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Editorial – “Guilty, But Insane”

9 December 1939

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 09 December 1939

“Guilty, But Insane”

The Bolshevik invasion of Finland is a turning-point in the war and in history. Whatever the immediate outcome, Finnish independence will survive this murderous outrage which matches in brutality and cruelty the Nazi crimes in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Finland, like Poland, had its Naboth’s vineyard. For twenty years Russia was not merely content with Finnish independence but learned to value it as a barrier to German aggression from the North. So far from making an absurd pretence of timidity at the existence of a fortified frontier within gunshot of Leningrad, the Russians were quietly thankful that those fortifications were in safe and civilised hands. Not until Germany broke bounds and began to swarm eastward did Russia begin to have second thoughts about the Baltic States.

To-day the Finns, in full view of a sympathetic but impotent world, are engaged in a life-and-death struggle with gigantic forces which are assaulting them without a shadow of reason or justice. It may be that before Christmas, Finland, one of the most civilised, progressive, and peaceful countries in the world will have been temporarily conquered and occupied by one of the most brutal and barbarous races. The bare possibility gives terrible point to the tragedy of insanity which has overtaken our civilisation.

We have to remember that the abominable proceedings of the Russians are directed to one end — the domination of Northern Europe —and with one purpose, strategic security against Russia’s only possible enemy in that region Germany. Every move made by the Bolsheviks so far—in Poland, in the Baltic States, and now in Finland is directed against Germany, and, ironically, with Germany’s connivance. Only the tragic lunacy of the present rulers of Germany could have brought about so preposterous a situation.

For the German people, the dilemma in which they have been placed by Hitler’s crazy policy is terrifying. As a nation they have sold their soul to a Leader who has re-sold it to the Power from which he swore to protect them. His megalomania has raised up for Germany formidable foes in the East and in the West. He has forced Germany into war with Powers whose might is not the less terrible for the reluctance with which it has been mobilised and arrayed. In a panic-stricken attempt to avoid encirclement he has opened the floodgates of Bolshevism in the East and has allowed that detested and dreaded thing to surge northward and westward, occupying and fortifying, and stripping away all the insulation which kept the Reich clear and uncontaminated. Now he is obliged to watch helplessly the progress of this Russian tide which threatens to submerge the Finns, the friends of Germany, whose arms helped to recover the independence of Finland.

If it is really true that the Russian invasion of Finland is part of a secret pact for the partition of northern Europe between Russia and Germany, then Hitler is finally and overwhelmingly convicted, and the verdict must be “Guilty, but Insane.” What other meaning can be attached to the renewal at this moment of German menaces toward Sweden? Similar preparations against the Netherlands a month ago were switched off by prudential considerations, and the danger and difficulty of a Scandinavian adventure may give another turn to the giddy and distracted counsels of Hitler and his demented advisers.

An attack on Sweden (and inevitably Norway) would open to the Western Powers a way to Germany’s most tender and vulnerable flank, at present protected by Scandinavian neutrality. But by browbeating Sweden and discouraging her natural impulse to aid Finland, Germany is doing dirtier work than ever for the Bolsheviks, and putting herself further into their power.

It may take a long time yet for the full truth to sink into the German consciousness, but Stalin has at last dropped his grinning mask and the choice before Germany is inescapable. Stalin has held the  mirror up to Nazism. He has shown Germany what German aggression looks like objectively. Let them gaze steadily on that reflection and realise that they cannot hope for the respect and co-operation of the civilised world unless and until they are ready to repudiate and renounce the doctrine of force, repair the wrongs done in their name, and repent deeds of violence and oppression which are truly evil and shocking whether wrought by Hitler in the name of the Reich or by Stalin in the name of the Devil.

Germany’s guilt is the deeper and more damnable since Bolshevism dared not look across its frontiers without the consent and connivance of Germany. That is the terrific fact which ought to weigh heavily on the conscience of the German people, and will nq doubt do when conscience is free to work in Germany. When Germany goes down once more in disgrace and defeat—as she must unless she repents in time—she will be indicted not only with, but for, the monster she has let loose on European society.