Friday, May 22, 2015

1943. The Complete Moscow Broadcasts

Bill Downs' Reports and Articles From Moscow
The April 27, 1945 front page of The New York World-Telegram

This is a compilation of more than 70 broadcast transcripts and articles written in 1943 by Bill Downs in Moscow.

January 20, 1943: The women doing the labor in Moscow
"By closely observing this daily battle against the snow, you can pretty well tell how all of Moscow feels about things. When the Red Army isn't doing so well, this army of women prod viciously at the ice. They glare at pedestrians and at each other. They don't do much talking, even when they stop for a breather."

January 22, 1943: Life during the Siege of Leningrad
"No one knows what Leningrad is suffering tonight. It is not likely that the German command is letting Russia's greatest seaport city sleep while the Red Army continues its dirty job of throwing German soldiers out of pillbox after pillbox."

January 23 to May 13: The turning point of the war in Europe
"It is a cheering sign that there are no such foolish arguments or discussions going on in Moscow tonight such as those which arose in America after the last war—you know the old argument that 'we won the war for the Allies.' Russians simply don't think that way. After what the Soviet Union has suffered, the people of Russia don't care to waste time talking about who won what. It has become pretty clear over here that unless everyone puts ever ounce of fight and energy into this war, no one is going to be able to talk about winning anything for a long, long time."

January 24, 1943: The Red Army pushes back against the encirclement of Leningrad
"During their sixteen month encirclement of Leningrad, the Germans built a three-to-five mile zone of concentrated Siegfried Line. It was a military nightmare. First there was row after row of coiled barbed wire. Then came the minefields."

January 26 to February 23, 1943: Decimating the Axis forces
"Hitler calls his great Russian winter retreat an 'elastic defense.' It is fairly certain he is going to try to put some snap into it this spring. But he's working with synthetic material that he can only stretch so far. Hitler's ersatz allies have already been badly broken under the strain."

January 1943: Comparing wartime Moscow and London
"You see in the people of Moscow the same determined, grim look that you could see in the brave citizens of London during their heaviest bombings. And when a Muscovite looks grim, I mean he really looks grim."

February 8 to February 9, 1943: The aftermath in Stalingrad
"There are sights and sounds and smells in and around Stalingrad that make you want to weep, and make you want to shout and make you just plain sick to your stomach."

February 9, 1943: German Field Marshal Paulus in custody after Stalingrad
"Typical of the daring, devil-may-care spirit of these new Red Army forces was the almost comic capture of Field Marshal Von Paulus. Von Paulus, the only German field marshal ever to be made a prisoner of war, was taken after initial negotiations conducted by a 21-year-old Red Army first lieutenant."

February 9 to April 28, 1943: Stories from the Eastern Front
"At one point in the Stalingrad line, the German and Russian soldiers used to amuse themselves by shouting insults back and forth to each other. My Russian friend said that one German soldier shouted across the lines and offered to exchange his automatic rifle for a Red Army fur cap."

February 19-20, 1943: Moscow schoolkids make predictions about a second front
"So I decided I would beat them to the draw. I asked the class just how and where they thought a second front should be started."

February 22, 1943: The 25th anniversary of Red Army Day
"The letters that the Russian kids write to the soldiers usually congratulate the men on the 25th anniversary and urge them to continue the stuffing out of the Germans. And often the letters end up with a promise that, as a token of appreciation, the schoolchildren will see that they make better grades and stop whispering in classrooms."

February 27 to March 16: The Nazi occupation of Kharkov and the colonization of Ukraine
"During the first days of the occupation about 18,000 people were executed. Bodies hanging from balconies were a common sight. Among these 18,000 executed were about 10,000 Jews—men, women, and children—who were taken nine miles out of the city, shot and buried in a big ditch."

March 2, 1943: The Soviet Union's winter offensive after Stalingrad
"The Germans didn't leave Rzhev voluntarily. This is shown by the great amount of equipment they left behind. They were kicked out of Rzhev in a blow that eliminated the main Axis threat to Moscow."

March 5, 1943: The Red Army's "tank desant" tactics
"This is the formation of groups of "hitchhike troops" specially trained to operate mobile tank forces which have acted as spearheads for the Russian drive westward."

March 7, 1943: Joseph Stalin names himself Marshal of the Soviet Union
"Premier Stalin now holds the position of Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the USSR. He also is Chairman of the State Defense Committee, the People's Commissar of Defense, and Chairman of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party."

March 8, 1943: Ambiguity in Russian-American relations
"As he said in his statement tonight, the American people realize and sympathize with the stupendous courage and effort with which the Russian people have met the Axis onslaught. But, he said, the Russian people have little idea of the American's feeling for them."

March 19, 1943: The Nazi offensive is bogged down by the weather in Ukraine
"They sent a group of tanks across to attack some Russian fortifications on the left bank. When the two loading tanks reached the middle of the stream, the ice suddenly gave way and they went through and were lost. The following tanks immediately retreated to safety."

March 21 to April 21, 1943: Soviet bombers fighting for air supremacy
"The Soviet bombers have proved just how impressive they are to the citizens of Königsberg and Danzig. And a lot of other German cities are going to find out this summer when flying weather gets better. The Russian bombing force is growing."

