00 / 00

Gordon Zahn talks with Studs Terkel

BROADCAST: 1970 | DURATION: 00:48:42

Synopsis

Terkel interviews Gordon Zahn about war and peace.

Transcript

Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.

OK

Studs Terkel War, conscience and dissent, if not on the lips of people, certainly in the minds of people, even those who seemingly are not thinking about it, it's within, the nature of the times in which we live and the role an individual plays and an individual in relation to the society in which he lives, and the matter of conscience. Gordon Zahn is our guest, the distinguished sociologist. I say Catholic sociologist merely to describe him because, in a sense, this is one of the subtexts of his remarkable book. This is a book of essays, papers in the past. You remember Mr. Zahn, Dr. Zahn was our guest some time ago. He did research and came through with a remarkable book dealing with one of the unsung heroes of our century, a man named Franz Jagerstatter, an unlettered Austrian peasant who said "No" to Hitler. The book, you recall, was called "In Solitary Witness", those two, three words mean something. "In Solitary Witness", the martyrdom of Franz Jagerstatter, and Mr. Zahn, Gordon Zahn is here now, our guest, and we ask about this book, "War, Conscience and Dissent", and the first question is--it's published by Hawthorn--first question is, even though some of these are lectures you've given, and papers you've written in years past, why now the collection?

Gordon Zahn Well, actually, I suppose we can get to a rather mundane explanation at the beginning. A friend of mine who is connected with the publisher suggested that I do something like this, and while I was in England awaiting clearance from the Royal Air Force to interview RAF chaplains, I gave some more thought to it and managed to gather together the various papers that went into it. I had some misgivings about the idea. You know, a collection of papers never really strikes me as much of a book. And then, too, I'm not too sure that this is completely au courant. I'm afraid that some of these youngsters who are now giving voice to their conscience on the subject of war and presenting their dissent in more activist manner will probably find it a rather dull, probably even a conservative presentation [of some things?].

Studs Terkel I wonder because what you say in a sense, some of your talks and papers were so prophetic they fit now. Before that, you mentioned something about clearance from the Royal Air Force for interviewing RAF chaplains. There's a project you're working on, isn't it? The chaplains and war, God

Gordon Zahn Well, I call it "Pastors in Uniform", like "Matron in Uniform". I figure might just as well work on something like that. It's a study of the military chaplaincy as a role in tension, being an official of the ecclesiastical establishment and at the same time of the military establishment, what problems arise for these men and how are they likely to resolve them. That's the project I was working on. So, this is sort of a, it wasn't just thrown together. I mean, it did involve some selection and so forth, and actually I'm quite pleased that

Studs Terkel Will one day your chaplain work be ready?

Gordon Zahn I hope so. The first draft is ready, now I have to rewrite it.

Studs Terkel Of course, it's connected, isn't it? Connected to the matter of religion, God, and war. And this, obviously, is a theme, the theme of your collection of essays here, "War, Conscience and Dissent". Where do we begin? We begin with individual responsibility. This is your theme throughout, isn't it? Someone says, "I do it because my country says so." This is what Eichmann said.

Gordon Zahn This would be the objection I have to far too much--our present mood of willingness to accept almost anything, particularly, you know, if it involves questions of national security and war. This idea of politics ending at the water's edge in something. The churches, I think, and this I feel, that the Catholic Church has been quite as responsible in this as any of them, have also made it, sort of, morality ends at the water's edge. You know, you don't let moral questions intervene or something. So all along I've taken the position that the individual does have a moral responsibility to determine for himself the rightness or wrongness of that which he is asked to do. And if he thinks it's wrong, then to refuse to do it. If he comes to a commitment that it's all right, or that it's a thing he wants to do, then he's under the same kind of responsibility to go ahead and do it.

Studs Terkel As you're talking, Gordon, I'm thinking, you mentioned here somewhere in your work "War, Conscience and Dissent", the nature of saints and martyrs, those who were canonized, yet in their day they would have, [or were they alive today?], they'd have been called troublemakers, extremists.

Gordon Zahn I'm sure. Yes. What's really even behind this notion of individual responsibility, I think, is a reawakening or a new stress that's being today put on the notion of the church, the churches, the Christian churches in particular being called to prophetic witness. You know, this type of thing, saying the saving word for the time, being relevant, and not only being relevant in the sense of having nice soft sermons praising things that are going on at the time, but being prepared to take a stand against these things. We've seen the failures to be a truly effective prophetic witness in such a thing as race relations. It's crumbling about us now. An even greater failure, I think, is a whole question of war largely because it seems, it's on so much of a broader scale actually. And I'm very happy to say now that there is a greater stress. I just attended a four-day conference of the International Conference of Sociologists of Religion, principally Catholic priests, the largest group there, and the--every single paper, every single discussion of every single paper got back to this whole question of the prophetic mission of the church and the prophetic mission of the believer, and this, I think, is something that's

Studs Terkel And one of the developments today, particularly as you see it, you are inside itself, you, Gordon Zahn, something quite remarkable is happening, isn't it, the institution as such altering somewhat since John. "[Latin]." Since Vatican II. At the same time, we have a laggardly quality because of the centuries of acceptance. You have two things at work, don't you?

Gordon Zahn Oh, yes.

Studs Terkel And at same time you have the people on the street for so many years accepting and questioning, say, a militant, indeed, challenging young pastor.

Gordon Zahn Yes. You have this situation in Milwaukee, for example, where I have spent the summer. Milwaukee's Catholics are divided, and I would assume that the majority of them wish Father Groppi would dry up and go away.

Studs Terkel Father Groppi, perhaps you might say a word about him.

Gordon Zahn Well, he's a young assistant pastor at one of the churches, it's originally an old German Catholic church, but it is now in the inner core area, and he's become the leader of the NAACP Youth Council and has organized picketing against the Eagles Club because of the racial exclusive policies and also has picketed aldermen who voted against open housing and something like this. And he's a very bombastic speaker. I have some points of difference about his handling of certain situations myself, but I certainly am grateful that he's there and I wish we had a dozen more in Milwaukee.

Studs Terkel Here's a case then of someone who in his own way bears personal witness.

Gordon Zahn Yes.

Studs Terkel Not solitary a witness.

Gordon Zahn Personal and prophetic. And as a result he has earned all sorts of displeasure and opposition on the part of the people, but he had to do it and it's right that he'd do it. And I was quite pleased to see that the archbishop apparently is perfectly willing for him to go ahead doing what he's doing.

Studs Terkel Obviously this theme of war and race relations and man on man are related, and it is war that is the basic theme, war and attitude toward it by religious people, by religions, by individuals, a theme of all your essays and talks here in "War, Conscience and Dissent".

Gordon Zahn Yes, I feel that all that goes to make up what we would call the genius or the spirit of war is absolutely irreconcilable with everything that we ordinarily take to go together and make up what we call the genius or spirit of Christianity. And it seems to me then that it's, well, it's a terrible tragedy to find that throughout the centuries at least since the conversion of Constantine the churches have been ignoring or covering over this irreconcilable gulf.

Studs Terkel Since you say since the churches of Constantine, in one of your talks in this book, in one of your papers you mention C. Wright Mills' pagan sermon and this makes us sort of re-evaluate or use the phrase "Judeo-Christian ethic," we better start re-evaluating exactly what it means. Literally, it's not what we think it

Gordon Zahn Yes. I--a fellow sociologist read this first draft of my chaplains' book and his comment I thought was, he knocks out the entire basic premise of my whole work, which is that there is a tension involved in this past--in this chaplaincy role, you know. Because on the one hand he has his duties as a Christian clergyman, on the other hand he has his duties as a military officer, and he says the Christian churches have been the most--what is the word I want? You know, war-devoted churches in all of human history. This is a terrible indictment to make. I think it's a little bit of an overstatement too, probably, but it's true for a very great distance.

