November 30, 2016

1943. The Occupational Risks of a War Correspondent

The Dangers of Covering the Front Lines
"Making a test to judge how much he'll be able to see when combat action occurs in a storm, W. R. Higginbotham of the United Press dons Navy 'foul weather gear' aboard a warship. Jack Rice (left), Associated Press photographer, and Tom Wolf of the NEA await his report with interest" (Official U.S. Navy photograph - source)
From the column "Lardner Goes to the Wars" by John Lardner in Newsweek, December 6, 1943, p. 20:

Occupational Risks of a War Correspondent

With the Fifth Army in Italy—Big Dick Tregaskis, able and energetic correspondent of International News Service, was put out of action here by shell slivers which penetrated his tin hat.

Back on the beaches of Salerno some weeks ago Jack Belden of Time, Life, Fortune, and The Architectural Forum, the gifted author and red-dog player who is known in the trade as Shanghai Jack, had his leg broken by German rifle fire. Between times two British reporters and an Australian, probing a town where no Germans should have been, were killed by enemy tank fire.

These events all happening here in this campaign have made other correspondents a little self-conscious. I don't mean at all that they are getting "windy" as the British say, but I do notice lately that when some grave outsider, soldier, or civilian brings up the theme: "You fellows run quite a lot of chances, or do you?" The boys consider the matter equally gravely and begin to argue the chances and percentages.

This is directly contrary to the newspaper tradition that I know. Newspapermen—outside of a few hypochondriacs and professional scarehead lecturers who may emphasize peril for sales reasons in the old Floyd Gibbons manner—are inclined to kid about such occupational hazards as may come along, especially if they are hazards with a sort of bogus glamor attached to them like gunfire. They kid the subject or duck it entirely. Cirrhosis of the liver, which Mr. Stanley Walker once described as an occupational disease in the newspaper business, is a much more decent topic of conversation.

I am talking about them now because I suddenly find them a subject of general interest here on a frozen front and therefore newsworthy. G.I. soldiers who get killed and wounded in droves without fanfare, private ceremonies, or tables of batting averages are beginning to ask reporters about their dangers and hardships instead of dwelling on their own. It's often true, of course, that the enlisted man in the Army has 20 to 500 per cent more curiosity about a correspondent than the correspondent has about him.

"Well, so you guys lead a pretty dangerous life, do you?" a soldier will ask, thinking that maybe we really do. It seems to me this question is so far beside the point as to be out of sight entirely—in addition to which it concerns only the front-line or bombing-mission journalism which is a small fraction of the business of covering the war. However, since the point had arisen, I polled two elder statesmen, two hoary deans of the trade, on what they thought of this red-hot topic.

William Stoneman of The Chicago Daily News was wounded in person in Tunisia, though he roared fierce oaths from his hospital bed when they tried to catch him off-guard with a Purple Heart. "I will tell you," Mr. Stoneman replied to the poller as he leafed thoughtfully through his collection of early Italian pistols and Renaissance bed socks. There are certain stories worth risking something to get and certain stories which are not worth a damn. The difficulty is knowing which is which."

When your correspondent moved on to H. R. Knickerbocker of The Chicago Sun, who has been showered with dirt by bursting shells almost continuously since the campaign began, he found this operative engaged in blocking out a lecture tour.

"Your question is one to which I have given some thought," said Mr. Knickerbocker, "and if you will arrange to catch my act in Boston or Toledo two years from now, you will get the answer."

The simple truth is that the reporters I have known who were hurt—Tregaskis, Stoneman, and Belden—were good newspapermen working hard at a job they enjoyed doing. The same is true of most reporters I know who have been killed. There are many worse ways to die.

November 29, 2016

1922. Benito Mussolini Seizes Power in Italy

The Fascists Descend Upon Rome
A poster featuring the visage of Benito Mussolini on display in Rome at the Palazzo Braschi in 1934 (source)
From The New York Times, November 1, 1922:

100,000 Fascisti March Through the City as Mussolini Becomes Premier
King Receives Them Warmly and Comments Upon Their Arduous Task
Premier Says Pacification is First Task—French and Swiss Are Apprehensive

ROME, Oct. 31 — The new Cabinet of Premier Mussolini took the oath of office today before the King, thereby becoming the official Government of Italy, and the Fascisti army, the Black Shirts, commanded by Mussolini, which has surrounded Rome, paraded through the city, 100,000 strong.

A fact which is everywhere favorably commented upon is that Mussolini and his Ministers all wore frock coats and silk hats at the ceremony of taking the oath. It was recalled in this connection that when the Socialists, Turati and Bissolati, visited the King recently they wore soft hats and rough sporting jackets. Mussolini's action is considered all the more interesting when it is remembered that up to a few years ago he also was a Socialist and a rabid revolutionary. He, however, decided that as he had accepted the monarchy the King should be treated with all the pomp appertaining to the office.

The scene when the ex-Socialist and ex-idol of the revolutionary masses took the oath of allegiance to the King was dramatic. The King greeted each Minister, saying: "I feel that I can hardly congratulate you, as you have a stiff, arduous task before you, but I congratulate the country for having you as Ministers."

Sonorously Accepts Oath

The King read the formula of the oath as follows:

"I swear to be faithful to my King and his legal descendants. I swear to be true to the Constitution and fundamental laws of the State for the inseparable welfare of my King and my country."

Mussolini, who was standing with the Ministers in a group around him, immediately stepped forward and, raising his outstretched arms, said with a booming voice:

"Your Majesty, I swear it."

The King was so deeply moved that he embraced Mussolini. Afterward each Minister went through the formality. When all had taken the oath the King remained for a few moments in conversation with Mussolini, who afterward drove back to his office at the Ministry of the Interior. The Fascisti militia had a hard task of restraining an enthusiastic crowd which wished to carry him in triumph through the streets.

"Double Hat" System Ended

Mussolini was early at his office this morning. Exactly at 8 o'clock, the hour at which all Government clerks are supposed to be at their posts, he telephoned all his Ministers instructing them to have a roll call. Anyone who was not at his desk was severely reprimanded and warned that he would be dismissed at the next offense.

This is the first foretaste of a regime of strict discipline which Mussolini intends to institute throughout Italy. Up to the present time most of the Government offices have been worked on the "double hat" system, whereby each clerk possesses two hats, one which remains permanently hung on a nail in his office, the other being worn going to and from the office. Whenever any one went into a Government office in search of a clerk, even two or three hours after the regular opening time, an usher would point out the hat hanging on a nail and say: "He is obviously in the office somewhere because his hat is here. You would better wait." The authorities have winked at this practice, but Mussolini does not propose to tolerate it. He said to The New York Times correspondent today:

"Italy must wake up to the fact that only hard work can save us from financial and economic ruin. I propose that the Government should begin in showing a good example, and Government clerks will be treated just like any clerk working for a private concern would be treated. If they work and do their duty they will be well treated, but if they are not ready to do what is expected of them they will be dismissed. This new regime will be hard for many of them, but they must realize that times have changed."

