Chapters 6 – 10, pp. 110 – 199.
Illustrations by Edgar Lander.
The Dark Shadow
1 The Sense of Doom
IT IS IN THE MINDS of the English people—this dark shadow. It creeps into English gardens where there is beauty and should be, if anywhere, a sense of peace. It sits like a spectre at dinner tables where there is good company, and if one listens, as I do, one is conscious, very soon, of this ghost which haunts the minds of men and women who have been talking amusingly and lightheartedly until, inevitably—at least in the company I keep—the talk drifts, or lurches suddenly, into an argument which begins with fear and ends sometimes with a laugh in which despair is lurking.
I do not exaggerate or overdramatise. This dark shadow is caused by the dreadful apprehension that by some inescapable doom we are all marching, against our will, towards another war more frightful than the last—not the war to end war this time but the war to end civilisation. That shadow lies brooding over our English scene and darkening all our hopes.
What is the use of this "prosperity" proclaimed triumphantly by the government and by the Press (ignoring the distressed areas and other less pleasant aspects of English life) if it is going to be ended, rather soon perhaps (if one can believe the same newspapers), by hostile air raids from some enemy unnamed, unless Germany is named, smashing up our densely populated centres and spreading panic and death by poison gas and incendiary bombs? What is the good of this great scheme of physical training—the outcome of King George's Jubilee Fund—if youth is only to be made fit for the next shambles? What is the good of that Ten Years' Plan for Childhood, advocated by Lady Astor and her friends, if in one year, or two, or three—1940 is generally named as the fatal year by the prophets of woe—these children will be vomiting in gas masks and huddling in cellars which are by no means bombproof?
"I want to frighten people," said Mr Duff-Cooper, secretary for war, anxious to speed up recruiting.
Well, he has been doing his best, but it
was hardly necessary. Mr Winston Churchill had done
rather well in that direction by speeches and articles revealing the rapid and
vast rearming of
"Why are we working on day and night shifts? Somebody seems to know something. It don't look good, apart from work and wages."
2 Ways of Escape
One Sunday afternoon in the spring of this year I went into two old country houses where pleasant people live, typical, perhaps, of English life at its best. One belonged to a young doctor who had been hard driven by the influenza epidemic and does not get much rest, anyhow, in a practice which extends to many villages. He looked tired, I thought, but was amusing in his conversation as he stood six inches below the old black beams which go across his ceiling. But presently, when we drifted into a talk about psychology, he asked me a curious question.
"Do you think young people ought to
escape from this lunatic asylum called
"Where would they go to find a sanctuary?" I answered by another question.
He was worrying about that "next war", perhaps on account of his young wife, perhaps as a theoretical question nagging at him as he made his rounds, helping new life into the world, attending to children and young people who might be caught by the fire of Moloch.
It was strange that in the second house I went to that afternoon there were two women who started talking to me about this fear in their minds. One of them was the hostess of a tea party to which a group of young, or youngish, people had come. We talked at the end of the room for a few minutes and presently she asked me a question very seriously.
"Do you think that it might be wise for anyone to get out of this country while the going is good—that is, before another war comes? I've almost given up hope of peace. I'm sorry for the young people—this little crowd, for instance."
It was the same question that the young
doctor had put to me. Behind it was the same sense of impending conflict. They
were both looking for a way of escape while there might still be time. It was
rather startling. It was tragic as evidence of a state of mind creeping into
English thought as a deepening shadow. All over
Another lady in the same room spoke to me
in a quiet voice. She had a little scheme in which, she thought, I might be
interested. Her idea was that a village like the one in which she lived, and
many others not enormously far from
That fear again! That dreadful apprehension of a coming war.
I spoke quietly, as she had done, so that
no one could hear in a room where there was a cheerful murmur of general
conversation and occasional laughter. It was a good old house which for many
generations had belonged to farming folk but now was filled with a company who skim the latest books, and listen to the
wireless, and are in touch with
"I refuse to believe that war is coming," I said sturdily. "It seems to me a kind of acceptance of its certainty if one arranges plans for air raids and gas masks for children. That is a surrender of all hope. It's putting emphasis onto preparation and not onto prevention. War mustn't happen."
She was the mother of young children, though young looking herself and beautiful. Reynolds and Romney painted women like her. She looked, I thought, very eighteenth century in a long low room with old-fashioned furniture.
"Besides," I said, "there are
nine million people in
"It might be worth while saving some of the children," she answered.
Somehow, I thought, we must kill this fear lurking in so many minds. How tragic, how farcical, how damnable, that with all our massed intelligence, all our science, all our victories of civilisation, the minds of women should be haunted by this spectre of approaching horror for the children they have brought into the world! Gas masks for babies? The very devil wouldn't think of such abomination.
3 The Failure of the League
It was the breakdown of the
They had pinned their faith to the
principles of Collective Security. When Mussolini broke all his pledges to the
League, refused arbitration, and massed his troops for attack against the
Ethiopians, it looked, for a little while, as though the League would exert its
authority and put into combined action its clauses of restraint against a
nation judged to be guilty of flagrant aggression against any member nation of
the League. By Article 16 of the Covenant sanctions were to be imposed on
Mr Anthony Eden, that elegant young man representing
the British government, rapped on the table of the League Council. He took a
strong line, supported by his government at home. When Mussolini sent troops to
There was one day when I felt forked lightning in the air—an oppressive atmosphere. Other people were aware of it.
It was a day when we were within an hour
or two of war with
Collective Security had a wide-open gap.
Only military and naval force—that is, war—could stop the Italian army on its
The British Lion had roared and everybody
was much impressed. Then it began to curl its whiskers and wag its tail.
British prestige had been high.
There was an outburst of passion in
"It is not
Mr Baldwin came running into
It was all very dramatic. The voice of
"You needn't pay any attention to these alleged Italian victories," I was told by an air commodore in his drawing room one day.
He had just flown over
"The Italians make a little advance and then have to draw back. It will take them years to penetrate that country where black tigers lie behind the rocks."
"The Italian claims to victory are
all bluff," said a young American in the same room. He had just spent six
Less than two months afterwards the
Italian army entered
It was a "glorious victory" for
It was one cause of that shadow which had
long been in the minds of European peoples—the shadow of fear over many
frontiers which now deepened and darkened. It reached
This Italian adventure gave a shock to Mr Stanley Baldwin, not easily shocked into any galvanic activity until something "really must be done"—and to his advisers in the Admiralty, War Office, and Foreign Office. The government was beggared now of all slogans for the public soul. It was no use talking any more about their faith in the League. The League had been badly battered and had gone into dry dock for repairs, if possible. The Disarmament Conference had dragged along its weary way to death. No use reviving that, they thought, wrongly, as I venture to think.
Another menace, which seemed to them more
Some of the new leaders in
It was a kind of woolly Wagnerism applied
to modern life. They exalted physical strength, instinct, force, against
intellectualism and all the code of European culture derived from the Christian
faith and the Renaissance. The old tribal law of
The German people were being drilled intensively. They were being subjected to an intensive propaganda which blared into their ears, and into their minds, ceaselessly, under the direction of that human talking machine Herr Goebbels.
Worse still, to the outside world, German youth seemed to like it! They did not resist this discipline. They gloried in it.
The intensive rearmament of
"When is this war going to break out?" asked American people of a friend of mine named Curtis Brown a few months ago. They were staggered when he answered cheerfully: "There ain't going to be no war!"
The English Press does not share his optimism. Every day for the past two years many newspapers in this country have kept their readers' nerves on edge. Every crisis becomes to them a new threat of a world war. Every analysis of the world situation leads them to the conclusion that war is coming nearer. Their correspondents in many countries emphasise these constantly arriving dangers. Politicians repeat dolorously that the international situation is "deteriorating."
It deteriorated very intensively when the Spanish Civil War aroused passionate emotion on the Left and Right of all political groups. Spain became the Tom Tiddler's ground into which half-a-dozen nations poured aeroplanes, tanks, all munitions of war, and volunteers, for a trial of strength between Democracy, as it was called, and Fascism, as it was called, though in that tragic arena of blood, and heroism, and murder, and mercilessness on both sides—a disgrace to civilisation, an outrage against all Christian chivalry—there were many parties and many groups—on both sides—which were neither one nor the other.
Labour and the Communists and the Left Wing
intellectuals clamoured for intervention on the side
Is it any wonder that in the early part of this year when England spoke behind closed doors, in old houses, in small flats, in college rooms, in little restaurants, in clubs, and in bed-sitting-rooms, there was a sense of fear that another war might happen and that we were drifting to a calamity which would be the death of civilisation and the ruin of the Western world?
5 Who Wants War?
A man spoke to me on the stairs of a
Twenty-odd years ago this man, who now has grey hair and sad-looking eyes because he is disgusted with the state of the world, was a young officer in a Scottish regiment, and while he stood talking to me his mind went back to a day in 1914. That was after a melancholy remark he had made because of the dark shadow which was on his mind.
"We are all marching towards war," he said. "Who can doubt it? There's no ill feeling against the Germans. They have no ill feeling against us. But we are being dragged into a state of things which can only lead to another conflict. Democracy has no power over its own fate; there is no such thing as Democracy. It's at the mercy of those on top."
It was then that his memory went back to a day in 1914, at Christmas time, when there was a truce between the lines, and his men and the Germans went out into no-man's land to bury their dead and started talking to each other. It lasted for three days, that truce.
"Do you want to go on fighting?" asked this Scottish officer of one of the German soldiers.
He answered with the title of an English song:
"Home, Sweet Home! That's all I want."
They all wanted that, on both sides. If it had been left to them they would have stopped killing each other. They had no enmity at all. They hated the war. They could see no sense in it. It was the men on top who were going on with the war.
"This rearmament of ours," said
my friend, who used to be a Liberal M.P., "is a sign that we have
"Why not accept Hitler's offer of a
Western Pact?" I asked. "Isn't that the first step to peace in
He didn't agree. He thought it would be
"But what evidence have we," I asked, "that
He hated Fascism. He had no faith in Hitler's sincerity. But he groaned over the bill of costs for British rearmament and its enormous folly, as he thought it.
"Think of what all that money would mean in social services and productive plans! We could create a paradise. Now I despair."
There were others like him in every part
One optimist took tea with me, a charming
man whom I met at the council table of the
"I wish you would write an article," he suggested, "about the point of view of the younger crowd in every country, showing that none of them want war. It would be a great service, and I am sure you could get a lot of material from different countries. It's only the elder statesmen who have got this war complex."
I made a few mental reservations. It was true that even the young Nazis of Germany don't want another war. But they would march with the exaltation of self-sacrifice if Hitler called them. What about the young Italians?
And yet I believe he is right—this
distinguished little lawyer, Sir John Stewart-Wallace by name—whose heart flows
with the milk of human kindness and whose eyes reveal a schoolboy humour, in spite of his dusty lawbooks
and his legal dryness. The young people of
6 An Exhibition of Modern Culture
I dropped into an exhibition arranged for public edification by the municipal authorities of Kensington, where once I used to live.
Now, when I walk through Kensington Gardens, I think of those peaceful days of my young manhood when I used to play with a small boy on the coast of that Sea of Adventure—the Round Pond—where thousands of small boys have watched their craft go out on distant voyages from which, on days of dead calm, they never came back. Those small boys grew up just in time, some of them, for a world war in which they were wanted, and they, too, so many of them, never came back.
Those ghost memories were in my head when
I went through
By taking the advice kindly provided by the Home Office and passed on to the municipality of Kensington, it was suggested that precautions against this uncomfortable possibility should be taken in advance—today or tomorrow, if possible—and that by a few little gadgets—bits of stick, brown paper, gluepots and the glazed paper on cigarette boxes or chocolate boxes—Kensington families might avoid all disagreeable consequences of mustard gas or other varieties of poison vapour.
There was a little crowd in the exhibition, including old gentlemen of Kensington who were very much interested in this show and seemed to approve of its purpose thoroughly—"The nation wants waking up!" said one of them—and a number of ladies from Kensington Gore, Holland Street and Campden Hill (I guessed) who seemed to accept this chamber of horrors as complacently as they would go round Harrods to see the latest fashions.
"Most interesting!" . . . "It seems to me very necessary." . . .
"Now, isn't that a good idea?" . . . "So simple too! Really I think we must do something about it."
There were rooms of small size, representing bathrooms and bedrooms, converted into antigas chambers. Bits of stick had been tacked onto the doorways and round the windows. Wet blankets, or cloth of some fibrous stuff, made antigas curtains. The very latest types of gas mask suitable for Kensington ladies were exhibited on the tables. Lists of articles to be kept in a gasproof chamber before an expected, or unexpected, air raid were printed on big cards. They included domestic and sanitary utensils, a screen, drinking water, biscuits, toys for the children, playing cards for the grownups, and other items which might agreeably pass the time while the enemy was dropping bombs. It was really all very charming, to those whose minds work that way.
In charge of the exhibit were some young women in Red Cross uniforms. I ventured to speak to one.
"Don't you think it might be better to prevent a war rather than go in for this kind of thing?"
"Excellent idea!" she answered brightly. "How are you going to do it?"
"Doesn't this seem to you a surrender of reason?" I asked this good-looking girl with very steady eyes which looked frankly into mine.
"An acceptance of war, do you mean?" she asked. "Yes. That's how it seems to me."
"There's only one kind of defence, really," she told me, looking over her shoulder as though she might be overheard; "that's by retaliation. I suppose if we're strong enough to retaliate we shan't be attacked. Isn't that the best hope?"
"What's the good of all this nonsense?" I asked. "Do you honestly think it's any good at all?"
She was very honest.
"It might save a few. That's better than saving none."
I wanted to have further conversation
with her. She reminded me of a girl I had known before the war and in the war,
a very brave young woman named Dorothy Feilding who
had helped the wounded lying on Belgian battlefields, quite regardless of her
own danger. This Red Cross girl would do the same kind of thing, I thought, in
the streets of
So this, I thought, as I wandered round alone, is what we are coming to! What a beautiful revelation of the civilisation we have reached in this year of grace! What a lovely introduction to life for young children who are to be instructed on the wearing of gas masks, instead of reading fairy tales, and who are to be told that in a year or two they may have to take their dolls into a blanketed room to escape from a poisonous breath creeping through the streets, while millions, who are unprepared, choke to death or are burnt and blistered! There will be the crash of heavy bombs, destroying many houses and burying their inhabitants under their ruins. There will be incendiary bombs, dear children, making bonfires in the sky and roasting thousands of people in their flames. You see, darling, the nasty Germans want their colonies back, but if you are very good, and wear your gas masks nicely, and play in those comfy little rooms with their cracks pasted up, our dear Lord will look after you, and possibly let you remain alive and see the ruins afterwards. Won't that be nice?
Great God! I thought, going round that exhibition in Kensington. So this is the best that mankind is doing with its intelligence! This is the latest exhibition of our Brave New World! Without any poison gas, I felt poisoned.
And a few days later I read a report
about these Home Office recommendations for air-raid precautions. It was by a
number of scientists at
The experimenters, who included two women, converted four rooms—shop basement, villa dining room, council house sitting room, modern bathroom—into gasproof rooms according to the official handbook.
They found that gas penetrated bricks and plaster, cracks covered with brown paper and mushed paper, blocked-in fire-places and sealed doors.
In one room gas, which outside would kill in two and a half minutes, would kill inside within ten.
In the bathroom—with steel-framed windows, tiled walls, concrete floor—gas would penetrate and kill within four hours.
Then they tested incendiary bombs—classified as a greater danger than gas or high explosives—and found that the sand-spreading advised was useless.
Welding thermit, a comparatively mild incendiary compound, defied all such efforts, burned under water, through metal, through sand, through floors.
"If we take a specimen raid of nine bombers, each carrying a thousand small bombs, nine thousand could be dropped on an area of two square miles.
"Allowing that in an urban area only a fifth of these cause fires, that means 1,800 fires. The danger of fires spreading over several blocks of buildings, making the centre of the conflagration quite unapproachable by fire brigades, is obvious.
"On hearing the warning people will rush to their gasproof rooms, and then when incendiary bombs set fire to the upper parts of their dwellings they will either run out and be caught by the gas or stay inside and be roasted alive.
"This is how they would act if they follow the instructions of the Home Office."
Gas masks tested were found useless against mustard gas and lewisite.
Protection for tiny children is shown to be impossible, and the report pictures children, sealed up in containers, screaming themselves into fits, with the mother trying to pump air to several at once.
Would fathers and mothers protect themselves and watch their children suffocate? they ask.
The full absurdity of all this is shown by a criticism of the Home Office advice: "Set aside a room in your house."
So 8,669,000 would find a gasproof room impossible.
As for evacuating big cities by train—a few bombs on the termini would stop traffic for days.
We had better concentrate on stopping that next war if possible, for if it comes, retaliation is no protection.
Those Who Wear Wings
1 One of Our Air Pilots
I WENT to tea at a house in
It is like a country mansion with big
rooms and big open fireplaces where, in winter, logs are burning. In summer the
sun—if there is any sun—streams through the casement windows, and there is a
garden behind the house with a lawn smooth and large enough for croquet, which
the mistress of the house is pleased to play with her friends. Birds sing in
the bushes. Once, I swear, I heard a nightingale, though if one has listening
ears one hears very faintly the murmur of
At that tea table, round which we sat in a homely way—there were some nice hot cakes thereon—I noticed two youngish men whom I had met before. They were, as I knew, "those who mount with wings as eagles." That is to say, they were pilots in the Royal Air Force.
There were some women at the table and
laughter touched our talk. It was all very pleasant and very comfortable. This,
I thought, is what civilisation means at its best: a
pleasant room, a cheerful company round a tea table, conversation which is
merry and open minded. One would not have to put a guard upon one's tongue, as
one has to in some countries nowadays, or be afraid to express one's ideas on
any subject which comes into one's mind. This was Liberty Hall.
One of the flying men sitting on my right
picked up some phrase of mine. I have forgotten what it was, but I have an idea
it was something about a recent visit I had paid to
"I suppose you know we're living in a fool's paradise?" he asked, with a queer ironical smile. "This country is in considerable danger, and nobody seems to know, and nobody cares a damn!"
He said something like that and there was an intensity in his voice which startled me, and a look in his eyes which I could not misinterpret. It was the look of a man who has something desperate on his mind.
"Don't you pay the slightest attention to him," said my hostess. "He has been trying to frighten me. If I believed a word of it I shouldn't be able to sleep a wink."
"No, no!" said the young airman, laughing good-naturedly, but a little uneasily, perhaps. "I'm not a scaremonger. But I hate eyewash and a false sense of security."
"Have another toasted bun," said the lady.
He had another toasted bun. The conversation went round the table in a lighthearted way. But I knew that the boy on my right was seething with something he knew and didn't like.
After tea four of us—all men—went into another room where there was another fire. They were the two young flying men and my host and myself. Three of us lit cigarettes.
"Did you see anything of what they
were doing in the air in
FLIRTING WITH DEATH . . . .
I hadn't seen much of a technical kind.
But I had spent a little time at the Flughaven near
And I remembered a journey I had made
Lift Up Your
Our Future Is in the Air.
Help German Aviation.
The flying man threw away his cigarette and spoke quietly but with a kind of restrained passion.
