And why I have this strange feeling about worthy humanitarians who support today any and all accommodation with his inheritors.
Sir, – George Feaver could not be more wrong when he writes, in his review of Julia Stapleton’s Sir Arthur Bryant and National History in Twentieth-Century Britain (January 6), that Bryant’s views in the 1930s were “less pro-Hitler than reflective of a historian’s convictions about how best to engage a German people who had been unjustly humiliated by the conditions imposed by the Versailles Treaty”. In fact, Bryant was far more pro-Hitler than that.
In 1934 Bryant wrote of how “Hitler, like all the best Germans, is a mystic”, and praised “the mystic dream of inspired leadership and disciplined unity” in Germany. In 1938 he wrote of how the Aryan Germans “felt a growing pride in the revival of German consciousness, prosperity and strength under their Führer”, meanwhile noting that Jews “have seldom been welcome guests and scarcely ever for long”. In April 1939 he described himself to a Nazi official as “one who has been a consistent advocate of Anglo-German friendship ever since the Führer’s rise to power, and still is”. That June he described Hitler as “the restorer of a great but fallen nation” and “the great German whom fate has raised up to rescue his people”. If Hitler did not go to war, he wrote, “he would be recognised in this country as the great man he is”.
Nor is Professor Feaver right to say that at “the very eve of war, [Bryant] threw his authorial energies behind the resolve of Churchill’s wartime administration”. In fact, in the eight months between the war breaking out and Churchill becoming Prime Minister, Bryant supported the peace movement and, in April 1940, published a book called Unfinished Victory, which praised the way that “under Hitler’s forceful leadership” Germany was regaining “a just confidence” in itself. He further blamed Nazi anti-Semitism on the behaviour of Germany’s Jews, writing: “They were arrogant, they were vulgar and they were vicious”.
Neither George Feaver nor Julia Stapleton wants to face the fact that Sir Arthur Bryant was a Fascist.
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