A Blenheim Palace story
When World War II broke out in September 1939, the Nazi high command already had a plan called ‘Operation Sealion’. Their goal was to invade and occupy the United Kingdom. By the spring of 1940, the Nazis had already conquered France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Hitler sent the British government his terms to negotiate peace, and they were rejected in July 1940; the Germans were now ready to invade Britain.
Hitler wanted the operation to be finished by August 10th 1940, and to achieve that, an invasion fleet was assembled in Rotterdam and in Calais, accompanied by merchant ships, tugboats and barges. For the invasion to be successful, Hitler wanted complete domination both in the air and by sea, so the German air force started its bombings, and the battle to conquer Britain began. Well, we all know what happened next. The Royal Air Force was not destroyed and the Germans had to postpone their operations, but officially it was never cancelled…
What many people don’t know is that the Germans already had detailed plans for the next stage, once the UK had been occupied. They gathered their ideas in a book which was known as the black book, and it was packed with information about people who they wanted to imprison and the places they needed to use. This book was discovered in 1945 in the Nazi Headquarters in Berlin, and it included death lists of famous people like the author, Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley (who was actualy in the US) and many other politicians and cultural figures. The book also contained names of places that interested the Nazis.
We know that they planned to turn Blackpool into a holiday resort for their troops and Eton was supposed to become a school for the children of high ranking Nazi officers; this meant both places were not supposed to be bombed in order to keep them fully functioning. Another piece of the Nazi occupation puzzle was to find Hitler a new residence and Hitler chose Blenheim Palace.
Most historians think he chose Blenheim because this was the birthplace of Winston Churchill, and this was Hitler’s way of achieving a full victory over his rival. Strangely enough, unlike most of the black book plans, this piece of information became clear to British Intelligence early on in the war, so they knew about one place which would be safe from Nazi bombing, and which was only an hour’s drive from London. And it was time to use this information… Blenheim was already home to students from Malvern College, and now it had a new role in the British war effort. As of September 1940, it also became the headquarters of MI5 which did the job of making sure that Hitler would never have the chance to visit his new palace…
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