None ever called Neville Chamberlain a Nazi. Why not?
Was Chamberlain, the ‘appeaser,’ really foolish and cowardly?
He controlled the media and loved Hitler.
Might ‘appeasement’ really be sponsorship?
“… the views of … Chamberlain … differed little in ideological content from … [those] of … Nazi leaders.”—Richard Cockett (1989)
Back when the British Empire was the greatest power ever seen, and during the key geopolitical juncture—the runup to World War II—that would seal everyone’s fate, Neville Chamberlain occupied important offices, and, in the critical years, served as prime minister. Without exaggeration, Chamberlain was a great architect of the 20th century, for his policies greatly assisted the propaganda and war aims of the German Nazis.
Yet I never heard anyone accuse Neville Chamberlain of being a Nazi. Not when I was first told about World War II in grade school. Not when we covered it in middle and high school. Not when I studied WWII at the university level.
I am not saying my teachers defended Chamberlain—quite to the contrary. And in order to trash him, which they did, they really built up the drama.
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, my teachers explained, meant to sink the entire world into darkness—destroy all democracy, divide us into antagonistic races, enslave or kill everyone who didn’t agree with him (and many who did), enslave everyone who wasn’t ‘Aryan,’ and exterminate ‘subhumans,’ especially Jews.
He was Sauron. Except that Hitler was real—on Earth, not Middle Earth.
So Neville Chamberlain had the most important job in all of history. It fell to him to confront Hitler. And Chamberlain flunked. His policies—which are commonly judged, in retrospect, as defying all reason—allowed the German criminal easily to romp over Europe and capture it whole almost without a fight.
Why would Chamberlain do that? Not because he was pro-Nazi. Certainly not. My teachers never said anything remotely like that. Which makes sense, because my teachers taught from history textbooks that never make that accusation.
Mind you, I am not saying the books give him a pass!
The books are tough on Chamberlain. They present him as a fool who, by granting every next thing the madman demanded, meant to satisfy Hitler and thus, supposedly, to avoid war. Historians portray these moves as Chamberlain’s attempts to ‘appease’ Adolf Hitler. But this ‘appeasement’ managed only to whet Hitler’s appetite and weaken the strategic defense of Europe. Chamberlain, who could have saved many millions of lives, doomed the entire planet to history’s most devastating war.
Yes, the history books do brim with somber deconstructions of Neville Chamberlain’s pathetic vision and strategic skills. Even the charitable appraisals are devastating.
To wit, according to Winston Churchill, Chamberlain’s hopes “ ‘were surely among the most noble and benevolent instincts of the human heart—the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace,’ ” but, Alas!, this fanatical peace lover was “ ‘deceived and cheated by a wicked man.’ ”1 Remarkable. In order to ‘defend’ Chamberlain one must reduce him to an innocent, trusting, abused child!
Similarly, A.J.P. Taylor, in his vastly influential The Origins of the Second World War, writes that not-ready-for-prime-time Chamberlain was “baffled” by Mussolini and Hitler. And so, like a child, Chamberlain tried “seeking an agreement so attractive to the Fascist leaders that it would win them back to good faith.” And each time this stubbornly innocent ‘strategy’ backfired, he “display[ed] a naïve indignation that Hitler should continue to behave as he had always behaved.”2
Less charitable historians simply find Chamberlain colossally stupid and craven.
But pro-Nazi? No. Never that.
And it feels safe to leave it at that. And that’s the main thing, isn’t it—to feel safe. Best to leave it at that.
Although… it does create a theoretical problem. Because the man so depicted as a moron and a coward was the most powerful man on Earth, governing—though it was not his birthright—a world empire ’pon which the sun never set. Doesn’t it take some guts and skill to become that guy?
But if Neville Chamberlain was daring and clever, then that, plus being the most powerful man on Earth, just had to improve the odds of him getting his way. No? So isn’t it at least possible that things happened more or less the way Chamberlain wanted?
It’s a question.
Tell you what: let’s do this for a lark. Let us consider some key documented facts and see which hypothesis—whether moronic coward or bold, pro-Nazi Machiavellian—seems to explain more of it. I will begin with the more ambiguous evidence and move by stages to that which I believe emits a clearer signal.
British pro-Nazi aristocrats loved Chamberlain’s party
Various historians have documented in excruciating detail what was quite public at the time: that plenty aristocrats and business moguls in Britain (and their retainers) were enthusiastically pro-fascist—and fond especially of Adolf Hitler.
