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The following is reported from reliable sources: "At the beginning of December 1941, 250 German airmen arrived in the neighbourhood of Versailles to recuperate. One evening shortly after their arrival some of the airmen got drunk and talked about Russia and all the sufferings they had undergone, and then they started to sing the `Internationale' raising their clenched 4fists. One of the soldiers who was more drunk than the rest tore off his uniform and trampled it under foot in a fit of rage. The following morning the Commandant of the Paris district demanded that these airmen should be sent back again to the East.
In the streets of Paris it is noticeable that the German soldiers salute their officers much less frequently than in the past and that there is a general laxity in discipline."
A German woman told a Paris dentist who intended to travel to Berlin at the end of December: "You will find Berlin very much changed. There is a general feeling of dissatisfaction. People are depressed and whenever a soldier leaves for the Eastern front, they do not expect him to come back again."
The following account provides interesting evidence of the feeling which prevails amongst the officers of the German army of occupation:
"One of the Captains in the German army of occupation, who was allotted to the Prefecture of Seine-et-Oise requested the `chef de Cabinet' to convince the occupation authorities that he, the Captain, was indispensable. He was to go to the Eastern Front, and now suddenly discovered that his zeal to serve the Third Reich was fully satisfied by his activities as liaison officer between the French Authorities and the German Army."
German soldiers have recently been forbidden to buy any jewelry gold or similar objects without special permission, which is in fact practically always refused.
Officers of the army of occupation had until recently certain privileges, as for instance the requisitioning of foodstuffs. As recently as five months ago the officers were not solely dependent on their food ration card. Now the position is very different. They must now make full use of their ration cards, since they are no longer allowed to requisition food for their own consumption."
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The following is an extract from a conversation between an administrative officer and a Frenchman. The German officer who had formerly studied in Paris said:
"We are lost, only a revolution can save us. For if Hitler remains in power he will sacrifice us to the last man."
The writer of this report, who was in Paris from 22nd December last [year] until 13th January, saw on the roads between the Porte de Neuilly and the Porte de Courbevoie lorries just arriving from the factories of Panhard and Renault. The drivers were German soldiers. Ninety per cent of the existing production of lories in these factories is reserved for the Germans. The lorries are mainly sent to the Eastern front.
Since the 10th of January 1942 the german guards at the gates of Paris have disappeared. All available reserves have been called upon for the Eastern front.
The Paris industrialists who only a few months ago were still fervent supporters of collaboration now almost continually complain about the Germans, their demands, and their highly nervous state which frequently results in impossible situations. The reporter said: "My brother, who is an engineer at a big iron and steel melting work, assured me that all the conferences with the German Authorities show clearly how vital it is for them to get quick delivery."
On February 19th the State Court at Riom at last opened the trial of a number of persons accused of being responsible for the defeat of France. The real reason behind the continuous postponement of the trial cannot of course be openly stated, but it has become increasingly clear through the growing number of publications dealing with the causes of the French collapse. The further the investigation progresses the clearer it becomes that not only those members of the Right now ruling Vichy have a large share in the responsibility, but in particular certain highly placed military personages who still occupy leading positions. Even those people who strive to keep their statements completely in line with the official charges are forced to testify to their own share in the responsibility and guilt.
A typical example of this is the evidence of the former Senator Charles Reibel, member of the Army Commission of the Senate in the period shortly before the war and also during the first months of the war, who tried in vain to remedy certain evils which existed in the system of National Defence of France, and has now reported upon his experiences before the examining judges in the Court of Riom. Reibel, who politically belongs to the Right and was amongst the few members of Parliament who at the time joined the `Parti Social Français' of Lieut. Col. de la Rocque, which was originally the semi-fascist organisation `Croix de Feu', publishes his evidence in the form of a pamphlet. It is significant that this pamphlet is forbidden by the Vichy Government in unoccupied France whilst in the occupied zone where its sale is permitted, the pamphlet has aroused great interest and a third edition has now appeared. Reibel by no means opposes the present rulers of France in his evidence. On the contrary, his statements are clearly directed against Daladier, General Gamelin, and Jacomet who was in control of armaments production, and to a lesser degree, against the former Air Minister Guy de la Chambre, and the men around Daladier.
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In spite of this, however, some of the things Reibel discloses incriminate Admiral Darlan also and the documents reproduced here testify against at least one important part of the official statement.
