Tuesday, August 1, 1944

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 1, 1944


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that American soldiers and tanks captured Avranches and moved southeast into Brittany, breaking out of Normandy for the first time since D-Day, seizing two key dams across the Selune River and moving to within five miles of Vire, advancing 4.5 and six miles, respectively, to Pontaubault and Ducey. The troops also captured Brecey on the See River, nine miles east of Avranches, and Le Beny Bocage, strongly held German hill.

Behind the column moving through Avranches, another column moved south to Villedieu and Percy.

German prisoners captured during the previous eight days rose to 18,587.

The Germans had launched a three-division counter-attack, temporarily taking Tessy-sur-Vire. Late reports, however, indicated that the Germans had been forced to retreat from Tessy.

Speculation was that the drive would seek to cut off the Brest Peninsula in Brittany before turning to advance toward Paris.

On the eastern side of the front, the British enlarged to half a mile the width of their bridgehead across the Souleuvre River. The British and Canadians also made further gains east of Caumont. The entire German front was crumbling and enemy soldiers were surrendering in droves.

The French underground had been reported as busy, having engaged in a 56-hour battle at Vercors in southwest France, as well as successful defenses of Dordogne, the Haute Vienne, Indre, and Loir-et-Cher.

As many as 1,700 American planes attacked German airfields southwest of Paris at Chateaudin and Orleans-Bricy, as well as at Melun, southeast of the capital.

The RAF had attacked a suspected German headquarters at Le Beny Bocages, and Aunay the previous day. RAF bombers also struck robot bomb installations along the northern coast of France.

More V-1's had struck southern England the previous night and into the day.

The Russians confirmed that Soviet and Polish troops of the First White Russian Army, commanded by General Konstantin Rokossovsky, were making a concerted push into the outskirts of Warsaw in the suburb of Praga, just across the Vistula River from the capital. The Germans were setting fires in Warsaw anticipating its evacuation. The German High Command reported that the Russians had bridged the Vistula at the bend southeast of the city. The remaining 25,000 civilians, primarily German, who had been in Warsaw were said to have already evacuated the city.

Kaunas in Lithuania had been taken by the Red Army, while other forces led by General Ivan Cherniakhovsky had moved to within 11.8 miles of the East Prussian frontier, 48 miles east of Tilset, 75 miles from Memel, and 105 miles from the East Prussian capital at Konigsberg. Still other forces continued their drive toward Riga in Latvia from a position 21 miles distant.

In anticipation of the announcement by Turkey on Wednesday of its break finally with Germany and alignment with the Allies, abandoning its previous neutral status in the war, German nationals in Istanbul had crowded the trains headed for Ankara, apparently there to seek internment, a condition deemed more favorable than returning to Germany or to the Balkans.

On Guam, American soldiers and Marines were moving rapidly across the southern part of the island, having captured the capital at Agana.

On Tinian, the American forces had cornered the Japanese in a small pocket on the southern end of the island leaving them no avenue of escape.

The worst of the fighting was said by a spokesman for Admiral Nimitz to be complete on both islands.

The front page carries a photograph taken minutes after the initial landing on Guam on July 21, showing the planting of the American flag for the first time on soil taken by the Japanese in the wake of Pearl Harbor. This photograph, until supplanted by the more famous photograph of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, was a popular symbol for Americans.

President Roosevelt recommended to the Senate the promotion to the rank of four-star general of Lt. General Joseph Stilwell, commander of the American and Chinese infantry forces fighting in the Burma-India theater.

Major General Nathan F. Twining, commander of the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy, addressing his men on the 37th anniversary of the founding of the Army Air Force, warned them that the Germans must not be allowed to recover from the relentless pounding delivered them during the previous several months, that they were desperate and could muster hidden strength from that desperation if allowed any opportunity to recover.

Governor Dewey lashed out at Gerald L. K. Smith, extremist head of America First, for allegedly smearing the Republican vice-presidential running mate, Governor Bricker of Ohio, by drafting involuntarily Governor Bricker as his own running mate on the America First ticket. "Gerald Smith is one of those rabble rousers who, like Adolf Hitler, makes racial prejudices his stock in trade," said an infuriated Governor Dewey. Governor Bricker had rebuffed the nomination as being without his consent or knowledge.

