• Herbert Sulzbach and Dorothy Buxton: a friendship

    In December 1946 Dorothy Buxton wrote an article in 'The Spectator' entitled 'Friends or Enemies' in which she supported German PoW in Britain and criticised aspects of their captivity – particularly,

    'the farce, or fraud as it appears to them, of our "screening". The PoW are unfavourably impressed by the haphazard nature of our methods. The interview which may decide a man's fate, perhaps for years to come, and incidentally that of his family, is often an affair of only three to five minutes.'

    Herbert Sulzbach was a screener in his work as Interpreter Officer at a PoW camp for German Officers and wrote to Dorothy Buxton:

    'No man’s fate is decided by screening because every PoW has to be screened again after six months. The screening is done by men who know the German mentality very well indeed and it is not as difficult as you believe to find out in ten minutes whether the PoW is still Nazi-minded or not. All of us are well aware that millions joined the Nazi Party because they could not avoid it.'

    Thus began a correspondence and friendship that lasted until Dorothy Buxton's death and which enriched both their lives.

    She was born Dorothy Jebb on 3 March 1881 and was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She and her husband, Charles Buxton, belonged first to the Liberal Party and then joined the Labour Party. In 1917 they became Quakers. She was a social activist and a commentator on Germany. During WW2 she campaigned vigorously for refugees from Nazi Germany.

    Both Dorothy Buxton and Herbert Sulzbach were committed to Anglo-German friendship and reconciliation after WW2 and were forthright both with those in England who wanted revenge and retribution – people they called 'the eternal haters' - and with those in Germany who thought of themselves as victims.

    She was delighted for Sulzbach when he was appointed to the German Embassy,

    'Your position there will create one more little bridge of rapprochement and understanding between people of German and of Jewish race.'

    Dorothy Buxton died at her house near Guildford on 8 April 1963.

    (photo: Dorothy Buxton in 1958)

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