Notes by John McGivering
and John Radcliffe
Few educated people now believed that the war had been caused by a deliberate German aggression ... In the general opinion, wars started by mistake - the view of Lord Grey (former Foreign Secretary); the negotiating machinery of the League (of Nations) would prevent these mistakes in the future. Or they were caused by great armaments, the view of Lloyd George (former Prime-Minister); the remedy for this was disarmament. Or they were caused by 'grievances'; the clear moral here was that these, now predominantly German, should be redressed. Or finally they were caused by 'capitalism'; hence Labour's contribution to peace was to bring capitalism to an end.However, In 1923 Adolf Hitler had become leader of the German National Socialist Party, the Nazis. During the 1920s, the Nazis, calling for revenge for German's defeat in the war, for rearmament, and for her to become a great power again, had gained increasing support at a time of depression and high unemployment.
... with its urgent warning that Germany was again preparing for war. This was resented as being “unsuitable for Jubilee Year”, and was hardly reported in the press. The poem giving the same warning in 1932 and called “The Storm Cone” was criticised as being ‘exaggerated and gloomy.’Some comments from the critics
[6 May 1935 was the Silver Jubilee of King George V’s accession to the throne. Ed.]
Ten years later he was stirred by the phrase 'the eradication of memories of the Great War', which he culled from a “Socialist Government Organ”, and quotes at the head of his poem “Memories”. The verses are sadly bitter – it is difficult to extract a quotation, as they describe by 'the use of small, corroding words', how the 'We' of the poem are going to destroy and tarnish not only the memory, but also the concept of 'Faith, Obedience, Sacrifice, Honour and Fortitude', and the whole historical tradition, 'the use and meaning of Their day.' ... It was his last political poem except for the warning he issued in 1932 “The Storm Cone”, much in his old manner, prophesying the war of 1939.Harry Ricketts (p. 383) writes:
The most striking poem of warning was “The Storm Cone” of 1932, deriving much of its power from the menace of the undefined. In Kipling’s own mind the ship in danger probably represents England threatened by the seas of German military aggression; but if so, the lines transcended their occasion, suggesting by the tragic intensity of the voice a threat of more existential proportions.See also Angus Wilson (p. 300), for a penetrating examination of Kipling’s attitude to Germany, German rearmament, and Britain’s unpreparedness for war.