The Charlotte News

Saturday, September 9, 1939


Site Ed. Note: For a visual overview of Europe in September, 1939, see enlargeable map.

If Poland Falls

Hitler Will Still Have To Keep Army In The Land

If the Poles succeed in keeping the Nazis from grabbing all of Poland in the next four or five weeks, the case will turn out much as it turned out in 1914.

It seems to have been generally forgotten that the Germans conquered western Poland, then of course a part of Russia, in the first month of the last war. The Russians threatened for a moment, but were overwhelmed at the Battle of Tannenberg, Aug. 26-29, 1914. But having reached the Vistula, where the Nazis are now, the Germans made little further progress and in mid-October, when the howling Polish Winter struck, settled down in their trenches to wait for Spring.

Supposing, however, that the Germans do succeed in overrunning the whole land before the Winter descends? Does it follow that England and France must fight on the Western Front alone? And that they are bound to lose such a fight?

Not at all. In the first place, overrunning Poland and conquering it are two different things. Granting the destruction of the Polish armies, which hasn't even begun yet, guerrilla warfare is sure to spring up over the whole land. In 1917-18 Germans found it necessary to maintain an army of half a million men in the Ukraine to keep it under control. To hold Poland it is certainly going to take almost as many men as it takes to overrun it. And in that case, Poland's value to the Allies will be almost as great as though she were still actively engaged in the field.

Furthermore, if the parallel with the Ukraine means anything, Poland is not going to be any valuable base of food supplies to Hitler. The peasants of the Ukraine fled away from their farms whenever the soldier approached and the fields were strangely sterile, for a handful of salt will turn any wheatfield barren.

In The Balkans

They May Not Fall Into His Lap, After All

There is the possibility, of course, that the fall of Poland may scare the other Balkan nations into fits and move them to seek what terms they can get from Hitler. And that Russia may be moved to greater co-operation with him. Naturally, that would mean the opening of vast reservoirs of supplies.

But this is far from certain. The effect on the Balkans may in fact be to frighten them so for their own existence that they will make common front against him. Rumania is doubly frightened and desperate since he has taken up his flirtation with the devils of Russia and Communism; Greece and Jugoslavia have long been resolved to fight against him if they must fight.

The key here is Italy. So long as she stays "neutral," the Balkans will do so, for both Jugoslavia and Greece are very much afraid that she will take advantage of any move on their part to pounce on their backs. It is increasingly clear, moreover, that her "neutrality" is only a blind behind which she proposes to serve as a base of supplies for Hitler, and that in any case it is so precarious as to be more perilous for the Allies than having her as an open foe. Hence, it is not at all unlikely that before many months they will confront her with the choice between giving some positive guarantee of neutrality, such as demobilizing her armies and interning the major portion of her navy, and submitting to a partial blockade, or going to war on one side or the other.

If she is effectually immobilized, the Balkans will be relieved of her threat, and placed in the position to make common front with England and France and Turkey--a way may be opened for England and France to strike Hitler from the rear. On the other hand, if Mussolini goes in with Hitler, French armies are certain to invade his country and strike for the Brenner Pass. And the British Navy is equally certain to concentrate on destroying his sea power and clearing the Mediterranean. In that case, too, the Balkans will be relieved from his threat and are even more likely than in the first case to make common cause with the Allies.

But supposing they do, supposing that they all fall into the Hitler camp? What then? This for one thing: England has Turkey for an ally and a base this time, a thing which outweighs all her Balkan allies the last time, and which enables her to strike through the Balkans once they take the plunge on the other side. And as for the resources he will have: after 1914, Germany had Poland. After 1916 she had Rumania. And after the collapse of Russia in early 1917--for a year and half--she had a quarter of Russia, including the much advertised storehouse of the Ukraine. Nevertheless, the British Navy, with some help from the American, successfully struck home with its starvation program in just that period.

All About Divorce

An Explanation, Slight Consolation, A Declaration

One day last week a new record for divorces was set in Mecklenburg Superior Court. Twain after twain were made ones again. By lunchtime--and the Court eats early--29 divorces had been granted. More came after recess.

It's all very disillusioning and to the romantic among us, and, indeed, the last thing we want to do is to appear cynical about it, most of these divorces are the culmination of personal tragedies, and readers of that candid series of articles which appeared in The News some time ago, "Divorce If You Must," had begun to suspect the state of single re-blessedness is not all it has been cracked up to be.

But there is an explanation to be made of these many divorces in Mecklenburg, and some consolation to be derived from them.

A border county and a populous county, Mecklenburg gets discredit for a great many severed ties that began first to fray in South Carolina. South Carolina's constitution is unique among the 48 states for allowing no divorce. And so residence is established in North Carolina, and the job, in time, is done.

And as for consolation, Old Man Henry Mencken proved in his survey of the states some years ago that there is a direct, but wholly inexplicable, relation between divorce rates and general culture. That is, a state high up in the divorce tables is likely to be high up in the tables of health, wealth, and popular enlightenment.

However, statistics are a poor substitute for enduring affection.

The Lie Front

It's Pretty Easy To Spot The Leader In This Fight

The one certain thing about what goes on in Europe is that somebody is lying. The French say that their northern wing has driven seven or eight miles into German territory, is now entering the rich mining region of the Saar and moving upon Trier, the celebrated old Roman station on the Moselle which in modern times has become an important industrial city. Until yesterday the Nazis resolutely maintained that not a shot had been fired. Yesterday they admitted that shots might have been fired, but insisted that it was nonsense to talk of any widespread action or to suggest that any German territory had been taken.

Yesterday also, what appeared to be the Warsaw radio station "confessed" that the Germans had entered the city, advised citizens to surrender and get rid of arms lest they be punished. Then another station cut in elsewhere on the band, reported that it was the Warsaw station, that the Germans had stolen its frequency, and that the claims were lies designed to panic people of the Polish capital.

Probably everybody is lying to some extent. But old listeners to the German shortwave stations will have a very strong clue to where the weight of the lying rests. Or new ones for that matter.

Thus when the Athenia was reported torpedoed these stations roundly asserted that there were no German submarines in that vicinity and that the ship probably hit a British mine. Next evening, one of them flatly told us that the whole story of the sinking of the ship was a British invention, and that she was in fact continuing, untouched, on her way to Montreal! And now they are having it that Mr. Winston Churchill deliberately had her blown up from inside so as to arouse American opinion.

Or again, when the British bombers attacked Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven, DNB first reported that the Germans had shot down five of twelve planes. Next day it raised the ante and reported that they had shot down ten of them. And on the third day it announced that they had really got all twelve!

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