June 30, 2017

1945. Wehrmacht Collapsing After Battle of the Bulge

Enemy Traffic Moves Eastward
The 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade moves into the Dutch village of Sint Joost alongside Churchill Crocodile flamethrower tanks, January 20, 1945 (source)
From The People, January 28, 1945:
ALLIES CLEANING UP WITHOUT A FIGHT
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Huns Hasten Trek From West Front

Strange things are happening on the Western Front. Along many sectors of the line the Germans are giving up without a fight territory for which they had previously battled with the utmost venom.

At the same time, the stream of enemy traffic moving eastward is increasing in volume and extending deep into Germany.

In the foulest possible weather, says yesterday's despatches from the front, our planes went up to have a look at this great German trek to the east. This is what they saw:

To the north of the Ruhr Wehrmacht forces were rolling northeast by road and rail in broad daylight.

The great marshaling yards at Hamm, the funnel for traffic to central Germany, were working at full blast. "If anything, commented a spokesman at Allied H.Q., "the retreat from Hamm is increasing."

Further east, Tempest reconnaissance planes spotted the same enemy troop movements as far as Osnabrück and Bremen.

It was a disappointing day for our battle planes. In heavy cloud conditions and bad visibility only 150 sorties could be flown, but they destroyed 13 locomotives and damaged 18.

The Luftwaffe did practically nothing to protect the jam of traffic. An RAF spokesman said that apparently German fighter planes had also been moved east to counter the Russian offensive.

In the seven-days German exodus from the Ardennes bulge they suffered a mauling reminiscent of Falaise, 7,300 rail and road vehicles being destroyed or damaged.

Meanwhile the Germans have done little to prevent the Allies from "tidying up" their positions.

BRIDGEHEAD COLLAPSING

Two more villages west of the River Roer, north of Heinsberg, have fallen to Dempsey's troops, and the enemy bridgehead over the river is collapsing.

Patton's Third Army have made a general advance up to three and a half miles on the 23 miles front.

They have occupied eleven more towns and pushed to the west bank of the Our river, forming the Luxembourg-Germany border.

Gen. Patton's men now hold positions at five places on the west bank of the Our.

In central Alsace where Rundstedt had hoped to make a new drive for Strasbourg, American and French troops have pushed the enemy further north and have now advanced a total of four miles.

Footnote to this story of German withdrawal came yesterday from Bill Downs, C.B.S. commentator, in a broadcast from Paris:

"We are now allowed to say that at least three German divisions and elements of some others which a month ago were fighting on the Western Front are now fighting against the Russians.

"This leads to but one conclusion—now is the time for the Allied armies in the West to give the Nazis the same medicine as the Russians are giving them."

June 29, 2017

1941. Hitler Ridicules American Fears of a Nazi Invasion

Hitler Ridicules U.S. Fear of Nazis
"New York City's mounted police form a solid line outside Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939, to hold in check a crowd which packed the streets around the Garden where the German American Bund was holding a rally" (source)
This is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. On May 23, 1941, a month before Nazi Germany launched its invasion of the Soviet Union, American ambassador John Cudahy sat down with Adolf Hitler at his Berghof headquarters.

The United States was still six months away from entering the war, and Axis victory seemed a real possibility. Cudahy noted that some in America were concerned about an eventual invasion should Germany conquer Europe (a scenario which was addressed in an article in The New York Times a year earlier). Hitler dismissed it as fantasy, saying that "the idea of a Western Hemisphere invasion was about as fantastic as an invasion of the moon."

From The New York Times, June 6, 1941, pp. 1-2:
Hitler Ridicules U.S. Fears, Holds Nazi Attack Wild Idea
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This is the first interview has given to an American press correspondent in a year. Mr. Cudahy, United States Ambassador to Belgium in 1939 and 1940, is now en route to the United States via Lisbon. This dispatch was cabled from Berlin just before his departure.

By JOHN CUDAHY

"Convoy means war," Adolf Hitler told me quietly on the afternoon of May 23 as we sat in the famous living room of his Berghof at Berchtesgaden. International legal precedents were well established, he said, that escorting munitions, war materials and deadly weapons to an enemy with armed naval forces was a warlike act. These precedents had been determined by Anglo-Saxon maritime powers for a long time, were thoroughly well known and understood by all legal authorities.

At my side was the celebrated interpreter, Dr. Paul Schmidt, and across the big round table, Walter Hewel, liaison officer of the German Foreign Office. Through the largest bay window I have ever seen the snow-sheeted Alps seemed startlingly close and white as an antimony in the Spring sunshine. Far down the green valley was polka-dotted with Spring flowers. The distant silhouette of Salzburg looked vague and fluttering against a cumulus cloud embankment, like a phantom city.

I was met in the hallway of the Berghof by Herr Hewel and a captain aide. I distinguished a portrait of Bismarck as we went down a passageway and through doors to an oblong room of great height, length and breadth. We descended three steps. At the opposite end of the hall another stairway with iron balustrade leads to the only other exit, a Roman arched doorway.

The whole color scheme has a garnet tint—the carpet, the marble steps and the coverings of furniture. On both white plaster walls there are swastikas, tapestries and paintings of reclining nudes. The woodwork and the paneling on the ceiling are of shellacked oak. I noticed an oak table, a piano and a bust of Wagner. There were calla lilies and carnations on the table and hydrangeas in a bowl. A clock struck noisily during our conversation.

I told the Fuehrer that the primary cause of opposition to Germany in the United States was based upon the sentiment that the security of the Western Hemisphere was threatened by German aggression. People argued that German conquest might go on and on and the next logical field for German military adventure was the two American continents.

He laughed at that and refused to take me seriously. He said the idea of a Western Hemisphere invasion was about as fantastic as an invasion of the moon.

I replied that, fantastic or not, an eventual attack by Germany on the Americas was feared by a large number of thoughtful American people.

He could not believe it, he persisted, because he had too high an opinion of the intelligence and good sense of Americans. He said he was convinced this invasion story was put out by warmongers against their better knowledge, men who wanted war in the belief it would be profitable for business—an erroneous conception, since the last great war had demonstrated that war was ruinous to business.

Hold Invasion Impracticable

He said the German High Command considered an invasion of either American continent to be as wildly imaginary as an invasion of the moon and he was confident that Army and Navy chiefs in the United States shared the same views as the German military authorities.

"Why," he asked, "do not the British send more troops to Greece and North Africa?" He answered his own question by saying it was because sufficient transports were not available, although the distances were comparatively short. The combined shipping tonnage of Britain, the United States and Germany would be hopelessly inadequate, he insisted, to transport an army of millions, which would be required for a successful conquest of the Western Hemisphere.

The German Army, he went on, was not concerned with military expeditions for the sake of showing off or to demonstrate that nothing was impossible for German arms. If the Crete enterprise seemed difficult, he said, an attack over some 2,500 miles of open water, as would be the case with the United States, is simply unthinkable.

He said he had never heard anybody in Germany say that the Mississippi River was a German frontier in the same spirit that the Prime Minister of Australia has referred to the Rhine as a frontier of that country. But, since the Rhine was their frontier, he had decided to send some Australian prisoners to that mighty famous German river so they might acquaint themselves with frontier atmosphere.

Low Living Standard Denied

He assured me that Germany had too many serious problems in Europe to give any thought to an American invasion. I told Herr Hitler that many people shared his view that the Atlantic offered too formidable a military obstacle to be surmounted at present, but the same people believed a German triumph would mean economic disaster to the United States.

The reason for this belief, I said, was because of a lower standard of living for workers in Germany and disciplinary methods imposed upon German labor, which would never be accepted in the United States. Therefore American industrial output could not compete with that of Germany.

He replied that he did not think the living standard of German workers was so low. The controlling purpose of National Socialism, he said, was to improve living conditions for working people. This effort the war had interrupted, but it would be renewed with redoubled force when peace came, and he had great ambitions for the common man in Germany. Among other things he hoped to see him own an automobile.

