The Charlotte News

Tuesday, May 27, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at Landsberg, Germany, 22 Nazis who had been in charge of the death camp at Mauthausen had been hanged this date, with another 27 scheduled to follow the next day. It was the largest single mass execution of war criminals, taking two hours and 37 minutes, yet carried out by the Allies. One of the condemned, a muscular Austrian, was able to snap the cords which bound his hands and reach up and grab the rope, forestalling his death by eighteen minutes. Whether he twisted slowly in the wind or was cut down and hung again is not reported.

All of the condemned men were tried before an American war crimes tribunal a year earlier. Originally, 58 were sentenced to death and three to life imprisonment, but nine of the death sentences were subsequently commuted to life. The prisoners included Austrians, Czechs, Hungarians, and Yugoslavs, in addition to Germans. Most had been members of the SS. They ranged in age from 22 to 63 and included doctors, guards, and administrators. More than 700,000 had died at the Mauthausen camp, located near Linz, Austria, childhood home of Hitler. The executions took place in the yard of Landsberg Prison, in which Hitler had been jailed in 1923 for leading the Munich Beer Hall Putsch and from which he wrote the first half of Mein Kampf.

Another 113 prisoners at Landsberg were condemned to die for war crimes.

Before the start of the executions, two Polish displaced persons were shot by firing squad after conviction of murder and rape.

At the U.N., Salvador Lopez of the Philippines sought to tone down the war-like rhetoric of a Russian statement regarding objectives of the press in the post-war world. The statement had used such phrases as "war-mongering" and "unmasking fascism", which the Philippines delegate proposed be struck from the statement. The statement was submitted to a subcommission planning a world conference on freedom of information, to be held in Europe in 1948. The Soviet statement had alleged that some unnamed correspondents and columnists were seeking sensationalism and creating disharmony for their own personal benefit.

In Moscow, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet abolished capital punishment, indicating that there was no belief in a coming war, as the decree stated that the death sentence was no longer needed in peacetime. The death sentence had principally been reserved for cases involving threat to national security. Henceforth, such offenders would receive 25 years at hard labor.

In Managua, Nicaragua, the Congress declared President Leonardo Arguello unfit for office and took possession of the Presidency for Benjamin Sacasa. President Arguello obtained asylum in the Mexican Embassy and was planning to leave for Mexico this date. It was reported in Panama that former President Anastasio Somoza had arranged the coup, though having supported President Arguello in the election the previous February. President Somoza, in office for ten years, had been out of office only 26 days.

In Paraguay, Government troops were advancing without opposition on the rebel stronghold of Concepcion in the north. The rebels were reported to be poisoning water supplies and destroying buildings as they withdrew from the town.

In Jackson, N.C., law enforcement, including the FBI, continued to pursue the kidnappers of Buddy Bush, abducting him the previous Friday morning from the Jackson jail, intending a lynching, but for his ability to escape their clutches and flee across the street from the jail, a bullet missing him in the process, and then into the woods where he hid for two days before surrendering. Mr. Bush had been placed in the car of the masked men, shortly after which, as they insisted he switch positions to the middle of the seat, he was able to get the door open and flee. He was being held in Raleigh in protective custody at Central Prison, awaiting trial on the charge of attempted rape the previous Thursday, of which he had denied knowledge.

In Hartsville, S.C., a fourth black man in the Carolinas was being held on an assault charge against a white woman, all arising in the previous several days since the acquittal the previous week in Greenville of the 28 defendants involved in the lynching murder of Willie Earle. The alleged victim claimed that she was dragged from her house to the woods by the man and then was able to break away. Her only injuries were minor scratches.

The Senate determined that the proposed tax cut would become effective at the beginning of the fiscal year rather than being made retroactive to January 1 as in the House version. It was anticipated that no vote would occur on the bill until after the ensuing Memorial Day weekend.

The President proposed a new permanent housing agency to replace the National Housing Agency which, having been set up under the emergency wartime executive powers, would expire six months after the President would declare the war at an end. The proposal included a Home Loan Bank Board, a Federal Housing Administration, and a Public Housing Administration, each to replace existing counterparts.

In Imlay City, Mich., a 16-year old boy was arrested and charged with murder of four children whose bodies were found in a gravel pit where they had been picking wildflowers. The victims included the boy's 16-year old girlfriend, oldest of the four victims, all of whom were siblings. The boy had, according to police, admitted the slayings, starting with his best friend, the brother of the three sisters. He did not know why he had shot him. He then shot the three sisters as they picked flowers.

In Bremerton, Wash., a man was set to start his life prison sentence after pleading guilty to second degree murder in the death of his sixteen-month old son the previous February. His wife pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

In Bobtown, Pa., a 14-year old boy who had to drop out of the eighth grade after his mother became critically ill the previous November, was not allowed to take the high school entrance examination for the next term. Distraught, he then went to the auditorium of the high school in which the graduation exercises were taking place, pulled out a .32-20 pistol and shot himself in the chest. He was in fair condition.

