April 30, 2015

1940. Maps of the War So Far

MAIN AREAS OF WAR—THE WORLD BACKGROUND

The New York Times, March 3, 1940

These maps were printed in a rotogravure picture section in The New York Times in March 1940.

War Map of Europe (full resolution)

Where War May Spread (full resolution)

Western Fronts: On Sea and Land (full resolution)

Empires and Routes of Empire—Lands and Ship Lanes of the Allies (full resolution)

Before Hitler—GERMANY—Since Hitler (full resolution)

April 29, 2015

1943. The Leadup to May Day

Joseph Stalin's Order of the Day
Russian World War II propaganda poster: "The spirit of the great Lenin and his victorious banner inspires us to fight the Patriotic War" Joseph Stalin——"ДУХ ВЕЛИКОГО ЛЕНИНА И ЕГО ПОБЕДОНОСНОЕ ЗНАМЯ ВДОХНОВЛЯЮТ НАС ТЕПЕРЬ НА ОТЕЧЕСТВЕННУЮ ВОЙНУ... (И. Сталин)" (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 29, 1943

The Polish Ambassador Tadeusz Romer and his Moscow staff leave by train today for Kuybyshev to join other members of the Polish embassy. The entire group, numbering about a hundred persons, will then leave next week for Iran.

Admiral Standley, the United States ambassador, and Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, the British ambassador, will extend the usual diplomatic courtesy to a departing ambassador and see Mr. Romer off at at the station.

All was more or less quiet on the Russian front last night. Nothing of importance happened.

However, this morning's Red Star for the first time gives a definite hint of what the Soviet command expects to happen in Russia this summer.

An editorial said that the spring lull at the front is not feeling anyone. "This is the lull before the storm—before great battles which will not wait much longer."

Then the newspaper said, "The Germans undoubtedly will attempt to use the summer to improve their positions...Naturally, the power of the German military machine is considerably undermined by the defeats dealt by the Red Army. However, the Germans undoubtedly will launch new adventures."

The army newspaper said that the Germans continue to send remnants of their reserves to the Soviet-German front and are accumulating military equipment.

"We must not only frustrate the adventurous plans of the Hitlerians," the newspaper continues. "But we must deal the enemy such powerful blows that they will decide the issue of the war. We must be prepared for decisive battles."

This has been the realistic tone of the Soviet command since the German defeat at Stalingrad. If the expectations expressed in today's Red Star editorial come true, the Germans are going to have another try at conquering Russia this summer.

Sitting here in Moscow, it's hard to figure out where on the front that the Germans could strike and gain any sort of decision. However, it is obvious they are going to have to hit the Red Army somewhere, somehow. Hitler simply cannot afford to let this front remain quiet and allow the Soviet armies to pile up a superiority of men and equipment against him.

You will notice that the editorial did not mention any plans for a Russian offensive. However, there is a hint that maybe the Soviet high command has some plans of its own for this summer, but it's only a hint.

Red Star said "The ousting of the enemy from Russia has only started."

You can be sure that the Red Army will continue the process through the summer months.
_______________________________________________

Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

Friday night, April 30, 1943

Joseph Stalin is expected to commemorate Russia's May 1st holiday with a special order of the day to the Red Army. It has been May 1st in Moscow for just two hours now, and such an order of the day has not yet reached the hands of reporters here.

But Stalin usually does not let such national occasions pass without some sort of official mention. You remember Stalin's last order of the day was issued on the Red Army anniversary on February 23.

At that time, he reviewed the 20 months of Russia's struggle against the Nazi and Fascist invaders and announced that the Soviet armed forces had put nine million Germans out of action, including four million killed.

Exactly 67 days have passed since Stalin's last order of the day. Since that time the tremendous Russian winter offensive has wound up. There was the new offensive west and northwest of Moscow which resulted in the capture of Rzhev and Vyazma and Demyansk. There was the early spring which bogged these offensive as they drove toward Smolensk and Staraya Russa. And the winter offensive was officially ended. (A special communiqué issued at this time declared that the four month and 20 day winter offensive had cost the Germans thousands of tanks, thousands of planes, and 1,193,000 men killed and captured.)

Then came the German counteroffensive west and southwest of Kharkov and in the Donbass. The Red Army lost the city of Kharkov on March 15, and were pushed back to the Donets river. However, the Russians still hold about one third of the Donbass.

On the political front, since the last order of the day Russia has sent a food mission to the United States to discuss postwar food problems. (This is the first move made by the Russian government towards postwar collaboration with her allies on postwar problems.)

And the most important development has been the severance of relations with the Polish government. This has raised an entirely new set of problems for the United Nations and still is the hottest diplomatic question among the Allies.

Yes, if Joseph Stalin issues his expected order of the day, he will have plenty of scope for discussing the developments in Russia during the 67 days since his last order was made public.

It is a document worth watching for.
_______________________________________________

Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 30, 1943

(This morning's Russian communiqué only mentions the fighting west and northwest of Moscow. There were only local engagements on the Smolensk front and, south of Lake Ilman, Russian artillery shelled a German infantry concentration, inflicting big losses.)

It was revealed this morning just how desperately the German command is trying to stave off Soviet preparations to kick the last of the Nazis out of the Northern Caucasus. The German aircraft have again attempted mass raids on Krasnodar, the capital of the Kuban. (It is the second time in the past ten days that Krasnodar has been the goal of the Luftwaffe.) On Wednesday and Thursday 116 German planes were shot out of the air by Russian fighters. The Russians have definite air superiority in this sector, and after the serious German losses, succeeded in an aerial counterattack. This morning's report said these planes inflicted serious losses on the enemy. The Soviet losses for the two days of fighting were 45 planes.

All of Russia today is preparing for the May 1st celebrations. Moscow has assumed what almost seems to be a holiday atmosphere—that is, as much of a holiday atmosphere as the capital of any country can have after almost 23 months of the most sanguinary fighting in history. It's a little hard to have dancing in the streets and riotous laughter here during a war in which several million Russians have died.

But the red flags are out all over the city. Every building displays a picture of Stalin and Lenin and Molotov and Voroshilov and other Soviet leaders. Red banners carrying the many slogans for May 1st are draped on every official building in Moscow. Mr. Molotov's foreign office building has the Allied slogan on it. It reads, "Long live the victory of the Anglo-Soviet-American union over the enemies of mankind, the German-Fascist enslavers."

Up on Red Square, big red banners six stories high are spread on the buildings opposite the Kremlin. It is these banners that carry the main theme of the May Day celebrations. In the past, the theme of International Labor Day has been the slogan "Workers of the World Unite," and these big banners used to carry the slogan written in all languages of the world.

However, today these banners carry only one slogan written in Russian. This slogan is, "Under the banner of Lenin and under the leadership of Stalin, forward to the routing of German occupiers and their ousting from our fatherland."

This morning's newspaper editorials say that this May 1st is the day of the review of the fighting forces of the workers. And on the Red Square there is the slogan written in Russian saying, "Workers of all countries unite for the fight against the German-Fascist invaders."

But the feeling of Russia on the eve of May Day is best expressed by the newspaper Izvestia. It says that the Russian people this May are expressing their ardent love for their country—and a sacred hatred of the enemy.
_______________________________________________

Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

Saturday, May 1, 1943

Joseph Stalin's order of the day is probably the most cheering and optimistic statement to come from the Kremlin since Russia entered the war.

This fact is all the more significant when you consider that Stalin is no military Pollyanna. He's still the same hardheaded realist that held Russia together through a year's fighting retreat before turning on Hitler to deal Germany the most terrible blow that that nation ever suffered.

Consequently, when Stalin says that the "German-Italian Fascist camp is undergoing a great crisis and is now standing before catastrophe," he's not talking through his hat.

The other significant fact in this order of the day is that the Soviet supreme commander-in-chief for the first time has given full marks to his allies. (You remember all other of Stalin's war statements complained that the Soviet Union was bearing the full burden of the war.)

