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Making friends with Hitler

Fellow Travellers of the Right: British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany, 1933-39 - Richard Griffiths

The rise of the Nazis to power in Germany in 1933 was greeted in Britain by a range of opinions that might be difficult to imagine today. While many viewed Adolf Hitler's rise with concern and even trepidation, others greeted it with enthusiasm and became supporters of his regime. Richard Griffiths book provides readers with a study of this latter group, one that looks at their motivations, activities, and goals in supporting the Nazi regime in the years leading up to the outbreak of war in 1939.


Part of the challenge that Griffiths faces in this respect is assessing the disparate motives of people with a common agenda. He finds among them a shared admiration for Hitler, coupled with a fear for Communist expansion in Europe and a desire to see Germany developed as a bastion against it. These efforts were encouraged by the Nazis, who provided support for their activities. Though advocacy for the Third Reich during this period stretched across the social spectrum, Griffiths concentrates his study on the leaders of the groups, which included men from politics, the military and members of the aristocracy. This support grew as the decade wore on, and declined only when Germany's occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 dispelled any illusions about Hitler's intentions, leaving behind only a fanatical core that was interned after the war broke out a few months later.

Griffiths's book is a welcome examination of a group of people too often on the fringes of most historical accounts. His dispassionate and respectful assessment of their views and actions helps readers better understand why they adopted the positions they did and why they maintained them even after Hitler's ambitions and the Nazis's anti-Semitic brutality became increasingly evident. Anyone seeking to understand better why so many people came to support such a regime would do well to turn to this work, which answers these questions and more with a combination of both clarity and insight.