April 26, 2017

1944. Clearing the Channel Coast

Nazis on the Defensive Across France and Belgium
"Buffalo amphibious vehicles taking Canadians across the Scheldt in Zeeland" September 1944 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Brussels

September 6, 1944 (second dispatch)

This is Bill Downs speaking from Brussels.

British and Canadian forces now have created another pocket which, when it is cleared up, may develop into another victory larger than the Normandy bag.

We have very few details as to the exact dimensions of the coastal pocket south of Antwerp, but roughly the Allied line extends from Antwerp through Ghent, southward to Brussels, then down to Lille, and cuts eastward to the area of Boulogne.

Some estimates say that perhaps 200,000 Germans are in this pocket. Other estimates are more conservative, saying perhaps there are 120,00 Nazis trapped in the coastal bag. The Germans are trying to filter through the extended Allied lines, but not many are getting out, chiefly because they simply do not have the transport to carry them—and it is a long walk back to Germany.

The British drive northward has paused the past two days, one reason being that the tanks and troops had to wait for their supplies to catch up with them. And then there is the question of this pocket. The Canadian and British string is drawing tighter around this bag, and some troops are being diverted to take care of it.

However, the one thing that has marked this advance by the British troops has been the work of the supply echelons. This army has advanced 205 miles in six days without a hitch.

The men who drive and load the trucks have done such excellent work that General Dempsey, commander of the British Second Army, addressed an order of the day to the Royal Army Service Corps praising their work. He said that the final defeat of the German army depends to a large extent upon the speed and efficiency with which gasoline and other stores reach the fighting men. And General Dempsey called on all supply troops to make a special effort until victory is complete.

Everyone is thinking in terms of complete and final victory very soon. And the way the armies are rolling, it does not appear to be very far in the future.

However, there is still fighting to be done, and there are still Nazis bearing arms to be killed.

The Battle of Belgium has for all intents and purposes been won the past three days. Next comes the Battle of Germany, the last battle of this war.

April 25, 2017

1933. Why a Second World War is Unlikely, According to an Expert

The Cradle of War
Nazi "Grand Tattoo" ceremony in Nuremberg marking the end of the 7th Party Congress on September 16, 1935 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy and Germany prior to World War II. In 1933, Dr. Earle B. Babcock of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace made the case that, despite the tensions throughout Europe, another major war was unlikely to take place in the near future due to increasing international political and economic cooperation. He highlighted the Balkan States and Franco-German relations as examples.

From The New York Times, December 3, 1933, pp. 1, 8:
Finds War Less Expected In Europe Than We Think
Dr. Babcock Declares No Government or Responsible Statesman Wants It and Reports Gains in Organizing Peace
Assistant Director of European Centre, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

On my return to the United States after long residence and extensive travel in Europe, I have been surprised to find that there seems to be more doubt in this country about the possibility of maintaining peace and more fear that war is inevitable than exists in Europe. Most authoritative opinion there seems to me to be steadily and increasingly confident that war is not on the immediate horizon. From time to time, to be sure, incidents take place which give rise to rumors and furnish aid and comfort to those elements in all countries which have special interest in fomenting discord and distrust. The statements, which are made from time to time in America by returning travelers to the effect that war is inevitable in the near future because all Europe desires it, appear to me unfounded, misleading and subversive.

The truth is, no European people and no government or responsible statesman in Europe today desires war or feels that a war under present conditions offers any promise of correcting existing injustices, dissatisfaction and misery. These facts should be borne in mind by those who, because of their fear regarding the stability of peace, are doubtful about the possibility of world economic recovery.

A Question of Strength

It is, of course, unwise to play the role of prophet and no one can foresee what the situation will be in ten, fifteen or twenty years. It is, however, safe to say, I think, that so long as the countries which are opposed to a new Armageddon because they would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by it are so strong, and those which on account of their grievances and sufferings might in desperation have recourse to violence because they feel that anything is preferable to their present condition, are weak, there is no danger of a general conflagration. It is true that at some point in the future, unless the necessary machinery and technique for the solution of international disputes are set up and enabled to function, the age-long principle that the final arbiter is war will again triumph. The question is whether in the intervening years of grace these agencies can be organized on a firm foundation or not.

Progress Being Made

After all, in spite of the complexity of detail and the varied interests and points of view involved, which on the surface appear baffling and hopeless, there are certain general principles that are simple enough when disengaged from the confusion of thought now so prevalent concerning them. In spite of apparent chaos, selfish interests and a disconcerting growth of nationalistic feeling everywhere apparent, my own conviction is that constant and definite progress is being made along fundamental and constructive lines which may be built into the foundations of the edifice of peace. It is obvious that I can attempt here merely to indicate a few of these encouraging developments. They are only important if the general thesis be correct that through positive, vigorous and persistent effort alone can, to quote Nicholas Murray Butler, the "ideal of human liberty, justice and the honorable conduct of an orderly and humane society," upon which durable peace must rest, be attained. There is no need, in Europe, at least, to insist upon the brutality, wastefulness and stupidity of war and to point out the advantages of peace. The horror of the recent world conflict and its consequences are still so evident that such negative and high-pressure propaganda is futile.

What is now needed is not the pledge of young men to refuse to fight even in defense of their own country, but a determination on their part to contribute in every way possible to finding a substitute for fighting. It must not be forgotten that the mere suppression of war, essential though it be, will not correct injustices and well-founded grievances. The old conception of the inherent right of any people to have recourse to war for the purpose of redressing wrong and injury is now clearly seen to be open to two main objections: First, the obvious danger of permitting one party to a dispute to decide that armed conflict is justified and to provoke the struggle, and, secondly, the obvious uncertainty that the outcome would relieve and not aggravate the conditions previously existing.

Aristide Briand, after signing the Pact of Paris at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris on Aug. 27, 1928, remarked, "We have now declared peace. Our remaining task is to organize it." Experience has shown that the organization of peace presents great difficulties which can only be overcome when the public opinion of the world recognizes the soundness of certain contentions about which there is as yet no general agreement, although they seem to me axiomatic. First, the analogy between the State in the community of nations and the individual in the State is complete in so far as security and freedom of action are concerned. Second, in an environment of disorganized, uncontrolled anarchy the individual or the nation must depend upon his or its own strength to resist aggression. It has taken many centuries for the civilized nations to solve imperfectly the problem of the relations of the individual to the State. It is not surprising that in the few years which have elapsed since the end of the great war the more complicated problem of working out a successful association of nations which will accomplish the same purpose has not been completed.

Mobilization of Opinion

An optimistic or pessimistic attitude as to the future must be based, it seems to me, on the conviction that progress is being made toward this great end or that we are further from its realization now than a few years ago. The curious and false notion that an agreement on the part of any country to throw its influence against an aggressor nation means sending its young men to fight in distant lands must be eliminated. It is precisely to prevent such an unfortunate occurrence that the overwhelming power of world opinion should be mobilized in favor of a united stand against aggression.

That an agreement to take automatic and speedy action against the law-breaking nation on the part of all the civilized nations is possible in the near future does not seem likely. Therefore, M. Briand proposed a European Federal Union, both economic and political, in order that the European countries could bring about a return of prosperity in an atmosphere of security and confidence. It now appears undeniable as he had in mind, which, of course, could not be a United States of Europe, is not immediately possible. It has long been my conviction that regional understandings and ententes must precede the ultimate European union just as a European federation of some sort will come before world organization for peace, which is the final goal.

Under the guidance and direction of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler the European Centre of the Carnegie Endowment has taken for several years an active interest in the drawing together of certain of the smaller European States into larger groups wherever there are sufficient economic solidarity and common interests to make such a development practicable.

