable one on the strongest point of the German-held French 

coast, since Lord Keyes was dismissed from the leadership. Instead, our leaders, with much unction, 

tell us to expect ‘a long war’, as if four years of this misery were not long. 

A long war is not necessary. We shall win it in 1943 if that ‘unprecedented ordeal’ from the air, so 

often promised, is imposed, and if we strike when it has done its work. In February 1943, the Royal 

Air Force for the first time delivered really heavy and continuous blows. The results were immediate

The most obvious terror at once became discernible, in the almost panic-stricken measures of the 

German leaders, the tone of their speeches, and – most important of all, gentle reader, for those who 

know how to discern what goes on in Germany – in the open allusions to ‘a very serious situation’ 

published in the wary Swedish and Swiss Press. 

Then why do they speak of ‘a long war’? 

I do not exaggerate in saying this war might have been won in 1941, at that catastrophic moment when 

the Germans were halted before Moscow in the most appalling winter on record. You might question 

Litvinoff’s statement made in New York in 1942 (‘If German forces had been diverted from the 

Russian front in the winter of 1941, when the Russian army held the initiative, Germany would 

beyond doubt have suffered considerable if not a final defeat’). But you may now find the proofs in the 

words of Germany’s leaders. 

Hitler told the Reichstag, when the danger was past:  

There was in the East such a winter as had been known not even in those parts for more 

than 140 years. In a few days the thermometer dropped from 0 degrees to minus 47 

degrees and even lower … There was a general backward movement. I can say to-day 

that the process was extremely difficult. Added to our other difficulties was the 

psychological difficulty due to the defeat of Napoleon in 1812 … The temperature was 

one which could not be borne … Neither the German men nor the machines and other 

means of transport were suited to this kind of weather, which was at one place 52 

degrees below zero, while the worst temperature in 1812 during the retreat of Napoleon 

was exactly 25 degrees below … It was necessary only in a few cases for me to 

intervene. Only when nerves were at breaking point, obedience wavered, or where a 

sense of duty was lacking in mastering the task, I made stern decisions in virtue of the 

sovereign rights which I believe to have received for the purpose from the German 

people. I did so with the utmost ruthlessness, and thanks to the sovereignty which the 

nation gave me we stood this winter and we accomplished the feat which broke down 

130 years ago…. 

Do you know what these words mean, gentle reader? Mass executions! What an opportunity we lost! 

In May 1942 Göring said:  

1,500 kilometres and more we penetrated into the distant Russian space, and just at the 

time when a new mighty blow was to be struck a new enemy fell on us. Not the Russian 

divisions, not the Russian arms and not the Russian command. It was the elements 

which rose against us … such a winter as has probably never been experienced in the 

history of such struggles … The rapid rivers were frozen, swamps and lakes as well: one 

white blanket of death was spread over the endless land … The Russians succeeded in 

traversing the frozen rivers, lakes and swamps by night and in reaching our rear. The 

Russians in our rear in the north, centre and south! Partisan detachments blew up 

everything, waylaid the supply columns. Maddening cold almost froze our troops … 

The skin of their fingers stuck to their rifle barrels. The engines faded, could no longer 

be started. Tanks got stuck in the deep snow, one thing piled on top of another … Some 

of you have read the history of the great Corsican, Napoleon I, who retreated from 

Moscow in the Russian winter, his army being annihilated to the last man. There was 

one vast field of corpses at that time. Such thoughts could arise! Not all men are equally 

strong. Many a leader was bound to think of the cruel parallel of 1812 … We were 

happy when December had gone. When January passed, we said to ourselves ‘Only 

another two months’. February, too, passed, and the front still held out, on the whole. 

Temperatures began to rise; we rejoiced … When spring came the Russians had not 

destroyed the German Army…. 

And Goebbels, on New Year’s Day of 1943, still gave thanks. The sigh of relief in his voice, as he 

looked back on that calamitous moment, and recalled the terrifying comparison with Napoleon, which 

all Germany then made, could be heard. 

What a chance neglected! The instinct of this country, at that time, was as sure as ever. It itched to 

have at the Germans. The clamour was hushed with stern rebukes to ‘fireside critics’, uttered by people 

who in this war assuredly enjoy more comfort than any soldier and most civilians. 

And now, they talk of ‘a long war’. Indeed, in the light of that event, it is impossible to conjecture to- 

day, when the war may end. 

The confused conflict of thought, about Russia, still thwarts us. Of how much misery has it been the 


The stubborn antagonism to Russia, in this country, is too strong to be ignored or denied. Indeed, it is 

open, and can be proved. The awful thing is, that antagonism to Russia means antagonism to winning 

this war quickly. But even to that, the people seem to have become accustomed. You would think that, 

with hundreds of thousands of their men in foreign captivity, they would feel strongly about it. I think 

they lose the power to feel strongly about anything. 

The openly expressed antagonism ranges from the statement attributed to, and never denied by, a 

British Minister (of the hope that ‘the Russian and German armies will exterminate each other, and 

while this is taking place we will so develop our Air Force and other armed forces that if Russia and 

Germany do destroy each other we shall have the dominating power in Europe’) to the statement of a 

Conservative M.P.:  

I cannot forsee the military result of the German attack on Russia, but of this I am 

certain – the war of 1914 brought Bolshevism to Russia, the war of 1939 will drive it 

out. Russia has proved greater than any dogma. The Bear walks like a man again. 

The Catholic Herald said:  

The military alliance with Russia was forced on us by necessity. A large section of our 

people, including the Prime Minister, regarded it as an unpleasant necessity … perhaps 

the disasters which have overtaken the cause of the Allied Nations in Russia may not 

be, in the long run, the unmitigated evil they may seem. 

The Review of Foreign Affairs, with which several Conservative politicians are associated, said:  

We must remember that large numbers of the Russian people would regret it if we 

moved a single inch from our position: for many observers believe that, whatever the 

outcome of the war. Mr. Stalin will not survive it … The great calamity in which Russia 

finds itself is largely due to his disastrous policy. From every point of view, therefore, it 

is of supreme importance that by no means should we give the impression that we are 

in alliance with the Bolsheviks. 

This was published after the alliance was signed. Lady Astor remarked that she was tired of hearing 

about Russia, and that after the war Russia would have to get into ‘the British way of thinking’. (What 

may be Lady Astor’s conception of ‘the British way of thinking’? In a book called Last Train from 

Berlin, the American author depicts her, during a tea-party at Cliveden, as giving ‘a one-lady show; 

she donned a feathery hat, crammed a set of protrusive false teeth in her mouth and gave us an 

“Imitation of an Englishwoman imitating an American woman”‘. In a debate in the Commons on the 

proposed Foreign Service reforms, however, she said she did not believe there was any country which 

would not welcome ‘a sound, intelligent Englishwoman’ as a diplomat.) 

If our delay in striking to win this war is quite unconnected with the powerful opposition which has 

been shown, to any blow which might mean, not only victory for us but also victory for Russia, this 

belongs to the major coincidences of history. It lends sinister meaning to the talk about ‘a long war’. In 

its indifference to the lot of the British people, the protraction of the separation of husbands and wives, 

and the prolongation of imprisonment for our men in Germany, it is a masterpiece of callousness. 

The root of it seemingly lies in the horrifying order of class antagonism in this island, which knows no 

bounds. I say ‘no bounds’, because all these classes, or money-groups, should set a boundary to class- 

mania; it should stop at the cliffs of Dover. Project it into your foreign policy, let it confuse you about 

the map of Europe, the size of the various nations there and their aims, and the possible threat to 

yourself, and you head for disaster. 

The people in this island who allowed the war to come about, from this maniac fear of Communism, 

and now see, as a result of it, a more thriving Communist Party here than we ever knew before, 

seemingly wish to inflate this to the size of a real danger, by prolonging the war. They are as stupid as 

the others who now begin to call for us to strike at Germany, not so much in our own interest, which 

is, to finish the war, as because Russia is Communist. These people, in their turn, ascribe the Russian 

successes, not to Russia, but to the merits of Communism. A great problem, when we return to Civvy 

Street, will be to remove the fog from the eyes of these people; but the paramount danger comes from 

the people at the top end of the money-scale, who in this matter cannot be brought to see clearly, and 

will either bring a real Communist danger or a third war upon us. 

This Greater War – the class war in England – inspires in me the feeling I might have if I were 

compelled to share a bed with a skunk and a squid. These two, wedded, might produce as pleasant an 

offspring. To see so much misery born of so much stupidity, is an abject thing. 

Unhappily, it runs from top to bottom now. The higher money-groups enclosed themselves within 

their fences; the lower ones have now enclosed themselves inside a hedge of passive resentment just 

as impenetrable. The initial sales resistance of a slum child, to beauty or freedom, is amazing; but with 

what widely opening eyes does it yield, after the first attempts! 

That anything has changed, in England, in this respect, during a second world war, only those will 

believe whose thoughts are delivered to them, with the milk, in pictures and headlines. ‘They feared 

the “low” and hated and despised the “stuck-up”, and so they “kept themselves to themselves”, 

according to the English ideal’; thus wrote Mr. Wells in Kipps, many years ago. The ‘low’ and the 

‘stuck-up’, in this strange island, hold the same feelings towards the in-betweens. The moon seems 

nearer to us than the ideal of each-for-all, in this land which ‘must be free or die’, and yet suffered 


But in foreign policy, since we live in a tiny island off the European mainland, we cannot keep 

ourselves to ourselves, unless we wish to succumb, in an orgy of mutual detestation, to a foreign 

conqueror. Our enemies and our friends choose themselves. Our indispensable ally, if we are to win 

this war soon and to have after it the peace we sorely need, is Russia, and this applies to all of us, 

whether we travel third, second or first class. It applies equally whether Russia is Bolshevist, 

Communist, Anarchist, Monarchist, Republican, Fantastic, Surrealistic, Masochistic, Fascist, National 

Socialist, Atheist, Deist, or Uncle Tom Cobbley. It applies even if every Russian paints himself green, 

stands on his head and sings Aztec love songs in Esperanto. 

The most ominous and disappointing thing in this war is that, even after four years of it, when we so 

direly need peace, confusion about Russia should stand between us and victory. This can only happen, 

I surmise, because of one other thing. 

We hear a lot nowadays about ‘vested interests’, a phrase which denotes the prolongation of some evil 

state of affairs by persons who stand to profit from its continuance. But war is the greatest vested 

interest of all. More people stand to gain by its protraction than by that of any other evil state of affairs 

imaginable. When thousands of men die each day, as in the last war, they cannot have their way. 

When a war drags on without heavy casualties, their position is very strong. 

Masses of English people long desperately for an end to this war. They are the fighting men long 

separated from their women folk and children, the wives, and decent citizens generally. But there are 

many others who lose nothing by the war, who gain substantially by it. They may not consciously 

realize the fact, but they find life pleasant and experience no active yearning for an early return to 

peace. Manufacturers who reap great profits and workpeople who earn high wages; politicians who 

have selflessly renounced their salaries but receive far more than before in non-taxable ‘expenses’, and 

company directors who are exempt from income-tax because their fees are paid tax-free; the enormous 

army of officials who are exempt from service but enjoy accumulating privileges; the great legion of 

people ‘reserved’ to deliver lectures about poison gas, a weapon which, as the specialists know, will 

not be used in this war because it is ineffective: all these and many more, whether they realize it or 

not, have a vested interest in the war, and feel no vigorous urge to press for its ending. 

Their existence, and the fact that our casualties have not yet been insupportable, combine to form a 

mass of opinion at least passively favourable to the dragging-on of the war. Their existence enables 

the confusion of thought about Russia to continue. 

If we do not strike soon, and so break the stalemate, dangers will arise from this confusion which will 

make an almost inextricable tangle of the future. One new danger already looms up. Russia, being 

moved to even greater suspicion of our sincerity, begins to play with ideas of pressing into Europe, of 

occupying territory there for future safety! The Russians have already hinted broadly that they intend 

to keep that part of Poland which they entered when the Germans attacked from the West. Now they 

even encourage the formation, in Russia, by emigrants from Poland whom the Poles would certainly 

deny to be Polish, who themselves refuse to become Polish, of a sort of ‘Free Polish’ movement with 

the obvious aim of setting up something indistinguishable from a Soviet Poland in the other part of 

that country! 

Do you perceive, gentle reader, to what endless complications this indeterminate policy towards 

Russia leads? Our honour is bound up with Poland. We cannot acquiesce in the partitioning of that 

country. We might not have won the Battle of Britain without the Polish airmen who fought with our 

own men. Their share in the victory was great: read Squadron 303, by Arkady Fiedler (Peter Davies, 

1942), if you are not acquainted with it. Do we wish to be faced with the choice, when the war ends, 

between handing Poland over to Russia, as we handed Czechoslovakia over to Hitler, or fighting 


When we promised Russia ‘all possible help’ (at the German attack in 1941) we should have insisted 

on a clear understanding about Poland first, and then struck. Now, the shadow of new trouble grows 

out of this question. 

Here The Times pops up again. The Times, on March 10th, 1943, just as Mr. Eden flew to America to 

discuss such matters, printed an article on ‘Security in Europe’ which greatly alarmed all the exiled 

Governments in London. It said, among other things, that  

The sole interest of Russia is to assure herself that her outer defences are in sure hands; 

and this interest will be best served if the lands between her frontiers and those of 

Germany are held by Governments and peoples friendly to herself. 

Now, what sinister thing is this? Poland did not attack Russia, nor ever threatened any harm to Russia. 

Poland fought against Germany, and then was divided between Germany and Russia, for the how 

oftenth time in history. The thing The Times claims for Russia is exactly that which Hitler claimed for 

Germany in respect of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Neither of those countries threatened Germany. 

The claim was a lying pretext for aggression and annexation, preparatory to a great war. 

The Polish Government in London was officially told that the article in The Times did not represent 

the British Government’s policy. But this rings an ominous bell in my memory. 

On November 29th, 1937, The Times, of which I was the Correspondent in Central Europe, published 

a leading article which carefully launched the suggestion that Austria’s destiny lay in union with 

Germany. It caused a minor panic in the Austrian Government, which was only assuaged when, as the 

Austrian Chancellor himself told me, the British Government stated, on his inquiry, that ‘there is no 

change in British policy in Central Europe’ and that England ‘would not permit any change in the 

status quo in these parts’. On March 11th, 1938, Hitler marched in. The British Government accepted 

the change without changing countenance. 

On September 7th, 1938, The Times, in a leading article, launched a proposal for the cession of the 

‘fringe of alien populations in Czechoslovakia’ to the Reich. A flood of public protests was the result. 

The British Government issued an official statement that ‘the suggestion in The Times leading article 

… in no way represents the views of the British Government’. On September 18th, 1938, Mr. 

Chamberlain presented an ultimatum to Czechoslovakia in the exact sense of the suggestion made by 

The Times on September 7th. The ‘fringe of alien populations’ was duly transferred to Germany at the 

British command, and the new war became certain. (I resigned from The Times at that moment, feeling 

that the knowledge and experience of a trained foreign correspondent were valueless to it.) Six months 

later, Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia. 

Now, in 1943, The Times makes a similar suggestion about Poland. The British Government 

repudiates it. 

We may march towards even worse dilemmas, through this incorrigible and intolerable confusion in 

our foreign policy. 

We cannot surrender Europe, either to Germany or Russia, without surrendering ourselves. Though 

Magdeburg is but Maidstone in German, and Pont l’evêque not much more than Abbotsford in French, 

none of us are ripe to give up nationhood, and we in this island do not wish to.’ Are we fighting this 

war for merely another Munich? 

It is urgently necessary that we should clarify our relations with Russia, for the dangers multiply, as I 

have shown. We should insist on a clear and just agreement about Poland, and strike to win this war. 

First things come first, and the first thing for us is foreign policy. Not only our island safety, but such 

liberty as mankind may ever win, in this mortal world, depend on it. In war-time, foreign policy is 

easy for Englishmen to understand. It is, to fight the enemy. When they return, they hand over the 

torch to the men who sent them, but did not fight. Thus is the torch lost. Having fought, they should 

never take their eyes off it. 

After the last war, men revived, and adapted to our times, the symbolic rite of the eternal flame, which 

was never allowed to go out, night or day. They thought thus to keep alive the memory and guard the 

faith of the million men who died in the last war. Somewhere, that pathetic flame probably still 

flickers, though it sank in 1935 and went out at the time of Munich. If the men who come back from 

this war could think of our foreign policy as that flame to be cherished, and not as two words which 

they but dimly comprehend, they might in good heart start on their journey and be sure that they 

would find a secure future, a happier breed and a freer land, in 1950 and 1960. 

That will not happen if they leave their affairs, unwatched, in the hands of men elected to Parliament 

and then forgotten. The key to foreign policy is Russia. Even now, in the midst of the war, we threaten 

to lose it. We need to reach an arrangement with Russia quickly, as the price of the blow for victory 

which we should strike without further delay, about the frontiers of Poland; a land which we cannot 

desert if any faith at all is to remain in this country. After that, we need an alliance with Russia for 

fifty years. 

On that basis, we may have the long peace we need. It is the first thing we need, and first things come 


























Chapter Two 


‘A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies,’ wrote Oscar Wilde. ‘Truth standing on its 

head to attract attention,’ scoffed Le Gallienne, of such Wilde talk. But men will often only look at 

truth when you use some such device to attract their attention to it. 

The jest, at all events, contains a major truth, for us. Germany, by the numbers of its people, their 

warlike inheritance, the ambitions these produce, and its place on the map, chooses to be our enemy. 

We cannot build a tight little island, unless we recognize the danger. One thing alone will make 

Germany our friend: our own strength, supported by a Russian alliance. This is sad for people who 

like, though they do not know, the Germans, and for those who dislike, though they do not know, the 

Russians; but it is true. 

It will remain so when we return to Civvy Street, and for long to come. We are urged nowadays to 

read a Russian novel, called War and Peace. The book of our future is called, Peace or War? This is 

the answer to the question. 

You may no more hope to abolish day and night, than to escape from this inexorable choice. We can 

only finish this war quickly, have enduring peace after it, make this island safe and hold the Empire 

together, if we realize that Germany chooses to be our potential enemy and that we must choose 

Russia for our indispensable ally. 

That this war still goes on and that we have not yet won it, is in my belief due to the fact that 

international forces, whose interests are not ours, who do not care about our people or our island safety 

or our future, still seek to blind the British to this truth, and have substantial success. But these 

islanders will be mad if they allow themselves to be bluffed again, and their eyes to be diverted from 

the enemy who chooses himself. The delay in ending this war is already deeply suspicious, and can 

only profit international arms manufacturers and power-seeking groups. It places our future in 

jeopardy again.[9] 

The coming of the war seems neither to have dispelled the illusions, nor checked the machinations, 

which caused it. The public is again being misled about the inexorable choice of enemies and allies. 

Even before we reach Civvy Street, we shall hear again the cry ‘Don’t try to keep Germany down’ 

which was used, after the war began, by the late Sir Nevile Henderson. In my experience, the people 

who use such phrases care nothing for the weal or woe of Germans. They pursue other motives. 

The Fair Dealers raised their voices in the last war, as we approached victory, and defeat advanced on 

Germany. A Mr. Walter Runciman, M.P., was then approvingly quoted by the German Chancellor as 

‘expressing the opinion that we should be nearer to peace if accredited and responsible representatives 

of the belligerent powers would get together in a small circle for a mutual exchange of views’. He was 

a member of the ‘Lansdowne Group’, which (at a time when Germany was everywhere victorious) 

advocated early negotiations to end the war. The proposal was repudiated by angry public protest. It 

seemed to die. 

Did it, though? Twenty years later, in 1938, a Lord Runciman was chosen to visit a small country far 

away, which our politicians ‘knew nothing about’. He recommended the surrender to Germany of that 

part of it which contained its defences. Mr. Chamberlain enforced the surrender by threatening to 

abandon Czechoslovakia to its fate; he thus destroyed the Third Front and the dam which prevented 

this war. 

Thus we may prick our ears now, if we wish to hear the first sounds of the next war, in 1963, and 

prevent it. 

In the summer of 1942 Lady Snowden spoke, in London, to the Anglo-Swedish Society. Before this 

war, she caused alarm and despondency to hard-working British newspaper correspondents in Berlin, 

who fought to awaken this country to the impending danger. She went to Germany, and after ‘five 

days’ intensive search for the truth’ there, wrote:  

There is no antagonism to England in this country … On the contrary, there is an earnest 

desire on the part of Herr Hitler and his people for friendship with England, and if it 

should rest with him and them there would be no war … But there is a sad and growing 

conviction that nothing the German spokesmen can say or do will advance by one iota 

those fraternal friendships which … are so ardently desired if they can be honourably 

achieved … The secret of Herr Hitler’s power lies in his selflessness and his sincerity … 

He is a simple man of great personal integrity … I would not hesitate to accept his word 

when promised. 

(Lady Snowden supported in 1917 the arguments of the ‘Lansdowne Letter’). ‘A great difference of 

opinion’, reported the Evening Standard in 1912, ‘has arisen about what she meant in her speech. Lord 

Sempill, who was in the chair, tells me he understood her to express the opinion that a negotiated 

peace was desirable “when the time is ripe”. Lord Sempill says he agrees with this suggestion. But 

Lady Snowden, when I spoke to her, warmly denied the suggestion that she advocated a negotiated 

settlement. “There can be no discussions with the Nazis”, she said, “and I said that at the luncheon. My 

exact language was, ‘We cannot negotiate with men who have elevated bad faith to the status of a 


(A few Nazi leaders, ‘guilty men’, will disappear as the war goes on. That is irrelevant. The 

disappearance of the Kaiser benefited us not at all.) 

‘When Lord Sempill said he agreed with the idea of a negotiated peace’, the Evening Standard 

continues, ‘I asked him at what point he was prepared publicly to suggest the course he would like 

followed. “At the moment when the military situation is dominantly in our favour”, he replied, “and 

when the time comes we want to benefit from the experience of the past – we don’t want another 

Versailles.” I then asked him if he would introduce a motion in the House of Lords on the subject. 

“Yes”, he said, “and I am sure I could get a lot of support for such a motion”.’ 

Seemingly we move, then, from the Lansdowne Letter of 1917 to the Sempill Motion of this year or 

next. But we have made an Alliance with Russia which engages us not separately to negotiate with, or 

make any armistice or peace treaty with, any German Government. 

‘The old world is dead’: thus Professor Carr, of The Times, ends his book, Conditions of Peace 

(Macmillan, 1942). What nonsense. We move in a circle, like a cat chasing its tail. The old world 

remains unchanged. The same mistakes are repeated in the same way, as if we were only born 

yesterday. The same futile phrases are used: they have not even been exchanged for utility phrases in 

war-time. They are mortally dangerous, for many people clutch gladly at a phrase of straw, instead of 

swimming further in the waters of thought and seizing a lifebelt of truth. 

The worst of them all is, ‘No Second Versailles’. I have challenged hundreds of its users, and never 

found one who had read the Versailles Treaty or knew how it worked. No treaty can be maintained if 

the victors are inflexibly resolved to allow the losers to rearm and make a new war; that was why this 

treaty now lies in ruins. It was in its main provisions the best treaty Europe ever knew. Never before 

were so many Europeans free to live their own lives. 

Are we, then, when the din of war begins to be drowned by the pandemonium of peace, or even 

before, to repeat every mistake we made before, like blinkered asses on a water-wheel? 

If we are, for what do such men die as Richard McLeod of Hull, who wrote to his mother before the 

bombing raid from which he did not return:  

If I am killed, I know it will be in the most glorious and Christian engagement to which 

it has pleased God to call a member of our house. You know how deeply I felt about 

Czechoslovakia. Judge, then, how much greater my feelings are when I know that this 

is for Britain. Despite all that lies close to my heart, I look upon this as secondary to the 

establishment of a life of peace and security for all the little races of the world for 

which we fight, and particularly the Czechs, who have filled me with admiration. 

This spirit and this ideal are in danger of being betrayed once more. The lag in our prosecution of the 

war, the neglect of chances to strike and win it, become sinister. Confusion is growing about an issue 

which should now be clear: who is our enemy, and do we intend to defeat him? We have been 

promised that ‘nine months’ of 1943, which expire in October, will at last bring clarity. If they do not, 

we shall be thrown back into the miserable darkness of the pre-war years – when the British people 

clearly saw that Germany was choosing to be their enemy, but their leaders denied that this was so and 

retarded our armament while the self-chosen foe prepared!  

















Chapter Three 


The English have a passion for what they call thrillers and I call dullers. Whodunit? Was it murder, 

and by whom? Through endless pages they plough, in search of the answer to this problem. The 

motives which may lead to a murder are of enthralling interest. But death is final, and the process of 

unravelling afterwards is no more absorbing than the opening of a road to discover the cables beneath 

– an operation which always attracts many beholders. 

But if they like Whodunits, let them take with them, as they go through Civvy Street in search of their 

future, the greatest mystery story of all time. It is our own story. But we are not dead; we live. The 

corpse stands up, and goes on again. We nearly died, though. 

Whodunit? Who led us up the garden path; what footpads waylaid and nearly killed us? Why did they 

do this? Where and when may we expect to meet them again, in Civvy Street, and how may we thwart 

them? Who told us, this is the road to peace, and led us straight to war? Who took our savings, 

destroyed our businesses, and sent our sons and daughters away? 

About 1950, you may come to the solution. That would be time enough, to foil ‘Them’ at Their next 


Whodunit? The best detectives begin by searching for the motive. Find the motive, and you may find 

the assassin. And where may one look for the motive? Why, among ‘the guilty men’, Hitler and his 

grisly gang, of course: that is what the footpads will blandly say, when we meet them in Civvy Street 

again. They will hope, by that deceit, to lure us into another dark alley. 

No. Germany held the bludgeon, but we needed first, to be delivered to the footpad. Then, whose was 

the profit? 

I think the answer is: international bankers; their cousins, international arms manufacturers, with their 

offspring trades and kindred industries, particularly oil; and international power-seeking groups. 

‘The whole world will be much poorer after the war,’ said the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir 

Kingsley Wood, on February 2nd, 1943. It is patently untrue. Wealth is transferred by war, not 

destroyed. The small man whose house and furniture have been destroyed, who was forced to close his 

business and go to fight, will be poorer. His neighbour, whose house and furniture were not destroyed, 

will own property many times more valuable than before; the big store which remained open when the 

little shop closed, will be richer.[10] The cost of an exploding shell or bomb is not blown to 

smithereens; the money lies to the credit of the manufacturer who made it. The ten shillings in every 

pound, which now are taken from our incomes, do not evaporate; they maintain the stupendously 

swollen legion of exempt officials. As in all these wars, some become richer, others poorer. No 

poverty afflicts the great bankers and armament syndicates: this is their harvest-time. A big book 

could be written about the enrichment of some and the impoverishment of others, during this war; and 

it should be called, ‘Profit at Home!’ 

We begin to see the motives!  

The Correspondent of the London Times came in to give me a report on the effects of 

the London protest to Hitler about rearming – a protest made after England and the 

United States have sold millions of dollars worth of arms to Germany. 


The American Ambassador in Berlin, William E. Dodd, 

writing in his Diary on December 5th, 1934. 


The British investor put more money into Europe than into the whole of the Colonies – 

more money into the Dutch East Indies than into the whole of British Africa. 


Mr. Herbert Morrison, Home Secretary, on January 10th, 1943. 


While ex-Servicemen sold matches and played barrel organs, the Big Five Banks were 

vieing with each other to see which could lend the most millions to the Hun. ‘Put 

Germany on her feet’, was the slogan and they certainly succeeded in that. Are we 

going to do that again? There has been a hint of it in some of the Foreign Secretary’s 



Lieut-Commander Braithwaite, M.P., Conservative, 

Holderness, in the House of Commons. 

I saw something of those transactions. After Hitler came to power, and high-speed rearmament began, 

the German Government, like a policeman deftly slipping the handcuffs on a citizen, calmly shackled 

this country to the German war machine by withholding payment of a large amount of short-term 

loans, when they fell due. An arrangement was reached, called a ‘Standstill Agreement’; the foreign 

bankers agreed to leave the money in Germany, interest being paid. These agreements were annually 

renewed. Each year the bankers from London arrived to talk things over, spent pleasant days in the 

Adlon Hotel, and departed, praising Germany’s fairness in the matter. All knew that the capital sum 

was spent on armaments, and that these would presently be used against British soldiers. 

British newspaper correspondents were not allowed to tell this story of Germany’s rearmament, urgent 

warlike ambitions, and the way the new war was being financed. Some of these bankers were on the 

boards of great armaments concerns and of British newspapers. While the British journalists were 

prevented from telling the truth, these newspapers, and the politicians, told England that ‘Hitler is a 

peace-loving man’, and that those who said the contrary were ‘warmongers’. 

These sums remain in Germany. What part will they play, after the war, or even in shaping the future 

course of it? Bear them in minds when the cry of ‘Give Germany a Square Deal’ goes up! (Readers 

should also consult Philip Noel Baker, The Private Manufacture of Armaments, Gollancz, 1936, and 

Bernhard Menne, Krupp, William Hodge & Co., 1937. They may also bear in mind that the three 

inter-war Conservative Prime Ministers all originated from the daugher-industries of the arms trade. 

When Tory M.P., by Simon Haxey (Gollancz, 1939), was written, sixty Conservative Members were 

directors of armaments and allied industries.) 

In the last war, things happened which aroused tempestuous protest from the outraged conscience of 

mankind. The Germans occupied the Briey Basin, a mineral-bearing district which lay between France 

and Germany and was rich in iron. The French never bombed it, or tried to put it out of action, though 

the Germans were using the iron for munitions. The works belonged to the de Wendel family, which 

belongs to the greatest French munition manufacturers. The scandal became known during the war, 

and after it a stormy debate raged in the French Parliament. But it led to no result: the influence of the 

Comité des Forges, the French Federation of Heavy Industries, was too strong. The Frenchmen who 

were killed by the shells made from those ores, were dead! Conversely, German soldiers were killed 

by British shells, the nosecaps of which bore the mark ‘KPz96/04’ (or, Krupp patent fuse), the patent 

fees having been credited by the British makers to the Krupp account. At little German goods-stations, 

the Krupp name and trade-mark were filed or ground off high grade steel bars before they continued 

their journey to Switzerland (and France). British metal merchants made deliveries of iron ore to 

Rotterdam, in peaceful Holland (for Krupps). A French armoured cruiser stopped a Norwegian vessel 

containing 2,500 tons of nickel from French New Caledonia for Krupps, half of its cost already having 

been paid by Krupps; a French prize court declared the cargo to be contraband of war, but an urgent 

order from the French Government released it, and it was delivered to Krupps. 

And so on, and so on. A long war, not a short one, could be the only desire of the people, in all the 

belligerent countries, who profited from such transactions. The same motive certainly prevails, among 

similar people, to-day. In that war, the Press retained much freedom in all the countries which fought; 

hence the exposure of such things. In this war, the Press has been muzzled. 

Nevertheless, we know of a transaction in this war which trumps, in bestiality, even those of the last. 

After the invasion of Austria, it became clear that Mr. Chamberlain and his Tory cohorts meant to help 

Hitler to destroy Czechoslovakia. At that moment, I remarked to a bewildered colleague, on a café 

terrace in Prague, ‘This can’t be stupidity; it must be treachery’. For this would (1) destroy the Third 

Front, which prevented Germany from beginning the war while it stood; (2) we should thereby hand 

over to Germany the Czech defences, and therewith, all Czechoslovakia; (3) we should throw away 

the four armoured divisions which the Czechs held ready to put against the German five (Lord Gort 

faced the Germans without even one fully armoured division). 

But that was not all. The territory which we would compel Czechoslovakia to yield to Germany, 

contained the Skoda armaments works, at Pilsen, the arsenal of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its 

war-time output would be prodigious. And British money was invested in it: a sound investment, if 

British foreign policy remained honest; but a mad one (we then thought) if British foreign policy 

handed it to Germany. How little we knew! 

The Skoda Works were given by Mr. Chamberlain to Hitler. How many tanks and guns have the 

Germans made there, and how many of our men have been killed by them? The French laid much of 

the blame for their collapse on the Skoda-made tanks which the Germans use. 

That is bad enough, but worse follows, in this chapter of our Whodunit? Truth becomes not only 

stranger, but beastlier than fiction. The picture of a British soldier being killed by a tank which our 

Government, while England cheered, forced the Czechs to hand to the Germans, is bad enough. But 

consider another picture: that of a British shareholder, during the war, receiving dividends on his 

Skoda shares, while his neighbour’s son is shot down over Skoda by a Skoda-made gun or night- 

fighter! The R.A.F. were sent there! 

This is what happened: 

After Munich, the British conscience was soothed by the news that the British Government would lend 

what remained of Czechoslovakia £6,000,000 ‘for reconstruction purposes’. The stricken and 

amputated state was thus to be healed and helped on its feet again. 

When Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia, six months later, most of the £6,000,000 stood to the 

Czech credit in London. It was promptly blocked, so that the Germans could not get it. The British 

Government compelled the surrender to Germany of the Czechs’ own gold, held by the International 

Bank, in Basel, on the board of which we were, and still are represented. 

What happened to the £6,000,000? Was it returned to the credit of the British taxpayer? No! The 

payment, out of it, of the claims of British creditors ‘seemed reasonable’! The British holders of Skoda 

6 per cent debentures received their money. The Treasury Order authorizing this was issued in March 

1940 (When Mr. Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, Lord Simon Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir 

Horace Wilson Head of the Treasury), a few weeks before the Skoda-made tanks crashed down on the 

British and French troops!  

Inaccurate headlines like ‘Dividends from Death’ and accusations of usury draw the red 

herring of prejudice across the trail [wrote a financial expert in a London newspaper], 

Skoda debenture-holders are ordinary commercial creditors, and cannot in justice be 

treated differently from other such creditors. The suggestion that armament-makers are 

afflicted with a double dose of original sin reads a little queerly in these days. 

The people who put their money in Skoda did so in good faith, and if Governments could be trusted to 

tell the truth and pursue an honest foreign policy, they even chose a patriotic investment. But the 

causes of war can never he removed if men may think, ‘Well, come war, come peace, come victory or 

defeat, whether the weapons this concern makes are used for or against my country, I shall get my 


Nothing can justify the payment of interest to British shareholders in a business which now makes 

arms to kill their own countrypeople. They should lose that money, and thus learn the need to watch 

the actions of their governments. What objection could these debenture-holders feel to a new Munich 

Agreement or a new war, in twenty years time? Can any find decent congruity in the picture of these 

payments, being made by the British Government to shareholders in German-occupied arms factories, 

while our land is placarded with appeals to private charity for ‘the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund’? Are the 

orphans of a man shot down over Skoda to depend on alms, while the State pays interest to share- 

holders in that same concern? 

I hope some begin to perceive the real nature of the Munich Agreement, for their future after this war 

depends on their understanding it. The trouble with individual British investors in international arms 

concerns is not that they have a double dose of original sin, but a quadruple dose of aboriginal apathy; 

if they would watch politics as closely as they watch prospectuses, the British creditors of Skoda 

would draw their dividends to-day in a world at peace and without shame to themselves. But much 

original sin is in a Government which applies public funds to such an end at such a time. 

This detestable transaction is the trueborn child of the Munich Agreement, and breathes the spirit of 

that pact now pronounced dead, but yet alive. This should be included in the history books, for the 

benefit of the growing generation. Two English children of to-morrow, if they were to ask the famous 

question of the last war, ‘What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?’, might respectively be told, ‘I 

bombed Skoda’, or, ‘I drew my dividends from Skoda’. 

The great question, ‘Whodunit, and why?’ takes on a sharp edge when these things are studied. The 

breakdown of the peace began with the Japanese attack on China in 1931. Our leaders wagged 

admonishing forefingers at the Japanese. During the next two years, fifty-three licences for the export 

of war materials to Japan were issued in this country. One big firm alone sent nearly £500,000 worth 

of arms during that period. America sent many times as much. These were but pickings. The real 

profits began when the Japanese were ready and soldiers from the West were sent to fight them. Heads 

I win, and tails you lose! British, imperial and Indian soldiers paid the price, at Hongkong, Singapore 

and elsewhere; Americans, at Pearl Harbour. On the stock exchanges, they talk of ‘making a killing’, 

when they mean, to make money. Here, both were made. 

Whodunit? The larger pieces of the puzzle fall into the places. We grow warm, gentle reader. We 

approach the motives and the culprits. 

But what of the weapon? I think we have found it. Call it The Hidden Hand, or Anonymity. 

The further you probe into these things, the more clearly you find that power to-day is wielded by men 

who lurk in shadow, whose instruments the politicians merely are, those public figures which you 

acclaim to-day and curse to-morrow. 

Call these men, collectively, Anon. You may believe that a God exists, in heaven; then why not a 

demon, on earth, called Anon. Anon is many men, and we have seen the main groups to which they 

belong, in the realm of commerce. (Religion supplies another, and territorial ambitions, deriving from 

a book thousands of years old, another.) All are super-national; all pursue aims which cut through the 

interests of the communities of peoples called nations, or states, which they use as their instruments. 

Only by assuming the existence of this non-national, anti-national, super-national, international 

demon, Anon, can I understand Mr. Lloyd George’s words (April 7th, 1923):  

Wars are precipitated by motives which the statesmen responsible for them dare not 

publicly avow. A public discussion would drag these motives in their nudity into the 

open, where they would die of exposure to the withering contempt of humanity. 

You perceive, gentle reader, why our statesmen always say ‘No recriminations’, ‘no scapegoats’, ‘no 

public inquiry’, ‘the past is past’, ‘no useful purpose would be served …’, ‘this information would not be 

in the public interest’. 

Mr. Lloyd George is an authority. He was not ‘responsible for a war but he became responsible for 

conducting one. No greater expert, then, lives. Why ‘dare’ he not publicly avow these motives? If but 

one man, of his weight, would say all he knew, we should have peace for a long time. 

He confirms my explanation, that hidden motives exist for these wars. But if the statesmen ‘dare not 

avow these motives’, they must be in the power of others, of Anon. 

Let us make this thing vivid and comprehensible by considering one such man: 

Hendrik August Wilhelm Deterding was born and died a Hollander. How many realized that, when 

they read some servile gossiper’s paragraph about Sir Henri, or even Sir Henry Deterding? He received 

a British order, carrying a knighthood, for the great help he gave, in the last war, in ensuring our oil 


He was extremely successful in the oil business, wealthy and powerful. During his life, most of the 

world’s oil came under the control of two great concerns, one of which he led. The importance of oil 

should now be clear to the dullest. Next to a monopoly of food or drink, nothing could give the 

monopolist such power over mankind. (The oil monopoly seems to have been sometimes fiercely 

contested, sometimes tacitly shared between the two concerns.) 

Little has been published in this country, about the political power wielded by the oil concerns. In 

America, several books have appeared. The law of libel, a formidable instrument for preventing the 

British public from learning that which it should know, has been used to prevent publication here. This 

is one reason for the prevailing ignorance on the subject; another is the subservience of the Press to 

such powerful interests. 

One leading London newspaper, in the inter-war years, undertook to publish six articles explaining the 

politics of oil, the way they cut through national interests, and particularly their influence for peace or 

war. They stopped at the fourth article, and when the writer asked, why, the editor replied: ‘The oil 

articles brought about my ears a very considerable whirlwind, and if I were you I think I would lay off 

oil for a bit. It is too big a racket to handle safely.’ 

Here the reader may gain a glimpse of the inhibitions which work in newspaper offices, and infer for 

himself how far they are likely to tell him the truth. 

But back to Deterding. In 1918 the British attacked Russia and occupied the Caucasus, the great oil- 

district of Southern Russia, where the two great international oil concerns held great interests (you 

may remark, gentle reader, that Hitler, who still hopes to gain our support, or at least our inactivity, 

while he is engaged with Russia, particularly attacks this region). The Bolshevists refused to 

disintegrate, and the British withdrew, leaving White Russians in occupation. In 1920, the Red 

Russians drove them out, and since that momentous day a large oilfield has been outside the 

ownership and operations of the international concerns. 

This was confiscation! It was not worth the bones of a single British soldier, then or twenty years later. 

For that matter, the Bolshevists, who needed international help, eagerly sought an arrangement with 

the former owners. Conferences at Genoa and The Hague came to nothing. They were dominated by 

the vengeful figures of cosmopolitan oil magnates who, though not delegates to them, filled the big 

hotels around, (‘Anon’, in the background!). 

From that moment Deterding was obsessed with hatred of the Bolshevists. It is fair to say that he lived 

for the day when they would be overthrown (he foretold this as imminent, repeatedly), and the 

Caucasus oil be restored to its foreign owners. Being immensely powerful, he was able to press this 

aim in many ways. Several British newspapers became the mouthpieces of it. (Some may remember 

the placards, ‘No Soviet Oil sold here!, which were distributed to garage owners.) 

He was entitled to his opinion. The point is, that he was able to exert influence on British policy and 

politicians, though a new war on account of the Soviet oilfields was no interest of the inhabitants of 

this island. True, in one letter to the Press he accused the Bolshevists of ‘not playing cricket’; but his 

birth, thoughts, feelings and interests were not British, but international. 

His second wife was a Russian lady. They spent much time in Paris, and he spent large sums in 

training young émigré Russians there in the way they should go. 

His third wife was a German woman. When the new war approached, and his dream of Bolshevist 

humiliation seemed to approach realization, he retired with her to an estate in Germany. There just 

before the war began, he died. 

This is an important fragment of the story of Anon, of yesterday and of this war. Such a man could not 

feel that the safety of this island was the paramount thing, that an alliance with Russia was 

indispensable for it. He could only think of the oil of the Caucasus, and did not mind what soldiers 

died to get it, if it were only regained. He was but one of many who were powerful behind the scenes. 

These things we did not know, last time we stumbled through Civvy Street, towards an avoidable war. 

This time, we know, and need to watch our step. We need to know who shapes our course, what hands 

are outstretched to alter it. The curse of anonymity is heavy on us. The structure of our public life has 

been built to prevent us from seeing what goes on behind the scene while, in front, a Minister stands 

and says, ‘We realize that our safety lies in alliance with Russia and shall pursue that policy’. 

The misery of this war should not be prolonged, or a new one brought about after it, because 

somebody’s factory was confiscated in 1918. I object to the fact that, if my books were translated into 

Russian, no payment would reach me, and do not protest less strongly because my books are outlawed 

in Russia, and for that matter in Germany. I might write a book one day which would be published in 

Russia. My dues would be confiscated in practice, for I would not wish to visit Russia merely in order 

to spend, on hotels and meals, whatever roubles lay to my credit in a Russian bank. 

I should violently object to this confiscation. But I would scarify any who urged that, for such reasons, 

we should encourage some other country to attack Russia or make war on Russia ourselves. That 

would imperil a much greater interest of mine, and my compatriots, than my earnings as a writer; it 

would imperil the safety of this island. 

Perhaps this personal illustration may make a plain thing clear. It is the simple but vital principle 

which such powerful men as Deterding cannot understand, because their roots are international. 

Such men were powerful enough, behind the scenes, to lead us into a new war, from which they 

thought to fetch private chestnuts. Consider once more, in this light, the events of 1935, when the war 

really began. We shall meet 1935 again, as we pass through Civvy Street, and we cannot construct 

something, in the future, unless we understand them. 

In 1935 the British Government, alarmed by the protest of eleven million people, pledged itself to 

check aggression – and to prevent the coming war. The case in point, though it was in fact the 

beginning of this war, was the seemingly local episode of Italy’s attack on Abyssinia. None of the 

experimental exploits, with which the warmakers probed the strength of the nations pledged to 

preserve the peace, could have been easier to check. Not even armed force was necessary. The coveted 

territory lay far away, across sea and desert. The aggressor’s supplies could have been cut off knife- 

like, by the others combined, and led by Britain. He owned no oilfields, and drew his fuel supplies 

from the outer world. 

Our hand, then, was on his jugular vein. We needed only to squeeze, he would release his victim, the 

world would applaud a British victory more famous than any gained in war, aggression would collapse 

in ignominy, peace would be safe for long to come. ‘The oil embargo might clearly force the 

termination of hostilities’, said Sir Samuel Hoare. 

Oil! But, twenty years before, Caucasus oilfields were taken from the foreign holders. The aggressor, 

Fascist Italy, was anti-Communist! 

Within a few months of the 1935 election, the British Government wrecked the oil embargo. In 1936, 

Mr. Chamberlain declared, amid oleaginous applause, that the very thought of an oil embargo was 

‘mid-summer madness’. This war began. 

The strength of these hidden men, who pursue their ambitions on our shoulders, could not be more 

clearly revealed. ‘I have shown one, Deterding. We shall meet others, lurking in the shadow in Civvy 

Street. They are our enemies. The secret of their power is, Anonymity. 

War, the red flower, grows from seeds planted in peace. The seeds are the ‘motives which the 

statesmen responsible dare not avow’. These motives, then, exist in peacetime. It follows that the 

statesmen who seem to wield power, in peace time, are the instruments of hidden motives, deriving 

from hidden men. Mr. Lloyd George’s words are clear, and we are entitled to take them at their full 


They show how dangerous is the habit of giving idolatry to Ministers of the day, which has grown up 

with this. This country has yielded to it thrice, in recent times. Mr. Baldwin, Mr. MacDonald and Mr. 

Chamberlain were built into idols by the Press, which is often controlled by persons unknown, and by 

the broadcasting machine, which is a government monopoly in our country alone (of lands professing 

to be democratic). The credulous saw heroic figures, which they worshipped. They suspected nothing 

of this hidden mechanism, these concealed promptings. 

We have Mr. Baldwin’s own admission that he deliberately misled the country to win an election. Mr. 

MacDonald’s biographer says ‘There was the dogged, unshakable loyalty of the miners and their 

wives; they simply could not believe that their idolized hero would be a traitor and a renegrade’ [ed: 

renegade?] (though he was these). Mr. Chamberlain’s claim to idolatry is now open to examination. 

The method by which public idolatry is created may be seen in the statement of one of his Ministers, 

on the eve of Dunkirk, that he was a superman, on whose model we ought all to be built. When Mr. 

Chamberlain was dead, the same speaker was asked, in a Brains Trust debate, who was the greatest 

orator of our day and at once replied, ‘Mr. Churchill’ (by this time, Prime Minister). 

Whodunit? A great screen of anonymity has been built between the people and those ulterior motives 

of which Mr. Lloyd George spoke. They see only public spokesmen; they do not suspect what goes on 

back-stage. If this continues, we shall re-enter Civvy Street blindfold, and never know where we go. 

Only this vast apparatus of anonymity, I believe as I look back, enabled the country to be drawn into 

this war. It takes a hundred forms: the Official Secrets Act, the Libel Act, and the blunt refusal to give 

names of officials responsible for grave misdeeds, who yet wield great power; the refusal of inquiry 

into national disasters; the withholding or deliberate falsification of information, without subsequent 

penalty; the anonymity of newspaper ownership or control; the concealment of relationships between 

Ministers or politicians and banking or armaments interests. 

In this war the armour of anonymity, behind which these ‘motives’ work, has been immensely 

strengthened. Never was so much withheld from so many, as in this age of our Ministry of 

Information. The denial of information, under Mr. Churchill’s leadership, has become more habitual 

than before. 

More than once, in this war, Mr. Churchill has spoken of military disasters, which befell us, as the 

gravest in our history. Yet for the first time in our history, enlightenment about them is refused! (‘In 

every previous war dispatches have been published’ – Sir R. Glyn, M.P., in December 1942.) 

Information about Hongkong, Singapore and Tobruk has been denied. In the case of Dunkirk, alone, 

have the Commander’s dispatches been issued. We know what happened; we may not know why it 


If you read these dispatches, you will find no justice in the relegation of Lord Gort, the Commander. 

He was made ‘a scapegoat’. The blame belonged to others, who were not soldiers, into whose conduct 

all investigation is refused, with the cry ‘No scapegoats?. Yet here, you might come to those ‘motives’. 

Here, you might find Anon. 

‘No scapegoats’.[11] 

This, the denial of responsibility, is Anon’s most powerful shield and the cause of our troubles, past 

and to come. 

The principle of non-accountability in all circumstances cannot be defended. Only behind this screen, 

can hidden men and hidden motives wreak their will. We reject this monstrous doctrine in every other 

department of our public life. When General Cunningham advised caution in Libya, he was deposed. 

Lord Gort, though he was blameless, was exiled to Gibraltar, after Dunkirk. General Auchinleck was 

dismissed when the battle went ill in Africa, and General Ritchie, too. 

Of the real responsibility, the political responsibility, alone, may we never know anything. This makes 

nonsense of the rest, for it leaves Anon in power. What will it avail us in 1970, if we come to another 

Dunkirk, and a general is removed, while the men who armed his enemy and left him without arms or 

supplies, remain in office and cry ‘No scapegoats’? 

What will it profit us, that the Foreign Minister should in future be empowered to dismiss an 

unsuccessful Ambassador, if Anon dictates a policy which spoils the work of any British envoy? 

Consider Sir Nevile Henderson, the last British Ambassador to Berlin. No ‘reforms in the Foreign 

Service’ would have helped us, in this case. He was chosen for his post because he held certain views. 

I doubt whether any other senior member of the British Foreign Service could have been found, so 

blinded by prejudice that his sense of British national interests was hopelessly impaired. But for those 

who thought that Germany might be brought to attack Russia and regain the Caucasus oilfields, or 

those whose German-invested money was gone into the German war-machine, he was the ideal 

Ambassador. He was the worst possible one from any other point of view. Who prevailed, then? 

The dismissal of generals, the talk of ‘reforms in the Foreign Service’, are but dust in the public eye, 

while anonymity and non-accountability remain at the top. If Anon retains power at the fountain-head 

of power, he can warp the work of ambassadors, thwart the efforts of generals, after this war again. 

But that is the situation, as long as ‘No questions and no recriminations’ is the implacable last word of 

every succeeding Prime Minister. 

Because of this, we shall meet at the beginning of Civvy Street, not only the great barrier of 

Enclosure-in-everything, but a blackout: anonymity and non-accountability. Under its cover, the 

things were done which caused this war, and they could not have been done in the light. If they are to 

be left hidden, our future is beset with the same dangers. 

Whodunit? Of our Ambassadors, only Sir Nevile Henderson has been allowed to publish a personal 

apologia, one of the most gravely misleading documents of our time. But the deviation in our foreign 

policy, which led to this war, was not the result of misinformation supplied by our Ambassadors, and 

the public is deluded again if it gains this impression from the much-vaunted ‘Proposals for the 

Reform of the Foreign Service’. Sir Nevile Henderson, alone, was capable of gross misconception of 

affairs. The other British representatives were often men bred to an enclosed state of mind, who gave 

signs of physical pain if brought together with any from without the pale. But they did not subordinate 

their judgment or patriotic feeling to caste prejudice or red-spots-in-the-vision. They were perfectly 

informed by their subordinates, and by the British newspaper-men, and perfectly informed the British 


While Sir Nevile Henderson was allowed to say his piece, the tale these men could tell has not been 

published. That would cut Anon’s claws. 

Our Ambassador in Berlin before Henderson was Sir Eric Phipps. (Before him, was Sir Horace 

Rumbold, of whose plain warning, given a few weeks after Hitler came to power, I have written in 

another book.) Sir Eric Phipps wrote in The Times on February 3rd, 1943:  

The idea seems to prevail that his Majesty’s representatives abroad in the years 

preceding the war failed to keep H.M. Government properly informed of financial, 

political, naval, military and air force conditions in the States to which they were 

accredited. Was this really so? Only a Blue-book publishing their correspondence 

during those years can answer this question. When the late Sir Nevile Henderson 

returned from Berlin at the outbreak of war he was authorized to publish a volume 

which proved conclusively that every effort had been made by H.M. Government to 

maintain peace … What the British public should know is whether H.M. representatives 

abroad warned their Government from 1933 onwards of the grave dangers ahead, and, 

if so, why those warnings were disregarded … Diplomatists are being accused of living 

too sheltered lives; but was it not rather the public that was allowed to live in a 

sheltered world of illusions while H.M. representatives abroad struggled with grim 

realities? Our political system seems to need some reform whereby public opinion will 

be properly enlightened by politicians with sufficient courage to reveal the truth, 

however unpalatable, to the nation. Unless these wider and more essential reforms are 

also carried out it is to be feared that no great results will come from merely divesting 

the diplomat of his old schooltie. 

That is the exact truth. I am strongly in favour of opening the Foreign Service, and all British service, 

to unmoneyed men from modest schools (the ‘Reforms’ which have been announced will not do this; 

they are a fraud). But all our ambassadors might be drawn from free schools, and they could 

accomplish nothing if their information were suppressed and ignored at home, and the British 

Government pursued a policy contrary to their reports; Sir Eric Phipps is completely right. (I only 

differ from this authority in one point. If ‘the politicians’ are too dependent on some secret tutelage to 

speak the truth, or are too cowardly, why should not an ambassador resign and warn the country? 

That, after all, is what I did in my small sphere, and I ran more financial risk than any diplomat.)[12] 

Thus the ambassadors have been kept silent, save the one whose words can only mislead further. The 

curtain of anonymity is drawn ever tighter round the throne of non-accountability. Of the generals, one 

has spoken, but his words reached few. This was Brigadier-General J.H. Morgan, who served on the 

Commission sent to Germany, after the last war, to supervise disarmament there. Speaking in London 

on December 19th, 1942, he said that in 1923 he reported to the War Office, but this was never made 

public, that in his opinion, as a result of the investigations and our control, the Germany Army at that 

date, although limited by the treaty to 100,000 men, really consisted of 500,000 newly-trained men. ‘In 

reply’, he said, ‘I was informed by the Director of Military intelligence, “We think yours is a 

conservative estimate”. Unfortunately, that was never told to the people or to Parliament and the 

world, and Germany was able to get away with it by spreading abroad the legend that she was totally 

and completely disarmed.’ 

In 1923! Sixteen years before the war began, and during every day of those years trustworthy 

information poured into the British Foreign Office. Behold, gentle reader, the curtain which is kept 

between you and the truth. 

Of our admirals, one, Lord Chatfield, an erstwhile First Lord of the Admiralty, wrote in March 1942:  

The true story of the causes of our lamentable defence position in 1938 is known to 

few. I am one of those few. I have written that story and one day it will be read; but it 

would not be altogether desirable for the nation to read it to-day. 

He is wrong. Nothing could be more desirable. Hushing-up only leads us to worse troubles. In 

November 1942 he published the first volume of his Memoirs, The Navy and Defence (Heinemann). It 

tells the story of the last war. The second volume, which should contain that essential knowledge of 

‘the causes of our lamentable defence position’ in the present one, has not been published. ‘The causes 

of our lamentable defence position’; ‘wars are precipitated by motives which the statesmen responsible 

for them dare not publicly avow’; his words and Mr. Lloyd George’s look like first cousins. 

Lord Hankey, who also could better serve this country by speech than by silence, wrote, of Lord 

Chatfield’s Memoirs, ‘It is to be hoped that Authority will not hold up too long the appearance of the 

second volume’. 

Senior air officers, too, have told me of their urgent warnings about the strength of Germany, their 

appeals for aeroplanes to be built. 

Mr. Herbert Morrison, speaking to America, once said: ‘The British people saw sooner than their 

Government that Hitler and his gang were thugs who had to be stopped.’ It is not true. The British 

people could not see that, because the evidence was falsified and kept from them. If they now believe 

little they hear, that is the reason. They felt that, yes, but they were not allowed to see it. 

I have given, in four books, a mass of evidence to show that our governments were fully informed of 

German rearmament and warlike intentions, and of the certainty of war if the foreign policy which our 

situation demanded (quick rearmament and a Russian alliance) were not pursued.[13] 

And what was the result of it all? We were brought to disaster and Dunkirk, and only survive to-day, 

in my opinion, because the enemy, inexplicably, did not strike. 

Even when the war began, that hidden something still held us down. We did not strike to help Poland, 

we did not bomb Germany, we did not fill the gap in the Maginot Line. As to that, a most sinister 

piece of evidence has just come to light. 

The Maginot Line, behind which the similarly deluded French people were told to feel themselves 

secure, stopped short of the coast. The gap was mainly held by British troops. About December of 

1939, British war correspondents returning from France told me that this gap was not being adequately 

fortified. They could make none listen, in London, they said.[14] 

Now important information about this grave affair has been published in Johannesburg. Colonel 

Deneys Reitz (then Deputy Prime Minister of South Africa and now South African Minister in 

London) and Mr. R.G. Casey (then a member of the Australian Government and now British Minister 

of State in Cairo), after a visit to France, made direct representations to Mr. Chamberlain, in 

December 1939. 

This is what Colonel Reitz says:  

It was clear to me that humanly speaking the Maginot Line was impregnable, but the 

rest of the French and British line, beyond the Maginot fortress, struck me as a very 

different proposition…. Mr. Casey and I both served in France in the last war and were 

well acquainted with the conditions holding in this region. We were greatly perturbed 

by what we considered the lack of preparation against a German assault. Even in the 

Maginot Line itself the French commanders were busy night and day reinforcing the 

line by concrete strong points to the rear, whereas in the rest of the French and British 

line we thought the defences were wholly inadequate. So strongly did we feel this that 

we decided to make immediate representations to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, 

Mr. Neville Chamberlain. 

Colonel Reitz then quotes, in confirmation, a letter from Mr. Casey to himself, from which the 

following is an extract:  

My dear Reitz: I spoke to Eden about our seeing Chamberlain about our visit to France. 

He says such a visit would ‘not cause any embarrassment and is speaking to the Prime 

Minister in order to arrange it … The simple fact that we wanted to convey was that we 

sincerely believed the 25-mile line now held by the British Army in France was 

dangerously deficient in concrete protection for troops and arms and that this belief was 

more than emphasized by our visit to the French sector, where day and night efforts are 

being made to reinforce by concrete in depth the already formidable concrete defences. 

The French army commander, General Conde, stated and emphasized over and over 

again that he would never be satisfied that he had sufficient concrete and that it was the 

only answer to the modern weapons of the tank and air bombardment. Finally I would 

be prepared to say that I felt myself obliged to bring this matter prominently to the 

notice of my Government. I am, yours sincerely, R.G. Casey. 

Colonel Reitz then continues:  

We duly saw Mr. Chamberlain and I remarked at the opening of the interview, Sir, if 

you will pardon a vulgarism, the Germans will go through the French and British lines 

like a dose of salts. Mr. Casey and I then proceeded to explain to him what we felt to be 

the shortcomings of the French and British defence lines beyond the Maginot Line. Mr. 

Chamberlain gave us no definite reply, but promised to obtain reports of his military 

advisers. Obviously, on my return to South Africa, I could not mention these things; but 

I feel that after this lapse of time no harm can be done by stating what actually took 


When, in September 1939, Mr. Chamberlain, who in September 1938 promised ‘peace in our time’, 

declared war, he said: ‘There is only one thing left for me to do: that is, to devote what strength and 

powers I have to forwarding the victory of the cause for which we have to sacrifice so much.’ 

Not even that promise was kept. Two of the great Dominions knocked – as how many British 

representatives and newspaper men abroad knocked for years before – at the door of 10 Downing 

Street, with their urgent warning, in December 1939. In May 1940, the Germans came through the 

unclosed gap ‘like a dose of salts’. 

This is the gravest evidence yet disclosed about that dark period, ‘the astonishing seven months’, to 

quote Mr. Churchill’s words, who has refused inquiry into it. 

Mr. Eden has said, ‘Every word that has been said about the shortage of equipment suffered by the 

British Army in France is fully justified’, but associates himself with the denial of inquiry. 

A well-known political writer, Mr. A.J. Cummings, recently said: ‘The really entertaining book will 

have some such title as The Idle Months, or Time is on our Side. It will lift the curtain on that 

extraordinary and mysterious period between the declaration of war and the German Blitzkrieg in 

Western Europe. Who, if he has the knowledge, will have the courage to write it?’ 

(I would write it, but it would not be ‘entertaining’.) 

‘We cannot say, the past is past, without surrendering the future.’ Yet Mr. Churchill now says ‘The past 

is past’. 

What was the final balance? 

The British Army in France was authorized to surrender. (Lord Gort’s Dispatches.) 

In this country was ‘not even one fully trained and fully equipped division’. (Mr. Eden, October 23rd, 


In this country were ‘less than 100 tanks’. (Mr. Churchill, December 15th, 1942.) 

In this country were, how many fighter aeroplanes? We have not been told that, but the Americans 

often know more about us than we, and the New York Herald-Tribune of December 17th, 1942, said 

there were ‘only three squadrons of fighter aircraft intact in Britain’. 

The present head of our Air Force thought ‘all was up’. 

(£1,500,000,000 was voted by Parliament for arms in 1937.) 

The War Minister of the time, Colonel Stanley, after a rest, has been restored to the Government as 

Minister for the Colonies. Many other Ministers from the Governments responsible remain in office. 

If any reader who knows my other books will add the material contained in them to this, he will see 

the shape of a terrible indictment, which cannot be ignored unless our future is to be put in jeopardy. 

The pass was open. The foe did not enter. When he attacked, three months later, many new aeroplanes, 

of our own making or American supply, were ready. That he did not come in June is inexplicable. He 

could have destroyed the Navy at a cost, heavy, but worth the prize: world domination. If we are not to 

have one word of explanation of that, if the men who did this are to govern us for another twenty 

years, what prospect does Civvy Street offer? 

All is to be hidden behind the curtain of anonymity. A future Prime Minister, while we are kept 

unarmed and our enemies prepare, may again tell us in 1964 or 1965, as Mr. Baldwin told us in 1934 

and 1935, that ‘no country within striking distance of our shores will be allowed to outarm us in the 

air’, that ‘Germany is not approaching equality with us’, and the like more, and all his colleagues may 

connive, knowing that responsibility for any calamity may be waved aside with the words, ‘No 


We deserve better than that, but shall not get it without a Battle in England. For Mr. Baldwin has 

retired to earldom, Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Chamberlain are dead, but the machine they built lives 

after them and has been left intact. 

Whodunit? We may see now, if we will, that these men were puppets. We have dimly perceived the 

shapes of other men, behind, to whose gain this war works, or whose obsessions it feeds, or whose 

plans it furthers. We may be pretty sure who did it. We can detect how they did it: by using the 

weapon of anonymous power, by working in the blackout.  

Our political system seems to need some reform whereby public opinion will be 

properly enlightened by politicians with sufficient courage to reveal the truth, however 

unpalatable, to the nation. 

This diagnosis (of Sir Eric Phipps) is exact. These wars could not happen if the truth were known to, 

instead of being concealed from the country. 

How may we thwart Anon? 

Members of Parliament, if they lack the native courage to liberate themselves, should have the 

shackles of dependence struck from them by revival of the olden and golden rule that they may accept 

no paid employment, in any form, from the Government or its associated monopolies. They should be 

forbidden to sign a pledge of unquestioning obedience to Party orders, which falsifies any pledge they 

make to their electors. They will not find the spirit to press for these things, after the degrading effects 

of the past eight years, and should be prompted to it by the return of a large number of militant 

Independent Members. 

The discussion of our fighting forces, on which our safety ultimately rests, should be accompanied, at 

the presentation of Defence Estimates to Parliament, by a report on the actual expenditure of money 

from previous Estimates (the mystery of the £1,500,000,000 voted in 1937 remains buried beneath the 

doctrine of non-accountability and non-accountancy). The pretence that this is ‘not in the public 

interest’, and might be useful to foreign powers, is a fraud. The knowledge that we are strong would 

deter them in warlike ambitions. Statements, such as those of Mr. Baldwin which I have mentioned, 

which exaggerate our strength, which are false, but which delude the British public, encourage them to 

make war, did much to produce this one, and are certainly not in the public interest. The heads of the 

Services should attend the Defence Estimates debate in the Commons, and testify to the accuracy of 

the information given. 

The Government should annually lay before Parliament, and this should be published without 

curtailment in the Press, an exact statement of British foreign investments. Investments within the 

Empire should be encouraged, and a fixed ratio set. Investments in foreign countries should be 

forbidden for the armaments and allied industries, and banking loans similarly debarred, unless our 

defence position is proved, by the production of authentic information in public debate, to be secure, 

and the Russian alliance is firm. The public cannot satisfy themselves that these conditions exist 

unless accurate information about foreign policy, armaments and investments is supplied. Deliberate 

misinformation about these subjects was the means by which the public was lulled into allowing this 

war to approach. 

The Official Secrets Act should be amended so that it may no longer be used against the interests of 

the country by anonymous persons. (Diplomats or serving officers, for instance, who knew that 

official statements to the country about relative British and German air strength were untrue, would 

have been intimidated by the threat of this Act, had they resigned and warned the country.) 

Ambassadors, serving officers and civil servants, should not be placed in conflict between their loyalty 

to the country, which is paramount, and their allegiance to the Government of the day – since we now 

know that Governments of the day wilfully misinform the country. 

The most dangerous gap is that indicated in Sir Eric Phipps’s letter: ‘Did H.M. representatives abroad 

warn their Government from 1933 onwards of the grave dangers ahead, and if so, why were those 

warnings neglected?’ 

How can a government of the future be prevented from pursuing, from some ulterior motives, a 

foreign policy contrary to the wish of the country and to the information supplied by its own 

representatives? A check in this can only come from the revival of an independent spirit in Parliament, 

the present abject plight of which is our greatest danger. This, again, can only be produced by 

Members independently returned to Westminster for the specific purpose of exposing and mending the 

abuses which have grown up there. 

The independence of the Press should be restored, and the quickest way (but one closed now, like 

most useful things) would be to issue an independent newspaper. Every newspaper should be bound, 

by law, to publish the names of its proprietors and board. To-day, the power behind the Press is 

anonymous. One newspaper came into conflict with the Home Secretary, and the names of its 

proprietors were published. More than half of them were men whose names could not even be 

ascertained by a visit to Somerset House and consultation of the register; they appeared simply as 

‘Somebody’s Bank Nominees’! Thus, the power to tell millions of people things, each day, is vested in 

people who conceal their identity. The Home Secretary stated that he possessed ‘the power’ to make 

the newspaper divulge their identity, and by saying this he used a powerful weapon, not to compel 

their disclosure ‘in the public interest’, but to make the newspaper desist from criticizing the 

Government (which happened). As far as the common weal was concerned, the anonymous owners 

might continue hidden. 

This is important. From much experience, of the way public opinion may be misled and malformed, I 

know that an essential measure towards the cleansing of public life in this country is that the people 

who buy and read newspapers should know who those are that not only print and sell them, but 

express violent opinions, and arrange the information they print according to their own purposes. 

Another thing which injures the public interest is the hidden influence of ‘the advertisers’ on 

newspapers. (I have shown how it worked in the matter of oil-politicians.) If newspapers represent 

themselves as organs of public opinion, these inhibitions should be removed. A ‘censorship in the 

interests of truth’ should take the place of the many subtle interferences with it. This could be achieved 

by simple legislation to restrict advertisement revenue to a decent proportion of newspaper income. 

Without this, and the disclosure of proprietorship, newspapers become the instruments of Anon, 

whose ends may or may not be ours. 

