Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 12 April 1941
A Cry From Macedonia
For Greece and Yugoslavia the hour of destiny has struck and the monstrous war machine of the Reich is being driven into the vitals of those gallant nations. The lambs have outraged the wolf by fouling its stream from below; they have dared to remain free and independent on the fringe of a Continent sunk in slavery. Hitler does not believe, any more than Lincoln did, that a great Continent can exist half-slave and half-free, and he has therefore decreed total slavery. Germany has struck with concentrated fury at these two small Balkan States, one of which has already for six months been engaged in a successful but exhausting struggle with a stronger Power. ut for the assurance of immediate support from the British Empire and of ultimate support from the United States, neither Greece nor Yugoslavia, for all their abounding courage and patriotic spirit, could have ventured life and liberty in the cause to which they are now committed. Rather than submit to be gathered into the society of slave States they have accepted the terrible alternative of war. The courage of the Greeks and Serbs is not enough.
Russia and Turkey look on at this, as at every aggression in the Balkan theatre, and murmur sympathy but lift no finger. Two hours before Germany attacked Yugoslavia, Russia signed a pact of friendship with Yugoslavia—a hollow pact which commits Russia to nothing more than abstention from military collaboration with Germany against the Southern Slavs. It has no more value or meaning than Russia’s violated pact of non-aggression with Finland. Yet such is the Soviet’s reputation for cowardice, so deep is Russia’s dread of German might, that even this faint and feeble gesture of sympathy for Germany’s intended victim was looked upon as a portent and hailed as “significant.”
The southern Slavs will get no help from their big Muscovite brother so long as they need it, and it is clear that Turkey is not yet ready to intervene. In what circumstances Turkey will fight we do not know; clearly in no circumstances involving any but Turkish interests.
Meanwhile a great responsibility rests on the British Empire. The extension of the war to the Balkans may prove a great opportunity. It is a development that Hitler’s military advisers would have avoided if they could; it has been forced on Germany by reverses elsewhere. So far so good, but if the military genius of Germany is once more permitted to grasp the opportunity in the difficulty and to slaughter nations who will have died in our defence while under our protection, our prestige will hardly survive the blow. In the Balkans, the Germans have thrown down a challenge to the British Empire. We have taken up the challenge and have sent over an expeditionary force—pray God not too small and not too late. We are committed to fight it out on this front, and to hold the Balkans at all costs as the bridge-head over which the forces of liberation must one day pour. The reward of success in this field is rich; the penalty of failure grim indeed. The bravery and skill of the Greeks and the Serbians must be supported by British forces at completely equipped and mechanised as Use German invader. With that support, timely and adequate, will yet be well, and Hitler’s Balkan adventure will conduct him to the grave of all his hopes.