Monday, December 18, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, December 18, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the First Army had responded to the fiercest German counter-attack of the war, which, the article predicts with accurate foresight, might become the most decisive battle of the war. The German thrust was along a front of 80 miles, beginning sixteen miles below Aachen in Germany and running through Belgium to the southern tip of Luxembourg. This thrust would soon come to be called the Battle of the Bulge.

Indeed, according to forecast, within a bit over a month, the elimination of the Belgium Bulge would signal the final Allied push from both sides to Berlin. The war would be in its waning 100 days by that time. But, first, this decisive battle had to be won and to be won, both sides would pay a mighty price, the Germans losing between 70,000 and 100,000 men and the Allies losing 20,000, most of whom were Americans.

Supreme Allied Headquarters blacked out news of the battle because of its fluid nature. Front line dispatches stated that, under cover of British planes from Holland, the First Army parried the thrusts of the Germans with armored contingents. The British destroyed 108 German planes and lost only two of their own. Thirty-one American planes were listed as missing, but bombers from England could not cross the Channel for bad weather on Sunday.

Thirteen hundred RAF planes struck with 7,000 tons of bombs at Munich, Ulm, and Duisburg the night before, losing 17 planes. Another 500 American heavy bombers dropped 2,000 tons of bombs during the day on Cologne, Coblenz, and Mainz.

The Luftwaffe drew up cover in greater numbers than at any previous time since D-Day. The Allies had shot down 129 of them within the prior 24 hours. Thanks to the air cover, stated Lt. General William Simpson, commander of the Ninth Army, the Luftwaffe was having little effect on his troops. A new V-type weapon was also being utilized along the Ninth Army front by the Nazis. About ten German paratroops dropped behind American lines, six of whom were captured. Whether that was the new V-weapon was maintained in secret.

The Germans contended that American forward positions had been taken out along a 20-mile front between Luxembourg and the high marshlands of Hohe Venn, between Rotgen and Malmedy.

Meanwhile, the Third Army continued its drive into the Saar Basin while the Seventh Army made more progress into the Bavarian Palatinate.

Fifteenth Air Force planes, for the second straight day, struck synthetic oil facilities at Blechhammer and Odertal in German Silesia. Another contingent bombed targets near Vienna, at Graz in Austria and Sopron in Hungary, as well as at Salzburg, a rail line between Rosenheim and Weiss, and the Moravska Ostrave refinery in Czechoslovakia.

Russian big guns fired on Budapest from newly captured positions at Fot, 5.5 miles northeast of the capital, and Mogyorod, eight miles distant. The Germans had responded with strong counter-blows.

Other Red Army forces reached the Slovak border 72 miles northeast of Budapest, advancing fifteen miles to capture Susa, northwest of Miskolc. The largest city in southwestern Slovakia, Kassa, was under imminent threat by the Russians.

Paris radio announced that the Russians had entered Buda, the western half of the Danube-divided city, and were fighting in the streets.

Pravda announced that 200 German divisions, plus 20 other divisions, were being kept busy on the Eastern Front as of December 1.

Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, responding to Prime Minister Churchill's speech to Commons on Friday expressing Britain's support of Russia's demand for buffer territory to the Curzon Line in Poland, stated that the United States would have no objection to the territorial extension provided that the nations involved so stipulated--which implicitly included the Polish government-in-exile in London which Prime Minister Churchill had essentially cast aside as an irrelevancy.

Mr. Stettinius also asserted a continuing policy of the United States that territorial decisions remain in abeyance until the end of the war. The Secretary promised American aid in both resettlement of displaced Polish populations and in rebuilding the devastation visited on Poland by the war.

In Greece, the British at dawn launched a full-scale offensive against 200 of the ELAS forces barricaded inside an Athens brewery. Resolution of the crisis by force appeared imminent. The British troops had already cleared the Kalamaki airport to a depth of 300 yards, as well as Sikelias Hill, south of the Acropolis, where the ELAS had concentrated heavy firepower from their machineguns.

There was no further word of aging Themistoklis Sophoulis. Some say that he was preparing to celebrate Lincoln's birthday in February.

In Scotland, 150,000 shipyard and aircraft factory workers staged demonstrations in protest of the British policy vis à vis Greece.

