The Roosevelt-Churchill Declaration
THE TERMS OF A FUTURE PEACE
By BERNADOTTE E. SCHMITT, Professor of History, University of Chicago
At a meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies at Indianapolis, on November 22, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 312-318.
AN OVERWHELMING majority of Americans blame Germany for the present war. The Germans in turn assert that they are fighting to tear up the Treaty of Versailles of June, 1919. The German assertion is palpably ridiculous, especially since the German invasionof Russia. Nevertheless it is true to say that the peace treaties of 1919-1920 did create certain conditions which worked against the stabilization and pacification of Europe during the twenty years from 1919 to 1939. These conditions were not foreseen by the makers of the treaties and
could probably have been prevented if the treaties had been executed as their makers intended. Unfortunately, the treaties were not carried out as planned, and the consequences were, to say the least, untoward.
There was, to begin with, the question of minorities—which we may take first because Germany unloosed the war on account of the alleged mistreatment of the German minority in Poland. The mixing of peoples in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, a mixing which has existed for centuries, makes it impossible to draw political boundaries without leaving minorities on the wrong side of the line. The treaties of 1919, which were based on the principle of recognizing the national dependence of every people, reduced the number of minorities greatly below the figures for 1914 and were, in my opinion, sound in principle.
Nevertheless, a good many millions of people were forced to live under governments not of their own choice or liking. For this very reason the victorious Great Powers imposed on the Succession States of the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy the so-called minority treaties, by which the minority populations in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and elsewhere were solemnly guaranteed the same civil, political, and religious rights as were enjoyed by the main body of nationals. By promising that there should be no discriminations because of race or nationality, the Allied and Associated Powers hoped to reconcile the minorities to the new frontiers, and this sincere purpose can not be denied. Yet, in practice, the treaties had the effect, not of reconciling the minorities, but of strengthening their resistance to the new order of things and thereby keeping the relations between majority and minority in constant turmoil. And it was precisely in that state where the minority treaties were best observed in both letter and spirit, namely, Czechoslovakia, that the minorities were most unwilling to be reconciled.
The economic consequences of the treaties were equally unforeseen. Complete freedom of economic policy was the natural counterpart of political self-determination—in fact, the latter would have been meaningless without the former. In 1919 few persons anticipated that the desire of each country to become as economically self-sufficient as possible would lead to the unnecessary duplication of factories or to the erection of higher and higher tariff walls between countries which had for ages lived within the former Russian and Austrian empires. Whether this development could have been prevented by the treaty makers is an open question; at any rate its dire results were not manifested until the deep depression of the 'thirties. In this connection the evil consequences of American tariff policies and of our attempt to collect the war debts can not be overlooked.
The most bitter complaint of Germany against the Treaty of Versailles was that it forced a unilateral disarmament on Germany. Now there is every reason to suppose that the Allied and Associated Powers in 1919 had the honorable intention of following up the disarmament of Germany by a general and universal reduction of armaments, as promised by Part V of the treaty. But the failure of the United States to ratify the treaty and to join the League of Nations completely upset the political calculations of both Great Britain and France and led them—perhaps unwisely, but naturally—to postpone serious consideration of disarmament for too long —to postpone it, ironically enough, until Hitler got control of Germany. Incidentally, this refusal contributed more than any other single factor to popularize Hitler's program among the Germans. Thus a chain of unfortunate circumstances created a condition just the opposite of what had been imagined in 1919.
Lastly, the League of Nations, which had been intended as the very heart of the new order in both Europe and theworld, failed, almost from the start, to function properly. How far this could be traced to the defection of the United States, how far to cynicism and lack of faith on the part of European members of the League, may be open to debate, for Britain and France failed, in Manchuria, Ethiopia, Spain, and China successively, to fulfill their obligations under the Covenant; but in any case the proceedings at Geneva were often a travesty of what Wilson had in mind. Once more, the fault was not with the Treaty of Versailles, but with its application.