March 21 to May 23, 1943: The advent of spring in Russia—two censored reports
"We are told it is almost a certainty that Hitler will start the fighting this spring. But he is hesitating because this time he feels he must not fail. He must get this campaign rolling before he has to organize another to protect his 'European fortress' from a second front."

March 23, 1943: The State Stalin Prize
"The occasion for even hinting that these things exist was the first annual list of Stalin science awards. These awards range from $18,000 to $5,000, and are given to engineers, professors, and scientists who have distinguished themselves in Soviet science and industry for the past year."

March 24, 1943: The Red Army's death toll thus far
"[A]ccording to the comparative losses during the German counterattack, 2,936,000 Red Army men have died in defending their country during this fighting. But I must point out that this figure is based merely on one small fact from one small sector of the Russian front. But whether the figure is larger or smaller, 2,936,000 men lost in the cause of democracy gives the Allies of Russia something to think about—and throws new light on Russia's desire for a second front."

March 26, 1943: The Soviet Union waits for the Western Allies to open a second front in Europe
"When they learned that there was some Congressional opposition to extending the Lend-Lease agreement, they could not understand it. Their one question was always, 'If it helps to win the war, then why argue about it?'"

March 28, 1943: Soviet engineers work a miracle as the Nazis retreat
"And when the Germans were chased from the area, they did one of their most complete jobs of earth scorching along the Velikiye Luki-Moscow railroad. Every bridge was blown up. Switches and sidings were destroyed. In some places the Germans even burned the forest around some vital bridges so that the Russian engineers would have no material with which to reconstruct them."

April 2, 1943: The Nazis leave behind horrific booby traps
"He opened up the door and one cat jumped out. The second cat just started to leave the stove when the lieutenant pushed it back inside. On investigation, he found that the second cat had a string attached to one of its rear paws. The other end of the string was attached to the fuse in 25 pounds of high explosive."

April 3, 1943: The Red Army's massive winter offensive comes to an end
"In just 141 days of some of the bloodiest fighting that the world has ever witnessed, the Germans lost over 1,193,000 men in killed and captured."

April 6 to May 12, 1943: The Soviet commission on Nazi war crimes
"The report ends with the statement, 'These men must bear full responsibility and merited punishment for all these unprecedented atrocities.' And this morning's Izvestia editorial adds 'The Russian people will not forget.'"

April 8, 1943: Heroic Czechoslovak soldiers hold the line
"The Germans launched a counterattack. It was a big show, and sixty tanks appeared on one narrow sector opposite the dug-in Czech troops. A young lieutenant named Yarosh was in command on this sector. His field telephone rang, and Colonel Svoboda said the unit would have to hold out alone. There were no reinforcements to help the lieutenant stop the sixty tanks. The colonel's orders were 'it is impossible to retreat.'"

April 9, 1943: The Free French squadron fighting in Russia
"Many of them are veterans of the Fighting French air force in Britain. Here they operate under Russian command and have a great respect for the fighting abilities of the Russian fliers. One of them told me he was learning how the Soviet pilots ram German planes in combat. He said the Russians had developed a technique in which a pilot could knock the tail or wing off an enemy plane and do very little damage to his own ship."

April 1 to April 14, 1943: Censored broadcasts
"There was a fear that the correspondent could, by intonation, change the meaning of his report...When reading your dispatch on the air, there was always an English-speaking Communist broadcaster sitting alongside with his hand on the cut-out switch. If you unintentionally changed the grammar of the sentence, as sometimes happens, down would go the switch and you'd be off the air."

April 17 to May 28, 1943: The battle for the Kuban bridgehead
"It took forty minutes of inching forward through the mud on their stomachs before the Russian soldiers reached the first German lines. Then there was a period of furious and bitter hand-to-hand fighting before all the Germans were bayonetted out of their trenches."

April 19 to April 27, 1943: Soviet officials deny responsibility for the Katyn massacre
"The newspaper Pravda, organ of the Communist Party, this morning violently attacks the Polish government of General Sikorski for giving official cognizance to the German propaganda charges that the Soviet government allegedly murdered 10,000 Polish officers near Smolensk in 1940."

April 21, 1943: No time for fun in Moscow
"[T]here are no nightclubs or dance halls or anything like that in the capital of the Soviet Union. There is only one cocktail bar, and you have to stand in line to get into it. Occasionally some of the artist's clubs or other such organizations will throw a dance, but it's not very often."

April 21, 1943: Russians civilians train for air raids
"Moscow has not had a bombing for a year. Quite naturally the city is relaxed. People have forgotten where they put their gas masks. Fire watchers and shelter wardens have been more lax than they should be with Nazi bombers only a half hour's flight from the city."

April 21 to July 6, 1943: Film and theater in wartime Moscow
"In an exclusive Variety interview, Krapchenko said the wartime Moscow theatre is tending toward serious drama and tragedy."