Studs Terkel But I'm thinking, too, in the Old as well as New Testament there's sometimes the sense of shock in what's now a fair fashionable phrase, "shock of recognition" when Joshua did fight the battle of Jericho, he's a pretty bloodthirsty guy.

Gordon Zahn Yes.

Studs Terkel I mean, so we come to the, we'd better reanalyze this Judeo-Christian ethic when we talk about it. Perhaps it needs a whole fresh look,

Gordon Zahn Well, I suppose there again they may reanalyze it and come out the way that I wouldn't approve of. But at least I think we have to address ourselves to these questions, to what extent are these actions compatible. I mean, I'm not happy with the answers that most my fellow Catholic friends give to this, you know, in the Old Testament there were wars, and they say but those wars were commanded by God for a specific purpose, therefore they don't count, that now it's, none of the recent wars have been commanded by God therefore we refuse to support them. This is the line one encounters quite frequently. I have my own answer to this, which is a little bit different I suppose. I think the new dispensation, the New Testament has certain basic differences from the Old at least in tone, and this is one of them, that it is no longer destroy your enemy, but it's now love your enemy.

Studs Terkel Which Mark Twain talked about in his war prayer, you remember his very bitter war prayer, Mark Twain, chaplain, urging the troops to kill them in the name of God. Now not only is it bitterly humorous, but now it becomes obsolete as well as obscene.

Gordon Zahn Oh, yes. I think

Studs Terkel Because of nuclear war. Now we come to the new development, this thing becomes wholly insane.

Gordon Zahn Yeah, and as I think I mentioned in the book, some of the European prelates are taking a lead in pointing out that with nuclear war as a possibility, the Christian theology can no longer be stretched to cover it or something. Since the book was written, Cardinal Alfrink of the Netherlands made a statement to the effect that the mere existence of nuclear weapons excludes the possibility of a just war, which I thought was a pretty interesting statement, but what was even more interesting is he made the speech to a gathering of Dutch military chaplains. Now, it's one thing for us now to begin recognizing that these two are irreconcilable. The next thing will be an even more difficult step of drawing a conclusion. Well, then if it is impossible to conceive of a just war, then you have to start preparing Christians to refuse to take any part of it, and you'll probably have to begin with the military chaplains if you're going to,

Studs Terkel This leads to so many questions and so many challenges, of course. You destroy here very, very effectively this myth of the double effect, war and its [unintelligible], the double effect of war, the good and evil. The good is fused with the evil. Somewhere here that old chestnut.

Gordon Zahn Yeah, the theological principle, I guess, is that their actions are sometimes a composition of consequences that you--an act that you commit may have good consequences and also bad consequences. And, so, we justify such things as the, let's say, the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in terms of the double effect: civilian bombings. That the good effect is the destruction of whatever military material or installations are present, and also beyond that the good effect of defeating the presumably unjust enemy. This is the good effect. The evil effect, the bad effect being the killing of innocent civilians. Now, the explanation is, then, as long as your intention is to will only the good effect, that the bad effect can be taken into account or something like this. I don't believe this is good even in terms of the old traditional distinction, because it always was that the good effect may not be the result of the bad effect, and I think wiping out a city in total today involves more than just--

Studs Terkel Of course, since the Hiroshima bombing several books have appeared that would indicate, particularly by Gar Alperovitz, brilliant young political scientist, that the decision was political rather than military. This is another theme. But you're also touching the bombing of Dresden, for that matter.

Gordon Zahn Oh yes, I think that that's every bit as much an atrocity as Hiroshima, and certainly is the atrocity of some of the bombings perpetrated by the Nazis. In fact, both of the latter two were greater atrocities if we speak in terms of actual damage and killings and injuries. But if we leave it at the low level of intent, I think they, the atrocities across the

Studs Terkel board-- It comes back to the theme, really, the key theme, the basic theme over and beyond religion, [well, it's with religion?], come to man himself, you know, with Hiroshima, with the nuclear age, we still hear military men talk, as you quote General Norstad talking about not hesitant to use nuclear weapons if need be, so then the question is, is man--you're asking for a whole change in man's viewpoint. You know, the old cliche he is self-destructive in nature, you know.

Gordon Zahn Well, yeah, let's say--I'm not asking for a change in basic human nature because I'm not willing to buy that this is human nature. This whole type of thing. But I think the most we can hope to do at the present time is to force a reconsideration of whether these old clichés really do hold, whether man is that much of a predatory animal as people insist, and, or as people take it for granted, they don't even bother to insist that he is, it's just, you know, it's war against the enemy, this type of thing. And I think we have to start questioning this, and I would feel that the churches have a particular responsibility to open the question, force the question, keep people reconsidering this, because after all, even if it were true that man in his nature is that bad, that much of a predatory animal, that much of a beast, we still claim that the difference between a baptized Christian, at least in a Christian Church which claims this, is that he has then been restored to something of a supernatural--

Studs Terkel Something beyond what he was.

Gordon Zahn Yeah, man has got all sorts of passions, man is also a pretty lusty animal. But we have the churches very strongly endorsing restraint in the satisfaction of sex appetites and things like

Studs Terkel Very often then, the one who, I think you make a point here. Very often the one, the shepherd who urges restraint against lust is silent on the matter of war.

Gordon Zahn I would say not only very often, I would say usually, I mean, and incidentally, getting back to the chaplains, this is sort of, I think this comes through rather neatly in some of the answers I got. As they define their role, they are pastors, but when they get to what we would call the moral guidance dimension of a pastor's role, you know, it all boils down to keeping them moral in terms of sex behavior or drinking or similar things like this. The mere possibility that they might have to raise questions about some order that's given to them or some military action that they must participate in or something like this, this is excluded from the chaplains' range of things that he was

Studs Terkel Or the killing of a stranger, a man you've never met, whom you don't know, the killing of this man or of a child, for that matter, by liquid fire, which might be called the torch of freedom. You know, that killing is never questioned

Gordon Zahn No. In fact, the mere impersonality of it in the guise, you know, this other person is wearing an alien uniform, or the child is part of an enemy population, and this sort of washes the board clean as far as actions against them. Once it becomes personified, you sometimes get the strangest answers. I think the last, or one of the last questions in my two-hour interview dealt with, what would this man as a chaplain had done if he had been a chaplain in the German army and one of the officers in the July 20th plot had come to him and asked him about the legitimacy of breaking, violating his military oath of obedience with the Fuhrer?

Studs Terkel The possible assassination

Gordon Zahn Yeah, you know, and a goodly number of them, I would say almost a third of the those who responded to this question, said, "Well, I would have to tell them not to do it. I can never, as a clergyman, I can never approve of killing." But you see, in this point, it's killing an individual.

Studs Terkel Says this man who was silent when it came to Auschwitz. Remarkable. When it came to the killing of Hitler, the individual, that was a wholly different point.

Gordon Zahn I think that tells us a lot about this impersonality of the war machine, of the two war machines.

Studs Terkel We're really talking about schizophrenia, aren't we, in a way? We're talking about a moral schizophrenia.