At that time it was distinctly
unpleasant. We were still at cross-purposes with Signor Mussolini. Our prestige
had fallen to a low ebb.
The flying man thought it abominable. The
"I'm not an alarmist," he went
on, "but I suppose you would agree that some damn silly accident might
happen, some combination of bandits might make trouble, or war might be forced
upon us to defend vital interests.
I hated to think so. It would be the end of everything which we find good or endurable.
"If war happened," said my
flying friend, "it would come suddenly, perhaps without an ultimatum.
German bombers would appear over
He looked me in the eyes and said something which made me feel rather cold, although the fire was still burning on the big hearth.
"We have no defence and no means of retaliation." I couldn't believe that and told him so.
"What about our expansion scheme? The white paper! All this rearmament! Aren't we vastly increasing our fighting force in the air?"
The young airman laughed bitterly.
"Official dope! The expansion scheme is mainly on paper. It's faked arithmetic, put out by the Air Ministry to keep the nation lulled to sleep and ignorant of its appalling dangers. The higher control of the Air Force are the cause of all this mess, and their main preoccupation at the moment is to cover their past failures and deficiencies. Their concealment of these facts can only be done by going on with concealment. Men who have failed in the past—blind to the technical and tactical problems of air-fighting—go from important to more important posts, and this line of inefficiency continues without a break. Hopeless!"
He looked across at the other aviator.
"Am I exaggerating at all, do you think?"
The other man shook his head.
"The painful truth! Every experienced pilot knows it perfectly well."
The boy who wanted to get these things off his chest was silent for a little while and then sat forward in his chair.
He uttered another alarming sentence.
"Our Air Force can't strike a blow
of any kind at
The two air pilots went on talking.
2 A Grave Indictment
It was a terrible indictment which afterwards I heard from other sources of information. The present situation reveals that technically we haven't the aircraft, equipment or organisation which would give us the power we should need in another war. There is an appalling dilution of skilled personnel by hastily trained learners. Our biggest bombers have a short range, and are so slow compared with aircraft possessed by other nations that they couldn't hope to survive a long flight across hostile country, and do not possess the air endurance, at any endurable speed, to permit of them operating from home bases into a country as far away as Germany. The increase of the Air Force is based on the production of machines of these old-fashioned, slowgoing types of bombers.
"If we have a war forced upon us in the next few years we shall be powerless to retaliate in the air."
My host looked very grave but kept
extraordinarily silent. I wondered about all this. I could hardly believe it.
Perhaps the man who did most of the talking was fanatical on some theory, or
disgruntled for some personal reason, or obsessed by the fear of a German
menace. There was no doubt in my mind about the last point. He had no faith in
German peace-mindedness. Me gave them about two
years—if that—before they strike. They were just playing for time, he thought.
We should have to play for longer time than that, and even then we should be no
All this must be taken with heavy
discount, I thought. This flying man is exaggerating his case and not making
allowance for the government's plan of development. Anyhow,
I left the house where those two airmen
had been talking, and had a sense of dark doubt. I didn't believe in piling up
armaments as the way to peace. I was a
"We have no means of defence. Our Air Force is incapable of striking a blow
"What's the matter?" asked a friend of mine whom I met on the way home. "You look as if you had heard bad news. Worried about something?"
"Worried about human stupidity," I answered. "This planet is not governed by intelligence. We're all going stark raving mad again."
He was very much amused.
"We've never been sane," he answered cheerfully.
3 There Is No Defence
I listened to a debate in defence in the House of Commons. Mr
Winston Churchill, the right honourable gentleman
below the gangway, as they called him, sat making notes while the talk went on.
Presently he stood up and attacked the government for delays in expanding the
Air Force. The government programme and pledges, he
said, had broken down completely. We had been promised parity with
As I listened to this debate I looked
down upon the members of the House and the two front-line benches where
ministers and ex-ministers sat in various attitudes of mild interest or mild
boredom. The government men and their supporters, with few exceptions, seemed
satisfied with Sir Thomas Inskip's report of
progress. There was no sense of national danger sufficient to disturb their
placidity of mind. They seemed to accept the inevitability of delay as though
there were lots of time ahead, anyhow. Churchill's portentous phrases were what
they expected from him but did not make them turn pale or hear from afar the
noise of wings over
All this had only touched lightly upon the difficulties and delays in expanding our Air Force. But after that debate I came into possession of facts—they seemed to me reliable—which revealed the reasons why the young airman with whom I had taken tea one day had no touch of breezy optimism but was gravely anxious. Those facts were given to me, I suppose, because I might have the power of the pen to stir up the nation to a sense of its unprotectedness in the air and to bring pressure upon the government to awake from its stupor. Those who were my informants acted, I am certain, from a high sense of duty to the nation and were ready to sacrifice their own careers that the truth might be known. The whole truth is not yet known, though some of it was exposed and admitted in another debate of the House on January 27 of this year.
Sir Thomas Inskip acknowledged very frankly that the original plan calling for the provision of 71 new squadrons of 12 first-line aircraft in each squadron, making 124 in all, had broken down in the timetable. Only 87 squadrons had so far been formed, though he anticipated that 100 would be reached by the end of March of this year. The remaining 24, "or at least 20," would be ready by July of this year. But not all of them would be real squadrons but only skeletons of one or more flight each, and Sir Thomas was not able to say that by that time they would be brought up to their full complement.
Mr Churchill urged that there was an enormous
percentage of deficiency. If 124 squadrons were completed by March 31 it would
still not give us parity with German strength at that date, nor
anything like it. We had been solemnly promised that there should be parity. We
had not got it. We had no right, he said, to assume that any quarrel would
The debate put many cards on the table which had been held back, but by no means all of them. Many of these had been placed before the prime minister in a secret report by Mr Churchill, who found himself in the position of having a mass of information of an alarming character, as to lack of efficiency and failure in the very basis of planning and design, which he could hardly publish to the world without the revelation of secrets which might encourage potential enemies.
Curiously enough, I found myself in the
same position. I had notes of a very technical and secret character which
seemed to me too important to ignore or hold in my own knowledge. They were a
grave indictment of official complacency, official inefficiency, and of a most
distressing state of things in the Royal Air Force which would endanger the
lives of our young pilots in time of peace and lead to inevitable disaster
should there be war. But I could not bring myself to publish them in the Press
in a series of scare articles. I decided to put them into the hands of the man
who had taken up this subject and made himself the spokesman of the case for a
strong Air Force. That was Winston Churchill, who might care to have my notes,
though I might be "carrying coals to
Meanwhile, in many countries—Germany,
France, Italy, Russia, Japan, the United States—there was at the beginning of
this year a ceaseless endeavour to increase the
numbers of fighting aircraft, their range, their speed, the bomb-carrying
capacity, and the number of their trained pilots and crews. The Civil War in
manhood, womanhood and childhood in
But what alarmed me most about the
criticisms of our air efficiency was the awful thought that all this
intensification of armament, now being carried out by our government, may be
controlled by minds like those which were in charge of our war machine in 1914.
Those minds of cavalry officers, promoted to high command by social pull, good
looks and the camaraderie of a caste, were not exactly inspiring of confidence
among the men who were condemned to die in a World War. The official history of
the war does not break down the suspicion that they were unequal to the job in
hand. Is there any new assurance that the men who are now in high command—in
the Air Ministry, for instance—are of a different mental calibre
from those who were Brass Hats in
That is rather frightening.
The Red Dream
1 A Russian Fairy Tale
I once tried to read that book and found it very difficult and dreary. But other people who have actually read it—most of those who worship at the shrine of Karl Marx have not read it—think it wonderful. Professor Laski, for instance, thinks it wonderful. I was dining opposite to him one night in a private party and he made a statement which astonished me.
"Before I studied Marx," he said to me across the table, "I could get no real basis of political and economic philosophy, but I found his work extraordinarily stimulating, and it gave me for the first time a sense of optimism."
I confessed that my unsuccessful endeavour to master Das Kapital had left me with a sense of profound gloom. For as far as I understood the main thesis of the author, it was that human society was moving towards an inevitable class conflict, because under Capitalism the poor were bound to get poorer and the rich richer until that immense gap caused a break of the whole system which would be followed by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The old gentleman in the white whiskers
and a Father Christmas beard was the apostle of the Class War. That doesn't
seem to me a cause of joy. Yet one has only to look around one's own country,
and others, to see that, apparently, his prophecy has not come true. Here in
They have what seems to me a fairy tale
in their minds. It is untouched by reality or by the cold evidence of truth. It
has its origin in
I was struck by that one evening when I
was invited to dinner by a charming friend of mine who "threw a
party", as they say in the
Charming young men, I found them. One of
them had just written a book on
I did not intervene in this discussion.
My knowledge of Russia is becoming distant—as far back as the days when
twenty-five million people were starving (four and a half million died on the
Volga), when everyone in Russia was hungry, when millions were dying of typhus.
Perhaps things had improved since then. Some of these young men had been
Did they honestly think that the
condition of the Russian people was higher than in this country where they sat
at table talking freely? Did they believe that liberty was there—any kind of
free thought or free speech? Did they still believe that there was equality of
class and equality of reward? Had they not seen the well-dressed and well-fed kommissars at the Mariinsky
Theatre with their bourgeoise-looking women, and the
Russian peasants, or labourers in the timber camps,
not well dressed and not well fed, but miserable, and verminous,
and hungry? Why this admiration for the mechanisation
of Russian life—and the herding of peasants into collective farms, and the
crowding of the sky with bombing aeroplanes, and the
iron discipline of the ant heap? They used the words "Democracy" and
No doubt in
2 Intellectual "Reds"
At another party given by the same charming young friend of mine I sat opposite a man who is known throughout the English-speaking world as a fine scientist and thought-provoking brain. He dreams in Latin and is delirious in Greek. Presently he began to talk about Karl Marx, and the Russian revolution, and the creed of Communism. He seemed to see something fine and noble in what to others, like myself, appears to be a denial of intellectual liberty and the tyranny of Terror. This scientist, by some trick of the brain, was able to ignore the agonies and cruelties which have gone to make this Russian experiment of a new social system, or to weigh them lightly in the balance compared with agonies and cruelties inflicted on mankind by capitalism. He has persuaded himself that the results have justified all that suffering—results which appear in that low-grade civilisation now existing in Russia, that discipline of human ants, that tyranny of Cheka and Ogpu.
