Extract from Ordeal in England by Philip Gibbs (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1937).
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 Germany, especially in the air. The government had not exactly proclaimed a cheery confidence in peace when they launched a tremendous plan for the expansion of our own armaments, by land, sea and air, and in February of this year announced their decision to raise a loan of £400,000,000 to cover expenses estimated at £1,500,000,000 for armaments during the next five years.

Up in Sheffield—I was told—the workers in munition factories were convinced in January last that war was not far off. Otherwise, they asked, why all this hurry?

"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 Europe if they have a chance of getting out in time before war comes along?"

"Where would they go to find a sanctuary?" I answered by another question.

"What about Rio? That might be a good spot, fairly aloof from trouble?"

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 Europe, and into millions of minds looking out on life, that shadow lay behind sunlight and the hope of youth.

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 London, might adopt a number of school children in the great city and bring them down to a holiday camp once a year. They would be given a good time, but the purpose of it would be to organise a plan of evacuation from London in case of aerial bombardment.

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 London sophistication.

"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 London. Imagine what would happen in an aerial bombardment frightful enough to create panic. The railways would be used for troops and transport. The roads would be choked. Its horror is unimaginable."

"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 League of Nations over Abyssinia and the abandonment of the Disarmament Conference which disconcerted the peace lovers and left them rather hopeless, and turned some of them into militarists.

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 Italy. Fifty-eight nations agreed to impose them by cutting off Italy from all economic aid, with the screw gradually tightening until the stranglehold would be complete.

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 Libya and money to stir up trouble in Egypt and Palestine, the British Lion suddenly sat up and roared. The British fleet steamed into the Mediterranean. It was a great surprise to the world. Many nations had regarded the British Lion as a mangy old beast who had turned pacifist. When it roared and banged its tail angrily it made the world jump. It made Mussolini angry. It seemed to him a very unfriendly act.

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 Italy, our old friend and ally. Soothing words sent to him by Sir Samuel Hoare prevented that tragedy. In any case, Mussolini held a trump card which made war unnecessary so long as the Suez Canal was open to him. This Collective Security urged by Anthony Eden on behalf of the League had broken down before it was tried out. The prime minister of France, M. Laval—that smiling man—had established a very close understanding with Italy. He had made a secret agreement with Mr Mussolini to turn a blind eye on any adventure in Abyssinia. To please Great Britain he was willing, and obliged, to support the sanctions up to a point, but not as far as oil, not as far as moving a ship or a gun against the Italian expedition.

Collective Security had a wide-open gap. Only military and naval force—that is, war—could stop the Italian army on its voyage to Abyssinia. No nation was willing to go as far as that, not even as far as stopping oil supplies while France under Laval was resolute against it. Any armed action would have to be done by the British navy. That would not be Collective Security. It would be a straight fight between Great Britain and Italy. By a strange paradox only the pacifists were in favour of that kind of war. They believed that if Mussolini cut the throat of Abyssinia the League would be mortally hurt and international law would no longer exist. The Left-minded people, hating Fascism, were all for war.

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. Germany had watched with astonishment and admiration. But something seemed to slip when Sir Samuel Hoare drew up a peace plan which would have given great slices of Ethiopia to the aggressor before his victory, which seemed to many minds at that time difficult and remote. Sanctions, they thought, would prove effective in the long run if the Ethiopians could only hold out.

There was an outburst of passion in England.

"It is not Abyssinia which has been betrayed," wrote one of the correspondents to The Times, which was filled with such correspondence. "It is we who have been betrayed."

Mr Baldwin came running into Downing Street. He pledged the government anew to a strong and faithful allegiance to the League Covenant. Mr Anthony Eden, that resolute young man, became foreign secretary in the place of Sir Samuel Hoare, who wept when he made his apologia to the House of Commons.

It was all very dramatic. The voice of England had spoken. But, as a friend of mine wrote to me from the United States: "England speaks the wrong words."

"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 Abyssinia and had seen its jagged mountain ranges.

"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 months in Abyssinia as a newspaper correspondent. "The rains churn up. their roads. Transport is in a frightful mess. If the Ethiopians keep to guerilla warfare they will hold out for years."

Less than two months afterwards the Italian army entered Addis Ababa, and Haile Selassie fled from his country. Poison gas and air bombs had broken the spirit of the Ethiopians. They had fled in black terror. They had died in heaps.

It was a "glorious victory" for Italy. What price glory? It was the utter defeat of the League and all its supporters. Collective Security had failed. There was no law in Europe. The smaller nations knew now that the League would be impotent to save them if one of the big bullies got after them. It was, for a time, the end of all dreams of international law based on justice and supported by sanctions.

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 England.


4 Hitler's Germany

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 dangerous than Italy, more powerful, filled them with alarm. Germany, under the Führer, was breaking the clauses of the Versailles Treaty. One by one they were being repudiated with a violence of unilateral action by the strange, inexplicable man who had attained a power in Germany greater than any of its kings and had almost assumed divine authority over the German tribes. He was the author of Mein Kampf, a book which does not exactly breathe out the spirit of peace. He was a hater of Communists, Socialists, pacifists and Jews. His Nazi regime, his Brown Shirts and Black Shirts, expressed to the outside world the bully creed. His concentration camps for Communists, Socialists, pacifists and Jews were not places of conversion by loving kindness. His friends, occupying the highest offices in the state, did not inspire confidence in the other nations as men of high morality or high intelligence.

Some of the new leaders in Germany under allegiance to Hitler, to whom they rendered almost divine honours, were obsessed by fantastic ideas which seemed to non-German minds mad and false and very dangerous to European civilisation. All their talk about the "Aryan Race" was mad and false. Some of them wanted to revive a faith in the old German gods and the pagan spirit.

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 Germany, the old tribal worship of the hero and the chief was recalled and centred in the person of Adolf Hitler. The suppression of all minorities, the merging of all parties into a totalitarian state under one ruler, one discipline, and one obedience, seemed an outrage to English and French minds, who hold fast to the rights of free criticism and free speech. That was verboten in Germany under Hitler's rule. A rigid censorship of the Press, the radio, the cinema, the theatre, the publishing houses, and every form of education and expression cut off the German people from communication of thought with other minds. The swastika became a symbol of oppression, brutality, and intolerance to all Communists, Socialists, Liberals and intellectuals in countries calling themselves democratic. The state of Germany before the coming of Hitler, desperately divided into armed camps and ripe for bloody revolution, was ignored.

