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Editorial – Russia’s Ordeal

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 16 August 1941

Russia’s Ordeal

These are anxious days for Britain, though the issue is being tried out so very far away. The toughness of Russia’s resistance has created military problems for Germany which are unwelcome though not insoluble, given Hitler’s cheerful readiness to pay any conceivable price in German lives.

The new war has reached its crisis in the Ukraine, where the Germans appear to have made sufficient progress to threaten not only Odessa but the armies covering the Black Sea and the Caucasus. It has taken three costly offensives to find a “spot,” but, having found it the Germans are characteristically worrying away at it. They have been denied Leningrad and Moscow, and Kiev has been held against all frontal and ” pincer ” attacks.

The Germans’ next hope is that they will roll up the line from the south and burst through to the oil wells. If they succeed the Russians will be in difficulties, though they will continue to be an effective fighting force capable of holding Hitler down to a wasting winter campaign that might well drain the vitality even of the armies of the Reich. If Hitler does not succeed here he is unlikely to succeed on any part of the front and his cause is lost, whether the end come soon or late. The next fortnight is crucial and Russia will need all the help we can give.

The swift and direct form of aid, the creation of a new land front so vociferously demanded by Mr. Hore Belisha —who did so little with the old one—does not seem within immediate possibility though none of us—outside the War Cabinet—can tell what a day may bring forth. We have made prodigious efforts to weaken and distract the enemy from the air and have accepted heavy losses in men and machines in order to wreck the industrial and economic bases of Germany. Nevertheless, it is idle to pretend that invasion of that kind will affect the swaying battle in the East.

The Germans are suffering and enduring the punishment that the R.A.F. is dealing out night and day, but their eastern campaign goes forward and their grip on the Russians is not relaxed. Presently it may be that they will not be able to relax and disengage even if they would, but at the moment they are pursuing their aims with the dogged tenacity of our own national character. It is a struggle between the Titans, in which the penalty of defeat must be irretrievable ruin and for that reason it will be fought to the bitter end. “In this war there is no discharge.”

Dotard and Dastard

Petain has declared for the Axis and put the destiny of France in the care of the “courteous” Hitler. Practically, that is of small importance, since France was delivered bound to Hitler by the Petain gang a year ago. But Petain has shown himself at last in his true colours—a Fascist, a betrayer of democracy and of the liberties of a republic in which freedom has been passionately worshipped ever since the French were last liberated. This whining, sanctimonious dotard, whose “honour” is rooted in dishonour, is blinded by his own hypocrisy to the disgrace in which he has involved himself and his country. Even now he lacks the hardihood to assume personal direction of a regime he knows to be dishonourable to France and odious to all patriotic Frenchmen.

He has handed the complete control of France—under Hitler—to Darlan, the puppet, tool and henchman of Hitler—Darlan, a man with no hope, no thought, no future apart from the permanent enslavement of France. Accustomed as we are to associating Vichy with treachery and baseness, Petain’s final submission reveals that he is art and part in all its infamy and cannot be distinguished from its vileness.