BETWEEN THE IRON AND THE ICE CURTAIN
AN ADDRESS BY
ROBERT W. KEYSERLINGK PRESIDENT, CAMPION PRESS LIMITED
Chairman: First Vice-President, Mr. SYDNEY HERMANT
Thursday, November 10th, 1949
Members and Guests of The Empire Club of Canada We are to hear an Address today by Mr. Robert W. Keyserlingk, President and Managing Director of the Campion Press Limited in Montreal, and former General Manager and Managing Editor of the British United Press.
He was born in St. Petersburg, son of Count Henry Keyserlingk, Commander in the Imperial Russian Navy. When his father was transferred from the Baltic to the Pacific Fleet during the Great War the family moved to Vladivostok. When the Russian Revolution broke out they fled to Japan. Mr. Keyserlingk attended the St. Joseph's College at Yokohama, and the Canadian Academy at Kobe. Later he lived in China. He came to Canada in 1925 and graduated from the University of British Columbia in Political Science.
For eight years Mr. Keyserlingk was foreign correspondent for the British United Press and the United Press in various European Capitals spending four years as General European Manager with headquarters in London, England.
Mr. Keyserlingk is presently publishing The Ensign, a weekly newspaper, complimentary copies of which will be available to Members and Guests of the Club at the end of this meeting. His latest book "Unfinished History" published by Messrs. Robert Hale of London, England, is receiving wide acclaim.
Recently returned from an extended trip throughout Europe, Mr. Keyserlingk will now address us on the subject "Between the Iron and the Ice Curtains"--Mr. Keyserlingk.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: When, about eighteen months ago, I had the privilege of addressing this Club I was discussing certain problems which were facing us at the time and which now have found at least a temporary solution. At that time, we were looking at the world largely consisting of three different spheres. There was the free world, in which Canada held a privileged position. There was an inbetween, world, an area for which both the free world and the world of Communist domination were putting in a bid, one for liberty, the other for slavery. Thirdly, there was the ever vaster Red Empire.
Today I am afraid we have to say that the three have become two, for what was at that time still an area across which the influences of both ideologies, the economic and political influences and attractions, were able to compete, has more or less disappeared. If we look to Europe, we will find that a large number of millions have lost their freedom, and the Iron Curtain has become in every sense a separation.
It is true that in those days there were also certain countries whose future was indefinite. I am referring particularly to countries like Italy, to countries like France, where political divisions were threatening any movement, any attempts at establishment of democratic government. The decision by vote of their people have ranged them alongside the few remaining countries of the Free Western World.
On the other hand, the losses have also been great. The fate of Czechoslovakia and Hungary has been sealed, and what is far more important, in size, in influence, and in its future potentialities, is the fact that that vast subcontinent of China has also to be counted for an additional 400 million people have today the Iron Curtain, which first stretched across Europe, also stretched for them along the coast of the Pacific.
I mentioned in the title "The Ice Curtain." We have moved ahead rapidly in Air Transport. Both commercial as well as military aviation have increased their developments, have made great strides. That has obviously made the Northland ever more important. We have all seen projections of new maps, new as against the maps that you and I saw in our school days. Across Canada's north, and across the Arctic the route to the Orient, and the route to Europe have been shortened both in miles and also by much more favorable flying weather in time.
We have in Canada the home of some international aviation organizations. The emphasis in their studies in meteorological observations in the Northland is natural, but it is greatly hampered. We have actually stretching across the Arctic a veritable ice curtain, which is impenetrable.
We know, largely by hearsay, some of it may be by intelligence, that Soviet Russia has made tremendous strides in the development of Northern Siberia. Going right back to the early 30's, we remember the name of a man like Professor Schmidt, of the Soviet Meteorological Service. They have been making great strides. Some of their projects have studded the path with misery and suffering. The fate of the people of the Baltic States was sealed when Soviet Russia occupied them after the war, but what has happened to these people since is only partly known. The details will may be not be known for a long time, but it is safe to take this part of their fate as factual information. The policy pursued by the Soviet State of defending itself against infiltration of ideas, against the dangers of our freedom being known by their people, have led to a depopulation policy which goes back to the ages of savagery for a precedent. Millions of people have been deported from countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, even from Poland. They have been sent as forced "colonists" into the northern regions, where, thanks to their hardy physiques but mainly because of the terror which drove them, they are supposed to be opening up and settling in the regions along the Rivers Ob, Yeniner, Lena and Kolyma. There has been a shift of population up into that Siberian Northland. At the same time from the strategic point of view it has given military preparations there a certain human hinterland.
