March 30, 2015

A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy

Edward R. Murrow Challenges Senator Joseph McCarthy

March 9, 1954
EDWARD R. MURROW: Because a report on Senator McCarthy is by definition controversial, we want to say exactly what we mean to say, and I request your permission to read from script whatever remarks Murrow and Friendly may make.

If the Senator feels that we have done violence to his words or pictures and desires, so to speak, to answer himself, an opportunity will be afforded him on this program. Our working thesis tonight is this quotation: "If this fight against communism is made a fight between America's two great political parties, the American people know that one of these parties will be destroyed, and the Republic cannot endure very long as a one-party system."

We applaud that statement, and we think Senator McCarthy ought to. He said it seventeen months ago in Milwaukee.

SENATOR JOSEPH MCCARTHY: The American people realize that this cannot be made a fight between America's two great political parties. If this fight against communism is made a fight between America's two great political parties, the American people know that one of those parties will be destroyed, and the Republic can't endure very long as a one-party system.

MURROW: But on February 4, 1954, Senator McCarthy spoke of one party's treason. This was Charleston, West Virginia, where there were no cameras running. It was recorded on tape.

MCCARTHY: The issue between Republicans and Democrats is clearly drawn. It has been deliberately drawn by those who have been in charge of twenty years of treason. Now the hard fact is—the hard fact is that those who wear the label—those who wear the label "Democrat" wear it with the stain of a historic betrayal.

MURROW: Seventeen months ago, candidate Eisenhower met Senator McCarthy in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and he laid down some ground rules on how he would fight communism if elected.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER: Now, this is the pledge that I make. If I am charged by you people to be the responsible head of the executive department, it will be my initial responsibility to see that subversion, disloyalty, is kept out of the executive department.

We will always appreciate and welcome congressional investigation, but the responsibility will rest squarely on the shoulders of the executive, and I hold that there are already ample powers in the government to get rid of these people if the executive department is really concerned in doing it. We can do it with absolute assurance that American principles—of a trial by jury, of the innocent until proved guilty—are all observed, and I expect to do it.

MURROW: That same night in Milwaukee, Senator McCarthy stated what he would do if the General was elected.

MCCARTHY: I spent about half an hour with the General last night. While I can't report that we agreed entirely on everything—I can report that, when I left that meeting with the General, I had the same feeling as when I went in. And that is that he is a great American, will make a great president; an outstanding president. But I want to tell you tonight, tell the American people: as long as I represent you and the rest of the American people in the Senate, I shall continue to call them as I see them, regardless of who happens to be president.

MURROW: November 24, 1953.

MCCARTHY: A few days ago, I read that President Eisenhower expressed the hope that, by election time in 1954, the subject of communism would be a dead and forgotten issue. The raw, harsh, unpleasant fact is that communism is an issue and will be an issue in 1954.

MURROW: On one thing the Senator has been consistent. Often operating as a one-man committee, he has traveled far; interviewed many; terrorized some; accused civilian and military leaders of the past administration of a great conspiracy to turn over the country to communism; investigated and substantially demoralized the present State Department; made varying charges of espionage at Fort Monmouth. The Army says it has been unable to find anything relating to espionage there. He has interrogated a varied assortment of what he calls "Fifth Amendment Communists."

Republican Senator Flanders of Vermont said of McCarthy today, "He dons his war paint. He goes into his war dance. He emits his war whoops; he goes forth to battle and proudly returns with the scalp of a pink Army dentist."

Other critics have accused the Senator of using the bullwhip and the smear. There was a time two years ago when the Senator and his friends said he had been smeared and bullwhipped.

FRANK KEEFE: Well, you'd sometimes think to hear the quartet that call themselves "Operation Truth" damning Joe McCarthy and resorting to the vilest smears I have ever heard. Well, this is the answer. If I could express it in what's in my heart right now, I'd do it in terms of the poet who once said:

Ah 'tis but a dainty flower I bring you,
Yes, 'tis but a violet, glistening with dew,
But still in its heart there lies beauties concealed
So in our heart our love for you lies unrevealed.

MCCARTHY: You know, I used to pride myself on the idea that I was a bit tough, especially over the past eighteen or nineteen months when we've been kicked around and bullwhipped and damned. I didn't think that I could be touched very deeply. But tonight, frankly, my cup and my heart is so full I can't talk to you.

MURROW: But in Philadelphia on Washington's Birthday, 1954, his heart was so full he could talk. He reviewed some of the General Zwicker testimony and proved he hadn't abused him.

MCCARTHY: Nothing is more serious than being a traitor to the country as part of the communist conspiracy. Are you enjoying this abuse of the General?

A question: "Do you think stealing fifty dollars is more serious than being a traitor to the country and part of the communist conspiracy?"

Answer: "That, sir, was not my decision."

Shall we go on to that for a while? I hate to impose on your time, but I've just got two pages. This is the abuse which is the real meat of abuse. This is the official reporter's record of the hearing. After he said he wouldn't remove that General from the Army who cleared a communist major I said to him, "Then, General, you should be removed from any command. Any man who has been given the honor of being promoted to general and who says, 'I will protect another general who protects communists,' is not fit to wear that uniform, General."

I think it is a tremendous disgrace to the Army to have to bring these facts before the public, but I intend to give it to the public, General. I have a duty to do that. I intend to repeat to the press exactly what you said, so that you can know that and be back here to hear it, General.

And wait till you hear the bleeding hearts scream and cry about our methods of trying to drag the truth from those who know, or should know, who covered up a Fifth Amendment Communist major. But they say, "Oh, it's all right to uncover them, but don't get rough doing it, McCarthy."

MURROW: But two days later Secretary Stevens and the Senator had lunch, agreed on a memorandum of understanding—disagreed on what the small type said.

ROBERT T. STEVENS: I shall never accede to the abuse of Army personnel under any circumstance, including committee hearings. I shall not accede to them being brow-beaten or humiliated. In the light of those assurances, although I did not propose the cancellation of the hearing, I acceded to it. If it had not been for these assurances, I would never have entered into any agreement whatsoever.

MURROW: Then President Eisenhower issued a statement that his advisers thought censured the Senator. But the Senator saw it as another victory—called the entire Zwicker case "a tempest in a teapot."

MCCARTHY: If a stupid, arrogant, or witless man in a position of power appears before our committee and is found aiding the Communist Party, he will be exposed. The fact that he might be a general places him in no special class as far as I am concerned. Apparently the president and I now agree on the necessity of getting rid of communists. We apparently disagree only on how we should handle those who protect communists.

When the shouting and the tumult dies, the American people and the president will realize that this unprecedented mudslinging against the committee by the extreme left wing elements of press and radio was caused solely because another Fifth Amendment Communist was finally dug out of the dark recesses and exposed to public view.

MURROW: Senator McCarthy claims that only the left wing press criticized him on the Zwicker case. Of the fifty large circulating newspapers in the country, these are the left wing papers that criticized him. These are the ones that supported him. The ratio is about three-to-one. Now let us look at some of these left wing papers that criticized the Senator.

The Chicago Tribune: "McCarthy will better serve his cause if he learns to distinguish the role of investigator from the role of avenging angel."

