Tuesday, April 25, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, April 25, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Eighth Air Force sent another thousand-plane raid to attack Nancy, Metz, Dijon, and Pas de Calais in France, as well as targets in southwest Germany. The force lost seven bombers and two fighters, encountering only slight opposition from the Luftwaffe.

The night before, the RAF sent a thousand planes to bomb Karlsruhe and Munich, losing thirty planes. Mosquitos hit Dusseldorf and a rail depot north of Paris.

In India, the British 14th Army struck at a Japanese roadblock 15 miles south of Kohima, clearing the road of enemy opposition, a fourth of the way south to Imphal. The new offensive move of the British signaled a belief that Imphal was secure, permitting movement north against the Japanese.

In Russia, a German counter-attack was repulsed by the Red Army west of Dubno, 85 miles northeast of Lwow in Poland. A hundred miles southwest, a German contingent crossing a stream southwest of Stanislawow, were routed by the Soviets. Otherwise, activity remained in lull.

In the vicinity of Hollandia on Western Dutch New Guinea, Dutch and American troops closed in from two sides on three airfields of the Japanese, encountering thus far no resistance, slowed only by mud and mountainous terrain. A fourth airfield 150 miles southeast, near Aitape, had already been seized against sniper fire, and placed in service for Allied air traffic. The invasion forces which landed Saturday were fanning out rapidly, some having advanced six miles from Hollandia by Sunday afternoon, meeting along the way some Japanese soldiers who had no weapons, indicative of their straits, cut off for weeks from supply by Truk or Rabaul.

In Italy, American troops, after a fight with the enemy, occupied a house 1.5 miles west of Carano on the central sector of the Anzio beachhead. Another force occupied some woods two miles south of Cisterna, improving their position. The usual artillery and mortar duels continued in Cassino.

In London, a travel ban was put into effect, allowing international travel only on either necessary business or for military reasons. The move prompted further speculation by German broadcasters that invasion was nigh.

In Demark, the Nazi occupation government vowed to put down increasing acts of sabotage from what the Nazi Minister termed were "swarming" underground members.

From a London source with connections to the underground came a report that Hitler was, along with Admiral Karl Doenitz, General Gunther Korten, chief of staff of the Luftwaffe, and Professor Tann, inventor of the flak towers sprinkled along the protective West Wall in France, inspecting defenses in that area, in preparation for the invasion. It was reported that Hitler had determined to keep 54 to 60 divisions in Western France, which he deemed sufficient to resist initially any invasion. For weeks, transfer of troops from the East had been ongoing, but for the previous two or three weeks, the movement had ceased. Some of the most experienced fighters from the Russian front were now reported to be in France. Allied military observers in London believed Hitler would leave his 25 divisions in Italy as they were.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was also on the scene in France, inspecting coastal fortifications. He had indicated to an accompanying German correspondent his delight to see the spring flowers dotting the fields, giving him added warmth in the secure knowledge that beneath those flowers lay 80,000 mines.

Field Marshal Rommel needed especially to appreciate this spring of 1944, as it would be his last. He would be dead by mid-October of his own hand, forced to choose between that and a trial for treason, with a foregone result, for his alleged complicity in the July 20 plot against Hitler's life.

George Tucker, in the "Reporter's Notebook" column, again writes from Italy, as he had the day before, anent the fierce American unit known as "Quigley's Kraut Killers". He tells of Sgt. Philip Crabtree of Union, Maine, who related of his harrowing experience, being pinned down in a foxhole by machinegun fire whizzing into the dirt just inches from his face.

Another soldier broke in on the story, telling of having been chased, along with his fellow soldiers, by mortar fire for 200 yards, forced to crawl more than a mile through a ditch to avoid being hit.

On the editorial page, "Our Policy" brands as mere political bunting in an election year the long-winded statement on the floor of the Senate by South Dakota Republican Harlan Bushfield. He had spoken of the supposed vacillation of the President on foreign policy throughout his tenure, beginning with the endorsement in 1935 of the Neutrality Act, followed in 1939 by his demand that it be rescinded. He had vowed to keep the country out of war and yet had pursued war. He had not put forth a clear foreign policy and the recent statement of Secretary Hull did little to illuminate it. Still left unclear was the question of Poland, Palestine, the Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Spain, etc.

The Senator believed that the country should not try to tell Italians they could not have Fascism; they might desire it. In China, Chiang Kai-shek spoke but for a small minority of the Chinese. Were we not therefore dealing with the wrong leader?

Only in his latter summation did the Senator, says the piece, begin to exhibit wisdom, when he advocated an open statement of foreign policy and less secrecy.

Well, Senator, you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow, if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, nor able to see pilchard semolina dripping from the Eiffel Tower with some Kampf Kultured surrogate of Mussolini, up the Via Casilina, having filchered the people's rightful power.

"Planner" comments on a recent press interview provided by Prince Umberto, heir apparent to the throne, upon the Allies taking Rome, based on his father's recently announced intention to abdicate in favor of Umberto in that event. The Prince sought only from America money, not political support, for rebuilding the destroyed cities and towns of his country.

Within the tumultuous political scene pervading Italy, still at war, largely in ruin, struggling in its freed southern half between the House of Savoy and the Six-Party Coalition for control of its political destiny, the statement was one, opines the piece, which would surely stand him in good stead with the people when it came time to choose their government.

