Francis Beckett

History, my old history teacher Dr Warren used to say, is what one historian copies from another. I see the story that Hitler fought bravely for his country in the first world war and was admired by his comrades, has just been exploded in a new book by Dr Thomas Weber of Aberdeen University.  The myth lasted nigh on a century - because it's what Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf.


And I'm sorry to see the myth that Oswald Mosley was not really very anti-Semitic is repeated in an otherwise excellent book about the Greene family (Shades of Greene by Jeremy Lewis).

Mosley sold the myth years ago to the gullible Robert Skidelsky. Lewis, quoting Skidelsky, writes that Mosley fell out with A.K. Chesterton, William Joyce and my father John Beckett because they "disliked the British Union of Facists' half-hearted anti-Semitism."

I studied every single available document on the dispute for my own book The Rebel Who Lost His Cause.  There is not a shred of evidence that differing views on anti-Semitism played any part at all. It rates not a word in the long, self-serving circular Mosley sent to his branches at the time.  It was only mentioned after the war, when anti-Semitism was so discredited that no one could profit from it any more.

The truth is that Mosley was a thoroughgoing anti-Semite. Mosley was the leader and inspirer of the BUF's Jew-baiting campaign. The man who said of the Abyssinian crisis "Stronger even than the stink of oil is the stink of the Jew" did not fall out with anyone over his opponents' anti-Semitism.