This included the king.
British King Edward VIII was besotted with Adolf Hitler. After abdicating his throne to marry the American Wallis Simpson, widely suspected of being a Nazi spy, Edward did marry her in France at Châteaux de Candé, owned by Charles Bedaux, a multimillionaire industrialist tight with the Nazis. And then off they went to Berlin to see Adolf Hitler himself. Edward was seen (and photographed) doing the Nazi salute—multiple times, even when he “inspected an SS honor guard,” as one newspaper recalls.3 The Germans paraded him left and right, milking the trip for propaganda purposes.
A bit embarrassing, all that.
Of course, some British aristocrats and business moguls were more progressive (or less reactionary). These could be found in the Liberal Party. But the pro-fascist crowd flocked in the Conservative Party. And they were dominant there.
That may come as a surprise if you watched The Crown on Netflix, where Edward VIII is scapegoated for what in fact were widespread pro-Nazi sympathies among British aristocratic and wealthy conservatives. But rewind everything back to just a decade after the closing of the war and you’ll find historian D.C. Watt writing—in passing, mind you, because his readers could also remember—that
“Hostility to Nazi Germany persisted only among … the small band of right-wing [British] Conservatives for whom 1914 [World War I] was still a living memory. Among the main body of Conservative supporters there were three sources of pro-German sympathies.”4 (my emphasis)
Now what does this imply about Chamberlain?
If “pro-German sympathies” were the dominant feeling in “the main body of Conservative supporters,” does that—by itself—make Neville Chamberlain, who became the conservative leader, a Nazi? No. Not by itself. But considering that his policies did benefit the German Nazis dramatically, this context is not exactly screaming ‘antinazi,’ neither.
(Important: My remarks in this essay about British conservatives in the 1920-30s have nothing necessarily to do with people wearing the polysemic ‘conservative’ label in other times and places. All over the West today, for example, many who call themselves ‘conservatives’ are bravely fighting for democratic freedoms.)
Chamberlain had Ball
A few things about Neville Chamberlain can perhaps be inferred from taking a look at his closest and dearest friend: Joseph Ball. Because, as we say in Mexico, Tell me who you hang with and I’ll tell you who you are. And Ball ran the spies.
Those British spies tended to share an ideology, and it ain’t hard to see why. Clandestine violations of citizen liberties—a secret-service specialty—are supremely offensive to liberal democrats, so the British secret services overflowed rather with antidemocratic conservatives of the sort just mentioned. This gave John C.C. Davidson—chairman of the Conservative Party (1926-1930)—an idea: Why not use these people to create, within the Conservative Party, “ ‘a little intelligence service of our own’ ”?5
And so Davidson set to recruiting British intelligence officers more loyal to party than king or country. People such as Joseph Ball, “a fervent political supporter” of the Conservative Party who’d headed the ‘Investigation branch’ of MI5 (domestic intelligence). Ball answered Davidson’s call in 1927.6
“What principally seems to have attracted Davidson to Ball,” writes historian Richard Cockett, “was the latter’s ‘experience… in the seamy side of life and the handling of crooks,’ ” which came in handy as Davidson wanted “to infiltrate the Labor Party” and needed “Ball’s MI5 techniques,” earlier honed “to infiltrate the Communist Party.” Davidson was pleased: “Obviously impressed by Ball’s techniques, in 1930 Davidson appointed him to be the head of the new Conservative research department,” which would focus on spying, infiltration, and sabotage.7
Ball would not stop at spying on the Labor and Communist parties, naturally, because others could be spied upon with the same techniques. “Indeed, Ball was never beneath using the special skills of intelligence gathering to spy even on members of his own party.”8
This profoundly dishonest man who specialized in the “handling of crooks” the better to spy on, infiltrate, and sabotage British political organizations was Neville Chamberlain’s best friend and fly-fishing buddy. Cockett documents that “with Ball, Chamberlain probably enjoyed the warmest personal friendship that he was capable of enjoying with anyone and they spent several fishing holidays together during the late 1930s.” Cockett also writes that “Ball’s devotion to Chamberlain … bordered on hysterical fanaticism.”9
Does this prove that Neville Chamberlain was a Nazi? Nope. But it does suggest that Chamberlain was nobody’s fool. He was an operator.
