Showing posts with label Thwarted. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thwarted. Show all posts

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Don Juanism by Albert Camus

"There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional.”

- Camus

 "Faust craved worldly goods; the poor man had only to stretch out his hand. It already amounted to selling his soul when he was unable to gladden it.  

As for satiety, Don Juan insists upon it, on the contrary. 

If he leaves a woman it is not absolutely because he has ceased to desire her. 

A beautiful woman is always desirable. 

But he desires another, and no, this is not the same thing.

Don Juanism
If it were sufficient to love, things would be too easy. The more one loves, the stronger the absurd grows. It is not through lack of love that Don Juan goes from woman to woman. It is ridiculous to represent him as a mystic in quest of total love. But it is indeed because he loves them with the same passion and each time with his whole self that he must repeat his gift and his profound quest. Whence each woman hopes to give him what no one has ever given him. Each time they are utterly wrong and merely manage to make him feel the need of that repetition. “At last,” exclaims one of them, “I have given you love.” Can we be surprised that Don Juan laughs at this? “At last? No,” he says, “but once more.” 

Why should it be essential to love rarely in order to love much?
Is Don Juan melancholy? This is not likely. I shall barely have recourse to the legend. That laugh, the conquering insolence, that playfulness and love of the theater are all clear and joyous. Every healthy creature tends to multiply himself. So it is with Don Juan.

But, furthermore, melancholy people have two reasons for being so: they don’t know or they hope. 

Don Juan knows and does not hope. 

He reminds one of those artists who know their limits, never go beyond them, and in that precarious interval in which they take their spiritual stand enjoy all the wonderful ease of masters. And that is indeed genius: the intelligence that knows its frontiers. Up to the frontier of physical death Don Juan is ignorant of melancholy. The moment he knows, his laugh bursts forth and makes one forgive everything. He was melancholy at the time when he hoped. Today, on the mouth of that woman he recognizes the bitter and comforting taste of the only knowledge. Bitter? Barely: that necessary imperfection that makes happiness perceptible!
It is quite false to try to see in Don Juan a man brought up on Ecclesiastes. For nothing is vanity to him except the hope of another life. He proves this because he gambles that other life against heaven itself. Longing for desire killed by satisfaction, that commonplace of the impotent man, does not belong to him. That is all right for Faust, who believed in God enough to sell himself to the devil. For Don Juan the thing is simpler. Molina’s Burlador ever replies to the threats of hell: “What a long respite you give me!” What comes after death is futile, and what a long succession of days for whoever knows how to be alive! 

Faust craved worldly goods; the poor man had only to stretch out his hand. It already amounted to selling his soul when he was unable to gladden it. As for satiety, Don Juan insists upon it, on the contrary. If he leaves a woman it is not absolutely because he has ceased to desire her. A beautiful woman is always desirable. But he desires another, and no, this is not the same thing.
This life gratifies his every wish, and nothing is worse than losing it. This madman is a great wise man. But men who live on hope do not thrive in this universe where kindness yields to generosity, affection to virile silence, and communion to solitary courage. And all hasten to say: “He was a weakling, an idealist or a saint.” One has to disparage the greatness that insults.
People are sufficiently annoyed (or that smile of complicity that debases what it admires) by Don Juan’s speeches and by that same remark that he uses on all women. But to anyone who seeks quantity in his joys, the only thing that matters is efficacy. What is the use of complicating the passwords that have stood the test? No one, neither the woman nor the man, listens to them, but rather to the voice that pronounces them. They are the rule, the convention, and the courtesy. After they are spoken the most important still remains to be done. Don Juan is already getting ready for it. Why should he give himself a problem in morality? He is not like Milosz’s Manara, who damns himself through a desire to be a saint. Hell for him is a thing to be provoked. He has but one reply to divine wrath, and that is human honor: “I have honor,” he says to the Commander, “and I am keeping my promise because I am a knight.” But it would be just as great an error to make an immoralist of him. In this regard, he is “like everyone else”: he has the moral code of his likes and dislikes. 

Don Juan can be properly understood only by constant reference to what he commonly symbolizes: the ordinary seducer and the sexual athlete. 

He is an ordinary seducer.[16] Except for the difference that he is conscious, and that is why he is absurd. 

A seducer who has become lucid will not change for all that. Seducing is his condition in life. Only in novels does one change condition or become better. Yet it can be said that at the same time nothing is changed and everything is transformed. What Don Juan realizes in action is an ethic of quantity, whereas the saint, on the contrary, tends toward quality

Not to believe in the profound meaning of things belongs to the absurd man. As for those cordial or wonder-struck faces, he eyes them, stores them up, and does not pause over them. Time keeps up with him. The absurd man is he who is not apart from time. 

Don Juan does not think of “collecting” women. He exhausts their number and with them his chances of life. “Collecting” amounts to being capable of living off one’s past. But he rejects regret, that other form of hope. He is incapable of looking at portraits.
Is he selfish for all that? In his way, probably. But here, too, it is essential to understand one another.
There are those who are made for living and those who are made for loving. At least Don Juan would be inclined to say so. But he would do so in a very few words such as he is capable of choosing. 

For the love we are speaking of here is clothed in illusions of the eternal. As all the specialists in passion teach us, there is no eternal love but what is thwarted. There is scarcely any passion without struggle. Such a love culminates only in the ultimate contradiction of death. One must be Werther or nothing. There, too, there are several ways of committing suicide, one of which is the total gift and forget-fulness of self. Don Juan, as well as anyone else, knows that this can be stirring. But he is one of the very few who know that this is not the important thing. He knows just as well that those who turn away from all personal life through a great love enrich themselves perhaps but certainly impoverish those their love has chosen. A mother or a passionate wife necessarily has a closed heart, for it is turned away from the world. A single emotion, a single creature, a single face, but all is devoured. Quite a different love disturbs Don Juan, and this one is liberating. It brings with it all the faces in the world, and its tremor comes from the fact that it knows itself to be mortal. Don Juan has chosen to be nothing.
For him it is a matter of seeing clearly. We call love what binds us to certain creatures only by reference to a collective way of seeing for which books and legends are responsible. But of love I know only that mixture of desire, affection, and intelligence that binds me to this or that creature. That compound is not the same for another person. I do not have the right to cover all these experiences with the same name. This exempts one from conducting them with the same gestures. The absurd man multiplies here again what he cannot unify. Thus he discovers a new way of being which liberates him at least as much as it liberates those who approach him. There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional. All those deaths and all those rebirths gathered together as in a sheaf make up for Don Juan the flowering of his life. It is his way of giving and of vivifying. I let it be decided whether or not one can speak of selfishness.
I think at this point of all those who absolutely insist that Don Juan be punished. Not only in another life, but even in this one. I think of all those tales, legends, and laughs about the aged Don Juan. But Don Juan is already ready. To a conscious man old age and what it portends are not a surprise. Indeed, he is conscious only in so far as he does not conceal its horror from himself. There was in Athens a temple dedicated to old age. Children were taken there. As for Don Juan, the more people laugh at him, the more his figure stands out. Thereby he rejects the one the romantics lent him. No one wants to laugh at that tormented, pitiful Don Juan. He is pitied; heaven itself will redeem him? 

