David Calling

Before We Re-Bury Sikorski

Footnote to the long-drawn saga of General Sikorski’s death, and now the exhumation of his remains. At the time, the governor of Gibraltar was General Sir Frank Noel Mason-Macfarlane, known far and wide as Mason-Mac. A brilliant soldier of the old imperial type, he had been military attaché in Berlin, and in that capacity was often in the presence of Hitler. In the Public Record Office is the memorandum he wrote in 1938 proposing to shoot Hitler. It would be worth killing Hitler, as he saw it, if the coming world war was thereby averted.  He offered four scenarios, in all of which he was to be the man with the gun. Three of these proposals, he thought, would give him the chance to escape. The fourth proposal would entail his capture and certain death, but he was willing to sacrifice himself if his superiors decided that this was the course of action most likely to succeed.
The margins of this memorandum are covered with the horrified comments in red ink of the British officials who read it, up to and including Lord Halifax, the foreign minister. Appeasement was then at its height, and Halifax was a leading proponent of it. One and all thought that Mason-Mac had gone mad, and he was duly removed from his post, landing up in Gibraltar. Mason-Mac knew and admired Sikorski, and was appalled by his death.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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