2000s >> 2002 >> no-1178-october-2002

50 Years Ago: Humanity and Reason

On August 17th the following news item was reported from Hamburg by Reuter:

    “Dr. Hermann Ehlers, President of the West German Lower House, speaking yesterday during the unveiling ceremony to Hamburg’s 50,000 men, women and children who were killed during air raids in the 1939-45 war, said that nobody in Germany and few people in Britain had raised their voices against total warfare.

Therefore we must think of the one man who publicly protested against this kind of warfare – the Lord Bishop of Chichester, he said.

Today our special respect is due to the lone caller for humanity and reason.”

This will be news to members of the Socialist Party. Socialist speakers and writers protested many times during the war both against the war itself and against the inhumanity with which it was being conducted. It seems hard now to see the credit going to a member of the Bench of Bishops, who, as a body, were among the most bloodthirsty supporters of the war. Socialists agreed that the Germans suffered under the Nazi regime but we never saw the argument that we should help to kill them off in their thousands just to prove our sympathy for them. Socialists refused to help in the murder of the German and Japanese workers, and, for that refusal, some of them spent the war years being hunted by the police. Still, we may take this opportunity of telling Dr. Ehlers that we shall be publicity protesting against total war in any third world war too. We shall be calling for humanity and reason, that is to say, for Socialism, at every opportunity we have. And we shall be opposing the slaughter of the Russians, or of any other enemy our rulers may select for us.

(From Passing Show by A.W.E., Socialist Standard , October 1952)

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