Transnational anti-war activity in the third reich: The nazi branch of the new commonwealth society

Ofer Ashkenazi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Founded by Lord David Davies in 1932, the New Commonwealth Society (NCS) was an anti-war organization with members in thirty-eight countries around the globe. Its principles included the establishment of an international equity tribunal, which would arbitrate international disputes, and a world police to enforce the tribunal's decisions. Essentially, the organization sought effective means to restrict national sovereignty in order to promise a sustainable world order. Its activists included prominent politicians, generals, intellectuals, religious leaders and scientists, from Winston Churchill to Hans Kelsen and Albert Einstein. Many of the leading advocates of the NCS were Jewish or renowned Nazi criticizers. Yet, according to Davies, the NCS branch in Nazi Germany was one of the most â 'enthusiastic and enterprising' groups of the organization. Furthermore, the National Socialist authorities were familiar with the organization, tolerated it and at times openly supported its campaigns. This article analyses the views and activities within the NCS group in Nazi Germany and explains their origins. The NCS's efforts to restrict national sovereignty notwithstanding, its mechanism for peaceful changes in the international status quo, based on justice, was compatible with a popular sentiment in Germany, among liberals, conservatives and Nazis alike. I argue that the support of the NCS in the Third Reich was based on a distinct meaning attached in Germany to the organization's key concepts, such as equity, emergency and sovereignty. Simply put, Nazis, liberals and Jews could conceive together a system based on these concepts as long as their actual meaning was left open.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)207-228
Number of pages22
JournalGerman History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the German History Society. All rights reserved.


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