A Balkan Example

As an illustration of what can be accomplished along these lines and the method of procedure, I may cite the rapprochement among the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula, which I have personally observed for the last four years. I recently returned from attending the meetings of the Fourth Balkan Conference, held at Saloniki from Nov. 5 to 12. The first conference met at Athens in October, 1930, the second at Istanbul in 1931 and the third at Bucharest in 1932. I have had the privilege of being present at all of these reunions, to which delegates selected from many fields of activity came from each of the six Balkan States, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania, Turkey and Yugoslavia. At each conference notable progress has been made in the fields of economic and political cooperation. The fourth conference met several weeks later than was originally proposed because of recent remarkable diplomatic activity in the Balkans, the results of which it seemed advisable to observe.

First, at Angora the Greek and Turkish statesmen signed a new Greco-Turkish pact strengthening the friendship and cooperation existing between the two countries since the first agreement was ratified, three years ago. The new and striking features of this pact are the actual guarantee of the present frontiers and the clause promising consultation and united action in all international negotiations. The importance of these agreements is not confined to the two States directly concerned, but they have aroused keen interest throughout the Balkans and have powerfully stimulated the movement toward a Balkan union.

Visits Viewed as Proof

Proof of this wider interest is furnished by the visits of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, first to King Carol of Rumania and then to King Boris of Bulgaria, next to the President of the Turkish Republic and finally to Greece. Soon afterward, M. Titulescu, the Rumanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, went to Sofia, Angora and Athens. As a result of these conversations a pact of friendship and arbitration has been signed by Turkey and Yugoslavia, and important rapprochements have taken place between Greece and Bulgaria, as well as between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. The greatest significance of all these developments lies in the fact that they show a realization on the part of the Balkan peoples of the necessity of mutual cooperation for the maintenance of peace and the organization of economic solidarity.

At the fourth conference the draft of a Balkan pact, which the Bulgarians refused to discuss a year ago, was signed by the heads of all delegations, although Bulgaria made certain reservations. While this action had no official character, the project will now be presented to all the governments concerned.

The fourth conference also registered important progress in the vitally important field of economic cooperation: Development of communications, collaboration in social and hygienic policy, intellectual rapprochement, a partial Balkan customs union, an inter-Balkan Chamber of Commerce, etc.

Consequences Are Important

The actual accomplishment along the above lines is not the most significant development in the Balkans. The gratifying and remarkable change in public opinion in all the Balkan States from latent hostility to a friendly policy of conciliation and a friendly settlement of difficulties, the preparing the way for the notable official action due to the diplomatic movement indicated above and the knowledge spread among the Balkan States about each other are the finest achievements of these annual conferences and the constant activity which is carried on in the intervals between them. The Carnegie Endowment has closely followed and encouraged this movement from its inception, because of our belief that the spirit and attitude shown in these discussions, the resolutions which have been passed and the technique that has been developed, may well serve as a model for similar agreements elsewhere. It must be remembered that the attempt to create a Balkan union will have important consequences for the whole of Europe. These understandings, because of the improvement in economic and financial conditions, the restoration of confidence in the stability of the areas concerned and the resulting improvement in economic and financial conditions will have an importance extending beyond the regions themselves.

When one recalls the centuries during which the Balkan Peninsula was a centre for the Continental bitterness and the cradle of wars, the fact is amazing that it has now become the theatre in the world today where the most constructive, carefully planned and promising attempt to organize peace is being worked out. Even in Macedonia, which presents the most difficult problems, the bloody massacres which occurred so frequently in the past have now ceased.

The States that border on the Baltic Sea, which formerly belonged to Russia, because of their pre-war history and the ancient rivalry of Russia and Germany for supremacy afford an interesting problem and opportunity. The important convention signed last July in London by all the neighbors of Russia with the Soviet Republic defining aggression so definitely that there can be no doubt in the future as to the facts and the recent statements of both the Polish and the German Governments that they will attempt to bring about no territorial changes in the status quo except within the framework and provisions of the peace treaties, have prepared the way for an economic union of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the basis of friendly cooperation with the Scandinavian countries, Germany and Poland, the interest and importance of which may prove to be quite comparable to the Balkan Entente.

Possibilities of Anschluss

The complex and difficult problems presented by the situation of the Danubian States are perhaps the most pressing at the present time. Unless they are solved before many months have passed, the Anschluss, i.e. the domination of Austria by Germany with all its implications, which would break up Czechoslovakia and quickly draw Hungary and ultimately most of Mitteleuropa into the German orbit, can hardly be avoided. The obvious solution would be an economic confederation of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia that would relieve the dire distress prevailing in the first two countries as well as the extended unemployment in the latter. Whatever may be justly said against the political weaknesses and absurdities of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, as an economic unit it worked fairly well. But here as elsewhere, the obvious steps to take from the economic point of view are made difficult for political reasons, chiefly because of dissatisfaction with the present frontiers and the large minorities which have always existed.

Whether important peril will postpone their demands for frontier rectifications until the present crisis has passed is well nigh impossible to foresee. There is reason to believe, however, that the turning of Yugoslavia and Rumania toward the Balkans will enable the third member of the Little Entente, Czechoslovakia, to remove the trade barriers between itself and Hungary and Austria. Then friendly commercial agreements could easily be made with Germany on the one hand and Italy on the other, and the danger of violence and upheaval in this whole vast region would disappear.

Contributions to Friendship

I therefore reiterate my belief, often expressed in the past, that such regional understandings as have been described above, because of the improvements which they would bring in economic and financial conditions and the restoration of confidence which they justify in the stability of peace, will contribute powerfully to that ultimate reconciliation of France and Germany without which no permanent peace in Europe is possible.

In paraphrase of an often-quoted remark of Elihu Root, I may say without fear of contradiction that there is no problem in Europe so serious that it cannot be peaceably solved if those two great peoples see eye to eye, and there is no dispute so trivial that it cannot become the cause of war if they are not in agreement.

In spite of the withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations, an act which in my opinion was taken largely for reasons of internal politics, and the truculent statements in the Nazi official program, I am confident that Mr. Hitler does not at present want international complications of any kind and least of all war. For many years Germany's efforts and energies will be completely absorbed by her internal difficulties and the rebuilding of her material resources and moral prestige. The improved relations between Germany and Poland, which are the result of the conciliatory attitude of the German Chancellor, may well be extended now to Franco-German relations.

German Demand Neutral

The demand of Germany for equality of armament is natural and justifiable. It is intolerable to a proud people that its extensive frontiers should be defenseless against possible attacks from its neighbors and that it should be subject to the pressure which may be exerted because of this defenseless condition. Recent refusals of equality of armament, granted in theory but withheld in fact, is due to the conviction that ultimately Germany would use the relative superiority which she would obtain because of her industrial organization and chemical industry, either through disarmament of the other nations or by her own rearmament, for the purpose of obtaining by force what she has failed to get by other means.

The official announcement that Germany intends to incorporate ultimately into the Third Reich those portions of the neighboring countries which contain German minorities, beginning with the whole of Austria, has caused consternation everywhere and has provoked military demonstrations in Switzerland, Belgium and elsewhere. That there would be general resistance to such a plan cannot be doubted, but the excitement which the announcement of the plan has caused is due mainly, I think, to the failure to take into account the internal situation in Germany and the circumstances under which it was formulated. We must remember that the strength of Germany today, financial, naval and military, is relatively very inferior to what it was in 1914.

Furthermore, she has no alliances upon which she could count, the danger of the Anschluss and the Nazi regime in Germany having weakened the sympathies for her of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria. The Little Entente and Poland are prepared to defend themselves vigorously and effectively. Although France has greatly reduced the size of her army and the length of military service and the entire nation is opposed to any war, she feels now relatively secure behind the great fortifications erected along the Franco-German frontier. Even admitting that there may have been considerable rearmament in Germany and that this may continue, the German Military Staff after its latest experience is not likely to take any chances or to countenance a new war until it is practically certain of a rapid victory, knowing well that a prolonged conflict would ruin both victors and the vanquished.

