16/2/1918 “The Cult of the Clitoris”: a sinister plot revealed #1918Live

Independent MP Noel Pemberton Billing shocked Britain when he revealed that the war effort was being sabotaged by 47,000 sexual deviants who were being blackmailed by the Kaiser. Today his renamed newspaper, The Vigilante, publishes further sensational revelations. In an article entitled ‘The Cult of the Clitoris’, Pemberton Billing reports on private performances of Oscar Wilde’s banned play Salome scheduled for April, in which the Canadian actress Maud Allan will play the title role. It is stated that the audience for this production will comprise leading members of the sinister 47,000. Furthermore he suggests that a clique of lesbians are conspiring to secure German victory and implies that Maud Allan is herself the lover of Margot Asquith, wife of the former prime minister.

The article causes a sensation, particularly as many readers were previously unaware of the existence of this mysterious clitoris. Miss Allan however prepares to sue Pemberton Billing for his libellous and unsupported allegation against her.

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Noel Pemberton Billing (Spartacus Educational)

Maud Allan as Salome (Wikipedia)

6/2/1918 Votes for (some) British women and all British men

A series of Reform Acts in the Nineteenth Century greatly widened the franchise in Britain. This transformed politics, making it far less of a game played by elites and forcing politicians to pay some attention to the concerns of ordinary people. But the Reform Acts still left large numbers of people without the vote. All women remained disenfranchised, as did the 40% of men over 21 who did not meet property requirements.

Before the war there had been an upsurge in campaigning to widen the franchise, particularly to obtain women’s suffrage. The suffragettes attracted much attention with their radical and sometimes violent campaign. The force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes who were refusing food shocked many across the country.

At the start of the war, the suffragettes largely halted their militant campaign. The government in turn released all suffragette prisoners. Many of the campaigners for women’s suffrage now became vocal supporters of the British war effort.

The terrible sacrifices endured by the men serving in the army have led to a sea-change in British political opinion: it no longer seems reasonable that so many men are being killed or injured for their country but are unable to vote in its elections. Likewise the work of women at home in jobs that had previously been the domain only of men has forced a reappraisal of their potential role in society.

As a result, Parliament has passed a Bill greatly widening the franchise, which today comes into law as the Representation of the People Act. Now all British and Irish men over the age of 21 will have the vote and so will women over the age of 30 who meet certain property qualifications. So women are not yet able to vote on an equal basis to men, but the reform has nevertheless given the vote to millions of them.

The United Kingdom is long overdue an election, with the last one taking place in 1912, but the next one will not take place until the war is over. Given that the war is expected to continue until at least 1919, it will be some time before the newly enfranchised are able to exercise their democratic rights.

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Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst, leading suffragettes (Wikipedia)

Suffragette poster opposing force feeding (Wikipedia)

Pre-war Suffragette poster opposing the Liberal government (Wikipedia)

26/1/1918 REVEALED: the sexual deviants sabotaging Britain’s war effort #1918Live

As in other countries, a certain war-weariness has taken hold in Britain. Many feel that in 1914 they were promised a short and easy war but now after more than three years the conflict shows no sign of ending and the butcher’s bill continues to lengthen. 1917 was another terrible year for the British, with tens of thousands losing their lives for nothing at Passchendaele and the early successes of Cambrai being annulled by the German counter-attack.

Why has Britain not been able to bring the war to a victorious conclusion? Noel Pemberton Billing may have solved this conundrum. Pemberton Billing is an independent Member of Parliament and enthusiast for aerial warfare. He is also the publisher of The Imperialist, a patriotic periodical. Today in The Imperialist he makes some particularly shocking revelations. “There exists in the Cabinet Noir of a certain German Prince a book compiled by the Secret Service from reports of German agents who have infested this country for the past twenty years, agents so vile and spreading such debauchery and such lasciviousness as only German minds can conceive and only German bodies execute.” He goes on to state that in this sinister dossier the Germans have collected the names of 47,000 British sexual deviants, whose proclivities include but are not limited to unnatural vice. Most of these depraved individuals are members of Britain’s ruling elite and they are being blackmailed by the Germans to sabotage the British war effort.

Pemberton Billing presents his readers with a pen portrait of these 47,000 degenerates. “It is a most catholic miscellany. The names of Privy Councillors, youths of the chorus, wives of Cabinet Ministers, dancing girls, even Cabinet Ministers themselves, while diplomats, poets, bankers, editors, newspaper proprietors, members of His Majesty’s Household follow each other with no order of precedence.”

No proof is advanced for the existence of this secret dossier but Pemberton Billing’s article nevertheless causes a sensation.

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Noel Pemberton Billing (Wikipedia)

9/11/1917 The Balfour Declaration: Britain gives away Palestine #1917Live

British newspapers today carry reports of a letter sent a week ago by Arthur Balfour, the foreign minister, to Walter Rothschild, a leading member of the British Jewish community. In the letter Balfour states that the British government “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and promises that Britain will work to facilitate the achievement of this goal. British armies are currently advancing into Palestine, which means that it may soon be possible to deliver on Balfour’s promise.

