Tuesday, February 6, 1945

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 6, 1945


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that suicidal Japanese troops had set ablaze the Escolta District of Manila on Monday night as firemen who sought to extinguish the inferno encountered difficulty for want of water pressure after the Japanese also blew up the water pumping stations.

The flames quickly spread northward toward one of the internment facilities, Bilibid Prison, from which 800 half-starved prisoners of war and 500 civilians, including women and children, had been freed the previous day. The prison was empty when the flames caught it. It had been used for torturing military prisoners to try to extract information. The other facility, Santo Tomas, which had housed 3,700 of the freed prisoners, was located on an island safe from the fire.

The Japanese guards at Bilibid had fled when the American liberators entered, leaving behind a sign reading, "Prisoners and war internees quartered here lawfully released." That exit was in contrast to the 65 guards who required and received safe transport from the Santo Tomas facility before they would give it up.

When one of the prisoners, Captain Theodore Winship, was suddenly interrupted, while eating his handful of corn and rice, by an American soldier, he inquired, "Hello, who are you?" When informed that the Americans had arrived to free the prisoners, Captain Winship again interrogated: "Where the hell have you been? We've been waiting three years for you."

The 37th Division soldier replied, "That's long enough."

At Santo Tomas, it was reported, the Japanese had systematically sought to starve the prisoners. They had brought in large trucks of food supplies in full view of the prisoners and then unloaded them for the exclusive consumption of the camp guards. Children who sought to huddle around the trucks to pick up dropped scraps of food were shooed away by the camp commandant.

The razed Escolta District was on the north shore of the Pasig River to which the Americans had penetrated, hopelessly trapping the Japanese garrison defending it. Prior to the enemy occupation in 1942, Escolta had contained such fine edifices as Heacock Department Store and Hamilton-Browns Co.

American artillery hit Santo Tomas and areas of south Manila through the night. The 11th Airborne Division, advancing 35 miles during the night, met stiff opposition around Nichols Field at the extreme south edge of the city, but with the First Cavalry and 37th Divisions crossing the Pasig from the north, the southern portion of the city was now being overrun, with Japanese fighting occurring house to house. The complete fall of Manila was now imminent as all means of escape were covered. Bataan was under American control. Only the island of Corregidor at the entrance to Manila Bay remained to serve the enemy as temporary refuge.

General MacArthur announced that over 5,000 prisoners, 4,000 Americans and a thousand Filipinos, had been liberated from the internment facilities of Manila.

"On to Tokyo!" exclaimed the General, was the new motto.

On the Western Front, the Second Indian Head Division and the Ninth Division of the American First Army penetrated further into the second belt of concrete fortifications of the Siegfried Line, to within 1,500 yards of Gemund and, after capturing Scheuten to the northwest, to within 900 yards of Schleiden, the last bastion towns on the Line. The Second Division reached the Olef River southwest of Schleiden and fought into Helienthal. To the north, the 78th Lightning Division crashed through the Siegfried Line to within 1,500 yards of Schmidt, north of the network of dams controlling the Roer River. Efforts by the 78th to bridge the Roer River near captured Paulushof had thus far been thwarted.

Supreme Allied Headquarters informed that, while the troops were moving through the last of the prepared fortifications on the Line, they could expect newly formed defense barriers behind the lines, as had been the case after the capture of Aachen during the fall.

The Third Army to the south had captured the village of Habscheid on the Siegfried Line, six miles southwest of Prum.

Some 2,150 American planes, 1,300 heavy bombers and 850 fighter escorts, hit Leipzig, Magdeburg, and Chemnitz, 35 miles from Dresden and 30 miles from the Slovak border, in one of the largest raids on Germany of the war. RAF Mosquitos the night before struck again at Berlin, reporting that time-delayed bombs dropped during the weekend raids by the American Fortresses were still exploding.

On the Eastern Front, German radio disclosed that the Russians had established three bridgeheads over the Oder River east of Berlin, two of which were southeast of Frankfurt, near Furstenberg, with another 35 miles northeast of Berlin, northwest of Kustrin. A late report from Moscow stated that the First Ukrainian Army had crossed the Oder southeast of Breslau in Silesia. Steinau, 32 miles northwest of Breslau and 110 miles southeast of Berlin, according to the Germans, had been captured.

