March 31, 2017

1931. Young Germans Turn to Radicalism

Radicalism Overtakes Germany
"Thousands of young men flocked to hang upon the words of their leader, Reichsfuhrer Adolf Hitler, as he addressed the convention of the National Socialist Party in Nuremberg, Germany on Sept. 11, 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 1931, historian Emil Ludwig examined the radicalization of German youth.

From The New York Times, September 20, 1931:
LEADERLESS YOUTH OF GERMANY
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
Cut Adrift From the Old Authority Symbolized by the Throne and the Army and Discontented With Things as They Are, They Turn, Says Ludwig, to Radicalism Both Left and Right
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
In the present crisis in Europe much depends on Germany's attitude—and a highly important aspect of that attitude is the state of mind of Germany's youth. Emil Ludwig, the noted German historian, undertakes in the following article to discuss the present aspirations, problems and perplexities that confront the generation that has grown up in Germany since the war.
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
By EMIL LUDWIG

If the great war had the moral import in which America believed for a while, its effect upon the youth of Europe should have been highly beneficial. Instead, however, a comparison of the youth of 1930 with that of 1900 reveals a universal decline of moral and rise of materialistic elements. In Germany, the scene of the most intense suffering, not during the war but during the subsequent peace, the confusion is doubly great. Here the war brought threefold harm to the youth that was to grow up: it destroyed these young people's ancestral ideals, plunged them into poverty, and woke in them a feeling of unjust suffering that rouses them to vengeance. These three points must be kept in mind by any fair-minded observer of German youth who views it with anxiety or disapprobation. The task of judging the young always is difficult for a man of 50; in this case opposed political trends make it particularly complicated.

For politics stands foremost as a cause of agitation and division among the German youth. While we were all too unpolitical in 1900—for our best men kept aloof from government affairs, and even the current opposition found its expression not in activity but in abstention from social problems—there is today not a single family or school or club without its political aspects; indeed, the ruinous conflict that is destroying the adults is brought even into the nursery, by means of badges, songs and various practices.

•   •   •

What the young Germans today lack is a definite authority which they could obey. Formerly three-quarters of the people saw it in their king and all royal institutions; even the young workers exhausted their opposition in rare assemblies and moderate papers. When this authority was suddenly abolished and the new one that was quickly formed was attacked, disputed and, very soon, affronted, we had, for the first time in a thousand years, a young German generation torn loose from tradition. The sense of obedience inborn in the Germans, which made them the most orderly people in the world, the only people which in the final analysis never experienced an actual revolution—this sense of obedience was based on a hierarchy whose finest representatives wore uniforms. Since every youth had to wear the king's coat for a year—if he was a poor boy, for three years—discipline permeated even the most crimson among workers, and fiery Socialists could be heard singing their longing for youth in the song which ran:
"Nein, nein, sie kommt nicht mehr,
Sie ist beim Militaer."
("No, no, it won't come back,
it's in the army.")
That is why revolution was to be expected less in Germany than in any other European nation, and that is why the upheaval, virtually inevitable because of the flight of the reigning princes and ruling classes, found a totally unprepared people whose children groped their way as in a fog, robbed of every leader. For centuries the men who signified power and order, who could command respect, had worn uniforms. How, therefore, could obedience be exacted by a State whose President, Ministers and Parliamentary Deputies were conspicuously unmilitary in garb and demeanor? Nay, more: this State did not wish to exact anything; it wanted to educate its young people to become free citizens who would learn to think and to have a share in its affairs. In the first years of the young republic this call was answered only by Democrats and Socialists, while large sections of the nation resentfully stood aside.

As the new democracy, weighted down by the yoke of the peace pact, could progress only slowly, those who had lost by the revolution quickly succeeded in gathering grounds for hostility to the new regime; and since, at the same time, the new Russian propaganda was constantly increasing, only a few years needed to pass before radicals arose on both the Left and the Right and made the new State appear ludicrous in the eyes of youth.

Young people believe everything that sounds plausible and is drummed into them with banners, emblems, songs and slogans; accordingly, the youth that has been growing up in the last five years is passionately eager to snatch at any form of power that might replace the vanished authority of their fathers' day. As both men and women have the vote in the new Germany at the age of 21, all parties hurl themselves upon the youth: the result is a veritable battle for the hearts and ballots of the 9,000,000 young people between 14 and 21, 7,000,000 of whom are already earning their own livelihood. In addition, we have 11,000,000 young voters ranging in age from 21 to 30 years, so that today the youth of Germany comprises a third of the nation and half of the actual voting population. The entire present and future depend on these young people's point of view.

•   •   •

Common to all of them is a tendency toward radicalism. We are badly off today, hence we must summon up all our energies—then things will be better. Both radical wings have connections with foreign forms and theories—the Communists with Moscow, the Fascists with Rome. Both parties have remained spiritually dependent upon their foreign prototypes, whose fathers, curiously enough, were Germans: Marx and Nietzsche, whose theories were written in German and absorbed and modified by Russia and Italy, to come back home to Germany now in familiar form to meet with great misunderstanding.

The youth of both parties has been completely militarized, wearing uniform suits, shirts and belts, carrying uniform flags. Their marching songs, heard without words, might be confused; they differ only in the text, the adherents of one group vowing that they intend to free their class through the Red International, the others calling upon the German people to shake off the yoke of the foe. Whether a young man stands on the Right or the Left is purely fortuitous in thousands of cases; but both parties are decidedly opposed to the pacifists—with this difference: that the Communists wish to prepare for a "last war," that against the exploiters, while the German Fascists laud war as education to virility, and sneeringly label as cowardice everything bound up with the League of Nations or reconciliation.

The 1,000,000 young people who are being trained in the youth clubs of both parties are distinguished by rigid organization and discipline, in the evenings, on their hikes and during their inspections, in their woodland camps complete with tents and cooking utensils, they recover all the thrills they miss by the absence of military conscription. Then there is the inborn German yearning for romance, of which these laborers, mechanics and clerks are deprived by day in their roaring factories and dull workshops. The constant complaints that they hear from every side—the wretchedness of nearly 1,000,000 unemployed young people, the lamentations of their parents as they recall the good old times before the war, the thick veil of mist that obscures the future—all this is forgotten, or at least more easily borne, when, as free and equal members of a political society, in speeches or demonstrations, they can promise one another a splendid future and vehemently execrate the foe within or without.

This military pastime of our youth had no need of the additional stimulus of being forbidden; the love of it lies in the German's blood, and when political pretexts are dispensed with it becomes a passion for sport. The thousands of sport clubs that came into being after the war were to be viewed from abroad not as the menace of a covert army but rather as a diversion from militarism; for prior to the war it was unknown in our country that one could achieve prominence and even world fame through physical deeds without a uniform and without a State. If the sport sections of the British or American press have doubled in size, more or less, since the war, they have increased tenfold here.

•   •   •

The fact that German sport teams have taken part in international tournaments gives proof of their passionate ambition to show the world what Germans can do. For the mood of these young people is the injured pride of the sons of defeated fathers. Thus have they been trained by the class consciousness of the Communists and the nationalism of the Fascists. The latter particularly feel the need of finding casuistic excuses for themselves when they go to, say, Paris for a football game.

Between the huge organizations of the radical youth stand the societies of the moderates, who include the Catholic Centre, the remains of the Democrats and especially the Social-Democrats. These too are held together by discipline and emblems—but their manifestos proscribe war and aim at reconciliation. It is to these groups that we owe the pacifist books whose fame resounds throughout the world. The numerical size of these youth associations cannot be stated definitely, but it is certain that they comprise a minority in comparison with the radical groups of the Right and the Left. Small wonder—for here thought is needed, while the radicals demand only sentiment and faith. Young people are not alone in rushing more eagerly to the places where hopes are aroused and battles are conjured up in verse and imagery than to the seats of moderation—which never did satisfy the youth.

