Page 4, 26th March 1943

26th March 1943
Page 4
Page 4, 26th March 1943 — THE PRIME MINISTER'S SPEECH
Close

Report an error

Noticed an error on this page?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it.

Tags


Share


Related articles

Mr. Churchill's Review Of The War

Page 4 from 4th August 1944

Reflections On Mr. Churchill's Speech Catholic Profiles:

Page 4 from 18th May 1945

Notes And Comments

Page 5 from 1st November 1940

Imr. Churchill Fails To Make A Case

Page 4 from 2nd March 1945

Mr. Churchill's Most Astonishing Speech

Page 4 from 26th January 1945

THE PRIME MINISTER'S SPEECH

BY an unexpected coincidence Mr.

Churchill and Hitler broke long silences on the same day. The tone of the two speeches very accurately reflect the present feelings of the respective sides, the Prime Minister being buoyant and optimistic with his mind running ahead of the coming victory to the foundations of peace at home and abroad, the Fuhrer concentrating on his country's losses and trials, its perils and its desperate need to pull through lest Germany and Europe be overrun by the barbarian. It is interesting to note how in the course of nearly four years of war the outlook ot each side has reversed.

At the same time, if we are earnest in our will that Europe and the world be settled as a consequence of the war we shall not dismiss Hitler's words altogether, but try to see how the two speeches present complementary features. To the Prime Minister's threat that we shall " beat Hitler's powers of evil into death. dust and ashes,' Hitler's answer is that " we should be grateful to our enemies for bringing out the German people's natural instinct of ardent love for the:r fatherland, and for giving birth to the seething hatred of every enemy." It is all very well for us to try to make delicate distinctions between the more guilty and the less guilty, to demand punishment and to condemn Germany to perpetual humiliation. but the inevitable German popular reaction to all this is the stuff on which Hitler—or rather Hitlerism—feeds. Hatred and revenge nreed hatred and revenge, and no matter what may happen in this war, it is absolutely certain that we are diligently preparing the way for another prolonged armistice and another and worse war. It may not be a war against Germany as we know it, but if such seeds of hatred are sown, they will grow up andpoison tbe world, though precisely how we cannot tell.

CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TO GERMANY

SOME Christians who realise the force of this are none the less worried by the Christian teaching that sin and guilt shall not be con doned. They rightly see the vast moral difference between the position of the two sides. They know Mat, even if we are not blameless in our condUct of the war, there is no conduct on our side remotely resembling the Nazi treatment of the weak, the ghastly persecution of the Poles. Catholic and Jews, the concentration camps at home and so on. Can all this be passed over and can we shake hands again with the murderer and the sadist? The only satisfactory answer, we think, is as follows. It is commonsense that the masses of the German people are not responsible for these crimes in anything like the way in which Peter is responsible for robbing, torturing or murdering his next-door neighbour, Paul. And when we normally think of just punishment we are thinking precisely of freely-willed, individual crime. Even then, we hold the accused not guilty until his guilt is proved in a

court of law. So that we should start with the basis that Germany and the Germans arc not essentially unlike ourselves and will respond, not unlike ourselves, to different treatments. Hatred they will repay with hatred. Injustice with defiance and

aggression. Generosity with some love and understanding. This should be the fundamental principle of our war aims and our propaganda. By taking this view we associate the Germans themselves (unjustly treated in the past by their enemies and grossly deceived by leaders who turned on them as readily as they turned on others) with the proper Christian insistence that crime which can be personally imputed to the individual shall be dealt with according to justice and prudence. After the war, if conditions are such as to enable a genuine world court to be set up for the judgment of all properly indicted persons, from whatsoever country they may come. then the institution and maintenance of that court will be a great step Ott the way to international justice and order. But if such a court turns out to be an instrument of power (however disguised) and thus succeeds only in making what history will judge to have been a travesty of justice, it will be infinitely worse than no court at all.

If the Allies could rise to such conceptions and if the Prime Minister spoke in such terms we should in. fact have gone much further towards the defeat of Hitlerism than any military victory can carry us. And even more important the first beginnings of peace—at present wholly indiscernible—could then be seen. Funnily enough, Christianity works when it is tried.

FOUR-YEAR PLANS

THE Prime Minister's survey of what we can expect from peace was clearly meant to be an answer to those elements who seek to break the present national unity, at any rate as far as domestic politics are concerned. With great skill Mr. Churchill succeeded in cutting the cake in such a way that everyone got a decent share. The only trouble was, not that no cake was there— that was inevitable—but that very little that mattered was said as to how the cake could be made. This is the source of the trouble and dis satisfaction. Has the Government got clear ideas about its post-war planning, and, if so, what are they? We doubt, at any rate. whether the Prime Minister has. He h`as long concentrated on the war itself, and it was with obvious reluctance that he felt himself obliged to turn to a subject in which he personally is not at present greatly interested. We doubt very much if the speech will wear N%Cii under criticism. It was a series of promises to be redeemed if future conditions allow, while most of the positive statements were assertions that we shall not change this and that, e.g., our financial system and taxation. In other words, having revolutionised these during the war, we shall return to pre-war ideas as soon as possible. The country, we think, demands a very different outlook. It has learned that many of the changes forced upon us by war, e.g., the maintenance of full employment, even though it be uneconomic in the old sense, the proper distribution of spending power. the system of priorities in production, are good in themselves. These must be amended fur peacetime purposes, but not scrapped. There is no reason why the Government, sensing this public demand, should not work out a Four Years' Plan that would have some definite meaning to the man in the street and the soldier.