We Americans should not forget that another American policy not related to peace treaties contributed to the general malaise. The adoption of the quota system for our immigration, however justified and necessary, reacted unfavorably on Europe's economy by closing an outlet for the unemployed and discontented; while the refusal to recognize even a nominal Japanese quota had something to do with the growing feeling in Japan that she was an outcast among the nations and had to solve her problems in defiance of the rest of the world.
Looking back over the twenty years between the two wars, one can see clearly that the victors of 1919 made the fatal error of falling between two stools. They did not enforce the treaties to the limit and to the letter. On the other hand, they did not make sufficient concessions to reconcile the defeated nations to losing the war.
From very early in the war certain circles in both Great Britain and the United States have demanded a statement of "war aims." The British government very properly resisted such a demand, declaring that first of all the war must be won and that commitments made too soon might later prove embarrassing. On the latter point, memory was still vivid over the complications caused by the secret treaties concluded during the last war. The United States, for its part, being neutral, had no locus standi. By mid-summer 1941, however, the situation had profoundly changed. From the British point of view it was decidedly worth while to let the conquered nations see what they might expect if they continued their resistance to the German invader and helped Britain win the war. The United States, now that it was committeed by the Lease-Lend Act to the policy of aiding Britain to the limit, was not only entitled to know for what purpose it was pouring out billions of dollars, but the administration needed some kind of statement to oppose to the agitation of the America First Committee.
The Atlantic Charter
Thus an Anglo-American declaration had become politically expedient, not to say imperative. One may venture a guess that Mr. Churchill was at heart reluctant to tie his hand too completely and had to be pressed by Mr. Roosevelt. But if so, the British Prime Minister is a consummate politician — nearly as good as the American President — who knows when to yield, then to yield gracefully, and in the end to make a virtue of his necessity. And so, on August 19, 1941, the heads of the British and American governments signed their momentous declaration—which inevitably calls to mind the famous Fourteen Points of President Wilson. The Roosevelt-Churchill statement is, however, a much more important document, for the Wilson pronouncement was a unilateral act, done without consultation of our associates in the war, who did not adopt the Fourteen Points until October 1918, on the eve of the Armistice, and then only reluctantly and half-heartedly—so much so that the Fourteen Points were, for all practical purposes, ignored at the Paris Peace Conference by the Allies and the United States alike. The Atlantic Charter, on the other hand, having been framed and proclaimed by the two heads of government, isnow binding on both Great Britain and the United States. It is the work of two strong men whose leadership of their respective peoples is unquestioned, who have the gift of tongue and are experts in the timing of political moves. We may therefore fairly expect that the Atlantic Charter will not remain a dead letter, but will be exploited to the full by both signatories.
In general the Charter purports to offer the bases of a just peace which is to be based on liberal and generous ideas and which should therefore be of long duration. It is perhaps significant that the Axis powers have not replied with counter-proposals and have confined themselves to vague talk about their own "new order."
Let us now examine the Roosevelt-Churchill declaration, point by point.
First: Their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other. This is common sense and commonplace to both British and Americans. But the British conquest of Ethiopia from the Italians and the Anglo-Russian occupation of Persia afford the Nazi propagandists excellent opportunity to sow suspicion of Britain throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. Likewise the acquisition by the United States of naval bases in the Caribbean can easily be misrepresented in Central and South America. Consequently a self-denying ordinance by Britain and America can do no harm and may do some good.
Hitler's new order: "A peace which would not be based upon the waving of olive branches and tearful misery-mongering of pacifist old women, but a peace that would be guaranteed by the triumphant sword of a people endowed with a power to master the world, and to administer it in the services of a higher civilization" (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf).
Second: They desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned. This implies the rejection of all Axis territorial claims: the seizure of Austria and Czechoslovakia by Germany, as well as the conquests made since the outbreak of formal war; presumably also, the Japanese seizure of Manchuria and other regions in East Asia. But the President and the Prime Minister have left themselves some discretion. How are the "wishes of the peoples concerned" to be "freely expressed"? By plebiscite? By newly elected bodies? By the restored governments? Probably no decisions have been reached, and the main purpose of this statement is to stimulate the resistance of the conquered peoples.
In this great struggle . . . there can be no more consideration of the claims of impotent unqualified and arrogant representatives of other nations" (Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des XX Jahrhunderts).
