Document 19: Letter from Dorothy Detzer to Charles Parsons, 19 March 1925, The Records of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, 1919-1959, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Microfilm, reel 47, frame frame 78).
This letter by Dorothy Detzer (1893-1981), who served as Executive Secretary for the U.S. Section of WILPF from 1922 until 1946, illustrates that although the U.S. Section did not wholeheartedly embrace the International's campaign against chemical weapons in the mid-1920s, they did support the Committee Against Scientific Warfare in its attempt to enlist the support of scientists around the world. For more about Dorothy Detzer's activities on behalf of peace, see Document 10 in "How Did the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Respond to Right-Wing Attacks, 1923-1931?" and Document 9 in "Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women's Organizations in the 1920s," two other document projects on this website.
March 19, 1925
Dr. Charles Parsons, Secretary
National Chemical Society
My dear Dr. Parsons:
The committee on chemical warfare of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is sending forward the following appeal to the scientists of the world.
"The committee on chemical warfare, appointed by the League of Nations, has in its offical report confirmed the statement that, in spite of conventions of Geneva and the Hague, poison gases were employed during the world war in increasing degree. Since then preparations for chemical warfare has been carried on with increasing vigor everywhere.
Through the development of scientific military and aviation technique the means of destruction have reached a practically unlimited power. A future war, caused by economical interests, will not strike the armies, but before all the civil populations, a pilotless aeroplane directed by radio and carrying bombs of 2000 kilo[grams], moving over a large industrial city and covering the whole area with a mist of poison gas or incendiary phosphorus smoke, will destroy every living being in the whole district. No adequate protection of the civil population is possible.
In the light of these inhuman methods of warfare which have been worked out by the assistance of scientists--sometimes voluntary, sometimes enforced--we beg you to give your moral support to our fight against the horrors of a new war by joining in the following protest:
In the name of Humanity for whom a new war with the modern scientific arms would mean complete annihilation, for the dignity of pure science and the responsibility of learned men and women towards the young generation, we strongly condemn the misuse of scientific research for war purposes.
We hope you will allow us to add your name to the list of those upright scientists and friends of humanity who refuse to serve war with their knowledge.
We trust that you will co-operate with our committee and give this material your serious consideration and spread this humanitarian appeal as widely as possible.