Editorial: Remember Warsaw’s horrors in discussing merciful peace (2-16-43)

Brooklyn Eagle (February 16, 1943)

Editorial: Remember Warsaw’s horrors in discussing merciful peace

It is not characteristic of Americans, even in the fever of war, to yield to the instincts of hate. They take their wars rather dispassionately, bringing to their planning and their advancement a calm determination which does not find sustenance in a stimulated fury. Emphasis upon the atrocities and the horrors attending the operations of enemies is not essential to produce the mood required for the performance of what is obviously a necessary task.

There are many Japanese today, just as there were many Germans a quarter of a century ago, who can testify that Americans bring to the business of war a degree of competency which is not impaired by the absence of the element of ferocity which the Axis military leaders seem to consider indispensable in dealing effectively with the enemy.

Talk at present of a merciful and a just peace is consistent with the American tradition and with the spirit which American soldiers bring to their performance in battle. It is in all respects creditable to their humane instincts. But some time before the war’s end the leaders of the United Nations must reach a determination of the issue of what, in the light of recent world history, constitutes a merciful and a just peace.

Can such a peace be established by simply writing off the dark record of the past, with all of its abysmal cruelty and inhumanity, and starting anew as if upon a clean page?

An answer in the negative may safely be given to this question. It could not be otherwise without ignoring the element of justice, without encouraging the belief that men can give free rein to all of the impulses of bestiality without the expectation of retribution and without adding greater inhumanity to the wars of the future, assuming that there will be wars in the future, as there have been in the past.

If justice is to distinguish the peace, the framers of the terms of settlement must have constantly in their mind’s eye the picture of Warsaw, which will stand in history as the epitome of all war’s varied horrors and as the perfect exemplification of Nazi talent in drawing and executing a design for the production of a maximum of human suffering.

The Office of War Information’s story of Warsaw does more than present the pattern for the New Order. It is eloquently revealing as to the character of the enemy against whom the full strength of the nation must soon be thrown and it is “a deadly warning to all men still blessed with freedom.”

President Roosevelt has declared that:

It is our intention that just and sure punishment shall be meted out to the ringleaders responsible for the organized murder of thousands of innocent persons and the commission of atrocities which have violated every tenet of the Christian faith.

Such punishment for those who have made Warsaw a symbol of man’s inhumanity to man and who have brought similar suffering, even worse than death, to Holland and Belgium, Norway and France, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and wherever the Nazi blight has fallen, is inescapable if the peace, when it comes, is to be just.