I had the good fortune to meet the wonderful and kind Lady Michèle Renouf in Germany in mid-December 2017, two weeks before my arrest. She is beautiful in every sense of the word.
Two months later, February 2018, she gave an impromptu short speech, upon invitation, at the Dresden memorial, remembering the German victims of Allied firebombing from February 13 to 15, 1945. She was arrested (released later that day) and the event was shut down. My brother Alfred Schaefer was one of the scheduled speakers who did not get to speak, but in his words, the world-wide attention which Lady Michèle’s arrest brought to this horrific war crime against German civilians was worth more than a thousand speeches!
For an account of the Dresden memorial event the year before (2017), see my article here.
Charges have been laid, and Renouf faces the Inquisition in May.
The following report comes from Peter Rushton – it is about the impending trial, her speech and Michèle Renouf’s life.
“Michèle, your fearless and direct utterances in Dresden, unfortunately forbidden to all Germans, blew open the window of truth in one blast.”
~ said Gerard Menuhin, son of legendary violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin, in February 2018
On 15th May 2020 an Australian-born Briton goes on trial in Dresden for “incitement” – not for terrorism or threats, but because of a 10-minute speech given to 300 mourners at a commemoration of the Allied terror bombing of Dresden in 1945.
The charges have been brought under Germany’s draconian volksverhetzung law – Para 130 of the criminal code, against Lady Michèle Renouf, former wife of New Zealand banking tycoon Sir Francis (‘Frank the Bank’) Renouf who was honoured with the Verdienstkreuz by the then West German government. In 1990 the engaged couple travelled to Bonn for the award of Sir Frank’s medal, and as his fiancée Lady Renouf was given a Verdienstkreuzlapel ribbon. This honour related to Sir Frank’s pioneering role in persuading the German federal government to relax its conservative policies and invest its financial surplus on world markets. (For similar reasons he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.)
In February 2018 Lady Renouf attended a public commemoration in central Dresden, marking the anniversary of the 1945 terror bombing by the Royal Air Force and the USAAF. Responding to an anti-British comment by someone in the crowd, Lady Renouf was invited to give a brief spontaneous speech in which she acknowledged Britain’s shame for its deliberate wartime policy of targeting civilians.
During this speech she referred to the following facts:
a) Many influential Britons at the time condemned Churchill’s barbaric terror bombing policy and the associated demand for unconditional surrender – such people included Lord Hankey (formerly Sir Maurice Hankey, founder of the modern civil service); the Rt Rev George Bell, Bishop of Chichester; Labour MP and future minister Richard Stokes; and government scientist and future bestselling novelist C.P. Snow.
b) The terror bombing of Dresden was a literal Holocaust in which tens of thousands of civilians were burned alive. We shall never know the atrocity’s exact death toll, because the city was packed with refugees – uncounted and undocumented – fleeing from the advancing Soviet Red Army.
c) The wider relevance of the Dresden war crime – Renouf emphasised – is that so-called ‘moral bombing’ of Dresden by the Second World War allies has effectively acted as a precedent for postwar crimes against civilians including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which in turn has prompted unprecedented floods of refugees into Western Europe.
d) The Allied justification for this targeting of civilians was that Britain and America were at war with Germany, yet this factor is ignored when discussing what has become known as the ‘Holocaust’, an unchallengeable dogma taking the place of history.
e) The simple fact that Jewish civilians were interned in camps is today regarded as a ‘war crime’ and part of ‘genocide’, regardless of what did or did not happen in the camps themselves, a topic which Lady Renouf did not address, knowing that it is illegal in Germany to debate such matters. It is odd to condemn internment itself as criminal, bearing in mind that both Britain and America interned enemy aliens. It is scarcely surprising that European Jews were placed in this “enemy alien” category, given the actions of the self-styled leaders of World Jewry who had as early as 1933 declared economic war on Germany. Moreover the future founders of Israel such as Chaim Weizmann were actively engaged in a campaign of covert warfare, some of it contrary to international law, in collaboration with Britain’s Special Operations Executive. In itself it was not unreasonable for the German authorities to intern large numbers of European Jews as potential collaborators in this covert war.
