Monday, May 24, 1943

The Charlotte News

Monday, May 24, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports of the largest bombing raid in tonnage in the history of mankind the previous night, 2,000 tons of bombs delivered by the RAF over Dortmund, in the Ruhr Valley of Germany, eclipsing the Duisburg record raid of May 12, dropping more than 1,500 tons, larger than the 1,500 tons dropped by a thousand planes over Cologne at the end of May, 1942.

Dortmund had become an important new industrial center as the Nazis had moved factories from bomb-saturated Essen to Dortmund in recent months. Thirty-eight RAF planes failed to return from the successful raid which left Dortmund ablaze, albeit obnubilated by thick billows of smoke cascading from below.

The carpet-bomb raid gave credence to the remarks of Prime Minister Churchill to Congress the previous Wednesday that it might be possible to bomb Germany and Italy into surrender, that in any event it would not hurt to try.

As if in competition with one another for the best bag of the week, Russia's Red Air Force reported taking down 318 Luftwaffe planes during the previous week in the Caucasus surrounding the Kuban River Valley area, where heavy ground fighting continued north of the German stronghold at Novorossisk and in a new German attack launched against the Russian-held positions at Kursk, while over the Mediterranean, the Americans and RAF recorded the downing of 305 planes during the previous five days, adding another thirty to the total accomplished by Saturday with raids again on Sardinia, Pantellaria, and at San Giovanni on mainland Italy's toe. The Allies had lost eighteen planes during those latter raids; the Russian losses were 61 in the dogfighting over the Caucasus.

And Roger Maris had not yet come to bat to pinch-hit for the Babe.

The Japanese were said to be amassing forces in the area of Ichang along the Yangtze River, to attack positions to the west, with the aim of taking Chungking, 460 miles away, in an all-encompassing offensive. Fighting was currently ongoing in heavy encounters at the Tungting Lake area.

Whether that latter battle related somehow to the overcrowded busses in Charlotte or the Sanitation Department row over its controversial Superintendent, John Barbee, was not yet known.

In nineteen toasts to Premier Josef Stalin, some serious, some lighter, former Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, now special envoy of President Roosevelt, was feted on his new arrival in Moscow to bring a special message from the American President to the Soviet Premier.

Former Ambassador Davies, along the way, suggested that Stalingrad be moved to a new location a few miles north or south along the Volga from its old locus--now laying in ruins from the long fighting there the previous year through the victory achieved finally in early February--and the old site made into a war memorial for the world to understand and remember the tenacious, courageous fighting stand which the populace of the city, fighting shoulder to shoulder with the professional soldier and conscript, brought to bear on the Nazi to rid the homeland of the pestilence which the invader had riven.

The toasts were so numerous that the drinks were only sipped on each tip of the glasses, the piece indicated, abandoning the usual Russian tippling custom of quaffing each glass to its bottom-end clarity of expression translucent.

Some of the later tributes, it was not reported, were, however, a bit hard for the translators to decipher. The American interpreter, Foster Brooks, finally had to be called in specially to act as aide de camp in translating the garbled messages. Operating in single-entendre, Mr. Brooks was busy trying to locate his cufflinks which had fallen from his trousers to the floor beneath the feet of Premier Stalin, as Former Ambassador Davies looked on with some expression of astonishment etched greyly upon his reddening countenance.

Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Maxim Litvinov, nevertheless looked mildly amused by the translator's continual expression of the incessantly reiterated cryptic phrase, of unknown literary origin, "Help me, Rhonda, help me."

Lt.-General Ben Lear, temporary replacement in command of U. S. ground forces in North Africa, retired, while the former commander, Lt.-General Lesley McNair, wounded the previous month in Tunisian action--and ill-fated for a bullet at Normandy in July, 1944--returned to duty, healed of his wounds. Despite his retirement, General Lear, commander of the Second Army, would be recalled to active duty immediately for an unspecified assignment.

Bituminous coal production reached the previous week its highest level in three years while operating six days per week under the government seizure of mines, as reported by Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, head of mine operations until the labor-management crisis over the renewal of the expired UMW contract was finally resolved.

Meanwhile, another CIO strike saw 38,000 Goodyear employees walk off the job in Akron, joining the workers who had struck Saturday in Detroit at Chrysler. Fistfights erupted outside the Akron plant, requiring the entry of armed goons, the Goodyear security forces. The goons plus others among the strikers pacified the bellicose among them. A Goodyear spokesman insisted that the rowdies who provoked the fight were outsiders.

The Supreme Court unanimously decided in U.S. v. Johnson, 319 U.S. 302, that it was error for a lower Federal District Court to hold unconstitutional the delegation of power of Congress to OPA to exercise control of rents during the war emergency. The Court found essentially that in the emergent circumstances of war, the delegation was an appropriate relinquishment of power by the Legislative branch to the Executive, while hinging explicitly the fulcrum of the decision to the procedural flaws of the lawsuit, that the plaintiff and defendant had colluded to bring the suit while the named plaintiff had virtually no control of the direction of the litigation. No live case or controversy consequently existed as there was no true adversarial contest between the parties.