In Reibel's view the main causes of the French defeat lay in the catastrophic lack of war materials and in the disastrous disorganisation of the High Command together with Daladier's incapacity to remedy these obvious deficiencies in time. He attributes Daladier's failure first and foremost to the fact that he took on far too many government departments. From 1936, he had not only been simultaneously Defence and War Minister, but in 1938 he took over in addition the office of Prime Minister and also exerted considerable influence on foreign affairs. Not only did he lack the time and energy which should have been devoted to each Ministries were united in his person, his authority as arbiter in cases of con-ministries was greatly weakened. This had all the more disastrous consequences as also in the army there was a similar concentration of responsibilities in the hands of one person. General Gamelin was not only Commander in Chief of the combined French military services, but simultaneously in command of the French army. Reibel reveals in his statement that the Army Commission of the Senate had tried in vain to secure a better organisation of the High Command. Daladier never totally disregarded their suggestions, but knew how to prevent them from being carried out by putting off making decisions in this matter and by making half-hearted promises. Amongst the documents which are to be found in Reibel's pamphlet, there is also a letter from General Weygand in which he protests against the unsatisfactory organisation of the High Command, and openly demands the appointment of General Georges as Commander in Chief of the French army.
During the war this demand was partly realised. General Georges received first of all the title of Commander in Chief but without his own General Staff. Later on this was remedied to some extent, but was still not satisfactory as some of General Gamelin's old staff were transferred to him. The French General Staff was therefore divided through its very constitution which naturally increased the difficulties of ensuring the smooth working of the machinery of the High Command. GeneralWeygand also took the opportunity in the above-mentioned letter to speak in the most glowing terms of the military capacity of General Georges. This gives added weight to the judgment of General Georges about the condition of the French supplies of war materials. The information given by General Georges is yet another example of the important documents contained in Reibel's pamphlet. According to this statement dated 23rd May 1939 - a few months before the outbreak of war - conditions as regards the supply of material in the French army were as follows:
Sixty batteries fitted with four inch guns were ordered, only twenty batteries were delivered and even these only arrived at the rate of one battery per month. The Alpine Troops possessed only an out of date model with three inch guns in the way of artillery; the three inch mountain guns which they had asked for had not been produced. The old long barrelled four inch gun belonging to the heavy army artillery was by far inferior to the German guns. Fifty batteries of a similar new model had been ordered of which only seven were delivered. As for heavy artillery, there were only the guns left over from the last war which were absolutely ineffective in number and range. The remedy of these deficiencies by the acquisition of modern guns did not progress beyond the preliminary stage of studying the matter. The new `Brisanz' shells ordered in 1937 had not yet been delivered in May 1939. Anti-aircraft guns of light calibre were first of all imported from Switzerland and Sweden, but in much too small quantities.
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Eight hundred medium anti-aircraft guns were ordered, only three hundred and sixty delivered. Of these the nationalised Schneider factories alone had given rapid delivery of two hundred, when for unknown reasons their production was discontinued. Heavy anti-aircraft artillery was totally lacking. In addition to this there was a lack of munition for rifles, and insufficient tanks (although excellent tank models existed), but here again production was much too slow. The same applied to anti-tank guns.
Here, as in the case of medium anti-aircraft guns produced by the nationalised firm of Schneider, General Georges makes a very interesting observation backed by his full authority, namely that the nationalised Hotchkiss factories fulfilled their contracts for anti-tank guns at a quite reasonable speed whereas the works in Puteaux which were not yet nationalised only delivered forty guns out of two thousand which had been ordered. The theory of the Vichy Government and their closely connected allies, the French heavy industry, according to which the nationalisation of the armaments industry was responsible for the failure of French rearmament, it therefore crushingly refuted, in so far as the anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns were concerned. This is similar evidence to that provided by Pierre Cot with regard to the manufacture of aeroplanes, in his article in "Foreign Affairs". These facts lead us rather to the conclusion that the private section of the armament industry systematically sabotages rearmament, which is not surprising considering how closely these circles were (and still are) connected with Germanophil high finance. No wonder the Vichy Government has sought to suppress the pamphlet of Reibel.
