Monday, June 5, 1944

The Charlotte News

Monday, June 5, 1944


Site Ed. Note: On the eve of D-Day, the major news on the front page was the liberation of Rome on Sunday by the Allies, nine months after the initial landings in Southern Italy at Reggio Calabria and then Salerno, four and a half months after the landings at Anzio and Nettuno. Italians held captive by the Nazi occupation of the city since the armistice in September were jubilant, as large crowds formed in Vatican Square. The celebrants threw kisses and roses at the Americans. The city was largely intact except for the rail yards which the Allies had bombed, adjacent to the San Lorenzo, Tiburtina, Ostiense, and Trastevere areas; there was no sign of deliberate looting or scorched earth by the Nazis.

The Germans fled toward their next natural defense line, about 150 miles north along the Po River Valley, as the Allies gave chase northwest of the city. German rearguards had sought to hold the city in a last ditch stand near the Forum and Colosseum before finally being killed or fleeing. Many partisans, including young boys and girls and middle-aged men, had joined in the fight to hasten the retreat of the Germans as the Allies entered the city. Many of the partisans had given their lives in that effort.

The insurgence into Rome by the Allies occurred in spite of an offer by Berlin at the last moment to declare Rome an open city.

King Vittorio Emanuele, as he had promised at the fall of Rome to the Allies, abdicated the throne in favor of the Six-Party Coalition government.

Berlin radio admitted the loss of Rome but counted it as minor, insisting that Rome was not a strategic city and was only of benefit as a tourist attraction.

Undersecretary of State Edward Stettinius stated that immediate plans would be undertaken to begin the process of feeding the citizens of Rome and insuring their shelter.

It was announced by the White House that President Roosevelt would speak to the nation on the taking of Rome at 8:30 Eastern War Time on this evening. He would speak again the following evening concerning the D-Day invasion. The text of this evening's speech is below. It was the first address to the nation by the President since the speech in January on the Tehran and Cairo Conferences.

As the President spoke, the armada of 4,000 ships bearing eight divisions of men, the largest single invasion force in the history of the world, was crossing the English Channel toward the Normandy Coast. The sailing had been delayed by a day because of inclement weather on the Channel. Failure to proceed on this evening would have meant postponement for two weeks to enjoy once again favorable tides. Landings would begin at midnight and proceed to 2:25 a.m. E.W.T., 6:00 a.m. to 8:25 British Double Summer Time.

The order of the day, issued by General Eisenhower to the Allied forces just before the invasion began, reprinted in the first Extra Edition of The News since December 7, 1941, was brief and to the point.

General Patton's address to his Third Army troops was less brief and substantially more colorful, laced with plentiful profanity, not reprinted in The News. To hear it properly, however, the reader must obliterate the fierce, piercing gravel of George C. Scott and supplant it with the actual soft medium-pitch, thin rather than barrel-throated, of native Virginian George Patton. Now, try to hear it as it actually may have sounded to the troops, and leave off the George C. Scott impressions. That's an order. At ease.

To complete the pre-D-Day bombing operations, 1,250 American heavy bombers struck targets on the Northern Coast of France, primarily around Boulogne, Pas-de-Calais, Dieppe, and Dunkerque, rounding out four successive days of bombing of the area.

The previous night, without loss, the RAF with relatively small numbers of planes, struck targets on the French coast and at Cologne.

During the previous three days, 13,000 tons of bombs had been dropped on France, most on the Calais coast and around Paris.

A novice teletype operator in the Associated Press offices in London had, while typing a practice message announcing the D-Day invasion, inadvertently sent the message along the wires to all A.P. offices on Saturday. The only way that such a message could be sent, escaping editors and censors, was directly in the manner it had occurred. New safeguards were being implemented to prevent recurrence.

As a new infantry drive of the Sixth Army began on Biak Island in the Schoutens off New Guinea, an air attack of 70 Japanese planes was thwarted with 30 being shot down.

