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Count Potocki de Montalk

For all the perniciousness of antisemitism and denial, fascism does occasionally attract such eccentric characters that they border on the comical. One such individual is Count Potocki de Montalk whose antisemitism, fervent anticommunism and denial of Nazi atrocities led him inadvertently to stumble across an important truth. He was in essence little more than an antisemitic milkman from New Zealand, and in addition to his fascination with paganism and his poetic pretensions, he had a self-delusional claim to the Polish throne. Often to be found with his long flowing hair strutting around Londons Soho in a Robin Hood-esque crimson robe and sandals, Geoffrey, as was his real name, received a modicum of notoriety after he was sentenced to six months in Wormwood Scrubs for ‘obscene libel’. He was prosecuted after trying to publish his work, the Lament for Sir John Penis, which included the incriminating line 'Here lies John Penis/Btiried in the mound of Venus’. Convinced of his right to the Polish throne he held meetings of his ‘court’ in exile, which, rather than gathering in the Royal Castle in Warsaw, met at Half Moon Cottage in Surrey where he would confer knighthoods and tracts of land in Eastern

Europe to British antisemites such as the architect John Hooper Harvey.’8 Despite his eccentricities, Macklin and Fowlie have shown how he was actually an important “ ‘enabler’ for extreme-right propaganda over a period of nearly fifty years’.59

Despite the fanciful pretentions, in 1943 he penned the Katyn Manifesto which, contrary to the line of the British and Soviet governments,60 correctly placed the blame for the massacre of around 22,000 Polish nationals at the feet of the Soviets rather than the Nazis. His pamphlet exposed the Soviet atrocities, attacked the diplomatic protection of Bolshevism and implied a cover up involving the British government. Unsurprisingly the British authorities moved quickly to discredit Potocki and his manifesto, not a particularly difficult task when he opened the manifesto by stating his credentials as,

HIS MAJESTY WLADYSLAW THE FIFTH, BY THE GRACE OF GOD KING OF POLAND, HUNGARY AND BOHEMIA, GRAND DUKE OF LITHUANIA, SILESIA AND THE UKRAINE, HOSPODAR OF MOLDAVIA, ETC. ETC. ETC: HIGH PRIEST OF THE SUN.61

Despite the eccentricities and pro-German, antisemitic nature of Potocki, in the face of a major international cover up, he was among the first to rightly attribute the massacre to the Soviets, which ironically provides a unique example of denial of Nazi atrocities proving to be correct. So worried were the British authorities by the publication of his Katyn Manifesto and its ability to cause increased tensions between wartime allies that they considered prosecuting him under Defence Regulation 39B, before decided against it.62

It was not until the mid 1990s with the release of wartime intelligence reports that the full extent of the British attempts to cover up the truth by pretending that ‘the whole affair was a fake’ came to light. The reason given was that, ‘Any other view would have been most distasteful to the public since it could be inferred that we were allied to a power guilty of the same sort of atrocities as Germany’.63 The British were not alone in falsifying the truth, with the Russians not admitting the truth until 1990. Incidentally, much of the far right came to agree with Potocki’s correct accusation with both the British People’s Party and Arnold Leese blaming the Soviets slightly later in 1945.64

 
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