Gordon Zahn A moral schizophrenia, yes, I think this is a--

Studs Terkel Well, then who was the moral whole--we come to this remarkable man as a result of research and your own digging and detective work, a story of--became your other book, "In Solitary Witness", an unlettered Austrian peasant named Franz Jagerstatter. How come? This man, all by himself, this is the question.

Gordon Zahn Well, I suppose we'd say--

Studs Terkel He said "No" and he was

Gordon Zahn I imagine if some people were honest they'd say that, you know, just because he was unlettered, was unsophisticated in the ways of theology, that he might have been, he might have governed his actions by too superficial a reading of his responsibilities as a Christian. I feel that in this case, superficial or not, his reading was the real reading. He was a prophetic witness at this particular time. But there are others, I think, who would say that it was a great thing that he did, but he didn't really have to do it. You know, that it would have been all right for him

Studs Terkel He was the non-schizophrenic man. He was the man in this whole village, Sankt Radegund, you compare him with Thomas More, the hero of the "Man for All Seasons", Thomas More, both said "No." But what's more remarkable about Jagerstatter, More after all was learned, was a scholar, and there were, he had some allies. There were some people behind him, even though he was ultimately alone. Jagerstatter hadn't the vaguest idea, did he, anybody would back

Gordon Zahn That would be true, I mean, and certainly even if More hadn't had allies, he was known, he was a big figure in England. This guy was known in his village, but this was all, I mean, popular guy in his village. But outside of this, nothing, and he knew then that nobody would pay any attention to what he was doing.

Studs Terkel The book we're referring to is "In Solitary Witness" by our guest Gordon Zahn, the martyrdom of Franz Jagerstatter, a book that appeared before the one we're talking about now, "War, Conscience and Dissent", in which this unlettered Austrian peasant come the same locale as Hitler and Eichmann, same region, said "This is un-Christian." No, every force was used to make him bend. Everything! Everything, and he said "No" until they killed him.

Gordon Zahn And he kept holding to this. This is the remarkable thing, and it's come out in German now, and I have had a couple of letters from Mrs. Jagerstatter, in fact, I thought I had a Jackie Kennedy problem. She read the proofs of the thing, I didn't hear from her for about six weeks, and I was somewhat worried about the fact that I use so many of his letters from prison to her that maybe she didn't like these being released as much as that, but it seemed to me her only objection to the book when she finally got around to it was that I repeated all of what she called "these silly fairytales" that people told me about him praying in the fields and things like that. So even she is taken, she's aware of the fact that her fellow Radegunders, all of them Catholic, write him off as a religious fanatic, someone who did much more than any sensible Christian would have had to do at that time, and therefore she's worried about including things that could seem to present him as a religious fanatic.

Studs Terkel Could we dwell on this for a moment? Here we have a remarkable case, Franz Jagerstatter, certainly one of the heroes of the century, who says "No" to the most devastating force of its time, Nazism to Hitler. Just an unlettered Austrian farmer, says "No." Now, you would think, what are the comments of the villagers today as his name comes up or is remembered at times at Sankt Radegund in Austria. What do they think of him now?

Gordon Zahn Most of them think he was a little nuts, as we would put it, a little off, carried off by too much religion, religious excess and something of this nature. The--I gather this may well be more of a prevailing idea outside of the village as well. The German reviews I've seen have been quite disappointing in that they are just little two-paragraph summaries of his story, stressing all the pietistic overtones, but not really getting to the gut question that the book is supposed to deal with. The best review I've seen appeared in an East German publication, the Catholic magazine published in East Berlin, and they stress the fact that the importance of this story is the individual Christian taking a stand against the state. Now, you wouldn't expect this to be stressed in an East German publication, but I suppose they were able to do it because the state that he was standing against is one that Austria, you know--

Studs Terkel But this, can we come back, if we compare to West Germany for a moment, you would think, I'm thinking of "Der Spiegel", I'm thinking of a good paper like the Munich "Suddeutsche Zeitung", you know, that too, silence on Jagerstatter--

Gordon Zahn They may be late in sending me the reviews. This is true. I did see something in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" which was a fairly good review. I don't think "Der Spiegel" had anything on it, and I'm sure that if there had been any large-scale treatments in Austrian or German papers, they would have rushed it to me. I spoke to the publisher in May when I--no, June when I was in Vienna--and he was quite disappointed, too. In fact, there is a leading Catholic light, Friedrich Heer is planning to do an analysis of the lack of reaction to this.

Studs Terkel That'd be worth--that's a necessary--we're coming back to Gordon Zahn our guest and the book is divided, "War, Conscience, Dissent" into three parts: Modern War and the Christian, Conscience and the State, and the Church and Dissent, and this new aspect of nuclear war, total annihilation of man. A new development, too. You're saying possibly even a brute can be reached. You're implying here by non-violence. A brute can be reached one way or another.

Gordon Zahn Yes.

Studs Terkel But what about the new man? And is that cool value-free scientist a religious con, say?

Gordon Zahn I don't know if he can be reached. I assume that as long as he is a man ultimately he can be. There's--I think that we have to proceed on the assumption that men as men can be reached, and that our problem then is to be as effective as possible in breaking down whatever shell he has. If it's a shell of brutality, you know, well, in the past the church has been able to get its message through this type of thing. Now if it's a shell of what, I don't know how you would characterize this new non-involvement.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking about the man who says, "What I do is a scientific work, how it's used is of no matter," using, say, a Rand person, or a Hudson Institute person, or say, Herman Kahn is a nice pudgy example. You know.

Gordon Zahn Well, somehow you have to get through to these people. I think there are more and more of these detached scientists are becoming un-detached, if you may say, they are beginning to be concerned. I don't think it struck the Rand citadel yet, but you have economists now who are involving themselves in these protest movements. And you have pretty much the newer generation of academics seem to be swinging away from this complete "I do my job as a specialist"

Studs Terkel It comes back to the question then of responsibility, individual responsibility once again, to you, to me, to the individual. It comes back to that again,

Gordon Zahn Yes, it always gets back to this, and I think that this is what I mean in that part there in which I make the proposal that the church, and now I'm speaking not only of a given church but the religious institutions in society, have something of a function to perform in becoming sources of dissent. You know, that they're the only institution of society that is supposedly fixed to a set of values independent of that society. And as long as the society goes along with it, well, then it should be a force for conformity as it is because the two agree, but when that society goes away from it, then I think the church has to bring about social--

Studs Terkel This leads in naturally to this next theme. Gordon Zahn, Dr. Gordon Zahn, for so many years at Loyola University here, distinguished sociologist, Catholic, I say this because, again, this is the, you specifically touch on this aspect, though it could apply to any religious institution. Your comments about, even though it's several years past "The Deputy", Rolf Hochhuth's play, and the question of responsibility.

Gordon Zahn I would say that my backing of Hochhuth was to say, to the extent of saying that he was addressing himself to a valid historical problem, and as he stated the case, it had to be faced up to an answer. I think he overextended his argument by getting, you know, drawing a very unfavorable portrait of Pius XII and explaining his refusal to speak out in terms of personal weaknesses and so forth, and I think the second fatal weakness to Hochhuth's own thesis was this notion that if the Pope had spoken it would have made much of a difference. I don't think it would have. It probably would have done little more than to demonstrate to the church that it better get going, that if a pope could have come out and made some devastating criticism of the extermination program and the program would have gone on as I assume it would have, well, this would have once and for all shown the leaders of the church up to this point they've been going along--

Studs Terkel You're saying the silence itself was the sin.

