Page 5, 24th October 1941

24th October 1941
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Page 5, 24th October 1941 — NOTES AND COMMENTS
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Locations: Moscow, Cronstadt, Omsk, Samara

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NOTES AND COMMENTS

LEARNING FROM A GERMAN BISHOP

THE letters and sermons of Bishop von Galen throw a flood of light on the arbitrariness of the Gestapo and on German ruthlessness to their own people suffering from the devastating effects of British air-raids. But we shall best thank the couragebus German Bishop for his Christian outspokenness by noting certain points which are constructive rather than merely destructive. The first is that a German Bishop can still speak in a manner which might prove awkward for a British Executive in wartime, let alone a despotic German Government. The second is that a German Bishop has no hesitation in speaking in the names of the millions of Germans, who, though patriotic, are far from happy about the policy and methods of their present Leaders—the Germans, in other words, with whom we should one day make a just peace. The third is that our airraids are causing a general devastation comparable to the indiscriminate slaughter and damage of the Luftwaffe, and that Christians must really begin to ask themselves whether this terrorism from the air is compatible with the methods of just war. The fourth is that the Bishop has eloquently pleaded that " justice is the foundation of kingdoms " and " the State which transgresses against the limits willed by God and that allows or occasions the punishment of innocent persons, saps the foundation of its own authority and ruins respect for its power In the conscience of citizens," It would, of course, be monstrous to compare in respect either of quantity or method the arbitrariness of the Gestapo with that of the detentions again discussed in Parliament by the Prime Minister on Tuesday. But the principle is the same in both cases, and the Prime Minister's defence that Parliament allows the detentions is no real excuse, Parliament can as easily as a tyrant tranAgress "the limits willed

by God." The right to impartial trial Is a natural right and every denial of that right falls within the German Bishop's indictment.

RISKING BRITAIN

THE general policy of the less respon sible Press in this country is to avoid every appearance of defeatism by presenting consistently the most optimistic view of the situation. That policy. in the case of Russia, has been suddenly reversed. Nothing that could accentuate the gravity of the position there has been omitted from the news given, And this despite the fact that we were optimistic enough when Russia Was playing Germany's game and Hitler's forces had suffered no appreciable losses.

The desire to help Russia as our Ally against Germany would appear in some

quarters to be mixed with motives that are not creditable. The almost hysterical demand that munitions be sent speedily, coupled with the suggestion that we should distract attention from the East by sending an expeditionary force to the Continent, betrays what might be interpreted as a willingness to risk . the Security of this country in order to ensure that of the Moscow Government, which is what the despatch of art adequate army to German-occupied territory certainly would do, and probably at our expense.

The patriotism of our extreme Left Wing has never been its conspicuous feature but it is a tragedy that it should now take an outwardly patriotic form enticing the support of many, when that patriotism, on analysis, may really mean the risking of Britain to save Communism,

RUSSIA AND RELIGION

LAST week we published a survey of Russian policy in regard to the Orthodox Church by an Orthodox cor respondent. We had hoped that this account would help to resolv: this vexed question. Statements in the article have, however, been challenged by our own Russian correspondent, who is, of course, a Catholic.

He writes: " It is untrue that • since 1934 there was a considerable and growing slackening of the anti-religious drive which coincided with the final establishment of the personal dictatorship of Stalin.' It was in 1930 that a change in the anti-religious policy took place when the Kremlin decided that the Orthodox Church had been sufficiently disrupted. In 1932 a Five Years' Godless Plan was proclaimed by Yaroslavsky whereby education and propaganda were to form the basis of a new anti-religious drive. Stalin's own opinion was proclaimed in a speech to a delegation of American communists in 1927 in which he emphasized that Communism and Religion were incom patible. The new cam pa ign having failed—a fact which was revealed by the cancelled Census of 1937—a new wave of persecution swept over the country.

l937 saw many arrests and liquidations' of bishops and priests of the Orthodox Church under the pretext of spying' and sabotage.' Only faint echoes of this reached foreign countries, yet such ages as the bishop and clergy of Orel. Samara, Omsk, Vladivostock. Cronstadt, and others, did pass through. Closing of churches assumed a muss character. many being destroyed. others transformed into clubs. cinemas, etc. I-or Catholics and Lutherans those years of Stalin's tyranny spelt certain arrest.

prison or concentration camps. By the beginning of 1939 only very few aged,

invalid Catholic priests remained in their parishes.

