Mercury reader Russ Ball explains in his letter (dated July 23), that he is befuddled by the hoo-ha about the Royal families playful dabbling with Nazism. For Russ, it seems, a little backyard Sieg heil is a way of poking fun at genocidal tyrants.
But for the rest of us, the devastating consequences of Nazism are not a joking matter, as they most certainly weren’t for those individuals featured in the 1940 book, The Guilty Men — an important contribution to the annals of history which named and shamed prominent British public figures for their appeasement of Nazi Germany.
Edward VIII and the mother of our present queen figured prominently in this shocking book, as did the ex-Liberal prime minister Lloyd George, and nearly the entire Tory party: tragically, Nazism has not always been viewed with disgust.
Presently the international news is awash with the story of Oskar Groning, the convicted Auschwitz death camp guard, who escaped prosecution here in Britain “because of the United States’ desire to fight the Cold War”. (July 17, The Guardian)
Nazi’s were considered the best-suited individuals to mobilise the working-class against communism. Hence the keen involvement of Nazis in a long and anti-democratic war of attrition against workers’ movements worldwide, a process illustrated by professor Christopher Simpson’s book Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on The Cold War.
Here in England, AK Chesterton, the Midlands organiser for the British Union of Fascists, resurfaced after the war to establish the League of Empire Loyalists, which eventually morphed into the notorious National Front. With offices opened here in Leicester, the ensuing legacy of violence inflicted upon our migrants, like those who fled Uganda, has never been a laughing matter.
But let’s not forget the role that our Government played in supporting the coup that brought Idi Amin to power in Uganda, which led to many new arrivals to our city. Historian Mark Curtis, who has spent years in our Government’s official archives, explains:
“Britain consciously supported and connived in the rise of Idi Amin precisely because of long-standing British [elite] interests to get rid of governments like that of Obote who were challenging ‘elites’ and promoting ‘popular measures’.”
When Uganda’s murderous dictator fled into exile in 1979, he then set up shop in Saudi Arabia. And finally when Tony Blair’s Government were asked in parliament whether they would call on the Saudi monarchy to expel Amin from its territory, a Foreign Office minister replied: “We have no plans to make such representations”.
To this day, Whitehall appear far too content selling arms to its Saudi clients to worry about justice. After all we are talking about our Government supporting the same Saudi regime that is widely believed to be funding ISIS!
This letter was sent to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 23rd July. The letter was published on 28th July as “Nazis were never a joke” (sections that were edited out from the letter are shown in bold above).
Below is Russ Ball’s Letter: “Fascist types are not so rare,” Leicester Mercury, July 23, 2015.
What a ridiculous fuss about the royal family and Nazi salutes.
When we were children we often stuck our right hands up, our left finger under our nose like a moustache and goose stepped around the playground.
It was a way of making fun of the Nazis’ ludicrous pretensions.
Then again, we actually knew what fascists were – joyless, humourless autocrats desperate to give orders and have them obeyed who worshipped conformity and uniformity and whose vision of utopia was one where everyone did as they were told, never disagreed with accepted opinion and thought only correct thoughts.
“Fascists” was the new word for them back then but, in truth, there has never been a worldwide shortage of such people.