He reminded me that Germany, with a population density of 140 persons to the square kilometer, had risen out of depression and provided jobs for all so that there were no longer any unemployed, while the United States, with only eleven persons to the square kilometer, was unable to cope with a very serious unemployment problem.

He asked me why the German nation was singled out as an economic menace to America when Germany had an area of only 600,000 to 700,000 square kilometers and a population of only 85,000,000, while the British Empire had a population of 400,000,000, Japan 100,000,000, Russia 170,00,000 and other nations of the world 500,000,000.

He inquired why, if German competition was so greatly feared, her colonies had been taken away from Germany, and said development of the colonies would have presented a great outlet for German industrial output.

Two-Way Trade Stressed

He asked further why the United States was opposed to the organization of Europe to provide markets in Europe for German goods, thereby lessening the probability of competition with the United States. Southeastern Europe was, he said, a natural component to German economy, for the Balkan countries had a surplus of agricultural produce, which they could exchange for Germany's industrial products.

That, he insisted, was the "iron rule of trade." No country could buy from another unless it could also sell, and how, he asked, could the United States, with its great agricultural surpluses, offer to take farm produce from Southeastern Europe in payment for American manufactured articles?

I inquired whether he envisaged a trade union for Europe with suppression of quotas, tariffs, currency restrictions, etc. He replied that he thought all commercial relations between countries could be assured by long-term trade treaties guaranteeing to both partners a profitable arrangement and suppressing the element of speculation that has always cursed business. He saw no future in trade relations based on loans because, he told me, loans have to be paid back and the end of borrowing is often bankruptcy.

The future trade of Germany, he declared, would not be based upon paper, but upon exchange of commodity for commodity with an absolute exclusion of speculation. Professors had scored his economic theories, but in twenty of thirty years, he predicted, they would be teaching them in universities.

I asked about gold and its function in the future international trade of Germany. He said Germany  had been deprived of all her gold by the necessity of paying reparations and had been forced to devise a system of international trade without gold. Yet he recognized the usefulness of gold in providing a more elastic method of mercantile dealing between nations and as a basis of credit.

Denies Interest in Slaves

I then turned to countries occupied by German military forces and asked the Fuehrer if he could indicate in broadest outline his disposition with reference to such nations. I told him frankly that my question was inspired by a belief among many Americans that German domination of Europe meant suppression of native national languages, customs and institutions.

His reply was that Germany had not commenced this war. War had been declared against Germany by France and England. It was strange, he said, to hear the British discourse on world domination when they held in oppression millions of subject Indians, Egyptians and Arabs.

"We shall settle relations with our neighbors in such a way that all will enjoy peace and prosperity," he summarized.

I returned to the case of Belgium, explaining that my interest had a personal angle because I had lived in that country. His answer was that his formula for the future of Europe was "peace, prosperity and happiness." Germany, he said, was not interested in slaves or the enslavement of any people.

At the conclusion of our discussion, Herr Hitler, stating that he had tried to answer all my inquiries with clarity and candor, expressed skepticism of any beneficial results from this interview. He said that time after time he had tried to emphasize that the position of Germany and his plans were not inimical to the United States, but his efforts had always proved futile.

June 28, 2017

1948. Outcry Over the Sentencing of Berlin Protesters

Trouble Continues on the East-West Border
A crowd of approximately 200,000 listens to Mayor Ernst Reuter speak in Berlin at a demonstration against the policies of the SED and the Soviet military government, September 9, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 14, 1948

General Lucius Clay, America's military chief in Germany, took down his hair to a number of reporters at his Berlin headquarters this morning, and what he said is perhaps the most significant opinion to come out of this crisis city since the Russians imposed their blockade.

General Clay told us that he did not believe there is an immediate prospect of war; that, in his opinion, a major conflict is not just around the corner.

Not that the general was being optimistic—but Clay explained that he did not believe the Soviet Union would make the Berlin crisis a cause for the use of force.

And the other point the American commander made in his informal talk with reporters was that the gigantic airlift would be maintained through the winter and that it may be necessary to increase the number of planes by forty percent, but that the people of Berlin would be fed and major services would be maintained. And depending upon the weather, there should not be too much suffering. "People won't be as warm as normal," Clay explained. "But no one will starve to death nor freeze."

As for possibilities of the Russians lifting the blockade, Clay was noncommittal. Negotiations between the Berlin military governors are now suspended but are expected to resume after completion of Moscow talks now underway.

Meanwhile the airlift continues droning overhead, bringing its tons of food and fuel. At 4:20 this morning a C-47 cargo plane crashed some twenty-five miles inside the Russian zone. The crew parachuted to safety, but the American fliers are not yet back in our territory.

The success of the airlift and the failure of the Russian blockade to discredit the Western powers and Western democracy in Berlin is confirmed in detail in the July report of the military governor released today. The report says that despite the blockade there has been no abnormal unemployment, although many people have been forced out of work. Fuel supplies are being maintained on a limited basis, and more than a month's food stock is on hand.

But the inter-zonal troubles in this city continue. Yesterday a Soviet military tribunal sentenced five youths, presumably Western sector police, to twenty-five years hard labor for their participation in last Thursday's Western sector mass meeting that resulted in violence. The Russians have abolished the death penalty, but twenty-five years hard labor is their maximum sentence.

So this afternoon the non-Communist political parties and labor unions of the American, British, and French zone have called another mass meeting to protest these extreme sentences and what they call attempts to intimidate civil authority in Berlin. The protest meeting is called for 3:45 at the Rathaus Schönberg in the American sector. This section is well inside our zone, and police are expected to contain the crowd to avoid incidents on the East-West borders of the city.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 15, 1948

It's a cold, gloomy day in Berlin, and probably the start of what will become the greatest outdoor sport of this blockaded city—weather watching. I remember back in the days of the London Blitz we used to pray for the gray, muggy skies that we have now. The bombers then wouldn't be able to see their targets.

But the situation is reversed in present-day Berlin. Bad weather means a slowing down of the airlift and the vital supplies needed to keep us going. However, the Air Force says that so far deliveries are up to schedule with the planes continuing to land by GCA—ground-controlled approach.

There is one encouraging bit of news. The two American fliers who parachuted from a cargo plane yesterday have been returned to the American zone by the Russians.

Temperatures might have dropped today, but tempers have not. The struggle between the Democratic West and the Communist Eastern sections of the city now are being underlined by a series of protests.

General Kotikov, military commander of the Russian zone, has sent a letter of protest to the British commandant demanding that the persons involved in last Thursday's rioting at Brandenburg Gate be punished. The note is loaded with charges of fascist gangs, dishonor to the Soviet war memorial, and fascist provocateurs, and it says that such activities are contrary to the Potsdam Agreement. The British have replied rejecting the charges. Incidentally, Kotikov addressed the note to the "Chief of the British Garrison" and signed himself as the "Military Commandant of Berlin."

From the Western side, the democratic leaders are doing some protesting of their own over extremely heavy sentences given to five young Germans arrested by Communist-led police during the Thursday incident. American and British officials have joined in branding the twenty-five years at hard labor ordered by the Soviet military court as infamous. The five Western sector Germans incidentally were tried in secret and without defense lawyers.

The mother of one of the youths involved says she believes her son was convicted because of the credentials he was carrying showing that he was working for American military establishments.

However, the Russians are having their own troubles too. Thirteen officials of textile manufacturing firms in the Russian zone of Germany have been arrested for withholding some eight and a half million marks worth of cloth and selling it on the black market. An official Russian report calls for further centralization and intensified control of the clothing industry in their zone.

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

CBS Berlin

September 16, 1948

American authorities this morning are reported to be taking extraordinary measures to protect anti-Communist Germans here in Berlin as rumors spread throughout the city that the Soviet-dominated police force is preparing to act against pro-democratic organizations and leaders here.