" The restoration of civil rights to the clergy by Stalin's Constitution is a deception. The notorious Yaroslavsky published a Companion to the Agitator,' wherein he explained that a minister of religion, until he renounces his " occupation,"' i.e., until he ceases to be a priest, and becomes engaged in useful work as citizen, is nothing but a ' nonworking, parasitic and loafing element,' and to become a worker a priest has to give up his ' priestly activity.' Article 12 of the Constitution, quoting St. Paul's ' He who does not work, neither shall he cat,' not only deprived ministers of religion of their food, hut also of all civil rights. and made Article 124 a dead letter.

" From the beginning of the Revolution, religious denominations strove to re-adapt themselves to the new regime. Patriarch Tikhon made a kind of concordat with Lenin, his example being followed by the present head Metropolitan Sergins. Protestants did the same, as also did Catholics to a certain extent, but to connect this with Stalinism is absurd."

It ASIA FOR THE ASIATICS "

1APAN'S intention of dominating Asia in the way that Hitler means to dominate Europe, so that between them they may establish two continental blocs. has a certain plausible attraction in as much as the plan would effect a simplification of the present complication of rival authorities in the East. There is indeed something to be said for the complete autonomy of Asia under some one leading Asiatic power. Such a scheme, worked out with due regard for the freedom of the peoples involved to preserve their own traditions, might at least secure peace as between one Asiatic power and another There is, however, one snag in the proposition. So far as the character of its civilization is concerned, Japan is occidental rather than oriental. It has adopted to a remarkable degree and with striking success all the characteristics of the commercialised and Industrialised West, Its domination in he Frist would inevitably accelerate the process by which Asia is losing its distinctive characteristics and coming more and more to resemble those nations whose interference in its affairs it so keenly resents, It Is Gandhi, the Dictator of India, as he is sometimes called, who represents, far better than the Mikado, the real spirit of Asia-. If Japan should succeed in estab

lishing its supremacy in the East it will he precesely because it has copied the methods of western militarism.

ANOTHER example of the way in

RACIAL PURITY

which a purpose originally professed may be thwarted by the means employed to realise it is afforded by the Nazi ideal of racial purity. The programme which started with securing "Germany for the Germans " has developed into a series of conquests which, if maintained, will necessitate the residence of" large German forces in alien territory. History, however, affords numerous examples of the way in which such a situation ends in the conqueror being conquered. Intermarriage, especially between members of the common European stock, is inevitable and, by this means, German blood would become as mixed as have the original Spanish, Dutch and British strains which fOrmed the racial foundations of the United States..

Moreover, the absence of any real religious sanctions for German supremacy beyond a quite fantaktic and incredible Nordic Myth deprives Germany of the one motive that might have been strong enough to resist infiltration. The one successful attempt to preserve racial integrity among a people compelled to live among other races is that seen in the his tory of the Jews, but, in that case, the religious factor played a large part, lp its ability to secure a genuine segregation. the Nazi philosophy is far inferior to the religious tradition which. however impoverished, assists in preserving the racial purity of the Jews. When Germans constituted themselves a law unto themselves and became their own God, they deprived themselves of the one authority which might have Made possible the fulfilment of their ethnological ideal.

THE RIOM TRIALS

THE indictment of French ex-ministers has raised shouts of derision nnel indignation in our press, whose present business it Seems to. be to pour contempt on anything done by the Vichy Government. The treatment of these political prisoners is. of course, attributed to Cierman pressure, which may he true. It is also said to be legally irregular, which.

also, may be true. The point that is missed, but which is really important, it that, as events have proved, the political gorld in which some, at least, of these mete were ieadiog figures was corrupt to the core. The subversive agencies of the Front Populaire were not only permitted but positively encouraged. The influence of Moscow was so strong that armaments needed for the defence of France were sent to Spain to help Franco's enemies. and thus, at one and the same time, to aid the fore6 of disintegration in Oar country and imperil the safety of France herself.

Conduct of this kind as much calls for the punishment of those reeponsible as the international banditry of Hitler, Mussolini and their associates. And it is far more moral for leaders to he called to judgment by their own victimised countrymen than by their enemies. The custom of indicting politicians and commanders who fail the,' country has gone out of fashion for many tersons, some good and some bad. But it is likely to be revived in days when moral feeling runs so high and the con sequences of mistakes are so grave. And whatever may be said about it, those who loudly call for the trial of leaders of the enemy are in no position to complain of the revival of trials of national leaders who have failed their trust. It is not moral to he selective in the application of moral judgments.




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