Jun 8th 2015

Former King wanted England bombed and an Anglo-German alliance, archives reveal

by Karina Urbach

Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research at School of Advanced Study

King Edward VIII was forced to abdicate in 1936, and soon took the title of the Duke of Windsor. He has always been known for his pro-Nazi sympathies. However, the extent of his betrayal could never be fully verified due to the secrecy of the Royal Archives.

The Royal Archives have always ensured that letters from German relatives of the royal family in the run up to World War II remain closed. Naturally, such censorship has led to endless conspiracy theories.

But over the past eight years I have accumulated damning evidence by sifting through 30 archives all over the world that are open. Intelligence reports and German, Spanish and Russian documents show members of the British royal family were indeed far closer to Nazi Germany than has previously been recognised. I present this in full in my new book Go-Betweens for Hitler.

One key to this Anglo-German network is Charles Edward Duke of Coburg (1884-1954). In a Channel 4 programme on him in 2007, I called Coburg “a Nazi who got away with it”, but I had no idea about the magnitude of his crimes at the time.

Coburg was part of a wider group of go-betweens – private individuals who were used for secret negotiations by Hitler. My investigation into Coburg’s work sheds new and damning light on the Duke of Windsor, a relative and confidante of Coburg.

Duke of Coburg

Coburg was a grandchild of Queen Victoria destined for a privileged and unspectacular life. But the experiences of World War I changed him. After Germany lost the war, he turned to the radical right. In the 1920s he got involved with a German terrorist group that tried to overthrow the democratically elected German Republic. Members of the group were involved in several political murders in the 1920s. Though he did not pull the trigger himself, Coburg funded these murders.

After the failed Hitler Putsch of 1923, Coburg hid several Hitler supporters on the run in his castles. Hitler would not forget this great favour and later rewarded Coburg by making him a general. But he also needed him for something more secretive. In 1933 the Führer was short of international contacts and did not trust his own foreign ministry.

He therefore used members of the German aristocracy for secret missions to Britain, Italy, Hungary and Sweden. Coburg was particularly useful in London from 1935 to 1939 and was received in Britain due to his sister Alice Countess of Athlone’s tireless work. She was Queen Mary’s sister-in-law and fought for Coburg’s acceptance. This resulted in him not just being welcomed in British drawing rooms, but most importantly, by the royals, including the Duke of Windsor.

Royal secrets

Coburg was first invited in January 1932 to Sandringham to see George V and Queen Mary during their Christmas break. Despite the war, Queen Mary had renewed contacts with her German relatives as early as 1918. This occasion and subsequent visits were not listed in the Court Circular, as they normally would have been.

The Duke of Windsor in 1945.

It was only by turning to intelligence reports and foreign archives that I was able to piece together that the Duke of Coburg and the Duke of Windsor dreamt of an Anglo-German alliance. Windsor helped Coburg towards this goal on several different occasions.

The Soviet intelligence services were convinced of the Duke of Windsor’s treachery when war broke out. It is probable that they had an informer on his staff. In 1940 they reported that he was conducting negotiations with Hitler to form a new English government and conclude a peace with Germany contingent on a military alliance against the USSR.

Even more evidence of Windsor’s treachery was hidden in Spanish archives. Like his relative Coburg, the Duke of Windsor was anti-Semitic. In June 1940 Don Javier Bermejillo, a Spanish diplomat and old friend of Windsor – he had known him since the 1920s – reported a conversation he had had with the Duke to his superiors.

Bermejillo reported that the Duke of Windsor blamed “the Jews, the Reds and the Foreign Office for the war”. Windsor added that he would like to put Anthony Eden and other British politicians “up against a wall”. Bermejillo stated that Windsor had already made similar remarks about the Reds and the Jews to him long before he became King in 1936. In another conversation on June 25 1940 Bermejillo reported that Windsor stressed if one bombed England effectively this could bring peace. Bermejillo concluded that the Duke of Windsor seemed very much to hope that this would occur: “He wants peace at any price.” This report went to Franco and was then passed on to the Germans. The bombing of Britain started on 10 July.

After the war Coburg and the Duke of Windsor never met again. Windsor continued his jet-set life, and Coburg died in Germany in 1954. He never found out that his beloved Führer wanted him murdered. In April 1945 code breakers at Bletchley Park came across a telegram from Hitler, saying: “The Führer attaches importance to the Duke of Coburg, on no account falling into enemy hands.” This was one of Hitler’s famous “Nero orders”, an indirect sentence of death.

The secrets Hitler and Coburg shared seemed to be so important that they needed to be hidden from public view. More transparency at the Royal Archives is needed so that historical investigations such as this can be conducted fully, not shrouded in secrecy.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.



To follow what's new on Facts & Arts, please click here.


Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jul 31st 2021
EXTRACT: "If we want to live in a world that is good for pollinators, as well as the rest of us, big changes are needed in our environment, and our food system. This is why many beekeepers change their diet and their shopping, eating more locally grown vegetables that aren’t treated with pesticides. ...... Being willing to buy fruit and vegetables that may have the occasional insect living in it is better for us and for nature. To live more harmoniously with the natural world, we need to relax about larvae in the lettuce and slugs in the spinach."
Jul 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "You’d think our brush with mortality through the pandemic would have brought some of this home to us. You’d think it would give us pause for thought about what really matters to us: the kind of world we want for our children; the kind of society we want to live in. And for many people it has. In a survey carried out during lockdown in the UK, 85% of respondents found something in their changed conditions they felt worth keeping and fewer than 10% wanted a complete return to normal."
Jul 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "English artist Damien Hirst’s latest project, “The Currency”, is an artwork in two forms. Its physical form is 10,000 unique hand-painted A4 sheets covered in colourful dots. In the same way as paper money, each sheet includes a holographic image of Hirst, a signature, a microdot and – in place of a serial number – a small individual message. The second part of the artwork is that each of these hand-painted sheets has a corresponding NFT (non-fungible token). NFTs are digital certificates of ownership which exist on the secure online ledgers that are known as blockchains. ---- The way that “The Currency” works is that collectors will not be buying the physical artwork immediately. Instead, they will pay US$2,000 (£1,458) for the NFT and then have a year to decide whether they want the digital or the physical version. Once the collector selects one, the other will be destroyed. ---- So what is going on here, and what does it tell us about art and money?"
Jul 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "Ellison was an abstract expressionist painter, who, having come to New York City from West Texas in 1962, was as he said “unable to find traction” as a painter. At the same time, he began collecting ceramic objects and educating himself about this field of art as he went along. In 2009 he bestowed on the Metropolitan Museum of Art over 300 extraordinary examples of American ceramics, spanning the years 1876 through 1956. Since then, Ellison has gifted to the Museum over 600 works – including a significant collection of European art pottery in 2013, and most recently over 125 modern and contemporary clay vessels and objects – making the Museum one of the most significant repositories of Art Pottery in the world. ---- The current exhibition presents nearly 80 pieces drawn from Ellison’s latest donation, and it is a thoroughly captivating show; even where (or perhaps especially where) the works are outlandish, bizarre, sometimes almost monstrous, but nonetheless enthralling."
Jul 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Over the course of England’s journey to the Euro 2020 final, one of the most fascinating plays has been happening just off the pitch. Whenever the TV camera cuts to the team’s manager Gareth Southgate, he is occasionally seen standing alone on the edge of the field, urging his team on. ---- But most of the time he is deep in conversation with his assistant Steve Holland. ---- A recent study of English football culture points to a shift away from what the authors term “Beckhamisation”, after the former England captain and Manchester United star player David Beckham – a popular and instantly recognisable symbol of that period of football history (though, it is not suggested the culture was his creation). ---- During the 1990s, the study claims, this “Beckhamisation” saw high octane management practices imported from the corporate world into football. ---- In recent years, this has been replaced by “Southgatism”, a leadership style which that study describes as “modest, self-deprecating, down to earth, diverse and progressive”. "
Jun 30th 2021
EXTRACT: "New York’s Museum of Modern Art is currently presenting an exhibition devoted to an in-depth review of Paul Cézanne’s drawings. If there is any criticism to be made of this extraordinary show, it is that it is frankly overwhelming: with roughly 280 pencil, ink and gouache drawings and watercolors (and even a handful of oil paintings), there is so much to take in that two or three visits to the exhibition may be required to do it justice."
Jun 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "Cognitive flexibility provides us with the ability to see that what we are doing is not leading to success and to make the appropriate changes to achieve it." .... "Flexible thinking is key to creativity – in other words, the ability to think of new ideas, make novel connections between ideas, and make new inventions." .... "The good news is that it seems you can train cognitive flexibility."
Jun 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Confronting our complex history and ultimately embracing a more equitable, balanced, and humble culture may be a tall order in these fractious times. But that makes it even more imperative that we fully reckon with who we are and who we are capable of becoming."