Although written to a private individual, Balfour’s letter is intended for publication. Zionism, the idea that a Jewish homeland should be established in Palestine, has been attracting increasing support among members of the Jewish community across the world. The British hope that by declaring in favour of Zionism they will be able to boost Jewish support for the war effort in Britain and the USA. They also hope that this Jewish homeland will remain under effective British control, safeguarding the security of the Suez Canal and British interests in the Middle East.

Balfour’s declaration is only the latest in Britain’s promises regarding the disposal of Ottoman territories in the Middle East, following on from the Constantinople agreement with France and Russia, the promise to Sharif Hussein to establish an Arab state in greater Syria, and the Sykes-Picot agreement with France. Unlike the others, Balfour’s declaration has been made publicly.

As with the previous agreements, Balfour’s letter contains no suggestion that the current inhabitants of Palestine will have any say in the disposal of their territory. It does however say that the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” should be respected.

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The Balfour Declaration as reported in The Times (Wikipedia)

Arthur Balfour

Walter Rothschild in 1895

30/6/1917 Germany’s dawning realisation that the U-boat war has failed

Germany is trying to win the war with its escalated U-boat campaign. The U-boats have been given carte blanche to attack Allied merchant ships without warning. They are also authorised to attack ships flying neutral flags but suspected of carrying supplies to Allied countries. The Germans hope that the submarine war will reduce Britain to poverty and starvation, forcing it to make peace with Germany

Since the beginning of the escalated campaign in February the Germans have sunk an astonishing 3,844,000 tons of Allied shipping. Holtzendorff, the German navy’s chief of staff, has calculated that sinking 600,000 tons a month would be enough to cripple British trade. The U-boats have achieved these targets, sinking 670,000 tons in June alone, so surely this means that the British will soon be forced to make peace?

Yet the British do not appear to be on the brink of collapse. Holtzendorff appears to have miscalculated. The British have been able to increase domestic food production and through effective rationing are spreading food supplies relatively fairly (far more successfully than is the case in Germany). The U-boat campaign has not scared neutral shipping from the seas. Instead it has reduced the amount imported into the likes of Holland and Denmark for resale to Germany.

Allied countermeasures against the submarines are becoming more effective, with merchant ships increasingly sailing under protection in convoys and US and British destroyers patrolling more aggressively against the U-boats. It is starting to look as though the U-boat campaign is not going to end the war in the next few months. Tacitly recognising that the war will continue, the German navy now orders the construction of more U-boats, which will not be available for use until 1919.


A merchant ship torpedoed (Military History Now: Sea Wolves Unleashed – Germany’s First U-boat War)

A U-boat surfaces (Military History Now: Sea Wolves Unleashed – Germany’s First U-boat War)

30/4/1917 Outlandish reports of the German Corpse Factory continue to cause a sensation

Fanciful reports that the Germans are rendering corpses as sources for scarce war materials have caused a sensation in Britain. Despite having no basis in reality, rumours of the Corpse Factory have led to lurid reporting in the British press and are presented as further evidence that there are no depths to which the Hun will not sink.

Not everyone is taken in by this nonsense. Speaking in parliament, the Irish politician John Dillon suggests that allowing these patently false stories to gain credence the British government is undermining its own credibility. But in reply Lord Cecil, the junior foreign minister, declines to discount reports of the Corpse Factory, arguing that such reports are not incredible in light of previous actions by the Germans. His statement stops short of anything that could later be used to accuse him of lying to parliament.

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“And don’t forget that your Kaiser will find a use for you—alive or dead.” (Wikipedia, originally from Punch 25 April 1917)

17/4/1917 The German Corpse Factory

Readers of The Times and The Daily Mail today find themselves confronted with a bizarre and distasteful story. Supposedly based on a report in a German publication, both newspapers carry articles on a secret German factory where dead human bodies are taken for rendering, with the factory extracting all kinds of useful material from the cadavers. A tallow is produced from the body fats and made into soap, which is in short supply in Germany thanks to the British blockade. The ground down corpses are also used to make fertiliser. The workers in this grim factory are kept as prisoners, lest they reveal its terrible secret.

This shocking story is complete nonsense. There is no corpse factory but that does not stop two supposedly respectable British newspapers presenting its fictional existence as the truth. The origin of this story is however not entirely clear, though it has been circulating as a rumour for some time. Is it a piece of propaganda, prepared by the British intelligence services to discredit the Germans? Or have the imaginations of the journalists so run away with themselves that they are now willing to print any unsubstantiated nonsense that conforms to their stereotypes regarding German beastliness?

See also: Spartacus Educational has an interesting discussion on this topic, with the text of original newspaper articles and diary entries on the matter here.

images from: BBC News: The corpse factory and the birth of fake news