July 19, 2017

1945. Cologne in Ruins

A City Decimated by War
"The Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine River near Cologne, demolished by retreating German forces in April 1945" (source)
From The Manchester Guardian, March 7, 1945, p. 5:
—Official Estimate


About 150,000 civilians remain in this fourth city of the Reich, which had a peace-time population of 772,000. Many seem to be of military age, and the discovery of a number of abandoned uniforms suggests that quite a number of these "civilians" were yesterday Wehrmacht or Volkssturm. Only three men of the Volkssturm have so far been taken prisoner in Cologne, and one claimed that he was "really a civilian" and should be sent back home, not to a prisoner-of-war cage.

All civilians are confined to their houses, except to get food and water. The usual Allied proclamations were being posted in the city to-day. Civilians must hand in all cameras, radio sets, and arms. Anybody found in the streets after dark is liable to be shot. Anybody found looting will be shot.

Great quantities of enemy material have already been captured. The prisoners are a mixed crowd. Dozens of different uniforms are reported, and Volkssturm prisoners taken have been dressed in postman's, fireman's, policeman's, air-raid warden's, and every other kind of uniform.

Most of the civilians seemed friendly—even glad that the Allies have arrived. Some were frightened—"Nicht Nazi" ("Not Nazi"), they muttered.


The First Army troops who reached the outskirts of Greater Cologne yesterday morning and pushed through to the green belt dividing the outer city from the main town resumed their drive towards the city centre just before dawn. There is evidence everywhere of unpreparedness, which has taken even army officers by surprise. Many railway bridges over the main roads have been left intact; if these had been blown Allied progress would have been greatly impeded.

Resistance has been on the whole light and scattered. It is too late now for the Germans to do anything about it. Main opposition is still coming from small-arms sniping and some machine-guns. The outer residential areas of Cologne are marked here and there, but not greatly damaged—evidence of the accuracy of Allied bombing.

The Germans were expected to make some sort of stand where the green belt bordering the Ringstrasse separates the outer from the inner city. However, there was the slightest resistance here with no prepared positions. American tanks pushed ahead to cross the huge marshaling yards in the north-west of the city. These were heavily hammered by the air forces and the surrounding houses are nothing but burnt-out, blackened shells amid acres of desolation.


On the left, or north, flank stiffer opposition was met at the Ringstrasse, including heavy and small-arms fire and fire from light A.A. guns. Inside the green belt towards the Rhine Cologne is virtually torn apart. There is street upon street of rubble and devastation.

American infantry elements are using different methods in this city. They are pushing on and by-passing many of the houses instead of clearing up as they go. They are closely following up the tanks and routing out snipers, of whom there are quite a few.

I was amazed to see the difference between the outer parts of the city—the little-damaged residential parts—and the utter wreckage in the industrial areas. The marshaling yards were mere masses of twisted, rusty rails, battered trucks, and deep piles of rubble from which dust and smoke were still rising. Crumpled trams stood bullet-ridden and some had been thrown off the rails.

Coming into Cologne I saw, only a mile or so outside the city, several nursery gardens where the greenhouses had all the glass intact.

From a few hundred yards the cathedral looked very little damaged. Some of the Americans carried a "Stars and Stripes" to fly from it. It will probably take a few days before Cologne is completely cleared, not so much on account of the resistance as the size of the place.

There were many straggling groups of civilians, pulling or pushing prams, wheelbarrows, and small wooden carts containing bedding and odd bits of furniture. The outer suburbs were completely deserted, the cobbled roads stretching empty ahead.

While from nearer the Rhine there came sounds of fighting, a spasmodic shot and sometimes the deep rumble of tank engines, the area around the green belt seemed like some dead and long-forgotten town. As I turned corners or drove down some of the broad, straight streets, it was only occasionally that I saw collections of American tanks, men, and motor transport. — Reuters Special Correspondent.


Bill Downs, C.B.S. and Reuters special correspondent with the First United States Army, reported last night:

"It is officially estimated that 85 per cent of Cologne is in ruins. The devastation is far worse than I saw in Stalingrad and there is nothing anywhere in Britain to compare with it. Although the official estimate is that 85 per cent of the city is in ruins, from what I saw to-day I should say that the figure is more like 95 per cent.

"Allied air forces have dropped some 42,000 bombs on Cologne in four years. To see the effects of the bombing numbs your brain.

"Air Force officers say that there are 65 other German cities just like Cologne, and Düsseldorf will probably be worse."

July 18, 2017

1943. "Orchestrated Hell" by Edward R. Murrow

Orchestrated Hell

In December 1943, Edward R. Murrow joined an RAF bomber crew in an Avro Lancaster during a major air raid over Berlin. He described the experience in a broadcast after returning to London. The text has been adapted from American Rhetoric:
Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

December 3, 1943

DOUGLAS EDWARDS: CBS World News now brings you a special broadcast from London. Columbia's correspondent, Edward R. Murrow, was on one of the RAF bombing planes that smashed at Berlin last night, in one of the heaviest attacks of the war. Forty-one bombers were lost in the raid, and three out of the five correspondents who flew with the raiders failed to return.

For Mr. Murrow's story of the attack, we take you now to London.

EDWARD R. MURROW: This is London.

Last night, some of the young gentlemen of the RAF took me to Berlin. The pilot was called Jock. The crew captains walked into the briefing room, looked at the maps and charts, and sat down with their big celluloid pads on their knees. The atmosphere was that of a school and a church. The weatherman gave us the weather. The pilots were reminded that Berlin is Germany's greatest center of war production. The intelligence officer told us how many heavy and light ack-ack guns, how many searchlights we might expect to encounter.

Then, Jock, the wing commander, explained the system of markings, the kind of flares that would be used by the pathfinders. He said that concentration was the secret of success in these raids; that as long as the aircraft stayed well-bunched, they would protect each other.

The captains of aircraft walked out. I noticed that the big Canadian with the slow, easy grin had printed "Berlin" at the top of his pad and then embellished it with a scroll. The redheaded English boy with the two-weeks-old mustache was the last to leave the room.

Late in the afternoon we went to the locker room to draw parachutes, Mae Wests and all the rest. As we dressed, a couple of the Australians were whistling. Walking out to the bus that was to take us to the aircraft, I heard the station loudspeakers announcing that that evening all personnel would be able to see a film—Star-Spangled Rhythm—free.

We went out and stood around the big, black four-motored Lancaster, "D for Dog." A small station wagon delivered a thermos bottle of coffee, chewing gum, an orange, and a bit of chocolate for each man.

Up in that part of England the air hums and throbs with the sound of aircraft motors all day, but for half an hour before takeoff the skies are dead, silent, and expectant.

A lone hawk hovered over the airfield, absolutely still as he faced into the wind. Jack, the tail gunner, said, "It'd be nice to fly like that."

D-Dog eased around the perimeter track to the end of the runway. We sat there for a moment. The green light flashed and we were rolling. Ten seconds ahead of schedule.

The takeoff was smooth as silk. The wheels came up, and D-Dog started the long climb. As we came up through the clouds, I looked right and left and counted fourteen black Lancasters climbing for the place where men must burn oxygen to live. The sun was going down and its red glow made rivers of lakes of fire on tops of the clouds. Down to the southward, the clouds piled up to form castles, battlements, and whole cities, all tinged with red.

Soon we were out over the North Sea. Dave, the navigator, asked Jock if he couldn't make a little more speed. We were nearly two minutes late.

By this time, we were all using oxygen. The talk on the intercom was brief and crisp. Everyone sounded relaxed. For a while, the eight of us in our little world in exile moved over the sea. There was a quarter moon on the starboard beam, and Jock's quiet voice came through the intercom, "That'll be flak ahead." We were approaching the enemy coast.

The flak looked like a cigarette lighter in a dark room—one that won't light, sparks but no flame—the sparks crackling just above the level of the cloud tops. We flew steady and straight, and soon the flak was directly below us. D-Dog rocked a little from right to left, but that wasn't caused by the flak. We were in the slipstream of other Lancasters ahead, and we were over the enemy coast.

And then a strange thing happened. The aircraft seemed to grow smaller. Jack in the rear turret, Wally the mid-upper gunner, Titch the wireless operator, all seemed somehow to draw closer to Jock in the cockpit. It was as though each man's shoulder was against the others. The understanding was complete. The intercom came to life, and Jock said, "Two aircraft on the port beam."

Jack in the tail said, "Okay, sir. They're Lancs." The whole crew was a unit and wasn't wasting words.

The cloud below was ten-tenths. The blue-green jet of the exhausts licked back along the leading edge, and there were other aircraft all around us. The whole great aerial armada was hurtling towards Berlin.

We flew so for twenty minutes, when Jock looked up at a vapor trail curling across above us, remarking in a conversational tone that, from the look of it, he thought there was a fighter up there. Occasionally the angry red of ack-ack burst through the clouds, but it was far away, and we took only an academic interest. We were flying in the third wave.

Jock asked Wally in the mid-upper turret, and Jack in the rear turret, if they were cold. They said they were all right and thanked him for asking. He even asked how I was and I said, "All right so far."

