Orwell Diaries 1938-1942


Yesterday met Liddell Hart for the first time. Very defeatist and even, in my judgement, somewhat inclined to be pro-German subjectively. [In a great stew about the barbarism of bombing Lübeck. Considered that during the wars of recent centuries the British have the worst record of all for atrocities and destructiveness.] Although, of course, strongly opposed to the Second Front, also anxious for us to call off the bombing. There is no point in doing it, as it can achieve nothing and does not weaken Germany. On the other hand we ought not to have started the bombing in the first place (he stuck to it that it was we who started it), as it merely brought heavier reprisals on ourselves.

Osbert Sitwell [1] was also there. [he was at one time connected with Mosley’s movement, but probably somewhat less inclined to go pro-German than L-H.] Both of them professed to be disgusted by our seizure of the Vichy colonies. Sitwell said that our motto was “When things look bad, retake Madagascar”. He said that in Cornwall in case of invasion the Home Guard have orders to shoot all artists. I said that in Cornwall this might be all for the best. Sitwell: “Some instinct would lead them to the good ones”.

[1] Sir Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969) was educated at Eton and served in the Grenadier Guards, 1912-19. In 1916 his poetry, with his sister Edith’s, was published as Twentieth-Century Harlequinade. He also wrote short stories (Triple Fugue, 1924; Open the Door, 1941), a number of novels, including Before the Bombardment (1926), The Man Who Lost Himself (1929), Those Were the Days (1938), A Place of One’s Own (1941), many essays and some critical studies (particularly on Dickens). He selected and arranged the text of William Watson’s Belshazzar’s Feast (1931). Orwell described his Left Hand, Right Hand!, The Scarlet Tree, and Great Morning! (1944-47) as ‘among the best autobiographies of our time’; see CW, XIX, pp 385-8.