HITLER'S NEXT MOVE
[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR] SIR,—Since my article appeared in your columns last week explaining how I predicted the German war-challenge, a great many people have asked me why I attempted no forecast of its sequel. My immediate motive was respect for your space. But I also felt that prediction must wait a little. Herr Hitler has now the choice of several moves, and I am not aware that he has indicated his preference.
His success has outrun his hopes. He gained without war more than war could have given him. Not only does he get complete control of Czechoslovakia, and with it the hegemony of Central Europe (i.e., his war aims), but he has induced France and Great Britain to follow courses which preclude any other State in Europe from remaining on their side. Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden (not to mention Central Europe) no one of them now, with Czechoslovakia's fate before its eyes, can afford to do anything for us against him, or to refuse him anything against us.
Take examples. Suppose Germany and Italy go to attack France via Switzerland. Can Switzerland now refuse ? Surely not. She knows that if she did, she would be carved up between the Dictatorships ; whereas by yielding she will preserve, though not her independence, her existence. Similarly Belgium can no longer afford to refuse a passage for German troops into France, or in war-time Ostend aerodromes for attacking Great Britain. All those formulae, beloved of historians, about Britain's concern in the Low Countries have gone by the board. We lost the Low Countries at Berchtesgaden and Munich.
Of these facts Herr Hitler cannot be unaware, and they may go to his head. If they do not, he will stick to his Mein Kampf programme : cajole Great Britain ; consolidate Central Europe into a feudatory empire comprising (with Germany herself) a population equal to the U.S.S.R.'s ; and proceed (possibly, even probably, without war) to acquire the Ukraine for German colonisation (a feature second to none in the programme as he himself sees it). All things then would be added unto him. France, demoralised as she is both politically and industrially, could without war be Fascised into his orbit. Great Britain herself could hardly last a decade. For now that she has delivered over Central Europe to Germany, she can do nothing to prevent the vast resultant combination from building her fleet out of the water, with resources immensely exceeding her own.
If, however, the facts went to the Fiffirer's head, he might prefer to dispose of France earlier, and by war. Having forfeited her Russian, Czech, and Polish alliances, she is temptingly weak. Germany and Italy, alone, can confront her with a man-power of three to one ; and Great Britain, her only associate, could not now help her on that side. Herr Hitler might be swayed to attack by Italy. The " axis " is an offensive alliance, in which it is Signor Mussolini's turn to get something next. We do not know what price he asked for going to Munich ; but he is likely enough now to raise it. The technique has grown familiar.—Yours, &c., R. C. K. ENSOR.