Page 5, 13th December 1940

13th December 1940
Page 5
Page 5, 13th December 1940 — NOTES AND COMMENTS

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Locations: Moscow, Rome, London, Dakar


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Notes And Comments I This Peace Must

Page 5 from 22nd November 1940



THE circumstances of Marshal Badoglio's resignation and' of those who followed him are certainly not normal, but we do not know enough to guess how deep the fissure may be between the Fascist party and the Army. We must associate it with the attacks on the organisation or conduct of the war which came from Roberto Farinacci recently. Presumably Farinacci and other hot-headed Fascists believe that the aggressive and warlike spirit of Fascism itself provides a better chance of winning the war than mere military science. They can argue this from the German example, for Hitler has repeatedly flaunted the advice of his generals and has so 4r always won through. There may have been grounds of quarrelling between the party chiefs and the army about which we know nothing: the army representative, Badoglio, may consider that Italy should put an end to hostilities (or try to) as quickly as possible. Or, as the Greeks suggest. Mussolini may be trying to add the laurels of generalissimo to his already considerable claims to attention.

What it is important to grasp is that Mussolini has not the control over all the forces in Italy which Hitler has in Germany. and though he may have been tempted in early years to depose the monarchy and become sole Augustus Caesar, it would have been dangerous for him to do so. It would be an insult to a man like Badoglio to suggest that he was fighting for Fascism and the Duce. For him, as for many other Italian officers the real loyalty is to the House of Savdy. During the Ethiopian war Mussolini was able to unite all the forces of Italy in one patriotic endeavour, and in the case of the Spanish war Catholics like Badoglioand Badoglio appears to be a real believer—felt their sympathy for Franco.

There are not the same grounds for enthusiasm in this war, and it is likely that if there is special ill-feeling between the Marshal of Italy and the Duce of Fascism the sympathy of the monarchy will not be for Mussolini.

There used to be a saying in Italy that Badoglio was the barometer of affairs. If he played bowls and lived the rustic life which was to his taste, Italy, so the saying went, was not going to enter into the war. Though the Fascisti have captured the press and Mussolini has all the limelight in his military uniforms to which—according to the old fashioned etiquette of the army—he has no right. there is a great deal of respect for Badoglio. His reputation for simple piety and pure patriotism has never been quesfioned, and his unostentatious sense of duty makes him seem to represent the older virtues of Rome.

It is possible to have strong sentiments of patriotism in Italy, and even to be a nationalist, without approving of Fascism, and many nationalists in Italy feel that Mussolini has no right to pretend to be the only representative of Italian national feeling.

Now Badoglio may perhaps retire to his bowls and his village simplicity. He is the kind of figure Italians would look to if the situation became serious: who would serve as the Hindenburg or Petain of Italy in time of need.


ITALY'S present difficulties are cer minty our opportunity, and it was with great relief that the British people learned of the offensive in the Western Desert. The threat to Suez has always been vital, and nothing can have annoyed Hitler more than Italy's inability to drive home her initial advantage after the fall of France. It would be a mistake to underrate Italy's recuperative powers especially with German help and advice. Speed is now absolutely essential, and every possible form of attack on Italy should be made during her period of reconstruction and hesitancy. If the offensive so well initiated can be turned into a major operation of war, driving the thin Italian column back into Libya, we shall not only regain lost prestige, but vastly increase Italy's difficulties. This in turn will prevent Italy from easily reorganizing her battered troops in Albania and make possible the complete triumph so well deserved by the gallant Greeks.


c,INCE the failure of the first aerial Li blitzkrieg against Great Britain the semi-certainty that the Germans would win which existed for instance in Retain's army circles must have declined, and Italy's setback has unquestionably added to this doubt. But it is unlikely that on the continent credence will be given to the idea that the blitzkrieg against Britain has failed for some time yet, at least until next spring has come and gone.

Spanish and Italian military critics, for instance, always remained convinced during last winter that the calm on the Maginot and Siegfried lines was only a phase and that sooner or later the battle would be decided not by bloodless economics and rival blockades but by soldiers.

