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Terminal adolescents (part 9)

By Dr George Venturini  

Is it possible that certain British historians have consistently tried to play down anti-Semitism in the British Royal Family during the 1930s?

“Edward VIII was particularly attracted to the Nazis because of their social ideas,” said Karina Dr. Urbach, an assertion which contrasts with that of the British historian Philip Sandeman Ziegler. In 2012 Ziegler published a biography of Edward VIII, who was king for six months in 1936 only to abdicate so he could marry an American divorcee. Ziegler has written that Edward VIII was only “mildly anti-Semitic.”

In her book, much of Dr. Urbach’s narrative focuses on royal relative Charles Edward and his loyalty to the Nazi movement for two decades. It would appear his ties to Hitler helped to create a widespread culture of anti-Semitism among the British monarchy.

In April 1945 code-breakers at Bletchley Park, England, intercepted the following telegramme from Adolf Hitler, who was then under siege in his bunker in Berlin: “The Führer attaches importance to the President of the Red Cross, the Duke of Coburg, on no account falling into enemy hands.” No guessing what that means.

Dr. Urbach believes that whatever information Hitler shared with Charles Edward it was damning enough to warrant an assassination request.

According to The Guardian Charles Edward was aware of the death camps’ work (L. Mangan, ‘Last night’s TV,’ The Guardian, 5 February 2009).

It is almost impossible, affirmed Dr. Urbach, that Charles Edward did not have a deep understanding of the gas chambers and the plans for the extermination of the Jews. In fact, Charles Edward’s cousin, Prince Josias Waldek-Pyrmont, was a high-ranking member of the SS and supervised one of the death camps in Buchenwald. The two men also shared a villa in Berlin where other SS officers constantly frequented.

Prince Josias Waldek-Pyrmont, a high-ranking SS member, who supervised a Buchenwald death camp

At Buchenwald alone, it is estimated that the Nazi programme killed 100,000 disabled people. (P. F. Kapnistos. Hitler’s doubles, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, New York 2015).

American officers who were part of the army’s psychological warfare team captured Coburg during the second world war. When asked if he thought the Jews were treated badly in the war, Charles Edward said that methods used by Hitler to eliminate them were harsh, but necessary to remove Jewish influence from the world of German arts, media and culture.

Charles Edward was later imprisoned with other Nazi officials. His sister, Princess Alice, learning of his incarceration, travelled to Germany with her husband, the Earl of Athlone  –  then Governor General of Canada, to plead for his release with his American captors. They dined with the American generals holding her brother, who declined to release him. In spite of being a cousin of king George VI, he was held in the harshest internment camps. (M. Thornton, ‘The Nazi relative that the Royals disowned’, The Daily Mail, Australia, 1 December 2007).

Charles Edward was imprisoned until 1946. He was originally charged with crimes against humanity and the trial was held. Though he was exonerated of complicity in actual war crimes, he was judged to have been ‘an important Nazi’. Only his failing health saved him from remaining in prison. Another factor for leniency towards him was the fact that in April 1946, his daughter Sybilla had given birth to a son, the future King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who became, upon birth, third-in-line to the Swedish throne. In January 1947 Sybilla’s husband died in a plane crash, and in October 1950, King Gustaf V of Sweden died, at which point Charles Edward’s grandson became the Crown Prince of Sweden. In that same year 1950, after several appeals, Charles Edward was sentenced by a denazification court as a Mitläufer – a follower, the fourth lowest group or category in the denazification proceedings – and Minderbelasteter – a follower of lesser guilt – fined DM 5,000, which was quite a sum at the time, and almost bankrupted. Had he been convicted for the greater charge of ‘crimes against humanity’, he would have been liable for a death sentence, and even otherwise, to criminalise the future king’s grandfather for ‘crimes against humanity’ would lead to major embarrassment in the immediate term and could have had ramifications in years to come. The lesser sentence was therefore handed out.

Apart from being fined DM 5,000, Charles Edward also lost significant property as a result of his participation in the second world war. Gotha was part of Thuringia and was therefore situated in the Soviet occupation zone. The Soviet Army confiscated much of the family’s property in Gotha. However, Coburg had become part of Bavaria in 1920 and was occupied by American forces. The family were able to retain the substantial property located there and in other parts of Germany and abroad.

The once Leopold Carl Eduard Georg Albert, now simply Karl Eduard, spent the last years of his life in seclusion and poverty because of the fines he was forced to pay as a result of the denazification process. In 1953 he was able to watch the coronation of his cousin’s grand-daughter at a movie house. He died as a ‘penniless criminal’ on 6 March 1954.