It is for making these points in her brief impromptu February 2018 speech that Lady Renouf was arrested and now faces trial in Dresden on 15th May 2020 for offences which carry a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Her trial will focus press and public attention on the extraordinary German laws that deny normal historical debate and rational argument. These and similar laws in many other European countries (though not so far in the UK) were condemned more than a decade ago by a coalition of eminent historians and other academics writing under the label ‘Appel de Blois’: these critics included the late Eric Hobsbawm; Jewish journalist and author Geoffrey Alderman; Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg; and the Oxford professor Timothy Garton Ash.
Lady Renouf’s own background is not as an historian, scientist, lawyer or politician. So how did someone whose lifelong career since early childhood was as a model and advertising actress come to be on trial in Germany charged with having expressed forbidden opinions and having uttered forbidden historical facts?
Born in 1946, Michèle Mainwaring was directed mainly to classical ballet studies from the age of 3 to 23, eventually for a licentiateship at the Royal Academy of Dancing in London. Her earlier four years of undergraduate art studies at the National Art School were partly financed by her parallel modelling career (beginning at age 7) and prizes in beauty contests, including winning Radio 2HD’s Miss Beach Girl, Miss Newcastle & Hunter Valley, and Miss Zhivago. (The latter title, twenty years later was to bemuse Dr Zhivago’s co-star Omar Sharif, when he and Lady Renouf enjoyed gaming at London’s Ritz Hotel casino.)
At age 14 Michèle Mainwaring was performing as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel at the Sydney Conservatorium when the world-famous former Ballets Russes dancer and choreographer Kiril Vassilkovsky came backstage seeking to recruit her “ethereal quality” for the role as Clara in his production of The Nutcracker. However her mother would not allow her to leave school to joint the company!
The young Michèle performed as Radio 2HD’s Shirley Temple, singing and tap dancing for the station’s famous children’s radio presenter Twink Storey as an infant performer and symbol of innocence in the postwar years. While the actual Shirley Temple became a US Ambassador, Lady Renouf in later life was to have a rather different involvement with diplomacy and politics – considered by some to have an ‘ambassadorial’ role as a champion for the rights of historical revisionism without exceptionalism!
The future Lady Renouf came to England in the late 1960s shortly before her marriage to the late Daniel Griaznoff, descendent of a Russian noble family. During the 1970s and 1980s she used her marital title of Countess Griaznoff in association with many charitable activities and became well-known in London society. Prolific romantic novelist and socialite Barbara Cartland delighted in entertaining Count and Countess Griaznoff at her country home. Actors Edward Fox and his wife Joanna David generously contributed their celebrated artistry to charity soirees and balls hosted by the Griaznoffs at their Hampstead home.
Meanwhile from age 15 Lady Renouf had been recruited into an international career as an advertising actress in television commercials alongside her modelling career. This led to magazine and television advertisements worldwide for products and companies as diverse as Deutsche Post, Tchibo coffee, British Airways, Cable & Wireless, Nissan cars, Lenthéric perfume, and hundreds more. On screen she appeared with such legends as the Muppets and Dick Emery.
In the mid-1990s Lady Renouf become a member of the fundraising advisory board for the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe on Bankside, chairing the principal fundraising event. As a professional designer of garden mazes and knot gardens, she had also designed an Elizabethan knot garden and labyrinth for the Globe approved by the project’s head Sam Wanamaker, intended as part of the re-education of the general public in the coded poetic messages of flowers, familiar to a Tudor mindset but now lost: her knot garden project was featured in a major article for the Sunday Times.
