Wedneday, July 18, 1945

The Charlotte News

Wednesday, July 18, 1945


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that just after midnight, Third Fleet carrier planes had rained 2,000 tons of bombs on the coast of Honshu along a distance of twenty miles, from Mito, 55 miles northeast of Tokyo, to Hitachi and Sukegawa, 80 miles northeast of the capital. The raids again occurred without opposition.

Liberators on Sunday had attacked Amami Island in the northern Ryukyus, 190 miles south of Kyushu, as well as striking Tanega, Kuryo, and Taku islands, plus an airdrome on Kikie, east of Amami, and Usa on northern Kyushu. Other bombers struck other targets as well on Kyushu.

The second formal meeting occurred at Potsdam between the Big Three. President Truman first met alone with Prime Minister Churchill and then separately with Premier Stalin. The President was selected the previous day as chairman of the conference. The Prime Minister had visited the President alone on Monday, and Premier Stalin had visited him on Tuesday. To follow protocol, the President had gone to see each leader alone this day.

An unconfirmed report stated that Stalin had come to the conference prepared to make definite commitments for the Soviet Union in the Pacific war.

Associated Press correspondent John Hightower reports that it was believed the Soviets had in mind obtaining sea outlets for trade, including the Yellow Sea to Siberian ports, possibly as a bartering chip for participation in the Pacific war. Also at issue would be access to Russia's port at Port Arthur and possession of the southern half of Sakhalin Island, presently possessed by Japan. Russia already controlled the northern half.

The Senate rejected, by a vote of 52 to 31, an attempt by Senator Robert Taft of Ohio to delay a vote on the Bretton Woods agreement until November, after the U. N. Social and Economic Council would hold a world conference. Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky, Democratic Majority Leader, stated that the effort by Senator Taft had actually been aimed at killing the proposal, as the agreement expired at the end of 1945 should no action be taken to approve it.

The third installment from General Maurice-Gustave Gamelin, supreme commander of the French Army until May 19, 1940, just before the fall, finds the General explaining what the vaunted Maginot Line was. Many French had believed that it was an impregnable system of fortresses. The Government knew better but was loathe to correct the misimpression which had given the people a false sense of security from attack by Germany.

The line had been built between 1929 and 1931 as a series of fortresses on the eastern frontier. It was named for Andre Maginot, French Minister of War in 1929, who was instrumental in obtaining from Parliament the money for the fortifications. General Guillaumat had chaired a commission which actually planned the construction of the Line. Marshal Petain had approved the plans and helped draw the Line.

There were two fortified fronts between the Luxembourg border and the Rhine, the so-called "fortified zone of the River Lauter" and the "fortified zone of Metz". On the Rhine, there were no forts but rather two lines of pillboxes widely spaced, one line on the bank in full view of the Germans and the other on the level of the first villages of Alsace.

In 1931, M. Maginot had obtained approval to extend the line to the Belgian border, but Marshal Petain had nixed the plan in 1932.

After 1935, with war liable to break out at any time, it was deemed expedient to construct a series of pillboxes and blockhouses and other barriers to fill the gaps to Dunkerque on the left and to the Jura Mountains on the right, rather than try to build more fortresses which would take years to accomplish. These barriers were never intended as permanent fortifications. The permanent portion of the Line did not cover even a sixth of the northeastern border of France or the northern frontier bordering Belgium, a particularly weak spot eventually exploited by the Germans in May, 1940.

The Germans did not attack the Maginot Line directly but rather at the point west of Montmedy. In June, they attacked the eastern frontier in the gap between Metz and the Lauter River zones and on the Rhine at Neutbresach, areas thinly manned because of the need to transfer divisions of troops to the Aisne and Somme.

Thus, in 1940, the Line had served the same purpose as the French forts had in 1914, to deflect initial German thrusts from the eastern frontier. In 1914, the French Army had stopped the Germans at the First Battle of the Marne but could not repeat the feat in 1940.

General Gamelin speculates that, against frontal assault, the Line would have been breached anyway. While Verdun had held in 1916, it was a tribute to the troops more than the fortress itself. The Americans had penetrated the Siegfried Line in the winter of 1945. Similarly, with enough concentration of artillery, the Germans could have penetrated the Maginot. But it would have also enabled the French sufficient time to bring up reserves.