Mussolini also outlined the main points of his policy. As to internal affairs, it may be summed up in three words: "Discipline, economy, sacrifice," Mussolini said.

"I have not reached my present position by holding forth visions of an easy paradise, as the Socialists did. All will be ruled with an iron hand. It must be a wonderful testimonial to the patriotism and common sense of Italians that the Fascisti with such a program have the backing of an overwhelming majority of the country. Of course, they will be better off in the end, but our policy will not bear fruit for some time, and in the meanwhile there is going to be suffering."

On being asked by The New York Times correspondent what were the more specific points in his policy, he answered:

"First of all, the country must be pacified. The people must be made to understand that laws are passed in order to be observed. Lawlessness has reigned such a long time in Italy that the task will be difficult.

"Either the people will understand the need for pacification of their own accord or (here flash came into his eye) I will make them understand it.

"The second most important need is to balance the budget. The country must be placed on a paying basis. We are now paying billions yearly for running the railroads, posts, telegraph and telephone and we are paying these huge sums for running them badly. This must cease. Either the Government can run them well and show a profit, or the Government must give them up.

"Besides, by throwing all the youthful enthusiasm of the Fascisti, which has hitherto been used in fighting the Communists, into the paths of peace, we hope to inject so much pep into the country that there will be increased prosperity.

"The country had got tired. It had been running in a groove too long. We are going to shake it up, wake itmake it realize that it is alive."
Legions Enter in Triumph
Mussolini declares the establishment of an Italian Empire in a speech to a crowd before Palazzo Venezia in Rome, 1936 (source)
ROME, Oct. 31 (Associated Press) One hundred thousand well disciplined Fascisti marched through Rome from north to south today to the plaudits of a million Italian citizens gathered in the capital from all parts of the kingdom.

Their commander, Mussolini, was the central figure of the procession. Like the others who walked behind, the leader wore the black shirt of the organization. He was bare-headed and in a buttonhole was the Fascisti badge, while on his sleeve were several stripes showing that he had been wounded in the war.

Mussolini was surrounded by his general staff, including Signor Bianchi, de Vecchi, a number of generals and several Fascisti Deputies. He walked with a firm step the entire four miles to the disbanding point.

The day broke clear and fine, with one of Italy's brightest suns lighting the way to Borghese Park as the Fascisti troops, abroad early, proceeded up the Pincian Hill, from Tivoli, Santa Marinella and other places on the outskirts of the city, where they had been camping the last three days.

Big Parade Forms in Park

"It is a Fascismo sun," said a sturdy young black-shirted peasant from the plains of Piedmont as he led the Piedmont contingent into Borghese Park, where 15,000 Fascist, representing all the provinces of the Kingdom, from Northern Venetia and Lombardy to Southern Calabria and Sicily, assembled.

With military precision they formed and automatically fell into the places assigned to them—dark-visaged youths, with set, determined faces, upon which shone the light of victory, all wearing the black shirt. The rest of their equipment varied from skull caps to soft felt hats and steel helmets—some of them were without hats—and non-descript trousers, multi-colored socks and shoes that ranged from topboots to dancing pumps. They were armed only with riding crops and bludgeons, one man from Ancona swinging a baseball bat.

Briskly they swung into line to the tunes of innumerable bands, the Roman contingent leading the way along the Pincian Hill Road to the Piazza del Popolo and to the Porta del Popolo, through the Gate of the People into the People's Square, then marched down the Corso Umberto, Rome's main street, lined with flags.

Every window was filled with Romans cheering, some showering flowers upon the passing blackshirts, while those in the streets saluted straight-armed from the shoulder, with hands extended toward the west.

Through the heart of the city the procession continued, the youths never looking to the right or left, and acknowledging the acclamations and cheers only by singing Fascisti marching songs. Thus they reached the monument of Victor Emmanuel and the tomb of the unknown soldier.

At the tomb of each contingent, with banners flying, halted before the imposing monument; then two men from each contingent, one bearing a huge palm, the other a bouquet of flowers, ascended the steps leading to the tomb and deposited them upon it until it was lost to the sight beneath the mass of bloom. The first wreath placed on the tomb was carried by a veteran Garibaldian, nearly a hundred years old, who was assisted up the steps by two youths whose combined ages totaled less than half his own.

Paraded Before the King

On departing from the tomb the Fascisti proceeded at double-quick up the steep Cesare Battisti Hill to the Quirinal, where the King appeared on the balcony. He stood at salute, as each contingent arrived the flag was dipped, as before the tomb of the unknown soldier. The King received a great ovation from the assembled multitude.

The Fascisti reformed and marched directly to the station, where fifty trains, capable of transporting from 500 to 1,000 soldiers each, had been held in readiness since morning in accordance with the demobilization order that "every soldier must be on his way home before nightfall."

A feature of the day was the absence of speeches, the Fascisti leaders having decided, as one of them put it, they they are men of action, not words.

The crush around the tomb of the unknown soldier was so great that many women and some soldiers fainted. They were attended promptly by Fascisti ambulances.

Fully a million people lined the concourse from Borghese Park to the railroad station, or nearly twice the population of Rome, many of them coming from as far north as Venice and others from Sicily. Airplanes hovered overhead for most of the day, dropping Fascisti manifestos. Frequently the crowds were stampeded in efforts to pick up the pamphlets.

Groups of Fascisti today invaded the homes of former Premier Nitti, Count Volpi, Deputy Nicola Bombacci, the Communist leader, and Arturo Labriola, the Socialist ex-Minister. Socialist literature and other pamphlets were confiscated. Signor Nitti is absent in Southern Italy.

A band of Ancona Fascisti, led by Cesare Rossi, broke into the home of Deputy Mingrino, commander of the Communist Red Guards, last night. The invaders seized all the documents they could find, sequestered forty hand grenades and threw the furniture into the street. Then they set fire to the furniture.

Eight Killed, Twenty-five Wounded

Clashes occurred in several parts of the city between groups of Fascisti and isolated bands of Communists. Early tonight the casualties were placed at eight killed and about twenty-five wounded. One fight, in which several shots were exchanged, took place near the Vatican. Some of the bullets went over the Vatican wall, but no damage was reported.

A communiqué issued by the Commander of the Roman Legion announces that by Premier Mussolini's instructions any action taken by the Fascisti, either collectively or individually, which is directed against Communists or persons presumed to be Communists will be repressed with the utmost severity and the responsible leaders prosecuted and punished in an exemplary manner.

