Tuesday, December 5, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 5, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the 95th Infantry Division of the Third Army had driven through captured Saarlautern and into the Siegfried Line to the east of the city. The forces threatened Roden and Fraulautern, 1.5 miles beyond the Saar River bridge, broadening the front to 2.5 miles east of the Saar. Heavy artillery fire was being directed at Saarbrucken. Also shelled were Forbach and Sarreguemines, respectively two and 4.5 miles from the American positions.

Fighting within the eastern section of Saarlautern continued against the Volkssturm, which had established positions behind street barricades and in windows, were sniping from those positions at the American soldiers. American reports indicated, however, that the Volkssturm were poorly equipped and not organized.

To the southeast of Saarlautern, five divisions of the Third Army were advancing inside the Saar or through the last portion of Lorraine. One unit advanced four miles.

Following three days of heavy fighting, the Seventh Army to the south confirmed capture of Selestat on the Alsatian plain, 25 miles southeast of Strasbourg, reported the day before by German radio. The right flank of the Army was clearing the corner of France where Karlsruhe is located, eight miles from Colmar.

In the north, the First Army captured the village of Bergstein on the eastern fringe of the Hurtgen Forest, six miles southwest of Duren, and 1.5 miles from the Roer River, the deepest penetration into Germany, about 15 miles.

On the muddy Cologne plain along the Roer, the First and Ninth Armies were at a stalemate with the Seventh and Fifteenth German Armies.

In Holland, the British Second Army and the Canadians, having to deal with flooded areas, cleared the remaining Germans from the area west of the Meuse River.

Casualties of Germans along the Western Front were estimated by Supreme Allied Headquarters to be running at a much higher rate now than the 4,000 per day when the winter offensive began November 16. The Twelfth and Sixth Army Groups, which included the French First Army and four American Armies, the First, Ninth, Third, and Seventh, had captured a total of 67,000 German prisoners during the three weeks of the offensive. There was no indication yet of the number of Allied losses.

A force of 550 American heavy bombers struck Berlin with 2,000 tons of bombs, the first daylight raid in two months on the capital, as the 800 fighter escorts knocked down 80 Luftwaffe planes. Others of the force struck Munster.

The Russians had amassed their forces along the south shore of Lake Balaton, 60 miles from Austria, gaining seventeen miles the previous day from Tamasi to Sagvar, and preparing to sweep around each end of the Lake. Another column moving north along the west bank of the Danube was within 37 miles of Budapest, while east of the river, the Russians were throwing artillery shells into the eastern and southeastern suburbs of the capital.

The Russian forces fighting with Tito's Yugoslav Partisans in Northern Yugoslavia captured Mitrovica on the Sava River, 41 miles northwest of Belgrade.

Fighting continued west of captured Pecs on the Yugoslav border with Hungary, with the Russians fighting for Saigetvar, 89 miles northeast of Zagreb.

In Italy, the Eighth Army captured Ravenna on the Adriatic, northeast of Forli, after an encircling movement accomplished by the Canadian Princess Louise's Dragoon Guards, entering from the northwest, while the 27th Lancers struck from the south. Russi and Godo on the Ravenna-Bologna railway had also been captured.

On Leyte in the Philippines, a naval battle took place in Ormoc Gulf between American and Japanese ships, with each side losing a destroyer. Most of the crew of the American ship were rescued, most by Catalina flying boats, one picking up 56 men after they had been in the water for twelve hours.

Ground activity was limited by continuing harsh weather to minor engagements.

In China, the Japanese had advanced to within 60 miles of Kweiyang, capital of Kweichow Province. Chinese troops from northwest China were being transferred to try to thwart the Japanese advance.

With reference to the opposition of the British Government, as expressed by the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden, to Count Carlo Sforza being given membership in the Italian Cabinet, the United States State Department informed both Italy and Britain that it expected the Italian people to form their own government without interference from the outside. The message expressly stated that America was not opposing Count Sforza being a member of the Cabinet.

Mr. Eden had stated as the reason for the British opposition, the fact of Count Sforza's opposition to the current Bonomi Government, even as he had participated in it. Count Sforza was the Liberal Party leader who had taken strong and consistent anti-Fascist and anti-monarchist stands in Italy.

Prime Minister Churchill stood firm behind the Greek Government of George Papandreou, even as the latter offered his resignation in response to the ongoing demonstrations and sniping by the armed ELAS of the leftist EAM in Athens during the weekend. Premier Papandreou had suggested a coalition cabinet, with center and right groups represented and led by Liberal leader Themistoklis Sophoulis, 82.

ELAS troops surrendered several of the police headquarters they had seized during the weekend. The ELAS were charged with mutiny for the seizures. The British indicated their intent to use force if necessary to preserve order.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of former Soviet Ambassador Joseph Grew as Undersecretary of State, along with those of Archibald MacLeish, Will Clayton, and Nelson Rockefeller as Assistants. Four committee members had voted against Mr. MacLeish, and Senator James Murray of Montana had opposed Mr. Clayton. There was no opposition to Mr. Rockefeller. The committee approved the addition to the State Department of two new assistant secretaries, to provide six in all.

