The Charlotte News

Wednesday, August 6, 1941


Site Ed. Note: "A Rumor", as well as a piece on the front page, discuss the possibility that Roosevelt and Churchill held a secret meeting the day before. The rumor was true, even if the participants were still en route, the meeting to be held at Placentia in Newfoundland, due to begin August 9 and continue through August 12. The President arrived aboard the Augusta and the Prime Minister, aboard the new Prince of Wales. From the first meeting of the two as leaders of their respective governments, came the Atlantic Charter, setting forth the mutual understanding of the British Government, the Dutch Government, and the United States Government that any further aggression by the Japanese in the Pacific would necessitate counter-measures which "might" result in open warfare. (Today's front page tells of the possibility of aggression by the Japanese in Thailand, and the warning of both the State Department and Britain's Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, against it.) The final draft version of the charter, signed August 12, was in more generalized language, eschewing territorial acquisition, reaffirming resolve to stop Hitler's aggression, finally hearkening back to two of the four freedoms, as set forth by FDR in his State of the Union address to Congress January 6, to be extended to all nations, as well as the hope expressed for the future of burdens being lightened.

The meeting also affirmed informal assurances that the British intended by September 15 to occupy the Canary Islands to insure that further occupation of Spain and Portugal by Hitler would not leave Gibraltar alone without backup positions as a guardian of the Mediterranean and South Atlantic. As the British navy would be preoccupied in this operation, the United States, after receiving a formal request from Portugal, would undertake to occupy the Azores, as Britain laid down a naval cordon to Portugal to prevent Nazi ships and submarines from preventing this action. The British then would also occupy the Cape Verdes, until such time as the United States could take over the occupation.

It was jointly decided that, upon his return to Washington, the President would inform the Japanese Ambassador that no further aggression would be acceptable in the Pacific and that Japanese troops must be removed from French Indochina. Capitulation to these terms would enable the United States at least to entertain the points sought by the Japanese, even if deemed unacceptable at present, that is, a resumption of normalized trade with the United States, release of Japan's frozen assets in the United States, as well as lifting other trade sanctions, and generally leaving Japan to pursue its expansionist war in China. It was hoped that by extending to Japan such face-saving terms, war might be averted for at least another thirty days.

While "Prediction" informs us that Fiorello La Guardia was suggesting overly optimistically that he believed the war in Europe would reach armistice by March, it was very clear to the participants in the Atlantic meeting that the distinctly clear and present horizon of war in the Pacific, one involving the United States, was extant.

In any event, that two old naval men would choose Placentia for their first official meeting was not at all surprising.

The next meeting would be in late December, 1941 through mid-January, in Washington. The third meeting would start at Hyde Park, N.Y., at the Roosevelt home, June 20, 1942, then to Washington the following day, and thence to Camp Jackson, S.C. The fourth conference would be at Casablanca in mid-January, 1943, to plan the Sicily invasion and Italian campaign, and lay the groundwork for D-Day, still over sixteen months away. They would meet again in both May and August, 1943, to plan further D-Day and joint Pacific operations. During the may visit, Churchill would address a joint session of Congress. In November, they would confer in Cairo with Chiang Kai-Shek, obviously to discuss the war in China. From there, they immediately went to Teheran for the first meeting with Stalin, to coordinate a pincer movement on Germany as well as discuss post-war cooperation. They then returned to Cairo on the same junket and met with the President of Turkey. In September, 1944, they met in Quebec to discuss postwar division of Germany, and the planned occupation of the west sector by Great Britain and the United States. The Free French were not yet included in discussions. The ninth and final meeting would include Stalin again, at Yalta in early February, 1945. Roosevelt appeared nearly ghostly by these last two months of his life, his blanketed legs betraying an increasingly feeble physical constitution. The conference would stress postwar cooperation, creation of the United Nations, and the conditions upon which the Soviet Union would enter the Pacific war. By the last meeting of the War, Potsdam in late July and early August, just before the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, Truman had acceded to the Presidency after Roosevelt's death April 12 at the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia.

But backing up again to this day, the front page cries out the fact that the German information agency, DNB, had proclaimed that four million Russian soldiers had been killed in the previous 45 days since the invasion began--that being about 57% of all the military deaths suffered by the Soviet Union during the entire war. Not likely. Things in fact were slowing down considerably with the Nazi putsch, and the prediction of a quick end after three weeks had proved itself fanciful nonsense. The siege which came to be was beginning to be more evident as a likelihood as the days rolled on without capture of any major objective, and as the Russians fought fiercely to the death in defense of their familiar domestic turf. Hitler was quickly learning the lesson of Napoleon, and that the modern machinery of war made little difference in resolving the ultimate flaw in such a plan.

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