Mussolini had sent a message to the British Prime Minister, Bonar Law, and the French Premier, M. Poincaré, announcing his accession to the Premiership as "the representative of Italian ideals born at Vittoria Veneto." The message conveys cordial greetings and assurances of solidarity among the allied nations, which, Mussolini says, "I regard as indispensable for the effectiveness of their political action."

Stands For Policy of Expansion

Whatever the outcome may be when the new Cabinet goes before the Chamber of Deputies, there is general agreement that the new Premier has gathered about him a Cabinet exceptionally strong from the Nationalist standpoint, comprising a body of men who were leaders of Italy in the great war and the outstanding protagonists for Italy's territorial claims in the peace.

Mussolini brings with his Ministry a well-defined foreign policy, the cornerstone of which is expansion. The Fascisti Party, ever since its inception a year ago, has preached the extension of Italy's territorial aims. When former Premier Giolitti ordered the evacuation of Albania by Italian troops the Fascisti sent up a cry of protest against the veteran statesman, burning him in effigy and hurling stinging epithets against him in hostile demonstrations.

The new Premier himself has declared that the Mediterranean is an Italian lake, and he advocates complete control of that waterway by Italy. The claim of Greece for the Dodecanese Islands was always bitterly contested in Fascisti councils.

Total repudiation of all Soviets has been a constant cry among Fascisti. When the Russian commercial mission arrived in Rome in 1921 their rooms were broken into and their baggage ransacked by Fascisti, who contended for no negotiations in any form with the Soviets.

Domestic Policy in Doubt

In their domestic policy the aims of the Fascisti have not been so clearly defined. Indeed, it has been constantly maintained by their opponents that they had no domestic policy. One thing, however, has stood preeminent in all their domestic actions, namely, their hostility to the Extreme Socialists and Communists.

They have defiantly fought the strike in any form. Wherever and whenever strikes have been declared they have strained every effort to keep industry going.

Communism has been rendered almost helpless in Italy by the onslaught of the Fascisti. The militant Nationalists have carried their battle into the labor temples and meeting places of their antagonists. They have seized the records and rosters and burned them, and on many occasions even set fire to the buildings. The Fascisti, however, have manifested strong friendship for the laborers, provided the latter became Nationalists and embraced the Fascisti principles.

Besides the strength which comes to the government with the appointment of General Diaz and Admiral Thaon di Revel to Cabinet positions there is an accompanying assurance of stability with the other appointments. Professor Einaudi, the Minister of the Treasury, is distinguished for being one of the foremost Italian economists. Signor Rossi, the Minister of Industry, is a manufacturer and has held Cabinet positions previously. He was one of the chief advisers to the Italian Government in the Genoa Conference.

D'Annunzio Aid in Cabinet

Another member who gives considerable weight to the new Cabinet is Deputy Giuriati. He was Gabriele d'Annunzio's Chief of Cabinet during the poet's occupation of Fiume, and previously distinguished himself during the World War. He has been a staunch supporter of Mussolini since the inauguration of the Fascisti Party.

While the Cabinet is composed of strong personalities, there is always the question of support in the Chamber. It remains for the Catholics to announce their program when the Chamber opens next week. If they are pleased with the selections and will give their support, it would seem that sufficient strength could be counted on from the various other constitutional parties to render the Ministry stable.

In taking the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and the Interior in addition to the Premiership Mussolini occupies the posts which mean most for the Fascisti sphere of action. By occupying the Foreign Office he can put forth the policy which has again and again been enunciated by his party—that of expansion. By being Minister of the Interior he controls the police force and will be able to manoeuvre the various public instruments for the maintenance of order in accordance with the program of his party.

Moderate Socialists Barred

It appears that the original plan attributed to Mussolini to have two Moderate Socialists in the Cabinet was strongly opposed by other Fascisti leaders, so that Gino Baldesi and Bruno Buozzi, two of the leading figures in the cooperative movement in Italy, were not included in the new government.

With Signor Mussolini, the new Ministry, according to the last classification, comprises five Fascisti, two Catholics, three Democrats, one Nationalist and one Liberal, with the addition of General Diaz and Vice Admiral Thaon di Revel, who, being Senators, and also belonging, respectively, to the army and the navy, are not assigned to any special party.

Commenting on the situation the Giornale di Roma says:

"Italy has now a Government of national concentration under a strong man who has shown he can keep wonderful control over himself and who possesses a sense of moderation, which is an essential quality in a statesman. The new Government has a prestige such as no former Government ever had."

The newspaper favorably mentions the manifesto of the Federation of Industry supporting the Fascisti Government and concludes with an exhortation to all Italians to return to work.

The Messaggero in its comment says:

"Fascism is an affirmation of life, and a revival, and foreigners must recognize this elementary truth if they wish to judge Italy rightly. We are glad to see such eminent men in the Cabinet and expect to witness the reorganization of all branches of national life."

November 25, 2016

1949. Preparations Amid the Yugoslav-Soviet Split

 The Volkspolizei Alleged to Be Training for Conflict with Yugoslavia
Portraits of Premier Joseph Stalin and Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito carried during a May Day demonstration in Belgrade, 1946 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Frankfurt

September 3, 1949

German military units may soon be fighting again in Europe. This is the opinion of reliable British and American intelligence officers, and confirmed today by a special report I have just received from an East German source.

The units are special cadres of the Communist-trained East German People's Police. I am informed that at a staff meeting held recently at Russian headquarters in Potsdam, Major General Hans Wulz, former Nazi officer and now chief of training for the new Soviet zone police, has ordered that these units be sent to participate in the Greek Civil War, ostensibly to gain experience in guerrilla fighting; but tactically to form part of a people's international army of Iron Curtain nationalities to be used, if so decided by Russia, in her current dispute with Yugoslavia.

Many of these units have "been sent to Czechoslovakia for special training in intelligence and espionage." My informant says the German units are composed of between 250 to 280 men, commanded by a major and disciplined by a police commissar.

But the question as to whether these German formations will be used for anything more than a war of nerves now underway in the Balkans still remains unanswered.

In Bonn, in the Western half of Germany, the men who are building the new Federal Republic also have the jitters. With only four days left before the opening of the new parliament, the entire city of Bonn is working frantically to get the new capitol building in shape for the big show.

Five hundred workmen are laboring around the clock trying to get an outside wall on the office wing of the capitol. In these closing hours, the whole thing appears like five hundred Marx brothers are engaged in the job. During one conference yesterday, the German official with whom I was talking was interrupted by four men who walked in with a telephone. One started drilling a hole in the floor, the other crawled under the desk. Without noticing them, the official continued his conversation.

In another office, however, a similar conversation was completely wrecked. I was interviewing the politician at a shout to be audible over the noise. We stopped talking when the point of a pneumatic drill punched through the wall.

The driller won the day. He was cutting a new door into the office.

