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Thinkers or Junkers? Germans in England 1860-1920 & Beyond by Anne Hill Fernie

 

This is a talk given by Anne Fernie on the 11th September 2018 at the Castle Hotel.  You can find more details by following this link.  In this post you can listen to the audio recording of the talk, but also see the powerpoint slides which Anne created and also read the abundant notes which she created on the subject.

 

SLIDE 1-3: GERMAN HISTORY & ITS IMAGE ABROAD

The “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”, was riven by divisions: the emperor and the leading princes, and between Catholics and Protestants. This created a vacuum & instability at the heart of Europe & attracted the predatory attention of its neighbours. Civil war between the disparate states was always a possibility.

German politics was therefore characterised by a sophisticated form of power-sharing through imperial courts and the imperial assembly, the Reichstag. The result was a German political culture preoccupied with precedence, legality, rules and procedure to the point of paralysis (Simms, 2015).

In the17th and 18th centuries there were 300 disparate kingdoms in Germany. As early as 1817, there were protests and social unrest as the people fought for a German national state. This was routinely followed by brutal reactions from the rulers. Heavy censorship laws became a determining factor of social & political life in the German states.

German rulers, came to rely heavily on their military to keep them in power. In the 18th century, King Frederick the Great (1740-1786) had turned Prussia into a military barracks: the ‘Sparta of Europe’ (Faulkner, 2012).

This was the beginning of the so-called ‘German Problem’ that has left a legacy that is still creating problems today. It is rooted in Germany’s geographical location as the ‘cockpit of Europe’ where various powers fought to contest dominance of the region.

The German Question in a nutshell was and is how to order the European centre in such a way that it was/is robust enough to master domestic and external challenges without at the same time developing hegemonic tendencies.

Under the influence of other national liberal movements (notably in France), the German revolution culminated in 1848 with the declaration of human rights by a national assembly in Frankfurt (Main). It attempted to unify Germany and impose a liberal constitution. It was dissolved by the armies of the German states in the counter-revolution of 1849.At this point the German Confederation is led by Austria, not by Prussia.

Austria & Prussia were the two most powerful German states but their rivalry would not allow the popular drive for unification [see slide 2]. The goals of this parliament were to establish a constitutional monarchy, and the biggest issue was not Prussian dominance, but whether or not to include all of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire in a potential German national state.

 

SLIDE 4: PRUSSIA

50 years before WW1 Prussia began to take a dominant role in German politics. Five-sixths of Prussian state spending was devoted to war. Mass conscription raised an army of 150,000. It was during this time that the Prussian Junkers became an elite officer-caste. They had already been: ‘the black heart of the German counter-revolution which crushed the “Forty-Eighters”’ (Faulkner, 2012).

Despite often being relatively poor (Marx dubbed them ‘cabbage-Junkers’), they were defined by their landownership and state service. They were deeply loyal to the absolute monarchy which guaranteed their property, privilege, and power.

Otto von Bismarck, became prime minister in 1863, reformed the Prussian military and ensured that German unification became part of the Prussian agenda. Prussia enjoyed good relations with Russia and Italy whereas the relationship with Austria soured. In 1866 things escalated into armed conflict. Prussia won the war. The peace treaty signed with Austria in 1867 abolished the German confederation, and much of northern Germany became the Norddeutscher Bund under Prussian leadership.

The confederation changed its name to Deutsches Reich on Dec 19th 1870. It was largely instigated by Bismarck, intent on increasing the Prussian power base. Prussia fought off Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). The French, at the time, were the premier military power in Europe and had been crushed. A commentator noted: “It seemed like a kind of weird, black miracle at the time.”

The country was unified in 1871. The victory completely changed how Germany was viewed abroad and ushered in a recognisably ‘modern’ German nation. This added to Germany’s rapid industrialisation, changed the perception of Germans from politically naïve ‘poets & thinkers’ to that of militaristic, expansionist, ruthless and efficient ~ tropes that endure to this day.

 

HOW GERMANS VIEWED THEMSELVES: POETS AND THINKERS

The princes and rulers of Germany’s tiny city states liked to support great minds. The princely state of Weimar became, at the end of the 18th century, a place where great writers of the day were treated as heroes; Schiller and Goethe are forever associated with the city. There are famous universities e.g., Jena, where modern philosophy was forged and independent thinking nurtured.

The roots of idealism are here: the idea that through literature, writing, thinking and scientific inquiry, the human race can improve itself and individual human beings can create lives for themselves through ceaseless self-questioning and independent thought.

Volk der Dichter und Denker (‘nation of poets & thinkers’) – a now famous designation for the Germans, was first used by Johann Karl August Musäus (1735-1787). In the introduction to his ‘Folk Tales of Germans’ (Volksmärchen der Deutschen, 1782-1786), he asks: ‘where would the enthusiastic nation of our thinkers, poets, dreamers & visionaries be without the happy influence of fantasy?’

He felt that the true creative spirit and national character of Germany could be found in the oral tradition of folk tales, i.e. the mass culture of the people. This makes more sense if one notes that even in the 18thc, Latin was the idiom of intellectual life and French was spoken at court. Dialect German was the language of the lower orders and the middle classes would only speak German to their servants.

The Weimar writer Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), believed that it was this lack of a unified language that continued to ‘divide’ Germany. He thought that ‘true’ German unification (i.e. cultural rather than political) could be achieved by language and culture and unlike the disparate states of the time, it was culture that constituted the ‘authentic and original Germany‘.

Herder even blamed the dominance of French culture & language for Germany’s poor global reputation. In his work ‘Idea for the 1st patriotic institute for the unified spirit of Germany‘, he posits developing a ‘healed nation‘ through the founding of an academy that would promote ‘purity‘ of the German language. It was writers such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) who, writing for the Hamburg National Theatre (est. 1757), strove to break free from the stranglehold of French cultural influence, staging plays such as Emilia Galotti that portrayed German middle classes as its subjects.

Despite initially welcoming the French revolution and its democratic ideals, the 1793 execution of Louis XVI & ensuing terror repulsed many German intellectuals including Schiller. In 1795 he wrote to Herder: ‘I know nothing more healing for the poetic soul than to retreat from the real world. ‘He published ‘The Aesthetic Education of the People’ (1795) stating that man was: ‘not yet ready for such radical democratic change’ & should practise ‘political abstinence‘, retreat from the ‘politically divided world‘ and unify under ‘the banner of truth and beauty.‘ True transformation would arise through culture and education i.e. an aesthetic education to develop the foundations for a truly enlightened nation.

In a fragment entitled ‘German Might‘(Deutsche Größe, 1797), Schiller notes:

[Germany has] a moral greatness that resides in its culture and the character of the nation that is independent from its political fate…the German lives in a dilapidated house but the German himself is a noble inhabitant and when the political Reich wobbles, the spiritual blooms ever more secure.

He even asserted: ‘our language will rule the world’, and the concluding verses of an early 19thc poem by Schiller states: ‘Freedom is only to be found in the realm of dream/and beauty blossoms only in song.’ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), also rejected the ideals of the French Revolution noting re. Press censorship: ‚Nobody but those who wish to abuse it, scream for freedom of the press!‘.

Right into the 19th century Germany retreated away from the ‚dirty‘ business of politics and expansionism as seen in France and Britain and into a what was termed ‚stubborn defensiveness‘ (‚trotzige Abwehr‘) into its own cultural exclusivity: ‚We are the nation of Poets and Thinkers‘. It was a yearning for: ein reines Reich der Poesie (a pure/unsullied nation of poetry).

Ironically it was a French woman, the exiled (by Napoleon), Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766-1817) who was responsible for globally disseminating this image of Germany as a highly refined nation of poets and thinkers.

Her influential book ‘About Germany‘ was banned in France and was published in London in 1813 (the year of Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig). In it, she gushes: France cannot have any idea how pervasive education is in Germany!’ and lauds German universities and poets as the:

…best in Europe…… the native philosophy has the advantage of a precision tool: German language clamps onto ideas as though with claws that open and shut.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), exiled to Paris, mocked Madame de Staël, the German Romantic School & those who would seek to‚ reject the French influence, glorify the German middle ages and crowd back into the old spiritual dungeon.‘ He wrote:

The patriotism of the French comprises a warming of the heart – a heat that expands and encompasses not just his neighbours but the whole of France, the whole area of civilization with love. The patriotism of the German conversely, comprises a compression of the heart that contracts like leather in the cold – he hates foreigners and no longer wants to be a citizen of the world, only a narrow ‚German‘.

Heinrich Heine: “Die Romantische Schule”.

It is all the above that cemented the image of Germany as an intellectual elite – a nation of ‚poets and thinkers‘ by the 19th century. Bildung (education) has become central to German identity and a form of moral progress. The most accurate translation of Bildung beyond its narrow meaning of ‘education’ would be ‘self-realisation’.

Universities such as Göttingen revolutionised higher education with a new emphasis on original research, resulting in the development of the seminar and the modern PhD. As a result, the founders of the University of London took Berlin as their model. Between 1815 and 1914, around 10,000 Americans studied in Germany, including 19 future college and university presidents. This all reinforced the global image of Germans as introspective, deep and soulful with a rich language but not anchored in or adapted to the real world.

In 1888, Friedrich Nietzsche noted that the term ‚German Spirit‘ had since unification (1871) been a ‚contradictio in adjectio‘, i.e. an oxymoron. The Viennese writer Karl Kraus also mocked the ‚Poets and Thinkers‘ designation, famously noting that on the eve of the 20th century, the new Germany, created from ‚Blood and Iron‘, had morphed from ‚Dichter und Denker‘ (poets & thinkers) into Richter und Henker (‘judges and executioners’).

The trope of the efficient, ruthless German has its roots largely in this late 19thc Prussian expansionism under Bismarck. The map clearly shows the extent of Prussia territory at its 19th-Century peak, covering much of northern Germany and present-day Poland. A further gulf between the north and south was Prussia’s adoption of Lutheran Protestantism (It was Martin Luther who had imagined a new kind of German Christianity far from the Catholic confines of the Holy Roman Empire).

 

SLIDES 5 & 6: INFLUENCE OF GERMAN ROYAL FAMILY

The formal political union between Britain and Hanover from 1714 to 1837, the political and dynastic ties that persisted into Victoria’s reign & the growing influence of German culture and science in 19th-century Europe made for a different and closer relationship between the two countries.

When George I, the Elector of Hanover, came to the British throne in 1714, he was followed by large numbers of Hanoverians and Brunswickers. There were travelling musicians; craftsmen such as piano makers, cabinet makers, tailors and furriers; shopkeepers, particularly hairdressers, pork butchers and bakers; sailors, soldiers and even labourers – especially in the sugar refining industry which was largely German-owned, run and manned until the mid-19th century.

