Monday, April 24, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, April 24, 1944

FOUR EDITORIALS

Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the largest concerted day of bombing raids yet in the war had occurred in combined attacks by the Fifteenth Air Force out of Italy, flying a thousand planes, half of which were heavy bombers, against Ploesti and Bucharest in Rumania, and by the Eighth Air Force out of England, flying 2,000 planes, half of which were heavy bombers, against Friedrichshafen and Munich in southern Germany.

In addition, bombers of the Ninth Air Force out of England struck targets in France and Belgium.

In the Pacific on Saturday, had occurred an Allied amphibious landing at Hollandia on Western Dutch New Guinea, personally overseen by General MacArthur. Known as "Operation Reckless", the 24th and 41st Infantry Divisions accomplished the landing without enemy opposition, immediately deploying tractors and bulldozers of the Sea Bees to initiate restoration of bombed airstrips, ultimately for use as Allied points of departure to attack the Philippines, a bit over a thousand miles to the northeast.

The recent attacks on Saipan and Tinian, 2,400 miles roundtrip from the Marshalls and Gilberts, had proved that such a long-range attack by air could be accomplished. General MacArthur reiterated his intent, stated two years earlier at his departure in mid-March from Bataan, to return to the Philippines. With this new landing on Hollandia at Tanahmerah Bay, his planes were now within striking distance of Mindanao, awaiting only the restoration of the airstrips.

A companion landing of the 163d Regimental Combat Team was also effected at Humboldt Bay on nearby Aitape.

General MacArthur indicated that the operation trapped hopelessly 60,000 enemy personnel, scattered between Hollandia and Madang to the southeast, cutting them off from all means of reinforcement and supply. Another 80,000 Japanese were already cut off in the Bismarck Sea ring, including New Britain, New Ireland, and Bougainville in the Solomons. He thus declared, with this landing, victory in the arena of the Southwest Pacific.


Landing vessels approaching Tanahmerah Bay at Hollandia, April 22, 1944

In Burma, a new glider-borne contingent of Irish, British, and Scotch troops had, without opposition before a confused enemy, established six days earlier a defensive box on a northbound railroad behind enemy lines south of Myitkyina, reinforcing the Chindit fighters, Indian and British troops, already in the area, with the objective of cutting off Japanese supplies to the key base in northern Burma.

In India, the road between Dimapur in the north and Kohima had been cleared of enemy troops, as the Kohima garrison was reinforced, reducing in the process the Japanese threat to the Assam-Bengal railroad supplying General Stilwell's troops in northern Burma.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting continued to the south of Kohima on the Imphal plain.

In Russia, a lull in the fighting had set in while supplies and reinforcements were delivered to the Russian front lines, including a change from winter gear and horses to motorized vehicles and summer clothing. The mud had, to a great degree, hardened on the southern portion of the front, and, while still boggy in the north along the Baltic area, the mud and slush had never stopped the Red Army during the spring thaw. The primary reason therefore for the cessation of action was for change in equipment, as well reinforcement and supply.

The Germans were expecting soon the initiation of a major thrust by the Russians into Poland, seeking to cover the 500 miles remaining to Berlin, the equivalent of which distance they had already covered during the immediately foregoing winter offensive beginning at Kursk.

A tactical decision had been made to starve out the remaining Germans trapped in Sevastopol on the Crimea, thus placing at risk relatively few Russian forces of the Fourth Ukrainian Army and the complementary coastal army of General Andrei Yeremenko.

In Italy, two German offensive thrusts of company strength against the Anzio beachhead had been repulsed. One was in the vicinity of Carano and the other was southwest of Carroceto.

Largely, however, beyond the usual patrol activity, the Italian fronts remained in a state of lull.

The president of East Carolina Teachers College, Dr. Leon Meadows, had been indicted for embezzlement of some $18,000 of college funds, the entire treasury of which he had been regularly dispensing from his personal bank account. He had been cleared of wrongdoing by the Board of Trustees, but had nevertheless announced his retirement effective during the summer. Allegedly, he had, however, dipped into the comingled funds of the college for his own personal expenses.

Sounding as a sort of checkered affair, the investigation by the college had been the subject of two previous editorials in The News, one on March 24, "Loophole", and the other on March 29, "School Row".

