Page 4, 3rd September 1943

3rd September 1943
Page 4
Page 4, 3rd September 1943 — ENCIRCLEMENT

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Locations: Sofia, Czechoslovakia, London


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THE German cry for lialf a century, uttered in justification of her military aggressions, has been the danger of encirclement by her ene mies. In 1914 the plea that Germany was encircled by Russia, France and Britain was used to justify her invasion of Belgium. In other words, Germany suffers chronically from the true sort of inferiority complex which drives its victim into outrageous aggressiveness.

To-day the fact that Germany is truly encircled, within a rapidly tightening circle, further illustrates the abiding truth that fear tends to produce the very thing it fears. Faith is the contrary instrument, producing the constructive result. The panic that tears the pagan breast of Hitler and his associates is now fed by almost daily apparitions of encircling danger. The military front rolls back from Russia. The Balkans smoulder dangerously. Italy has broken the Axis, and the southern gateway to Germany is open. France in grim silence bides her time, Denmark has revolted. Sweden has closed her frontiers against the passage of German troops to Norway.

And within the narrowing circle of the German-made " fortress " of Europe the cities and people of Germany are being mercilessly devastated by the very weapon upon which Hitler pinned his original hopes for the quick conquest of the whole Continent of Europe.

The Danish Revolt THE most spectacular new menace

to Germany's crumbling edifice comes characteristically from the weakest of Germany's victims: characteristically, because revolt in the weakest quarter proves the extent to which Germany's foundations are undermined.

In the spring of 1940, when the exultant bombers and panzers smashed their way to the North Sea coast, Denmark was the only invaded country that did not even attempt to defend herself. While the Netherlands, Belgium and France bravely resisted, short-lived as was the resistance, Denmark did not fire a single shot, but opened her gates without ado.

But Denmark is the first of the victims to have organised a revolt so comprehensively and so threateningly that the German military last week-end had to declare martial law, imprison the King, dismiss the Government, and in effect begin the work of military conquest that Denmark herself three years ago made unnecessary. This fact is of strategic importance at a time when Germany, strained to the full in the east, holding on desperately in the south, and manning the western wall against a daily expected invasion on the grand scale, has not a man, nor a gun, nor a bomb to spare.

Bulgaria a Symptom THE death of King Boris is ex plained by Turkish comment— and Turkey is near enough, and interested enough, not to make her diagnosis lightly—as virtual assassination at the hands of the German authorities who suspected him, not without reason, of " double-crossing." It is the traditional Turkish view of Bulgarian political mentality to assume that the Bulgarian leaders, with almost cynical impartiality, will welcome whichever invader happens at the moment to invite such respect. When Germany invaded the Balkans the Allies were non-existent as a factor of military consequence, so far as Bulgaria immediately was concerned.

When, however, Sir George Bendel. the British Minister, left Sofia and warned the country that she would regret that moment, Bulgarian opinion was blandly alive to the possibility that he might be right.

To-day it is Allied bombs that show the stronger argument: and moreover the Slav sympathies of the Bulgarian people are involved in the consideration that Russia is one of

the Allies. Boris, therefore, fell under German suspicion, whether or not the Turkish charge be true that the Germans murdered him.

If and when the Allied Armies, with or without Turkish participation, cross the Thracian frontier into Bulgaria, the Bulgarian people and leaders will offer them the same sort of empty welcome that they formerly offered the Germans. The Germans, now on the defensive and recognising that their power is waning, are making a desperate attempt in Bulgaria (as in Denmark) to buttress their outposts.

The Italian Gap THE withdrawal of Italy from the position of an occupying Power in the Balkans has made an immense difference to the general moral of

the Balkan peoples. A greater strain is put upon the German occupying troops. The mental strain put upon them is even greater than the military: for the moment the Allies are in possession of the heel of Italy, the road will be wide open. through Albania, not only to the Balkans, but to Central Europe; not only to Bulgaria and Greece, but to Jugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland. The tide is running fast. The small Powers, with their unerring judgment of the fortunes of war as between the Great Powers (their masters), by their present attitude not only illustrate, but contribute to, the loosening of Germany's hold on the Continent of Europe.

