The Charlotte News

Wednesday, August 30, 1939



Site Ed. Note: The following telegram, without reply, was wired to Hitler by FDR on August 24, 1939:

In the message which I sent to you on April 14 last I stated that it appeared to me that the leaders of great nations had it in their power to liberate their peoples from the disaster that impended, but that unless the effort were immediately made with good will on all sides to find a peaceful and constructive solution of existing controversies, the crisis which the world was confronting must end in catastrophe. Today that catastrophe appears to be very near at hand indeed.

To the message which I sent to you last April I have received no reply, but because of my confident belief that the cause of world peace-which is the cause of humanity itself-rises above all other considerations, I am again addressing myself to you with the hope "that the war which impends and the consequent disaster to all peoples everywhere may yet be averted.

I therefore urge with all earnestness--and I am likewise urging the President of the Republic of Poland-that the Governments of Germany and of Poland agree by common accord to refrain from positive act of hostility for a reasonable and stipulated period, that they agree likewise by common accord to solve the controversies which have arisen between them by one of the three following methods: first, by direct negotiation; second, by submission of these controversies to an impartial arbitration in which they can both have confidence; or, third, that they agree to the solution of these controversies through the procedure of conciliation, selecting as conciliator or moderator a national of one of the traditionally neutral states of Europe, or a national of one of the American republics which are all of them free from any connection with or participation in European political affairs.

Both Poland and Germany being sovereign governments, it is understood, of course, that upon resort to any one of the alternatives I suggest, each nation will agree to accord complete respect to the independence and territorial integrity of the other.

The people of the United States are as one in their opposition to policies of military conquest and domination. They are as one in rejecting the thesis that any ruler, or any people, possess the right achieve their ends or objectives through the taking of action which will plunge countless millions of people into war and which will bring distress and suffering to every nation of the world, belligerent and neutral, when such ends and objectives, so far as they are just and reasonable, can be satisfied through processes of peaceful negotiation or by resort to judicial arbitration.

I appeal to you in the name of the people of the United States, and I believe in the name of peace-loving men and women everywhere, to agree to the solution of the controversies existing between your Government and that of Poland through the adoption of one of the alternative methods I have proposed. I need hardly reiterate that should the Governments of Germany and of Poland be willing to solve their differences in the peaceful manner suggested, the Government of the United States still stands prepared to contribute its share to the solution of the problems which are endangering world peace in the form set forth in my message of April 14.


The same day, he wired to President Moscicki of Poland the following:

The manifest gravity of the existing crisis imposes the urgent obligation upon all to examine every possible means which might prevent the outbreak of a general war. With this in mind I feel justified in suggesting that certain possible avenues of solution be considered. [Follows the three methods described in the third paragraph of the above telegram to Hitler.]

Should you determine to attempt a solution by any of these methods you are assured of the earnest and complete sympathy of the United States and of their people. During exploration of the avenues I appeal to you, as I have likewise appealed to the Government of the German Reich, to agree to refrain from any positive act of hostility.

It is, I think, well known to you that, speaking on behalf of the United States, I have exerted, and will continue to exert, every influence on behalf of peace. The rank and file of the population of every nation-large and small-want peace. They do not seek military conquest. They recognise that disputes, claims and counter-claims will always arise from time to time between nations, but that all such controversies, without exception, can be solved by a peaceful procedure, if the will on both sides exists so to do.


The Polish President then responded the same date:

I appreciate the noble message which your Excellency has been kind enough to send me. I should like to emphasise that the Polish Government have ever considered direct talks between Governments to be the most suitable method of resolving difficulties which may arise between States. We consider that this method is all the more suitable where neighbouring States are concerned. On the basis of these principles Poland concluded non-aggression pacts with Germany and Russia. We consider also that the method of conciliation through the intermediary of a disinterested and impartial third party is a just method of resolving differences which have been created between nations.

