FIVE years ago "pure" or Christian pacifism flourished in the sheltered environment of New Zealand. The Geneva representative of the Dominion's Labor Government voted with Litvinov against Eden. In Australia, the government was conservative, but the important trades unions went on record as opposed to sending troops overseas under any circumstances. They argued particularly that every man would be needed at home to ward off invaders. And yet both extremes of opinion in each Dominion were consistently critical of the Chamberlain policy of appeasement, and hotly anxious for Czechoslovakia.
The fact was that Australians and New Zealanders did not consider, until the last moment, that there would be a war. Hitler seemed to have everything against him. Like so many others, these isolated peoples consistently underrated the European menace. But their revulsion of opinion was no less complete when Hitler did go to war.
The expressions of united loyalty and full support by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and by the opposition parties, when Britain declared war against Germany in September 1939, were only qualified by the stipulation that "there must be no second Munich, and the present crisis must at all costs end crises" -- to quote a leading newspaper. The volte face was complete. Everyone knew that if Hitler were not stopped, there would be an end to everything, including the British export market and the protective arm of the Fleet. It was a simple matter of self-defense, with no 1914 shouts of "Good Old England" or "Advance Australia."
Perhaps some Australians and New Zealanders, representative of vested interests, remembered that the First German War had greatly stimulated local industries and calculated that another one might mean more profits for farmers and manufacturers. When war broke out New Zealand was financially embarrassed by the expensive schemes of social reform introduced by her Labor Government, and was heading for an economic crisis. Both Dominions were finding it increasingly difficult to meet interest charges on their London debts. The war, some
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