• protesting fascism

    Just a year before Britain declared war on Germany for the second time in the 20th century, Herbert Sulzbach wrote to Neville Chamberlain, to say,

    'Please never forget that the motto of the new German Right is:

    “Recht ist, was Deutschland nützt.

    Unrecht ist, was Deutschland schadet.'

    (Right is what is useful for Germany.

    Wrong is what does damage to Germany.)”'

    At the time, October 1938, Sulzbach was living in Basel, Switzerland. He had no paid employment, having fled the Nazis in Germany and been unable to continue his business in Britain. In Basel he stayed with friends who shared his values and together they worked day and night to fight fascism. As he wrote in a letter to the editor of the SS paper, 'Das Schwarze Korps', the following month,

    'If only you and your seduced people knew what people think of them! It is not hatred, because hatred includes a certain respect – it is boundless, unending contempt.'

    Sulzbach and his friends planned to prepare material to oppose and resist Nazi propaganda. They were concerned that 'ordinary people' in Germany and elsewhere were swayed by the 'blackmail' of their leaders, so they prepared

    'a short booklet in three languages, with slogans about the crimes of the leaders of the Third Reich, to enlighten the people – not the leaders – about this murderous Reich.'

    But events moved too fast for them.

    'The breathless speed of events continues and is simply incomprehensible. Who can uphold the law? It seems to me that all good Europeans, true friends of peace, should come together before it is too late!'

    In furious desparation, Sulzbach wrote countless letters to leaders of Western European countries and America, to editors of newspapers in Switzerland, France and England, and offered himself to serve in the armies of every democratic country in Europe. He could see only too clearly where the fascist policies of Hitler were leading but his counter-propaganda had little impact.

    In June 1939, having spent a year in Basel protesting fascism, he returned to London. Throughout the next few years he never ceased to 'fight Nazism with my mouth.'

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach in Basel, August 1938 ©Yvonne Klemperer; text © Ainslie Hepburn)


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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