The New York Times: "The unwarranted interference of a demagogue…a domestic Munich."

The Times Herald of Washington: "Senator McCarthy's behavior towards Zwicker not justified."

The Herald Tribune of New York: "McCarthyism involves assaults on basic Republican concepts."

The Milwaukee Journal: "The line must be drawn and defended or McCarthy will become the government."

The Evening Star of Washington: "It was a bad day for everyone who resents and detests the bullyboy tactics which Senator McCarthy so often employees."

The New York World Telegram: "Bamboozling, bludgeoning, distorting way."

The St. Louis Post Dispatch: "Unscrupulous McCarthy bullying. What a tragic irony it is that the president's political advisers keep him from doing what every decent instinct must be commanding him to do."

Well, that's the ratio—about three-to-one—so-called "left-wing" press.

Another interesting thing was said about the Zwicker case, and it was said by Senator McCarthy.

MCCARTHY: Well, may I say that I was extremely shocked when I heard that Secretary Stevens told two Army officers that they had to take part in the cover-up of those who promoted and coddled communists. As I read his statement, I thought of that quotation, "On what meat doth this, our Caesar, feed?"

MURROW: And upon what meat does Senator McCarthy feed? Two of the staples of his diet are the investigations, protected by immunity, and the half-truth. We herewith submit samples of both.
First, the half-truth. This was an attack on Adlai Stevenson at the end of the '52 campaign. President Eisenhower, it must be said, had no prior knowledge of it.

MCCARTHY: I perform this unpleasant task because the American people are entitled to have the coldly documented history of this man who says, "I want to be your President."

Strangely, Alger—I mean, Adlai...but let's move on to another part of the jigsaw puzzle. Now, while you would think—while you may think there could be no connection between the debonair Democrat candidate and a dilapidated Massachusetts barn, I want to show you a picture of this barn and explain the connection.

Here is the outside of the barn. Give me the pictures showing the inside, if you will. Here is the outside of a barn up at Lee, Massachusetts. It looks it couldn't house a farmer's cow or goat. Here's the inside: a beautifully paneled conference room with maps of the Soviet Union. Well, in what way does Stevenson tie up with this?

My investigators went up and took pictures of this barn after we had been tipped off of what was in it, tipped off that there was in this barn all the missing documents from the communist front, IPR. The IPR which has been named by the McCarran Committee. Named before the McCarran Committee as a cover shop for communist espionage.

Now, let's take a look at a photostat of a document taken from that Massachusetts barn. One of those documents was never supposed to have seen the light of day—rather interesting it is. This is a document that shows that Alger Hiss and Frank Coe recommended Adlai Stevenson to the Mont Tremblant Conference, which was called for the purpose of establishing foreign policy—postwar foreign policy—in Asia. Now, as you know, Alger Hiss is a convicted traitor. Frank Coe has been named under oath before congressional committees seven times as a member of the Communist Party. Why? Why do Hiss and Coe find that Adlai Stevenson is the man they want representing them at this conference? I don't know. Perhaps Adlai knows.

MURROW: But Senator McCarthy didn't permit his audience to hear the entire paragraph. This is the official record of the McCarran hearings. Anyone can buy it for two dollars. Here's a quote: "Another possibility for the Mont Tremblant conferences on Asia is someone from Knox's office or Stimson's office. Frank Knox was our wartime Secretary of the Navy; Henry Stimson our Secretary of the Army. Both distinguished Republicans." And it goes on: "Coe and Hiss mentioned Adlai Stevenson, one of Knox's special assistants, and Harvey Bundy, former Assistant Secretary of State under Hoover and now assistant to Stimson, because of their jobs."
We read from this documented record not in defense of Mr. Stevenson, but in defense of truth. Specifically, Mr. Stevenson's identification with that red barn was no more, no less than that of Knox, Stimson, or Bundy. It should be stated that Mr. Stevenson was once a member of the Institute of Pacific Relations. But so were such other loyal Americans as Senator Ferguson, John Foster Dulles, Paul Hoffman, Harry Luce, and Herbert Hoover. Their association carries with it no guilt, and that barn has nothing to do with any of them.

Now, a sample of an investigation. The witness was Reed Harris, for many years a civil servant in the State Department directing the Information Service. Harris was accused of helping the communistic cause by curtailing some broadcasts to Israel. Senator McCarthy summoned him and questioned him about a book he had written in 1932.

MCCARTHY: May we come to order. Mr. Reed Harris? Your name is Reed Harris?

REED HARRIS: That's correct.

MCCARTHY: You wrote a book in '32, is that correct?

HARRIS: Yes, I wrote a book. And as I testified in executive session—

MCCARTHY: At the time you wrote the book—pardon me, go ahead. I'm sorry.

HARRIS: At the time I wrote the book, the atmosphere in the universities of the United States was greatly affected by the Great Depression then in existence. The attitudes of students, the attitudes of the general public, were considerably different than they are at this moment, and for one thing there certainly was no awareness to the degree that there is today of the way the Communist Party works.

MCCARTHY: You attended Columbia University in the early thirties. Is that right?

HARRIS: I did, Mr. Chairman.

MCCARTHY: Will you speak a little louder, sir?

HARRIS: I did, Mr. Chairman.

MCCARTHY: And were you expelled from Columbia?

HARRIS: I was suspended from classes on April 1, 1932. I was later reinstated, and I resigned from the university.

MCCARTHY: And you resigned from the university. Did the Civil Liberties Union provide you with an attorney at that time?

HARRIS: I had many offers of attorneys, and one of those was from the American Civil Liberties Union, yes.

MCCARTHY: The question is did the Civil Liberties Union supply you with an attorney?

HARRIS: They did supply an attorney.

MCCARTHY: The answer is yes?

HARRIS: The answer is yes.

MCCARTHY: You know the Civil Liberties Union has been listed as "a front for, and doing the work of," the Communist Party?

HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, this was 1932.

MCCARTHY: Yeah, I know this was 1932. Do you know that they since have been listed as a front for, and doing the work of, the Communist Party?

HARRIS: I do not know that they have been listed so, sir.

MCCARTHY: You don't know they have been listed?

HARRIS: I have heard that mentioned, or read that mentioned.

MCCARTHY: Now, you wrote a book in 1932. I'm going to ask you again. At the time you wrote this book, did you feel that professors should be given the right to teach sophomores that marriage, let me quote, "should be cast out of our civilization as antiquated and stupid religious phenomena?" Was that your feeling at that time?

HARRIS: My feeling was that professors should have the right to express their considered opinions on any subject, whatever they were, sir.

MCCARTHY: All right, I'm going to ask you this question again.

HARRIS: That includes that quotation. They should have the right to teach anything that came to their minds as being a proper thing to teach.

MCCARTHY: I'm going to make you answer this.

HARRIS: All right, I'll answer yes, but you put an implication on it, and you feature this particular point out of the book which of course is quite out of context; does not give a proper impression of the book as a whole. The American public doesn't get an honest impression of even that book, bad as it is, from what you're quoting from it.

MCCARTHY: Well, then, let's continue to read your own writing, and—

HARRIS: Twenty-one years ago, again.

MCCARTHY: Yes, but we'll try and bring you down to date, if we can.

HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, two weeks ago, Senator Taft took the position that I took twenty-one years ago, that communists and socialists should be allowed to teach in the schools. It so happens that nowadays I don't agree with Senator Taft as far as communist teaching in the schools is concerned, because I think communists are in effect a plainclothes auxiliary of the Red Army—the Soviet Red Army—and I don't want to see them in any of our schools teaching.

MCCARTHY: I don't recall Senator Taft ever having any of the background that you've got, sir.

MCCARTHY: I resent the tone of this inquiry very much, Mr. Chairman. I resent it, not only because it is my neck, my public neck, that you are, I think, very skillfully trying to wring, but I say it because there are thousands of able and loyal employees in the federal government of the United States who have been properly cleared according to the laws and the security practices of their agencies, as I was—unless the new regime says no—I was before.

SENATOR JOHN MCLELLAN: Do you think this book that you wrote then did considerable harm—its publication might have had adverse influence on the public by an expression of views contained in it?

HARRIS: The sale of that book was so abysmally small, it was so unsuccessful that a question of its influence—really, you can go back to the publisher. You'll see it was one of the most unsuccessful books he ever put out. He's still sorry about it, just as I am.

MCLELLAN: Well, I think that's a compliment to American intelligence. I will say that to him.

MURROW: Senator McCarthy succeeded in proving that Reed Harris had once written a bad book, which the American people had proved twenty-two years ago by not buying it. Which is what they eventually do will all bad ideas. As for Reed Harris, his resignation was accepted a month later with a letter of commendation. McCarthy claimed it as a victory.

The Reed Harris hearing demonstrates one of the Senator's techniques. Twice he said the American Civil Liberties Union was listed as a subversive front. The Attorney General's list does not and has never listed the ACLU as subversive, nor does the FBI or any other federal government agency. And the American Civil Liberties Union holds in its files letters of commendation from President Truman, President Eisenhower, and General MacArthur.

Now let us try to bring the McCarthy story a little more up to date. Two years ago Senator Benton of Connecticut accused McCarthy of apparent perjury, unethical practice, and perpetrating a hoax on the Senate. McCarthy sued for two million dollars. Last week he dropped the case, saying no one could be found who believed Benton's story. Several volunteers have come forward saying they believe it in its entirety.

Today, Senator McCarthy says he's going to get a lawyer and force the networks to give him time to reply to Adlai Stevenson's speech.

Earlier the Senator asked, "Upon what meat does this, our Caesar, feed?" Had he looked three lines earlier in Shakespeare's Caesar, he would have found this line, which is not altogether inappropriate: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind as between the internal and the external threats of communism.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.
As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear. He merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Good night, and good luck.

March 27, 2015

1955. Bill Downs Interviews Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion

The Lead-Up to the Suez Crisis
Israeli soldiers during the Suez Crisis in 1956 (source)
In November 1955 Bill Downs interviewed Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who had just begun his second tenure in office.
1. What do you feel are the reasons behind the Communist sale of arms to Egypt?

There are in my view two reasons: a) Russia's traditional urge, dating from the days of the Czarist regime, to penetrate into the Mediterranean and the countries of the Middle East; b) the Soviets' policy to establish a pro-Communist force in the Middle East in opposition to the Northern Tier.

2. Moslem leaders now claim that Israel has an overwhelming superiority in military power. What is your estimate of the situation and how much breathing space do you consider Israel has before Communist arms match Israeli strength?

Israel's superiority in the War of Independence and to this day lies only and exclusively in the moral superiority of her people, which, again, derives from two sources: a) fidelity to the heritage of the prophets of Israel; b) the recognition that our very existence is in danger and that we shall be destroyed unless we defend ourselves with all our might. However, even up till now we have never had superiority in armaments, even less in man-power. Not only the Arab countries as a whole, but even Egypt alone has had more arms and a larger standing army than Israel, even before the receipt of Soviet arms. The danger to Israel's existence will constantly increase unless we, too, receive substantial arms reinforcements.

3. If Israel feels that her friends in the West are delinquent in supplying her additional defensive weapons, would she apply to Communist sources from these things?

A country fighting for her very existence has a right to get arms anywhere. But I think it would be an illusion to expect arms from the Soviet Bloc, and I have not entirely given up hope of the help which we deserve from the United States and the other democratic countries.

4. There has been much speculation that Israel may be forced into a "preventative war." What is your estimate of this possibility?

A preventative war is a war unprevented, and it differs in no way from any other war. We prefer a preventive peace. As I have declared last week in the Knesset, our Parliament, we have never will, but neither shall we tolerate any warlike acts against us, by whatever name they may be called.

5. Egyptian leaders claim that recent Israeli border attacks prove the insincerity of your offer of peace talks with them. What is your government's policy regarding this?

There has never been an Israeli attack against Egypt and I can give my assurance that there never will be one in the future. The Egyptians recently invaded our territory at Nitzana in violation of the Armistice Agreements and International Law. When they refused to leave after repeated requests by representatives of the United Nations, we drove them out by force. But not a single one of our soldiers remained in Egyptian territory, because we have no desire to encroach upon Egypt.
If Nasser wants peace he can have it in five minutes. Let him send me a telegram and he will have an immediate positive reply. Our desire for peace stems from two sources: a) We have learned to value human life, and there is nothing we detest more than the shedding of blood. b) we are busily engaged in the work of development, construction, and absorption of immigrants for the sake of which we have established anew the State of Israel. We want our youth to devote all their energies to creative work, in both the material and spiritual fields.

6. What is your considered estimate of the present danger of full-scale war in the Middle East?

The large-scale supply of arms to Egypt increases the danger of war in the Middle East. This danger can be met in two ways: a) by preventing the flow of arms to Egypt and the other Arab countries; or b) by supplying arms to Israel.

7. What, then, are the requisites for peace and how can this be brought about?

There are two ways to ensure peace: a) If Egypt accepts my invitation to discuss a peaceful settlement; b) if the Great Powers deny all aid to the party which refuses to make peace.

March 26, 2015

1944. The Western Premiere of Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony

Downs Returns to the United States with Dmitri Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony
"Dmitry Shostakovich with the Glazunov Quartet in 1940" (source)
After spending a year in Moscow covering the Eastern Front, Bill Downs returned to the United States in 1944 with the score of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8. It was the first time the symphony would be heard in the Western Hemisphere.

The Eighth Symphony, along with his Seventh (officially titled "Leningrad") and Ninth, is part of a trilogy. The three pieces are referred to as "The Retreat," "The Attack," and "Victory," respectively.

The full symphony can be heard here.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 19, 1944:

Russian Composer's Newest Symphony Listed for Network

Shostakovich Eighth to Have Its Western Hemisphere Premiere

By SI STEINHAUSER
Although our ears haven't been trained to appreciate the heavier things in music we know there is a lot of excitement about a Russian composer named Dmitri Shostakovich and his "Eighth Symphony" premiered in Moscow on Nov. 4. And there ought to be a lot more excitement among symphony patrons between now and Sunday, April 2, when the much-talked-about work will be given its western hemisphere premiere over the Columbia network (WJAS in Pittsburgh) with Dr. Arthur Rodzinski and the New York Philharmonic Symphony the conveyor.

