The Modern Records Centre's collections contain sources on Britain's relationship with Germany from c.1914 onwards. Most of the archives focus on the political, economic and diplomatic relationships between the countries, but we also hold some more personal or informal documents.
‘The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism’: Relations under Wilhelm II
The MRC has only a small amount of (mostly published) material regarding the pre-1914 relationship between Britain and Germany.
Germany and England by Robert Blatchford, 
Pamphlet which reprints a Daily Mail article by the socialist Robert Blatchford, calling for action against the German "menace" against the British Empire.
Daily News & Leader pamphlet on the international arms traffic, armament companies and military expenditure by Germany and Britain.
A reply to "Scaremongerings", 
Article reprinted from The Star, which attacks Lord Northcliffe for issuing a pamphlet entitled 'Scaremongerings from the 'Daily Mail,' 1896-1914' - a selective collection of articles prophesying war with Germany - and for attacking Liberal newspapers for their coverage over the same period. It also accuses Northcliffe of warmongering, Jingoism and belittling the British army in the run up to the First World War.
‘The Crisis of the Anglo-German Antagonism’? The First World War
The MRC's sources on the First World War period are limited, and in most cases relate to experiences on the British home front. We do however have a small amount of material on the portrayal of Germany in Britain, the experiences of servicemen, and opposition to the war.
To get a general idea of the type of material that we hold for this period, have a look at our First World War 100 digital collection - 100 digitised documents on the conflict, including material on military service, the home front, pacifism and protest, the role of women, and demobilisation and recovery
Archives of the National Union of Seamen
During the First World War, the National Sailors and Firemen's Union (later the National Union of Seamen) made strong attacks on both German naval policy (particularly the submarine campaign) and Germans in general.
The Seaman, newspaper of the NSFU / NUS, included regular anti-German articles during the First World War
Editions between 1908-1946 have been digitised in full and indexes are included at the beginning of each volume.
Includes report of emotional speeches made by union officials at the 1917 Trades Union Congress, against proposed peace negotiations with "bloodstained" Germany
Report on International Mercantile Marine Conference held in London in 1917 . The conference was held to condemn German actions (particularly over submarine warfare), and the report includes forthright anti-German speeches made by members of the NSFU.
Daily Citizen (headline: 'Can Britain stop Europe's war madness?'), Labour Party newspaper, 1 August 1914
Collections of cartoons by Will Dyson, taken from the left-wing newspaper The Herald. Most focus on the home front, including criticisms of 'Prussianism' in Britain. Dyson spent part of the First World War on the Western Front as a war artist.
What the War is teaching John Bull: cartoons from the Railway Review, 1914-1918
British newspapers on the Armistice, 10-12 November 1918:
Illustrated Sunday Herald (headline: 'The Kaiser abdicates'), 10 Nov 1918
The Daily Chronicle (headlines: 'The Armistice' and 'Kaiser abdicates'), 11 Nov 1918
The Daily Chronicle (headline: 'End of the Great World War'), 12 Nov 1918
The Daily Mirror (headline: 'How London hailed the end of war'), 12 Nov 1918
Letters from John (Jack) Young, British soldier serving with the Australian army
The correspondence includes some references to Young's views on the German management of the war. Two letters have been digitised: 25 April 1917 and 1 June 1918 (you can read a typed transcript by choosing the 'text' option)
The suppressed speech, made in 1918 and published in c.1934
Text of speech made by Company-Sergeant-Major Franklin, M.C., to the Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps on 19 July 1918, in which he portrays German soldiers as sub-human and describes the "delightful feeling" of killing them at close quarters with the bayonet.
This letter describes a fleeting but memorable encounter between Collick, a British soldier, and Waller, a wounded German prisoner, on the Western Front in 1918.