But that’s not it. In the universe of which Don Juan has a glimpse, ridicule too is included. He would consider it normal to be chastised. That is the rule of the game. And, indeed, it is typical of his nobility to have accepted all the rules of the game. Yet he knows he is right and that there can be no question of punishment. A fate is not a punishment.
That is his crime, and how easy it is to understand why the men of God call down punishment on his head. He achieves a knowledge without illusions which negates everything they profess. Loving and possessing, conquering and consuming—that is his way of knowing. (There is significance in that favorite Scriptural word that calls the carnal act “knowing.”) He is their worst enemy to the extent that he is ignorant of them. A chronicler relates that the true Burlador died assassinated by Fransciscans who wanted “to put an end to the excesses and blasphemies of Don Juan, whose birth assured him impunity.” Then they proclaimed that heaven had struck him down. No one has proved that strange end. Nor has anyone proved the contrary. But without wondering if it is probable, I can say that it is logical. I want merely to single out at this point the word “birth” and to play on words: it was the fact of living that assured his innocence. It was from death alone that he derived a guilt now become legendary.
What else does that stone Commander signify, that cold statue set in motion to punish the blood and courage that dared to think? All the powers of eternal Reason, of order, of universal morality, all the foreign grandeur of a God open to wrath are summed up in him. That gigantic and soulless stone merely symbolizes the forces that Don Juan negated forever. But the Commander’s mission stops there. The thunder and lightning can return to the imitation heaven whence they were called forth. The real tragedy takes place quite apart from them. No, it was not under a stone hand that Don Juan met his death. I am inclined to believe in the legendary bravado, in that mad laughter of the healthy man provoking a non- existent God. But, above all, I believe that on that evening when Don Juan was waiting at Anna’s the Commander didn’t come, and that after midnight the blasphemer must have felt the dreadful bitterness of those who have been right. I accept even more readily the account of his life that has him eventually burying himself in a monastery. Not that the edifying aspect of the story can he considered probable. What refuge can he go ask of God? But this symbolizes rather the logical outcome of a life completely imbued with the absurd, the grim ending of an existence turned toward short lived joys. At this point sensual pleasure winds up in asceticism. It is essential to realize that they may be, as it were, the two aspects of the same destitution. What more ghastly image can be called up than that of a man betrayed by his body who, simply because he did not die in time, lives out the comedy while awaiting the end, face to face with that God he does not adore, serving him as he served life, kneeling before a void and arms outstretched toward a heaven without eloquence that he knows to he also without depth?
I see Don Juan in a cell of one of those Spanish monasteries lost on a hilltop. And if he contemplates anything at all, it is not the ghosts of past loves, but perhaps, through a narrow slit in the sun- baked wall, some silent Spanish plain, a noble, soulless land in which he recognizes himself. Yes, it is on this melancholy and radiant image that the curtain must be rung down. The ultimate end, awaited but never desired, the ultimate end is negligible.
“The play’s the thing,” says Hamlet, “wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
“Catch” is indeed the word. For conscience moves swiftly or withdraws within itself. It has to be caught on the wing, at that barely perceptible moment when it glances fleetingly at itself. The everyday man does not enjoy tarrying. Everything, on the contrary, hurries him onward. But at the same time nothing interests him more than himself, especially his potentialities. Whence his interest in the theater, in the show, where so many fates are offered him, where he can accept the poetry without feeling the sorrow. There at least can be recognized the thoughtless man, and he continues to hasten toward some hope or other. The absurd man begins where that one leaves off, where, ceasing to admire the play, the mind wants to enter in. Entering into all these lives, experiencing them in their diversity, amounts to acting them out. I am not saying that actors in general obey that impulse, that they are absurd men, but that their fate is an absurd fate which might charm and attract a lucid heart. It is necessary to establish this in order to grasp without misunderstanding what will follow.
The actor’s realm is that of the fleeting. Of all kinds of fame, it is known, his is the most ephemeral. At least, this is said in conversation. But all kinds of fame are ephemeral. From the point of view of Sirius, Goethe’s works in ten thousand years will be dust and his name forgotten. Perhaps a handful of archaeologists will look for “evidence” as to our era. That idea has always contained a lesson. Seriously meditated upon, it reduces our perturbations to the profound nobility that is found in indifference. Above all, it directs our concerns toward what is most certain— that is, toward the immediate. Of all kinds of fame the least deceptive is the one that is lived.
Hence the actor has chosen multiple fame, the fame that is hallowed and tested. From the fact that everything is to die someday he draws the best conclusion. An actor succeeds or does not succeed. A writer has some hope even if he is not appreciated. He assumes that his works will bear witness to what he was. At best the actor will leave us a photograph, and nothing of what he was himself, his gestures and his silences, his gasping or his panting with love, will come down to us. For him, not to be known is not to act, and not acting is dying a hundred times with all the creatures he would have brought to life or resuscitated.
Why should we be surprised to find a fleeting fame built upon the most ephemeral of creations? The actor has three hours to be Iago or Alceste, Phedre or Gloucester. In that short space of time he makes them come to life and die on fifty square yards of boards. Never has the absurd been so well illustrated or at such length. What more revelatory epitome can be imagined than those marvelous lives, those exceptional and total desti—
nies unfolding for a few hours within a stage set? Off the stage, Sigismundo ceases to count. Two hours later he is seen dining out. Then it is, perhaps, that life is a dream. But after Sigismundo comes another. The hero suffering from uncertainty takes the place of the man roaring for his revenge. By thus sweeping over centuries and minds, by miming man as he can be and as he is, the actor has much in common with that other absurd individual, the traveler. Like him, he drains something and is constantly on the move. He is a traveler in time and, for the best, the hunted traveler, pursued by souls. If ever the ethics of quantity could find sustenance, it is indeed on that strange stage. To what degree the actor benefits from the characters is hard to say. But that is not the important thing. It is merely a matter of knowing how far he identifies himself with those irreplaceable lives. It often happens that he carries them with him, that they somewhat overflow the time and place in which they were born. They accompany the actor, who cannot very readily separate himself from what he has been. Occasionally when reaching for his glass he resumes Hamlet’s gesture of raising his cup. No, the distance separating him from the creatures into whom he infuses life is not so great. He abundantly illustrates every month or every day that so suggestive truth that there is no frontier between what a man wants to be and what he is. Always concerned with better representing, he demonstrates to what a degree appearing creates being. For that is his art—to simulate absolutely, to project himself as deeply as possible into lives that are not his own. At the end of his effort his vocation becomes clear: to apply himself wholeheartedly to being nothing or to being several. The narrower the limits allotted him for creating his character, the more necessary his talent. He will die in three hours under the mask he has assumed today. Within three hours he must experience and express a whole exceptional life. That is called losing oneself to find oneself. In those three hours he travels the whole course of the dead-end path that the man in the audience takes a lifetime to cover.
A mime of the ephemeral, the actor trains and perfects himself only in appearances. The theatrical convention is that the heart expresses itself and communicates itself only through gestures and in the body—or through the voice, which is as much of the soul as of the body. The rule of that art insists that everything be magnified and translated into flesh. If it were essential on the stage to love as people really love, to employ that irreplaceable voice of the heart, to look as people contemplate in life, our speech would be in code. But here silences must make themselves heard. Love speaks up louder, and immobility itself becomes spectacular. The body is king, Not everyone can be “theatrical,” and this unjustly maligned word covers a whole aesthetic and a whole ethic. Half a man’s life is spent in implying, in turning away, and in keeping silent. Here the actor is the intruder. He breaks the spell chaining that soul, and at last the passions can rush onto their stage. They speak in every gesture; they live only through shouts and cries. Thus the actor creates his characters for display. He outlines or sculptures them and slips into their imaginary form, transfusing his blood into their phantoms. I am of course speaking of great drama, the kind that gives the actor an opportunity to fulfill his wholly physical fate. Take Shakespeare, for instance. In that impulsive drama the physical passions lead the dance. They explain everything. Without them all would collapse. Never would King Lear keep the appointment set by madness without the brutal gesture that exiles Cordelia and condemns Edgar. It is just that the unfolding of that tragedy should thenceforth be dominated by madness. Souls are given over to the demons and their saraband. No fewer than four madmen: one by trade, another by intention, and the last two through suffering—four disordered bodies, four unutterable aspects of a single condition.
The very scale of the human body is inadequate. The mask and the buskin, the make-up that reduces and accentuates the face in its essential elements, the costume that exaggerates and simplifies— that universe sacrifices everything to appearance and is made solely for the eye. Through an absurd miracle, it is the body that also brings knowledge. I should never really understand Iago unless I played his part. It is not enough to hear him, for I grasp him only at the moment when I see him. Of the absurd character the actor consequently has the monotony, that single, oppressive silhouette, simultaneously strange and familiar, that he carries about from hero to hero. There, too, the great dramatic work contributes to this unity of tone.[17] This is where the actor contradicts himself: the same and yet so various, so many souls summed up in a single body. Yet it is the absurd contradiction itself, that individual who wants to achieve everything and live everything, that useless attempt, that ineffectual persistence. What always contradicts itself nevertheless joins in him. He is at that point where body and mind converge, where the mind, tired of its defeats, turns toward its most faithful ally. “And blest are those,” says Hamlet, “whose blood and judgment are so well commingled that they are not a pipe for fortune’s finger to sound what stop she please.”
How could the Church have failed to condemn such a practice on the part of the actor? She repudiated in that art the heretical multiplication of souls, the emotional debauch, the scandalous presumption of a mind that objects to living but one life and hurls itself into all forms of excess. She proscribed in them that preference for the present and that triumph of Proteus which are the negation of everything she teaches. Eternity is not a game. A mind foolish enough to prefer a comedy to eternity has lost its salvation. Between “everywhere” and “forever” there is no compromise. Whence that much maligned profession can give rise to a tremendous spiritual conflict. “What matters,” said Nietzsche, “is not eternal life but eternal vivacity.” All drama is, in fact, in this choice. Celimene against Elianthe, the whole subject in the absurd consequence of a nature carried to its extreme, and the verse itself, the “bad verse,” barely accented like the monotony of the character’s nature.
