Thursday, March 23, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 23, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the First Ukrainian Army had moved to the outskirts of Nikolaev, trapping the thousands of Nazis there without an escape route, there never having been a railway from the town to Odessa, the only direction of retreat. Troops of the Third Ukrainian Army entered the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Another force moved to within 25 miles of the Prut River at the old Rumanian border in Bessarabia.

A thousand-plane RAF raid hit Frankfurt the night before, while an American day raid consisting of about 1,500 bombers struck at several targets in Western Germany, at Werl, Oldenberg, and Handorf. Twenty-seven bombers and six fighters were missing from the raid.

Close quarters fighting was still ongoing in southern Cassino, with the New Zealand troops heavily engaged with the Germans.

In Burma, the Japanese moved both from the south and east toward the key transportation crossroads in northern India at Imphal, in the state of Manipur. Each prong of the dual offensive was within 30 miles of the town.

Premier Ion Antonescu of Rumania had been summoned to Berlin to meet with Hitler, presumably to be dismissed as leader, similar to the treatment of Admiral Nicholas Horthy of Hungary. The complete takeover of Rumania by the Germans appeared imminent but was received as only a formalization of that which had been in de facto status since 1940.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson indicated that the Patton slapping incident of August in Sicily was now considered closed. The General had been transferred from command of the Seventh Army to another army, yet to be disclosed.

Word would be leaked that he was in command of a fictional First Army Group, slated to invade France via Calais. In fact he was placed in charge of the Third Army which would follow the invasion of Normandy.

After the President's informal canvass of the states before signing the Federal ballot bill which left it up to the states to determine the method of voting and the voting eligibility requirements, the score stood at 20 states opposed to action to provide a Federal ballot for the soldiers, 19 were in favor, and nine were noncommittal.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, reports from the Anzio beachhead of the relentless pounding being delivered by the German artillery into the fan-shaped beachhead. A debate was ongoing as to whether the shells being used by the enemy had a booster charge to cause them to explode while still in flight or were powered by a vacuum.

The men ate well on the beachhead; cows tended to be unable to stay out of the way of the shelling and, so felled, provided plenty of fresh meat.

The German and American lines were so close that it was possible to talk to one another from within foxholes. In one instance a doctor was diagnosing a soldier's throat ailment which the soldier thought to be diphtheria. The doctor told him that it was not what he had, whereupon a German voice was heard to say, "The hell he hasn't."

The relentless shelling of the area brought the men close together. There was no pettiness, no fist fights, no complaints from M.P.'s about sloppy dress.

A church, St. Teresa, had miraculously avoided being hit by the shelling though the area surrounding it was pock-marked. It was considered by the Italians to be protected by God.

The men considered anyone crazy who stayed in Anzio. They preferred the forward lines to the uncertainty of being hit by a shell there.

On the editorial page, "GI Rights" praises the new G.I. Bill of Rights destined to pass the Congress. It provided that the Veterans' Administration would be the exclusive agency to deal with veterans' issues, eliminating bureaucratic entanglements of the past, that veterans' hospitals would be established, that free education would be provided those who had completed six months of service, that an agency would assist veterans in finding employment, and low-cost loans would be provided for buying houses or farms.

It was the most extensive plan ever for veterans of any country but one which was well worth the relative pittance it would cost the Treasury in providing for the returning veterans of the war.

"Our Policy" summarizes some of the seventeen points recently offered in a speech by Secretary of State Cordell Hull regarding the war policy and that for structuring the peace. They were a mere recapitulation of the major policy statements of the past: winning the war; assurance of national security; that to be included within the embrace of the Atlantic Charter, each nation must demonstrate its fitness for sound government and peaceful relations with other nations; that the United Nations would exert vigilance over the belligerents of the war to insure their transition away from the philosophy of the superior race; and that an international organization must be set up to insure the peace.

To each of these tenets, the piece expresses questions, asking, for instance, with regard to abolition of the superior race philosophy, whether that would apply also to the Allies.

The editorial also wonders why it took so long to frame a cohesive statement of the war policy, why it was not done from the beginning of the war.

