Where the News Ends

CHAMBERLIN, WILLIAM HENRY

Where the News Ends By WILLIAM HENRY CHAMBERLIN A Glimpse of England It has now boon almost five years since I have seen England in the flesh. Mr lsst visit to London took place in the winter...

...One senses s feeling of uncertainty about the concrete shape of things to come in the average Englishman's mind...
...And, as Nicolson remarked, this message did not in the least diminish the prestige either of General Plumer or of his soldiers...
...Nicolson in another essay takes issue with a British squadron leader who had expressed the opinion that irreparable harm had been done to the prestige of the Amriican soldiersóbecause they treated German civilians as kindly as French and Belgians...
...treated with little candor in tima of war...
...The titles speak for themselves: Subject India and Our Settlement With Germany...
...Voigt, one of the keenest, most brilliant and most erudite minds of our age, has kept up in his magazine, "The Nineteenth Century and After," what is almost a one-man fight for honest reporting and interpretation of Soviet policy in relation to countries like Poland, Finland and Yugoslavia...
...I drill into one's brain a marked distaste for the more crude manifestations of (ierman ingenuity, to return to the gentle groves of Athens by the llm and to recall the time when the Herman genius was governed by Reason and Understanding...
...ET the hysterical note is almost never struck, even in letters to the editor...
...Here, for instance, is a little note about the vicissitudes of a publishing firm: "Seeker and Warburg have been forced by flying bombs to evacuate their offices, but their publishing . program remains unchanged...
...So is s continuation, after the war...
...Moreover, editors and publishers faced difficulties and restrictions in connection with labor supply, printing, psper, far exceeding anything yet experienced in this country...
...bLeAFING through the magazines, one catches a few of the assumptions on which the average Englishman is looking toward the future...
...The proportion >f views and ideas which would be reread with.a shamefaced desire to forget n few years after the end of the wsr is markedly small, much smaller than in some American publications...
...eAge and length of service, not family responsibility or social usefulness, are to be the determining considerations in deciding which men are to be discharged first...
...One of the Irst impressions that one gets from these magaxines is s sense of poise and balance...
...And sometimes one finds, quite unconsciously and without any pose, a truly inspiring picture of how civilised and humane people can continue to speak in civilised and human accents, even amid the wildest storms of barbarism...
...The scars of air bombing were not to be seen...
...There ia, however, a restricted exception to this rule...
...Certain categories of soldiers, notably teachers and building trades workers, for whom there is a special need, will be transferred to the reserve and allowed to resume their civilian occupations ahead of others, but with the proviso that they are liable to conscription if th#y quit their assigned jobs...
...Nicolson proceeded to draw a commonsense distinction between unnecessary brutality and mistaken.sentimentality that would foster a revival of militarism when he wrote: "Whereas it doesn't matter overmuch if tfie British Tommies or the American til's share their rations with the children of Aachen, it does matter very much if Germany is allowed to militarize the Rhineland or to construct airplanes and tanks...
...Apart from the blackout, which had an inky character, and a few extra formalities involved in getting into and out of the country one would scracely have suspected that "there was a war on...
...One flnds occasional aensitWonó about the pea* sibility that the British wsr effort is andeieatia*s«e*Y sbroad...
...of compulsory military service...
...The New Statesman dismisses the Morgenthau Plan brusquely and adequately with two words: economic lunacy...
...Even in democratic countries, wartime emotionalism and propaganda, official aud unofficial pressure of one kind and snother, inhibitions snd desire to swim with the/fide play havoc with the accuracy and perspective or the average man's view of the world...
...The question whether the blockade against Germany should be prolonged was under discussion...
...stsmp...
...whose chief spokesman is Lord Vansittart...
...I waa reading issues that were published during the months when visitations of robot bombs were almost s daily affair...
...Obviously England, no doubt because of its frontline position, has been willing to go farther than the United States in accepting the principle of labor conscription...
...who follow a great British nonconformist tradition in placing truth ahead of all other considerations...
...And Harold Nicolson, in The Spectator, chose a particularly bad week for flying bombs to write a thoughtful and appreciative essay about Eckermann's conversations with Goethe, beginning as follows: "It is valuable at moments when the vibrations of Vei geltungswaffe No...
...I have caught a glimpse ef England in its sixth year of war recently by running through hies of two of the better known weeklies, The Spectator snd 1 he New Statesman, The former has no very perceptible politics...
...A message arrived from Plumer, in command of the British troops of occupation in Cologne, stating that the widespread hunger'among * the workers and the poorer classes was adversely affecting the morale of the British soldiers, and that the latter insisted on sharing their own rations with the hungry people around them...
...England has its Hex Stout school of "thought...
...All the more honor Co men like Brailsford and Voigt...
...the latter inclines toward the Labor Party, with a touch of independent Leftism...
...Mr lsst visit to London took place in the winter of 1939-1940, during that curious, unreal interlude sometimes known as the "phoney war...
...Much wider and more stringent state controls sre taken for granted...
...Brailsford, veteran crussder for unpopular causes, has published during the war two very fine and honest books on subjects which are apt to be...
...Both ought to ba compulsory reading for anyone who will have anything to de with the postwar settlement in Europe and in Asia...
...But one does not And any distinct concensus of opinion about how the double objective of nipping in the bud any revival of aggressive militarism snd promoting the orderly economic reconstruction of Europe on which Great Britain, as a trading nation, is so dependent for its own wellbeing, ia to be realized...
...Yet at the same time one finds sharply critical notes, in The Spectator, about the setting up of the so-called "Committee of National Liberation," about the sabotage of the Warsaw uprising...
...There is a strong feeling that the twenty-year AngloSoviet alliance of 1942 is a cornerstone of future European stability...
...While on this subject of wartime England I should like to pay tribute to two Englishmen who hsve deserved well of all lovers of truth and justice: Henry Noel Brailsford and F. A. Voigt...
...Just as in the United States, a limited demobilization is in prospect after, the end of the war in Europe...
...the food in the London restaursnts wss as good, or as bad, as normal...
...At the same time a film, "The While Cliffs ef Dover," which, like the poem ef the same name, was probably conceived in this country ss a friendly gesture toward England, evokes the following islhei h mated resction in The Spectator: "The matter derive* from a long piece of sentimental doggerel bearing the same name as the film, Every visitor to America will know what harm a humorless caricature of this kind can do, with ita picture of aecisl backwardness snd surviving feudalism...
...Nicolson recalled an incident at the last peace conference, in which he wax participant...
...For this difficult dilemma, the need for Soviet cooperation, the uncertainty whether this cooperation can be obtained on honorable or tolerable terms, there is no convincing answer...

Vol. 27 • December 1944 • No. 48


 
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