The Charlotte News
Sunday, April 2, 1939
Was It Hesitation--Or Guile?
Hitler's Speech Sounds Like The First, But He May Be Singing A Siren Song To Mr. Bumble
When Lord Hitler should have had his speech at Wilhelmshaven cut off the radio yesterday is a mystery, unless, indeed, he wanted to keep the German people from finding out what tone and what words old Mr. Bumble used when he spoke up for England Friday. For on the face of the meagre reports available immediately afterward, he seems to have decided that for the nonce at least discretion was the better part of valor and that he would do well to lay off threats and pronouncements of his will to terrorize Poland regardless.
Certainly, he is hard put to it for thunder when the most ferocious threat he can think up is that of canceling his naval agreement with Britain if she persists in her will to stop his march of conquest. In a naval race with the great island power, he would be merely ridiculous. Her navy is at least five times as great as his at the moment. And she has nine great capital ships, from 35,000 to 40,000 tons, building or already authorized, in addition to about 200 lesser ships. It would take him at least ten years, even with his enforced methods, to build up to her as she will stand. And what is more, he hasn't the money and probably can't get it in a country where 40 percent of the national income already goes for his expenditures, and which may go bankrupt any week. What is more still, England does have the wealth, and would probably use it, to double and even triple her present establishment and program if he attempted to compete.
And as for the remarks to Poland that she had better watch out about "pulling chestnuts out of the fire for others" lest she get her fingers burned--could that be Adolf? It sounds a great deal more like the admonishments of the Mr. Bumble of the Munich period.
Nevertheless, it is well to remember that the fellow is extremely slippery. All the evidence to date suggested he may really be a great and subtle master of tactics. And in appearing to fall back, he may actually be displaying a cunning understanding of Mr. Bumble's psychology--may be moving with an eye to persuading him anew that all can be fixed by "appeasement," and so giving himself more time to get in position to strike again.
And if that should be true, and if Mr. Bumble should actually succumb to such an idea, it would be nothing less than tragic. The effect of firm action is already indicated. Hitler can be halted. There is a very good prospect, indeed, that his regime which keeps the whole world in a stew and everywhere holds back recovery from the great depression, may collapse from within. And the best way to assure that is for the democratic countries--all of them--not to retreat but to grow firmer and firmer and at the same time turn the economic screws ever tighter and tighter. That method involves the possibility that he may resort to desperate moves and bring on war. But if he is allowed to go on, war is inevitable soon or late. And this seems at least to offer some chance of heading it off.
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