An original press photograph of the improbable spectacle of Winston S. Churchill with Ernst Bohle, the leader of the Organization of the Nazi Party Abroad, smiling together at the end of their 1 October 1937 meeting at Churchill's London residence
London: Keystone View Company, 6 October 1937. Photograph. This original press photo captures the improbable spectacle of Winston Churchill and Ernst Bohle - the leader of the Organization of the Nazi Party Abroad - smiling together outside of Churchill’s London residence on 1 October 1937. This press photo belonged to the archives of The Daily Telegraph. The image, measuring 10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.3 cm), is a gelatin silver print on heavy matte photo paper. Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scratches with light wear along the edges confined to the margins. Not unsuitably, The Daily Telegraph Art department hand-applied paint to isolate Churchill.
The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Keystone View Company”, two received stamps of The Daily Telegraph dated OCT 1937, and a typed caption titled “BRITISH-BORN LEADER OF FOREIGN NAZIS MEETS WINSTON CHURCHILL”. The caption is dated “1.10.37”, and reads, “HERR ERNST BOHLE, the leader of the Organisation of Nazis Abroad who arrived in London yesterday, today visited Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL at the latter’s flat in Victoria to “put things straight with regard to his recent attacks on the foreign organisation of the Nazi party.”” This photograph is housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder.
When this photograph was taken Churchill-was still in his "Wilderness Years"; he spent most of the 1930s out of power and out of favor, warning about the dangers of a rising Nazi Germany, often at odds with both his party leadership and prevailing public sentiment. Churchill’s pen was often his primary means of communicating with the public. On 20 August 1937 Churchill published an article titled “A Plain Word to the Nazis” in the Evening Standard in which he called on Parliament to increase scrutiny and surveillance of Germans living in Britain and to deport them if necessary. He wrote, “A Nazi minister and department have actually been set up in Berlin within the present year to promote and concert the action of Nazi Germans living abroad.”
This minister was Ernst Wilhelm Bohle (1903-1960), a British born Nazi Party member who in 1937 was appointed to lead the Organization of the Nazi Party Abroad. Churchill’s article touched a nerve. In a 31 August letter, Churchill’s literary agent, Emery Reves, wrote “Two days ago, the President of this Organization, Herr Bohle [and two ministers] delivered speeches, all three referring to your article and protesting against your accusations.” (WC and ER Correspondence 1937-1964, p.56) Bohle expressed admiration for British patriotism and that the British “should be among the first people to approve of our work in developing the same kind of patriotism for the Third Reich.”
Churchill, displaying the earnest desire to avoid the war that he would fight with such ferocious resolve only a few years later, responded to Bohle, writing “I see Herr Bohle has expressed a wish to talk this over with me. I should be delighted… to do anything in the power of a private member to remove this new embarrassment to Anglo-German goodwill.” They met on 1 October 1937. Bohle later recounted the meeting “in Winston’s home” lasting “more than an hour” during his trial in Nuremburg: “I had ample opportunity in this thoroughly cordial conversation to describe the activity of the Auslands-Organisation and to dispel his misgivings. At the end he accompanied me to my car and let himself be photographed with me, in order, as he said, to show the world that we were parting as friends.” (Nuremberg Trial Proceedings, 25 March 1946, morning session) On 7 October Reves wrote to Churchill “I have seen in Marseille, in a local paper, a picture of you together with Herr Bohle. Your expression shows that the conversation must have been a very amusing one.” (Correspondence, p. 66) Churchill’s amused look aside, two and a half years later Churchill would be Prime Minister of a Britain fighting desperately to survive the consequences of Nazi “patriotism”. Item #005201