The crack-down by the rulers of the larger German states on the attempt to set up a democratic German Confederation in 1848 also led to many political refugees – among them Karl Marx – fleeing to London. As Prussia then conquered less powerful regions including Hanover, Schleswig-Holstein, and much of Hesse in the mid-19th century, many of their citizens fled to Britain.

 

SLIDE 7: COMING TO ENGLAND

There have been Germans in Britain throughout its history including German soldiers of the Roman army, 5thc Anglo-Saxon settlers & the Hanseatic merchants of the Middle Ages. From the 16thc century, Protestant refugees arrived, fleeing from instability caused by the religious changes caused by the Reformation. By the end of the17thc, a German community had developed, mostly of businessmen from Hamburg, and sugar bakers.

Due to numbers and the passage of the religious Toleration Act of 1689, four German churches existed in London by 1700. The 18thc saw 3 key groups of German migration to Britain: merchants, transmigrants (on-route to the USA) and craftsmen intending to settle permanently. The latter included the sugar bakers working in London from the mid-18thc but whose numbers increased during the Napoleonic Wars.

Around 5 million people left Germany during the nineteenth century. The German communities which existed in 19thc Britain counted people on every rung of the social ladder from the underclass to the middle classes, reflecting the divisions of the German settlements.

Britain was the centre of the Industrial Revolution and the Empire, which meant there was a growing market and demand for skilled workers. But in many cases – especially in the mid-19th century, the principal reason to come here was to escape tyranny. The huge influx of German-speaking immigrants came from all sectors of society including bankers and merchants such as the Rothschilds and Barings; artists – Angelika Kauffmann and Johann Zoffany; musicians like Sir Charles Hallé, founder of Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra, and the numerous German bands that played in British cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Until 1914, there were few controls over immigration. People could set up in business anywhere they wished and Protestantism, the faith of many of the incoming Germans, was openly accepted in the UK.

 

SLIDES 8-11: LONDON & THE GERMAN SUGARBAKERS

[8] The 18thc popularity of beverages led to demand for refined sugar (rather than raw ‘loaf’). By 1800, consumption was 20lb per year per head. Dutch, German & British traders took over the trade as the West Indies’ plantations provided raw materials. Before mid-19thc technical improvements, it was arduous and dangerous work with risks of fire & explosion.

The conditions were so bad that even Irish men would not take the work and German labour was the cheapest in the whole East End. Many were drawn to the work as they were trying to earn enough for their passage to North America.

The process involved raw sugar passed through chutes from the top floor of the refinery to ‘blow-ups’ below – cast iron tanks with mechanical paddles & steam pipes to heat the water. ‘Liquor’ was filtered through twilled cotton, passed through ‘animal charcoal’ to remove the colour, then boiled & processed. Germans dominated what became the major local trade: Beckman, Dirs, Gotcke, Gramlitch, Lehman, Mackerbath, Neuman, Pretzler, Scheinx, Schuilerman and Wackerworth.

The Statistical Society’s report (1848) describes them as a cleanly, orderly, and well conducted body of men, chiefly worshippers at the German chapel in the neighbourhood.  By the 1870s, the trade was in decline.

‘THE ST. GEORGE’S SUGAR REFINERS’ P M Martineau, 1901

‘Sugar refining was the leading industry in St George’s-in-the-East, Whitechapel, London in the mid 19thc. Refineries included those of, Wackerbath, Goodhart, Kuck and Schroder. The largest refinery was in Christian Street and which boasted of the tallest chimney in London. The sugars were made from cane & known as ‘Titler’s’ (i.e., loaf), ‘crushed’, ‘pieces’, and ‘bastard treacle’. The sugar bakers lived in the refineries & at that time were nearly all Germans, chiefly Hanoverians. It was said that Germans stood the heat better than the English…They came to England as lads & saved their money.

In due time they went into the ‘Public’ line in our Parish, or returned to Hanover to marry a sweetheart and to farm. The work in a refinery was long hard and hot. The wages were good, & there was unlimited beer. If one walked about our streets then, one often saw at the open door or window half-naked well-fed Germans joking & laughing in the pauses of their work. They mostly ate beefsteak.” By 1901 the East End trade was over, dominated by Henry Tate’s ‘cube’ sugar.’

‘The Old Sugar Refineries of St. George’s-in-the-East‘. Alexander Gander (1911-1993)

‘My father lived in Denmark Street & his family was the only English one there, the others being German. He told me that the Germans had their meals every day on bare white scrubbed sycamore tables, & at weekends the German bands would come round and play their music. Some of these Germans used to return to their native land – many more were absorbed into the local community.

Some opened shops: butchers, barbers, bakers, and publicans & I remember most of them along Cable Street and St. George’s St.: Hagermann’s the toy shop, Schloss the publican & Schmidt the barber. Close by the dock was a large pub in Ship Alley called the “Prussian Flag” kept by old Jack Mueller the antique dealer. He told me that during the 1914 War he put a ladder up to the sign and chipped out the ‘P’ to make it the “Russian Flag”’.

[9] “Essay on Sugar’ Robert Niccol – 1864.

Niccol’s lengthy report details the early sugar trade but these edited excerpts focus on his vicious attack on the German domination of the trade up until the mid-1840s

“They [Germans] are said to have commenced operations in London in 1659, the entire management of English refineries being entrusted into the hands of these foreigners, under whom, in every sense of the term, the British refiner was an absolute slave.”

“The Germans who have come to this country from time to time in the capacity of sugar bakers, have never been known to be accompanied from the Hanseatic towns by their wives and families; but invariably married those of the fair sex belonging to this country, many of whom, in the event of their husbands being obliged to return to their own country, were, with their families, left in a state of abject poverty and wretchedness to become a burden upon our parochial and charitable institutions.”

“A goodly number of the so-called “sugar bakers” arrived in this country from Germany as street musicians : one played the German flute, another played the organ, while a third exhibited, in a small drum cage, some half-dozen white mice, these animals driving round the cage at a speed little short of that performed by the fly-wheel of a steam engine.

These foreigners having, got employment in our refineries – which in general they accomplished with little difficulty through the influence of their countrymen – they soon assumed quite another appearance. It has been frequently remarked by our countrymen that those foreigners come here in the state of half-clad and half-starved peasants, and after remaining but a short time in this country and working in the refineries here, they soon become more like princes.”

“The Germans, to speak of them generally, possess many good and amiable qualities: they are for the most part ingenious, industrious and intelligent. But this opinion must be somewhat modified in speaking of that class of them connected with the process of sugar refining in this country, who, with but few exceptions, have proved themselves to be rather illiterate, selfish, and indeed treacherous towards our countrymen.”

[10 & 11] German agricultural workers were heavily deployed in the baking trade. An official of the Master Baker’s trade opined that ‘half of the London Masters and operatives are German…they are a very persevering lot of men’. After importing the agricultural labourers, German masters would provide their new employees with food and lodging for two years, then: ‘having picked up a few ideas about the trade they would go elsewhere and get a place for about 18/- a week’, after which: ‘their thrift pushes them on to become masters in a small way and so they progress’. They could work up to 112 hours per week (British Library of Political and Economic Science [BLPES]. Booth Collection, London City Mission Magazine, 2 June 1884, cited Panayi, 2014).

 

SLIDES 12-16: CHURCHES, CLUBS, NEWSPAPERS & SERVICES

[12] Up until the 1890s, Germans were the largest foreign community in London. Many came to the capital to find work as hairdressers, sugar-refiners, bakers, and waiters, before settling down with British wives in the East End.

[13] Waiters initially came to Britain on a temporary basis, aiming to improve their English so that they could return to Germany & enhance their employment By 1911 male & female waiters made up 10% of all waiting staff in London (the German population overall was 0.25 of the population of England & Wales).

Unlike native employees, German staff got no wage and relied entirely on tips. Hours were 12 hours per day in English restaurants to 14 hours in a foreign one. Due to apprenticeships in Germany, they were properly trained thus valued. They had their own union and club in London: the Kellnerverein (Waiters’ Association) ‘Union Ganymed’ (Panayi, 2014).

[14] By the end of the 19thc, three German language newspapers were well established: The Londoner Zeitung started 1858, the Londoner General Anzeiger and Die Finanzchronik

[15] In 1896, 30% of London hairdressers were foreign. Germans were particularly well represented having a reputation for being ‘industrious, cleanly and sober’. German barbers and hairdressers had 2 clubs of their own: the Harmony Club in Fitzroy Square and the Concordia in Houndsditch (Panayi, 2014).

German musicians comprised both working-class and middle-class members. Itinerant street musicians performed throughout the country. Other brass bands performed in the streets & often comprised 12-14 year old youths imported by a master & often exploited. German orchestral players were a significant component of several British orchestras during the Victorian and Edwardian periods e.g. the Halle Orchestra, founded and conducted until his death by Sir Charles Hallé, a German in Manchester

[16] Homoeopath and therapist Mathias Roth was born in 1818 in Kaschau (Košice), in the Habsburg Empire, into a Jewish family. Having supported the unsuccessful Hungarian revolt against the Habsburgs he had to flee the country. He arrived in London in October 1849 where, in 1850, he was one of the founding members of the short-lived Hahnemann Hospital at no. 39 Bloomsbury Square which aimed at relieving the poor who suffer from acute diseases by receiving them as in patients (between 1850 and 1852 over 9,000 patients were treated).

In 1851 he published The Prevention and Cure of many Chronic Diseases by Movements, a treatise on the philosophical, physiological & medical foundations of Swedish gymnastics which had been pioneered by Pehr Henrik Ling earlier in the 19thc. Roth developed the concept of scientific physical education, advocating the teaching of physiology, hygiene, and educational gymnastics. The Swedish model offered an alternative to those who were put off by the military connotation of the German version of strengthening the muscles.

 

SLIDE 17: GERMANS IN MANCHESTER

By the mid-19thc, Manchester’s industrial supremacy and its tradition of non-conformist Liberalism attracted many Germans fleeing the revolutionary chaos of Europe in 1848-9 where the elected German parliament had been crushed by the Prussian military.

They were also drawn to ‘Cottonopolis’ Manchester: a centre of cotton production and dyeing technology, and the heart of the industrial revolution.

German merchants, musicians, scientists, engineers & industrialists settled in Manchester in the 19thc & helped shape its intellectual, industrial, commercial and cultural life. The textiles industry drew chemical engineers such as Carl Friedrich Beyer and Carl Schorlemmer, or German-trained engineers such as Henry Edward Schunck and Henry Enfield Roscoe, all founding members of Owen’s College, which became the Victoria University of Manchester.