April 23-24, 1943:  The air war in Crimea
"[T]he Germans more and more are putting Romanian troops into the vanguard of their local attacks. Thus the Romanians suffer the heaviest losses. The dispatch says that when the unlucky Romanians show a reluctance to attack, or when they appear on the verge of retreat, the German soldiers behind them liven their spirits with Tommy gun bullets. A good number of these Romanians have been killed by their own allies."

May 2, 1943: Stalin's cult of personality
"This week all over the Soviet Union, pictures of Josef Stalin are being displayed on every factory and office building in the country. It means that this week his picture is getting larger display and his name on more banners and posters and that he is getting more personal publicity than any man has ever received."

May 7, 1943: Soviet maskirovka
"No one is fooling down in the Caucasus tonight as the Red Army presses the Axis forces back to the Black Sea coast. But on the rest of the front there is a real war of nerves that, in plain deception, provides the greatest mystery show on earth. And strangest of all, these mystery tactics are good military practice."

May 13, 1943: The Russians react to the Allied victories in Tunisia
"The American and British and French troops in North Africa don't know it, but their heroism and sacrifices and courage have achieved something here in Russia that a thousand diplomats and a million words could never have done."

May 19, 1943: The American ambassador visits the ruins of Stalingrad
"Mr. Davies said he wished every American fighting man could have a look at the tragedy of Stalingrad before he went into battle against the Germans."

May 25, 1943: The Soviets throw a goodwill banquet for the British
"They represent an exchange of ideas—not between governments, but between peoples. Neither America, Britain, nor the Soviet Union is trying to impose ideas in this campaign for better cultural relations. That's what got Germany into trouble. If there is one thing that this war has proved, it is that it's much better to exchange ideas than it is to exchange bullets."

May 30, 1943: Western Allied bombing of Germany threatens morale on the Eastern Front
"The Anglo-American bombing of Germany is having a very real effect on the German soldier, who has been given the impossible job of defeating Russia. When a Fortress or a Liberator or a Lancaster drops a bomb on Berlin or Duisburg or Essen, this bomb not only smashes Nazi war production, it also smashes just one more grain of confidence and resistance in the morale of the Fritz on the Russian front who sooner or later hears that his hometown has taken it in the neck again."

June 7, 1943: "Red Justice"
"With the German attack of 1941 a decree was promulgated reclassifying murder, attempted murder, highway robbery, resistance to representatives of the government, and refusal to join the labor front as crimes subject to martial law."

June 17, 1943: "Bogdan the Elusive" in Ukraine
"Once, the Germans thought they had Bogdan. They carefully threw a cordon around his camp. When they finally closed in on the camp they found warm campfires, empty tin cans—and a goat. Around the neck of the goat was a note saying 'A hurried good-bye—but I'll be back.'"

June 19, 1943: The Russian perspective on Japanese imperialism
"'In May 1943, a serious reverse befell Japan,' the Russian expert says. 'In the Northern Pacific, American troops drove the Japanese out of Attu Island which, incidentally, the Japanese militarists prematurely gave a Japanese name.'"

June 25, 1943: Summertime fashion in Moscow
"The most popular summer footwear are sandals. I've seen some made out of worn out automobile tires. The tire is simply cut into the shape of a show. Another thickness is nailed onto the heel—two straps are attached—and there you have a perfectly good pair of summer shoes."

June 27, 1943: The Wehrmacht's lice epidemic
"The German command is trying to combat the louse that infests the invincible, Aryan Nazi soldier. They are using all kinds of propaganda. Soap is scarce in the German army, and propaganda has not been a very good substitute."

July 11, 1943: What are Hitler's ultimate plans for the new offensive?
"The third theory is that this present attack is the beginning of an all-out attack on the Soviet Union, with Hitler ignoring the impending second front and setting out once and for all in an attempt to defeat the Red Army. In this event, he would depend on his European defenses to protect his rear."

July 14, 1943: Axis espionage in Russia
"The business of spying is no longer a glamorous job of pumping a victim full of champagne and getting him to talk. Axis agents have been discovered disguised as beggars, as wounded Russian soldiers, as government officials, and a number of other things."

July 27, 1943: Russian play features heroic American war correspondent
"The correspondent is depicted as about 40, greyish, with an intense interest in getting the story but with little interest in taking a personal part in the war. He is constantly taking notes and snapping pictures and making what are, to the Russian mind, wisecracks. The author allows the correspondent to jibe the Russians about their love for tragedy, maintaining that Tolstoy should have ended 'War and Peace' with 'everyone loving everyone else.'"

August 13, 1943: The Bryansk partisans
"I sat next to Romashin during a lunch the Orel city government gave the correspondents. He told me that, if I wanted to turn him over to the Germans, I would be a rich man. The Germans know his home. To the person who can produce him dead or alive they will give 15,000 rubles, thirty acres of land, a house, one horse, and two cows."

August 14, 1943: The Red Army's high spirits
"These campfires are a beautiful sight. I saw them from an army headquarters on a height overlooking the Oka river valley. These fires, spotting the ridges and slopes of the rolling steppe, make an unforgettable sight, particularly if you look to the horizon and see the reflection of the burning ruins of Nazi occupation. Those peaceful looking army campfires are flames of vengeance. The big light on the horizon is reflected fear."

