Wednesday, February 17, 1943

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 17, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of the re-capture of Kharkov by the Russians, in German hands since October, 1941. Being the fourth largest city in Russia and a major manufacturer of tanks, it completed a sweep of the most valuable centers in the Ukraine and the Caucasus, each now back in Russian hands, including Stalingrad, Kursk, and Rostov. Only Orel still remained under Nazi control and it was fast being surrounded. Kharkov, however, would remain under Russian protection only for a month, as a German counter-offensive would take it back on March 16.

In Tunisia, Rommel's panzers were heading to within a few miles of the Algerian border at Tebessa, pushing to the perimeter of Sbeitla, 25 miles northwest of Sidi Bouzid, already taken, while Allied military commanders refuted rumors that the new German offensive was anything more than an attempt to obtain breathing room for Tunis and Bizerte, not a concerted putsch toward Algeria. The large new German Panzer IV tanks were proving thus far too strong for the American infantry units, enabling Rommel's forces to plow swiftly through 18 miles of terrain in an all-day battle, having moved 35 miles west of Faid Pass during the previous three days.

To Sbeitla, with its Punic ruins, it marked the return of the Vandals.

The alternate rumors of Rommel's recent wounding or illness, confining him to Berlin, had been dismissed by Allied military leaders as probably Axis propaganda, presumably to induce relaxed Allied vigilance along the front.

FDR sent to Congress a proposal to legislate into existence his ordered income cap of $25,000 per individual householder, via a "super-tax" which would take all income above that level. One of the first acts of James Byrnes, when appointed in October to become head of the newly created Office of Economic Stabilization, was to issue an executive order implementing the policy proposed by President Roosevelt a year earlier and rejected by Congress in September. The newly installed Congress, however, was now threatening to pass a bill which would override the executive order. The order had been issued pursuant to the President's emergency powers to take all necessary steps, foreign and domestic, effectively to prosecute the war, powers given by the declarations of war. Those powers, thus, were subject to curtailment by Congress, which possesses sole constitutional authority to levy taxes and raise revenue. And it had not expressly ceded this authority to the President, even if the President's position was well-founded implicitly, within the circumscribed purpose of the cession of the revenue-raising power, on the notion that capping annual salaries, at a level which equates today to $350,000, prevented inflation and war profiteering, necessary to the interests of the country in waging the war effectively.

The President, offering an olive branch to recalcitrant Tantaluses who wished to return to the days of isolationism, effectively seeking to defeat the United States war effort, suggested that, failing enactment of the bill he now proposed, a compromise measure should be passed in its stead, one which would implement this "super-tax" to take 50 percent of all income over $25,000, with steeply progressive rates up to 90 percent of the excess above $25,000, meaning few people would take home more than about $30,000--still a healthy income, equating in 1943 to $420,000 today.

Sold American! We'll take it. Enact the President's plan, forthwith.

Unlike the happy ending of the accident beginning "Nightmare at Northoak", thanks to the timely arousing of the dozing doctor and his swift reaction to the careening school bus catching fire, for unknown reasons as the fuel tank was in the rear, when it struck the ditch forward, the real event reported from Dardanelle, Arkansas had instead an end dismal for the families of nine dead, including students and one teacher, after the school bus collided with a truck. The drivers of the two vehicles and six of the children on the bus, however, survived to continue their odyssey of life. The rest continued in the sweet hereafter.

And, it was still "right cold" in Charlotte.

On the editorial page, "Adolph Retires" fixes its aim at the rumors that Hitler was dead, generated from his failure to appear January 30 at the Sportspalast in Berlin, commemorating the tenth anniversary of his coming to power, as well as the apparent relegation of command decisions to the field commanders, finding these rumors improbable, even if the previous week former Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph E. Davies, had publicly stated his inferential conclusion that the rumor was likely true. The editorial concludes that regardless of the condition of Der Fuehrer, the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe would continue to fight determinedly to the bitter end of forced capitulation or annihilation. It would be so, even if the final end was surrender a week after Hitler's suicide, one governed in decision by the fact that the Russians, eager for blood payment for the millions dead back home, were closing in on the central part of Berlin from the east, as the British and Americans imposed their large shadow on the west side of the capital city, fated to become in the Cold War's first twenty years a potential flashpoint for nuclear confrontation, the crossing of swords across the Brandenburg Gate, having in the history of mankind no equal for mutually assured destruction on the fields of Megiddo.

Samuel Grafton states his decided preference for civil disobedience and sabotage of crucial facilities in war-torn occupied countries as opposed to assassinations of quislings, which he rather terms "impeachment by gunfire". He cites three such impeachments having taken place in Holland the previous week, while Radio Orange insisted against such violence as counter-productive.

Indeed, while not mentioned by Mr. Grafton, the usual consequence of such acts was that the Gestapo herded randomly selected citizens and, after some sham military tribunal gave them the semblance of authority for punitive reprisal, lined them up before a wall and shot them. These impeachments were therefore little more than acts of collective suicide.

Of course, one must question whether the impeachments were anything more than deliberately condoned acts of violence set up by the Gestapo among either caught members of the underground or infiltrators to their cause to provide ostensible grounds for retribution against other members.

Regardless, Mr. Grafton wonders why Radio Orange was no more effective than it was in impressing on the underground the importance of sabotage and subterfuge, such as delayed work in war industries, in lieu of isolated acts of assassination of quislings. He offers that the apparent reason for this impotence was the absence of an agency through which the Allies could work to coordinate the activity of the underground.

This suggestion, however, was not entirely correct. Though unknown to the public at the time for its inherent secrecy of operation, the O.S.S., created the previous June 13, was beginning to engage in just such efforts.