The German physicist Arthur Schuster was a key figure in establishing a world-class physics laboratory at the University, in what is now the Rutherford Building. It was the site of the later collaboration between Ernest Rutherford (who split the atom) and Hans Geiger (of the Geiger counter).

 

SLIDE 18: Sir Arthur Schuster (1851 –1934).

Franz Arthur Friedrich Schuster. German born physicist known for his work in spectroscopy, electrochemistry, optics, X-radiography & the application of harmonic analysis to physics. Schuster’s Integral is named after him. He contributed to making the University of Manchester a centre for the study of physics.

In 1869, his father moved to Manchester where the family textile business was based. Arthur spent a year working for Schuster Bros. but persuaded his father to let him study at Owen’s College studying mathematics under Thomas Barker & physics under Balfour Stewart.

Schuster is credited with coining the concept of “antimatter” in two letters to ‘Nature’ magazine in 1898. He hypothesized antiatoms, and whole antimatter solar systems, which would yield energy if the atoms combined with atoms of normal matter. His hypothesis was given a mathematical foundation by the work of Paul Dirac in 1928, which predicted antiparticles and later led to their discovery.

 

SLIDE 19: CARL SCHORLEMMER: The Red Chemist’

Schorlemmer was born 1834 in Darmstadt, studied pharmacy at Darmstadt technical college & chemistry at the University of Giessen. Hired 1859 as assistant to chemistry professor Henry Roscoe at Owens College, Manchester, where he lived for the rest of his life. Schorlemmer was one of the most gifted chemists of his time. In his first decade in Manchester he published more than 24 scientific papers, many ground-breaking studies of hydrocarbon chemistry.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1871, and appointed to England’s first chair in organic chemistry, at Owens College, in 1874. He served as vice-president of the chemical section of the British Academy in the 1880s. After his death, Owens College spent £4800 (more than £1 million today) to build & equip the Schorlemmer Memorial Laboratory, the 1st facility in England devoted to organic chemistry.

In 1865, Manchester’s Thatched House Tavern was where young German scientists employed in the chemical industries around Manchester met to discuss science, business, industry, & German politics. This is where Friedrich Engels met Carl Schorlemmer, whom he described to Marx as “one of the best fellows I have got to know for a long time.”

 

SLIDES 20 & 21: FRIEDRICH ENGELS (1820-1895)

In 1842, when Engels (b. in Barmen, Germany) was 22, he was sent by his mill-owner father to work for the family’s joint owned Ermen and Engels’ Victoria Mill in Weaste, Salford. It made sewing threads. Engels was already an accomplished horseman, swordsman, swimmer, skater, artist, journalist, composer, philosopher & political radical & had published political articles in Germany, prompting his father to write “I have a son at home who is like a scabby sheep in a flock…”

He worked at Victoria Mill in Weaste & in the company’s office in Deansgate (now the House of Fraser site), but at night walked around the city in disguise (provided by his partner Mary Burns, a mill employee), noting the shocking living conditions of working people & in 1844 writing The Condition of the Working Class in England (published 1845 / in English 1892).

I once went into Manchester with a bourgeois and spoke to him of the bad, unwholesome method of building, the frightful conditions of the working people’s quarters…The man listened quietly and said when we parted `And yet there is a great deal of money to be made here; good morning sir…

Back in Germany, Engels took part in the revolutionary uprising against the Prussian army. After this, in 1848, Engels & Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto urging a worldwide socialist revolution. Pursued by the authorities Engels took refuge in Switzerland before arriving back at the Salford factory in 1850 & stayed for 19 years.

He was under surveillance from the secret police & had `official’ & `unofficial homes’ all over Manchester where he lived with Mary under false names to confuse the authorities. He destroyed over 1500 letters between himself and Marx after the latter’s death, so as not to expose their secret life in the N.W.  Ermen & Engels Victoria Mill was at the bottom of Weaste Lane. The M602 now runs right through the former site. Its chimney stood until around 1993 when it too was demolished. There is now no evidence of the world’s most famous mill which Engels part owned until 1869.

 

SLIDE 22: MUSIC & WRITERS IN BRADFORD

Bradford also attracted Germans to its textile manufacturing industry from the 1830s. Some were merchants operating with German bank funding.

The author J.B.Priestley recalled of his home-town Bradford: ‘I can remember when one of the best known clubs in Bradford was the Schillerverein. And in those days a Londoner was a stranger sight than a German. There was then, this strange mixture in pre-war Bradford. A dash of the Rhine or the Oder found its way into our grim runnel –‘t mucky beck’ .

Bradford was determinedly Yorkshire and provincial. Yet some of its suburbs reached out as far as Frankfurt and Leipzig. It was odd enough. But it worked.’ (Priestley cited Panayi, 2014, p.20) The composer Frederick Delius, son of an immigrant wool merchant lived there, as did Humbert Wolfe who was one of the most popular British authors of the 1920s. He was also a translator of Heinrich Heine, Edmond Fleg and Eugene Heltai (Heltai Jenő)

 

SLIDE 23: Sir Charles Hallé

In the 19th century, the Germans called England Das Land ohne Musik (‘the land of no music’). In the 19thc, Germany had produced Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner & Mendelssohn but it was not until the late 1880s that England produced a composer of note: Hubert Parry who was very influenced by the music of Brahms.

By the 1890s England had Elgar, acknowledged as a master but he too was influenced by German composers. The awareness of this fired up a search for a ‘national music’ led by Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams in their collecting of English folk music that influenced the latter’s own compositions.

Karl Hallé was born in Hagen, Germany on 11 April, 1819. He left Paris in 1848 after the revolution in the city, settling with his family in London where he changed his name. He came to the North-West after accepting an offer to run Manchester’s Gentleman’s Concerts, which had its own orchestra.

Apparently, the orchestra was so bad, he almost gave up the post. Hallé is buried in Salford’s Weaste cemetery. Hans Richter succeeded him at the eponymous Manchester orchestra.

 

SLIDE 24: Influence of German devotional music

Although John Wesley made some translations from German in the 18th century, the 19th century was the golden age of German-English hymn translation. Most German hymn translations in the Church of England’s standard hymnal, ‘Hymns Ancient & Modern’, date from this period. ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ is a translation of a German hymn, Wir pflügen und wir streuen, with words taken from a poem by the 18th-century German poet Matthias Claudius.

The English translation first appeared in 1861 in a collection entitled A Garland of Songs: or an English Liederkranz compiled by Germanophile clergyman Charles S. Bere. In a preface he the importance of vocal music in German homes and communities & hopes that his English collection will encourage a similar culture amongst the English.

The anonymous translator was Jane Campbell (1817-1878). Her contributions include a version of ‘Stille Nacht’ beginning ‘Holy Night, peaceful night’. The most active 19th-century translator and promoter of German hymns in Britain was Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) whose Lyra Germanica (1855) held over 100 hymns. She was also a social reformer and a pioneering advocate of women’s higher education.

Winkworth moved in intellectual Christian circles where contemporary German theology was much admired. Winkworth followed up the success of her first series of translations with a second series and a study of German devotional lyrics, Christian Singers of Germany (Reed, 2004)

 

SLIDES 25 – 27: GERMAN GYMNASTICS COME TO ENGLAND: ERNST RAVENSTEIN

[25] The popularity of gymnastics also has its roots in Germany. In Germany, the sport was popularised by Friedrich Jahn – the ‘father of gymnastics’ who coined the phrase: ‘Brisk, devout, merry & free’. Jahn felt that Germany had been humiliated by Napoleon & believed the practice of gymnastics would restore physical strength & pride of fellow Germans. He opened the 1st open-air gym in Berlin (1811). In 1816 he published Deutsche Turnkunst with exercises & apparatus recognisable today.

Jahn was an advocate of a unified, constitutional German state & young gymnasts were taught to regard themselves as members of a guild for the emancipation of their fatherland. The Turnverein (gymnastics association) movement spread rapidly but Jahn’s views were suspiciously liberal to the Prussian establishment of his time, and he was imprisoned as a subversive. Gymnastics, tainted by association, was officially banned in Prussia for two decades. The ban was never fully enforced, but it led many of Jahn’s supporters and fellow-gymnasts to emigrate.

The Napoleonic Wars did not affect the British populace in the same way as Germany where compulsory military service was being considered so this awareness of militarism did not exist & the English were developing a more civil and individualised culture – this was the Regency period of Beau Brummel and the Dandies.

The German middle classes had taken up the ‘English’ sports of football, horse racing, athletics, tennis and hockey from the 1850s onwards. However, these drew funding away from the indigenous sport of non-competitive Turnen (‘apparatus gymnastics’). Turnen bodies started a bitter cultural war against the imported sports, they objected to the competitive element.

Conversely the British found something distasteful about ‘artificially’ developing the body & that robust physicality was something that was inherited not developed. In Germany gymnastics represented common cultural values and a demonstration of national strength. In contrast, England had long had a nation state.

Schools such as Charterhouse, Wellington & Winchester adapted it from the 1860s but it had to compete against the much more popular team sports. Matthew Arnold the Victorian educationalist noted that Prussian boys, drilled in gymnastics did not ‘look as fresh, happy and healthy’ as English boys from the top English public schools. In Germany, quasi-military mass marching onto the field was highly popular amongst gymnasts, in England this took the form of ‘recreational drill’ accompanied by music.

The 1876 & 1880 compulsory education act introduced gymnastics into schools for ordinary people. They became compulsory in state schools only in the 1890s. These schools did not have the facilities for equipment so ‘Swedish’ gymnastics (which required no apparatus) was taken up instead. Football appeared as an alternative for boys in the late 19thc.The English Schools Football Association was founded in 1904 sounding the death knell for German gymnastics.

[26] The first gymnastics club in Britain was established by Jahn’s protégé Ernst G. Ravenstein in 1861. He moved to London in 1852 and as well as opening the first custom-built gymnasium, was employed as a cartographer at the Ministry of War. He retired in 1872, declining the position of chief cartographer at the Royal Geographical Society because he was refused permission to smoke on the premises. He was obsessed with trying to estimate the planet’s population and predicted that the world would reach saturation point and run out of resources in the year 2072.