August 26, 1943: Downs tells of the curfew in Moscow
"While walking from the foreign office to the radio studio, a young soldier packing a very business-like rifle and bayonet stopped me and asked to see my documents. I handed him my official press card, the pass which allows me on the street during air raids, and my precious night pass. Everything was in order except for the night pass. It had run out and had to be replaced."

September 4, 1943: Tragedy on the Steppe Front
"We came to a little farm railroad called Maslova Pristan. Our convoy of jeeps stopped. An air raid had started someplace on the horizon. The ack-ack and bomb flashes lit up the skyline so brightly that it didn't seem real. If you saw it in the movies you would say it was too Hollywood; too overdone."

September 6, 1943: Ukrainians persevere in the wake of Nazi destruction
"The damage is so extensive that the occasional house that was new—unburned, without shell holes and not charred by fire—such scattered houses seemed almost to be showplaces. They stood out like the pyramids in a desert of destitution."

September 14, 1943: The Young Guard in Ukraine
"These high school students played a lot of tricks on the Germans, such as taking empty mine cases and planting them like booby traps. The Germans would worry for days over such tricks. They wired officers' cars so that when they stepped on the starters, the car would blow up. They cut the telephone lines, and always they put out their daily bulletin, carefully written by hand and passed among the people."

September 20, 1943: "Harvest of Death: Behind the Lines in Russia's Reconquered Villages"
"The jeep was blown a dozen feet off the road, turned over, and was almost torn in two. The driver escaped miraculously with only a wound in the back of his head. It was a freak mine that somehow hadn't gone off although hundreds of cars had driven over the spot on the road throughout the day."

December 6, 1943: The Babi Yar massacres
"The first foreign witnesses this week returned to Moscow from what are probably the most terrible two acres on earth—a series of desolate ravines in the Lukyanovka district three miles northwest of Kiev."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

1949. Stalingrad Prisoners Forced Into the East German People's Police

The Rise of the Volkspolizei
Police in West Berlin clash with the East German Volkspolizei at the border in Berlin, 1955. (Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) (source)

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 4, 1949

In February 1943, I was among a group of correspondents escorted by the Soviet government to have a firsthand look at the first major offensive victory the Red Army won in fighting the invincible German Wehrmacht.

It was at Stalingrad that we saw the smoking ruins of the Volga city, only four days after one of the great battles of history.

German and Russian corpses were still frozen life-like in the bitter cold. We were taken to see General Von Paulus and his staff, the defeated leaders of the German Sixth Army which had come all too close to making western Russia a Hitler colony.

Never was their such a ragtag army so completely beaten as were the Germans who failed at Stalingrad. Their clothing was in tatters. Many were wearing looted women's fur coats in an attempt to defeat the severe cold.

Altogether some 330,000 Germans, Italians, Hungarians, and Romanians were lost at Stalingrad. How many Germans were taken prisoner there is uncertain, but the estimate is more than 200,000.

I talked with some of these men at the time. They were a weary, dispirited lot—disillusioned, bitter, and hopeless. Most of them believed that they were walking to their deaths when Red Army guards led them over the snowy steppes toward isolated prisoner of war camps in eastern Russia. For many it was true.

In the fall of 1943 in Moscow we were to hear more of Von Paulus and his defeated men, in a different role this time. They showed up as members of what the Russian government called the "Free German Committee." The committee was used as a propaganda weapon at the time, with various former German soldiers broadcasting over the Russian radio to their fighting comrades—making statements in the Soviet government press and attacking Hitler and the Nazis and all the rest of it.

But it was plain even five years ago that the Soviet Union had plans for the German war prisoners who fell into her hands.

Today here in Germany we are beginning to see those plans unfold. I went to the communist-led meeting that proclaimed the Opera House government of East Berlin into power early last November. Among these groups who trudged, under orders, to that spontaneous gathering in Unter den Linden was a group of men who walked differently from the rest. They marched with soldierly swing and with drill-ground precision. They were in the uniform reminiscent of the old German army, grey-green except for the insignia and hats. They were not armed, but some appeared to be a little lost marching without guns.

I was told that this was the new "People's Police."

For the past three months, the propaganda from the Soviet zone of Germany has been speaking of this "People's Police." Sometimes it was called a "workers army" or labeled "proletarian activists."

The press of the American, British, and French zones of occupied Germany—including western Berlin, proceeded to scare themselves to death over what they saw as a traitorous, armed threat from the east.

A lot of claims were made—and passed on. The People's Police has been variously described as containing 250,000 men armed with tanks and artillery, and on the verge of striking westward to take over the western part of the country.

So much that was contradictory was reported about this so-called People's Police that I set out with a colleague to find the facts, or as close to the facts as I could get.

The fact that the People's Police exists in the Russian zone of Germany, there can be no doubt. But, instead of being a quarter of a million men, the more accurate estimate of the size of this force is between thirty and fifty thousand.

