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Editorial – On the Brink

August 1939

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Friday 25 August 1939

On the Brink

The speeches of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, made yesterday, left no further doubt (if any doubt remained in our minds) of the stupendous gravity of the present situation. We are veritably on the brink of the abyss and may be hurled into its grim depths almost before the ink on this page is dry, such is the tautness and tension of the delicate threads which hold together the rapidly fraying fabric of peace.

The German Fuehrer, flushed with the recent triumph of his diplomacy in achieving the seemingly impossible agreement with Russia, is apparently prepared to push the Danzig issue to the limit beyond which there can be no withdrawal. History has suggested that our failure to make clear our position in 1914 contributed to the outbreak of the Great War. If that were so, at any rate on this occasion no suspicion of such an implication can be laid against us. We have made our attitude on the Danzig question clear beyond a peradventure and if it is to be a war then the blood guilt, immeasurable in extent as it can hardly fail to be, must lie at Germany’s door.

Whatever now befalls, in the eyes of the world Great Britain stands absolved of any responsibility for the catastrophe which will inevitably follow Herr Hitler’s next step in a course of hypocritical and cynical aggression. It remains for us to steel ourselves to stand any shock with which the German juggernaut may next confront us. The war of nerves has left our morale completely unshaken; has in fact strengthened our determination not to flinch in whatever trial of real strength may lie before us. If Germany forthwith decrees a show down between the totalitarian states and the democracies we shall enter the struggle with a resolution steeled and tempered by the consciousness that the quarrel is none of our seeking, and a courage upborn by our traditional resentment of tactics of brutality and blackmail such as Germany has seen fit to employ in furtherance of her plans for European dominance. .

In this threat to all that we hold dear of liberty, decency and justice there is a duty for each one of us. Many have already chosen their places and have trained conscientiously for the hour that now seems to be upon us. There may yet be sterner tasks than the very real exigencies of civilian defence duties before these volunteers. If this be so then they will accept the graver charge with calmness and determination.

But Britons have never failed their friends or their countrymen in time of need, and the nation will bend its energies to this latest and greatest task as one man, in iron resolve to resist to the uttermost the merciless elements which seek to replace the rule of justice and reason by the law of the jungle.