Gordon Zahn Yeah.

Studs Terkel The silence was.

Gordon Zahn The silence was. Even if it had done no good, even if it hadn't saved any lives, I think here was a point in which something should be said. Now we have something of a parallel situation, I think, as far as American Catholics are concerned. Was on the 20th anniversary of Hiroshima, I believe, the Pope made some kind of a statement referring to it as an abominable massacre. Now you would think this would have called forth some kind of expression of opinion from the American hierarchy or from the American religious community, Catholic religious community, you know, some statement of sorrow, a mea culpa or something like this. As far as I know it hasn't in the least.

Studs Terkel So we come again. So we come again to old George Santayana. "If you forget the past," paraphrasing, "you are doomed to relive it in the future." We come to that. You know, there's a parallel to "The Deputy", you realize that Hochhuth wrote another play dealing with Churchill and the bombings in Dresden, that Olivier and Kenneth Tynan, who was the reader for the National Theater, wanted very much to do but they were vetoed.

Gordon Zahn No, I hadn't heard. I knew he was working on the Dresden/Churchill thing, but I thought this was another one of these things in progress that hadn't reached the point. Well, this is interesting.

Studs Terkel Vetoed by the Advisory Committee of Distinguished

Gordon Zahn I dare say it would be. I saw "The War Game", which still hasn't been shown on BBC Television.

Studs Terkel I'm going to put a little propaganda in here for the, if I can, editorial, of perhaps the most powerful film of this decade by Peter Watkins, the young BBC director, in which he reenacts with non-actors, takes a town, what happens when a nuclear attack hits a town. It was a town outside just almost a suburb of London, Kent, and an overwhelming thing that BBC banned.

Gordon Zahn Banned, yes indeed, they made it and they banned it.

Studs Terkel Now it will be seen in American theaters on occasion, but not

Gordon Zahn It's shown to selected groups over there, and your old friend and former visitor Archbishop Roberts seems to be traveling around speaking on the film whenever it's

Studs Terkel Since you mention Archbishop Roberts, the remarkable cleric Archbishop Roberts, who represents this whatever it is that Christianity in its most profound sense, Archbishop Roberts was formerly the Bishop of Bombay, he's Irish and he's had difficulty as I would gather, but what, where is he now? And he represents something quite new,

Gordon Zahn Yes. New for our time, but I imagine old in the history of the church. He is one of these irascible independent episcopal spokesmen that--

Studs Terkel You say episcopal.