In this invited role Lady Renouf mobilised a range of contacts among London’s diplomatic corps (built up as a longstanding member of the Ladies’ Committee of the European-Atlantic Group) to assist in the Shakespeare’s Globe project, including Adm. William Crowe, US Ambassador and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who became a family friend; and Australian High Commissioner Neal Blewett. After completing raising funds for the construction of the Wardrobe of Robes room, behind the Globe’s stage (marked today by a bronze plaque) – Lady Renouf’s private tribute to her mother, who was a designer of ballet costumes – she also invited another family friend Buzz Aldrin, second man on the Moon, to include his contribution to a time capsule buried beneath the reconstructed theatre.
Oddly the first steps towards Lady Renouf’s involvement with “political” questions came as the result of a Jewish member of her Shakespeare’s Globe committee insisting on the entire menu at a fundraising dinner being kosher. Merely the appearance of a non-kosher item on the menu sent this woman into a rant about “tyranny” and “anti-semitism”.
Understandably Lady Renouf was puzzled by this inexplicable reaction, and this led her into further investigations of the taboo subject of “anti-semitism”. She carried out extensive research into the composer Richard Wagner’s attitude to the Jewish question, and in 1997 published the monograph Richard Wagner’s Art-works of the Future and Judaism: Inspirational or Conspiratorial.
At the end of the 1990s Lady Renouf visited Palestine with her high society chum the Bey of Haifa, Jeannot Khayat, who informed her for the first time about the outrageous “absentee law” whereby Palestinian homes can be confiscated by the Israeli state if their owners leave the country even for a holiday.
Early in the 2000s she met and recorded interviews with British veterans of the war against Zionist terrorism in Palestine, 1945-48. These included unique interviews by the late Phillip Knightley with British Army veteran and author Eric Lowe – now archived at St Antony’s College, Oxford. Some of these landmark interviews (in cooperation with anti-Zionist Neturei Karta rabbis, Palestinian diplomats, and commentators including Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon) appeared in Lady Renouf’s first documentary film projects, Palestine Scrapbook andIsrael in Flagrante: Caught in Acts of Twistspeak, screened at the House of Lords and House of Commons, under the auspices of Dr James Thring and Lord Stoddart.
In 2000 Lady Renouf attended the London trial of a libel case brought by the British historian David Irving against the Jewish-American author Deborah Lipstadt: this was the first she had heard of debates around the “Holocaust”, but she later became aware of a worldwide campaign of persecution against historical sceptics, notably the jailing of Ernst Zündel, Germar Rudolf, Wolfgang Fröhlich, Gerd Honsik, Monika and Alfred Schaefer, and Ursula Haverbeck – including their lawyers Horst Mahler and Sylvia Stolz. In 2006 she attended David Irving’s trial in Austria, where he was sentenced to three years imprisonment, eventually being released after one year thanks to an appeal filed by celebrated Viennese attorney Dr Herbert Schaller. (In the recent film Denial, an actress plays the part of Lady Renouf, seated on the court bench as the sole observer on Irving’s side of the court throughout the hearings.)
During the summer of 2001 Lady Renouf arranged a meeting between Irving and Prince Fahd bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, eldest son of the present King Salman. Prince Fahd was owner of many racehorses including the 1991 Derby winner Generous, who was celebrated in a hillside maze garden designed by Lady Renouf, a friend of the Prince and Princess, at their Harewood estate in Surrey where Queen Elizabeth II had planted a tree. In a telephone call from Riyadh following their meeting, Prince Fahd confirmed his intention to purchase the entire property including Irving’s flat in Duke Street, Mayfair, and turn it into a “Real History Institute”, but he died suddenly a day later aged only 46.
One consequence of Lady Renouf’s defence of Irving was that a cabal of opponents engineered her expulsion from the Reform Club in 2003, following an earlier unsuccessful attempt to expel her in 2002 (when she was defended by eminent pollster Sir Bob Worcester). Lady Renouf had invited Irving to an event at the Reform Club (alongside family friend Count Nikolai Tolstoy) in the week of the Lipstadt trial verdict.
