The Pittsburgh Press (November 21, 1944)
Will Germans consent to mass suicide?
By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor
Insiders here regard it as about an even money bet that Germany will stage a final naval thrust in the Atlantic if the war lasts through the winter. It is possible that she may even attempt to aim a few V-1s and V-2s at some of our coastal cities.
The argument is that, having already lost the war, to all intents and purposes, there is no reason why the Nazis should hold back their remaining warships, whether surface craft or submarines. After the armistice they will be sunk anyway, so the sensible thing, from the Nazi point of view, is to use them now – send them out and let them be sent to the bottom in a final set-to against the British and Americans.
The question, however, is this: Will the German crews consent to any such mass suicide? In 1918, the answer was an emphatic no. When, in the simmer of that year, Adm. von Scheer realized that the war was lost on land, he planned a do-or-die smash at the Allied fleet in the North sea and English Channel. Concentrating every ton he could muster, he gave order Oct. 29 to prepare for the open sea.
Mutiny resulted. The sailors refused to take out the ships. They knew it was only a gesture or bravado, that there was hardly one chance in a hundred of success, and they did not relish dying on a mission such as that. Instead, they seized a train at Kiel, went to Berlin and joined the revolution.
For some time, neutral capitals, especially Stockholm, have been sending out reports of Nazi submarine concentrations at Bergen, Trondheim and Narvik, and of the arrival of many naval officers from the Reich. These officers have boasted about what they intend to do to Allied shipping in the Atlantic. Some have bragged about the attacks they expect to launch against America.
Unquestionably it is admitted here, attacks against our seaboard are possible – either from the sea or from the air. But, as in 1918, it resolves itself into a question of whether enough Germans can be found to commit suicide in such fashion. It is true that there is more terror now to spur the Nazis on than there was then, but there was probably a greater degree of dynamic loyalty to the Hohenzollerns than there is today to Herr Schicklgruber. Besides, death in the icy Atlantic holds a certain terror of its own.
Assuming that crews can be found for the suicidal attacks in the Atlantic and against our coast, the rest becomes a race against time. Germany needs time to prepare. There are reports of radical changes in U-boat design and installations; also of experimentation in new forms of robot and rocket-type bombs.
Need more ammunition
Correspondents say Aachen’s fall was delayed by an ammunition shortage. But for the failure of his gas supply, it is said, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton would have gone straight on through to the Rhine, thus shortening the war. In a broadcast Sunday, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower revealed that for the present crucial offensive, he is already drawing on his 1945 materiel.
Thus, if the Nazis launch their rockets against America and renew their U-boat attacks against our shipping, it will be because we on this side of the Atlantic have fallen down. It will be our own fault.