What is the mystery, or the secret
vision, which causes such a mind as this—it belongs to Professor Haldane—to worship at the shrine of Lenin and pay homage to
Stalin, that man of steel and blood? Professor Haldane
has the courage of his convictions. He went to
And yet Professor Jack Haldane has a fine brain, a gay humour, and, I am certain, a kindly heart. Other brains not so high as his, but quite intelligent—our little intellectuals—are seeing Red and dreaming Red, though they have never read Karl Marx nor walked across the Red Square below the Kremlin walls. They do not seem to know that Communism has been abandoned, largely, in Soviet Russia, which now has inequality of class and wages, recognises private property and the right of inheritance, and has established a corrupt and mean bureaucracy above a mass in human bondage.
3 The Ardent Mind of Youth
This Red dream touches the ardent mind of
youth, here and there, in universities, training colleges, and
bed-sitting-rooms. Undergraduates of
One of them—the son of an old friend of mine—honoured my wife and myself with a visit and was good enough to take tea with us. He is a very handsome young man with dark dreamy eyes in which at times there is a gentle smile. A poet, one would
TERROR BY NIGHT
say at first glance. But we didn't talk of poetry that afternoon. We talked of something more dangerous even than poetry. We talked of Communism.
He is a very intellectual young man and
one of the leaders of the Extreme Left at
My wife and I gave the young man a fair innings and listened with amiable consideration. He did not believe in tolerance, he told us. Tolerance meant acquiescence in injustice—such as in the distressed areas—and the cruelties of the Capitalist system, which of course, he said, was beginning to break down everywhere. The younger people of his crowd looked forward to the end of all that by direct action and the removal of the old dead-heads. Old age, he thought, had been too long in power. It wasn't their fault, of course, but their minds were incapable of moving forward and accepting any other system than the one into which they had been born.
"Everybody over the age of forty," said this humane young man, "ought to be shot."
My wife and I glanced at each other. We were, alas, over the age of forty.
"Their minds are too rigid," he
explained gently. "One has to realise that
nothing can be done in this country until that generation is safely dead. Then
we can get busy, shaping things differently. Of course there will have to be a
fight, anyhow. I am not one of those who believe that the system can be changed
without bloodshed. Vested interests, the defenders of Capital, the diehard type
of mind, the Fascist spirit, which is latent in snob minds, will have to be
defeated—and they won't surrender without a struggle. I shall live to see the
day when the barricades are up in
"Supposing," said my wife very quietly, "that I happened to appear on the other side of your particular barricade? What would you do?"
Our distinguished visitor—that charming young man—took another piece of cake and flicked a crumb from his knee. "I should shoot you," he said sadly but firmly.
It was an interesting conversation. I
wondered how many followers this young man had at
"It's quite all right," he said in a kindly way. "You can't help it. You're one of the old Liberals, of course. You belong to that era."
I belonged, in his mind, to the damned dead past.
4 Impatience of the Younger Mind
These young intellectual Communists are not to be taken too seriously, although they are influencing other minds, especially if they become schoolmasters and writers after college days.
What is the lure to them in this creed which, in every country where it works, leads to civil strife, murder and all cruelties? Is it due to a twisted morality in their minds? Is it some subtle poison of the brain? I think that among the younger intellectuals it is due to generous instincts—hatred of injustice, pity for the underdog, impatience with the slowness of social reform under parliamentary government, and disgust with the insincerities of the political game.
That emotion of sympathy with the down-and-outs, or the populations of the distressed areas, overwhelms their judgment and their sense of proportion. Because half a million people or so in this country are living in poor social conditions—which are getting better—they see red and are willing and, indeed, eager to drag down forty-eight and a half million people to the same equality of squalor. Because Parliament is incapable of rapid action, and the government twiddles its thumbs on the Front Bench while flagrant abuses cry out for redress, they ridicule the parliamentary system and proclaim the blessings of Soviet rule and the need of revolutionary action.
I can understand this impatience of the younger intellectuals. They went out to hear the stories of the Jarrow marchers and were angered. I don't blame them, for Jarrow is not a pleasant story, anyhow, and is no credit to a Conservative government, which, year after year, has left the men of Jarrow without lifting a finger to give them a chance of work. They played into the hands of sinister interests who blocked the only scheme—a new steel works—which would bring back life to Palmer's Yards.
Even when the armament industry was in
full blast, with rush orders, and arranged to lay down new steel works, it was
not at Jarrow but at
As the mayor of Jarrow, in great indignation, wrote to The Times:
The Government's policy towards the Special Areas is a curious one. Surveys, Special Commissioners, public work schemes are all to the good, but surely these should be mere preparation for the introduction of permanent industry. On the eve of the introduction of a Government Bill in Parliament to deal with Special Areas we read, only six months after the Jarrow scheme was turned down, of a new steel works in a small Lincolnshire town (which is not in a Special Area) which will employ between 2,000 and 3,000 more men than are employed at the present time.
These men will presumably be expected to come from other centres, leaving behind them a waste of social capital and necessitating doubtless the building of houses, roads, schools for their children, and other public works, and the provision of public services which they leave behind, whence they came, to be wasted.
That kind of thing makes men see red, even though the red dream is an illusion in its fairy tale, and here, if one tried to make it real, would lead to a river of blood and irredeemable ruin, more even than in Russia, which is less finely balanced in its social mechanism and more firmly planted on the soil.
Other voices call to the young intellectuals of our universities and to students in their bed-sitting-rooms where they look up from their books and hear the murmur of life in the streets; or go to a window and look across the chimney pots, and wonder It the meaning and mystery of life which they have to face and try to understand.
How is it, they ask, that there are so many anxieties pressing down on individual lives? There is no sense of security, no certainty of getting a job, even if an underpaid job. How can a man fulfil his life as nature intended? Where is his mate? How can he afford the luxury of love? He is shabby, overworked, uneasy in his mind, out of tune with life itself. Perhaps Marxism makes things easier, he thinks. In return for service to the state a man gets his food, clothes, amusements and lodging. No nagging landladies demanding arrears for lodgings. No class distinction of dress and snobbishness. No sense of insecurity. Free love, even if there is no free speech. A level of equality with one's fellows, without the damned injustice of prodigious wealth garnered into a few hands—the manipulators of money, the masters of machines, the Merchants of Death, the people with a pull, the jugglers with bears and bulls, while the mass of the population lives in dreary drudgery not sharing the fruits of their own toil. This Capitalism? "Oh, God!" cries the young intellectual, who doesn't believe in a deity but feels very moody on a Monday morning or inflamed with intellectual fervour on a Saturday night after three cocktails in another fellow's rooms. I can understand all that perfectly! As a French writer has said: "A man who is not a Marxist at twenty has no heart. A man who is a Marxist at forty has no head."
5 A Young Man Thinks
There is another reason why the young intellectual has leanings towards the Marxian ideal. His people at home look alarmed when he talks about it. It amuses him to alarm them.
His father is an instinctive Conservative
and doesn't want a damn thing changed. He even grouses about the new buildings
Then there is this menace of war. The young intelligentsia does not wish to be caught in some mantrap and blown to bits by tempered steel because Mr Stanley Baldwin says "our frontier is on the Rhine"; or because Mr Eden is playing a game of jigsaw puzzle with Mussolini on one side and M. Blum on the other; or because Herr Hitler has a grudge against Czecho-Slovakia—where is it on the map?—or because, having piled up a lot of armaments at great expense, it seems a pity not to use them with the blessing of the Bishop of London.
What is the good, asks the younger mind,
of reading, thinking, scheming out a good life, working for the love of a nice
girl, getting interested in art or music, when, in a year or two, Fascist
bullies, or Colonel Blimp, decide to have another world war—or something slips
by accident and makes the big explosion, to the astonishment perhaps of those
who have been hoarding high explosives? That was the kind of question which
caused a number of young gentlemen at
The H. G. Wells young man—1937
edition—reads the News Chronicle or the Daily Herald. Perhaps he
goes up the
Perhaps here is the clue, thinks Mr Kipps, to international
comradeship across all frontiers. The United Workers of the
World. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The
working classes don't want war, he is sure of that. They don't want to have
their bowels torn out by high explosives for some war arranged by a competition
for markets between Capitalist nations. Perhaps the class war, he thinks, will
have to happen first, before that union of democracies conducting their affairs
by co-operation, and reason, and a sense of human brotherhood. The class war!
Not too pleasant if it happens, of course! Karl Marx said it was inevitable.
Perhaps Fascism and Black Shirts would win first. What about
6 A Gruesome Show
It was a gruesome show and not quite fair
to Russian development since the early days of the revolution. Here were
ghastly photographs of the starving children such as I had seen on the
Perhaps some of that has died down now. I
was talking to a young Russian who told me that all over
What interested me most in this exhibition was the portrait gallery of the revolutionary leaders in the time of Lenin. It looked like a rogues' gallery. They had dreadful, almost inhuman, faces, some of these men. They were like masks out of which stared dead eyes. Perhaps the camera had not been flattering. Radek, the editor of Pravda, now in a prison cell, was very ugly, with a fringe of reddish hair round his flat face, but he had humorous eyes when I sat opposite to him in the Kremlin, and was not so frightful as his portrait here.
