Tuesday, January 1, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 1, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, to begin 1946, General Charles De Gaulle threatened to resign as head of the Provisional Government of France should the Assembly continue with its proposed cut of 20 percent of the national defense budget, by 126 billion francs. The Government had approved a 1.8 billion franc cut and General De Gaulle stated that the Government could not effectively function in its transition from war to peace if the proposed cut were implemented. He particularly opposed any cuts which would diminish the size of the Navy.

In Seoul, Korea, between 20,000 and 30,000 people chanted "independence now" as they paraded along the ice-covered streets of the city on New Year's Eve in protest of the Moscow agreement for a five-year trusteeship under the control of the United States and Russia. Americans stayed away from the demonstration. Servants at the residence of Lt. General John Hodge's occupation headquarters reported that knife-wielding men had chased them away from the residence and told them not to return. They had complied. Others also, including Korean employees of the American Red Cross, reported being ordered to stay away from work and march. The demonstration appeared to be organized by the Provisional Government Organization which had returned recently from exile in Chungking.

In Chungking, General George Marshall conferred with Communist General Chou En-Lai, following the proposal by the Chiang Government that General Marshall, newly appointed Ambassador to China, act as arbiter in the dispute between the Government and the Communists. The subject of the discussion was not disclosed, but the fact of the meeting implied that the Communists might entertain the Government proposal. General Marshall had confirmed that he would be willing to act in the role of arbiter.

In Tokyo, General MacArthur gave praise to Emperor Hirohito's New Year rescript urging democratization of thought and liberalization of the Government of Japan. Most importantly, the Emperor renounced the concepts of his being divine or that the Japanese were a chosen people to rule the earth. It was an unprecedented statement by a ruler of Japan.

In response to General MacArthur's statement on Sunday that he did not have anything to do with the decision-making process at Moscow, Secretary of State Byrnes stated that he had consulted with the General in October before the Moscow conference and received his general approval of the plan to which the Big Three agreed re the four-power council for Japan, though he had expressed objections to parts of the proposal. Mr. Byrnes did not consult with him during the conference because General MacArthur was a policy implementer not a policy-maker.

The joint Congressional committee investigating Pearl Harbor, in recess this date, studied the statement of General Walter Short that he would have had two hours of preparation time had he received the war warning from Washington in timely fashion. The statement tended to contradict parts of Admiral Harold Stark's testimony that he had given adequate warning of the potential for surprise attack by Japan to Admiral Husband Kimmel. General Short had received a warning message from General Marshall, transmitted via commercial radio, seven hours after the attack. A phone call, he had testified, would have reached him nine hours earlier. He contended that he acted strictly in accordance with War Department orders not to alarm the civilian population, that if he had undertaken more stringent preparatory measures, he would have certainly so alarmed the civilians of Honolulu.

Further, he stated that when he had told the War Department on November 27 that anti-sabotage efforts were being undertaken in response to General Marshall's first war warning, he did not receive any indication that such was an insufficient response. He said that he had asked Admiral Kimmel on November 27 about the likelihood of a surprise attack and was told by Vice Admiral (then Captain) Charles McMorris that there was no such likelihood, a statement which Admiral Kimmel did not challenge.

With a pending steel strike set to start January 14, the steel industry asked the President to intervene to seek postponement of the strike during a Government fact-finding process.

President Truman disavowed any agreement with the remarks of his military aide, Brig. General Harry Vaughan, regarding Navy and Army chaplains, made at a private gathering at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Va., in October.

In Los Angeles, the wife of rumba dance maestro Xavier Cugat filed for separate maintenance after 16 years of marriage.

In New York, a million people turned out in Times Square to see in the New Year, the largest celebration in the city anyone remembered in thirty years. Despite the increased numbers, however, the celebration was said by police to be one of the most orderly in years, with no reports of serious accidents or property damage, despite the recent crime wave reported in the city.

In New Orleans, a Mardi Gras-type festival took place on Canal Street.

San Francisco dampened its celebrants with a large police presence, fearful of a repeat of V-J Day when a large amount of property damage had taken place.

On the editorial page, "Epitaph for 1945" seeks to sum up the year. After V-E and V-J Days had passed, the purpose which had defined the functions for most and ended debate was suddenly gone.

"We were, after the first exultation of victory had passed, an exhausted and confused people who wanted nothing except to be left alone, irritable in the face of decisions thrust upon us, reluctant to accept the knowledge that the problems of peace can be even more complex than the problems of war."

The passage of the New Year, supposed to bring new life to the economy and production with the elimination of the excess profits tax, would not be the panacea which everyone hoped it would be. The distress of the latter months of 1945 would spill over, it predicts with resignation, into 1946.

But, it adds, the prospect for the new year in peace was nevertheless hopeful.

"Certainly there is every reason to believe that the tender little New Year we celebrate today will not earn the epitaph so fitting for 1945: 'Thank God it's over.'"

