Toasting The Fuhrer

Shameful Moment No 6.

The Lord Mayor of Plymouth toasts “the Fuhrer” with visiting SS troops.

SS Motorcycle Unit 1941 – Wikimedia Commons


In July 1937, the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, a city with a large Jewish community and one of the oldest synagogues in Britain, welcomed what seemed ostensibly to be a civilian German cross-country motorcycle trial team headed by Count Bassewitz, with a toast to the Fuhrer and a Nazi salute. They had been competing in the international motorcycle trials in Llandidrod in Wales. Under the headline “Plymothians Give Nazi Salute – City’s Welcome to Visitors“, The Western Morning News gave an enthusiastic description of the reception at which

Englishmen responded gallantly, as “Der Fuhrer” was toasted, by giving the Nazi salute during the singing of ‘Deutschland Uber Alles“[1]

This was followed by a round of “For they are jolly good fellows” and the infamous nazi anthem – the “Horst Wessel” song. The Mayor declared he was delighted to host “a very fine body of sportsmen.” However it later transpired that many among the 120 strong team were  members of an SS military motorcycle group in training. In November 1940 the British Press Association motoring correspondent reported that the party had included “Nazi storm troopers and even SS men from the Fuhrer’s own bodyguard” and reminded readers that

“German motorcyclists have formed the advance guard of nearly every occupation of the war….(and that) if they could make a successful landing (in Britain) Hitler has many motorcycle troops who are (now) familiar with British roads.”[2]

However such considerations were far from the Mayor’s mind as he continued with his speech recalling how “English visitors to Germany….spoke in wonderful terms of the hospitality accorded.” Clearly he hadn’t consulted with any Jewish refugees lucky enough to escape the Nazi regime.[3]

Read the next page – “England’s Nazi Salute”

Read the previous page – “Ribbentrop at the Palace”



1. “Plymothians Give Nazi Salute – City’s Welcome to Visitors”, the Western Morning News and Daily Gazette, 21 July 1937 p5.

2. PA Report published in “Nazi Motor Cycle Tropps – They Know Britain’s Roads”, the Nottingham Evening Post, 29 November 1940, “German Troops Know Our Roads”, the Midland Daily Telegraph, Coventry, 30 November 1940 p9 and”Germans Know The Roads of Britain”, the Manchester Evening News, 29 November 1940, p8.

3. “Plymothians Give Nazi Salute – City’s Welcome to Visitors”, the Western Morning News and Daily Gazette, 21 July 1937 p5


All text on this website is copyright Alisdare Hickson 2017.   This is a first draft.