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Lion Feuchtwanger: War to make the world safe for democracy


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Lion Feuchtwanger: Selections on war


Lion Feuchtwanger
From Success (1930)
Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir


In the years after the Great War justice all over the globe was more than ever perverted to political ends. In China, during the civil war, state officials of every grade who had served under the defeated government were hanged or shot after due trial by the party who were triumphant at the time for every conceivable crime which they had not committed.

In India, polite imperialistic judges, who paid deep homage to the disinterestedness and nobility of the accused, sentenced the leaders of the Nationalist movement on dubious and purely formal grounds to long terms of imprisonment for publishing certain books and articles.

In Russia Bolshevist judges executed supporters of the Tsarist regime for acts of espionage of which they were presumably innocent, after brow-beating any defence that was offered.

In Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, after a parody of justice, Jewish and Socialist prisoners were shot, hanged and imprisoned for life for offences which could not be proven, while Nationalists who had committed proved offences were either not proceeded against, or acquitted, or given a trifling sentence and pardoned.

It was the same in Germany.

In Italy supporters of the dictatorship in power were acquitted in spite of murders proved against them; and opponents of the same dictatorship after a secret trial were banished and declared to have forfeited their property and civil rights.

In France officers of the Rhine Army of Occupation were acquitted after murdering German subjects; while Parisian Communists, arrested during a riot, were sent to several years’ imprisonment for unproven offences.

In England the Sinn Feiners were treated in the same way. One or two died while hunger-striking.

In America members of a patriotic club who had lynched innocent negroes were set free; while Italian immigrants, radicals, were sent to the electric chair ostensibly for murder in spite of credible alibis brought forward by witnesses from a large town.

These things happened in the name either of a republic, or of the people, or of a king; in any case in the name of justice.

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