Hitler’s Dark Vision for the UK
The idea of the United Kingdom becoming a puppet regime of the Nazis is the stuff of science fiction nightmares. But the fact is, Hitler and his inner circle had a very clear idea of what our country would look like under German control. His invasion strategy, codenamed Operation Sea Lion, was just the beginning. Hitler had big plans for the country, and they were far more brutal than many may guess.
Thankfully, the RAF triumphed in the Battle of Britain, maintaining air supremacy over the British Isles and forcing Hitler to scrap Operation Sea Lion. But how might things have turned out if the Fuhrer’s fantastical plans had come to fruition?
Nazifying Blackpool and taking Blenheim Palace
One thing’s for certain: Blackpool would have been one of the most popular places in Nazi England. Documents recovered from a German military base have revealed that Hitler had a special fondness for the seaside resort, and had visions of planting a swastika flag right on top of the Blackpool Tower. He was also keen on making Blackpool the go-to holiday resort for weary Nazi invaders looking for a bit of R&R. It’s for this reason Blackpool was deliberately spared by the Luftwaffe, despite being a legitimate military target where thousands of British troops were stationed.
What about the rest of the nation? Well, Nazi headquarters were to be established in important cities including London, Newcastle, Liverpool and Glasgow. In a rather more unlikely twist, it seems the Nazis were also keen on creating a major base in the quiet Shropshire town of Bridgnorth. Files show the Germans had fixated on this town, perhaps because it was geographically in the heart of the country with good rail and communication links.
Hitler himself had his eye on a suitably plush place to rest his head: Blenheim Palace. He earmarked this stately home as his private pad, perhaps as a final insult to Winston Churchill, who had been born there. Other lavish piles were to awarded to various top Nazis, while Eton was to continue to serve as an exclusive public school for the Nazi invaders’ children.
Evidence also suggests the monarchy would survive, but with a key difference: the person on the throne would be Edward VIII, the man who’d abdicated in 1936 so he could marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. The former king had paid a notoriously friendly visit to Hitler in 1937, and was widely suspected of having pro-German sympathies. The Nazis even concocted a plot, codenamed Operation Willi, to abduct Edward and Wallis, with a view to putting them in Buckingham Palace after the invasion of Britain. These revelations were so embarrassing to the Royal Family that Churchill tried his best to suppress the evidence for the plot.
Death squads and slavery
While these Nazi daydreams about Blackpool, Blenheim Palace and royal conspiracies sound almost comically outlandish, there was also a far darker side to Hitler’s intentions for the UK. There was, for example, a plan to dispatch SS death squads, known as Einsatzgruppen, throughout Britain to arrest and massacre Jews, intellectuals and anyone deemed a threat to the new order.
Over on the Eastern Front, the Einsatzgruppen were responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the war, rounding up and machine gunning millions of civilians, and they were poised to carry on their work on the British Isles.
There was even a special list of victims drawn up, known as the “Black Book”. This contained the names of thousands of important writers, thinkers and politicians who were to be arrested or killed. The list included the likes of Virginia Woolf, HG Wells, Bertrand Russell, Paul Robeson, and Sigmund Freud (the Nazis didn’t seem to realise Freud was already dead at the time). Being in the list was later considered a badge of honour among British intellectuals, with the writer Rebecca West sending a pithy telegram to Noel Coward saying “My dear, the people we should have been seen dead with.”
As well as dispatching SS thugs to murder anyone they saw fit, the Nazis also had plans for ordinary male civilians. One document chillingly stipulated that “the able-bodied male population between the ages of 17 and 45 will, unless the local situation calls for an exceptional ruling, be interned and dispatched to the Continent”.
In other words, almost half the men in Britain would have been forced into slave labour in Europe, put to work in gruelling work camps, factories and mines. The effect on British society and infrastructure would have been devastating, and Hitler’s puppet state may well have collapsed as a result. Something the dictator might not have thought about while toasting his own triumph in the stately rooms of Blenheim Palace.