November 30, 2016

1940. Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer Meet in Amsterdam

Murrow and Shirer Meet for the First Time Since the Start of the War

Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer

CBS News in Amsterdam

January 18, 1940

ROBERT TROUT: Today in Europe. At this time, the Columbia Broadcasting System brings you the latest foreign news direct from important European war capitals. Tonight, we shall attempt to bring the news from Amsterdam and from Helsinki.

Edward R. Murrow, chief of the Columbia European staff, has just arrived in Amsterdam to talk with William L. Shirer, CBS continental representative. And so we take you now to Amsterdam.

EDWARD R. MURROW: Well, that's a nice story, Bill, but I just don't believe it.


MURROW: Your last trip?

SHIRER: (?) in peacetime we used to fly from Berlin to Amsterdam in a couple of hours. Now you take the train, it takes thirteen hours. And the trains are late and cold. But you flew over, didn't you?

MURROW: I think so. It was more like being swung around in a barrel at the end of a longboat than flying. That plane was painted bright orange, and all windows were blacked out.

SHIRER: Why would they black the windows out?

MURROW: Oh, just so curious reporters can't see anything while flying over England and the Channel.

SHIRER: How long did it take from London to Amsterdam?

MURROW: Do you mean flying time or total time?

SHIRER: No, altogether.

MURROW: Well, I left London at seven in the morning, traveled on a cold train to a little place you're not supposed to know about.

SHIRER: Uh huh.

MURROW: Spent about three hours doing things with little bits of paper and books, and got to Amsterdam about half past three in the afternoon.

SHIRER: It's not so simple getting to all these countries, is it?

MURROW: Well, Bill, six months ago I could've paddled around the world with fewer papers and documents than were required for this trip.

SHIRER: Well, I'm glad to hear that because I thought the place where I worked had a monopoly on that sort of thing.

MURROW: Well, you see they haven't. You know, Bill, this conversation isn't going very well. Maybe it's because we both want to talk about the same thing.

SHIRER: Ed, I want to talk to you about the lights I saw last night in this town.

MURROW: Alright, go ahead. Get it over with.

SHIRER: You have no idea what it's like to get into a city and see the streets all lighted up.

MURROW: What do you mean I've got no idea? I saw streetlights, automobiles with real headlights, and light pouring out of the windows tonight for the first time in five months. It's a shock. Seems almost indecent to have all this light about. And as soon as we finish here I'm going out to look at those lights again.

SHIRER: Maybe you think I'm not too? You know, Ed, it sounds churlish to say so, but when I got in last night and emerged from the station and saw those lights, I dropped my bags in the snow and wandered about the streets for half an hour, just looking at the lights. I kept studying the position of every lamppost and fire hydrant, making a mental note of their location so I wouldn't run into them if the blackout comes.

MURROW: Well, let's hope it doesn't come. Right now Holland seems to me just about the nicest country in Europe. There's light, heat—

: And don't forget food and coffee and oranges.

MURROW: It's been snowing all day. People have been skating on the canals, and everybody's as calm, courteous, and considerate as ever.

SHIRER: Just taking a quick look at this country you would hardly know that there was a war on. Like in Switzerland, you'd see quite a few soldiers in the station, but that's about all.

MURROW: I'd like to forget there's a war on for a few days, but I suppose that this is the first time we've been together since the war started and we better compare a few notes, remembering three things: First, that we are talking from neutral country; second that you've got to go back to Berlin; and third I've got to go back to London.

The question most people ask in England these days is: "Will the Germans attack in the spring?"

SHIRER: Ed, I don't know a single German who isn't sure that there will be plenty of action in the spring, but what kind it'll be and where, no one knows or is likely to know until the (?).

MURROW: Oh, I see. Does that mean that the Germans have pretty well given up hope of the success of the so-called "peace offensive?"

SHIRER: Absolutely. You'll hear no more talk of peace in Berlin. As Dr. Frick, the German Minister of Interior, told the people last Sunday, a decision now must come by force of arms. And the German people are reconciled to it.

MURROW: Well, when you say "action in the spring," you mean a general offensive?

SHIRER: Not exactly. Dr. Frick promised the people the other day that no lives will be thrown away in this war. Most people took that to mean that there'd be no large-scale offensive against the Maginot Line, which would be a very costly proceeding. In Germany, when people talk of action in the spring, they seem to have in mind something else. Say, a good air offensive directed against the country where you're stationed.


SHIRER: Of course the truth is, when you come right down to it, the German generals, like British and French generals, are not giving away their plans in advance. Therefore whatever happens is likely to be in the nature of a surprise, but that something will happen and soon, every last person in Germany is sure.

Well, Ed, what sort of action if any do the people on your side expect as soon as the snow melts?

MURROW: Oh, we get a new theory every twenty-four hours. But on the whole, the British think they're doing pretty well with things just as they are.

SHIRER: You mean they expect the war to continue as it has for the next three years? Because the Germans don't.

MURROW: Well, put it this way. The British think their blockade is squeezing the Germans pretty hard. They aren't losing many men, and they're trying to equal Germany's rate of airplane production. And a considerable number of people have some sort of vague idea that, if they just keep the pressure on the Germans, the Germans will finally crack without any major military action. (?)

SHIRER: You're almost saying that it's a war in search of a fight.

MURROW: Well, as a (?) from London, the German will still have the initiative, and they can dig all the front they like for that move you seem to expect in the spring.

SHIRER: Well that's interesting, because the Germans think that the Allies have already taken the initiative in their (?), say Scandinavia or in Southwest Europe and both places. Strategically it's to the advantage of the Germans to keep the front as small as possible. And of course, if it's to be widened, to cut the new front themselves.

MURROW: Yes, I see. Of course, the British are looking about for new fronts. But the maps are all colored up with neutral. And the British assert that they don't propose to violate anybody's neutrality. But of course there's always the possibility that some neutral invite them to come in to prevent the house from being robbed.

SHIRER: Here's a question I'd like to put to you, Ed. Is there any talk in your country of a possibility of a negotiated peace before the war really gets serious?

MURROW: Plenty. You see, the official British position is this: for they say that they're going to negotiate a peace at the end of this war, even if they have to beat the Germans first. Of course, those ideas may change when the time comes to make the peace. For the time being, Britain's propaganda is trying to convince the Germans that they can have a reasonable peace if they'll only get rid of their present rulers.

SHIRER: In all frankness, I must say I don't think that propaganda is getting very far in Germany. The average German you talk to, regardless of whether he is a supporter of the regime or not, will tell you that he remembers very well the Allied propaganda in 1917-1918 in which America also had a part, and (?) to him that if only if they would get rid of the Kaiser the German people would be given a just peace. Somehow this Allied talk about getting rid of the present regime, and then getting a fair peace, starts in as many more (?) than the similar propaganda in the last war.

MURROW: I see. Does that mean that the Germans take the view that it's all or nothing; that they've got to win this war or be smashed completely?

SHIRER: Exactly. Every day it's hammered into them that they have only two alternatives: either to win the war, in which case they have a bright future, or to lose the war, in which case their present leader has assured them that there will be such a peace as will make Versailles look like (?) justice and fair dealing. Don't underestimate the sacrifice as almost any German will make in order to avoid another Versailles or worse.

MURROW: And I'm very much afraid that on that particular point the German leaders are right. As you know, there's a lot of discussion among the most liberal peace terms for an equal and self-respecting Germany. During the early months, the distinction was constantly drawn between the German government and the German people. They (?) those people.


MURROW: Well, that's changing. People are beginning to get mad. This bombing and machine gunning of trawlers hasn't helped. And don't forget that the French have their ideas about what's to be done with Germany when and if the Allies win this war. From what we hear in London, those are ideas if put into practice would pretty well pulverize Germany, and probably pave the way for another war, if not in twenty years' time then in forty.

There isn't quite as much talk of a Federated Europe after this war as there was during the first two months. There's no talk of a complete union between Britain and France. I think maybe we're agreed, Bill, that whoever wins this war is going to impose a peace that will make Versailles and Brest-Litovsk look like a polite exchange between friends.

SHIRER: That's one thing we do agree on, Ed.

MURROW: Alright, let's talk about more pleasant things.

SHIRER: About food?

MURROW: Alright, about food and drink. First, let's record the fact that food in Amsterdam is excellent.

SHIRER: Agreed. Especially the oysters and butter and coffee and oranges.

MURROW: What about the food in Germany? You look pretty well fed.

SHIRER: You're no advertisement of the British diet yourself.

MURROW: Well that's not the fault of the control room food, Bill. There is still plenty of everything to eat and drink in London, except bacon, butter, sugar, and ham. What about Berlin?

SHIRER: I don't do so badly myself. You'll laugh at this, maybe, but in Berlin for some reason they classified me as a heavy laborer.

MURROW: Sure, I'm laughing alright.

