Former PM's letter praises Hitler (UK)
A letter written by former prime minister Stanley Baldwin where he pays tribute to Hitler as "a remarkable man" is to go on sale at auction next month.
Baldwin wrote in glowing terms about the German leader to a friend in 1936, talking of his "great achievements", three years before World War II.
The letter, from the MP for Bewdley, Worcestershire, will be auctioned at Ludlow Racecourse, Shropshire.
Baldwin was prime minister three times between 1923 and 1937. He died in 1947.
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Alonzo Hamby - 5/17/2006
The full story, such as it is, leaves a somewhat different impression.
Baldwin was writing privately to an obvious Hitler admirer in 1936. The BBC story does not appear to quote the full letter nor does it name the recepient. The quoted text reads as follows:
"Like you, I acknowledge [Hitler's] great achievements since taking over that troubled country.
"The German people obviously love him, even if that love puts a burden on them both and is not extended to the Jews who are tormented.
"Yes, Herr Hitler is a remarkable man but I feel he must use these gifts wisely or I fear greatly for the consequence."
Sentiments of this sort were common in 1936, the year of the Berlin Olympics, and hardly indicate uncritical admiration. Most of continental Europe was run by authoritarian governments, and it was still possible to believe that the Nazis were just another dictatorial regime.
Finally, it is worth noting that in the wake of Kristallnacht, some two years later, Baldwin was one of the prominent sponsors of a Jewish refugee fund that raised the then-huge sum of half a million pounds for fleeing German Jews.
It is convenient for an auction house to hype such remarks and for a BBC writer to believe that it represents pro-Nazi sentiments widely held by the British upper-crust. But in fact Baldwin was a committed democrat whose core values were much closer to those of Roosevelt than to Hitler.
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