New protective moves are in the making to prevent repetition of such arrests as that of some forty-seven Western zone policemen taken during the troubles at the city hall and the arrest of Dr. Kurt Mückenberger, former head of the Berlin coal organization. American authorities charged that Mückenberger was taken illegally. He is now being tried secretly by a Soviet military tribunal on charges of sabotage.

The rumors spreading among Germans is that a Communist blacklist is in the making with probable kidnappings across zonal boundaries to follow.

The reaction to the recent sentencing of five young Germans involved in last week's riots has been strong here. The youths got the maximum penalty under Soviet law, twenty-five years at hard labor for participating in the Western zone demonstration. General Clay said yesterday in Frankfurt that while it is unusual for us to interfere in another government's court procedures, it is possible the United States will make a protest against the severity of the sentences.

However, there are two stories this morning that serve to bring this Berlin picture into perspective. One of our airlift pilots who parachuted into Russian territory when his C-47 failed was immediately returned to American authorities by Soviet officers. His name is Lieutenant Clarence Steber. The pilot of the plane, Captain Kenneth Slaker, just walked back to the Western zone without Russian interference.

And the other story is more significant. One of the best places to access morale in this messed-up postwar Europe is in the money exchange market. The big news from the Berlin exchange this morning is that the West mark, sometimes called the "Clay mark," is exchanging at the highest rate for Soviet marks in the history of this present economy.

The story is this. When the blockade was clapped on and the four-power monetary talks began, Berliners wanted to get rid of their Western marks, thinking that we would yield to Soviet control of the currency and that only East marks would be good. At that time the exchange rate was about one West mark for two Soviet marks. However, with the continuation of discussions, the airlift, and a stiffening Western attitude, the financiers now believe we mean what we say. So today the exchange went up again. And you now can buy about four and a half Russian marks for one Western mark. Maybe things are not so bad after all.

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

June 27, 2017

1944. Allied Tanks Surge Into Brittany

German Forces in Critical Position
"Wrecked German Tiger tanks in the rubble of Villers-Bocage after the British had captured the town," August 5, 1944 (source)
From the Northern Daily Mail, August 3, 1944:
Allied Tank Spearheads Surge Into Brittany
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"A CAVALRYMAN'S DREAM"
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Enemy in a Critical Position

It is becoming clear that the situation of the whole German army in Normandy is more precarious than could have been hoped a week or so ago. The problems of a large scale retreat must be terrifying to the enemy.

Guenther Weber, German Overseas News Agency correspondent at Von Kluge's headquarters, reported to-day: "The situation is critical for the German forces on the western sector of the Normandy front."

In Brittany the action is still a "cavalryman's dream," U.S. spearheads are thrusting deeply into the Brest Peninsula, and columns may now be thrusting towards the important sea bases of St. Malo, Brest, or St. Nazaire.

In the British sector the momentum of the attack has eased off slightly in the last 12 hours, but there has been no relaxation in the task of sealing off the exits of the German garrisons and the roping off of considerable enemy rearguard forces.

In a message today south of Caumont, Doon Campbell, Reuters special correspondent, says: While one column of British armour and infantry is pressing on eastwards towards Vassy, other armoured units to-day are tightening a noose of steel around Villers-Bocage.

A sharp successful raid against Esquay last night brought in 20 prisoners.

British forces in Vire and on the Amayé feature, west of Villers-Bocage, are consolidating and establishing strong positions. An unusually hard centre of opposition is being encountered along the road to Aunay.

The town of Vire was only entered by a solid force late last night and fast reconnaissance patrols have gone beyond the town. "The town is certainly as much ours as the enemy's," a senior staff officer said to-day. "We have undoubtedly broken through and now we are pushing forward in a most satisfactory manner."

The possession of the high ground at Amayé, at the village of Douene on the Anctoville-Villers-Bocage road and the wooded country of La Dressirie to the south-west, have given the British a firm base which General Dempsey can exploit whenever he chooses.

CLOSE FIGHTING

The German holding force in Villers-Bocage is not believed to be very strong, but the town's immediate approaches are heavily mined and booby-trapped.

Progress along the road to Aunay has been slowed near La Londe, where we are sitting on high ground to the north, but there is a lot of close and confused fighting in this area.

Charles Lynch, Reuters special correspondent with the Canadians, reports that a Canadian Army spokesman said to-day: "The Germans are restless along the sector south of Caen, where much of their strength is concentrated. They are still scratching their heads."

Bill Downs, C.B.S. correspondent in Normandy, reported to-day: "The British Second Army continued its march eastwards this morning and has captured a dozen more villages. The British are now one mile from Aunay (five miles south of Villers-Bocage). Evidence is piling up that the German Army has suffered a major setback south of the Seine in the past ten days."

GERMAN REPORT

To-day's German communiqué, quoted by Reuters, states: "In Normandy the enemy throughout yesterday continued his strong attacks in the centre and the western part of the beachhead. At most places the attacks were repelled, with heavy losses to the enemy, but only after heavy fighting.

"At some points the enemy scored successes. At those points our troops have gone over to counter-attacks.

"South-east of Villedieu German panzer formations engaged for a counter-attack are making headway westwards.

"The enemy forces which had advanced beyond Avranches to the south and west pushed their panzer spearheads forwards towards Rennes and Dinan, where they were warded off."

June 26, 2017

1941. Nazi Political Warfare Pushes for a "New Order"

Hitler Plan for Britain
Adolf Hitler, playing a game with Death, overlooked by a portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm II (Sidney Strube, 1941)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. In 1941, German writer Hermann Rauschning wrote about Adolf Hitler's plans for a "New Order."

From The New York Times, March 25, 1941:
POLITICAL VICTORY HELD HITLER'S AIM
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He Is Believed to Desire to Confront Britain With Peace Consolidating 'New Order'
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 
WORLD DOMINION HIS GOAL
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 
This Involves Avoidance of a War That Will Regenerate British Staying Qualities
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
Adolf Hitler's possible choices of campaign plans for 1941 are further examined here by an eminent German writer who was high in the Nazi party's inner circle until 1935, when he broke with Herr Hitler and left Germany. He is the author of "The Revolution of Nihilism" and "The Voice of Destruction." He is now in London.

By HERMANN RAUSCHNING

Adolf Hitler and his generals are not ignorant of the weaknesses of the German situation. His efforts will therefore be directed toward a fundamental change in the situation rather than strictly limited objectives.

But it is open to question whether the German High Command can effect this fundamental change by purely military methods. Even today its actions are dictated by the enemy, and so Herr Hitler may be compelled to undertake against his own will actions that offer a doubtful prospect of success.

He may therefore attempt to effect the fundamental change by political methods in preference to military ones. Before the "Blitz" campaign he always achieved his greatest successes with his policy of faits accomplis. It would be conformable to his trend of thought to conceive the idea of a fait accompli of peace.

It might be possible, he would imagine, to render Great Britain's war against "the new order" in Europe useless by inducing all allied and occupied countries, and those already drawn into the Nazi sphere of influence, to agree to his peace terms and declare their acceptance of a European solidarity of interests from which all extraneous powers would be excluded.

Will Sow Doubts About War

Herr Hitler's political warfare, with simple but effective slogans, broke the morale of the French forces and civilian population. The political premises for his new disintegration attempts will be found in repetitions of his willingness to conclude a negotiated peace. They will find fruitful soil in easily awakened doubts concerning the necessity and possibility of continuing the war and in cleavage of public opinion on this point.

An attack on Russia, for example, could give him a good start, because the surprise at this unexpected turn of events would cause many people to revise their opinion of him. If Herr Hitler is really our bulwark against bolshevism, they would argue, why make war on him?