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.

Visitors to Germany were impressed by the physical splendour of German youth, by those endless parades of young men and boys under the banners of the swastika. They were impressed—and frightened. What would happen if one day Hitler—that fanatic, that barnstormer, that apostle of hatred against Jews and Communists and pacifists and intellectuals, touched a button on his desk and ordered the mobilisation of these young legions? They were ready to die for him. They had sworn to do so if he called to them. They were, it seemed, in a state of exaltation, eager for self-sacrifice. Those were reasons why Germany under Hitler was regarded with fear by peoples beyond her frontiers. That fear grew into an obsession. It obsessed the French mind. It has taken possession of many English minds, especially on the Left of political thought. The New Germany has become the Big Bogey of Europe to many minds in England and to nearly all its newspapers, who find it very frightful and, morning after morning, make the flesh of their readers creep.

The intensive rearmament of Germany, especially in the air, was revealed most fully at a time when the League had broken down, and when international law had become a mockery even in the minds of those who had had most hope in its ultimate authority. Hitler was denounced as one of the lawbreakers when he repudiated the Treaty of Versailles by rearming and the Treaty of Locarno by sending his troops into the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland. European correspondents of the American Press—an able body of men—watched all this with pessimistic eyes and reported that war was immediate in Europe. For the past two years they have expected the explosion to happen. Some of them are surprised—not without cause—that it hasn't happened yet.

"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 of the Madrid government, though it might have led to a European war. The French and British governments stood fast on nonintervention with that peril in their minds. The Non-Intervention Committee was a pantomime which served this purpose.

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 London club, and we stood there for twenty-five minutes, I should say, while other members passed and said "Hullo!" or "How d'you do?"

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 surrendered the League of Nations ideal. Now the government is in the hands of the armament firms, and Labour is supporting rearmament because it creates work and wages—until the slump comes, or the ex-plosion. We missed the boat when there was a chance of getting a general limitation in arms. I sometimes think it would have been better if the supporters of the League had not been non-party. All parties gave it lip service as a beautiful ideal about which no one really bothered."

"Why not accept Hitler's offer of a Western Pact?" I asked. "Isn't that the first step to peace in Europe? With Germany in the League again . . ."

He didn't agree. He thought it would be playing Germany's game. Britain and France would be kept quiet while Germany made all plans to attack Russia.

"But what evidence have we," I asked, "that Germany intends to attack Russia? And why should Western Europe be laid in ruin because of our sensitive regard for the most sinister government on earth, which is that of Stalin and his executioners? Why not get onto friendly terms with Germany and bring her back into the League or, at least, as a good neighbour? We can influence the Germans much more by friendship than by hostility. After making a Western Pact we could do something about the Eastern frontier."



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 of England, and Scotland, and Wales.

One optimist took tea with me, a charming man whom I met at the council table of the Charing Cross Hospital.

"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 Europe are not panting for poison gas or eagerly awaiting the signal for their own blinding, and maiming, and agony of death. It seems to them no cheerful prospect.


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 Kensington Gardens on the way to this exhibition at the Town Hall. It was an antigas exhibition to teach the people of Kensington what best to do in their homes if another war should come—its warnings seemed to suggest that there was considerable likelihood of its coming—when enemy aircraft would drop bombs filled with poisonous gases to blind, choke and kill the population of London.

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 London if this horror came. She would try to save a few babies from being killed by poison gas, before her own body became mangled by high explosives which hostile aircraft would also drop. But I could see that she was getting bored with me, as she had every reason to be. She wasn't there to answer questions by a stern-looking inquisitor.

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 Cambridge and was published in a small book entitled Protection of the Public from Aerial Attack, published by Gollancz.

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."

In England and Wales, say the scientists, 1,910,000 people are living already under overcrowded conditions. Another 6,759,000 would be overcrowded if they attempted to carry out the advice.

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 London where I am always sure of a friendly welcome and pleasant people round about the table.

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 London traffic. It is fifteen minutes by taxi from Oxford Circus.

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. England itself is still Liberty Hall where one's mind is free.

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 Germany.

"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 Germany?" asked the young pilot who had been on my right at the tea table and now was in a deep armchair with his legs out-stretched.




I hadn't seen much of a technical kind. But I had spent a little time at the Flughaven near Berlin where there was great activity in civil aviation. Big aeroplanes, holding many passengers, had come in from different countries, keeping to a timetable with the regularity of railway trains. I had been impressed by the German genius for organisation. They were getting ahead of us altogether in the civil side of flying.

And I remembered a journey I had made through Germany when I had been startled by the tremendous propaganda which was being given to this development of aviation. At the entrance to small villages I had seen banners stretched across the roads.

Lift Up Your Eyes.
Our Future Is in the Air.
Help German Aviation.

In Berlin and other cities young German aviators had shaken collection boxes under the noses of the crowds. It was a kind of good-natured blackmail. Everybody had to pay tribute, however small. I remembered talking to a German woman in the market place at Stuttgart. She had told me frankly that she was afraid sometimes of all this intensive effort to put machines into the sky.

The flying man threw away his cigarette and spoke quietly but with a kind of restrained passion.

"Germany has developed her air force beyond all our calculations. She's doing it with an efficiency and organising power beyond the limited imagination of our people. Meanwhile our so-called statesmen and politicians hand out blather and eye-wash to the nation. I don't know what you think about the international situation, but it seems to me . . ."

At that time it was distinctly unpleasant. We were still at cross-purposes with Signor Mussolini. Our prestige had fallen to a low ebb. Germany had repudiated the Locarno Treaty. The Labour party was becoming militarist. No, the international situation was not agreeable.

The flying man thought it abominable. The League of Nations had proved itself impotent, he said, in a major crisis. Collective Security had failed in this Abyssinian affair, which was its supreme test.

"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. Germany might be our enemy again. Do you agree to that possibility?"

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 London, flying high, at high speeds. Here before we knew they were coming!"

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.

"Germany has a pretty shrewd idea of what's going on," he said. "Do you think she won't exploit her advantage one day? Then where shall we be, say, in two years' time?"

He uttered another alarming sentence.

"Our Air Force can't strike a blow of any kind at Germany from England. We haven't a single bomber with the range that would carry it to Berlin and back, working under war conditions. Somebody ought to tell the truth about all this. How can one sit tight and say nothing when we are risking the life of the nation?"

