11 AUGUST 1961, Page 15


SIR,-1 am grateful to Mr. Robert Conquest for repudiating the extraordinary suggestion that one requires a political motive for kissing Major Gagarin; I could wish that he had dissociated himself more explicitly from those writers who described the astronaut as a sub-human brainwashed slave, but perhaps the friendly wording of his opening sentence is good enough.

Nevertheless the facts remain. The proposition that every Communist is a dedicated enemy of man- kind is one that soon palls, and Major Gagarin was doubly welcome as a piece of evidence (small but tangible) against it. He was greeted, and rightly, for himself; but his visit did give an opportunity for a gesture of goodwill to the people (not the govern- ments) behind the Iron Curtain. We don't want to kill them. If that is 'neutralism' I'm sorry, but there it is. As for the Western Alliance—does nobody in Washington, Westminster or Fleet Street remember the Poles? They were our true and brave allies; they are now in the Eastern camp not because they chose to be, but because the Great Powers, including Britain and America, agreed that they should be. If

the Third World War has had its Munich, this was it. How can we honourably contemplate a war in which we shall kill Poles? The question is not a rhetorical one; it requires an answer.

DAPHNE SLEI3 3 Heath Close, Hampstead Way, NW I 1