German Socialists in Britain and their Shifting Alliances 1933-1945


Merilyn Moos will introduce her 3 books celebrating the lives and struggles of left-wing Germans who opposed the Nazis from exile. These may be freely downloaded below.

Anti-Nazi Exiles German Socialists in Britain and their Shifting Alliances 1933-1945 by
Merilyn Moos
PDF available to download free.
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Hans Jahn Biography of an Anti-Nazi Trade Unionist
by Merilyn Moos
PDF available to download free.
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German Anti-Nazis and the British Empire The Special Operations Executive, Deserters from the German Army and Partisan Movements in Occupied Europe
by Merilyn Moos
PDF available to download free.
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The refugees Merilyn will be discussing almost all fled Germany as political activists, most from a working class background. They risked their lives again and again in Germany, often escaped arrest and probable death without knowing where they would end up.

Most survived. But, once in Britain, organising an anti-Nazi struggle became very difficult and there was much disagreement as to the best means. Merilyn will examine the details of a few of these refugees. One example is Hans Jahn, President of the German Railway Union. Faced with the Nazis’ attempt to break working class organisations, he tried to organise anti-Nazi resistance amongst railway workers, even when, later, he was exiled here. He  was to say that “one of the greatest tragedies is that German unions did not fight to prevent Hitler taking power in 1933”.

More ferociously anti-Nazi than many at the time in the UK, some anti-Nazi German exiles risked their lives all over again in an often uneasy alliance with sections of the British military. Some worked with SOE. A small group, almost all of whom had fought in Spain, fled to France and then were sent by the French Government to camps in Algeria. They also ‘volunteered’ to fight with the British. Thousands of Germans were conscripted into the 999 ‘Death battalions’, a sub-section of the Wehrmacht, made up largely of political prisoners. Many of them either deserted to the partisans in Greece or clandestinely supported them. Upon the partisans’ defeat, a few of the German deserters escaped to Albania and supported their partisans. The tensions within British policy between being anti-fascist and pro-imperialist, are sharply exposed during the Greek civil war when the German deserters who first were fighting with the partisans  alongside the British against the Nazi forces, then fought with the partisans against the British.

It is a good time for such stories of courage and resistance to be heard.