Above all, the shield of anonymity which stands before the Civil Service should be removed. At the 

time of Munich, the British public suddenly learned that a man whom it hardly knew even by name, 

Sir Horace Wilson, was playing a leading part in an issue which was, literally, of life and death for 

many English people. A public inquiry, and a full report, is needed into the powers which the Civil 

Service have come to wield in anonymity. It is indefensible that men completely unknown to the 

public should wield all manner of undefined and unrealized powers, in the country’s most vital affairs, 

and that, whatever mistakes or misdeeds they may commit, they remain cloaked in anonymity. 

All these things, and many more, go to make the demon Anon in this country, who was as guilty of the 

war as the puppet Hitler, behind whom stands a German Anon. If the people of our island know what 

is going on, they can be counted on to see that wars are prevented, or that they are in good state to 

fight them if they come. The great edifice of falsehood and secrecy which has been built around our 

affairs, prevents them from forming a judgment, and it has clearly been raised for that purpose. It 

should be torn down, when the Battle in England is joined. 

Whodunit? I think we have found the footpads, international men; and their motive, monetary or 

territorial gain; and their weapon, anonymity. If we fall into the hands of these thieves next time we 

pass through Civvy Street, we shall deserve our fate.  


















Chapter Four 


As our prospects in the war improved, mainly through the resistance of the Russians, a murmur began 

in this country, and grew into a chorus, of the kind which usually presages something evil for us. After 

the war, said these voices, ‘Germany must be re-educated’. 

Germans, that is, are to be made good! We shall teach them how to behave; teach them, that to oppress 

small nations is wicked, but that the Hoare-Laval Pact and the Munich Agreement were virtuous; 

impart to them our renowned code of fair play. 

Fun is fun, but this is a serious matter, and at first I suspected a misprint. The urgent need, obviously, 

is to re-educate England. But these announcements accumulated; clearly the speakers knew what they 

said, if not what they talked about. 

Then I perceived the nigger behind this woodpile (for queer motives always prompt such pious 

proposals). He popped up in a report of ‘a week-end conference of the British Social Hygiene Council’. 

The name suggested a body formed to combat venereal disease. The debate, however, was not about 

such ailments. I still wonder what ‘Social Hygiene’ is. 

The report said that ‘Young scholars, psychologists and social reformers are being trained in America 

for the job of remoulding the mind of German youth after the war’. This, it added, was revealed by the 

chairman, Miss Maude Royden. A German doctor, escaped from the Nazis, to become a naturalized 

British subject, was ‘behind the plan’. After ‘sounding people in England’, he was gone to America, 

where ‘his schemes are shaping’. 

Behold the figure of one we know, the ‘friendly alien’ from Germany and Austria! If his ‘schemes’ 

should ripen, he is to take charge of ‘the mind of German youth’ after the war. The same idea then 

appeared in other quarters. A German newspaper published in London said:  

Those Germans who to-day apathetically allow everything to take its course, will 

slowly find the way back to civilization. Their children will have to be brought up on 

lines which wise, European humanists will set down. 

Next spake the Vice-President of the United States, Mr. Wallace, in the same sense. Mr. Wendell 

Willkie answered in words which I cannot better:  

Any post-war effort to police the education of our enemies, after the tradition of 

conquerors, will produce only resentment and hatred, and I shuddered to hear a member 

of our Government plan such a thing. Education must grow out of and carry on a native 

culture. To determine the nature and manner of their own education is the right of men 


This scheme, which takes shape behind the scenes, is seemingly one to force on the Germans an 

educational system operated by returning emigrants. This is no interest of ours; our interest is, to keep 

our island safe, and to build a house of Freedom here in a world at peace. A quick way to breed a new 

war would be to use the strength we shall have, at the peace, to enforce such schemes as this. It would 

implant in German minds deeper resentment even than a permanent occupation; and a permanent 

occupation would at least ensure peace. 

One way alone offers to re-educate Germany in the sense we desire: to maintain a British Navy and 

Air Force stronger than the German, a substantial Army, and a Russian alliance. Given those things, 

we need not choose teachers for German children. Without them, we may send thousands, but we shall 

still have war. Any man who still thinks the Germans can be ‘educated’ to leave us alone, if they think 

they can beat us, is a fool. Those who wish to ‘educate’ them do not even think of that: they seek 

power in Germany, under our wing. Brains in a comely woman have been called superfluous, and in a 

homely one, inadequate. The Germans think likewise about this kind of ‘education’. 

In Civvy Street, about 1960, I fear we shall meet men of pious mien who will say, ‘Don’t bother to go 

on. Germany is re-educated now, you have nothing to fear, and you may hand over your armaments to 

An International Union! Come for a ride along Apathy Avenue to Fool’s Paradise’. Beware: those are 

the confidence tricksters. 

Because English people, alone among Europeans, find these simple things hard to understand, 

England sorely needs re-education. Germany knows what it wants, and how to get it, if others allow. 

Our people hardly know how to keep what they have. 

Re-education begins at home, and a perturbing revelation of to-morrow’s Civvy Street was opened 

when the man who is now charged with our schooling joined in this ludicrous chant about ‘re- 

educating the Germans’. 

This is Mr. R.A. Butler, who is the living embodiment of all our problems. We shall often meet him, 

in Civvy Street. Englishmen hardly know his name, but his family’s place in the Tory encampment is 

so strong that none but himself could prevent him from becoming Prime Minister. If he should not 

reach that office, the reasons will be similar to those which might cause the Royal Academy 

reluctantly to reject an oil-painting containing neither colour nor outline, save those needed to portray 

an old school tie. The good Lord Simon’s shivering cronies, in his far-off Oxford Union days, said he 

‘might have been more impassioned’; they would have been lost for words to fit Mr. Butler. 

Here is the scion of Enclosure. He is President of the Board of Education, and thus should have charge 

‘of the mind of English youth’, after the war. He was Deputy Foreign Minister, before this war, and 

thus has an exceptionally intimate knowledge of the mal-education of the English. His office was, to 

inform the House, and through it England, about Foreign Affairs. Never was so little enlightenment 

imparted in so many words: the proverbial silent man, Calvin Coolidge, at least gave accurate 

information when, asked what the sermon was about on his return from church, he answered ‘Sin’, and 

further asked, what did the preacher say, replied ‘He was against it’. 

Mr. Butler, ‘with complete calm, succeeded in feigning ignorance and giving nothing away’. His 

reticence largely contributed to the mis-information of the British people, which enabled them to be 

drawn into this war. When he was promoted, he remarked that his inability ever to divulge any 

information, as spokesman for Foreign Affairs, was a Source of sorrow to him. The statement was 

seemingly ironic; but real woe and suffering for the British people were the result.[16] 

Mr. Butler, then, who is now Minister of Education, is the most typical product of the England which 

needs re-educating. He told the Commons in December 1942, in answer to a Liberal who wanted the 

Government ‘to concert with the Allied Governments measures for the re-education after the war of 

the youth of Germany’: ‘I am in touch with the Ministers of Education of certain of the Allied 

Governments and they have this question very much in mind. The re-education of the youth of 

Germany is a task of which I recognize the importance.’ 

Mr. Butler was not entrusted with that task. (Labour Members displayed an unusual feeling for reality 

by asking, ‘Will the Minister catch the young Germans before he tries to educate them?’, ‘Has the 

Minister thought how many youths there are in Germany who require this education, and how many 

teachers will be required to educate them?’, and ‘Will the Minister see that lectures are given to the 

Nazi youth after the war, showing how we built up our Empire and how to avoid these perils?’) 

The man who has charge of English education is on a slippery path, and would drag us with him, if we 


The re-education of the English is the vital thing. First, in the sense that they should neither be denied 

information about their own affairs nor lulled with misinformation: in this paramount department of 

education, Mr. Butler’s record does not promise well. Second, in the narrower sense of schooling; in 

this, Mr. Butler has at least promised well. He has stated the need for ‘greater opportunity and social 

equality after the war’. 

All politicians speak so, during a war; it counts as good for the spirit of the troops. But what needs to 

be done, assuming that he will practise his precept? 

Education in the sense of schooling, that sheltered period of the Englishman’s life before his mind is 

warped by the two mighty instruments of adult mis-education (the broadcasting monopoly and the 

alien near-monopoly of the films) has been ruined by Enclosure, which was continued into Education. 

The schools, too, were ring-fenced, and we call these enclosed schools, public schools. A narrow gate 

leads into them, marked Money, and a narrow gate leads out, marked Opportunity. 

By no other means may an Englishman advance, unless he buys-and-sells things or enters one of the 

artistic callings, which money cannot regiment. A few unmoneyed youths, by abnormal diligence, and 

persistence, may slip through the little side-entrance marked Scholarships; but even then, ‘the scholars 

are not spoken to at Oxford’. 

Thus the affairs of the country, and all the public Services, remain in the hands of the Enclosers. Such 

other talent as might benefit the nation is denied access. One government after another, in the inter- 

war years, consisted almost exclusively of men who displayed a piece of striped textile which said, ‘I 

may be foolish, but by Gad, my father was well-to-do enough to send me to Rugtonchester’. You 

cannot exclude nine-tenths of a great people and find only good leaders among the remaining tenth. 

For of what need we be ashamed, in our past twenty-five years? Solely, of our leadership. Since the 

people of this island again began to take a hand in our affairs, and that hand held a weapon, we have 

climbed to a higher summit, in the world’s esteem, than we ever reached before. The danger is, of 

another climb-down: that The Boys, when they come back and hand in their uniforms, will listlessly 

yield the leadership of our affairs, once more, to the men and the methods of the thrice-discredited 

past, and thereby surrender their future.  

From a certain amount of experience with the Brtisish soldier, I know how many will 

say, when they get back, as they said in 1918, ‘Well, that’s over and done with’ – except 

that they will have learned enough cynicism to add ‘but you wait until those bloody 

politicians muck it up again!’ To a few glorious exceptions it will occur that it’s up to 

them to do something about it, but oh, how few! 


From a letter from an officer in the 

Grenadier Guards, serving in the Middle East. 

This state of mind, of the volunteer-serf, our people should cast from them like a plague-infected 

garment. What is ‘Politics’, the word they fear? ‘Politic’, says the dictionary, means shrewd, sagacious, 

especially in policy; adapted to promote the welfare of the state’. ‘Politician’: one who is interested in, 

or occupied with politics. 

Every man should be a politician, in this sense. 

The mal-education of England, Enclosure-in-everything, from the land to opportunity, has produced 

the island of which Ascot is the portrait in miniature – the Enclosure, with the top-hats, and outside, 

the milling mob. On the last Ascot Day before this war, I was in the English countryside, near that 

racecourse. Around, the land lay in that state of grey neglect which so many castebound, foxhunting 

Ministers of Agriculture deplored, but did not remedy. The war was near, and already burdened the 

air. But the lanes were busy. Each cloud of dust was barely fallen, when a new one was stirred, as the 

shining limousines flashed by. Inside them, silk hats, and frocks from Paris. 

And now? The old order is changed?  

Major Sir J. Lucas asked the Minister whether London taxicab drivers are instructed to 

refuse fares to Newmarket and other race meetings; the Minister replied that there is at 

present no regulation under which taxi-drivers in London or elsewhere can be 

instructed to refuse fares to any particular destination (June 1942). ‘A bookmaker’s 

appeal against a conviction and sentence of three months’ hard labour and a fine of 

£200, for travelling to Newmarket by car for the St. Leger, was allowed; he was also 

allowed twenty guineas costs’ (September 1942). ‘A bookmaker’s journey by car to 

Newmarket was ruled “essential” by the magistrates at Harlow, and he was found not 

guilty of causing motor fuel to be unlawfully used; he said his firm had heavy 

commitments on the St. Leger, no less than £300,000 being invested on the day before 

the race.’ 

The old order, which the mal-education of England produced, which would have led to the conquest of 

this island, but for the enigma of Dunkirk, has not changed. It caused the loss of large portions of our 


That story, you may find in many books. Read the tale of the Tuans Besar, the self-enclosed big- 

businessmen of Singapore, in 0.D. Gallagher’s Retreat in the East (Harrap, 1942). It was repeated in 

Burma, next door; read how the Burra Sahib shut their minds within the Mingalodon Golf Club, near 

Rangoon, until the enemy entered:  

I say, excuse me, but you woke me up in the middle of the night. You came crashing 

past my bungalow, making a terrible noise. I thought it was enemy action. I jumped out 

of my bed into the trench. Would you please not do it again, or I shall have to inform 

the Committee. This is a quiet country club. We know there is a war on, but we try to 

avoid as much of the unpleasantness of war as possible. 

The picture, which all those descriptions gives, is one of a society in decadence, self-enclosed against 

every new idea and all new blood, living for tennis, bridge, dancing, cocktails and the tittle-tattling 

picture-papers from home, hostile to enthusiasm and energy, breeding few children, and concerned 

only, when one was toilsomely produced, to put it down for Eton.  

The few thousand British officials and merchants who made their living out of Malaya 

were out of touch with the people … Whether the British administration of Malaya will 

in future he adjudged a success or failure, the fact remains that the majority of the 

Asiatics were not sufficiently interested in a continuation of this rule to take any steps 

to ensure its continuance. 


Ian Morrison, Malayan Postscript (Faber, 1942). 

The story was told often enough before the war, though none would listen. Here you see British 

society in a Chinese ‘treaty port’ as long ago as 1922:  

Perhaps the conversation was less varied than the courses, for guests and hosts had seen 

one another nearly every day for an intolerable number of years and each topic that 

arose was seized on desperately only to be exhausted and followed by a formidable 

silence. They talked of racing and golf and shooting. They would have thought it had 

form to touch on the abstract and there were no politics for them to discuss. China 

bored them all, they did not want to speak of that; they only knew just so much about it 

as was necessary to their business, and they looked with distrust on any man who 

studied the Chinese language. Why should he unless he were a Chinese Secretary at the 

Legation? You could hire an interpreter for 25 dollars a month and it was well known 

that all those fellows who went in for Chinese grew queer in the head … They wore 

their evening clothes a little uneasily as though they wore them from a sense of duty to 

the country rather than as a comfortable change from day dress. They had come to the 

party because they had nothing else in the world to do, but, when the moment came that 

they could decently take their leave they would go with a sigh of relief. They were 

bored to death with each other. 


W. Somerset Maugham, On a Chinese Screen (Heinemann, 1922). 

But this Enclosure overseas was not a colour one, not the simple contrast of ‘black-and-white, brown- 

and-white, yellow-and-white. It was the reproduction, far away, of the order in this island, which has 

produced the repressed spirit now common to all classes, or money-groups of English people. 

It begins with Englishmen. Contemplate it, in a book published in Australia:  

Tribute should be paid at once to the British and Dominion women in various parts of 

Malaya who so quickly provided canteens for the Australian soldiers when they 

reached the country, and gave up so much of their time to operating them … It should 

be mentioned, however, that no voluntary effort was made before the arrival of the 

Australians to make easier the lives of British garrison troops, some of whom had been 

in Malaya for four years. The British Tommies were sore about this preferential 

treatment of the A.I.F., and rightly so. A prophet so lowly as a British private soldier 

had very little honour among his own people in Malaya in pre-war days.[17] 

Not colour-against-colour, then, or Pukka Sahib against untouchable, but Englishman against 

Englishman. Men from the Dominions might be invited into Englishmen’s castles, because they have 

not Enclosure, in their own lands, and one is as likely to be eligible as another. The Englishman must 

be kept out, until you know from which drawer of the Enclosure chest he comes, and whether it is the 

one with the striped tie in it. 

The picture is akin to, that which ‘the British Colony’ offered in many European capitals, and even in 

London itself, where the colony called Society, between the wars, led a similar existence of enclosed 

vacuity, among eight million Britons. 

During the Second World War, London was even enclosed against the British soldier! I do not 

exaggerate; this is but another facet of the thing Gilbert Mant observed in Singapore. An order forbade 

serving British subjects from spending their leave in London! Imperial, American and foreign soldiers 

were not thus debarred; I should like to see anybody try. They went to London as pins to a magnet. 

The British soldier might only go if his family were there, or he evaded the regulations. Even if he 

were stationed at Dover, and his family lived at Dundee, he was made to travel homeward by a 

roundabout route which deprived him of hours of hard-won respite. 

When American and Imperial troops arrived here, citizens were rightly encouraged to lavish 

hospitality on them. But I have known English villages where all doors were open to a man from 

overseas, and English soldiers, stationed alongside them, never entered a stranger’s house. This neglect 

of the man who has borne the brunt, who in Mr. Churchill’s words ‘will at once be sent to the other 

side of the world’, if the European war ends before the Asiatic, produced a pathetically comic episode 

in London. A newspaper proposed that the Americans should be allowed to beguile their leave by 

being given access to ‘the roofs of tall buildings’, from which they might contemplate the bomb-broken 

vista. The suggestion was applauded, and presently heads with American caps on them might be seen, 

speck-like, on those roofs. I modestly suggested that British soldiers, and perhaps even a native 

Londoner or two, under armed guard if necessary, might be allowed to look down on London, and 

later an obscure notice said that these lowly ones, too, might become freemen of London’s rooftops, 

for a moment. 

Will any gainsay me, that the re-education of England is the pressing need?  

The English have been under the impression that they were genuinely liked abroad; 

because they had money to spare and were easy-going, because they liked travel and 

could make themselves at home wherever they were, they thought they were popular. It 

has been something of a shock to them to discover in the course of this war that this 

was a delusion. Now, I think it will be admitted that they have many good qualities; but 

they are not good mixers and they are shy. It is pathetic sometimes to see them in a 

foreign country trying to ingratiate themselves and succeeding only in rubbing the 

inhabitants the wrong way. We are accused of snobbishness; and the charge is justified; 

it is perhaps our worst defect. It may be that it is natural to the English character; for it 

must not be supposed that it exists only in the upper- and middle-classes, it is just as 

strong in the working-classes. The wife of the skilled workman will hesitate to 

associate with the wife of an unskilled workman; and I know myself of a case in 

Bermondsey where a very nice, pretty girl was looked down on by the family of her 

husband, a printer, because she came from a street that was considered mean, though to 

my eyes there was not a particle of difference between the shabby little row of houses 

her husband’s family lived in and that in which her own family lived, and they were less 

than a mile apart. But the snobbishness of the well-to-do has certainly been fostered by 

the exclusiveness of their education. The public school – which in the United States is 

called private school – has been for more than a century a characteristic feature of 

English life and many good people are of the opinion that the better qualities of the 

English are due to its influence. It is generally believed (though I think erroneously) 

that the Duke of Wellington said that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing 

fields of Eton. Now it is evident that parents will no longer be able to pay the sums it 

has cost them to keep the boys at these expensive schools, and already many of them 

are at their wits’ end to keep going. They can only survive if they become once more 

what they were founded to be, public schools in which rich (such rich as there are) and 

poor can share the same education. They have outlived their usefulness, and I think it 

will be all to the good if, as the labour leaders desire, they are transformed into the 

same sort of institutions as the lycées of France and the gymnasiums of Germany. 

When all are educated together, rich and poor, highborn and lowborn, the class 

consciousness which is the great obstacle in the way of mutual comprehension must 

surely disappear. Whatever the origins and circumstances, boys in the same school, 

doing the same tasks, playing the same games, are equal; and I think it permissible to 

hope that when they grow up, whatever their conditions in after life, they will preserve 

a sense of the essential equality of all men which they learnt unconsciously at school. 

And it may be also that when the English of this particular class, instead of spending 

their most impressionable years herded with other boys, spend them at home, going to 

school for the day, when they mix with boys of all sorts, they will lose that shyness that 

gives so many people who don’t know them the false impression that they look upon 

themselves with excessive complacency. Then they will more easily gain the goodwill 

that their sterling qualities merit. 

Thus wrote Somerset Maugham, fresh from the disaster in France, in Strictly Personal (Heinemam, 

1942). The diagnosis contains only one fault. He appears to argue that the public schools should be 

reformed because people will no longer. be able to afford to send their sons to them. That is irrelevant, 

and not true. Early in the war, delusion about ‘the new poor’ may have been possible; now, we know 

that we shall have as many war-rich after this war as after the last. Not on that account, but to make 

the unhappy breed happy again, do we need a change. 

For we have tried the order of life based on Enclosure, and the first-, second- and third-class 

compartments in all things, and know whither it brought us and will again bring us, if we do not alter 

it. What has it bequeathed to us? When peace comes to be made after this war, the Government will be 

full of men, who wear the ‘Enclosure’ button in their lapels, who all repeatedly foreswore and denied 

The Things for which they now, incessantly, shriek that we must fight. 

Will any voter know for what he votes, or be able to put any faith in his future, if he returns those men 

to office again? 

The class system in Government, built on Enclosure, has proved its badness from top to bottom – for 

those few from below, who were let in, were as loath to break with it as those on top. They were 

dazzled by promotion from third to first class; the comfort of those cushions seduced them, and the 

feather’s entered into their spines. 

Not alone the German lust for conquest caused this war; that could have been checked. Graver 

milestones in our downhill story were Mr. Baldwin’s election of 1935, Mr. Eden’s resignation of 1938, 

and Mr. Churchill’s retention of ‘the guilty men’ in 1940, and in each of those episodes the sinister 

influence of the exclusive class order can be seen. 

Mr. Baldwin would not have ‘lost the election’, had he told the country the truth. But if he had, it 

would have been better for an incompetent Labour Administration to dither about in foreign affairs for 

a couple of years and then ignominiously give way to a strong Conservative one, which would have 

had time to prevent the war. His ruling motive was, at all costs to keep Labour out, and the country’s 

interest suffered. 

Mr. Eden resigned on an issue of honour and principle in which he was proved a thousand times right, 

and if he had followed it up, many of the best Conservatives, Socialists and Liberals would have 

joined with him to prevent the war. But, after the resignation, he only called for ‘unity’; that is, he 

urged the country further to support the policy he would not be associated with and the leaders he 

refused further to follow! This was an astounding thing, and can only be explained by the imprisoning 

influence of Enclosure. (Mr. Duff Cooper, also, to judge by his book, The Second World War 

(Jonathan Cape, 1939) seemed to be shocked by his own temerity after a resignation which counts as 

one of the few brave deeds in those abject years.) 

Mr. Churchill, in 1940, could have gained the support of the entire country for any reform he wished. 

To-day, the same men ride on his shoulders who for years decried him, and many of the men who 

supported him are outside the pale. 

The re-education of England presses, indeed. In this matter, on which our life depends, the great 

Dominions could teach us something. They love us. Why? Listen to a French Canadian priest, Father 

Sabourin, who went with the Fusiliers Mont Royal to Dieppe:  

We did not cross the Channel to fight for England, but we believed that we were going 

to fight, with England, for Canada. I do not come to say that I do not love England. I 

say that we fought with England, our ally. Why should I not love England? Because she 

still permits me to say my prayers on my knees each morning? Because she permits me 

to say Mass each morning in my church? … I will make a declaration, an act of faith 

still greater. At this moment I infinitely prefer to be a loyal British subject, I prefer 

infinitely more that it be England which guards my liberties rather than be under the 

sovereignty of no matter what other country in the whole world, and from that I do not 

exclude, alas, even France. I know, as you do, that the English Government is 

Protestant. Is it your fault that you are Catholic? Is it their fault that they are Protestant? 

Then, leave it to Providence to do what it has to do. But I do not want to rid myself of 

the idea that if I have all my liberties in my country, I owe it to England. In spite of the 

fact that the Government is not of the Catholic faith, I still prefer to be governed by the 

Anglo-Protestants there than to be under the control of Hitler, or of Mussolini, or of any 

other guardianship whatever, when Protestant England leaves me, a French Canadian, 

the right and entire liberty to practise my faith, to speak my language, to maintain my 

traditions. It was for that that we fought at Dieppe. 

They love us, then, for the priceless thing we gave them. They do not realize, detestable paradox, that 

we have lost much of the thing we gave. They, and their example, could give it back to us. 

For these men from the Dominions are freer than we. Their feeling of freedom does not spring alone 

from the freedom of which Father Sabourin spoke, freedom of religious practice. That, even we still 

have. It springs from two other things. Their lands are free. Their opportunities are free, because their 

schools are not enclosed. 

They have their political evils, their slums. But in those two great things they are free, and they rightly 

see the guarantee of this freedom in the strength of the British Navy and the continued safety of this 

island from foreign conquest. They do not remark, until they have lived here long, how much of 

freedom we have lost, through the enclosure of the land and the schools, since their own forefathers 

founded the Dominions on our island freedom.  

Inspiration may be obtained from a newer, fresher world. My father, for instance, was 

born a poor farmer’s son in the remoter parts of Nova Scotia. From this humble origin, 

he succeeded in educating himself and becoming, in course of time, a reasonably 

prosperous medical practitioner. This was not done through State-aided grants or 

scholarships, but rather by his own efforts at self-help in ‘working his way through 

college’ – by working in the vacation and earning sufficient to pay his fees in term-time. 

There was nothing unique about this: the same thing is done by many young men in 

Canada to this day. 


‘Odysseus’, Safer Than a Known Way (Jonathan Cape, 1941). 

That is the thing we gave the Dominions, have lost ourselves, and must regain, so that Mr. and Mrs. 

Wiggins of Wigan may say, over the baby’s cot, ‘Let’s tell him when he’s older how he may by his own 

exertions become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, artist, singer, or civil servant – how he may make himself 

useful to the country and himself’. To-day, Mr. and Mrs. Wiggins, having inherited only the taint of 

keeping-themselves-to-themselves, and knowing they cannot pay public school fees, say ‘Poor little 

chap, we wish we had the money to give him a chance in life. Have you filled in your football 

coupons, Dad? We might win something.’ 

‘Odysseus’ continues:  

Young men of every type, origin and class, should have this opportunity to rise in the 

world by their own efforts. Equality of opportunity is the vital ingredient – the health- 

giving vitamin, so to speak – of a healthy human society. Its importance tends to be 

overlooked; but it is the kernel of the whole problem. For equality of opportunity you 

need, first of all, a decent level of wages – so that a young man can earn sufficient to 

pay for an advanced education, or alternatively set himself up in an independent 

business, if he so wishes; you need a truly democratic system of education, i.e. for rich 

children and poor children both to go, side by side, to the same schools; you need an 

entire absence of class feeling. These conditions are not present in England despite all 

our talk of freedom and social justice; they are not present owing to the low level of 

wages in the first place and to the prevalence of social and class prejudice in the second 

– the latter being reflected particularly in our system of education. The State-aided 

grants and scholarships that take their place are more of a sop to the social reformers 

than a genuine attempt to tackle the problem at its root. The chances of a child 

obtaining a ‘first-class education and a consequent entrée to a higher grade of society 

without substantial financial help from parents are small; his chance of success in any 

walk of life is smaller still if he is of humble origin – if he has not been to one of the 

correct schools. It is only the occasional ‘man of genius who is able to overcome this 

latter handicap – a handicap considerably intensified over the course of the last twenty 

years. This system, and the short-sighted political outlook it has engendered, have 

brought our country to the verge of destruction; clearly, if we are to ensure our survival, 

it must be altered in the most radical fashion. 

Thus a man whose parents found opportunity in a Dominion, who himself looks at England with 

widened vision. Our order of Enclosure and Exclusion has produced, at the top, a ruling class of 

proven incapacity, absorbed only in maintaining the outworn distinctions of wealth and position and 

thus blind to the greater interests of the land; if you look back at its performance, during the past 

twenty-five years, you may exclaim, with Dr. Johnson, ‘Why, Sir, Sherry is dull, naturally dull; but it 

must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of 

stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature’. 

At the lower end of the scale, it has produced those men who fight so staunchly, who have restored our 

name to the zenith of fame, but whose ‘average standard of intelligence, is a disgrace to the rich 

country which underfed and now conscribes them’. By inserting a punctured disk into the petrol feed 

of a motor-car, you may ensure that it can only move slowly. This has been done to the minds of our 

people. Why train our minds, they think: no opportunity offers, to use them. 

Thus we breed the type of fourteen-year-old who wrote this letter to a London newspaper:  

I have learned very little from my nine years of schooling. Do you know I can’t even 

speak correct Enlish? I know nothing of Shakespeare although I have many of his 

books. I can’t understand them. Nor can I speak any language or do mathematics. Much 

as I would like to know all these things I haven’t had the chance. In fact, I am generally 


(An even worse product of mal-education was the reply printed by that newspaper: ‘This grousing 

ignoramus wants to blame education, which taught him to read, because he cannot read Shakespeare. 

He cannot understand it, though there are dictionaries available for sixpence. He is “generally 

ignorante” in the midst of the finest school continuation system in the world. Heavens alive! He’s not 

worth educating.’) 

I have the utmost sympathy with this boy. I felt exactly as he feels, when I left school at thirteen. I felt 

the prompting to learn and achieve, but could see no way. All doors were closed. To widen the mind 

and improve the body, choose a career and train for it: these things were only for the moneyed. Later, I 

did find ways; but when I look back I see that luck helped me, and how many others can count on 


When we set foot in Civvy Street, we shall at once meet this enormous obstruction built across it, this 

money-filter placed between the people and the service they might render themselves, the community 

and the country: the enclosed schools, with their monopoly of opportunity. 

What do schoolmasters themselves think of it:  

The public schools represent and perpetuate a great social cleavage. There are two 

‘nations’ instead of one. There is no community or fellowship between them and the rest 

of us. If we are to have that democracy to which we are all paying lip-service, then our 

educational system must be conceived and built to promote it. The social problem is 

bound up with the education system. 


The headmaster of an East London School, Parmiter’s, 

writing to the Press in February 1943. 


Mr. Harold Nicolson gives as three of the virtues of the public schoolboy: humility, 

tolerance and a sense of responsibility ‘towards those who are less fortunately situated 

than himself’ … Ten years teaching in small public schools and some little contact with 

them during a headmastership of twenty years in a country grammar school left me 

with the impression that the most obvious characteristic of the public schoolboy is 

exclusiveness … the opposite of those three qualities. The spirit of exclusiveness is 

fostered in many ways. The public schools have their own Headmasters Conference, 

Year Book, schools examination; they have regulations against the admission of 

tradesmen’s sons from a neighbouring town; they play games only against other public 



Mr. R. Williams, writing to the Press in February 1943. 

The enclosed schools always boasted that they formed character. We do not strive to produce 

academicians, they said, but Men Of Character, fitted to rule. You cannot produce an article of quality, 

from a mould, if quality is not the condition of the stuff you put in. But quality is not the condition, 

only money. The flaw is in the mixture, not the mould. The result has been, that the most patent fault, 

in the men who ruled England between the wars, was lack of character. They cared less for truth than 

victory at an election, less for honour than a temporary advantage, less for England than Enclosure. 

It is a rotten order. But the English do not like to root out even a rotten thing. They prefer compromise. 

That may be good, if it does not lead them to perpetuate grave evils from fear of ‘anything radical, any 

change’. Fear of violent change is good; fear of reform is imbecile. The simplest way to reinvigorate 

England is to reform this system. Give every man equal opportunity, for his children, and the future is 

secure. None need think this a revolutionary, or even a new proposal. I only echo the words of all the 

great men, from Mr. Churchill and Mr. Butler on. The difference possibly is, that I would do this 

thing, if I could. 

The Headmasters Conference (the league of the enclosed schools) is presided over by the headmaster 

of Winchester. (Much power, privilege and wealth in England is in the gift of this college alone, for 

the benefit of babes unborn whose parents say: ‘Let’s put him down for Winchester’.) 

The headmaster of Winchester said (January 1943):  

The policy of the Headmasters Conference is (1) That the schools should be made 

accessible to parents who would at present be unable to afford the expense. 

The headmaster of Rugby said (November 1942):  

The public and boarding school must remain, but not as a backwater or pleasant 

tributary, as it is at the moment. The money qualification must go. We and our critics 

object to that with all our hearts. 

The headmaster of Aldenham (January 1943) expressed a wish that ‘every school in the country should 

become a Christ’s Hospital’. (The method of admission to this school, roughly, is that the same tests of 

intelligence and character are applied to each ‘potential pupil, and the fees charged are in proportion to 

his parents’ income-tax return. This is better than the order prevailing at the enclosed schools, which is 

that of a highly-priced ticket of admission entitling the bearer, without further ado, to a front stall in 

England for the rest of his life.) 

Mr. Butler, who is intent on re-educating Germany, was more cautious, in October 1942: ‘Just as our 

political system has become democratic, people are looking for an extension of that system into the 

field of education. We have to build a system that will give equivalent opportunities to all, by degrees 

…’ and so on and so on. 

The statement that ‘our political system has become democratic’ has the same relation to fact as a poem 

would have which sang the fragrance of Gorgonzola cheese. 

From the headmasters, then, we might hope for some help; little, because behind them lurk the Boards 

of Governors. From Mr. Butler, representing the Party that adores Enclosure, we may expect none. 

What do the plebs suggest? The National Association of Schoolmasters, in September 1942, rightly 

called the enclosed schools ‘the most exclusive employment agency in the world’ and bluntly 

demanded that they be swept away, ‘as the virtues of the public schools training for leadership are 

incompatible with democracy’. 

If the others do not go far enough, these go too far. Such windy phrases often kill a good cause, in 


What should we then do? (and bear in mind that Germany, after defeat, will retain from the National 

Socialist interlude a great reform in this vital matter. It is unreasonable and exasperating that the 

vanquished alone, in these successive world wars, should taste any of the fruits of victory). 

The best answer I have seen came from an unmoneyed schoolboy, one Eric Michael Davis, a Sixth 

Form student of Leeds. He said, most rightly, that class hatred is not felt against the public schools by 

ordinary schoolboys. (This is not a matter of class antagonism at all, but only one of a healthy 

ambition to be able to serve the country and the community, and rise in the public service. If hatred 

exists, it is at the top, among the shadowy boards of people who control the enclosed schools and all 

the advancement which is in their gift.) 

What the poorer classes want, he said, is not that the public schools should be standardized, but that 

there should be enough opportunities for the poorer classes to be educated. A good reform to that end, 

he said, would be ‘the abolition of a limited number of scholarships being awarded each year: in their 

place all students who gain a certain number of marks showing that they have reached a certain 

standard, should be awarded a scholarship, irrespective of the number of students attaining that 

standard each year’. This, he continued, should apply particularly to university scholarships. At the 

moment, ‘the greatest hatred is not against the rich man, but against the education authorities’ (he does 

not know that they are the same). ‘We see students being paid for to go to the universities, whilst we, 

who have passed the same examinations as they, and perhaps more, are unable to go to the university. 

Those who say, “Abolish the rich man’s privileges” should rather say “Add to the poor man’s 

privileges”. We want the standard of education made higher, and not lowered.’ 

He means, the poor man’s opportunities, not privileges, of which he has none, but apart from that 

mischoice of a word the suggestion is admirable. What does a poor man’s son gain, through a 

scholarship, if all the few places at public school or university are filled before he qualifies? Give him 

the knowledge that, if he reach a set standard, he will reach a public school or university, and you 

plant at once the seed of energy and hope in our frustrated breed. You bring about, at a stroke, natural 

selection and the ascent of the best’. If a man, knowing that these things are within reach of diligence, 

fails to attain them, he can only blame himself. Opportunity was his, and he missed it. But to-day, 

Opportunity is denied him. 

Here you have wisdom out of the mouth of a sixth form schoolboy. He does not say ‘Abolish the 

public schools’; the schoolmasters might learn from him. He does not say, ‘Slam the door, marked 

Money, and open another, marked Merit’. He says, ‘Open a second door, marked Merit, and let merit 

Pass through without hindrance, as money passes through the other’. 

I would never cry ‘Abolish the public schools’, or envy any, who pine for it, the chance to be 

photographed against a muddy wall at Eton or in a grotesque straw hat at Harrow, though these 

pictures have been among the most telling used against us, in this war, by German propaganda. 

Preserve them, increase their number – and admit to them and to the universities any boy who attains a 

certain standard. That is the key to our future. 

But one paramount thing needs to be understood. This is not, first and foremost, a matter of schools, 

schooling and schoolmasters. It is a question of opportunity. The public schools to-day hold a 

monopoly of preferment; only those who pass through them (save for the insignificant quota of 

scholarship boys who are ‘not spoken to at Oxford’) may rise to the higher ranks of the State service. 

Either the public schools must widen their doors, and allow unmoneyed youths who attain a set 

standard to enter, and pass up the stairway of advancement beyond; or they must relinquish that 

monopoly, and the State service must be thrown open to all who reach that standard. This is the 

bottleneck that must be broken. 

Do not keep your gaze, gentle reader, on the front door to those schools. The back exit, the one 

marked ‘Advancement only by this door’, is more important. That is the place where unmoneyed 

talent, energy and spirit are turned back, and only money is allowed to share in the conduct of our 


Are these few schools, ‘governed’ by little groups of anonymous people, to retain, after this war, the 

monopoly of governing England? Is the word ‘Rugby’ to be essential, on Tom Brown’s application, if 

he aspire to become a general, admiral, air marshal, ambassador, high civil servant, leading barrister or 

judge, or Minister? Is he to remain condemned, without it, to rise no higher than warrant officer, 

lawyer’s clerk, chief petty officer or archivist? If so, an entrance door marked Merit must be opened. 

Only through this reform can we come to a happier England, to a reinvigorated land, and to a foreign 

policy, cleansed of class antagonism, which will keep this island safe and enable a house of Freedom 

to be built within it. We might as well aspire to paint the moon green, as to re-educate Germany by 

means of ‘wise European humanists’ who wish us to transport them, on their backs, to power in Berlin. 

Re-education begins at home.  


Chapter Five 


I have set out to show, before we venture into to-morrow’s Civvy Street, how we lost Freedom and 

may regain Freedom. We have come to the edge of a steep place; we should retrace our footsteps, to 

the place where we went astray, and resume the agelong march of English mankind which we thought 

to follow in fighting the war of 1914-18. 

My experience, of that war, the years which followed, of many countries, and of this war, has shown 

me no better definition of Freedom than the simple one I have given: a man’s freedom not to have his 

body imprisoned, unless he is a proven wrongdoer, and to use and enjoy his native land. 

Those are simple aims to reach, and a vigorous public opinion could quickly achieve them. Nowadays, 

say many, English people are not interested in these things. They are bored with them, and listless. 

They would sooner submit to forceful guidance, without question; they come to like a command, and 

do not much care who gives it. What they cannot bear, is to struggle with thought:  

Living, as I do, in or near one of Britain’s ‘mightiest cities’, I have had an opportunity to 

observe appalling conditions at first hand, but the most appalling thing is the apathy of 

the average citizen with regard to these conditions in their own country, no, even in 

their own city or village … But I feel that the few sane men in the country deserve 

support. My husband, who is in the army, agrees with me on this point and I will see 

that my baby son does also, if I possibly can. 


From a woman of Glasgow. 


There are, it appears, hundreds of thousands of young men who still do not know why 

they are fighting and what they want to get from the war. The majority of fellows in our 

lot are in just such a position and they don’t seem to have the inclination or energy to do 

anything about it. And we are supposed to be ‘the cream of the nation’s youth’ and to 

have received an advanced education. I myself joined the R.A.F. for something better 

than a return of the old existence after we have won the war. 


From an Aircraftman serving in South Africa. 

Do our people then, of their own aimlessness rather than the blindness or malice of their leaders, drift 

towards a state of comfortable slavery such as that of the people of Shihr, in Southern Arabia, where, 

as the Delhi correspondent of The Times related, the Sultan of Mukalla set free a slave as punishment 

for spreading defeatist rumours? 

If it were so, I would rather walk alone on the other side of that street than with the throng. If it were 

so, our plight between the wars would be bliss compared with the plight to come. Are our men, who 

fought so staunchly, so weak-kneed that they will prop themselves against the first wall of glum 

indifference in Civvy Street, and think of nothing better than the next meal, opening time, I must get 

some cigarettes, what’s on at the pictures and what’s on the radio? I do not believe it, and in this one 

thing am not open to conviction. 

Our men, when they return, if they do not mean to prove themselves dullards in the peace they have 

fought for, should first restore our charter of liberty, the Habeas Corpus Act, and then set free some of 

the land. On that basis, they may build a free and better island. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury once defined ‘four freedoms’ which this country needed. They appeal 

more than the ‘four freedoms’ of something called An Atlantic Charter, for instance, ‘freedom from 

fear’! That is a tall order, and to my mind a meaningless one. Shall we cease to fear cancer, for 


The Archbishop said:  

There are four requisites of life which are provided by nature, even apart from men’s 

labour: air, light, land and water. I suppose that if it were possible to establish a 

property claim upon air, somebody would have done it before now and made people 

pay if they wanted to breathe what he would then call ‘his air’. But it has not been 

possible to do this. Unhappily it has been found possible in the case of both land and 

water, and we have tended to respect the claims that have been made by owners of land 

and of the water flowing through it, in a way which subordinates the general interest to 

the private interest of those owners. I am not myself at all persuaded that the right way 

to deal with this question is by the nationalization of the land, but I am quite sure that 

we need to assert the prior interest of the community in respect to land and water with a 

vigour of which our recent political history shows no trace. 

This was followed by loud wailing about ‘churchmen interfering in politics’. People of like mind did 

not protest, but applauded, when another Archbishop looked upon the Munich Agreement, that 

despicable transaction, and said it was good. Yet that was ‘interference in politics’, as our men 

presently found, who reeled backward through France before the weight of the Czech-made tanks. 

Air, light, land and water! Put those four freedoms on the basis of legal protection against wrongful 

arrest, and you have four English freedoms, so well founded, that you may say, this land is free! 

‘It has not been found possible to establish a property claim on air!’ What man would say this, who 

ever saw a slum. And that applies to light, too. (In wartime they even contrive to deprive us of light. 

We should light up the sky, when the aerial enemy comes; instead, we blackout ourselves. Not for lack 

of devotion to the example of the Ostrich, has the daylight sky been preserved to us. I do not suppose I 

shall be visited by an official bearing a copy of the Official Secrets Act, if I say that some great minds 

would have liked to put a wall of smoke around us when we were attacked by day, so that the raider 

might know just where we hid.) 

Freedom of air and light, we can only achieve by the better building of our houses, streets, towns and 

cities, and particularly by the abolition of the slums (which have been made worse by the war). These 

two freedoms belong to a later chapter in this book. 

Land! You have seen, gentle reader, by what means that part of the land which belonged to all was 

taken, and what is the title to that ‘respect’ which ‘the owners of land and the water flowing through it’ 

claim for their possession of it. This freedom should be achieved by restitution and the liberation of 

much land, still commonly-held, which in practice has been enclosed by petty officials. 

Water! The rivers were enclosed, too. ‘Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home’, sang Rupert 

Brooke in his lovesong to England. He was lucky, if he was washed by the rivers. 

I have bathed in many rivers abroad, and never found one I might not bathe in. Here, they are usually 

imprisoned. The ‘fishing rights’ bring in large rents. In thirty-five years of English life, I have bathed in 

only two English rivers. The thing is inconceivable in any other country I know. 

The first occasion stands out like a glorious oasis, when I look back, in the desert of a London 

boyhood which stretched until I was nineteen and went soldiering in France (where I was washed by 

many rivers). The memory is as vivid as to-day’s sunlight. I tasted a delight never dreamed of before. I 

was sent, one year, for a brief holiday, to a farmer in Amersham, which then was rural, and spent 

spellbound hours watching him feed the pigs or turn off, with fascinating speed, the legs and rungs of 

cottage chairs, on a lathe in his barn. Between-whiles, I wandered down the lane, turned into a field 

path, and came to a bathing pool, at a place where a narrow stream widened! Memory can recall no 

hours to compare with those. To-day, I believe London has swallowed Amersham, or nearly. If I went 

there, I doubt whether I should find the farm or the pool. 

No wonder that our young men go gladly to war. The Londoner becomes ever more brickbound.  

One in four of the population of this island is now squashed into the greater London 

area … it cannot be right that the best blood of the country districts and of the pre-war 

distressed areas should have been drained away. 


Mr. Hugh Dalton, President of the Board of Trade. 

Indeed it cannot be right. But it can be righted. Of forty million people, ten million herded together in 

Cobbett’s ‘Wen’! How right he was, over a century ago, as he rode out of the tiny London of his day 

into the enclosed countryside and, turning in his saddle, looked back and raged. Are we, in twenty 

years time, to be twenty millions in Greater London, and look out from our brick prison on a 

countryside of walled-in parks, derelict fields, golf links, roadhouses, foxhunters, racecourses, 

reserved rivers, advertisements for purgatives, ‘Tea’ and ‘No Trespassing’ notices, all enclosed by 

barbed wire? 

Between the wars, a Scot, A.G. Macdonnell, wrote a book called England, Their England (Macmillan, 

1933) about the southern part of our island. Those should read it, who have not. Though written as 

satire, it gives a true portrait, and not a caricature, of the crazy way of life we developed between 1919 

and 1939. 

During this war, the countryside has revived, and once again the politicians cry, like the raven, 

Nevermore! But their words ring false at every test; they are feeding-stuff for the voting-cattle. In the 

midst of this war, the spoliation and disfigurement of the remaining countryside go on. 

For instance, a great hydro-electrification scheme has been introduced for the Central Highlands of 

Scotland, one of the last potential holiday grounds left to Britons north and south of the Border, and 

laws have been introduced to enable the power stations to be built, the dams to be made, and the stark 

parade of pylons to begin, through the forests and over the hills. Much monies, the initiators say, will 

accrue. And the native Highlanders, of whom all but 300,000 have in course of time been driven from 

their ancestral land? Will they be better off? Listen:  

It is in our view plain that the general provision of electricity to crofters or fishing 

hamlets throughout the Highlands for domestic and small power use is quite 

impracticable, the cost of transmission and distribution being prohibitive in relation to 

so small a demand. 

The countryman, with the pylons stalking past his croft, may continue to burn a candle or sit in the 

dark. If he were made too comfortable, where would the cheap labour come from for the great 

factories, which are to be fed with power, and thrive, on the Caledonian Canal and Cromarty Firth? 

Profit is the only standard. If this spirit prevails, what likelihood is there that the beauties of this area 

will be spared? 

While our ears are filled four times a day with threats of starvation and admonitions to grow food on 

every inch of land that will produce anything, great stretches of countryside are being torn up and left 

derelict in a rush for quick profits. The same Minister who makes those appeals, by whose authority 

‘bad farmers’ are turned from their land, allows it. Powerful interests gain from this short-term profit- 

making and long-term ruination, and that, in England, is alway final. 

This happens in several counties, but chiefly in Northamptonshire, where over 3000 acres (an area 

greater than the City of London) have been torn up, pilaged, and the débris left for posterity. Here are 

the words of a Governmental Committee (Lord Kennet’s) written four years ago:  

For lack of foresight, for lack of organization, year by year, this part of our land is 

being reduced to and left in a state that no one can see without shame. 

For lack of scruple, rather. That was before the war, before the scales fell from our eyes and we 

suddenly saw (so the politicians say) the mad crimes wreaked on our land. It still goes on. 

Beneath the fields of Northamptonshire lie valuable iron ores. Formerly, labourers took off a few feet 

of soil, extracted what ore they could, and levelled the ground again. Then came Progress. Great steel 

monsters, with jaws which reach 60 and 70 feet into the ground, tear it up and throw it away, scoop 

out the ore – and then go, leaving lines of hideous humps and dumps that stretch for miles, where once 

was green land. The soil is not put back and levelled. Nothing grows on those pyramids. The profit has 

been taken; the chapter is closed.  

A fantastic picture that a mad artist might have painted of a landscape in the moon. 


L.F. Easterbrook. 

In other countries, they put the sod back, after the ores have been removed, and the land heals. But 

with us, the landowners pocket their money, the iron companies sell their steel, ‘the cost of restoration 

would be more than the land is worth’ – the captains and the kings depart, leaving a devastation behind 

them as horrifying as anything an invader could achieve. ‘What is involved’, says the Kennet 

Committee, ‘is the fate of 80,000 acres – 125 square miles of countryside’ (that is, about twenty-six 

times the area of the City of London.) 

‘In vain doth valour bleed, while avarice and rapine share the land’, said Milton. Our Government is 

equipped with every conceivable power to dragoon and harass the humble citizen, and order every act 

of his daily life, down to the knob of coal he must not burn and the half-sheet of paper he must not 

waste (‘An Offence! Penalty, imprisonment!’). It does nothing to hinder this. Hitler could not have 

devised a better way to lay waste our countryside. 

(But a Norfolk farm labourer who thought it wrong that his local Agricultural Soviet should plough up 

common land, used as a children’s playground, while leaving other good but not common land alone, 

so that he cut the barbed wire round a golf course and planted onions on the greens, was heavily 


When the Minister of Agriculture, in his search for that home-grown food which would save the lives 

of our ships and seamen, asked the Hampshire War Agricultural Committee to find him more arable 

land, because more food must be grown, they replied that the only remaining land was a piece of 

10,000 acres in the Test Valley already exempted by himself, through ‘a compromise’ with the owners 

of ‘the fishing rights’. 

This was once rich herbage, grazed by cattle, but after the last war, when agriculture fell into decay, 

the owners sought other ways to earn money from it and presently made much more than farming 

would have brought them. ‘Wealthy sportsmen’, those typical figures of England, Their England 

between 1919 and 1939 (was not an outsize photograph of Mr. Chamberlain, with rod-and-net, the 

chief exhibit in the British Pavilion at the Paris Exhibition?) were ready to pay ‘up to £200, or even 

more, a mile, for the fishing rights’. 

While small farmers could be told to plant potatoes here and turnips there, or be thrown out of their 

farms, this land was left alone. England might not ‘waste bread’; but no crops might grow on these 

waterlogged acres. The ordinary citizen’s two-seater, waiting in the garage to take him to Brighton one 

fine day, might be taken; indeed, almost anything might he taken from him. ‘The compromise’ was 

inviolable. This land was left waterlogged, weedy and overgrown, for the benefit of ‘the fishing’. 

Thus spoliation and enclosure go on. ‘Never again’, unless our order be changed, is clearly to be ‘Once 


The present Minister of Agriculture counts in the inner coteries of politics (for nowadays our 

politicians are almost unknown to the general public) as a vigorous administrator and possibly a future 

Prime Minister. He said, in October 1942:  

British agriculture was sadly neglected before the war. The neglect was worse than 

anyone dreamed possible … Much of our countryside was dying. Peace was desolating 

the land faster than war. With the war, the whole situation for British agriculture 

changed in a flash … Some Power has wrought a miracle in the English harvest fields 

this summer, for in this, our year of greatest need, the land has given us bread in greater 

abundance than we ever knew before … Nearly all we have had to do with farming for 

war can be of permanent value when peace returns. It will not have to be scrapped and 

destroyed when the whistles blow for the armistice. [Why will they use that ill-omened 

word, Armistice?] On that day we shall at any rate have our land and our people. We 

have the soil, the climate, and the men needed to make British agriculture not only an 

efficient industry, but an inspiration to the world as indeed it was a century ago. 

Thus Mr. Hudson. ‘Peace was desolating the land faster than war’! And the desolation that now goes 

on in Northamptonshire? ‘We have the soil’! Who has the soil? Who has that part of it which was our 

people’s heritage ‘a century ago, when British agriculture was an inspiration to the world’? 

An earlier Minister for Agriculture, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, returned from governing far Burma, 

contemplated the same transformed scene, and said:  

I have seen downland which was derelict almost groaning with grain. I have seen vast 

acres of common land with grand crops of potatoes and oats. Last time I saw that land it 

was smothered in bracken and other foulnesses.[18] When I came back, my first sight of 

Britain was from an aeroplane and I found it hard to believe my eyes. Rural Britain has 

been transformed. To those of us who have fought for long years to enable our land to 

perform its proper function it is just like a dream come true … I know the fear which, 

while not preventing him from throwing himself wholeheartedly into his job, is present 

in many a farmer’s heart: the fear that after the war Britain will forget and farming will 

be forced to undergo the agonies of the last post-war period. I do not believe that will 

come to pass. 

And the devastation of thousands of acres in Northamptonshire, during the war? The ‘foulness’ of the 

Test Valley? 

There is no health in these words and promises. No ‘miracle’ has been performed here, no ‘dream’ has 

come true. The country wants food and those who work the land have been enabled to grow and sell it. 

But the land, though it thrives again, is still imprisoned. 

Here is a good job for men to do who come back from the war, a job that can and should be done: to 

make England, Their England. England, Our England. To prevent a new abandonment of the land to 

‘bracken and other foulnesses’. To prevent the ruination of any more of it. To prevent the enclosure of 

any more of it. To redeem that which has been wantonly spoiled. Above all, to regain that part of it, 

for the use and enjoyment of our people, which was taken by theft, sanctioned at Westminster, to pay 

gaming debts. To build four English freedoms in a land green and pleasant again. 

That is a good destination to strive for, in Civvy Street, and a worthy objective in the Battle in 















































Chapter One 


One day I sat at a window in Piccadilly and read the two letters which set me to write this book: the 

one from a young officer fighting overseas who said, ‘We still feel out here that the ultimate battle is 

being won or lost in England’; and the one from a mother who said, ‘I feel convinced that these 

intelligent, deep-thinking boys and girls are not going to leave the management of the new world to 

anyone but themselves when the war is won’. 

I thought about them a lot, and then took up a newspaper. A loud headline said, ‘Demobilization will 

be slow after the war’. I laid the paper down, and looked out into Piccadilly and the Green Park. 

Two French officers passed; with lively gestures, they helped a voluble debate. Across the Green Park 

grass, went a tall British sailor with a girl in red, arm-in-arm, her head turned up to him, his down to 

her; a pretty picture. The American soldiers strolled by with loose gait, and were briskly passed by a 

pair of short and buxom girls in the blue of the women’s Air Force. A lean, languid and sexless being, 

probably male, in white-striped black suit, black hat and umbrella drifted incongruously to its club, a 

derelict pleasure craft among the men and women of war. A fat and red-faced woman in a shapeless 

fur-coat, with a tea-cosy on her head, was followed by three lithe and laughing girls, bare-headed. 

Bless you, pretty compatriots, I thought, looking at them affectionately, for discovering your hair and 

how to tend it; when I came home from foreign parts, of yore, your heads reminded me of rookeries, 

and if, by some process I cannot understand, we have gained this much from the war, it is a great deal. 

Indeed, this is worth fighting for, for Hitler himself never did anything worse than the things you 

formerly did to your hair. 

They split, to make way for a tramp who shambled between them, his head bent, his eyes searching 

the pavement, his shabby legs bearing him towards the barns and hedgerows. Was he happy or abject, 

this man, I wondered, free or enchained? Without a side glance he passed the wooden shelf, built on 

stout legs, which some compassionate clubman, on a day, put to ease the overladen porters, toiling 

with their loads from Covent Garden. I remembered a starry night when I went along Piccadilly with 

someone who was in fractious mood, so that I picked her up, and sat her on that shelf. ‘This is where 

men put their burden’, I said, ‘you stay up there awhile, until you are easier to bear.’ Through the trees I 

saw pieces of the Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace. A lorryload of soldiers clattered by. 

How little the scene was changed, I thought, since 1918. 

1918! Demobilization! I fell into a daydream. Piccadilly and the Green Park vanished, I saw a forlorn 

winter’s day and a country road that ran, gleaming in the rain, up a hill somewhere near Grantham. In a 

muddy field at the top, was a wooden hut, which I entered. A calendar hung on the wall; it showed the 

date January 16th, 1919. At a table planted on the bare boards sat a young captain. No ribbon on his 

coat, no wound stripes on his sleeve; ‘I suppose you’ve been sitting here all these years’, I thought 

automatically, and a feeling of antagonism stirred within me. (I wonder if men feel that to-day?) He 

signed a paper and handed it to me, a thing the size of a letter. ‘Certificate of Demobilization’, it said. I 

folded it and put it in my pocket, went out and down the hill. A drab and dreary world lay before me, 

and vanished disconsolately into a mist which rubbed out its edges. Nothing clear, nothing sharply 

defined, no destination beckoning. 

I stopped, and took out the paper again. This flimsy thing, then, in my hands, was Victory, Freedom, 

the world safe for Democracy, the land fit for heroes – all I fought for. Glad adventure, eager curiosity, 

a uniform, faring forth, trudging to the trenches, leave, wounds, hospital, fighting in the air, good 

companions, fear, boredom, more wounds, more hospital, bully beef and biscuits, crashes, four years – 

here was the net result, on paper: my life and freedom. 

I did not feel free. My uniform was no longer mine; I must buy clothes, and clothes were dear. None 

would provide my next meal: I must earn it. None would tell me when to get up, where to go and what 

to do: I must decide that. No more would others think for me; I must think for myself. During part of 

the four years which lay behind me, I loved the war and wished it would never end; during the later 

part, I loathed the war and dreaded the peace. Now, peace was come. I folded the paper again and put 

it away. The rain increased. The road before trailed uninvitingly into the mist. No life stirred. I went 


Thus I mused, looking at Piccadilly and the Green Park, when I must have fallen asleep. The 

daydream became a real dream, for suddenly I found myself back in the wooden hut on the bleak 

hilltop. The same captain sat at the table. But the date on the calendar was changed. It said January 

16th, 194-; I could not read the last numeral, because the leaf fluttered in the draught. Anyway it was 

Nineteen Forty-Something. I was still twenty-three, and in my dream this seemed quite natural. I took 

the paper, and saw the words, ‘Certificate of Demobilization’, written across it. 

So this is demobilization, I thought, the thing I have thought about so long, and sometimes longed for 

and sometimes feared. This is the Thing I have been fighting for, this sheet of paper. The rush to join 

up, in 1939; the retreat to Dunkirk (I hope old Jack, whom we were forced to leave because of his 

shattered leg, was looked after by the Germans); the evacuation; the Battle of Britain; that tank attack 

at Tobruk; wounds; hospital; the sand; the heat; the cold; the dive-bombers,; no mail and I wonder 

what Milly’s doing at home; no leave; fear; boredom; good pals; the landing in Europe – they all boil 

down to this. 

I folded the paper and put it in my pocket, and went out. 

The dank, unfriendly road fell into the mist. At the side of it stood a middle-aged man, who seemed to 

wait for something. 

‘Good day’, he said, as I approached. 

‘Good day’, I said, looking at him doubtfully, for his face seemed familiar. ‘Er – do we know each 


‘Of course’, said he, ‘I am Yourself.’ 

‘Why, of course you are’, I said, ‘you are Myself. How stupid of me. I knew I’d seen you somewhere. 

You look well.’ 

‘Tolerably so, thank you’, he said, ‘where are you going?’ 

‘Going?’ I said. ‘Now, where am I going? I’ve hardly thought about it.’ 

‘Ah, that’s a great mistake’, he said, quickly, ‘the mistake most of !em make when they come out of 

there’ – and he pointed to the hut. ‘That’s why I stand here and speak to them. Now, where are you 


‘Well’, I said, feebly, ‘I suppose, to 1950 and 1960 and a career and a family and a home and all that. 

At least I hope so.’ 

‘Vague, but not bad for a start, with qualifications’, he said approvingly. ‘Now I’ve been that way 

before, and it’s a very difficult road to find. You won’t find it by yourself. You’d be surprised, how 

difficult that road is to find. No signs, all manner of wrong turnings, snares and pitfalls without 

number. I went astray scores of times. And the mist is thickening. I’d better come along with you.’ 

‘Well, if it’s not troubling you’, I said, uncertainly. 

‘No trouble at all’, he said, cheerfully, ‘that’s why I wait here.’ We started off together. ‘Now, how do 

you feel?’ 

‘I feel a bit lost’, I said, ‘like a lamb that’s wandered from the fold.’ 

‘I know. I know’, he said, ‘that’s how I felt. You’ve been fighting for your country, and now you’ve to 

fend for yourself. And you won’t find many good shepherds on this road.’ 

‘Are you one?’ I asked. 

‘I am resolved to be’, he said, ‘by crook or by book.’ 

‘You see’, I explained, ‘I feel a sense of sudden flop. Now that we’ve won this Thing that we were told 

to fight for, peace, it turns to ashes in my hands. I feel, in a way, that I’ve led an ideal life for four 

years. I never needed to take any thought for to-morrow, because others thought for me; yet all the 

while I felt that I was serving a great cause, that I was a fine fellow. The radio, the newspapers and the 

politicians told me so day and night. As soon as this was put into my hand’ – and I showed him my 

demobilization paper -‘I felt that I was a man without a task or mission, and one who, at that, must 

look after all his own wants. I feel suddenly unwanted; I seem to belong nowhere, and I don’t think 

that’s right, after my service. From now on, all I’ve to do is, to fight for myself. I miss the feeling of 

each-for-all and all-for-each, which my service somehow gave me – now the hurly-burly’s done.’ 

‘Now the battle’s lost and won’, he said, smiling. ‘You know Shakespeare?’ 

‘A bit’, I said. 

‘Now listen to me’, he said, stopping abruptly in the middle of the road and buttonholing me with my 

own forefinger, ‘that’s the very first and worst of the wrong turnings. Now you see how you would 

have gone astray, but for me. Why should you lose the feeling of service, of having a task or mission 

to accomplish, simply because those who until now told you what to do have cast you out? If you only 

serve when one man tells you that you are called up, another that you are to go to the front, and a third 

that you are to charge the enemy, that is not so much service as slavery. Why should you claim any 

merit for your service, if you only did what you were ordered to do and could not refuse to do? Any 

fool can obey an order. Now that you set out for Civvy Street, you feel adrift, because you have no one 

to command you and no battle to fight, save your own personal struggle to exist, and you do not feel 

that to be a great cause. There is a gap.’ 

‘Yes’, I said reluctantly, ‘that’s about it, I expect.’ 

‘That’s where they all go wrong’, he said, urgently, ‘they not only take the first wrong turning, they set 

off on the wrong foot. They all come out of that hut thinking, Well, the hurly-burly’s done, the battle’s 

lost and won, now we’ll crawl into the first hole we can find in Civvy Street and forget about the 

country. We’ll no longer be one of millions, serving and fighting for the country, we’ll be each man for 

himself and the devil take the hindmost. We’ll leave the country to something called The Guvverment; 

we call the man we work for The Guv’nor, so the Guvverment must be something really great. Why 

should we worry further about the things we fought for? The Guvverment will look after them. So you 

see, Yourself’, said Myself, looking at me earnestly, ‘nearly every man who comes out of that hut a 

freeman puts his mind into bondage as he comes through the door. He thinks, there’s nothing to fight 

for now. Instead, he should say, Ah, the fighting’s done now, but the battle just begins. Any dolt can 

obey an order. But it takes a man, as he comes through that door, to say, now I’ll start fighting, of my 

own free will and in my own free right, for the things I believe in, for this country, and for its future, 

and I’ll never stop, while I live, whether I’m alone or one of a crowd. Don’t you see, that gives him a 

destination and an ideal and a hope? They wouldn’t need me, to show them the way, if they thought 

that. That would give them the feeling of an even greater task and mission. That would destroy their 

delusion, that Service means going when you’re called up.’ 

‘Um’, I said, ‘I see what you mean’. A kind of Battle in England.’ 

‘That’s right’, he said eagerly, ‘A Battle in England, a Battle for England. Start out with that idea, and 

you don’t feel a sense of slump or flop, when you leave that hut.’ 

‘It sounds invigorating’, I said, ‘but how? What can one do? A man feels so small, so helpless, so alone, 

so much harassed by the need to earn a livelihood, so much overwhelmed by the powers of frustration 

that enclose him.’ 

‘Oh, rats’, said Myself, ‘he only feels like that because he has never tried to feel different, because he 

shuffles out of that hut thinking, the Battle’s over, instead of, the Battle now begins. But I’ll tell you all 

about it on the way.’ 

‘Good’, I said, ‘I’m open to learn.’ 

‘That’s all you need’, he said. ‘let’s shake on it’, and he stretched out my arm. 

I shook my hand. ‘Let’s go’, I said, and we started off….  













Chapter Two 


I wandered through 1919 as through a thickening wood. Victory was come, and peace, the glorious 

Things we so long fought for. I, and all the others who survived, were home again. The world safe for 

democracy and the land fit for heroes lay before us. In Paris, was a march of triumph to the Arch of 

Triumph. In London, I watched the Guards come home, and the V.C.s go to a tea-party at Buckingham 

Palace, and the Unknown Soldier drive by. 

Yes, this was no illusion. Here it was, the thing we wanted, yet none seemed to want me. When I came 

home feet-foremost, during the war, women threw roses into my ambulance, a girl kissed my 

bandaged face as I was carried on a stretcher into a hospital. Now the thing we strove for was in my 

grasp. Yet when I opened my hand I found it empty. 

I meandered about, went into a teashop, bought an evening paper and opened it. Joe Smart, it said, 

beneath big headlines, was once again ahead of all other revue-producers with a big idea; his new 

show, Dope and Glory, at the Rhinodrome, contained a chorus of ex-officers! 

I went along and bought a seat. There they were, The Boys. Their names were printed on the 

programme, in the order of their appearance, so that you might identify each of them: Lieut. Jones of 

the King’s, Captain Smith of the Queen’s, Lieut. Brown, M.C., of the Prince of Wales’s, and Captain 

Robinson, of the Duke of York’s Own; the chorus boys of 1914-1918, come back. They marched 

about, backstage, while a girl sang:  

Good-bye, khaki, 

We’re gonna put you in the addick, 

Good-bye, khaki, 

You’ve made the world so democraddick, 

We’ve been true to you, 

We’ll give all due to you’ 

So long and cheerio, and now we’re through with you … 

They marched off, in khaki, and came back, in scarlet, blue and gold, swords and bearskins, to 

deafening applause, and they saluted with their swords, and marched off again, to draw their four- 

pounds-a-week while the show lasted, and the girl kissed her hand to the audience in payment for the 

thunderous cheers.[19] 

‘So long and cheerio, and now we’re through with you …’ They disappeared into the wings, into Civvy 

Street and the future. The future, which would see music hall comedians asking each other, ‘What, you 

were an officer? Have you dyed your British Warm yet?’ (Loud laughter, for many of them could not 

afford an overcoat.) The future, which would see the bemedalled out-of-works pushing piano-organs 

round the streets of London. The future, which would cast away in every town and village in England, 

like stranded fish, such men as Captain Grafton:  

It is ‘the Captain’s’ chief tragedy (though he does not know it) that he survived the war, 

which was not only the climax of his existence but, probably, the only part of it that 

Nature qualified him to justify … His type is one that must be recognized in the 

aftermath of every great war in history. Shakespeare knew his peers and drew them 

incomparably … He is a spare man, just short of fifty – though he feels (and thinks) like 

a boy – with thin hair plastered down by some kind of fixative that conceals its 

greyness, and a toothbrush moustache clipped short with the same-object … He usually 

wears khaki shirts, with a zigzag gunner’s tie, and cord riding-breeches, covered in 

winter by a greasy trench-coat or a British Warm. The remnant of the service tradition 

shows itself in his too limited vocabulary still embellished with war-time slang … and 

in his attitude towards politics and life in general, which is that of a puzzled schoolboy, 

nursing a grievance against the changed values of these degenerate days, yet 

constrained, out of soldierly pride, not to make a fuss. It is difficult, of course, to see 

the way in which eveything for which he and his friends fought and suffered is going to 

rack and ruin without active protest. But the old guard can still pack up its troubles and 

do its bit. Captain Grafton does it, with a solemn sense of duty, at meetings and 

armistice-day parades of the British Legion (when he puts on his medals) and also as 

Scoutmaster … He feels more important, happier and more ‘like himself’ on the rare 

occasions when he dons a black shirt and a belt and sets off with a loaded cane in his 

hand to parade with the North Bromwich Fascists. Then, at least, he feels that England 

has need of him … A pathetic, if not quite admirable figure – poor Archie Grafton with 

his attempts to maintain the old military smartness, his perpetual anxiety to do the 

soldierly thing and live up to the code of the ante-room … His life virtually came to an 

end in 1918, and nothing less than another war can resuscitate him – by which time (if 

the dreadful thing come) he will be too far gone to be of very much use. Like 

everybody else who served actively in the war, he is a wounded man, and a sick man, 


Ah’ poor Archie Grafton, and his neighbour, Mr. Rudge, the orphan of Enclosure:  

Mr. Rudge cannot, like Captain Grafton, be described as an interloper. The Rudges 

have staked their claim to belong to Monk’s Norton in a good many square feet of the 

graveyard’s surface. At the time of the Civil War (or the Rebellion, as Miss Abberley 

calls it), they owned the Goodrest Farm. Now all that remains of their landed property 

is the small-holding of fifteen acres which Mr. Rudge inherited ten years age from a 

second cousin….[20] 

The picture is exact and is drawn with a melancholy humour. But decay is not comic. 

