Crush Germany ... or Else !
Smash the Junkers and Industrialists ... Destroy German aviation ... Supervise German youth, police and propaganda ... Or lose the peace—Vansittart
RT. HON. LORD VANSITTART
Following a career in the British diplomatic service Right Hon. Tjord Vansittart was Britain's Permanent Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1930 to 1938. His views on the treatment of Germany have given the language a new word,
“Vansittartism,” and been the subject of controversy in Great Britain. He is the president of the British “ Win the Peace” Movement.—TheEditors.
BEFORE attempting to decide how the Allied nations will have to handle Germany after the war, we must review the real nature of the
Germany with which we shall have to deal.
The German Right is, by common consent, beyond redemption. No more bloodthirsty body of men has ever inflicted more suffering upon earth. Their two chief categories are the Junkers and the heavy industrialists, together with all the vast body of ordinary upperand middle-class Germans who have subscribed to their ideas, whether spontaneously or in response to the intensive propaganda which these criminals have financed and carried on since the latter part of the nineteenth century. The Junkers are the backbone of the militarists. The heavy industrialists have supplied most of the money and the ambitions for economic hegemony. The German industrialists, particularly the heavy industrialists, have never been able to distinguish in their ambitions between the capture of markets and the conquest of countries. Germany has long been greatly overindustrialized—to the detriment of her neighbors and this overindustrialization has bred an insatiable appetite for ever more and more conquest.
If we are ever to have any peace in the world both of these categories must be permanently liquidated, both as a class and as a political force. This must be done by expropriation. The great landed estates of the Junkers have not only no economic justification but have led to endless abuses and corruption for their maintenance. The estates must be redistributed in smaller holdings. The heavy industrialist class must be removed from all contx*ol of Germany’s war potential; that is, from the class of industry that ministers to Germany’s essential war production.
If the.problem lay only in dealing with these two classes and their satellites, it would be easy. Elvery sane man prefers the German Left to the German Right. The record of the German Left is better, but not so much better. Indeed many of the German Socialists are siraply Pan-Germans bearing another label.
The German people went wholeheartedly into the JiSt Wtur It waa proclaimed as a people’s war, and as
such the German nation fought it. The German people, in fact, substituted for “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality” the principles of “Unity, Tenacity, Ferocity.” The people’s leaders repeatedly proclaimed that they could not stand in the way of the German people’s will to war; otherwise, they said, they would have been swept away.
Let me quote some of them; “The workers will not let themselves be outdone by the patriots.” “We should have been lynched if we had not voted the war credits.” “Even though Germany wished to subjugate Europe we could not have acted otherwise.” ‘*The working-class cannot oppose Germany’s imperialist development for that development is conditioned by imperious necessity.” “In 1866 it was said that the victory of the Prussian troops was the victory of the schoolmasters. This time they will have to talk of the victory of the trade-union officials.”
The German Socialist leaders demanded annexations as loudly as the Junkers. They went to Copenhagen to trick the Russians into the peace of Brest Litovsk. They rushed to neutral countries to hush up the atrocities committed by the German Army.
All Germany In Arms
HERE is another and even more convincing proof of the universal militarism that possesses the German soul. In the nineties the most enterprising branch of the German Peace Societies had only 71 members. At the height of the Weimar Regime—that Republic without Republicans—the total membership of all the German Peace Societies was only 35,000 out of a population of 68 millions. One of the reasons for this is that the German Social Democratic Party forbade its members to belong to the Peace Societies or to contribute to the pacific publication Das Andere Deutschland—“The Other Germany.” This prohibition was published in Vorwaerts, the chief organ of the German Socialist Party. That is one reason among a hundred why there was no “other Germany” in 1914 and none in 1939. It is one reason among a hundred why in both these wars we have had to fight the whole German nation in arms nothing less.
There is worse to come. The ink was hardly dry on the Armistice of 1918 before the German Socialists entered into alliance with theGerman militarists, and preparations for the new war began almost immediately. Anyone who opposed 3r criticized these illegal preparations was ruthlessly nurdered by the militarists with the connivance of tie Weimar Government. By 1925 the German military budget was spending as much on staff, fortifications aad artillery as in 1913.