The Soviet government is organizing the police—careful not to label it an army—in violation of the Potsdam agreement. The core of the body is composed of former German prisoners of war in Russia, mostly men captured at Stalingrad. However, there is recruiting going on among young men in the Russian zone. A campaign, according to intelligence reports, that is failing to get very many volunteers.

The former war prisoners who join up in Russia undergo special indoctrination in Marxist political schools set up in the Soviet prison camps. The system works something like this:

Private Hans Schmidt, since his capture on the banks of the Volga, has managed to survive five years of Russian prisoner camps. But he is getting tired of chopping trees, building canals, and constructing roads for his Russian conquerors. He longs for home. His information about what happened to the outside world since Stalingrad is meager. He's convinced that Germany lost the war. He is skeptical about the communist propaganda that is the only form of news he has.

One day he hears there is a way to get back to Germany, and he receives the proposition: "Take a short course in Marxism, learn the fundamentals of communism, its political and economic philosophy, then return home as a policeman to protect your defeated people from the depredations of monopoly capitalism, decadent and warmongering democracies."

Hans Schmidt wants to get home, so he signs up.

Undoubtedly this system makes some good communists, but my German sources here say that life in a Russian prison camp gives little time for philosophical thought. The men who join—and stick—to the People's Police are mostly either opportunists, cynical Nazis, or just Germans whose only jobs have been military ones and who see the People's Police as the only instrument in which to practice their profession. They sign up for three years of service.

Schmidt, after completing his indoctrination, is shipped to a dispersal center in Germany, such as the one at Fürstenwalde forty miles east of Berlin. Many Schmidts desert when they get the chance.

Apparently such desertions were foreseen. So to keep Hans Schmidts in line, the People's Police has added another innovation, one which was common to both the Soviet and Nazi armies.

Each unit has its political commissar charged with making reports on individual members and keeping the flame of communism alive in the organization.

In the Hitler armies, these specially trained Nazis were called National Socialist leading officers. One report has it that many of the Wehrmacht National Socialist leading officers who kept the name of Hitler flaming in the hearts of German soldiers are now doing the same job for Stalin in the People's Police.

After arriving in the Fatherland, the recruits are assigned to units. There are a half dozen of these around Berlin, indicating the importance attached to this crisis city. The People's Police units—all carefully set up in military barracks—ring the city, such as the camp northeast of here in the town of Biesenthal, the one to the southwest in the village of Eichen, another northwest of Berlin at Nieder-Sachsenhausen, and to the southeast at Oberschöneweide. There is reported to be garrisons of People's Police inside Berlin itself totaling a thousand men.

At these camps the units receive further training, mostly in street fighting.

The People's Police has a table of organization that is strictly military. The units are divided into squads of sixteen men, nine of which are armed with Mauser rifles, three others with submachine guns, and the officers and administrative personnel carry pistols.

Police companies are comprised of one hundred and ten men. Each company has attached to it one heavy machine gun, in addition to the squadron arms I mentioned before.

The next larger unit, which varies in size according to the job assigned, would amount to what we would call a battalion in the American army. An interesting fact about this is that the old Nazi SS nomenclature is used. The battalions are called Standarten, just as Hitler used to call them. A Standarten may have a mortar unit attached to it, according to one report. Also perhaps an armored car. Some units are motorized for quick movement, with their own transport and communication vehicles such as motorcycles.

Headquarters of the People's Police is is in Leipzig. They operate under direct orders of the Soviet military command in Germany. The German head of the organization is General Walter von Seydlitz, former chief of staff of the German Sixth Army. General Von Paulus is often mentioned in connection with the organization, but his is more of a titular leadership. The last heard of Von Paulus was that he is supposed to be living in Moscow where he is an instructor in the Russian military academy there.

All of those military statistics make the so-called People's Police of the Soviet zone sound very ominous indeed. However, American military opinion here in Berlin does not seem particularly concerned. They point out that it is not in any sense a striking force. It is not armed or sufficiently large for any ambitious plan such as the taking of western Germany by force.

This speculation has developed from the events in Korea. There, as you know, the Russian troops announced their withdrawal, and immediately a communist-led section of the army attempted an uprising.

However, our political experts do not expect this pattern to be followed in Germany. The People's Police appears to be organized to protect an East German administration and preserve discipline in the population.

In this connection, the propaganda from the East in the past few months has been calling for the establishment of a unified German government, the signing of a peace treaty with this government, and then, one year later, the withdrawal of all occupation troops.

The situation is made more interesting by the fact that the Western Powers are already sponsoring a West German government. If and when this Western government materializes, it is considered likely that the Russians would counter with the establishment of an East German government of their own sponsorship. Thus they could make their own diplomatic arrangements with this organization. The People's Police would then be used to maintain this government in power.

In any event, our political experts say that the German communists cannot risk a failure such as the one that attempted communist uprising in Korea, and the People's Police at this moment is not large enough to make such an uprising successful. However, these experts usually hedge this opinion with the statement that there appear to be plans in the Soviet zone to increase the size of the People's Police to one hundred thousand men.

The question of the moment is, of course, what effect this military organization can or will have on blockaded Berlin—that is the Western section of the city in which the rump government of the Soviet sector demands be incorporated into a whole city under their type of government, of course.