On the editorial page, "Rep. Fish" sets forth the past isolationist voting record of Congressman Ham Fish of New York. The piece suggests that this fact, together with his recent remark regarding Jews voting too exclusively for Roosevelt and the New Deal, might finally catch him, with his spare 4,000-vote 1942 majority over the same opponent he would face in 1944, Augustus Bennet, a Newburgh lawyer. Mr. Bennet, a liberal Republican, would indeed defeat the 24-year Congressman, this time by 5,000 votes.

"Avenger" discusses the poetic justice in the fact that a Jew, General Ivan Cherniakhovsky, 37, had been the first commanding general to penetrate German territory, into East Prussia, doing so with his highly mobile First White Russian Army, the spearhead of the current summer offensive, engaged in steady pursuit of the Germans since its beginning, June 22. As a young, daring general, he was an able successor to General Nikolai Vatutin who had died April 15 at age 42, having suffered wounds from an ambush during the Ukrainian drive on February 28.

"A 'Liberal'" analyzes the voting record of Senator Truman, finding that with his votes in favor of the World Court, the Wagner Act, tenant farm purchase loans, the "death sentence" for utility holding companies, the wage-hour bill, the repeal of the arms embargo, the draft act, Lend-Lease, price control, and against revelation of tax return information, the sustaining of the bonus payment veto, suspension of poll taxes for men in service, the $25,000 salary limit, the anti-strike bill, the McKellar TVA amendments, the state soldier-vote bill, and the anti-subsidy bill, he was tending toward being something of the liberal which Vice-President Wallace was deemed by his opposition. He had stayed close to the New Deal in voting but had voted to oppose four important FDR vetoes and had challenged the Administration on several other points, as exemplified by some of his above-stated votes.

The piece concludes that he was of enough independence not to be dangerous or fearful of expression.

"The Shortage" looks at the insufficient manpower in the Southern cotton industry, with a turnover rate from 100 to 300 percent. This rate was indicative of wages and working conditions which were not as attractive as other jobs available during the war. The cotton industry had turned out enormous product for the military and had garnered praise from the War Production Board, but needed to improve working conditions and wages to be competitive and attract adequate personnel.

Drew Pearson comments on the heavy recruitment of veterans by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, far ahead in recruitment of the competing American Legion. Before the war, the Legion had over a million members and the VFW only about 250,000. But, since the VFW could recruit members while they were still in the service and the Legion could not, and because the VFW had a widely read periodical disseminated among the men, it had obtained the lion's share of memberships from returning veterans, counting some 400,000 new members, and actively seeking the labor union members of the armed forces, numbering about two million.

He next turns to General Breton Somervell, planner of the Pentagon Building opened in 1942, and his brag that no one needed maps to get around in its labyrinth, that only a fool could get lost. Then, one day, he had to duck inside an office to find out how to make his way to his own. Result was that maps were now being distributed to all Pentagon employees.

Finally, Mr. Pearson reports of strained relations between new Navy Secretary James Forrestal and Navy Chief of Operations, Admiral Ernest King, every bit as acrimonious apparently as the relationship had been between Admiral King and deceased Secretary Frank Knox. Evidence of the chafing came out in a press conference with Admiral King, Secretary Forrestal, and Admiral William Halsey. When a journalist inquired as to the impact of the fall of Tojo and his Cabinet, Secretary Forrestal declined comment on the basis that all Navy personnel, which he said included him, were under instructions not to comment on political matters.

Admiral King then immediately responded to the question, saying that the shakeup obviously suggested that the military leadership in Japan was dissatisfied with the course of the war. Secretary Forrestal did not comment. Admiral King's remark had been interprted as a face-reddening slap to Secretary Forrestal.

Samuel Grafton analyzes the analysts who were predicting that the Democratic Party, of its own inertia, would sooner or later fly apart from centrifugal force because the CIO could not be within the same gravitational sphere as the cotton planters of the South. Mr. Grafton asserts instead his belief in centripetal force, that if the Democratic Party could not unify its most diverse elements, then neither could the country, and that prospect appeared unlikely. Instead, he saw the country coming together at a common place.

