December 31, 2016

World War III: "The Present" by Kathryn Morgan-Ryan

The Present
"He held out his own revolver to Reid. 'It is a little present to you from the Russians.'" Illustration by Louis S. Glanzman, Collier's magazine, October 27, 1951, p. 46
In 1951, Collier's magazine published a special issue entitled "Preview of the War We Do Not Want" speculating about a hypothetical World War III and what it might look like. The war begins in 1952 and ends in 1955 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by a UN occupation of Russia. A number of notable figures contributed fictional reports about the war and its history, including Edward R. Murrow, Hal Boyle, Walter Reuther, Marguerite Higgins, Walter Winchell, and Arthur Koestler.

This short story by writer Kathryn Morgan-Ryan tells of two opposing commanders, Soviet General Druzhinin and American Lieutenant General Reid, who met previously at the end of World War II and are now battling each other during World War III.

From Collier's magazine, October 27, 1951, p. 46:
The Present

By Kathryn Morgan-Ryan

The commanding general of the Third Army stood before the situation map in his war room. In front of him the intelligence officer's pointer swept over the red and black unit markers.

"The Fourth Armored has just about encircled General Druzhinin's division, sir. They've left this two-mile gap open. The Reds are pouring through it and our artillery is slaughtering them."

The general nodded and turned to his aide. "The Fourth seems to be starting some sort of tradition," he said. "They met Druzhinin's men in the last war. Only then they had a party together."

"I remember hearing something about it, sir."

The general nodded. "I heard something about it myself," he said. He looked over at his chief of staff. "How soon will the first elements of the Fourth reach Druzhinin's headquarters?"

"At the rate they're going, sir, in about an hour."

The general felt for a moment that it was a war ago and that he was carrying on a conversation with G-2 in Normandy. He had been a divisional commander then, and he remembered driving into Nazi headquarters after it was encircled by his troops. He had not been so detached from the actual fighting in that war and he remembered it briefly with a certain nostalgia.

The general was known to be a sentimental man, and he was also known to be crisp, courteous and unruffled. In his military career he had acquired a polish which rendered him quite unrecognizable from that raw young man from Wyoming who had received his gold lieutenant's bars at West Point thirty-six years before. Just for a minute, as he looked about him at the faces of his officers—several of them pulled from civilian life a few years before—the general felt a great temptation to say how much he wished they could return to being civilians again. He fervently wanted a peace for all the civilians of the world, including those he now fought against. In the meantime, he had to fight his small part of the war to the best of his ability, ruthlessly and hard.

He wondered how Druzhinin was bearing up under the retreat of his armies. He guessed defeat would be hard for Druzhinin to swallow, for his fame in this war was nearly equal to Rommel's in World War II. It ought to be particularly embarrassing for Druzhinin, the general decided, in view of the fact that a war ago Druzhinin had given a party for the Fourth Armored.

Motioning his aide to follow, the general led the way outside to his trailer caravan. There he pulled a battered foot-locker from under his cot, opened it, took out a leather shoulder holster and slowly buckled it on. "Let's get out there, Jim," he said to his aide. "I want to go in with the first elements to reach Druzhinin headquarters." . . .

The old house which General Druzhinin used as headquarters was quiet now. In the room upstairs with the massive fieldstone fireplace, he heard only the crackling of the fire.

He moved over to the fire, feeling the warmth of it begin to spread through his tunic, and threw a paper back among the logs. It was the last of his war maps and he observed with satisfaction that the room was empty of anything the Americans would find of interest, except, of course, himself.

Druzhinin thought about that for a minute, and his eyes held the same bleak, remote look he had seen on the faces of his soldiers in the past twenty days of the Fourth Armored bombardment. He thought briefly of his troops, who were running now, streaming through a gap left open by the Fourth Armored, a gap he felt sure would be covered by artillery and machine guns. Some of his troops would get out, but the bulk of them would be cut down. Druzhinin thought that if he had been in command of the Americans, he would have planned it that way.

When the third World War began, Druzhinin had gone into it with his usual confidence. The Politburo had foreseen a sweeping victory and the troops were seasoned and hard. Then came a few retreats, a falling back here and there, a sabotaged train, a partisan attack, and then the bombs and atomic artillery. Druzhinin had seen the handwriting on the walls. He thought he could have stood it if the victors had been any but the Americans.

He turned quickly in the quiet room, not wanting to think about it any more, and brought a chair up to the fire. He pulled out the .38 Colt automatic from its holster, sat down in the chair, and saw the light from the fire play over the surface of the gun. With a fresh pleasure he ran his thumb over the beautifully balanced butt and he thought of a girl at an embassy reception once who had touched the gun and asked, "And this, General, where did you get this?" "From the Americans," he replied, as though it were an unvalued thing. "That was given me by the Americans." He made it sound as if the gun were awarded him at some military presentation, but it had not happened in quite that way.

Druzhinin had met the Fourth Armored before—under happier circumstances—in Austria at the end of World War II. He had halted his division at the edge of a river, and on the far side the Fourth Armored had also stopped. Druzhinin decided to give a dinner for the Americans to celebrate the link-up of their two units. On the day of the reception he lined his personal troops on the road leading to his headquarters villa. Each Russian carried a tommy gun and they formed an arch for the cavalcade of American vehicles all the way to the villa. As the Americans entered the arch, Druzhinin's men began firing. He grinned now as he recalled the sudden burst of noise which caused the American drivers to swerve their wheels.

At the meal, he gave them seventeen courses, with vodka. The Americans could not take the pace, and most of them stopped drinking after the fifth course. Only the Fourth's one-star brigadier general, a West Pointer named Reid, continued to drink with Druzhinin. The affair built up quietly into a contest between the two generals. In the end, it was Druzhinin who won.

A week earlier, his interpreter had showed him a copy of Stars and Stripes which carried a photograph of the American general receiving a special .38 Colt automatic with mother-of-pearl stars on either side of the handle. At the meal, as Druzhinin sat beside the American, he had difficulty keeping his eyes from the gun. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and as the tension of the drinking contest increased, Druzhinin sought to hit back at this American who dared down drink for drink with him. He waited, biding his time, making small talk, and then suddenly, with a great display of largess, he pulled his own revolver from his holster and held it out to Reid. "It is a little present to you from the Russians," he said.

