two later in London, had already come to Paris when I was there on a brief visit last week.
Many of the trees in the streets already had their first early leaves, and ornamental shrubs were in full bloom. The thermometer was registering temperatures such as this country had not known since last summer and the atmosphere, particularly in the crowded little hack streets, was heavy and enervating.
The city's walls had come out in a rash of large posters which announced a great demonstration at which Jacques Duclos, the Communist leader, was to be the principal speaker.
The sun had persuaded many of the women and girls to promenade in colourful frocks, and families sat outside sipping their wine late into the evening.
BUT in the dingy, shabby, sunless building in the Boulevard Raspail which the Vietnamese Catholics of Paris use as their centre it was still winter.
A load of several boxes of butter which arrived from a relief organisation in America whilst I was there brought with them a ray of sunshine for a moment. but for Fr. Tian Tbanh Ciian. who is over here in Europe raising money for the relief of his country's refugees. the clouds are dark indeed.
Night and day he is conscious. as we too should surely be, of the hundreds of thousands of his countrymen who, penniless and homeless, have crowded into South Vietnam from the Communist North.
In particular he was conscious of the 400.000 and more Catholics stranded in the North who are anxiously watching the days go by as they wait to be evacuated. knowing that unless deliverance comes within the next four weeks it may not come at all.
For in one month's time. unless pressure from the West prevents it, the artificial border between North and South will be closed under the terms of the Geneva Agreement— an agreement to which the South Vietnamese were not a. party. The evacuation of the would-be refugees will then cease. and these people who by showing their willingness to come into the free world have revealed their distaste for Communism. will be left to the mercy of the Communists. They are our fellow-Catholics. The question of the humanitarian aid which the West can give South Vietnam is a relatively simple and direct one. It needs cash to increase the number of people who can be brought to safety and to feed and clothe those oho have already arrived and, as quickly as possible, set them up in new homes and villages. The political issue, which is fundamentally whether Communism shall be stopped in that decisive sector of South East Asia or he allowed to claim great new victories, should be just as simple and direct. Unfortunately, it is not.
IN another place where the Vietnamese in Paris meet together, over on the other side of the city. I asked: What can we in Britain do to help? "
Said one bright-faced, educated Vietnamese: " The British people, and the Catholics in particular. can help our people by their gifts, now that diocesan funds have been started for the purpose."
Then he added: " But the help must come soon if it is to be effective. There are moments when one franc will save a man whom later a million francs would not save. That is the position in my country now.
"Despite the appearance of sovereignty. we still do not have the true. independence you gave to India and Burma. There has been no clean break, and although good French people have given great help to our refugees, the old colonial interests still promote behind the scenes policies which hurt us and play right into the hands of the Communists.
" Cannot your people persuade the British Government to convince the French that they cannot continue their old 19th-century colonial policies? Can't they convince them that even in their own interests they must be frank and honest with the Vietnamese people and their Catholic Premier? It is only Britain and America who can do this—we can't."
Disunity fostered WHAT did he mean? The French paper Figaro threw light on one aspect of the situation one day last week when it openly stated that the Americans are backing the Vietnamese Government whilst France is backing the armed " sects " who are plotting to bring it down.
The Government is, of course, the legally established one which is led by the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem, who earns the respect of all who meet him.
The so-called " sects" are nonChristian, feudal war lords who at this of all moments are revolting against the Government. They Jevy their own taxes and raise their own armies. constituting a "State within a State which no Government could tolerate. least of all a new one actively threatened by Communist armed might.
So, instead of unity in the face of the common threat, we have Western-inspired disunity on which the Communists thrive. It is incredible but true that, despite all their experience of the Communist danger at home, there are still people in France who want to see Ngo's Government kept weak so that it shall be dependent upon the former colonial rulers, and who are willing to aid the pitiless Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in the North in order to safeguard their commercial interests.
That is why they back the sects. That explains, too, why the French motor industry has signed a trade agreement, right at the moment
when he needs economic aid, with Ho Chi Minh—against whose forces gallant Frenchmen were dying at Dien Bien Phu less than 12 months ago.
If the West ultimately falls before the onslaught of Commu
nism from the East, history will not
be kind to such people. And, coming back to where I began. if we abandon 400,000 of our fellowCatholics to their fate we, too, shall deserve no better.
SINCE last Thursday the Daily Worker, alone among national daily papers published in London, has been coming out as usual. For the first 1 I days of the newspaper maintenance workers' strike it did not appear at all, but for quite different reasons than those which stopped the other London papers.
There was from the start no dispute with its maintenance workers. Their wage demand, which the Newspaper Proprietors' Association rejected, was in fact at once conceded by the Daily Worker, who thought that thereby they would be able to continue when the rest had been put out of action.
But the Typographical Association, to • which the compositors belong, in the first days of the strike officially stopped its members from working. Then agreement was reached and the Daily Worker appeared as usual—but with an almost unparalleled opportunity to spread its Communist propaganda. It was an opportunity which quite naturally the Communists have exploited to the full.
When The first issue of the paper appeared last Thursday, it carried on its front page a picture of the smiling leaders of the unions involved in the Fleet Street strike, taken during a break at the Court of Inquiry. It might just as easily have been a picture of Communist Party trade union leaders at one of the party's industrial conferences. For they were Mr. F. Foulkes, E.T.U. president, Mr.
Frank Haxell, general secretary. and Mr. Joe Scott, A.E.U. Executive member, All three are prominent members of the Cornmunist Party and have sat on many of its committees together. They are old comrades engaged in a common flails Why were they smiling? The " capitalist press" was being hit, the Communist Daily Worker was being helped. The anti-Communist Printing and Kindred Trades Federation, to which the other print unions are affiliated, had been outwitted. their 20,000 members rendered idle by a wage claim which was not theirs but which concerned only 700 workers in unions where the Communists are influential. As Communists they had every reason to he smiling.