Today's document has nothing but praise for the Allies and their fighting in North Africa and in the air over Western Europe. These blows by Russia's allies, Stalin says, foretell the formation of a second front in Europe.

The entire order of the day reflects the assurance and confidence of a man sure in his allies and agreed on their common strategy. (It is a welcome change of tone.)

Stalin also gave a clear answer to those outside of Russia who might have fears as to the intention of the Soviet Union after the Germans have been ousted from this country. He rejected potential Axis peace agreements and asked, "Is it not quite clear that only the full routs of the Hitlerian army and the unconditional capitulation of Hitlerian Germany could bring a peace to Europe?"

The Stalin plan for victory set down in his order of the day. He says that only "two or three more powerful blows from the east and the west are necessary" to knock Germany and Italy out of the war. He means such powerful blows as the one at Stalingrad and the Axis defeat in Africa. But he warns that these blows are going to be bitter, bloody, and expensive for both Russia and her Anglo-American allies.

The order of the day has created great, good feeling for Russia's allies here in Moscow. It must be creating some great worries and a good deal of concern in Berlin and Rome.

It is serving as a great pep talk for the hard-worked and hard fighting Russian people. It is also great ammunition for the war of nerves against the Axis.

April 28, 2015

1943. The Red Army's Aircraft

Fighting for Air Supremacy
Ilyushin Il-4 bomber
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 21, 1943

With the spring lull on the front bogging down the Red Army in every sector but the Kuban, we've been hearing more about Russia's bombing force than ever before. No foreigner knows very much about the Red Army bombers. But the pictures and the few details of these planes that have been printed add up to some pretty impressive facts.

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.

Here's what we do know about Russia's bomb carriers.

The Soviet bombing force is based on five different types of Russian-built planes. The biggest plane is a four-motored heavy bomber which looks a little like our Liberator. It's called the TB-7. It was this type of plane that carried Mr. Molotov to the United States and Britain last year. And it's the plane that gets long distance heavy bombing assignments.

The Russian medium bomber is a bi-motored affair that looks like our B-25. These Soviet light-heavyweight planes are believed to have a longer range than the American-built planes of similar type. They also participate in the Russian bombings of Germany. The latest is called the SB-3.

We know very little about the Soviet dive-bomber. It's called the PF/PR/PB 2-8. It looks like the American A-20 attack bomber. Actually, this Soviet bomber is sort of a combination plane. It can be used as a dive-bomber or an attack bomber for bombing and strafing troops, or it can be used as a fighter bomber, and often is.

Then the smallest of the Russian bombers you already have heard about. That's the Stormovik, which is also known in Russia as the IL-2. The Germans call this plane "Black Death." It's a single motored job with guns sticking out of it like quills on a porcupine. It's not a very fast plane, but its armament makes it an infantryman's terror. This is probably one of the most successful war-planes developed in this war. It carries light bombs as well as special antitank rocket equipment.

And supplementing this equipment are the American planes sent to the Russian front. These planes include many medium bombers and attack bombers which now are attacking the rear of the German army. The Russian pilots love these machines, and they are the best manned and best equipped ships on the Russian front. The Soviet air officers to whom I have talked only say they wish they had more of them. The American lend-lease officials here assure me that more of these planes are arriving every day ready for action.

And it's an easy job to put these American planes into battle. All the ground crews have to do is take some red paint and turn the White Star of the United States Air Force into the Red Star of Soviet Russia.
 ____________________________
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

March 21, 1943

The news from the Battle of the Donets this morning is more encouraging than it has been for the past several days. The German drive seems to have bogged on the wet right bank of the river, and the Red Army is inflicting heavy losses on the Nazi forces both in men and equipment.

This morning's communiqué from the Soviet high command admits that the Germans have made some progress in the Chuguyev sector, but they paid an exceedingly high price for a minor advance.

But on the other sectors of the Donets river battle line, not a single German advance was reported. Front dispatches say that the Soviet resistance has been so telling in this fighting for the river that the Germans have been forced to change their tactics.

In the early days of this counteroffensive, the Nazi command took advantage of its superiority in manpower and equipment and rushed the Red Army back by sheer force of arms in direct frontal assaults.

Today, however, the Germans are finding this to be too expensive. They have given up these frontal assaults and are now trying infiltrating flank attacks. This one fact alone makes good reading, especially when you consider just how different this battle is from the Nazi blitzkrieg warfare that used to carry Hitler's armies forward at a rate of twelve to fifteen miles a day.

Flying weather along the entire Russian front has improves during the past week. As a result, the war birds are again in full flight. For the first time this spring, large scale air operations are being used by both the Russians and the Germans to support their offensives.

The heaviest air fighting in the past few days has been on the front extending southward from Vyazma to the Bryansk sector. Here Soviet pilots have for the first time reported large numbers of the latest Focke-Wulf fighters. These fighters include not only the early two-cannon P-W 190, but also the latest four-cannon jobs, the Focke-Wulf 190 A-3. The Red Army fliers say that these new German fighters are out in large numbers on this central sector.

The air fighting is mostly done over the battlefields, although some of the fiercest fighting has been during Soviet air attacks on German supply bases in the rear.

The Russian pilots, like the American and British fliers operating from England, report that the Germans, even in their newest plane, will not give battle unless they have the advantage both in numbers and tactical position.

The new Russian fighter planes—that is the last models of the MiGs, the Yaks—have shown no inferiority in performance in these latest air battles on the Eastern Front. Twenty-three air battles were fought over the Central sector during the past two days. During this short period the Germans lost seventeen fighters.

Both the Russians and the Germans are taking advantage of the clear moonlit nights to carry out large scale night bombing on supply points. In the daytime, the bombing is mostly confined to Stormer operations by fighter-bombers who search out troop concentrations and artillery positions.

And remember, American planes are also playing a part in this Red Army aerial offensive. Medium bombers and fighters from the United States helped break the German resistance at Rzhev and Vyazma. Presumably they are still in the battle as the Russians push toward Smolensk.

1968. How Sick is American Society?

The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
Senator Robert F. Kennedy in June, 1968 (Bill Eppridge—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

June 5, 1968

This national capital of Washington today is a city that's sick at heart over the shooting of Senator Robert Kennedy, reflecting the sadness and sense of outrage that must be general throughout the country among all men of good will.

And underneath it all, there is smouldering indignation and frustrated anger that the great United States of America is held up to Americans and to the world as a kind of political shooting gallery, where it's open season on candidates for public office who can be gunned down by any crackpot who may disagree with the candidate's policies or who dislikes the pattern of his neck tie.

As a political weapon, assassination was practiced by the ancient dynasties of Egypt, and by the Machiavellan nobles of Dark Age Italy. In more modern times, assassination became the hallmark of the struggles for power among the competing monarchies attempting to preserve their tottering thrones in the Balkans. And, of course, there are the gunboat military junta governments of Latin America.

But this is the last half of the twentieth century, and this is the USA, the country whose 190-year-old revolution is still shaking the world with the idea that every man has a right to be free, to establish justice under an elected government of, by, and for the people.

This revolutionary idea has been so successful that the United States has grown into the most prosperous and powerful government in the world. And because it is a government of laws made by men, the American democracy lays no claim to perfection. The promise of this republic is that free men, using their democratic rights and the machinery established for the purpose, can always use them to correct the wrongs of the society and improve the laws of government in a dynamic process of change.

This was what Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were trying to do when they were killed. This is what Dr. Martin Luther King was attempting when he was shot. The primary campaigns of Robert Kennedy, climaxed by yesterday's California election, were also dedicated to changing the course of America and improving its society.

I got the first public reaction to the Los Angeles shooting from a taxi driver who drove me to work this morning. The bitter words that this young Negro cabbie spoke bear repeating, because many people must be thinking the same thing.

"This country is sick," the driver declared. "Here in Washington I've driven many people who talked like they hated Senator Kennedy. They didn't like what he did, they didn't like how he cut his hair. I tell you, the country is sick."

