Herbert Colborne Oakley   (1869 - 1944)
The Concerned Citizen

Written at: St. David's, Wales

Printed in: "The West Wales Guardian" 27, March 1935



To the Editor of the "West Wales Guardian"

Sir,- Will you kindly give me leave to reply to your correspondent "Sir Benfro".  Behind a knightly nom de plume he hides his identity - and as a true knight presumable seeks to defend the weak.

He accuses me of manifesting a spirit of accusation against Germany, and at the same time of accepting as a fact that Britain's aims and aspirations are pure and lofty in international politics.  I refer Sir Benfro to the war of 1870, and the Great War of 1914.  Beyond all controversy Germany was the instigator of both theses devastating wars - to deny this is to ignore the foundation of truth itself.  Who was it before 1914 that secretly armed on a scale never before known in history?  Germany!  Which country was it that for many years before that war gave the statesmen of Britain and Europe cause for alarm?  Germany!  Which country, pray, has consistently festered a military spirit, and with every kind of propaganda prepared itself in thought, word and deed for war?  Germany!  And now, at this moment, which country is causing the most uneasy speculations as to her intentions?  Germany!  But for Germany today we might envisage peace in Europe, but she remains the unknown factor, a source of unrest.  Germany was beaten by the Allies in the Great War.  One trembles to think what would have happened had she been victorious, and we have to judge Germany not by what she achieved in the way of devastating France and Belgium, but by what she would have done had victory been hers.  The mercy shown to her at Versailles by the Allies would never have been shown by her;  and compared with what she would have exacted, she was let off lightly indeed.  Germany has not played the game.  She deflated dishonestly her money, and did all she could to escape paying those obligations rightly imposed upon her by the victorious Allies.  Why labour the point?  All this is now history, and he who runs may read.

I must repeat that if any nation can claim that she has pursued the ideals of peace by speech, by practical example, even to the risk of danger to ourselves, it is Britain.  Facts abundantly prove this, and yet your correspondent cavails at my words and questions with obtuse bigotry the purity of Britain's motives!  Here again, why labour the point?  Emerson, the best of American philosophers, said that truth adheres together of its own innate quality, it needs no puttying, no plastering, and it is a supererogatory labour to defend England's peace attitude so consistently exhibited to all the diplomatic world, for all to see, these many years past.  And now when with obvious reluctance and tardy-postponed decision, she proclaims a very modest White Paper, Germany, forsooth impertinently protests in ill timed anger.  For who was it that forced our statesmen to re-arm as set forth in the White Paper?  It was Germany herself, with her conscripted battalions, her bellicose speeches, and defiant truculent attitude!

As to the last paragraph of your correspondent's letter, our methods of advertising the army is surely a less provocative way than the wholesale conscriptions imposed upon Germany's young manhood under a brutal Prussianism which is the very incarnation of the war spirit.

Finally, why whine about Germany's inequality?  Did she not deserve it?  Isn't it good for her inflated pride and arrogance to be made to feel the smart of a justly imposed chastisement?  Is she to be allowed to escape the penalty for breaking with impunity the moral law, to please such apologists for bad behaviour as Sir Benfro, who when he speaks of the God of the Allies as the God of high and noble international ideals, seems to forget that if any man has been treated and worshipped as a God, it is Hitler?  Hitler always strikes me as a pigmy trying to fill out a giant's clothes, a small man in a big office, with all the effrontery of a beggar on horseback, full of firework speeches and firebrand propaganda, a nice god, a nice idol, for idolators who worship brute force to put their trust in.  -  Yours &c.,


     St. David's.

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