Editorial – Melee – Titanic Struggle

5 July 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 05 July 1941

Melee – Titanic Struggle

The titanic struggle between the Germans and the Russians is now nearly a fortnight old. It is still difficult to appreciate what is happening, but after the German claims have been soundly discounted it is obvious that they have thrust hard, sore, and deep. Only a mighty and nerveless mass like Russia could have taken these blows without vital damage.

It is too soon to say that Russia will “ride” these terrific punches indefinitely but Germany has committed practically her whole energy to the assault. With every day that passes without decision the chance of exhausting the military power of Hitler increases.

Wherever success may lead Germany in this fearful venture, failure spells irreparable disaster, Presumably the problems of the campaign have been carefully worked out by the German Staff and there is no illusion that tactics successfully employed in France and Flanders will automatically produce similar results in Poland and Russia.

No doubt the most anxious allowances, reserves, and margins have been left for intangibles and imponderables. Nevertheless, the possibilities of calamitous error are very great. All depends on the toughness of the Red Army. There is little material here for estimating the volume and quality of the Red Army’s equipment. It is doubtful whether the claim that Russia can mobilise more effective soldiers than Germany, and put into the field more tanks and planes, can be justified, but whatever the relative numbers Germany has tremendous advantages in organisation, mechanisation, tactical skill, discipline, and other military qualities.

Germany is a perfectly organised fighting machine which has been running with increasing smoothness and speed for seven or eight years. The militant spirit of Russia has still to be demonstrated. The part Russia played in this war until directly attacked does not suggest the military qualities which alone will serve her now. It is possible that the heroism of the workmen, peasants and soldiers will save “Holy” Russia where the craft and subtlety of the commissars failed. If the Russians can save themselves they will have gone far to save the world.

As to the practical prospects of that, there seems to be an extraordinary diversity of opinion. Beneath the heartening “pep” now administered by “military experts” who once exposed the military rottenness of Russia, we suspect a pessimism which is perhaps as little justified as the almost fatuous enthusiasm of Mr. H. G. Wells, who declares that Hitler “for the first time has thrown himself against something which is solid through and through.” Let us hope that Mr. Wells, who seems to have got Britain so badly wrong, is at least right about the Russia now at death grips with a “violent fool at the end of his resources.” The truth probably lies between. The progress of the new war so far does not suggest so much Russian solidity as Russian resilience. On this shock absorbing power of Russia • everything now depends.