Saar Basin a Big Factor

Germany and France are in many ways natural allies, each contributing what the other lacks, and they are not rivals in industry or agriculture. When the Saar basin has been returned to Germany there will be no territorial dispute, as Mr. Hitler himself has said, between the two countries. The only things that keep them apart are the humiliation to which Germany has been subjected by the Treaty of Versailles and the fear of France of future aggression on her part. Germany objected to the military and territorial clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, as well as those dealing with reparations. Many of her objectives since the armistice have been attained. Control of armaments in Germany by an inter-allied commission has disappeared. The allied troops have left the Rhine and reparation payments have been substantially canceled.

Direct negotiations between the German and French Governments can do much to give the German people the future satisfaction they require and to which they are entitled. I believe that France will respond to the conciliatory and friendly attitude of Mr. Hitler and that the necessary effort will be made on both sides to reach an agreement. This will, of course, take time. One of the obstacles in the way of action by France is the difficulty of forming a Cabinet which can command a stable majority in the Chamber of Deputies in the Senate. This is not due to any disagreement about the foreign policy of the country.

Followed Briand Plans

In fact, in spite of severe and unjust criticism of the policies of M. Briand which have appeared in the nationalistic press, every French Foreign Minister and every government since his hand left the helm have followed the lines he laid down. A reading of the Parisian press gives a false idea of the attitude of the French people on international questions. Such provincial papers as Le Petit Marseillais and La Dépêche de Toulouse give a fairer picture of the opinions and aspirations of the French people. The difficulty in forming a stable government is due to the perennial conflict between French foreign and financial policies. The French people and Parliament are becoming constantly more liberal in questions of foreign policy but they are rigidly conservative where financial matters are involved. MM. Herriot, Daladier and Sarraut, all members of the Radical Socialist Party, which is the most powerful in France at the present time, are in substantial agreement and have the approval of Parliament in their foreign policy, but they cannot get support for their fiscal policy in a chamber where a majority of the Deputies belong to the Radical Socialist and Socialist parties.

It is essential that Great Britain, France and Italy remain in that close and effective collaboration which will be required during an indefinite period to bring about an understanding between Germany and France. The last obstacle to direct negotiations between the governments of these two countries, the fear of France that she will alienate by such action her former allies and friends, has disappeared. The Italian Duce does not approve of an adjustment of these questions as at present constituted. By direct agreement with Germany, Poland has given the example to France as to how to proceed. The Little Entente is not unfavorable to anything which will lessen its fear of German aggression and the closing part of the great speech of Stanley Baldwin in the House of Commons on Nov. 27, as reported in The New York Times, contains noble words, giving unstinted approval of, and offering generous cooperation in France in her great adventure.

"We want France to get in direct touch with Germany and we will do all in our power to help those two nations to reach an understanding," he said.

Under League Auspices

"After this when the governments of the other countries have had these bilateral parallel discussions on this grave question we hope and expect that disarmament proceedings will be resumed on the lines of the British convention under the auspices of the League. To France I would say this: They and we are inheritors and possessors of great and ancient civilizations. If what we have preserved and what we have to give to the world should be lost, then in my opinion the world would not be worth living in. Our interests are very close; our friendship with France is tried and secure. I hope she may be side by side with us in this struggle for a secure peace which they want from their souls as much as any man in this country."

This I believe to be the most significant and the most eloquent statement that any British statesman has made for many months. If it be true that no durable peace can be obtained in Europe without a Franco-German reconciliation it is equally true that this new understanding is impossible without the cordial collaboration of Great Britain. The next step would be a reorganization of the League of Nations, which will naturally and easily follow the above understandings. General reduction of armaments can then be obtained and the organization of peace will be well under way. This prospect is of such fundamental importance for the United States as well as for Europe that even slow and interrupted progress toward its fulfillment should be a cause of thanksgiving. We can reasonably hope and believe that we are nearer the goal now than at any time since the great war.

April 24, 2017

1945. Yokohama in Ruins

Desolation in Postwar Japan
"Japan's Emperor Hirohito in Yokohama during his first visit to see living conditions in the country since the end of the war, February 1946" (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt - source)
Associated Press dispatch printed in the Hagerstown Daily Mail, August 30, 1945, pp. 1-2:
Yokohama Found Smashed To Bits
Japs Docile While Living Under Most Trying Conditions
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 30 (AP) — The trip to Yokohama by American troops of the 11th Airborne Division, who landed with General MacArthur at Atsugi airfield, was made in Japanese trucks and cars with Japanese soldier drivers, Bill Downs, CBS correspondent, reported today.

The dusty road between Atsugi and Yokohama, Downs said, was guarded by Japanese marines and sailors. Every hundred yards or so guards stood, backs to the road facing the fields and villages. It was explained that to the Japanese, the back facing sentinels were a mark of great respect as a common Japanese soldier does not stare at his betters.

The officers along the road saluted smartly as the Americans passed and their salutes were returned as smartly.

The people of Yokohama and the villages through which the party passed showed no emotion at all. They peeped from windows and stared with blank emotionless faces.

"As we drove into Yokohama," Downs said, "we saw at close hand the terrible effect of the bombing of this major seaport.

"The greater port of this city of more than a million has been reduced to a shanty town. Most of the people are living in makeshift shacks built of rusted, corrugated iron. Others had overturned great vats, boarding up the open ends, and are living in them.

"Some are living in caves, and still others have put lengths of sewer pipe together and sleep in them on straw. They do their cooking over open fires."

A few modern buildings which still are intact are being cleaned up by the Japanese to be turned over to Allied administrators and military commanders.

Frederick B. Opper, ABC correspondent, who likewise made the trip from Atsugi to Yokohama, reported similar conditions, saying, "the heart of Japan's greatest seaport city is smashed and desolate beyond recognition . . . It was burned to rubbish. In fact, a B-29 crew member who had participated in the raids on Yokohama whistled in disbelief as he saw what he and other airmen had done. Yokohama was an incendiary target and acres of the heart of the city are no more."

Opper reported the Japanese he saw seemed more bewildered and curious than angry. Japanese women seemed universally to have adopted baggy trousers in place of kimonos while all men were in some uniform or other.

"I was unable to talk to many Japs," Opper said, "although the few I engaged in conversation told me they were sick of the war, frightened out of their wits by the might of American air power."

April 23, 2017

1949. A Possible Price for Settlement of Europe's Postwar Problems

The Friction That Has Divided the World
A large portrait of Stalin looms over Unter den Linden in Berlin, June 3, 1945 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 6, 1949

Rumors of peace in the East-West Cold War are circulating in Germany today. Rumors say that Joseph Stalin has transmitted to the Western Powers Russia's price for settlement of Europe's postwar problems and an end to the friction that has divided the world.

West Berlin newspapers are basing their speculation on the forthcoming meeting of the American, British, and French foreign ministers in Paris this week—and on the projected meeting between Secretary of State Acheson and Russia's Andrey Vyshinsky.

According to unconfirmed reports published here, the Kremlin is promising a worldwide modus vivendi between the East and West in exchange for economic assistance to the Soviet Union and the nations in the Communist sphere of influence.

This is not the first time that such rumors have originated in this worried city. They appear at practically every major international conference. However, at the last Paris meeting this spring, the peace rumors were borne out; for out of that conference came the modus vivendi agreement on Berlin.

The East German Communist government has joined the chorus of the faithful, and today leaders of the new puppet administration have sent their notes of congratulation to Moscow on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It has been a weekend of receptions in East Berlin to demonstrate the new German-Soviet friendship. Ceremonies will continue through tomorrow, and the Communist-directed Radio Berlin will carry an unprecedented program: a broadcast of the military demonstration from Red Square in Moscow.

