I Dare Say – Listen, Dorothy! (3-9-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (March 9, 1943)


Listen, Dorothy!

By Florence Fisher Parry

Listen, Dorothy, I’ve just read your book, Listen, Hans. And I owe you an apology. Before I picked it up, I was under the impression – an impression deduced from several book reviews I’d read – that it was going to be a blueprint for a peace which, if followed, would save the skins of the Germans; and that it advanced the premise that the German people were sold down the river by Hitler and really have hearts of gold; and that they ought to be delivered and be allowed to pursue their history, a strong and productive nation again, an integral segment of the new brotherhood of man.

Yes, that’s what I was all set to read. So, when I picked up Listen, Hans, I was ready to pick a quarrel with it. Trust the German people indeed, after their slavish embracing of the Nazi ideology, and their hideous obedience to its bloody program! I had as life… Oh, rather!.. entrust the future to ferocious barbarians who at least would not posses the attribute of incipient slavishness.

No people is as dangerous as a people who can be made to perform atrocities against its “better nature.” And it seems to me that in direct ratio to the German’s congenial tendency to obey his leader is his threat to the peace of the world. For forever he is a potential instrument of destruction in the hands of the first false messiah who rises to mislead him.

Prophetic words

I remembered the words of Nietzsche, himself a kind of capsule of the fanatical psychosis of the German, and his words:

…The Germans are always so badly deceived because they try to find a deceiver. If only they have a heady wine they will put up with bad bread. Intoxication means more to them than nourishment. That is the book they will always bite on. They always obey and will do more than obey, provided they can get intoxicated in the process.

I wondered: Were you, Dorothy, on the path of advocating for them a breathing spell in which to gather renewed strength for another revel of excess?

So, imagine my great relief and delight to find, upon reading your book, that you were not only quoting these very words, but supporting them by as astute a diagnosis of the German makeup as can be found in recent writing!

You have succeeded in swinging right out of the confines of shrill warning into the serene blue of quiet logic. I must confess that I never knew, before I read this book, Dorothy, what a truly concise clear concept you had of the Germany – its history and its people – which absorbed your years before the outbreak of the present war.

The first hundred pages of Listen, Hans represent the best-distilled thinking along the lines of post-war reconstruction that I have come upon, with perhaps the exception of that other most excellent blueprint for tomorrow, Norman Angell’s Let the People Know.

No answer

Dorothy, your chapter on “The Passion for Peace” is magnificent. It clarifies what is meant by “The Century of the Common Man.” It is not, as is so commonly feared… that:

Inverted snobbery that attributes creative power exclusively to hand workers and brands every wealthy man a knave… or that seeks to elevate the mediocre into an international ideal… The “common people” are not to be catalogued by social or economic class. They are all those who recognize their kinship with the commonality of mankind… The cheap concept that an industrial worker necessarily, because of the grease on his hands, belongs to that commonality of mankind was never true. Today, it is less true than ever…

Norman Angell has a chapter in his book Let the People Know called “The Unity of the Peoples.” It offers fine collateral reading to your chapter on “The Passion for Peace.” Yet magnificent as are these two chapters in these two books, neither of you, Dorothy, has been able to provide an answer to the most vexatious question that is tormenting the minds of fair men all over the world: What shall be done with Germany and the German people?

For thinking mortals know that they are inseparable, and that to destroy the one dismembers the other; yet left intact, however prostrate, they constitute forever a threat to the peace of the world.


Again, Florence’s writings have deep meaning for 1943 and today.


Indeed a good a very good article with a philosophical background. I must read more from her.

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