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, still on the Anzio beachhead in Italy, discusses "Quigley's Kraut Killers", a unit of particularly fierce fighters led by Captain Hugh Quigley of Nutley, N.J.

They crept up on the enemy by night and took care of business, everything from throwing grenades into a haystack serving as a sniperís nest to crawling three miles to commandeer the enemy's mule train by which they delivered their food to field units. In the latter case, reported a corporal, he and his fellow Kraut Killers had dispatched two Germans driving the mule team to deliver chow to troops on Cherry Hill. The mules didn't even flinch. The memory of it, he said, was indelibly etched.

On the editorial page, "An Encore" expresses concern that Prime Minister Churchill's indication that, post war, British Empire trade preferences would be maintained, just as would protective tariffs by the United States, suggested, instead of internationalism economically after the war, a new brand of Anglo-Americanism. Mr. Churchill enunciated the rationale for the policy to be assurance of sustained strong U.S. and British economies, necessary for worldwide prosperity.

Yet, many had advocated establishment of an international body to regulate trade and assure fairness and maintenance of balanced monetary systems to avoid the same worldwide depression which ensued World War I and went long to foment the fascist movements in Europe in its wake.

"No Revenge?" finds a survey of the American people, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center out of the University of Chicago, to show that there was no desire in the country for vengeance against the German people after the war. Not quite two-thirds, 63%, disfavored dismemberment of Germany, while only 26% were in favor of it, and 11% undecided. Level of education of respondents on the survey proved inversely proportional to favor of dismemberment, that is, the higher the education level, the less in favor of breaking up Germany.

The piece concludes that the results would make it unlikely that political leaders in the country could steer the population after the war into accepting any vengeful form pf peace, such as that which ensued World War I and led to the Versailles Treaty.

"A Hard Man" welcomes the return to the fore of General Patton, as again appearing in captioned photograph on the front page, reviewing a line of troops whose soldiers' insignias had been blanked out by the War Department. Now that he was in England, predicts the piece, it was certain that the invasion of Europe was imminent.

"Now, he can say to the assembled armies, we are ready to go."

He of course would address his new Third Army soon, on the eve of their departure in June for France. And, as the editorialist well understood from previous editorials on General Patton of the prior year and in 1942, he would express it in substantially more verbose and colorful terms than simply "we are ready to go".

The piece accurately assesses that his assignment would be to an army which would not spearhead the landings but would play a decisive role in consolidating positions and penetrating strong enemy defenses, once the landings were effected.

Its reference, incidentally, to General Patton having survived not only the damage done his reputation and career by the soldier slapping incidents of August in Sicily, but also by A Bell for Adano, refers, in the latter instance, to the 1944 novel by John Hersey. In the novel, there is a scene in which the protagonist, Major Joppolo, who has won the hearts of Sicilians by obtaining a replacement bell for the town of Adano after its bell had been requisitioned by Mussolini to melt down for ammunition, is ordered by a general, named Marvin in the novel, to keep all mule carts from Adano, for the fact that a mule cart had been blocking the general's column all morning, necessitating that he finally shoot the mule. The incident, of course, is based on the familiar actual shooting by General Patton of a pair of mules blocking his column in Sicily, an incident which had also come to light in November along with the slapping episodes.

"Siren" remarks on the Ohio speech of Clare Boothe Luce, a summary of which had appeared on the page the day before. Her address to OFORWO, says the piece, had been signal of a new form of defeatism afoot in the country, contending that the Roosevelt Administration, even if elected, could not govern in opposition to a pre-destined Republican Congress--one which never materialized from the 1944 election.

Her entire banter was geared toward cheering every potential Republican nominee for the presidency while, with equal vigor, jeering, interchangeably, Eleanor or Franklin Roosevelt.

Yet, the neologist who coined the term "globaloney" during her first months in the Congress the previous year--that term being in reference to the proposed United Nations organization after the war--offered, says the piece, no Republican alternative plan for the post-war world or for the country domestically.

In other words, as Ms. Luce herself, in fall, 1952, would, by way of indirectly attacking the candidacy of Senator Adlai Stevenson in his run for the presidency against General Eisenhower, suggest of President Truman with regard to prospects for ending the Korean War, she had "no plan, no plan, no plan."

