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Showing posts from April, 2020

Eighty years ago, the British land in Norway in a campaign worthy of the debacles of the eighteenth century

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Eighty years ago, a Norwegian Nazi puppet adds a new word to the English language and a Soviet puppet gives British politics a brief moment of surreal absurdity

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Eighty years ago, Chamberlain guarantees his status as one of history's greatest bunglers with another deathless fatuity

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Neville Chamberlain delivered a phrase that fully deserves to rank with his "peace for our time" declaration as one of history's great inaccurate statements. In a speech to the Conservative Party Central Council he claimed that there was no doubt that Hitler had "missed the bus".  Chamberlain meant that Germany had lost its chance to defeat Britain by not attacking on the outbreak of war when Chamberlain believed it had immense military superiority, in particular the ability to bomb London flat almost unchallenged. In reality the Luftwaffe was never capable of this or even planned to.  Chamberlain gave further evidence of complacency and mis-placed optimism by going on to boast that Hitler had  "very little margin of strength still to call upon." The war was as good as won. In the event Chamberlain was proved wrong even more quickly than he had been over his belief in the permanency of the Munich settlement. His comeuppance took less than a …

Eighty years ago, a spoof Hitler rant illustrates the British sense of humour while a genuine Churchill broadcast illustates their sense of history

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Radio listeners on a BBC frequency were treated to what purported to be the retransmission of a broadcast (in German naturally) by Adolf Hitler in which he claimed that America had been discovered by the use of German technology. Americans of Czech and Polish origin were apparently clamouring to be given the benefits enjoyed by their ehtnic brothers of living under a German protectorate. The US was thus to become incorporated into the greater Reich. Hitler would take his pre-ordained seat in what was to be renamed "The Brown House." According to one story, the US network CBS contacted the BBC in some panic to find out more. It was an April Fool hoax, with an Austrian emigre actor, Martin Miller, imitating the Fuehrer and reprising a skit he had performed in cabaret. The BBC was punished by a complaint from the official covert propaganda outfit, Electra House, that it was trespassing. Electra House was the brainchild of Sir Campbell Stuart, who used the pretext of secrecy to …