The German public, of couse, knew this perfectly
well, and was glad. The Kiel dock hands were so glad at the construction of the pocket battleship that 90% of them voted in favor of it. By the end of the twenties and early thirties most of the German workers were well aware that German industry was being turned over to a war basis. No one can make machine guns and believe that he is making tea cozies. The preparations for World War II were laid well and truly before Hitler came into power. Yet there was no question of protest, let alone of a strike. Why not? There was no tyranny then, though it is equally true that in the time of Dr. Bruening there was no democracy either. The German workers in fact could easily have called a halt had they so desired. They did not so desire and must take full share of their responsibility for the consequences.
The responsibility of the German nation is incontestable. In 1925—to adduce more proof—the German Socialist President Ebert was dead, and he was no loss to the cause of peace. The German people could perfectly well have elected a really democratic successor had they so desired. On the contrary they elected that bulletheaded militarist, Field Marshal Hindenburg. In the elections of 1932, again, the Nazi Party polled 43% of the German electorate. That was an enormous vote, considering the number of other parties still extant. It is indeed 14% more than the British Labor Party ever polled at its peak. No one will presume to say that the British Labor Party does not represent the British people.
At the beginning of the following year, 1933, Hitler came into power. Within three months the German Left had gone over to him. On May 1, 1933, the German Trade Unions were participating in his demonstrations. One hundred and sixty-nine Trade Union organizations, with a total membership of five millions, meekly allowed themselves to be closed down without the slightest resistance. On May 17 the German Left voted for his foreign policy well knowing what it meant, for everyone had either read his bloodthirsty book or listened to his bloodthirsty speeches.
For all these reasons this war has been fought with greater “Unity, Tenacity, Ferocity” than the last one. The proof of this is that this war is going to last considerably longer than the first one, although by the bombing of Germany the German people have been given a taste of their own medicine that they never had between 1914 and 1918. Hitler is more truly representative of the German nation than the Kaiser ever was.
The German churches are not worth considering in detail as a moral force. Every denomination, particularly the Lutheran, is completely militarized,
for the Army has been the real Government o¡ Germany for the last three quarters of a century. The German churches will sometimes protest againsl persecution at home, but none of them has ever lifted j finger to protest against persecution abroad or the perpetual atrocities committed by the German Army, T he Army is, in fact, not only their Government but their god.
The same observation applies to the German Civil Service, to the judiciary, to the teaching profession, hor example, no less than 35% of the more prominent Nazis started as schoolteachers.
There remains the German Communist Party. Its record is a lamentable one. It collaborated with the Nazis to bring down the Weimar Regime and prepare the way for something far worse—Hitler. It was
violently hostile to the western powers, particularly to Britain. It was continually flirting with the German militarists who were bent on destroying the British Empire. Whatever line it took in internal politics, it was as nationalist as any conservative in foreign affairs.
There are, in fact, no solid or coherent elements on which anyone can safely count in postwar Germany. 1° rely vaguely on those who have been in concentration camps would be wilful self-delusion. The numbers interned in concentration camps have in any case been fantastically exaggerated by wishful thinking, and those interned for political offenses or opinions form only a fraction of a total fictitiously multiplied for their own ends by German refugees. (Nothing, of course, can exaggerate the torments of those who have been interned.)
That is the brief picture of Germany, and it will be seen that it is sufficient warrant for my contention that the cure must be national and not partial. We must remember also that it is a thoroughly representative cross section of the German nation—the rank and file of the German Army of more than 10 million men— who now for four years have been weltering in an orgy of massacre, mutilation, rape, loot and incendiarism.
How are we to handle such people? First and foremost we must ruthlessly destroy German militarism, both spiritual and material. The only way to do that is to abolish the German Army; to thrash it so thoroughly that it can never again revive the myth of German invincibility which was exploited by both the German Right and the German Left after the last war and played so great a part in bringing about this one. Unconditional surrender is therefore indispensable. We must be adamant on this point, for it is the only way of destroying the legend.
