In October 1934 three British women, Monica Whately, Selina Cooper and B. Pierce-Jones, went on a delegation to Munich on behalf of the British section of Women Against War and Fascism (WAWAF). The visit was made in response to the imprisonment without trial of certain German women. The most prominent case was that of Mrs Beimler, the wife of a Communist Deputy who had managed to escape from Dachau where he had been placed by the German authorities. WAWAF believed that these women were being held as hostages by the German regime.
The report of the delegation makes chilling reading. It describes an atmosphere of terror amongst the civilian population, with people afraid to speak openly. Secret police shadowed civilians. Labour Camps were used extensively to drill young men in the ideology of National Socialism. The WAWAF delegation was refused permission to visit Mrs Beimler. The final paragraph of their report states:
‘The visit of the delegation to Germany was far from reassuring. We feel that it is essential that the people of this country should voice their protest in a very definite form. Is elementary justice to be flouted – and can women of England be silent, while their German sisters are being subjected to imprisonment, torture – and even death?’ (1)
Meetings were held around Britain on the return of the delegation in an attempt to alert people to the situation in Germany and to the growing threat of Nazism.
(1) Report of the WAWAF delegation to Munich. Archive ref: DDX1137 2/116, Lancashire Archives.
J. Liddington, 1984. The Life and Times of a Respectable Rebel (London: Virago Press).