Editorial – The Final Infamy (video)

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 13 April 1940

The Final Infamy

The lightning invasion of Norway and Denmark may well be the final infamy of the Nazis. The world has supped full of horrors and its capacity for detestation of this “cuckoo” race is well nigh exhausted. It is a shocking deed, but the time has gone by for moral indignation. We are accustomed to the idea of the utter ruthlessless of the Nazis, and, by implication of the German people who suffer themselves to be disgraced and infamed by that filthy regime.

The Allies at any rate have no illusions that Hitler will in any way limit or handicap himself by considerations of mercy and decency. Bethman-Hollweg, twenty-six years ago, excused the violation of Belgium with the plea that “necessity knows no law.” The scoundrel who now rules Germany knows no law or limit but the strong hand, and has never hesitated for an instant to strike down the weak and defenceless where this could be done with impunity. This time he does it with a risk, and the mere fact that he is compelled to take a risk is some measure of the difficulty in which he finds himself.

It must have been obvious to the Scandinavian countries that their turn for violation must come at the moment when Germany had more to gain than to lose by attacking them. Hitherto they have been saved because they formed a convenient defensive buffer, and were more useful as neutrals than as a “protectorate.” With a pitiable, shoddy pretence at neutrality Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have been forced to minister to this evil thing to a far greater extent than was consistent with neutrality. The Allies have put an end to all that, and by stopping the “neutral” lane through which Germany was drawing supplies of iron ore, have touched a vital nerve. How vital is shown by the panic speed at which Germany has reacted.

The invasion of Denmark and Norway has been carried out with a swiftness and efficiency betokening long and careful planning. It is one of many criminal enterprises the plans of which are laid up in the pigeon-holes of the Wilhelmstrasse. No villainy has been left out of contemplation. The Nazis are ready with complete schemes for the invasion of every country in Europe, including those of her wretched “axis” partners, now warily lurking in the shadows awaiting a safe opportunity to loot.

The Scandinavians can have had no illusions about this, yet they have waited like fascinated rabbits for the stoat to strike. Their disunity and their lack of courage and common sense in the face of this terrible menace is one of the great tragedies of democracy. Let it be said at once that a democracy which has neither the power nor the will to defend its integrity has no future in such a world as this or in any world that this generation of men is capable of creating.

The blow that has fallen on Norway and Denmark to-day will almost certainly fall on Sweden to-morrow. All three countries must be lamenting their pusillanimous betrayal of gallant Finland. If they had agreed to give passage to Allied reinforcements they would have provided themselves with the one weapon that might have given Germany pause. Their refusal has not saved them, and they must have known in their hearts that it would not. They clung to a vague hope that somehow the cup would pass from them if they remained sufficiently supine and helpless, though their native sagacity should have warned them that helplessness is with Hitler the most infuriating form of provocation. He can see nothing that is timid, weak, and inoffensive without an overmastering desire to grind it beneath his heel.

Nevertheless, this tragedy is rightly realised by all the world to be a turning-point in the war. The Allies have taken swift and powerful counter measures and it may be that for many days to come we shall have to abide the issue of vital operations by land, sea, and air, for the immediate control of the new theatre of war. If the issue is what we confidently believe it will be, the Nazis will soon have cause to rue this latest manifestation of Hitler’s madness. His crime, whatever its unhappy consequences for Scandinavia has given the Allies the opportunity for which they were eagerly looking, of forcing the war into the open, and of opening up a front on which Germany may yet be pierced to the very heart. In this new campaign the Allies have a chance to display their superiority in men, material, and morale, to break the terrorism of the blonde beast, and to rally and encourage to their own defence ‘and salvation those neutrals who still cringe before this brutal race.

It would be foolish and in any case futile to speculate on the course of this campaign, but that it will bring into formidable play the great power and versatility of the Allies, the elan of the British sailor and of the French soldier, for which there is no equivalent among the German helots we have no doubt whatever.