But even this dramatic move would be unnecessary for his purpose, since the present situation affords him possibilities of effective peace propaganda. He has repeatedly sought to make it clear to neutral diplomats and other distinguished visitors that he has never desired war with the British Empire and would regard its destruction as a world calamity. His proposed readiness for peaceful cooperation with the British Empire on such a basis would always find new channels of communication.

There is a grain of truth in Herr Hitler's statement that he has never sought war with the British. This is not merely due to the fact that his backers made it a condition that he should avoid complications with Britain and the United States, when they advocated the Chancellorship for him, and likewise not because he fears the inexhaustible resources of the British Empire. The real reason is rather to be sought in the desire of leading circles in Germany to eschew any enterprise likely to hold up the disintegration of the British Empire, which they deem inevitable, and lead to a regeneration of the British nation.

War Held a Regenerator

To understand this trend of thought aright, we must remember that it was not only the Prussian military cast, but the Swabian Schiller who extolled war as a regenerator of life. A war—so argue others besides the Nazis—would regenerate all the power instincts and martial virtues of the British nation which appeared to have degenerated before the outbreak of hostilities. Far from hastening the breakup of the British Empire, a war would tend to strengthen it and prolong British hegemony, at least for another two or three generations. In well-informed circles—and not merely German ones—the life of the British Empire was estimated at another generation.

It is not inconceivable that Herr Hitler would win over the small States and also Italy, France and Spain to this project and strengthen the two latter countries in their antagonism to Britain. As long as the present French regime remains in power there can be no question of any similarity of British and French war aims. If France does not become an actual opponent of Britain, she will be resolved to pursue a more independent policy. There can be no further question of a common entente policy.

We might, indeed, interpret the situation in the sense that the three Latin powers are vitally interested in seeing that neither Herr Hitler nor Britain should win a decisive victory over the other. Europe is a balance of great cultural powers which gives scope for various combinations. And if the line of the new French policy is opposed to a German or Russian hegemony of Europe, it is equally antagonistic to a British one. Hence the new points of contact with Italy and Spain. Moreover, this policy is the only one that gives Premier Mussolini a chance to save something for his regime.

Whether such a policy will serve the real interests of France is another question. It is also doubtful whether it can be realized. French policy now seems to assume some resemblance to the Russian policy in favoring a draw in preference to the victory of one or other opponent. But that is just what Herr Hitler desires, and therefore he will raise no objections to this Latin bloc. On the contrary, he will be able to use it for his own ends.

It would be quite in accordance with Herr Hitler's trend of thought to force a peace on Britain against her will. His estimation of public opinion in Britain and the United States leads him to conclude that a moderate peace, achieved by negotiation, would revive the isolation tendencies latent in both Anglo-Saxon powers. Moreover, Nazi circles closely in touch with the Reichsfuehrer are largely inspired by the idea of a revolution in the United States.

What Herr Hitler really desires to achieve by a fait accompli peace is the basis for a new propaganda campaign that would disintegrate Anglo-Saxon morale as surely as his slogans broke the French morale last year. The weaknesses of its ruling classes made the dissolution of this "artificial creation" inevitable. Why, then, provoke a revival of life and resistance power by a war? That is the real meaning of Herr Hitler's declaration of friendship for Britain!

The one focus point of his policy is therefore his belief in the irrevocable passing of British world supremacy and the call to Germany to assume the inheritance. His other focus point was and still is the elimination of his continental rival, Russia, with whom a Germany rising to a position of world power could never remain in permanent alliance, because there can be only one supreme power in control of the Eurasian Continent. While Britain can therefore be left to a gradual process of disintegration, the Slavonic race must be destroyed by force before it becomes a real menace to German world domination.

Peril in the British Collapse

The sudden collapse of such a great institution as the British Empire would also contain certain dangers for the victorious destroyer. The aim of Nazism is not the negative one comprised in the destruction of the British Empire, but the positive extension of its own domination over its essential component parts. A military overthrow would not exclude the possibility that some of the key points would fall into foreign hands.

In the event of a break-up of the British Empire, Russia, Japan and the United States would be in a position to annex valuable territories. Probably Nazism would be forced to yield most of the overseas territories to other powers, in which case Germany would be thrown back into her constricted continental situation. It is possible that in the early stages of his development Herr Hitler may have thought only in continental terms, but by now it has become clear to him that world domination implies territories abutting on the ocean and domination of those oceans.

Herr Hitler desires a world empire and not merely a continental empire. Germany can grow only slowly to such a position. She can best gain a footing overseas by participation in overseas interests. That is the significance of the much discussed slogan of a "junior partnership."

Similar consideration formerly prevented Nazism from attempting a spectacular "march on Berlin" and induced it to substitute the notion of gaining power by means of a backdoor assumption of government and a slinking into key positions from which partners could be ousted at a convenient moment.

During this present conflict, Herr Hitler has still clung tenaciously to his idea of avoiding war to the knife with Britain and employing political means to wriggle out of hostilities by a fait accompli of peace. If the process of the British Empire's disintegration can be thus continued, he will argue, in a way in which will let its fruits fall into his lap, and if this process can be hastened, then it would be better to employ political methods that would tempt British commercial instincts rather than military means that would awaken the British sporting spirit.

June 25, 2017

1949. The Berlin Airlift's First Anniversary

The Airlift Continues After the Blockade
"Watching Berlin Airlift flights arrive at a West German airfield for reloading provides local residents with a close-up look at history in the making in June, 1949" (Photo by Gordon Curvan - source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

June 25, 1949

Today ends the first year of the Anglo-American airlift, an event marked by an almost miraculous escape from death this morning when a four-engine C-54 airplane stalled and crashed at Tempelhof airdrome just as it was preparing to land.

The right wing of the aircraft touched the ground, the plane turned over and caught fire. Rapid action by German crash crews put out the flame. The three-man crew escaped without serious injury, and although the aircraft is a complete loss, the cargo of ten tons of coal was saved.

West Berlin is celebrating the anniversary by dedicating the square in front of Tempelhof airdrome to the fifty-one American and British fliers who have lost their lives in the airlift.

All attempts to get rail traffic moving into the city have stalled this morning. The Russian-controlled rail management turned down an American request to send in a locomotive and crew to take one of our military trains through the Soviet zone to Hamburg. This request was made last night after the striking rail workers had put the elevated system in shape to operate an emergency service for zonal traffic but still keep the strike on the elevated system operating inside Berlin.

The striking independent union moved to extend its traffic shutdown to include a strike blockade of the entire Russian zone. They asked the rail workers' union in the Western zones not to handle trains into the Soviet zone as long as the Berlin strike is on. The Western railroad workers' union said they sympathized with the anti-Communist strikers here and would make a decision on Monday whether or not to boycott eastbound trains.

The American, British, and French commandants are meeting at this moment in another attempt to find a solution to the Little Blockade.

The Communist press is teeing off again on the United States. American world imperialism and capitalism is now taking its last gasp, according to the Eastern propaganda. The proof of the end of our decadent culture is the fact that we are now reverting to boogie-woogie, jitterbugs, bad literature, and criminal movies.

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

June 24, 2017

1949. Tragic Accidents in Prüm and the Airlift

Explosion in Prüm as Airlift Sees More Casualties
A crashed Douglas C-54 Skymaster during the Berlin airlift (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 16, 1949

A tragic explosion and the crash of another airlift plane mar the news from Germany this morning.

In the German city of Prüm, in the French zone, an estimated 15 persons were killed, 60 injured, and one quarter of the town destroyed last night when an ammunition depot blew up. Casualties are still being counted as rescue workers search the wreckage. The tragic thing about this incident is that the casualty list need not have been so high.

A fire broke out in the depot yesterday evening. The townspeople were warned to leave, but few of them did. At 9:30 PM, between 500 and 600 tons of old German ammunition stored in a Siegfried Line bunker went up. The Prüm hospital and post office were destroyed. Fires broke out in the town. All telephone and telegraph communications were cut. Prüm was badly damaged in the war, but today the townspeople are saying that this explosion was worse than anything experienced during the fighting.