SHIRER: It's no joke, Ed! Because it means that as a heavy laborer I get double rations. On top of that we foreigners are allowed to import a little butter, a few eggs, and some bacon from Denmark. And actually we're better off than the German people. But it's wrong to think the German people are starving. They're getting enough to eat, though personally I don't find it a very balanced diet if you get what I mean.

MURROW: I do. How's the beer?

SHIRER: Good, it's a little weaker than in peacetime but it tastes alright. The thing I miss most in Berlin is good coffee.

MURROW: I see. What about the theater in Germany now?

SHIRER: Well, they're all open and they're on show. The war has brought them a prosperity they'd never know in peacetime.

MURROW: What are they playing?

SHIRER: You probably won't believe me, Ed, but the most popular play now on in Berlin is by a British author.

MURROW: A British author?

SHIRER: He's (?) since the war started and his name is George Bernard Shaw. The play is Pygmalion.

MURROW: Well, when I get back to London I shall ask Mr. Shaw if he's getting his royalties on his performances.

SHIRER: I'd like to know. How about the theater in London, Ed?

MURROW: Well, they were all closed during the first few weeks, but most of them are open again now, and they're doing pretty fair business. Most of the stuff is light, and the audiences are certainly not very critical. Incidentally, dozens and dozens of new (?) clubs, a sort of combination of nightclub and speakeasy, have opened in London during the past two months.

SHIRER: Well, I must say that we can't boast that here in Berlin. (?) nightclubs are open and doing well but they have to close at 1:00 AM.

MURROW: What's the most popular song in Berlin now?

SHIRER: A little (?) soon after the outbreak of the war called "We March Against England." It's a very catchy tune; the sentiment is popular and everybody's singing it. Any popular war songs over there?

MURROW: Well the best I've heard so far is a tune called "We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line." Another popular tune has a strong, Teutonic flavor. You may remember, Bill, it was popular in Prague when you were there during the Czech crisis. It's called, I think, the "Beer Barrel Polka." Remember?

SHIRER: Oh yes, I remember.

MURROW: But the messenger boys in London, and a lot of other people as well, are whistling and humming "Franklin D. Roosevelt (?)" That's probably the most popular song in England today.

Bill, are the women wearing uniforms in Germany?

SHIRER: Only the labor service girls, but they were in uniform in peacetime. Why? Are the women wearing uniforms in England?

MURROW: Oh, plenty of them, but not too successfully. One of the big newspapers took a poll the other day asking Englishmen to state their pet peeve or grouse. "Women in uniform" led the list by miles.

SHIRER: Well, I can't say we have that problem in Germany. But there's another, and that's clothes in general. The Germans, men and women, get only one hundred points of clothing per year. And if you're a woman and buy, say, four pairs of stockings and one or two other odds and ends, you'll have many points left over for new dresses. That, I suppose, would create a problem, but I'm no expert and I guess we just (?).

MURROW: Are you having much trouble with the censors these days?

SHIRER: Well, we haven't come to blows yet. They're really not bad fellows, of course they have an unfortunate job. The worst thing is not the actual censorship, but the censorship of news at its source.

MURROW: Well, that's pretty much the same thing in England. The greatest example of that of course was the news we didn't get and still haven't got about the resignation of Mr. (?).

Well, Bill, let's go out and throw snowballs.

: You have been listening to another Columbia broadcast of Today in Europe. We regret that contact with Helsinki between Mr. Herbert Hoover, President of the Finnish Relief Fund in New York, and his representative (?) in Helsinki was impossible tonight because of weak signals and interference. This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

November 29, 2016

1922. Benito Mussolini Seizes Power in Italy

The Fascists Descend Upon Rome
A poster of Benito Mussolini's face, surrounded by the word "yes," on display in Rome at the Palazzo Braschi, the seat of the Ministry of Interior in 1934 (source)

From The New York Times, November 1, 1922:


100,000 Fascisti March Through the City as Mussolini Becomes Premier


King Receives Them Warmly and Comments Upon Their Arduous Task


Premier Says Pacification is First Task—French and Swiss Are Apprehensive
ROME, Oct. 31 — The new Cabinet of Premier Mussolini took the oath of office today before the King, thereby becoming the official Government of Italy, and the Fascisti army, the Black Shirts, commanded by Mussolini, which has surrounded Rome, paraded through the city, 100,000 strong.

A fact which is everywhere favorably commented upon is that Mussolini and his Ministers all wore frock coats and silk hats at the ceremony of taking the oath. It was recalled in this connection that when the Socialists, Turati and Bissolati, visited the King recently they wore soft hats and rough sporting jackets. Mussolini's action is considered all the more interesting when it is remembered that up to a few years ago he also was a Socialist and a rabid revolutionary. He, however, decided that as he had accepted the monarchy the King should be treated with all the pomp appertaining to the office.

The scene when the ex-Socialist and ex-idol of the revolutionary masses took the oath of allegiance to the King was dramatic. The King greeted each Minister, saying: "I feel that I can hardly congratulate you, as you have a stiff, arduous task before you, but I congratulate the country for having you as Ministers."

Sonorously Accepts Oath

The King read the formula of the oath as follows:

"I swear to be faithful to my King and his legal descendants. I swear to be true to the Constitution and fundamental laws of the State for the inseparable welfare of my King and my country."

Mussolini, who was standing with the Ministers in a group around him, immediately stepped forward and, raising his outstretched arms, said with a booming voice:

"Your Majesty, I swear it."

The King was so deeply moved that he embraced Mussolini. Afterward each Minister went through the formality. When all had taken the oath the King remained for a few moments in conversation with Mussolini, who afterward drove back to his office at the Ministry of the Interior. The Fascisti militia had a hard task of restraining an enthusiastic crowd which wished to carry him in triumph through the streets.

"Double Hat" System Ended

Mussolini was early at his office this morning. Exactly at 8 o'clock, the hour at which all Government clerks are supposed to be at their posts, he telephoned all his Ministers instructing them to have a roll call. Anyone who was not at his desk was severely reprimanded and warned that he would be dismissed at the next offense.

This is the first foretaste of a regime of strict discipline which Mussolini intends to institute throughout Italy. Up to the present time most of the Government offices have been worked on the "double hat" system, whereby each clerk possesses two hats, one which remains permanently hung on a nail in his office, the other being worn going to and from the office. Whenever any one went into a Government office in search of a clerk, even two or three hours after the regular opening time, an usher would point out the hat hanging on a nail and say: "He is obviously in the office somewhere because his hat is here. You would better wait." The authorities have winked at this practice, but Mussolini does not propose to tolerate it. He said to The New York Times correspondent today:

"Italy must wake up to the fact that only hard work can save us from financial and economic ruin. I propose that the Government should begin in showing a good example, and Government clerks will be treated just like any clerk working for a private concern would be treated. If they work and do their duty they will be well treated, but if they are not ready to do what is expected of them they will be dismissed. This new regime will be hard for many of them, but they must realize that times have changed."

Mussolini also outlined the main points of his policy. As to internal affairs, it may be summed up in three words: "Discipline, economy, sacrifice," Mussolini said.

"I have not reached my present position by holding forth visions of an easy paradise, as the Socialists did. All will be ruled with an iron hand. It must be a wonderful testimonial to the patriotism and common sense of Italians that the Fascisti with such a program have the backing of an overwhelming majority of the country. Of course, they will be better off in the end, but our policy will not bear fruit for some time, and in the meanwhile there is going to be suffering."

On being asked by The New York Times correspondent what were the more specific points in his policy, he answered:

"First of all, the country must be pacified. The people must be made to understand that laws are passed in order to be observed. Lawlessness has reigned such a long time in Italy that the task will be difficult.

"Either the people will understand the need for pacification of their own accord or (here flash came into his eye) I will make them understand it.

"The second most important need is to balance the budget. The country must be placed on a paying basis. We are now paying billions yearly for running the railroads, posts, telegraph and telephone and we are paying these huge sums for running them badly. This must cease. Either the Government can run them well and show a profit, or the Government must give them up.

"Besides, by throwing all the youthful enthusiasm of the Fascisti, which has hitherto been used in fighting the Communists, into the paths of peace, we hope to inject so much pep into the country that there will be increased prosperity.

"The country had got tired. It had been running in a groove too long. We are going to shake it up, wake itmake it realize that it is alive."

Legions Enter in Triumph
Mussolini declares the establishment of an Italian Empire in a speech to a crowd before Palazzo Venezia in Rome, 1936 (source)
ROME, Oct. 31 (Associated Press) One hundred thousand well disciplined Fascisti marched through Rome from north to south today to the plaudits of a million Italian citizens gathered in the capital from all parts of the kingdom.

Their commander, Mussolini, was the central figure of the procession. Like the others who walked behind, the leader wore the black shirt of the organization. He was bare-headed and in a buttonhole was the Fascisti badge, while on his sleeve were several stripes showing that he had been wounded in the war.

