Today, on 8 May, seems an appropriate moment to mark the 71st Victory in Europe Day, or V.E. Day, by publicly acknowledging, thanking and remembering a kind bibliophile for donating some Nazi publications to the Bodleian Library. Such material should continue to be made accessible and preserved, ideally in a library, as a reminder to subsequent generations of the horrors of the Third Reich and the Second World War. Photos of Hitler posing with children make for very uncomfortable and unnerving viewing as do shots of the German navy, however excellent the German photographic skills and equipment are.
As so often, libraries are the vehicles through which members of the public, scholars and students can benefit from the generosity of other members of the public. My warmest thanks must therefore go to Mr Andrew McCarthy for his kindness in donating the following books, which once belonged to his father Mr Reginald McCarthy, to the Bodleian Library:
Hans Heinz Mantau-Sadila (Hrsg.), Deutsche Führer, Deutsches Schicksal : das Buch der Künder und Führer des Dritten Reiches. (München : Steinebach, 1934)
Hans Weberstedt, Kurt Langner, Adolf Hitler & Kurt Langner, Gedenkhalle für die Gefallenen des Dritten Reiches. (München : Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachf., 1935)
Heinrich Hoffmann (Hrsg.), Jugend um Hitler : 120 Bilddokumente aus der Umgebung des Führers. 1.-30 Tsd. (Berlin : Zeitgeschichte-Verl., Nationalsozialismus, 1935)
Fritz-Otto Busch, Die deutsche Kriegsmarine im Kampf: Schiffe und Taten. 1. – 20 Tsd.(Berlin : Vier Tannen Verlag, 1943)
Norbert von Baumbach, Ruhmestage der Deutschen Marine: Bilddokumente des Seekrieges. (Hamburg : Broschek, 1933)
Werner Hartmann, Feind in Fadenkreuz: U-Boot auf Jagd im Atlantik. Mit einem Vorwort vom Befehlshaber der U-Boote, Vizeadmiral Karl Dönitz. (Berlin : Verlag Die Heimbücherei, 1942)
Josef Pöchlinger, Das Buch vom Westwall. 2. Aufl. (Berlin : O. Elsner, 1940)
Heinrich Pfannschmidt, Arthur Schmidt & Otto Roy, Deutscher Jugendklang. T. 1. Liederbuch f. VI-OI. Mit e. kurzen Elementarlehre d. Musik. 3. durchges. Aufl. (Berlin Trowitzsch, 1938)
Edwin Erich Dwinger, Zwischen Weiss und Rot : die russische Tragödie 1919-1920 (Jena : Diederichs, 1930)
Apart from the historiographical interest, those interested in the history of photography will likewise find some of the visual content noteworthy.
Below, Mr Andrew McCarthy reflects on his father’s life, his interest in German culture, his loathing of Hitler and keen book-collecting but also book-donating habits to school libraries and German prisoners of war. He sounds a fascinating and multi-faceted man.
Isabel Holowaty, History Librarian
REFLECTIONS ON MY FATHER
by Andrew McCarthy
I cannot remember a time when I was not surrounded by books. My father, Reginald McCarthy, bought and read books all his life. He taught me to read when I was four, and as soon as I could read, he bought books for me. He was born in 1896 and died in 1982. He served in the East Yorkshire Regiment during the Great War, and was wounded at Passchendaele. He spent most of his working life as an architect, surveyor, and estate agent. In the 1930s he owned and edited a local weekly newspaper, the “Hornsea and District Bulletin”, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. No copies are known to survive.
My father spoke fluent German, which he had taught himself in an era when German books were printed in Gothic type. He would walk around the house declaiming Heine’s “Die Lorelei”, which he knew by heart.
He loathed the Nazis, Hitler, and all that he stood for, but he would buy almost anything in German if it looked interesting. I grew up seeing the books which I have given to the Bodleian Library sitting next to “Andersen’s Märchen und Geschichten”, German editions of Shakespeare, “Im Westen Nichts Neues”, “Die Kreuzerfahrten der Goeben und Breslau”, and my boyhood favourite, “Auto, Schiff und Flugzeug.”