Generalissimo Francisco Franco announced in a speech that he was only the temporary caretaker of the Government of Spain, pending return of the monarchy, provided the monarchy would act in furtherance of the goals of the Falangist Party and National Syndicalist State. The heir apparent to the throne was Don Juan, son of Alfonso XIII. Don Juan was currently in Switzerland.

A crowded Greyhound bus crossing a bridge over Gillies Creek in Richmond, Va., went careening into the water when the bridge gave way amid heavy rains. Only one person, an infant, among the 45 passengers, was killed.

It was reported that on March 27, off Okinawa, the U.S.S. Nevada had been struck by a kamikaze plane, causing 60 casualties, including eleven killed. Despite damage, the ship returned to action within four hours. The Nevada had been damaged in the attack on Pearl Harbor, losing 57 men, and had also been engaged in action in World War I. It was eventually used as Ground Zero in the atomic bomb tests off Bikini Atoll in July, 1946. The sturdy ship nevertheless survived both blasts.

If one takes, incidentally, the number of men killed at Pearl Harbor on the Nevada, the California, 105, and the Arizona, 1,177, forming by states the southwest corner of the United States, one comes up with the number 1,339, the number of days between December 7, 1941 and August 6, 1945, inclusive.

Just one of those intriguing mysteries with Numbers.

In Australia, The Sydney Sun commented that the war in the Pacific might soon end with dramatic suddenness. The editorial placed the onus on Emperor Hirohito, who, it said, could end the war with the stroke of a pen and that the United States was pressing him to do so.

The Sun likely had no idea of its prescience.

On the editorial page, "Strike Flood" comments on the continuing fluctuation in striking laborers, establishing a trend which appeared set. With the path to high wages barred by the War Labor Board, the unions were seeking such long-term goals as an annual wage, shorter hours to insure more jobs, and welfare funds. Employers were not so bent on destroying unions as after the First World War.

But, the labor leaders were appearing to take more responsibility and were urging that labor could not increase its share of goods by producing less.

So, suggests the piece, the trend toward strikes might eventually diminish.

"'Shiners Beware" warns moonshiners that a prohibitionist U.S. Attorney, D. E. Henderson, had just been appointed to the Western District of North Carolina, not surprising for the fact that Senator Clyde Hoey had the major role in obtaining the appointment. With the Federal District Court presided over by another prohibitionist, Judge Yates Webb, defendants hauled in on revenue violations over moonshine production had better take heed.

"Full-Speed Max" comments on a talk in Spindale by former Governor O. Max Gardner in which he optimistically predicted the road to full employment, as surely as the liberal Henry Wallace, Secretary of Commerce. Governor Gardner predicted that the future economy would eclipse even the boom times of 1929 before the Crash.

The piece reminds that the former Governor had always been for full employment, practicing mass production in business, having made it a goal in both business and agriculture while Governor. He had always been identified as a conservative Democrat but not a reactionary. Since he had gone to Washington as chairman of the advisory board of War Mobilization & Reconversion, his rhetoric had become increasingly liberal.

He was looking beyond the war and reconversion to a time in peace when goods would be produced at the same rate as during the war. The country would need accept the challenge or meet disaster, he charged. With 300 billion dollars in debt to pay off, the country had to expand, not deflate, its economy after the war.

Unfortunately, while sounding all well and good, some of the means for doing so was the promotion of fear regarding what had just taken place two days earlier, to produce Boom Times, in more ways than one, regarding Labor.

"You Say Equal?" reports that women, who now spent 85 percent of the family budgets in the country, wanted the other 15 percent. They were lobbying inside the House Judiciary Committee to have proposed an equal rights amendment to the Constitution.

The piece speculates that it might be worded to allow all joint bank accounts to be under the charge of the Lady of the House and that all checks be made payable to her.

One avenue of thought on the proposed amendment was that it was necessary to end wage and employment discrimination against women. Another was that it was freighted with large problems in removing historical protections afforded women by societal tradition. In such a legal state, no one would need any longer to feel the urge to yield their seat on the bus to a woman with equal rights or to accord her first right through the revolving doors, or tip the hat in elevators—already apparently a bygone tradition by 1945, anyway.

Vital health laws protecting women also might be ended and they might become equally responsible for family support and for payment of alimony to a dependent husband.

