GENERAL ARTICLES

This Must Not Happen.

WILLIAM D. BAYLES August 1 1944
GENERAL ARTICLES

This Must Not Happen.

WILLIAM D. BAYLES August 1 1944

This Must Not Happen.

WILLIAM D. BAYLES

Germany, beaten in war, lays plans to win the peace --by setting us against the Russians, says this writer

NO RUSSIAN soldier will ever set foot on German soil except over the corpse of the last German defender.”

“But if Germany were losing a two-front war?”

“In that unlikely event we should hold our eastern front at all costs.”

This conversation, the significance of which was lost to all present, occurred at the palatial Pfaueninsel home of Dr. Joseph Goebbels in 1938, just after the Munich Agreement had been signed. Dr. Goebbels was entertaining the International Chamber of Commerce, and because at that time the Nazis were top dogs in Europe, the cynical little press agent of Nazism was willing to divert his guests by toying with the various possibilities in Europe’s coming war.

“We in Germany know,” he explained, “what Russian occupation would mean.”

“What about occupation by the western powers?” someone asked.

“We’ve had that before,” Dr. Goebbels snapped. “At worst, an unpleasant interim.

“There is one fact you gentlemen from abroad should not overlook,” he continued, turning from one to the other of us with a quick icy smile. “Even defeated, Germany’s geographical position would give her a trump card strong enough to match either of her opponents. Instead of the central bulwark she now is, a supine Germany would become a broad avenue between the Bolshevik east and Democratic west, a situation which, I think you will agree, would be most unpleasant.”

Today, after nearly five years of war, we see Germany cautiously preparing to play her geo-

graphical trump. Although the Moscow agreement has reduced its chances of winning, it has confirmed the certainty that the trump will be played. It is therefore important that we have a look at this trump and attempt to see what is going on in the mind of the Germany player. For unless the Allied powers have prepared their defense against it, their inevitable victory may again be pared down to a hollow pirrase in the mouths of another lost generation.

“No Russian will ever set foot on German soil except over the corpse of the last German defender.” The desperate finality of this statement is based on more than political or military considerations. It goes to the primeval roots of the Slavonic and Teutonic civilizations. Since the dawn of Europe the Germans have fought the westward movement of the more prolific Slavs. East Prussia is today a German island entirely surrounded by Poles, and Czechoslovakia is thrust like a fist into the very belly of Germany. The German counterforce is generally referred to as the “Drang nach dem Osten.” Bolshevism merely added a political timeliness to the age-old feud and Hitler seized upon it to give the struggle a new, popular twist.

The Russian attitude toward Germany is the cold hatred and contempt of the giant for the pigmy who, by seizing the opportune moment and exploiting every advantage, has managed to outwit him time after time. Germany, on the other hand, is obsessed with a fear-envy complex in the face of the more virile, tougher Slavs. German war correspondents cannot conceal it, and such fear-expressive phrases as “Aufbruch der Steppe” (uprising of the steppes) or “Anprall der Mongolen” (impact of the Mongols) stand

out in their reports, which describe the Russian advance as something overwhelming—like an earthquake or tidal wave. They are overawed by tke Russian soldiers, who never quit, who seemingly are immune to fatigue, cold and hunger. Tales even of the prodigious quantities Russians can eat and drink are printed in the German press.

“One Will Win”

rpHE head of an important Russian military mission X to London expressed briefly the traditional Russian view. He said, "The war in Europe is essentially between Germany and Russia. One mf us will win it. If it is Germany then Russia will cease forever to exist as a united nation. If we win we shall impose such a peace that Germuny will never again attack us.”

Compare this with the semihysterical tone of an order of the day by the late Field Marshal Walther von Reichenau commanding his troops to wage war with “extreme ruthlessness.” “We must be cruel,” he wrote. “We are fighting a war of utter annihilation against an inhuman foe. If the enemy wins, we die.” In similar vein the Voelhischer Beobachter advised, “Better extinguish your entire family than deliver it to the Bolsheviks.” One thing the Russians have made unmistakably clear: unconditional surrender and, in the words of Stalin, “the destruction of the Hitlerite State and those who inspired it . . . Hitler’s

army . . . and the New Order and its builders” have priority over any state-building in Germany. Russia’s reparation claims against Germany are also not to be affected. These are being solidly studied, and in addition to equipment Russian experts have estimated that at least five million German workers will have to be employed in Russia to rebuild cities and industries destroyed by the Germans. It is significant that Field Marshal von Paulus, commander of the Stalingrad Army, was not allowed to join the Free German movement which Russia allowed his captured troops to form. Stalin personally denounced him as a war criminal and he is being held for trial. “Our people,” he declared in his last speech, “will not forgive the German monsters their atrocious crimes. We shall bring the German criminals to book.”

