Page 5, 15th November 1940

15th November 1940
Page 5
Page 5, 15th November 1940 — NOTES AND COMMENTS

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PERHAPS the real moral to be drawn

1from the strong Irish reaction against the idea of using Irish bases for the campaign against submarines is that the folly or cruelty of generations back so often reflects in history on the children and the children's children of the doers. If British civilians and even children are now being drowned for the lack of lrish bases, Ireland in fact for nearly three hundred years lived in a situation of hardship and insecurity which English people are only experiencing now; and though pow the evils of earlier British policy are generally recognized thesear they have left is not so quickly imagined. if one turns back to mid.-nineteenth century editions of Punch, for instance, one sees how the complacent and prosperous Victorian society was content to see the Irish caricatured as ruffians and moonlighters. Even their poverty was mocked in their tattered clothes and in their priest-leaders with potato-jaws as something which in that genteel society seemed akin to wickedness. And in the memory of those living the Black-andTans meant something of what the Gestapo now means to Czechs or Poles. If memories of the past influence Irish opinion now in this way one can see easily the thirst for revenge against the German people which is being stored up by the destruction of Warsaw, the destruction of Rotterdam, the deliberate enslavement of the Polish people which recalls Cromwell in Ireland. The Germans are practising the policy which in the main instance when it was practised by the British was such a dismalfailure. The evils of Nazi fanaticism must have begotten another fanaticism which will probably demand an eye for an eye. The situation is now such that if ever German military forces -were withdrawn from Eastern Europe there would be a danger of a pogrom of Germans all too like the German pogroms against Poles and Jews. Recently Polish sources have reported nervousness amongst those Germans who are colonists in the lebensraum whose position without a German victory would be ,so unenviable. There is a sense in which, as Hitler said, German history may be decided for a thousand years, for if the German plan fails there will be masses who desire to turn those eighty million Germans into the Jews of the modern age.


THE two Members of Parliament who dared to beard the Admiralty last week in the heated debate on the conduct of naval affairs were both Catholics,

Mr. R. R. Stokes and Commander Bower. This was probably a pure accident, but it is not surprising to find that Catholics who are trained to think and act in terms of reason and fundamental moral principles should be among the strongest critics of muddle and inefficiency and woolly-mindedness whether in war-aims or in war-conduct. And it often happens that the kind of person who invites the superficial criticism of being unpatriotic because he refuses to swallow doses of propaganda proves his patriotism by insisting on exposing the mismanagement that is allowed for far too long to put a brake on our war-effort. In doing this he very often gives proof of a considerable degree of personal courage. Of Mr. Stokes' record of fearlessness of the powers that be this paper has had ample proof. It is good to know now that a gallant sailor has risked a very great deal in order to satisfy the public that all is well with the conduct of our naval affairs. Because Commander Bower was obliged to make references to his own experiences in order to make his point, he has been accused of airing a personal grievance. But this obvious risk also he took without caring for the consequences. In time of war it is only too easy for the Services to use the excuse of not disclosing valuable information to the enemy for cloaking their own deficiencies. All the more reason for members of Parliament to watch with a jealous eye for evidence of what may be wrong. and to use their privileges of access to the authorities to have matters put right. Commander Bower will receive no thanks for undertaking a painful job, but he knows quite well that what he has said will have its effect, and that if his fellow members follow his example some notable administrative changes will be allowed to occur.


THERE is something very vague in the A proposals made by theBoard of Education for physical training of all young people between the ages of 14 and 20. The " Youth Service Corps " so formed will, it is understood, get help from the War Office in the shape of experienced physical trainers released from the army, and through the release of gymnasia, halls and sports grounds for the purpose. It does not seem at all clear whether membership of the Organization is to be completely voluntary, or whether direct or indirect pressure will be exerted on young people Just leaving school or to persuade them to join. The main emphasis of the fitness campaign would, as at present stated, appear to have subsequent military training in view, and those who joined would presumably be made to feel they were " doing their bit " as much as do soldiers themselves.

There are some rather obvious dangers in this kind of scheme, for the emphasis on mere physical fitness at an impressionable age could, if abused, lead to a neglect of themuch more important mental and spiritual training, and neglect of home life—evils pushed to an extreme degree by the German system. Corporate bodies of young people must have some kind of ethos, and it is important to know what this is going to be, and whether it is intended to be left to individual trainers. This point will he felt strongly by Catholics, though the same objection would not exist 'with regard to physical training organized by schools themselves.

A further point concerns the status of already existing youth organizations such as the Y.C.W., the C.Y.M.S. or the Squires of the Knights of St. Columbus. These are severely handicapped, at present, by the lack of money to provide facilities for youth, and the rivalry of State-finanaced organizations with meeting places and money to spare would be severely felt. There would thus perhaps exist a danger that indirect pressure could be exerted on Catholic youth to neglect the Catholic organizations for

State organizations. All points to watch, these, while more concrete developments are awaited.


THOSE who listened to Hitler's Munich speech of November 8 must have experienced some surprise hearing him repeat the old story that Mt. Churchill is heavily interested in armaments' production and that this financial interest was the real cause of the war. That kind of thing is more in the Goebbels vein and Hitler, to do him justice, has rarely descended to such depths—at least not on a formal State occasion. The reasoning is, of course, a little difficult to follow. Mr. Churchill and his friends Mr. Eden and Mr. Duff Cooper, Hitler alleges, invest heavily in big armament and aircraft works and then force a war on Hitler, so that they may cash in on their inflated dividends, All that is quite obvious and plain sailing; a child could see it. But why do these people proceed to clap on a 100 per cent, excess profits tax which hits these industries so hard that many people by no means usually sympathetic to shareholders are beginning to say that the Government has gone too far? The argument is all the more extraordinary in so far as there are certain old, proven and reliable methods by which politicians who lack all sense of honour or conscience can make all the money they want without this trouble and risk. It is by using inside and advance information on the Stock Exchange.

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