Along the tables, talk suddenly ceased. Druzhinin was aware that the Americans had turned in their chairs, that American and Russian faces alike wore looks of excitement. Reid put down his glass and took Druzhinin's gun. For an instant there was bewilderment on his face, and then suddenly he understood. He looked like a man on whom a joke has just been played, who is determined, in deference to good manners, to smile at himself. Then slowly he drew the Colt from his own shoulder holster and gave it to Druzhinin. "This, General, I give you in exchange." He spoke out so that everyone in the room could hear. "I would like to present it on behalf of all the Americans here."

When it was all over, Druzhinin remembered, he sat for a long time alone, thinking over the little scene. He did not see Reid again after the dinner, but he knew that for as long as they lived, two men would always remember the Austrian party.

He stared now at the dying fire. This time, he thought, when the Fourth Armored arrived it would not be for a party. However, he had no fears about the forthcoming meeting. He looked once more at the Colt. The star in the butt glinted in the firelight. Without hesitation, he raised the gun to his forehead and pulled the trigger.

When, only a short time later, they came through the door, the American general and his aide moved quickly up to Druzhinin. A staff sergeant bent over the body. "The medics won't earn any money here," he said.

Lieutenant General Reid, commander of the Third Army, reached out and took the gun from Druzhinin's clenched fingers. "Let's just call this a little present from the Russians," he said to his aide, and slipped the gun into his holster. — THE END

December 30, 2016

1928. Mussolini Rejects Democratic Rule

Mussolini Condemns Popular Sovereignty
Italian dictator Benito Mussolini speaks to a crowd at Pizza San Marco in Venice alongside a group of Black Shirts on June 15, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism.

From The New York Times, March 3, 1928:
Condemns Popular Sovereignty in Report Explaining New Electoral Bill
Measure Gives Fascista Council Control of All Nominations to Parliament
Premier Denies Intention of Abolishing Chamber Entirely or Setting Up an Oligarchy

ROME, March 2 — The principles on which popular sovereignty and representative government are generally thought to rest are condemned by Premier Mussolini in a report accompanying the new Fascista electoral bill distributed in the Chamber today.

By the system he proposes geographical representation is abolished and the voter's role is confined to approving or rejecting, without possibility of choice between individual men, a list of 800 candidates for Parliament, half of them named by the Fascist Grand Council and the other half nominated by the guilds or corporations into which Fascismo has organized Italian life.

Premier Mussolini denies, however, that he aims to abolish parliament or elections altogether.

He voices sharp criticism of the electoral system existing in other countries as antiquated and unsuitable to a modern nation. The fundamental defect of most electoral systems, says the report, is that they are based on the dogma of popular sovereignty.

Holds Masses Incapable of Choice

"The error of such a conception is evident," he writes. "The masses are quite incapable of forming their own minds, much less of choosing men. Democracy, in other words, does not exist in nature. Where 100 persons gather they are fatally led by two or three individuals, who drive them according to their own interests and their own inclinations.

"The problem of government therefore cannot be solved by trusting in the illusory dogma of popular sovereignty, but it can be solved by the wise choice of a few leading spirits. If, however, the system of selection is not well organized, the unworthiest usually come to the top. To leave the choice of candidates to an electorate which is composed of an amorphous mass of heterogeneous individuals really means to abandon choice to a few intriguers."

Nor does the system of letting each party choose its own candidates, who are then submitted to the electorate, work any better, Premier Mussolini says, because the choice of candidates is assumed by political parties which often are the most unscrupulous, the least mindful of the nation's interest and the most opposed to constituted authority. Both of these systems, he holds, really took the choice of candidates out of the hands of the electorate, placing it in those of party organs.

"The dogma of popular sovereignty," he concludes, "therefore in practice is the sovereignty of small minorities composed of intriguing demagogues."

Condemns Local Representation

But the faults Premier Mussolini finds with existing electoral systems do not end here. Most of them are founded on a geographical basis, the Deputies which are sent to Parliament being representatives of their own particular town, city or region.

This, the Premier says, tends to make the legislative body too heedful of local affairs, losing sight of national affairs. He adds that fosters "churchsteeple politics" and has the drawback that a great scientist, a great writer or great artist who lives far from his home town does not have the slightest chance to enter Parliament.

"Finally," says Premier Mussolini, "all existing electoral systems neglect the reality of life which is that, isolated, individuals do not exist or have negligible value. Society is not merely a conglomeration of men, but the resultant of a series of minor groups which coexist organically. To ignore these minor groups means to have a totally false idea of social life. This is especially grave for those who seek in popular representation the perfect expression of the will of the people."

Most of the defects of the above systems are eliminated by the new Fascista proposals, Premier Mussolini goes on to say. The Fascisti candidates, he explains, will be designated by organizations representing the productive forces of Italy, thus doing away with the geographical faults of the present systems and the danger of nominations being exclusively the work of intriguing politicians.

Council Revises Nominations

These names will then be revised by the Fascista Grand Council, which, he says, eliminates any residual danger of such results, while "churchsteeple politics" renders possible the inclusion of any notable national figure which has been overlooked by the trades unions or guilds. Finally, the candidates chosen by the Grand Council will be submitted to the electorate, which can either accept or reject them. The electorate, he says, though deprived of the right to choose an individual Deputy or one who will be bound to represent local interests in Parliament, still has a check on the Government and can always show its disapproval of the Government's policies by rejecting all the candidates submitted to it.

Premier Mussolini states positively that the Fascisti have never had any idea of abolishing Parliament altogether.

"Some people may have thought," he writes, "that the logic of Fascista doctrine should finally lead to the abolition of the Chamber and all elections. This deduction, however, does not correspond to the Fascista conception of the modern State. Fascismo never intended to build up a completely autocratic regime or inaugurate a Government by police.

"On the contrary, Fascismo wishes to create a regime of authority with a strong Government possessing ample powers but founded on the masses and keeping close to the masses. No Fascisti ever dreamed of placing the government of the nation in the hands of an oligarchy.

"All who have Fascismo at heart wish instead to create a regime whose ruling class can always draw from the people the men necessary to its constant renewal.

"There is no doubt that an assembly comprised of men who, owing to their origins and the way in which they are designated, are at the same time interpreters of the interests of the groups which compose the nation and the enlightened organs of great national interests, must necessarily find a place among the constitutional organs of the State."

