Guilty Women

Review of Hitler’s Girl by Lauren Young

Historians and lay-people alike have for decades posed the counter-factual question, “How could Hitler have been stopped?”  The answer, shocking to those at play in the fields of elision, is that the easiest way to contain him and therefore to halt the growth of Nazism and the save the world from murderous peril would have been to not support him in the first place.

“Support him?!?”  That is the reaction of shock that most people schooled in Western post-War histories have.  But even a cursory examination of the facts, of the indisputable progression of historical events suggests that this answer is the best one of all.

hitlers girlIn the 1930s, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov, traveled to the capitals of Europe with a warning and plan.  The warning was of the rising fascism of the Nazi party, the remilitarization of Germany, and of the devilish plans being concocted in Berlin.  He suggested that if people wanted to know what Hitler’s plans were, they could simply read Mein Kampf, that the plans were not secret. He suggested a system of “Collective Security” to contain the Nazi menace.    Litvinov was rejected summarily in London and Paris and even by Bucharest, Prague, and Warsaw.  As Jonathan Haslam argues with the force of history in his magisterial “The Spectre of War,” what drove Western European inter-war policy was not a distaste for Fascism (quite the opposite actually) but instead an antipathy to Bolshevism and a fear of Communism.

Nowhere could one find more open support for Hitler and his agenda than in the aristocratic circles in Britain.  Scholars like Michael Jabara Carley and Geoffrey Roberts have written extensively about their headlong embrace of Hitler.  As have others in Academia.  Astute historians understand the trespasses of these “guilty men.”

And what of the guilty women?  Lauren Young has added immeasurably to this literature with Hitler’s Girl:  The British Aristocracy and the Third Reich on the Eve of WW II.

Short, readable, and gripping, Young’s titular villain is Unity Mitford, one of many sisters from an aristocratic British family with close ties to the British fascist movement and to the Third Reich, and particularly Hitler and Goebbels.  She was besotted with Hitler and virulent in her anti-Semitism.  She met Hitler 160 times and might even have carried his child back to England.  Hitler even took time away from the Front to visit her.  While there is much controversy and much unknown about her story, the British power structure and MI6 treated her with kid gloves and never sought to turn her.

This fascinating book also devotes a goodly amount of time and page-space to Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, also very open in their admiration for Hitler, their anti-Semitism, and their embrace of Fascism.

The tale is a remarkable one on the one hand and unremarkable on the other.  Such revelations of English support of Hitler run counter to the narrative propounded by Churchill and others of a valiant nation willing to spill its own blood for Freedom.  On this note, Stalin had quipped that the Western Allies were willing to fight to the last Russian.  Unremarkable, indeed, however, to anyone who honestly pays attention.

Hitler’s Girl is required reading for anyone interested in the rise of Nazism and in the counter-factual mentioned at the outset.  Lauren Young has given us a gift and has also warned us about the times we live in now which in so many ways resemble the period from 1933 to 1938 when Hitler could have been stopped.  The woeful progression of events thereafter is known.

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Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan is an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist

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