Congressman Sam Hobbs of Alabama was outraged at the proposal, seeing it as the ruination of American womanhood, the invasion of the home and the institution of marriage, and causing the loss of property rights.

The editorial suggested that the better approach would be to drum up support in Congress for equal rights for men.

"That would come nearer to rectifying the situation."

Well, of course, the E.R.A. had its run for ten years, from 1972 to 1982, and failed to acquire the necessary three-quarters of the states needed for ratification, stopping three states short. Primary arguments against it at the time were that the Amendment would only serve to confuse existing law which protects against discrimination based on sex, as well as the existing protections under the Fourteenth Amendment for all persons in the United States, rendering the Amendment surplussage, without purpose, and thus likely to be used to limit rights as much as afford them. And so, it was wisely not ratified.

If there were an amendment specifically prohibiting discrimination based on a particular characteristic, then the reverse argument could be made that other characteristics, such as race and religion, are not intended to have the same level of protection as discrimination based on the specific, constitutionally protected characteristic. That is why the language of the Constitution is general in nature and not specific.

We are all equal under the law. No one gets special privileges. Read the Fourteenth Amendment. None of it is worth the paper on which it is printed unless enforced.

Yes, men are entitled to pregnancy leave, also. Think about it.

There has never been an amendment to the document yet which provides special rights to only some citizens and that notion is antithetical to democracy. Indeed, it smacks of Fascism.

We do, however, kind of like the idea of equal enforcement and application of bathing suit ordinances on beaches. But, of course, it would likely only result, with E.R.A. in place, in men again being forced to wear tops.

The excerpt from the Congressional Record has Representative Charles Savage of Washington speaking out against the bill proposed by Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi to provide veterans with jobs regardless of union membership, thus pitting the returning veteran against organized labor.

He quotes from a Washington Post editorial of July 10 suggesting that veterans would view the effort as demogogy and that the real thrust was to enable veterans to take the jobs of strikers.

Congressman Adolph Sabath of Illinois injected that Mr. Rankin had previously stated his opinion that the Communists had been instrumental in causing the war. Mr. Sabath corrected that it had been the Nazis and Fascists.

Representative A. S. J. Carnahan of Missouri agreed.

Mr. Rankin then disagreed, clarifying that it had been the Communists who had sided with Hitler until the Nazis attacked Russia. He suggested that persons known not to be in sympathy with the Constitution should not be permitted to enter unions and teach an antithetical philosophy while the Constitution was not being taught within the union.

Drew Pearson discusses rye.

In the winter of 1942, ceiling prices were established on all grains except rye because it started far below parity in price, about 52 cents per bushel. Parity was over a dollar per bushel. The result was that speculators could enter the market and seek to make quick profits. General Foods, one of the owners of which was Mrs. Joseph Davies, the wife of the former Ambassador to Belgium and Russia, was one of those speculators. Straw men were set up to make purchases for General Foods to circumvent restrictions on buying, and when the Chicago Board of Trade discovered the ruse, banned General Foods from buying any more December futures. By May, 1944, however, General Foods had cornered the market and owned 89 percent of the rye crop.

There was so much rye abounding that the War Production Board was told by the War Food Administration to order grain distillers to use 10% rye in making alcohol. That decision aided General Foods in getting rid of part of its surplus.

The speculation in rye continued and by the previous winter, others were in the rye market, including those financed by wealthy refugees from Europe.

General Foods, being still stuck with huge supplies of rye, needed a market. Only a small amount went to rye bread production. Eventually, a deal was worked out through Lend-Lease with Belgium whereby the Belgians agreed to purchase the rye for cattle feed. The Foreign Economic Administration ordered the Commodity Credit Corporation to purchase more than a million bushels from General Foods for Belgium. FEA also ordered three million bushels for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to feed Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.

Word leaked out in March and the CCC was able to sell 50,000 bushels at a $20,000 profit, as a scramble had ensued to purchase rye. The result was that railway space needed for wheat was being occupied by rye. The Department of Agriculture then embargoed shipments of rye to the East Coast. But Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois stepped into the breach and insured that the shipments continue. He acted on the advice of the Chicago Board of Trade which wanted the rye out of the Chicago market and not out of any self-interest.

Senator Pappy Lee O'Daniel then got in on the act as well, ultimately on behalf of General Foods, also to keep the rye moving.

