HL Deb 21 May 1942 vol 122 cc1148-86

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved on Tuesday by Lord Vansittart—namely, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to the post-war policy towards Germany outlined in the recent speech made by the Home Secretary at Blackpool.


My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, rose to speak to this Motion on Tuesday, I imagine it was in the minds of the greater number of your Lordships, as it was in mine, that he would give your Lordships' House the advantage of his long and indeed almost unique experience and knowledge in relation to the post-war policy of His Majesty's Government towards Germany, for it was so that his Motion was framed. In the event, however, it was, as your Lordships will recollect, quite otherwise. In a speech such as your Lordships are accustomed to hear from the noble Lord—a speech eloquent, epigrammatic, pungent—the noble Lord, instead of directing his mind to the future, looked back over his shoulder for a period of a quarter of a century to the Treaty of Versailles, and gave your Lordships an elaborate and brilliant analysis of that Treaty. I say for myself—and I do not doubt that Mr. Morrison would in large measure subscribe to what I would say in this regard—that much as there is in other statements made by Lord Vansittart to which I could not in any way subscribe, and which I would gravely criticize, yet to the substance of his analysis of the Treaty of Versailles I would take no objection.

But the Treaty of Versailles was not the subject of the speech of Mr. Morrison to which Lord Vansittart drew the attention of your Lordships' House and to which he referred in the Motion which he moved. Mr. Morrison made a speech which doubtless many of your Lordships read, as I did, in the ordinary course in the daily Press, and which made no impression on me as a speech striking out on a new line of policy or advocating any course of action which called for special comment. It seemed to me to be just such a speech as one is accustomed to hear from Ministers of the Crown upon the subject of what may eventuate after the end of hostilities. It is true that he said he was for a peace of justice for the German people. It is true lie made it clear he was against a "vindictive" peace. But he did not, from beginning to end of his speech, mention the Treaty of Versailles. It must be clear to all who have carefully read Mr. Morrison's speech that it was not the Treaty of Versailles which he had in mind when he said he was against a "vindictive" peace. Indeed, I am authorized by Mr. Morrison so to state, and to make clear that what the Home Secretary had in mind in making that speech was the blockade which continued for a time following the cessation of actual hostilities.

There can, I suppose, be no doubt that despite the facts explained to your Lordships' House in this regard by Lord Vansittart on Tuesday, the continuance for a time of that bleckade did exacerbate bitterness in the minds of the German people at that time and in the succeeding generation. Many of your Lordships will remember that people in this country were made uncomfortable by it, and indeed the Prime Minister, in the last volume of his World Crisis, referred in these terms to the matter and its effect upon the morale of the British Army of Occupation: Lord Plumer, who commanded the British Army of Occupation in Germany, sent a telegram to the War Office, forwarded to the Supreme Council, urging that food should be supplied to the suffering population in order to prevent the spread of disease as well as on humanitarian grounds. He emphasized the bad effect produced upon the British Army by the spectacle of suffering which surrounded them. From him and through otter channels we learnt that the British soldiers would certainly share their rations with the women and children among whom they were living, and that the physical efficiency of the troops was already being affected. It was the continuance of that for however short a time after the cessation of hostilities that Mr. Morrison had in mind when using the parase to which Lord Vansittart has directed the attention of your Lordships, and upon which he has based not only his Motion as to post-war policy but his speech as to the Treaty of Versailles.

I could have hoped that, instead of casting his mind back to the old world, Lord Vansittart might have seized the occasion to use the Motion, so well phrased for the purpose, to look forward to the new society of the future. It may be that the noble Lord felt that the debate on world settlement after the war, which is to take place shortly after the Whitsun Recess, on the initiative of my noble friend Lord Addison—who desires me to express to your Lordships his regret at his inability to be in his place to-day—and the debate on the important Motion by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, with reference to the Atlantic Charter, would afford a better opportunity than this debate for discussing the question of post-war policy towards Germany. If the noble Lord had that in mind—though it is perhaps rather early in the day to discuss the content of the peace which will ultimately ensue at the conclusion of this present war—I for one should not dissent; but the time is surely not inopportune at which to consider the spirit which should inform that peace when the time comes to make it.

Will any of your Lordships question the proposition that when the time docs come the spirit which should inform that peace should be a spirit of justice, a spirit of justice without revenge? And when I say "justice" I mean justice not only for the German people but justice, too, for ourselves and our Allies. I mean not merely bringing justice to the Germans, I mean also bringing the Germans to justice; for no one will deny, and indeed it has since October of last year been part of the declared policy of His Majesty's Government, that retribution for the crimes of Germany must take a place among the major purposes of the war. Justice is not sloppy sentimentality. The peace which will ultimately ensue, so far as the voice of this country can be heard in the making of it, will doubtless be a peace that is just but it must also be stern; a peace modified, on the other hand perhaps, by mercy for the Germans, who in the face of their crimes will indeed need justice to be mitigated by mercy, but not too much mercy. It is, I suppose, a commonplace so far as this war is concerned, among us, doubtless among our Allies also, that justice will demand restitution by Germany, or, to use a phrase which I for one have found most attractive, a term new to me, invented I think by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, in the preface to a book recently published entitled The greatest swindle in the world, Germany must be "de-looted." There must be restitution, there must be retribution, there must be a re-education of the German people.

One of the most remarkable features of the Germany Army on the Eastern Front is that it should have stood up as it has stood up to the difficulties and the hardships of the winter campaign. I am told by those who have had some opportunities of learning the facts that it is due to the fanaticism of the younger soldiers in the Germany Army, and that that does not apply so much to those of older years. But there is a real fanaticism pervading at least the younger generation of German soldiery which, from the military standpoint, has stood them in good stead during the hard and arduous months of the winter. That fanaticism must be broken down if there is to be any permanent or effective peace. It will not be a simple matter, it will not take a short period of time in which to break it down, and I am satisfied that justice will demand that the Allies shall have in Germany an Army of Occupation strong and vigilant for a considerable time, not to suppress the German people, but, to use a phrase with which they have made us familiar, in order that they may be taken into "protective custody."

I do not believe that the same procedure regarding the making of peace will apply after this war within the same limits of time as in the last war. I hope it will not. A peace, a just peace, can be made only when passions are somewhat subdued, and when the surrounding conditions are such that one can look into the future with a modified amount of assurance. I believe that in the first instance, before we get round the table at the Peace Conference, we shall have to get our economic arrangements right. That will take some time. I believe we might hope that if we can get the economic situation right the political situation will right itself far more easily. Economics will come first and will take time. A just peace requires that the German people should be made to feel that they have outlawed themselves from the comity of nations for a time, but that upon the assurance of their good behaviour in the future they may be readmitted. I think it was in the Observer last Sunday that an anonymous writer used a phrase which seemed to me apposite. He said this: The Germans are trying to make Europe German. Our task is to make Germans Europeans. I believe indeed that that is the task to which we must set ourselves—to make Germans real Europeans, make them co-operators in the building up of the new society.

There has recently been issued a statement by the political Party to which those of us who sit upon these Benches belong, and it occurred to me that this might be an opportunity when, in the public interest, it would be useful that I might say to your Lordships and through your Lordships to those outside, including our enemies, what is the view of the Labour Party as to peace. I would say this to those who may not realize it, that the Labour Party, speaking through the authentic voice of its national executive, represents not merely the large body of organized labour in this country but vast numbers who, though not formally members of bodies of organized labour, adhere actually to the Labour Party either through some formal organization or by the general support which they give to it. The Labour Party does represent a vast volume of opinion in this country. If our enemies should expect any sloppiness from the Labour Party in regard to peace, they will be disappointed. The Labour Party is determined and resolute in the view that it takes as to the conditions of peace. The first condition is that there should be total victory, victory complete, victory unmistakable, victory upon which there can be no going back. I think that I shall carry your Lordships with me there. The British Labour Party will refuse all negotiations with the Hitler Government. It will insist upon the total destruction of the power of German militarism and permanent guarantees which assure the victims of this war against any repetition of its tragedies.