Then there is the tragic division between the two branches of Christianity, the feud that for four centuries has cost so much German life and spiritual energy. True, religious piety has declined greatly among the German youth, as everywhere, since the war. When recently 4,000 boys and girls were asked to write down their opinion of God their answers made the ministers' hair stand on end. One boy wrote, "I have been badly off since childhood; my father fell in battle, my mother is dead; how can I believe that there is a God?" A girl said, "I think churches look very pretty in the country, but when I see one in Berlin it makes me laugh." And some dozens of young bricklayers expressed their disbelief in the existence of God in language so vigorous that it cannot be reproduced here.

But when it comes to fighting a Protestant youth group the Catholic clubs wax caustic, and vice versa. Even in the programs of the youth great political unions frequently are wrecked because of this hereditary antagonism which no one really feels any longer. However, it is the Protestants of Germany who suffer by far the greater loss of believers: in the decade 1918-28 almost 2,000,000 of this creed's followers left the Church, and it is stated that 35 per cent of all the Deputies in the Reichstag no longer are affiliated with any Christian Church.
Campaigners hold signs in front of a polling station in Berlin on election day, July 31, 1932 (source)
Politics and sports being set aside, what elements of idealism remain in the heart of a young German? Have the oppressive wretchedness of his life, the constant uncertainty of his existence, left him no energy for ideals? The answer to this question would have to be skeptical even if its scope were widened to the international. In their realism the Germans are no worse than all the rest of the youth of our time.

The purest note of German idealism has unfortunately grown almost silent. Music, which formerly carried this most musical people of the globe high above its workaday cares, grows less and less audible. No better proof that the World War was not really a national war in Germany can be adduced than the absence of songs such as were born of other German wars. But even all the ecstatic enthusiasm and vindictiveness that resounds from the parades of the millions of young Hitlerites, or Fascists, has remained tuneless—the very song that they sing has been borrowed from Italy. On their hiking tours these youths sometimes play the mandolin or the lute and sing some of the beautiful old songs. But the two divine images that watched over the German century, Goethe and Beethoven, appear clouded over: the youth no longer knows them; indeed, Goethe is rejected by the young Fascists as an international spirit and by the Communists as a so-called aristocrat. (There are only a few hundred of us in Germany who know today that a revival of Goethe is due within the next thirty years.)

In addition, the radicals of both wings lack thinkers and poets who might lead them; all those who produce significant literary or artistic works in Germany today stand on the side of international peace. The Fascists have a gifted poet in Ernst Jünger, who with great imaginativeness and genuine fervor depicts war as an ideal, as it was long ago in the age of the lansquenets.

Yet there is no word which the German youth uses more often and with greater ardor than the word leadership. Not that, as one might expect from an ambitious younger generation, each wishes to be a leader; no, the common desire is to be led. Since the old hereditary leaders with their crowns and scepters vanished so ignominiously the young German, accustomed as he is to obedience, wants a leadership that rises by its own power. Princes and kings are partly forgotten, partly condemned. All, including the Hitlerite youth, demand leaders who come from the people; and this demand represents a profound, historically significant revolution in the German spirit. Thus, in fact, everything would seem ready for a dictatorship, which essentially would be better suited to the German character than to the Italian.

Nothing is missing except a leader. However, there must be some deep-lying reasons why he does not appear; or, if he does, only in a man like Hitler, that caricature of Mussolini. Many a one who might have achieved leadership, as, for example, General von Seeckt in 1924, did not dare take it over at the deciding moment. I conclude that the centuries have implanted the sense of order and subordination so deep in the German soul that no one has the hardihood to attempt to reach the highest rung at a single bound. The centuries so habituated the military mind to a pyramid with the king at its apex, the supporting blocks rested undisturbed upon one another for so long, that the law of inertia still keeps them where they have been used to lie and only a few have the courage to issue commands on their own. As for the Communists, their dearth of eminent leaders is particularly pronounced. Those German statesmen who have emerged—as, for example, Stresemann or Rathenau—have understood that radical modes of speech can only provoke the powerful foe, and not defeat him.

The confusion is all the greater because the two natural seats of authority, the Church and the family, have lost their power almost entirely. Since the children of middle-class families—whose sons formerly were permitted to study for years, whose daughters used to wait at home until their marriage—now have to support themselves by the time they are 18, they have become as brothers and sisters to their parents, engage in love affairs on their own responsibility, often marry early, divorce quickly and remarry, all without any deep feeling. A remarkable lucidity and coldness which deprive our modern youth of the most precious ecstasies have done away with all amazement and introduced public discussion of the most delicate subjects. One is thunderstruck at the objectivity with which young girls in their clubs or journals discuss problems whose charm lies in their cloak and silence. These girls are proud of that objectivity, and write actual volumes in which they set forth that they no longer need books.

•   •   •

Opposed to this decided lack of personal ardor which characterizes all groups of young Germans is a tendency to romanticism that dominates them more than the youth of other nations. To satisfy this yearning they sacrifice much, especially money—for our boys are by no means avaricious. The poverty of the country and the age, the competition of gainfully employed women force them to go to work early and prevent thousands of students from completing their studies; other thousands reach the founts of knowledge only by means of the most rigorous deprivation, and deserve our sincere admiration. But even the poorest of them pay dues in their clubs, save up for a sport shirt in the prescribed colors, eating dry bread the while; one hears touching details of the willingness to help others found among those who themselves have nothing.

All their longing for organization in groups indicates the genuinely German desire to restore, by uniting on a small scale, a sort of order in their division into a thousand different points of view; at the same time, their finest impulses are developed in the atmosphere of esprit de corps. Never before has German youth had so much esprit de corps as now; though the various parties fight one another to the bitter end they still believe with holy ardor in the justice of their several causes, and within their groups hold together with unswerving loyalty.

This has also become evident through the so-called Vehmic murders, whose idealistic trend is indubitable. A romantic circle is formed for the purpose of destroying the wicked Communists or the wicked Jews or the wicked Hitlerites; the State, the story goes, is too weak to take care of this—we must do it ourselves. Thereupon solemn vows are exchanged, lists are drawn up of opposing party leaders marked out for death, and groups numbering about a hundred feel strong enough to break the Versailles pact. A factor here is the memory of 1813, when students and schoolboys were the first to determine upon throwing off the yoke of Napoleon; in their fanatic enthusiasm these young men overlook the profound difference between the two situations and eras. When a member of such a group then gives away the secret, warning the victim or advising the police, his comrades show no mercy but kill him at once—and in a way we can sympathize with his murderers when they feel themselves to be heroes. The business becomes disgusting only when these young condottieri turn out to be decadent analysts and, like one of Rathenau's assassins, describe in 500 pages, for the sum of five marks, the motives that impelled their deed. Since even our murderers have taken up autobiographic writing public interest has once more turned in the direction of their victims.

Germany's youth, which feels that its sense of honor has been affronted, wants to shake off the heritage of its fathers—an aim that will be immediately understood even abroad. Today its ways are confused and divided, parties fight one another. While the old leaders are derided no great young leaders have been produced so far. The young people are willing to carry their share of the country's work and poverty; but they must be given back that security and order which the German character needs and whose lack is solely responsible for the senseless conspiracies in which they are entangled.

Love having lost its romance, the State its power of conferring showy gifts, art its attraction, only sports remaining to feed the ambition of youth, the young people of Germany would grow even more calm and prudent even today if the world would restore to them the feeling of complete equality which their quite innocent generation may demand from even the bitterest foe of yesterday. Even today the finest German still is romantic by nature, as his poetry and music tell us, and even today he will accept payment in intangible values if they are accompanied by a cordial clasp of the hand.

March 30, 2017

1942. British Bombers Wreak Havoc on Nazi War Industry

The Royal Air Force Launches Assaults Across Europe
An Avro Lancaster flies over Hamburg during World War II (source)
United Press report printed in the Kansas City Kansan in 1942:
Nazi Plants Jumbled by Bomb Attacks

By WILLIAM DOWNS

United Press Staff Correspondent

London, Sunday. — (UP) Daylight assaults by American-built Flying Fortresses and Britain's new 4-motor bombers have snarled German communications from Norway to France and heaped havoc on the heart of the Reich's war industries, the Air Ministry reported today.

