The Onlooker November 1939



The Onlooker November 1939


Political news-sheet from the Conservative party covering issues: the national effort a warning to grumblers, information for farmers, parliamentary commentary, local conservative party meetings, life in Germany concentrating on food shortages and rationing and life under Nazis, naval issues, critique of pledges and promises made by Hitler. Includes one b/w photograph of civilian family digging in garden.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage




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November, 1939

A Warning to Grumblers

PERHAPS the best compliment that has been paid to the truly wonderful way in which the nation has been reorganized for war is the fact that we are still able to grumble and complain about comparatively little things.

[indecipherable words] done in a big way and with striking success. The Navy has taken command of the seas. The U-boat campaign was crippled in the first weeks of war. The convoy system was set in operation without an hour's avoidable delay.

The British Expeditionary Force of nearly 200,000 men, magnificently equipped and provided with 25,000 mechanised vehicles, was landed in France without a hitch and without a casualty.

Our Air Force was ready from the first day, alike for its tasks on the Western Front, for the defence of our ports and cities against air raids and for anti-submarine work and convoy patrols.

The general defence system against air raids was ready and waiting from the first hour and if it was still waiting after two months one cause of this may well be its own efficiency and thoroughness.

It is just because these and other major [indecipherable word] of the war have been undertaken with signal success that many people have been grumbling and worrying over lesser things.

Some evacuees make no secret of the fact that they do not like [indecipherable words] holders are equally certain that they do not much care for their evacuees.

Other people talk about a shortage of bacon, a rise in prices, darkened railway compartments, reduced train services, restricted petrol allowances and all the bothers and inconveniences of the black-out.

No doubt these things are annoying and it is certainly a good thing that people are allowed to grumble and not, as in Germany, compelled to keep their mouths shut, if they want to escape the concentration camp.

But if we must complain – and are free to get it off our chests – let us keep things in the right perspective and, remembering that we are at war, take care not to make mountains out of molehills.

There were evacuees and householders in Poland, and we have seen the tragic pictures of them trudging along the roads in the rain, pushing wheelbarrows and perambulators containing all that was left of their homes.

We have also seen pictures of Polish towns, towns much like our own, with buses and trams in the streets, until German bombs [missing words]

So far we have been spared any such sufferings and horrors and at the same time the Government, putting first things first, has put in force all the active defence measures with remarkable speed and thoroughness.

In the same spirit and with the same zeal, all the other measures for the maintenance of the country on a war footing can be rapidly strengthened and improved. Meanwhile, do not let us exaggerate our personal inconveniences. A little patience and our British sense of humour will do much to maintain the full vigour of our support for the Government in its gigantic tasks.

If we should beware of the insidious habit of grumbling, we should also be on our guard against rumour and gossip. There was the story of the German radio report that the town hall clock in a Scottish burgh had stopped at a particular hour. In fact, the

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German radio made no such statement, and the town hall in question has no clock!

There was another story about certain recruits sleeping on straw, with only one blanket and going short of food. The local M.P. made enquiries on the spot and found the food plentiful and each man with "an excellent straw palliasse and three good blankets." So much for gossip.

Here are some of the points from a recent interview granted by Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, Minister of Agriculture, to the Sunday Times:-
We are not farming from Whitehall.

Our plans to bring 1,500,000 acres under the plough are being carried out with as little interference from London as possible [indecipherable words] on the spot who know [indecipherable words] farms. [indecipherable words]

Whatever price we fix for wheat in 1940 will give a fair return to the farmer, and that pledge "has the full backing and authority of the Cabinet.

Local Conservative associations and branches in some parts of the country have found a way of "beating the black-out."

Meetings for the furtherance of the national war effort and social gatherings, such as whist drives, are being arranged for evenings round about the time of full moon, instead of being spread out over the month, as in peace time.

These moonlight meetings have proved to be very popular and one local agent writes, "We are getting even better attendances than we did last winter." So moonlight meetings are a good idea.