Adrienne Lecouvreur on her deathbed was willing to confess and receive communion, but refused to abjure her profession. She thereby lost the benefit of the confession. Did this not amount, in effect, to choosing her absorbing passion in preference to God? And that woman in the death throes refusing in tears to repudiate what she called her art gave evidence of a greatness that she never achieved behind the footlights. This was her finest role and the hardest one to play. Choosing between heaven and a ridiculous fidelity, preferring oneself to eternity or losing oneself in God is the age-old tragedy in which each must play his part.
The actors of the era knew they were excommunicated. Entering the profession amounted to choosing Hell. And the Church discerned in them her worst enemies. A few men of letters protest: “What! Refuse the last rites to Moliere!” But that was just, and especially in one who died onstage and finished under the actor’s make-up a life entirely devoted to dispersion. In his case genius is invoked, which excuses everything. But genius excuses nothing, just because it refuses to do so.
The actor knew at that time what punishment was in store for him. But what significance could such vague threats have compared to the final punishment that life itself was reserving for him? This was the one that he felt in advance and accepted wholly. To the actor as to the absurd man, a premature death is irreparable. Nothing can make up for the sum of faces and centuries he would otherwise have traversed. But in any case, one has to die. For the actor is doubtless everywhere, but time sweeps him along, too, and makes its impression with him.
It requires but a little imagination to feel what an actor’s fate means. It is in time that he makes up and enumerates his characters. It is in time likewise that he learns to dominate them. The greater number of different lives he has lived, the more aloof he can be from them. The time comes when he must die to the stage and for the world. What he has lived faces him. He sees clearly. He feels the harrowing and irreplaceable quality of that adventure. He knows and can now die. There are homes for aged actors.
“No,” says the conqueror, “don’t assume that because I love action I have had to forget how to think. On the contrary I can throughly define what I believe. For I believe it firmly and I see it surely and clearly. Beware of those who say: ‘I know this too well to be able to express it.’ For if they cannot do so, this is because they don’t know it or because out of laziness they stopped at the outer crust.
“I have not many opinions. At the end of a life man notices that he has spent years becoming sure of a single truth. But a single truth, if it is obvious, is enough to guide an existence. As for me, I decidedly have something to say about the individual. One must speak of him bluntly and, if need be, with the appropriate contempt.
“A man is more a man through the things he keeps to himself than through those he says. There are many that I shall keep to myself. But I firmly believe that all those who have judged the individual have done so with much less experience than we on which to base their judgment. The intelligence, the stirring intelligence perhaps foresaw what it was essential to note. But the era, its ruins, and its blood overwhelm us with facts. It was possible for ancient nations, and even for more recent ones down to our machine age, to weigh one against the other the virtues of society and of the individual, to try to find out which was to serve the other. To begin with, that was possible by virtue of that stubborn aberration in man’s heart according to which human beings were created to serve or be served. In the second place, it was possible because neither society nor the individual had yet revealed all their ability.
“I have seen bright minds express astonishment at the masterpieces of Dutch painters born at the height of the bloody wars in Flanders, be amazed by the prayers of Silesian mystics brought up during the frightful Thirty Years’ War. Eternal values survive secular turmoils before their astonished eyes. But there has been progress since. The painters of today are deprived of such serenity. Even if they have basically the heart the creator needs—I mean the closed heart—it is of no use; for everyone, including the saint himself, is mobilized. This is perhaps what I have felt most deeply. At every form that miscarries in the trenches, at every outline, metaphor, or prayer crushed under steel, the eternal loses a round. Conscious that I cannot stand aloof from my time, I have decided to be an integral part of it. This is why I esteem the individual only because he strikes me as ridiculous and humiliated. Knowing that there are no victorious causes, I have a liking for lost causes: they require an uncontaminated soul, equal to its defeat as to its temporary victories. For anyone who feels bound up with this world’s fate, the clash of civilizations has something agonizing about it. I have made that anguish mine at the same time that I wanted to join in. Between history and the eternal I have chosen history because I like certainties. Of it, at least, I am certain, and how can I deny this force crushing me?
“There always comes a time when one must choose between contemplation and action. This is called becoming a man. Such wrenches are dreadful. But for a proud heart there can be no compromise. There is God or time, that cross or this sword. This world has a higher meaning that transcends its worries, or nothing is true but those worries. One must live with time and die with it, or else elude it for a greater life. I know that one can compromise and live in the world while believing in the eternal. That is called accepting. But I loathe this term and want all or nothing. If I choose action, don’t think that contemplation is like an unknown country to me. But it cannot give me everything, and, deprived of the eternal, I want to ally myself with time. I do not want to put down to my account either nostalgia or bitterness, and I merely want to see clearly. I tell you, tomorrow you will be mobilized. For you and for me that is a liberation. The individual can do nothing and yet he can do everything. In that wonderful unattached state you understand why I exalt and crush him at one and the same time. It is the world that pulverizes him and I who liberate him. I provide him with all his rights.
“Conquerors know that action is in itself useless. There is but one useful action, that of remaking man and the earth. I shall never remake men. But one must do ’as if.’ For the path of struggle leads me to the flesh. Even humiliated, the flesh is my only certainty. I can live only on it. The creature is my native land. This is why I have chosen this absurd and ineffectual effort. This is why I am on the side of the struggle. The epoch lends itself to this, as I have said. Hitherto the greatness of a conqueror was geographical. It was measured by the extent of the conquered territories. There is a reason why the word has changed in meaning and has ceased to signify the victorious general. The greatness has changed camp. It lies in protest and the blind-alley sacrifice. There, too, it is not through a preference for defeat. Victory would be desirable. But there is but one victory, and it is eternal. That is the one I shall never have. That is where I stumble and cling. A revolution is always accomplished against the gods, beginning with the revolution of Prometheus, the first of modern conquerors. It is man’s demands made against his fate; the demands of the poor are but a pretext. Yet I can seize that spirit only in its historical act, and that is where I make contact with it. Don’t assume, however, that I take pleasure in it: opposite the essential contradiction, I maintain my human contradiction. I establish my lucidity in the midst of what negates it. I exalt man be-fore what crushes him, and my freedom, my revolt, and my passion come together then in that tension, that lucidity, and that vast repetition.
“Yes, man is his own end. And he is his only end. If he aims to be something, it is in this life. Now I know it only too well. Conquerors sometimes talk of vanquishing and overcoming. But it is always ‘overcoming oneself’ that they mean. You are well aware of what that means. Every man has felt himself to be the equal of a god at certain moments. At least, this is the way it is expressed. But this comes from the fact that in a flash he felt the amazing grandeur of the human mind. The conquerors are merely those among men who are conscious enough of their strength to be sure of living constantly on those heights and fully aware of that grandeur. It is a question of arithmetic, of more or less. The conquerors are capable of the more. But they are capable of no more than man himself when he wants. This is why they never leave the human crucible, plunging into the seething soul of revolutions.
“There they find the creature mutilated, but they also encounter there the only values they like and admire, man and his silence. This is both their destitution and their wealth. There is but one luxury for them—that of human relations. How can one fail to realize that in this vulnerable universe everything that is human and solely human assumes a more vivid meaning? Taut faces, threatened fraternity, such strong and chaste friendship among men—these are the true riches because they are transitory. In their midst the mind is most aware of its powers and limitations. That is lucid ones virile and we do not want a strength that is apart from lucidity.”
Let me repeat that these images do not propose moral codes and involve no judgments: they are sketches. They merely represent a style of life. The lover, the actor, or the adventurer plays the absurd. But equally well, if he wishes, the chaste man, the civil servant, or the president of the Republic. It is enough to know and to mask nothing. In Italian museums are sometimes found little painted screens that the priest used to hold in front of the face of condemned men to hide the scaffold from them. The leap in all its forms, rushing into the divine or the eternal, surrendering to the illusions of the everyday or of the idea—all these screens hide the absurd. But there are civil servants without screens, and they are the ones of whom I mean to speak. I have chosen the most extreme ones. At this level the absurd gives them a royal power. It is true that those princes are without a kingdom. But they have this advantage over others: they know that all royalties are illusory. They know that is their whole nobility, and it is useless to speak in relation to them of hidden misfortune or the ashes of disillusion. Being deprived of hope is not despairing. The flames of earth are surely worth celestial perfumes. Neither I nor anyone can judge them here. They are not striving to be better; they are attempting to be consistent. If the term “wise man” can be applied to the man who lives on what he has without speculating on what he has not, then they are wise men. One of them, a conqueror but in the realm of mind, a Don Juan but of knowledge, an actor but of the intelligence, knows this better than anyone: “You nowise deserve a privilege on earth and in heaven for having brought to perfection your dear little meek sheep; you nonetheless continue to be at best a ridiculous dear little sheep with horns and nothing more—even supposing that you do not burst with vanity and do not create a scandal by posing as a judge.”
In any case, it was essential to restore to the absurd reasoning more cordial examples. The imagination can add many others, inseparable from time and exile, who likewise know how to live in harmony with a universe without future and without weakness. This absurd, godless world is, then, peopled with men who think clearly and have ceased to hope. And I have not yet spoken of the most absurd character, who is the creator. 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

