Cambridge Union president sorry after guest speaker Hitler impression

Cambridge Union president sorry after guest speaker Hitler impression

President of Cambridge University Union apologises after historian, 60, launched into lengthy Hitler impression during debate on ‘good taste’ – using racist and anti-Semitic language ‘to show how offensive the Nazi leader was’

  • Guest speaker Andrew Graham-Dixon impersonated Adolf Hitler at Cambridge Union during a debate
  • Graham-Dixon’s impression of Hitler included racial slurs and caused outrage
  • Cambridge Union President Keir Bradwell has issued an apology for his failure to intervene during debate

The President of Cambridge University’s Union has apologised after a historian launched into a ‘crass and deeply insensitive’ impression of Adolf Hitler during a debate on ‘good taste’. 

Guest speaker Andrew Graham-Dixon, 60, impersonated the German dictator as part of his argument against the motion ‘this house believes there is no such thing as good taste.’

The historian said his lengthy impression of Hitler, which included racial slurs and voiced antisemitic and racist views, was to ‘show how offensive the Nazi leader was’. 

Cambridge Union President Keir Bradwell, who had said that it was the ‘longest Hitler impression’ the chamber had ever heard, has now issued an apology for his failure to intervene after the impersonation caused outrage amongst Cambridge University students and alumni.

Bradwell had been filmed admitting he was ‘quite drunk’ during the debate, but later said he had two glasses of wine and denied it impacted his ability to chair the discussion.   

He said his failure to intervene was ‘solely a question of lacking the the courage to stop someone in front of a room of 400’.  

Guest speaker Andrew Graham-Dixon, 60, impersonated the German dictator as part of his argument against the motion ‘this house believes there is no such thing as good taste’

Guest speaker Andrew Graham-Dixon impersonated the German dictator as part of his argument against the motion ‘this house believes there is no such thing as good taste’

As part of Graham-Dixon’s impersonation, which has been called ‘crass and deeply insensitive’, he said: ‘The romantic tradition of German art was rejected by this modern art.

‘This modern, horrible art that was promoted by the Jews… and the modern art, it was cubist – inspired by the art of the ne***s.

‘This tribal art, urgh, how horrible is that? We must expunge this from our Deutschland.

‘We are the pure, Aryan people. Our genetics is pure, our hearts must be pure, our tastes must be pure.’

Despite the offensive impersonation, Graham-Dixon’s side against the motion won the debate on Thursday evening. 

Bradwell had been filmed admitting he was ‘quite drunk’ during the debate, but later said he had two glasses of wine and denied it impacted his ability to chair the discussion. He said his failure to intervene was ‘solely a question of lacking the the courage to stop someone in front of a room of 400’

Cambridge Union President Keir Bradwell, who admitted to being drunk at the debate and had said that it was the ‘longest Hitler impression’ the chamber had ever heard, has now issued an apology for his failure to intervene

In an open letter, Bradwell wrote: ‘I would like to offer my unreserved apology for the comments made by a speaker in our debate on Thursday night.

‘Neither I nor the society condones the thoughtless and grotesque language used by the individual in question, and I am sorry for my failure to intervene at the time.

‘The speaker in question employed a crass and deeply insensitive impression of Hitler to make the point in opposition that there is such a thing as bad taste […] It was inexcusable, and I regret not intervening.’

Bradwell, who had said he was ‘quite drunk’ during the debate, later said in the open letter that it did not affect his abilities to chair the talk. 

He said: ‘I had two glasses of wine over dinner beforehand, as did our speakers, and I drew attention to that fact, prior to the speech in question, in order to add to what was at that stage still a convivial debate. 

‘I was not impeded in my ability to chair the debate; my failure to intervene was solely a question of lacking the the courage to stop someone in front of a room of 400.’

The Union’s Equalities officer, Zara Salaria, said that art historian Graham-Dixon’s impression was ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and ‘utterly horrifying’

The Union’s Equalities officer, Zara Salaria, said that art historian Graham-Dixon’s impression was ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and ‘utterly horrifying.’

Former President of the Cambridge Union, Joel Rosen, tweeted that he felt ‘physically sick’ from what he saw at the event.

Graham-Dixon also released a statement following the backlash and said: ‘The intention of my speech was to underline the utterly evil nature of Hitler and his regime.

‘He caricatured Jewish people and black people and homosexuals in all kinds of terrible ways and curated a huge art exhibition – called Degenerate Art – as propaganda for his poisonous views.

‘In my speech I caricatured him, briefly, paraphrasing HIS crass and insensitive statements about art and race. I’d hoped this was crystal clear to all present.

‘My point was that evil ideas in the sphere of art can have untold and even atrocious consequences in the rest of life. Those familiar with my work will know that I have always spoken out against racism or any form of discrimination.

‘I apologise sincerely to anyone who found my debating tactics and use of Hitler’s own language distressing; on reflection I can see that some of the words I used, even in quotation, are inherently offensive. It was not my intention to upset anybody, merely to persuade them that bad taste and bad morality often go hand in hand.’

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