Asserting that American troops must be sent to the aid of England if necessary, President Conant, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that there is no doubt in his mind that "the Axis powers must be defeated."
President Conant's testimony yesterday represents the culmination of a series of speeches and statements since the outbreak of war, in which he has always demonstrated himself to be one of the leading figures in favor of all-out aid to Britain.
The philosophy of the Nazi state denies all premises of our American state," Conant declared. "The argument today between two groups of loyal, sincere American citizens seems to me to come down to this diagnosis of the Nazi state. If those of my belief are wrong, not only this bill but any aid to England is unnecessary. If those of my belief are right, our only hope as a free people lies in a defeat of the Axis powers."
No Peace by Revolution
In opposition to those who favor a negotiated peace now, Conant said, There can be no peace with a type of revolution which is founded on a doctrine bitterly hostile to our own, implemented with military might, and grown great with conquest."
Asked by Senator Reynolds as to how long American soldiers should fight abroad if they were sent, Conant replied, "I would like to see the Axis powers made so innocuous that they could not continue to threaten us as they are threatening us now."
Conant's opposition to Germany was first expressed in 1934 when he refused the offer of a scholarship from Ernest F. S. Hanfstaengl '09, then-time high Nazi official and close buddy of Hitler. In a public letter to him, President Conant said, "We are unwilling to accept a gift from one who has been so closely associated with the leadership of a political party which has inflicted damage on the universities of Germany."
With the outbreak of the war, President Conant publicly added political to his academic dislike of Germany. In a chapel talk on September 26, 1939, he said that a peace based on bitterness and hate would be the "final disaster" of civilization, but urged Americans to "recall their minds to the tasks at home."
A week later, on October 4, he endorsed the repeal of the arms embargo in a public letter to Landon. He flatly stated that his beliefs were not those of war-mongers, and added. "The question is, is it to the long-run advantage of the United States to sell these arms or not. The question is not shall we declare war."
Speak for White Committee
The following spring, speaking for the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, he advocated the removal of red tape in aid to England. In June he was named honorary chairman for the Massachusets branch of that committee.
In his chapel talk this fall, he said, "War is not the worst possibility we face; the worst is the complete triumph of totalitarianism, and at the moment it is sufficiently real to warrant every man's most earnest consideration."
On November 2, President Conant made another speech for the William Allen White Committee, but this time he dropped the "short of war" stand which had characterized their previous statements. "Direct naval and military assistance" to Britain is only a "matter of strategy," he said.
During Christmas vacation he was one of the leaders in the sending of two round-robin telegrams to President Roosevelt. These message urged all-out aid, and asked Roosevelt to do everything necessary to defeat the Axis powers.
In his most recent speech, on January 15, he approved of a policy of full aid to Britain "without representation" before the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce. His testimony yesterday marks the final Phase in his advocacy of all possible aid to Britain.