This article appeared in the June 17, 1944 edition of The Nation.
June 6, 1944: the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.
D-Day was hailed with a sense of relief all over the -world, but people were quick to realize that a new period of tension lay ahead. Now we must wait again, keeping our nerves under control, for indications that the invasion has succeeded. According to Arthur Krock of the New York Times, the High Command expects a lapse of four to five weeks before any conclusive verdict on General Eisenhower’s operations can be given. By that time the whole design of the grand strategy decided on at the Teheran conference may have emerged. For it must not be forgotten that the landings in France are not an isolated event. They are linked closely to the drive in Italy, which is developing with such success, to the campaign of Marshal Tito, which may be supplemented by Allied operations in the Balkans, and, finally but most important of all, to the new blows which the Red Army has begun to deliver on the eastern front.
In the immediate future we can expect plenty of colorful details of the fighting but little news of the kind that will enable us to assess its progress. There will be no release from Allied headquarters of any information that could possibly help the enemy. This involves a risk that the public will pay too much attention to the artfully concocted mixture of fact and fancy that Goebbels is serving in generous portions. We can only hope that the press will be careful in handling stories from this source. It was unfortunate, to say the least, that the fall of Caen was headlined on a German say-so when next day the papers had to admit that the battle for the town continued.
The broad outline of General Eisenhower’s strategy became clear as soon as the location of the first landings were known. It was based upon the geography of the Cotentin Peninsula, which sticks into the English Channel like a raised thumb. At its northern tip, less than ninety miles from the nearest point of the English coast, is the well-equipped deep-water port of Cherbourg. The shores of the peninsula are rocky and unsuitable for landing craft but immediately to the east are the wide sandy beaches of the Bay of the Seine. Here the chief landing—to date—was made and a beachhead established cutting the main road and rail communications of Cherbourg. At the same time the peninsula itself was saturated with Allied parachutists whose apparent objective was to isolate Cherbourg and prevent any Nazi reinforcements from reaching it. If this port can be captured the first essential for the deep penetration of France—a good supply base where heavy equipment can be landed—will have been secured.