LETTER: Empire's fight against fascism

From Mr G. Chowdharay-Best

Sir: Niall Meehan (Letters, 10 May) vastly exaggerates the size of the British Empire, which even at its greatest extent occupied less than a quarter of the Earth's land surface (12m square miles out of 52.5m, according to the Encylopaedia Britannica of 1910).

Moreover, while it may be true that the Foreign Office during the Second World War tried to play down the extent of the Holocaust, the notion that an effective censorship was exercised is hardly borne out by such things as the editorial headed "Holocaust" in the News Chronicle (the nearest thing in those days to an Independent) of 5 December 1942, in which some of the essential facts were spelt out. "More than half of Poland's three and a half million Jews," said the editorial, "have already been done to death." Nor was Parliament censored for the duration of hostilities.

Lord Samuel in the House of Lords (23 March 1943) spoke of deportations of Jews in Czechoslovakia and Austria, and again used the word holocaust.

Yours faithfully,


London, SW3

10 May

From Mr John Faulls

Sir: What ignorance Niall Meehan shows to write that Britain ruled over two-thirds of the Earth's surface when in fact never more than a quarter of the map was ever coloured red. Of this, the four dominions were self- governing, as was his own country, then called Eire. Provincial governments had been set up in India by the act of 1935, and it was only a matter of time before that country would have become independent if there had been no war.

Within 30 years of the end of the war Britain gave up nearly all her overseas territories with good grace. If Germany had won, Ireland would now be part of a German Nazi empire.

Yours faithfully,



10 May

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