Thursday, July 27, 1944

The Charlotte News

Thursday, July 27, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Americans in Normandy had captured both Periers and Lessay as a tank offensive pushed the Germans back, one spearhead moving five miles from already captured Marigny to within five miles of Coutances, in the longest single day's drive since D-Day. Other tank and infantry forces cut the road from St. Lo to Avranches, capturing Le Mesni Herman, six miles south of St. Lo. Prisoners were being captured by the hundreds. Fighting was occurring generally along the entire 40-mile front with the Germans in considerable disarray as they retreated. Fighter planes had wrecked 70 Nazi tanks on Wednesday.

Lt. General Lesley McNair, in command of Army Ground Forces in Normandy until recently, had been killed in action in Normandy, making him the highest ranking officer killed thus far during the war. General McNair had been reputed as one of the brightest officers in the Army and was a primary advocate of anti-tank defenses. He had been wounded by shell fragments in Tunisia in April, 1943. When killed, he was observing the action along the front lines near St. Lo.

American planes attacked rail targets at Brussels and Ghent in Belgium, as well as targets south of Lyon in France.

The RAF attacked Hamburg and other German targets the night before.

The Russians proceeded across the Vistula River in Poland, as four different forces captured Bialystok, Stanislawow, Daugavpils, and Rezekne, the latter two cities being important rail junctions along the route to Riga in Latvia. It was the worst single day for the Germans since the offensive had begun.

Stanislawow was 35 miles from the Czech border, but the forces had moved even closer, to within twenty miles of the border by capturing Delaytin the previous night. Bialystok was 110 miles northeast of Warsaw. Other Russian forces were reported in Brest-Litovsk, 110 miles east of Warsaw.

Crossing the Vistula placed the Red Army within 140 miles of German Silesia, leaving no natural barrier remaining to be crossed.

In Italy, the Eighth Army, eight miles from Florence, continued to resist heavy German counter-attacks. In northern Pisa, the Germans were erecting barricades in preparation for battle with the Fifth Army in the southern part of the Leaning Tower city, on the other side of the Arno.

Up to 500 American bombers flying from Italy struck the Manfred Weiss Steel Works in Budapest. The raiders had accounted for 193 German planes being destroyed during the previous three days, including 78 the prior day.

On Tinian, the American forces had captured the northern fourth of the island, including its 4,500-foot Ushi airfield on the northwest tip. Ushi was rated the equivalent of Hickam Field on Oahu in Hawaii. The forces had sealed off the north quarter of the island by establishing a line from Asiga Point on the east coast to Faibus San Hilo Point on the west coast. In three days, the Marines had killed 1,958 Japanese soldiers.

On Guam, the Marines had moved 3,000 yards and were seeking to eliminate the Japanese on the Orote Peninsula, destroying 12 tanks and killing 400 of the enemy on Monday night in a Japanese attempt to break out of their trap on the key peninsula. The Japanese dead on the island in five days now totaled 2,800.

A report that Dr. Hjalmer Schact, Hitler's former Minister of Economics, had been shot by the Gestapo was erroneous. He had, however, been imprisoned as a suspect in the attempted assassination conspiracy of a week earlier.

The State Department issued a statement indicating that the United States would not recognize Argentina until it severed all ties with the Axis. It pointed out that since the Argentine had in February broken with the Axis and declared it would take steps to support the Allies, the government had been overthrown by pro-Nazi elements. Argentina's Foreign Minister, General Orlando Peluffo, denied that there were pro-Nazi elements in the new regime of President Edelmiro Farrell or that the government supported the Nazis.

On the editorial page, "The Library" indicates that the annual appropriation for the Charlotte Public Library had increased from $16,000 to $64,000 since 1933. Nevertheless, the previous year the American Library Association had ranked it the poorest library in the nation for a city with a population between 100,000 and 200,000. Yet, during the previous year, its circulation had substantially increased and its services were improving.

"Pessimist" finds George Bernard Shaw overly Cassandrian in his expression of opinion that permanent peace in the world after the war would be impossible to achieve and that fascism had too much of a foothold ever to be completely eradicated. He also believed that Germany had done nothing wrong in starting the war and should not be treated punitively at its conclusion.

The piece asserts that the octogenerian waxed overly cynical of the world in light of the lessons learned after World War I and concludes that he was out of step with the plethora of optimism to the contrary abounding in the Allied world.

"Air Parks" looks forward to the establishment of the promised 1,292 air parks with 2,000-foot runways for small private planes, to be built throughout the Southeast, including 159 for North Carolina, more than in any other Southern state. Those, along with the new municipal airports to be built, it predicts, would revolutionize air travel in the country.

"The Vets" reports that the CIO and AFL had voted to provide returning veterans seniority in jobs based on the time they had spent in the military. The move would help insure fair treatment of veterans in the job market. That type of cooperative impulse from labor, plus the efforts of the Government to provide G.I. benefits, would be the only way to insure prosperity generally in the country after the war, keeping ten million veterans off the public rolls and productively employed.

Dorothy Thompson, in follow-up to her piece begun Saturday on the partition of Germany following the war, addresses the several paradoxes associated with the proposed plans for partition. With East Prussia and parts of both Silesia and Pommerania to be provided Poland under the plan and the Germans in each severed territory returned to the Reich, there would be too great a population to be sustained by Germany without concomitant increase in its industrialization, to provide the basis for trade for agricultural product. For Germany had never had enough agrarian resources to sustain even its pre-war population. But with increased industrialization would come the threat which alarmed Europe after World War I, the possibility of German re-armament.