Although I clearly wish to avoid even the appearance of desiring to profit by this occasion to raise points of litigation, I deem it my duty, nevertheless, to make clear that in the present crisis it is not Poland which is formulating demands and demanding concessions of any other State. It is, therefore, perfectly natural that Poland should hold aloof from any action of this kind, direct or indirect. I would like to close by expressing my ardent wish that your message of peace may contribute to a general appeasement which is so necessary to enable the nations once more to regain the blessed path of progress and civilisation.

Then, FDR sent a second message to Hitler, also on August 25:

I have this hour received from the President of Poland a reply to the message which I addressed to your Excellency and to him last night.

[Text of Moscicki's above message follows.]

Your Excellency has repeatedly publicly stated that the aims and objects sought by the German Reich were just and reasonable.

In his reply to my message the President of Poland has made it plain that the Polish Government is willing, upon the basis set forth in my message, to agree to solve the controversy which has arisen between the Republic of Poland and the German Reich by direct negotiation or the process of conciliation.

Countless human lives can yet be saved and hope may still be restored that the nations of the modern world may even now construct the foundation for a peaceful and happier relationship, if you and the Government of the German Reich will agree to the pacific means of settlement accepted by the Government of Poland. All the world prays that Germany, too, will accept.


On August 24, newly installed Pope Pius XII, a controversial Pope during World War II for not enough openly condemning the atrocities of the Nazis, but who nevertheless in his first encyclical in late October would condemn totalitarianism (see "Omission"), had delivered a radio message, appealing for peace:

Once again a critical hour strikes for the great human family; an hour of tremendous deliberations, towards which our heart cannot be indifferent and from which our spiritual authority, which comes to us from God to lead souls in the ways of justice and of peace must not hold itself aloof.

Behold us then with all of you, who in this moment are carrying the burden of so great a responsibility, in order that through our voice you may hear the voice of that Christ from Whom the world received the most exalted example of living, and in whom millions and millions of souls repose their trust in a crisis in which His word alone is capable of mastering all the tumultuous disturbances of the earth.

Behold us with you, leaders of peoples, men of State and men of arms, writers, orators of the radio and of the public rostrum and all those others who have the power to influence the thought and action of their fellow-men for whose destiny they are responsible.

We, armed only with the word of Truth and standing above all public disputes and passions, speak to you in the name of God from "Whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named"--in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who desired that all men be brothers--in the name of the Holy Ghost, Gift of God most High, inexhaustible source of love in the hearts of men.

To-day, notwithstanding our repeated exhortations and our very particular interest, the fear of bloody international conflict becomes more excruciating; to-day, when the tension of minds seems to have arrived at such a pass as to make the outbreak of the awful scourge of war appear imminent, we direct with paternal feeling a new and more heartfelt appeal to those in power and to their peoples: to the former that, laying aside accusations, threats, causes of mutual distrust, they may attempt to resolve their present differences with the sole means suitable thereto, namely, by reciprocal and trusting agreements; to the latter that in calm tranquillity, without disordered agitation they may encourage the peaceful efforts of those who govern them.

It is by force of reason and not by force of arms that Justice makes progress; and empires which are not founded on Justice are not blessed by God. Statesmanship emancipated from morality betrays those very ones who would have it so.

The danger is imminent but there is yet time.

Nothing is lost with peace; all may be with war. Let men return to mutual understanding. Let them begin negotiations anew. Conferring with goodwill and with respect for reciprocal rights they will find that to sincere and conscientious negotiators, an honourable solution is never precluded.

They will feel a sense of greatness--in the true sense of the word--if by silencing the voices of passion, be it collective or private, and by leaving to reason its rightful rule, they will have spared the blood of their fellow men and saved their country from ruin.

May the Almighty grant that the voice of this Father of the Christian family, of this Servant of servants, who bears amongst men, unworthily, indeed, but nevertheless really, the person, the voice and the authority of Jesus Christ, find in the minds and in the hearts of men a ready and willing reception.