The case, unknown to anyone observing at the time, by its expression of the centrality of the war emergency, had hidden within its contours the seeds for the decision to be handed down within a month, orally argued May 10-11, in Hirabayashi v. U.S., 320 U.S. 81, upholding the constitutionality of exercise of emergency war powers by the Executive and Legislative Branches to enact a curfew under which Mr. Hirabayashi had been convicted, despite the fact that the curfew was aimed discriminatorily only at persons of Japanese ancestry inhabiting the West Coast. Although a unanimous decision, Justice Murphy, joined by Justice Douglas and newly appointed Justice Wiley Rutledge, wrote a concurrence in which he analogized the law's effect to the discriminatory treatment of Jews in Germany and further characterized it as reaching the outside limits of constitutional power.

The Hirabayashi case would be precursor to the notorious decision in Korematsu v. U.S., 323 US 214, to be decided late in 1944, upholding 6 to 3 the convictions of Mr. Korematsu for failing to report to a detention center and remaining in an area declared off limits to persons of Japanese ancestry. Justice Murphy led the dissent in Korematsu, joined by Justices Roberts and Jackson, the latter two Justices typically regarded as conservative.

And, while Germans still recovered in the Ruhr Valley from floods caused by the RAF busting the Moehne and Eder dams the previous week, the Mississippi and Missouri River Valley inhabitants, with likewise 100,000 persons made homeless by rushing flood waters, sandbagged the banks as the overflowing torrent crested.

South of Wolf Lake, Illinois, the Wolf Lake Levee had broken, near the confluence between the Mississippi and the Big Muddy, sending flood waters toward 50,000 acres of previously dry land, inundating parts of Union County and risking spread to Alexander County. Fear that the rising water would spread to Cairo, Illinois had abated as it was realized that the topography would permit run-off back into the banks where the flow normally subsided.

At St. Louis, crests were recorded as the highest since 41.39 feet was reached in 1884.

Whether the flood was the product of natural rain and storms or Nazi sympathizers deliberately breaching levees had not yet been reported.

Regardless, Prime Minister Churchill and the President had talked at the White House about strategy into the early morning hours the previous night, and renewed talks the next morning.

On the editorial page, "Reformation" offers a toast to Joe Stalin for the propaganda coup against the Nazis in directing the dissolution of the Comintern, relieving the pull on the tensed rope extant across Northern Europe, always bred by inherent xenophobic urges to anticipate Russian encroachment through its international steering committee, often having been perceived as working its wiles among organized labor around the world. By withdrawing these claws of international comradeship, the favorite Nazi tool of engendering paranoia in the masses against the Bear paw's extended grip had been at a stroke effectively neutralized with Joe Stalin's simple thrip.

Opines the piece, the step was a large one on the road to defining the United Nations as truly United, to cause distrust mutually to cease.


"Geometry" shapes the things behind the veiled future in suggesting that securing of the southern rim of the Mediterranean by the long and brutal struggle, lasting three full years for the British and six months for the Americans who came to supplement the British and Free French forces fighting side by side and thereby provide the western pincer which proved sine qua non to finishing off Rommel once and for all, would progress at a geometric rate, just as the victory in Tunisia had allowed now the punishing raids of Sicily, Sardinia, Pantellaria, and southern Italy, as would these punitive expeditions next allow further encroachment by the Allies into Central Europe proper.

War apace was now about to become ever more celerious by the arithmetic multiples accomplished through time and space.

"Flat Feet", while not mentioning Fats Waller by name, might have been reminiscing on same, by calling to attention the rejection recently at Fort Bragg of ninety percent of the black recruits for their supposedly having flatness of foot as a putative encumbrance to agile fighting ability. The editorial presumes instead that the flat-foot label was merely euphemistic in origin to obscure the actual reason for rejection of these recruits, equally as ill-fitted to service of their country as Wrong Way Corrigan, that quotas based on percentages of racial minorities in the general population had been established and, to avoid suggestion of discrimination by turning away volunteers on the basis of racial identity, ascribing to them flat feet was a convenient ploy for coy alloy of statistical preference with antipathetical deference, eschewing the implication of sanguinary intentions based on consanguinity.

Maybe, maybe not.

In any event, it wasn't because their feets was too big. For, as reported in one of the squibs appearing the previous week interspersed through the column, the Army had a maximum size 15 boot to fit those possessed of the biggest tugboats in the Fleet.

"War Film" finds "Desert Victory", concerning the drive of General Montgomery's British Eighth Army across two-thirds of North Africa from El Alamein to Tobruk to Tripoli, finally into Tunisia and right up to Rommel's wolfish front door at the Mareth Line and through it to Tunis, all accomplished in six months, to be a worthwhile viewing for anyone who wished to understand the war so far in vividly moving pictures. It labels the film the first completely free of hokum in relating its chronicle of war and the applesauce of glory.

