Editorial – The Mark of the Beast

26 December 1942

South Yorkshire Times – Saturday 26 December 1942

The Mark of the Beast

Winter relief funds and the sedatives provided by Doctor Goebbels and his hard-worked team of propagandists can hardly bring much encouragement to the German people this Christmas. As for the Italians, the outlook is even bleaker for them. What the Fuehrer thinks about it all is not known, but it can be taken for granted that, whatever his public protestations, privately he must be feeling at least disconcerted, as fresh blows are rained on his frozen forces in the East, while the Mediterranean situation become, daily more ominous.

Things are not falling out according to the Nazi plan and already signs of uncertainty can be detected where before the Axis presented a brazen facade of unshakeable confidence. German performance, considerable as it was in those days, was quickly outrun those days, was quickly outrun by promise of further and still greater deeds. For some time now defence has replaced attack as the operative word in the carefully orchestrated propaganda of the Reich. Field Marshal Smuts placed a shrewd finger on the spot when he pointed to the maniacal persecution of the Jews as just one of the signs that Hitler’s nerves are getting uncomfortably taut. He also prophesied a hard year ahead for the Allies with the archenemy lashing out viciously as his prospects deteriorate.

Merely to have assumed the initiative does not absolve the United Nations from all further rigours of the great struggle. The Axis may crack suddenly, but its leaders are a desperate gang and are more likely to drag all down with them into the abyss than to throw themselves on the mercy of an outraged world. There remains among other things the foul spectre of gas warfare, a double-edged weapon, but a terrible one. In a way it will be surprising if Hitler, too deeply dyed in blood and crime to baulk at a further enormity, does not put this direst means of slaughter to the test before acknowledging final and inevitable defeat. If he does so the method used can be expected to be as fiendishly ingenious as German science can devise. In the meantime the torture of the Jews goes on. The pitiless savagery of the massacre is to some extent explained by the point of view expressed recently in a Norwegian quisling newspaper. Here it was averred that if there was any danger of a “Bolshevik ” victory it behoved the Germans to exterminate as many Jews as possible while they could, in order to preclude a regime of ” Red terror,” implemented by ” Jewish commissars.”

This degraded policy shows at one and the same time the maggot in the Nazi brain and the dangers implicit in such unprincipled desperation. Once the United Nations have secured the upper hand over such a foe the pulverisation of his power to harm must be swift and complete. Otherwise in the very act of collapse the Axis may wreak its wickedest spite, with appalling consequences to a world which still must be rebuilt when the fighting is at an end