This room in
In that exhibition one saw nothing of the
He would often be underfed. He would be spied on. He would live in filthy conditions with filthy food. He would see around him a mass of misery and the disease of vice even among young people.
A wet wind was blowing on Tower Hill, and scudding clouds seemed low over the old Tower itself. About a thousand men, I guessed, stood about in small crowds on this open place during
THE ORATOR ON TOWER HILL
7 Free Speech on Tower Hill
the lunch hour. They were grouped round different
orators, each of whom was competing for an audience by his special brand of
political conviction. One man dominated the rest, standing higher than the
others on a raised platform and shouting louder. He had the biggest crowd and I
hadn't been there two minutes before I knew that he stood for the Spanish
Government of Caballero against Franco and his Fascist allies. He stood for the
United Front, the Clenched Fist, and the right of free-born Englishmen to fight
for Democracy in
Before I bent my attention to his
argument I had a moment with old ghosts. For I was on ground
once soaked with the blood of Englishmen who had died, by axe, or rope, or
fire, for conscience' sake, for freedom of faith, or for their own intolerant
fanaticism. Over there in the
Two City policemen, big beefy men, stood with their backs to a wall watching the crowd and the speakers but not listening. They were there in case of a row. They were not there to check the flow of eloquence, however fiery or foolish. They were chatting together about professional incidents, one of which seemed humorous and caused a laugh to pass between them.
The crowd was made up mostly of city men, office boys, packers, porters, warehousemen, and such like. Where I stood on the edge of one group a sturdy middle-aged man, with a scarf instead of a collar round his neck, was eating monkey nuts industriously, and round him was a litter of empty shells. An old woman in the centre of the Hill was serving at a little chocolate stall and did good custom among spectacled office boys who had come here in their luncheon hour for an intellectual feast while they munched a few biscuits and sucked those sticks of chocolate.
The young man who had attracted the biggest audience was a tall, thin, muscular fellow with an Irish-looking face, gaunt and hollow eyed, with a shock of dark hair through which almost every minute he thrust both his hands with outspread fingers, as though to let his thoughts escape more freely from his hot head. He had a good voice which came from his stomach, as it should, instead of from his throat. His words rang across Tower Hill.
It seemed to me curious that a Communist,
as I guessed him to be—certainly an orator of the United Front—should show such
zeal for the British Empire, which in the past they have so often denounced for
its "brutal Imperialism." But his hatred of Fascism was so intense
that he was willing to appeal even to the imperialists to defend the
anarchists, syndicalists and Marxists in
His voice rang out over the heads of the crowd.
"We boast of our liberty, but is it
not an outrage against liberty that
"What about shooting civil prisoners
For a moment the orator high above his audience listened to this heckler in the crowd. He laughed scornfully.
"This gentleman talks about the
shooting of prisoners in
"You're a liar," said a man in the crowd.
There was a slight dispute on this point. It took the form of a heated conversation in the crowd itself.
"He's a liar," said one of them. "He isn't a liar," said others. The orator thrust all his fingers through his dark hair and took a breather.
"This Spanish Civil War," he
continued after that respite, "seems remote from
He spoke well and interested this audience of city men, porters, packers, warehousemen, and casual labourers.
I joined another group gathered round another orator. Several office boys were listening to him with giggles and goggle eyes. The man who was eating monkey nuts was among his audience, standing among the shells. Squarely in front of him stood a well-dressed man who looked like a city clerk from one of the outer suburbs, and he interrupted the speaker from time to time in a polite and argumentative tone.
At first I could not quite make out the drift of this speaker's thesis. He was a Highland Scot, I should say, judging from his way of speech, and he had a lean face, with dark eyes and heavy eyebrows.
"What about the love of a woman for a man?" he was saying as I drew near. "Oh, very romantic! And I don't deny that there is such a thing. A woman will love a man—a man will love a woman—certainly. It's human nature. It has happened in history. It happens now. Married or unmarried, it makes no difference to love or loyalty. But when they get married what happens? The wife says, 'I want another shilling out of your wages.' The man says, 'I can't afford it, old girl.' She says, 'You've got to afford it.' That's when love flies out of the window. Why do women marry? For security and a man's wages. This marriage business is the cause of man's unhappiness and woman's."
"But your theory of companionate marriage," said the man in the crowd, "what happens to it in the case of a child coming?" I caught the drift of it now. That lean cadaverous fellow was an advocate for free love.
"In any case," he said, "there wouldn't be a child. I wouldn't take the risk of bringing a child into the world in its present state—with a war coming along pretty damn quick, and Capitalism arranging another Massacre of the Innocents. No sir! there would be no offspring of a six months trial. I say six months. In that time a man ought to know whether the woman suits him for keeps."
"But, Mr Speaker," said the man in the crowd earnestly, "accidents will happen, you know, in spite of your theory about rigid birth control."
"Wise people know how to deal with accidents," said the speaker. "I'll say no more about that! My point is——"
"But, Mr Speaker," said the city clerk—as I took him to be, "if everybody acted on your theory there would be no population at all. If nobody had children——"
"Well, I haven't made as many converts as all that!" answered the dark-eyed man, twisting his lean jaws to a frightful smile. "There will always be mugs. In any case . . ."
He had a grudge against Capitalism. He seemed to think that the support of family life was one of the forms of "dope" handed out by Capitalists to the starving proletariat to keep them enslaved.
"Family life!" he exclaimed scornfully. "Now, I ask you to remember your own family life. Was it a heavenly state, or was it damned disagreeable—a hell on earth—with family squabbles and family rows, and family tyrannies? What about the time when Ma is in one of her tantrums? What about those days when Pa laid down the law about staying out late or bringing home one's lassie? Family life? My God!"
One of the office boys sucking a stick of chocolate thought this extremely funny and giggled. He was enjoying his lunch hour prodigiously. But I wondered if it were quite good for this lad listen to a discussion on birth control by a man who was trying to undermine family life on the Russian model. But there is free speech on Tower Hill.
I turned my steps towards another group. They were being addressed by a middle-aged man who belonged to some anti-Socialist league. He was in the middle of a quarrel with four or five men very close below him. Their heckling had made him angry.
"I demand free speech!" he shouted. "If you men come here you ought to give me a decent hearing. I'm trying to tell the truth. If you don't want to hear it others do."
"It isn't the truth!" said one man below him. "You're a dirty liar."
"And you're a supercilious fool," retorted the speaker. "You have no manners. I don't object to a reasonable amount of heckling but I won't stand for coarse abuse."
"You began the abuse," said the man below him. "You called me a cad. Now you call me a fool. You ought not to be here. You're just the paid agent of maiden ladies who are frightened of democracy. It makes me sick to listen to you."
"Gentlemen!" said the speaker,
ignoring these last remarks and addressing the general audience, "on this
Tower Hill there is the tradition of free speech on all sides. It is a
valuable heritage. You see that it is denied to me and obstructed by those
who mouth the word 'liberty' and under that name try to spread
the poisonous doctrine of Lenin and his Russian colleagues.
The recent trials in
The Communist Party of
Is there any real danger in this Red stuff which is being given as food to babes by Mr Harry Pollitt—that mild-mannered man who appeared before the Royal Commission on Arms—and his fellow members of the Communist party of Great Britain? Their own membership is something over eleven thousand, which isn't much in a population of forty-nine million. But they and other Red bodies do a considerable amount of quiet propaganda, in factories and arsenals and dockyards and barracks. It is partly paid for by subsidies from the Russian members of the Third International, called the Comintern. According to the Communist party's own reports in a leaflet quoted by the Anti-Socialist and Anti-Communist Union, it received in the first two years of its existence from outside sources £61,500, and from internal subscriptions £699. From the same source I quote another extract.
Mr Fenner Brockway, secretary of the Independent Labour party—one of the bodies which has recently agreed to form a United Front with the Communists—wrote to the New Leader as follows:
The payment of subsidies to national Communist parties by the Commintern makes them the obedient instruments of the Russian Communist Party, which contributes predominately to the Comintern Funds. Take the position of the British Communist Party. Probably 70 per cent of its membership is unemployed. Yet the Party runs a daily newspaper and an elaborate monthly review, has a large staff of paid organisers, and conducts a planetary system of subsidiary organisations. Its subsidy from the Comintern must run into tens of thousands a year.
Vast numbers of the little leaflets distributed at factory and dockyard gates, in the distressed areas, and wherever trouble may be stirred up against the existing order of things, must be a waste of paper, ink and Russian gold.
The British workingman, employed or
unemployed, is very conservative in his allegiance to law, order and tradition.
He hates the idea of Red Revolution, which he knows would make an awful mess.
In his inarticulate way he is intensely patriotic and won't stand for any
"monkey stuff" about the King, or the Army, or the Empire. When the
unemployed of Jarrow built a sports pavilion with
funds provided by Sir John Jarvis and his friends they asked for a large Union
Jack to wave from its flag-staff. Communist visitors in the distressed areas
get short shrift from men standing unemployed round disused pit heads. I marvel
why they are not more rebellious. Is it lack of spirit, or lack of
intelligence? I am inclined to think it is a shrewd common sense and that humour which makes them laugh when a paid agitator screams
wild words from a soap box. "'Ere, come off it!" they say. "Go 'ome and wash behind your ears." They are not tempted
to use their sticks of furniture—paid for on the hire system—as barricades.
