Eighty years ago: chickens trump an eagle, a bull with unusual horns and an officer caste with no backbone

In a magnificently staged demonstration of popular support crowds of ordinary Mexicans turned up to make donations to pay the debts of the foreign oil companies that President Cardenas had just expropriated. Chief amongst them was Mexican Eagle, hitherto a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. The donations ranged from jewellery to chickens; many of the demonstrators were women.

Léon Blum’s gamble to rearm France from the left failed. The Senate denied him the powers to impose a far reaching programme of debt-financed military spending backed up by exchange controls. It was light years away from anything the first incarnation of the Front Populaire could have imagined. Blum resign to be replaced by Edouard Daladier of the right-wing Radicals. He was promptly voted almost the same powers denied to Blum. Daladier broadcast a tough, resolute imagine, but many knew better and to insiders he was the “bull with the horns of snail”. 

Perversely enough the final proof that the German officer class had entirely surrendered to the Hitler regime came when a military “court of honour” exonerated General von Fritsch of the entirely spurious accusations of homosexuality that had been used to remove him when his colleague von Blomberg had laid himself open to dismissal by marrying a former prostitute and pornographic model. After von Fritsch’s name had been cleared not a single one of his fellow senior officers made any attempt to lobby for his reinstatement or even to display solidarity with him.


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