The Supreme Court, in a 4 to 3 decision delivered by Justice Hugo Black in U.S. v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association, 322 US 533, with Justices Owen Roberts and Stanley Reed taking no part in the decision, overturned a 75-year old precedent, Paul v. Virginia, 8 Wall. 168 (1869), which had held that insurance companies were not engaged in interstate commerce, leading to holdings that they were not subject to Federal regulation by the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, prohibiting monopolistic practices and price-fixing. The Court distinguished, however, that line of cases from the instant case on the basis that none of the prior cases involved a determination of the coextensive and, by the Supremacy Clause, in conjunction with the Tenth Amendment, trumping power of the Federal Government to regulate insurance companies pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, only whether the individual states had been precluded by the Commerce Clause from such regulation, ruling in those cases that they had not been so prohibited. The Government's anti-trust and price-fixing case against several fire insurance companies in the South, having been dismissed in the lower courts, was therefore reinstated. Chief Justice Harlan Stone authored a dissent in which Justice Felix Frankfurter joined, along with Justice Robert Jackson, dissenting in part and concurring in part with the majority.

The decision came at a time when Congress was considering legislation which would override the effect of the decision, insofar as its specific application to the former rule of exception, by expressly exempting insurance companies from the gambit of the anti-trust laws.

Hal Boyle recounts the legend of Kari Warner, a dead soldier who had risen from being one of the poorest soldiers in the Army, having disobeyed orders, gone AWOL, slept on guard duty, donned an officer's uniform, and deserted posts, to become one of the most daring fighters in North Africa, once single-handedly capturing 140 Italians without firing a shot. He had died just days before the capture of Bizerte in northern Tunisia had led to the final surrender on Cap Bon of the last of the Axis troops. He then passed into the realm of myth.

Once, at Maknassy in Tunisia, the Brooklyn native, known as "Molotov, Mayor of Brooklyn", had run 800 yards toward enemy lines without his helmet, his usual habit, leaped upon a rock, shouted "finish la guerre", and dived between two boulders as German machineguns opened fire on his position, thus revealing their own. He then relayed the positions back to field artillery which were able to destroy the German nests.

"Molly" finally got it at Sedjenane, while fighting with French Goums against the Nazis. Machinegun fire nearly cut him in half. At his death, two Army charges were pending against him; those were dismissed and he was awarded the Silver Star posthumously.

Stars & Stripes asserted that his lone wolf heroics might hold for him a place in the annals of World War II similar to that of Sergeant York in the First World War.

On the editorial page, "Old Rome" writes eloquently of the fall of the city to the Allies, not important strategically but of great significance to Allied morale, sending ripples through Europe, especially the Balkans, encouraging underground movements.

That the Nazis did not make a stand was emblematic of their position that the war was lost and that they only sought now to negotiate a peace on favorable terms, thus chose not to anger the Christian world by destroying Rome.

The President in his speech that evening, however, would state that the German generals, were they to have wreaked the sort of destruction left in the wake of their retreat at Naples, would have put at risk too much of their army and so had no choice but to effect a quick withdrawal north from the city.

The taking of Rome, the piece predicts, would now herald the coming invasions from the East by the Russians and the West by the Anglo-American forces.

"Protest" comments on the statements the previous week of Pope Pius XII, warning the combatants of laying any destructive hand on Rome and expressing the belief that the demand for unconditional surrender might prolong the war.

The piece finds the latter part of the statement difficult to understand as the Pope had heretofore been inimical to the Axis cause. He appeared concerned of the tendency toward violence and total war on the world stage overtaking the basic gentility of humanity convivial to peace. On this latter point, he appeared to have the Nazis in mind more than the Allies.

The editorial reminds that there was a vast crevasse to be crossed between the war for conquest and acquisition which had been waged by Hitler and that of the Allies to liberate the territory he had thus enslaved.