A summary of the results of the stepped-up Royal Air Force offensive, synchronized with Russia's stout resistance on the Eastern Front, came after a record-making attack by Flying Fortresses which sped nearly 500 miles across the North Sea yesterday morning and and blasted shipping in the Oslo harbor.

Oslo is 470 miles from the nearest point on the British coast, and the press association said that it represents the longest flight so far undertaken by the huge American-built bombers serving in the RAF.

The Air Ministry said that the RAF's intensified attacks on shipping along the coasts of France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Norway had become so destructive that businessmen were reluctant to send goods to Scandinavia by ships sailing from Dutch ports.

"And these businessmen complain that when they try alternate transport by German railroads they often are told that the railways are overworked and cannot take their goods."

The Air Ministry said that photographs taken after the bombing of the German port and naval base of Emden by a Flying Fortress on July 26 revealed that at least four industrial buildings were completely demolished.

In an RAF attack on Bremen on July 4, several warehouses were completely destroyed and bombs crashed into a new factory building making Junkers-87 bombers, destroying or damaging more than twenty of the new planes.

More than 100 workmen were killed in the Bremen attack, the Air Ministry added, and production was seriously set back. Production of an iron and steel works north of the Dutch harbor of IJmuiden was said to have been curtailed at least by one-third as a result of a daylight raid in which several large buildings were damaged badly as well as blast furnaces.

"Rotterdam harbor, now the great terminus of German coastal shipbuilding, had major daylight attacks on July 16 and August 28 as well as many other attacks by night," the Air Ministry's summary said.

The Wilton shipbuilding yard at Rotterdam, it was added, has been heavily bombed, with great damage to engine shops and other factories.

The Air Ministry said it had many reports of the dislocation of German-operated industries in northern France and along the French coast where power plants and factories have been destroyed as well as mine structures.

March 29, 2017

1943. Indecision on the Donets Front Hurts German Offensive

The German Command's Strategic Failure on the Donets Front
A German Heinkel He 111 bombarding a target on the Eastern Front in 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

April 16, 1943

Russian air experts today came up with an explanation that partly accounts for the "on again, off again" attacks that the German army is making along the Donets River line.

As you know, the German high command on the Donets front for the past several weeks has acted with the indecision of a woman at a hat sale. 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.

Major Vladimir Zemlyanoy, Red Army serial expert, said in Red Star today that the Germans have failed to establish air superiority on this Donets front. Both the Russians and the Germans, he said, are using their aircraft on a broad scale because a concentrated, sustained aerial attack on any one sector would be a waste of effort. Generally speaking, there simply aren't enough bombable targets on the river line.

(Consequently, the Germans—and the Russians as well, for that matter—are using mobile bomber squadrons, throwing large numbers into one sector and then switching to another sector.)

Major Zemlyanoy says that the Germans, by moving their bombers around, are trying to create the illusion that they have blanket bomber coverage of the Donets front. (Mostly the Germans have been using Heinkel 111s on this front. Sometimes they will throw thirty to fifty bombers against one small target, such as a tiny railroad station.)

These mass bomber attacks usually are accompanied by the German "on again, off again" land offensives that last for several days and then die out when they fail.

(It is one of the few instances where air power has governed land forces in this Russian war. Usually it is the other way around. But the Germans have found they don't dare attack without air support, and so) when the German general staff decides to place its mobile bomber squadrons on one sector, it has become a reasonable assumption that there will be a land offensive where they light.

March 28, 2017

1939. William L. Shirer Reports from Germany in the First Week of War

William L. Shirer on the News in Berlin

William L. Shirer

CBS Berlin

September 7, 1939

This is Berlin, William L. Shirer.

There is not much news in Berlin tonight. The evening papers play up exclusively accounts of the big victories against Poland. If Britain and France are doing anything in this war, we certainly don't hear about it here. Not a line in the press this evening about any British or French military action. At the evening press conference at the Wilhelmstraße an hour or so ago we were told nothing new from the Western Front; no confirmation of any fighting there.

To the east, the huge German armies seem to be rolling onward in this one-sided war. I understand tonight that they are only twenty miles from Warsaw, coming from the north, though the press has not published this yet.

The newspaper headlines are all about the same tonight. Here's one from the Nachtausgabe, the biggest of the afternoon papers. Quote: "The Rest of the Polish Corridor Army Destroyed"; "Our Troops Before Toruń and Łódź"; "Westerplatte Garrison Surrenders."

That last item interested me. The Westerplatte is a small island adjoining Danzig where the Polish had a few troops. I thought it surrendered the first day. I remember the first day seeing photographs of it being bombarded by a German warship. But it held out until today, and the official German communiqué speaks of the heroic stand of the Polish garrison.

Now, I get the impression here in Berlin that the people have pretty well recovered from the first shock of Britain and France coming into this war. People thought that, with the two big Western powers in, they would see terrible air raids and relent. But with the best part of the week gone by, at least those in Berlin have seen neither enemy planes nor bombs nor even leaflets, nor have they heard anything about an attack on the West Front. The only war news they've had is about the victorious counterattack—as it's called here—against Poland. I thought the faces of those on the streets were therefore a little bit brighter today. As to the blockade, I don't think the average German has thought about it yet.

There were new decrees today invoking the death penalty or lifelong imprisonment for those guilty of acts endangering the defensive power of the German people. The German Admiralty tonight issued another denial that a German submarine had sunk the Athenia. It stated: "No German submarines were in the vicinity at the time." The press here today, as yet today, continues to accuse Mr. Churchill of sinking the Athenia himself.

The Minister of Interior tonight ordered all of British citizens to report to the police within twenty-four hours, and after that they may not leave town without police permission. But note that the order does not apply to the French. The Germans still seem to put the French on a different footing from the British. I don't know why, but they do.

This is William L. Shirer in Berlin returning you to Columbia in New York.

March 27, 2017

1943. New Soviet Academies Foster Emergence of Military Caste

Suvorov Schools
Red Army soldiers singing a hymn during a military ceremony in February 1943 (source)
In addition to serving as CBS' Moscow correspondent in 1943, Bill Downs submitted reports and occasional articles to Newsweek.

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

From Newsweek, September 27, 1943, pp. 34, 38:
Suvoroff Schools

New Soviet Academies Foster Emergence of Military Caste

One of the most important developments inside Russia since the start of the war has been the gradual emergence of the Red Army as a force that eventually may exercise more power, political and otherwise, than the Communist party itself. What amounts to a regular military caste is slowly being formed. One of the most significant indications of this has been the decision of the Soviet government to establish a chain of schools—called Suvoroff schools after the eighteenth-century military hero—which will train young boys in the profession of arms. The following dispatch from Bill Downs, Newsweek and CBS correspondent, is the first to describe these schools.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 5 special regional commissions have arranged to receive applications for entry into the "Suvoroff schools," which were established last Aug. 22 in a special order by the Council of the People's Commissars and the Communist Party Central Committee.

Purpose: Since this announcement the Suvoroff schools have had wide publicity in the Russian press. 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.

The Red Star, the Red Army journal, explains them thus: "Cadets will get not only a secondary education but also an elementary military education so that upon graduating from these schools they will become Soviet officers. The entire system of education will be organized in such a way that military principles will penetrate into the flesh and blood of the explanatory article about the Czarist schools which the Soviet is copying, said: "Life in closed schools is far away from families and under hard conditions is not easy for the boys until they get accustomed to it. But this life in the schools makes for responsibility and independence from childhood and educates them in strong traditions and true comradeship. The education in these academies gives a wide knowledge, good physical training, will power, tenacity, and a sense of military duty and honor."