One of the problems facing the East and West German governments has been what to do about a national anthem. No one wants the old "Deutschland über Alles." Well, today the Communist state has solved the problem by publishing a new national hymn.

Its composer is Hanns Eisler, brother of Gerhard, the fugitive Communist. Eisler formerly composed film music for Hollywood.

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

April 22, 2017

1942. "Hitler Drives 3 Million from Their Homes"

The Enslavement of Europe
Labor office staff register the forced laborers at a transit camp in December 1942 (source)
Report printed in the Kansas City Kansan:
Hitler Drives 3 Million from Their Homes
"Master Plan" to Enslave Europe's Peoples Launched in Effort to Make Impossible any Internal Assistance to Second Front Invasion
United Press Staff Correspondent

London. — (UP) Adolf Hitler has launched a "master plan" to break the resistance of occupied Europe by deporting hundreds of thousands of enslaved peoples from their homelands, a United Press survey of information reaching refugee governments indicated today.

The primary purpose, of course, is to undermine and weaken the available help to an Allied second front army.

The refugee governments estimated that at least 3 million persons already had been deported from their homelands, most of them to Germany, and that thousands are being carted off daily from Holland, Belgium, France, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Denmark, and Greece.

In recent weeks the Germans were said to have accelerated the enforced migration as resistance and sabotage increased, and Nazi fears mounted that the Allies would open a second front soon.

A secondary purpose, it was believed, was to provide slave labor for Nazi war factories for construction gangs hastily erecting fortifications.

One refugee spokesman was confident that Hitler planned to take all the men from the troublesome areas and perhaps all the Jewish men, women, and children from Western Europe.

Denuding the troublesome or potentially troublesome areas of all their men would uproot potential leaders and paralyze further organized resistance.

Apparently Holland, which has been carrying on underground warfare almost continuously since the occupation, is to feel the most powerful effects of Hitler's master plan which reportedly involves the transportation of 3 million Dutch away from Netherlands, practically all of them males between the ages of 16 and 60.

April 21, 2017

1943. Joseph Stalin Hosts Top Dignitaries at the Kremlin

Toasts to the Future of the "Big Three" Alliance
The "Big Three" leaders Joseph Stalin,  at the Russian embassy during the Tehran Conference, December 1943
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

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

CBS Moscow

May 24, 1943

There were no essential changes last night on the Russian front. This morning's communiqué again mentions large German concentrations at Sevsk, about seventy-five miles west of Kursk. (Since the first of this month, the Russian communiqués have been carrying regular reports from what is called "the district of Sevsk." These reports tell of scouting operations by opposing reconnaissance groups. Last week Russian scouts located a big concentration of German tanks, and these were shelled. This morning the communiqué speaks of a big enemy infantry column near Sevsk.) When Red Army scouts discovered the column, the artillery opened up on it. Two German battalions were dispersed and partly wiped out. The district of Sevsk is a good one to keep an eye on.

Joe Stalin gave a banquet for Joe Davies at the Kremlin last night. (As a result, almost everyone who attended is just a little under the weather this morning. A Russian banquet is full of good spirits—a lot of which come out of a vodka glass.)

This morning I talked with some of the men who attended, and they said that everyone, including Stalin, enjoyed himself. The banquet was attended by the British ambassador and military missions as well as the American diplomatic and military representatives in this country.

Besides Mr. Stalin, the Russian dignitaries at the dinner included Mr. Molotov and three of the Soviet Union's most eminent military leaders—Marshal Voroshilov; Marshal Novikov, chief of the Red Army's air forces; General Golikov, who led the Red Army's drive at Voronezh last winter; and Admiral Kuznetzov, head of the Russian fleet.

The banquet was held in the Catherine the Great room at the Kremlin, a big white marble banquet hall lighted by shining rock-crystal chandeliers. The principal guests were seated at a long table, with Stalin seated in the center. Mr. Davies was on his right, and the British ambassador, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, sat on his left. Across the table directly opposite Stalin sat Mr. Molotov and Admiral Standley, the American ambassador.

There were eighteen toasts drank last night—Stalin did his—toasting in red wine, although most of the guests stuck to vodka.

Stalin made only one toast last night, and it was a good one. He lifted his glass and simply said: "To the armed forces of America and Britain."

Then General Mike Michaelis, the American military attaché here in Moscow—and a good guy—acting in his capacity as representative of the United States Army, lifted his glass and said "to the Red Army."

At this Stalin got out of his chair and walked several steps to the General and clicked glasses with him. It was the only such gesture that the Russian Premier made all evening.

Then Admiral Standley made what is regarded as the most significant toast of the evening. America's white-haired ambassador got to his feet and said: "Here's to the friendship and cooperation of the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States after the war."

After Admiral Standley sat down, the British ambassador immediately got to his feet and seconded the Admiral's toast with another, drinking to the mutual two-way cooperation among the governments.

Stalin clicked glasses with the ambassadors, both of whom were sitting near him, (to signify he understood the meaning of Admiral Standley's "two-way cooperation" toast.)

April 20, 2017

1944. "Nazi Bombers Hit Eindhoven" by Walter Cronkite

Liberation Celebration Cut Short
"A convoy of Allied lorries under enemy artillery and mortar fire on the road between Son and Eindhoven, Holland," September 20, 1944 (source)
Bill Downs and Walter Cronkite were trapped during a Nazi air raid on Eindhoven in the Netherlands in September 1944.

From the Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 22, 1944, p. 5:

Liberation Celebration Cut Short by Raid


Eindhoven, Holland, Sept. 20 — (Delayed) — (U.P.) This debris-littered town of 100,000, whose celebration of liberation by the allies was cut short by a German air raid, dug out Wednesday after its worst beating of the war—but still believing the price of freedom was not too high.

Sixty-five of the inhabitants were killed, 150 wounded seriously, and damage was estimated in millions of dollars.

Site of an important radio works, Eindhoven had known air raids before, both Germans and allied. None matched the one Tuesday night for suddenness and savagery.

Thirty minutes before the raid, crowds were cheering American and British soldiers who entered the town Monday afternoon.

Dutch flags which had been brought out of hiding after 4 years to fly for 24 gay, care-free hours along with bunting in bedecked streets, hung in burned shreds Wednesday from charred poles.

Streets where children had danced to accordion music, where crowds jammed around American traffic vehicles so thickly that traffic was halted were strewn with glass, brick, stone, and cherished possessions.

The anticlimax to the celebration came between 7 and 8 p.m.

A rumor, one that had been smouldering all afternoon, spread through the hilarious crowds that a German armored column was moving to counter-attack the town. The number of tanks grew in the telling from 3 to 117.

Actually some tanks did get through to within shelling distance of the main armored corridor and dropped a few rounds near a road north of here before they were eliminated.

As the rumors mounted, army quarters took them seriously and part of the troops were evacuated.

I was dining with Bill Downs of CBS at a hotel near the center of the city when I first noted panicky civilians outside running toward their homes. Then we learned part of the army had been ordered out and we started for headquarters.

We drove through an almost deserted city. From some of the windows the Dutch, fearful of German return, had removed flags and pictures of Queen Wilhelmina.

Most of the American and British troops seemed to be gone. A few civilians stood wonderingly before houses. They no longer cheered nor wore the carnival hats and funny false noses of a short while ago.

Just before we reached headquarters a lone German twin-engined bomber dropped orange, yellow and green flares.

The town was without air raid shelters so we sped toward the open country. We got only as far as the town park before the first bombers arrived.