A GENERAL ELECTION

MUCH has been made of the un representative character of the eresent Parliament, and Mr. Churchill's promise of a General election immediately after the war was meant to meet the widespread criticism. But it is doubtful how far Parliament to-day exercises real power Policy is in fact being shaped by the Executive under the influence of experts and public opinion manifested in a hunched different ways. rhe whole story of the Beveridge Plan is a case in point. The question is whether the Executive is prepared to interpret that public opinion and meet it. If so, Parliament can be safely prolonged. Its members. for the most part, are obviously not standing for the views for which they were once elected; they are standing for what they believe to be the present feeling of their constituencies and the country.

No doubt the position is unsatisfactory. But if it is to be remedied, the time immediately following the defeat of Germany is the worst time possible for holding an election. Surely we can avoid the obvious mistakes of the last war! No state of opinion could be more transitory and unreal than opinion at such an emotional crisis. Despite the inconveniences, it would be infinitely better to hold a General Election, if there must be one, now after a rough bringing up to date of the registers and with provision for recording Ety votes of the Forces.

RUSSIA : A GOOD NEIGHBOUR ?

A CERTAIN international excite ment has been caused by a recent leading article in the Tintes which was interpreted as allowing a free hand to Russia in settling her Western frontiers for the establishment of a security in which Britain and America had a first-class interest. These sentiments have been repudiated in the United States, where relief is expressed that Mr. Eden does not hold with the Times thesis. The Times has published a further leader, which seeks to soften the crudity of the earlier language by insisting that some solution must be found to the problem of smaller nations in relation to the Great Powers. Defence and security, whether one likes it or not, must depend on the Great Powers, and there can be no return to the defiant neutrality of smaller States which will be eaten up by the aggressor unless satisfactory groupings can be made.

We think that the arguments of the Times are unassailable in themselves. Something in the nature of spheres or zones of influence must be established, and it is ludicrous to suppose that a great country like Russia (or Germany) can be excluded from its nattiest role. But where the Times and all our pro-Soviet elements are in the wrong is in trying to argue that Soviet Russia is a Power like Britain or America without either military or ideological aims as against others. This is to fly in the face of history. Anti-Bolshevism was no bogey between the wars, and evidence for Soviet intentions is written all over Bolshevism. The mere slogan " Workers of the World, Unite! " carries enough aggressive intention in itself. Moreover the Soviet policy in regard to religion and Christie:thy cannot but imply a dangerous hostility to our Western Culture. In these matters the comparison is between Russia and Nazi Germany, not between Russia and ourselves. Why is it that dangers that seem so clear to us when it is a question of Germany are deliberately passed over when it is a question of Russia?

We agree that accidental historic and economic circumstances may have played an important part in determining Soviet behaviour (just as we have always maintained that they played an important part in giving birth to Hitlerism), and we agree that under more favourable circumstances Soviet Russia could emerge as a good neighbour to Europe. But this desirable process will not be helped by blinding ourselves to the facts of oast and present and dismissing as a Flolshevist recent one of the major factors in history and one of the factors now determining the attitude to the Allied cause of very many in Europe.

WOMEN DOCTORS

A RECENT issue of the British Medical Journal contains an unusual letter by Dr. Jane Scott Calder about the future of women in medicine. She argues that the modern feminist movement has tended to reach for deceptively bright shadows, missing the substance. " Women are created women; men are created men." she writes. " Each has its own abilities. possibilities and obligations. In this age of ours the essential dignity and worth of a womanly woman in her own right and in her own sphere are being forgotten ... This dignity is 'violated when a woman tries to occupy the sphere which essentially belongs to a man, just as man's dignity is violated when he tries to occupy the sphere of a woman."

On these principles she argues in favour of changes which include the prohibition of co-education for medicine, that women doctors should administer to women and children only. that hospitals should be staffed entirely by women, and that there should be no birth control clinic at the hospitals.

We believe Catholics will generally admit Dr. Calder's premisses and that they should apply especially to so personal a vocation as medicine. On the other hand it does not seem to us altogether easy to point out the proper differentiation between men and women doctors.

Dr. Calder's letter seems to raise a real problem but it scarcely solves it. In this and other feminist questions it seems to us that the real difference is not to be found so much in difference of status and work as in difference of approach and interest. The woman doctor should have different values and it would therefore be well if she were trained in a different atmosphere from men.




blog comments powered by Disqus