But what is it—you must be wondering—that Ball and Chamberlain exchanged, waist-deep in the still waters of the river, waiting patiently for that thrilling tug on the line? Oh, to have been a fly on the lure! But if we cannot eavesdrop those conversations, we can at least look at the consequences.
Joseph Ball corrupted the entire British press for Chamberlain
In 1931, in the context of various controversies and difficulties arising from the Great Depression which the famous ‘Crash of 1929’ had begotten, politicians of various British parties came together in a grand coalition that won the greatest ever landslide and called itself the ‘National Government.’ Almost immediately, as is widely recognized, this became a conservative government, though it preserved, for propaganda purposes, the convenient label ‘national.’
To publicize its aims, the new government created, also in 1931, the National Publicity Bureau (NPB) and Joseph Ball became its vice-president and head of its fundraising committee. Thus, Ball, who already managed for the Conservative Party a private intelligence service (see above)—and one informally linked to Britain’s official secret service—now gained an additional, and vast, institutional power, as the British State became, effectively, an institutional extension of the aristocratic Conservative Party. Ball immediately set his sights on achieving a comprehensive clandestine control over the British press.10
It was at this juncture that a warm, intimate, and politically consequential friendship began when Joseph Ball’s remarkable talents attracted the eye of Neville Chamberlain, then Chancellor of the Exchequer and responsible for all economic and financial matters.
As historian Richard Cockett explains, though formally second in importance to the Prime Minister, Chamberlain was already, in some ways, the de facto most powerful conservative politician, for he
“inspired an extraordinary degree of adulation and fierce personal loyalty amongst his coterie of close advisers, and of no one was this more true than Ball… [who] became Chamberlain’s most devoted acolyte. … [Consequently,] under Ball’s guidance, the Conservative research department [created by Davidson] swiftly became the personal fiefdom of Chamberlain.”11
As Ball extended his reach to exert clandestine control over the entire British press, then, he was holding the reins for Neville Chamberlain.
Certain suspicions existed about this but it remained a secret until the 1980s, when several historians (among whom Cockett) finally discovered this Chamberlain-Ball move on the press. One of them, Anthony Adamthwaite, writes that by 1936 Chamberlain and Ball had “the BBC… firmly on the leash.” The same could soon be said for most of the important British newspapers.12
Highly significant here is how this clandestine management, as Adamthwaite documents, was employed to please Adolf Hitler, then complaining via diplomatic channels of his alleged mistreatment in the British press. Yet Hitler was not appeased. In 1937, with Chamberlain installed already as Prime Minister, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Nazi Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, complained about remaining criticisms of Hitler still daring to rear their heads in the British dailies. Lord Halifax, the British foreign minister, “promised to do all he could to secure ‘the cooperation of the British Press’ ” and rushed to solve the problem with the owners of the Daily Herald, the News Chronicle, the Daily Mail, and the Evening Standard. But Halifax was less discreet than Joseph Ball, so there were “awkward questions” about all this in the House of Commons “[that] were met with denials, evasion and ambiguity.”13
Despite that minor scandal, Chamberlain was successful: soon after this, all of the British papers got on board with his ‘appeasement’ propaganda. And the same was true of the British film industry.14 Historians looking into this have been shocked by the wholesale transformation of the media landscape in Britain.
I know what you are thinking: Do I really mean “wholesale”? I’ll let two specialists on the matter, historians Nicholas Pronay and Phillip Taylor, writing in The Journal of Contemporary History (1984), answer this one:
“Chamberlain’s government [made] surprisingly extensive and adroit use of media manipulation and other propaganda techniques in both domestic and international politics—an accomplishment which has until recently been assumed to have belonged only to the more ‘modern’ regimes of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.”15
So, what does this say about Chamberlain? Well, let’s see…
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, as we know, were totalitarian regimes that, by outlawing any source of news not the State, had managed an all-encompassing Orwellian reality for their subjugated citizens. So Pronay & Taylor are saying that Neville Chamberlain, messing clandestinely with the British ‘free press,’ achieved something comparable to that.
Fascinating—and of implications vast.
First, because Chamberlain, in the world’s most important democracy, full of revolutionary citizens proud and prickly for their liberties, risked getting caught turning the free press into a clandestinely controlled monopoly.
So Chamberlain had guts.