We lay on the ground while the bombs ringed us and explosions within 100 feet showered us with twigs, branches and dirt. Shrapnel clipped through the leaves above. Ammunition exploded in deafening bursts followed by the eerie scream of the shrapnel whistling overhead.

Eindhoven was paying the fiddler.

Wednesday cheerfulness was returning to the town. As the allies pushed on toward the front, the inhabitants took time to look up from their brooms and shovels, smile and shout "hello."

April 19, 2017

1944. CBS War Correspondents Prepare for D-Day

Reporters Cover the War on All Fronts
Edward R. Murrow's D-Day team in London on June 1, 1944. Clockwise from top left: Larry LeSueur, Edward R. Murrow, Richard C. Hottelet, Bill Shadel, Charles Shaw, Gene Ryder, Charles Collingwood, Bill Downs
From the Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 29, 1944:
15 Seasoned CBS Correspondents Stationed Abroad Poised for D-Day
Men on All Fronts for News Breaks

As D-Day draws near and Allied air forces step up their pounding of the continent, American radio listeners are kept posted by a top-notch corps of correspondents stationed in the strategic battle areas.

On battle fronts throughout the world, the Columbia Broadcasting System has 15 full-time correspondents reporting regularly. Nearly a score of other experienced newsmen stand ready to broadcast to KGLO and other CBS listeners from neutral capitals whenever an important story breaks.

Into the newsroom of CBS headquarters in New York pours a swift stream of accurate reports—aggregating 118,000 words a day—from sources all over the world—which are edited and broadcast to CBS listeners from coast to coast at frequent intervals, day and night.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, up-to-the-minute bulletins and detailed stories are flashed by 13 press association teletype machines, recorded by the CBS shortwave listening station, and cabled or radioed by CBS correspondents around the world. The shortwave listening station alone, with 8 expert linguists on the job, transcribes about 20,000 words daily in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.

The CBS New York news staff daily condenses these 118,000 words (approximately 2 full-sized novels) into about 22,000 words to make up its numerous regular daily news broadcasts.

Twice each day, and more frequently when occasion warrants, CBS correspondents are heard from widely scattered points around the world.

In England alone, CBS has a staff of 7 crack reporters, headed by Edward R. Murrow, ready to bring the on-the-spot story of the invasion. For months these correspondents have been waiting, watching, and reporting the colossal task of preparing for D-Day.

On other fronts, CBS correspondents are in the thick of fighting. They live in fox holes, they eat army rations, they rub shoulders with generals and non-commissioned men and they report what they see and what they hear to the people back home.

Farnsworth Fowle, for example, landed with the troops at Salerno, stayed with them as they advanced up the Italian mainland, and was the first correspondent to broadcast to America from Naples over the Allied-constructed station.

Many CBS reporters are familiar with more than one battle front and thus have an overall picture of the global war and an insight into the domestic problems of more than one people.

Eric Sevareid is at present broadcasting from Italy, but last year he covered the China-Burma-India front. It was there he almost lost his life when he and 19 others bailed out of their Chungking-bound transport planes over the Burma jungles.

George Moorad, now heard from Cairo and Ankara, was for many years a newspaperman in Shanghai and knows the Chinese-Japanese political situation as well as he does the present complicated problems of the Near East. Less than a year ago, Moorad was with General Douglas MacArthur's staff in Australia.

Ed Murrow's multitudinous duties as chief of CBS' European staff have kept him close to his base in London the past 2 years, but he has found time to accompany raiding missions over Europe. Last December, for instance, he rode a bomber in a raid on Berlin in which 2 of 5 correspondents failed to return. His report of that spectacular mission is one of the most graphic and thrilling accounts ever recorded, especially his description of the melee of flares and flak, bursting bombs and smoke which he termed an "orchestrated hell."

On Murrow's invasion staff are 6 other seasoned newsmen. Charles Collingwood followed close on Rommel's heels across Africa and kept CBS listeners informed on the rout of the Nazis from Africa. He was the first to report Darlan's assassination in December of '42 when he gave the first eye-witness account of the Allies' entrance into Tunis.

Larry LeSueur and Bill Downs of CBS' London staff are both experts on Russia. LeSueur lived in Russia during the dark days of retreat and witnessed the battle of Moscow and the siege of Stalingrad, while Downs reported the great Russian victories of last year.

Dick Hottelet, another of Murrow's men, knows the inside, as well as the outside of Germany—for he was held incommunicado by the Gestapo for several months, before we entered the war. Charles Shaw of the London staff is also an accomplished newsman and was one of a group of American editors invited by the British Ministry of Information to tour the United Kingdom last summer. Gene Ryder, newest London staff member, is a former technician of the CBS New York field engineering department.

From other European points, CBS correspondents come in regularly with their reports. Winston Burdett knows the African scene from Cairo to Casablanca; Howard K. Smith, whose best seller "Last Train From Berlin" describes Germany during the crucial months before Pearl Harbor, has a ringside seat in Bern, and James Fleming is reporting those brilliant Russian gains as the Red Army crashes into Hitler's Fortress Europa.

Over the Pacific area, Bill Dunn keeps CBS listeners informed on our progress against the Japs. He accompanies the troops on new landings whenever possible. Another CBS correspondent in the Pacific is Webley Edwards. He has covered the Pacific operations from Pearl Harbor and reports from headquarters in Honolulu.

The task of coordinating world-wide news roundups, frequently complicated by technical problems, falls upon the shoulders of Paul White, CBS Director of News Broadcasts.

In constant contact with his men all over the globe, he keeps his finger on the pulsating stream of world news, ever ready to call in correspondents from wherever news has just been broken or dispatch them to wherever he thinks it is in the making and will break next.

April 18, 2017

1943. The Diplomatic Front in Russia

The Allies Ramp Up Diplomacy
Sailors aboard the Soviet destroyer Zheleznyakov of the Black Sea Fleet watch the fighting in Novorossiysk, September 16, 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

May 16, 1943

The Russian front continues to simmer today like a gigantic pot of military stew. It spills over here and there, and you have some fighting such as in the Kuban last night or along the Donets River line.

(The Kuban fighting has slackened considerably in the past few days. Northeast of Novorossiysk the Germans have been trying to take the initiative but without much success. On the lower Kuban River delta the Red Army is still moving.)

(Last night the Soviet air force again hit two important railroad junctions in the German rear southwest of Moscow. The cities of Gomel and Orel caught it last night, and Russian airmen report heavy damage to the railroad tracks, rolling stock, and military equipment rolling from Germany to the east.)

Yes, the Russian front continues to simmer. But the temperature is rising, and there is every indication that it will boil over at any moment.

In these times, soldiers make more news than diplomats. However, despite what armies do, it is the diplomats in Russia who now have the job of seeing that our military alliance with the Soviet Union extends beyond an understanding between armies to an understanding between peoples.

I thought you would be interested in knowing just what kind of men are handling this vitally important task for America and Britain.

America's ambassador, Admiral Standley, who made some headlines of his own a few weeks ago, is still more of a sailor than a diplomat. And this fact alone has made him a success in this country. When he entertains Russian officials at the palatial ambassadorial residence here in Moscow, he starts off by telling them "Mighty glad to have you aboard." The Ambassador thinks in terms of Navy commands, and he runs his office over here like he once ran battleships. It's not a bad way to operate in this country.

The British ambassador, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, is just the opposite. He's the Anthony Eden-type of diplomat and recognized as one of the most capable men in the British foreign service. He's an expert on protocol and knows his diplomatic routine backward and forward. He's probably one of the best-dressed men in the world. He has given the Russians what they expect to find in the best type of diplomat, and his success with Soviet officials is due to this fact.

As the war approaches a climax and as victory becomes more and more of a reality, these two men are going to have more and more to do here in Moscow. There already are indications that the diplomatic front here in Russia is becoming more active.

