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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 6, No. 2 March 17th, 1943

[Letter from H.L. to Salient Vol. 6, No. 2 March 17th, 1943]

Dear Gabriel,—

One good point you brought up in the article "Reveille" is the impossibility to punish the sin while letting the sinner go scot-free. But I heartily disagree with the rest I would like to remind Gabriel that the time has passed when unarmed and untrained people pick up their hay forks and similar implements and assemble on the village square to overthrow their government. It would require too much time and space to point out all the details which brought the Nazis info power. I have experienced with my own eyes the incapability of the German communists to revolt against the Nazis. The communists in Germany are helpless not because of a lack in numbers but merely because it, is nowadays possible for a well-armed and well-trained minority to suppress and tyrannize a whole people. The German communists were incapable of storing up arms and ammunition. That is why no major revolt has yet occurred against the leaders of the Reich. I have worked in an Austrian factory after the German occupation. All the workers there were communists. Now and again a Brown guard or a Blackguard man was beaten up in a pub or in a dark street. Then about two dozen people disappeared in a concentration camp. Every resistance cost lives and was absolutely senseless. It is therefore not as foolish as you think to discriminate between Nazis and Germans. We are not afraid to go the whole hog, but we must show sufficient understanding not to do it. Violence shown by the German people does not by any means justify violence on our part. We cannot and must not punish 80 million people.

Many Germans are Nazis because of the environment in which they have been forced to live during the last twenty years, and not merely because they are of German blood. Race and culture are not interrelated. Culture is not a function of race.

Allow me to quote Ruth Benedict, a well-known American anthropologist. Referring to Japan she writes in her latest book, "Race and Racism": "Japan has a history of peace and non-aggression that cannot be matched in the Western World. During the first eleven centuries of her recorded history she was engaged in only one war abroad. Indeed the sole conflict ended in 1508 and from that time until 1853, when Japan opened her doors to intercourse with the world outside, the building of all oceangoing boats was forbidden by imperial decree to make certain that Japan would preserve her policy of isolationism. The ceremoniousness, the light heartedness, the aesthetic appreciation of the Japanese were traits that passed current as their essential qualities. Since 1853 they have fought five times overseas and are well on their way to becoming one of the most aggressively warlike nations of the world. In the human race no centuries-long existence free from conflict as the lambs, guarantees that the next generation may not become the lion."

The Germans have for centuries been squeezed between Western and Eastern powers. Conditions in Germany will not change until these Western and Easter powers will tryto understand the German mentality and until they will try to improve economic and social conditions in Germany. I think that a content Germany is a far better guarantee for a durable peace than an in content Germany which is only waiting for a chance to take revenge by starting armed conflicts with either the Eastern or the Western powers.

After this war we will have to do our utmost to change the environment of the German people, we will have to create an environment which will not cause any discontent among the people and which will not create any more Hitlers, Goerings, Goebbels and Himmlers.