The Charlotte News

Sunday, November 29, 1936



Exit Sir Basil.

The state of Sir Basil Zaharoff's conscience when he died at Monte Carlo last week is a matter about which it would be profitless to speculate. Probably he was at peace, for Nature so arranges it that a man of 80-odd forgives himself much, and that is well. It is not so easy, however, for the world to forgive Zaharoff or to forget what he stood for.

Here, by all accounts, was the greatest armament salesman the world has ever known. Not merely by soliciting orders did Sir Basil make his way up in the world from obscurity to the British peerage and great wealth, he furnished both the demand and the supply. The tale told of him is that he sold Greece, believed to be his native land, a submarine, that she might be protected against the designs of Turkey, whereupon he turned around and sold Turkey two submarines that she might be protected against Greece.

Zaharoff was never one to accept supinely the cessation of war after it had started. Nor did he fail to convince opposing high commands of the undesirability of destroying each other's munitions factories, so that by tacit understanding these were safe in the World War from air ships going over to drop their bombs on non-combatants.

It would be unkind, we think, to call Zaharoff the chief enemy of civilization. After all, the codes by which we move and end are subject to constant revision, and in Zaharoff's time he was only the most successful exponent of the trade that was considered to have something glorious about it. But let us unite in hoping that, as well as Zaharoff, what he stood for is dead.

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