Gordon Zahn

Studs Terkel War, conscience and dissent, if not on the lips of people, certainly in the minds of people, even those who seemingly are not thinking about it, it's within, the nature of the times in which we live and the role an individual plays and an individual in relation to the society in which he lives, and the matter of conscience. Gordon Zahn is our guest, the distinguished sociologist. I say Catholic sociologist merely to describe him because, in a sense, this is one of the subtexts of his remarkable book. This is a book of essays, papers in the past. You remember Mr. Zahn, Dr. Zahn was our guest some time ago. He did research and came through with a remarkable book dealing with one of the unsung heroes of our century, a man named Franz Jagerstatter, an unlettered Austrian peasant who said "No" to Hitler. The book, you recall, was called "In Solitary Witness", those two, three words mean something. "In Solitary Witness", the martyrdom of Franz Jagerstatter, and Mr. Zahn, Gordon Zahn is here now, our guest, and we ask about this book, "War, Conscience and Dissent", and the first question is--it's published by Hawthorn--first question is, even though some of these are lectures you've given, and papers you've written in years past, why now the collection? Well, actually, I suppose we can get to a rather mundane explanation at the beginning. A friend of mine who is connected with the publisher suggested that I do something like this, and while I was in England awaiting clearance from the Royal Air Force to interview RAF chaplains, I gave some more thought to it and managed to gather together the various papers that went into it. I had some misgivings about the idea. You know, a collection of papers never really strikes me as much of a book. And then, too, I'm not too sure that this is completely au courant. I'm afraid that some of these youngsters who are now giving voice to their conscience on the subject of war and presenting their dissent in more activist manner will probably find it a rather dull, probably even a conservative presentation [of some things?]. I wonder because what you say in a sense, some of your talks and papers were so prophetic they fit now. Before that, you mentioned something about clearance from the Royal Air Force for interviewing RAF chaplains. There's a project you're working on, isn't it? The chaplains and war, God and Well, I call it "Pastors in Uniform", like "Matron in Uniform". I figure might just as well work on something like that. It's a study of the military chaplaincy as a role in tension, being an official of the ecclesiastical establishment and at the same time of the military establishment, what problems arise for these men and how are they likely to resolve them. That's the project I was working on. So, this is sort of a, it wasn't just thrown together. I mean, it did involve some selection and so forth, and actually I'm quite pleased that it Will one day your chaplain work be ready? I hope so. The first draft is ready, now I have to rewrite it. Of course, it's connected, isn't it? Connected to the matter of religion, God, and war. And this, obviously, is a theme, the theme of your collection of essays here, "War, Conscience and Dissent". Where do we begin? We begin with individual responsibility. This is your theme throughout, isn't it? Someone says, "I do it because my country says so." This is what Eichmann said. This would be the objection I have to far too much--our present mood of willingness to accept almost anything, particularly, you know, if it involves questions of national security and war. This idea of politics ending at the water's edge in something. The churches, I think, and this I feel, that the Catholic Church has been quite as responsible in this as any of them, have also made it, sort of, morality ends at the water's edge. You know, you don't let moral questions intervene or something. So all along I've taken the position that the individual does have a moral responsibility to determine for himself the rightness or wrongness of that which he is asked to do. And if he thinks it's wrong, then to refuse to do it. If he comes to a commitment that it's all right, or that it's a thing he wants to do, then he's under the same kind of responsibility to go ahead and do it. As you're talking, Gordon, I'm thinking, you mentioned here somewhere in your work "War, Conscience and Dissent", the nature of saints and martyrs, those who were canonized, yet in their day they would have, [or were they alive today?], they'd have been called troublemakers, extremists. I'm sure. Yes. What's really even behind this notion of individual responsibility, I think, is a reawakening or a new stress that's being today put on the notion of the church, the churches, the Christian churches in particular being called to prophetic witness. You know, this type of thing, saying the saving word for the time, being relevant, and not only being relevant in the sense of having nice soft sermons praising things that are going on at the time, but being prepared to take a stand against these things. We've seen the failures to be a truly effective prophetic witness in such a thing as race relations. It's crumbling about us now. An even greater failure, I think, is a whole question of war largely because it seems, it's on so much of a broader scale actually. And I'm very happy to say now that there is a greater stress. I just attended a four-day conference of the International Conference of Sociologists of Religion, principally Catholic priests, the largest group there, and the--every single paper, every single discussion of every single paper got back to this whole question of the prophetic mission of the church and the prophetic mission of the believer, and this, I think, is something that's been-- And one of the developments today, particularly as you see it, you are inside itself, you, Gordon Zahn, something quite remarkable is happening, isn't it, the institution as such altering somewhat since John. "[Latin]." Since Vatican II. At the same time, we have a laggardly quality because of the centuries of acceptance. You have two things at work, don't you? Oh, yes. And at same time you have the people on the street for so many years accepting and questioning, say, a militant, indeed, challenging young pastor. Yes. You have this situation in Milwaukee, for example, where I have spent the summer. Milwaukee's Catholics are divided, and I would assume that the majority of them wish Father Groppi would dry up and go away. Father Groppi, perhaps you might say a word about him. Well, he's a young assistant pastor at one of the churches, it's originally an old German Catholic church, but it is now in the inner core area, and he's become the leader of the NAACP Youth Council and has organized picketing against the Eagles Club because of the racial exclusive policies and also has picketed aldermen who voted against open housing and something like this. And he's a very bombastic speaker. I have some points of difference about his handling of certain situations myself, but I certainly am grateful that he's there and I wish we had a dozen more in Milwaukee. Here's a case then of someone who in his own way bears personal witness. Yes. Not solitary a witness. Personal and prophetic. And as a result he has earned all sorts of displeasure and opposition on the part of the people, but he had to do it and it's right that he'd do it. And I was quite pleased to see that the archbishop apparently is perfectly willing for him to go ahead doing what he's doing. Obviously this theme of war and race relations and man on man are related, and it is war that is the basic theme, war and attitude toward it by religious people, by religions, by individuals, a theme of all your essays and talks here in "War, Conscience and Dissent". Yes, I feel that all that goes to make up what we would call the genius or the spirit of war is absolutely irreconcilable with everything that we ordinarily take to go together and make up what we call the genius or spirit of Christianity. And it seems to me then that it's, well, it's a terrible tragedy to find that throughout the centuries at least since the conversion of Constantine the churches have been ignoring or covering over this irreconcilable gulf. Since you say since the churches of Constantine, in one of your talks in this book, in one of your papers you mention C. Wright Mills' pagan sermon and this makes us sort of re-evaluate or use the phrase "Judeo-Christian ethic," we better start re-evaluating exactly what it means. Literally, it's not what we think it means. Yes. I--a fellow sociologist read this first draft of my chaplains' book and his comment I thought was, he knocks out the entire basic premise of my whole work, which is that there is a tension involved in this past--in this chaplaincy role, you know. Because on the one hand he has his duties as a Christian clergyman, on the other hand he has his duties as a military officer, and he says the Christian churches have been the most--what is the word I want? You know, war-devoted churches in all of human history. This is a terrible indictment to make. I think it's a little bit of an overstatement too, probably, but it's true for a very great distance. But I'm thinking, too, in the Old as well as New Testament there's sometimes the sense of shock in what's now a fair fashionable phrase, "shock of recognition" when Joshua did fight the battle of Jericho, he's a pretty bloodthirsty guy. Yes. I mean, so we come to the, we'd better reanalyze this Judeo-Christian ethic when we talk about it. Perhaps it needs a whole fresh look, doesn't Well, I suppose there again they may reanalyze it and come out the way that I wouldn't approve of. But at least I think we have to address ourselves to these questions, to what extent are these actions compatible. I mean, I'm not happy with the answers that most my fellow Catholic friends give to this, you know, in the Old Testament there were wars, and they say but those wars were commanded by God for a specific purpose, therefore they don't count, that now it's, none of the recent wars have been commanded by God therefore we refuse to support them. This is the line one encounters quite frequently. I have my own answer to this, which is a little bit different I suppose. I think the new dispensation, the New Testament has certain basic differences from the Old at least in tone, and this is one of them, that it is no longer destroy your enemy, but it's now love your enemy. Which Mark Twain talked about in his war prayer, you remember his very bitter war prayer, Mark Twain, chaplain, urging the troops to kill them in the name of God. Now not only is it bitterly humorous, but now it becomes obsolete as well as obscene. Oh, yes. I think it's-- Because of nuclear war. Now we come to the new development, this thing becomes wholly insane. Yeah, and as I think I mentioned in the book, some of the European prelates are taking a lead in pointing out that with nuclear war as a possibility, the Christian theology can no longer be stretched to cover it or something. Since the book was written, Cardinal Alfrink of the Netherlands made a statement to the effect that the mere existence of nuclear weapons excludes the possibility of a just war, which I thought was a pretty interesting statement, but what was even more interesting is he made the speech to a gathering of Dutch military chaplains. Now, it's one thing for us now to begin recognizing that these two are irreconcilable. The next thing will be an even more difficult step of drawing a conclusion. Well, then if it is impossible to conceive of a just war, then you have to start preparing Christians to refuse to take any part of it, and you'll probably have to begin with the military chaplains if you're going to, you This leads to so many questions and so many challenges, of course. You destroy here very, very effectively this myth of the double effect, war and its [unintelligible], the double effect of war, the good and evil. The good is fused with the evil. Somewhere here that old chestnut. Yeah, the theological principle, I guess, is that their actions are sometimes a composition of consequences that you--an act that you commit may have good consequences and also bad consequences. And, so, we justify such things as the, let's say, the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in terms of the double effect: civilian bombings. That the good effect is the destruction of whatever military material or installations are present, and also beyond that the good effect of defeating the presumably unjust enemy. This is the good effect. The evil effect, the bad effect being the killing of innocent civilians. Now, the explanation is, then, as long as your intention is to will only the good effect, that the bad effect can be taken into account or something like this. I don't believe this is good even in terms of the old traditional distinction, because it always was that the good effect may not be the result of the bad effect, and I think wiping out a city in total today involves more than just-- Of course, since the Hiroshima bombing several books have appeared that would indicate, particularly by Gar Alperovitz, brilliant young political scientist, that the decision was political rather than military. This is another theme. But you're also touching the bombing of Dresden, for that matter. Oh yes, I think that that's every bit as much an atrocity as Hiroshima, and certainly is the atrocity of some of the bombings perpetrated by the Nazis. In fact, both of the latter two were greater atrocities if we speak in terms of actual damage and killings and injuries. But if we leave it at the low level of intent, I think they, the atrocities across the board-- It comes back to the theme, really, the key theme, the basic theme over and beyond religion, [well, it's with religion?], come to man himself, you know, with Hiroshima, with the nuclear age, we still hear military men talk, as you quote General Norstad talking about not hesitant to use nuclear weapons if need be, so then the question is, is man--you're asking for a whole change in man's viewpoint. You know, the old cliche he is self-destructive in nature, you know. Well, yeah, let's say--I'm not asking for a change in basic human nature because I'm not willing to buy that this is human nature. This whole type of thing. But I think the most we can hope to do at the present time is to force a reconsideration of whether these old clichés really do hold, whether man is that much of a predatory animal as people insist, and, or as people take it for granted, they don't even bother to insist that he is, it's just, you know, it's war against the enemy, this type of thing. And I think we have to start questioning this, and I would feel that the churches have a particular responsibility