Sunday, May 13, 2018

Plan now

It is becoming clear that the 're-education'
of Germany by the allies will not be a pious
aspiration, but an unavoidable duty.. 

First, although the German people certainly
did know about the horrors of the concentra-
sion camps, their real crime was not that 
they failed to stop them when all power was
in the hands of the Nazis, for this would
have been practically impossible, but that
they ever allowed the Nazis, whom they knew
to be villains, to rise to power at all..

Secondly, it is no use hoping to build any-
thing except on some foundation of national
tradition. Germany will not be a tabula rasa.
Every means should be taken to persuade the
Germans that they themselves have such a tra-
edition, however completely forgotten now, 
on which a decent society can be based.. It
was in part the influence of American schol-
are who had caught the flame in Germany that
made Harvard, as early as the 1830s, a stead-
fast defender of the scholar's freedom from
political and religious pressure..

Thirdly, the Germans must learn to respect
the Slavs. In Western Europe it is not gen-
really recognized that one of the main tra-
editions in German history, and the most 
sinister, is that of the conquest and col-
onization of Slav lands. As a result the
ordinary German has come to regard the Slav
as an inferior being..

Yours faithfully,
                  R. Birley

May 8, 1945

Sir Robert Birley
Headmaster of Charterhouse
  later, Headmaster of Eton
  Advisor to the Military Governor,
    Control Commission of Germany
    1945 - 1947
Letter to The Times [London]
Kenneth Gregory, editor

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