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Editorial – Past Pardon

14 December 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 14 December 1940

Past Pardon


When Hitler spoke to German factory workers on Tuesday he took care to choose a factory not yet visited by the R.A.F. In hundreds of factories even he would have lacked the effrontery to boast of the comparative immunity of Germany from bombing. He knows, all Germany knows, and all Germany knows that he knows, how grave is the damage already inflicted by British bombing on the German war potential. He knows, too, that the British airmen have neither chosen nor been forced to attack indiscriminately. He pleads, with some inkling of the wrath to come, that he did not desire to attack women’ and children, but only military objectives.

Whether that be true, or not, he is fully aware that, British night bombers are able, to attack military objectives exclusively, and do so; whereas the Germans, constantly driven off military targets, are obliged to bomb blindly if at all, with the certainty of inflicting only civil havoc. For that reason, they have claimed mass murder as a military objective, described it as “retaliatory,” and built up a case for it as a means of destroying the economic life of our cities as well as the lives of the citizens. Hitler’s newspapers give him the lie as he now gives them the lie.

As to “retaliation,” it is far from true that the British began the bombing of civilians: the British have not even yet begun to do so. If they had done so, judged by the power and accuracy of the blows already delivered against Germany’s war plant, Germany’ to-day would be filled with weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Hitler knows how many civilians his thugs have killed in this country; let him tell us how many German civilians have been killed. He knows what fearful havoc has been wrought upon British homes and institutions; again he and .his newspapers are at variance, for though now he wails of British attacks on German hospitals, no German communique has ever admitted more than the most trifling injury from British bombing. In this, as in all else, his lying soul wavers between two stories, both false, and he uses either according to circumstances, as if he could fool all, the people all the time.

He does not care what the Germans believe so long as he has the power to compel their, obedience. These “herrenvolk” are as much his slaves and chattels as the wretched peoples now under his heel; he thinks as meanly of them, and will continue to do so until the great day of deliverance when Germans will be as forward as any to cast him out.

“If we are defeated.” he says. ” there will be an end of the German people.” That, alas, cannot be, but in that sentence we hear the muttered warning of the gangster to the gang that they are equally incriminated with him and that their crimes are past pardon.

The Biter Bit

Nothing could be quainter than the development of Axis strategy in the Mediterranean. So far everything has gone contrary to intention. Hitler probably did not intend that Mussolini ‘should move on Greece—yet,’ but for once the Second Murderer had his way, and, caught a Tartar. The Axis, intended a pincer movement against the British force in Egypt; instead, Italy is facing’, ‘something very similar, an Allied thrust from Albania and a British thrust from Egypt. Graziani was to strike down to the Red Sea and open a new, road to Abyssinia, but for months he has not dared to move in that or any other, direction. The Italian Navy was to sweep the British out of the Mediterranean while Hitler was occupying the main British naval strength in the Atlantic. Hitler has done what he could, but the Italian Navy continues fugitive in its “own” sea and has been driven from contact with the Italian expeditionary force in Albania. Let the remarkable Greek advance continue ever so little and Italy must face its Dunkirk.

The news that General, Wavell has at last been given the concentrated strength to strike a deadly blow at Graziani has heartened us all. It comes like the promise of dawn—the first gleam of a return to the offensive; evidence, too, of a miraculous recovery of grip in a field where the French defection left us well-nigh hamstrung. Though “wishful thinking” has been discouraged by counsel and events, faith has survived, because it had more solid practical grounds than many of us dared to hope. We did not take sufficient account of the difficulties of the enemy.

The Germans did not invade us in July because, their victory in France was so sudden, complete, and unexpected that they were left unprepared and unorganised for the next move. Graziani was similarly unprepared for his mighty stroke of good fortune in North Africa. His was a far simpler task than Keitel’s, but he lacked the boldness and resolution to strike. He hesitated — the British tradition of victory against hopeless odds hung heavy upon him and was lost. The divided aim went wide.

Since Hitler was not in a position to invade at once, the whole Axis strength should have been bent upon the Mediterranean. Italian in competence and pusillanimity surprised even the Germans, who have a low opinion of the military skill and valour of their Ally. Time was lost—and, as it appears, wasted—over Rumania, strategically useless, without complete domination of the Balkans and diplomatic control of Turkey and Russia.

Hitler tried to establish his “new order” and gather the fruits of victory in advance. ” The man that sold the lion’s skin was slain in hunting him.” Diplomacy does not go forth with armies, but follows in their rear. British resilience, British powers of resistance and recovery, the fortitude of the British people in the face of bombing; above all the astounding skill and power of the R.A.F., have deranged Hitler’s war plans, blunted his deadliest weapon, and thrown his cause into confusion.

The day must come—recent events seem to be hurrying it visibly when Hitler, by deed or sign, must confess to the deluded German people that its sufferings have been endured and its crimes perpetrated in vain: stripped of its evil conquests the German nation must stand naked and disgraced before a loathing world, an example for all time of the futility of aggression and the indestructibility of civilisation.