The Eighth Army in Italy maintained a line along the Senio River from the Bologna-Rimini Highway southward to Limisano and Casette, the latter two towns having been captured Sunday by Polish troops. (Reel-on-the-Real and Octtrackola, however, were still in enemy hands.)

To the north, Canadian troops, who had captured more than 11,000 prisoners during the prior two weeks since their initial attacks west of the Montibe River, gained further ground near Bagnacavallo as other Eighth Army troops cleared most of the remaining enemy from captured Faenza, which had fallen to the New Zealanders on Sunday.

Tokyo radio reported that 70 B-29's raided again the Japanese home island city of Nagoya, beginning at 9:00 Sunday night, and periodically recurring until 1:00 p.m. on Monday. Yokosuko and Shizuoka were also reported as struck. The Superfortresses were said to have flown over Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto as well, but dropped no bombs. Six B-29's also were said to have flown over Nanking in China without dropping bombs, but did attack Hankow.

A map on the inside page shows the advantages of shorter distances between the Japanese home islands and Saipan versus those from China, indicative of why the Twentieth Air Force might abandon its bases in Southern China. The route from China was so long that the Superfortresses could not carry a full load of bombs. Moreover, it took 1,000 air hours to deliver over the Hump in the Himalayas the same amount of gas delivered by one tanker to Saipan.

Even with the reopening of the circuitous Ledo-Burma Road into China in mid-January, the supplies transported by air operations over the "W" pass still, by the end of war, far exceeded those supplies carried via the land route. Had, of course, the war not seen the advent of the atomic bomb and continued, as many at this point, including Prime Minister Churchill, were predicting it would, into 1946 or even beyond, then, undoubtedly, the land route, with usage and practice, as with anything, would have picked up the pace of supply and perhaps surpassed or at least equalled that of the air caravan.

On invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines, the Americans were preparing the newly seized airfields for their own use, after moving eleven miles from the initial beachheads against only light resistance, having secured the southern portion of the island. The Mindoro airfields were only 150 miles from Manila, less than a ninety-minute flight.

The carrier-borne planes under the command of Vice-Admiral John S. McCain, known popularly among his sailors as "Popeye", maintained their continuous assault on Manila in support of the invasion. The air raiders had taken out 435 enemy planes during three days of strikes. A total of 581, including the 146 destroyed during the Mindoro landings, had been shot down or destroyed on the ground since the operation began on Friday.

Top ace flier, Major Richard I. Bong, made his 39th kill of the war on Friday over Negros Island.

On Leyte, the 77th Division had advanced seven miles to move to within two miles of Valencia, headquarters of the Japanese 36th Army, in the southern part of the Ormoc corridor. At the northern end of the corridor, the First Cavalry Division advanced two miles to the south, with the goal of joining the forces of the 77th. The Japanese suffered 2,012 newly killed troops in the trap within the corridor, to add to the 37,154 during the Leyte campaign. That latter number did not include the uncounted enemy dead behind enemy lines.

After thirteen months of combat action in the Pacific, Air Group 35 returned home to Alameda Naval Air Station, next to Oakland in California. The Group had flown 4,644 sorties, in 878 having made contact with the enemy, destroying 93 planes and sinking or damaging 91 ships. The Group's carrier had traveled 110,000 miles and lost only five of its pilots during its missions, which included support of the landings on Tarawa in the Gilberts in late November, 1943, on Kwajalein and Eniwetok in the Marshalls in January and February, 1944, on Hollandia and Aitape in April and May, 1944, on Saipan in the Marianas in mid-June, on Morotai in mid-September, and on Leyte in mid-October.

In New York, two former German nationals, Ellen Schwanneke, a 28-year old actress, and Helga Brandt, a 23-year old ice skater, became U.S. citizens. Ms. Schwanneke, who had fled Germany in 1939, refusing a command performance before Hitler, had starred in the German film "Madchen in Uniform" prior to the war. Ms. Brandt was skating in the New York production, "Hats Off to Ice".

In Washington, on Sunday, the exclusion order issued by the President in February, 1942 against all Japanese, citizens and non-citizens alike, living on the West Coast, was lifted.

This date, the Supreme Court decided 6 to 3 the notorious landmark case of Korematsu v. United States, 323 US 214, holding that the original exclusion order was within the emergency powers of the President, as granted by Congress in legislation pursuant to the declarations of war, and thus did not violate the Constitutional rights of the Japanese-American citizen, Toyosaburo Korematsu, who had remained at his home in San Leandro, California, past the deadline of May 9, 1942 as directed in the executive order.