The fact that the North is attracting attention on both sides is known to all of us. But it is important to note that it has certainly moved Canada into a very special position. We might be separated from the actual iron curtain, be it by the Pacific Ocean, or be it by the intermediary countries of Europe from the Iberian Peninsula through to the middle of Germany. But along the ice curtain we are Soviet Russia's closest riparian. That has created a position for Canada from the purely military point of view which places us on the shortest route between Moscow and Washington.
The North has a very special significance, for it is known that weather conditions are best for flying, clear weather is more frequent, the various atmospheric disturbances of the more moderate moister zones in the Northern climates do not exist.
We can think back to the time of the war when great activity was developed not only by our side but also by the Germans in trying to place meterological observation posts in the North. Thanks to the planning and to the ability of our Military Command it was possible for us to determine, by having our posts in the northland, the weather in Berlin before bombing forays and long before even the Germans would know what their own weather would be tomorrow. In other words, the North land also has the added importance of being the place where weather is determined for the weather man.
In any case, in distance, as well as due to the meteorological possibilities and because of flying having become so important, Canada's northern boundary is one which is attracting increasing interest, not only on our part, but also on the part of others. I think it is therefore safe to say that Canada finds herself today placed in a position as exposed in the preservation of her liberties as any of the countries in the world.
We have made tremendeous strides in the responsibilities which have been placed on Canada's shoulders in the international field. The activities of Canada's dele gates at international conferences, the economic assistance and participation of Canada has been increased. Also the military co-operation of Canada, both through the Atlantic Pact as well as through separate agreements and arrangements in mutual defence between the United States and Canada have made the actual area of Canada a strategic area in more than one respect.
Those are the physical aspects, or let us say, the geographic aspects of the situation. The last eighteen months have changed things considerably, for as I said before, in those days we had political buffer countries, or areas between the East and West. The buffers have disappeared.
In many of those areas the final decisions have not yet come. I had an opportunity before coming here today, thanks to the excellent system of your Club of keeping records of what speakers said, to look at some of the problems which I had the opportunity of discussing with you eighteen months ago. We were looking forward at that time to the decision to settle some of the European problems in the form of a peace treaty with Germany, a peace treaty with Austria and certain changes in the status of India.
There is no peace treaty with our former enemies yet, but in the meantime while the old difficulties of war have not yet been settled, new ones have appeared. If one only thinks of the international conferences, and tries to abstract an idea of a general trend, I think it does not take any undue pessimism or cynicism to say that what had been hardly friendly eighteen months ago has today flared up in open antagonism between the two sides.
And here I would like to refer to a most ominous statement which I think came out of Moscow on the occasion of their 30th anniversary of the Revolution when no less a person than Mr. Malenkov stands up and declares that a 3rd world war would mean the destruction of our Western Society. If one reads this in context with the party line which has always been adhered to as proclaimed by Lenin and reiterated only recently in the statement and in the works of Stalin, which were published in 18 volumes during the last few months, one learns that the coexistence of our society and the Communist regime is impossible. For Communists it is axiomatic that either the one or the other will survive. Turning back to Mr. Malenkov's statement,--what will destroy our Society? It is not a question in geometry or a question in dialectics, but in logic to draw a conclusion and to find the explanation for so much of what has been happening for Soviet policy and for so much that has been inspiring their moves in the past.
