My Lords, we now come to the main business on the Paper. As your Lordships know, there 120 are two Motions down, one in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, and the other in the name of the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester. They are of course by no means identical in terms, but they both deal with a certain aspect of international affairs, notably the occupation of Germany. I therefore think it will probably be to the convenience of the House if we take these two Motions together, and I understand that this course is agreeable to the noble Lord and the right reverend Prelate.
§ LORD VANSITTART rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether the occupation of Germany will be undertaken by all the Allied Powers and not merely by the three great Powers; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, Hitler often said that he would settle history for a thousand years of German supremacy. I think most of us, on a much more modest computation, would be prepared to compound for one hundred years of German humility—the quality no German has ever known or shown. Indeed in the last analysis, for the sheer lack of it, they have plunged the world into two terrible wars. After the first war they had ample opportunity, and indeed every reason, to learn this saving grace, but they would have none of it. Deliberately and intentionally they turned away and became again inflated—a nation of swollen heads and swollen souls that must be deflated lest they inflict a third war on us. Some are born humble, some achieve humility, others have humility thrust upon them. The Germans belong to this third category, and the thrust will have to be hard. That is the chief psychological reason for the Motion I am submitting to your Lordships to-day.
§ I am well aware that it looks to the future rather than to the immediate present, but we should endeavour to look as far ahead as possible. I am, moreover, aware that the immediate future bristles with practical difficulties, but in view of the considerations which I propose to submit to-day these obstacles should be overcome. What could be more for the greater benefit of mankind than that the Germans should learn respect for those whose very right to existence they have so long and brutally denied, for two hundred years in theory, for thirty years in bloody practice? I hope we shall take some account of that, for it is not likely 121 that the Germans will learn this humility from occupation by the Big Three alone. I understand that the French have applied for participation, and I support that request. I should be glad to know if His Majesty's Government do likewise and, if so, what scope will be accorded to the French request. In some respects that is less important from the psychological point of view, on which this application has no bearing, because the French of course took part in the last occupation. It would be more important, say, that the Poles should take part. For one hundred and seventy years the Germans have contemned and despised the Poles; they have treated them abominably for one hundred and seventy years. This contempt is a plague spot which must be cut out of German mentality.
§ If the application of the French and perhaps of the Poles is to be granted, what valid reasons have we for denying it in the other cases? I have seen suggestions that the other applicants, or potential applicants should be content with a token participition. From the psychological point of view—that is from the long-range point of view—such a solution would be absolutely useless. We need the genuine and substantial thing. As I have said, this humility will not be learnt by an occupation which is a monopoly. All that will happen will be that the Germans will again intrigue and hate, just as they did after the last war, and they will seek to prise asunder the corner-stones of peace List as they did after the last war. They might even succeed but for the mortar hardened by the suffering of all the occupied countries and not only of one. Again taking the long view, I submit that the new edifice of Europe may conceivably be better builded of bricks than of boulders. It would be asking too much to expect of the Big Three such omniscience as would ensure an infallible policy in respect of that. Nothing in experience warrants the assumption that size is the criterion of receptivity. There was a Big Three after the last war. Its members differed and drifted apart. The same thing might conceivably happen again unless they can bring themselves to regard their Allies as an asset and not as a difficulty. Therefore, on these two very wide grounds, and looking as far ahead as possible, I submit that Germany should he occupied by all the Allies, and 122 that as far as practically possible they should be associated also in the administration, at least in an advisory capacity.
§ I have another and even more cogent ground for advocating the Motion before your Lordships this afternoon. After the last war the British and the Americans very largely ruined the moral lesson to the Germans by unwise and unseemly fraternization, and that had the effect not only of ruining the moral lesson, but also of providing the planks and springboards for that German propaganda which was afterwards so grotesquely successful. I greatly hope that history is not going to repeat itself, but at the same time I have noticed some disquieting phenomena. I shall only enumerate enough of them to-day to make my point. Just before the Allies invaded Germany my eye was caught by a headline in one of our great papers. It covered an order issued by a Commander of the Home Guard in the South of England, the effect of which was to regard these, even though civilians, as being undignified enough to make advances to German prisoners. The Home Guard is not to touch it. On the very next day there appeared in one of our great newspapers a notice which also surprised me. It was a "write-up" of a distinguished member of this country who was being credited with being destined for an ultimate mission or commission in Berlin. And there I will pause a moment. I very earnestly hope that the Big Three are not seriously contemplating situating their commission in Berlin. Why should we go out of our way to set a fresh seal on Prussian predominance and on that over-centralized Reich which has presented us with two world wars when our whole policy and tendency should surely be, on the contrary, to disrupt and discredit Prussia and to disintegrate that Reich? And if indeed Berlin is contemplated as the seat of these missions, I think that in itself would be a symptom that the Big Three are not infallible.
§ I return to the terms of this notice. It said that this gentleman was being entrusted with a mission which among other things would be (and here I give the exact words) "to set the Germans on their financial feet again." Just that. In other words, conveying the impression that perhaps if aggression does fail it might not be so ruinously expensive. There was not 123 even a saving clause laying down that the interests and requirements of all Germany's victims should have an unquestionable priority. I am a little disquieted, as I think are a good many other people to hear of the expenditure in millions on the assistance already contemplated at Montreal on behalf of the Italians. I hope that we are not going to be in such a hurry as regards the Germans, if anything of that sort is contemplated to the detriment or to the disadvantage of the victim States. If so, there will certainly be a very great storm.
§ On the next day the Press were again full of accounts of the reception of the first of the Allied troops to enter Germany. It was indicated that they had been received with flowers and plums and pears and giggles and the assurance that 75 per cent. of the population had always been Anti-Nazi. But tucked away in quite an obscure corner of the same issue there was a little paragraph announcing that war correspondents were being armed with Sten guns to protect them against these overwhelmingly Anti-Nazi people! And on the next day again there appeared those really rather nauseating photographs of the fraternization of certain American soldiers with the civil population. Comment on that would be easy. I refrain, with one exception. There is here in London one of many committees on which all our Allies are represented and I happen to be in close touch with it. They sent me without comment the photographs of those fraternizations (and there were more than one) together with the photographs of the unrecognizable remains of the women and children roasted alive in the church at Oradour sur Glane. They might also have sent to me photographs of the great piles of clothing, men's, women's and children's and even babies', stripped from the corpses of the one and a half million Allied prisoners who were massacred at Maidanck and that was packed for transmission to the slave-owning, slave-driven population which now affects to be 75 per cent. Anti-Nazi. I shall deal with another further particular episode because I think it needs looking into badly.
§ Numerous other photographs were published by the Press and they produced such a storm of indignation that the United States authorities very properly issued an order that fraternization was to 124 stop. And here I wish to ask His Majesty's Government whether they have done, or will do, likewise, whether they will issue an order to all ranks of the British Army that fraternization is strictly forbidden, and whether they will at the same time make it clear that we are entering Germany not as friends but as conquerors, bent on reducing this German nation to sufficient humility and military impotence so as to make it impossible for them to behave in the same way again and to make it unnecessary for us to liberate Europe for the third time from their cruelties. I think that is not an unreasonable request. I hope at the same time that all our troops are receiving the right kind of direction in regard to this German nation and in regard to the German problem generally. From the few samples that have come my way I am very doubtful whether that is the case, but I refrain from more strictures because I recognize that a great deal of the evidence which has passed through my hands is not sufficient for me to form a definite judgment. At the same time I do notice from the Press that President Roosevelt had recalled an Army Order on the ground of its excessive lenience, and when I reflect upon some of the Germans who have been called in to go in an advisory capacity, I am not at all surprised at the President's disquiet.
§ What I have said I think will be enough to show your Lordships the inestimable advantage of having the cooperation of all our Allies in this matter. From them we need fear no ruinous out bursts of sentimentalism. There are appeasers in this country who, to take one single example, do not seem even yet to realize that for four years Dr. Goebbels has been trying to pump into the French that we shall forget and forgive and embrace the Germans as we did after the last war and that we shall also again let the French down as in their eyes we did after the last war. That is perhaps not so surprising because very briefly it may be said of the inter-war period that at the outset at least the French were chiefly pre-occupied by security and the British and French by conciliation as appeasement was then known; and we won the war and the peace was lost.
§ I have a further reason. It seems to me essential that the occupation of Germany should be prolonged. Without a 125 prolonged occupation I would predict that every other reform would ultimately collapse like a house of cards. Here I must be quite frank. I greatly apprehend developing pressure, beginning perhaps first in the United States and spreading here, to bring the boys home prematurely before full security has been reached, and whenever that agitation starts it will most certainly base itself upon some most disingenuous arguments such as the cost and burden of occupation, which will be misrepresented as being much heavier than the need for it will be. I would remind the House that up to the end of 1920 we only had 13,000 troops on the Continent and they were on the Rhine. Now, in the earlier years of occupation, the occupation will have to be massive, but it may well be that in certain circumstances to which I will allude, after those years something not so very greatly in excess of that figure will be all that will be required of the British and Americans. But such a relaxation of effort would only be admissible on one overriding condition and it is always the same. We always come back to it. That is that the occupation should be easier.
§ I am assuming of course that Germany will be completely and permanently disarmed; in other words that she will have no more an Army, Navy or Air Force and only a police force without military equipment. I am assuming also that we shall all set our faces against any transparent fraud such as a people's army or a militia. I should like to have from His Majesty's Government an assurance that no one of the three major Powers will lend any countenance to any fraud of that kind. It would be most sternly resisted in this country and would evoke a storm of indignation among all the weaker victims. I attach great importance to that point. I am further assuming that the possession of firearms will be made a capital offence in Germany and that the penalty will he rigidly enforced, for if it is not we shall be faced with a murder campaign even more extensive than that which raged, largely unknown in that country, in the early days of Weimar. But when we reach that stage it may well be that relatively light forces of occupation will be all that will be necessary to nip in the bud any attempt to prepare a V 10 war. It might be that a dozen mechanized divisions dotted about the country would be sufficient.126
§ I presuppose also that the forces of occupation will be supported by a very extensive Inter-Allied Intelligence Service, and when I say "Inter-Allied" I mean All-Allied, for a great many of our European Allies are better informed than we are both as regards broad issues and personalities, and certain personalities may be much sought after by the police. They have had a hard, vivid, detailed experience of the Germans both as individuals and in the mass. It would be criminal to throw away those assets. In other words, the Allies will be not only willing but eager to bear their share. I hope that participation will be not only admitted but welcomed.