CHURCHILL'S SPEECH I T • is a main strategic purpose of Mr. Churchill's oratory at the present time to keep the enemy guessing, a pre-occupation which may substantially achieve at least part of the object postulated by Marshal Stalin in withdrawing German divisions from the Eastern Front.

Seldom has a national leader had so delicate or so difficult a function to perform as had Mr. Churchill on Tuesday. Never was the poise of Mr. Churchill's agile brain better illustrated than by his equal courtesy and charm to each of the Allied nations—including France—at a moment when the honest conviction of those nations is pulling them in slightly divergent directions,

In these 'circumstances it could not be expected that Mr. Churchill would make any " special announcement." He had something harder to do, and he did it with his accustomed skill.

The United States is naturally more concerned with Japan than with Germany, and even fears that British opinion might sit back and think the war was over as soon as Germany surrendered. Russia only wants a full fighting front in France to divert at least fifty German divisions from the Eastern Front. Great Britain (who in these matters nor mally finds herself between the devil and the deep blue sea) would naturally like to put Hitler " in the bag " and take down the blackout curtains before concentrating upon Japan and, while appreciating the Russian hypothesis, happens to have not only the second but a third and fourth front already on her hands, one of them being the Atlantic, where the shipping that would be needed for a front in France is vatlrtaeladsyuppenlige:ged in the service of But we are sure that the problem has been solved so far as Britain and the United States are concernet. by the Quebec and Washington talks.

The Russian Aspect MR. Churchill has publicly floated the idea of a meeting between himself, Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Stalin. In the meantime, Mr. Maisky has returned to London r on Tuesday made contact with Mr. Eden at the Foreign Office. " Th President and I will persevere," said Mr. Churchill on Tuesday, " in our efforts to meet Marshal Stalin, and in the meantime it seems most necessary and urgent that a conference of the British, United States and Russian Foreign Ministers, or their responsible representatives, should be held at some convenient place." That preliminary meeting has in fact now taken place in London, where the American Ambassador is available for consultation. There could be no more eloquent symbol of its " urgency " (Mr. Churchill's own words) than the fact that it took place on the fourth anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, for whose defence we declared war on Germany.

ANGLO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS mR. Brendan Bracken's outspoken words at Quebec about references to a separate peace between Russia and Germany must be read in their geographical setting. It is no secret that anti-Russian feeling in certain quarters in the Western hemisphere runs to a far higher and more dangerous pitch than anything which exists in this country. In so far as this hostility springs from the defence of purely financial interests— which it does far more in America than here—the condemnation is clearly opportune and we can echo it. So far however as it is genuinely, if mistakenly, based on opposition to atheistic materialism then Catholics must at least avoid swinging to the opposite extreme of adulation.

The curious fact is that the two extremes, of hatred and adulation of Russia, each tend to produce something very like what the Minister of Information was condemning. An article by the editors of the Tribune in last week's issue, called " The Anglo-Russian Crisis," sets out to emphasise the difficulties of AngloSoviet relations and stresses the official Soviet support accorded to the Free German Committee which, as the writers set out to prove, "would be prepared to deal with a German Government which had overthrown Hitler and withdrawn behind the frontier in the East." The article continued, " This, however. is not an official policy—yet."

The point is that lovers and haters of the Soviet seem to get themselves into the same difficulty, the former blaming the Allies and the latter blaming Stalin. This paper claims neither distinction, but has always urged a realistic facing up to certain divergencies of interest, believing that these will not lessen by being ignored but that it is still possible to overcome them by frankness. No doubt this necessary work has been begun in the conferences between Mr. Eden and M. Maisky.


THE recognition of the French National Committee has brought relief, in which all shades of opinion will genuinely and spontaneously share. The task now is to ensure the working of the recognition in the same spirit of united relief and satisfaction, and to avoid attempts on the one hand to limit the terms and on the other hand to extend them.

The differences in the form of recognition by the three principal Powers are not without significance. The British recognition is limited to the conduct of the war and of all French civil affairs arising out of it; it does not extend to any de Judo governing powers in France pending election of a permanent Government. The American recognition does not extend to civil affairs, and this apparently leaves the Committee without any direct control over French funds held by the United States. The Russian recognition extends to conduct of the war and to all French civil affairs, and contains no restriction upon the Corrunittee's post-war authority in France pending elections.

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