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Editorial – September the First

2 August 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 02 August 1941

September the First

A decision in the East still eludes Hitler’s legions. As yet no independent new has reached us from that theatre, and the world has to judge between the Russian and the German bulletins. The claims of both sides are put very high, and it is only by comparing a long series them that one is able to deduce some approximation of the truth.

The German claims in the battle of France prove to be accurate and were issued almost with the restraint under-statement, but then the Germans could afford to be content with the truth, for the truth was tremendous enough, even for Goebbels, and the completeness of the Germ victory staggered and confounded Hitler himself.

In the battle for Russia, the case is altered. Not only is there desperate necessity for quick victory, but a clamant demand for news of it. The loyalty of Germany to Hitler and his ” star ” have been strained intolerably by his apparently insane Russian adventure, and Hitler must justify it, not morally—nothing he has ever done or said or thought is capable of moral justification – but practically by success. That success has been denied him and for some weeks now Germans, the neutrals and subjugated peoples have been fed on lies about the actual or imminent collapse of Russia.

But for the collapse of France—the most incredible event in military nistory—it would hardly have been worthwhile to put out these stories of the annihilation of Russian armies, but the exploits of the panzer-stuka divisions in Flanders, France and the Balkans, together with the die-hard tradition of Russia’s military inefficiency prepared the world for a new and greater example of Hitler’s wizardry, and German claims were half believed before they were issued. Even now it is difficult to know where to strike a balance between the German story of victory everywhere and Russian denials supplemented by fantastic figures of German losses. Our Government may by now have mere exact information from the British military mission, but if so they keep their counsel.

It seems certain that the blitzkrieg phase of the attack on Russia has long since passed, with little gained and Hitler committed, in the attempt to end the war at a blow, to a campaign which should ensure his defeat. We do not need to be reminded by Mr. Churchill that it is up to Britain to beat the Beast of Berlin, that nobody else will win the war for us, and where we fail no one else will succeed.

Nevertheless, we are getting tremendous help both east and west—weapons and tools from the west, hammer-blows from the east. We must use the aid from the west to re-establish in Europe the double front which overpowered Germany last time.

The ” New Statesman,” while glorying in the Moscow accounts of Russian prowess, suddenly falls into a Lenten key and asks itself apprehensively what will become of us if we allow Russia to fall. Russia seems in no danger of collapse, but the destiny of Russia has never at any time been committed to British hands.

A year ago Britain was fighting alone, with little more than sympathy from America and not even that from Russia. We did not depair then and we do not despair now that courage and constancy have at last won a smile from Fortune and the shadow of doubt and confusion is beginning to creep over the enemy’s camp. Russia will find in us a powerful and indomitable ally, constant and faithful, in a world of inconstancy and infidelity, of which Britain has been the chief victim. On land Russia must fight out the issue Hitler has forced on her. The Red Army is confronted with a mighty task, but it has mighty resources.

Meanwhile Hitler must soon, if ever, return to his main task in the west and attempt the storm and sack of Britain. For such a task he required complete concentration of all his available strength, even when Britain was reeling from the capitulation of France and stood alone, half disarmed. That is not now possible within the season available for an attempted invasion of Britain. The Russian war will certainly detain great German forces, whatever the course of that campaign. Hitler’s last state is infinitely the worse than the first, and the assault on England has now to be undertaken on terms which violate every rule of German military tactics.

Even so, Mr. Churchill tells us to expect the Hun and to be completely ready for him by September 1st. The mention of a specific date is no doubt part of Mr. Churchill’s puckish humour. We may be sure that the information has no military value for the enemy, but is more likely to operate like a V in the subtle war of nerves.

For us it is a convenient ” aide memoire,” like a knot in a handkerchief, to help us keep in mind the fact that Russia or no Russia, the Boche to ” westward looks,” hates what he sees there and longs to spring.