23 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 18

StR,—Many people contend that, for a long time at least,

despotism and aggressiveness will remain as features of German national life, because of the peculiar structure of the German mind. From that assumption comes an uncomfort- able feeling which seems to be widely spread in this country and which is based on a growing conviction that Germany and freedom are incompatible, and that a lasting peace based on mutual understanding can hardly be hoped for : the con- clusion being that harsh measures must be adopted to keep the Germans quiet and that a satisfactory settlement of our European problems is made practically impossible by the presence of 8o or 85 million Germans in Central Europe.

I suggest there is a case for a different view. For several generations before the World War, the individual enjoyed in Germany a good deal of freedom. Friends told me that freedom and something approaching a democratic system existed during the fourteen years of the Weimar Republic. Since Nazism came into power, many brilliant or learned writers have flooded what little remains of the civilised world with books proving that the establishment of a violent and sadistic dictatorship is the natural and logical outcome of the history and psychology of the German people.

In the past and in the psychology of a large, highly developed and complex nation like the German, it would be difficult not to fmd traces of whatever political regime can be established in that country.

If Fascism or Communism, a Republic or a Theocracy were established in England, many books could be written to prove that Fascism or Communism, a Republic or a Theocracy are in complete agreement with the tradition, the psychology, the tendencies, of the British nation or at least of some very important section of it.

One can hold the opinion that the triumph of Nazism was due to the fortuitous concurrence of a number of independent and sometimes contradictory factors. Many important factors originated outside the German nation and the Germans are not responsible for them even if their impact brought Hitler to power. Ifs are usually meaningless, but I think that it could be reasonably maintained that: if the Allies had not dealt with the Reparations with very remarkable incompetence, the German middle-classes would not have gone through experiences which paved the way to Hitler ; if American politicians and business men had been a little less ignorant about economic facts, a crisis would not have started which threw six or seven million German workers out of work. If those two things had not taken place, the semi-democratic Weimar Republic might still be in existence.

Germans are accused of being aggressive : Austria, Czecho- Slovakia and Poland show that this accusation is correct. But the explanation that they are aggressive because they are Germans seems to me a little far-fetched. One can maintain that most nations have a peculiar tendency towards expansion and therefore aggressiveness, and that they try to expand whenever they can do it without taking too many risks and when they have not already taken as much as they can hold. Believing that the Germans are no worse than most other nations, I allow myself an optimistic view of the future. Nazism is an accident in the life of the German nation, and the Allies can help them to get rid of it. Once suitable con- ditions have been created democracy can be re-established. Aggressiveness will cease either when Germany has expanded enough (undoubtedly a bad solution for non-German nations) or when the creation of a larger political organisation makes the expansion of the individual State meaningless.—Yours