During the difficult days since war was declared, Parliament has acquitted itself in a manner worthy of its highest traditions. In short, it has risen to the occasion.

When the Government introduced the formidable series of measures necessary for the safety of the nation and the effective prosecution of the war, these measures were passed with exemplary speed. It was the time for deeds, not debates, and the House of Commons showed the world that in the hour of challenge a democratic assembly has a capacity for swift and resolute action, which a dictator might envy.

There have been many notable speeches since the Prime Minister's memorable pronouncement on the Sunday when we entered the war. More impressive than all else, however, has been the series of weekly statements in which the Prime Minister has surveyed the progress of the war, expounded and encouraged the national war effort and answered the claims and charges of the enemy.

In these and other speeches, the Prime Minister has [indecipherable word] a remarkable grasp of realities, combined with determination, decision and drive. He has thus attained an unchallenged authority in his leadership of the House.

As the days have gone by, with their many problems, the House of Commons has maintained its right to examine and discuss both the proposals put before it and the actions of the executive as they affect the lives of the people and the successful conduct of the war.

There has been complete freedom of speech and, rightly or wrongly, members have on occasion given vent to comments and criticisms which elsewhere would have landed them straight into a concentration camp.

Watching the House at question time when Ministers are faced with dozens of questions regarding their conduct of affairs, one cannot but wonder how Hitler would explode if members of his suspended Reichstag suddenly got together and asked him the why and wherefore of his policy regarding food, petrol, evacuation and so on. The Gestapo would soon put a stop to all that.

If, now and again, as in the Old Age Pensions debate, members have been tempted to revive party politics, Parliament, broadly speaking, has contrived to combine a constant watchfulness with steady support of the national effort. This is doubtless because widespread throughout the House there is a recognition of the promptitude, efficiency and vision with which the Government has acted in all that ultimately matters in the prosecution of the war, whether affecting the Navy, the Army, the Air Force or Home Defence.

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SO scarce was food in Germany that strict rationing had to be introduced even before the invasion of Poland. As a result Berlin was swept clean of meat, butter, olive oil and all other fat-containing substances.

A typical German food ration for one day consists of: breakfast – rye meal soup and bread; dinner – spinach soup, pumpkin, potatoes, bacon; supper – vegetable noodles, bread and blackberry leaf tea.

Berlin housewives have been standing in long queues at butchers' shops licensed to sell horse meat only. In fact queuing up for many hours on end has become a daily occurrence.

All holidays for German workers are now forbidden, save in case of illness or urgent family affairs.

Only war "substitute" soap is now available in Germany. Ration: 3 oz. per month. Clothing is also rationed, no man may possess more than two suits, and bathing suits are being used as underclothes.

Such is the financial plight of Germany that the Government are planning to commandeer the funds of the savings banks and insurance companies. No wonder Goering, Ribbentrop and Co. have invested their savings abroad!

No criticism of the Nazi régime is permitted in Germany and the mildest grumble against authority is liable to lead to arrest by the Gestapo. Thousands of people have been dragged off to the concentration camps and, as recent revelations show, are being most brutally treated.

A British family cheerfully starts to turn the garden into a war allotment.

TALES from the SEA
Has the British Navy got the stranglehold on the U-boats? It looks very much like it.

During the last war the U-boats sank over 300,000 tons of our merchant shipping every month for months on end, and in one month they sent almost 900,000 tons to the bottom.

It is a very different tale this time. In September we lost 155,000 tons and in October our losses were down to 83,000 tons. That is a long way below the 300,000 tons a month of the last war.

And in the process of attacking our merchant ships, one out of every three U-boats was either sunk or seriously damaged in the first two months of the war.

Meanwhile the British and French fleets seized over 600,000 tons of contraband intended to reach Germany, the British share being 420,000 tons.

Our contraband captures included 12 million gallons of petrol.

