The author of this hard-hitting book came from an old English naval family. He served in the Royal Navy for over thirty years, participating in most of the decisive actions of World War I and subsequently helping to direct the Royal Navy Staff College.
Captain Grenfell's books on naval strategy — Sea Power (1941), The Bismarck Episode (1948), Nelson the Sailor (1949), and Main Fleet to Singapore (1951) — are known throughout the English-speaking world for their brilliance and their clarity. They were given top priority by reviewers here and abroad.
This final book — Captain Grenfell died suddenly of unknown causes in 1954 as he was drafting a sequel to it — is a 21-gun broadside on policy rather than strategy; it touches on so many raw nerves, conflicts with so many prejudices and vested interests, that publication has had to take place in our still largely free and uncensored United States. No English publisher will touch it as of the present — nor has any important American reviewer recognized its existence.
Those who are still fighting World War II will not like this book; but those who are tired of the same old black-and-white clichés with regard to Germany will welcome it as a breath of fresh air. Unconditional Hatred will find its readership, despite an almost complete blackout by the press. The present printing includes the final corrections and last-minute additions of Captain Grenfell.
THE DEVIN-ADAIR COMPANY
23 East 26th Street, New York 10, N. Y.
CAPTAIN RUSSELL GRENFELL, R.N.
FIRST WORLD EDITION. Printed in U.S.A.
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 53-12064
First printing, October, 1953
Second printing, January, 1954
Third printing, November, 1954
Fourth Printing, June, 1958
German War Guilt and the Future of Europe
CAPTAIN RUSSELL GRENFELL, R.N.
We have grown accustomed to hear it insinuated that all the adventures and anxieties and austerities of the past half-century carried our country on until, in 1940, it came to 'its finest hour'; and that may be, provided it is stressed that what is meant is, not the finest hour of the politicians who, if the truth be told, have shown grievous ineptitude, bringing Britain to the very edge of catastrophe by their imbecilities, but the finest hour of the fighting men.
(Algernon Cecil in QUEEN VICTORIA AND HER PRIME MINISTERS, p. 338)
THE DEVIN-ADAIR COMPANY NEW YORK 1958
Many things can go wrong in war: minor tactics, major tactics, minor strategy, major strategy, supply, training, intelligence. Should there be failure in any of these, adverse consequences will ensue, to a greater or lesser degree according to the magnitude of the fault in relation to the war as a whole.
There is one other factor, however, in which error is nearly always serious. This is policy; since policy is the governing element controlling all the rest. The evidence regarding the Second World War indicates that American and British policy, both separately and in combination, suffered from defects of a major character. The greatest military effort in history was based on the belief that the complete defeat and permanent disarmament of Germany would exorcise the evil of war from the world. That belief turned out to be wholly false; so that in spite of all the bloodshed and sacrifice, Germany had to be asked to rearm shortly after the allied victory that was to mark the end of German military power. It is therefore clear that something was badly amiss with the approach to war of the American and British political leaders, and it is my purpose in this book to investigate and determine where they went wrong, with particular emphasis on the British aspect of the matter.
The reader will find that I have been somewhat iconoclastic. But I do not think it necessary to apologise for that. There is nothing, I fancy, in the handbook of democracy to suggest that politicians are immune from criticism. Surely very much the reverse. Freedom for the citizen to criticize his rulers is indeed the main distinguishing mark of a free society, and needs to be made use of if the power to do so is not to fall into decay.
Not that any sensible person would question the soundness of Sir Winston Churchill's conduct of the war unless he felt, rightly or wrongly, that he had solid grounds for doing so; for captious criticism in that direction would harm only the critic.
Nor, I trust, am I insensitive to Sir Winston's truly remarkable qualities as a war leader. There was no other politician in Britain capable of infusing such enormous energy and resolution into the war effort as he. But that only makes it the more important to determine whether all his superabundant drive and vigour was being exerted in the right direction – or the wrong one. For Churchill's example is bound to have considerable influence on any of his successors who may find themselves in a similar position.
This book was completed just as Malenkov took over the reins of government in Russia, and electrified the world by his "new charm." I have, however, left the book substantially unaltered. Even if Russian policy is in process of drastic reorientation towards co-operation with the West, about which we cannot yet be certain, the problem presented by the military vacuum in central Europe would remain no less critical than in Stalin's time; possibly more so.
I am presented with a difficulty over Sir Winston Churchill's knighthood. It is from no discourtesy that I find it hard to bring all my references to the wartime Prime Minister up to date. It just doesn't sound right as applied to those days. One of the two or three most famous men in the world was for six hectic years thought of universally as "Mr." Churchill. It would in my
judgment be doing violence to history to describe him otherwise in relation to those years. Besides, how am I to tell that by the time this book appears in print, Sir Winston Churchill may not be known by another title still?
I have received valuable help from a number of people in writing this book; to all of whom I wish to express my most grateful thanks. I prefer, however, not to make specific acknowledgment, as I wish to retain full and undivided responsibility for a book for which unqualified acclamation is hardly to be counted on. R. G.