"Good Work" praises the Mecklenburg police department for its thorough job of investigation before arresting two black suspects on a charge of criminal assault of a Derita white woman. North Carolina, it points out, had not been the locus of mob violence or lynching in several years and the good police work had defused any prospect of a renewal of it in a case which had the potential for lighting such untoward passions.

"Leadership" gives praise to community leaders who had approved the expansion of the YMCA facilities for blacks. The $275,000 modernization was necessary to bring the presently inadequate facilities into parity with the white facilities.

Samuel Grafton quotes from a letter received from a soldier writing from San Francisco scolding the country and its politicians for being too much engaged in the abstract and not enough in the practicalities of everyday life. They were unconcerned of the rights of black people, unconcerned of the right of every person to send their children to good schools, unconcerned about workers who had been laid off from work for loss of a war contract by the employer, more concerned with abstractions such as states’ rights.

Marquis Childs finds the recent speech of Prime Minister Churchill to be not atypical of the man, as some had suggested by its comparison to his vibrant speeches to citizens of the world during the period of the Blitz in 1940-41; rather, it was wholly typical. His assertions of the Big Three playing the major role in post-war Europe was right out of his general tendency to see the moral landscape starkly contrasting of right and wrong.

Mr. Childs finds the position not so problematic for the immediate future after the war, but in the long haul, the nations of the Middle East, Latin America, and India would want to assert their sovereign independence. At that point, Churchill's form of leadership would prove anachronistic.

Drew Pearson defends his column of October 11 in which he had asserted that Admiral Husband Kimmel had demanded a trial in his court martial proceeding. Both Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and the Admiral, himself, had denied the contention. Apparently, asserts Mr. Pearson, Admiral Kimmel had done so because of pressure from Navy friends and, likely, from the fact of his being on the board of a company engaged in war contracts with the Navy. In any event, the column's earlier report of the Admiral's request for the early court martial had now been confirmed.

He next turns to a confrontation between National Democratic Committee chair Robert Hannegan and Jim Farley, insisting that Mr. Farley support the President in the fall. Mr. Farley supposedly responded that he was concerned about the state of the world and was not prepared to assure support for FDR.

He concludes with his "Capital Chaff", including the rumor that big oil had arranged for county conventions in Texas to oppose FDR.

Among the items, he also mentions a Captain John Kennedy, who the Truman Committee had credited with being the best politician in the Navy, disappointing the Committee for his not being able to ferret out data on Wall Street friends of new Navy Secretary James Forrestal, friends alleged to have been employed by the Navy Department.

As John F. Kennedy while in service never rose above the rank of Lieutenant, the reference is to another John Kennedy, Captain John A. Kennedy, who worked in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, liaison between the military side of the Navy and the Executive and Legislative branches overseeing it. At this time in the war, the future Congressman, Senator, and President, having on May 29 celebrated his 27th birthday, one almost which wasn't, was enrolled in submarine chaser training school in Miami.

Seventeen years hence from the previous weekend, President Kennedy would engage with Premier Nikita Khrushchev, in Vienna, in a most important conference re the limitations of nuclear arms testing and the prospects for Berlin--a conference but for which, the world might have dissolved itself in nuclear conflagration during the thirteen critical days of October, 1962--that is, unless one is so limited in perception as to view the matter by abstraction rather than holistically as it occurred, together with its precedent and subsequent events, understanding its bilateral logic and interaction, the interpersonal reflections gleaned on each side from the meeting, as any human interaction face to face finally engenders between ultimately rational human beings.

Finally, Mr. Pearson tells of the end of daylight savings time by Congressional resolution appearing to loom as a certainty. Its demise only required a resolution pursuant to the original bill giving Congress the right so to end it, and thus would not be subject to presidential veto.