Third: They respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them. There seem to be two implications in this language: (1) The Germans will not have their form of government dictated to them. In 1918, President Wilson practically demanded the deposition of the Hohenzollerns—with the result that millions of Germans never loyally accepted the Weimar Republic. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill evidently intend to let the Germans decide what kind of regime they will have. (2) Poland, Czechoslovakia, and all the occupied countries— including, it must be assumed, China and Indo-China—are to be restored, and restored as free and independent states. But nothing is said about frontiers, no doubt for the excellent reason that at this moment there is no general agreement as to what should be done about the states of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The Soviet government, which will be vitally interested in future frontiers, did not sign the Roosevelt-Churchill declaration, but has expressed its approval. I doubt, however, if any territorial understanding has been reached between Washington, London, and Moscow.
Points 2 and 3 may be regarded as the 1941 version of the principle of "self-determination," a condensation and telescoping of points 6-13 in President Wilson's formulation But whereas Wilson specifically mentioned eight different territorial areas where self-determination should be applied, the statesmen of 1941 have been content to lay down general principles in phrases that are loosely drafted and susceptible of more than one interpretation. In the light of the experiences of 1918-1920, they were wise not to tie their hands too tight.
Not one of these small nations has a right to independent existence (General Haushofer, the exponent of "Geopolitik").
Fourth: They will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all states, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal term, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity. To many persons this will seem the most important clause of the declaration, for it is the reply to the "Have Nots" who have complained, ever since 1919, that they could not properly exist because they did not possess adequate raw materials. The Roosevelt-Churchill pledge is in the entire accord with Anglo-American practice. The British Empire has not pursued a preferential or exclusive policy in the past in the matter of raw materials. Both Great Britain and the United States have always bought what they needed freely in the markets of the world. From our point of view "access to" raw materials is sufficient.
But this will not satisfy the Axis powers, as the latest speeches of their leaders prove clearly enough. Prior to 1914 Germany had access to raw materials all over the world, as did Great Britain and the United States, and Germany prospered exceedingly. Yet she was not satisfied, and in July 1914 she took advantage of the murder at Sarajevo to let i world war break out, in the hope of establishing control over Europe and acquiring a large colonial empire. After 1933 when Hitler came to power, Germany had access to raw materials, but deliberately adopted a policy which prevented her from using the opportunity—and then complained that she could not obtain what she needed. In the twenties of this century, Japan was rapidly forging ahead as an industrial power, yet she too was not satisfied and has seized Manchuria and invaded China because "access to" raw materials was not deemed sufficient. What the Axis powers want is more than access to raw materials, they demand "possession of" them. That is why they have gone to war and will fight to the bitter end. It will be noted, however, that Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill say nothing about a redistribution of colonial areas which would give the Axis powers what they want.
From our point of view, the essential thing is the revival of international trade, and evidently Mr. Roosevelt remains committed to, and Mr. Churchill accepts, the principle of reciprocal trade treaties associated with the name of Cordell Hull. Which is all to the good. Let Congress which has been somewhat restive about the treaties, take notice. A maximum of economic security for the Greater German Reich, and a maximum of consumption for the German people in order to increase its prosperity. This is the aim which European economy must set before it (Reichminister Funk, 26 July 1940).
Fifth: They desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the objectof securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security. This seems to be an exhortation to the masses to persevere to win the war, for their reward will be a higher standard of living. Such a declaration comes easily from the New Dealer who is Franklin D. Roosevelt, but Winston Churchill is generally reputed a Tory. Mr. Churchill, however, was a Liberal earlier in his career and has always been deeply concerned with the welfare of the people. Great statesman that he is, he is anxious for change in England and knows that the regime of privilege and the ascendancy of the "old school tie" are being abolished in the new humanity born of common suffering; in true English fashion, he proposes to canalize and control the revolution rather than allow himself to be swept away by it.
Highly significant is the recognition that the Western standard of living is affected by the lower wage levels of Asia and that international action is necessary.