The latest development to watch is the arrival from America of former ambassador Joseph Davies. The Russian press has not yet printed the fact that Mr. Davies is en route to Russia as a special envoy of President Roosevelt. (Mr. Davies' trip to this country right now is the big diplomatic mystery in Moscow.) Some indication as to the purpose of his trip should be given when he is expected to arrive.

April 17, 2017

The New York Times in 1923: "Hitler New Power in Germany"

Reports of Growing Fascist Movement in Bavaria
Adolf Hitler does a dramatic pose while listening to a recording of his own speeches as part of a photo op with photographer Heinrich Hoffmann in 1925. Hitler found the photos embarrassing and ordered Hoffmann to destroy the negatives (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy and Germany prior to World War II. It is one of the earliest mentions of Hitler and the Bavarian fascist movement in The New York Times.

From The New York Times, January 21, 1923:
Adolph Hitler, the Austrian-born, leader of the so-called Bavarian Fascisti, figured largely in cabled reports of the activities of the bands counted as the latest enemies of the German Government. How Hitler's eloquence impressed the Munich correspondent of the conservative Kölnische Zeitung is shown by the following excerpt from his account of a Hitler meeting:

"I look around at my neighbors. At my left sits an old aristocrat, a General in the World War. At my right, in the working clothes of the Eastern suburbs of Munich, a man whose honest eyes alone redeem his desperate face. Only after the meeting warms up does he tell me that up to a short time ago he was a convinced Communist, and that only through Hitler has he learned to feel himself a German.

"Suddenly every one jumps up and a roar of applause sweeps through the big hall. Upon the speakers' platform steps a simple, modest looking, slender man of medium height who seems underfed and overworked. He is in the later thirties. His voice certainly is not unpleasant, but neither is it exactly fascinating.

"At the almost bland beginning of his address I think: 'Why these views surely could be approved by Ebert and Wirth, as well as by Stresemann or Hergt.' But gradually one is gripped as much by his strictly logical construction as by what one may almost call the overpowering strength of conviction. Although the man seems to be in a fever of enthusiasm he remains outwardly calm and restrained and uses none of those clownish tricks with which, in the days of Soviet rule, Levien, Leviné, Eisner and other popular speakers delighted to amuse their hearers.

"In astonishment I note that the condescending look of the old General on my left is gradually making way for an expression of wrapt attention. 'What a remarkable range of knowledge and technical learning!' he whispers in my ear. And later, as the accusation of complicity in Germany's want and misery is presented with almost crushing force, 'How fearfully excited the man must be, despite his external calm; he can't have a dry thread on his body!' My neighbor on the right, the Communist, no longer merely claps his hands in applause; in his eyes I think I see tears, and at every slight pause in the speaker's address he roars approval with all his might. In fact, in spite of the speaker's moderate tone, a very hurricane of elemental passion seems to be sweeping down upon the audience.

"So it is no wonder, then, that when Hitler, after having spoken two and a half hours, ends to a terrific storm of applause, the General and the Communist walk fraternally to a table to enroll as members of the National Socialist Party. Everywhere there are flashing eyes and exalted spirits. Youthful forms, although showing signs of semi-starvation, brace up proudly. 'Yes, yes, there still lives in us, thank God, a little of the old Germanism, despite all the corruption,' a lady of my acquaintance calls to me as we go out. And a professor remarks, 'No college instructor can excel this man in the unshakable logic of his construction or in his powers of conviction.'

"We are met with howls of rage from Hitler's enemies when we reach the street, but they are soon silenced by one of his patrols."

April 16, 2017

1948. The Schism of Berlin Nearly Complete

East Berlin Communists Warn of Disaster
The Brandenburg Gate surrounded by the newly-constructed Berlin Wall, November 19, 1961 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 22, 1948

In just two weeks from today the blockaded Western sectors of Berlin will hold an election to choose representatives to the city assembly. And the way events are shaping up here, it probably will be one of the strangest elections ever held anywhere.

In many ways, Premier Joseph Stalin and President Harry Truman are running in these elections as much as the candidates of the Christian Democratic, Socialist, and Liberal parties here.

The Soviet military government has denounced the elections as illegal, although the British, American, and French authorities have declared them valid. The Communists in the Eastern sector warn of dire consequences to anyone who participates in the voting. The American commandant has countered this with assurance that no breach of the peace will be permitted on election day.

But it now appears that after December 5, Berlin will in reality become two cities. New identification cards will be issued to East Berliners, which mean that people living in the blockaded sectors will travel in the Soviet sector at their own risk.

In other words, West Berlin would be a separate city of about 2.5 million people—East Berlin would be a smaller city of about one million.

The Communists have warned that a complete schism between Eastern and Western Berlin will cause a breakdown in the transportation system, would cut off water and electricity from several districts, and would disrupt the telephone, telegraph, and mail system. And most importantly it would cause disruption in the city sewage system which offers a widespread threat of disease.

The average Berliner is taking this latest series of threats and cajoling pretty calmly.

An indignant working man who works in the Russian sector but lives in the Western part of the city told me the other day: "What does it matter? When I leave work and take the elevated to my home I buy a Rundschau"—the Russian paper—"I can read that until I get to Potsdamer Platz, then I have to go outside and buy a Tagesspiel or one of the Western papers, and I read that. It's a little ridiculous."

He shook his head and added, "It also is very serious."

The situation looks like it will become more serious after December 5.

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

April 15, 2017

1942. Soviet Forces Push Back Around Leningrad

Bitter Struggle in the North
Soviet soldiers during a German attack near Murmansk, August 20, 1942 (Photo by Yevgeny Khaldei - source)
Reports printed in the Kansas City Kansan in 1942:

Red Cavalry Successes Are Claimed
Deep Thrust in German Lines Around Leningrad Kills 9,000, Moscow Says
United Press Staff Correspondent
London. — (UP) Dispatches from the Russian front indicated today that Soviet cavalry divisions have killed 9,000 of the enemy in nine days.

In heavy fighting on the Kalinin front, the streets of the village were left littered with the bodies of 900 Nazi dead, a Russian communiqué said.

(The British radio recorded by the Columbia Broadcasting System said that several new Russian armored divisions entirely equipped with United States and British tanks supported by squadrons of American-made and British-made planes are ready for action. A Stockholm report broadcast by the British radio said the new Russian tank forces had been landed on the Kerch Peninsula in the Crimea, shipped from the Caucasus port of Novorossiysk.)

While arriving spring slowed infantry, it enlarged the battle in the air.

The Soviet communiqué said the Germans had lost 322 planes between April 5 and 11, and 1,103 from March 11 to April 11. From April 5 to April 11, the Russians lost sixty-seven aircraft; from March 11 to April 11, they lost 314.
Battle Looms for Arctic Russian Port
United Press Staff Correspondent

London. — (UP) One of the most important battles of the war, for Russia's important port of Murmansk, appeared to be developing today as Soviet forces pushed the Germans back around Leningrad and through the suburbs of Stalino in the far south.

Well-informed London quarters said German air attacks on Murmansk probably were the start of a land, sea, and air drive against it.

In recent weeks, deliveries of American lend-lease supplies to Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and other far northern ports have increased to such an extent that the Germans are believed to be highly alarmed.

In regards to the Soviet offensive, radio Moscow reported that after two days of heavy fighting the Russians had advanced eight miles along the Leningrad front and thrown the Germans out of four more populated places.

Around Staraya Russa the Russians were reported annihilating what was left of the encircled German 16th army with big guns and bombing planes. Marshal Semyon Timoshenko's forces were said to be pushing the Germans through the suburbs of Stalino into the heart of the city, while heavy artillery shelled German supply lines west of Stalino.

There was evidence that the Russians had their own plans for an Arctic offensive.

