Tuesday, January 2, 1945

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 2, 1945


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, as of Monday at noon, the Third Army had advanced two additional miles into the southern flank of the German Bulge line, north and west of Bastogne, overrunning Moircy and driving into Bornerie, as reports stated that German troop columns were observed moving east in the St. Vith area, while the Ninth Air Force bombed an armored column five miles to the northeast near Ambleve. Observers took these troop movements to be possible indications of the beginning of German withdrawal from Belgium.

The corridor had been narrowed to thirteen miles between the Third and First Armies. Nine towns, Hubermont, Houmont, Chernonge, Remange, Wardin, Moircy, Neffe, Harlange, and Echternach, were captured.

To the northwest side of the Bulge, American patrols moved 3,000 yards into the "no man's land" area of Hotton-Marche, but experienced no contact with enemy forces.

The German push toward the Seventh Army line had been scotched, with the exception of that in the wooded area near Bannstein, six miles southeast of Bitche. But another prong of the offensive was striking near Volkingen in the Saar, between Saarbrucken and Sarreguemines.

Clear weather permitted a thousand American heavy bombers, accompanied by 650 fighters, to drop more than 3,000 tons of bombs just east of Patton's forces, without meeting any Luftwaffe resistance. A German tank column was struck while moving through a wooded area northeast of Saarlautern. The previous day, the Germans had lost between 200 and 363 planes either from the air or by ground fire.

Hal Boyle reported that the SS had murdered at least a hundred Belgian civilians, 63 in the Stavelot area, during the first few days of the Bulge offensive, clubbing, shooting, and even burning to death men, women, and children. They were acting pursuant to orders issued by German officers to do so as they encountered any civilians. American Army contingents, however, so trapped the Nazi columns that they had to concentrate instead on self-preservation. While the SS had previously been reported to have shot civilian men without reason, it was the first time in battle that they had been observed to kill women and children also.

A massacre of 150 or more American troops at Malmedy on the second day of the offensive, December 17, had been accomplished by lining up before a machinegun the unarmed soldiers taken as prisoner. Reports also had surfaced of American truck drivers being overtaken, pulled from the vehicles and shot by panzer troops.

In May through July, 1946, a military war crimes tribunal was convened at Dachau to try the 74 SS officers alleged to have been responsible for the massacre at Malmedy as well at other places, involving the murder of some 300 prisoners of war. They were also charged with the Stavelot civilian massacre. The defendants included two generals, Sepp Dietrich, head of the 6th Panzer Army, and Fritz Kramer, head of the First SS Panzer Corps.

All defendants, save one, were convicted, then requested a firing squad if the death penalty was to be imposed. It was ordered for 43 of them, but by hanging, not firing squad. Of the other 30, 22 were sentenced to life imprisonment, two to twenty years, one to fifteen years, and five to ten years.

None of the death sentences, however, was ever carried out. While appeals did not work to reverse the convictions, a Senate investigation in 1949 into allegations of abusive treatment of the prisoners to extract confessions and admissions resulted in commutations. All of the death sentences were commuted by 1949 and eventually all of the defendants were released from prison.

From their new base at San Jose on Mindoro Island in the Philippines, land-based American bombers struck on Saturday 150 miles north of Manila at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, taking out three enemy warships and five cargo vessels, the deepest penetration by bombers yet into the Philippines. The Japanese had originally invaded the Philippines on December 22, 1941 via Lingayen Gulf, which was now acting as a reinforcement and supply base. Within a week, General Krueger's Sixth Army would land at Lingayen, returning Americans to Luzon for the first time since the loss at Bataan and Corregidor in April and May, 1942.

Marine Corsairs flying southwest of Luzon in the Batangas area, 25 miles north of Mindoro, blew up an enemy munitions train.

Meanwhile, the Japanese had attacked the San Jose base on Saturday, losing three planes.

The fall of Buda west of the Danube appeared imminent as the Russians continued to hurtle their full strength at the trapped Germans and Hungarians defending in street by street fighting the western sector of Budapest. Another 300 blocks had been occupied by the Soviet troops the day before, bringing the total to 600. The Russians were using rocket mortars, Katushas, mounted on the back of American-made trucks, as well as flamethrowers and heavy guns to break German defense blockades.

Other Russian forces drove to within two miles of Lasone, the Slovak communications center north of Budapest.

Supreme Allied Headquarters announced, without providing details, that Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey, who had commanded the naval phases of the Normandy invasion and had engineered the rescue in 1940 of some 385,000 French and British troops from Dunquerque, had been killed. His death had resulted from a plane crash near Paris as he was traveling to hold a conference with General Montgomery.