In Suburban Wall, Pa., included as part of the same report, Spot graduated from grammar school after ten years without absence. Spot was infirm and nearly blind. Grammar school is hard.

In Media, Pa., a judge was hearing a case of a lawsuit brought by neighbors of a man who kept two shepherds on his property, which the neighbors claimed were a nuisance, invading their estates, attacking their own dogs, and causing property damage. The judge was perplexed as to whether an attack by one dog on another rendered the attacking dog a nuisance, a question he said had never been settled in any jurisdiction.

In Hollywood, actress Gail Patrick announced her engagement to an advertising agency executive.

On the editorial page, "Lynching and the Law" finds the attempted lynching of Buddy Bush the previous Friday morning in Jackson, N.C., to be rooted in the same basic prejudice as the lynching of Willie Earle February 17 in Pickens, S.C. The only difference was a technical one, that Mr. Bush, through his own alarm and persistence in the wake of the Earle case, managed to escape the lynch mob comprised of some six masked, armed men. In both instances, the mobs had used guns to obtain from the jailer the prisoner in custody. Mr. Earle was in custody for murder; Mr. Bush was in custody only for attempted assault on a white woman.

But for the escape of Mr. Bush, the result would likely have been the same as in South Carolina, and only for that fortuity, therefore, was North Carolina spared the ignominy which had attached to its Southern neighbor for the February lynching, and even more so for the acquittal the previous week of the 31 defendants, three by the judge on directed verdicts for insufficient evidence as a matter of law, and the remainder by the jury of twelve white people. The acquittals came despite 26 written statements of the defendants admitting to participation in the lynch mob, with several implicating Carlos Hurd as the trigger man who blew off the head of Mr. Earle as he lay on the ground after having been beaten nearly to death by some of the other men, also identified in the statements.

North Carolina had enjoyed a better record on lynching than the other Southern states, with no lynching having taken place since 1935 in Louisburg, albeit a race-motivated killing having taken place in Cherryville in April, 1941, and no attempted lynching since August 15, 1941 in Roxboro. But it only took one such episode to eradicate that good record.

In the wake of the two incidents and especially the acquittal in Greenville, virtually all of the old Southern Congressional opposition to the anti-lynching bill had evaporated and it was likely now finally to pass, having been posed in one form or another in every session of Congress for years, only to die in one house or the other. Representative Clifford Case of New Jersey, sponsor of the current bill, had voiced the opinion that it might not be any more enforceable than state laws in a given locale where juries would come from the same basic pool. But at least it would present the potential for civil damages, which might serve to deter lynching and might make law enforcement, subject to those damages for releasing prisoners into the custody of a mob, more determined not to do so.

There was the counter-argument that local law enforcement and prosecutors would feel thereby relieved of responsibility for catching and prosecuting lynchers and attempted lynchers. Likewise, the current case in Jackson might have less impetus behind it with no blood having been spilled. But if the Southern state courts could not dispense justice, even in a fairly presented case as in Greenville where judge and prosecutor acted determinedly, then Federal jurisdiction was the only other alternative.

Yet, asserts the piece, until the root cause, the prejudice which drove such passions to lynch, could be eradicated through education of the populace as a whole, the insidious crime would never fully disappear.

"New York Was Not Impressed" tells of New Yorkers not being moved by the sight of 135 B-29 Superfortresses flying over the city in a simulated bombing raid. The contingent represented virtually the entire strength of the Army Air Force's Strategic Air Command. It was remindful of a similar demonstration in 1933, when obsolete aircraft flew over New York.

Some of the planes in the current test had passed through radar undetected.

But it was of no moment as the bombing raid of the future would be silent within the target, coming from supersonic missiles loaded with nuclear warheads. Even the later, faster buzz bombs of World War II could not be heard until after impact.

Such things were beyond understanding fully of any people who had not been bombed in the war. It hopes that the blase New Yorkers would never be treated to a demonstration which would convince them of the vulnerability of the city in a "very small world".

"Mercy's Building Fund Campaign" tells of the Sisters of Mercy having arrived in Charlotte forty-one years earlier to establish a 25-bed hospital. They had gradually expanded the small operation into one of the major hospitals of the city, such that now it had 275 beds.

Any conflict with the Protestant tradition of the community had long ago disappeared. The hospital had always accepted patients regardless of religious affiliation and had always maintained itself through the Catholic Church.

But now the usual sources were not enough for current operating expenses. The hospital needed an additional $500,000 to complete its 1.5 million dollar annual budget. It was looking to the community for support and the piece urges generous giving for the good work the hospital had accomplished.