to open the question, force the question, keep people reconsidering this, because after all, even if it were true that man in his nature is that bad, that much of a predatory animal, that much of a beast, we still claim that the difference between a baptized Christian, at least in a Christian Church which claims this, is that he has then been restored to something of a supernatural-- Something beyond what he was. Yeah, man has got all sorts of passions, man is also a pretty lusty animal. But we have the churches very strongly endorsing restraint in the satisfaction of sex appetites and things like this, Very often then, the one who, I think you make a point here. Very often the one, the shepherd who urges restraint against lust is silent on the matter of war. I would say not only very often, I would say usually, I mean, and incidentally, getting back to the chaplains, this is sort of, I think this comes through rather neatly in some of the answers I got. As they define their role, they are pastors, but when they get to what we would call the moral guidance dimension of a pastor's role, you know, it all boils down to keeping them moral in terms of sex behavior or drinking or similar things like this. The mere possibility that they might have to raise questions about some order that's given to them or some military action that they must participate in or something like this, this is excluded from the chaplains' range of things that he was supposed Or the killing of a stranger, a man you've never met, whom you don't know, the killing of this man or of a child, for that matter, by liquid fire, which might be called the torch of freedom. You know, that killing is never questioned as No. In fact, the mere impersonality of it in the guise, you know, this other person is wearing an alien uniform, or the child is part of an enemy population, and this sort of washes the board clean as far as actions against them. Once it becomes personified, you sometimes get the strangest answers. I think the last, or one of the last questions in my two-hour interview dealt with, what would this man as a chaplain had done if he had been a chaplain in the German army and one of the officers in the July 20th plot had come to him and asked him about the legitimacy of breaking, violating his military oath of obedience with the Fuhrer? The possible assassination of Yeah, you know, and a goodly number of them, I would say almost a third of the those who responded to this question, said, "Well, I would have to tell them not to do it. I can never, as a clergyman, I can never approve of killing." But you see, in this point, it's killing an individual. Says this man who was silent when it came to Auschwitz. Remarkable. When it came to the killing of Hitler, the individual, that was a wholly different point. I think that tells us a lot about this impersonality of the war machine, of the two war machines. We're really talking about schizophrenia, aren't we, in a way? We're talking about a moral schizophrenia. A moral schizophrenia, yes, I think this is a-- Well, then who was the moral whole--we come to this remarkable man as a result of research and your own digging and detective work, a story of--became your other book, "In Solitary Witness", an unlettered Austrian peasant named Franz Jagerstatter. How come? This man, all by himself, this is the question. Well, I suppose we'd say-- He said "No" and he was beheaded. I imagine if some people were honest they'd say that, you know, just because he was unlettered, was unsophisticated in the ways of theology, that he might have been, he might have governed his actions by too superficial a reading of his responsibilities as a Christian. I feel that in this case, superficial or not, his reading was the real reading. He was a prophetic witness at this particular time. But there are others, I think, who would say that it was a great thing that he did, but he didn't really have to do it. You know, that it would have been all right for him to He was the non-schizophrenic man. He was the man in this whole village, Sankt Radegund, you compare him with Thomas More, the hero of the "Man for All Seasons", Thomas More, both said "No." But what's more remarkable about Jagerstatter, More after all was learned, was a scholar, and there were, he had some allies. There were some people behind him, even though he was ultimately alone. Jagerstatter hadn't the vaguest idea, did he, anybody would back him? That would be true, I mean, and certainly even if More hadn't had allies, he was known, he was a big figure in England. This guy was known in his village, but this was all, I mean, popular guy in his village. But outside of this, nothing, and he knew then that nobody would pay any attention to what he was doing. The book we're referring to is "In Solitary Witness" by our guest Gordon Zahn, the martyrdom of Franz Jagerstatter, a book that appeared before the one we're talking about now, "War, Conscience and Dissent", in which this unlettered Austrian peasant come the same locale as Hitler and Eichmann, same region, said "This is un-Christian." No, every force was used to make him bend. Everything! Everything, and he said "No" until they killed him. And he kept holding to this. This is the remarkable thing, and it's come out in German now, and I have had a couple of letters from Mrs. Jagerstatter, in fact, I thought I had a Jackie Kennedy problem. She read the proofs of the thing, I didn't hear from her for about six weeks, and I was somewhat worried about the fact that I use so many of his letters from prison to her that maybe she didn't like these being released as much as that, but it seemed to me her only objection to the book when she finally got around to it was that I repeated all of what she called "these silly fairytales" that people told me about him praying in the fields and things like that. So even she is taken, she's aware of the fact that her fellow Radegunders, all of them Catholic, write him off as a religious fanatic, someone who did much more than any sensible Christian would have had to do at that time, and therefore she's worried about including things that could seem to present him as a religious fanatic. Could we dwell on this for a moment? Here we have a remarkable case, Franz Jagerstatter, certainly one of the heroes of the century, who says "No" to the most devastating force of its time, Nazism to Hitler. Just an unlettered Austrian farmer, says "No." Now, you would think, what are the comments of the villagers today as his name comes up or is remembered at times at Sankt Radegund in Austria. What do they think of him now? Most of them think he was a little nuts, as we would put it, a little off, carried off by too much religion, religious excess and something of this nature. The--I gather this may well be more of a prevailing idea outside of the village as well. The German reviews I've seen have been quite disappointing in that they are just little two-paragraph summaries of his story, stressing all the pietistic overtones, but not really getting to the gut question that the book is supposed to deal with. The best review I've seen appeared in an East German publication, the Catholic magazine published in East Berlin, and they stress the fact that the importance of this story is the individual Christian taking a stand against the state. Now, you wouldn't expect this to be stressed in an East German publication, but I suppose they were able to do it because the state that he was standing against is one that Austria, you know-- But this, can we come back, if we compare to West Germany for a moment, you would think, I'm thinking of "Der Spiegel", I'm thinking of a good paper like the Munich "Suddeutsche Zeitung", you know, that too, silence on Jagerstatter-- They may be late in sending me the reviews. This is true. I did see something in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" which was a fairly good review. I don't think "Der Spiegel" had anything on it, and I'm sure that if there had been any large-scale treatments in Austrian or German papers, they would have rushed it to me. I spoke to the publisher in May when I--no, June when I was in Vienna--and he was quite disappointed, too. In fact, there is a leading Catholic light, Friedrich Heer is planning to do an analysis of the lack of reaction to this. That'd be worth--that's a necessary--we're coming back to Gordon Zahn our guest and the book is divided, "War, Conscience, Dissent" into three parts: Modern War and the Christian, Conscience and the State, and the Church and Dissent, and this new aspect of nuclear war, total annihilation of man. A new development, too. You're saying possibly even a brute can be reached. You're implying here by non-violence. A brute can be reached one way or another. Yes. But what about the new man? And is that cool value-free scientist a religious con, say? I don't know if he can be reached. I assume that as long as he is a man ultimately he can be. There's--I think that we have to proceed on the assumption that men as men can be reached, and that our problem then is to be as effective as possible in breaking down whatever shell he has. If it's a shell of brutality, you know, well, in the past the church has been able to get its message through this type of thing. Now if it's a shell of what, I don't know how you would characterize this new non-involvement. I'm thinking about the man who says, "What I do is a scientific work, how it's used is of no matter," using, say, a Rand person, or a Hudson Institute person, or say, Herman Kahn is a nice pudgy example. You know. Well, somehow you have to get through to these people. I think there are more and more of these detached scientists are becoming un-detached, if you may say, they are beginning to be concerned. I don't think it struck the Rand citadel yet, but you have economists now who are involving themselves in these protest movements. And you have pretty much the newer generation of academics seem to be swinging away from this complete "I do my job as a specialist" and It comes back to the question then of responsibility, individual responsibility once again, to you, to me, to the individual. It comes back to that again, doesn't Yes, it always gets back to this, and I think that this is what I mean in that part there in which I make the proposal that the church, and now I'm speaking not only of a given church but the religious institutions in society, have something of a function to perform in becoming sources of dissent. You know, that they're the only institution of society that is supposedly fixed to a set of values independent of that society. And as long as the society goes along with it, well, then it should be a force for conformity as it is because the two agree, but when that society goes away from it, then I think the church has to bring about social-- This leads in naturally to this next theme. Gordon Zahn, Dr. Gordon Zahn, for so many years at Loyola University here, distinguished sociologist, Catholic, I say this because, again, this is the, you specifically touch on this aspect, though it could apply to any religious institution. Your comments about, even though it's several years past "The Deputy", Rolf Hochhuth's play, and the question of responsibility. I would say that my backing of Hochhuth was to say, to the extent of saying that he was addressing himself to a valid historical problem, and as he stated the case, it had to be faced up to an answer. I think he overextended his argument by getting, you know, drawing a very unfavorable portrait of Pius XII and explaining his refusal to speak out in terms of personal weaknesses and so forth, and I think the second fatal weakness to Hochhuth's own thesis was this notion that if the Pope had spoken it would have made much of a difference. I don't think it would have. It probably would have done little more than to demonstrate to the church that it better get going, that if a pope could have come out and made some devastating criticism of the extermination program and the program would have gone on as I assume it would have, well, this would have once and for all shown the leaders of the church up to this point they've been going along-- You're saying the silence itself was the sin. Yeah. The silence was. The silence was. Even if it had done no good, even if it hadn't saved any lives, I think here was a point in which something should be said. Now we have something of a parallel situation, I think, as far as American Catholics are concerned. Was on the 20th anniversary of Hiroshima, I believe, the Pope made some kind of a statement referring to it as an abominable massacre. Now you would think this would have called forth some kind of expression of opinion from the American hierarchy or from the American religious community, Catholic religious community, you know, some statement of sorrow, a mea culpa or something like this. As far as I know it hasn't in the least. So we come again. So we come again to old George Santayana. "If you forget the past," paraphrasing, "you are doomed to relive it in the future." We come to that. You know, there's a parallel to "The Deputy", you realize that Hochhuth wrote another play dealing with Churchill and the bombings in Dresden, that Olivier and Kenneth Tynan, who was the reader for the National Theater, wanted very much to do but they were vetoed. No, I hadn't heard. I knew he was working on the Dresden/Churchill thing, but I thought this was another one of these things in progress that hadn't reached the point. Well, this is interesting. Vetoed by the Advisory Committee of Distinguished I dare say it would be. I saw "The War Game", which still hasn't been shown on BBC Television. I'm going to put a little propaganda in here for the, if I can, editorial, of perhaps the most powerful film of this decade by Peter Watkins, the young BBC director, in which he reenacts with non-actors, takes a town, what happens when a nuclear attack hits a town. It was a town outside just almost a suburb of London, Kent, and an overwhelming thing that BBC banned. Banned, yes indeed, they made it and they banned it. Now it will be seen in American theaters on occasion, but not by It's shown to selected groups over there, and your old friend and former visitor Archbishop Roberts seems to be traveling around speaking on the film whenever it's shown. Since you mention Archbishop Roberts, the remarkable cleric Archbishop Roberts, who represents this whatever it is that Christianity in its most profound sense, Archbishop Roberts was formerly the Bishop of Bombay, he's Irish and he's had difficulty as I would gather, but what, where is he now? And he represents something quite new, doesn't Yes. New for our time, but I imagine old in the history of the church. He is one of these irascible independent episcopal spokesmen that-- You say episcopal. Yeah. High.