As he pulled up to the ABC News office here, the taxi driver made a final, bitter comment. "I tell you that any man today who tries to unite the races under one flag in this country is going to get it, black or white. That's what happened to Dr. King. That's what they tried to do to Senator Kennedy. Democracy?" he asked. "Forget it."

These, of course, were the remarks of only one Washington working man venting the frustrated anger that many people across the country must feel at the out-of-hand attempt to assassinate Robert Kennedy.

But is the American society sick? It is if the people allow a small group of extremists—right or left—to make it so. The American society is sick if the people lose confidence in their own history and purpose and indulge in scapegoating or embark on some senseless and bloody witch hunt.

This is a time to remember and cherish the freedoms which are the basis of American justice. For if we do not operate under the rule of law and respect reason and order, then my outraged cab driver will be right.

Democracy? You would be forced to forget about it.

April 27, 2015

1953. Eleanor Roosevelt on Liberalism and American Foreign Policy

An Interview With Eleanor Roosevelt


August 26, 1953. 11:00 PM on the Longines Chronoscope:
EDWARD P. MORGAN: Mrs. Roosevelt, some nights ago I had dinner with a man and his wife in Spokane, Washington. Quite sincerely, but quite seriously, they asked me two questions. They said, "Do these foreigners hate us as much as they seem to?" and "Are they ever going to be grateful for the things that we do for them?" Now, you've just come back from one of your latest trips in far parts of the world. Could you answer those questions?

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: Well, I would not say that foreigners hated us. I would say that many of them were a little suspicious; that they did not like to feel that everything they wanted to do—they had to ask us for our help. Or some of it would come from the United Nations, and they liked that better because they were members and they felt they got it by right and there was no one individual nation that they had to depend on. But I would say that it was always hard to be grateful for something which you felt. You would like to be able to do without asking anyone.

BILL DOWNS: Well, Mrs. Roosevelt, we've heard a lot about criticism of American policy and what we have done or tried to. Is this something new or, I mean, is this something to do with this administration, the Truman administration, or perhaps even your late husband's administration?

ROOSEVELT: I think it began probably when the war was over and we began to have to help people to build up again, and we were the ones who had not been bombed and who had no homes destroyed. We had difficulty in getting new homes, but we didn't have to carry away acres of rubble of old homes that once existed. And we had our whole production unit intact, and practically no other nation in the world was in that fortunate position.

DOWNS: In other words, this is history rather than policy.

ROOSEVELT: This is history rather than politics, and I think, of course, that there is some envy in it—there is when people say, "Will they never be grateful for what we've done?" I think there is gratitude.
But gratitude is sometimes swamped by the sense of "why was this done?" Was it done in the long run so we could—we who just freed ourselves from political domination—be dominated through economics? Now, that's not unnatural, because the history of most of these countries in Asia and some in parts of Europe is that people who do things for you expect something in return.

MORGAN: And I suppose if we do things as we are supposed to do, in enlightened self-interest, that we are not necessarily expected to anticipate gratitude?

ROOSEVELT: Well, of course it is enlightened self-interest, because getting them back on their feet is necessary for us because we need markets.

MORGAN: You spoke of the United Nations, Mrs. Roosevelt, and that brings up a most topical point. And before we get into the heart of it, let's explore public reaction to it here. There seems to be a great deal of suspicion among our own people about the United Nations and its effectiveness. What is your reaction to that?

ROOSEVELT: Well, I think that's easily explained, because you see that we're a very big country and a very strong country. We have not needed any of the programs carried on by the specialized agencies which are the action part of the United Nations. We've not needed those programs in our country because we were alright. India has needed to have land cleared of malaria. Other nations have needed help to get rid of tuberculosis.
There are a thousand and one things that less fortunate nations can see have happened and be grateful for from the United Nations. We don't happen to have been in that category. It matters to us what the United Nations does elsewhere because, again, where people are ridden with malaria they will never buy our goods.

DOWNS: Well, Mrs. Roosevelt, do you think that the United Nations as an instrument of world political opinion and operation has lost ground in the last say, five, six years in this country?

ROOSEVELT: I think, like everything else, that we started out expecting that the United Nations would solve every difficulty right just by being the United Nations. We didn't realize that the United Nations was only all the nations gathered in one place, but all the troubles remained just as they were before! And therefore we had to work to make the United Nations work, and we didn't want to work, and we didn't expect to have to do this work. And now we know we have to. Which is healthy, I think.

MORGAN: That brings up another point, Mrs. Roosevelt. Secretary of State Dulles has just made an important speech before the American Bar Association in Boston, the essence of which was that the United Nations Charter, I think he put it, was a pre-Atomic Age charter, and therefore not flexible to the times. And he recommended that the Security Council be stripped of the veto. And said that in some future assembly—in '55, I believe it was—that the United States would consider sponsoring such a move. What do you believe about that?

ROOSEVELT: Well of course that's a great change for the United States because we felt that, unless we had the veto, we would never get the charter through Congress, and that was one reason why the veto was put there.
Of course, the fact that the Soviets have misused the veto; used it for a great many things that it was not intended for. What it was intended for was to make it possible for a nation, a great nation, to prevent the discussion of domestic affairs which they considered were no business of anybody else's in the world. Whether we now are ready to submit to discussion of our domestic affairs is a question that the people will have to decide.

DOWNS: Aren't we in effect—or isn't Secretary Dulles in effect—asking for a showdown, though, when he says "Alright, leave us; split the United Nations, or let people line up on our side or their side with no veto, and we carry this by majority vote." Do you think that is a possible consequence?

ROOSEVELT: Well, I would hope that perhaps just as we trust our people in the United States, we were trying the experiment of trusting the nations of the world. I hope we would do nothing, however, so definite that we really hurt the United Nations, because I think this is the one great hope for eventually building peace. And to do anything like making a pronouncement of a policy which you cannot change if you find it is unwise in the future—and today heaven knows you're being met constantly with new reasons, and you ought to be able to be flexible.

MORGAN: Mrs. Roosevelt, excuse me. Speaking as Bill Downs did a moment ago of lining up on one side or the other—what is your view as to our position regarding India and the issue of her representation at the Korean Peace Conference?

ROOSEVELT: Well, last year I was in India and I wrote a book called India and the Awakening East as just trying to explain some of the problems of that area of the world in very simple fashion because I could only give impressions. It's not a learned treatise.
My feeling is that when you insist on lining up people, what you do is put our friends with the Soviets if you insist that that's the only place they can sit. I feel it's very unfortunate.

DOWNS: Well, Mrs. Roosevelt, you have become known as the leader of what is loosely called the "liberal movement" in this country, or what used to be called the liberal movement in this country, and some people call them "do-gooders" and the rest of it. Could you define a liberal for us, I mean, in your own words?

ROOSEVELT: It's very hard to put in a few words what a liberal is, but I would feel that a liberal was a person who kept an open mind, was willing to meet new questions with new solutions, and felt that you could move forward; you didn't have to always look backwards and be afraid of moving forward. 

MORGAN: And that's what this National Issues Committee that you're...

ROOSEVELT: The National Issues Committee is going to try to look at the issues, to put them in simple terms so that the people can understand them as objectively as possible and to feel that they can, as the liberals do, move forward.

MORGAN: Now for the final question, Mrs. Roosevelt. I'm sorry, Bill.
We've been told by our experts that we may have to live in this world of uncertainty and indecision short of war, in a Cold War for x number of years to come. What is your recipe for us to face up to it?

ROOSEVELT: Well, I think the study of our history. Certainly the people who settled this country didn't have any great security, and it's hard for the young to live in uncertainty. They love to be sure of the future. But I really think that we have the stamina, particularly if we look at what we came from, to live through uncertainty.

MORGAN: Thank you very much.

