Published in 1943, Darkness over Germany is a remarkable book by a pioneering young woman, E. Amy Buller. It provides a fascinating insight into Nazi leaders and the radicalisation of young Germans in the late 1930s.
About Amy Buller
At a time when few women were involved in public life, Amy Buller’s story is unusual and intriguing. As a young woman, she spent several years in Germany. It was that experience that led to her life-long association with the country.
Buller graduated in German from Birkbeck College, London, in 1917. She embarked on a career as a secretary of the Student Christian Movement in Manchester and London universities, before becoming Warden of a hall of residence at Liverpool University in the 1930s. During this time, she established a reputation as a formidable organiser, networker and intellectual, with a deep concern for the welfare and personal development of students.
Against this backdrop, and amidst intrigue and concerns in Britain about the rapid rise of Nazism, Buller was invited by her good friend William Temple to lead the groups of British intelligentsia to Germany. In doing so, she defied her critics and social norms. She was personally convinced that the best way to discuss difficult issues was for people to live and work together, to build relationships and better understand each other.
The dialogue she pursued was particularly controversial, as it involved figures such as Alfred Rosenberg, one of the leading ideologues behind National Socialism. Buller’s association with people such as Rosenberg and von Ribbentrop, and her insistence on persisting with travel to Germany and cross-cultural discussions as war loomed large, almost certainly led to her attracting the attentions of MI5.
After the outbreak of war, Buller shared her experiences in Germany with her students in Liverpool. She encouraged them to think critically about the threat and appeal of Nazism to young people. Buller was encouraged to write a book about it and in 1943, Darkness over Germany was published.
Founding Cumberland Lodge
Darkness over Germany was recommended to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) by the Bishop of Lichfield, Edward Woods. She was so impressed that she invited Amy Buller to Buckingham Palace in March 1944 to discuss it. As a result, King George VI offered Buller the use of Cumberland Lodge to set up an educational foundation. Today, Cumberland Lodge continues to provide an open and inclusive environment for candid discussions, to foster learning and critical thinking.
Darkness Over Germany today
In 2017, we partnered with Arcadia Books to publish a new edition of the book. Darkness over Germany: A Warning from History features a new foreword by Kurt Barling, Professor of Journalism at Middlesex University. The afterword is by our Chief Executive, Edmund Newell.
The book highlights the need to stay vigilant and maintain dialogue in times of change and discord, and provides a timely reminder of how a message of hate once fuelled a nation to unite.
It is available at a discounted rate from Cumberland Lodge, or from bookshops and online book retailers (ISBN: 978-1-911350-19-4, RRP £15).
In 2018 a new study guide, Moral and Spiritual Dilemmas in Challenging Times, was published. It encourages study groups to delve into divisive issues such as nationalism, populism, and extremism from a faith perspective.