Moscow radio stated that the first two weeks of the Russian winter offensive had cost the Germans half a million men.

The House Banking Committee approved the already Senate-passed George Bill, sponsored by Senator Walter George of Georgia, to divorce the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and its lending powers from the Department of Commerce, clearing the way for a floor vote where the bill was expected to pass, in turn allowing for the confirmation of Henry Wallace as Secretary of Commerce. Some Republicans and Southern Democrats, however, vowed to fight passage of the bill on the floor by seeking to engraft onto it amendments which would prevent signature by the President, ultimately with the intent to derail the Wallace confirmation. Other Southern Democrats were backing away from any such maneuvering.

Sir Walter Citrine, trade union leader of Britain, announced that Prime Minister Churchill was meeting with the President and Premier Stalin in a Big Three Conference, the first public confirmation from Allied quarters that the conference was taking place. There was no indication, of course, as to the location of the meeting.

The French Telegraph Agency reported that the conference was being held at Sochi, a Russian Black Sea port, twenty miles from the border of Georgia.

They were getting warmer.

On the editorial page, "Planners All" finds the plan put forth by the Charlotte Real Estate Board to eliminate slums and provide better city services to lower income areas, better streets and sidewalks, street lighting and recreation facilities, to be a positive and visionary step toward the future.

"The New Order" quotes from Tom Jimison's 1942 series of articles on Morganton, "Out of the Night of Morganton", based on his year-long voluntary commitment ending in May, 1941, indicating that inspections by state officials were routinely noticed in advance so that the facility could put on its best cosmetic face for the touring dignitaries, always kept away from the worst wards of the institution.

But four years later, comments the piece, the attitude of the administration of the State hospitals had completely changed, no longer residing in the fallacious misconception that to hide their worst sins was salutary, but rather coming to realize that having the slipshod vagaries made public was the only means for redressing the deficiencies with greater funding.

The visit by the legislators the previous week to Dix Hospital had enabled them to be exposed to both the worst and the best conditions extant within the facility.

The same was true of Morganton where a surprise visit by a legislative delegation had led the director of the facility to show them the whole of it, warts and all.

The piece reaffirms the State's great debt to Tom Jimison for creating the atmosphere of openness which had led to exposition of the problems and then treating the illness thus divined and diagnosed.

As we have indicated, Mr. Jimison would pass away in September, 1945.

"This Poll Tax" comments again, as in December, on the effort by the State of Georgia to end the poll tax in Georgia and that of two Southern anti-poll tax organizations petitioning Congress to use the Fourteenth Amendment to rule the tax illegal.

The last attempt at legislation to end the poll tax was the Force Bill of 1891, sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., an attempt which had failed.

Yet, there were serious disabilities impinging on the free exercise of the franchise in eighteen states outside the South, quite apart from the eight Southern states, including Georgia, which still had a poll tax. Those other states, including New York, made literacy a prerequisite for voting, denying the vote thereby to two million people. Twelve states denied the right to paupers. Almost all states imposed a requirement of a minimum length of residency before registration to vote was allowed.

If electoral delegations were reduced in size commensurate with the number of persons disenfranchised by the poll tax, as one plan sought as sanction to act as incentive to abandonment of the tax, then all states which imposed limitations on the right to vote ought be equally stripped of delegates accordingly.

The correlation between low turnout of voters, characteristic of the South, and the presence of a poll tax, however, was not entirely consistent. Texas and Tennessee, for instance, both poll tax states, had, in the previous election, 18.4 and 18.1 percent turnout rates of voters, respectively, compared to Louisiana, without a poll tax, with only 15.5 percent turnout.

Certain of Virginia's voting districts had superior turnout rates to some of North Carolina's districts, despite the former having a poll tax and the latter not having had one since 1920.

The piece concludes that it would not be the Fourteenth Amendment which would finally eradicate the poll tax, but the states themselves through their officials.