"Off the Hook" comments favorably on the nomination by the Democratic District Committee the previous day of Judge Sam J. Ervin to run in a special election scheduled to fill the seat of his brother, Congressman Joe Ervin, who had committed suicide on Christmas Day in Washington. The nomination at once confirmed and set aside the notion that six committeemen would effectively name the Congressman, as Judge Ervin, though well-qualified, would likely not face any opposition in the election. Judge Ervin had accepted the nomination with the understanding that he would not seek re-election in 1946. There was every prospect, therefore, that he could be a more effective Congressman than someone who would be faced with re-election concerns.

But the confusion surrounding the process had suggested a need to revise the election laws in North Carolina to provide clarity in such an event in the future. And the skipping of a primary meant that the six-man committee had essentially made the appointment, meaning that Judge Ervin was not the choice of the people but would ultimately take the seat only by dint of birth.

"Feet of Clay" finds Emperor Hirohito's statement that he was not divine and that the Japanese were not the chosen rulers of the earth to be a great victory for General MacArthur. The rescript had come, whether intentionally timed or not, when General MacArthur had voiced his objections to the four-power administrative council to which agreement had been reached at Moscow.

The piece equates the MacArthur feud with the Executive Branch with that between General McClellan and President Lincoln during the Civil War. The General had, nevertheless, agreed to obey the orders of the President, at least until he could determine how things would go, but would walk out of the council at the first sign of an adverse decision.

"It's an imperial attitude, replacing the one abandoned by the Emperor, but it seems to be justified by the really excellent record of the American occupation."

Perhaps it conveyed the notion, as suggested in the Washington Daily, that General MacArthur was the only American who was as good as he thought he was.

Perhaps not.

A piece from the St. Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press, titled "On Congressional Salaries", explains that Congress had been reluctant to raise its pay since 1873 when a bold Congress gave itself a raise from $5,000 to $7,500, retroactive for two years. The present salary of $10,000 had been enacted in 1925, 48 years later. But the cost of living had risen in the interim only by 3 or 4 percent, negating any great argument for an increase, despite substantially rising salaries and wages in the interim. On the other hand, in 1925, the Congress stood in session five or six months per year.

The piece points out that it was not conducive to good government for the level of pay to induce only persons with private fortunes to serve.

Drew Pearson pays tribute to those who had labored for their fellow man during 1945: first and foremost, G.I. Joe; second, Mrs. G.I. Joe; third, the atomic scientists; fourth, Chester Bowles, director of OPA, who kept inflation from creeping in despite being kicked in the pants for it; fifth, J. Edgar Hoover, for his efforts in suppressing foreign enemies and preventing sabotage without infringing civil liberties; sixth, Senator Alben Barkley of Kentucky, Majority Leader, who had guided successfully much legislation through the Senate; seventh, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas, for the same feat; eighth, Dr. Herbert Evatt, Foreign Minister of Australia, who had effectively represented the smaller nations at the U.N. Charter Conference in San Francisco; ninth, Harry White, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who guided through the ratification of Bretton Woods, establishing the World Bank and International Monetary Fund; and tenth, the "Government girls", who helped keep the wheels of government turning during the war.

He next presents a series of snippets, among which is a quote from President Truman, stating that often FDR had been accused on Capitol Hill and elsewhere of being a liar, but that, after being President for a few months, he did not know how anyone could occupy the position "without occasionally being a liar".

The column reports that race-baiter Gerald Winrod of Wichita had moved into the best section of the city, suggesting that "the Demagogue business must be picking up".

He also informs that, amid claims by G.M. that it could not afford to pay labor's demanded 30 percent wage increase, six G.M. executives were among the 15 highest paid persons in the country.

Dorothy Thompson looks with disdain upon the results brought home from the Moscow conference by Secretary of State Byrnes, views it as so much window-dressing, settling issues by compromise in accordance with the wishes of the Russians, and not dealing with the most pressing matters, left dangling.

She found the compromised acceptance of the Soviet-backed governments in the Balkans disturbing, that the agreement to turn atomic energy over to the U.N. was still subject to the structure of the U.N. Security Council with a unilateral veto, thus only deferring indecision, and that the policy on China was merely a restatement of a policy already reached.

Meanwhile, no decisions were made with regard to the Western border of Germany and the claims of France that the Ruhr and Rhine be internationalized, the policy on the Middle East and the Azerbaijan conflict in Iran, or the Soviet pressure on Turkey to gain access to the Dardanelles. She equates the Soviet headlines during the conference with regard to Turkey to those of the German kept press under Hitler during the Sudeten crisis leading to Munich in September, 1938. Then, Voelkische Beobachter had printed the headline, "Small State Menaces World Peace". Now, the Russian press found Turkey menacing the Soviet Union by objecting to cession of part of its territory.

