By Michael de itt Bedogere
Nuremberg IN order to take a fair view of
the Nuremberg trial one should begin, at any rate, by very clearly distinguishing two aspects of it. 1 hen onc can study how they bear upon one another to form the final estimate of its value.
The first aspect is the actual trial of the German leaders, preluding altogether from he conditions,
purposes, setting and so on. It will surely be generally agreed, even among critics of the whole business, that the trial itself was fair and reasonable. One has hut to compare it with the tragic farces being staged in countries like Yugoslavia to feel the obligation to pay one's tribute to the Court and its President. Not do we, tel our part, feel so very strongly the weight of the objection that the prisoners were found Oily and condemned on the basis ot an ex posl facto law. The moral conscience is a higher thing than those parts of its judgments which arc codified into human law, whether national or international. It is true that lawe, limited, codified and published, are the necessary basis of human justice since. in view of man's ignorance and fallibility, they are the only way of affording protection to the individual against the moralieations, feelings, and, above
all, hypocrisies and tapacities rulers
and fellow-men. But the Nuremberg court vos engaged on the unique itiA or trying men for acts which are universally regarded by decent and en
lightened men as gross crimes. The danger of condemning anyone for something that was not, morally speaking, a crime or of which he was not in fact morally guilty was in point of fact removed.
So tar then as this point goes it ought surely to be wholly to the good that certain perpetrators of deeds which must, in conscience, be viewed as gteat crimes and which every wise man must wish to see regarded by human law as indietable crimes. have been fairly tried and, in so far as found guilty, been condemned.
The Defects of the Trial
BUT what about the second
point ? This concerns the whole setting of the trial. What, in fact, really took place? The victors in a great war have tried and condemned (however fairly within the above limits) the vanquished leaders. 'That is to say. the arbitrament of sheer force has enabled one set of men to select another set or men to he tried for crimes. some of which have hitherto been viewed as part 01 the normal business of international politics, and in some measure almost universally committed. end others ot which, though commonly regarded as crimes, have also certainly been committed tinder the Orders of the leaders of the victors. The business of envisaging war. and consequently of preparing and planning it, as a means of enriching and glorifying one's country and, still more, as a means of forestalling the Malice of one's neighbours, is a crime for the philosopher as well as the decent man in the street, but it has been the ordinary job of the statesman. The bombing policy of the Allies, culminating in the use of the atomic bombs, to mention nothing cfsc, was criminal by the very standards ect at Nuremberg. But mattese go much further than this. A large proportion of the grosser crimes with which the Nazi leaders have been tried have been and remain as much part of the build-up of the tyrannies of Moscow and Belgrade as they were of the. tyranny of Berlin. And though an attempt was made to gloss over this glaring fact by careful dressing and the understressing of certain events, the fact proclaimed itself all the time to the 'whole world. To name only one obvious instance. bow could Nazi Germany be charged with aggression against Poland and criminal behaviour towards her people without involving Russia in an identical charge? (On this latter paint we strongly recommend readers to obtain Mrs. Dangerfield's Beyond the Urals, 13aird's Distributing Co., 2s.) Despite all this, Russia was one of the four judging Powers in Nuremberg.
The Effect will be Harmful I-IOW. then, are we to sun) up the value and likely effects in the future, of the whole trial, in the light of its intrinsic fairness, if viewed in a kind of vacuum, and of its. grave defects when it is regarded as a part of the process of a not very savoury slice of history ?
To us it seems that the actual
defects are likely no tender null and void all the efforts to stage a trial for genuine moral crimes as fairly as possible, and this for two reasons. In the first place, psychologically the defects arc likely to outlive the efforts of the Court. Posterity remembers defecte rather than virtues, and there will be a greater interest in Twilling the injustices done to victims than the eghteousness of judges. And this is ikcly to prove all the more likely if the chief danger of the future lies in imitations, whether in Germany or outside it, of the Nazi totalitarianism. But the second reason is far more important, though it strengthens the force of the first. Men instinctively expect that the higher one sets one's ideals, the more important is it that one's intentions should be purr. They will accept rough justice when no one pretends to more than tough justice. The ordinary criminal law is hedged by all kinds of conventions designed to protect the subject against the temptations to which the ruler is subject, and because of these protections the criminal law is accepted, rough as it ie, for what it is worth to society. But at Nuremberg the victors have broken with all precedents and presumed to judge others at the highest moral level. They have done so, not only in attempting to judge internationally at all, hut even more startlingly they have indicted, as legally punishable, acts which, though men in their hearts know them to be eriminal, have never been legally considered so before. It was therefore absolutely imperative that such a novel and high-minded indictment should be above reasonable critieism in every respect. Indeed it would hardly have been possible to get away with the ambition save by bringing all belligerents before a neutral Court. Instead of this the Nuremberg trial has been staged in conditions that are in fact a mockery of the pretensions of the victor. Powers, just as they are bound in the long run to defeat the gallant efforts of the actual Court itself to be scrupulously fair. We cannot hut conclude that it is in the highest degree tmlikely that the trial will in fact lead to the establishment of a genuine international law before which all nations and men are indictable for acts which in fact are morally criminal. It is very much more likely to set a precedent for a return to the primitive mentality which considered that the conquered are the legitimate prey of the conquerors and that in due course the conquered, commonly regarded as martyrs, would hew their revenge and use it in a similar way.