The cloud was beginning to thin out. Off to the north we could see lights, and the flak began to liven up ahead of us.

Buzz, the bomb-aimer, crackled through on the intercom, "There's a battle going on the starboard beam." We couldn't see the aircraft, but we could see the jets of red tracer being exchanged.

Suddenly, there was a burst of yellow flame and Jock remarked, "That's a fighter going down. Note the position."

The whole thing was interesting, but remote. Dave, the navigator, who was sitting back with his maps, charts, and compasses, said, "The attack ought to begin in exactly two minutes." We were still over the clouds.

But suddenly those dirty gray clouds turned white. We were over the outer searchlight defenses. The clouds below us were white, and we were black. D-Dog seemed like a black bug on a white sheet. The flak began coming up, but none of it close. We were still a long way from Berlin. I didn't realize just how far.

Jock observed, "There's a kite on fire dead ahead." It was a great, golden, slow-moving meteor slanting toward the earth. By this time we were about thirty miles from our target area in Berlin. That thirty miles was the longest flight I have ever made.

Dead on time, Buzz the bomb-aimer reported, "Target indicators going down." At the same moment, the sky ahead was lit up by bright yellow flares. Off to starboard another kite went down in flames. The flares were sprouting all over the sky; reds and greens and yellows, and we were flying straight for the center of the fireworks.

D-Dog seemed to be standing still, the four propellers thrashing the air, but we didn't seem to be closing in. The clouds had cleared, and off to the starboard a Lanc was caught by at least fourteen searchlight beams. We could see him twist and turn and finally break out. But still, the whole thing had a quality of unreality about it. No one seemed to be shooting at us, but it was getting lighter all the time.

Suddenly, a tremendous big blob of yellow light appeared dead ahead; another to the right and another to the left. We were flying straight for them.

Jock pointed out to me the dummy fires and flares to right and left, but we kept going in. Dead ahead there was a whole chain of red flares looking like stoplights. Another Lanc was coned on our starboard beam. The lights seemed to be supporting it. Again we could see those little bubbles of colored lead driving at it from two sides. The German fighters were at him. And then, with no warning at all, D-Dog was filled with an unhealthy white light.

I was standing just behind Jock and could see all the seams on the wings. His quiet Scots voice beat into my ears, "Steady lads, we've been coned." His slender body lifted half out of the seat as he jammed the control column forward and to the left. We were going down.

Jock was wearing woolen gloves with the fingers cut off. I could see his fingernails turn white as he gripped the wheel. And then I was on my knees, flat on the deck, for he had whipped the Dog back into a climbing turn. The knees should have been strong enough to support me, but they weren't, and the stomach seemed in some danger of letting me down too.

I picked myself up and looked out again. It seemed that one big searchlight, instead of being twenty thousand feet below, was mounted right on our wingtip. D-Dog was corkscrewing. As we rolled down on the other side, I began to see what was happening to Berlin.

The clouds were gone, and the sticks of incendiaries from the preceding waves made the place look like a badly laid-out city with the streetlights on. The small incendiaries were going down like a fistful of white rice thrown on a piece of black velvet.

As Jock hauled the Dog up again, I was thrown to the other side of the cockpit. And there below were more incendiaries, glowing white and then turning red. The cookies, the four-thousand-pound high explosives, were bursting below like great sunflowers gone mad. And then, as we started down again, still held in the lights, I remembered that the Dog still had one of those cookies and a whole basket of incendiaries in his belly, and the lights still held us, and I was very frightened.

While Jock was flinging us about in the air, he suddenly flung over the intercom, "Two aircraft on the port beam." I looked astern and saw Wally, the mid-upper, whip his turret around to port, and then looked up to see a single-engine fighter slide just above us. The other aircraft was one of ours.

Finally, we were out of the cone, flying level. I looked down, and the white fires had turned red. They were beginning to merge and spread, just like butter does on a hot plate. Jock and Buzz, the bomb-aimer, began to discuss the target. The smoke was getting thick down below. Buzz said he liked the two green flares on the ground almost dead ahead. He began calling his directions. And just then a new bunch of big flares went down on the far side of the sea of flame and flare that seemed to be directly below us. He thought that would be a better aiming point. Jock agreed and we flew on.

The bomb doors were opened. Buzz called his directions: "Five left, five left." And then there was a gentle, confident upward thrust under my feet and Buzz said, "Cookie gone." A few seconds later, the incendiaries went, and D-Dog seemed lighter and easier to handle. I thought I could make out the outline of streets below, but the bomb-aimer didn't agree, and he ought to know.

By this time, all those patches of white on black had turned yellow and started to flow together. Another searchlight caught us but didn't hold us. Then, through the intercom came the word, "One can of incendiaries didn't clear. We're still carrying it."

And Jock replied, "Is it a big one or a little one?"

The word came back: "Little one, I think, but I'm not sure. I'll check." More of those yellow flares came down and hung about us. I haven't seen so much light since the war began.

Finally, the intercom announced that it was only a small container of incendiaries left, and Jock remarked, "Well, it's hardly worth going back and doing another run up for that." If there had been a good fat bundle left, he would have gone back through that stuff and done it all over again. I began to breathe, and to reflect again—that all men would be brave if only they could leave their stomachs at home—when there was a tremendous whoomph, an unintelligible shout from the tail gunner, and D-Dog shivered and lost altitude. I looked to the port side and there was a Lancaster that seemed close enough to touch. He had whipped straight under us, missed us by twenty-five, fifty feet, no one knew how much.

The navigator sang out the new course and we were heading for home. And Jock was doing what I had heard him tell his pilots to do so often: flying dead on course. He flew straight into a huge green searchlight, and as he rammed the throttles home remarked, "We'll have a little trouble getting away from this one." And again D-Dog dove, climbed, and twisted, and was finally free. We flew level then. I looked on the port beam at the target area. There was a red, sullen, obscene glare. The fires seemed to have found each other and we were heading home.

For a little while it was smooth sailing. We saw more battles. Then another plane in flames, but no one could tell whether it was ours or theirs.

We were still near the target. Dave, the navigator said, "Hold her steady, skipper. I want to get an astral sight." And Jock held her steady. And the flak began coming up at us. It seemed to be very close. It was winking off both wings, but the Dog was steady.

Finally, Dave said, "Okay, skipper. Thank you very much."

And a great orange blob of flak smacked up straight in front of us, and Jock said "I think they're shooting at us."

I'd thought so for some time. And he began to throw D for Dog up, around, and about again. When we were clear of the barrage, I asked him how close the bursts were, and he said, "Not very close. When they're really near, you can smell 'em." That proved nothing, for I'd been holding my breath.

Jack sang out from the rear turret, said his oxygen was getting low—thought maybe the lead had frozen. Titch, the wireless operator, went scrambling back with a new mask and a bottle of oxygen. Dave, the navigator, said, "We're crossing the coast."

My mind went back to the time I had crossed that coast in 1938, in a plane that had taken off from Prague. Just ahead of me sat two refugees from Vienna, an old man and his wife. The copilot came back and told them that we were outside German territory. The old man reached out and grasped his wife's hand. The work that was done last night was a massive blow of retribution, for all those who have fled from the sound of shots and blows on a stricken continent.

We began to lose height over the North Sea. We were over England's shores. The land was dark beneath us. Somewhere down there below, American boys were probably bombing up Fortresses and Liberators, getting ready for the day's work. We were over the home field. We called the control tower and the calm, clear voice of an English girl replied, "Greetings D-Dog. You are diverted to Mulebag."

We swung round, contacted Mulebag, came in on the flare path, touched down very gently, ran along to the end of the runway and turned left. And Jock, the finest pilot in Bomber Command, said to the control tower, "D-Dog clear of runway."

When we went in for interrogation, I looked on the board and saw that the big, slow-smiling Canadian and the redheaded English boy with the two-weeks-old mustache hadn't made it. They were missing.

There were four reporters on this operation. Two of them didn't come back. Two friends of mine, Norman Stockton of Australian Associated Newspapers, and Lowell Bennett, an American representing International News Service.

There is something of a tradition amongst reporters, that those who are prevented by circumstances from filing their stories will be covered by their colleagues. This has been my effort to do so. In the aircraft in which I flew, the men who flew and fought it poured into my ears their comments on fighters, flak, and flares in the same tone that they would have used in reporting a host of daffodils. I have no doubt that Bennett and Stockton would have given you a better report of last night's activities.

Berlin was a kind of orchestrated hell. A terrible symphony of light and flame.

It isn't a pleasant kind of warfare. The men doing it speak of it as a job. Yesterday afternoon, when the tapes were stretched out on the big map all the way to Berlin and back again, a young pilot with old eyes said to me, "I see we're working again tonight."

That's the frame of mind in which the job is being done. The job isn't pleasant. It's terribly tiring. Men die in the sky while others are roasted alive in their cellars.

Berlin last night wasn't a pretty sight. In about thirty-five minutes it was hit with about three times the amount of stuff that ever came down on London in a night-long blitz.