Here in Berlin, five Royal Air Force airlift fliers were killed at 9:00 AM this morning when their Hastings aircraft crashed and burned at Tegel airport. The plane was taking off for the northern corridor out of Berlin when its engines failed at about 50 feet and plunged into the ground. This is the second fatal airlift accident this week. Last Tuesday an American Air Force C-54 crashed in the Russian zone, killing its crew of three. These fatalities bring the Operation Vittles death toll to 59 killed.

The Berlin Communist organization on the other side of town has become a kind of ideological catch-all for reports and rumors of what is going on behind Russia's Iron Curtain. The other day I heard this detailed report that I am passing along only as the sort of dialectical gossip now circulating among comrades.

This rumor says that Romania's foremost woman Communist, Foreign Minister Ana Pauker, is about to lose her high place in the party and possibly her job in the Romanian government. She is charged with opposing the Kremlin policy of forcing exclusive trade with Russia, thus banning all commercial contracts with the West. Also, Ana Pauker is accused of having a large bank account in Switzerland, but thus far it is all rumors.

My informant says that no action on the Pauker case is expected for another three months. It's interesting to note that these rumors started to spread shortly after an unofficial "Little Cominform" meeting held when Europe's Communist bigwigs met during the funeral in Sofia of Georgi Dimitrov.

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

June 23, 2017

1944. The Second Battle of the Odon

British Second Army Captures Six Villages in Normandy
"Infantry watch Churchill tanks moving up for a dawn attack towards Evrecy," July 16, 1944 (source)
From the Daily Record, July 17, 1944, pp. 1, 8:
SIX VILLAGES CAPTURED
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
BRITISH ADVANCE

British forces have captured six important villages on either side of the Caen-Villers-Bocage highroad.

Reporting this last night, Bill Downs, C.B.S. broadcaster, stated that the British 2nd Army is again on the move, broadening and deepening its wedge southwest of Caen by more than a mile on a six-mile front.

This drive, striking south and west, should not be termed a full-scale offensive, says Downs, but British forces threaten the entire enemy flank south of Villers.

Later in the day the Germans awoke to the danger and counterattacked several times.

North of the Odon the British captured Brettevillette. The troops north of the Odon and those south of the river are now only 1½ miles apart.

Bitter Fighting

After a day of dusty and bitter fighting between the Odon and Orne all British gains have been consolidated and our positions improved despite counter-thrusts in which the enemy suffered casualties in infantry and armour, says Doon Campbell.

Over 100 prisoners were taken before 1 p.m. British gains include Esquay, Gavrus, Bougy, Hill 113 and Cahier.

The Germans still hold Évrecy and Vendes, where some of the heaviest fighting has taken place.

All reports speak of "heavy German casualties."

Minor counter-attacks by Rommel against the British at Hill 113 were broken up.

Nervous jabs cost the Germans at least ten tanks. The attacks came from Évrecy and were aimed at Hill 113 and the general direction of Esquay. Tiger and Panther tanks supported the German infantry.

The Germans did not succeed in making any infiltration or gain one yard of ground.

General Satisfied

The British General commanding the opposition is satisfied with the progress made.

British infantry, flanked by tanks, were consolidating their gains and digging in on the sunny slopes of Hill 113 overlooking Évrecy late this (Sunday) afternoon.

The advance from the north continued towards Noyers, about two-thirds of the way from Caen to Villers-Bocage on the main road linking the two towns.

Shortly before noon, an attack, supported by armour, was thrown into Vendes, which was by-passed on the drive south.

The roar of massed artillery supporting the infantry has continued all day.

Many Germans have been killed and many more wounded. Our own casualties are described as "well on the right side."

Lessay Doomed

The battle for the River Ay raged along a front of nearly seven miles to-day in the area of Lessay, while to the east American troops fought stubbornly for the approaches to St. Lô (reports William Stringer, Reuters special correspondent, writing last night from 1st U.S. Army H.Q.).

With Lessay flanked on three sides patrols twice drove against the Ay last night under heavy fire, but withdrew slightly when, in the words of a spokesman, "It got too hot for them."

Lessay itself is doomed. American troops reached its outskirts more than 24 hours ago and patrols were reported moving forward this morning.

June 22, 2017

1968. Navy Searches for the Missing USS Scorpion Nuclear Submarine

Mystery Signal Heard Off the Coast of Norfolk
"Scorpion (SSN-589) comes alongside Tallahatchie County (AVB-2) outside Claywall Harbor, Naples, Italy, 10 April 1968. The submarine's Commanding Officer, Commander Francis A. Slattery, is atop her sail, holding a megaphone" (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Norfolk

May 30, 1968

It could be the most hopeful sign of life yet for the missing nuclear submarine Scorpion—or it could be one of the most heartless and cruel hoaxes in US Navy history.

But at 8:28 yesterday evening, a Navy patrol plane and six ships hunting for the missing submarine Scorpion spotted some strange debris on the Atlantic some 110 miles east of Norfolk. The plane dropped sonar buoys and heard a rhythmic clanking. It dropped small explosive charges, and shortly thereafter there came the unidentified voice of a man who broadcast these words, quote: "Any station this network . . . this is—" and then followed the classified Navy code word identifying the missing submarine.

At that time of the unexplained broadcast, the Scorpion had been overdue at her home port of Norfolk for 68 and a half hours—almost three days. And it had been nine days since there had been any radio signal from her.

The missing sub had checked in with Atlantic Fleet headquarters a week ago on Tuesday, May 21, as she started a submerged transatlantic journey from a point just south of the Azores. There has been no other word or sign of the Scorpion and her 99-man crew since.

That, briefly, is why the mystery signal picked up Wednesday evening has knocked this fleet headquarters and the port city of Norfolk on its ear.

The listening ships and planes did not locate exactly the spot of the mystery broadcast. It could have been a hoax. It could have been a ghastly mistake—some young radio amateur or service radioman practicing over a live microphone which he thought dead.

Or, hopefully, it could be the USS Scorpion.

The Navy is investigating all possibilities.

This is Bill Downs at the Atlantic Fleet headquarters in Norfolk.

June 21, 2017

1949. United States Backs Right-Wing Coalition in West Germany

Conservative Coalition Gains Majority in the Bundestag
1949 campaign poster for the West German federal election in 1949 reads: "mit Adenauer für den Frieden, die Freiheit und die Einheit Deutschlands darum CDU" ("With Adenauer for the peace, freedom and unity of Germany") (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Frankfurt

August 15, 1949 (first recording)


If the German people had been voting to please the United States State Department on Sunday, they could have done no more than they did in giving their mandate to the right-wing conservative element which is now charged with forming the new Federal Republic.

High Commissioner John McCloy today expressed gratification that the election was so orderly and that more than 75 percent of the people turned out. But the real gratification lies in the fact that, when the new West German state goes into operation early in September, it will be a government paralleling American economic and political policies—a fact that should make liaison between the two nations easier than, say, if the Socialists had won.

Political affairs experts told me today that America intends to back this German government to the hilt. When I asked one official if it were not possible that the problems facing the new republic might not be too great for the right-wing government to stand and that serious crises might force another election, my informant replied: "I do not think these crises will be allowed to arise."

However, as pleased as we are with the outcome—for Germany will play an increasingly large part in the European Recovery Plan—no one is rushing into headlong embrace with the new government.

The predominately Catholic Christian Democratic party is regarded as a moderate organization but, lacking a clear majority, the CDU is going to have to form a coalition with other right-wing parties. Among these parties—which polled about one quarter of the vote—there are extreme nationalists whose odor, if not their insignia, is suspiciously Nazi.

Official policy is to adopt a wait-and-see attitude until the government gets into action, and in a number of places one finds downright nervousness that the Germans, given this new power, may find ways to misuse it.

