Tuesday, January 29, 1946

The Charlotte News

Tuesday, January 29, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Harry Hopkins, longtime special assistant to President Roosevelt, had died at Memorial Hospital in New York. He had been in the hospital since November and had been ill for several years, having resigned from the White House the previous July 3 after aiding President Truman in the transition, especially laying the groundwork for Potsdam and smoothing the way for agreement on the U.N. Charter at San Francisco by traveling to Moscow in the spring and imparting what he had gleaned from being with the President at Yalta, from which Vice-President Truman was absent.

Mr. Hopkins had begun his service to the New Deal as Federal Relief Administrator, then became WPA administrator from 1935 to 1938, then Secretary of Commerce until 1940. He was a member of the War Mobilization Committee and the Munitions Assignment Board during the war. He lived in the White House for three and a half years during FDR's twelve-year tenure. Mr. Hopkins, a former social worker, had begun government service to Governor Roosevelt in New York State in 1931 as chairman of the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration.

Mr. Hopkins was but 55 years old.

Secretary of State Byrnes stated that President Truman had approved his proposal to ask the U. N. Atomic Energy Commission to witness the Bikini Atoll tests on ships to be conducted during the summer. The Commission would include observers from the Big Five countries, Canada, plus several other nations.

In London, Trygve Lie of Norway was voted by the Security Council to be the first Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr. Lie was the choice of the Soviet Union while the United States had originally favored Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., Lester Pearson.

In Nuremberg, a Norwegian survivor of a death train, Hans Cappeln, told the war crimes tribunal of having witnessed 1,447 concentration camp prisoners kicked from open railway cars during a ride across Germany from the Gross Rosen camp in Silesia to Dachau, resulting from the approach of the Red Army the previous February. Four or five of the prisoners too weak to walk fast enough for the Germans were beaten to death with guns. The prisoners suffered for five days without food or water in open railway cars in sub-zero weather, with half the people aboard dead by the fifth day.

The Norwegian attorney stated also that a hundred prisoners had been marched through Munich from Dachau to dig through bombed ruins. The people of the city could not help but be aware of their emaciated condition, but there was no sympathy demonstrated.

Mr. Cappeln had been confined and tortured in Oslo for 25 months by the Nazis before transfer to a German concentration camp. Forms of torture consisted of placing a screw device on his leg and neck tearing the flesh, burning the soles of his feet with a kerosene lantern, and jabbing pins underneath his fingernails.

Swedish Count Bernadotte had arranged with Heinrich Himmler the previous spring to rescue Scandinavian nationals from the camps, including Mr. Cappeln.

The National Housing Expediter, Wilson Wyatt, told the House Banking Committee that price controls needed to be placed on old and new housing to stem the housing shortage, expected to reach its peak during the following summer. Congressman Wright Patman of Texas had already introduced such a bill.

The Army announced development of a radio-controlled rocket which had reached a vertical apogee of 50 miles. The belief was expressed by a retiring Army general that rocket propelled weapons might one day be able to reach anywhere in the world. German V-weapons had reached altitudes of between 30 and 60 miles.

Hal Boyle relates further from Hong Kong of the "hero of Hong Kong", Chester Bennett. He and Portuguese lawyer Marcus Da Silva had smuggled funds into the internment camp to enable the purchase of food for the internees and had spied on Japanese shipping for the British and Chinese. They had been warned by a Chinese secret agent of their arrest shortly before it occurred. They knew that arrest meant likely execution but they continued their missions anyway.

Mr. Da Silva took over the bulk of the espionage work beginning in April, 1942 while Mr. Bennett concentrated on smuggling funds into the camp. The Japanese tried to torture a messenger captured en route to deliver espionage results to the Chinese and British but he refused to talk even to his death.

Their three objectives included assassination of Chinese and Indian traitors, inciting resistance among the local population against the Japanese, and obtaining the loyalty of Indian guards of the Kowloon-Canton railway by giving each ten yen per month for cigarettes.

In Chicago, two named young men were held for questioning in the strangulation death after kidnapping of six-year old Suzanne Degnan on January 7. It was unclear why the men were being held. Many had been; many had been released after their names had been broadcast across the nation. These two also would ultimately not be charged.

A civilian nurse in Manila sought annulment of her alleged marriage to Major Arthur Wermuth which she claimed occurred December 7, 1941. Major Wermuth had gained fame as having single-handedly killed 116 Japanese on Bataan before being captured. Major Wermuth, in California, already married since 1935, the basis for the woman's petition for annulment, claimed no knowledge of the marriage and said he did not know the woman.

In Camden, N.J. a divorce was granted after a woman told of three furloughs of her soldier husband, on the first, having married her, on the second, having told her the marriage was a mistake, and on the third, having thrown her bodily from their apartment.

