This book is a sequel to Richard Griffiths’s two highly successful previous books on the British pro-Nazi Right, Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany 1933-39 and Patriotism Perverted: Captain Ramsay, the Right Club and British Anti-Semitism 1939-1940. It follows the fortunes of his protagonists after the arrests of May-June 1940, and charts their very varied reactions to the failure of their cause, while also looking at the possible reasons for the Government’s failure to detain prominent pro-Nazis from the higher strata of society.
Some of the pro-Nazis continued with their original views, and even undertook politically subversive activity, here and in Germany. Others, finding that their pre-war balance between patriotism and pro-Nazism had now tipped firmly on the side of patriotism, fully supported the war effort, while still maintaining their old views privately. Other people found that events had made them change their views sincerely. And then there were those who, frightened by the prospect of detention or disgrace, tried to hide or even to deny their former views by a variety of subterfuges, including attacking former colleagues. This wide variety of reactions sheds new light on the equally wide range of reasons for their original admiration for Nazism, and also gives us some more general insight into what could be termed ‘the psychology of failure’.
This well-researched and timely book on the British wartime pro-Nazis lifts the lid on an aspect of our national life that we must all confront, however painful and repulsive the story that is told. Richard Griffiths is the country’s top expert in this field, and has topped even his own ground-breaking Fellow Travellers of the Right with this scholarly yet highly readable book.
Andrew Roberts, Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London, UK
Once again Richard Griffiths offers a powerful insight into the nature of fascism in Britain. Through careful archival research he shows how fascism was articulated in various ways and in different forums for the duration of World War II. This wide-ranging and often startling book paves the way for scholars to show that British fascism was marked more by continuities than by breaks in the transition from war to postwar.
Dan Stone, Professor of Modern History, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Richard Griffiths seems to me to be presenting the collaborationist or Vichy England that would have emerged in the event of a successful German invasion in 1940. We always need to know about harmful cause-mongering, and it is very valuable to have this example of it.
David Pryce-Jones, Senior Editor of National Review and author of Unity Mitford: A Quest.
"Richard Griffiths’ new book is his third go at the pro-Nazi right. His earlier books traced them to 1940; What Did You Do During the War – The Last Throes of the British Pro-Nazi Right 1940–45 does exactly what it says on the cover and does it with remorseless clarity and many fascinating revelations."
Francis Beckett, Third Age Matters
"Another huge contribution to the historiography of British fascism which deserves to be widely read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the dangers of elite support for extreme right views in the U.K. and a warning of the occasionally fine line between right-wing Conservatism and outright fascism."
Leopold Trepper, Searchlight
"Griffiths' book is full of unexpected revelations on the odd alliances against war with fascist Germany…. His research reveals disturbing level of infiltration and at times overlap of views, of previously bona fide pacifists and pro-Nazis. In today's climate of growing race hate, populist nationalism and neo fascism, it all makes for a sobering read."
Mike Davis, The Chartist
Part I: Puncturing Myths about the 'Phoney War' Period
1. To fight or not to fight: the myth of Mosley’s patriotism
2. The reception of Bryant’s Unfinished Victory: the myth of public unanimity against Nazi Germany in early 1940
Part II: Peace and War, High-Mindedness and Low Connections: The Duke of Bedford and The Peace Movement
3. Evangelical Anticapitalism: The strange case of the Duke of Bedford
4. ‘How can the Germans be blamed?’ The infiltration of the Peace Movement.
Part III: Defence Regulation 18B, and its After-Effects
5. The watershed: the arrests of May-June 1940 and their aftermath
6. The re-emergence of extreme Right-wing movements in Britain, 1940-45
Part IV: Renegades
7. ‘Long before 1939 I had become an admirer of the Nazi system’: Five British broadcasters for Nazi Germany.
Part V: Pro-Nazism, Patriotism, Hatred, Fear, Remorse: The Extraordinary Variety of Motives among Former 'Fellow-Travellers'
8. ‘Have you found many Lavals among your Galloway friends?’ Wartime and post-war disputes between three ‘Fellow Travellers of the Right’
9. ‘I wrote a very full and strong letter to the King’: Two would-be negotiators.
10. ‘The internment of a person of her social standing might give the public a wrong impression’: the charmed lives of various ‘pillars of society’.
11. ‘His impetuous nature, obstinacy and flawed judgement’: A bull in a china shop.
12. ‘You know the Jew racket as well as I do’: The vagaries of the ‘back-to-the-landers’.
Part VI: Aftermath
13. ‘Change and decay in all around I see’: further post-war decline.
This new book series focuses upon fascist, far right and right-wing politics primarily within a historical context but also drawing on insights from other disciplinary perspectives. Its scope also includes radical-right populism, cultural manifestations of the far right and points of convergence and exchange with the mainstream and traditional right.