20 DECEMBER 1940, Page 12


Sta,—I am very sorry to see " Janus " lending his support to that gross perversion of history, the idea of " Germany " as the aggressor throughout the ages. It is, of course, an anachronism to speak of Germany at all as being this or that before the latter half of the nineteenth century. And it is in most cases an anachronism to speak of countries or nations as aggressors or the reverse till the end of the eighteenth. We should think much more often in terms of dynasties and rulers.

Even allowing for these corrections, there is no ground at all for singling out any German State, even Prussia, as showing any excep- tional tendencies to aggressiveness in the course of, say, the last four centuries. Obviously, there is not space here to go through the whole of the history of these centuries. But I would challenge " Janus " to do so for himself and to add up the number of aggressive wars initiated by the different rulers, the amount of territory acquired by force of arms, temporarily or permanently, and any other tests he can think of. If he takes the period from the Reformation to the rise of Bismarck and confines himself to the European scene, he will find, I think, that France comes out top by a big margin, Russia will also come out fairly high, and Sweden scores surprisingly highly. Prussia, in spite of Ffederick the Great, comes out fairly low, and most other German States lower still.

There can, I think, be no real doubt that the deplorable tendencies of modern Germany do not begin to show themselves seriously till the time of Bismarck. Even Bismarck did not carry them to the lengths that we know later. To speak of his " deliberately fomented wars " is a misleading half-truth, which ignores the readiness of his opponents in these wars to come more than halfway to meet him. I should like to argue the case with " Janus " in detail. But as this is impossible, I will only express the hope that he will reconsider the matter for himself, and not lend the support of his name to an attempt to distort the facts of history for purposes of propaganda.—I am, Sir, yours, &c., G. C. FIELD. Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol.