Friday, February 26, 1943

The Charlotte News

Friday, February 26, 1943


Site Ed. Note:

LX. The mighty Mahmud, Allah-breathing Lord,
That all the misbelieving and black Horde
Of Fears and Sorrows that infest the Soul
Scatters before him with his whirlwind Sword.

LXI. Why, be this Juice the growth of God, who dare
Blaspheme the twisted tendril as a Snare?
A Blessing, we should use it, should we not?
And if a Curse--why, then, Who set it there?

LXII. I must abjure the Balm of Life, I must,
Scared by some After-reckoning ta'en on trust,
Or lured with Hope of some Diviner Drink,
To fill the Cup--when crumbled into Dust!

LXIII. Of threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise!
One thing at least is certain--This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

LXIV. Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
Before us pass'd the door of Darkness through,
Not one returns to tell us of the Road,
Which to discover we must travel too.

LXV. The Revelations of Devout and Learn'd
Who rose before us, and as Prophets burn'd,
Are all but Stories, which, awoke from Sleep
They told their comrades, and to Sleep return'd.

LXVI. I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return'd to me,
And answer'd "I Myself am Heav'n and Hell:"

LXVII. Heav'n but the Vision of fulfill'd Desire,
And Hell the Shadow from a Soul on fire,
Cast on the Darkness into which Ourselves,
So late emerged from, shall so soon expire.

LXVIII. We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

LXIX. But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

LXX. The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd you down into the Field,
He knows about it all--HE knows--HE knows!

LXXI. The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

LXXII. And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help--for It
As impotently moves as you or I.

LXXIII. With Earth's first Clay They did the Last Man knead,
And there of the Last Harvest sow'd the Seed:
And the first Morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

LXXIV. YESTERDAY This Day's Madness did prepare;
TO-MORROW's Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
Drink! for you not know whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.

--from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as translated by Edward Fitzgerald, 1859, 1868

The front page informs of the bitter litter left on the field by the fleeing Italian soldiers at Kasserine Pass and its value as booty to those American soldiers able to pick it up and sell it to soldiers of fortune passing by the way or at the bazaar: Italian rifles available for $5, or, if slightly damaged, maybe with a bent sight, $2; an Italian automatic pistol, $25; Italian blankets, ammunition clips, hand grenades and orange-tipped bullets, for free, strewn about the pocked-marked battlefield for the taking; a mind with which to think, available at no price imaginable.

American 105-mm. howitzers had been primarily responsible for shutting down Rommel's steady march toward Thala, now completely turned about as the Allies had retaken all of the Kasserine Pass and flushed the Nazis out the other end by 3:00 the preceding day. 'Twas 3:00 and all Caesars had to be on their way, back from whence they came along their 66-mile caravansary route from Faid Pass to within three miles of Thala near the Algerian border, back toward Gafsa, 75 miles distant.

The heights on either side of the pass had first been taken by British and American forces, enabling Allied tanks then to roll through the valley unimpeded.

Meanwhile, the British attacked from Sbiba, 33 miles to the northeast, the flank of the retreating column. Bombs fell on Sbeitla, Gabes, Gafsa, the Mareth Line and Bizerte, further encumbering the movement of Rommel’s panzers.

The German High Command admitted that all offensive operations in central Tunisia had been concluded.

The state of Rommel's health, whether returned to the list of wounded and critically ill, as before the offensive, was not indicated.

In Germany, the flow of beer, not surprisingly, was ordered stopped as of March 15.

The Tenth U.S. Air Force had bagged the previous day at least 29 of 46 Japanese fighters seeking from Burma the airspace of India at Assam, only nine Japanese planes being spotted escaping the furious fusillade. No U.S. aircraft were lost in the engagement.

