The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 13, 1941



Site Ed. Note: "Bus Strike" brings to mind an incident in Times Square in New York City, March 18, 1941, in which one Ulrich von der Osten, aka Julio Lopez Lido, a German Abwehr officer, was hit and killed by a taxi. At the time, he had in his hotel room a report on the defenses of Pearl Harbor and Hickham Field.

The incident prompted an investigation by the FBI and became the deus ex machina finally to crack the infamous "Ludwig ring" of spies, arrested June 28-29, 1941.

Although preceded by two years of investigation, until this simple break, the connections between members of the spy ring and the German government had been wanting of hard evidence, the identity of the senders of coded and invisible inked material unknown.

At the time of the accident, von der Osten was accompanied by another man who fled the scene. He called the hotel where von der Osten was staying and asked that the room be secured, in turn causing the hotel to contact the authorities which in turn led to the search of the room and the consequent break in the case. The man who made this call was later identified as Kurt Ludwig, known as "Joe K" for his code-name used in intercepts providing shipping movements to the Abwehr of U.S. aid bound for Britain during the fall of 1940. Joe K became master of the ring after the death of his superior, von der Osten. Joe K. was eventually arrested in August, 1941.

Could the hurly-burly crush from the emergent need for taxis in the wake of the bus strike in New York City in March, 1941 have led to one such taxi fortuitously killing von der Osten while crossing a street in Times Sqaure? Thus, to the cracking of the Ludwig spy ring? Did the spy ring bust, which led to the desperate immediate move by Nazi agents to shut down their spy operations in Mexico City on June 30-July 1 and thereafter, lead to the death of W. J. Cash?

On July 12, 1941, Josephus Daniels, Ambassador to Mexico, without any particularly apparent prompting event, provided to Mexican Foreign Minister Ezequiel Padilla evidence of spy activities in Mexico by Abwehr agents Georg Nicolaus, Friedrich Karl von Schleebrugge, and Paul Max Weber, and sought their immediate arrest. The Mexican government, under newly elected Presidente Avila Camacho, riding the fence between economic ally Germany and geographic ally, the United States, hemmed and hawed, delayed and frustrated, and took no action or arrested any one of some 250 known spies in Mexico until late February, 1942, only then in the wake of Pearl Harbor.

Simple causes such as hurtling traffic, on which Cash plainted often, sometimes have resounding and peculiarly connected effects venturing far and wide, both as to the guilty and, sometimes also, to the innocent bystander, the mere chronicler of history, the witness from only afar of the accident at the crossroads.

Read more about this pedestrian incident cum intrigue at the FBI.

A Real Loss*

Tom Carroll Has Done First-Rate Job for Community Chest

It is highly inconsiderate of the town of Winston-Salem to take Tom Carroll away from the city of Charlotte. After three years as executive secretary of the Community Chest here, Mr. Carroll had become almost indispensable, and now there will have to begin exhaustive search for his successor.

This is truly a case of Charlotte's loss being Winston-Salem's gain. Tom Carroll is so pleasant a fellow. He is so quietly efficient. He has managed to acquire the knowledge and training of a professional social worker without sacrificing the healthy skepticism and questioning attitude with which every inexact science ought to be approached.

During his three years in Charlotte he has succeeded in organizing the Community Chest and in co-ordinating its member agencies to such an extent that they are all functioning admirably. He has even contrived to provide them with reasonably adequate financial support at a minimum of pain to the contributing public.

He cannot be blamed for deciding to take up Winston-Salem's tempting offer, for there he will be privileged to carry on his work under conditions that approximate the ideal. But he will be sorely missed in Charlotte, where he has done a first-rate job in an agreeable, unobtrusive manner.

Bus Strike

Obdurate Attitude of Quill Does Labor No Service

"Unnecessary and a tragic mistake"--that is the way Mayor LaGuardia refers to the strike of the Transport Workers Union against the Fifth Avenue Coach Company and the New York Omnibus Corporation.

A tragic mistake for the union--for union labor in general--it may well prove to be. For one million people are being driven to walk to work or hire taxicabs as a result of the move--at a time when there is already much sentiment in the country for laws rigorously restricting the right of unions to strike. And in the nature of the case, most of the million are going to join the ranks of those who want such legislation.

Whether or not the union has just grievances we don't pretend to know. The coach company claims that it is operating with a deficit at present, that the demands of the union will put it in the hole to the tune of nearly four million dollars annually. The union counters with the charge that the figures are doctored, and that in any case the earnings of the company in the past justify its operating at a loss now.