The Labour Party will, moreover, insist that those who have been responsible for the barbarities which a hundred years will remember with shame, shall not escape the punishment their commission involves. Those who remorselessly break the rules of civilized life must be made to feel the weight of their power. Then the Labour Party will be a party to no attempts to impose any peace of revenge in order to impose upon the defeated any terms which deprive them of the right to that life which is the due reward of capacity and energy exercised in a peaceful way for peaceful ends. We have first of all to ensure that our enemies, and Germany in particular, will pursue peace- ful ways to peaceful ends. The Labour Party attaches the Atlantic Charter to its own statement of peace aims as the basis upon which we shall go forward.

Your Lordships will be familiar in another connexion with the phrase as to the duty undertaken by certain of the more advanced States towards those who are less advanced, in the way of leading them into the paths of self-government in order that they may take their place among the self-governing countries of the world. It is a term used in connexion with the mandatory system under the Covenant of the League of Nations. As I see it, justice will demand that the Allied Powers should use the strength that will come to them as the result, not of victories alone but of victory—for victories alone are useless without victory—to bring back Germany, or perhaps I should say to bring Germany for the first time, into the family of European nations, and in doing that in a spirit of justice with mercy, but not too much mercy, will consider that it is fulfilling a sacred trust for civilization.


My Lords, I little thought that on the first occasion on which I should have the privilege of addressing you, I should speak in some measure in support of the present Home Secretary. Mr. Morrison and I have had some fairly sharp differences of opinion with regard to the internment of some of my friends and other perfectly innocent and patriotic people under the iniquitous Regulation I8B. The Home Secretary, on account of my advocacy of a negotiated peace, appeared, at times, to have some desire to add my name to the list of the victims. However, if a man is criticized for talking sense I am prepared to defend him even though that man should be my potential gaoler. It is indeed, as I see it, only in keeping with the increasingly crazy character of the whole war that I should find myself today in some measure supporting Mr. Morrison. In this war friends have become enemies and enemies have become friends with a rapidity which should teach thoughtful people the mad and futile nature of the whole business and the impossibility of attaining the lofty aims we have set ourselves to achieve by the methods which apparently we are often obliged to follow.

Early in this war we were prepared to help the Finns to kill the Russians, and now we are helping the Russians to kill the Finns, although there has not been the slightest change in the character of the two nations or even in the character of their leaders. Earlier in this war, again, we were helping the French to kill the Germans, and now by our recent operations in Madagascar we have been helping to make the defeat of the French more thorough. When the Home Secretary said that he was in favour of treating the German people with justice, and that he was opposed to the harsh treatment of Germany after the last war, he was merely giving expression to opinions winch are in conformity with the principles of Chistianity and common sense, and he was showing that he has some capacity at any rate to profit by the lessons of recent history.

I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, presenting his point of view on Tuesday. I could not help feeling that, in spite of his eloquence, he was reminding us of the familiar saying that there are two sides to every question. Indeed, I would go further and say that as I listened to him I was inclined to think that there were three sides to the question—the side which he stated and at least two others. The noble Lord once more repeated what I should have thought was the somewhat discredited idea of Germany's sole responsibility for the last war. I cannot possibly go over the whole ground which he traversed, but I should like, if I may, to bring to your Lordships' notice certain points on the other side. You may say that the last war is now ancient history, but the points which I submit to you are not ancient history because they affect the whole psychology of the present war, of our attitude towards Germany and of our attitude towards peace. For in one sense it has been truly said that the present war is only a continuation of the last one. I do not intend to quote anything from German propaganda. The sources from which I quote are British, French, Russian or neutral sources, and I may refer to information obtained from trustworthy friends who were eye witnesses of what they reported to me.

Professor Prokrovsky, the recorder of the Soviet Government, has written that the responsibility fox the war of 1914 rested not with this Imperialism or that but with Imperialism in general—the French, the British, the Russian not less than the German and the Austrian. In my opinion the Soviet professor was right. If you know where to look there is not a little evidence of some share of responsibility even on the side of Britain. There were influential people in Britain long before 1914 animated by trade rivalry and jealousy of what they believed to be Germany's challenge to British sea power, and for a long time the Daily Mail was conducting a venomous hatred campaign against Germany. Mr. Wilfred Scawen Blunt, in his book My Diaries, relates how the present Prime Minister, when speaking to him in 1910, referred to "the coming war with Germany." He relates how the late Lord Fisher made vain efforts to ensure the "Copenhagening" of the German Fleet. I am open to correction, but I understand that term to mean the annihilation of the German Fleet by a sudden attack before there had been a formal declaration of war. If I am correct in this interpretation, I cannot help wondering whether the Japanese have studied the methods of strategy recommended by the late Lord Fisher. When Lord Fisher failed to get approval for this idea, he complied with the request of Mr. Churchill to help him to proceed with the great task which he, Lord Fisher, had been engaged in for six years, as First Sea Lord—namely, preparation for a German war. Mr. Blunt, who had been entertaining the present Prime Minister, further records that the First Lord of the Admiralty had become most truculent about international affairs, being engrossed in preparation for war with Germany.

In regard to the French share of responsibility for the war, the Serbian Chargé d'Affaires said in September, 1911, that he had been informed from the most trustworthy source that M. Cambon had stated that the Morocco trouble would not end in war, but that France, together with her Allies, is of opinion that the war, even at the cost of a greater sacrifice, must be postponed to a later time, that is, to 1914–1915. The necessity for this postponement is required less by France's preparedness for war, which is complete, than by the organization of the upper command, which is not yet finished. The delay is wanted also by Russia. And I have no hesitation in saying that if one country more than another was responsible for the outbreak of war in 1914, it was Tsarist Russia, the first country to mobilize; for Russia mobilized before Germany. Russia was determined to get Constantinople and the control of the Straits, and foresaw that this might be secured during the European war.

On February 21, 1914, a War Council was held at Petrograd to elaborate—I quote the words of the Council— a general programme of action in order to secure for us a favourable solution of the historical question of the Straits. There exists much likelihood that we shall be able to solve the question of the Straits during the European war. Further reference was made to the "expected crisis" and there was a statement that "Russia's historical task in reference to the Straits consists in the extension of her dominion over the same."

On March 13, 1914, a Russian newspaper published an article declaring that Russia's strategy would be no longer defensive but active. Miss M. E. Durham, in her book Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle, relates how she was told in October, 1912, by the Russian Military Instructor in Montenegro attached to the Russian Legation, that "in two years from now we should be absolutely ready for our great war." The Serbian Minister at Petrograd, on September 27, 1912, quoted the Russian Foreign Minister as stating that in view of Serbia's great successes in the Balkan War he had confidence in Serbia's strength, and believed that she would be able to deliver a blow at Austria. For that reason the Serbs should feel satisfied with what they were to receive, and consider it merely as a temporary halting-place on the road to further gains, for the future belonged to them. The Russian Ambassador in Paris wrote to his Government in March, 1913, that no matter how terrible might be the consequences of a general conflict, the advantage in his opinion would be on the Russian side. In view of the warlike intrigues of the Tsarist Government, it is interesting to quote the opinion of Colonel Boucher, a popular French military critic, who early in 1914 said: Germany is threatened to-day on all her frontiers. To be in a position to resist the attacks which menace her on all sides, Germany is compelled to develop her military power to a supreme degree. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, said that in his; opinion the treatment of Germany after the last war was by no means unnecessarily harsh or unfair. He suggested that, if there was any difficulty with regard to food, this was due to quite unavoidable circumstances, and to the obstinacy of certain German Ministers with regard to the question of shipping. This view, however, does not altogether coincide with what the present Prime Minister said five months after the Armistice, when he stated that we were holding all our means of coercion in full operation and were enforcing the blockade with vigour, adding that all the evidence we had received from officers sent by the War Office showed the great privations from which the German people were suffering, and led him to conclude that this was the right moment at which to settle. I have reliable friends who visited Germany about: that time, and they tell me very ugly stories indeed of what they saw in the way of starvation among German and Austrian women and children, starvation caused by our blockade. They also had very ugly stories about the occupation of German territories by French coloured troops, for whose use German women were requisitioned.