This is a calculated, remorseless campaign of destruction. Right now the mechanics are probably working on D-Dog, getting him ready to fly again.

I return you now to CBS, New York.

EDWARDS: You have been listening to Edward R. Murrow in an eyewitness report of his experiences in one of the bombers that raided Berlin last night. At 6:45pm, Eastern War Time, Mr. Murrow will again be heard over most of these stations with a report on the highlights of his story.

This is the Columbia Broadcasting System.

July 17, 2017

1946. CBS Appeals to Stalin Over Soviet Ban on Foreign News Broadcasts

Moscow Makes Radio Ban Permanent
Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Harry Truman meet at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 (source)
Article by Jack Gould in The New York Times, November 9, 1946:
CBS Urged Premier to Rescind Barrier to Correspondents of American Networks

The Columbia Broadcasting System appealed directly to Joseph Stalin yesterday to reverse the Russian government's denial of broadcasting facilities to the American network correspondents in Moscow. The fact that the correspondents had been silenced by the Soviet Union was first acknowledged by the networks on Thursday.

In a cable signed by Edward R. Murrow, network vice president, CBS advised Premier Stalin that it would withdraw its correspondent, Richard C. Hottelet, unless he could resume news broadcasts.

The American Broadcast Company sought the aid of Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, American Ambassador to Russia, in restoring short-wave relay facilities to the correspondents. In a cable to General Smith, Robert E. Kintner, vice president of the chain, said that the American broadcasts from Moscow had contributed to a better understanding between the United States and Russia.

NBC Maintains Silence

The National Broadcasting Company refrained from any formal comment on the international controversy, but was understood to be anxious to maintain representation in Moscow, even if its correspondents could not broadcast directly. The NBC correspondent, Robert Magidoff, also represents The Daily Telegraph of London.

CBS's action in cabling directly to Premier Stalin was believed to have been prompted by the success of several such direct appeals by newspaper correspondents. The text of the CBS cable follows:

"Our correspondent in Moscow, Richard C. Hottelet, advised us on Oct. 8 that facilities for broadcasting from Moscow had been withdrawn. Repeated efforts to secure reconsideration of this decision have been unavailing. It is our desire to report the news of Russia by radio, but the denial of facilities makes this impossible. Therefore, unless your Government's decision is reconsidered, we shall withdraw our correspondent forthwith."

Criticism of Book Cited

Meanwhile, CBS officials said they had not heard of any connection between Russia's institution of the radio ban on Oct. 7 and the publication forty-eight hours earlier of the book entitled "Behind the Iron Curtain," by George Moorad. Mr. Moorad, who was in Portland, Ore. yesterday, had represented CBS in Moscow during the winter of 1944-45.

In the book, Mr. Moorad had been sharply critical of the censorship regulations imposed on radio correspondents. Frank Mason, head of Fireside Press, Inc., which published the book, said that both Tass, the official Russian news agency, and the magazine Soviet Today had requested copies upon its publication. Mr. Mason is a former vice-president of NBC.
Article by Drew Middleton in The New York Times, November 20, 1946, pp. 1, 23:
Ban on Foreign Broadcasts Made Permanent by Moscow

MOSCOW, Nov. 19 — Radio broadcasting by foreign correspondents from Moscow has been formally abolished, according to a statement made tonight by the press department of the Foreign Office. The statement was handed to Richard Hottelet, Moscow correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System. Mr. Hottelet, as well as Edmund Stevens of the American Broadcasting Company and Robert Magidoff of the National Broadcasting Company have not been able to broadcast from Moscow since Oct. 8, when they were informed that there would no longer be time available for them on the Moscow radio for broadcasting to the United States.

Radio broadcasting by correspondents from Moscow was a "temporary measure," instituted because of communication difficulties during the war, the statement said. The restoration of "ordinary means of communication" and difficulties of finding time for news broadcasts to the United States contributed to the abolition of all these broadcasts, the statement said.

The text of the statement follows:

"In connection with your telegram of 8 Nov., 1946, concerning radio broadcasts from Moscow by your correspondent, Mr. Hottelet, the press department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. has been charged by the chiefs of the Ministry to inform you of the following:

"One, that previously foreign correspondents did not have radio broadcasts from Moscow but sent their correspondence by telegraph.

"Two, during the war two or three correspondents were given the possibility, as a temporary measure, to transmit information by radio in connection with the fact that other means of communication were difficult because of the war.

"Three, recent cessation of these radio broadcasts means abolition of this temporary measure in the conditions of normal functioning of ordinary means of communication, and also provision of time for these radio broadcasts is difficult because of overburdening of radio stations.

"Correspondents who temporarily had the possibility of radio broadcasting may, if they want to, continue their work as before and send their correspondence in the usual manner as it was previously, before the war."

Both Mr. Stevens and Mr. Magidoff are employed by other news organizations, the former by The Christian Science Monitor, and the latter by The Exchange Telegraph. Mr. Hottelet has no other affiliation.

Statement Follows a Protest

The text of the statement by the press department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was received last night by the Columbia Broadcasting System from its Moscow correspondent, Richard C. Hottelet.

"CBS is withholding further comment until it receives information regarding representations it understands are now being made by the United States State Department," a CBS spokesman said. He referred to a request made on Nov. 8 by CBS to the State Department to intervene with the Russian Government in an effort to obtain a reversal of its decision. On the same day Edward R. Murrow, CBS vice president, sent a cablegram of protest to Premier Joseph Stalin. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement was a reply to that cablegram.

Mr. Hottelet, in his cablegram to CBS, said the Russian statement was dated Nov. 19, bore no signature, and "was handed to me by Vassilienko, the acting chief of the press department of the Foreign Office."

"I asked whether this also specifically included radio telephone facilities," Mr. Hottelet continued. "He emphasized the first point, which states that correspondents before the war sent their messages by telegraph and he further pointed out to me that the last words specified a return to pre-war procedure."

The National and American Broadcasting Companies withheld comment on the Russian Government's action.

July 16, 2017

1949. The Adenauer Government Begins Work

Currency Reform for the Deutsche Mark
Future Chancellor Konrad Adenauer during a meeting of the Parliamentary Council, September 1, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 22, 1949

The first major act of the new Federal Republic of Germany will be to devaluate the Western Deutsche mark in line with the worldwide currency reshuffle now underway.

This is evident this morning after an important executive session with the three High Commissioners of Germany, a session aimed at establishing the mark on a competitive basis with the new values of world currency.

No official announcements have come from last night's meeting, but reports are circulating today that the Deutsche mark, which is now worth 33 cents, may be cut to a figure somewhere between 19 to 24 cents. British occupation authorities, mindful that the United Kingdom must compete with German goods on the foreign market, are favoring the larger figure which would keep the price of German exports high. American policy favors a more liberal rate in order to spur German recovery.

Announcement of the mark devaluation is expected to come tonight or tomorrow.

The German Republic is now officially 27 hours old. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer notified the American, British, and French occupation authorities of the formation of his government at 11:17 yesterday. In accepting the government, the three military governors automatically became High Commissioners, and the Allied occupation statute went into force. To a large extent, the West German government is now on its own.

Reaction from the Soviet zone of Germany to Western currency manipulation and the confirmation of the new German Republic have been vitriolic and somewhat confused.

Our old friend, Communist leader Gerhart Eisler who fled from America, has entered the picture again. He is the new head of the East Germany education bureau in charge of a propaganda campaign to "explain" the currency crisis in the West.

I am informed that this campaign will be threefold. First, to sell the idea that the currency devaluations are the first step in America's goal of world-mastery. Second, that the European governments were forced by the United States to devalue. And finally, that this proves that the Marshall European aid plan is a complete failure.

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

July 15, 2017

1949. Adenauer Set to Form Coalition; Manstein Trial Underway

Erich von Manstein on Trial in Hamburg
Field Marshal Erich von Manstein smokes a cigar on the Eastern Front in 1943
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

August 24, 1949

Dr. Konrad Adenauer, leader of the Christian Democratic party, today has confirmed what everyone knew anyway—that he will be the first chancellor of the new Federal Republic of Germany.

The 73-year-old Rhinelander made the announcement at his first post-election press conference in Bonn.

He said negotiations to form a coalition of right-wing parties is now underway, and that the Socialists, only eight seats behind the Christian Democrats in the parliament, will go into opposition. This opposition, according to the chancellor-to-be, is a healthy innovation in German politics. Adenauer said that the German people were not educated in parliamentary practice during the Weimar government; that the pattern of politics here always has been a coalition of two equally strong elements which makes for the kind of governmental sterility that produced Hitler.

"The German people," he said, "must become accustomed that when one of the big parties takes over the leadership, the other major party goes into opposition as in Anglo-Saxon democracy.

Dr. Ludwig Erhard will take over the important ministry of economics to continue the free enterprise policies backed by thew American military government and approved in the recent electoral mandate.

