Testament to Democracy: J.C. Wedgwood, British Politics and the struggle against fascism, 1933-1943,
A one-day conference to mark the 75th anniversary of Wedgwood’s death and the 80th anniversary of the Munich crisis, presented by
The History of Parliament Trust, The Remembering Eleanor Rathbone Group and the School of Humanities, Keele University
Thursday 22nd November 2018 at Keele University
2018 is the 75th anniversary of the death of Josiah C. Wedgwood MP: the founder of the History of Parliament Trust, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme (1906-1943) and a man who, although largely forgotten today, campaigned passionately for wide ranging causes including land tax reform, personal freedom and the future of the British Empire. The latter part of his campaigning career was dominated by the fight against Nazism and fascism in the 1930s and early 1940s, including the support of the Kindertransport rescue effort which evacuated thousands of predominantly Jewish children out of Nazi occupied Europe.
This year also marks the 80th anniversary of the Munich agreement, when ‘guilty men’ in the British government agreed to hand over parts of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler in an effort to avoid another World War. In Britain, delighted crowds welcomed home Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain as he proclaimed ‘Peace in our time’: a peace that was sadly to last no more than a year. Munich proved to be a turning point in British attitudes to Nazi Germany and Wedgwood’s determined campaign against appeasement placed him at the centre of this key debate in British politics in the prelude to the Second World War.
This conference will take Wedgwood as the starting point for an exploration of the British political reaction to fascism and anti-Semitism.