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(CRISIS and WAR in EUROPE, 1937 to 1940 – continued)

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CRISIS and WAR in EUROPE, 1937 to 1940 (6 of 11)

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Opponents of War Look Inward

In Britain, through the remainder of the century, a few people would believe that Britain would have been better off if it had let Hitler have his way on the continent. The war, they would point out, was costly for Britain, and some would add that the war cost Britain its empire. Others were to argue that had Britain been willing to stand up to Germany and joined with France before 1939 there might not have been another Great War in Europe.

British pacifists had been in despair since the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Given their understanding of the horror of World War I, they saw the world as going mad and themselves as helpless repositories of sanity. Vera Brittain had declared that war was a crime against humanity and that fascism would not be destroyed by fighting. By 1939, some of the pacifists had been turning away from the problem of war and peace and looking inward. The champion of this move was Aldous Huxley, who proclaimed the need for long-term research into why barbarism and sadism were still strong within humanity.

After Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, many pacifists became resigned to war. Some of them joined the turning inward away from world events. They saw themselves as upholders and examples of morality. The idea arose of setting up small communities as examples of harmonious and egalitarian living – small communities engaged in the rigors of agriculture, believing that when the war ended their communities would be models of harmony for those emerging from war.

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Copyright © 1998 Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.

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