May the strong hear us that they may not become weak through injustice, may the powerful hear us if they desire that their power be not a destruction but rather a protection for their peoples and a safeguard to tranquillity in public order and in labour.

We beseech them by the blood of Christ, whose conquering force in the world was His mildness in life and in death. And beseeching them we know and we feel that we have with us all those who are upright of heart; all those who hunger and thirst after justice all those who already suffer every sorrow through the evils of life. We have with us the heart of mothers which beats as one with ours; the fathers who would be obliged to abandon their families; the lowly who labour and do not understand; the innocent upon whom weighs heavily the awful threat; the young men, generous knights of the purest and noblest ideals. And with us also is the soul of this ancient Europe which was the product of the faith and of Christian genius. With us all humanity seeks justice, bread, freedom; not steel which kills and destroys. With us that Christ, Who has made His one solemn commandment--Love of One's Brother--the very substance of His religion and the promise of salvation for individuals and for nations.

Recalling finally that human efforts are of no avail without Divine assistance, we invite all to raise their eyes to Heaven and to beseech the Lord with fervent prayer that His divine grace descend in abundance upon this world in its upheaval, placate dissensions, reconcile hearts and evoke the resplendent dawn of a more serene future.

To this end and with this hope we impart to all, from the heart, our paternal Benediction.

Unfortunately, to the little man in Berlin, Lord of the Nibelungen, it all fell on deaf eyes.

On the Farms

War Talk Or Not, Cotton Has Got To Be Picked

All during the strenuous times in Europe, work on Mecklenburg farms has gone right along. And yesterday County Agent Oscar Phillips found time to report that Mecklenburg would pick a great deal less cotton this year than it had picked ten years ago, but that it would make more money. Net, that is.

In 1929, 67, 627 acres were planted to cotton, with a crop of 25,197 bales. This year the acreage is approximately 22,500, a decrease of a third from 1929, whereas the crop is estimated at upwards of 13,000 bales, a decrease of only half.

Which means that where Mecklenburg farmers used to get little more than a third of a bale per acre, they are now harvesting better than about half a bale. And saving money that used to go for fertilizer, too. Building up the richness of their soil with humus crops, instead of depleting it with cotton.

Ah, well: it isn't very exciting, this news about acres and bales and soil content. But it's probably of more direct consequence to Mecklenburg's farm population than what Daladier said to Hitler and what Hitler replied to Daladier. And it is certainly much cheerier sounding.


Not Scared

Our Letters Showed People Have Confidence In FDR

From letters to the editor the two preceding weeks about "all that money" the New Deal spends, we got what must have been a pretty representative cross-section of the public mind. Having tabulated the opinions, we find that twice as many people approved as are scared.

Some approve with instinctive misgivings, to be sure, but for the most part they think it's going to turn out to everybody's advantage.

"The country is fundamentally sound in every respect." [Mr. Hoover wore those words out in 1931 and 1932.]

"Self-appointed saviors now hold their noses when America decides to spend a few dollars to fight a war of much more importance than the one we PAID for in 1918." [We haven't finished paying for it yet, not by a long shot. That's what sometimes scares us. Suppose we should have to fight another now?]

"Was not the moral value of the nation worth a mere twenty billions for peaceful purposes as compared to forty billions spent for war?" [Sure, but what is spending got to do with moral value?]

"The idea that our children will have to pay for the spending is foolish. Our children will not pay off these bonds, because they will be merely taking the money that they pay for taxes out of one pocket and putting the money that they received for the bonds in the other." [Ah; the specious "we-owe-it-to-ourselves"theory. How many bonds you got put away, Mister? And if you've already paid for them once in cash, and to redeem them are going to have to pay again in taxes, where do you come out?]

But that is beside the point. Popular opinion, we found, heavily approved "all that spending." It is as well, for the spending still goes on and on and on, as anyone may see simply by consulting the daily report of Mr. Morgenthau's Treasury.


