Adolf Hitler 'wanted to use cricket to train troops for war', new book claims
The future leader of Nazi Germany was taught the basics of the game by First World War POWs, BBC broadcaster John Simpson found.
But according to his new book about 20th century reporting, the corporation’s World Affairs Editor discovered the Fuhrer later became frustrated with the game’s complex rules and tried to rewrite the game’s laws.
He had “advocated the withdrawal of the use of pads” because the “artificial bolsters” were “unmanly and un-German”.
His claims are based on a report in the Daily Mirror newspaper that appeared in 1930, during the Nazis’ rise to power and written by Oliver Locker-Lampson, a British right-wing MP and Nazi sympathiser.
According to the decorated war veteran and Hitler admirer, who was the founder of the Sentinels of Empire, a group dedicated to fighting Bolshevism, the Fuhrer thought cricket would be a perfect preparation for war.
“He desired to study it as a possible medium for the training of troops off duty and in times of peace,” Mr Locker-Lampson wrote in his article, under the headline “Adolf Hitler As I Know Him”.
The story, published on September 30, 1930, detailed the Fuhrer’s fateful encounter with cricket seven years earlier.
According to Mr Simpon’s book, titled Unreliable Sources: How the 20th Century was Reported, shortly after the Munich putsch in 1923, Mr Locker-Lampson met several British officers who had been POWs during the First World War.
Hitler, then lance corporal in the German Army, was coincidentally recovering from his wounds in a nearby hospital, The Times reported.
Hitler, twice decorated with the Iron Cross for bravery in World War I, had been wounded twice after he was shot in the groin and temporarily blinded by mustard gas.
“He had come to them one day and asked whether he might watch an eleven of cricket at play so as to become initiated into the mysteries of our national game,” Mr Locker-Lampson wrote.
“They welcomed him, of course, and wrote out the rules for him in the best British sport-loving spirit.”
Hitler then returned with his own team and challenged the British to a “friendly match” although the article fails to say who won the match.
Immediately after the end of the match, Hitler declared the game “insufficiently violent” for German Fascists.
“He had conned over (sic) the laws of cricket, which he considered good enough no doubt for pleasure-loving English people,” wrote Mr Locker-Lampson.
“But he proposed entirely altering them for the serious-minded Teuton.”
There was speculation that due to his contempt of the game, Hitler was dismissed for a “golden duck”, although this has never been confirmed.
Experts say that because the game never caught in Nazi Germany, it was safe to assume that Hitler’s team also lost the match.
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