Page 4, 4th May 1945

4th May 1945
Page 4
Page 4, 4th May 1945 — WAS HITLER .A GREAT MAN?

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HITLER perished by the sword

which he deliberately took up five and a half years ago Whatever else may be said for or against him, there can be no doubt that he, of all men, must bear before history the chief responsibility of having plunged the world into the greatest and most terrible of all wars. And that very same power which enabled him to make that ghastly decision would have enabled him to keep the peace while repairing the grosser injustices of the last peace treaty.

How far was Hitler a great man? In one sense he obviously was, but despite the size of his doomed achievement there is much to suggest that he was the instntment of the tensions of his times. his own positive contribution always being an evil, destructive and stupid one. It may be that without his particular brooding fanaticism. his sense of being the elected one. his stubborn will and his demagogic arts Germany would never have turned the tables on the democratic Powers, but this extraordinary gift was counterbalanced by an utter inability to appreciate the character of a good society and the minimum conditions under which the welfare and happiness of men, created in God's image. may be assured.

A dozen times in a career that must inevitably have been stormy and ruthless he had the opportunity of steering iI a better direction and consolidating. He never saw them. The mad Jewbaiting. the hatred of Christianity. he narrow pan-Germanism, the personal rivalry with Bolshevism, the insane readiness to court war when war was impregnating the international etmosphere, these were wholly and absolutely evil. And it was because of these fanatical absorptions in his own dark mission that there could never have been any real chance of Hitler becoming the Charlemagne of modern times. Yet he had the opportunity—just as he had the opportunity earlier of steadying the various international tensions which he himself had fell. obliged to create. Instead cruelty, credulity, arrogance, vanity and sheer stupidity drove him and his people. to destruction under the ruins of the Europe he thought he could save against Judaic capitalism and Soviet Bolshevism. Hitler was born a 'Catholic. If the faith of his childhood had guided the powers with which he was endowed, he might have become 35 great a beeefactint to mankind as in fact he has been a curse. So much may depend on that fidelity to little things of which St. Terese is the modern apostle.


TIRESOME as it may seem, there

is no getting away from the fact that, even in the hour of common victors', Soviet Ruesia remains the great world question-mark.

Observers s are beginning to ask themselves whether Russia has not defirritely gone back on the Yalta agreements in favour of the more secret ones of Teheran. If so, it may, in our view, be good news. The Yalta agreements never rang very true. We were told that the Big Three had decided to share responsibility in the many and varied delicate problems which must -aim the victors as the liberation proceeded and as the framing of peace was tackled.' But wG were not told of any common ground

or common values on the basis of Which such joint action could be founded—except perhaps the wholly negative ground of anti-Fascism, with " Fascism " left undefined—just as the positive phrase " peace-loving " was left undefined. Instead the world remained confronted with the spectacle of the world sharply divided b'etween the constitutional, Christian-based, moralist democracies and the totalitarian, anti-Christian, morally primitive, Communist despotism.

A very short time indeed has made tt amply clear that there was no poretied means of reisonciling these two attitudes in the " classic " case of Poland. The very words used jointly by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin have split into Meanings divided by two contrary political and moral outlooks. Meanwhile Soviet Russia, despite the almost painful Anglo-American efforts to maintain at least a surface contact, has entrenched herself more deeply than ever behind her own expanding cordon sanirah e. making her own political decisions in territories occupied by her armies. signing her own treaties with her own chosen puppet governments, refusing admission to any Allied observers and correspondents. The only break in this harsh facade has been the presence of M. Molotov in San Fomeisco—and it has not been revealed why the Russian Foreign Minister was finally sent to America sifter the earlier negative decision. It may be that Russia was tactfully and diplomatically informed that two could play at this game—and Russia badly needs big credits) Towards a Real Moral Understanding IT is certainly not a satisfactory pie1 turf; and yet we think that it may offer the world greater hopes than a crust of verbal agreement beneath which lies a deep void.

In apparently' far more promising circumstances the last peace treaty with its eagerly acclaimed League of Nations collapsed within a few years That collapse was due to sharp differences and disagreements behind a show of Christian moral phrases and ideals. The moral unity was never founded in the rock of common con

cnmmon dogma, about the nature of man. the nature of the State, the natural end of human society. On the contrary, nationalism and divergent clam creeds were cutting deep across the world. •

To-day the divisions appear far deeper and more numerous: there is scarcely a problem of importance on which even verbal agreement can he reached. The most that can be done is to go a step or so forward in carefully delimited common action so as to avoid overwhelmingly disastrous consequences which we are ill no condition to face. None the less, it may he that after the long expeOence of failure. and faced by the blank spectacle of division, there are new forces stirring which can gradually achieve some undefined fundamental moral understanding hetween peonies. Certainly we think there is, despite the propaganda. a much more widespread common sense of failure and guilt foe the condition of the world. 0 far less ready disposition to rejoice in .succees and victory. In a word the awareness of evil is returning to a world that believed itself emancipated from stoli superstitions a,nd. maybe. even the

virtue humility is beginning to be exercised.