1967. The Racist Backlash Against the Civil Rights Movement

The Ignorance Epidemic
A flyer from the "Alert Americans Association" featured in the tabloid The Augusta Courier, July 8, 1963  (click to enlarge)
Bill Downs was accused of liberal bias for some of his radio editorials in the late 1960s. Most focused on foreign policy, but he also covered domestic issues. He was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, and often criticized those he viewed as reactionary and ignorant. As he said in 1968 about a report issued by the White House Commission on Civil Disorder:
Perhaps the most revealing single fact in the report is the almost total ignorance of the white majority of Americans concerning the colored minority. As the Commission put it: "Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans. What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it...white society condones it."

To those well-meaning whites who protest that "I didn't have anything to do with the slums. I pay my taxes and obey the laws." Well, such protests have no meaning. Because the stinking, rat-ridden ghettos are there. And there are the angry and hopeless people forced to live in them because they have no other place to go.
In response to his broadcasts some listeners sent in angry letters, two of which are featured here. They wrote in to express their fears of a communist conspiracy. They also made clear their hostility toward the Civil Rights Movement.

The last portion is a newsletter written by anticommunist activist and conspiracy theorist Kenneth Goff. It solicits donations by capitalizing on the ignorance of many white Americans amid the riots and unrest across the country.

Written on the back: "telephone wire tapping." The blacked out portion is Skinner's address
July 20, 1967

To Bill Downs

ABC Broadcasting Co.

Washington, D.C.

I was listening to your broadcast this evening concerning National Rifle Assc. and its members and I was quite concerned or rather upset in your reasoning (logic). In other words one bad apple ruins the whole sack full. If this is the correct way to evaluate all organizations I'm afraid we have real problems.

I have been a member of the N.R.A. for many years and proud to be a part of the overall program it stands for. I am also a free and accepted Mason and realize that of all the good this organization stands for there is still a few bad apples in the bunch. I would give my life for my country and firmly believe in the Almighty God. We need these organizations so we may group our efforts for the betterment of all. The common mistake we make (in haste) these days is to eliminate every thing but the source of our problems, which we ignore.

Sincerely,

Newell Skinner
_________________________________________________________________

An anonymous listener sent in their reaction to Downs' broadcast:
July 25, 1967

To Bill Downs

Dear Bill -

Heard your commentary the other day on the National Rifleman's Assn. I wouldn't worry about them but about the international communist conspiracy, which is what is behind the trouble in Detroit, N.Y., Calif. etc.

Consider the enclosed by a former member of the Communist Party.

So strange we blame all on the right wing, rats, heat etc. Let's identify it by what it is. King said a couple of years ago that "the Am. people have too long suppressed my people, we will see to her destruction!" Why aren't these people stopped???

Sincerely,

A Concerned Matthew
 _________________________________________________________________

Dear Christian Friend,

The "Long, Hot Summer" is upon us. From coast to coast, civil disturbances, riots, and blackouts have become the order of the day. With blood flowing in the streets of Omaha, West Palm Beach, New York, South Bend, Denver, Chicago, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and several dozen other major cities across the nation, a new phase in the Civil Rights Movement has begun.

The young Turks among the negroes, being spurred on by the Communist Party and its new chairman, the negro, Henry Winston, along with the Illuminati, are out for power and blood. The old adage of "give an inch, and they'll take a mile" is coming true. For years, we have told you that the Civil Rights drive is Communist inspired; for over twenty years, they have been training leaders for this hour. We have stated that Red propaganda has flooded the negro race, instilling bitter hatred in their minds. They have been repeatedly brainwashed with phrases like "there goes Whitey, kill, kill, kill," until it has turned sane people into madmen.

One can see this in Lee Oswald, who killed the President while acting under the orders of the Communists. One can see this in the madman sailor, Richard Benjamin Speck, who killed eight nurses in one of the bloodiest massacres in the 20th century. Speck had the sickle tattooed on his body! These mad robots are inspired and trained to kill; the lust for blood has been planted in their minds. To believe otherwise is a folly. This, the nurses found out to their sorrow.

Dr. Generoso Provido, Philippine Consul General in Chicago, said that Nurse Amurao told him that she, and the other eight student nurses, discussed their plight while being held captive, and the strategy that won out was "maybe if we are quiet and calm, he will remain quiet and calm," but they were wrong. "They were too trusting," Dr. Provido said. He said Miss Amurao was on the side of those who urged the group to fight the man in order to defend their honor.

One hundred and eighty million Americans are acting like these eight nurses—they say, don't take action, this will soon end when the negroes get their civil rights; they believe one is stretching his imagination when one tells them that to join an ofay club, a negro must rape a white lady; they will not read the FBI reports on the increasing number of rapes in our nation. They refuse to admit that our major cities have become jungles at night, filled with beasts of prey; that no one is safe any longer either at home or on the street; and that many churches have been forced to cancel night services. We fail to understand that these madmen do not seek civil rights, but use it as an instrument through which they seek black power. They seek to subject our nation to tyranny, and to submerge our culture and religious heritage under a flood of cannibalism, voodooism, and beastly jungle sex orgies.

The drums that beat out rock-and-roll can be heard in the darkest parts of Africa sending forth the rhythm that prepares native tribes for the kill, and conditions their minds to participate in heathen sex orgies. Yet, today, in many so-called churches in our nation, these drums and heathen dances of black magic are taking the place of singing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "The Old Rugged Cross." The pulpits, the press, our schools, and government, have branded those who will not submit to these practices of the Devil, and integration, as bigots and racists. Yet, Elijah Muhammad makes no bones about telling us that he will kill every white man, woman, and child by 1970; but, this is not supposed to be racism.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

(ATTN: Those who have not sent in their "Zip", we must have it to send the Pilgrim Torch and any third class mail.)

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Revolutionary Action Movement, The Deacons for Defense—all call for seizing of black power by revolutionary means; but, this is not bigotry.

William Booth, a negro Civil Rights leader, says "if people aren't getting what they need, they should take it." M.L. King, who claims he is non-violent, creates violence everywhere he goes. He supports Red China and North Viet Nam, and has openly seized property in Chicago; but, this is in not bigotry.

Gun stores are being openly raided in every riot, and negroes are being armed and trained for guerrilla warfare and the revolution. But, if a white man is trained for survival, or for the protection of his home and family—in the eyes of the government, this is bigotry and open treason.

In many cities, hundreds of black men are meeting in secret cells planning an Armageddon in which Whitey is either to be exterminated or brought to his knees. Said one negro leader, "Let's get Whitey, let's put his head in the bowl and pull the chain." Said LeRoi Jones, the playwright who is getting tens of thousands of dollars of the taxpayer's money from the government to put on his anti-white plays, "I don't think it is necessary to make anything clear to the white man except perhaps that most of the people in the world would be better off if the white man didn't exist."

"What Whitey doesn't know," says another extremist leader, "is that the man he's overtipped not only doesn't love him for it—he may very well hate him. He may be wishing he could cut out his fine Christian heart."

The extremist leadership, a secret revolutionary elite scattered in clusters across the country, numbers in the hundreds. Each cluster has its own dedicated followers, numbering into the scores of hundreds. There are groups with weapons caches—sniper rifles, sidearms, shotguns, automatics, even bazookas—disappeared in tenement coalbins, in vacant attics, in the basements of funky bars where three double shots of scalding bourbon cost a man a dollar. There is, too, by common knowledge, a plentiful stockpile of empty soda bottles, rag wicks, funnels and cans of gasoline that convert into instant incendiaries of the type which, at Watts in south Los Angeles last August, leveled more than 200 business buildings and extensively damaged some 400 more.

A white storekeeper in Harlem, working on his week's bookkeeping on a Sunday morning, looked out the the rear window of his shop and was dumbfounded to see eighty to one hundred men in the courtyard resolutely going through combat drill with rifles, automatics and dummy demolition charges. When he reported his discovery to precinct detectives, the storekeeper was told that in recent months similar drills had been spotted and reported in northern Manhattan, the southern Bronx and the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. The police could only keep the would-be guerrillas under surveillance in an attempt to discover the location of their ordinance depot. The merchant, shaken by the backlot maneuvers, took off for his home in Queens and now does Sunday work in his living room.