Mussolini was surrounded by his general staff, including Signor Bianchi, de Vecchi, a number of generals and several Fascisti Deputies. He walked with a firm step the entire four miles to the disbanding point.

The day broke clear and fine, with one of Italy's brightest suns lighting the way to Borghese Park as the Fascisti troops, abroad early, proceeded up the Pincian Hill, from Tivoli, Santa Marinella and other places on the outskirts of the city, where they had been camping the last three days.

Big Parade Forms in Park

"It is a Fascismo sun," said a sturdy young black-shirted peasant from the plains of Piedmont as he led the Piedmont contingent into Borghese Park, where 15,000 Fascist, representing all the provinces of the Kingdom, from Northern Venetia and Lombardy to Southern Calabria and Sicily, assembled.

With military precision they formed and automatically fell into the places assigned to them—dark-visaged youths, with set, determined faces, upon which shone the light of victory, all wearing the black shirt. The rest of their equipment varied from skull caps to soft felt hats and steel helmets—some of them were without hats—and non-descript trousers, multi-colored socks and shoes that ranged from topboots to dancing pumps. They were armed only with riding crops and bludgeons, one man from Ancona swinging a baseball bat.

Briskly they swung into line to the tunes of innumerable bands, the Roman contingent leading the way along the Pincian Hill Road to the Piazza del Popolo and to the Porta del Popolo, through the Gate of the People into the People's Square, then marched down the Corso Umberto, Rome's main street, lined with flags.

Every window was filled with Romans cheering, some showering flowers upon the passing blackshirts, while those in the streets saluted straight-armed from the shoulder, with hands extended toward the west.

Through the heart of the city the procession continued, the youths never looking to the right or left, and acknowledging the acclamations and cheers only by singing Fascisti marching songs. Thus they reached the monument of Victor Emmanuel and the tomb of the unknown soldier.

At the tomb of each contingent, with banners flying, halted before the imposing monument; then two men from each contingent, one bearing a huge palm, the other a bouquet of flowers, ascended the steps leading to the tomb and deposited them upon it until it was lost to the sight beneath the mass of bloom. The first wreath placed on the tomb was carried by a veteran Garibaldian, nearly a hundred years old, who was assisted up the steps by two youths whose combined ages totaled less than half his own.

Paraded Before the King

On departing from the tomb the Fascisti proceeded at double-quick up the steep Cesare Battisti Hill to the Quirinal, where the King appeared on the balcony. He stood at salute, as each contingent arrived the flag was dipped, as before the tomb of the unknown soldier. The King received a great ovation from the assembled multitude.

The Fascisti reformed and marched directly to the station, where fifty trains, capable of transporting from 500 to 1,000 soldiers each, had been held in readiness since morning in accordance with the demobilization order that "every soldier must be on his way home before nightfall."

A feature of the day was the absence of speeches, the Fascisti leaders having decided, as one of them put it, they they are men of action, not words.

The crush around the tomb of the unknown soldier was so great that many women and some soldiers fainted. They were attended promptly by Fascisti ambulances.

Fully a million people lined the concourse from Borghese Park to the railroad station, or nearly twice the population of Rome, many of them coming from as far north as Venice and others from Sicily. Airplanes hovered overhead for most of the day, dropping Fascisti manifestos. Frequently the crowds were stampeded in efforts to pick up the pamphlets.

Groups of Fascisti today invaded the homes of former Premier Nitti, Count Volpi, Deputy Nicola Bombacci, the Communist leader, and Arturo Labriola, the Socialist ex-Minister. Socialist literature and other pamphlets were confiscated. Signor Nitti is absent in Southern Italy.

A band of Ancona Fascisti, led by Cesare Rossi, broke into the home of Deputy Mingrino, commander of the Communist Red Guards, last night. The invaders seized all the documents they could find, sequestered forty hand grenades and threw the furniture into the street. Then they set fire to the furniture.

Eight Killed, Twenty-five Wounded

Clashes occurred in several parts of the city between groups of Fascisti and isolated bands of Communists. Early tonight the casualties were placed at eight killed and about twenty-five wounded. One fight, in which several shots were exchanged, took place near the Vatican. Some of the bullets went over the Vatican wall, but no damage was reported.

A communiqué issued by the Commander of the Roman Legion announces that by Premier Mussolini's instructions any action taken by the Fascisti, either collectively or individually, which is directed against Communists or persons presumed to be Communists will be repressed with the utmost severity and the responsible leaders prosecuted and punished in an exemplary manner.

Mussolini had sent a message to the British Prime Minister, Bonar Law, and the French Premier, M. Poincaré, announcing his accession to the Premiership as "the representative of Italian ideals born at Vittoria Veneto." The message conveys cordial greetings and assurances of solidarity among the allied nations, which, Mussolini says, "I regard as indispensable for the effectiveness of their political action."

Stands For Policy of Expansion

Whatever the outcome may be when the new Cabinet goes before the Chamber of Deputies, there is general agreement that the new Premier has gathered about him a Cabinet exceptionally strong from the Nationalist standpoint, comprising a body of men who were leaders of Italy in the great war and the outstanding protagonists for Italy's territorial claims in the peace.

Mussolini brings with his Ministry a well-defined foreign policy, the cornerstone of which is expansion. The Fascisti Party, ever since its inception a year ago, has preached the extension of Italy's territorial aims. When former Premier Giolitti ordered the evacuation of Albania by Italian troops the Fascisti sent up a cry of protest against the veteran statesman, burning him in effigy and hurling stinging epithets against him in hostile demonstrations.

The new Premier himself has declared that the Mediterranean is an Italian lake, and he advocates complete control of that waterway by Italy. The claim of Greece for the Dodecanese Islands was always bitterly contested in Fascisti councils.

Total repudiation of all Soviets has been a constant cry among Fascisti. When the Russian commercial mission arrived in Rome in 1921 their rooms were broken into and their baggage ransacked by Fascisti, who contended for no negotiations in any form with the Soviets.

Domestic Policy in Doubt

In their domestic policy the aims of the Fascisti have not been so clearly defined. Indeed, it has been constantly maintained by their opponents that they had no domestic policy. One thing, however, has stood preeminent in all their domestic actions, namely, their hostility to the Extreme Socialists and Communists.

They have defiantly fought the strike in any form. Wherever and whenever strikes have been declared they have strained every effort to keep industry going.

Communism has been rendered almost helpless in Italy by the onslaught of the Fascisti. The militant Nationalists have carried their battle into the labor temples and meeting places of their antagonists. They have seized the records and rosters and burned them, and on many occasions even set fire to the buildings. The Fascisti, however, have manifested strong friendship for the laborers, provided the latter became Nationalists and embraced the Fascisti principles.

Besides the strength which comes to the government with the appointment of General Diaz and Admiral Thaon di Revel to Cabinet positions there is an accompanying assurance of stability with the other appointments. Professor Einaudi, the Minister of the Treasury, is distinguished for being one of the foremost Italian economists. Signor Rossi, the Minister of Industry, is a manufacturer and has held Cabinet positions previously. He was one of the chief advisers to the Italian Government in the Genoa Conference.

D'Annunzio Aid in Cabinet

Another member who gives considerable weight to the new Cabinet is Deputy Giuriati. He was Gabriele d'Annunzio's Chief of Cabinet during the poet's occupation of Fiume, and previously distinguished himself during the World War. He has been a staunch supporter of Mussolini since the inauguration of the Fascisti Party.

While the Cabinet is composed of strong personalities, there is always the question of support in the Chamber. It remains for the Catholics to announce their program when the Chamber opens next week. If they are pleased with the selections and will give their support, it would seem that sufficient strength could be counted on from the various other constitutional parties to render the Ministry stable.

In taking the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and the Interior in addition to the Premiership Mussolini occupies the posts which mean most for the Fascisti sphere of action. By occupying the Foreign Office he can put forth the policy which has again and again been enunciated by his party—that of expansion. By being Minister of the Interior he controls the police force and will be able to manoeuvre the various public instruments for the maintenance of order in accordance with the program of his party.

Moderate Socialists Barred

It appears that the original plan attributed to Mussolini to have two Moderate Socialists in the Cabinet was strongly opposed by other Fascisti leaders, so that Gino Baldesi and Bruno Buozzi, two of the leading figures in the cooperative movement in Italy, were not included in the new government.

With Signor Mussolini, the new Ministry, according to the last classification, comprises five Fascisti, two Catholics, three Democrats, one Nationalist and one Liberal, with the addition of General Diaz and Vice Admiral Thaon di Revel, who, being Senators, and also belonging, respectively, to the army and the navy, are not assigned to any special party.

Commenting on the situation the Giornale di Roma says:

"Italy has now a Government of national concentration under a strong man who has shown he can keep wonderful control over himself and who possesses a sense of moderation, which is an essential quality in a statesman. The new Government has a prestige such as no former Government ever had."