All soil and industrial property of inhabitants of non-German origin will be confiscated without exception and distributed primarily among worthy members of the Party . . . then a new aristocracy of German masters (Herrenvolk) will be created. This aristocracy will have slaves assigned to it, these slaves to be their property and to consist of landless German nations (Reichminister Darre, May 1940).
Sixth: After the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want. This is the counterpart of the previous point, the recognition that international peace and internal conditions can not be separated (although many American politicians have tried for more than twenty years to separate them). The reference to the "destruction of the Nazi tyranny" may indicate that Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, like Mr. Wilson twenty-five years ago, distinguished between the German government and the German people; but this is not a necessary inference. They say nothing about Japanese tyranny; but they no doubt calculated that Japan could be dealt with at leisure when Germany is finished.
It is necessary to think not only in terms of a National State, but of a World Empire. The position of the Poles or the Negroes in the Colonies may be considered, under criminal law, from the point of view of the supremacy of the German people (Reichminister Frank, 22 May 1940).
Seventh: Such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance. This is an intriguing statement. In time of peace all men do traverse the high seas without hindrance—it is only in time of war that "freedom of the seas" becomes an issue. The United States has always stood for "freedom of the seas"—and Great Britain has always rejected our interpretation. In 1918 Mr. Lloyd George flatly refused to accept Point 2 of Wilson's Fourteen, which stipulated for freedom of the seas. One may suspect therefore, that this new declaration emanates from Mr. Roosevelt rather than from Mr. Churchill and that the latter accepted it because at the end of the war the American navy will no doubt be much stronger than the British and because, as noted above, the declaration is meaningless in peace time. If, in practice, it means that the British and American navies are to police the world, that is good news, for it is perhaps the best guarantee for world peace. Our fleet will be developed and enlarged to a size befitting our world power. It will take the protection ofGerman interests in the world into its strong hands and will carry the German flag and the German name, together with the German merchant fleet, over the space of the globe (Admiral Raeder, January 28, 1941).
Eighth: They believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they [Roosevelt and Churchill] believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments. This, the longest of the eight points, is the most immediately important. For it announces that at the end of the war Germany and her allies will be disarmed. This done, there will be time and opportunity to work out the other points, for the only threat to the peace of the world comes from Germany and her allies. Nothing is said about reciprocity, but this is apparently implied by the phrase "pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security." Evidently Mr. Roosevelt expects that the United States will participate in the establishment and functioning of such a system, but there is no hint of how this will be accomplished, for the League of Nations is not mentioned.
The pacifist-humanitarian idea may indeed become an excellent one when the most superior type of manhood will have succeeded in subjugating the world to such an extent that this type is then sole master of the earth (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf).
If we take the eight points together, we can see that Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill envisage a world of peace-loving and self-governing peoples, who ate content to live each in its own territory, who do not suffer from want, who are held together by ties of trade, and who respect each other on the basis of live-and-let-live. It is indeed extremely difficult for an American to take exception to the vision of the two leaders. But before practical application of their ideas are studied, certain omissions may be noted.
There is not a word about minorities, and not a word about immigration. Nothing is said about reparations, a problem which is of the most direct and immediate interest to the unconquered peoples. There is no hint that national sovereignty may be restricted, although the necessity for limitation is almost universally conceded by students of international organization. Finally, there is no provision for peaceful change, after the manner of Article XIX of the Covenant of the League of Nations.
These are all such highly contentious issues that their omission need cause no surprise, for Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, being practical politicians, were issuing a document calculated to help them win the war. What matters is that they could agree on eight points—there is time enough between now and the end of the war for the more contentious matters to be dealt with—provided always that these issues are thought about and thought through in the interval.
It is obvious that many of the points of the Roosevelt-Churchill declaration will require time to work out, notably those involving economic advancement and the establishment of a system of general international security. In 1919, peace was made in a hurry, too great a hurry, before either governments or peoples were ready, while both were still dominated by the psychology of war. Let us hope that at the end of this war a more leisurely course is pursued. When Germany is defeated, a military armistice should be concluded and thecountry occupied by Allied troops, after which the terms of peace can be worked out slowly and surely.