A distraught mother on Chicago's South Side recently told detectives she had discovered that her 15-year-old son was stealing towels and stripping them for Molotov cocktail wicks. What should she do? The police advised her to keep them informed if possible—but under no circumstances to let her son know she knew, for fear that she would place herself in mortal danger from his associates.

"You can just about bet," said a special investigator from a large metropolitan police department, "that these people have the circuit diagrams of the underground power-cable systems in many of the major cities." Said a revolutionary, who has a degree in engineering, "These things are quite simple, you know—an idiot could almost do it. You only have to know what cable to cut, or what manhole cover to life—and where to place the explosives."

With growing unrest, with National Guard troops patrolling many streets, with military police forces on round-the-clock duty, this all totals up to only one thing. We are in a civil war. A revolution to subject the white race to black power.

The guilty ones are not the negroes—the guilty ones are the cheap politicians and our White House who sell their souls, and all that their fathers have bled and died for, in return for a few measly votes. Marxist doctrine in place of the doctrine of Christ. These are the ones who preach integration as if it is the law of God, even though they know the Bible condemns it.

The guilty ones are the press, radio, and T.V., who hawk their race-mixing wares, and who implant the hatred of whites in the south to gain  a few extra shekels.

Truly, this summer, America stands at the cross-roads of destiny—one road leads to the precipice of destruction. Will we awake before it is eternally too late, and act in such a way that our Republic can be redeemed? This summer could yet be an hour of decision for our nation and Christian civilization.

Soldiers of the Cross is on the battle line as ever, yet it is with loneliness and deep sorrow that I write this summer. In the past few months, we have had to say farewell to our friends and compatriots who have gone on to be with the Lord: Elizabeth Dilling, Dr. Harvey Springer, J.B. Matthews, Major Jordan, Sarah Deason, Chief of Police of Los Angeles, George Riegler, and Ruth Record Ewing. No more will their voices be heard amid the battle until Christ returns. The world becomes a sadder place, but heaven shines more brightly because they are there. To those of us who remain, the burden becomes more heavy. Our duty to fulfill our calling becomes greater.

We need your prayers. May God help us to raise and train more young people to fill the gap. At the Soldiers of the Cross Training Institute, we rejoice that our enrollment exceeds anything we have had in the past. At our conference, every building was filled, and many had to be placed at the motels and hotels in Evergreen. This summer there has been perfect unity and cooperation on the part of the students and teaching staff. Minds have been awakened; souls have been saved; leaders have been trained for the battled; and Christ has been exalted! In all of this we rejoice that the victory is Christ's.

Naturally, the increase in activities has depleted our treasury; because of this, we have been delayed in publishing the Torch, and in doing many other things that should be carried on. We pray that you have not forgotten us, nor the crusade to which we are dedicated. Our summer schools have over a month to go, and I have hoped it would be necessary for me to go into the field before the closing of these sessions. You can help through your prayers and contributions, and I trust that we shall hear from you shortly as this will determine how much, and what, action we can take.

For everyone who gives a gift this month, we have prepared a packet with material, that in our opinion, should be in every file. We have marked it Packet X and this shall be sent to everyone responding to this letter. Trusting to hear from you soon, I remain Sincerely yours for Christ and America.

Signed,
Kenneth Goff
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Soldiers of the Cross
Kenneth Goff - Box 116
Englewood, Colorado - 80110

Enclosed my contribution this month $_____________ for Christ and my Country. Send Packet X.

April 24, 2015

1943. The Nazis Struggle in Frozen Ukraine

The German Offensive on the Donets
"German and Romanian troops in supporting Donets crossing" (source)
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

March 19, 1943

Red Army forces on the middle reaches of the northern Donets river have for the most part been pushed back to the left bank of the stream, where they have thus far prevented the Germans from making any major crossings.

The official communiqué from Soviet headquarters made no mention of the Donets river fighting neither in last night's communiqué nor in this morning's dispatch.

However, front dispatches giving details of this battle for the river crossings revealed that the Battle of the Northern Donets is now raging at full tempo. It is not clear how long this river battle line extends. Presumably, the fighting extends near Chuguyev, which is southeast of Kharkov, down river to a point in the vicinity of Voroshilovgrad.

The German offensive up to the Donets has something of the character of a prairie fire, and today the Red Army is using this river line to prevent this fire from spreading northward and eastward.

However, this is no easy job. The Nazi command continues to throw in reinforcements, and fresh storm groups continue day and night in their attempts to establish a bridgehead across the river.

The northern Donets is still frozen. But there is a pre-spring thaw over the country that in daytime melts the surface snow, covering the ground with water. This has not appreciably slowed down the fighting, because the ground underneath is still frozen. However it makes troop movements in the area pretty uncomfortable.

There is several inches of water on the ice of the river itself, but this ice is still fairly strong. The Germans found on one sector yesterday that it is not strong enough to support tanks.

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.

This weakening of the ice has greatly helped the Soviet defense of the river. Now, in order to affect a crossing, the Germans have to build wide bridges over the ice—bridges constructed of logs and planks which will distribute the weight of a tank more evenly and allow passage on the surface without breaking through.

This fact partly explains the ferocity of the German attack on the middle Donets sector. It will not be long before the ice on the river begins to break up. Then, for a period of several weeks when the ice begins to move, passage across the river will be extremely difficult. The German command wants to establish a bridgehead while it still has a chance of maintaining good communications across the difficult stream. And that in a nutshell is what the current phase of this fighting is all about.

It's a day and night fight down there in the Ukraine. The Germans concentrate troops and tanks on one side of the river for a crossing. The Red Army concentrates mobile antitank and field artillery on the opposite bank. Such German attempts have thus far failed.

At night the Germans have succeeded in putting in small parties of Tommy gunners across the river, but they have been cut off and wiped out.

Soviet military experts call this kind of fighting "combined tactics," calling for positional warfare backed up by maneuver of mobile forces to repel enemy thrusts. Whatever it's called technically, it adds up to very, very tough fighting.

1943. Hitler's Plans for the Battle of Kursk

Theories on Operation Citadel


The original broadcast transcript did not survive, so the text is transcribed from the audio.
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

July 11, 1943

...The slaughter was terrific. However, the Germans have not eased any pressure on the Russian position. Fighting is still bitter. The situation on the Belgorod sector, where yesterday it appeared that the Nazis might be approaching a breakthrough, is no better today.

While Hitler is pounding away trying to close those military pincers on Kursk, there naturally has been conjecture here as to just what the German command has in mind in launching this kind of attack. The Germans concentrated many thousands of tanks in the region of Oryol and Belgorod with the obvious intent of biting off some ten thousand square miles of the Kursk salient. That strategy is obvious.

But what are the ultimate plans of the Nazi command? Naturally, no one here knows, but at least three theories have developed, and I thought you might be interested in them. But let me remind you they are pure conjecture.

One theory is that Hitler's intuition has gone into reverse, and this latest (?) Moscow from the south, then swinging northward for another encirclement move in an attempt to attack Moscow from the (?). You remember the German armies were trying just that maneuver on a larger scale last year, but were stopped at Stalingrad just as they were supposed to swing north for the encirclement of Moscow.

Another theory says that the Germans intend to strike eastward in the direction of Voronezh in an effort to engage the Red Army reserves so as to so weaken Russia's military power that Hitler can then turn to the defense of his European fortress for safety.

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.

There you have them, for what they're worth. Only time will tell if any one of them is correct.

I return you now to CBS in New York.

April 22, 2015

1947. We Went Back

We Went Back
Bill Downs in 1947 interviewing a German veteran
In 1947, three teams of CBS foreign correspondents toured postwar Europe and Japan to film a documentary called "We Went Back." As they retraced the steps of American GIs, they showed audiences the progress, or lack thereof, of some of the most war-torn countries two years later. Bill Downs headed one of these teams and was accompanied by the Polish photojournalist David Seymour, also known as Chim.