Red Arctic Drive Blasts Nazis' Plans
Land, Sea and Air Offensive in Rear of German Lines Nips Move to Seize Murmansk and Cut Allied Line of Supply to Russia
United Press Staff Correspondent

London. — (UP) A Russian surprise attack 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle was believed today to have dashed German plans for a spring offensive against Murmansk at the moment they were to have been executed.

Soviet shock troops, landed behind the German lines in a spectacular land, sea, and air operation, were fighting fiercely along the Gulf of Motovski near the Rybachiy Peninsula off the northwestern coast of Russia, the London News Chronicle reported from Stockholm.

The German mass air attack on Murmansk Wednesday was understood to have been the tip-off to the Russians that the Germans were ready to begin their offensive to cut the Barents Sea route for Allied supplies.

German preparations for the attack included the concentration of picked paratroops, at least part of whom had taken part in the capture of Crete.

The first phase of the German attack, it was understood, was to have been the gaining of air superiority over Murmansk. It failed because the Russians knocked down thirteen of their planes in one day. Immediately the Russians began their own offensive.

They set out into the Arctic in warships, Stockholm dispatches said, and under an umbrella of Stormovik bombers and British Hurricane fighter planes, tore into the rear of the German lines, catching the enemy by surprise, blowing up ammunition dumps and bridges and creating general havoc.

April 14, 2017

1948. West Berlin Holds Elections as Risk of War Looms

West Berliners Go to the Polls
"German painters mark British-Russian border line at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin," August 21, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 4, 1948

The American people are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each month to supply some 2.5 million people in the blockaded sectors of Berlin.

In accomplishing this, thousands of Americans have been assigned to duty in Germany from Japan, Alaska, Honolulu, and elsewhere in the United States. Of this number—and it also includes the British—more than a score of men have died in flying the Berlin airlift.

It costs about $250 to fly every ton of coal that comes over the Russian blockade, and that much for every ton of food and medicine and other supplies needed to keep this isolated community alive.

The question is: Why?

Tomorrow at eight o'clock in the morning, Western Berliners will begin voting in some 1,462 polling places in the American, British, and French sectors of the city.

As in America, the Western Berliners will do their voting in schools, public buildings, and business places—for some reason, restaurants are great favorites as voting sites in this city. The Western Berliner will go to his polling place, identify himself, and have his name checked off the registration list. Then he will go into a booth, draw a canvas curtain behind him, and make his marks on the ballot opposite the names of the candidates he favors.

It probably doesn't sound like much, listening to this in America. We perform this simple operation somewhere in the United States every year. But against the background of this bifurcated, bedeviled, berated city of Berlin, the act of the individual citizen casting his free vote in secret to choose the kind of government he prefers, without fear of intimidation, is truly an important event.

This is the real reason that there is a Berlin crisis. This is the reason that there is an airlift. The fact that the Western Powers are keeping a city of some 2.5 million people alive at great expense is done so that a mildly hungry adult in patched clothing—the Berliner—can cast a free vote.

At this moment, the insistence of America, Britain, and France to extend this privilege to a conquered people is the reason that we are risking war to maintain what we believe to be the basic requirement for a peaceful world—political and individual freedom.

And make no mistake about it. The risk of war is here.

The Communist Party is boycotting the election, backed by a Soviet military government decision that the elections are illegal.

In the view of the American, British, and French military governors, they most certainly are not illegal. As documentary evidence, the Western Powers point to the provisional constitution of the city of Berlin—signed, incidentally, by all four occupation powers—which was adopted two years ago. This agreement between the occupation powers and the Berlin city government provides that city elections will be held every two years. The original date already has passed. The two year deadline was last October 20. The voting was delayed because the Russian military government did not give a definite reply to a request to hold citywide elections, and the Berlin city assembly decided to go ahead with the voting without a reply from the Soviet commandant.

You know what happened. When the election date was set—two months late—the Russian occupation leaders finally acted. They called the elections illegal, charged that they were undemocratic, and ordered that no elections would be held in the Soviet sector of the city. The Communist Party, having finally received its directive, announced a boycott of the voting and has since been threatening reprisals against Western city officials and all others who participate.

The climax of this anti-election campaign came last Tuesday when the Communist-led faction of the city government, the Communist-dominated parties and trade unions, and various East-sector "cultural organizations" arbitrarily selected delegates to a rump assembly in the State Opera House, arbitrarily voted the elected assembly out of existence, and then proceeded to appoint a new "temporary" city government for what it calls "the whole of Berlin." The voting was unanimous, as it always has been since the politburo took over things in Russia and Adolf Hitler made his successful putsch in 1933.

The so-called "Democratic Bloc of Berlin" then called a spontaneous mass meeting on Unter den Linden, a mass meeting so spontaneous that the big job fell to party members who had to check off the names of workers who were ordered to quit their jobs and attend a rally.

The East-sector magistrate says that it has appointed itself as only a temporary city government—that it will hold city elections too, sometime in the near future. Presumably they will be just about as democratic as the selection of what is now becoming known as the "Opera House government" appointed arbitrarily last Tuesday.

So, despite these objections and the ouster of the city government from the Russian sector of the city, Western Berlin has an election on its hands tomorrow.

Since the Communists are boycotting the elections, the Western Berlin voter will make his selection from candidates presented by three political parties. Reading from right to left, they are: the Liberal Democratic Party, the most conservative; the Christian Democratic Union, a middle-of-the-road party with large church and middle class support; and finally, the Social Democratic Party, the farthest left of the political organizations and generally referred to as the Socialists.

Ordinarily in citywide elections, 130 seats to the Berlin assembly would be elected. However, with the Russian sector boycott on, only 98 seats will be contested. Close to 400 candidates are vying for these offices which are apportioned in the twelve Berlin districts concerned according to population.

In the last citywide election in 1946, the Socialist Party emerged the strongest, taking 48 percent of the vote. The Christian Democrats were next with 22 percent. The Communists had about 20 percent of the vote, and the right-wing Liberal Democrats got only 10 percent. All in all, the anti-Communist parties voted 80 percent of Berlin, and it is now charged that the Communist party officials did not want to go into these elections on Sunday for fear of showing a drastic loss of even their 20 percent minority.

Throughout the blockaded sectors of this city you can see the party campaign posters making their claims for victory. Often they are obscured or torn down by the "activists" from the Soviet sector of Berlin which have been making forays on the sign-posts, tearing down Socialist and other anti-Communist party placards and posting warnings of their own not to vote in tomorrow's elections.

The right-wing Liberal Democratic Party is charged with being the "capitalist party of Berlin." It has attempted to overcome this attack by proving that more than half of the Liberal Democrats are working men. But it is in fact the most conservative of any entered in the ballots. Its chairman is a 42-year-old engineer, Carl-Hubert Schwennicke, and the Liberal Democratic leadership includes a manufacturer, a couple of political economists, university professors, doctors, and judges.

The Liberal Democrats hope to gain votes on the anti-Communist feeling that has arisen in the past few weeks. Schwennicke claims that 95 percent of the Berlin population would vote against the Communists in free, citywide elections. But foreign political experts predict that the Liberal Democrats will still be the weakest political party in Berlin after the elections are over.

The Liberal Democrats are appealing for votes on a program that demands the "safeguarding of private property," a nonpartisan city administration, and free private enterprise. It opposes bureaucracy and socialization.

The middle-of-the-road party participating in tomorrow's elections is the Christian Democrats. Unofficially, the American occupation authorities have given the nod to the Christian Democratic Union here, although it is strictly an unofficial gesture. Like the Liberal Democrats, the CDU hopes to gain votes on the reaction against Communism. It hopes to cut into the majority of the Socialists on the theory that anything left-wing is too close to Marxism to be comfortable these days.

