26 MAY 1939, Page 6

The death of Ernst Toiler. in New York is a

heavy blow to his friends in this country ; many of them find it in- credible that he should commit suicide. When I saw Toiler last, a few months ago, I was astonished by the energy and optimism with which he was organising his great scheme of food relief for Spain. I walked with him through St. James's Park, and he said to me that the only people who could live happily through days like these were those with work to do that occupied their whole life and their whole mind. A few days later I read his last play, on the struggle of the Confessional Church in Germany against the Nazis ; I thought it one of his finest pieces of work, without the rhetoric and the inflated symbolism of Massen Mensclz, or the false poetry of the Schwalkepbuch. Toiler was not a poet, or a great dramatist, or a practical politician ; many will disagree with me, but I think his greatest gift was for oratory. A German who is well fitted to judge once told me that Toiler was the only man in Germany who could equal Hitler at his best as a mob orator. He had astonishing nervous energy and emotional force ; it was no doubt thes, very qualities, together with the great pain he suffered from his war-wounds, that finally broke him down. The Nazis will rejoice at having driven such a man, Jew, revolutionary, Kulturbolschevik, passionately humanitarian, to despair.