The newspaper favorably mentions the manifesto of the Federation of Industry supporting the Fascisti Government and concludes with an exhortation to all Italians to return to work.

The Messaggero in its comment says:

"Fascism is an affirmation of life, and a revival, and foreigners must recognize this elementary truth if they wish to judge Italy rightly. We are glad to see such eminent men in the Cabinet and expect to witness the reorganization of all branches of national life."

November 28, 2016

1944. Yanks Storm Into Streets, Crumple Nazi Death Stand in Cherbourg

The American Assault on Cherbourg
"German prisoners are marched through the streets of Cherbourg after their final surrender" June 28, 1944 (source)

Report by the Associated Press and printed in The Washington Post, June 26, 1944:

Yanks Storm Into Streets, Crumple Nazi Death Stand

Foe Holding Out In Center; City Almost Ours, Says Allied Command
United States assault troops battered into smoke-shrouded Cherbourg late Sunday from three sides clamping a firm grasp on the city, and Supreme Headquarters declared at midnight that France's third largest port city was "almost in our possession."

An Associated Press dispatch from Cherbourg declared veteran doughboys broke into the city on the twentieth day of the campaign under a terrific artillery, sea and air bombardment that crumpled Nazi fight-to-the-death resistance.

The power drive swept on against Germans still holding out in the main portion of the city, and German broadcasts earlier had virtually written off the port as lost.

Smash in From Three Sides

Lieut. Gen. Omar N. Bradley's men—trapping possibly up to 30,000 Nazis—smashed into the city from the south, east and west, said Associated Press correspondent Don Whitehead, who entered the city with the troops.

The Germans turned the harbor facilities into an inferno of destruction, he said.

A tremendous artillery barrage from American Naval task forces and field guns helped crush stubborn Nazi defenses on the outskirts, and the Americans won the high ground defenses overlooking the port city, Supreme Headquarters declared in its fortieth communiqué.

Whitehead declared there remained last night only "the slow job of cleaning out the main part of the city." The outpost defenses were virtually all blotted out.

"At 6 p. m., there were only two strong points at Fort du Roule, and a few other scattered defense points holding out" on Cherbourg's outskirts, Whitehead said.

German Dead Littered City

The last mile into the city was littered with Nazi dead—and streams of German prisoners marched back past them to prison pens, some in bunches up to 100.

The Germans broke under the final, mighty American assault, unleashed at 2 p. m. without staging as much of a house-to-house defense as many expected them to make, Whitehead reported. The tremendous Allied barrage struck the city's outskirts, with the city proper untouched by the massed destruction of naval and land guns.

The direct dispatch from Cherbourg came shortly after Berlin radio admissions that "it is to be assumed that the Americans have succeeded in taking possession" of Cherbourg.

Support from Navy

The bold task force lending support from the sea was commanded by Rear Admiral Morton L. Deyo aboard the U. S. cruiser Tuscaloosa.

Even as the battle for Cherbourg raged to its climax, British forces exploded an offensive before dawn Sunday along the eastern Normandy flank, striking more than a mile south of captured Tilly-sur-Seulles, 12 miles west of the stronghold of Caen.

This smash rolled more than a mile in four hours, engulfing a village, and then under heavy artillery support drove up into "strongly-defended German positions," a front dispatch from Robert Greene of the Associated Press said. The Germans threw in reinforcements, but were reported losing men "heavily."

CBS correspondent Bill Downs said the British had gained two and a half to three miles southeast of Tilly-sur-Seulles. Downs said the attack began after a barrage from enough artillery to place "one every eight yards." Berlin reported fighting "in full swing" in this sector.

Nazis Report Landings

A Berlin Trans-Ocean broadcast said Allied troops and equipment had been landed from "about 350 transport and landing vessels" east of the Orne River, above Caen, in the last two days. Another German broadcast speculated that "the Allies intend to start major operations soon in this sector designed to capture Caen and push in a general easterly direction" from the peninsula into the French mainland toward Paris.

German surprise at the rapidity of the American cross-peninsular thrust was illustrated by a captured German order made public at Twenty-first Army Group headquarters. It ordered some of the German divisions now at Cherbourg to withdraw to the south. But they were hit by Bradley's doughboys before they could escape the trap.

Cherbourg emptied of all but 5,000 of its civilians, shuddered and flamed to German-set demolitions as the American are closed in earlier in the battle, and one bright fire flared from the arsenal near the Quai de France.

It seemed likely that destruction of the arsenal would be the last act of defiance by Maj. Gen. Karl-Wilhelm von Schlieban.

Another German commander, Infantry Maj. Gen. Stegman, has been killed in Normandy, headquarters announced, without giving the place or circumstances.

November 25, 2016

1949. Preparations Amid the Yugoslav–Soviet Split

 The Volkspolizei Alleged to Be Training for Conflict with Yugoslavia
Portraits of Premier Joseph Stalin and Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito carried during a May Day demonstration in Belgrade, 1946 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Frankfurt

September 3, 1949

German military units may soon be fighting again in Europe. This is the opinion of reliable British and American intelligence officers, and confirmed today by a special report I have just received from an East German source.

The units are special cadres of the Communist-trained East German People's Police. I am informed that, at a staff meeting held recently at Russian headquarters in Potsdam, Major General Hans Wulz, former Nazi officer and now chief of training for the new Soviet zone police, has ordered that these units be sent to participate in the Greek Civil War, ostensibly to gain experience in guerrilla fighting; but tactically to form part of a people's international army of Iron Curtain nationalities to be used, if so decided by Russia, in her current dispute with Yugoslavia.

Many of these units have "been sent to Czechoslovakia for special training in intelligence and espionage." My informant says the German units are composed of between 250 to 280 men, commanded by a major and disciplined by a police commissar.

But the question as to whether these German formations will be used for anything more than a war of nerves now underway in the Balkans still remains unanswered.

In Bonn, in the Western half of Germany, the men who are building the new Federal Republic also have the jitters. With only four days left before the opening of the new parliament, the entire city of Bonn is working frantically to get the new capitol building in shape for the big show.

Five hundred workmen are laboring around the clock trying to get an outside wall on the office wing of the capitol. In these closing hours, the whole thing appears like five hundred Marx brothers are engaged in the job. During one conference yesterday, the German official with whom I was talking was interrupted by four men who walked in with a telephone. One started drilling a hole in the floor, the other crawled under the desk. Without noticing them, the official continued his conversation.

In another office, however, a similar conversation was completely wrecked. I was interviewing the politician at a shout to be audible over the noise. We stopped talking when the point of a pneumatic drill punched through the wall.

The driller won the day. He was cutting a new door into the office.

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

November 24, 2016

1944. Day of Glory as Canadians Take Dieppe

The Liberation of Dieppe
"In the Rue Claude Groulard, Dieppe, the 2nd Canadian Division marches past General Crerar" September 3, 1944 (source)

From The Washington Post, published September 2, 1944:

Day of Glory As Canadians Take Dieppe
New York. Sept. 1.—CBS Correspondent Bill Downs broadcast today:

"I was with the Canadian troops who entered Dieppe soon after noon today. They had advanced over 15 miles last night.

"They took the city without a struggle.

"There were only a few German snipers scattered throughout the port. A number of prisoners have been taken in the area, but there has been no exact total released. I saw about 100 of them as I drove into Dieppe.

"The same Canadian units which participated in the ill-fated Dieppe raid two years ago were selected to take Dieppe. The men were charged with avenging their comrades killed in the Dieppe action, and the later German actions which resulted in a number of Canadian prisoners taken at Dieppe being put into chains.

"This was more than a day of glory than a day of vengeance, because there simply were not enough Germans around to defend the city.

"In the capture of Dieppe, the Canadian Army has achieved one of the decisive strategic goals of this campaign. They were the first troops to reach the English Channel north of the Seine. They've already captured a number of flying bomb sites in the Dieppe area. They have isolated Le Havre, and the German troops and bomb installations in that region. And now they are established in a position to clear the channel coast of France and the Low Countries in one sweep.

"Entering the city, a large crowd made a funnel for the entering troops. We thought at first the crowd wanted to stop us. But then we saw the reason for the lane they made in the center of the road. In the middle of the street was a huge swastika flag, and the crowd forced every Canadian vehicle entering the town to drive over that flag. It was their demonstration of contempt for the Nazis.

"A large oil dump in the north part of the town was burning when we entered at noon today. But the town is surprisingly intact. The Germans were carrying out demolition of the port when the Canadians approached. They did not get a chance to complete the job."

November 23, 2016

1948. American and British Pilots Continue the Berlin Airlift

The Airlift Continues Ahead of the West Berlin Elections
"Newest class of US Air Force pilots grouped in front of C-47 & C-54 cargo transport planes which they are training to fly during Operation Vittles, the plan to break the Soviet blockade of Berlin, aka the Berlin Airlift" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 18, 1948

One of the things that worry the American and British pilots flying the airlift over the Russian blockade is the fantastic lack of accidents. They don't talk about it much, but in the night and day flying up and down the corridors, these airmen have been expecting more casualties than have occurred. A really remarkable safety record is being set, but to the superstitious flyer, it also serves to increase the tension that, maybe on this flight, he will get it.