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

November 22, 2016

1931. "Herr Hitler Replies to Some Fundamental Questions"

Hitler Talks to the New York Times Ahead of Upcoming Election
Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler emerges from the party's national headquarters at the Brown House in Munich, Germany on December 5, 1931 (source)
From The New York Times, December 20, 1931:

An Interview With the Nazi Leader in Which He Throws Light on His Policy in Some Foreign and Domestic Matters Not Explained Before and States the Main Points of His Program for Germany

The conflict between the government of Chancellor Bruening and the National Socialist party led by Adolf Hitler is moving toward a climax. Last Wednesday Hitler attacked the Chancellor in an open letter, accusing his government of pursuing a policy of illusion, and on the same day three organizations—the Social Democrats, the General Federation of Labor and the Reichsbanner—rallied to the support of the republic, pledging themselves to a continuing fight against Fascism. In the following interview Herr Hitler, in replies to some basic questions by a correspondent of The Times, states the aims of the Nazis and their policies on the great problems now before the Reich.


In his office in the Brown House—officially known as his Chancellory—from which he directs the rapidly advancing National Socialist forces whose challenge to the German Republic seems to grow more formidable with every day that passes, Adolf Hitler, the supreme chief of his highly organized and disciplined movement, recently answered some of the questions to which it has given rise in the minds of foreign observers.

Both sides are mobilizing their strength for the crisis they feel sure is approaching. Socialists and Nazis are in complete agreement at least on one point—that a showdown must come by Spring, if not sooner. All those with whom the present writer has spoken, whatever their personal political views, have recognized that the trend in Germany is definitely, perhaps irresistibly, to the right; that the strength of the Nazis, which has grown steadily for fifteen months, is still on the rise and might even suffice to force a decision even if there were no Presidential election next April and no Prussian legislative election next May.

On the day before Herr Hitler expressed himself in the interview that follows, Dr. Frick, the Nazi parliamentary leader, had declared the Nazis would not recognize any new foreign political obligations which the Bruening Government might assume; he urged the Centre party (Dr. Bruening's party) to sever its alliance with the Socialists and throw in its lot with the Nazis; "It is five minutes to 12," he said, "and the coming elections must bring the final decision."

Other Forecasts of Struggle

On the same day Herr Severing, the Socialist Minister of the Interior in Prussia, also spoke of the test of strength that he thought soon would come. "It has been possible to rally the police to the support of the republic," he said. "Now the army must be won over." Meanwhile, the Reichsbanner, the republican military organization, was issuing a manifesto calling upon "all republican forces" to rally for "the struggle against National Socialism which must be waged on a united front."

Since they startled the world by winning 6,400,000 votes in the national election of September, 1930 and became the second largest party in the Reichstag, the Nazis have gone from victory to victory. State elections that followed the national poll showed their votes steadily mounting; in Hesse in November they received more than twice the number of votes they polled last year. Their organization of "storm troops," workers, students and propaganda, extending to nearly every village in Germany, is a work of genius; their appeal to the disheartened millions of Germany is potent.

On the night before his conversation with Herr Hitler the present writer saw him in action before an audience that packed the Bürgerbräu Keller (the Munich beer hall where his frustrated uprising of 1923 began) and overflowed into a nearby hall. He spoke for more than an hour and a half. There were no extravagant flights of oratory and only two or three ventures into humor. It was a steady, hammering speech, sustained throughout on a single note, at a single level, with hardly a pause. Herr Hitler clenched his fists and spoke with the utmost vehemence for ninety minutes. It was an athletic feat which few orators could have performed.

Hitler During the Interview

Herr Hitler is a born orator. Even when answering questions in his office he instinctively assumed his platform manner. He quickly warmed up to his subject and spoke at a racing speed. He rose from his chair, walked about the room, sat upon a table, but was never quite at rest. He emphasized his assertions with nervous gestures, save when he occasionally became more guarded and checked his rapid flow of speech to make sure that his words were carefully noted.

"The National Socialist party considers reparations to be unjust," began the interviewer. "But how would you do away with them?"

"We regard them as not only unjust but unreasonable," said Herr Hitler with considerable vehemence. "The Entente demands that we pay from 2,000,000,000 to 2,500,000,000 marks annually as tribute. This can only be done if we export from 20,000,000,000 to 25,000,000,000 marks worth of goods every year. Since other nations build up high tariff walls to protect their own industries, it is extremely difficult to find markets to absorb such a huge volume of exports.

"Consequently, we rationalized and modernized our industries, went in intensively for mass production and borrowed heavily abroad for the purpose. That is, we took on huge loans at high interest rates and have to pay 1,500,000,000 marks yearly to foreigners in interest alone. The whole thing is insane. We could reduce our exports considerably if we were not obliged to pay this interest.

"Foreigners sometimes say we have lived luxuriously and spent money wastefully. They criticize us for building stadia and swimming pools. But how could we employ our people otherwise? These expenditures may not have been productive from the point of view of our creditors, but they were for us. We live in a time when the interest of bankers dominates, and industry goes to ruin.

"How will the reparations question be settled? We hope by the application of reason—by showing what the actual facts are. For instance, our need to export on such a huge scale makes us more formidable competitors to the other industrial nations and contributes to unemployment in England and America."

"What about the repayment of the foreign loans which have made it possible to pay reparations?" Herr Hitler was asked.

"If France insists that the political debt must have priority, then the issue becomes one of our ability to pay, not of our will to pay. This is a question the rest of the world will have to decide. If France presses for payment, the German economy will go to smash."

"You recognize the obligation to pay back these foreign loans?"

"We recognize it, yes. But it does not follow that it will be possible to pay them. This depends upon the economic situation and the policies of foreign countries."

"What would you do regarding the short-term loans which fall due in March, 1932, seeing that Germany still relies upon foreign capital whether she pays reparations or not?" the interviewer asked.

"There is nobody anywhere who thinks they can be paid in March," Herr Hitler replied. "The money is invested in business and trade. Foreigners lent us capital at interest rates that often were as high as 10 per cent and more. Only by intense production and export was it possible to bear this burden. The interests of finance and of industry were in conflict.

"We cannot and should not bring in more foreign capital, because we cannot pay the interest on what we have already borrowed. If the lenders insist upon having their funds back, we can only say that it is impossible to liquidate them now. If they were withdrawn, Germany would break down. One of the things for which we reproach the present government is that it, like all other governments, has hidden the facts and kept these truths from the people. If we were to pay both the political and the commercial debts, we should have to export from 60 to 80 billion marks' worth of goods a year because we cannot safely count upon more than 10 per cent profit."

French Pressure Criticized

The next question touched upon Franco-German relations. Herr Hitler was asked whether he favored a rapprochement with France and, if so, on what basis.