Gordon Zahn A leader. You know, he speaks as--

Studs Terkel You use the word episcopal with a small E.

Gordon Zahn Yeah. Yeah. He is in London at the present time recovering from a broken leg and this slows him down a bit but not too much. But I think he has the satisfaction at least of, if he doesn't emerge, you know, the justified prophet on these two crusades that he seems to have become identified with, at least he will know that a great segment of church opinion has now joined him whereas at one point he was all alone. He was very strong on the war/peace issue, radical on this type of thing, and also, of course, he was the first high-ranking churchman to speak favorably of the Pill, and it looks as though he might not, you know, in his lifetime find his positions justified, but I think that he's already--

Studs Terkel But throughout the history of the church, particularly now, there are some high or middle or just parish priests. Father Delp, you mentioned Father Delp in in your chapter when you talk church of silence. Who is Father Delp?

Gordon Zahn He was a priest who was involved in this Kreisaur Kreis, an underground movement in Germany during the Hitler period. It had some ties to the July 20th assassination attempt, and this led to its being cracked down, and he was a Jesuit, I believe, who then was sent to prison and died there, was executed. And the book that I have chosen the quotation from is called his "Prison Meditations" and he during the time when he was waiting for his execution, he wrote his, I think it was during Advent, the season preceding Christmas, wrote some very, very moving essays again, which--

Studs Terkel Again silence, silence

Gordon Zahn Yes.

Studs Terkel Silence seems to be the, again, one of the undercurrent texts, the subtext of all your writings, too.

Gordon Zahn Yes, I think this is true, that there, you've got to make up your mind and you've got to say something, you may be wrong, what you're going to say, but it's better that you at least get into a dialogue on these very important issues, that the issues themselves don't just pass by uncontested.

Studs Terkel You know, there's a lay theologian, Schneider, isn't there? You quote from Schneider.

Gordon Zahn Reinhold Schneider, yes. One of these universal scholars, a poet and a historian and some of his writings were in the theological classification, too. Now, he immediately following the war is a German, and he got quite a reputation not entirely favorable by raising this question, "Where did we fail?" You know, this type of thing. "Why couldn't we have somehow been stronger and opposed this?" And he was a very strong opponent of the rearmament of Germany, for example, and he fell into extreme disfavor with the, what is called the establishment over there, the Catholic establishment. So, therefore at times, actually, there were bookshops that weren't interested in carrying his writings, and up to this point he was sort of their leading light, one of the great Catholic literary figures of the time. Toward the end of his life he was sort of rehabilitated, and again people speak highly of

Studs Terkel There's this quote of his that you used to open a chapter, "The Case for Christian Dissent": "There is no hiding the fact that it is much harder to be a Christian today than it was in the first centuries. There is every reason to predict it will be even more difficult in the near future. When it comes to the quote "sacred duty" unquote of a man to commit sin, the Christian no longer knows how he should live. There remains nothing else for him to do but to bear individual witness" goes again "and where such witness is, there is the kingdom of God," writes--wrote Reinhold Schneider. I suppose all the nuances and the subtleties now enter are the ones that didn't, in the matter of--the rationales now enter easier, too, isn't it, the rationalizations.

Gordon Zahn Yes, yes. This I think, I use that quotation as the take-off point for the Jagerstatter book as well, as you recall, that's where I got the title from, except I use "solitary" instead of "individual."

Studs Terkel I know there's a young, as a young Christian, Geissler, he was young when he first said it, too, the German writer, Christian Geissler, who spoke of "What is the horror? Is it the deaths of all these people or is the other horror of people, simple ordinary people doing an ordinary job?" So we come back to old--

Gordon Zahn The capacity to justify this thing, this is what he strikes as being the greatest hero of all, that the human mind, the mind that can formulate justifications for such a thing as Auschwitz, or later on for such a thing as Hiroshima, he tied the two together in this essay. He says, "That mind is corrupt. It has to be corrupt to be able to come up with justifications of these things," and then he goes and adds a judgment with which I think we can probably agree, this corruption is general. All of us find some basis.

Studs Terkel Of course, it's not just national, not just one country and one people, obviously how easy it is, you know, even the people considered, say, most enlightened, most pacific, find themselves suddenly. I think it's a question that Israel itself must face, too.

