September 29, 2015

1947. American Journalists Revisit Bastogne

Bastogne Rebuilds
General Anthony McAuliffe (left) and Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Kinnard in Bastogne, Belgium in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge (source)

From the "Special Issue: A Report to America Two Years After V-Day," This Week magazine, August 10, 1947, p. 26:

BASTOGNE

It is grateful to the GI's who saved the town and shrugs off the looting they did
Here's where the 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Armored Division held out for five days against the far heavier German forces and rejected the Nazi surrender ultimatum with a fine, peremptory "Nuts!"

Bastogne was a town of 5,000 people before it was threatened by von Rundstedt's Ardennes offensive. Then 4,000 were evacuated and the rest stayed in town to be encircled with the American troops. But of the total population, a thousand were killed in a few days.

Almost all of Bastogne's homes were hit and a quarter of them were destroyed by the 27,000 shells the Germans laid into them. But all through the town today you hear the sound of hammers and saws, for Bastogne is coming back fast.

This is true of Belgium generally. Her industrial areas were not badly damaged and she is recovering much more quickly than most European countries. As a result, her attitude toward America is different. She is more independent than the others, considerably more outspoken in her criticism.

The Bastognians, to be sure, are lavish in their praise of Americans as fighters. And "Mac-aw-leef" the general. There was a man!

They remember how they answered a call to supply bed-sheets as camouflage for the tanks—and how American paratroopers and tankmen were cold and needed blankets. The call went out, and within 10 minutes Bastognians were throwing their bedding at the GI's as if they had vast surpluses. Many of the Belgians went cold for a long time.

But the thousand civilians who stayed in town during the siege also remember another kind of beating they took—and not all of it was at the hands of the Germans.
One of those who stayed was George Fountaine. He now works in the town hall, on the floor above the police station. During the battle, he was appointed Acting Chief of Police, his main function being to keep 999 other Bastognians under ground. His home was taken as a command post and he likes to show you the machine-gun bullet holes in his dining-room table.

Smiling just a little—not much—Fountaine tells two stories, stories the British and French might not recall so readily for American ears.

One day, after finishing his civilian patrol, Fountaine came home and found paratroopers looting his house. One of them was making off with his typewriter. He protested. A soldier raised his gun and told him to get the hell out. He got out. When he came back he discovered they had taken not only his typewriter, but also his bicycle and his violin. He put in a claim for 25,000 francs and was allowed 3,000 ($25 or $30).

"Which was better," he admits ruefully "than most of us did in our claims against the army."

During another patrol of the town, Fountaine saw that a jewelry shop had been broken open. Inside he found a crowd of GI's loading up with rings and bracelets. Again he protested.

Two paratroopers took him by the arm, patted him on the back and said, "You're a fine fellow—you're doing a good job. Let's take a walk, George."

They walked him around the block, and when they got back the other paratroopers, and the jewelry, were gone.

Later Fountaine reported this to the local MP. "Sorry, bub," he was told. "I'm only here to direct traffic."

The independence which permits Belgians to make legitimate gripes like these seems also to inspire less worthy postures. Remember how Americans were at one time adopting embattled towns like St. Lô and Isigny? They took it upon themselves to contribute money for food and clothing. In some cases they even had children from the stricken towns brought to the United States to be educated and restored to health.

Well, after Bastogne was relieved and the Germans were pushed back, the townspeople said, "Now we are a bit of American history. The Americans will appreciate us and make our town rich."

But we never adopted Bastogne.

"We are orphans," says Fountaine, "completely abandoned."

A friend in his office interrupts.

"Not quite," he says. "Some English town—I forget the name—some town in northwest England adopted us."

They both looked as if this was something not quite fair. It was like being adopted by a poor uncle just before a rich uncle hears of your plight.

They are still hoping Bastogne may be adopted by Americans. In the meantime, they figure that whether or not we take them, maybe they can take us a little. They now look forward to the day when thousands of U.S. tourists will again make pilgrimages to European battlefields. Already they plan to erect a great war memorial which will be inscribed with the names of the 40,000 American soldiers who were casualties in the Ardennes.

Another plan, not yet approved, is to build a big arch at the entrance of the town, an arch with neon signs, no less, that will flash the arresting words: "Stop—you are entering Bastogne, the 'Nuts!' town."

September 28, 2015

1948. The Growing East-West Divide in Blockaded Berlin

The Berlin Crisis Goes Into a New Phase
"A man watches a Communist rally from the bombed-out ruins of a building overlooking Berlin's Lustgarten Square. The rally, billed as a remembrance of the victims of fascism but featuring plenty of anti-American rhetoric, was held at the height of the Berlin Airlift," September 1948 (source: Gerald Waller, Stars and Stripes)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin - for Edward R. Murrow with the News

November 30, 1948

An operation was performed on the city of Berlin today. Call it politico-surgery; an operation that could spread an infection which could inflame the whole body of this world with the disease of war.

The patient right now is spending an unquiet night as we await the reaction. When that reaction comes, it will probably be serious—and dangerous.

So it is necessary now, some twelve hours after the Communist-led faction of Berlin made its incision, that we think calmly of what has happened. It is very important.

It has been evident that a move by the Communist-led organizations was imminent. Posters and stickers began appearing throughout the city three days ago attacking the Western sector elections next Sunday. This propaganda is all signed "The Democratic Bloc of Berlin."

Today we see for the first time what constitutes the so-called "Democratic Bloc" from the Eastern sector and how it works.

The "democratic bloc" assembled in the State Opera House this afternoon. Between 1,500 and 2,000 persons attended: leaders of the Communist-dominated Socialist Unity Party, the Communist-dominated Federation of Trade Unions, Soviet-endorsed East sector city officials, and various cultural groups.

This "democratic" assembly proceeded to summarily dismiss the Berlin magistrate election in the citywide voting two years ago. It appointed a new magistrate from a slate agreed upon beforehand, and the whole thing went through unanimously. No objections, no protesting votes. No opposition.

Then the assembly adjourned to a democratic bloc mass meeting organized in Unter den Linden. I was at this meeting this afternoon. The day has been cold and foggy, a fog that has kept the Anglo-American airlift on the ground for more than twenty-four hours.

All the trappings were there. The red banners and forty-nine slogans proclaimed for this event; East sector workers were ordered to stop their jobs and attend the "spontaneous" demonstration—a demonstration so spontaneous that one man said he had only ten minutes to go before he could quit demonstrating. About 100,000 people were on hand. There might have been more, but after an hour of waiting workers were walking away as quickly as others arrived in trucks from their factories.

The whole affair was grim, cheerless, and unenthusiastic. Only one woman took the trouble to recognize me as an American. She turned around to spit at my feet, but I felt that she would have done the same to any national from an occupation power, including the Russian.

As you have heard from Ed Murrow, the Western sector elections will be held on Sunday as planned.

Berlin is now two cities. The dissection tonight has not been completed; maybe it will not be a total cleavage. The inter-sector subways and elevated railroads are still running. But the new identification cards ordered by the Soviet military command will start distribution tomorrow.

Hope for East-West settlement over this intensifying Berlin crisis are at a new low tonight.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to Ed Murrow in New York.
______________________________________
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 1, 1948

The Communist-led Opera House government of Eastern Berlin moved to take over the Russian sector of the city this morning while, in the blockaded Western sectors of the city, the legally elected assembly proclaimed a state of "political emergency" for this bisected city.

Police and personnel at the Berlin city hall in the Soviet sector were changed overnight. Acting Mayor Friederich Friedensburg, ignoring yesterday's rump assembly dismissal of the present magistrate, reported to his office as usual this morning, but Eastern German police refused him entrance to the building. Yesterday afternoon, after the so-called election of a "democratic bloc" magistrate in the State Opera House, members of the newly proclaimed government went to the Rathaus—some with their families—to select their new offices.

Tomorrow the rump magistrate of Berlin will hold its first meeting and officially take over the government of the Eastern sector.

Leaders of the three anticommunist parties in the Western magistrate meeting minced no words in calling yesterday's events in the Russian sector as an out-and-out putsch in the same pattern as that which put Hitler into power in 1933. Frau Louise Schroeder of the Socialist Party said that any person participating in the East sector magistrate would be tried in orderly courts.

There was some serious ridicule about the "light opera government" proclaimed in East Berlin at today's magistrate meeting, but an undercurrent of crisis was also evident, because those who participate in the elections next Sunday and in this current government most certainly are marked men and women.