If the Adenauer government is looking for opposition in the German parliament, it is going to get it. The Social Democratic Party today announces that they will fight the conservative program of the Christian Democrats and seek to take control from "the reactionaries, the bankers, and industrialists and wholesalers who will make the policy."

In Hamburg today, the war crimes trial of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein goes into its second day. The 61-year-old military leader this morning pleaded not guilty to all of the seventeen counts which allege that he was responsible for atrocities committed by his troops in their march through Poland and into Russia. These charges accuse Manstein of complicity in the execution of Jews, partisans, and the forced movement of populations.

The former field marshal appeared in court today smoking a cigar. Although suffering from an eye disorder, he appeared healthy. Two British and two German lawyers are acting as defense. Costs of defense are provided by a $10,000 fund collected in Germany and England. Winston Churchill recently contributed $400 to the pool.

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

July 14, 2017

1944. British Troops Batter Through Enemy Forces

Battle of the Odon
"An ammunition carrier of the British 11th Armoured Division explodes after it is hit by a mortar round during Operation Epsom," June 26, 1944 (source)
From The Manchester Guardian, June 28, 1944, p. 5:
Many Clashes with Enemy Tanks, but "Tigers" Avoid Pitched Battle
From Edward Gilling, Exchange Telegraph War Correspondent


Battering their way through enemy forces British troops to-day got astride the main Caen-Villers Bocage road in the Grainville-Mouen area south of Cheux. This represented an advance of several thousand yards during this morning after heavy fighting all along the sector where the British forces are attacking.

The enemy threw in his tanks in an effort to throw back our forces, but found our armour covering our infantry ready and willing to engage them. Several clashes with German Panthers followed in which a number of enemy tanks were knocked out. Our anti-tank gunners also did good work in accounting for five Panthers which tried to get round the back of our advancing infantry.

There was a considerable amount of confused fighting on and around "Banana Ridge," which is a dominating feature near Cheux commanding a large area of open country to the south. It was around here that our anti-tank gunners succeeded in knocking out the five Panthers, which formed part of a squadron of enemy tanks and which the enemy had sent out from his right flank in an endeavour to cut through our infantry.

The infantry on the slopes had their anti-tank screen of 17-pounders and 6-pounders cleverly hidden, and as the German tanks came in they met with a hot reception. Enemy artillery which had been rushed up, including a large number of "88" dual-purpose guns, supported their tanks in this clash, but they were quickly engaged by our infantry.

Later this morning, as our infantry pushed forward towards the Caen-Villers road, the enemy sent out another force of Tigers and Panthers with the object of getting around and behind our infantry and cutting them off. But our tanks were ready, and a series of clashes occurred in which some enemy tanks were knocked out.


It was a night of drenching rain that the British attack was resumed this morning under blue skies which promised much better weather. But the blue skies did not remain for long, and later heavy clouds again blew up.

Enemy tanks which had apparently been switched tried to break up our infantry as they pushed forward down the slopes. Enemy infantry in the orchards mortared and machine-gunned, but our forces got in among them, burning out many of these nests.

The enemy covered the roads and lanes with mortar and machine-gun fire at many points, but our infantry pushed through, while behind them came our tanks, always ready and willing to lend a helping hand in clearing up these enemy strong points. There was, however, bitter fighting in some of the woods and orchards purely between infantry, as it was impossible here for our tanks to get access to help our infantry owing to the close nature of the country.

Churning up mud as they ploughed across the countryside, our tanks were, however, always near at hand should the enemy try his old trick of sending out his tanks to get round the back of our infantry and cut them off.


It was after our infantry had crossed the railway just north of the Caen-Villers road that the enemy tanks came in from the west.

They milled around more in a threatening attitude than attempting to come on in any great strength. Then they found our tanks forming a solid wall behind our infantry, and the Tigers and Panthers apparently preferred firing from hull-down positions to engaging in a tank versus tank battle at this point.

The enemy infantry were using every piece of cover that they were able to find, and sniping and counter-sniping went on in long grass and cornfields. Sometimes our infantry made ground rapidly before running against Germans defending strong points, often in farm yards. Always the enemy fought fiercely to hang on to these positions.


Although our force had got astride the main road by noon, which represented an advance of several thousand yards to-day, enemy opposition appeared to be stiffening. The enemy appears to be recovering from the surprise of the first punch.

Fighting around the ridge at Rauray, a mile north of Grainville, was particularly severe, and the ground changed hands several times. This ridge is thickly wooded, and our infantry had to face continual infiltration by the enemy who, after surrendering a few hundred yards of ground, came back again to dispute it hotly.

The enemy put down heavy fire on the railway just north of the main road, but our infantry got across quickly while our guns took on the enemy on our right flank. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting took place for the crossing of a small stream, the banks of which were littered with dead.


Ross Munro (Canadian press war correspondent) said in a dispatch last night that British infantry reached Colleville in heavy fighting. A British officer said the retreating Germans left great numbers of snipers hidden in tree-tops. "They were pests," he said, "and our tanks fired bursts into every tree they passed."

German guns south of Marcelet checked a British advance to the St. Manvieu area during the night, but were unable to prevent the drive to Colleville. West of Colleville eight German tanks attacked before dawn at Grainville, but four were knocked out and the remainder fell back.


Bill Downs, C.B.S. commentator, broadcasting from Normandy last night, said that British troops had reached the Odon River some six miles south-west of Caen. "This is a most important development," Downs said. "The British troops are now creating a steady threat to the south-western flank of the Caen defences. The Germans are fighting back stubbornly with their guns and tanks. They are, however, short of infantry." — REUTERS

July 13, 2017

1949. Edward R. Murrow Slams HUAC's Rule Changes for Journalists

Murrow on the House Un-American Activities Committee
Edward R. Murrow at the microphone in the early 1950s (source)
From The New York Times, February 6, 1949:
Murrow Assails Ban on Radio and TV

The following are excerpts from Mr. Murrow's broadcast last Tuesday over CBS:

The House Un-American Activities Committee unanimously, without any debate, has decided to bar, from its opening hearings, all reporters other than those using pen and pencil. In future there will be no news reels, television, or direct broadcasts and no recordings. The chairman of the committee, Representative John S. Wood of Georgia, told us that, speaking purely for himself, he felt that cables, lights and other technical gear required for recording and filming tend to slow up hearings, and have the net effect of turning them into a circus.

Now, there have been many charges in the past that the House Committee on Un-American Activities has been more interested in publicity than investigation. That is a matter of opinion. But it seems to me pertinent to inquire as to whether the filming, broadcasting and televising of the committee hearings contributed to the creation of what has been called a "circus atmosphere." Did anybody fake a recording? Did television transmit any pictures that were not true pictures? Did the microphone misquote anybody? That, of course, is one of the troubles with a microphone; it is both neutral and revealing.

Access to Sight

Clearly, the House Committee on Un-American Activities will hold many closed hearings from which all reporters will be barred. That is a traditional and often useful practice, but I would maintain that a public hearing is a public hearing, and that to deny the use of microphones and cameras to deny reporters who normally use them is the equivalent of saying to newspaper reporters: You may attend the hearing, but you may not bring either pencil or pen with you.

I think that what is involved here is rather important. No question of violation of privacy arises, for these are public hearings. No issue of security is involved. There is no compulsion upon the listener or the viewer; he is entirely free not to listen or to look.

It seems to me that any action that arbitrarily limits the citizen's access to sight, sound and print, upon which opinion can be based, is, in the true sense of the phrase, un-American.

July 12, 2017

1948. Eastern Sector Communists Oppose the West Berlin Election

Upcoming Elections Threaten to Disrupt UN Negotiations
Anti-American cartoon from East Germany (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 28, 1948

The next seven days most likely will decide the fate of the current United Nations attempts to solve the Berlin crisis. And the decision will be made here in Berlin, not in the UN.

This is the opinion of a high military government official with whom I talked today—and it would appear that the Berlin problem is about to enter a new phase of crisis.

The issue hinges around the city elections to be held in the blockaded Western sections of the city next week. The Western powers have given official permission for the elections to be held under the provisional constitution of Berlin. The Soviet military government has declared them illegal.

Russian authorities have warned that these elections will mean a complete split of the city, and today Communist-sponsored political parties and labor unions are calling for a separate city government in the Eastern sector which, in their words, "would create a democratic order for all of Berlin."

The international importance of this move, if it develops that Berlin is split into two cities, is that it changes the whole basis for negotiating a settlement of this critical problem—in the UN or any place else.

The United Nations peacemakers have been attempting to bring the opposing powers together on the issue of the blockade and on the issue of uniform currency for the city.

However, if the anticipated official bisection of Berlin occurs, then there imposes itself still another problem for settlement among the great powers.

It would mean still another violation of the Yalta agreement for four-power administration of Berlin as a whole, and would place the Berlin problem on a more hazardous basis than even the blockade has imposed.

In other words, if Berlin becomes two cities after the Western sector elections on December 5th, then the basis for the present United Nations peace efforts will be changed, and the efforts of Mr. Bramuglia and Mr. Evatt will have failed.

The next step? No one knows. But there are still seven days to go before the Berlin crisis becomes even more critical.