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 match for Germany in the air, because all our policy was wrong, and under existing conditions of design and manufacture we should never catch up.

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, Germany is not going to attack us. Hitler offers a Western pact. Why don't we take it? The whole of the German people are deeply anxious for our friendship—I know that as a fact. In my mind I was busy with this thought of German friendliness. Supposing I was wrong? Supposing some new crisis happened in Europe which might cut across Germany's vital interests or ours and brought us to a clash? France and Russia. Spain. Austria. Czecho-Slovakia. There were many possibilities of danger, as I knew. Supposing the friendly feelings of the German people were suddenly switched off to anger? Supposing a little bell rang on Hitler's desk one day, mobilising all his young braves? These questions stirred in my mind. Who could answer them with absolute certainty?

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 League of Nations man. Ever since the war I had written little words on bits of paper with the simple purpose of revealing the stupidity, beyond even the horror, of war and working for a reconciliation of nations and the re-establishment of civilised intelligence. Lately I had been on that Arms Commission with the hope in my head that it might help a little in checking the intensive competition in armaments by a general limitation under international control. It would be out of my mental frame to become a propagandist for more and better bombing aeroplanes. But the League system had broken down for a time. Collective Security had failed. The Labour party—utterly illogical—were breathing fire and blood against Fascist nations and, at the same time, discouraging recruiting and preparations for defence—or attack. Our ministers were talking to Germany like schoolmasters to naughty boys. Italy had become hostile to us. Our Foreign Office was associating its policy with that of France, but France was linked too closely for her own safety, and ours, perhaps, with Russia. Something might "slip." The sticking plaster holding European peace together might break somewhere. What then? What would happen to England if hostile bombers became active in our sky? What would happen to London and its nine million inhabitants? . . . What had that fellow said?

"We have no means of defence. Our Air Force is incapable of striking a blow against Germany from England."

"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 Germany by a certain date. We were not approaching such equality with Germany with its present air strength of 1,500 front-line machines. He deplored "the years that the locusts had eaten."

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 Europe. Words! Political argument with—party bias. An interesting debate. . . . Who goes home?

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 arise from Germany, but that was not the basis on which we discussed those military matters. We should have no parity during the whole of 1937 and he doubted whether we should have it in the whole of 1938. He again asserted the truth of the figure which he had given last November, that the German strength then was 1,500 front-line machines. It was, he thought, considerably more now. Actually, the Germans were believed to possess 150 formed squadrons of 12 machines each. That gave the figure of 1,800 front-line machines at the present time.

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 Newcastle." In his secret report he must have dealt with these facts, or some of them.

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 Spain had been a testing ground for some of these new types, and on a small scale—though very terrible to the




manhood, womanhood and childhood in Spain—their power of destruction had been revealed. Man, who after long ages has mastered the secret of flight and given himself wings—"they mount with wings as eagles"—by which he is capable of rising very high not only into the blue but into new adventures of civilisation and splendour, is now terrified of this new power which he has created. For all this talk of ground defence against hostile aircraft is, I fear, mere dope to lull public terror. At the heights they go, at the speeds they go, there is no defence from the earth and very little in the sky. Over great cities enemy aircraft would find their way and drop their bombs. It would not be a decisive method of attack unless the morale of enormous populations densely crowded were overcome by mass panic and mass slaughter. That is doubtful. Man has inexhaustible reserves of endurance against all horror. He is incredibly brave when it comes to self-preservation and the last chance of survival. Men and women would dive into cellars, as in Spain, though many dead lay in the ruins. The survivors would crawl out to fight their invaders. War would go on; and whatever is meant by victory, when everything is ruined and much is dead, would go to those most able to stand the terror from the air with unbroken spirit. But why need these horrors come among nations proud of their intelligence? Why should this madness of mutual destruction replace the orderly settlement of disputes between nations all pledged to abstain from war as an act of policy, all fearful, all fully conscious, of its ruin—win or lose?

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 France and Flanders?

That is rather frightening.



The Red Dream

1 A Russian Fairy Tale


ALTHOUGH in England we are a lucky people compared with many others, there are groups of men and women among us, some of them with high brows, and many with low, who dream Red. The high-brows—I could name them—have a kind of religious reverence for an old ghost who in his lifetime, eighty years ago, masked himself behind a wealth of whiskers and wrote a book which has caused the death of millions by civil war, revolutions, murder, typhus, famine, and all brands of misery. The name of the hairy man was Karl Marx and the title of his book is Das Kapital.

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 England that gap between the classes is not widening, it seems, but losing. Taxation gets after the big fortunes. The condition of the working classes is enormously improved since the date of that book. Our great industrialists—or some of them—have developed a social conscience. Nevertheless, those high-brows whose thoughts are coloured red still regard Marxism as the gospel of economic faith.

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 Russia. Their imagination is haunted by Moscow. The Soviet system of life seems to them the goal towards which humanity must move to establish peace and happiness on earth. At the very name of Russia one sees a look of softness in their eyes as though they were Catholic mystics who see the Beatific Vision.

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 United States. It was a "stag party." Round the table sat fifteen youngish men, nearly all of them writers of books not without fame. I knew their names. I had read some of their books. I felt humble in their presence, for they were the daring lads—English and American—who are very advanced in their range of thought.

Charming young men, I found them. One of them had just written a book on Europe which was having a world-wide sale. Suddenly someone began talking about Russia, and, looking round the table, I saw the eyes of these youngish intellectuals go soft with that peculiar light which comes from inward ecstasy. Russia! Ah, what a country! It was making immense progress in industrialisation. It was beginning to lead the world in aviation and crowding the sky with bombing aeroplanes. The Soviet system was, of course, the ultimate ideal of humanity. That fellow Stalin! What a brain! Fascism, with its half-wit dictators, would crumple up before the assault of Marxian idealism. Nothing could check democratic ideology in the long run. Russia was solving the economic problem.

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 recently to Moscow as journalists. But as I listened to them I wondered why they seemed to believe in a Grimm fairy tale which leaves out the witches, the goblins and the ogres. How did they account, I wondered, for those trials and executions of the old Bolshevik leaders? Did they believe in those confessions of guilt? If so, then those who made the Russian revolution—their former heroes—were gangsters and gunmen without moral sense. If they didn't believe, then Stalin and the present rulers of Russia were murderers and torturers.

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 "Liberty." Had they really seen such things in Russia? Or had they dreamed a fairy tale?

