Letters: The significance of the Nazis then and now

The following letters appear in the 21 July edition of The Independent

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Contrary to what the Prime Minister seems to believe, the ideology behind Nazism did not grow out of a vacuum – it was fuelled by the deep sense of humiliation experienced by Germans as a result of the terms imposed on their country in the aftermath of the First World War.

In the same way, support for Isis is driven by the sense of humiliation felt by so many Muslims after a century of meddling by Western powers in the Middle East.

People are persuaded by ideas and accept ideologies because they make sense of events, not the other way round.

Like so many zealots before them, Isis draws on the power of religion as a symbol of justice and purity, and the Middle East is awash with injustice and corruption undertaken by states that we continue to support both economically and militarily.

If he wants to win the war of ideas, David Cameron needs to address those facts and show some commitment to changing the game: you cannot unpersuade people who are already persuaded by what they see in the world around them, nor can you bomb an idea out of existence.

Simon Prentis


Everyone is missing the point about the photos of Nazi sympathiser Edward VIII teaching two little girls the Nazi salute, because the elephant in the garden is Joseph Stalin.

The Hitler of 1938 was not visible in 1932. He was elected because of the fear that was rampant in Europe at the time. Lenin and Stalin had accounted for 20 million or so who died in Russia’s civil war and another 10 million or so exterminated during the imposition of collective farming. The German middle class accepted Hitler’s analysis that Marxist-Leninism was the greatest threat to their freedom, security and prosperity, so they voted for him and only found out what they had done when it was too late.

Atrocities in Russia were being played down or denied by the many “fellow travellers” among British intellectuals who were justified in being ashamed of conditions suffered by working-class Britons at the time. How Lenin came to power on the back of Lloyd George’s betrayal of the Russian provisional government is still officially a state secret, so it is not surprising that knowledge of what was going on in Russia and why the Germans responded as they did had not yet clarified in people’s thinking.

The anti-war movement in 1932 was still calling for disarmament. Churchill was in the wilderness, and people like Christopher Isherwood, who had seen the Nazis at first hand in Berlin, were not being heard. Many aspects of Lenin’s rise to power are still being covered up, and so people are projecting on to the Hitler of 1932 the knowledge of and revulsion about the war years, the camps and other atrocities, all aspects that had not yet appeared, even in Germany.

Steve Kerensky
Morecambe, Lancashire


By 1933 most people in this country had come to associate the “Roman salute” with Moseley’s fascists. For the Duchess of York to encourage a seven-year-old daughter like that was inappropriate if nothing worse.

Robert Davies
London SE3


Apparently, the Queen is “incensed” that her mother is portrayed in an unforgiving pose – which is the nub of the matter, not that she, at seven, was guilty of any indiscretion. Whoever exposed these pictures has done the nation a valuable service. What other dark secrets lie buried in the royal archives?

P J Hill
West Derby, Liverpool


So, anyone who lampooned Hitler was at best a naive fool and at worst a Nazi sympathiser. We should, therefore, ban all screenings of The Great Dictator by that well-known foolish fascist Charlie Chaplin.

Beverley Thompson
Bow Brickhill, Milton Keynes


Ofsted’s position  on ‘mocksteds’

The Independent rightly identifies the importance of preserving the integrity of the Ofsted inspection process. We have repeatedly made clear to schools that we never endorse so-called “Mocksteds” and that the best way to prepare for an Ofsted inspection is to focus on delivering a high-quality education for all pupils.

I would, however, like to correct the impression given that full-time Ofsted staffers, or Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), have ever been allowed to “moonlight” by carrying out mock inspections in preparation for the real thing. This is not the case. The issue until now has been with part-time and usually self-employed inspectors, who have contracted with our third-party inspection service providers and who have not been subject to the same strict rules as HMI.

We have now ended these outsourcing arrangements. From September, in addition to our HMI workforce, we will directly contract with individual inspectors to carry out inspections of schools and colleges; the majority of these inspectors will be serving headteachers and deputy headteachers. Under these contracts, no current inspector will be allowed to carry out mock Ofsted inspections.

On a separate point, I was surprised to see your editorial call into question the decision taken by our Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to scrap the old “satisfactory” rating and replace it with “requires improvement”. This move has unquestionably injected much-needed urgency into the system and we now have many more pupils in good schools than ever before.

Sean Harford
Ofsted National Director for Schools, London WC2


Rewilding is a way forward – not back

As Boyd Tonkin notes (18 July), “ideas about wildlife always belong to culture as much as nature”. These ideas have changed radically over the past 150 years.

As one of the founders of Rewilding Britain, I see rewilding as the next step in the long process of redefining our relationship with the natural world, away from fear, dominion and control – towards wonder, respect and coexistence. Tonkin is also right to state that rewilding cannot be a “route back to Eden”. Far from being motivated by “fantasies of a reconstituted past”, we see it as an open-ended process. We are not seeking to reconstitute any past state, but to kickstart the ecological dynamics that, through the extinction of keystone species (animals that act as ecological engineers, driving living processes), have more or less ground to a halt in Britain.

One of the paradoxes of rewilding is that, by bringing back lost species, it envisages a future. In this respect it differs from certain other models of conservation, which try to keep a collection of species in a fixed and often arbitrary state. The ecosystems that result from rewilding will not be the same as those of the past; they will be able to shift and develop once more.

The extent to which they can be left to do so will, as Tonkin suggests, be largely determined by culture: people’s willingness or otherwise to allow change to take place. Like most who wish to change the world, rewilders recognise that desirable and achievable are not the same thing.

We will argue for maximum freedom and minimum intervention. We will explain the enchantments of unkempt living systems. But we also know that compromises will have to be struck.

George Monbiot


De Menezes was also a 7/7 victim

As a Latin American, I remember not just 7/7 but also 22/7. A few days after the funeral mass I attended at Westminster Cathedral in remembrance of Anthony Fatayi-Williams (killed on 7/7), London witnessed the killing of another innocent. On 22/7, Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by the Metropolitan Police.

Writing for The Independent 10 years ago, Bruce Anderson backed the police action, without waiting for the result of a preliminary inquiry that showed that de Menezes was innocent and the police had acted negligently.

I suggest that the name of Jean Charles de Menezes be added to those killed on 7/7.

Agustin Blanco-Bazan
London NW8


Labour must confront Tory propaganda

Labour Party members are between a rock and a hard place. If they vote for a so-called centrist/right-wing leader, they are committing the party to being just another Tory party.

If they vote for a left-wing candidate, the party’s programme might lead to a more equitable society, but so many people, since Margaret Thatcher, have been convinced that they are “middle class” that they are likely to be alienated by the policies.

So many voters in England now believe that they are best served by the Conservative Party, despite the fact that since the 1980s middle-class incomes have declined in real terms.

 The only way out for Labour is to confront the three decades of right-wing propaganda and point out to the English electorate how they have actually lost wealth over the past 30 years, and how the creeping loss of public services to the private sector will lead to their children not having the same level of social support and cohesion that they have grown up with.

Michael Jenkins
Hayes, Greater London