3 MARCH 1939, Page 20


[Correspondents are requested to keep their letters as brief as is reasonably possible. Signed letters are given a preference over those bearing a pseudonym, and the latter must be accompanied by the name and address of the author, which will be treated as confidential.—Ed. THE SPECTATOR]


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR] SIR,—" A German Landowner's " masterly summary of the Nazi viewpoint is interesting reading, but it tells us nothing which the intelligent section of the English people do not know already. The real trouble is, however, that it is not a practical proposition for two people to play the same game under entirely different rules, and it is no answer to point out that your rules suit you much better than the other fellow's. We should, no doubt, win the America Cup if we altered our yacht racing rules so as to permit the ' Challenger ' to sink the ' Defender ' by machine-gun fire, provided that the Americans would race under those conditions, which they possibly would not.

In the same way, unless you have some common code of morality, international negotiation and co-operation are im- possible. Perhaps " A German Landowner " would explain how this world can be run without war if it is to be divided into two camps with two quite different and irreconcilable moral codes. It may, perhaps, be said that Germany has two moral codes, one for home use and the other for foreign. Against this it should be noted, firstly, that the fact of having two sets of morals for different circumstances is merely a way of saying that you haven't any morals at all, and, secondly, that, up to the present, Herr Hitler's moral code has been precisely the same, whether he is dealing with his own country or other peoples', recent examples being, of course, Austria and Czecho-Slovakia.

There is a further consideration which does not seem to have occurred to your correspondent at all. And that is that Germany does not happen to be Tristan da Cunha, which can do pretty well as it likes without disturbing anybody. As part of the Continent of Europe, she cannot simply scrap all civilised standards without throwing the whole civilised machine out of gear all over the world. Apart altogether from humanitarian and ethical considerations, and looking at the problem purely from the German point of view, her treat- ment of the Jews is exactly on a par with the behaviour of a man who empties his refuse bin into his neighbour's back garden every morning on the grounds that " he has made up his mind to get rid " of his rubbish and that " he must be regarded as competent to decide how he is to do it."

It may be that Germany has grievances, and that it may be both just and wise to meet them. But how on earth are we to know, under this new German philosophy, which are the genuine grievances and which are items in some gangster scheme? So far as we know, the interests of the German State override all other interests, or, in your correspondent's own words, " an authoritarian State cannot consider any principles which stand in the way of progress as understood in Germany today." A nice kettle of fish to us who believe that the welfare of our country can only be accomplished as part of the general welfare of the world! And " A German Landowner's " assurance that this represents the overwhelming majority of German public opinion is cold comfort..

Might I ask " A German Landowner " to make a real contribution towards the Anglo-German friendship which we all desire by explaining exactly how he suggests we shou!d act in this pretty little impasse, on the assumption—however absurd it may seem—that we have our own rights and interests