December 29, 2016

1968. On the Brink of War with North Korea

Washington Considers Its Options on North Korea
"The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) steams in formation with the destroyers USS Nicholas (DD-449) and USS O'Bannon (DD-450) in the Gulf of Tonkin," March 6, 1968 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

January 23, 1968

The United States undoubtedly will charge piracy on the high seas, protest and raise Cain with the North Koreans at the Panmunjom armistice commission and otherwise try to cover the embarrassment caused by the Communist boarding and capture of the USS Pueblo.

But in the meantime the Navy will be conducting a thorough behind-the-scenes investigation as to why the Navy intelligence ship put itself into a position to be taken by the North Koreans without firing a shot and without supporting American sea or air power.

The Pueblo is the second US Navy intelligence ship to get into trouble in the last eight months. Another and larger spy ship, the USS Liberty, came under fire and took heavy casualties when Israeli aircraft attacked it during the Arab-Israeli war.

Pentagon officials say this incident, as embarrassing as it is—plus the daring North Korean commando sortie into South Korea two days ago—it does not appear to presage immediate large-scale action in Korea. Not right now, at least.

This is Bill Downs reporting from the Pentagon.

Bill Downs

ABC Washington

January 23, 1968 (Evening)

The questions which are plaguing official Washington tonight include: What if diplomacy fails? What if the North Korean Communist government refuses to return the USS Pueblo and its 83-man crew?

The answers and options available to President Johnson are fearful to contemplate, but the hard facts remain. The USS Pueblo and 83 Americans were taken in international waters and forced to sail into the North Korean port of Wonsan. Will the United States allow them to be held hostage?

According to government officials here, the diplomats will be given full opportunity and time to negotiate their way out of this crisis—negotiations which will not be eased by the Navy's confirmation that at least four US sailors were injured when the North Koreans captured the Pueblo.

In the meantime it's reliably reported that the USS Enterprise, the most powerful aircraft carrier in the world, has been ordered to the Sea of Japan off North Korea and now has all that Communist territory in range of her warplanes.

Other Allied naval units also are reported headed northward to the same area. Washington acted swiftly in reprisal when Communist Vietnamese torpedo boats fired on the Seventh Fleet.

Today's North Korean action is a much more serious affair.

This is Bill Downs reporting from the Pentagon.

Bill Downs

ABC Washington

January 23, 1968 (Evening)

Here at the Pentagon, Defense officials put a lid on the building at about 6:30 p.m., which in the news business means that any further military details of the dangerous Wonsan Bay incident will have to come from somewhere else.

It also means that the international crisis precipitated by the North Korean capture of the USS Pueblo will, for the time being, remain in the hands of the State Department and the White House—and that President Johnson is moving slowly and carefully in the situation which could produce a two-front war in the Far East, and possibly lead to World War III.

After releasing the bare-bones story of the hijacking of the American intelligence ship this morning, Pentagon officials have been under wraps.

Questions which remain unanswered are manifold, including just how close to Communist territory was the Pueblo when the first North Korean gunboat challenged her? In the two hours or so that the Pueblo was under Communist guns before she was boarded, why did not American ships or aircraft from South Korea come to her aid? Why was the Pueblo captured without even her two .50 caliber machine guns being fired?

And the biggest and most melancholy question which lacks an answer: "If diplomacy fails to get the Pueblo and her 83-man crew released, can the United States avoid taking reprisals?"

The world's most powerful aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, is reliably reported to be in North Korean waters right now; the whole of Communist North Korea within range of her warplanes. Other Allied naval craft also are reported sailing to the crisis.

Meanwhile the Panmunjom conference on the 38th parallel will tackle this new Korean crisis in about two hours from now.

So, if possible, tomorrow will be a more dangerous day for world peace than today was.

This is Bill Downs in Washington for Information Reports.

Bill Downs

ABC Washington

January 25, 1968

It's increasingly clear here in worried Washington that time is running out on the diplomats, and the government is turning more and more to what the military call "contingency plans."

"Contingency plans" is the Pentagon's euphemism for "what can you do by force which the State Department has been unable to do through words."

The ordering of the Navy task force to the Sea of Japan two days ago is part of a contingency plan, and for the past 36 hours the planes of the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise has had Communist North Korea within range of her planes.

The ordering of additional Air Force fighter-bombers to American bases in South Korea is part of a "contingency plan," although the transfer of these fighter-bombers may mean thinning out Air Force units now engaged in Vietnam.

And now there has been mention on Capitol Hill of the United States' ultimate "contingency" weapon: America's nuclear power. And it is a sad and frightening fact that, unless the Communist world relents, it may come to that.

This is Bill Downs from Washington.

December 28, 2016

1923. The New York Times on Hitler's Failed Beer Hall Putsch

"Hitler an Alien Agitator"
An NSDAP meeting in 1923 at the Munich Bürgerbräukeller, the site of the Beer Hall Putsch (Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann - source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how contemporary newspapers covered the spread of nationalism in Europe and the rises of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler prior to World War II.

From The New York Times, November 10, 1923:

A Sign Painter from Austria, He Built Up Bavarian Fascisti

The ease with which the Bavarian Government overcame the Fascista "putsch" goes to show that even the name of Ludendorff was not sufficient to make up for the defections of Adolph Hitler's boasted "black" battalions. They were ready, and many reports say they were as formidable as their propaganda pictured—on Sept. 27; but when, on that day, the new Dictator, von Kahr, forbade their meetings, and the promised rising of the National Socialists, as Hitler called his reactionary party, did not take place, they began to forsake the emblem of the swastika.

Adolph Hitler has had a varied, but only for the last year a particularly adventurous, career. He is not a Bavarian at all, nor even a German of Germany. He was born in a suburb of Vienna about 39 years ago and was a sign painter when the World War started, besides being a Lieutenant in the reserve. His Bavarian citizenship dates only from June 13, 1923, when he was beginning to be called "the most impressive man in Germany," having in the previous November organized the Bavarian Fascisti, with centuries, legions, etc., on the Italian model, from the National Socialists, a party he had begun to recruit from Bavarian veterans of the war as early as January, 1922, when he first came to Munich.

He served in the Austrian Army during the war, was demobilized with the rest of the troops and tried to resume his vocation of sign painting. It was soon discovered that he had a gift for demagogic oratory, was blest with limitless energy, which might prove dangerous in a country which asked nothing but to rehabilitate herself, and so he was sent as a propagandist—but under whose auspices it is not known—into the Principality of Liechtenstein, lying between Austrian Vorarlberg and the Swiss cantons of St. Gall and Graubünden, there to preach union with Austria.