Last night, it was a British Dakota that got it, crashing on a flight from Berlin to Lübeck. The bi-motored C-47 plunged into the ground just a few miles from its home base just inside the Russian zone. Two men are reported to have been killed; two others are in a Soviet military hospital. British doctors and ambulances are standing by waiting for permission to bring the dead and injured out.

The Russian military government in Eastern Berlin today announced a drastic—and perhaps final—step in what appears to be a complete political split of this city.

Marshal Sokolovsky has ordered that new identification cards for Berliners will be issued beginning December 1st—identification cards requiring registration and listing in the Russian sector of the city.

It is hard for Americans to understand the importance of this move—we who are free to move throughout a continent with no more identification than perhaps a driver's license. But to the European, the propusk—or the carte d'identité—is an important part of his personal baggage, and the form it takes has much to do with his personal safety.

It is significant that these new identity cards will be issued only five days before the elections in the Western sectors of the city. The Communists have warned that these elections, set for December 5th, will mean a complete split of Berlin—implying that all traffic between the Eastern and Western sectors will be stopped. With the additional weapon of the identity card—and the failure to have one carries a penalty of a 10,000 marks fine or nine months in jail—it would appear that the final squeeze in the Berlin Blockade is on.

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

CBS Berlin

November 24, 1948

The weather over Berlin dawned clear and cold this morning, the coldest day of winter thus far. And as we expected, the Russian air safety authorities posted warnings of widespread maneuvers over the city and in the vicinity of the air corridors.

No incidents thus far, but the fact that it almost invariably takes a sunny day to get these Soviet warnings already has our pilots talking about the "fair weather" air force in the East.

The British have chartered a number of private companies to fly the airlift and supplement the Royal Air Force deliveries over the blockade. A number of lesser-known planes fly alongside our C-54s into Gatow Airport—a situation which has produced an amusing story.

One of these British planes is called the "Wayfarer." The other day a British pilot was bringing his ship in and calling Gatow tower saying, "Wayfarer coming in for a landing."

An American pilot also preparing to land misunderstood the British accent and broke in with his radio to exclaim, "Is the Mayflower here too? You British really have thrown everything into this show."

The airlift is taking advantage of this good flying weather, and we may have a new record underway today. The day before yesterday, 5,711 tons of fuel and supplies were delivered, and today certainly is noisier than it has been in a long time.

General Clay appointed a special military tribunal to try twenty persons arrested on charges of participating in a Czechoslovak spy ring in the American and British zones of Germany. Names and the whereabouts of the suspects are being kept secret while the investigation continues. More arrests are expected.

The Communist Party in the Eastern sector of the city has denounced the December 5th elections and refused to participate in them, but the KPD certainly is doing more campaigning than the Socialists and right-wing parties who are entering candidates.

Now the Communists are attacking one Socialist candidate, charging that the only reason this man is running for office is because he drinks. He hopes to get American whiskey over the airlift, the Communists charge.

If this were really true, Western Berlin would find itself with more candidates than voters.

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

CBS Berlin

November 26, 1948

The Anglo-American airlift really gave the people of Berlin a Thanksgiving Day present yesterday. A total of 6,116 tons of food, fuel, and supplies were delivered in 716 flights. This is the second highest tonnage flown in over the blockade since the special Air Force Day effort last September.

The airlift crews literally took their turkey on the wing in the Thanksgiving Day operation. Mobile canteens provided a wing or a drumstick for all who wanted them between flights. All told, the flyers and ground crews at the three major airports in Berlin ate up almost half a ton of Turkey.

With the disputed Berlin elections only ten days off, the Communist propaganda from the Eastern section of the city are now talking about "X-Day." X-Day is supposed to be the time when the Eastern and Western sectors of the city will finally be divided—transportation stopped and intersectional traffic controlled. How much of this is truth and how much is propaganda, no one knows exactly. But in the British sector, special police guards have been placed at three important canal locks that still carry barge traffic through the city. Emergency arrangements are also being made to care for the one million Germans who daily use the elevated and subway trains between the East and West.

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

November 22, 2016

1931. "Herr Hitler Replies to Some Fundamental Questions"

"Herr Hitler Replies to Some Fundamental Questions" by Harold Callender
Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler emerges from the party's national headquarters at the Brown House in Munich, Germany on December 5, 1931 (source)

From The New York Times, December 20, 1931:

An Interview With the Nazi Leader in Which He Throws Light on His Policy in Some Foreign and Domestic Matters Not Explained Before and States the Main Points of His Program for Germany

By Harold Callender
The conflict between the government of Chancellor Bruening and the National Socialist party led by Adolf Hitler is moving toward a climax. Last Wednesday Hitler attacked the Chancellor in an open letter, accusing his government of pursuing a policy of illusion, and on the same day three organizations—the Social Democrats, the General Federation of Labor and the Reichsbanner—rallied to the support of the republic, pledging themselves to a continuing fight against Fascism. In the following interview Herr Hitler, in replies to some basic questions by a correspondent of The Times, states the aims of the Nazis and their policies on the great problems now before the Reich.


In his office in the Brown House—officially known as his Chancellory—from which he directs the rapidly advancing National Socialist forces whose challenge to the German Republic seems to grow more formidable with every day that passes, Adolf Hitler, the supreme chief of his highly organized and disciplined movement, recently answered some of the questions to which it has given rise in the minds of foreign observers.

Both sides are mobilizing their strength for the crisis they feel sure is approaching. Socialists and Nazis are in complete agreement at least on one point—that a showdown must come by Spring, if not sooner. All those with whom the present writer has spoken, whatever their personal political views, have recognized that the trend in Germany is definitely, perhaps irresistibly, to the right; that the strength of the Nazis, which has grown steadily for fifteen months, is still on the rise and might even suffice to force a decision even if there were no Presidential election next April and no Prussian legislative election next May.

On the day before Herr Hitler expressed himself in the interview that follows, Dr. Frick, the Nazi parliamentary leader, had declared the Nazis would not recognize any new foreign political obligations which the Bruening Government might assume; he urged the Centre party (Dr. Bruening's party) to sever its alliance with the Socialists and throw in its lot with the Nazis; "It is five minutes to 12," he said, "and the coming elections must bring the final decision."

Other Forecasts of Struggle

On the same day Herr Severing, the Socialist Minister of the Interior in Prussia, also spoke of the test of strength that he thought soon would come. "It has been possible to rally the police to the support of the republic," he said. "Now the army must be won over." Meanwhile, the Reichsbanner, the republican military organization, was issuing a manifesto calling upon "all republican forces" to rally for "the struggle against National Socialism which must be waged on a united front."

Since they startled the world by winning 6,400,000 votes in the national election of September, 1930 and became the second largest party in the Reichstag, the Nazis have gone from victory to victory. State elections that followed the national poll showed their votes steadily mounting; in Hesse in November they received more than twice the number of votes they polled last year. Their organization of "storm troops," workers, students and propaganda, extending to nearly every village in Germany, is a work of genius; their appeal to the disheartened millions of Germany is potent.

On the night before his conversation with Herr Hitler the present writer saw him in action before an audience that packed the Bürgerbräu Keller (the Munich beer hall where his frustrated uprising of 1923 began) and overflowed into a nearby hall. He spoke for more than an hour and a half. There were no extravagant flights of oratory and only two or three ventures into humor. It was a steady, hammering speech, sustained throughout on a single note, at a single level, with hardly a pause. Herr Hitler clenched his fists and spoke with the utmost vehemence for ninety minutes. It was an athletic feat which few orators could have performed.

Hitler During the Interview

Herr Hitler is a born orator. Even when answering questions in his office he instinctively assumed his platform manner. He quickly warmed up to his subject and spoke at a racing speed. He rose from his chair, walked about the room, sat upon a table, but was never quite at rest. He emphasized his assertions with nervous gestures, save when he occasionally became more guarded and checked his rapid flow of speech to make sure that his words were carefully noted.

"The National Socialist party considers reparations to be unjust," began the interviewer. "But how would you do away with them?"

"We regard them as not only unjust but unreasonable," said Herr Hitler with considerable vehemence. "The Entente demands that we pay from 2,000,000,000 to 2,500,000,000 marks annually as tribute. This can only be done if we export from 20,000,000,000 to 25,000,000,000 marks worth of goods every year. Since other nations build up high tariff walls to protect their own industries, it is extremely difficult to find markets to absorb such a huge volume of exports.

"Consequently, we rationalized and modernized our industries, went in intensively for mass production and borrowed heavily abroad for the purpose. That is, we took on huge loans at high interest rates and have to pay 1,500,000,000 marks yearly to foreigners in interest alone. The whole thing is insane. We could reduce our exports considerably if we were not obliged to pay this interest.