Newspapers and journals produced by non-mainstream political groups:
Freedom, anarchist newspaper, complete run for First World War period
The Socialist Standard, journal of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, complete run for First World War period
The Spur, 1914-1921, anarchist journal edited by a conscientious objector
The edition for December 1917 has been digitised
Making Peace: Versailles and German Democracy
Two distinct views on the post-war reconstruction of Europe can be seen in the archives of the Federation of British Industries (representing the interests of British employers) and the archives of the Trades Union Congress (reflecting the views of the British and international labour movements).
Peace Treaty Revision, 1918-1925
Trades Union Congress file on the Treaty of Versailles and debates over its revision. Includes material relating to the responses of both the British and broader international labour movement to disarmament and reparations. Several items in the file have been digitised:
British labour and the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, International Federation of Trade Unions press release, [1922?]
Information for meeting of International Committee, 12 January 1922, submitted by Arthur Pugh following his visit to Germany. Includes copy of appeal to British workers from the Works Council, Deutsche-Werke, Erfurt
Three notable protests against the peace treaty, Union of Democratic Control pamphlet, June 1919
War debts tangle. British business men on German reparations: cutting from Daily News, 24 November 1921
Mr McKenna's warning. Reparations the cause of unemployment: cutting from Daily News, 27 October 1921
Understanding with Germany. Mr Churchill on peace in Europe: cutting from The Times, 30 November 1921
Minutes of the Terms of Peace Committee, December 1918-February 1919
Federation of British Industries minutes, recording views of British business representatives on the proposed payment of indemnities or reparations by Germany and representation of British industry at the peace conference.
Official summary of peace treaty, Daily News supplement, 8 May 1919
The British in Germany: Diplomats, Occupiers and Enforcers of the Treaty
From the Ruhr Crisis to the ‘Locarno Spirit’: Normalising relations in the mid-1920s
MRC sources on the relationship between Britain and Germany during the 1920s relate mostly to trade and economic relations (through the archives of the Federation of British Industries) and to the relationship between sections of the international labour movement (through the archives of the Trades Union Congress and other trade unions).
Germany - report by Mr Locock, representative of the Federation of British Industries, of a visit to the Occupied Territories, with prospects for trade, 1919
Trades Union Congress file on Germany, 1918-1925
Correspondence file, including letters with General Federation of German Trade Unions. Subjects include the situation in the Saar and Ruhr districts.
Trades Union Congress file on Germany, 1921-1934
File of reports, memoranda, circulars and press-cuttings. Includes some material on the situation in Germany after the invasion of the Ruhr, 1923.
Labour and the Ruhr, 1923
Report of British Labour delegation appointed by the Parliamentary Labour Party to visit the district.
The Ruhr by Ben Tillett, A. Creech-Jones and Samuel Warren, 1923
Descriptive report by members of a deputation from the Transport and General Workers Union on conditions in the Ruhr and the effects of reparations. It also includes comment on conditions in the British occupied areas of the Rhineland.
Federation of British Industries file on the Anglo-German commercial treaty, including notes of meetings with the Board of Trade, 1924
Report written for the Federation of British Industries following a visit of FBI representatives to Germany. It includes analysis of different aspects of the German economy and industrial production following the severe financial crisis in 1925, and concludes that "the worst is now over".
‘Germany Wants to See You’: Travel and Tourism in the 1920s and 30s
The Modern Records Centre holds the National Cycle Archive, a collection which includes descriptions and photographs of cycling tours or holidays to Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. Cycling journals in this collection, such as Cycling , will include illustrated articles about foreign tours.
A small number of additional documents relating to travel and tourism are included in the archives of trade unions (including reports of fraternal delegations between the two countries during the 1920s and early 1930s) and individuals.
Small file of letters sent to the British trade unionist Percy Collick from Elizabeth, Harry and Nils Grottewitz in Berlin-Friedenau, and Leopold Czerny in Vienna. Collick had met the correspondents whilst visiting Germany and Austria in the early 1920s. Subjects discussed include politics (including 1923 elections in Austria and UK), living conditions in Germany and Austria after the First World War, industrial relations, the international situation, benefits of Esperanto, and the correspondents' personal circumstances.