§ I come to a fourth ground which is just as important as the others and perhaps more so. It is a moral rather than a material one. The Moscow Declaration lays down very explicitly the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving States, large and small. For what purpose? Again most explicitly for the maintenance of international peace and security. What on earth can that mean except participation in the preservation of peace by occupation? If it does not mean that at the outset it may come to mean mighty little later on. Here is our first chance this afternoon to show our sincerity. I have seen some signs of a campaign in a contrary direction, but I am going to say nothing of that to-day because I hope time will bring an improvement and a very rapid one. But again, looking at it from the broad and long-range point of view, it will be readily conceded that the equality of people is difficult to reconcile in the long run with any vital inequality of peoples. Differences of degree there must be—we all recognize that—but unless the Moscow Declaration is put into practice we may get back into the bad old world where small States were too far overshadowed by the great.
Personally I had hoped that from that bad old world we should have escaped for ever, but I cannot be wholly sure because even in this country there is a fashionable and somewhat ruthless school which holds contrary doctrines. I came across a very good illustration of the views of that school in a recent article by Commander King-Hall. He wrote:
The last chapter in the history of the economic and political independence of the smaller States is being written in blood and tears.
Indeed! I think that before people give way to that rather callous confidence, they might do well to remind themselves of some truer words written by the greatest English historian of our day, the late Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, in which he said:
Almost everything that is most precious in our civilization has come to us from the smaller States.
And he gave a most commanding and unchallengeable list of what those assets were. It is perfectly true that the Commander and his school concede the cultural independence of smaller States but that I think may be dropped. Cultural independence standing alone is nothing worth. If a man cannot call his soul his own, can he so call his pen or his brush?
§ I think it is in our own ultimate interest also to defend the interests of the less numerous. This island has a population of less than 50,000,000 and it is dwindling. If we once concede that mere quantity is the test of greatness, we in turn might sink in the scale. Alone this island is a cruiser-weight—the greatest cruiser-weight the world has seen—and it has happened in the history of the ring that cruiser-weights have won world heavyweight championships. We won that in 1940 and the fact was handsomely recognized at the opening session of the reconstituted Belgium Parliament last Thursday. But the British Commonwealth is an authentic heavy-weight and I think it will always be in the interest of peace that its component parts use their strength to see to it that the component parts of Allied Europe also receive due weight. By standing up for the letter and the spirit and the practice of the Moscow Declaration we shall be defending ourselves against the obsession of quantity. If we expect, as we do expect, equal collaboration among the Big Three, we must logically concede a large measure of it to those of less poundage than ourselves. Here again is our first chance this afternoon to show we mean the words we have not only said but signed.
§ Finally, although debates like this seem to be necessary, we are apt to be shooting into the dark or into the blue unless we are provided with a little more information from the Government than has been hitherto the case. In past years, when the war was in a very precarious state, we all were prepared to accept a considerable degree of secretiveness. We thought it justified. But in a few weeks we shall be 128 in possession of some of Germany's great cities. We shall have to be told certain things then, so why not now? What I wish to know this afternoon, and I hope I shall have some answer, are three things. I should like to be told who is going to occupy what. I think the time for that has come. I should also like to know, at least in broad outline, what are the instructions to the occupying and administering Powers. I would remind your Lordships that we have never learnt that in the case of Italy. To this day, those instructions have not been published, and I think that, now the war is drawing to an end, we can hardly be expected to put up with the same degree of unenlightenment in the case of Germany. I should like also to be told which Department is going to be responsible for this occupation and administration. Is it going to be one Department, or two Departments, or three Departments? I hope that it is going to be one. I trust, in opening this debate to-day, that it may end in the provision of a sufficient amount of information to enable us all to think more intelligently and with more illumination on this gravely important subject than has hitherto been the case. I beg to move for Papers.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER had given Notice that he would call the attention of His Majesty's Government, in connexion with the coming occupation of Germany, to the distinction between Germany and the Hitlerite State drawn by M. Stalin on November 6, 1942, and endorsed by His Majesty's Government on March 10, 1943; and move for Papers. The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, the Motion in the name of the noble Lord who has just spoken, while in form concerned with the number of the occupying Powers, in fact raises the whole issue of the method and aim of the occupation—the very necessary occupation—of Germany. While I cannot vie with the noble Lord in the vehemence of his expressions, I hope that I do not tall short of him in human sympathy for the victims of the unspeakable tortures at Nazi hands in occupied territory. I have personal friends in all those lands, some of them intimate friends, and anything that lay in my power to do to alleviate their sufferings I would do most thankfully. Nor can any words be too stern in denouncing the perpetrators of the cruelties, who will, I hope, receive the punishment they deserve.129
§ But there is both a long-term and a short-term view of occupation. I agree that Germany must be disarmed, that all Germans must be made to see their total defeat unmistakably and the horror with which mankind must view a nation capable of producing so much evil. And the Allies ought, in my judgment, to give real effect to the demand of the Governments of the occupied countries that individuals guilty of war crimes should be punished, and that whatever restoration of possessions, and whatever compensation for injury and outrage may be possible should be made. But these are not the sole, nor perhaps even the principal, purposes of occupation. There is a political as well as a military situation to be faced. The occupation ought to be regarded as a first step, and a first step of deep significance, in the rebuilding of Europe. Our first duty is the rebuilding of the suffering Allied countries. But so interdependent are the real interests of the different countries that for the rebuilding of Europe the rebuilding of all is indispensable. The interests of Europe are the primary concern, and the question we should ask when discussing the details of occupation should be: Will this secure the permanent welfare of Europe or not? When we have disposed of all the war criminals, however numerous, the chief problem remains—what is to be done with the eighty million German people in the middle of Europe? As hostilities draw to an end, as the real state of the Continent comes home to all, we shall see far more clearly the disintegration and exhaustion of Europe, and it will be the task not of the soldier but of the statesman to check the disintegration, to assist in the rebuilding of the devastated Allied countries, to release and direct any forces for the recuperation of civilization that may still be latent in Central Europe, and, above ail, to deal with Germany so as to make it humanly impossible for a European war to break out in the next fifty or one hundred years.
Are there any elements in that ill-starred country which give the United Nations ground on which to build? The Prime Minister said on November 12, 1939:
Even in Germany there are millions who stand aloof from the seething mass of criminality and corruption constituted by the Nazi Party machine.
And it is pertinent to remind His Majesty's
Government of M. Stalin's distinction drawn on November 6, 1942:
We have no such aim as to destroy Germany, for it is impossible to destroy Germany just as it is impossible to destroy Russia. But the Hitlerite State can and should be destroyed, and our first task, in fact, is to destroy the Hitlerite State and its inspirers.
His Majesty's Government endorsed that distinction, in this House, on March 10 last year. It is also pertinent to call attention to the thousands and tens of thousands of Anti-Nazis in concentration camps, killed before they got to concentration camps, and tortured and killed there ever since the Nazi régime began. It is pertinent, too, to mention the vast, far-reaching plot against Hitler's lice on July 20, by conspirators who Hitler declared on August 4 had dogged his steps not only since 1941 but ever since 1933.
I do not Wish, however, to rest my plea for practical discrimination in Allied policy in connexion with occupation between the Nazi gangsters and other Germans on the fact, which no one will dispute, that there is an opposition. I am more interested, front the immediate, practical point of view, in the problem and the possible response of the general population, of the bulk of the eighty million German people. The history of Germany in Europe is a very tragic history. In a remarkable book called Germany and Europe, published this summer by Benedetto Croce, one of the greatest living European figures and one of the foremost opponents of Mussolini, the author makes this distinction between Nazism and Fascism, his words being written only just before last Christmas:
… There was … a deep and intimate difference between Nazism and Fascism, because the first was a terrible crisis which had been brooding in the history of Germany through centuries, and the second was a superfetation foreign to the history of Italy through the centuries and repugnant to the recent and glorious Italian history of the nineteenth century. The first had both a tragic and a diabolical aspect, nod the second, even in the midst of the crimes it committed, in the midst of the destruction and the ruins, kept an invincibly clown-like aspect, as anybody could see at first glance by contrasting the appearance of the two chiefs.
It is quite true that the present outburst of Nazism represents a centuries-old crisis in the history of Germany. There is an element of Hitlerite evil, tragic as well as diabolical, in the German people. It does happen that, in spite of the great
German names in philosophy, culture, music, science and art, which have done honour to Europe, the German people, so terribly docile, yield at times to its fateful spell. The German people need a new spirit and a new way to make them less likely to yield. It cannot be denied, however, that there are periods in a nation's history which are more favourable than other periods to such a surrender, and there can be little doubt that there was one such period between the two world wars. To indicate what is in my mind, it is enough to quote the considered opinions of two great British thinkers whose authority is beyond dispute, and who have historical and political experience, one opinion given eight years before Hitler came into power and the other a year after the outbreak of this war. The first is by Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, the second by Lord Lothian.
This is what Mr. Fisher, whom the noble Lord has just described as the greatest historian of our day, wrote at the time of the Weimar Republic in March, 1925, in his preface to the History of Modern Germany by G. P. Gooch:
Gooch has enabled us to realize by how narrow a margin of public confidence the Republic survives, and how easy it would be for the Allies, should they fail in a due measure of consideration for the real difficulties in which Germany is placed, so to swell the forces of monarchial and nationalist sentiment as to sweep away the Weimar Contitution and all that has been erected on its foundations. Were such a situation to be created, the future of Central Europe would be dark indeed.
This is what Lord Lothian, the British Ambassador at Washington, said in 1940, fifteen years later, in the last speech he ever made:
The triumph of Hitler no doubt grew out of the despair which settled on Central Europe in the long years of the war, defeat, inflation and revolutionary propaganda, and out of the unemployment and frustration which followed the absence of any real unity in Europe, the sudden restriction of immigration overseas, and the attempt to combine the collection of reparations and war debts by the Allies with the imposition of unjust tariffs after the war. That was what gave Hitler his chance.