Adorning the page, a grainy photograph from Margaret Bourke-White, to become known for her disturbing photos of the concentration camps after Germany's surrender in May 1945, exhibits an American squadron of Flying Fortresses in Tunisia returning from a raid on the airbase at El Auina near Tunis, destroying 40 Nazi transport planes attempting to deliver reinforcements--instead delivering dead little Nazis, fried as bacon and scrambled eggs, spread out as an unfolding red rose, scattered and splattered until little was left except a few little Nazi helmets and swastikas ripped from Jerry's shoulders, vaporized into pink mists before they could be ripped from their sockets.

During the seventeenth day of Gandhi's 21-day fast, he was reported to be in good spirits, unchanged physically.

Rumours of his death had been greatly exaggerated.

The editorial page assays in "War Lessons" the quickly reflecting mirror inherent in warfare, as evinced in Tunisia, that which appeared a mere two days earlier to be an unmitigated Allied disaster having now become an Allied rout of Rommel, even if the Germans still had possession of much of the turf gained in central Tunisia since Valentine's Day. The Charge of Rommel, reminiscent of Pickett, through Kasserine Pass, though initially successful, had been repelled by superior air capability brought to bear on the panzer battalions.

The editorial warns the public to expect more such back and forth movement, alternating between victory and defeat, until finally, while delaying the inevitable, Rommel's demise, with only an estimated 250,000 men remaining, was a thing of certainty.

"Tomorrow" assesses a census report compiled anew, against the regular decennial census of 1940, showing that in 137 burgs sampled Southern and Southwestern cities were outpacing Northern and Midwestern cities in retention of population, likely to show an increase after the war. It opines that, therefore, despite the South lagging behind thus far in receipt of war industry contracts, the region might anticipate bright new gains in growth and manufacture after the war, with Charlotte potentially in the lead in the Carolinas. It would be so.

"Rick on the Rack" looks at the inveighing by letter writers to editors across the land re Captain Eddie Rickenbacker's supposed unfair attacks on Labor for its alleged sloppy efficiency and continuing work stoppages and strikes. The editorial finds the charges by Rickenbacker to be supported by enough facts--as those found by The Baltimore Sun that ten percent of labor were absent daily in the Baltimore area and 127,000 workers had to be hired to achieve a net gain of 31,000--to justify his complaints and rebut the scurrilous letter writers too tender of Labor‘s feelings.

On February 10, Sam Grafton had taken an opposing position to Eddie Rickenbacker and openly challenged him to back up his assertions with fact.

Raymond Clapper slaps down the bill proposed by Senator "Pat" (for Patronage) McKellar of Tennessee, which would provide for Senate confirmation of all Government employees earning more than $4,500 per year, inclusive therefore of 30,000 Federal workers. Mr. Clapper sees it as simply a means by which the Senate would obtain a whole new province to exercise political patronage, voting up or down on government appointees by whether an individual member's choice for a particular position were made by the President and then approved by his fellows in the Senate, all for repayment of political favors back home, leading to increased bureaucratic inefficiency, not the reverse billed as the bill's rationale.

Samuel Grafton looks into his crystal ball to determine whether Hitler might yet reorient his fight from the East in Russia to the West in France and in North Africa, all to forestall the opening of a second front in Europe and so to prolong the war. Mr. Grafton sees in the concentration of troop strength in Rommel's Afrikakorps and the offensive through Kasserine Pass indicators that Hitler might well be up to such a plan, in combination with his continuing propaganda drive to split the Allies in two by waging the old game of suspicion between the West and Russia, suckering the gullible, always easy enough to find in America and Great Britain, as in the past, from among the dedicated paranoiacs who believed that Reds thrived round every corner and behind every shopkeeper’s counter, wherever unions gathered to organize, or Negroes demanded equal treatment under the law, or any other group thought inimical to traditional, unchallenged American hypocrisy, not living up to the Constitution’s mandates, so sought their freedom.

In other words, he see Rommel's divisive technique in Africa being bellwether of what likely would soon be on Europe's horizon. And with the spring thaw coming in Russia, unless the Allies could strike soon against Southern Europe, Hitler might well risk moving some of the displaced troops back to the Russian front to menace the Red Army, keeping it at bay from his eastern border.

Hitler's gamble from the beginning in attacking Russia appeared, aside from his complete idiocy and insanity, to be an attempt to obtain from the implacable British and American friends of Nazi Germany renewed Munich appeasement through a combined determination to challenge and defeat the Communists of Russia. Thus, in furtherance of this initial strategy would be its renewed vitality.

Why, America and Britain might even become allies with Der Fuehrer, according perhaps to Grand Dragon Adams in his flagon over in South Carolina anyway, in the good and righteous fight for what's right and good and righteous about all good little Aryans.

Mr. Grafton adds, parenthetically, that Stalin in his speech during the week, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Red Army, had slighted British and American Lend-Lease aid by suggesting that the 6,000 tanks and 6,000 planes in fact sent to him had been manufactured in Russia. His complaint that no Allied second front had yet been opened in Europe, however, was valid, Mr. Grafton suggests, and that the sooner it might be accomplished, the shorter the war was going to be, without it, likely the longer.

As it did drag on, of course, for over two more years, was this prolongation of the danse macabre a function of the failure presently of the Allies to move into Europe in a consolidated effort with the North African invasion? Would an invasion across the Channel at this time have forced capitulation or, more likely, evacuation by Rommel’s panzers back across the Mediterranean, thus effecting even quicker victory in North Africa than that achieved by the grinding which took place through early May under General Patton, soon to arrive on the scene? Would it have all potentially ended double-quick in a smashing drive in coordination with the Russians storming from the East, by summer 1943? Was the extension of the war for the creation of heroes among the brass, at the expense of the ordinary fighting man, now extending the draft to married men and fathers? Was it for the reason bandied about of late among the syndicated editorial writers that an early victory would enable Stalin and the Red Army to bask in too much center-stage glory and thus have too much feasting at the peace table on V-E Day, should it occur in 1943?

Well, questions impossible of firm, irrefutable answers but, nevertheless, cannon fodder for active dialectic.

Be it resolved: The Brass played the Golden Ass in 1943 and deliberately prolonged the War to avoid it being the Goose which laid the Golden Egg for the Reds.

Heroism in plenty, however, could and would be had in the Pacific theater. But, at this stage, no one could determine either just how long that war might last, as things were going much better there as well.

In any event, regardless of overall strategy as planned at headquarters in North Africa and in England and Northern Ireland, insofar as battle tactics were concerned, General Patton would enter the scene within eleven more days and begin directing traffic to great effect.

Dorothy Thompson examines Stalin’s speech and finds it to be doing little more than defining the limits of Russian territorial design, that basically which it obtained in August, 1939 in the Russo-German mutual non-aggression pact immediately preceding Hitler's putsch into Poland, with the indefinite Baltic area of White Russia added as bulwark against future invasion, together with Karelin, the easternmost area of Finland. Stalin had specifically renounced any intention to encroach on Czech territory, signaling a policy insuring the sanctity and sovereignty of Central European nations. Beyond those assurances, he had asserted the intent not to breach the boundaries of Germany except to prevent newly constructed defense lines in the east, insisting that the Soviet overriding desire was only to rid their country of this enemy and then to be done with it.

That, argues Ms. Thompson, would be a policy, while beneficial in providing territorial integrity to Central Europe, detrimental in its potential failure to accord the provision of the Atlantic Charter, as reaffirmed at Casablanca, demanding unconditional surrender of the Axis nations. It sounded likely that Stalin would simply oust the Germans and then be content to rest on the sidelines while the Western Allies sought to reduce the Witch to its final melted puddle on the bunker floor, ending the power of the Westliche Wand.

Everything has an ending: there will be
An ending one sad day for you and me,
And ending of the days we had together,
The good companionship, all kinds of weather.

--from Everything has An Ending, by Katherine Hinkson, 1861

All things must pass, all things must pass away.

And, as we promised on New Year's Eve last, as a bonus for you sports fans, here is that page of the day. As to the headline re the Phants, well, you could iterate that yet again, though still a week away. As we have before said, prediction is a perilous art, not for the timid. Actually, if you consider it a little, we were correct, only drawkcab.

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