An album of photos from the Duke of Windsor’s 1937 trip to Nazi Germany and meeting with Adolf Hitler up for auction
AN astonishing and chilling photo album detailing the Duke of Windsor’s notorious trip to Nazi Germany in 1937 has emerged for sale.
It was compiled and captioned by the Duke’s sole equerry Sir Dudley Forwood, 3rd Bt, and has been in his family ever since.
Included are pictures of the former king meeting top ranking Nazis including Hitler himself.
Forwood clearly chose to include pictures that showed himself, and many of them are thought to be unseen.
More than 60 photos detail the official visits that the Duke went on with his new wife Wallis Simpson, who was the cause of the abdication crisis the previous year.
Forwood became the Duke’s equerry following the abdication and remained so until the outbreak of war when he returned to his regiment, the Scots Guards.
He later said that the Duke’s trip to Germany was not to support the Nazi regime as many thought, but so his beloved wife could experience a state visit.
However, Forwood also recalled the Duke telling Hitler when they met: “The Germans and the British races are one. They should always be one. They are of Hun origin.”
He added that the Duke must have forgotten about the Norman invasion.
The photos show the Duke and his wife visiting many places including a mine, the winter relief headquarters, a light bulb factory and a school.
In his caption Forwood said the school was set up ‘to teach the young Germans to become true Nazis. It is run on the lines of an English public school with every type of facilities for games.’
Many photos record how the couple were shown around by Dr Robert Ley who was in charge of the visit and a fanatical Nazi, devoted to Hitler.
He remained in the Fuhrer’s inner circle right until the end and was later arrested and strangled himself while awaiting trial.
The album is being sold by Duke’s of Dorchester on March 10 along with Forwood’s invitation to the funeral of the Duchess of Windsor in 1986. It is estimated to make £500-£1,000.
The title page written in German seems to quote a popular song of the day ‘The good comrade’ and then ‘on a beautiful journey.’ Later Forwood recalled the visit and spoke of the time they went to a concentration camp that appeared to be deserted.
He wrote: “We saw this enormous concrete building which I now know contained inmates. The Duke asked ‘what is that?’ Our hosts replied, ‘It is where they store the cold meat.’
“In a horrible sense, that was true.”
After the war, the moustachioed Forwood moved to the New Forest in Hampshire where he farmed and became Master of the New Forest Buckhounds.
He was also chairman of the New Forest Show and the New Forest Consultative Panel and was the forest’s official Verderer, presiding over the ancient Verderer’s Court.
Timothy Medhurst, an expert from Duke’s, said: “This is an incredible piece of history with impeccable provenance.
“It shows the couple in a relaxed environment being shown around by Nazis who are clearly proud of their nation.
“The photos are neatly compiled in an album with captions written shortly after the visit.
“Some are quite amusing and include him moaning about having to listen to a school choir for two hours.
“At the end of the concert he says both nations’ national anthems were played and he adds: ‘The press interest as to whether or not the Duke would follow the example of the Nazis and give their salute was quite funny.’ “He writes about how German firms were encouraged to provide staff with sports grounds and if they didn’t they’d get a bad ‘Nazi Mark’.
“In one caption he notes how the Duke told Dr Ley that demolishing a tower so it could be rebuilt solely for aesthetic reasons was a ‘waste’, to which Ley replied ‘We have the bricks, the mortar and the labour.’
“It is a unique piece of history compiled at a time when the Nazi war machine was preparing for European conquest and the systematic slaughter of millions of people.
“There will be interest from Royal collectors but also those with an interest in history and the war.
“It is being auctioned in a sale that includes a number of other items from this period including medals.”