DIARY - 1940.
The Conservative and Unionist Pocket Book for 1940 – a combined pocket book and diary – is now ready. Price 1/2, post free, from Sales and Supply Section, Palace Chambers, London, S.W.1.

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"We Won't Lie and We Won't Swindle"

HERE are some of the pledges and promises which Hitler has given the world since he became Chancellor of the German Reich. They are all taken from his public speeches. Fuller extracts from these speeches are to be found in "A Hitler Calendar," published by [italics] The Times [/italics] at the price of one penny, or 1s. 9d., post free, for 25 copies.

The first and best point of the Government's programme is that we won't lie and we won't swindle. – [italics] Berlin, February [/italics] 10, 1933.

The German people have no thought of invading any country. – [italics] Berlin, May [/italics] 17, 1933.

We do not want a war merely for the purpose of bringing to Germany people who simply do not want to be, or cannot be, Germans. – [italics] On the wireless, May [/italics] 27, 1933.

I am not crazy enough to want a war. . . . The German people have but one wish – to be happy in their own way and to be left in peace. They do not interfere in other people's business, and others should not interfere in theirs. . . . When has the German people ever broken its word? – [italics] Berlin, November [/italics] 10, 1933.

We do not wish to interfere with the rights of others, to restrict the lives of other people. – [italics] Lippe, January [/italics] 14, 1934.

Germany has concluded a non-aggression pact with Poland which is much more than a valuable contribution to European peace, and she will adhere to it unconditionally. . . . We recognise the Polish State as the home of a great patriotic nation with the understanding and the cordial friendship of candid nationalists. – [italics] Berlin, May [/italics] 21, 1935.

The German Reich, and in particular the present German Government, has no other wish than to live on friendly and peaceable terms with all neighbouring States – not only the larger States but the neighbouring smaller States. – [italics] Berlin, May [/italics] 21, 1935.

We want to be a peace-loving element among the nations. We cannot repeat that often enough [italics] Berlin, January [/italics] 30, 1936.

The motto must be, "Never war again" – [italics] Berlin, May [/italics] 1, 1938.

In general we have but one wish – that in [missing word] coming year we may be able to make our contribution to this general pacification of the whole [missing word]. – [italics] Berchtesgaden, January [/italics] 1, 1939.

Only the war-mongers think there will be a war. I think there will be a long period of peace – [italics] Berlin, January [/italics] 30, 1939.

Germany is the bulwark of the West [missing word] Bolshevism. – [italics] Berlin, November [/italics] 29, 1935.

We see in Bolshevism a bestial, mad doctrine which is a threat to us. – [italics] Nuremberg, September [/italics] 13, 1936.

We look upon Bolshevism as upon an intolerable danger to the world. . . . Any treaty links between Germany and present-day Bolshevist Russia would be without any value whatsoever – [italics] Berlin, January [/italics] 30, 1937.

If the sub-human forces of Bolshevism had proved victorious in Spain they might easily have spread across the whole of Europe. – [italics] Berlin, April [/italics] 28, 1939.

We have assured all our immediate neighbours of the integrity of their territory as far as Germany is concerned. That is no hollow phrase; it is our sacred will. . . .

The Sudetenland is the last territorial claim which I have to make in Europe. . . . I have assured Mr. Chamberlain, and I emphasise it now, that when this problem is solved Germany has no more territorial problems in Europe. – [italics] Berlin, September [/italics] 26, 1938.

Speaking in Berlin on September 1, 1939, when Germany was already planning to bomb open towns in Poland, Herr Hitler said:-
"I will not war against women and children. I have ordered my air force to restrict itself to attacks on military objectives."

Two days later the "Athenia," unarmed and [missing word] many women on board, was sunk.

Printed and Published for the Proprietors by Deverell, Gibson & Hoare, Ltd., 5, Lavington Street, Southwark, London, S.E.1



Conservative party, “The Onlooker November 1939,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 26, 2024,

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