I Have You in My Eye, Sir

Why, who could flourish on such a daily diet of compliance..?

To be Curbed!Stood-up to! - in a word, thwarted!! - exercises The Character, makes it more pliant.

It's the want of such exercise that makes rulers rigid.

The Mind must Cure.

My patients Work, Sir - and in so-doing, acquire a better conceit of them selves.

Dr. Willis: 
If the King refuses food, He will be restrained. 
If He claims to have no appetite, He will be restrained. 

If He swears and indulges in MEANINGLESS DISCOURSE... 
He will be restrained. 

If He throws off his bed-clothes, tears away His bandages, scratches at His sores, and if He does not strive EVERY day and ALWAYS towards His OWN RECOVERY

... then, He must be restrained.

George III: 
I am the King of England!!

Dr. Willis: 
NO, sir!

You are The PATIENT.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


Dunkirk is so bloody awful, it's hilarious.

It's a 2hr version of the Ferry Scene from Dark Knight, with squonking music.


"When Leopold Amery suggested to Kingsley Wood that the Black Forest be bombed with incendiaries to burn its ammunition dumps, Wood—the Secretary of State for Air—amazed the member of parliament by responding that the forest was “private property” and could not be bombed; neither could weapons factories, as the Germans might do the same.

Indeed, the sense of unreality was maintained when some British officers imported packs of foxhounds and beagles in 1939, but were thwarted by the French authorities in their attempts at introducing live foxes.

Civilian attitudes in Britain to their German foes were still not as intense as they were to become after the Blitz. In April 1940 a German Heinkel bomber crashed at Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, killing its crew and people on the ground.

 They were all laid to rest in the local cemetery which was provided with support from the Royal Air Force. Wreaths with messages of sympathy for the casualties were displayed on the coffins."

                                                        May 16, 1940 
             I have the honour to refer to the very serious calls  which have recently been made upon the Home Defence Fighter Units in an attempt to stem the German invasion on the Continent.

  2,         I hope and believe that our Armies may yet be victorious in France and Belgium,  but we have to face the possibility that they may be defeated.

  3.         In this case I presume that there is no-one who will deny that England should fight on,  even though the remainder of the Continent of Europe is dominated by the Germans.

  4.         For this purpose it is necessary to retain some minimum fighter strength in this country and I must request that the Air Council will inform me what they consider this minimum strength to be,  in order that I may make my dispositions accordingly.

  5.         I would remind the Air Council that the last estimate which they made as to the force necessary to defend this country was 52 Squadrons,  and my strength has now been reduced to the equivalent of 36 Squadrons.

  6.         Once a decision has been reached as to the limit on which the Air Council and the Cabinet are prepared to stake the existence of the country,  it should be made clear to the Allied Commanders on the Continent that not a single aeroplane from Fighter Command beyond the limit will be sent across the Channel, no matter how desperate the situation may become.

  7.         It will, of course, be remembered that the estimate of 52 Squadrons was based on the assumption that the attack would come from the eastwards except in so far as the defences might be outflanked in flight.   We have now to face the possibility that attacks may come from Spain or even from the North coast of France.   

The result is that our line is very much extended at the same time as our resources are reduced.

  8.         I must point out that within the last few days the equivalent of 10 Squadrons have been sent to France,  that the Hurricane Squadrons remaining in this country are seriously  depleted,  and that the more Squadrons which are sent to France  the higher will be the wastage and the more insistent the demands for reinforcements.

  9.         I must therefore request that as a matter of  paramount urgency the Air Ministry will consider and decide what level of strength is to be left to the Fighter Command for the defences of this country, and will assure me that when this level has been reached, not one fighter will be sent across the Channel however urgent and insistent the appeals for help may be.

  10.        I believe that, if an adequate fighter force is kept in this country, if the fleet remains in being, and if Home Forces are suitably organised to resist invasion,  we should be able to carry on the war single handed for some time, if not indefinitely.   

But, if the Home Defence Force is drained away in desperate attempts to remedy the situation in France, defeat in France will involve the final, complete and irremediable defeat of this country.

                                    I have the honour to be, 
                                      Your obedient Servant,

           Air Chief Marshal, 
HJB Dowding
                                 Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, 
                                 Fighter Command,Royal Air Force.

We know from other sources that Winston Churchill was under considerable pressure to finish off the peace talks that had been started by Neville Chamberlain. This is why George VI wanted Lord Halifax as prime minister instead of Churchill. There is an intriguing entry into the diary of John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary, on 10th May. In discussing Churchill’s talks with the king about becoming prime minister Colville writes: “Nothing can stop him (Churchill) having his way – because of his powers of blackmail”.

George VI was bitterly opposed to Winston Churchill becoming prime minister. He tried desperately to persuade Chamberlain to stay on in the job. When he refused he wanted to use his royal prerogative to appoint Lord Halifax as prime minister. Halifax refused as he feared this act would have brought the government down and would put the survival of the monarchy at risk. (John CostelloTen Days that Saved the West, pages 46-47).

On 8th June 1940, one Labour MP suggested in the House of Commons that Churchill should instigate an inquiry into the “appeasement” party with a view to prosecuting its members. Churchill replied this would be foolish as “there are too many in it”. Hugh Dalton, Minister of Economic Warfare, recorded in his diary that the “appeasement party” was so powerful within the Conservative Party that Churchill faced the possibility of being removed as prime minister.

On 10th September 1940, Karl Haushofer sent a letter to his son Albrecht. 

The letter discussed secret peace talks going on with Britain. 

Karl talked about “middlemen” such as Ian Hamilton (Head of the British Legion), the Duke of Hamilton and Violet Roberts, the widow of Walter Roberts. 

The Roberts were very close to Stewart Menzies (Walter and Stewart had gone to school together). 

Violet Roberts was living in Lisbon in 1940. 

Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were the four main places where these secret negotiations were taking place. 

Karl and Albrecht Haushofer were close friends of both Rudolf Hess and the Duke of Hamilton.

A full list of archival sources will be published in volume two of this biography, but I should like to mention here Madame Reynaud, widow of France's wartime premier, who kindly gave me access to her husband's files in Paris which throw new light on the Dunkirk disaster (particularly useful since Lord Gort 'lost all his papers' in the retreat"). Among them are some exchanges evidently missing from Churchill's files, for example, a telegram on May 24th 1940, which is also among the files captured by the Nazis along with the French accounts of conversations with Mr Churchill.*

* Microfilmed by the U.S. National Archives: 1120, rolls 115 and 127

I am also indebted to the Soviet authorities for supplying to me copies of all the Russian embassy telegrams from London relating to Churchill, and of his conferences with Stalin, and to Mrs Neham Chalom of the Weizmann Institute of Science at Rehovot, Israel, for allowing me access to the entire file of confidential correspondence between Churchill and Professor Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist Èminence grise. 

What we find in rare sources such as these both offsets and enhances the picture presented by Churchillís own narrower archives, as reflected in Gilbert's writings. Perhaps this is small wonder: we should expect to find for example, in the private files of the exiled Polish prime ministers Wladislaw Sikorski in London and Stanislas Mikolajczyk at Stanford, California, and of their foreign minister Tadeusz Romer in Ottawa, rich documents on Churchill's dealings with the Poles. 

But what European historian could have hoped to uncover in the confidential papers of the Canadian premier and mysticist, William Mackenzie King, the kind of astonishing tableaux that will be found in this biography?  

Readers may be alarmed at some elements in these pages. 

Few of the visiting statesmen failed to comment in their private papers on Churchill's consumption of alcohol, occasionally coupling their remarks with the puzzled observation that even the hardest liquor appeared to leave him unimpaired. In official American publications, documents have been doctored to omit such passages. 

There is evidence that on occasions Churchill's temporary incapacitation resulted in political or military decisions that damaged British prestige, and even caused casualties among the soldiers and sailors concerned. 

He was at his happiest in war, and said so. 

He was rarely a creator, always a destroyer of cities, of monuments and works of art, of populations, of frontiers, of monarchies, and finally his own country's empire. 

His bombing policy led to the slaying of a million civilians in Holland, France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Scandinavia; it seems not to have dismayed him. 

On the contrary, when I toured his underground war headquarters near Parliament-square twenty-five years ago, I found on permanent proud display, as they had been for his wartime visitors, the stereoscopic photographs of the destruction of Dresden. 

It is as though Hitler had pinned up colour photographs of Auschwitz or Buchenwald for visiting celebrities. 

His indifference to public suffering was documented again and again. In 1944 crowds jeered him when he appeared in dazzling R.A.F. uniform in a newly blitzed suburb of London and declared 

"This is the thing! It is just like being back in the best days of the Blitz again."

While postwar Britain starved he sheltered the flow of tens of thousands of dollars from New York publishers against the depredations of the Inland Revenue while he vacationed with his retinue in North Africa and on the French Riviera. It would be unfeeling to criticise him for an excessive mercenary zeal. What writers are not at times beholden to financial problems? 

But this book's early chapters are overhung by the enormity of his financial deficit during his years in the political wilderness, a cash crisis illuminated by the papers of his literary agent now on deposit in the University of Oregon at Eugene. 

This financial quandary might seem of only vestigial importance, but in following chapters comes the suggestion that he proceeded to sell his soul to a syndicate of politicians and financiers called The Focus, a group which continued to fete and finance him until the outbreak of war.  

The Materials on this episode are perhaps typical of the sources which I have developed for this biography. 

One was a diary of a member of The Focus made available to me by Dr Howard Gottlieb, director of the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University. 

This shows that at the time of Munich the Czechs were paying Focus members £2,000 per annum

The papers of the former Czech minister in Paris, Stefan Osusky, at the Hoover Library, Czech documents now in Prague F.O. archives, and captured Nazi intercepts of Beneöís secret telephone conversations with Osusky and Jan Masaryk confirm that senior British politicians were being paid by the Czechs in return for a promise to topple Neville Chamberlainís government. The rarest items come from the most distant sources. From Finnish archives, a telegram from Paris to Helsinki dated March 30, 1940, reporting Churchill's discussions with French premier Paul Reynaud: intercepted by the Nazis, it triggered Hitler's invasion of Norway a week later. 

