Foreign & General
1. Russo-German Pact signed. Terms given in Berlin (File War etc.)[1] suggest close pact & no “escape” clause. This evening’s radio news gives confirmation in Moscow in same terms. Official statement from Moscow that “enemies of both countries” have tried to drive Russia & Germany into enmity. Brit. Ambassador calls on Hitler & is told no action of ours can influence German decision. Japanese opinion evidently seriously angered by what amounts to German desertion of anti-Comintern pact, & Spanish (Franco) opinion evidently similarly affected. Rumania said to have declared neutrality. Chamberlain’s speech as reported on wireless very strong & hardly seems to allow loophole for escape from aiding Poles.
E. on visiting W[ar].O[ffice]. today derived impression that war is almost certain.
Police arrived this morning to arrange for billeting of soldiers. Some people (foreigners) arrived in afternoon looking for rooms – the second lot in 3 days. In spite of careful listening, impossible in pubs etc. to overhear any spontaneous comment or sign of slightest interest in the situation, in spite of fact that almost everyone when questioned believes it will be war. The Times [a]; Daily Telegraph [b]; News Chronicle [c]; Daily Express [d]; Daily Herald [e]; Daily Mail [f]; London Evening News [g]
1. Emergency Powers Act passed evidently without much trouble. Contains clauses allowing preventive arrest, search without warrant & trial in camera. But not industrial conscription as yet. [Wireless 6 pm]
2. Moscow airport was decorated with swastikas for Ribbentrop’s arrival. M. Guardian adds that they were screened so as to hide them from the rest of Moscow. Manchester Guardian [h]
Party Politics
1. C.P. putting good face on Russo-German pact which is declared to be move for peace. Signature of Anglo-Soviet pact demanded as before. D. Worker does not print terms of pact but reprints portions of an earlier Russo-Polish pact containing an “escape” clause, in order to convey impression that this pact must contain the same. Daily Worker [i]
2. In today’s debate Sinclair & Greenwood spoke strongly in support of Gov.t. Mander spoke demanding “strengthening of Cabinet”. Maxton declared I.L.P. would not support Gov.t. in war. [Wireless 6pm]

[a]The Times 24-8-39 Page 7The Times 24-8-39 Page 9The Times 24-8-39 Page 10The Times 24-8-39 Page 11The Times 24-8-39 Page 12The Times 24-8-39 Page 14 [b]Daily Telegraph 24-8-39 Page 1Daily Telegraph 24-8-39 Page 9Daily Telegraph 24-8-39 Page 12Daily Telegraph 24-8-39 Page 13 [c]NC 24-8-39 Page 1NC 24-8-39 Page 2NC 24-8-39 Page 10NC 24-8-39 Page 11NC 24-8-39 Page 13 [d]Express 24-8-39 Page 1Express 24-8-39 Page 2Express 24-8-39 Page 4Express 24-8-39 Page 5Express 24-8-39 Page 10Express 24-8-39 Page 15 [e]Daily Herald 24-8-39 Page 1Daily Herald 24-8-39 Page 2Daily Herald 24-8-39 Page 8 [f]Mail 24-8-39 Page 8Mail 24-8-39 Page 9Mail 24-8-39 Page 10Mail 24-8-39 Page 11 [g]LEN 24-8-39 Page 1LEN 24-8-39 Page 4LEN 24-8-39 Page 5LEN 24-8-39 Page 8 [h]Guardian 24-8-39 Page 9 [i]Daily Worker 24-8-39 Page 1Daily Worker 24-8-39 Page 2Daily Worker 24-8-39 Page 3Daily Worker 24-8-39 Page 4Daily Worker 24-8-39 Page 8

[1] Presumably a file Orwell kept on this subject. Possibly related to his reference ‘File S.P.1.’ Peter Davison

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19 Responses to 24.8.39.

  1. Égide says:

    I am really fascinated :

    I was not intervened on his blog then the Orwel’s were back in England.
    It’s as if I had lingered in the past of colonized Morocco thanks to small details so seemingly insignificant but so loaded with reality, that Georges Orwell had revealed.

    It’s as if I had lingered in the past of colonized Morocco because Georges Orwell had revealed so much small details and so seemingly insignificant but so loaded with reality.

    Warned by the method of curiosity eager for the systemic reality of a nation in which he lived, I never failed to find in a bookseller of La Rochelle one old review that revealed the horrible and deadly military campaign of the Rif that the French army led against the Berber rebellion (1925-26).