The Western city assembly will meet daily during this period of what they call as "political state of emergency." Preparations are going ahead for Sunday's elections in the Western sector.

The charge that the Communist-dominated parties are afraid of free elections at this time would seem to be confirmed by yesterday's action. The rump assembly says it will hold its own elections soon—elections which it can control.

On the surface, Berlin appears unchanged today. The underground and elevated railroads that connect the Eastern and Western part of the city are still running. Public services shared by the divided sectors are operating as usual.

But the final irony of the so-called "democratic bloc" assembly which voted itself into power comes in a letter from Ottomar Geschke, a Communist Deputy Chairman of the original city assembly. This letter, addressed to the military commandants of all four occupation powers, notifies them of the formation of a new magistrate, with a final paragraph that says: "I take the liberty to assume that this new magistrate will get the necessary support to carry out its duties."

The answers from the four military governments should be interesting, particularly the answer of Marshal Sokolovsky.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.
______________________________________
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 2, 1948

Gangs of Communist-led rowdies roamed the streets of the blockaded Western sectors of Berlin last night, tearing down election posters and pasting up placards warning Berliners not to vote in Sunday's elections.

These putsch tactics were extended to at least two Socialist Party political rallies. In a working class district near Tempelhof Aerodrome, some four hundred members of the Russian sector Socialist Unity Party tried to break up a political meeting. A first class brawl ensued until German police using nightsticks threw the rioters out. Nine persons were arrested. A similar scene occurred in another meeting in the American sector.

German police are taking precautions against the possibility that gangs from the Eastern sector might storm polling places on election day and try to confiscate ballots. German police guards already have been posted at the homes of Western city officials, and other police patrols have been placed at elevated and subway stations which might carry the rioters into voting areas.

Both the Western city assembly and the so-called "light opera magistrate" of the Eastern sector met today. The blockaded city government has a housing problem on its hands—British and American military governments are turning over a number of requisitioned buildings to provide office space for the municipal authorities.

The Soviet sector magistrate in its initial meeting in the Berlin city hall considered measures to provide winter help for the blockaded parts of the city—winter help that Berliners can buy at the price of their political freedom.

The election of Fritz Ebert, son of the Weimar president, as Oberbürgermeister for the rump magistrate of the Eastern sector has precipitated a family argument. His older brother Karl Ebert, who lives in Heidelburg, disowned his brother's activities and told Berliners that "the name of Ebert has been misused to deceive you." The elder brother, who lives with his mother, urged the cities to go to the polls on Sunday.

The Berlin airlift is slowly pulling itself out of the chocking fog that virtually grounded it for the past week. In the most serious stoppage yet, air deliveries over the blockade for the past five days have been less than half of what normally arrives in this city in one day. But the planes are beginning to fly again this morning.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.
______________________________________
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 3, 1948
The Soviet Union has recognized the Communist-led "putsch" assembly of Eastern Berlin. In the most brazen political maneuver since the Communist coup d'etat in Czechoslovakia, the deputy Soviet military governor for Berlin dispatched a letter to the leadership of the rump city magistrate which proclaimed itself into power last Tuesday.

The letter, signed by Colonel Jelisarov, says that "the Soviet Command declares that the provisional democratic magistrate will be granted any support and assistance necessary to take care of its functions serving the interests of the population." The letter further states, with rare cynicism, that "the Soviet Command supports measures aiming at keeping unity of the city and the safeguarding of normal actions of democratic self-governmental institutions. It acknowledges the provisional democratic magistrate elected by the special city assembly until uniform democratic elections in all of Berlin are carried through, which the Soviet Command considers of imminent importance."

Soviet recognition of the "opera house government" came a few hours after the American, British, and French military commanders for Berlin denounced the rump assembly as illegal and withdrew their liaison officers from the city hall in the Soviet sector.

Marshall Sokolovsky put the clincher on the Soviet Union's latest diplomatic move by receiving Fritz Ebert, the Oberbürgermeister of the rump Berlin government, in his Russian headquarters.

Meanwhile, more gangs invaded the Western sectors last night and attempted to break up political rallies being held in the campaign for next Sunday's elections. There was a fistfight at one Christian Democratic meeting and another fight at a subway station where some sixty young men started a demonstration against the elections.

The Berlin blockade indirectly was responsible this morning for the death of ten to fifteen Germans in a train wreck on the western borders of Berlin just inside the Russian zone. At six o'clock this morning, an express train carrying passengers into the city was stopped so that police could check documents of the travelers and inspect their luggage so as to confiscate foodstuffs they might be bringing through the blockade. A commuter train which had not been warned of the blockade delay crashed into the rear of the express, demolishing two passenger cars. In addition to the ten to fifteen dead, twenty-five persons are believed to be injured.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.
______________________________________
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 4, 1948

The stage is all set for tomorrow's Western Berlin elections. Some 1,400 polling places have been set up in schools, public buildings, pubs, and restaurants. German police have been alerted to full strength in the event that any Communist-led raids on ballot boxes are attempted.

The American, British, and French governments are officially keeping hands off this election—it is a completely German affair. However, the occupation troops will be on a standby basis tomorrow in the event there is any serious outbreak.

For the past two days, Allied inspection teams have been making the rounds of the polling places. Their job is to see that the elections are conducted fairly and freely. They will be on hand tomorrow. Tonight there will be the final political meetings by the Liberal Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Social Democrats.

The Communist-controlled press from the Eastern sector of the city this morning came out with the "big lie" tactic in an effort to frustrate the elections. The Russian Army newspaper, Tägliche Rundschau, carries banner headlines that the Western Powers are preparing to leave Berlin in January. Another story says that General Clay is going to be replaced as the American military governor. The inference is that anyone who votes in tomorrow's elections will be deserted by the Western occupation forces, and thus be at the mercy of the Communist-dominated rump government of Berlin which already has threatened reprisals.

Yesterday there was a small riot at a political rally in the British sector. When Socialist candidate Ernst Reuter declared that Berlin would continue to fight, a heckler shouted, "Yes, until we end in a common grave."

Fists started flying, and a number of youths from the Soviet sector were beaten so badly that they needed first aid treatment afterward.

It has been expected that the elevated and subway trains which connect the Eastern and Western parts of Berlin might stop running on election day to make it more difficult for voters to get to the polls.

This happened yesterday to persons riding the trains to the Socialist meeting. The trains failed to stop at the station near the mass meeting and people changed trains, riding back and forth several times until someone got the bright idea of pulling the emergency brake. It led to another fight with the railroad police, but the crowds got to the meeting anyway.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

1977. The Problem with the ABC News Division

How to Fix a Third Place News Broadcast
ABC Evening News anchors Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters on set (photo by Ray Stubblebine, Associated Press) (source)

From The Washington Post, March 9, 1977. "Will Arledge Preside Over ABC News?" by Sander Vanocur, p. B1:

Will Arledge Preside Over ABC News?

By Sander Vanocur

The problem with the ABC Evening News is not primarily Barbara Walters. Nor is it Harry Reasoner. The problem with the ABC Evening News is ABC News.

There has been much speculation and gossip about how Reasoner and Walters get along—whether he will leave the show, whether she will leave the show, or whether he will remain in New York and she will move to Washington. It fills the pages of newspapers and magazines and completely obscures the problem, which is ABC News.

The nightly news programs of the three networks are the final distillation of the daily activities of their respective news departments. Imagine the programs in your mind as what comes out of the small end of a funnel into which a large amount of wine is being poured. That is how it looks at CBS and NBC.

But at ABC, the reverse is true. Priorities have been reversed. They pour their news input in through the narrow end and what comes out the large end of the funnel is a tiny trickle of wine served to us by two very famous wine stewards.

Whatever else Walters has or has not done, she has focused the attention of ABC management on this fact: The network simply has not given its news department both the money and the support that the network has lavished on its entertainment and sports departments.

CBS was dominant in the early days of radio news because William S. Paley gave Edward R. Murrow a blank check to go out and hire the best: Howard K. Smith, William Shirer, Charles Collingwood, Eric Sevareid, David Schoenbrun, Winston Burdett, Bill Downs. A tradition was started. When major events happened, people turned their radio dials to CBS.

In the middle 1950s, Robert E. Kintner took two men named Huntley and Brinkley and used them to build a news department. For the remainder of that decade and the first part of the next, NBC dominated television news as CBS News had earlier dominated radio.