He also sat on the councils of the Royal Statistical Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He briefly taught as Professor of Geology at London’s Bedford College (1884/5). His work on migration influenced geographers, demographers and sociologists. In 1902, Ravenstein was the first scientist to receive the Victoria gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

[27] In 1865 Ravenstein’s gym club moved into a purpose-built ‘German Gymnasium’ between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations which still survives. It was designed by Edward Gruning and funded by the German community in London to promote the integration of German culture abroad. In its first year the Gymnasium attracted 900 members, of whom 500 were German, 203 English, 67 Scottish and the rest spread across different nationalities.

On 7 November 1865 the Liverpool Mercury reported the formation of the National Olympian Association (NOA). Its inaugural meeting was held at the Liverpool Gymnasium in Myrtle Street. This meeting was the forerunner of the modern British Olympic Association. In 1866, the newly built German Gymnasium was one of three venues in London to host the first ever national Olympian Games held during the modern era. The NOA lasted until 1883 and its Olympian Games ‘were open to all comers’.

Ravenstein loved boxing so the gym also became a hive of bare knuckle Victorian boxing. It was also was home to some long forgotten sports such as Indian club swinging and broadsword practice. The gym was also known for its forward-thinking and liberal approach, women were just as welcome to train as men.

 

SLIDE 28 – 30: HEALTH & WELLBEING: EUGEN SANDOW

[28] The latter part of the nineteenth century was fixated on the degeneration of individuals – physically due to industrial poverty but also psychologically i.e. ‘bad nerves’ the plight of the modern age. As a curative for so-called ‘neurasthenia’ or ‘Americanitis’, doctors prescribed fresh air & physical exercise. Organised sports, swimming, weight-lifting, or horse riding, were promoted. Muscular activities were supposed to sharpen aggression and increase competitiveness.

Many observers believed that the Church contributed to man’s meekness. They called for a more robust religiosity. The phrase ‘muscular Christianity’ appeared in the late 1850s in connection with Charles Kingsley’s fiction. The underlying idea was that the image of Christ communicated by the (Anglican) Church was too effeminate, passive and unheroic. The age of nervousness needed a leader figure of power & strength who would turn the feeble into supermen of masculinity. Nietzsche introduced his Übermensch, and Marxists created their own myths of the ‘heroic’ working man.

[29] Friedrich Müller (b.1867 in Königsberg, East Prussia), adopted the name Eugen Sandow. He became the ‘blonde god’ of 19thc manhood, the ‘father of modern bodybuilding’, & the creator of the London Institute of Physical Culture (1897), a gymnasium for bodybuilders. He held the first bodybuilding contest at the Royal Albert Hall in September 1901 (Arthur Conan Doyle acted as one of the judges).

Sandow helped to develop the ‘Grecian ideal’ as a formula for the perfect male physique. In 1919 Ray Lankester, Director of the Natural History Department of the British Museum, mounted an exhibit displaying examples of all the races of the world & Sandow represented the Caucasian race. A complete cast exemplifying the ideal type of European manhood, was made by the London based Italian firm of Brucciani & Co. and put on a pedestal.

An era obsessed with the notion of degeneration projected his body as an antidote for neurasthenia. In 1911, Sandow was appointed Professor of Scientific and Physical Culture to George V. He published his book Life is Movement (1919), addressing the physical reconstruction and regeneration of the people.

 

SLIDES 30-33: LITERATURE/CHILDREN’S BOOKS

[30] There was a strong German influence on English gothic fiction. This came partly via the works of the Sturm und Drang (‘storm & stress’ Romantic writing) movement and partly from the translations of the popular Schauerromane (‘shudder novels’), themselves often influenced by British gothic models.   This German influence was not always welcomed. In 1807 the writer Charles Maturin wrote of literary ‘horrors’ reaching British shores on a ‘plague-ship of German letters’.

In 1805 ‘The Critical Review’ had described Matthew Lewis’s The Bravo of Venice as a ‘Germanico-terrific Romance’. The Bravo was an adaptation of a real German work, Heinrich Zschokke’s Abällino. ‘Writers of the German school’ and their constant desire to shock are criticized.

‘Gothic’ was still a synonym for ‘Germanic’ or Teutonic’ & was another factor in the identification of Germany with things gothic, as was the Germans’ continued use of ‘gothic’ type.

[31] Walter Scott introduced Britain’s ‘German’ monarchs (George IV) to Scotland. He was also an important mediator of German culture in Britain. In his early 20s, Scott became ‘German mad’ – fascinated with German literature. His 1st published work was a translation of two ballads by Gottfried August Buerger in 1796.

In 1797 he produced the 1st English translation of Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen. Scott was influenced by German writers who were rediscovering and recording national folklore and mediaeval literature & he corresponded with Jacob Grimm. He also encouraged Robert Pearse Gillies, another Scottish enthusiast for German literature, to found the Foreign Quarterly Review, a journal devoted to continental literature. Through its pages Gillies introduced Kleist, to British audiences.

The Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle also championed German literature & began a correspondence with Goethe after translating Wilhelm Meister’s Lehrjahre. The critic R.D. Ashton states, he ‘became convinced that he alone knew anything about German literature … and that it was his duty to teach it’, and he continued in this mission for all his writing life (Reed, 2014d).

[32 & 33] In 1844 the German doctor and writer Heinrich Hoffmann decided to create a children’s book, telling the stories of children who meet brutal fates as a result of their bad/foolish behaviour. Harriet (Paulinchen in German) who plays with matches is burnt to death, and Conrad/Konrad, whose punishment for thumb-sucking is to have both thumbs cut off by a tailor with giant scissors (‘the great, long, red-legg’d scissor-man’ in the English version).

The stories are written in rhyme with cartoonish illustrations, like a forerunner of the modern comic.  Der Struwwelpeter (1845) was an instant success. The 1848 English translation became a bestseller. On the outbreak of war in 1914 both German and British writers used Hoffmann’s book as a basis for satire. The German Kriegs-Struwwelpeter replaces the naughty children with representatives of the various anti-German allies, while the poems in E.V.Lucas’s Swollen-Headed William all describe the misdeeds of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Later in 1933, Humbert Wolfe published his version lampooning the emergent National Socialist regime.

Although still available in Germany it is out of print in England – the stories considered too ‘traumatising’ for young children these days. Struwwelpeter is often described as a sadistic and authoritarian attempt to frighten children into obedience and make them conform to a rigid social code. The truth is the complete opposite. Hoffmann wrote it as a reaction against books which he thought were overly moralistic or blandly accepting of social norms. Even in the most ‘horrific’ tales, the exaggeration of the children’s fates, both in the stories and illustrations, was intended for comic rather than frightening effect.

 

SLIDE 34: INVASION PARANOIA: ‘The Battle of Dorking’ 1871

Britain in the early 19thc, had viewed Germany as a ‘backward’ country. By 1871 Prussia had won the Franco-Prussian war, Germany was a unified country & the premier military power in Europe. Fear grew that Germany might even invade Britain. Negative comments started to emerge in the press in the 1870s and the concept of the ‘invasion novel’ was born. In 1871 Lieutenant-Colonel George Tomkyns Chesney anonymously published his story ‘The Battle of Dorking’ in Blackwood’s Magazine.

Chesney believed that Great Britain was unprepared for an armed invasion from Germany, especially after its victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. The story is told from 50 years in the future when a soldier tells the story to his grandson. Using ‘fatal engines’, the German navy destroys the British fleet. Soldiers land in Harwich. They march upon London; the final battle is at Dorking in the Surrey Hills. The British army is defeated. Germany takes control of Britain, The Empire is disbanded.

The story caused a sensation. The British were shocked out of their complacency regarding their military superiority. The government had to reassure the public that plans to review the army were in hand. The story was published in a separate booklet and sold in tens of thousands throughout Europe. Sequels included  What Happened after the Battle of Dorking (1871), The Siege of London (1871), The Invasion of England (1882) and The Battle off Worthing: why the Invaders never got to Dorking (1887).

 

SLIDE 35: 1880s – POVERTY & CRIME

There had been an overall economic downturn in the 1880s which no doubt played its part in increasing xenophobia. This coincided with the highest recorded peak of German poor in London. The Select Committee on Emigration and Immigration were concerned specifically about the number of poor Germans entering the country assessing how much was being spent by the Society of Friends of Foreigners in Distress & the German Society of Benevolence.

The German sector of St Pancras was poverty stricken with high incidences of prostitution & overcrowding. The royal commission on alien immigration heard from a barrister that German burglars were importing sophisticated tools to ply their trade and that German waiters were using false references using their trade as a cover to steal from inhabitants of lodging houses.

‘An astonishing number of swindlers and impostors exist among the Germans of London’ (Katscher cited Panaji, 2000). An 1860s’ report re. German Catholics in London claimed that people who had committed crimes in Germany continued this once they arrived in London. Sponza (1887 cited Panaji, 2000), identified the main criminal activities of Germans in London as: larceny, receiving of stolen goods, housebreaking, forgery & crimes against the person.

Germans became involved in prostitution either as pimps and brothel keepers or as prostitutes. Women became involved in this trade either by answering bogus advertisements in German newspapers, which offered them respectable employment, or by being enticed upon their arrival in London, where the major area of their activities consisted of Leicester Square.

 

SLIDE 36: ‘MADE IN GERMANY’ 1887

After Expo 1876 in Philadelphia, German products had been condemned as being: “cheap and of low quality” by experts there. This prompted a huge effort on behalf of Germany to improve their manufacturing reputation. Due to low wages & advantageous manufacturing conditions, it was very successful to the extent that exports rose and Britain started to feel threatened.

The “Made in Germany” label is not a German invention. It came about as part of the British Merchandise Marks Act (1887). This ensured that all foreign products that could threaten the success of British merchandise were branded with a label encouraging the UK to Buy British. It was particularly aimed at German products affecting cutlery, scissors & knives from Solingen which threatened the Sheffield production & machinery from Saxony.

It was hoped that German mechanical engineering – already superior to the British – would become stigmatized by being given a negative label. The plan backfired. As the years progressed, the label “Made in Germany” ultimately developed into a sign of quality.

 

SLIDE 37: THE ‘TELEGRAPH AFFAIR’ 1908

On 28 October 1908, The Telegraph published an interview with Kaiser Wilhelm who stated: ‘You English are mad, mad, mad as March hares. What has come over you that you are so completely given over to suspicions quite unworthy of a great nation?’

Wilhelm had originally wanted to promote his views on Anglo-German friendship, but became so over-emotional that the interview alienated the British, French, Russians, and Japanese. Wilhelm implied that Germans cared nothing for the British; that the French and Russians had attempted to incite Germany to intervene in the 2nd Boer War & that the German naval build-up was targeted against the Japanese, not Britain.

