Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 10 August 1940
Factors in the Fight
The “threatenings and slaughter “, breathed backward and forward across the North Sea were not’ allowed to spoil the bank holiday. Officially there was no such thing, and most people worked, though the stories of relatively safe resorts being inundated with people determined to holiday, war or no war, are a sad and rather significant index to the numbers who must be classed as useless or superfluous in the defence of these islands if and when the great test comes.
One must allow, of course, that among the crowds were many people who have gone all out since the Blitzkrieg and were badly in need of a holiday. Whatever we may think of their idea of rest and relaxation, they earned it, are entitled to it, and it is in the national interest that they should have it. These strictures do not apply to those who have GONE TO IT but to those who between ignorance and callous indifference have not yet realised the, nation’s need of them. If this country is destined to pass through, the burning fiery furnace a great deal of this sloth and indifference) will be purged away; just as the real conscience of some conscientious objectors has been touched by the, nation’s peril and the overwhelming evidence of the evil with which we are confronted.
But the nation as a whole is sound at heart, completely awake, alert, vigilant, and resolute; ready for the utmost trial alike of its patience and fortitude. At the moment its patience is being tested, and as Mr. Churchill reminded us the other day it is perhaps harder to wait than to endure. However, delay suits our enemy ill; with every day that, passes his chance of an effective stroke diminishes; we can well: afford to possess our souls in’ patience, conscious that “having, done all” we are ready, in the day: of battle “to stand,” and to withstand all that malice, ingenuity, berserk ferocity and fanatical rage can offer.
Meanwhile the invasion of Great Britain is but one of the problems confronting the Dictator of Europe. In the Balkans he has the task of reconciling the irreconcilable, of inducing neighbouring States to accept a ” a new order ” framed solely and entirely in the interests of Germany; to get this “diktat ” quietly accepted not by the States whose destinies are being calmly ordained in Salzburg, but by Russia and Italy, both of whom are vitally concerned with the balance and control of political forces in the Balkans It is vital to Hitler that the Balkans should be kept quiescent and Russia complaisant until Great Britain has been disposed of and the war in the West won. Then Germany will be at leisure to carve the: Balkans to her liking, with or without Russia’s leave, and at a later stage to bring Russia to heel—the one not already assigned to Italy. It is not to be supposed that the crafty Bolsheviks, sole profiteers of the war, who have skilfully exploited the opportunities of bloodless aggression presented to them by the war in the West are not perfectly aware of the fate reserved for them if and when the Germans get their hands free of Great Britain. In spite of the relatively friendly references to Germany and Italy In M. Molotov’s recent review of Soviet foreign policy, no one in Moscow is under any illusion as to the ultimate fate of a Russia left to face alone, the ideological hatred of the Nazis.
Russia is playing, with great coolness, a dangerous game which she will lose if Great Britain goes down. The British Empire is her safeguard both East and West. With the disappearance of British influence, Russia would again fall a prey to the military might of Germany and the sea-power of Japan. We may be sure that the Bolsheviks are watching intently and estimating shrewdly the chances, of the crucial struggle between Great Britain and Germany and will adjust themselves swiftly to the sway of fortune. It is barely possible that they may come to the aid of Great Britain rather than await a German triumph; it is almost certain that while Germany is fully committed and absorbed in the struggle here, Russia will strengthen herself to the utmost possible extent on her western and southern frontiers, possibly by a protective sweeping movement through the Balkans, with or without Turkish co-operation and in contemptuous defiance of Italy. It may even be that the Balkans in desperation will facilitate this move by calling in the Russians as a last resort against permanent, final, and total domination of Europe from Berlin by a regime whose savagery, selfishness, and inhumanity know no bounds. At any rate Russia is a factor, at present incalculable, which is causing German diplomacy, whose triumphs have all been played, a great deal of anxiety: until his rear has been secured the cautious Hun is unlikely to commit: himself fully to the supreme gamble in the West.
Then there is the other terrible factor; the practical certainty of famine throughout Europe during the coming winter through the looting of food from subjugated areas by Germany. The Germans hope, if they fail to knock us out or to break our blockade, to raise a humanitarian hue-and-cry against us – their impudence is equal to appealing to the world against our refusal to make good the stores they have ravished from the unhappy peoples whose folly has betrayed them into the power of the dog.
Little more than a year ago, President Roosevelt’s noble remonstrance against Hitler’s policy of bullying and menacing small neighbours, led that smooth hypocrite to enquire of all of them: “Do you feel threatened, by Germany?” The wretched dupes answered “No” and President; Roosevelt perforce abandoned them to their fate. What would he their answer today? Alas, they would not be free even to give it.