    But it’s a specificity of British literature to have writers capable of producing an illuminating book about a nation from the impressions taken from a residence on site during some few weeks, isn’t it ? I think at D.H. Lawrence living in a hotel five weeks in Australia and He wrote this incredible novel : Kangaroo.

    Thus Eileen is a real person whose absence from his thoughts miss to me really because its traces are so small and always indirect.

    Expressing this hope to avoid a war, despite the evidence that she finds, with a sad resignation, that it was now inevitable.

    We know, us, all the horror which will be taking place in a the few days to come.

    But these testimonies are delivering a deepness sensation to live again the grief of those persons who were just and good people.

    Orwell was very talentuous author.
    I believe I’m risking to appear as a candide fan.
    But realy, i’m not.
    I have only gratitude,a lot. That’s all.

  2. Pingback: 70 years ago « A Step At A Time

  3. itwasntme says:

    On the brink of war: planting leeks, nobody talking about it in the pubs. Well, really, what can one do about it anyway?

  4. Ali S. says:

    The growing steps towards full out war is fascinating to watch. We have the benefit of knowing what is going to happen after 60 or so years later, but imagine being there in that era as Orwell is and watching all this unfolding…not knowing how far and how brutal the war will be.

  5. AlexS says:

    Yep, it’s an excellent way of gaining a better feeling of what you can get from the media or not about the crisis affecting the world

  6. Stephen says:

    This is a wonderful post. What an image: Orwell in a country pub, intently eavesdropping for war talk. “Another pint, sir?” “What?”

    Also notable that he sees the deception practiced by the totalitarian regime on its own people: hositing the flags at the airport for the visiting minister, but concealing them from the citizens.

  7. Steve says:

    No post for 25 August, after a long unbroken string of daily posts. Personally, I’d be too freaked out to write.

  8. Max says:

    Poor old Communists, having to think the unthinkable, and in England with only the Daily Worker to guide them. You can see, by all GO’s reading around events, how this affected his thinking – here are the animals being told that Farmer Jones is after all someone with whom they can do busness, and here is Big Brother turning enemy into ally at the drop of a hat, and Winston having to rewrite history. It’s all happening before our very eyes! Great stuff!

  9. Stephen says:

    Yes, and Orwell dividing his time between reading the newspapers and digging the garden. Thinking about politics all the time.

  10. Max says:

    So, Orwell digs his garden and we dig Orwell. Nice work all round!

  11. grrg63 says:

    I wonder what E.B. thought of that days’ issue of The Daily Worker?

  12. My Wolsley is on back order; it seems everyone is wanting one these days–it’s patriotic.

  13. James Russell says:

    Where are you, Eric? War is only a few days away, my Grandma is heavily pregnant with my Dad, and we haven’t heard anything from you in a couple of days.
    Also, are you getting an infestation of massive slugs, or is it just here in the 21st Century?

  14. Meanwhile:
    Russia, Mongolia fete 1939 battle victory over Japan.

    According to official estimates, more than 18,500 Soviet and Mongolian soldiers died, while Japan lost about 60,000 soldiers.
    My mother is 14 or 15, she is an only child and they live somewhere in/around Moskva. But I know she went to high school for some period of time in Shanghai so she must have already left or been about to leave her homeland during this time frame. Her father stayed behind.

  15. david walsh says:

    with quotes from the Daily Telegarph to the Daily Worker via the News Chronicle , the Evening News and the Herald shows (a) what a good newagent there was in a small village in deepest rural Hertfordshire, and (b) what a good custmer EB must have been to them…………

  16. Max says:

    If GO/EB is silent it’s because he’s set himself a lot to digest and is undergoing a major intellectual transformation from pacifist (as he was in Morocco) to a man ready to put up a fight. He’s either off on long contemplative walks with Marx or on long contemplative digs with E. Or perhaps he’s just sitting in The Stores with his feet up, reading a boy’s comic or leafing through his collection of seaside postcards, chuckling and thinking, ‘I’ll bet those 21st century bloggers are going to wonder where I’ve got to. Tell them I’m cogitating.’ Hasn’t anyone out there got a time machine so we can all know where he’s lurking and what he’s thinking?

  17. AlexS says:

    My bet is that there are lots of arrangements to be made for the imminent war (foodstuff, materials), and perhaps he’s participating in some public meetings or with friends.

    How would you busy yourself just before war?

  18. Max says:

    Panic over! I think Eric is off visiting friends and relatives after all, as someone suggested.

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