From Lt.-Col. P. R. Buller, D.S.O.
SER,—A Cabinet Minister', who " helped he Would not be Misunderstood," Confessed the other day to a " tinge " (queiy, " twinge ") of regret for the destruction wrought by indiscriminate bombing, to the sacred and historic shrines of Germany; and for understatement, surely, tinge would be difficult to beat. Had he rejoiced at mere armament destruction one could have been entirely with him; bet dismay and horror would seem to be more fitting words than " tinge of regret " for the fate which has overtaken so many of the grandest of Christendom's possessions. With regard to scene, such as the lovely churches in the walled and isolated part of ancient Nuremberg, we already know the worst. Of Some, again, we have heard With modified thankfulness that they have been spared that worst. But as to what has befallen others, precious to Christians everywhere, we are left in total, nay, almost contemptuous, ignorance. In what state k Worms, for instance, that glory of the Romanesque: Cr domed and turreted Spires; or classic Bamberg, Marburg, Freiburg: or soaring Olin and Ratisbon?
Perhaps it was necessary 10 turn Cologne, "City of the Magi," into such an abomination of completest desolation that its rebuilding, even on the cheap utility lines which may alone be worth while (just think of it!) in the future world, would be impossible. Perhaps it was necessary to make of it an " example" (of exactly what?). But, at least, let somebody not a Cabinet Minister, a mere layman, testify sorrow for what has been done— for what it has been deemed necessary to do—to the city dearest to generations of Britons of all Rhineland cities, the city which was to its people " doyen alien steden schoin" (" beautiful beyond all others").
A city, moreover, not without its grateful memories for' those of us who spent some of the post-1918 years in its environment. They were kindly folk then, those Rhirielanders, not by any means the sort to be in sympathy with Narism, when it eventually arose and grew so evil, or wan would not have recoiled in horror at the murdercamps ; and in the score, or more, of years which have since elapsed, can they have altered much?
Is there not one of the many Britons who lived in comfort, case and amity in the Cologne of those " °comalion " yeare, not one of the croweing tourists, to testify real regret for the passing of the medieval glories? The Cathedral, we are told, still stands, gaunt in a sea of ruin. (One recalls the huge Sunday congregations at High Mass, men predominating, their singing taken up by late-corners as they hurried up the aisle, or gathered on the steps outside.) But all the other memorable churches, a score at least, have perished utterly—that matchless one of the Apostles, with its glowing interior; St. Maria inn Kapitol; at. Martin ; St. Gereon ; St. George; St. Andtew; St. Cecilia. . . Yes, they arc kindly memories. those of pre-Nazi days. which come back to one—the Opera. where many a Briton heard for the first time real musty—rides and drives into a radiant counoyside—pleasant days on the great river, with its Childe Harold scenery— visits to Beethoven's humble 0 Geburtshoos" in placid Bonn, or to magnificent Coblence and Ehreribreitstein. And—if a purely personal detail be not quite out of place—long, hot August and September days across the stubble, ermtsvard of the city, to the foot of the Eiffel hills, in pursuit of the partridgecoveys ; till, with the going down of the arm, a large red ball, between the twin Cathedral-towers the weekly holiday would end, and the cheery " guns" set out to return to billets through the quiet landscape. Like the Cabinet Minister II, too, " hope that I may not be misunderstood when I write these lines. I know full well that to Hitler and his poisonous creed is due this Nemesis. But, Sir, the tragedy. the. pity, of it alll P. R. BOILER.