The score of the composition was brought from Moscow by Bill Downs, CBS reporter, on his return from Moscow in January. Negotiations for its broadcast here were begun in the summer of 1942, before Shostakovitch had set even a single note on paper.

The young Soviet composer has described his Eighth Symphony as "an attempt to look into the future, into the post-war epoch." With the Seventh and Ninth Symphonies, the latter on which he has already started work, Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony forms a musical trilogy of war and peace. Bill Downs reports that in Russia the Seventh Symphony is referred to as "The Retreat," the Eighth as "The Attack," and the Ninth as "Victory."

Shostakovich spent all last summer completing his Eighth Symphony, living on a farm with his wife and two young children. His studio was a room furnished only with table and chair.

The idea of the Western Hemisphere premiere of his Eighth Symphony taking place on the CBS network pleased Shostakovich for a number of reasons, among them the fact that CBS has broadcast first performances of much Soviet music, including his own Second Piano Sonata.

Shostakovich also took cognizance of the New York Philharmonic Symphony's distinguished reputation. He has met Dr. Rodzinski in Russia and has heard and admired that conductor's brilliant interpretation on records of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony.

From Billboard, February 5, 1944:

Downs Points to Lucky U.S. Listeners

Soviet Restrictions Described
NEW YORK, Jan. 29. — Radio listeners in America, lucky enough to receive entertainment at any hour of the day, do not realize how fortunate they are. Radio station operators here ought to thank the fates each day that they are working under so few restrictions. These are the conclusions of Bill Downs, CBS correspondent who has just returned to the United States after a year in Moscow. In the Soviet Union, said Downs, things are different. There radio is a weapon of war, and as such is under exclusive control of the government. There is no, or very little, entertainment put out each day by Radio Moscow. In fact there are no radio receivers of the type used in the United States.
As soon as the war started, said Downs, all Russian home radio receivers were confiscated (as noted in The Billboard, November 13, 1943). Now Radio Moscow broadcasts its programming to strategically located, government owned receivers. At these points the programs are retransmitted by wire to town square amplifiers and to amplifiers in the homes of officials. This way the news, propaganda and martial affairs which make up 99 per cent of Radio Moscow's daily fare for home consumption eventually reach a majority of the population.
Russian in 13 Languages
Radio Moscow, added Downs, has another important task in addition to supplying Russian citizens with the latest war news. It does a top-notch propaganda job sending out Russian doctrine in 13 languages by the use of powerful short-wave transmitters. Daily the ether is loaded with Red broadcasts aimed at America, Germany, France, the Balkans, Turkey, Africa, China and Japan. 
Although information about radio in Russia comes under the classification of military secrets and therefore is hard to verify, Downs said he had been told by people in the know that experimental FM and television programs have been aired in Moscow. 
Control Continues Post-War
After the war the Russian citizen will get more entertaining fare, but radio will still be owned and controlled by the government. There will be only one radio chain—the government's. Radio receivers—and possibly television receivers—will be in every home, but the government will be the boss and any advertiser—foreign or domestic—will not stand the chance of an SS Trooper in Stalingrad. 
Downs brought to the U.S. the score of Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony which is to be given a Western Hemisphere premiere on a CBS-New York Philharmonic broadcast in the near future. CBS paid $10,000 for the first broadcast rights and two non-broadcasts performances of the opus by the Philharmonic.

March 25, 2015

1943. Allied Bombing of Germany Threatens Morale

The Battle of the Ruhr
"Boeing B-17F radar bombing through clouds over Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 13, 1943" (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

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

CBS Moscow

May 30, 1943

There has been a change on this front during the past several months. A very obscure sort of change, but a very important one.

It's a change among the German troops, brought about by American and British boys operating out of England and North Africa.

It's based on the principle that, if you pull the Nazi war-dog's tail in Western Europe, his head will yelp in Russia. And that's what's happening here.

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

(Red Army intelligence officers for the past couple of months have reported that they are finding more and more letters from home on German prisoners in which the Deutschen home folks are complaining about Anglo-American bombing.)

When Frau Ruth Radke writes to her husband Sergeant Fritz Radke on the Russian front saying that Essen has taken another shellacking and the town is seriously damaged, Sergeant Radke is not going to be able to concentrate all his attention on killing Russians.

Russian officials report that this type of letter from home is being found in ever-greater numbers on prisoners and on the bodies of German soldiers left in the battlefields. It's a big change from the letters sent to the Russian front from Germany early in the war. Then the good wives and girlfriends of the Nazi soldiers begged them to send home booty taken from Russian civilians.

Russian officials are not overestimating the effects of this Anglo-American aerial attack on Germany. They don't believe that the German soldier on the Russian front is going to fold up and quit because of these attacks. However, they attach first-rank importance to the morale value on the Nazi troops here in Russia. No soldier can fight his best if he thinks the folks back home can't support the cause for which he is risking his life. American and British bombs are doing their bit in blasting this cause out by the roots, and the Fritz knows it.

1941. Analyzing the War from London

Churchill the Irate Kewpie
Winston Churchill inspecting soldiers in 1941. Getty Images. (source)

February 14, 1941

Dear Folks,

I'm working a dull night trick—we haven't had any serious raids for more than a week nowand thought I'd take a few minutes out to drop a line. I'm buying myself another suit—a Harris tweed this time—and get the thing tomorrow. It's about time I got myself some clothesI haven't had a new suit since Denver.

I'm becoming acquainted with the city now and have found some of the most marvelous bars—they call them "pubs" over here. There is one called Blackfriar's that is more like a museum than a bar and all of them seem to have nothing but old world graciousness and gentility rubbed into the wood.

However, liquor is expensive—about forty cents for a good shot or scotch—and I'm not doing the drinking I did in New York. However, I manage to have my moments.

I've had some interesting assignments. I've been doing the food stories—trying to determine if there's a shortage. And I get to go out on a bombing run occasionally. Then I saw Churchill review some Americans in the British army—and he does look sort of like an irate kewpie. Then the Queen inspected some American gifts to destitute and bombed out children. She really is beautiful and looks a little like Mom—about the same size, maybe a little shorter. She has plenty on the ball and has a tradition of never having been upset by even the most embarrassing circumstances.

Some doubt is arising now whether Hitler really is going to try his invasion—although with all the warnings from the government to be prepared, you'd think the show was coming off tomorrow—and maybe it will have by the time you get this. However, everybody knows that something is in the air, even if it isn't German airplanes. That's one of the things that has everyone puzzled—why the Germans haven't been carrying on their night raids. They usually give us hell after the RAF—Royal Air Force—give them a particularly heavy dose of bombs. But even after the shelling of Ostend and Genoa and the bombing of Bremen and Hanover, there has not been a thing to speak of.

With the new moves in Bulgaria, many people think that the big move will be in the Balkans and that much of the Luftwaffe will be withdrawn from the invasion ports to that sector. But your guess is as good and maybe better than we people sitting over here, where the tendency is to be so close to the guns that you can't see the war.

