Thursday, March 8, 1945

The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 8, 1945


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, beginning at 4:30 p.m. the previous afternoon, already in darkness, and continuing through the night, the First Army had crossed the Rhine at a point a quarter mile in width south of Cologne and secured a position on the east bank, the precise point of crossing still being shrouded in secrecy. There was little artillery or mortar fire on the beachhead from the enemy during the first day of operations.

The crossing had been effected at the Bridge at Remagen, under an operation codenamed "Lumberjack".

The crossing had caught the Germans by surprise before they had any chance to resist, and had likewise caught other divisions of the Allies by surprise. The news was greeted with the prospect of a much earlier end to the war than previously thought possible.

The First Army had also captured half of Bonn (not "Benn", as first printed, despite the clever dovetailing with that underlying "Beethoven" of yesterday—our not having read of "Benn" beforehand, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, or having seen the movie either). Benn, in any event, was still the birthplace of Boothoven.

Also, half of Bad Godesberg, nearby, had been captured. Better Godesberg was yet to be overrun. Bad Godesburg was three miles up the Rhine from the birthplace of Beethoven, but only when he got badder, or, as we prefer, in the more apropos idiomatic phraseology reflexive-deterministic, more batter bad.

As a momentary aside, we should indicate that the first work for orchestra of l'enfant terrible, as the locals called young Ludwig, though never published, little known outside the world of apiary philology, or among apiophiles as we like to call ourselves, was nevertheless a prime example of neo-classical aviarian structure forecasting the coming inception of the Romantic era in music, yet in need of time to breathe before public consumption could catch it. It was called the "Crying Symphony in A-flat major, in sixteen movements, occurring at regular intervals." Lasting 18 hours, it proved too much for audiences to take, even in 1771, when, with ample intermezzos, sixteen hours was the extent of listening pleasure which any audience of that era was willing to endure, even when interspersed by light motifs with a country & western flavor, such as "Bettcha Never Heard of Billy the Fraulein, Kid", written and especially well sung by Johann Caschelheim and his accompanists, the Gladbach Three. Moreover, "The Crying Symphony" was simply too dissonant to be palatable to the refined audiences of the time, accustomed to more melodic and harmonious displays of musical wit, wisdom, and chrysanthemum.

The First Army of General Courtney Hodges was but 17 miles from blending with General Patton's Third Army nearing Coblenz to form a trap for as many as 50,000 Germans caught west of the middle Rhine.

Some 1,350 American bombers, escorted by 350 fighters, attacked seven oil plants in the areas of Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund, and five rail yards at Essen, Siegen, Betsdorf, Dillenburg, and Giessen.

The RAF had attacked Dessau the night before with a force of 1,250 bombers, dropping approximately 2,000 tons of bombs. The raid lost 29 bombers and one fighter.

A map on the inside page and accompanying story explain of the upcoming campaign to take the Ruhr in Germany.

On the Eastern Front, the Russians had moved to within 25 miles east of Berlin, outflanking Kuestrin and reaching Seelow, 12 miles west of the Oder River, beginning their final drive on the capital, in conjunction obviously with the American drive from the West. Seelow was on the primary railway connecting Stettin to the north and Frankfurt to the south of Berlin. Heavy attacks also were occurring at Niederwutzen, four miles southwest of Zehden. Two penetrations of the defenses of Kuestrin had been accomplished, according to German sources. Fighting was heavy along a 125-mile front from Stettin Bay to Crussen.

The Russians announced the capture the previous day of Gollnow, Ctepenitz, and Massow, within less than 20 miles east and northeast of Stettin, as well reporting of a victory near Schivelbein in Pomerania where 7,000 German troops were destroyed as they sought to escape westward.

The Second White Russian Army had taken Starograd, 25 miles south of Danzig, and Mewe, 35 miles distant.

On Iwo Jima, the Marines had constricted the remaining Japanese into a narrow crescent at the northern tip of the island, following a day of artillery bombardment of the enemy positions. The enemy withdrew into caves after unsuccessfully launching three counter-attacks, one of which was described as a suicidal charge, as the troops mounted explosives to the ends of long poles, aimed at the Third Division Marines. The attack was completely wiped out as the Marines did not take the bait at the time.

In the effort to split the enemy position, the Fifth Division advanced 500 yards on the left flank, while the Third advanced an equivalent distance. The Third captured the remaining center of enemy resistance on the right flank, Hill 362, east of Motoyama town. The Fourth Division advanced a hundred to two hundred yards on the east below the Third Division sector. Continuing advance was expected to be slow because of the need to clear out every cave and pillbox into which the enemy was dug.

