Saturday, April 21, 1945

The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 21, 1945


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Germans had stated that sixteen Russian armies had entered five Berlin suburbs, Bernau, Strausberg, Fuernstenwalde, Koenigs-Wusterhausten, and Zossen, and flanked the southwest area of the city, in the area of Beelitz and Treuenbrietzen, moving to within 32 miles of American lines, some patrols operating as close as 25 miles to one another. Some 75 miles south of Berlin, it was believed that some patrols between the two forces may have already joined along the Elbe near Dessau.

At 2:00 p.m., Soviet artillery began bombarding Potsdamer Platz within the center of the capital. Moscow reported that the Nazis had blown up a power dam, releasing a flood of water onto Russian troops, had set forest fires, and were making suicide charges with fixed bayonets at the Russian lines.

To the south, the First Ukrainian Army had broken through German lines along a 35-mile front 27 miles from Berlin, reaching Jueterbog.

To the north of the capital, the First White Russian Army was engaged in fierce battle on the Fuerstenberg-Strausberg-Bernau line. To the north of that area, the Russians had established two new bridgeheads on the Oder, between Schwedt and Stettin.

Violent tank battles were said to be taking place all along the encircling front.

The Germans contended that three million persons were still in Berlin. German propaganda broadcasts continued to urge the citizenry to fight to the death. Berliners, said a firsthand report, were finding the receipt of artillery shells preferable to bombs. Most of the population was now camped underground. Their biggest fear was hunger, having become inured through time to the presence of ordnance.

Perhaps, however, on the bright side, it provided them time to concentrate.

On the Western Front, the Third Army captured Asch in Czechoslovakia, seeking to cut off Pilsen and Prague.

The Canadians moved toward Emden and Wilhelmshaven, and also against the Holland defense positions, the plain before which having been flooded by the Nazis.

The British cut off Bremen and were within a mile of Hamburg.

French forces and American Seventh Army forces continued to advance on Stuttgart. The Seventh was within 70 miles of Munich and 27 miles of Ulm, north of Berchtesgaden.

Nuernberg was now firmly held by American forces, with 5,000 German soldiers killed or wounded and another 5,000 captured during the four-day battle for the birthplace of Nazism, and the eventual locus of the War Crimes Tribunal, to begin in November.

The RAF had set a record on the previous night, hitting Berlin six successive times with about a thousand Mosquitos, concluding a day-long series of raids, including 3,000 planes striking various targets in the Reich. No planes were lost in the Berlin raids, which had numbered now 76 in the previous 58 nights.

Some 600 American heavy bombers hit targets in the vicinity of Berlin, dropping 1,600 tons of bombs. The Eighth Air Force announced that since March 4, 1944, it had dropped on Berlin over 51 million pounds of bombs.

Fully 3,168 Luftwaffe planes had been destroyed by Allied planes within the previous 13 days.

In Italy, Bologna was taken by the Fifth and Eighth Armies, stalemated south of the city since late October. Polish troops of the Eighth and Americans of the 91st and 24th Divisions of the Fifth Army entered the city at the southern edge of the Po Valley. Capture of Bologna eliminated the major defense barrier to the Po River. There was considerable German troop movement observed to the north and northwest of the city. To the northeast, the Eighth Army entered San Nicolo Ferrarese, nine miles south of Ferrara. Other troops entered Budrio and crossed the Idice River at two places.

On this date, future Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii would, as a second lieutenant in the all Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, be seriously wounded near San Terenzo, in the west coast sector. He had been leading his platoon on a patrol when a German machinegun nest opened fire, wounding Lt. Inouye in the stomach. He nevertheless proceeded toward the machinegun nest and was able to eliminate it with machinegun fire and hand grenades. After also taking out a second nest, he collapsed from blood loss, revived, and moved toward a third nest. At that point, he received a wound to his right side which severed a large portion of his arm while his right hand still held an unreleased grenade. He was able with his left hand to take the grenade and finish off the third nest. He wound up losing his entire right arm.

Lt. Inouye was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which was later upgraded in 2000 by President Clinton to the Medal of Honor.

Senator Inouye, in the Senate since 1963, is currently the most senior member and president pro tem, the second longest serving Senator in United States history, to become the longest in mid-2014.