Regardless, new Secretary of Agriculture Clinton Anderson was forbidding the shipment of rye to the coast while rail space was more urgently needed for wheat, dairy feed, and other grains.

Marquis Childs recounts that just a week before President Roosevelt's death in April, he had been talking to an unnamed Senator on the Hill who remarked at how bad the President had looked before departing for Warm Springs. The Senator then mused at how it would be for Harry Truman to have to face down Josef Stalin, and then laughed at the absurd image he had painted. (It should be noted that Drew Pearson had recounted on April 16 that Vice-President Truman had gone to visit House Speaker Sam Rayburn late on the afternoon of April 12, by coincidence, at the invitation of Mr. Rayburn who wished to talk to him about the President's ill health and the prospect that he would likely not live much longer; it was during the meeting that Steve Early, press secretary to the White House, called and told Mr. Truman that he must urgently come to the Executive Mansion, without telling him the reason.)

Now, says Mr. Childs, the image which had appeared comic to the Senator in April was a reality, just three months later. But, in the meantime, the average man who had stepped into the shoes of the presidency had shown himself a worthy contender at the table of diplomacy. He had the good sense to send longtime FDR confidante and adviser Harry Hopkins on a special mission to Moscow to work out the troubling questions regarding Poland and the previously agreed occupation zones within Berlin. And that had eliminated some of the greatest obstacles threatening to upset the amicable relations between the West and Russia just as the war in Europe had ended.

He remarks on how different the atmosphere was when compared to that after the Armistice in World War I when President Wilson had gone to Paris leaving behind a divided Senate on ratification of the Versailles Treaty. Now, the U.N. Charter was slated to be ratified with only a handful of Senators prepared to vote against it and the Bretton Woods proposal also destined to pass, even if with less overwhelming support.

Mr. Childs reminds that Europe looked to America as its saving grace to enable it to rebuild, and so it would look to President Truman as the embodiment of that spirit. The ruin of Europe was so vast as to be incomprehensible and it would take quite a long time for the reconstruction to be accomplished. It would measure the strength not only of the President but of all Americans as well in taking up that burden and achieving finally the task.

Samuel Grafton suggests that Europeans must be concluding that Americans could organize well the production and distribution of goods but lacked such an ability at organizing people.

A story had circulated that an American AMG official in Austria had put the quietus on attempts by a group of Austrians to ban sales of books by listed Nazi writers. The AMG official was not in favor of Nazis but did not want the Austrians thinking for themselves unless approved by the American authority. The result was stultification, which the AMG perceived as order.

There was fear to know what would come of free political expression and thought and so the brakes had been permanently applied to it. But fear of what was not clear. By allowing free speech, enemies of democracy could be identified. By freezing free speech, the Nazi remnants were aided in both Germany and Austria. Some Nazis had managed to obtain positions in local governments and with no local news organ to ferret them out, these officials could maintain their place in quietude.

The Europeans inevitably had to believe that, while Americans were brave in combat, as soon as it stopped and ideas began to come to the fore, America suddenly exchanged its fighting mettle for cowardice.

The editors compile a piece on the history of Potsdam, wherein the Kaiser's summer palace was located, and from which he had hoped to dominate Europe during World War I. The conferences which immediately preceded the Guns of August, making war in 1914 inevitable, had transpired there.

The Kaiser, in July, 1914, had informed at Potsdam the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Berlin that Germany would support Austria-Hungary in its demands on Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.

Just as Bismarck had rubbed in the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War by having Wilhelm crowned Emperor of the German Empire at Versailles in 1871 and just as Hitler had rubbed in the victory in 1940 by having the armistice signed in the railway car at Compiegne where the Armistice had been signed by Germany in 1918, so now did the Big Three use Potsdam near Berlin as a symbolic meeting point to rub in the defeat of Germany to the German mind.

A short piece, Uncle Mat's Letter, tells of the French general who spoke little English being asked to deliver a toast to the ladies of America. His neighbor on the dais whispered that he should make the toast to the ladies of "both hemispheres", and so, naturally, the general fully toasted, saying, "Let us all drink to both hemispheres of the ladies."

You can readily see, with an E.R.A. as part of our Constitution, how confusing it would be to the children who might be in attendance to have the general then have to compound his faux pas by adding, "Let us all drink also to both hemispheres of the gentlemen. Bottoms up."

Of course, in actuality, the general was only toasting the ladies' brains.

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