She concludes that Mr. Byrnes had come home, as had Neville Chamberlain from Munich, with nothing more interesting than "peace for our time". But she could not blame him for what she considered weakness and failure, for it was difficult to represent a country as America had become in the months since the end of the war, squandering quickly its good will built up during the war. She cites the report that a hundred G.I.'s had marched on the General Headquarters in Frankfurt, in full view of the Germans, in protest of their not being sent home. Never mind that the job of occupation remained to be done to fulfill the commitment made by those who had fought and died in the war.

"Our Army and fleet disintegrate. Our internal affairs disintegrate. No one can powerfully represent a country in such a state at any conference."

Ms. Thompson, whose editorialization before and during the war was, for the most part, exceptional, was not going to be happy in the post-war world, it increasingly appears, until she had managed to ignite World War III.

Marquis Childs discusses the disconsolation of Democratic National Committee chair Robert Hannegan over the reliance being placed by President Truman on his old friend John W. Snyder, head of the Office of Reconversion. Criticism of Mr. Snyder had been mounting in recent weeks. Mr. Snyder relied heavily on his Deputy Administrator, Hans Klagsbrunn, ("complaining brook" in German), credited with having brought into the Office as an economic adviser Richard M. Bissell, who had succeeded Robert Nathan, former Deputy Administrator. Mr. Bissell was a conservative Republican, upsetting Mr. Hannegan who wanted strong voices for labor and liberal points of view surrounding Mr. Truman in the White House.

Nevertheless, the President had shown stubborn loyalty to Mr. Snyder and therefore accepted his appointments.

Mr. Bissell, active with the O.S.S. during the war, would go on in 1948 to become an administrator for the Marshall Plan in Europe. Eventually, he joined the C.I.A. and in 1954 was appointed the head of development for the U-2 spy plane. In 1958, he became Deputy Director for Plans and oversaw, beginning in March, 1960, the development of the plan for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba under President Eisenhower. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961, President Kennedy fired Mr. Bissell, along with C.I.A. Director Allen Dulles. Mr. Bissell was replaced as Director of Plans by future Director Richard Helms.

To try to get the White House back on a smooth running track, continues Mr. Childs, the President was attempting to persuade F.C.C. chair Paul Porter to become one of the President's administrative assistants. He had a good working relationship with Congress and understood politics, having been the director of information for the DNC. But Mr. Porter did not want to leave his post as F.C.C. chair.

Mr. Hannegan understood that the coming year would likely cause further strain between the White House and Congress and he wanted to strengthen the White House staff with pro-labor liberals for the coming Congressional elections in November.

Bertram Benedict reviews the dark prospects for the auto industry in 1946, still delayed in reconversion to production of civilian vehicles by the strike at G.M. and the threatened strike at Ford, already hampered by the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel strike during August and September, and also affected by the G.M. strike, as G.M. supplied the industry with fuel pumps.

—Son, let me tell ye. Without them dang wheels and that doggone fuel pump, you ain't goin' nowhere fast. You can throw a lot of that hardware overboard and still make a run fer it, air filter, hoses of one sort or another, exhaust pipes, a few of the bolts even, a couple or three of the jugs. Heck, you might even stretch a few miles without the radiator or oil pump. But with no fuel pump, she's gonna stop deader 'an a doornail on a cold night in July. Ye got to have the fuel pump and the wheels, son. Don't forget it.

—How much? Well that depends entirely on how much you need it.

—Two thousand miles from home, huh? I hope you got the money.

Presently, estimated automobiles on the highways stood at 24 million, four million fewer than in 1941. The cars had an average of 56,000 miles on the odometer and the average age of the vehicle was eight years, with 25 percent being ten years or older. The estimated shortage from lack of production since February, 1942 was eight million. Pent-up demand was estimated at between five and ten million during the ensuing three to five years. The highest annual production, in 1929, stood at a bit more than 4.5 million.

To meet the demand, the manufacturers were planning to produce the 1942 models anew. OPA had set prices only for Ford, Mercury, and Studebaker, the Fords set to cost somewhat more than the 1942 models, perhaps because of a slight increase in horsepower of the Ford engine. G.M. cars would likely be priced about the same as in 1942.

So, the automobile industry would remain in its "fourth phase" for awhile, the first having been the experimental phase before the turn of the century, then the luxury-ownership phase around 1900, then the planned price-reduction, mass-production phase ushered in by Henry Ford around 1908. At the time, it was customary for dealers to demand half the payment in cash with a couple of time installments for the balance. The fourth phase, starting in the Twenties, was one of price stabilization and financing purchases. During this fourth phase, automobile ownership had risen dramatically in the country, from one car for every 11.2 persons in 1920 to 4.6 in 1930, to 4.12 in 1940.

A woman writes a letter answering the letter from a "Working Young Lady" appearing December 27, who had condemned strikers as unpatriotic. The author says that she believed the men who fought and suffered and died in the war did so precisely so that they could return to better conditions in the work place at home, and the freedom to strike for better conditions was a necessary ingredient of that recipe.

So it was on the First Day of 1946, the Eighth Day of Christmas.

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