No doubt in Russia today there are millions of young people excited by the adventure of life and fairly pleased with it. The loud speakers, blasting forth propaganda, persuade them that they are greatly privileged to live in such an enlightened state. There is intensive education to make them machine minded and efficient—though they are nowhere near the standard of England, or Germany, or the United States. In railway stations and village halls they educate each other in elementary science, strictly censored, in elementary knowledge, strictly censored, equal perhaps to that doled out to English students in night classes since the foundation of Birkbeck College and free elementary education. All that is not too bad. It may lead somewhere, sometime. But is there in Russia any sign of a more beautiful civilisation, nobler ideals, a more spiritual vision of life, than in this bourgeois England? I do not find that in such books as those by Maurice Hindus, favourable to this system as he is. I find only descriptions of a dreary squalor in overcrowded houses, half-baked ideas of young fanatics, mean envies, jealousies and ambitions, a low-grade type of life compared with which our unemployed are lords of luxury. I do not find it in such a book as I Was a Soviet Worker by Andrew Smith, an American Communist who reveals that now, in 1937, there is still misery, filth, hunger, horrible vice, and horrible cruelty in Soviet Russia.


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 Spain, risking his own life to see how Spaniards kill each other. The B.B.C. gave him the air to tell us that always he would thank God that he was in Madrid on Christmas Day, where he saw brave men fighting and dying in defence of Liberty. He said nothing of the morgue in Madrid where lay the corpses of men and women shot each day by murder gangs. He spoke no word of pity, no word of horror, no word condemning that passionate vendetta which on both sides has disgraced the chivalry of Spain.

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 Oxford gather in St Giles to hear Red stuff from London propagandists. A group of them formed their own Communist society called the October Club in honour of the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917. Its membership was something under three hundred when it was dissolved towards the end of 1935 and amalgamated with the University Labour Club. The Federation of Student Societies which covered Red activities among all the universities has now been merged with the University Labour Federation. At Oxford and Cambridge there are ardent advocates of the United Front and passionate partisans of class war.

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




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 Oxford. He and his sister, who was also up at Oxford for a time, are a remarkable pair in many ways. They have tramped about Europe, sleeping in German youth hostels and Austrian guesthouses. They speak German. They seem to know quite a lot about the European situation from firsthand knowledge, gained in places where youth talks loudly.

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 London streets. One has to take a risk for an ideal. We shall have to risk our lives for the sake of humanity and the future."

"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 Oxford. When I saw him off from the front door, after listening a considerable time to his critical attack upon the Capitalistic system and his intellectual argument for the creed of Communism—once or twice I saw the little flame of fanaticism in his dark eyes—I apologised for being such an old-fashioned man as to disagree with him profoundly.

"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 Scunthorpe—an obscure place in Lincolnshire that they proposed to put down plant.

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 in London with many windows between bars of steel. He hates speed and thinks there ought to be a twenty-mile-an-hour limit on the roads. He detests aviation and says it is another menace to life. He still reads Charles Dickens, and Thackeray, and even—ye gods!—John Galsworthy. It's necessary, the young man thinks, to break up this Victorian mind, to ridicule the platitudes of this autocrat at the breakfast table, to show up the hypocrisies of ideas which the old bird thinks sacred and the stuffiness of the code which he calls "playing the game." Youth has the natural right, he claims, of revolt against the opinions of the previous generation. At the mere word of Communism the family blows up. How good to let in a little fresh air after that explosion! Besides, how can one join the ranks of the intellectuals in Bloomsbury, or Battersea, or Hampstead Garden Suburb without a touch of Red?

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 Oxford to proclaim in the union: "We will not fight for King or Country." What they really meant was: "We will not fight for profiteers or die to play a Foreign Office game."

The H. G. Wells young man—1937 edition—reads the News Chronicle or the Daily Herald. Perhaps he goes up the Charing Cross Road, where there is a Red bookshop, and buys the Daily Worker and Challenge and little pamphlets on Communism and Peace.

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 Russia with its Red Army—the strongest in Europe—and its Red aeroplanes? The Red dream is rather confusing just now. But young minds have their own sense of logic and jump the snags.


6 A Gruesome Show

In London recently I went to see an anti-Communist exhibition at Dorland House in Regent Street.

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 Volga in 1922. Here were the anti-God posters with their flaming hatred of priests and their ridicule of Christ.

Perhaps some of that has died down now. I was talking to a young Russian who told me that all over Russia there is a return, among many groups, to primitive Christianity, and that many of these groups are in the Red Army itself. Human nature even in Russia, even after all that propaganda, needs a religion and a faith in immortality. Even the successor to Djerjinsky, chief of the Ogpu and a sadist in his love of cruelty, is aghast at the results of the breaking down of family life and the criminal tendencies of young Russians brought up without a moral code. "Back to the home" is now a slogan in Russian villages encouraged by the Propaganda Bureau. The word has gone forth from Moscow to tolerate religion if it does not become political, so I am told.

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 Regent Street was like a Chamber of Horrors and was haunted by memories of Terror which have drenched Russia in blood for twenty years of recent history, unknown to the young intellectual who sees red or passes it off with a shrug of the shoulders because of czarist cruelties. It was, he thinks, an evitable chapter of the class war out of which will come a Brave New World.

In that exhibition one saw nothing of the new Russia with its industrialisation, its armies of young mechanics, its schools and laboratories. But even if all that had been shown I doubt whether life in the Soviet Republic would appeal to the working-man in England if he had to live under its discipline, which is not exactly our idea of democratic liberty in a new paradise on earth.

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



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 Spain or anywhere else.

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 Tower of London men had been racked and subjected to merry tortures for their religious opinions or their political creed. Some of the noblest blood of England dripped onto stones inside those walls—saints and martyrs, poets and scholars, great gentlemen like Sir Thomas More and Sir Walter Raleigh. In damp cells and dungeons behind those walls lay rebels against the King's command, great noblemen who had allegiance to the wrong prince, women with white necks and weeping eyes, who went to the block when their time came because a King had tired of their beauty or found out their infidelities. Thumbscrews, and iron boots, and racks had tortured human flesh in the ages of intolerance, before the Age of Reason—has it arrived?—and democratic liberty.

In England we still have liberty. The orators on Tower Hill were, by their words, a proof of that. They could say almost anything, without the fear of a concentration camp or a Fascist prison.

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.

