Editorial: Nazis learn what war means as tables are turned at last (1-29-43)

Brooklyn Eagle (January 29, 1943)

Editorial: Nazis learn what war means as tables are turned at last

For two years or more, the Nazis in the course of their military operations met with experiences which gave substance to the delusion that war for them would not be a particularly agonizing experience. They had at their command a mighty machine. They struck with overwhelming force, terrorizing their victims with the suddenness and the fierceness of their attack. Mercy was an attribute alien to their instincts. Men, women and children, old and young, died in the wreckage of their homes or before firing squads, perished from cold, disease or starvation.

The Nazis were the perfect exponents of total war in the most horrible sense of the term. And, in their arrogance of spirit, their disdain of the lessons of history and their ignorance of the part played by such intangibles as character, courage and justice in the shaping of events, they expected to continue on their charted course until the end, when world domination would be theirs.

It is only now after more than three years of war that the German Army and the German people are learning from first-hand experience all that is involved in a war of extinction. They are learning what the Norwegians and the Belgians, the Czechs and the Greeks, the Poles and the Dutch have known for a long time and they are startled and dismayed by the grim knowledge that has come to them.

Now at last, the Nazis will be compelled to draw upon their resources of spirit as they face the realization that the tables have been turned and that they are no longer the rampant conquerors whose iron heels crushed out the lives of small nations.

The slaughter before Stalingrad has been a strange experience for the Nazis, who now know what the Poles of Warsaw and the Dutch of Rotterdam endured. They have had a bitter taste of their own medicine as they have witnessed the almost-complete liquidation of 22 divisions, more than 200,000 men caught in a trap, starved, frozen and cut to pieces by a rain of steel from the air and the ground. But at least they must say for their enemies that they were given the chance to surrender, a concession which the Nazis themselves never offered to the victims of their cold-blooded slaughter.

There is almost a plaintive note in the Berlin newspaper report that “We are now fighting in open country in Russia amid a battle of destruction such as never has been experienced in history” and that “the extremely high standard of Russian tank production has frustrated many of our hopes.”

Would Hitler have conceded some months ago that a human agency, especially the despised Soviet Army, possessed the power to frustrate one of his more important hopes? Could he have been convinced that the day would come when Rommel, the “Desert Fox,” would be reduced to the status of a cornered rat, and Il Duce’s Italian Empire would be “torn to shreds and tatters”?

The Nazis are at last learning of war, and they are learning the hard way, through death and destruction. But their education is just beginning. Soon they will be torn by the despair consequent upon the knowledge that crushing defeat is inevitable.