Saturday, February 19, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, February 19, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that on Wednesday, under cover of heavy Navy battleships and low-flying carrier-borne planes, the 32d Marines and 106th Army Infantry divisions had successfully taken Eniwetok, an atoll in the Marshalls, the same atoll over which Raymond Clapper had been killed on February 2. Eniwetok had served as the last lifeline for Japanese troops who had not yet surrendered in the Marshalls.

On Monday, the first bombing raid had occurred against Ponape, a Gibraltar-like base of the Japanese in the Eastern Caroline Islands, 400 miles east of Truk.

Allied forces on the Anzio beachhead had withstood an attack by four divisions of Germans, 40,000 to 60,000 strong, and were reported to be holding their lines. The British and Americans were said to be taking a heavy toll on the Germans and were actually advancing to some limited degree in recent fighting.

On the Cassino front, Indian and New Zealand troops had taken the crests of two heights northwest of the destroyed Benedictine Monastery on the summit of Mt. Cassino. Calling to mind a scene out of Kipling, the Indian Gurkhas were said to have used knives on German troops, as they advanced within the crags of the mountains silhouetted against the moonlit, flare-lit night toward the summits of the two heights.

The railroad station in Cassino was captured by advancing troops, following a heavy artillery barrage on the structure, as Allied troops now moved from the south, northeast, and northwest toward the town. The Nazis, however, claimed in their broadcast still to be in possession of the station.

The Russians in the Ukraine were now headed toward the iron ore center at Krivoi Rog, as well as toward Kherson, 90 miles to the south. Red Army troops were already amassing on the Dneiper River banks opposite Kherson.

In the Leningrad sector, the Red Army moved ever closer to Pskov, now advancing on the "key to the Baltic States" from the east, north, northeast.

The night before, about 150 Luftwaffe medium and heavy bombers attacked London, though not all getting through the anti-aircraft net, in the largest raid on the city since the Blitz of 1940-41. Twelve persons were known to have been killed and several injured in the blasts, as fires were left behind in at least six different parts of the city.

RAF bombers struck Mandalay in central Burma in what was described as a highly successful raid.

An informal communication was reportedly sent by the Polish government-in-exile in London through Prime Minister Churchill and Foreign Minister Sir Anthony Eden to the Soviets stating that the Poles would accept the 1939 Curzon Line as a demarcation boundary for Russia for the duration of the war. The terms specified, however, that after the war, the boundary would still be subject to negotiation.

Charles Bedaux, international businessman, who had in 1937 sought to sponsor a U.S. visit by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, until it was called off for protest by labor groups, had committed suicide in Miami upon the news that he was under investigation by a grand jury for treason for having contacted high officials within the German government and that of Vichy in France. He took an overdose of sleeping pills and left a suicide note.

A German emigrant to Spain told correspondent Charles Foltz of the ruin he left behind in Berlin eight days earlier: "When I went to the station--which, by the way, is more ruin than station--I found a weekly batch of 300 women, 50 babies, and 250 children sent to Koenigsberg in East Prussia with hundreds of other Berliners being evacuated on the usual daily special trains."

The Soviets awarded to General Eisenhower their highest military honor, the Order of Suvorov First Class, citing his Allied leadership in the North African Campaign and in Italy before being made Supreme Allied Commander for Europe at Christmas.

--You are now honorary Soviet citizen, Comrade Iron Beater. Comrade Stalin wishes to provide you, too, an in-person salute by cannonade. …No? Too busy. Perhaps, later then.

Hal Boyle reports of an Army Air Force sergeant who told him of playing a game of deadly chicken in his unarmed cub surveillance aircraft, pitted against a Nazi fighter. The cubs were invaluable as the eyes and ears of the infantry without high ground from which to spot enemy position, as enjoyed by the Germans. The cub pilots flew six to eight hour shifts both day and night, a long time to be dodging flak while having also to worry of an unsteady plane and the primary need to relay via radio to the lines the positions of the enemy.

Accustomed to relative insularity in his role for the fact that the Germans did not typically waste fire on surveillance planes, not wishing to give away their positions, the sergeant was reconnoitering the enemy on the Cassino front in his "flying eggbeater" when he spotted six Luftwaffe fighters diving for Allied positions. The former furniture businessman suddenly found himself and his "grasshopper" in the role of spectator. But then, as the German planes completed the dive, two came after him. He then turned and headed straight for one of them, not looking at the pilot, only his gun. When he got within range, he suddenly turned sharply, beyond the capabilities of the more cumbersome fighter, causing it to pass his position without getting so much as a shot at him. The pilot then found himself, however, followed by the second German fighter. He was able to elude that one as well, even if picking up some flak in the process. The second fighter was soon shot down by Allied anti-aircraft fire.

In addition to the 150 holes the cub acquired on that mission, the little plane, with only 80 hours flying time, had previously crashed into a tree with the sergeant aboard, was blown into a gully by high winds while on the ground, and also lost its wings during a storm. It was now on its third set of deuces.

