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By Edward Corse

A conflict for impartial Europe describes and analyses the forgotten tale of the British government's cultural propaganda association, the British Council, in its crusade to win the hearts and minds of individuals in impartial Europe through the moment global struggle. The booklet attracts on a number of formerly unused fabric from data from throughout Europe and personal memoirs to supply a different perception into the paintings of the major British artists, scientists, musicians and different cultural figures who travelled to Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey at nice own probability to advertise British existence and notion in a time of warfare.

Edward Corse exhibits how the British Council performed a sophisticated yet an important function in Britain's struggle attempt and attracts jointly the teachings of the British Council event to provide a brand new version of cultural propaganda.

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Harold Nicolson, the Member of Parliament and someone who later went on lecture tours under the auspices of the British Council, summed up the reason for the delay in an article for the British Council’s 21st anniversary in 1955. His words, even with a bit too much artistic licence, help summarize the situation the British Council found itself in, in the 1930s: In the nineteenth century there may have been some justification for this imperturbability.  .  .  . 39 However, it was as clear to the British Government as it was to many observers, that both the Axis powers and France (first as a British ally, then under the guise of the Vichy Regime) were going to be conducting propaganda abroad in a variety of ways – both politically and culturally.

For example, stating the rather bland fact that ‘Mr. T. S. Eliot lectured to them [the Swedes] on “Poetry, Speech, and Music” ’ does not even attempt to describe the impact that his visit made on Swedish opinion. It does not describe the tone of the Council’s work, and how this tone compared with what the Swedes were used to receiving in terms of propaganda from other sources. Nor does it begin to allow the reader to understand how his visit, while not turning the tide of Swedish opinion on its own, was one of many, by a variety of different British personalities, which incrementally accumulated increasing pro-British feeling among the Swedish population.

Of course there were other organizations, not least the British Embassies and Consulates, that were also part of this role, and the British Council was there as part of that wider machinery of British presence in foreign countries. It was not just a matter of being seen to be there that was important. Ensuring (or at least trying to ensure) that British interests in the cultural field were treated in the same way as Axis interests, and preferably given favourable treatment, was a vital task. Britain had to be seen to be winning the (non-military) struggles against the Axis on neutral territory on the cultural battlefield – in a battle for neutral Europe.

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