The Problems of the Peace
At the end of the fighting the exiled governments will no doubt return to their respective countries. In Western Europe this can be accomplished easily enough, for Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France have historical, well-recognized frontiers, the restoration of which can be taken for granted. Eastern Europe, on the other hand, will present most serious and formidable problems. Will Russia, as a victorious power, be willing to re-establish the Baltic States and to restore the territories which she took from Poland and Romania while she was still neutral? Since their conquest of Poland, the Nazis have forcibly expelled the Polish population from Pomorze and Posnan (the area of the so-called "Polish Corridor") and replaced them with Germans brought from the Baltic States and Russia. Will Poland be allowed to recover her western frontier of 1939? If so, what is to be done with the newly-settled Germans?
Then there is Czechoslovakia. Shall the Sudetenland taken from her at Munich be restored to her? Her experience from Munich to the occupation of Prague in March 1939 showed how necessary for her economic stability was the possession of the Sudeten areas, but if the Sudeten Germans continue recalcitrant, should they be forced once more into Czechoslovakia? There is, to be sure, some ground for thinking that the Sudetens did not like their union with Germany and recognize that economically they were better off in Czechoslovakia; but we must wait for more specific evidence.
Another problem will be provided by Austria. Events proved that her Anschluss with Germany was fatal to the independence of Czechoslovakia, but what if Austrian sentiment continues to favor union? Undoubtedly many Austrians would like to recover their independence; but if Austria is to be re-established, something will have to be done to insure her economic viability.
Hungary, which for twenty years protested unceasingly against the Treaty of Trianon, has now torn up the treaty and recovered a considerable part of the lost territory. She will hardly be allowed, after the war, to keep the areas occupied by non-Magyars; but are the exact frontiers of Trianon to be restored? And the problem of Magyar enclave in Transylvania remains.
Jugoslavia, Albania, and Greece raise similar problems. Suppose Bulgaria for a third time joins the wrong side. American opinion would like to ignore these territorial and racial problems in Eastern Europe, but they can not be ignored, and until they are settled to general satisfaction, peace can not be very stable.
Whether the intense suffering, by all concerned, during the present war will induce greater readiness to compromise remains to be seen. It may be that the Great Powers will insist upon some kind of customs union, and the happiest sign to date is that the exiled governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia, made wise by bitter experience, have agreed in principle to a federation, which they invite other states to join. Such a federation, stretching from the Baltic to the Aegean, would probably solve the problem presented by fourteen small groups lying between the large German group on their west and much larger Russian group on their east—but we are still very far from the realization of such a dream. Quite recently the governments of Greece and Jugoslavia have announced their adhesion to this program, so that there is a promising beginning.
Still another possibility lies in the transfer of populations, on a scale large enough to get rid of minorities. Greece and Turkey did this after the last war, and since then theirrelations have been easy and cordial. Similar exchanges may be imagined elsewhere and, if properly thought out and managed, may be worth considering, provided always that both parties concerned are in favor of it.
Ever since 1919 two rival theories concerning this Middle Eastern Zone have been ardently put forward and debated. According to one view, the essential condition of peace is a sound political framework or, in other words, every people conscious of national identity must be allowed to have self-determination and self-government; economic problems are secondary and will take care of themselves. The other view is that the discontent of eastern Europe was born of economic uncertainty, which in turn was caused by the disruption of long-established large economic units and the creation of small states which were seldom and could hardly be viable; political issues, according to this interpretation, are of small moment and will disappear if the economic foundation is sound. A survey of the years 1919-1939 will reveal many facts which support each thesis.
It would seem that what we must strive for at the end of this war, is to combine the two doctrines. Fourteen different peoples—from one million Albanians to thirty million Poles—live in this area. Each is entitled to some kind of self-determination and will insist on it; without it there is no hope of a lasting peace. Yet, somehow, a greater economic collaboration must be continued than existed from 1919 to 1939, for without economic well-being mere political independence is illusory and becomes dangerous. The recent declaration, at the I.L.O. Conference in Washington, by Czechoslovakia, Greece, Jugoslavia, and Poland is a good augury that the formula for combining the two necessities may have been found.