In a German miner's home, 1921
Pamphlet published by the Independent Labour Party. It contains a personal description by Charles Roden and Dorothy Frances Buxton of their stay with the Heinz family in Essen, including observations on their living conditions, local politics and the effects of the Versailles Treaty on ordinary people.
International trade union and labour football, The Railway Service Journal, September, October and December 1929
Series of illustrated articles in the journal of the Railway Clerks' Association, reporting on a British and Irish football team's tour of Germany organised under the banner of "Sport and Peace versus War".
Correspondence, etc., written by Richard Crossman during visits to Germany in his 20s:
Letters to his parents, 1930-1931
Accounts for German trip, c.1930 (included in diary)
Travel journal of David Hamilton. It describes his cycling tour of Germany shortly after Hitler came to power, and includes references to the new regime, as well as more general descriptions of scenery and towns.
Short illustrated articles on a Young Women's Christian Association trip to Germany, partly to see the Oberammergau passion play.
Pamphlet which uses the style of a travel brochure to highlight attacks on foreign visitors in Germany in 1933-4. It was produced by the printer of the Trades Union Congress, though the TUC is not explicitly named in the publication.
The author worked for the left-wing newspaper the Daily Herald and had visited Germany in a personal capacity. The account was sent to the Trades Union Congress to show "how the Nazis seek to influence English students".
German tour, or two cycles in Germany, by J. Fuller, 1938
Typescript description of cycling tour. As well as seeing the sights, the author was briefly arrested for taking photographs in the 'wrong' place.
Two innocents abroad: an account of a tour by tandem bicycle in Germany in late May, early June 1938, by Les and Jess Brown
Later typescript description of the couple's first foreign tour. It includes comment on border restrictions, awkwardness when Germans thought that Jess (with short hair and shorts) was male, encounters with members of the Hitler Youth, and problems over taking photographs.
Wandering wheels: photographs taken during a tour of Holland, Germany and Czechoslovakia during the 1930s (Nazi insignia on buildings is visible in some photographs)
Kuklos in Germany: photographs taken during a tour of Germany, probably in 1936
Cultural Links in the 1920s and 30s
The MRC's collections include only small amounts of material relating to cultural and sporting relations between Britain and Germany during the inter-war years.
International trade union and labour football, The Railway Service Journal, April, May, September, October and December 1929
Series of articles in the journal of the Railway Clerks' Association, reporting on a German football tour of Britain and a return tour by a British and Irish football team to Germany, organised under the banner of "Sport and Peace versus War".
Trades Union Congress file which contains correspondence, reports, press cuttings and other documents relating to the debate over the use of a sporting occasion for political propaganda.
Sport in Nazi Germany, 1935
Trades Union Congress file which contains published material, circulars and extracts from press articles on German sport and the State during the build-up to the Berlin Olympics.
The Workers' Theatre Movement in Britain took inspiration from Russian and German socialist agit-prop theatre. Copies of several of the WTM publications are included in our online resources for the module on British political theatre, 1930s-1950s
Article by Bertolt Brecht on 'The German drama: pre-Hitler', published in the British journal Left Review, July 1936
Exhibition of Twentieth Century German Art: letter from Irmgard Burchard, Hon. Organiser, with publicity leaflet and card, 9 Jul 1938
Publicity material for London exhibition of the work of artists condemned as 'degenerate' in Germany.
Changing Perceptions of National Socialism, 1929-37
Unsurprisingly, as left-wing political opponents and trade unionists were early targets of the National Socialists in Germany, the majority of our archival sources strongly oppose the Nazis from the start. Whilst most sources are hostile, they do however contain differing views on the nature and likely longevity of the Nazi regime.
