Page 6, 13th October 1939

13th October 1939
Page 6
Page 6, 13th October 1939 — First Thoughts

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People: Hitler, Rissik, Sencourt
Locations: Moscow


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Germany ,• Communist, Nai, or —?


SIXTEEN months ago the Japanese were seeking to outflank the defences which blocked the direct approach to Hankow up the Yangtse River. They had penetrated inland further north, up the Lunghai railway, and had almost reached the point in the valley of the Yellow River where the Lunghai railway makes a junction with the railway that runs southward to Hankow from Peking. At that moment the Chinese breached the dykes that keep the Yellow River within bounds and flooded thousands of square miles, drowning or rendering homeless hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of their fellowcountrymen, and forcing the Japanese to abandon their detour and fall back upon a frontal attack upon the Yangtse defences.

THAT was regarded with some reason as a characteristic example of a callousness in regard to human life scarcely to be matched in our own times outside Russia. But on another plane Hitler and Ribbentrop have executed the same manceuvre on an even larger scale. In order to reduce to impotence the Western Powers, which were guaranteeing Poland, they threw down the barriers that held back the Bolshevik flood from Europe and put in peril, not only millions of homesteads, but also scores of millions of souls, most of them German.

(It is to the eternal credit of Poland and of the smaller Baltic States that when our Government, certainly for no selfish ends, was trying a few months ago to persuade the Soviet Government to promise to march against Germany, they unanimously refused to accept any form of protection that involved the free passage of Soviet troops across their territories. We have to thank their clear-sightedness for saving us, as a nation, from the guilt that now burdens the conscience of Germany.) AND now that the dykes are down we are faced with a fearful dilemma. The more thoroughly we defeat Germany the more we facilitate the westward advance both of Moscow's armies and of 'Moscow's ideas. Alternatively, if we make peace with Germany with the Nazi regime atilt standing and the greater part of Poland still under its heel, we shall ourselves have suffered a moral defeat that will render us as a nation morally impotent for as long as this generation lasts, to say nothing of the fact that, as a buttress against Bolshevism, the Nazi regime is perjured and broken beyond redemption. In such a dilemma I personally can only fall back Upon the well-worn principle of moral theology that, when two courses seem each to lead to an evil consequence and in one case the evil follows directly from the immediate intention of the act while in the other ease it. is the incidental consequence of an act whose immediate intention is entirely different, then the second course must he followed. And in the present dilemma it would certainly seem that to carry out our declared purpose in this war, even if it has, as an undesired consequence, the furtherance of Moscow's aims, is an action of the second (and lawful) type, and that to give aid and succour to the pagan and lawless Nazi regime even for the ultimitte,purpose of stemming Bolshevism, would be an action of the first (and unlawful) type. Besides, the fight against Bolshevism is in the last resort a spiritual one; and, if we compromised with spiritual evil in order to prosecute that fight. we should be half defeated before the fight had properly begun.

ARE we, then, bound to go on fighting until a prostrate Germany lies like a doormat over which Bolshevism may march to the Rhine and the Alps? Is there nothing beyond the alternatives of a Nazi Germany and a Bolshevik Germany? Those arc, in effect, the questions put in two searching letters in last week's issue of this paper. from Professor Sencourt and Mr Rissik. My own view is that there is a third possibility, namely the controlled breakup of the present German Reich, as a result of internal stresses aided (if we are wise) by external encouragement and assistance given to those parts of it which by religion and tradition stand for European civilisation against the outer barbarism of Prussia. A Berlin under the control of Moscow has for years seemed to me as nearly certain as any future political event can be, but that does not exclude the possibility of a Catholic Confederation extending from the Rhineland to the Carpathians, leagued with and supported by a Catholic Italy, a Catholic Spain, a Catholic Portugal and (for miracles do happen) a France under Catholic leadership again at last. Can we hope for a further miracle of grace that would bring to so unmistakably Catholic a league against State atheism the backing, if not the membership, of Great Britain?

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