And second, because Chamberlain is reported to have achieved totalitarian-level control whilst preserving the appearance of freedom, which is a feat of genius.
So Chamberlain had skills.
Chamberlain’s level of skill in fact put totalitarian leaders to shame
To understand Chamberlain’s achievements, let us first rehearse what can happen to a mind living in a totalitarian State. I mean a classically totalitarian State—you know, frank totalitarianism, where reality, officially, is official reality: whatever the State media assert. This can have profound effects, as William Shirer witnessed as a CBS correspondent in Hitler’s Germany:
“No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a café, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons.
It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were.”16
No doubt this is frightening. But in frank totalitarianism the control exerted by the State, at least, is itself transparent. In consequence, someone trapped in Nazi Germany but with a still-functioning skeptical consciousness could mentally snort with cynicism (and many did) at whatever the State-controlled media said, because, okay, perhaps you didn’t know what the truth was, but you sure as hell did know that the State was full of crap.
In Britain, by contrast, citizens in the 1930s didn’t know that Chamberlain’s clandestine control of the media rivaled the open control of the German Nazis. As historians Pronay & Taylor comment:
“… the government understood surprisingly well how important it was for the success of ‘informing the public’ that it should be unaware of the source of that ‘information.’ Hence, many of these exercises in… ‘educating the public’ were in fact conducted through various branches of the secret services.”17
More bluntly put: Chamberlain understood that doing proper psychological warfare against British citizens required preserving the appearance of a free press. Because if citizens believe that a free market exists full of free, independent, and autonomous news providers, then they will trust the news. Chamberlain had that trust, which a classically totalitarian leader doesn’t, so his power to manage reality was arguably greater.
Neville Chamberlain is certainly not looking like a moron or a coward.
Now feel the power of context. Weigh it. Neville Chamberlain was 1) the most powerful man on Earth; 2) a clever, clever man in control of reality; and 3) privy to the best intelligence in the world, because British spies were the best. Is it really possible that this man did not understand perfectly who and what Adolf Hitler was?
Yet instead of protecting European and British citizens from Hitler, Chamberlain, wielding the British press, muffled opposition to his own ‘appeasement’ policies—the very policies that allowed Hitler to take Europe (almost) without a fight.
Does this prove that Neville Chamberlain was a Nazi? Perhaps it doesn’t prove it. Wiggle room on this issue, however, is quickly disappearing.
How comprehensive was Chamberlain’s management of reality?
Above we saw William Shirer (somewhat naively, in the present context) waxing superior to a “mind … warped … [by] Hitler and Goebbels.” But in fairness to Shirer, he did notice that reality was getting warped in Britain too. Looking back on the behavior of the Times of London, and in particular on how the Times always celebrated Hitler’s obviously mendacious promises of peace, Shirer wrote:
“This great journal, one of the chief glories of English journalism, would play, like the Chamberlain government, a dubious role in the disastrous British appeasement of Hitler. But to this writer, at least, it had even less excuse than the government, for in its Berlin correspondent, Norman Ebbutt, it had, until he was expelled on August 16, 1937, a source of information about Hitler’s doings and purposes that was much more revealing than that provided by other foreign correspondents or foreign diplomats, including the British. Though much of what he wrote for the Times from Berlin in those days was not published, as he often complained to this writer and as was later confirmed, the Times editors must have read all of his dispatches and have been in the position therefore of knowing what was really going on in Nazi Germany and how hollow Hitler’s grandiose promises [of peace] were.”18 (emphasis original)
The above passage was a side comment to Shirer’s narrative for the year 1935. By that year, news reporting in Britain certainly was corrupt enough already, but Joseph Ball’s bearhug of the British press was not yet complete. That would happen in the year 1937, as we saw above, with Ball’s hero and bosom buddy Neville Chamberlain installed as British prime minister.
In 1937 the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was in full swing. British policy, ostensibly ‘neutral,’ had denied armament and supplies only to the Spanish Republic, because Franco’s fascists were getting plenty of both from Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. So the Brits, in fact, were helping Hitler. And British policy would continue like that to the bitter end—until Franco was installed in Madrid.
Was this British assistance to Franco a miscalculation or was it intentional? George Orwell, who fought in Spain for the republicans against the fascists, has left us some clues.
Like Shirer, Orwell didn’t know the details of what Chamberlain and Ball had achieved with the British press. But he could guess, because he witnessed the strange effects and reported on his observations, some of them contained in his essay ‘Looking Back on the Spanish Civil War.’
