Page 4, 4th September 1942

4th September 1942
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Page 4, 4th September 1942 — NOTES AND COMMENTS
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Locations: Laval, Madrid, London

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NOTES AND COMMENTS

THE WEEK

IT may be that this week sees the • opening of one of the major battles of the war in which the fate of the Middle East will be decided. As far as one can tell both sides have been steadily preparing for a shock the supreme gravity of which is equally recognised. For our part we weigh in the balance the prayers and national dedication which are characterising this anniversary weekend. Surely there will be few who have retained any real notion of God's Providence who will not for once turn to Him in confidence and humility to beseech His protection. But for this prayer to be effective there must go with it the resolution to stand by God, not only in the major issues of the war, but in the less conspicuous national way of life.

SPAIN AND BRITISH DIPLOMACY

THE return to London for a short

holiday of Sir Samuel Hoare, British Ambassador to Spain, has called attention to the work he has been able to accomplish in Madrid. That work has not been appreciated as it deserves. Not only has such appreciation been lacking hut his task has been made harder by the suspicions frequently expressed in the popular press concerning General Franco's attitude and the sincerity of his professed neutrality.

11 is therefore particularly welcome to see that the Observer is conscious of the debt we owe our Ambassador and at the same time gives the Caudillo credit for keeping Spain out of the war in spite of his Foreign Ministes:s evident desire for a closer association with the Axis. The explanation of the fact that Spain has remained neutral, it says. is " that Spain's undoubted leader to-day is not Sumer, but General Franco."

An interesting light, in harmony with this statement, is thrown on the nationally representative character given to that pro-Axis organisation,

the Phalange. " Whatever sympathies General Franco may have for the Axis," says the Observer article, " he appears to be sincerely convinced that Spain not only should but could keep out of the war. There is reason to believe that in this he has the backing of practically all the army and naval officers who constitute such an important class politically in Spain. With significant foresight. General Franco has seen to it that all these officers become members of the Phalange. This has given him a say in the counsel of the Phalangist Party, which has more than once served as a useful check on the proAxis sympathies of Suner and some other Phalangist lekders." This diplomatic policy on the Caudillo's part, combined with Sir Samuel Hoare's services, have resulted, in spite of our alliance with Russia, in the .preservation of our friendly relations with this strategically important country.

THE GERMAN BISHOPS

IiIVE have great difficulty in follow

ing a passage in the current Jesuit magazine, the Month. The Editor, referring to the feeling within Germany, points out that strongest opposition to the Nazis comes from the Church. Then he says: " The opposition is religious and based on religious grounds; this means that it is limited to matters that are religious or are concerned with religious needs and principles." He then recalls the great pastorals from German Bishops, and warns: " But as far as an Allied victory goes, too much emphasis should not be placed upon these protests. They have frequently ended with an appeal for a German effort and an expressed desire for German victory." And after pointing out the difficulties in the way of German Catholics he ends: "None the less, it is evident that there are large circles—Christian and especially Catholic—within Germany to which an appeal on Christian and Catholic

lines would be very telling. This appeal ought to be stressed and extendheeeds." T

words can be interpreted in a good many ways, but none do we find satisfactory. Their most obvious meaning is that the German Bishops are good souls in their • religious " opposition to Nazism, but apparently they need a good deal more instruction in Christianity, a job which British propaganda is competent to undertake. Again it may mean that the German Bishops are right to interpret the word " religion " in a narrow ecclesiastical Christian and Catholic lines" may be good politics, needing from that point of view to be stressed and extended, but it has nothing to do with " religion."

We suspect that the writer finds it difficult to reconcile the legitimate and traditional patriotism of the Germans fighting for their nation with some of the Christian propaganda that is put out from this country, not least from Christians. Both cannot he right, and this complex passage betrays the fact.

ANTI-SEMITISM IN FRANCE THE news that fresh measures against the Jews have been undertaken in France will surprise no one, for wherever German rule extends anti-Semitism makes its appearance. But the movement is not confined to this section of France. The same phenomenon is being witnessed elsewhere. "In unoccupied France," we learn, " because of the small number of persons who volunteered to work in Germany, Laval decided at the end of July that the deficit should he made up by Jewish refugees constituting the first quota of 10,000 deportations." Apparently the refugees are being sent into Germany—a strange reversal of the process by which so many Jews have been expelled from Germany.

