At the 1919 Treaty of Versailles at end of the First World War, Germany was ‘punished’ with the imposition by the victors of excessive war reparations. The sum – 269 billion marks - was later reduced to 132 billion, which was still an astronomical amount and Germany would have been required to pay until 1984. The German people felt betrayed, and I am sure that Marshal Foch of France was speaking the minds of many in France, England and Germany when he said of the Treaty: ‘This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty-one years.’
The Germans found their strength in the sincerity of their grievances, expressed forcefully by Adolf Hitler, who galvanized them into a unity of purpose to right the wrongs of Versailles. The moral superiority of sincerity was on Germany’s side and the allied nations, in their heart of hearts, must have felt this and feared it. Then, as Hitler’s lust for and abuse of power increased, the moral advantage slipped away from him, and the German people in their turn must have felt their loss of strength as the justness and sincerity of their cause faded away.
Such is the strength and significance of sincerity for nations as well as for individuals. We had best beware we are sincere.
Image from Wikimedia: decorative Hindu swastika. The swastika is a recurring ancient and often holy symbol going back 5,000 years to the Neolithic period. It symbolises peace and harmony and can be found in many Eastern traditions, notably Buddhism.