Saturday, April 15, 1944

The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 15, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the German "hinge" position in Poland at Tarnopol, 75 miles southeast of Lwow, had been captured by the First Ukrainian Army, freeing Russian troops to proceed to Lwow or the Hungarian border, following a standoff with the Nazis at Tarnopol since March 23.

At Sevastopol, on the Crimea, the Nazis were attempting an escape of the type which the British had accomplished in June, 1940 at Dunkerque. The Fourth Ukrainian Army, 18 miles from the port, along with the Russian Air Force, were pressing fire against the escaping Germans and Rumanians. Reports indicated that Sevastopol resembled an ammunition dump exploding. As many as 15,000 men, an entire division, had been destroyed on Friday with another 11,000 prisoners taken, bringing the total prisoners captured thus far in the week-long offensive on the peninsula to 31,000, capturing 90% of its territory in the process.

In Kiev, Russian General Nikolai Vatutin, who had successfully led the First Ukrainian Army until illness caused him to take leave from the post in early March, having liberated the great bulk of his native Ukraine, including Kiev in November, was reported to have died from an operation. General Vatutin was 47 years old. He had a significant role in the planning of the counter-offensive to the Germans at Vyazma in 1941, repulsing their drive on Moscow. He had also a great hand in the more recent victories, in August at Kharkov and Cherkassy, west of Kharkov. He had also been one of the leading generals in the push against Field Marshal von Mannstein's Stalingrad offensive, the counter-thrust having begun in November, 1942 and successfully concluded in February, 1943.

After six successive days of heavy Allied raids on Germany and France, dropping 15,000 tons of bombs and destroying 700 aircraft, heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force and RAF out of England were absent from the skies for the second day in a row. American fighters and RAF Mosquitos, however, took part in a combined raid on northern Germany.

The Fifteenth Air Force out of Italy struck again the oilfields at Ploesti in Rumania and at rail facilities in the vicinity of Bucharest.

An Allied force was reported to be moving eastward in India from Dimapur to try to clear roadblocks from the Naga Hills Road to Kohima and in the Manipur Valley. Some progress had been made toward clearing the road, but the situation in the vicinity of Kohima itself was said to be unchanged as Japanese tried to take the town, in an effort to sever Dimapur from Imphal and interrupt the Assam-Bengal railway from Dimapur, supplying General Joseph Stilwell's Allied forces fighting in Northern Burma.

In Bari, Italy, a steel plant began operating to provide steel to the Allied war effort after four months spent getting the plant into fit shape to resume operations. It was being manned by a thousand Italian workers and was expected to provide half the steel needs of the Allied war effort in Italy.

Ralph Heinzen, recently released prisoner of the Reich, having spent 15 months in captivity after being imprisoned by Vichy following the Allied invasion of North Africa in November, 1940, released via the prisoner exchange in February, coming home by way of the Gripsholm, spoke to a News reporter during a stopover in Charlotte. The veteran United Press reporter who had been the chief of the U.P. office in France prior to his internment as a "hostage", stated that he had information that the Nazis had lost 40 of 370 divisions during the fighting in Russia, would likely lose another thirty, possibly more, by the end of the Russian campaign, potentially reducing Hitler's forces below 300 divisions for the first time in the war.

Nevertheless, the German people were not yet on the ropes, having, relative to the rest of Europe, from which the Nazis had stolen food and other essential stores, plenty to provide nourishment. The average German had white bread and three hotdogs per week, while the average Frenchman had but one hot dog and only black bread, a diet similar to that which Mr. Heinzen had witnessed among Germans in 1918 when he arrived in the Rhineland after the Armistice as part of the advanced intelligence team, ahead of the Allied occupation force.

Admiral Ernest King, commander-in-chief of the Navy, announced that Allied ships in the Pacific had sunk thus far during the war at least 600 Japanese merchant vessels, constituting over 1.8 million tons of shipping, and that it was anticipated that far more would ensue during the coming months.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull announced that the suggestion of demilitarization posited by Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, that Rome be made subject to a joint Axis-Allied council headed by Pope Pius XII, was being actively considered by the State Department and the President, in conjunction with the military and government authorities among the Allies.