"Gibraltar," he shouted, "is the Achilles heel of the British Empire. Do our Tory diehards understand when they back Franco and his Moors, and do nothing to check the flow of arms from all the blackguard bullies of the Fascist nations, they are playing into the hands of Hitler and Mussolini—those two ruffians—and that if Franco wins with their aid they will close the Mediterranean against British ships when it suits them to do so, cut off our lines of communication with Egypt and India, and make Gibraltar utterly useless as a naval base?"

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 Madrid.

His voice rang out over the heads of the crowd.

"We boast of our liberty, but is it not an outrage against liberty that Eden should ban any brave Englishman from going as a volunteer to Spain to fight, and, if need be, die, for those who are defending liberty in Europe? It is a unilateral action before the other powers have agreed to do likewise. Eden has betrayed Democracy."

"What about shooting civil prisoners in Madrid?" asked a voice in the crowd. "Is that your idea of justice and liberty?"

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 Madrid. What about the shooting of unarmed prisoners in Badajoz by Franco's murderers? And another thing! You all read the papers. You know I am not lying when I say that the first act of Caballero was to liberate thirty thousand prisoners—from the jails of Madrid—Spaniards imprisoned for their political belief in liberty—Spanish workingmen and democrats. You read your papers, don't you? Am I a liar or am I telling the truth?"

"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 England. It doesn't seem to touch our interests. But it touches us all very closely—every one of us—because it is the beginning, the trial trip, of that conflict which is going to be fought out in blood all over the world. It is a trial of strength between the Fascist powers and those who hold fast 1 Democracy and must one day fight for it. If Franco wins we shall all feel the results of that victory for tyranny. Our own liberties will next be challenged . . ."

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 Moscow have shown the horrors of that regime, and——" 

"Keep Moscow out of it!" shouted a voice in the crowd.


8 The Communist Party of Great Britain

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 Europe. Their standard of living is higher. They are not going to risk it in Red ruin.

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 Spain—battling for Democracy and the honour of our movement. They will be overjoyed to know that 200 new ones have come forward to fill their places. Phil Gillan, who was seriously wounded in the University City section of Madrid and is now convalescent, will have his recovery greatly speeded up when he hears that while he has been away his branch has grown from 40 to 70 members."

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 England may have a Red peril.

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 England, to pass that £1,500,000,000 for the defence of your lives and liberties, so kindly look pleasant about it and pay—pay—pay."

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 Geneva. Year after year it met to receive the reports of its committees and sub-committees and to talk about the limitation of arms down to a low level necessary for each nation's self-defence. Germany at that time was disarmed. That is certain, in spite of a lot of nonsense talked and printed about concealment of arms and secret drilling of men. Germany was disarmed, unable to defend herself against any combined attack, without heavy artillery, tanks, military aircraft, or munitions of war, apart from machine guns and rifles here and there. The League of Nations was under a moral obligation to arrange a general system of limitation in arms. It was possible to do so. In this country and others the people demanded with a passionate insistence that it should be done.

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 representatives at Geneva were equally obstructive and insincere.

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. Germany left the League of Nations. Germany decided to rearm. Who can blame her, without hypocrisy, for that decision?

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.

He offered France friendship, saying that there was no further cause of quarrel between their two peoples. The French Press spat on his outstretched hand and increased their military strength. The British Press quoted the French Press.

Hitler offered to make a Western Pact between Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany, which would, he said, guarantee peace for a generation. It was not accepted. Russia was not included, and Mr Litvinov was annoyed, as were all his friends in France and England.

Hitler offered to limit the German army to three hundred thousand men. France increased her defensive system and ignored the offer.

France made an alliance with Soviet Russia, denounced by the French Right as the most sinister government in the world. It went beyond the covenant of the League in agreeing to instant action between them in case one of them were attacked. Germany regarded it as a new alliance against her, in line with the policy of encirclement—that old bogey which had led to 1914—with French influence in Czecho-Slovakia, Jugo-Slavia, Roumania and Poland. The Franco-Soviet Pact, said the leader of Germany and his propagandists, was a violation of the Locarno Pact and a new situation of which they had to take notice. I think they were right.

On March 7, 1936, Hitler tore up the Treaty of Locarno by sending troops into the demilitarised zone of the Rhineland, so repudiating a clause in that treaty which, in the opinion of many people in England, should never have been there, unless France also had had a demilitarised zone.

It was one of Hitler's "surprises" which shocked the world and created more fear in Europe. Public opinion in France was deeply alarmed. The French Press screamed. Belgium was staggered and dismayed. In England there was official condemnation of this unilateral action and treaty breaking, though public opinion was divided, and some even said: "The Rhineland is as German as Sussex is English. Why should Germany be deprived of sovereign rights over her own territory?"

But when steel-helmeted soldiers with guns and transport were riding through Cologne, Hitler made another offer of peace.

It was as follows:

1. The German Government declare themselves prepared to negotiate with France and Belgium, for the establishment of a bilateral demilitarised zone, and to assent to other proposals with regard to the extent and effect of such a zone, under the stipulation of complete parity.

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 pact between Germany, France and Belgium, with a duration which they are prepared to fix at 25 years.

3. The German Government desire to invite England and Italy to sign this treaty as guarantor powers.

4. The German Government are willing to include the Government of the Netherlands in this treaty system, should the Government of the Netherlands desire, and the other treaty powers approve.

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 Germany in the East non-aggression pacts similar with that concluded with Poland.

7. With the achievement at last of Germany's equality of rights, and the restoration of sovereignty over the whole territory of the German Reich, the German Government regard the chief reason for their withdrawal from the League of Nations as eliminated. Germany is therefore prepared to enter the League of Nations again. In so saying she expresses at the same time her expectation that, in the course of a reasonable space of time, the problem of the colonial equality of rights, as well as of the separation of the League Covenant from the Versailles Treaty, will be clarified in the course of friendly negotiations.

These proposals were of vast importance to the peace of Europe. If they had been accepted and concluded, there would today be no need for those desperate burdens of rearmament which are crushing down upon all our shoulders, and all our souls, because of their inherent menace of explosion at the end of the race. The conclusion of Hitler's proposed Air Pact would have taken fear out of Europe—that most horrible fear of the bombing of great centres of population which has invaded the minds of millions in England and other countries. Germany's return to the League of Nations would have made possible a real system of Collective Security, which, without Germany, is an illusion and a menace.

