Saturday, December 23, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 23, 1944


Site Ed. Note: As a break in the weather came across the area of the Battle of the Bulge to bring forth sunlit skies against the bright white snow adorning the Bulge, Allied air cover, reports the front page, was able again to exert its will against the Nazi counter-thrust, by Thursday at noon having reached St. Hubert, within 29 miles of Sedan, following a 40-mile drive through Luxembourg, entering Bastogne, which, so far unreported, General McAuliffe, though surrounded and cut off from supplies, had already the day before refused to surrender with his dramatic enunciation of "Nuts!"

Another battle continued nine miles west of St. Vith on the high ground between St. Vith and Vielsalm. The three-day stand at St. Vith was maintaining separation of the German forces in that area from the wedge of the Wehrmacht being pushed beyond Stavelot.

Subsequent events were not yet disclosed for the 48-hour blackout in news.

The Third Army had been moved northward from Ensdorf in the southeastern section of Saarlautern to attack Von Rundstedt's southern flank, halting his progress.

First Army troops had been taken from the Aachen sector to attack the northern flank of the German plunge line.

A piece provides a day by day account thus far of the progress of the battle. We will not seek to summarize it.

Some 400 American heavy bombers with 700 fighter escorts attacked targets, dropping 1,500 tons of bombs at Ehrang, near Trier, and at Kaiserslautern.

Two Nazi prisoners were put to death by firing squad after a court-martial found them guilty of espionage based on their wearing American uniforms, driving an American truck, and carrying American weapons.

The Nazis were reported to be withholding their full strength in the counter-offensive pending the High Command determination of the potential for a crushing blow to two or three Allied armies cut off from the rest of the forces.

The Russian assurance of committing to the Eastern Front new forces to bring pressure on Warsaw and East Prussia had been made previously and was not the immediate result of the German winter drive.

The Russians had destroyed 101 German tanks during the previous 24 hours, confirming German reports that a new winter offensive was underway along the Eastern Front, the Germans stating that 270,000 Russian troops were on the move in Latvia. The ground was now frozen, providing easier movement of personnel and supplies by the Russians than the previous conditions of mud and slush in one of the latest starts to winter on record in the region. The tank battle in question was not identified as to locale but likely was in the north, as the terrain in Southern Slovakia was too mountainous to accommodate tanks.

In Italy, the Fifth Army had registered gains south of Bologna while the Canadians had established a six-mile front along the Senio River.

In Greece, the ELAS continued their attacks along the northwest coast on the right-wing EDES, the British stating that the action had violated an agreement established with the ELAS—when effected and under what conditions not being identified.

On Leyte, the American 77th Division continued to press the Japanese escaping the Ormoc corridor trap between the 77th and 7th Divisions, costing the enemy 1,800 dead per day as they retreated toward Palompon, the last port available to the Japanese on the island. Reported General MacArthur, fully 12,873 abandoned enemy dead had been counted during just the previous seven days.

War Mobilizer James Byrnes requested that all horse racing tracks in the United States close down by January 3, affecting tracks in Florida, California, West Virginia, and Louisiana. The reason for the action was to curtail the usage of scarce manpower and materials, especially gasoline and rubber in transportation to the tracks and in their operation. Race track officials were announcing cooperation with the request, which had been backed up with the threat of War Labor Board consideration and action should the requested voluntary compliance fail.

Responding to the urging of the President to continue working at war jobs during Christmas, workers at a Brunswick, Georgia, shipyard had donated their services for Christmas Day on Monday.

English-speaking German women were reported by the Paris correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph to have been dropped by parachute behind American lines. Seven of the frauleins captured had confessed that their mission was to seduce and then kill American soldiers.

American soldiers who had been fighting on the Western Front were transported by air to Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas. The odd juxtaposition between battle and the peaceful surrounds of Palestine presented to them the contrasting scenes of bullets and dying on the one day, hymns in solemnitude the next.

Yesterday, they had seen death; tomorrow, they would observe the birthplace of Christ, marked by its Star.

Only 500 to 800 soldiers were expected this year, compared to previous years since 1939 when a thousand had been present. Planes were arriving from France and Italy, as well as from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf. Most of the pilgrims were plain soldiers, only a few officers and no generals having ventured to the Holy Land this time.

The most usual reaction of the average G.I. upon landing in Palestine, says the piece, was one of some disappointment, in walking through the streets finding no snow, no Christmas trees or ornaments, no electric lights or tinsel. Those trappings of Occidental Christmas only appeared at the Red Cross.