A three-way Axis conference had been held in Tokyo with Premier Hideki Tojo, to reaffirm solidarity among the three Axis nations, including the remnants of Mussolini's Fascist Italian Government, in advance of the Allied invasion of the Continent. Tojo announced that the Allies would be repulsed by the Nazis.

Premier Tojo, himself, would not be so fortunate; he would be toppled from power in Japan by late July.

As D-Day was now but 52 days away, three hundred London bus drivers and conductors went on strike in protest of summer bus schedules.

In Mexico, "out of the goodness of his heart", strongman President Avila Camacho announced the release of all of the usual suspects rounded up in an alleged plot to assassinate him. The plot was not connected to the attempt on the life of His Highness taking place the previous Monday, the attempted assassin having been killed by members of the Army.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, writes of the refurbishing depot for recovered equipment on the Allied front in Italy. Private Woodrow Wilson Smith had the magic touch for taking blackened canteens and the like and giving them back their luster. Just a dip of the aluminum in an acid solution did the trick--hydrochloric, if memory serves; but consult the manual first, or don't blame us should your camp canteen wind up as shards of aluminum, and be sure to rinse it down thoroughly afterward before use, in a proper solution of cleanser. There is nothing worse than water tinged with acid.

"Honest Van Trading Post" was the post exchange, explains Mr. Tucker, for surplus goods turned into the salvage unit. To try to increase their stock, the exchange had requisitioned the talents of one of the men, an accomplished artist, to draw up provocative posters eliciting the collection and contribution of salvage items from the field.

Example of the posters read, "You'll come home to me sooner if you save salvage." The seductive expression was printed next to the painting of a "99 per cent nude" female. Several of the posters were lining the roads in the area for three days until a general came along and spoiled all the fun, ordering the quasi-quodammodotative objets d'art et de vertu et trouvés removed at once. Said the artist in dismay, he had always been told in art school to create a sensation with his art if he wanted to succeed. That is what he had done. The general apparently did not appreciate the finer arts, as telegraphed de haut en bas, that is to say from life of the pious and holy to those, as Caiaphas, living a way they stowed from hauls cast among the lowly.

On the editorial page, "A Rebel" finds a judge in Hawaii, Delbert Metzger, becoming a champion for the rights of civilians as against the military government of the territory. Admiral Nimitz and General Richardson had testified that military rule of Hawaii was still necessary. Judge Metzger found the proposition unconvincing in light of the remote possibility of any further attack, thus ruling that a civilian sentenced by a military provost court for assaulting two Marines was being held illegally without proper jurisdiction, ordered his release on habeas corpus. The decision was being appealed.

The piece supports the judge in theory, finds it appropriate to defend the civilian rights of citizens of Hawaii, but also opines that military rule of the territory remained necessary through the war, regardless of the probability of attack which clearly appeared remote. The essential nature of the territory, being the primary Allied supply depot between the West Coast and the Southwest Pacific, made its military command requisite for the sake of national security.

"Harsh Words" comments on the fact that, at long last, the State Department had become tough with recalcitrant neutrals, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Sweden, and Eire.

In the case of Eire, the British had closed the border to restrain further possibility of Axis spies obtaining information on troop movements out of Ulster.

But Spain still traded oil and wolfram, that is, tungsten, to Germany. Turkey supplied chrome. Sweden sent ore. The tough talk as to these nations, suggests the piece, might not be enough to instill cooperation. It needed to be impressed upon them that, should they continue to aid the enemy, reparations after the war would inevitably be sought for their collaborative roles as aiders to the cause of the Axis.

"Assent" chooses its title with apparent deliberation in providing a brief summary of General MacArthur's response to a letter from Congressman Miller of Nebraska seeking the general's commitment to a run for the Republican nomination. While not directly throwing into the ring his hat, in response, the general had attacked the New Deal and agreed with Congressman Miller as to the President's "monarchical" tendencies, corrosive of democracy in the country. Tacitly, the general was permitting his name to be put into the stream of consideration for the nomination.

