Editorial – Turkey

22 February 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 22 February 1941


If the war has taught us anything, it has taught us that so long as we fight at a disadvantage we must continue to fight alone. Nowhere, outside the British Empire, is there a race is ready to join our cause on its merits.

In the United States there are statesmen who value not only the cause of freedom but the survival of the British people, and are ready to venture everything for the preservation of both. Yet even they are obliged to use the language of self-interest and to persuade American senators not of the justice but of the expediency of American aid for Britain. Doubtless there are in every country citizens who have no difficulty in distinguishing between the ideology of the British and of the Nazis and we have no doubt which they would choose if the choice involved no more than a vote. Hitler would show up poorly in a secret ballot for world leadership. But one race, and one race alone, has the courage and resolution to stake its existence on resistance to an evil which arouses universal horror and dislike.

Gallant Greece is fighting with desperate courage and remarkable success against an Axis power, but in defence of her own territory and without reference, as yet to the major issue which overshadows the world. Poland resisted and was overpowered by Germany with the treacherous collaboration of Soviet Russia. Austria, Czechoslovakia and the Baltic States were trapped by this infamous combination and cut off from all effective aid. Finland fought gloriously against hopeless odds and fell a victim to the cowardice of her Scandinavian neighbours. Sweden has for all practical purposes been as completely occupied and subjugated as Denmark. Norway, Belgium, Holland, and France all resisted, but confusedly and half-heartedly, their will weakened by a long course of intimidation and corruption. The collapse of France exhibited on the grand scale the rotting of fibre and indifference to moral issues which have been at work everywhere in Europe, disintegrating international co-operation and preparing the way for a “new order” which offers Europe the unity of slavery.

In the Balkans the lesson of the disunity which brought about the downfall of the Scandinavians, the Dutch, the Flemings, and the French is lost; only their fate is remembered. Rumania seeking to avoid such a fate has encountered a worse, and the same moral rot is eating into Bulgaria and, it may be, Yugoslavia. United, the Balkan States could undoubtedly have preserved their independence, but that is to assume the very conditions that would have made Hitler’s Germany impossible. The Nazi terror could not have arisen in a Europe vigilant, resolute, and united.

At this hour we get from our ally, Turkey, a declaration of friendship with Bulgaria, a State about to pass, body and soul, into the keeping of Germany and to be used, lock, stock, and barrel in furtherance of Hitler’s new stroke against the British. Such a declaration, coming earlier, might have led to a real Balkan Entente, which would have proved an effective bar to German aggression in South-East Europe. It is comforting to note that Turkey’s inconsequent entente with Bulgaria is said to leave her engagements to her allies, Great Britain and Greece, unaffected, and to learn from time to time of “staff talks” between Great Britain and Turkey. It is reasonably certain that Turkey will resist any direct attack, but neither Britain nor Greece has yet had any earnest of the real value to them of the Turkish alliance. Turkey made no attempt to save Greece from Italy though the Italian invasion created a new Balkan situation of the gravest concern to Turkey. What therefore is the prospect that Turkey will intervene against Germany if Greece is attacked through Yugoslavia or western Bulgaria?

The Turco-Bulgarian declaration seems to fit in with the Probability that Hitler, following always the line of least resistance will avoid conflict with Turkey and give that country a technical ‘ground for standing aside from new attacks on Britain and Greece. Our own commentators have been at pains to impress on us that Turkey’s role is purely defensive. Turkey can render vital service to Britain in this struggle by remaining staunch and vigilant in defence of her own territory and thus guarding the British flank and the gateway to the East.

But here, as elsewhere throughout the world, Britain must not look for aid unmixed with self-interest, and in the last resort must rely on herself, with all that she has and is to guard the sacred flame of liberty.