This procedure on Laval's part need not be attributed altogether to German pressure. The anti-Semitic tradition, so spectacularly manifested at the end of the last century, is still strong among a certain section of Frenchmen, and, in order to become active, needs no urging from outside.

As one might expect, strong protests were made, including one by the Papal Nuncio to Marshal Pdtain. Apparently these protests have been without effect.

The attitude of the Papal Nuncio, of course, is in entire accord with the Church's tradition, expressed in the most definite form by Pope Pius XI, who. supporting his assertion that anti-Semitism was condemned by the Church, added: " Spiritually, we are Semites."

LABOUR DEMANDS REVENGE

A DEPUTATION, we are in formed, representing the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party and the General Council, T.U.C., in an interview with the Foreign Secretary, called upon the United Nations for a solemn assurance that all who have taken part in the organisation and perpetration of War atrocities shall be brought to "stern justice " at the close of the war. Apart from the practical difficulty in ascertaining the guilty parties—and are all in the camp of the United Nations guiltless?—we have nothing to say as to the principle involved. As we have argued on other occasions, there is need of an International Court empowered to punish such crimes and to prevent their repetition in the

future. This is a mere matter of justice parallel with the principle governing individual communities. What strikes us as strange is that it should be those who have made themselvesthe spokesmen of a somewhat sentimental htunanitarianism who should have become vocal on this occasion. The section of the community represented by the delegation is that which, on every possible occasion, has protested against the cruelties of war, intercedes for condemned murderers and in other ways has shown its compassion for sufferers of every kind. Yet here it is in the forefront of those demanding vengeance.

AGAINST RACE HATRED

AMONG the signatories of a manifesto, " Against Race Hatred," is the name of the Editor of this newspaper. It should perhaps be stated that this signature was given with the caution added that the word " Socialist " in the pamphlet was objected to. Unfortunately there is no indication of this in the reprint with the list of signatories. The substance of the leaflet is, we believe, as to ninetenths wholly acceptable, and those who are seeking to fight against hatred, the growth of which is spreading rapidly even in circles dedicated to an opposite philosophy, deserve as wide a support as possible. The leaflet, which was issued by W. Cove, Labour M.P., adds six points of what it calls " A Socialist Programme." With five of these we agree, and there is nothing "Socialist " about them. They are (I) Real equality of sacrifice during the war; (2) the restoration of the land and its values to the people; (3) the social ownership of banking, power and trabsport; (4) the liberation of India and the Empire; (5) the abolition of National Sovereignty and power politics. The sixth demands " the establishment of a Socialist Britain as part of the United Socialist States of Europe, widening out to the Socialist Commonwealth of the World." As it'stands, this is so vague as to be almost meaningless. As interpreted by the more moderate Labour elements in this country who have the courage to stand out against Vansittartism, hatred, militarism, it probably means something not very far removed from a " ChristianSocialist " outlook, and it is this, we hope, that signatories support. But the words are patient of a totally different meaning, namely, that revolutionary secularist Marxism which is founded upon the same values as Nazism and which would not shrink from political methods conspicuous in all totalitaridn countries. We hope that the sponsors of this leaflet, whose purpose It is to oppose dangerous tendencies among British Labour, will make it even clearer that they are basically on the Christian, not the Marxist, side. Other Catholic signatories include R. R. Stokes, J. McGovern and Tom Sargent.

CASES have been reported in •••• which representatives of the Ministry of Food have, under false pretences, persuaded caterers to break the law and have then threatened them with prosecution. Similar cases, it would seem. have occurred in connection with other commodities. What makes the matter worse is that these agents provocateurs have, in some instances, appealed not to the cupidity but to the humane feelings of those they approached and have then threatened punishment for what was, though illegal, an act of generosity. Such methods are altogether alien to British traditions. They may be necessary in cases where police officers need to procure evidence for prosecution against strongly suspected persons. We are glad that Lord Woollon is as much concerned about the allegations as is the public.




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