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George Stern

On the War Fronts

(1 March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9, 1 March 1941, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The time draws close to Spring – that season when people used to talk about young: men’s fancies and the things they turned to. This time an entire planet awaits the coming season of rebirth with fear and foreboding. It is to be the season of titanic battles and great decisions. Hitler boasts openly of his coming offensive against Britain, by sea, by air, and on the land of the British Isles themselves. Mussolini, reduced to a ridiculous tenor accompaniment, tells the stranded people of Italy that Hitler is strong and that “Spring will come.”

The Balkans await in total uncertainty the coming explosion. The Turks have denied that their new pact with Bulgaria means Turkish consent to German occupation of Bulgarian soil. Anthony Eden and Sir John Dill, the British chief of staff, flew out to the Near East. London put in circulation reports that the Army of the Nile was being readied for a dash across the Eastern Mediterranean to Salonika.

The British appear determined to, open a Balkan front of sufficient width and depth to engage large German forces, diverting them thereby from the forces already gathered for the assault on Britain. What the Turks will do nobody now seems to know. The chances are that in Ankara itself there is indecision.

Only the Nazis appear to be moving with that cold certainty that characterizes their offensive action. The familiar advance guard in mufti has already “infiltrated” into Bulgaria. The Bulgars themselves expect a full-sized army of occupation within a few days or weeks. Berlin continues to predict with confidence that the Greeks will soon be compelled to sue their defeated Italian adversary for peace. Berlin appears equally confident that the Turks have been neutralized, at least for the projected actions of the coming months.

London dispatches appear to indicate that the British will chance even a small-scale offensive action of their own to prevent any such “bloodless” blitzkrieg. The British advance toward Tripoli has ceased for the moment and British North African forces seem to be available if a Balkan front is to be opened.

Meanwhile the “third front” – the Far East – produces signs of becoming no less active in the period immediately ahead. Japan awaits Hitler’s moves. Britain and the U.S., working closely together, have made an advance effort to call the Japanese bluff. The Japanese, in their turn, are marking time. This front is discussed in more detail elsewhere in this issue.

It may be a beautiful spring in this 1941 – but more violets than ever will bloom this year unseen.

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Last updated: 3 October 2015