Carries Little Weight
THE RENEWAL OF THE UNJUST PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS IN GERMANY IS NOT ONLY A SIN AGAINST JUSTICE, BUT A DIRECT BLOW AT THE FOUNDATION OF EUROPEAN CIVILISATION.
Englishmen, and English Jewry, cannot, however, be content to record their pious indignation and thank God they are not Germans We have all of us the duty to see how far we share in the responsibility for these injustices and history will judge that our responsibility is far from' light.
Twenty-five years ago actions such as those of the German government would have been impossible. The world was still civilised. Traces of civilisation survived the war of 1914-18. When the League of Nations was formed many • • liberal-minded Englishmen, and By notably Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, the dis tinguished author of A History of DOUGLAS Europe, urged that membership of the League should be confined to nations JERROLD
observing certain minimum standards of civilised behaviour. • •
IMMORALITY ALL ROUND Debasement of Europe
Unfortunately for Christian civilisation no objective recognition of this principle was agreed upon, except in so far as Article 25e of the Covenant (" The Members of thin League will endeavour to secure and maintain fair and humane conditions of labour") can be'read as forbidding slavery. It can be so read, but in view of the League's admission of Liberia in 1920, that Article must be regarded as having been a dead letter from the start.
Nevertheless it was unquestionably within the minds of the authors of the Covenant that some standards should be asserted. Neither Russia nor Mexico was a member of the League for many years; Germany was only to be admitted when (so it was recorded) she had purged her offences against international morality.
As the years drew on, these fine conceptions faded. In 1923 Abyssinia, the largest slave-owning and slave-trading state in the world, was admitted to the League. in the face of British protests which were not, however, made effective. The admission of Abyssinia was insisted upon, paradoxically enough, by Italy, with a view to preventing British expansion in that quarter. in other words, by 1923 the majority of the great Powers who controlled the League were occupied in using that idealistic organisation not to promote the reign of peace and justice on earth but as a counter in the game of power-politics.
In 1931 Mexico, which was engaged in an active and cruel persecution of the Church, was similarly admitted to the League. Turkey was admitted in 1932 and two years later Russia followed. Germany, admitted in 1926, had by then given notice of withdrawal. Long before that date we had resumed formal (and, under the Labour Government actively friendly) relations with Russia, despite the continued denial of the most elementary civil and religious liberties and the continued practice of mass massacre on a vast scale.
Impartial, and even sympathetic, observers have commented on the decline in the tone of international morality which followed the arrival of the astute Mr. LitvinoffsFinkelstein at Geneva. Since 1934 the decline in standards of decency in the public life of Europe has been uninterrupted. All nations without exception have seen only what they wanted to see.
APPLAUSE IN SPAIN Indignation in Germany
They have reserved their moral indignation for their political enemies, and have been at best indifferent, at worst actively tolerant, of the iniquities perpetrated by their friends. The first active and ruthless persecution of Christianity in Western Europe has been received with roars of applause throughout England and France, yet the cheap and insincere sophistries with which the German Government disclaims responsibility for the outrages on Jewish property last week are not only in substance but quite literally the same as those employed by the so-called Spanish government and their apologists to excuse the wholesale desecration of churches and the mass slaughter of thousands of priests, monks and nuns.
These perpetrators of and sympathisers with persecution are today ridiculing with clever and justified rhetoric the " defence " offered by the Nazi leaders. In doing so, they are repeating point by point and word by word the arguments vainly addressed to them day after day from Catholic platforms exposing the impudent disclaimers of the Valencia government.
For two years they have shown no pity for ,the martyrdom of Spain; now they are asking for pity themselves, and they will receive it from Catholics as well as Protestants in full measure.
Certainly the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. When we are asked to go on to their platforms and protest against this sin against justice, we shall go. Meanwhile Mr. Barnard Baruch signalises his detestation of persecution by a large donation to the American combatants in the International Brigade.
These things must be said and remembered, for if our protests to Germany are to have any effect beyond increasing the severity of the persecution, there must be a change of heart in our people. Protests which are transparently prejudiced will avail nothing. Only those who condemn persecution as such, irrespective of the creed or politics of the persecuted, have any moral claim to be heard. It is because our hands are not clean that we are powerless to prevent these things, It is as it was with German rearmament and with nonintervention. We have not persecuted ourselves; if we did not disarm we did not effectively re-arm ourselves; but we sought
the best of both worlds. We sheltered behind the bayonets of France and watched the Disarmament Conference peter out in inanition. We shut our eyes while France poured men and munitions across the Pyrenees to bolster up the tottering struc
ture of Government Spain. In this way we hoped to achieve safety while preserving our right to stand for the sanctity of treaties and the sacred principle of nonintervention.
The first round went against us because the mass murders in Russia, while they left our earnest liberals unmoved, had a different effect on the Russian people, whose discontent and disorganisation has now reached such heights that Russia is incapable of any effective foreign intervention. That is the nemesis which follows on the toleration of evil every bit as swiftly as it follows on its practice. Today the new persecutions in Germany may seem to mark the triumph of might over law. But the ultimate effect, given one condition, will be to weaken, not to strengthen, the German government. That condition is that we do not seek to oppose to the persecutors of the Jews a bloodstained coalition of the persecutors of the Church of Christ.
OUR ONLY CHANCE Insistence On No Persecution Anywhere
If we wish to save ourselves, and to save Christian civilisation, we have got to cease now and forever from tolerating persecution anywhere.
The future of religious freedom is in the balance in more than one country in Europe today. We can only save this freedom where it still survives by suiting our practice to our precepts. We cannot single out Germany as the object of our zeal for religious liberty; we must condemn with equal vigour the other persecuting govern
ments. Unless we do that, our protests, however unofficial and however sincere the individuals who make them, will be derided all over Europe. Europe is still predominantly Christian and Catholic and will inevitably take as the lest of our sincerity our attitude towards the persecutors of the Christian Churches. And it is not enough, in this matter, to be sincere. It is necessary, if we wish to be accepted as a great European Power, to be intelligent. Those excellent and high-minded dignitaries of our Established Church who saw no signs of persecution in Spain must look again and find them before they are accepted by a sceptical world as authorities on the subject. Otherwise they will be met with the same polite but definite request that was addressed by the examiners to the earnest student of Sidney Sussex College: There was a young man of Sid Sussex Who said he thought w plus x Was the same as x w; They said " We must trouble you To confine that idea to Sid Sussex."
The Spanish War is perhaps coming to its end. Certainly the issue is already decided,
We have it in our power now to clarify the issue before the world by asking from General Franco's government their policy in regard to religious liberty in the new Spain, and also as to their policy in regard to the lives and liberties of those in arms against them. We should do this and if the reply indicates, as it surely will, a true appreciation of the needs of justice (and thus a policy wholly different
from that followed in Germany today)
recognition of the Burgos government should follow at once.
Similarly we should require from the government at Barcelona the full, free and unequivocal restoration of religious liberty in the territories under its control as the condition of our continued recognition of that Government as legitimate in those parts where its writ still runs.
In this practical way we can set an example which will not be lost upon the world.
We are still a great and powerful Empire, whose respect and friendship is a rich prize, perhaps the richest of all prizes, in diplomacy. We have not only the right but the duty (because we have the power) to use this in the highest interests of Christian civilisation. We have only to be faithful to what was a few years ago an unbroken tradition of respect for liberty to save not only our own good name, but the cause of justice among all men of goodwill.