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|Purpose||Political organisation and publishing instrument|
Henry Hamilton Beamish|
John Henry Clarke
The Britons was an English anti-Semitic and anti-immigration organisation founded in July 1919 by Henry Hamilton Beamish. The organisation published pamphlets and propaganda under the imprint names of the Judaic Publishing Co., and subsequently the Britons Publishing Society. These entities engaged primarily in disseminating anti-Semitic literature and rhetoric in the United Kingdom, and bore hallmarks of the British fascist movement. Imprints under the label of the Judaic Publishing Co. exist for the years 1920, 1921, and 1922.
The scholar Sharman Kadish writes:
The group was founded in London in 1919 by Henry Hamilton Beamish, who had developed an antisemitic viewpoint when he spent time in South Africa. Beamish wrote The Britons' constitution and the group was launched at a meeting of 14 people chaired by John Henry Clarke. The group held monthly meetings in London and launched its own publishing imprint The Judaic Publishing Company Ltd which was to be the source of much anti-Semitic and conspiratorial literature. Beamish became involved with the Silver Badge Party, although by 1919 he had left Britain altogether after losing a libel case brought by Sir Alfred Mond and thereafter became a 'travelling salesman for anti-Semitism'.
Despite the disappearance of Beamish, the Britons continued under John Henry Clarke, a homeopath who served as Chairman and Vice-President (with the Southern Rhodesia-based Beamish continuing as President) from the formation of the group until his death in 1931. Clarke helped the party to work with the right wing of the Conservative Party, and the Britons attracted such members as Arthur Kitson and Brigadier-General R.B.D. Blakeney.
The group claimed that its only aim was to get rid of all the Jews in Britain by forcing them to emigrate to Palestine. Only those who could prove English blood up to grandparent level were allowed membership (despite the name 'Britons'). Eschewing the street politics of predecessors such as the British Brothers League, group activities centred mainly on publishing, with journals such as Jewry Uber Alles, The British Guardian and The Investigator (which began publishing in 1937 and used a swastika as its emblem with the motto 'For Crown and Country, Blood and Soil) appearing regularly. These journals featured contributions from some of the most fanatical and notorious anti-Semites, including George Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe, and Joseph Banister as well as translations of work by Nazi race theorist Alfred Rosenberg.
They also published a number of anti-Semitic books on the topic, including a translation allegedly by Victor E. Marsden into the English language, of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is to be noted that Marsden had died on 28 October 1920. The Britons had ceased publication of their previous version of this imprint, and Norman Cohn states that the Marsden version first came out in print in 1921. However, the earliest imprint bearing the name of Marsden and held by the British Library bears the date of 1922, and the Library's online catalogue shows that it was imprinted by the Britons Publishing Society. There is no scholarly work on Marsden, a former correspondent for The Morning Post, and there has not yet been an accounting of how precisely his name came to be associated with the publication of The Protocols. And it is at this time that this notorious text was exposed as a plagiarism, conclusively, in August 1921, by Philip Graves. The previous translation was made allegedly by George Shanks for Eyre & Spottiswoode. Researcher Nick Toczek claims that for the sum of £30 The Britons purchased a set of printing plates and the publishing rights to The Jewish Peril: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion from Eyre & Spottiswoode. The Britons continued to publish and sell The Protocols for the rest of their existence, eventually producing 85 editions. Known from 1922 onwards as the Britons Publishing Company, this separate publishing arm produced material for such groups as the British Union of Fascists and other UK anti-Semitic and fascist organizations until 1975.
Short of funding, The Britons drifted into inactivity after Clarke's death in 1931 and was then run by solicitor James D. Dell until 1949.It was largely inactive during World War II, although it was later revived first by Anthony Gittens and then by A. F. X. Baron. The group launched a new anti-Semitic far-right publication Free Britain which featured contributions from Arnold Leese and Colin Jordan. but was largely defunct as a political organization by the 1950s.
- Anonymous translator (George Shanks), The Jewish Peril, (a.k.a. the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion) (London: The Britons, 1920)
- Robert Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, (London: 1969)
- Sharman Kadish, Bolsheviks and British Jews, The Anglo-Jewish Community, Britain and the Russian Revolution, London, (1992)
- Gisela C. Lebzelter, Political Anti-Semitism in England 1918-1939 (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1978)
- Ibid., (London: Macmillan, in association with St. Antony’s College, Oxford, 1978)
- Nick Toczek, Haters, Baiters and Would-be Dictators: Anti-Semitism and the UK Far Right (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016)
- Toczek, Nick (2016). Haters, Baiters and Would-be Dictators: Anti-Semitism and the UK Far Right (Abingdon: Routledge).
- Paul Cox, 1999, Mad Dogs and Englishman, Part One: The so-called fifth column