A letter writer complains of an omitted sentence from his previous letter to the editor of May 31, carping at an editorial on Thomas Dewey, titled "The Myth", appearing May 25, as being unfairly diminishing of the Governor's fiscal accomplishments, and wishes to include the clipped sentence. The sentence read: "When Governor Dewey changed the date back to where it should have been all the time, you accuse him of resorting to clever and dishonest propaganda." Just what idea the missing sentence conveyed which was not already in the gentleman's letter as originally printed, we cannot discern. But now it is, for all history, worthy of the Compleat Angler. Odds appear that the correspondent was going to vote for Governor Dewey.

The President's speech of this evening anent the fall of Rome, broadcast via radio, was as follows:

My Friends:

Yesterday, on June fourth, 1944, Rome fell to American and Allied troops. The first of the Axis capitals is now in our hands. One up and two to go!

It is perhaps significant that the first of these capitals to fall should have the longest history of all of them. The story of Rome goes back to the time of the foundations of our civilization. We can still see there monuments of the time when Rome and the Romans controlled the whole of the then known world. That, too, is significant, for the United Nations are determined that in the future no one city and no one race will be able to control the whole of the world.

In addition to the monuments of the older times, we also see in Rome the great symbol of Christianity, which has reached into almost every part of the world. There are other shrines and other churches in many places, but the churches and shrines of Rome are visible symbols of the faith and determination of the early saints and martyrs that Christianity should live and become universal. And tonight (now) it will be a source of deep satisfaction that the freedom of the Pope and the (of) Vatican City is assured by the armies of the United Nations. It is also significant that Rome has been liberated by the armed forces of many nations. The American and British armies--who bore the chief burdens of battle--found at their sides our own North American neighbors, the gallant Canadians. The fighting New Zealanders from the far South Pacific, the courageous French and the French Moroccans, the South Africans, the Poles and the East Indians--all of them fought with us on the bloody approaches to the city of Rome.

The Italians, too, forswearing a partnership in the Axis which they never desired, have sent their troops to join us in our battles against the German trespassers on their soil.

The prospect of the liberation of Rome meant enough to Hitler and his generals to induce them to fight desperately at great cost of men and materials and with great sacrifice to their crumbling Eastern line and to their Western front. No thanks are due to them if Rome was spared the devastation which the Germans wreaked on Naples and other Italian cities. The Allied Generals maneuvered so skillfully that the Nazis could only have stayed long enough to damage Rome at the risk of losing their armies.

But Rome is of course more than a military objective.

Ever since before the days of the Caesars, Rome has stood as a symbol of authority. Rome was the Republic. Rome was the Empire. Rome was and is in a sense the Catholic Church, and Rome was the capital of a United Italy. Later, unfortunately, a quarter of a century ago, Rome became the seat of Fascism--one of the three capitals of the Axis.

For this (a) quarter century the Italian people were enslaved. They were (and) degraded by the rule of Mussolini from Rome. They will mark its liberation with deep emotion. In the north of Italy, the people are still dominated and threatened by the Nazi overlords and their Fascist puppets. Somehow, in the back of my head, I still remember a name--Mussolini.

Our victory comes at an excellent time, while our Allied forces are poised for another strike at western Europe--and while the armies of other Nazi soldiers nervously await our assault. And in the meantime our gallant Russian Allies continue to make their power felt more and more.

From a strictly military standpoint, we had long ago accomplished certain of the main objectives of our Italian campaign--the control of the islands--the major islands--the control of the sea lanes of the Mediterranean to shorten our combat and supply lines, and the capture of the airports, such as the great airports of Foggia, south of Rome, from which we have struck telling blows on the continent--the whole of the continent all the way up to the Russian front.

It would be unwise to inflate in our own minds the military importance of the capture of Rome. We shall have to push through a long period of greater effort and fiercer fighting before we get into Germany itself. The Germans have retreated thousands of miles, all the way from the gates of Cairo, through Libya and Tunisia and Sicily and Southern Italy. They have suffered heavy losses, but not great enough yet to cause collapse.

Germany has not yet been driven to surrender. Germany has not yet been driven to the point where she will be unable to recommence world conquest a generation hence.