The Commission of Doctors appointed by the medical faculties of Holland, Sweden and Norway, to examine the conditions in Germany, reported in the Swedish Press in April, 1919: Tuberculosis, especially in children, is increasing in an appalling way and, generally speaking, is malignant. It is impossible to do anything for these diseases. There is no milk for the tuberculous and no cod liver oil for those suffering from rickets. Tuberculosis … is the cause of 90 per cent. of the hospital cases. Nothing can be done against it owing to lack of foodstuffs. An observer who accompanied the Hoover Mission wrote: I visited large country districts where 90 per cent. of all the children were rickety and where children of three years were only beginning to walk, Accompany me to a school in Erzgebirge. You think it is a kindergarten for the little ones. No, these are children of seven and eight years—tiny faces with large dull eyes, overshadowed by puffed, rickety foreheads. Their small arms just skin and bone and above the crooked legs, with their dislocated joints, the swollen, pointed stomachs of hunger œdema. 'You see this child here, the physician in charge explained. 'It consumed an incredible amount of bread and yet it did not get any stronger. I found out that it hid all the bread it received underneath its straw mattress. The fear of hunger was so deeply rooted in the child that it collected stores instead of eating the food.' I take it that the majority of your Lordships have never seen starving children on a large scale, and certainly, I am glad to say, you have never seen the children of your own country starving. Hitler has seen the children of his country starving. I suggest to your Lordships that, if you had shared his experience, while certainly you would not agree with the ruthlessness which he displayed towards the people of neutral countries, you would at least begin to understand why he was ruthless when protecting his country from a repetition of that starvation by reason of blockade or defeat. Do not forget that when our national safety or victory is at stake we are perfectly prepared to kill the French.

Then the noble Lord criticized Germany very severely for secret rearmament. Possibly Germany might not have rearmed secretly if we had kept our pledges in regard to disarmament. There is, I know, a popular superstition that we did disarm, but that popular superstition is not based on fact. The truth is that when the rearmament race started we were slower at the beginning to rearm, a very different thing. Mr. Lloyd George, speaking at the Aldwych Club on November 8, 1927, said that the first blame he imputed was that the nations who had pledged themselves to disarmament, following the German example, had taken no steps to disarm. The conquering nations had at present in the aggregate, he said, over ten millions of trained men, better equipped for war than in 1914, against 200,000 to 300,000 possessed by Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria. They had not reduced these millions by a single division, flight of aeroplanes or battery of guns. Mr. Lloyd George said that that was dishonouring the solemn pledge which we gave before the Germans signed the Treaty of Versailles. It can also be seen from the figures published with regard to our military expenditure in 1930 that, even twelve years after the Treaty in which we promised to disarm in two years, and some time before the Nazi Government took power in Germany, we had not decreased our armaments by as much as ten per cent. on war-time figures.

The noble Lord also said that we were very wise not to return her Colonies to Germany, because, if we had done so, these Colonies might have been of great strategic value to the enemy in the present war. I would, however, suggest as an alternative that, if we had shown economic justice to the German people after the last war, and returned their Colonies, the present war might not have happened at all. The noble Lord went on to criticize very severely the attitude of the Germans with regard to Reparation payments. He said that the sums asked of Germany were really quite moderate, because they were less than the total war bill of the Allies. He went on to admit, however, that the sums asked were so large that it was physically impossible for Germany to pay them, which seemed to me rather to destroy the point of his first argument. He also said that, as the climax of their iniquity in this particular matter, the Germans had actually borrowed money with which to pay off Reparations and had then defaulted on the loan. If I make out that, by reason of wrongs committed, a man owes me money, and then proceed to lend him money to enable him to pay off his debt, it may be that that man is a rogue, but I think unquestionably I am a fool.

What really happened was just this. Our City Banks, not out of humanity or love for Germany, but as a commercial speculation to bring themselves profit, and also as an insurance against Bolshevism—for at that time they had as big a complex against our Soviet Ally as the noble Lord has against Germany—by a stroke of the pen created new English money to be paid to English people in England for making goods to send to Germany. When goods were sent over here from Germany, those goods were sold in this country for English money, and that money was used to pay off some of the loan. One of the most important reasons why more of it was not paid off was that the British Government, fearing unemployment, put up enormous tariff barriers against the entry of German goods. They lacked the wisdom to see that goods coming into a country are an asset to that country's wealth. They failed to create new money to enable their citizens to buy those goods, whether they were employed or unemployed, and thereby to make it easier for Germany to pay off the debt within a reasonable time.

There are two fundamental issues, however, on which I differ most sharply from the noble Lord. First he claimed that the German people were responsible for the war policy of their Government, and he went on to say that for that reason they should be punished for the war and made to pay for the war. Now I submit that no people in any real sense are responsible for the war policy of their Government. It may be an unpopular thing to say, but I am not out for popularity. I would say that the British people are in no sense responsible for this Polish war, the most disastrous and unnecessary war which irresponsible politicians ever landed a country in. The Polish Treaty was arranged, I believe, by a week-end meeting of Cabinet Ministers. The Polish war was arranged by Parliament, and the country was presented with an accomplished fact. Had it been told all the truth about the whole position, and had it been consulted, it would never have consented either to the Polish alliance or the Polish war.

Moreover, the people of a country, this country or Germany or anywhere else, are fed with propaganda continually through the Press and over the radio; they are given propaganda books like Black Record to read, important facts are kept from their knowledge until after the war is over, and their patriotism is appealed to in a hundred different ways. They are called up for military service, and if they refuse they are liable to be imprisoned and perhaps, on the Continent, even to be shot, and families suffer all the hardships that the families of some conscientious objectors have suffered in this country when the husbands have been unjustly imprisoned. Only a very tiny percentage of the people of any country can stand up to that persecution when fighting their Government. Only a very tiny percentage of our own people can do it, and therefore it is most unreasonable to expect the Germans to do it.

And then with regard to this question of punishing people for a war for which they are supposed to have been responsible, there is only one practical way in which a people can be made to pay for a war, or can be punished for a war, and that is by imposing upon them a tribute of goods. And if that tribute of goods is imposed upon a country impoverished by war, who are the greatest sufferers? As I have already pointed out, it is the little children, the babies—they are the chief sufferers, they pay most highly. And that is what the noble Lord calls justice! It is rank injustice and stupid cruelty. There is only one sane policy after a great world war, and that is for all nations to abandon this ridiculous idea of reparations and punishments, and to get together, letting bygones be bygones, co-operating with one another to do all they can to rebuild the shattered world. The wealthier nations should help the poorer ones, regardless of race or colour or political opinion, regardless of whether in the past they have been friends or enemies. I hope to God that when this war ends some statesman will arise somewhere in the world great enough and strong enough to insist that peace should be made on those terms.

I felt also that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has shown singularly poor judgment with regard to the time he selects for threatening the German people with vengeance disguised as justice. Will he never learn, I wonder, that it is not exactly a good plan to inform the bear you have not yet killed what you mean to do with his skin? It is particularly inadvisable when there is at least a possibility that, if you insist on continuing the conflict to the bitter end, at the finish he may be in a position to make some disposal of your skin, for then perhaps he may be tempted to give you a double dose of the medicine you prescribed for him. If this is the noble Lord's idea of diplomacy and the intelligent handling of human beings, I am not surprised that during the many years in which he held an influential position in the Foreign Office British diplomacy did not conspicuously promote the peace of Europe, and still less promote the ultimate safety and welfare of the British Empire. Many people have pointed out already that these threats of the noble Lord and other people simply serve to unite the German nation behind Hitler and behind the war. They serve no other purpose at all; and that is only another way of saying that they prolong the slaughter and suffering of our own people in the war. Therefore I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if this conflict should end disastrously for our nation there is no single Englishman who will have a graver share of responsibility than the noble Lord who sets his face so sternly against any idea of a negotiated peace.