THE Trade Union Movement
has achieved much—indeed, one might almost say all—for the British worker, and it has achieved this by evolving a technique that worked admirably under an economy in which goods and men were plentiful, in other words, a buyer's market. Even so it may be argued that its technique even then, though very effective, was short-sighted and in teary an imitation of the capitalist trick of securing high Prices be cornering and artificiaily restricting wealth and dumping the surplus. However that may be, it is quite certain that the Trade Union carry-over of this Sairle technique of restriction into an economy of scarcity and a seller's market is net only nonsensical in itself but must inevitably seriously injure the nation as a whole. Apart from trying to totalitarianise the whole of the country's labour supply, it is reaching the absurdity of prohibiting the use of immigrant labour in the two industries in the shortest supply of men, coalmining and agriculture—the two industries that occupy key positions in the national economy at present, the first because it is the basis of nererly all industrial power and the one export likely to remain in demand for years to come, the second beeause it largely feeds us and saves most dollars. One can but compare the present mean outlook of the Trade Unions with the mentality that once welcomed the Huguenots and other foreigneis to the great enrichment of Btitish trade. For a long time to come Britain can safely expand, and the result under a Labour Government must be a reasonable measure of prosperity for all. But that Government's wisdom and courage will be largely tested by its readiness to stand then against this very real threat to the nation and its people.
United Nations Week rilHE record of the United -INations has not so far been such as to encourage the propaganda efforts of those who are organising the United Nations Week. It would indeed be interesting to know how many people there are in the country who feel that they can take the present work of the Organisation seriously. For once there must be virtual unanimity, since the Russians and theit. supporters dislike it for its power to enquire into their policies and the rest of the world sees little hope of its effecting its purpose so long as it is used by the Soviet bloc as an instrument of propaganda. But this is really a superficial approach. It is interesting to notice that Mr. Wallace in his very able and, at first sight, very plausible letter to Mr. Truman, never once mentioned the United Nations. And the omissions in such statements are always more important than the matters referred to. As in all human disputes, there is something to say on both sides, and we shall not deny that it is hardly to be expected that the Russians can be convinced, as we are, that the great and growing strength of the United States will never be used lot aggressive war. But the whole purpose of the United Nations was to establish an organisation which could transcend the position front which Mr. Wallace argues. As mud' as humanly possible was conceded to the Russian view of the U.N.O. itself so that the latter could at all events get a fair start. The refusal of Russia to abide by the spirit of the Organisation and work it constructively is convincing proof that Russia does not want to abide, in company with all others, by the judgment of any human tribunal, however much trouble is taken to make it exalted and impartial. This tact alone immensely weakens Mr. Wallace's argument which, in effect, boils down to the truth that no nation is without fault—an obvious truism. All this underlines, then, the great importance of not allowing ourselves• to throw up the sponge about the United Nations because of its record up to date.
U.N.O.'s record is, in fact, one of the strongest defences of the cause today of the Western world against Soviet policy. To defend the Organisation and to work for its development according to the intentions of its founders, is sound and constructive action, and it, is not eurprising that Cardinal Griffin is among those who are blessing the efforts of the promoters or united Nations Week.
" Britain Can Make It"
I N his article, which we published last week, on Mass-Production, Mr. Francis Campion did not deal explicitly with the objection so frequently raised against factory goods that they lack the artistic finish and beauty of design that' the handeraftsman can give. But visitors to the Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum must have been struck by the answer to this objection which it is capable of affording. The style of a good percentage of the goods displayed makes it evident that progress has been made not only in the efficiency of factory production but also in respect to the contribution of the designer. And this conclusion was strongly reinforced by the views expressed at the joint conference arranged by the Council of Industrial Design and the Federation of British Industries. Thus, Sir Charles Tennyson, secretary of the Dunlop Rubber Company, said he would like to see " the arts become a personal interest of all concerned with the management of industries in which artistic design played a past. The creation of ' design centres ' would help towards that." The stage was set, he declared, for a revival of British art, craft and design, such as had not been seen since the Reformation.
It is evident that manufacturers of this generation are alive to this aspect of their business and are concerned to disprove the belief that factory production is synonymous with ugliness. Since architects have been successful in conquering the new material and methods of their craft, there is no reason why similar conquests should not be made in other industrial fields.