Despite the exhortations to act in goodwill, it would not quite work out that way, as it would require the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, proposed in 1962 and ratified in 1964, finally to abolish the insidious poll tax, still then extant in five Southern states, Texas, Arkansas, Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record finds Senator Clyde Reed of Kansas, a Republican, inquiring of the Majority Leader, Alben Barkley, as to why the Senator from Kentucky bore a patch over his left eye. Senator Reed expressed hope that it did not convey the evidentiary consequence of some unruly behavior raucous having occurred within the chamber accommodating the Democratic caucus, to which the minority members of the body had not been privy.

Senator Barkley responded that he would oblige his colleague in explanation for the appearance which made him look more as Dead Eye Dick than a Senator, that he had sought treatment in December for an ulcer on his eye and thought it had healed, only to have it again become ulcerated and require his hospitalization briefly to tend to the condition, that the doctor had then recommended the patch to protect it from further disturbance from the callous indifference of the vicissitudes of environmental hazards regularly prevailing, with the potentiality of untoward impact upon his ocular receptivity, within the common realm of occurrence daily.

Senator Reed expressed his profound and heartfelt sympathy at the fortuity thus occasioned by the transitory malady befalling the Senator, trusting it not a condition persistent in perpetuity, nor one for which remedy was any the less of necessitous superfluity.

Drew Pearson addresses an open letter to his old friend, former North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner of Shelby, anent their conversation the previous week regarding Henry Wallace and his political ineptitude.

Mr. Pearson then proceeds to explain his thoughts that former Vice-Presidents John Nance Garner or Charles Curtis would have been confirmed for the dual roles of Secretary of Commerce and RFC chairman regardless of their lack of business experience or their political views. The difference, opines Mr. Pearson, was that Mr. Wallace lacked the skill or determination to engage in the politics of smoke-filled rooms. Mr. Wallace, in four years as Vice-President, had hardly made, says Mr. Pearson, more than six close friends in Washington.

Yet, he quickly adds, Mr. Wallace had gained a large following in the country, impressed by his integrity; and so, perhaps, he was, in the broader sense, a very shrewd politician. In that regard, he resembled President Wilson. President Wilson, despite his integrity, lost the battle over the League of Nations, leading inevitably to World War II.

Mr. Pearson feared that the same sort of result would derive from the fight over confirmation of Mr. Wallace, leading to a different sort of war, one of economics. Because Mr. Wallace stood for something with the people, in practical terms in this fight, the 60 million jobs promised by FDR in the campaign, the fight over his confirmation could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many in the country. His opposition by wealthy Senators, Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, Robert Taft of Ohio, Josiah Bailey of North Carolina, and Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, was not conducive to positive public feeling.

Were the opposition smart, they would allow Mr. Wallace to bear the brunt of difficulties faced in the post-war readjustment period of the economy. Should he fail, repercussions would not be so severe as denying him the purse strings by which to effect the transition, placing the onus in that event on the Senators' own shoulders.

Mr. Pearson concludes by telling former Governor Gardner that he only wished that some of the members of the Senate had the Governor's breadth of understanding of the problems and desire to inquire into them.

As we have pointed out previously, Governor and Senator Clyde Hoey's residence in Shelby shared a bordering backyard, just across the tomato and okra patch and peach orchard of Nannie and John W. Cash, the house to which the Cashes moved on Sumter Street in 1942 following Cash's death. Somehow, we can picture it all.

We did not realize until this night that W. J. Cash, from the time of his youth, after 1911, had been a frequent visitor to Webbley, the home of Governor Gardner, brother-in-law to Senator Hoey. One learns something new everyday.

Dorothy Thompson, commencing her piece with lines from "Lepanto" by G. K. Chesterton, followed by the commendation of the rescuers by General MacArthur, applauds the rescue of the 486 prisoners from an internment camp on eastern Luzon the previous week.

She likely wrote the piece before the weekend liberation of some 5,000 prisoners in Manila internment camps.

"War is a paradoxical intensification of hate and love," she writes. "And the greater of these is love. It is the creative instincts of protection and preservation, love of home, loyalty to comrades, chivalry, that makes the great fighter."

She finds the meaning for the war in this heroic rescue of those left behind at the fall of Bataan and Corregidor three years earlier.

One man had died of exultation at the joy of being rescued, his starving frame unable to withstand the excitement. "But how seldom in this world does a man die in an ecstasy of liberation!"