The Daily Telegraph crisis affected Wilhelm’s self-confidence & mental health. He suffered a severe bout of depression from which he never fully recovered. He later exacted his revenge by forcing the resignation of the chancellor, Prince Bülow, who had abandoned the Emperor to public scorn by not having the transcript edited before its German publication. With shades of the current controversy surrounding President Trump, Bulow recalled in his memoirs that:

A dark foreboding ran through many Germans that such…stupid, even puerile speech and action on the part of the Supreme Head of State could lead to only one thing – catastrophe.

The British leadership had already decided that Wilhelm was somewhat mentally disturbed, and saw this as further evidence of his unstable personality, as opposed to an indication of official German hostility.

 

SLIDES 38 & 39: DIE DEUTSCHE KOLONIE IN LONDON BOOK, 1913.

The book was published one year before the outset of WW1 to mark Kaiser Wilhelm II’s silver jubilee, with an appeal for contributions towards a commemorative ‘Imperial Jubilee Fund’ to support Germans and German institutions in Britain.  There is a history of German settlement in Britain & an overview of the German community & institutions in London and beyond, demonstrating the strength and vitality of this community shortly before the First World War.

Some 15 German churches and congregations in London are described, as well as 12 in other cities including Edinburgh, Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle. Richard Pflaum in his introduction praises Kaiser Wilhelm for having gained international recognition for Germany by peaceful means but notes:

For the Germans in England a German war could have led to the most incalculable consequences, because such a war would surely have developed into a world war, in which the people among whom we live, and whose hospitality we have enjoyed for centuries, would have been forced on to the side of Germany’s opponents.

The book is indicative of how quickly the relationship with Germany ‘turned bad’. Even in 1913, the authors seem unaware of the rise in British anti-German sentiment at both popular and political levels, even suggesting that Wilhelm II is admired by the English.

 

SLIDES 40-43: OUTBREAK OF WAR 1914

[41] At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, around 53,000 Germans resided in the UK, making up the third largest minority group after the Irish and Jewish. Some had established their own businesses, as barbers, bakers or restaurateurs (Soho’s Charlotte Street, was nicknamed Charlottenstrasse because of the number of German restaurants and bakeries); others worked as governesses or waiters.

Many had married British citizens, and some had sons serving in the British armed forces. When war was declared, many returned home. One source records that this was possible as late as January 1915 travelling via neutral Holland. ‘Enemy aliens’ had to register with the police, and their movements were restricted, but they continued to work and socialise as they had before.

[42] Within a few days of war being declared the War Office wrote to King George V asking him to remove the Kaiser (his 1st cousin), from his honorary command of the Dragoon Guards & his position as a British admiral. The British naval career of First Sea Lord of Prince Louis of Battenburg, a German prince who had married a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was also terminated.

He was born in Austria but had become a naturalised British citizen aged 14 & had served in the British Navy since 1868. He anglicised his family name to Mountbatten. The Royal Family changed theirs from Saxe-Coburg/Gotha to Windsor in 1917.

In Coventry, the German-born lord mayor Siegfried Bettman was forced to resign even though he was a naturalised British citizen and chairman & founder of the city’s Triumph Motorcycles. a Justice of the Peace, a Freemason, & a member of the Liberal Party.

Under new laws, the 60,000-strong German community in Britain had to ask for permission to travel more than five miles and were forbidden from living in “restricted areas”, largely by the coast. The ‘Trading with the Enemy Act’ was then passed in September 1914, and hit many German-run businesses.

 

SLIDES 44 & 45: SPY FEVER

Hostility to ‘aliens’/foreigners increases. They were accused of being unclean, dishonest & taking jobs/undercutting wages. The ‘British Brothers League’ was founded in London’s East End in 1901 to oppose mainly Jews from Eastern Europe. Fear of so-called ‘pauper aliens’ had led to the 1905 Aliens Act. Anglo-German diplomatic rivalry of the Edwardian years led to paranoia that all Germans were working for the Kaiser in preparation for a German invasion. This suspicion attracted the name ‘Spy Fever’. A contemporary newspaper reported:

[45] At Newcastle yesterday morning: Frederick Sukowski (26) was charged with being a suspected person under the Official Secrets Act and was remanded. It was stated that he had been found in the neighbourhood of the principal Tyne shipyards and had in his possession two measuring gauges, foot rules, and map of Great Britain, giving railroad and other measurements.

He was conveyed to the police barracks, where he said he was an Englishman & an undergraduate of Oxford. He had in his possession many valuable sketches, & his replies not being considered satisfactory he was kept in custody, & will be brought before the Petty Sessions.

Another noted: ‘A German was arrested on the Cotton Powder Company’s works at Faversham, and taken to the police station. The police refuse all information about him.’ In his autobiography A Sort of Life (1972), the writer Graham Greene notes:

There were dramatic incidents even in Beckhamstead. A German master was denounced to my father as a spy because he had been seen under the railway bridge without a hat, a dachshund was stoned in the High Street, and once my uncle Eppy was summoned at night to the police station and asked to lend his motor car to help block the Great North Road down which a German armoured car was said to be advancing towards London.’

 

SLIDES 46 & 47: GOVERNESSES AS SPIES

[46] Princess Victoria’s German governess Baroness Lehzen had led to an influx of German governesses & teachers into England to teach in schools or private homes. A Verein deutscher Lehrerinnen in England was founded in 1876 to offer advice & assistance. By the beginning of the 20th century it was common & fashionable for upper-class families to employ a ‘Fräulein’ to help educate their daughters, despite rising anti-German sentiment.

They fell under particular suspicion re. spying on outbreak of war. In 1916, the Prime Minister of New Zealand specifically mentioned governesses, alongside waiters and clerks, as Germans employed in Britain who had used their position to collect information which was ‘promptly conveyed to Berlin.’ Even the British Prime Minister was suspected of harbouring a spy in the form of his children’s long-serving governess Anna Heinsius.

[47] A popular example of the ‘governess as spy’ theme was the play The Man who stayed at Home (1914). Set in a seaside hotel, the languid & flippant British secret agent hero is a spy-catcher. ‘Fräulein Schroeder’ is: ‘a tall, angular and unattractive spinster with a dictatorial manner and entirely unsympathetic soul.’ Schroeder is in cahoots with the hotel’s owner, ‘Mrs Sanderson’ (German widow of an Englishman), her ‘son’ Carl (actually ‘Herr von Mantel, son of General von Mantel, and paid spy of the German Government’) and the waiter ‘Fritz’ (who, despite a thick stage-German accent, manages to convince everyone that he is Dutch).

All of them are spies in the service of their ‘Imperial Master’ in Berlin. The play had a long run in London, was filmed twice (1915 and 1919) & adapted as a novel (1915).

 

SLIDES 48 & 49: ANTI-GERMAN CARTOONS

By 1915, satirists and cartoonists including boy’s comics served to reinforce the image of the German as bumptious, officious and treacherous. Children’s comic The Magnet blazed on its cover: ‘Boys Friend is running a gigantic anti-German league for British boys & girls. Enlist to-day & crush Germany!’

 

SLIDES 50 & 51: SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA, 1915

[50] In April 1915, The Imperial German Embassy placed a warning appeared in the New York Times under an advert for the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania’s (sister ship to the Titanic) voyage to Liverpool. It declared that a state of war existed between Germany & her allies, and Great Britain & her allies. Any ships sailing in the waters adjacent to the British Isles were therefore, ‘liable to destruction in those waters’ and that passengers were travelling ‘at their own risk’.

In February the German navy had declared that there was to be a U-boat blockade around Great Britain and Ireland and that any allied vessel would be sunk without warning. Lusitania left New York at noon on 1st May 1915 on route to Liverpool. Mr. Charles Sumner, the general manager of the Cunard Company commented:

The truth is, that the Lusitania is the safest boat on the sea. She is too fast for any submarine. No German war vessel can get her.

[51] On 7th May 1915, a German U-boat U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger, was patrolling off the southern coast of Ireland when it spotted the Lusitania. At 14:10 it fired a single torpedo which hit starboard, directly behind the bridge. 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard died. It was a key moment in WW1 & in the turning point in Anglo-German relations.

In the same week, a Zeppelin raid struck Southend & Germany’s first use of poison gas was reported from the Western Front trenches. London was gripped by fear. An article in The Times on 13th May, 1915, referred to ‘the coming German aerial attack’ on London, ‘not an empty threat, but may soon be an extremely vivid reality.’

 

SLIDES 52 & 53: RIOTS, LIVERPOOL, 1915

[52] Liverpool was a cosmopolitan city with many Germans running pork butchers’ businesses. A number of the Lusitania crew were Liverpudlians & as news of the sinking spread, an anti-German backlash began. Feelings were already high following reports of the use of gas on Allied troops and violence broke out in Liverpool with shops having their windows broken and contents ransacked. Violence continued to grow across the city and on the 10th May 2015, the Liverpool Echo reported:

‘Many of the shops on all parts of the city have been more or less wrecked. It was stated in official quarters that over 50 shops, mostly in the pork trade, have been attacked.’

[53] Over the following days riots spread across the country, including Manchester, London and further afield to Johannesburg. The Liverpool Echo reported:

A large pork shop at the corner of Smithdown Road and Arundel Avenue had been absolutely wrecked, all the windows had been smashed and the stock commandeered or thrown into the street. Women hurled strings of sausages at one another and one woman from a neighbouring street went down on her knees and scrubbed the pavement with a joint of pork. Other women went home with their aprons full of pork and bacon. After sacking the shops, the invaders went into the living room upstairs and spread destruction …….200 businesses were destroyed.

 

SLIDES 54 & 55: RIOTS – MANCHESTER, SALFORD, SHEFFIELD, 1915

[54] In Ancoats the windows of every house in one street were smashed…just because it was called ‘Germany St.’…it changed its name to Radium St…

[55] It had become clear that the crowd were not particularly concerned to attack only German businesses, & were more interested in clearing pork butchers of their stock: “One man coolly attempted to march past a police inspector with a flitch of bacon over his shoulder & when asked where he was taking it he laconically remarked, “Home.” He was advised to deposit his flitch at the Attercliffe Police Station, and this he did, leaving also his name and address.

Yorkshire Telegraph & Star, 14 May 1915

Another group of women, “who had possessed themselves of bunches of black pudding & polony, politely requested a Press photographer to take a snapshot of them, which he obligingly did.”

Yorkshire Telegraph & Star, 14 May 1915

 

SLIDES 56 – 60: ANTI-GERMAN RIOTS LONDON, 1915

[56] ‘Germanophobia‘ spread throughout the country. The Guardian reported on 13th May 1915:

Although starting later, London managed to compress into the space of twenty-four hours so much destruction and violence as were spread over four or five days in Lancashire. Indeed, as far as personal violence is concerned, yesterday’s outbreak in London was vastly more serious than anything that has occurred in the North.