When his remittances ceased to arrive from Vienna he went to Munich and there found a ready field for a political program which he presently conceived. There he played upon the Bavarians' jealousy of Prussia, which had whipped both Bavaria and Austria in the twelve-weeks war of 1866, and upon the general feeling that the Berlin Government, whatever it might call itself, was still under Communist influence, whether this influence was exercised by the profiteering industrialists or the mobs they were said to control. Also he found encouragement for his anti-Semitic sentiments, which he had cultivated both in Vienna and in Liechtenstein.

With the success of the Italian Fascista movement a year ago his organization became an established fact. It was confessedly destructive, however, whereas that in Italy was constructive. He opened headquarters in Munich, and money for his cause began to flow in. So much came—or was said to come—that his enemies began to look among the American millionaires for his backer. Although the name of Henry Ford was frequently mentioned, there is no proof that anything more was received from him than the inspiration Hitler and his friends could gain from the portrait of the American, which adorned the walls of the headquarters in Munich.

From November, 1922, until January, 1923, he made many speeches and supervised the drilling of hundreds of Bavarian youths. In January he added to his slogan, which until then had been "Down with Sovietism and Jewish domination!" the words: "Away with the French, the invaders!" In March he staged a grand mobilization of his Fascisti in the Bavarian mountains, in which, according to his propaganda circulars, 10,000 took part. There was talk then of marching on Berlin and of a triumphal march thence down the Ruhr.

The Berlin Government became alarmed in April and there were several conversations between it and the Bavarian Premier. Then the latter's Minister of Justice visited Berlin and informed the authorities of the Reich that they must not believe all that was printed in the Völkischer Beobachter, which was the paper Hitler had started in Munich, and in which he had stated on various occasions that he had trained a following of 100,000. He did have two centuries of well-uniformed, alert youngsters, who were always paraded when he was to make a speech, and last Summer his recruits may have reached the figure claimed by his paper, for he was a very popular man, and his program, in the circumstances, frequently produced the desired reaction. Just after the organization of his Fascisti he issued the proclamation:

"True socialism is the welfare of all the people, and not of one class at the expense of others. Therefore, we oppose class warfare. What is today called socialism is Marxism, and not socialism at all. Marxism kills personal initiative and tries to bring everybody to a dead level. Capitalism has its proper place in true socialism, but capitalism must be held within bounds . . . Any reports about my intention to restore monarchy and separate Bavaria from Germany are maliciously false . . . As for the monarchy, Germany has greater and graver problems than the question of the personal interests of some throne-hunter, whoever he may be."

Just after he had failed to act on Sept. 27 he had an interview published in the Corriere Italiano of Rome, in which he discourage the Italian fear that his Fascisti, when successful in Bavaria, might turn south and attempt to free the German population in the upper Adige Valley or Southern Tyrol. He also said:

"Germany at present is the scene of a struggle between two opposing forces—Nationalism and Judaeo-Marxism. If the latter conquers there will stretch from Vladivostok to the Rhine a single Semitic empire ruled from Moscow. The Reichsbank is in the hands of international Jewish finance, and any credits accorded to Germany go into the pockets of this gang."


Government Not Inclined to Interfere in German Affairs

Rome, Nov. 9 — The Italian government is of the opinion that the Allies should not interfere in German movements unless they in some way violate the Treaty of Versailles. Thus Mussolini would probably resist any attempt to restore the Hohenzollern monarchy as he would any move to exploit nationalist movement sweeping over Germany further to evade payment of reparations. Until that time however the Italian foreign ministry believes that any attempt by Nationalists to seize power should be considered as purely internal German matter and therefore no concern of the Allies.

The whole of the Italian press counsels great caution in judging events in Bavaria, as their objects and their causes are not yet fully known. All newspapers, however, are unanimous in saying that the Bavarian revolt against the Berlin Government is the perfectly logical outcome of the situation in Germany. They hold that it is not remarkable that Germans should revolt against a form of government which they accepted with reluctance, now that it has proved incapable of averting the ruin of the Reich.

Other newspapers are of the opinion that present events in Germany are the direct outcome of the failure on the part of the Allies to accept President Wilson's famous fourteen points. As soon as Germany was rendered powerless the Allies, instead of keeping their word, proceeded with all possible haste to throw each one of Wilson's fourteen points overboard, they say. This, in their opinion, gives Germany just cause for dissatisfaction and lies at the root of much unrest which is disrupting the Reich at present. If President Wilson had been followed, Europe might be a different place to live in today, this argument concludes.

December 27, 2016

1948. Berlin, the "Island of Anti-Communist Opposition"

The "Divisive Election" in Greater Berlin
"East Berliners take part in a December 1948 demonstration 'for a united democratic Germany,' organized by the Soviet-influenced Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). The SED's tactics of bringing opposing political parties in line with their vision became more brutal with time" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 6, 1948

More than 1,365,000 Germans in the Western sectors of Berlin today are on record as favoring the Western Power opposition to the policies of the Soviet Union. These people form the only on-the-record island of anti-Communist opposition inside the Russian orbit—one hundred miles inside the Russian zone of Germany, kept alive by the Anglo-American airlift.

With only about 150 out of 1,572 polling places to be heard from, officials show that 86.4 percent of the registered voters cast their ballots yesterday, an amazingly high figure considering that the Communist Party boycotted the elections and the Soviet military government refused to recognize them.

A study of the results reveals two paradoxical facts. The Communist campaign to keep voters away from the polls failed completely. And the left-wing Social Democratic Party won complete control of the Western city assembly. In other words, the Western Berliners moved to the left, but not to the radical.

Broken down, the Social Democrats got 64 percent of the vote. The Christian Democratic middle-of-the-road party got 20 percent, and the right-wing Liberal Democrats polled 16 percent.

Compared with the 1946 elections, the Social Democrats claim they gained votes from the Christian Democrats and from the Communists. According to German political experts, had the Communists voted yesterday, they would have polled only five to six percent of the vote, a loss of about half their strength from the elections of two years ago.

Berlin is returning to normal today, a little surprised and greatly relieved that the elections went off so quietly. The much rumored plans of a Communist-led putsch against the ballot boxes did not materialize. In fact, yesterday's Berlin elections were quieter than they would have been in any city of comparable size in America. 73 persons were arrested for trying to interfere with the elections, but by this morning all but three had been released.