And, an Army surgeon, on special emergency leave for the purpose, performed an operation on the phrenic nerve, controlling the diaphragm, of a 22-year old New York woman who had suffered for 47 days from the hiccups.

Actually, the better solution was for the surgeon simply to have sneaked up behind her when she least suspected, jumped up on the operating table with his scalpel held menacingly high, and, in a low, velvet whisper, uttered, "Psycho."

On the editorial page, "Of Truk" finds optimism in the relative ease by which had been executed the ride of the raid on the Japanese supply bastion, apparently with great success and damage inflicted, though details of the attack were still scarce. If, says the piece, the Navy could raid the most heavily fortified Japanese base outside the home islands, then nothing in their Pacific island chain was any longer secure.

With this one blow, the distance to Tokyo had been cut in half. While the war was nowhere near its end, another step had been taken without substantial cost in lives toward effecting that end, with the Philippines now within reach of the Allies as the Navy could now operate from the lagoon at Kwajalien.

"Mitosis" comments on a proposal to take the cake and let them eat it within the States’ Rights debate, raging of late as at no time since the days of the Confederacy, on taxes, the soldier vote, race, what have you.

Now came the New York Legislature proposing, not dissimilar to the recent determination of the Soviet Union to grant limited autonomy to its 16 republics for the purposes of engaging in foreign relations and maintaining armies, that the United States divide itself into its constituent 48 States for purposes of meeting at the peace table. New York was likely to allow FDR to speak for its interests.

Such a prospect, declares the piece, assumed some form of unity in the country which had never been and never likely could be. The Midwest, influenced by the isolationist Chicago Tribune, for instance, would never hear of granting concessions to Russia. The South would have interest in eliminating the cotton of principal Eastern rivals Egypt and India. And so on down the litany of regional and parochial interests, state by state vis à vis the world at large, inveighing and sharpshooting at unity the 48 would go.

The concept was simply, in the end, meiotic in its conception.

"Tee, Hee!" finds in the brief disclosure of the Democratic Convention schedule, that it would begin Wednesday, July 19, and likely be completed that week, confirmation of the now foregone conclusion that FDR would seek a fourth term, even if he still had not confirmed it.

In those days, conventions often lasted longer than what has now become the norm of three or four days, Monday or Tuesday through Thursday. Multiple ballots, in the pre-primary days of smoke-filled rooms with political bosses selecting the candidates, were quite common when there was a question as to who the nominee would be.

Today, if a political convention lasted a week or ten days, the short attentioned spun country would likely go mad and turn to revolution, as it nearly did during the prolonged election recounts of 2000.

“100% Plus” provides in a little table the tax plight of millionaires during the war. From $750,000 up, the taxes on that net income after subtracting personal exemptions were completely confiscatory, indeed resulted in taxes higher than the income.

The piece advises that it was not trying to stir sympathy for the millionaires but rather, with the purpose of despoiling envy of them, to inform that their plight was not all a bed of roses.

"Sharpsters" adds a footnote to the now moribund-by-veto anti-subsidy bill. Senator Walter George of Georgia had led the fight for the bill on populist notions, but, in 1942, had been a proponent of subsidies--for big oil companies. Other Southern Senators had tacked on amendments to the anti-subsidy bill to protect their own particular state’s primary product in produce. Peanuts, cotton seed, soybeans, sugar beets, and wool each received that special treatment.

Where was the dignity, asks the piece, of the "'world's most austere political body'"?

Drew Pearson recounts a story that the Iowa Democrats were urging their Senator, Guy Gillette, to run for the presidency, that Senator Gillette had agreed, provided FDR would run for a fourth term. Senator Gillette had been one of those anti-New Deal Democrats who provoked the President’s ire in 1938 and had been singled out in consequence for defeat in the so-called "purges".

The head of the Iowa Democrats then relayed the information to the President who took it stoically. The Iowa Democrats then voted unanimously to support a fourth term for the President and the head of the Iowa party then relayed that information as well to the President, who again responded without emotion.

Word was, says Mr. Pearson, that the President would continue to hold his cards close to his vest until after Lonergan, that is the Republicans, laid their bets at the convention.

Mr. Pearson next turns to the subject of the inferior high-tenacity rayon promoted by the War Production Board to make synthetic rubber for tires. Goodyear had rejected it as unfit for anything on the production line, save ladies' handbags.

The problem appeared to be, says Mr. Pearson, the $1 per year men on the War Production Board--that is men of private industry employed by the Government as consultants at a dollar per year, a source of investigation by the Truman Committee two years earlier, finding that many of them merely engaged in feathering their own nests by funneling war contracts to their own companies.

Mr. Pearson suggests that such might be the reason for the inferior rayon, so that the companies of the dollar per year men on the Board would not lose the war business to new synthetic products manufactured by competitors. As things stood, most rayon production came from DuPont and Viscose, both of which companies loaned their officers to the rayon section of the War Production Board. Thus, Mr. Pearson questions whether, despite the expertise in rayon of these dollar per year men, they could properly discharge their duties impartially to the nation.

