Oswald Mosley


Those with a memory of the First World War had an understandable horror of another. Englishmen rushed to enlist in 1914 because war propaganda had portrayed the Kaiser as the evil anti-Christ and German soldiers were later depicted as the baby-eating Hun. It was all lies, of course, and many soldiers returning in 1918 had resented this duplicity.

It is not the purpose of this book to argue who was responsible for precipitating the war in Europe in 1939 but what is now clear is that war could have been prevented … or, at least, Britain’s involvement in that war could have been avoided.

Britain’s interests were not threatened in 1939 and it is a matter of historical and documentary fact that Hitler admired the British Empire and did not wish to see it threatened. His war aims involved a drive eastward as defined in his book, Mein Kampf, written in 1923.

The peace campaign in 1939 encompassed a wide range of political viewpoints. The Peace Pledge Union, pacifists, Quakers, left-wingers like the Revd Donald Soper and Dean Inge, Labour MPs such as Jimmy Maxton, George Buchanan and Richard Stokes, the anti-war faction of the Conservative Party with their monthly magazine called Truth, Christian groups, and several prominent peers of the realm.

In March 1940, Lord Beaverbrook invited a group of anti-war Labour MPs to his home with the proposition that they stand as “peace candidates” at the next parliamentary elections … and went further by declaring he would pay the election expenses of every peace candidate in every constituency. Beaverbrook was appointed Minister of Aircraft Production two months later and conveniently forgot his “peace offering”. Beaverbrook was the exception while many others stood by their principles and suffered imprisonment for their efforts.

The British Union peace campaign was based on an understanding of German aspirations in Eastern Europe and the problem of territorial wrongs implemented by the Treaty of Versailles. These were regarded as purely German problems, which were no concern of Britain … in fact, Hitler’s claims for lost German territory were regarded as justified.

The slogan, “Mind Britain’s Business”, although coined by British Union during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935, became the theme of Mosley’s peace campaign first for the prevention of war and then for a negotiated peace.

The Earls Court rally in 1939 was the biggest ever demonstration for peace in the world with many other large outdoor meetings attracting thousands more. Mosley continued his campaign openly and with some considerable support until his arrest in 1940.

His message at Earls Court was an appeal from the heart of a soldier from the trenches:

“… This is a demonstration of Britain First and, therefore, is a demonstration of world peace. This, the greatest gathering of the English under one roof assembled, tells the Government … ‘At last we have had enough’. We are here to tell them there is something for them to do here in Britain … Enough we have had of alien quarrels, enough threats of foreign war, enough diversions from what matters to the British people, our own land, our own Empire and our problems. We say to the parties tonight, ‘If any country in the world attacks Britain or threatens to attack Britain, then every single member of this great audience of British Union would fight for Britain’.

But just as straight this too we tell them, ‘We fight for Britain, yes, but a million Britons shall never die in your Jews’ quarrel. And before you drag a million Englishmen to doom, we of British Union will sweep you by the declared will of the British people from the seats of power that you disgrace …

It was also believed that the war was an ideological war. Those who pushed for war did so because they did not like the political system operating in a major European country. The old problem of a balance of power in Europe was another factor, as it was in 1914, and some in Britain resented the resurgence of Germany as a major power in the world and the possibility of a new social and economic order that could threaten the stranglehold of international finance.

They could only stop Mosley’s campaign by locking him up and silencing him.

Robert Edwards  

©2002   'Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists by Robert Edwards'


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oswaldmosley.net - 2008