I questioned the police chief of Western Berlin, Dr. Otto Stumm, about the possibilities. He didn't seem particularly worried. Stumm said that he was of the opinion that there were possibly ten thousand or more People's Police in barracks around Berlin, plus a thousand now stationed in the Soviet sector inside the city.

But he pointed out that he has ten thousand officers on duty in the American, British, and French sectors. These are ordinary cops who pound beats, direct traffic, look after the public safety, and such.

The total number of police employed by the Opera House government of East Berlin is about seven thousand, and Stumm said that about half of these East Sector officers are still loyal to him. In other words, Police Chief Stumm believes he has the security forces of the rump government outnumbered by three to one. Inside the city, that is.

But no one expects that Communist policy would be so foolish as to attempt a putsch on the blockaded sectors of this city. The risk of it developing into a full-size international incident is too great.

There is one other factor that must not be overlooked. In creating the People's Police and arming it, however lightly, the Russian occupation authorities also have created a problem for themselves. For, despite the political commissars in the units, they must always ask themselves the question: "How loyal; how trustworthy is this organization?"

The large number of desertions are evidence of the disaffection felt by numbers of individuals. Also, the German civilian population has conducted a number of individual assaults on what it regards as turncoats and servants to the Russians.

Western German political leaders in touch with East Germany say that, if the Soviet occupation troops ever withdraw, there will be a bloodbath unequaled in German history when the people turn on the "People's Police."

The Western Powers are watching very closely. A failure in occupation policy by America, Britain, or France might conceivably turn public sentiment away from the West. Certainly the current Russian demands for a peace treaty and withdrawal of occupation troops has a great appeal to all of the German population which most urgently wants to be "dis-occupied."

And if there were a reversal of feeling, the military organization to which dissident Germans could turn most certainly has already been set up.

However, as one American officer put it: "Let the Russians worry about the People's Police. We are not going to arm Germans, and the world will sleep better for it."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

1943. The Stalin Prize

The Stalin Science Awards
A Stalin Prize medal

Bill Downs


Tuesday night, March 23, 1943

The Soviet press revealed today that, during the past year, Russian scientists and engineers have developed a whole new series of weapons for the Red Army. These new weapons include three new types of planes, a new type of artillery weapon, a new development in naval artillery, three new developments in airplane motors, and a new type of fighting ship for the Red Navy.

These inventions, for the first time at least, will be put at the top of Russia's "secret weapon" list. The newspapers published no details.

The occasion for even hinting that these things exist was the first annual list of Stalin science awards. These awards range from $18,000 to $5,000, and are given to engineers, professors, and scientists who have distinguished themselves in Soviet science and industry for the past year.

Such prizes went to Russian physicists, such as Professor Alexandrov for his research in the field of fluid helium. Another group of professors got awards for completion of a history of the Russian Civil War. The Soviet Union's famous aircraft an designers Ilyushin, Yakolev, and Tupolev all received honors, as did several Red Army generals, in the engineering section for their development of new weapons.

However, also included in the group of five hundred awards were a group of people very much like you and I. There was an oil driller who helped develop a new field near Baku, a lathe worker who simplified production of gun barrels, and a steel puddler who reorganized his furnace gang to turn out an increased amount of steel.

Best of all was the award to ten Russian women, all of them farmers. All together they got about $10,000 for developing a process on their farm in the Urals which produced more potatoes per acre than any other farm in that whole region.

These Soviet government awards to the ordinary factory worker and farmer throw an interesting light on Russia's entire war effort. This is not only a war of scientific theory, the laboratory, and the test tube. It is also a war of the ordinary plow, persistence, and patience.

News of the Stalin science awards, which went to the highest as well as the lowest citizens of the Soviet Union, almost pushed news of the war clear out of the Russian newspapers today.

It is evidence of just one more reason why Hitler, if he kidnaps all the labor in Europe and forces it into his factories, will never be able to defeat this nation.

You see, the Russian people feel that they have something to work for, and it is more than an annual prize contest.

Friday, May 15, 2015

1943. The Soviets Look to the Western Allies to Open a Second Front

Holding Back the Onslaught
A still from the film The Battle of Russia (1943)

The parenthesis indicate portions censored by Soviet officials.

Bill Downs


Friday, March 26, 1943

The Soviet government announced today that the fishing agreement between Japan and the Soviet Union granting leases to Japanese fisheries in Siberian waters has been renewed for one year.

This one year agreement has been under negotiation for the past several months. The new protocol is exactly the same as last year's, except that Japanese fisheries pay the Soviet government five percent instead of four for fishing privileges.

This is the seventh successive one-year fishing agreement that Russia has signed with Japan since the long-term agreement ran out in 1936. Since that time, negotiations have been conducted on a twelve month basis. The 1943 agreement was signed in Kuybyshev by Vice-Commissar for foreign affairs, Lozovsky, and the Japanese to the USSR, Sato.

Last Tuesday the leading Russian newspapers printed a long digest of Prime Minister Churchill's speech. The Soviet radio also repeated a lengthy resume of Mr. Churchill's broadcast.

