Text taken from a Life Magazine editorial, 6/12/44.




What is this crusade?

It is a crusade against a man, a gang, a nation and an idea which have threatened and still threaten the life and hopes of our Western civilization. These ideas, this gang, this man, with their grip on that nation, cannot live in the same world with us. It is we or they.

In this crisis let us remind ourselves that our Western civilization depends for its life on three great beliefs. We believe that every human soul is sacred, whether small or great, and that the Birthright of every man is freedom. The Nazis deny it. We believe that men can best govern themselves through laws and live peaceably together by obeying these laws or lawfully changing them. The Nazis deny it. We believe that man was given the power to reason, and therefore owes his fellow man the duty to be reasonable all around the borders of his faith. The Nazis deny it and have moreover buried all civilized faith beneath a mass of tribal superstition. This tribal superstition gives them a sanction in their own mad, ambitious minds to commit any wickedness, from the torture of defenseless flesh to the planned conquest and enslavement of the world. Our crusade is that of Western civilization which is fighting for its life.

Why is America involved in this crusade? Because we are a part of Western civilization and because our nation, too, is in danger.


It is not a joke nor an exaggeration that the Germans wished and wish to rule the world. Some of them have wished it and planned for it since 189O, the year of the founding of the worldwide Pan-German League. Pan-Germans believed with Fichte that Germans are "the people who are entitled to rule the earth." Schemes like this were in the mind of Wilhelm II. They are in the minds of the Prussian militarists who have been the ruling class of Germany for over 50 years. Schemes like this are in the mind of Hitler.

Hitler, in fact, took these old schemes aud made them the daydreams of the whole nation. He rose to power by dinning in the German ear the notion that all Germans are chained supermen, victims of a "pluto-democratic" plot. He made daydreaming a national habit. Were Europe alone left under Hitler's heel, it would be a base for the same fantastic German imperialism at some future opportunity. The American nation, without allies, is not safe against a tyrant who commands all Europe. That is one reason -- a reason of power politics and self-defense -- why we Americans are fighting Germans.

The Nazi system must expand or die. Its expansion threatens not only our American security, but the American democratic political system. There is no such thing as security for any nation -- or any individual -- in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism," said President Roosevelt. "Gangsterism" is a precise description of the Nazi political methods and beliefs, which are not beliefs but their opposite: nihilism. America has known gangsters, but never one who operated on a world stage.

For this stage, Hitler transmuted the simple gangster's lust of money and power into a mystical nationalism. He asks his Germans to fight for no more rational purpose than national self-assertion. Comprehensible things like loot, women and slaves are offered as mere by-products of conquest. The motive, the inspiration is a fanatical zeal which finds as much pleasure in war as in peace, as much fulfillment in dying as in life.

We believe in reason and in life, not in un-reason and death. That is another reason why we fight Germans.


For 5,000 years great prophets and thinkers of all lands have tried to mitigate the curse of Earth: Man's injustice to his fellow man. For nearly 2,000 years we of western Christendom have made slow, painful but steady headway toward that end. All our religious doctrine and most of our rational reflection have taught us that all men are brothers, equal in the sight of God and entitled to an equal chance to prove themselves in life. Said Hitler, "We are not out against the hundred and one different sects of Christianity, but against Christianity itself." And he has proved it! The Nazi state can and does sterilize whomever it sees fit to sterilize. In addition to the Nuremberg anti-Semitic laws, it can and does forbid any marriage which its minions think may contaminate the purity of the so-called Aryan Volk. This master race, when purified, is to be a race of Nietzschean heroes, to which all other races are inferior. A permanent caste system in continental Europe is a professed part of Hitler's New Order, as it would eventually be a part of his plan for the world. Frenchmen, Poles, Norwegians, Belgians, imported by the millions to work in the Reich, already know what this slavery means.

Where most Americans would fit in this international caste system has never been made quite clear. It will never be made clear. Our American blood is generously mixed, and to avoid the ignominy of having to un-mix it is another reason why we fight.

Rational and humane people throughout the world are arrayed against Hitler and his nation. Since this is so, it is often supposed that the Germans will suddenly realize the hopelessness of their cause, awake from their dream, collapse. They have not collapsed and will not until they are beaten. The world's enmity does not scare them; it adds to the ferocity with which they fight. For the Germans have scuttled their rational and humane impulses and replaced them with the superstitions of a tribe. No instinct other than primitive tribalism can explain or sustain so much nonsense, defiance and cruelty as the Germans have shown.


They have defied all law and the very concept of law, human, international, and divine. They have taught their youth false anthropology, false economics, false geography, false history, false religion. They have corrupted science itself by forcing it to serve other ends than truth. Without warning they attacked Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, the Lowlands, Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia. To win and to rule they have revived barbaric cruelties and invented refinements of them. Throughout their fear-ruled empire they have killed hostages, uprooted civil populations, looted, raped and burned.

In Lidice near Prague the 1,200 inhabitants were suspected of sheltering the killers of Reinhard Heydrich. In June 1942 the Nazis shot every man in Lidice, sent every woman to a concentration camp and razed every building in Lidice to the ground. They have given the same treatment to seven other Polish cities, in cold blood.

When the Nazis entered Warsaw in September 1939, they gave each German soldier 24 hours for looting. At a hospital in Starotitarovskaya in Russia they bled 40 children to death to supply their own blood bank. They dive-bombed Rotterdam after it had surrendered. They have systematically starved Greece. They have sent trainload after trainload of Jews to the Belzec Crematory near Lwow, where they are electrocuted en masse, then burned. It is not mere passion; it is according to plan.

Wrote Herr Werner Best, a Nazi theoretician, "Historical experience has shown that the destruction and elimination of a foreign nationality is not in the least against the laws of life, provided that destruction and elimination are completed."

There will be neither peace, nor freedom, nor good feeling in the world until these people are at our mercy. There can be no room for mercy until then.