The Japanese laid claim to destruction of 550 American B-29's during the six and a half months since mid-June when they began flying raids. The number reported by American headquarters had thus far totaled about 11.

The FBI reported that they had picked up the trail of two Nazi saboteurs who had landed by U-boat November 29 at Hancock Point, Maine, but refused to reveal the source of the lead.

The proposal of War Mobilizer James Byrnes, that men previously classified as 4-F for the draft would be required either to work in war-essential industries or be drafted into the military and assigned to tasks suited to their physical limitations, received backing from both the Administration and Congressional leadership. A similar proposal introduced a year earlier by Representative Clare Boothe Luce, a member of the Military Affairs Committee, had never received action in the committee.

The Army began dismissing from Montgomery Ward top officials of the company who were not being cooperative with the Government takeover of operations and replacing them with Army personnel. The General in charge warned that employees so dismissed would be immediately subject to Selective Service reclassification.

On the editorial page, "The Other Foot" finds it ironic that, whereas a year earlier the Russians had been crying for the Western Allies to open a second front to relieve pressure on Russia in the East, now Americans were suspicious of Russia's motives in not any longer moving with their usual alacrity across the Eastern Front, effectively asking that Russia begin a second front anew to relieve pressure on the West.

The piece speculates that the Soviets might be holding out pending a favorable commitment by the Western Allies to the Polish territorial dispute.

Former New York Governor Herbert Lehman, head of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, had reported that Russia was holding up relief shipments to Poland and Czechoslovakia, with speculation running that Russia was seeking to re-establish its 1920 boundaries by holding such shipments hostage as well as withholding their continued drive in the north against Warsaw.

The editorial allows that Stalin, if so, had plentiful reason to be suspicious of the Western Allies and thus could not be easily faulted for such a strategy. Russia had, after all, been barred from Munich in 1938, despite alliance with France to resist any aggression exerted against Czechoslovakia. It had been expelled from the League of Nations in 1939 for aggression against Finland, despite no action having been taken against initial German, Italian, and Japanese incidents of aggression committed in the early to mid-thirties. The Soviets had not been recognized by the United States until 1933 and not admitted to the League until the same year.

Thus, the better strategy than to be suspicious of Stalin's motives was to work the harder to establish finally the territorial boundaries to be accorded after the war and relieve the pressure of that issue so that offensive action on the Eastern Front might resume without further impediment.

The suspicion of deliberate withholding of force in Warsaw neglected the reality that much of the war strategy of the Allies, the British in Holland, the entire Italian campaign after gaining Naples, the North African campaign before the American landings in November, 1942, the Pacific island-hopping campaign, had been one of stalemate of German forces in one sector, cutting off or truncating their supply lines in the meantime with bombing, while another sector was made hot with battle. That strategy enabled rest, re-supply and reinforcement of Allied troops to prepare against weakened enemy forces. The holding up by the Soviets of relief shipments to Warsaw was likely out of concern that the supplies would wind up feeding the German soldiers, as had often occurred in battle-torn sectors. Of concern, however, was the report that the Russians had suddenly, without explanation, halted use of Russian bases to enable American shuttle bombing, the only method by which East Prussian war plants, now the primary remaining Reich manufacturing base, could be bombed.

"Dead Weight" finds that the eight states with the lowest voting turnout at the polls in November had been those which continued to adhere to the practice of collecting poll taxes.

Of an estimated 126 million citizens, about 48 million voted, a turnout nationally of 37.9 percent, leaving aside the percentage of actually eligible voters. But on the same analysis of total population to votes, in South Carolina, turnout was 5.8 percent, in Mississippi, 8.6, in Alabama, 9, in Georgia, 11, in Virginia, 14, in Louisiana, 15.5, in Tennessee, 18.1, and in Texas, 18.4 percent. Reducing the overall population to eligible voters, the percentages of turnout would be likely even lower, about one percent, for instance, in South Carolina.

The Southern states which had abandoned the poll tax had substantially higher rates of turnout, North Carolina, for instance, which had voted out the practice in 1920, having had a 24 percent turnout, twice that of its northern neighbor and four times that of its southern neighbor.

"Reshuffle" reports on its survey of the 79th Congress about to take office, finds that the House was comprised of a 51-seat Democratic majority, dropping from the high during the Roosevelt years of 236 in 1936 to this new low for the first year of any Roosevelt term, nevertheless a good and safe working margin, significantly better than the one-seat margin enjoyed prior to the election.

The composition of the Senate was unchanged, 57 Democrats and 38 Republicans, with one Progressive. Yet, the character of the Senate had been altered considerably, now far less comprised of isolationists, with twenty new Senators, thirteen of whom were Democrats, each being internationalists.