They don't thirst for rivers of blood. They trudge off to the Labour Exchange to get their dole and hope that things will
take a turn for the better. They have turned a good deal lately and there are
more wages to spend. There is even money to save, judging from the latest
figures of the savings banks, which are astonishing. Our craftsmen and
mechanics and factory hands are getting higher wages than in any country in
The Young Communist League is recruiting boys and girls in the slum districts, where Simon Tappertit may still be found. "Up, and up, and up!" writes the enthusiastic editor of Challenge. "Forty-five recruits this week; by the end of January we shall have made at least zoo new members, in the first month of the year. Actually this is not so very good. I mention it be-
cause 100 of our best comrades are out there—in
These boys of the Young Communist League
are being stuffed with all the old slogans of Red Russia used by the
revolutionary leaders who are now mostly dead by orders of their comrade
Stalin. Capitalism must be destroyed. Religion is the opium of the people. The
workers must seize the means of production. The international class war must
overthrow the tyrannies of imperialistic nations. World revolution is the way
to world peace. Now they have new enemies, worse even than vested interests or
the demon of Capitalism. They are Fascism and Nazidom.
Hitler, Mussolini, and, in his little way, Sir Oswald Mosley—are recruiting
agents for the Communist party of Great Britain, especially perhaps among the
Jewish population, who have their own cause of hatred. Sir Stafford Cripps,
learned in the law, knighted by the King, and Mr
Maxton, of the Independent Labour party, have many
strange types among their followers—overgrown office boys who listen to those
orators on Tower Hill; undernourished students who economise
over lunch and wander up the Charing Cross Road to
read a flaming page or two in the Red bookshops; dreamers of utopias where all
will be rich and all will be happy; hollow-eyed shabby men with glib tongues
and shifty eyes who get paid by agents of the Third International; young
Irishmen who remember Tom Paine and "The Rights of Man"; Jewish
tailors who brood over the long story of persecution and pogroms; and youth
with revolt in its mind or the inferiority complex which seeks revenge by way
of Terror. There is also Professor Haldane. It's all
very interesting, but not, I think, alarming as a threat in this year of grace.
But if another world war comes even
But the red dream is still dreamed by those who believe in fairy tales. It gets into the minds of young fellows over here, not only in St John's College, Oxford, and some of the students at the London School of Economics, but down by the London Docks in Bermondsey and Poplar, in Hoxton and Houndsditch. One hears its gospel preached on Tower Hill.
The Sowers of Dragons' Teeth
1 The Fatal Past
IS IT ANY GOOD looking into past history—not long past—and retracing the fatal steps which, one by one, were trodden by our leaders as though they were blindfolded or sleepwalkers on the edge of a precipice?
Our present leaders, who, in most cases,
are our old leaders, resent any inquisition into events further back than
yesterday. They say: "Let the dead past bury its dead. We have to act
today. We ask you gentlemen of the House of Commons, and men and women of
Shall we let them get away with it quite as easily as that? Isn't it necessary to look back a moment or two to find out how it is that all the world is arming with feverish and frantic haste, and that we are going to spend upon the instruments of war that vast sum of money which, if it had been raised for social purposes—for the nation's well-being, health and beauty—would have been a great advance in civilisation?
One could go back profitably for one's mind as far as the Treaty of Versailles and those penalising clauses which were designed to keep a great and dynamic people in bondage to their enemies. There was no generosity of spirit which might have lifted humanity out of the ruins of that time and created a comradeship and co-operation between those who had fought each other.
We missed that chance.
We could—and perhaps should—re-examine ourselves and indict our leaders—and those of France—for demanding from a defeated nation unspecified tribute called reparations, rising to astronomical figures which we knew, or should have known, could not be paid even by the richest nation on earth, which at that time was the United States, and never could be paid by Germany, exhausted and ruined after the war.
We might do well to remind ourselves that out of the misery, humiliation and despair into which Germany was thrust by these claims to reparations and the French invasion of the Ruhr—we had no share in that—Hitler arose. As I wrote years ago, Poincare was the father of Hitler. Our Foreign Office was the birthplace of General Goering.
But all that is rather boring. It is always rather boring to look back at missed chances and wanderings down the wrong roads.
Let us look at more recent history.
There was a Disarmament Conference in
It was not done.
Year after year those dreary and false
debates went on, about quantities and qualities, and every kind of technical
argument designed to waste time and prevent progress. That play actor Paul Boncour was a past master at this game. And our own
It was our representative, Lord Londonderry, who demanded reservations regarding aerial bombing when there seemed some chance of agreement to prohibit that form of destruction. He has denied this, but his words stand on the record.
It was our representative, Sir John Simon, who, when the Germans were still in the League of Nations and pressing for equality of arms on any low level which might be agreed upon—an equality promised to them before the whole world—stood up and, with a glance at the French delegates, announced that the new regime in Germany under Adolf Hitler had so altered the situation that he proposed another period of probation for Germany—he suggested eight years—before they would be allowed to have this equality in arms.
The German representatives saw that all
this was play acting, without sincerity, and without any intention of granting
actual equality in armed strength to the German nation.
We had missed another chance—the supreme chance at that time—of delivering the European peoples from their overwhelming burden of armaments and securing German co-operation in a system of law and collective security which would have given some reasonable chance of peace to Europe.
2 Hitler 0ffers Peace
When Hitler became chancellor and Führer of the German Reich he spoke more as a statesman and less as a barnstormer. He seemed to forget certain passages in his book Mein Kampf, though that was a best seller. He made before the German people and the world several offers of peace, in words which were unequivocal, emotional and idealistic. He was called a liar in the world Press.
Hitler offered to make a Western Pact
Hitler offered to limit the German army
to three hundred thousand men.
It was one of Hitler's
"surprises" which shocked the world and created more fear in
But when steel-helmeted soldiers with
guns and transport were riding through
It was as follows:
1. The German Government
declare themselves prepared to negotiate with
2. In order to restore
the inviolability and integrity of the frontiers of the West, the German
Government propose the conclusion of a non-aggression
3. The German Government
desire to invite
4. The German Government
are willing to include the Government of the
5. For the further strengthening of these security arrangements between the Western Powers the German Government are prepared to conclude an Air Pact, which shall be designed, automatically and effectively, to prevent the danger of sudden attack from the air.
6. The German Government
repeat their offer to conclude with States bordering
7. With the achievement
at last of
These proposals were of vast importance
to the peace of
There is no word of
The hostile critics of
But is it impossible for us, or France,
to understand the motives and the limit of
To the man in the street and the
third-class railway carriage in
I stood there listening at the open door of the room in which the council of the League sat at a horseshoe table. Behind me was a long corridor hung with tapestries. The eighth Henry had given his fat hand to Anne Boleyn, his "truly beloved", as oft he wrote to her, and led her down this passage to his banqueting room. The initials of that royal pair are carved on the stone fireplace, not chipped off when Anne Boleyn's head fell on the block and another lady took her place in the Court of St James's. Long afterwards the second Charles, with his haggard face and dark eyes, had walked up this corridor and stood laughing with his pretty ladies at the door against which I leaned. The ghosts of English history crowded round me and I was more aware of them for a minute or two than I was of the Americans, Italians, Germans, Frenchmen, who stood close trying to get a glimpse into that room with the horseshoe table where the delegates of many nations sat in judgment.
They condemned the action of Herr Hitler
in repudiating a treaty, freely signed by unilateral action. The Belgian
minister spoke with deep emotion, as though the Belgian people were again
threatened with invasion because German troops were on their frontier. Each
speaker spoke solemnly and sternly of this violation of international law. Herr
von Ribbentrop's defence
was ignored and dismissed. It was a painful time for
The verdict was inescapable. The German government had broken the Treaty of Versailles in repudiating a clause without discussion. It was—standing alone—another breakdown of international law and another step to European anarchy.
There was no mention of Hitler's peace
offer nor of his hope of rebuilding the structure of
law now that he had regained the sovereign rights of
Mr Anthony Eden, acting with French advice—French
politicians were hot with passion—addressed a questionnaire to
On January 30 of this year—four years
after his appointment as chancellor of
In the course of his speech he announced that the government would take over the control of the German railways and the Reichsbank as the final freeing of the state from the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
"The Versailles Treaty is at an end," he declared. "It took equality from our people and degraded us to an inferior status. German honour has been restored."
Then he made a promise which, if believed—and it was not believed—would relieve the fear of his neighbours and remove the dark shadow which lies heavy over Europe.
"With the achievement of equality
the time of so-called 'surprises' is at an end. As a nation possessing equal
Was he lying when he said that? I for one do not think so.
He declared that it was quite out of the
question to think of a conflict with
Was he lying? I do not believe that.
"I have already tried to bring about a good understanding in Europe," he said, "and I have, especially, to the British people and its government, given assurances of how ardently we wish a sincere and hearty co-operation with them."
Was that a lie? If so, he must be worse than Ananias. But I am convinced that he spoke with sincerity.
Certainly he denounced Communism and
deplored the fact that Mr Eden, the foreign secretary
"For us," he said, "it's a plague against which we had to defend ourselves in a bloody struggle. Bolshevist doctrine in one of world revolution and economic destruction."
In the past that was so—who can deny
That speech seemed benevolent in
intention and in promise. Why not believe it? Why not put it to the test? Why
not make use of German desire for our friendship, which not only Hitler
proclaims but which is acknowledged by every traveller
Yet on the very evening of that speech, our B.B.C. was very quick to give a comment dictated, surely, by some member of the government or the Foreign Office. It was critical, contemptuous and hostile in tone. The French Press ignored the assurance that Hitler would respect the sacred inviolability of their soil. They wrote as though he had insulted them. Their comments were quoted by the B.B.C.
Another chance of peace was lost.
"A new war would have catastrophic consequences for all
THE LABOUR CORPS
nations. Any disturbance of peace at home would endanger
"The German people no longer entertain the slightest ill feeling over the war. Nothing remains but great respect for our former opponents."