"The main defects of the old cadet education were the caste spirit, narrowness of opinions and disdain for all not wearing uniform . . . The new schools have taken the best traditions from the old, but should be free of their defects."

March 26, 2017

1949. The Swedish Red Cross Caught in the Berlin Blockade

The Swedish Red Cross is Denied Access to Food Stores
Spectators watch as a plane flies over during the Berlin airlift, June 1948
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

February 12, 1949

The Russian military government has taken another step in the Berlin Blockade that promises to stir up more indignation among Western sector Germans than any single event in the Berlin crisis thus far.

It was revealed this morning that the Swedish Red Cross has been refused access to stores of food in Russian-controlled East Berlin with which the Swedish relief agency has been providing supplementary meals daily for about 30,000 children living in the blockaded parts of the city. The ban was imposed on the first of this month.

The Swedish Red Cross, which concentrates its aid to children between three and six years old, has been feeding Berlin children in all four sectors of the city.

However, American authorities state today that the Russians have refused the Swedes passage across the city borders even for food for the three to six-year-olds in the American, British, and French sectors. Presumably the meals are still being distributed to the children of the Russian sector.

The American military government is making arrangements to transport the Swedish Red Cross food over the airlift. The irony of the situation is that the project entails only about one ton of food a day, which is no serious hardship to the airlift.

However effective the Soviet blockade has been against Swedish Red Cross food for small children, it most certainly is not one hundred percent effective.

I was stopped on the street the other day by two suspicious looking men who spotted me for an American.

They had two diamond rings they wanted to sell—a one carat diamond; the other weighing a carat and a half. The price was about what it would be in New York, around eight hundred dollars for the smaller one.

The smugglers said the rings were from once-wealthy families in the Russian zone of Germany now down to the last of their family jewels which they must sell in order to live.

When I refused, they said they thought they could get me a mink coat—very fine—but the price: 22,000 West marks, which breaks down to more than seven thousand dollars. No thanks.

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

March 25, 2017

1949. Ruhr Workers Defy British Orders to Dismantle Industry

German Workers Refuse to Dismantle the Bochum Plant
Catholics Day celebrated in Bochum on September 4, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin


January 7, 1949

Several hundred German workers in the Ruhr today are conducting a campaign of civil disobedience against the British military government by refusing to dismantle the giant Bochum steel plant there.

The protest movement began two days ago when the Ruhr dismantling commission ordered that the plant's drop forges section be torn down as part of German war reparations. Local workers refused to report for work, maintaining that they were dismantling themselves out of their jobs.

Yesterday, the British recruited laborers from nearby Essen. But when they started to enter the plant, the Bochum workers formed a human barrier across the gates. No one was allowed to enter.

This morning, reparations officials found that not even Essen laborers would report for work.

The British military government says that later today notices will be posted at the plant and written orders will be handed to the German contractor declaring that the Bochum steel plant is still on the reparations list, that it will be dismantled, and warning that anyone attempting to prevent this work or interfering with the workmen doing the job will be punished in British military courts.

Ruhr authorities say that German police will be used to enforce the order if necessary, but that there is no question of British military police or troops being used. This civil disobedience campaign, while today involves only a few hundred workers, is viewed as a serious portent of what might happen in the future.

There has been a growing protest of the recent decision to put the Ruhr industrial area under international control. There have been numerous other protests over the Allied reparations and restitution commission which has been attempting to destroy Germany's war industries.

With Ruhr production being incorporated into the European Recovery Plan, any disaffection among German workers there is a serious thing.

The Western Powers have a delicate problem on their hands. At the same time, the Allies must make sure that the Ruhr will never again become the core of German arms manufacturing.

It's the $64 billion question in Germany today—one that daily is becoming more complex.

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

March 24, 2017

1943. Nazi Assault on Izium is Repelled

Wehrmacht and Red Army Soldiers Face Off at the Donets
Soviet soldiers providing cover for reconnaissance troops as they cross the Donets River in Ukraine, May 30, 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

April 8, 1943

The Red Army has scored a defensive victory over the German forces attempting to take the river and railroad town of Izium. This victory doesn't compare with the immense achievements of the Russian winter offensive, but nevertheless it is of extreme importance as a measure of the relative strengths of the opposing forces now linked up on opposing sides of the Donets River.

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. The Red Army is using this railroad to supply its forces all along the left bank of the river.

Although this fighting was on a narrow sector, it was an all-out German attempt to secure local superiority and create a bridgehead which would outflank the Soviet troops holding the river to the north. The Red Army still holds a narrow strip of defenses on the right bank. (Large numbers of fighters and bombers participated. The land forces attacked night and day, supported by tanks and mobile artillery. The fighting was exceedingly bitter.)

During these battles for the Izium crossing the Germans tried everything in the book, but they couldn't overcome the stubborn Red Army resistance—the kind of resistance which was marked by one counterattack after another.

Yesterday the Germans gave up, for the time being at least. They ceased their attacks. And this morning the Russian communiqué announced that it was the Soviet troops and not the Germans who succeeded in taking advantageous positions from the enemy.

More importantly, a summary of the German losses in the past five days for the Izium crossing is significant. Over 2,500 Nazi soldiers were killed, thirty-seven tanks were knocked out, and twenty guns, including many of the self-propelling type, were smashed. Also there was a large number of machine guns, armored cars, and over a dozen planes put out of action.

In many ways this is the best fighting news we've had since the official completion of the Red Army's winter offensive at the end of March. It proves two things: first, that the Soviet forces which retreated to the Donets line during the German counteroffensive still pack a punch, which is a constant worry to the Nazi command; and second, that whatever Hitler is planning for this summer, he is going to have to consider the possibilities of a Russian summer offensive.

With the possibility of a second front on his mind, Hitler must be doing some tall thinking right now.

March 23, 2017

1929. The Nature of Dictatorships

The Future of Authoritarianism in Europe
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 1929, diplomat and academic William Rappard spoke about the postwar dictatorships and their leaders in Europe. The New York Times published an abridged version, with a preface included:
Dictators wield a great power in the Europe of today; the total of dictatorships on the Continent is now at nine. Does this mean, as many political observers have said, that the effect of the war has been the suppression of democracy and the aggrandizement of dictatorships? An eloquent answer to the question was made by William E. Rappard at the current meeting of the Institute of Politics at Williamstown. The article that follows is made up of extracts from his address.

Mr. Rappard is a Doctor of Law and professor at the University of Geneva. From 1911-13 he was Assistant Professor of Political Economy at Harvard. During 1920-24 he was Director of the Mandates Section of the League of Nations and from 1925 to 1929 a member of the League's Permanent Mandates Commission.
From The New York Times, August 18, 1929:
THE FUTURE OF EUROPE'S NINE DICTATORSHIPS

Professor Rappard Contends That While Autocratic Methods of Government May Now Be Necessary And Wholesome They Will in Time Yield to the Greater Freedom of Democratic Institutions

By WILLIAM E. RAPPARD

That there are dictatorships in contemporaneous Europe is an undoubted fact. And that democracy is undergoing a crisis in Europe as elsewhere no one will deny. But to declare that the European dictatorships are symptoms of this crisis is to assume that democracy prevailed yesterday where they triumph today, an assumption as groundless as it is fallacious.

In those parts of Europe where democracies can be said fairly to have been established, i.e., Great Britain, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, and the Scandinavian countries, not only are there no dictatorships, but dictatorships would be as unlikely and as unwelcome as, say, effective prohibition in New York, or militant atheism in Tennessee.

On the other hand, if we examine the countries in which political liberties have been suspended or suppressed, we shall be led to certain definite conclusions.

Before doing so, may we be allowed to state explicitly that we are not in the least actuated by the desire to make a case for or against any given form of political organization. We shall on the contrary, rely only on the evidence of obviously undeniable facts. And we trust that in dealing with this highly delicate subject, we may avoid offending any national susceptibilities.

The countries in which more or less full-fledged dictatorships have been set up in Europe since the war, and in which they prevail today are, setting them in their geographical order from west to east: Portugal, Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Albania, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and the Soviet Union.