It's sometimes a little difficult to realize that spring is almost here—the seasons come early in England. And especially hard when all the news from home, even the newspapers, are at least a month late. We just found out the other day who won the New Year's bowl games and all your letters set me back about thirty days. That's the reason they say Christmas lasts longer here than any place else in the world. I was receiving Christmas cards up until a fortnight ago. 

I've had some dates with a couple of English girls—one a publicity agent for a big hotel in town, the other with a girl who runs a restaurant and another with a dance instructor I ran into. They are no different from American girls—in fact I think they get a lot of tops from the American films since this product are practically the only ones worth seeing. Since all the show open about nine in the morning and close about seven, I don't get a chance to see many pictures but I've been going to several concerts on my Sunday day off.

As yet I've only worn my tin hat a half dozen times. When the antiaircraft guns are barraging overhead, they make you feel safe as hell for some reason. And they are good protection against falling shrapnel which sometimes is more of a menace to personal safety than bombs.

I talked over NBC to Washington the other night. It was off the record and not broadcast except for the National Press Club there. It surely sounded good to hear an American accent. There were several of us on the radio, a man from the NY Herald Tribune, the NY Times, and AP. Vichy correspondents also were hitched up on the chitchat and I told Washington to pass along a message to you but I don't know whether they did or not. We only answered a few questions and kidded back and forth so there was nothing important said.

I have to get back to work now—so take care of yourselves and let me know the gossip. What's Paul doing, anyway? I have a lot of letters to write and tell him I'll drop him one when I get around to it.

Love,

Bill
____________________________________________________
July 20, 1941

Dear Folks,

Have been keeping busy trying to keep busy with nothing much going on to speak of. Had an interesting session with Ambassador Winant the other night. We had a little trouble about a story which was withheld for security reasons, but which the embassy forgot to release. Winant seems to be a combination of backwoodsman and schoolboy—but a hell of a nice guy. Also met the First Lord of the Admiralty Alexander at a press conference, and he wasn't so impressive. Seemed to be sort of a word worker type.

The only people I have been afraid of—in connection with Britain's war effort thus far—have been the politicians. Just as in our government, federal and state, they too often think of votes or of personal achievement rather than consider their country. Britain cannot afford to have many of this type of man in high places right now. However, I don't think he is very prevalent here.

Newspapers and everyone else here are withholding judgment on the outcome of the Russo-German war. We all hope, of course, that Russia will win. But for the first time so far in the war, I think everyone is being sensibly realistic. After Norway, France, Greece, Crete, and Libya, everyone has learned that you can't talk an army to victory.

The Russians have done much more than anyone expected them to do—for which we are all thankful—but if they are defeated, then we in Britain will have the battle back on our hands. Consequently, we are hoping that Adolph will be pretty tired when he gets through. From what has happened so far, we know that he already is bruised.

I want to ask you again to be careful what you allow Jim Porter to put into his column from my letters. You gotta remember that the United Press reads these things too, and I don't want anything to appear in print that might be used against my integrity as a newspaperman. You have to be careful of those things these days. Tell Jim to be careful for me.

Went to a Fourth of July party given by Douglas Williams, head of the American division of the Ministry of Information, the other day. Life photographers were there making a "Life goes to a party" series—but I don't know whether I was included in the photos or not. It was a good show. Everyone had a grand time, and plenty of liquor flowed.

Since the pastime in this country is walking, I took one the other day with Ed Beattie, bureau chief here. We went across the Epsom Downs—really beautiful country. It seems in some places to be a carefully ordered and trimmed Ozarks. Walked about seven miles, more than I have in a long time. But it was worth it.

Have been shifted back to the office after a boring session at the Ministry of Information. Am now working a swing trick from noon to eight p.m. and sometimes from four until midnight. Not many interesting assignments kicking around. Met the Russian military commission when it came to town—then got a shock when I interviewed some injured firemen, a couple of whom had most of their faces burned off. Also interviewed some American nurses as you saw.

Off the record, I have been writing some pieces about the American industrial system for the Ministry of Information. They are merely definitive and descriptive stuff, and so far I have made about $40. Have two more on order now.

Heard from Carl Smight the other day. He didn't mention anything about being married to Alice Haldeman-Julius except to say that it might happen soon. He is now working for the Chicago Tribune, which is a promotion over the other job he had. One of my pals here was shifted to Africa, and another may be going to Iceland soon. I was hoping that I might get a shift to Moscow or something, but nothing is on the horizon yet.

That's about all for now. Can't think of much of anything else. Am feeling fine, and along with everyone else am getting a little bored. But we can usually depend upon Adolph to come up with something.

Love,

Bill

1959. Dissatisfaction with the CBS TV News Format

Bill Downs Proposes Changes at CBS
"Edwards on the set of Douglas Edwards With the News (1952)" (source)
CBS News Office Communication

November 18, 1959

To: Sig Mickelson

From: Bill Downs

I write this on a personal and confidential basis because I don't want people to think I'm nosing in where I have no business. I hear from Howard and the grapevine down here that there is concern over the ratings on the Edwards news show and possible changes on it, or the format.

So, he said, sticking his nose in, may I pass along my ideas on the subject?

CBS News has dominance because it has better men. The Edwards show has made minimal use of the staff. I would suggest that if the Huntley-Brinkley show has gained on our 6:45, it is because it gives a greater illusion of coverage of the news than a report out of New York supplemented by anonymous film and a regular news analysis.

I would suggest that correspondents who cover a story in Washington, Paris, or wherever report it. Even if this means using an audio feed from London or Paris with balops. It is better to have the on-the-spot report than a rehash of the wires. On domestic stories, I would suggest that separate voices—or film or live when possible—of the correspondent who covered be called in.

The change in format would make Edwards more of an editor than the narrator—there would be a built-in dynacism [sic] in switching—and I think that on dull days this format could be played with to pick a newsworthy subject and venture into some reporting in depth.

I obviously make this suggestion because it will give everyone including me more exposure as a CBS News correspondent, a thing that some office boys in New York don't know.

I also would like to revive an old suggestion which has been kicked around for years but never really tried. It also might provide the excuse and the opportunity to unify the newsrooms—radio, TV, public affairs, and what have you under one roof.

In the days of massive truth, it's pretty obvious that the Edwards newsroom is a set, whether the teletype machines in the background work or not. It's not a CBS newsroom and really never pretended to be. It's a studio. So why not do it from the newsroom? Why not say we have a late report from Paris on the De Gaulle-Khrushchev conference—"Rack up the Paris film, Joe. Come in, Dave Schoenbrun in Paris."

The same newsroom setup should apply to Washington too, and the switch could be used from desk to desk. A reporter could use charts. He could even bring in the news principal or an expert for short interviews; the same for New York reporters.

I think Doug does a fine job of news coverage and am not criticizing it. But I think possibly it has become settled and solidified, when most of the time news is exciting, shocking, horrifying, funny, or fascinating.