I had the pleasure of working for Kintner during that period. If you were a reporter at NBC News during his reign, you were treated as one of fortune's children. If major events happened, you would go on the air immediately because Kintner ordered entertainment shows replaced with major breaking news stories. His reasoning was simple: When something important happened, people knew that they could see it first and see it best on NBC.

That tradition has never existed at ABC. For the past 15 years, under Elmer Lower and William Sheehan, two of the most decent men in journalism, ABC management has not given its news department the attention and prominence that Paley and Kintner gave at CBS and NBC. For that reason, people do not associate ABC with being a leader in the news.

The lesson that seems to have now been learned at ABC is that the hiring of a star from another network to join with another star on the evening news simply will not raise ratings. Huntley and Brinkley were a pairing made in heaven. But they dominated the news ratings, both the nightly news and at a convention, because they were supported by a strong news organization that had the full backing and support of top network management.

Now there is talk that ABC Television President Frederick S. Pierce, who recently added the ABC News division to his field of responsibility, is going to make some changes in the division's management. Current speculation centers on making ABC Sports President Roone Arledge head of ABC News.

Arledge is the man who gave ABC Sports its commanding position not by wasting his energy returning phone calls. In an interview with Playboy magazine last hear he hinted that he had some ideas about what was wrong with television news.

While not confessing to Playboy that in his heart he lusted after the presidency of ABC News, it was a tip-off to some people in the industry that Arledge was looking for a new challenge in television.

Running ABC News would be a challenge, another summit to scale. But Arledge would be foolish to entertain the prospect, if it is offered to him, without assurances from ABC management that they will give him the same kind of backing that Paley and Kintner gave their news departments.

That means he would be allowed to preempt ABC's incredibly successful entertainment programming to present a news special when a major news story develops—to not, on occasions like last year's Fourth of July, be so shamefully outclassed by CBS and NBC.

If he gets that kind of commitment, then, in time, he may be able to provide the galvanizing energy which ABC News so badly needs. Without it, ABC will continue to be a bad third and we will continue to spend our time writing gossipy little tidbits about Walters and Reasoner which will titillate readers but obscure the real problem.

September 23, 2015

1955. Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce on Italy

Italy's Political Woes
Bill Downs (right) meets with Italian Prime Minister Mario Scelba in 1955
TO: Ed Murrow, John Day, Jim Burke

FROM: Bill Downs, Rome

March 1, 1955

I just had a long talk with Ambassador Luce over the general situation in Italy. Speaking off the record (although I didn't see why), she seemed fairly optimistic and said that, since the passage of the Western European Union program by the Bundestag, there should be little trouble getting the program ratified by the Roman Senate. There are signs that the Togliatti boys will make some noise before the present debate is concluded, but she believes this will be for the benefit of Moscow and to get the party on the record in the public mind here. Mrs. Luce does not believe Togliatti will go all out on an issue which he knows in advance he has little chance of winning.

Italian political leaders in Premier Scelba's coalition government are back playing with their knives again. The right wing Liberal leaders deliberately brought up the agricultural law issue just the day Scelba and Martino returned from the London and Paris trips. The gambit apparently was to embarrass the Premier and grab the headlines from him. Foreign Minister Martino, who is a Liberal Party member, finally brought the dissidents into line but gained only a three month respite, when the issue will come up again. The Liberals, who include many wealthy landowners, want to modify the present law which prevents them from being able to discharge sharecroppers or tenant farmers and change the regulations to get people off their property after a set notice time. As you can see, it is a perfect issue for Communist propaganda.

Scelba and Martino will arrive in America about the 23rd of March. The exact itinerary is still being made up, but present plans call for a visit to Ottawa, then Washington, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Scelba will return to Rome ahead of Martino, who is likely to extend his tour to San Francisco returning east via Texas. They want to go to Washington with ratification of WEU behind them, and the agenda of the formal talks with Eisenhower and Dulles will include the usual mutual defense and economic problems, with emphasis on increased trade and immigration. Incidentally, Mrs. Luce is leaving for the US on about March 18 ahead of the Scelba party. She's going to get an honorary degree from Georgetown University. I also am pressing for the exact dates on the Scelba-Martino itinerary with a view to getting Martino on some of our shows. Martino speaks fairly good English.

Mrs. Luce does not expect much that will cheer the West to come out of the Sicilian elections which will probably be held in June. The Communists and extreme left are expected to make further gains. The moderate and right wing political situation is complicated by splits in all parties, a proposed majority election law to replace P.R. which is being fought by the minor parties, a controversial issue over oil exploration and exploitation, and the usual personality battles for power. In other words, the Left is expected to make gains.

The Ambassadress continues to insist, however, that generally the Communists are losing some of their punch. She admits that she had little proof of this except scattered factory elections where the Red CGIL unions have lost votes. She admits that it may be all a farce to get US military contracts, "or it may be done with mirrors" but, she continued, "if I'm being fooled over this, I must say it's the way I want to be fooled." The biggest problem, she says, is to find a way to get the government off dead center. But even under the present "immobilissimo" government, things generally get slightly better from day to day. This progress by osmosis has already precipitated a split in the Communist leadership, and she says that if this somnambulant state of affairs can be continued, the West will stand to win in the long run.

The crisis period in Italian politics will come after the presidential election this summer. Depending on who gets the job—in the running are Martino, ex-Premier Pella, and possibly even Demochristian Party Secretary Fanfani—will depend on the men who will try to upset the Scelba government. Some gossip has it that Fanfani has been sitting back developing his own organization and will emerge with the power to give the country strong leadership of a New Deal kind. Another candidate being mentioned is Finance Minister Vanoni, the creator of the Vanoni Plan to give Italy full employment in the next ten years. Just about any man who emerges with personality enough to capture the imagination of the people can do the job. But not to be forgotten is Scelba himself, who seems to creep up on power or inherits it by default.

La Luce says that elections any time within the next two years would force a real polarization of the vote with both the right and the left gaining at the expense of the center. The Demochristians have no agreed program to present to the electorate and have little in the way of a positive record to point to as their past accomplishments.

In other words, politically things are normal here and we may have a government crisis in the summer, if not before.

Regards,

Bill Downs

September 21, 2015

1947. Omaha Beach, Three Years Later

Returning to Omaha Beach
German prisoners tending to an American cemetery in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer near Omaha Beach in 1945 (source)

From the "Special Issue: A Report to America Two Years After V-Day," This Week magazine, August 10, 1947, pp. 20-21:

OMAHA BEACH

by Bill Downs

The scene of the Normandy landings is lonely and eerie—three years later

What does a soldier feel when he walks back through the battlefield and finds grass growing in the foxholes and butterflies flitting over the pillboxes? Correspondent Bill Downs, who landed on the Normandy beachhead with the British on D-Day, 1944, went back to find out. He took along a portable recorder.

The result is something new in reporting. For this is no straight account of events and people. Bill Downs looked inwardly and reported the thoughts that marched through his mind—as he walked alone through Omaha Beach. This is how he put them down on the recording tape:

I'm on Omaha Beach, where, not very many months ago, I saw bodies stacked like cordwood—American bodies. Behind me lie the remains of the Mulberry Docks, the improvised harbor that meant so much on D-Day plus. The sea is very quiet today. Battered ghost ships ride low in the surf. This morning—when the sun was just coming out—the moisture on the beach came up in small clouds of steam.

I'm standing at the entrance of an American assault boat. There are about 50 here—some holed by shells, some by collisions. They're old and rusted, down at the stern, half-buried in sand.

Directly in front of me, over the open landing ramp, I can see the rise of treacherous ground the Germans held for so many hours while American troops fought their way up inch by inch. But now this rise is green and has a sort of military smallpox where naval bombardment drove the Germans back and enabled our troops to land.

It gives you an eerie, unreal feeling to be here, to see these sunken ships of the Mulberry harbor; and you wonder if perhaps sailors don't come back sometimes, and maybe soldiers, too, to man these assault boats of that exciting hour.

I walked practically the entire distance of Omaha Beach this morning, starting with the south end, where there are a half-dozen German pillboxes. In one there's a destroyed 88-millimeter gun which, even in destruction, still looks plenty tough.

All along, the hillside by the beach is marked by shellholes. Grass is beginning to grow back into them. Walking alone—there's no one around—you can find old "C" and "K" ration cans rusting in piles, shell casings, an occasional canteen or canteen cup—usually with a bullet hole through it.