"Victories" remarks that that all the preliminary victories, establishing the various staging grounds for move on the heart of Germany and on the heart of Japan, had now been won. Now, would begin the final phase of the war, in both Europe and in the Pacific, to take the war to the heart of each Axis nation and force each finally to unconditional surrender.

"Sweden" advocates implementation of all available economic sanctions against the country, standing in defiance of Allied demands that it halt, as a neutral in the war, shipments of ball bearings to Germany. Sweden's refusal, contending that its treaty commitments with both the United States and Great Britain did not so mandate, communicated its greater fear of reprisal by Germany than by the Western Allies.

Recognizing that economic sanctions would have limited impact on Sweden, it nevertheless advocated that the effort be made to back up thwarted demand with some form of punitive response.

Drew Pearson discusses Tennessee Senator Kenneth McKellar, known for two things during his 32 years in the Senate, his virulent temper and his tendency toward patronage. As to the former, he had once pulled a knife on a Senate colleague and charged at him on the Senate floor, restrained by others. As acting chair of the Appropriations Committee, he wielded power which he sometimes used to obtain vengeance against a colleague who had run afoul of his will.

As to patronage, he had several relatives on the government payroll. But his most recent coup in that regard was to steamroll Senate passage of an amendment to the TVA legislation, requiring that all employees earning more than $4,500 per year would have to pass Senate confirmation, thus subjecting large numbers of TVA employees to political patronage. Another provision of the bill required all TVA profits to be turned over to Congress to be approved for further disbursement back to TVA, thus again granting political power over TVA to the Appropriations Committee of Senator McKellar. The bill still had to be approved by the House.

Mr. Pearson next informs of the tough treatment given by the House Military Affairs Committee to General Lewis Hershey, Selective Service Director, and to Paul McNutt, Manpower Coordinator, contending that both offices ought be combined to bring industrial and military manpower under one coordinated roof.

Dorothy Thompson relates of American prisoner-of-war camps and their failure to distinguish between Nazi and non-Nazi prisoners, leading to situations where Nazi prisoners had beaten to death non-Nazis, or compelled them to participate in events such as the recently celebrated birthday of Hitler held openly and notoriously at Fort Custer, Michigan. Routinely, Nazi prisoners were greeting American journalists with the party salute, not just the standard military salute.

Letters from prisoners had been published in Schwarze Korps, the official German organ of the Gestapo and SS, stating that they had suffered tortures in American prison camps and urging people at home to maintain their faith in the Fuehrer. Presumably, these letters, unless forged, had passed American and British censors to make their way back to Germany via the Red Cross.

Routinely, funerals of German prisoners permitted a protocol whereby the coffin was adorned by the Nazi Party flag, replete with its swastika.

Ms. Thompson questions the permissiveness of these camps in allowing this sort of conduct, permitting transmission of overt Nazi propaganda and continued recognition of a party emblem and salute, both distinguishable from those of the German state. Symbols were important, especially across language barriers.

She suggests that Nazi prisoners ought be segregated in the camps from non-Nazis. If, as high officials complained, they could not so distinguish, then, asks Ms. Thompson, how was it to be that the Allied Military Government would distinguish Nazi from non-Nazi when Germany would be eventually occupied?

Marquis Childs addresses the notion of assimilation into American political life by foreign born or second generation descendants of foreign born parents, and whether, as the Republicans were predicting, there would be wholesale defections of such Americans from the Democratic fold into the Republican camp in the November election, resultant of the political tensions generated regarding boundary disputes in Europe post-war, especially with regard to the Baltic States, the Balkans, Poland, Finland, and Germany itself, as well as the policy toward France.

As to Polish Americans, some had claimed as many as 5.5 million voters fell into that group. Mr. Childs observes that the 1940 census showed only about three million Polish Americans, those either born in Poland, numbering less than a million, or those with one parent born in Poland. Thus, to obtain the 5.5 million voters of Polish heritage, there had to be included those who had been in America for several generations. For them, predicts Mr. Childs, as for many among the more recent immigrants to the country, assimilation would have taken effect sufficiently to neutralize any such strong affinity to the homeland, enough to produce a consequence to the American election from disputes over what might become the homeland borders after the war. Such would also be true of other groups of European heritage.

If there were to be mass defections to the Republicans, it would come across the board, from all groups making up American society, not merely specific to those of foreign national identity.

Blink, and forget it is 1944, while reading Samuel Grafton’s column, and you could swear he was talking about at least certain aspects of the Republican Party platform of the last forty or so odd years, since 1968.

He discusses the trend among old isolationists now to refer to themselves as nationalists. This new nationalism was anti-Soviet, anti-British, anti-Jewish. It rejected the concept of political internationalism but embraced military internationalism, insisted on a peacetime Army and Navy, compulsory peacetime military service, retention of territory after the war for establishment of military watch stations, in the Pacific and in the Atlantic.

Whereas isolationists had embraced the idea of America as the only sane nation among international zealots and dissolute reprobates, leading to indifference to the rest of the world, the nationalists evinced open hostility to other nations, sought actively to build munitions after the war, not to pursue the genuinely pacifist ends of at least part of the isolationist movement.

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