The archives of the Trades Union Congress
The Trades Union Congress files on Germany include documents relating to the TUC's own position and correspondence, reports and ephemera from other organisations, both British and German (including exile and emigree groups). As an example, a file on the political situation in c.1933 includes notes of meetings with a representative of the German Social Democratic Party and the German Ambassador, and documents circulated by the International Federation of Trade Unions, Reichstag Trial Defence and German Delegation Committee, Catholic Social Guild, the editor of the pro-Nazi German newspaper Deutsche Postzeitung, the Labour Party, the National Peace Council, the Labour and Socialist International, and German Relief Committee. The TUC files during this period include two on proposals for a British boycott of German goods and four on the activities of the World and British Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi Council. A series of files on the broader issue of fascism and dictatorship (particularly in Britain, Italy and Germany) are also available.
The archives of Richard Crossman
Richard Crossman made two sets of broadcasts on political and social conditions in Nazi Germany for the BBC - one series in 1934, whilst he was actually in Germany, and another in 1939-1942, whilst working for the Political Warfare Executive (i.e psychological warfare) during the Second World War. Some themes are revisited in both sets of broadcasts, including the Night of the Long Knives, which occured whilst Crossman was in Germany. Transcripts of the radio broadcasts are available online.
Letters to Richard Crossman's future wife Zita Baker, written whilst in Germany in 1934, are also included in the archive
The message warns British trade unionists of the dangers of fascism and comments on the rise of the National Socialists and the current conditions in Germany.
Souvenir programme for event at the Royal Albert Hall.
Press cutting from the Manchester Guardian.
Why the boycott of Nazi Germany?, [1935?]
Pamphlet issued by the British Section of the World Non-Sectarian Ant-Nazi Council to Champion Human Rights.
Boycott German goods, undated [mid 1930s]
Leaflet issued by the National Council of Labour (i.e. the Labour Party and Trades Union Congress).
The Women Shoppers' League, undated [1936?]
Leaflet calling for a boycott of German goods.
Unchanging Germany, 1936
Pamphlet by Captain A.H. Henderson-Livesey. It takes the view later popularised by Vansittart - that Hitler and military aggression were a reflection of the German 'character'.
It includes information about group visits to Germany to enquire "into the fundamental principles underlying the National Socialist Revolution in Germany", and was circulated by Amy Buller, Warden of the University of Liverpool, one of the group organisers.
Collections at the MRC contain a range of views on appeasement, including archives relating to attempts to influence the British government through an appeal for intervention by one of Hitler's German opponents, the support of a committed pacifist to the policy of appeasement, and documents relating to the organisation of protests against the Munich Agreement.
This 'ready-made' search of the MRC catalogue links to descriptions of more than 70 documents on appeasement, the Munich Agreement, and British responses to the German invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The archives of Arthur Primrose Young
A.P. Young, a works manager at British Thomson-Houston in Rugby, met with Dr Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, former Mayor of Leipzig, and a conservative opponent of the Nazis (aka 'X'), in 1938-9. The 'X' Documents , which Young produced as a result of his discussions with Goerdeler, called for determined and decisive action by Britain, but did not make headway at the highest levels in 1938-9. Goerdeler was executed in 1945 for his role in the 1944 bomb plot against Hitler.
Some of Young's "notes of a conversation with 'X'" have been digitised
Young's papers also include ephemera relating to the Hundred Thousand Movement, c.1939, an anti-appeasement pressure group.
The archives of the Trades Union Congress
The TUC archives include a series of files relating to Czechoslovakia, including files on the international situation around the time of the Munich Agreement (including pamphlets which outline the Labour Party's response), organisation of a public protest meeting against appeasement following the Munich Agreement, and the reception of refugees in Britain.
The collection also includes material relating to earlier anti-appeasement / anti-Nazi protests, including a file on arrangements for a 1936 rally in defence of freedom and peace, and files on the World and British Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi Council (including notes of a private meeting with Churchill in 1936).