What is clear is that the attitude of Mr. Quill, president of the union, is highly dubious. He has steadfastly refused even to consider Mayor LaGuardia's offer to mediate the dispute, though the Mayor is famous as a friend of labor. And now he even refuses to see the emissaries of LaGuardia.

Quite clearly, he feels that he can gain his ends by holding up the public, regardless of the merit of his cause--means to go through with it. But in that kind of fight it will be labor, and not the public, which will get hurt in the end.

Wrong Time

Probe of Defense Program Might Give Hitler Aid

The House Tuesday turned down a proposal by Representative Cox of Georgia to set up a committee to investigate the national defense program. And rightly.

The identity of the sponsor of the proposal was enough to condemn it. Cox is one of the most bitter Roosevelt-haters in the nation, and his purpose was almost certainly to embarrass the President.

But in any case the scheme deserved to be killed. That is not to suggest that there may not be cause for investigation. There has certainly been a great deal of profiteering on the part of firms and contractors--a shameful thing. And it has been openly suggested that there has even been fraud.

All this will deserve to be looked into after the crisis is past, and both crooks (if any) and profiteers should be so rapidly punished that nobody will ever again dare to take such advantage of the nation's need.

Just now, however, an investigation of the sort would be highly out of order.

It would be certain to breed undue suspicion and dissension at home. And moreover, it would be observed with great satisfaction in the Axis capitals. Hitler wants nothing better than color of proof that the democracies are honeycombed with graft, corruption and unchecked greed.

Meantime, however, drastic legislation to deal with the profiteers and crooks (if any) is in order. And Congress should take advantage of Mr. Roosevelt's offer to let a small committee know privately all that is being done.

Vague Line

Legislature Vainly Seeks Way To Distinguish Wines

Yesterday the Senate at Raleigh adopted, by a vote of 28 to 8, an amendment to the fortified wine bill which would have allowed port, sherry and muscatel wines with an alcohol content of up to twenty per cent to be sold in "grocery stores and Grade A hotels" in the dry counties.

Temporary Chairman Larkins ruled that the amendment was "material" and set the bill back to first reading. Then the Senate, fearing this would mean that the measure would not pass at this session at all, withdrew the amendment. Hence the question raised by the change is now purely academic and is likely to remain so for this session of the Legislature. Nevertheless, it is worth notice.

It is a pity that there is not some way to distinguish between honest fortified wines, like good sherry and port and muscatel, and poisons masquerading under their names. All the cheap concoctions of raw alcohol, water and coloring matter which are consumed in great quantities by the least restrained elements in North Carolina call themselves sherry and port and muscatel. And if the amendment had stood, it would have meant that things would remain exactly as they now are, save that the trade would be transferred from wine shops to grocery stores. Indeed, we should probably have had wine stores rapidly turning to masquerading themselves as grocery stores.

The very passage of this amendment testifies to a desire to make a distinction in favor of honest sherry, port and muscatel--all good wines. But at present there seems to be no standard save of price, which is scarcely one the Legislature could frankly adopt.

The Whistler

Mr. Gayda Tries Bravely To Keep Up a Front

Mr. Virginio Gayda, Mussolini's stooge editor, is a great whistler in the dark.

When Bardia fell, for instance, he immediately announced that it was only a temporary set-back and that the Italian heroes would in very short order turn the tables and drive resistlessly through to Suez--heave the British bodily out of Egypt.

All along he has been sadly concerned about the Lease-Lend Bill. In one and the same breath he has constantly threatened and cajoled the United States.

The Axis, he bleated, had no designs on America. He appealed to reason. The United States, if it were good, could count on being given a large amount of the British Empire when the Axis set down to carve it up. He was prepared, indeed, to say that the United States could have all the British possessions in this hemisphere. But if the United States persisted--then the mighty Italian heroes and their Nazi chums would do the most dreadful things to the United States.

Saturday he saw his worst forebodings realized when the Lease-Lend Bill finally passed the Senate. And this week he was whistling hard--very hard--trying to keep up his own courage even more than that of the sagging Italian people.

There was, he said plaintively, a very great difference between passing a law and organizing factories. And even if the United States did produce the goods, they'd never reach Britain. Nothing had really been changed. The Axis was sure to win anyhow.

Mr. Gayda should turn back to the files of the German newspapers for April, 1917. They said exactly what Mr. Gayda is saying.


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