Thursday, January 31, 2013

Swastika over Cardiff

raising a swastika above the City Hall in Cardiff in 1938
The flag was hoisted along with those of Britain, France and Italy to celebrate the signing of the Munich Agreement which effectively carved up Czechoslovakia and appeased Hitler. This was done on the initiative of Cardiff's Lord Mayor, O Cuthbert Purnell. Not at all happy with the sight of the swastika fluttering over the Cardiff skyline, Alderman CH McCale and Councillor Heginbottom took it upon themselves to remove the Nazi banner. They then hid it. The Lord Mayor responded by ordering a replacement swastika to be run up the flag pole. At a heated council meeting the Mayor was asked why the Czech flag was not awarded a place of honour over the civic buildings. He replied that the Czechoslovakian flag was unavailable.
Lord Mayor Purnell would later offer a more detailed explanation of his actions: "I am making no apology for what I did last week. On the morning the news came through that war had been averted I ordered the flags of the four nations to be flown. This was a gesture of goodwill to the nations concerned. It had no political or religious significance. Cardiff is a port and has to maintain friendly relationship with all nations trading with us, and it was on that ground alone that I flew the flags. Were Cardiff not a great port the necessity would not have arisen." Six months later the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia.
It is not often that I copy something wholesale, but this story from Babylon Wales is so extraordinary I had to share it. I warm particularly to the schoolboy defiance of Alderman CH McCale and Councillor Heginbottom displayed in pinching and hiding the Nazi symbol. Welsh Born Icons they shall be, unless someone busy body birther proves otherwise.
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