The secret mission, later publicized, of Generals Mark Clark and Lyman Lemnitzer, three weeks in advance of the November 8 landings in Morocco and Algeria, to seek the assistance internally of the government and military in the Vichy-ruled country, was emblematic of the underground efforts by the military in this regard, in lieu of O.S.S. or British MI-5 agents, more likely engaged in planning at this stage, to effect the desired result. Unfortunately, however, this particular operation in Algeria, while saving, no doubt, thousands of American and British lives in the landings, was likely the reason, for the promises made during this mission, that Vichy continued a strongly influential voice in Algeria while De Gaulle remained largely on the sidelines, even if Henri Giraud was identified more closely with the Free French than with Vichy, albeit saddled with some residual air of suspicion among the Gaullists, as well as by Charles De Gaulle, himself.

Mr. Grafton has little patience, understandably, for such an argument and finds it intolerable that Vichyites maintained residual authority in Algeria while democrats of Free France, numbering as many as 15,000, remained in jail during the previous one and a half months, awaiting the completion of the slow process of individual clearance.

He concludes: "Hence, it is with mingled feelings that I read of 'assassinations' on the Continent, whereas I would bound out of my chair with a rebel yell were I to hear that all the trains in Luxembourg, for example, had stopped on a single morning."

Thus, less ultra-violence, more finessed submariner activities, organized as clockwork, punching the clocks, then taking extended breaks, for instance, maybe every now and then throwing a spanner into the works, were the more desired orders of the day, as urged by Radio Orange.

The piece reprinted from The Hour finds two concomitant old bogeys working to motivate a renewed isolationist movement, rearing its head again among Congressmen as well as civilians, recently active in attempting to distribute propaganda to hamper the effectiveness of the prosecution by the Justice Department of the 33 persons accused of sedition for interfering with draft activities--those bogeys being anti-Semitism and anti-Communism. Exampling raised a quote from William Dudley Pelley, the former Asheville resident and founder of the Silver Shirts, who had asserted, in justification of Japanís and Germany's counter-imperialism, "Fundamentally our American Republic is at war to restore Bolshevism, instigated and underwritten by Mongolic Judaists."

Just who were the "Mongolic Judaists", Mr. Pelley apparently did not bother to develop. Ourselves, knowingly anyway, have never met such a person. If you do, let us know.

Raymond Clapper advocates increased aid to China, offering that its bases would prove as valuable to the war effort in saving American lives in the Pacific as Russia's effort in defending its homeland would likewise in North Africa and, ultimately, in Europe, when time finally came for the slated Continental "invasion"--as FDR had termed it sardonically at the twentieth annual White House Correspondent's Dinner on Saturday. Mr. Clapper notes that Madame Chiang Kai-shek's extended visit to the United States, beginning that week, would become an instrumental tool in educating the American public to this need and its potential benefits to the war effort in the Pacific.

Mr. Clapper's judgment, being skewed by overly-optimistic press reports from the Pacific, after the heady victories in New Guinea and on Guadalcanal, that American planes could soon use Chinese bases to launch air strikes on the mainland of Japan without the necessity of intervening island-hopping to achieve closer range via the presently held Henderson Field, acquiring first other lily-pads across the very large pond to reach Japan, was erroneous. Nevertheless, the maintenance of the Chinese effort against Japan, assuring a strong force in that theater, would prove a sine qua non for victory in the Pacific by the Allies, just as with Russia's effort in Europe. For, the Chinese front was highly attritive of Japan's manpower and materiel while being a necessary concomitant for its achievement of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere--now solidly on the ropes, appearing to stagger in anticipation of the haymaker, just a year after the knockout blow to the Allies in the Pacific appeared imminent, with the count appearing to approach then its final pound on the ring's canvas.

O. J. Coffin, as he had February 3 regarding his mentor, a teacher out of the family who owned Tomlinson's Department Store in High Point, has a piece appearing from The Greensboro Daily News, this time in the form of an editorial poem about Massachusetts Republican Minority Leader in the House, Joe Martin, future Speaker for two separate terms between 1947 and 1949, and again between 1953 and 1955, continuing as either Speaker or Minority Leader until 1959. Mr. Coffin was not an admirer of Mr. Martin.

And, as the editorial column in "The Answer" provides praise to the Legislature for fulfilling its duty in providing a central administrative body to oversee operations of the state's mental facilities, honoring thereby the wishes of Tom Jimison, posthaste of his brave candor in exposing his personal experience at Morganton during a year of voluntary commitment there through May, 1941, the author of the bold progress appears again, as on Monday, this time with a short piece from the Richmond County Journal in Rockingham, holding forth on the war between the drys and wets in that county. "The likker interest is like the pore in that it is always with us," the colorful journalist-lawyer, one-time Methodist minister, asserts unabashedly, absent a hint of betraying his tutor, Mr. Clemens, the same who, in addition to saying you could not do anything about it, proclaimed that the coldest he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

The vignette related at the conclusion of "The Answer", imparting the travails of the gentleman who was so determined to describe the continuing abjection extant at Morganton, despite amelioration during the previous year, that he escaped through a window, (whether by the expedient of ripping out a lavatory, not being provided), all of the inmates, that is, patients, being asleep, save one who had to be bound to his bed, (not, we trust, with a pillow pressed over his head), claiming to have then walked down country roads all the way the 75 miles or so to Charlotte, proves that you cannot keep a good Chief down on the reservation.

Now you know where he went--where all good truth seekers taking their scrip upon their pilgrimage along their way out of the past, via the present, back to the future, make their way, eventually--to The Charlotte News.

We, ourselves, first saw the filmed version at Ghirardelli Square on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, early 1976.

Ah, Juicy Fruit.

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