"Of course we want friendship with every country," he said. "We could not propose, for instance, that England give up her colonies, her shipping and her trade so that we might live in friendship with her. Germany needs a foundation for her national life. When France recognizes this, nobody will be more pleased than I. Until she does, no rapprochement is possible. Senator Borah realizes this when he says that the pressure France holds over Germany is the worst threat to peace."

Herr Hitler was asked what he thought of the Bruening-Laval attempt to work toward an economic rapprochement while leaving political differences aside.

"Economic rapprochement," he said, "cannot be separated from the general political situation."

"I have read in numerous National Socialist pamphlets," said the interviewer, "that the party would abolish the gold standard in favor of a currency based on goods. May one assume that this is your purpose?"

"The gold standard, as everybody knows, is based upon an almost universally accepted theory," Hitler replied. "However, everybody must realize that even the most widely accepted theory, if overstrained, is bound to collapse in practice. Germany today possesses only a negligible quantity of gold. Therefore it can hardly be expected that Germany should take the lead in this grave matter.

"As a matter of fact the country which is doing most to unbalance the world gold standard system is France. What France is doing today in the way of world gold hoarding is out of all proportion. It is a threat to world peace and happiness. But who is to check France, whose secret purpose in her gold hoarding is the re-establishment of the policy of Louis XIV of dominating Europe by political extortions gained through financial scheming. If the world doesn't intervene to establish a normal balance of political power, France will be able to say not 'I am the State,' as did Louis XIV, but 'I am Europe.'"
Hitler receives a flower bouquet from Rudolf Hess in Bad Harzburg during the founding of the Harzburg Front, an alliance of radical right-wing groups opposing the German government under Chancellor Heinrich Brüning, October 11, 1931 (Photo by Herbert Hoffmann)
Tactics of His Party

The conversation then turned to the National Socialist movement and its tactics. "I believe you have said," the interviewer observed, "that you intended to gain the power in Germany by means of the ballot and by no other means—that you would wait until you had a clear majority in the Reichstag before attempting to carry out your program. Is this true? And if you got that majority, would you retain parliamentary government or seek to change the Weimar Constitution so as to do away with parliamentary government?"

"The National Socialist movement will win the power in Germany by methods permitted by the present Constitution—in a purely legal way. It will then give to the German people the form of organization and government which suits our purposes and which will give us the power to conquer communism and the pest of Marxism. The present State, with its present constitution, is not in a position to do this."

"Would you join a coalition Cabinet, for instance, with the Centre [Dr. Bruening's party]?"

"The National Socialist movement will collaborate with the political forces in Germany which are willing to accept our platform, our policies, our purposes. The movement will not continue the present government's policies, since they are responsible not only for the weakening of Germany but to a great extent also for the disasters that have overcome other nations. Had it not been for the 'policy of fulfillment' in Germany, there would have been no world economic crisis such as we have today."

In speaking of the political groups with which his party could collaborate, Herr Hitler evidently referred to the German Nationalists and the Stahlhelm, whose members share many of the National Socialists' ideas and joined with them at Bad Harzburg in the great demonstration against the government. The three organizations form what is known as the Nationalist Opposition. In saying that the "policy of fulfillment" brought on the world economic crisis, he meant that it was the payment of reparations which disorganized the world's systems of money and credit.

"The military form which the National Socialist movement has taken," said the interviewer, "has given rise abroad to the impression that it is a militaristic movement and would not be averse to using force to gain the power in Germany and to change the frontiers. What could you say on that point?"

"The National Socialist movement," answered Herr Hitler, "is not a military but a political organization. It is characterized, however, by very strict discipline. The form and nature of a political organization are determined not only by the will of its members but also by its opponents. Germany has today more than 6,000,000 Communists and from six to seven million other varieties of international Socialists. These represent the advance guard in our own country of a formidable foreign power. Democratic theories and admonitions do not suffice to resist a force which is motivated not by belief in democracy but by bloody brutality. If America had 20,000,000 Communists and Social-Democratic Marxists, the American people would readily understand why the National Socialist movement inculcates in its members the highest discipline and a readiness for self-sacrifice."

"It is also assumed," continued the interviewer, "that you would like to revive the traditional type of discipline which Oswald Spengler identifies with Prussianism and which the old German Army and the system of universal military service exemplified."

"The abolition of universal military service in Germany seems to the rest of the world to have been a great achievement," remarked Herr Hitler. "But if it leads to the disruption of the German nation and to bolshevistic chaos, the world then will prefer German universal military service to a German Red army.

Monarchy Held Not an Issue

"Would not the abolition of the republic be a first step to the restoration of the monarchy, and does not your movement tend to strengthen monarchistic tendencies?"

"The National Socialist movement," replied Herr Hitler, "has nothing whatever to do with monarchism. The vital problem now facing the German nation is not whether a King of Prussia will again become German Kaiser but whether bolshevism will destroy the German people, their culture and their economic system."

Herr Hitler was asked whether anti-Semitism was a fundamental part of his party's platform.

"The attitude of the National Socialist movement to every inhabitant of this country," he said, "is determined by that inhabitant's attitude to Germany. More over, it was America, in spite of its enormous territory, that was the first country to teach us—by its immigration law—that a nation should not open its doors equally to all races. Let China be for the Chinese, America for the Americans and Germany for the Germans. We have a very small amount of territory for our 65,000,000 people, but at least—within our restricted area—we can be our own masters. Let me add that I should severely condemn every German who would take part in public affairs in Palestine or seek to influence them."

The Kaiser's Overthrow

Herr Hitler had often referred to the German revolution as "the crime of 1918," so the interviewer asked him what he would have done at that time.

"In the hour of greatest need of my people," he answered, "I should never have made a revolution. Even if I had thought my former government had been guilty, I should have covered up the fact instead of proclaiming it to the world. Only after the end of the war and the signature of the peace should I have made that government answer for its sins. I am convinced that no American would have behaved in any other way."

When asked what he thought about the prospects of reducing armaments, apropos of the world disarmament conference next February, Herr Hitler replied:

"We the National Socialists see a prospect of maintaining peace only if the menacing situation of one-sided disarmament disappears. There are just two possibilities: Either the armed nations will remove the disturbing and threatening pressure of their unreasonable and unjustified military superiority or else the disarmed nations will one day rearm. What we ask is the removal of this menace."

"Do you mean that if France had an army of 100,000 men, then Germany would be satisfied with her army of 100,000?" Herr Hitler was asked.

"Yes," he said. "What we want is equality. Moreover, because of her financial position Germany is more interested in disarmament than in further armament.

Revision of the Peace Treaty

Reference was made to a recent book ("Morgen wieder Krieg," by Dr. Bauer) in which Germany's insistence upon revision of the Versailles Treaty was rated as one of the disturbing factors in Europe, and Herr Hitler was asked to comment upon this contention.

