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N. Roerich on the Roerich Pact and Banner of Peace :





Letter To M. Camille Tulpinck, 1931

     Dear Colleague: Mme. de Vaux Phalipau has informed me of the contents of your letter of March 25th, and I want to thank you sincerely for your invitation to me to take part in your Conference. Unfortunately, I will not be able to assist this summer, as my work takes me to Lahul, in the chain of the Himalayas. Your noble idea to call an International Assembly in Bruges to support the Peace Pact proposed by me, has touched me profoundly. It is most precious to hail each new initiative in the realm of Culture for the defense of the treasures of human genius. Certainly, heroic Belgium, as well as glorious France has profoundly historic interests in this question. Belgian heroes have been witness to the destruction of superb churches, historic mansions, libraries and other artistic monuments which can never be replaced. And it is not only in time of war that such human errors may occur. With each insurrection or internal hostility the monuments of Culture are equally menaced by dangers as grave as those in time of war.

At this time especially, humanity should concentrate all its efforts for the protection of the treasures of creative power. If the Banner of the Red Cross has not always served as a guarantee of complete security, nevertheless it has introduced into human consciousness a most powerful stimulant. Similarly true with the Banner which we propose for the protection of the treasures of culture; for although it may not always succeed in safeguarding these precious monuments, at least it will always and everywhere, call to mind our indispensable duty of caring for the fruits of creative genius. It will give the human spirit another stimulant the inspiration of culture, the inspiration of esteem for all that concerns the evolution of humanity. We, who have shared in the work of museums and collections; we, who have watched over the works of creative power, have experienced the innumerable Calvaries of Art and Science. No one will dare say that the project of safeguarding the treasures of human genius is superfluous, exaggerated or useless. Beyond deepening the sentiment of protection and respect for the monuments of Culture, our project offers the possibility of revising and cataloguing once more the treasures of creative power, and of placing them under the protection of all humanity; because, I repeat, not only during war, but daily, is it necessary to protect the most beautiful and precious works of creative genius.

It is valuable to note that our project has been instantly acclaimed with exceptional response in all parts of the world. I know you will be happy to learn that besides the great representatives of Culture and the governments of the world, there are among the social organizations inspired by our idea, powerful societies numbering millions of members. Thus, at a meeting on March 24th in New York, dedicated to the Peace Pact, Mrs. Sporborg, President of the New York State Federation of WomenТs Clubs, spoke of the Peace Pact in the name of the Federation, which includes over 400,000 members. Moreover we have received proofs of interest and sympathy from organizations which have over three million members. Thus, the plan for the protection of Culture is supported by public opinion. A number of the institutions supporting our plan are ready immediately to raise the all-unifying Banner of Peace, guided by public opinion. For these institutions as well as for us, the essential thing is the fact itself the seed itself which will grow by its own irresistible vitality. Is it possible that some one will dare oppose this emblem of the amicable union and protection of Culture? Such a one would thus reveal himself the opponent of human evolution. Such a denial would forever remain a shameful negation. But the true workers in all the domains of Culture are never negative, and by their constructive positivism, they create indefatigably, since without creation life does not exist. I know that in talking thus, I express your own sentiments, as well as those of all our friends in various countries.

I wish to hail your noble idea with all my heart and that of His Excellency M. le Ministre Jules Destree and of His Excellency Dr. Mineitciro Adacti. I also want to express to you and all those attending the Conference that we have a multitude of friends throughout the world who hope to see the all-unifying Banner of Culture float over their institutions. For there where we rise in defense of righteousness, beauty and culture we are invincible enthusiasts.

It was not by chance that the Conference will meet in Bruges. Unique is the appeal of the beauty of antiquity typified in your city, that living treasury of human genius. May the chimes, which inspired me and which I so greatly admired when visiting your beautiful city, accompany all your solicitous decisions with their victorious carillon. I am often reminded of the music of the opera Princesse Maleine, dedicated to me and based on the beneficent harmony of the bells of old Bruges.

In the name of World Peace, in the name of Culture and luminous creation, in the name of the heroic aspirations which ennoble humanity, I send, dear Colleague, my heartfelt greetings to you and to all the members of the Conference and to the heroic people of Belgium.