Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WWII's nadir : May - October 1940

Most people consider the tense days and nights of the Blitz to be the low point of the war.

But military historians point to the period between the fall of Singapore and the fall of Tobruk as the lowest point in the war, when the huge British empire was joined by the huge Russian and American empires but the larger Allies still suffered reversal after reversal from the smaller Axis.

I think the actual moral low point was the period between the collapse of the British French front lines in May 1940 and October 1940, when it became apparent to all that the Germans had "postponed" their sea invasion of the UK.

But, military historians cry, what significant fighting took place - anywhere - in that quiescent break in the long war ?

My point exactly.

For in that six months, the world's middle class elite heatedly debated, mostly within their own individual minds, whether there was any point in fighting at all, for either side, or whether it was better to accept a German controlled Western Europe - including the UK - as a done deal for a very long time.

armchair generals often are real life generals

The number of latter Allied war heroes who wrote off Britain's chances, looking up from their daily newspaper while sitting in a comfy chair, must number in the tens of thousands.

This was the defeatist pool that the very frustrated, very patriotic, Canadian born and raised WWI military hero, Dr Henry Dawson, had to swim in, at his job at an elite NYC research hospital and in his swish suburban community.

It was this defeatism, this unwillingness to join in a common cause to do what was right among his own peers, that was the milieu that led to the other Manhattan Project, his coupling of the unspeakable penicillium slime to the saving of the unworthy-of-scarce-wartime-medical-care SBEs.

moving beyond the normal Pale for helpers and helpees

Dawson hoped to build a truly inclusive coalition, moving well out beyond the normal Pale for potential helpers and helpees, in his efforts to defeat an 'uncurable' disease -- because he wanted it to become a model of what he felt the Allies must do, in order to defeat the evil Axis quickly and with minimum loss of life.

The best way for any of us not ninety five years old or older to breathe deeply in that decadent air of defeatism is to read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Wave of the Future, published at the very height of the time of moral decline...

No comments:

Post a Comment