MI5 indifferent to murder incitement at London Nazi HQ

Two of the prominent Germans targeted for assassination in London. Former Chancellor Philip Scheidemann (photo via Wikimedia) and Jewish Professor Georg Bernhard (photo via the Bundesarchiv and Wikimedia.)

14 September 1933

Today in 1933, the Daily Herald carried a report headlined ‘Murder Incitement in London Nazi Club.’  The newspaper revealed how a notice at London’s Nazi Party headquarters had displayed the photographs of thirty three prominent anti-Nazi German exiles, deemed ‘outlaws,’ with the instructions ‘if you meet one of these men kill him. And if he is a Jew then break every bone in his body.’1 Those listed included Philipp Scheidemann, the first Chancellor of the German Weimar Republic, Heinrich Mann, ex-president of the Prussian Academy of Literature and the Jewish professor Georg Bernhard, formerly editor of the Vossische Zeitung. The Herald did not mention the address of the Nazi club which was then located at the Park Gate Hotel on Stanhope Terrace, less than a five minute walk from Oxford Street.

The author of the poster, a certain Erich Dinse, later spent four weeks in a German concentration camp as a punishment for his indiscretion in posting a notice in a location where anyone might see it. The Nazi authorities however need not have worried unduly as neither the security services nor the police took any action to interfere with or close down the group’s activities.  MI5 did briefly monitor meetings, but reported on them favourably to the Foreign Office, noting that ‘they were entirely confined to Germans’ and that ‘no outward propaganda was going on.’2

Five days after the original article, the Daily Herald published a letter to the editor commenting that ‘if the law will not take action over such a serious matter, then Nazis will think they are privileged to say and do what they like, irrespective of what is lawful decent and moral. What would have happened if socialists had been foolish enough to advocate such an illegal act ?’3  Although it was less than nine months since Hitler had become chancellor of Germany, the policy of appeasement, of not wanting to take any action that might upset the Third Reich, appears to have been already well established.

FOOTNOTES

  1. ‘Murder Incitement in London Nazi Club,’ The Daily Herald, 14 September 1933, p. 1 accessed online in the British Newspaper Archive on 26 November 2018.
  2. James J. Barnes and Patience P. Barnes, Nazis in Pre-War London, 1930-39: The fate and role of German party members and British sympathizers, Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 2010 pp. 32-35.
  3. ‘This Morning’s Postbag,’ The Daily Herald, 19 September 1933, p. 8.

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© 2020 Alisdare Hickson All rights reserved

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