Don’t let it happen again. ‘They’ will do it again, if you let them, but yours will be the fault. For yours 

is the power, who won the glory. 

Come back to a Battle in England, not to a life of living death, spent in a declining countryside, 

supported by doles or pensions, spoiled by a feeling of eternal frustration. Claim and use your fullest 

rights of citizenship. 

Come back to fight, and not to follow. Interest yourself in and inform yourself about the affairs of 

your country. Keep away from extreme parties, which only offer worse enslavement, by even worse 

misrulers. But immerse yourself, as a matter of right and daily duty, in the thing called Politics – which 

is, the state of your island. 

Instruct yourself, by reading, about the condition of your Parliament and your Parties, so that you may 

detect the means which are used to deceive you. Arm yourself with the weapons of reason and debate, 

and sharpen them upon the knowledge which any man, who is not idle or a dolt, can acquire. Gather 

round yourself men of like mind, and thrash out, with them, the problems of the day. Choose one of 

them to stand for Parliament as an Independent, under the pledge that he will accept no Party 

allegiance; or stand yourself, and let your friends go from house to house, to persuade the voters that 

some new men, who are not merely the sausages turned out by The Party Machine, are needed in 

Parliament, to watch over our affairs in the coming years. 

Do not die on your feet, like Captain Grafton. If you were able to fight with a rifle or a tank, you can 

fight with your mind and your love of this country. Train yourself to find the falsehood in political 

speeches and the newspapers, so that you may enlighten those about you; this is the greatest task of 

all. Combat the dullard’s, the slave’s, the traitor’s lazy objection that ‘You can’t do anything about it’, ‘It 

wouldn’t work,’ ‘I don’t know anything about politics,’ ‘They’d get you down’. 

These are the people who will destroy England, if you let them. This state of mind will be your 

greatest enemy, when you come back. Resolve to destroy it by contempt and ridicule; and, to that end, 

inform yourself of what goes on. 

Learn, and be ready to tell others, who ‘They’ are. For these weakwits, these self-made serfs, are right, 

in their dull apprehension that hidden forces now work to oppress them and mislead them into war. 

After two World Wars, the evidence is too strong to be denied. But it is not impossible to learn who 

They are, how They work, and how to thwart Them. 

This is what patriotic men can do, each in his own circle, and it is a better undertaking than to meander 

downhill for the rest of your life, in angry, befuddled but impotent ignorance, like the Captain 

Graftons, and, when your instinct tells you that They are about to take your future from you again, to 

traipse off to the nearest town in a black shirt, or a red one. 

Do not, when you come back, lay the weapon of the spirit aside, with the uniform and the other 

equipment, but keep it, and keep it sharp. Do not give your thoughts entirely to Getting A Job And 

Holding It, for by that means you pawn your future; and They will wreck it for you again. It will not 

avail to Get On With The Job and Leave Politics To Them. 

The instinct of the British people is sound. They knew that this war was being brewed for them, but 

could not rouse themselves to prevent it. They are right to-day in feeling that they are held in the thrall 

of powerful forces which prepare further misery for them. 

They are only wrong, in their miserable acceptance of this, as of some enchainment which they cannot 

throw off. This is where ‘the boys’, who come back, can reinvigorate England, if they do not lay aside 

the weapon of the spirit. For they will have made England famous again, they will have travelled far 

and widened their vision, they will be fit and vigorous; they can seek out, detect and frustrate ‘Them’, 

if they do not become like Captain Grafton. They can make their future, and not let others mar it. 

Sir Stafford Cripps, on February 6th, 1943, said he noticed ‘with some distress, a growing tendency in 

our country to view the future with a certain degree of hopelessness and of almost sour disillusion’. He 

correctly diagnosed the feeling of the country. He has contributed to it. Only yesterday, people hoped 

they would find in him, at last, a man who would fearlessly say in Parliament the things that people 

feel. His acceptance of relegation to a routine department, where he is little heard or seen, has 

disappointed this hope, like so many earlier ones. He could help us more by leaving office and 

speaking from a different platform every night! 

He said that public confidence, in improvement after this war, showed signs of weakening just as 

victory approached. Doubts were creeping in; privilege and selfish interests were busily preparing to 

cast the future in the mould of the past. 

Then he said:  

Indeed, it is almost commonplace in these days to hear the most confirmed advocates of 

change expressing the view that ‘They’ will never really implement the promise of a 

new Britain or a new world. Who are these mysterious people referred to as ‘They’, who 

are apparently looked on as the veriest broken reed of a hope for the future? ‘They’ is 

not the language of a democracy or even of the class-struggle. ‘They’ is the language of 

dictatorship and defeatism of the common people. We must put aside all such 

subservience within our democracy and speak instead of what ‘we’ want and ‘we’ will 

do or insist upon being done. But in order that ‘we’ may be effective to make ‘Them’ do 

what we wish, we must understand not only the problem of the future but also the 

lessons of the past. 

But ‘They’ do exist, and Sir Stafford Cripps was wrong, and the British instinct is right, if he implied 

that they do not. 

You need only to recognize ‘Them’. I have tried to show who they are. The first of ‘Them’ is the order 

of moneyed privilege, in this country, which began with Enclosure of the land, continued with 

Enclosure of the schools, and has been completed with the Enclosure of all opportunity, advancement 

and preferment. This has produced the repressed spirit of England, the sagging spirit which is our 

greatest enemy, for it delivers us, ready-made tools, into the hands of the rest of ‘Them’. 

The rest of ‘Them’ are powerful forces of many kinds, none of which have their roots in this country, 

but spread all over the world, and these pursue their aims, through us, our Enclosed order, and our 

armed strength, or our foreign policy, without regard to our island interests. To-day, they may think it 

will profit them for us to be weak; to-morrow, that their ambitions will be best served if we make war. 

They command mighty means to mislead and misinform us, to tell us we should disarm or rearm, 

connive in aggression or make war against aggression. 

The individual men who go to make this manifold man, Anon, are no better or worse than other men. 

But their interests reach beyond frontiers, and They therefore know no frontiers, no nationhood. Their 

interests are not ours; but they wield great power in our land, over our ‘policies. They have their 

spokesmen in Parliament; and if any of these spokesmen chances to be a political leader, the other 

members of his Party are sworn to follow him, so that the island interest is already forsworn. 

This is the stranglehold, on our native interests, which can only be broken by the appearance in 

Parliament, for a term long enough to smash it, of Independent patriots. But Their greatest weapon is 

the Press. In this matter, I am as good a judge as any man, and I say that our newspapers, with few 

exceptions, are the enemies of truth, and of our future, in this country to-day. 

These international forces compose jointly ‘Them’. They are, in the main, international bankers; 

international arms trusts; international oil suppliers; Zionists; and the more extreme elements of 

international Jewry, working from all countries, for which Zionism is too small a name. 

‘They’ wait, in Civvy Street. Begin your journey, in that street, with the feeble habit of averting your 

glance from them (and all too many Englishmen are prone to this, in real streets of plaster-and-asphalt, 

among their flesh-and-blood fellow beings) because you think them too strong for you, and your 

future is already mortgaged. Look at them, watch them, ask about them, inquire their names, study 

their activities, learn how to forethwart them, and Civvy Street lies clear before you, leading to a 

secure future and a better England. 

For their strength lies in anonymity. Tear aside the screen, expose them to the light of day, and their 

strength is gone. This is why it is sinister that British Governments protect the method of anonymity, 

with every means in their power…. 


Good-bye, khaki, 

So long and cheerio, and now we’re through with you…. 

sang that grinning girl. The curtain came down. I went out, into Civvy Street, in search of the future’ I 

thought of it only in terms of employment, work, achievement, and when I found it, ‘They’ took it from 


I did not know that ‘They’ existed. Given that knowledge, I would have been alert, and so might others 

have been. This time, ‘the boys’, when they come back, and those who grow up here, may know. They 

may know that Civvy Street has two sides, both of which they must know and watch – Hard Work 

Side and Politics Side, which in the inter-war years was the shady side, the side on which ‘They’ 


Don’t let it happen again. It need not and will not, if you keep the weapon of the spirit, when you hand 

in your other arms, and return to a Battle in England.  




















Chapter Three 


I knew two girls, in London, in 1913. One was very pretty. She never married. That war left too few 

men to go round, and although you might have expected a husband to find her in spite of that, she was 

missed, by some mischance, and joined the class of the Miss Sheldon-Smiths,[21] 

whose ages varied between thirty-one and twenty-four. Their only brother, the heir to 

the family’s embarrassments, was killed at Gheluvelt. They are all three unmarried and 

likely to remain so. Their tragedy is that the generation in which they might reasonably 

have expected to find husbands of their own kind was eliminated by the war; and the 

fact that they are more class-conscious than the aristocracy seems likely to keep them 


The other girl was married three times, between the wars. This does not disprove my statement about 

the insufficiency of men; it would happen to some women, if only three men were in the world, and all 

her husbands were married at least twice. 

When I came on leave from France in 1915, in the first glory of my officer’s uniform, I met them both, 

and blessed the chance; I was glad to be able to bask in their admiration of it. It was grand. Given a 

million guesses, on that sunny day, my imagination would not have stretched enough to picture the 

fantastic thing that happened twenty-eight years later, in 1943. I met the same two, in Piccadilly. I was 

in civilian clothes. They were both officers in the A.T.S.! 

‘Well, well’, I said, to the thrice-married one, ‘this is where I got my own back on the posters of the last 

war. What are you doing in the Great War, Mummy? Come on, let’s go and celebrate this. All the nice 

men love a soldier. We didn’t want to lose you, but we thought you ought to go, and with all our might 

and main we shall hug you, squeeze you, kiss you, when you come back again. On Saturday I’m 

willing, if you’ll only take the shilling, to make a woman of any one of you. I do hope we meet a 

private, so that she’ll have to salute you. How is the spirit of the troops? Still excellent? Is all quiet at 

Weston-super-Mare, or wherever you stand guard?’ 

‘Shut up’, they said, ‘we’ve heard it all before. How are you, citizen Reed? It is good to see you.’ 

‘I expect you say that to all the men’, I said, ‘but come on. This deserves to be honoured.’ 

So we went, along that street which my feet so often trod, in peace and war, in lean times and fat, and 

came presently, for it was noon, to the selfsame table where we three sat together and refreshed 

ourselves, all those years ago. 

‘This is an extraordinary thing’, I said, ‘I feel like Mr. Bultitude in Vice Versa. Here we sat, you two 

and I, that other time, and I was an officer and you were civilians and you sunned yourselves in my 

reflected glory, and I bought you lunch, and now here we sit, and you are officers and I am a civilian, 

the glory is yours and the shadow mine, and you are going to buy me lunch….’ 

‘Oh no’, they said promptly, both together. 

‘I might have known it’, I said bitterly, ‘I have been-lured here under false pretences. The more it 

changes, the more it is the same. When there is only one man left in England, and you have taken from 

him every right and wrong with which he was born, when you are all Field-Marshals and he peels the 

potatoes for your meals in the mess, when you are both Prime Ministresses of England, wearing 

trousers habitually and carrying an umbrella always, you will still expect that one last man to pay for 

your lunch. Justice is not, in this world’, I said gloomily. 

‘Cheer up’, they said. ‘We’ll buy you a cocktail.’ 

‘I wouldn’t drink one of those wartime compounds, which neither cheer nor inebriate but only poison, 

even if you gave me the price of it in addition’, I said. ‘I’ll eat your health, in Spam, 1943, honourable 

and gallant ladies both, and may your pips never grow less.’ Then I turned to the thrice-mated one. 

‘And you, Second Subaltern Defoi’, I said, ‘what will you eat?’ 

‘I wish you’d remember my name’, she said, ‘that was my second husband.’ 

‘I wish you’d never married at all,’ I said, ‘I’ve never been able to catch up with them since. Now let me 

see, what is it? I know. It’s Firstleigh.’ 

‘That was number one’, she said, it’s Drymal.’ 

‘Of course it is’, I said, ‘and how is he? Where is he?’ 

‘Oh’, she said, hesitating slightly,’He’s …’ 

‘Not another word’, I said hurriedly. ‘Tact is my mainspring, but I warn you, I shall never be able to 

remember Forthleigh, if you think to take that name next. From now on I shall call you by your 

maiden name.’ 

‘All right’, she said, quickly, ‘what is it?’ 

‘Er – oh lor!’ I said. ‘Look here, it isn’t fair, I’m not a human filing cabinet, Barbara. She can’t expect it, 

can she, Peggy?’ I appealed to the other one. 

They both smiled. ‘Well, you remembered those all right’, they said. 

I asked them how they came to be soldiers. Barbara owned a prosperous business in Mayfair, which 

was destroyed by a bomb. She would not receive compensation until after the war, and but a fraction 

of the value then, when the cost of beginning again would be at its peak. Peggy was secretary to a 

Harley Street specialist who went into the Forces. Both laboured under a feeling of uselessness and 

cut-adriftness and went into the A.T.S., where they met. 

I turned the talk to the future, and tried to draw them out. They seemed vague, planless. They didn’t 

know this, they supposed that. Barbara expected she would start another business, when the war was 

over. Peggy assumed she would drift into a job. They enjoyed their life, when they were in camp, but 

when they were on leave longed to be back with the things and people they knew, and dreaded the 

return to duty, until they were back. 

Indeed, I found that, like ‘the boys’ in the last war and too many of ‘the boys’ in this one, they made no 

effort to think out the future at all. They thought of it only in terms of individual competition for a 

livelihood, and not at all in terms of our island safety, of enduring peace, and of a happy breed. But I 

held the talk to the barrack-square of this topic; I put myself in command, drilled their thoughts and 

made them go the way I desired. So we talked, something in this wise…. 

‘How do you like women’s rights, now that you come to share all but one of the wrongs of men?’ I 

asked them. 

‘How do you mean, all but one?’ they said. 

‘Why, don’t you see’, I said, ‘you have now gained everything but one thing. You may vote, become a 

Minister, practise as a doctor or barrister, wear uniform, rise in rank. The one and only thing now 

denied you is to share a soldier’s grave with a man. But I am sure that our misleaders will arrange for 

you to be granted that uttermost boon in the next war, if you wish to have it that way. So you see’, I 

said, ‘the removal of the immemorial hindrances which were laid in the way of women, has brought 

you almost everything you want. Our good War Graves Commission has recently reported that sons, 

killed in this war, have now been laid to rest alongside their fathers, killed in the last. This is the only 

place yet denied to you. Throw your imagination forward another twenty-five years, and picture such a 

grave being opened to receive – a granddaughter, killed in action! Are you pleased with the progress 

which women have made, in your time?’ 

Peggy smiled. ‘The awful thing about you’, she said, ‘is that you put things in such an odd way, that I 

never know whether you are joking or not.’ 

‘I have to do that’, I said, ‘because I can only make you listen at all, and think a little, that way. ‘People 

in this country are trained to recognise, as truth, only lies dressed up, and now hardly know truth when 

they see it. I mean what I say. Can’t you see it? It’s as plain as a flagstaff and right in front of your 

noses. Your mothers wanted to right the wrongs of women by sharing the rights of men. They got 

what they wanted, through the first World War. You, their daughters, have inherited this “Equality 

with men”, which they fought for, in the second World War. You want “Equality with men”, yes? Is 

that what you want?’ 

‘We suppose so’, they said, vaguely. 

‘Then, sweet friends of my youth’, I said, ‘do you not see that you have but one thing still to gain, if 

that is all you want, if “Equality with men” is the summit of your ambition, if you cannot raise your 

eyes to a higher view of your world than that which a female worm would see.’ 

‘Well, get on’, they said. ‘What do you mean,’ 

‘Why, that your own low-sightedness’, I said, ‘and the guile of those who wish to destroy us, is causing 

you to look at a lie dressed up as truth and think it truth, when the truth is something different. For you 

will agree with me that what women really want, and men too, for that matter, is not to share a 

soldier’s grave with a man, or even to have their husbands and sons laid in such a grave, or yet to be 

denied a man at all, but to share a bed with a man, to marry and have children and live useful lives.’ 

‘You always talk like that’, they said. 

‘I do’, I said, ‘I call a bed a bed. But that is truth. You won’t deny that that is what women have mainly 

wanted since the world began and are likely to want as long as the world lasts?’ 

‘No’, they said, ‘we won’t.’ 

‘Well, then’, I said, ‘after this war, not only the boys, but also the girls, will come back, and enter 

Civvy Street in search of the future. In our country alone were the women taken from their husbands 

and homes and lovers, in such numbers. The Germans did not do that, at any rate until the catastrophe 

of Stalingrad, when the war was three and a half years old, and I do not think they will, at this stage, 

be able to enforce it, in any large degree. I think they looked to the future of their nation, whether they 

lost or won this war, and were wiser than we, or our leaders. I think a very deadly blow was struck at 

the roots of English life, by this action, and we shall not see its full results for some years to come, and 

those will be the years when some seek to bring about a new war. But anyway, it was done, and soon 

the girls will come back. Now I ask you, Barbara and Peggy, jolly old Second Subalterns, as the 

imbeciles Bones and Bertie Wooster would have said, what hope will remain for our future if they 

come back to wage a kind of civil war, and a most uncivil war at that, against the men with whom they 

must marry and breed?’ 

‘What should they do, then?’ they asked. 

‘It’s obvious’, I said, ‘what they want, first and foremost, is what the men want: the safety of this island, 

and within it, our House of Freedom, so that we may build a better future. They then may look 

forward to happiness. What on this planet will it avail them, to yield to the deluders, and think only of 

gaining “Equality with men”, if, while they fix their eyes on that, the peace is stolen from them again, 

their homes and families are broken up again in another twenty years’ time, and both their men and 

themselves taken to fights’ 

‘Don’t you think we ought to have full equality?’ they said. 

‘But of course I do’, I said, ‘and you have it. You are pushing against an open door. I believe this island 

contains more women than men, and you have the vote. No office is too lofty for you to reach, no 

reform can be withheld which you demand, if you use that power. Let me give you an example. In 

November of 1942 one of your sex in Parliament, Mrs. Tate, drew attention to the fact that civilian 

women, injured through enemy action, received lower compensation than men. Now this was an 

obvious injustice, and a simple thing, which all could understand. It cannot be defended. Immediately 

the Members of Parliament, those men and women who are sworn to vote for any Governmental 

policy, however injurious to our interest, began to grow uneasy, because they fear the electors more 

than anything in the world, and knew, that in so clear a matter the people could not be bamboozled. 

They began to look anxiously over their shoulders at their constituencies – and this is another proof of 

the thing I try so hard to explain, the great power which the voters possess, if they would but make 

their minds clear about the matters in which they should use it, and how to use it. The result was that 

no less than 95 habitual Yessers voted for Mrs. Tate’s proposed reform, and against the Government. I 

feel sure that, in consequence, this injustice will be mitigated.’[22] 

‘Well, that sounds good’, they said. 

‘Yes, it sounds good’, I said, ‘but in fact it isn’t. It is the best example I know of the false trail which 

women are following. For what was the issue, simplified to its clearest point! If one of their legs were 

blown off, women wanted to receive as much money for that banished limb as would a man. Well and 

good. But what do they really want? They want both their husbands and themselves to retain both 

legs, to live in a secure island, and one progressively improving its domestic lot.’ 

‘Um, we see that’, they said. 

‘And that is why’, I said, ‘they are allowing themselves to be led along a wrong turning, that will bring 

them to fresh trouble, when they fix their thoughts on this misleading catchword, “Equality with men”. 

It is a secondary, not the foremost thing, and it is something they already have, if they take it. What 

they want, most of all, if they would realize it, is peace after this war, so that they may live happily 

with their men. That, they can only have through a sound Foreign Policy, a cleaner Parliament, and a 

freer Press. That is why the few women they have sent to Parliament have done them great disservice, 

by showing energy only in the campaign for “Equality with men” or, in a few cases, in some cause, 

such as the Admission of large numbers of immigrants to this island, which is actually dangerous to 

their own future.’ 

‘What should we do, then?’ 

‘When the girls come home’, I said, ‘and are called on, by dazzling promises, of “Equality with men”, 

to instal a new Parliament at Westminster for another five or ten or twenty years, let them ask these 

candidates, what policy they propose to uphold in Foreign Affairs, and whether they intend to pledge 

themselves to follow the orders of their party leaders if, after the election, they pursue a different 

policy; what attitude they will they take in Parliament about the activities of organized international 

powers which try to exert influence on our policies; whether they will insist in Parliament on obtaining 

information about the powers which control our newspapers, about the foreign activities of our 

armaments concerns and the activities here of foreign armaments and oil enterprises; and the like 

more. In short, they should refuse to be deluded by promises of “Equality with men”, which they can 

force any Member to press for, and only vote for that man, who will show them how he proposes to 

work for our safety and peace, and who will pledge himself to resign and bring about a by-election if 

he sees these things endangered. That is what the girls should do, when they come home. It’s the same 

thing which the boys should do, those boys who will be the fathers of their children and of the other 

boys and girls who will be sent away “to fight for freedom” in twenty years’ time, if these boys and 

girls allow it….’ 

‘Well’, they said, as I paid the bill, ‘it was grand to meet again.’ 

‘It was indeed,’ said I, ‘but remember how impossible this meeting would have seemed to us, in 1915. 

Don’t let us live on a descending scale of hope and faith. Each of you is now a leader, of lady troops. 

Talk to your girls, try and make them think as Englishwomen. Show them that the radio, the pictures 

and the Press, to-day, are their enemies, the instruments of delusion. Try and bring them back to a 

wise, a native, a patriotic state of mind. Make them feel that their present service is a small thing, that 

the real Battle in England will begin when they set foot in Civvy Street, that they can do more for us in 

this island there than they ever can in your huts and on your gun-sites. Don’t let them meander along, 

drooling “There’s a long, long trail a-winding, into the land of my dreams”, when so many lie in wait 

to lead them to a nightmare.’ 

We went out and parted at the corner of Bond Street, and I saluted them both. 

‘Good Heavens’, they said, ‘You mustn’t do that! It’s against all orders.’ 

‘Is it?’ I said. ‘I was always a rebel. What do you think I fought for freedom for, in the last war? This is 

a free country, ennit?’  










Chapter Four 


December 14th, 1918, said the calendar on the wall of my hut in France. The Armistice (which was to 

last for just twenty-one years) was five weeks old; the echoes of the cheering were hardly still. The 

Boys were not yet come home; they were in France, Italy, Russia, the Balkans, Mesopotamia, Egypt, 

India, or somewhere else, far away. 

No matter, at home their interests were being well cared for. The Victory they won was being invested 

for them. They looked homeward and saw an Election. ‘We will hang the Kaiser’, ‘We will squeeze 

Germany till the pips squeak’, ‘We will bring the war criminals to justice’, ‘We will banish war for 

ever’, ‘We will build homes for heroes in a land fit for heroes to live in’. 

The politicians said these things, and the newspapers echoed them. The Boys breathed again. All was 

well. Their victory was not in vain. The war to end war was over, their representatives at home were 

making the world safe for democracy, all save a million of those who went away were still alive, and 

those now due to come back would not be able to say that England had failed them. 

It was the Snap Election. During the war of 1914-18 the Parties, joined in Coalition by their own vote, 

prolonged the life of the ‘Parliament of 1911 three times, from five to eight years (just as the Coalition 

has done this time). On November 25th, 1918, just fourteen days after the Armistice, they dissolved 

Parliament, which would otherwise have expired on January 31st, 1919, when a few of The Boys 

would have already returned, and the hysteria of November 1918 would already have dwindled a little. 

They would not wait even for those few weeks. Who cared what happened to the Victory which The 

Boys won, or to The Boys? The politicians must hasten to cash in on their victory. Seats must be made 

safe for Members. ‘Vote for the Government that won the war’. Parliament was dissolved on 

November 25th, 1918, before the rumbling echoes of the last gun were dead. The Snap Election was 

held on December 14th, 1918. Mr. Lloyd George’s Coalition was returned with a majority of 472 

Members, out of 707, and of the 472, 334 were Conservatives.[23] 

The political victory was won, the military victory thrown away, and the peace lost, while the deluded 

people still nursed tender feet and sore throats from the rejoicings of November 11th, 1918. The Snap 

Election was over. Snap! went the jaws of the Party Machine. They closed on what? On the Kaiser? 

On the War Criminals? On Victory? Peace? Freedom? Homes for Heroes? Work for All? 

No, they closed on the people of this island, who, thus duped, were put in a strait-jacket of impotence, 

which was only relaxed while the next war was being prepared at election times. At each of those 

infrequent opportunities they were induced to put their head between the jaws again. 


That is the trick, by means of which a democratic machine may be used to dupe the people and lead 

them into a new war. 

Within four years of the Snap Election, Mr. Lloyd George, the War Winner, was dismissed by the 

Conservative majority. The era of three Tory Prime Ministers opened, Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Baldwin 

and Mr. Neville Chamberlain, with the lamentable interludes of their puppet, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. 

Now the same process begins again. Our present ‘Parliament was elected in November 1935, and was 

due to expire in November 1940. The war came in September 1939, and in 1940, 1941 and 1942 

Parliament prolonged its own life, so that it is now due to be dissolved in November 1943. If, before 

that, Germany has capitulated, it will hold, a Snap Election. If Germany still fights, it will probably 

renew its existence by another year, and then dissolve and hold the election when victory comes, or is 

obviously imminent. 

The Boys in either case will not be here. Mr. Churchill has promised, on their behalf, that if the war 

with Japan still goes on they will immediately be sent across the world, all the King’s Forces! No 

doubt the radio will enable them to hear the good tidings from home: ‘We shall exact full retribution 

from “All Nazis and Quislings”‘, “We shall make war impossible for all time”, “We shall find 

employment for all and make this island fit for The Boys and The Girls to live in”, “When they come 

home, we shall provide social security for all”, “We shall begin a great programme of public works 

and reconstruction….”‘ 

The only question is, will the Coalition (called, to-day, the National Government) appeal to the 

country, or will the two great Parties compete? The signs are, that the device of 1918 may be used 

again. The Coalition may present itself to the country as ‘The Government that won the war, led by the 

Man Who Won The War’,[24] and would probably flutter the pages of the Beveridge Report before the 

electors (‘A Land Fit For Heroes To Live In’) as the proof that the welfare of this island is safe in its 

keeping. The Labour Party has shown that a share in office tempts it more than the bachelordom of 

Opposition. If it decided to go to the country as a Party, the Conservatives would offer themselves not 

only as the Men Who Won The War, but also as the champions of the Beveridge Report, and say, 

‘Even the Socialists couldn’t give you anything more Socialist than this!’ And if by some freak of the 

moment it obtained a majority, a dire prospect would open for this country. 

The odds are on a Snap Election held by the Winston Churchill National Government (instead of the 

Lloyd George Coalition), and the electors would be expected to forget that many of The Men Who 

Won The War are also those who actively promoted its coming. 

Two or three years later Mr. Winston Churchill, if he stoutly held to the alliance with Russia or set 

about to prevent the loss of the peace, would be cast aside, as Mr. Lloyd George was cast aside, and 

the Conservative Party would resume open control. At any subsequent election, brought about by 

reviving public uneasiness, some trick would be found to lull the electors for just as long as was 

needed, to hold an election. 

This is the course of events to come, if the people of this island do not set themselves to understand 

the way the political machine has been deftly thrown out of gear, so that it works only for their 

delusion. The prospect of another twenty years of political captivity, stalemate and stagnation, with 

who-knows-what cooking behind the scenes, now opens to them unless they learn the trick and the 

way to thwart it.[25] 

An exact simile is available for the method by which a majority was always obtained from the voting 

but unthinking adults of this island between the two wars, the method by which the next majority will 

be sought. 

It is, the seduction of a woman under promise of marriage. 

It is plain Lyceum melodrama. The villain makes the promise. The electorate yields. The promise, of a 

certain course in policy, is immediately broken. The people are left with the offspring, war. 

The most flagrant example is the 1935 election, which was won through the promise, without which 

the protesting electors would not yield their honour, of ‘collective resistance to acts of unprovoked 

aggression’. The betrayal was already planned, and was perpetrated immediately the country gave the 


The baby was this war. 

But exactly the same trick, in various forms, was played at every election between 1918 and 1935.[26] 

Precisely the same deception is now being prepared, for the next election. 

One other thing, than the promise, is necessary, for the trick to succeed. Each time the seduction and 

betrayal are accomplished, a spectator is present, who must either denounce the seducer or become a 

conniving accomplice. The spectator is Parliament. How are the spectator’s silence and acquiescence, 

in the betrayal, procured? 

This is the enigma which so long bewildered us. We, the audience, always saw that witness of the 

betrayal, lurking behind a tree, and expected him to denounce the villain. We wondered why he kept 

his lips sealed. He looked an honest man. Lyceum melodrama, we felt, was failing us. This was not in 

the good old tradition. 

That is the man we leave to get at and reform, if we are to bring the play back to the better tradition: 

the Member of Parliament. He presents himself to us as an honest man, who only wishes to go to 

Westminster to watch over the promises that were made during the wooing. 

He is already forsworn. He is the villain’s bondman. 

That is the secret of our tragedy, and will be the cause, if our future is taken from us again. These men 

pledge themselves to do whatever their Party leaders may tell them, after the election, after the 

electorate has yielded! But the leaders, as Mr. Lloyd George has told us, are subject to ‘motives’ which 

‘precipitate wars’ and which they ‘dare not avow’. How, then, can the Members watch over the 

fulfilment of the promise that is made, to gain the votes, if they are, by written or implicit pledge, 

bound to follow these leaders in anything they do? 

This was the evil partnership, of misleader and sworn accomplice, which the British people 

desperately tried to break by the Peace Ballot (a national call for armed force to prevent aggression) in 


Labour candidates at an election are only adopted as candidates by that Party when they sign a 

pledge in no circumstances whatever to vote against a Party decision

Conservative candidates at an election do not sign a pledge, but in practice accept exactly the same 

bondage; the methods of enforcing it are more subtle but equally stringent: and consist of exclusion 

from office, ostracism and expulsion

Thus Conservative and Labour Members, once they have induced the electorate to return them, go to 

Westminster, not as honest witnesses resolved to ensure that the promise of wedlock is kept, under 

which the electorate yielded the vote; but as men sworn not to question the subsequent conduct of the 


The methods by which this dishonourable acquiescence is obtained, in the Tory Party, have been 

described in many books, including What of the Night? by Watchman, a Conservative M.P. (Hamish 

Hamilton, 1940) and Guilty Men by Cato (Gollancz, 1940). 

Of the Labour Party, Lord Wedgwood, in his Testament to Democracy (Hutchinson, 1942), says:  

The charge made against Members of Parliament which is probably best founded and 

most serious, is that they show so little independence and do always as they are told. 

Party discipline tends ever to become more strict, and the penalties for the breaking of 

Party Rules ever more formidable. No aspirant may become a candidate for the Labour 

Party, either for local Councils or for Parliament, without solemnly undertaking to obey 

the Party Rules. Till this undertaking is signed the candidature will not be endorsed at 

headquarters. The Rules are that one may not vote against any decision come to by the 

weekly meetings of the Party M.P.s. One may abstain from the vote and speak against 

the Party view, but the Labour M.P. or Town Councillor must not vote against the Party 

decision. That I hold to be an infringement of the rights and duties of Members of 

Parliament. Party decisions of this sort in old days were not numerous; they are now 

frequent, and the rule is being silently extended to cover all decisions that have to be 

made by the pro tem. Party leader on the spur of the moment in the course of any 

debate. I could never have joined the Labour Party had this rule been in practice in 

1919. It is a surrender of conscience, reason and duty which ought to be intolerable to 

any Member of Parliament. Members of Parliament are not instructed delegates; they 

are there to hear, weigh and decide, according to their own judgment, every issue put 

before them. The coercion of these Rules is a first step in the direction of Fascism and 

Naziism. [Lord Wedgwood[27] might have added ‘and Communism’.] It sets Party 

before country, force above reason, debate becomes useless, and electors are betrayed. 

Professor Edward Hallett Carr (of The Times), in his Conditions of Peace, says:  

The supremacy of the Party machine, dominated by economic interests, has been a 

conspicuous feature of British democracy in the past twenty years. It has been exercised 

in the constituencies, where the Party candidate or a promising seat is chosen no longer 

– except on rare occasions – by representatives of the electors, but by the Central Party 

machine. It has been exercised still more effectively in the House of Commons, where 

individual members are subject to ever stronger pressure to obey the dictates of the 

Party Whip. The process thus becomes a double one. A Member of Parliament is 

elected not on personal considerations or by the choice of his constituents, but as the 

agent and nominee of a Party; except on increasingly rare occasions, he votes not as 

his conscience or as the supposed will of his constituents dictates, but as the Party 

decides. The fact is notorious … a serious corollary of these developments is their effect 

on the quality of human material which enters Parliament and attains promotion to 

ministerial rank

The method, then, is that of the seduction of a woman under promise of wedlock, in the presence of 

witnesses supposedly honest, but actually suborned! 

The leaders, whom these witnesses are thus pledged to obey, are actuated by ‘motives’ which 

‘precipitate wars’ and which they ‘dare not avow’! 

Thus the choice which confronts the electors, at an election in our island to-day, if two main parties 

compete in it, is, to choose between posting a letter in one of two pillar boxes, from neither of which a 

collection is made. When these two Parties coalesce, the number of pillar boxes is reduced to one, and 

there is still no collection. Since the pledges to the people, given at an election, mean nothing, because 

of that overriding pledge given to the Party, the country is left without any check on the Government 

between elections. The British people did once try to hold Parliament to its electoral pledges. This was 

in 1935. Consider the events, of that year, when this war really began; we cannot construct something, 

in the future, unless we understand them. We shall encounter 1935 again as we go down Civvy Street. 

It will call itself 1955 or 1965. 

In 1935 the efforts of the men who worked to bring about the war, and the desperate anxiety of the 

British people to prevent it, both reached their highest vigour. The instinct of the British people for 

what threatened, was as sound as that of a ferret for a rat. They produced, of their own strength and 

free will, a gigantic bid to save the peace from the wreckers. 

The Peace Ballot of 1935 was the one action in those inter-war years, which might revive faith in the 

ability of free men and women, thinking as individuals, to thwart a criminal design, and prevent an 

unnecessary war. It failed, or rather, it was foiled; but it has bequeathed to us a basis on which to 

construct something for the future. We only need to learn how it was foiled, so that the wreckers may 

be foiled next time. 

Nothing in our history becomes us so well as that gallant attempt of the people to guide the rulers. No 

other nation can point to so valorous an effort. We know that we can fight in war, as volunteers or 

conscripts; we do not need to reassure ourselves of that every twenty years. In 1935 people tried to 

show that they could think and live for England in peace, a much higher aim. Men and women thrust 

aside the Party machine, spurned intimidation and inducement alike, and said to the politicians, ‘You 

are steering for war. Change the course now, or we will dismiss you’. 

This Battle in England, was won. The Party machines waged a counter campaign of scurrility and lies 

which has never been equalled: ‘Party politics of the lowest kind’, said the renegade Socialist Prime 

Minister; ‘The Blood Ballot’, shouted the Tory press; ‘wilful deception of the people’, said the Liberal 

Foreign Minister. They raged in vain. For the first time the delusion-machine was beaten. Seven 

million people voted for collective armed resistance to aggression. 

For the first time, England spoke. The Government bowed to the storm. Overnight the foreign policy 

of isolation and war was changed to one of resistance to aggression and peace as demanded by the 

Ballot. On that issue, elections were held, and a thankful country returned a chastened government 

with an enormous majority. On that mandate the Foreign Minister went to Geneva and promised a 

rejoicing world ‘resistance to aggression’, while fifty other countries jubilantly allied themselves with 

us. England’s name never stood so high as on that day, when the people compelled their leaders to do 

what they wanted and what the world knew was right. Even to-day, when all the Adam Wakenshaws 

have lifted England’s name to a new pinnacle, it does not stand quite so high as it then stood; the world 

remembers what came after! 

Once entrenched in power, the British Government resumed the condonation of aggression until the 

new war was certain! The annexation of Abyssinia, was already privily arranged when the election 

was held! The British people did not produce the strength for the second national protest, which would 

have overthrown these misleaders. 

It is the blackest story in our history. The Parliament elected in 1935, in that glowing moment of hope, 

still sits to-day. The Government still contains most of the Ministers of that time, men who swear to- 

day what they forswore yesterday. 

But the Peace Ballot of 1935 has at least exposed the trick. We now know that the country can check 

its leaders, when it sees that they are misguiding it, and that they will bend to the country’s will. We 

also know, since that event, that they will only pretend so to submit for as long as they need to win an 

election, that they regard such elections as an irritating break in the placidity of political machination, 

and that they will return to the false course once the election has been won. 

We need, then, to devise a double-check, for next time. It is not enough to organize a Ballot, for the 

Parties will return to their evil ways, no matter how strong the Ballot proves the nation’s will to be, 

when the voting is over and they are safe in office for another term of years. The next Ballot must 

include a safeguard; the intimation that if the Government, once returned, and pledged to a certain 

course, betrays that pledge, a second Ballot will be held, and organized with even more vigour than 

the first, and that this will be supported by a number of by-elections

The second clause is vital. Government, Parties and Parliament cannot ignore that. Here is the means 

to keep a constant check on the country’s policy and safety. Essential to it is the return, at future 

elections for twenty years at least, of a large number of independent candidates, pledged to refuse 

party bonds, and pledged also to resign and bring about by-elections if any divergence threatens, from 

policy as proclaimed at a general election, in any issue of paramount importance. 

Such watchdogs in Parliament would reinvigorate it, force the Parties to return to cleaner methods, and 

provide the brake-and-accelerator, which the country could apply if the Government went too fast in a 

wrong direction or too slowly in a right one. It would give such people as those who made the gallant 

bid of 1935, the means to ensure that a similar national protest made in similar circumstances in the 

future, could not be contemptuously disregarded once an election was over. It would give the nation 

an eye and an ear and a voice between elections, in a Parliament now filled with placemen sworn to 

obey their leaders even when these betray national interests. It would fill the hole into which the high 

hopes of 1935 were disdainfully thrown once the election was won. 

Given such watchmen in Parliament, the Peace Ballot of 1935 would have been a battle won, because 

the war would have been averted. The men who initiated it did not think far enough ahead to provide a 

safeguard, against the sabotage of the people’s will after the election. One of them wrote to me:  

What you say about the frustration of the years since the last war is true. I was one who 

watched with concern events as they unfolded, and the feeling that I could do nothing 

to stop the mistakes I saw being made was terrible. Only once did I succeed in doing 

something. I conceived the idea of the Peace Ballot[28] and started it here in X from 

whence it spread, and what was the result? The Tories paid lip service to the 

astonishing result, won their election, and then went right against the wishes of the 

people who voted in that Ballot. The people voted for collective action against 

aggressors and for state ownership of the arms industry. They never got anywhere near 

either of them.’ 

I have shown why; they did not devise a safeguard. 

If the present system continues, of electing to Parliament men who make promises they cannot fulfil, 

because they have privately accepted an overriding authority, our future can only become darker. The 

opportunities, which it gives, for unseen forces to wield power behind the political scene, to dominate 

our island life, and to work against our national interests, are too great. While it continues, none, who 

are not ready to surrender the future, should vote for a Party candidate without obtaining the public 

pledge that he will not sign such a written undertaking, or yield to an unwritten one, when he returns 

to Westminster. No election meeting should be allowed to open or close without this question being 

put, and any candidate who refuses to cast off that bondage should be denied the vote. 

But the only sure guarantee of smashing this evil practice, which would deliver us in chains to those 

who may wish to wreck our future again, is to send at least a hundred Independent Members into the 

next Parliament. 

This is a reform which must be made and which those people who helplessly ask, ‘What can I do?’ can 

do. They can understand this thing, which is simple, and they can abolish it. As long as it continues, 

they are enslaved, and no electoral promise means anything. It is the main cause of our present plight 

and can yet bring worse calamity on us. 

Unless people perceive this spanner which has been thrown into the works, the next election will be 

the first step in the destruction of their future. ‘Vote for the Men Who Won The War’, the radio will 

shout. ‘Enduring Peace and Social Security’, the Bondmen will speciously promise. ‘All is well’ the 

newspapers will clamour. Snap, will go the jaws of the Party machine, and bang will go the promises 

and the future… 

… December 14th, 1918, said the calendar on the wall in my hut in France. ‘Election time in England 

to-day,’ I thought vaguely, ‘that’s good. Lloyd George and his men are looking after us. They’ll see that 

the Kaiser and the War Criminals are punished, that the peace is won, that the slums are abolished and 

the countryside revived, and England made a place of home and beauty. I wonder why they call it a 

Snap Election’, I thought, ‘I don’t understand what they mean by that.’ 

I do, now. And so may you if you read.  





















Chapter Five 


1921, and London. At last I was come to a small job. I sat in a cellar in Fleet Street and typed letters 

for a few pounds a week. After the long spell of unemployment, this was comforting. No advancement 

offered but the coins in my pocket were solid. I rattled away on the typewriter, went to the pictures or 

a music hall in the evening, meandered about Kew Gardens or Hampton Court on Saturday afternoons 

and Sundays. 

Life continued. I knew a girl…. 

From vague promptings of dissatisfaction, nevertheless, I answered advertisements. A famous 

authoress, who needed a secretary, asked me to call. I only remember her eyes, which were 

astonishingly blue. She lay on a Sofa, and her husband hovered around. She lived in Kenya. She 

offered me the job. Life on a ranch; experience, adventure, a fine climate (as I now know), travel. I 

asked to think it over. I went away and thought. The pictures and the music hall; the aimless but but 

existence; my mother; England, which I loved; the girl…. 

I refused. I look back on the incident with horror. I can hardly believe it. I climbed back into my rut 

and fixed my eyes on the ground. The strength of the intangible something – inertia, I suppose – which 

held so many Englishmen of my generation in its grip is almost unbelievable. I tell the story, because I 

hope that it may help others. How many others have done the same, rejected all that life and the world 


To-day, I would not wait for the offer of a job. I would get on a ship and go, because I know that a 

man can get some kind of work anywhere, if he means to, and because I have found that nothing is so 

good, as to go away for a time, travel the world, feel the gap between your eyes widening and your 

mind opening and your knowledge increasing, I would go anywhere that was open – anywhere in 

Europe, the Dominions, Africa, anywhere at all. 

Soon after that episode, I took another job, for I was seemingly not quite inert and kept on trying, in a 

vague way. Then I was sent to Paris, and though I did not refuse, I went reluctantly. I recall now, when 

I seek to detect the motives which caused my mood, that I was still in the grip of an infatuation, to 

which the men back from four years in France were especially subject: England was Home, and 

nothing else in the world could be so good and lovely, and somewhere in it, sometime, I should find A 

Little House and A Little Garden. 

Though I did not aspire to live in one of a row of semidetached houses, each exactly like the next, my 

dream was not much loftier. It was the most limited ambition a man can have, though I invested it with 

a romantic glamour: a roof and some food. The dullard’s vision: a cottage with roses round the door. I 

needed thirty-five years to grow out of that weak project, which in effect was, to build my own little 

Enclosure in the land of Enclosure, call it my castle, and settle down in it, to grow old and die. The 

golden coins that life gives us to spend are so few, but threescore and ten, and yet I, like many more, 

wanted to put them in a stocking. 

After six months, I was recalled from Paris. I came home gladly! Ah, to be back in England, and the 

pictures, and Kensington Gardens, and the Empire on Saturday night, and the trips to Box Hill, and the 

shops in Regent Street, and the strolls by the Serpentine, and the fortnight at Shanklin, and the crystal 

set, and a lawn-mower and clippers and a birdbath, and somewhere, in the distance, The Little House 

and The Little Garden, and the girl…. 

Gruesome, is it not? I have shown the worst skeleton in my cupboard, and the thing which shames me 

most. How I should loathe myself of 1921 if I met myself, in 1943! You, I would say, are the sort of 

man who makes better men despair of England. What the devil are you doing, wasting your life like 

this? You, with your paltry amusements and your trivial occupation and your petty preoccupations and 

your little dream house and your small ambitions. For Heaven’s sake, I should say, shake yourself, and 

get up and get out, into the world, and live. Go into politics. Go into Parliament. Get on a ship, as 

steward, go anywhere you like, work first at that and next at that, travel around, until you feel you 

know something and are alive and can do something useful. 

I came back to England, gladly. I did not think I should leave England again. While life oozed by, I 

thought of a brick coffin – The Little House…. 

You have just seen, gentle reader, the man who will surrender our island’s future again, unless you and 

I can awaken, enliven and inspirit him. That we may be able to do it, I am encouraged to hope by this 

passage in a letter from one of you, a middle-aged English North Countrywoman:  

I hate slums, dirt, squalor and jerry-built bungalows (incidentally I live in one myself), 

and that’s why after the war I was dreaming of a nice old, long, low, white house in the 

heart of the countryside, where I could enjoy peace and beauty. Now, I am beginning to 

realize that’s just what we have not got to do. It is we commonplace folks who have got 

to get things done…. 

As a penitent sinner, who came through the valley of living death which that existence was, as a man 

who saw the calamity to which this country was only brought through public lethargy in this island, 

and one who hopes that from such experience we may save our future, I would like to post myself in 

sackcloth and ashes at the entrance to Civvy Street, and say to every man and woman who approaches 


‘Keep out of the rut and spurn the groove. Do not tie yourself to a small job and accumulate burdens 

on your back. Do not rush to own a radio, an arm-chair and a parlour, and make yourself for years to 

come the slave of hire-purchase. Own as few things as you can, for the tyranny of small possessions is 

intolerable. “A young man married is a young man marred”. Well, that contains much truth, but is not 

worth saying, for none will take counsel in this matter. But if you must take a wife, choose one who 

will come with you, with a knapsack on her back, to Kenya or Capetown, or Canada, or Queensland, 

or Christchurch, and will set to work with you to build a future there. If you can’t find one such, take 

none, but wait. Don’t crawl into a little job and a little house, waste yourself in trivial pursuits, give 

yourself up to the narcotics of picture-houses, and radio, encumber yourself with little worldly gods, 

obligations and responsibilities, and shut your eyes to all that goes on in your country and in the 

world, outside your four walls. Do not live like a snail, which crawls painfully about with a little house 

on its back, asking nothing better of life than a little lettuce, and thinking itself secure within a castle 

which, the next moment, They will destroy. (They, in this case, are the sharp-beaked thrushes, which 

are very anti-snail.) Get out into the world. You will increase your value to others and your enjoyment 

of yourself a hundred times as quickly, if you know something more than the life of the little garden, 

the parlour, the eight-fifty to town, the radio, the pictures, the football pools and the football results. 

You’ll have a grand life, and you’ll feel twice as large round the chest and twice as clear in the head, 

and you’ll help to revive and reinvigorate this island and this Empire.’ 

That is what I would say. Perhaps we, of the last generation, have some excuse. Who would have 

believed, in 1918, that such things would happen as the next twenty years brought? But the new 

generation has no excuse. The man who, after this war, returns to Civvy Street, knowing that in twenty 

years he may be called again, his house destroyed or his business ruined, his sons and daughters taken, 

even his little car or radio or refrigerator seized – the man who, knowing these things, comes back and 

looks no further beyond his nose than the acquirement of the little house, the little business and the 

little car, puts himself, his family, all he owns, and his future in pawn. 

The human appetite for possessions, in view of the short time we spend on this earth, is curious, and if 

beings on any other planet are able to observe our doings they must often be doubled up with laughter 

by our efforts to acquire things from which death will soon separate us. How much of the blame for 

this war, I wonder, was borne by very rich men, some trifle of whose wealth was taken by the 

Bolshevists, or who feared that the Bolshevists would come and take their all, so that they used all 

their power to establish Germany as A Bulwark Against Bolshevism, and to prompt Germany to attack 

Russia. I recall at least three such who then lost all their possessions, which they previously moved 

about from one country to another, through death, after the outbreak of this war, but before they even 

knew the small consolation of Hitler’s assault on the Russians! 

The loss of small possessions, through two of Hitler’s successive invasions, first made me realize what 

a nuisance they are, at any rate to a man who wishes to keep moving. I still suffer from their tyranny, 

because I own many books, which I cannot discard, and as these weigh more than iron bars, they are a 

pestilential hindrance to travel, when I am allowed to travel. I know of a man whose untimely end was 

due to the tyranny of his belongings, and his tale will serve here as a cautionary one. 

After several years in Europe, he pined for home comforts and caused his furniture, which was stored 

in England, and already disturbed his dreams, to be sent to Paris, where he was stationed. He furnished 

a flat, and then was ordered to Switzerland. Again he went through all the long process of finding a 

flat, having the furniture packed, transported, examined at the customs, delivered, unpacked and set 

out. A few months later he was sent to Vienna. Once more, he sought a flat, the furniture arrived, the 

heavy bills were paid, and within six months Hitler invaded Austria. My acquaintance was transferred 

to Budapest, the furniture was packed, and remained in Vienna, awaiting his instructions to forward it. 

The turbulent summer of 1938 followed, when war seemed imminent. By now the tenant of a flat in 

Budapest, he spent a more miserable summer than most, for his furniture would travel down the 

Danube, if he ordered it to be sent, and he saw it caught between the fire of armies entrenched on the 

banks, and riddled with bullets. Then the good Mr. Chamberlain procured peace in our time, and the 

furniture travelled to Budapest. A year later war broke out. For a time the furniture, and its owner, 

were spared. Then, in 1941, the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, where he happend to be at the moment. 

He could have made a last-moment getaway, but was harassed by the thought of that furniture, in 

Budapest. He stayed, and the widening German net found him in it. He returned to Budapest, was 

there interned, and died of pneumonia. 

So, gentle reader, when you set out in search of a wider and fuller life than this island can afford, 

travel light, that you may be free. Keep your indispensable belongings within the limits of a suitcase or 

a trunk. Hire, but do not buy, what you want: a house, a flat, furniture, a car; and hire it by no more 

than the month. But the same modest counsel holds good, within limits, if you stay in this island. We 

shall not know, for ten years at least after this wary whether They will seek to destroy again in ten 

years more everything that has been built up, and until we know that, it will be absurd for people to 

spend their energy, once more, in putting up cockshies for others to knock down. So I would say, if 

you have money to spend, spend it on travel, on the acquiring of wide experience. 

Of one thing I feel sure. We fight this war, we are told, for ‘four freedoms’. If we find, after this war, 

that all sorts of obstructions and bans are placed on the freedom of people to travel or to emigrate from 

this island, that will be the plainest sign conceivable, that this second war was but a stage in a process, 

and that worse things impend; that the process itself is one of the gradual confinement of the people of 

this island, which could only lead to their eventual subjection to foreign rule. 

Travelling about the world, I have seen that innumerable opportunities offer to the people of this 

country, especially within the Empire, but also in foreign countries, for those who seek them, and my 

experience is, that those who fare forth are happier men than their stay-at-home fellows. They are also 

more enlightened. If only a tenth of the people in this country knew the States and peoples of Europe 

first-hand, as the tiny group of Britishers knew them who lived in those countries between the wars, 

we could not again be led into a needless war, or inveigled into any other policy injurious to our native 

interests. The sum of knowledge within the country would be too great. 

If this book comes into the hands of any men and women who return to Civvy Street with the desire to 

preserve their country from a new war, I would say to them, do not seek, in this island, the peace 

which is that of the graveyard. Make peace an adventure. You cannot serve your, country better than 

by leaving it, at any rate for a part of your life, not as a way of escape, but as a means to gain 

understanding of the perils which threaten it. 

You will find life a thing of infinite zest, instead of a dull corridor with tiny windows. You will come 

to understand your own land better by studying other lands. You will see what they do better than we, 

and what we do better than they. You will be able to form an opinion worth having, because you will 

have a standard of comparison. After some years, you will come to look back on your narrow and 

enclosed way of life in England with some resentment, and even revulsion, and you will set yourself to 

change these things when you return; or, if you stay abroad, you will be better equipped to play your 

part in raising a happy breed. 

In short, the dream that boys have, when they see a great ship, white and gold, sailing off to foreign 

parts, is one of the few dreams that may come true. The things they picture to themselves do exist, at 

the other end of the journey. Move about in this world, and you may live on an ascending scale of 

happiness, not on a level plane of routine, or on a down gradient of declining ambition and energy. 

To learn to know the world, is within the reach of all, who are ready to work, and to save a little. The 

only thing that could hinder it would be some barrier erected by our own rulers, who do so many 

sinister things. To prevent that, should be one of the first resolutions of men and women who return to 

Civvy Street. Those who oppose current proposals for ‘Social Security’ complain that they would 

destroy ‘the spirit of adventure’ in England. How can such a spirit thrive, if those who would venture 

forth are hindered from doing so, and how can our Empire thrive if this continues? 

To make peace an adventure! That is something worth living and fighting for. To return to the peace 

of the graveyard, and with downcast head plod along the rut, is the sure way to new trouble. 

… Five years, I then spent in England, and was glad to be in my rut. In 1927 I was ordered to Berlin. I 

was loath to go. The witch’s spell, the dream of the little house and the lawn-mower, still lay on me: I 

confess it, for the discouragement of others. Then I pulled myself together, and told myself that I was 

a fool to reject opportunity for the sake of this rural vision, which was a sort of compound dream 

distilled from Constable’s pictures and phrases about a green pleasaunce and snatches of romantic 

poetry and Gray’s ‘Elegy’ and ‘The Village Blacksmith’ and old coloured prints. I went to Germany. 

For three years the ache for England lay in me, and I itched to return. Then I suddenly realized that I 

was sleepwalking. I awoke, with a start, from my dream, and saw it was a bad dream. After thirty-five 

years, my spirit sprang to life within me. 

Why, everything I loved was within my reach, I needed only to stretch out my hand, and instead here I 

lay and dreamed of a cottage-and-roses-round-the-door. Lakes, forests of fir-trees, snow-capped 

mountains, blue seas and blue skies; foreign cities, strange peoples, new tongues, different ways; 

knowledge, experience, understanding; all these were around me, and I pined to plant myself, 

vegetable-like, in some rural suburb, and mow the lawn, and listen to the radio, and go to the pictures! 

The change was sudden and startling. I have briefly described how it came about, in the hope that 

some may profit by it, curtail their hesitations, and grasp at the unending adventure which peace may 

























Chapter Six 


Even victors are by victories undone 

– JOHN DRYDEN, 1631-1700 


Woe to the conquering not the conquered host 

– LORD BYRON, 1788-1824 

December 1921. Tiny tinselled flakes of snow glittered in the crisp evening air of Paris. The street 

lights sparkled like diamonds in a jeweller’s shop window; in this twilight hour they shone brightest. I 

stood in the big doorway of the house, in the Boulevard des Italiens, where was my attic, and talked 

with Jean, the chauffeur, my neighbour. We could just see the noisy traffic of the Rue de l’Opéra. 

I was getting into my stride, in Civvy Street. The leanest times lay behind me (and the worst, I then 

thought, little dreaming of 1933); three years of unemployment, peddling things from door to door, 

and abject occupations. Now I was come to something better. 

Jean approached middle age. Four years in the trenches and three wounds lay heavy on him. I could 

not understand him. I thought all was well with the world again; he was bitter, in 1921! He did not 

believe in the future. He thought all the bloodshed and suffering were wasted, that the Germans would 

soon make a new war. He thought Messieurs les Anglais sought to get France down and rob France of 

its victory. I thought he was mad. All on a December evening in 1921. 

André Jones joined us. He was what we call in English a commissionaire at a bank. His long fair hair 

was brushed back, his silky moustache reached nearly to his cars. Women often glanced at him 

sideways; he looked good in his neat, blue uniform. His wife was a Frenchwoman, of gloomy mien 

and vixenish temper, of whom the gossips, on the ascending floors of that house, confidently said that 

she often planted the famous horns on his well-shaped head. 

He was the child of the Entente Cordiale. His mother was French, his father English. He spoke the 

idiom of Belleville and Bermondsey with equal fluency. His life was spent in equal parts between the 

two countries. He told Jean, in French, bawdy tales of his exploits as a factory hand at Leicester, and 

me, in English, the story of his conquests in Calais, where he once owned a garage. 

He umpired our debate. He joined with Jean and cursed Messieurs les Anglais in biting Parisian slang; 

and when I told Jean that the perfidy of England was a French illusion, he nodded approvingly and, 

knowing that Jean understood no English, said, ‘That’s right, tell the bastard off’. 

My French was a great joke with him because once when I was his guest at dinner and his wife gave a 

pouf of satiety, I asked whether she were pleine. No, they both said, shaking with laughter, she was not 

pregnant. I thought I might have hurt them, because, for all her reputed diligence in this respect, she 

was seemingly incapable of attaining such a condition and they wanted a child; but their merriment 

was wholehearted. 

Englishman, Frenchman and Anglo-Frenchman, we discussed the future, while the little snowflakes 

begemmed the hard, dry air. Jean looked with brooding eyes towards the Rue de l’Opéra, scowled so 

much that his moustache withdrew into the grooves in his face, and imprecated, in 1921. Ah, the 

politicians and the corruption, and the Germans are starting again, and mark my words, Monsieur 

Reed – he shook an emphatic forefinger – Messieurs les Anglais …  

It is unfortunate [said. Mr. Greenwood, the Labour leader, in the Commons on February 

16th, 1943], but true, that there exists in many quarters in the country and among 

members of the Forces an atmosphere of cynicism tinged with bitterness which might 

be dangerous for our future … it will he a bad end to the war if those who have in their 

various ways secured victory return to eat the bread of disillusionment and live among 

shattered hopes and discarded, unfulfilled promises. 

Such things are often said, by peers, politicians, prelates and newspapers. Seemingly none of them 

realize that they breed this despondency. 

If they wish to uplift the sagging spirit, they can. The causes are not unknown. Starkly confronting us, 

at the beginning of to-morrow in Civvy Street, is the example of yesterday’s France, by which we may 

learn. Victory is always more dangerous to the victors than to the vanquished. 

The reasons which led to the abject decline of victorious France were the same which led us to 

Dunkirk. The only difference was, that the French lacked a last ditch, an English Channel, behind 

which they might rally. 

Our position, after this war, will be like that of France in 1918. We shall be victorious, tired, sorely 

tried. But we are richer by the French example; we need not sag, as France sagged, if we purify our 

public life. The cleansing can only come from below. The politicians, and those behind them, are too 

set in their ways to change of their own will. Every man who returns to Civvy Street should bear in 

mind the example of France. 

The seeds of despondency were planted even during the last war. They began with the miserable 

treatment of the French soldier. He was the least of men in his own stricken land. He was paid a 

halfpenny a day. He felt inferior. He fought as bravely as any, and shed his blood more copiously. Yet 

his rulers seemed bent on breaking his spirit. Foreign soldiers thronged his country and all were 

wealthy compared with him. 

In our House of Commons, on September 10th, 1942, when the disproportion between the pay of our 

men and that of American and Imperial troops was mentioned, Sir Stafford Cripps sought to justify it 

by recalling the plight of the French soldier in the last war and saying the disparity in pay ‘did not 

jeopardize comradeship or the power of collaboration’. 

He is wrong. This thing soured the Frenchman’s spirit. It embittered him, and justly. Moreover, he was 

tormented by the thought of his womenfolk, and again, with reason. Colinette, all too often, was not 

waiting by the poplars, or longing and watching, where the long white roadway lies. She was in the 

estaminet, with the British soldiers. 

In this war our men have been put in a similar position. The British soldier, even if he has not been 

sent overseas, has been separated for years from his wife and children. He may have been overseas for 

even ‘five, six or seven years’ (Sir James Grigg, War Minister, on February 16th, 1943) but be denied 

leave ‘because of the shipping situation’. 

While the things continue, which break up family life and breed despair, such words are useless as 

those which the Bishop of Salisbury uttered on February 17th, 1943:  

There is absolute degradation of moral standards. There are married women and girls 

with no sense of morality – girls of fourteen and fifteen. Women whose husbands are 

away and who are heedlessly disloyal to them … women who say,’He is away overseas, 

he has his little fun, so why should I not have mine?’ I have no record of the number of 

young girls who are ruined at an extraordinary early age – I cannot say, before they 

understand, but before they can appreciate the hideousness of the dangers. 

How senseless to rail at the victims and ignore the culprits. This is but the repetition, in England, of 

the thing that was done to France. 

Human beings usually prefer, if they have the chance, to lead decent lives, to be loyal, found homes 

and families. But they feel that ‘They’ will not allow them to keep their ideals, that life slips away, that 

they must clutch at any illusory happiness or any fleeting amusement, while they may. Nothing can be 

more destructive of faith (and if it continues, the churches may be quite empty in another twenty 

years) than for priests continually to reproach the people with sexual immorality and to ignore the 

immorality of the things which are done to them. 

The regeneration of a large part of our younger womanhood, which during this spiritual blackout tends 

to lapse into waif-and-strayhood, is among the first objectives of a Battle in England. It cannot be 

achieved by sermons about sexual morality, while the roots of despair are driven deeper.[29] 

In this country the British soldier mixes with soldiers from oversea who receive several times as much 

as himself. Envy is a thing which the British hardly know; nevertheless, injustice rankles, and the 

thought of it lingers. It was made more unjust in 1942, when a White Paper was published by the 

Government, which sought to show that the British soldier was much better off than he actually is. Of 

it, Major Milner of Brighton said in the Commons:  

It is a tissue of lies from beginning to end, an utterly and completely fraudulent 

document … in the sense of what it conceals or admits. If this document had been 

produced by a commercial gentleman in the City of London he would have got seven 

years at the Old Bailey … I hope the usual cloak of anonymity which surrounds 

Treasury officials will not be allowed to cover up the rascal who is responsible for it. 

Let him be dragged out into the daylight and strung up to the nearest lamp-post, where 

he can enjoy the scorn and derision of the soldiers he has so misrepresented. 

The cloak of anonymity was left round this man. His action seems to spring either from dislike or 

contempt of the people of this country. Those members of Parliament who express alarm about the 

current feeling of cynicism and bitterness did nothing to expose him. Yet this spirit is the product of 

such repeated blows to patriotic self-esteem. 

By similar means was despondency planted deep in the French mind. Do our leaders wish to repeat the 

process here? Another unpleasant resemblance exists. In the last war we claimed the right to try by 

British courts martial British soldiers charged with offences against French subjects or property. I 

cannot conjecture why the French Government agreed, but think they did wrong. Many cases were 

tried, from petty things to rape and murder, and justice was roughly done. (But I think the sentences 

were remitted when the war ended.) 

This was another blow to the self-pride of the French. In this war, a similar request was made by the 

American Government and accepted by our Government. This island is not partly occupied, as was 

France; law and order prevail. The agreement, made between the two Governments, was presented to 

Parliament in August 1942 with the demand for immediate approval. One member said he ‘never 

remembered the Government coming to the Commons with an actually concluded agreement’, in the 

next breath he said any criticism would be ‘impertinent’. One Law Lord, Lord Atkin, expressed some 

misgiving; (he alone has protested against the capricious use of the power of arrest under Regulation 


This was unique. Our ancient law is, that the King’s courts alone may try crimes alleged or committed 

in this country by no matter whom. Why do our rulers so easily surrender the good things in our 

heritage and so tenaciously cling to the bad ones? The right to sit in judgment on the citizens of 

another country, in that country, is usually exacted only by a conqueror. (As practised by us in Egypt 

and China, indeed, the arrangement is called ‘Capitulation’. We have during this very war renounced 

such rights in China!) 

Who can guess why the demand was made or granted, in this now secure island? Our judges and 

courts of law are good. We were given no explanation. Charges of the gravest importance to British 

citizens (including murder and rape) have been tried by American courts martial; they have been most 

casually reported in our Press, when they have been reported at all. Responsibility for law and order, 

and even behaviour, as far as the American troops are concerned, has been transferred to the American 

military authorities. 

Those of our public spokesmen who express such loud concern about the dejection of the native spirit 

offered no resistance, make no comment. Yet such things gall people; they feel they are not staunchly 

represented. Issues of deep principle should not be lightly decided. 

Many other things have been done which add up to make the British citizen-soldier feel inferior. The 

spirit which inspires these things seems to me to be malevolent, unless it is the product of the dusty 

offices and corridors, where no sound human feeling can thrive, in which the unknown men work who 

do them. One of them was the announcement that officers of the last war, who were promised the 

retention of their rank, would be called up as privates in this; it is unique in the world. Another was the 

ban on visits to London. A grave one was wing-stripping in the Royal Air Force. This seems 

tantamount to degradation (in the old drumming-out ceremony, epaulettes and buttons were torn off). I 

know, from flying experience, that some men who fly have to be rested. In the last war, the wings 

were never taken from them; in this, they are, when they are ‘grounded’. Many officers serve in the Air 

Ministry and other R.A.F. headquarters who never even gained wings. 

In the same spirit, of spiteful refusal to yield any tribute to past service or present self-esteem, was the 

Air Minister’s rule that serving soldiers, sailors and civil defenders who flew in the fast war may not 

wear their wings. Because the last war was the first air war, these badges are treasured beyond gold or 

jewels by many who won them and now serve again. No reason, other than a malicious one, suggests 

itself for this ban, which was devised, like the others, by anonymous men. As for Parliament and the 

Parties, their feeling about men who serve was indicated by the Vice-Chairman of the Tory Party 

when he said that his Party does not much care about adopting candidates from the Forces. 

Things which rob the citizen of the feeling that citizenship and service entitle him to any right or 

respect,[30] depress the national spirit and breed that bitter cynicism which led, twenty years after 1918, 

to the collapse of France. 

Consider another such action. After the loss of rubber-bearing lands in the East, a Member of 

Parliament proposed that tyres should be taken from laid-up motor cars ‘to help the war effort’. The 

argument is admissible that the loss of our rubber supplies makes such seizure necessary, although it 

strikes at the most deserving class of the population: the fighting men, who are away, and the elder 

citizens at home who, though they may serve, are denied by some petty official the use of their cars, 

although the newspapers prove how many unworthy people are still allowed to use them. 

An order empowering the seizure of tyres was later announced. It contained something else: The 

power to seize all laid-up motor cars

No single member or newspaper protested or asked the reason! Our sources of motor-car supply were 

not lost! The industry works night and day, exclusively for the Services. Why were Mr. Smith’s two-

seater and Mr. Brown’s limousine to be seized? These are about the last things they retain of their pre- 

war possessions. In them they hoped to take that longed-for holiday ‘after the war’ when they returned, 

or were allowed to buy petrol again. Those millions of idle cars, lovingly stored in their little garages, 

represented many Englishmen’s dreams for the future. 