Few Americans who witnessed the Watergate hearings in the summer of 1973 before the Ervin Senate Select Committee will forget the always tough but fair and intelligent questioning of witnesses, without unnecessary drama, by Senator Inouye, among the highlights of those hearings.

It is a remarkable coincidence of history that, just days before the end of the war in Europe, within days of President Roosevelt's death on April 12, two future United States Senators, both serving long and distinguished careers from within opposing parties, would be seriously wounded in the same field of battle, one week apart. As we have recounted, Senator Robert Dole was wounded in Italy on the previous Saturday morning.

War makes no choices of its victims other than by dint of who happens to be in the line of fire of the enemy at the unfortunate moment.

We truly wish we could remark on each of the wounded and dead brave men of battle in that war who fought on the Allied side. But, we hope that the within recounting of those times through the print presented acts as a memorial to those many soldiers and civilians who lost their lives or were otherwise casualties, as well as to those many who served and fought and fortunately were able to avoid physical injury. We hope also it to be a lasting reminder of the ultimate futility of empire and waging war to try to achieve it, and the unnecessary human suffering, both of an enemy and people of one's own nation and family, which such wars inevitably cause.

We once had an Empire, a couple of them, in fact. It translated our records to the hammers and anvils pretty well, until the digital technology came along to replace it.

On Okinawa, three American divisions, the 7th, 27th, and 96th, were still seeking to break through the Japanese lines before Naha. The 27th advanced past Kazuzu ridge; the 37th moved a thousand yards to within 800 yards of the Machinato airstrip, northwest of the capital; the 96th was slugging it out in rough terrain; and the 7th advanced 1,400 yards to within 200 yards of Yonabaru airstrip.

On Ie Jima, the 77th Division faced suicidal defenders utilizing makeshift defenses, including wooden mines and hidden anti-aircraft guns firing along the beaches.

Admiral Nimitz announced that fifteen American ships, including five destroyers, a destroyer escort, two minecraft, and a gunboat, had been lost in warfare in the area during the previous month. In the same period, the Japanese had lost a hundred ships, including the superbattleship Yamato. The enemy had also lost 3,500 planes, half of their estimated remaining complement.

General MacArthur announced the virtual end of the Philippines campaign, which had begun with his landing on Leyte in October and continued with the landing at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon in early January. Fully 33,000 square miles of territory in the islands had been liberated, an area with a population of 6.4 million people.

Secretary of State Stettinius met with British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden, departed, indicating that they were in agreement on all major points yet to be debated at the San Francisco Conference set to start Wednesday. Foreign Commissar Molotov was scheduled to arrive from the Soviet Union during the ensuing 24 hours after experiencing some delay.

Stars and Stripes advocated against having a delegate from the armed forces at the San Francisco Conference, on the premise that an ordinary soldier would be bewildered by the complexities of the issues and would simply pose as a convenient "two-headed calf" to be wined and dined and used for publicity.

The Navy Department announced that it was initiating a new greeting to be used by switchboard operators. Instead of the usual "thank you" before patching the caller into the requested line, the operator would say, "Aye, aye, sir!" Should the caller happen to have been a woman, presumably the response would be altered accordingly.

On the editorial page, "A Job Well Done" remarks on the advice by General Carl Spaatz that the strategic air campaign against Germany was complete, the remainder of operations to be tactical strikes only.

Of course, it had to be that way, as the only major cities still in German hands were encompassed closely by the Allies.

During the final 16 days of the bombing campaign, 3,462 enemy planes had been destroyed, 1,021 in one day, most on the ground. The German planes were simply out of gas and thus were sitting ducks.

As the years would pass on, the piece predicts, historians would find, on close analysis, that the war in Europe had been won by the air war, crippling German manufacturing and fighting capability and taking away their air force as well. It had cut the length of the war, perhaps by years.

There is little, if any, doubt that the piece is entirely correct in that assessment.

"Many a Sin" observes that many ordinary civil disorders were labeled labor disputes, such as in the case of the refinery in Lake Charles, La., which had to be taken over by the Government after it been closed since April 9, not by a strike, but rather by a rent dispute, but not regarding company housing of which there was none, rather in a completely separate housing development near the refinery. The piece wonders whether the workers could be jailed for interfering with a critical war industry after being ordered back to work by the War Labor Board.

