Churchill’s 1939 comment on Hitler and Tyrol
DAILY MIRROR, 27.Juli 1939, page 15/16:
Mr. Winston Churchill writes today another vital article in his special series to the „Daily Mirror“. Hitler, he says, has taken a step which is „the sacrifice of his very heart’s blood.“
HITLER SELLS THE PASS !
The German Army is steadily being placed upon a war footing. A million reservists have been called up, in addition to the normal army of a million men. However, we are assured from Berlin that these preparations are purely defensive.
Their only object is to protect innocent, peaceloving Nazidom from some deadly attack by Poland or Denmark or Holland, or perhaps from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
We must be glad that Ministers and some of their experts now assure us of their confidence that our armed forces and preparations are adequate to our dangers.
A FAR MORE SIGNIFICANT SIGNAL IS MADE TO US FROM THE TYROL.
The more the agreement between the German and Italian Dictators about the future of the Tyrol becomes known, the more we realise how tense and grave is the state of Europe.
It looks as if Herr Hitler has consented to the transfer of the entire German-speaking population of the Province of Bozen either to Greater Germany or elsewhere in Italy – in order that the homelands on which they have dwelt for a thousand years, the valleys and mountains of that beautiful upland, may be populated with Italians.
IN TAKING THIS STEP HE IS SACRIFICING HIS VERY HEART’S BLOOD.
THE UPROOTING OF A GERMANIC PEASANTRY FROM ITS NATIVE SOIL IS A COMPLETE DENIAL OF THE MAIN DECLARED PURPOSE OF HIS LIFE.
It runs counter to the most intense passion, apart from jew-baiting, which has inspired it.
That he should be willing to do this is a proof, which should be plain to the simplest mind, how seriously he regards the situation, and how determined he is to move forward upon the path of Continental domination.
This was the price – the only price that would serve to bind Mussolini to his chariot wheels.
The position of the Italian Dictator has become increasingly precarious.
The association of Italy with Germany has undermined the foundations of Italian national power, and has already deeply affected Italian independence.
Year after year the Italian people have seen tremendous changes to their detriment in the north.
The loss of their influence in Austria, which a few years ago was paramount-
The arrival of powerful German forces at the Brenner pass-
The naked exposure of German ambitions towards Trieste and the Adriatic-
The arrival in Italy in all kinds of key positions of large numbers of German agents-
The ever-growing ascendancy in the Axis of the senior partner-
ALL THIS HAVE BEEN VIEWED BY THE ITALIAN PEOPLE, AND EVEN IN THE HIGHER CIRCLES OF THE FASCIST PARTY, WITH INCREASING DISMAY:
The prospect of being dragged into a war of the most terrible character with France and Great Britain, in which the first brunt would fall upon Italy, is a case of fear and anger throughout the whole of the long and vulnerable peninsula.
To wage a war for mortal stakes against the other two great Mediterranean Powers is indeed a tragic task to set a hard-working and hardpressed population.
The two Western democracies were the chief architects of Italian liberation and Italian unity.
NOTHING IS FURTHER FROM THE WISH OF THE ITALIAN PEOPLE THAN TO BE PLUNGED INTO A PERFECTLY NEEDLESS STRUGGLE FOR LIFE WITH THE FRENCH ARMY AND THE BRITISH NAVY.
* * *
NOT A PLEASANT PROSPECT. NOT AN EASY WAR. NOT A WAR IN TRUE ITALIAN INTEREST.
A WAR IN WHICH DEFEAT SPELLS RUIN AND VICTORY, PERMANENT SUBORDINATION.
Yet this is the war into which Signor Mussolini -in whom even those who dislike his system have thought to see a great Italian and a great patriot- is urging the nation he has led so long and from whom he has received so much!
No wonder he must have something to show in compensation for the injuries which Italy has sustained, and the perils upon which he now seeks to launch her.
And Hitler has paid the price.
The sharp talons of Nazidom will plunk up the German-speaking peasants and mountaineers from their homes in the land of Andreas Hofer, and plant them peacefully if they will, forcibly if they won’t, upon Italian or German plains.
* * *
The migration or exchange of populations is not in itself a process necessarily to be excluded from efforts to procure European tranquillity.
Where hostile races are hopelessly and equally intermingled, a sorting-out movement may produce good results.
Certainly the exchange of several millions of Turks and Greeks was skilfully accomplished in Thrace and Asia Minor, and has had the best results in the after-relations of the two countries.
But the population of the Tyrol is preponderantly German-speaking.
And the object in this case is not a peaceful settlement of Europe, but a military and strategic step designed to further the waging of a great war by the two Axis Powers.
* * *
Alarm is caused to Switzerland by the situation in the Tyrol.
The Swiss ask why all the tourists have been turned out of the Tyrol at forty-eight hours‘ notice, and why all foreign residents are to leave the country as soon as possible.
It was suggested as an explanation that the German and Italian Dictators did not want the painful scenes, which must accompany the uprooting, to be wittnessed by foreign eyes.
BUT THIS, THOUGH NATURAL, IS HARDLY CONVINCING.
The migration, however roughly done, would certainly take a considerable time, and the swiss wonder whether perhaps the veil is to be so swiftly drawn over the Tyrol, is not intended to cover troop movements of a serious character.
In this part of Europe, as in all countries which border upon Nazidom, the fear of being the victim of a sudden lightning attack by Germany dominates the minds not only of Governments, but of peoples.
Who shall say these fears are groundless while one man, with his Party confederates, his political police and his astrologers, holds the fate of all Europe in his hands?
AND WHO WILL SAY THAT THIS IS THE MOMENT FOR THE BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMONS TO SEPARATE FOR A THREE-MONTH HOLIDAY?
Das war fast der gesamte lange Kommentar von Winston Churchill, damals angeblich der bestbezahlte politische Schriftsteller und Zeitungskolumnist der Welt, am 27.Juli 1939 im damals meistverkauften Massenblatt, dem „Daily Mirror“. Ins Internet stellt der heutige „Mirror“ nur eine Kurzfassung: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/winston-churchill-writes-for-the-daily-mirror-416829
Solchen Südtirol-Bezug (von mir fett gesetzt) hier im Churchill Center im gleichnamigen College zu lesen, wo alle seine Papiere aufbewahrt werden und auf Anfrage für Forschungszwecke zugänglich sind, das geht dem „Heimatfernen“ irgendwie mehr unter die Haut als in der Provinz, wo einem der Südtirol-Bezug oft zu eng vorkommt (und wo mir Leopold Steurer solche Kommentare ausgedruckt hatte).
Solche Texte empfehlen sich m.E. besonders jenen betont deutschen oder betont italienischen Patrioten, die Churchills Großbritannien höchstens auf die gleiche Ebene stellen möchten wie Hitlers Deutschland (die einen) oder Mussolinis Italien (die anderen).