Blindly, wrongly, but understandably —that is what Lord Lothian means—the great mass of these eighty million people followed Hitler out of despair in 1933. I do not deny their responsibility, which is grave enough; and it shocks us that so great a number of people should be
so easily drilled and misled. But it is still true that Hitler used their despair to their ruin and to the unspeakable suffering of neighbouring countries. I am convinced, however, on a long-term view, that the future of Europe during the next fifty or hundred years depends on the way in which the Allies handle that great mass of eighty million people to-day. There is no doubt that they are face to face with a more awful despair. We get a shrewd idea of what they are thinking now from a report of the interrogation of 300,000 prisoners of war taken on the Western Front since June 6, given in the New Statesman for September 16. That report covers a cross-section of the German people. The prisoners questioned fell into three sections, of which the first two were quite small. The first consisted of the hard core of fanatical Nazis, irrational and many of them very young, under 26—the Hitler Youth. They present a great problem of their own. The second consisted of disillusioned Germans who had no interest in the Party, but still preserved a personal loyalty to Hitler. It was slightly larger than the first. The third comprised the great majority, who in various degrees were Anti-Hitler and Anti-Nazi.
§ The fanatical Nazis and the followers of Hitler must be dealt with and must be made incapable of carrying on their barbarous actions, but I suggest that this last body, the great majority of the eighty million Germans, should be the principal concern of the occupying Powers. They present us with what, in the main, is not a military but a political problem—and opportunity. All the more necessary is it to seize the opportunity in view of Hitler's diabolical plan of conducting the closing stages of the war in so atrocious a fashion as to make a settlement between Germany and the Allies so very much harder. It is therefore good news that General Eisenhower has given orders everywhere in the country he has occupied to destroy the Nazi organization, to destroy the S.S., to destroy the Gestapo. All this is essential, but something positive in addition is required—a policy for the future of Germany; and I suggest that there is an immediate military argument in favour of this. It is commonly expected that while the Wehrmacht will surrender perhaps at different places and at different times, 133 Hitler, Himmler, the S.S. and the Gestapo will never yield, will go on pursuing a guerrilla warfare underground, hoping to succeed, like the Maquis. But there are two things essential for the success of an underground movement, first, a fighting ally outside, second, a sympathetic and supporting population inside. The former is wanting, the Allies should and can prevent the latter by political action. Goebbels is already denouncing the approaching British Army as sadists intent to quarter, hang, or burn alive every German. The known character and magnanimity of the ordinary British soldier is quite sufficient answer to such vile propaganda.
§ But, in addition, it would be extremely well to make plain to the German population that the Allies have a constructive and positive plan for the future of Germany and of Europe. Whatever we may wish, so long as there is a bitter and disintegrated eighty million people in the centre of Europe, so long as they remain antagonistic to other countries in Europe, so long as their moral attitude is unchanged, just so long is the peace of Europe in danger. That it is a very, very difficult problem I am only too well aware. But change can only come, so far as Governments are concerned, through political, including economic, action by all the Allies. There are rumours from America of a plan for Germany to destroy it as an industrial State and transform it into an agricultural country, made up largely of small farms. To imagine that such a plan is consistent with peace and security in Europe, or can have happy results on the economic situation in Europe, would be an idle dream.
§ Once again let me stress the interdependence of all European countries and our prime duty to assist the rebuilding of the countries that have suffered at the Nazis' hands. Once again let me urge for this very reason that while the working out of the peace treaties must come a good deal later, it is the intention and the aim of the occupying Powers for the future that is all-important. Of course, as I have already said, Germany must be disarmed, purged as quickly and completely as possible of the Nazi gangsters and the Gestapo, the war criminals must be punished and Germans shown their unmistakable defeat. The maintenance of order and 134 the supply of ordinary economic needs are urgent, but it is at least as important to liberate the liberal forces within Germany, to make plain to the people in occupied Germany that, while they are adamantine on military security, the Allies do desire to encourage whatever democratic influences can make good; that it is their firm intention, subject, to the same overriding military security, to let the rule of freedom, in government as well as speech, begin as soon as they can.
Therefore, so far as concerns the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart's question, whether all the United Nations are to take part in the occupation or only the principal three, I would say it is not so much the number of the occupying Powers as the spirit and aim of the occupation which counts. The recovery of Europe must be the governing consideration. But, I should like to ask, would all these nations wish to join in the occupation? Their own reconstruction problems are heavy enough. Though there may be exceptions, the people living in the smaller European countries realize the necessity—the factual necessity—of regarding Germany as a part of Europe, fitting into the framework. Therefore, finally, while I note the application of the French Government for a share in the occupation, to which the noble Lord has alluded, I salute as of good augury a statement made by Georges Bidault, the French Foreign Minister, the head of the French resistance movement just after the liberation of Paris. This is what he said:
German soldiers! I am the chief of the French resistance movement. I come to wish you a good recovery. May you find yourselves, to-morrow, in a Germany and a Europe equally freed.
It is to that good recovery and the coming of freedom as the indispensable condition of permanent peace in Europe that the whole method and purpose of the occupation should from first to last be directed.
My Lords, although the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord are running in double harness, if I may use that expression, they seem to stand for two very different points of view, and I believe I am voicing the opinion of my noble friends on these Benches when I say that we are on the side of the angels, which presumably is the side of the right reverend Prelate, in view 135 of his cloth. I will very briefly explain why. The two speakers have opened up an immense subject; they could not have chosen a greater subject. Whether it was opportune for Lord Vansittart to raise this question at this moment is for him to judge: I should have thought myself that it was a little premature, judging by the military situation at the front. But in his speech, which did not deal very much with the subject of his Motion, as usual he dealt with the whole history of Germany in the past and its history in the future as he would like to see it. We have here, as members of your Lordships' House, when we discuss these matters to think chiefly of the future state of Europe and the future peace of the world. The danger as I see it is that when a settlement is made—and I hope it will not be an early settlement, a settlement made when pressed for time—it may be a settlement influenced and directed by passions and emotions. The passions and emotions of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, are very noble, but I would rather like to see a little cold realism, such as we had from the right reverend Prelate, when the final settlement comes to be made.
May I give the sort of thing I have in mind? Lord Vansittart deplored very much the photographs of American soldiers sitting down peaceably in German farmhouses. Thousands of people in this country share that view. I and most of your Lordships, I suspect, have had a large postbag about that. There are two aspects we can take of that matter. What I would do would be to reproduce these photographs in large numbers and drop them in the interior of Germany. I make that suggestion to Lord Sherwood—have these photographs reproduced as well as they can possibly be reproduced, in immense numbers, and drop them over German cities beyond the firing line. The whole propaganda employed by Goebbels, as the right reverend Prelate reminded us, is that we are advancing into Germany to murder, rape and destroy. If we can show the Germans that what happens is that Americans exchange their good coffee for good German fruit, that may have an excellent effect inside Germany. May I put this other consideration? We are now on the threshold of Germany. We only see the opening moves of the battle. Lord Vansittart talks as if it were all over and 136 that all we have to do is to arrange the armistice.
§ LORD VANSITTART
I never said the war is over. I said the end of the war is in sight, which is a very different proposition, and I do not think anyone will deny that.
There may be a long vista in front of us, a long and bloody one. May I put this question direct to the noble Lord? If he were conducting the strategy of this campaign, would he like to have inside Germany a Fifth Column helping him, or would he prefer to lose a few thousand more young men by agonizing death rather than have the assistance of Germans inside Germany in gaining victory over the Nazis?
§ LORD VANSITTART
The answer is easy. I for one have been waiting for five years for a Fifth Column in Germany, and it is not there yet.
The noble Lord does not know that a Fifth Column is not there. It may be there, and if we have not taken all steps to find a Fifth Column in Germany there is something wrong in our direction of the war. I will tell the noble Lord where there is a Fifth Column. There is a Fifth Column fighting in that heroic battle at Arnhem —men who were born German subjects and who joined the paratroops as Anti-Nazi patriots and share the heroism, ardours, and sufferings of our own men and the Americans in these terrific battles for the bridges over the Rhine estuary. That is one place where your Fifth Column is. You could have found a Fifth Column in the Thaelmann Battalion in the International Brigade who were fighting the Germans and the Fascists in Spain when I and one or two others were protesting, almost as lone voices, that that was the beginning of the European war and when Lord Vansittart's silence was only too obvious.
§ LORD VANSITTART
I am sorry to interrupt again, but during the time the noble Lord reproaches me with my silence he knows very well that I was a public official and had no right to say anything. I had not even the right to write a letter to the newspapers. The noble Lord should not make statements like that.
The noble Lord could have resigned if he disagreed with 137 the Government's policy. That is where the war against Hitler began—in Spain. That is where the German Fifth Column was fighting on the side of democracy against the Nazis and Fascists in Spain.
I still say that the noble Lord's Motion is premature because the battle is only beginning. I have consulted with my noble friend Lord Addison and others of my noble friends on these Benches, and as regards the composition of the Armies of Occupation we believe that all the Allies should be invited to participate. To that extent we agree with the terms of the noble Lord's Motion. If he had stuck to that I would have been very glad to support him right through. There is a practical reason for that as well. Obviously the French must be included. Lord Vansittart agreed, and I am sure we all agree, on that point. But there is also another practical reason. If you have help from all your Allies—and it is a very fine and magnificent army of Allies now —you will have in the first place more British and American troops to use to finish off the Pacific War. Obviously the campaign of the Nazi leaders will be, if they can, to tie up as many of our troops and American troops in their own country for as long as possible so as to keep them from the Pacific. Secondly, you will be able to get those of your own men who are to be demobilized home. After all, we have been fighting longer than anyone else except the Poles. For these practical reasons we consider that the occupation of Germany should be shared.
Now may I come to another practical difficulty? This was touched upon by the right reverend Prelate. When you are inside Germany you must somehow or other find machinery of administration which you can man with Germans. If you try to carry on all the functions of government and local government by foreigners, as we shall be in Germany, the task will be impracticable. You have to find some Germans whom you can trust to carry on. I do not think there will be any quarrel with that. Even Lord Vansittart talks of a German police force. I should like to have heard where he proposes to recruit his police from. From the Hitler Youth, from the Brown Shirts, from the S.S. and so on? There must be a German civil police if you can get it but, according to Lord Vansittart, these police must not be armed. Lord Van- 138 sittart anticipates a campaign of murder and assassination as in the time of the Republic, but these German police are not to be armed.