Every day except Sunday, German prisoners come down and dig up the mines. Most of them have been dug up successfully, and there have been few casualties—postwar casualties—on the beach itself. Occasionally, from over the horizon, you can hear the far rumble of an explosion—fortifications or recovered mines being blown up inland by German prisoners. Over the high hill that faces the beach you can see smashed pillboxes with the steel rods that reinforced the concrete forming a pattern of deadly lace against the sky.

Two Frenchmen are riding along the beach now. It's Sunday, and the French tourists come up here quite often. The beach used to be a vacation place, and you can still see the wreckage of some summer homes. They are now roofless, shattered and windowless. They give you a sort of blank, stark stare, as if they have not yet recovered from what they saw on that fateful June 6, 1944.

After three years, you find yourself forgetting entire towns which lie inland, back on the beach. Trips that in your memory took about 10 minutes really take a half-hour or longer. Airfields that used to be there are now only wheat fields, and cattle graze on the site of your Command Post.

Almost every farmer has taken advantage of the material left behind by the armies to patch up his place. It seems to be a kind of poetic justice, remembering how our tanks knocked down fences and the corners of houses trying to get through the narrow lanes.

Incidentally, the Normandy cattle are back on their four feet. There are as many cattle now, the farmers tell us, as there were before the war, and there is no sign of those bloated things with legs in the air that populated the fields when we were there.

On the beach, the only things you hear are the singing of the birds—and you probably didn't have time to hear them when you landed, even during lulls when the artillery was quiet. And there are butterflies hovering over the pillboxes and the good, clean smell of plowed earth in the air. But you want to talk about the smell of the swollen cattle, the grim song of the flying shells, and the noise and confusion that goes with an amphibious operation.

But there's no one to talk to because you're here alone.

Maybe you plan to bring the wife and kids and try to show them the exact place where you landed. And the rim of the white, sea-washed stones that saved your life—you show them that. And maybe you try to point out the "88" position that was giving you most of the trouble.

But the explaining and the pointing out has no real meaning for anyone but yourself—and the memory is so deep inside that it needs blasting to bring it out.

I was sent by This Week and CBS to go back over this ground. There was nothing I wanted more—all those exciting, glorious days when you lived by the hour, when every story was worth doing because men were writing that story in their blood for an honest cause.

If you were in on the D-Day landings, I don't think you'd like coming back to beaches like Omaha. There's something grim and ghoulish about it. You stand and you look at the foxholes where men hid desperately. Then you go to the graveyard and read all those names—the Smiths and the Joneses and the McCloskys and the Weinsteins—and it just makes you plain mad. You think how quickly people forget, how you forgot—until you came back.

You look at these shells and this beach, this silence, and you wonder what it was all about. You wonder if you and the rest of the world will remember the terrible sights and sounds of that day three years ago—and try to make its sacrifices worthwhile.

September 17, 2015

1954. The Life and Canonization of Pope Pius X

Saint Pius X's Canonization
Pope Pius XII in the papal gestatorial chair presiding over the canonization ceremony of Saint Pius X on May 29, 1954 (source)

From The Story of Our Time: Encyclopedia Yearbook 1955 (1955), pp. 56-58:
A New Saint is Proclaimed

By BILL DOWNS

CBS Radio Correspondent

It was "pope's weather" as more than a quarter of a million people began early to gather in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. Pilgrims and cardinals, bishops and lowly parishioners from all over the world stood for hours in the bright sunshine on May 29, 1954, to witness and participate in a solemn but joyous act of Roman Catholic history. At sundown, for the first time in 242 years, a pope of the Church was raised to sainthood. By nightfall Giuseppe Sarto, the humble son of an Italian postman, was proclaimed Saint Pius X.

It was the second time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church that such a ceremony had been held outdoors. There was a greater audience at this canonization than ever before. Uncounted additional thousands witnessed the event as it was broadcast on the Italian television network, and the Vatican radio retransmitted the ceremonies in more than twenty languages to the world.

The canonization ritual, which usually takes about five hours, was streamlined and condensed in deference to the present Pope's health. During the winter, the seventy-eight-year-old pontiff had suffered a severe attack of gastritis which caused concern for his life. However, his voice and actions were firm, and he showed no signs of tiring as he went through the difficult and wearing ceremonial. The rites marked a high point of the Catholic Marian Year and were one of the most impressive events in the fifteen-year reign of Pius XII.

At no time in modern history has any pope had the opportunity to confer sainthood on a man who was his friend and benefactor. Eugenio Pacelli, as the present Pope was born, was a protégé of the sanctified "Papa Sarto." Pius X recognized the outstanding qualities of the studious Father Pacelli and in 1904, when Pacelli was only twenty-eight, made him a monsignor.

It was Pius X who ordered him to refuse the chair of Roman law at Catholic University in Washington, D. C., and it was he who launched him on his successful Vatican diplomatic career which is credited with being an important factor in Cardinal Pacelli's elevation to the papal throne during the difficult days of 1939.

Thus it came about that the pupil bestowed on his teacher the highest posthumous honor the Roman Catholic Church offers.

It is barely forty years since Giuseppe Sarto died. His friends speak of him not as a legend but as a remembered personality. They recall that money never mattered to him—a rare quality in a man who was born poor and who was raised on the meager salary of a Treviso postman. Sarto was interested in finances only as they affected his various churches. In fact, Cardinal Sarto had to borrow money for his railroad fare from Venice to Rome to attend the Consistory of the College of Cardinals that elected him to the papal throne in 1903.

Pius X was used to hard work. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1858, he spent seventeen years as a parish priest. He performed his parish duties, among the most difficult tasks in Catholicism, with enthusiasm and skill. He refused the bishopric of Treviso, but four years later accepted that of Mantua when Pope Leo XIII commanded him to do so. Although he was created a cardinal in 1893 and was made a patriarch of Venice, he never lost his interest in the day-to-day work of the parish priest. Cardinal Sarto believed that a successful churchman is one who knows and understands his people. As patriarch of Venice, he always kept his office door open, and he brought his open-door policy with him when he moved into the Vatican as Pope Pius X.

Churchmen remember his great humility. When it was announced that he had the two-thirds vote of the Consistory and was the new Pope, Sarto fainted. He reluctantly accepted the papal crown, in his words, "as I would accept the Cross."

During his reign Pius X condemned "modernism" and tightened many church regulations. He established a special commission, of which Eugenio Pacelli was secretary, to codify canon law. He was interested in church music and decreed that Gregorian chant should be used in church services. It was during his pontificate that children were permitted to make their First Communion upon reaching the age of reason (seven).

The tragedy of Pius X is that of the present Pius XII. Despite their unceasing efforts, both men have failed to bring peace to the world.

International tensions were increasing during the last years of his reign—1913-1914. It became clear to Pius X that war would soon tear the continent of Europe to pieces if something was not done. By this time the Pope had contracted a serious illness which was sapping his strength. He dramatically offered to sacrifice his life if it would but reconcile the nations. One of his last acts was to reject a request from the Emperor of Austria, shortly after World War I broke out, that he bless the Austrian cause. The pope replied caustically: "I do not bless war: I bless peace." He died, a heart-broken man, on August 20, 1914, just three weeks after the war began.

What is the significance behind the canonization of Pius X? Some Catholic authorities explain it this way.

The first saints of the Christian church were the martyrs who suffered persecution and death for their belief in a single, all-merciful God. The most illustrious of these martyrs was St. Peter, who is said to have been put to death at the very spot where St. Pius was canonized. It was through the veneration of these early saints that the practice grew for the faithful to seek their protection and intercession in matters of the spirit.

Over the centuries the qualifications for sainthood have become increasingly stringent. A saint is created only after a suit at law before a special court of cardinals called the Congregation of Rites. The reigning pope is, however, the supreme judge of the matter.

In the legal procedure, a postulator or solicitor presents the case for the candidate. He furnishes the proofs of his virtues, attempts to establish his reputation for sanctity and presents the evidence of the working of the miracles.

Another ecclesiastical lawyer, the "promoter of the Faith," or more popularly, "the devil's advocate," points out the weak points in the arguments.

Canon law requires that before a man can become a saint he must pass the test of beatification. This is a necessary step toward canonization. Pius X was beatified in June 1951. After beatification two major miracles must be attributed to the candidate.