Is it wise to go on disbelieving the
words of Hitler when, by believing them, we might get
What was the consequence of abandoning
It was the announcement on February 16, by the issue of a white paper, that the British government would spend £1,500,000,000 in the next five years on rearmament.
I moved about
"Who is the enemy? Who is going to attack us?"
"Someone has gone mad," said a young man over the luncheon table.
"It's a gesture against Hitler," said an elderly man—a famous writer—who used to be a Radical in his ardent youth and even in his mature middle age.
"Of course it's all the fault of the
pacifists," said another writing man who has jumped to fame as a novelist.
"We ought to have kept up our strength and kept
I thought of that old story of the man who sowed dragons' teeth which afterwards sprang up as armed men. Our leaders were busy sowing dragons' teeth as soon as the bugles sounded "Cease Fire!" to a world war.
3 German Visitors
On the evening of the day when the government was speaking darkly of danger which forced upon them the painful duty of spending fifteen hundred million pounds on armaments—Germany was on their minds though not on their lips—a number of English men and women, not without distinction, sat down at dinner in a London restaurant with a number of German men and women who were visitors or residents in England.
Being in this company, I tried to distinguish the Germans from the English by the look of them. It wasn't possible, I found. We are very much like each other as blood relations, to some extent, far back in history. I made my bow to the Countess von der Goltz and exchanged laughter with a merry lady named Frau von Dewall whose eyes are always laughing.
"Strange!" I thought.
"Here we are quite friendly with each other. None of these Germans want to
go to war with
One of the Germans gave a little explanation of it as far as his country was concerned.
"We're a continental people,"
he said, "with a frontier which needs a certain defence
in an uncertain world. Our rearmament has no aggressive intentions. It's to
preserve our independence. After all, we have some rather powerful neighbours. Take
Another German told us about the way in
which the Hitler regime had dealt with unemployment. Previous to 1933, when
Hitler had come into power, there were seven and a half million unemployed. To
provide them with the dole cost £750,000,000 a year. (I think his arithmetic
must have gone astray here.) Previous governments which changed their Cabinets
every six months had utterly failed to solve this human problem. They had
borrowed foreign money at high rates of interest and spent it on unproductive
works. Massed populations in industrial areas had sunk deeper into misery and worklessness. They were seething with Communism and revolt.
The student classes were equally hopeless and workless when they were ready for
business life. There were no jobs for them.
Hitler and his Nazis had changed all that.
They had put six and a half million men back into productive work—a small
percentage only, said the German visitor, in armament factories. They had made
great roads which had increased the value of the adjoining land upon which semiagricultural settlements had been built. They had
drained marshes; and done good work in forestry; and created many new
industries, not centred round the old industrial
areas but distributed throughout the country. Each man who had gone back to
work had created work and wages for three other men, by increased demand for
food, boots, clothes and all necessities of life. The national loans for this
productive labour had already been profitable,
All that sounded to me very much like a scheme once put forward by Lloyd George and turned down contemptuously by the national government, as being fantastic in its conception and cost—though looking back on it it would have cost less than this present scheme of rearmament which will have nothing to show for itself in the end but masses of guns, shells, bombs and other unpleasant-looking things unproductive of anything but death, if ever used.
At the head of the table was an
Englishman by name of
He had a great admiration, it seemed, for the German Labour camps at which every young German spends six months learning an outdoor life, the use of the earth, and the value of God's trees, and other things worth knowing. They were taught a pride in labour. Young fellows from one district of Germany were shifted to camps far away in other districts so that they learned to know their country and fellow countrymen.
"I would to God," said this Englishman, "that we in this country had some system of training in outdoor life and labour, and some such spirit of teamwork for the state."
I confess my own mind thought of the gangs of young derelicts who get free food on the Embankment each night, and of young idlers on the dole who have no work to do and get demoralised.
A young woman, very easy on the eye, as the Americans say, by name of Peggy Boyle, sprang to her feet and praised the German interest in eugenics. They were doing wonderful work, she said, eliminating disease, and the mating of the unfit, and the type of mental degeneracy which filled our homes and asylums.
A young man next to me passed a remark.
"It's very difficult to get at the
truth of things, isn't it? Is
"There's no sign of food shortage," I told him on good authority and my own observations. "German youth seems to me quite well nourished."
It was all very interesting. But the chief interest to me was this gathering of the Anglo-British fellowship in frank and friendly conversation on the very day when our country was being burdened with an enormous debt for munitions of war to protect ourselves against the German bogey, which affrights the mind of our statesmen, and gentlemen of the Labour party, and many others.
As the young man said on my left:
"It's very difficult to get at the truth of things, isn't it?"
1 The German Riddle
IS IT ANY USE pretending that
There was no pretence about that from the Left wing of Labour.
regarded Naziism," said Sir Stafford Cripps,
that grim advocate of the class war, "with all that it implied in
aggressiveness, brutality, and the suppression of freedom, as Public Enemy
Number One in the world today. They had no quarrel with the peoples of
Winston Churchill had made the flesh of
his readers and listeners creep by the figures he produced out of his hat
So did friends of mine for whose intelligence I have enormous respect. Idealists like Julian Huxley, with whom I talked about this in a country lane, were shocked that I should seem to forget—though I didn't forget—the persecution of Jews, the bully spirit of the Nazi creed, the brutalities of the concentration camps. When I expressed my belief in Hitler's sincerity in his words of peace, and in the ardent wish of the whole German people to establish friendship with us, these friends shook their heads.
"How can we be friends with a nation," asked Julian Huxley, "which denies free speech, suppresses all liberty of thought and culture, and behaves with such mean cruelty to their Jews and pacifists?"
"How can we be friends with
people," asked an American friend of mine—he is the
These arguments are difficult to dispute,
especially by people who believe, as I do, in free speech and tolerance of
thought, and who hate cruelty and brutality. But what causes me a certain doubt
now and then in the sincerity, or the logic, of those who hate the Nazis is
their admiration, or tolerance, of Russian Communism and its leaders. Where is
the logic which makes them believe there is more
liberty and less cruelty in
Are the German people hunted, miserable,
oppressed and terrorised? A visit to any part of
But among the German people as a whole it
is ludicrously untrue to say that they are oppressed or terrorised.
The younger generation, passionately devoted to sport and the outdoor life,
with marvellous opportunities in both those forms of
pleasure, are remarkably cheerful. They go about singing in crowds and laughing
in crowds. They are healthy and bright eyed and very pleased with themselves.
There seems to me more happiness in
We do not like many things about the Nazi regime. Perhaps there are many things which they don't like about, let us say, French corruption or British self-complacency. But it is impossible to say truly that Hitler rules his people by terror. Most of them adore him. He has given them work and wages, self-pride again, unity, a sense of hopefulness in the future, and a belief in the spirit of duty and service. Those are not negligible gifts, though political liberty is not among them, and though the propaganda of Herr Goebbels is very, very boring to all intelligent Germans, of whom there are many.
It seems to me foolish—senseless, indeed—that the hatred of our Left wing for Fascism and Naziism is so intense that they are ready, and almost eager, to wage war against it in the name of "Collective Security", or for the defence of "Democracy", including Anarchy, Syndicalism, Communism and Sadism.
Is it not because of this hatred of Hitler and his colleagues that the Labour party supported our government's programme of colossal rearmament?
I can hardly think otherwise. For I see
creeping even into
But there is something more important than
our dislike of Fascism in
That German bogey—is it so frightful in its menace of war that we should burden ourselves with a terrible incubus of debt and munitions and go forth to slay it?
A few weeks before writing these words I
talked with a German Jew who took tea with me in my club. Being a Jew and an
intellectual, he has no love for the Nazis. He complained that life in
"Culture," he says, "has
He cannot talk freely or discuss philosophical ideas. He has no sense of security. At any moment he may find himself forced out of business. From such a man—a German Jew—one does not hear views favourable to the Nazi regime.
"Do you think
"No," he answered. "Those
people want to impress the world, but they don't want to fight it. All this
marching and drilling in
I thought that was interesting and important from a German Jew of high intellectual distinction.
2 Who Wants War?
At a luncheon party I met a tall,
handsome, charmingly mannered man, who was Baron Marschall
von Bieberstein. He regretted something I had written
"Your last chapter," he said,
"was on the wrong note, if I may say so! I wish you had written it in a
more optimistic tone. For instance, it would have been good if you could have
ended with the description of a scene which I saw recently in
He spoke with emotion and, I am certain, with utter sincerity.
We tend to believe over here in England
that the whole of the German people are in a mental slavery under the Nazi
regime; and that the ideas of Aryanism and Paganism, and the denial of
intellectuality and reason, and the exaltation of brute force and instinct,
preached by some of the extreme men like Streicher
and Von Schirach, penetrate the German mind and make
them incapable of thought or reason. That is not one's impression in
The students in all the universities—80 per cent of them I am told—are critical of the Brown Shirt leaders, whom they regard as Jacks-in-office, working for self-interest.
There is one man I know who has a very close and continuous knowledge of German life in all its aspects and classes. He belongs to the Society of Friends and for fifteen years or so has been working quietly among the Germans, in Berlin and other parts of Germany, speaking on behalf of political prisoners, befriending the poor, using his influence for peace wherever possible. Now and again he has got into trouble.
The Black Shirt police have arrested him and accused him of being a Communist. On his denial of this they have made another accusation.
"At least you must confess that you are a pacifist!"
"I am a lover of peace," he had answered. "That is my creed as a Quaker."
That seemed to startle them.
"Well," said their spokesman, "we are all that, of course! We are all lovers of peace. But not pacifists! Everybody must be ready to defend his own country. Otherwise he is a coward or a traitor."