By 1968, Labor and the South would be in part locking arms against desegregation efforts, unified under the banner of Alabama Governor George Wallace to fight busing, true of both Northern industrial cities and the South. The blue collar worker would join the redneck to form a coalition which would cause more disruption to society, in contraposition to the youth movement coalescing around the protest of the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement, the latter having entered a more militant phase of its existence after the achievement of landmark civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. Re-enter to the fray then Richard Nixon to take advantage of the perceived chaos in the streets to run on a platform of restoration of law and order and peace in Vietnam through a "secret plan" which would take exactly four years to achieve, the while doing some plumbing.

But, sure enough, by 1972, after the plumbing, the Democrats would be splintered to the four winds, their coalitions built during the New Deal and maintained afterward until 1968, in shreds, the resulting spoils grabbed up by Mr. Nixon, the culmination of his career, built on dividing and conquering.

Marquis Childs discusses the upcoming Dumbarton Oaks Conference to take place in Washington between representatives of the Big Four nations, not, as previously speculated, the leaders. The American representative would be Undersecretary of State Edward Stettinius, by year's end to become Secretary, working in close consultation with Cordell Hull. The British representative would be Sir Alexander Cadogan, a member of the Foreign Office and friend to Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden. The Russian representative, says Mr. Childs, would probably be former Ambassador to the United States Maxim Litvinoff. The Chinese representative had not yet been selected but likely would be H. H. Kung, the husband of one of the Soong sisters, of whom Madame Chiang was one.

The conference was to be held in secrecy, but Mr. Childs speculates that, given the participants, it would be setting the framework for the post-war world.

Held between August 21 and October 7, the Russian representative would actually be Soviet Ambassador Andrei Gromyko. The thrust of the effort would be to work out details for establishment of the United Nations organization, with particular emphasis on the creation of the Security Council, its membership, the voting majority to determine a given issue, and the use of the unilateral veto power by the permanent members of the Security Council. The result was a muddled situation with no firm agreements at the adjournment of the conference.

Primary stumbling blocks to agreement were the majority rule, whether to be a simple majority or a two-thirds majority of the eleven-member Security Council, and the use of the veto power by the permanent members. The Soviets favored the veto for all permanent members, proposed to be five countries, the Big Four plus France. The Americans determined after the conference to oppose the veto; the British determined afterward to agree with it. The Americans also decided to favor a seven-member majority rule on the Security Council for settlement of procedural questions, a compromise between simple majority and two-thirds, requiring six or eight members, and a five-member unanimity rule for the permanent members on all other issues, including use of force, i.e., the veto rule.

Dorothy Thompson recaps the July 20 attempt on Hitler's life, providing the facts released from Berlin, precisely as they have been handed down to us by the Nazis since the day it happened. The official story was that Colonel Claus (not Clint, as the report had apparently yclept him) von Stauffenberg had plotted with others to leave a bomb in a briefcase inside the conference room at the still unidentified locale in East Prussia, the Wolf's Lair near Rastenburg, that he did so prior to noon, later officially declared to be at around 12:40 p.m., then departed the location and flew to Berlin unmolested, went to the War Ministry, where he met with a general and two colonel-generals, and, after consulting on Hitler's presumed death, phoned Major Emil Remer of the Berlin Guard Battalion, ordering him to occupy government offices in the Wilhelmstrasse.

Major Remer then proceeded to Wilhelmstrasse, but first reported to Herr Doktor Goebbels, who then put the Major in communication with Hitler who ordered him to arrest and shoot the rebels. The arrest was promptly effected at the War Ministry without firing a shot. The members of the coup were then executed in the courtyard—where a monument to them to this day stands with their names upon it.

Ms. Thompson finds the miracle pronounced by Goebbels, that the Fuehrer had been saved, instead to be this preposterous rendition of the plot. It followed, she explains, precisely the outline of the tale told in the wake of the Reichstag fire used as a trumped excuse for the June, 1934 purge of the Officers' Corps, then with the Dutch Communist Marinus Van der Lubbe playing scapegoat.

The holes in the story which she perceives were first that Colonel von Stauffenberg could, without being searched, enter a conference room with Hitler and then depart, leaving behind an article, the briefcase, which he had carried into the room.