This becomes still more obvious as Reibel makes also the sensational disclosure that at the hour of direst peril, when the Germans were already nearing Paris, the Naval Command which was at that time in the hands of Admiral Darlan, refused to hand over from their arsenals the long range eight inch naval guns and the munitions both of which were there in ample quantity and which should have been used as anti-tank batteries. From Reibel's description it becomes clear that this was a manifestation of departmental jealousy. In Reibel's own words: "The Navy, which had never ceased to be hostile to a combined organisation of national defence, insisted on keeping its war material although this could have been much more effectively used elsewhere than on the French coasts, already sufficiently protected by the English and French fleets." This serious accusation against Darlan is the chief point of sensational interest in Reibel's pamphlet, and indicates the deeper causes of the lamentable organisation of the French national defence, which have up till now never been revealed or even so much as hinted at.
In the official publication of the Civil Administration dated 31st October 1941, there appeared the Fourth Decree. This concerns measures in the sphere of criminal jurisdiction introducing into Luxembourg special laws against high treason and against attacks on the Leader and Chancellor of the Reich. According to these laws there are the heaviest penalties, such as the death sentence and life imprisonment, for acts against the German Reich and against the areas where the Germans claim the rights of settlement (`Siedlungsraum'). Anyone who sets out to destroy the national unity by force or threat of force incurs the death penalty. Similarly anyone who attempts in any way to interfere with the re-incorporation of Luxembourg in the German Reich by aiming either at re-establishing her independence or at her incorporation into another country must pay with his life for the disgrace he has brought upon his countrymen. The same penalty is imposed for intent to commit the above mentioned crime,
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for encouragement of, incitement to, or any other means of spreading treasonable acts, for relations with foreign Government, for the purpose of committing such acts. A crime of this nature is committed by the printing or distribution of leaflets, pamphlets and cartoons, or the use of any other means such as the radio etc. for the above mentioned aims.
The illegal Socialist Party of Belgium held some preliminary discussions for the preparation of a party programme as a result of which so-called `directives generales de programme' were issued which we have in the original. These ten closely typewritten sheets, divided into seven main subdivisions, express their views about the socialist order which should be introduced in their future State. In our next letters we shall deal more in detail with some of these suggestions.
German metal worker who has been working in a Hamburg dockyard since April of last year reports:
"Our factory constructed five U-boats during the period between April and the end of the year. We could have built ten but the slogan amonst the workers is: Work as slowly as you possibly can. During the first few days that I worked there I went to the factory foundry in order to have some spare part cast for my work. It was in the morning and I asked them to have the job finished by about 11 o'clock. But the worker concerned gave me to understand quite clearly and in plain language that I should not be too pushing. `You can come again at 4 o'clock, not a minute earlier'. It is easier for the foreign workers in this dockyard to carry out this slogan `Go slow'. They can give as an excuse their inexperience or their language difficulties. The German workers also do all in their power to promote sabotage which usually takes the form of `unavoidable' accidents to the machines, with the raw materials, etc. On one occasion the dockyard was badly damaged by English bombs. For three whole days it was impossible to work there as clearance and repair work and a reorganisation of the factory had to be carried out."
"There is a good understanding between the German and foreign workers not only when it is a case of sabotaging the German armaments production. The German workers provide their foreign comrades with information since they can often read German newspapers only with great difficulty. In return their foreign friends tell them about some of the things which they have heard on the Allied broadcasts. The fact that the German war industry has been forced to employ over four million non-German workers in German production has played a great part in keeping alive the anti-nationalist spirit. The friendship which exists between the German and foreign workers goes so far that big activities are undertaken and are successfully carried out to help the foreign workers to escape."
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The morale in Germany is very bad, we are told:
"People are becoming more and more sceptical about the outcome of the war. The ordinary people are definitely against the anti-semitic decrees, but are naturally afraid to help Jews since it is strictly forbidden. The warden of a tenement brought some fruit to her Jewish tenants for Christmas with the words, `No Jew has ever done me any harm. I am glad to be able to bring you this because I am conscious what crimes the German people have committed against you.' "
A Jewish woman who since last spring has worked together with another Jewess at Siemens in Berlin, reports about the orders given to the Aryan male and female workers to avoid any contact with the Jewish workers, who were then completely isolated from the other workers. She relates that: "Some of the foremen who were former socialists were very kind to us in spite of this. I was on very good terms with one of them. They are without exception against the Regime, but live in constant fear that the Gestapo will find out something against them. The above-mentioned foreman remarked one day: `You Jews are at least lucky enough to be able to talk fairly openly amongst each other. I can't do this even with my own wife, since I cannot be sure that she will not repeat something to her brother who might betray me to the Nazis.'"
