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When Hitler's perfect woman came to London

75 years ago British appeasers and nazi sympathisers tried a clever propaganda move. PETER FROST explains

Seventy-five years ago in 1939, as war clouds gathered over Europe, a German woman Hitler had described as the "perfect nazi female" arrived in London.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 he appointed long-time nazi supporter Gertrud Scholtz-Klink as Reich's Women's Führerin and head of the Nazi Women's League.

Ironically, Scholtz-Klink argued against the participation of women in politics.

"Anyone who has seen the communist women scream on the street and in parliament realise that such an activity is not something which is done by a true woman," she declared.

By July 1936 Scholtz-Klink was appointed head of the Womaen's Bureau in the German Labour Front. Her job was to encourage women to work for the nazi government.

On the face of it the Führerin's visit to London was at the invitation of Prunella Stack, leader of the Women's League of Health and Beauty, an early women's keep-fit organisation with nearly 200,000 members all across Britain and the empire.

Stack, still only 25, had inherited the well-paid top position in this commercially successful organisation on the death of her mother, the league's founder Mary Bagot-Stack.

Prunella Stack had married Lord David Douglas-Hamilton, who was part of a well-known right-wing family.

Her brother-in-law, a Tory MP and well-known nazi sympathiser, the 14th Duke of Hamilton, had attended the 1936 nazi Olympics in Berlin.

While there he dined with Joachim von Ribbentrop, an old friend. Ribbentrop was the German ambassador to Britain and later Hitler's foreign minister.

In Berlin the duke met Hitler and many other leading nazis. With Hermann Goring he inspected the rapidly growing Luftwaffe. During this visit it is probable that he first made contact with Rudolf Hess.

It was Hess who, on May 10 1941, parachuted into Scotland to meet the duke and plot a secret peace treaty that would lead to the supremacy of Germany within Europe alongside a strengthened British empire.

Hess crash-landed and ended up in hospital. Hamilton rushed to his bedside and contacted Winston Churchill to tell him of the deputy fuhrer's arrival. Churchill wanted nothing to do with the traitorous plot.

Hess was imprisoned until the end of the war and finally tried at the subsequent Nuremberg trials. He finally hanged himself in Spandau prison in 1987 at the age of 93.

Members of the British Establishment, many of them with their own skeleton-filled cupboards, rallied round to defend Tory Hamilton.

The official whitewash declared "the conduct of the Duke of Hamilton has been in every respect honourable and proper."

Stack had taken a troop of her league members to a nazi-organised international congress of physical fitness in Hamburg in 1938.

This was a chance for Hitler to show off his nazi "strength through joy" physical fitness movement.

Encouraged by her right-wing friends, appeasers and out-and-out nazis, Stack invited Reichsfrauenfuehrerin Scholtz-Klink to come to London.

The Anglo-German Fellowship organised a grand dinner in her honour at Claridges.

Members included Bank of England directors Frank Cyril Tiarks and Montagu Norman; Admiral Sir Barry Domvile; Prince von Bismarck and Geoffrey Dawson, editor of the Times.

Corporate members included PriceWaterhouse, Unilever, Dunlop Rubber, Thomas Cook, the Midland Bank and Lazard Brothers, among others.

Many Conservative MPs were members, and from the House of Lords came Lord Brocket, Lord Galloway, the Earl of Glasgow, Lord Londonderry, Lord Nuffield, Lord Redesdale, Lord Rennell and the 5th Duke of Wellington.

Scholtz-Klink also used the visit to meet nazi sympathisers who were engaged in secret talks that would result in the foundation of the Right Club, as well as more openly fascist members of the Nordic League.

The Right Club was officially founded in May 1939 to rid the Conservative Party of perceived Jewish control.

Its founder was Tory MP Archibald Ramsay. He boasted that "the main objective was to oppose and expose the activities of organised Jewry."

Right Club members included William Joyce - aka Lord Haw-Haw - who would broadcast for Hitler in the war.

The Duke of Wellington took the chair at meetings. The club's badge was of an eagle killing a snake with the initials PJ standing for "Perish Judah."

A heroic Daily Worker (forerunner of today's Morning Star) reporter managed to infiltrate a Nordic League meeting at the Wigmore Hall in Marylebone, London.

He reported Ramsay as saying that they needed to end Jewish control, "and if we don't do it constitutionally, we'll do it with steel" - a statement greeted with wild applause by fellow fascists.

After the visit and all those meetings, Scholtz-Klink returned to Germany to be at Hitler's side.

Just a few days later the nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and within months all Europe was at war.

 

Read more of Peter Frost's writing at frostysramblings.wordpress.com

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