The archives of Marjory Allen, Lady Allen of Hurtwood
Marjory Allen was a landscape architect, campaigner for pre-school education and promoter of child welfare. Lady Allen's archives include material relating to her husband's championing of appeasement with Germany during the 1930s. Clifford Allen condemned Nazi brutality and anti-semitism, but opposed military action due to his strong pacifist beliefs (he was three times imprisoned as a conscientious objector during the First World War).
The archives include a series of press cuttings albums from the 1930s, including reports of Allen's meeting with Hitler and failed attempt to intercede to save the life of Hans Litten, a prominent opponent of the Nazi regime
The collection also includes a series of press photos which show Berlin decorated for the Olympic games and a Nazi parade through the streets of Nuremburg
Protest against the meeting of George Lansbury with Hitler, issued by the leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Apr 1937
Hitler's friends in Britain: Sidelights on the Cliveden Set, Communist Party pamphlet, 1938
Straight Talk, no.47, "conducted by Peter F. Somerville", on Germany and Czechoslovakia (includes observations made on visit to Germany), 7 September 1938
International Peace Campaign News Letter, no.13, on Czechoslovakia and the Munich Agreement, 21 September 1938
Chamberlain the Peace Maker, leaflet advertising a film reel about the Munich negotiations, 1938
The facts: Czechoslovakia's martyrdom, European Association and the League of Nations Union leaflet on the Munich Agreement, 1938
British labour's "message to German people", Voluntary Industrial Aid for Spain leaflet, including reproduction of article from the Manchester Guardian, 1938
The full facts of the Czech crisis, Labour Party pamphlet on Czechoslovakia and the Munich Agreement, November 1938
The Parting of the Ways? The Second World War
The majority of Second World War material in the MRC's collections relates to the British home front. We do however have some sources on German refugees and exiled political groups in Britain, and the wartime debates on the "German question" (i.e. was Germany inherently aggressive?) and how the country should be treated once the war was over.
Germans in Britain: Internment and refugees
Two Trades Union Congress files on "Aliens and internment", including ephemera and correspondence (some relating to individual cases), 1940-1943
A leaflet, 'Anti-fascist refugees interned', and a self-published pamphlet by Louis Eleazar Gutmann-Pelangen, on his own experiences of internment and the case of the Arandora Star, have been digitised
The TUC archive contains many more files on refugees during the Second World War, including files on the Co-ordinating Committee for Refugees, 1938-1940, and Central Committee for Refugees, 1940-1949, and documents relating to individual cases
Records concerning application for release of Minna Specht, educator and socialist, from internment, 1940
The internment and treatment of aliens, speakers' notes from the National Council for Civil Liberties, May 1941
Illustrated almanac, produced by inmates of Hutchinson Internment Camp, Douglas, Isle of Man, 1941
The refugees and industry, leaflet from the Christian Council for Refugees from Germany and Central Europe, July 1941
The refugees: Some facts and figures, pamphlet, Apr 1945
Germans in Britain: Political groups in exile
Free German Movement, file on the exile group from the archives of the Trades Union Congress, 1941-1945
Free German Movement, file on the exile group from the archives of Victor Gollancz, 1944
Free German Trade Union Group, file on the exile group from the archives of the Trades Union Congress, 1939-1945
Social Democratic Party, file on German Social Democrats in Britain from the archives of the Trades Union Congress, 1939-1942
Sir Robert Vansittart took a strong anti-German line, arguing that Hitler was a reflection of the inherent aggression of Germans as a whole. The MRC holds several publications relating to the wartime argument over 'Vansittartism', together with some ephemera from groups which promoted 'Vansittartism' or held similar anti-German views.
Trades Union Congress file on the post-war treatment of Germany, 1939-1946, including text of speech by Eleonora Tennant on Lord Vansittart (arguing that not only was Vansittart not sufficiently anti-German, he was actually a German spy), and documents from and about the 'Never Again' and 'Face the Facts' Associations, including leaflets which summarise their aims and objectives.
