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The Black Book

The Britons on the Nazi Hitlist

Sybil Oldfield



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17 November 2020
In 1939, the Gestapo created a list of names: the Britons whose removal would be the Nazis' first priority in the event of a successful invasion. Who were they? What had they done to provoke Germany? For the first time, the historian Sybil Oldfield uncovers their stories and reveals why the Nazis feared their influence.

Those on the hitlist - more than half of them naturalised refugees - were many of Britain's most gifted and humane inhabitants. Among their numbers we find the writers E. M. Forster and Virginial Woolf, humanitarians and religious leaders, scientists and artists, the social reformers Margery Fry and Eleanor Rathbone MP, the artists Jacob Epstein and Oscar Kokoschka.

By examining these targets of Nazi hatred, Oldfield not only sheds light on the Gestapo worldview; she also movingly reveals a network of truly exemplary Britons: mavericks, moral visionaries and unsung heroes.
By:   Sybil Oldfield
Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 39mm
Weight:   763g
ISBN:   9781788165082
ISBN 10:   178816508X
Pages:   448
Publication Date:   17 November 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sybil Oldfield is half German and half English. Her grandmother was a pacifist feminist socialist who was placed under Schreibverbot during the Nazi dictatorship. Her mother was classified as an 'enemy alien naturalized by marriage' in Britain after WWII broke out. Oldfield is now Emeritus Reader in English at the University of Sussex and a researcher for The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. A nuclear pacifist, she has campaigned on the psychological disarmament side of the anti-war movement since the 1960s.

Reviews for The Black Book: The Britons on the Nazi Hitlist

This meticulous account ... demonstrates not only the passionate anti-fascist resistance in Britain but yet again the incredible richness of culture, science and education brought by the refugees ... Oldfield's conclusion comes in the form of an unanswerable and unsettling question: would we today, in modern Britain, champion the rights these people fought for with the same doggedness and courage? -- Caroline Moorehead * TLS * Oldfield's thoroughly researched and fascinating historical biography explores the lives of many of the 2,600 citizens who attracted Hitler's ire, ranging from high-profile entertainers and writers to those naturalised refugees who doggedly resisted the Nazis from afar * Observer * Fascinating ... It is as though someone compiled an edition of the Dictionary of National Biography for the year 1940 with the qualification for each entry being that the Nazis hated them -- Robert Hutton * BBC History * A veritable who's who of the people who tried to sound the alarm about the Nazi threat, fight fascism and assist the imperiled Jews of Germany and Austria ... From art historians to musicologists, political thinkers to scientists and classists, [Oldfield demonstrates] the wider contribution that the refugees from Nazism listed in the Black Book made to their adopted country -- Robert Philpot * The Times of Israel * A fascinating book ... it serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of intolerance and the politics of hate * Daily Express * A protean and wondrous document, a fascinating and formidable piece of scholarship, a combative testament to those whom Oldfield calls throughout heroes of humanity ... It is, above all, deeply human, and unabashedly focused on the spirit and the soul of the past as well as of the present -- Mika Provata-Carlone * Bookanista * Revelatory ... not just a valuable historical document but also an apposite warning * Morning Star *

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