I think also that the Huntley-Brinkley routine is settling into a pattern that will eventually become a kind of minstrel show, ending up "Good night, Mr. Jones—Good night, Mr. Bones."

It's not necessary to go overboard on the newsroom idea, with people dashing around and that sort of stuff, but it seems to me that CBS News can be portrayed as a working organization under conditions of reality better than on a set—or am I wrong? The first thing necessary, I would suggest, is to throw away the makeup kits.

Anywhere, there it is. What do you think, I betcha.

Regards,
Bill

March 20, 2015

1943. The Air War in Crimea and East Prussia

The Fighting Rages on During Easter
Soviet fighters at an unfinished German bridge in Crimea, November 1943 (source)
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 23, 1943

This morning's communiqué says that there were no essential changes on the Russian front last night. However in the last 24 hours in the Kuban, 500 Germans and Romanians were killed in a series of attacks, after which they were forced to retreat in disorder.

This fighting in the Kuban, which the German command is throwing wave after wave of men and aircraft without regard to losses, still has not taken on any pattern. However, there are indications that the Nazis are gradually wearing themselves out. Front dispatches this morning say that the Germans more and more are putting Romanian troops into the vanguard of their local attacks. Thus the Romanians suffer the heaviest losses. The dispatch says that when the unlucky Romanians show a reluctance to attack, or when they appear on the verge of retreat, the German soldiers behind them liven their spirits with Tommy gun bullets. A good number of these Romanians have been killed by their own allies.

It was revealed today that the Germans have moved hundreds of bombers and fighters into the high and dry airdromes of the Crimea to support the Nazi attacks across the Kerch Strait in the Kuban. These bombers are the ones that have been making mass attacks on the city of Krasnodar, the capital of the Kuban, and other military objectives west of the city.

But the transfer of new German bomber squadrons to the Crimea also means something else. Ever since the post-thaw fighting in the Kuban began we have heard of the strong Russian air attacks on the Nazi airdromes. The fact that many of these airdromes are in the Crimea means that the Soviet air force has carried its attack in force to this peninsula for the first time since the Russian forces were pushed out of the Crimea after the fall of Sebastopol.

Russian intelligence has collected some interesting facts about this new German bombing force in the Crimea. The pilots and bombardiers and navigators are all young, unseasoned flyers. Many who have been captured say that they were on their second and third fighting operations after graduation from the German training schools.

The Nazi flying command is attempting to give these kids flying experience by flying them over the Kuban battlefield in bombers that carry no bombs. They usually get only one such flight, however, and after that they are on their own.

The Russians say their bombing is pretty bad. They usually drop their bombs too soon in their hurry to get back to their bases, and they don't know much about taking evasive action. During two days of their mass raids on the Krasnodar District, 98 German planes were shot down. This totals almost an entire German air wing.

The Germans undoubtedly moved this strong bomber and fighter force into the Crimea in order to cover a German "Dunkirk" evacuation across the Kerch straits if such became necessary. These German and Romanian attacks in the Kuban appear to be Nazi attempts to postpone that necessity.
___________________________
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 24, 1943

The Red Army has won the first round of spring fighting in the Kuban. The official explanation in this morning's communiqué reads like this: It said "the enemy, as a result of the unsuccessful attacks of the past days, suffered such severe losses in manpower and equipment that they Hitlerian units have been bled white and could not launch active operations.

The communiqué went on to say that the Red Army last night put up an artillery barrage that destroyed two Nazi artillery batteries and blew up one ammunition dump.

This first round of victory in the Kuban was a victory on points for the Red Army. Russian forces absorbed all the punches that the German and Romanian troops could throw at them. Today both sides are catching their breath for the beginning of the second stage of the battle.

The Soviet air force again carried the air war to East Prussia, and first details of the two hour raid on Insterburg report fires and havoc among barracks of German reserve troops, as well as serious damage to the city's important railroad junction.

Insterburg forms the eastern apex of the important German communications triangle connecting Koenigsburg and Tilsit. This district not only connects Hitler's Baltic troops with their rear supplies, but is also a big base for reserve troops and quartermaster's stores. Pilots said that the first in Intsterburg were so fierce that they could smell the smoke from the height at which they bombed the city. The barracks district was set aflame, and bombs dropped on the railroad junction and warehouses. The weather was good.

Tonight at midnight, thousands—perhaps millions—of people will jam Russia's cathedrals to celebrate the holiest day of the Russian Orthodox church. The siege laws of Moscow and other cities which impose a midnight curfew will be relaxed tonight so that the faithful can worship from midnight through the long, four hour service celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Moscow churches will be so jam-packed that people will not have room to kneel. At these services, such as the one I saw at Christmas, the people jam the churches so tightly that the faithful even have difficulty in crossing themselves.

The Russians celebrate the Easter season and the breaking of Lent by taking special buns and cakes to the church to be blessed. For the past week, the Moscow market has been jammed with women bargaining for eggs and flour and sugar. (There is quite a barter in these things.) And this year there will not be any light, fluffy cakes—and few raisins and frosting in these cakes—but there will be cakes to be blessed, and that's all that matters.

Another Russian Orthodox custom is that the worshipers take lighted candles with them after the service and walk three times around the church. This custom, however, will have to be omitted this year as it was last. The blackout bans such a display of light.

1944. Newly Liberated Belgium

Maintaining Supply Lines Through Belgium
"Personnel of the Royal Regiment of Canada. Blankenberge, Belgium, 11 Sept 1944" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Brussels

September 9, 1944

British troops today have made their second crossing over the Albert Canal at the town of Geel, some twelve miles from the bridgehead further up the canal at Beringen. Today British armor and infantry are widening their hold on the north bank of the canal against stiff German resistance. The two crossings as yet have not been linked up.

The Albert Canal once was Belgium's main defense line against invasion from the north. Millions of dollars have been spent in making it one immense tank trap. At important defense points, the banks of the canal rise from 130 to 210 feet with almost vertical walls. Although the canal defenses are directed northward, they often make it tough going to get an army from the south, and not everywhere can this be done.

After the Germans blew all the remaining bridges across the canal, British troops found it a major engineering problem. And that is the reason that there has been a pause in the army's advance the past three days.

News that the channel port of Ostend has been abandoned by the Germans without a fight was received with much gratification here. Allied supply lines are now some 300 miles long back to the Normandy ports.

The problem of supply has been extremely difficult. Long lines of convoys have been keeping the tanks and troops operating fully, but there has not been the opportunity for a buildup such as that supplied to the Allied march north of the Seine. The ports on the channel north of the Seine will serve to ease this problem.

But meanwhile, thousands of tons of materiel are arriving every day by air. The RAF has set a new speed record in establishing itself on Belgian airfields. I saw one yesterday and I counted some twenty American planes flying over the airfield in a wide circle lining up the land. On the ground, scores of other planes were taking off. And dashing in between and around this heavy flow of airplanes were the fighters flying constant patrol and escorts. No airport has probably ever been busier.

And as if this was not enough, demonstration of complete Allied control of the air only some fifty miles from the German frontier, hundreds of Fortresses and Liberators roared over Brussels today on a bombing mission to Germany.