B.O.A.C. announced its intention to begin a double North Atlantic service to the U.S. and Canada, with daily flights from London to New York and Montreal. The fare was expected to be less than $400.

Hopes continued to run high that the steel strike would soon be settled.

A photograph shows the cold furnaces of Republic Steel Plant No. 2 at Youngstown, Ohio, idled by the strike.

On the editorial page, "Logic of Separation" approves the appointment of Basil Whitener as the new solicitor for the judicial district to replace deceased John Carpenter who had been in the position for 24 years. Mr. Whitener, of Gaston County, was also a candidate for the election to be held for the office during the summer.

The piece again, however, also recommends that a candidate step forward from Mecklenburg County to run in the election for the post, despite the past informal agreement that the solicitor would come from Gaston County while the resident Superior Court judge would come from Mecklenburg. As the judicial district was likely going to be partitioned by the Legislature in the next session, a Mecklenburg solicitor only made sense.

"The Controlling Factors" reports that both Senator Hoey and Senator Bailey of North Carolina had been complimented by supporters of the FEPC for their contributions to the debate, despite their opposition to the bill. The New York Times had complimented Senator Hoey, and Senator Dennis Chavez of New Mexico, sponsor of the bill, had thanked Senator Bailey for sticking to the issues. Neither Senator had made offensive racial remarks.

Yet, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of New York had spoken in Charlotte, declaring Senator Hoey unfit to serve in the Senate for his remarks.

The piece finds it not surprising for at the heart of the Senator's opposition was the prejudices of his constituents, and prejudice begat prejudice. Congressman Powell, having been discriminated against since birth, reacted with as much prejudice as that exerted toward him. To some degree, asserts the piece, every black person felt the same sort of anger which was felt by Congressman Powell.

It was the "blind anger" of the black and the "blind prejudice" of the white which were controlling factors in race relations, defying law through the generations. These passions would not be ameliorated or eliminated overnight.

"Lesson from LaGuardia" finds former New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to be giving proper advice to his successor, Mayor O'Dwyer, after the latter had acquiesced to the coercive pressure of City Councilman Michael Quill when he threatened to call a strike of the transportation union workers which he headed if the City went forward with a plan to sell the public utilities. While Mr. LaGuardia agreed with Mr. Quill's basic position, one he had supported for four years, fighting the interests seeking to sell the utilities, an action against the public interest, he disapproved of the method Mr. Quill had used to obtain his point, saying so in an article for PM.

The former Mayor suggested that to be a good Mayor, one had to be decisive and realize that no decision would please everyone, that the Mayor should never give in to such coercion.

The piece agrees and counsels every honest political office holder to take note of the advice, that controversy was good in a democracy. It stirred publicity around an issue and publicity usually negated dubious political schemes.

Mayor LaGuardia, it further comments, had run the cleanest and most efficient administration in the history of the City, but had also been called every dirty name in the book and had never refrained from responding in kind.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "Private Hargrove's Public", tells of former News reporter Marion Hargrove, who had become famous during the war for his column, "See Here, Private Hargrove", turned into a movie released in 1944, having gone on a lecture circuit criticizing the Army. He had provoked the ire of the Commander of American Legion Post 50 in Pelham, New York, who called former Sergeant Hargrove a "rabble-rouser" and laid to him responsibility for the Army uprisings in Europe and Manila by trying "to tear down every moral precept and ideal of the Army".

Mr. Hargrove had referred sarcastically to enlisted men as Army scum, ill-fed, ill-housed, subject to Jim Crow segregation policies, and used as body servants on occasion to officers. He wanted to eliminate all social discrimination between officers and men, abolish West Point, give everyone the same food, and make every man a king. He received $300 per lecture, at least before the National Manufacturers Association, and was popular on the circuit.

The piece wonders what would happen to him if the Army could get him on KP duty again.

Drew Pearson warns that when farmers would lose their food subsidies in the spring, as scheduled presently, the price-wage turmoil would grow deeper. The public was in between two powerful lobbies, the farm organizations and labor, both working against each other insofar as a rise in wages in labor pulling workers from the farms, necessitating a rise in farm wages to compete, ending in higher prices to the consumer, starting the sprial all over again as the laborer's cost of living rose.

OPA prevented a rise in farm prices but gave the farmer subsidies to compensate for higher operating costs resultant of higher labor costs. So, when the subsidies were gone, the farmer would have to raise prices or lower production costs to stay in business.

Meanwhile, unorganized white collar workers and unskilled labor were squeezed in the middle, leading to bad feelings toward labor. Examples were the meat and steel strikes, impacting the whole country. Once resolved with a $4 per ton steel price increase, all consumer goods made of steel would go up in price also. There needed to be a compromise which would not result in raised retail prices. A similar scenario existed in the meat industry.

The Government needed to act as arbiter and President Truman still had the power under the Economic Stabilization Act to coordinate the industries and reach an agreement which made sense for the country.