Dr. Urbach believes that the influence the Nazi party had on the British monarchy can be traced back to the German relatives of Queen Mary of Teck (1867-1953), the wife of king George V (1865-1953), mother to king Edward VIII (1894-1972), George VI (1895-1952), and grandmother to the current Queen. [Mary was a princess of Teck, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, although she was born and raised in England. Her parents were Francis, Duke of Teck, who was of German extraction, and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, who was a granddaughter of King George III].

“This has never been analysed in thorough detail though,” said Dr. Urbach. “Again, because letters from the German relatives to Queen Mary, from 1918 onwards, are not available from the Royal Archives.

The journalist from The Times of Israel asked Dr. Urbach whether this withholding of information was happening for fear that the contents might paint a picture of the British Royal Family as deeply anti-Semitic.

“Yes, of course,” Dr. Urbach replied. “The British upper classes were deeply anti-Semitic during this period. This has been swept under the carpet.

Whenever I describe to certain historians how Edward VIII was saying things like ‘put Jews against the wall, they are responsible for everything,’ they respond defending him saying ‘Yeah, but he was friendly with the Rothschilds.’ Of course the Rothschilds were rich and powerful. But did Edward VIII have sympathy with poor Jews in London’s East End ? I don’t think so,” said Dr. Urbach.

When Dr. Urbach requested letters she believes most certainly exist between Charles Edward and Queen Mary, the Royal Archive gave her one postcard and told her nothing else exists.

“The British upper-classes were deeply anti-Semitic during this period. This has been swept under the carpet.

This is bizarre and ridiculous,” said Dr. Urbach.

“We know that Carl Edward visited Queen Mary all the time. So there must be lots of letters. But mysteriously they have all gone. There have been lots of conspiracy theories about this. Because after 1945 there was what has become known as a ‘cleaning up’ mission.” (J. P. O’Malley, ‘British archives hiding royal family’s links to anti-Semitism in 1930s, says historian,’ The Times of Israel, 19 July 2015).

Anthony Blunt, who was once an art adviser to the current Queen – and who later confessed to being a Soviet mole – was sent over to Germany to clean up any evidence of links between the British Royal Family and the Nazi party, said Dr. Urbach. Apparently, the Russian government have a file on this, she added.

“I was ostracised by the Royal Archives because I wanted these papers. Russia has always threatened to publish this file on Blunt, detailing what kind of letters he collected in Germany after the war.

In the United Kingdom, which is a constitutional monarchy, the Royal Family is often portrayed in the British media as apolitical: an institution that represents tradition without political power. But when certain members of that institution are continually attempting to hide their Family’s past dealings with Nazi sympathisers, surely this is highly undemocratic and needs to be investigated further?

Yes, I’m not the only historian saying this,” said Dr. Urbach. “Other historians who want to work at the Royal Archives are afraid to say this publicly.”

Dr. Urbach said that, when she was writing a book on Queen Victoria, she was invited around for tea at the Royal Archives. However, when she started demanding any material involving details of the British monarchy’s dealings with Nazi Germany, the relationship turned sour.

“I was never asked for tea at the Round Tower at Windsor again.

I was ostracised by the Royal Archives because I wanted these papers. The Royal Archives claim that they are a private archive. Of course they are not. The British public are entitled to have access to this correspondence because it’s their history. You cannot just cut it out, or cover it up, because you don’t want to upset the current Queen,” said Dr. Urbach.

Finis coronat opus

John Cleese, best known for his work with the comedy group Monty Python, explained in a video excerpt the idea that truly stupid people lack the capacity to realise just how stupid they are. Most Cleese’s statements are based on research by David Dunning, a retired Professor of Psychology at Cornell University and Justin Kruger a social psychologist and Professor at New York University, once both of Cornell University.

One such statement runs as follows: “I think the problem with people like this is that they are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are.

You see, if you are very, very stupid how can you possibly realise that you are very, very stupid? You would have to be relatively intelligent to realise how stupid you are.

There is a wonderful bit of research by a guy called David Dunning at Cornell, who is a friend of mine I am proud to say, who has pointed out that in order to know how good you are at something requires exactly the same skill at it as it does to be good at that thing in the first place, which means, this is very funny, that if you are absolutely no good at something at all, then you lack exactly the skill that you need to know that you are absolutely not good at it. And this explains not just Hollywood but almost the entirety of Fox News.”

Previous instalment – Terminal adolescents (part 8)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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