“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie.
I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened.
I saw, in fact, history being written not in terms of what happened but of what ought to have happened according to various ‘party lines.’ ”19
As eyewitness to the time and place supposedly being reported on, Orwell could literally see that reality was being managed, that entirely fake ‘historical facts’ were being created via false news-media stories planted in the British press. By such means was public opinion steered in Great Britain:
“As far as the mass of the people go, the extraordinary swings of opinion which occur nowadays, the emotions which can be turned on and off like a tap, are the result of newspaper and radio hypnosis.”20
(Is this so different from the psychological submission that William Shirer witnessed in the Third Reich?)
Remember: it was Neville Chamberlain personally managing reality through his “most devoted acolyte”: Joseph Ball. And to what end? Here again is George Orwell:
“The most baffling thing in the Spanish war was the behaviour of the great [Western] powers. The war was actually won for Franco by the Germans and Italians, whose motives were obvious enough. The motives of France and Britain are less easy to understand.
In 1936 it was clear to everyone that if Britain would only help the Spanish Government, even to the extent of a few million pounds’ worth of arms, Franco would collapse and German [Nazi] strategy would be severely dislocated. By that time one did not need to be a clairvoyant to foresee that war between Britain and Germany was coming; one could even foretell within a year or two when it would come. Yet in the most mean, cowardly, hypocritical way the British ruling class did all they could to hand Spain over to Franco and the Nazis. Why?
Because they were pro-Fascist, was the obvious answer. Undoubtedly they were, and yet when it came to the final showdown they chose to stand up to Germany. It is still very uncertain what plan they acted on in backing Franco, and they may have had no clear plan at all. Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our time, and at certain moments a very important question.”21
An important question, yes.
Orwell may have lacked some key facts presented here, but who better than him to observe what political facts he could and reason about them? And he could perceive, plain as day, that British and international reality were being managed—battles were invented that never happened!—in order “to hand Spain over to Franco and the Nazis.”
It was Chamberlain doing all that. So does that make him a Nazi?
On the preponderance of functionally articulated and cumulatively devastating evidence I think the answer must be ‘yes.’ However, up to here, I’ll allow, it’s still a circumstantial case. We are lacking a confession and a ‘smoking gun.’ But if you need those, I’ve got them.
Let us have Truth: the smoking gun and the confession
Always mindful that a secretly managed media must look the part of a ‘free press,’ support for Chamberlain’s so-called ‘appeasement’ was offered up by Ball in several flavors, each consistent with the biases and expectations of each publication’s readership. (This reality-control strategy was explained in the 19th century by the great political theorist Maurice Joly.)
Thus, at one extreme, The Economist, in keeping with the ultraliberal flag it flew, consistently “condemn[ed] the internal policies of the Reich and portray[ed] Hitler’s rearmament as a serious threat to European peace.”22 At the same time, and just as consistently, The Economist, arguing economic costs, put forward a strongly worded opposition to British rearmament in the 1930s. It even “hoped for the abolition of military aircraft by the United Kingdom”!23 Similarly, The Economist consistently condemned Nazi treatment of Jews, yet argued—alleging economic costs—against the idea of Britain receiving any Jewish refugees.24
See how that works?
At the other extreme, with zero pretensions of liberalism, was Truth. This periodical will speak to us eloquently from the grave (last issue: 1957) on the Chamberlain question, because, in a private letter to his sister that has since become available to historians, “Neville Chamberlain … admitted … that the paper [Truth] was ‘secretly controlled by Sir Joseph Ball.’ ”25
Chamberlain didn’t say ‘influenced’ or ‘pressured’ but controlled. Indeed, Ball had clandestinely bought the paper outright. And this of course made it Neville Chamberlain’s wholly owned and secretly controlled paper. Nothing was printed on Truth that did not agree with him.