This winter has certain similarities with last. While Italy, as was inevitable, can be counted out of the race for production. both the • British Empire and German Europe are manufacturing war machines and training men to use them at an incomparably greater rate than they are being used up Monthly losses in aeroplanes cannot on either side be in excess of about a tenth of the number produced. It is very likely that ultimately the total production of the British Empire

and the United States could exceed the total production of the whole war strained continent supposing it were under German domination.

One thing is certain and that is that by next spring more bombers and fighters will he ready on both sides than have ever been seen in the world before, and it is likely that we should see Armageddon fighting in the air, and bombing of objectives, which would make what we have seen so far appear mere skirmishing. According to the pattern of events so far there would seem to be likelihood of a German blitzkrieg against Britain sometime—no one knows when—which would be a decisive and perhaps final phase of the war. This would mean the concentration of every available machine for a short-duration smashing attack. The British air command is obviously aware of such a possibility, and while the masses easily accept the idea that the project of invasion is over, the Government repeatedly shows that it takes another view. But to invade, on either side. demands pretty complete air predominance in the area of hostilities, and the question is whether, once such predominance has been achieved landings or invasions are necessary save as occupadons.


THE Evening Standard seems to have some interest in modelling a Belgian Cabinet after its own heart. Obviously it is not altogether pleased with the present structure of the Four Man National Cabinet under Catholic Premier Pierlot, now firmly established in London and officially recognised by the British Government with which it is co

operating wholeheartedly. Constrained at last to admit the existence of the Constitutional Belgian Government, the

Evening Standard delights its readers with a portrayal of the Pierlot Cabinet as a " Cabinet Bridge Four." "The Belgian Cabinet," it says, " consists of only four members and can make up a good bridge team." Catholic Minister of Colonies, de Vleeschauwer, professor of the University of Liege is "also a crack bridge player and is the best of them all." Then it goes on to tell its readers what this newspaper has long made public, namely, that " the Belgian Government more or less represents a National Coalition" with a Catholic Prime Minister, M. Pierlot, a Catholic Minister of Colonies, M. de Vleeschauwer, a Liberal Minister of Finance, M. Gun. and a Socialist Foreign Minister, M. Speak.

Notice the malicious qualificative more or less. it is a world-wide known fact that the Pierlot Cabinet is a com plete National Coalition. Immediately on the outbreak of hostilities in September, 1939, M. Pierlot in a national spirit in view of the coming danger changed his Cabinet from a CatholicLiberal one to a three party Coalition, by admitting the Socialists. The " more or less " opens the way in the Evening Standard manner for the inclusion of M. Marcel Henri Jaspar, its protde, a Liberal and an anti-clerical. A list of other "Candidates" follows. It includes the bunch of Marxists, Moscow-minded veteran Socialist Leaders, Camille Huysmans and Louis de Brouckere.


nESP1TE the British blockade gold is still a useful commodity to Germany. It is needed to pay for purchases to those European countries which she has not actually overrun whenever the latter have been supplied with aspirin, mouth-organs and similar commodities to the point not so much of saturation as of regurgitation, and undoubtedly a certain amount of gold trickles out for Germany's benefit through neutrals to all parts of the world. But both her own resources and those of the countries under her domination have now been depleted. The only country left in Europe with large gold stocks still in its physical possession is unoccupied France. We do not know the extent of the French stocks since the Bank of France ceased publishing returns at the time of the collapse. Not counting the French gold in the United States, which is of course frozen, there are large quantities in Martinique and more was transferred to Dakar on the Richlieu last June. The Martinique gold is by no means inaccessible, since, if the Vichy Government so desires, it would not be unduly difficult to transfer it by air to some South American port and there hand it over to the Germans.

Actually the gold at Dakar is more secure from the Germans than that at Martinique, since General Weygand who is in charge there is very unlikely to agree to its surrender. When the German Government issued a decree some time ago compelling ,Frenchmen in the occupied territories to surrender their gold and foreign assets, General Weygand had the courage to protest against this as being contrary to the terms of the Armistice. General Weygand,.like most Frenchmen, realises that confidence in the franc reposes largely on France's physical ,possession of gold. He will not lightly give it. Indeed its presence in North Africa is a good bargaining counter, for he can probably whisk it away to America whenever he wants.

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