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 29, 1948

The Communist Party of Germany has refused to run candidates in the crucial Berlin elections next Sunday, but in this final week of campaigning it is the Communists who are making the most noise and causing the most disturbance in their attempts to discredit and break up the elections.

At two meetings—one a right-wing Liberal Democratic Party meeting, the other a Socialist Party meeting—young Communists attempted to break up the campaign sessions.

At the Liberal Party meeting about 150 young men began singing "The Internationale" during the candidates' speeches. The Liberal Democrats joined with German police to throw the Communists out of the meeting.

In the American sector, five men were arrested from a group wearing red shirts who tried to break up a Socialist Party meeting. There was a short fight in which authorities relieved one demonstrator of his knife.

And last night when I came home, pasted on my garage gate was a sticker that said: "On December 5th, if you vote, you split Berlin. If you do not vote: Unity." The sticker was signed "The Democratic Bloc of Berlin."

Military government officials say that a Communist campaign of intimidation against the Western sector voters has now been launched. Incidents are expected to increase. However, responsible American military government officials predict that between 85 and 90 percent of those registered to vote will be at the polls next Sunday.

American commandant Colonel Frank Howley said that no disturbances would be allowed during the campaign. "This is an issue of ballots versus force—and we recognize ballots."

And a final election note. In Lower Saxony, German citizens held their elections yesterday. With 75 percent of the vote counted, the Socialists lead with 38 percent, the Christian Democrats with 23 percent, the Deutsche Democratic Party with 18 percent, and the Communist Party with three percent. This means that the Communists lost thirty percent of the vote they cast at the previous election.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 30, 1948

Today's assembly by the so-called "Democratic Bloc of Berlin" began meeting an hour ago with the announced purpose of establishing a "truly democratic city government for all of Berlin." This meeting is being attended by leading members of the Communist-sponsored Socialist Unity Party, by leaders of the Communist-sponsored Federation of Trade Unions, and by Soviet-endorsed city officials now in office in the Eastern sector.

This is the Communist answer to the elections set for next Sunday in the blockaded Western part of the city—an election which the Communists have boycotted and which the Soviet military government calls illegal.

After the so-called "Democratic Bloc assembly meeting" in the State Opera House, the Eastern sector political leaders have called for a mass meeting on Unter den Linden before the Humboldt University. The Socialist Unity Party ordered that Eastern sector workers lay down their tools at noon and attend the mass meeting, which should draw a crowd of some 200,000 persons. This mass meeting, which is scheduled to begin in half an hour, will be harangued in protest against the December 5th elections, it will be advised of the plan to set up a separate government for "all of Berlin" in the Eastern part of the city—and presumably the cheers of the meeting will endorse the action.

Hundreds of East sector workers are now streaming through the foggy streets of the Russian sector to the university on Unter den Linden.

Ten thousand German police in the American, British, and French sectors have been alerted for possible trouble. Special patrols of German police radio cars accompanied by Western military police will patrol the sector borders to ensure peace and security.

This action follows by only a few hours a protest letter sent by Marshall Sokolovsky to the three Western military governors. The letter places blame for the internal crisis in the city on the Western powers.

General Clay, who is in Frankfurt today, replied that the December 5th elections are a German affair and that we neither approve nor disapprove of them. The elections are provided for in the Berlin provisional constitution signed by all four occupying powers.

Heavy fog, which has been blanketing Central Europe the past several days, has completely shut down the airlift. There have been no deliveries over the blockade since about three o'clock Berlin time yesterday afternoon.

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 30, 1948

Berlin is now split into two separate cities.

At an extraordinary meeting in the State Opera House in the Soviet sector of the city, the Communist faction of the Berlin city administration declared that the present magistrate—that is the city council and city assembly—has not fulfilled its duties and therefore is dismissed.

A resolution setting up a so-called "temporary democratic magistrate" was adopted unanimously by the Russian-sponsored assembly.

What it means is that the Communist faction has taken the initiative in finally dividing Berlin into Eastern and Western cities—an action which they claim was precipitated by the scheduled elections in the Western part of the city next Sunday.

It is certain that the American, British, and French military governments in Berlin will not recognize this precipitous action by the so-called Democratic Bloc from the Soviet sector. The action of dismissing the magistrate is not expected to influence the Western sector elections set for next Sunday.

Here's a late bulletin:

The son of the former president of the Weimar government, Friedrich Ebert, has just been elected the new Oberbürgermeister for Berlin by the Soviet-sponsored assembly.

July 11, 2017

1933. Fascism Spreads Across Europe

Far-Right Nationalist Movements Emerge Throughout the Continent
"Members of the Francist Party, one of many fascist leagues in France in the 1930s, march past a church in Paris," February 13, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism.

From The New York Times, September 17, 1933:
While the Mussolini Pattern Has Been Followed in General, The Hitler Modifications Are Popular With Some Groups

A further spread of fascism was seemingly foreshadowed by Chancellor Dollfuss's announcement at Vienna last Monday, when he said, speaking for the Austrian Government: "We will build up a Catholic, German State which will be thoroughly Austrian upon a corporative [Fascist] basis. It will be an authoritarian State, based on corporations formed on occupational lines."

The situation in Austria, coupled with the recent amazing Nazi demonstration at Nuremberg, at which Fascist organizations from other countries were represented, brings to the fore the question of the extent of the Fascist movement and of the variations from the Italian prototype. Where has fascism shown itself in such organized form as to command attention?

But, first, what is now understood by fascism? Sometimes the ends of the Fascists seem vague and confused, but that was said of the first fascio which Benito Mussolini organized in Milan in the Spring of 1929. "Fascio," meaning bundle, indicated merely the strong union of the movement's adherents; the term fascism which grew out of it has been variously interpreted, but in general it signifies a movement for national regulation of the individual without destruction of private property rights. Because of their attitude toward property, the Fascists have been particularly bitter toward socialism and communism.

Mussolini's Imitators

The German Nazis have imitated Mussolini, even in many details, although they have added such departures as race persecution in their efforts to glorify their Teutonic nation; and the rudimentary Fascist movements in other countries have followed either the strict Mussolini or the modified Hitler model. They have sprung up in parliamentary countries like Sweden and Holland, as well as in dictatorial countries like Poland and Hungary—though in few have they mustered, so far, more than a nominal following.

In England there are two Fascist groups, one led by Sir Oswald Mosley, the other composed of admirers of Hitler. Neither party appeals strongly to the British temperament. In Ireland the old Army Comrades Association has taken the name of National Guard, donned blue shirts and set itself as a check on President de Valera and his Republican Army.

The Struggle in Austria

Two Fascist groups vie for control in Austria. The Heimwehr, formed after the World War to protect the new frontiers of the dismembered nation, rose to power when the late Chancellor Seipel used it as a guard against the Socialists. For several years the Heimwehr, although illegal under the Constitution and the peace treaties, enjoyed the open support of the Clerical government. It was strongly present in the crowds that greeted the Chancellor in the great national demonstration at Vienna last week.

Combating the Heimwehr today is the National Socialist movement directed from Germany as part of the Nazi drive. The Austrian Nazis recognize no frontier between their land and Germany. They follow the Hitlerites in all things, including pan-German union and anti-Semitism.

The present Austrian Government is really a Clerical-Fascist dictatorship, with the Heimwehr represented. It governs against, first, the Nazis, and, second, the Socialists, and deals severely with their organizations and their newspapers.

Situation in Hungary

Fascism is more or less in power in Hungary. Premier Gömbös, an admirer of Mussolini, was leader of the Hungarian National-Fascist movement before he took office. This movement grew out of the secret societies that took part against Béla Kun and his Bolsheviki in 1920. At first it inflicted great cruelties upon the Jewish population. Lately it has modified its anti-Semitic attitude.

The German Nazi infection has caused difficulty, especially among university students, but has not been a danger to the State. Pro-German propaganda is unpopular in Hungary, and Professor Bleyer of Budapest University has virtually been driven from his post because of it.

Poland might be called a semi-Fascist State. The government is a dictatorship that tries to keep up the appearance of a parliamentary democracy. Marshal Piłsudski's dictatorship began as anti-Fascist, and with Socialist help in 1926 it defeated a government with Fascist inclinations. Piłsudski, who is not a party leader and has no program, is supported today by a bloc composed of Democrats and Fascists, Monarchists and Socialists, created to uphold the national government. The Fascist groups in this bloc are outspoken, but curb their special ambitions through loyalty to the Marshal.

One organization behind Piłsudski is the Legion of Youth, whose program is radical and calls for nationalization of key industries. The league is neither nationalistic nor anti-Semitic.

The Nationalists, Piłsudski foes on the Right, stand for parliamentary democracy but have strong Fascist leanings and are violently antagonistic toward the Jews. Their party militia, with a membership of about 10,000, has now been dissolved by the government.

Finland's National Patriots

In Finland the National Patriots, strongly Fascist in program, are gaining ground. They are the logical success of the Lapua movement of 1929, which was suspended by the Supreme Court after such excesses as the abduction of ex-President Ståhlberg. Parliamentarianism has no appeal for the National Patriots so long as Communists and Socialists take part in Finnish legislation.

