Student Returning from Europe Believes British Supremacy Big War Query
War Is Clash of Imperialistic Ambitions of Germany And Allies
(Editor's Note: The following impressions of Europe on the verge of its second Great War from the student's point of view were written by a student who travelled this summer in England, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy.)
In the present European war there is only one thing at stake: the supremacy and preponderance of the British empire. That's the conclusion reached by almost every student who spent last summer travelling in the theatre of today's conflict.
Stripped of the lofty purposes which His Majesty's government has ascribed to its campaign "to end Hitlerism," the war appears to be merely a clash of rival imperialism. All are agreed that the late summer months marked desperate preparation on both sides for the struggle the belligerents found so inevitable.
The British public had lost patience with the gentle appeasement policy of its leaders long before Chamberlain and his ministers abandoned that policy. The French petit bourgeois railed at the German menace which he thought had been ended forever in 1918. Only a faded hope remained for a peaceful way out.
Methodically and without emotion the French answered the call to mobilization, shorn of the martial glamor which surrounded the heroic defences of 1914. Declaration of war must have been a shock to Germany. "No war this time," they all said as the Danzig crisis reached a boiling point. "The Fuehrer will find a way out."
Primed by Nazi propaganda the Rhinelanders argued simply, "Why should England fight over what rightfully belongs to us?" But whether or not they believed it was another question. Around the twentieth of August the government forbade the sale of gasoline and moved artillery on the Reichautobahns to frontiers. Obviously it was not bluffing this time.
Belgium was an armed camp in late August. Disillusioned and crushed by the Prussian ravages of 25 years ago, the subjects of youthful King Leopold were prepared for the worst. A week before Hitler marched into Poland the cry was unanimous: "C'est la guerre! Ah, C'est terrible." Nevertheless no one thought that Flemish neutrality would be violated.
Holland Well Prepared
But the Dutch were not so confident. Their borders bristled with dugouts and pillboxes. Like the Swiss they had mined their roads and bridges, had requisitioned cars, trucks, buses and bicycles to transport munitions to the German frontier.
Across the channel Great Britain was virtually counting the days until America would fulfill its "obligation" to help them in the crisis. Would the States come in soon? "Of course," they answered. The Tommies were sorry about owing us the huge debt left over from the last war but were not prepared to do anything about it.