Should We Hate the Germans?

Beverley Baxter's December 1 1942

Should We Hate the Germans?

Beverley Baxter's December 1 1942

Should We Hate the Germans?


Beverley Baxter's

Perhaps it is a measure of the feelings of the moment that the editorial has evoked no protest. Instead it, has been accorded strong support from a people which is one of the most humane, tolerant and good-natured in the world.

THE Daily Express, which has the largest daily circulation and net sale in the world, has just published a remarkable editorial. Without any mincing of words it says that we should not only hate the Germans now, but that we should continue to hate them after the war. There is no suggestion that this is a policy for a limited length of time but rather that it should bo for eternity.

It’s true that a collection of faddists and idealists, including the Dean of Canterbury, Sir Richard Acland, M.P., J. B. Priestley, Rhys Davies, M.P., and a few others recently issued a pronouncement that we should only hate the Nazis and not the Germans. The announcement was somewhat marred by having been issued on the day of Dieppe and by the fact that some three weeks later the committee of the faddo-idealists announced that two of their principal members had resigned owing to internal disagreements. I met one of them the next day and, if he did not exactly hate his late colleagues, he gave the definite impression that they made him sick.

Putting aside this rift in the “good-will” lute or this split in the eternal brotherhood brigade, we are reaching an interesting and important psychological development in public reaction.

Here briefly are the two arguments. The idealist, claiming that he alone is the realist, says: “There is no future in hatred. Eighty million Germans are alive today and even allowing for the worst massacre in history there will be 70,000,000 Germans left when the war and the postwar revenge periods are over. Since international co-operation is the only possible cure for the ills of humanity we shall have to co-operate with the Germans. If that seems discouraging at this point in history, remember that there are millions of Germans who loathe war and regard the Nazi movement as a racial degradation. In fact are there not many Germans who are working against the Nazis now, incurring dire risks and even death in the process? It is the bankruptcy of the soul and the end of reason to imagine that when war is over you can go on hating an entire nation.”

No one can deny that such arguments appeal at once to the decency and the logic of mankind. There is a basis of hope in it and it touches the eternal optimism of man which believes that there is always a dawn and that beyond the horizon there is rest and peace.

What then can the hate brigade summon against such reasonings? They too claim to be realists, for the more extreme a man may be in his views the more he claims to speak the undistilled purity of reason. This is what they say:

“We have no doubt that there are millions of Germans who hate the Nazis and loathe war. The Nazi movement is so cruel and despotic that it must inflame resentment in the breasts of those whom it enslaves, whether they be Germans or lesser breeds without the Nazi law. But let us assume that Hitler wins the war, breaking the brave heart of Russia and conquering Britain. As Hitler returns to Berlin with the Allied statesmen in

chains like Ethiopian slaves, how many Germans will shake their fists and say: ‘We despise you, Hitler, and we denounce war as wicked?’

“On the other hand if Hitler loses there will be not less than fifty million Germans who will shout: ‘We were never Nazis. We longed for their defeat and counted the hours until this day of liberation should arrive.’

“It is very simple. If Hitler wins the Germans are all Nazis. If he loses they have never been Nazis. For such a people there is only one safe policy. Hate them—hate them today, hate them tomorrow and for evermore. Unless you do there will be another great war in twenty years when some new Kaiser, Emperor or mountebank rouses the sadism of this sodden race and leads them and Europe to yet one more holocaust of sorrow, shame and despair.” Which of you hearing the two sides of the case could swear that you would be unmoved by either— or by only one?

Which of you would say without a qualm that you subscribe to the faddo-idealists or to the haterrealists?

Reach Decision Now

IHAVE not raised this issue merely because it presents a stimulating subject for debate, something which the family can discuss after the Sunday dinner. I put it to you that it represents one of the most urgent postwar problems which will confront us and that it is our duty now to argue the case to its climax and to try and clear our minds for action.

Personally I subscribe to neither of the two policies which I have put before you in this letter. There is the gravest danger in the facile optimism of the faddo-idealists and there is utter hopelessness in the sterile attitude of the hater-realists.

Yet this much I would say, that there is a larger measure of sanity and security in following the haters than the others. The haters’ policy means an eternal blackout over Europe but those of us who have lived on this side of the Atlantic know that there is a measure of protection in darkness. It is not security but it is a defense of a kind.

What is more, every man of decent instincts must resent the untimeliness of those who issue a manifesto urging us not to hate Germans while young men, innocent of any part in bringing this war about, are ordered into the air or across the seas to kill Germans in all the insensate fury and hatred which is making this war the most brutal in history. To invoke hatred in those who fight and to wrap oneself in the white sheet of lofty idealism seems a contemptible thing.