Traveling through newly liberated Belgium from northward towards the front is like going through an oversized Mardi Gras. People line the roads and cheer. Flags are everywhere in the villages you pass through. Hitler has been hanged in effigy in a half dozen of these villages I drove through.

But as you approach the front in the more newly liberated towns, you run into the feeling of vengeance and the signs of the magnificent efforts of the people to help free themselves. In one village, we stopped for coffee—ersatz coffee—at a restaurant. When we went in, we found that it was being used as headquarters for the Belgian White Army there. The men wore their uniforms of cream-colored coveralls and black berets. They all had rifles and pistols and knives. German grenades stuck out of their belts. They had been working and fighting all night, and many were asleep at the tables catching a few moments of rest before their next mission. And true to the hospitality we have received here, the Allied soldiers were the guests of the White Army. No man in a uniform could buy a meal.

And on our way back to Brussels, we saw other signs of this nation's gratitude to the Allied armies. Farmers along the highway had left their land to repair and clear the roads so that the convoys could roll faster, and other men were voluntarily clearing and repairing a damaged railroad line, getting it in shape for use even before army engineers arrived to do the job.

This is Bill Downs in Brussels returning you to CBS in New York.

March 17, 2015

1943. No Fun in Moscow

Moscow at War
Stalinist Russia: Women in Moscow on September 7, 1947, during the city's celebration of its 800th birthday. (Photo by Robert Capasource)
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military security or propaganda reasons.

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

CBS Moscow

April 21, 1943

One of the first casualties of this war in Russia has been just plain honest-to-goodness fun. There have been no big military developments on the Russian front since the Red Army's winter offensive officially ended March 31.

But there have been no developments at all on the Russian entertainment front since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.

Don't get the wrong idea. Moscow still has its theaters and operas and concerts—but there is none of the noisy, boisterous hell-raising that usually goes with a big city at war.

Russia still presents the best ballet in the world. It's the only place in the world where you can see a full performance of Tchaikovsky's famous "Swan Lake" ballet. Every other night or so there is an opera.

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

It isn't that Moscow doesn't want to have fun. You can look at the crowds at the theaters and the concerts to see that. It's only that Moscow doesn't have time to have fun. People work hard here. When they have time to relax, they want to sleep.

All in all, the only persons whose entertainment really gets any attention in Russia are the men of the Red Army.

(For example, every big base of the Russian air force has its club room where the Red Army lady pilots can dance with the Red Army gentleman pilots. And there are no lack of girls at the air bases I have seen. There are plenty of women who fly and service the Red Army air force ships. I danced with one or two. They wouldn't win any prizes in Harlem, but their dancing is the good solid type of what was popular before the Big Apple.)

The government has an entertainment service for the Red Army. Since the war started, this group of Russian actors, musicians, magicians, and comedy stars have given 270,000 performances for the Russian fighting men. This includes many performances which were lit up by German flares and which had to compete with German shells for the attention of the audience.

March 16, 2015

1944. Bill Downs Prepares for D-Day

The Second Front Awaits
Bill Downs (third from left) and Charles Collingwood (far left) on the Thames sometime in the 1940s
The ellipses between paragraphs indicate omissions of details such as well wishes and mailing information.
April 12, 1944

Dear Folks,

I finally got over here after a dull crossing with nothing but gales for over half the voyage . . . we certainly are winning the battle of the Atlantic. Not a single Nazi sub came close to us. Actually, the battle of the Atlantic has become something of a bore. The Navy guys are fed up with the lack of action.

But England is the place that has really changed. It is an entirely different country now from the one I left 18 months ago. There seem to be more Americans crowded on this island than you can find in Manhattan. And equipment—it's so thick that you literally have to watch out to keep from stepping on it. I was impressed by the production when I was home, but over here you really see what the boys back home have been doing.

. . .

London looks about the same as usual. The bombings they have been having haven't been as heavy as the ones I went through in 1940 and '41. Food is expensive and the standard price for whiskey is about $1 per drink. I've found myself a flat and take possession tomorrow. It's in the center of London and pretty nice.

I've been busy the past week getting my credentials in shape, getting my field kit together, and crowding some broadcasts in between. Have been so busy really there's been no time to get my feet on the ground. Have met a lot of old friends, but now there are so many reporters around that they are hard to single out. About two hundred reporters are waiting to cover the invasion. Should have millions of words for you to read when the show starts.

Everyone is on edge. People here are tired of waiting. Tempers are a little short and there's a general feeling of last minute hustle and bustle. I leave town in a couple of days for a brief course of training with some news broadcasting-recording equipment. The office has assigned me to cover the British army in the early stages of the invasion. In many ways it is a better assignment than the American army. However, I still want to cover our own forces and hope to get transferred over later.

. . .

CBS is ready to cover the show. I believe we have the best staff of any of the radio networks, so keep listening for news. A lot of my stuff will be written from the front. I probably won't be on the air for some time after the show starts, but I hope to be one of the first to get back an eyewitness account—and you can depend that I will make it good.

I've gotta go now. I'm sorry I delayed writing for so long, but if you could see the number of offices I've been in and the number of people I've had to see this past week, you'd forgive me.

. . .

Pass on my love to everyone, and keep a major share for yourselves.

Love,

Bill
____________________________

April 24, 1944

Dear Folks,

Spring is a wonderful season in England. All the fruit trees are trying to outdo each other in blossoms. The contrast of war and spring is at first a little shocking, especially when you think of it in terms of blood and death, but you get used to it. I think that's the trouble with the world—people "get used to" too damn many things which they should long ago have eliminated from civilization, such things as poverty and ignorance.

I have been assigned to cover the British army. I wanted to work with the Americans, but there are certain compensations in working with the British which should be to my advantage. Anyway, I wish this invasion would get underway.

The office is in good shape with, I think, the most competent news staff of any of the broadcasting chains. Ed Murrow, of course, is one of the best-informed reporters over here. He's easy to work with and leaves the office to more or less run itself. Larry LeSueur and Charlie Collingwood were here when I was in England before. Two new men are Dick Hottelet, former UP man in Berlin who was jailed by the Nazis for six months or so, and Charles Shaw, a nice guy from San Antonio. So at least CBS is ready. We hope.

I have a new flat. It's a small place, one room with a kitchenette and bath. To give you an idea of the prices, I have to pay $37 a week rent for it, but it's cheaper and better than living in a hotel.

. . .

I have to go to work now and cut this off. Keep your letters coming, and give my love to everyone.

Love,

Bill
____________________________


May 17, 1944

Dear Folks,

I couldn't write you last week because I was up in Scotland. I'll have to tell you about it later, but I had a wonderful time and even got in some golf. Also went fishing but didn't get anything. We fished for perch in a loch—lake to you—using worms. I got two bites but couldn't land anything. It's a beautiful country, and the Scots are a much more unreserved race than the English or Welsh. We ran into an unlimited supply of good Scotch whiskey which we took full advantage of as you can imagine.

Ernie Pyle was along. He had just received the Pulitzer Prize and came in for quite a ragging.

. . .