Nine Dictatorships Here

The first conclusion to be drawn from this enumeration is a negative one. Dictatorships can clearly not be correlated either with geographical position, population, area, newness of statehood, or with any particular form of constitutional government. Of the nine States under dictatorships, some are large and some are small. Some are densely and others sparsely populated. Two dictatorships prevail in countries whose frontiers have not changed since the war; at least four in States which may be said to have retained their former political identity; five in monarchies, and four in republics.

In all nine cases, however, dictatorships can be correlated directly or indirectly with war and its social, financial and political consequences. The problems of government in post-war Europe are infinitely more varied and more difficult than they were in pre-war days, when the traditional constitutional theories and practices had been adopted and worked out. It was because in some countries these theories and practices, as applied by the available personnel, appeared ill-adapted to the solution of the problems, that dictatorships arose. This is so well known that it needs no further elaboration.

Furthermore, dictatorships are very clearly correlated also, and this has not to my knowledge ever been pointed out, with the economic structure of the countries involved.

If we arrange the States of Europe in the order of relative importance of the proportion of the gainfully employed population which is engaged in agriculture, we shall have the following table:
These figures are taken from the United States Commerce Year Book, 1928, Vol. II, Foreign Countries, and from Die Wirtschaft des Auslandes 1920-1927, Bearbeitet im Statistischen Reichsamt, Berlin, 1928.

Statisticians will be unanimous in questioning these figures as to their absolute accuracy and as to their international comparability. No one will deny, however, that they are more than sufficiently reliable in both of these respects to justify the statement that dictatorships have been established in Europe since the war only in countries still predominantly agricultural. The omission of Albania from the above table, owing to the entire absence of even approximate statistics, certainly does not weaken or limit the scope of the generalization. That interesting but backward country is probably the most strictly agricultural State in Europe.

Political Liberty Urban

How is the above table to be interpreted? Surely not to the effect that agriculture is the economic synonym for political dictatorship. Nothing would warrant, and the figures shown would disprove rather than confirm, such a simple conclusion. But they do point to a certain correlation between the two terms. The true inference is less that peasants love tyranny and favor dictators than that political liberty may, by and large, be considered to be essentially a product of urban life and of all that city dwelling implies in terms of social instability and in possibilities of individual enlightenment and collective organization.

If the chief aim of government is to maintain public order while allowing the greatest possible measure of individual freedom compatible with it, there is bound to be everywhere a certain conflict between order and freedom. Now, in this conflict of ideals it may, I believe, be held that, in Europe at least, the ideal of order is more stressed in the country and that of freedom in the city. That is shown, for instance, by the fact that rural populations are more often and more generally conservative than urban communities. On the other hand, history teaches that a large measure of political freedom is compatible with the reign of order only at a given stage of social evolution, which is rarely attained under predominantly agricultural conditions.

European dictatorships have as a rule been established in rural countries which, having borrowed political and parliamentary institutions from their more advanced industrial neighbors, found them ill-adapted to their post-war needs. As it was obviously impossible, nor perhaps deemed desirable, to hasten the course of social evolution so as to adapt the state of the people to the exigencies of liberal institutions, national interest demanded that the institutions be adapted to the state of the people. This involved the necessity of a political reaction which is hardly conceivable except under dictatorial conditions.

Such is, as I see it, the general explanation of the rise of all the new European dictatorships, except one. Whether established by former Socialists as in Italy and Poland, by military men as in Spain and Portugal, or by leading rulers and statesmen as in Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania and Lithuania, in spite of all the considerable local differences, these dictatorships have much in common. Their professed aim is always the protection of national interests and the promotion of national ambitions, declared to be threatened by internal disorder, license, incompetence, political dishonesty, as well as by external hostility. And their methods, the substitution of executive decision for parliamentary discussion, are always more or less frankly and drastically illiberal and undemocratic.

The general tendency of all these dictatorships is reactionary, in that they tend to suppress or limit the rights and liberties of the people, which it has been the boast of the last 150 years to proclaim and establish. But they may also lay claim to being progressive, and they may even justify that claim in so far as they succeed in actually enhancing the efficiency of government and thereby improving at least the material conditions of life in their respective countries.

May Be a Blessing

Although the Russian dictatorship presents in its spirit and methods many curious analogies with those established in other parts of Europe, it is in essence in a class by itself. Its program is social, not national; its tendencies revolutionary, not reactionary; its aims, not the maintenance and establishment of political order, but the creation of a new social order. Therefore, in contrast to the other dictatorships, it is supported by the towns and not by the country. However, as all dictatorships, that of the proletariat would be difficult to conceive in an advanced urban community. There the number, culture and influence of those would be too great who, valuing individual freedom above all other civic good, were prepared and able to defend their rights against even the most masterful, the most ruthless or the most patriotic autocrat.

Political cynics have often pointed, not without satisfaction, to the fact that one of the most important results of a war professedly waged to make the world safe for democracy has been to suppress democracy and to favor the establishment of dictatorships. At the risk of differing with political cynics and of spoiling their self-complacency—always a doubly perilous undertaking—I must, as already indicated above, point out that this is a fallacy. What the war has destroyed is not democracy, neither its spirit and its ideals, which have on the contrary been strengthened, nor its institutions, where they really functioned.

What the war has done away with in several countries, whose economic and social structure was not yet such that the people could be ripe for the responsibilities of democracy, is a superficial appearance and a popular delusion. And the present dictatorships may well be a blessing in disguise for democracy itself, both in dispelling from within the confusion which the nineteenth century undoubtedly created between true democracy and pseudo-democratic institutions, and in challenging the former from without. It is only if democracy failed to meet this challenge that its doom would be sealed.

This the future only can decide, but can be relied on to decide conclusively. It is obvious that in this competitive world the law of the survival of the fittest applies as well to political forms as to biological species. Although it may seem idle, it is always tempting and sometimes suggestive to speculate about the future. For my part, I cannot but look upon the present European dictatorships as most interesting, as perhaps wholesome and necessary, but always as essentially temporary phenomena. My main reasons for this view are twofold:

In the first place, permanent dictatorship implies either an immortal dictator or an infallible method of choosing his successor. Now dictators, although usually young on assuming power, are not immortal. They are, in fact, for obvious reasons, rather less so than ordinary mortals.

On the other hand, the problem of succession has never been satisfactorily solved, even by the most brilliant dictators of history. The hereditary principle could perpetuate a dictatorship only if it could be relied upon to bestow upon the sons of dictators both the very exceptional personal gifts and the very extraordinary political circumstances, thanks to the combination of which their fathers were able to create their own position. Such an achievement could not be expected except by the intervention of Providence. And it is not at a time when Europe, as we have seen, unanimously dismissed all its former kings by divine right, that it is likely to bow to the authority of dictators by divine right.

The choice of successors by their predecessors, or by bodies set up by the latter, is not more promising. It is a noticeable fact that even the strongest dictators, in fact especially the strongest, seldom tolerate strong personalities about them. This being so, and as admittedly it takes an uncommonly strong personality to be a successful dictator, it is difficult to conceive how he is by dictatorial choice to be selected.

If, finally, the people are to select their own dictator—a method to which none of the present incumbents owe their position—the result would in fact be a democratic republic and certainly not anything resembling the regime we are discussing. Nations may at certain crises in their development need dictators. They hardly ever desire them. That is why even those autocrats who most insistently claim that they faithfully represent their people's real preference are careful never to expose their authority to the test of a free and sincere popular election.

Besides this internal and technical reason which leads me to doubt of the possibilities of permanent dictatorships in the modern world, there is another historic reason which, as I see it, is of a more general and more decisive nature still.