This review was published in Billboard, August, 1947, p. 12.
We Went Back

Reviewed August 23, 1947

Sustaining Via CBS

August 14, 1947, only.

Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) scored a resounding knockout with its latest documentary effort, We Went Back, presented on the second anniversary of V-J Day. A series of potent body blows, alternating between the heart and the gut, plus some resounding jolts to the brain, added up to an hour of championship caliber.

With Robert Montgomery drawing the many strings together as narrator, the show consisted of a series of wire recordings made in virtually every theater of military operations by three teams of CBS correspondents headed by Bill Downs, James Hurlbut and Bill Costello. Locale of the recording shifted rapidly, jumped from one continent to another and back again at the rate of almost one per minute. Still, despite the swiftness of the pacing, the switch in mood from nostalgia of the past to grimness of the present to fear of the future, the show's basic premise was present throughout. This was the challenge represented by a Russian soldier's inscription on the wall of the bunker where Hitler spent his last hours: "Long live the peace!"


Smiles Not Lacking

It's difficult to say just which mood was most successfully evoked by the program. Comparison between former days and present conditions in long-remembered spots, where G.I.'s lived or fought or sweated out the war, was good for a number of smiles. Interviews with peoples of other lands, their feelings about politics or the American soldier, or how tough it is just to keep alive, were hard-hitting and, save for a few bland inserts, hit the very core. But possibly hardest to top were those sections in which the fears of a new war were voiced in several ways.

The mayor of Bastogne, Belgium was one of the first to ring in this ominous note. Crippled by the Nazis, striving to overcome obstacles to rebuild his shattered city, he nevertheless indicated he believed a new was was imminent because the United States is too soft with the Germans and is permitting them to rebuild. The feeling was heightened in an interview with a German border guard at Aachen—a 20-year-old product of the Hitler Youth. Boldly, the young Nazi spoke into the CBS mike his willingness to join any military or political group which would take up arms to drive the Russian Occupation Army off German soil. As Bill Downs said, episodes make you begin to wonder what's been going on.


Pattern Fills Out

Other fragments made up part of the same pattern. The Japanese, rebuilding Hiroshima, debated what type of materials to use, saying it all depended upon whether the Russians and Americans would use ordinary or atom bombs. The German girl in Berlin recounted how a test flight of U.S. planes over the city recently started the rumor that the war had begun, and how the Germans believed it inevitable. In contrast was the brief recording at Dachau, where 233,000 met death, and where the newly whitewashed walls already were stained red with blood soaked through the bricks.

Everywhere you go, the CBS men reported, people are rebuilding, yet expect war; the pieces just don't fit together. Composing a faithful record of praise showered upon us by former enemies, and our distrust of former allies, the entire show represented a provocative illustration of the thesis voiced at its conclusion: We are not celebrating the second anniversary of peace, for peace will not have come until its security in the future is certain. Like the rest of the show, Harry Salter's musical backgrounds were effective. CBS will have a tough job in the future trying to top this documentary.

April 21, 2015

1943. Russian Tank Desant

Танкодесантники
Soviet infantry on the 2nd Ukrainian Front under cover of a T-34 tank during the Red Army advance to Budapest. December 1944 (Sovfoto)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

March 5, 1943

This morning's communiqué for the first time mentions a Red Army drive south of Rzhev as well as the Soviet advance southwest of the city in the direction of Smolensk. Both these advances have moved ahead over the ravined forest and steppe country at the rate of between three-to-six miles in a single night.

All in all, in the fighting south and southwest of Rzhev, the Russian troops have captured 52 inhabited points (along with prisoners and booty. Ten of these points were occupied in the region south of Olenino, which was taken yesterday.)

This Red Army advance south of Rzhev is of extreme importance. There is a large railroad line leading into the Vyazma bulge, and it is in this bulge that German troops were last reported only a little over one hundred miles directly west of Moscow. (The Red Army's advance down the German base at Vyazma is a serious flank threat to this bulge. The Russian troops this morning are only some fifty miles away from Vyazma itself.) And it must be remembered that Vyazma lies on the main railroad from Moscow to Smolensk. The capture of Vyazma would allow the Russian troops to concentrate with those operating southwestward from Rzhev in a two-pronged attack on Smolensk.

(For the past week, there has been little news of fighting in the Donbass. The Red Army offensive here has been decidedly slowed. The Germans are making counterattacks and throwing in large reserves.)

(However, this morning the Soviet high command announced a Red Army advance in the strong German fortifications which have stalled the Soviet drive west of Rostov. The Soviet commanders have brought up strong artillery forces on this sector, and last night they turned loose a powerful barrage that enabled the Russian infantry to capture an entire line of enemy trenches. The Germans tried to retake these positions by a counterattack with infantry supported by tanks. This attempt failed. In the past twenty-four hours in this fighting west of Rostov, the Germans have lost 800 men.)

This morning the army newspaper Red Star revealed another detail of this amazing winter offensive which partly explains the ingenuity of the Red Army attack which has brought it such success.

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). Officially, in the words of the Soviet Union's military experts, these combined tank and infantry operations are known as "tank desants."

What this tactic really boils down to is that a group of Tommy gunners and riflemen are piled on to a tank, hanging onto anything they can grab and riding into the battle in style. This is not a particularly new idea. It was used in last winter's fighting by the Germans as well as the Russians.

What is new is that the Russian command developed its hitchhiking fighting units into highly trained groups who make combined tank and infantry raids a science.

In the early days, the hitchhiking infantry just piled on and hoped for the best. Today, every man has his place. The men ride into battle until the going gets too hot for the safety of the operation. Then, at the command of the officer in charge, they roll off together.

It used to be that the tank would then roll on ahead, and the Tommy gunners and riflemen would keep up as best they could.

This is not true today. The tank either slows down so that it can cover hitchhike troops, or else lines are attached to the back of the tank and the men run along behind being pulled at a gallop by their tank. If they are equipped with skis, the going is just that much easier and faster.

These tank-borne troops often direct the fire of the tank. And if it is a night operation, they act as scouts, going ahead of the tank to protect it against ambushes.

Finally, when an objective is taken, it is the job of the hitchhikers to hold the place until the main infantry forces can arrive.

These tank-infantry forces have played a great part in the Red Army advance west of Stalingrad, and today are operating from Rzhev and Kursk.

April 20, 2015

1944. The Allies Roll Through Brittany

Retaking Brittany


Bill Downs

CBS

August 6, 1944
Senior British staff officers said tonight that the German Seventh Army, (who) are trying to hold the Allied troops within their Normandy beachhead, have suffered a major defeat, and that the events of the past ten days have given the American, Canadian, and British forces in France their first big victory.

This high staff officer said that, since D-Day, the Allied troops in France had virtually eliminated thirteen German divisions. And no army could stand to lose the number of prisoners alone that the Germans have lost to us without suffering a major defeat.

The British staff officer paid special tribute to the American forces now rolling in Brittany. "The Americans have been remarkable in exploiting their gains through very tough country," he said. Then he added, "We can learn a lot from them."

This high British officer, who is in a position to know the complete picture of the war, painted the most optimistic picture that we have had since we've been here in France. He said that the Germans appear to be establishing a series of fortress areas around the important Brittany ports which the American forces are now threatening. The Germans are carrying out demolition in these ports. And in addition to a great land victory, the American tanks in Brittany also have won one of the war's greatest naval victories. The capture of the Brittany port will wipe out Hitler's main U-boat and E-Boat bases, and force a complete change of German naval strategy.
However, the Germans are expected to fight bitterly for their now cut off fortress ports. "It is impossible to be anything but extremely optimistic at the present stage of the war," the officer said. And then he went on to give his reason for this optimism: "First, on the land front, the Russian advance is threatening Germany itself. In Italy, there are a series of unbroken victories that should continue. The Western Front is going like a (?), and the resistance front inside occupied France is almost boiling over."