The decision, heavily criticized by legal observers since it was issued, was delivered for the Court by Justice Hugo Black, ordinarily upholding civil liberties. Justice William O. Douglas, likewise a consistent defender of civil liberties, joined the majority.

The case laid down the rule of strict scrutiny whenever a denial of a basic Constitutional liberty is denied by operation of the Government based on race, a "suspect classification". Strict scrutiny requires that the Government show a compelling interest to warrant the denial of the right based on race. The Court held that national security in time of war against an enemy of the same race as the citizen whose rights were denied by exclusion from a particular geographic area of the country considered vulnerable to enemy activity and attack, qualified as a compelling government interest and one which, in its implementation, had not exceeded the least intrusive and necessary scope to effect its stated end.

The Court concluded:

It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers--and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps with all the ugly connotations that term implies--we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders--as inevitably it must--determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot--by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight--now say that at that time these actions were unjustified.

Justice Frank Murphy registered an especially scathing dissent; Justice Owen Roberts and Justice Robert Jackson, both of whom were considered conservative members of the Court, Justice Roberts having been appointed by President Hoover, each set forth separate dissents as well.

Justice Murphy stated, "Such exclusion goes over 'the very brink of constitutional power' and falls into the ugly abyss of racism."

The outcome of the case was entirely predictable at the time, as the Court had upheld at the end of the 1943 term by a unanimous vote in Hirabayashi v. U.S., 320 US 81, the conviction of a Japanese-American citizen for violation of the same executive order, in his case violating a curfew imposed by the order against persons of Japanese ancestry.

Justice Murphy had set forth a separate concurring opinion in Hirabayashi, explaining the limits of his agreement with the result, stating:

In voting for affirmance of the judgment I do not wish to be understood as intimating that the military authorities in time of war are subject to no restraints whatsoever, or that they are free to impose any restrictions they may choose on the rights and liberties of individual citizens or groups of citizens in those places which may be designated as 'military areas'. While this Court sits, it has the inescapable duty of seeing that the mandates of the Constitution are obeyed. That duty exists in time of war as well as in time of peace, and in its performance we must not forget that few indeed have been the invasions upon essential liberties which have not been accompanied by pleas of urgent necessity advanced in good faith by responsible men. Cf. Mr. Justice Brandeis concurring in Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 372, 47 S.Ct. 641, 647 (1927).

Nor do I mean to intimate that citizens of a particular racial group whose freedom may be curtailed within an area threatened with attack should be generally prevented from leaving the area and going at large in other areas that are not in danger of attack and where special precautions are not needed. Their status as citizens, though subject to requirements of national security and military necessity, should at all times be accorded the fullest consideration and respect. When the danger is past, the restrictions imposed on them should be promptly removed and their freedom of action fully restored.

Query, therefore, what caused Justice Murphy to change his view in Korematsu such that he shifted to the other side of the decision, though the facts, in their essentials, insofar as involving a denial of civil liberties based exclusively on race and justified exclusively by national security in time of war, were identical. The only distinction in the cases was the extent of the imposition of restraint on liberty, Mr. Korematsu being forced to leave his residence and enter a relocation center, Mr. Hirabayashi, merely forced to abide by a strict nighttime curfew. Therein, we presume, is the reason which triggered the switch by Justice Murphy, the excessive scope of the exclusion, though he does not at all expressly refer to Hirabayashi. Justices Roberts and Jackson clearly posit their dissents on the limited scope of the order involved in Hirabayashi versus the complete exclusion and internment of Mr. Korematsu.

On the editorial page, "Our Veto" finds the vitriolic attack of H. G. Wells, author of The War of the Worlds and The Shape of Things to Come, on Prime Minister Churchill the previous week to have missed the mark. The 78-year old philosopher-historian who successfully had predicted many of the world's trends in the first half of the century, had assailed Churchill for the problems in Belgium, Greece, and Italy. He had called the Prime Minister a "would-be Fuehrer", among other things.

While there were problems in the handling of the Greek-Belgium-Italy situation, still the fighter Churchill remained the stout beacon for Britain, had guided it through the storms of trouble in 1940-41 and been the stolid partner of Roosevelt in conducting the war to successful turns after an inauspicious start.