From Stockholm archives come the telegrams revealing the extraordinary efforts by Churchillís opponents in the war cabinet to make peace behind his back in June 1940. Some material I obtained as gifts ñ one lady entrusted to me the diary kept by her late husband, Churchill's personal bodyguard, from 1942 to 1945. 

Churchill's private secretary allowed me to copy his wartime diaries. A stranger telephoned with the text of the cabinet's message empowering Lord Gort to accept whatever surrender terms at Dunkirk the Germans would offer (the stolen document was in his possession). 

Other documents I have had to purchase or even rent  like the daily appointments record kept by Churchill and his staff throughout the war. Several years ago I was able to photocopy large tracts of the files of the late Lord Cherwell which have since been sealed. 

These relate to Churchill's role in the allied dealings on the atomic bomb, the Morgenthau Plan, and postwar policy in Germany. Not all my researches were successful. 

In Nazi files I found evidence that the German post office had listened in on Churchill's telephone conversations with Roosevelt and recorded them on discs. 

I found Nazi transcripts of only two of them, however; the rest were evidently destroyed at the war's end. My search for the corresponding U.S. Navy recordings and transcripts made for the American Bureau of Censorship lasted ten years and has narrowed their probable location to the National Security Agency, but the N.S.A. rarely opens its files. 

Future historians must continue the search; the telegrams that F.D.R. and Churchill exchanged were often drafted by committees, and obviously of less importance than their private conversations, as my chapter 'A Telephone Job' in this volume shows.

Throughout the war each month's appointments would be entered on large-format cards. The first was an eleven-thirty NO.10. war cabinet on September 4; it was at first marked as being in the Cabinet War Room bunker, as London still expected Hitler's knockout blow, then amended to No. 10. 

Across these cards, which were salvaged by his admirable A.D.C.,* parade the notables of Churchill's War, dukes and duchesses and peers and admirals who might go down in ships and history. 

September 1939 saw Cork and Orrery, Drax (' if train punctual'), Evans, Tyrwhitt, Wake-Walker, as well as press lords (Beaverbrook) and journalists like the American H. R. Knickerbocker. Different hands pencilled in appointments with his trusty friends from the wilderness like Vansittart or ' Dr Revesz' (Reves, his literary agent) or the Romanian, Tilea. On September 25 a ' Mr Spier' was pathetically entered "Eugen Spier", earliest financier of The Focus, was about to be interned. Once or twice Field Marshal Ironside came. He had few admirers in the soldiery  

' It's a mercy his soldiering days are ever,' one general assessed a year earlier. ' There's always been more bluff and brawn than brain.' 

* The author rented them from Tommy Thompson's heirs and has donated a copy to the Public Record Office, London, where they form part of PREM 10

Their minister, Hore-Belisha, told those who would listen that Ironside's appointment was the fault of politicians who did not know the man au fond, ' notably Winston.í Of course bare names, like those of Colonel Stewart Menzies, who shortly became head of the S.I.S., and Sir Vernon Kell, head of M.I.5, give little clue as to the subjects discussed. The colour has to be filled in from other sources ñ like when Winston dined at Lord Kemsley's. At the end of the meal the newspaper owner invited him to a chair at the top of the table and asked in a stage whisper what new intrigues he was hatching against Chamberlain; the First Lord purpled, rose, rang for a servant and sent for his car.

 Churchill's influence grew throughout that month. He was appointed to the land forces committee. 

It met on September 7 and resolved to raise fifty-five divisions by late 1941 and to build the factories to sustain them. On the next day Churchill told the American ambassador that fourteen merchant ships had already been sunk by U-boat warfare; but he spoke encouragingly of France's immense army of four million. 

In cabinet he turned out much as the others expected ñ in Sam Hoare's words, rhetorical and very reminiscent; Churchill struck him as an old man, easily tired and over-emotional. 

The much younger secretary for war, Leslie Hore-Belisha, expressed frustration at the way his more elderly colleagues wasted time phrasing communiques rather than preparing for a major war. 

After one flowery Churchill monologue Hoare heard a colleague scoff: ' Why didn't he bring his six-volume World Crisis?' 

Churchill, he snidely commented in his diary, was no doubt already writing new memoirs. 

Scepticism about Churchill's vitality was probably justified. 

The real war had yet to begin, and that was the stimulus he needed. Not until the ninth did elements of the expeditionary force even cross to France. 

Their commander, General Lord Gort, followed two evenings later after Churchill and Lord Camrose had dined him at The Other Club ñ the cliquish dining club which Winston had founded with F. E. Smith in 1911. 

According to Camrose's notes, Churchill predicted that they would master the present U-boat menace quite rapidly, but he perceptively added that in about a year's time it would revive. As yet there was little that Britain could do. 

Dalton expressed shock that Chamberlain had made no realistic plans for aiding Poland after guaranteeing her. 

Churchill replied that as a cabinet member he could not voice open criticism. 

' I have signed on for this voyage,' was the way he put it. 

He was still groping for a strategy, uncertain of himself. In a sense, he was still living the Great War; his mental images were those of Jutland and Gallipoli, of fleet actions and of bayonet charges on Turkish trenches. 

Pacing the floor, he told Dalton that he had a dream of all the states of southern and south-eastern Europe moving ultimately against Germany, and of the flags of freedom fluttering in Prague and Vienna. (Curiously, he made no mention of Poland's capital.

A few days later, to the cabinet, he was more specific: he wanted ' all the Balkan countries and Turkey' dragged in:' We needed as many allies in the Balkans as we could secure, and it was not at all to our interest that the Balkans should be kept in a state of quiet, whilst France and ourselves were left to bear the full brunt of the German assault on the Western Front. 

' But,' he told Dalton on the thirteenth, ' all this is very far away, and there will be a long, grim interval first.' 

' If only we had the Czechs as well as the Poles!' he sighed. Britain might have won over the Russians too ñ ' But at the end they played a deadly game!' 

' I sit here,' he mused out loud to Dalton, ' and I only get bad news ñ of our ships sunk. I don't get the good news, when their submarines go down.' 

He was confident that the U-boats would be defeated. He pictured in vivid words to the socialist intellectual the effects of depth charges on submarine crews ñ the sudden concussion, the claustrophobia. 

Donning a spurious naval uniform, he left to inspect the northernmost naval bases at Scapa Flow and Loch Ewe, which he had last visited a quarter century before: the fleet had been berthed at this hideout on the west coast of Scotland for the same reason as now, the unreadiness at Scapa. 

He returned to the admiralty three mornings later to learn that the aircraft carrier Courageous had gone down with her captain and five hundred of her crew escorting a convoy in the Bristol Channel. 

' Gentlemen,' he began his admiralty report to Mr Chamberlain's cabinet that morning, ' I have a piece of bad news to give you', and he reminded them that although old, she had been one of their most valuable warships. 

He was stoic about such casualties; in fact loss of life affected him far less than the loss of personal prestige, particularly when the former was somebody else's and the latter was his own. 

Some months later the troopship Lancastria would be sunk by enemy aircraft off Saint-Nazaire, drowning three thousand British soldiers; he ordered the news suppressed, and confessed six weeks later when it leaked out in America that it had entirely slipped his mind. 

Now, as even more sinister news came that the Red Army was invading eastern Poland, he reminded Hankey of how exactly twenty-five years before they had lost the Aboukir, Cressey and Hogue to enemy submarines, and that this was not the first time Russia had defected. 

Powered by conflicting emotions ñ the desire to punish Germans and to act aggressively, while not scandalising neutral opinion, on September  he advised Chamberlain against taking any initiative in bombing. ' It is to our interest,' he wrote, ' that . . . we should follow and not precede the Germans in the process, no doubt inevitable, of deepening severity and violence.'

Count Raczynski came to the admiralty, followed on the thirteenth by Hugh Dalton, to argue that bombing Germany would bring relief to their reeling Polish allies. 

' If we disregard Poland,' replied Churchill, disagreeing, ' it is unquestionably in our interest not to make the first move in air warfare in the west.' 

British aircraft factories were still gearing up. ' If we can,' he said with measured cynicism, ' let us secure that the first women and children to be hit are British, and not German.' For maximum effect on American opinion it was vital that messieurs les assassins commencent.  

Toward the Italians he still showed a vestigial affection ñ having met and rather liked the ' bluffing gangster' who presided over them. But there was a hard core of rationalism too. Mussolini, he reminded Dalton, had one hundred submarines. So in cabinet he recommended selling aeroplanes to Italy and buying motor boats as ways of developing a fruitful AngloñItalian trade.

DÈtente with Italy would be one way of retrieving British forces from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

British forces from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. 

Another would be if British troops in Palestine could be partially replaced by a Jewish contingent. 

The Jewish Agency had offered a truce over the bitterly-contested White Paper for the duration of the war and Jewish support world-wide in the fight against Hitler. 

But in return they demanded a not inconsiderable concession - the right to raise a Jewish army in Palestine. 