One man could not speak until he had eaten three hamburgers. Ms. Thompson concludes that he needed to reaffirm the reality of the moment by tasting real American food again.

The rescuers, she predicts, while, like all soldiers, seeking to forget the war and thus becoming reticent about it, would likely tell their grandchildren of this singular moment of glory, that "I was once a savior."

The trick, of course, is to obtain that sort of feeling apart from warfare, in peacetime. Thus was the goal of the Peace Corps and other such laudable programs of American life which used to put personal satisfaction in helping others less fortunate above concerns re the pocketbook.

Today's younger generation of educated men and women, especially professionals, needs badly to have that notion driven home to them. From what we see, perhaps because this generation never faced a divisive time such as the 1960's or the prospect of a draft into uniform, the great bulk of them, though by no means all, appear much more engaged in rat racing, stealing other people's homes, for instance, than working to improve the conditions of the less fortunate in society, even laughing and scoffing at the notion because that's not "earnin' a livin'".

G. K. Chesterton also described "The Ignorance of the Educated", in a speech at the Times Square Theater in New York at some dateless point in 1920, among other places. (We owe the recollection of the notion, incidentally, to the late Professor Albert Coates of the University of North Carolina Law School, from an article he penned, circa 1977.)

Marquis Childs discusses the hopes and fears of failure extant in London regarding the Big Three Conference at Yalta. But, he cautions, while there had been plenty of groundwork laid for this conference such that the three heads of state could presumably reach some concord as to disposition of Germany and Eastern Europe in a short time, the bringing together of the heads of state in this manner, with all the attendant risks and need for security, was too daunting a task to be repeated often. Quarterly meetings of the foreign ministers of the Big Three, however, could be accomplished with relative ease, alternating the sites of the meetings between Moscow, Washington, and London. Such meetings, suggests Mr. Childs, might alleviate tensions accumulating in the future between the Allies.

Samuel Grafton suggests that the facts that the West adhered to capitalism while Russia chose socialism could have profound impact on the nature of the peace. He cites the example that Russia would likely want labor battalions from Germany to aid in repairing damage occasioned by the war, whereas the West would not be desirous of such a system, smacking of state socialism. Russia would also want large quantities of German-manufactured goods which the U.S. could not accept without damaging the economy of private interests within the country. One of the primary reasons for failure of reparations after World War I had been the inability of the United States to accept payments from Germany in kind.

But Russia might prove to be the functional equivalent of Germany's Works Progress Administration, similar to that program within the New Deal, enabling employment of Germans after the war, making Russia of crucial importance to the German economy.

One of those Russian WPA projects in 1961, incidentally, would be the Berlin Wall—which, when you think about it awhile, in terms of little former Nazis being walled in and forced to build their own prison wall, might not have been completely such a bad idea as it was cast in the West at the time by those with too short memories because the West had not lost upwards of ten to twenty million of its population or had any of its major cities leveled, as had Russia during the Nazi offensive onslaught and razing in retreat of 1941-43.

In any event, Mr. Grafton suggests that, however strange it might be, the differences in economic systems could work in the post-war world in complementary fashion to ease ideological tensions between East and West. Russia cared little for competition in transportation, by water or air, whereas the West invested much stock in it.

Unfortunately, such creatures as the House Un-American Activities Committee, just made permanent by the incoming 79th Congress of 1945, would see to it otherwise, for the political viability of a then nearly moribund Republican Party, combining with the conservative-reactionary wing of the Democratic Party out of the South, the latter always determinedly headstrong to equate Communism with unionism and racial integration, attempting to join all the favorite bogeys in one package for easy consumption by those without much swiftness in the head department. They would so misbehave in the opening salvos of the Cold War as to stimulate the arms race, making competition by "air transportation" embrace an alternative and unfortunately altogether fatalistic meaning.

A letter writer inquires as to who might be blamed for the deplorable conditions of the State mental hospital system and suggests it might be past Governors whom The News was loathe to blame. Citing the series on Morganton by Tom Jimison from early 1942, the editors responded that it was not to be laid at the doorstep of any one person or the past Governors but rather resulted from years of neglect and lack of a central authority over all four of the State mental hospitals. A Board of Control had been created, but the State was still looking for a qualified superintendent.

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