Henry Maxence Cavendish Drummond Wolff

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Henry Drummond Wolff
Member of Parliament
for Basingstoke
In office
1934–1935
Preceded by Viscount Lymington
Succeeded by Patrick Donner
Majority 6,885
Personal details
Born Henry Maxence Cavendish Drummond Wolff
(1899-07-16)July 16, 1899
Died February 8, 1982(1982-02-08) (aged 82)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Relations Henry Drummond Wolff (grandfather)
Profession Industrialist

Henry Maxence Cavendish Drummond Wolff (16 July 1899 - 8 February 1982), commonly known as Henry Drummond Wolff, was a British Conservative Party politician. Drummond Wolff was known for his close ties to the far right.

Political career[edit]

From early in his political career Drummond Wolff's outlook was defined by his twin hatreds for laissez-faire capitalism and socialism, opinions that would lead him to become sympathetic towards fascism as an alternative.[1] In 1934 Viscount Lymington resigned as MP for Basingstoke, after becoming disillusioned with party politics.[2] Nonetheless he helped to ensure that his successor as Conservative candidate would be Drummond Wolff, a close political associate.[2] Drummond Wolff was duly elected in the resulting by-election although he held the seat for only a year, resigning ostensibly due to ill health, although in fact because he shared Lymington's lack of faith in democracy.[2] Nonetheless both men were involved in the selection of the next MP, Patrick Donner, who also had close links to the far right.[2] A notorious supporter of anti-Semitism[2] and known for supporting the British Union of Fascists (BUF),[3] Drummond Wolff also donated £1,000 to the BUF.[4] During his brief parliamentary career he had spoken in support of Oswald Mosley, along with other BUF-linked Tories such as Patrick Hannon, John Moore-Brabazon, Vice-Admiral E. A. Taylor and Thomas Moore.[5] Correspondence between Drummond Wolff and an election agent also indicates that before Donner's selection as Conservative candidate for the 1935 general election could be ratified he had had to be interviewed by Oswald Mosley, with the Basingstoke Conservative Party as a whole closely linked to the BUF.[6]

Such was the notoriety of Drummond Wolff with regards to his support for Nazism that he was used as an unofficial intermediary with Nazi Germany during the late 1930s.[2] He was one of a number of leading British figures who regularly visited Germany in 1939 to hold talks with representatives of the Nazi government in an effort to avert war. Officially such talks were not sanctioned by the government but in fact they were generally arranged with the support of Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, his Undersecretary R.A. Butler or even Neville Chamberlain himself.[7] In 1939 Conservative Central Office operative and former MI5 spy Sir Joseph Ball, acting on behalf of Chamberlain, facilitated four lengthy visits to Germany for Drummond Wolff to hold such meetings, with Drummond Wolff holding negotiations with Helmuth Wohlthat and Walther Hewel, political advisers to Hermann Goering and Adolf Hitler respectively, amongst others.[3] In the last of these trips Drummond Wolff even held talks with Goering himself.[3] The meeting accomplished little however as by this point Drummond Wolff was so pro-Nazi that he would go along with the views presented to him and would simply present the Nazi's views to the government on his return rather than suggest compromises.[3] A leading industrialist, his visits to Germany were excused as being on behalf of the Council of Empire Industries Association, of which he was a leading member.[8] He had become a member of the committee of this group, which sought to promote trade between the countries within the British Commonwealth and the British Empire, in 1934.[9]

Although close to the BUF Drummond Wolff nonetheless maintained some independence and as war loomed he joined Arthur Bryant in establishing Union and Reconstruction, a propaganda organisation that aimed to agitate against any proposed war with Germany. One of a number of similar movements active at the time, it had little influence outside far right circles.[10] He would argue that war with Germany was being promoted by the press, which he claimed was controlled Jews and leftists, as well as by the war capitalists of the United States and by the Soviet Union, whom he argued saw war as an opportunity for world revolution.[1] He also argued that a war against Germany was not winnable, stating that the country could not be attacked by land or sea and so an air war would ensue, something that he felt the Luftwaffe would inevitably win.[1] As war loomed large Drummond Wolff began to moderate his pro-Nazi stance and even published a paper in which he argued that, as a means of avoiding war, Britain could help foment a revolution within Germany, not as a means of removing Hitler but rather of distracting him from international concerns and forcing him to focus internally.[11] The Duke of Westminster, a staunch of opponent of war with Germany, was impressed by Drummond Wolff's plan and read it to influential anti-war activists but nothing came of the plan.[11] The group became dormant soon after the outbreak of war and Drummond Wolff withdrew from politics.[12]

Personal life[edit]

He was the grandson of Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, himself also a Conservative MP.[13]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dorril, Stephen, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, Penguin: 2007
  • Newton, Scott, Profits of Peace: The Political Economy of Anglo-German Appeasement: The Political Economy of Anglo-German Appeasement, Oxford University Press: 1996
  • Pugh, Martin, "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!": Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico: 2006

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Newton, p. 152
  2. ^ a b c d e f Pugh, p. 148
  3. ^ a b c d Pugh, p. 283
  4. ^ Dorril, p. 278
  5. ^ Dorril, p. 299
  6. ^ Dorril, p. 364
  7. ^ Pugh, p. 282
  8. ^ Donald Cameron Watt, How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938-1939, Random House, 1989, p. 396
  9. ^ Newton, p. 151
  10. ^ Pugh, p. 290
  11. ^ a b Dorril, p. 470
  12. ^ Pugh, p. 312
  13. ^ Henry Drummond Wolff
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Viscount Lymington
Member of Parliament for Basingstoke
1934 - 1935
Succeeded by
Patrick Donner