There is no word of Russia here. But Russia also would have been safeguarded by the conclusion of such nonaggression pacts with states bordering on Germany. Russia is not on Germany's border line, and to get at Russia Germany would have to pass through states whose territory she was ready to declare inviolable.

The hostile critics of Germany said: "How can we rely upon any pact made by a nation which has violently repudiated those already made?"

But is it impossible for us, or France, to understand the motives and the limit of Germany's action in repudiating a treaty forced upon her by defeat, starvation and revolution? All that Hitler had done—and it was much—was to regain for Germany sovereign rights over her own territory, free from foreign control or interference, and to stand equal with other powers. If we English folk had been defeated in the World War, deprived of our sovereign rights over our own land, and made subject to the dictates of foreign powers or a hated treaty, we, too, should have struggled to release ourselves and regain our ancient liberties. We should have acclaimed any leader who would have restored our pride and broken our bonds. We should have gloried in the patriotism of English youth who, after humiliation, bitterness, misery and demoralisation, rallied up to the traditional spirit of England and said to all the world: "Our English soil is free. We have torn up our treaty of shame: We stand, as once we stood, independent and unafraid." So would France have been glad of a leader and a spirit which would do such things after defeat and bondage. Have we no imagination, no touch of generosity, no sympathy with a nation which breaks its fetters? I dare to say that Hitler, in these acts, was heroic in his liberation of the German folk from foreign control and inequality of justice. If we refuse to admit that in the case of Germany, we are false to all our history and all our code of fair play. I think that our statesmen, and French statesmen, and our Press and the French Press, were stricken with blindness in not pursuing these proposals which offered Europe a new foundation of peace and escape from the darkening shadows of another world war.

To the man in the street and the third-class railway carriage in England it seemed a pretty good offer. Instead of testing the sincerity of Hitler by accepting the principles of this peace proposal and inviting German delegates to a council table, the German envoy—Herr von Ribbentrop—was put into the dock by the council of the League of St James's Palace.

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 Germany's envoy.

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 Germany over all her territory. No one closed with that offer.

Mr Anthony Eden, acting with French advice—French politicians were hot with passion—addressed a questionnaire to Germany. It was unfortunate in its tone to the leader of a nation unwilling to be dealt with as a doubtful and disorderly character whose word could not be relied on without guarantees.

On January 30 of this year—four years after his appointment as chancellor of Germany—Hitler addressed the Reichstag and the world again.

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 rights Germany will loyally co-operate in solving the problems preoccupying other nations."

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 France, and he regarded her soil as sacred and inviolable, as he had given assurance to Holland and Belgium to regard their countries as inviolable territory.

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 of Great Britain, seemed to think that it was something in Moscow which did not regard the outside world.

"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 it?—though now Russia seems to be returning to Capitalism. But Russia's action in the Spanish Civil War seems to show that they have not yet abandoned their support of revolution in other countries.

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 in Germany?

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.

In Munich, on February 17 of this year, Hitler addressed a body of international ex-service men, and he spoke the following words on the very day when our House of Commons passed the government's vast rearmament scheme, caused undoubtedly by their conviction that Germany might force another war on Europe:

"A new war would have catastrophic consequences for all



nations. Any disturbance of peace at home would endanger Germany's reconstruction work, but a menace to external peace would utterly destroy Germany's gigantic efforts for recovery.

"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 Germany to come in with us as the guarantors of peace?

What was the consequence of abandoning hope that Germany had peaceful intentions?

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 London that day in underground trains, in clubs, in the streets. Everywhere I overheard those figures: Fifteen hundred million! They would have to be paid for sometime. One voice in the crowd came to me.

"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 Germany down. We ought to have taught Mussolini a lesson and cut the Suez Canal."

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 England. We don't want to go to war with them. What's it all about—this feverish rearming?"

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 Russia. How many times do you think Germany goes into Russia on the map? Five or six times, you may say. No, forty-five times! It makes us think. But, in any case, our plan of re-armament is nearly finished. We don't want to go on too long in that business. And it's not in Berlin that has come a refusal for a general limitation of arms."

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. Germany, with thirty-six political parties and five private armies, was ready for a frightful revolution. So he told us, and it was true, as I know by my own knowledge of Germany at that time.

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, Germany was paying its way and not plunging into the ruinous policy of inflation.

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 Lord Mount Temple.

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 Germany undernourished? Have they a lack of fats? One reads that in our newspapers."

"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?"



The Bogey of Europe

1 The German Riddle


IS IT ANY USE pretending that Germany was not in the mind of our government and its supporters when they demanded £1,500,000,000 for rearmament?

There was no pretence about that from the Left wing of Labour.

"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 Germany, and they would have no desire or need to create great armaments against them if they were convinced of the pacific intentions of their rulers. They did not believe in Herr Hitler's protestations of peace."

Winston Churchill had made the flesh of his readers and listeners creep by the figures he produced out of his hat relating to Germany's intensive rearmament, and by his lurid interpretations of Germany's aggressive spirit. Ramsay MacDonald was impatient with me when, at a private luncheon one day, I tried to put in a word for Germany, in which I had been travelling. He knew all about Germany, it seemed. He had no illusions. Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain, the experts of the Foreign Office, seemed to be convinced that Germany was pre-paring for war in which we should be involved.

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 London correspondent of a great American journal—"who accept every concession as weakness, and when they are given something ask for something else? It's like buying off the Danes. They will never be satisfied. How can you deal on terms of intelligence and reason with people who deny intelligence and reason? The present generation in Germany is educated to believe that England is decadent, and that there's a Jewish conspiracy to overthrow the world, and that instinct and brute force should take the place of the intellectual mind. How can you argue with people like that? Hitler is a madman. Goering is a moral degenerate. The Nazi philosophy of life is a challenge to Europe. Of course they want to make peace in the West—to keep England and France quiet while they attack Russia. . . . You Liberals have the idea that people can't be so bad as they're painted. You think that they can be converted by kindness. You can't convert the beasts of the jungle to a gentle Liberalism! Hitler hasn't withdrawn Mein Kampf."

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 Russia than in Germany, more human happiness in Russia than in Germany? Don't they know, the Left wing idealists, that the German revolution under Hitler was bloodless compared with the streams of blood which ran in Russia, and that, whereas a few scores were killed in the German struggle under the leadership of Hitler, millions perished under Lenin and Stalin? Do they, at this time of history, believe that the Soviet system is in favour of democracy, or that the Russian people govern themselves?