It is surely not an accident that, as we have noted, the dictatorships of Europe should all have been established in predominantly rural and agricultural countries. Now the world in general and Europe in particular are from generation to generation, and almost from year to year, becoming less rural and less agricultural. With the growth of urban civilization and all that it brings with it in the way of progressive public instruction, developed critical faculties, enhanced love of freedom and intolerance of intolerance, the areas on which dictatorships can flourish seem destined to become narrower and narrower. Except during temporary crises, such as wars and revolutions or threats of war and revolution, when even the most enlightened and most independent recognize and submit to the necessity of authoritarian leadership and of political restrictions, democracy in Europe will, I believe, definitely and generally triumph over dictatorship.
Revolution in Society

This view implies neither satisfaction with democratic government as at present constituted nor blindness to the dangers to which it is exposed and to which it may give rise. These dangers I see far less in the assaults of dictatorships from without than in the internal difficulties of legislation and administration. The complications of government, both domestic and international, are, with the progress of wealth, of economic technique and of non-political organization, increasing at a rate that is truly alarming. In the race between the art of statesmanship on the one hand and the social forces which the State is called upon to control on the other, the latter often seem to outstrip the former.

While voters, parties, Parliaments and governments are debating such matters as the budget, the tariff, national defense and State insurance, society is being revolutionized by factors much more important and quite beyond the control of voters, parties, Parliaments and governments. New technical discoveries and inventions are being made; new tastes and fashions are springing up; new secret and often international agreements are being concluded between politically irresponsible financiers and industrialists, which, by changing the course of trade and modifying the price level, by creating unemployment here and by accumulating wealth there, affect the well-being of the individual and the future of the race much more vitally than any decisions governments may make.

That, as I see it, is the real reason for what is often alluded to as the crisis of democracy even in the most advanced countries and those least threatened by dictatorships. Doubtless the State has never been and can never be entirely supreme. Attempts brutally to subject all manifestations of social activity to its rule, such as the world has witnessed in the Soviet Union since 1918, must either fail of their purpose or result in general ruin. But as the power of man over nature is increasing on a constantly shrinking, ever more densely populated globe, social control is becoming more necessary, and social control through the State more difficult.

The problems thus arising are not peculiar to one continent alone. But they are particularly acute in Europe, on account of the density of its population—a density roughly twice as great as that of Asia and ten times as great as that of America—and on account of the multiplicity of its so-called sovereign and independent States. That is also why, in Europe, international cooperation, which is but one form of political control of social forces, is exceptionally important for the well-being of its people and for the peace of the world.

In no period of the known history of this Continent have there been so many conferences, agreements, conventions, and treaties intended to regulate the international relations of its constituent parts as there have been in the brief space of the last ten years. This change has been so striking that, even if we knew nothing of the other causes to which it is to be attributed, we could not explain it merely by the constitution of seven or eight new States.

The fact is that the World War directly and indirectly created many new wants and needs which cannot be satisfied except by international cooperation. Some of them, such as the adjustments required by new frontiers, are doubtless of a temporary character. Most of them, however, being the result of a more keenly felt solidarity, are more likely to prove permanent. The fear of a renewal of war and the desire to combat its possible causes by pacific agreement have raised to the international plane many problems which were formerly considered to be of purely domestic concern.

Policies of Autocrats

Thus the multiplication of sovereign States has intensified and widened the scope of the internationalization of Europe. The rise of republicanism and the emergence of dictatorships have contributed to modify its methods.

The autocrat, especially if he must rely for his authority on his popularity with the most active, restless and articulate of his followers, is apt to appeal constantly, insistently and passionately to national pride. His foreign policy is therefore apt to be nationalistic and dynamic in spirit.

Whether he will it or not, it is also always a danger of becoming bellicose, because nothing so violently stirs up the sentiment of nationality and so effectively silences the murmurings and criticism of internal opposition as the prospect of war, unless it be the reality of war.

As for his methods, the autocrat will naturally prefer to deal with foreign powers one by one rather than to meet them collectively, and he will prefer secret negotiations to "open covenants openly arrived at." Why? Because an autocrat naturally desires and often needs sudden and spectacular triumphs, and naturally loathes and often fears long-drawn-out public discussions necessarily ending in compromise and mutual concession. Secret negotiations with individual powers, especially if they be weaker, may give rise to real diplomatic victories.

When truly successful, such negotiations may with impunity be heralded abroad as masterpieces of Machiavellian skill, if no time is lost over final signatures and ratifications. And powerful autocrats may both practice themselves and impose on their partners great expedition in these matters. When only partly successful, such negotiations may be presented as minor triumphs and, when unsuccessful, entirely hushed up.
None of these possibilities exist when a considerable number of national delegations meet around a table to settle important matters of general interest. Multilateral negotiations, never secret and proverbially slow, cannot give rise to dramatic national victories. If in the course of the debate one of the negotiating parties is so fortunate as to secure more than its due share of concessions, it must be very discreet about its successes for fear of preventing ratification by the other parties and thereby depriving itself of the fruits of its diplomatic victory.

The constituency of a democratic leader is the people as a whole. It is not, as that of past monarchs, the army and the bureaucracy, nor as that of most modern dictators, a group of particularly restless and noisy patriots. What the people as a whole, that is those who respond to the roll-call of universal suffrage, and their representatives demand of their chiefs in the conduct of foreign affairs is not so much national prestige and glory as international security and welfare.

In every Parliament the extreme Right, where dictators usually find their most ardent if not always their earliest supporters, is confronted with and usually outnumbered by moderate, progressive and radical parties, which are almost everywhere less nationalistically inclined.

Democracy More Open

Furthermore, the democratic leader is apt to be much less his own master than is an autocrat, in point of historic fact as well as by definition. Being dependent on the support of many others, and often of a great variety of others, he is both less tempted and less able to resort to secrecy, and more attracted by methods which permit a continuous appeal to public opinion. He is, of course, not systematically averse to discreet negotiations and to bilateral agreements, nor always reluctant to indulge in intrigue and bluff. On the whole, however, he often finds the methods of the new, that is of open, public and multilateral diplomacy, better suited to his own political tastes and interests than the autocrat.

Whatever the truth or error of these somewhat abstract considerations, whose only purpose is to explain the correlation between internal and external policies, one thing is certain: such a correlation is undeniable in the recent experience of Europe. The statesmen who have most persistently and most successfully practiced the new diplomacy, whether it be within or without the framework of the League of Nations, without a single exception, have been representatives of democratic States. Such names as the following prove it more convincingly than the thoroughest scientific demonstration: Léon Bourgeois, Herriot, Briand, MacDonald, Balfour, Chamberlain, Stresemann, Vandervelde, Beneš, Branting, Nansen and Motta.

Republican Institutions

And on the other hand, the aloofness from the public councils of the world of the new European dictators, and often their undisguised hostility to the new spirit and to the new methods of international intercourse, may well serve as a counter-proof. It is surely not a mere coincidence, to quote but one example, that the only two European States who, while members of the Council of the League of Nations, have never been represented thereon by their Prime or Foreign Ministers, are Italy and Spain.

We have seen above that perhaps the most significant incident in the recent political history of Europe has been the unprecedented spread of republican institutions. Although all the new republics are constitutionally based on the principle of popular sovereignty as expressed by universal, free and secret suffrage, they are not at all, in fact, democracies. It is certain, however, that, taken as a whole, they are far more liberal than the autocratic empires from which they sprang. And it is at least probable that even where subjected to dictatorships, whose rule we cannot look upon as permanent, they offer far more scope for the future development of democracy.

We may conclude, therefore, that in so far as the trend of international cooperation in Europe is influenced by internal political developments, it tends toward greater and more active intimacy between an increased number of sovereign States, and toward more openness, publicity and universality in an atmosphere of wider republican freedom.

March 22, 2017

1949. The Blockade Nears an End as Germany's Division Solidifies

Changing Political Fates
A crowd listens to speakers in front of the Reichstag in Berlin, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 24, 1949

It was just about four years ago today that the Russian army entered Berlin. At that time, the capture of the Nazi capital was a symbol of German collapse.