"Foreigners sometimes say we have lived luxuriously and spent money wastefully. They criticize us for building stadia and swimming pools. But how could we employ our people otherwise? These expenditures may not have been productive from the point of view of our creditors, but they were for us. We live in a time when the interest of bankers dominates, and industry goes to ruin.

"How will the reparations question be settled? We hope by the application of reason—by showing what the actual facts are. For instance, our need to export on such a huge scale makes us more formidable competitors to the other industrial nations and contributes to unemployment in England and America."

"What about the repayment of the foreign loans which have made it possible to pay reparations?" Herr Hitler was asked.

"If France insists that the political debt must have priority, then the issue becomes one of our ability to pay, not of our will to pay. This is a question the rest of the world will have to decide. If France presses for payment, the German economy will go to smash."

"You recognize the obligation to pay back these foreign loans?"

"We recognize it, yes. But it does not follow that it will be possible to pay them. This depends upon the economic situation and the policies of foreign countries."

"What would you do regarding the short-term loans which fall due in March, 1932, seeing that Germany still relies upon foreign capital whether she pays reparations or not?" the interviewer asked.

"There is nobody anywhere who thinks they can be paid in March," Herr Hitler replied. "The money is invested in business and trade. Foreigners lent us capital at interest rates that often were as high as 10 per cent and more. Only by intense production and export was it possible to bear this burden. The interests of finance and of industry were in conflict.

"We cannot and should not bring in more foreign capital, because we cannot pay the interest on what we have already borrowed. If the lenders insist upon having their funds back, we can only say that it is impossible to liquidate them now. If they were withdrawn, Germany would break down. One of the things for which we reproach the present government is that it, like all other governments, has hidden the facts and kept these truths from the people. If we were to pay both the political and the commercial debts, we should have to export from 60 to 80 billion marks' worth of goods a year because we cannot safely count upon more than 10 per cent profit."

French Pressure Criticized

The next question touched upon Franco-German relations. Herr Hitler was asked whether he favored a rapprochement with France and, if so, on what basis.

"Of course we want friendship with every country," he said. "We could not propose, for instance, that England give up her colonies, her shipping and her trade so that we might live in friendship with her. Germany needs a foundation for her national life. When France recognizes this, nobody will be more pleased than I. Until she does, no rapprochement is possible. Senator Borah realizes this when he says that the pressure France holds over Germany is the worst threat to peace."

Herr Hitler was asked what he thought of the Bruening-Laval attempt to work toward an economic rapprochement while leaving political differences aside.

"Economic rapprochement," he said, "cannot be separated from the general political situation."

"I have read in numerous National Socialist pamphlets," said the interviewer, "that the party would abolish the gold standard in favor of a currency based on goods. May one assume that this is your purpose?"

"The gold standard, as everybody knows, is based upon an almost universally accepted theory," Hitler replied. "However, everybody must realize that even the most widely accepted theory, if overstrained, is bound to collapse in practice. Germany today possesses only a negligible quantity of gold. Therefore it can hardly be expected that Germany should take the lead in this grave matter.

"As a matter of fact the country which is doing most to unbalance the world gold standard system is France. What France is doing today in the way of world gold hoarding is out of all proportion. It is a threat to world peace and happiness. But who is to check France, whose secret purpose in her gold hoarding is the re-establishment of the policy of Louis XIV of dominating Europe by political extortions gained through financial scheming. If the world doesn't intervene to establish a normal balance of political power, France will be able to say not 'I am the State,' as did Louis XIV, but 'I am Europe.'"
Hitler receives a flower bouquet from Rudolf Hess in Bad Harzburg during the founding of the Harzburg Front, an alliance of radical right-wing groups opposing the German government under Chancellor Heinrich Brüning, October 11, 1931 (Photo by Herbert Hoffmann)
Tactics of His Party

The conversation then turned to the National Socialist movement and its tactics. "I believe you have said," the interviewer observed, "that you intended to gain the power in Germany by means of the ballot and by no other means—that you would wait until you had a clear majority in the Reichstag before attempting to carry out your program. Is this true? And if you got that majority, would you retain parliamentary government or seek to change the Weimar Constitution so as to do away with parliamentary government?"

"The National Socialist movement will win the power in Germany by methods permitted by the present Constitution—in a purely legal way. It will then give to the German people the form of organization and government which suits our purposes and which will give us the power to conquer communism and the pest of Marxism. The present State, with its present constitution, is not in a position to do this."

"Would you join a coalition Cabinet, for instance, with the Centre [Dr. Bruening's party]?"

"The National Socialist movement will collaborate with the political forces in Germany which are willing to accept our platform, our policies, our purposes. The movement will not continue the present government's policies, since they are responsible not only for the weakening of Germany but to a great extent also for the disasters that have overcome other nations. Had it not been for the 'policy of fulfillment' in Germany, there would have been no world economic crisis such as we have today."

In speaking of the political groups with which his party could collaborate, Herr Hitler evidently referred to the German Nationalists and the Stahlhelm, whose members share many of the National Socialists' ideas and joined with them at Bad Harzburg in the great demonstration against the government. The three organizations form what is known as the Nationalist Opposition. In saying that the "policy of fulfillment" brought on the world economic crisis, he meant that it was the payment of reparations which disorganized the world's systems of money and credit.

"The military form which the National Socialist movement has taken," said the interviewer, "has given rise abroad to the impression that it is a militaristic movement and would not be averse to using force to gain the power in Germany and to change the frontiers. What could you say on that point?"

"The National Socialist movement," answered Herr Hitler, "is not a military but a political organization. It is characterized, however, by very strict discipline. The form and nature of a political organization are determined not only by the will of its members but also by its opponents. Germany has today more than 6,000,000 Communists and from six to seven million other varieties of international Socialists. These represent the advance guard in our own country of a formidable foreign power. Democratic theories and admonitions do not suffice to resist a force which is motivated not by belief in democracy but by bloody brutality. If America had 20,000,000 Communists and Social-Democratic Marxists, the American people would readily understand why the National Socialist movement inculcates in its members the highest discipline and a readiness for self-sacrifice."

"It is also assumed," continued the interviewer, "that you would like to revive the traditional type of discipline which Oswald Spengler identifies with Prussianism and which the old German Army and the system of universal military service exemplified."

"The abolition of universal military service in Germany seems to the rest of the world to have been a great achievement," remarked Herr Hitler. "But if it leads to the disruption of the German nation and to bolshevistic chaos, the world then will prefer German universal military service to a German Red army.

Monarchy Held Not an Issue

"Would not the abolition of the republic be a first step to the restoration of the monarchy, and does not your movement tend to strengthen monarchistic tendencies?"

"The National Socialist movement," replied Herr Hitler, "has nothing whatever to do with monarchism. The vital problem now facing the German nation is not whether a King of Prussia will again become German Kaiser but whether bolshevism will destroy the German people, their culture and their economic system."

Herr Hitler was asked whether anti-Semitism was a fundamental part of his party's platform.

"The attitude of the National Socialist movement to every inhabitant of this country," he said, "is determined by that inhabitant's attitude to Germany. More over, it was America, in spite of its enormous territory, that was the first country to teach us—by its immigration law—that a nation should not open its doors equally to all races. Let China be for the Chinese, America for the Americans and Germany for the Germans. We have a very small amount of territory for our 65,000,000 people, but at least—within our restricted area—we can be our own masters. Let me add that I should severely condemn every German who would take part in public affairs in Palestine or seek to influence them."

The Kaiser's Overthrow

Herr Hitler had often referred to the German revolution as "the crime of 1918," so the interviewer asked him what he would have done at that time.

"In the hour of greatest need of my people," he answered, "I should never have made a revolution. Even if I had thought my former government had been guilty, I should have covered up the fact instead of proclaiming it to the world. Only after the end of the war and the signature of the peace should I have made that government answer for its sins. I am convinced that no American would have behaved in any other way."

When asked what he thought about the prospects of reducing armaments, apropos of the world disarmament conference next February, Herr Hitler replied:

"We the National Socialists see a prospect of maintaining peace only if the menacing situation of one-sided disarmament disappears. There are just two possibilities: Either the armed nations will remove the disturbing and threatening pressure of their unreasonable and unjustified military superiority or else the disarmed nations will one day rearm. What we ask is the removal of this menace."

"Do you mean that if France had an army of 100,000 men, then Germany would be satisfied with her army of 100,000?" Herr Hitler was asked.

"Yes," he said. "What we want is equality. Moreover, because of her financial position Germany is more interested in disarmament than in further armament.

Revision of the Peace Treaty

Reference was made to a recent book ("Morgen wieder Krieg," by Dr. Bauer) in which Germany's insistence upon revision of the Versailles Treaty was rated as one of the disturbing factors in Europe, and Herr Hitler was asked to comment upon this contention.