In December the SS requisitioned for billeting purposes the corner houses in the streets of Berlin, houses which provided good observation-posts. And were well suited for machine-gun nests. This fact is well-known in Berlin, and everyone regards these measures as a preparation for the immediate suppression of any unrest in Berlin.
In December a deserter from the German army arrived in a neutral country; he was a native of Berlin, about thirty-five years old, who had been on military service in Poland where he had the task of guarding Polish workers in a munition factory in the neighbourhood of Cracow. He said: "I deserted because I could not bear it any longer to see how we are exterminating the Polish people. The Polish workers whom I guarded in the armament factory received a wage of eight sloty per day (a pound of bread costs twelve zloty!). There were 4,000 workers employed there. The workers and their families lived in barracks surrounded by large boardings. They were treated like prisoners. All German soldiers in Poland have received strict orders to give the Poles nothing, not even a morsel of bread. I shall never forget the Polish children who cried out to us through the gaps in the boarding: `A piece of bread, please sir, a piece of bread!' With my own eyes I saw an SS man shoot blindly at these children to drive them away."
A German soldier relates:
"I formerly worked in Switzerland and reported for military service on being called up. A few weeks later (after training for the infantry which included a very intensive gas training, and exercising up to seven hours with gasmasks) I was sent to Warsaw together with fifty men in order to accompany a team of munition lorries to Smolensk. Between Warsaw and Smolensk we had to fight some Russian guerrillas which was no easy task; but nevertheless we succeeded in bringing the majority of the lorries as far as Smolensk. In the neighbourhood of Smolensk I witnessed the following incident: In a wood which was situated like an island in the midst of a plain, several thousands of Russian prisoners had been herded together. Surrounding the wood were SS-men. A propaganda company approached and asked the SS-men to call a few Russian prisoners together who should put their hands up as they came. This was filmed.
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The treatment of the Russians was terrible. They were given nothing to eat. They slept in holes in the ground which they had dug and covered with twigs. In camps where the Russian prisoners were waiting to be transported to Germany and Poland, more than one case of cannibalism occurred."
"The SS are the devils of this war. They have sworn neither to take any prisoners nor to allow themselves to be made prisoners. The SS men have injections with which they intoxicate themselves before a battle. Many of them look greatly aged which they come back on leave and give the impression of drug addicts."
This soldier also says: "I am convinced that the Germans won't win the war."
This is an extract from the first reports of a member of the Swiss Medical Mission on their return from the Eastern front. He was still in Mojaisk fourteen days before its capture by the Russians. His operating theatre was a cellar in which he carried out amputations on the average of sixteen to eighteen per day. There was no water at his disposal, he worked by candlelight, and sometimes even in a temperature of thirty degrees below zero. The patients were often carried away immediately the operation was over; it is probable that most of them developed wound fever on the way and by the time they arrived at the rear were at the point of death.
The Swiss insurance companies who have a special interest in the death rate of the Germans have reckoned out (they have a good basis for this in their insurance statistics) that up to the middle of December about one million two hundred thousand German soldiers had been killed. Another interesting report in the same direction comes from the old age insurance society of a Swiss Canton. In this place those Germans who are residents and work in Switzerland are compulsorily insured. Many of them were called up in September for military service in Germany and already in December and January the insurance companies had received death certificates.
From another German soldier we hear about the morals of the soldiers returning from the Eastern front.
"All of them return completely changed. Practically none of them feel any longer like human beings. They speak loudly and angrily about the hell from which they have come. If they are warned to be more careful their reaction is: `It is all the same to me whether I die here and now or rot out there.' Most of them no longer believe that Germany will win the war. I have the impression that it will not be very long before a mutiny breaks out amongst these soldiers." This impression is of course a matter of feeling. What is sure, however, is that the certainty of victory which was formerly felt by the German soldiers has given place to a feeling of anxiety and fear.
We hear from many small reports which leak through that: "One gets more and more the impression that the morale in the Third Reich is in fact very low and that people's doubts as to the possibility of a German victory are daily increasing. Time and again in the trains those who have returned from the Eastern front are heard loudly grumbling against the war and the regime."
"Many of those on leave from the Eastern front long not to have to go back again. But in spite of this most of them do not desert, because they fear the reprisals which might be inflicted on their relations."