§ LORD VANSITTART
Again that is a complete misrepresentation of what I said. I said they were not to have military equipment. After the last war the German police were armed with machine guns, cannons, and artillery. Surely you are not going to allow that again? They were simply camouflaged Regulars. I said they must not have military equipment, and that is a totally different thing from having an armed policy.
If we can get an Anti-Nazi police force we should give them all the lethal weapons they can use. That is a practical problem teat will have to be solved. If this underground war is going on, and if we .can get the help of German people who are Anti-Nazis to help to suppress it, our task Will he very much easier. If they are merely sulky neutrals, it will be all the harder and the occupation will be more severe and more lasting, and more casualties will be suffered by ourselves and our Allies. I do wish we could have a little common sense brought into this matter. I wish that Lord Vansittart and those who talk like him would put themselves in the position of the Allied Generals who will have to administer, under military control, certain districts of Germany. They will have to find German functionaries to help them in the administration of the country, German police to keep order, and German Fifth Columnists to help to put down the last vestiges of the Nazi underground movement inside Germany. That is a practical policy and much more important than some of the considerations which find their way into these debates. I do suggest that.
The other matter upon which I would like to spend only a moment is this. The right reverend Prelate spoke about the problem of the Hitler Youth. Thai is a ghastly problem. I confess I do not myself really know how we are to deal with it. I also have seen some of those Hitler Youth people, rather undersized specimens who at present surrender to our soldiers in France and the Low Countries. I have heard a great deal about their mentality. At present it seems pretty hopeless to know what to do with them. It will be a matter of exercising 139 patience over a long term period and of re-education by their own German neighbours and fellow citizens. That is my own view of the matter. How long is this occupation of Germany going to last? Lord Vansittart says one hundred years.
I took down the noble Lord's words—" it is likely to be a long business, one hundred years."
§ LORD VANSITTART
I never said that. I said the occupation must be prolonged and that it would be defined by experience.
§ LORD VANSITTART
That will be shown by experience, not by sloth or sentiment or treaty stipulation.
The only experience we can go on is the experience we gain during the occupation and a great deal will depend on how the occupation begins. I am entirely in agreement and so are my noble friends on these Benches as to the necessity of the most drastic treatment of those in Germany and any others in high places who are found guilty of crimes, and I was very much disturbed to read in the newspapers lately reports concerning the supposed legal difficulties about bringing Hitler and others who are Ministers to justice. I hope there is no truth in that at all.
I think there is no difference of opinion between us with regard to the occupation itself. I tremble to think of a policy which deliberately sets out to occupy a country like Germany with its eighty millions of people over a prolonged number of years. I do not see twenty-five years being more than the outside minimum and that will give time for a new generation of Germans to grow up. Surely the object of that occupation, as the right reverend Prelate has said, should be to make Germany somehow or other a good neighbour in Europe. I entirely agree, and I have said so before in your Lordships' House, that Germany must be deprived of arms, including aviation of all kinds, both civil and military. If that is done and you have an 140 Allied aerial force always ready on the outside of the borders of Germany which can be the nucleus of an international police force later on, that should be sufficient to enable you to curtail and reduce by degrees the number of troops actually in Germany. What you require are sufficient troops, for purposes of intelligence, to supply information as to what is going on inside Germany. I suggest that that should be the aim. The process cannot be hurried. The whole peace settlement cannot be hurried. This awful problem of dealing with the Hitler Youth part of the population must be approached in a realistic way and with great patience. These people are extraordinarily patriotic in a twisted kind of way, but somehow or other we have got to turn them into neighbours with whom we can live in peace.
THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, we have this afternoon two Motions on the Order Paper and I rather hope that His Majesty's Government may be able to accept them both in the sense of giving general approval to them. May I take first the Motion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart? It suggests that the occupation of Germany should be undertaken by all the Allied Powers and not merely by the three great Powers. That proposal seems to me to be eminently reasonable subject to one proviso—namely, that all Allied Powers wish to take part in that occupation. I should like to see parts of Germany, or at any rate, certain towns and villages in Germany, occupied by French, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian and Belgian troops and indeed by some contingents from all of the smaller Allies if they are prepared to provide troops for the purpose.
My main reason for supporting this proposal is very much the same as that of Lord Vansittart. I believe that the presence of the men of these smaller nations would be most effective in destroying that legend or theory of the Herrenvolk which has taken so firm a hold on the German mind and which in my view it is essential should be eradicated. In the second place, it is desirable because it will continue to promote friendly relations between Allies who are undertaking a similar task and therefore will be facing the same problem. That is always conducive to unity. Again I agree with Lord Vansittart that it will afford a very valuable proof to the smaller 141 nations that they are not going to be forgotten in the new world which we are all so anxious to see established. My only criticism is that it is possible and indeed likely that certain remote nations such as China and some of the smaller Latin American Republics may find it impracticable to furnish even token forces for the task in question. But I rather assume that the noble Lord who sponsored this Motion will agree that no Allied nation should be forced to participate in the occupation against its will. In my view it would probably be wiser to limit the occupation to the forces of those nations who have actively participated in the war against Germany.
I do not propose to follow the noble Lord in regard to the numerous points that he raised which really fall outside the terms of the Motion on the Order Paper, although I am very much tempted to do so on one or two points. I should like to say with regard to the length and duration of the occupation, that in my view the occupation should last until every possible danger from Germany is removed and has completely disappeared. The other thing I feel is that it is premature for His Majesty's Government to supply the noble Lord with the information for which he has asked on three points, and I think it might be unwise to press for it. I feel that we must allow His Majesty's Government full discretion as to when they should announce decisions which must greatly depend not on ourselves alone but on our Allies as well and which must be concerted between the Allied nations.
I will now turn for a moment to the Motion in the name of right reverend Prelate. I have not been able in the past to agree with all the arguments he has used, but on this particular occasion, I think, if I may say so, they were extremely sound and that events will ultimately justify what he has put forward. When the occupation takes place it will be the first business of the Allied military authorities to endeavour to find non-Nazis or Anti-Nazis to place in charge, subject to Allied control, of the local administration of territories as they are occupied. That is the system which I understand was followed, and successfully followed, in Italy and I think it will have to be extended to Germany. I admit that the finding of such Germans will be far 142 more difficult than was the provision of Anti-Fascist administrators in Italy. In that country the Anti-Fascist movement was strong and had numerous adherents. As your Lordships probably know, there were very many nominal members of the Fascist Party. If you were a civil servant you had to be a member of the Party and it therefore happened that the wearing of a badge did not mean that a man or woman was really at heart a Fascist. The fact is, as I know from experience, that the whole system became a complete joke among many intelligent Italians both young and old.
It is going to be far more difficult in Germany. There is not the same strong Anti-Nazi movement, but I believe there may be a certain number of Germans who will be acceptable as administrators under Allied supervision, and in this sense, therefore, I think the contention of the right reverend Prelate is certainly justified. These Germans will have to receive the strongest support of the Allied military authority. Their task will be extra-ordinarily unpleasant, very difficult, and in fact really dangerous. I do not think you can really go further than that. We none of us can tell how far the whole German nation has been infected by the Nazi poison, but I fear that the contamination has gone very deep and that the only Germans of whom we can say "These people are definitely immune" are the Germans who to-day are in concentration camps or are refugees, or—alas, they are not very numerous—who have publicly resisted the Nazi doctrines and are still free. Apart from this I think the Allies when they occupy Germany can only learn by experience as the occupation progresses, and in my view suspicion and distrust rather than trust and confidence will have to be the guiding principle in each individual case.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, I would not have troubled your Lordships this afternoon had it not been that I have had some experience of Germany and the Germans, having lived in the country for a good many years. It was fifty years ago almost to the day that I first went to live in Germany and during the fifteen years following I was in that country for several months every year, sometimes for more than half the year. During that time I lived with Germans and talked with them about all sorts of matters, including 143 the relations between our two countries. I found that the kind of talk which Germans in those days indulged in was in almost every particular the kind of talk which we heard before the war. The reason was that the Hitlerite Party, or the National Socialist Party, hold exactly what was the Prussian view which later was adopted as the German view. In fact Hitlerite Germany is an expansion of Prussian Germany.
The impression I obtained was that the uppermost impulse of the Germans—not the Austrians—was the desire to dominate other people. We heard all kinds of catchwords at that time which meant exactly the same thing as what the Germans mean now when they describe themselves as the Herrenvolk. They want to be the dominant nation in the world and to rule other people. We heard before the war that the Germans desired trade and Colonies and that at one time was said to be their main object, but I do not believe it was anything of the kind. What they wanted was to dominate and rule other people; in fact, to be the Herrenvolk. That produced the other main characteristic of the Germans—their jealousy of this country because they think we have done them out of their share of the world. They also have the same dislike and jealousy of other nations who have expanded and acquired what they now call Lebensraum but which they used to call "a place in the sun." Looking back to the days of the Great Elector and of Frederick the Great we see exactly the same desire to dominate and also the same policy of aggression which Frederick pursued in his conduct towards Silesia. In fact history shows that Prussia resembled in every particular Germany as we know it to-day.
I think we are inclined to lay too much stress on Hitler. He is looked upon as the originator of the German misdeeds, but I respectfully submit to your Lordships that though Hiller is called the Fuhrer, the Leader, he is really the follower. Hitler came to the front because he knew what the Germans wanted. They wanted to become the dominators of the world and when he put himself forward as the exponent of that policy the Germans—who at the time, as your Lordships know, were in a somewhat chaotic condition—jumped at him and accepted 144 him as leader. But he himself, as my old friend Sir Nevile Henderson wrote in his book, never originated any ideas; he took them all from other people. I think a leader cannot really claim that he is a leader when he is merely a follower of other people's ideas and adapts those ideas to his own ends. I think that when Hitler ceases to deliver the goods German people will cease to be satisfied with him and will throw him over without any compunction. But though Hitler will disappear, somebody else will come to the front. We do not know whether they will be of the Hitlerite Party or whether they will not, but of one thing we may be certain—they will be followers of the Prussian idea, and that will only be disposed of when much greater changes have taken place than have occurred as yet.