Drew Pearson tells of how ridiculous the witch-hunt forming in HUAC had become. The committee had formed a list of names of subversives. Leading that list was the wife of Ambassador to Italy and former Assistant Secretary of State James Dunn. The reason for her inclusion was simply that she had a membership in The Bookshop, an organization which loaned and sold books and phonograph records, but which had been listed as a Communist-front organization by HUAC. The reason Mrs. Dunn had joined, along with many other diplomats' wives, was that she could obtain books and records at a 15 percent discount.

He next informs of the Senate-House conference to reconcile the two versions of the labor bill and the effort by Senator Robert Taft of Ohio to have the final bill remain closer to the Senate version than the stricter House bill so that he could muster the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate to override a sure veto of the bill by the President. He did not think he could do so with the House version. The sponsor of the House bill, Congressman Fred Hartley of New Jersey, had reluctantly agreed to go along. There was grumbling, however, with regard to the Senate bill setting up three-man judicial boards as part of the NLRB to adjudicate labor disputes.

Representative Clare Hoffman of Michigan was the loudest opponent of the Taft version of the bill. Congressman Graham Barden of North Carolina, a Democrat, also wanted the House version adopted. One of the principal bones of contention was whether to leave in a provision which banned from collective bargaining unions whose leadership was found to be rife with Communists.

Mr. Hartley also wanted separation of the judicial and administrative functions of the NLRB, a move opposed by Senator Taft.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discuss former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen having chosen Iowa as a forum in which to tell the truth to the American people, based on the notion which he gleaned from his visit to Russia, that America had to engage in a form of peacetime lend-lease to preserve the peace.

The move appeared forced by his waning political organization and his poor showing in the latest public opinion polls, putting him where he was two years earlier, with about a third of the support enjoyed by frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, Thomas Dewey. Mr. Stassen had moved into contention the previous spring with Governor Dewey, but had lost that momentum. Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan was now in a distant second place. And the political grassroots organization which Governor Stassen had sought to organize, having started enthusiastically, had fallen away as the participants realized how much work was involved in forming such a thing without the support of the party leadership, decidedly against Mr. Stassen as the nominee.

Mr. Stassen had even stated that he might accept a vice-presidential nomination, a rare thing for a serious presidential candidate at such an early stage of the process.

At Jefferson, Iowa, Mr. Stassen had amazingly suggested that 10 percent of the nation's total production should be devoted to rebuilding the war-torn countries whose policies were compatible with the U.N. Charter.

The former Governor had arranged for national syndication of his foreign policy views, and so he was making a serious bid to have these views understood and accepted.

There was little doubt that an economic crisis was forming in Europe and elsewhere, and it might be that several months hence Mr. Stassen would be remembered as the one politician who did not ignore the situation, spoke frankly and honestly, accurately assessing the needs of the devastated nations and the proper role for the United States in averting economic disaster in these lands.

Samuel Grafton remarks of the annual ritual followed by the D.A.R. of setting forth its resolution to limit, ironically in the name of Americanism, immigration to the country, quite antithetical to the tenets of the country which had made it great. It was a trend increasingly in vogue.

Mr. Grafton suggests that ten or twenty million immigrants in the ensuing few years might solve many of the country's ills. Regardless, banning immigration was a radical departure from the traditions of the past.

He quips that the D.A.R. claim, that every immigrant would compete with Americans for jobs and material goods, had to signal the presence, in the original Plymouth settlement, of a great number of houses, automobiles, suits of clothes and other material goods.

In keeping with this new form of Americanism, the Government was going about insuring that all of its personnel thought only proper American thoughts. But uniformity was the most un-American quality imaginable. America, in short, was becoming more like the Soviet Union, in order to combat the Soviet Union.

Mr. Grafton is especially amazed at how casual the country was going about this change, despite the traditional ways of open acceptance of others and trust of each other having always worked in the past. He believes that the only way to be safe was to remain being Americans.

A letter from a Tech/Sergeant of the Charlotte Army recruiting station urges all high school seniors to volunteer for the service. With the expiration of the draft on March 31, volunteers were now the only way to compose a peacetime Army, the first time since 1940 that such had been the case.

A letter responds to the letters of failed Republican Congressional candidate P. C. Burkholder, lamenting the fact that the voters had not voted him into Congress, that he might join the pack of embittered Republicans who regularly attacked the New Deal and the late President Roosevelt, but had not the courage of their convictions to undo any of the positive legislation which had advanced the country's economy by a hundred years. It concludes that Mr. Burkholder did not have the courage to run for office.

The editors correct that he had run as the nominee of the Republicans in the district the previous fall and intended to run again.

A letter from a Lieutenant-Colonel, Recruiting and Induction Officer at the Charlotte Army induction station, thanks the newspaper for its cooperation in helping the effort at voluntary enlistments.

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