Book review: Coffee With Hitler by Charles Spicer – polite society v the Nazis

Alexander Larman

When Hitler rose to power in the early 1930s, public reaction in Britain was not that of unalloyed horror. Instead, it lay somewhere between disinterest, snobbish, if inaccurate, contempt (“the man’s a house painter!”), and, in some circles, quiet satisfaction that a vigorous reformer had shaken up his country in an apparently effective and forward-looking fashion. The evils of the Nazi regime were obvious to anyone with either a social conscience or a knowledge of history, but it was more convenient either to ignore them, or, in the case of a group of well-meaning but misguided society figures, to attempt to mitigate them by means of the so-called Anglo-German Fellowship.

In this fascinating and deeply researched debut historical biography by businessman turned historian Charles Spicer, the leading lights of the Fellowship paint an unimpressive picture. They consisted of “a leftwing, pacifist Welsh political secretary, a conservative, butterfly-collecting Old Etonian businessman and a pioneering Great War fighter ace”. They were better known as David Lloyd George, Ernest Tennant and the Duke of Hamilton, and they combined high social standing with an unfortunate tendency to pursue freelance diplomacy unchecked either by government intervention or common sense. As Spicer writes, “they infiltrated the Nazi high command deeper than any of their countrymen to pass back better intelligence to both their government and its domestic critics”….

Vases, Tea Sets, Cigars, His Own Watercolours: High Society in the Third Reich

The Second World War

George Orwell Reviews Mein Kampf: “He Envisages a Horrible Brainless Empire” (1940)