Zionism at War
ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1939, German tanks moved into Poland, and the Second World War began. Hitler had secured his position the previous month by signing a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union, the only major power that remained in the way of his ambitions. Great Britain and France had thus far indicated a willingness to let Hitler do as he pleased; and the United States remained invisible behind a barrier of neutrality and isolationism.
The failure of the appeasement policy was evident now, and, after Germany ignored a British ultimatum to withdraw from Poland, Great Britain declared war on September 3. The French declaration came five hours later. There was no immediate clash between the German army and those of France and Great Britain, nor would there be for many months, but naval battles began at once, and full-scale hostilities seemed inevitable. Chamberlain, a dismal, depleted figure, brought Winston Churchill into his Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, and disappeared into the background of his administration.
What Churchill called a "sinister trance" prevailed on the European front until the spring of 1940. Then, on April 9, Germany invaded and seized Norway and Denmark. On May 10, German divisions smashed into Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. That evening Churchill replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister, taking over at a bleak moment when it seemed that the Nazi steamroller must inevitably crush Great Britain and France as well. An attempt to push the Germans back from Belgium led to the bottling up of 350,000 Allied troops at the port of Dunkirk, from which they were evacuated on May 26; in June, France collapsed,