Norman Ebbutt

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Norman Ebbutt (1894–1968) was a British journalist. In 1925 he was sent to Berlin, where he became chief correspondent for The Times, remaining in Germany until his expulsion by the Nazis in August 1937, following accusations of espionage.


In 1910, at the age of 16, Norman Ebbutt spent six months teaching English to adults at the School of languages in Duisburg, Germany. The following year he had his first job in journalism, becoming second correspondent in Paris for The Morning Leader (later Daily News and Leader). Before returning to England in 1913, he spent some time in Finland and Russia. He got a job with The Times in August 1914 but left a few months later to join the R.N.V.S. as temporary Lieutenant for the duration of the first world war, returning to The Times in 1919 to work in the foreign sub editors department. In 1925, he was sent to Berlin, where he became chief correspondent.

During his time in Berlin Norman Ebbutt became well acquainted with top government officials and counted Chancellor Heinrich Brüning among his friends. He was distrustful of Hitler and disliked the Nazis. In April 1933 he wrote in The Times: "Herr Hitler, in his speeches as Chancellor, has professed a peaceful foreign policy. But this does not prove that the underlying spirit of the new Germany is a peaceful one. Germany is inspired by the determination to recover all it has lost and has little hope of doing so by peaceful means. Influential Germans do not see ten years elapsing before the war they regard as natural or inevitable breaks out in Europe. One may hear five or six years mentioned."

Later journalist and author Douglas Reed described the article as "a masterpiece of careful political forecasting, based on expert knowledge." [1] However, Ebbutt felt his message about the real mood of Germany was not being fully conveyed to the British public, because of The Times and its editor Geoffrey Dawson.

American foreign correspondent William Shirer summed up: "The trouble for Ebbutt was that his newspaper, the most esteemed in England, would not publish much of what he reported. The Times in those days was doing its best to appease Hitler and to induce the British government to do likewise. The unpleasant truths that Ebbutt telephones nightly to London from Berlin were often kept out of the great newspaper"[2]

Ebbutt was eventually expelled under a supposed charge of "espionage" in retaliation to the expulsion of three German nationals from England. Ebbutt always denied the charge. Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, sent a warning to all other foreign journalists not to attend his departure at Berlin station, saying that their presence there would be an unfriendly act. Around fifty people turned up to say good bye to him.

After only a month back in England, Norman Ebbutt suffered a severe stroke, thus effectively ending his career as a journalist. He was 43 years old.


  1. ^ The Prophet at Home, Douglas Reed 1941 Johnathan Cape
  2. ^ The Nightmare Years, William L. Shirer 1984 Bantam Books