I said earlier in my speech that the Home Secretary, in expressing himself in favour of treating the German people with fairness, was only expressing opinions which are in conformity with Christianity and common sense. I might also add that they were in conformity with the ideas, the ideals and the methods of those fine men who were the original founders of the Labour Movement. Unfortunately the majority of the Labour Party to-day seem to be largely unfaithful to many of those ideals and methods, particularly with regard to human brotherhood. I foresee that the time is coming when people, not only in the Labour Party but elsewhere, may bitterly regret that infidelity. If the members of the Labour Party of to-day had been true to the noble ideals and sensible methods of the founders of their Movement, and if they had taken an intelligent interest in financial reform, Britain to-day might have been leading the world along the paths of prosperity, peace and good fellowship, instead of plunging further and further along the road to chaos, urged on by the instigators of hatred and revenge, masquerading as justice, and by the purveyors of mental and spiritual dope.


My Lords, this House is always willing to hear with attention and respect views even the most violently opposed to your Lordships' general sentiments, and if any noble Lord feels sincerely that he must express such views it is better that he should do it here rather than elsewhere. Therefore I welcome the intervention of the noble Duke on this occasion, and I may add that I should not be sorry if he again intervened in your Lordships' debates, and if I had the opportunity of immediately following his second intervention. But while I differ in toto, and not without some suppressed emotion from what the noble Duke has said and from what the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, is about to say, I am sorry to say that I feel bound to differ from the attitude of Lord Vansittart himself, and I do so with the greater sorrow because I well remember the work we did together in the last war in the interests of prisoners. But I do feel that the attitude he has taken up, not perhaps so much in his last speech as in his writings, is playing straight into Dr. Goebbels's hands.

I do not know whether your Lordships will remember a contributed article in The Times of 8th May called "Civilian Germany." It referred to the great change in German propaganda. All the bombast, all the easy assurance of victory, all the comforting self-complacency, had gone. Dr. Goebbels now said that what the Germans had to look forward to was an epoch of sacrifice and privation, and that they must gird themselves to the task of saving Germany. In other words, he laid before them the alternative of either the Nazi Government or national annihilation. Surely that is not the kind of thing we want to encourage; but I am afraid that the attitude taken up by the noble Lord who started this debate will undoubtedly have this effect. One peculiarity of the Nazi Government and propaganda is that they arbitrarily classify humanity into Herrenvolk and Sklavenvolk, the Germans, of course, being the Oberherrenvolk. I am afraid that Lord Vansittart has found a third category, the Teufelvolk—I may say Oberteufelvolk—who are irredeemable and irreformable for an indefinite time. I cannot subscribe to any such view as that. Surely the task before us is clear enough, though it be not easy—to win the war, to crush the Nazis, to get together the strongest possible combination of Powers to prevent a repetition of the horrors which we have suffered, and the most acute vigilance to prevent a resurrection and a rearmament such as took place. To relegate them indefinitely to the outside of the ordinary human comity is, I submit, neither politic nor Christian.


My Lords, my noble friends on the Front Opposition Bench have kindly allowed me to speak at the Table. That does not indictate any political change in me; it is merely much more comfortable. The Leader of the House very considerately suggested we should have forty-eight hours in which to study and digest the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. It was very good of him to do that. The effect it has had on me is to give me a very acute attack of indigestion. I listened to the noble Lord's speech very carefully because he always marshals his facts extraordinarily well, and has great eloquence, though I am always a little mistrustful of eloquence. He gave what I consider to be a complete travesty of the Treaty of Versailles, or anyhow left out from it just the very matters which point to it as being to a very large extent the reason for the present terrible trouble we are in.

Former speakers have mentioned that he never said anything about the blockade. Of course that had, as my noble friend the Duke of Bedford said, a very great effect on the German temperament and on the health and outlook of all who were born about that time. He did not mention that the frontiers that were drawn up by the Treaty were strategic frontiers to keep Germany under the very careful vigilance of the other Powers of Europe. He did not mention what our statesmen thought of the Polish Corridor—how Lord Balfour and other members of the Government at that time were very doubtful that it would not become, in time, the cause of conflict which eventually it did. It was an impossible arrangement. He did refer to the punishment of war criminals. I lost my election in 1918 because I would not hang the Kaiser. We made ourselves a laughing stock over these war criminals. I was very sorry to see the Foreign Secretary taking up the idea of meeting together and seeing that all preparations were made to deal with the war criminals. It is really childish to suppose we can find these people and pick them out and condemn them. The Kaiser was going to be tried in Westminster Hall. I do not think that "hang the Kaiser" was started as a cry until it was firmly known and ascertained that the Dutch Government were not going to give him up.

All these side issues, some of them extremely relevant, were left out in the real pœan of praise which Lord Vansittart gave to the Treaty of Versailles. The best summary of the Treaty of Versailles was written by Mr. J. L. Garvin, in 1919, on the eve of the signing of the Treaty, and if your Lordships will allow me I shall quote it. He wrote: If the Germans are wise, they will sign, of course. But if they signed and sealed twenty times over, they, like any other race in their place, would determine to seize every such opportunity of mitigation or repudiation as the inevitable troubles and dissensions of the rest of the world are quite certain to provide. The root vice of the whole Treaty is that it leaves the German race no real hope except revenge—no matter how long the revenge may have to be deferred. In the whole Treaty there is no glimmering percep- tion of the constructive necessities of Europe as a whole. Universal and abiding antagonism to it will give the German people a fresh basis of common interest. After passing no doubt through confusions and convulsions they will be solidified and fortified by adversity. It is necessity that makes men strong, success that usually blinds them. Nothing could be better put, and for the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, to insist on the propagation of this particular doctrine which he has popularized in prose and in verse is very unfortunate.

He has one very grateful friend in Germany, as somebody suggested this afternoon, and that is Dr. Goebbels. We are not allowed to hear to what extent Dr. Goebbels quotes the noble Lord's speeches and writings, but of course just now they have a very special value for him. I dare say your Lordships see the bulletins issued by the Soviet Embassy. I get them two or three times a week, and they are interesting. It is very difficult for them to be publicly quoted in regard to facts and figures, but the parts that have interested me have been the letters and diaries found on the German prisoners which have illustrated the hideous torture that these German soldiers are going through. And they are beginning to be aware of it; they are beginning to see who is to blame for it; and beginning to see that it is more than human nature can stand. That is further illustrated by what I have seen only this morning in a speech of Marshal Goering's which is addressed—to whom? To "you men and women on the Home Front." They are frightened at what is going on on the Home Front, of the privations, the lack of food, the terrible reports of their menfolk at the Front, the boastings of what is coming off. And the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, takes this opportunity to tell the discontented people amid their growing resentment in Germany, that if we win we will let them have a very much worse time than they had last time!

That seems to me "fourth form" political war strategy. I am ashamed of any of my countrymen who will do anything of this kind at a moment such as this. I think I am right—and I know many of my friends who think the same—when I say that there is a growing feeling in Germany to-day that what Hitler is making them do is not good enough; but when they turn to see what we are going to do with them, they see that Lord Vansittart says that last time we were far too lenient, so that whereas last time a few children had rickets and died, this time scores of them will suffer if Lord Vansittart has his way. I have known the noble Lord at the Embassy and——


I must ask the noble Lord to quote one passage from my speech which lends any colour to what he is saying now. I have never said at any time anything that lends the least colour to what he has just said, to what Lord Rankeillour said, or to what Lord Ponsonby is saying. I got up and made some remarks about the Treaty of Versailles. They were historic and objective statements. I must ask the noble Lord to substantiate now with quotations what he has just said in regard to me, and I am sure he will oblige me.


I do not think the noble Lord can have forgotten the remarkable speech which he has made. The whole trend of it, the liet motif of the whole speech, was that the Treaty of Versailles was just.


I beg to interrupt again——


The noble Lord himself said he was not a person who was vindictive but claimed to be an advocate of the truth. He went through the various clauses of the Versailles Treaty and said it was perfectly just and not in the least vindictive, and he would certainly repudiate any idea that it had anything to do with the causes of this war. He is not the first who has said this. I think Mr. Duff Cooper—I am not quite certain what office he has now, if any—said at one time that the Treaty of Versailles would be mere leniency compared to the Treaty we should make when we had won this war. I have seen that Goebbels has been quoting the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, and I emphasize that, when appeals have to be made to the Home Front in Germany because their leaders are very frightened that they are not going to be able to keep up the extraordinary toughness they have shown hitherto, it is regrettable that someone here should prophesy about the sort of Treaty they are going to get.

