22.6.40

No real news yet of the German terms to France. They are said to be “so complicated” as to need long discussion. I suppose one may assume that what is really happening is that the Germans on the one side and Petain[1] and Co. on the other are trying to hammer out a formula that will induce the French commanders in the colonies and the navy to surrender. Hitler has in reality no power over those except through the French government….I think we have all been rather hasty in assuming that Hitler will now invade England, indeed it has been so generally expected that one might almost infer from this that he wouldn’t do it….If I were him I should march across Spain, seize Gibraltar, and then clean up North Africa and Egypt. If the British have a fluid force of say ¼ million men, the proper course would be to transfer it to French Morocco, then suddenly seize Spanish Morocco and hoist the Republican flag. The other Spanish colonies could be mopped up without much trouble. Alas, no hope of any such thing happening.

The Communists are apparently swinging back to an anti-Nazi position. This morning picked up a leaflet denouncing the “betrayal” of France by Petain and Co., although till a week or two ago these people were almost openly pro-German.

[1] Henri Philippe Petain (1856-1951), successful defender of Verdun in 1916, which led to his being regarded as a national hero, was created a Marshal of France in 1918. He became premier in 1940, presided over the defeat and dismemberment of France by the Germans, and led the occupied zone’s Vichy government until war’s end. He was tried for collaboration with the Nazis and sentenced to death. President de Gaulle commuted his sentence to solitary confinement for life. Peter Davison

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10 Responses to 22.6.40

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 22.6.40 « THE ORWELL PRIZE -- Topsy.com

  2. “If I were him [Hitler] I would march across Spain, seize Gibraltar, and then clean up North Africa and Egypt”

    I like that expression “clean up”. It means in Orwell’s mind that the British will send 250,000 soldiers to Spanish Morocco on on some kind of Boy’s Own adventure, presumably to stop the “clean up”. Talk about taking your eye off the ball. Was the whole nation thinking along those lines or only the average Daily Telegraph reader such as George? It seems incredible with hindsight.

  3. Stephen says:

    Suggests that, for all his other admirable qualities, GO was no strategist.

  4. Max says:

    Come on, now. Orwell was realistic enough to see that what he had in mind would never happen and he was right in one sense – the turning of the tide against Hitler in the began in North Africa with the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, even before the Battle of Stalingrad, the other great critical set-back for the Nazis that year. And put his remarks in context and think of some of the hair-brained ideas which Churchill and others came up with during that war.

  5. Max says:

    Come on, now. Orwell was realistic enough to see that what he had in mind would never happen and he was right in one sense – the turning of the tide against Hitler began in North Africa with the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942, even before the Battle of Stalingrad, the other great critical set-back for the Nazis that year. And put his remarks in context and think of some of the hair-brained ideas which Churchill and others came up with during that war.

  6. anonymouser says:

    @ Stephen: How so?

    I see keen strategic insight. The British gov’t was preparing to face an invasion, but not him… he was dreaming of expeditions and already beginning to see that Hitler’s position was strategically weak. This, on the eve of Germany’s greatest victory in the West. What a mind.

    Could the war have been lost if Franco had taken Gibraltar, at Hitler’s urgings?

  7. itwasntme says:

    Franco was imune to Hitler’s charms, unlike Stalin. Tough old bird that Franco, he outlasted ‘em all and died in his sweet sleep.

  8. jhameac says:

    RE: Invasion of England

    What I think has been overlooked in these comments so far is his turn of thought just prior to the arm chair generalizing; “…indeed it has been so generally expected that one might almost infer from this that he wouldn’t do it.” GO would be a contrarian investor it would seem.

    I think anonymouser’s comments spot on regarding the Nazi’s strategic weaknesses. Sealing the Mediterranean makes immediate sense. At this late stage there were still enough supporters of detente with the German regime that time could have been bought to consolidate their position IMVHO.

  9. Uh-huh, Adolf was a cutie all right. Josef played him, with one hand, like a balalaika while, with the other, he starved vast populations everywhere he could possibly reach in an effort to reach for more. Prestidigitation is a Politburo tradition.

    My mother’s mother yearned for the days before the Bolsheviks. She didn’t think much of Americans and probably soon regretted following her daughter to Columbus OH.

    So, yes, I hate Stalin more than I hate Hitler whom I hate more than Mao.

    I heard names like Franco and De Gaulle in the news into my teens, so I’m ambivalent toward them. I was 19 and stationed at Fort Riley (Manhattan KS) when they buried Eisenhower in Abilene KS in a chapel on the grounds of his Presidential Library, alongside Mamie and Doud.

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