In any event, concludes the editorial, "If this be prophecy, make the least of it."

Unfortunately, as to her warnings of the military build-up of our Allies during the war, China and the Soviet Union, allies without whom the war indubitably could not have been won, at least not without enormously greater sacrifice of human life than was made by both Britain and the United States, many dupes abroad the land, after the war, would buy into the fear thus generated of the Red bogey, in turn generating so much paranoia in those lands that, sure enough, a Red, stoned bogey arose in the form of the cockatrice, the rocket topped by a nuclear warhead, mutually aimed from each side, with nowhere to go but up, up, up, and away in terms of the arms race.

Thank ye again therefore very much. And here's another for ye, Ms. Luce.

Marquis Childs examines the attempt, at the urging of lobbyists, by Congress to eviscerate the Office of Price Administration, the enabling legislation for which would expire at the end of June. The director was authorized to set prices in a manner which was "generally fair". An effort was being made to strip "generally" from the statute, making the regulation of prices impracticable, as no method could achieve complete fairness. Also, an attempt was afoot to make the appellate process more time-consuming when a price regulation was challenged, by turning the matter over to the Federal District Courts rather than specially set up emergency appeals courts for the purpose.

Mr. Childs compliments the job accomplished by Director Chester Bowles and urges that the authorization for OPA be extended for more than the one year under consideration. Mr. Childs contends that, with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau warning of 115 billion dollars in surplus income floating about in the country threatening inflation at warís end, it would be necessary to insure price regulation for at least one year after the end of the war.

Drew Pearson discusses first that Governor Dewey had already selected certain members of his cabinet, including former President Herbert Hoover to be his secretary of state, and Winthrop Aldrich, a member of the Rockefeller family and the president of Chase National Bank, to be his secretary of the treasury. Also rumored on his list, once the convention ended and the competing candidates were no longer subject to nomination, were General MacArthur, to be secretary of war, and former Minnesota Governor and Navy Lt.-Commander Harold Stassen to be his secretary of the Navy.

Mr. Pearson next turns to information which had surfaced from the previous summer's landings, July 9-10, on Sicily, that printed fliers for distribution and posting among the native population once the landings were effected, had been delayed in their printing for want of being able easily to find a printer secure enough to keep the secret of the invasion. In consequence, the selection was made at the last minute, and the result was that the Sicilians, when reading the announcement on the finished product, wound up scratching their heads. For it read that there would be a curfew in effect "from sunrise to sunset".

He next looks at the question of the Palestinian homeland for Jews to be established after the war. He reports that President Roosevelt had differed at Tehran with Prime Minister Churchill when informed of the "White Paper" out of Britain declaring an end for the year of immigration quotas for Jews wishing to seek haven in Palestine. The Prime Minister reportedly agreed with the President.

Nazi and Japanese propaganda agents were spreading rumors among the Palestinian Arab leaders that the intention of the Allies was to take over Palestine after the war, eliminate all Arabs from the country, and give it in whole to the Jews.

Jewish leaders in America, reports Mr. Pearson, however, had expressed their disfavor for the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine.

Finally, he examines the deal available to the Treasury Department whereby the recently released film, "Hitler's Gang", (actually titled "The Hitler Gang"), from Paramount Pictures, would promote, as part of its June 12 premiere, the Fifth War Bond Drive. But the Treasury Department turned it down for the fact that the early portion of the film contained depictions of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic Nazi propaganda slogans, causing the Treasury Department to fear that the Drive would become associated in the viewers' minds with such Axis sloganeering.

The screenplay, incidentally, for "The Hitler Gang" was written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. The husband and wife team also, among many other major films, wrote the screenplay for "It's a Wonderful Life". Marcus Goodrich, author of Delilah, mentioned at the beginning of the June 2, 1941 commencement address by W. J. Cash at the University of Texas, referencing from it a "short, incidental section" about the Battle of the Alamo, wrote the treatment for "It's a Wonderful Life". Whether Mr. Goodrich was related to Frances Goodrich, we have not been able to ascertain. The two were born seven years apart, Ms. Goodrich being the elder, born in 1890 in New Jersey. Marcus Goodrich was born in San Antonio in 1897.

