June 16, 1945
THE SENSITIVE ARTISTS who have been spending the last four years in the front lines of the many battles this country has been waging, are coming through with flying colors, which disproves many of the arguments against their ability to withstand the rigid military discipline and the horrors of war. In the European Theatre, where the fighting has ceased, there is one such artist, a Negro poet, Bruce Wright, who earlier this year had a book of poems, "From the Shaken Tower," published in England.
Bruce, who instead of cracking under the terrific strain and stress of invasion after invasion, has by virtue of these experiences been made to realize the big job ahead which must be done in order to assure the peoples of the world a lasting peace and most of all that it will take the abilities of all the people to accomplish that feat. Bruce, who has been stationed in Czechoslovakia and Germany, has done some advanced thinking not without humor, out loud in a recent letter to us and we thought you, too, would like to know first hand what he has to say.
"I have come to some private conclusions about these people whom we have, academically speaking--and, I suppose, theoretically --conquered. The opinions are not in keeping with what an American soldier should think, especially one who has been fired upon by brothers, friends and sons of the people about whom the opinions are concerned. However, it is as simply eloquent a truth today as it was the day Burke spoke it, that it is "impossible to indict an entire people." It has taken no huge amount of sensitive perception to have this borne upon me."
"We, as soldiers and conquerers [sic], are not allowed to fraternize with Germans. This is perfectly understandable, because it has always been on of the sore spots with men that the German soldier is a particularly tricky bastard. I have seen too much of his murderous fire turn into well acted humble submissiveness, on the theory that he had wrought as much destruction among us as possible. Then, before he himself could be harmed, he reasoned it best to capitulate. We are such darned fools about that utterly ridiculous fantasy having to do with "rules of war" that we have invariably welcomed the surrendering Hun, and seen him off to the rear and a place of safety. [sic: no ending quotation mark]
"This parable has its own striking eloquence when we consider that the Germans hustle off to safety and eat food from their captors, while we who survive intact, are left to labor on in the hostility created by their comrades. But, still and all, I cannot synchronize my mind with the idea that all Germans are essentially bad. [sic: no ending quotation mark]
"In the first place, as you well know, too much of the world's finest music has come out of Germany. There must be something here, besides political perversion. I imagine that it is unpatriotic for me to think so, but I like the individual German, especially those under the age of twelve, with whom we are permitted to fraternize. An amazingly large number of them has studied English. The thing which surprises me about their handling of the language is that, after only one or two years of elementary school study, they are able to carry on perfectly sensible conversations."
(Continued Next Week)