"New OPA" expresses the hope that the Congress, in revising the Office of Price Administration, would not weaken its salutary purpose of controlling inflation, but would instead improve and streamline the agency’s bureaucracy. Chief target was said to be the local courts set up to police violations. But if these courts were abolished without replacement, says the piece, then it would effectively abolish price regulation.

Dorothy Thompson, in examining the call of late for decentralization of the government to give back more power to the states, as exampled by the informal canvass of the states by the President re the Federal absentee ballot for soldiers, finds the thinking behind the trend to ignore the overall centralization in society and thus to be facile.

Transportation systems, chain stores, catalog retailers, the economy generally were all centralized. The various facets of the society had so grown organically from the soil of the country, by the natural phenomena at work impelling the trend socio-economically. It followed logically that centralized government was necessary to control this centralized economy, lest it become monopolistic and despotic.

Samuel Grafton looks at the uniformly accepted belief that Russia was now acting unilaterally, in its recognition of Badoglio in Italy, in its stated conditions for surrender of Finland. But the same body of opinion could not explain why then Stalin bothered to attend the Tehran Conference with Churchill and Roosevelt just four months earlier. Nor could it explain why the Stalin Government had been making concessions for the past year to the West, from the abolition of the Comintern to the increased tolerance for religion. Russia also was not promoting anything beyond nationalistic interests in its war propaganda. Moreover, the recognition of Badoglio was, in effect, a gesture to conservative Western interests.

Beyond that, the West itself could be charged with acting unilaterally with respect to certain matters. The support of Badoglio, though not reaching diplomatic recognition, was accomplished without consultation with Russia in September, as were the terms of Italy's surrender, reportedly to the consternation of the Soviets. The announced intention of the U.S. to build a 1,200-mile pipeline from Saudi Arabia to the eastern Mediterranean was done unilaterally. Many saw the President's reluctance thus far to recognize De Gaulle as the leader of the French to be a unilateral action.

Thus, the independence of action attributed to the Russians was equally chargeable to the West; the objection thus served no purpose except to stir enmity against an ally. And, the Russians' actions, even if unilateral, were not against the interests of the West in any event.

Marquis Childs writes with approbation of Wendell Willkie's speech in Madison, Wisconsin, in which he set forth candidly, opines Mr. Childs, the dilemma facing the Republican Party. It could move forward or it could stand still and seek to dodge the future by retreating into the past.

The Wisconsin primary on April 4 would be the acid test for Mr. Willkie's candidacy. On the line was not only his candidacy but the general trend within the Republican Party toward internationalisim as a policy and the party's general support for the continued vitality of the New Deal programs passed by the Roosevelt Administration.

Should he fail the task, he might seek to establish a third party, as he made respectful remarks toward past third party movements of splintered and disgruntled Republicans, those of both 1872 and 1912, the latter led by Theodore Roosevelt in the form of the Bull Moose Party. But the problem with this scenario was that the requirements for qualification on the ballot had been made so stringent by the states as to preclude the practicability of a third party movement.

Drew Pearson tells of two important meetings held among Republicans to stop Wendell Willkie from becoming the nominee of the party for the presidency. One was sponsored by Socony-Vacuum Oil Company and the other by Chase National Bank, both of which were controlled by the Rockefeller family. Thus, it appeared that both big oil and the major banks, and the most wealthy of Republicans, were climbing onto the Dewey bandwagon in opposition to Mr. Willkie.

Mr. Pearson next tells of Admiral Ernest King's insistence on a fashion statement by the Navy, adding to his determination the previous year that Navy uniforms be changed to gray, now having ordered that shoulder marks also be gray and all buttons, blue-black. The home seamstresses, says Mr. Pearson, had best get out their sewing needles and thread.

After telling of the significance of the number seven to a Winston-Salem resident, the Reverend Herbert Spaugh relates of the putative Biblical significance of the number. Some had even developed an elaborate matrix around the Seven Last Words of Christ. There were no elevens; just sevens.

…All the children go to Heaven.

And the post commander at Camp MacKall in Eastern North Carolina issued orders forbidding, except on permission of the post engineers, the cutting of pine trees, to prevent soil erosion, provide windbreak in winter and shade in summer.

Dorman Smith appears to have been reading about Baby Benedict.

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