"We oppose the treaty as a form of continuous throttling, oppression and extortion—morally, politically and economically. It was not a peace treaty but a settlement dictated by hatred ["Hassdiktat" was the word Herr Hitler used], which cuts the world sharply into two groups of peoples, victors and vanquished. We shall not allow ourselves to be kept eternally in the position of a second-class nation, mistreated by France."

"But if you demand that the treaty be revised, you cannot logically expect the French to disarm, since they contend that their army is needed precisely to prevent treaty revision and the changing of frontiers."

"In 1871," replied Herr Hitler, "the French opposed the Treaty of Frankfurt just as we oppose the Treaty of Versailles today, but Germany made no effort on that account to limit France's rearmament."

Herr Hitler was then asked about his party's demands that Germany withdraw from the League of Nations.

"We do not regard the League as any sort of guarantee of peace," he said. "If it were such a guarantee, why should France require her enormous military force? Moreover, I am not aware that the League's intervention in the conflict between Japan and China has kept the peace. We do not want to be either Japanese or Chinese."

November 21, 2016

1955. Ben-Gurion on Egypt and the Potential for War

Spectre of War
"David Ben-Gurion with IDF Commander Yosef Nevo and Mayor of Jerusalem Mordechai Ish-Shalom at an army post at the Jerusalem border, 1962" (Photo by David Harris - source)
This report below has been adapted from telegram style.
Bill Downs

CBS Jerusalem

November 1955

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion told CBS News today that there are two reasons behind the Egyptian-Communist arms deal: Firstly Russia's traditional urge, dating from Czarist times, to penetrate into the Mediterranean and Middle East, and secondly the Soviet policy to establish pro-Communist a force in the Eastern Mediterranean in opposition to the West's Northern Tier.

Speaking in his map-decorated office, Ben-Gurion decried talk of "preventative war" and declared: "Preventative war is war unprevented, and it differs in no way from any other war. We prefer a preventative peace."

Ben-Gurion recalled his inaugural speech in Israel's parliament last week, where he declared that Israel never initiated war and said: "We never will, but neither shall we tolerate any warlike acts against us, by whatever name they may be called."

However, the Prime Minister declared: "The large-scale supply of arms to Egypt increases the danger of war in the Middle East. This danger can be met in two ways: Firstly, by preventing the flow of arms to Egypt and other countries, or secondly, by supplying arms to Israel."

When questioned about Egyptian claims about Israel's military superiority, Ben-Gurion denied that there is any "breathing space" left for his nation: "Israel's superiority in the War of Independence and to this day lies only and exclusively in the moral superiority of her people." He declared that, even up until now, Israel has never had superiority in armaments, and even less in manpower, and said that: "Not only Arab countries as a whole, but even Egypt alone has had more arms and a larger standing army than Israel, even before the receipt of Soviet arms. The danger to Israel's existence will constantly increase unless we too receive substantial arms reinforcements."

Asked if Israel would apply to Communist sources for arms if she feels the West is letting her down, Ben-Gurion said: "Our country is fighting for her very existence and has the right to get arms anywhere. But I think it would be an illusion to expect arms from the Soviet bloc, and I have not entirely given up hope of the help which we deserve from the United States and other democratic countries."

Commenting on Egyptian statements that recent Israeli border attacks prove the insincerity of Ben-Gurion's offer of peace talks, the Prime Minister declared that: "There has never been an Israeli attack against Egypt, and I can give my assurance that there never will be one in the future."

In referring to last Wednesday's battalion-sized action at Nitzana, Ben-Gurion said: "The Egyptians recently invaded our territory at Nitzana in violation of the armistice agreement and international law. When they refused to leave after repeated requests by representatives of the United Nations, we drove them out by force. But not a single one of our soldiers remained in Egyptian territory, because we have no desire to encroach upon Egypt."

"If Nasser wants peace he can have it in five minutes. Let him send me a telegram and he will have an immediate positive reply."

November 18, 2016

1932. "The Nazi Mind: A Study in Nationalism"

"The Nazi Mind: A Study in Nationalism" by Harold Callender
NSDAP members with Adolf Hitler in Munich, Bavaria at the inauguration of the party's national headquarters at the "Brown House" in December 1930 (source)
From The New York Times, January 3, 1932:


What Is Happening in Germany Is but the Exaggeration Of a Political Phenomenon Common to All Countries

By Harold Callender
Berlin – In the short space of less than two years a new and turbulent force—organized revolutionary nationalism—has swept over Germany from the Rhine to the Vistula and completely altered (at least for the moment) the face of German politics.

Only eighteen months ago the Reichstag, split into a score of party groups, was carrying on national affairs in the fumbling, bickering, ineffectual manner which democracies put up with in normal times but quickly dispense with in emergencies. Dr. Bruening decided an emergency had arrived and forced an election. Then there suddenly appeared upon the Chancellor's right a formidable group of Nazis, waving their mystic swastika and shouting for revolution, and everything was changed. To check them the Bruening Government, backed by President von Hindenburg and the Socialists, stiffened into something very like a dictatorship. But the Nazis kept advancing and are still doing so.

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The Nazis are the perhaps inevitable result of two dominant factors in the German situation which the outside world—much surprised by the unexpected emergence of Hitler—has not yet fully appreciated.

One of these factors is wounded national pride, the painful sense of Germany's having been tried, condemned without a hearing, fined, dismembered and reduced to the dishonorable status of an outcast who must live perpetually under the suspicious eye of a well-armed policeman lest he run amuck and endanger his neighbors' lives and possessions. This is the way most Germans, moderates as well as extreme nationalists, interpret the history of the last thirteen years; it is also the way the French interpret it, except that they regard the sentence and the surveillance as being justified.

The other disturbing factor is the economic pinch under which Germany has labored, particularly during the last two years. It is easy to demonstrate that this is not entirely attributable to reparations; indeed, some of the most ardent nationalists, in their eagerness to incriminate the Socialists, say privately that reparations have been of secondary importance and that government extravagance and graft have been a far greater evil—and here, too, they are in full agreement with the French.

But reparations have played their part and consequently it is impossible to dissociate this second factor from the first. In the German mind the two are inextricably mingled and the conviction prevails that reparations are the principal if not the sole source of Germany's troubles. Hence the dispossessed of the middle class, impoverished by the inflation and deprived of jobs by the industrial let-down, and farmers unable to pay interest on their mortgages, flock to the Pied Piper of revolutionary nationalism, who has suddenly become the militant leader of a new kind of proletariat which is desperate and rebellious but not ready—at least not yet—to throw in its lot with the working class proletariat of the extreme Left.

A few far-sighted economists, notable J. M. Keynes (in his book, "The Economic Consequences of Peace") predicted as early as 1919 the economic and social havoc that was to come—in consequence, as they contended, of the system imposed upon Europe at Versailles. Similarly, any one with a sense of national psychology might have foreseen, not precisely brown-shirted and swastika-waving Nazis but a vigorous resurgence of nationalism in Germany such as has taken place. If you subject a great nation to such conditions as were imposed upon Germany—however justified you may be in doing so—you may reasonably expect it to react in some such way as Germany has done.

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In the first decade of the nineteenth century, when Germany had been conquered and dismembered by Napoleon, a philosopher like Goethe could take it with calm stoicism, but among the youth of Germany there burned a bitter resentment and resolve to free and unite their country. The universities seethed with nationalism just as they do today. German political unity was long in coming, but a new empire arose in 1871 and had to be reckoned with in 1914-1918. Now that this empire has been laid low, a new impetus to German nationalism has been supplied by the territorial losses, the military prohibitions and the economic burdens which the republic that succeeded it has had to bear.

Thus the injury to German national pride caused by the peace treaty, and the impoverishment and demoralization of the German middle class caused by the social crisis to which the machine age (which created that class) has brought us, have combined to produce the phenomenon called National-Socialist. The first part of its name reflects an angry nationalism borne of a decade of brooding over defeat; the second part—so far as it is more than a name—reflects the vague grudges of the new middle class proletariat against those to whom rent and interest have to be paid, against industrial magnates who have managed to remain rich or to become rich during the hard years since the war, against trusts and big cities and Jew and mass production and banks. In the Nazi movement are united the nationalistic ardor of a humiliated people and the revolt of a dispossessed class. Hence its powerful appeal to millions of voters; hence, too, its lack of a precise program and its lack of inner unity.

In the medley of resentment, prejudice and idealism that go to make up the Nazi movement are mingled something of the old German dream of racial and national unity which has never been realized (not even in the empire that Bismarck built); a wistful longing for social stability and economic justice; a revulsion against the industrial civilization which has revolutionized German life and which seems to many Germans to have resulted in chaining their country to Western finance as though she were a sort of financial colony of the creditor powers. Territorial grievances, nationalization of trusts, denunciation of the "serfdom of interest," anti-Semitism—all crop up repeatedly, with varying emphasis, in the pamphlets and manifestoes of the party and in the speeches of its leaders, which represents a chorus of half-formulated discontent rather than a program of action.