We are finding ourselves divided into two camps. It is a division which, until a little while ago, many people were inclined to attribute largely to the fact that there may be some means not yet exhausted to make the Soviet feel that we are all good fellows and that we should be working together. It is a curious thing that one American Ambassador after another went on special missions of friendship and goodwill to Moscow, returns to write his Memoirs-. There is one of them which is being published now by General Bedell Smith. They all seem to be a series of studies in frustration. Somehow the surprise which some of them have expressed in the failures of their missions is a surprise which I think they could have saved themselves if they would have, some time earlier, devoted a little time to studying the philosophy and the thoughts and what we often forget, the convictions, of the Communists themselves. In other words, it is not merely a matter of our smiling at them, to make them change their mind. The Soviets also have very definite ideas. They have very definite plans, and sometimes they work at them with an energy and persistence which is not always quite as intense on our side in the defence of that which they would like to destroy.
Just as a quarrel takes two people, so I am afraid that in friendship; it is not all a question of us giving, and their being willing to take it on our terms.
The battle is a little more complicated. In a way it is the most complicated one which we have had to face in political development through, I would almost venture to say, the centuries. In the rise to aggressive military power of a predecessor of Mr. Stalin, namely Mr. Hitler, we had a great number of similar ideas of the supremacy of the State expressed and proclaimed. They were studied and analyzed and put into text books, and driven into the heads of the young. The people who did not accept them were killed and politically exterminated. But there was one handicap which Mr. Hitler put upon himself at the beginning, which was one of the things which helped us a great deal. He injected that spurious and damnable race theory which, while causing so much suffering and destruction, also bore in it the very seeds of his own destruction. In order to spread his rule over the world he limited himself to the assistance and aid of those who were allegedly of the same race and blood and language. Consequently he gave up all possible chances of really spreading his teaching beyond the limits of only a certain people or group of people.
With Communism these limitations do not exist, and the weapons which they have employed have not been the weapons of modern warfare: they have used them only in the clearing-out process. It did not take Soviet divisions to kill the liberty and the freedom of the people of Czechoslovakia, or of Hungary, or of Roumania, or of Jugoslavia, or the Baltic States. It is true that some of the things were the immediate after-effects of the war, when the Red Armies were still pursuing the enemy, but I am taking into consideration the great and far more important military successes of the Soviets after the war. They were successes achieved once they had undermined the fibre of those whom they conquered. Their methods of military infiltration were not always the direct ones of proselytizing; very largely it was a matter of spreading economic defeatism, of undermining the faith and the hope and the belief of the people. So when they had destroyed the fibre, the morale, the spirit and the psychological fibre of the people, they could then enslave the body. The will to resist is their greatest enemy, and the will to resist can not be supplied by or substituted by planes and tanks, or even atom bombs.
In all our discussion of defence, there is one great danger, there is a lesson of history which is still so recent that it should not be forgotten-I am thinking of the mentality of the Maginot line, which France today can regret with good reason. France had her defences, she also had military strength, but the Communists had prepared the way for the Germans by sapping the strength and sapping the conviction, and also destroying the love of country in many Frenchmen. So when we look back at armament against armament, of France against Germany, results for France were not only sad but sudden. We must remember that, to use a definition that a very good friend of mine once used, the object of all war is in the final analysis to work your will upon the victim or the vanquished. And if you want to do that, you must first destroy his will to resist, and whether you do it through bombardment, or whether you do it through an insidious propaganda, the main thing must be remembered, and that is what you really set out to do.
And here I would like to touch on that one point which I consider at the present moment as most important. That is that in our defence, which needs must be military, and may be even far more military than it is today, the real strength lies in what we have to put up against the spurious siren's song which Moscow is able to sing, not in one tune of INTERNATIONALE but in many a tune. When we see that we had in the last few months, within those eighteen months since I was here last, such spectacles as the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty, it is to the credit of all of us that the real purpose of it was so easily seen by the press of the world and by the people of all denominations. It was a challenge to a basic concept of the West of "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's"; and it was on that point that the battle was fought. It is the question of the supremacy of the State over all of the thinking and wishing, and all ambitions of individuals.
It is the question whether the individual is but a material being, a cog in the large totalitarian collectivism, or whether with his freedoms and liberties he could look to the State to help him to live his life as decided in the final analysis by individual conviction and conscience.
