Nazis in Pre-War London, 1930-1939: The Fate and Role of German Party Members and British Sympathizers


The first book to study the history of the Nazis in Britain, this work details how in September 1930 the Nazi Party newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter, sent its first representative to London and soon after, German residents in London established a local Nazi group that provided party members with a place to congregate and support the new movement. By 1933, more than 100 members belonged to the London group and the book goes on to discuss how the Nazis in pre-war London created a dilemma for the British foreign ...
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The first book to study the history of the Nazis in Britain, this work details how in September 1930 the Nazi Party newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter, sent its first representative to London and soon after, German residents in London established a local Nazi group that provided party members with a place to congregate and support the new movement. By 1933, more than 100 members belonged to the London group and the book goes on to discuss how the Nazis in pre-war London created a dilemma for the British foreign and home offices, who were divided as to how best to treat residents whose allegiance was to the German Reich as some felt that all Nazi organizations should be banned while others, including MI5, argued that it would be easier to keep track of Nazis if they were in-country. Calling on previously unpublished German documents, this study reveals the fate of German diplomats, journalists, and professionals, many of whom were interned in Britain or deported to Nazi Germany once war broke out in September 1939. An appendix listing the details concerning the nearly 400 German party members and Nazi journalists who spent time in Britain prior to the war, is also included.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The fruit of extensive research in British and German archives, this is the first study to chronicle the activities of Nazis in pre-war London and the British government’s response to them… This book contains much interesting and useful material (including an appendix with basic data on over 400 members of the Nazi Party living in or near London), and complements studies of British fascism, the policy of appeasement, and the Third Reich. Highly recommended.”  —Choice

“James and Patience Barnes have engaged in some detailed detective work to uncover one of the least known and most intriguing aspects of the history of Nazism. Their study provides a fascinating insight into the previously overlooked but highly significant story of Nazi overseas operations. Neither the history of London nor the history of Nazism will look quite the same again.”  —Professor Dan Stone, University of London, author, The Historiography of the Holocaust and Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust

“The history of German Nazi groups abroad is still a relatively neglected subject, and the authors of this book have dutifully researched their ramifications in the British capital. Through an impressive and extremely detailed research carried out in British, American, and German archives, they have brought to life the about four hundred Germans who sought to organize Nazi activity in London in the 1930s. … The strength of the book lies in its thorough, wide, and precise research.”  —Journal of British Studies

“How fascinating to watch the machinations of the Third Reich from far afield. As early as September 1930, more than two years before Hitler came to power, a young Nazi journalist representing the Völkischer Beobachter, Hans Wilhelm Thost, was dispatched to establish a toehold in London. His instructions were simple: to tell the readers of the VB the ‘inside story’ of events in Britain, to promote peace between the two nations, and to secure ‘justice’ for Germany from the restraints of Versailles. At the same time, Thost reported to Alfred Rosenberg, a member of Hitler’s inner circle, about political matters, ran errands on his behalf, and informed on the loyalty of arriving émigrés and members of London’s German community… Patience and James Barnes have written an outstanding book, encyclopaedic in detail and thoroughly researched. No archive or relevant primary source has been overlooked, to the exclusion of important secondary works.”  —German Studies Review

“This is the first book to study the activities of Nazis in London in the 1930s. These fell into two main categories: journalists reporting for German newspapers, and members of the German community in the British capital. London acquired a reporter for the Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, as early as 1930, and Nazi sympathizers among Germans in the city organized a branch of the party, an Orstgruppe, not long afterward. As is well known, once the Nazis were in power they attached great importance to organizing and controlling Germans in foreign countries, and James J. Barnes and Patience P. Barnes may be right in asserting that the Orstgruppenleiter was more important than the German ambassador, save during Joachim von Ribbentrop’s tenure of that post at the peak of Adolf Hitler’s efforts to achieve an understanding with Britain. British authorities – the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and MI5 – were, at first sight, surprisingly, more concerned with the journalists than with the Orstgruppe. In 1935 the senior Nazi journalist in Britain, Hans Thost of the Völkischer Beobachter, was expelled, and there were nine more expulsions of journalists in 1937 alone. Barnes and Barnes assemble fairly conclusive evidence that Thost was detected engaging in low-level espionage.”  —American Historical Review

“The most interesting chapter … presents the whole debate between various government departments, notably the Foreign Office and the Home Office, on whether it was advisable to ban all Nazi organizations in Britain.”  —German Historical Institute, London

“In a particularly valuable chapter, the authors reconstruct the composition of the group, which for the most part comprised business-persons, diplomats, journalists, clerical workers, artisans, and domestic servants… James and Patience Barnes have certainly undertaken their detective work with forensic meticulousness. This volume is rich in its informative detail. What is more, the authors should be congratulated for including an appendix that lists the names, addresses, birth dates, occupations, years spent in England, and dates of joining the NSDAP for some 400 Germans who lived in Britain during the 1930s and who became members of the NSDAP. This is an original and well-researched volume, and it will surely fill a gap in current historiography.”  —Central European Histor

“Like Claudia Baldoli’s work Exporting Fascism (Oxford, 2003), this new book by James and Patience Barnes opens up fresh material for research, in this case the impact of the National Socialist Party (NSDAP) in London in the 1930s. This is quite an achievement in itself; the favourable impression is reinforced by the subtle analysis and the meticulous detective work that buttress their conclusions. There is much that is new here. It will provide a reference point for future work in British and German archives. Since the completion of the authors’ research in London, the continuing release of MI5 files has provided some interesting new material about the increasing concern felt by the Security Service about the Nazi threat. To date, however, the new documents do not fundamentally alter the case made in this book.”  —Journal of Modern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845190538
  • Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2014
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

James J. Barnes is a professor of history at Wabash College. Patience P. Barnes is a research associate at Wabash College. They are the coauthors of several books, including Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in Britain and America, 1930–1939 and Nazi Refugee Turned Gestapo Spy: The Life of Hans Wesemann, 1895–1971.
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Table of Contents

1 A Nazi journalist comes to London 1

2 Founding the London Ortsgruppe, 1931-1932 6

3 Otto Bene, Ortsgruppenleiter, 1932-1935 18

4 Establishing a Nazi brown house 32

5 The expulsion of Hans Wilhelm Thost 46

6 Appointment of a Nazi Consul-General 63

7 The Nazi takeover of German news agencies 75

8 Party and SS members in the German Embassy 85

9 Bonhoeffer and the struggle for church autonomy 103

10 Nazi infiltration of business and labor 116

11 Mosley's British Union of Fascists 127

12 Nazi influence over the British Legion 147

13 Otto Karlowa and the Landesgruppe Gross Britannien 165

14 The government's dilemma : whether to outlaw foreign organizations 177

15 German journalists : first targets for expulsion 189

16 Nazi intimidation leads to deportation 214

17 The question of espionage 227

Epilogue 251

App Members of the London Ortsgruppe, 1931-1939 256

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