Utley Freda - The high cost of vengeance

Author : Utley Freda
Title : The high cost of vengeance
Year : 1949

Link download : Utley_Freda_-_The_high_cost_of_vengeance.zip

FOLLOWING WORLD WAR I FRANCE AND BRITAIN REFUSED TO LISTEN to the statesmen who said that you can have peace or vengeance, not both. They broke their armistice pledge to Germany that peace would be made on the basis of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points and “the principles of settlement enunciated” by the American President.* They continued the starvation blockade of Germany for six months after the Armistice, in order to force the German democrats who had taken over the government to sign a dictated peace. Having promised a peace without annexations or indemnities, they deprived Germany of territory and imposed a crushing reparations burden on the newly established Weimar Republic. Having promised general disarmament they disarmed Germany without disarming themselves. The victors refused even to discuss the terms of peace with the vanquished who had surrendered on stated conditions which were not fulfilled, and in general discredited democracy in German eyes by associating it with broken pledges, national humiliation, and economic distress. The Nazi movement, born from the dragon seeds planted at Versailles, and brought to monstrous growth by the world depression which raised the total number of unemployed in Germany to six million, took power at the moment of Europe’s and America’s greatest economic crisis. Inevitably, the second World War followed the first after an interval of only twenty years. Instead of learning that you cannot build confidence and security, democracy and prosperity, on a foundation of hatred and vengeance, the victorious allies this time have torn Germany apart, deprived her of all possibility of existence without exterior aid, and while unable to agree among themselves on a peace treaty, have jointly reduced the defeated enemy country to the status of an African colony. History is repeating itself with results likely to be even more tragic for Europe than the events which led up to World War II. Once again the victorious allies are making it impossible for the Germans to place their faith in democracy and justice, since they find justice denied and democracy mocked by the occupying powers. Once again the German democrats are in danger of yielding right of way to the totalitarians because legal methods and appeals to justice are again failing to obtain a fair deal for the German people. Last time we produced Hitler; this time we may succeed in giving Stalin hegemony over all Europe. If France, following World War I, had been prepared to treat Germany as generously and intelligently as England had treated France after Napoleon’s defeat, Europe might have known another century of peace. The long conflict between Germany and France could have ended on terms as advantageous to both, and as conducive to European peace, as the Anglo-French collaboration which succeeded centuries of rivalry and war between England and France. Instead, France sought a fictitious security by disarming the Teutonic giant while giving him every reason to plot for revenge. The crushing burden of reparations the Germans were required to pay, and the denial to Germany of a secure and honorable status among the nations of Europe, so enfeebled German democracy that the Nazis won power and France was overwhelmed by the forces she herself had created. It may be true that the lesson to be learned from history is that mankind learns nothing from it. But the explanation for the failure of the Western democracies to read the lesson of the immediate past seems mainly due to the effect of war propaganda and the ignorance or lack of integrity of the molders of public opinion. The pen is still mightier than the sword and responsible for more human misery when unscrupulously employed in “psychological warfare.” As Samuel Johnson wrote in the eighteenth century: “I know not whether more is to be feared from streets filled with soldiers accustomed to plunder, or from garrets filled with scribblers accustomed to lie.” War propaganda, and the falsification of history indulged in by a multitude of journalists, authors, professors, and politicians has convinced the American public that the Germans have a peculiar aversion to democracy and are an innately aggressive people who will always attempt to rule the world unless kept down and taught to love democracy by a long period of instruction in a reformatory. Only those who have studied the history of Europe know that Germany did not become a militarist nation until centuries of French aggression, from the days of Richelieu to Napoleon’s conquests had caused a reaction which enabled Prussia to forge the modern German state out of the disunited and powerless congeries of kingdoms, principalities, and free cities, which constituted “the Germanies” before the French Revolution. Americans who have had it dinned into their ears for years that Germany has attacked France three times within living memory will be astonished at reading what was said at the time in Britain and the United States about the Franco-Prussian War. The London Times on July 16, 1870, wrote as follows: The greatest national crime that we have had the pain of recording in these columns since the days of the First French Empire has been consummated. War is declared—an unjust but premeditated war. The dire calamity, which overwhelms Europe with dismay, is, it is now too clear, the act of France, of one man in France. It is the ultimate result of personal rule. There can be no doubt as to the side on which the world’s sympathies will be enlisted, and, whatever may on former occasions have been the offenses of Prussia, she will in this instance have on her side all that moral support which is seldom denied to those who take up arms in self-defense. ...

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