He was an obsessive collector, who believed that money spent on bookshelves could be better spent on books. There were piles of books all over our house. If my father needed a book which was at the bottom of a pile, he would pull it out carefully. The pile would wobble, but stay upright, only to fall over days later, often in the middle of dinner. In 1977, there were over 3,500 books in our house.
My father loved collecting, but he also enjoyed giving books away to school libraries, or anyone else who might appreciate them. I don’t think he ever imagined that some of his books would end up in the Bodleian. He gave books to the libraries of the schools I attended. I have 28 letters (I’ve just counted them!) from Sister Augustine, the Headmistress of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Nottingham, thanking him for books. She said:
“I think soon the Library will have to be known as the McCarthy library… Mr Crawley has already absorbed the books into the library, and, as I have said before, thanks to you it is building up into something truly worthwhile.”
I also have some letters which were sent to him in 1946 and 1947 from the Commandant of the Prisoner of War Camp in Wollaton Park, in Nottingham, thanking him for several donations of books.
The Second World War had only just ended, but my father felt sorry for the German prisoners, so he gave them books in German. He loathed the Nazis, but he’d fought against German soldiers on the Somme in 1916 and at Passchendaele in 1917, and was able to see “Jerry”, as he always called the German soldier, as a human being.
It’s interesting to learn how the system at the Prisoner of War Camp worked. My father was asked if he would send the Commandant the full details of any books he wanted to give to the camp library, so that they could be approved (or not) by “the appropriate department in London”. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” was welcomed with enthusiasm, but “ANILIN” was on the banned list.
My father’s record-keeping was chaotic – just like his shelving of books – but I am fairly sure that he bought the Nazi books from Foyle’s on the Charing Cross Road in the 1930s. He told me that the staff kept them on one side for him. When a young British Nazi, or Fascist, had repeatedly asked if they had any books about Hitler and the Nazis. Foyles’ staff pretended that they didn’t. They were keeping the books for my father, because they knew he hated Hitler. My father was a loyal reader of the “Daily Telegraph”, which, along with the “Manchester Guardian”, reported the activities of the Nazis in the 1930s fairly accurately. The editor of the “Times”, Geoffrey Dawson, was an appeaser, and would suppress or modify news stories which might anger Hitler.
From 1922 until 1932 my father lived in Hornsea, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He was an architect, surveyor, and estate agent. He owned and edited the local weekly newspaper, the “Hornsea and District Bulletin.” As if he didn’t have enough to do, he also ran a private library. This was in his office in Newbegin, Hornsea. Books could be borrowed for a small annual subscription. This was the heyday of the private library, when Boots and and W.H. Smith’s branches would lend books for a small fee.
From 1927 until 1931-1932, my father was a member of the Hornsea Urban District Council. He said that there were: “Three Colonels, a major, a plumber, a cobbler and a postman M.P. Politics were banned, they sat round the table classless, for the good of their town.”
In 1930, the council proposed establishing a public lending library. At first, my father objected, because Hornsea ratepayers would have to bear some of the cost, as this cutting from the “Beverley Guardian”, of February 8th 1930, explains. When the East Riding County Council offered a library of one thousand books, paid for by the County, my father withdrew his objection. The library, in the Town Hall, opened on March 14th, 1930. It opened 101 times in its first year, and 29,542 books were issued. Some residents were not as conscientious as they should have been. In June, 1931, the Waterworks, Fire Brigade, Museum and Library Committee decided to write “strong letters to persons who had failed to return books within the allotted time”.
My father’s obsession with books lasted all his life. He would have been astonished and delighted to learn that some of his books have ended up in the Bodleian.
Andrew McCarthy is the author of “The Huns Have Got My Gramophone: Advertisements from the Great War”, Bodleian Library Publishing, 2014. http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/news/2014/jun-24