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Showing posts from July, 2018

Eighty years ago: Britain begins to dig itself into a hole in the Sudetenland, the Japanese army does the same in Manchukuo and the Nazis revere some recent martyrs

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British involvement in the burgeoning crisis over the Sudetenland, German speaking area of Czechoslovakia, began to get under way properly although the full extent of the unspoken choices made by the British government was not entirely evident. The bilateral anglo-german dimension was emphasiszed by the “unofficial” visit to London of Captain Wiedemann, who had been adjutant to Hitler’s battalion in the First World War, recommended him for the Iron Cross and held a largely honorary position in the Nazi hierarchy. He met the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, but with no practical result beyond laying out aspects of the German position and vaguely signalling a willingness to have a dialogue. The British announced a “mediation” mission to Prague which was intended to bring considerably more by way of practical results. Recently retired Liberal politician Lord Runciman was to try to find common ground for an internally negotiated solution between the communities. His mission was portr

Eighty years ago: an emptily symbolic Royal visit, keeping the BBC weak and bloodthirsty rituals in Spain

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The state visit to Paris of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth finally took place after having been postponed because of the death of the Queen’s mother. It passed off very successfully with gorgeous ceremony and spectacle all around. It seemed to echo the famous visit of Edward VII, the King’s grandfather, in 1903, which opened the way for the entente cordiale , laying the ghost of centuries of Anglo-French hostility and heralding the full-scale alliance of the two countries against Germany in the First World War. Appearances deceived: Britain and France were no nearer anything approaching a common front against Nazi Germany, still less a military alliance. Beneath the superficial goodwill Neville Chamberlain was terrified that the French alliance with Czechoslovakia might lead to a war with Germany if the Sudeten question were not settled in Germany’s favour. Britain would inevitably be dragged into such a war. The new Director General of the BBC in succession to Si

Eighty years ago: Nazi art displayed in all its poverty, hard news on Stalin's purges and diplomatic double standards in China

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Hitler opened the second national exhibition at the House of German Art in Munich. It was intended as a counterweight to the kind on non-representational and modern art that Nazism loathed as an essentially Jewish construct. His speech was long on bombast but short on substance as to the exhibits. Indeed he confessed that the previous year’s effort had shown how disappointingly little the Nazi cultural message had been understood. This year the number of exhibits had risen but this reflected the inclusion of formerly Austrian artists who had been citizens of the Reich since the Anschlu ß earlier in the year. He lauded Italian generosity in allowing the export of the Discobulus of Myron but his praise of classical sculpture rather reinforced the absence of any creative force under Nazi cultural policy. NKVD general Genrikh Lyushkov appeared at the news conference in Tokyo following his defection to the Japanese forces in Manchukuo. Lyushkov had been a leading figure in Stali