Vatican officials issued a decree early in 1954 recognizing the validity of Pius X's two miracles.

The first was said to have occurred in Naples on the night of August 26, 1951. Francesco Belsani, a lawyer, offered prayers to the beatified Pius. According to the Vatican report, his doctors confirmed that a dangerous lung abscess that had afflicted the lawyer was cured immediately. Lawyer Belsani lived to see his benefactor sanctified.

The second miracle recognized by the Vatican occurred when a Sicilian nun, Maria Luisa Scorcia, was cured of a serious attack of meningitis on May 14, 1952, after praying to Blessed Pius for aid.

The Congregation of Rites and the Pope decided that Giuseppe Sarto had fulfilled all the rigid requirements for sainthood and would be canonized in May 1954.

Although the occasion was one of the greatest solemnity, the exuberance of the native Romans added something of a festive atmosphere to the proceedings. They cheered their favorite cardinals as they walked in the papal procession chanting the haunting litany of the saints. The crowd burst into a roar when Pius XII appeared, accompanied by the colorful Swiss guards and the nobles of the papal court. People dropped to their knees by the thousands when the Pope raised his hand in blessing as he was carried in the sedia gestatoria (portable throne) to St. Peter's throne.

For the 400,000,000 Catholics throughout the world, the meaning of the action and of the canonization goes far deeper than the mere performance of the ceremonies. Proclaiming sainthood for a man whose living memory is still fresh in the minds of his followers confirms the continuity of the Church, its miracles and mysteries which have kept the religion alive for two thousand years.

As an act of devotion and faith, the ceremonies were timed to restore confidence to the Catholic world in a society now being shaken and threatened with a philosophy that denies Catholic belief.

The certification of miracles attributed to St. Pius X is a gesture symbolizing the original miracle of Christ's birth and resurrection and a confirmation of the hope of peace for all mankind.

This, then, was the significance of the final gesture at the end of the ceremonies when the silken curtain was drawn aside revealing the new saint's picture affixed to the balcony over the door of the basilica. The cheers were loud and happy when the crowd saw St. Pius X wearing his new halo.

September 15, 2015

1940. Edward R. Murrow Reports the Dunkirk Evacuation

Edward R. Murrow Reports from London on the Evacuation of Dunkirk


Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

June 2, 1940

EDWARD R. MURROW: This is London. The Allied rearguard is still holding Dunkirk against increasing German pressure. Heavy German field guns are pounding the beaches, and efforts to remove more men are continuing.

According to Mr. Anthony Eden, more than four-fifths of the British Expeditionary Force has been evacuated. The Air Force claims at least 125 German planes shot down in the Dunkirk area during the last two days. Today's score has given us thirty-five Germans down and eight British fighters lost.

Yesterday I spent several hours at what may be tonight—or next week—Britain's first line of defense: an airfield on the southeast coast. German bases weren't more than ten minutes flying time away across that ditch that has protected Britain and conditioned the thinking of Britishers for centuries.

I talked with pilots as they came back from Dunkirk. They stripped off their life jackets, glanced at a few bullet holes in wings or fuselage, and as the ground crews swarmed over the aircraft refueling motors and guns we sat on the ground and talked. Out in the middle of the field the wreckage of a plane was being cleared up. It had crashed the night before; the pilot had been shot in the head, but it managed to get back to its field. The Royal Air Force prides itself on never walking out of a plane until it falls apart.

I can tell you what those boys told me. They were the cream of the youth of Britain. As we sat there, they were waiting to take off again. They talked of their own work, discussed the German air force with all the casualness of Sunday morning quarterbacks discussing yesterday's football game. There were no nerves, no profanity, and no heroics. There was no swagger about those boys in wrinkled and stained uniforms. The movies do that sort of thing much more dramatically than it is in real life.

They told me of the patrol from which they'd just returned. "Six Germans down. We lost two."

"What happened to Eric?" said one.

"Oh, I saw him come down right alongside one of our destroyers," replied another.

The Germans fight well in a crowd. They know how to use the sun, and if they surprise you it's uncomfortable. "If twenty or so of them catch five of us, we stay and fight," they said.

"Maybe that's why we got so many of them," added one boy with a grin.

They all told the same story about numbers. "Six of us go over," they said, "and we meet twelve Germans. If ten of us go, there are twenty Germans." But they were all anxious to go again. When the squadron took off, one of them remarked quite casually that they'd be back in time for tea.

About that time a boy of twenty drove up in a station wagon. He weighed about 115 pounds. He asked the squadron leader if he could have someone to fly him back to his own field. His voice was loud and flat. His uniform was torn; had obviously been wet. He wore a pair of brown tennis shoes three sizes too big. After he'd gone I asked one of the men who'd been talking with him, "What was the matter with him?"

All he replied: "He was shot down over Dunkirk on the first patrol this morning. He landed in the sea, swam to the beach, was bombed for a couple of hours, came home in a paddle steamer. His voice sounds like that because he can't hear himself. You get that way after you've been bombed a few hours," he said.

An air gunner with grease and powder marks on his cheek and neck walked in from his plane, unwound his scarf, had a smoke, and sat down to talk over things with his companions.

I return you now to Columbia in New York.

September 14, 2015

1940. Edward R. Murrow from a Rooftop During the London Blitz

The Sights and Sounds of the London Blitz


Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

September 22, 1940

EDWARD R. MURROW: I'm standing on a rooftop looking out over London. At the moment, everything is quiet. For reasons of national as well as personal security, I am unable to tell you the exact location from which I am speaking.

Off to my left, far away in the distance, I can see just that faint red, angry snap of antiaircraft bursts against the steel-blue sky. But the guns are so far away that it's impossible to hear them from this location. About five minutes ago the guns in the immediate vicinity were working.

I can look across just at the building not far away and see something that looks like a splash of white paint down the side. And I know from daylight observation that about a quarter of that building has disappeared, hit by a bomb the other night.

Streets fan out in all directions from here, and down on one street I can see a single red light, and just faintly the outline of a sign standing in the middle of the street. And again I know what that sign says, because I saw it this afternoon. It says: "Danger: Unexploded Bomb." Off to my left still, I can see just that red snap of the antiaircraft fire.

I was up here earlier this afternoon, and looking out over these housetops, looking all the way to the dome of St. Paul's, I saw many flags flying from staffs. No one ordered these people to put out the flags. They simply feel like flying the Union Jack above their roofs. No one told them to do it, and no flag up there was white. I can see one or two of them just stirring very faintly in the breeze now.

You may be able to hear the sound of guns off in the distance very faintly, like someone kicking a tub. Now they're silent. Four searchlights reach up, disappear in the light of a three-quarter moon.

I should say at the moment there are probably three aircraft in the general vicinity of London, because one can tell by the movement of the lights and the flash of the antiaircraft guns. But at the moment, in the central area everything is quiet.

More searchlights spring up over on my right. I think probably in a minute we shall have the sound of guns in the immediate vicinity. The lights are swinging over in this general direction now. You'll hear two explosions in just—there they are. Again moving in, still a considerable distance away, moving still just a little closer—there you heard two. The searchlights are stretching out now in this general direction. I can hear just the faint whisper of an aircraft high overhead. Again those guns are considerable distance away. You'll hear them just vaguely in the background.

Straight in front of me now you'll hear two sounds in just a moment. There they are. That was the explosion overhead, not the guns themselves. I should think in a few minutes there may be a bit of shrapnel around here. Coming in, moving a little closer all the while, the plane is still very high and it's quite clear that he's not coming in for his bombing run.

Earlier this evening we could hear occasionally—again, those were explosions overhead. Earlier this evening, we heard a number of bombs go sliding and slithering across to fall several blocks away. Just overhead now, the burst of the antiaircraft fire. Still the nearby guns are not working. And the searchlights now are feeling almost directly overhead.

Now you'll hear two bursts a little nearer in a moment. There they are. That hard, stony sound.

September 11, 2015

1939. Berlin Prepares for War

William L. Shirer from Berlin on August 28, 1939


William L. Shirer

CBS Berlin

August 28, 1939

ROBERT TROUT: Now let's hear from the German capital, where high government officials are awaiting the arrival of the returning British ambassador. To hear the Chief of Columbia's Continental Staff, William L. Shirer, we take you now to Berlin.

WILLIAM L. SHIRER: Hello America. Hello CBS. This is Berlin. The sands are running fast. Tonight, here in Berlin, we should have a decision whether it's to be peace or war.

