The Charlotte News

Monday, April 24, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We include the Hugh Johnson piece, proposing Hitler's hypothetical reply to FDR's peace proposal of April 14, 1939, a hypothetical reply which irritated Cash's sense of accurate history, as he sets straight in "Wilson and Germany". It is the type of piece which caused Cash increasingly to rail bitterly against the General and his isolationist stances, especially as time passed on toward 1941.

What Hitler Could Reply

By Hugh S. Johnson

Washington.--The President's appeal put Hitler on the spot. It said, in effect: "If you will give up force as an instrument of diplomacy, I will propose a conference on disarmament and trade." There was a further hint--"If you don't, we may take sides." Addled Adolf's answer will not be as follows:

"German resistance in 1918 was broken on the home front largely by the idealism and eloquence of President Wilson. Except for that we could have continued to fight. We might have won. Mr. Wilson promised no reprisals--no war on the German people. So we laid down our arms and went to Versailles. There we were forced by arms to accept a peace under which we could not live--an enslavement of 60 million people. Mr. Wilson asked for nothing for your country. But Britain and France, whom you now favor, betrayed his high purposes. He accepted this vengeful treaty and let them take what they could of our possessions--let them attempt to encircle us with hostile steel and lay upon our backs an impossible tribute of indefinite duration.


"He was persuaded to permit this because he relied for our protection on his proposed new reign of reason and restraint throughout the world--his idealistic League of Nations. This reliance failed in his own house. Your country rejected it. Without your country in the League it was nothing. Without the League, the Treaty of Versailles became for us a new echo of an old barbarism--"woe to the vanquished." Our colonies were gone, our country dismembered, our industrial unit ruined, our natural national aspirations permanently denied.

"Time and again in our helplessness we appealed for relief. Because we had no force we were not heard. Finally, in desperation, we began to arm, believing that even though, in their military superiority, England and France would not listen, perhaps in an armed equality we might be heard.


"It has proved true. Solely because we prepared the instrument of force, not only are England and France ready to discuss justice but, also, for the first time since Versailles, your country intervenes.

"We understand that your long indifference during our desperate years was due to your Monroe Doctrine--that you are not concerned in European affairs. We cannot understand why, if you could not then be concerned for us, you are now concerned against us.

"You ask us to abandon the only aid that got us a hearing and to sit with other nations to discuss disarmament and trade. In this you promise nothing. I do not understand that your letter even suggests any rectification of the remaining inequities of Versailles or any return to Mr. Wilson's principles of self-determination. On the contrary, you seem to propose to defend the spoils of the land-grabbing powers of 1919.


"If we are to sit again on a basis of disarmament with our despoilers, in what respect could we expect better treatment from them now than we had then? More pertinent still, what support or fairness can we expect from you? Are you not already aligned against us? Have you not publicly tried and condemned our case in advance? You do not appear to us to speak as a mediator but as an advocate against us.

"I ask myself, if you were Adolf Hitler and I were Franklin Roosevelt, would you accept this offer? I know that you would not.

"I can answer you only thus: if promptly and with no restriction on sovereign rights of defense and military preparedness, a conference can be arranged through your good offices among all interested powers for the rectification of all factors disturbing peace, including old territorial seizures, the Third Reich will gladly accept any path to her proper national aspiration that voids war."

No, such will not be Adolf's answer but, if it were, who would then be on the spot?

Two Down

Zoo Maintains Hazard For Nice Old Elephants

Something is getting the Brooklyn Zoo's elephants. Twice recently derricks have had to be brought in to hoist a two-ton elephant from the bottom of a moat 25 feet deep where it had fallen or been pushed. And plucking an elephant out of a 25-foot moat is an uphill haul.

Hilda had been pushed. Big Bill, her bull-pen mate, did it some months ago, though whether with malice or swelling elephantine playfulness has never been determined. Bill hasn't squealed. Hilda, at any rate, is dead. And now Big Bill lies injured, maybe with a fractured hip. He fell over into the moat reaching out for peanuts which children were tossing to him.

And surely by this time it has occurred to the board of managers of the Brooklyn Zoo that there must be some connection between the casualty rate among its elephants and that moat. The least they can do would be to put up a sign saying, Watch Your Step!

Wilson And Germany

Johnson Interpretation Of Facts In the Case Will Not Stand Up Under Logical Analysis

It is a little startling to find General Johnson in his column for today swallowing one of Adolf Hitler's main contentions in "Mein Kampf," hook, line and sinker. Germany, you will observe, did not lose the war. She was simply so taken with Mr. Wilson's dream of a peace in which all nations should begin to live together in amity that she just up and decided to quit, trusting fully in the Wilson promises.

