20 JANUARY 1961, Page 13


Sut,—Miss Quigly is now going off at tangents 'like a fountain troubled.' Who shall blame her? After all, her first position was untenable.

It is no use lacing into me for writing a part which, according to her, 'even as good an actor as Charles Laughton could do little to save.' Apart from the fact that this 'good' actor asked me to rewrite his dialogue from the German script and expressed himself satis- fied with the result, a discussion of its merits and demerits is irrelevant.

The point at issue is the German 'Q' ship captain's part, based on a living character, and, as Ludovic Kennedy pointed out, accused by Miss Quigly of stoking up the gas chambers on the grounds that any- one who fought for Hitler was doing just that. They may have been, but, leaving out the tragic problem of conflicting loyalties (which Miss Quigly does not even consider), what was the alternative?

Miss Quigly says Douglas Home . . . needs no answer.' That may be so, but none the less her conscience surely does. She (and all those who think like her) should ask herself one simple ques- tion, for, although perhaps a critic of the arts may be detached, in politics an uncommitted critic is a sorry spectacle.

If she had been a German during the last war, either in the services or out of them, would she have stood out against Hitler? If the answer is 'yes,' she places herself in the company of such people as Rommel and von Hassell, with all the penalties attached thereto. If the answer is 'no,' she had best keep quiet.

Or would she possibly have compromised and fought on for the Government she hated and the country that she loved and tried, at the risk of her life, to be humane? No, evidently not, for that's pre- cisely what the German captain that she criticises did.

Those are the three alternatives. There is no fourth —like, for example, sitting on a moral pinnacle and turning down one's thumbs at those so tragically en- gaged bclow.—Yours faithfully,

WILLIAM DOUGLAS HOME Drayton House, East Meon, Hampshire