It's just eight minutes to 8:00 Berlin Time, and Sir Neville Henderson, the British ambassador, is due to arrive any minute now from London. A big Mercedes car is waiting for him out at the Tempelhof Aerodrome, and will rush him to Herr Hitler's Chancellery in the Wilhelmstraße as soon as he arrives. The outcome of this historic meeting is now in the lap of the gods.

Although word has sifted through this afternoon that the British government cannot accept the demands which Herr Hitler made public last night—namely a return of Danzig and the Corridor to Germany—the Wilhelmstraße, when I left it a few minutes ago, was maintaining silence, preferring to wait until it knew what Ambassador Henderson brought back.

The feeling in German government circles on the eve of this crucial meeting is still firm, and the entire press this evening maintains that Germany cannot and will not compromise; that the Reich will not budge an inch from its demands on Poland for the return of Danzig and the Corridor.

It is not entirely ruled out of course that the British answer, which it's believed contains certain counterproposals, may necessitate a reply. But the tension has become so terrific that it does not seem possible to anyone here that it can long continue—probably not past tonight without events taking a turn one way or the other. Or as the Germans say, "so oder so."

In the meantime, Germany seemed already on a complete war footing today. Housewives stood in lines beginning early this morning to get their ration cards. It was the first time since the war that these cards had made their appearance. And the people, who had hardly believed a couple of days ago that war was possible, certainly looked grimmer as they stood patiently waiting for their cards.

With true German efficiency, the rational system swung into operation very smoothly. At any store today, if you wanted certain foodstuffs or soap or shoes, you had to show your card. Otherwise you were politely turned down.

The newspapers and the radio have assured the population several times today that there is food and clothing and soap and shoes and fuel enough for every German; that the rationing was only resorted to in the interest of fairness to all. But everyone taking the new measures with good—by taking these measures with good grace, the people are told, they are helping to defend the freedom of Germany. Most papers praise the German woman for the calmness with which she has taken not only the rationing of foodstuffs and materials, but also the spirit with which she has seen her menfolk, husbands, sons, or fathers off to the army in the last few days.

The military took an ever-increasing part in the picture in Berlin as today advanced. Cars with high army officers sped up and down the Wilhelmstraße, or down the Tiergartenstraße to the War Ministry in the Bendlerstraße.  Many cars and motorcycles were requisitioned. I saw several civilian motorcyclists who had been called up with their vehicles. They received an army armband, and you could see them speeding through the streets carrying messages.

Despite the needs of the armed forces, the gasoline situation improved today. I was able to buy two gallons a few minutes ago, which enabled me to get here in time for this broadcast. Men from the air service supervise the tanking up. Squadrons of big bombers have also been whirring low over the city in formation. In other words, though the talking situation has not yet been completely abandoned, the grim preparation for the worst goes on.

I understand no trains from Germany crossed any borders today, but those foreigners trying to get out were able to proceed as far as the frontier and then either walk or get some kind of transportation to the other side of the border.

Note that Germany has already assured Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland that it will respect their neutrality in case of war. But tonight we heard that Holland had decided to mobilize.

Well, all depends now on the talks which will be beginning here in a few minutes between Herr Hitler and the British ambassador. I hope to be on the air later tonight to tell you what I can about those talks.

This is William L. Shirer and returning you now to New York.

September 9, 2015

1951. Congressman Accuses Network Commentators of Payola

Radio Correspondents' Association Rejects Congressman's Criticism
"(L to R) Joseph Clark Baldwin, Henry Lee Munsen, William S. Hill, W. Sterling Cole, and Crown Prince Olav of Norway departing after a visit to King Haakon VII" in 1941 (Photo by Hans Wild/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


From The New York Daily News:

CAPITOL STUFF
July 24, 1951
By JOHN O'DONNELL

Washington, D. C., July 24.—Representative William S. Hill (R-Colo.)—incidentally a sound, Kansas-born agricultural expert now in his fifth term—brought up a highly important and interesting fact when he disclosed that the State Department had on its payroll a group of well-known radio political commentators.

As proof of our starry-eyed innocence, we had always believed that these distinguished broadcasters went to town telling the listening millions about Washington problems and domestic politics without the mental handicap of having cashed a check from an outfit which is the main target of the coming Presidential campaign. Probably a good many radio listeners shared our unsuspecting ignorance. Apparently Representative Hill did until a short time ago. Then he learned something and proceeded to pour some highly interesting facts into the Congressional Record.


Names 5 Network Commentators.

Hill told the House that radio political commentators Charles Collingwood, Eric Sevareid, Griffing Bancroft and William Downs of Columbia Broadcasting and Ben Grauer of NBC got a slice of the $443,926 paid last year by the State Department to its "free lance" radio commentators and writers.

This is doubly interesting because it comes on the heels of the disclosure last week by the Department of Justice that the British Information Services here and the British Broadcasting Corp., spent $1,543,338 last year and had on their broadcasting payrolls a distinguished list of Washington correspondents and political pundits.

Hill raises two important points. The first is why the State Department found it necessary to hire these commentators in the first place. The State Department in its current budget has asked $97,500,000 for its public affairs "information service"—the greater part of this tidy sum going for the Voice of America. The budget called for 9,883 paid employees—an increase of almost 100% over last year. Why, asks Hill, did the information service, with this huge payroll, find it necessary to buy in addition "free lances" in the writing and radio market. The State Department has asked $1,502,355 to spend on "free lance" material. Last year it paid out $443,926 to writers and broadcasters.

But the heart of the matter, of course, is that the State Department hired American political commentators and sent them checks while, at the same time, these same broadcasters were reporting to their radio audiences on political controversies—foreign and domestic—in which the State Department and in particular its chief, Dean Acheson, were battling for their political lives.


"In Highly Dubious Position."

Referring to Collingwood, who received $900; Downs, who got $100, and Bancroft and Sevareid, who received $50 each, Hill stated:

"In hiring these men, the State Department, to put it mildly, has placed itself in a highly dubious position. As political commentators they frequently have occasion to pass judgment and express opinions regarding the same State Department that is making cash payments to them.

"In this regard I should also mention that the Columbia Broadcasting System has the reputation of being, through its so-called news programs and commentaries, a strong supporter of the Truman Administration and of socialistic tendencies generally.

"The Columbia Broadcasting System has been well treated by the Truman Administration."


Grauer Gets Rough Handling.

Grauer, who received $680 from the State Department, was handled roughly on the House floor. Into the record went the accusation that Grauer's television commentaries during the United Nations sessions in New York "attracted considerable attention for seeming to go out of their way to present the Russian viewpoint in a favorable light."

Hill poured into the record the report of the findings of the House Un-American Activities Committee on Grauer: sponsor of  the Artists' Front to Win the War, cited as a Communist front; member of the Action Committee to Free Spain now, also cited as subversive; "especially active" in the Commie-front Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions and speaker at a dinner in honor of the radical sculptor Jo Davidson; delegate to the New York convention of the Commie-front Progressive Citizens of America and sponsor of the Win the Peace Conference in Washington in '46, a group also cited as subversive.

Sarcastically, Hill wound up:

"If the State Department persists in buying free-lance material from outside writers, the least it can do is to make sure of their background. . . . I hope that the newspapers and radio stations of the country, particularly the pious breast-beaters who shook with rage two years ago when some small-town Illinois newspapers and reporters received as little as $8 a week from the state government, will permit their blood pressure to rise regarding these State Department payments."

Published in the The News-Review, Roseburg, Oregon (typos and misspellings included):

Fulton Lewis Jr.: WASHINGTON REPORT
October 29, 1951
WASHINGTON — The way has now been cleared for radio reporters in Washington to accept money from the Truman administration and still retain their privileges in the senate and house radio galleries.

On September 25 I noted in this space that four Columbia Broadcasting system reporters in Washington had received a total of $1,200 from the Voice of America. They were Charles Collingwood, Griffing Bancroft, William Downs and Eric Severeid. Ben Grauer, another CBS announcer, got an additional $680 from the Voice, but he is not stationed in Washington.

At the same time I pointed out that the rule of the Radio Correspondents association, which I personally wrote 12 years ago when the association was set up states:

"Radio correspondents shall further declare that they are not employed in any legislative or executive department or independent agency of the government.