Jun 11th 2021
EXTARCT: "A further health benefit of hiking is that it’s classed as “green exercise”. This refers to the added health benefit that doing physical activity in nature has on us. Research shows that not only can green exercise decrease blood pressure, it also benefits mental wellbeing by improving mood and reducing depression to a greater extent than exercising indoors can."
Jun 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If we apply that test to the world as a whole, how much moral progress have we made over the past two millennia? ...... That question is suggested by The Golden Ass, arguably the world’s earliest surviving novel, written around 170 CE, when Emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire. Apuleius, the author, was an African philosopher and writer, born in what is now the Algerian city of M’Daourouch."
Jun 4th 2021
EXTRACT: "Research we’ve done, which looked at 37 adults with type 2 diabetes, found that over two weeks, prolonged sitting was associated with high blood sugar levels. But we also found that when people stood up or walked around between periods of sitting, they had lower blood sugar levels. Other studies have also had similar results."
May 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Paul Van Doren's legacy lies in a famous company, and in his advice to young entrepreneurs to get their hands dirty, and to know what goes into making what they are selling."
May 19th 2021
EXTRACT: "May 7th marked three hundred and ten years since the philosopher David Hume was born. He is chiefly remembered as the most original and destructive of the early modern empiricists, following John Locke and George Berkeley." .... " Shocking as it may (and should) sound, Hume is implying nothing less than that the next time you turn the key in your car ignition, you are as justified to expect the engine will start as you are in believing it will turn into a pumpkin. For there is a radical contingency that pervades all our experience. We could wake up tomorrow to a world that looks and behaves very differently to the one we are in now. Matters of fact are dependent on experience and can never be known a priori — they are purely contingent, and could always turn out different than what we expect."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: " The sad reality is that the Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) were discriminated against from the day of Israel’s inception, whose Ashkenazi (European Jewish) leaders viewed them as intellectually inferior, “backward,” and “too Arab,” and treated them as such, largely because the Ashkenazim agenda was to maintain their upper-class status while controlling the levers of power, which remain prevalent to this day." ..... " The greatest heartbreaking outcome is that for yet another generation of Israelis, growing up in these debilitating conditions has a direct effect on their cognitive development. A 2015 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that “family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size…increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children.” "
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "We all owe Farah Nabulsi an enormous debt of gratitude. In a short 24-minute film, The Present, she has exposed the oppressive indecency of the Israeli occupation while telling the deeply moving story of a Palestinian family. What is especially exciting is that after winning awards at a number of international film festivals​, Ms. Nabulsi has been nominated for an Academy Award for this remarkable work of art. " 
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "When I crashed to the floor of my home in Bordeaux recently after two months of Covid-19 dizziness, I was annoyed. The next day I collapsed again. Now I was worried. What I didn’t know was that my brain was sloshing around inside my skull, causing a mild concussion. Nor did I know that I was in for a whole new world of weird and wonderful hallucinations."
Apr 13th 2021
EXTRACT: "Overall, our review has found that there isn’t evidence to back up the claims that veganism is good for your heart. But that is partly because there are few studies ....... But veganism may have other health benefits. Vegans have been found to have a healthier weight and lower blood glucose levels than those who consume meat and dairy. They are also less likely to develop cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. "
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Pollock’s universe, the universe of Mural, cannot be said to be a rational universe. Nor is it simply devoid of all sense. It is not a purely imaginary world, although in it everything is in a constant state of flux. Mural invokes one of the oldest questions of philosophy, a question going back to the Pre-Socratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus – namely, whether the nature of Reality constitutes unchanging permanence or constant movement and flux. For Pollock, the only thing that is truly unchanging is change itself. The only certainty is that all is uncertain."
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many present day politicians appear to have psychopathic and narcissistic traits too. It’s easy to spot such leaders, because they are always authoritarian, following hardline policies. They try to subvert democracy, to reduce the freedom of the press and clamp down on dissent. They are obsessed with national prestige, and often persecute minority groups. And they are always corrupt and lacking in moral principles."
Apr 6th 2021
EXTRACT: "This has led some to claim that not just half, but perhaps nearly all advertising money is wasted, at least online. There are similar results outside of commerce. One review of field experiments in political campaigning argued “the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero”. Zero!"