This morning the fabulous @history_pics tweeted a picture of an extraordinary letter. Many thanks to them for this incredible insight.
Of course, many people wrote to Hitler. With hindsight, asking him to call off the dogs was a singularly pointless exercise.
But perhaps it just needed to be said.
And Ghandi said it. In a letter to Adolf Hitler in July 1939, Mahatma Ghandi explained he must make an appeal: for whatever it may be worth. But has history shown it to be worthless?
It is a seminal phrase: “It is quite clear,” he wrote, “that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to the savage state.” He asks Hitler whether he is willing to pay this, in Ghandi’s eyes the ultimate and most terrible price.
But you see, Brother Ghandi, Hitler mechanised the savage state.
He made a production line – or perhaps we should call it a destruction line – to do the most savage acts possible. He even automated death and its precedents.
So was it pointless, a foolish move, to put a plea in the way of a monster incapable of mercy?
I’d argue not. Perhaps this had to be said. Even the monstrous need to watch the barriers as they pass them, if only so they will understand what they scorned when they arrive at the gates of the underworld.
We accord every human being the right to avert the savage state.
And this letter is testament to that.