Everyone here is confident of the coming operations. No one expects it to be a breeze and some people are going to get hurt, but I believe we have them licked. Anyway, I'm glad I'm going in and not sitting on Hitler's west wall waiting for what is going to hit them, and plenty.

I have to run now. Keep the letters coming. And take care of yourselves.

Love,

Bill
____________________________

May 30, 1944

Dear Mom,

. . .

Not much news over here. I've been working fairly hard, but there isn't enough to do right now and it is driving me slightly nuts.

Heard a new joke the other day. Seems that a GI was playing gin rummy in his barracks with his dog. The sergeant came in and said, "What are you doing?"

The soldier answered, "Playing gin rummy."

Sergeant: "What, with a dog?"

Soldier: "Sure."

Sergeant: "He must be one of the smartest dogs on earth."

Soldier: "Naw, I've beat him three games already."

So you can see what I've been doing over here. I've also heard some more disreputable jokes, but they'll have to be saved until I get home. I should entertain censors!

. . .

Love,

Bill
____________________________

June 20, 1944

Dear Folks,

You'll have to excuse my delay in writing, but I think you realize the difficulties under which I have been operating. First we were held incommunicado for a week, and then we were shipped over here. I assumed that you were hearing my dispatches and would know that I was okay. I have been working about 18 hours a day—that's the way it goes here—and so there really hasn't been much time between dawn and darkness for anything else.

Strangely enough, what promised to be the biggest adventure in my life fizzed out like a wet firecracker. I came over in an LST and was scheduled to land on D-Day right behind the assault troops. But I didn't get in finally until about 4 p.m. on D-plus-one, that is, the day after the assault. I was very lucky. I landed on what was probably the quietest beach taken. As a matter of fact, our landing might have made at a dock. The Jeep rolled off without hardly getting its wheels wet. However, there was plenty of evidence of the hard fighting that had gone on before. Bodies and devastation and such.

I didn't exactly picture myself going into France on a white charger hurling typewriters at the enemy, but I must admit that I expected more of a meeting than I received. Absolutely nothing happened to me—that is the first day. The night before we had quite a picturesque air raid off the beach with lots of stuff going up and down. It wasn't exactly pleasant. And then again that night we slept in an unfinished German gun position and had another air raid on the beach.

But then I moved up to Bayeux. You probably have read about this fantastic town. The war has absolutely passed it by. The British took it the day after the invasion and the Germans were so surprised at the attack that they pulled out without destroying or damaging a thing. I lived at a marvelous hotel there with plenty of food and wine...and clean sheets and even a hot bath if you arrange about four hours ahead for it. It is known as sort of a paradise here. Incidentally, the local drink is called Calvados—it is distilled cider, in fact a very strong applejack. Very good and very intoxicating if you don't watch out.

My first trip to the front was pretty hot. There are more than enough snipers in these parts, and we managed to get ourselves sniped at by a German machine gun. Then we ran into shell fire, but the Nazis are notoriously bad shots.

I don't mean to imply that I'm going out every day and risking my life or anything like that. It's just that you take those chances, and they are no more than walking across main street at lunch hour. You simply accept the possibility of getting hit by a bullet the same way Dad or anyone else accepts the possibility of getting hit by an automobile when he crosses the street. It's the same way with bombing. We get it here every night, but no one seems to get hurt.

Anyway, you can't write a story about the war without seeing it. I would feel like an awful heel if I wrote about how tough it is at the front without knowing and experiencing some of this tough stuff myself. Besides, you can't learn those things without going through it.

I won't bore you with what has happened to me. I almost caught myself a German the other day but a Commando beat me to it. I've seen some things that I will never get, and I have come to know courage and guts in such a way that I never before believed they existed.

. . .

I got a break and got the first broadcast out of the continent, so they tell me. But right now things are very dull. That is from a story viewpoint. They are not and never are dull at the front, not when you are sweating out a patrol when every moment might decide your fate.

You also will be interested to know that the Germans seem to have evacuated or married or shipped off or killed most all the eligible young women. I can't prove a thing about French women, it seems, until I get to Paris. It leads to a much, much too healthy existence. I have to go now. It's getting dark and we have no lights. Incidentally, none of this letter is for publication. Keep writing to me and maybe I'll get some of your letters.

Love,

Bill
____________________________

July 2, 1944

Dear Folks,

It's Sunday again and time to write another letter. That's about the only way that we have of keeping track of the days here. We have had a nice offensive on this front, but now things are slacking off. I've been to this front about every day. The Germans have pushed up a lot more artillery and mortars, and it hasn't been pleasant. However, I haven't gotten myself into any spot that I can't get out of.

There is a tremendous wave of optimism here about the end of the war. Everyone seems to think that the Jerry is about licked and that he doesn't have enough stuff to stop us. I'm not so optimistic. The Nazi may not have as much as we have, but he fights like hell and knows how to conserve equipment. On the strength of my judgment I've taken a couple of bets—one that the war won't be over by October 1 and the other that it won't be over here by December 31. I hope to lose them both. At least it would keep me consistent. I don't believe that I have won a bet on the war since it began.

I have moved off a camp cot into a small hotel. Two other fellows share the room, but I managed to snaffle the bed so I'm all set. It's very comfortable, except that there is a mysterious system of getting water. It comes out of the tap at odd hours of the day, sometimes at 6 a.m. and sometimes about midnight. So you have to be on your toes to collect enough to wash with.

I'm out looking for a bath today. Hope to line up one by the middle of the week at least. And I've been doing my own washing when the water is plentiful. Must say that my washing comes out very grey, but I assume that it's clean.

We will have been here a month on Tuesday. Doesn't seem like a day more than ten years. Everyone is beginning to get a little tired. I haven't taken a day off yet but hope to this week. I should get some leave back to London about the last of August, maybe earlier. I should like to celebrate my birthday in Paris, but I'm taking no bets that I will.

However, unless the front absolutely bogs down. I'm not going to ask for leave until we get to Paris or at least until something definite is settled over here.

The going to the front every day gets on your nerves. You begin to hear things that aren't there. And it becomes harder to make yourself go forward when you're retired.

. . .

I hear that they finally got the Halo on Dewey, but I wouldn't give him Hitler's chance of winning. And if you don't vote for Roosevelt, I'll figure that my time over here is wasted. Such statements as I read in the papers that "we must return to Washington D.C., to the union..." and such ridiculous crap makes me sick. If the Republican die-hards get control of our government we will have this to do all over again. And believe me, I can show you hundreds of graves that prove the futility of the kind of government the Republican isolationists are talking about. It seems funny that those dopes who prate about their free enterprise and isolationism—because it has made them fat and rich—end up fighting the war on their fat backsides while other men have to be buried on the battlefields that their narrow, shortsighted policies have created.

This is not time to talk about America first or Britain first or Russia first. This time it has to be humanity first, last, and always. This time we have to damn well see that no one nation tries to kick the world around. We put guns on our policemen in our cities to keep the peace—we have to do the same for the world.

This really isn't meant to be a sermon, but the political chicanery and self-seeking bull that comes from political conventions sounds very hollow sitting here.

I've got to go now. Keep writing and maybe I'll get a letter sooner or later.

Love,
 

Bill