The road to the Second World War in Europe is well documented. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in 1933 and proceeded to rearm Germany. These actions challenged the Treaty of Versailles that concluded the First World War. On March 7, 1936 German troops occupied the Rhineland, a demilitarized sector in western Germany. High tensions in Europe were the backdrop for Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s visit to Berlin in June 1937.
Mackenzie King was looking to prevent a war. He knew that Canada would have to support Britain in another European conflict and wanted to avoid the divisions (especially between English and French Canada) that characterized the country’s response to the First World War. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were looking for positive publicity and further insight into Britain and her dominions’ attitude to an increasingly aggressive Nazi foreign policy.
Today’s guest, Robert Teigrob, joins us to explore King’s visit to Nazi Germany. We discuss King’s audiences with top Nazis, including Hermann Göring and Hitler himself. We also explore the Canadian Prime Minister’s misguided role as one of the Nazis’ greatest champions among western leaders in the 1930s.
All proceeds support the Juno Beach Centre, Canada’s Second World War Museum in Normandy, France and allow us to continue to offer this content to listeners across Canada!
3:25 A Sense of Destiny
7:51 Interwar Diplomacy
11:50 A Nazi Invitation
17:00 King’s Diary
19:04 King’s Itinerary
25:33 Crerar’s Visit
28:56 Making Headlines
32:08 Championing Nazism
35:53 The Road to War
Dr. Robert Teigrob is the author of Four Days in Hitler’s Germany: Mackenzie King’s Mission to Avert a Second World War, published by the University of Toronto Press in 2019. He is a professor of history at Ryerson University and is also a member of the faculty at Freie Universität Berlin’s International Summer University Program. He specializes in research on international relations, Canadian-German relations, and war and culture.
The following links offer more information on the topics discussed in this episode:
Juno Beach & Beyond is hosted and edited by Alex Fitzgerald-Black, the centre’s Digital Projects Coordinator.
Mackenzie King’s speech to British Parliament from the British Pathé YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SlEvclY5LE&t=48s
Artillery firing sounds from the CBC News: The National YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsCSQ4uWR1Y
Female veteran’s voice (Eileen Green, née Short) Courtesy of The Memory Project, Historica Canada: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/383:eileen-green-nee-short/
Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech from Jonathan Thomas’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB5wZtV1MWM
Spitfire sound effect from Jason Kirby’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgZI4tAoMN0
Dramatic Interlude by Alexander Nakarada | https://www.serpentsoundstudios.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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