Continued on page 34

This Must Not Happen!

Continued, from page 11

When the Germans first invaded Russia, Soviet propaganda called on the people to expel the “GermanFascist invaders,” and uneasiness grew in the west over the implied differentiation between Germans and Nazis. Russian commentators and writers reporting to their own people have never made this distinction between Germans and Nazis, which a Soviet diplomat in London explained early in the war as “a matter of political propaganda tactics.” The ordinary Soviet soldier and peasant know who is guilty of the bestial cruelties carried out in Russia.

“When the war began,” Wendell Willkie quotes the distinguished Soviet leader, General Ignatiev, as saying, “we all sought out German prisoners. We cross-examined them. We wanted to find out why they had invaded our land. We found out many interesting things about the Germans and about what the Nazis had done to them. But now it is different. Since the offensive last winter, when we pushed the Germans back and recaptured many towns and villages they had taken, we feel differently. We have seen with our eyes what the Germans did to our people and our homes.”

The picture of the Eastern Front is grim and bloody—a fight to death.

Neither side gives nor expects quarter Her ally gone and facing defeat, Germany’s only hope today lies in the west, at the hands of the Allied nations. The “unlikely event” forecast by Dr. Goebbels is at hand, and there is every reason for assuming that German strategists will carry out the Goebbels’ prediction: hold the eastern front at all costs, and in the west face the “unpleasant interim.” For only in this way can the Germans complete the third part of the Goebbels prophecy— play the trump card geography placed in her hand.

Defiance Softens

It is fairly easy to reconstruct the picture in the west when, once her initial resistance has cracked, Germany’s snarl of defiance suddenly softens to a snivel of supplication, Nazism disappears with the same facility that attended the demise of Fascism, and a new government—Pastor Niemoeller has been mentioned in “Free German” circles as its head— earnestly begs for honorable terms of surrender.

Meanwhile the occupation of western Germany is in progress. American and British soldiers march through devastated Cologne, where garlands and the Allied colors pitifully hide the battered transept of the cathedral, and carefully scrubbed little boys and girls are placed along the streets to shout “Will-

kommenƒ” The shop windows are empty, the faces pale and drawn from undernourishment, but there is a courageous lightheartedness in the air and the chief remark one hears is, “Thank God it’s over and we can all have peace again.”

I shuddered when I heard Dr. Ley, the brutal boss of German labor, once say, “If we could only bring our opponents to Germany we could convert them all in a fortnight. German charm under National Socialist guidance is one of our surest weapons.” Fighting men, unaccustomed to guile, welcomed with music and flowers instead of bayonets, and organized German charm pouring from wide-open vents. (Note: So many American

soldiers in the army of occupation married German girls in 1918-19 that the German Government felt obliged to warn the Rhineland inhabitants that the war was not yet officially over.) Perhaps there is even a supply of prewar strength beer, thoughtfully ordered by Adolf Hitler before he went to the eastern front as a humble corporal.

The troops meet what appears to them as a simple, friendly people valiantly trying to suppress anarchy at home while staving off a formidable menace threatening to break in from the east. No soldier has seen a single swastika, and the implication is carefully fostered that actually the only Nazism that ever existed was in the minds of foreign politicians who devised this diabolical scheme to turn the world against Germany. Germany’s services in protecting the world from Bolshevism are loudly proclaimed and signs of appreciation are eagerly sought among the occupying authorities.

This is the personal picture; the political one is packed with more ominous possibilities. No organized group aside from the Army and Gestapo exists, and there is no king or president to appoint a successor to Hitler. A working class, trained in revolution for 25 years, becomes daily more inflamed, hampering alike attempts of AM G and the local authorities to preserve order. Some eight million conscripted foreign workers and half as many prisoners of war are still in Germany and extremely volatile. A breakdown of internal authority would turn this immense army of bitter, hating men loose on their late oppressors in such an orgy of killing, plundering, raping and burning as the world has yet to witness.

The situation is no less mercurial in the occupied countries where, in order to secure their control, the Germans methodically liquidated all political, intellectual and cultural leaders, leaving the manpower masses without enlightened guidance. The Gestapo is still intact and under the command perhaps of its founder, Hermann Goering, or an appointee of his less tarred with the brush of Nazism than Heinrich Himmler. Its allegiance is to the Right, to the conservative forces of industry, the landowners and the Army, and it can be used as a powerful instrument to suppress the chaos that would inevitably result were the dozens of underground political groups allowed to march into the city squares and fight for power. The church, both Catholic and Lutheran, is another great force which can be counted on to exert its influence on the side of conservatism and the Army.

