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Thursday, 15 July 2010

1945 November

November. London hotels. Russian football team. Tom Wheeler home. How poor we are. Churchill on his defeat. Nuremburg trials.

Tuesday, Nov 6th
Many bangs last night (Guy Fawkes Night) but no rockets that I saw. Went to London for weekend and had a towel with me, which in mysterious way made to vanish. Suspect stolen by chambermaid. You bring your own towels and then they are pinched! What a life!
The queues in London are not really much better, and as Lend Lease has stopped we are no longer shipping American troops, so London is fuller of them than ever.
Nora went up to stay with the Wrays. Jack on the frustrations of dealing with the Russians. They all go about with huge bodyguards who must go everywhere with them. If Molotov goes to see Bevin then the bodyguard has to come too. If he goes in a car the rest of the car is filled with the bodyguard and everyone else pushed out of the way. At San Francisco the delegation lived on a ship; no land for them. If they did come ashore they brought a bodyguard of 50! With great difficulty they were persuaded to reduce it to 25.
This week a Russian football team arrived in London. Simple, you would think, but not at all. To start with they would not say when they expected to arrive – for security reasons. Then instead of one team they sent two, or the team and the bodyguard. Arriving at very short notice, they then refused to stay anywhere except in a group. They were put for one night in the Wellington Barracks but complained that the conditions were unsuitable. Finally some perfectly inoffensive people had to be turned out of the Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, to make room for team and bodyguard. This being the hotel that refused to take [Learie] Constantine, the West Indian cricketer!

Monday, Nov 12th
Tom Wheeler, school’s caretaker, came in to-day, home from Hanover. Said our soldiers giving away their rations to German children, that the bread had improved, but the people had nowhere to live, no coal, and had been forbidden to get wood from the forests. Why? I asked. He did not know .

Saturday, Nov 17th
Nora took a cold ”cure” and now has a really violent one, and now I think I have it. We have had a N.E. wind and still only one boiler in the school.
Curious how we are finding how poor we are. Now they are complaining that we can’t afford to pay out millions of dollars for American films when we could make our own. Food before films. The motor industry has been told it should cut the home market and produce for export. The industry, said the minister (Sir Stafford Cripps) is here to support Britain, not Britain to support the industry
Jack Potter came in to see me on Wednesday. He looked exactly the same as before except that he was a bit yellow and spoke in a rather slow grave way. They knew what was happening all the time because there were secret wireless sets, one in a man’s wooden leg, another in a water bottle, and another in the sole of some wooden clogs
An American coming to this country said he had yet to meet an American soldier who was not first ashore in Normandy, a British soldier who was not evacuated from Dunkirk, or a German soldier who was a member of the Nazi party.
Monty said to have told Churchill after the election that his defeat was a blessing in disguise, would give him leisure...to which Churchill replied it was bloody well disguised.

Tuesday, Nov 20th
“Unique in the history of jurisprudence” the Nuremberg trials opened to-day. We had an eyewitness account of the scene and the behaviour of the prisoners on the news and heard part of the indictment being read by one of the American lawyers. The generals angry and furious, Goering interested, Hess balmy, Schacht disgusted, Ribbentrop haggard and nervous, von Papen correct, Adolf missing. The commentator said the trial would mark the end of aggressive war. What a hope, said Nora. To such depths of cynicism have we sunk.
Reading the Farming ladder! Nora says I should give up headmastering now and not wait until I am 52. She suggests I should go in with Molly and take a farm. But to do so now I would lose my pension and have little capital to start anything.

Wednesday, Nov 21st
The first winter fog this winter and though not bad here a blackout in London.
To-night we heard the prisoners – once dreaded names throughout Europe, Goering, Keitel, Jodl, Hess - plead before the court “not guilty”, and then the American presenting counsel making the opening speech. It was a very dramatic moment in spite of noises of the microphone and the murmur of interpreters after each answer.

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