These Historical Figures Toed the Line of Dictatorship

Jock Lewes (right) co-founded the elite SAS but his pro-German sympathies made him suspect to some. National Army Museum.

18. Jock Lewes might have been the co-founder of the legendary SAS, but before he led elite troops on daring raids against German forces, he was an admirer of the Nazi regime.

As the co-founder of the Special Air Service (SAS), Lieutenant Jock Lewes was one of Britain’s greatest heroes of the Second World War. The missions he led deep behind enemy lines dealt a severe blow to the Nazi war effort and has been used as the blueprint for special forces operations around the world. However, Lewes had been sympathetic to the Nazi ideology prior to the outbreak of war. Indeed, according to a cache of letter discovered 20 years ago, he was close to marrying a dedicated Nazi before his innate sense of patriotism kicked in.

The letters reveal that Lewes first started to love Germany when he visited the country on a cycling trip in 1935. He wrote to his parents stating that “England is no democracy and Germany far from being a totalitarian state.” – indeed, he believed Britain had been on the wrong side in the First World War. Lewes returned to Berlin for the 1936 Olympics and even secured an invitation to a 1938 ball attended by Hitler and Goebbels. When war broke out in 1939, however, Lewes signed up and helped found the SAS in 1940. Less than a year later, he was killed in action in Libya.