The Patriots would limit citizenship to those belonging to the nation racially, culturally and historically. They would ban the parties of the Left, oblige every citizen to perform work, require the State to provide the work, and exclude all but their own class from public service and control of public expenditure. Intensification of religious and nationalistic instruction is demanded. The movement has a lively nucleus in every parish.

Sweden's Nazis

Sweden is full of dissatisfaction with the machinery of democratic government. Nazism has taken root in the farming districts of the Skåne (Southern Sweden) and there is bigotry toward the Jews and hatred of fixed-price stores and international finance. The Swedish Nazis, however, are hopelessly divided. It is within the Conservative party that really significant developments are happening.

The old Conservative leaders are out of touch with the younger elements, who demand greater activity and the adoption of such propaganda tactics as the Socialists have found successful. Minority groups within the party favor a Fascist policy.

The Italian idea has awakened echoes in Holland ever since 1922, but only since the Hitler success in Germany have the currents against Parliament and democracy gained any force. Today in Holland there are ten Fascist groups, the largest being the National Socialist Movement and the General Dutch Fascist League, both of them looking more toward Italy than toward Germany. At the April election the Fascist groups of all shades in Holland polled less than 2 per cent of the votes.

In Spain the Fascist idea has again become a force, although it operates now without uniforms and rituals. Retired army men long for the "good old days" of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. The middle-class business men yearn with them. Against socialism, which has become strong throughout the country, the Fascist discontent is directed, and Socialist leaders watch the unrest with apprehension.

There is little Fascist organization, however. The army would have to lead any such movement, with the civil elements falling in behind, and the army has been well purged of officers suspected of having anti-socialistic bias.

Fascism in France

The manifestations of fascism in France are confined to one organization (which denies that it is Fascist), and a vague movement for constitutional reform intended to strengthen the government at the expense of the two electoral bodies.

In the league called the Jeunesses Patriotes is a group of extreme nationalists whose doctrines have a Fascist look. The movement, which claims 300,000 adherents, began in 1924 as a reaction against a supposed menace of communism. Two years later it turned its animosities toward Marxism and the cartel of Socialists and Radical Socialists in Parliament.

Czechoslovakia has two Fascist movements, potentially dangerous to the State in event of foreign war, but controllable in normal times. The Czech Fascists are enemies of Foreign Minister Beneš and would like to turn the democratic republic into a national-Fascist State. They are strong, having penetrated the public services, including the army. The other Fascist movement of Czechoslovakia is composed of Germans who wear Hitler brown.

Portugal Is Disturbed

In Portugal the Nacional Sindicalistas take their cue from Rome and Berlin, and their blue-shirt membership, now 18,000, is growing. Royalists and members of the intellectual class support them, Communism is opposed. Democracy is attacked on the ground that it puts the competent and the incompetent on an equal footing and leads to instability of government.

The Sindicalistas demand obligatory syndicalization of workers and popular representation through provinces, municipalities and professional and trade guilds.

Switzerland has Fascist movements, notable among youth. The National Front has lately united the German-Swiss and the French-Swiss Nationalists, and this double organization agitates against the liberalism prevailing in the mountain land. Another group, the Federal Front, is more military and leans toward Hitler.

Yugoslavia, under the rule of King Alexander, tolerates no fascism from either Italy or Germany. Nationalism here employs as its chief instrument the Sokols, gymnastic organizations entirely Pan-Serbian.

Other Balkan Fascists

Around the University of Sofia, in Bulgaria, many battles are fought between students communistically inclined and a growing group of their fellows who have espoused Fascist principles. An older form of Bulgarian fascism finds its expression in Ivan Michailoff's faction of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, which is given to shooting down people who oppose its prime ideal, the liberation of Macedonia and parts of Bulgaria from the Serbs, the Greeks and the Rumanians. The student fascism of Bulgaria is definitely anti-Semitic; the older Fascist movement not at all.

In Rumania the leading exponents of fascism belong to the "Iron Guard" of anti-Semitic Professor Cuza of Jassy University Their program demands, mainly, the expulsion of all Jews. The movement has grown since the World War. Essentially it is a student movement, but in times of economic depression Rumanian governments have more than once allowed the Iron Guard to propagandize the countryside, telling the peasants that the Jews are to blame for the high cost of living.

A more recent Fascist movement in Rumania, under Gregor Filipescu, is somewhat Italian in style and is not essentially anti-Semitic.

Thus has the seed of fascism, sown in Italy after the war, spread through Europe and taken root. In many forms it expresses the discontentment of people under tribulation. In two great countries it has risen to control. In other lands it awaits its opportunity.

July 10, 2017

1960. Senator Everett Dirksen Discusses the Upcoming Presidential Election

Face the Nation with Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen
Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (center) speaks with President Richard Nixon alongside Vice President Spiro Agnew in January 1969 (source)
Transcript from Face the Nation on CBS, June 19, 1960:

ANNOUNCER: You are about to see the Senate Minority Leader, Everett M. Dirksen, Republican of Illinois, Face the Nation, in a spontaneous and unrehearsed interview with veteran correspondents from the nation's press:

Philip Potter, of the Washington Bureau of the The Baltimore Sun;

Bill Downs, of CBS News; and

Warren Duffee, of the Senate Staff of United Press International.

And now here is the moderator of Face the Nation, CBS News Correspondent Stuart Novins.


MR. NOVINS: Senator Everett Dirksen is the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate. As minority leader he is in constant liaison with the White House. During these past weeks, with Japan, with the Congressional legislative program, with the Rockefeller challenge to Mr. Nixon, there have been many things to talk about, and Senator Dirksen is here now to Face the Nation.

Senator, not only are there these things to discuss, but you are also being mentioned as a possible Vice President. So, if you will, let's start with this first question from Mr. Duffee.

MR. DUFFEE: Yes. I'd like to find out about that, too, Senator.

You have told us on many occasions that you are not a candidate for Vice President. However, your home State of Illinois has just given you a very substantial and meaningful endorsement, and I am wondering if perhaps in light of that you might, shall we say, relent, and admit that you would like to be a candidate.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, Mr. Duffee, I think I must still continue in the role of the reluctant dragon. I have said always that I am not a candidate, but I must say this is the first news I have had of this endorsement, believe me.

MR. DUFFEE: Well, you wouldn't turn it down, Senator?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: I would regard it as high recognition by the Republicans of the State of Illinois. And being a servant of the country and the party, I have always gone on the broad theory that I go wherever duty commands or wherever they invite me to go.

MR. DUFFEE: This means, then, you will not do anything to discourage any move in your behalf?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I don't suppose I should, as a matter of fact. I should follow the dictates of the party leaders and make myself amenable to their suggestions and their commands with respect to party and national duty.

MR. DUFFEE: Has Vice President Nixon, who appears to be most likely your nominee, has he or have any of his people approached you about this?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, definitely not.

MR. NOVINS: Mr. Downs.

MR. DOWNS: Well, in view of the summit failure and the fiasco in Japan, Senator Dirksen, do you think that the Republicans have lost the peace issue?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: I do not believe so.


SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, for many reasons. I think they ought to disclose what the real problem was in Japan, in coming to a conclusion on that question.

MR. DOWNS: What was the real problem?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, the real problem was this: that after we had the signing of the Japanese Treaty, in Washington, in January, and it was ratified on May 20 by the Japanese Diet, that is when the violence really began. And I recall when one of the representatives of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Japanese Diet was here, he said it had been going on in sporadic fashion for a long time and we could anticipate it would be stepped up, and all this he confirmed to me in a letter not over two or three weeks ago. So, I fully anticipated that this sort of thing was going to happen.

MR. DOWNS: Well, don't you believe, then, that the President might have gotten some bad advice to put himself in a position of being embarrassed?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: No, definitely not, because since Kishi made two visits here, one in connection with the Treaty, obviously an invitation is a rather solemn thing, and I think the President was fully justified in accepting it. And, secondly, he must not appear as one who would shirk his duty from any sense of fear or apprehension about what may happen on a sojourn of this kind.

MR. POTTER: Senator, I'd like to go back to this possibility of your being a Vice Presidential candidate. If you are not, in your judgement who will make the best running mate for the Vice—for Mr. Nixon, who unquestionably is going to be the nominee?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, Mr. Potter, as you know, that question is as open as a 40-acre field, in the sense—there have been a great many people mentioned: former Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Mr. Halleck, Thurston Morton, the Chairman of the National Committee, and a great many others. So, if on the basis of my experience in other Conventions, that carries over in 1960, the ultimate decision will obviously be in the hands of the Presidential nominee.

MR. POTTER: Well, Senator, you mentioned a couple of possibilities. It's noteworthy you did not mention Governor Rockefeller, of New York. Is—

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, that's only because I didn't give you a run-down, Mr. Potter, on the whole list.

