Arnold Leese

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Arnold Spencer Leese
Arnold Leese.jpg
Leese at an unspecified date
Arnold Spencer Leese

Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England
Died18 January 1956(1956-01-18) (aged 77–78)
London, England
Alma materGiggleswick School
Known forAnti-Semitic writer and activist
Notable work
A Treatise on the One-Humped Camel in Health and in Disease (1927), My Irrelevant Defence (1938), Out of Step: Events in the Two Lives of an Anti-Jewish Camel Doctor (1951)
Home townStamford, Lincolnshire
Political partyBritish Fascists
Imperial Fascist League

Arnold Spencer Leese (1878–1956) was a British fascist politician and veterinary surgeon. Leese was initially prominent due to his veterinary work, in particular, his study of camels. A virulent anti-Semite, Leese led his own fascist movement and he was also a prolific author and publisher of polemics both before and after the Second World War. He has been described as being "central to fascism's rebirth" in the United Kingdom after 1945, acting as an intellectual mentor to Colin Jordan and John Tyndall, the "most significant figures on the extreme right since the 1960s".[1]


Leese was born in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, England and educated at Giggleswick School.[2][3] An only child, his childhood was characterised by loneliness.[4] Leese was a nephew of Sir Joseph Francis Leese, 1st Baronet.[5]

After qualifying as a veterinary surgeon, he accepted a post in 1907 in India, where he became an expert on the camel.[6] He had previously worked in the East End of London.[citation needed] He worked in India for six years before becoming Camel Specialist for the East Africa Protectorate of the British Empire.[7] He published articles on the camel and its maladies, the first appearing in The Journal of Tropical Veterinary Science in 1909. He was recognised as a leading authority on the camel.[4] A camel parasite, Thelazia leesei was named after him.[citation needed]

He was commissioned in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 1914,[8] serving on the Western Front and in the Middle East. Captain Leese returned to England where he continued his practice, publishing A Treatise on the One-Humped Camel in Health and in Disease (1927), which would remain a standard work in India for fifty years.[7] He settled in Stamford, Lincolnshire, practising as a vet until retirement in 1927.[6]

Move to fascism[edit]

In around 1924, after writing a pamphlet entitled Fascism for Old England, he joined the British Fascists, about the same time Leese also became interested in Italian fascism.[9] In Stamford, Leese became close to one of his neighbours, the economist Arthur Kitson, who was also a member of The Britons. Kitson persuaded Leese that control of money was the key to power and further convinced him that money was controlled by the Jews. Kitson supplied Leese with a copy of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.[9] An animal lover, Leese also claimed that the kosher style of slaughter practised in Judaism influenced his anti-semitism.[10] He also joined the Centre International d'Études sur la Fascisme, an Italian-led group aimed at the promotion of fascism internationally, and served as its British Correspondent.[9] He was elected as a councillor in Stamford that year, along with fellow fascist Henry Simpson.[9] In his autobiography, Leese wrote "we were the first constitutionally elected Fascists in England". He was generally unsatisfied with the policies of the group, however, dismissing them as "conservatism with knobs on".[11]

Imperial Fascist League[edit]

Leese left the British Fascists in 1928 and, having retired to Guildford, established his own Imperial Fascist League (IFL) the following year.[12] The movement was initially modelled more along the lines of Italian fascism but under the influence of Henry Hamilton Beamish it soon came to focus on anti-semitism.[12] The IFL and its extensive publishing interests were funded out of Leese's own pocket.[4] In 1932, Oswald Mosley approached Leese with the aim of absorbing the IFL into his own British Union of Fascists and, while relations between the two men were initially cordial (Leese had addressed a meeting on 27 April 1932 chaired by Mosley on the theme of "The Blindness of British Politics under the Jew-Money Power"),[13] Leese soon attacked Mosley for his failure to deal with the "Jewish question", eventually labelling Mosley's group as "kosher fascists".[14]

Leese's anti-semitism had by that point become his defining political characteristic and came to take on an increasingly conspiratorial and hysterical tone. This increased after Leese visited Germany and met Julius Streicher, subsequently remodelling his journal The Fascist along the lines of Der Stürmer.[15] His anti-semitism took on the theme of the Aryan race as the creator of civilisation and culture and claimed that the Aryan was in a permanent struggle with the Jew, the outcome of which would determine the future completely.[16] His views, which extended to proposing as early as 1935 the mass murder of Jews by use of gas chambers,[17] earned him a prison sentence in 1936 when he was indicted along with fellow IFL member Walter Whitehead on six counts relating to two articles published in the July issue of The Fascist (the IFL newspaper) entitled "Jewish Ritual Murder," which later appeared as a pamphlet. He was convicted and was jailed for six months in lieu of a fine for causing a public mischief.[18] On his release, he edited another pamphlet entitled "My Irrelevant Defence", a lengthy diatribe in defence of his earlier claim, for which he had faced charges, that Jewish Passover celebrations included the sacrifice of Christian children.[19] He also used materials distributed by the Welt-Dienst news service headed by Ulrich Fleischhauer and wrote for it.[citation needed]

