The shape of conflicts to come

The Parliamentary debate on the Air Raid Precautions bill gave a flavour of the war that the government was preparing for. The junior Home Office minister gave an account of live experiments that had been carried out to test the recommended precautions against various types of gas attacks, replicating gas bombing by aircraft. A cottage was bombarded with increasing amounts of chlorine gas, mustard gas and tear gas. The minister, perhaps unsurprisingly, reported that humans in the rooms made safe in accordance with the handbook circulated by the Air Raid Precautions Department were largely immune and that gas-masks were effective. Just to remind listeners of the risks, he did admit that animals in an unprotected room were killed by the chlorine gas.

Hjalmar Schacht was finally put out of his misery as Germany’s Minister for Economics and allowed to resume full-time work as the head of the Reichsbank central bank. His political position had become increasingly threadbare as Herman Goering as chief of the four-year had increasingly dominated the management of the national economy. Any pretence at conventional economic policy disappeared in the face of a strategy or autarky and maximum rearmament. Perhaps fittingly Schacht was replaced by Walter Funk from the Ministry of Propaganda. The job had become merely an exercise in window-dressing.

The scale of far-right activity in France was thrown into stark relief by a series of raids on properties belonging to supporters of Duke Pozzo di Borgo’s Union des Comités d’Action Défensive (UCAD) formed to fight any communist uprising. These raids discovered a number of veritable arsenals at locations across France. Pozzo di Porgo had split with Colonel de la Rocque a few months before over the colonel’s “legitimist” strategy which placed conventional politics before direct action. The UCAD was connected to the Cagoule terrorist movement. The two men were merrily suing each other for defamation and it is a fair guess that de la Rocque’s side had helped the police with information ahead of the raids.


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