German-French Unity, Basis for European Peace

By Hermann Lutz | Go to book overview

Concerning the German national character, Vansittart declared:

Force and fraud, fraud and force; that is the old German gospel. . . . Germans have pledged no word without breaking it, have made no treaty without dishonouring it, touched no international faith without soiling it. For generations they have been ruining all trust between men.

These broadcasts were given wide publicity in the British press and were later, "in response to very numerous requests," printed as a pamphlet of which 500,000 copies were sold within one year. On the back of the pamphlet the editors stated that Sir Robert's talks were designed to show that the German has always been the barbarian, the war-lover, the enemy of humanitarianism, liberalism and Christian civilization, and that the Hitler regime was only the logical fruit of German history, the German in excelsis. Sir Robert believed that this fact must be understood and faced, once and for all.

His indictment [the editors declared] is based upon wide scholarship, first-hand experience and the conviction of many years. No man living was better qualified to say these things. They needed saying. They cannot be ignored.1

Certainly, they cannot be ignored. Much of the indictment is true of Hitler's deeds. To a diplomatist of Vansittart's distinguished career the public attributes expert knowledge. Many millions in the Western world were, and still are, deeply influenced by his and similar views. Finally, the broadcasts and their distribution in print had official approval. According to a statement by a parliamentary group, Sir Robert was invited by the Minister of Information, Mr. Duff Cooper, to give these broadcasts on the history and the character of the Germans.2 If the British Government or the leading men in the Cabinet had disapproved of their Chief Diplomatic Adviser's declarations, the broadcasts would have been promptly stopped and would not have been printed.3

When Sir Robert left public office as Lord Vansittart he continued his activity along these same lines. In 1943, he contended that 75 per cent of Germans have for 75 years "been eager for any assault on their neighbours."4 And, in 1945, he issued an emphatic warning in both English and French:

-4-

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German-French Unity, Basis for European Peace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Part One 1
  • Chapter One - Changing Opinions 3
  • Chapter Two - The Peacemakers' Spirit, 1919 30
  • Chapter Three - Tribulations of the Weimar Republic 96
  • Chapter Four - Why Hitler Rose to Power 105
  • Part Two 145
  • Appendix 179
  • Notes 201
  • Bibliography 247
  • Name Index 253
  • Subject Index 256
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