From: South Carolina, USA
May 25th, 1938
Baldwin Hanson, Military analyst, New York Tribune
The Tribune is working overtime as the cable from South America is not functioning properly. During this lull I will try and provide an overview of the current conflict.
First let us try and analyze why there is a war in Europe. After a treaty breaking rearmament Germany threatened the Benelux countries with a major invasion. After polling the situation with their allies, the Low Countries caved into German demands and allowed the Heer to take over their defense. Their armed forces were disbanded, and their resources were diverted to Germany. This resulted in a significant increase in German strength.
The Soviet Union saw the coup in the Low Countries as the first stage in a campaign in the west against France and sought a riposte. They tried a threat of their own against Poland, and the Poles saw the new calculus of forces in Europe had turned against them and capitulated to the USSR. The USSR concluded an unexpected alliance with France.
Germany woke up to find a powerful France and Great Britain in the west, and Poland occupied by the Red Army. The Soviets were a more potent threat to East Prussia than Poland ever was and, once occupied, Poland would provide the Soviets with a springboard threatening Berlin itself. What was Germany to do?
Here in America I can only speculate but my theory is Germany was faced with a multi-part dilemma. The USA, the USSR, and the Franco-British Allies had immense potential. France and Britain were bound together in Europe. The Americans and Soviets were immature but were threatening to be Powers a level above any other country. German planners looked at productive capacity and realized their Fatherland was soon going to be a second-rate power in a world dominated by “super” powers. Germany had one chance to avoid this fate. They must strike now, boldly and quickly, and weld continental Europe into a power to challenge the coming great powers. There was certainly no room for a Soviet Union dominating Poland. In a Europe at peace Germany must go to war.
Germany was not alone in the world. The Italians and Japanese were joined to Germany in an Axis alliance. Germany knew Italy was weak and the Wilhelmstrasse worked to slow the Italian progress towards war. The Italian The Italians were greedy for gains in the Mediterranean area, and Germany saw ports and cities to defend. The German planners worked on ways to turn a potential liability to an asset.
Japan was not weak, but she was at war with a tough foe. The United States were deeply concerned that Japan might become even more powerful in the Far East. The United States had sympathy with China and had begun a moral embargo on Japan. The Soviet Union had a long border with Japan, a border which had seen recent conflict. Japan could not afford to weaken her defenses along this border.
The current situation has the Franco-British and Soviets allied, and the Soviets building up their forces facing Germany. War with the Soviets will come with any German attacks other than the current conflict with the French and British. An attack on Denmark, for example, would be a casus belli for the USSR. As long as the alliance between the Soviets and the West persists Germany will have to think twice while reshaping Europe.
All this is only my view from the Tribune’s offices in New York. London, Paris, and Moscow will all see things differently. Germany, Japan, and Italy all seem contained at present and only military success for the Axis can change this.