The Right Honourable Arnold Hiller, M.P
By Chris Oakley
Includes material previously posted at Othertimelines.com
Summary: In the first four chapters of this series we traced Arnold Hillerís rise to power; his crushing of Ernest Romeís SA and the British teachersí strike; his establishment of an alliance with Italyís Benito Mussolini; his 1936 occupation of Ireland; and the outbreak of the Second World War. In this installment weíll deal with Hillerís reaction to the independence movements that robbed Britain of much of its Commonwealth, chart the first days of World War II, and start to analyze the BNSPís initial steps toward its "final solution"1 to alleged Irish terrorism against Britain.
Anyone who had made even a cursory study of Arnold Hillerís political career could have predicted that he would react badly to the news of Australia and New Zealandís declaration of independence from Britain. And sure enough, when Foreign Secretary Mosley informed him of John Curtinís decision to sever Australiaís ties to the rest of the British Commonwealth, the British prime minister burst into a volcanic fury. "I did not become prime minister to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire!" he raged, pounding his desk and swearing revenge on everyone whoíd had a hand in Curtinís declaration of independence.2 Curtin was a particular target of Prime Minister Hillerís wrath-- not only had the Australian leader been the instigator of Australiaís breakaway from the Commonwealth, but he was initiating talks with New Zealand, Canada, and the United States with an eye towards forming a new alliance of English-speaking nations to counteract British power overseas.
India was still nominally under British control, but that couldnít last forever; Jawahalral Nehru and Mohatmas K. Gandhi, the two most prominent leaders in that countryís pro-independence movement, were gaining support among the Indian masses day by day and the Indian parliament was considering a motion to declare full independence from the Commonwealth. Some predominantly Muslim sections of India hadnít even waited for the debate on the motion to be settled-- these areas, located in the countryís northwestern and northeastern regions, had seceded from the rest of the nation to form the Republic of Pakistan.
In the Caribbean a number of islands that had previously been British possessions joined Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in seceding from the Commonwealth; these islands, particularly Bermuda, were quick to accept US offers of protection against British attempts to reclaim them by force. At one time isolationist sentiment among some of his fellow countrymen might have dissuaded President Roosevelt from making such an offer, but that time had faded into memory in the face of the BNSP regimeís occupation of Ireland.
Even in South Africa, where popular sentiment still largely favored Hiller, pro-independence movements were winning followers much to the frustration of authorities in Johannesburg. One of the leading figures of that movement was a University of South Africa law student whose name, three decades later, would be synonymous with the battle to abolish apartheid-- Nelson Mandela. Mandela, son of a Zulu chieftain, had long disagreed with Arnold Hiller's notions of white racial supremacy, but it wasn't until the Second World War broke out that he was motivated to start actively opposing the BNSP presence in his homeland. Once he took up the mantle of protest, however, it would be years before he put it down again...
Though the SS and MI6 were Hiller's most effective means of chilling dissent in Britain, he also made liberal use of the D-notice, a form of official communication in which newspaper editors were requested not to publish certain items due to national security concerns. This system had existed since 1912(and a modified version of it would be re-introduced in the mid-1980s), but it was under Hiller's regime that D-notices were refined into the instrument of press control that made the BNSP the dominant political institution in Britain until the end of the Second World War.
Unfortunately for the prime minister, however, there were limits to what the D-notice could do. One thing it conspicuously failed to achieve was the silencing of former Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill; despite the Hiller regime's best efforts to quiet his legendary voice, Churchill was still speaking out against the BNSP and the prime minister, causing untold headaches for both.
Churchill was particularly critical of Hillerís decision to go to war with France, a country he had hoped Britain would cultivate as an ally in what he deemed an inevitable showdown with Ludendorffís militaristic Third Reich. Upon learning of the submarine incident and Hillerís subsequent declaration of war against the French, the Tory leader was heard to make this grim prediction: "If the British Commonwealth and its empire should last for a thousand years, men will still say, ĎThis was their darkest hourí."3
Although it had been years since Churchill had held any cabinet posts, he was still a Member of Parliament, so legally there wasnít much Hiller could do to stop him. Or so it seemed until Henry Hamill, on the eve of Hillerís first wartime radio address to the British public, reminded him of a newly passed security rule called Defence Regulation 18B; under this act, people suspected of sympathizing with France, the United States or the Soviet Union could be interned on Hillerís authority for what were deemed "acts prejudicial to public safety in time of war".4
Churchillís public statements in the years between the rise of Ludendorffís Third Reich and the outbreak of the Second World War certainly made it easier for the Hiller government to make a case that the ex-Lord of the Admiralty posed a danger to public safety. When Ludendorff and his militarist clique had first seized power in Germany, Churchill had said: "Thank God for the French army!" And in spite of pleas from some of his close associates to temper his more pro-American statements, the inveterate Tory-- whose own mother was American --had continued to speak out in favor of mending fences with Washington.