Raymond Clapper, whose piece is referenced in "Reformation" for its theme that anti-Russian propaganda was critical in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, to try to insinuate to the inhabitants of these countries the raison d'être for Nazi presence on the world stage and finally collaboration with it, addresses the use of propaganda as its most effective weapon in trying to propagate waves of Nazi sentiment within Sweden--quite as circular in its efforts as the sentence we deliver enunciating the topic. Infiltration of the church, of the police, was all so much fringe work, says Mr. Clapper, infecting in fact but little these institutions. Such methods as accepting abroad students from Sweden to receive degrees and then return across the Baltic possessed of garrulously lavish praise for Germany's efforts to guard against the ever-threatened approach of the Bear, was their most effective tool subtly to inveigle the illusion of amity; yet, it remained largely without impact on the masses of Swedes, too understanding of their neighbors' harsh plights in occupied countries to be so enticed by the gifts offered of the Trojan Horse.

Samuel Grafton indites of newly found love among the ruins offered by the isolationists, notoriously so Senator Wheeler of Montana backing the efforts of Senator Chandler to promote a policy of beating Japan first before Germany, that love being now aimed at the West Coast and at China, the former and the latter of little importance to the isolationists in the months and even to the last eighteen days advancing toward the imminent lock-up with Admiral Yamamoto's Combined Fleet at sunrise in Hawaii, at a time when they were busy pronouncing that there was such mutual interdependence in trade between the United States and Japan and that the United States had so little financial and political interest in Southeast Asia--Burma, Thailand, French Indochina, Singapore--that there was no reason to expect war with Japan or anything less than amicable resolution of what was to everyone else commenting at the time a crisis between the obdurate demands of Japan for resumption of United States trade and insistence that it be left alone in the Pacific to pursue its Greater East Asia Prosperity Sphere, free from United States interference by supplying aid to China, and the equally entrenched stance of the United States insisting that Japan first withdraw its fire-breathing dragons from China and Indochina before any resumption of normalcy in relations could be effected.

China was now the object of suddenly messianic good will offered by these former isolationists, now bent on tacitly protecting Germany, their old friend in the good old days, to divert resources from the European theater to conquer their other old friend, Japan. Japan, however, had lost favor, was no longer a common friend, but had been, since Pearl Harbor, transmogrified into Public Enemy Number 1. To these former isolationists, now turned intensely supportive of the war effort, Germany's systematic rape and subjection of Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Low Countries, and France since 1938, 1939, and 1940 were as nothing to the attack on a strictly military target on the home soil of the United States.

And the love offered China, while the Allies played pianissimo with sticky fingers in the churchyard along the Burma Road, continues Mr. Grafton, was offered up in spades to the West Coast, for whom such amorous affection had not been so much on reserve or in evidence among these same holders of eight embracing arms at the time when the Japanese had been threatening the West Coast a year and a half earlier.

It was, he says, the same old tune in less visible garb: Soviet Russia was the common enemy; Nazi Germany was the bulwark to that enemy and thus in fact a friend; Japan was a handy distraction to enable the enemy of the true enemy of the United States to become viable in its tendencies toward inimicality--both to Russia and, of course, to the United States, not to mention by the way, the other common enemy always in the isolationist line of reasoning, Perfidious Albion.

The isolationists were ready for the Summer of Love, 1943.

And, a piece culled from The Chapel Hill Weekly tells of Mrs. Bartlett's reprieve provided a hen-laying egg she had purchased to have for Sunday luncheon, but seeing its prodigious one-a-day output, let it live so long as it continued its provision of breakfast per diem. Notwithstanding, the family dog, name unknown, broke into its own former housing, the boundaries of which had been encroached upon by this invader brought by Mrs. Bartlett from the outside to place in the pen. The hole in the wire dug by the dog to get back in, by means of egress equal to the mode of ingress, enabled the hen her great escape into the wilder confines of Chapel Hill, beyond the pleasantly pastoral beatitudes bestowed to the casual strider along the dirt-covered walks of McCauley Street--recently, we note, covered over for the first time ever by brick pavers.

Mrs. Bartlett, nevertheless, with her son in tow, undertook to recapture the wayward hen-laying egg and return it to its pen to lay more roe, affording the doggie some new and better digs by which to content itself and leave the hen to its laying throes.

So far, so good, said the piece, the hen still allowed its daily reprieve from the reproof of the guillotine's terminal fricassee in coercive increase to the table of Madame Bartlett, albeit, forsooth, Draconian the solution to any eggless day aggrieved did appear deterministically free-willed to obtain.

Meanwhile, The Morganton News-Herald reports on the reporter's near inadvertent baking in a pie of a bluebird caught in the stovepipe's flue, quite awry, now black as the coal-shedded soot, or black as the dead of night, even black as the black whose flat flap kept out, locked from the sighs, the winded draft in a winter's war house struck afoot, led affright not to brook a lord or a louse.

The Monroe Journal reports to your mother, hey.

The Marshall News-Record offers prophetically of prophecy which might have yet been sort of set to music somewhere in the early 1960's.

But we don't know, we just sow, common two, count-added to three, so that your hands and hours, softly pattering in the Rue, can be just as one walk with thee, through a life beset sometimes by pruned expressions in their stew such that they do not see.

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