Two Systems

Farmers And Gov't. Compete For Services Of Unemployed

The average man's attitude about relief probably sums up to this: that nobody who can't get work should be allowed to suffer, and that as long as jobs are begging no able-bodied person should get relief.

That philosophy, however, is easier uttered than practiced. Look at what's happening in local relief circles.

Last month all WPA workers who had been on the rolls for 18 months or more were discharged, told to go and look for private employment and, in case they didn't find it, to come back in 30 days. The time was up last week, and they came back in droves.

[It would be interesting and enlightening to know: (1) how they managed to live in the interval, and (2) how diligently they looked for work.]

At any rate, they are back, most all of them, we judge, being investigated all over again as to their eligibility for relief. And it so happens that the cotton-picking season is about to open up, which caused the Welfare Superintendent to invite farmers needing hands or any body needing help to come down to the Welfare Building and interview these relief applicants.

But WPA is far preferable, both as to hours and wages, to cotton picking. Besides, a cotton picking job might last only a few days, during which time all the WPA jobs would have been given out.

It's all highly involved, you see: two systems running side by side, each competing with the other for labor. And men and women wanting the better, longer jobs, and who can honestly blame them for that?


Peace Prospect

Hitler Is Plainly Afraid, But Does He Really Retreat?

The case in Europe today is different from that of a year ago. Then Adolf Hitler sat on his throne at Berchtesgaden and issued announcements of what he was going to do, regardless, as absolute as Attila or Genghis or Tamerlane or Theodoric. The head of the proud British Empire came rushing to him to beg for peace, and could not have it save on his own absolute terms. And they say that, at Munich, he lectured and stormed at the chieftains of England and France as though they had been petty lords of the Frankish realm before Charlemagne.

But this time--Frederick Kuhn reports in The New York Times that he is still storming and insulting; that he roared at Neville Henderson when he called him in last week. But that was probably only his rage at being deprived of his grandeur. For this time it was Adolf Hitler and not the British chief who had taken the initiative in a move to prevent war. He had waited and waited, and Chamberlain had not come as he had expected. And Adolf Hitler was beginning to be uneasy. Maybe England did mean it, maybe... He had ordered an attack on Poland, they say, and England had not budged. And Adolf Hitler, sitting in his Chancellery, remembered Napoleon, no doubt, and reflected that it would not be pleasant to die on a gallows. And so he has taken the initiative in making proposals for peaceful solution.

Nevertheless, it probably would be fatuous to suppose that Hitler has abandoned his objectives, is prepared to eat crow, and that peace is really in sight.

As this is written, his demands to London are not known, but the dispatches from Berlin are saying that German officials are making it plain that the stipulation for the cession of Danzig and the Corridor is "irrevocable." If so, then Hitler is only playing for time, in the hope that the war of nerves will eventually crack the will of England and lead to another Munich.

He is in a box. The taking of Danzig and the Corridor is precisely the thing that Poland and her Allies, England and France, are out to resist, for it means the death of Poland. And if he has to fight England and France, he must win this war quickly or the price is the utter destruction of his country and the gallows for himself and his gang. So he hopes desperately somehow to persuade England to let him go ahead and deal with Poland single-handed, in return for his entirely worthless promises to enter into the "wide understanding" with England which has been the consuming dream of Neville Chamberlain, as it was the dream of Austen Chamberlain before him.

But it is probably that his cunning has finally defeated itself. If Neville Chamberlain has any memory, he must recall that it was just such blandishments which were used before and at Munich. And he has had ample demonstration of the worthlessness of Hitler's promises--of the fact that the fellow is not to be dealt with as civilized men are dealt with but only as though he were one of those half-naked German barbarians described by Caesar and Tacitus.

In Europe today, there seems but one single reasonable prospect for peace--the exceedingly remote chance that Hitler can be made to back down before the world. There is some talk in England of saving his face by giving him a small colony somewhere. It might be worth it. But even that is doubtful. For as long as he gains by blackmailing the world by the threat of war, he is apt to keep it up. And that sort of condition is almost as intolerable as war.


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