None even asked why this was done. The cars have not yet been taken. If they are, a new privileged 

class will be created in the island to which the Boys return. The class of those allowed to ride in motor 

cars! For many people have kept and run their cars. These are either petty officials, or those who 

obtained from a petty official the certificate that their work is ‘of national importance’; the description 

covers more activities than charity ever covered sins. 

When the war ends, these people will still own and run their motor cars. The man who went overseas, 

or the man at home whose labour was simply to support his family, rear his children, keep his business 

going, and do duty at night as a Home Guard, Observer, or Air Raid Warden (the man whose work 

was not of national importance) will be left without one, if those cars are taken. 

Any who are good at figures may compute the wealth that will accrue to the motor-car industry, if 

these cars are taken, and they might care to investigate the business associations of Members of 

Parliament, and of officials in the competent Ministry, who devised this regulation. An entirely new 

market would be created for this industry, once rid of all the old cars which otherwise would be made 

to do for another five years. Freed from that competition the price of new cars need know no limit 

after the war, and the number of potential buyers would be similarly increased. 

The Conservative Party has held power for twelve years on the anti-Socialist appeal alone. Here is a 

measure, enacted though not yet enforced, by an overwhelmingly Conservative government which 

would give swollen officialdom the status it enjoys in Soviet Russia; where money means nothing, but 

official employment carries with it the things that money can buy elsewhere.[31] 

If the cars are taken, this will be indistinguishable in its results from Communist and National Socialist 

practice. (How our newspapers jeered at the millions of Germans who, before the war, were induced to 

subscribe to the ‘People’s Car’, only to find that the war intervened, the cars were not delivered, and 

their money went into the war machine.) 

Such things breed ‘cynicism and bitterness’. I have before me a page of the Daily Mail, of July 8th, 

1942. On one side is a big headline: ‘1,300 ex-officers seek in vain for job’. The report beneath says 

that in April 1942 1760 officers, rejoined for this war and then discharged on account of age, were 

seeking work. The writer, Mr. Geoffrey Simpson, estimated that the number, when he wrote, was 

nearer 3000. He quoted the Labour Ministry as saying ‘The problem is a small one; after all, it 

involves at the moment only 1300 men … It is difficult to find suitable employment for ex-officers … 

Army officers “axed” and thrown on to the labour market can expect no special facilities in their 

search for civil employment’. (On August 7th, 1942, the Director of Public Relations at the Ministry of 

Labour, a Mr. A.S. Frere, stated in The Times that the best service which many of these discharged 

officers could give would be ‘to accept training for manual work in munitions factories’!) 

On the same page is another big headline, ‘New check on aliens’. The report which follows quotes Mr. 

Justice Croom-Johnson, in the High Court, as urging the police to watch the activities of  

people of nationalities that have sought succour and assistance here at a time when we are fighting for 

our lives in the greatest war in history. Of the 60,000 German and Austrian refugees, adds the report, 

only about 500 are out of work. Many have found lucrative jobs – £1200 a year as chemists, £700 a 

year as factory managers, £12 a week in skilled war work … apart from the highly paid and skilled 

workers, there are waitresses among them earning £6 a week (in salary and tips) while the girls whose 

places they took are earning only half that amount in war factories…. London has a special Labour 

Exchange for Germans and Austrians. Once the Ministry of Labour has vetted their credentials, a wide 

choice of jobs is open to them. Yesterday, there were jobs advertised in this Exchange for a second 

chef, a factory manager, floor waiters, dental mechanics, laboratory assistants. 

‘No special facilities’, then, for our own ex-officers. ‘A special Labour Exchange for Germans and 

Austrians’! ‘It is difficult to find suitable employment for ex-officers’; a wide choice of jobs is open to 

Germans and Austrians’. 

This attitude is anti-British and anti-patriotic. 

I foresaw this thing in the second of these five books. Now it goes even further than I feared. These 

aliens came here under specific pledges, given in Parliament, (1) that they would not stay, (2) they 

would not become a burden on the island tax payer, (3) they would not be allowed to compete unfairly 

with native labour. They are now (1) allowed to stay indefinitely, (2) are maintained by the British 

taxpayer if unemployed, (3) may take employment vacated by a British man or woman called away, 

(4) are exempted from compulsory military service, (5) were exempted from all civil defence duties 

until recently, when some talk was heard about using them for fire watching, (6) are under no 

obligation to yield their employment to returning British citizens. 

This is the worst thing I have seen done to any country. Tories and Socialists, from Mr. Baldwin and 

Sir Samuel Hoare to Mr. Bevin and Mr. Morrison, have joined to do it. 

Since I last wrote, this great wrong has been made even worse. Of recent months, British citizens of 

both sexes have been cast without mercy into prison if they refused to take employment, less 

congenial or worse paid than their own, or far away, to which they were ‘directed’. Working men who 

have found jobs in factories may be forced back to coal mines at lower wages, or imprisoned; British 

working girls may be forced to take inferior posts far away from home, or be imprisoned. The 

newspapers continually report such cases. Many posts thus made vacant by the threat of imprisonment 

have been filled by aliens who are actually of enemy nationality! On March 19th, 1943, Mr. Bevin, the 

working-class representative who is Labour Minister, announced that British workers thus evicted 

from their jobs have no legal right to regain them after the war! 

In a long experience of many countries, I have met nothing to compare with this. Not one Member of 

Parliament has protested against it. 

Similar things destroyed the spirit of France. The Frenchmen who came back from the last war were 

made despondent by the conditions they found: the flaunting wealth of the profiteers, the rottenness of 

political life, the influx of aliens. Where were the fruits of victory for them? They could believe 

nothing they were told. Was not the Maginot Line, later, the biggest hoax in History? 

France was held in a vice of political corruption and anonymity. No envoy from another planet would 

have recognized the signs of victory in this dejected land and its cosmopolitan capital, where a 

Frenchman passionately kissed the hand of a strange lady in a café exclaiming, ‘Pardon, Madame, but I 

have been so moved to hear you speak French’. 

The queen of the crazy carnival was Miss Josephine Baker, a handsome negress of many physical 

attractions; if any of these were unknown to all France, they were few and small. Miss Baker was 

safely conveyed to Morocco, after the disaster, and a picture in miniature of the France which our 

politicians seemingly wished to resurrect may be gained from this report published in December 1942:  

La Baker is in Marrakesh and has been seen driving in an elegant carriage drawn by 

two bay horses, and with servants in attendance, through the picturesque market place, 

with its snake-charmers, mountain warriors and traders.[32] 

Once during those years of creeping despair, while the new war was being cooked, the soul of France 

revolted. The English spirit made its effort through the Peace Ballot of 1935; the French rioted in 

1934, aimlessly, not knowing what they wanted or how to get it, but moved by the violent impulse to 

end their torment, somehow. 

Stavisky was not a Frenchman. His roots lay in Eastern Europe. In the France of 1919-39 he was 

important. He was head of the pawnshop at Bayonne. Do not picture a furtive booth in a mean street. 

French pawnshops are Government establishments. Their resources are limitless, for the credit of the 

Bank of France and the State supports them. 

Stavisky, a high municipal official, therefore, made a large fortune by raising loans on the valuables 

pawned with him. (If any wished to redeem a fur coat or diamond ring, Stavisky would recover it from 

his banking friends.) With the money thus gained, he promoted companies and soon his finger was in 

every French financial pie. 

Here, again, was Anon, the man who wielded hidden power. In 1933 a newspaper exposed him. As he 

brought no libel action, it began a great campaign. 

Thus, quite suddenly, the public saw the thing it suspected and detested, but never before could lay 

hand on. Anon’s activities were revealed. This was Corruption; the outraged country seethed. Fresh 

accusations appeared each day, and the Prime Minister, Chautemps, was forced to act. He ordered (he 

said) Stavisky’s arrest. Stavisky ‘committed suicide’; he could have implicated too many others. 

During the days that followed, the rottenness of French parliamentary and political life was laid bare. 

The Mayor of Bayonne was arrested. The Minister of Commerce, Dalimier, resigned. Stavisky’s 

cheque book was produced and convicted the great Tardieu, and the head of the State theatre, the 

Comédie Française, where Stavisky’s leading lady played leading lady. The Minister of Agriculture 

was involved. Several Members of Parliament shot themselves. Judges and bankers disappeared. The 

Prime Minister’s niece committed suicide. 

Then came the little more which was too much. The public exposure showed that a political party was 

in Stavisky’s pay: the Radical Socialists (who were not Socialists, these names mean nothing in French 

politics). Their leader was Daladier. When Chautemps ignominiously resigned, Daladier was 

appointed Prime Minister! 

The nation’s self-control snapped. The people were impoverished by taxation; the way their rulers 

lived was now disclosed to them. Shopkeepers, clerks, officers, war veterans, workers, Fascists, 

Communists, surged into the streets. M. Jules Romains, the French writer, sent a message from the 

Place de la Concorde to Daladier, saying: ‘Whatever happens, hold on. This riot is absolutely 

unimportant. A little energy, and you can save freedom in the Republic.’ 

Freedom! Whose? O much-dishonoured word! 

Twenty-two Frenchmen were killed by police bullets. Daladier resigned. An iron censorship was 

ordered. Never again might a Stavisky be exposed. 

France never rose again, from that day, but sank into deeper despondency until the day of capitulation. 

By such means and such men was France broken. For your delusion, gentle reader, they talk of The 

Men of Vichy! They would restore that France! 

This was the story of the nation which was bled White, for victory in the first World War. We should 

never forget the example. 

Our public life is not yet so corrupt as was that of France. But it has deteriorated much in the last 

twenty years, and the dangerous period impends – the years after this war. Already the sale of honours 

is a known thing, proved and openly debated in Parliament. The payment of retaining fees to Members 

by industrial concerns is a thing generally known in Parliament which should be outlawed. We have 

known a junior Minister to be dismissed for accepting money from an alien who sought his own 

financial advantage, yet this alien was never charged; what meaning, then, has a Corrupt Practices 

Act? We know, from statements made in Parliament by Tory Members, that Tory Members pay 

thousands of pounds for a seat. For what? 

If ‘They’ exist, who work to destroy nations and make wars – and the evidence becomes too strong to 

ignore – their mightiest weapon is political corruption, and its handmaiden is anonymity. I mean, the 

anonymity of men who wield power in high Government offices and whose names are refused in 

Parliament, no matter what crimes they commit against the national interest, the refusal of inquiry into 

culpable misdeeds, the sinister withholding of information about public affairs ‘in the public interest’, 

the secrecy of newspaper ownership, and the whole machine of clandestine corruption. 

The edifice of rottenness which Stavisky built in France could only be erected behind this curtain of 

anonymity. When one newspaper found courage to tear it aside, the structure collapsed; does this not 

recall Mr. Lloyd George’s statement about ‘the motives’ which statesmen ‘dare not avow’, which, if 

they were laid bare, would ‘die of exposure to the withering contempt of humanity’? 

But immediately after the riots, a censorship was imposed. Censorship is the iron safety-curtain of 

Anon. From then on, France might be led, without further mishap, to disaster. No prying newspaper 

might again hinder the plot. Why, without that censorship some newspaper might have told the French 

that the Maginot Line was a hoax! 

‘Censorship’ is a weapon used by those who hold power against those they claim to represent, not in 

the interest of these. That is important to remember. Behind this screen, evil things may be done. The 

only censorship which would serve our interests – the safety of this island and domestic freedom – is 

the one we lack, ‘censorship in the interests of truth’. A stealthy censorship against the truth was used 

to make this war inevitable. The Battle in England should begin by destroying anonymity in our 

affairs. Indeed, if the pernicious order, of power wielded in anonymity and irresponsibility, is not 

changed, our revival will be much hampered, and we may be led along the path which unhappy France 

was made to follow. 

What a Calvary that has been! How many people in this sea-enclosed island realize that France has 

suffered more, in this war again, than any other? The entire country has been occupied, this time. Its 

good food and wines have been plundered. We sank a third of the French fleet; they sank another 

third, rather than aid the Germans. I hope our Government will one day publish the weight of bombs 

dropped by us on France and Germany; Brest and Lorient must be among the most heavily bombed 

towns in this war.[33] 

But, worse than all that, a great part of young French manhood lies in foreign, captivity. The French 

population, in 1939, was 42,000,000. Say the half were males, and a third of these, 7,000,000, males 

between 16 and 35. About 1,400,000 have for three years been prisoners in Germany! What a blow to 

the virility of a nation, what a burden on the future! 

People in this country hear nothing of these 1,400,000 Frenchmen. They hear almost as little about the 

hundreds of thousands of British prisoners of war. Since General Giraud procured us the entry to 

French North Africa, and began to rearm the remaining French armies, so that they might resume the 

struggle at our side, our newspapers have only reviled him, and clamoured for the revival of ‘French 

Democracy’ (that is, Stavisky’s France!) in Africa. 

The best weapon with which people may equip themselves, for the coming journey through Civvy 

Street, is understanding of what happened in France. Another book which will help them is One of our 

Pilots is Safe, by Flight-Lieut. William Simpson, D.F.C. (Hamish Hamilton, 1942). The author was 

shot down, in an obsolete bomber, on the day the Germans attacked. He crashed in flames, was 

rescued, suffered long agony, and is now disfigured and crippled. His terrible story of French misery, 

starvation and enslavement becomes a glorious one, because a ray of hope for the future of the French 

nation shines out of it, in the resolve of the common people to rid their country, first of the hated 

invaders, and then to see that France is never again betrayed by dishonest politicians and inefficient 

generals. The author says that they now bitterly regret their indifference to the way the country was 

misgoverned by successive regimes, admit that they took life too pleasantly and irresponsibly, and are 

deeply conscious of the shame attaching to their inglorious military defeat. 

The example of France shows us, who will soon return to Civvy Street, how a nation, bled dry by war, 

callously maltreated even during that war by its own rulers, and left listless by victory may fall an easy 

prey to unscrupulous men and sink into despair. A dark sign of the present, and one ominous for our 

own future, is that our rulers seemingly exert themselves to restore, in France, the very order which 

caused those disasters (and we have been refused inquiry into our own similar ones). We need to 

remember, in Civvy Street to-morrow, what happened to France yesterday, and to be alert. 

… I said good night to Jean, that night in December 1921, and to André Jones, and went to bed. 

Presently I returned to England, and saw them no more. 

Ten years later, I was in Paris again. Bitterness and cynicism had grown apace, but the foreign tourist 

saw them not. He saw only the man with the dirty postcards, the brothels, the all-night bars, the 

clashing dance bands in their glittering alcoves, the bawdy picture-shows, the prostitutes – and he 

called all this ‘Gaiety’! This scum on the surface, and his own superficiality, lay between him and the 

impoverished, bewildered, fearful, hard-working people of Paris. He saw, not Paris, but a nude revue; 

not France, but a dirty postcard. 

But I revisited other haunts and old acquaintances, and was shaken by the embittered disbelief I met. 

At a cabaret, one renowned for its acid satire, I found that Jean’s venom, against Messieurs les Anglais

was as soothing balm, compared with the things which now were said. (By that time, ten years of 

British nagging about ‘the French hatred of the Germans’ lay behind us, and also the premature 

withdrawal, compelled by us, from the Rhineland, which, as I wrote in the first of these books, 

‘Advanced the date of the next war by five years’.) The things I heard that night, about my own 

country, made me angry but anxious. 

I next saw Paris a few weeks before the calamity. I blame myself still because, with all my experience 

of the eve of disaster in other countries, I did not, or would not recognize it in France. But I believe all 

others allowed their hearts similarly to mislead them. The underlying loveliness of Paris, and the 

feeling this bred in them, were too strong. They would not believe in the impending doom. 

Yet it was unmistakable. It was terrible. On the surface all was the same; like skaters on thin ice, 

moved the elderly politicians and bankers, with their young, befurred women, the man-with-the- 

postcards, the jazz-drummers in their ‘smokings’, and the brothel touts. 

But underneath was an awful unease, fear and confusion. If you ignored it by day, you could not at 

night. For the French Government imposed no blackout, but a spectral, blue-grey order of dimmed 

lighting. It was the fitting illumination for the final act to which they brought France. The streets 

emptied early, and in this ghastly twilight Paris looked corpse-like. I shudder now, when I think of it. 

In those deserted streets, marched the ghosts of millions of men. Overhead, in the darkness, the 

vultures waited. 

I returned to England. On the night when France collapsed I was in a London theatre. The orchestra 

played the Marseillaise. I saw a British naval officer’s head, as he stood at attention, sink on his chest. 

When it was over, young actresses tripped down from the stage and danced the polka with the 


A few weeks passed, and on the radio I began to hear the voices of the deluders. ‘The last time I saw 

Paris’, they drooled, ‘her heart was young and gay …’ ‘Paris will be gay again …’, they moaned. 

Gay! I have shown you how gay was Paris, in those years. Do we fight to force the French to resume 

that way of life? 

The example is there. We may learn from it. Every man should carry the picture with him, in Civvy 

Street to come. 

Don’t let ‘Them’ do it to us, when you come back. This is worth a Battle in England. This is ‘worth 

fighting for’.  


















Chapter Seven 


Westbourne Grove in London. If any aspire to visit a grove, let them go to this one, and then look up 

the word in the dictionary. 

Peace was already four years old. I could hardly believe it; the four exciting war years stood out, in my 

memory, like coloured pictures among photographs, but these four years of struggle, disillusionment 

and humdrum merged, in retrospect, into a patternless, grey blur. 

I slept hard, after Victory came and sharply reminded me that a man needs a roof. I slept hard during 

the war, too, but that was different; dignity was in the firestep of a trench, dugouts, bivouacs, tents, the 

open ground, French farmhouses and old châteaux. These dingy back rooms, with their grasping 

roomwomen (why ‘landlady’, for bed and breakfast’s sake?) were squalor, dependence and misery. 

Shall I ever forget those mean lodgings in Salisbury and Tunbridge Wells and Westbourne Grove! 

One early morning, mounting a pitch-dark stairway to my attic, I passed a madman standing on the 

landing; I did not know until the next day that he was there, yet my hair rose on my scalp in the 

blackness as I passed him. But that is another story…. 

Now, in 1922, I thought of marrying. The Little House remained a dream. Four walls and a roof for 

the day were difficult enough to find. Those who made the great war fortunes bought up the manors, 

mansions, villas and houses. What remained was being shared out among the returning men, and a 

new group of fortunes was thus being made. For the uttermost farthing was wrung from the generation 

which fought, and now sought its future. 

‘Wise statesmen’, of course, passed laws to prevent the need of the home-seeking millions from being 

exploited. These were used, as the laws against black market operations have been used in this war, as 

perches, by the birds of prey. The ‘rent control’ laws were riddled with loopholes. Any usurer who 

owned a tumbledown house could fill his moneybags by charging either ‘key money’ to the distraught 

aspirant, or, if a lump sum could not be extorted, by asking a crushing rent. 

Furnished dwellings were free from even the pretence of control. The home-seekers, most of them 

men back from the war, owned neither the furniture nor the money to buy any. Cheap furnished 

quarters would have been a godsend to them, but the sky was the limit for the rents of such. Thus they 

were forced to find empty rooms and yield themselves into the clutches of hire-purchase. 

Demons might have devised the implacable process by means of which they passed from one financial 

servitude to another, until the new war was ready. For the first ten years, their backs were bowed 

beneath the burden of rent. Then building began to overtake demand and rents cheapened. The houses 

that jerry built, and scattered over England, are the horrifying monuments to that age of grab-and-get- 

rich, each-for-himself-and-the-devil-take-the-hindmost. Good Old Neville, and roll on, the new war. 

Enough of them are already become slums. But people lived in them who struggled to build a future 

for themselves and their children. If we must pay these heavy rents, they thought, let us at least 

become owners of our little houses. So, while the ‘estates’ quickly bred the signs of slumdom, great 

palaces arose in the cities: the palaces of the ‘building societies’. 

In the little houses, the ageing men of the last war doggedly plodded towards Householdership. How 

many actually owned their homes when these were bombed, or their sons were sent to Singapore, or 

Mr. Dodger of the Labour Exchange, with his paper cuffs and paper forms and self-importance, 

ordered their daughter to go to a factory at John O’ Groats? From the last war to the next war their 

noses were kept to the grindstone by the weight of rent and hire-purchase. Small wonder, that they saw 

nothing ahead of them. 

In 1922, when I thought of marrying and the peace was four years old, I found some rooms in a house 

in a dreary square north of Hyde Park. It was built in the last century for some well-to-do City man, or 

as the town residence of some rural squire. It began with the area and dark basement for the servants, 

rose to dining-room and other rooms on the ground floor, to drawing-room and other rooms on the 

first, best bedrooms on the second, nursery and children’s bedrooms on the third, and maids’ rooms on 

top. The interest on the purchase price paid by its owner may have been £100 or £150: I can only 

conjecture. By the insertion of flimsy partitions it was now divided into ‘maisonettes’. This was one of 

the many loopholes in the ‘Rent Control’ law. The house must have brought in £800 or £1000 a year to 

the elderly bachelor who owned it, its thousands of neighbours were earning like incomes. 

I obtained two third-floor rooms, divided by partitions to make four. The rent was £2 15s. 0d. I earned 

£5. Until I earned more I kept afloat by double labour; one post occupied me from 9 until 5.30, by day, 

and the other from 7 until 2 at night. 

Thus were The Boys, when they came home, made to carry a back-breaking burden. When it began to 

lighten, and they began to feel themselves free men, the new war broke…. 

To-day, this happens again, like other evil things. Past experience might have been rubbed out with a 

sponge. Yet human credulity cannot be asked to believe that those lessons have been forgotten. The 

forces of avarice are so strong that it is meant to happen again. 

Soon, if our leaders mean to win this war and set about to do it, the home-seekers will surge into 

Civvy Street. Last time, they were promised ‘homes for heroes’ in ‘a land fit for heroes’. This time, they 

are promised social security. But firstly, social security is a myth, unless this island be made secure; 

secondly, it is a myth unless they can find decent homes at fair rents. The level of rents in this country 

staggers foreigners who come here. 

The ground is clear for another decade of exploitation. To-day’s Rent Restriction Act contains just 

those loopholes which made rent control ineffective after the last war. 

It applies only to dwellings which were let unfurnished at the outbreak of war. The home-seekers will 

be far more numerous than the number of dwellings, and the surplus will be at the usurer’s mercy. The 

extortionate owner will be free to do what he wishes with a house that was not let in September 1939. 

He may do just what my elderly bachelor did in 1922, and thus draw an income of £1000 from a house 

that costs him £100 or £200. 

The greatest evil of all, the ‘furnished rooms’ racket, is like to flourish as it flourished in 1919 and 

after. A few sticks are enough to make a dwelling ‘furnished’ and any rent may be asked. True, it must 

not be ‘extortionate’, but the onus to prove this is on the tenant, who must incur the cost of prosecution 

and risk an adverse judgment. Lawyers know that tenants, hard pressed to find quarters, will not 

undertake this. The thing is a fraud; those who have no furniture are left at the mercy of exploitation. 

A still graver abuse impends, this time. You may charge what you please for a broken-down caravan, 

tin shanty or wooden hut on a vacant plot of ground. This method of exploiting the need into which 

people have been cast may produce worse conditions in England than after the last war. In December 

1942 the children of a woman who lived in a converted bus near Shrewsbury were burnt to death when 

it caught fire. At the inquest, she said she paid fourteen shillings a week for this habitation. No law 

protected her. Near Blackpool there is a colony of dilapidated wooden shacks and caravans, worth 

about £10 each. Elderly widows and old age pensioners live in them. One widow, with an income of 

28s. 6d. a week, paid 12s. 6d. rent. The only lavatory was 200 yards away, and she was charged 3d. a 

week for its use. The nearest water, from a tap, was 200 yards distant. The furniture was a table, chair 

and bed. She could not afford ‘to rent a room in Blackpool’. Similar conditions existed in the other 

hovels. The rents ranged from 10s. to £1. 

While the country resounds with controversy about ‘social security’, the law ignores such things as 


Some millions of houses were built between the wars (350,000 a year, latterly). Since this war began, 

hadly any have been built. 250,000 have been destroyed or made uninhabitable by bombing. The 

Minister of Health has already ‘authorized Local Authorities to issue licences enabling slum houses to 

be reoccupied’. As a result 100,000 people, ‘at a low estimate’, are living ‘in houses which three years 

ago were condemned, and 200,000 more in houses which would by now have been condemned’. In 

some districts ‘there is now dangerous overcrowding’. He has ‘little hope of anything substantial being 

done to relieve the present serious shortage of houses’. 

And according to the Minister of Labour, ‘there have been 1,800,000 marriages since the war and few 

of these newlyweds have yet got homes’. He added words which sound familiar:  

These working people are slaving to earn a new world. They shall get it. There must be no 

jerrybuilding of houses for the workers when this war ends, no ramshackle thrown-up jobs that make 

slums in twenty years. 

What do such words avail if, during the ten or twenty years when those new houses are being built, the 

home-seekers are to be the defenceless victims of extortion; if their health and their children’s health is 

to be imperilled, and their spirit daunted, by ten years of rent-squeezing for the enrichment of a few? 

(In 1919 only 715 houses were built in England and Wales, and in 1920 less than 30,000.) 

This yawning gap, between the present and the distant future when houses will be abundant again, is 

the gap from which the extortioner will fill his purse. That is the primary evil. The second is that of the 

houses themselves when they come to be built: they should not again be ugly little prisons for their 

occupants, and eyesores for the beholder. 

The president of the National Federation of Building Trade Employers, a Mr. Leslie Wallis, in 

February 1943 said:  

We want to avoid the calamity which befell our industry after the last war, when 

anybody who had a little money bought a ladder or two and started building because 

there was nothing to stop them. Some awful rubbish was built then. 

‘Nothing to stop them’! Those are the important words. In this country, there is to-day something to 

stop the modest, hardworking, and patriotic citizens from every normal and useful action or ambition. 

There is still ‘nothing to stop’ the exploitation of the great mass of people who have served and 

sacrificed, through rent extortion and jerrybuilding. This makes nonsense of the fair promises of our 

rulers. If they do not propose to do anything ‘to stop them’, they only beat the air with windy phrases. 

Either they are incorrigibly inert, or they are resolved not to check the freedom of the free foxes in the 

free henroost. 

These are two matters of the first importance, and are yet easily remedied. They do not need a new 

ministry and 20,000 more officials to be set right. Two simple laws are needed; one to put a fair limit 

on the rents chargeable for furnished quarters; the other, to fix minimum conditions for new houses, 

and their indispensable dovetailing into greater plans framed in the overriding public interest, which 

is, the need for light, sunshine, air, public services and the beauty of the general scene. Any man 

should have the right to buy land and build a house on it. He should not have the right to build one 

which is ramshackle, insanitary, mean, of obsolete design, or spoils the neighbourhood on either side. 

From laws of this kind we seem far, and men of goodwill who make plans for the improvement and 

beautification of town and countryside after this war, work without a foundation. 

A great opportunity lost in our history was that, to build a better London after the great fire of 1666. 

The plan was made, but was wrecked by people impatient to make quick profit out of their own plot, 

without regard to the general scene or the lot of the Londoners. The result was the chaotic inner 

London we knew. 

A plan to create new beauty from to-day’s ruins was drawn up by the Royal Academy. It is on public 

sale, and presents a picture of a stately and dignified city, a joy to the beholder. It was viciously 

attacked. An anonymous writer in an anonymously-owned newspaper lampooned ‘The Vistamongers’ 

(a few days later, he complained of the lack of ‘strategic vista’ in our military enterprises) and said 

‘This country must not be allowed to get into the hands of cranks …’ A vista is a pleasant thing; I see 

no sense in thus deriding beauty. Similarly the plan was violently criticized because it was ‘A Plan’, 

prepared by ‘Planners’. But in human life, people habitually make plans – to marry, breed children, 

repair their houses, or improve them. We become so mad, that even the word ‘plan’ may he held up to 

our deluded people as something foul. 

Nothing more has been heard of the plan for London. We do not know whether it has been discarded, 

or whether any hope remains that so simple a need as the improvement of London, when London 

comes to be rebuilt, will be met by our voluble leaders. 

The same holds good for the entire country.[34] The picture is one of chaos and delay. Sorely-tried 

Plymouth, where 40,000 houses were destroyed and 150 acres of built-on land razed, has an energetic 

City Council and City Engineer and appointed an expert as Consultant, to help ‘prepare a plan of the 

future Plymouth’. All the good ideas are in it. But:  

Although efforts will be made to discourage piecemeal developments, there is no local power to 

prevent an individual owner of a site using it, if he can obtain the necessary licence for labour and 


A great city, laid waste, one of our most famous, one which rings a bell in every Englishman’s heart. A 

great plan for its rebuilding (and how unworthy had Plymouth become, like London, of its great past!). 

But, ‘no power’! 

This ‘power’ can only be given by Parliament in London. None could be more usefully given than the 

power to prevent another period of rent extortion and jerrybuilding; and to enable the towns and cities 

to plan their rebuilding. In the process of ‘taking powers’ to deprive us of every liberty, nothing is 

forgotten. Why are things neglected, so vital to our future happiness as these? Who profits by 

withholding them? 

The same story comes from all over the country. Birmingham, Southampton, Liverpool, Manchester, 

all talk of ‘rebuilding’, make ‘plans’ – and do not know whether they waste their time or not. 

Jerry Builder, were he able to get labour and material, would be as free to-day as he was before to put 

up a roadside-café-amusement-palace-and-filling-station of corrugated iron painted red next door to a 

Saxon church. 

Above all the ‘furnished rooms’ racket has begun again. If it is not checked, it will reach villainous 

extremes when The Boys come back. In January 1943, a correspondent of The Times was offered ‘the 

choice between a two-roomed furnished flat in Edgware Road at 7 guineas a week, as a special favour, 

and a three-roomed furnished flat in Park Lane at 14 guineas a week; the furniture in each case 

represented the barest minimum, and the rentals asked were probably three times in excess of 1939 

furnished rentals’! 

The first test case showed how the law, which professes to prevent rent extortion, in practice 

encourages it. At the end of 1942, four tenants of a block of flats at Richmond, who were paying rents 

between £78 and £96 a year, received demands for increased rent, accompanied by a declaration that 

the ‘standard rents’ (that is, the rent charged at the outbreak of war, which must not be raised) were 

£210, £240, and £250! The company owning the house (in such cases, the defendants enjoy the 

additional protection of anonymity, since ‘the company’ is sued and their names are not published) 

contended that the onus of proving the ‘standard rent’ (that is, the rent charged on September 2nd, 

1939, or at any subsequent first letting) lay on the tenant. The tenants formally charged the defendants 

with making a false statement about the standard rent. The company refused to produce proof! The 

‘maximum fines’ were imposed on this company. They were of £10 each! 

To place on the tenant the onus of proof, of the rent charged several years ago, when the tenancy may 

have changed several times, obviously makes a farce of the law, which thus, in practice, operates in 

favour of evasion. Only a most stouthearted tenant, and one with money to risk, can venture to appeal 

to law in such conditions. 

To say, in these conditions, as our Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer says: ‘We shall all be much 

poorer after the war’, is deliberate mockery. Any man who owns any kind of house, hut or hovel will 

he very well off, unless the law be changed.[35] As it stands, those who seek a roof and four walls will 

be his helpless victim. And when he has had a picking, the jerrybuilder will claim his. 

You perceive, gentle reader, that usury, extortion and profiteering continue for many years after a war; 

indeed, when they become difficult a new war seems to develop. They go on now. But the birds of 

prey will begin their real feast when The Boys come home and are delivered into their hands – unless 

they realize that they return to a Battle in England, and not to a rest. These were The Things we fought 

for last time; to-day, once more, they are The Things. Here at home, other men hold power than in 

1914-18; but their acts and omissions are the same…. 

Three years, I spent in those abjectly depressing rooms. Then I found an empty house, outside 

London, eight years after the war ended. It meant a long daily journey to my work, and next to rent, 

the heaviest burden on the backs of the men who returned from the last war was that of fares. I could 

not afford the whole of this house. So, still dreaming of the day when I would own A Little House, I 

shared it with another family. 

It was misery. After eighteen months, thanks be to Providence, I went abroad. For the first time in my 

life, I found decent quarters. 

Even then I did not abandon the dream of The Little House. In 1931, having saved a little money, I 

bought The Little House in England, through a proxy. I never did a more unwise thing. When I came 

on leave I went to look at it. It was a typical product of the jerrybuilding decade which followed the 

rent extortion decade. All the meanness of which the human spirit is capable was expressed in its 

niggardly rooms and grates, its tiny triangle of fenced-in wasteland called a garden, its outside 

plumbing, its lack of privacy for anyone living in it, its obsolete kitchen, its narrow windows, and its 

row of neighbours all exactly like itself. It was everything I hated. I sold it forthwith at a substantial 


I have shown you the prospect which Civvy Street offers to men who come back to anything but a 

Battle in England. None of these things has been changed. The rent squeeze and the jerrybuilder await 

them, as they awaited them in 1918. Both these evils could be easily remedied, through the Battle in 

























Chapter Eight 


1929. The coast of Ceylon, washed by the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean. A stone’s throw from 

the shore, a tiny islet of red granite rock, crowned with the plumes of palm-trees, that look like ostrich 

feathers. A page from the Arabian Nights; a mirage materialized; a dream come true; an emerald set in 

pink coral; a gem, just an acre and a half in size, bedded in turquoise. 

A man, a French count, with greying hair and a deep furrow between tormented blue eyes. Children 

from a mainland village bringing him offerings of flowers, which they drop at his feet. One of them 

singing a Sinhalese poem in his honour; honey-coloured limbs, gleaming bronze in the light of 

lanterns, against the drop-curtain of a velvet twilight. Around, gardens: all the flowers of the tropics, 

dahlias and gladioli from Holland, England and Australia, antirrhinums, carnations, petunias, verbena, 

phlox, Michaelmas daisies, golden rod. Tropical birds, twittering and chattering. A rockery, a pergola, 

a loggia, a peacock balcony. Terraces, an Italian Garden, a Lover’s Walk. An eight-sided white house, 

with a domed central hall, ‘The Hall of the Lotus’, lined with panels of inlaid wood dyed dull gold and 

brown, the dome supported by eight squared pillars of Wedgwood blue. 

All that done – the rough stone cut and polished and made into a perfect jewel – in eight years. Paradise 

regained, 1937!  

The war had taken everything from me. It had made table rasé of my life. I had to 

begin a new life or die. My soul was a grand blessé, covered with the wounds of the 

past, which the present refused to heal. Worn by too much suffering, it was dying from 

want of nourishment. The whole of my being, both physical and moral, had lost its 

object in life. Paralysed, inert, it was incapable of effort, because I had lost even the 

desire of effort. I was flickering out in a living death, a life worse than death, because it 

had no longer the confidence of hope. I was suffering from the terrible disease which 

seems to have gripped the whole of humanity since the war: Fear. I heard the call of the 

East, and incapable of any resistance, searching in vain for a last remedy, I answered 

the summons. To the East I came to recover my lost desire of effort … When, I asked 

myself, shall I have the strength to master fear – to dare to face the future? To rebuild, 

on unsuspected foundations, the edifice of my new life, with materials as yet unknown 

to me? I must wait, I must seek, but with the recovery of the desire to live I feel, I 

know, that I shall find them, for I already feel the revival of hope which engenders faith 

in the future. It is to the East that I owe the reawakening of the desire of effort; it is to 

my gardens of Taprobane that I owe the strength which has enabled me to transform the 

desire of effort into the reality of action, thanks to the happiness and peace which they 

have given me….[36] 


Long ago I lived in a château, a gem of French Renaissance architecture, once the 

abode of kings. Its lofty walls were covered with delicate lace-like traceries and 

carvings, the like of which I discovered by chance on some of the ruins of the buried 

city of Polonnaruwa. Its steep slate roofs, mellowed by centuries, were broken here and 

there by gables and windows; its large round towers, built for artistic effect, not for 

war, were reflected in the waters of the wide, lake-like moat in which forty-pound carp, 

so old that moss grew on their backs, gambolled and rose to the crumbs of bread thrown 

to them each day at noon. The château had a park of two hundred and fifty acres, 

avenues of poplar trees and weeping willows, and a river, the Indre, threading its way 

across meadows carpeted with buttercups and meadowsweet. Its ‘period’ furniture and 

pictures were a lesson in French history. How exquisite it all was! … How I loved the 

little manor-house of my childhood … I can hear to-day the Angelus bell … That indeed 

was my home, for there every detail contributed, by its history and associations, to the 

making of a home, even to the grass field with its stone monuments, on which was 

engraved, together with that of Du Guesclin, the name of an ancestor who fought 

victoriously against the English in the battle of Pontvallain. My home was made of my 

love for it and my pride was that I was able to call it my own. It broke my heart to leave 

it, and I felt that I had lost a treasure which could never be replaced … Why bother 

about the past and the future? Thinking of them won’t retrieve our mistakes of the past, 

nor will it help us to control the future…. 


The waves of the Indian Ocean were dying at my feet. The red cliffs encircling the bay, 

crowned with jungle trees, reminded me of Devonshire, and my thoughts wandered 

back to an English September…. 


A stranger wrote and asked to be allowed to visit my gardens and I invited him to lunch 

… I expected to see a man of middle age, but to my surprise a very pretty, perhaps too 

pretty, and very young individual was ushered into the loggia. He – or perhaps I should 

say ‘it’ – was dressed in white: silk trousers, with a dozen pleats round the waist, a silk 

shirt of gossamer thickness, open at the throat, with sleeves cut short above the elbow, 

and white socks and shoes – in short, a vision in white. Wavy hair, brushed off the 

forehead; china-blue eyes, shaded by long, curled lashes; plucked eyebrows, very red 

lips, and perfect features … Very young people, such as this specimen, having lost all 

sense of proportion rush headlong to the van of the movement, and try to preserve the 

illusion that they are enjoying its abuses. It is during this moral and social evolution – 

or, more truly, this revolution – that the relics of what is called civilization decline 

irresistibly towards decadence. The intoxication of drugs becomes nothing but a drug; 

immorality gives way to amorality, and innocence to guilt – taking to courses which are 

often criminal, according to the law, lest it should be derided. Shame being non- 

existent, sins are merely faults … This youngster, a mere boy, suddenly told me the 

whole story of his young life, of its utter failure, through the lack of moral sense and 

backbone, and he seemed to experience an uncanny pleasure in doing so. His family 

had disowned him, he had no home, and by indulging in every caprice, he was trying to 

forget both … He was squandering what was left of a large fortune in going round the 

world, in search of l’introuvable, and he intended to end his travels at Hollywood, 

where – miserable, deluded child – he was bent upon finding a market for his beauty in 

the rôle of a jeune premier, and on becoming a world-famous film star … Taprobane, 

rid of an incubus, breathed more freely when he was gone…. 


I look beyond my kingdom and I see what is called the world. A world revolving in 

circles, like a merry-go-round at a fair. How complicated, how tawdry, how paltry and 

despicably small it seems, compared with my world, so simple and great! … A 

grotesque show, were it not so tragic in its worldwide consequences. Pygmies, playing 

at being giants, playing at danger, as children playing with fire, while the world – like 

the Rome of Nero – is bursting into flames … Idealism is dead. One blushes at 

mentioning the word. We destroy all that we touch, because to build is for us to destroy. 

Fed with poison, we die of inanition, and our world is dying, slain by us. Victory 

becomes a shameful defeat, of which we are not merely the victims but, above all, the 

instigators and organizers. Where is our younger generation? It is not in the breach. I 

should doubt its very existence were it not that the atmosphere of the world reeks with 

the fetid and acrid odour of the fruit that is rotten before it ripens. I shall soon witness 

the breaking of the monsoon, when the artillery of heaven will thunder and its 

floodgates will open; with the infernal tumult of a second deluge it will come, roaring 

like a lion, but bringing in its trail fecundity. The sea, maddened by the storm, the 

waves mountains high, will rush to the assault of the Isle of Dreams. They will break on 

the rocks, but will not shatter them as they foam with rage, and despite their roaring 

will not shake the island. The trees will wail, wrung by the wind, and the roofs groan 

under the deadly embrace of the elements. I, alone on the Isle of Dreams, in the 

submission of impotence, my heart thumping in anguish, swayed between terror and 

hope, can only wait – wait until ‘His will be done’. 

So written in 1937, on that islet. In 1942, you might see the book which contains these passages 

marked down in price, on the London bookstalls. It is one of the most vividly illuminating of our time 

and ordeal, but made small appeal to the generation reared on How Awkward for Miss Blondish

The monsoon broke. By 1940, the old château in France rang with the clumping boots of German 

invaders. By 1941, the Japanese claw hovered over the Isle of Dreams. It has not closed its clutch, yet. 

But no end offers to the age of fear… 

Escape! Here were two who tried to escape, each after his fashion: the middle-aged nobleman, 

descendant of so many French knights and squires, fleeing from the infamy of the time; the vagrant 

boy, spoiled, unanchored, drifting towards suicide or an embittered old age. 

How many others have built an Isle of Dreams! it is the vision of The Little House, into which you 

may creep and hide, so that none may touch you; the safe refuge for which a middle-aged 

Englishwoman thought she longed, who wrote to me:  

I have been hoping, after this war, to leave my jerrybuilt bungalow for a long, low 

white house, but I now begin to see that that is just what we must not do. 

Escape is an illusion. Not even at the North Pole may you find it. A bomb will find the little house, or 

invaders will tramp into it, or the most implacable enemies of all, the men who make these wars, will 

reach a long finger into it and hook out your husband or son or daughter, as little Jack Horner put in 

his thumb and took out a plum. 

You cannot run away from this thing, because it is inside you. It is, fear. The only way to liberate 

yourself is to overcome it, to face ‘Them’, to advance towards them instead of trying to hide from 

them, to tear their shields aside and smite them. 

The moment you do that, you find hope again, and vigour; the spirit is reborn, because you attack the 

thing you fear. This lonely man in the Indian Ocean, who went nearly to the other end of the world, sat 

alone on his islet with fear, the thing he tried to escape. He would have been happier, I think, had he 

stayed in France, and fought there against the things be foresaw, had he fought a Battle in France, a 

battle for the future. When you take up the battle, the feeling of enslavement, oppression, impotence, 

fear is gone. Turn and fly: and it goes with,you, like your own shadow, all your ways and all your 


To-day, in our country, you may meet the fellows of that harassed, man and all the many others who, 

between the wars, vainly sought Escape. We only live, they say to me, to get away from England after 

the war. We see no hope left, of improvement. Why should any such hope offer, I answer them, if you 

are so cowardly or so foolish – and they are taken all aback:  

My husband is in the army and loathing the war. He is so sick of the whole darned 

racket that when it is all over we are packing up and going to a paradise where he will 

be able to rest his weary nerves. We are taking our two little sons, one aged three and 

the other one, to a remote part of Central Africa where we can live in wild seclusion on 

practically nothing….           From a woman in South Africa. 

I want to ask, do you intend doing anything constructive to alter the present state of 

affairs, when the slaughter has ceased? If so, I might help … It was my intention, if I 

survive, to cut myself adrift from my fellow maniacs and spend the rest of my life more 

or less with nature, for I realize that even with my supreme ego I can do nothing to alter 

a world peopled with 99.9 per cent mentally deficients. 


From a naval officer at sea. 


I have still so little hope of this country getting rid of the racketeers that when the war 

is over I intend to take a single-ticket on the first boat to South Africa, where I may be 

given a chance to start again. 


From an army officer who was wrongfully imprisoned 

without charge or trial; who was able after his release, 

by ruining himself, to prove his innocence; who then 

joined the ranks and was quickly chosen for promotion. 

These are but three of very many such despairing cries. Does the dispersal of the English impend? 

Consider, again, the fantastic case of the 38-year old Londoner who, in 1942, stole a sailing-boat at 

Looe, in Cornwall, and set out in it, in the midst of war! His astounding project was, to land in 

German-occupied France, work his way somehow through to Spain and from there to Portugal, and 

then to find a ship for Brazil, ‘with the hope of starting afresh’. He thought thus to find freedom and his 

future, to escape from misery and fear. I wonder how much he did, between the wars, to slay those two 

demons. He was captured a few miles out to sea. 

Strange, how far men will go in search of the wrong way, when the right way lies before them. For 

you may transport your body to Baffinland, but you cannot separate your spirit from it, and all the 

misery and fear lie in the spirit. The things the spirit fears are not physical ones. Only by standing 

where you are, and giving fight, may you free the spirit and feel again that life is good, and the world a 

good place to spend it. 

In the Battle in England we shall need to fight hardest against those who would yield to despair, 

desperation, or simple apathy, and those who would escape. 

A variation of the request for ‘something constructive’, which some make to me, is that for ‘a lead’, 

which others raise. It might be flattering if it were not stupid. Have we not known enough leaders, 

from Adolf Hitler to Neville Chamberlain, enough wonderful men who will make all our tomorrows 

secure without any further trouble to ourselves? Why, I have been trying for five books to say that 

leaders should not be blindly followed and idolized, but watched, checked, spurred, and called to 

account. The most famous lead in history (and again I thank those beasts) was the one given by the 

foremost swine at Gadarea. 

Beware of leaders! I propose to do exactly what I commend those to do who are good enough to pay 

attention to me: to throw myself into the Battle in England as an independent citizen, who wishes to 

lead none but hopes he may convince some that his way is right. I believe in debate and reason, not in 

sheepish obedience to any straw man whom others behind the scenes may put up, for the delusion of 

the mob. 

‘A lead’, ‘discipline’, ‘loyalty to The Leader’! Those are the old tricks. Any fool, or any slave, can play 

follow-my-leader; it saves the pain of thought and leads always to the same ends – domestic 

enslavement and foreign war. We need something new. The only new thing that offers, that has not 

been tried, is the raising of a generation which will think for itself, educate itself in public affairs and 

learn how to conduct them; which will deliberately devote itself, as individual men and women, to the 

study of our affairs, detect the means by which they are thwarted and ruined, and find the ways by 

which this can be changed. 

Do any wish me to design a new shirt, or think I would? 

Our problem is not so difficult. Despotic and autocratic rule, through Kings, Regents, Soviets, Nazi 

Dictators or Fascist Grand Councils, I have found repugnant everywhere I have seen it. Parliamentary 

rule is best, but its weakness is that it can so quickly be made rotten, by the corruption of delegates 

and the Press. These, however, are detectable and remediable things, which the evils of a dictatorship 

are not. To remedy them you need two things: to awaken and enlighten people to the means by which 

rottenness is produced (they must be shown where the spanner has been thrown into the machinery); 

and to stimulate in them the energy to mend these abuses. 

Of all the Parliaments I have seen, ours is the best, because the number of parties in it is small, and it 

has always contained a few independent men through whom the truth might out, who joined to make 

formidable outcry when our vital interests were assailed. 

But the rottenness of our Parliament has now gone too far. The future was put in pawn on the day 

when an inquiry was refused into the events leading to this war and Dunkirk. Things lie behind that 

which cannot be kept hidden if our future is to be safe, and some of them are already known. This is 

not a matter of recrimination, but of surrendering the future. A public investigation and a 

pronouncement of public ignominy are the least of the guarantees for our future, which should be 

claimed. If that is not claimed, it means that there is nothing which cannot secretly be done to our 

country, with immunity and impunity. 

Our Parliament is like a clear pond on which the scum has gathered. It is like that reach of the fair 

River Test, of which I spoke before, where reeds and weeds and silt and all other foulnesses have not 

only been allowed to gather, but encouraged, so that a few £250-a-rod men might fish there. 

New parties will not cure this. What benefit do a new Party and a new ‘Programme’ offer, if the new 

men, like the old ones, are privily sworn to obey Party orders, after the election, whatever happens, 

and no matter how these may conflict with pledges publicly made or with the national interest? 

This mortal wound in our life will only be stanched and healed by sending to Westminster a great 

number of Independent Members, publicly sworn to conditions which will ensure one paramount 

thing: that they shall remain independent, and accept no secret bondage. A straight line leads from the 

obedience to which all Members at present pledge themselves, to the refusal of inquiry into the origins 

of this war and our disaster at Dunkirk; and this straight line, prolonged after the war, would lead to 

our downfall. 

These are simple things to understand, not difficult. Any man or woman in this island can learn of 

them, verify them, and challenge a Party candidate with them. Thousands are in a position to stand as 

an independent candidate at an election, or join with others to advance one. By this means, they may 

escape into a secure future. By turning their backs on these things, and seeking Escape, they make 

themselves the captives of despondency and fear. 

… 1930, in Berlin. A dentist, called Ritter, took a busman’s holiday; he summoned another dentist, to 

pull all his own teeth. He sought Escape, and this was his first preparation. 

The ordeal of those years, the hopelessness of the future, overcame him. He did not stand and fight, 

study the troubles of his country, learn by whom they were caused, and set about to destroy these. He 

fought no Battle in Germany. He left the field to the enemy. He fled. 

He took a woman friend with him, and went to an uninhabited island in the Galapagos Group, in the 

Equatorial Pacific. Berlin, Germany, the world and the future terrified him: he would build on that 

island old Omar’s paradise – a little bread, the wilderness, And Thou! 

He thought of everything. Toothache, he need no longer fear. He took the right tools, clothing, 

equipment, provisions; the minimum of everything, but still enough. He built himself a log cabin, 

tilled and fenced some ground, planted things which grew. 

He was safe, with his companion! 

He was not. Perhaps he might, in that spot, have survived the monsoon, the hurricane, or even the 

world tempest, who knows? But he died. How, I do not know, for only fragments of the story came to 

me. That was a pity, because it was an absorbing story: it should be fully written one day, as a warning 

to Escapers.[37] I regret that I have not the full truth of it, and am not even sure whether he died a 

natural death before those others came to his island. 

For some came, men and women, or a man and a woman, or women and a man – I am not certain. 

Anyway, a triangle was formed, or it may have been a quadrangle, or some more complicated 

geometrical figure. Even in that remote and lonely spot, was no peace. Shots were fired, I think, or 

daggers flashed, or was poison used? Death came again, more than once. 

It was an extraordinary story, but my files and notes and cuttings were twice lost, when I hopped about 

Europe, trying to keep one hop ahead of Hitler, and I cannot tell the whole of it. 

But that was the broad outline, and I know the moral, at least. Escape proved an illusion for the 

German dentist, as for the French count. 

Study it, and you may see the way to the Battle in England. No escape offers – not to a desert island, or 

a distant country, or a little house, or to the radio or the pictures. The only escape lies in a good fight 

here in England, with the weapons of the spirit, and for the future.  










Chapter Nine 


Man learns little from victory, 

    but much from defeat – Japanese proverb 

June 1931. I sat in a pleasant garden, beneath trees, at a table. The white road ran past, and opposite an 

abundant cornfield climbed a gentle slope. In the distance was pithead machinery and a slag heap. I 

was on the outskirts of Essen. I looked, and wondered why we, in England, do not marry industry and 

agriculture, town and country, like this, instead of setting the one to rape the other. How unlike the 

Black Country, was this picture, and yet the same things were wrested from the earth here, and a great 

city, bigger than Sheffield, lay close by. 

Sheffield is in the heart of our wealthy island and I knew what it looked like. A place where a roof of 

smoke rested on tall chimneys, squalor stalked in mean streets, idle men loitered round Labour 

Exchanges; and where these conditions were apathetically accepted as the unchallengeable levy that 

industry, miscalled Prosperity, imposed on a land once green and pleasant. 

In Essen was unemployment, too, but the scene was not like a plate from The Rake’s Progress. Here 

were light, air and sunshine; ugliness was combated as the common enemy of all, rich or poor, busy or 

idle; and underneath was not apathy, but a bitter struggle for the future. 

At my table sat two men and a girl; the Nazi leaders of Essen. I was there to inquire into the strength 

and aims of these Nazis, and at that table I first realized that, if they came to power, they would make 

a new war. They said so. I did not then believe they would gain power. I put faith in Grand Old Men, 

of whom my newspapers told me that Hindenburg was one, in the words of British Prime Ministers, 

and in the things I read. The men who soon will return to Civvy Street, and those others who now 

grow up here, should bear in mind this picture of an Englishman, eleven years after Victory in the last 


I sat with Kurt von Adel, ex-captain, Hans Schultze, ex-serjeant major, and Greta Loring, who was 

Schultze’s friend and the chosen leader of Nazi girls in Essen. I was startled by the venom of these 

men. They were bitter and cynical, yes; but these qualities were positive, not negative. They were 

more desperate than despairing. They were the opposite to Jean, my neighbour in Paris. They did not 

repine, on a bed of disillusionment; they worked and organized, night and day. Their driving power 

was the thought of defeat suffered and revenge to come: the prizefighter’s ambition to come back. 

Jean’s father, and even Jean himself, felt that same impulse in 1914; the defeat of 1871 provided it. 

After 1918, they felt within themselves no vigour, to fight for the victory they won. They let it be 

taken from them. 

Von Adel, lean and ruthless, and Schultze, red-faced and brutal, still lived mentally in the trenches 

before Verdun. They throve on hatred. They hated their own Socialists and Communists first; and after 

them, the English, not because their native dislike of the English was greatest (their supreme 

detestation was kept for Czechs and Poles) but because the English island was the chief hindrance to a 

German European Empire. 

Von Adel spoke frankly of the next war. The last war, he said, was a picnic compared with the 

spectacle Germany would stage next time. Schultze said contemptuously that Germans refused to be 

confined in a peaceful paradise of lowing herds and dairyfed prosperity, a super-Denmark. The girl 

looked at me inscrutably and said little. 

In the ten years that lay behind, von Adel never ceased to fight, after his fashion, for the kind of 

Germany he wanted. He was among those who shot the Separatist leaders in Speyer, and for this 

reason was now a Nazi leader. Schultze was a typical serjeant major, with a passion for desk work. His 

job was to keep a card index of the local Socialists and Communists, with their addresses, occupations, 

associations, and any weaknesses he could learn, against the day when he would dash about in a lorry 

and hurl them into a concentration camp. He was uneducated and secretly venerated von Adel, to 

whom he appealed, as we sat in the sun, saying ‘Herr Hauptmann, it can’t be very long now before, we 

get our Third Reich, can it?’ ‘Very soon’, said von Adel brusquely. 

I smiled inwardly; I did not imagine that within eighteen months this beefy Schultze, whom I thought 

comic, would be able to slake his animal instincts on his own people. Von Adel’s answer made him 

happy and, in slang that grated, he talked of the things he would do to his enemies. He kept in his 

pocket snapshots of himself, taken with a Hohenzollern Prince who wore the Nazi uniform, and 

proudly displayed these at every opportunity. 

‘Tell me, Herr Doktor’, said von Adel to me in his clipped Prussian, ‘Will your country try to keep 

Germany disarmed?’ 

‘No’, I said, truthfully. I was sure this stupid ban (stupid, when once you withdraw your army of 

occupation) would be cancelled, or would collapse. That did not worry me, because we only needed to 

maintain a supreme Navy and a strong Air Force, and this would thwart the ambitions of the von 

Adels and Schultzes, I knew; I could not then imagine British governments which would fail us in so 

vital a matter. 

They were much pleased by my answer. Knowing what I thought I knew, I was inwardly amused at 

their satisfaction. They ordered some good Rhine wine and became jovial. They seemed to see a 

pleasant prospect, in its sunny and sparkling depths…. 

Jean fell into despondency, when he saw Victory filched from him by his own leaders. Von Adel and 

Schultze yielded to desperation, a different thing. The prospect of regaining something you have lost 

seemingly gives more vigour than the holding of what you have. 

Another danger that confronts us, as we re-enter Civvy Street, is that we may again breed a desperate 

generation in Germany, and, this time, in France too. We shall do this if we treat France, not as a 

reviving ally, but as a conquered enemy, and we have made a grave mistake already, by using our 

armed strength, in French territory, to promote the restoration of the corrupt regime which led France 

to disaster. 

We have already seen one example of desperate French youth: Bonnier de la Chapelle, the unhappy 

boy who shot Darlan. He was the French counterpart, in 1943, of Schlageter, the young German of 

1923, the miserable lad who feels that something is intolerably wrong with his country and who sees 

nothing he can do, save shoot someone. 

Bonnier de la Chapelle shot Darlan at the moment that admiral decided he could serve France by 

helping the Anglo-American landing in North Africa. Darlan’s aid was beyond price for us. Young 

Bonnier de la Chapelle, who hoped for ‘a new France’ from the impending expulsion of the Germans 

and Italians, thought that Darlan was to be used, by others, to re-establish the rotten French order of 

1919-39. Our spokesmen in ‘Parliament and the Press have tried hard to justify that belief. He faced 

his death without flinching. 

In Germany after the last war, a generation which could have been won for peace was driven to 

desperation because no outlet for its hope or energy was offered by any save the extreme parties, 

Communist and Nazi, and these were the instruments, respectively, of a foreign power and of the 

warmakers inside Germany. 

No political party followed a patriotic policy and also one of social justice and wider opportunity. The 

Nationalists stood for the old school tie and war; well, thought the young German, if we are going to 

make war, we don’t want to make it for the officer class, the brutal serjeant major and the cannon 

fodder – the National Socialists offer us something better than that. The Socialists stood for 

government by Trades Union, without national ideals; why, the young German asked himself, should 

this one vested interest rule over us all, students, artists, doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, artisans? The 

only great party of the middle, the Centre, was Roman Catholic; this, again, represented a sectional, 

not a national interest, and the Roman Catholics form only a third of the German population. The 

Communists stood for no more war, confiscation, and international brotherhood as practised in 

Moscow; well, thought the young German, if we are to have peace, we don’t want that kind of peace. 

No party offered the young German the possibility of working at once for peace, for the revival of 

Germany, and for a juster social order in Germany. Some offered one, some another, but none offered 

all of these things. As many Germans are born with a taste for war and conquest, the National 

Socialists, exploiting the motive of revenge, were given a great chance. True, they could not have 

succeeded without a Hindenburg to unlock the door to power. Here was Anon, whose instrument old 

Hindenburg was. 

In this country, the party which claims to monopolize patriotic feeling, the Conservative Party, held 

power almost without a break between the wars; it left us nearly defenceless in a crisis, and at the 

same time stubbornly opposed all lowering of the barriers of privilege and all widening of the gates of 

opportunity. Is to-morrow’s British generation to find its spiritual home in this Party? Our dilemma 

remains, that the other one is worse, in its narrow sectionalism. We seem very far from a British, a 

patriotic, party. We too may breed a generation torn between despair and desperation, if the years after 

this war are to be filled with spiritual torment. 

A good picture, of the tempest which raged in the minds of growing Germans, before 1914 and 

between 1918 and 1939, is given in a chapter, ‘The Secret in the Deeps’, in Otto Strasser’s book, 

History in My Time (Jonathan Cape, 1941). Readers may find in it, not only another of the causes of 

this war, but also guidance for our own future. Of the things which seethed below the surface Strasser 

truly says:  

The political parties, the Government departments and the newspaper offices felt and 

knew nothing, and would even in 1932 still know and feel nothing, and the emigrant 

leaders of the German Republic, even in 1937, as they looked back, would still consider 

their results a strange and unaccountable happening. 

This is true of our country to-day, where so wide a gulf is fixed between our politicians and the mind 

of the people. 

To win the peace we need to do three things about Germany. The first is, to let Germany feel the 

destruction which Germany has again wreaked in Europe but as yet hardly knows within the German 

frontiers. We can do this by the mighty air assault so often promised by our leaders. In a recently 

published book, Volcano Island (Geoffrey Bles, 1943), Mr. J.M. Spaight, formerly Principal Assistant 

Secretary at the Air Ministry, says:  

Already there are available bombers capable of smothering all the key plants in 

Germany. Let us get on with the job. To say that it cannot be done is nonsense. It has 

never been attempted on the scale which is possible now. 

If the war ends without this repayment of damage done, we shall again plant the hope of revenge in 

the German heart. 

The second thing is, to exact retribution for crimes committed from the German leaders, and not to let 

them escape again. This vital issue has already been gravely blurred, and the future complicated again, 

by the British Government’s declaration which lent the nature of an exclusively Jewish vengeance to 

any such retribution. This would give any new Hitler fuel with which to stoke the fires of German 

resentment for a century. 

The third thing we need to do to win the peace, is to remain stronger than Germany at sea and in the 

air, after the war, and to cherish our alliance with Russia. 

If, instead of doing those things, we simply set out to restore in Germany (as we seemingly wish to 

restore in France) an order, the memory of which is universally detested, we shall encourage the 

growth of new ambitions of revenge. For what residue will remain, in the mind of the German 

generation now growing, from the years of National Socialism? 

One of the last books to come out of Germany gives the answer. Joseph C. Harsch, in his Pattern of 

Conquest (Heinemann, 1942), says:  

There is of course a good deal of militarism in the younger German generation. But the 

real aspect of Nazism which appeals to them has been the purported break from the 

relics of both social and industrial feudalism. The average young German considers the 

abolition of the colourful students’ corps of the old Universities to have been an 

important advance. The members of those corps had the same advantages in the pre- 

Nazi Germany that wearers of the right school tie enjoyed in pre-war England. It was a 

badge of class which denied opportunity to the non-wearer. Nothing else Nazism has 

done for the younger generation compares, in importance to them, with this removal of 

social obstacles to individual advance. Elimination of Jews from the competitive field 

gave them an immediate, tangible, but short-lived and relatively limited increase in 

opportunity. But the importance of opening up all avenues of advancement to youth 

from the lower classes, far exceeds, in the long run, this limited gain … Nazi care for 

the material well-being of youth is as fine a thing as the dishonest political 

indoctrination of youth is bad. The health and physique of the new generation is an 

imperative challenge to the big democracies, which have too long put short-sighted 

industrial profits ahead of the well-being both of youth and the working class … The 

path has been opened to the advancement of the new generation, and promises, with 

much more sincerity than is realized in the outside world, to produce in the future real 

equality of opportunity founded on ability. This offer of equality of opportunity, is the 

key to the loyalty of the new generation, as the careful regard for the welfare of labour 

is the explanation of labour’s passive acquiescence. These two great segments of the 

German population have been given tangible and real benefits of which they are aware 

… There are elements of challenge within Nazism and the German bid for world power 

which will leave their mark on the world. Many established privileges will be 

liquidated in the heat of the effort to overthrow Hitler which can never be re- 

established. Hitler’s greatest source of strength is the equality of opportunity for youth 

in Germany, which is a new thing for that country. Those who overthrow him must 

recognize the importance of equality to the vitality of any society. 

In that sober and excellent analysis, you may see the secret in the deeps of to-morrow’s Germany. The 

Germany pictured in these words, is the Germany in which false policy, on our part, would breed a 

new generation of desperation. National Socialism, in wooing young Germany, has given it one thing 

which we sorely need in this country. We should be mad to destroy that and set the adult Germans of 

to-morrow thinking ‘Hitler was not so bad after all. At least he gave us wider opportunity; our enemies 

have taken it from us!’ That would be the way to breed von Adels and Schultzes again after this War. 

… I met von Adel and Schultze twice afterwards in Berlin. Once was in 1932, a year before the Nazi 

triumph. Von Adel was accompanied by a youth of eighteen, a tragic representative of the desperate 

generation. He was an unmoneyed but educated lad, who could not afford to go to the University and 

saw no hope of a career in that Germany. He was a scrap of the human flotsam and jetsam that drifted 

about the scummy surface of Berlin. I was to become used to much which once revolted me, and did 

not need Schultze’s information, imparted with a wink after the other two left us, to divine the 

relationship between this unhappy boy, Walter von X and von Adel. Von Adel was a homosexual and 

he kept von X, who was a male harlot. At an earlier period, von X would have inspired in me a 

physical nausea. By that time I knew so much of Berlin that my feeling for him was of compassion. I 

was richer in experience, and realized how little of the fault, in such cases, is often borne by the 

victim, and how much of the blame by his times, his rulers, and his exploiters. 

Walter von X was a goodlooking lad. Berlin was full of young homosexuals who provoked contempt, 

but somehow contempt refused to come, when called for, in his case. 

I saw him once again. I walked along the Kurfürstendamm, one day in 1934, and met him. I was 

surprised by the change in his appearance. He was bigger, fitter, no longer effeminate and mincing, but 

self-confident. He told me that he joined the Labour Corps as a volunteer and loved the life. He was 

now an officer. He was not afraid of work, then! I wondered whether I would ask him something. I 

decided I would. ‘How is von Adel?’ I said. He looked at me and smiled. ‘I don’t know’, he said, ‘I don’t 

do that any more. Das mache ich nicht mehr.’ 

He was mad for National Socialism and Hitler. ‘I’ve got an aim in life now’, he said, ‘I had nothing 

from my life before. It was all the same to me, mir war alles gleich. I feel that I have just been born’. 

Poor dupe. What a choice was his: to drift round Republican Berlin as von Adel’s property, or to give 

his soul to Hitler! We shook hands and parted, and I watched him go, with swinging stride, towards 

the Gedächtniskirche. 

Where can he be now? Dead, perhaps, at Stalingrad? Watching the end of his dream from a barracks in 

France? Sitting at a desk in Berlin and falling back into his old ways, from disillusionment? 

Who knows? He was of the generation of desperation. Our interest is, to prevent, not to promote, the 

appearance of another such. The way to promote it is, to be weak in our conduct of the war, infirm of 

purpose after it, and malignant in our treatment of Germany. The way to prevent it is, to be hard- 

hitting in our conduct of the war, resolute of purpose and strong in arms after it, justly severe towards 

guilty leaders, and to abstain from destroying any good thing they may have done amongst much evil. 

Think on Germany in this light, gentle reader, as we go through Civvy Street together in search of our 

future. We must not only know our enemy, but know how to treat our enemy, so that he may not live 

on a festering hatred of us after the war and fall on us again at the first chance. 

But the greatest lesson which the example of Germany offers us is, that victory breeds languor and 

laziness, and defeat, virility and effort; so that we need to watch ourselves even more than we beware 

of others.  


























Chapter Ten 


1935 and Berlin. From a café terrace looking on the Tiergarten I saw a tall man in officer’s uniform 

striding briskly towards the War Ministry. I knew him. He was a former neighbour of mine, in the 

days before Hitler came to power: the Oberleutnant.[38] 

He was the war hero who enjoyed such renown in that apartment house in the Kantstrasse because he 

once appeared in the Allied list of war criminals. He was of ‘the guilty men’ of the last war. I told of 

him in another book. Now that the Republic was dead, he was happy and prosperous again. His 

uniform fitted him well. The next war would not be long to wait. All was well with his world once 

more. How he must have smiled when he thought of that list of war criminals! I watched him, lean and 

upright, turn smartly into the Bendlerstrasse…. 

In this war, my Oberleutnant is probably an Oberstleutnant, at the least. I wonder if he has repeated his 

exploits of the last war, when he distinguished himself by shooting Belgian civilians. 

The promise of ‘retribution’ was made last time. It was kept; let none deny this. Our troops held the 

Rhineland, and this compelled the Supreme Court of Germany to try some of those guilty men, prove 

them guilty and sentence them. 