However, another great experiment in democracy is underway in Germany today. We can only hope that it will come out better than the one that began thirty years ago in Weimar and ended in a second world war.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Frankfurt


August 15, 1949 (second recording)


American officials today are watching the launching of the new Federal Republic of Germany with all the approval and pride of a father sending his young daughter on her first date, but there also is some apprehension that perhaps this German political debutante doesn't know all the facts of democratic life.

The victory of the right-wing parties is tailor-made for American economic and foreign policy, and probably will be accepted by the rest of Europe as the most moderate government possible for Germany.

But the intensive campaign of all the parties—right, left, and center—has left a bad taste in Allied mouths. The unconcealed nationalism and attacks on the occupation powers has created some nervousness in official quarters.

However, a high diplomatic official told me today that the task in front of the three Western nations continues to guide the new government along democratic paths, although we have relinquished our right to order the Germans to act except on matters directly affecting the security of Europe.

Dr. Konrad Adenauer, the leader of the victorious Christian Democrats, can be sure of one thing. His middle-of-the-road government has full United States backing. Our authorities here do not conceal their pleasure that the swing was to the right instead of the left.

But the Christian Democrats must form a coalition with the other right-wing parties to gain their majority, and some of these rightist parties are just this side of Nazism in their nationalism. About six or seven million Germans voted for these extremist parties.

One of the major developments of Sunday's election is that now the real danger to a true democracy under the new Federal Republic appears to be greater from the right than from the left. The miserable showing of the Communists certainly has reduced their threat.

However, the problem of German democracy is no longer the responsibility of the occupation powers. It is now up to the Germans themselves. America's role in the new government will only be that of an adviser and, fortunately, the man who holds the purse strings.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

August 17, 1949

In Bonn today some five hundred construction workers are laboring around the clock to complete the parliament wing of the modernistic capital building that will house the new German government when it meets for the first time on September 7.

Also in West Germany, the victorious politicians of the right-wing parties are working day and night in an attempt to get the horse-trading done ahead of time so that a solid cabinet and government plan can be submitted to the legislature.

Dr. Konrad Adenauer, who is expected to become chancellor of the new republic, has called a meeting of the leaders of his victorious Christian Democratic party at his Rhineland home for next Sunday. They will discuss formation of a new cabinet and of a coalition which they need to get the necessary votes to control the government.

Rumors continue to circulate that it may be possible for two major parties, the CDU and the Socialists, to get together, but American authorities predict that the difference in the right and left-wing parties' objectives is too great to be overcome, and that a conservative coalition will result.

The task of setting up the Federal Republic of Germany hands the Christian Democrats the biggest opportunity for political patronage in recent European history. There are thousands of jobs to be filled and a bureaucracy to be built up. By careful cutting of this political pie, Dr. Adenauer and company should be able to form a coalition that will stick.

Here in Berlin, meanwhile, the Communist propaganda machine continues to attack Sunday's election as a victory for Wall Street. The East German Communists have yet to comment on the defeat of their West German comrades, except today they charge that in Bavaria they were counted out of the voting by fraudulent methods.

In his first statement since the election, Dr. Adenauer said the main task facing the new government is reconstruction. He added that future world peace depends upon the West and Russia extending their modus vivendi agreement in Berlin to include the entire world. But, Adenauer added, this is not the responsibility of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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

June 20, 2017

1943. Ten Miles From Kharkov

Soviet Bid for Vital Railway
Soviet T-34/76 medium tanks roll through Moscow Avenue in liberated Kharkov during the Belgorod-Kharkov offensive in August 1943 (source)
From the Lancashire Daily Post, August 10, 1943:
TEN MILES FROM KHARKOV
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
Soviet Bid for Vital Railway

The threat to Kharkov and Briansk grows hourly as Soviet armies pursue with unabated vigour their twin offensive to capture these strategic centres.

North of Kharkov, they are only 10 miles from the city, said Bill Downs, broadcasting from Moscow to-day.

The commentator added: Kharkov will soon be liberated. Soviet forces are by-passing the retreating Germans on all sides.

All the German positions in the Donets basin are imperiled by a great outflanking movement north-west of Kharkov intended to cut off the city from communications many miles in the rear.

Poltava, where four railways meet, appears to be the Red Army's immediate objective in the quarter. It lies 75 miles west-south-west of Kharkov. Its fall will make Kharkov untenable.

Soviet forces have made striking advances in this direction, according to Henry Shapirov, British United Press Moscow correspondent.

Well across the railway from Kharkov to Sumy (100 miles to the north-west), they have occupied a town only 40 miles from Poltava and are within a few miles of the Kharkov-Poltava railway.

This line is one of the two remaining routes of escape left open to the German forces in Kharkov.

GERMAN CONFUSION

Robert Magidoff, N.B.C. Moscow broadcaster, said: "The Russians have complete air domination over the Kharkov front. The once so powerful Luftwaffe cannot protect the German infantry.

"The Germans' growing confusion is due not only to air attacks. Many communications have also been cut by Soviet armoured forces, and there is a disastrous loss of contact between the German tanks and fuel organisations."

William Downs, of the C.B.S., commenting on "the astounding Nazi confusion," added: "In some sectors it is almost a race between American Dodge and Ford trucks—Russia has thousands of them—and the German, French and Italian vehicles, in which the Germans pressed from all sides are fleeing."

ESCAPE RAILWAY

Judged by precedents, and Moscow reports reaching Stockholm, advanced Soviet mobile guns and patrols have already put the Kharkov-Poltava escape railway out of commission, cables Bernard Valery, of Reuters.

The Sumy railway is now occupied for a stretch of 40 miles.

These reports state that the Soviet columns of fast-moving tanks and motorized infantry, which battered their way across three main railway lines north and north-west of Kharkov, are sweeping over the Ukrainian plains well behind the city in the west.

The left prong of the Soviet's wide encircling movement, driving from Chuguev (on the Donets 25 miles from Kharkov, to the east) is trying to cut the escape corridors for the German garrison to the south-west.

FRONTAL DRIVE

Harold King, Reuters special correspondent, cabled from Moscow to-day: The Red Army has now closed round Kharkov on three sides, and are 36 miles west of the city at Nikitovka.

Other Soviet forces are engaged in a frontal drive from a new direction, the north-east.

A Moscow radio broadcast stated: "In two directions Red Army units have cut vital communications and scattered enemy forces. The retreating Germans are losing heavily, but are resisting very stubbornly."

A military correspondent writes: "The menace to the German flank on the south Russia front is very much more serious than it was last winter.

"This time the Russian armies are not only fresh and remarkably well equipped, but they are animated with the spirit of victory.

"Kharkov is not organized like Orel as a great 'hedgehog' of defence. It would not be surprising if the Germans took time by the forelock and withdrew their garrison before it is cut off."

Red Air Force formations are striking massive blows at the Germans as the army drives on Kharkov.

"Red Star" declares: "In three separate days' operations Soviet airmen have destroyed or damaged 148 German tanks and 600 lorries, blown up 24 ammunition dumps and silenced 68 field and anti-aircraft batteries."

BRIANSK MENACED

On the Briansk front, the fall of Karachev, key railway town 26 miles east of Briansk, is said to be imminent.

Its fall would represent an advance of 50 miles due west of Orel and would seriously imperil Briansk.

To-day's German communiqué says in the Bielgorod area "the great battle" continues and adds that west of Orel all enemy attempts at a breakthrough again failed, as did new enemy attacks in the Vyazma area.

South of Lake Ladoga resumed enemy attacks were also repulsed.

The enemy lost 215 tanks, and in two days 119 planes.

German resistance north-west of Orel, where Soviet troops are approaching Briansk from another direction, also shows signs of stiffening, but the Russian advance is continuing.

Reuters and B.U.P.