May I say one word in support of Lord Vansittart's eloquent plea for the participation of all the Allies in the occupation of Germany? In doing so, I would particularly refer to his observations regarding the undesirability of fraternization with the Germans, at any rate for a very long time to come. The Germans are capable of very great efforts in the cause of humbug. They are ready, I am sure, to sacrifice Hitler to-morrow if the thought should occur to them that they could get something by so doing. They would also be willing to make great friends of us or anybody else out of whom they thought they might be likely to get something. We recall how, after the last war, they showed themselves eager to establish friendly relations with us, but directly they found that they had a chance to break those friendly relations, feeling assured that there was a good prospect of success in their aggressive policy, they broke them off with avidity. I feel perfectly certain that if we were to say we were sure that a new Government in Germany disliked what is called the Hitlerite State (which I submit does not exist; it merely means the German State) we should be taken in again just as we were before. There is an old saying which we were taught at school: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes, and I think that when we see ladies advancing with flowers as we enter Germany we should look upon them as being of Danaean extraction. I hope that the Government will remember past experiences in this connexion, and that, when 145 it comes to settling with the Germans when they are defeated, we shall bear in mind what happened after the last war, and do everything that is possible, with the assistance of our Allies, to make any future aggression, or any further attempt at hostilities, on the part of the Germans, an impossibility.
§ LORD HUTCHISON OF MONTROSE
My Lords, first of all I would like to thank my noble friend Lord Vansittart for bringing forward this Motion. I think it is very desirable that this subject should be discussed. Furthermore, I am beholden to other noble Lords who have spoken for expanding the Motion beyond the terms of the Notice on the Paper. With regard to this question of the occupation of Germany, I think we have to take many considerations into account in order to arrive at a correct solution of the problem presented to us. As to the Powers that ought to take part in the first occupation of Germany, I am convinced that the fewer Powers who participate the better. I think that ourselves, America and Russia, with perhaps France would be a suitable company to make a beginning. Other countries, especially those which have been brutally occupied by the Germans, will have quite enough to do for a long time to come in rebuilding their political machinery and re-establishing their economic life. That is the view I hold.
After the last war I had the experience of spending three and a half years at Cologne upon the Military Administration of the Rhine territories. I was in touch with Berlin over financial matters. I found that immediately after the last war the Germans had two main ideas in their heads. The first was that they must ingratiate themselves with the occupying Powers. The second was that they must never fail to put forward the belief that their mighty Army was never defeated, but that it was forced to give in owing to the falling away of the civil population behind it. If there is one thing certain now it is that we have got to show to the German people that their mighty Army has been absolutely and entirely defeated. That is why I maintain that we must not only occupy Germany with military forces, but that in connexion with any request that may be made for an armistice we must make it quite clear that there must be absolute surrender on the part of Germany. Once the fact that 146 the infallibility of the German Army is nothing but a myth becomes established in the minds of the German people we shall have made a great stride in the right direction. As long as they understand that the belief is a myth then we may look for a peaceful Germany—probably for many years to come. The entire mentality of the German people has for long been swayed by the wonderful feeling of admiration which all classes have for the military life. Everyone you meet in Germany looks up to the military caste. That outlook has got to be abolished.
With regard to matters of administration, in the local areas, these, of course, will be attended to by the Germans themselves—the local governing bodies acting under direct orders from the occupying Powers. As Lord Vansittart has said, we shall use the German police with their ordinary police armament, but without military armament. Those police will act —as they did after the last war—under our orders. They proved themselves quite efficient, and perfectly capable of handling the German population. At that time we had, as no doubt your Lordships will have gathered, two very distinct strata in the population of Germany. In the first stratum there were the industrialists, the upper grade employers, professors, doctors and better class Germans generally. Those people were abused by the under dogs of the lower stratum who had very strong Communistic feelings, and were continually attacking each other. We had to be on the alert, and we caught many gentlemen from Dusseldorf and other places who evinced a desire to gouge the eyes out of members of the better classes in Germany. Then again, we had to protect those very Communists against the action of German troops who came from Berlin to deal with them. In fact we had to see fair play as between the various interests concerned.
My own belief is that within a short time after the war ends the number of troops required for the occupation of Germany will be comparatively small, because the Germans will accept our orders. We shall be able to use mobile forces—armoured forces on the ground and the Air Force—and without great numbers we shall be in a position to control any rising of which any possibility may be evinced in Germany. The real control of course must be an economic control. We have got to control the various industries which 147 were used by Germany to make it possible for her to go to war, the machinery whereby she collected her various supplies, and the various chemical plants which she used to produce oil, rubber and other commodities.
Our control will undoubtedly have to extend to finance. We shall have to control the action of the Reichsbank in national expenditure. After the last war the Germans borrowed many millions of pounds from this country and from America, and used the money not for the social development of Germany but for the development of war factories and war potential. This control will have to be exercised by the Allies for very many years. Further than that, the means of communication, ports, railways, posts and telegraphs and Customs will all have to be controlled in the interests of the Allies. That is the only way in which we shall be able to get any payments towards making good the destruction which the Germans have committed and for the cost of our troops of occupation. We are not going to get the money from the German Government; we must get it by means of surcharges on the various industries and means of communication and so on. Last time our troops were robbed right and left by the disgraceful depreciation of the mark. The printing of marks took place in every city in Germany, and our troops were paid in these depreciated marks. I hope that our future administration will see that this does not occur again.
The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, spoke of stopping fraternization. You cannot stop fraternization unless you allow the troops to have their families with them. When our troops go into a country, no matter what country it is, you will have fraternization unless they have their families with them. You must give the families of the troops proper quarters and let them live with their men in Germany, or what happened last time will be repeated. Some time ago in this House I advocated that very policy. When Germany is occupied by our troops, provision must be made for the families of the officers and soldiers to be quartered with them. There is a great deal of talk about our occupying the country for a period—ten, fifteen or twenty years. It will be necessary to occupy Germany as the Romans occu- 148 pied Europe in the old days, not for one but for several generations, unless we are prepared to face another war. I have heard people say that wars are not bad things for the nation, but for my part I abhor war and think it is a most dreadful and devastating thing for civilization. It is certain, however, that unless we control Germany through the generations we shall have another devastating war in Europe.
There is one very real fear which I wish to express. When we start to control German industry and finance and everything else we shall find that German industry, linked up with other countries, will move its activities into those other countries and carry on there. That is an aspect of industrial development which the Allies will have to consider very carefully. It is one of the means which the Germans will probably adopt to prepare for a third devastating war. We shall find factories in France, Belgium and other countries, and perhaps even in the United States, apparently controlled by nationals of the countries concerned yet really in the hands of German industrialists.
Finally, the control of the radio in Germany is absolutely essential. We all talk about a free Press and free radio, but the radio in Germany penetrates the German people to such an extent that by constant repetition they ultimately come to believe the falsehoods put out by Dr. Goebbels. That is one of the things which we shall have to control for many years to come. I hope that this devastating war will soon be over and our occupation in fact begin.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, we have listened to a very interesting speech from my noble friend Lord Hutchison, and I must say that I envy very much the brilliant imagination which he has preserved, not indeed to my age but to an age approaching mine. His conception is that Germany should be made a part of the British Empire in exactly the way in which the Romans made any country which they conquered part of the Roman Empire. That is a policy which I am sure that my noble friend the Leader of the House will welcome with both hands! Lord Hutchison thinks that it is not enough to have a few troops in Germany; we must have complete economic control. We must have there not only troops but their families, so that there will be a kind of colonization 149 of Germany. Above all we must have the destruction of all connexion between German industry and any industries outside Germany. I hope that my noble friend will not think me impertinent if I say that I regard those things as the dreamings of perpetual youth, but not as a serious contribution to a practical solution of our difficulties.
We have a much narrower point raised by my noble friend Lord Vansittart, and I agree, as I think that almost everyone who has spoken has agreed, that any Allied Power which desires to take part in the occupation of Germany must of course be allowed to do so. It would be a gross piece of impertinence, apart from anything else, if we were to say: "You were quite good enough to sacrifice your men and treasure in fighting with us, but when it comes to occupying Germany you are not the kind of people with whom we should like to be seen walking down the streets of Berlin." That is an attitude which we must not dream of taking up. Any Power which wishes to join with us in the occupation of Germany must be allowed to do so. And indeed I can see nothing but good in establishing from the very earliest moment the principle to which my noble friend alluded, that we must get into the habit of working in common with other nations so as to establish a genuine international system, and not a system which is really a domination by one, two or three of the great Powers. With all that part of my noble friend's speech I find myself in agreement.
There is one other point on which I very warmly agree with him, and that is that we ought to be given as much information as possible. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that the official world does not always recognize the desirability of giving information. I do not know whether my noble friend's experience of the official world, which is much greater than mine, would lead him to concur with that view, but that is the view which I have formed. I think that the reason for that attitude is that tradition on these matters goes back many years, to a time when all that mattered was what a few gentlemen in the Cabinet thought on the subject of foreign affairs. That is not the position to-day. If you are going to have any policy which will be lasting and effective you must have behind you the general body of public opinion in this 150 country; and that applies to other countries also. If you are to have that, it is not enough to have a secret confabulation and at the end of it to announce that a certain conclusion has teen reached. You must give people an opportunity of knowing as far as possible what the course of the discussion has been, and what the arguments are which have led to that conclusion. Unless they know that they will not accept the conclusion merely on the ipse dixit of a Minister, however distinguished. To that extent I am in agreement with my noble friend Lord Vansittart.
I admit that I have less sympathy with his view that it would be a great advantage to allow smaller Powers to take, part in the occupation of Germany because it would tend to produce a feeling of humility in Germany. I do not much believe in imposed humility: it is generally another term for hypocrisy, I do not think you will do much good in that kind of way. It is quite obvious that you must have prolonged occupation, or at any rate some considerable occupation, and that that occupation must he serious and carried out by sufficient forces. I do not think that the moral effect of it will be so favourable as my noble friend thinks. And, indeed, in this particular I have some doubt even of an observation that fell from the right reverend Prelate. He thought that a good deal might be done by the influence of occupying troops in bringing Germans to understand how atrociously they have behaved, and how bad their opinions generally are on international affairs. I shall be very much surprised if anything said by the occupying troops to Germans produced any real effect on their minds, any more than, in a parallel case, if Germans were in occupation of this country their opinions would produce any effect on English people. I am coming to that in a moment. But I am satisfied that the reconversion of Germany, which I think the right reverend Prelate considers is the thing we must aim at, must be done by the Germans themselves, and can only be done by the Germans themselves, and any attempt to do it from outside will simply fail.