MR. POTTER: Do you think his recent criticism of the Vice President and of the Administration on defense and foreign policy has ruled him out as a running mate for—

SENATOR DIRKSEN: No, I do not believe it ruled him out. I think, however, from the very definite statement that Mr. Rockefeller made on several occasions, that he tried to take himself out of the race for the second spot; and so, I didn't give that too much attention.

MR. DOWNS: Do you have any idea why he made this announcement at this particular time? Here, Nixon had just won a big victory in California, and the primaries were all over. What was the strategy, what was your interpretation of his strategy on it?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Frankly, I have no interpretation of that statement at all. And I say on this background: first, I have known Nelson Rockefeller intimately for at least fifteen years and perhaps twenty years; secondly, I have worked with him some when he was in the Federal Government, and I esteem him as a friend. I have no explanation for it at all.

MR. NOVINS: Do you put him in a different category from yourself, Senator? You indicated before, about your own plans, that you were reluctant but not inflexible. Do you think he would fall into that category?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, Mr. Novins, I have always disclaimed any real interest in being a Vice Presidential candidate, but I am ready to serve my party and my country.

MR. DUFFEE: Senator, there is considerable indication that Senator Kennedy is certainly a strong and perhaps leading contender for the Democratic nomination. Now, in the even that he wins the nomination, do you feel that perhaps the Republicans should nominate a Catholic for Vice President, perhaps Labor Secretary Mitchell, or perhaps a Governor?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: I have never speculated on this subject because I have never permitted myself to let that thought intrude into my thinking at all.

MR. DUFFEE: You don't think a Catholic as Vice President wouldn't strengthen the ticket against a Democratic Catholic nominee?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, it might or might not be. But I always think of a candidate as a citizen of the United States, and one who, because of the judgment of his party, is eminently qualified to be a candidate of his party; and beyond that, I have not let my speculations go very far.

MR. POTTER: Senator, you have said that you are a Reluctant Dragon, and you've noted that Governor Rockefeller is, too. One who is not a Reluctant Dragon is Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, who seems to have considerable support in the South—South Carolina has endorsed him, Texas has indicated they would like him on the ticket. Would you like to see him on the ticket? Do you think he would be a—really represent the kind of Republicanism you'd like to see on the ticket?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: I've a great affection for Senator Goldwater. We work well together, particularly on the Labor Committee of the Senate, and I esteem him very highly as a very courageous public servant, and if the party saw fit to nominate him, why, that would certainly have my approval.

MR. DOWNS: Senator, I'd like to get back to this foreign policy question because it's pretty obvious that this is going to be one, if not the major, issue in the upcoming campaigns. Now you have indicated after the U-2 incident and the Summit Conference that any criticism of the Administration and of the President personally somehow would weaken our position vis-a-vis the Communists and somehow might be slightly unpatriotic. Is that true or not?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: I believe that the essence of my observations, both on and off the Senate Floor, was that I thought it was a most appropriate thing not to downgrade our own country. I don't mind criticism. It would be an amazing thing in a free country if you didn't have it, even when it's directed against the President of the United States. But I doubt very much the wisdom of downgrading or setting forth in iridescent letters any so-called or alleged deterioration in our own country. But, that's quite different from criticism, I must say.

MR. NOVINS: Well, Senator, did you feel that way when the Republicans talked about Truman's war in Korea?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, I think so.

MR. NOVINS: Well, how do you criticize a policy without degrading it?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, you start from a broad premise there. The question is: Was it a war or a police action.

MR. NOVINS: Let's talk about the current situation, Senator. How would you criticize the current policy, if you honestly felt it ought to be criticized, without downgrading the United States?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, it can be criticized at any time. When they criticize the foreign policy of the country as such, it's perfectly all right in my book because I think there is an answer for it. But unless people know, unless they have full knowledge with respect to the strength of this country, they ought to be pretty careful about telling how weak we are in this field, in this department, in this area, because you can make, in my estimate, no good judgement of that matter unless you have the whole ball of truth before you.

MR. DUFFEE: Well, Senator, does this mean that you are going, you or some other Republican is going to take to the floor or the airwaves or the stump to answer every attack made on foreign policy by any Democrat, or just those made by Presidential candidates like Kennedy, for example?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, obviously, you can't answer all of them. But I think the issue will be joined in some major respect and there you'll fling it back.

MR. DUFFEE: Well, what kind of a major respect could you join it, short of the Presidential campaign?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I don't—Are you inferring that I'm opposed to any criticism in a Presidential campaign?

MR. DUFFEE: Oh, no; not any criticism in a Presidential campaign, but you seem to be criticizing the criticism of the Administration's foreign policy.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, definitely not. They can criticize it to their heart's content, but I still make the point that when you talk about how weak or how strong we are in the rocket field, the missile field, the nuclear weapons field, in balance strength, I doubt very much whether any person in responsible position should advertise that to the whole wide world unless he is pretty sure that he's got all the facts at his command.

MR. NOVINS: Well, Senator, do you think the Democrats are correct, then, if they criticize the methods by which foreign policy is arrived at in the Administration?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, I have no objection to that; certainly not.

MR. POTTER: Senator, Senator Kennedy has asked for what is, in effect, a crash program to build up what he claims has been a severe deterioration in our strength. He has urged an immediate stop-gap air alert, he's urged stepped-up production of those Atlas missiles and stepped-up research and development on the second generation missiles, such as Polaris and Minuteman. Do you oppose such a program or do you—do you feel that we are adequately going along, as it is?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: No, Mr. Potter. Let me put it in capsule form. There were twelve specific suggestions in the statement that Senator Kennedy made on the Floor of the Senate, and I symbolized the whole matter in the rejoinder I made the other day when I said: One, he wants more of everything for everybody everywhere, without being specific; and, two, he has undertaken to advertise our deterioration to the whole wide world. Now, it was in respect to the first item that I think I was a little caustic and I believe rightly so, because Mr. Kennedy ought to be pretty careful that he has all the facts before he does it.

MR. POTTER: You think we should not go into a stop-gap emergency air—

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, well, I don't comment on that; I just take issue with him on this ground. I think a Defense budget that has been put together by people schooled and who are competent in the art, who have worked at it for months and months and months—plus, of course, the advice of the National Security Council, plus the expert advice of the President of the United States, plus the look-see men on the Appropriations Committee in the House and in the Senate, stands up on one side of the picture as something pretty substantial, so that if you start from that premise and say there must be more and more and more of everything for everybody everywhere, over and beyond this, and then couple it with a criticism that there has been deterioration in our national defense, then I do take some umbrage.
Senator Dirksen with "Freedom Petitions" for the 89th Congress in the 1960s (source)
MR. DOWNS: Well, on the other side of the picture, Senator Dirksen, you have Stuart Symington who was ex-Air Force Secretary, you have the Gaither Report which was organized by his own—by the Republican Administration, and you have men who have been members of the Atomic Energy Commission who disagree. Now, there is disagreement within the Atomic Energy Commission, there is disagreement within the Pentagon.

Now, unless we as a democracy know what is going on, how can anyone make a sound judgment, then?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, my answer is this: You have men in uniform who have dedicated their lives to this country. They have come up the long, hard way. We expect them to be competent and skilled in that field because if it were not so they would not be wearing one, two, three, four stars on their shoulders, but that is an evidence of long experience in the field. You don't completely negate the judgment of a man who was the grand captain of the greatest offensive in any time or generation in the history of mankind, nor those who are on the Security Council. They've got to work with a balanced program that comes within the capacity of the country, and at the same time in their considered judgment is wholly adequate to our survival and defense needs. And before you try to knock it down, you'd better be pretty sure that the people who are trying to knock it down have an equal competence in that field.

MR. DUFFEE: Then, you are saying, in effect, that speakers like Senator Kenendy did not have an equal competence.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I'll be very candid with you, Mr. Duffee. I doubt it.

MR. DUFFEE: Senator, if—we all agree, I'm sure, that the peace issue and preparedness are definitely going to be campaign issues and very widely and thoroughly discussed; but what, in your mind, if you just tick them off for us, what, in your mind, might be three or four or five of the other most important issues in this campaign?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, you will have the budget question, you'll have the tax question, and, incidentally, that's very much to the fore now, since the Senate Finance Committee reported the bill to whack something over three-quarters of a billion out of the revenues—

MR. DUFFEE: That figure is open to dispute, Senator, but I'm not—I'm not taking you as saying—

SENATOR DIRKSEN: That's right, but it is still a chunk out of the revenues.

Another bill was reported only this week for a retirement system for self-employed which, by the least calculation, will probably take another $250 million of the revenues.

You have a billion in the housing bill.

You've got a write-up over the budget estimates in the Health, Education, and Welfare, of a half billion.

And then, of course, you've got the mutual security issue.

And on top of these, you'll probably have the health insurance issue, assuming, of course, that this Congress does something with it before adjournment.

So there are many issues.

MR. DUFFEE: In other words, you're going to run—you're only going to run on a balanced budget, then—and foreign policy; is that right?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Foreign policy, balanced budget, what do you do in the aged field, what do you do in the appropriations field. All these, of course, are components, or all will be issues, and some sharper issues than others, depending upon the area where they are raised.