Another inside page contains two photographs from Iwo Jima.

On Luzon, troops of the Eleventh Airborne Division and 158th Infantry Regiment moved to the southern coast of the island for the first time, capturing Balayan and Calatagan at Balayan Bay, in Batangas Province, encountering only light resistance. Batangas is located on the Verde Island passage between Luzon and American-held Mindoro Island, about 50 miles south of Manila.

In the heaviest raid yet of the Pacific war, 900 tons of bombs were dropped in the heavily contested area east of Manila, the Marikina watershed.

Also on the inside page is a report of a Southern Railway employee in Charlotte who was providing the service of transcribing messages from prisoners-of-war being nightly broadcast by the Germans, and then forwarding those messages on to next of kin.

A story from China relates of a court martial of an unnamed lieutenant colonel of the 14th Air Force who was acquitted of a charge of voluntary manslaughter based on his having fired two shots into the head of a sergeant gunner in a B-25 bomber which had crash landed and was on fire, with the sergeant pinned underneath a portion of the wreckage. Several minutes of attempts to extricate the sergeant while the plane burned were unsuccessful and the effort finally abandoned, at which point the colonel killed the sergeant to put him out of his misery, with no hope of rescue.

The primary defense had not been mercy-killing, however, but that medical experts could not agree that cause of death was not from the fire rather than the bullets. Also, the extent of provocation for the act, that the airman was in agony, against the backdrop of extreme stress of the colonel, also likely figured in the verdict.

Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of a person while under provocation and with insufficient cooling time from the act provoking the assault which results in death. Thus, technically, not to be convicted on a charge of voluntary manslaughter would mean that the homicide was deemed justifiable or unavoidable under the particular circumstances or was undertaken in self-defense or defense of others, the latter obviously not implied under these facts.

In all likelihood, the verdict, or failure of a two-thirds majority of the military tribunal to agree, was the result of the determination that there was insufficient certainty of cause of death from the gunshots to warrant a finding beyond a reasonable doubt. For the level of provocation typically is relative only to the extent of time reasonably necessary for cooling off, not whether, under the law, the defendant is subject necessarily to acquittal.

In London, an American paratrooper was hanged for the robbery and murder of a London cab driver while a woman, an opponent of the death penalty, sought to crash through the prison courtyard gates with a garbage truck, in an apparent attempt to halt the execution. A reprieve had been granted to the co-defendant in the case, a British teenaged striptease dancer, after Home Secretary Herbert Morrison had recommended commutation of the sentence to life imprisonment. The two had been convicted at the Old Bailey of the October 6 murder-robbery of "the man with the cleft chin", and sentenced December 23.

The gate-crasher was heard to say, "You let the girl off, but hang the man. It's a damned shame!"

Whether she meant literally that she wished the stripper, too, to be hanged, was less than clear.

On the editorial page, "Ol' 42" remarks on the piece on the page anent low wages in North Carolina relative to other states of the nation. One theory had it that low wages attracted industry to the state and thus were beneficial. But North Carolina's wages were not even average for the South. The other theory was that higher wages helped boost the economy generally by placing money in the pockets of consumers with which to purchase goods and services.

The cold fact, concludes the piece, was that, while some modification might be necessary of each theory, North Carolina could not enrich itself by importing goods at high prices made with highly paid labor while only exporting goods at lower prices made at low wages. The balance of trade inevitably would always run against the state under those conditions.

"Along the Ohio", by way of discussing flood control, comments on the flooding of the Ohio River, causing the evacuations of thousands along its length who lived within the flood plain.

By contrast, the Tennessee River had not once overflowed its banks since TVA had fully been implemented, even in 1942 when the heaviest recorded rains in the history of the region had fallen. But the problem with TVA was that, for its sustenance, it had to sell electric power produced by the dam system. And that resulted in Government competition with private power companies, unable to match the low rates of the Government.

Yet, until the Ohio Valley could obtain a system such as TVA, disastrous flooding would continue to occur periodically. Either the Administration would have to sponsor flood control without electric power production or the Congress would have to put the Government in the power-distribution business.

"Over the Rhine" speculates that it was unlikely that, as the First Army troops crossed the bridge at Remagen to traverse the Rhine for the first time in the war, they gave much thought to the fact that it had been ten years to the day since the Rhineland had conducted a rigged plebiscite to abrogate its rights under the Versailles Treaty and become a part of Germany.

What was undoubtedly uppermost in each G.I.'s mind was survival and bringing now to a final close the war in Europe, the process having been accelerated considerably by this fateful crossing against relatively light resistance.