But it was left to Joseph Gable to set the stage for Churchillís eventual detention. In a radio address made one week after Hillerís declaration of war on France, the BBC director and BNSP propaganda chief delivered a blistering, cynical rant that essentially accused the ex-Lord of the Admiralty of being an American spy. To further drive home the point that Churchill was an enemy of the British state, Gable read verbatim a speech the former naval minister was supposed to have delivered before Parliament the next day which called the Hiller governmentís break with Washington Ďa disastrous mistakeí and urged an immediate end to hostilities with France followed by the concluding of an anti-German alliance pact.
On October 12th, 1937, Churchill was arrested under Defense Regulation 18B; because of D-notices, there was little mention of his arrest in the mainstream British press. What few items were printed told the British public mainly what Gable wanted them to hear-- that the ex- Lord of the Admiralty was an arch-criminal whose detention was fully justified.
It took an independent Swiss reporter with a nose for reliable off-the-record sources and a keenly developed sense of outrage to bring to light the truth about the circumstances behind Churchillís arrest. Shortly after Churchill was imprisoned, the reporter made contact with one of the Scotland Yard detectives whoíd participated in the arrest; he told the Swiss journalist quite a different story from the official line being promulgated by Gable and his allies in the British press. Not the least of this detectiveís revelations was that the speech in which Churchill had advocated an early end to the war with France had been leaked to Gable by a staff member in Churchillís own office and doctored to show Churchill in the worst possible light.
Within days of this clandestine interview, the story of the altered Churchill speech had been broken to the outside, aided in no small measure by American broadcaster William L. Shirerís nightly news bulletins from the CBS Radio News European bureauís headquarters in Paris.5 Although it would take a long time for the full truth about Churchillís detention to become clear to the British people, the rest of the world was quickly seeing the light-- and that would cause more than a few headaches for the BNSP leader and his comrades as the war progressed...
In occupied Ireland, meanwhile, William Joyce-- who by then, in addition to all his other responsibilities in the Hiller regime, had taken on the task of stamping out both real and imagined enemies of British rule --had drafted a series of proposals for neutralizing what he was convinced was an imminent terrorist threat. He wasnít entirely wrong in presuming the possibility of an armed uprising-- whatever individual Irish citizens might have thought of the British before Hiller came to power, they almost unanimously detested the Hiller regime with a passion and sought to tear it down by any means they could find. However, it would take at least another two years before any meaningful resistance to the occupiers could be organized.
Joyce, however, was not one to take risks. In mid-October of 1937, as British troops were expanding their foothold along the French coast and the Royal Navy was challenging the French Mediterranean fleet for control of the waters off North Africa, Joyce hosted a meeting in his Dublin headquarters with Henry Hamill and Ronald Hatcher to pitch his ideas for what he called "a final solution to the Irish question". One of his ideas was to construct a series of fortified concentration camps where those suspect of planning or committing acts of revolt against British occupation authorities could be detained-- and if necessary, executed.
He also advocated the formal of special tactical squads that could go into suspected partisan strongholds to eliminate the problem at its source. These units, or "Special Commandos" as he called them, would be authorized to wage war on the partisans using their own guerrilla tactics against them; when needed, RAF dive bombers would blast out particularly stubborn pockets of resistance.
Hatcher and Hamill were impressed by what theyíd heard, and quickly made arrangements for Joyce to debrief Hiller on these proposals at a special conference in the town of Leamington Spa. That conference would plant the seeds for the most monstrous genocide of the 20th century...
Meanwhile, Herman Gearyís tireless efforts to enhance the RAFís tactical and strategic bombing capabilities in advance of the start of World War II were paying huge dividends. The British bomber fleet had from the first hours of hostilities inflicted one punishing blow after another on the French armed forces and the industrial complex that supported it, while fighters like the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane provided invaluable tactical support to Hillerís troops in the field and made mincemeat of the inadequately equipped French fighter squadrons.
Among the bombersí favorite targets: Paris, which Hiller regarded as "the most decadent city in a decadent country"6. Within hours of the official British declaration of war on France, theyíd started raiding the City of Lights on a daily basis and continued without letup ever since. Their most devastating raid, however, would come on the evening of November 1st, 1937. That night Hiller, galled by French prime minister Leon Blumís continuing refusal to capitulate, ordered Geary to teach the French a lesson about the cost of defying the British Empire.
To Be Continued
1 The phrase was first coined by Ronald Hatcher in a security memo he sent to Henry Hamill five weeks before the Second World War began.
2Further details of Hillerís tirade appear in Joachim Festís 1974 book Hiller: A Study In Tyranny.
3The full story of Churchillís reaction is told in his 1958 autobiography The Hinge Of Fate.
4Quoted from the official text of Defence Regulation 18.
5Shirerís experiences during this time would later become the subject of his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography Paris Diary.
6My Fight devotes at least three full chapters to Hillerís disgust with the French capital; these chapters caused the book to be banned in France long after the war ended.