R. Selkirk Panton, an Australian in Berlin: a foreign correspondent for the Daily Express in Europe, 1929-1950

Marianne Hicks

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis is a critical biography of R. Selkirk Panton, an Australian journalist who travelled to Europe in 1927 and began work with the Daily Express in 1929. Panton was stationed in Berlin (1929-33, 1935-39, 1945-1950), Vienna (1933-35) and Copenhagen (late August 1939-April 1940) and reported on many of the major events of the period. By exploring Panton's reportage and private papers, a better understanding of the Daily Express as a mediator of the 'news' and the complex, layered and often negotiated relationship between a foreign correspondent, the head office and the 'beat' can be achieved. The thesis combines a chronological with a thematic approach. The first chapter investigates Panton's childhood in Australia, relying primarily on his unfinished and unpublished autobiography. Panton's early years were portrayed by him as the foundation of his worldview as an 'independent Australian Briton', enabling the exploration of the themes of masculinity, race, class and nation. The second chapter details his first two years in Germany as an English teacher, and his initial employment with the Daily Express in September 1929. The third chapter scrutinises Panton’s adoption of 'national' and 'racial types' as a means for understanding the culture and 'people' of Berlin and Germany, while the relationships he formed with a variety of women allow further insight into his masculinity and morality. The third chapter also examines Panton's first three years as a journalist. He was entranced by the decay of Weimar Germany and intrigued by the explosive nature of domestic politics in the moments before the Nazi rise to power. His position as a fellow traveller of the Right is explored through his appreciation for the action and excitement of political violence. His burgeoning success within the Daily Express led to his reassignment to Vienna and promotion, becoming the chief correspondent for South Eastern Europe. Chapters four, five and six investigate his time in Vienna through three separate thematic lenses. The fourth chapter interrogates Panton's political views while he reported effectively on the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss in the failed Nazi putsch in 1934. Chapter five considers Panton's faith in the British monarchy, which was cemented by his interview with Prince George and Princess Marina on their engagement and challenged by Prince Edward's affair with Wallis Simpson. Chapter six explicates his coverage of the 'Greek Revolution' of 1935, where he indulged in his love of adventure and succeeded in getting three 'scoops', beating Greek censors in the process. The seventh chapter surveys Panton’s return to Berlin and the relationship between his social life and public writing. Chapter eight depicts Panton’s successes and failures in 'projecting' the policies of the Daily Express through his reportage. Chapter nine discusses his last months as a war correspondent, his long internment as a civilian detainee in a Danish camp, his repatriation to Britain and his return to the front as a war correspondent in the final weeks of conflict. Chapter ten examines Panton’s negotiation of the difficult post-war politics and newspapers policies as he reported on the Nuremberg trial and life in occupied Berlin...
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2005


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