Magna Carter and Hitler

This is from the i newspaper a few weeks ago.

“It was the height of the Blitz, and after nearly a year of holding out aginst Nazi Germany’s advance Britain needed all the help it could get fom America. What better way, therefore, to pursuade Washington of London’s geopolitical ardour than to gift it an original copy of the Magna Carta.

Documents detailing the Cabinet’s deliberations over whether to present a priceless copy of the manuscript to the American nation in 1941, in an attempt to sway US public opinion towards joining the second world war., are to go on display for the first time … at the British Library.

The idea sprang from an accident of timing A copy of hte 1215 dociument, owned by Lincoln Cathedral, had been stranded in Ameria following the outbreak of war, while it was on display at the New York World’d Fair in 1939.

By March1941, Congress had signed the Lend-Lease Act which sent vast amounts of material aid across the Atlantic. The Cabinet spotted an opportunity to short-circuit Washington’s isolationist tendencies and cement American affection for its struggling ally by handingover a document widely regarded by Americans as the precursor to its sacrosanct Constitution. But Lincoln Cathedral hld out, and the codument eventually came home.

The showpoiece British Library exhibition detailing he history and significance of the Magna Carta.. included a Foreign Office document setting out Whitehall’s thinking behind the move, which notes that the Americans consider the British “a cold-blooded, calculating people” with a consistent failure “to say it with flowers”. The memo, written in Machiavellian terms which would have done little to change that perception, aknowledes an American craving for “tangible evidence of their European background”.

Officials even timed the announcement of the donation to 15 June 1941, magna Carta Day, when PM Winston Churchill had planned to make a transatlantic broadcast.


2 thoughts on “Magna Carter and Hitler

  1. The Magna Carta gift to America suggestion did make me smile. As did the letter from one British politician to another after he’d realised that the Magna Carta original copy in question was not the British government’s to give away in the first place!

    Liked by 1 person

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