Sunday, August 25, 2013

deliberate attempt is being made to exterminate many millions of Germans --Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) 

was well known British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. When reports about the incredible hardship endured by German refugees during their forced expulsion started to appear in the British media, he wrote the following letter to the Times of London.

Mass Deportations

To the editor of the Times

Sir, - In your leading article of October 19 you refer to the third count of the indictment of German war criminals, which deals with an immense array of charges of murder and raping, including mass deportations and the murder of hostages and the fourth count, which includes crimes against humanity such as the attempt to exterminate the Jews. In Eastern Europe now mass deportations are being carried out by our allies on an unprecedented scale, and an apparently deliberate attempt is being made to exterminate many millions of Germans, not by gas but by depriving them of their homes and of food, leaving them to die by slow and agonized starvation. This is not done as an act of war, but as part of a deliberate policy of peace.

Is it possible for the British nation, with its tradition of humanity, to watch these trials without shame while, in the words of a British officer now in Berlin, we acquiesce in the preparation (by our allies) of these very injustices against which we have so recently fought? Are mass deportations crimes when carried out by our enemies during war and justifiable measures of social adjustment when carried out by our allies in time of peace? Is it more human to turn out old women and children to die at a distance than to asphyxiate Jews in gas chambers? Can those responsible for the deaths of those who die after expulsion be regarded as less guilty because they do not see or hear the agonies of their victims? Do the future laws of war justify the killing of enemy nationals after enemy resistance has ceased?

These are questions discussed far more in England now than the past sins of the Nazis. It was decreed by the Potsdam agreement that expulsions of Germans should be carried out in a humane and orderly manner. And it is well known, both through published accounts and through letters received in the numerous British families which have relatives or friends in the armies of occupation, that this proviso has not been observed by our Russian and Polish allies. It is right that expression should be given to the immense public indignation that has resulted, and that our allies should know that British friendship may well be completely alienated by the continuation of this policy.

I am, Sir, yours faithfully, Russel

Trinity College, Cambridge, Oct. 19

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