Along the way, the general had put in a word asking for more planes and armament, a steady plaint which he had raised since the beginning of the war.

The piece finds it unbecoming of an officer of such prominent rank to engage in public criticism of his Commander-in-Chief, especially as to domestic policy having nothing directly to do with the war, while impliedly giving assent to his name being placed in nomination for the presidency. He had coupled his remarks with the standard disclaimer he had issued many times: he would continue to act as a good soldier, regardless of his disagreement on policy.

Concluded the piece: "The offer remains open: if the people want MacArthur as President, they can have him. That's what we say."

General MacArthur, of course, had a distinct character flaw in this regard, one which would color his entire remaining career, through his final confrontation with President Truman in 1951 concerning Korea. He was a man serving two masters, the concept of "the old soldier" faithful to his calling and the conflicting desire to become a political leader. He gave voice to both at once and harmed, consequently, his chances ever to become a responsible political voice.

General Eisenhower, by contrast, was wise. If he ever harbored any political ambition while serving in the war, he never once publicly showed his hand, and, ultimately, had to be convinced to run at all for the presidency, sought by both parties in 1952.

We have commented before that we hold no brief for General MacArthur. In our estimate, his vaunted slogan in his farewell address to a joint session Congress should be paraphrased: "Old soldiers never die. Some of them just grow more and more politically ambitious and vain."

Drew Pearson looks at a dispute between CIO union officials and Republic Steel, which had shut down an iron ore mine in Bessemer, Alabama as being no longer essential to the war effort, shutting out 150 miners from employment. The union appealed the decision to the War Production Board, whose vice-chair, Charles Wilson, determined de nouveau that the mine was essential for war production and should be re-opened by Republic, based on its war contract commitments to the Government.

Then, as the union sought to have the determination formalized into an order by the War Labor Board, Mr. Wilson reversed himself, applying the results of deliberation du jour, causing the matter to be dismissed before the regional WLB in Atlanta. The union now sought review before the full WLB in Washington.

Mr. Pearson poses the case as an example of how such conflicts would inevitably arise as war production decreased, resulting in the layoffs of many war workers, consignerd then for the determination of their economic fate to a somewhat mercurial bureaucratic process, rife with politics.

He next turns to some badinage between Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes and Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan.

Finally, he reports of the Swedish legation in Washington having denied the report he had printed the previous week, that the SKF ball bearings plant in Schweinfurt, bombed to ruin October 14 by the Eighth Air Force at a cost of at least 60 bombers, was being rebuilt with the aid of Swedish engineers. He quotes a section of Secretary Hull's Sunday address, albeit not referring expressly to either Sweden or the SKF scenario, by way of corroboration.

Cutting as a razor at the forested beard of accusations of calumny hurled his way from the mirror of discontent by various subjects of his column, Mr. Pearson also defends his statement in January that Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa was supporting Cordell Hull for the Democratic presidential nomination, denial having then issued at the time from Senator Gillette; a recent story had quoted Senator Gillette as having publicly endorsed Mr. Hull.

Marquis Childs examines the Sunday speech of Mr. Hull, elucidating American foreign policy. He looks at it through the prism of the pending election, finding it somewhat problematic that the President was hamstrung by the prospect of election year politics, preventing him from making comments on foreign policy.

Increasingly, however, since the spring of 1942, the President had allowed surrogates, either Mr. Hull or the former Undersecretary, Sumner Welles, or Vice-President Henry Wallace, deliver speeches on the subject.

Mr. Childs indicates that the current thrust of the policy was first to obtain solid agreement among the four principal Allies on war policy, understandably leaving aside for now the more controversial issues of territorial division after the war.

He chooses the Far East as example of a problematic area. A suggestion for resolution of the various competing empire interests between Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, and, inevitably, China and Russia, was to have a four-power trusteeship set up to enable the various former empire possessions slowly to proceed toward self-government, through education, economic development, and gradual growth from local self-rule to complete sovereign independence. The President had already, in 1942, set forth such a plan for the Philippines, to accelerate scheduled independence for that territory.