Over dinner with Winston and Brendan Bracken at the admiralty on the nineteenth, Chaim Weizmann claimed that seventy-five thousand young Jews had volunteered in Palestine and that more could be recruited from Romania and Poland

'What is important,' he explained, 'is to create cadres and establish a military organisation.' 

Churchill saw no objection. 'Once the Jews are armed,' he agreed, 'the Arabs will come to terms with them.' 

He directed Bracken to liaise with Weizmann and to comply with every wish. But the first wish that Weizmann expressed when Bracken visited him at The Dorchester - London's only bombproof hotel, now filling with the rich and influential - was not so simple to fulfil. 

The Zionists wanted permission to erect a Jewish arms factory in Palestine. 

Over this, the war office would dig in its heels.


General Karl Haushofer and Rudolf Hess, c.1920

"We need a fellow at the head who can stand the sound of a machine gun. The rabble need to get fear into their pants. 

We can't use an officer, because the people don't respect them any more. 

The best would be a worker who knows how to talk... He doesn't need much brains.... 

He must be a bachelor, then we'll get the women."

- Dietrich Eckart
Founding Member, Thule Society
Concerning the proposed founding and leadership of a German Workers Party,

"According to the American military attaché at the London embassy, who claimed to have spoken with Hess after the latter arrived in England, the Deputy Fuhrer supposedly confessed to a British psychiatrist sent to examine him that the Nazis were on the verge of obliterating the Jews "

(Louis Kilzer, Churchill's deception. The Dark Secret that Destroyed Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), pp. 60-2). 

Moreover, author Alfred Smith relates that on May 13, 1941, only three days after Hess landed, Churchill sent a memo to his colleague, Anthony Eden...It concludes with the words 

‘Like other Nazi leaders this man is potentially a war criminal and he and his confederates may well be declared outlaws at the close of the war. In this his repentance stands him in good stead.’ 

Smith raises the question: ‘Why did Churchill describe Hess as a potential war criminal?...The “Crimes against humanity," and in particular the Holocaust, did not take place until after the launch of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, a month after Hess's flight...?’ 

Smith concludes: ‘The only construction that makes sense of Churchill's remarks is that he was aware of the war crimes that were going to be committed in the future...."

"When necessity commands, he does not shrink from bloodshed... In order to reach his goal, he is prepared to trample on his closest friends."

- Rudolf Hess,
"How Must the Man be Constructed who will lead Germany back to her Old Heights?"

Anton Drexler

"Success and money finally won for Hitler complete domination over the National Socialist Party. He had grown too powerful for the founders; they - Anton Drexler among them - wanted to limit him and press him to the wall. But it turned out that they were too late. He had the newspaper behind him, the backers, and the growing S.A. 

At a certain distance he had the Reichswehr behind him too. To break all resistance for good, he left the party for three days, and the trembling members obediently chose him as the first, unlimited chairman, for practical purposes responsible to no one, in place of Anton Drexler, the modest founder, who had to content himself with the post of honorary chairman (July 29, 1921). From that day on, Hitler was the leader of Munich's National Socialist Movement."

Konrad Heiden

Hess was an active supporter of the preparations for war. His signature established military service. He expressed a desire for peace and advocated international economic cooperation. But none knew better than Hess how determined Hitler was to realize his ambitions, how fanatical and violent a man he was.

With him in his flight to England, Hess carried certain peace proposals which he alleged Hitler was prepared to accept. It is significant to note that this flight took place only ten days after the date on which Hitler fixed, 22 June 1941, as the time for attacking the Soviet Union.

That Hess acts in an abnormal manner, suffers from the loss of memory, and has mentally deteriorated during the Trial, may be true. But there is nothing to show that he does not realize the nature of the charges against him, or is incapable of defending himself. There is no suggestion that Hess was not completely sane when the acts charged against him were committed. 

Defendant Rudolf Hess, the court sentences you to imprisonment for life.

Judgment on Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

Rochus Misch, Hitler's bodyguard, claims that in May 1941 he was at Berchtesgaden with Hitler and Hess. According to Misch: 

He (Hitler) was talking to Hess, when somebody brought in a dispatch. The Führer read it and exclaimed: 

'I cannot go there and go down on my knees!’ 

Hess replied: 
'I can, my Führer.’ 

At the time a German diplomat was meeting the Swedish emissary, Count Bernadotte, in Portugal. The British were very active in Lisbon, so I think there might have been some peace offer from London.” It is impossible to know if Misch is right about this as the official British documents relating to it are still classified.

On 22nd May 1940 some 250 German tanks were advancing along the French coast towards Dunkirk, threatening to seal off the British escape route. Then, just six miles from the town, at around 11.30 a.m., they abruptly stopped. Adolf Hitler had personally ordered all German forces to hold their positions for three days. This order was uncoded and was picked up by the British. They therefore knew they were going to get away. German generals begged to be able to move forward in order to destroy the British army but Hitler insisted that they held back so that the British troops could leave mainland Europe.
Some historians hav
e argued that this is an example of another tactical error made by Adolf Hitler. However, the evidence suggests that this was part of a deal being agreed between Germany and Britain. After the war, General Gunther Blumentritt, the Army Chief of Staff, told military historian Basil Liddell Hart that Hitler had decided that Germany would make peace with Britain. Another German general told Liddell Hart that Hitler aimed to make peace with Britain “on a basis that was compatible with her honour to accept”. (The Other Side of the Hill, pages 139-41)

According to Ilse Hess, her husband was told by Hitler that the massacring of the British army at Dunkirk would humiliate the British government and would make peace negotiations harder because of the bitterness and resentment it would cause. Joseph Goebbels recorded in his diary in June 1940 that Hitler told him that peace talks with Britain were taking place in Sweden. The intermediary was Marcus Wallenberg, a Swedish banker.

We know from other sources that Winston Churchill was under considerable pressure to finish off the peace talks that had been started by Neville Chamberlain. This is why George VI wanted Lord Halifax as prime minister instead of Churchill. There is an intriguing entry into the diary of John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary, on 10th May. In discussing Churchill’s talks with the king about becoming prime minister Colville writes: “Nothing can stop him (Churchill) having his way – because of his powers of blackmail”.

George VI was bitterly opposed to Winston Churchill becoming prime minister. He tried desperately to persuade Chamberlain to stay on in the job. When he refused he wanted to use his royal prerogative to appoint Lord Halifax as prime minister. Halifax refused as he feared this act would have brought the government down and would put the survival of the monarchy at risk. (John CostelloTen Days that Saved the West, pages 46-47).

On 8th June 1940, one Labour MP suggested in the House of Commons that Churchill should instigate an inquiry into the “appeasement” party with a view to prosecuting its members. Churchill replied this would be foolish as “there are too many in it”. Hugh Dalton, Minister of Economic Warfare, recorded in his diary that the “appeasement party” was so powerful within the Conservative Party that Churchill faced the possibility of being removed as prime minister.

On 10th September 1940, Karl Haushofer sent a letter to his son Albrecht. The letter discussed secret peace talks going on with Britain. Karl talked about “middlemen” such as Ian Hamilton (head of the British Legion), the Duke of Hamilton and Violet Roberts, the widow of Walter Roberts. The Roberts were very close to Stewart Menzies (Walter and Stewart had gone to school together). Violet Roberts was living in Lisbon in 1940. Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were the four main places where these secret negotiations were taking place. Karl and Albrecht Haushofer were close friends of both Rudolf Hess and the Duke of Hamilton.

Heinrich Stahmer, who worked with Haushofer, claimed that meetings between Samuel HoareLord Halifax and Rudolf Hess took place in Spain and Portugal between February and April 1941. The Vichy press reported that Hess was in Spain on the weekend of 20/22 of April 1941. The correspondence between British Embassies and the Foreign Office are routinely released to the Public Record Office. However, all documents relating to the weekend of 20/22 April, 1941 at the Madrid Embassy are being held back and will not be released until 2017.

Karl Haushofer was arrested and interrogated by the Allies in October 1945. The British government has never released the documents that include details of these interviews. However, these interviews are in the OSS archive. Karl told his interviewers that Germany was involved in peace negotiations with Britain in 1940-41. In 1941 Albrecht was sent to Switzerland to meet Samuel Hoare, the British ambassador to Spain. This peace proposal included a willingness to “relinquish Norway, Denmark and France”. Karl goes onto say: “A larger meeting was to be held in Madrid. When my son returned, he was immediately called to Augsburg by Hess. A few days later Hess flew to England.”

On 10th May, 1941, Hess flew a Me 110 to Scotland. When he parachuted to the ground he was captured by David McLean, of the Home Guard. He asked to be taken to Duke of Hamilton, the “middleman” mentioned in the earlier letter. In fact, Hamilton lived close to where Hess landed (Dungavel House). 

If Hamilton was the “middleman” who was he acting for? 

Was it George VI or Winston Churchill

Shortly afterwards Sergeant Daniel McBride and Emyr Morris, reached the scene and took control of the prisoner. Hess’s first words to them were: “Are you friends of the Duke of Hamilton? I have an important message for him.”
After the war Daniel McBride attempted to tell his story of what had happened when he captured Hess. This story originally appeared in the Hongkong Telegraph (6th March, 1947). “The purpose of the former Deputy Fuhrer’s visit to Britain is still a mystery to the general public, but I can say, and with confidence too, that high-ranking Government officials were aware of his coming.” 

