Page 1, 14th March 1941

14th March 1941
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Page 1, 14th March 1941 — R. R. Stokes' Answers:

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Locations: Riga, Kiev, Dakar


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R. R. Stokes' Answers:


The CATHOLIC HERALD has received the following letter from Mr. R. R. Stokes, M.P.: Let me answer first the letter from 1 the general secretary of the " Sword of the Spirit " and the Bishop to the Polish Forces.

With much of this letter I agree, though it is, of course, not true that I have " declared myself against the most evident principles of justice and Christian love." I do not think these principles have been much in evidence in the dealings of the Poles with Lithuanians, White Russians and Ukrain ians. I do, however, heartily agree that Poland has the sympathy of all Catholics (including myself) in her struggle to regain her independence. I also agree that she has in the past greatly contributed to the culture of the world.

The essential point of the letter seems to me to be the statement that I " begin Polish history in 1918." Most certainly I do, in considering the events that have led up to the present conflict. If, in considering the aggressions that have followed 1918 we are to consider the varying frontiers of European countries during the last thousand years, we might find ourselves remembering that a Lithuanian King once ruled Poland, that Lithuania was about three times as big as Poland, and a great many other entirely irrelevant facts.

AGGRESSIONS Now let me consider the article that was accompanied by that letter. The whole of its historical references are immaterial to the point at issue. They give the ideological

background of the various acts with which we are concerned, but they do not alter the fact that these various acts were aggressions, any more than Hitler's case for a change in the status of Danzig and a compromise over the Corridor altered the fact that he committed an aggression when he marched into Poland.

The article begins by questioning my statement that " after the 1914 War Poland was cheated out of Russian and German territory without consulting either Russia or Germany." This is a plain fact known to everybody who has ever looked at a 1914 map of Europe. Until the end of the 1914 War there had, for a very long time, been no independent Poland. The resurrection of Poland as an independent State was one of the achievements of the last war and one which 1, in common with Mr. Churchill, wholeheartedly welcomed.

My point is that this new independent Poland was in fact created out of territory that (wrongly no doubt) had been in the possession of two great empires (again I link Austria and Germany in one), and that this creation was made at a time when both of these Powers were in a state of temporary but extreme weakness.


In that war Poles had fought on both sides_Polish friends of mine died for both sides—and I fancy I am right in saying that both sides had more or less dangled before their Polish supporters the bait of an independent Poland.

Anyhow, there was some, perhaps not much, but some good will on both sides towards the idea of an independent Poland. In planning the frontiers everything possible should have been done to make that independent Poland a country that could count on the good will of these temporarily weakened Powers when they should again become strong.

Instead, partly under the influence of the French idea that a brittle settlement should be toughened by as far as possible weakening Germany for all time, and again partly under the influence of the French idea of a " cordon sanitaire " against Russia, the opposite was done, not, be it said, with the full approval of this country, some of whose statesmen, notably Mr. Lloyd George, foresaw the dangers ahead.

However, from the very beginning the Poles (who will forgive me for thinking that they are better soldiers than statesmen) acted on the soort-sighted principle of taking what they could when they could, and " aggressed " by force of arms right and left beyond the frontiers that had been offered them after the most careful balancing of ethnographic, economic and strategic considerations by the men who were trying to bring some kind of peace to Europe.

HITLER—LIKE OLIVER TWIST Hitler's aggressions up to the end of 1939 were, one after another, aggressions against the frontiers laid down for Germany after the last war. Hitler, like Oliver Twist, asked for more. And so did the Poles, though their aggression began a good deal earlier.

First of ail, dissatisfied with their eastern frontiers—approximately those that have been known as the Curzon line—they made

war on a Russia weakened by revolution, seized Kiev and, after fluctuating fortunes in the war, obtained by the peace of Riga huge White Russian and Ukrainian territories from a Russia anxious at that time for peace at almost any price.

RiBuysiathtahreiracpr of aggression ereesio pnynintley made Russia future as well as Germany.

In the article on Europe in the 31st volume of the twelfth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica are these wise words: " The permanent peace of Europe in the East could not be secured until a friendly and pacific Government was established in Russia, and it was unlikely that any settled Russian Government would acquiesce in the complete separation of the Baltic Provinces which intervene between .Russia and the sea, or in the permanent cession of large portions of White Russia and the Ukraine to Poland, inhabited as they are by a population Russian in origin and speech." By that seizure of Ukrainian and White Russian territory the Poles contributed to the bringing about years later of the German-Russian agreement that freed Hitler's hands for war.

(Continued on page eight) Pre G. L. M. Thicrry D'Argenlicu, former Provincial of the French Carmelites, who volunteered as a Commander of the Free French Navy before the Dakar expedition and was wounded there, has now arrived as a plenipotentiary of De Gaulle in Canada. His official rank is Capitaine de Vaisseau in the French Navy. Canada is the one Dominion that has an " official observer " at Vichy—M. Dupuy.

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