Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 5 May 2, 1945

Active intervention

Active intervention

A few years ago, when the British peoples were fighting alone and facing defeat, various political groups agitated strongly for a statement of War Aims from the British Government Today we are directly faced with the alternatives—of imposing on Germany a "hard" or a "soft" peace. What does the man in the street mean when he demands that this time we make Germany pay for her aggression by dictating a "hard" peace? Crudely stated, though not I think inaccurately, the answer is that a hard peace, being one which lays waste German cities, impoverishes the German people, cripples German industry, and brings the "war criminals" to "Justice," will have a salutary effect on the minds of the Germans, will "teach them a lesson," will put them in their place once and for all. The image of a father rebuking a rebellious child is common.

I believe this approach difficult to eradicate, for the complexity of the problem leads to the acceptance of simple economic concepts. That is to say, by the average person, Germany is personified and the aim of a hard peace is to punish Germany for her aggressions, her crimes, her evil doctrines. Such a method when applied to an individual may be successful; never when applied to a nation. Not only will this treatment fail to instil ideals of peace and co-operation but it will create conditions which may very well produce another destiny-driven dictator.

With converse result, the same mistaken comparison is often made by those demanding a "soft" peace. People in this category usually demand that punishment, If it be necessary, shall serve some purpose. They realise that a merely punitive peace is futile if we are to take any thought for the future. A peace in terms of paying for misdeeds falls, as a doctor who neglects his mental life may fail, because it artificially divides Germany's life, separating a few generations from those before and those to come. And yet, though at the expense of re-interpreting these terms, there are possible uses for both "hard" and "soft" peace with which we agree.

It is a fact that Germany's dilemma can only be solved by a peace that is realistic and active; a peace which will not hesitate to rearrange the social, political and economic life of Germany. Such a peace will necessitate considerable intervention by the Allies, a redistribution of economic power within Germany and a reconstitution of democratic institutions armed with power to be effective and to prevail.

This is the task for us today—we must act. The time has arrived when the final acts, which will determine the outline of history for decades to come, must be made; when time is truly precious and mastery imperative.

(This article has been considerably abbreviated,—Ed.)