Page 2, 25th April 1941

25th April 1941
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Page 2, 25th April 1941 — BOMBING OF TOWNS Is It Worth It?
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Locations: Cairo, Athens, London, Rome, Cambridge

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BOMBING OF TOWNS Is It Worth It?

SIR,—This correspondence is most opportune since with the British declaration about the bombing of Athens and Rome the question may become a burning one at any moment. I suggest that Mr. Peter Thompson's statement that the bombing of towns fails to advance tempotal polity is quite untrue. Bombing of towns has contributed enormously to the German and Italian success in enslaving Europe. The Allies failed ignominiously to rescue Norway because they were bombed out of that country without being able to make effective counterbombing of the German forces. Both Hitler and Mussolini have discovered that almost all men want security on the cheap, especially at someone else's expense. The bombing of ill itish towns, and more recently the bombing of Northern Ireland, have contributed towards keeping Eire neutral. This in turn has induced discreet Irish politicians and clergy to soft-pedal the Vatican account of the German efforts in nation murder and the suppression of the Catholic faith in Poland. It renders possible also the continued German efforts to recruit and train promising young Irishmen for a German invasion of Ireland, and to °lionise a Quisling party there. More impatient, too, Eire's neutrality renders the task of the British Navy immensely more difficult. All factors combined render the prospects of the conquest and enslavement of Britain and Ireland and the suppression of the faith in these islands much brighter. These are not bad results for German temporal polity.

On the other hand, the bombing of German towns serves to show the hollowness of Goering's boast that the Luftwaffe would hold Germany inviolate from bombing. Catholic opinion in Germany has always been brought up in the comfortable feeling that although direction of German polity from the time of Frederick the Great has been at heart anti-Christian, yet the full horrors of war would not be seen at home in Germany itself. So the bombing of enemy towns could be offered to German youth as part of that joy returning from strength which is the reward of the happy Nazi warrior. The R.A.F. have certainly helped British polity by dispelling these comfortable feelings, and on this ground alone their activities are as legitimate a form of warfare as, for example, the sinking of a pirate ship in spite of the knowledge that there are innocent victims of former acts of piracy aboard. The form British bombing takes is entirely a military question to be settled by the competent military authorities. If we can defeat Germany and save the world from slavery by means of bombing from the air it is our duty to pursue this line of attack. On purely moral grounds this question is only one more example of that blackmailing of reasonably good intentions by intentions professedly evil and antiChristian which has always been able to confront the moral conscience with many painful dilemmas.

E. H. STRANGE.

Rushden, near Buntingford, Herts.

Legitimate Instrument of War

SIR, — Peter Thompson's petulent outcry against our bombing of Nazi towns and cities—to quote Mr. Churchill's mordant phrase in his recent warning about Rome, " as and when convenient until the end of the war "—is typical of the out-and-out pacifist who prefers to be bombed to destruction himself rather than allow us to destroy the Nazi in like manner. It is precisely this attitude of mind towards war in general and towards bombing in particular which plays directly into Hitler's hands. He would like nothing better than that we should forget the intensely practical nature of our war effort through the upsurge of a moral horror at the whole ousiness of twentieth-century warfare.

It is ridiculous to suggest, as does your correspondent, that any question of morality is involved in bombing apart from the much wader consideration that the bomb, like the tank arid the submarine, is a perfectly legitimate instrument of modern warfare; and that it is this last which is in itself altogether morally indefensible, for it is simply mass murder. Your contributor seems to have forgotten that since 1914-1918 we have outgrown the nineteenthcentury concept of war as a trial of strength between professional fighting machines.

Modem war has at last become openly what it has always been by implication, total war: the imposition of the will of one people, whether embodied in a Meister, a duce, a caudillo, or a sovereign parlia

ment, upon that of another. It is therefore both logical and necessary that the people should suffer in the process. Incidentally, the widespread recognition of this sociologica: fact can be our only positive guarantee that war will be abolished or.ce and for all. Neither Kellogg Pacts, Leagues of Nations, or Federal Europes will be of

any avail without such a recognition. It is ow one hope for lasting peace in the futurj

Even by old-time standards, however, to

which this country so far still adheres, our bombing of the centres of Nazi war industry, communication and supply is at once sensible and legitimate. For our bombing has been and continues to be far more damaging to the Nazi war machine than is the enemy's often furious and generally wanton aerial bombardment of our population centres to the industrial war effort of this country The R.A.F.'s steady attrition ot Nazi docks. shipyards, submarine bases, munition plants oil refineries, aircraft factories—in fine, of the whole economic drive behind Hitler's " new order "—is having a cumulache effect which, like the ulockade, is turning the scales of victory slowly but surely in our favour. The Nazis realise this, of course, hence their desperate efforts to break our stranglehold out in the Atlantic. to tempt us by diversions in the Balkans and the Near East, and to seek some relief from the relentless and everincreasing " bombing pressure " of the R.A.F. by so-called reprisal raids.

If, in the course of the more wanton of these raids, our civilian casu tides are cruelly great who can blame the B.B.C. and the daily Press for pointing out that we, too. perforce cause civilian damage and loss of life? Your correspondent seems to forget that we at any rate do not attempt. as a matter of openly avowed policy, to break a people's spirit by the wholesale slaughter of its civilian population. Not that we are necessarily the more humane; but at least we are psychologically thc better educated

H. Rissus.

88, Napier Court, Hurlingharn, S.W.6

The Threat to Rome

Ste.—May I beg the hospitality of your columns in order to protest against the threat put out by the British Government of bombing Rome it Athens and Cairo are bombed? As a Catholic Christian I protest against this threat as being an outrage to the Church of God, a profanation of holy places and of holy things an insult to

man's dedication of his artistic gifts to God's service. As an Englishwoman, I protest against it as being a national disgrace, a moral and spiritual surrender to the enemy; for it means a descent to those very Nazi methods

which we are pledged to destroy. As a student of Roman civilisation I protest against itas being a blow dealt to European culture and humane learning. No conceivable military advantage to be gained by the bombing of Rome could outweigh the damage which would be inflicted on the whole human race. Rome is not merely a capital of Italy: she belongs to the whole world, and not to the present only, but to the past and to the fuure. We have an enemy to deal with whom no such threats will deter I The stakes in this desperate gamble are too high; and no good will ever come from the use of evil means. If the world is to suffer the irreparable loss of Athens, are British hands to add the

equally irreparable loss of Rome? The bombing of Rome will not help us to win the war. We have admitted that it is not essential to our war effort.

It would be a sheer reprisal, the abandonment of the principles for which we stand. How could a nation which committed such a crime ever dare to hope for victory or claim the title of champion of Christian civilisation1 it is the duty of every respOnsible citizen of a free country to do all in his or her power to avert this disaster before it is too late.

JOCELYN M. C. TOYNBEE.

Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge.

A Fighter's View

SIR, — May 1, a humble soldier heartily support Mr. Peter Thompson's protest against the present silence of certain voices and the so-called bombing (read " murder.") I have myself done my bit to drive off the messengers of death in London and in the West country towns during numerous blitzes, have seen the death and destruction uselessly caused, and then been filled with further horror with the thought that " we are hitting back harder "—by the same measures, I presume? Morality overboard, and no wonder the Creator makes us all suffer so much. Return to morality and Almighty God will deliver us from our enemies as He did in the summer of 1918.

ACK ACK GUNNER..




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