(In the past three days I have been talking to Russians that I know, asking them their reactions to what the Prime Minister said.)

(Every Russian that I talked to expressed disappointment with Mr. Churchill's speech. Some even threw up their hands and said, "Well, that's the end of the second front." Others could not understand why, at a period so crucial, that Mr. Churchill talked so little about the winning of the war.)

(I thought I would pass these reactions along to you for what they are worth. It demonstrates the absolute singleness of purpose with which Russia is fighting this war. Consequently) Russians cannot understand why for one moment an Allied government takes time out to discuss its internal problems. (It was the same reaction I got when I talked to these Russians about Lend-Lease. When they learned that there was some Congressional opposition to extending the Lend-Lease agreement, they could not understand it. Their one question was always, "If it helps to win the war, then why argue about it?")

So there you have the general viewpoint of the ordinary Russian, who today is working harder than ever and glancing anxiously every once in a while to the west. The question paramount in his mind, and don't forget it, is, "When are those British and American troops going to come out of the west and start that second front?"

The news from the Russian front this morning reveals no radical changes in the fighting positions. German resistance has stiffened in the Smolensk region. Both the Red Army and the Nazi forces are throwing more men and armor into the fight, and the battles are getting fiercer every day. The Russian troops are maintaining the initiative and are still moving forward on this sector. However, it is an advance in which they have to fight for every yard.

A similar increase in the tempo of the battle is occurring in the Kuban. The Germans here, too, have thrown in reinforcements. It is evident that the German command has ordered a last-ditch defense of what little territory Hitler has managed to cling to in this sector immediately north of the Caucasus. The Russians have now started their spring drive to rush the Nazi forces into the Kerch Strait, but it is going to be no easy job.

The flying weather has improved on all fronts, and a dollar-bright moon has enabled both sides to carry on a twenty-four hour offensive in the air. However, the decisive fighting still is being done on the ground. As they are operating today, the Russian air force has an absolute parity with the German Luftwaffe. Neither side has been able to establish general superiority in the air over the Russian front. Only on some sectors has temporary, local air superiority been achieved, and this only until the opposing forces have had time to rush reinforcements to the threatened front.

However, this summer should see some interesting developments in Russia's air war. This will particularly be true when the damaging blows by the American and British air forces on German plane production make themselves felt. Then we'll see who has air superiority in Russia.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

1943. Stalin Names Himself Marshal of the Soviet Union

Marshal of the Soviet Union
Joseph Stalin delivering the eulogy at the funeral for Red Army commander Mikhail Frunze in front of Lenin's Mausoleum, 3 November 1925  (source)

The parenthesis indicate portions censored by Soviet press officials.

Bill Downs


Sunday, March 7, 1943

The Red Army this morning is pressing towards the important railroad and highway junction of Vyazma from two directions. Russian troops are driving westward from the town of Gzhatsk and southward from the direction of Rzhev. Following the successful storming of Gzhatsk yesterday the Soviet forces continued their advance, capturing twenty more inhabited points last night.

(This means that the Russian troops are west of the town only some forty miles from Vyazma. The Red Army forces are about the same distance away.)

(The Germans had built tremendous defenses at Gzhatsk, even down to trenches with roofs over them. It took the Red Army two strong attempts before the Axis forces were kicked out of the place. When this was done, it ousted the Germans from the nearest point to Moscow they had succeeded in holding after their abortive attempt to take the capital last year.)

(The Germans were dug into Gzhatsk with the intention of staying there. They built twelve miles of trenches connecting all sorts of pillboxes, blockhouses, and fortified points. There also were the usual antitank ditches, acres of minefields, and barbed wire.)

The capture of Gzhatsk leaves only one of three German springboards against Moscow remaining. Rzhev was the first to go. Now only Vyazma is left of this powerful offensive triangle.

Premier Josef Stalin is now formally in the Red Army. For the first time in his spectacular career in the Soviet Union, Stalin has assumed a strictly military post. His new award as Marshal of the Soviet Union was announced last night.

There is nothing exactly parallel to this post in the United States Army. It is the highest army position that a man can attain in Russia. The nearest approach the American army has to this rank is the post of a four-star general now held by General Marshal, General MacArthur, and General Eisenhower.

Premier Stalin now holds the position of Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the USSR. He also is Chairman of the State Defense Committee, the People's Commissar of Defense, and Chairman of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party.

It is not expected that any startling change in Russia's prosecution of the war will result in Josef Stalin's new post as Marshal. By assuming this post, he merely receives the military rank as well as the title in the Soviet High Command.

The rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union carries with it the highest insignia of the Army. It is a platinum, diamond studded star worn at the neck of his tunic. However, in the past Premier Stalin has refused all decorations. He also has never worn a uniform. Now he is entitled to wear both.

(Only about a dozen men have ever attained the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union during the entire history of the USSR. About a half-dozen of these men are still directing Russia's war. These include some of the military brains of the world such as Marshal Timoshenko, Marshal Budenny, Marshal Voroshilov, and others.)

At Stalingrad in the early days of the communist revolution, Stalin directed the defense of Tsaritsyn, later renamed Stalingrad. However, at this time he held no military position. He was a representative of the Communist Party Central Committee directing the war from Moscow.