The reason that McBride gives for this opinion is that: “No air-raid warning was given that night, although the plane must have been distinguished during his flight over the city of Glasgow. Nor was the plane plotted at the anti-aircraft control room for the west of Scotland.” 

McBride concludes from this evidence that someone with great power ordered that Hess should be allowed to land in Scotland. This story was picked up by the German press but went unreported in the rest of the world.

According to Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Scott, Hess had told one of his guards that “members of the government” had known about his proposed trip to Scotland. Hess also asked to see George VI as he had been assured before he left Nazi Germany that he had the “King’s protection”. 

The authors of Double Standards, believe the Duke of Kent, the Duke of HamiltonSamuel Hoare and Lord Halifax, were all working for the king in their efforts to negotiate with Adolf Hitler.

Karlheinz Pintsch, Hess adjutant, was given the task of informing Hitler about the flight to Scotland. James Leasor found him alive in 1955 and used him as a major source for his book, The Uninvited Envoy. Pintsch told Leasor of Hitler’s response to this news. He did not seem surprised, nor did he rant and rave about what Hess had done. Instead, he replied calmly, “At this particular moment in the war that could be a most hazardous escapade.”
Hitler then went onto read the letter that Hess had sent him. He read the following significant passage out aloud. “And if this project… ends in failure… it will always be possible for you to deny all responsibility. Simply say I was out of my mind.Of course, that is what both Hitler and Churchill did later on. However, at the time, Hitler at least, still believed that a negotiated agreement was possible.

Raymond Gram Swing of the Chicago Daily News was invited to Chequers two months after Hess arrived in Scotland. In his autobiography, Good Evening(1964) he explained: 

"After the meal, the Prime Minister invited me to take a walk with him in the garden. 

This turned out to be the occasion for an unexpected and, I must say, somewhat disconcerting exposition to me of the terms on which Britain at that time could make a separate peace with Nazi Germany. The gist of the terms was that Britain could retain its empire, which Germany would guarantee, with the exception of the former German colonies, which were to be returned. 

The timing of this conversation seemed to me significant. Rudolf Hess, the number-three Nazi, had landed by parachute in Scotland less than two months before, where he had attempted to make contact with the Duke of Hamilton, whom the Nazis believed to be an enemy of Mr. Churchill and his policies... 

Mr. Churchill said nothing to me about Herr Hess. But he expounded to me the advantage of the German terms; and he seemed to be trying to arouse in me a feeling that unless the United States became more actively involved in the war, Britain might find it to her interest to accept them. I may be ascribing to him intentions he did not have. 

Later I was to learn that Hitler himself had proposed broadly similar terms to Britain before the war actually began. But I was under the impression that the allurements of peace had been recently underlined by Rudolf Hess... But it troubled me to have him give me his exposition, which must have lasted a full twenty minutes.

For my part, I believed that the United States's interests made our entry in the war imperative. 

But I did not believe it would spur the country to come in to be told that if it did not, Winston Churchill would make a separate peace with Hitler and put his empire under a Hitler guarantee of safety."

Eventually Adolf Hitler became convinced that Winston Churchill would refuse to do a deal. Karlheinz Pintsch was now a dangerous witness and he was arrested and was kept in solitary confinement until being sent to the Eastern Front. Hitler also issued a statement pointing out that "Hess did not fly in my name." Albert Speer, who was with Hitler when he heard the news, later reported that "what bothered him was the Churchill might use the incident to pretend to Germany's allies that Hitler was extending a peace feeler."

Pearl Harbour Changed Everything.

It was not until 27th January 1942 that Winston Churchill made a statement in the House of Commons about the arrival of Hess. Churchill claimed it was part of a plot to oust him from power and “for a government to be set up with which Hitler could negotiate a magnanimous peace”. If that was the case, were the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Hamilton part of this plot?

In September, 1943, Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, admitted in the House of Commons that Hess had indeed arrived in Scotland to negotiate a peace settlement. However, Eden claimed that the British government had been unaware of these negotiations. In fact, he added, Hess had refused to negotiate with Churchill. Eden failed to say who Hess was negotiating with. Nor did he explain why Hess (Hitler) was willing to negotiate with someone other than the British government. The authors of Double Standards argue that Hess was negotiating with Duke of Hamilton and the royal family, via the Duke of Kent. It is true Hamilton had a meeting with Churchill and Stewart Menzies two days after Hess arrived in Scotland. We also know that MI6 was monitoring these negotiations. If Hamilton was truly a traitor, surely Churchill would have punished him. Instead, along with the Duke of Kent, who were both in the RAF, were promoted by Churchill. In July 1941 Hamilton became a Group Captain and Kent became an Air Commodore.

This did not stop journalists speculating that the Duke of Hamilton was a traitor. In February 1942, Hamilton sued the London District Committee of the Communist Party for an article that appeared in their journal, World News and Views. The article claimed that Hamilton had been involved in negotiating with Nazi Germany and knew that Hess was flying to Scotland. Had this information come from Kim Philby? The case was settled when the Communist Party issued a public apology. Clearly, they could not say where this information came from.

Later that year Hamilton sued Pierre van Paassen, who in his book, That Day Alone, described Hamilton as a “British Fascist” who had plotted with Hess. The case was settled out of court in Hamilton’s favour. Sir Archibald Sinclair also issued a statement in the House of Commons that the Duke of Hamilton had never met Rudolf Hess.
However, recently released documents show that this was not all it seemed. The Communist Party threatened to call Hess as a witness. This created panic in the cabinet. A letter from the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, to Sir Archibald Sinclair, dated 18th June 1941, shows that the government was extremely worried about Hess appearing as a witness in this libel case. Morrison asks Sinclair to use his influence on Hamilton to drop the libel case. It is interesting that this letter was sent to Sinclair as he is the man who made the public statement about Hamilton and Hess, carried out the investigation into the Duke of Kent’s death and whose estate Hess was supposed to be living when the crash took place. Hamilton clearly took Morrison’s advice and this explains why the Communist Party did not have to pay any money to Hamilton over the libel.

The Pierre van Paassen’s case is also not as clear-cut as it appears. Hamilton sued him for $100,000. In fact, all Hamilton got was $1,300. The publisher had to promise that future editions of the book would have to remove the offending passage. However, he did not have to recall and pulp existing copies of the book.

However, it is the third case that tells us most about what was going on. On 13th May 1941 the Daily Express published an article detailing the close relationship between the Duke of Hamilton and Rudolf Hess. The Duke’s solicitor had a meeting with Godfrey Norris, the editor of the newspaper. The solicitor later reported that Norris appeared willing to print a retraction. While the discussion was taking place Lord Beaverbrook, the proprietor of the newspaper, arrived. He overruled his editor and stated that the newspaper would stick to its accusation. Beaverbrook added that he could prove that Sir Archibald Sinclair lied when he claimed in the House of Commons that Hamilton had never met Rudolf Hess. Understandably, the Duke of Hamilton withdrew his threat to sue the Daily Express. (Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie, Beaverbrook, A Life, pages 409-10)

What is clear about these events is that Churchill and Sinclair made every attempt to protect the reputation of the Duke of Hamilton following the arrival of Hess. However, Beaverbrook, who like Hamilton was a prominent appeaser before the war, let him know that he was not in control of the situation.

After the war the Duke of Hamilton told his son that he was forced to take the blame for Hess arriving in Scotland in order to protect people who were more powerful than him. The son assumed he was talking about the royal family. It is possible he was also talking about Winston Churchill.

There are other signs that Hess had arrived to carry out serious peace negotiations with the British government.. On the very night that Rudolf Hess arrived in Scotland, London experienced its heaviest German bomb attack: 1,436 people were killed and some 12,000 made homeless. Many historic landmarks including the Houses of Parliament were hit. The Commons debating chamber – the main symbol of British democracy – was destroyed. American war correspondents based in London such as Walter Lippmann and Vincent Sheean, suggested that Britain was on the verge of surrender.
Yet, the 10th May marked the end of the Blitz. It was the last time the Nazis would attempt a major raid on the capital. Foreign journalist based in London at the time wrote articles that highlighted this strange fact. James Murphy even suggested that there might be a connection between the arrival of Hess and the last major bombing raid on London. 

(James Murphy, Who Sent Rudolf Hess, 1941 page 7)

This becomes even more interesting when one realizes at the same time as Hitler ordered the cessation of the Blitz, Winston Churchill was instructing Sir Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff, to reduce bombing attacks on Nazi Germany. Portal was surprised and wrote a memorandum to Churchill asking why the strategy had changed: “Since the Fall of France the bombing offensive had been a fundamental principle of our strategy.” Churchill replied that he had changed his mind and now believed “it is very disputable whether bombing by itself will be a decisive factor in the present war”. 