The right reverend Prelate has given notice of a Motion in which he raises again the question of whether there is a good Germany and a bad Germany—I am putting it very crudely. I agree, of course, with him that it would be absurd to say 151 that all Germans think alike, any more than to say that of the people of any other country, or to say, as our friends on the Continent used to say, that all Englishmen have fair hair and prominent teeth. It is not true, nor is it true that all Germans think thoroughly wrongly on international affairs. But I do not think it very much matters. What matters to us is not what the Germans think but what the German Government think; and what we have to examine (and I think it is a very formidable fact that we have to face) is what has been the relatively consistent policy of German Governments—I will not go so far back as Tacitus, but at any rate for the last hundred or two hundred years. I agree with those who say that Nazism, the atmosphere of Nazism, is not a new thing. It is a re-statement, a very crude and violent re-statement of a view which has certainly been held in Germany about international affairs for a long time.
Let me just remind the House of the three principal features, as I understand it, of the Nazi point of view. I am not now dealing with the excesses of Nazism, I am dealing with its fundamental tenets. The first is what my noble friend Lord Onslow alluded to just now, the conception of the Germans that there ought to be a World State of which Germany should be the director—the idea of the Roman Empire, as my noble friend opposite said. "My country, right or wrong," was the view generally held. Well, I think that is true, and Lord Onslow's speech absolves me from making that point more elaborately than I have done. The second main contention is the divine right of the State. That is a very, very important matter. I see constantly, even now, in the reports of the trials that have taken place of German criminals in Russia, that they say: "Oh yes, it is a dreadful thing shooting women and children. It is quite true, we knew it was going on, but we were ordered to do it, and of course we did what we were ordered to do." That is, I think, almost the worst of the whole German thesis, and the thing that has been intolerable in this war and in other wars.
That is certainly not new. It is centuries old. I do not know at all whether I am right—I am speaking now on a subject about which I have very imperfect information—but it has always appeared to me that Luther took very much that 152 point of view. I was trying to find out what an orthodox Lutheran felt on such matters, and I came to the conclusion that there was not any very great difference. Their conception is that a State is created by God or by Heaven, that therefore it is of divine authority; that what it does in the exercise of its power as a State is divinely inspired, and that every subject ought to obey the State, whatever he may think as to the right or wrong of what is done. Well, that is destructive of all international morality, and indeed of a great deal more than that. That is the second point, and, as I say, it is a view that has always been held. And the third, the worst of all, is that there is no limit to the international action of a State except its power, that anything it can do and desires to do it has a right to do. That is equally fatal and equally disastrous.
I will not develop those points any further. But they lead to this conclusion, that as long as the Germans are governed by principles of that kind they are a danger to the world till you reconvert them, or neutralize those opinions in some way. Here you have a nation of seventy or eighty million people, very brave, very industrious, all utterly perverted, if my conception of their general morality on these points is right. That is a very serious matter. It brings us up against a threat to the civilization of the world. How are we going to remedy it? What are we going to do? There seem to me to be only two possible answers to that. One is extermination. It is logically true that if you could exterminate the whole seventy or eighty millions you would get rid of the difficulty; but of course that is fantastic and absurd, quite apart from its morality. And this is where I very greatly differ from Lord Vansittart. I do not think, if you are going in for a policy of extermination, that anything short of total extermination is of any use whatever. You exterminate 50,000 or 100,000 people: what is the use of that? There are those seventy or eighty millions. That small portion of them having been destroyed, the millions would be just as dangerous as they were before, and still more determined to secure their safety by war—because that is really what it comes to. And that is why I do not see any advantage in humiliating the Germans by marching through their country or anything of that kind. By all means, take 153 whatever measures are necessary to show them that they have been really and genuinely defeated. That is a fact that they must take into consideration when they settle what is going to be their future policy and action in the world; but I do not think anything else in the nature of punishment is likely to be of the slightest service unless you proceed to the extent of extermination, which is quite impracticable.
The only other alternative therefore is conversion. You have to re-educate the Germans. It is a tremendously difficult proposition. I was glad to hear the right reverend Prelate acknowledge the immense difficulty of the proposition. It is tremendous, but I am quite sure of this, that it has got to come from the Germans themselves. You have got somehow or other to persuade some section of Germans—the larger the better—that their past policy has been wicked (because wickedness is important from this point of view), has been wrong and foolish, and then say, "Go out and persuade your fellow countrymen that that is true." I believe there is extremely little that we can do to help. I am very sorry for it. I have tried to think whether we could establish some system of education from outside which might be of material assistance, but I cannot convince myself that it would be of any particular value. We can do some things. We can set forth our alternative. The Germans are entitled—anybody is entitled—to ask, "You reject the Fuhrer Prinzip, the conception of omnipotent government, what is your alternative? What do you suggest is the right way the country should be ruled? "We must be perfectly frank and say quite openly and clearly that our conception is, and must be, the substitution of Christian morality for the State, because, broadly speaking, the State does rule individual affairs at the present time. That is a big proposition to make good but we must try. I adhere warmly to what was said by Lord Vansittart about the great prestige of the British nation and British history. We have got to use it for that purpose. We have got a great position. We shall be listened to, even by Germans who totally disagree with us at the outset. I think they will accept—a proportion of them at any rate—the proposition that justice, freedom, and 154 good faith must govern international relations.
In connexion with that we are bound to punish all war crimes. I was glad to hear the right reverend Prelate say that that was also his opinion. It is essential. These crimes are too terrible. What Lord Vansittart said on the subject was a very moderate account of them. He does not always err on the side of moderation, but the massacre of Maidenck, if you cut it down by one-half or even nine-tenths, is still one of the worst things that have ever occurred in the whole history of the world. There are other cases just as bad. You have to punish them. You must show in some way not only that we the belligerents are indignant, but that the world itself is indignant that such Things should have taken place. I remember hearing the noble Lord, Lord Hutchison of Montrose, in a previous debate expressing a certain indifference as to how the prisoners were tried. There he makes a mistake. You must have an open trial under conditions that any fair-minded man would recognize as fair conditions. You will then have no difficulties. You wilt have an admission that they did in fact do these things. That cannot help but produce sooner or later a great effect on the public opinion of the world, even in Germany. Therefore I am strongly in favour of punishment of war crimes, but punishment after trial, and let the trial be as formal and precise and well-guarded as possible.
Beyond that I see nothing but the complete disarmament of Germany, the absolute physical prevention of Germany using anything like -aggression as her policy. That is far more important than any question of splitting up Germany or taking over her manufactures or anything else. You have got to take away the possibility of her making war. I do not believe that is an impossible thing to de nowadays because war can only be made by machines, and machines are bulky and elaborate and can scarcely be made without the knowledge of other countries, particularly if it is provided, as I hope it will be provided, that there shall be international inspection of German armaments and perhaps of the armaments of other nations as well. That disarmament seems to be the one solid guarantee we can have of peace apart from the ideal considera- 155 tions I hinted at earlier. That must persist until we are quite satisfied that no Germans, none of them, or no considerable body of them, any longer intend aggressive action in foreign affairs. That may last a long time. It is for the Germans to say, but until that happens disarmament must continue, and we must take care that it is a real and effective disarmament.
§ LORD NOEL-BUXTON
My Lords, recent events have made the subject of this debate doubly urgent, and we are indebted to Lord Vansittart for raising it. He has the authority arising from vast experience, and I should like to pay my tribute also to the great generosity with which he has always been willing to place his knowledge at the disposal of those who sought his advice. But in his policy towards Germany I wish he would explain in more detail how he provides, say, for thirty years hence or fifty years hence. Such a policy as his assumes the continuance of public opinion in its present state. That is a practical point not much dwelt on in this debate, but raised with great effect in the recent utterance of the Liberal Party Committee. In the treatment of Germany can we be reasonably certain of the continuance of public opinion in support of a punitive policy? When the war ended in 1918 feeling was extremely bitter, but that bitter feeling faded in a very few years, and it would have been impossible to keep large British forces on the Rhine much later than the year in which they were actually withdrawn.
As to the durability of general anti-German feeling there is a recent illustration which is striking. Even in the middle of the present war it was possible for General Smuts to make an utterance which should warn those who rely on anti-German feeling being very durable. He spoke of the deep revolt brewing inside Germany and said that not the least of the forces gathering for the doom of Hitler would be the Fifth Column inside Germany. Lord Vansittart does not think General Smuts is right. General Smuts in his broadcast to South Africa in September, 1943, said that Germans have for centuries taken a leading part in most of the lines of European advance.They are not all Nazi monsters, moral perverts, or devil worshippers infected with the satanic virus of Hitler.… There is another and better Germany which must have 156 passed through hell in witnessing the brutal and lawless inhumanity of their people. A deep revolt is brewing inside Germany.In view of the Nazi barbarities which have shocked the world so terribly it is indeed striking that General Smuts should feel he ought to say that during this war. He may be thought to be mistaken but it is not a question whether General Smuts is right, but whether Lord Vansittart's policy is practically possible in view of public opinion. Anti-German feeling will inevitably cool down.
Let me give another illustration from a recent utterance of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders. They said:The treatment of Germany presents for Christians a moral issue of exceptional difficulty. It must be such as to remove once and for all the menace of German aggression, and secure full atonement for the appalling sufferings inflicted by Nazi Germany upon the peoples of Europe. Yet we must not lend ourselves in a mood of vengefulness, to breaches of basic human rights, or to punitive measures against the entire German people which will be repudiated as unjust by later generations, or will permanently frustrate the hopes of peace and unity in Europe. The future public safety and well-being of Europe must be the first aim of the peace in Europe, and no settlement will achieve that aim which does not set out as one of its goals the eventual reintegration of the German people into the European family of nations.In this war we are particularly claiming to be a Christian people and I do not see how Christians can get away from the Archbishop's view, which is widely regarded as that of sound statesmanship and it will be still more widely held in the future.
