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Saving Einstein: When Norfolk Hid a Genius

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In September 1933, Albert Einstein suddenly turned up in Cromer in north Norfolk, the guest of Commander Oliver Stillingfleet Locker-Lampson MP.  This is the story of the events, politics and personalities behind the month he spent in a hut at a secret camp in Norfolk.

Description

In September 1933, Albert Einstein, threatened by Nazi assassins, suddenly turned up in Cromer in north Norfolk, the guest of Commander Oliver Stillingfleet Locker-Lampson MP, a larger-than-life character straight out of a Boy’s Own adventure yarn. Saving Einstein tells the story of the events, politics and personalities behind the month he spent living in a hut at a secret camp on Roughton Heath. It was here where Jacob Epstein sculpted his bust and the Commander plotted to use Einstein’s rescue to awaken the nation to the dangers posed by Hitler and the rise of fascism. The irony is that he had himself only recently led his own fascist movement, the Blue Shirts, and had been seen as a possible British Führer by the Nazis.

This bizarre interlude in Einstein’s life, chronicled in full for the first time, would prove to be the last he would ever spend in Europe. For Commander Locker-Lampson, the encounter would turn him away from the dark allure of totalitarianism. He would join the fight against home-grown fascists like Oswald Mosley and support his friend, Winston Churchill, in opposing the appeasement of Europe’s dictators. He would help many ordinary Jews escape the Holocaust, which led him to being described by the son of one man he rescued as ‘Truly a Righteous Gentile’.

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About the author

Born in Kent, Stuart moved to Norwich in 1970 were he worked at Jarrolds before studying for a BA in English at Liverpool University, and an MA in English Renaissance Poetry at York. After ten years working for HMSO Publications he went freelance, in 1997, as a writer and editor. His specialism is local history and has previously published two books on Norwich in the First World War.

1 review for Saving Einstein: When Norfolk Hid a Genius

  1. Matt Williams

    This is an intensely absorbing read and very much recommended, whether you live locally or not.
    I knew next to nothing about this subject beforehand. Did Einstein really stay in Norfolk? The book does an excellent job of presenting the facts about his three-week stay under guard in a hut in a field at Roughton and in dispelling one or two local myths.
    But it is more than just a meticulously-researched illustrated account of the event, it looks outwards at the much broader context of politics and personalities in the 1930s.
    Stuart McLaren sets a delicious juxtaposition of rustic detail against developments on the European and global stage during the long run-up to the Second World War. As well as exploring the dominant figure of Locker-Lampson, he brings in an extensive cast of other colourful characters tangled up in the story in one way or another through various affiliations and fall-outs, and these are cross-referenced in a series of mini-diversions.
    A satisfying book which not only tells us what actually happened in North Norfolk in summer 1933, but is likely to leave us with a more nuanced understanding of what was going on in British society than we may have started with.

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