Are the German people hunted, miserable, oppressed and terrorised? A visit to any part of Germany will answer that question. It is true of the German Jews. They have a cause of terror. They are unhappy. Many of them have been brutally and meanly treated. I have a deep sense of pity for those who were good citizens, good Germans, and people of talent and culture—though not all of them were that.

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 Germany among the younger people than in England. There is certainly more happiness in Germany than in France, which is anxious, strained and dejected.

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 England that religious fanaticism which is tending to divide the world into two rival creeds—called "ideologies" in the new jargon. On one side are the believers in Marxism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat—which means the dictatorship of fanatics who will wade through the blood of the bourgeoisie—to which most of them belong—for the sake of their creed; and on the other side the Fascist minds who deride the old Liberalism and desire to enforce a common discipline and the suppression of all minorities.

But there is something more important than our dislike of Fascism in Germany. It is our dislike of another world war.

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 Germany was intolerable to him. He is afraid even to go to the theatre lest any careless word of criticism should be overheard by another playgoer who, seeing that he was a Jew, might make things very unpleasant for him. He feels intellectually isolated, as though living on a desert island.

"Culture," he says, "has departed from Germany."

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 Germany is preparing for an aggressive war?" I asked him.

"No," he answered. "Those people want to impress the world, but they don't want to fight it. All this marching and drilling in Germany is to keep the people from thinking, and to keep them excited with a sense of doing something, even if it's only moving about. Everybody in Germany—all the young people—are kept moving about, and flag wagging. If once they sat still and began to think, it might be dangerous! As a matter of fact, Germany can't fight an aggressive war. Where are her allies? Italy? Who trusts Italy? No, much as I detest fellows like Goering I don't believe they have any idea of making war."

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 about Germany in one of my novels.

"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 London. It was a meeting of frontline fighters of Germany and England—the veterans of the last war. We sat at table with each other. We were the men who had fought each other twenty-odd years ago. There was no sense of hostility or restraint. We were conscious of our comradeship. There was a wonderful spirit at the table. I was deeply moved and prayed to God that never again in history may our two peoples fight each other."

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 Germany. The German people as a whole retain their character, their individuality, their private right of criticism, in spite of Press censorship and propaganda.

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?"

"Germany doesn't want war," he answered.

"Not even with Russia?"

"They don't want to attack Russia. But they're afraid of Russian influence in Germany—Communist propaganda. Over here we are inclined to pooh-pooh the danger of Communism in Germany. People think Hitler is using it only as a scarecrow to frighten his own folk and to keep up discipline. But there's real fear of Communism in Germany. No doubt a good deal of it has gone to ground, but there it is seething underneath. We mustn't forget that Germany had a hard struggle with Communism, and but for the coming of Hitler it might have gone Red and had an orgy of blood. The Germans themselves don't forget that, and they are quite honest in regarding Russia as a tremendous menace against which they have to protect themselves."

He spoke for some time of what Hitler had done for the economic life of Germany and its restoration to self-pride.

"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 England?"

"There's a general admiration of England—a wish for closer friendship. I've found that everywhere, even among the leaders of the old Stahlhelm. Rather an amusing remark was made to me the other day by an important man. 'We ought to hate England,' he said, 'but we can't and don't!' As a matter of fact, though it sounds silly to say so, Germany wants to be loved—especially by England! They have been so long ostracised, and attacked, and surrounded by hostile critics and open enemies. If only somebody would love them!"

"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 Germany as a whole dreads the idea of another war. But the younger people get depressed about it sometimes. They talk about Fate—Das Schicksal—as though some mystical power might force them into war against their will. One finds articles against war in the most unexpected places, certainly not intended for outside propaganda."

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 Germany again and again—and I believe them. I believe that our politicians have made a false bogey with which to frighten the British folk, and that the enormous burden of armaments which has been imposed upon this country is dangerous, unnecessary and ruinous.

It is acknowledged by all our travellers to Germany, as I have said, that the German people—whatever their leaders may be saying or thinking—are friendly to us. But is there any friendliness in Germany for the French people; or any in France for their former enemies?

Judging from the French Press, one would not imagine that there could be one Frenchman willing to believe in Germany's offer of friendship. But here is an account by a French ex-soldier—Gabriel Dufour—of a visit paid by himself and some of his comrades to those people across the Rhine.

"From the time of our first welcome—with touching cordiality, at the Strasbourg bridgehead—my comrades and I were the subject of enthusiastic demonstrations throughout our stay. At Baden-Baden, Wildbad, Heidelberg, Esslingen, Freiburg, and Stuttgart, we were received by a friendly, joyous, and even exuberant population. Let us make some notes from the speeches of our German hosts:

"'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 the Rhine there lives a people which loves peace, fathers and mothers devoted to their children, for whom their hope is that they should not know the horrors of war. We pray to God to give us strength to carry through this task to the end.'

"At Stuttgart the members of the ex-soldiers' organisations had been asked to offer hospitality in their homes to the French comrades. On the evening of our arrival the applicants waiting to claim their Frenchmen were numerous. There were only forty-four of us. How could everybody be satisfied? It was impossible. It was touching, but true, that I saw German people going away alone with tears in their eyes. As we left Stuttgart a crowd surrounded our motorcars and showed its enthusiasm by shouting over and over again: 'Vive la France!'

"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 Germany sincerely desires peace."

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 Europe, wishing peace, escape the doom which they feel is dragging them all to war?


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 Germany glorifies the war spirit. But if one reads further one gets a different point of view.

"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 Germany and Great Britain has not been made easier by the German demand for the return of her lost colonies. It is rather the tone in which that has been made than the question itself—difficult as it is—which has aroused the anger of those who regard Germany as our potential enemy. In a speech by General Goering on October 26, 1936, he said harshly that German colonies had been "stolen" from her. This was repeated by that glib-tongued man Herr Goebbels. The Führer, himself, in his book Mein Kampf, repudiated the desire for the possession of African colonies but has now made their return a matter of national urgency and prestige.

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 Germany because from them she would obtain the raw materials that she needs. Fats could be supplied from what were previously German colonies; rubber could be cultivated in what was German East Africa and the Cameroons; wool, cotton, flax, hemp and jute were actually found in the German colonies, and metals and minerals were, no doubt, to be found there.

