Tuesday, July 27, 1943

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, July 27, 1943


Site Ed. Note: The major news of the day, as reported on the front page, continued to deal with Sunday's resignation by Benito Mussolini after twenty years as Italy's strong-man Fascist leader. The signal event leading to his departure had taken place Saturday when the Fascist Party Council voted 19 to 6 against his reluctantly provided recommendation to follow Hitler's plan for the defense of Italy: removal of all munitions, rolling stock, food, and harvests to the north of Italy, behind the Po Valley, abandoning southern and central Italy to the Allies, leaving its population to be fed by the Allies as well.

It was Hitler's firm belief that, with Sicily essentially gone now, the rest of the country below the Po was indefensible, making such a move the only way by which Italy could be saved.

Mussolini recommended the action, even if disapproving its implications. The Council overwhelmingly disagreed and Il Duce tendered his resignation to King Vittorio Emmanuel on Sunday morning.

Pietro Badoglio succeeded Mussolini as leader of Italy. Immediately, Fascist symbols started falling in Italy, even if the future of the Fascist Party remained uncertain, its ruling council considering it more important to focus on the fate of Italy.

Mussolini along with the other Party bosses, on orders of the King, were placed under arrest.

Prime Minister Churchill reported to Commons that no word had come from the new Italian government as to whether the terms of unconditional surrender demanded by the Allies would be met. He knew nothing of the new government and withheld expression of opinion on it. The determination of the Allies would continue unabated, said Mr. Churchill, with the advice that unless Italy surrendered, it would be "seared and scarred and blackened from one end to the other". The course would be to let the Italians "stew in their own juices for a bit" and "to hot up the fire to the utmost".

DeWitt McKenzie reports that Marshal Badoglio had already issued an order for the Italian troops aiding the Nazis in defense of Yugoslavia and Greece to come home to defend Italy.

Hitler, suggests Mr. McKenzie, might have to pull back his entire battle line from the eastern front in consequence of the combined threat of an additional move through the Balkans by the Allies and the potential separate peace now in the offing with Italy since the ouster of Mussolini.

Fascism in Italy was dead after two decades. Its sine qua non for existence, however, corporate syndicalism, was not dead in the world, still lives on under many guises and names, but always at base, fascism. It is the philosophy that the corporate state takes precedence over the individual--the very social Darwinism which characterized Hitler's final scheme to "save" Italy. The individual--and hordes of them--must always be sacrificed for the good of the corporate state. No room for individualism, for character, for deviation from the normative scheme. All must hue the line in lockstep or be destroyed or sacrificed. The corporation is the future, Mr. Getts--with their heads on.

Corporate syndicalism is still alive and well throughout the world, including within the United States. Thus, so is Fascism. It did not die with the removal from power or the eventual death of Mussolini or his pal, Hitler--who owed most of his ideas on governance to Il Duce. The puffed up, strutting egoist, Benito, was gone from the stage. His ideal, sadly, was not. Rather, it was to be studied by the nefarious bent on megalomaniacal control and manipulation of others to determine how to make the theory work better, without the pitfall of its leaders being executed finally by the despising masses they had used after the Revolt.

John A. Moroso III, filing a delayed report from July 21, tells from the anecdotes of Sicilians how Fascism operated under Mussolini: most of the farmers' crops were taken by the Party at 75% below market price while taking a third of the farmers' income; the arms with which the Sicilians were given to fight were but the oldest equipment, the best having been sent to Tobruk a year earlier; the soldiers sent to defend the island were old and untrained, the better trained having long before been sent to aid the Nazis in the defense of France and in the offensive in Russia. Sicilians with whom the correspondent talked believed that the Italian Peninsula, defended by young soldiers in the main, would fall more quickly than had Sicily. The Nazis were shooting Italian soldiers in the back whenever even a hint of surrender was waved in the air, in one case such an event occurring when a soldier took from his pocket an handkerchief to wipe from his eyes sand blown up by a shell from an American destroyer, the handkerchief believed by the Nazi then executing him to have been intended as a flag of surrender.

Fascism, with its experience alive in the minds and memories of Italy's inhabitants, was dead for the nonce in Italy.

Meanwhile, on Sicily, Americans and Canadians, with Canadians bearing the brunt of the offensive, advanced toward the German bulwark lines in the northeastern corner of Sicily, wheeling from the central region, while repulsing an attempted counter-attack in the central and southern areas by the Germans, costing the latter heavy losses, some battalions losing half of their fighting strength in the process.