"We oppose the treaty as a form of continuous throttling, oppression and extortion—morally, politically and economically. It was not a peace treaty but a settlement dictated by hatred ["Hassdiktat" was the word Herr Hitler used], which cuts the world sharply into two groups of peoples, victors and vanquished. We shall not allow ourselves to be kept eternally in the position of a second-class nation, mistreated by France."

"But if you demand that the treaty be revised, you cannot logically expect the French to disarm, since they contend that their army is needed precisely to prevent treaty revision and the changing of frontiers."

"In 1871," replied Herr Hitler, "the French opposed the Treaty of Frankfurt just as we oppose the Treaty of Versailles today, but Germany made no effort on that account to limit France's rearmament."

Herr Hitler was then asked about his party's demands that Germany withdraw from the League of Nations.

"We do not regard the League as any sort of guarantee of peace," he said. "If it were such a guarantee, why should France require her enormous military force? Moreover, I am not aware that the League's intervention in the conflict between Japan and China has kept the peace. We do not want to be either Japanese or Chinese."

November 21, 2016

1955. Ben-Gurion on Egypt and the Potential for War

Spectre of War
"David Ben-Gurion with IDF Commander Yosef Nevo and Mayor of Jerusalem Mordechai Ish-Shalom at an army post at the Jerusalem border, 1962" (Photo by David Harris - source)
This report below has been adapted from telegram style.
Bill Downs

CBS Jerusalem

November 1955

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion told CBS News today that there are two reasons behind the Egyptian-Communist arms deal: Firstly Russia's traditional urge, dating from Czarist times, to penetrate into the Mediterranean and Middle East, and secondly the Soviet policy to establish pro-Communist a force in the Eastern Mediterranean in opposition to the West's Northern Tier.

Speaking in his map-decorated office, Ben-Gurion decried talk of "preventative war" and declared: "Preventative war is war unprevented, and it differs in no way from any other war. We prefer a preventative peace."

Ben-Gurion recalled his inaugural speech in Israel's parliament last week, where he declared that Israel never initiated war and said: "We never will, but neither shall we tolerate any warlike acts against us, by whatever name they may be called."

However, the Prime Minister declared: "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: Firstly, by preventing the flow of arms to Egypt and other countries, or secondly, by supplying arms to Israel."

When questioned about Egyptian claims about Israel's military superiority, Ben-Gurion denied that there is any "breathing space" left for his nation: "Israel's superiority in the War of Independence and to this day lies only and exclusively in the moral superiority of her people." He declared that, even up until now, Israel has never had superiority in armaments, and even less in manpower, and said that: "Not only 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."

Asked if Israel would apply to Communist sources for arms if she feels the West is letting her down, Ben-Gurion said: "Our country is fighting for her very existence and has the 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 other democratic countries."

Commenting on Egyptian statements that recent Israeli border attacks prove the insincerity of Ben-Gurion's offer of peace talks, the Prime Minister declared that: "There has never been an Israeli attack against Egypt, and I can give my assurance that there never will be one in the future."

In referring to last Wednesday's battalion-sized action at Nitzana, Ben-Gurion said: "The Egyptians recently invaded our territory at Nitzana in violation of the armistice agreement 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."

November 18, 2016

1932. "The Nazi Mind: A Study in Nationalism"

"The Nazi Mind: A Study in Nationalism" by Harold Callender
Nazi party members with Adolf Hitler in Munich, Bavaria at the inauguration of the party's national headquarters at the "Brown House" in December 1930 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise of fascism in Europe in the years leading up to World War II.

From The New York Times, January 3, 1932:

What Is Happening in Germany Is but the Exaggeration Of a Political Phenomenon Common to All Countries
Berlin – In the short space of less than two years a new and turbulent force—organized revolutionary nationalism—has swept over Germany from the Rhine to the Vistula and completely altered (at least for the moment) the face of German politics.

Only eighteen months ago the Reichstag, split into a score of party groups, was carrying on national affairs in the fumbling, bickering, ineffectual manner which democracies put up with in normal times but quickly dispense with in emergencies. Dr. Bruening decided an emergency had arrived and forced an election. Then there suddenly appeared upon the Chancellor's right a formidable group of Nazis, waving their mystic swastika and shouting for revolution, and everything was changed. To check them the Bruening Government, backed by President von Hindenburg and the Socialists, stiffened into something very like a dictatorship. But the Nazis kept advancing and are still doing so.

•      •      •

The Nazis are the perhaps inevitable result of two dominant factors in the German situation which the outside world—much surprised by the unexpected emergence of Hitler—has not yet fully appreciated.

One of these factors is wounded national pride, the painful sense of Germany's having been tried, condemned without a hearing, fined, dismembered and reduced to the dishonorable status of an outcast who must live perpetually under the suspicious eye of a well-armed policeman lest he run amuck and endanger his neighbors' lives and possessions. This is the way most Germans, moderates as well as extreme nationalists, interpret the history of the last thirteen years; it is also the way the French interpret it, except that they regard the sentence and the surveillance as being justified.

The other disturbing factor is the economic pinch under which Germany has labored, particularly during the last two years. It is easy to demonstrate that this is not entirely attributable to reparations; indeed, some of the most ardent nationalists, in their eagerness to incriminate the Socialists, say privately that reparations have been of secondary importance and that government extravagance and graft have been a far greater evil—and here, too, they are in full agreement with the French.

But reparations have played their part and consequently it is impossible to dissociate this second factor from the first. In the German mind the two are inextricably mingled and the conviction prevails that reparations are the principal if not the sole source of Germany's troubles. Hence the dispossessed of the middle class, impoverished by the inflation and deprived of jobs by the industrial let-down, and farmers unable to pay interest on their mortgages, flock to the Pied Piper of revolutionary nationalism, who has suddenly become the militant leader of a new kind of proletariat which is desperate and rebellious but not ready—at least not yet—to throw in its lot with the working class proletariat of the extreme Left.

A few far-sighted economists, notable J. M. Keynes (in his book, "The Economic Consequences of Peace") predicted as early as 1919 the economic and social havoc that was to come—in consequence, as they contended, of the system imposed upon Europe at Versailles. Similarly, any one with a sense of national psychology might have foreseen, not precisely brown-shirted and swastika-waving Nazis but a vigorous resurgence of nationalism in Germany such as has taken place. If you subject a great nation to such conditions as were imposed upon Germany—however justified you may be in doing so—you may reasonably expect it to react in some such way as Germany has done.

•      •      •

In the first decade of the nineteenth century, when Germany had been conquered and dismembered by Napoleon, a philosopher like Goethe could take it with calm stoicism, but among the youth of Germany there burned a bitter resentment and resolve to free and unite their country. The universities seethed with nationalism just as they do today. German political unity was long in coming, but a new empire arose in 1871 and had to be reckoned with in 1914-1918. Now that this empire has been laid low, a new impetus to German nationalism has been supplied by the territorial losses, the military prohibitions and the economic burdens which the republic that succeeded it has had to bear.