If the noble Lord were not so accomplished in the way of expressing himself, if he had not held very high positions, and been intimate with the secrets of the British Government, if he had not been the Diplomatic Adviser of the Government—there has not been one since, and I hope there will not be one again—and if what he says were not taken back and used in Germany as propaganda, it would not matter so much. But people do listen to the noble Lord, and a publication has practically put its pages at his disposal. No, if I take him seriously it is because I think he deserves to be taken seriously. He is accomplished. If he were not accomplished we should not pay any attention to him, and I think it is most regrettable that anybody should really do this just at a critical moment in this very critical year. We must feel just now very specially that what is wanted in this country is something to give a ray of hope to people that this terrible hell is not going to get worse and worse. That is wanted undoubtedly. We may go on as we are going interminably perhaps, but what I find in the country, as I think most people do, is a sort of apathy which is based on acquiescence and accompanied by a very bewildered Sense of geography that does not make for enthusiasm.

We might win the the war after a long time, but we want no assistance from periodic vilification of the enemy by the noble Lord. We can go on in our own way, and it is not our way—only the way of just small sets of people from time to time—to set up the vilification of the enemy. It is a very dangerous thing to do, because it is seldom very well done. Atrocities, of course—that is the great card for this sort of people to play. I am rather surprised that we did not hear from the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, about things like the corpse factory. That had a great effect. But wiser people in wiser moments reject that type of argument and like to feel that we stand on our own, doing our best, looking forward to a high ideal, without wanting to be diverted from it by low-class vituperation and abuse. I am glad we have had this debate and that the noble Lord has had the opportunity of saying precisely what he means. His speech was interesting, but as I said in my opening sentence, the study of it gave me indigestion—I will not say nausea. But I believe that in your Lordships' House opinions may be expressed which would hardly be listened to elsewhere, and I think it is very much to the credit of your Lordships' House that within a few days in the same debate you have listened carefully and respectfully both to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, and the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford.


My Lords, after being seventeen years a silent member of your Lordships' House, I hardly know whether to apologize for that silence or to apologize for breaking it. I would, however, like to give a word of explanation. It is not indeed that I have not on many occasions wished to crave your Lordships' indulgence for a few moments but, as I have written frequently in the public Press, this House is, in my opinion, the greatest body of experts in the world—experts on every subject contained in the Encyclopœdia Britannica and I have no doubt on some subjects that are not covered by that magnum opus. However, when I have keyed myself up to the necessary pitch of temerity to address your Lordships in a maiden speech, I have always found that there was at least one other noble Lord who knew far more about my selected subject than I did myself, and on consultation I have always found that he was not only ready to speak on the subject but had indeed anticipated me in intention. On this occasion I break my long silence in order to crave your indulgence for a few minutes while I support every word that my noble friend Lord Vansittart so ably said last Tuesday, in initiating this debate. In his knowledge of the German people the noble Lord is second to none. He has on other occasions told your Lordships' House, and he has certainly written, that his knowledge of the German people comes from being educated in Germany prior to the first German war of 1914–18. Thence his field broadens both backwards through his great knowledge of history and forward from his student days to the unique position which he held for so many years among the diplomats of the world.

It is not for me to throw out tentacles into history or to attempt to scale the Olympian heights of diplomacy. I would rather that your Lordships should picture a rather untidy undergraduate on vacation from Oxford arriving in grey flannel trousers at a seat of Kultur in Munich. That was in 1922. I admit that, as I was one of the first students from the conquering nation to arrive there, my fellow students were very kind to me. In fact, so kind were they that I was in grave danger of teaching them English instead of their teaching me German. Even at that time the cloud of revenge could be seen, though it was then no larger than a man's hand. I am not going to pretend that the aforesaid undergraduate saw this at the time, but there were those who did. However, I did wake up with a shock a little time later when we were singing student songs one night in a Bierstube in Munich. A new song, or at least it was new to me, was sung which may be roughly translated as follows: Though the whole world is ruined round us after the war, What the devil do we care? We don't care a hoot any more, We will go marching forward, though everything fall away, For the world will be cur's to-morrow, as Germany is to-day. That was a very useful song, because I need hardly remind your Lordships that the prefixing of the letters "ge" transforms the German word for to "hear" into the German word for to "belong." The song could therefore be sung, and indeed was sung, with complete impunity in front of unsuspecting foreigners.

I could weary the House with further shocks that the aforesaid undergraduate received, and with later shocks that he also received when he became foreign correspondent in that country, and on repeated visits up to the outbreak of war, but it would not serve my purpose because nobody contends that there is anything good about the Nazis. My point is that by "the Nazis" is sometimes meant a clique of gangsters who have succeeded in enslaving and bending to their bloodthirsty yoke a kindly and peace-loving German people. If there is any one among your Lordships who holds this view, I will not apologize for taking the time of your Lordships' House if any words of mine can play any small part in dispelling that illusion. Hitler was an almost unheard of tub-thumper at the time of which I am speaking. It was not under Hitler but under the democratic Weimar Constitution, which allied sentimentalists gave to the German people, that a Director of Physics at Heidelberg University refused to fly the flag at half mast over the University in mourning for the great Jewish statesman Rathenau. Worse than that, he hauled down the flag of Weimar and put up the flag of Bismarck's Empire. There was a democratic student there who hauled it down, and he was sentenced in a German Court to one year's imprisonment.

One could go on multiplying incidents of this sort which had nothing to do with Hitler but occurred during the democratic Weimar régime. There were cases where pacific professors were made to discontinue lecturing at the University because of certain passages in their public statements, but I will not weary your Lordships' House with them, although I have them here if anyone cares to see them. I would like, however, to say one word about the bogus edifice of the Weimar Constitution. That was not created by Hitler. To quote from one of its school text-books: War is the antidote for the weeds of peace. Without war the world would have fewer great men. It is sweet to die for the Fatherland. Rather, therefore, let us say that it was Germany that made Hitler. Indeed, when that supreme opportunist arrived very little adjustment was needed. Intensification of natural tendencies became the Nazi watchword. Thus we come to the text-books of the Nazis in which it is exemplified. I take the following problem in elementary mathematics from a school text-book which is in use throughout Germany: A lung without blood weighs 530 grammes. The lung of a soldier poisoned with phosgene weighs 2,650 grammes. How many grammes of lymph have got into the lung? When I left Germany on September 1, 1939, it was reckoned that there were over a million copies of that text-book in use in German schools.

Your Lordships may ask why I have been at such pains to try to prove my first point. My point is that the Nazis are but the self-seeking instrument of the German people's innate lust for acquisition by bloodshed. Whereas our word for "war" is derived from an ancient word meaning to disturb or perturb—in fact, a disagreeable thing—the German word for "war" is derived from an old German word meaning to acquire or to achieve—a desirable thing, in fact. I think perhaps that in the differences of language one sometimes finds reflected differences in the characters of peoples. Now it would make very little difference if a minority of people in this country believed that the poor Germans were being oppressed by the nasty Nazis, but when the Home Secretary makes a statement to the textile trades in Blackpool that—I quote: I am against that foolish and purposeless vindictiveness which was sought to be imposed for a time after the last war"— matters take on a very serious aspect in my opinion.

Now in Lord Nathan's most able apologia—I do not know if that is the right word to use—or the message, perhaps, that he delivered from the Home Secretary in explanation, it seems to me that the explanation is based on an argument which I thought had been very well threshed out in Alice in Wonderland. That is the question of whether "I say what I mean" is the same as "I mean what I say." Even if the Home Secretary did not say what he meant I think that he should at least be governed by as stringent rules as are journalists who write for the public Press. I need hardly point out that it is no defence against libel to say: "That was not what I meant." It is what you write that matters. What you had in your head has nothing whatever to do with it. The question is what will a reasonable man understand when he reads it. I cannot suppose that any reasonable man who read this sentence of the Home Secretary's would not have thought that he was referring to the Treaty of Versailles. Now, if we are to be led by the Home Secretary and his friends into treating the Germans more kindly than we did at Versailles, he and his friends, for he represents a minority, will lose this peace for us just as people of parallel mentality lost the last one for us.

