1920-1939 | Antisemitism | Appeasing Hitler | Germany


Fellow diners – Archbishop Cosmo Gordon Lang (via Wikimedia) and von Ribbentrop (German Federal Archives – CC BY-SA 3.0 DE – via Wikimedia).

31 May 1933

On 31 May 1933, Cosmo Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in the House of Lords, agreed that it was right to be concerned at the ‘the oppression of members of the Jewish race’ in Germany.  However, he reminded peers that Britain also had to understand the situation from the anti-Semitic point of view of Hitler’s new government, which had only recently consolidated its power over the country. ‘We must make allowances,’ he insisted,  ‘for the heat of revolution and we may even admit that there have been elements in the influence of the Jews in German life which may have irritated their fellow citizens.’1

He also made it clear that in voicing his distaste for the murderous persecution of Jews he didn’t wish to provoke the regime. He was pleased to note that ‘there is no motion on this subject,’ adding, ‘and it is not desirable that there should be.’2 Presumably on the same grounds, as argued in the House of Lords by the Secretary of State for War, Lord Hailsham [29 March 1933], that Berlin would view any such motion as ‘unwarrantable interference.’ Such sentiments might explain why the following year Hitler’s envoy, Joachim von Ribbentrop, after dining with the Archbishop,  noted approvingly that he was ‘a kind of English National Socialist.’3


  1. ‘The Primate Appeals To Germany,’ the Yorkshire Post, 1 June 1933 p. 3.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Andrew Morton,  17 Carnations: The Windsors, the Nazis and the Cover-Up, Michael O’Mara Books Limited, 2015, p. 57,

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