The heaviest penalty imposed on any of those accused by the British Government was ten months’ 

imprisonment. The total of all the sentences passed on these was twenty-two months. Hundreds of 

British subjects have been imprisoned longer than that in this war without charge or trial. Most of the 

accused simply pleaded that they acted under orders. Those who gave the orders either remained 

quietly in Germany or went to some neutral state; none molested them anywhere. Our politicians were 

no longer interested, the electoral fruits of their promises having been plucked, and gladly pointed to 

the sanctity of international law, of which the laws against extradition are an important part. 

The refusal of inquiry into the things that were done in this country to promote the war and weaken 

our defences, and the repudiation of responsibility for them by the men who did them, makes the talk 

of ‘retribution’ in this war sound ludicrously insincere. Nevertheless, we should know whether it is 

meant, or whether this cry is merely used to scourge the passions of the people when they have been 

misled into a war. At the least we should this time ascertain whether we have been deliberately duped 

so that we may approach the future with clearer minds about our own leaders. 

Mr. Churchill promised that ‘Quislings and traitors’ would be handed to their fellow-countrymen for 

judgment. But these are puppets. How about the guilty Germans? Lord Simon stated on October 7th, 

1942, that ‘the successful conclusion of the war should include provision for the surrender to the 

United Nations of war criminals’. But what of those neutral countries; what of the Swiss, Swedish, 

Portuguese and Spanish extradition laws? Lord Simon on February 18th, 1943, laid emphasis ‘on the 

need to insist on the surrender of war criminals at the signing of the Armistice and before fighting 

finally ceases’, and said the war crimes would be best dealt with either by National Courts (that is 

Polish, Norwegian and the like) empowered for the purpose, or by military tribunals ‘which have the 

great advantage of speedy action’. 

What are the prospects, then, that retribution will be exacted, in a form which would make us safer in 

Civvy Street to come? I think, none. These vague statements suggest that a few unimportant catspaws 

may be lynched or executed and that the guilty men will go scotfree. 

The same pernicious spirit, of discrimination between people of high rank, however guilty, and 

humble individuals, however little guilty, seems to govern this question, as that which causes so much 

injustice in this island. 

The war appears to be conducted as a game, from the rules of which members of the Enclosure, on no 

matter which side, are exempt. Such terms as ‘traitor’, ‘Quisling’, ‘defeatist’, ‘Fascist’ and ‘Fifth 

Columnist’, seem only to be used for the delusion of the masses on both sides of the fighting front. 

Their passions have to be kept boiling, and their gullibility stoked. 

Consider Hess, one of the guiltiest of the guilty men. All information is still refused the people of this 

island beyond the two scraps contained in statements by Mr. Churchill and Mr. Stalin: that ‘Hess came 

here firmly believing that he had only to gain access to certain circles in this country for what he 

described as “the Churchill clique” to be thrown out of power and for a government to be set up with 

which Hitler could negotiate a magnanimous peace’; and that ‘the reason why Hess was sent to 

England was to try and persuade the British politicians to join the coalition against the Soviet Union’. 

Since then, information has again been refused – on November 17th, 1942, eighteen months after Hess 

landed – by Mr. Richard Law, our deputy Foreign Minister. The only news about him which has been 

extracted from the Government is that he is being treated as a prisoner of war (although all humble 

Germans who came here secretly by night have been executed) and that, when other German prisoners 

of war were put in chains, he was spared this. 

How many people in this country realize that the truth, nevertheless, is now out? It was published in 

the Nazi newspaper issued in Stockholm, which prints only information instigated by the Propaganda 

Ministry in Berlin. The only thing this story does not tell is, why the British people have not been told 

the truth. It was obviously published in the hope of warding off ‘the measures’ (which Mr. Churchill 

and President Roosevelt long ago announced, but for which we still wait) ‘to divert German strength 

from the attack on Russia’. It appeared at the moment a new German assault on Russia impended (in 

October 1942). 

(For the enlightenment of readers, I interpolate that the fact that Hess is a captive and this country has 

not joined with Germany against Russia does not suffice to make his mission ‘a failure’. As long as we 

do not strike at Germany, but hold aloof and allow Germany to assail Russia unmolested, it has neither 

failed nor succeeded; or in other words, it may be called a half-success or a half-failure. This is why 

the Soviet Government, when the truth was printed in Stockholm, demanded that Hess should be tried; 

the British Government refused. The ‘measures’ have been promised again for 1943. Their importance 

for us, is not that they would help Russia, but that they would bring this war to an end, which is 

presumably a British interest.) 

The Nazi article stated that Hess’s blight was not his own independent enterprise, but part of Hitler’s 

policy, and was directed towards an alliance with Britain. ‘Naturally’ Hitler wished to protect himself 

against any miscarriage of the plan, and therefore agreed in advance to repudiate all knowledge of it 

and to give his repudiation additional plausibility by punishing persons who helped Hess to leave the 

ground. Hitler could not accept as final Britain’s refusal to make peace after the defeat of France, and 

interpreted Britain’s refusal to take the step as due to weakness. Therefore Hess was to offer to 

England a profitable agreement in the form of an alliance to make war on Russia, as the result of 

which Germany was to receive the Ukraine and the Caucasus oil regions, Japan was to receive Siberia, 

and the rest of Russia was to be split into separate homogeneous states. Britain’s share, which was to 

be ‘guaranteed’ by Germany, was the retention of the Mandated Territories, especially in the Middle 

East, but Germany was to receive back her former colonies. Hess was sent because he was Hitler’s 

official deputy. Also, as he was a proficient airman, he did not need a pilot, and was able to avoid the 

inconvenience of intermediaries. Hess was to inform the British Government that he came as Hitler’s 

messenger, with full authority, and Germany’s public repudiation of him was devised because 

obviously it was desirable to throw dust in the eyes of the outside world. Englishmen ‘were thought to 

be gentlemen’ who would understand and approve, or at least would allow Hitler’s emissary to return 

and not to betray the Fuehrer’s frank proposal, but they interpreted the Hess mission as a sign of 

weakness, and Mr. Churchill did not waste a day, but told Stalin everything immediately and kept 

Hitler’s deputy a prisoner.[39] 

We now know as much as we need to know about Hess. You may examine the story from every 

conceivable angle, but you will not find any reason favourable to the interests of this country, why the 

British people should not have been told the truth. Indeed, we now know everything but the most 

important thing of all: why information has been withheld from us. 

Everything that could be done, has been done, to discourage the public from even thinking about Hess, 

and about the most important event in this war. Is all the talk about ‘guilty men’ and ‘retribution’ blatant 

falsehood? Are the prime movers in all this in reality completely exempt, and are they joined by a 

fellow feeling which reaches across all frontiers? What could create more of the ‘bitterness and 

cynicism’ which our politicians deplore, than that? 

The signs point to it. Consider the case of William Joyce, nicknamed Lord Haw-Haw. A member of 

Parliament and a newspaper writter have recently stated that he will be hanged after the war. In 

November 1942, another Englishman began to broadcast even more violent diatribes from Germany. 

He is Mr. John Amery, the son of a member of the British Government. Anon suppresses all public 

references to him. The newspapers ignore him. He is not mentioned in our House of Commons. He is 

protected by the fellow-feeling of the members of Enclosure. Yet in Brixton Gaol, according to a 

Member of Parliament, lies an unfortunate man who is there for no other reason than that a relative of 

his is in Germany, that he is ‘the younger brother of my brother’. His brother is William Joyce! 

What justice is this? A man who helped Hitler in his rise to power, with money and in other ways, was 

Ernst Hanfstaengl, who came to this country before the war in circumstances which, again, we have 

not been allowed to know. He was interned when war began. Then, for some reason, he was handed 

over to the United States Government, which has seemingly released him. At all events, he has been 

writing articles in the American press. What hidden influence lies behind this transaction? 

But the worst case is that of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, a declared enemy of this country, who usurped 

dictatorial powers and tried to lead the protesting Yugoslavs into the war on the side of Germany and 

against this country. In March 1941, he sent his Prime and Foreign Ministers to Vienna to sign 

Yugoslav membership of the Axis pact. At this price, Yugoslavia could have enjoyed the preferential 

treatment which the Hungarians, Slovaks and Bulgars have purchased. 

The Yugoslav people rejected clemency bought with dishonour in one of the most heroic gestures in 

history. When the ‘Quisling’ ministers returned to the ‘Quisling’ prince, they dared not appear in the 

streets. ‘The people turned on prince Paul, drove him out, and enthroned the boy king Peter. Within a 

few hours, German bombs killed 26,000 people in Belgrade. 

The prince is now our guest and is vehemently defended in Parliament whenever his name is 


I can write with knowledge about Prince Paul. He became Regent of Yugoslavia when King 

Alexander, his cousin, was murdered at Marseilles in 1934. From the moment he began to govern, he 

was detested by the Yugoslavs, who instinctively mistrusted him. 

His palace outside Belgrade lay within great grounds, and around these lay thick hedges and barbed 

wire defences. If you passed, on the road, you would be startled by sudden movements and you would 

then see that hordes of gendarmes were concealed in the bushes. This prince lived within a hedge of 

gunmen. His fear of ‘the Reds’ amounted to obsession. I recall the hopeless gesture with which a 

British Minister in Belgrade once spoke to me about that. From the moment of his advent, the shadow 

of what would happen in 1941 lay heavy on Yugoslavia. The soul of the people revolted against a man 

who, their hearts told them, was a traitor. 

I recollect how British newspaper correspondents were prevented from telling readers at home the real 

feeling of the Yugoslavs and from exposing this prince. This man, in effect, declared war on us, and 

then found that the people he ruled, in trust for his dead cousin, spewed him out. This man, in Mr. 

Churchill’s words ‘They swept from power’, because he sought ‘to lead them into a shameful heritage’. 

Here, then, is an arch-enemy. He lives, according to Reuter’s correspondent at Nairobi, ‘in a house 

formerly occupied by an American millionaire in the loveliest part of Kenya. A British major, a retired 

provincial Commissioner, lives with him, and the house has a police guard which does not interfere 

with the Prince’s liberty. He frequently goes to Nairobi, according to the Press reports, stays there at 

the leading hotel and hunts big game with the British major. 

Who, if not such as he, are those ‘traitors and Quislings’ who, according to Mr. Churchill, are to be 

handed to their fellow countrymen for judgment? This is one of high rank and connections. This is 

what Mr. Richard Law, Mr. Eden’s deputy, said of him on November 12th, 1942:  

The honourable member has represented Prince Paul as being a kind of ravenous tiger 

who, if he was not put in a cage, might overthrow the whole of the Allied Powers. The 

fact is that Prince Paul is a weak man, who would never overthrow anyone. The reason 

why he was sent to Kenya last year was not because this powerful, fierce tiger had to be 

kept in a cage. It was simply that he had to be got out of the way so that he would not 

fall into enemy hands, and could not be used by the Axis for their own purposes … he 

was put in Kenya because it was thought better to have him out of the area; because if 

he had been in that area, being not a strong man, but a weak man, he might, without 

meaning it, have been used as a pawn by the Axis Powers. 

Such words make meaningless nonsense of the pledges about ‘retribution’. Who shall, then, be tried? Is 

social rank the only test? (On March 22nd, 1942, Mr. Churchill again spoke of ‘bringing to justice the 

grand criminals and their accomplices’.) 

‘Used by the Axis for their own purposes …’ This man signed the Axis pact! ‘He might, without 

meaning it, have been used as a pawn by the Axis Powers …’ This man sent his Ministers to Vienna to 

sign the alliance with the Axis! That was why the people he unhappily held in his hand rose against 

him; he betrayed the trust of the dead king, and led his people into ‘a shameful tutelage’; he has the 

blood of Belgrade on his hands. 

Mr. Law’s words provide a grim illustration of the disease which seemingly attacks our Members of 

the House of Commons when they exchange opposition or a back bench for office. I know, from first- 

hand experience, that they completely falsify the picture. The inference is that the promises of 

‘retribution’ only apply, if at all, to obscure, friendless and uninfluential people. This is the story of the 

last war over again. 

Mr. Law was among the young Conservative Members who rebelled against the misleadership of Mr. 

Chamberlain before Dunkirk, so that he at long last withdrew, and the evidence we now have is more 

than sinister enough to justify their courageous uprising then. In that great debate Of May 7th, 8th and 

9th, 1940, he said:  

In the last few years I and every honourable Member have witnessed one or other 

prominent Member of the Government – the Prime Minister, or the Chancellor of the 

Exchequer, or the Lord Privy Seal – come down to the House and stand at the Box in 

the midst of the wreckage of some policy or other, in the midst of some defeat or other, 

and explain that there was nothing that could possibly have been done … To be 

associated with policies which always end in defeat and frustration, does not lend 

strength to your hand when you tackle new policies from a different angle…. 

Now, Mr. Law stood ‘at that Box’ and spoke in the spirit of those others all too many of whom still sit 

alongside him. He spoke as Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Chamberlain, Sir John Simon, Sir Samuel Hoare, Lord 

Halifax, and all that company would have spoken. If, in the midst of this avoidable war, which was 

chiefly brought about by such misinformation of the public, so false a picture of one of our enemies, 

and one of the men who brought Europe to this pass, may be given to the House, our future is very 


We approach Civvy Street again. Seemingly we are to find at the very outset one of the sources of 

‘bitterness and cynicism’ we met there last time. A main aim of the Battle in England will be, to restore 

truth to our public life, for the insincerity of public pledges, declarations, promises, and utterances in 

general becomes too blatant to be borne. 

I watched the Oberleutnant disappear in the direction of the War Ministry, that day in 1935. I could 

never look at him without feeling anger and revulsion. I could not forget those wantonly murdered 

Belgian civilians. 

I wonder what tales he will have to tell his cronies after this war, the guilty man!  















Chapter Eleven 


This happy breed of men … 

This England! 


Our breed does not to-day show the qualities which led Shakespeare to call it happy. I have tried to 

show how its happiness was stolen and how it could be restored. Foremost among the necessities is, 

that it should breed again. The breed has ceased to multiply. 

Enclosure, the decline of the English countryside, the spread of derelict areas, the growth of 

squalorous towns, one exhausting war and the approach of another have been the cause of this effect. 

Another great problem awaits in Civvy Street. We shall not find the happy breed again until we solve 


About the time the bells did not ring in the New Year of 1943, an old English lady died, a Mrs. Emily 

Whiting. She left 156 descendants. She was born in 1849, when the defeat of Napoleon seemed long 

since to have set life firmly on its hinges. The effects of Enclosure and the drift to urban 

impoverishment, were not realized, when she grew up. She was one of triplets. Her own family, of two 

sons and five daughters, was not thought large when she raised it. One daughter bore twenty-two 

children; the total of grandchildren was seventy-five. Seventy-three great grandchildren, and one 

great-great-grandchild were alive when she died. 

This was a belated projection, into the doubting England of to-day, of the blood and spirit of the older 

England which, whatever its troubles, felt no misgiving about the value of existence and the pattern of 

the future. It wanted to live, and to give life. It believed that life on this planet would become better; 

that wars, though they might not cease, would become less frequent; that inequality would gradually 

diminish and opportunity slowly broaden; that tyranny, oppression and injustice would dwindle. 

To-day, this belief has given way to disbelief. That, and not the lack of ‘family allowances’ causes the 

thing we now face for the first time since we emerged from the caves: the halt in breeding. 

In 1801[40] we were 9,000,000 people, in England and Wales; in 1850, 18,000,000; in 1901, 

32,500,000; and in 1940 about 41,000,000. But even the slower rate of increase during this century, 

has not been due to natural multiplication, but to the fact that fewer babies die at birth and adults live 

longer. Natural increase has ceased. Thus we have, at present, a stable population, containing an 

increasing number of ageing and a decreasing number of young people, which will begin to decline 

when these two compensating factors have spent themselves. 

We know, from our own experience and that of France and Germany between 1919 and 1939, that the 

twenty years after a great war are the dangerous time. The victors incline to a listless despondency, 

which leaves free scope to the machinations of ‘Them’, and the vanquished tend towards desperation. 

Just when we shall need our greatest strength, then, we shall be a nation predominantly formed of old 

or ageing people, tired from two great struggles, and bearing on bowed shoulders the burdens left by 


That dangerous period is now inevitable; no future revival can fill the gap left by the unborn children 

of 1919-39, and the task, of tiding the nation over those critical years until the results of a revival in 

breeding become apparent, is probably the greatest in our history. 

Few we shall be, in any case, when the dangerous years begin. That is our legacy from Messrs. 

Baldwin, MacDonald and Chamberlain. But that is no reason to relapse into lethargy, to sleep while 

the story of decline and fall is completed for us by others in a third chapter. If the spirit revives, we 

shall still be enough to hold our own until the breed begins to multiply again. The danger is, a sagging 

spirit during those years when we shall have fewer young people than ever before, and more old ones; 

for among the aged, for some inexplicable reason, is found the weakness which applauds a Munich 


Sir William Beveridge has foretold that by 1960 we shall be ‘in a panic about the population of this 

country’. The only proposal that has been made, to avert the danger and the panic, is ‘family 

allowances’. A sponge would be as useful to stop a leak. Family allowances have been tried in many 

countries, without success. This catchword is dangerous, in our perilous time, because people’s gaze 

may be diverted by it from the real cause of the halt in breeding, which is not monetary, but spiritual – 

fear of the future. 

Our ancestors, who bred so lustily through the centuries, were poor, but not afraid. Why should they 

have been, when any man who could rent a cottage or build a hut might grow enough food on the 

adjoining acre for any family he founded? 

How can that impulse be revived, without which the survival of a free British island and the British 

Empire seems impossible? Every time we approach the British problem from a new angle, gentle 

reader, we come to the same conclusion; and that is because this conclusion is inexorable, inescapable, 

and right. 

Ensure the safety of this island, restore our basic freedom from capricious imprisonment without trial, 

widen the doors of opportunity so that unmoneyed young men and women may reach the higher 

service of the State, liberate some of the land, preserve the thriving countryside we have made in this 

war, do away with slums and derelict areas, resume emigration to the kindred lands overseas; in short, 

mitigate the evils of Enclosure, frustration and class segregation, without abolishing anything, and you 

will revive a happy breed. 

But you will not do it by family allowances. You will never induce people to resume breeding by the 

payment of so-much-a-week, whether it be the eight shillings proposed by Sir William Beveridge, or 

the five shillings proposed by the Government. The money might relieve poverty. I do not believe it 

would produce one more child. The decline in fertility, in our country, has been greatest among the 

moneyed classes and in the residential counties. Its roots are not want (impoverished nations show the 

highest birthrate to-day) but fear of the future. 

A cash inducement is no substitute for the natural wish to have children, which can only be restored by 

the revival of faith in the future. A pathetic proof is the increase in the number of conceptions, in this 

country, after Munich.[41] 

The British Empire offers convincing proof that the roots of decay are spiritual. In 1859 the decline of 

the Maori race, still suffering from despair caused by the British conquest, was so rapid that experts 

foretold their extinction about the year 2000. By 1871, they estimated, the number of Maoris would be 

45,000; in 1900, 29,000; in 1928, 19,000; in 1956, 12,000. 

The end of the Maoris was held to be so certain that Sir John Logan Campbell, when he bequeathed 

Campbell Park to the City of Auckland, left a legacy for the erection of a memorial to the vanished 

race. The memorial was completed, but happily has not been dedicated, because the reason for it has 

disappeared. The Maoris themselves were resigned to their fate, saying: ‘as clover killed the fern and 

European dog the Maori dog … so our people will be gradually supplanted and exterminated by the 


The decline of the Maoris continued until 1896 but was less serious than all foretold, and the recovery 

since then has confounded all anticipations. By 1901, the numbers were 45,000, and in 1936, 82,000. 

The Maori birthrate in 1939 was over forty-six per thousand against a white birthrate of 17.29. The 

Maori population at present increases at three times the rate of the white. No ‘family allowances’ 

operated here. The Maoris are still an impoverished race, and their future presents the New Zealand 

authorities with a grave problem. Nevertheless, the return of confidence in the future was enough to 

produce this astonishing result. The Maoris thought their future was gone when the white man came. 

They felt no joy in life, and did not wish to transmit life. As time passed, and they were neither 

oppressed nor massacred, their spirit revived. The episode proved that the influences which prompt a 

people either to commit race suicide, or to breed, are spiritual. 

The right influences can be restored to the people of this country, by rulers wiser than were those of 

the past twenty years. If they should be as unwise, and the people should tolerate such unwisdom, our 

to-morrows would be fraught with despair. 

The only alternative theory would be that the growth or decline of races is governed neither by 

material nor spiritual causes, but by some impulse which we do not comprehend at all. If we were to 

yield to that dangerous explanation the prospect would arise that not only the British people, but the 

entire white race is in decay; that not only the Decline and Fall of the British Empire impends but the 

Decline of the West (the name of a book published during the last war by an outstanding German, 

Oswald Spengler. He feared the submergence of white civilization). 

In my belief, his theory of a process of disintegration which cannot be averted, is wrong. No need 

exists for this thing to happen. The decline we have seen in the last thirty years was brought about by 

bad rulers; and they were all too often the tools of powerful international interests whose machinations 

and manipulations were not suspected by the people. Thus the events of the past twenty-five years 

were ominously true to Spengler’s gloomy picture of the future. For our halt, or decline in fertility, is 

shared by nearly all the white races of the earth, and this is all the more reason why we should take the 

lead, in altering it; the world asks nothing better than for us to set an example. In Europe, only Poland, 

the Netherlands, Italy, Bulgaria and Portugal have in recent years reported a birthrate slightly more 

than sufficient to maintain population numbers; and in the Empire New Zealand, Canada and South 


But the Asiatic nations multiply prodigiously! The 390,000,000 inhabitants of India, over whom we 

rule with a handful of our forty-something millions, to whom we promise self-government if they 

behave, increase at the rate of 5,000,000 a year! The 180,000,000 Russians, of whom the 

overwhelming majority are Asiatics, seem likely to increase to 250,000,000 or more during this 

century, so quickly do they breed. The 490,000,000 Chinese still rapidly increase by all accounts. 

These three together already account for half the human race! They are all very poor peoples, who 

would think you mad if you spoke to them about ‘family allowances’. 

These figures vividly show the importance of restoring the happiness, and therewith the fertility of our 

breed. You cannot entirely ignore numbers, in ruling an Empire that spreads all over the world. 

I believe only one European people showed prolific fertility between the wars, the Poles. The reasons 

are plain to see: the liberation of their country, the enjoyment of their own land, revived hope in the 


The lesson is clear. To think that we can save the future by the payment of five shillings a week is 

more audacious than to tell the tides to cease flowing. In this matter of the breed, which cannot stand 

still or retreat if it is to survive as more than a subject race, we come again to the root of all evil: the 

unhappy domestic order of our island, its class antagonisms, which confuse its foreign policy, and the 

bitterness and cynicism these breed. 

That could quickly be changed, if the men and women who come back will fight for their country in 

peace. Only a revival of faith in the future, will set the breed breeding again. Do not be bluffed by talk 

of ‘family allowances’.[43] 


























Chapter Twelve 


In the summer of 1942, three English mothers drowned their babies. These were dire tragedies, but 

they do not appear here on that account, for much worse things happened in the England which, as Mr. 

Herbert Morrison said, ‘is as happy at war as it was in the three years before 1939; a righteous and 

courageous policy is a great inspiration to a nation in days of hazard’. 

In Colchester, a woman who for many years lived with a man to whom she was not married, killed 

herself and her six young children when she found that she was again pregnant. At Birmingham, a 

man of sixty-nine, whose six sons served overseas, whose old-age pension was ten shillings and whose 

fifty-eight-year-old wife earned thirty shillings a week, passed his nights with her in an air raid shelter, 

and awoke one morning to find her dead at his side. A woman of forty-five, the mother of ten children, 

left her sixty-three-year-old husband, and the eldest daughter, aged fourteen, to look after the home, 

while she joined the W.A.A.F., and the logical disasters followed. A baby of four weeks was found in 

the manger of a paint-and-plaster Nativity in a Catholic church at Leeds. A Swiss chef at a West End 

Hotel in London, committed suicide ‘from worry at the amount of his work and the large number of 

banquets he was needed to assist in preparing.’ 

Such things, I opine, point to sadness of the spirit, as did the story of the woman who for nine years 

went from job to job with the mummies of her four illegitimate babies in a suitcase, and the other who 

lived alone with the mummies of forty dead cats. This is not fiction; these are fragments from a year’s 

English happenings. 

However, other people agreed that this was a happy land; for instance, the woman who wrote to a 

Sussex newspaper to say, ‘The fact that “Jerusalem” was the favourite hymn of our late beloved 

George V, who evidently dreamed of the ideal community (as far as it is humanly possible to attain it, 

which probably could only be in a land like Britain), should be sufficient to commend it to every 


The three mothers who drowned their babies belonged to those who were not happy, whose 

unhappiness even sprang from the war, unreasonable creatures! The human tragedy reaches its darkest 

depths when a woman kills the child she has home; the denial of a life just given at such cost in 

suffering, can only come from uttermost misery of the spirit. A politician might do better to study such 

things,’ than the result of a division, the plaudits of a newspaper, or the atmosphere of the smoking- 

room in the House. 

What these three mothers did is only incidental to this tale. They all did alike; the point is, what 

happened afterwards to each. 

Two were working-class women, good wives and mothers. The first took four of her children and 

threw three into a pond. The fourth escaped. She then threw herself in but ‘came to and found herself 

hanging to a branch’. She was charged with murder; found guilty but insane; and sentenced to be 

detained ‘during His Majesty’s pleasure’. All who knew her spoke most highly of her. 

The second woman threw herself and her baby into a river. She was dragged out, unconscious. The 

baby was dead. In spite of this deed, I think every British soldier would revere her. Four days earlier, 

she learned that her husband was killed at Singapore. Before he went overseas, he said: ‘Good-bye, 

dear. If anything happens to me, don’t take up the struggle alone. Follow me every mile of the way. 

We love each other too much to be parted. Bring the baby with you.’ 

She was charged with murder and found guilty. The black-capped judge sentenced her to be hanged- 

by-the-neck-until-she-was-dead, adding the jury’s plea for mercy and his own opinion that the 

sentence would not be carried out. ‘You are the victim of the lusts of the war lords of the world’, he 

said. No newspaper, that I saw, bothered to report the sequel. Presumably she now faces lifelong 


The third woman was not insane, nor was her husband dead. She was an officer’s wife, related to 

people of title and rank. She drowned her baby and reported that the deed was done by a stranger. 

Later, she admitted the act. Her husband, who was on foreign service, never saw his son. When she 

appeared before a bench of local justices, prosecuting counsel (the spokesman of the public interest) 

said the case ‘was one of a young woman suffering from mental exhaustion which resulted in fits of 

depression and despair consequent on childbirth, and in one of such fits she took the life of her baby’; 

‘no-one could do otherwise than feel the utmost sympathy for this poor girl’. Thereon, the local justices 

found that there was ‘no evidence to support a charge of murder’, and thus, when she appeared before a 

criminal court, the charge was merely that of causing the death of her infant son while the balance of 

her mind was disturbed by the effect of childbirth. Prosecuting counsel (the spokesman of the public 

interest) said ‘there was no dispute that when the offence was committed she was not in her usual state 

of mind’. Well-to-do relatives offered to look after her. The judge ‘approved of these suggestions’; she 

was bound over ‘and immediately discharged’. 

Such is the tale of the three mothers. My feeling for each is of compassion but what conceivable 

justice was there in the differentiation that was made? Why should two humble women, one of whom 

was insane while the other was moved by motives so much more comprehensible, have been subjected 

to the whole abhorrent ritual of a murder trial, if the third was not

Sir William Jowitt, when he was Solicitor-General, broadcast the declaration that our law is alike for 

rich and poor. It is not. None, who judge fairly, would assert that, when they read the tale of the three 


Enclosure, in England, was effected with the help of the local justices, who were often enough the 

fellow-squires of those who coveted the land, or even coveted it themselves. Fielding knew them, and 

in Joseph Andrews depicted the lawyer who assured Lady Booby that ‘the laws of the land are not so 

vulgar as to permit a mean fellow to contend with one of your ladyship’s fortune. We have one sure 

card, which is to carry him before Justice Frolic, who upon hearing your ladyship’s name, will commit 

him without any further question’. 

The institution of the ‘unpaid’, magistrate is rotten. No Person charmed with an offence should he 

brought before any but a trained, professional and paid magistrate or judge. To assume that the 

ownership of land, managership of a successful football club, or proprietorship of a prosperous 

business, fits a man to sit in judgment on his fellows, is absurd, and we should loudly reprobate the 

system if it existed, not here, but abroad. To give any local notable, any big frog in a small pond, such 

power, is wrong. 

A still greater evil is their power to intervene at the source of justice, to reduce the charge on which a 

prisoner is ‘committed for trial’ before a judge, in favour of some local clansman. The first two of the 

three mothers, who were working-class women, found no compassion in them. 

We have, in fact, class justice, of which this is a recent instance. It is another of the problems we shall 

meet in Civvy Street.[44] 

In an address to the Devonshire Club in 1943, Mr. Justice Birkett recalled the famous case of 

Elizabeth Canning in 1753 to show ‘the great advance which has been made in the administration of 

justice in Britain during 200 years’. That was a clear case, he said, when an innocent person was 

sentenced to death; in his own lengthy experience, he never knew a case in which he was satisfied that 

an innocent person was convicted. 

That is true (with the important reservation that for nearly four years now people have been put away 

without trial and that several have been proved innocent when their cases were subsequently brought 

before a judge). Our Courts of Law do not convict innocent persons save through human fallibility. 

But they, and still more the unpaid magistrates, do deal out different justice to persons accused of the 

same offence, which is nearly as bad. I would engage to rout any lawyer, however notable, who sought 

to show that the law is alike for rich and poor. 

This is a bad thing, which becomes worse in wartime, and which men of goodwill should work to alter 

when they return to Civvy Street. The justice which the courts mete out, only reflects the spirit in 

which the land is governed, and this spirit has been worse in the present war than in the last. Though 

we have conscription and compulsion, inequality of service and of sacrifice is more blatant now than 


I told, in All Our Tomorrows, the story of a miner who was badly injured in the pit and told his son, 

before he died, at all costs to get away from the mine; the son obtained other work, but was ordered, 

on pain of imprisonment, to return to the mine and lower wages, and within a few days was killed in 

the pit, on New Year’s day of 1942. Mr. Ness Edwards, M.P., told in Parliament of a collier who was 

sent back from the army to work in a South Wales mine, was killed at midday on the fifth day after his 

return, and from whose pay the colliery company deducted a half-day’s wages for his last day under, if 

not on, earth. Miss Hilde Marchant gave this picture of a strike of young miners in 1942: Looking 

from the train as it approached Swansea, she thought ‘there has been some bad bomb damage here’, for 

mines and sheds stood in rows of decay, while girders poked through green fields like iron skeletons. 

But ‘no bomb explosion wrecked this industrial valley, this was the slow rust of peace’. She spoke with 

a nineteen-year-old miner, Glen Griffiths, brought back from well-paid employment in a factory to 

work for £2 10s. 0d. in the mine, while the village girls, his schoolfellows, earned £3 10s. 0d. and £4 

in the munition works. When his elder brother said, ‘it will all be closed down after the war, we will all 

be out like you’, he replied, without bitterness, ‘a good thing too brother, for this is torture. We will get 

away then when they don’t want us. They will let us away, for this is punishment here’. 

Compare these things with the statement made by Sir Kingsley Wood, the Conservative Chancellor of 

the Exchequer, that £66,450,000 compensation for coal royalties was to be paid in cash to the 


The worst thing ‘They’ have done, under cover of this war, probably is, the imprisonment of such men 

in derelict areas and coalfields where, in peacetime, they were not allowed to work. Socialist leaders 

and trade union chiefs, admitted to the Government Enclosure, have been employed to do it. 

Tragic is the hope, which these young men express, that peace may soon bring idleness to the 

coalfields again so that they may escape. They do not see that the same misleaders seek to close even 

that door. Many Socialist leaders have proclaimed the need for ‘the continuance of control’ after the 

war. They mean, that men shall not be allowed to escape from the hideous captivity of the black 


The best thing for them, and for England, would be for such men to get away, to return to that part of 

the good land which should be liberated, or seek a better lot overseas. Even that outlet was denied 

them before the war. Emigration was hindered. Is that evil practice to be renewed? Is the emptiness of 

the Dominions to be perpetuated, while we have mass unemployment? Could lunacy go further? 

One law for the rich, another for the poor: the phrase is old, but it continues true. 

Recently several rich men have announced that they would give great houses and estates ‘to the 

nation’. (Whether any part of such land formerly belonged to the nation and was taken by Enclosure, I 

do not know, in these cases.) The newspapers loudly applaud their generosity, but examine the facts: 

The houses are ‘given’ with valuable contents. No public access to them is mentioned. Indeed, a 

condition of the ‘gift to the nation’ is, that the owner and his descendants shall remain in occupation as 

long as they wish! ‘Such an arrangement’, the public reports continue,’is customary under the scheme 

of the National Trust for preserving estates of especial beauty or interest with the former owners 

continuing to live in them, subject to limited public access.’ 

Access? To what? Why, the grounds are ‘given’ in the sense that ‘they will in due time be open to the 

enjoyment of the public, under such conditions as may be found to be desirable’. This seemingly 

means that people may be allowed, by way of a turnstile and a uniformed porter, to stroll through the 

grounds once or twice a week at some future time. The gift to the nation diminishes as you examine it. 

But that is not all: 

‘Where the donor and his family after him are to remain in occupation they gain by the consequent 

saving in taxation and death duties, but the nation also benefits by the endowed preservation of the 

beauty of the estate.’ 

Now, that is enlightening! ‘The nation’ has been ‘given’ something; what, is not clear. But ‘the donor’ 

obtains most substantial compensation for his ‘gift’. He continues to live in his house and enjoy his 

grounds subject to the ‘limited public access’ to the grounds, which may come about some day. He 

continues, henceforth as heretofore, to pay his housekeeping expenses and the upkeep of the grounds; 

this seems no extravagant generosity. 

But he is relieved of the taxes he would otherwise pay on them and of the death duties which would 

have to be paid at his death, or the death of his descendants! Truly is it more blessed to give than to 

receive, in England. Seemingly we breed yet another privileged class, of those exempt from taxation 

and death duties, if only their property be great enough. 

The owner of a detached villa at Croydon standing in an acre of ground, should clearly present these to 

the nation and allow his neighbours occasionally to stroll round the garden. He will save himself and 

his heirs a lot of money. 

The transaction strikingly resembles the other practice, by means of which prominent members of the 

Government party are exempted from the back-breaking taxation of war time, being granted large and 

non-taxable allowances for ‘expenses’ while, amid the plaudits of the Press, they patriotically forgo the 

taxable ‘salary’ of their offices! It resembles, again, the current practice of making ‘tax-free’ payments 

to company directors, managers, and the like. Such evasion makes nonsense of ‘Finance Acts’ which 

purport to raise the general level of taxation in the interest of ‘the war effort’, and of the claim that ‘the 

burden of sacrifice’ is equally distributed. 

Lawyers blandly explain that the ‘Finance Act’ of 1941, which raised basic income tax to ten shillings 

in the pound, ‘contains nothing to prevent anybody from entering into new “tax-free contacts” (and 

thereby immunizing himself from taxation). Thus, the solicitor of a famous brewery company, at the 

annual meeting in 1942, informed the shareholders that they might continue to pay nine directors their 

£15,000 free of tax. The cost to the company (that is, to the tax-paying shareholders and tax-paying 

beer drinkers) would be £30,000, but it was all perfectly legal. Conservative ministers refuse to 

interfere with this practice, and mock their hearers when they proclaim that ‘we shall all be much 

poorer after the war’. 

In the same way, the sentences which have been passed, under emergency legislation, on humble and 

obscure people, are often ferocious. The contrast between them and the toleration which is given to 

selfish effort to profit from the war, becomes in consequence more revolting. 

For instance: In Norwich an elderly scissors-grinder was given seven years’ hard labour for stealing 

goods worth £45 10s. 0d. from bomb-damaged houses. In a Manchester cellar, a gang of forgers, many 

of whom bore alien names, began a large-scale conspiracy against the State; they produced 100,000 

counterfeit clothes coupons, and a Board of Trade official, after the trial, said that in another two 

months all clothing coupons would have needed to be called in. The longest sentence was of four 

years, and most were much less. A ‘company director’ from Bucharest, who sold coloured water at a 

high price under some high sounding name, and was previously convicted ten times for the same 

offence, was fined £20. A poor woman who threw away some stale loaves was sent to prison for 

‘wasting bread’. When the London mansion of one of the millionaires of the last war was burned down, 

and firemen found an enormous store of tea, sugar, hams and other rationed goods, the newspapers 

fawningly reported, ‘All this was legitimately acquired before the war by Lord X; there is no 

requirement to dispose of it, or any question of confiscation.’ 

Though not much public resentment is evinced about these things, their injustice is realized and causes 

the bitterness and cynicism which prelates and politicians lament. It sometimes even produces a 

protest, to the surprise of those who sit comfortably in the seats of justice or of power; for instance, the 

Old Street magistrate, who in deference to many appeals cancelled a month’s imprisonment which he 

inflicted on a elderly woman, in ailing health and nearly blind, for harbouring her deserter son. He said 

he was ‘staggered at the public’s generosity’. 

So much injustice, in war time, yields small hope that a mood of equity towards all will arise, after the 

war, among those who hold power and wealth. Between the wars, the obsession with money made 

England a land of pirates, buccaneers and freebooters. Each for himself, and the devil take the 

hindmost. The hindmost were, the derelict shipyards and coalmines, and the throngs of forgotten men 

around them. 

Victory, in the last war, was a Guildhall banquet for the few and hunger for the many. The spirit of 

those times seems to live on in the following reports of two municipal banquets held in London in 


Attlee, Bevin, Alexander, Lyttelton, Grigg, Eden, Bracken and Leathers, bowed in turn 

to the Lord Mayor. So did Dill, Paget, Portal and Pound – and the Chairmen of the Big 

Five Banks. Once again, as of yore, the guests sipped turtle soup in what was otherwise 

a war-time meal. And, once again, the City’s gold plate came from the safe to decorate 

what remains of aforetime glories…. 


The Daily Herald


The Prime Minister, smiling and debonair, was in high spirits when he spoke yesterday 

at the Lord Mayor’s Mansion House. It was a good war-time meal and a cheerful 

occasion. ‘We are in the presence of glad tidings’, said the new Lord Mayor, as he 

looked upon the happy faces of Cabinet Ministers, civic dignitaries and leading 

business men…. 


The News-Chronicle

Cheerful occasions; the chairmen of the Big Five Banks and leading business men; turtle soup and 

glad tidings; gold plate and happy faces! Where, in this picture, are the men who have been separated 

for years from their homes and families, the widows, the wives who do not even know whether they 

are wife or widow, the women whose husbands for three years have lain in foreign prison camps, or 

the orphans of the Blitz? 

But the worst injustice is that which particularly revolts, because it thrives in the midst of so much 

strident clamour about sacrifice and service and ‘the war effort’, at a time when so many poor, and 

friendless people are so harshly dealt with for the smallest offence. It is the thing called profiteering in 

the last war, and black marketing in this. 

I recall with what bitterness, as a man vainly seeking occupation after the last war, I saw the flaunting 

wealth of those who became rich through it. Many now sit in the highest places. When this war began, 

we heard much speechifying, in the sense that ‘no great fortunes would be made this time’. 

Great wealth has been transferred again this time, from the pockets of the patriotic, hard-working and 

long-suffering citizen, to those of the avaricious, and much of it has passed through the Black Market: 

the term we now use to cover all transactions which aim at obtaining an illicit share of things supposed 

to be equally shared, or at selling such at a profit. 

If the newspapers report truly, the rigorous penalties, of which we heard so much in 1941, have 

remained on paper. They frequently tell of ruthless sentences on obscure people who have done some 

small wrong, but they have recorded no single case of really heavy punishment awarded to some illicit 

practitioner who operates in a big way. Sentences of imprisonment are rare. Where heavy fines are 

imposed, the culprit may work these off at so-much-a-day, in relatively short terms of imprisonment 

and emerge with his ill-gotten gains untouched! In some cases, the defendants have filed petitions in 

bankruptcy immediately after fines were imposed, and the government has refused to take action when 

the fact was pointed out that, unless alternative sentences of imprisonment were awarded, this made 

nonsense of the whole law. 

Thus were the mocking birds allowed to alight comfortably on the very thing that is supposed to 

frighten them. Shakespeare had a word for it:  

We must not make a scarecrow of the law, 

Setting it up to fear the birds of prey, – 

And let it keep one shape, till custom make it 

Their perch, and not their terror. 

Our laws against black-marketing offences have indeed been so applied that the birds of prey perch on 

them; the story of the last war repeats itself. 

Illicit profit-making, in wartime, or the illicit gain of a greater share of some commodity than all are 

supposed to enjoy, is a particularly evil thing because of the way it spreads that cynical spirit among 

the public which our public spokesmen profess to find unreasonable. When attention has been called 

to inadequate sentences or evasions, the Government has always replied that it cannot interfere with 

‘the course of justice’. This answer was given in its classic form when a Member proposed that the 

Board of Trade should be empowered to appeal against what he rightly called ‘derisory and fleabite 

penalties’. Sir William Jowitt, who was then Solicitor-General, and who broadcast the declaration 

about the impartiality of British justice between rich and poor, rejected this proposal, saying ‘it would 

break the proud tradition that the judiciary are free from interference by the Executive’. 

In plain English, that means: the Government makes the laws, the judges administer them, and the 

Government must not tell the judges to apply them rigorously or leniently, for that is a matter for each 


This leads to an instructive case in point, for Sir William Jowitt (by that time Minister for 

Reconstruction), together with two Conservative M.P.s, an admiral and other persons of position, was 

in September 1942 charged at Canterbury with ‘breaches of the Feeding Stuffs Rationing Order’. 

Counsel appointed (by the Director of Public Prosecutions) to prosecute in the public interest, said 

‘The object of the Feeding Stuffs Rationing Order is to secure that everybody receives his or her share 

of the animal feeding stuffs’. The customer was bound to surrender coupons for his purchases to the 

dealer; the amount for which the dealer received a buying permit from the Ministry of Food depended 

on the number of such coupons which he handed in. Some of these dealers, said Counsel, ‘obtained far 

more feeding stuffs than they were entitled to have’ and ‘misled their customers by delivering to them 

far more than their coupons entitled them to receive’. (Observe the curious wording of this last phrase.) 

As a result, ‘a number of highly respectable people quite inadvertently committed breaches of the 

Order’. He was of opinion that they ‘neither knew nor realised that they were receiving those excess 

quantities’. This, he knew, was no defence, but as he thought they were the victims of the dealer, he 

was instructed not to press for penalties. 

All the defendants save one pleaded guilty. Small fines were imposed. Sir William Jowitt said he did 

not know of the excess delivery. He left the running of his farm to his bailiff, and ‘I have always been 

taught that it is very bad policy to keep a dog and bark yourself’. (Sir William Jowitt, an eminent 

lawyer and former Solicitor-General, would know far better than any ordinary citizen that ignorance of 

an alleged offence is not a plea recognized by the law.) 

The point that interests me is the statement of the attorney who represented the Public Prosecutor ‘that 

he was instructed not to press for penalties’. If the Government (as Sir William Jowitt stated in 

Parliament) may not instruct or in any way use influence on a judge, for the stricter application of the 

law, surely none, not even a Director of Public Prosecutions, should instruct counsel to use influence 

by ‘not pressing for penalties’. In theory, the judge remains free to inflict what penalty he thinks right, 

but in practice, a judge is hardly likely to inflict the same penalty when the prosecutor says he is 

instructed not to ask for penalties, as he would, if the prosecutor were to use all his talent to obtain the 

strict rigour of the law. 

No equity shows in this. I drew the attention of that Member of Parliament who protested against 

‘derisory and fleabite penalties’ and who received the answer which I have quoted, to this case. His 

answer would have surprised me if I could any longer be surprised by the things our Members of 

Parliament do. He said, in effect, that the defendants in this case were only tried before a court because 

they were ‘prominent persons’, and ‘a withdrawal of the prosecution might have been misunderstood’. 

Otherwise they would just have received ‘a warning, as in so many similar cases’. ‘In this case, at least’, 

he concluded, ‘the law was not impartial as between the high and the low!’ 

He meant (he who once protested against ‘derisory and fleabite penalties’), that the high were more 

rigorously treated than the low would have been! The facts which were published do not support this 

opinion. The statement by counsel, that he was ‘instructed not to press for Penalties’, should not be 

made, when ‘prominent’ persons’ are concerned, if the impartiality of the law towards all is to be 

asserted. Such impartiality is the soundest basis that can be laid for the life of a happy community. It is 

always difficult to attain, but disbelief in it greatly helps to corrode the spirit of the community. 

I began with the tale of three mothers, who all did the same thing, but were most differently treated by 

our courts. They, too, are the symbols of something that is wrong in England; something which is 

dangerous for our future, and which we should work to alter, when we enter Civvy Street in search of 

the future.  


Chapter Thirteen 


February 1939, in Prague. ‘One of our Rabbis here’, said Doktor Farisy, ‘is preaching in the 

synagogues that Hitler is the Jewish Messiah, because he will cause all those countries of the world to 

be opened to the Jews, which now are closed to them.’ 

‘The Jewish Messiah!’ At the words, a horde of vagrant thoughts, doubts and questions, that long 

roamed about in my mind, fell into ordered ranks, and I suddenly saw their shape and meaning. 

I turned to look at Doktor Farisy’s Jewish profile, sharply etched against the white streets through 

which we walked. A heavy coating of snow made the turrets and gables and alleyways of Prague look 

even more Hans Andersen-like than ever. It was a lovely picture, spoiled by the feeling of fear that 

infected the air (for in another month Hitler would come). 

We spoke of ways and means of getting out of Czechoslovakia, of Europe. Few spoke of anything 

else, in those days. Doktor Farisy was born in the Hungarian part of old Austria-Hungary, now 

become part of Czechoslovakia, and might have argued, according to the day, that he was Austrian, 

Hungarian, Slovak or Czechoslovak. He was none of these; no drop of such blood was in his veins. He 

was a Central European Jew. The newspaper for which he wrote, though it claimed to speak in the 

name of ‘Czechoslovakia’, employed only such as he: I knew all his colleagues, and they included no 

Gentiles. If these men were rootless, in the places where they lived, it was because they practised 


His eyes were set on Kenya, in the British Empire. He wanted a letter of introduction from me to a 

friend of mine there. Knowing that he would cling, in that colony, to the method he and his fellow 

Jews used in Prague, I felt no duty to help him, for I saw in it the same danger to British nationhood, 

though in other than military form, as the one I knew in Germany. But I liked him personally and gave 

him the letter. 

Sometimes fog suddenly lifts and reveals, in stark clarity, an object hidden before: a tree or the like. 

So it is on occasion, I find, with things that others say to me. As a knife needs a grindstone, so a mind 

needs the touch of another mind. 

This was the result of Doktor Farisy’s words. My disordered thoughts fell into pattern, like the pieces 

of a kaleidoscope. In the years that followed Hitler’s coming, I knew something about the Jews, but 

did not realize it. The clamour raised by the Nazis against tbe Jews, which much exceeded the things 

the Nazis did, and the far louder echo of this in the world, blinded people to the truth of what 

happened, and for a time even confused me, though I was a close observer. Now, in Doktor Farisy’s 

words, I suddenly saw something which I long looked at without perceiving. 

‘One of our Rabbis’, he said, ‘is preaching in the synagogues that Hitler is the Jewish Messiah….’ 

Was this to be the final epitaph on Hitler: that he was the Jewish Messiah? 

If so, how would the interests of my own country fare? I turned to Doktor Farisy with a whetted 


We British approach the climax of the Second World War and the middle of the tortured twentieth 

century, and strive to retrieve our future, from all this misery. In soberly considering the Jews and 

Jewish ambitions, and the relation of these to our British interests, one great fact stands out, like a 

mountain peak, in the confusion: that a Jewish triumph is all that remains of our victory in the First 

World War. 

When the Second World War began, German disarmament was gone and Germany was mightier in 

arms than ever before: Germany was mightier in territory than ever before; liberated Czechoslovakia 

was gone, and liberated Poland and Yugoslavia were about to go, with many other countries; 

reparations were gone; our security was gone; not even the faint aftertaste of victory remained in our 

mouths. The only thing that remained from that great struggle, with its millions of dead, was, and is, 

the Jewish National Home in Palestine, which we promised to build in the midst of that first war. It 

alone survives. The Jewish spiritual centre exists, with its population of nearly half a million. A Jew 

may now be born in Palestine and pass through an all-Jewish kindergarten, school and university 

without speaking anything but Hebrew; work on a Jewish farm or in a Jewish factory; live in a great 

all-Jewish city; read a Hebrew newspaper and visit a Hebrew theatre. 

That is the sole achievement of British arms (save for the conquest of German colonies in Africa, 

which we did not need) remaining from the Great War. The origins of the Greater War are mysterious 

enough, and our own future when we have won it still obscure enough, for this fact to lend great 

probability to the words of the Rabbi of Prague; and it justifies deep misgiving about the clamour 

raised by many public spokesmen and public prints which, through its violence, tends to make this 

new war appear to be one waged primarily for Jewish aims. 

For appetite grows with eating, and if the demands which are being made by or on behalf of Jewry in 

this war were gratified, the prophecy of Prague would be fulfilled, and ten or twenty years from now 

we might, looking back, see only the peak of a second Jewish victory rising from the chaotic memory 

of the Second World War – and we might then well be worried about the imminence of a third! In 

1917, the demand for a National Home in Palestine, with which we too unconditionally associated 

ourselves, was a lofty one enough; but to-day that satisfied ambition is already contemptuously 

dismissed as a thing of no account, and much greater things are demanded. 

Indeed, the public debate bids fair to develop into a competition among all the Powers engaged, friend 

and foe, to allot large portions of this planet to the Jews! Consider the fantastic stage which this 

competition has reached. No longer is the aim a National Home in Palestine, but all Palestine, and 

much more. Lord Wedgwood, the foremost non-Jewish Zionist spokesman in this country, has 

proposed the creation of a Greater Palestine for the Jews, existing Arab States to be destroyed and 

partitioned between the Jews and Turkey (Testament to Democracy, Hutchinson, 1942). No sooner did 

the Eighth Army chase the enemy from Cyrenaica, Libya and Tripolitania than Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne, 

M.P., proposed (The Times, January 24th, 1943) that these lands should be made available ‘as another 

home for the displaced and oppressed Jews of Europe’. Goebbels announced (on March 14th 1943, 

while the British Press asserted that the Jews were being ‘exterminated’) that Germany ‘is not opposed 

to the creation of a Jewish State. This world problem must be solved, but the solution may be carried 

out by humanitarian methods‘. The heads of the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches of 

Australia (British emigration to that Dominion, with Government assistance, was stopped before this 

war) urged the Australian Prime Minister (on March 10th, 1943) to ‘set apart a considerable area of 

Australia as soon as circumstances permit for refugee settlement’ (they adduced ‘the particularly 

shocking German persecution of the Jews’). General Smuts, on March 17th, 1943, suggested to ‘a 

deputation of South African Jewry’, which waited on him, ‘a confederation of Semitic States in the 

Middle East to solve the Jewish problem’. 

These were but a few of the proposals which were made, for Jewish territorial expansion, but at the 

same time a most vigorous campaign was waged to claim for them unrestricted access to other 

countries, and full rights of citizenship there, or rather, superior rights to native citizens there, for the 

invariable assumption was, that these incoming Jews should be exempt from military service, but 

eligible for all employment, and that the denial to them of immediate naturalization would be 

intolerable cruelty. (For instance, a correspondent of The Times, on April 8th, 1943, reported that he 

knew of three young German Jews who came to this country and built up a business here, which 

became highly prosperous, through Government orders, when the war began; he described the refusal 

of naturalization, while British manhood was away at the war, as an insufferable injustice.) 

The result of all this is that as the war approaches its fourth birthday, and we draw nearer to Civvy 

Street, the aims and claims of Jewry have been put on the pinnacle of public debate, and the clamour, 

about them drowns all other. While the sufferings of our own people may have hardly begun (for the 

great slaughter of the last war has mercifully not yet come upon us), Jewish demands tend to 

monopolize discussion, and are marked by an extraordinary duality and duplicity. Unrestricted 

movement from country to country, and preferential treatment in each, is demanded by the vehement 

champions of this cause; but at the same time separate national territories, the bounds of which seem 

to grow from day to day, and which can only be acquired through British arms, are claimed for this 

race, the numbers of which are given in the reference books as about 15,000,000 (or approximately the 

population of a small country, far away, which we knew nothing about: Czechoslovakia). 

We witness the largest ambitions ever expressed and pursued in the history of the world. Here is 

something which cannot any longer be denied open discussion: it affects every Briton’s to-morrows. 

When the tone of the present public discussion, and the demands which are raised on behalf of Jewry, 

are studied, the meaning of the words uttered by the Rabbi of Prague becomes clear. 

This is a matter to be examined in a spirit of the most sober objectivity. It is not a question of the 

goodness or badness of Jews, but of Jewish ambitions, and the effect of these on British interests. 

Much of the blame for this war lies with those people who were blinded by a sneaking admiration for 

Hitlerist methods to the German danger, or by a deep fear of Communism to the indispensability of 

the Russian alliance. People who yield to any unreasoning, animosity against the Jews are similarly 

misled and dangerous. They need only to know what the Jews are, what they want, and how this 

affects our future. Our leaders have brought us to a perilous pass by supporting two conflicting Jewish 

aims, about which Jewry itself is divided: the claim for equal rights of citizenship and the 

international, territorial, even Imperialist ambition. That confusion must be ended, or we shall come 

through it to endless troubles. 

I have no hostility to the Jews, nor have I found any in the British people. As we go down Civvy 

Street, in search of the future which was denied us after the last war, we shall encounter forces which 

strive for power, or territorial conquest, in our world: great nations like Germany and Japan, financial 

interests like banks, oil undertakings and armaments trusts, and religious organization’s like the 

Roman Catholic Church and Jewry. All pursue aims which reach across frontiers, and thus may 

conflict with our paramount need, the safety of this island. 

This is no matter of prejudice; we have the right to discuss whether they will profit or injure us. Our 

interests and those of organized, international Jewry are not identical, and if I, gentle reader, am much 

alone in saying this to-day, that is because our politicians and newspapers have come to a dangerous 

state of infatuation or bondage. The files of British Parliamentary debates and newspapers show that 

objective debate was formerly common. About 1926, G.K. Chesterton remarked that, by some hidden 

means, this open argument was being stealthily curtailed. People, he said, were still allowed to express 

general impressions about their country, until they came to the case of the Jews; but there the tendency 

was to stop, and anybody who said anything whatever about Jews as Jews ‘was supposed to wish to 

burn them at the stake’. 

Anon has proved most powerful in this matter. To-day, the most substantial arguments are dismissed 

by the asinine braying of ‘Yah! Anti-Semolina!’ (or whatever the lunatic saying is) and our entire, once 

public-spirited Press yields to this servile stupidity. That is not good enough. This repression of free 

speech in one question alone will have to stop. 

A large number of Jews has been brought to this country by two Tory Prime Ministers, two Tory 

Home Secretaries, a Socialist Home Secretary and a Socialist Labour Minister. They were exempted 

from military service, but allowed to take any kind of employment. They were even given preference 

in employment, because our own men and women were sent to the Services and factories, or 

imprisoned if they objected, and employers engaged these newcomers, believing they would not be so 

taken. We have as much right to discuss this, as our relations with Russia, housing or the Beveridge 

Report. This concerns us

These Jews should have been received only on condition that they took no employment vacated by a 

British subject (indeed, the Government gave this promise, but broke it) save under the legal 

obligation to surrender it to a returning British subject out of work (which legal safeguard the 

Government refuses), and that they should share the burden of military service (which the Government 

also declines to impose on them, pleading that they are technically ‘enemy aliens’, though they are 

numerously employed in the Ministries and the B.B.C., where they have access to vital military 


A very serious statement was published in a London periodical, The Economist, in 1939. It caused Sir 

Abe Bailey, a warm supporter of the Jews, to utter an emphatic warning. It was, that ‘the average 

refugee is more helpful to the community than the average Englishman, whether the standard is 

monetary, capital, industrial skill or intellectual attainments’. 

Hitler never said anything more hostile. This statement gained importance when Mr. Brendan 

Bracken, who was Managing Director of The Economist, became Minister of Information. No 

Member ever asked whether he shared the view expressed in his periodical. But the Ministry of 

Information, and the B.B.C., have been foremost among public employers in recruiting Central 

European Jews. I know, from many sources, the bitterness this causes, among qualified British 


A pledge was given in Parliament that aliens would not be employed, in such Departments, in 

preference to qualified British subjects. I was in a position to know that the statement was incorrect. A 

question was put, and the pledge was then reduced: British subjects would be given preference 

‘provided they were suitable in other respects’. A pledge thus qualified means nothing. This is the 

beginning of the thing which always starts, when the Jews arrive: exclusion, as practised by Doktor 

Farisy and his colleagues in Prague. 

‘The “boys” did not or could not settle down; their jobs had been filled long ago by the people at 

home.’ This was written, by a Jewish author, about the Hungarian soldiers who returned to Hungary 

after the last war. He is now in this country, and has been enabled, by our Government, to take any job 

he wishes. ‘The Jew must be better in every respect than the Gentile if he wants to attain the same 

result, and win the same recognition.’ These are also his words. The claim is not true. I have nowhere 

found the Jews cleverer than the Gentiles, or more stupid. They attain immoderate power through the 

strength of their cohesion, the cement of which is an age old anti-Gentile teaching. The weakness of 

the Gentiles, few of whom know the Mosaic Laws (of which Hitler’s racial laws are the copy in 

brown) is that they do not realize this. 

But if that is the source of Jewish strength, its main instrument is the infatuated Gentile, who is more 

Jewish than the Jews. From these, we suffer sorely. They are the stupid Gentiles of Jewish anecdote. 

Infatuation for a half-comprehended cause may drive a man to rabid bigotry. 

In this country, examples of such infatuation fill the newspapers. Some are truly grotesque. Here are 


In the Commons, on August 6th, 1942, Professor Hill ‘asked the Minister of Labour whether he is 

aware that a number of foreign refugee dentists are at present unemployed; and whether, in view of the 

shortage of man-power, he will cease to reserve further dental students from military service until 

these refugee dentists are absorbed’. (Our own lads, that is, should be removed to make room for 

aliens! When the Minister, in reply, cautiously spoke of ‘the need to maintain the future supply of 

British dentists’, Miss Eleanor Rathbone said the ‘excuses’ which were given were ‘really untenable’.) 

In the News-Chronicle, on January 12th, 1943, Mr. A.J. Cummings, quoting Mr. Vernon Bartlett and 

the Observer, asked why our Government permitted the removal of 5000 Italians from Abyssinia to 

Italy ‘without insisting on the release of Jews in at least equal numbers from Axis countries’. 

(According to the War Minister, on September 8th, 1942, Italy then held 15,500 British prisoners-of- 

war. Should the doctrine then obtain, even in respect of our captives, that ‘the average refugee is in 

every way more helpful to the community than the average Englishman’?) 

Those who should lead public opinion often seem to wish the people of this country to think that they 

regard this as a war fought chiefly for Jewish ends. The confusion is increased by the astonishing 

factor that in many of the countries involved in this war the Jews alone are exempt from military 

service: for instance, the Jews in Germany and the German-occupied countries, and Jews from 

Germany in this country. (Poles and Czechs in Germany are conscribed for the German army; Poles, 

Czechs and many more in this country, by their own exiled Governments; Englishmen in America for 

the American army, and so on.) 

How many such Jews have come here? Public statements vary so much that they bewilder. Mr. 

Churchill, on April 7th, 1943, spoke of 150,000, up to the present. The Times of April 3rd, 1943, 

spoke of 250,000 before the war, claimed that by taking employment here they were ‘making a 

valuable contribution to the war effort’, and recommended that all who desire it should be given 

naturalization. According to Lord Cranborne, in the House of Lords on March 23rd, 1943, they are 

still coming at the rate of 10,000 a year. (Before this war, our unemployed were between one and three 

millions; in March 1943 Mr. Bevin reported 100,000 unemployed; on April 7th, 1943, Mr. Dalton, 

President of the Board of Trade, said ‘We can never hope to have continuously 100 per cent 

employment after the war …’) Sir Herbert Emerson, chairman of the Central Committee for Refugees 

in Britain, said in September 1942, ‘54,000 German and Austrian refugees are doing war work in 

British war factories and on the land’ (this takes no account of those who have entered the Ministries, 

the B.B.C., the theatrical, media, dental and other professions, and business and industry). No British 

figures have been given for the Jewish migration to the Dominions; but South Africa announced in 

November 1942 that 53,000 refugees reached the Union in 1941 and 1942 alone, 10,000 were given 

Government-assisted passages to Australia in the last pre-war year alone, and large numbers have 

gone to Canada. As to the Colonies, Mr. Churchill stated that 21,000 ‘refugees from Poland’ were 

being distributed between Uganda, Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland (the figure is large 

enough entirely to alter the structure of the white populations of these British Colonies). Even in 

August 1939 Sir Abe Bailey, a lifelong friend of the Jews, expressed deep misgiving about the 

displacement of British stock in South Africa by Jewish immigrants, and this was before the new 

influx began and native South Africans went off to the war. 

According to the reference books, which in this matter are poor guides, the United Kingdom contained 

300,000 Jews in 1938. The figure gives as little picture of Jewish activity and influence, even at that 

time, as an acorn gives of an oak. A fair inference is, that the Jewish population of this country and the 

Empire is well on the way to being doubled. The newcomers are in the bulk Central European Jews, 

that is, those of the most marked racial and religious characteristics. 

If this ‘were an influx of Icelanders, no problem would arise. We should absorb them, and the new 

blood would do us good. These people will not allow themselves to be assimilated. Their religion 

outlaws them if they marry non-Jews, and in the main they cling to this law, usually disinheriting 

disobedient children. British courts of law have upheld this disinheritance clause of Jewish wills. 

The refusal to intermarry is their law, not ours. The Jew, not the Gentile, builds the Ghetto wall. In 

1911, one Steinie Morrison was tried for a murder, the scene of which lay in the Jewish immigrant 

quarter of London; of the fantastic figures which appeared in the witness box, the author of the story 

of the trial, Mr. H. Fletcher Moulton, said:  

Truly the Russian Jew lives here as an alien – not in the sense that his interests or 

sympathies belong to any other country, but because he carries his Ghetto with him, a 

Ghetto whose gates enclose a life which we neither know nor are capable of 


The Jewish Community in this country before the war was not large enough to imperil national 

interests. While the great core, of any Jewish population, remains armoured in its racial exclusiveness, 

some always find the possibility to retain their fierce tribal faith and yet to love the land they live in. 

This is practical compromise, a plant which flourishes in our sod. They keep their self-made Ghetto, 

but in the daily walks of life are able to adapt themselves sufficiently to the needs and beliefs of the 

people among whom it is built, for them to be able to say ‘I am a Jew, and yet feel for England’. 

These are the Jews, of long sojourn here, whom most of us know. I served with one in the trenches, 

lay next to another in hospital, and flew with a third. They were different, because they would not be 

the same, but I would have fought, and still would fight, against any third party who sought to make 

any differentiation between them and us. 

These people come to a painful conflict of mind when some happening in the world starts a new mass- 

movement of Jews. Some (those who may rightly claim to be ‘British Jews’) know the immemorial 

trouble that will follow, and refrain from clamouring for the new immigration. But those at the hard 

core of organized world Jewry, the high priests of the fiercely exclusive and inflexible tribal faith, use 

all their power (and their power is great) to promote it. It may be laudable in them; but it affects our 

interests, and we need to discuss it.[45] 

The interests of those national communities which are called on to receive the newcomers in their 

midst, are ignored. Admission is passionately demanded, and once given, is written off as a triviality. 

We have accepted 150,000 or 250,000 immigrants in this country and have helped unnumbered 

thousands more to go to the Dominions; we have spent millions on them, opened all employment to 

them, and spared them from military service. These are privileges unique in history. Yet the foremost 

champions of the Jewish cause in our Parliament, Lord Wedgwood in the Lords and Miss Rathbone in 

the Commons, and many others, repeatedly abuse our ‘ungenerous’ bearing. In a current pamphlet, we 

are even called murderers for not transporting all the Jews of Europe to these shores.[46] 

The first Jewish influx is here. It is the first result of the war. Wiser administrators than those who 

promoted it should in future watch that this new section of our population does not obtain, at the cost 

of the sorely-tried and long-enduring people of our island, an improper share of wealth, power, land 

and privilege. 

But now something even more dangerous to our nationhood, our island and our empire impends. This 

is an attempt to transplant an even larger number of Jews from Central Europe, to transfer to our backs 

the greatest problem of Europe. The hospitality, shelter and privileges we have already given are 

dismissed as of no account. 

The people we are required to accept are, in the main, the Jews in Poland, that great reservoir from 

which world Jewry and Zionism are fed. What sort of people are they? The answer is found in the 

words, written before this war, of a Jew, M. Stefan Litauer, who is now closely connected with the 

Polish Government in London:  

There is no other country which suffers more from the burden of the social and 

economic consequences of the Jewish problem than Poland. No other country has such 

a high percentage of Jews … they constitute 10 per cent of the total population of the 

Polish Republic … At the conclusion of the Great War, when the Peace Treaties 

invoked the right of national self-determination, and nationalist ideas captivated all 

races, the idea of Jewish nationalism began to gain ground among the masses of Polish 

Jewry. This growing Jewish nationalism was a check even to that limited process of 

assimilation which was going on before. During the years from 1921 to 1931 the Jews 

in Poland underwent a colossal change. While at the census of 1921, out of a total of 

2,849,000 persons of the Jewish faith, 2,111,000 declared themselves as Jews not only 

by race but also by national consciousness, and as speaking Yiddish, whereas 738,000 

regarded themselves as Poles and gave Polish as their mother tongue; at the census in 

1931 out of a total of 3,114,000 persons of the Jewish faith, 2,733,000 declared 

themselves as Jews by national consciousness and as speaking Yiddish, whereas only 

381,000 regarded themselves as Poles. This process has been growing rapidly during 

the last few years. Thus a bare 6 per cent of the Jews in Poland are united with the 

Polish nation in their hearts and thoughts, and 94 per cent, forming a body of over 

three million people, regard themselves as an alien element. No wonder, therefore, that 

the Poles look upon the Jews as a factor weakening the development of Poland’s 

National forces and standing in the way of a sound social evolution of the country. Only 

by the greatest possible reduction in the number of Jews, especially in the towns, can 

the Jewish problem be solved. The Polish Government must therefore aim at a solution 

of the problem by a large-scale and planned emigration of the Jews

These Jews felt themselves alien; they were becoming more so; the problem could only be solved by 

sending them elsewhere! 

Now, we are invited to receive them. That is no solution of the problem, but merely its transference to 

British shoulders. They would remain as alien here as in Poland; they wish this. Even ‘the limited 

process of assimilation’ of 1900-14, declined during the inter-war years. This quotation explains the 

nature of the problem more convincingly than any words of mine could. The effort to transfer it to our 

account is being made with such vigour and clamour that it confuses the issues at stake in the war, and 

makes its very origins suspect. Those who pursue it, with such noisy disregard for our native interests, 

are to blame for the growth of a feeling that the war is being waged primarily for Jewish ends. 