Only one thing, to my mind, is certain. I do not think it is the business of anybody at the moment to try to outline a peace in conditions which are as yet very uncertain. And I am convinced that the perpetual peace of Europe does not lie along the path of the Home Secretary's idealism. Fortunately, it looks as though the Russians, the Czechs and the Poles and all the races who are at present suffering torture under the Nazi heel, will have a very active say in the matter of dealing out German justice to the German people before the Home Secretary and his friends have time to come to their rescue. Fortunately, also, the vast majority of people in this country do not agree with the Home Secretary. They have written to me in their hundreds, and some, I may say, have used language which would sound most inappropriate in your Lordships' House. If I may, with your Lordships' permission I will read a letter from a Belgian officer serving in this country in the common cause: Since the beginning of this war the peoples neighbouring on Germany have often been terrified at the idea which sometimes comes to the surface among the United Nations that Hitler does not represent Germany and that the German people only follow its leader willy-nilly. These theories cause despair among the peoples who are suffering under German occupation and, on occasions, give them nightmares lest a peace built on these illusions should come to pass. That is one side of the picture. But the Home Secretary's remarks did two-fold damage. This is the other side of the picture. There are a number of persons in this country who, as yet, do not at all understand the nature of total war, and to this section the Home Secretary's words and the words of those who speak like him come as a breath of fresh air over the hot desert. I have here a letter from a recruiting officer in Birmingham which I beg your Lordships' leave to read. He writes: I assure you it would appal you to know the utter lack of interest in the war of the youth up here. Aided and abetted by their employers, they do their best to avoid service by pleading reserved occupations. In fact, all that they care about is money and amusements. Morrison's speech did incalculable harm here as, unfortunately, there are thousands here who say that the German people are not at all bad. It is far more in sorrow than in anger that I implore the Home Secretary not to make further utterances in public which are calculated to throw our Allies into despair, encourage our slackers, and give comfort to His Majesty's enemies.


My Lords, I think that the noble Marquess is not doing the country great service by his articles or by his speech to-day. I am perfectly certain that he genuinely holds the views which he has expressed, and I think that probably the majority of the people of this country hold those views; but it serves no purpose to advertise them, and it serves no purpose to attack members of His Majesty's Government. Of course, we all frequently disagree not only with Mr. Herbert Morrison but with a great many other members of the Government, but the worst service that we can render to this country at the present time is to show any cleavage of opinion or lack of solidarity in the country as a whole. I think that it was unfair to leave out of the noble Marquess's articles that section of Mr. Herbert Morrison's speech which really conveyed something about which we are all agreed.


I beg to point out that I printed the paragraph the following week, after the Home Secretary asked me to do so.


Yes, the following week. This is what the Home Secretary said: I am absolutely and firmly of opinion that … we must make it utterly impossible for Germany or any other country with a warlike tradition to engage in war again, or to pursue policies which will lead to war. That is the policy, I think, of all of us here; and to select one section of that speech and to try to show that the Home Secretary is giving away his country's cause is, I think, most unfortunate, and quite unnecessary. The whole object of the Party truce is to stop that kind of partisan political action.

That is my main objection to the really marvellous speech to which we listened on the last occasion from the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. I do not think that in all my experience of this or the other House I have ever listened with such amazement to such a tour de force of oratory. The noble Lord, who did not use a note, made endless quotations. He must have learnt his speech by heart, and for sheer eloquence it was the greatest possible pleasure for this House to listen to it. At the same time it was proof positive to me that the noble Lord was lacking in proper judgment. With ability such as that, and with a memory such as he has, he ought to have resigned his post in the administration in 1934 and come into the House of Commons. There he would have created for himself a career and, although I hope that with his present views he will not now be in the Administration, he would certainly have been far more powerful in the House of Commons during those five or six years for which he was marooned in an office by himself in the Foreign Office.

I wish that the noble Lord would realize that when he left the Civil Service and came into your Lordships' House he, too, became a politician. He joined those unfortunate, virtuous strivers after philosophy and justice who are so universally rent and torn and blackguarded by everybody outside the charmed circle. He has got into that charmed circle now, and he should not attack politicians any more. He quoted Stevenson's comment, that "Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no previous preparation is thought necessary." And if Stevenson did not say it, I do—"and I hope your Lordships will agree that that is a manly attitude to adopt towards quotations." That was another gem which we had from him. I hope he has realized that politicians, by the time that they have got to this Chamber, are pretty well prepared for the job of politics, and that this war is being conducted at the present time by the politicians of the British Empire and of all the other democratic nations against the enemies of politicians who spend and waste their time in blackguarding the whole of us. The noble Lord would have improved his speech if he had left the gibe at politicians for the sort of people who enjoy gibes of that sort.

There is another point about his speech which I think we should observe. Too often, when we get into this House, and indeed in later life generally, we spend our time in trying to justify our past. It is an awful prospect if everybody is going to try to do that! I cannot remember in my own past, of course, any particular thing that needs justification, but I am perfectly certain that other people would not take the same view. I look round this Chamber and I see many noble Lords who were great supporters of Hitler and Mussolini in the past, and who were appeasers. Even the Leader of the House, I think, retained office all the time that the Abyssinia trouble was going on. Even the best of us have a most murky past, and I do beg the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, not to waste any more time trying to defend his.

It is not so much the Versailles peace which has caused trouble in this world. I am almost entirely with him over the Versailles peace; in fact, I think I actually voted for it. The talk about "mak- ing the pips squeak" was perhaps a little foolish, but at any rate the British Government and Mr. Lloyd George did try to get out of the Reparations imbroglio as soon as they possibly could. Unfortunately, however, Lord Vansittart, Sir Austen Chamberlain and one or two others kept up the vendetta against Germany by supporting an equally offensive Imperialism on the part of the French Government. I cannot help feeling that the French Government, by their conduct during the peace, not only in connexion with Reparations but by their general air of dictation to Europe, their prevention of any form of union in Austria, their attitude towards the Polish question, and in a hundred ways, perhaps worst of all by their attitude towards the occupation of the Ruhr and the repayment of the American debt, were the fashioners of the Nazi spirit; and in their attitude they were supported very largely, I regret to think, by the noble Lord.

I do not think Weimar was by any means an admirable Government, but it was better than the Nazi Government, and we might have given it a chance. It is unnecessary to go into all this back history now—unnecessary and undesirable, a mere egotistic waste of time. We really need not bother about what ignorant people say of us. It does not matter what they say; we can form our minds afresh. Take the quotation given by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, the other day—and I am very grateful to him for it—"If he did not say it, I do." How sick and tired we get in politics, and outside as well, of what Mr. Gladstone said in 1866. What does it matter what Mr. Gladstone said in 1866; or what Lord Vansittart said in 1922, or any of the rest of us? It may be interesting to the historian, but we are older than those statesmen were in those days; we have learnt more, we are wiser. What we think is more important than what somebody else thought in the back ages. It is very beautiful when you find Marcus Aurelius providing you with a perfect quotation, but it is much more useful that you should discover that quotation for yourself, discover some of the truth for yourself.

Then I think there is another point. We do not want this House to be a place for the justification of our personal careers, nor do we want it to be an opportunity for attacking Ministers for what they have said elsewhere. After all, if Mr. Morrison had said in another place what he is now challenged upon, we should not have been able to criticize it. Because he said it outside we can, but the poor man cannot reply. There is no means whereby he can state his case except by a secretary in the Press, and I think we want Ministers to express their views, whether we like them or not, as freely and openly as possible. Of course the real fact of the matter was that Lord Vansittart did not really want to attack Mr. Morrison at all. He was a sort of peg on which to hang a perfect speech. Having produced a gem like that in the early hours of the morning—when one gets the brightest ideas—he had to have the opportunity of delivering that speech, and he must have waited months until he found this God-given opportunity. But it is rather rough on the Home Secretary.