The movement and the feelings that have generated it are not nearly so strange and exotic as the foreign observer might at first be inclined to assume. Nationalism is not a German invention; its appearance in Germany in this singular form is due to the country's special situation. No nation is immune to nationalistic excesses; indeed, in the field of economics they are epidemic just now. Hence as one recovers from the initial impression of their oddity, one realizes that the Nazi ideas are not by any means indigenous to the Bavarian Highlands or the Eastern Marches.

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Consider first of all the question of race. Since several million people who speak German and are more or less "Nordic" in race have lately been cut off from the Reich and annexed to nations ruled by Poles, Czechs and French (the Nazis do not mention the case of the South Tyrolean Germans annexed by Italy because the Fascists across the Alps are the Nazis' political models), it is an opportune moment to hold up ideals of racial unity. Numerous German organizations, commercial and scholastic as well as political, are "gross-deutsch" in scope—that is, they include Austria, Danzig and the German parts of Czechoslovakia. The Reich is commonly regarded as the centre of a greater Germany which is already united with it culturally and one day must be united politically.

This is, of course, the Nazis' view. But they go much further. They emphasize and propagate the contention of certain anthropologists that the "Nordic" race—"the race of our Germanic ancestors" is responsible for most of the creative talent that has appeared in Europe and the New World, and even in ancient India, Greece and Persia. So it is one of the many missions of the Nazis to keep the race as "Nordic" as possible by preventing the contamination (or rather the further contamination) of its superior blood. To this end they would expel all non-Germans who have settled in Germany since 1914 and admit none in future (though one might have expected them to welcome "Nordics" whether German or not).

Moreover, they would allow only persons "of German blood" to become citizens. They do not say how much "German blood" (or do they mean "Nordic" blood?) would be regarded as a minimum, or how these racial qualifications would be determined. What would happen, for instance, to the millions of Germans between the Polish border and Hamburg who are as much Slavic as German? Or to the millions in Bavaria and Central Germany who are not "Nordic" at all but belong to the race that the anthropologists classify as Alpine? On one point at least the Nazi platform is quite clear: no Jew could be admitted to the "Nordic" fellowship, hence no Jew could be a German citizen under the "Third Reich."

In one Nazi pamphlet one finds the republic indicted for not championing the "Nordics." "It is to the interest of the present holders of power," one reads, "to oppress and weed out the Nordic man. All the measures against the National-Socialist party and its leaders are to be considered from this racial standpoint."

If all this seems a bit fanciful, it is not at any rate original with the Nazis. In the Nazi library is a book written by an American ("The Great Passing of the Great Race" by Madison Grant) which sets forth precisely this contention about the "Nordic" race, the contention that those who have blond hair, blue eyes, fair skins and long heads belong to an inherently superior breed. This idea—in conjunction with economic considerations—was advanced in support of our present immigration law, which favors the more or less Nordic peoples of the north of Europe at the expense of the non-Nordics of the south and east. "It was America," said Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, to the present writer recently, "that taught us that a nation should not open its doors equally to all nations."
The New York Times, January 3, 1932, p. 21
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In the field of economics the Nazi creed is much less precise; but here, too, it is merely an extreme and German version of ideas and impulses that are well-nigh universal just now. Nazi speakers, notably their economic expert, Dr. Wagner, talk vaguely of virtually severing commercial relations with the Western World. This sounds somewhat drastic, but it is a point of view which should not be at all puzzling to Senator Reed Smoot or Winston Churchill or Lord Beaverbrook.

Has not America imposed increasingly severe tariff penalties upon foreigners who want to trade with us and upon our own citizens who want to buy foreign goods? What do the British protectionists demand but that England should stop importing from foreign lands to the extent that she can supply her needs from the empire? Is not Central Europe a maze of formidable tariff barriers which choke international trade and prevent European recovery? Economic nationalism is the mania of the hour and nearly every nation is intently engaged in the restriction of trade.

But, because of Germany's unique position as a debtor nation, this economic nationalism has taken on in Germany a special form and intensity. In academic and business circles a lively debate goes on over the question, "Autarkie oder Weltwirtschaft?"—which may be translated, "Self-sufficiency or world economy?" Most business men apparently regard it as impossible for Germany to dispense with much of her world trade, but the more daring (and more youthful) spirits among the nationalists have been captivated by the idea of a great adventure—a great gamble—in economic independence. Is not Russia trying it and getting away with it? they ask. Russia, to be sure, is not a great industrial nation like Germany, which can feed only about two-thirds of its people from its own soil; but might not Germany, in close conjunction with Russia and the other agricultural States to the east and south, work out an economic system which would enable her to thumb her nose at her creditors in the West, as Russia did?

Why does Germany export in such immense quantities? Because she must pay reparations, debts and interest. About half her export balance goes to satisfy her political and private creditors. To put it another way—the way the Nationalists prefer to put it—the only thing that really forces her to pay her creditors is the circumstance that she is enmeshed in the economic system of the Western World. If she could withdraw from that system and become independent of it, she would be in a position to say to her former enemies: "Come on with your fleets and armies and try to collect if you like; we are going to pay no more."

This imagined declaration of economic independence is couched in just these terms by Ferdinand Fried, one of the leading apostles of economic nationalism, in his book, "Das Ende des Kapitalismus." Many doubt that such a course is possible, or that Germany would gain more than she would lose if it were possible, but they often agree that it would be fine if it were. There is already a considerable literature on the subject, notably in the monthly issues and special supplements of the magazine, Die Tat.

While repudiating reparations, Hitler says he would favor recognizing Germany's private debts; but the ideas of Die Tat represent broadly the extreme economic nationalism to which the Nazis incline. When Nazi speakers talk of Germany's withdrawing unto herself and leading a sort of cloistered economic life so far as the Western World is concerned, they simply express in political platform terms what the editors of Die Tat have more fully and more lucidly formulated.

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Such a conception of Germany's future presupposes a revolution in her economic policy, a subordination of private interests and rights to the State and the creation of a sort of half-socialist, half-capitalist system. It is based upon the belief that Western capitalism is doomed and that Germany might as well pull out while the going is good. Hence these neo-Marxists advocate collaboration with Russia, State control of industry and foreign trade (which already exists to a great extent) and nationalization of trusts and monopolies. They would leave the smaller industries in private hands but under such State supervision as would make possible nationally planned production in cooperation with the agricultural States to the east. They have abandoned all hope of reducing world tariffs through conferences in Geneva and regard internationalism and economic liberalism as illusions to be gotten rid of.

The Nationalist-Socialist movement is national enough, but how far is it socialistic? This is a question that the present writer has put to numerous persons inside and outside the Nazi organization. The answer is that few Nazis, even among the leaders, have thought the subject through; but the party's program calls for nationalization of trusts, municipalization of department stores (to be let to small shopkeepers), abolition of ground rents, unearned income and the "slavery of interest payments"; and those leaders who discuss economic reforms in any definite way express ideas which closely resemble, when they are not identical with, those sketched above.

Possible the Nazis who are more nationalist than socialistic, or those who are not socialistic at all, may make short shrift of these socialistic notions if the party ever comes into power; it probably would depend upon economic circumstances as to which group got the upper hand. For there are anti-capitalistic and pro-capitalistic streams in the Nazi movement, and its leaders may be obliged one day to decide—at the risk of a party split—whether that dream State they call "the Third Reich" is really going to be socialistic or not.

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Nazi intolerance, as manifested in campaigns against university professors who disagree with them, is no more peculiar to the German Nazis than their racial creed or their economic nationalism. Those who study American history will find that once, when we were at war with Germany, several American States were so patriotic as to outlaw the teaching of the German language and that many a professor lost his job because of his unorthodox political opinions.

The French are much concerned about the Nazi movement, which strikes them as a queer Teutonic thing. But they should find it fairly comprehensible if they would only regard it as the German equivalent of their own Nationalist-Royalist band which lately distinguished itself by howling down speakers at the disarmament meeting in the Trocadero Palace in Paris.

Léon Daudet and Charles Maurras are intellectuals and men of letters, hence there can be no comparison as to the literary quality between their paper L'Action Française and Hitler's Völkischer Beobachter; but the temper of the two movements is strikingly similar. If a German Nazi met a French Camelot du Roi each ought to recognize the other as his spiritual brother. Both movements are bitterly anti-democratic, anti-republican and extremely nationalist, the main difference being simply one of geography. And in England Lord Rothermere, for instance, has shown marked sympathy for the Nazis because they promise to keep bolshevism away.

When one visits the new European frontiers which remain dangerous "sore spots" because of national suspicions, when one observes that national economic barriers that shackle trade or studies of racial theories that emphasize differences and nurture antagonisms, one is forced to realize that the Nazi mentality is not a matter of nationality—that nationalism, so to speak, is an international phenomenon.