While no one expected problems with approval of an acceptable peace plan, provided a suitable one was presented to the Senate, it remained somewhat subject to speculation as to how the new Congress would behave with regard to domestic legislation.

"Second Call" gives praise to the proposal of State Representative J. B. Vogler that a new facility be constructed in Western North Carolina for retarded children. The subject of the overcrowding of the existing Caswell facility had been a continued theme of News columnist Dorothy Knox, her "Our Forgotten Children" having appeared in series in early 1943. The newly proposed facility would relieve this burden.

At the bottom of the column is printed a letter from 1882 from Edgar Wilson Nye, editor of the Laramie, Wyoming Daily Boomerang and newly appointed postmaster of Laramie, explaining his willingness to provide plentiful advice when needed to the Postmaster General of the United States, Frank Hatton, now that they were both on the same level. The letter had established Mr. Nye as a leading humorist of his day.

Times have changed.

Drew Pearson reports that Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins would be definitely leaving her post on January 20, that she had wished to leave at the start of 1941, but the President had cajoled her to remain. He had kept her on primarily because it was too difficult to try to accommodate both AFL and CIO in selecting a new Secretary.

The column next examines again the plight of Vice-President Henry Wallace, finds the President fence-sitting on what job to offer him, whether, as Mr. Wallace desired, the leadership of the Commerce Department, or some other position, in which he had indicated his lack of interest.

Shortly, the President would nominate Mr. Wallace as new Secretary of Commerce to replace aging Jesse Jones, just as Mr. Pearson had already predicted.

Congressmen were beginning to seek revision of the Corrupt Practices Act relating to Federal election contributions, to disallow the kind of contributions made by Joseph Pew of Sun Oil Company and his sister during the campaign. They had contributed substantial money to Missouri Republican state and city committees despite the fact that they both hailed from Pennsylvania.

Finally, he remarks of James Byrnes having been assigned as his assistant his old law partner from South Carolina who had joined the Army and was sent to him by the Army. Mr. Byrnes told his old friend that he always had wanted to discipline him and now he had him where he wanted.

Dorothy Thompson, continuing her piece from the previous day regarding Germany's conundrum of not being able to surrender because of the fractionated nature of the Allied coalition and the knowledge that surrender meant inevitably dissolution of the German state as it then existed, uses the phrase "cold war" for the first time in any of the prints thus far we have read from the period, although allusion to it had been made a couple of years earlier by Samuel Grafton.

She suggests a cold war with Germany as being a necessitous condition to maintain should the fragile coalition among the Allies be sustained after the war, for the coalition presently was held together only by the tenuous bailing wire of its status as antithesis to Hitler and Germany.

Ms. Thompson reiterates her thesis that Germany could not surrender to any one entity, for the disparate Allied policies among the four principal European countries, and so had chosen to fight on, despite that decision entailing complete madness. The Allies had afforded the Germans no other choice because there was no defined, unified policy as to how Germany would be treated upon its unconditional surrender.

Marquis Childs writes of the shipping snafu affecting supplies to the fronts. Army and Navy leaders, especially Navy, were wondering what General MacArthur was doing with all of the shipping he had at his disposal in the Pacific. But General MacArthur had erected a "Chinese Wall" around his operations such that no leaks of information were permitted.

In Europe, the Germans still held under some degree of siege virtually all of the Channel ports in France and Belgium except Cherbourg, a condition which had exacerbated the bottleneck in shipping to the Western Front.

But, the military leaders in the Pacific had warned that diminishing shipments of supplies to that theater would enable the Japanese to restore their shipping and aircraft capability and thus prolong the war substantially.

So, the two theaters were joined in a tug of war for access to equipment and men via constricted shipping channels.

Samuel Grafton suggests that it was useless to try to pose the question of how long the war might last, for it depended on too many variables. Had the Allies placed in uniform the Belgian resistance, he argues, the additional experienced fighting forces might have been able to stop the German breakthrough of the lines through the Ardennes. War was man-made and thus determined by men as to its duration.

Perhaps, he ventures, had the British not been utilizing ordnance on the ELAS in Greece, there might have been enough at Echternach to break through the German offensive line a day earlier.

Part of the answer lay in how long it would take to force the Germans into a decisive confrontation on the battlefield.

Part of the answer lay in how willing Americans were to effect better and fuller coalition with the Allies.

All of the Allied peoples were involved in the war and so the answer lay, if anywhere, within each individual's willingness to commit to the war effort to bring it to conclusion.

Ninth Day of Christmas: Nine Nazis Dancing.

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