June 19, 2017

1939. The Kremlin's Gambit on Hitler

Germany and Russia Criticize West for Continuing War
"Wonder How Long the Honeymoon Will Last?" An anonymous cartoon mocks the non-aggression pact signed by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 (Alamy/Pictorial Press Ltd)

OCTOBER 1939

These articles are part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. On October 6, 1939, at the conclusion of the two-front invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler delivered a speech at the Reichstag in Berlin in which he proclaimed his country's peaceful intent and blamed Poland for the war, calling the country a "pet lapdog of the Western democracies." He lashed out at France and Britain for continuing to fight during the period known as the Phoney War.

Hitler also used the opportunity to praise the Soviet Union and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Despite his years of anti-Russian vitriol, Hitler blamed the "Western democracies" for the tensions and argued that, despite their political differences, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union could live in friendship. With characteristic sanctimony, he said:
In my speech at Danzig I already declared that Russia was organized on principles which differ from those held in Germany. However, since it became clear that Stalin found nothing in the Russian-Soviet principles which should prevent him from cultivating friendly relations with States of a different political creed, National Socialist Germany sees no reason why she should adopt another criterion. The Soviet Union is the Soviet Union, National Socialist Germany is National Socialist Germany.

.  .  .

For many years imaginary aims were attributed to Germany's foreign policy which at best might be taken to have arisen in the mind of a schoolboy. At a moment when Germany is struggling to consolidate her own living space, which only consists of a few hundred thousand square kilometers, insolent journalists in countries which rule over 40,000,000 square kilometers state Germany is aspiring to world domination!

.  .  .

Why should this war in the West be fought? For restoration of Poland? Poland of the Versailles Treaty will never rise again. This is guaranteed by two of the largest States in the world. Final re-organization of this territory and the question of re-establishment of the Polish State are problems which will not be solved by a war in the West but exclusively by Russia on the one hand and Germany on the other.

.  .  .

If Europe is really sincere in her desire for peace, then the States in Europe ought to be grateful that Russia and Germany are prepared to transform this hotbed into a zone of peaceful development and that these two countries will assume the responsibility and bear the burdens inevitably involved.
Hitler complained that foreign journalists were misrepresenting him and his regime:
Any attempt to criticize, judge or reject my actions from the rostrum of international presumption has no foundation before history and personally leaves me stone-cold. I was called to my post by the confidence vested in me by the German people, whose attitude toward me is only strengthened by any such attempt at criticism or interference from abroad.
The Soviet government-sponsored newspaper Izvestia responded favorably, criticizing the West for rejecting Hitler's entreaties for peace. It published an editorial, featured below, blaming the West for the war and echoing Hitler's sentiments about Poland. In seeking to justify the Soviet invasion, the paper derided Poland as an "artificially created patchwork State based on arbitrariness and oppression of all nations inhabiting it, including Polish people as well." This brief period of Nazi-Soviet good feeling was perhaps most apparent on September 22, 1939, when the two governments staged a military parade in Brest-Litovsk.

Moscow's motivations were complex. Leon Trotsky, whose own editorial from October 1939 is also featured below, argued that Stalin feared the internal instability war would bring. Trotsky wrote that Moscow felt it would be a mistake to join the Allies at that time because Britain and France would be unable to win the war without American involvement—something which Trotsky believed was inevitable. It would therefore be more opportune to stave off war with Germany. He wrote:
The German-Soviet pact will have, under these conditions, two consequences. It will greatly extend the duration of the war and bring closer the moment of intervention by the United States. By itself, this intervention is absolutely inevitable . . . some people on the American continent expect to conceal themselves behind a paper screen of isolation from purely "European" insanity. Their hopes are in vain. It is a question of the struggle for world domination, and America will not be able to stand aside.

.  .  .

In reality there is no government in Europe or the whole world which at the present moment would fear the revolution more than the privileged caste ruling the Soviet Union. The Kremlin does not consider itself stable, and revolutions are contagious. Precisely because the Kremlin fears revolution, it fears the war that leads to revolution. To make the Kremlin change its policy there remains only one way, but a sure one. It is necessary to give Herr Hitler such a decisive blow that Mr. Stalin will cease to fear him. In this sense, it is possible to say that the most important key to the Kremlin's policy is now in Washington.
The New York Times printed a translation of the Izvestia editorial on October 10, 1939:
Soviet Editorial on Hitler Peace

MOSCOW, Oct. 9An editorial in today's Izvestia, government newspaper organ, giving the first authoritative outline of Russian views on Chancellor Hitler's peace bid, follows:

PEACE OR WAR?

Nobody can now dispute that the war in Poland ended several weeks ago. The Polish Army has been interned or taken prisoner. After complete bankruptcy the Polish Government fled beyond Polish borders. There is no social force in the Poland of the gentry excepting upper groups of landed gentry and bourgeoisie which would desire to preserve the artificially created patchwork State based on arbitrariness and oppression of all nations inhabiting it, including Polish people as well.

The Governments of the Soviet Union and Germany set themselves the task of establishing peace and order on the territory of former Poland and of assuring the peoples inhabiting this territory a peaceful existence, confirming their national peculiarities.

The unparalleled rapidity of the disintegration of the Polish state organism, which is irrefutable proof of its lack of vital power, removes the causes for continuation of the war in Western Europe as well.

War a "Senseless Slaughter"

Even the blind can now see that the Polish State cannot be restored in its former shape and on its former territory. Still, the war of Great Britain and France against Germany is waged under the slogan of restoration of Poland. Therefore continuation of the war cannot be justified by anything and constitutes senseless slaughter. Termination of the war would meet the interests of peoples and countries.

Hitler's proposals may be accepted, declined or corrected in one way or another. But one cannot help admitting that in any case they can serve as a real and practical basis for negotiations for an earlier conclusion of peace.

In view of this one might assume that the governments of Great Britain and France, which in their declarations emphasize their desire for peace, would treat the possibility of an early termination of the war in an earnest and business-like way.

However, so far comments of the British and French press on Hitler's declaration do not testify to this. Most newspapers demand that Hitler's peace proposals receive no consideration and that the war be continued until the aims which Great Britain and France set themselves while entering the war are fully accomplished.

It is symptomatic that the demand for restoration of Poland, which formerly figured as a principal demand, in recent articles by British and French journalists is modestly retired to the background.

A Struggle Against Ideology

"Annihilation of Hitlerism" is now proclaimed as the principal demand. The fight against Hitlerian ideology: thus British and French politicians now describe their aims in the present war.

The gist of utterances by most newspapers is that the "Hitlerian spirit" is proclaimed the chief and only source of danger of war not only in Europe but in the whole world. Thus the struggle against the ideology of Hitlerism is being put forward as a fundamental and even the only aim of the present war. These utterances undoubtedly reflect also the viewpoint of governmental circles of Great Britain and France.

Can one accept these arguments? Every one is entitled to express his attitude toward one or another ideology, defend it or reject it. But extermination of a people for the reason that some one does not like certain views and an ideology is senseless and absurd cruelty. It throws us back to the dark material epoch of devastating religious wars for extermination of heretics and dissentients.

History, however, has shown that such ideological and religious campaigns resulted only in the annihilation of whole generations and the cultural degradation of nations. One cannot destroy an ideology by fire and sword.

One may respect or hate Hitlerism, just as any other system of political views. This is a matter of taste. But to undertake war for "annihilation of Hitlerism" means to commit criminal folly in politics.

Material Aims "Camouflaged"

Until lately the ruling classes of Great Britain and France had never displayed too great a readiness to shed blood or, which is the main thing, to bear expense for any ideological purpose. Facts known from these States show that the opposite is the case. Declarations on lofty principles and ideas usually serve to camouflage mundane and material aspirations.

Naturally the question suggests itself also, in a given case, whether the slogan of a struggle against the "Hitlerian spirit" does not camouflage different aims suggested by the aspirations of ruling circles in Great Britain and France for consolidation of their world domination.

