They wrote it this week: What does a Nazi do when he finds out ...


They wrote it this week: What does a Nazi do when he finds out he’s a Jew?

Extracts from diaries and letters written between July 13 and July 19


July 14

1916, London

[To distract herself from her sorrow over the recent death of her eldest brother in World War 1, Lady Cynthia had volunteered to serve the night shift at a munitions factory canteen.] Most glamorous sight when we arrived – huge mysterious-looking buildings with sparks flying out of the chimneys and real Nibelungen noise and atmosphere. The canteen was large, airy and well-arranged. We had some time to be initiated into our duties before the rush began at 11.30. Between one and two thousand hot, begrimed men rushed at us, presenting their tickets representing various values in provisions. Their rest time is precious, so their demands are urgent and one has to be as quick as a cinematograph. I don’t know why it’s so fascinating, but I simply loved it – it really excited me. One pours out boiling tea – cakes – cigarettes – doling them out quicker than possible and trying to be conscientious about the mental arithmetic, which is sometimes almost complicated. The men, on the whole, were extraordinarily nice and well-mannered. They could so easily have bullied one into losing one’s head, and they were very honest, often putting me right when I was cheating the Company: “You’ll soon learn the terms, Miss.” I was hopelessly stunned by an imperious demand for “Opps Hail”: I couldn’t think what it was and had to ask three times, hoping for sudden enlightenment – finally, one of the paid helpers told me it was Hopp’s ale...

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