Page 2, 21st December 1956

21st December 1956
Page 2
Page 2, 21st December 1956 — CATHOLICS BEHIND IRON CURTAIN

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Locations: Warsaw, Damascus


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Could They Have Done Better?

am tempted to reply " Tu quoque ! " to Margot R. Adamson's attempt to present rue to your readers as a " dazzling emotionalist " but the matter is too serious and tragic for personalities of this sort. I would, however. like to answer one or two of her criticisms.

First of all I must say that I have read the Catholic Press very carefully during the past ten years. In fact, so concerned was 1 from the beginning of Communist infiltration into the Catholic countries of Eastern Europe after the war, that I collected a considerable record of both Catholic and secular Press cuttings dealing with this infiltration and its effect on the Church behind the Iron Curtain.

In these predominantly Catholic countries of Eastern Europe one would have expected a strong public opposition purely on religious grounds, and I am well aware that there was in most of these countries a hard-core of resistance by the clergy and the more patriotic elements who suffered a barbarous persecution because of it; yet there seems no doubt that a great many people accepted the ideas and promises of the Communist regime, and, in givtng the regime their support, acquiesced to the persecution of the Church within their own countries.

From my own records I could quote endless references to the Communist attempts to exterminate the Church and its priests. as, for example, this short extract from the editorial in a Catholic newspaper of 21.11.48: "Hungarian Cabinet Ministers, including the Premier, members of the formerly Catholic Smallholders Party and all types of workers' organisations are joining in the ' witch hunt ' against Cardinal

Mindszenty." Yet I cannot find any references to organised opposition worthy to be considered as a popular rising against the persecutors of the Church and its adherents. Communism had taken root.

Now, after ten years of Communism, the peoples of Eastern Europe are coming to the realisation that they have been betrayed, and that they have sold their birthright for a mess of unfulfilled pledges. They realise now that the Communist " Peoples' Democracy" is a sham; that the Soviet Union and its puppets have not, as they promised, given them a free-er and better life, but have, on the contrary, exploited them in a most cynical and selfish manner. I condemn not the enslaved peoples of the Communist world-they have been led into error and have known the limit of human suffering but a cruel system which can exist only in an atmosphere of tyranny and fear. The lesson of Hungary's travail is not hard to see, and people in our own country who are travelling the road to the Left ought to realise by now what lies at the end of it,

Margot Adamson writes that in the "crescendo" of my letter, I appeared unable to distinguish between the friends and foemcn of Communist ideology. I suppose she is referring to my reference to Spain, and I must confess that I was perhaps a little vague in this, hut readers who are aware that certain enthusiastic members of the International Brigade who set out to fight for Red Spain finished up in Damascus, will know what I meant. Sir,-The letter of Mr. George A. Wheatley about " the Com

munist satellite chickens . . coming home to the (Western) room ' could evoke indignation in a Central European, if he were not already used to hearing such opinions. As things are, it evokes in him only a contemptuous smile.

It is not my intention to try to convince Mr. Wheatley. I wish only to point out a few things.

Mr. Wheatley writes : " We did not impose Communism on the Hungarians, the Bulgarians, the Poles and all the other Catholic peoples of Eastern Europe; the tamps went down in Eastern Europe without almost a flicker of protest." Mr. Wheatley has probably not heard of a place called Yalta. in which Poland was sold to Communist Russia just like a horse or a cow. He has also not heard of the Warsaw rising in the summer and autumn of 1944. in which about 200,000 inhabitants of that city were killed, and which, directed tactically against the Germans, was at the same time in fact an assertion of independence also against the Russians standing motionless on the other hank of the river.

By the way, the Bulgarians are not Catholics.

" The Soviet satellite countries of Europe must purge themselves of Communism . . . You cannot defeat ideas with atomicbombs, but with better ideas," writes Mr. Wheatley. It was proved by the events in Hungary that it is not enough for an occupied country to purge it of Communism the Russian tanks will restore it in the same way as they imposed it in 1944 and 1945. The struggle against Soviet tanks is not a struggle of ideas.

It is a matter of future historical investigation to find out what has made the Hungarians to undertake such a rising just now and if at the base of this rising there were or were not some illusions about getting at least diplomatic Western

help. One thing is clear : this rising, however splendid and herioc, was unnecessary, in the same way as a lost battle is always unnecessary. It is a strategical mistake to think that the satellite countries can purge themselves of Communism unhelped, and they should not be encouraged to try. Such encouragements are at least irresponsible, and if they are done, for example, through broadcasting, they are quite criminal.

The battle of ideas has been lost by Communism in Central Europe, penhaps with the exception, to some extent, of Eastern Germany and of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia, right from the beginning. In fact, without Russian tanks, there would be no battle of ideas at all.

On August 26 this year 1.500,000 Polish pilgrims, headed by 1,000 priests, gathered at the shrine of Our Lady in Czestechowa and to the greatest part received Holy Communion. One million and a half pilgrims on one day only, and only to one shrine. without transport facilities, to a great part on foot and sleeping in the open. orby permission of the local bishop -on the floor in Czestochowa churches-in a country of 27 million inhabitants. Is there any need for a further proof that the battle of ideas in Poland has not been won by the Communists ?

Jedrzej Glertych, 16, Belmont Road, N.I.

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