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 Europe, the United States and Asia. Africa accounts for only 3.7 per cent. Were Germany to recover her former colonies, they would not secure for her a supply of such vital raw materials as copper, petrol, cotton, wool or iron.

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. The Cameroons take 50 per cent of their imports from Germany and send her 80 per cent of their exports. In Tanganyika German trade in 1933–36 amounted to over two million pounds sterling in exports and imports.

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.

Nevertheless, Germany wants them back, and there is incessant propaganda stimulating the national grievance on this account. It is, above all, a question of national pride, and that is the most dangerous and difficult mood with which to deal. It is especially difficult to settle generously and in justice at a time when Germany is accused of aggressive intentions in which lurk a menace of war; and when those who believe that charge are hardened against any concession which would seem like surrender or weakness on account of fear. Germany, they say, would use Tanganyika as a submarine and aeroplane base, which would imperil the Cape-to-Cairo route, and alarm not only South Africa but India and the Far East.

The difficulties of handing back the mandates to Germany are very great and hardly realised by Germans themselves. Whitehall has no power to decide upon their return. South Africa, an independent Dominion of the British Commonwealth, would utterly refuse. How then could we enforce any decision to hand back German East Africa or the Cameroons? Some of these mandates over the former German colonies are held jointly by seven different countries, including France, New Zealand, Belgium and Japan. It would not be easy to get a general con-sent to the handing back of these countries.

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 Germany put her faith as solemn pledges to her for a future peace settlement. It violated Wilson's pledge that peoples and territories should not be handed about like chattels from one power to another. Utterly false, according to a man who knew German East Africa as few others—Sir Harry Johnston—was the war propaganda that German administration was bad. He told me that it was a model administration, and other witnesses bear this out as far as Tanganyika is concerned.

It is necessary, surely, to find some way out of this trouble, which is psychological in Germany as well as a claim for material advantages. "Paris vaut bien une messe", said Henry of Navarre. European peace is worth a concession to Germany, deprived of any opportunity of colonial development by an Empire which has vast possessions, unused and undeveloped.

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 League of Nations into the question of access to raw materials, and to take the necessary action to carry out the conclusions reached.

This appeal, supported by the most distinguished list of representative minds in Great Britain today, of all professions and callings, advocated the removal of quotas and the lowering of tariffs between the British Empire and other groups of nations.

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 over Tanganyika and other African lands with the consent of South Africa, I have grave doubts. That is one of the curses bequeathed to us by those who made a peace and forgot the future.

But is it worth a world war, or bloody strife between us and Germany? That question is answered by its own absurdity. I am assured by a German diplomat who knows the mind of Hitler that he will never make this claim a cause of war.


5 The Way of Understanding

According to information I get from people who know Germany well, as well as from my own observations in Germany in recent years and months, the German people are very much like ourselves in feeling under a sense of doom that, in spite of a general desire for peace, war may come. Recently they are under the impression that the tension is not so severe, after a very critical period during the Spanish Civil War and the charge against Germany of intervention in Morocco. The situation in political circles is still regarded as grave, though not hopeless. A vast majority of the German people prefer National Socialism to Communism, but an even larger majority would welcome a modification of the present regime, especially as regards personnel. There is general dislike of subordinate officials who exercise a petty tyranny. There is still a fear, I am told, in many German minds that there may be civil war, in spite of apparent unity and loyalty.

They complain bitterly of being "misunderstood", especially by England—regarded by some hostile observers as the selfish hypocrite who can never see other people's points of view and is therefore always unfair. Fairness of treatment is what Germany cares about, above all else. England should make allowances, they plead, for blunt men untrained in diplomatic usages, with no experience of foreign politics, who are now directing the Reich. They should also make allowance for the difference of tone and phrasing between a dictator proclaiming to the masses and a parliamentarian addressing his constituents. Germany is centuries behind England in political development and is touched in some ways—as they believe themselves—by the dynamic spirit of the Elizabethan era—youthful, virile, adventurous. In this mood Germany is unlikely to accept any conditions of inequality and will only act as an equal partner with other great powers. The way to overcome mistrust is to get Hitler's signature to a definite agreement upon outstanding problems. It would be kept, I am assured by those who know him.

"Germany," said my friend the Quaker, who knows that country as well as any man amongst us, "seems to be struggling along fairly well under its burdens—political, economical and financial. But there is a feeling amongst nationally minded people that life in Germany is a hard struggle with no attempt to ease it by other peoples whose burdens are lighter. The result is a dissatisfied state of mind and the temptation to use the power now possessed to make things a bit easier for themselves. Nothing would induce them to throw away this lever they have forged, after the years of humiliation and helplessness without it. Each of our countries seems so confirmed in its own point of view that perhaps nothing can be gained by argument; besides, it is largely a question of feelings on both sides, not of reason at all. Naturally we don't like dictatorships, Jew-baiting, and so forth. Perhaps still more we detest the blunt unpolished methods of intercourse. Germans dislike our Pharisaism, our inability or determination not to understand them. They worry themselves to exasperation about this and think the only possible remedy for present difficulties must be some concession by England—not realising that concession can only come from understanding, and that they make no effort on their side to help in attaining it. Hence we reach deadlock. It seems to me, puzzling over this problem, that the only solution may be mutual and simultaneous concession. Perhaps something of the kind is not beyond the powers of diplomacy. The difficulties are enormous. The reward, however, is the peace of the world."

There is still time to establish friendly relations with Germany and to arrange a limitation of arms, especially in the air, which would do something, and much, to relieve the darkness of that shadow of fear which casts a gloom over Europe and the minds of young people. All this hideous nonsense of gas masks and gas-proof chambers for women and children is a disgrace to civilisation and a mockery of humanity itself, besides being utterly useless if war really came. Let us abandon that way of folly and reach out a friendly and cordial hand to Germany without any nagging words or mental reservations.

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 France, and, with France and us, Germany would be a guarantor of peace in Western Europe. That would be something to save the bodies of our young men and to avoid the calamity of a world war. Through friendship with Germany the Eastern frontier could be safeguarded, better than by hostility with Germany.

France's military alliance with Soviet Russia is no guarantee of peace. It is no step forward to Collective Security. Our own military understanding with France is not a perfect guarantee of peace or a gesture of faith in international justice. It is the old balance of power again, directed against Germany and her allies, which led to war in 1914. It will lead to war again if we decide that Germany will and must be the enemy. What madness is that, which is shared by a Conservative government and the British Labour party, and all the little intellectuals of the Left?