The Western press this morning is jubilant. The headlines proclaim that "Communism has been defeated in Berlin."

But it's a different story in the Russian-licensed newspapers. They ignore the statistics of the election and call them "A shameless comedy . . . Terror and fear forced Western Berliners to go to the polls."

Now the city is completely and definitely split. The Berlin crisis goes into a new phase. What it will be, no one knows.

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

December 26, 2016

1943. The Bolshoi Theatre Reopens

Night at the Bolshoi
The Bolshoi Theatre in the 1930s (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

September 25, 1943

It's difficult to tell tonight which is bigger—the news that is now happening or the news which seems about to happen.

We cannot underestimate the fall of Smolensk. Neither can we underestimate (the Red Army's march to) the Dnieper in the south.

But it would appear that even more startling successes are in store.

Moscow today is full of unconfirmed reports; (but) they're the kind of reports you like to hear. People already are talking about the possible fall of Kiev; about Russian soldiers crossing the Dnieper; about Red Army soldiers fighting on the soil of White Russia.

All of these reports are officially unconfirmed, but all of them do not seem premature.

There is other news in Moscow tonight, which to the ordinary Russian citizen is, in its way, just as stirring as the news from the front.

I have just left the Bolshoi Theatre, where a brilliant Russian opera and ballet company is giving a first night. I had to leave at the end of the second act to take this broadcast. The opera was Glinka's Ivan Susanin, formerly called "A Life for the Tsar."

This first sight was no ordinary occurrence in Russia. The Bolshoi Theatre is the "Independence Hall" of the Soviet Union. Set just off Red Square, it's one of the most beautiful buildings in Europe, fronted with tall white columns. On the square in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, many of the bloodiest encounters of the Revolution occurred between the Soviet troops and the revolutionaries.

Just before the war, the Bolshoi was closed for remodeling. Then, in the winter of 1941, a German bomb went through the roof of the theater.

However, now the famous old building has been completely restored. Stepping into the gilded, lush interior of the Bolshoi tonight was like stepping into another world. It was a first night worthy of New York or any other capital in the world.

Women who have been giving their last pair of silk stockings for months brought them out for the Bolshoi evening. There was heady perfume. Soft lights glistened on the gold epaulets of the generals. Their ladies wore good Russian silver fox furs.

The entire diplomatic community was there—representatives of the United States embassy; Australians; the British ambassador; heads of military missions—and the Japanese.

Throughout the performance, people constantly turned to look at the big box on the left hand side of the theater nearest the stage. This is the most distinguished seat in the theater.

There had been reports earlier that perhaps Mr. Stalin would come to the Bolshoi opening. However, Mr. Stalin had not shown up by the time I left the theater during the second act.

The Bolshoi Theatre stands for the best in Russian culture; (to the Russian people it stands) as a symbol of freedom, just as our Liberty Bell does.

December 25, 2016

1943. The Moscow Reports

Bill Downs Reporting from the Soviet Union
A still from the documentary The Battle of Russia (1943), part of the American series "Why We Fight"


Bill Downs wrote stacks of articles and broadcast transcripts while serving as CBS News' Moscow correspondent in 1943. These reports, featured below, provided updates and analyses of the war on the Eastern Front as it happened. They tell the dramatic stories of civilians and Red Army soldiers on the front lines in Russia and Ukraine, from Leningrad to Stalingrad to Kiev.  

Downs dealt with significant technical difficulties broadcasting to New York. As a result many, if not most, of these reports were never heard in the United States, or anywhere other than that small studio in Moscow.

Parentheses are used to indicate text that was censored by Soviet officials for military or propaganda reasons. While censorship was not unique to the Sovietsthe Western Allies across Europe also had censors review broadcast transcripts for material they deemed sensitiveMoscow's censors were arguably the most stringent.

Reporters on the Eastern Front relied heavily on state-run newspapers (particularly Pravda, Izvestia, and Red Star) and government communiqués. Some of their military news updates reflected this. One example is Downs' report on the Katyn massacre, which he described as "the latest gory German propaganda" based off available information at the time from Pravda and the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia did not officially acknowledge until 1990 that it was actually Soviet secret police, the NKVD, who were responsible for the mass killings). 

Part of the discrepancy was due to the heavy restrictions placed on war correspondents by government officials. Downs recalled in 1951:
"Within the scope of Soviet censorship, the resident correspondent can report accurately on government policy as announced by the Kremlin. However, the resident correspondent is not allowed to report such details as the living standards of the people he sees or the state of the national economy . . . He is not allowed to report on conversations, say, overheard on the subway or on the buses and streetcars. His isolation from the Russian people is manifoldfirst by the language barrier, second by the fact that he is restricted for the most part to Moscow, thirdly by government orders against association with foreigners, and fourthly by the atmosphere of fear and suspicion, which is part of the daily life of the people.

"Outside of a few officials, it is doubtful that even the Russians themselves know what transpires in their country . . . Only occasionally does rumor or a leak in the press break through these barriers which the government has inflicted on the people."
Reviewing the scripts was only part of the process, as Downs wrote:
"The correspondent could not find out what had been cut from his copy until he was advised by his home office . . . radio scripts were submitted and had to be returned to us for reading on the air. Thus we could see what the censors had cut, and we were able to assess the government's attitude on subjects of a sensitive nature. The government obviously felt that its censorship was not complete. There was a fear that the correspondent could, by intonation, change the meaning of his report . . . When reading your dispatch on the air, there was always an English-speaking Communist broadcaster sitting alongside with his hand on the cut-out switch. If you unintentionally changed the grammar of the sentence, as sometimes happens, down would go the switch and you'd be off the air."
Regarding the role of the press, he wrote:
"The Soviet government sees the press only as an arm of the government whose chief duty is to forward the Communist cause. They do not understand—or at least pretend not to understand—the role of the free press outside their country. The Soviet concept of news is that all information about Russia, no matter how trivial, comes under the heading of intelligence in the espionage meaning of the word. Consequently the foreign correspondent is tolerated as a kind of second-rate spy."
Some of his most chilling reports, such as those on Kharkov, Stalingrad, and Kiev, are firsthand accounts of what Downs witnessed in those cities, and he had more latitude to convey the absolute brutality on the Eastern Front rather than simply reading official communiqués. In their book The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism, authors Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud recount Downs' experience with the city of Rzhev (pp. 195-196):
"After the German occupation of Rzhev, only two hundred fifty people remained of the town's original forty thousand. Downs described how in one house he stepped over the body of an old woman, her face battered to a pulp. Near her were the bodies of her grandchildren—a nine-year-old boy and an eleven-year-old girl, both shot in the head. In another room lay the body of a second grandson, about fourteen years old, shot at least seven times. As Downs reconstructed it, the Germans had ordered all the women and children to go to the town's church. But the woman's older grandson was desperately ill with typhus, and she refused to move him. So the Germans killed them all on the spot, beating her to death for her disobedience and riddling the fourteen-year-old with bullets.