I stated further that the chairman of the executive committee of the Radio Correspondents' association, Willard F. Shadel, also a CBS commentator, had not called the violations to the attention of the committee.

On this latter point I was in error. On August 1, 1951 Shadel did call a meeting of the executive committee and did raise the question. I quote from the minutes of the meeting:

"Willard F. Shadel raised the point about published stories criticizing the activities of four CBS correspondents accepting fees from the State department's Voice of America.

After some discussion, it was agreed unanimously that the four commentators were entitled under the rules of Congress to accept these fees, since the special work for the Voice of America is not, technically speaking, work in a government agency. But with the precedent established in years passed by the press galleries, it was agreed that a general letter be sent to active members of the association, informing them that hereafter, when they planned to engage in such work, that the galleries be notified in advance and that this notification be made public on the bulletin board."

The four CBS correspondents accredited to the radio gallery were paid by government checks for the work they did for the Voice of America. The Voice of America is an agency of the executive branch of the government operating under State department direction, on funds appropriated by Congress.

I fail to see where "technically speaking" the Voice of America job done by the CBS men is not "work in a government agency." If someone pays you for work performed, you are, by any standards of labor and management today, employed. You may view it up as extra work, part-time work, or off duty hours work, but it is employment if you are paid. And that is prohibited by radio gallery rules, and the executive committee meeting did not change those rules. That can be done only by a two-thirds vote of the entire membership.

Shadel felt he had been done a grave injustice, and pointed out that letters had been mailed to all gallery members apprising them of the executive committee action. There are two of us in my office accredited to the gallery, but neither of us ever saw the notification. I accept Shadel's suggestion that the letters arrived while we were abroad, and that they were thrown away before we returned. But the point is, had I seen the notice I would have protested just as I did last month.

Posting notices on the bulletin board stating that various correspondents are now getting paid by the government for services rendered simply compounds the violation. However, I compliment Shadel for taking action, which I erroneously reported he had failed to do. I urge him now to rescind that action and notify all radio gallery correspondents to comply with the rules or face expulsion.

The Voice of America is an agency of the executive department of the government, no matter how you slice it.

Letter to Eric Sevareid regarding the controversy:

To: Eric Sevareid

From: Willard F. Shadel

January 5, 1952

Dear Eric:

The Executive Committee of the Radio Correspondents' Association regrets the embarrassment to you and your three colleagues caused by published attacks on your recent broadcasts for the State Department's Voice of America program. The Committee discussed your specific complaint at its December 13th meeting.

The Committee believes that the apparently misinformed interpretation of your arrangements with the State Department, which received wide public distribution, might unjustly reflect against and inhibit other Association members who may undertake similar work.

Consequently, the Committee on December 13th unanimously reaffirmed its action of August 1, 1951, asserting that you and your colleagues were within the Association rules in accepting fees for your special work with the Voice of America. The resolution approved on that date reflects the Committee's belief that members acting as independent contractors with the Voice of America on special projects cannot be regarded, technically or in any other way, as Government employees performing services prohibited by Gallery regulations.

With best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours,

Willard F. Shadel, Chairman

Executive Committee

Radio Correspondents' Association

September 7, 2015

1954. Downs Writes Home from Rome

News from Abroad
Bill Downs (right) with his wife Roz at the Suez Canal in the mid-1950s

August 27, 1954

Dear Folks,

. . .

As you may have heard, there has been a big administrative shakeup in CBS News. What has happened is this. Radio and TV news has been put back together—which means I am officially head of both in my area now. Sig Mickelson has been appointed vice president to head the combined setup—[Wells "Ted"] Church is cut. He goes to Washington as a correspondent. Ed Morgan becomes head of the combined news operation and there are other top men for special events and special projects.

It's something we have been arguing for overseas for a long time because it is silly to compete within the company. It will mean more work and probably no more money, but it also means that I will not be excluded from television work by my radio contract. All in all, I think it's a good thing.

People are depressed over here by the failure of the Brussels conference and the French reticence to sign the European Army plan. No one knows what's next and if the Western Alliance breaks up it could mean trouble. Anyway, it looks like we will have the old German bugaboo to contend with which, added to the Russian threat, makes things frightening indeed. Maybe someone will think of something.

American prestige is at a new low these months with out lack of policy, our floundering in Congress and what many Europeans see as the beginning of a kind of fascism in the States. McCarthy and Co. are looked upon here as American Hitlers.

But despite the depressing news, the tourist business is at a new high and no one in Italy really seems worried.

. . .

John Adams and his wife were through the other day. He's on his way to Pakistan for consultation. I may get out there sometime this fall. However the difficulty is that there are simply no facilities for broadcasting.

Bill Dickinson and family are due here in December. He's on a long leave of absence and has the whole shebang touring Europe. After that they plan to move back to Philadelphia, where he'll take on some sort of editor's job on the Bulletin. Also George Wellde, who you met in Washington, has moved back to Europe and now is working for the President's escapee program in Frankfurt, Germany. We hope to get up to see him sometime soon.

That's about all the news. The summer seems to have gone too fast and it's hard to believe that we have been here for more than 8 months already. Probably will stay another couple of years the way things look. Anyway, let us know what's going on. The Kansas political situation looks interesting. What's going to happen to the Congress in November?

Give our best to everyone.

Love,

Bill

September 4, 2015

Ernest Hemingway's World War II Essays

Ernest Hemingway, War Correspondent
"American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) traveling with US soldiers, in his capacity as a war correspondent, on their way to Normandy for the D-Day landings, 1944" (Central Press/Getty Images) (source)
Ernest Hemingway wrote for Collier's Weekly as a war correspondent starting in 1944. His articles tell of his adventures in Europe during that time, from D-Day to the liberation of Paris:
"Voyage to Victory," July 22, 1944.

"London Fights the Robots," August 19, 1944.

"Battle for Paris," September 30, 1944.

"How We Came to Paris," October 7, 1944.

"The G.I. and the General," November 4, 1944.

"War in the Siegfried Line," November 18, 1944.

"The Sling and the Pebble," March 1946 (published in Free World magazine).

1948. Politics and the Black Market in West Germany

The Western Stand
The Berlin airlift in 1948 (photo by Walter Sanders of Life magazine)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 30, 1948: The Airlift

We who have lived in Berlin during these past months of crisis have a special feeling about the airlift, and the Anglo-American announcement that it is to be cut to skeleton size beginning next Monday leaves us all a little sentimental.

Berliners have developed the same affection for the air-bridge that kept them alive last winter as, say, San Franciscans have about their cable cars, or New Yorkers have about the old elevateds.

However, there isn't a man flying in Operation Vittles who isn't glad that the show is over. The glamour, if there was any, in making the routine flight twice daily two hours up the corridor and two hours back, disappears after a couple of weeks.

And the American and British taxpayer should be happy. Someone figured out that it cost about $250 a ton to deliver coal and other supplies into Berlin.

The Big Four foreign ministers should also be pleased. For once it would appear that we have achieved a working agreement under the modus vivendi plan arrived at in Paris last May. Diplomatically, the posture is to keep the fingers crossed. That's the reason that the announcement retiring Operation Vittles specifies that "a reduced force of US and British air force planes will remain immediately available in Germany and that each air force will maintain installations sufficient to ensure that the airlift can, if necessary, resume operation at any time and thereafter be built up to full scale."

Beginning Monday, the skeleton airlift assignment is 5,400 tons of supplies for the month of August. In other words, for the entire month the troop carrier groups will fly in what would normally be considered a bad day on the airlift. This means that during August an average of eighteen planes a day will fly the corridors. In September, this will be reduced to about twelve planes daily, and in October the average daily flights will involve only seven planes.

This exercise is just to keep the air force's hand in, in case the Russians change their mind about blockading Berlin.

So it would appear that we may have a quiet summer in the East-West Cold War. If there is going to be more pressure, the experts here don't expect it until fall.

But we are going to miss the airlift. The steady drone of planes overhead spoke louder than the combined propaganda organizations of the Politburo, the Cominform, the German Communists, and the Kremlin itself in assuring that the Democracies meant it when they declared they would not be shoved out of Berlin or any place else they had a right to be.