Mr. Wells was entitled to his opinion and had his proper role as the observer and intellectual that he was, but so, too, did Mr. Churchill have his designated and proven role as fighter. Mr. Wells's having called for Mr. Churchill's resignation from power as a spent statesman who no longer understood the world stage exceeded the remedy necessary.

And the very fact that he could make such statements without reprisal refuted the contention that Mr. Churchill was in any manner the equivalent of Hitler.

Of course, in any state where one could not, without reprisal, including loss of property and complete exclusion, to name but a few of the penalties and disabilities invoked, make such charges against public servants of any stripe or position, most especially those untrained in the law neverthelsss absurdly occupying positions of quasi-judicial authority, making in the process a complete and utter joke of justice, quite unfunny, however, to those to whom such joke-justice is dispensed, quasi-judicial authority charged, nevertheless, with maintaining citizens' rights, not as royalty, but as public officials, not allowed to take bribes from corporations to dispense that joke-justice, statements made not publicly by the speaker but in private and to someone with the responsibility to maintain in confidence the communications of the speaker absent his or her consensual waiver of the privilege, even to someone with a plain fiduciary responsibility to the speaker, someone who then turns around, and with complete impunity granted from the state in question, commits open and notorious perjury against the speaker--all in the name in fact, undisclosed, of protecting a notorious and corrupt political regime, one in power for the better part of the last 43 years, bent on taking away people's rights and supplanting them with economic royalism, posited on a foreign policy of a continuous war, declared by the King, one on Terrorism or any other bogey du jour, a war which the speaker in another context had, in March, 2003, predicted would be disastrous, as it had been in the past, was, besides that, entirely stupid, ignoring, apparently quite deliberately, the better intelligence provided by weapons inspectors, as any fool could hear on the television, the converse with regard to that state in question would likewise be true, would it not? We might, instead, call it, properly, a state with a lynch-mob mentality, where Time is maintained by a Ku-Ku Klock.

We might suggest that the only remedy for the situation, otherwise hopelessly imperiled, is a thorough investigation, not of the speaker this time, as no investigation of the speaker's charges has ever been made, but of those about whom and to whom the speaker spoke, a thorough and complete and impartial investigation, as well as of those who purportedly administered "justice" in the matter.

Then, let the chips fall where they may.

"Col. Woodward" eulogizes Colonel C. W. Woodward, commander of the Quartermaster Depot in Charlotte, who had died on Saturday. The Colonel had helped to train troops at the facility from the time of Pearl Harbor, troops who were subsequently shipped overseas to the fronts. He had also taken an active part in local civic and social affairs.

"A Reassurance" finds it restorative of confidence that the investigative branch of the Office of Price Administration and the FBI had quickly uncovered two inspectors in the Mecklenburg branch office allegedly taking bribes from merchants to avoid OPA regulation of prices. The two men had been charged and were now being brought to trial.

Whether, incidentally, one of the agents in question, Mr. Heffner, had anything to do with the rabbit box in the Cashwell case, we leave to you to discern. Maybe it was sort of like the pumpkin: only, instead of a hidey-hole for microfilm, he used it as the repository for the cash, a sort of hissing affair in either case. Hence... Well, as they say, the rest is her story.

"Perfection" celebrates the quickly becoming commonplace 3,000-mile roundtrip flights of the B-29 Superfortress from Saipan to Tokyo. Their remarkability would soon wear off, but their great accomplishment of the previous six months since the maiden flight against Japan had opened the way dramatically across the Pacific, into the Marianas and now the Philippines.

It comments on a B-29 which, the week before, had faltered and crashed into the sea. A lieutenant from Matthews had crashed through the glass nose of the plane into the water but he had lived and all eleven returned safely to base.

The B-29 was plainly a much safer and better engineered aircraft than its predecessors of the war, the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator. When those planes crashed into the sea, they sank in seconds. The B-29 afforded escape. In the referenced instance, the plane had remained afloat for 17 hours.

"Women at Work" praises the Mecklenburg Door Knockers, women who went door-to-door selling war bonds. They had reached their goal of selling enough bonds to purchase a Superfortress, $600,000 worth. Sales in the county had, counter-intuitively, exceeded those in the better-heeled city. Their work, says the piece, had been transacted in noble manner.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record presents a colloquy between Representative Clare Hoffman of Michigan, John Rankin of Mississippi, and Representative Jennings of Tennessee re a bill to transfer loans from TVA to the Rural Electrification Authority with the practical effect of saving farmers 1.5 percent in interest.

Mr. Hoffman wanted to know whether the REA cooperatives were operated by Federal officials, to which Mr. Rankin stated that they were not, only by local persons who were loaned the money by the Federal Government.

Mr. Hoffman was exercised over the fact that in Michigan, REA officers had run ads charging that he had 50,000 women chained to washtubs. Mr. Rankin assured that the people of the South would not be doing such a thing. But Mr. Hoffman was resolute in his belief that the Southerners had moved north with their characteristic distrust of government and were behind these ads.

Mr. Rankin insisted that the Southerners sent north were engaged in industry, not farming. Mr. Hoffman quickly added that they were involved in CIO PAC activities then, and he did not want Sidney Hillman getting Federal money to use to exercise his will politically.

Mr. Rankin protested at Mr. Hoffman calling the Democratic Party "your" party, at which point Mr. Barden of North Carolina interrupted to ask that the discussion of the bill be resumed or he would call for the regular order. To that Mr. Hoffman asked that he not be intimidated in that manner.

At least, we assume that was the point to which the latter comment was referring. On the other hand, it may have been the one about H.G. Wells, or even Dottie.

Drew Pearson reports that advisers close to Churchill and Roosevelt were ascribing the problems in Greece, Italy, Belgium, as well those with regard to lend-lease issues, to the delay in the Big Three meeting, originally set for shortly after the election, on or about November 22. Churchill was boiling mad at FDR's decision not to proceed at that time.

It was now believed, correctly, that the meeting would take place shortly after the January 20 inauguration of the President for his fourth term.

At home, the Prime Minister's popularity was suffering in light of the Greek crisis and he badly needed the conference to restore his political capital.

The International Civilian Aviation Conference in Chicago had reached its final patched-up resolution, one posited between the desire of America to have free international access to the airways for all nations and the desire by Great Britain for limited quotas, from the intransigence of the Prime Minister in being unwilling to compromise on the subject despite urging to do so from within his Cabinet.

The situation in Greece had erupted out of this anger of the Prime Minister with the President, even though the President had provided his imprimatur to the British sphere of influence within Greece.

To resolve these conflicts and to hasten the resolution of questions regarding Russian territorial disputes, the President now stood ready to have a Big Three meet.

Samuel Grafton found the unusual bedfellows of liberals on the one side and isolationists on the other, joined by a third group out of the Civil Aviation Conference, each finding reason of its own to condemn Britain. While the fragile coalition would unlikely hold together long, it was still providing a uniform voice of anti-British rhetoric which was unhealthy to the world scene, and rapprochement needed to be effected to take from its steam before it became the ground for a full-fledged rift between the two countries.

Marquis Childs addresses that which he sees as a seething crisis beneath the surface between the Allies, one which could create quickly a trend in retreat to isolationism if not ameliorated and dispelled. The growing perception was that Britain and Russia were simply reverting to the games of power politics played prior to the war.

It would be up to Secretary of State Stettinius to articulate the President's chosen course of foreign policy and it needed to be accomplished to allay these speculative fears and enunciate the liberal policy which, in general terms, the Secretary had laid forth as his intention before the confirmation hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The realization had to be faced that the policy was limited by the realities of the political framework in which existed the nation. It was not, as some appeared to believe, within the prerogative of the new Secretary to choose from an infinite variety of plans and then move forward. The limits imposed by the points of view within the Congress narrowed the choices.

Dorothy Thompson writes that governments in Europe, including Italy and Germany, could not long last without being overthrown, even by the forces of democracy, should they be governed with an iron fist from without by the Big Three. For popular sovereignty depended for its sustenance on a true national pride and not one compelled as a vassal state.

She hearkens back to Churchill's own words in November, 1942 at the time of the American landings in North Africa, "the end of the beginning" of the war, that he would not be the first King's First Minister "to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire," to make the point that Churchill, himself, implicitly understood the concept of the need of a government which was strong and affirming of national will. The same principle, Ms. Thompson contends, necessarily would be applicable to the defeated nations.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>--</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.