However it is no use postulating a problem unless one can see some solution. I believe there is a solution to the German menace although it will be difficult of application and will take years before its effects can be realized.

It is time that the world realized that Germany presents a pathological case. We have to deal with a giant which has the arrested development of a child and a spiritual development that lags even behind the mind.

The child criminal has always presented complex difficulties to the police. There is no conscience to deter him, no sense of mercy, no realization of civic

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responsibility. Cunning and brutality are found to an abnormal degree but the soul is shrivelled and the wretched creature is little more than an animal. But in his hands the pistol will kill as readily as in the hands of a full-grown man.

Such is Germany. The instinct to kill is there, and, as a corollary, the morbidity of the German sees no future but that he himself will be killed and thrown on the funeral pyre to glorify a leader.

Suicide has always been rampant in Germany. Even in Hitler’s glorified army his corps of psychological experts spent much time trying to reduce the suicide rate among German soldiers. Nietzsche, proclaiming the philosophy of his people, preached that destruction is the end of everything, and that war is nature’s answer to the mad impulse of the human race to propagate itself.

At the end of Wagner’s “Ring,” after four nights of tortuous plot and surging music, Siegfried is killed and Brunhilde rides her horse to Valhalla as the home of the gods bursts into flames. That is always the German ideal—to destroy and be destroyed.

How well this creature of infinite evil, Adolf Hitler, understood his people! To stimulate their sadism and to create self-pity, to deny all truth but German truth, all honor but German honor, all justice but German justice—that was his plan. As their ideal he asked them to gaze upon himself, a man without wife or children, a lonely messiah with only a short time to live, leading them toward a glorious death in the flames.

But the German nation and the German people will survive this war despite their losses. What can we do with them?

“Open the Windows’’

}N JULY, 1938, I made a speech in the House of Commons after returning from a swift journey around central and eastern Europe. “There is only one chance for Europe,” I said, “and that is to try and open the windows and let in the fresh air from the sea. The nations on the continent are suffering from claustrophobia. The frontiers are closing in and if something isn’t done they will strike.savagely at each other out of fear, like creatures in the dark.”

1 believe those words will be even more true in application to postwar Europe. We have got to open the windows. We have got to bring sanity and health to the diseased mind of the German people. And until

the cure is effected we must take from the spiritually stunted criminal all weapons with which he could kill.

Hitler has shown the way. No people on earth are so susceptible to propaganda as the Germans. We, the United Nations, must take over German internal propaganda after the war.

The Allies should be training hundreds of experts now, to assume positions of authority in German schools, German Universities and on German newspapers. Broadcasting experts should be ready, publishers of books, editors, youth leaders, industrialists, preachers.

We must not only give the German boy a chance to live but we must teach him that peace is the great adventure and that war is sterile. Oscar Wilde cried out: “To cure the soul by means of the senses and the senses by means of the soul.” We must cure the German soul by reawakening or bringing into life the senses that have been drugged or have never lived. We must teach them that in honor and justice and mercy there is no nationality, that they are the flowering of the human race. They must learn that happiness comes from consideration for others and that the will of God is that men shall live their allotted span in service and not be destroyed as by a scythe.

German women will have to take their place in that vast world sisterhood of wives and mothers which should, in itself, guarantee peace. The relegation of German women to the kitchen and to the breeding of warrior sons has been one of Hitler’s greatest crimes.

The legend of the honor of the ; German army must be ended for ever. The German army does not kill Jews or deport workers into slavery. All the German army does is to prepare j the way for the infamous crimes of the Gestapo. Speak the ugly truth. The proud German army in this war has been Himmler’s pimp.

Two histories of Germany should be taught in the schools, the story of her artistic and scientific achievements and the story of her savage onslaughts on neighboring nations which desired only to live with her in peace.

Shame for the past, pride in the j future. Those are' the lessons which have to be taught to Germany. | Perhaps a good beginning in the development of shame would be to present every schoolboy with a volume of Hitler’s speeches.

Finally the Germans will have to ‘ become conscious of the fact that Christ came to save them as well as the rest of mankind, that the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are as the glory of the sun compared to the dark recesses of the Herrenvolk philosophers.

A gigantic task ... a policy requiring infinite patience and organization ... a campaign of enlightenment and firmness that will need all our will power and genius to sustain.

But is it not worth it? To hate for; ever can only mean eternal night. To trust the diseased mind to cure itself would be criminal lunacy. This time we, the victors, must be the architects of the Germany that will follow the war.