Thus the injury to German national pride caused by the peace treaty, and the impoverishment and demoralization of the German middle class caused by the social crisis to which the machine age (which created that class) has brought us, have combined to produce the phenomenon called National-Socialist. The first part of its name reflects an angry nationalism borne of a decade of brooding over defeat; the second part—so far as it is more than a name—reflects the vague grudges of the new middle class proletariat against those to whom rent and interest have to be paid, against industrial magnates who have managed to remain rich or to become rich during the hard years since the war, against trusts and big cities and Jew and mass production and banks. In the Nazi movement are united the nationalistic ardor of a humiliated people and the revolt of a dispossessed class. Hence its powerful appeal to millions of voters; hence, too, its lack of a precise program and its lack of inner unity.

In the medley of resentment, prejudice and idealism that go to make up the Nazi movement are mingled something of the old German dream of racial and national unity which has never been realized (not even in the empire that Bismarck built); a wistful longing for social stability and economic justice; a revulsion against the industrial civilization which has revolutionized German life and which seems to many Germans to have resulted in chaining their country to Western finance as though she were a sort of financial colony of the creditor powers. Territorial grievances, nationalization of trusts, denunciation of the "serfdom of interest," anti-Semitism—all crop up repeatedly, with varying emphasis, in the pamphlets and manifestoes of the party and in the speeches of its leaders, which represents a chorus of half-formulated discontent rather than a program of action.

The movement and the feelings that have generated it are not nearly so strange and exotic as the foreign observer might at first be inclined to assume. Nationalism is not a German invention; its appearance in Germany in this singular form is due to the country's special situation. No nation is immune to nationalistic excesses; indeed, in the field of economics they are epidemic just now. Hence as one recovers from the initial impression of their oddity, one realizes that the Nazi ideas are not by any means indigenous to the Bavarian Highlands or the Eastern Marches.

•      •      •

Consider first of all the question of race. Since several million people who speak German and are more or less "Nordic" in race have lately been cut off from the Reich and annexed to nations ruled by Poles, Czechs and French (the Nazis do not mention the case of the South Tyrolean Germans annexed by Italy because the Fascists across the Alps are the Nazis' political models), it is an opportune moment to hold up ideals of racial unity. Numerous German organizations, commercial and scholastic as well as political, are "gross-deutsch" in scope—that is, they include Austria, Danzig and the German parts of Czechoslovakia. The Reich is commonly regarded as the centre of a greater Germany which is already united with it culturally and one day must be united politically.

This is, of course, the Nazis' view. But they go much further. They emphasize and propagate the contention of certain anthropologists that the "Nordic" race—"the race of our Germanic ancestors" is responsible for most of the creative talent that has appeared in Europe and the New World, and even in ancient India, Greece and Persia. So it is one of the many missions of the Nazis to keep the race as "Nordic" as possible by preventing the contamination (or rather the further contamination) of its superior blood. To this end they would expel all non-Germans who have settled in Germany since 1914 and admit none in future (though one might have expected them to welcome "Nordics" whether German or not).

Moreover, they would allow only persons "of German blood" to become citizens. They do not say how much "German blood" (or do they mean "Nordic" blood?) would be regarded as a minimum, or how these racial qualifications would be determined. What would happen, for instance, to the millions of Germans between the Polish border and Hamburg who are as much Slavic as German? Or to the millions in Bavaria and Central Germany who are not "Nordic" at all but belong to the race that the anthropologists classify as Alpine? On one point at least the Nazi platform is quite clear: no Jew could be admitted to the "Nordic" fellowship, hence no Jew could be a German citizen under the "Third Reich."

In one Nazi pamphlet one finds the republic indicted for not championing the "Nordics." "It is to the interest of the present holders of power," one reads, "to oppress and weed out the Nordic man. All the measures against the National-Socialist party and its leaders are to be considered from this racial standpoint."

If all this seems a bit fanciful, it is not at any rate original with the Nazis. In the Nazi library is a book written by an American ("The Great Passing of the Great Race" by Madison Grant) which sets forth precisely this contention about the "Nordic" race, the contention that those who have blond hair, blue eyes, fair skins and long heads belong to an inherently superior breed. This idea—in conjunction with economic considerations—was advanced in support of our present immigration law, which favors the more or less Nordic peoples of the north of Europe at the expense of the non-Nordics of the south and east. "It was America," said Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, to the present writer recently, "that taught us that a nation should not open its doors equally to all nations."
The New York Times, January 3, 1932, p. 21
In the field of economics the Nazi creed is much less precise; but here, too, it is merely an extreme and German version of ideas and impulses that are well-nigh universal just now. Nazi speakers, notably their economic expert, Dr. Wagner, talk vaguely of virtually severing commercial relations with the Western World. This sounds somewhat drastic, but it is a point of view which should not be at all puzzling to Senator Reed Smoot or Winston Churchill or Lord Beaverbrook.

Has not America imposed increasingly severe tariff penalties upon foreigners who want to trade with us and upon our own citizens who want to buy foreign goods? What do the British protectionists demand but that England should stop importing from foreign lands to the extent that she can supply her needs from the empire? Is not Central Europe a maze of formidable tariff barriers which choke international trade and prevent European recovery? Economic nationalism is the mania of the hour and nearly every nation is intently engaged in the restriction of trade.

But, because of Germany's unique position as a debtor nation, this economic nationalism has taken on in Germany a special form and intensity. In academic and business circles a lively debate goes on over the question, "Autarkie oder Weltwirtschaft?"—which may be translated, "Self-sufficiency or world economy?" Most business men apparently regard it as impossible for Germany to dispense with much of her world trade, but the more daring (and more youthful) spirits among the nationalists have been captivated by the idea of a great adventure—a great gamble—in economic independence. Is not Russia trying it and getting away with it? they ask. Russia, to be sure, is not a great industrial nation like Germany, which can feed only about two-thirds of its people from its own soil; but might not Germany, in close conjunction with Russia and the other agricultural States to the east and south, work out an economic system which would enable her to thumb her nose at her creditors in the West, as Russia did?

Why does Germany export in such immense quantities? Because she must pay reparations, debts and interest. About half her export balance goes to satisfy her political and private creditors. To put it another way—the way the Nationalists prefer to put it—the only thing that really forces her to pay her creditors is the circumstance that she is enmeshed in the economic system of the Western World. If she could withdraw from that system and become independent of it, she would be in a position to say to her former enemies: "Come on with your fleets and armies and try to collect if you like; we are going to pay no more."