And that is significant because
“Truth adopted an overtly antisemitic and racialist tone…, [and] any opponent of appeasement came to be branded as a Jewish/Communist traitor to the true English cause. … Truth also became overtly pro-German and pro-Italian as Chamberlain proceeded in his search for a diplomatic settlement with Hitler and Mussolini. Truth took every opportunity to present the German grievances in the best possible light; just as it sought to explain away anything that might be construed as an antagonistic or threatening German action and repeatedly blamed the French for precipitating the European crisis.”26
This pro-Hitler agitation was taken to extremes. When Hitler was mobilizing his troops with the intention of attacking Czechoslovakia, Truth wrote there was no reason to see an aggression in this. The same issue celebrated Hitler as a man of profound sensibility because he was supposedly a great watercolor artist! The prime minister loved this stuff: “Chamberlain was to recommend Truth and its distinctive political content to his sisters on several occasions.”27
What should one conclude, from this context, about Chamberlain’s and Ball’s own ideology? Cockett writes:
“Truth, as an expression of the views of Ball and Chamberlain, seems to have differed little in its ideological content from the professed prejudices and beliefs of the Nazi leaders.”28
It appears that Cockett, alone among historians, has politely called Chamberlain—in Cambridge University’s The Historical Journal!—a Nazi.
But why didn’t you ever hear any of this?
The dominant hypothesis about Chamberlain that one finds in every standard book, that he was a well-meaning fool and a coward, which is never presented as a hypothesis but as a self-evident truth, has been destroyed—utterly—by several historians whose work appears in the specialized journals of the discipline.
That’s … big news.
Not merely because on a fundamental question of causality about history’s most important geopolitical conflict every book used in every school at every level in every Western country is completely wrong. Not merely that.
This is big news, also, because of the way the textbooks are wrong. Which is to say that WWII didn’t happen because our protagonist was slow-witted and timid; WWII happened because Neville Chamberlain was a Machiavellian monster.
That’s … BIG NEWS.
Big. Because it demands a wholesale reexamination of the entire standard narrative concerning the causes of WWII.
But if this is so big, why didn’t you hear about this before? The evidence to unmask Chamberlain was presented in academic history journals as far back as the 1980s. And yet still nobody is educating the Western citizenries about this! You are learning about this here, in the year 2022 (or later). Why?
Orwell said: “no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” Right. Power, then, to be recovered, must be wrested from those who’ve captured it.
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The antidemocratic British conservatives who, from the British secret services, seized clandestine control of the press in the 1930s never had the intention of relinquishing this power. So British press freedoms could not be recovered unless they were wrested. But that required, at a minimum, a national scandal. There hasn’t been one.
So I think that Richard Cockett—who has looked deeper into this than any other historian—must have been right when he wrote that “the incestuous relationship between Whitehall [the British government] and the press of Britain,” which is to say “the ‘free’ and ‘independent’ press of Britain” (note his sarcastic scare-quotes) “exists to this day.”29
He wrote that in 1989. And the missing scandal has still not emerged in the intervening three-plus decades. But that probably makes sense, no? I can see why a controlled press might be reluctant to expose its own corruption.
Yet control must extend further, because, as we said, the textbooks—still today—do not give people the real Neville Chamberlain.
And Richard Cockett, after publishing one scholarly article and one book on Truth in 1989-90, never again said anything about this that I could find.30 Perhaps there is no connection between that and the prominent job that Cockett was offered at The Economist, crown jewel of the British press. But I do wonder.
I find it noteworthy, too, that the Wikipedia page on Truth gets this entire story completely wrong.31
An interesting synchronicity
This is perhaps not a coincidence: at the same time—very same time—that Chamberlain, using the British secret services, completed his takeover of the British press in 1937-38, on the other side of the Atlantic the Rockefellers, joined to US Intelligence, were likewise achieving clandestine control over the US media.
The scale of the Rockefeller achievement may be described with the same superlatives that historians Pronay & Taylor have lavished on Chamberlain’s effort:
“an accomplishment which has until recently been assumed to have belonged only to the more ‘modern’ regimes of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.”
Despite the scale of this—or rather, because of it—the Rockefeller effort is never discussed in the mainstream. Yet many ordinary folk are aware of one aspect of the Rockefeller effort: Orson Welles’s 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast on CBS. This was apparently a field test of the clandestinely managed media system’s power to create fake historical events (of course, that is not the standard interpretation of what happened).
Now, can the simultaneous mobilization of the Rockefeller and Chamberlain efforts be a coincidence? Or might these efforts be linked? They might be. By the eugenics movement. For Chamberlain was a eugenicist and so was Rockefeller.