The probable course of public opinion affects the aim which occupation will have in view and that again is relevant to the question of the forces to be employed which Lord Vansittart raises to-day. In judging this question we are apt to assume the continuance of Nazi Government till the surrender. But there are different possibilities which would affect the question. We have aimed at dividing public opinion in Germany against the Nazi régime and our propaganda, which began in the first days of the war by the distribution of leaflets, has achieved a great deal of success. We need never have despaired of a break in Hitlerite morale. Recent events have made that clear. Nor need we rule out as impossible the formation of an anti-militarist revolutionary Government. There is nothing which we should 157 more keenly desire because it would make the problem of creating an international anti-war organization, such as the Prime Minister adumbrates, far simpler. If, by good fortune, such a Government should come into being, the need for an occupation would not go much further than the holding of strategic points. The revolutionary Government would save the Allies a very difficult task.
But we must of course prepare for the survival of a militarist régime till that régime is compelled to acknowledge total defeat. Therefore the problem of general occupation must be faced. If the aim is to encourage a new outlook, we shall act in that case as we did in the Cologne region after the last war. We shall not destroy local administration but shall encourage normal development. On the other hand, if the occupation has a punitive character and if responsibility is crudely denied, the process of re-education will become more difficult. As the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, has just said, anything ordained by an enemy will of course be detested. The cost of the occupation which Germany is made to pay would have to be set against the work which Germany ought to provide for repairing the ruin she has caused in Poland and in Russia. In this country the withdrawal of a large force of men from productive work would delay our own recovery. The problem will be to make the occupation conduce to a change of German ambitions, and therefore it ought to aim only at the indispensable objects—for instance, to suppress disorder and create a local administration which would help to keep order, to destroy the Nazi forces, to liberate political prisoners, to control disarmament, to organize the return of prisoners of war, to deal with the displaced populations, to provide rehousing in ruined towns, to secure the surrender of war criminals, to ensure food supplies and to promote central self-government in place of military government. The aim will be to produce a Provisional Government that can be trusted by the Allies, so that the Allies need hold no more than strategic points, airfields and arsenals.
A great occupying force, as has already been said by more than one, speaker, will be unnecessary because the victorious Powers will have a monopoly of force in their hands outside Germany in case of 158 need. The duration of occupation will depend on the skill with which it is conducted. Lord Vansittart is anxious about the forces to be employed. I suggest that the forces required for the occupation depend on the political aims which are pursued. If the Allies despair of a European partnership such as the Prime Minister hopes for and look to indefinite domination then the occupation has a punitive character. But if the aim is a group of willing States (a European partnership, as the Prime Minister calls it) then the force used for occupation would be most suitably drawn from nations with the greatest experience and capacity to take a long view. Its work would be to foster the development of free institutions. It would aim at encouraging those elements in the underground movements, in the factories, the armed forces and the Christian Churches in Germany which have been opposed to the present régime and which will form the material for a Germany fitted to co-operate with a peaceful order. The task would be difficult. It would therefore need the most level-headed leadership. The scheme of occupation must fit in with the forecast of the Prime Minister that we must in time come to a European partnership, and the composition of the occupying forces which has been raised to-day must be viewed in the light of the future which the Prime Minister foretells.
My Lords, the two Motions which stand on the Paper to day in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, and the Bishop of Chichester, dealing both of them with the policy towards Germany, have, I think your Lordships will agree, produced an extremely interesting and indeed valuable debate. Lord Vansittart in his Motion asks a very simple, straightforward question. He asks whether the occupation of Germany will be undertaken by all the Allied Powers and not merely by the three great Powers. I have said that is a simple, straightforward question. But like a good many questions which are asked in your Lordships' House, it it very much easier to ask than to answer, at any rate at the present stage. I cannot help thinking sometimes as I listen to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, in your Lordships' House, that since he has been free, as he said this afternoon, from official trammels he has become a rather engaging blend of elder 159 statesman and erafant terrible. But I am quite certain that there is more than enough in the noble Lord's make-up of the elder statesman for him to understand quite clearly that I cannot tell him to-day the answer to all the questions he has asked me, and for a very simple reason indeed. It is this. The exact form of the Allied occupation, with which his Motion deals, is exactly one of those questions which is, at present, under urgent examination between ourselves and other Powers concerned.
As was recognized by another very eminent diplomat in your Lordships' House this afternoon, the Earl of Perth, it would clearly be impossible for His Majesty's Government to make a unilateral statement about these matters until consultations have been completed on matters which are of equal importance to other nations as to ourselves. I have no doubt that in his heart of hearts the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, recognizes this perfectly well and that one of his main motives in tabling the Motion was not so much to elicit a definite declaration from His Majesty's Government as to give public expression to his own views and to the considerations which he holds, quite rightly, should be in minds of those concerned with this subject. That he has, in fact, done this afternoon, and I am sure everybody who heard him will have been impressed by the strength and sincerity of his feelings. The events of the last two weeks have, of course, already, to some extent, supplied the answer, at any rate in some measure, to the question he asked. As your Lordships know very well, Allied Armies which are at this moment converging on Germany and have, at some places, passed the German frontier, contain contingents not only from the three great Powers but from many other nations as well. But I recognize perfectly well that that is not a complete answer to the question asked me by the noble Lord this afternoon, because, as he made absolutely clear in his speech, he is concerned not so much with the position—at least as I understood him—while hostilities are proceeding. What he is really interested in is the period when Germany is defeated and the war has come to an end.
As I have already said, I have no doubt Lord Vansittart will not expect me to divulge in advance detailed plans which 160 are at present the subject of close consultation between ourselves and our Allies. But I can say this to him. It is the earnest desire of His Majesty's Government, as it is of Lord Vansittart and other noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon, that collaboration between the United Nations great and small, which has been so notable a feature in winning this war, should be maintained during the days of victory. We want to see all of them make their contribution, where possible, to a solution of the problems of the future, as they have made so great a contribution in surmounting the dangers of the past.
May I make this one proviso? It is inevitable, I think, that the three great Powers should bear the main burden. Just as they have played the leading part in conducting this war, so they must play the leading part in occupying Germany. Even when Germany is defeated, your Lordships should remember that we shall not be through all our troubles. There still remains the struggle against Japan, the last of the guilty Powers which has to be subdued. Some Allied countries no doubt have vital interests in the Far East which they will not be able to neglect. However, as the noble Earl, Lord Perth, pointed out, there are others, and especially those which have lately been occupied by the enemy, which will have innumerable problems of reconstruction and rehabilitation which inevitably call for full deployment of their manpower and of their resources and material. For these reasons, it is likely to be impracticable for every member of the United Nations to participate in the occupation of Germany. Even the European Allies, whose interest in the solution of the German problem is obviously equally as direct as ours, have many immediate preoccupations. Their territories have been ravaged and their man-power has been enslaved. Their first concern must evidently be to set their own house in order and grapple with the task facing them there. But while it is thus inevitable that Great Britain, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics must carry the main burden of the occupation of Germany, I would make it quite clear in answer to the noble Lord's question—this is as far, I am afraid, as I can go to-day—that for their part His Majesty's Government would 161 have sympathy with the view that those members of the United Nations who have shared in the operations against Germany should make a contribution to the forces of occupation in Germany when the war is over. That is as far as I can go in answer to the specific question the noble Lord asked me this afternoon.
Other aspects of the occupation have not been dealt with so fully this afternoon. But I must refer to what, if I may say so, was the extremely valuable contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Hutchison. I do not say that I agree with everything that he said. I am afraid the admission of Germany to the British Empire would be a bad headache for the Dominions Secretary, though fortunately I think it is not a practicable proposition. But he also made some very realistic points about the actual occupation of the country. The noble Lord speaks with great authority on this subject, since he played a prominent part himself in the occupation of Germany after the last war. It is impossible for me to go into details; indeed I do not think he will expect me to do so this afternoon. But I fully recognize the importance of the points he raised and I promise that I will bring them to the proper quarters.
Now I would like to turn for a moment or two to the Motion which stands in the name of the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chichester. This Motion, of course, has far wider implications than that of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart. It raises in fact nothing less—as has been recognized this afternoon—than the whole relationship between the Nazi movement and the German people and the whole relationship between ourselves and our Allies and Germany. We all recognize how deeply the right reverend Prelate feels on this question and we also appreciate the deep sincerity with which he has spoken this afternoon. But I am still not quite clear—he will forgive my saying this—after listening to his speech, why he has reverted to this question today. Your Lordships know that the right reverend Prelate put down a Motion in almost identical terms—not quite, but nearly—on March 10, 1943. Indeed he referred to it in the Motion he put down for this afternoon. That Motion, a year and a half ago, led to what he himself described as a most impressive debate and evoked a declaration of Government 162 policy, made by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor of which the right reverend Prelate himself said:The Lord Chancellor has answered the questions which my Motion contained quite plainly by saying that Hitler's régime can and must be destroyed and that the German people is not thereby doomed to destruction. I am grateful for that reply, and I am ,grateful also for what the Lord Chancellor Ins said about the encouragement which the Government give to the opposition in Germany, realizing that it is upon the merman people, with help from outside, that responsibility rests for a change of Government.I had the impression—as I expect most of your Lordships did—from those remarks that the right reverend Prelate was entirely satisfied with the reply he had received and indeed, if your Lordships will look back at the report of the Lord Chancellor's speech, which if I say so in his presence was a very remarkable pronouncement which deserves reading and re-reading, you will note that he said this. It seems to me a complete answer to the speech the right reverend Prelate made again this afternoon. My noble and learned friend's words were as, follows:I now say in plain terms on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that we agree with Premier Stalin, first that the Hitlerite State should be destroyed, and, secondly, that the whole German people is not (as Dr. Goebbels has been trying to persuade them) thereby doomed to destruction. I put the two propositions with equal prominence and equal clearness and equal firmness. I want the right reverend Prelate to feel that if those are the questions he wants answered, answered they are, and on behalf of His Majesty's Government I am glad to have this opportunity of making both assertions with equal emphasis afresh.I really do not know what the right reverend Prelate could want more than that. Perhaps he holds the views of the Bellman in The Hunting of the Snark:I have said it once, I have said it twice,That alone should entourage the crew.I have said it twice, I have said it thrice;What I say three times is true.That may be his reason. At any rate, I am very ready to repeat again to him to-day the words spoken by my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack last year.