Germany in the Coming Peace
Personally, I believe that the defeat of Germany and the elimination of fear of what Germany will do will contribute much to the pacification of Eastern Europe. This brings us to a consideration of the problem of Germany.
A great many persons, probably most Americans, believe that this is largely a matter of regime, that the German people are sound but that the Nazi government is evil. According to this view, what is required is the defeat of the Nazis and the granting of reasonable terms of peace, after which Germany will be only too willing to pursue a policy of peace and cooperation. This was the Wilson hypothesis in 1918.
A second view, recently put to me with great force by a German refugee, is that the German nation is sick from the overdose of Naziism, but that it can be cured. Admitting that Nazi doctrine had got a firm hold on the German people, my friend argued that when defeat had come, the German people would turn upon their Nazi tyrants and make short shrift of them. According to this view, the Allied powers should stand aside and not interfere, for the Germans would resent nothing so much as having their form of government dictated to them.
Would that the solution of the German problem were so easy as either of these plans! Unfortunately—as it seems to me—German history warns us against accepting them. The essentials of Hitlerism—the desire for conquest, the notion that the Germans are a Herrenvolk, the belief in their mission to rule Europe, their willingness to go to war—these were not invented by Adolf Hitler or imposed by him on the German people. Hitler has indeed raised brutality and propaganda to unheard-of heights of terror and efficiency, but the essence of his program was proclaimed by innumerable German writers in the palmy days of William II and was accepted by large numbers of Germans—as visitors inGermany prior to 1914 were well aware. That is why the Prussian military party was able to rally the German people enthusiastically for war in 1914.
Throughout the war of 1914 the mass of Germans supported the war and the program of expansion. Defeat did not cure them of their ambitions, and they accepted the Weimar Republic sullenly and without enthusiasm. In my opinion, one secret of Hitler's successful appeal to the German people was that he repudiated both the Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar Republic. It is surely significant that after 1919 the Germans—apart from occasional individuals—declined to recognize: (1) any responsibility for the war; (2) the justice of reparations (which were evaded wherever and whenever possible); (3) the so-called "Polish Corridor" (although the land was historically Polish and contained a majority of Polish inhabitants). There was never any doubt in my mind from 1919 on that Germany intended to tear up the Treaty of Versailles.
Since the advent of Hitler, only the blind and the stupid refused to see this. The situation has now become worse than ever. All reports agree that the youth of Germany, the rising generation which will be in power before long, is pretty completely and thoroughly infected with the Nazi ideas. Moreover, the treatment of the conquered countries has revealed the cruel and sadistic traits of the German character with horrible frankness. The evidence of this is so vast and so appalling that it has to be believed. We are repeatedly told that the Germans have no enthusiasm for this war (in contrast with 1914), but endure it because they fear something even worse than the Treaty of Versailles. This may be so, but to this moment there is no indication that the Germans are not entirely willing to enjoy the fruits of a Nazi victory if Hitler can win it. In fact, the situation of 1918 is being repeated: as long as the army wins victories, there is no protest against the policy which victory makes possible. Only in the hour of defeat will the Germans suddenly see the light and then, as in 1919, they will come whinning and begging for mercy.
In short, nothing in either the past or the present of the German people seems to justify a belief that they would be content with a peace giving them equality. They want domination.
If this is correct reading of the German character, then some drastic measures will be called for at the end of the war, for it is really intolerable that the world should be plunged into war every twenty-five years by Germany. "Never again," is the cry of millions, probably hundreds of millions, of people throughout the world.
I can not speak for others, but I have heard many individuals advocate the complete destruction of the German people, and I have read letters in newspapers and magazines to the same end. Recently a book has been published entitled Germany Must Perish (by Theodore N. Kaufman), this to be effected by sterilization. Obviously the elimination of 80,000,000 people is a large order and is not likely to be attempted. There is, however, every reason to expect that at the end of the war there will be an overwhelming demand for the severest punishment and restriction of Germany.