UNCONDITIONAL surrender stands first on the 12-point program of the “Win the Peace” movement with which I am associated. Here is the full list:
1. The unconditional surrender of Germany and of the other Axis and their satellite powers.
2. The effective occupation of Germany by an Allied Army and Air Force and the establishment of an inter-Allied Council of Control, to be maintained until it is decided by the Governments concerned to be no longer necessary.
3. The arrest and trial of persons believed guilty of war crimes, in the countries where they were committed. Neutral countries to be requested not to give * sanctuary to any war criminals.
4. The complete demobilization and disarmament of all German armed forces, including the surrender of the German fleet and Luftwaffe ; the same procedure to be applied to the other Axis powers.
5. The police forces in Germany to be regional and free from central control and to be demilitarized.
6. The abolition in Germany of all military or semimilitary training at any age in any form whatever, including the abolition of the Officers Cpj»-ps and Training Corps.
7. The evacuation of all territories invaded by the Axis powers.
8. The restoration of, or compensation for, loot machinery and equipment rem*°ved or destroyed. Also the restoration of, or conr^nsHtion for, commercial and industrial interests *°rcibly acquired or seized.
9. The effective co*lfr°l and, where required, the closing down of Gerrjany’s war potentials, including aviation in all its for™8-
10. No financial oans or assistance to be permitted to Germany or t° anv of the other Axis powers without the appro*a^ °f the Allied nations.
ft-ntinucd on page 28
Continued from page 4
11. The curriculum of school and university studies to be under interAllied supervision and advice until the re-education of the German people is assured in accordance with the principles of international good will.
12. The German radio and all propaganda to be under inter-Allied supervision for such time as may be necessary.
These points constitute a rockbottom minimum of security. They contain nothing unreasonable, inhuman or extravagant. If we take less than this we shall lose the peace, instead of winning it, and have the Third German World War in considerably less time than Germany took to prepare the Second.
I will add a brief explanation of some of these points.
Take point three, the punishment of the war criminals. After the last war the Allies weakly allowed the Germans
to try a selected list of the worst offenders against humanity. The result was that most of them were never brought to trial at all. Of the few that were tried, nearly all were acquitted. Those condemned received absurdly light sentences and only served a very small portion of them. The whole thing was a farce, and these brutes were universally honored in Germany. That must not happen again.
I am not greatly concerned with the fate of the more notable criminals, because they will almost certainly be murdered by their own people in an effort to curry favor when the Germans see that the game is up. I have my eye on the thousands—indeed scores of thousands — of minor thugs and assassins who will endeavor to slip into neutral countries, to lie doggo until the hue and cry has subsided, and then slip back into Germany to wreck what slender chance exists of any orderly government. That is, in fact, what happened after the last war. We cannot have the operation repeated on a greater scale this time. Therefore I
shall be wanting all these people, no matter what their numbers are.
Indeed the criminals include whole categories like the Gestapo, the Security Police and the Death’s Guards at the concentration camps. None of these people can be allowed to survive in liberty if we really want a better Germany and I do not admit the right of any neutral country to give shelter to this political vermin. The theory of neutrality was never intended to give to wholesale torturers and assassins a base from which they might renew their operations. The neutral countries will be wise in their own interests to keep such contaminating elements from their territory. If they are not wise enough to do this of their own volition, they will have to be requested, and, if necessary, compelled to give the criminals up.
In regard to point five, it should be explained that after the last war the German police were under the control of Berlin, were far too heavily armed and were used to train and swell the numbers of an illegal army. Many of them were quartered in barracks and were themselves also illegal troops in camouflage. We cannot have that again. The German police must be regionalized on lines like our own, and their equipment must be truncheons rather than rifles and machine guns.