On the editorial page, "By-Products" discusses that the effort of the Drys to hold a public referendum seeking abandonment of State control of sales of liquor in ABC stores in the 25 Wet counties of the 100 in the state would have ancillary impact on revenue and obedience to the law. For the sale of liquor and beer legally provided a large amount of tax revenue, and the drying up of the entire state would only lead to a renewal of wholesale moonshining, still a problem in the dry counties as it was.

Moreover, a portion of the tax revenue from liquor sales went to pay the salaries of additional law enforcement personnel in the wet counties. Such would be lost were there to be such a successful referendum.

In the end, however, the editorial faces the reality that the Drys, by past performance, were not likely to be deterred in their moral crusade against liquor and beer by the fact of these ancillary consequences.

"Nothing New" reviews the contentions of Representative Edward Cox of Georgia, who had come under fire in recent times for nepotism in appointments to his staff, that the Supreme Court was comprised of "left wing reformers" threatening the stability of the country, legislating from the bench rather than following the law.

He might as well have said what he was thinking in his roundabout: that they were letting the Niggers take over.

The piece brushes aside the Congressman's fears as being product of an age-old argument in the country, legislating from the bench versus following the Constitution, i.e., in other terms, Federalism versus States' Rights, (Integration versus Segregation (Respect for Individual Rights versus Royalty (Each Equal versus Some Treated as We Damned Well Please))).

It points out that even in the staid days of President Coolidge, with a Court led by Chief Justice and former President William Howard Taft, joined by conservatives Pierce Butler, George Sutherland, Edward Sanford, Willis Van Devanter, and James McReynolds, to form a six-justice majority, the complaints of too much conservatism arose, legislating from the bench in that direction. And the complaints came from the other three respected members of that Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, and Harlan Stone, now the Chief Justice. Then the contention was that the majority legislated from the bench by replacing "economic predilections for the provisions of the Constitution".

So it would be heard, it suggests, in any age in which the Court was at all active.

Of course, the present five Justice majority of the Court never legislates from the bench. Just ask any one of them, or any conservative radio talkshow host. They are five politically pure and quintessentially objective jurists who are handed law by Manu, the Lawgiver upon each 5 to 4 decision the Court renders, indeed, the very reservoir and rock upon which the preservation of Law and Order and the sanctity of the nation under God indivisible rests and is preserved for eternity and a fortnight against the common rabble to whom Liberals always make their radical appeal, tending toward dissolution and chaos, and finally Communism.

"Exeunt, Ducks" bids farewell to the lameduck members of the 78th Congress, most of whom, though not all, had been disciples of isolationism. It celebrates especially the departure of Robert Rice Reynolds, for twelve years the state's embarassment in the Senate—though by no means the last embarrassment in the Senate to North Carolina (and we do not suggest Senator Edwards, smarty pants, among those; to the contrary).

In any event, it says with respect to Senator Reynolds: "Doubtless clad in his usual gay fashion, and sporting his mustache of the day, he defended himself vigorously, and made one more plea for the isolation he had chosen not to defend in November." (See the Congressional Record excerpt of the day.)

Gerald Nye of North Dakota, another of the prime pre-war isolationists, likewise was departing the Senate chamber door. He forecasted another world war within twenty years because of America's errant ways, casting aside his advised course.

"A Memory" compares the Battle of the Bulge to the great German offensive into the Allied lines, stretching finally to the Marne River, in 1918. They were alike, says the piece, only in that each enjoyed initial success, but in all other respects, dissimilar. For the first push in 1918 served as the predicate upon which three others were built, two of which had gained substantial ground. The fourth was the one which was stopped at the Marne, leading to Armistice four months later in November.

In contrast, the current drive of the Germans was undertaken after six months of continuous Allied advance and German retreat. The 1918 offensive began in the spring after a relatively quiet winter. Americans were still being shipped to the front in latter March of 1918 when the drive to Amiens began between Arras and St. Quentin, at a temporal junction when only 100,000 Americans were present in France. The German Army had already defeated Italy at the disastrous Battle of Caporetto and taken Russia out of the war with an armistice as well. The Germans had enjoyed numerical superiority and fresh reinforcements.

Yet, even with those advantages, the Germans had finally been forced to surrender within less than eight months from the initiation of the offensives.

In 1944, the Allies held all the advantages they lacked in the prior war, and Germany suffered from a bomb-ruined country, a depleted war morale among its people, at home deprived and starving, its borders of the vaunted Hitler plan for the Heartland of Central Europe with its vassal satrapies in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Balkans, reduced nearly back to their original pre-war status, a morally depleted nation with little recognizable left from the pre-war Aryan goose-step, the tendentious Will of the strutting ultimate egoist leaving the superego at the Fuehrerbunker Door, its will to fight, save that influenced by the threat of a pistol at their backs should they lay down arms, now all but exhausted in the wake of the carnage of two fronts in Europe so soaked in blood that no one even knew their names or their numbers anymore.