Since 2006 Lady Renouf’s Telling Films has produced many DVDs on the stifling of historical debate and the persecution of revisionist historians, scientists, authors, publishers, and latterly even their lawyers. These documentaries include Jailing Opinions, focused on the prosecutions of Irving in Vienna (Austria), Ernst Zündel in Toronto (Canada), and Robert Faurisson in Paris (France), and later documentary films such as Dresden Holocaust 1945 – An Apology to Germany is Due; Out and Unbowed, about Ernst Zündel’s trials and imprisonment; Mourning the Victims, Naming the Culprits about the British torture centre at Bad Nenndorf (Germany); and many others.
In 2006 Lady Renouf attended and spoke at the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, hosted in Tehran at the instigation of Iran’s then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The topic of her conference address was “Psychology of Holocaustianity” – an echo of her postgraduate studies in Psychology of Religion a few years earlier at London University’s Heythrop College. Veteran revisionist scholar and literary document analyst Professor Robert Faurisson said that he gave Lady Renouf’s speech “20 out of 20”!
Nominated by Prof. Faurisson, Lady Renouf was elected to serve on a five-member international fact-finding committee created at the end of the Tehran conference to advance research and support informed historical debate.
Between 2006 and 2020 Lady Renouf has been interviewed in many television and radio debates and discussions opposite (for example) Prof. Norman Finkelstein; former CIA officer Dr George Lambrakis; Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom; the Rev. Stephen Sizer; and Dmitry Shimelfarb, former adviser and press spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2005 she was honoured with the George Orwell Award by the Canadian Free Speech League, and has spoken at conferences in Canada, the USA and Mexico. Several of these speeches, films and interviews have focused on Lady Renouf’s campaign to raise awareness about the first, pre-Israel Jewish Homeland option in Birobidjan – the Jewish Autonomous Region created in 1928 in the former Soviet Union and still flourishing to this day in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
When the Australian revisionist Dr Fredrick Töben was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport in October 2008 and subjected to a European Arrest Warrant seeking his extradition to face criminal opinion charges in Germany, Lady Renouf mobilised a defence team that successfully opposed the warrant as invalid, forcing the German authorities to back down and accept his release. The Töben case proved an important precedent in relation to the traditional Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson, who was convicted in Germany for answers he gave to a Swedish television crew in November 2008, but who as a consequence of the success in Töben’s case, could not be subjected to a European Arrest Warrant. On Bishop Williamson’s return to London in 2009 he was met at the airport by Lady Renouf, who gave interviews to BBC Radio 4 and the World Service later that day, in which she debated the issues involved with Deborah Lipstadt and the late Greville Janner of the World Jewish Congress.
Now those same German authorities are seeking revenge in a wholly unwarranted prosecution of a British citizen for a perfectly normal and reasonable (though unplanned and unprepared) speech in Dresden two years ago, a speech intended as a humble acknowledgment of British guilt and contrition for a terrible crime against German civilians committed 75 years ago.
By this politically-motivated prosecution, the moribund Merkel government’s servants in the German state apparatus dishonour their own dead, and discredit themselves before the world’s media.
Lady Renouf’s former husband Sir Frank Renouf was a prisoner-of-war in Germany for four years following his capture after parachuting into Greece on 26th April 1941. His time in an officers’ prisoner-of-war camp in Bavaria was well spent learning German from a friendly guard with the aid of Schiller’s poetry, building a tennis court, enjoying Red Cross food parcels, and conducting a correspondence course with Worcester College, Oxford, where he was admitted for a postwar degree. His German connections were strengthened after the war as a friend of British Prime Minister Edward Heath and eminent figures in European banking including the British Lord Kindersley (a director of the Bank of England) and the German Hermann Abs (a director of Deutsche Bank). The Renoufs’ matrimonial home at 37 Eaton Square, Belgravia, had during the 1930s been the home of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who immediately before the Second World War rented out this same property as the home of German Ambassador Joachim von Ribbentrop – the first prisoner executed by the Allies at Nuremberg in 1946.
It remains to be seen whether 21st century Germany will be as hospitable to Lady Renouf as wartime Germany was to her former husband!