And, rain fell on the Orel front in Russia, enabling the beleaguered German soldiers defending the Russian city some measure of relief after a fortnight of relentless battle with the Red Army.

It proves only that weather patterns are indiscriminate, helping or hindering humans willy-nilly, not indicative of God being on any side, other than perhaps that of the survival of nature itself.

On the editorial page, "Fading Italy" charts the course of the war since the previous summer when the British had retreated from Tobruk to establish a line between the sea and the Qatarra Depression at El Alamein, with the Luftwaffe dominating the skies. A year later, the Allies were in control of the Mediterranean, and now Italy was crumbling as surely as its ancients columns. Nero was departed from the scene. Italy would, along with Sicily, shortly fall. The war thereby, it predicts, would thus be shortened by months.

"Back to Church" reports that since Pearl Harbor, church membership in America had risen by nine million to seventy-six million of its 135 million people. The church-going were spread over 256 religious sects in the United States.

"Second Front" calls attention to the fact that Russia appeared to have changed its tune from long having called for the Western Allies to open a second front, before, during, and after Operation Torch succeeded in North Africa, even after Sicily. Now, the Russians were praising the Allied effort and issuing reports that their own operations to take back Orel from the Nazis were aiding the Allies in Sicily.

While finding it a positive note in United Nations relations, the piece enunciates the refusal of the Western Allies to allow the Russians to take credit for the Sicilian operations, recognizing the mutuality of the task at hand, that each operation complemented the other.

"The Figures" compares the cost of war, in men and money, between the 584 days of American involvement in World War I and the same number of days thus far in World War II, passed July 12: 53,000 killed in action or subsequently died of wounds in World War I out of the 4.3 million men mobilized, against less than 30,000 in World War II out of the 9.3 million men mobilized, with another million and a half set for entering action by year‘s end; 22.5 billion spent in 1917-18 against over four times that amount, 92 billion, spent thus far between December 8, 1941 and July 12, 1943.

Drew Pearson suggests that prominent Italian-Americans address an open letter to Prime Minister Churchill asking that all political negotiations with respect to Italy be turned over to America by way of shortening the war with Italy, that Italians too much feared the potential for territorial ambitions of England, that the Prime Minister's statements had been twisted by the Italian press and exploited to suggest that if conquered by the Allies, they would live enslaved to Perfidious Albion. America, suggests Mr. Pearson, was not so encumbered among the Italians by negative perception, no matter how undeserved, and such a move might thus save lives of both British and Americans.

Samuel Grafton examines Russian propaganda being disseminated in Germany to urge internal revolt, describing steps by which it might be achieved: soldiers turning on the pro-Nazi commanders, taking over the military and political machinery of the country, setting up a democratic regime and suing for peace with the Allies. If performed, the communique implied, Russia would not breach Germany’s borders.

Mr. Grafton believes the quid pro quo might prove the basis for action hotting up the revolution in Germany. Thus far, he offers, the Americans and British had not provided any specific plan for doing so, impliedly assuming that the restoration of democracy in Europe would be accomplished simply by removing the despots from power and turning the government over to the people, bloodlessly--unrealistically.

Raymond Clapper, parked under the wing of an airplane in North Africa awaiting transport to Sicily, writes his piece while sitting precariously on a collapsing two-gallon oil can with his typewriter tapping away from its perch top of a five-gallon can.

Whiling away his waiting time, he spins the detail of the haute cuisine enjoyed ordinarily by soldiers from Army field rations, dispensed with equality to journalists along on the missions. His breakfast ration was so-so, a two-ounce prune bar, not so good, a small can of veal-pork loaf, passable, but not as inviting to the palate as the main course of the lunch ration he had on the plane ride back from accompanying the mission which bombed Rome, "American rat cheese".

Somewhere between the forced resignation of Mussolini and the desire by Mr. Clapper for more American rat cheese while sitting on a collapsing oil can beneath the wing of a plane ready to transport him to cover the action in Sicily, lies probably a microcosm of the war.

For the second time in the previous couple of weeks, Mr. Clapper mentions Ernie Pyle. Both men would meet the same fate, death from the war. Mr. Clapper would die over the Pacific in February, 1944 while covering a bombing mission; Mr. Pyle would die from enemy fire in the Pacific in April, 1945, shortly after being assigned from the European theater to cover the invasion of Okinawa.

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