Home World War Two Stories from the War Editorial – Catching a Tartar

Editorial – Catching a Tartar

12 July 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 12 July 1941

Catching a Tartar

Although the situation the Russian front is still obscure, the wistfulness of the German claims have been exposed and it is clear that it is yet far from the decision he seeks in the East. The territory Stalin seized while Hitler was preoccupied have been used to absorb the shock of the Nazi military machine and are now scorched earth.

They were seized for strategic reasons and appear to have served their purpose to an important degree. There is no possibility of checking the claims and counter claims of the contestants but they can be little doubt that the Nazi advance has been costly to the invaders as well as to the invaded and that long continuance of the campaign on such terms of gravely crippled the war potential of the Reich.

Hitler took the risk of catching a Tartar when he turned on the Russians, and presumably he took it on military advice.

He is playing for high stakes and his disappointments in the West and the Mediterranean have forced this gambler’s throw.

Hitler may have had no other choice than this violent change of policy, strategy, and ideology. That he could attempt it at all is astonishing evidence of the besotted and bemused state of the German people.

But if the Russian adventure goes wrong the New Order will come crashing down upon the Nazi regime and the world will be redeemed. It remains to be seen whether the Russians can defend themselves not merely courageously—they are already doing that—but scientifically.

In one respect Hitler has gravely miscalculated. While allowing for the great difference in the geography of the present campaign and that against the French, the Germans appear to have expected the Russians to collapse more readily than the French. They have never concealed their contempt for the Russian military power, an opinion in which the world has tended to share. But if this new war has been launched on too low an estimate of the Russian’s fighting qualities, the Germans are inviting a terrible penalty.

Whatever Hitler may hope to achieve ultimately, he has in the meantime accepted grave handicaps in the prosecution of the war against the one antagonist who will surely destroy him unless destroyed. He has accepted war on two fronts in the hope and belief that he can quickly dispose of one and turn, twice as strong, to demolish the other. He appears to have reversed his strategy for it must have been evident even to Stalin that Hitler hoped, keeping Russia in diplomatic play, to destroy Britain and then turn his full might on Moscow. Britain has proved unbeatable and indestructible and so the hour of reckoning with Russia comes now, while Germany is still strong enough for an offensivedefensive. In the next month or so Germany hopes to fend us off or to endure such hammering as we can give, while rendering Russia impotent. Can Germany do this ?

It is our business to see that she does not—ours and Russia’s and America’s, and that of all the free forces outside the Reich camp as well as the unbroken spirits within it. We are already hitting hard, but we are not yet hitting with all we have got. If America were in now, and if we were ready to return to the mainland we might well be within sight of the day when we can plunge our sword deep into the heart of the obscene creature now sprawling over the prostrate body of Europe. As it is, we are bombing hard and with great effect, though whether with decisive effect remains to be seen.

It is a little hard to have to listen to the exhortations of M. Litvinoff to a simultaneous hammering of Germany by Britain and Russia. One would suppose M. Litvinoff to be quite unaware of the steady refusal of Soviet Russia to co-operate with Great Britain until Russia needed Britain’s help. All that is over now and of all the Soviet leaders M. Litvinoff alone can decently appeal to Britain, since he has always been a friend of Britain and his own downfall was the first intimation of Stalin’s anti- British policy which brought Russia to its present plight.

We shall not waste much time or energy in meditating on past crimes and follies, but we shall give the Soviet forces all aid. However far Russia may have gone wrong Hitler has put her in the right and given her a place with those leagued to extirpate a great tyranny from the life and soul of mankind