Triumph of the Poshocracy

Susan Pedersen

  • The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-45 by Helen McCarthy
    Manchester, 282 pp, £65.00, November 2011, ISBN 978 0 7190 8616 8
  • A Lark for the Sake of Their Country: The 1926 General Strike Volunteers in Folklore and Memory by Rachelle Hope Saltzman
    Manchester, 262 pp, £65.00, April 2012, ISBN 978 0 7190 7977 1

After the ‘turnip winter’ of 1916-17 and with no sign of war abating, my husband’s grandfather, the oldest child of an impoverished widow in the central German town of Kassel, ran away to join the navy. He was hungry, and though underage and not really military material imagined sailors probably got enough to eat. This was a good guess, and while he had a chancy time of it – surviving the loss of his ship, the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow and more than a year’s internment in a Merseyside POW camp – he never starved. His sister back in Kassel got rickets, the result of severe malnutrition.

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