- 09 Dec 2023 13:08
December 9, Saturday
Jews murdered on Nazi death march
Two hundred Polish Jews, exhausted and starving, tonight cross the river Bug into Soviet-occupied Poland. The Jews, mainly middle-aged men from the cities of Hrubieszow and Chelm, have been “deported”—brutally force-marched—from their homes by the Germans. The march took a week, in which time 1,400 of the original 1,800 Jews were murdered, often by soldiers competing to see how many could be killed in a given time. A further 200 died from exhaustion and maltreatment.
Russia bombs Helsinki
“General Winter,” normally Russia’s wartime ally, has come to the aid of the Finns. Bad weather has prevented the Red bombers from resuming the attacks on Helsinki which so badly damaged the Finnish capital in the first two days of the war.
The respite has given the Finns a chance to organize their defenses. The fires caused by incendiary bombs have been put out, the rubble has been cleared, and the women and children who fled to the safety of the snow-covered forest have been properly evacuated.
The Finns are in no doubt that the Red bombers will return to their capital as soon as the weather clears, but now they are ready for them. Shelters have been prepared, fire-fighting teams set up, patients evacuated from hospitals, and, with the women and children out of harm’s way, Helsinki’s defenders are confident they can now defy the bombers.
Eighty people died in the first raids, but their deaths and the photographs of the devastation, far from sapping the Finns’ morale, have served only to strengthen their determination to carry on the fight.
Nowhere is this determination more evident than in the Finnish air force. With only 36 Dutch Fokker DXXI fighters backed up by obsolete Bristol Bulldogs, the Finnish pilots have torn into the swarms of Russian aircraft wherever they have appeared over the battle front.
It is true that the Russians, confident of overwhelming the Finns, have not sent in their most modern fighters, but the elan and skill of the Finnish pilots in attacking large formations virtually single-handed have proved to the Russians that this war will not be a walkover.
The Finns’ tactics are simple, brave, and effective. They charge into the middle of the Russian formations, causing them to scatter like a flock of starlings, and then pick off their individual “birds.”
These were the tactics used by Lieutenant Eino Luukkanen when he intercepted and shot down an SB-2 bomber on its way to Helsinki on the second day of the war. The four machine-guns of his Fokker riddled the twin-engined Russian and sent it crashing into the snow.
Help is on its way to the hard-pressed Finns. Britain is sending thirty Gloster Gladiators, and a volunteer squadron of Swedish pilots is being formed.
King inspects British army in the trenches
King George VI has completed a five-day visit to British and French troops defending the Western Front, which he began on December 4th. He has talked with men who have clashed with Germans during night patrols and with pilots who have shot down enemy aircraft. He also ate chicken pie and cheese in a French estaminet and was awarded the Maginot Medal, given to men who serve in the “impregnable” fortifications system. The king crossed the Channel in bad weather and was met by the British C-in-C, Lord Gort.
He made a 100-mile (160-km) tour of the British lines, inspecting trench systems built along the Belgian border to close the gap between the Maginot Line and the Channel coast. He frequently left his car to walk down lines of cheering troops paraded in his honor. Yesterday, visiting the French lines, he was met by President Albert Lebrun. General Gamelin took the king on one of the underground ammunition and troop trains. From a fortified observation post he looked across three miles of no-man’s-land to the German defenses and was shown the Order of the Day: “Be vigilant, keep cool and fire low—to the last round and the last man and a bit more ... your proud watchwords will be: ‘On ne passe pas, on les aura’ [They will not pass, we will win].”
On his return to London the king sends Lord Gort this message: “I am satisfied from all you have shown me that the British soldier of today is at least the equal of his predecessor, both in efficiency and spirit.”
Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.