The official account contends that at 12:30, von Stauffenberg left the conference room with his briefcase and entered a nearby washroom where he set up a ten-minute delayed time-fuse, returned to the room, set the briefcase under the table, then received a pre-arranged phone call outside the room. After taking the phone call, he departed in his staff car for the airfield from which he flew to Berlin.

Ms. Thompson, however, finds inconceivable that he could have escaped the compound and flown to Berlin and entered the War Ministry without being arrested in the process. Even less likely was that he then was able to sit and talk with the three generals about the plot and phone Major Remer, still without discovery that he was the person missing from the meeting with Hitler after the explosion, all reportedly taking place during a four-hour interval.

Of course, it must be taken into account that there would have been a period of considerable disruption and confusion following a destructive blast.

But Ms. Thompson finds it absurd to think that, with other seriously injured or killed persons within the immediate vicinity of Hitler, including his double, Heinrich Bergner, first reported as one of the accomplices, Hitler would not have been at very least seriously injured.

She also finds it improbable that Major Remer, head of one of the most reliable Nazi troop organizations in Berlin, would, solely on the word of these generals, proceed to Wilhelmstrasse to commandeer government buildings. Nor did it make sense that Colonel von Stauffenberg and the three generals did not accompany Major Remer on his mission once undertaken. Nor did it make sense that they sat without protection in the War Ministry and failed to fire a shot when the Major returned to arrest them.

Her conclusion is that the entire "plot" was a fabrication undertaken by the Nazis to test what would occur in the case of a Wehrmacht plot to take over the government. Thus, the Nazi inner circle fabricated an explosion, told the "co-conspirators" at the War Ministry that Hitler had been killed, and then waited to see what they would do. When they then ordered Major Remer to take over the government, he was ordered by Hitler to arrest and shoot them. It was simply a pretext, she asserts, to enable another purge of the Officers' Corps of which Hitler, since he came to power, had maintained continuing suspicion.

She thinks that the Nazis perhaps missed their opportunity, that the miracle might have been more astounding to the naive had Goebbels first announced Hitler's death, then waited three days and declared that he had arisen.

She promises another installment on this intriguing argument which confounds the official story and renders, if true, the very fine film "Valkyrie", released in 2008, a complete fiction.

Perhaps, a second film therefore is in order which explores the alternative version of the event, indeed, one which strikes us as being far more cohesive and plausible than the official story, no matter how expertly presented the official version was. It still hath the ring of Nazi fiction.

What is the evidence of the official account beyond that presented by Herr Doktor Goebbels and other Nazis? The answer is not one shred.

The Big Liar might respond: Well, what is the evidence for the theory of fabrication beyond the merest conjecture?

The response is that the Nazis were the ones advancing the theory and thus have the burden of proof, difficult when a society is expressly formulated on the concept of the Big Lie, the promotion of false propaganda. No one who fought for it, no matter their pretense of serving German tradition, deserves an excuse. They understood wholly and precisely that for which Hitler stood long before the first shots were fired on Poland. They all fought for one concept, the advancement of German Aryan superiority over the world, the ultimate credo of Nazism. Give one of them a break, apologize for one of their number, find any shred of humanity in one of their number, and you must wind up excusing all of them as being deluded, an outrage to humanity.

That monument in the courtyard at Bendlerblock in Berlin might need a slight amendment: "Possibly, but implausibly."

Sorry, there might not have been any actual heroes among the Nazis. If one was a relative, tough.

We have a relative who was a Confederate, albeit conscripted at age 54. We do not, however, seek to apologize for him. Get over it.

Hal Boyle reports of the rumor which had circulated regularly on Normandy that former heavyweight contender Max Schmeling had been among German paratroops killed. One of the gravediggers charged with burying the 160 German paratroops whose bodies had been lying in the open in No Man's Land for two or three days escorted journalists on a tour of the corpses to determine whether among them was the boxer who had beaten Joe Louis in 1936 before suffering a technical knockout to him in 1938. He wasn't. The German prisoners reported that when last seen, he had been boxing in Paris.

Herr Schmeling lived to be 99 and died in 2005.

And, reports a news piece on the page, in Greenwood, Miss., the mule derby was commencing. The mules, named variously Army Worm, Boll Wevil, Jack Rabbit, and Minnow Jim, were preparing to compete in a race before 4,500 spectators with jockeys aboard from among the plantation cotton pickers.

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