Hitler’s British Traitors: The Secret History of Spies, Saboteurs and Fifth Columnists  - Tim Tate

Hitler’s British Traitors: The Secret History of Spies, Saboteurs and Fifth Columnists - Tim Tate

A rather weighty tome in more ways than one. However, a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, and one that I learned many new things from.

I made the fatal mistake of opening this book when it first arrived and of ‘flicking’ through it, catching the odd paragraph here and there. I was hooked, and over the next few weeks every spare moment of my time went on reading this book.

Reading though, was only half the story. The content of the book caused me some very serious introspection and questioning of my own long held thoughts and beliefs: albeit that introspection was based on today’s knowledge rather than the knowledge available during the war. I must admit that I’m now a little uncomfortable with a few of my thoughts and will be carrying out further investigation to see just how valid they are.

Several common themes run through the book, and being honest these haven’t changed much over the years. Government offices are always struggling for finance and many are in absolute chaos with the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, with the hierarchy jockeying for position looking out for themselves, rather than the good of the country.

Another theme that holds good today is that the well connected (of which there were many) if they were brought to book, (rare!) would face rather lenient sentences whilst the foot soldiers would be facing the death penalty or hard penal servitude.

Had Hitler ever landed troops in the UK, without doubt he’d have found many friends here, not only from the higher echelons of society, but from all walks, including many former and serving military personnel. Those serving were to be encouraged to turn their fire ‘the right way’ in the event of an invasion.

Another piece that struck me as very pertinent to today’s world was the quote that the British don’t understand the Germans, because although ‘German political views may vary, a German is always totally loyal to Germany’. Maybe the Brexit talks would have proceeded differently had this particular lesson been learned?

The book is without doubt well researched and the author has identified his primary sources should any reader wish to follow things further; however the expression, ‘heavily weeded files’ made me smile on more than one occasion. There is plenty to be hidden, and it will remain hidden at all costs. Those that would betray us will do everything in their power to hide their identities. The fifth column hasn’t gone away.

One thing that I felt was not so good about the book were the plates. Whilst I had not seen most of them before I felt that they added little to the book, and they almost felt like ‘padding’.

A-G left a note on this book, hoping that it lived up to expectations. In general, it did, and I’ll run to 4 1/2 anchors on it. Not only did it keep me entertained, it added to my own personal knowledge base on what is a most interesting but rarely talked about subject.