Gordon Zahn Yes, it's going to be a grave problem, I think, in normalizing the situation over there. It's that, obviously they have acted with restraint. The victorious forces are at least conscious of the fact that they are sort of on parade before world opinion and that the world opinion is not likely to be too favorable if they're too rough, but on the other hand, you hear military statements and so forth

Studs Terkel I'm talking, of course, of the very nature of tech military technology itself and what it does. I'm talking of a General Dayan, and the, perhaps, glorification of him, you see. I'm talking now of a man who may be considered an Israeli MacArthur, for that matter and this may offend some listeners, perhaps. But this is something that must be faced by every--no matter who they are, what the history, or what the most contemporary history might be.

Gordon Zahn Yes, I think the--I don't like generalizations like the military mind or something like this. But again, I think that a commitment to a profession brings about a tendency to solve all problems in a pretty consistent fashion. And, so, I think you will find the link between the MacArthurs and the Dayans and these others, the Westmorelands and so forth, they will all think pretty much in the same pattern when they're faced with solutions. Their job as technicians, and this is what they are, they're military technicians is to get the job done. I think these generals of ours, for example, who are dissatisfied with the restraints placed upon them in Vietnam, even so far as Curtis LeMay, who wants to bomb them back to the Stone Age or something like this.

Studs Terkel I think we should point out that, obviously, Dr. Zahn is not comparing the two. He's not comparing the Middle East with the Vietnamese adventure of ours, but really you're saying how a military mind works no matter what society--

Gordon Zahn They see themselves as given this job, as experts assigned a task, and so all these other considerations at some point are likely to be put into second place.

Studs Terkel It's funny, I thought of earlier we spoke of the value-free scientist, say "I do my job and that's it," when it comes to military it has always been so. I mean, there isn't a question there, that is the nature of military.

Gordon Zahn In the last analysis, that this, it's winning that's important.

Studs Terkel As against this, we come back to the individual and his conscience. Again, the bedrock of Gordon Zahn's writings and being indeed. So we return to this theme, recurring again and again in your writings, so you imply, you yourself are implying that it may be outdated as far as the young, yet I feel I disagree with you. I feel that they will find the basis for what they're doing and feeling in your works.

Gordon Zahn Well, I hope so. I hope that the, you know, it is sort of the theoretical background to the activism that they're engaged in at the present time, and in terms of, you know, I'm from an earlier generation of dissenters. It was a C.O. in the last war and something like this, so the position isn't the same at all. I feel sort of at a disadvantage when I attend a meeting and here's this nice clean-shaven, well-appointed all-American boy who has just burned his draft card or something like this. I feel way out in left field.

Studs Terkel The question raised, you're Catholic. We think of religious conscientious objectors. Yet, is it not difficult for a Catholic to be a religious conscientious objector? This raises

Gordon Zahn I'm very glad that you ask that question, because this, of course, is one of my pet activities, and I haven't been too successful at the present time. No, it's not at all impossible for a Catholic now to be the kind of a pacifist that gets classification as a conscientious objector. There are Catholics, I would imagine the bulk of the Catholics who apply for the C.O. classification. Incidentally, I understand there's a great number of them. I've heard that there are as many as 30 or 40 a week that keep asking for information at the Catholic Peace Fellowship office, but the bulk of these, I think, do reject all war today and therefore they do come under the coverage of the draft legislation. However, the more orthodox, if I may use that term to refer to those who follow the traditional theological teachings as set forth by St. Thomas and others, actually are obliged to be selective objectors and they are not given recognition under the draft legislation. As long as this theology sets up a distinction between a just war and an unjust war, it's the individual who must decide whether this war is just or unjust, and that puts him into the selective conscientious objector classification, and in a sense then, our draft law works a discrimination against Catholics, against the more quotes "orthodox" Catholics. I've tried to interest a couple of bishops in this problem as to this point they haven't been overwhelmingly successful, but I think it is, again, something of their obligation. The Council, the Vatican Council and since then Pope Paul and the American hierarchy, for that matter, have all stressed the obligation of the individual to come to some judgment on this and follow his judgment. Well, if they place that obligation upon the individual, they must also be prepared to stand behind him and see to it that he's given the same recognition that others are.

Studs Terkel Well, obviously, these times we live in are--leaps have taken place, leaps and surprises, too, surprises that can be good. I guess it would depend, again, upon the individual and his, I suppose, finding other individuals or organizations or groups to find that he is not alone. This is also one of the factors, of course, the feeling of aloneness in thought.

Gordon Zahn Actually, I don't think this is probably too much of a problem for the objectors today, for the dissenters against the war in Vietnam or something like this, because they must be quite aware of the fact that there is an undercurrent of support at least for the type of position they represent, not necessarily for what they're trying to do. But at least that there's agreement even among some of the more conservative blocs in our population.

Studs Terkel There's an interesting sequence in your book, Gordon Zahn, our guest, the book "War, Conscience and Dissent", that Hawthorn published, about deterrence and the sin, you speak of the three sins involved here, in this, you know, there are some war deterrences, and one is the idea of the preparation. Remember that? The three immediates you speak of, all three are sinful. The preparation, the how's it go again? The threat, the preparation and ultimate acceptance.

Gordon Zahn This was one of the big points that was debated at the Council when they were working on Schema XIII, which later became the Pastoral Constitution.

Studs Terkel This was the Vatican Council you're talking about.

Gordon Zahn The issue was first phrased in terms of the declaration of the use of nuclear weapons as immoral or not. And then the opposition was raised by Archbishop Hannan of our country and Archbishop Beck of England that this would go too far, that it would seem to eliminate the deterrence effect, you know, that it may be immoral to use these things, but it's not immoral to possess these things. And the debate then went on these two points, and Jim Douglas and others introduced a distinction that they felt that the possession is really immaterial. It's the preparation to use that must also be regarded as immoral, and Abbot Butler and others represented this position at the Council and they succeeded in getting a relatively strong statement against the use of nuclear weapons and avoiding an explicit statement supporting the deterrence position. They indicate that in a given time it may be that it works to deter, but even this is not to be viewed

Studs Terkel Of course, this again, this idea of deterrence, actually deterring, you know, deterrence through terror, you know, you know, the phrase to prevent war you prepare for it. You call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Gordon Zahn I think this is true, and the same is true with deterrence. I mean, to make it credible you will have to convince the others that you're going to use it. And I don't think you can convince the others without first convincing yourself that you're going to use it as well. And, so, I'm quite convinced that, placed with, you know, a situation in which it were used against one of our allies or against ourselves or something, all of these moral reservations we now have that, of course we would never use these things, would fall away.

Studs Terkel Of course, the rationalization would be there in the great time of crisis, the time of stress, now is the time for all good men to drop it.

Gordon Zahn Yes, I think so. I'm not too sure we're too far removed from that at the present

Studs Terkel So we come to the question, and also there's a nutty aspect to it. I mean really, literally, a nutty aspect, in that the others, more and more of whom those others may be, others grow in numbers, too, don't they?

Gordon Zahn Oh yes, they're all

Studs Terkel And these others also have it, you know, some of the others. So, of course, the question of war again, we got so many of them, and it's a victory so few of ours. We come to digits on both sides now, don't we? Gordon Zahn was talking about the importance of statistics and he was referring to kill count. In fact, his comment was pretty similar to that of Senator Fulbright, indeed, the matter of statistics involved and the human aspect and the loss of lives being somewhat secondary. Our guest, Gordon Zahn. The theme of the conversation based on his most recent book, "God, Conscience and Dissent", a collection of essays and lectures, though offered several years ago, indeed, quite timely now. So here, too, the sociologist can be as prophetic as the theologian and as the poet. Gordon Zahn our guest.