"Days of Evil" assesses the whisperings of the "psychotics" professing portents of evil in the winds, with the Russians now but 25 miles from Berlin, and soon, no doubt, to take over all of Europe, even extending finally the bear-claws of Communism to Britain. People were asking why the Russians had dallied on the Oder for so long while Americans were fighting hard in the West.

Moreover, Eleanor Roosevelt had been given a mink coat, golden crown, and gold-embroidered harem costume by Canada, suggestive of that country's apple-shining and probable desire to make the First Lady Queen.

British Ambassador to the U. S., Lord Halifax, was visiting the Southwest, probably to reconnoiter for his Government, with the hope of adding a colony. Moreover, he was hunting wolves, destroying American resources.

The apocalypse was nigh.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record finds Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin comparing the New Deal of 1945 to that of the travelling patent medicine seller of yesteryear. Senator Wiley says that he had seen lumberjacks become convinced of their illness after such a slick pitch, break down and buy the balladiered pink panacea for imagined maladies which were not.

Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire interrupted to ask how much the cost was per bottle.

Senator Wiley responded that bottles which cost seven cents to produce were sold for a dollar or six for five dollars.

He further comments that what kept the people sensible in the face of this snake-oil talk was that they had been as sick as ever by 1940, despite consumption of the miracle medicine for seven years, at which point they were being sold the "All-Red Healer".

Of course, that which Senator Wiley failed to point out was that what had preceded the New Deal medicine for twelve years and which precipitated the ulcer and, finally, the stomach cancer in the first place was the Yellow Unread Cuck Olde Sucker Deal of supply-side economics.

As remarked in the column, the editors provide a piece, with a table attached, to show the low standing of North Carolina among the nation's states in wages earned. If North Carolina emerged from the war maintaining such a low-wage scale while industrialists sought to keep prices high to make quick profits, the population was bound to suffer and remain in a degraded economic status.

The state stood 44th in war wages and 43rd in non-war wages. Nevada, Michigan, and California led the list.

The piece thus advocates high wages to enable high spending power and thus spreading of the wealth.

One hopeful sign for the post-war period, it points out, was the fact that only 105 million dollars of income to the state had come from war industry against 444 million from non-war industry. Thus, the conversion to peacetime would be much easier for North Carolina than for many other states.

Drew Pearson recalls that two years earlier, on March 4, 1943, he had exposed the fact that the wife of Wisconsin Representative O'Konski was employed on his payroll at $3,900 per year. The Congressman had called Mr. Pearson a liar and stated that she was only temporarily so employed. Mr. Pearson now reports that he had failed to do the Congressman justice, that he had in fact employed his wife also in 1944 at $1,955 but only at $1,024 in 1943. Mr. O'Konski had also, however, employed on his Congressional staff four employees from his newspaper, three of them at substantial salaries, for a total of $11,500, including that paid to his wife.

When the Congressman had first run for Congress, one of the charges against his opponent had been that he had placed his wife on his payroll.

Mr. Pearson reminds that Congressman O'Konski's recent bitter attacks against the Yalta accord had been picked up by the German propaganda press.

He next reports of a resolution passed by the South Carolina Legislature, which had been put forward to the Senate by Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina, to have three servicemen, one each from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, assigned to sit at the peace conference to begin April 25 at San Francisco to charter the United Nations organization. Several Senators appeared ready to support the resolution.

Marquis Childs tells of the improved conditions in liberated Italy during the previous year, thanks primarily to the food distribution system put into place by the Allied Commission, chaired by future British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. More food was being brought to Italy to feed civilians than for the war effort. While some criticism had developed regarding the distribution of the food, it had ignored the great difficulties in getting the distribution network up and running.

The ration of bread had recently been increased and infant mortality had dropped considerably.

Dorothy Thompson discusses the weakness of France, lending to a prospect of a power vacuum in Europe after the war, with both Italy and Germany reduced to weak nations. General De Gaulle had been attempting to obtain the status of a major power for France, but the inevitable reality had intruded, that France was simply too weak still to be so regarded.

Differences on how to restore France's economy, whether to nationalize industry as demanded by the Resistance, had led to stalemates in terms of restoring the country. General De Gaulle was against nationalization, even on a partial basis. But that had led to growing criticism of his leadership, thus weakening any immediate prospect of renascence.

Ms. Thompson opines that it would have been better for De Gaulle to have posited France as a standard bearer for small nations rather than having it aspire to sit as a major power, at parity with the Big Three.

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