Thus, the Allied observers who made forecast that the winter offensive of the Nazis would be their last and fatal gasp had reason for that optimism, reason which was predicated on fact, and would ultimately prove itself accurate.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record provides the parting gestures of Senator Reynolds, predicting that within two years, the country would return to isolationism and "real, genuine American nationalism". He believed that, had the country stuck to isolationism, it would not then have been involved in "wars everywhere".

He declared himself more fervently in favor of America Firstism, nationalism, and isolationism, than ever before the war.

He then concluded with an evocation of the sadness of Americans over the losses of sons and daughters to the war, "sad hours for the American people".

By implication, the Senator blamed internationalism brought on by his own party for these sad hours—not the unreasoned and irrational stealing of territory by the Nazis, not the concentration camps and their horrors already elucidated to the American people who read, not the unmitigated gall of the Japanese, in contravention to every standard of accepted modern warfare of the time, to engage in a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor while their duly appointed emissaries to Washington played parlour games with the unduly trusting who had not sufficiently learned bridge, if only as a wee lad by observing it from the kitchen cabinet. None of those things.

Those were not the issues to Senator Reynolds. For Senator Reynolds had hoped not only to have wedded the Hope Diamond of his fifth wife's mother, heir to the Washington Post, but also to have been named Reichsfuehrer of the United States by the leader he most revered, Herr Hitler, who had, after all, decorated him in Germany. What had Roosevelt done for him, to recognize his Greatness?

In any event, he went home to Asheville, never to be heard from again in any serious vein on the public stage. What may have transpired behind the scenes is largely left to speculation. The Senator lived until February 13, 1963, dying at age 79.

To his only credit is the fact that he never overtly stirred racial prejudice, even if he did amply stir prejudice to "foreigners", often including under that rubric American citizens of foreign birth.

Drew Pearson states that the White House inner circle now admitted that the President had made one of the greatest mistakes of the war in stating at a press conference that the Atlantic Charter was not a formal document.

In actuality, he had been only seeking to convey that the Charter had been formed in snippets radioed back and forth between the ships of Prime Minister Churchill and the President when they had met in Newfoundland in early to mid-August, 1941 to form it. He was not, as his remarks had been interpreted, throwing out the Charter as so much verbiage, non-binding of its signatories. The internationally communicated statement out of context, however, had produced a conclusion that the President no longer felt the document should be accorded weight.

Yet, the President had, in practice, consistently fought for the principles enunciated in the Charter, even if in the case of Greece, for instance, he had not fought very hard.

Mr. Pearson then explains the reason for Churchill's backing of the territorial compromise between Poland and Russia whereby the Russians would receive the territory to the Curzon Line and, in exchange, Poland would receive Danzig and a large part of East Prussia and Upper Silesia, leaving out, in the process, the wishes of the Polish government-in-exile in London. The British agreement to the compromise had occurred by plan, arranged in part a year earlier at Tehran, to obtain from the Soviets a compromise in their wishes for territorial buffer states, areas in which to do the dishes, in Eastern Europe in exchange for a commitment to the opening of a second front offensive in the West. Roosevelt had deliberately stayed on the sidelines of that issue, leaving it to Churchill to convince on his home turf the Polish government-in-exile of the wisdom of the territorial exchange. The timing of the Churchill announcement, informs Mr. Pearson, arose from the exigency produced by the Battle of the Bulge to urge Stalin to initiate his winter offensive.

But Mr. Pearson had also informed earlier in the week that, while military leaders were bitterly disappointed in the sloth on the Eastern Front before Warsaw, investigations of the situation had proved no deliberate withholding of action by the Rooskies, but rather that there was a genuine problem in bringing up supplies over the lengthened supply lines versus the shortened lines of the Nazis, pressed back close to their own original borders.

Samuel Grafton tells of the moral crisis reached in the war. Both American and British liberals and intellectuals were in distress regarding the British force being used in Belgium and in Greece. Some in both camps also were opposed to the Polish-Russian settlement of territory underwritten by Prime Minister Churchill. American liberals also opposed some of the new appointments to the State Department as tending too much toward big business and conservativism.

But others, such as early isolationist Senator Hiram Johnson of California, also had joined the criticism of British policy in Greece, in his case declaring that the Greek Patriots were being "shot down like dogs".

The isolationist Chicago Tribune was editorializing against the spheres of influence being established within Europe by Britain and the Soviet Union, citing the Polish territorial resolution as prime example. The newspaper pressed for Americans to be thus dissuaded from joining the post-war international organization.

Senator Happy Chandler of Kentucky and Senator Robert La Follette of Indiana had entered the fray, though without ever having given much more than tepid support for the international organization. They were both opposed to the State Department appointees for assistants to the Secretary.

Thus the liberals and intellectuals, contended Mr. Grafton, had to reach decision as to whether to continue their opposition to the problems in Europe given the fact that the voices of despair were being echoed for different purposes than their own, not seeking international cooperation but rather to disaffect Americans from the concept of the U.N.

Marquis Childs speaks to the same schism within the Senate, that liberal Archibald MacLeish had been opposed by some of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee members for having been for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, while James Dunn drew fire from committee membership for his previous affinity toward the Franco Insurgents.

Mr. Childs faults the President for not having first consulted with the members of the committee regarding these appointments to obviate the messy public spectacle which had transpired.

But, Drew Pearson had just commented in his column the previous day that the President had praised Senators Pepper, Chandler, and Gillette for having opposed the nominations of Mr. Dunn and General Holmes on the basis that such opposition would keep them earnestly on their toes. Thus, it would appear that the President simply wanted the debate in the open, to air to the American public the idea that no singular ideology was going to characterize the new State Department, charged with the responsibility of formulating the world peace at war's end and chartering the United Nations organization. Was the President not entirely canny in proceeding thusly? given the studied failings of President Wilson after World War I in not seeking sufficiently to include in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 the conservative Senators of the time, and not enough explaining of the wisdom of his Fourteen Points and, most especially, joinder with the League of Nations.

Dr. Herbert Spaugh discusses the motion away for the Mother and Child reunion.

Dick Young writes poignantly of the vacant chairs in millions of American homes during this last Christmas of World War in 1944. Those homes were forlorn and had to look to future Christmases for filling those vacant places.

He also, contrapuntally, tells of the woman who, in the hectic pace embraced in Christmas shopping, was summoned to a friend's place to receive meat from a freshly killed hog. Having received the meat, she needed a grinder in which to make of it the day's meat-nog, borrowed that of a friend to accomplish that end. Hurrying to make her dinner engagement, she then laid what she thought was the grinder atop the refrigerator, the meat tucked safely inside. Returning home several hours later, fir-spinner outrage spent, she discovered that, in her haste, had been produced waste, the meat, lying open, had died.

It might, in gross, be a parable for the war and its plans for world cooperation afterward.

In any event, it perhaps also is conveyed in this.

The News not being published on Christmas Eve of 1944, then a Sunday for leap year, we go back to the poignant Christmas pieces offered earlier, each in their turn, by W. J. Cash and Heywood Broun.

Have a Merry one and we shall see you on Christmas morn, maybe night, Monday. 'Tis the one when Twelve Lords are Leaping, is it not?

We regret, incidentally, that there was no news of the President this year having performed his annual reading at Hyde Park of A Christmas Carol, as had been the case last year, when he generously stopped on his way north from Warm Springs to convey his holiday wishes in person and favor us with a reading of the first couple of paragraphs. We shall keep our eyes peeled.

No sooner than we had released the early edition of this day's News, we were absolutely delighted to hear a knock upon our door. And when we opened it, why, who should be standing there but the President, himself, in the flesh. He said that he heard imparted our exiguity and ordered up, immediately, the Sunshine Special and left Mrs. R in Washington to head south for a few hours, in need of a brisk winter drive anyway, to heck with rubber and gasoline restrictions for one day out of the year, reaching here just before midnight, Eastern War Time, on December 24th.

We hastily arranged our primitive recording equipment and allowed then the President to make his selection for us. He did so, read his page, as quickly as he arrived, donned his winter coat, and bid us adieu and a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and all good graces for it.

You will note in the hearing of the reading that the President's voice is probably slightly in higher register than that to which you may be accustomed. That, he explained, was the result of his laudably cutting down on consumption of Dromedaries, as reported recently in the press.

So, after processing his recording on the wire tape, we here render it for you. Here it is.

O, she did so course o'er my exteriors with such a
greedy intention, that the appetite of her eye did
seem to scorch me up like a burning-glass! Here's
another letter to her: she bears the purse too; she
is a region in Guiana, all gold and bounty. I will
be cheater to them both, and they shall be
exchequers to me; they shall be my East and West
Indies, and I will trade to them both. Go bear thou
this letter to Mistress Page; and thou this to
Mistress Ford: we will thrive, lads, we will thrive.

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