Some Germans were pursued into their homes by the mob and pitched through the windows into the street, others were ducked in troughs, and others had their clothing stripped off their backs. The police, assisted by special constables, and in some cases by Territorials, did what they could to protect the fleeing aliens, but they were able to do very little owing to the size and ferocity of the crowds.

In London, of the 21 Metropolitan police districts, only two were free from riots. The author DH Lawrence (married to a German) stated: “When I read of the Lusitania … I am mad with rage myself. I would like to kill a million Germans – two million.”

The Guardian 13th May 1915 reported:

The rioting was naturally worse near the docks, for in many of the little streets thereabouts every second butcher’s or baker’s shop is German. The ransacking of one shop in a street near the Custom-house was typical. To begin with a crowd of boys invaded the shop – a baker’s and pastry cook’s – and simply fell upon all the eatables within reach. The German occupants at once ran away. Terrified Germans who were found hiding under beds, were thrown out into the street, beds and all. A German piano was set up in the street and British patriotic songs were played upon it.

 

SLIDES 61 – 63: OFFICIAL CALLS FOR INTERNMENT

[61] The Guardian reported on 13th May 2015

The Chief Constable of Manchester, Mr R. Peacock, issued orders yesterday for the arrest of all German shopkeepers in the city. About 100 of them were taken in charge during the day. The order, of course, applied only to those Germans who have not been naturalised; to deal with naturalised citizens, special legislation would be necessary.

It went almost without saying that some drastic action would have to be taken in regard to German people in Manchester. The riotous conduct of crowds in different parts of the city on Monday night and Tuesday made it evident that in the interests of the Germans themselves something must promptly be done.

The periodical John Bull, owned and edited by Horatio Bottomley (a disgraced former MP who would later serve time for fraud), launched a vendetta:

‘I call for a vendetta against every German in Britain, whether “naturalised” or not … you cannot naturalise an unnatural beast, a human abortion, a hellish freak. But you can exterminate it. And now the time has come.’

Some Germans (like the Royal Family) had already changed their names. The artist, Georg Kennerknecht, had become George Kenner, but Bottomley sent his reporters out to scour the deed poll records, publishing lists of “assumed” and “real” names.

[62] On the 12th May 1915, Prime Minister Asquith said,

No one can be surprised that the progressive violation by the enemy of the usages of civilised warfare and the rules of humanity, culminating for the moment in the sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ has aroused a feeling of righteous indignation in all classes in this country to which it would be difficult to find a parallel. One result, unhappily, is that innocent and unoffending persons are in danger of being made to pay the penalty of the crimes of others.

On the 13th May 1915, the P.M. announced,

Dealing first with the non-naturalised aliens, there are at this moment 19,000 interned and there are some 40,000 (24,000 men and 16,000 women) at large. We propose that in existing circumstances, prima facie, all adult males of this class should, for their own safety, and that of the community, be segregated and interned, or, if over military age, repatriated.

150 internment camps were established in the UK, including 18 in London.

 

SLIDES 64-67: INTERNMENT CAMPS: HANDFORTH

[64] Handforth camp, near Wilmslow, Cheshire interned ‘aliens’ from the Manchester/Liverpool area in an empty 1861 calico printers. In 1914 it had been the barracks for 2,000 men of the 3rd & 4th Battalions of the Manchester Regiment. Upon outbreak of hostilities he War Office decided it should be used as a “Concentration Prison” for enemy aliens. The first 500 German prisoners, initially civilians, arrived in Handforth early in November 1914.

By the end of November, there were over 1,500, including 573 Germans from the German colony in East Africa. By April 1915, there were over 2,000 prisoners including the crew of the battleship SMS Blücher. This resulted in Handforth district having more German than British inhabitants. Prisoners helped on local farms & collected mail from the post office (under guard). When German soldiers captured from the front line started to arrive, crowds gathered at the railway station. The Manchester Evening News reported on 17th March 1915:

Great excitement prevailed at Handforth & Wilmslow today when it became generally known that about 600 German prisoners taken during heavy fighting in the North of France were expected to arrive for internment at the concentration camp.

[65] By 1916 there were 2,713 prisoners at Handforth, all Germans. 2,399 military prisoners, 313 naval prisoners, and one civilian. Prisoners were paid to make shoes, tailor, carpenter & garden. The library had 3,000 books. 30 teachers held classes. Patriotic celebrations including Kaiser, Bavaria, Christmas, New Year & Saxony days were allowed. The management of Handforth was by an interned German Feldwebel-Leutnant, who was a member of all the committees.

[66] Escape attempts were a frequent, yet with detailed descriptions published in local newspapers escapees were soon recaptured. Nearly 20,000 passed through the camp during its wartime operation.

More than 20 men died in the camp, the majority from the Spanish Flu epidemic. They were buried in Wilmslow Cemetery and later reburied in the German Cemetery at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. A 1916 inspection noted:

There was no criticism of any kind to be made of this camp, and everything was found in excellent condition. The German Feldwebel-Leutnant, who has charge of the running and care of the camp seems to have the confidence of the men, who all appeared to be in excellent physical, mental, and moral condition. The site is now a housing estate.

 

SLIDES 67: KNOCKALOE INTERNMENT CAMP & JOSEPH PILATES

The Knockaloe internment camp, Isle of Man, opened in 1914 to hold 5,000 enemy aliens who were of military age, but the government ordered that the camp be extended to accommodate another 5,000.

Pilates (b.1883) came from a poor family in München-Gladbach in Prussia, son of a metalworker who was also a gymnast. His mother had an interest in natural medicines & naturopathy. Joseph’s father took him to his local sports club that offered distance running, marching & wrestling. Here he learnt boxing which had been illegal in Germany, unlike in Britain, and so it was a largely unpractised sport. It focussed on strengthening mind & spirit in harmony with the body, principles which Pilates later focussed on in his own exercise system.

By early 1914, a widowed Pilates arrived in Britain, settling in London & working in a sanatorium. He also taught boxing & fought competitively, London being a centre for the sport. He taught body building to the police & the art of self-defence to detectives. As ‘Germanophobia’ grew, it became difficult for Germans to find conventional work. Pilates found work as a performer in a circus. It was when he was making a living as a boxer and a circus tumbler he began developing a series of exercises to relax him.

By the outbreak of WW1 he was with a circus in Blackpool. In August 1914, 30 year old Pilates was one of the 1st enemy aliens to be interned. He was sent to Sandhurst for questioning to internment in Jersey, then to internment at Lancaster temporary internment camp in a derelict former waggon works, before his main internment at Knockaloe. By the time Joseph arrived there were over 16,000 internees and a German “home” and culture, including physical culture, had been established.

 

SLIDES 68 & 69: CONTROLOGY, BOXING & TURNEN AT KNOCKALOE

[68] The Knockaloe Camp 4 internal newspaper, Lager Zeitung (Jan 1917) noted that Pilates was involved in supervising sport at Knockaloe. He was the referee at a 10 round boxing match in which one contestant, Seiffert, went down in the 8th round. Pilates worked in the hospital & devised machines to help rehabilitate disabled internees designing chairs, beds & exercise equipment. He took the springs from the beds and attached them to the top and bottom of the beds to provide resistance to assist in the exercises.

[69] The principles of Contrology were revealed to him when he watched his fellow-prisoners sink into apathy and despair. He noticed how the camp cats, though thin, were lithe and active and studied how they stretched their muscles. Pilates researched anatomy, sport & medicine in the camp library and devised a series of exercises which the fellow inmates practised. They ended the war in better shape than when it started, and when the great influenza epidemic came not one of them came down with it. Once free, Pilates went to the USA, opening a gym and propagating the ‘Pilates’ system.

 

SLIDES 70 & 71: INTERNEE CARL BERNARD BARTELS & THE LIVER BIRDS

[70] A notable inmate at both Knockaloe and Handforth camps was the German Carl Bernard Bartels (1866-1955) sculptor of the Liver Birds. Son of a wood carver from the Black Forest & one himself. After marrying he decided to move to London permanently in 1887 & became a naturalised Briton. Carl gained acclaim as a sculptor and woodworker & won a competition to design 2 birds for the twin clock towers of the Royal Liver Building, Liverpool (designed by architect Walter Aubrey Thomas).

Bartels’ designs were brought to life by the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, and the 5½ metre copper sculptures were placed in their current location in 1912 after the completion of the building in 1911. The statues themselves are 5.5 metres (18 feet) tall and each one holds an intricately designed sprig of seaweed in its mouth.

[71] The Liver bird has been associated with Liverpool for at least 650 years. The 1st known reference to the bird by name is dated back to 1668, associated with a ceremonial mace presented to the town by the Earl of Derby. Documents show that the mace was decorated with a “leaver” bird. Changes in spoken and written language have resulted in “leaver” being changed to “Liver”.

Some historians believe that early representations of the bird were supposed to show an eagle, because of King John’s association with the bird. King John had granted the town’s charter, but other 17thc representations suggest that it may be a cormorant. Cormorants would have been familiar to all sea-faring families, as there was still a large cormorant population off of the coast of Liverpool at this time.

Bartels’ birds are half eagle & half cormorant. The Liver Building itself was ground-breaking in its use of reinforced concrete & was Europe’s first skyscraper. It was the tallest building in Europe from 1911 to 1932.

Carl Bernard Bartels was arrested in May 1915 at the height of anti-German feeling during WW1 & imprisoned first at Handforth then by the end of 1915, at Knockaloe where he remained for duration of war after which he was forcibly repatriated to Germany, separated from his wife, children and the home in London where they had lived for 20 years.

His plans and blueprints for the birds were destroyed and his identity as their creator largely forgotten. An employer eventually vouched for him & he was able to return to the UK. He continued carving, producing work for stately homes and Durham Cathedral. In WWII he worked on artificial limbs for the maimed. Bartels was eventually ‘rehabilitated’ during Liverpool’s City of Culture year and has now been belatedly recognised.

 

SLIDE 72: GOVERNMENT IN CRISIS 1915-16

The war was going badly for Britain and Liberal P.M. Herbert Asquith (1908-1916) was forced into forming a coalition government on 7 May 1915 after a munitions shortages crisis. The situation worsened with the failure of the Dardanelles expedition and a continuing stalemate on the Western Front putting increasing pressure on the prime minister. 1916 brought the Easter Rising in Dublin and the disastrous Battle of the Somme (420,000 British, 500,000 German & 200,000 French casualties between July & Nov).