"Downs was haunted by what he had seen in Russia. He told friends that 'coming back . . . is something like stepping out of a St. Valentine's Day massacre into a Sunday school classroom.' Over and over he described what he had witnessed but soon discovered that not everyone shared his strong feelings for the Russian people and the horrors they had experienced. Some looked at him curiously. Others expressed pity. Still others said he was a liar. On a lecture tour of the United States before returning to London, he even received an anonymous postcard calling him a Russian agent and threatening his life."
The links to Bill Downs' full reports are featured along with excerpts below, with the censored text restored.


January 1943: Drinks with Red Army men back from Stalingrad
"I walked into the airport waiting room and saw Russian soldiers sitting around while a chess game progressed in one corner. Someone brought me a cup of tea—I had no Russian money and don't know who paid for it. The atmosphere about this place had the same sort of isolated comradeship you find in old-time village grocery stores. All it needed was a cracker-barrel and a potbellied stove.

"An army captain approached me without smiling and asked, 'Sprechen sie Deutsch?' I didn't know whether to say yes or no, since I am able to speak a sort of pidgin German from my college days. I looked around the room, which had sort of frozen up when it heard German, and I was the only foreigner around. I decided to chance it and replied, 'Ja, aber ich bin Amerikanischer korrespondent.' The room roared in laughter and I was immediately offered a flask."

January 1943: What drives the Russians to fight the way they do?
"The ability of Russia's John Q. Public to fight has endowed the people of Russia with almost legendary character—in the eyes of the world, and particularly Hitler."

January 6, 1943: Folks at home write to Red Army soldiers on the front lines
"Whole regiments will get letters addressed to the 'Liberators of Boguchar' from people they have never heard of before. Russian girls will write individual soldiers asking Private Ivanovich to 'kill just one German more today.'"

January 15, 1943: Russian civilians aid the war effort
"As the work progressed, the nearby townspeople also came in on the job. Then someone started a competition. The furnace became a sort of goal. Whole families, including the kids, helped carry fire bricks. Others dug pipelines. When the super-structure started going up, people got in each other's way trying to get things done."

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 8, 1943: The aftermath in Stalingrad
"There was not a single manhole in Stalingrad's streets with a cover. Germans and Russians not only used the city's basements, housetops, and alleys for battlegrounds, but the sewers as well. Snipers were known to crawl through sewers and come out behind German positions to create panic . . .
"Veterans of the Stalingrad fight said it was not uncommon to find Russian and German soldiers locked in each other's death grip during the height of the fighting. That was the way these two armies locked in the city of Stalingrad fought until the Red Army proved itself more powerful and skilled and brought the Wehrmacht to its knees."

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

February 8, 1943: "War Surgery for Sex"
"'Young soldiers brought here on the verge of suicide are as much mental cases as surgical. However, when they see other men undergoing plastic treatment and when they have talked with similarly wounded comrades, one can notice a psychological change within as little as one hour.'"

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

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

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

February 20, 1943: The Soviet government warns of Nazi spy tactics
"The Germans used local children, usually ages twelve to sixteen, and brought them before their trussed-up parents. They made them watch as their parents were severely beaten. The Germans then promised to stop the beatings if the children agreed to go to the Soviet rear and obtain the desired information. These kids were assured that if the information was not forthcoming, or if they failed to return, their parents would be shot. It is notable that Germans always keep these kinds of promises."

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

February 23, 1943: Russian reverence for the army
"Down in Stalingrad, in the fight for a tractor factory, one Red Army storm unit of a couple dozen troops were trying to outflank a pillbox which covered a vital communications area with murderous fire. Three times the storm group tried to outflank the German position. Each time they lost several more men. The group was led by a young lieutenant. He assayed the situation, took out a couple of grenades, and ordered the group to drive for the flank while he threw grenades. Under cover of the explosion, the lieutenant didn't run with comrades to flank. Instead he ran directly toward the aperture of the pillbox and blocked it with his body. His unit later picked up the body, half hung over a machine gun."

February 23, 1943: The fighting for Oryol and the Donbass
"The Donbass is not an area of separate communities. In reality, it is one big suburb interconnected and intertwined with interurban lines, highways, and roads. It is the first complete frontal street fighting that any army in the world has encountered on such a large scale. The Germans are putting up a desperate defense. It is natural that the Donbass advance should progress more slowly than the Russian progress has been over the steppe-land to the north."

February 27 to March 16, 1943: The Nazi occupation of Kharkov and the colonization of Ukraine
"During the first days of the occupation about 18,000 people were executed. Bodies hanging from balconies were a common sight. Among these 18,000 executed were about 10,000 Jews—men, women, and children—who were taken nine miles out of the city, shot and buried in a big ditch."

March 1, 1943: General Belov discusses German tank tactics
"The only major change in tank warfare, as the Germans fight it, is in the number of tanks employed in a single battle. Early in the war, in the fighting around the Polish city of Lutsk, the Red Army and the Wehrmacht engaged in a gigantic tank battle in which four thousand tanks were used. Later, the tank engagements involved only one hundred tanks at a time. And now the Germans are using only thirty to fifty tanks in a single engagement."

March 1, 1943: The fall of the "fortress of Demyansk"
"Eleven thousand Germans have been killed or captured in these eight days of fighting. 302 population points have been taken, and tonight the 16th German Army is retreating westward."

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

March 4, 1943: Blitzkrieg tempo
Marshal Timoshenko's troops are still advancing south of Lake Ilmen. The Red Army drive from Rzhev has assumed a blitzkrieg tempo, and there has been no halt in the march of the Soviet forces threatening Bryansk and Oryol.

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

March 7, 1943: Sappers get to work
"It was quiet at night and no nails could be pounded, so the engineers used screws instead. As dawn approached, the sappers had to cover up their work with snow so that the Germans wouldn't know what was going on."