The political fates have been fickle, and today Berlin stands as the symbol of German resistance against the country that brought about its downfall.

Somehow one gets the feeling here that in a few centuries from now historians will write: "The civilization of 1949 was a most confused and foolish one."

Tomorrow may be the day we know for sure when and if Europe will see the formation of a new democratic nation. West German politicians are scheduled to meet with the American, French, and British military governors to find if an agreement has been reached on a constitution for the West German state.

The next few days also should tell whether or not there is anything to the rumors that the Russian plan to lift their blockade of the city as a measure to frustrate the establishment of a new government in West Germany.

There have been a lot of second thoughts about what would happen if the blockade were lifted here. Outside of opening up the road and rail supply routes, the face of Berlin would not be much changed.

There would still be two city governments—the Communist-dominated administration of East Berlin, and the popularly elected government of the Western sectors. There would still be two currencies: the East mark and the West mark.

And the airlift would continue to operate on a reduced scale, for until the East-West dispute over Germany is settled, any blockade that the Soviet Union might lift as a policy expedient can be clamped back on again without warning.

The Russian zone newspaper Neues Deutschland this morning comments on the war in China. "The crossing of the Yangtze," the Communist-dominated paper says, "not only means the end of the Kuomintang regime, it also is the end of the power of the dollar in China." The paper concludes: "The United States will never win in Western Europe what they lost in China."

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

March 21, 2017

1940. Churchill Becomes Prime Minister, Reports Edward R. Murrow

Neville Chamberlain Resigns

Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

May 10, 1940

This is London.

History has been made too fast over here today. First, in the early hours this morning came the news of the British unopposed landing in Iceland. Then the news of Hitler's triple invasion came rolling into London, climaxed by the German air bombing of five nations. British mechanized troops lassoed across the frontier into Belgium.

Then, at nine o'clock tonight, a tired old man spoke to the nation from Number 10 Downing Street. He sat behind a big oval table in a Cabinet room where so many fateful decisions have been taken during the three years that he has directed the policy of His Majesty's government.

Neville Chamberlain announced his resignation. Mr. Chamberlain's announcement of his resignation was entirely impersonal. Many people consider that it was the best speech he has ever made.

Winston Churchill, who has held more political offices than any living man, is now Prime Minister. He's a man without a party. For the last seven years he has sat in the House of Commons a rather lonesome and often bellicose figure, voicing unheeded warnings of the rising tide of German military strength. Now, at the age of sixty-five, Winston Churchill—plump, bald, with massive round shoulders—is for the first time in his varied career of journalist, historian, and politician the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Mr. Churchill now takes over the supreme direction of Britain's war effort at a time when the war is rapidly moving toward Britain's doorstep.

Mr. Churchill's critics have said that he is inclined to be impulsive and at times vindictive. But in the tradition of British politics he will be given his chance. He will probably take chances, but if he brings victory his place in history is assured. The historians will have to devote more than a footnote to this remarkable man no matter what happens.

He enters office with the tremendous advantage of being the man who was right. He also has the advantage of being the best broadcaster in this country. Mr. Churchill can inspire confidence, and he can preach a doctrine of hate that is acceptable to the majority of this country. That may be useful during these next few months.

Winston Churchill has never been known for his caution, and when he has completed the formation of a new government you may expect this country to live dangerously.

Hitler has said that the action begun yesterday will settle the future of Germany for a thousand years. Mr. Churchill doesn't deal in such periods of time. But the decisions reached by this new Prime Minister, with his boyish grin and his puckish sense of humor, may well determine the outcome of this war.

I return you now to Columbia in New York.

March 20, 2017

World War III: "Moscow Olympics" by Red Smith

Moscow Olympics
"Held in Russia's capital, first in 12 years, drew athletes of 78 nations, signaled world brotherhood and good will." Art by Fred Banbery in Collier's magazine, October 27, 1951, p. 41
In 1951, Collier's magazine published a special issue, entitled "Preview of the War We Do Not Want," which speculated 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. Writer Robert E. Sherwood provided an extensive history of the war, writing "The most unnecessary, most senseless and deadliest war in history—the third World War—reached the shooting stage at exactly 1:58 p. m. G.M.T., Saturday, May 10, 1952."

A number of other notable figures contributed fictional reports and stories about the war and its history, including Edward R. Murrow, Hal Boyle, Walter Reuther, Marguerite Higgins, Walter Winchell, Kathryn Morgan-Ryan, Allan Nevins, Hanson W. Baldwin, Oksana Kasenkina, Lowell Thomas, Harry Schwartz, Margaret Chase Smith, Erwin Canham, John Savage, and Arthur Koestler.

Here, sportswriter Red Smith writes about the 1960 Moscow Olympics, the first games held since 1948.

From Collier's magazine, October 27, 1951, pp. 41, 123:
Moscow Olympics

By RED SMITH

Red Smith, one of America's greatest sports writers, has arrived in Russia to report the 1960 Moscow Olympic games for Collier's. Here is his first dispatch, radioed just prior to the start of the games

Moscow, 1960

Three weeks hence, the world will demonstrate that real peace has arrived. It will be heralded by 90,000 voices cheering in concert in Moscow's monstrous Dynamo Stadium, by strident sounds of bickering in the council room of the International Olympic Committee, by shouts of triumph and cries of disappointment and the angry gnashing of coachly teeth throughout this fortunate capital.

In an Olympic year, these are the noises of international comity, world brotherhood and universal good will.

On July 22d, seventh anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Kremlin, the muscular delegates of 78 nations will open the thirteenth quadrennial carnival of the modern series of Olympic games. Quadrennial? That's what the book says, but the calendar tells another story.

Back in the autumn of 1951, the Scandinavian Airlines ferried a consignment of American sports writers to Helsinki to show what preparations that optimistic city was making to conduct the Olympics of 1952. Fifteen years of planning and hundreds of millions of Finnish marks already had been expended on the project; Helsinki's great Olympic stadium had stood empty for a dozen years, a monument of discouragement.

For as early as 1936, when Hitler's Berlin was host to the games, Finland had sought the privilege of staging the 1940 show. Instead, Tokyo got the assignment, only to sink hip-deep in a war in China and relinquish its claims, so that Helsinki was elected after all. But scarcely had the Finns completed their 70,000-seat stadium, when World War II rendered international track meets unpopular.

London got the games when they were finally resumed in 1948, and at that time Helsinki was tapped to be host in 1952. Once again Finland got ready, and once again the world was plunged into war when, two months before the entertainment was scheduled to start, Petrovic and Borlic, the Kremlin's assassins, pitched their high hard ones at Tito's head in Belgrade and our long-smoldering planet burst into flames.

This summer's games, therefore, are the first in the Olympic series since 1948. There is more than that to distinguish them, however. Never before in world history has this sweaty extravaganza represented what it stands for this summer. Never before, not even in the fondest imaginings of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern games, has the carnival symbolized so vividly the hope of mankind.

When World War I was over and the 1920 Olympics went to Antwerp, Belgium and her allies specifically barred their late enemies, Germany and Austria, from participation. In 1948 the sores of World War II still festered; neither Germany nor Japan was invited. This time the world has done better than merely accept a defeated aggressor on terms of absolute equality with all other competitors. This time the Russian people, five years after the Soviets were overthrown, are in fact the host to whom all the rest of us make our manners.

There have been no payments of reparations, no trials of war criminals. This time the nations are trying to live together and play together.

Pending final word from a few outlying precincts, it is expected that about 7,000 athletes, perhaps 2,000 more than any such gathering has hitherto seen, will take part in the opening ceremonies in the stadium. There will be much that is familiar, much that is novel, about these ceremonies.

As always, the Grecian delegation will lead the march into the stadium and down the track past the box occupied by members of the Provisional Russian Government. As the original Olympic nation, Greece always has first place. It has been the custom for nations to follow in alphabetical order, from Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. The custom has been revised. This time second place has been accorded to Finland, in recognition of that nation's gracious gesture in permitting this carnival to come to Moscow instead of Helsinki.