Three 'Face the Facts' Association leaflets, 1943-1944, have been digitised
Fight For Freedom, 1942-1943, circulars from the pro-Vansittart group, including copies of several speeches by Vansittart
Fight for Freedom, 1942-1944, circulars, ephemera, etc., from the pro-Vansittart group
Sir Robert Vansittart, Black record: Germans past and present, Sep 1941
Heinrich Fraenkel, Vansittart's gift for Goebbels: A German exile's answer to Black Record, Jun 1941
Harold J. Laski, The Germans - are they human? A reply to Sir Robert Vansittart, 1941
Parliamentary Peace Aims Group, Germany's record: A reply to Lord Vansittart, undated [post 1941]
Douglas Brown, Commonsense versus Vansittartism, 1943
Manifesto Against race hatred and for a socialist peace, Undated [1941-1945]
Victor Gollancz, Shall our children live or die? A reply to Lord Vansittart on the German problem, 1942
Curt Geyer and Walter Loeb, Gollancz in German wonderland (response to 'Shall our children live or die?'), 1942
Ourselves and the German people, information sheet compiled by the Young Women's Christian Association, Apr 1942
What about Germany? An outline for discussion groups, National Peace Council pamphlet on "the German question", 1944
Anglo-German Relations since World War II
Archives at the MRC include material relating to the Allied occupation of Germany (particularly in the British zone), the Allied policy of denazification, a British campaigner's response to post-war conditions in Germany, post-war trade and economic relations, and the relationship between the organised labour movements of Britain and (mostly) West Germany.
The archives of Richard Crossman
Richard Crossman returned to Germany, a country he had visited during the 1920s and 1930s, with the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in 1944-1945. His archives include documents about the work of the Psychological Warfare Division during the early period of the Allied occupation of Germany, including reports of interviews with / interrogations of Germans, reports on journeys by PWD officers within occupied Germany, and the results of a February 1945 opinion poll amongst German prisoners of war on 'Expectations of Anglo-American occupation of Germany'
Crossman's archives also include a diary kept during May 1945, whilst in Germany, including Crossman's comments on his return to Frankfurt, a city he had lived in during 1930, observations on meetings with German civilians, and a description of Dachau concentration camp, shortly after liberation
The archives of Victor Gollancz, publisher
An extensive series of correspondence files relating to Germany, particularly during the 1940s and 1950s (catalogue description), including a file of letters from correspondents who objected to his pro-German views, 1946-1949
Documents relating to Gollancz's visit to Germany in 1946, including:
Correspondence, reports and memoranda on the administration of the British zone, the conditions in which German civilians were living, public opinion, and attempts at denazification . Five documents from these files have been digitised
Copies of the book In Darkest Germany, written as a result of Gollancz's visit, are held by the University Library
Documents relating to the Save Europe Now group, an organisation which opposed punitive measures against Germany
The archives of the Trades Union Congress
The TUC archives include files relating to Germany and Anglo-German relations during the immediate post-war period. These include:
Three files relating to the administration of Wilton Park Training Centre, Buckinghamshire, used as a centre for denazification or re-education of German prisoners of war between 1946-1948 . Two documents have been digitised:
A file on dismantling of German factories, particularly iron and steel works, 1948-1950
A file on political and economic conditions, 1945-1952
A file on social conditions, 1945-1953
Two files on the employment of German scientists by the British government, as part of arrangements for reparations, 1946-1949
The archives of the Federation of British Industries
The FBI archives include documents relating to economic relations with Germany, including the debates over reparations and post-war trade. These include:
A file on German reparations, 1945-1948
Some additional sources:
Photocopy of the diary of Brigadier John Barraclough, Military Governor, North Rhine Province, Control Commission for Germany (British Element), 1945-1947