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

March 8, 1943: Lend-Lease to the USSR
"The Russian people also have no idea of the scope of such American and British organizations such as the Aid to Russia funds. They know virtually nothing of the tremendous personal interest the people of the United States and other Allied nations are taking in their problems."

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

March 9 to March 12, 1943: Vyazma is liberated
"At nightfall, fresh Russian troops, who have been sleeping and resting all day, will take over the offensive and keep the Germans up all night. Then at dawn the day shift will take over again."

March 15 to March 17, 1943: The Germans retake Kharkov
"After the Red Army captured Kharkov last February 16th, the German command concentrated and reformed over 250,000 men for a counter blow. This was in addition to forces already fighting west of Kharkov and in the Donbass. The blow came two weeks later."

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

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

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

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

March 23 to April 12: Renewed heavy air fighting
"A lot of Lend-Lease aircraft from the United States this winter and more are coming every day. Hitler's aircraft industry already is overstrained by the Allied air offensive in Western Europe. It's going to be even heavier taxed this spring and summer as the Red Air Force increases its offensive in the East."

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

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

March 27 to March 29, 1943: Small-scale fighting as mud season hits
"Right now the Germans are confining their thrusts to small raiding parties. During the daytime, the Nazis carefully scout out the Russian positions. Then at night they send small groups of Tommy gunners—fifty or so at a time—across the river to attack the Red Army positions. These military jabs are designed to feel out the Russian defenses and might well be preliminary sparring preceding another German attempt to land a knockout blow."
March 28, 1943: Soviet engineers work a miracle as the Nazis retreat
"And when the Germans were chased from the area, they did one of their most complete jobs of earth scorching along the Velikiye Luki-Moscow railroad. Every bridge was blown up. Switches and sidings were destroyed. In some places the Germans even burned the forest around some vital bridges so that the Russian engineers would have no material with which to reconstruct them."

March 31, 1943: The looming Soviet summer offensive
"Hitler cannot afford to sit on his present battle lines and expand his diminishing military energy by defensive action. This would allow the Soviet command to a mass overwhelming strength against him. The experience at Stalingrad is a clear demonstration of what happens when he neglects the massing of Soviet reserves."

April 1, 1943: Alyosha and his pet pig
"Alyosha was raising a pet pig named Khrushka when the Germans came to the village. He loved his friend Khrushka and was very much afraid when the Germans started collecting all of the other pigs and cows and chickens in the village to send back to Germany."

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

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

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

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

April 8, 1943: The German assault on Izium ends in defeat
"The Germans began their major assaults south of Izium five days ago. This local offensive was aimed at establishing a river crossing at Izium and at the same time cutting the important railroad running northwestward from the city."

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

April 11, 1943 (by Quentin Reynolds): Revisiting Moscow, the city where Hitler's dream ended
"Every civilian in Moscow has made it his war. Perhaps New York can learn something from this city of courage."

April 14, 1943: The little news from Moscow
"All of us here, from the government leaders in the Kremlin down to the correspondents in the Metropol hotel, are waiting for developments from North Africa."

April 14, 1943: Optimism over decisive Allied victories in Tunisia
"The Soviet Union is expecting big things from the American, British and French forces now advancing in Tunisia. For many days now the Allied North African offensive has been the biggest military news in the Soviet press."

April 14, 1943: Convicts join the fight
"It seems that there are scores of men with criminal records serving in the Red Army. Some of them have completed terms and joined. Others are serving while under conviction and may have terms to finish after the war is over. And there are others who have joined the army who are waiting for conviction. Settlement of their cases will also be made after the war."

April 15, 1943: Soviet bombing campaign forces Nazis to change tactics
"The Germans have felt the damaging weight of the Russian bombs and have resorted to all kinds of trickery—it's an improved type of trickery which the Nazis started using during the early bombings of Germany by the Royal Air Force."

April 16, 1943: Kalinin signs martial law decree
"Upon conviction of a crime on the railroads, the worker is subject to dismissal from his job, after which he will be sent to the front to join special penalty brigades. In addition, executives of the railroad lines have the right to put a worker under 'administrative arrests' for minor infractions for up to a period of twenty days."

April 16, 1943: The German command's strategic missteps
"It would appear that the Nazis don't quite know what offensive to put on and where. They have alternated attacks between Chuguev, Izium, and then Balakleya. All of these attacks have failed, and apparently the German command is still 'shopping' for a front on the Donets line where they can gain a victory. And any choice the Germans make will be a dangerous one."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 4, 1943: Axis setbacks in Russia and North Africa
"Last winter, while the Russian army was advancing westward, the Soviet people had a strong taste of victory in their mouths. That taste is beginning to return as they read of the continued American, British, and French successes in Tunisia."

May 5 to May 30, 1943: The fighting rages along the Central Front
"Germany is fighting on this front with the desperation of a nation who knows the loss of this war on her eastern front means the absolute end to everything that millions of Germans have died for since September 1939. On the other hand, Russia too has had a taste of just what a complete German victory would mean. The people who come from occupied Russia are enough to convince her that her cause is just. And that's the way things stand now, as both armies fret in their trenches awaiting the word to attack."

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

May 7, 1943: Strained Polish-Soviet relations
"Vyshinsky is a white-haired, neat-looking lawyer, and he read his two thousand word summary of Soviet-Polish relations like a person adding up a column of figures. And that is the tone of the whole long list of Russian accusations against the Polish government."

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

May 16, 1943: Allied diplomats convene in Russia
"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."

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

May 24, 1943: Top dignitaries visit the Kremlin
"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.'"

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

May 27, 1943: Joseph Davies concludes his Moscow visit
"The Davies mission hit Moscow like a small whirlwind. It was exactly a week ago tonight that the former ambassador went to the Kremlin and delivered Mr. Roosevelt's letter to Stalin. At that time, Stalin said he would take the points raised in the President's letter under consideration and advise Mr. Davies later."

May 28, 1943: Immense stockpile of Nazi armament seized
"When the French were defending Verdun in 1916, they used some four million shells in the fourteen-day offensive. The Verdun fortress hurled six tons of metal on every yard of the front during the battle. With the shells that the Red Army captured this winter, it is calculated that the Russian troops could fight four Verduns."