In this struggle, which is being aggravated today, which is coming closer and closer to Canada, that makes our own position even more and more important. Whether it is the Protestant pastors in Bulgaria, the persecutions in Hungary, or the persecutions which are now being started in China, it is difficult to bring in their relationship to Canada in the minds of many readers. This is because it is not always possible to get a direct example, tying up the particular politics say of Bulgaria with the free and happy life which we are leading here. But sometimes things fall into a very obvious pattern. The way the forces of totalitarianism are moving, whether they are moving West across Europe or East across Asia, they are approaching us on either side. When we look upon our position of privilege, when we look upon the vastness of our continent and the richness of our country we see why we are coveted. I cannot help, even in reading about the tremendous wealth which is being opened up in our Western provinces, in Alberta oil gushing at an ever-increasing rate and giving us promise of a greater and brighter future, of the expansion of our economic and social and political horizons I can not help feeling that in the very privileges we have there is a certain ominous reminder. Across the iron curtain and across the ice curtain, which is even closer to us, there are people who see in us a challenge to their very way of life, and who feel that even if their tanks and planes do not need to fly, one of their objectives which they must ensure is that this challenge of freedom and privilege does not remain too long.
There is no reason why men cannot travel freely through the Soviet Union, from the point of military intelligence. Why is it that your Correspondents have to stay in Moscow and get special permission before they can even leave the narrow limits to which they are confined? It is not because the Soviet Union, in all its vastness, is afraid of these men spying and telling things which might be dangerous. The reason to my mind is very simple: it is the same reason why the Voice of America is being stopped; it is the same reason why our books and publications can not come in freely. It is the fear that we will be seen by their people. If a slave of capitalist western countries, which is what a journalist working for publications on this side is called, should arrive fairly well fed, fairly well dressed, with such gadgets as a fountain pen and wrist watch and other things which have been much desired by those who came out of the Soviet Union during the time when Red armies over-ran parts of Europe, if those things are common amongst the people of the West, it might set their own people thinking
It is the exclusion of knowledge of the West which is one of their great defences, and it is exclusion of knowledge or having friends amongst our own people, which is one of the greatest defence weapons utilized. We are in a vulnerable position today. We hold a position in which our greatest danger might not be whether Soviet Russia has the atom bomb or whether Soviet Russia has not. Any lessening on the part of our people to feel that what they have is great, or that that which they hold must be held at all costs, and that it is all anchored in our faith and our belief, because we are a part of a Christian civilization is our greatest danger. It has endowed us with privileges but also with obligations. It is worth defending; unless that is held very widely, the dangers of a "Maginot complex", which in itself is as materialistic as Communism itself, because it relies merely on the machine then we are in danger. Materialism disdains the individual not only by robbing him of his rights but by counting him merely as a functional unit. Unless we can throw against that philosophy, our conviction, we are in danger.--Many men not only in Soviet Russia but many men right here in this city are willing to lead lives of comparative poverty, with burning devotion to their cause making sacrifices which they make willingly to further Communism.--Unless we can throw against it the same conviction in our freedoms and liberties, I am afraid that the Maginot line of France is a story which might have parallels in future history.
Canada, between the iron curtain and the ice curtain, is today a country which is no longer able to look upon events as distant and as happening far away. We have become a border nation amongst the few remaining free ones. Whilst we stress the military and material privileges we hold, it is also in the realm of the spirit, in the realm, of thought that we are attacked. If the very soul of man is attacked as Communism is attacking it, as Communism has attacked it in the person of Cardinal Mindzsenty, in the person of Archbishop Stepinac, in the trials in Bulgaria of Christian representatives of various denominations, if they are attacking the soul, let us learn from them. They realize that the values of the spirit of our own people are the things which are our greatest defence. When we read of events abroad today, let us think, it is that the first attack Communism makes is in the subversion of the young, the subversion of the schools, the suppression of religion. It is because they realize that that is where their greatest enemy lies, and that that by the same token, is our greatest strength.