|Founder||Lord Mount Temple|
|Purpose||Activism; Anglo-German Friendship|
The Anglo-German Fellowship was a membership organisation that existed from 1935 to 1939, and aimed to build up friendship between the United Kingdom and Germany. It was sometimes perceived as being allied to Nazism. Previous groups in Britain with the same aims had been wound up when Adolf Hitler came to power.
In a 1935 speech, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) had called for a closer understanding of Germany in order to safeguard peace in Europe, and in response Sir Thomas Moore, a Conservative Member of Parliament, suggested setting up a study group of pro-German MPs. The AGF, which has been in gestation for about a year, was established in September 1935 with Lord Mount Temple as chairman, and political secretary and historian Philip Conwell-Evans and businessman Ernest Tennant as honorary secretaries. Tennant was a friend of Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Ambassador to Britain. The group's stated aims were to foster political, professional, commercial and sporting links with Germany, but Mount Temple stated publicly that membership of the society did not assume support for Nazism or anti-Semitism.
An application was made to the Board of Trade on 26 July 1935 for "a licence directing an association about to be formed under the name of The Anglo-German Fellowship". The objectives of the proposed association were given as:
To promote good fellowship between Great Britain and Germany and their respective peoples. To study and consider the problems affecting the relations existing between Great Britain and Germany, with a view to the enhancing and promoting friendship between such countries and their respective peoples.
The organisation was aimed at the influential in society, and the membership was initially led by businessmen keen to promote commercial links. Members included Bank of England director Frank Cyril Tiarks, Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, Prince von Bismarck, Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Norman, Geoffrey Dawson editor of The Times. "Corporate membership" was also available for leading companies who wished to show their support for co-operation with Germany and this was taken out by such leading organisations as Price Waterhouse, Unilever, Dunlop Rubber, Thomas Cook & Son, the Midland Bank and Lazard Brothers amongst others.
Several Members of Parliament, mostly from the Conservative Party, joined the group: they included Sir Peter Agnew, Lawrence Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland, Ernest Bennett, Sir Robert Bird, Robert Tatton Bower, Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, Marquess of Clydesdale, Robert Vaughan Gower, Thomas "Loel" Guinness, Norman Hulbert, Archibald James, Alfred Knox, John Macnamara, Sir Thomas Moore, Assheton Pownall, Frank Sanderson, Duncan Sandys, Admiral Murray Sueter, Charles Taylor and Ronald Tree. Members of the House of Lords to hold membership included Lord Brocket, Lord Galloway, the Earl of Glasgow, Lord Mount Temple, Lord Londonderry, Lord Nuffield, Lord Redesdale, Lord Rennell and the Duke of Wellington.
By 1937, the group seems to have had 347 members.
The AGF's sister organization in Berlin was the Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft. Neither group had an avowed mission to Nazify Britain. Instead, the two groups would unite, to host grand dinners at which leading German figures noted for their Anglophilia or their familial links to the United Kingdom, such as Rudolf Hess, von Ribbentrop, General Werner von Blomberg, the Duke of Brunswick and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, would be guests of honour.
However, the organisation did have a pro-Nazi leaning, as well as a number of fascist members. The spies Guy Burgess and Kim Philby, seeking to disguise their Communist affiliations, joined the AGF in the knowledge that it was widely perceived as allied to the far right.
Reaction to Nazi antisemitism
Although I have resigned from the chair of the Anglo-German Fellowship, I still remain a member of the fellowship. I wrote my letter of resignation yesterday, to be read at the council meeting this morning. In the letter I stated that I was resigning from the chairmanship because of the treatment of the Jews in Germany and the attitude of the Germans towards the Catholic and Lutheran communities. One hopes that times may become better in the future and that the good work of building up friendship between the two nations may be resumed.
The Council of the Anglo-German Fellowship met in London and released a statement:
The Council deeply regrets the events which have set back the development of better understanding between the two nations. The Council will, however, steadily prosecute its efforts to maintain contact with Germany as being the best means of supporting the Prime Minister in his policy of appeasement, and as being the most useful way of encouraging those friendly relations upon which peace depends...
At the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938 Ernest Tennant recorded that the feeling in the organisation was that they should close. However, they approached the UK Foreign Office for advice. Tennant reported that Lord Vansittart recommended their staying active, which they did until the outbreak of the Second World War.
However, this claim was later refuted by Vansittart. He responded that he queried the claim with the intermediary between the Fellowship and the Foreign Office, Conwell Evans, who reported that he had met with Lord Halifax on the matter.
In the House of Commons on 7 September 1939 Vyvyan Adams MP asked the Home Secretary what the Government is doing to "deal with" organisations such as the Fellowship. To this, Sir John Anderson reported to the house that "the Anglo-German Fellowship has entirely suspended its activities".
- Germany–United Kingdom relations
- Deutsch-Englische Gesellschaft
- The Link (UK organization)
- Anglo-German Friendship Committee, founded 1905
- Larman, Alexander (4 September 2022). "Coffee With Hitler by Charles Spicer review – polite society v the Nazis". The Observer. Retrieved 23 August 2023.
- Martin Pugh, "Hurrah For the Blackshirts!" Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the War, Pimlico, 2006, p. 269
- Douglas-Hamilton, James (1970). "Ribbentrop and War". Journal of Contemporary History. 5 (4): 45–63. doi:10.1177/002200947000500403.
- "Legal Notices". The Times. No. 47132. 2 August 1935. p. 3.
- Stevenson, William. A Man Called Intrepid . Globe Pequot, 2000. p. 232
- Pugh, "Hurrah For the Blackshirts!", p. 270
- Lownie, Andrew (4 October 2016). Stalin's Englishman: Guy Burgess, the Cold War, and the Cambridge Spy Ring (First ed.). St. Martin's Press.
- Waddington, G. T. (1997). "'An idyllic and unruffled atmosphere of complete Anglo-German misunderstanding': Aspects of the Operations of the Dienststelle Ribbentrop in Great Britain, 1934-1938". History. 82 (265): 44–72. doi:10.1111/1468-229X.00027.
- "German Treatment of Jews". The Times. London. 19 November 1938. p. 7.
I was resigning from the chairmanship because of the treatment of the Jews in Germany and the attitude of the Germans towards the Catholic and Lutheran communities.
- "German Treatment Of Jews". The Times. No. 48156. 19 November 1938. p. 7.
- "Anglo-German Fellowship". The Times. No. 48158. 22 November 1938. p. 11.
- Tennant, Ernest (1 March 1945). "Britain And Germany". The Times. No. 50080. p. 5.
- Vansittart. "Britain And Germany". The Times. No. 50081. p. 5.
- "LINK AND ANGLO-GERMAN FELLOWSHIP. (Hansard, 7 September 1939)". api.parliament.uk. Retrieved 11 September 2019.