Samuel Grafton once again advocates establishment of a free port for refugees of the war, a port which would be a secured area within the country in which refugees could huddle in relative liberty from the terrors besetting them in Europe, free from the strictures of immigration quotas which had hampered their escape from the Nazi scourges.

As reported the previous day in the column, the War Refugee Board was considering adoption of what had come to be called the Grafton Plan, having been proposed in two previous editorials by Mr. Grafton.

Mr. Grafton, by way of underscoring the problem, relates a story in circulation: a refugee arrived at an American consulate in Europe, seeking admittance to the United States, was told to report back in ten years, asked obediently whether he should arrive in morning or afternoon. It highlighted the incessant struggle during the war between the consuls and the refugees.

Time had come, for humane purposes, to effect an end to that problem, that of the otherwise Damned.

In reflecting in hindsight on the dilemma of the Roosevelt Administration with regard to Jewish emigration from Germany and occupied countries, one must always bear in mind, of course, the delicate political balance beam being walked by the Administration then, in a country segregated racially between black and white, in which anti-Semitic and racist ravings proliferated, having abated somewhat during the tumult of the thirties, as FDR tried to reel in a society gone mad with its new inventions not yet well understood by the broad base of the populace, but ravings, nevertheless, which persisted in quarters, especially in the South, even through the 1960's.

Had the liberation of the Jews been made the casus belli for the war, the run of the mine individual would not have been willing to fight in the war, would have joined the side of the isolationists, indeed, as many did, including the overtly anti-Semitic Bundists, preventing entry to the war prior to Pearl Harbor. Congress would simply not authorize a declaration of war and the President knew that. The President cannot unilaterally act by edict, but must do so only by authority of the Constitution or by legislation passed by Congress.

Thus, blame justly the Congress. Blame justly the majority of the American people at the time. President Roosevelt, however, cannot be justly blamed for not taking action overtly in such an atmosphere, one in which he had no power to act by executive fiat, any more than he may be blamed for not seeking to integrate schools of the South in, say, 1936.

It is important to maintain a focus on the times then extant, as well the constraints of constitutional authority, in assessment of the actions of political leaders. One cannot engraft justly our own sentiments, with twenty-twenty hindsight, onto that of the politicians of 70 years ago and then judge them thusly. It is precisely why columnists of the time, quite sensitive to the Holocaust ongoing in Europe, did not howl for the impeachment of President Roosevelt. To blame him in hindsight is to participate in the same sort of purblindness, reminiscent of Hitler and the Nazis. That is precisely what they did, hearken back to the Franco-Prussian War of the 1860's, to instill pride in gullible youth, to redress ancient grievances through dulled memories and lack of reasoned understanding of the times formerly extant.

But, again, it is fair game to blame the purblindness of the people of the time, as a lesson for the learning, especially as they were led by such purblind voices as Charles Lindbergh, Burton Wheeler, Robert Rice Reynolds, Father Coughlin, John Foster Dulles, and Clare Boothe Luce, to name but six of many prominent Americans of the time who, expressly or impliedly, as in the case of Ms. Luce, voiced beliefs that Nazism was not all that bad, just a necessary bulwark against dratted Communism. And, of course, these same voices, residual in memories, echoing from the microphones of their latter counterparts, produced in the latter 1940's and early 1950's McCarthyism, as an outgrowth of the Dies Committee brand of Red-baiting which had proliferated prior to the attack of Germany on Russia, followed six months later by the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, with considerable German urging.

We do not live under the royal edict of some Church of the Graces of God, such that the royally endowed instrument of God, sitting on high as the High Priest or Priestess, may issue the proclamation of the Divine Voice, to instruct us what to do morally. That is precisely what Hitler and the Nazis set up in Germany, with no deviation or argument allowed. Morals must be by individual choice, and rectitude can only be endowed through the process of patient and diligent explanation, preferably in early childhood, to cause the child to reflect, beyond him or herself, on what is right and what is wrong, that is, what, ultimately, does collective good versus that which does collective harm.


The Madonna of the Rabbit, Titian

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