In November 1942 a great campaign began about the ‘extermination’ of the Jews. At that very moment, 

the prospect of our victory first loomed distinct. The Eighth Army conquered in Libya; Italy showed 

signs of distress; the Germans failed to take Stalingrad; that Germany would be beaten, possibly even 

in 1943, became clear (and I wrote a play foretelling Hitler’s disappearance. 

Victory, then, approached. If it came, and found those Jews still in Europe, they would remain there. If 

they were to leave Europe (if ‘the problem’ was to be solved by transferring it to us) they would need 

to come away before Victory arrived. Also, the British Government had suspended immigration to 

Palestine. The ‘extermination’ campaign began. The power which this particular interest wields over 

our public spokesmen and Press stands revealed as gigantic. Some newspapers gave more space to this 

matter than would be devoted to any other in any circumstances which I can imagine. The word 

‘extermination’ was printed billions of times. It was used habitually, without flinching, by Ministers, 

politicians and the B.B.C. Any who care to keep note of the things which were said, and to compare 

them in a few years’ time with the facts and figures, will possess proof of the greatest example of 

mass-misinformation in history. All sound of the suffering of the non-Jews who are Germany’s 

captives was drowned. 

Contemplate a British newspaper office, in peace. On the Editor’s desk lies a cable reporting the 

statement of a Rabbi in New York that a hundred Jews have been massacred in Warsaw. The Editor 

forthwith telegraphs to Mr. Jones, his correspondent in Warsaw, to confirm the report. Mr. Jones 

investigates, and replies that it is untrue; it goes into the waste-paper basket. Or he says it is true, and it 

is published. But other Englishmen, beside Mr. Jones, live in Warsaw. If the published report is 

untrue, they will protest; other newspapers will expose the malpractice of this newspaper, in printing 

false news; Mr. Jones will lose his job. Innumerable checks exist in peace on the accuracy or 

inaccuracy of published statements. 

Now come to the same Editor’s room in war. The same cable lies on his desk. Warsaw is in enemy 

hands. The cable comes from New York. No means exist to verify or disprove it. The Editor, if he 

print it, should advise his readers to withhold judgment until verification is possible. But such 

journalistic scruple seems dead. The report is published as authentic news. 

(I give this glimpse of the mechanism of a newspaper because I find that most people are more 

ignorant of it than they are of parthenogenesis, and for the better understanding of what follows:) 

Before November 1942 none ever suggested that the Germans practised racial discrimination in 

cruelty. Jews and non-Jews suffered alike; but as the non-Jews were twenty times as numerous, their 

suffering was as much more, as the whole is greater than the part. Indeed, the New Statesman 

remarked that ‘Hitler subjected the Jews of Germany to every imaginable form of insult, robbery and 

oppression’ (he subjected many more non-Jews all over Europe, to the same things) ‘but he did not 

slaughter them’. 

Now, when the war was over three years old, like a bolt from the brown came this news that he was 

slaughtering them, and they must therefore be brought to England! How, if they were exterminated? 

That point was ignored; the word ‘extermination’ was deliberately chosen. It means ‘to root out, 

destroy utterly’. (If that is not clear enough, the New Statesman said: ‘Hitler is engaged in 

exterminating the Jews of Europe, not metaphorically, not more or less, but with a literal, totalitarian 

completeness, as farmers try to exterminate the Californian beetle’!) 

We were told, then, that the Jews were being ‘exterminated’, and we must therefore receive them. We 

are entitled to examine the truth of this, since it is the basis of the claim made on us, mainly on behalf 

of those Jews in Poland who most tenaciously hold to the teaching (expressed by the Chief Rabbi in 

London) that ‘the mission of the Jew is first of all to be a Jew’. (Hitler has used those very words about 


The claim was, that something different was being done to the Jews, something more than the non- 

Jews suffered: ‘Nothing else in Hitler’s record is comparable to his treatment of the Jews’, the News- 

Chronicle; ‘For Hitler the Jews were and are the first and principal victims of a frenzied malice 

manifest in his earlier outpourings as an irresponsible political agitator’, The Times; ‘Upon this people, 

the Jews, the fury of the Nazi evil has concentrated its destructive energy’, the Archbishop of 

Canterbury; ‘The worst cruelties are reserved for the Jews’, the Bishop of Chelmsford; ‘The 

persecution of the Jews is, however, unique in its horror; it is deliberate extermination directed 

against, not a nation, but a whole race; this is a horror, unprecedented in the history of the world’, the 

Archbishop of York. 

These statements are untrue. I saw Hitler’s work with my own eyes, from the day he came to power, 

until the eve of this war. Nineteen-twentieths of the inmates of his concentration camps were non- 

Jewish Germans; nineteen-twentieths of his victims outside the German frontiers are non-Jewish non-

Germans. This distortion of the picture has gone on since 1933. I felt misgivings about it then, when 

his first cruelties were practised, and I noticed that the Jewish share of the whole was being put out of 

all proportion in the foreign Press. 

But now the suggestion has been crystallized into a definite statement which I would not dare 

challenge if it could be upheld: the Jews in Europe are being ‘exterminated’. You must not use this big 

word unless you mean physical extinction. What was the evidence, first that ‘extermination’ was 

ordered, and second, that it was carried out? 

(1) The Times of December 4th, 1942, spoke of ‘a memorandum compiled by underground labour 

groups in Poland’ which stated, ‘one of the war aims of Hitler’s regime, and one which has been 

publicly proclaimed by its highest authorities, is a complete extermination of the Jews’. The 

Archbishop of York said on December 9th, ‘The extermination of all the Jews in Poland has been 

decided on and will be carried out’. The Manchester Guardian, on December 11th, spoke of some, 

‘evidence available in London’ that ‘a plan was proposed to Hitler last June that the Jews [in Poland] 

should be exterminated by Christmas … He hesitated for a time but soon relapsed and decided to 

gratify his lust for cruelty by adopting the original proposal … One need not suppose that Hitler has 

signed an actual order for the destruction of the Jews, which is strongly reported but at present 

unconfirmed’. The Times, on December 12th, said ‘Hitler has boasted of his intention to eliminate 

every Jew in Germany under his yoke’. Mr. Eden, on December 17th, spoke of Hitler’s oft-repeated 

intention of exterminating the Jewish people in Europe’. The Times, on December 21st, quoting ‘a 

statement issued by the Allied information Committee’, said ‘Himmler, after a stay in Warsaw, issued 

an order that half the Polish Jews were to be killed in the course of a year’. The Archbishops of 

Canterbury, York and Wales, in the name of all the British Bishops, in January 1943, stated, ‘The 

extermination already carried out is part of the carrying into effect of Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to 

exterminate the Jewish people in Europe, which means in effect the extermination of some 6,000,000 

people’. The Roman Catholic Cardinal of Westminster and the head of the Salvation Army associated 

themselves with such statements, which were repeated innumerable times in the radio and Press. On 

January 9th, the New Statesman said, ‘In July of 1942 Himmler gave the necessary orders for 

extermination on a continental scale’. 

(2) On December 4th, Mr. Vernon Bartlett wrote, ‘According to cables from Dr. Stephen Wise, 

President of the World Jewish Congress, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist 

Organization, confirmation has now been received of an order issued by Hitler for the extermination of 

all Jews in Nazi-occupied countries before the end of the present month’ (then how could they be 

rescued?). ‘The number of Jews who have already died cannot, of course, be estimated with great 

accuracy. In the opinion of the World Jewish Congress roughly two million out of the three-and-a-half 

million Jews in Poland have been murdered by the Nazis since the outbreak of the war’. Almost on the 

same day, the World Congress, according to The Times, ‘issued a statement on Nazi massacres of Jews 

in Europe showing that of the 7,000,000 Jews who normally live in the territories now under Nazi 

occupation, 1,000,000 have been cruelly done to death’. Mr. Harold Nicolson wrote in the Spectator of 

December 25th, ‘In order to assuage his insane hatred of the Jewish people Hitler, with Himmler as his 

main agent, has carried out the murder of some 250,000 men, women and children in cold blood’. Mr. 

Harold Nicolson wrote in the Spectator on December 25th, ‘In October 1940, the Germans interned 

433,000 Warsaw Jews in a special area or ghetto which they surrounded with a high wall … For the 

month of October 1942, only 40,000 ration cards were printed’. (His clear inference, and he says ‘there 

can be no doubt whatever of the facts’, was that the number of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto was 

reduced from 433,000 to 40,000 by ‘extermination’.) The Jewish Labour representative on the Polish 

National Council in London reported, in March 1943, that ‘only 200,000 Jews remain in the Warsaw 


Readers may compare these quotations for themselves. ‘Extermination’ was ordered; it was not 

ordered, but strongly suspected; it was ordered for half the Jews in Poland; for all the Jews in Poland; 

for all the Jews in Europe by the end of 1942. Two out of three-and-a-half million were already dead, 

on December 4th; one million out of seven million were already dead, on the same day; 250,000 were 

already dead, three weeks later. Thus spake our leading public men. 

This was the factual basis of the most stupendous political and press campaign in my experience. I 

suspect that I am better informed about German affairs than many of the people who spoke thus, and I 

know of no ‘oft-proclaimed intentions’ or ‘orders’ to exterminate the Jews. Hitler is noticeably reticent 

on that theme. Any threats he has uttered cannot compare, in ferocity and iteration, with his threats to 

exterminate England, the British Empire, Bolshevism and other things. The only threats I know, which 

promised ‘extermination’, were clearly aimed, not at the Jews, but at the Czechs, Poles and Serbs, who 

are the foremost objects of German detestation. Such was Hitler’s statement, on February 24th, 1943, 

that he would ‘not spare alien lives‘, and its meaning was pointed two days later by Frank, the Czech 

‘Protector’, when he said, ‘Stalin could only enter Germany as a victor over the body of every single 

German and over the body of every single Czech‘. The only authentic instance that I know (the 

Germans themselves announced it) of local extermination in this war, was the extermination of every 

Czech man, woman and child in the village of Lidice, where I once received most friendly hospitality. 

Similar, though smaller massacres have been committed on Frenchmen, Serbs, Norwegians and 

Greeks: the Germans published them. 

The other evidence of ‘extermination’ consisted of two documents. The first was a Note sent in 

December by the Polish Government to the Allied Governments. According to the newspapers it 

began by drawing attention to ‘the methods employed by the Germans in order to reduce the 

population to virtual slavery and ultimately to exterminate the Polish nation‘. (The Jews of Poland 

refuse to consider themselves part of the Polish nation; but this Note was published under such 

headlines as ‘Persecution of the Jews’.) 

The second document was published in December, by the ‘Inter-Allied Information Committee’; it 

gave ‘a general picture of the persecution of the Jews by the Germans’. (This is seemingly not on 

public sale, and I rely on newspaper summaries, published under such headings as ‘The Foulest Crime 

on Earth’.) 

In respect of this document, and without disrespect to it, I must mention again that verification is 

impossible in war time. Its contents were published throughout the Press without any word of editorial 

caution. Here are two of its statements: 

‘Of the 86,000 Jews living in Yugoslavia on April 6th, 1941 (the day of the German invasion of that 

country) only 1000 remain alive; the rest have been brutally murdered’ (a Sunday newspaper). I hope 

to recall that statement in a few years’ time, when facts can be ascertained. 

‘On May 15th this year the German Governor of Belgium published a decree tantamount to an order of 

extermination of all Jews residing in Belgium. Men from the age of 18 to 60 and women from 20 to 55 

were obliged, on pain of removal to a German concentration camp, to accept any form of work offered 

them by the Labour Exchanges, no matter what their health, family obligations, or business.’ (Several 


If that is ‘extermination we are being exterminated in this country, by our Labour Minister, who wields 

similar powers. All non-Jewish Germans, Belgians, Frenchmen and the rest, are subject to exactly that 

German compulsion. If that is ‘extermination, the Belgians were exterminated ‘by a German Jew in the 

last war, Walther Rathenau, later, Foreign Minister, who on September 16th, 1916, wrote to propose to 

General Ludendorff ‘the solution of the Belgian labour problem, which can be achieved only if the 

700,000 workers there are brought on to our domestic labour market without regard to questions of 

international prestige and even if the American Relief work should break down in consequence’! 

Thus may credulous people be brought to believe that the thing they suffer themselves is 

‘extermination’ for others. 

Among other reports were these. 

The Daily Herald of December 16th gave an extract from a speech by the chief Rabbi ‘as copied from 

the manuscript’. It was to the effect that on July 27th, 1942, 500 Jewish women of a town near Kieff 

were ordered with their babies to a stadium where (‘an eye-witness declares’) German soldiers dressed 

in football clothes snatched the infants from their mothers’ arms and used them as footballs, bouncing 

and kicking them around the arena. Of this report, Mr. Hannen Swaffer said ‘Never since the days of 

the martyrdom of Christians in the Colosseum by Nero has such a story been told’. A correspondent of 

the New Statesman, who signed a Jewish name, remarked, ‘May I, with a full sense of responsibility 

and of the possible opprobrium involved, say that I do not believe this story, and regard it as a 

fabrication from beginning to end. If anyone on the strength of this ventures to accuse me of pro- 

Fascism, or of any complacency in respect to the brutal manifestations of totalitarianism, I engage to 

flay his intellectual hide for him, however thick it may be’. (The New Statesman said, ‘We agree with 

our correspondent in regarding this story as nonsense’.) 

One London newspaper printed information ‘from Moscow’ that Hungarian Jews in bowler hats were 

driven in front of German troops in Russia to explode land-mines. Another, quoting a Rabbi in New 

York, stated that 93 Jewish girls in Warsaw poisoned themselves in a house rather than yield to 

German officers. 

The ‘evidence’ about extermination clearly would not impress impartial judges. Nevertheless, no 

information conflicting with it was allowed to be published. A little is available, and I give two 


In Roumania in 1940, under King Carol, a wealthy Jew, Max Ausnit, well known in circles of 

international finance, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for fraud and currency offences. After 

King Carol’s flight, the Germans became the real rulers of Roumania, and a puppet government took 

office. The Germans installed Albert Göring, a nephew of the Marshal, as their representative on the 

board of Ausnit’s chief enterprise, the great Resitza Iron and Steelworks. Soon after this, Ausnit was 

released and given an official testimonial, to the effect that his character was stainless, the charges 

against him having been made ‘on purely political grounds’. This incident is hard to fit into the picture 

of ‘extermination’. 

‘Extermiation’ was said to have been particularly ferocious in the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1942, a book 

about the German treatment of the Jews in Poland was written by a Jew, Mr. Simon Segal, for the 

Research Institute of the American Jewish Committee, and published in America. It covers a period 

earlier than that in which ‘extermination’ allegedly began, but gives so different a picture from the 

‘extermination’ reports, which are unverifiable, that I feel entitled to allude to it. Of forced labour for 

the Jews, for instance (‘tantamount to extermination’, this was called), Mr. Segal says, ‘Like all evils, 

the labour battalions and labour camps may have some favourable results. Young people who were 

never accustomed to manual work have been forced to work with their hands. In a free Poland they 

may become very valuable workers’. In spite of the terrible conditions, says Mr. Segal, the Jews 

carried on ‘intensive activity in all spheres of life’. The Jewish Self-Help, from a headquarters in 

Cracow, operated 250 branches in various towns. It extended aid to individuals and distributed 

clothing, condensed milk and other food products. The Society for the Promotion of Health performed 

extensive medical work; the central organization for the care of children maintained orphanages. There 

was also ‘much cultural activity’. In July 1941 the Nazis ‘permitted libraries and bookshops to open’. 

‘Many public gatherings were organized in the Warsaw Ghetto in connection with the 105th 

anniversary of Mendele Moicher Seforim and also in commemoration of Peretz and Bialik.’ There 

were ‘three Yiddish theatres and concerts are organized’. 

A wide gulf obviously exists between this picture and that of ‘extermination’, and satisfactory evidence 

has not been given, that this gulf.has been actually traversed. 

The suffering which the Nazis have brought to Europe is appalling. It caused the embitterment of men 

like myself, who thought the last war was fought for an ideal, because it was foreseeable, and we who 

saw it coming clamoured, at enough cost to ourselves, to have it averted. But I have never been able to 

disguise from myself the fact that many more non-Jews than Jews thus suffered, or to suppress the 

question, why these proportions were falsified in the picture given to the greater world. Now that 

political demands of the first magnitude are launched, on the strength of this distorted picture, the 

thing becomes of grave importance to us. One great influx of Jews has already come to us. We are 

asked to receive another and to open Palestine for many more in breach of our pledge to the Arabs. 

The perturbing thing is, that the campaign has revealed the British people, whose interests are also at 

stake, to be completely without representation, in this matter, in Parliament and the Press. Not one 

voice has spoken, to question the authenticity of the evidence, though this is riddled with 

contradiction; or to urge that British interests also should be borne in mind. All have clamoured that 

the Jews are being ‘exterminated.’ 

Indeed, the only reasonable voice in all this tumult came from America, and it administered a much- 

needed rebuke to the boundless demands which were raised here. When the British Government, at the 

climax of the ‘extermination’ campaign, invited the United States Government to open discussions, the 

reply stated with uncompromising clarity the following opinions: 

(1) The refugee problem should not be considered as being confined to persons of any particular race 

or faith; temporary asylum should be found for refugees as near as possible to the areas in which 

these people find themselves; (2) they should be returned to their homeland with the greatest 

expediency on the termination of hostilities

In other words, the United States would not have the problem transferred to its shoulders; this country 

might, if it wished. Whether this cold douche of reason has restored our own rulers to a wiser mood, 

we cannot foresee, as I write. They seemed to be on the verge of placing on our backs the greatest 

problem of Europe. 

The ‘extermination’ campaign, however, has already produced a result of the gravest importance for 

our future. This is the United Nations Declaration read by Mr. Eden on December 17th, ‘that those 

responsible for these crimes’ (that is, crimes against Jews) ‘shall not escape retribution’. 

Our failure to exact retribution after the last war is the second main cause of the present one. After this 

war, retribution will be even more essential because the Germans have now reintroduced into Europe 

something which we thought banished: torture. In earlier books, I expressed deep misgiving about the 

hesitation of the British Government in stating its intentions in this matter. 

But on December 17th the promise of retribution was linked exclusively to the sufferings of the Jews

No single word was given to the crimes committed against Czechs, Poles, Serbs, Frenchmen, 

Hollanders, Norwegians, Greeks, Belgians and the rest. 

We have made no graver mistake. We formally tell the Germans, from our House of Commons, that 

anything they may endure at our hands will be solely on behalf of the Jews! The inference is that they 

may with impunity oppress, deport and murder Czechs, Poles, Serbs and others. We have lent our 

name to the threat of a Jewish vengeance! Do we wish to plant the seeds of hatred for us and a new 


After that ill-omened declaration, the members, who have a supernatural gift for doing the wrong 

thing, unanimously rose and stood in silence. ‘Such a scene has not been witnessed within the memory 

of man’, gladly wrote Mr. Harold Nicolson. The words are inexact. Just four years before, these same 

Members rose as one man, not silently, true, but whooping and weeping. They applauded a disastrous 

deed, which made this war inevitable. We may expect no good from unanimous demonstrations in this 

interminably long Parliament. 

For the Jewish vengeance is a thing known in Europe. The people of this too-sheltered island do not 

realize that. Europe has seen three recent examples of it, in Russia, Hungary and Bavaria. 

How many recall, amid the clamour for ‘A Jewish State’, that our time has known three Jewish States? 

All save one vanished quickly, but the experience remains. Current events make it necessary to revive 

their memory, and to delineate the features of Jewish vengeance which were common to all. We 

should be mad indeed to force on Europe, in the name of ‘retribution’, conditions similar to those of 


The early Bolshevists, of 1917-19, were predominantly imported Jews, not Russians, and the early 

massacres bore the signs, not of mob violence, but of vengeance taken by imported Jewish rulers. The 

Netherlands Minister in St. Petersburg (in a report to London which was published in a British 

Government White Paper and then suppressed) testified to the overwhelmingly Jewish and non- 

Russian nature of the first Bolshevist Governments, the leaders of which were shipped to Russia from 

other countries. In a report to a United States Senate Committee in February, 1919, the Rev. George 

A. Simons (who was Superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Petrograd from 1907 to 

1918) said that of 388 members of the Bolshevist Government 371 were Jews, and 265 of these Jews 

from the Lower East Side of New York. The Times of March 1919 reported that ‘of the 20 or 30 

commissars or leaders who provide the central machinery of the Bolshevist movement, not less than 

three-fourths are Jews’. In 1920, 447 of the 545 members of the Bolshevist Administration were Jews. 

Jews predominated in government service, of all grades, and even in 1933 the Jewish Chronicle stated 

that ‘Over one-third of the Jews in Russia have become officials’. In 1935 I saw this predominance of 

Jews in the Soviet service. The Jews formed a trivial proportion of the population, but monopolized 

officialdom, which is the equivalent, in this country, to monopolizing the best houses, food, clothes 

and motor cars. 

(I do not refer to Russia of to-day, for I do not know the present situation, and the facts, like those 

about the Jews in Poland, are behind a high wall insurmountable in war time. An alliance with Russia 

is indispensable to our safety after this war. Whether Jewish paramountcy remains or has been 

reduced, my conviction is unshakable that our island safety demands a firm alliance with that country; 

it is the Russians who fight.) 

Russia, whatever it is now, was then a Jewish State. ‘Anti-Semitism’ was immediately made 

punishable by death. That meant, that none might discuss the new régime, though it was unique in 


Even human credulity cannot believe that the Russian chaos threw up all the best men, and lo, these 

were all Jews! In the pantomime a spring trap suddenly projects the demon king on to the stage; in 

Russia, obviously, a similar hidden mechanism was ready – and it dealt only in Jews, who came from 

abroad! These, again, worked only with other Jews. 

It is proved by what happened elsewhere. In Hungary, new figures loomed from the mists of military 

collapse – and they were not Magyars, but Jews! Across the frontier, from Russia, came Kun, 

Szamuelly and Rabinovitch. They, too, set up an all-Jewish régime. True, they set a straw Goy in the 

President’s chair, Garbai. But Béla Kun issued the death warrants, Tibor Szamuelly dashed round the 

countryside in his red train to execute them, Arpád Kerekes (Cohn) strung up the victims, Béla Vágó 

eagerly helped. 19 out of 20 leading men of this period were Jews. Budapest lay under a Directorate of 

five Jews, and a Jewish Public Prosecutor dispensed law. 

This was the second Jewish State, the second anti-Gentile and anti-Christian régime. It collapsed 

under the weight of foreign hostility. The Jewish rulers escaped abroad. Its deeds were bloody – and 

bear the marks of anti-Gentilism. The ‘Lenin Boys’ did not kill Jews. Indeed, the régime bred 

resentment against the Jews, for these went too far. The Hungarians are devout, and though they 

listened to the attacks of the Political Commissars on Christianity, the country received a shock when 

a Jewish youth, Leo Reisz, spat on the Host during the famous procession of the Sacrament. (I should 

add that when I knew Hungary, between 1934 and 1939, the Jews were again more prosperous and 

powerful than in any other country I knew.) 

The third Jewish State reigned in Bavaria from November 1918 until May 1919. Again, when 

Germany collapsed, Jews came from abroad to Bavaria and chose other Jews for their colleagues. 

Levine was the Jewish emissary from Moscow. Prime Minister was Kurt Eisner, another Jew. Others 

were Ernst Toller, Erich Mühsam, Gustav Landauer, and Königsberger:  

There was chaos in the city of Munich. The Spartacists … became more lawless than 

ever and the whole aspect of the city changed: instead of the peaceful Bavarians and a 

sprinkling of soldiers there were processions of women with terrible faces parading the 

streets waving red banners and calling for revenge; and there were sailors from the 

north, Russians in fur coats, Poles and Jews, until one had the impression of being in an 

Eastern town. The Bavarians, while easily influenced in this disordered time, were 

themselves never cruel or violent; it was always their alien leaders, the professional 

agitators, who were the extremists. 


From Henry Channon, The Ludwigs of Bavaria (Methuen, 1933). 

This is the most important of the three Jewish régimes, for us to-day, because Adolf Hitler was in 

Munich during its rule. He did not escape from Munich and join the assembling anti-Bolshevist forces, 

like other patriots. He stayed in Munich, and was a soldier under the orders of the Jewish Red 

Government! This period in his life has never been explained and is ignored in the literature about 

him. Even more significant, and still less known, is the fact that one of his first acts as Chancellor was 

to imprison Count Arco-Valley, who shot Kurt Eisner in 1919! (This desperate young German officer, 

several times wounded and decorated in the 1914 war, wrote before his deed: ‘Eisner is an anarchist 

and a Bolshevist Jew. He is no German, does not feel German, and he undermines every German 

sentiment: he is a traitor to his country. The whole nation cries out for delivery. My reasons for my 

action are: I loathe Bolshevism; I love my Bavarian countrymen.’ Arco-Valley was hit by four bullets, 

but recovered; sentenced to death but reprieved; his fortune was confiscated for the benefit of Eisner’s 

two widows! The only plausible motive that suggests itself, for Hitler’s arrest of him, is the desire to 

remove witnesses of Hitler’s conduct in Munich in 1918.) 

This régime, like the others, was primarily anti-Gentile and anti-Christian. When threatened by assault 

from without, it arrested hostages, including women, from among the members of a small druidical 

sect (of the kind which always flourishes in South Germany). They were anti-Jewish, and anti- 

Christian! These were shot! 

These things happened twenty-five years ago. But for this war they might have been forgotten. But the 

British Government, by the ill-omened Declaration of December 17th, 1942, has revived their 

memory. For those were Jewish vengeances. 

If we befriend ourselves with such things (and they move behind the scenes again to-day) the events 

which led to this war will become more than ever suspect. Until 1918 none would have believed in 

those hidden men, and that hidden mechanism, which the end of the last war revealed. But it was 

there; the spring trap was set, and suddenly projected the demon king on to the stage. 

None of those evil régimes could have been established but for the weapon of imprisonment (and 

execution) without trial. That alone enabled men, sent from New York to Russia, and from Russia to 

Hungary and Bavaria, to surround themselves only with men of their own kind and rule by terror. And 

that is the danger which Regulation 18B embodies, in this country. Since its powers were granted, a 

subtle campaign has been waged to have them put to new uses. They were first given for use against 

‘Irish terrorists’ (what nonsense that sounds to-day), then enlarged for the benefit of ‘Fifth Columnists’ 

when invasion threatened (this now sounds almost equally silly). To-day, the reasonable precaution of 

1940 has deteriorated into a régime of indefinite imprisonment for people whose very names are 

unknown, still less, of what they are accused. And during this later period a stealthy change has crept 

into the Parliamentary and Press debate about these powers. Many speakers and writers now urge the 

prolongation of this régime and its use against any they dislike; the debate becomes an anti-British 

one. This is the beginning of the evil thing I have described. 

The weapon of wrongful imprisonment commends itself to some people on one ground alone: they 

would like it used for the suppression of that which, because they are too craven or too ill-informed to 

face debate and answer arguments, or because they pursue ulterior motives, they call ‘Anti-Semitism’. 

They seek with this word to dismiss all honest native misgiving and would like to have imprisoned all 

who will not be deterred from expressing those well-founded misgivings. 

The next step, if they could achieve it, would be a law, on the Bolshevist model in Russia, Hungary 

and Bavaria twenty-five years ago, ‘against anti-Semitism’. The Daily Worker, immediately it was 

released from suppression, began to call on Mr. Morrison ‘to put the rats behind bars,’ and the same 

language has been used by a Member of Parliament who miscalls himself ‘Independent’ and by a 

newspaper which pays daily lip-service to Liberal Democracy and gives more space to the wrongs of 

the Jews than any other subject. 

A danger exists here. I remember the Zinovieff letter and saw the Reichstag fire. In November 1942, 

the Daily Worker reported that cries of ‘Perish the Jews’ were used at a public meeting, and at once 

Jewish newspapers urged that ‘Mr. Morrison should act’. The police officials who watched that 

meeting were too honest to connive and reported that no such words were used, so that the 

Government spokesman rejected the demand, which was then raised in Parliament, for ‘steps to be 

taken’ (which meant, that innocent people should be put away). But we cannot always count on honest 

men. Soon afterwards, a more serious thing happened. A bust of Lenin was found bedaubed with the 

letters ‘P.J.’, which are said to stand for ‘Perish Judea;. The Soviet Ambassador made official protest. 

I do not know my own face in a looking-glass, if I do not recognize in that the incident staged to 

further a political aim. We may open our newspapers one day to read of something graver than the 

bust-smearing incident. If we do, it will be the work of the hireling, the agent provocateur. A demand 

would then be raised to suppress all discussion of the Jewish question. If ear were lent to it, we should 

approach the plight of Moscow, Budapest and Munich in 1919. 

Without antipathy against the Jews, but with their own interests constantly in mind, people should 

recall these things. They happened in our time, though not in our island; and this war, which was of 

such dark beginnings, produces the possibility that they might recur. 

The same influence, hidden but powerful, works to confuse our foreign policy and our war aims: 

In November 1942, British and American troops, superbly conveyed and convoyed by our Navy, 

landed in French North Africa, after secret talks with French leaders which ensured that little 

resistance would be offered, or none. This was a rare moment of glory in the war. Who can picture the 

resurrection of France without deep emotion? 

The British people, for two years before this, were confused by much drivel about ‘The men of Vichy’ 

(among whom the only first-class professional traitor was our accomplice of the Hoare-Laval Pact, 

Laval). This was seemingly meant to divert their attention from their own Men of Munich, and from 

the dark omissions of what Mr. Churchill called ‘the astonishing seven months of the phoney war’ and 

of the astonishing seven years before. The men who were left with a prostrate France on their hands, 

and no Channel to save it, while its manhood was held hostage by the enemy, possessed one last hope: 

to temporize during the further development of the war, to hold the French fleet and French African 

armies as a threat over the German head, and to re-enter the war, with those weapons, if and when this 

became possible. 

In November 1942 this happened. Darlan, a French admiral who never forgot the Anglo-German 

Naval Agreement of 1935, made behind the French back, saw the golden chance, facilitated our 

landing, and prepared to fight with us. He was shot, and died, a much-defamed man in this country. 

General Giraud succeeded him, and, under his leadership, France re-entered the war. Giraud was 

violently belittled in our Parliament and Press. Here, misinformation reached a new peak. 

Giraud is knightly in appearance and noble in deed. Few men can boast such a record. He may be 

compared with Bayard, and in the last war would have been a public hero with us. In this, misleaders 

of opinion bedaub his picture with dirt, for their own ends. But for his French troops, who held the 

Germans while the British and Americans moved up, and suffered heavy losses, our men would not, as 

I write, be in a position to drive the last enemies from Africa. 

Henri Honoré Giraud is 63. Three of his sons now fight in Africa, for France and us. He belongs to the 

French officers, who like British officers, ambassadors and journalists, for years before this war vainly 

implored their Government to make known the warlike intentions of Germany and to hasten their 

armaments. In this country the men who thwarted them are still in power; and our policy towards 

France is seemingly bent on effecting the restoration of similar men there. 

Giraud was captured in the last war and escaped to fight again. His renown was born then. In this war 

he fought; he was not of those who surrendered. He was taken, fighting in an armoured car, in the 

forefront of the fight, by Rommel himself. He was imprisoned in a German fortress, Koenigstein, on 

the edge of a precipice 150 feet high. The story of his escape, by means of a rope made from pieces of 

string and cord, belongs to the supreme achievements of the dauntless human soul – and he was not 

young! He reached France after fantastic adventures, and received a secret message telling him of the 

intended Anglo-American landing in North Africa. He went with a son and some officers in a rowing- 

boat to meet the submarine sent to fetch him, transhipped, in a flimsy rubber dinghy which bobbed 

about like a cork in the heavy sea, to a seaplane, and flew to Africa. (How people cheered when Mr. 

Chamberlain actually flew to Munich!) There he made possible the victory in Africa, the recovery of 

the Mediterranean, and the final triumph in Europe which are now in our grasp. 

Giraud was abused and reviled in this island. In the Commons a Mr. Bowles, Member for Nuneaton, 

asked ‘Do the Government agree that the people are not fighting this war to make the world safe for 

Girauds to live in?’ The Daily Herald used the same sneer. 

Could perversion go further? Thus is public opinion misled, about matters vital to our domestic liberty 

and foreign safety. What reason, outside a madhouse, could exist thus to treat a man who rendered us, 

his country and the world such service? 

Once again, the reason was, the question of the Jews. When General Giraud, agreed to receive British 

and American journalists, he was seemingly treated as the representative of a conquered country! The 

Daily Express reported that the first question asked was ‘whether he would continue to discriminate 

against the Jews’. He was ‘obviously nettled’, said The Times. Well may he have been: this man who, 

suffered so much was confronted by people who apparently thought, not of the recovery of France, of 

1,400,000 French prisoners in Germany, or even of victory in the war, but only of this thing. 

In the following weeks the entire British Press spoke as if French North Africa were conquered 

territory in which our commands were law. That French troops held the enemy while we prepared our 

attack, was news quite lost in this distortion of the picture. The British Minister sent to Africa said 

‘Our broad policy is that France shall be free to choose its own form of Government … The attitude 

towards the Jews must be changed because the present attitude will never be acceptable to the British 

and American peoples’. What more blatant contradiction could be uttered, in two sentences? Are we to 

use our armed strength, everywhere we go, among friends or enemies, only in this cause? 

Such a demand was made in the News-Chronicle of February 2nd, 1943. It said:  

General Giraud claims that ‘the Jewish problem’ in North Africa is a matter that 

concerns only France … Everything else must give way, he says, to the need to mobilize 

the resources of France against Germany. Not so. The Allies are fighting for the 

validity of certain principles. One such principle is the right of the Jews to the 

privileges accorded to their fellow citizens. To deny them that right is to accept the 

assumptions of Fascism. Military action must conform to this acceptance of basic 


Here, again, is the subtle perversion of the truth, by means of which the British people are deluded: 

that ‘Fascism’ means, not terror and war, but solely: measures to restrict Jewish influence, and that we 

fight chiefly against this. It is not true. ‘Fascism’ and ‘National Socialism’ are but ‘Bolshevism’ under 

other names. The enemy is tyranny and terror, sometimes used by all-Jewish régimes, sometimes by 

régimes which profess to be anti-Jewish, sometimes by régimes which ignore this question altogether. 

The ‘thing’ we should fight against is terror, as a means of usurping and holding power. 

Thus another danger awaits us in Civvy Street. It is, this stealthy elevation, by every means of public 

delusion, of Jewish claims to the forefront of our war aims, where they do not belong, and the 

consequent threat, which this produces, to ‘Our foreign policy, on which our island safety depends, and 

our domestic liberties. We shall not produce a happy breed, here, by giving paramountcy to a cause 

which is not ours, but an international one: and we shall imperil our safety by it, for we shall produce 

greater hatred of ourselves than ever before, in the countries which after victory must become either 

our friends or enemies, if everywhere we go we use the might of our arms to enforce Jewish aims and 


If these were only ‘equal rights with other citizens’, none could demur. That is the high, and yet modest 

measure of human dignity which we all claim, which Tyranny denies. But Jewish aims go beyond that 

(witness the preferential treatment, over British citizens, given to Jews from Germany in this island 

during this war). They conflict with that unchallengeable statement of the rights of man. 

What are the Jews, and their ambitions? 

The Jews of the world are divided into three main groups: (1) more-or-less assimilated Jews (British 

Jews, and their like elsewhere); (2) ‘Zionist’ Jews (with a foreign policy and territorial ambitions); (3) 

International Jews, with boundless aims. 

The first are the Jews who, in spite of their faith of tribal antagonism, find, through long sojourn and 

adaptability, the way to live on good terms with, and to promote the national welfare of, those national 

communities which have received them. These Jews claim only equal rights with their fellow-citizens, 

on the whole, and regard themselves as members of a religion, not a race. This is the smallest group; 

and (as the example of Poland shows) it tends to become smaller; while present British policy, by 

supporting wider aims, threatens to exterminate it altogether. Anything which promotes the belief that 

great Powers, like this Empire or the United States, are promoting the ambitions of the second or third 

group, immediately diminishes the population of the first group. 

The second group contains those Jews, to whom the Jews of the first group in quiet times are often 

violently opposed, who pursue the aim called Zionism. These are organized, wealthy and powerful. 

They regard themselves as members of a race, and claim a home for it, in the place where this home 

was two thousand years ago, Palestine. It is now inhabited by others, whose immemorial home it also 

is. They can only rule in Palestine by dispossessing the present occupants, on the strength of title- 

deeds lost in antiquity. The claims of this group, then, go far beyond ‘equal rights with other citizens’. 

Indeed, history cannot supply a precedent for this ambition. It is a political claim, involving territory, 

which denies the ‘rights of citizens’ already established there. We have grounds, not less substantial 

and more recent, to claim Saxony. This ambition is indistinguishable from that pursued by Mussolini 

in Africa, Hitler in Eastern Europe, or (I must add) by this country in Africa or India. Such ambitions, 

however, were realized, or attempted, by dint of Italian, German or British arms. The Palestinian 

ambition has been pursued through the use of our arms. 

The third group of Jews are those who, as the events of twenty-five years ago showed, remain 

invisible until the moment of chaos, and pursue a greater ambition: exclusively Jewish rule in white 

countries, on the basis of laws outlawing ‘Anti-Sematism’ and the weapon of terror. Unlike the 

Zionists, who openly pursue their aims, this group is secret and unseen; but its existence was proved in 

Russia, Hungary and Bavaria in 1918-19. (None need waste stamps on telling me that ‘Lenin was not a 

Jew’; I know that one.) Trotsky, Béla Kun and Levine were unknown to mankind, before they 

uncovered, and yet, when chaos arrived, they were suddenly there! The men they chose to work with 

them, the orders they set up, the laws they made and the things they did, cannot be gainsaid. 

In quiet times, these three groups remain distinct. When wars come, populations shift, governments 

fall, and frontiers change, unrest and excitement spread through them all. Many members of the first 

group become uneasy, dreading change. Others, as ambitions become more hopeful, which seemed 

hopeless, move from the first group to the second, the second to the third (witness the baptized Peter 

Agoston of Hungary, who in peace wrote of the menace of Jewry to the Gentile world, and in chaos 

became Béla Kun’s henchman). 

We need dislike none of these groups. We need only know them, what they want, and how this affects 

us. Precisely this indispensable knowledge is withheld from us by a thousand stealthy devices. This is 

the danger of the attempt which is made, to prevent all open discussion of these matters. 

A Socialist Leader (who is Leader of The Opposition, and thus seldom says anything, in the House) 

was reported by the News-Chronicle on November 2nd, 1942, to have told a Jewish audience in 

London that the next 25 years would see ‘the fulfilment of their hopes’! (I doubt whether he told his 

electors that, in 1935. The current talk, then, was about Abyssinia.) 

What are these ‘hopes’ which are to be fulfilled, and how do they impinge on our interests? Mr. 

Greenwood is an important man, and supposedly commits our second greatest Party. What does he 

promise in our name? 

Are they the ‘hopes’ of those Jews who only wish ‘equality of rights with their fellow-citizens’? Of 

those who want Palestine and ‘equality of rights’ everywhere else? ‘Or of those who want 

untrammelled power, based on terror and anti-Gentile legislation (for that is what the early Bolshevists 

obtained, through their weapon, the Communist Party, in three countries)? 

We are not told. So let us examine, severally, the three groups of Jews and see what their ‘hopes’ are. 

The first is that of the Jews long-established by residence in all white countries, who were freed from 

discrimination during last century, when they came in most lands to enjoy that ‘equality of rights’ 

which was then depicted as their utmost desire. The highest places, in State service, professions and 

callings, were opened to them, and many climbed to these pinnacles. 

This bred the first group, of absorbed, if not assimilated Jews: those who felt their interests to be 

vested in the country which received them, and worked for no exclusively Jewish aims, contrary to 

those of the land which became their home. (The great bulk of European Jews, the 3,000,000 Jews in 

the East, as I have shown from the testimony of one, never felt like this. From it came the Bolshevist 

Jews of 1918-20 and the immigrants who bred such discord in Germany after the last war. It includes 

those whom we are now asked to receive, in the name of ‘extermination’.) 

The first group of Jews was well defined, in the House of Commons on August 6th, 1942, by Mr. 

Lipson, the Member for Cheltenham. He opposed the proposal for a Jewish Army, which several rabid 

Gentiles advocated, and said he owned the advantage, over them, of being a Jew. (He pointed out that 

one of them supported the proposal in the belief that it would relieve Jews in his constituency from 

serving in the British Forces! You perceive, gentle reader, the need to watch your Member.) 

Mr. Lipson, who often defends alone the best British and Jewish interests against non-Jewish 

Members of astounding ignorance, prejudice or dependence, and is in imminent danger of being 

pogromed as an anti-Semite, said that previous speakers ‘expressed a view which to my mind is 

harmful in its conception’. This was, the repeated references to ‘the Jewish people‘. He submitted, with 

emphasis, that the Jews were a religious community. The anti-Semites, he said, argued that the Jews, 

were a separate people, and thus justified discrimination against the Jews in various parts of the world. 


this argument is also supported by the views put forward by the Jewish Nationalists, 

who also talk about a Jewish people. You cannot have the best of both worlds. You 

cannot at the same time say, ‘There is a Jewish people, and therefore I am a member of 

the Jewish people and I want to get all the advantages and privileges that that carries 

with it’ and also say ‘I am a British subject, or a Frenchman or an American, with equal 

rights with other citizens’. Therefore, I feel that the Nationalists in their arguments are 

playing with fire, because they are proving the anti-Semitic case that the Jew is an alien 

in every country where he is. It is not true. In this country, thank God, we Jews enjoy 

the privilege of citizenship, the responsibilities of citizenship. 

Mr. Lipson’s speech contains the truth. Here is the ‘British Jew’. He asks to receive no more, or 

perform less than we. No problem exists with him. If this were all the Jews demand, all that our 

Governments intend to claim for them, all would be well. These, then, were not ‘the hopes’ which Mr. 

Greenwood promised to fulfil; the Jews already have so much. 

So we come to the second group of Jews. Mr. Greenwood spoke to Zionists. He, leader of a great 

Party, promised, not what the Jewish religious community wants (in which Mr. Lipson included 

himself) but what the Jewish people want (who, as Mr. Lipson said, justify those self-defensive 

measures against the Jews in various parts of the world). 

That is grave. What do they want, those Zionist Jews who count themselves ‘a nation’, and pursue 

territorial ambitions which can only be reached through British arms? If Mr. Greenwood was 

empowered to make this promise, we are committed to something gravely injurious to British and 

Jewish interests. This affects every British mother and mother’s son. 

Consider the birth of ‘Zionism’. It was still a dream fifty years ago. Since then, one world war has 

brought it to fulfilment; a second now produces still greater ambitions. This opens sinister ways of 

thought, in the search for the origins of these two world wars, and I wish they were closed. It 

enshadows our future. 

At the end of last century, the Jews were come to their heart’s desire, if this was only the status which 

Mr. Lipson defined. But in 1895, Dr. Theodor Herzl, a Jew of Vienna, issued his pamphlet, The 

Jewish State, which called for the establishment of an independent Jewish State ‘in some suitable 

territory (not necessarily Palestine)’ (yet in 1903, when the British Government offered the Zionists 

Uganda, it was refused, at the instance [ed: insistance?] of the present Zionist leader, Dr. Chaim 


A wave of enthusiasm went through Jewry everywhere. A succession of Zionist Congresses was held 

in the next twenty years, and when the First World War began, Zionism was an organized power, 

supported by much wealth, and able to press political aims of the first magnitude through our 

Parliament. The Zionists at no time proposed, or admitted, that the Jews, if they obtained their own 

State, should yield any right of citizenship in other countries

The grant of full equality to the Jews in Europe, therefore, led at one immense jump to the claim of 

those rights and a Jewish State as well. Numerically strong nations have frequently conquered weaker 

ones. The idea of Zionism was that a numerically weak ‘nation’ should conquer territory, through the 

political and armed strength of such great nations. At the same time, Jews should retain the right to 

become Prime Minister of Great Britain, justice of the United States Supreme Court, Foreign Minister 

of Germany, Viceroy of India, Lord Mayor of London or New York, Prime Minister of France – 

anything and everything, everywhere. 

The project is fascinating in its audacity. Most of our public leaders express sympathy for it, though 

none explain its full meaning thus. 

Twenty-two years after the publication of Dr. Herzl’s pamphlet, on November 2nd, 1917, Zionism 

gained its great victory. The British Government issued ‘The Balfour Declaration’, addressed to a 

private citizen, Lord Rothschild. It said:  

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a 

National Home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the 

achievement of that object, it being understood that nothing shall be done which may 

prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, 

or the rights and political status enjoyed by the Jews in other countries

Thus a British Government espoused the most audacious ambition in history: the conquest of 

‘Palestine and undiminished rights everywhere else! The Jews were to retain intact ‘rights and political 

status’ enjoyed elsewhere; the ‘rights and political status’ of the native inhabitants of Palestine, the 

Arabs, were not even mentioned. They were only to have their ‘civil and religious rights’. 

The pretext for this grave undertaking was, that it would win for our cause the Jews in Germany and 

Central Europe. It did not. They, like the established British and American Jews of that time, were 

happy in their countries, and were come to ‘full equality of rights’, of which Disraeli and Lord 

Reading, and many others were the proofs, living and dead. The Declaration was a surrender to the 

second group of Jews (behind whom lurked the third): those who sought to give the flesh-and-blood of 

territory to the doctrine of Jewish Nationalism. The Jews who were pleased, though not placated by it 

(for it only whetted their appetite), were the Jews of Poland and Russia and the more recent arrivals, 

from those parts, in America. If the Jews of Poland, between the wars, refused to feel themselves 

Poles, this was a main reason. From that day anti-Semitism has grown apace, for the Palestinian Arabs 

are Semites, and the campaign waged against them by the Zionists equals, in threats ‘tantamount to 

extermination’, anything uttered by Hitler. 

The memory of the Balfour Declaration, and its fruits, can only arouse deep misgiving about the 

results to which the Declaration of December 17th, 1942, will lead. 

In the last war, too, we professedly fought ‘for the right of small nations to live their own lives’. The 

Arabs of Syria and Palestine lay under Turkish sway and were ruled by Turkish Governors. They 

looked enviously at neighbouring Egypt, where British arms ruled, true enough, but an Egyptian King 

reigned with a Council of Ministers and an Egyptian Parliament. They desired nothing better for 

themselves, and hoped for it, from the First World War. 

Then they heard that something unique in history was to be done to them. The British conqueror 

would neither keep Palestine, nor give it to its inhabitants. It was to be handed, without asking their 

leave, to a third party! What Arab could understand that? This was to be done in the name of a book 

written thousands of years earlier. With as much justice, the Arabs might claim to reoccupy Spain, 

which they held as long as the Jews ever held Palestine. 

British troops conquered Palestine. The war cemeteries at Jerusalem bear witness. In the next twenty 

years, British officials there were left with an almost insoluble problem to solve. These are the words 

of the Mandate:  

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other 

sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under 

suitable conditions. 

This meant to the Arab that he was to be driven from his land. Jewish immigration rose from 30,000 in 

1933 to 61,000 in 1935, and many more Jews entered clandestinely. Land bought from the Arabs for 

Jewish settlement was not allowed, under the conditions of the Jewish National Fund, ‘at any time in 

the future, under any conditions whatever, to be alienated to anyone who is not a Jew’. The extreme 

Zionist, M. Jabotinsky, declared:  

We rely on European Imperialism … Our Imperialism will flourish under the protection 

and support of any power, on condition that this power shall not show mercy to the 

Arab population, and that it uses an iron fist which will not allow them to move under 


Mr. Asher Ginsberg wrote:  

The Jewish people are destined to rule over Palestine and manage its affairs in their 

own way without regard to the consent or non-consent of its own inhabitants. 

Such words are indistinguishable from Hitlerist speeches, save in the substitution of ‘Jewish’ for 


The Zionist case was incessantly upheld in the British Parliament and Press, the subservience of which 

to this influence is a most dangerous sign of our times. Arab delegations to London came empty away; 

Royal Commissions went out, verified the need for Arab alarm, and returned to make proposals which 

were ignored. The Arabs were denied any means of stating their case. The Mufti of Jerusalem truly 

told one of the Royal Commissions, ‘We have not the least power, nothing to do with the 

administration of the country, and we are completely unrepresented’. 

For twenty years, British rule strove only to prevent the Arabs from gaining any kind of elected 

representation until the Jews were in a majority. The Legislative Council, promised in 1930, was never 

formed. In 1935 the British Government undertook to form it; the Arabs (who increased from 600,000 

in 1918 to 925,000 in 1936, while the Jews increased from 53,000 to 400,000) were to have received 

seats in proportion to their share of the total population. Immediately, a violent Jewish outcry was 

raised in this country and America. A parliamentary debate followed, in which the Arab case was 

completely ignored – and the Legislative Council was postponed indefinitely. Mr. Amery, now a 

Minister, wrote that ‘To go on refusing representative government until the Jews are in a majority is an 

almost impossible policy’. The policy has been pursued. 

This policy produced, between the World Wars, an explosion of feeling among this people ‘liberated’ 

by us which involved us in warfare similar to that waged by Mussolini against the Abyssinians’, and 

which a whole Army Corps, with modern weapons, was not able to quell. That event reveals the future 

dangers which will be brewed for us, if our leaders give improper prominence to Zionist aims. The 

radius of fellow-feeling for the Arabs of Palestine spreads far beyond the borders of Palestine; it 

reaches into Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and even India. 

The power wielded by organized Zionism over the British Parliament and Press is only realized by 

those who have served the British Government in Palestine, or by writers who discuss both sides of 

the case. The lives of British administrators in Palestine were made so difficult by the knowledge that 

any effort to be just to both Arab and Jew would forthwith bring on them virulent attacks in 

Parliament, that they longed to reach the age of pension and retirement. They were ruthlessly 

pogromed for the smallest hesitation in yielding to every Zionist wish. Sir Ronald Storrs – whose 

book, Zionism and Palestine (Penguin Books, 1940, being a chapter from his reminiscences 

Orientations, Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1937), gives an excellent account, written with painstaking 

fairness to both sides – says that after the Easter riots of 1921, ‘I had to endure such a tempest of 

vituperation in the Palestine and World Hebrew Press that I am still unable to understand how I did 

not emerge from it an anti-Semite for life’. Indeed, since the Balfour Declaration was made, Zionism 

has become one of the greatest sources of anti-British virulence in the world. 

To-day, the British Government is supposed to have perceived the danger which its actions in the last 

twenty-five years have brewed in Palestine, to have restricted land sales from Arabs to Jews, and to 

have restricted Jewish immigration to the figure of 75,000 for the five years 1939-44, after which ‘no 

further Jewish immigration will be permitted unless the Arabs of Palestine are prepared to acquiesce in 

it’. But the ‘extermination’ campaign has now been opened, clearly with the aim, among others, of 

destroying this promise. If that happens, we shall provoke new hatred for ourselves. We may be 

prevented from hearing the Arab case, but the Arabs know for what purpose ‘a Jewish Army’ is 

proposed, and they remark that many Members of Parliament support the proposal. The bitter dispute 

in Palestine is only suspended, during the war, and after it will flare up, if British policy does not 

administer Palestine in future with more honourable regard for the interests of the native inhabitants. It 

is no interest of ours, to conquer foreign lands in the interest of others; and we already live under the 

reproach contained in T.E. Lawrence’s words, in Seven Pillars of Wisdom:  

Honour: had I not lost that a year ago when I assured the Arabs that England kept her 

plighted word? 

For what are the real aims of Zionism? They grow and grow. 

Just as the grant of ‘equal rights’ in Europe produced the demand for a National Home, so the grant of 

a National Home now produces the demand for all Palestine, and more. Lord Wedgwood, that 

foremost spokesman of the Zionists in this country, in his Testament to Democracy violently attacks 

the British Administration in Palestine, saying it has hampered the Jews at every turn, left them almost 

unprotected among Arab looters, stopped their immigration, prohibited their land purchases, and taken 

in taxes ‘the little money they saved from Hitler to supply Arabs who murder and a British 

Administration which denies them justice’. Jewish freedom has been sabotaged, ‘crypto-Fascism’ rules 

in the Near East and lurks in Whitehall. Whitehall would sooner the Jews drowned than landed in 

Palestine, and ‘the mob of Arab plunderers and murderers use as their slogan, “The Government is 

with us”‘. 

(This is typical of Zionist references to Britain since the Balfour Declaration was made and the 

National Home established.) 

Lord Wedgwood proposes a larger Palestine (embracing the Hauran, Transjordan and Sinai) as a self- 

governing State of his ‘Democratic Federal Union’, immigration to be unrestricted and Jewish police to 

keep order. Then the Jews ‘would soon be in a majority’, and the State would ‘develop as peacefully 

and justly as the State of New York’. Lord Wedgwood would like the rest of Syria and Irak to be 

reoccupied by Turkey! America should either enforce this arrangement or take our place as 

Mandatory, ‘for as Mandatory we have utterly failed, even though we have failed through treachery’. 

That is, two Arab kingdoms created in fulfilment of our promise in the last war should be destroyed, 

Palestine, Syria, Transjordan and the Hauran handed to the Jews, and the Arab race enslaved and made 

homeless (‘exterminated’, perhaps) as a blow for democracy. Here is the printed, and even proud 

proposal that we should do something worse than we did at Munich, after the new world war ‘for 

freedom’ and ‘for the liberty of small nations’. 

At that rate, these wars cease to be funny. None need dismiss these words as fantastic, because the 

only thing that now remains of what we built after the last war is the Jewish National Home in 

Palestine. The new aim is all Palestine, and much more! 

As this war progresses, Jewish aims tend to domimte the clamour. The newspapers which particularly 

lend themselves to this clamour (as you will perceive if you follow them closely, gentle reader) 

already attack all the other Things which we were urged and scourged to fight for. They uphold the 

power of capricious imprisonment, in this country. They deride and abuse Giraud, who resurrects 

France. They attack Michailovitch, who fights on in the Serb mountains. They attack Poland, on 

behalf of which we ostensibly went to war, and say Russia must have half of that country. Yet our 

honour is more deeply involved in this case than any other; we might have lost the Battle of Britain 

but for the help of Polish airmen. 

The second group of Jews, then, the ‘Zionists’ who consider themselves, not as a religious community, 

but as a nation with territorial aims and speak of any who stand between them and these aims (in the 

first place, the Arabs) exactly as Hitler spoke of the Czechs and Poles, who wish to form a Jewish 

Army and whose aspirations have already involved us in one war – this section of world Jewry pursues 

ambitions going very far beyond ‘equal rights with other citizens’ and cutting very deeply into our 

interests. Only through us, can they attain these aims; they wish to use us, and yet abuse us. If you, 

gentle reader, take the pains to read the references made by Zionist spokesmen to this country, its 

officials and its soldiers, you will find in them charges of hypocrisy, treachery, bias, cowardice, and 

every meanness. I have enough to fill a book. Their power over the British Parliament and Press, 

nevertheless, has in the past been sufficient to prevent any view but theirs from gaining a hearing. 

Indeed, Zionist ambitions, and the range of those who support them, widen so greatly, as we have 

seen, that they approach those of the third section of Jewry, which works in secrecy but has boundless 

aims. After the last war, we might have dismissed the thought of that invisible but powerful section as 

a nightmare. But to-day we cannot. The British Government’s Declaration of December 17th, by 

identifying itself only with the aim of Jewish vengeance, has reawakened the memory of those days. 

Those three all-Jewish regimes of 1918 existed; that was no nightmare, and it cannot be scouted by the 

shouting of ‘Anti-Semite’. Here, in our Europe, close at hand, only twenty-five years ago, we saw 

three, exclusive, all-Jewish, anti-Gentile, terrorist Governments. Peace, and the passing of the years, 

banished two of them and modified the third, I believe, which in any case is not our concern, but that 

of the Russians. But now we have a world war again, with chaos lurking behind it, and need to be 


In my opinion, British interests are only compatible with those of the first group of Jewry, which 

desires equal rights of citizenship, and accepts equal duties. History has repeatedly shown that these 

form only a part of any one Jewish population, anywhere, and our interest therefore does not lie in 

promoting mass movements of Jews to this country. Our influence should be strictly confined to 

promoting the equality of citizenship for Jews in the countries where they now are, and should not be 

used to acquire for them in other countries that privileged status over other citizens which they too 

often work to obtain, and of which we have set a lamentable example in this country by exempting 

Jewish immigrants from military service while making them free of all employment vacated by native 

citizens who serve. As to the second group of Jews, the Zionists, the ill-worded commitment of the 

Balfour Declaration has involved us in an almost insoluble problem, but we should on no account be 

misled into doing more than to secure the National Home in Palestine, under the most rigorous 

trusteeship of the rights and interests of the Arab population. To promote both Arab and Jewish 

interests in Palestine is not an impossible aim; but the virulence of Zionist propaganda, and the 

extravagances of its innumerable spokesmen in our Parliament and Press, do more than any other 

thing to make it impossible. 

As for the third section of world Jewry, the existence of which was clearly shown by those events of 

twenty-five years ago, and the continued existence of which many current signs indicate, its ambitions 

for exclusively Jewish rule, based on terror, are directly opposed to ours in every possible way. 

This is one of the major problems of our Civvy Street to come, one which seriously affects our future. 

The gravest thing about it is the way in which knowledge of it is withheld from the public, and open 

debate suppressed, by a thousand secret and stealthy devices, of which a great deal can be said, one 

day. Public discussion, however, will not much longer be denied, and will be more useful if it is 

conducted on a basis of authentic and impartial information than on one of ignorant prejudice. 

For what is the present situation of this matter? The Second World War drags on, and after nearly four 

years of it, our leaders like to tell us blandly that ‘a long war’ yet awaits us. The people doggedly 

shoulder all burdens and tell themselves that one day victory will be won, and that after it The Things 

they think they have fought for will be honoured at a Peace Conference. They should know, from the 

experience of 1918, that victory may bring them the exact opposite of everything they are told to fight 

for. In this case, one major result of the war has already been achieved, under cover of the war and 

unnoticed by themselves. A great movement of Jews from abroad to this country and the British 

Empire has been effected. Through the compulsion of native citizens, to vacate their employment and 

fight or labour elsewhere, these exempt newcomers have been established here in prosperity, in breach 

of all the pledges which were made at their coming; and a move is now in progress to have them 

naturalized. The very thing has been done which was done in Germany, Austria and Hungary in the 

last war, and bred such discontent there. A Jewish writer from Hungary, now a naturalized Briton, 

whom I previously quoted, said of 1918 in Hungary:  

The Boys did not or could not settle down; their jobs had been filled long ago by the 

people at home. 

Now, while we still toil towards victory and the peace conference, with ever-increasing burdens on our 

backs, two new aims are being pursued: the first is, to bring a second contingent of Jews from Europe 

to this country, while The Boys still fight, and similarly establish them here; the second, and in this 

our enemies vie with our own statesmen, is to establish a Jewish State, a thing different from and 

much greater than the ‘National Home in Palestine’ which is the sole remaining achievement of the 

First World War. 

By the Declaration of December 17th, 1942, in which our leaders gave our name to the pledge of an 

exclusively Jewish retribution, we have conjured up the memory of Jewish vengeances already 

experienced in Europe, and committed ourselves even more than by the ill-fated Balfour Declaration 

of 1917 to the cause of Jewish Nationalism or Imperialism, which is not ours, which directly conflicts 

with ours, which has already implicated us in one Arabian war, and which encourages settled Jews 

everywhere to feel themselves, not as citizens of the countries they inhabit, but as members of a nation 

with territorial aims. 

Our policy has gone much too far towards identification with Jewish Nationalist aims, and this already 

confuses the entire picture of the war and of The Things for which it is actually being fought. Our 

foremost public spokesmen seem the victims of a Dervish-like obsession or infatuation in this question 

which blinds them to our own national and patriotic interests. In this matter, our policy needs to be 

rectified without further delay, and the intolerable confusion which has arisen to be cleared away, so 

that the people of this country may yet hope that they fight this new war for some native ideal and 

interest and for the cause of humanity – not for that of one power-seeking group as against another. 

Readers may find some enlightenment in extracts from letters written to me by Jews belonging, as I 

classify them, to the three groups of Jewry, respectively:  

I hate with a deep loathing these smug bandboys and impresarios, these black 

marketers, these fungoids who now, thank heaven, tremble once more in America, and 

their whole loathsome brood, but I beg of you please try to differentiate. Remember 

people like me, people of the East End who have ‘taken it’ side by side with your John 

Londoners and people who do love England sincerely and gratefully. Please don’t 

condemn us all, though I suppose if Jews were to be condemned because of those about 

whom you write, then I too would be condemned – I stand by my faith. 


From a British Jew, an officer serving in the Air Force. 


Accept my best thanks for your book. As a Jew and as a Palestinian, I would wish that 

the truth, which you have found and laid down in your book, be known to the world. 

This truth is not pleasant, but good and useful; the more it will be known, the earlier the 

world will understand its own need for a Jewish National Home and for its completion, 

and the more we shall understand, what mistakes and blunders should be avoided. On 

the other hand, those Jews who did not yet understand the meaning of Jewish history, 

will learn from your book (and why) they must write off European Jewry and that they 

cannot ‘invest’ their thoughts in its preservation or even restoration. 


From a Zionist Jew, formerly in Germany, now in Palestine. 

The letter is flattering, but the writer may not fully appreciate my feeling that the interests of no 

people, either British or Arab, should be sacrificed to make a Jewish National Home. I think all could 

prosper together, but the rapacious and vituperative methods of Zionist leaders offer a great obstacle.  

To Douglas Reed, the Enemy of England as well as of the Jews. The reply of the City 

of London to your drivel on anti-Semitism in your idiotic writings – the new Jewish 

Lord Mayor!!! How pleased you must be – you fool! 


‘Say that again’, I said to Doktor Farisy as we walked through the streets of Prague, ‘I didn’t quite 


‘One of our Rabbis here’, he repeated, ‘is preaching in the synagogues that Hitler is the Jewish 

Messiah, because he will cause all those countries of the world to be opened to the Jews, which are 

closed to them now.’ 

Thoughts which long wandered at random through my mind suddenly, fell into ordered procession. 

‘Do you know, Herr Doktor’, I said, ‘I’ve known that for a long time, without realizing it. Thank you 

for putting it into words. But my country will have to look after its own interests.’ 

‘Why?’ he said. 

‘You know very well that you haven’t a single non-Jew on the staff of your newspaper’, I said, ‘and 

you’ll do the very same thing in England, or Kenya, or wherever you go to.’ 

He looked at me warily, with veiled eyes, opened his mouth, and then shut it, without comment. 

We walked on together.  
















Chapter Fourteen 


We mean to hold our own – MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL 

April 1942. I went along the Strand, talking to a lovely and zestful companion. At last, we emerged 

from the worst of all winters – worse even than that of 1940. The air was crisp, the sun warm, the sky 

blue. London, the dreariest of cities when it waited aimless, confused, tired and lethargic for the war to 

begin, was now alive. The traces of bombing gave dramatic meaning to the scene. The air was rid of 

much of the smoke and petrol fumes. The streets were bright with uniforms, and brisk with the feeling 

of a common task and purpose. The war still lay in the doldrums, but the hope that will not be kept 

down any more than the rising sun, began to stir in all hearts again. 

The news of Sir Stafford Cripps’s failure to reach agreement with the Indians was just come, and 

another problem, which we shall encounter in Civvy Street, began to take shape. We passed a score of 

Indians, in khaki uniforms and khaki turbans. I thought, watching them, how great a thing this would 

be: to justify our rule in India, as we have regained much of the goodwill of the Afrikaners, won the 

allegiance of the French Canadians, restored hope to the Maoris, and paved the way, if we are wise 

after the war, even to reconciliation with the Irish. 

The Indians were fine and soldierly figures, and their appearance won murmurs of admiration. (But so 

did the ‘Kaiser’s Bosniaks’, those befezzed darlings of the Viennese. Proudly the Austrians watched 

those living Emblems of Empire, as they marched along the Ringstrasse in 1918; a few months later, 

they, Bosnia and the Empire were gone. We need not let such history repeat itself.) 

While my shoes were cleaned, and the shoeblack told us of changes seen during thirty-five years at his 

pitch in the Strand, we watched the passing show. Some fine lads in battledress went by: ‘Norge’, said 

their shoulder-tabs. We saw the square-topped caps of the Poles, the Belgian tricolour in the cockade 

on an officer’s cap, the long capes and gay képis of Fighting Frenchmen, Greek and Netherlands naval 

officers, some Czechs, even three Russian soldiers, and a few Americans, as yet uneasy in their 


Then a flying officer came to have his shoes cleaned. He was dark-skinned, and his shoulder tabs said 

‘Jamaica’. Few Englishmen know the Empire they love, and I for one am not stirred by the Imperial 

romanticism of a Kipling; I think it spurious. But the feeling of kinship and allegiance in peoples so 

far away, of which this was a vivid token near at hand, moves something very deep in me, and I 

suppose in others. The world has never known anything like the British Empire, or anything which 

could bring so much good to it, if we mend our ways after this war. 

As we went along the Strand again, other names passed us, on the shoulders of men: Rhodesia, Malta, 

Cyprus, Newfoundland … And we saw, with glad surprise, for we knew the Australians were busy 

elsewhere, an Australian slouch hat. What memories it revived! Then we saw, in the Strand, Canada, 

New Zealand and South Africa; we did not go until we found them all. 

A grand and glorious morning with the sun shining. The picture of the Strand faded, and I saw men 

from this island going out, long ago, in the great sailing ships, with love in their hearts for the land 

which denied them acres and opportunity, to found new countries far away; I saw their great 

grandsons coming back in the troopships. I saw them at Vimy and Gallipoli and Delville Wood, in 

Greece and Crete and Burma and Libya…. 

To me, the greatest moment in this war was that which brought the prompt succour of the Dominions 

at the outbreak. They did not know how desperate was our plight, any more than the people of this 

island knew, and did not ask: they came. They have suffered as bitterly as we, and have more cause to 

complain than we, for, though they govern their own affairs, the course of the British Empire in 

foreign policy, in the great decisions which produce peace or war, is still set by the British 

Government, and here lay the blame. They could have said, ‘This is your affair; you made the bed’. 

They did not. The tie held fast. 

The British Empire was vindicated by its free children. I can never forget the new hope I felt, after 

nearly seven years of growing despair, when I saw those hats and shoulder-tabs from the Dominions. 

To-day, some people, especially in America, announce that the British Empire must he broken up after 

the war. What, after such a demonstration as that! It was justified in 1939. The offspring lands held to 

us even in calamity.  

We have not entered this war for profit or expansion, but only for honour and to do our 

duty in defending the right. Let me, however, make this clear, in case there should be 

any mistake about it in any quarter: we mean to hold our own. I have not become the 

King’s first Minister to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. 


Mr. Winston Churchill on November 10th, 1942. 

‘We hold our own!’ The phrase is badly chosen. We do not hold the great Dominions; they held to us. 

We cannot live without them. But that part of the Empire which we hold, we lost, where it was 

attacked. These are vain words then; we have to learn how to hold our Empire. 