Meanwhile the Army desperately needed at home is fighting a rear-guard battle in the east, and the barometer of unrest in Germany is governed by the approach of war through the plains of Poland to the borders of the Reich. The entire problem, foreseen and carefully studied by the brains trust of German leadership while A MG officials

were learning elementary German and ' the principles of sanitation, finally lands squarely in the lap of the Allies.

Want Allied Succor

Although the Germans are far too clever strategists to lay their cards on the table, the game they are playing is becoming increasingly obvious. Since July 15 of last year, when the Nazi summer offensive collapsed and the : Soviet counterattack began, important ! Germans have publicly denounced both Nazism and Bolshevism in Stocki holm, Ankara, Lisbon and other ! neutral capitals, then, their mission ! completed, they returned to Germany. ! Appearing in Stockholm, Von Kuehl¡ mann, who in 1917 tried to make peace j on behalf of the Kaiser, emphasized ; his hatred of Nazism before expressing I loud hope that the world would recogI nize in time the Russian menace. “Escapes” to neutral cities were I achieved by no less than five correspon| dents of the recently suppressed | Frankfurter Zeitung. Each of them has j succeeded in getting his story on the \ international news wires, a story of 1 bleak despair inside Germany as the ¡ people face a menace far greater than Nazism.

There is also ample evidence that the German people are not only hoping for Allied succor but are counting on it, and that their hopes are being officially encouraged. On arriving in Stockholm, repatriated Allied prisoners from prison camps scattered throughout Germany described almost identical attitudes they had observed in German civilians.

“They know they are finished,” declared a British infantryman from a camp located in Silesia near the Polish frontier. “Their womenfolk pray daily for the Allies to be there. They want to see the British Army in Germany because to them the Russians are an unknown quantity.”

A Scottish lieutenant released from a camp near Nuremberg in south Germany reported: “The thought of the

Red Army marching through their towns and villages strikes terror into the hearts of every one of them. They feel they would be safer in Allied hands.”

“Their greatest hope,” declared a British soldier from a camp near Berlin, “is that the British and Americans will reach Berlin first.”

An English chaplain, who had been given comparative freedom and had mingled daily with German civilians in travelling between prison camps, reported, “German civilians don’t fear the British or Americans, although they recognize that Allied victory is certain. Russia is the skeleton behind the door. They are beginning to see the ghost walking.”

The Nazi press has consistently encouraged this attitude. “Never forget,” exhorted a prominent west ' German newspaper, “that the bloodiest feuds are between brothers. Even as ; our cities crumble upon our unfortun; ate comrades, let us properly judge ¡ this dreadful fratricidal war between j Germany and England. We ourselves I are not without guilt, since we dealt the first blows, and today we feel the angry might of a proud nation exacting vengeance. But it is the law of life that blood brothers unite in the face of a common foe. Let us bear our suffering in the full knowledge that men of like race inspired by like ideals of selfrespect and honor will ultimately take up the sword together against the mortal foe of both their nations.”

Commenting on the prospect of a second front, a writer in Dr. Goebbels’ personal propaganda organ, Das Reich, pointed out: “The military leaders in ancient Greece made the important discovery that two enemies are often

I better than one. Actually history j records few instances in which a city or I nation under simultaneous attack by ; two separate enemies was not able to turn the one foe against the other and 1 thus extricate itself. A second major j front in Europe would bring the western powers in contact with Russia through the medium of Germany. Of i the three antagonists the laws of history j pronounce the central power-—in this j case Germany—the winner.” Repatrij ated British prisoners reported that the ! chief comment German civilians made i on the second front was to enquire i eagerly, “When are the Tommies j coming?”

This is the war and peace problem as I seen by Germany, and as it is being worked out today by millions of I German council-table and coffee-table

strategists. A careful weighing of the situation leads to the unavoidable conclusion that Germany expects:

1. Allied forces to occupy the important centres of Germany while Russian forces are still outside the German frontier.

2. The accomplished fact of Allied military occupation, plus economic and diplomatic pressure, to keep the Russians out of Germany.

Should German expectations be fulfilled, Germans know how the world drama would end. Russia, aloof and mistrustful, withdraws again into her vast expanses of land; England creeps back to her water-bound lair; America, embittered and disillusioned from another European adventure, returns to isolationism, leaving beaten Germany again the arbiter of world peace.