A LESSON FROM HISORY THAT IS NEEDED TODAY MORE THAN EVER Darkness over Germany delivers a stark warning from history of how a man with little political experience rose up as a voice of the people, a voice for the disenfranchised who were suffering the injustices of social inequality and unemployment. In this powerful book, a pioneering young woman, Amy Buller, recounts the hopes and fears of Germans engulfed in the rise of fascism during the 1930s. During the years leading up to the outbreak of war, Buller defied her critics and social norms by leading delegations of British intelligentsia to Germany to learn about and confront the appeal of the Nazis. The book speaks of how Hitler and the Nazis stripped the German people of their freedoms and oppressed them, and how young people were swept along with the tide of hate. It tells the stories of the Germans whom Buller met, including their positivity about the forces uniting the country, and their terror that Hitler was the man at the helm. Darkness over Germany is Amy Buller’s recollection of these unlikely encounters and her analysis of how National Socialism took hold. It tells a remarkable and largely forgotten story of British-German relations in the 1930s. The book speaks resonantly of the need to stay vigilant and maintain dialogue in times of change and discord.
E. Amy Buller studied German at Birkbeck College in London and had a lifelong association with Germany. After graduating she worked for the Student Christian Movement and at Liverpool University where she ran a hall of residence, gaining a reputation as a formidable organizer, networker and intellectual. Her close friends included the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, and the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, A.D. Lindsay, who encouraged her ambitions to lead delegations of intellectuals to Germany in the 1930s. Shortly after the publication of Darkness over Germany in 1943 she was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had been so impressed by the book that they offered to help her establish an educational foundation of her own at Cumberland Lodge, a former royal residence in Windsor Great Park.
"This reissue of Buller's 1943 publication could not be more timely or relevant. Kurt Barling's 2017 foreword summarizes Buller's thesis: postwar peace must be contemplated during the war, making talking to the enemy a necessity. A British national with personal and professional connections in Nazi Germany, Buller dedicated her life to education and discourse, both verbal and written. She sought to understand how ordinary Germans came to their decisions while the Nazis were in power and challenged representations of German citizens that did not include nuance, intelligence, and struggle. A German educator chose to stay in a school run by Nazis who taught falsehood and prejudice in hopes of counterteaching. The publisher of a Catholic paper endured Nazi censorship rather than have the paper permanently banned, reasoning that people facing ever-increasing oppression would benefit more from edited faith than nothing. Buller's extraordinary work was to engage in conversations, transcribe them, and allow German voices to speak for themselves. She sought to complicate the convenient, dualistic narrative that the righteous Brits were fighting the universally bad Nazis. These testimonials have much to teach modern-day readers, as does Buller's belief that postwar healing had to come from within Germany."
[A] book to remember... reports of her conversations with a wide range of 'ordinary' Germans in the 1930s, pointing up what happens when national confusion, mistrust in public servants and public service, cynicism, xenophobia and economic chaos take over a society. If we want to know-and we ought to want to know just now-what prompts the collapse of law-based democracy, this is a good place to start.
– Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, now head of a Cambridge University, writing in The New Statesman
I have been thinking about the youth of this country. I took from my bookshelf a very remarkable book written by a godmother of mine, Amy Buller. It is called Darkness over Germany and it was written during the war. It explains the almost religious grip that Nazism had over the youth of Germany... Of course, we are dealing with different fundamental spiritual needs, but if we are to play our part in trying to provide the answers that our youth require to today's problems, it is vital that we understand and repair our national strengths and weaknesses with regard to the protection and projection of the values that we as a country maintain.