But if the right reverend Prelate, or anybody else, asks me to go further and to say, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that we agree that the German people, as distinct from the Nazi movement, are in no way responsible for this 163 terrible war, I am afraid I could not do that. That would be impossible. No doubt there are many people in Germany opposed to the doctrines of Hitler. The right reverend Prelate himself gave us some moving details of them, and we all know that there are brave men who have been martyred in Germany for their convictions. But I do not think we can absolve the German people as a whole from guilt for what has happened in the last twenty or thirty years. Consider the rise of the Hitler régime. Ultimately, it was the German people who allowed Hitler to seize power and allowed him to use that power for the persecution and domination of his peaceful neighbours. It is the German people who have acquiesced in, and in some cases approved of, the horrible cruelties against the Jews and the peoples of the occupied countries. And it is the German people who are still fighting with fanatical zeal to keep Hitler in power. All this may come from one of those fundamental processes of the German mentality to which Lord Cecil of Chelwood has referred this afternoon. He said that one of the great principles of the Nazi movement was belief in the divine right of the State.
It may equally arise from a quality in the German character to which he referred in a passage in his speech in the debate on March 10, 1943, which I would like to recall to the House because I think it is a perfectly correct assessment of the German character—their docility. Lord Cecil of Chelwood said on that occasion:I think that this docility of the Germans is a very terrible danger to the peace of Europe. It means that if anybody gets hold of the Government in conditions such as those which prevailed before the war they are able to turn the whole strength of Germany, however much the Germans may disapprove in their hearts of that being done, to any form of aggression or offensive action they please.Now, my Lords, I suggest that that is a profoundly true description of the German character, and with all deference to the right reverend Prelate I could not personally—and I do not think that other noble Lords would be able to do so either—accept his contention that the Allies were very largely, if not primarily, responsible for the rise of Hitler after the last war. As the Earl of Onslow, whom we are all so glad to see back in this House to-day, said, in a very wise 164 speech, German militarism is no new portent. This is, after all, the third time in seventy years that Germany has plunged Europe in blood. The Bishop of Chichester has said that they were driven to accept Hitler by despair, or at any rate that that was one of their main reasons for accepting him. Were they despairing in 1870? Were they despairing in 1914? Germany had never been more prosperous than she was in 1914, and I do not believe that the thesis advanced by the right reverend Prelate can be accepted as the complete explanation of these portents. We cannot hold the German people entirely guiltless of these continued aggressions. As a Belgian statesman said, at the opening of the Belgian Parliament, only last week:It was not Hitler who created the German people; it was the German people who created Hitler.There are, no doubt, at present cases—and there will be more in the future—where the inhabitants of areas in Germany occupied by the Allies appear to welcome them with open arms. We have all been, I think, rather shocked at some photographs we have seen of Allied soldiers fraternizing with Germans. I think that Lord Vansittart will be glad to hear that the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, General Eisenhower, has issued to all Army Commanders within his Command a directive prohibiting any fraternization whatever with the Germans. Your Lordships may be quite certain that this order will have reached all British and American troops with the Expeditionary Forces, and I hope it will prove effective. But we ought not to be surprised at the apparent friendliness of the Germans in these areas. It is a very natural reaction. It is the reaction of Agag which prompted him to say to Samuel "Surely the bitterness of death is past." It has been a reaction of the inhabitants of occupied countries throughout history. It may mean, but it does not necessarily mean, that they have undergone any change of heart. On the contrary, in the present case I believe that there is accumulating evidence that the German General Staff, envisaging defeat, are already beginning to make preparations to win the next war. Therefore, whatever may be the present frame of mind of the German people, we can have no certainty that they would not follow new leaders into war, like sheep, 165 when the time came. That is no reason—and I agree with the right reverend Prelate entirely about this—for treating the German people with the savage cruelty with which they have treated other countries. That, in any case, would be quite contrary to our traditions and practice, and entirely contrary to the declarations of the Allied leaders. The aim of British policy, and indeed of the policy of the Allies as a whole, is, after all, not to establish a slave world but to establish a peaceful world.
If I were to be asked what is the solution of the German problem, I certainly would not be able to give an answer. I do not believe that anyone could give an answer with certainty now. Lord Cecil of Chelwood said in his speech to-day that he had considered the matter very carefully and that he had come to the conclusion that the only cure was reconversion. I do not know whether that is possible. It may very well be that hard facts even more than our propaganda may convert the Germans into a realization of the error of their ways. But, at any rate, this possibility of conversion, by whatever means, is yet another reason why we should, in the meantime, make it utterly impossible for Germany to embark upon another war, after this one is over, and why we should use whatever means are necessary to make certain that she cannot. That is the only course of wisdom: that, I am certain, is the stern resolve of the British and Allied peoples: and they will be content with nothing less.
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, I shall exercise my right of reply with the utmost brevity, because the hour is late and I do not wish to trespass unduly on your Lordships' time and patience. I have, however, one or two observations to make. In the first place, I am deeply grateful for the large measure of support which my Motion has received. With a view to economy of time, I shall confine my observations to the remarks of the two members of this House who have opposed me—the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, who, if I understood him rightly, associated his colleagues with him. Both Lord Strabolgi and the right reverend Prelate persistently spoke of eighty million Germans. There are not eighty million Germans; there are only sixty-eight million. You cannot reach a figure of 166 eighty million even by lumping in the loot of the seven million of Austria and the three million of the Sudetenland. Do not let us make our problem out to be worse than it is.
The right reverend Prelate alluded to Signor Croce. "I am glad that he did that, because Signor Croce is a very good illustration of the danger of trying to go too fast. A little while ago there appeared in this country a pronouncement signed by some very prominent people to the effect that Italy was now regenerated and might be treated as an equal. I think that it was perhaps in consequence of that that Signor Croce came out as claiming the pre-war frontiers of Italy. I do not know whether he seriously expects that the Sud-Tyrol is going to be left to Italy. I think we shall not have long to wait before some Italian claims the Italian Colonies. I hope that when that happens the Government will tell us, because it will be a milestone on the road and a rather significant sign.
The right reverend Prelate said that the great majority of the German prisoners were Anti-Nazis. I think the answer to that is that the devil is pretty sick, and we may now have the very devil of a monk on our hands. I should like to say a few words in an endeavour to dissipate a very long-standing and I think rather futile controversy. I remember a verse in a poem of Matthew Arnold's:Let the long dissension cease,Geese are swans and swans are geeseI was reminded of that a little in listening to the two speeches to which I am now replying. The noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, reminded us that the right reverend Prelate had already brought forward a Motion in this House on this very pronouncement by Marshal Stalin, made two years ago, when the prospects were a little less rosy than they are now. In speaking on that Motion, I remember that I pointed out that what the Russians were saying to the Germans and what they were saying of the Germans were two entirely different things, and I quoted a wealth of evidence to that effect, even at that time, which you will find in Hansard.
A good many years ago, a former member of your Lordships' House, having unwittingly aroused the mirth of your Lordships' predecessors, said somewhat acidly "I hear a smile". Even with advancing years I can hear a wink, and 167 a little while ago I heard the loudest wink in the world. It occurred in The Times of August 24 last, and it ran as follows:The time has long since past when any public reference to the Germans without the qualifying adjective of 'Hitlerite' risked the raising of official eyebrows.The moment I saw that I thought that the Bishop of Chichester would not like it very much, and, being a very straightforward person, I committed the passage to memory in case the right reverend Prelate returned to the charge, as indeed he has done this afternoon. The Russians know very well indeed what the Germans are; they have suffered too much at their hands for there to be any doubt about that.
Passing now to the foundation of this controversy, a controversy which I think has gone on a little too long, I would recall to your Lordships a passage in the 18th Chapter of the First Book of Kings, where Elijah gave to the priests of Baal every possible opportunity to produce a miracle from their god. They cried aloud until the time of the evening sacrifice, "but there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded." That is the case with our propaganda. For years British, American and Russian propaganda of the type now relied upon by the right reverend Prelate has been calling to the German people, but there has been "neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded," because Baal—that is, the myth of the efficacy of the good Germans—is a false god. The truth is that to which the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, referred in his speech, when he quoted the President of the Belgian Senate as having said that Hitler did not make Germany, but Germany produced Hitler. That is what everyone in Europe knows and believes, and I do beg those who take a contrary view to beware lest they turn our friends into enemies by trying to make friends of our enemies.
My Lords, will the noble Lord permit me to interrupt him? He was good enough to interrupt me, and perhaps he will allow me to return the compliment. How does he explain the seven rather prominent Germans who were hanged a fortnight ago—the Mayor 168 of Leipzig and others—and the Generals who were hanged after suitable tortures?
§ LORD VANSITTART
My Lords, they had rather different views as to how to wind up this war in order better to start the next. They were a little premature in their views. I have no faith in the people who were hanged, although the method of their execution was a terrible one.
§ LORD VANSITTART
No, a Fifth Column is that which opposes absolutely the whole system of militarism, of which Nazism is only an offshoot. These men also were militarists, but they thought it better to wind up this unprofitable business and get a fresh run at it a third time. I hope that we shall beware of making enemies of our friends in that way.
I come now to the speech of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House. I have got a little out of him—not as much as I expected, but something to go on with. I welcome his assurance that as far as His Majesty's Government are concerned they will encourage the participation of the smaller States that desire to take part. I hope that at some not much later stage he will be able to furnish us with a good deal more information, for I think that Parliament has not had enough and is becoming rather hungry. With that, and subject to the possibility of pressing for more information at a later date, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I should like to make three remarks. First, the statement to which the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, has referred as having been made on March 10 last year does seem to me to have a relevance to practical situations as they arise from time to time, and therefore to the occupation. Secondly, I did say in my speech that I regarded Germany as responsible for this war. Thirdly, the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, knows very well from inner experience that some of the chief organizers of the recent plot against Hitler laid information before the British Government some time before the present war.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.