October 9, 2019

1940. Germany's Plans for Europe After the Fall of France

"The Continent of Europe is Now Fighting England"
"Another pinchbeck Napoleon arises!" Editorial cartoon from the Glasgow Bulletin, reprinted in The New York Times on June 30, 1940
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe. One week after the signing of the armistice that marked the end of the Battle of France, Times correspondent C. Brooks Peters reported from Berlin on what German newspapers were saying about Germany's plans for a "new Europe."

From The New York Times, June 30, 1940:
Berlin Projects From the Compiegne Armistice a Europe Nazi-Controlled and Directed

BERLIN, June 29 — When in the Forest of Compiègne on June 22 General Charles Huntziger, representing defeated France, affixed his signature to the German armistice terms, he not only signed incontestable proof of the military crushing of France, but also the death warrant of the liberal democratic tradition on the European Continent for an indefinite period. With the elimination of France as a determining political factor on the Continent, the last formidable stronghold of the democratic way of life on the European mainland has been wiped out by the armed might of the authoritarian movement. Democratic citadels do still exist on this turbulent continent, for example, Switzerland. But their position has become increasingly difficult with each successive authoritarian conquest.

Their future, moreover, is acknowledged to depend in no small measure on their ability to placate or at least not to offend the authoritarian Colossi.

The leading National Socialist party evening newspaper, the Angriff, made this quite clear this week.

"The Europe that was will never return," said the Angriff. "The State that wants to live in the new Europe must also acknowledge allegiance to the new European spirit. The new Europe will also be a Europe in which none may sully without punishment the land that stands at its head. Citizens of Switzerland, you must add that to your knowledge."

'Duties' for Small States

The authoritative Suedost Echo expresses the same sentiments even more positively.

"The solidarity of the Continent will no longer be a mere phrase of the League of Nations in the new period that is dawning," says this journal. "It will not only contain rights for the small States but also duties."

So, even should these small States survive and be able to maintain their internal sovereignty, they will have to reorientate themselves to the "new order" in Europe and sacrifice in addition to their economic independence much of the individual freedom of thought and expression and action which hitherto their subjects or citizens have enjoyed.

This "solidarity of the Continent," moreover, became this week after the Compiègne agreement the dominant note of editorial comment in the leading papers of the German press.

'Continent Fights England'

"After the fall of the last European traitor, France," the Suedost Echo asserted, "the Continent of Europe is now fighting England."

It will be necessary, the press adds, to develop a "continental feeling" among the nations of the European mainland, led by the Reich.

The Bergwerkszeitung says that Britain has been thrown out of Europe and has become "what befits her nature—an island on the outskirts of Europe, inhabited by a people of insular character."

When the Germans speak of continental solidarity they mean the reorganization of Europe, particularly Southeastern Europe, in terms of "Realpolitik."

The Balkanization of a large part of Europe in the past, it is said here, meant merely the existence of a chaotic conglomeration of States pursuing conflicting political and economic aims, which made Europe nothing but a geographic conception.

Having galvanized German unity and beaten all his Western enemies to date, except the British, Adolf Hitler, in the opinion of neutral diplomatic circles here, is now determined to establish political and economic stability in Southeastern Europe, in accordance with what Germany and Italy, but chiefly Germany, believe to be the best interests of the Southeastern States as members of the family of nations in what is known as the "New Europe."

More Planned Economy

With the entrance of Italy into the war, the task was made simpler for the Axis powers. To all practical purposes the European Continent is cut off from trade with Britain and the continental nations must further adjust their economies to meet the requirements of the Axis. The demonstration of prowess by the German armed forces has unquestionably had also a political reaction in the smaller European nations that have been favorable to the authoritarian states.

One thing appears certain. The aims of the Reich in Europe presume the progressive enforcement of a policy of planned economy similar to that adopted within Greater Germany. It may take the form of a customs union for which the reichsmark will be the yardstick.

The dark horse in Southeastern Europe is Russia. It was believed the interests of Russia would be represented in this new economic reconstruction program. Her annexation of Bessarabia, however, may perhaps introduce a new factor in these calculations of the Germans.

Although official German quarters declare this move on the part of Joseph Stalin comes within the scope of the Russian-German demarcation of their last respective spheres of influence last August, the opinion of Italy, which had declared the status quo in the Balkans must for the present be preserved, is still unknown. Italy is to be the Reich's junior partner in the proposed reorganization of the Continent.

Should the "new order" in Europe be fully achieved, which naturally presupposes the military defeat of the British, it will not, the Germans say, again be disturbed by Britain.

A Total Blockade

The blockade of Britain by Germany, the Germans add, will now become in effect a blockade by the entire European Continent. The British Navy, therefore, has become a factor of paramount interest for the entire Continent, so that any peace settlement between Britain and Germany must stipulate Anglo-German naval parity, according to German calculations.

Therewith, it is said here, Britain will not ever again be able to dominate the seas and thereby be in a position to initiate another blockade of the European Continent living under its German-directed "new order."

It is not, however, only the small European nations that are going to have to make readjustments in their way of life as a result of the implications of Compiègne. The National Socialist crusade against the Jews is still an integral part of the National Socialist party's dynamic program.

This week, Dr. Robert Ley, head of the Nazi Labor Front, declared that "freedom" for Europe meant "freeing Europe from the Jews." That, he added, was being progressively effected by the advance of the banners of authoritarianism, and it would not be long, he added, until this "freedom" was finally achieved.