The proposed solution was to have German industry either socialized for the benefit of rebuilding Europe, overseen by the Allies, or run by international cartels from outside Germany. The latter proposal, however, meant state control of the economy for the benefit of a few wealthy industrialists, precisely that form of oligarchy which had characterized the economy under Nazism, and to which the rest of Europe was rebelling.

It would also be difficult to obtain cooperation with the Soviets in such an international capitalist cartel. Ms. Thompson concludes the piece by warning that it would not be wise thusly to antagonize the Russians if peace were to be maintained into the future.

She promises another installment on this critical issue of the time, and to be one for 45 years after the war, one which nearly became the flashpoint to ignite World War III and nuclear exchange during the early 1960's.

Samuel Grafton examines the attempted assassination of Hitler a week earlier, finding it not to be the epitome of altruism on the part of the Junker officers who plotted it. For, after all, he points out astutely, it took them five years since the war had begun and thousands of miles of retreat, right up to the doorstep of their own estates in East Prussia, finally to realize that the war was lost and that Hitler, with whom they had sided in 1933 and since, was no longer operating in their own self-interest.

Nevertheless, the plot did show a split in the military command structure, and that split was a necessary prelude to a revolution in Germany. The people could not have a revolt without the Junkers on their side. And now, it appeared, a substantial portion of the Junkers had turned. While a German revolution, even one germinating from the people, would not likely be for more than an end to the war, not for democracy, a movement from within had begun and would likely end in a revolution of one sort or another.

Drew Pearson discusses the Justice Department investigation into the manner in which had been spent twelve million dollars provided Poland for the purpose of bribing German officials and Gestapo agents in Poland to undermine the war effort. The money had been requisitioned by former Premier Sikorski, who had during the previous months died in an airplane crash. But then, once provided specifically on condition that it be spent in Poland for the designated purpose, the fifty and hundred dollar bills in which it was distributed started showing up in American banks. The Poles claimed that they needed to exchange the money for smaller denominations, that the Germans should not be given bribes to the extent of fifty or a hundred dollars per throw.

The Justice Deaprtment investigation showed, however, that money had come from somewhere to finance new propaganda disseminated in the U.S. by Polish organizations, urging Polish-Americans to support the government-in-exile against Russia's attempt to obtain control of border territories after the war. The propaganda also urged Polish-Americans to vote against Roosevelt in November.

Mr. Pearson next reports of the considerable esprit de corps present in the Russian Army, especially between officers and enlisted men. It was being attributed to the fact that the enlisted men were encouraged to write letters to their Army newspapers providing advice on what could be done to improve battle plans and reporting experiences in past battle.

Ironically, the open policy of criticism stood in stark contrast to the promotion of heavy censorship in the American Army, both of news from home and news to home via letters.

Marquis Childs reports that the consensus of opinion among the reporters covering the conventions in Chicago was that Governor Dewey had little chance to win against President Roosevelt. That collective opinion was reinforced by a recent Roper poll which had shown the President with greater support in the country than right after the conventions in 1940.

Nevertheless, Mr. Childs foresaw problems. The Republicans controlled 26 of the 48 state houses and in most, also had the secretaries of state who controlled the election machinery. That, plus the fact that many thousands of displaced war workers might not be able to vote in the election, ordinarily an overwhelming reservoir of support for FDR, could potentially sway the election.

Hal Boyle tells of the resourcefulness of American soldiers in Normandy, even those assigned to non-combat positions. A bulldozer operator, Private John Brewster of Trenton, N.J., seeing that a Nazi machinegun nest covered by hedgerows had American troops pinned down, raised the blade of his dozer and charged the hedgerow, knocking a gaping hole through it, causing it to fall on the three Nazis of the nest, burying them in their trench.

Dr. Herbert Spaugh reports of a Time piece regarding the notoriously dissolute city of San Francisco having made strides toward living down its past by establishing a Bible study group comprised of city employees and officials, primarily lawyers and politicians, which met each Thursday at 7:45 a.m.

At the time, incidentally, as he remarks, the mayor was Roger Lapham. Mayor Lapham was the grandfather of Lewis Lapham, longtime editor of Harper's, through 2006.

To demonstrate further continuity through time, the Time article elucidates that the group had its genesis from a discussion occurring between Dr. Frederick George Niemand and then San Francisco District Attorney Pat Brown, future California Attorney General and two-term Governor, and father of past and present Governor Jerry Brown, now serving in his third term. There you are: via a reference by a Charlotte and Winston-Salem minister on July 27, 1944 in The News, we move, in the blink of an eye, all the way to July 28, 2011, remaining the while au courant. It really isn't that far in the past, young one. You will realize that one day, especially should you live to be 175.

We recall, by the way, that during the drought in California of 1975-76, our first winter spent in the Bay Area of that State, at least since we had been there back during the earlier days of '49 and onward, there was a recommendation floated about by the water department, tending toward conservation of water, that a brick be placed within the tank of the closet. Some enterprising people decided then to go door to door selling bricks for the purpose. We, ourselves, decided that, since one brick would afford displacement, we had figured, of about 85 cubic inches, more should it be a firebrick, a dozen would come close to conserving perhaps 1,000 cubic inches, nearly twice the size of the motor in our car, the one they called "The Duster", per pull of the chain in the closet. So...

But, that did not work so well.

It proved of no consequence, however, when finally it started raining again, in the winter of 1977-78. We were no longer there in the State of California, but back in Pulpit Hill, where we belonged, learning all anent the law of the land.

Whether it was this parable of the brick to which the last verses of Romans 9, anent the stumblingstone and solid rock, might have been referring in prophetic foreshadowing, we leave to the reader for fuller exegesis and perpendment, re the rain.

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