Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The London Blitz

They’ll Never Quit, by Harvey Klemmer. Wilfred Funk, New York, 1941

Right after the title page of this book is a Preliminary Note which pointedly reads:

This book has not been censored. I purposely waited until I had left England before writing it, as, although I sympathize with Britain in her struggle against the Nazis, I did not wish to be hampered in my efforts to present to the people of America a true picture of the Blitzkrieg.

No information contained in this book was secured as a result of my official connection with the American Embassy in London. The opinions expressed are, of course, my own.

The Author

Washington, D.C.

February 6, 1941

London during the Blitz of 1940

Behind this note, lies the story of a political viewpoint at war with a personal relationship. Klemmer served in the US Embassy in London as part of the Maritime Commission. He was personally recruited by then US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy. While the two remained friends throughout their lives, their political viewpoints were widely divergent. Kennedy, in common with Charles Lindbergh, admired Hitler and felt that Germany would easily win the European War. Klemmer, while careful to remain loyal personally to Kennedy, supported the British cause and felt that London and the British Commonwealth would persevere against the Nazi war machine and the Blitz – hence, the title of his book. Following Kennedy's 1940 recall to Washington, it was Klemmer who persuaded him not to support the Germans publicly and to, if grudgingly, endorse Franklin Roosevelt as a candidate for President. It is ironic that Kennedy’s two oldest sons, Joseph Jr. and John, both fought in the war and that Joe Jr. was killed in a mission against Germany.

After the war, Klemmer worked with Averell Harriman on the Lend-Lease programme implementation. Returning to his work in the US State Department, Klemmer officially retired in 1960 but remained active as US liaison with numerous Far East governments for many more years. He died in 1992, in his 92nd year.

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