(John TerraineThe Right Line: The RAF in the European War 1939-45, 1985 page 295)

Is it possible that Hitler and Churchill had called off these air attacks as part of their peace negotiations? Is this the reason why Hess decided to come to Britain on 10th May, 1941? The date of this arrival is of prime importance. Hitler was no doubt concerned about the length of time these negotiations were taking. We now know that he was desperate to order the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) in early Spring. According to Richard Sorge of the Red Orchestra spy network, Hitler planned to launch this attack in May 1941. (Leopold TrepperThe Great Game, 1977, page 126)

However, for some reason the invasion was delayed. Hitler eventually ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22nd June, 1941. It would therefore seem that peace negotiations between Germany and Britain had come to an end. However, is this true? One would have expected Churchill to order to resume mass bombing of Germany. This was definitely the advice he was getting from Sir Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris also took a similar view. In June 1943, Harris was briefing American journalists about his disagreement with Churchill’s policy.

Douglas Reed, a British journalist with a good relationship with Portal and Churchill, wrote in 1943: “The long delay in bombing Germany is already chief among the causes of the undue prolongation of the war.” (Douglas Reed, Lest We Regret, 1943, page 331). One senior army figure told a journalist after the war that Hess’s arrival brought about a “virtual armistice” between Germany and Britain.

Early in 1944, John Franklin Carter, who was in charge of an intelligence unit based in the White House, suggested to President Franklin D. Roosevelt a scheme developed by Ernst Hanfstaengl. He suggested that Hanfstaengl should be allowed to fly to England and meet with Hess. Roosevelt contacted Winston Churchill about this and then vetoed the scheme. According to Joseph E. Persico, the author of Roosevelt's Secret War (2001): "The British, he explained, were not going to let anyone question the possibly insane Nazi, who had recently hurled himself head-first down a flight of stairs."

On 6th November, 1944, Churchill made a visit to Moscow. At a supper in the Kremlin, Joseph Stalin raised his glass and proposed a toast to the British Intelligence Services, which he said had “inveigled Hess into coming to England.” Winston Churchill immediately protested that he and the intelligence services knew nothing about the proposed visit. Stalin smiled and said maybe the intelligence services had failed to tell him about the operation.
Hess was kept in the Tower of London until being sent to face charges at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. On 13th November, 1945, American psychiatrist Dr Donald Ewen Cameron was sent by Allen Dulles of the OSS to assess Hess’s fitness to stand trial.
Cameron was carrying out experiments into sensory deprivation and memory as early as 1938. In 1943 he went to Canada and established the psychiatry department at Montreal's McGill University and became director of the newly-created Allan Memorial Institute that was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. At the same time he also did work for the OSS. It is almost certain that the US intelligence services were providing at least some of the money for his research during the war.

We know by 1947 he was using the “depatterning” technique to wipe out patients memories of the past. Donald Ewen Cameron believed that after inducing complete amnesia in a patient, he could then selectively recover their memory in such a way as to change their behaviour unrecognisably." In other words, Cameron was giving them a new past. Is it possible that Cameron and the OSS was doing this during the Second World War. Is it possible that the real reason for Cameron’s visit was that he wanted to assess the treatment he had been giving Hess since 1943? That Hess was one of Cameron’s guinea pigs.

When he came face to face with Hermann Göring at Nuremberg, Hess remarked: “Who are you”? Göring reminded him of events that they witnessed in the past but Hess continued to insist that he did not know this man. Karl Haushofer was then called in but even though they had been friends for twenty years, Hess once again failed to remember him. Hess replied “I just don’t know you, but it will all come back to me and then I will recognise an old friend again. I am terribly sorry.” (Peter PadfieldHess: The Führer’s Disciple, page 305).

Hess did not recognise other Nazi leaders. Joachim von Ribbentrop responded by suggesting that Hess was not really Hess. When told of something that Hess had said he replied: “Hess, you mean Hess? The Hess we have here?” (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 169).

However, Major Douglas M. Kelley, the American psychiatrist who was responsible for Hess during the trials, stated that he did have periods when he did remember his past. This included a detailed account of his flight to Scotland. Hess told Kelley that he had arrived without the knowledge of Hitler. Hess claimed that “only he could get the English King or his representatives to meet with Hitler and make peace so that millions of people and thousands of villages would be spared.” (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 168).

"Dulles first swore Dr Cameron to secrecy, and then told him an astounding story. He had reason to believe that the man Dr Cameron was to examine was not Rudolf Hess but an impostor; that the real Deputy Fuhrer had been secretly executed on Churchill's orders. Dulles had explained that Dr Cameron could prove the point by a simple physical examination of the man's torso. If he was the genuine Hess, there should be scar tissue over his left lung, a legacy from the day the young Hess had been wounded in the First World War. Dr Cameron had agreed to try to examine the prisoner."
Gordon Thomas, 
Journey into Madness (1993)
"Cameron's original interest - indeed obsession - was in finding a cure for schizophrenia (which makes it all the more significant that he failed to note any signs of it in Hess), but his driving professional ambitions could make him very difficult as a person. One member of the Rockefeller Foundation wrote that he had "a need for power which he nourishes by maintaining an extraordinary aloofness from his associates". 
Becoming disenchanted with psychoanalytical methods for curing schizophrenia, he turned to the now largely discredited electroshock therapy and also the use of drugs: his method involved first wiping the patient's memory clean by applying intensive electric shocks combined with virtually twenty-four-hour-a-day drug-induced sleep, resulting - as may be imagined - in total amnesia. 

Although Cameron himself had not invented this traumatically radical - perhaps even soul-destroying - technique, he had worked intensively with it since at least the 1940s. But perhaps more important is the fact that the electroshock therapy part had been originally recorded by two British psychiatrists, L. G. M. Page and R. J. Russell, who published a paper about it - after many years of intensive experimentation - in 1948.

Another major inspiration was the British psychiatrist William Sargent, whom Cameron considered to be the leading expert on Soviet brainwashing techniques." Cameron took this work and used it for what he called 'depatterning'. He believed that after inducing complete amnesia in a patient, he could then selectively recover their memory in such a way as to change their behaviour unrecognisably. If 'depatterning' has a bleak Orwellian ring to it, then 'psychic driving' - which Cameron invented in 1953 - takes us into an even more terrifying world. He discovered that once a subject entered an amnesiac, somnambulistic state, they would become hypersensitive to suggestion. If a statement was repeated to them over and over again (for example, on a tape loop), it would penetrate so deeply into their subconscious mind as to change their behaviour completely; their personality would undergo such a radical metamorphosis that they essentially became someone else. Such a powerful tool was not going to remain exclusively in the hands of therapists for long: soon the CIA became interested in the extraordinary potential of Cameron's 'psychic driving'.

There was no doubting its value to them. This sinister technique could be used to implant all manner of ideas in the mind of either a willing or an unwilling subject. For example, an agent on a secret mission could have his cover identity mentally implanted, not only enabling him to recall all the details of his assumed identity much more fluently than if he merely learned them off pat, but effectively turning him into that person. To all intents and purposes he would become his cover. However, the technique was by no means foolproof: there was always the danger of mental conflict between the real and induced memories, possibly resulting in bizarre and unpredictable behaviour.

Perhaps Cameron's work was directly responsible for changing the course of history. Although he was responsible for 'programming' several American agents through psychic driving in the late 1950s, the most notable was certainly Lee Harvey Oswald before his 'defection' to the USSR in 1959. Psychic driving was, as may be guessed, the first step in the creation of 'Manchurian Candidate' assassins, whose usual human scruples about committing murder had been wiped away with their real personalities. 

As American researcher John Marks writes: "By literally wiping the minds of his subjects clean by depatterning and then trying to program in new behaviour, Cameron carried the process known as brainwashing to its logical extreme

- Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior, 
Double Standards (2001)

"Mr. Justice Jackson, U.S. Chief of Counsel, had been fully aware of the peculiar psychiatric problems that might present themselves, not only in the case of Hess, but also in regard to certain of the other defendants. There had in consequence been some discussion on the advisability of a thorough examination in two phases: 

(1) before trial, to assess fitness to plead and similar matters; 

(2) after sentence, when it was felt that a team of psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists from each of the Allied countries might produce a complete survey and report on these men which would be of value for the future understanding of the Nazi mentality and the nature of the movement which had led to so great disasters. 

This clearly fitted in well with the expressed hope of the Tribunal that they would write an effective chapter in history.
Phase 1 of this plan was put into operation in November, 1945. On November 8th, Dr. Rees saw the British War Crimes Executive in London, at their request. He was told he was nominated to be asked to go out to Nuremberg. A later telegram asked, however, for an eminent physician and a neurologist to go also, as the Soviet consultant delegation had been so constituted. It was clearly preferable to refer this to the Royal College of Physicians for names, and this was done. Lord Moran and Dr. George Riddoch completed the party, which left on November 12th. Because of bad weather and a very slow and tiresome journey both ways, the stay in Nuremberg was less than twenty-four hours in duration, and the time for consultation and discussion with our colleagues was short.Colonel Schroeder and our three Russian colleagues were already there-Professor Delay arrived from Paris just before we left. Professors Lewis and Cameron did not arrive from U.S. till a day or two later."

The Case of Rudolf Hess (1947)
J. R. Rees