Samuel Grafton writes chapter five of his small "book" on what to do with Germany after the war. Sounding as a reiteration of chapter four, he recapitulates the idea that the German people should be left to their own self-determination on how to effect their future, in terms of such facets of their society as economic well-being, foreign trade, and education.

The Allies should only police the German land after the war and let the Germans establish a new German nation for and by themselves. In that method, the Germans would have no cause or reason to fight the West, as they might, for instance, were the West to impose its own educational system on Germany, as had been proposed, to re-educate the Germans to the concept of democracy and away from totalitarian notions and those of racial superiority.

The Allies should be content to do that which served its own interests of security, to eliminate fascism in Europe. The rest was up to the German people, with responsible oversight by the Allies to insure no further military build-up which could threaten the security of nations.

Dorothy Thompson examines the question of Germany after the war, but from within the prism of the Soviet Union, the only important question, as she sees it, with reference to Germany, not, as the abiding tendency of writers on the subject had it, to look at how Germany should be treated after the war. The Soviets, she says, more than anything else, wanted peace and security after the war, with Messianism at work only incidentally, to insure that security and peace. The Soviets were most concerned about powers traditionally inimical to the Soviet Union arising in post-war Europe.

To achieve the desired security ultimately required democracies in Europe which would control reactionary tendencies toward militaristic, authoritarian Prussianism, that characteristic of Germany during the thirties, but which by no means was limited to Prussia and Germany. Bolshevism would be as disintegrative to the peace as Prussianism, and, she assures, the Soviets understood this fact. Bolshevism would only stimulate the reactionaries.

Thus, the worst thing which could happen in Europe would be to put in place governments such as that of Pietro Badoglio and King Emanuelle in Italy, both anti-Soviet from the start, thus causing insecurity to the Soviets and thereby liable to foster war.

The Soviets, she says, trusted FDR but neither the War Department nor the State Department, nor their British counterparts. Thus, the 1944 election would greatly determine how the Soviets viewed the post-war environment in terms of trust of the Western allies.

The central issue therefore was not Germany but the relationship between Russia and the West, with Germany as the fulcrum, the potential buffer zone for resolution of issues of trust between the two sides or, by contrast, the flashpoint from which could erupt their differences into open conflict and war.

Waxing accurately prophetic, as she had on this question during the previous several months, Ms. Thompson states:

"Therefore, the attitude of the Soviets must be, first, Germany must be rendered unable to organize a war against the Soviet, and, second, no other powers must ever have the chance to use Germany or parts of Germany against the Soviet. The second question will become increasingly more important than the first…

"And if a defeated Germany were to be divided, and in the parts under Anglo-American occupation, German equivalents of Badoglio governments were set up, the Soviet Union would certainly not feel secure. If the Soviet should become convinced that something of the sort were in the offing, it would probably take its own measures toward Germany.

"This is the essence of the German question. The Russian 'enigma' is only the enigma of Western policy seen in a mirror."

In an effort to counsel parents on how to get their children not to follow the leader into untoward delinquent behavior patterns, drinking, smoking, petting, etc., the Reverend Herbert Spaugh describes two episodes in crossed words which had been related to him. One was of a linotype operator who meant to set up print as "the masses", instead set it as "them asses", the best description, says the Reverend, which the relater of the story had ever heard of the masses.

Upon relating it to a college professor he knew, the professor told him of another professor who could not attend his classes, and thus had someone write on the chalkboard, "Professor ________ will not meet his classes today," whereupon a student, seeing it, tempted beyond resistance, had to erase the "c", followed in succession by another who dutifully effaced, took away the "l" from "classes".

The Reverend uses the examples to suggest that the masses who would follow in line in such childish, asinine games were little more than them asses.

We might add, gratuitously, from an actual weather broadcast we once saw in the late seventies, "Warm ass of mair"--better than "east wind rain"--, perhaps confused by the weathercaster by his having heard once too often in his youth that terrible nonsense song penned by a poetaster, tending to run to insanity much faster more lads and more lasses, otherwise rational, than at which you could shake a stick, "Mairzy Doats", surely representative of the kind of boogie-woogie in-crowd signs following the hoi-polloi's cloying caresses in their sweating winter coats, against which the Reverend counseled.

As we follow assiduously the maxim of the Reverend and do not ourselves consign to the crowd, its tresses, we offer, for your edification, not meaning any head's one follicle to harass, this poem, without a chilly tear.

And, according to Dorman Smith, recorded accurately of the time, a rather belligerent appearing Gomer, U.S.M.C., arrives on the scene, subito, sublime, and sooner than anticipated, in the Pacific theater, to which there were no free passes, nor, as in Berlin, chinks by which to peek through the loam, only little Emperors and two-witch little Empresses, with so much killing fear, so very all alone.

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