MR. POTTER: Senator, you note that the tax bill that has been reported out is going to cut revenues—some of your colleagues, including Senator Douglas, Democrat of Illinois, have had some suggestions as to how the revenues can be restored and picked up. For instance, Douglas is advocating a change in the depreciation allowance from 27½ to 15 per cent, which would require the oil companies and the gas companies to pay more tax into the Federal Government.

Are you in favor of that move?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Mr. Potter, if that amendment is refined so that in the case for those who explore and wildcat, particularly in the areas where you do not have heavy investments in new wells, and where they can afford to drop in thirty or forty thousand dollars in a 2,000-foot well, and then kiss it good-by, provided there is an adequate depreciation allowance, that's quite a different thing. But if you cut it straight across the board, then of course it's still another matter. I am thinking particularly of the oil fields in Southern Illinois. There it's quite common to take thirty or forty thousand dollars and sink it in the earth, and I think the ratio is about one good hole out of nine. Now, you've got to give them some hedge, otherwise all your wildcatting, all your exploring, will come to an end. So if that matter is refined, I think I can go along with something in that field, and I think others can do likewise.

MR. DOWNS: Senator, you said the other day that after the Senate passed the Federal pay raise bill granting about a million and a half for postal workers and civil service workers, a 7½ per cent raise, I think, that the President probably would veto it. You've got a medical care bill that the Democrats have been pushing along, that you also indicated that if it's not changed, might be vetoed.

Do you think there is a danger that the President might be able to veto Richard Nixon out of the White House?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, Mr. Downs, first, this gives me a good opportunity to correct any mis-impression that may result from the ease with which I sometimes use the threat of a veto. Frankly, I ought to be a little more cautious about it, because I cannot speak for the President. Insofar as I know, and in all the days that I have attended leadership meetings, I have never heard, nor have I ever seen the President indicate in advance when a measure was likely to be vetoed or not vetoed. And so I ought to exercise a little more caution—nor should I use that as a pistol, when I'm carrying on a rather intense and passionate argument on the Floor of the Senate, but I'm pretty confident, recurring now to the third item in your question, that he will not veto Mr. Nixon.

MR. DUFFEE: Senator, the Congress is trying, fits and starts, to finish up here in two or three weeks.

Do you think it's actually possible? They have a very heavy legislative load to do, which I think you, yourself, have outlined on occasion.

Do you honestly believe you can finish before the Democratic Convention? That's less than—three weeks from today.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, Mr. Duffee, you will recall the last press conference I had.

MR. DUFFEE: Very vividly, sir.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: After the last policy meeting.

MR. DUFFEE: Very vividly.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: And we run down 14, 15, 16, major items on which it was hoped there would be action before this Congress came to an end. Now, it depends entirely on how much time is devoted to a given item. Suppose, for instance, that some health insurance package is added to the tax bill that is presently on the Floor, and, mind you, those excise taxes are going to have to be renewed eleven days from now, otherwise there will be substantial losses to the Treasury, but you may have enough Senators to carry on, and you may have to have round-the-clock sessions; I do not know. But it's a very substantial package to conclude before the first National Convention in Los Angeles.

MR. DUFFEE: But do you think it's possible to finish?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, frankly, not knowing quite how intense my colleagues in the Senate on both sides of the aisle are with respect to these issues, I do not know how much time is going to be devoted to it, and consequently the calendar could run out on you and you wouldn't conclude them. Then the question arises: Do you adjourn or do you recess and come back? Obviously, every Member hopes there will be no recess, that when the curtain rings down it will be a sine die, the Latin term for—without an appointed day—that they can stay home, that they can pursue the campaign, and I have an equal hope, but whether it will eventuate remains to be seen.

MR. POTTER: Senator, I noticed in running down the issues for Mr. Duffee a moment ago there was one significant omission. Do you not think that Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture, is going to be an issue?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, he is in some sections.

MR. POTTER: In what way is that going to affect Nixon's chances?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I do not believe it will have any significant impact on his chances.

MR. DOWNS: Well, Senator, this brings up this problem: The Vice President is committed to running on the record of the Eisenhower Administration but, at the same time, he said he is going to make new suggestions in the field of foreign policy, farm policy, and the rest of it. Have you discussed with him, about the possibility of new approaches to the farm bill, the farm—

SENATOR DIRKSEN: No; but, Mr. Downs, I apprehend just exactly this: When they meet in convention at Chicago they will write a platform. Certainly, the Vice President and his views will have some impact on the platform. Once it is done, that becomes the working document of the party, and it does represent their promises, their pledges, their assurances to the country. Now, you know how much weight and how much importance President Eisenhower attached to the party platform, and constantly went back to it because he said when you made it, make a pledge, that's a covenant, it's a solemn thing and, insofar as you can do it, making allowance, of course, for changes in conditions from one year to the other, you shouldn't make that pledge lightly. Obviously, there will be a farm plank in the platform, but I do expect the Vice President at that time, when the platform is completed, to say, "This is the document on which we stand."

MR. POTTER: Do you—you agree, then, that he should not speak out on this, these issues now, although Governor Rockefeller has said that he ought to speak out on all of these issues before the Convention?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Oh, the Vice President is free to speak out on anything that he likes, and he has been speaking out.

MR. POTTER: Do you agree with Rockefeller, that he ought to make his position clear on the farm issue, and—before the Convention?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: I think there is plenty of time to do that.

MR. DUFFEE: Senator, if the farm—if Ezra Taft Benson and his farm policies are not going to be much of a factor on the Vice President, why has the Vice President, has he already announced that tomorrow in North Dakota, in the heart of the wheat country, he's going to make a major farm speech outlining his own views?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I think you may discover that the Vice President won't depart very far from what we endeavored to do in the Senate, and we got the job certainly partially done when we had the Wheat Bill before the Senate last week.

MR. NOVINS: Senator, I'd like to take up a couple of the issues that still remain before the Congress. What, in your opinion, is going to happen to the Health Insurance Bill?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I'm confident, of course, that either on this tax bill or on some other tax bill, or in connection with a bill that will come from the House of Representatives, that a number of substantial amendments will be offered. I rather anticipate the Forand Bill will be offered in the Senate, very likely the McNamara Bill, which has been reported—

MR. NOVINS: Will there be any final action, do you think, this term?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I think they're going to make every endeavor to get some kind of action, but what the ultimate outcome will be and what form of the program will be when we finish is quite another matter, and on that I could only give you the wildest guess.

MR. NOVINS: Well, it's a pretty well educated guess, and I'd like to use it, if I may.

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, I'm not sure that it is, in view of the fact that you've got a sharp division of opinion on both sides of the aisle with respect to what ought to be done.

MR. NOVINS: What about school construction, Senator?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: There you have a difference of opinion between the House and the Senate, to begin with, and it's locked up in the House Rules Committee. As you remember, the Senate included teachers' pay, the House said we want no part of it. The Administration wanted this done on the basis of picking up the interest tab on the principal of loans in areas where there was a need. The House wrote in a grant provision, and that is a very wide departure, of course, from the original Administration position.

MR. POTTER: Senator, but assuming that the Senate and the House get together on a bill which takes out the Powell Amendment, and also takes out the Senate teachers' pay provision, in other words, sends a simple school construction bill to the White House, do you think the President will sign that one?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, Mr. Potter, it will have to have a little more, I think. The allocation formula will have to be put in shape. The needs formula, so that this authority and these funds will not be used in cases where the need has not been demonstrated. That's going to have to be pretty clearly set forth in the Act. And then there is this question of state matching. Now, you see, you can have state or local matching in the first year, as the thing stands. I think the President was pretty insistent that there be state matching even in the first year, but it's possible then to put a bill together that would receive the approval of the President.

MR. DUFFEE: Senator, one more quick question on issues: Do you think there is a possibility the Senate will restore all or most of the money cut by the House from foreign aid money?

SENATOR DIRKSEN: Well, now, originally they cut out 790 million and then restored 200 million, so it's 590 million short of the request. That, of course, denies the President, particularly at a feverish time like this, some very essential funds that he thought were so urgently necessary—first, to keep faith with these other countries with whom we are associated in this security effort, and to carry on a program that he thinks is vital to the defense of this country.

MR. NOVINS: Senator, you are running out of money in the Senate and we are running out of time here. Thank you very much, indeed, for coming here to Face the Nation.


MR. NOVINS: Thanks also to today's news correspondents:

Philip Potter, of The Baltimore Sun;

Bill Downs, of CBS News; and

Warren Duffee, of the United Press International.

This is Stuart Novins. We invite you to join us next week at this time for another edition of Face the Nation. Our program today originated in Washington.


ANNOUNCER: Face the Nation was produced by Michael J. Marlow. Associated in production, Ellen Wadley. Directed by Bill Linden.

Today you saw the Senator Minority Leader, Everett M. Dirksen, Republican of Illinois, Face the Nation.

Ted Miller speaking.

This has been a Public Affairs presentation of CBS News.