Representative John Dingell of Michigan stated that he thought proposed legislation to freeze Social Security taxes at one percent had little chance of passing the Congress, but that, if it did, the President would veto it. Freezing the tax meant effectively non-expansion of future benefits from the fund.

Reports out of Berlin contended that Hitler was, notwithstanding Allied speculation of his being dead or insane, still alive and doing well. Reports from Germany had also indicated that Heinrich Himmler was now in charge of all military strategy and that he was holding Hitler in seclusion by using the prospect of another attempt on his life as the reason.

The cigarette shortage in the country had suddenly turned violent on the lower Bowery in New York City. A man asked another for a cigarette and the second then fatally shot the inquiring sufferer three times, once through the heart. Before he died, however, the victim shouted choice words at his assailant. He probably called him a very bad and impetuous man.

Nicotine is a drug. And, as with any drug, it can cause you to do very strange and illogical things. Never forget it.

On the editorial page, "Keep It Clean" looks at the last month of the lameduck Congress, finds it vacillating between trying to behave actively or in a restrained, passive manner. On the one hand, it appeared determined to freeze Social Security taxes, despite the fact that such an act would indubitably invite the President's veto. It was doubtful that the Congress had the necessary votes to override on this subject.

But there had been talk of tying the President's hands on the matter by attaching the freeze provision to the unrelated War Powers Act extension. The President then could not veto the freeze for the fact of also vetoing his extended war powers necessary to prosecute the war to conclusion.

The editorial urges the Congress not to pull such a stunt in the midst of the concluding portion of the war, placing politics ahead of the lives of fighting men. If they had the votes to override a veto, then so be it.

"Dr. John Q. Myers" eulogizes a Charlotte physician who had died Sunday night.

"One Lone Voice" reminds of the past of Senator William Langer of North Dakota who had registered the only dissent in committee hearings to the appointment of Edward Stettinius as Secretary of State.

Ten years earlier, Senator Langer had been charged and convicted in Federal court of conspiracy to defraud the United States Government by his having used his office as Governor to shake down state highway employees, paid in part through Federal funds, for campaign contributions under the guise of obtaining subscriptions to a newspaper owned by high ranking members of his gubernatorial staff. He was then sentenced to 18 months in prison. The State Supreme Court had ordered his removal from office, but the conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal and, on retrial, Senator Langer was acquitted. Thereafter he was again elected as Governor and then Senator, in which post he served until his death in 1959.

The piece, even if bending the facts a bit from that to which we lend above some straightening, concludes that it thought the readers might want to know from whence came the lone "nay" to Mr. Stettinius.

"Nothing Doing" reports on the State Bureau of Investigation having been called to examine the propriety of the Davidson County election. The piece predicts the outcome would be a satisfactory one for all and that irregularities in elections would no longer be tolerated.

In the past, for instance in 1938, the files were rife with complaints of election fraud throughout the state, most stemming from the absentee ballot system then in place. It had become so bad that many citizens recommended completely abolishing the absentee ballot.

It was determined in 1939 that the election laws had scarcely been revised since 1901. Eventually, in 1939, the absentee ballot law was revised.

The piece views the investigation in Davidson County as emblematic of the commitment of the State to address promptly grievances at the ballot box and undertake whatever remedial measures might be required. The presence of the SBI in the matter stood as proof enough of the seriousness with which the State took such charges.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record involves a colloquy between Senators Bennett Champ Clark of Missouri and James Murray of Montana, in which Senator Clark charged that neither Senator Murray nor Senator Langer of North Dakota had enough been present at committee hearings into the proposed Missouri Valley Authority properly to render judgment upon its appropriateness.

Senator Clark charged that Senator Murray held private hearings, locked away in his office with Sidney Hillman of CIO, before rendering judgment on such matters, to which Senator Murray took considerable umbrage, denying any such consultation with Sidney Hillman or CIO for determination of his vote on any bill whatsoever. Moreover, he never locked himself in his office.

Drew Pearson tells of the first caucus of the Republicans in the House since the election, the central theme being that the Republican Party should not waste its time with further attacks on the CIO Political Action Committee, so prevalent in the 1944 election in terms especially of registering displaced war workers in the cities, but rather should get about the business of forming its own counter organization.

He then recounts some of the statements by various House members at the meeting. The only voice of dissent had come from losing incumbent Ham Fish who urged Congressional committee investigation of PAC for Communist infiltration. Mr. Fish was essentially brushed aside with the notion that the House Campaign Expenditures Committee was too busy to investigate such matters but that changes would be proposed to the Corrupt Practices Act to prevent a repetition of the sorts of practices in which PAC had engaged.

By 1978 and the Jesse Helms Congressional Club, the Republicans would have, with a vengeance, established their own PAC's.

Samuel Grafton discusses the new trends among isolationists after the debacle of the recent election in which most such candidates were defeated.

He finds Col. McCormick's Chicago Tribune undertaking an editorial campaign against "big business", a theme reminiscent of the left. During the campaign, the isolationists had attacked CIO and PAC, still a favorite bogey. It appeared that isolationism was now following the course of bogey du jour. The effort appeared to be aimed at building a political coalition of disaffected workers and white-collar groups, those angry at both unions and "big business".