Mr. Pearson next relates of a captain sitting next to Admiral Nimitz, new chief of naval operations, while they both received haircuts, the captain reminding the Admiral that he had enough points for discharge. Admiral Nimitz replied that he never thought that he would accumulate enough points to get out of the Pacific.

Among his Capital Chaff, Mr. Pearson points out that General Clayton Bissell, longtime head of military intelligence, was being transferred out of the position in favor of Lt. General Hoyt Vandenberg, nephew of the Senator from Michigan.

Congressman Lawrence Smith of Wisconsin had taken up Mr. Pearson's call to establish a Department of Peace within the Cabinet.

Marquis Childs discusses a radio address by Benjamin Fairless, president of U. S. Steel, in which he disclosed that a high Government official, who turned out to be John W. Snyder, the Reconversion director, had assured that there would be some rise in the price ceiling on steel over the promised $4 per ton, provided the strike were settled, and that it had been on that basis that Mr. Fairless had agreed to allow 15 cents per hour in wage increases.

OPA director Chester Bowles had objected to Mr. Snyder making such promises and wanted to hold the line at an increase of $2.50 per ton.

Mr. Fairless had accepted the increase in steel price but expressed concern regarding an inflationary spiral if wages were increased. The National Association of Manufacturers and other business men wanted all price controls removed by February 1 on the notion that it was the only way to return to full production despite the risk of inflation.

The hapless consumer was lost in the middle of the debate between labor and management over higher prices versus higher wages, the final verdict surely to be inflationary.

Samuel Grafton suggests President Truman as being "one of the meekest Presidents the country has ever had", but nevertheless was considering taking over the Government-owned steel plant at Provo, Utah. Government operation of war plants was something considered and abandoned two years earlier but now, in light of the strikes, was being considered again, reminding that one event led to another.

The labor unions were now engaged in political activity and the strikes had taken on the character of debates over free enterprise rather than the old pattern of the picket line versus management to see who could last longer.

Some Congressmen viewed the strikes as a final showdown which could result in decisive victory for one side or the other. But no such finalities occurred in a democratic society. Furthermore, the realities at stake had been sharply defined, the difference between a divided land and community.

He cites a news story during the week that Labor in Britain had proposed to wipe out all anti-labor laws passed by the Conservatives in 1927 at a time when they had thought to have won a final battle on the labor front. They, too, had forgotten the immutable law of Newtonian physics: one thing leads to another, or, strictly stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Of course, Mr. Grafton surely did not mean to argue therefore for inertia, the status quo, as no such state of perfect societal equilibrium has ever been achieved in the history of mankind, nor could be among human beings with the inate right, whether blessing or curse, of conscious choice.

Senator Josiah Bailey delivers to the newspaper a copy of a letter he had written to a constituent who had supplied the Senator with a News editorial which had suggested that his proposal to abolish the closed shop was close to support of abolition of unions and went too far in seeking to restrain labor and the power accumulated by the unions since the advent of the Wagner Act. Senator Bailey states in his letter that the editor did not understand his position, that he supported unions but believed that they should be reined in, that they had become too powerful.

The editors reply, sticking by their former position.

A regular contributor writes a letter regarding the need for great refinement yet in atomic energy before it could be put to practical use by mankind as a source of energy. Indicative of the lack of understanding yet of the harmful effects of radioactive fallout released by an explosion of the bomb, he suggests that the only immediate utility for the bomb in peacetime would be in such tasks as clearing the right-of-way for the North-South Intercontinental All-American Highway.

Another letter responds to the letter remarking of the "Dago Jews" and their Communist conspiracy, saying that the newspaper should not have printed it, especially as the editors had admitted that they could not understand the author's position.

The editors respond, clarifying that they were being ironic and meant only that they could not understand why the voters had not elected the author to Congress.

They add, however, that the day they would stop publishing letters because they contained offensive opinions or were considered un-American, would be the day they close up shop.

Today, of course, that appears largely to be the going concern of most publications as led by network news, that is not presenting opinions considered offensive "to some viewers or listeners (on medications)", which severely restricts debate, narrows opinions being expressed, removes passion from argument, and provides no reasoned basis therefore for supporting or opposing various positions, rendering ultimately a country full of numb-skulls who can't think or argue because they do not know how, who only emote and parrot positions they hear on the networks, whether rightwing or left, or somewhere in the mealy-mouthed middle.

And, in quite direct consequence, we have the shooting du jour because paranoid idiots who only emote think guns are the easy answer to "arguments" they cannot win with their wits, dimmed as they are by the tv and the radio.

Still another letter finds the same letter despicable and wants to donate a dollar toward sending the author to "some country where dictatorship is practiced and let him dictate."

While tempting, we would not wish to do that, of course, as he might start another war after creating the Fourth Reich.

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