I think there should be a sort of close time, for Ministers on the platform and when they are not present, in this House. Parliament—the House of Commons, the House of Lords—is the proper place in which to attack Ministers and tell them what you think of them in war-time. But I think in this case we might very well have a close time, both for the Prime Minister and for a good many of his colleagues. The best way to influence them is to write them private letters. It is extraordinary, the way this habit of writing letters has become more and more engrained. I have no doubt the fan-mail of the noble Marquess, Lord Donegall, and of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has a terriffic effect upon them. You count them up—five hundred, six hundred, seven hundred—and you begin to believe you are the most popular and the wisest man on earth. I once had three thousand, but that was on the abdication of King Edward. I was not the wisest man on earth. And, you know, the number of letters you get is nothing to the number of letters you do not get.

But I am wandering from the subject. The real difference between me and Lord Vansittart is fundamental. He will go on seeing this war as one of the nice old-fashioned eighteenth century wars between two national flags, between two crowned heads—more or less crowned—between dynastic and possibly economic powers, and I do not think it is anything of the sort. I am not interested in Germany in the least: I am interested in the people we are fighting, and that is by no means all the German people, or all the Austrian people, or even all the Italian people. We are fighting the Fascists, the Nazis; we are fighting a school of thought. This is an international war. You have got both sides in this country, and you have got both sides in Germany. You have got both sides in every country in the world, including the United States of America, and even including Japan. This is the reproduction of the Thirty Years War—a war between two different religions, the religion of freedom and the religion of authority. I have not the slightest doubt which will win, which has always won in the past. Freedom will come out triumphant in the end, but it will come out triumphant much more quickly if we realize what we are fighting for and do away with all this sham idea that it is two countries fighting one another.

I make it my duty now to take the presidency, the chairmanship, or vice-chairmanship of every one of these alien societies, the German Democrats, the League of Youth—all those fancy bodies which I believe that Lord Vansittart would lock up. I want to get the maximum number of people in France, and in Italy, and in Denmark and elsewhere on our side against the doctrines which happen for the moment to be dominant in those countries. I want to win this war. I want to win it, as Stalin wishes to win it, by getting the people, even in Germany, on our side. I am not anxious about what will happen to Germany after the war and about whether we shall be able to prevent Germany from doing the same again, because I know, and everybody knows, that this war can only end by revolution in Germany. This time it will not stop short. When that revolution comes we shall see those whom Lord Vansittart and I both hate with equal detestation—I believe so—hanged as high as Haman, not as part of the terms of peace, but by the people they have duped, swindled, robbed, and murdered.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, in the very interesting speech he made to us to-day, said he was very glad we had had this debate. I am afraid I cannot altogether agree. I do not think that this debate, however high the motives that have inspired it, has been your Lordships' most helpful contribution in the present situation. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, no doubt would say that the noble Duke (the Duke of Bedford) has been a help to Dr. Goebbels. Lord Ponsonby said Lord Vansittart had been a help to Dr. Goebbels. Lord Wedgwood said the Marquess of Donegall had been a help to Dr. Goebbels. In fact, the only thing that seems to be common ground is that Dr. Goebbels has been helped. But whatever else may be said about this debate, I think this can be said, that it is a very remarkable demonstration of the catholicity of your Lordships' House. I do not suppose that in any other assembly in the world at the present time could you have got such outspoken diversity of views on questions of such extreme delicacy. In particular, we have had two very remarkable maiden speeches, and I agree with what Lord Rankeillour said, that although we may not agree with these speeches, at the same time we are glad to see these noble Lords here, and we shall hope to hear from them again on future occasions.

The Motion which Lord Vansittart introduced two days ago with such a very powerful and brilliant speech is, of course, based on some remarks that were made by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, which seem to have caused considerable perturbation in various quarters. I really think that the alarm that they caused has been exaggerated. There has been a sort of suggestion—it has not been made to-day except possibly by the noble Marquess, Lord Donegall—that the speech represented some alteration or modification of the policy of His Majesty's Government and indicated some weakening of the stern resolve with which we entered this war. I really cannot see that the remarks of my right honourable friend give any ground for such a suggestion, and indeed Lord Vansittart himself did not really suggest that. I have read the relevant passage of the Home Secretary's speech most carefully and I would like to read it in full to the House now because the one thing that has not yet been done is to give the House exactly what the Home Secretary said. I believe that probably a good many of his critics have not read the full paragraph at all. Therefore I propose, if your Lordships will allow me, to read the relevant passage.

This is what my right honourable friend said: We, and other nations too, when the victory over Fascism is won—as won it shall be—must be willingly ready to find such money and men as are necessary for the imposition of peace upon unruly and warlike nations until humanity has learnt to behave itself. I am for justice to the German people. I am against that foolish and purposeless vindictiveness which was sought to be imposed for a time after the last war. I am for the United Nations co-operating with all other nations for the economic and social welfare of every nation—and let me add of every Colonial people. I am for helping the peoples of the former Fascist nations to make a success of free democratic government; but I am absolutely and firmly of the opinion that, even though it will involve the setting aside of money and men by the peaceful nations, we must make it utterly impossible for Germany or any other country with a warlike tradition to engage in war again or to pursue policies which will lead to war. I really do not think that is so very bad.


Almost platitudinous.


The noble Lord may think it platitudinous, but it is not dangerous, and there are very much worse things than platitudes. So far as the policy of His Majesty's Government is concerned, that is, as the House knows very well, laid down very clearly in the Atlantic Charter and nothing has altered or will alter that. That is a fact. We are signatories to that Charter and we remain pledged to it. I should like to read to the House the two relevant Articles of the Atlantic Charter if your Lordships will forgive me for doing so. They are a little long but they are important in assessing the Home Secretary's speech. The first one is this. The signatories believe all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as for 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 believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. That is the first relevant Article.

The second one is Article 6 which states: After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny, they"— that is, the signatories again— 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. There is nothing at all that my right honourable friend said which conflicts in any way with that.

He said—and this appears to be one of the things that caused the perturbation—that he was for justice for the German people. I thought justice was one of the things for which we were fighting this war—justice first of all for the peoples whose countries have been occupied and enslaved by Germany, justice for ourselves, but justice for Germany too—justice, stern and unflinching for those Germans who are guilty of the abominable crimes we have witnessed. That is one of the main causes for which we are fighting. A good deal, of course, depends on what one means by justice. That point was dealt with in an article written by the noble Marquess, Lord Donegall, whom, as I have said, we welcome to-day, in the Sunday Dispatch on May 10 last. I should like, if I may—though it is not usual to comment on maiden speeches—to say a few words about this article. I do not complain—none of us could complain—that in it the noble Marquess should have given details of German atrocities or Nazi atrocities, whichever way you like to put it, because after all I think he is perfectly right in saying that there are a great many people in this country who do not quite realize even now what we are up against—the utterly inhuman régime which now governs Germany. But I do, if I may say so, rather regret the conclusion to which he comes. I should like to read one paragraph from his article. He says: Mr. Morrison is not the only man to want justice for the German people when we have cleaned up this war. Lord Vansittart and I also want justice for the German people. But where Vansittart and I part company from the Home Secretary is that we want German justice for the German people, not British. We are becoming accustomed in these times to having the habits and customs and political institutions of other countries compared favourably with our own. I myself am old-fashioned enough still to prefer our own ways. It is my belief that when this war is over the part we have played will compare favourably with the part played by any other country. No doubt we have something to learn from these other countries. But I think they also—all of them—have a good deal to learn from us. At any rate, when we are asked to emulate Nazi justice, I feel that is really going too far. After all, what is German justice under the Nazi régime? because all these particular atrocities which he mentions were done under the Nazi régime. What is German justice under the Nazi régime? It is the negation of justice. It is oppression, it is brutality, it is sadistic cruelty at its very worst. By all means, let us have justice, as stern and unflinching as you like, against the Nazi leaders and those of their followers who have been guilty of these detestable crimes, but let it be British justice. Otherwise I do not see what we are fighting for at all. I believe—and in this I should probably find Lord Vansittart himself in agreement with me—that if we are going to endure through this war, if we are going to rally all those who are in the world around us, we must stand for principles in which we ourselves believe.