Another common theme was sectionalism, pitting the Midwest against the East and California. The bankers became a bogey not only because of their accumulation of wealth but also because they were from New York—where the Communists were centered. The trend also disfavored the South because it was solidly Democratic. It disfavored California because it was the capital of the movie industry and movies were being made which awakened the need for international cooperation—that which the isolationists equated with sympathy for Communism.

So, the effort in this vain was to effect a coalition of farmers and middle class against the city slicker of the East and California.

If the trends sound familiar, merely add to the admixture the Nixonian ingredient of telling the South what they wanted to hear in the spring and then "running like hell back to the center" in the fall, to divide and conquer the Solid South, and voila! It is 1968, etc.

Perhaps, the country has become so used to it that a large part of it fails to understand these underlying bases for the political tendencies of the last forty-odd years.

The Republican Party, after all this time since the New Deal, still appears most of the time to be fumbling for its identity as a Party, voicing the notion of "the Party of Lincoln", while typically embracing policy emblematic of anything but the humanity and intractable societal progressivism of Abraham Lincoln, resting instead on the cult of personality, embracing emblems of past accomplishment of one sort or another, such as those of Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, even if the emblems in each case were quite different, the one a mild-mannered General and Supreme Allied Commander, the other a tough-talking, no-nonsense actor.

The other Republican Presidents since, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Bush, and Bush, each follow in a line from those two personalities, even if they, themselves, bore few, if any, of the earmarks of those two personalities.

Dorothy Thompson writes of the danger of the Allies winning the war in Europe militarily but losing it politically. She suggests that should the Big Three coalition dissolve and split into an Anglo-American bloc and a Soviet bloc, the war would be lost politically. For in each such bloc, there would be forever an opposition leaning toward the other side, preventing unity within each bloc, as well as producing a struggle for control between the two blocs.

Should the same dilatory policy transpire with respect to the other popular movements in Europe as had with the French and De Gaulle, the slothfulness of Anglo-American recognition, then the popular movements would turn of necessity for recognition to the Soviet Union.

Ms. Thompson points to the Italian situation as example. There, as with all other European countries, the most active opposition to Fascism had come from the left. Count Sforza, however, represented a force of moderation in opposition to the Fascists. Count Sforza, being himself an aristocrat and a progressive, possessed a good middle ground to unite the disparate interests in the country, the workers, many middle class liberals, and students being unalterably opposed to the Fascists.

There were also those who simply wanted to be on the side which was winning, those positively on Fourth Street, the high military officers, the aristocracy and large landowners, and most of the industrialists and bankers.

The question was whether Italy would ultimately be governed by the Fourth Street crowd or by the anti-Fascists as favored by the broad mass of the people. Without the presence of the Allied Military Government, there would be a toppling of the monarchy, replacing it with a parliamentary republic, governed by a coalition of the middle class and labor in a semi-socialist state. There would be purges within the military, police, and universities followed by land reform in which the large estates would be redistributed to a cooperative movement among the tenants. Industry would be nationalized, as already taking place in France where De Gaulle had taken over the coal mines. Private ownership would be maintained in land and smaller industries, with socialism extending only to basic resources and the industries built upon them.

Ms. Thompson opined that this change should not be opposed by the British and Americans, that it stood as the only means by which radical communism and bloody civil war could be averted.

She might have added that it was not terribly different from either the reforms undertaken in the British system or under the New Deal progressivism, even if not involving per se purges of reactionaries in the military, police, and universities—unfortunately.

Two letters to the editor use quite different analogies for examining the issue of closed shop unions, unions which required union membership as a condition of employment at the company, at least for the duration of the union contract with the company. In the 1944 election, Florida and Arkansas had passed measures banning the closed shop union as antithetical to the right to work. California had turned down such a measure. The News was inviting response on the issue.

One letter writer compares the notion of the closed shop, sensibly, to the idea of public utilities in a community, that, for the good of all, citizens paid taxes for the support of public utilities. Similarly, union members paid dues for the support of all. If the closed shop were abandoned, then companies could exert hiring practices which tended to exclude those who would join the union voluntarily and thus, essentially, undermine and finally abolish the union's power to bargain collectively.

The second letter, however, seeks to equate the closed shop with that of the Bar Association, the American Medical Association, or the Ministers Association. The author first appears confused between the compulsory membership, for licensing purposes by the State, with a State Bar, certification by a State Medical Licensing Board, or, insofar as ministers are concerned, affiliation with a church, and professional trade organizations, none of which have compulsory membership for practice as a lawyer, doctor, or minister, and, to our knowledge, never have. One can, for instance, be a lawyer and never join the ABA, a national trade organization having nothing to do with licensure.

Professional licensing to insure the requisite education, training, and skill with which to be in a profession is a far different matter from trade unions. Indeed, one of the outcries in Florida and Arkansas against the closed shop had been that unskilled workers were being hired in war industries, forced at hiring to pay union dues in a closed shop environment, then, when it became apparent that they were not sufficiently skilled for the job, terminated with their dues retained by the union.

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