Sunday, February 15, 2015


Earlier in the week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Extremely Reverend Justin Welby, caused some eyebrows to be raised when he expressed a "profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow" in his speech in Germany on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the allied bombings of Dresden.  He went on to describe how the allies "brought death and destruction on a scale and with a ferocity it is impossible to imagine."

Now I guess that my reaction was similar to that of many others in feeling a sense of outrage at these remarks and it exposed once more the problem that the Omnipotent Being has with his or her representatives here on Earth.  My mind instantly recalled the horrors of the Holocaust, the London Blitz, the destruction of Coventry and my own boyhood memories of hearing the bombing of Southampton every night as I slept fitfully beneath the stairs of our New Forest hovel.  None of these events seemed to have drawn reciprocal feelings of `regret and deep sorrow` from our friends in the Fatherland.

And so it came as an unexpected but welcome surprise to see that the Archbishop`s words had little immediate impact in Germany, where they were overshadowed by an address from the German President, Joachim Gauck, in which he laid the blame for the atrocities of the war clearly with Germany and he rejected any attempt to compare it with any Allied responsibility.  "We know who started the murderous war, we know it," he said. "And that`s why we will never forget the victims of German warfare.  We do not forget, even as we remember here today the German victims."

President Gauck was speaking at the same memorial service which the Archbishop also addressed and it was clear that he had come under no pressure from the German side to express `regret or seep sorrow.`  "A country that is responsible for a monstrosity like the Holocaust cannot expect to go unpunished and emerge undamaged from a war that it has provoked," said President Gauck.

So, rather than employing my usual penchant for hasty conclusions, maybe, just maybe, even after all these years, there are still lessons to be learnt. 

1 comment:

Ray Turner said...

I agree that this is one topic where the Archbish should have kept his thoughts to himself...