However, there are genuine fears here in Berlin that the restricted operation of the airlift marks the first retreat of the Western allies from this city, one hundred miles inside the Soviet zone. These pessimists are not without logic. They point to the reorganization now underway under High Commissioner John J. McCloy. This reorganization calls for the moving of military and civilian personnel from Berlin to the Frankfurt area, leaving only two hundred persons to conduct the quadripartite offices here. When these retreat rumors started spreading, Mr. McCloy issued a special statement this week saying that he intended to maintain two offices, one on American zonal headquarters in Frankfurt and one in Berlin. But the uneasiness among the people, who during the blockade defied the Soviet military administration and their German Communist stooges, still continues to grow.

The fact that the airlift is to be put on a standby basis is not going to help dispel these fears.

At the height of the blockade last winter it was reported that the Communist strategy was to cause such suffering and discomfort under the blockade of West Berlin that the population would become desperate and restive. Then deliberate rioting would be provoked and the Soviet military government could move in troops on the excuse of preserving law and order in their zone.

Withdrawing large numbers of Americans from Berlin has given rise to the fear that the German Communists may become more bold; that political kidnappings will increase; that we may allow the democratic two-thirds of the city to fall into Communist hands by default.

There has been no announcement as to just how many security troops the American, British, and French commandants intend to keep here. But I am told that there has been no change in policy, and that the fifty-nine lives and millions of man-hours of effort expended in these past thirteen months in the airlift would mean nothing if we retreated from our stand in Berlin at this time.

As a matter of fact, the Democracies are so committed morally in Berlin that any immediate policy change is unthinkable. The effect on Western Europe as a whole could be disastrous. The East-West struggle in Berlin has become a capsule symbol of the parallel conflict throughout the world.

But the fact remains—and every West Berliner knows this—that if in the future the United States of America wants to change its policy regarding the dangerous and expensive position in Berlin, it will be much easier and can be done with much less loss of face if only a small establishment is withdrawn than if the main headquarters is in this exposed position.

So the Anglo-American airlift is ending its current mission to supply by air a population of two and a half million persons under blockade. This mission succeeded, and now comes time for summary. Who has won what?

There is confusion in trying to add up the plus and the minus that has evolved from Operation Vittles. There are no absolute victories to be won in a cold war alone.

In terms of power, it is probably true that the past year's East-West struggle in Germany has been a standoff. But it is also true that the Soviet Union and its German Communist sympathizers have taken an ideological and spiritual lacing. And no one should underestimate the importance of the moral victory that the Western stand has achieved.

The fact remains, however, that materially the American, British, and French sectors of Berlin stand substantially where they were a year ago when the Russians imposed their blockade. The cost of maintaining this stand through the blockade. The cost of maintaining this stand through the blockade has been in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but we are still here and doing business.

The Russian blockade policy has been defeated this time, but nothing material has been won. The Communists have not diverted from their goal to control the former German capital.

Berlin's Black Market

The Kurfürstendamm, the main shopping district in the British Sector, is the center of Berlin's black market. It still is the Fifth Avenue of this bedraggled city; a spot that specializes in sin and cynicism that has almost become a trademark of German morality. Today's Kurfürstendamm is as inevitable in postwar Germany as spots after measles.

There are Kurfürstendamms in Frankfurt in Bonn, in the Ruhr city of Düsseldorf and the Soviet zone cities of Leipzig and Dresden. At these centers one can buy American cigarettes, Russian caviar, Italian silk stockings, Parisian perfumes, narcotics from the Middle East, and women.

The symbols of the black marketeer in Germany have changed from the bedraggled little men with the knowing looks and the briefcases. Today the black marketeer is a well dressed man wearing a modified zoot suit. He has a wide brimmed hat with a bright band, and this summer his uniform calls for dark glasses. Dark glasses have become a symbol of illicit living here in Berlin.

In the difficult give-and-take of the ordinary German caught between the struggle of East and West, every person is in the black market one way or the other.

The man with twenty pounds of coffee thinks himself better off than his neighbor who works on the railroad. He may be able to parlay the coffee into something substantial, and if he does, he can buy dark glasses. With a railroad job, who knows when you have to strike.

It is not that every German makes his living dealing illegally. But the Horatio Algers of this defeated country are to be found on the Kurfürstendamms. The trade is for food and drink and housing and clothing and profit and power. People think not in terms of security but in terms of opportunism.

And that is the political pattern of Germany too.

The Political Situation

At the present moment, the major political parties in Western Germany are conducting their campaigns for the first free general election in this nation since Hitler came to power in 1933. An estimated 17.5 million people are eligible to vote, but from the size of the crowds attending the so-called mass rallies of the political parties, observers are predicting that they will be surprised if half the electorate turns out on election day August 14th.

People are staying away from politics in droves. One of the reasons is that the German people have lost faith in elections as such. They had elections under the Weimar government and Hitler emerged. Many of the same men who ran Weimar are now heading up politics of the new West German state.

The British-licensed newspaper, Die Welt, conducted the other day a pre-election poll of some three thousand persons. The results are interesting. According to this poll, only six percent of the people favor the formation of the West German government as the sole government of Germany. The rest look on it only as an interim movement until a united Germany can be achieved. The amazingly high number of twenty-two percent of the people oppose taking the step.

The newspaper concludes that the present politicians thus must deal with the enduring resentment of the population. To the question, "What do you think of the Bonn constitution?" the reply from those sampled was uniform: "Who asked these people to form a constitution for us?"

The unfortunate fact is that, after sixteen years of dictatorship, the ordinary German is politically immature. The country has reached back to the days of the Weimar government for its leadership towards democracy. And this leadership—men like Adenauer, Schumacher, and Erhard—demand this traditional authoritarian control of their parties.

Although women have the right to vote and run for office, in only one province only three women were nominated as candidates, although there were sixty-five offices open.

The newspaper poll asked for suggestions as to people they would like to see in the West German government. Among the names mentioned were Pastor Niemöller, Otto Strasser, and General Clay.

However, whatever its shortcomings might be, the fact that Western Germany is staging an election at all is an important step towards the kind of Germany we want to see.

American political experts are of the opinion that the first government of the new Federal Republic of Germany will be a coalition of the right-wing parties. The Socialists, who have been the most vigorous and vocal in attacking everything from communism to the Occupation Powers, are expected to be the biggest single party in the parliament.

However the right-wing Christian Democrats, Christian Socialists, and Liberal Democrats are expected to team up against the Socialists. And then the horse-trading will begin as to what party will get the presidency and who will get the chancellorship.

The new federal diet is expected to hold its first session on September 5th or 6th.

In this current campaign, the Communist Party has been suspiciously quiet. Their opponents believe that Max Reimann, Western Germany's leading party leader, is holding his fire until the last moment. During the final days of the campaign, the Communists are said to have plans for a thousand rallies in Western Germany, but mostly they will concentrate on the industrial Ruhr area and in the big cities of Hamburg and Bremen.

One of the paradoxes of the present political situation in Germany is that on the major of issues of occupation, the right, left, and center are in agreement. All parties, including the Communists, want a unified Germany and blame East-West differences for the present split. All of them oppose occupation as a policy, although the anticommunist parties want the Western Powers to stick around as long as the Soviet Union is in Germany. All parties oppose the Ruhr statute, which gives the Western Powers international control of that area. And all parties, including the Communists, are bitterly attacking our dismantling program originally designed to destroy German war industry.

Thus, in backing the new Federal Republic of Germany, we are backing a state that will oppose our basic policies in this country. As I said, it is a paradoxical situation, but opposition is the paradox of democracy. And that is what we are betting on in the new Germany.

It is too early to say whether or not the government now emerging in Western Germany will be democratic. It is now democratic in form, but this form of government depends more on the spirit than the mechanics of operation.

The unanimous opposition to Western occupation policies from all segments of West German political parties is ample evidence of the intense nationalism existing in the Germans.

The nervousness over Berlin and the possibility that the Democracies might abandon her is evidence of German distrust of American, British, and French motives. The differences of the policies of the conquerors also has made the German a political cynic.

In the final analysis, it is not going to be America, Britain, or France which will decide the fate of the Federal Republic of Germany. It will be the German himself—the man who goes to the polls.

The elections next month are by way of being the first lesson of a great educational campaign in democracy. The ordinary Germany must be convinced that his vote has meaning and importance.

And part of this faith that he must learn must come from the Democracies.

The stand of the Western Powers in Berlin is a prime example of the kind of political morality that convinces the German that democracy can stand up against the totalitarian pressure that enmeshed him under Nazism and threatens him now under communism. The Western Powers must not erase the lesson of the airlift nor let its spirit die.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.