Noteworthy in this connection is an article by Bernard Shaw, published in the magazine New Statesman and Nation:

"The war in Poland is over," writes Shaw. "As Poland's cause is lost, we have no further excuse for continuing the war. Whereupon we threw off the mask of knight errantry and avowed flatly that we did not care about Poland and were out on old balance-of-power lines to disable Germany, which we now called abolishing Hitlerism.

"If we won it would be Versailles over again, only worse, with another war even less than twenty years off. Apologies for war won't do, however thickly we butter them with bunk and balderdash about liberty and democracy, and everything we have just abolished at home. Our business now is to make peace with Hitler and with all the world instead of making more mischief and ruining our people in the process."

Allied Empires Cited

One must admit that Bernard Shaw is right in many respects. Judging by all the facts, ruling circles in Great Britain and France are very little concerned about the fate of Poland or the liberation of the German people from the Hitlerian regime.

These States have concentrated in their hands the bulk of colonial possessions. The British Empire owns colonies with a population of 450,000,000. France also possesses a vast colonial empire with a population of 65,000,000.

Obviously an endeavor to hold these gigantic possessions against German claims, to preserve undivided dominion over them, assuring uncontrolled exploitation of hundreds of millions of colonial slaves, is a more valid motive of interest of the governments of Great Britain and France in the war against Germany.

To attempt to ignore Germany's peace proposals means to assume responsibility for further unleashing of war and consequently to assume responsibility for the colossal sacrifices and devastation connected with war.

Peace or war? That is the question. Champions of the slogan, "War to a victorious end," are in favor of further unleashing of war—in favor of war and against peace. But for whose benefit is this war waged for domination of the world? In any case, not for the benefit of the working class. The working class can only suffer in such a war.
Days earlier, the Times published the aforementioned article by Trotsky, who at that point was living in exile in Mexico. From The New York Times, October 4, 1939:
TROTSKY SAYS U.S. WILL JOIN CONFLICT
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
Asserts Only Washington Can Get Russia to Shift From Supporting Germany
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
SEES STALIN FEARING NAZI
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
Soviet Regime Is Held to Be in Danger of Fall If Revolts Result From War 

By LEON TROTSKY

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 3 — The policy of the Soviet Union, full of surprises even for interested observers, flows in reality from the Kremlin's traditional estimation of international relations, which could be formulated approximately in the following manner:

Since a long time ago the economic importance not only of France, but of Britain, has ceased to correspond to the dimensions of their colonial possessions. A new war must overthrow those empires. Not by accident, they say in the Kremlin, the smart opportunist, Mohandas K. Gandhi, already has raised a demand for the independence of India.

This is only the beginning. To tie one's fate to the fate of Britain and France, if the United States does not stand behind them, means to doom one's self beforehand.

The "operations" on the Western Front during the first month of war only strengthened Moscow in its estimation. France and Britain do not decide to violate the neutrality of Belgium and Switzerland—their violation is absolutely inevitable in case the real war develops—nor do they attack seriously the German Westwall. Apparently, they do not want to wage a war at all, not having in advance the guarantee that the United States will not acquiesce in their defeat.

Moscow thinks, consequently, that the actual confused and indecisive manner of acting of France and Great Britain is a kind of military strike "against the United States," but not a war against Germany.

In these conditions, the August pact of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler was supplemented inevitably by the September agreement. The real meaning of the algebraic formulas of the new diplomatic instrument will be determined during the next week.

Stalin Seeks to Avoid War

It is very improbable that Moscow will now intervene on Herr Hitler's side against the colonial empires. Mr. Stalin entered the extremely unpopular bloc with Hitler only to save the Kremlin from the risks and disturbances of a war. After that, he found himself involved in a small war in order to justify his bloc with Herr Hitler. In the crevices of a great war, Moscow will try, also, to attain some further new conquests in the Baltic Sea and in the Balkans.

It is necessary, however, to view these provincial conquests in the perspective of the World War. If Mr. Stalin wants to retain the new provinces, then, sooner or later, he will be forced to stake the existence of his power. All his policy is directed toward the postponement of this moment.

But, if it is difficult to expect the direct military cooperation of Moscow with Berlin on the Western Front, it would be sheer light-mindedness to underestimate the economic support that the Soviet, with the help of German technology, particularly in the means of transportation, can render the German Army. The importance of the Anglo-French blockade will certainly not be annihilated, but considerably weakened.

The German-Soviet pact will have, under these conditions, two consequences. It will greatly extend the duration of the war and bring closer the moment of intervention by the United States. By itself, this intervention is absolutely inevitable.

London wanted to think, in spite of the evidence, that Herr Hitler's ambitions did not transcend the Danubian plain and expected to keep Britain aside. In a similar manner, some people on the American continent expect to conceal themselves behind a paper screen of isolation from purely "European" insanity. Their hopes are in vain. It is a question of the struggle for world domination, and America will not be able to stand aside.

The intervention of the United States, which would be capable of changing the orientation not only of Moscow but also of Rome, is, however, a song of the future. The empiricists of the Kremlin stand with both feet on the basis of the present. They do not believe in the victory of Britain and France, and consequently they stick to Germany.

Not Soviet Plot for Revolution

In order to understand the Soviet policy in all its unexpected turns it is necessary to reject, above all, the absurd idea that Mr. Stalin wants to foment world revolution by means of war. If the Kremlin strove to this end, how could it sacrifice its influence over the international working class for the sake of occupying some border territories?

The fate of the revolution will not be decided in Galicia, nor in Estonia, nor in Latvia, nor in Bessarabia. It will be decided in Germany, but there Mr. Stalin supports Herr Hitler. It will be decided in France and in Britain, but there Mr. Stalin gave a mortal blow to the Communist parties. Since the September pact the Communist party of the United States has not long to live. Poland will survive; the Communist International never.

In reality there is no government in Europe or the whole world which at the present moment would fear the revolution more than the privileged caste ruling the Soviet Union. The Kremlin does not consider itself stable, and revolutions are contagious. Precisely because the Kremlin fears revolution, it fears the war that leads to revolution. To make the Kremlin change its policy there remains only one way, but a sure one. It is necessary to give Herr Hitler such a decisive blow that Mr. Stalin will cease to fear him. In this sense, it is possible to say that the most important key to the Kremlin's policy is now in Washington.

June 18, 2017

1949. American Occupation Troops in Germany Celebrate the Fourth of July

Fourth of July in Europe
"Entrance to the Anchor Service Club in Wannsee, Berlin," August 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 4, 1949

There is a big effort underway today to take the German accent out of the Fourth of July in Berlin, and with today's perfect weather, fireworks, and an old-fashioned picnic, it looks like we might succeed.

The main celebration for the hundreds of GIs and American military government employees is at the Anchor Club on the banks of Wannsee lake. There will be a regatta with boats from the British and French sectors competing with the Americans. An old-fashioned barbecue is scheduled. There will be a horseshoe pitching contest, a badminton playoff, softball, soda pop and lemonade.

But the high point of the day will come this afternoon when the loveliest frauleins will parade in a beauty contest to select "Miss Anchor Club of 1949." The winner should be a little honey, because believe me, the GIs here have a monopoly on all the beauty there is in this beat-up city.

The day will wind up with fireworks over the lake—they had been flown in because the only fireworks manufactured here come from the Russian sector, and the Soviets are not letting us have anything that goes bang, holiday or no holiday.

The only thing lacking in today's Fourth of July celebrations in Berlin is the old-fashioned oratory. The closest thing to this is the Independence Day message from General Clarence Huebner, commander of our occupation troops. It took him less than a minute to read it over the American Forces Network.

Huebner warned against complacency in our acceptance of liberty and democracy, and he warned against "false philosophies which promise freedom but result in slavery."

It's no holiday for the fliers on the airlift, but all in all, Independence Day in Germany is just about like it is back home, except we are having a cool, sunny day. It's going to be hard to work up a sweat on a tennis court.

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