"Not Interested" finds that, out of the approximately 20,000 to 30,000 eligible voters in the county outside the city limits, only 2,492 had shown up at the polls to vote on a 20-cent supplementary tax for schools, most of the revenue slated for use for teacher salaries and janitor salaries. The dearth of voters meant probable defeat for the measure. But the real problem was the vast extent of apathy on any issue related to education.

"The Guiltiest" asserts again the utter contempt for the despicable and ineffable SS, whose crimes against humanity were immeasurable. Most, it suggests, would likely fight to the death. But all of those who remained at the end of the war should be tried as war criminals and dealt with accordingly. They were not soldiers, but assassins.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record finds Senator Albert Hawkes of New Jersey chastising his colleagues for absenteeism, bearing in mind that the first duty of Senators was to their constituents and that, in deference to the Senators, they could not meet with constituents or perform their necessary duties in committees while attending to duties on the Senate floor.

Drew Pearson comments on two contingencies which had determined Harry Truman becoming President instead of Henry Wallace: Robert Hannegan had toured the country a year earlier and reported back to FDR that no one he met wanted to see Vice-President Wallace again on the ticket; and, again, Mr. Hannegan had insisted upon an adjournment of the convention on Wednesday night the previous July, as it was deadlocked between Mr. Wallace and Mr. Truman, with the hall clamoring for Wallace, allowing critical time, by the next morning, for the political bosses to meet and shore up support for their favored candidate, Senator Truman, then nominated on the third ballot the next day.

Mr. Hannegan, Mr. Pearson points out, was from St. Louis and was adamant about having Harry Truman on the ticket.

He then proceeds to provide a biographical sketch of Mr. Hannegan, from his days as a ward heeler, to becoming a highly efficient St. Louis Internal Revenue Commissioner, finally to becoming Democratic National Committee chairman.

Marquis Childs comments on the remarks of former President Hoover to the 21st annual reunion of the workers of the American Relief Administration, which Mr. Hoover had chaired before becoming President, the organization which had successfully fed Europe after World War I. Though intended as off-the-record remarks, his concerns about the present food crisis in Europe had leaked to the press.

He had advised Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard during the fall, when a surplus of hogs appeared on the horizon, that hog production nevertheless should remain high, the excess to be used to feed Europe. Fats, he advised, were the key to health and well-being; lard, as gold in the bank.

Mr. Wickard decided not to accept the advice—perhaps the lard as gold comment settling the matter, given Mr. Hoover's dubious more recent record as President—and the Secretary cut hog production by ten percent. Then, concerned about not being able to have a market for their hogs, the farmers cut production by 30 to 35 percent.

Those cuts had led to the current food crisis. An immediate increase was necessary to avoid catastrophe abroad by winter.

The food issue was becoming a hot potato, with former isolationists seeking to use it as a rallying cry, promoting the withholding of food from "over there".

Mr. Childs quotes the former President from a pair of articles he had written for Collier's in November and December 1942, in which he had advocated feeding Europe after the war to avoid anarchy and to promote a lasting peace. The words, states Mr. Childs, were worth noting as they came from a man who knew more about feeding the world than anyone else then living.

Of course, listened to or not, no one on the Republican side seemed to be carping that President Hoover wanted to provide "milk for Hottentots", as Henry Wallace had suffered since promoting the very same notions in spring, 1942.

And, though Mr. Childs makes a valid point historically as to Mr. Hoover's administrative abilities when it came to feeding the world, somehow, those skills had eluded when it came time to feed the United States.

A piece compiled by the editors compares Presidents who came to the office with substantial Congressional experience to those who had come to the office without. There is no discernible pattern—although if we were to feed the data to the trusty 2130, we might find that one or more of them were liable to be found picking cranberries in the wintertime in New England, if not engaging in flood control near Portland, or gathering walnuts in California. We shall let you feed the data yourself.

The study was by way of trying to gain some predictive factor for relations between Congress and President Truman, who had served ten years in the Senate and gotten on well with his colleagues.

The piece remarks that President Harding had not only had smooth relations with his own party in Congress, but too smooth relations, to his Administration's ultimate detriment—and, should you accept the version of the story by Gaston Means of Concord, near Gastonia, to his own final personal detriment as well.

Whether any of the Republicans to attend the San Francisco Conference were going to drop by the Palace Hotel and pay special homage to the site where the late President passed away August 2, 1923, had not been indicated, and likely would not be.

Some Administrations are better left forgotten.

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