He was one of the last leaders of the fascist movement to be interned in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the Second World War under the Defence Regulation 18B. Leese, who claimed that his primary loyalty was to Britain, had been somewhat critical of Adolf Hitler since the start of the war and reacted with bitter anger when an internment order was released for him in June 1940.[20] Having set up a series of hideouts from which he published several pamphlets critical of the war, he evaded capture until 9 November 1940.[21] Still enraged by what he saw as a slur on his patriotism, Leese violently resisted arrest and smashed up his holding cell.[20] Leese saw the war as a "Jew's War" but strongly repudiated the Hitler-Stalin Pact and also castigated the Nazis for their invasion of Norway.[22] (Leese personally described his own political creed as "Racial Fascism" and disliked the term "National Socialism" as used by the Nazis, although he and other members of the IFL supported Nazi anti-semitism). He was released from detention in 1944 on health grounds following a major operation.[23]

Post-war activity[edit]

Soon after the Second World War, Leese set up his own "Jewish Information Bureau" and began to publish his own journal, Gothic Ripples, which was largely concerned with attacking the Jews.[23] He believed there were 2.5m Jews in Britain at the time, seven times the actual number.[24] The magazine also contained a strongly anti-black racist bent, with a regular column entitled "Nigger Notes" appearing.[25] Gothic Ripples was an early proponent of what would come to be known as Holocaust denial, noting in 1953 that "The fable of the slaughter of six million Jews by Hitler has never been tackled by Gothic Ripples because we take the view that we would have liked Hitler even better if the figure had been larger; we are so 'obsessed with anti-semitism' that we believe that as long as the destruction was done in a humane manner, it was to the advantage of everyone ... if it had been true. However, it wasn't".[26] Leese described the Nuremberg Trials as a "Jewish and Masonic affair, like the procedure in this country under '18.B'; it is an act of Revenge".[27]

Leese returned to prison in 1947 when, along with seven other former members of the IFL, he was given a one-year sentence for helping escaped German prisoners of war[23] who had been members of the Waffen SS.[28] In 1948, Leese formed the National Workers Movement in London.[29] In 1951, he published his autobiography Out of Step: Events in the Two Lives of an Anti-Jewish Camel Doctor.

A mentor of the young Colin Jordan, Leese left Jordan his Holland Park house (74 Princedale Road, London W11) upon his death (although his widow retained the use of it as a sanctuary), which, known for a short spell as Arnold Leese House, would become Jordan's base of operations.[30]


  • Leese, Arnold Spencer (1938). Igirisu seikai ni okaru Yudayajin no seiryoku. Yudaya mondai shiryō ; dai 13-< >-shū (in Japanese and English). Dairen: Mantetsu Chōsabu, Shōwa 13. LCCN 72802168.
  • Leese, Arnold Spencer (1938). My irrelevant defence: being meditations inside gaol and out on Jewish ritual murder. London: The I. F. L. Printing and Publishing Co. LCCN 46029653.
  • Leese, Arnold Spencer (1951). Out of step: events in two lives of an anti-Jewish camel-doctor. Guildford, UK. LCCN 53025974.
  • Leese, Arnold Spencer (1964) [My irrelevant defence originally published 1938]. Judaism in Action (New and enlarged ed.). LCCN 2001373913.


  1. ^ Hillman, Nicholas. "'Tell Me Chum, in Case I Got It Wrong. What Was It We Were Fighting during the War?' The Re-emergence of British Fascism, 1945-58." Contemporary British History 15.4 (2001)2, 16
  2. ^ "I was sent to Giggleswick School, Settle, Yorkshire, in which I spent five years receiving an apology for an education" Out of Step by A. S. Leese
  3. ^ 1891 Census for Giggleswick Grammar School RG12/3493
  4. ^ a b c Richard Thurlow, Fascism in Britain A History, 1918–1985, Basil Blackwell, 1987, p. 71
  5. ^ Thomas Linehan, British Fascism, 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture, Manchester University Press, 2000, ISBN 0719050243, p. 71
  6. ^ a b Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 96
  7. ^ a b Martin Pugh, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006, p. 69
  8. ^ London Gazette Issue 29408 published on the 17 December 1915, page 5
  9. ^ a b c d Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 97
  10. ^ Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 84
  11. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 86
  12. ^ a b Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 98
  13. ^ Robert Skidelsky Oswald Mosley, Macmillan 1975, p. 291
  14. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 99
  15. ^ Rbert Benewick, Political Violence & Public Order, Allen Lane, 1968, pp. 45–46
  16. ^ Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, pp. 89–90
  17. ^ Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century, Continuum, 2000, p. 183
  18. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 100
  19. ^ Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 76
  20. ^ a b Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 169
  21. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 370
  22. ^ Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 170
  23. ^ a b c Benewick, Political Violence, p. 47
  24. ^ Hillman, Nicholas. "'Tell Me Chum, in Case I Got It Wrong. What Was It We Were Fighting during the War?' The Re-emergence of British Fascism, 1945-58." Contemporary British History 15.4 (2001) 15
  25. ^ Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 256
  26. ^ Hillman, Nicholas. "'Tell Me Chum, in Case I Got It Wrong. What Was It We Were Fighting during the War?' The Re-emergence of British Fascism, 1945-58." Contemporary British History 15.4 (2001) 16
  27. ^ Hillman, Nicholas. "'Tell Me Chum, in Case I Got It Wrong. What Was It We Were Fighting during the War?' The Re-emergence of British Fascism, 1945-58." Contemporary British History 15.4 (2001) 15
  28. ^ Martin Walker, The National Front, Fontana, 1977, p. 27
  29. ^ "Arnold Leese, Notorious Anti-semite, Organizes New National Workers Party in Britain", Jewish Telegraphic Agency 11/2/1948
  30. ^ Walker, The National Front, p. 28

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