Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brockley's most famous fascist

Brockley Central this week features a plaque on a local house. It reads simply 'Henry Williamson, writer, 1895-1977, lived here, 1902-1920. Presented by the Henry Williamson Society'. The writer is best known for his novel Tarka the Otter, which for many of those familiar with the film version must make him seem just a cuddly nature writer.

In fact, he was pretty much a life-long fascist who was denying the Holocaust up to his dying day. A quick google trawl using the terms "Henry Williamson" and "Hitler" will tell you all you need to know, if you can bear to look at the loony neo-nazi sites across the world that continue to sing Williamson's praises.

A member of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, he visited Germany in 1935 to attend the National Socialist Congress at Nuremberg. He wrote of Hitler as 'the great man across the Rhine whose life symbol is the happy child'. A regular contributor to the BUF paper, Action, he was briefly interned as a nazi sympathiser on the outbreak of war. While some British nazis hid their pro-Hitler position behind calls for peace with Germany, Williamson was unapologetic. On September 24, 1939, he wrote that Hitler was 'determined to do and create what is right. He is fighting evil. He is fighting for the future'.

Many pre-war fascists kept their heads down after the war, but not Williamson. When Oswald Mosley launched his Union Movement after the war, Williamson wrote for the first issue of its journal. In The Gale of the World, one of his final works published in 1969, Williamson puts forward the view that the Holocaust never happened, specifically that deaths in concentration camps were caused by diseases brought about by the destruction of all public utility systems by Allied bombing.

Williamson was born born in 1895 at 66 Braxfield Road in Brockley. In 1900 the family moved to 11 (now 21) Eastern Road, Brockley, where the plaque stands. He went to Colfe's school. But he moved to Devon in the 1920s and never returned to live in South East London, so I would be quite happy for other parts of the country to take credit for him - or rather the blame.


Anonymous said...

just the kind of person that would fit right into one or two of the (not the present) blogs in the area...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I was aware of any of this.

Anonymous said...

Communique from the Lutrinae Antifa Collective:

Once again the good name of otterkind is tarnished by its association with the fascist demagogue Henry Williamson.

It is tiresome to have to repeat what has long been on the historical record. When Tarka and the other comrades on the Devon front allowed Williamson to observe their lives in their 1920s they sincerely believed that it was in the interest of furthering understanding between your species and ours.

They had no idea that their very being was to be inserted into the social darwinist and racist oeuvre of a nazi numbskulll.

Otterkind has no borders - the waters of the world are our home. We utterly repudiate the attempt by nazis such as Williamson and Heidegger to conscript 'nature' into their volkisch, blood and soil racial nationalism.

We remember the terrible years of war and catastrophe that these fools unleashed on human and otterkind. Years in which river systems were damaged across Europe and beyond, making many otters destitute and homeless.

Now is the time for otters and humans to once again stand shoulder to shoulder. The struggle against fascism is hotting up - and is about to get a whole lot 'otter.

Ian said...

iirc 'Tarka the Otter' is in places quite a harsh book. Nature often is harsh, but the story ends with the otter's death. Williamson sees nothing beyond that - the otter really only lives so it can die.

The other well-known otter book and film, 'Ring of Bright Water' by Gavin Maxwell, also has the otter dying, but ends with new life in the form of the otter's offspring.

'Tarka the Otter' is a good book in many ways, but it's not a surprise that Williamson identified with a death-oriented ideology which inevitably destroyed what it claimed to love.

Transpontine said...

Yes there's whole cod-Nietzchean sub text of the pitiless struggle for survival. I don't think Tarka is a fascist novel, but there's a few warning signs!

Anonymous said...

didnt he dedicate the book to
"The Great Man over the Rhine"

In North Devon they have Willamson Close, Georgeham etc

North Devon is actually a "Progressive" area,Liberal MP's, strong labour and Communist Party.And the trade Union UNISON has it's excellent holiday centre at Croyde. How ironic that so few people know of Willamson's fascist views

irronic that local beaches (Croyde and Woolcombe) were used by US Military during WW2 to practice D Day landings - to smash Hitler and fascism.