They shook hands with him very politely and let him go.
"How do you size it all up?" I asked after an interesting conversation. "Is there any truth in this German bogey which frightens so many peoples?"
"Not even with
"They don't want to attack
He spoke for some time of what Hitler had
done for the economic life of
"A great deal has actually been done for the unemployed, and there's something very fine in the abolition of class consciousness in the Labour camps. The young people have been inspired to believe in the dignity of work, and in the nobility of service, however humble it may be. The craftsman and the peasant have an equality of pride with the 'white-collar man.'
"Is there any criticism of the regime?"
My Quaker friend laughed.
"Plenty! Many of the younger men want less Nationalism and more Socialism. But there is no criticism of Hitler, whose sincerity and will for the well-being of the German people are unquestioned by them."
"What about their feelings towards
"There's a general admiration of
"Sometimes they make it difficult!" I said. "This Jew-baiting puts people's backs up here more than anything. If only they would drop that!"
"Talking about war again," said
my friend the Quaker, "I feel convinced I'm right—though not perhaps 100
per cent!—when I say that
Words of peace are spoken by Germans who cannot be accused of throwing dust into the eyes of the world for sinister and dreadful purposes.
In the State Opera House of Berlin, on February 22 of this year, at a great demonstration in honour of the old German army, Field Marshal von Blomberg, war minister of the new Nazi Germany, spoke under faded war flags carried by regiments in the World War, against a background formed by a monstrous iron cross which commemorated the valour of two million German dead.
"Forget hate!" said General Blomberg. "Show that you are worthy of these sacrifices. Do all in your power to prevent war happening again. Thus do we interpret the call which comes to us from those graves of the World War."
Words like that come from
It is acknowledged by all our travellers to
Judging from the French Press, one would
not imagine that there could be one Frenchman willing to believe in
"From the time of our first
welcome—with touching cordiality, at the
"'We soldiers of the war generation
have always felt a profound admiration for the French. We will not allow
certain people to push us once more into a catastrophe of which we should again
be victims. What could be the advantage of such a killing? We have understood
that not hatred, but mutual esteem, was the honour of
the soldiers of the trenches. French comrades, please say that on this side of
"Some of our Great Patriots call
this childishness, comedy, good enough for fools. . .
. Well, I don't. I am firmly convinced that if these people are right these
demonstrations could only take place by a monstrous collective hypocrisy. These
German people seemed to me sincere, retaining, like us, a horror of the war
they had been through. In our journeys of hundreds of kilometres,
making contacts with German people in town and country, with intellectuals,
workmen, and peasants, my comrades and I gained the impression that
These friendly greetings between
ex-enemies are, alas, no guarantee of peace, because the common folk are at the
mercy of rulers who play a game of jigsaw puzzle in the diplomatic world, and
the people have no control over their own destiny. Their
opinions and feeling fail to find expression in a sinister Press, which is
utterly insincere, and deliberate in its policy of inflaming hatred and
passion. How can the peoples of
3 A German View of War
It is enormously important to us, and all other peoples, that we should get a real understanding of the Germ -n mind, at its best and at its worst, in its attitude towards war and peace. Many are afraid that words spoken in favour of peace by Hitler or his lieutenants may be for propaganda purposes, or for the hiding of sinister ambitions. It is therefore extraordinarily interesting to read something, which no one could suggest was written for outside propaganda, revealing the inmost convictions of the inner circle of Nazi chiefs. Such a revelation appeared, on January 14 of this year 1937, in a paper called Das Schwarze Corps (the Black Corps). It is the organ of the S. S. or Schutzstaffel (Defence Staff), who are the Black Shirts under Himmler, the personal guards of Adolf Hitler, and the quintessence of the party organisation. The title of the article is "Our Opinion about War."
In this screed one may find the clearest
statement of the National Socialist philosophy about war, written without
camouflage for party consumption; and it contains at the beginning phrases and
ideas which might be quoted to prove that
"For eternal peace," it begins, "perfect harmony is needed in the heart of the individual. That is Utopian. Human hearts will remain restless. This restlessness of the individual will affect whole peoples. There will be further wars."
The nobler aspects of war are enumerated: comradeship, grandeur of contact with danger and death, courage.
Then there is reference to the cheap illusions about war in the younger mind: playing with danger, the highwayman touch, the liberation of animal and half-animal instincts, in short, all that used to be described by the expression "Frisch—fröhlicher Krieg (the merry game of war)."
"Any soldier who went through the last war," says the writer in the Das Schwarze Corps, "will tell you that there is no more unholy expression than that. We all want to raise the cultural level of the world. As it is raised, the inclination to war is reduced. This is not decadence, for soldierly virtues can also be developed in times when there is no war. There will always be struggle in the world; but it need not be a struggle of men against men. There is enough without that to claim the devotion of unnumbered hosts of the finest men. The attempt to abolish war may be ascribed to the fact that with increasing culture men attain gradually to harmony, without, however, being able to reach it completely in measurable time.
"If you ask any old soldier" (this article continues), "he will tell you: No. I do not love war. The soldier does not love war, though he does his duty, and will always do it, should it come. The soldier loves life, perhaps even more than all those who have never seen, or suffered from, war themselves. All of us—Germans, French, English, Italians, and whoever else took part in the war—are still too much under its shattering spell to take the thought of it lightly—an attitude that has often been the cause of so much evil in the past.
"We Germans have, thank God, struggled through to our own standpoint; one that would have seemed almost dishonourable before the war: not to praise war as the most beautiful thing in the world. We shall never take part in war out of the desire for war. The soldier does not love war . . . And he will not infect, or educate, the younger generation, who have not yet seen it, with love for war.
"That he has often promised himself and others. Those tens of thousands of soldiers—English, French and German—also promised this, as recently they did at Douaumont, when they swore to work for peace."
The writer reverts to the thought that war may be enforced by Fate and that, if this Fate commanded again, the soldier would again do his duty.
"Yet the soldier will try to keep peace. He will continue to say: 'Peace above all!' though he recognises the justification of that old phrase, Si vis pacem, para bellum. For the rest, let us hope, and desire, and work, that harmony in the individual heart throughout the whole world may grow to the end that, at last, the world may obtain eternal peace.
"Does the soldier love war? All, all of us soldiers of the nations, do not love it."
That article might have been written by General Sir Ian Hamilton, who knows war and loves peace. It might have been written by General Smuts, who hates war and loves peace. It appeared in the organ of the S. S.—who are Hitler's bodyguards, and Himmler's Black Shirts! It seems to me remarkable. No word of it reached any French or English newspaper.
4 The German Claim to Colonies
The chance of good relationship between
In The Times and other papers there has been a considerable amount of correspondence on this subject, and many leaders of opinion in this country, like Lord Noel Buxton, Lord David Cecil, and Lord Allen of Hurtwood, have expressed sympathy with the German claims on the score of justice, good will and appeasement, as well as for economic reasons, giving Germany access to raw materials. On the other hand, many writers have criticised and challenged the reasons given by Germans themselves for the return of their old colonial possessions.
The argument of Dr Schacht, the German
minister of economy, and president of the Reichsbank,
is that colonies are indispensable to
This argument is countered by the
criticism that only a small part of the world's raw materials are produced by
colonial territories. Most of them come from
It is argued by Germans that the greater
part of trade in mandated territories goes to the mandatory power. But, as a
matter of fact, it does not work out like that, and a very considerable part of
the trade of the former German colonies is still with
Germany's popular cry that she needs these colonies for the surplus population is made rather ridiculous by the small numbers—twenty thousand or so—who settled in these lands previous to the war.
The difficulties of handing back the
Once again the errors of the past come up
like ghosts to en-danger the present. I agree personally with the German argument
that the seizure of these colonies after the war was a violation of President
Wilson's Fourteen Points, upon which
It is necessary, surely, to find some way
out of this trouble, which is psychological in
We cannot hope to keep that Empire from challenge and attack if we shut its gates to crowded nations, deprived of easy access to raw material and forbidden to settle in these empty spaces. Unless we adopt the policy of the open door it will be forced open.
Our own government, by its spokesman Sir Samuel Hoare, first raised the hope of a better distribution of raw materials and a freer access to their sources. The most intelligent minds in this country who are looking at world problems without party bias, or political fanaticism, are agreed that much of the tension underlying the general expansion of armaments, and the drift towards war, has its foundations in economic and industrial conditions, and especially in the breakdown of trading relations between the peoples of the world.
"We believe," said the signatories of an appeal to our government on behalf of the open-door policy, "that measures of reconstruction altogether new in scope and magnitude—aiming at the solution of economic problems—offer the best, if not the sole remaining, hope of escape from the gathering threat of war."
They urged upon the government the need
of doing all in its power to hasten investigation under the
This appeal, supported by the most
distinguished list of representative minds in
It urged a return to a policy of the open door for trade in all dependent territories under British control, and a revision of the mandate system which would replace a purely nationalist control of such areas.
German threats over her colonial claims
will be heard coldly by public opinion in this country. They will harden
resistance to any concession, even if based upon justice or fair play. But if
Germany were to return to the League in support of European peace and a general
limitation of arms, I have no doubt at all that some revision of the mandates
for colonial territories could be made, to the advantage of Germany, and this
country, and the Dominions if the British Commonwealth would be in favour of the friendliest possible arrangement, ensuring to
Germany great opportunities for her trade and industry and open gates for
German settlers. Whether it will be possible to restore German sovereign rights
But is it worth a world war, or bloody
strife between us and
5 The Way of Understanding
According to information I get from
people who know
They complain bitterly of being
"misunderstood", especially by
There is still time to establish friendly
Let us make a pact of peace and
understanding with the German people who—strange as it may seem—like us and
want our comradeship. They offer it also to