1943. Field Marshal Paulus in Custody After Stalingrad

"Clearing Russia of Fascists"
"German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrendering at the Battle of Stalingrad, January 31, 1943" (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

February 9, 1943

The Russian blow at Kursk was so fierce and the threat of encirclement so great that the Germans fled frantically, throwing away quantities of equipment. However, suicide rearguard regiments put up the usual hopeless and violent last stand battles in the streets. (This key German winter base went down with the same amount of bloody fighting that has characterized the Nazi retreat all during the winter offensive.)

Red Star also revealed today that the Russian winter offensive is being spearheaded by special motorized tank units formed and trained since the German attack on Russia nineteen months ago. It was these new, special troops which I saw at Stalingrad three days ago.

(The common characteristic of these troops is the spirit of youth which runs from the highest general to the lowest private.)

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. He is Fyodor Yelchenko, a Ukrainian kid with a grin a mile wide.

I talked with Senior Lieutenant Yelchenko in the narrow, bare room where Von Paulus had his headquarters in the basement of Stalingrad's biggest department store. Only the basement of this big five-story building was intact.

Yelchenko was leading a group of fifteen Tommy gunners (which were part of a force which surrounded) against the German Sixth Army headquarters. The lieutenant (who grinned all the time as he told the story) said that, after the initial artillery barrage on the headquarters, a delegation of German soldiers carrying a white flag approached his group.

"They said they wanted to talk with a Russian big chief who would talk with me," the lieutenant said. "I was the officer in command so I went along. Since Germans are still Germans, I took along two men. The guards led me (through the minefields protecting the building, and I went) into the basement. There, Major General Roske and Lieutenant General Schmidt stood at the table. Von Paulus was lying on a narrow iron bed in another room. They asked what were our terms, and told them they were complete surrender as outlined by our command several days earlier. Schmidt kept running back and forth to Von Paulus as we talked.

"Then they asked if I wanted to see Field Marshal Paulus and ask him any questions. We had settled all the questions, but I had a look at him anyway. He was lying on his bed looking very sad, and he needed a shave, but he wore all his decorations."

Fyodor Yelchenko, a farm boy from Ukraine, is typical of the "Soviet men of decision" who are pledged to clear Russia of fascists.

The Ominous Nazi Song Parody: "We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line"

Nazi Germany's Ominous Song Parody
Winston Churchill with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery visiting the Siegfried Line in March 1945
In 1939, the British novelty song "We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line" was released in the first few months of war in Europe. With cheerful singing interspersed with equally cheerful fanfare, the song imagines a quick and easy victory. It was a hit in the UK, with sheet music sales reaching 300,000 by the end of the year. Although the song may have had a positive effect on national morale during its initial release, it has since been derided as naive and "ignorant" of the actual threat the country faced.

In 1941 or early 1942, with Axis victory still a strong possibility, the Nazis responded with the threatening parody "Wir trocknen uns're Wäsche an der Siegfried-Linie." It begins by mimicking the original version in English, with the chorus quickly drowned out by the sounds of Stuka bombers over Britain. The song then violently transitions to a German rejoinder set to the 1866 Prussian Königgrätzer Marsch.

A French rendition titled "On ira pendre notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried" was released soon after the original version.

The audio and lyrics to the British, German, and French versions are featured below.


The British version was aired by the BBC in 1939:
We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line
We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
'Cause the washing day is here.

Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We'll just rub along without a care!
We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line
If that Siegfried Line's still there!

Mother dear I'm writing you from somewhere in France,
Hoping to find you well.
Sergeant says I'm doing fine, a soldier and a half,
Here's a song that we all sing, this'll make you laugh.

We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
'Cause the washing day is here.

Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We'll just rub along without a care!
We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
If that Siegfried Line's still there!

Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We'll just rub along without a care!
We're going to hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
If that Siegfried Line's still there!
Adolf Hitler in Paris soon after the Fall of France, 1940 (source)
The Nazis later aired a derisive parody (beginning at 2:42 in the video) through the Reich Broadcasting Corporation:
Wir trocknen uns're Wäsche an der Siegfried-Linie
(imitating the British singers)
We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line,
'Cause the washing day—

(bombs dropping)
...We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line...
Stuka! Stuka!
...We're gonna hang out the washing on the Siegfried Line...

(switching to German)
Ja, mein Junge, das hast du dir gar zu leicht gedacht
mit dem großen Wäschetag am deutschen Rhein,
hast du dir auch deine Hosen tüchtig vollgemacht,
brauchst du gar nicht traurig sein!

Bald seifen wir dich gründlich ein
von oben und von unten her
wenn der deutsche Waschtag wird gewesen sein,
Mensch, dann brauchst du keine Wäsche mehr!

Sing dies Liedchen mit, wer es nur immer singen mag
mit der zweiten Kriegsberichterkompanie
Bis zum Wäschetag, ja bis zum Wäschetag.
In aller Herrgottsfrüh.
Mein Mädel, schenk' noch einmal ein
Und tanzt und trinkt die Gläser leer.
Denn wenn der große Waschtag wird gewesen sein
kehr' ich heim, kehr' ich heim übers Meer!
English translation:
Yes, my boy, you thought it would be so easy
With the great washing day on the German Rhine.
Even if you filled your trousers,
You needn't feel so sad!
Soon we will soap you up thoroughly
From top to bottom.
And when the German washing day is over,
You won't need any more washing.

Sing this song with me, whoever wants to sing
With the Second War Reporter Company.
Until washing day, yes until washing day
At the crack of dawn.
My girl, give us another round
And we'll dance and drink the glasses dry.
Because when the great washing day is done and gone,
I'll come home, I'll come home from across the sea.

The French version was released soon after the original and includes some of the English lyrics:
On ira pendre notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
Un petit Tommy chantait cet air plein d'entrain
En arrivant au camp
Tout les p'tits poilus joyeux apprirent le refrain
Et bientôt tout le régiment
Entonnait gaiement

On ira pendr' notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
Pour laver le linge, voici le moment
On ira pendr' notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
A nous le beau linge blanc.

Les vieux mouchoirs et les ch'mis's à Papa
En famille on lavera tout ça
On ira pendr' notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
Si on la trouve encore là.
On ira là

Tout le monde à son boulot en met un bon coup
Avec un cœur joyeux
On dit que le Colonel est très content de nous
Et tant pis pour les envieux
Tout va pour le mieux.

On ira pendr' notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
Pour laver le linge, voici le moment
On ira pendr' notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
A nous le beau linge blanc.

Les napp's à fleurs et les ch'mis's à Papa
En famille on lavera tout ça
On ira pendr' notre linge sur la ligne Siegfried
Si on la trouve encore là.
On ira là
References:

Charman, Terry (2010). The Day We Went to War. (Random House), p. 361.

Freedman, Jean R. (2015). Whistling in the Dark: Memory and Culture in Wartime London. (University Press of Kentucky), pp. 169-170.

Kennedy, J.J. (2011). The Man Who Wrote the Teddy Bears' Picnic: How Irish-Born Lyricist and Composer Jimmy Kennedy Became One of the Twentieth Century's Finest Songwriters.  (AuthorHouse), p. 145.

April 18, 2015

1942. Soviet Leaflet for Nazi Soldiers Near the End of the Battle of Stalingrad

"Your situation is hopeless, and any further resistance is futile."
"A wounded German soldier has a smoke with Luftwaffe pilots before being flown to a hospital. A German controlled airfield. Stalingrad. Winter. 1942." (source)
The Red Army distributed this German-language leaflet to Wehrmacht soldiers in the late stages of the Battle of Stalingrad. It taunts them and calls for their surrender, insisting that the German army has been routed and warning that those who continue to fight will see no mercy.

Below is an English translation followed by the original German version. The text is formatted in the same manner as the leaflet.

December 23, 1942:
To the encircled officers and soldiers of the German Wehrmacht in the area of Stalingrad

Soldiers and officers of the encircled German Army in the area of Stalingrad!