The first essential is the complete and overwhelming military defeat of Germany, to be accomplished, if possible, on German soil In 1918 the German people did not grasp the magnitude of the defeat of France and later came to believe that their armies had been stabbed in the back (actually, this was complete nonsense, but it didn't matter). The German people have not experienced war on their territory since 1866, except for a short Russian invasion of East Prussia in 1914. They need to be made aware of the horrors of war. During the wars of Louis XIV and Napoleon the French werelooked upon almost as bitterly as the Germans are today. After France had been invaded and defeated and punished, in 1814, in 1815, and 1870-71, the French people ceased to be aggressive and dangerous and became the pacific nation we know. It is at least possible to hope that after similar experiences the Germans, if properly punished, may get over their militaristic propensities.
Secondly, Germany must be occupied—the whole of it—for an indefinite period. After the last war the Rhineland was occupied for twelve years. When, as a concession to Germany, evacuation was granted five years ahead of the date scheduled by treaty, this was interpreted as weakness, and the Nazis polled their first large vote. This time Germany must be kept under observation and control until she shows visible and convincing signs of repentance.
In the next place, Germany must make practical reparations. There are vast stores of books in Germany which can be used to replace the libraries destroyed in Belgium and Poland and elsewhere. The railways of Germany should be taken up, rail by rail, tie by tie, and relaid in the areas devastated by German armies. Her armament factories must be dismantled and re-erected in the countries which she overran. Her ships can be taken on a ton-for-ton basis as substitutes for those sunk by her submarines. Other reparations in kind from Germany's existing stocks can easily be imagined. By such methods the problem of "transfer," which was the great stumbling block from 1920 to 1932, will be avoided, and Germany will be prevented from using the dishonest business and financial methods which she practiced from 1919 to 1939, by which, according to the computations of a colleague, she "bilked" the world of probably two billions of dollars. Let the Germans realize that war does not pay materially and their attitude toward war and conquest may well be modified.
Personally, I see no reason why Germany should be allowed access to the resources of the world until she has given proof that she will not misuse them. Why let her acquire oils and metals if she intends only to convert them into instruments of war? Germany, in short, should be forced to live on her own for a while; she should be reduced to that agricultural economy which she will impose on all of conquered Europe if she can. This would mean a reduced standard of living, and, in time, a reduction in the German population. Since there are only 45 million Britons, 45 million Italians, 40 million Frenchmen, and 30 million Poles, as opposed to 80 million Germans, the equilibrium of Europe would be more stable if there were only 50 million Germans.
I am aware that this sounds horrendous and un-Christian. But since Germany has threatened to starve the Norwegians if they do not submit and has put all the conquered peoples on starvation rations, I do not see why she should not take some of her own medicine. Germany has inflicted such incalculable suffering on the world by her two wars for world domination that we can not run the risk of letting her become strong a third time. Now it is her turn to suffer. Only when she can demonstrate that she has abandoned the gospel of war can we afford her the opportunity to live in a peace-loving world. Once Germany is disciplined, Europe will, in my opinion be able and ready to form some kind of union dedicated to peace and human betterment.
Before concluding, a few words must be said about the Far East, which is of more direct interest to the United States than Europe. Japan wishes to do in the Far East what Germany strives for in Europe: to obtain ascendancy over her neighbors and exploit them mercilessly (her high-sounding talk about the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity
Sphere" deceives no one, except perhaps the Japanese). Her armies have acted as cruelly and rapaciously in China as those of Germany in Europe. In my opinion, Japan must be beaten and punished and crippled in the same manner as Germany. This will involve her withdrawal from China and having to live on her own: with the same consequences as will result for Germany, namely, a reduction of population. For the last fifty years and more, Germany and Japan have contributed little or nothing to the progress of civilization—only war and terror and horror. It may be that their peoples can be redeemed and raised to become decent members of a world society. But, in my opinion, it is necessaryfor them to persuade and convince us, not for us to take chances.
The world can not be organized for permanent peace without some limitations of national sovereignty. Are the several states ready for this? I can only express my doubts. Until the governments and peoples of the world are prepared to surrender certain powers of sovereignity, the world will have to be policed by the victorious armies and navies of the British Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Under their protecting aegis, a world organization can be worked out gradually, instead of being put together too hastily, after the manner of 1919.