Image of a burning book

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - George Santayana

As part of our 70th anniversary celebrations we are launching a new edition of Darkness over Germany by Amy Buller at St Paul's Cathedral, from 6.30pm on Tuesday 16 May, with guest speakers Dr Rowan Williams, Baroness Butler-Sloss, Professor Maiken Umbach and Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, and readings by award-winning actress, Tamsin Greig.

  • What are the implications of our shifting political landscape for an open society? 
  • What lessons can we learn from the past to help build more peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies for the future?

These are important and urgent questions, with the UK in the process of leaving the EU after a controversial referendum, and with a resurgence of populism, nationalism and extremism in countries around the world.

‘Open Society under Threat? – A Warning from History’ brings a distinguished panel to St. Paul’s Cathedral to explore the challenges facing nations and societies today, through the lens of history and the remarkable book Darkness over Germany

Inspired by her Christian faith, the book’s pioneering author, Amy Buller, explored the hopes and fears of people engulfed in the rise of fascism in Germany during the 1930s. She sought to understand how ordinary people were so vulnerable to an ideology with divisive and ultimately catastrophic consequences.

First published in 1943, Darkness over Germany: A Warning from History delivers a timely reminder of how a message of hate once fuelled a nation to unite. It is being republished in the UK for the first time since 1945 and launched at this event.

Programme

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr Rowan Williams - Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury 
  • Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss - Retired judge and first female Lord Justice of Appeal, Member of the House of Lords
  • Professor Maiken Umbach - Professor of Modern History, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Lord Nicholas Stern - President of the British Academy and IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, LSE
  • Professor Kurt Barling - Professor of Journalism, Middlesex University London, and author of the foreword to the new edition.

Dr Rowan Williams will give a keynote address on key themes from the book, to be followed by a panel discussion with Baroness Butler-Sloss and Professor Umbach.

Lord Stern will give a personal response on the importance of internationalism and collaboration for the coming two decades which he believes will, in many ways, "define the future of the century and the sustainability of our societies and our environments". He will also be relating the ideas in Darkness over Germany to the experiences of his own grandmother, who died in the concentration camps, and of his father who came to the UK as an 'enemy alien' in 1939.

Professor Barling will give a closing address, and the event will be chaired by our Principal, Edmund Newell, author of the afterword for the new edition. 

Tamsin Greig will be reading short excerpts from the book, and audience members will be invited to submit questions to the panel of speakers.

Free event

Doors will open at 6pm and the event will begin at 6.30pm, on the main cathedral floor. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend but please register online for a place in advance, using the 'Register Now' buttons on this page.

Signed copies of the book will be available to purchase on the night at a discounted price of £13.00, and subsequently from Cumberland Lodge at a discounted rate, and from all good bookshops at £15.00.

Find out more

Find out more about Darkness over Germany and its connections to Cumberland Lodge, here.

The book was published in German for the first time in 2016, as Finsternis in Deutschland. Was die Deutschen dachten. Interviews einer Engländerin, 1934-1938. The German edition was edited by Professor Kurt Barling and you can find out more about the story behind its publication, here.

'A book for our times. We can learn much needed lessons from Amy Buller's wisdom.' - Salley Vickers

'Many people are comparing the current turmoil in the world with what went on in the 1930s. In the interest of the future, I hope that influential people will mark and inwardly digest the warning signs that Amy Buller so clearly identified in Darkness over Germany.' - Lord Ramsbotham (godson of Amy Buller)

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