You have been encircled for an entire month; a tight ring of Soviet troops has encompassed you.

You have been hoping for support from the troops, which Hitler has hastily gathered in the area north of Kotelnikowo.


So know, then, that we have devastatingly beaten them.

In the area of Wassilewka—Werchnje-Kumski—Klykow the Red Army has overrun and defeated six German divisions, including three tank divisions, and the remains of said troops have been thrown back 60—85 kilometers. During these fights 278 German planes, 427 tanks and 221 guns have been destroyed. Deaths alone have cost the Germans 17000 men. Your hope to receive aid from the direction of Kotelnikowo has hereby been wrecked.

You had hoped that the troops, which Hitler has hastily gathered in the area of Tormossin, would bail you out.


So know, then, that said troops have been devastatingly beaten and crushed.

The Red Army has also launched an offensive towards the middle Don, and during the battles between the 16th and 27th December, has obliterated 58000 German soldiers and officers, captured 56000 men, 305 tanks, 2128 guns, 310 ammunition and provisions depots have been captured or destroyed.


Our troops have captured the cities Millerowow, Tormossin, Tazinskaja and Morosowski.

During one month of fighting in the area of Stalingrad and during ten days of fighting at the middle Don, the German troops have lost


169000 men to death, 128000 men have been captured alongside 2663 tanks and 5356 guns.

Your hopes to receive help from the direction of Tormossin have also been crushed.

You did finally hope to receive help from transport planes.


So know, then, that the Soviet air force and artillery have already destroyed the majority of the transport planes that were designated to aid the encircled German troops near Stalingrad.

Between the 25th of November and the 27th of December 765 German planes, including 473 transport planes Ju 52, have been destroyed in the area around Stalingrad. Additionally Soviet troops have ruined 30 transport planes at the airfields near Tazinskaja.

Your situation is hopeless, and any further resistance is futile. Do you still not see, that all of your hopes to escape the pocket are irretrievably gone!

German officers and soldiers!

The Soviet leadership appeals and warns you one last time:


SURRENDER

and you are released from the cold and the hunger. Your life and your personal belongings are safe.

German officers!

You know better than your soldiers that the situation of the encircled troops at Stalingrad is hopeless, and about the futility of your resistance. You know excellently not to expect any more help.


You can save your soldiers and yourselves by laying down your weapons.

You can not lead the encircled soldiers into ruin. Think about the fact that, if you do not surrender into captivity, the responsibility for the demise of tens of thousands of German soldiers will fall on you.


Whoever does not surrender should expect no mercy. He will be wiped out by our troops. Just one thing is a sure bet during the next days—death!


Surrender before it is too late!

The Commander of the Stalingrad Front
Colonel-General Jeromenko

The Commander of the Don Front
Lieutenant-General Rokossowski

23 December 1942
—————————
This flyer acts as a pass for an unlimited number of German soldiers and officers, who surrender to the Russian troops.
____________________________________________________
An die im Raum von Stalingrad eingekesselten Offiziere und Soldaten der deutschen Wehrmacht

Soldaten und Offiziere der im Raum von Stalingrad eingekesselten deutschen Armee!


Einen ganzen Monat seid Ihr jetzt schon umzingelt; ein dichter Ring von Sowjettruppen hält Euch umfasst.

Ihr habt auf die Hilfe der Truppen gehofft, die Hitler in aller Eile im Raum nördlich von Kotelnikowo zusammengezogen hat.


So weißt denn, daß wir diese deutschen Truppen vernichtend geschlagen haben.

Im Raum von Wassilewka—Werchnje-Kumski—Klykow hat die Rote Armee sechs deutsche Divisionen, darunter drei Panzerdivisionen, überrannt und zerschlagen, die Uberreste dieser Truppen um 60—85 Kilometer zurückgeworfen und in diesen Kämpfen 278 deutsche Flugzeuge, 427 Panzer und 221 Geschütze vernichtet. Allein on Toten haben die Deutschen hier 17000 Mann verloren. Eure Hoffnungen, aus der Richtung Kotelnikowo Hilfe zu bekommen, sind damit zuschanden geworden.

Ihr habt gehofft, daß Euch die Truppen heraushauen werden, die Hitler in aller Eile im Raum von Tormossin zusammengezogen hat.


So weißt denn, daß auch diese Truppen vernichtend geschlagen und aufgerieben sind.

Die Rote Armee ist auch am mittleren Don zur Offensive übergegangen und hat in den Kämpfen zwischen dem 16 und 27 Dezember 58000 deutsche Soldaten und Offiziere vernichtet, 56000 Mann gefangengenommen, 305 Panzer, 2128 Geschütze, 310 Munitions- und Lebensmittellager erbeutet bzw. zerstört.


Unsere Truppen haben die Städte Millerowo, Tormossin, Tazinskaja und Morosowski erobert.

Während eines Kampfmonats im Raum von Stalingrad und wahrend der zehntägigen Kämpfe am mittleren Don haben die deutschen Truppen
Insgesamt 169000 Mann an Toten und 128000 Mann an Gefangenen sowie 2663 Panzer und 5356 Geschütze verloren.

Eure Hoffnungen, aus der Richtung von Tormossin Hilfe zu bekommen, sind ebenfalls zunichte geworden.

Ihr habt schließlich gehofft, durch die Transportflieger Hilfe zu bekommen.


So weißt denn, daß die sowjetische Luftwaffe und Artillerie bereits den größten Teil jener Transportflugzeuge vernichtet haben, die dazu bestimmt waren, den bei Stalingrad eingekesselten deutschen Truppen Hilfe zu bringen.

Zwischen dem 25 November und 27 Dezember sind im Raum von Stalingrad 765 deutsche Flugzeuge, darunter 473 Transportflugzeuge Ju 52, vernichtet worden. Außerdem haben die Sowjettruppen auf den Flugplätzen bei Tazinskaja 30 deutsche Transportflugzeuge ist zuschanden geworden.

Eure Lage ist völlig hoffnungslos, und jeder weitere Widerstand ist sinnlos. Seht Ihr noch immer nicht ein, daß alle Eure Hoffnungen, aus dem Kessel herauszukommen, unwiederbringlich verflogen sind!

Deutsche Offiziere und Soldaten!

Das Sowjetkommando ruft Euch ein letztes Mal warnend zu:  


GEBT EUCH GEFANGEN 

und Ihr seid erlöst von Kälte und Hunger. Euer Leben und Eure persönliche Habe ist Euch gesichert.

Deutsche Offiziere!

Ihr versteht besser als Eure Soldaten die ganze Aussichtslosigkeit der Lage der bei Stalingrad eingekesselten Truppen und die Sinnlosigkeit weiteren Widerstands. Ihr weißt ausgezeichnet, daß Ihr Hilfe nicht zu erwarten habt.


Ihr könnt Eure Soldaten und Euch retten, indem Ihr die Waffen streckt.

Ihr dürft die eingekesselten Soldaten nicht ins Verderben stoßen. Denkt daran, daß, wenn Ihr Euch nicht gefangengebt, die ganze Verantwortung für den Untergang Zehntausender deutscher Soldaten auf Euch fällt.

Wer sich jetzt nicht gefangengibt, hat keine Gnade zu erwarten. Er wird von unseren Truppen vernichtet werden. Nur eins ist ihm in den nächsten Tagen sicher—der Tod!


Gebt Euch gefangen, ehe es zu spät ist!

Der Kommandeur der Stalingrader Front
Generaloberst Jeromenko
Der Kommandeur der Donfront
Generalleutnant Rokossowski

23. Dezember 1942.

—————————

Dieses Flugblatt gilt als Passierschein für eine unbegrenzte Zahl von deutschen Soldaten und Offizieren, die sich den russischen Truppen gefangengeben.

Настоящая листовка служит пропускою для неограниченного количества немецких солдат и офицеро пря их сдаче в плен русским войскам.