Next comes gallant Yugoslavia, whose heroic resistance against the Reds' initial assault ultimately led to the destruction of the Iron Curtain. Thereafter, the alphabetical rule will be observed—except that Russia will parade last, as the host always does.

When these games were being arranged, there was agitation in favor of erasing all national lines. It was urged that the athletes be grouped according to their events, without regard to nationality—that the sprinters, swimmers, distance runners, weight lifters and so on of all countries march by groups under the massed flags of all competing nations.

General Omar Bradley, who retired from his defense post in 1956, and who is now president of the International Olympic Committee, knocked that proposal on the head. "In our enthusiasm for internationalism," he said, reporting the committee's decision, "we must not make love of country a shameful thing."

So the athletes will be marshaled on the field under their own flags—although one innovation is a standardized Olympic uniform bearing the five-ringed symbol and the name of the nation the athlete represents. And when their ranks are formed, the Olympic torch will arrive. A week ago an olive-wood brand was lighted by the rays of the sun in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia in Greece. Relays of Boy Scouts are lugging the sacred fire across the Continent as this is written.

When the holy fire arrived in London in 1948, it was borne into Wembley Stadium by one John Mark, a Cambridge blue, chosen for the role because he was tall and blond and handsome, the superb English version of a Greek god. The guy picked to haul the torch into Dynamo Stadium is a small, swart, wiry, tough, young man of eighteen, named Nikolai Sayanov.

•   •   •

Nikolai is an alumnus of the Bezprizorniye, the horde of lawless youngsters who ran wild in postwar Russia until the United Nations was able to effect rehabilitation by shipping them abroad. Young Sayanov was sent to Australia, learned much about sheep ranching there, and has come back home to help produce wool for Russia.

He was selected as the Olympic torch-bearer not because of any athletic prowess, but because he epitomizes the new Russia—tough of spirit and hard of sinew, small stature but great in promise. Introduced to the press yesterday, he sat on a desk in the headquarters of the Russian Organizing Committee and gabbed away breezily in the splendid Cockney speech which some Australians manage so much better than any Limehouse spiv. The informality of the interview delighted newsmen who remembered the 1948 Olympics, when they had to have an appointment to meet the press agent for the games.

If Nikolai Sayanov is a symbol of the new order, so is the man who will take the historic Olympic oath after Nikolai has circled the track and climbed to the peristyle and flung his torch into the big concrete birdbath where the Olympic flame is to burn throughout the games.

Customarily, the oath has been taken by some over-age athlete who represented the host nation in an earlier Olympic competition. Russia, however, has no athletes with Olympic experience, for the Communists never were willing to play with other nations and run the risk of defeat. So Russia has asked Yugoslavia to send the father of Maria Serdic—the eight-year-old child who, standing near Tito, became the first victim of World War III—to take the oath.

This is pure symbolism, meant to dramatize Russia's break with the past and her determination to let bygones be bygones.

That's about all there'll be to the first day's ceremonies. The Russians aren't going in for the fancy trimmings that have attended other openings. They will not, for instance, commandeer half the pigeons in the country and turn 'em loose over the stadium, as London did in 1948. After the postwar years of famine, Russia has a better use for squab.

Food has been a matter of concern to Organizing Committee since the plan first was broached to bring the games here. Like many English in 1948, many Russians felt it was foolish for a nation that had been hungry so long to take on the responsibility of feeding 7,000 athletes and 100,000 tourists from abroad. To the Russian people as a whole, however, this opportunity to play host to the world means that Russia has at long last taken her rightful place in the world community. If it also has meant making sacrifices, they have made them cheerfully.

To the visitor, living conditions here seem surprisingly good. True, he eats fish instead of sirloin, takes herring instead of eggs at breakfast and does not ask for cream in his coffee because Russia's milk supply belongs to Russia's children. Prices are high, as they are everywhere, but there is no evidence of an active black market. A few posh restaurants and dining clubs, serving a limited clientele because their supplies are limited, manage on occasion to produce such special items as kavkazki shashlyk, morsels of broiled lamb packed on spits. Bread is plentiful and so is vodka.

For the visiting athletes, Moscow will not be able to produce the exotic dishes of their native lands. There will be substantial vittles for all, though. Probably the United States representatives will fare best. Charley Ornstein, the old Olympic miler on the American committee, has done the same great job he did in 1948, when he shipped our team in London supplies of American meats, fruits and frozen vegetables.

Berlin built two Olympic villages in 1936 to house the men and women athletes. Helsinki was doing the same in 1940. London in 1948 lacked time for new construction and had to quarter competitors over a wide area, from Wimbledon to Henley and the military academy at Sandhurst. With the prefabricated materials flown in by UNIHOPE, Moscow has erected model villages for all the performers.

Nonathletic tourists are, of course, on their own. Those who cannot find or do not wish to pay for limited hotel accommodations will discover unlimited invitations to lodge in private homes at modest prices. Already the advance guard of visitors is in town. They walk the streets and gawk at the leveled places—now neatly cleared—where buildings stood before the A-bomb fell.

Russians stare at the visitors with the same frank curiosity the visitors show. These people never really saw tourists before this summer. The Iron Curtain kept strangers out before the war. Since then, foreigners have been numerous, but always uniformed.

Moscow has been wearing party dress for weeks. Everywhere the eye turns are the flags of all nations, topped by the Russian tricolor of white, blue and red which has replaced the hammer and sickle, and by the five-ringed Olympic banner.

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The papers concede that the big team from the United States probably will carry off a major share of honors, as usual. American supremacy is acknowledged in her home-grown game of basketball, in the flat races from 100 to 800 meters, in the hurdles and pole vault, and in women's swimming competition.

There has been wide speculation concerning the chances of George Robinson, young cousin of the Brooklyn Dodgers' veteran manager, Jackie Robinson, becoming the first American to sweep the sprints and broad jump since Jesse Owens won the 100-meter, the 200-meter and the jump in Berlin. Young Robinson, although he has yet to set foot on Russian soil, already is considered almost a demigod here.

Russians are confident that they will have their first Olympic champions in good proportion. They were going to compete for the first time in Helsinki and they expected to win some events; indeed, Stalin had given direct orders to his representatives—to win, or else. Some of the men who might have won in 1952 are dead, as are so many of our finest. But Russia has a formidable array of weight throwers, wrestlers and weight lifters, and the world's most famous soccer team.

Also, the brawny Russian girls are considered the class of the ladies' track-and-field detachment. Not since Holland's strapping Hausfrau, Mrs. Fanny Blankers-Koen, won three medals in London has there been a woman champion to compare with Maroosya Klyachko, Kiev machinist.

Russia expects to score heavily in the equestrian events and it is considered a foregone conclusion that the walking competition at 10,000 and 50,000 meters will go to Moscow's Pyotr Gromyko. He would be the first heel-and-toe specialist to score a double since Ugo Frigerio, of Italy, won at 3,000 meters and 10,000 meters in 1920.

Japanese swimmers, Scandinavian distance runners, Czech gymnasts, British, German and American oarsmen are rated tops.

Only by incantation and sorcery could one predict what records will be broken. Some surely must go in this greatest sports production of world history. It seems impossible that Earle Meadows' twenty-four-year-old pole-vault mark of 14 feet 3% inches could survive. Last time Olympians gathered, only one man in the world had cleared 15 feet. A dozen or more have done it since.

In 1948, the four-minute mile was a dream. In the last three years, the magic figure has been surpassed three times, by a Finn, by a Swede, by a Belgian. The Olympic record of 3 minutes 47 8/10 seconds for the 1,500 (the metric mile) is almost certainly a dead duck.

Inevitably, there will be disputes and debates, wrangling and bickering, protests and disqualifications. It wouldn't be the Olympics without such. But maybe that sort of furor is a healthy thing. It is the voice of a friendly world at play. And it has been so long since there was time for play. — THE END