From Robert Speaight SIR,—I hope you will allow me to express my ardent agreement with every word of Mr Arnold Lunn's recent letter in your columns. His arguments summarise my own feelings with such lucidity and force that I have very little to add to them. But perhaps I may first say this. There has grown up among " writing " Catholics an attitude of contempt for the British Empire which not only seems to be without foundation in itself but likely to have effects damaging to Catholic prestige in this country. It is easy to understand how it arose. It was the Chestertonian reaction to the Kipling rodomontade, and it was in its inception, a valuable corrective to the Imperialism of the Boer War and the ignoble epilogue of the Black and Tans. But does any informed person seriously believe that the Empire is a nere mosaic of enslaved and exploited nationalities ? Is it an example of civilising rule which, with all its faults, other Powers might study with advantage, or is it an aggregation of loot from which our conscience had better be cleansed? I do not propose to
argue my own answer to these questions, but the matter at issue is surely not how much of the Empire we should give away but to what kind of people we • should surrender it.
I confess that I cannot see how we can come to any economic or colonial settlement with Germany at the present time without involving ourselves in indelible and irretrievable dishonour.
I would underline every one of Mr Lunn's conditions, with a special emphasis on the liberation of Dr. Schuschnigg and Pastor Niernoller. When the martyrs to liberty of thought and conscience are being multiplied daily by the sadists of Sachsenhausen and Oranienburg—when a Dollfilss, a Klausener and a Funder are clamouring for our Requiems, I am initonished to find English Catholics insensible to the forces of evil which are gathering for the domination of Europe. Like Mr Lunn, I am only exasperated when I find this indulgence excused by fairytales about financial conspiracies. Two recent conversations haunt me as 1 write these lines. The first was with the Bishop of Tanganyika, a Dutchman, who told me that his life work would be destroyed if Tanganyika were restored to Germany. 'me second was with the Provincial of all the Franciscan Missions in China, who was deploring the decline of British prestige in the Far East. I suppose I lay myself open to the charge of jingoism if I suggest that nowhere can the Catholic Church go about its business more freely than under the British flag.
With Mr Lunn and a majority of my countrymen I supported the Munich Agreement. In a letter to the CATHOLIC HERALD I urged that the Sudetens had a reasonable case for self-determination and that the perjured clique* in Berlin be at least given the benefit of a considerable doubt. That benefit was given and has been betrayed. Many people thought our confidence was quixotic; many thought it. cowardly. .We were never able to answer the objection that Herr Hitler's interest in the Sudetens was stategic — that aim sticks out a mile. as Mr Lunn has SDK from Mein Kampf, and runs through the whole curriculum of lies, cruelty, espionage, and assassination which has poisoned the soul of Germany and robbed Austria of her civilisation and Bohemia of its independence. Are Catholics prepared to sell the republic of Poland for a few months' respite until the new barbarians are ready to impose upon the rest of us their conceptions of honour, justice and truth?
say " new," but these ideas are ancestral. Have we so soon forgotten the Herr Professors of 1914? Have we forgotten Dr. Ostwald, who said that " Germany has reached a higher state of civilisation than the other peoples, and the result of the war will be an organisation of Europe under German leadership"? Or Dr. Haeckel, who " demanded the conquest of London, the division of Belgium between Germany and Holland, the annexation of North-East France, of Poland, the Baltic Provinces, the Congo, and a great part of the English colonies "? Or Dr. Lassen, who said " we are morally and intellectually superior to all men "? Or the Catholic, Erzberger, who seld " we must not worry about committing an offence against the rights of nations nor about violating the laws of humanity"? Yet these men, for all their clumsy vanity, were at least normal; their successors speak a similar language with the mystical fervour of a new and cruder Islam. I cannot understand why Catholics should imagine that any treaty made with them is worth the paper it is written on, or why concessions should be offered to a Government whose open practice and declared philosophy are so lethal to the liberties of the Christian world.
There would seem, in conclusion, only two logical policies towards Nazi Germany. The first is surrender. By this I mean that we give Hitler the hegemony he wants without exacting from him in return the restoration of Bohemia, the integrity of Poland, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, and the Baltic States, and the cessation of religious and racial persecution. In support of this two arguments may be adduced. The first is the argument of the pacifist. Especially as presented by thinkers like Mr Watkin and Fr. Vann, it has considerable force. What Fr. Vann, if I read him aright, would say is something like this: "We admit that a policy of surrender to Germany will Mean the betrayal of our friends and the handing over of populations, which we hold in trust, to the infamies of Nazi rule. It may mean the end of us as a Great Power. Nevertheless, the horrors of modern warfare are so great, the peril to innocent civilian life so continuous and deadly, and above all the methods of waging modern warfare so foul (and we cannot hope to escape employing them ourselves) that submission seems to us the lesser of two evils. Remember, Hitler is not Immortal, and the spirit of Christian Europe cannot, even among the Germanies, for ever be held in thrall." No one who considers the nature of
modern war and the precepts of the Gospel can lightly diem iss this reasoning.
The second argument which may legitimately be brought up in support of a policy of surrender is rather more subtle, though much less commonly employed than the first. It is the argument of the fatalist. It runs after this fashion: " We are now at the end of an historical cycle. European— that is, classical and Christian—man has played his part upon the stage. He must, in the destiny of things, retire. His successor will be simple yet mechanical, cunning rather than subtle, bearing only the traces of his Christian past. He will be without diversity or charity, nobility or culture. He is with us already in the Russian Communist and the German Nazi. The future is with these two countries, and since we cannot alter, we should not strive to deflect the course of history. We should lay down our arms." This argument, though I believe it to be contradicted by the new Spain, Italy and Portugal, in so far as these countries have been permitted to escape the Nazi contamination, nevertheless has some weight. Unfortunately, however. these arguments are not those commonly adduced in support of a policy of surrender—or "settlement." What is adduced is the plea that we must "do justice to Germany." One might as well seek to justify the Crucifixion un the plea that we must do justice to Jewry.
If, therefore, we are finally unpersuaded—as I think a majority will be— by the pacifist and the fatalist, we have Only one alternative policy open to us. It is intimidation. This, I take it, disguised by a certain degree of diplomatic urbanity, is the policy of His Majesty's Government, and this is the policy which I, in common with Mr Lunn, approve. I only criticise it on the score of imprecision. I should be comforted to feel that the terms on which the Government would co-operate with Germany are not less severe, and consequently less just, than those which Mr Lunn has laid down.
ROBERT SPEAIO HT.
University of Notre Dame, Indiana.