For what is the British Empire? This island is the foundation. Built on it, are four great columns, the 

self-governing Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Then comes the 

enormous superstructure: India, and scores of Colonies, Protectorates, Mandated Territories, and 

theoretically independent States where British arms actually rule. 

When the island foundation threatened to crack, the four columns still held. The floor may be repaired 

yet. But the weakening was enough to upset much in the superstructure. Hong Kong, Singapore, 

Malaya, and Burma, all went. The British Empire was vindicated in its main component parts, those 

which govern themselves and by free choice held to us. In those places where we still exclusively 

governed and a hard test was applied, the structure broke (,the reasons have been shown, earlier in this 

book, in quotations from many writers who knew those places in peace and war). 

The lesson is clear. We did not justify our rule in those parts of the Empire which we hold – which do 

not hold to us of their own will. That which, in the Empire, we may call ‘our own’, held to us. That 

which we may by no means call ‘our own’, though we held it, did not hold to us. The faults in our way 

of ruling such lands and people, arise from our order of Enclosure and Exclusion in this island. The 

men who emerge from this filter go to distant tropical countries and create an Enclosure there. Within 

it, they reproduce the life they knew at home. They cannot or will not mix and merge, even with their 

own breed, still less with others. When the test comes, they are swept away, with their golf clubs, 

bridge circles, cocktail parties, illustrated weeklies, and the whole trivial paraphernalia. 

‘To hold our own’, therefore, is a dangerous precept to take with us into Civvy Street. To maintain the 

British Empire, we need better methods. We return again to the beginnings of our problem. Consider 

the future from what aspect you will: you come back always to this island and its order of life. 

Ensure our island safety, through foreign policy and armed strength, and the four imperial columns 

rest secure. Revive a happy breed, and you produce men vigorous and venturous enough to rule over 

the lands which are not our own, but which we hold, and which thus could be brought to see their 

happiness and prosperity in membership of the British Empire. 

The problem is always the same and always simple. Our past rulers might have been possessed, by the 

way they worked against these plain rules and seemingly sought, by their every act, to imperil the 

firmness of our island base, the strength of the four Imperial columns, and the balance of the Colonial 

superstructure. Maintain all those, and you may keep the world at peace for an age. What influence, 

then, of malignancy or idiocy, worked to hinder emigration between the lands of the Empire? 

The tie that held, in 1939, was that of blood in the main. Why cut the bloodstream, the source of life 

and allegiance? The great Dominions are empty of human beings. Each, save New Zealand, is larger 

than this island. All are lands of unlimited possibility. Canada is bigger than the United States (without 

Alaska), but contains only as many people as greater London. Australia and New Zealand together 

hold as many inhabitants as London, though they comprise as much territory as all Europe. The white 

population of South Africa, a land of abundant promise, is a quarter of that of London. Is that what 

‘holding our own’ means: vast, unpeopled Dominions; inter-migration thwarted by all manner of 

devices; and, in this country, mass unemployment or forced labour? 

Migration, or interchange, is the lifeblood of the Empire. To hinder it is so patently dangerous to the 

whole organism, that it becomes incomprehensible. But it appears even sinister when, during the 

absence of British and Imperial manhood at the war, a great move is made to transplant hundreds of 

thousands, or millions, of Eastern Europeans to this country and the Dominions! Here you see, behind 

the shining shape of The Things for which we supposedly fight, the shadow of The Things for which 

we may be actually fighting. 

The prosperity of the Dominions, like that of America, was founded on the work of people mainly 

from this country, Holland, and the Scandinavian lands, who went out with little money and created 

wealth by enterprise and diligence. In those days, a man might move freely about his world. Between 

the wars, emigration was so much obstructed that the process almost stopped. 

The condition, that a newcomer must bring a stated sum of money, was not the greatest obstacle. In 

olden times, most men saved something to take with them. The order of repression and 

discouragement, which has been built up in this country to-day, killed the spirit of enterprise in the 

rising generation. 

But who can understand British and Dominion Governments which joined to prevent inter-migration? 

A main danger to our future is that of the halted breed, and a great cause of this, I conjecture, has been 

the hindrance of free movement about the Empire. A committee of our enemies could not have 

devised better means to enfeeble us and imperil our future. 

During seven of the eight years before this war, emigration from this country almost ceased. Such 

movement as there was to the Dominions, was of non-British emigrants, and in one case at least this 

was the direct result of British Government action. ‘Assisted passages’ to Australia were suspended 

between 1930 and 1938! When they were resumed, until August 1939, only 881 of the 10,992 persons 

who were helped to go to Australia were British! Nearly all the remaining 10,111 were Jews from 


A former British Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Galway, testified in The Times of March 

10th, 1940, to  

… the disastrous effects of the Government’s policy in this very important matter. If this 

policy is persisted in, it will not take more than a couple of generations before 

Australia’s proud boast of a population with 95 per cent of British stock is silenced. 0ne 

of the many evils resulting from the substitution of alien for British stock is that the 

industries are by degrees falling under foreign control. For instance, the sugar and 

peanut industries are already fairly well in the hands of the alien, while the fruit 

industry is going that way … the average Member of Parliament is woefully ignorant on 

the subject of migration … I humbly contend that it is up to the Government to do all in 

their power to save Australia from being swamped by people of alien race. 

Sir Abe Bailey gave a similarly alarming report about South Africa, in The Times in September 1939. 

News of the same kind has come from Canada. 

The average Member of Parliament is not ‘woefully ignorant’ on the subject of migration. He has 

become indifferent to the subject of British migration and is too susceptible to powerful and organized 

international interests which seek to promote non-British migration. The columns of Hansard for years 

past contain hardly any allusion to British migration. The very pages burst with pleas for the 

admission to this country and to the Dominions of non-British emigrants. 

This is an anti-patriotic thing. It is a direct blow at the foundations of the Empire, and one aimed at 

them by the elected representatives of our people during the absence of our men at the war. We cannot 

‘hold our own’ by such methods; on the contrary, this means that we deliberately cast our own away. 

This thing, if it continues, will throw an unpleasant light on the origins of the present war. Here is 

another engagement in the Battle of England, which must be fought if the future is not to be darker 

than the past. We have seen that our Parliament will not help us unless it is made to; from some 

madness, or ulterior prompting, it seeks to cleave the bloodstream between this mother island and the 

offspring Dominions, and to fill the artery with an Ersatz fluid. 

The Battle in England, against these anti-patriotic ideas, and against the international interests which 

foster them, will be bitter. It would be easier, if the Dominions themselves would help progressive and 

patriotic thought here:  

The Commonwealth Government is making plans to increase Australia’s population 

from 7,000,000 to 20,000,000 after the war. Next to English-speaking people, people 

from Holland, Denmark and Sweden will be most welcome. Employment giving a 

decent standard of living could be provided for at least 20,000,000 people. 


A message from Sydney to The Daily Telegraph, January 1943.[47] 

That is a very bright ray of hope (but if you will follow our Parliamentary debates, gentle reader, you 

will find no discussion of such things as this, but only a loud clamour about aliens). This is sound 

Australian and sound Imperial policy. This plan would achieve, at a single stroke, a great measure of 

betterment for Australia, this country and the Empire. It is a health-giving and patriotic idea, which 

would invigorate the breed in that far Continent, in this island, and strengthen the bond between. New 

Zealand, which shares the same recent memory of imminent peril, would follow suit. An 

Administration in this country, which was moved by genuine Imperial and British sentiment, could 

gain the support of the Union Government in South Africa for a similar undertaking. As for Canada, 

the greatest Dominion, this is what a Canadian lady wrote in The Daily Telegraph on January 15th, 


Canada, my country, is very short of population. For the past two decades it has 

become almost static. After the war it will be less. We have become a ‘two-child family’ 

nation. In a small country this might be ideal; in Canada it is tragic. In recent years we 

have had little of the better type of immigrant from the British Isles, and if Canada is to 

remain British we shall have to have more of them, otherwise we must throw open our 

doors to all Europe once more. When the Beveridge Plan is put into operation the best 

of the younger generation will leave England, the independent, educated, enterprising 

and adventurously progressive will seek a free life elsewhere. I hope they will come to 

Canada; we need them; though, of course, most of the other Dominions will welcome 

them also. We shall not have any Beveridge schemes in Canada. There we must all 

stand or fall on our own merits, which is just what the Almighty intended we should. 

Of what avail is it to speak of ‘holding our own’ while this vital question is ignored and our Parliament 

and Press champion only the cause of alien immigrants? We cannot hold our own island, much less 

the Empire, unless we reinvigorate the land, restore respect for British traditions, open the doors of 

opportunity, rebuild home and family life, revive the breed, check the drift to cynicism and resume 

inter-migration within the Empire. 

Our Government often proclaims what it will do after the war. It has spoken of ‘four freedoms’ which 

we are to enjoy. It has never spent a word, that I have read, on emigration. Will these ‘four freedoms’ 

then, include the freedom which between the wars was nearly gone, which at the end was enjoyed 

more by aliens than by Britishers, to go to one of the kindred lands founded by their forefathers? 

British governments, before this war, at one and the same time kept our island unarmed, and hindered 

emigration to the Dominions. Can any find rhyme or reason in that? it seems to add up to hatred of this 

island and its people; if it was not that, it was a thing of such mad idiocy that you may wonder what 

British governments are for and shudder at the thought that they seek to gain more power, and divest 

themselves still further of public control, after this war. 

The story of our recent past makes it important that such words as ‘we mean to hold our own’ should 

be clearly defined. How do our rulers propose to ensure that our own shall continue to hold to us? 

They cannot do it without resuming inter-migration; or by preventing British and promoting alien 


Here is another foremost objective in the Battle In England. Revive a happy breed here, and encourage 

the resumption of breeding and inter-migration both in this island and in the Dominions, and we shall 

be fit to hold the lesser parts of the British Empire. 

… We stood and watched the Australian in his slouch hat. ‘How the girls loved those hats in the last 

war’, I said. ‘I love them now‘, said Lorelei. ‘Here, come on’, I said. ‘Keep your Imperial enthusiasm 

within bounds. You are a piece of this old island, and not to be leased, lent, or let go. I consider my 

own hat most becoming.’ ‘Do you’, she said, looking at it. ‘Is that the one you bought in Prague?’ ‘It is’, 

I said, ‘the only hat that ever loved me, the one that was run over in Budapest and rescued from the sea 

by a Polish sailor at Gdynia, and bombed at a cleaner’s in London, and found again by me on a salvage 

dump, and now that it has a hole in the crown, which parts from the brim, old ladies try to give me 

pennies in the street, but I never will desert this hat.’ ‘I love it’, she said. ‘That’s better’, said I. ‘But I’d 

like to steal one of those Australian hats for myself, or one of these, look!’ I looked, and saw a New 

Zealander, who came towards us. At the next corner stood two extremely good-looking Canadian 

Scots; their gaze told their opinion of Lorelei. ‘Isn’t it a wonderful feeling’, she said, ‘when you see 

these men from all parts of the world, and feel that they belong to us and we to them. I never felt the 

British Empire until now. You know how dull and blindfold we grow up in this country. To see them 

makes you feel so good and safe and part of something.’ ‘You’re quite safe’, I said brusquely, ‘in my 

company, and you belong to me, as Glasgow to Will Fyffe.’ 

Then, just as we approached the doorway of Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, two exceptionally tall, stalwart 

and handsome men, in dark blue uniforms came towards us. ‘I say‘, said Lorelei, ‘what are these?’ 

‘Australian Air Force’, I said tersely, ‘and if you don’t stop talking British Empire now I’ll make you 

pay for this lunch. The time is come to change the subject.’ 

She grinned and squeezed my arm. ‘I love to rile you’, she said.  

























Chapter Fifteen 


December 1942. I sat in a train, bound for Reading, and opposite sat a newspaper with two legs; the 

upper half of the forked radish was hidden behind those outspread pages. My eyes were unseeingly 

fixed on the football results thus displayed before me, and I came out of my reverie with a start when 

these columns suddenly collapsed, as if Samson pulled them down, and revealed a red face that wore a 

smile of foolish bliss. 

‘Social security’, it said, ‘that’s what we want and we’ll get it. They won’t be able to play about with us 

after this war. The people will see to that. Social security!’ 

‘Social security’, I said, absent-mindedly, ‘Ah, you speak of Bismarck’s invention’. 

‘Bismarck!’ he said, staring. ‘What’s Bismarck got to do with it?’ 

‘Don’t you remember’, I said, ‘after the 1870 war against the French, when Bismarck was getting 

Germany ready for the first world war, the German people grew restless, from an intuition of what was 

coming, and the German Socialist Party increased rapidly. Bismarck saw that they would have to be 

kept quiet, if the preparations for the next war were not to be disturbed, so he threw them a ball to play 

with. He called it “Social Security”. Or rather, he called it “The Social Service State”. But it was the 

same thing: you know, health and unemployment insurance, pensions, freedom from want, the-whole 

bag of tricks. After Bismarck was sacked, the Kaiser took up the game, and the Socialists greatly 

enjoyed themselves, throwing the ball to him and having it thrown back to them. Meanwhile, the war 

simmered nicely on the hob, and was served up, piping hot, in 1914. The German Socialists voted for 

it. They stood up with all the others, when three cheers were called for the Kaiser, though they didn’t 

actually cheer. The distinction was most important. Our own Socialists are good at the same kind of 

thing. Ah, dearie, dearie, me’, I said, wagging my head sagely, ‘that was a famous victory.’ 

‘What are you talking about?’ said red-face? 

‘Bismarck’, I said. 

‘But I’m talking about the Beveridge Report’, he said. 

‘I thought it was the same thing’, said I. 

He glanced at the communication cord. ‘But I’m talking about Social Security’, he persisted. 

‘So was I’, I said. ‘But I was thinking about the security of society.’ 

‘What’s the difference?’ he asked. 

‘Just the difference between house and foundation’, I said. ‘A secure society is the foundation. Social 

security, if it exists at all, is a house which can only be built on that foundation. Try building one 

without laying a foundation: it will collapse about you. The trick has been played upon you twice 

already. Now you applaud the thimble-rigger as he sets his thimbles a third time.’ 

‘I don’t see that’, he said, with a look of anguish. 

‘You are resolved not to’, I said, ‘or you will not take the pains.’ 

‘I get out here’, he said, hurriedly. 

‘That’s what they always say’, said I…. 

Picture to yourself, gentle reader, social security in its highest form. Imagine that you are a passenger 

in a sinking ship. You do not mind, because you are secure! You are locked in a watertight cabin with 

food, drink and oxygen to last you your natural life. When you die, you may say, ‘Well it was a bit dull 

for me, but by Neptune I was Socially Secure! None can gainsay that!’ 

Imagine galley-slaves, beneath the knout, singing ‘With a long, long pull and a strong, strong pull, all 

together for freedom, pull!’ So does the clamorous chorus sound to me which we hear to-day. It is a 

nightmare of human delusion. While the foundations of our society are being undermined, they sing of 

the house they will build: ‘Social security!’ 

But the foundations are being smashed – family life, truth, loyalty, faith and hope. This is worse even 

than the killing, in war: the ruination of the lives and faith of many who remain alive. This is the evil 

that lives after. It is the foremost reason why we cannot afford more of these wars, why the paramount 

need of this island for the next century, is peace. 

If you wander through a maze, every wrong turning you take brings you back to the beginning; though 

you travel far, you advance not at all. To get out, you must find the one right way. That is our case. 

We are in a maze of anxieties about our future. All the turnings save one are false. Only one way out, 

into a clear future, exists. It is, to make this island safe against any foreign enemy, first; and to build a 

house of freedom in it, second. Without that, the quest for social security is a false turning. Ignore the 

foundation, and social security is either a house of cards or a prison. 

Thus the Beveridge Report, good or bad, is a secondary, not the foremost thing, and the public failure 

to perceive that is dangerous. 

Let me give one vivid illustration of my meaning. The higher old age pensions which it proposes, are 

to reach their peak twenty years after its adoption. Twenty years was exactly the space of time needed 

to bring about this war! But what social security has an old age pensioner, or any other, in such a war? 

Again, in twenty years, according to Sir William Beveridge, we shall be ‘in a panic about the 

population of this country’. That is, we shall offer a more tempting prey than ever, to some predatory 

enemy, in twenty years’ time, if our rulers continue to depress the national spirit, weaken the national 

will and neglect the national defences. 

Then, how can you achieve social security, unless you make this island secure,[48] restore faith to its 

people, revive the desire to breed, and give them freedom to work and emigrate. 

If these things were not done, the edifice of social security, before it was even completed, would be 

bombed, or the inmates of it would become the captives of a foreign conqueror. What security is that? 

Social security cannot be attained without national and Imperial security – and no Beveridge Report 

about national and Imperial security has been issued, nor can our governments be trusted to ensure it. 

The Beveridge Report, then, is a secondary thing. Having made that clear, what are its intrinsic 


The number of people who have read it bears the same proportion to the number of those who applaud 

it as the number of people who have read the Versailles Treaty bears to the number of those who shout 

‘No second Versailles!’ It has 300 pages and over 200,000 words. I never met a document so difficult 

to read and understand. Most of those who champion it unthinkingly conclude, from newspaper 

summaries, that they would profit by it. 

It contains one thing I want for myself: equal health and hospital services for all, particularly children. 

It contains two things I want for others: higher old age pensions, and the abolition of the victimization 

of the poor through insurance collectors. 

Our first-, second- and third-class order in hospitals, is repugnant. I am not personally biased; I was 

only once delivered to the mercies of an English hospital, and became a first-class patient as soon as I 

recovered consciousness, being able to pay. But the health of the community is the greatest asset of the 

nation, and all should receive equal care. The cadging ‘voluntary hospital’ (with its money-box-rattling 

‘Appeal Secretary’) is detestable, because the health of the population is a national, not a private or 

class interest. If after this war we could say farewell to alms, we should have achieved something 

worth fighting for. 

I believe we should adopt the Swedish order, which excludes all differentiation. All hospitals there are 

State-controlled. Their revenue is obtained from two taxes, one levied by the State and the other by the 

borough in which the citizen lives. The State tax is a fixed percentage on income. The Municipal tax is 

levied according to income; thus, it cannot be evaded (like rates in England) by residence in a house 

below the standard of the individuals income. Treatment in the hospitals is alike for all. The only 

preference which money can buy, is a private room; the treatment does not differ. The cost of an 

operation on a boy’s tonsils, for instance, would amount to about 1s. 6d. a day for as long as he 

remained in hospital. No operation fees are exacted, for the State doctor performs the operation. 

(If I understand the Beveridge Report, it does not go so far as this. But this is a simple, yet ideal, 


Equal care of the health of all children, is an essential part of the foundation of a secure society. The 

children are the nation’s investment in the future, and the dividends this will pay depend very much on 

their health. Statistics, which are great liars, show that the health of children in this country was not 

inferior to that of children in other countries before this war. Their appearance belied such statistics. 

True, they were being liberated from typhoid, diphtheria and tuberculosis, but their teeth were 

appalling, and their bodies bore the same relation to human fitness, as derelict acres to thriving 


The second good thing in the Beveridge Report is the proposal for higher old age pensions. The 

national interest commands unremitting care of the children. Every humane and decent instinct calls 

for the protection against want and distress, of those who can no longer work. The thing is better said 

than I can say it in this description of an old, husbandless, Cornish grannie, in Mr. A.L. Rowse’s book 

A Cornish Childhood (Jonathan Cape, 1942):  

Her last years were made easier for her by Lloyd George’s Old Age Pension. If anybody 

ever deserved 5s. a week after a lifetime of honest hard work, it was she; and if there 

was anybody to whom it was an inestimable help, it was she. The consequence was that 

she worshipped the name of Lloyd George – and quite rightly, too. The work of that 

remote politician away in Westminster, a mere name to her who knew nothing of 

politics and politicians – any more than any of us did – meant that much concrete 

security to her last years, so much for tea and sugar and bread and candles and coal and 

house-rent – there was little enough left over for meat…. 

‘The spirit of adventure’ no longer stirs in old men and women. Nothing can be destroyed by 

alleviating their last years. 

Thirdly, the Beveridge Report exposes the indefensibly high proportion of premiums-paid which is 

eaten up by the working costs of the great insurance companies. Of every pound paid in life insurance 

premiums by persons of limited means, seven shillings were swallowed wastefully in this way. (I 

believe the companies challenge the figure, but the ratio is undeniably too high, and the contrast 

between the squalid homes of the little insurers and the great palaces of the insurance concerns, is 

blatantly eloquent.) This, however, could be cured without nationalizing insurance. Simple legislation, 

setting an upper limit to the ratio of working-costs-and-premiums, would suffice. 

The Beveridge Report also mentions the greatest abuse committed in the business of life insurance: the 

transference of millions of pounds, in pennies and shillings, from the pockets of the poor to the coffers 

of great concerns, through the forfeiture of premiums paid on policies which lapse. (The Beveridge 

Report deserves no particular credit for this revelation; the thing has repeatedly been exposed, and if it 

continues this is the fault of public apathy.) This great scandal has gone on for a hundred years 

unchecked, though simple legislation would stop it. Mr. Gladstone, in 1864, thought to shock the 

country by disclosing that one single company, in 1863, issued 135,000 Policies and retained the 

premiums on more than half of them (70,000), on which payments were not maintained. Yet in 1929 

the same company issued 811,545 policies, of which 444,829 (a larger proportion than in 1863) were 

forfeited through failure to maintain payment! 

I have seen this thing at work. In the lean times after the last war, I rented a room from a poor widow, 

who was visited weekly by a jovial fellow with a little book and pencil, Mr. Wily. Mr. Wily knew 

these people. He would talk of the handsome sum they would draw if they were injured, and the fine 

funerals they would be given when they died. He called my old landlady ‘Ma’ and she, lonely creature, 

looked forward to his calls. Up and down those streets he went, collecting the twopences and 

threepences. Then one week, Ma would not be able to pay. ‘That’s all right, Ma’, Mr. Wily would say, 

‘Pay me next week.’ Next week, Ma could not find the fourpence or sixpence, and so it would go on. 

One day, Mr. Wily would suddenly say things couldn’t go on like this, two shillings were owing now, 

he must have at least a shilling. Ma would be frightened and see visions of a bailiff or a policeman, 

and say she would pay next week. Next time Mr. Wily came, she wouldn’t open the door. Mr. Wily, 

grinning behind his straggly moustache, would go his Way. ‘Insurance’ of this kind became a mania 

with some of these women; they would run four or five small insurances at a time, and were always 

allowing these to lapse because they could not keep up the payments. 

The British Parliament permits this. Not by its deeds, but by what it does not may you know it. 

Exposure by a Prime Minister and two committees achieved nothing; now the Beveridge Committee 

has again drawn attention to it. 

But the main importance of the Beveridge Report lies in its proposals about unemployment insurance. 

Again, it grasps the stick at the wrong end. If this island society is to be made secure, unemployment 

should be attacked first, and insured against afterwards. If mass unemployment recurs, Social Security 

is nonsense. It can only exist when men have the opportunity to work. To deny them that, and pay 

them for idleness, may be good or bad; it is not social security. 

The Beveridge Committee was appointed to consider social insurance, which includes unemployment 

insurance. But the point is, that the Government has appointed no Committee to consider employment 

after the war! 

Are we then to rest content with the former state of affairs, when millions were idle? For this reason, I 

smelt danger in the section of the Beveridge Report which deals with unemployment insurance. If a 

nigger was in the woodpile, it would be there. And indeed, I found this:  

Men and women in receipt of unemployment benefit cannot be allowed to hold out 

indefinitely for work of the type to which they are used or in their present places of 

residence if there is work which they could do available at the standard wage for that 



Men and women who have been unemployed for a certain period should be required as 

a condition of continued benefit to attend a work or training centre … the period after 

which attendance should be required might be extended in times of high unemployment 

and reduced in times of good employment; six months for adults would perhaps be a 

reasonable average period of benefit without conditions. But for young persons who 

have not yet the habit of continuous work, the period should be shorter; for boys and 

girls there should really be no unconditional benefit at all; their enforced abstention 

from work should be made an occasion of further training…. 


Conditions imposed on benefit must be enforced where necessary by suitable penalties

That is compulsion and forced labour, as we now have it, introduced under pretext of the war and 

ostensibly only for the duration of the war. It existed in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. It is one of 

The Things we supposedly fight against. Young lads and girls must take what employment they are 

told to take, even far away from home; ‘suitable penalties’ will be imposed if they demur. ‘Suitable 

penalties’ can only mean imprisonment. 

And this is Social Security! This is what the politicians mean when they speak of ‘the continuance of 

control after the war!’. 

How many enthusiasts knew that this was in the Beveridge Report? It appears in Part II, on page 58. 

When the Report was issued, the public was benevolently advised, on account of its great length and 

complexity to read a summary, The Beveridge Report In Brief, which contains 63 pages instead of 300 

and costs 3d. instead of 2s. 

Part II of the 2s. Beveridge Report, containing the proposals I have quoted above, does not appear in 

the threepenny report in brief

In the great parliamentary and newspaper controversy about the report, I have not seen these vital 

proposals mentioned, though they are the most important things in it. They would impair our last 

remnants of liberty. 

Here are no proposals to create employment and hope, for the young people of to-morrow’s England, 

to get them on to the land, on to the sea, into the air, into the Empire. Here are but compulsion, labour 

camps, the abolition of free choice of employment and the threat of force. 

Strange, that the people of this country, having been hoaxed so often, from the Zinovieff letter to the 

Gold Standard election, from the ‘Save Abyssinia’ election to the Munich Agreement do not become a 

little wary and examine what they are told before applauding. Their newspapers, without explaining 

this part of the report, lauded it as a model of ‘advanced thinking’. Do people believe this? They were 

given a picture of a few Tory diehards implacably setting out to wreck a report which might be 

England’s salvation. Did they not observe, then, that the Government itself called for this report and 

‘publicized it all over the world in a way that no report has ever been publicized’ (Sir William 

Beveridge, on March 3rd, 1943).’ The Government broadcast the beauties of this report in scores of 

languages. Do people then really believe that the Government is opposed to the Report drawn up by a 

very old crony of Mr. Churchill? Do they imagine that the Government gave such vast publicity to the 

Report, merely in order to make itself unpopular? 

The gullibility of the public is frightening. Nose-led by the Press, millions of people seemingly go 

about saying the ‘vested interests and the old men are trying to wreck this wonderful scheme of social 

security, which would ensure our future. We will force the Government to give us the whole Report 

and nothing but.’ 

‘They’ want the Beveridge Report, or at any rate the proposals which I have quoted and which were 

omitted from the popular edition. What ‘vested interest’ would oppose forced labour, backed by 

imprisonment? (For that matter, you will find the same idea in Lord Salisbury’s Post-War 

Conservative Policy.) 

If this, the hidden barb in the Report, is swallowed with the tempting bait that surrounds it, the people 

of this island will find themselves hooked. For this is Social Insecurity at its worst. This is the thing 

the blaring radio has implored us for over three years to overcome at the cost of everything we have: 

dragooning, regimentation, surrender to petty officials, and trades union tyranny. Do not believe that 

one party in Parliament is for and the other against these proposals. Both are avid for them. 

Let any man or woman in this country who has been ‘directed’ to leave an employment, surrender it to 

another, often enough to an alien, and to take some worse paid employment, in some other place, on 

pain of imprisonment, consider whether that is Social Security. Social Security offers them that after 

the war. 

Let any man or woman who has known the fear of unemployment consider whether, after the war, that 

fear will be greater or less, if he or she knows that the loss of a job will render them liable to 

compulsion to enter another trade, at lower wages, and to remove to another part of the country, on 

penalty of imprisonment. Let them consider whether they would then feel themselves socially secure. 

This would be the end of personal freedom, and it is buried deep in the 200,000 words of the full 

edition of the Beveridge Report (which you, gentle reader, have not read, I wager). It is not contained 

in the popular threepenny summary which our paternal rulers prepared for your benefit. Think of this, 

before you yield to the enthusiasm of newspapers, whose proprietors you do not know, about ‘Social 

Security’. If you swallow Social Security before this hook has been taken out of it, you are caught. 

You throw away what is probably the last hope for the future. 

The proposals to which I have drawn attention mean that the two great parties which jointly govern us 

have their eyes fixed, after this war, not on the promotion of employment, which alone could mean 

Social Security, but on the exploitation of unemployment, which means social insecurity. No good for 

the future ever comes from the enchainment of the people, and the motives behind such measures are 

always evil. Such measures are the surest possible indication that new wars are being cooked behind 

the scenes. Any man who clamours for ‘the whole Report and nothing but the Report’, without gaining 

the written pledge of any candidate who desires his vote, that this hook shall be taken out of it, throws 

away his future. 

The Beveridge Report, through no fault of its compilers, but possibly through the intention of those 

who appointed them, has done the country a disastrous disservice by fixing its gaze on 

‘unemployment’, instead of ’employment’ after the war, and in diverting public attention from the 

Government’s failure to prepare employment. What we need, if we are to make our society secure, is 

employment, not a vast army of Bumbles engaged in distributing unemployment pay or imprisoning 

the workless. This is the paramount need from which the public mind is distracted by the fraudulent 

cry of ‘Social Security’. 

How can we have employment? 

I tried, gentle reader, to make the Empire plastic and vivid in your mind’s eye by showing this island 

as the foundation, the four great Dominions as pillars embedded in its safety, and the rest as 


Now let us build a plastic model of this island. Its safety and happiness rest on freedom from wrongful 

imprisonment and a liberated countryside, and on four other main foundation stones: the fighting 

services, the merchant navy, agriculture and coal. 

Those are the four chief props. Make those strong and prosperous and the structure is secure. We 

cannot live without the fighting services, and they should be kept strong against the hour of need. We 

cannot maintain our Empire without a great merchant navy (of the sea and now of the air), which 

becomes even more vital in war; every effort should be spent to promote its prosperity. We cannot 

live, warm ourselves, travel or stoke our furnaces without coal; no care given to that industry would be 

too much. We cannot live happily in peace without a thriving countryside, and in war we may starve 

for the lack of it; it should not again be allowed to fall into decay. 

These four things, together, spell employment, and the cure of unemployment. The problem of 

unemployment dwindles, and the problem of Social Security solves itself in a better way than by 

insurance, if they are done. Between the wars, all were neglected. That was the chief cause of 

unemployment and Social Insecurity. 

Consider them separately. Firstly, the fighting services were starved (though we were told the 

opposite). The Navy was down to danger point, the Air Force below it, and the Army far below it. I 

have quoted the proofs of our plight after Dunkirk, when in my view we were actually defeated, but 

the enemy did not strike. We should never again allow the Navy or the Air Force to be less strong than 

any other in the world, and we should be content with the equality of only one other, the American. 

The Army should be substantially stronger than we have hitherto thought necessary. Apart from the 

fact that this policy would have preserved peace (and as time passes the evidence accumulates this was 

why it was not followed), it would have prevented one great part of our mass unemployment, which 

reached the figure of nearly three millions in 1932, when 60 per cent of all workers in shipbuilding 

and allied industries were out of work, and 46 per cent of all workers in the iron and steel industry. 

(Turn a deaf ear to proposals for our disarmament after this war, in whatever form they may be 

disguised. Beware Dis-armageddon!) But, as part of the gradual loosening of the order of Enclosure, 

which is indispensable if a happy breed is to be revived in this island, conditions of service and 

possibilities of promotion for all ranks should be improved and widened. 

Secondly. We have now learned, once again, the value to us of our Merchant Navy. But for it, we 

should have starved; without it, we could not contemplate the invasion of Europe which we shall have 

to undertake if we are to win this war. It was not so much neglected, as murderously assaulted. Large 

among the causes of this war looms the thing that was done in 1930, when rich men joined together 

and formed a company called National Shipbuilders’ Security Limited (note the familiar words, and 

consider what ‘national security’ came of it), to buy redundant plants, dismantle yards, and resell the 

sites on the condition that they would not be used again for shipbuilding. No shrewder blow could be 

aimed at our island safety, or a greater encouragement given to any country that plotted to beat us 

through starvation. (Nine years after that was done, submarine warfare began again!) Within one year, 

and on the north-east coast alone, eight shipyards were bought up, closed and scrapped, and many 

more on Clydeside. Scores of thousands of shipwrights were thrown on the street. The Bank of 

England, ‘our national bank’, supported that transaction! It was called a measure to ‘assist the 

shipbuilding industry’. Neither the seafaring nation nor the shipbuilding workmen were assisted; a few 

magnates profited. Now, under the stress of war, the Government has formed a corporation to reopen 

those derelict yards. The leading men in it are those who formed the buying-up and dismantling 


Can any cite a madder or more evil thing. In that affair, too, you may see how unemployment and 

social insecurity are made, and employment and social security destroyed. To prevent such a thing 

from happening again, is more important than to make schemes for insuring against unemployment. 

This transaction produced a further large proportion of our mass unemployment, to swell that which 

resulted from the starving of the Navy, Army and Air Force. After this war, the public hand should 

retain at least this control of the shipyards, that none should be dismantled or cast into disuse again. 

That is more vital than the imprisonment, if they refuse to leave their homes, of workers made idle by 

closing down. If any private owner feels unable to continue, the shipyard should be taken over by the 

State and operated with the owner as manager, if he wishes; for this is a national, not a private, 

interest. This episode clearly shows, like that of the insurance companies and the forfeited premiums, 

where the bounds of ‘private enterprise’ should be drawn; it should not be allowed to become legalized 

plunder, or to imperil our national safety. 

After this war, a sister should be born to our Merchant Navy. This is civil aviation, the merchant 

marine of the air. The last war, which was the first air war, left us with the greatest air force in the 

world. Air travel and air transport were obviously to become the great new industries of the future, and 

we should have led the world in them, having so much experience, machinery, material and skilled 

labour in our hands. 

Once again, ‘They’ intervened. Within a few months of the end of the last war, thirty thousand 

aeroplanes were thrown on the scrap heap, while good flying men were left to peddle vacuum 

cleaners. The Germans, forbidden any military aircraft, raced ahead, and built a great network of 

efficient air transport lines that covered all Europe and then spread across the Atlantic. Our civilian 

transport lines were miserably treated, as were the shipwrights, the miners, the farm labourers, the 

merchant seamen. (An odd thing is, that even to-day our Prime Minister and other highly-paid people, 

habitually choose not British, but foreign pilots for their journeys.) Here an enormous field of 

employment, and of travel, adventure and enterprise, was allowed to go to weed, just like so much 

English farmland. The Germans, Americans and Dutch, left us far behind. British officials coming 

home from the Empire were wont to use foreign air lines because they were faster, more comfortable 

and better than ours. 

In this island were 3,000,000 unemployed; here was a great vein of employment left untapped, and a 

new threat allowed to grow to our national security. To-day, that absurd position threatens to recur. 

The nation wastes its breath in argument about insurance against unemployment, instead of seizing the 

golden chances of employment which lie near at hand. For nearly two years ‘a committee’ has been 

‘considering’ civil aviation. Something thwarts its work; it comes no further. Meanwhile, American air 

lines are spreading their services. Our production of transport and cargo-carrying aircraft has been 

relegated to the status of Cinderella. All the present signs are, that an unnecessary inferiority is being 

allowed to develop again. 

But if that happens, it will be another great source of avoidable unemployment after the war, when it 

should be a gigantic field of employment and endeavour. Our present Under Secretary for Air, Captain 

Balfour, said in the House of Commons on December 17th, 1942:  

At the end of the war we may be faced with two alternatives unless we safeguard the 

position as far as we are able. Either we shall have to contemplate closing down a large 

part of the aircraft industry, employing more than a million workers, and hope that the 

industrial market will be able to absorb and use the skill of those men elsewhere, or we 

shall have to continue building bombers and fighters for which there may be little or no 

use in the numbers that we shall be producing at the end of the war. 

The words are enough to cause despair in the future of this country. Are we to start closing down, 

dismantling, dismissing again? If this is the intention, we can guess why the Beveridge Report was 

published, and why thoughts of unemployment, instead of employment, obsess our rulers. 

But why? Why is the choice only between ‘closing down and dismissing more than a million men’ and 

‘building bombers and fighters for which there may be little or no use’? The third alternative is 

obvious. It is, to build a great merchant service and passenger service of the air, and to prepare for that 


Air transport will be as vital to our Empire in future as the Merchant Navy always was and has proved 

again to be. Not only is it a means of employing hundreds of thousands of men, but it opens all those 

doors to travel, adventure, enterprise, the lack of which in England has so depressed the spirit of 

young men. The sea is in our blood; the air will have to be in our blood, too, if we are to survive. Our 

Air Force, when this war ends, will be as great as or greater than any in the world; and behind it lies 

the Air Training Corps, in which scores of thousands of youngsters have come to know the feel of the 

air, to think about flying, to raise their eyes above the level of the street, the pictures, the pub. We can 

become the greatest airfaring nation in the world, as we should be with such an Empire. This is 

opportunity in all its forms. Do our rulers mean to spoil that chance? In the past, most of us loved and 

lived for the Empire without ever seeing it. Air travel and air transport offer the means for it to become 

known to us all. This is not only a war-winning weapon, but, what is more important, a peace-winning 

one. It is being neglected, and the great chance is being allowed to slip through our hands once more. 

None cares for this vital matter. It is a part-time occupation of an Air Ministry which is obsessed with 

the needs of military aircraft. We need, at once, an Air Transport Ministry, and an Empire Air 

Transport Board, so that we, with the Dominions, may prepare now to take our place in the peaceful 

air when the war ends. 

How grotesque, to talk of Social Security, of insuring against unemployment, when such an 

opportunity as this is ignored! 

Thirdly. The other great vein of employment, which in the inter-war years became a source of mass 

unemployment, is the mining industry. ‘Nationalization’ is a word disliked in this country. But the right 

of coalowners, for whose profit men are in wartime forced down the pits on pain of imprisonment, 

should not extend so far that in peace they may close these pits and throw thousands of men on the 

streets to swell the throng of those who (under the Beveridge Report) could be told to go to some 

unfamiliar and still lower-paid work elsewhere. The coal industry is so vital a pillar in the structure of 

our land that the status and self-esteem of the miners should be the first care of any government, Tory, 

Socialist or Coalition. Instead of that, they have been miserably paid and shabbily treated. (This was 

the greatest weakness of England in the inter-war years, that the lowest wages and poorest conditions 

were reserved for the men who served the three most vital industries in the land – mining, agriculture 

and shipping. Merchant seamen have told me that even to-day, in war time, conditions of pay and 

service in British ships are inferior to those in Norwegian, Greek, Netherlands and other merchant 


Fourthly. Agriculture furnished the fourth and last portion of the mass of unemployed. A good farmer 

told me, before the war, ‘None but a fool would become a farm labourer in this country to-day’. These 

were the worst paid of all. They were lucky if they earned thirty shillings a week, for toiling from 

dawn to dusk. During the war, their wage has been raised to a decent level. Farmers and landowners 

have been guaranteed fair prices. A paramount necessity, after this war, will be, to maintain the revival 

of the land and not to let it lapse again into the state of grey decay which Ministers of Agriculture so 

eloquently deplored. This can only be achieved by guaranteeing a fair price level for farmers and a fair 

minimum wage for landworkers. 

These are the four pillars on which employment could be built in England. They are all essential and 

complementary and vital both to our happiness in peace and our security in war. None are mutually 

antagonistic. If these four veins of employment were fully exploited, unemployment would remain the 

lesser problem which it formerly was; insurance against it would be simple and secondary. Add to 

those four things such large-scale schemes of emigration, concerted with the Dominion Governments, 

as that which the Australian Government has in mind, and the beginning not only of insular, but of 

imperial revival is achieved. 

These things, which so few people discuss, or even think about, are more important than Social 

Security, which is a blind, meant to divert the people’s gaze from the real source of any misfortunes 

that come upon them. We do not need to have unemployment. We can have employment, the only 

Social Security. Are there some who wish to deprive us of that, and who are they? 

… He put his head through the window again. 

‘What did you mean by that about Bismarck?’ he said. 

‘We were talking of Social Security, weren’t we?’ I asked. 

‘Yes, but what’s it got to do with Bismarck?’ he said. 

‘Have you a year or two to spare?’ I said. 

‘Me?, he asked, in surprise. ‘No, I haven’t.’ 

‘That’s a pity’, I said, ‘I might have been able to explain it to you.’ 

The train began to move. He looked after me in great bewilderment.  













Chapter Sixteen 


… We were come a long way together, uphill and down dale, Myself and I. He was a good guide. 

Having been that way before, he was able to lead me past many false turnings which I otherwise 

would have taken, to show me the right way when the road forked, and to tell me which, of those we 

met, were to be trusted or suspected. 

I might have lost everything I owned right at the beginning, for I was sorely tempted to save my own 

feet by taking a ride, when I was invited by a wily-looking fellow with a megaphone, in the Snap 

Election Charabanc. He said it would bring me where I wanted to go, but Myself, having been tricked 

before, held me back. ‘Above all’, he said, ‘don’t fall into that trap. Find your own way, and shun all 

who offer you a lift or a short cut.’ Again, I would certainly have yielded, but for him, to the allure of 

Appeasement Avenue, a shady way, or to that of Social Security Street, a crooked turning. Both of 

these, according to the wily-looking man, who in my dream constantly reappeared and sought to 

beguile me, led to a delightful garden city, where mankind needed to do nothing but lie about in 

beautiful parks called Freedom From Fear, Freedom From Want, and the like, and listen to the radio. 

It was not easy to pass these by, for the way we went was hard, at first, and uphill, and led between 

mean houses, and was peopled with harassed and distraught-looking men and women who, like 

myself, sought Nineteen-Fifty Street and Nineteen-Sixty Corner, and beyond. I was much tempted to 

take those turnings, for everything was done to make them look pleasant and enticing, and they ran 

gently downhill, and the wily-looking man always cried eagerly ‘This way, this way, you’ll find 1950 

and 1960 and the future down here. This is the shortest cut to 2000’. 

But Myself dissuaded me each time. ‘Don’t believe it’, he said, ‘I know. I’ve been this way before, that’s 

why I’m coming with you now. He’s a fraud with his promises, he gets a commission on every man 

and woman he inveigles to go that way, and they don’t get to the future at all. Down there, hidden, lies 

the Slough of Despond; I’ve seen it. Keep to this road. This is the right road. It needs finding, and it’s 

hard and uphill at first, but it gets better, much better, afterwards, and it’s the only one that will take 

you to 1960 and set you on your course for Beyond.’ 

We even succeeded, much to the delight of Myself, in preventing many others from following the 

beckoning finger of the wily-looking man. They gazed longingly at those shady, easy, downhill 

avenues, but when they heard that Myself was come that way before, and knew all the wrong turnings 

and pitfalls, they fell in with us and pressed on. Then, suddenly, the wily-looking man became a crowd 

of wily-looking men, who shouted angrily after us, ‘Yah, Reds, Whites, Blues, Vermilions, 

Warmongers, Pacifists, Cranks, Idealists, Fascists, Communists, Fanatics, Dullards, Intellectuals, 

Ignoramuses, Bolshevists, Diehards, Anti-Semolinists!!!’ This greatly worried our companions at first, 

but Myself reassured them, saying ‘That’s all part of the game. If they can’t trick you, they try to 

frighten you. Keep on and you will be all right’. And at that, all the wily-looking men vanished, and 

there was peace. 

So we pressed on, a goodly company now, and when we came to Nineteen-Fifty Street, our hearts 

lifted, for the ascent was less steep, the mist began to clear, the houses were better, the people held up 

their heads and looked happier, the children were healthier. We overtook many others, and these 

joined us; yet we were neither a mob nor a regiment, but patriotic pilgrims in our own good right, and 

nevertheless strong in our numbers and our knowledge of the thing we sought. Something warm and 

pleasant lay in the air. ‘What is this feeling?’ I said to Myself. ‘Don’t you know?’ he said, ‘It’s hope’. 

‘Why, of course’, I said, ‘I remember, you and I knew it in 1914.’ 

On we went, and the way became ever broader, smoother, surer and more inviting. The mist was quite 

gone, now, and the sun shone on a land that was pleasant and often green. The road lay straight and 

clear before us; few turnings offered, and none would have been tempted by them anyway. We saw 

men demolishing mean streets, and other men repairing hideous places where boards, which they 

uprooted and threw down, said ‘Derelict Area’. We saw no fences, railings, or warnings against 

trespass; instead,we saw an open countryside, a thriving land, with busy coalmines and shipyards, and 

at their gates a small sign: ‘Ugliness and idleness, alone, forbidden!’ 

At last we came to a great open place, that might have been Trafalgar Square, save that it was bigger 

and more beautiful; with a great greensward that might have been Hyde Park, save that iron bars were 

gone; and a great river flowing by that might have been the Thames, save that no filth floated on it, no 

black squalor lined it, but on both sides ran a white embankment and noble buildings and gardens, and 

fine bridges crossed it, and on it, pleasure craft plied, and everywhere keen and vigorous men and 

women and children went. Such things happen in dreams. 

Myself stopped. ‘Well, here you are’, he said. ‘You can’t go wrong now. Just keep straight on. I shan’t 

need to come with you any further.’ 

‘What is this place?’ I asked. 

‘This is 1960’, he said. ‘Go on as you’ve been going and you’ll be all right. The way is clear now, but 

you’ll meet the wily-looking man again. When you do, knock him down and look in his pockets. 

You’ll find his contract there, and you’ll see what he is really after.’ 

‘Well,’ so long’, I said, ‘and thank you. You’ve saved us a lot of time and disappointment.’ 

‘More than that’, said Myself, ‘I’ve saved you from Yourself….’ 

I awoke with a start. Before me lay Piccadilly, the Green Park and the passing show: trees and green 

grass; khaki, navy blue, sky blue and drab. A barrage balloon rose above the trees; at the winch, busy 

figures worked. The hum of the biggest city in the world was in my ears. 

My hand still held an evening newspaper. ‘Demobilization will be slow after the war’, said the 













I did not dream, when I wrote the first of these books, that readers all over the world would 

accompany me through them. The things I wrote have nearly all been proved by events, but I can 

claim no especial prescience; chance made me a journalist, and this calling gave me exceptional 

opportunities to learn things hidden from others. Many other ways of informing the public exist, 

however, and the knowledge I gained was not rare enough, by itself, to cause these books to be so 

widely read. 

If I may impart an open secret, the reason is that I, almost alone, write the things I know, through my 

profession, and believe in, through my birth and experience. People find in these books that which 

they should find, but do not, in parliamentary speeches and the Press. If the spirit and principle of yore 

animated the newspapers, the circulation of such books would be small. 

The influences which work to suppress this, distort that or exaggerate the other, in the public prints, 

are now so great that none can obtain a fair picture of affairs from them. People feel this, and turn to 

the books of an independent writer. A curtain has been stealthily interposed between patriotic seekers 

after knowledge and the truth. The deterioration began in our time and has been quickened by two 

wars.[49] The newspaper free of shackles is as essential to the health of a country as the independent- 

minded Member of Parliament. The lack of both is a main cause of our spiritual ailments, of which 

‘bitterness and cynicism’ are the greatest. 

A book is a pasteboard-and-paper sandwich. Into this sandwich, I have put the knowledge and 

experience of thirty years, from 1914 till now. The sum of it is, a clear view of great dangers which 

beset our future. I have no wish to impart information for its own sake, and detest those who interfere 

with others and say, ‘I only did it for your good’; they do more harm than any. Though my motive, 

when I wrote the first of these books, was not a monetary one (indeed, it involved the loss of a hardly- 

won career), it was nevertheless selfish. I merely took a long view of my selfish interest: I could not 

see any happiness in this world for me or my children unless my native country were either spared the 

new war, or equipped itself to win it. 

I thought a mass of people must share this feeling, and found I was right. These books touched a 

vibrantly responsive chord, for the plain reason that very many felt as I felt, though of their feeling our 

Parliament and Press give no echo. The only antagonism they met (but it was violent) was directed 

against the parts of them which deal with the Jewish question. The arguments I raised were not met, or 

the facts questioned. The rebuke merely was, that I must not discuss the matter, and I do not agree. If a 

proposal were afoot, to bring a million Martians to this island, or to use British arms to establish a 

Martian National Home in Palestine, it would be freely argued, and the decision would rest on this 

unbiased debate. No community in the world should be exempt from scrutiny, when it demands boons 

from another. 

An isolated reproach was that which minds in rigor mortis sometimes utter, that I ‘criticized my own 

country’ (as if I ought rather to lament the lack of lavatories in Liberia). One good Tory M.P., a loud 

champion of Munich, wrote that Insanity Fair did ‘incalculable harm’ to British renown in the world. If 

such as he but knew how much discredit they incur for us! I never before yielded to this temptation, 

but quote now a letter from an American officer: ‘One other thing, All Our Tomorrows has done far 

more towards breaking down any latent friction in my mind towards the average English soldier than 

any of the pamphlets which I have thus far seen dealing with that important phase of our war effort.’ 

Well, how do we stand, at the end of these five books? What is the final content of the sandwich? 

What is the summing-up? 

The ominous balance of the past is that the causes of this war, as far as they lie in this country, have 

been concealed. Dark clouds surround that unreadiness and defencelessness of ours; enough rents have 

been made in the curtain of secrecy for so much to become visible. If stupidity was to blame, no 

reason exists to shield it; it should be exposed so that future mistakes may be avoided. If worse than 

stupidity was at fault, concealment is a deadly blow at our future, for this would be a guarantee of new 

wars. That is why no man can give an honest answer to the request for ‘something constructive’. If we 

knew why our defences were retarded to the point of national helplessness, we could build. If that 

information is refused, and to-morrow’s men retain the secret power to do the same thing, we cannot. 

That is the summing-up of the past, and you cannot escape it. 

Now the war oozes to its end. The Casablanca Conference lies behind us and at it, according to Mr. 

Churchill, ‘a complete plan of action’ was formed ‘which comprises the apportionment of our Forces as 

well as their direction, and the weight of the particular movements which have been decided upon; and 

this plan we are going to carry out according to our ability during the next nine months’. 

(‘Nine months’ takes us to October 1943. A fortnight later Lord Simon spoke contemptuously of the 

demand for ‘a second front’ as ‘a catchpenny phrase’. What can Mr. Churchill’s words mean but an 

attack on the enemy in Europe? Indeed, Mr. Brendan Bracken said a few days later, ‘I can give you the 

assurance of the whole of the Government that we intend at the first possible opportunity to hit the 

Hun in various parts of Europe’.) 

If words mean anything, then, and contradictory words mean nothing, we shall strike in 1943. If, 

simultaneously, the ‘unprecedented ordeal’ by bombing (promised by Mr. Churchill in June 1942) is 

imposed on Germany, we may win the European war in 1943. (For air-bombing at this stage of the 

war, gentle reader, is a war-winning weapon in our hands.) 

It becomes high time that the war should end, for in this island the picture of injustice, of inequality of 

service and sacrifice, grows grave. One day in February 1943 brought the following four reports, 

which deserve comparison: 

Mr. Bevin, the Socialist Minister of Labour, refused to extend compulsion for military service to 

‘aliens of military age at liberty in this country’ (who are eligible for all employment). This, in practice, 

meant the continued exemption of Jews from Germany, Austria, Hungary and Rumania, as allied 

nationals are subject to conscription. It also meant that these aliens (by law, enemy aliens) enjoy an 

immunity shared by none other in this island or all Europe, friend, foe or slave. It is a unique example 

of privilege. 

Mr. Brendan Bracken stated that of 2824 persons employed by the Ministry of Information, 644 were 

men between 18 and 41 and 805 women between 19 and 30; and that the B.B.C. employed 668 men 

between 18 and 30. 

A Mr. X. and his company were fined £181 10s., or three months’ imprisonment, for evasion of the 

price-control. A suite of furniture was sold to the company’s head for £10 3s. 3d., and then put up for 

auction, where it fetched £52 10s. In all thirteen bedroom suites, four dining-room suites, and other 

furniture were thus disposed of, and the reader may calculate the approximate profit, and its relation to 

the fine imposed. 

A 20-year-old English girl, Margaret B., who was ordered to leave her employment, her home and her 

mother, and go to a munitions factory, returned home, pleading that she was unequal to the work, her 

mother was ill, and the like. She was sent to prison for three months. Of this case, a magistrate said:  

The National Service officers are often merely clerks at the Labour Exchanges. They 

can peremptorily direct persons to go out of the district in which they live, take up work 

in distant factories, irrespective of personal dislikes and preferences, and of home ties 

of the kind which are normally recognized as good reasons for not leaving home. Never 

before in the history of this country has one small man in each district been given such 

enormous powers over his neighbour. 

(All who know the West End of London will be aware how many posts, thus rendered vacant, have 

been taken by aliens. The Minister concerned, Mr. Bevin, is seemingly informed of these conditions, 

for he said in February 1943, ‘Someone said that London is a luxury place. It is nothing of the sort. 

London is not walking along Oxford Street or Piccadilly. That is not London; that is a little fungus 

which has grown up in the middle of London. It is not Londoners who are there as a rule; very few 

Londoners are there at all’. Yet his Ministry promotes such conditions.) 

Such is the daily picture of the Home Front. To a man who was at the other Front, in the first war, and 

detested these things at home, it has been instructive but depressing to watch them at close range, in 

the second war, and see that, if anything, they are worse now than then. They make ugly contrast with 

the spirit of the men who serve and fight, and with the highfalutin speeches about The Things they 

have ostensibly been sent to fight for. 

For at the fighting fronts, our men merely prove that they can fight, and we knew that before. The 

causes of the war, however, in so far as they lie in this country, have been screened, and remain 

unchanged, and this is the reason for the spiritual uneasiness, the fear, which seethe beneath the 

surface. They may be forgotten for the moment, in the approaching tumult of victory, but they are 

there. People know, even if they will not admit to themselves, that victory, alone, is nothing; 1918 

taught them that. And they know, even if they refuse to discuss this, that the men, the methods and the 

machine, which destroyed that victory and brought the new war, are still in power, in use, and in 


That is what the Archbishop of Canterbury meant, though he may not himself have realized it, when 

he said, on March 23rd, 1943, ‘Horrible as it is, we have to realize that multitudes of our people 

actually fear the return of peace more than the continuance of war’. This applies particularly to that 

large section of the population remaining in this island, which gains through the war, in wealth, 

privilege, and power to dragoon or imprison its neighbours. But it applies also to many who suffer 

through the war, and yet dread a return to the money-grubbing anarchy of the inter-war years, with its 

decadent ruling class and its idle millions, its ‘building society’ and ‘insurance company’ palaces and its 

slums and living death in them, its ‘sound finance’ on paper and its spiritual bankruptcy in fact, its 

rusting mines and rotting shipyards, its derelict areas and derelict acres, its foreign policy of noble 

words and craven deeds – its entire anti-British foolishness and knavery. 

We may find wisdom in the words of a Chinese, and not a dead man, Confucius, but a living woman, 

Madame Chiang Kai-shek, who told a Chinese audience in San Francisco in March 1943 that she 

feared the Allies, after military victory over the Axis, may fight among themselves and lose the peace. 

She quoted the Hussites, those Czech Roundheads who successfully fought the German Emperor’s 

Cavaliers, but allowed their own factional differences to culminate in self-destruction after victory. 

‘When these two factions had a common enemy they were united and strong against him’, she said, ‘but 

when they had defeated him they flew at each other’s throats. Shall we avert a similar disaster and gain 

wisdom from this object lesson?’ 

Madame Chiang Kai-shek declined to come to England. I think I can guess why, but it was a pity. 

How right she was! In the midst of this war, which should have sobered us, if anything will, confusion 

in this island, about our future, is worse than even it was between the wars. What is to happen at 

home; what is to happen abroad; you may vainly scan the Parliamentary debates and the Press for light 

or hope. In foreign affairs, our leaders of the spoken and written word seem only united about the 

wrongs and rights of the Jews; they attack or ignore Frenchmen, Czechs, Poles and Serbs, and yet 

these are inseparable from our honour, our. faith and our future. In domestic affairs, the way is clear 

for even worse exploitation than was after the last war: slums which were to be condemned are 

inhabited, slums which were already condemned have been reoccupied, the supply of houses is 

millions behind the people’s need, nothing has been done to prevent new slums being built, or the 

distress of the population from being exploited in another decade of rent-squeezing, house-purchase 

enslavement and furnished-room profiteering. They talk, not of creating employment, though the 

opportunities are boundless, but of exploiting unemployment, through the weapon of coercion; and 

this, if it is allowed, will again open the way to the rich man who, of his own will, decides to close a 

coalmine or a shipyard. 

Yet these conditions, in England, were the cause of our troubles. Slums, unemployment, derelict areas, 

dismantled mines and yards, and a decaying countryside, breed a spiritless nation. When I wrote the 

first of these books, before the war began, many people refused to believe the things I wrote about our 

slums; seemingly they were born, with eyes, but without sight. In 1943 a book was published, Our 

Towns: A Close-Up (Oxford University Press). It was mainly the result of an investigation, carried out 

by the Women’s Group on Public Welfare, among mothers and children ‘evacuated’ from the towns to 

escape the bombing. The authors warn readers that they must have ‘a stout stomach’, and give a 

revolting picture, or one for which no adjective is foul enough, of conditions in England. 

Many of these unfortunate beings were degraded, a disgrace and a danger to this wealthy country. It 

was not their fault; the fault lay in the slums, the criminal exploitation to which they were exposed by 

landlords, hire-purchase and insurance concerns, and the conniving Town Council and Government. 

Dirt, vermin, disease, animal habits, foul mouths, lying, stealing, bed-soiling, betting, drink, football 

coupons, ‘comic’ papers, pawntickets, ‘pictures’, patent medicines – the story traverses the entire 

alphabet of misery and filth. How could they help it?  

Hundreds of thousands of families in all parts of the country have not a private closet, 

and there are areas where it is the exception for a family to have one. 

This is the proud balance of a British Parliament which has sat for nearly eight years, as I write, and 

proposes soon, by posturing on the hustings as ‘The National Government Which Won The War’, and 

giving the electors no choice, to prolong its life for another five years – or ten – or twenty…. 

In twenty years, this war was brewed. Our slums were essential to its cooking. The Boys, when they 

come back, should make time to attend a Juvenile Court, and see at what tender ages Englishmen and 

Englishwomen are hopelessly spoiled, in this country. Children are not intrinsically wicked. The root 

causes, as Mr. John A.J. Watson says in his valuable book The Child and the Magistrate (Jonathan 

Cape, 1942), are:  

Poverty and slums; disease and drink; immorality; indifference to religion; each of 

them conducing to that most tragic of all a child’s afflictions – a broken home. These are 

the roots of evil. 

The two things – our wretched order of class-segregation in this island, and the confusion in our 

foreign policy – hang inextricably together. Reform the one, and the other will cure itself. 

How and where may we attack this tangle, hope to unravel it and straighten it out? As I think, only by 

reforming and cleansing our Parliament. That is where the obstruction lies. 

We have but two Parties, that count. The Conservative Party, which annexes the claim to an Imperial 

patriotism, led us straight into a war in which we lost large portions of the Empire almost without a 

fight. The Labour Party, which claims to represent the working-class, was unable to avert mass 

unemployment, derelict areas, slums and the capricious closure of mines and shipyards. 

The Conservative Party remains the monopoly of those who wish, first and foremost, to perpetuate the 

privileges of wealth and Enclosure. Two hundred and fifty of its Members are connected with the 

peerage, baronetage and knighthood; scores are bankers, company directors and landowners, 

newspaper proprietors and the like. The majority of them inherited wealth, nearly all come from one of 

a few public schools. You will find few working men in its ranks. 

The Socialist Party is the near-monopoly of the great officialdom which the trade unions have become. 

It represents, not the working man, or Socialists, but labour ‘organized’ in those great unions which 

support so many officials. It is as ‘conservative’ as the Conservative Party, in wishing to conserve bad 

things in the interest of a section of the population. You may, in this party, find an old-school-tie or 

two, around the necks of a leader or two. You will find few small artisans or small employers, 

democratic Conservatives or conservative Socialists. 

Where, in the Conservative Party, is a man to find a place who wishes to conserve the best traditions 

of this country but not the evils of Enclosure and the caste-system; to conserve the freedom of a man 

to make his own way and become rich, if he wishes, but not to close down a coalmine or shipyard, 

render thousands of men idle and imperil our national safety; to conserve the principle of private 

ownership, but not the unbridled licence of the slum landlord; to conserve parliamentary government, 

but not the doctrine of non-accountability and ‘no recriminations’? 

Where, in the Socialist Party, is a man to find a place who wishes to reform the educational system, 

but not abolish the public schools; to abolish unemployment, but not the freedom of contract; to 

abolish slums and derelict areas, but not to abolish private ownership? 

And where, in either, is a man to find a strong and clear foreign policy? In neither. A man of civic and 

patriotic feeling, who knows no class feeling, or money barrier, can find no home in either of them. 

Each stands for the interests of a group, and these interests in both cases conflict with the interest of 

the whole. 

The two Parties know this, and are also well aware of that carking question in the minds of the people: 

‘What of the future after the war?’ That is why they now prepare, having tasted the sweets of office- 

sharing, to join hands, evade the need to offer the creators a choice between two policies, and jointly 

ride on our backs for many more years to come. The sectional interests they serve would thus be 

safeguarded; the interests of the nation would be lost. The Socialist Party is ageing and decadent; the 

Conservative Party is vigorous but castebound. The Socialist Party knows it is unlikely ever to gain a 

majority (without a new policy which it is too short-sighted to evolve), because the country, having 

been given various ‘nest-eggs’ by the Conservatives with this electoral aim in view, would again be 

stampeded by the cry, ‘Your savings are in danger’. It makes ready to remain in sleeping partnership 

with the Conservatives at the price of a few jobs and the preservation of the trades union edifice. 

The cost of this bargain to the country is seemingly to be Socialist complicity in the regimentation of 

labour – that is, not the creation of employment, but the exploitation of unemployment. This is the 

device, most dangerous of all to our future, which peeps alike out of the Beveridge Report, the 

Marquess of Salisbury’s Post-War Conservative Policy, and the utterances of innumerable Socialist 

politicians, that ‘control must continue after the war’: that men and women ‘must not be allowed to 

refuse work, even in other trades than their own or in other places than their homes’, and that 

‘direction’ to new employment may be enforced by ‘penalties’. The Socialist Party becomes a great 

vested interest, inimical to the rights of individuals and akin to any great capitalist concern in its 

disregard for these.[50] And the written pledge of obedience which is required from its representatives 

makes the real power behind this party as secret and difficult to detect as those ‘motives’ which, 

according to Mr. Lloyd George, ‘precipitate wars’. 

The political future, then, begins to take the shape of a pact between Conservatives and Socialists for 

the prolongation of office-sharing and the elimination of public interference. You may imagine, gentle 

reader, how little likely the Socialists would be, in a Parliament without an Opposition, to draw 

attention to large sales of British arms to Germany, or British investments in German armaments. You 

may imagine how little likely the Conservatives would be, in a Parliament without an Opposition, to 

pursue a sound foreign, policy, to give correct information about our affairs, or to restrict the licence 

of shipowners, coalowners and slum landlords to undermine our national interests. 

A main cause of this war was the lack of a clear-sighted, patriotic and vigorous Opposition in 

Parliament. The Socialists behaved like children in foreign affairs, and in domestic ones saw only the 

interests of the trade unions. How much worse will our plight be after this war, if even that much 

opposition is to be bought out! Here a mortal danger confronts us at the very start of Civvy Street. 

Before we sum up the future, then, let me say again, that we shall not have one unless we break that 

deadlock in Parliament, and we can only do it by returning a large number of independent men to 

Parliament, who will accept no Party ties, refuse to be denied information about our affairs, and bring 

about by-elections in a national emergency (such as that of 1935, which was inadequately met by the 

Peace Ballot). Such men would be the country’s watchdogs in a House now corrupted almost beyond 


And their foremost aim, now or ten years from now, should be to obtain a public inquiry into our 

affairs in the years of phoney peace which brewed this war. Only when we come to that knowledge, 

may we safely hope to build the future. Many of the men who were to blame will by then be dead, 

though their deeds will live after them. Nothing need happen to the others. The publication of the truth 

would be enough ignominy. But it would be the guarantee, which we so sorely need, that it could not 

happen again. Without that guarantee, It will happen again. 

On that essential basis, how might we build the future? This is how I would sum it up: 

(1) Our safety depends first on our fighting strength and our foreign policy. We need to that end a 

supreme navy and air force and a strong army, and exact information about these should be given 

annually in Parliament. British investments abroad should be forbidden for armaments and allied 

industries, and regulated so that they flow preponderantly, in a set ratio, to our Dominions and 

Colonies first, and to foreign countries only next. 

(2) Our alliance with Russia, which will be essential to the equilibrium of Europe, should be extended 

to fifty years. 

(3) We should restore the League of Nations exactly as it was, and fulfil its obligations, exactly as they 

were, for this would ensure enduring peace, given the two preceding conditions. 

This is the most important thing of all, because a dangerous trap is being laid for us in this matter. 

Deluded people, who are the victims of phrases, tend to believe that ‘the League failed’, and they are 

wrong. The League of Nations was a simple and perfect instrument for ensuring peace, and was 

especially attractive to us because, through the withdrawal of one or two Great Powers, it was, in 

effect, a British-led League amply strong enough to prevent war. Its triumph would have been a 

British triumph, and from the moment of that triumph it would have become a universal League, with 

British prestige paramount. Its failure was a British failure; we destroyed the League, in 1935 and 

after, and some of the influences which misguided our policy in those years now peep through the 

curtain of history, as I have shown. Any who promise us future peace by promising us some new kind 

of international organization, cannot be sincere. If they intend to preserve peace, they can do it through 

the League (the framework of which still exists) and need no other organization. If, however, they 

propose some different international body, their motives immediately become suspect. In this 

connection, I commend any who are anxious for the future to treat with the deepest suspicion four 

phrases which are current to-day: An International Police Force; Federal Union; The United States of 

Europe; Abolition of National Sovereignty. All these new proposals, unless I do them an injustice, 

contain a common kernel which is mortally dangerous to our future. It is that, when our armed 

strength has won victory, we should hand over our armed strength to some international body, 

controlled by who knows what hidden powers. That would be the first step towards a new war. For 

only in that way could the second condition be brought about, which was essential to the making of 

this war: our defencelessness. I have explained that this was the half of the seed of the present war. 

Germany’s warlike ambitions and armed strength were not enough, alone, to produce the war. Our 

unreadiness, to the point of defencelessness, was also essential to it, and to the schemes of those who 

desired war: and this was brought about, first, by our disarmament, and second, by the deliberate 

deception of this country by its own leaders, who told it that our rearmament was proceeding when it 

was not. Any who may seek future wars will know that this country will not again be gulled by 

appeals to disarm, and that it will not again be content to believe, without proof, even the statements of 

its leaders, that its defences are in order. The only way, then, to effect our helplessness a second time 

would be, to deprive us of our sovereign control over our own armed forces. This is the danger which 

lurks behind the specious proposals I have mentioned. Beware Disarmageddon in any form; if we 

want enduring peace, we can have it through our own strength and a League united around it. That 

would be, in effect, what we now have, and could have had in 1935: a League of United Nations. It 

would perpetuate peace. 

