17 MAY


Baden-Powell is commemorated across Britain as a national hero who also inspired the scouting movement. This statue at Poole Quay.
David Dixon – CC BY-SA 2.0 – via Geograph.

[ 17 May 1900 ]

On 17 May 1900, a British army relieved the besieged city of Mafeking during the Second Boer War. It led to street celebrations across Britain and the commander of the besieged garrison, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, became a national hero.  B-P had ruthlessly maintained food stocks for British troops and European settlers by allowing at least 478, according to the official records, and probably over a thousand Africans to die of starvation. Hundreds more, who helped defend the city, were never paid.1


SA militia post a ‘Boycott Jews’ notice on a Berlin shop window – 1933.
Georg Pahl – Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 DE – via Wikimedia.

[ 17 May 1934 ]

Today in 1934, Henry Wilson Harris, editor of the Spectator, published an article recalling his recent visit to Nazi Germany, where he had been impressed by the ‘wholesome family life’ whether you ‘dine in a balcony on Unter den Linden and watch the holiday cavalcades trooping homewards,’ or ‘brush against quiet looking youths in S.A. or S.S. uniforms peacefully wandering among the pictures and statues in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum’ you ‘feel that after all here is a fundamentally decent kindly people, cultivating a wholesome family life, taking healthy pleasures in the main in a healthy way.’  This experience had led him to understand that ‘Hitler is the man who has lifted Germany out of the valley of humiliation and made the world respect her again,’ and he concluded that ‘it may be the best thing for all concerned that he should stay where he is.’2


[ 17 May 2002 ]

On 17 May 2002, an MI5 officer interviewed a British resident being held incommunicado and without any access to any legal representation in Pakistan. Binyam Mohamed had been arrested a month earlier on 10 April at Karachi airport, as he was about to board a flight to Britain, for a visa violation. 


  1. Peter Warwick, Black People and the South African War, 1899-1902, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1983, p. 37, Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Jonathan Cape, London p. 220 and ‘Remembering the Boer War’s Black Victims,’  BBC News 12 October 1999 accessed online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/469216.stm
  2. Henry Wilson Harris, ‘German Impressions,’ The Spectator, 17 May 1934, pp. 7-8 accessed online on 4 August 2017 in The Spectator Archives at http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/18th-may-1934/7/german-impressions

Please feel welcome to post comments below.  If you have any questions please email alisdare@gmail.com

© 2020 Alisdare Hickson All rights reserved

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