To learn more about eugenics:
Quoted in: Shirer, William L. (1995). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York & London: Simon & Shuster. (p.619)
Taylor, A. (1996 ). Origins Of The Second World War. United Kingdom: Simon & Schuster. (pp.106-107)
‘Edward VIII gives Nazi salute during controversial 1937 visit to Germany for meeting with Adolf Hitler’; The Mirror; 8 October 2018; by Russell Myers
‘Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ paints Edward VIII as Nazi sympathizer — but was he?’; The Times of Israel; 29 January 2018; by Robert Philpot
Watt, D. C. (1956). The Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935: An Interim Judgment. The Journal of Modern History, 28(2), 155-175. (pp.161-162)
Cockett RB. 1990. Ball, Chamberlain and Truth. The Historical Journal 33: 131-42 (p.132)
“Ball, Chamberlain and Truth” (op. cit) p.132
“Ball, Chamberlain and Truth” (op. cit) pp.131-132
“Ball, Chamberlain and Truth” (op. cit) p.132
“Ball, Chamberlain and Truth” (op. cit) p.132; Cockett, R. (1989). Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement, and the Manipulation of the Press. United Kingdom: St. Martin's Press. (p.183)
“Ball, Chamberlain and Truth” (op. cit) p.133
“Ball, Chamberlain and Truth” (op. cit) p.132
Adamthwaite A. 1983. The British Government and the Media, 1937-1938. Journal of Contemporary History 18: 281-97 (pp.282-85)
The British Government and the Media (op. cit.) pp.282-85
“ ‘I have cultivated some close personal contacts with the leaders of the British film industry,’ Ball reported confidentially to Chamberlain in June 1938, ‘and I am satisfied that I can count upon most of them for their full support …’ Stressing the importance of exploiting the screens of the ordinary cinemas, seen by 20 million people each week, Ball said: ‘I have already prepared the way for this with all the big circuits among exhibitors ... with Korda among the producers, and with the chairmen of the five big newsreel companies.’ ”
SOURCE: Pottins, Charlie (1990). Cabinet Conspiracy. Jewish Socialist. No.19 (Spring)
Pronay, N., & Taylor, P. M. (1984). ‘An Improper Use of Broadcasting...’ The British Government and Clandestine Radio Propaganda Operations against Germany during the Munich Crisis and after. Journal of Contemporary History, 19(3), 357-384. (p.357)
Shirer, William L. (1995). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York & London: Simon & Shuster. (p.248)
An Improper Use of Broadcasting...’ (op. cit.) p.357
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (op.cit.) pp.287-288
Orwell, George. A Collection of Essays (Harvest Book) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition. (p.197)
A Collection of Essays (op. cit.) p.190
A Collection of Essays (op. cit.) pp.204-205
Wu, Shuang. (2018). British Press Coverage of Nazi Antisemitism, 1933-1938 (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University). (p.26)
COGHLAN, F. (1972). ARMAMENTS, ECONOMIC POLICY AND APPEASEMENT. BACKGROUND TO BRITISH FOREIGN POLICY, 1931–7. History, 57(190), 205–216. (p.208)
British Press Coverage of Nazi Antisemitism (op. cit) pp.36, 38
Cockett R.B. 1990. Ball, Chamberlain and Truth. The Historical Journal 33: 131-42 (p.135)
Cockett RB. 1990. Ball, Chamberlain and Truth. The Historical Journal 33: 131-42 (p.136)
Ball, Chamberlain and Truth (op. cit.) p.135
Ball, Chamberlain and Truth (op. cit.) pp.139-140
Cockett, R. (1989). Twilight of Truth: Chamberlain, Appeasement, and the Manipulation of the Press. United Kingdom: St. Martin's Press. (pp.1-2)
I couldn’t even find scholarly articles by Cockett himself, written afterwards, that referenced his own work on Chamberlain’s corruption of the press.
According to Wikipedia (as I found it on 23 December 2022), the accusations made in the British Parliament against Truth—that it was pro-Nazi—were “false allegations”; but in fact there was zero controversy about that. Everybody was agreed that Truth was pro-Nazi. No, the scandal in Parliament concerned the discovery that this (obviously) pro-Nazi rag was owned by the British Conservative Party.
Even more amazing: for anyone paying skeptical attention, it is enough to read the rest of the Wikipedia article on Truth, and to follow Wikipedia’s own hyperlinks to thematically adjacent pages, to see that Wikipedia’s “false allegations” bit is nonsense.