The CDU, with certain exceptions, is the closest thing that Berlin has to the traditional American political party—that is, in the things it stands for. The Christian Democrats are not socialistic, but they approve of things like job insurance, national pensions, and the like. In other words, to make an unbalanced comparison, the CDU would like to institute social reforms and at the same time maintain the traditional economic structure of the country. Their opponents declare that this is impossible; that you cannot have your economic cake and eat it without destroying the political frosting.

American military government political experts with whom I have talked say they expect the Socialists to gain even more seats at this next election than they did at the last. No one will make a prediction—since predicting elections went out of style last November in America—but the hardworking Socialists with their down-to-earth appeal to the common people seem to have the edge, at least 24 hours before the voting begins.

The Socialists are campaigning on a ten-point economic program that includes socialist organization of commerce, trade, and industry, and for free determination of ownership of property. They are against the private ownership of heavy industry, but at the same time are against state capitalism. They stand for socialization of basic industries, transportation, and financial institutions. The Socialists make a point of opposing the Communist state monopolies which are being established in the Eastern part of the country.

The missing factor in tomorrow's elections of course will be the Communist vote. In this sense, the election will be incomplete. The inference of course is that the Communists did not dare risk their unpopularity in a free election.

However, in no balloting probably in the history of the world has the judgment of results depended so much upon the people who do not vote. There are more than 1.5 million registered voters in the American, British, and French sectors eligible to vote tomorrow.

A campaign of intimidation is now underway by the Communist-dominated action groups from the Russian sector. There are rumors that gangs may try to seize the ballot boxes tomorrow. So, without Communist opposition on the ballot, the Western Powers are looking to the size of the vote for confirmation and support of the policies of the British, American, and French governments.

As in all elections, weather will play a part. But given a good day, it is predicted by some experts that between 85 and 90 percent of the vote will find its way to the ballot boxes tomorrow. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, but in the face of these Communist threats, the people of the blockaded sectors of this city have an opportunity to express themselves.

The really strange thing about tomorrow's Berlin elections is this. The men who are running—symbolically at least—do not even have their names on the ballot.

In more ways than one, the Berlin elections are a contest between Joseph Stalin and Harry Truman. Joe doesn't choose to run here right now. Harry just won one campaign and looks like winning another in absentia tomorrow in Berlin.

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

April 13, 2017

1934. The Fascist Plan for Great Britain

Oswald Mosley Declares Plans for Fascist Britain
Two blackshirts guard the "Black House," the headquarters of the British Union of Fascists in London, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy and Germany prior to World War II. In 1932 Oswald Mosley founded the British Union of Fascists, a political party which took heavy inspiration from the Nazis. Throughout the 1930s he and his party campaigned for a fascist Britain in the vein of Italy and Germany. Nazi officials considered Mosley a top candidate to lead the country as part of their planned invasion of the United Kingdom.

From The New York Times, April 24, 1934:
Fascists Plan Corporate State In Britain, Mosley Declares
'Violently Opposed to Economic Dictatorship of Bankers,' Leader Says—Seeks to Solve Underconsumption Problem by Raising Wages in Whole Field of Industry
The leader of the British Fascist movement, which gathered 10,000 Britons in a mass meeting in London Sunday night, tells here the aims and purpose of the movement. Sir Oswald, a wealthy aristocrat, was once a Socialist.


Fascism, the new political creed of Europe, has reached Great Britain. The great meeting which crowded Albert Hall, the largest public hall in London, definitely marked this new phase of British political development.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that Fascism in Great Britain must necessarily adopt the same form as under Mussolini in Italy or under Hitler in Germany. Fascism is a universal creed of patriotic reconstruction along modern lines and under the disciplined control of a powerful central government. It came to both Italy and Germany under the stress of a grave economic crisis and when those corrupt countries were trembling on the verge of communism.

Under such circumstances, its advent was inevitably accompanied by some degree of violence—but violence, it should be noted, far less than these countries would have suffered in a Red revolution.

Says People Want Fascism

Germany and Italy embraced Fascism because they had to. Great Britain turns to Fascism because her people want it.

The older political parties in Britain are completely discredited. It is barely two years since the Socialists (Laborites) were swept from office by a Nationalist landslide, but already the national government is covered with shame and ridicule and the pendulum is swinging back to the extreme Left.

The old political system is breaking up because the greater part of the electorate does not know to which of the old parties to turn. It cannot trust one of them. A huge mass of floating votes, amounting from ten to fifteen thousand in each constituency, is positively waiting for new political leadership. The Black Shirt movement is out to supply this leadership and rapidly gathering within its ranks the disillusioned members of all parties.

Our policy is one of action and we seek the complete restoration of British prosperity and prestige. The Black Shirts are determined to combat the flabby policy of surrender which is rapidly breaking up the British Empire.

Opposed to Bankers' Rule

In home affairs we are violently opposed to the economic dictatorship of the bankers and financiers in the City of London. We plan to set up a corporate State which will place every industry in the country under the direct control of a self-governing corporation, on which will sit representatives of employers, workers and consumers. These will fix by negotiation the rates of wages, hours of work and prices and terms of competition which will be legally binding for an industry as a whole.

These corporations will send representatives to a national council of corporations which will function as an industrial parliament. Here matters of general financial policy will be settled and the operations of the various industries controlled and regulated in the interests of the nation as a whole.

The Black Shirt movement recognizes that the problem of underconsumption is the major economic problem of the day and that it can be solved only by a general raising of wages and salaries over the whole field of industry, within the controlled system of the corporate State. This will increase purchasing power in the home market and enable industry to supply cheaply by mass production methods its output for an assured market.

By these means the Black Shirts intend to bring to an end the tyranny of the vested interests and the sham democracy of politics and to restore prosperity to Great Britain.

April 12, 2017

1948. Moscow Withdraws Recognition of Ernst Reuter

United Nations Negotiations Under Duress
Ernst Reuter speaks before a crowd protesting the occupation of Berlin, September 9, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 16, 1948

It's noisy in Berlin today. The airlift is working again after three dreary and quiet days of bad weather. A US Navy plane overshot a runway at Tempelhof last night. Four men were injured and the plane demolished. It is the first accident by the Navy, who joined the airlift only last week.

The new proposals in the United Nations have brought no official comment from military government officials here, but the surprise appeal by Secretary Trygve Lie and Australia's Evatt—followed by a three-point proposal by Argentina's Bramuglia—is not received here with much enthusiasm. The Western Power officials here feel somewhat like a wrestler whose opponent wants to negotiate while at the same time applying a stranglehold.

The attitude is that negotiation under duress—and that's the way the blockade is regarded—is just another word for appeasement.

Unless the situation changes suddenly, there is not much optimism here that anything will come out of the latest diplomatic moves in Paris. That is the reason that General Clay said yesterday that he had "no reason to believe that access to Berlin by rail and highway will be regained by Christmas."

Russian occupation authorities have moved against one of the most powerful and popular political leaders in Berlin. Soviet military government officials withdrew recognition of Professor Ernst Reuter as City Commissioner for Public Works, Utilities, and Transportation. Reuter is one of the leading members of the Socialist Party in Berlin and one of the most outspoken critics of Communism. He heads the Communist Party blacklist of politicians who will be held responsible, as the phrase goes.

It means that another step has been taken in what appears to be the inevitable establishment of separate Western and Eastern city governments for Berlin.

As it stands now, Berlin has only an acting mayor in the Western sectors, although Reuter would succeed to the job for all of the city if the Russians recognized him. There already are two commissioners for the police, two for food and health, two for labor, and now two for public works and transportation. They operate on opposite sides of the city.

Experts are predicting that the city finally will have two complete governments after the December 5 elections in the Western sectors. Soviet occupation authorities oppose it and no elections will be allowed in the Eastern zone.

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