However, in that victory and in the present war, Stalin's military policies have been a major factor—a factor which has resulted in the present victory of the Red Army's winter offensive.

1966. The Rise of Ronald Reagan

Reagan Visits Mrs. Warschaw, Wins Warm Praise for Views
Source: "Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrate Reagan's gubernatorial victory at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles."
October 20, 1966

Dear Bill:

After our little discussion the other ever in which your Rosalind, the fair, allowed as how she would vote for Ronald Reagan, and you had to put up that "gotta convince me" hard-boiled and cynical Washington-hand manner about how Ronald Reagan was a moderate after all, I thought you would find this Reagan-Warschaw confrontation interesting and an asset to your reference files...

Take a new point of view, lad, and I'll look forward to another evening sometime soon.

Best to you both,

Col. Barney Oldfield, USAF (Ret.)

Los Angeles Times 

October 19, 1966
Reagan Visits Mrs. Warschaw, Wins Warm Praise for Views

Former Democratic Leader's Glowing Words Stop Just Short of an Endorsement After 45-Minute Discussion

By Richard Bergholz
Times Political Writer

Republican Ronald Reagan called on former Democratic leader Mrs. Carmen Warschaw Tuesday and won glowing words that stopped just short of an endorsement.

Mrs. Warschaw, former Democratic State Chairman for Southern California, has been sharply critical of Democratic Gov. Brown in recent months.

Reagan made an unpublicized call on her at her home in the Los Feliz area, spent 45 minutes with her and was obviously pleased with what he heard.

For her part, Mrs. Warschaw said, "I'm not going to endorse anyone for governor at this time."

As she spoke she emphasized the words, "at this time."

She then explained that she had told Brown when he called her last Friday that she would think about any endorsement decision and she indicated that she would postpone any endorsement at this time "because I gave him my word."

Then she launched into a description of the Republican candidate for governor, terming him "forthright, vigorous, carrying a fresh new approach to governmental problems."

Two Political Disappointments

She said, "I was really rather favorably impressed with Mr. Reagan. I found him to be a man of rather moderate reviews instead of the conservative views about which I have been led to believe.

"He has more knowledge, more concern, than I had been led to believe. He's a listener, not a talker."

Mrs. Warschaw broke with the governor after two political disappointments. First, she wanted to be Democratic national committeewoman, and Brown chose instead Mrs. Ann Alanson of San Francisco.

Second, she campaigned vigorously for election as Democratic state chairman. Brown announced he would support her, but when she lost by a razor-thin margin, she accused Brown of failure to work aggressively on her behalf.

A former member of the State Fair Employment Practices Commission, Mrs. Warschaw quoted Reagan as saying he believed in the act creating the commission and that he felt not enough has been done to eliminate unfair employment practices.

Mrs. Warschaw said she favored the 1963 Rumford Act—California's open housing law—and Reagan disagreed.

Both reported after their conversation that they "disagreed agreeably."

"We found ourselves able to get along," Reagan said.

Explains Purpose of Visit.

In answer to questions, the Republican candidate said he did not come to Mrs. Warschaw's home to solicit her support. He said he considered that would be "impolite of a guest in her house."

"What I came for," he added, "was to have a visit with her and let her know where I stood on campaign issues."

Mrs. Warschaw said "some people who are supporting Reagan asked if I wanted to meet him, and I said 'yes.'"

The meeting was arranged by Philip Battaglia, Reagan's state campaign chairman.

Immediately after the private meeting, Reagan drove to Lynwood to address a joint service club luncheon. Later he addressed a meeting of educators supporting him at Pepperdine College.

In his first appearance for Reagan in a partisan setting, Dr. Max Rafferty, state superintendent of public instruction, gave the Republican candidate an emotional and glowing introduction.

"Teachers have resisted involvement in politics for too long," Rafferty said, "and the time has come for us to bestir ourselves—for sheer survival if nothing else."

He said Reagan's election would bring "a whole new order for education in California" and claimed that under Brown's administration, education has suffered from "drift and delay and pretty promises."

Rafferty said Reagan is a "phenomenon in politics—a living reminder that American [sic] is free to all" and said he is convinced that Reagan will listen to qualified educators when he becomes governor.

Repeats UC Stand

Reagan then picked up Rafferty's attack on educational problems in California and repeated the charge that the University of California is an issue in the gubernatorial campaign.

He called for greater local autonomy in elementary and secondary schools, including "more latitude in curriculum and textbooks."

The GOP candidate denied Brown's charge that he favors imposition of tuition in higher education. He said a proposal for tuition should be studied but that if imposed, tuition should be accompanied by "enough scholarships" to meet the needs of deserving students, a plan for deferred payment of tuition and pressure on Congress to grant parents a tax credit for college costs.

Reagan also denied having called federal aid to education "A tool of tyranny" but added that if legislation takes control of education too far from the people, it can lead to tyranny.

He also explained when he said it is a "paradox" to seek individual freedom and compulsory education at the same time, he meant that "it's a paradox we gladly put up with."