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Editorial – The Spell is Broken

24 August 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 24 August 1940

The Spell is Broken

An important consequence of the brilliant defence against which the air Blitzkrieg broke last week is the conviction it is spreading throughout the world that Hitler has at last met his match. The Nazi machine has derived great advantage from cheap victories cleverly contrived; they have had a snowball effect, every succeeding victim being half vanquished before he was fully attacked, until at last we arrived at the lamentable case of France and its “renowned Army ” as Mr. Churchill, with invincible chivalry,  calls it.

It is the very essence of Hitler’s’ strategy that he shall win by bluster, using force only where he can concentrate it in overwhelming strength, against a bewildered and betrayed enemy. Of this grim chess he has, proved a master.

As Mr. Churchill ,  said in the House of Commons on Tuesday:

Advantages are gained by, mechanical means as the result of which scores of millions of men become incapable of further resistance, or judge themselves incapable of further resistance, and a fearful game of chess proceeds from check to mate by which, unhappily, players seem to be inexorably bound.

“Or judge themselves incapable as the wretched men of Vichy did. ” By which, unhappily, players seem to be inexorably bound.” All over Europe Hitler has played the stoat, the weasel, and the ferret, and employed all the fascination of terror to bind even so-called neutrals to his will. His methods succeeded in “freezing” Norway, Holland, and Belgium into fatal inactivity so that they fell helpless victims at the appointed hour. Sweden and Rumania, though nominally neutral and independent, are firmly bound to the Axis; the one compelled to hold a candle to the rape of Norway, the other to give up treasured territory to inferior neighbours so that Hitler may not be disturbed by ” noises off ” in the Balkans. Russia, wary and inscrutable, has no apparent need to fear Germany at the moment, but there is mortal dread behind the movements of that great shambling giant — dread that Germany may emerge not only victorious but strong and eager to turn her triumphant arms, eastward according to the original plan. Hungary is as much the vassal of Germany as Italy; JugoSlavia’s independence hangs by a thread, and our friends in the Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey, are sad, silent, and perturbed, impressed and depressed by the ‘grotesque margin of forces arrayed against the proud island people who do not know when they are beaten.

The fearful punishment dealt out to Goering’s air armada has for the first time suggested that perhaps, after all, there may be more than traditional doggedness and obstinacy behind the British resistance. It is beginning to dawn upon the isolationists of the United States, as they regard us with cold, speculative eyes, that we may, perhaps, be worth backing for a win, and that it may be safer, quicker, and of course much cheaper, to sell us the means of defending the Western (Hemisphere than to keep the stuff back only to be caught and captured with it in the end.

What has been so gloriously accomplished by the Royal Air Force during the last few days will remembered hereafter as one of the turning points of the war. Like that other great turning point, the escape of the British Expeditionary Force, it is not in itself decisive, but it has made possible one of those “chess moves” which in modern warfare force decision. The military methods and successes of Germany can and will be matched by the machine whose springs, as Mr. Churchill puts it, are being slowly compressed. When the time comes, it will be competent for us to strike those shrewd, vital blows which bring armies crashing to surrender. We do not delude ourselves with any hope that Germany, will be overthrown as easily as was France, we realise how doughty, as well as dirty, is the German soldier and how tough and tenacious.

Nevertheless, sprawled as Hitler is over Europe, relentlessly gripped by the Royal Navy, with economic chaos and confusion gathering about him, famine and pestilence stalking’ In his train, he is increasingly vulnerable to attack from without and within. The British offensive is being nightly maintained by our bombers; gradually it will be extended to all arms, all services, all areas, all hours, and as it progresses Europe will awake from its trance, recover its manhood, and strike for, its freedom. The first unmistakeable evidence of Great Britain’s power to defend and save itself is an intimation to anti-Nazi mankind, including the enslaved peoples of Germany and Austria, to prepare for the day of liberation.