Conscription was introduced but Asquith was blamed in the press for military failures. In December 1916, Asquith resigned & was replaced by Lloyd George who had been plotting against him. The country’s morale was low, people were jittery yet keen for distraction with a press primed to supply gossip & propaganda.

 

SLIDE 73: NOEL PEMBERTON BILLING

Billing was a man of his time & the ensuing case illustrates the extent of hypocrisy, paranoia xenophobia & public thirst for distracting ‘fake news’ by the end year of the war. At 13 Billing set fire to his headmaster’s office & ran away from home, worked his passage on a ship to South Africa & worked as a manual labourer until able to enlist in the mounted police force, where he was a talented boxer. He entered the British Army at 18 to fight in the Boer War. Wounded twice & invalided out of the army in 1901.

In 1903 returned to England & opened a garage in South London then in 1908 an aerodrome in Farnbridge. This funded his experiments in building aeroplanes. In 1909 he founded an aeronautical periodical called Aerocraft & set up his own aircraft company. By 1913 he had enough capital to found a yard on Southampton Water, where he pioneered the construction of flying boats (supermarines) His company gained a reputation for producing planes that looked amazing, but flew terribly. He sold the ‘Supermarine’ company (that later went on to develop the ‘Spitfire’ fighter plane.) & joined the Royal Navy Air Service.

 

SLIDES 74 ~ 77: URNINGS, BOLOISM, THE BLACK BOOK & UNSEEN HAND.

[74] Billing left the RNAS in 1916 & became the independent MP for East Hertfordshire. Drove a lemon-yellow Rolls Royce & expressed a preference for “fast aircraft, fast speed-boats, fast cars and fast women”. He also campaigned for a unified air service, helped force the government to establish an air inquiry, and advocated reprisal raids against German cities. He also became adept at exploiting a variety of popular discontents. Despite the fact that his wife was half-German, he advocated the deportation of aliens in case they were spying on the country.

He founded ‘The Imperialist journal, part-funded by Lord Beaverbrook (owner of the Daily Express) & claimed that there was a secret society called the Unseen Hand, a pro-German ‘confederacy of evil men’ – taking orders from Berlin & dedicated to the downfall of Britain by subversion of the military, Cabinet, Civil Service & the City, using ‘spiritualists, whores & homosexuals’ as their conduits.

He opposed the Russian Revolution, fearing that Bolsheviks would force through a peace deal between Britain and Germany. ‘Boloists’ (Communists) were funding this. In 1917, journalist Arnold White (author of ‘The Hidden Hand’) wrote in ‘The Imperialist’ that Germany was controlled by ‘Urnings’ (homosexuals) who were ‘systematically seducing young British soldiers’, thus urging internment of all Germans:

When the blond beast is an urning, he commands the urnings in other lands. They are moles. They burrow. They plot. They are hardest at work when they are most silent.

[75] In Jan 1918, Billing published an ‘Imperialist’ article that publicised the existence of the ‘Berlin Black Book’:

There exists in the Cabinet Noir of a certain German Prince a book compiled by the Secret Service from reports of German agents who have infested this country for the past twenty years, agents so vile and spreading such debauchery and such lasciviousness as only German minds can conceive and only German bodies execute.

He claimed that the book held 47,000 names of perverts being blackmailed by Germans including: ‘Privy Councillors, youths of the chorus, wives of Cabinet Ministers, dancing girls, even Cabinet Ministers themselves, while diplomats, poets, bankers, editors, newspaper proprietors, members of His Majesty’s Household’ who were being ‘held in enemy bondage’.

In Feb 1918 he changed the magazine’s name to ‘The Vigilante’ & with Henry White founded ‘The Vigilante Society’ with the “object of promoting purity in public life”. They published an anti-German and anti-Semitic article stating the Unseen Hand was plotting to spread venereal disease:

The German, through his efficient and clever agent, the Ashkenazim, has complete control of the White Slave Traffic. Germany has found that diseased women cause more casualties than bullets. Controlled by their Jew-agents, Germany maintains in Britain a self-supporting – even profit-making – army of prostitutes which put more men out of action than does their army of soldiers.

 

SLIDE 76: MAUDE ALLEN

Canadian Beulah Maude Durrant’s brother Theodore: “The Demon of the Belfry”, was charged with the murders of 2 women in San- Francisco in 1895 & was executed in 1898. As a result Maude changed her name to Maude Allan.

In 1900 she published an illustrated sex manual for women & began to dance professionally. Inspired by ‘Salomé’ (by Oscar Wilde) & the emerging ‘aesthetic’ dance movement, she created ‘Vision of Salomé’. Its first production was in Vienna in 1906 but her career took off in Berlin & Munich. She also posed for the symbolist painter Franz von Stuck as Salome in 1906.

Her ‘Dance of the 7 Veils’ was controversial. She promoted her career by publishing her autobiography, ‘My Life & Dancing’ (1908), the year she took her production of ‘Vision of Salomé’ to England. On the 8th June 1908 the New York Times noted:   “Miss Maud Allan, the barefooted and otherwise scantily clad dancer, in whose favor a very profitable boom has been worked up in London …has been warned off the stage in Manchester, which is the most important theatrical city in England outside of the capital.”

 

SLIDES 77 & 78: ‘CULT OF THE CLITORIS’ & THE ‘TRIAL OF THE CENTURY.

[77] In Feb 1918 (the same month as Billing’s Vigilante article), at the age of 44 & her career in the doldrums, Maude was commissioned to perform two private performances of Salomé in London (the Lord Chancellor had deemed it blasphemous & banned public performances). Only a few months before, another celebrated free dancer, Marta Hari, who had also used the Salomé myth, had been shot by the French on trumped-up charges of spying for the Germans.

Billing heard rumours of Allan’s lesbianism (true) & that she was having an affair with Margot, the wife of former P.M. Asquith (false). On 16 Feb, 1918, the front page of Vigilante featured Harold S Spencer’s article: “The Cult of the Clitoris “proclaiming the lesbian ‘affair’ & accusing Margot & Herbert Asquith and Allan of being members of the ‘Unseen Hand’ & at the centre of a German-funded conspiracy to enlist the wives of powerful men into this cult.

[78] Allan sued for libel. P.M Lloyd George hired Eileen Villiers-Stewart (a former mistress of Asquith’s Chief Whip) as an agent-provocateur to lure Billing to a male brothel to be photographed for blackmail. However she told him of the plot & eventually committed perjury during the May Old Bailey trial testifying for Billing. He had ensured that the public gallery was packed with wounded soldiers from the front to remind his audience of the sacrifices made by British youth.

Villiers-Stewart stated that she had seen the Black Book and the names in it. She accused the presiding judge Chief Justice Charles Darling of being included. Another witness Harold Spencer claimed that Alice Keppel, the mistress of Edward VII was in the Black Book & a member of the Unseen Hand, visiting Holland as a go-between in covert peace talks with Germany.

Billing noted that homosexuality was a foreign and in this case, specifically ‘German’ vice highlighting the pre-war Eulenberg affair and the contemporary writing of German sexologist Richard von Kraft Ebing. Even Wilde was denounced as ‘Irish’, ergo foreign.

Alfred Douglas (Wilde’s erstwhile lover ‘Bosie’), was called to give evidence for the defence & used the trial to attack Wilde and his legacy: “I think [Wilde] had a diabolical influence on everyone he met,” Douglas told the court. “I think he is the greatest force of evil that has appeared in Europe in the last 350 years.”

The ‘trial of the century’ was a sensation, extensively covered in Lord Northcliffe’s Times, Daily Mail and London Evening News. On 4th June, 1918, Billing was acquitted of all charges to much public jubilation.

 

SLIDES 79 & 80: END OF THE NATION OF POETS & THINKERS

Johann Musäus‘s 18thc description of Germany as the ‚Volk der Dichter und Denker (poets & thinkers) had been parodied by the Austrian satirist Karl Kraus as ‘Die Deutschen – das Volk der Richter und Henker’ (The Germans: the nation of Judges and Executioners). The trope of ‚cultural‘ Germany was targeted extensively by cartoonists & satirists.

 

SLIDE 81: WW1 REPARATION PAYMENTS/LOANS – THE LONG SHADOW

GERMANY made its last reparations payment for World War I on Oct. 3, 2010 settling its debt from the 1919 Versailles Treaty 92 years after the country’s defeat. The reparations bankrupted Germany in the 1920s and the fledgling Nazi party seized on the resulting public resentment against the terms of the Versailles Treaty. The sum was initially set at 269 billion gold marks, around 96,000 tons of gold, before being reduced to 112 billion gold marks by 1929, payable over a period of 59 years.

Germany suspended annual payments in 1931 during the global financial crisis and Hitler declined to resume them when he came to power in 1933. In 1953, West Germany agreed to service its international bond obligations. After the Berlin Wall fell and West and East Germany united in 1990, the country paid the interest off in annual instalments, the last of which became due on Oct. 3 2010.

BRITAIN. The government paid the outstanding £1.9bn of debt from a 3.5% War Loan on 9 March 2015 including £218m of debts from World War One. More than 120,000 investors hold War Loan bonds issued by then Chancellor Neville Chamberlain in 1932, the War Loan was used to refinance government debt accumulated during World War One. It replaced an earlier bond which paid 5% to investors. It is the first time the government has paid off a bond of this kind in 67 years.

The Debt Management Office estimates the government has paid about £5.5bn in total interest on the 5% and 3.5% war loans respectively since 1917. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover announced a one-year moratorium on war loan repayments from all nations, due to the global economic crisis, but by 1934 Britain still owed the US $4.4bn of World War I debt (about £866m at 1934 exchange rates).

Germany therefore paid all its war debts 5 years before Great Britain.

 

SLIDE 82: FILM ‘HIGH TREASON’ (1929)

Despite his political career being over after the Maude Allen fiasco, Noel Billing penned a febrile play High Treason in 1927 which was filmed in 1929 (subtitled “The Peace Picture”). One of the first British talkies & designed to be shown both with and without sound. It is set sometime after 1939, and features proto-fascist uniforms, futuristic London cityscapes, & strange Billing-type aircraft. It narrates the outbreak of a 2nd World War in the 1940s between Europe and America orchestrated by a sinister cabal of arms dealers who find global peace cutting into their profits.

