Background: Goebbels wrote a lead article for most issues of the weekly Das Reich, but for some reason he did not sign any leads between mid-June and mid-December 1940. My suspicion is that payment details had not been worked out, and Goebbels liked getting paid. In any event, this article is by “hf,” probably Hans Fritzsche, a writer almost as good as Goebbels. At this point Germans were still expecting an invasion of England, but Hitler had cancelled the invasion on 17 September, since the Luftwaffe had been unable to establish air superiority. This essay attempts to persuade Germans that things were still going well. Fritsche surely did not know that the invasion had been called off — he was simply following instructions to downplay the importance of the timing of an invasion.
The source: hj [Hans Fritzsche (?)], “Die überfällige Landung,” Das Reich, 29 September 1940.
The Delayed Invasion
“One must have a broad view, or else not wage war at all.” That was the core of a desperate telegram from former French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud to his college Winston Churchill, written shortly before the military catastrophe. England’s broad view for this war is: diplomatic encirclement of the Reich, sending in allies to fight first, broaden the war as much as possible, commit economic rape on neutral states, use a blockade to starve women and children, and finally bomb the civilian population.
The course of the war has shown that the English would have been better off had they not waged war in the first place. The pact with Russia demolished encirclement, the allies were all defeated, the North was taken under the military protection of the Reich, and the Balkans was restructured. As a result of Germany’s methodical preparations blockade turned out to be a dull weapon, and in fact turned out the opposite way. Instead of the Reich, England has been economically cut off from the Continent. Since the Mediterranean is unusable, scare tonnage must sail long distances over the world’s oceans. The English Channel is almost impassible given threatening German artillery and fast German patrol boats. The southern harbors are almost useless. Other ports are guarded by German U-boats, now based along the French Atlantic coast. The war of the Luftwaffe against the English coastal shipping is no less effective. A veritable hail of bombs has been falling on the docks, warehouses, wharves, and repair facilities even before 7 September. To say the least, the capacity of these facilities has not increased. A glance at the English press shows that the German blockade is already strangling England, which complains that inflation is rising or that two-thirds of hogs will have to be slaughtered by the end of the year due to lack of feed. The extension of the rationing system, which England claimed would not be necessary before the war, or the scrapping of “unneeded railway tracks and bridges” speak eloquently.
7 September revealed the weakness of England’s last major hope: Germany gave the answer with its air attacks to the war England attempted to wage against women and children. They began a hunger blockade when the war started and then bombed the civilian population. Since then German squadrons have attacked militarily important points on the island day and night, as well as the capital of the Empire. Despite censorship, reports from neutral observers give us an idea of how destructive these attacks have been. Transportation and government offices have been disorganized, inhabitants sleep by the hundreds of thousands in subway stations, large parts of industrial districts along the Thames have been destroyed, the economic heart of the country, the City, has been hit heavily. New fires break out everywhere before the old ones can be extinguished. One cannot speak of normal business life in the country’s most important city, which houses 20% of the English population. While the situation of the island, London above all, worsens from day to do, Italy is fighting with great success in Egypt and is working energetically to drive England from the Mediterranean, its key maritime position. Given the precarious situation, the familiar gallery of English politicians —beginning with Churchill and not excepting the King — has been standing before the microphone or dipping the pen in ink to say “Hitler is crowing too soon.” Their argument: Hitler has been preparing an invasion of England for months but that will be possible only when Germany has achieved air superiority. Since that has not yet happened Hitler’s plan is behind schedule: the invasion is overdue. That is very bad for us Germans, if we believe these gentlemen for a moment. They reason that the best time for invasion has already passed. They believe that Hitler thinks the “season for English Channel swimmers” is almost over, or already has passed. The fall storms are coming, raging for England’s benefit. Fog rests over the island like an ally, and once the raging elements have calmed — in the spring — an invasion will no longer be possible because England will be so much stronger as to make it invulnerable. The conclusion is that since England has not been beaten yet, it will win.
If one examines the theses more carefully, it becomes clear that they are based on vague hopes of the wind gods, the seasons, and helpful nature. They resemble arguments that the rainy season in Abyssinia would lead to the victory of the Emperor and have the same propaganda content of those claims during the French campaign that it would be half a victory if one held out another eight days. Is it not the old story about “Hitler’s strategic mistake” in Norway and “of missing the bus” [Chamberlain’s notorious phrase] that are being used in a new form? Chamberlain made himself more immortal with these legends than with his deeds. We do not think things will turn out differently for his successor, who blows the trumpets of victory because of the delayed invasion. The military thinking that builds these castles in the air proves upon closer examination to be wishful thinking with no relation to reality. In his last speech in the House of Commons, Churchill granted “the enemy’s great superiority in the air.” He claims enormous numbers of planes have been shot down, which has no relation to reality. The truth is that the German air superiority which existed at the beginning and is the prerequisite for enormous damage that has been inflicted is not decreasing, but rather increases as the English air force is decimated.
Much more important is that when Chamberlain was still prime minister, England had an undefeated ally and a battlefield on the Continent. The weapons had not yet spoken and each adversary could hope for a cheap victory. With France’s collapse, the military result of this war is sure. England can not reverse it. Even on the island, no one seriously believes that England will ever be strong enough to renew the war on the Continent. But that would be necessary were England to have a chance to win the war. A blockade is the only way to affect England’s former allies. To win the war, however, Germany must be beaten on Europe’s battlefields.
In truth, the question of whether there will be an invasion, whether it will be today or tomorrow, will not determine victory or defeat. That question is already answered by Germany’s victory on the Continent. The issue now is the date and nature of England’s collapse. This phase may be short or long. — For humanitarian reasons Germany wishes it to be as short as humanly possible. — But the Reich feels no pressure as to when it happens. As the Führer recently said in his speech at the Sport Palace [in Berlin], five years is the only limit from his point of view. This does not mean that we expect the war to last that long. The sentence rather means that Germany does not consider it a question of prestige, but rather that it wants to prepare thoroughly for the war’s end. The most recent statements from Rome are to be evaluated in the same way. They look toward eventual peace, but also seek the means by which English resistance can be best broken; it can no longer change the outcome of the war, but still hinders a peaceful new order.
The English ruling class closes its mind to the knowledge that the war can no longer be won. That explains its blindness, and its blindness explains the senselessness of the war. We know that England rests its hopes with the United States. Perhaps there are also people in the States who deceive themselves with the pleasant thought that England could still win the war because the invasion is overdue. The thinking of America’s leaders seems clearest to us in Secretary of State Hull’s question to the English government during the destroyer deal, asking whether their firm policy was neither to sink nor destroy their fleet “in the event that the waters around the British Isles become untenable for English warships in the course of the current war.” We are certain that day will come. On that day the English will realize that the overdue landing meant as little as the missed bus, that their plans were nothing but illusions that brought them a sea of blood and tears, exactly what Churchill promised them as he took office.
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