Mr. Childs indicates that the same might be applied to the Dutch East Indies, for instance. But any suggestion by the State Department and the President regarding British Empire interests, as in India, the British East Indies, and Singapore, could cause a serious rift in relations, as a hue and cry would be set up by both the British press against it and the American press in favor of dismantling these long-standing interests.

They were issues which would need to be worked out.

He does not reckon directly with former French Indochina, now occupied by Japan, to revert to the French at war's conclusion, and of course quickly devolve into a problematic area of conflict which would continue for three decades after World War II. Nor does he speak of Korea and the Chinese, another obvious area of conflict and difficulty.

Dorothy Thompson analyzes a growing tendency in the public to long for change in government, having had the same administration for over eleven years. She finds in the Midwest the trend to be most pronounced, a region typically given to independence of spirit for the fact of its more insular geography than the coastal regions of the country. From it was born the most adamant opposition to slavery, she suggests, and so, it was not surprising that from it was born, too, the most adamant reaction and distrust of late to centralization of government in Washington. Likewise, as to foreign policy, with its less interdependence on foreign trade than the East or South, it presented no shock that in the central region of the country there was the least support in the nation for any form of post-war internationalism.

She reminds, however, that Harold Stassen had polled well in the Midwest and had won the Nebraska primary, albeit unopposed, on a platform of internationalism. She also predicts that former Minnesota Governor Stassen would one day become president.

Even if Mr. Stassen took the prize for the most stabs at the office, to the point of ridicule by the 1960's--we recall the bare mention of his name usually eliciting a chuckle from David Brinkley, as if he knew something we did not--he never got close to the prize itself.

The little squib incidentally between "Assent" and "No Bonanza" was quite disgraceful and should have never been printed, referring, as it does, without apology or apparent irony, to Orientals as "slant"-eyed.

Those squibs, we know, were not provided by The News staff but were composed by an outside source who independently contracted with the newspaper to provide them. Such a person had contacted W. J. Cash in spring, 1941, desirous of renewing such an agreement. And, as it was Saturday, Burke Davis, the editor, may not have been aware of the inclusion.

Regardless, it was not only a slam on the enemy, but also to one of the principal Allies in the war, China, and, as well, numerous Japanese-Americans who fought bravely for their country during the war, both in the Pacific and in Europe. So, all in all, it was a disgraceful, thoughtless piece of tripe inserted for no purpose than to obtain some cheap chuckle from some idiotic racist.

Many Occidentals, when they smile broadly, appear slant-eyed. And these slant-eyes, of course, became bent out of shape when the Japanese on Cape Gloucester had reportedly run headlong in a banzai charge into American lines, shouting, "To hell with Babe Ruth!"

True enough, they started the war. But, to brand all Orientals or even all Japanese as somehow responsible for the war was idiocy, of course, beyond belief. Blame the little Empress, the little Emperor, General Tojo and his militaristic entourage for it, not the Japanese citizens, brainwashed by centuries of Shogun feudalistic nonsense and worship as a deity of a throne of blood.

Now at Cambridge, in the house of the Murphys on Trowbridge Street, he found himself living with the Irish for the first time, and he discovered that the Murphys were utterly different from all the Irish he had known before, and all that he had felt and believed about them. He soon discovered that the Murphys were a typical family of the Boston Irish. It was a family of five: there were Mr. and Mrs. Murphy, two sons and a daughter. Mrs. Murphy ran the house on Trowbridge Street, which they owned, and rented the rooms to lodgers, Mr. Murphy was night watchman in a warehouse on the Boston water-front, the girl was a typist in an Irish business house in Boston, the older boy, Jimmy, had a clerical position in the Boston City Hall, and the youngest boy, Eddy, whom the youth knew best, was a student at Boston College.

--from Of Time and the River, Chap. XV, by Thomas Wolfe, Scribner's, 1935

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