(4) We should desist from imparting confusion to our Foreign Policy by lending the strength of our 

arms to the pursuance of Jewish national aims, since this breeds throughout Jewry, as experience since 

the Balfour Declaration has incontrovertibly shown, an ever greater number of Jews who discard the 

feeling that they are Poles, Germans, Englishmen or members of any other national community among 

which they dwell, and adopt the principle that they are members of a Jewish people or nation, with 

rights to a separate State, or even Empire to which they can only come through the armed strength of 

Britain or some other great power. They do not, however, yield the rights of citizenship, which have 

now been granted to them in these communities, but demand both, and this leads to an intolerable 

duality and duplicity of claims. British policy should be aimed to ensure for the Jews, as members of a 

religious community alone, ‘equal rights of citizenship’ in the countries where they dwell, and nothing 

more; or, if they are to have a National State, or Empire, that they should become citizens of it and 

aliens elsewhere. This is a major issue, which has already involved us in one minor foreign war and 

bids to involve us in others, and overshadows and distorts our foreign policy in a manner 

insupportable for the people of this country. 

In this connection, the pledge given by the British Government, that immigrants brought to this 

country since 1933 would not say here, become a burden to the British taxpayer, displace British 

citizens in the professions, callings and trades, or establish themselves here in prosperity during the 

absence of serving British citizens, should be honoured. The British Government’s utmost endeavour 

should be, to see that these people return to their own countries and there receive ‘equal rights of 


(5) In our domestic affairs, Members of Parliament should by legislation be forbidden to sign pledges 

of unquestioning obedience to Parties which choose them as candidates, since such obviously override 

and invalidate pledges made to the voters at an election; and our whole present disaster is due to this 

secret and sinister allegiance. 

(6) The principle of accountability should be restored, and legislation passed to compel the publication 

of documents, about the origins of such a war as this (in the manner followed, in this war, by the 

American Parliament), or of dispatches, about great military disasters. The country, under the present 

system, is denied all knowledge of the culprits and the blame by means of some cheap phrase. This is 

an indefensible arrangement, which is a main cause for our troubles, and is in effect indistinguishable 

from the methods of despotic and dictatorial government against which we supposedly fight. 

In this connection a paramount need is to reduce, and eventually abolish, by law the practice of power- 

wielded-in-anonymity which has grown up in this country. Newspapers should be bound to publish 

prominently the names of their proprietors and editors, so that the public may know whose opinions 

they read, and what influences are likely to distort the information presented to them. Advertising 

revenue should be restricted to a modest proportion of sales-revenue, to prevent the acquirement of 

control, over the opinions and information presented, by anonymous third-parties, ‘The Advertisers’. 

The proprietors of great concerns, similarly, should not be enabled to conceal their identity behind 

such names as ‘The Venus Insurance Company’, ‘The British Imperial House-Purchase Corporation’, 

‘The Patriotic Bank Holding Company’, and the like. Persons who change their names should by law 

be compelled to print their original names in brackets in any such disclosure. The implacable doctrine 

of Civil Service anonymity, also, should be reduced; it is indefensible that men in the public service 

who wield great power over our national affairs should remain secret; the names of high permanent 

officials should be published with those of Ministers, and their actions should be subject to 

Parliamentary debate, with reference to them by name. 

(7) Certain industries of this country are inseparable from and indispensable to our prosperity in peace 

and security in war. These are merchant shipping, coalmining, agriculture, and (in the future) civil 

aviation. The neglect, or even the deliberate repression and discouragement of these (and the fighting 

services) were the main cause of both our greatest recent disasters: mass unemployment and the 

present war. Any ‘Four Year Plan’, or any plan at all, is useless which does not put the fostering of 

these four industries first among its proposals. The principle should be established, that ‘private 

enterprise’ cannot be allowed to go so far as the closure of mines and shipyards; that a fair level of 

wages and prices in agriculture must be set by law; and that the creation of a great merchant marine of 

the air is our first duty when the war ends. 

(8) The principle should be established, that the problem of labour is one of employment, and not of 

unemployment. It should be attacked, first and foremost, through these four industries, which 

themselves are potentially able to employ such masses of workpeople, and on which many other 

smaller industries depend. The industries themselves, and the problem of employment, are both 

auxiliary to, and essential to our island security. As a safeguard against the exploitation of 

unemployment, the indications of coercion and imprisonment should be deleted from the Beveridge 

Plan, if it is otherwise to be adopted. 

(9) Imperial security depends on our island security, and cannot be ensured while the Dominions 

remain empty. The whole structure of Imperial security hangs together, and cannot be better served 

than by a lively process of emigration from this country and of inter-migration between the Dominions 

and this country. The policy of British Governments (and presumably of Dominions Governments, 

too) for ten years before this war, was to hinder and even check such migration, and during the last of 

these years, to promote alien migrations. This is a direct blow at both our insular security and Imperial 

security, and should cease. The Dominions Governments, under stress of this war, have given clear 

signs that they desire a resumption of substantial British emigration after the war. This should be 

encouraged, partly by the assisted emigration of selected and trained candidates, but much more by the 

encouragement of independent emigrants who have saved a little money and are hardy and 


(10) The spiritual discouragement of the people of this country, which is another great source of 

danger to its future, is largely due to the order of class-compartments and privilege which has grown 

up on the basis of Enclosure of the land. The locking-up of the land is also a permanent cause of 

repression and frustration, even when this is not realized by the sufferers. The liberation of the land, 

for the enjoyment of the people, should be pursued in every possible way, as part of a process for 

reinvigorating England. A survey of the remaining common land in the country should be made, and 

all prohibitions and vetoes which have been placed on the use of it by petty authorities removed; and 

such further small and stealthy enclosure should be forbidden in future by law. The practice of fencing 

and railing-off public places should be stopped.[51] 

But that is not enough. The common land was once a large part of England and was taken by legalized 

theft. It should be gradually liberated. The survey should establish the extent of it. The word 

‘nationalization’ is disliked in England, but the restoration of much of this land could be effected by 

means of a compromise. To-day, rich men ‘give’ their estates to the nation; actually they receive as 

much as, or more than, they give, because they are relieved of taxes and death duties, and remain in 

occupation, public access being small. (Parliament should demand from the National Trust, and 

publish, a simple statement of the area of land thus ‘given’ up to the present, and make access general 

by law; otherwise the thing is a fraud.) The area of formerly common land, now in private ownership, 

should be determined and this should gradually revert to public use and enjoyment, the present holders 

being remitted death duties and taxes on it, and remaining in possession of it for a generation. The 

settlement of smallholders and cottagers should be promoted, on a large part of it; and the remaining 

part restored to public enjoyment. This reform would do more than any one thing to revive the English 

countryside and to give the people of this island the feeling that they belong to it, than anything else. 

(11) The Enclosure of education and of opportunity, through the system of public schools which hold 

a monopoly of high public employment, is another great source of social segregation, exclusion and 

frustration, and also depresses the tone of life in this island, and the spirit of the people. The public 

schools should remain, for those who prefer the order of two-nations-living-in-one-island. But exactly 

half the places in them and the universities (and more of these should be established), or else, exactly 

half the places in the commissioned ranks of the fighting services and in higher State employment, 

such as the Civil Service, the Diplomatic Service, and the Law, should be opened to unmoneyed 

youths, who attain a fixed standard at their schools, and are aware when they begin their schooling that 

they can so rise if they are diligent. 

That is how I would sum up the future, if I could. If you, gentle reader, ten years from now, could look 

back and say, these things were done, you would be able to look around you at a happy breed and a 

happy England, and across the Channel, at a Europe, peaceful, respectful of us and grateful to us. In 

their hearts, they would every day of their lives wave flags to us, as those Belgians waved them to us, 

a British pilot and observer, from the streets of Mons on November 10th, 1918. 

These things are good and simple things, which could easily be brought about. They would injure 

none, and benefit all, and give us peace and hope. They would destroy ‘cynicism and bitterness’. They 

will not come about, of themselves. Our Parliament will do none of them, unless it is made to. 

Between us and them, stand secret pledges, secret men, hidden ‘motives’ which precipitate wars, and 

which ‘the statesmen responsible dare not avow’. ‘They’ stand in the way. Public opinion, informed, 

enlightened and vigorous, could quickly change that. 

I wonder how many people realize that we have, to-day, the thing for which we yearned, for which 

seven million Britishers voted, in 1935: a world united, under British leadership, to repel and punish 

aggression. We have it now, and that is why things go better with us; but for the betrayal of 1935, they 

would never have gone ill. 

We have ‘The League of Nations’, armed, strong and punitive. We have now the thing that the soul of 

England called for, then; bear it in mind, gentle reader, so that you may know what you want in future, 

and get it. Our Navy, our Army and our Air Force are no longer English, British, Imperial; they are 

international, but they are British-led! Men of many breeds wear the navy blue, the sky blue, the 

khaki, with small differences of badge and brevet. When you hear that Polish airmen have bombed the 

Ruhr, that Norwegian ships bring us priceless oil, that French cruisers steam with ours in the 

Mediterranean, that Czech troops have shared an attack with ours, you see the thing that you might 

have had in 1935, without a war, to avert a war. That was the thing our leaders threw away, the thing 

we may have again to-morrow, the thing that Anon will wreck again, if he can. 

One more thing. Anon will not seek to destroy us by disarming us, this time. He knows that the people 

would not submit to that. He will try to arm us, and deprive us of the control of our arms – by 

inventing some international body to which our ‘sovereignty’ must be surrendered. That would be fatal. 

The League of Nations was, in effect, a British League, based on our strength, glad of our leadership, 

dismayed at our desertion. You see before your eyes to-day, what it was. That is the thing we need 

tomorrow, and nothing else. 

Ten years ago, I suppose, I began to think, though not then to write, these books: at the moment Hitler 

came to power in 1933. The new war immediately became certain – if we allowed it. The next six-and- 

a-half years, until it began, were years of deepening bewilderment and humiliation: it was, then, not 

only to be allowed, but actively promoted, by those British leaders who ‘held the torch’ for the million 

dead Britishers of the last war! For the nine months after that, between the beginning of the war and 

Dunkirk, I can find no word to describe my feelings. I knew, what none outside a small inner circle 

realized, that our line in France was not being made strong, that the gap was being left through which 

the Germans would come like a dose of salts. To-day, I see no other word than treachery to describe 

that, and as long as we are denied information, the suspicion can only become stronger. 

Then, at last, we began to fight – at long, long last! What hope reborn was that, what an unforgettable 


Yet to-day, I feel that the disillusionment of the last two years has been worse than even that of those 

eight years before; and in saying this I quote the words of another, an authority. The ecstatic moment 

of victory approaches, yes; but there is no basis to all this, because information about the seven 

poltroon years and the seven more than astonishing months has been refused, because the dark order, 

of power wielded in non-accountability, which brought about the war, and the seven months of 

inexplicable inaction, has not been changed. The only hope is, that the people of this country, those 

who are here and those who have yet to return, will fight a Battle in England to change them. Without 

that, their victory will be vain; they surrender their future. 

To-day in England (and I thank the reader who suggested this excellent simile to me) ‘we are like the 

characters in The Three Sisters, who are always going to Moscow – but never set out’. The only clear 

thing in our picture is the valour of our fighting men, who are at length allowed to fight and given 

good weapons. Everything else is confusion. Our Parliament, our politicians, our Press seem resolved 

to stand between us and a confident future. Our plight has been eloquently described by the Editor of 

The Nineteenth Century, in discussing ‘our obscurantists’, a word as good as any to describe these 

infuriating babblers-at-home who can perceive no native ideal or interest, no simple patriotic faith or 

clear way to ensure our safety after this war:  

The unverified assumption and the facile conclusion as to the method [he says] and 

abdication as the purpose – these are the characteristics of the works we have examined 

and of all contemporary obscurantist literature – of the Editorials in The New Statesman

of recent books by Professor Harold Laski, Victor Gollancz, H.G. Wells, Commander 

Stephen King-Hall, Sir Richard Acland, Professor Julian Huxley, Mr. Edward Mousley, 

of at least four of the twelve contributions to A Christian Basis for a Post-War World 

(with an introduction by the Archbishop of Canterbury), of nearly all pronouncements 

on the subject of war-aims by leading members of the Labour Party, and so on and so 

on. Contemporary obscurantism is not confined to the Left. Professor Carr is not, as far 

as we are aware, a man of the Left, and views closely resembling his own are to be 

found in the editorial columns of The Times. Our Continental Allies who judge this 

country by the published word – and few have any other means of judging it – are 

beginning to be appalled by what seems to them a peculiarly intractable and nefarious 

form of defeatism. They are being persuaded that as soon as the power of Germany 

begins to crumble, they must place Great Britain before the accomplished fact of a 

Germany which will, by loss of territory, by deportation, and even by massacre, be 

rendered for ever unable to wage another war, for, unless they act at once and 

drastically, Germany will, if our obscurantists have their way, win the peace after 

having lost the war, and either go to war for the third time or become master of Europe 

without a war. Our obscurantists, for all their tenderness towards the foe, for all their 

condemnation of hatred, and for all their display of superior humanity, are doing the foe 

no good, are helping to intensify hatred and fear, and are inciting to ruthless 



It is true that they do not represent the spirit of England. The heart of the nation is 

sound, but the head is muddled. Head-and heart must work in unison, the sound instinct 

needs a fixed and clearly conceived purpose. Obscurantism has not only invaded the 

world of politics and not only dominates almost every discussion of war-aims and the 

nature of the peace. It has invaded the world of science, of art and religion, and has 

infected broadcasting. It is a denial, while pretending to be an affirmation, of all that is 

best in English life, it is an assault on the integrity of the sovereign intellect and on the 

heritage that has come down from Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. While employing the 

language of freedom, enlightened progress and victory, it is reactionary and defeatist in 

the direst sense. It would destroy an established world, regardless of the human 

happiness that would be buried under the ruins. It would build up a new world of 

colourless abstractions, a City of Dreadful Twilight, oblivious of the fact that the mere 

attempt to bring such a world about would mean revolution more frightful than any that 

was ever experienced. Revolution, and abdication more disastrous and shameful than 

defeat – these are the two things the obscurantists chiefly stand for. Let no one say they 

do not matter because they lack insight and foresight, because their ideas are confused 

and their books are dull. Alas, they matter a great deal. To attack them and to expose 

them has become a patriotic duty. 

If I borrow the words of another, to end this book, that is not because I lack any myself, but because I 

think them among the most notable of our day. Here, one other writer at least has seen what lies 

behind the sham-holy and mock-humanitarian clamour of our Parliament and our newspapers, our 

prelates and our professors; the desire, conscious or unconscious, to destroy us, to weaken everything 

that is good in us, to strengthen our enemies, fail our friends, surrender our future, perpetuate our 

wrongs and deprive us of our rights. 

The Gods may know how we have bred such leaders, and how they have come to such noisy authority 

in our English island. I do not. I only know that the picture I see in this country, the picture which all 

our foreign allies see, is one of maddening confusion in the public debate on the one hand, and simple 

valour among the humble people, on the other. ‘The heart of the nation is sound, but the head is 

muddled.’ How often have I written those very words, and the others: ‘The sound instinct needs a fixed 

and clearly-conceived purpose.’ The time comes when the heart of England will need to assert its 

supremacy over this muddled head, the sound instinct to insist on a firm purpose, or we shall yet be 

betrayed. It is a terrible thing for an Englishman, in this time when our men fight so staunchly, and 

have restored our renown to so high a peak, and when the simple folk endure so much, to see at home 

a condition of affairs which combines the worst features of German and of French life after the last 


Now for the first time, as I reach the end of this last book, I think I perceive faint signs of awakening 

in England. People begin at last to stir and demur, to tell themselves that this war should be fought for 

the British future, and not for a third German war, or a Jewish Empire, or any other of the alien things 

which obsess our leaders, so that they tend completely to ignore the sufferings and anxieties of their 

own people. Perhaps, at last, the English spirit revives. That alone can save us. 

What a great time it has been, what a pageant of staunchness, when you turn your eyes away from that 

dark political scene, towards the ordinary people, these wonderful people, who have every virtue but 

the courage to admonish their leaders. The whole world pays homage to their achievement; the whole 

world fears their leaders. The words of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, which I have quoted, are those 

which you may hear, gentle reader, if you care to inquire, from any Hollander, Pole, Frenchman, 

Czech, Serb, Norwegian or Belgian in this country. They have a deeper respect than ever before for 

the people of this country; but the policies of its leaders reduce them to despair. What can they think, 

when our Foreign Minister pronounces that the Munich Agreement is dead, and a leading newspaper 

(the one which chiefly championed that deed) promptly urges that Poland should be partitioned for the 

benefit of Russia; when voices are clamantly raised in Parliament against the bombing of Germany, 

but never against the bombing of France, Holland or Belgium; when Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt 

promise ‘measures to divert German strength from the attack on Russia’ and ‘a complete plan of action 

to be carried out in the next nine months’, and another Minister derides the ‘Second Front’ as ‘a 

catchpenny phrase’, and so on, and so endlessly on. 

It is the same lunatic babel that we knew in the inter-war years. No wonder that Madame Chiang Kai- 

shek feared it; no wonder these others fear it. I fear it, and so, gentle reader, do you. That is why the 

Archbishop of Canterbury spoke of those many people who ‘dread the end of the war’. 

If our people would produce the energy to impart their own spirit to their leaders, and to control their 

actions, we should have nothing to fear. 

How staunch they are. A great parade of them passes through my memory. The taxi-driver who ‘would 

hate to die in his bed’ and drove through the worst of the Blitz. the bus-drivers who steered their 

cumbersome vehicles through that inferno; the train-guard in whose company I came from Bradford 

into King’s Cross one early morning when the bombing was at its height – a walk across London to his 

home in Brixton awaited him; the R.A.F. pilot whom I saw shot down during the Battle of Britain, and 

his thumbs-up to the crowd when they fished him out of the Channel and brought him ashore; the 

Scots sea-captain in the inn at Dover, with the parachute of the German airman he shot down drying in 

the grate; the old lady I helped pull out of a bombed house in Paddington, who had an impediment in 

her speech, so that she said, indistinctly but emphatically, ‘Oh, ‘y ‘oor ‘oody ‘ead!’; little Dorothy, who 

could have enjoyed the war, for she entertained the troops, but when the sergeant-air-gunner she liked 

was shot down, she rushed off to join the W.A.A.F. (if only more of the women with living men away 

from them were as loyal); young Molly, whom I thought empty, but she drove an ambulance all 

through the Blitz and was bemedalled for it; and all the hundreds of lads I have seen go off to the war 

in the air, at sea and on land. 

With these people, if you could make them think, you could do more than conquer the world; you 

could keep peace in the world and make the world worth living in. 

To the very many men and women of goodwill and deep care for their country, who have 

accompanied me through these five books, who have come all the way with me from 1914 to 1943, 

and have now even shared a journey with me to 1950 and 1960, I owe gratitude for much helpful 

information and invigorating comment. 

If I do not take leave of them with a happy ending, that is because I think the phrase asinine, a part of 

the whole rigmarole of delusion, by means of which spines are softened and wits weakened in our 

time. Life has no ending but death, which few of us think a happy event. Indeed, the only thing we 

would have to complain of in this delightful and perfect planet, if ‘They’ were not, would be, that life is 

too short. But life only offers meaning if we think of it as an endless chain, in which birth and death 

are the links. In that infinite process, ending has no place. It is all beginning; with each new link, the 

chain begins again. 

Not a happy ending, then, but a happy beginning. That, you may have, if you resolve, as the 

pandemonium of victory approaches, and we find that Civvy Street lies behind it, to fight a Battle in 

England for the future. 

And with the wish, that we may join in that happy beginning, I thank you, most gentle reader, and 

hope that we may meet again, but not in Insanity Fair.  


The lapse of time between the completion of a book and its publication and the few blank pages at the 

end, give me the opportunity, as this one goes to press, to sharpen my argument, in the light of recent 

events, by adding this Footnote. 

On the evening of May 12th, 1943, in a Sussex lane, I met a woebegone farmer. The weather 

continued cold and his crops would not grow; they drooped, grey and dispirited, in his fields. That 

night was warm, and when the sun rose on May 13th the scene in the fields was already magically 

changed; at eventide, when it went down, sturdy regiments of wheat and oats stood straight and strong, 

and grew almost as you watched. That selfsame day, May 13th, the newspapers contained the tidings 

of our victory in Africa. Not another local success, but complete and final victory; the Germans killed 

or captured to a man. I shall never forget that morning, with the crops reviving, the sun climbing 

happily into a golden sky, my farmer friend smiling broadly where he scowled the day before, and the 

exultant headlines in the newspapers. 

At last! For the first time since Hitler came to power in 1933, daylight showed ahead. Victory 

beckoned. The Germans had suffered the two greatest defeats in their warlike history: those of 

Stalingrad and Africa. Now we had only to close our grip on the Mediterranean; squeeze Italy out of 

the war, who was ready and anxious to be so squeezed; strike unremittingly from the air at the German 

war-machine, which fortunately is compressed into the corner of Germany nearest to us, the Ruhr; 

land on the French coast; and victory would be ours. 

Such will be the course of events in 1943, or early i944, if we do these things. Shall we now do them, 

or will the dead hand intervene again, to frustrate our hopes? If the war should now drag on into 1944 

and 1945 and 1946, perhaps into 1950, we may be quite certain that the enemy we fight is no longer 

Germany, or ‘The Axis’, but that invisible foe who was indicated by a significant phrase in Mr. 

Churchill’s speech at Washington on May 19th, 1943 (after our African victory):  

We have surmounted many serious dangers, but there is one grave danger which will go 

along with us to the end. That danger is the undue prolongation of the war

Like Mr. Lloyd George (who spoke of those ‘motives which precipitate wars’ and which ‘the statesmen 

responsible for conducting wars dare not avow’), Mr. Churchill points to the existence of dark and 

secret things, but does not reveal them. 

This war already has been unduly prolonged, and in this book I have sought to detect the reasons by 

showing what powerful interests profit from its continuance. It was prolonged when we let pass the 

opportunities of 1942 and 1941. It was prolonged at its very beginning, in 1940 and 1939, when the 

British-held gap in the Maginot Line was allowed to remain unfilled during ‘the astonishing months of 

the phoney war’ (Mr. Churchill). To the accumulating evidence about that sinister period may now be 

added a book, Infantry Officer (J.T. Batsford, 1943) by a subaltern of the B.E.F., which went to France 

in 1939. It only contains ‘as much of’ my experiences as the censor would pass’, but includes this 

striking revelation about the ‘phoney war’ period (during which Australian and South African 

Ministers personally but vainly warned Mr. Chamberlain of the state of the British line in France):  

During those eight months I don’t think I took part in one field exercise, though I did 

construct a railway station yard, build a road, and turn a stream into an anti-tank 

obstacle. No, I’m wrong; not a complete obstacle. When it was half finished we left it to 

build the road. 

The phoney war left this British island defenceless (though it was inexplicably spared). Australia 

(similarly spared) was left to face an imminent Japanese invasion with ‘only ten tanks’ (an official 

Australian Statement); and the Australian Minister of Supply, Mr. Beasley, stated at Canberra on June 

23rd, 1943, that ‘the Chamberlain policy’ was ‘that the Dominions might have to be lost and then won 

back’. What, then, was ‘the Chamberlain policy’ about this island? Why was the gap in the Maginot 

Line left open? The question becomes more and more important for our future, as the event itself 


Wars, then, may be, and have been ‘unduly prolonged’. Now victory is within our grasp. 

No sooner was our victory in Africa complete (the Germans, as I have often written, have a sudden 

and brittle breaking point, and collapsed in Africa just fourteen days after an unnamed Eighth Army 

general, in the Daily Mail, said ‘There will be no quick and crushing defeat of the Axis forces; they 

will fight to the last man and the last bullet’), than the clamour against the bombing of Rome (‘a crime’, 

the Bishop of Lichfield), and against the bombing of Germany broke out in new fury. 

For instance, Mr. Harold Nicolson has announced (in the Spectator) that if the only argument in 

favour of our bombing of Germany were that it would have the same effect upon Germany’s internal 

resistance as was produced in 1918 by the blockade (that effect, I may interpolate, was the defeat of 

Germany) he would feel it to be ‘better to have another year of military warfare than to achieve victory 

by bombing in the night’. Who is better qualified than he to say What We Are Fighting For? He is a 

former diplomat, a former deputy Minister of Information, a Member of Parliament and a Governor of 

the B.B.C. If he, then, is ready staunchly to face another year of military warfare’, what serving 

soldier, sailor, airman, or wife of any of these should complain? 

Ah, this England! Those of its sons and daughters who dread ‘anything radical, any change’ have no 

cause to fear. Not even the phrases change, from war to war. 

‘Another year of military warfare’! Well, enough people in this country might welcome the thought of 

many more such years, not only one, and dread the approach of peace. ‘Big money has been made in 

the City this week. Diamond and gold shares have been moving up rapidly, and when business closed 

yesterday many brokers went home with that lightness of heart which comes with a comfortable 

increase in the bank balance’ (The Evening Standard, June 26th, 1943). Compare this cheery item with 

the words of our Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Kingsley Wood, On February 2nd, 1943: ‘The 

whole world will be much poorer after the war’. Hard-working citizens will be much poorer, through 

taxation, the interruption of careers, and the ruin of businesses. But gains made on the Stock Exchange 

are free from taxation, like so many directors’ fees and all increase in property values. 

The long delay in bombing Germany is already chief among the causes of the undue prolongation of 

this war. (About that, too, we now have a piece of evidence. Major General Eaker, Commander of the 

American air forces in this country, speaking on June 10th, 1943, said that during 1942, Air Chief 

Marshal Harris, the head of R.A.F. Bomber Command, was asked about the effects of air bombing and 

answered caustically, I don’t know. Why don’t we try it some time?’) 

As I write, we are at last using this weapon to the full, with immediate results of the first importance. 

It is a war-winning weapon. One of the greatest battles of this war, and the one which for three years 

went all in favour of our enemy, was the unseen one which has been fought to hinder us in using it. If 

the dead hand successfully interferes again, this war will be unduly prolonged once more. But its 

undue prolongation will have an inexorable result: the loss of the peace. 

The hidden mechanism of a war is not an agreeable thing to see when you place it beneath the X-rays. 

Since I finished this book, in which I have referred to the Skoda Works, the R.A.F. has been sent to 

bomb that great arms factory. The return journey was one of over 1,000 miles and the bomber crews 

had to battle their way through the full fury of the German defences for the greater part of that 

distance, both coming and going. For Skoda is in Czechoslovakia, which, as Mr. Chamberlain said, is 

a long way away; he also said that he knew little about it, but the R.A.F. crews will now know quite a 

lot about it. 

Our losses were heavy that night; indeed, our newspapers stated that the raid was the costliest 

excursion of its kind ever made by our airmen, and this was no wonder; writing in 1937, when 

Czechoslovakia was still free, I said that ‘Czechoslovakia means you’, and the relatives of the men who 

did not return, as well as the survivors who did, will now see clearly what I meant, and will, I hope, 

take pains to examine the records, in this respect, of candidates who seek their vote at the next 


For the Skoda Works are in that part of Czechoslovakia which was handed to Germany at Mr. 

Chamberlain’s command. The newspapers, which paid fervent tribute to the courage of our bomber 

crews, did not recall that fact; nor did they remind their readers that British shareholders in the 

bombed Skoda works, where our airmen found the flak so fierce, would duly receive their dividends, 

through the agency of the British Government. 

Between compassion for our enemies and for the Jews of Europe, and indifference to the sufferings of 

the British people and the non-Jewish Europeans, which will grow more bitter if the war is ‘unduly 

prolonged’, the public debate in this island is one of confusion becoming worse confounded. 

Infatuation for, or subservience to the cause of Jewish nationalism produces excesses for which even a 

Government spokesman in the House of Commons on May 19th, 1943 was forced to use the word 

‘fantastic’. He alluded, among other examples, to the case of ‘an aged Jewish couple in Berlin’, much 

publicized in one of the hundreds of Jewish pamphlets now current. They were refused admission to 

this country, and this was depicted as another instance of British cruelty; all propaganda in this cause 

tends to take on a virulently anti-British note. Sanctuary in this country was claimed for them by their 

son, ‘a naturalized Turk in Istanbul’. The son proved to be Krupps’ agent in Turkey, a man who 

negotiated large sales of German arms to foreign countries! 

Infatuated Gentiles, however, as always, far surpass the Jews themselves in extravagant demands. The 

Catholic Times, in February 1943, reported that a priest, a Dr. Bernard Grimley, vice-chairman of ‘The 

Leicester Christian Council’, at a public meeting in that city said, ‘Let us offer the Germans Hess in 

exchange for 100,000 Jews. Let them have their submarine commanders back in return for Jews 

threatened with death’. 

The Germans hold 90,000 British captives, to say nothing of Poles, Frenchmen, Hollanders and all the 

rest. The British prisoners-of-war, especially those whose homes or families are in Leicester, should 

appreciate this proposal, as should our sailors and merchant seamen the other suggestion, that captured 

submarine commanders should be returned to Germany. The Catholic Times said that this meeting 

‘had the support of Leicester’s three M.P.s’. The electors of Leicester, especially those who have served 

overseas, or who mourn or pine for menfolk killed or captured, might care to ask these politicians, 

when next they stand at an election, on what conception of patriotism, or even of elected 

representation, they base such an attitude. 

The affair of Hess bids fair to become a bitter comedy. How many people in this country now believe 

that this ringleader of the men we are taught to regard as fiends in human form, will be punished? In 

1942 the British Government sent to the Soviet Government a solemn Anglo-American memorandum 

about the punishment of such guilty men, and asked for its views. The Russians have a sense of 

humour and replied, through an inspired newspaper article, ‘If you are in such a hurry about bringing 

the war criminals to book, why don’t you try the one you hold, Hess?’ Whitehall hurriedly changed the 


Yet this is important. Hess becomes a public joke. Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, who sought to enlist 

Yugoslavia among our enemies and was driven out by his own people, is vehemently defended in 

Parliament when allusions to his conduct are made. The name of Mr. John Amery, who broadcasts 

violent attacks on us from Berlin, is never mentioned in the British Press. Seemingly persons of social 

rank, whatever their guilt, will not be held guilty. Yet an obscure British subject, one William Craven, 

28 years of age, who wrote a letter to the German Legation in Dublin ‘in the intent to help the enemy’, 

has been sentenced to penal servitude for life, and will presumably serve that sentence! 

What of the Empire? On June 23rd, 1943, the result of a popular canvass held in Canada was 

published. The questions put referred to the future of Canada. Of the people who were questioned, 49 

per cent (or just under half) held that Canada should continue as a member of the British 

Commonwealth; 21 per cent, that it should become part of the United States; 24 per cent, that it should 

become an independent nation. Analysis of the result showed that those who wished to remain in the 

British Commonwealth were mainly ‘Canadians of British ancestry’. (The emigration of such to 

Canada between the wars was discouraged in every possible way, either by intention or stupidity.) 

Those who wished Canada to be absorbed by the United States were ‘Canadians of other origins’. (The 

emigration of such as these to Canada was promoted in the last ten of the inter-war years, and is still 

being promoted by the encouragement of Jewish mass-movements from Europe, during the absence of 

British and Canadian manhood at the war.) 

Well might Dr. Trevor Owen, Archbishop of Toronto and Primate of All Canada, say, on May 2nd, 

1943, that Canada hoped for ‘several more million British immigrants after the war’. But the British 

Government, which sent no less than three Ministers to a ‘refugee conference’ at Bermuda in April, has 

announced no plans for British emigration to the Dominions, or for Imperial inter-migration, and 

seems unconcerned about such things. And who will expect help in so vital a matter from our present 

Parliament, of which Sir Patrick Hannon, on May 13th, 1943, said ‘Look around the House and see the 

condition of the Members. What a testimony we ourselves offer to the administration of the Ministry 

of Food – always cheerful, bright and happy. And if you make an occasional visit to their lordships in 

the House of Lords you see in them an abiding reflection of prosperity in the matter of nutrition’. (On 

August 2nd, 1939, a few weeks before the war began, Mr. Chamberlain moved to adjourn the 

Commons until October 3rd. The young Tory Member, Ronald Cartland, who was to fall among the 

first victims when the ‘phoney war’ ended and the Germans came through the open gap ‘like a dose of 

salts’, attacked Mr. Chamberlain for making ‘a jeering, pettifogging party speech’. Sir Patrick Hannon, 

who, like Cartland and Chamberlain, represented a Birmingham constituency, made a bitter attack on 

Cartland, saying he wished to declare ‘on behalf of the City of Birmingham their profound confidence 

in the Prime Minister and their devotion to his policy’.) 

In the British Empire, and at its borders, the shadow of things to come looms up, while the war still 

goes on, or while it is ‘unduly prolonged’. Sir Reginald Storrs, our foremost Palestinian expert, 

warningly remarked in the Sunday Times that the Jews ‘have officially proclaimed their utter rejection 

of the White Paper’ (by which the British Government pledged itself to check further Jewish 

immigration and to set up a joint Arab-Jewish State, as distinct from a Jewish one with the Arabs 

relegated to a state of subjection in their own lands) and that the Jews hold ‘considerable armaments 

under their control’. General Nuri Said, the Prime Minister of Irak, in an interview published in the 

News-Chronicle on June 16th, 1943, expressed similar forebodings, saying ‘At present there is only 

one cloud on the Arab horizon. That is the renewed agitation by the Zionists for a Jewish State as 

distinct from a Jewish national home in Palestine’. (The British pledge of 1917 was for a Jewish 

national home.) ‘Arabs firmly adhere to the White Paper and demand that the British Government do 

likewise, for their fear is that in a wave of sympathy for persecuted Jewry promises and pledges over 

Palestine may again become confused‘. And the Wahabi King of Saudi Arabia, in a statement 

published in June 1943, expressed the same misgivings, saying that ‘the Jews cannot justify a claim to 

Palestine by recalling that they used to live there before the Romans conquered them, who in their rum 

were driven out by the Arabs 1300 years ago … if the Jews need a place in which to live, there are 

countries in Europe, America and elsewhere that are larger, more fertile and more convenient to their 


Even if this war should not be ‘unduly prolonged’, if it should now soon be ended as it ought to be, 

British arms do not need to be drawn, through the might of finance, into a great new conflict in the 

Near East, in the service of a cause which is not our own. The grave subservience of our Parliament 

and Press to this cause, however, creates the danger that this may happen, and it is essential that our 

policy in the world should cast off the tutelage, in this respect, into which it has fallen, and should 

revert to the service of British interests. 

Will the war be ‘unduly prolonged’? Well, if we had struck in 1942 or 1941, our men would have met 

an enemy so desperately embroiled with Russia in the East that he would have been sore put to it to 

turn and face them in sufficient strength. But if they attack in 1943 (and we are promised this every 

day) they may find an enemy relieved of that mortal danger in the east, so that he will be able to bring 

scores of divisions from Russia to confront them in the west. Will Russia then open ‘a second front’ for 

us? In the light of this question, the sweethearts and wives of our men who will one day attack should 

look back on the clamour against invasion, which filled 1942 and 1941, and see for themselves how 

wars may be prolonged and victory made costlier. 

Nevertheless, victory will have to come, later or sooner, and the signs are clear that it moves towards 

us – rather than we towards it. For thirty Conservative M.P.s have proposed (quite logically) the 

partitioning of Prussia after the war, and an indefinite occupation; thus did Conservative Members 

warn Mr. Lloyd George by telegram, at the last Peace Conference, not to be weak with Germany – and 

in 1938 they clamoured for the propitiation of Germany by the abandonment of small nations liberated 

in that war. Labour M.P.s demand in the House of Commons that the bombing of Germany should 

cease (they utter no complaint about the bombing of France, Belgium, Holland, Norway or Greece), 

they made similar demands about the naval blockade, towards the end of the last war – and in 1938 

they clamoured that this country, the armed strength and foreign policy of which they did so much to 

weaken, should oppose the German aggressor with arms. And Mr. Herbert Morrison, who seemingly 

grooms himself for the Socialist leadership after this war, in all his speeches cries that, when we have 

defended Freedom With All Our Might, the only hope of future happiness for our people will lie in 

‘the continuance of control’, in the submission of the workpeople to further dictation, by Mr. Dodger of 

the Labour Exchange, in the matter of the work they are to perform, the wage they are to receive, and 

the place of their dwelling. Thus do the present-day descendants of the liberated bondmen extol 

bondage as the means by which England may be made happy. They are as avid for power, for power’s 

sake, as were the feudal barons and the captains of capital. But that way, quite certainly, lie new 

disasters and new wars. 

Well may the British citizen, as the old phrases of 1918 and 1919 crop up again, feel himself like a 

man who sits in a picture-theatre and watches a continuous performance of the same film; and well 

may he mutter to himself, ‘This is where I came in’. 

With the best of goodwill, it is not possible to contemplate these things and say, that our situation to- 

day is clearer than it was towards the end of the last war, in which the victory of our arms brought us 

no security because of the infirmity of our policies in the following peace. M. Jan Masaryk, the 

Czechoslovak Deputy Prime Minister, in May 1943 said he was grateful to ‘the British soldiers, those 

small, humble citizens who are capable of being the greatest heroes … As soon as the war ends they 

will modestly disappear into their little homes and cease to be glorious, and that is their greatest glory 

of all’. 

He could not be more wrong. That would be their greatest, and irretrievable mistake, for, in the words 

of another of our allies, Commandant Kicq of the Belgian Army (April 1943), ‘Seven out of ten 

Europeans feel that British policy after the last war towards Germany was responsible for the present 

war; they would be relieved if Great Britain promised, not to “Hang the Kaiser”, but to ensure peace’. 

That can happen again, if those ‘humble citizens’ withdraw, snail-like, into their ‘little homes’, and 

leave the care of British policy to such men as those who brought it to disaster between 1919 and 

1939. In the words of Admiral Riiser-Larsen, Commander-in-Chief of the Norwegian Royal Air 

Force, ‘While I have no fear of what Stalin would say or what Mr. Churchill would want to do when 

victory is won, I am afraid of what Britain will do and how you will look upon Germans, because you 

are too decent. You say vengeance and revenge belong to God, but it’s no use threatening people with 

that when they don’t believe in God.’ 

Are we then to have another Beanfeast in England, instead of the Battle in England which we need? 

The B.B.C., which keeps useful discussion of our affairs out of its broadcasts, though it blows 

raspberries to Hitler and tells the young girls of England that they ‘have got to give in to a soldier’, has 

now struck the note for the peace-to-come: ‘We’re gonna get lit-up when the lights go on in London.’ 

Just that. A tight little island, for a day or two, and after that – who cares? 

The decade, 1930-40, was, I think, one of the saddest and most abject in our history. That tragic 

comedy of errors, that pageant of human stupidity and cupidity, has been vividly depicted in a 

Voltairean masterpiece of our times which the greater public, I imagine, has overlooked: The Thirties

by Malcolm Muggeridge (Hamish Hamilton, 1940). Obtain it, gentle reader, and contemplate, with a 

wry and rueful smile, but with the resolve to learn its lesson, the gruesome picture of all our 


Now, we plough through The Roaring Forties. Nearly four of the ten years of the new decade are 

already behind us. Save for the peerless feat of our fighting men, their story already bears a grim 

likeness to that of the past. History in repetition, like a story too often told, becomes tedious; even 

stupidity palls in time, as a joke. 

May we all, in 1950, look back on The Forties with a different feeling, and a prouder one – lest we 



July 9, 1943  



1: Already a generation is forming to which this talk of ‘the twenty years’ may convey little, since it’s 

members were too young to feel the sense of betrayal, frustrated idealism, and increasing despair 

which the Chinese, Abyssinian and Chechoslovak episodes, to chart only the peaks, caused in their 

parents. One way to gain a vivid glimpse of the period is to read two plays which I mentioned in 

another book: Priestley, Time and the Conways (Heinemann, 1937), and Somerset Maugham, For 

Services Rendered (Heinemann, 1932), and to picture oneself fifteen years from now, in the place of 

some of the characters. 

2: ‘A Brief History of the Next War’, in All Our Tomorrows

3: Memories are so short and people grow so fast that I here explain briefly what the word ‘Munich’ 

signifies; people who to-day are old enough to serve, and are called on to serve as a result of the thing 

that was done at Munich, begin to ask vaguely, ‘What happened, at Munich, exactly?’ In September 

1938 Hitler, after other experiments in aggression which were condoned by the British Government, 

turned on Chechoslovakia. This country was ready to fight, as was Russia, and stop the rot. The 

official policy of the British Government, that is, the proclaimed policy on the strength of which the 

electors returned it to office in 1935, was to stop aggression. Mr. Chamberlain flew three times to 

Germany, and after the last flight to Munich, forced the Chechoslovak Government to surrender part 

of its territory to Hitler, intimating that Chechoslovakia would receive no British support if it resisted. 

The territory involved contained the Chechoslovak defences. Without it, rump Chechoslovakia was as 

defenceless as we should have been after Dunkirk without the English channel. It was obvious that, 

after a pause, Hitler would seize the rest. In view of the mass of information which, for five years 

before that time, was supplied to the British Government, it is impossible to believe (1) that Mr. 

Chamberlain really thought that the peace was saved by the surrender of Munich; (2) that he did not 

know that the ultimate outbreak of war, through that surrender, would find us in a much worse 

situation than if we accepted the challenge then, and (3) that he did not know that a stand then might 

have averted war altogether. 

4: Destruction of an Army, and The Abyssinian Campaign, H.M. Stationery Office, 1942. 

5: The Annals of Agriculture, ed. Arthur Young, London, 1784-1815, vol. xxxvi, p. 508. 

6: An American, Claude C. Washburn, wrote in Pages from the Book of Paris (Constable, 1910): ‘In 

France the individual is the unit; but in England the unit is the whole. The individual rights of which 

the Englishman is so proud are only material rights that affect his bodily comfort; of genuine personal 

liberty he has no conception. He may walk the streets in almost complete safety from physical attack; 

but he has thrust upon him from childhood the cold formalism of an established religion. The precincts 

of his property are rigorously protected against aggression; but socially he himself is born into as iron- 

clad a system of slavery as has ever existed. Rich or poor, of high rank or low, he is classified at birth 

as a member of a caste in which not the individual but the type is the reality … Suggest to an 

Englishman an act that would be an infringement, however slight, on a class to which he does not 

belong; he will not reply, “I cannot do that because …”, but simply, “That is not done”. The system is 

perfect. Nor does the Englishman want it changed. I can find no analogy for the willing pride with 

which he accepts his bondage. Imagine all the negroes of the South rising as one man at the time of the 

emancipation, crying “We will not be free”, and turning in anger on President Lincoln, and you have 

but a feeble likeness to the attitude of the English towards their would-be liberators; for the negroes 

were only stupid children, while the English are a race of men, enlightened, “progressive”, almost 

civilized indeed, one would say….’ 

7: An excellent account of Enclosure is given in J.L. and Barbara Hammond, The Village Labourer 

(Longmans, Green & Co., 1911), and I am indebted to this book for much valuable information. 

8: I am grateful to the executrix of the late G.K. Chesterton, and to the publishers, Messrs. Hodder & 

Stoughton, for permission to quote this extract from his excellent book William Cobbett, 1925. 

9: Lord Keyes, whose project to seize Trondjem might, in the view of good observers, have saved 

Norway and inflicted a major defeat on the Germans early in the war, who has now been dismissed 

from leadership of the Commandos, which have been inactive since his retirement, stated in March 

1943 that the Commandos could have been used to seize Tunis and Bizerta in November 1942, while 

the First Army moved up on land. As I write, our long pause in Tunisia, which is caused by the 

German hold on those two ports, threatens to prolong the war still further. 

Rear-Admiral M.W.W.P. Consett, who was British Naval Attaché in Scandinavia during the last war, 

in 1928 published a book called The Triumph of Unarmed Forces (Williams and Norgate), which 

deserves close study by all who seek the causes of war. Its theme is, that while the British armed 

forces strove for victory, the British unarmed forces, such as finance and goods supply, helped 

Germany to hold out. The sub-title of the book is, ‘An account of the transactions by which Germany 

during the Great War was able to obtain supplies prior to her collapse under the pressure of economic 

forces’. In his preface, Admiral Consett says ‘The war was prolonged far beyond the limits of necessity 

… From the very beginning goods poured into Germany from Scandanavia, and for over two years 

Scandanavia received from the British Empire and the Allied countries stocks which, together with 

those from neutral countries, exceeded all previous quantities and literally saved Germany from 

starvation’. The gravest facts are disclosed in this book about the way essential war materials from this 

country reached Germany through Scandanavia, thus ‘prolonging the war’. 

Admiral Consett quotes a protest of his own to the British Minister in Norway, in 1916, about the 

continued supply of lard to Denmark, which was thus enabled to release an amount to Germany 

yielding enough nitro-glycerine for 600 tons of gun ammunition; as well as a letter from a Danish 

naval officer to himself expressing sympathy with him ‘for having to live as you do amongst these 

people who are making fortunes in supplying your enemies with food when the officers and men of 

the British Navy are risking their lives in trying to blockade your enemies’. I have not seen the figures 

of our trade with Sweden published during this war, but the memory of Admiral Consett’s invaluable 

book is awakened by an item published in an Australian newspaper on November 11th, 1942: ‘A 

message from Stockholm says that the Swedish Stock Exchange had a black Monday coinciding with 

news of the Allied landings in North Africa, when traders judged that early peace prospects were 

excellent. Shares in armaments and subsidiary plants fell, many touching a record low. Some lost 50 


The causes of war are important to detect. But the causes of the prolongation of wars, once begun, are 

equally important, and Admiral Consett’s book gives the most authentic information I know of one of 

these causes. They are important to bear in mind when considering the strong opposition which always 

arises, in this country, to any public clamour for action which might shorten the war. 

10: In March 1943, land bought for about £75 an acre in 1913 was sold for £283 an acre, at Boston in 

Lincolnshire, while a house in that town which was worth about £150 before this war, was sold for 

£500. In the House of Commons, about the same time, Mr. James Griffiths, M.P. for Llanelly, 

reported that a house in London which was bought fro £950 in 1939 was sold for £1,500 in 1942, that 

a cottage sold for £575 in 1939 was resold in 1942 for £1,075, and that houses condemned before this 

war are now being sold for £500 and £600. These conditions are now general in England. 

11: The method, of denying either inquiry or the public right to any information, has now seemingly 

become Government doctrine, and the citizen who continues to desire enlightenment about his own 

affairs may soon commit a penal offence, by the way matters go. In March 1943, as a result of the 

absurdly exaggerated blackout, to which I have drawn attention in several books, 173 people were 

crushed to death in a shelter accident. Mr. Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary, announced that ‘no 

good Londoner would want to look for scapegoats’, and a public inquiry was refused. 

12: Lord Vansittart, who was permanent head of the Foreign Office for five years after Hitler came to 

power, who understood the German situation perfectly, whose counsel would have averted this war, 

and who occupied the post which, by all tradition, gives authoritative guidance in such major issues of 

foreign policy, revealed in March 1943 that in 1938, ‘I was removed from my post because I was anti- 


13: The search for the sinister powers which brought this war about reveals that precisely the same 

thing happened in America! For the American Ambassadors, unlike the British, have now been 

allowed to speak. An astonishing document is the White Paper, called Peace and War, issued by the 

United States Government on January 2nd, 1943, and published in London by H.M. Stationery Office. 

It contains a mass of warnings, covering a period of many years before the war, from United States 

envoys all over the world! The most amazing is the warning delivered by the American ambassador in 

Tokyo (of Japanese plans for a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour) on January 27th, 1941, ten months 

before the actual attack occurred! A few days before the attack, he urgently recommended especial 

vigilance at Pearl Harbour. The attack found an unguarded naval base, unwary garrison and unready 

air force! Of this a Republican leader, Senator Vandenberg, said, ‘Our failure to be on alert at Pearl 

Harbour approaches the infamy of treason’. The same words could be spoken in this country. 

14: French officers noticed the same thing; see Arthur Koestler’s Scum of the Earth, p. 157 (Jonathan 

Cape, 1941), ‘Perhaps “they” didn’t want the gap closed’ says a young French officer. ‘Who are “they”? 

‘I don’t know … I only know what I saw.’ German officers also noticed this. See de Polnay’s Death and 

To-Morrow, p. 91.: To him [a German colonel] the quick German successes in Flanders and in France 

were a much a mystery as to me. Several times he asked me how it was possible that the French and 

the English did nothing to prevent them. Germany had shown in Poland her methods of warfare. The 

Polish campaign was but a dress-rehearsal of the May offensive. He, the professional soldier, was very 

much perplexed by it.’ 

15: Unhappily and ominously, the United States Government, according to The Times of April 10th, 

1943, is ‘preparing to co-operate with other Governments of the United Nations on the re-education of 

post-war Europe’. A Dr. Ralph Turner, of the “cultural relations division of the United States 

Department of State”, said the American Government was “not trying to formulate a programme in 

this educational matter”, but was “preparing to support a programme of private agencies which could 

be made part of a United Nations programme“. 

16: In his new office, Mr. Butler displays anew his unique talent for withholding information about 

our vital affairs. Innumerable questions have not extracted from him any indication about his 

education proposals for this country, or whether they will leave the class-order in education and 

opportunity unimpaired. Asked for an assurance that he would at least produce these proposals ‘during 

this century’, he merely answered, ‘I hope so’. In February 1943, horror of horrors, he announced that 

he was considering the preparation, for the instruction of European minds after the war, of ‘history 

books of an objective character’. When English school books contain an objective account of 

Enclosure or the 1935 Election, we might think of writing history books for Europe! 

17: From The Story of the Australians in Malaya, by Gilbert Mant, an Australian War Correspondent 

(the Currawong Publishing Co., Sydney). Mr. Mant, in his valuable book, confirms other reports of the 

State of Singapore:  

The Malays in Burma, of whom there were more than 2,000,000, as a race maintained a disinterested 

neutrality. The truth of the matter is that the native races were completely indifferent regarding the 

Allied cause. Without actively opposing it, they had little cause to love the British regime of the type 

Malaya enjoyed, and felt that if Japan won, it would mean merely a change of masters … Australian 

private soldiers were refused admittance to the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and to such European clubs 

as the Selamgor at Kuala Lumpur and the Sungei Ujong at Seremban, though many of these volunteers 

were respected members of exclusive Australian clubs and carried letters of introduction to the 

secretaries of affiliated clubs in Malaya. In Australia at this time such well-known clubs as the Royal 

Sydney Golf Club, the Union Club and others were extending hospitality to British Malayan judges 

and civil servants who were members of affiliated Malayan clubs … In all parts of Malaya the cultured 

class of Indians and Chinese has first-rate clubs of their own and many Australian private soldiers 

soon found that here they were indeed welcome … No more biting commentary on the European 

outlook in Malaya can be given than to mention that Australian soldiers, banned from their own clubs, 

were accused of ‘lowering British prestige’ by mixing so intimately with the Indians and Chinese in 

their clubs … Unquestionably there was an acute class consciousness and a moral flabbiness amongst 

the Europeans in Malaya. Here snobbishness ruled supreme. A British resident was an official and 

social god. The Tuans Besar were minor gods, with many worshippers. This is not an attack on the 

European civil servant, the rubber and tin man in Malaya. They were all Michael Arlen’s ‘charming 

people’, and, through lack of official guidance, the events after the outbreak of war with Japan left 

them in a rather pathetic daze. They saw their whole world collapsing round them; not only material 

bomb damage, but spiritual damage. Many lost everything they possessed. The whole thing to them 

was fantastically unreal. They walked around, bewildered, unable to understand the catastrophe … It is 

impossible to escape the conclusion that the Europeans in Malaya, as well as in other parts of the Far 

East, led preposterously spoilt, artificial existences. 

18: The small relic of our land which is still ‘common’ to us was indeed smothered in foulness, and 

often still is. The reason is, that petty local authorities, who since the days of Enclosure tend to ape the 

enclosing gentry, like to forbid the use of the remaining commons. If not watched night and day, they 

enclose them. By chance, I happened on a case in Sussex, where a local commoner was summoned for 

causing three horses and two goats’ to be grazed on Lindfield Common In Contravention Of A 

Cuckfield Urban District Council By-Law! Not even for this, may the few remaining commons be 

used nowadays! The criminal, in this case, was stout-hearted enough to challenge the village despots’ 

right to forbid commoners from using commons. When I last heard of the case, counsel was ploughing 

through Latin documents of the times of Charles the Second, and had already discovered long buried 

treasure in the form of ‘rights of commonage and common pasture’. 

19: The day after I wrote this I read in my morning newspapers that a V.C. of this war, discharged 

with a pension granted for one year, was appearing on the music hall stage in uniform to earn money. 

20: I am grateful to Mr. Francis Brett Young and to Messrs. William Heinemann for permission to 

quote these lines from his Portrait of a village, 1937. 

21: Francis Brett Young, Portrait of a Village (Heinemann, 1937). 

22: Sure enough, the Government gave way! 

23: At the subsequent elections, between 1918 and the present war, the number of Conservative 

Members returned, out of 615, was 347 (1922), 258 (1923), 415 (1924), 260 (1929), 472 (1931), and 

387 (1935). For eighteen of those twenty-one years, the Conservatives enjoyed large majorities. 

24: In March 1943, Mr. Churchill, in a national broadcast, indicated that this was in fact his intention. 

25: ‘National Government’ (or, ‘Coalition Government’) is a spoil-sharing pact at the electors’ expense. 

Members of Parliament, by ‘agreeing to abstain from controversial matters’, betray their pledge to him 

and his interests. Individual members, however, like the method. During this war, through the 

distribution among the docile of offices, employment, privileges, perquisites, invitations to broadcast-

on-condition-of-saying-nothing, petrol allowances, journey’s abroad, and the like, the life of a Member 

has become so blissful compared with that of the citizen or fighting man, that many would like to 

perpetuate the ‘One Party Parliament’. 

If that befell, we should emerge from the war with a Parliament of Yes-Yes men similar to Hitler’s 

Reichstag of SS men. We have invariably received the exact opposite of what we have fought for or 

been promised, since 1914, and it was obvious that, if we only defended Freedom with all our might 

for long enough, this proposal would be made. 

Commander Stephen King-Hall, M.P., in a letter to The Times in February 1943, says he has ‘long 

believed that we are in a state of crisis which demands the application in our politics of the principle of 

national government’; that ‘there is no likelihood for a long time to come of the crisis abating to an 

extent which will make it sensible to go back to the party-government system … We may never go 

back to it’. These words are indistinguishable from many speeches made by Nazi leaders, in 1932 and 


This would further exclude the people from Parliament and prevent them, in any circumstances 

whatever, from being able to exert influence or control upon it. If this ‘One Big Party’ project is 

realized, this country may confidently look forward to an even graver deterioration in our public life 

and the conduct of our affairs, than we experienced in 1919-39. The return of sufficient Independent 

candidates to Parliament would checkmate it; they could exercise there the duty of watchmanship 

which enough Members of Parliament seemingly would gladly surrender in return for material 


26: The facts should be known even to the shortest of memories, but I refer readers to two chapters, ‘A 

Snap Election’, and ‘How a Nation Was Hoaxed’, in L. Macneill Weir, Tragedy of Ramsay MacDonald 

(Secker and Warburg, 1938). 

27: Lord Wedgwood was a member of the Commons for thirty-six years, before his recent translation 

to the Lords. 

28: Which proposed, not ‘Peace at any price’, but collective resistance to aggression and State control 

of the armaments industry. 

29: Waif-and-strayhood among young people is a sign of spiritual despair always seen in countries 

which pass through bad times. It was prevalent in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution, and in 

Germany after the last war. In our wealthy land, it is inexcusable and can only spring from a lack of 

civic responsibility. The newspaper reports about this generation of waifs and strays which rises in 

England, are deeply significant. During March 1943, two of these pathetic children passed, 

shadowlike, through the columns of the Press. One was an eight-year-old boy of Bristol. He lived 

‘among the ruins of bombed buildings and ate food from pig bins’. The other was a nineteen-year-old 

girl of some education. She lived with a French-Indian soldier of the Canadian Forces in a wigwam 

which he built for her on a Surrey common. Her only possessions were a crucifix, a Bible and a 

rosary. She did not smoke or drink. On the wooden supports of the wigwam she carved simple 

prayers. Her letters to the man (who could not even read them) show a being gentle, religious, and 

idealistic. ‘I would not blame you one little bit if you did not want to marry me, because I am really too 

young and old fashioned to be married. I regret what we did because it is wicked … oh, the smell of 

burning wood, the loveliest smell in the world’. This girl was murdered, and her body buried on the 

common by the man. Much of the current radio and film entertainment, and newspaper material 

offered to these young people might have been devised with an eye to their corruption: for instance, 

such songs as ‘You can’t say no to a soldier … you’ve got to give in … he’s got a right to romance’, and 

so on. 

30: A Member of Parliament, a Mr. Driberg, who has served in neither war, in a debate about the 

persons imprisoned without charge or trial under regulation 18B, stated that ‘honourable and 

distinguished service’ in the last war was ‘quite irrelevant’ in claiming charge and trial for captives; 

those who serve in this war may note the implication. 

31: ‘There are several million bureaucrats in Russia of greater or lesser importance. They comprise a 

social class which is as distinct from the masses as the English nobility is from the cockneys, and they 

enjoy the same privileges as the upper classes of other nations … A successful bureaucrat in Moscow 

lives about as well as an American with a salary of about £2000 a year, though his actual income is 

only about £600. He may have a two- or three-roomed apartment in a big Moscow hotel near the 

Kremlin, complete with marble walls, grand piano, and bath-room. His rent for such an establishment, 

if anything at all, is nominal. At his disposal, day and night, is a chauffeur-driven limousine, which he 

retains so long as he remains in office….’ From an article by Walter Graebner, an American 

correspondent, in the Daily Mail, January 13th, 1943. 

32: For a picture of the state of France in those twenty years, read E.E. Cummings, The Enormous 

Room (Jonathan Cape, 1928); Elliot Paul, A Narrow Street (Cresset Press, 1942), and de Polnay, 

Death and To-Morrow (Secker and Warburg, 1942). 

33: For a revelation of the state of some minds in this country, I commend readers to study any debate 

in the House of Commons about our air-bombing. They will find that voices are invariably raised in 

protest against the bombing of our enemy, Germany, but that no voice has ever been raised to protest 

against the bombing of our prostrate friend, France, or even to express compassion. Even the French 

seemingly welcome this bombing, so indestructible is the human longing for liberty, but if this 

palliates our assault, it does not vindicate so callous an attitude towards our captive friend. 

34: Three reports about rebuilding and replanning after this war, the Barlow, Scott and Uthwatt 

reports, have been made to Parliament, and three expensive ministries set up. The Government has 

taken no decisions about any of these reports. Local Authorities everywhere are held up in their own 

plans because they do not know what governing principles, if any, are to be laid down. In March 1943 

the Minister of Health, Mr. Ernest Brown, seemed to foretell a new era of indiscriminate building and 

uncontrolled disfigurement when he urged Local Authorities not to wait, but to look around for areas 

suitable for housing and go ahead with their plans for building on them. 

35: In the House of Commons on March 16th, 1943 Members reported that the forbidden ‘key money’ 

was already being charged again, that houses divided into makeshift ‘apartments’ or fitted with a few 

sticks of furniture were earning many times their rent, that houses, even condemned houses, are 

changing hands at double and triple their pre-war values. 

36: I owe gratitude to the Comte de Mauny and to his publishers, Messrs. Williams & Norgate, for 

permission to quote these extracts from his sad and significant book, The Gardens of Taprobane


37: After I wrote this, I found that some details of this fantastic and fascinating story are given in 

William Albert Robertson, Voyage to Galapagos (Jonathan Cape, London, 1936), but the manner of 

Dr. Ritter’s death is not fully explained, though a reasonable theory is advanced for the other deaths 

which occurred on the island or near it. 

38: See the chapter ‘Crime: And Punishment?’ in All Our Tomorrows

39: In the absence of any war-winning British blow, Hitler (on February 24th, 1943), twenty-one 

months after Hess’s flight, evidently thought that Hess’s mission might yet succeed, for in a 

proclamation to the Germans he foretold that ‘Germany’s present enemies will in the end turn Nazi and 

join Germany in her war against Bolshevist and Jews’. 

40: See Richard and Kathleen Titmuss, Parents’ Revolt (Secker & Warburg, 1942). 

41: In Germany alone, before this war, was the birthrate sensibly raised by family allowances. But the 

inducement was not a few shillings a week; it was a whole series of preferences which gave large 

families the status of a privileged class. Even this did not prevent a steep fall when the war came, and 

an even greater one when the hope of victory vanished. 

42: I am indebted for this information to the Rev. G.I. Laurenson, of Auckland, and to Miss Vera 

Dowie, of the Women’s Service Library, Oxford, through whom Mr. Laurenson’s paper came to my 


43: The birthrate showed some increase during the last quarter of 1942, but this is probably and 

artificial and partly unhealthy increase due to reasons which are generally known and need not be 

mentioned here. The continuing improbability of any real and healthy revival of fertility was indicated 

by the Government’s failure to prohibit the owners of houses and flats from refusing to take tenants 

with children. It is obvious that such devices as ‘family allowances’ can have no effect while such 

heavy discouragements as these, which breathe an anti-social spirit, may be inflicted on parents, and 

Governments, invested with every ‘power’ known to man, plead that they have ‘no powers’ to mitigate 


44: An episode of 1942 provided grim comment on this system of ‘unpaid magistrates’. A Devon 

magistrate, aged sixty, shot a girl of twenty-two and then himself. The verdict at the inquest was 

‘murder and then suicide, while of unsound mind’. The verdict of murder could not be avoided, for the 

dead magistrate killed another human being. But many people lay in prison who were sentenced by 

this murderer, or were ‘committed for trial’ by him. What could be graver? Hence the saving clause, 

that he was ‘of unsound mind’. But was he of unsound mind when he sentenced or committed them? 

Then every case, in which he ever sat in judgement, should be retried. And what when the same 

problem arises, not about a local magistrate, but about a High Court Judge? In the summer of 1942 

such a judge was found drowned. The circumstances pointed to suicide. But a verdict of suicide ‘while 

of unsound mind’ would have raised problems about his judgements while alive, sufficient to cause 

heart failure to the entire legal profession. Thus, ‘an open verdict’ was returned, which means, no 

verdict at all. His judgements may stand. On how flimsy a basis our whole judicial edifice rests! To 

make more matters more complicated, this judge sat in the divorce court and was an extremely devout 

Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church refuses to recognize divorce, but counselled him to 

accept the appointment! Incidentally he was a wit, and liked to tell the story of a Hollywood film star 

who was married nine times and built a great marble sarcophagus for her own reception after death; 

she begged a famous poet to write her epitaph and inspiration supplied him with one in four words: 

‘Asleep – alone – at last!’ 

45: This is what happens: ‘One day, a Polish Jew in his caftan abandons some overcrowded ghetto and 

presents himself at the Hungarian frontier. A gendarme stops him. He is not desirable, this gentleman 

in the caftan. But from the threshold of his house Jacob, Abraham or Levy sees his co-religionist in the 

hands of the gendarme. “Alas, Master of the World” (he says to himself), “What, another Jew! We are 

already too many here. Why doesn’t he stay in Poland, plague take him.” And while he mutters this to 

himself, his slippered feet are already in movement and carry irresistibly towards his brother in 

distress. The voice of blood and religion speaks louder in his heart than that of his own interest. It has 

spoken thus for centuries, and never weakens. Jacob, Abraham or Levy approaches the gendarme, and 

says: “He is a relative of mine, my guest. Leave him alone, he will stay with me.” Once more the 

miracle! The Jew crosses the frontier!’ (From J. and J. Tharaud L’ombre de la Croix, Andrew Melrose, 

1918.) This is the most revealing book I know, about the great reservoir of Jews in Eastern Europe 

from which we are now urged to accept a new influx. It is written with deep tenderness for the Jews, 

and I assume the authors to be Jews. On it’s literary merit alone, I should have expected this book to 

have become known all over the world, but the only English translation is still little known and hard to 

come by. The prevention, by manifold means of the circulation of books which reveal the life of Jews, 

even when they are written with such warm sympathy, as a grave aspect of the whole problem, and 

contributes much to public confusion. The same authors wrote an equally illuminating and excellent 

book about the Jewish regime of 1918-19 in Hungary, called Quand Israel est Roi, Paris, 1921. The 

newspaper which began to publish this work was threatened with the loss of its Jewish advertisements 

unless it suppressed the later chapters. The one-sided bearing of the British Press to-day, which refuses 

all objective discussion of the matter, is attributable to similar influences. 

46: A typical example is given by a Jewish writer now in this country who was granted, first entry and 

then naturalization, and after receiving these boons wrote the following: ‘Guarantees have to be 

produced for the maintenance of the unfortunates, and if at last a bone or a dry crust in the form of an 

entry permit is thrown to them, the stipulations, provisos and reservations are so numerous that it is 

almost worthless. Kind-hearted ladies accept highly-educated, cultured women as domestic servants, 

and treat them as they would never dare treat humble maidservants born in Britain; protected by the 

police regulations, they can keep the victims in their proper places.’ 

47: Mr. G. McCullagh, proprietor of The Toronto Globe and Mail, visiting this country in March 

1943, said: ‘I look forward to a period when Canada may become an outlet for a great migration of 

many different nationalities, but substantially British. There would have to be a well-planned scheme. 

Canada is a country with great material wealth, and can well become a great economic strength to the 

Empire. Its geographical position and friendly relations with America seem to place Canada in a 

unique position.’ 

48: Sir William Beveridge shares this view about first-things-first; he said on March 3rd, 1943, ‘I 

appeal to the Government to say that they will give priority to social security after military security‘. 

49: The disease from which the Press suffers is also prevalent, by all account, in the Dominions. 

Colonel Stallard, South African Minister of Mines, said at Johannesburg in December 1942: ‘The 

Press has fallen on evil days. The Press used to pride itself on freedom, in that editors without fear, 

favour or prejudice expressed individual views. They were a powerful and potent influence for good or 

evil in consequence. At present, not only in South Africa, but throughout the world generally, so far as 

I know, and certainly in the English-speaking world, the press has become syndicalized in groups, and 

editors are no longer the free persons they were.’ 

According to my experience, this is a very mild statement of the position. 

50: This arrangement recalls the delineation of areas, in which muscling-in was forbidden, between 

the gangs of Chicago during prohibition, and is indicated in the following quotations:  

Some of the big unions have carried collaboration with large groups of employers to such a point that 

their leaders are now impatient of the old conceptions of antagonism between capital and labour … 

Many union leaders envisage co-operation with capital as desirable for the next decade or so, and they 

become angry with political warfare which postpones the share of power which they think this co- 

operation will give them. Some of them carry their anger to the length of wondering whether 

Parliament is any longer worth while and they don’t hesitate to put away their views into words


Mr. Aneurin Bevan, a Labour M.P., on march 5th, 1943. 


A suggestion that the country would be safer in the hands of expert trade unionists and first-class 

employers than in charge of professional politicians was made last night in Leeds by Mr. J.D.S. 

Higham, a Yorkshire trade union leader. ‘The country’, he said, ‘does not run on politics, it runs on 

industry – the exports and imports of the country. Nobody is better fitted to govern, in my judgment, 

than those who run industry in all its spheres. 


The Daily Herald, February 1943. 

51: Recommendations containing points of resemblance to these were made, in March 1943, in a 

report of the Nature Reserves Investigation Committee.  




Published on March 3, 2009 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

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