The Pittsburgh Press (August 12, 1941)
Whitaker says –
BRITAIN LOST UNLESS U.S. JOINS IN WAR
Only full American participation can defeat Nazis, writer thinks
New York, Aug. 12 –
England, despite morale that passes all comprehension, cannot win its war against Germany alone and the Greater Reich is in no danger of collapse, except on the field of battle, and that cannot occur without all-out American participation, John T. Whitaker, correspondent of The Chicago Daily News, who correctly predicted both Italy’s invasion of Greece and Germany’s turnabout against Russia, declared in an interview here today.
Mr. Whitaker said:
No war was ever won on the defensive.
England’s greatest strength is 59 divisions, against 280 for Germany.
U.S. alliance only hope
Hitler cannot be licked except militarily. It is obvious that, granted a Nazi triumph in Eastern Europe, Germany’s armed power will be of a size to overwhelm that of the British. A military alliance with the United States is Britain’s only hope.
Mr. Whitaker, recently back from a month’s tour of British airdromes, defense plants, and devastated areas of England, where he talked with everyone of importance in governmental and military life, said that unless the United States entered the war soon, there was the prospect of conflict for 10 or 15 years, with the direst consequences for the entire world.
He said that already the force of events elsewhere in the world presaged encirclement of both England and the United States. It was foregone, he said, that Japan would soon announce its full military adhesion to the Axis and that Spain and Portugal, with many nations of Latin America in tow, would be vortexed into the Nazi camp simultaneously or shortly thereafter.
Very few Latin states of this hemisphere will be found on the Anglo-American side, he said.
Hitler, Mr. Whitaker warned, contemplates a harder fight against the United States than his gigantic military machine has ever waged or expects to wage against England and its empire.
Gains thousands of workers
He will exploit to the full all economic and industrial resources of Nazi-conquered and Nazi-controlled countries, hundreds of thousands of whose factory workers have been transferred to Germany for war production.
Mr. Whitaker charged that Senator Wheeler and Charles A. Lindbergh have done more to force nations of the world into Hitler’s arms than could possibly be accomplished by Nazi intimidation and cajolery.
By their non-interventionist agitation, these men, said Mr. Whitaker, have encouraged disbelief everywhere in American unity.
Played up in newspapers
Everything Senator Wheeler and Col. Lindbergh say is played up by the Nazis in the German press and in the newspapers of every country within the Reich’s orbit, he declared.
Mr. Whitaker said:
Not a peep of anything else is allowed to reach those publics. Nothing that is uttered by Roosevelt or any other American government official or pro-British politician and citizen ever gets into print, if it can possibly be helped.
American debate on whether to retain draftees more than a year in the armed forces, Mr. Whitaker pointed out, further perplexed other nations which looked to the United States for guidance.
See luxury products
Neither is America’s seriousness of war effort conveyed to Europeans who observe in American magazines and newspaper advertisements for luxury products.
Walk down the streets of bombed towns and try to conceive of appeasement where rubble and death gapes at you on every side. Try to imagine defeatism in a spirit that has been challenged by war’s worst savagery.
I walked down to the East India docks in London one evening, when a visitation by the Nazi air force was expected. As German bombers finally came into view, heads protruded out of windows. Britons threw out of windows. Britons threw out their hands and shouted:
Hi, Jerry, it’s about time you came back.
Long for air raids
Those Britishers actually long for air raids of the intensity of last fall, fantastic as it may sound.
One Briton told me a story that accurately typifies the British spirit which is so indomitable.
As an aged couple were engaged in a doleful conversation, the husband suggested that his wife and himself commit suicide. His 72-year-old wife exclaimed:
What?! Kill ourselves and let that guy Hitler win? Never!
In England, Mr. Whitaker found all his friends cheerful and in the best of health. All had suffered in one way or another – bereavements, damaged property – but the will to fight to the end characterized and sustained everybody.
Personal problems gone
Mr. Whitaker said:
An incredible thing is the utter absence of personal problems. All perplexities that bedevil individuals in peacetime are subdued and subordinated by the one great problem, which is to defeat Hitler and preserve the democratic way of life.
In his conversations with high officials, Mr. Whitaker said he detected not a glimmer of defearism. This resolution extended down the ranks to the common people all over the land.
Significant revelations were made by Mr. Whitaker on conditions in Italy which he described as:
…a country occupied by the Nazis.
Of the dictator who caused the correspondent to be expelled without an expulsion order, Mr. Whitaker said:
Mussolini lacks popular support. There are no more than 200 persons throughout the country who back the crestfallen Il Duce.
Italians are ashamed
It is the Germans who control Italy, and the Italians themselves, ashamed because of the “stab in the back” of France, dare not turn against their own leaders for fear of punishment and reprisals by the Gestapo.
Once Germany’s fortunes should fall, it is a good bet that the Italian people would oust the Fascists who now hold only shadowy power.
There exists the utterest disillusionment in Fascismo itself in Italy. Two Cabinet ministers, in a confidential conversation, once told me that they had been thoroughly disappointed in their political philosophy.
Crowd deserted Il Duce
For the first time, Mr. Whitaker revealed what transpired when Il Duce announced to an assemblage in Rome Italy’s declaration of war on collapsing France. It is nothing less than a bid for imprisonment or death to leave as crowd of listeners when Mussolini speaks. When he announced Italy’s entrance into the war, however, spectators began to filter away and before he had completed his address, fully a third of the crowd had left.
Italians have no hope, win or lose, Mt. Whitaker said. Conquered nations like Holland and Belgium and Denmark have been given some opportunity to regain their self-respect, he said, but the Italians, driven into a war not of their choosing, sensing their secondary role to the Reich, unhopeful of the proper booty of war when peace comes, are a picture of despair and despondency.
Gestapo acts at will
Mr. Whitaker said that the Gestapo makes arrests at will in Italy. Objectionable officers are taken into custody as easily as civilians.
The writer expressed the conviction that America today is in the same position as England was before Munich. There is endless discussion of defense preparations, citizens speak of the fate of relatives being called into the Army, but “business as usual” continues, to the detriment of the nation’s future. He believes it is to the interest of America to enter this war as quickly as possible.