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

June 1, 1943: Nazi rockets provide light for Soviet troop shows
"Recently one group performed for a tank unit assigned to crack a river fortification. The artists reached the front late in the evening. They were held up picking their way through narrow trails in minefields. When they arrived, the soldiers insisted on seeing the entire program. The troupe performed in the open air; the illumination was furnished free by German rockets. The concert really got a big windup with artillery barrage. Before the troupers had packed, the first tanks had crossed the river."

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

June 8, 1943: The film "She Defends Her Country" debuts in Moscow
"Atrocity is brutally treated in this film, and if shown in America could give reaching confirmation of what every foreign correspondent has seen. The film's sincerity overcomes its shortcomings."

June 14, 1943: Stalin previews "Mission to Moscow"
"Stalin's poker face may have derived from the fact that the film's portrayal of the Soviet Premier was judged the least adequate in a roster of generally excellent characterizations. Playing Stalin for sweetness and light, Manart Kippen missed the strength and power and twinkling humor with which Stalin invariably impresses foreign visitors."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2, 1943: The "Orel Sweepstakes"
"The Orel sweepstakes is typical of the difficulties under which American and British reporters must compete for headlines and at the same time keep within reason in trying to interpret the progress of military movements in Russia. There is not one who had not been screaming at the press department for trips to the front or, second best, for conferences with reliable political and military authorities for guidance in covering this and other stories."

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

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

August 16, 1943: "Revolution in Soviet School System Kills Coeducation for Youthful Reds"
"This statement represents a new conception of the Soviet woman and her place in family and national life. Sociologically it is a significant change from the early conceptions which simplified divorce processes, provided state contraceptive service, and put emphasis on the nursery instead of the family. In recent years the trend has been in the opposite direction; the Soviet Union is taking measures to increase the birth rate, which since the war has been declining because of the separation of families, improper feeding, and casualties. The new system is the first step in this direction."

August 21, 1943: "It Happens in Moscow" by Quentin Reynolds
"Two American correspondents, Bill Downs of the Columbia Broadcasting System, and David Nichol of the Chicago Daily News, were among the lucky ones to obtain tickets. They joined in the parade, jostling elbows with gold-epauletted Red army generals, with American and British generals, with ambassadors and with the beauty and culture of Moscow. But they wanted to smoke, and neither had a cigarette."

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

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

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

September 9, 1943: Italy falls as Donetsk is liberated
 "A victory for one of the United Nations is a victory for all the United Nations."

September 11, 1943: Salutes in Moscow as the Red Army advance continues
"What I'm trying to say is that, despite the apparent lack of what we call 'big' news, the Red Army's advance is continuing. A lot of these unknown inhabited points might be, for individual groups of Russian soldiers, battles as bitter and bloody as the fighting that separate units did for Stalingrad. You don't need a special communiqué to die—you also don't need a special communiqué to capture an inhabited point."

September 11 to September 27, 1943: The Nazis retreat from the Panther-Wotan defense line
"Adolf Hitler's dreary words to the German people will be of little comfort to the Nazi armies which now are running westward with their tails between their legs. The main job of the German command today is to keep this retreat from becoming a rout—which it is threatening to develop into on several sectors."

September 12 to September 17, 1943: The Red Army approaches Bryansk
"The Red Army in the past ten months of its winter and summer offensive has almost completely wiped out the gains that the German army spent two years in achieving. As the Russians drive for Kiev and the Dnieper bend, they soon will be on the same lines where they fought the Nazis in September 1941."

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

September 16, 1943: Moscow urges Bulgaria to abandon the Axis
"An article in today's Pravda, organ of the Communist Party, calls on Bulgaria to abandon her collaboration with Germany before the Balkans are turned into a battlefield."

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

September 20, 1943: Skyrockets over Moscow
"Then there is another brief wait for the fireworks. At the zero hour, the artillery battery at Moscow's western outskirts lights up the sky, and a few seconds later there is a low rumble like distant thunder."

September 23, 1943: The Second Battle of Poltava
"The German base of Poltava was one of the most powerful in the Ukraine. It was taken with much greater casualties for both sides than either the Russians or the Swedes suffered two centuries ago."

September 25, 1943: The Bolshoi Theatre reopens
"The entire diplomatic community was there—representatives of the United States embassy; Australians; the British ambassador; heads of military missions—and the Japanese."

September 26 to September 29, 1943: The massive Dnieper offensive continues
"An article in the Army journal, Red Star, today puts the question that is on everyone's lips here in Russia: 'Where is Hitler's army going to stop?' This same question must be on the lips of the people of Germany."

September 27, 1943: Suvorov schools
"Originally designed to 'aid the education of the children of the Red Army soldiers, partisans, workers, collective farmers, government, and party workers, whose parents perished at the hands of the invaders,' the schools will be replenished yearly by the application system.

November 1, 1943: The Third Moscow Conference
"The welcome accorded Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden on Oct. 18 set the tone for the meeting. At the very moment that Hull stepped down from his four-engined Douglas transport at the Moscow airport, a military band struck up 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' and quickly followed with the 'Internationale.'"

November 15, 1943: A new U.S. ambassador arrives in Russia
"The long time that Spaso House had been without an official hostess had turned the Ambassador's official residence into what was almost a super-luxurious fraternity house. The Mokhovaya House across the street from the Kremlin with embassy offices and apartments for military, naval, and Lend-Lease staffs was almost the same. No one had enough to do. Consequently the embassy military and naval staffs spent a lot of time chasing ballet and theater tickets."

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

January 23, 1944: Retaking the Russian railways
"There are probably more American trucks and jeeps and weapon carriers in Russia than any other country outside the United States. Supplies for the Stalingrad victory were largely carried on American ten-wheelers which can negotiate the deep Russian snow. It was the same at Oryol and Belgorod last summer, and again at Kiev where these American trucks were able to cope with Ukrainian mud."

February 21, 1944: Bill Downs looks back on Russia
"When I entered Russia on Christmas Day, 1942, the country was in the midst of the Battle of Stalingrad. The strain was evident in Moscow. Tired, red-eyed officers from the southern front who were reporting to headquarters could be seen in Moscow hotels trying to snatch a few hours' sleep before rushing back to the battle. But the victory, although its cost was scores of thousands of Russian men, was the turning point of the United Nations war against the Axis. This victory was also a turning point for the Soviet. It marked the end of one era inside Russia and the beginning of another. Only today are we beginning to see manifestations of a new era."