Supervise German Youth
In regard to point six, Germany must be spiritually as well as materially disarmed. Every German mother does, in fact, raise her son to be a soldier, and the German women were even more deliriously delighted than the men when, during the interwar period, conscription was reintroduced in flagrant breach of Germany’s undertaking. The surest way to prevent the spiritual militarization of Germany is to prevent boys from being brought up as soldiers from the start. This will involve a strict supervision of youth and sport associations which have hitherto been nothing but a cover for premilitary training. The German idea of sport includes drilling, marching, scouting, map reading, rifle shooting, grenade throwing, and so on. All this has got to be ended in the new Germany.
Concerning point eight, the Germans must either restore what they have stolen or else replace it from their own resources. This applies not only to museums and libraries but to laboratories and factories; not only to works of art but to machine tools and industrial machinery generally. The Germans have destroyed so much, and so thoroughly, that they will be kept busy for a long time after the war working for others. After the last war they began forthwith to reorganize and re-equip their own industry for the next war. We will have no more of that now.
As to point nine, Germany must be allowed to make no aircraft at all, even for civil aviation; otherwise she will begin building military aircraft again. She can satisfy all her legitimate needs for civil aircraft by buying abroad. All the heavy industries that supply Germany’s war potential will have to function under inter-Allied supervision. The manufacture of all explosives must be prohibited. Military explosives are not a commercial proposition anyhow; commercial explosives, Germany can purchase abroad. The great chemical industry—particularly I. G. Farben which has been the backbone of Germany’s two world wars—must be put out of action in this particular line of business.
In regard to point 10, everyone wall be agreed that there must be no repetition of the “get rich quick” period that followed the last war, when some half dozen countries hastened to lend money to Germany at six or seven per cent and were deservedly bilked for their pains after the money had been spent largely on rearmament. The United States was far the worse offender. It provided 55% of the total, including loans to Krupp and Thyssen. This time there must be no lending without inter-Allied approval and supervision. Germany must in any case take her place at the tail end of the queue. Victims first. Only when they have been amply provided for should there be any question of financial assistance to Germany—and even then any such suggestion must be carefully scrutinized. After the last war Germany misused her international borrowings for rearmament. We will have no more of that either.
Taking points 11 and 12 together: German education must be placed under the supervision of an inter-Allied High Commissioner. He must have under him a staff sufficient to supply travelling commissions who will call without warning on German schools and universities to make sure that the vile old textbooks and doctrines are not reinculcated. Similarly there must be sufficient inter-Allied staff to exercise supervision over German printing, radio and films. These controls should be negative, not positive. I have no wish to dictate to Germany what she shall teach. I am only determined to see that she does not teach any more militarism or racialism. If t he Germans behave themselves no one will interfere with their teaching. Tf they misbehave the Allies must step in firmly with a veto before the evil goes as irremediably far as in the interwar period.
Wipe Out Old Poisons
We have got to help the Germans understand that there are more honorable things to be done than killing and getting killed. They will take a good deal of persuading, hut it can be done by pertinacity. If we do not participate in the re-education of Germany it just won’t be done, and we shall be cheated again, as we were after the last war. German education under Weimar became worse than under the Kaiser. We must participate in German re-education to some extent positively as well as negatively. The latter only involves seeing that the old poisons are not reinstilled. The former involves assistance in lifting the German soul out of the abysmal mire into which it has plunged itself for generations.
For this purpose a number of additional inter-Allied chairs must he created in the German universities. Except by means of the travelling commissions of inspection we cannot take part in re-education in the German elementary schools. Most of German re-education will have to be done by Germans, but not all. That is quite impossible. It should be added that during the first 10 years there will be an immense shortage of German teachers, for they have been practically all corrupted.
That, in brief, is what I would do with Germany after the war, and why it is necessary to do it. We must either make up our minds to win the peace —and in that case to do things that we have not done before—or we must resign ourselves to going slack, sentimental, spineless, as after the last war, in which case the next one
is not far off. To me, however, the argument that we have not done this or that or t’other thing before is just the very reason why we should do it now. The new world must be brought in by new measures to create new men.
In an early issue Maclean’s will present the views of an outstanding commentator who believes that “Vansittartism” instead of bringing peace would sow the seeds of future wars.