The notion does not fit very well with the established facts. From July 18, 1918, the Germans had been steadily retreating. Generally in good order, yes, but not always. On August 8 the German nerve had cracked up utterly, and only the failure of the Allied command to push its advantage soon enough saved Ludendorff's army from a major disaster. In the taking of the St. Mihiel sector, that army had been badly hustled, too. And from the middle of August forward Ludendorff had been urging Berlin to ask an armistice. On the 17th day of that month the Kaiser himself had said that the game was up. Later, indeed, Ludendorff changed his mind. But by the end of September he had changed it again. On the 29th he imperatively demanded an appeal for an armistice on the ground precisely that "I want to save my armies." And when Prince Max of Baden, appointed to present the request to the Allied countries, asked for two weeks or eight days or five or two to make out his case, the General would not hear of that, alleging that his position was so desperate that the Allied forces might break completely through at any moment.

On October 3 the first request for an armistice came through. Because it assumed the tone of a conqueror and made demands rather than offers, Mr. Wilson summarily refused to have anything to do with it, and told Prince Max that thereafter all proposals for an armistice would have to be addressed directly to the military commanders who would have sole discretion in the case.

At the end of September, Bulgaria and Turkey went out of the war. On October 3, Austria went out. An Allied army prepared to strike Germany from behind, through Bavaria--a thing which faced Ludendorff with the necessity of having to pull off many divisions of troops from the Western front just when he needed them worst. The morale of his army was going fast, both because the troops themselves were hungry and defeated, and because of the stories they heard from home where the blockade had been extending starvation ever since 1916. Maybe they could have held out a good while longer. Maybe they couldn't. No one really knows. Hague, long after the war, thought they could have. So did Foch. But both were busy apologizing for themselves when they said it. At any rate, it is nonsense to suggest as General Johnson does, that they yet might have won. Germany's manpower was waning rapidly, while that of the Allied side was going up with the arrival of the Americans. And there was little food left to feed even the soldiers. On November 4, the revolution broke--not because of any promises of Mr. Wilson or any machinations of Jews, but because the last limit of human endurance had been reached.

And the Armistice signed on November 11 was essentially a dictated armistice. The German emissaries stood outside Foch's railway car, hat in hand, and waited while the Allied Generals within drew up the terms. Then they signed where they were told to sign. Mr. Wilson had nothing to do with it. And the Germans got no promises. They were a people who had capitulated of necessity. And not even Ludendorff dreamed of denying it until a good while afterward.

It can be argued, of course, that there was still a moral obligation on Wilson's part. Maybe so. Certainly, everybody in his senses will agree that the Versailles treaty was utterly stupid. And even more stupid was the choking to death of the Weimar Republic by the British and French politicians and the British, French and American bankers.

Nevertheless, Germany plainly had no moral right to demand consideration. She had dictated the Treaty of Brest Litovsk to Russia only the November before--a treaty that makes Versailles look like a nursery tale. And does anybody suppose that if Germany had been on the dealing instead of the receiving end that November day, she would have been kind? No one is so silly, of course. It would have been Brest Litovsk all over again. Morally, Germany has roundly deserved everything that ever happened to her. And vengeance ought to have been left off, not for Germany's sake, but for the world's sake--, because the thing simply couldn't be done without ending in the dreadful mess in which it stands now.

That Election

An Editorial Written Because It's A Custom

Election day seems somehow to call for editorial remark. Anyhow, it's an old editorial custom which sits uneasily on our conscience--though we couldn't say why.

For ourselves, we haven't much to say. We'd like to see John Wilkinson stay on the Council. He's the high type of business man who plainly ought to be represented there. And we wish John Durham had reconsidered and got his name on the ticket. But for the rest--.

Well, Ben Douglas has made a pretty good mayor, aside from that so-called "land deal." And the worst he seems to have been guilty of there was to forget that politicians had best be bound by the rule for Caesar's wife. It was all done in the open, and there is no reason to call it more than an unfortunate error of judgment. In general, however, he has given the city honest and efficient government. And Mr. Vogler, on the other hand, is an untried quantity. That is not to suggest that we are convinced that he wouldn't make a good Mayor. We rather suspect that he would. But it does remain to be proved. In any case, we shan't lie awake nights worrying about the result.

Gadfly To Bergdoll

Robert's Patriotic Ire Has Us Still A Little Puzzled

The Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds is considerably exercised by the case of Grover Cleveland Bergdoll, American draft dodger in the last war. Mr. Bergdoll, he assured the Senate recently, should under no circumstances be allowed to return to the United States from Germany: and if he did manage to return, then he ought to be given the works.

Well, we have no intention of rushing to defend Mr. Bergdoll. We have always been curious, however, as to what really explained his action. A draft-dodger who flew airplanes in the days before the war can hardly be accounted for on the score of cowardice. And for the fellow this much is to be said: he was deliberately picked out by the draft board as one to be made an example of, because of his wealth and because of his foolish taunting attitude. As a matter of fact, thousands of other men dodged the draft and got off immeasurably lighter than he has got off already.

But let Bergdoll go. We shall not worry if he is barred out or hurried off to a jail. What really interests us is the source of the Hon. Robert's intense feeling about him. We can understand the feeling of the soldiers in the matter. After all when they remember their sacrifices for the country, it is natural for them to resent any man who defiantly refused to do his part. But Robert? As we have said before now, the most assiduous research on our part fails to unearth a military hero named Robert Rice Reynolds who fit and bled or even drilled for his country in that war.



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