There is another alternative conception of justice. It was mentioned this afternoon by the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford, and I am bound to say that I find myself even more in disagreement with his conception. The noble Duke seems, after two years of murder and rapine absolutely unrivalled in history, still not to see that Germany is worthy of criticism, or of punishment in any way whatever. If he will allow me to say so, he seems conveniently to forget Norway, Austria. Czecho-Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Holland, all of them little, happy countries which did not want to come into the war, but stayed out of it as long as they possibly could—rather too long perhaps—in their anxiety to avoid the horrors that threatened them, yet finally were given up to the sword and to murder.


And Denmark.


I do not think that I have by any means completed the list. But they were all countries of the same kind, harmless countries, in no way aggressive countries. I am bound to say that most of us cannot regard the Nazi leaders in any way as other than gangsters who have given irrefutable evidence that their word is not to be trusted—cannot be trusted—and as persons whose hands are stained by unmentionable crimes. A negotiated peace with them would be an unpardonable betrayal both of our country and the world in general. Moreover, it would not be in fact peace at all. At best, it would be a short, uneasy breathing space, and it would lead to a renewal of the war as soon as they were ready for it. His Majesty's Government have already made it abundantly clear that they cannot consider a peace made with the Nazi leaders, and I have no doubt that that is the feeling of the overwhelming majority of the British people. I must repeat once more: we must be just not only to Germany but to all the people in the occupied countries, and to the people of our own country who have suffered so grieviously from this war. Whilst the Nazi leaders are in control in Germany, there can be neither peace nor justice in Europe.

And now, if I may, I will pass to one other phrase in the speech of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, which I think has also caused anxiety, the phrase which indeed has caused most anxiety to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart—namely, his reference to past history and to our treatment of Germany after the last war. I got the same impression as the noble Lord, Lord Wedgwood, that Lord Vansittart was anxious in any case to make such a declaration to this House, and that it was really that and not the Home Secretary's speech that made him put down his Motion. He found a convenient peg on which to hang his speech. He has long been anxious to explode the suggestion which has been made in certain quarters for a great many years, that the Treaty of Versailles was unfair to the Germans. We must, I think, face the fact that there always will be a difference of view about the Treaty of Versailles. There are some, like Lord Ponsonby, who still think that it was far too severe; at least so I understood from his speech this afternoon. There are others who think that it was not nearly severe enough. Personally, speaking merely for myself, I have very considerable sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, on this point of what is called ancient history. I too feel that, considering that Germany undoubtedly, in spite of what the noble Duke has said, did start the Great War of 1914 and caused untold suffering and misery throughout the world, she got off very lightly. She emerged with her boundaries almost undiminished, and, as we now see, with her energies largely unimpaired. We may well imagine what would have happened to us if Germany had won, by looking at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

But to return to the Home Secretary's speech, whatever has been done in the past, there is one thing that is certain, the policy that was adopted after the last war is not the same policy as that which is outlined in the Atlantic Charter. The policy after the last war was calculated, if not altogether intended, to penalize Germany economically as well as militarily. Now, the conception of the Atlantic Charter is a completely different one. There is in it an absolute determination to prevent Germany or any other aggressive nation from again achieving a position which would enable it to inflict such another catastrophe on the world. Those nations are to be disarmed and, as I understand it, they are to be kept disarmed. But there is no intention to discriminate against them permanently from the economic point of view. On the contrary, the Atlantic Charter specifically states that the signatories will endeavour, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world, which are needed to their economic prosperity. What that means, in simpler words, is that so long as Germany behaves in a law-abiding manner—if she is capable of doing such a thing—she will be treated economically like all other nations. That is the difference between what happened last time and what is envisaged this time; and that is no doubt what my right honourable friend had in mind in making his speech.

The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, may feel that that is not quite the way he would have expressed it. But no two people express themselves in exactly the same way. I remember occasions when the noble Lord himself has not been immune from criticism and misrepresentation in that respect. But I can give him, and I can give the House, an absolute assurance, both on behalf of His Majesty's Government and on behalf of the Home Secretary himself, that there is no question of any departure by His Majesty's Government from the policy of the Atlantic Charter, which remains the fundamental basis for the policy of His Majesty's Government and of the United States and of the United Nations as a whole, who have adhered to that Charter.


My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, replies there is one consideration which I should like to bring very briefly to your Lordships' notice. It is one which, considerably to my surprise, has not been alluded to in this debate, and that is as to the advisability of distinguishing between the German people in their capacity as individuals and as members of the German body politic. As I see it, an intact Germany must remain a menace to the peace of the world. At the same time German citizens, in their capacity as citizens, certainly both for humanitarian and political reasons, must be treated as human beings. The remedy therefore is not merely justice but cruelty, as far as the Reich as a political body is concerned, coupled with mercy towards the German as an individual. For that purpose that unwieldy mass which we know now as the German Empire should be broken up into a number of its component parts. We cannot go back perhaps to the thirty-three States before 1914 or to the 500 odd of the Middle Ages, because it would be wrong to set up States so small that they could not form proper economic units. But Germany should be broken up into from five to eight States and in that break-up only two considerations should have any part.

Firstly, it should be made absolutely certain that there are going to be no large minorities of Germans left in any other State to cause trouble in the future, as happened in Austria and the Sudeten-land and elsewhere. Secondly, the partition States should be sufficiently large to have every chance of a prosperous existence. Once those premises are accepted, though I am all in favour of the due punishment of the worst criminals, individual Germans should be treated with every consideration so that they may be re-educated—or rather educated, I do not think the "re" is required—to take his part as a European citizen. But Germany in its present form, whether as a Democratic Republic, a Communist Republic, a Monarchy or under any other system of government is, I submit, a complete and permanent danger to the peace of Europe. That peace can only be permanently secured, if Germany is split into its component parts.


My Lords, everything that has been said in this debate as to my personal attitude has been both irrelevant and inaccurate. I put down this Motion with some hesitation and diffidence. I had not been stewing over it for a long time, as my noble friend Lord Wedgwood suggested, but I hesitated very much about it. I put the Motion down for one reason only and that was that I thought the Home Secretary, probably involuntarily, had refurbished for Germany an old weapon of propaganda of which much misuse had been made in the past, and I wanted to try, so far from helping Dr. Goebbels—I know that old crack—to take this weapon away from him. Some noble Lords to-day have done their best to give it him back. None the less, I feel I was quite right to perform the object that I had in view, which was to put on record in succinct and easily accessible form a refutation of a most pernicious myth.

I felt that it was necessary that somebody should do that who could speak with a certain authority and on these matters I do speak with a certain authority. My noble friend Lord Ponsonby accused me of fourth-form diplomacy. He will not take it amiss if, crack for crack, I remind him that he was also in my service and never got beyond the third form. I was not only in the sixth form but I was head of the school for eight years. I have no doubt my noble friend thinks that I had no business in the sixth and that I was a rotten head of the school. He is quite free to hold that opinion, but there are the facts all the same.

It would be impossible to follow all the references made to myself and I am not going to attempt to do so, but there is one point I would like to take up. That is my noble friend Lord Wedgwood's criticism of my quotation of Stevenson. I said it was not the intention of the Home Secretary to indict himself and it is equally not my intention to indict myself. I am now a politician and I was quoting Stevenson with disapproval. It would be wrong of me to inflict a second speech upon your Lordships, and even if I did I could not cover all the ground, but I think I have made my object perfectly clear. It was to correct a misapprehension, to disarm propaganda. It was not my intention, as I have made perfectly clear, to attack the Home Secretary, and I most certainly did not wish to involve him in being defended by the Duke of Bedford. Having achieved my object by putting on record what I shall consider, and I hope a great many other people will consider, an authoritative statement on this matter, which is not seriously challenged for the simple reason that it is not possible to do so, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned.