Saturday, May 1, 1943

The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 1, 1943


Site Ed. Note: Reports the front page, the Second Army Corps under General Patton took Djebel Tahent the day before, sixteen miles southwest of Mateur, enabling long-range shelling of Mateur for the first time since the early days of the campaign in northern Tunisia. The Luftwaffe quickly responded with an unsuccessful attempt to locate the guns by means of 15 to 30 Focke-Wulf 190 airplanes.

In a bayonet charge against the German front lines, reminiscent, said French observers, of the fighting by Americans at St. Mihiel and Belleau Wood in World War I, the forces of General Patton also took Hill 523, to the south of Djebel Tahent. The hills were in the area of Sidi N'Sir.

The British First army meanwhile had a tough go of it, losing some ground to the Germans east and northeast of Medjez-El-Bab, in the area of Djebel Bou Aoukaz, 20 miles west of Tunis.

In his May Day address to the Soviet people, Josef Stalin joined FDR and Churchill in calling for unconditional surrender of Germany as the only means by which peace could be achieved. He dismissed as mere "babble" German rumors regarding tenders of peace negotiations separately with the Soviets. He cited the successes of the North African offensive, the air war in Europe, and the Russian winter counter-offensive as ushering the way for Germany's complete defeat.

After expiration of the 10:00 a.m. back-to-work deadline established by the President for the nation's coal mines, FDR ordered this date, shortly after noon, the government takeover of the mines. More than a quarter million miners had walked out of the mines, with another hundred thousand expected to follow. The order turned over operation of the nation's bituminous coal mines to Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes. The President would soon follow the order with one likewise applicable to the anthracite coal mines, as the walkout had also spread to hard coal. It was the first time since 1922 that both hard and soft coal producers were shut down by a strike.

The President made the order with the advice that, with the exception of a few mines, the nation's coal industry had ceased production, thus imperiling significantly the country's defense in wartime by threatening an end to production of steel, the manufacturers thereof having only two to four weeks of coal supply with which to operate.

John L. Lewis had declared the nation's defense be damned; he was going to challenge mine owners and the government to the hilt in order to obtain the extra two dollars per day in wages and a guaranteed minimum wage of eight dollars per day for his union members.

The problem with his approach was that he was unwilling to have the miners submit to the War Labor Board for final arbitration of the dispute, as he and other labor leaders had agreed to do a year earlier, assenting to a pledge then not to strike for the duration of the war.

On the editorial page, "The Big Stick" gives high praise, not surprisingly, to FDR for the move in seizing control of the coal mines. It calls the actions of Mr. Lewis treasonous and all but calls for the Government to indict him as an example to other labor leaders not to follow suit.

Of course, the latter talk was hollow. There was no direct causation between calling the labor strike and an actual act of treason, providing aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. For that would imply an ability of government to order people to work in designated industries and no such power of Congress or the President exists.

The sentiment, however, was understandable, as Lewis had the alternative of submitting the dispute to the WLB.

The miners, regardless of outcome, were not endearing themselves to the country, harsh conditions of work notwithstanding. Dangers doubled or not, pay was not going to be by this strike substantially increased. It appeared more as a grandstand play by John L. Lewis to solidify his waning leadership role in the union. From the miners' lot, would it not have been better to have delayed gratification and waited until after the war when they could have made the case for heroically having stood the duration without striking for better pay?

"Late Payment" supports the Government's breaking off of diplomatic relations with Admiral Georges Robert of Martinique for his refusal to break off relations with Vichy, the government's position having been reported the previous day on the front page.

The piece further asserts that time had come to become equally tough with all Vichy-allied governors still in North Africa, such as Maurice Peyrouton of Algiers, as well as with the Fascist-allied, albeit technically "neutral", Francisco Franco in Spain.

The editorial stand was simpatico with that being counseled consistently by Samuel Grafton in his column since December.

"First Rumbles" reviews a radio broadcast to the German people by Herr Doktor Goebbels in which, opines the piece, he demonstrated the Achilles heel of the Reich now being exposed by the fact of his outrageously unrealistic claims of invincibility of Germany and the prospect of an immediate peace, with German gains left intact, ten times those believed capable at the start of the war, while British losses were ten times those of the worst pessimists. Left out of his rosy picture for Germany, apparently on the vain belief that America still might be wooed to favorable peace terms, were the American bombing raids. He had only stressed the British raids. He declared that the Continent could not be invaded by the Allies.

The editorial, of course, was correct in its assertion that the Goebbels art for brag, exceeding all reality surrounding the crumbling German state, betrayed an internal fragility of morale and the desperate need to bolster it anew with Tartarin gasconade.

Dorothy Thompson exposes the like absurdity of the claims also wrought on the world by the Goebbels propaganda machine re the supposed murder by the Soviets of the 10,000 Polish officers in Smolensk. By a series of simple deductions, she reveals the Lie and reflects the blame for the murders back on the Liars.

Smolensk had been in German possession since the Russian invasion in June, 1941. The bodies of the officers, the Nazis claimed, were found in a mass grave revealed only recently by peasants living in the area. The grave was claimed to be beneath a three-year growth of trees, marking the time of the massacre as 1940, before the German invasion. At the same time, the Nazis had claimed that wounds observable on the corpses of the officers were inflicted by bayonets of the same width as those used by the Russians. Yet, the bodies of the soldiers, in three years time, of course, having been buried without embalming, would have been in a state of complete decomposition, the nature of such wounds therefore not discernible. Indeed, claimed the Nazis, even the papers found on the officers were still legible. End of case.

The Russians did not kill the officers; the Nazis did, and then sought to use, for propaganda reasons, the killings to sow the seeds of distress between Allies already suspicious of one another, Poland and the Soviet Union.

When confronted with the unalterable facts the Nazis, themselves, had revealed, they wheeled forth a theory that the bodies were preserved--as well the clothing and paper--by the fact of their supposedly having been buried in a special clay soil--Ton-Erde, meaning in English, "aluminum oxide", the same coating which is used in ordinary sandpaper. Geologists, however, confuted that any such preservative quality exists in clay. The paper, the Nazis contended, had been maintained by the body fats, again a claim disputed by the forensic scientists.

Ms. Thompson compares the discovery to the capture "red-handed" by the Nazis of the Dutch Communist Marinus van der Lubbe after the Reichstag fire in February, 1933, subsequently executed for the act in 1934. (Van der Lubbe had his conviction posthumously reversed in 2008 by the Federal Court of Justice of Germany.) As with the modus operandi evident in that case, the executions of the 10,000 Polish officers were carried out by the accuser, not the accused.

Samuel Grafton examines the political consequences of the rift between Poland's government-in-exile and Russia over this matter, finds it indicative of the Soviet determination not to tolerate any anti-Soviet government. He suggests the particular issue and its timing producing the break to be a test of the will of the other Allies likewise to refuse to bond with any government which sets itself apart from Allied cohesion and takes up a Nazi line of propaganda.

Mr. Grafton asserts that the rift was unfortunate as the Polish leader, General Wladislaw Sikorsky, was the best leader the Poles had placed in power in quite some time.

He offers that the problem would be resolved only by a complete change in attitude of the Polish government, not merely by a reversal of its accusation in the instant case of the murdered Polish officers. The Soviets were distrustful of the entire government-in-exile and had been for awhile. The resolution of the dispute would likely only come with a complete revision of the Polish Cabinet.

From "London Calling" is re-printed on the page a tail gunnerís firsthand account of a bombing mission over the French coast. It reminds as a daytime version of a nighttime RAF raid described subjectively and compellingly in a piece printed on the page from the Baltimore Sun, July 21, 1941. Whether the tail gunner providing the account of this date was American or RAF is not told by the piece. He was probably American as the raid was in daytime and most RAF raids were taking place at night. Flying Fortresses and Liberators could fly high enough with accurate bombing to elude ground fire in daytime, affording better bombing accuracy. The RAF pilots, who had at first disparaged the relatively slow, cumbering American bombers, had to fly at relatively low altitude, in a steep diving maneuver, to effectively hit their targets.

We note that for the first Saturday since January 31, 1942, Dick Young does not appear on the page with a piece on omnipresent and ubiquitous local issues and observations. Perhaps, he was shunted off to the adjoining page or was on vacation.

In any event, May-Day, May-Day, we are coming in for a landing.

Once we land, we are going to conduct a diligent search through the forested jungle for Roger, the Shrubber and the Tiger.

We sense strongly that the two are interconnected, probably via shape-shifting. It could very well be, therefore, that Roger has possession of the Tarnhelm. Whatever the case, the fact that both forms of Roger end in "-er" lends a measure of empirical validation to our theory that they are merely different manifestations of one and the same entity, even if it be at this juncture no more than hypothesis in need of proof. One must remain observant and note such linguistic comparatives in similitude for there to become educed from it something other than the mere ruts of the days in life's wheels spinning round, trackless to a fault.

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