If this is so, nothing could be more calculated to kill it all than another bogus moralising international settlement verbally agreed to by evelyone. The existence of Soviet Russia may well be a blessing in disguise if it prevents the appearances of moral settlement where none really exists. Because of this. we think that an honest, temporary ad hoe arrangement. fundamentally conceived in terms of spheres of influence, may prove to be the more hopeful way.

We have never shared the view that because Russia claims a wide zone and insists on having her way within it. Russia necessarily intends war or progressive aggression. It is a danger, of course. just as the shaping of this Mlle has involved blatant idternational crimes that cannot be condoned. But it remains a possibility (we think a likelihood) that if the great Powers can honestly agree to differ, we shall see a gradual progress towards a new and much deeper understanding, political and economic. in terms of the developing post-war situation and even, maybe in terms that will he nearer to real Christian values than the hypocrisy. righteousness and pride which have marked the dawnist era. And this does not mean that it will be a comfortable, safe and soft period of human

history. ,

I. PEACE AND PLENTY" THE outlook as regards the food problem is becoming increasingly serious. Reports from Washington say that, though Colonel Llewellin and Mr. Lyttleton are nearing the end of their conversations regarding this " unsolved problem," as the Times Correspondent frankly culls it. " there are no indications of any result to their discussions." Food, declares the same report, continues to be the prime problem in America, where a meat shortage is expected in 60 days.

A devastated Germany increases the

acuteness of the situation. As in France and elsewhere the destruction of the means for transport adds greatly to the serioesness of the position. Cities. cut off from the countryside which formerly supplied them, are helpless. The dependence of urban populations on agriculture for the very means of life is now made plain to all. And to the need of food must be added those other basic requirements—housing and fuel. A top-heavy civilisation is thus eoznpelled to come down to ths basement.

• The effort to secure plenty for all in the months to come goes on parallel to that directed at San Francisco to the setting up of a Security Council that will ensure international peace. It may be round. however, that the two problems — peace and plenty — will merge. The food situation may be; come so -acute as to throw into the shade even the deliberations of statesmen in the Pacific city. If that should be the case, the priority given to the question of fighting famine may prove to be of powerful assistance in estabtishing international relations on a proper footing. It will offer goodwill between peoples a concrete occasion for exercising itself. Co-operation in meet' ing she world shortage would have a more practical effect than could any . organisation dedicated to an abstract peace. .A creative, constructive and sacrificial effort to repair the damage that has been wrought by war would lay the surest foundation for future international amity.

HUMANITARIAN ISM VERSUS DEMOCRACY AN epidemic of cholera has broken out in Calcutta. During the week which ended April 21 there were, besides 400 deaths from smallpox and .30 from melaria, nearly 200 deaths from -this scourge. The seriousness of the situation is increased by the city's importance as a military base for both British and Americans and because It is the largest transit and leave centre for troops of the Allied Command in South-East Asia.

The severity of the outbreak is attributed to " the general overcrowding. the filthy living conditiens in the slums, and the absence of a decent standard of living in any part of the city." And these conditions, it is alleged, are largely due to the fact that the administration of Calcutta's elected council over a period of many years has been slack so that there is to-day a lack of men and equipment adequate to meet sthe situation.

Hence hats arisen a problem which those who deal in catch-words may find difficult of solution The Bengal Ministry has been on the point in the past of dismissing the corporation and administering the affairs of the city itself. This would mean the substitution of an official body representing the whole province for the city's elected council. a change which. says the Times Delhi Correspondent. most people would welcome On the other hand. if democratic and regional scruples are observed. it may mean that the epidemics will spread not only in the city itself but to other parts of fndia. affecting both civilians and troops. British and American.

Humanitarianism and democracy stand over against each other as eonflicting ideals One may see here. in a comparatively narrow compass, an ops position which will certainly occur and recur in the days to come in the reorganisation of the world's affairs. There are surely occasions when the letter of the law according to the Scriptures of Democracy must give way to the spirit of that law.

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