Helena Lucy Maria Sickert Swanwick to Emily Greene Balch, April 5, 1920




Dear Miss Balch,

I am afraid I have seemed to you hasty and uncivil and I earnestly beg your forgiveness if that has been so. You have so difficult and lonely a job that there is no excuse if I appeared impatient. I can only plead I didn’t intend to give you that impression.

Well I do think that the Summer School had better be given up for this year, I don’t think people would go anywhere in Germany for a good while, owing to the disturbed condition of affairs there, it would not be easy to get lecturers or speakers won ↑now↓ as (in England at least) people make arrangements very far ahead and September is late in the year for such a meeting. It could only be managed now by a national section arranging it in its own country on a small scale and I do think the Educational Conference in Geneva, with Dr. Arnesen and perhaps Dr. Rotten (she said she would try to come in June) and others who will be in Geneva about that time would be the best thing to concentrate upon.

If you agree that the Summer School must be given up for this year, won’t you merely send out a circular stating that “Although the warm response to the suggestion makes us hope that such a scheme will be successfully carried out another year, the practical difficulties have this year proved overwhelming and we must regretfully postpone the scheme to another season.”

I hope you don’t think we were so [pernickety] as to make a difficulty about your asking us and to insist on the Executive doing it. It wasn’t that. It was that I was really afraid that if the British Section ran it, there might be objections raised by other sections and I didn’t realize that you were doing more than offering an informal suggestion. There was of course, the further point that we didn’t think it could be well done in a short time and we are living literally from hand-to-mouth in the matter of money and felt we must have time to “look all round it”. I was afraid some of the Sections might very naturally say “Great Britain proposed it; now G.B. is going to carry it out” and wash their hands of it. I wanted to have a “mandate” and I didn’t understand you were giving one.

It will be good to talk things over! I think if the Executive when it meets would like to plan a meeting next year of the kind we proposed and if we can come to an agreement about the distribution of responsibility (financial and other) our British Section might be able to organize it.

There is this consolation to offer: if we had begun organizing it at the end of last year, we should almost certainly have chosen Germany and now -- all our plans would have been wasted! So perhaps it is well, after all.

I hope you are having a few days’ rest. I have just been to Northampton, electioneering.

Yours cordially,

(Signed) H. M. Swanwick.