What Did You Do During the War?
The Last Throes of British Pro-Nazi Right, 1940-1945
New Books in British StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in Genocide StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 18, 2016 Mark Klobas
During the mid- to late 1930s, a small but socially prominent group of right-wing Britons took a public stance in support of the Nazi regime in Germany. While many of them curtailed their activities upon Britain’s declaration of war in 1939, as Richard Griffiths reveals in his book What Did You Do During the War? The Last Throes of the British Pro-Nazi Right, 1940-45 (Routledge, 2016) some of them continued to support their nation’s declared enemy in a variety of ways. Refuting ex post facto justifications of their actions, Griffiths punctures the myth of wartime national unity by demonstrating how Oswald Mosley and others sought to erode Britons’ support for the war effort in the early months of the conflict by joining pacifist organizations and criticizing openly the motivations behind Britain’s participation in the conflict. Though many of these prominent pro-Nazis were locked up by the authorities in May 1940, several far-right advocates for Germany among the upper class were spared arrest, thanks to their connections and government concerns about the impact on public opinion of detaining of so many prominent members of the social elite. With the prewar pro-Nazi movement disrupted by the detentions, however, many of its unrepentant members turned to individual activities designed to advance their beliefs, while others gradually abandoned politics in favor of other activities as their views were marginalized permanently by the course of events both during and after the Second World War.