 

SLIDES 83 & 84: Humbert Wolfe: Truffle Eater Book (1933)

In the First World War, the ‘Bradford poet’ Humbert Wolfe was responsible in Whitehall for the organisation of the supply and regulation of labour in the Ministry of Munitions. By the 1920s & 30s, he had become the best-selling poet of the decade & in 1931 was in the running for Poet Laureate. He published over 40 books of his own poetry and prose, 10 books of literary criticism, and numerous anthologies and literary translations.

Stephen Fry described Wolfe’s poetry as `one of England’s forgotten splendours’: `He has long and wrongly been forgotten…a writer of wit, warmth, satirical genius, blissful eccentricity and charm’ (Guardian 7.4.1999). His poems, e.g. Requiem: The Soldier (1916), are read at Remembrance Sunday events & the first half of this poem was the epigraph to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. Wolfe’s verses were also set to music by a number of composers, including Gustav Holst in his 12 Humbert Wolfe Settings, Op. 48 (1929).

In 1933, he used the much-loved format of Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter, to publish a virulent attack on the emerging regime in Germany under the pseudonym Oistros. ‘Truffle Eater. Pretty Stories and Funny Pictures’ was published in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. It is the earliest anti-Hitler comic book of its kind to ridicule the German dictator. It was vicious & very prescient.

The book follows the events in 1933, including the burning of the Reichstag in February. It also covers the infamous book-burnings, increasing anti-Semitic activities in Germany, & is an acute observation of the sudden changes following Hitler becoming Chancellor. Finally, Wolfe/’Oistros’ refers back to Kaiser Wilhelm II and predicts (6 years before WWII) that Europe will suffer a similar fate under Germany ruled by Hitler: i.e. war & destruction.

 

SLIDE 85: Noël Peirce Coward, Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans (1943)

Written in the spring of 1943 and recorded on July 2 that year, it was a personal favourite of Winston Churchill. Coward said Churchill made him play it no less than seven times in one evening. After the War, Coward explained that he had written it: “as a satire directed against a small minority of excessive humanitarians, who, in my opinion, were taking a rather too tolerant view of our enemies”.

Unfortunately, some people didn’t realize that at the time, and thought it was pro-German; he received a sackful of abusive letters, and the BBC and His Master’s Voice flew into a panic. The latter suppressed it for three months, the former banned it from airplay, although it was played once, and Coward became the first person to use the word “bloody” over the air.

 

SLIDE 86 ~ OLD TROPES NEVER DIE

The German-American intellectual Leo Strauss first formulated the idea of “reduction ad Hitlerum,” noting that one could discredit the arguments of one’s opponent by associating them with Hitler (Dufour, 2012). Mangan (cited Hand, 2000) however, notes the importance of warfare in British culture and asserts that: ‘War, symbolised in the metaphors of war used so widely and so frequently, is deeply embedded in our institutions, thinking and recreations’. He also draws parallels in the British culture of a century or so ago between the qualities demanded of the colonial soldier and the virtues acquired through sport.

In the semi-final of Euro 96 against Germany for example, England were ‘Gallant’ and played ‘combative football’ (The Times, 27 June 96) with McManaman being: ‘the flag bearer of [their] assaults’. In 1966, Nobby Stiles and Jackie Charlton stated they would: ‘take no prisoners’ in the World Cup tournament.

50 years ago (Britain marked the 50th anniversary of the Somme in 1966 just seven days before the West German squad arrived at their training camp in Ashbourne in Derbyshire), this phrase would: ‘still have carried memories of the fog of war in which unspeakable acts of brutality took place in the immediate aftermath of enemy soldiers surrendering’ (Poole, 2016). Hand, in his detailed article on militaristic language in football journalism (2000) lists some examples of the genre:

Players representing ‘the mighty Germany’ (Times, 24.6.96; 1.7.96) make ‘sorties’ (Times, 20.6.96) and ‘forays’ (Times, 25.6.96); they lead ‘the battle on two fronts’ (ibid.) and are suspected of preparing an ‘ambush’ (ibid.) for their opponents. Collectively, they ‘regroup’ (Times, 3.6.96; 20.6.96), ‘march on’ (Times, 20.6.96) and ensure their defence is ‘a hostile zone’ (ibid.).

In one game, ‘Germany were the first to advance, pressing the Czechs back with eight men garrisoned around their penalty box’ (Times, 29.6.96). Ultimately, their striker, Klinsmann, ‘the blond bomber’ will help them ‘to conquer Europe’ (Times, 3.6.96).

The stereotype of Germany in the British press is based on three characteristics: strength, efficiency, and self-belief (Hand, 2000). References to warfare are probably much more extensively made when describing Germany than any other team and serve to reinforce the belligerent image of Germans.

‘Efficiency’ tropes also abound which Hand attributes to the post-war German ‘economic miracle’. One can, ‘always rely on Germany’ (Times, 10.6.96), whose ‘traditional efficiency should win them the title’ (Times, 27.6.96), because Germany ‘is a tournament machine’ (Times, 2.7.96). Re. the game against Russia: ‘Germany went about their business in the usual systematic way’ and the German team as a whole: ‘typically looks as if it was manufactured in a factory by Porsche’ (Times, 17.6.96).

The notion of German self-belief is also perpetuated by British football writing. One of the reasons Germany won the tournament was their: ‘belief, bordering on arrogant self-assertion that binds [them] again and again’ (Times, 2.7.96). Klinsmann, was singled out as: ‘No one exemplifies [the German approach] more admirably’ with his ‘unremitting competitiveness …, toughness of attitude’ and ‘battler’s mentality’ (Times, 20.6.96).

Regarding the Mirror 1996 headline with Gascoigne and Scholes in tin helmets. A correspondent from England wrote to the broadsheet Süddeutsche Zeitung apologising for the Mirror’s behaviour. The Süddeutsche Zeitung however, sided with the Mirror, accepting that ‘Kraut-bashing’ is a British national pastime, like cricket, greyhound racing, darts and bingo.

The Mirror’s contribution was seen as a piece of satire, an example of the British sense of humour, which, according to Germany’s manager, Vogts, the Germans ‘know well’ (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 26.6.96). Hand (2000) posits that: ‘It seems the German newspaper enjoys the incorrectness and frivolity of the British press, something which German public discourse is so badly lacking.’

Even before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Irish journalist Conor Cruise O’Brien warned about the coming ‘Fourth Reich’ of German domination in Europe and the French president François Mitterrand warned: “Without a common currency we are . . . already subordinate to the Germans’ will.” More recently, Yanis Varoufakis, commenting on the harsh bailout conditions set on Greece by Berlin, dubbed the arrangement the “new Versailles”, a not very subtle allusion to the punitive peace inflicted on imperial Germany after the First World War.

The sociologist Ulrich Beck (d.2015) dubbed, Chancellor Angela Merkel as a calculating “Merkiavelli”, whose ambition is to “Germanise” Europe (Simms, 2015). Germany’s Stern magazine in its edition of 17.7. 2015 had a picture of Merkel on its front cover under the headline: ‘The Ice Queen. How Angela Merkel became the most feared woman in Europe.’ The article was headed: ‘Dominatrix (Schmerzdame). Angela Merkel has taught Europe to fear. Once again the Chancellor has saved Greece, albeit on German conditions. And they are hard, perhaps too hard.’

It was widely accepted after WWII that what was needed, as the writer Thomas Mann argued, was not “a German Europe but a European Germany”. The post WWII project of European integration was thus intended to contain Germany by rendering her structurally incapable of and culturally indisposed towards military aggression. However, the European project as now constructed, and especially the currency union, originally designed to contain German power, has increased it, just as the British Eurosceptics warned it would.

Germany is no more to blame for this than anybody else in the Eurozone. The old Holy Roman Empire, lives on in the European Union of today with all its strengths and weaknesses. Instead of anchoring the common currency in joint parliamentary representation and a strong state capable of efficient revenue extraction (as is the case in the United Kingdom and the United States), Berlin is attempting to run it through the acceptance of German “rules” and political culture. Instead of a single foreign policy and military capable of deterring aggressors, there is a perpetual palaver that reminds one of nothing so much as the equivocations of the Holy Roman Empire in the face of Turkish or French threats.

 

SLIDE 87: NOW WHAT?

Approximately 300,000 Germans currently live in Britain. For the first time since the Second World War, there are more Germans (double the number) in Britain than Brits in Germany. German tourists spend almost twice as much time in the UK as vice versa. There are four or five times as many German students studying in British universities than the other way round. In 2014, Thomas Kielinger (London correspondent of ‘Die Welt’) noted:

I find it surprising that the Brits never celebrated newly democratic Germany as a cultural godchild of theirs – a proud monument to the civilising hand that Britain, at the best of times, is heir to. Instead, for far too long the Nazi era was allowed to overshadow the positive approach the British pioneers on the ground had worked for and established after 1945.

The millennium has heralded some signs for optimism. Books including Ben Donald’s Springtime for Germany or How I Learned to Love Lederhosen (2007); Simon Winder’s Germania (2010); Philip Oltermann’s Keeping up with the Germans (2012) present Germany in a more positive light however, ongoing tensions within the EU and with Brexit negotiations have ensured that there is some way to go before popular perceptions will ever move away from the Nazi as the defining characteristic of the German persona (Kielinger, 2014).

It might be too late for the older generation but the key concern lies within schools and education, specifically the teaching of history and languages. The Qualification and Curriculum Authority report (2005) noted: ‘There has been a gradual narrowing and “Hitlerisation” of post-1914 history’ (Starritt, 2010). Georg Boomgaarden, the former (to 2014) German envoy to London, noted the lack of German being taught in schools (fewer than 5000 students sat German A-Levels this summer).

Entries have halved over the past decade & the subject could be ‘heading for extinction’. Boomgaarden regretted that both Germans and British are both ignorant of their shared common history. Sunday Times journalist India Knight (2018) notes that it is not the business imperative that should motivate the British to learn European languages (English being the lingua franca of commerce) but the whole issue of human interaction with our closest geographical and cultural neighbours: ‘a familiarity with vast cultural riches is being lost as we turn in on ourselves.’ (Knight, 2018).

She also blames the reluctance to engage on a specifically English ‘chipppiness’ and anti-intellectualism which could be moot although one tends to agree with her perceived reaction to seeing someone reading Thomas Mann in the original in a pub (‘rolls eyes’).

 

She concludes:

Culture is nourishment; it opens our eyes to how other people live, feel, think and behave. In this increasingly fractured world, communication is everything. We are so fortunate to have the riches of European culture at our disposal and it is troubling that our young people should detach from them in such depressing numbers. We need, more than ever, people who read Zweig or Kafka, people who can go abroad and talk. We are witnessing the “gaslighting” of European culture, and it’s a tragedy.

Knight, 2018.

 


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