Therefore, the victory still lies some distance ahead. That distance will be covered in due time--have no fear of that. But it will be tough and it will be costly, as I have told you many, many times.

In Italy the people had lived so long under the corrupt rule of Mussolini that, in spite of the tinsel at the top--you have seen the pictures of him--their economic condition had grown steadily worse. Our troops have found starvation, malnutrition, disease, a deteriorating education and lowered public health--all by-products of the Fascist misrule.

The task of the Allies in occupation has been stupendous. We have had to start at the very bottom, assisting local governments to reform on democratic lines. We have had to give them bread to replace that which was stolen out of their mouths by the Germans. We have had to make it possible for the Italians to raise and use their own local crops. We have to help them cleanse their schools of Fascist trappings.

I think the American people as a whole approve the salvage of these human beings, who are only now learning to walk in a new atmosphere of freedom.

Some of us may let our thoughts run to the financial cost of it. Essentially it is what we can call a form of relief. And at the same time, we hope that this relief will be an investment for the future--an investment that will pay dividends by eliminating Fascism, by (and) ending any Italian desires to start another war of aggression in the future. And that means that they are dividends which justify such an investment, because they are additional supports for world peace.

The Italian people are capable of self-government. We do not lose sight of their virtues as a peace-loving nation.

We remember the many centuries in which the Italians were leaders in the arts and sciences, enriching the lives of all mankind.

We remember the great sons of the Italian people--Galileo and Marconi, Michelangelo and Dante--and incidentally that fearless discoverer who typifies the courage of Italy--Christopher Columbus.

Italy cannot grow in stature by seeking to build up a great militaristic empire. Italians have been overcrowded within their own territories, but they do not need to try to conquer the lands of other peoples in order to find the breath of life. Other peoples may not want to be conquered.

In the past, Italians have come by the millions into (to) the United States. They have been welcomed, they have prospered, they have become good citizens, community and governmental leaders. They are not Italian-Americans. They are Americans--Americans of Italian descent.

The Italians have gone in great numbers to the other Americas--Brazil and the Argentine, for example--hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them. They have gone (and) to many other nations in every continent of the world, giving of their industry and their talents, and achieving success and the comfort of good living, and good citizenship.

Italy should go on as a great mother nation, contributing to the culture and the progress and the goodwill of all mankind--(and) developing her special talents in the arts and crafts and sciences, and preserving her historic and cultural heritage for the benefit of all peoples.

We want and expect the help of the future Italy toward lasting peace. All the other nations opposed to Fascism and Nazism ought to (should) help to give Italy a chance.

The Germans, after years of domination in Rome, left the people in the Eternal City on the verge of starvation. We and the British will do and are doing everything we can to bring them relief. Anticipating the fall of Rome, we made preparations to ship food supplies to the city, but, of course, it should be borne in mind that the needs are so great, (and) the transportation requirements of our armies so heavy that improvement must be gradual. But we have already begun to save the lives of the men, women and children of Rome.

This, I think, is an example of the efficiency of your machinery of war. The magnificent ability and energy of the American people in growing the crops, building the merchant ships, in making and collecting the cargoes, in getting the supplies over thousands of miles of water, and thinking ahead to meet emergencies--all this spells, I think, an amazing efficiency on the part of our armed forces, all the various agencies working with them, and American industry and labor as a whole.

No great effort like this can be a hundred percent perfect, but the batting average is very, very high.

And so I extend the congratulations and thanks tonight of the American people to General Alexander, who has been in command of the whole Italian operation; to our General Clark and General Leese of the Fifth and the Eighth Armies; to General Wilson, the Supreme Allied commander of the Mediterranean theater, to (and) General Devers his American Deputy; to (Lieutenant) General Eaker; to Admirals Cunningham and Hewitt; and to all their brave officers and men.

May God bless them and watch over them and over all of our gallant, fighting men.

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