Gavin Mortimer Gavin Mortimer

How the Nazis pioneered ‘cancel culture’

'Nazi' was sprayed on a statue of Nancy Astor in Plymouth last week (photo: Getty)

Two well-known women were degraded last week as Britain continues to be ethically cleansed. The first was Nancy Astor, whose statue in Plymouth was dubbed with the word ‘Nazi’.

The second was Baroness Nicholson, honorary vice-president of the Booker Prize Foundation, who was relieved of her duties after her views on trans issues and gay marriage were judged insufficiently respectful. ‘The issues are complex but our principles are clear,’ the Foundation said in justifying their decision. ‘We deplore racism, homophobia and transphobia and do not discriminate on any grounds.’

Is there any difference between those who defiled Astor and those who demeaned Nicholson? Only, it would appear, that the latter are more civil in their intolerance.

Astor’s statue was inaugurated only last November, to honour her achievements as a feminist, social reformer and the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament. It was vandalised because of rumours she had been sympathetic to Nazism and hostile to Jews in the 1930s. She had dealt with both accusations in a letter to the press in March 1938.

Having rubbished suggestions that she was a member of any pro-Hitler ‘Cliveden Set’, Astor then addressed the second charge: ‘I must also refute your accusation that I anti-Jewish,’ she stated. ‘It is quite untrue, and has caused pain not only to me, but to many of my very good friends who are themselves Jews.’

The blame for these scurrilous rumours, she added, lay in ‘the Communistic propaganda circulated throughout the world’.

While similar propaganda is driving today’s purge of Britain’s past and present, often the tactics deployed were actually perfected by the Nazis. Within months of Hitler’s power grab in 1933 the German book trade had issued a blacklist of more than 200 authors, and university towns made pyres of their works and joyously set them ablaze.

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