10 FEBRUARY 1961, Page 13

SIR, -- -While I agree in principle with Sarah Gain- ham's analysis

of the actions of individuals in Hitler's Germany, she has surely Misconstrued the basic reasons behind such periodic outbursts by apparently civilised people. The crimes were indeed perpetrated by human beings who had gone mad and were in the grip ota mad machine of their own making. However, the motivating force behind these occurrences lies more specifically in the national character rather than human nature in its wider sense. The love of militarism, and willingness to follow the leader, whether good or had. are so in- herent in the German character as to make these consequences possible under such favourable cir- cumstances as having a megalomaniacal leader and weak neighbours. It takes more than a generation with a totally different environment to cause such characteristics to evolve to a more reasonable nature.

Such behaviour is by no means confined to Ger- manY. Another example is the recent atrocious manifestation of atavism in the Congo which occurred, not so much as a result of the inadequacies of the previous Belgian administration, but by the releasing of the controls of civilisation which had held these tendencies in check. Indeed it will take many years of efficient organisation and prosperity for such propensities to barbarism to he eradicated finally. There is a considerable time-lag between the Changing of an environment and man's adaptation of behaviour which must ensue, and a much greater lag before innate characteristics are altered.

Although the Congo presents an extreme and ob- vious example, there are many instances of unusual behaviour which can be attributed to normally latent facets of racial, as opposed to human, nature.— Yours faithfully.

Pembroke College. Cambridge J. It. JONES