28 APRIL 1917, Page 16



Site—In the Spectator of April 7th there was published an article showing how the German people must share with their rulers the blame for the crimes that have disfigured the war. You may be interested in the reasons for a similar view written (before he could have read your article) by one of my sons from his gun-pit on the Western front :— "It seems, then, that we're to chuck it as soon as the Germans chuck the Kaiser. I don't agree that his people don't share his guilt. If English officers ordered our fellows to do what the Roche does, they'd not only be cashiered, but their men would flatly and absolutely refuse. Why? Because we've got a standard that every Tommy understands. It is often, perhaps, chivalry that prevents him from damaging women who don't freely offer themselves for damage. But, besides this, he knows that it is not the thing, that every one would sit on him for it, and so he knows it is wrong to outrage the defencelese—and he never does it. This is worth mentioning in view of what one reads in the newspapers about the Hoch° infamy being 'the necessary evil of war.' It seems necessary only to Germans, and no one has a right to condemn war and soldiering on such grounds. But with the Ger- mans, whatever the people themselves may hare been, the thing has been not only tolerated but encouraged. Do you suppose that the average German private (bred, mind you, in a German school atmosphere, Government-shadowed all along) can find it easy in his conscience to condemn what has been upheld by his superiors for these three years and even before? The fact of the wrong standard above means, I feel pretty sure, an ultimate wrong standard all through, just as a right standard above conduces to morality wherever discipline teaches men to look up for an example. Tommy knows that his officers, however impure they may be, are above certain crimes, and regard then as crimes. F.o, of course, he too regards them as crimes. But the Bache. I don't suppose he does. I mention this because I hold our quarrel will not be ended with the abdication or dethronement of either the Kaiser or the much-mouthed 'militarism.' It is a quarrel now with the ideals and manners and habits of the whole German !maple, and the few innocent must suffer with the huge guilty acquiescent majority. You won't change the people by removing the Kaiser. I'm all for removing the people themselves to such an extent that the ideals of the remnant won't count any more in matters of moment. If only the officers were the brutes and their soldiers moral paragons, the officers would have been deposed long ago."

In a later letter my boy writes :—

"Farther confirmation of my views is in the report of the way German nurses treated our wounded. If the women are like that. I see no grounds for supposing the men to be any better, and that is why I indict the whole people."