The Charlotte News
Saturday, June 8, 1940
A Look Into the Hold of Ship at Wilmington
From an Associated Press dispatch from Wilmington, N.C., we cull the following:
The ordering of all Italian ships to neutral ports today found the Italians steamer Villaperosa, 3,621 tons, loading scrap iron at the docks here.
It pretty well sums up the case. What do you suppose Italy wants with scrap iron? Why, to build war machines, of course--tanks, planes, armored trucks, war ships, shells, guns. A very great part of her war equipment at present was made out of American iron--pig and scrap. And no little part of it was, for that matter, made into war machines in American factories, just as a great part of Mr. Hitler's war machine was made there.
We are very much worried about that Mr. Hitler and about Italy these days. In the last two weeks we have appropriated two billion dollars precisely because of this Mr. Hitler and his Roman jackal, their war machines. And we have begun to realize that we shall have to spend many billions more--billions coming out of the pockets of every American. Moreover, we have begun to realize also that our fate is bound up with what happens to the Allies, to send war machines with which to smash Hitler and his stooge in Italy.
But even as we do all that, an Italian ship loads at Wilmington with scrap iron to build more war machines to kill Englishmen and Frenchmen--to bring the conqueror closer and closer to ourselves. Business, you know, is business.
Churchill Puts Official Stamp on Charges
Mr. Churchill seems pretty well to have settled the argument about King Leopold of Belgium. In his speech Tuesday he said:
King Leopold ... and his brave and efficient army ... guarded our eastern flank and this kept open our only line of retreat to the sea... Without prior consultation ... he sent a plenipotentiary to the German command surrendering his army and exposing our flank and means of retreat. The surrender ... compelled the British Army at the shortest notice to cover a flank to the sea of more than 30 miles in length... The enemy attacked on all sides...
There is, of course, the question of the truth of that. But it was a full dress occasion--in which lying is not usual. And the whole record of Churchill bears out the idea that he is a man of almost ferocious candor and one who would scorn to cast undeserved aspersions on the character of another.
And if the statement is true, then there can be no other judgment than that Leopold ratted out. The Belgian armies were not broken. And it is no argument to say that Leopold just could not stand the sight of the slaughter, the everlasting press of cold steel. A man who cannot stand that sight, who cannot face cold steel for himself as well as his men, has no business setting up to command armies. His father, Albert, stood it, faced it, for four solid years.
The News Covers all Fronts and Phases of War
It is too bad that all the pages in a newspaper can't be front pages. Those few indifferent persons who only look at the screaming headlines never know what else they miss.
As in yesterday's News, for example, War dominated the front page, naturally, and a good many of the inside pages too. The front page stories recounted for the main the action of war: whereas inside the action of the war was held up and examined.
Partisans of the Allies must have been unable to repress a thrill of righteous satisfaction at the picture on Page 9 of the German Heinkel bomber disintegrating in the air after a direct hit. Beneath this picture, DeWitt MacKenzie's advice to watch for Nazi flanking movements as the key to the Battle of the French Rivers was instructive as usual.
On the editorial page, the article captioned "Our Air Pilots" was informative, would have been highly impressive if the identity of the source could have been disclosed. Interesting, too, was the story on Page 11 from Berlin, to the effect that the Nazis had oil reserves for eight months which they were (just) beginning to touch.
The detail map of Italy on Page 13 introduced an ominous note, as did the story beneath it about lights burning of nights in the War Department Building in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Bringing up the rear of all this terrible intelligence, way back on Page 24, was William L. White's daily article. Bill White's stuff is, to our mind, superior to anything else of its kind in this war. He has so recently circulated among the people, high and low, of all these worried nations, that he seems to speak with first-hand knowledge.
And yesterday he was analyzing the difference between Allied and Nazi air forces. He summed it up like this--the British and French flyers flew super planes and were graduate pilots of the air schools, whereas the Nazis, except for their squadron leaders, were more like chauffeurs and they flew stock models which could be turned out by the thousands.
Whether Mussolini Has Decided Is Still Doubtful
Whether or not Mussolini means to go to war within the next few days is a question which only he can answer. The one thing certain about him is that he is a completely cynical opportunist and a realist--save as his megalomania interferes.
He is perfectly well aware of the danger he runs in going to war, and wants so far as possible to bet on a sure thing. He knows that if he goes in and the war is a stalemate he shall probably have to sue for peace within three months unless he can succeed in breaking the hold on the Mediterranean of the British and French navies, a thing which is exceedingly improbable.
Italy is more dependent on outside supplies than any other country in Europe--supplies which must come by way of the Mediterranean for the most part, for Germany manifestly has her hands full in supplying her own armies and civilian population, did not meet any considerable part of Mussolini's need. And Italy has been much too poor to lay in large surplus stocks of coal, oil, wheat, etc. as Germany has done, despite Mussolini's frenzied efforts. Authorities are agreed that three months is about the limit.
Moreover, Mussolini has an internal problem such as Hitler does not have. All observers report positively that the Italian people generally do not want to go to war, that the "spontaneous demonstrations" we have seen from day to day were engineered by the Fascist leaders. And the Italian people are considerably less sheep-like than the Germans, have never been reduced to the abject slavery to Fascism which Nazism has imposed on its dupes.
If Mussolini goes to war, patriotism will flare up of course. And if, and so long as, he can furnish his people victories, he will command their increasing enthusiasm. But in his cooler moments, the Duce must be aware that it is far from certain that he can furnish such victories. The Italian soldier has always done very well in swift attack where the odds were fairly favorable to him. But he always has lost hard before such difficulties as the French and Swiss passes offer, before such conditions as he will encounter in Africa or the Balkans. And it is more than possible that the British and French fleets may destroy the Italian fleet within a few days after Mussolini's entry. The Italian morale would probably collapse under any great defeat or even under the prospect of stalemate.
What Mussolini would like to have, therefore, is the virtual destruction of France before he enters the war. At the least, he craves to be certain that the Nazis can win the Battle of France and take Paris.
But it may be also that he believes that at the crucial moment in that battle a blow delivered by himself may shatter French morale and make the knockout easy. So it is well within the range of possibility that he is actually planning to go to war in a few days. On the other hand, it is also possible that all his moves are merely an extension of the game he has been playing all along--a game designed to aid Hitler by keeping the Allies perpetually alarmed about what he (Mussolini) intends, so that they have to watch him with forces which might otherwise be put to use in the north.
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.
') } //-->