1938 • Broadminded Mr Menzies

Menzies hopes to meet Hitler at Berchtesgaden, but such a meeting cannot be arranged. Instead, the papers say, “he will lunch at Wilhelmstrasse”, at the Reich headquarters. While Menzies is in Berlin, reports appear in British and Australian papers concerning concentration camps. … From London’s News Chronicle: “Jews Beaten to Death. More than 80 Jews died in the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, during July. … All were arrested on trumped-up charges.”

And from the Manchester Guardian:

38 floggings in camp SMH 38-08-05
[Sydney Morning Herald, 5 August 1938, quoting the Manchester Guardian]

Two days after the Guardian report, Menzies is back in London, where he can read these stories about the country he has just visited. Reporters ask for his impressions of Germany.

He avoids the question of Buchenwald, saying only, “The principles of the totalitarian state are not suited to the British genius, but I hope that we Britishers will not too easily accept the idea that because personal liberties are curtailed in Germany the result is necessarily a base materialism. …

“There is a great deal of really spiritual quality in the willingness of young Germans to become devoted to the service of the state.” [RED, page 67]

Menzies continues to make admiring remarks about Nazi Germany until a few weeks before he is obliged to declare war on Hitler. Meanwhile, a search of the Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and Melbourne Argus (on trove.nla.edu.au) turns up the peculiar fact that Menzies makes no reported mention of Jews, in Germany or anywhere else, throughout 1935–1945.

38 (35>45) menzies jews headings

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