Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 28 December 1940
Mr Churchill’s Broadcast to the Italian People
Mr Churchill’s broadcast to the Italian people was a magnificent performance. Whether or not it achieves its main purpose of accelerating the inevitable break of the Italian people with their false guide and leader, it will go down to history as the most trenchant, vital, and virile pronouncement made by any statesman in this war. It will glow even in company with other masterpieces of Churchillian oratory.
Though addressed primarily to the Italian people it was intended for the whole world and was so framed and phrased as to bring into the sharpest focus the tragedy of Italy, the degradation and betrayal of an anciently noble people by a bold, masterful, but inherently ignoble man, one worthy to rank with the most criminal of the Caesars. Now, when Italy is in the toils, when her military plans have gone awry, when her greed of empire has put in peril the empire she has, when the criminal folly of her leader has placed her between the hammer and the anvil, the Devil and the Deep Sea, when Nemesis presses hard upon her wrong-doing and all Mussolini’s cunning and cowardice has brought her to the edge of ruin and disgrace, Mr. Churchill invites her, before it is too late, to “think on these things” and to draw back from the precipice to which the Duce’s follies and failures have dragged her.
Is there in the megalomaniac Mussolini or his tortuous wickedness anything which will justify the Italian people, in going forward to be smashed by the British Empire or, enslaved in a New Order to which Italy will be assigned a place consonant with her revealed military and economic weakness? In stern terms Mr. Churchill warns Italy of the terrible danger in which she stands both from Britain and from Germany. For Italy it is not a choice between either, but between both or neither. There may still be time, by making peace with Britain, for Italy to save herself from her terrible ally, to renounce aggression, to cast out her evil genius, and to return to the noble and natural Italian tradition of liberation and toleration.
Not So Bad
It was a happier Christmas than any of us dared to hope for, thanks in the main to freedom from bombing. Who was responsible for that acceptable Christmas gift we, cannot say. It is perhaps too much to hope that the divine spirit of this hallowed and gracious season entered into the heart even of Goering; it could not enter the heart of Hitler. Whatever it was—a tacit truce or a mutual mislaying of schedules, or whatever else—it made possible a modified festivity both in this country and in Germany, and a momentary release of attention from havoc and holocaust. It was a “green” Christmas of the misty and muggy sort, with little of the crispness, glitter, and sparkle of the Christmas card. In present circumstances it was none the less welcome on that account, for wintry Christmases are best enjoyed by people who are secure of shelter, warmth, food, transport and all the other amenities and services of communal life. Mild weather was second only to blitz freedom as a factor in the comfortable celebration of a war-time Christmas.
At best it could only be a Christmas of maimed rites, for few families found themselves unaffected by the difficulties and distresses of the times. It was the exception rather than the rule to achieve complete reunion under the parental roof. The drastic curtailment of holiday, the exigencies of military service, the dislocation of transport and in bombed areas the effect of casualties and evacuation all operated to hinder or prevent those rallies to the family fireside which are the acme of an English—and unless the. Nazis have changed even that—a German Christmas.
On the other hand, the very, existence in our midst of so much sorrow and distress, brought to many people new of opportunities of realising happiness of service and those who seized them are able to look back upon Christmas this year with greater satisfaction and pleasure for having spent it in ministering to the homeless, the helpless, and the sad. In the afflicted areas it has been difficult to catch even a faint glow of the Christmas spirit, but even there a courageous cheerfulness has sustained the people in their dark hour.
They have not allowed the grim ghost of Christmas Present to obscure happy memories of Christmas Past or brave hope of Christmas to Come. Inured as we have become, during this terrific year, to disaster, disappointment, and distress we are the more grateful for small mercies and of these a peaceful Christmas was certainly not the smallest.