This imagined declaration of economic independence is couched in just these terms by Ferdinand Fried, one of the leading apostles of economic nationalism, in his book, "Das Ende des Kapitalismus." Many doubt that such a course is possible, or that Germany would gain more than she would lose if it were possible, but they often agree that it would be fine if it were. There is already a considerable literature on the subject, notably in the monthly issues and special supplements of the magazine, Die Tat.

While repudiating reparations, Hitler says he would favor recognizing Germany's private debts; but the ideas of Die Tat represent broadly the extreme economic nationalism to which the Nazis incline. When Nazi speakers talk of Germany's withdrawing unto herself and leading a sort of cloistered economic life so far as the Western World is concerned, they simply express in political platform terms what the editors of Die Tat have more fully and more lucidly formulated.

•       •       •

Such a conception of Germany's future presupposes a revolution in her economic policy, a subordination of private interests and rights to the State and the creation of a sort of half-socialist, half-capitalist system. It is based upon the belief that Western capitalism is doomed and that Germany might as well pull out while the going is good. Hence these neo-Marxists advocate collaboration with Russia, State control of industry and foreign trade (which already exists to a great extent) and nationalization of trusts and monopolies. They would leave the smaller industries in private hands but under such State supervision as would make possible nationally planned production in cooperation with the agricultural States to the east. They have abandoned all hope of reducing world tariffs through conferences in Geneva and regard internationalism and economic liberalism as illusions to be gotten rid of.

The Nationalist-Socialist movement is national enough, but how far is it socialistic? This is a question that the present writer has put to numerous persons inside and outside the Nazi organization. The answer is that few Nazis, even among the leaders, have thought the subject through; but the party's program calls for nationalization of trusts, municipalization of department stores (to be let to small shopkeepers), abolition of ground rents, unearned income and the "slavery of interest payments"; and those leaders who discuss economic reforms in any definite way express ideas which closely resemble, when they are not identical with, those sketched above.

Possible the Nazis who are more nationalist than socialistic, or those who are not socialistic at all, may make short shrift of these socialistic notions if the party ever comes into power; it probably would depend upon economic circumstances as to which group got the upper hand. For there are anti-capitalistic and pro-capitalistic streams in the Nazi movement, and its leaders may be obliged one day to decide—at the risk of a party split—whether that dream State they call "the Third Reich" is really going to be socialistic or not.

•       •       •

Nazi intolerance, as manifested in campaigns against university professors who disagree with them, is no more peculiar to the German Nazis than their racial creed or their economic nationalism. Those who study American history will find that once, when we were at war with Germany, several American States were so patriotic as to outlaw the teaching of the German language and that many a professor lost his job because of his unorthodox political opinions.

The French are much concerned about the Nazi movement, which strikes them as a queer Teutonic thing. But they should find it fairly comprehensible if they would only regard it as the German equivalent of their own Nationalist-Royalist band which lately distinguished itself by howling down speakers at the disarmament meeting in the Trocadero Palace in Paris.

Léon Daudet and Charles Maurras are intellectuals and men of letters, hence there can be no comparison as to the literary quality between their paper L'Action Française and Hitler's Völkischer Beobachter; but the temper of the two movements is strikingly similar. If a German Nazi met a French Camelot du Roi each ought to recognize the other as his spiritual brother. Both movements are bitterly anti-democratic, anti-republican and extremely nationalist, the main difference being simply one of geography. And in England Lord Rothermere, for instance, has shown marked sympathy for the Nazis because they promise to keep bolshevism away.

When one visits the new European frontiers which remain dangerous "sore spots" because of national suspicions, when one observes that national economic barriers that shackle trade or studies of racial theories that emphasize differences and nurture antagonisms, one is forced to realize that the Nazi mentality is not a matter of nationality—that nationalism, so to speak, is an international phenomenon.

November 17, 2016

1949. Celebration as the Berlin Blockade is Lifted

The Blockade is Lifted
Bill Downs in Germany in 1947 interviewing a German veteran as part of CBS' "We Went Back" series
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 11, 1949

In just ten hours from now the great Berlin Derby will be on. The blockade will be lifted and a hundred or so radio press correspondents and photographers will dash to the German capital to do exactly the same thing that we in the city have been doing all along—report the news and take pictures.

A five car train of American correspondents are now en route to the Helmstedt crossing point where they will hitch onto a British train, scheduled to be the first into Berlin, at about six o'clock in the morning.

The little village of Helmstedt already looks like a gold rush town. Scores of reporters are jammed into its two hotels and have taken rooms in private homes. The streets are jammed with cars from all over the world.

At the autobahn checkpoint the guard houses have been freshly painted and decorated with flowers. Batteries of press telephones have been installed just ten yards from the crossing point. A broadcasting line has been installed. And come the magic hour of midnight tonight, the race will be on—foreign correspondents dashing a hundred miles through the Soviet zone down the wide autobahn that Hitler built to give rapid transit to his troops.

We hope to flag in CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood about four o'clock in the morning after he makes a special broadcast for Ed Murrow's news show.

British traffic authorities fear that there may be accidents on the road in and propose to lead the correspondents in convoy, but no one expects the convoys to stick—not with the fast American cars.

CBS correspondent Betty O'Regan will be aboard the first train into the city. I'll be covering the lifting of the blockade from here in Berlin. If everything works, we hope to give you the best coverage of the story possible.

In Berlin, Communist police are removing the street barriers between East and West. But for this city, the best news today is that, effective tonight, the electricity will go off ration. Candlelight may be romantic in restaurants, but when you have to live by it, it is just a plain nuisance.

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

CBS Berlin

May 12, 1949

I have an idea that for years to come the German people are going to be talking about "the day the Americans went crazy when the Berlin blockade was lifted."

There's something a little unreal about the whole thing, kind of like a James Thurber fantasy. CBS correspondent Charles Collingwood tells me of how the Germans in the little town of Helmstedt yesterday and last night stood on the street corners, their mouths open with astonishment, as reporters dashed for telephones; as photographers took pictures of everything in sight; and as radio correspondents fought for microphones.

Mobile units from the Army Signal Corps would appear out of nowhere—a maze of wires would be laid—then after a while the whole thing would disappear.

There should be some interesting letters home to Russia, also, from the Soviet G.I.s who were on duty the night the blockade was lifted. They will tell about the lines of American reporters, the fanatical gleam of hope in their eyes, crouched over the wheels of their automobiles speeding down the autobahn towards Berlin, as if chased by the ghost of Horace Greeley. The Blockade Derby—the reporters' race to be first into this city—was won, incidentally, by Walt Rundel of the United Press.

At the Russian checkpoint we found a half dozen spruced up Soviet soldiers, and another half dozen really dressed up Russian officers.

Everything was very proper and very correct. The red and white drawbar across the autobahn was raised in the air. The moon turned the Russian flag over the guard post a dark maroon.

I approached the group of officers and explained that I wanted them to make a recording for CBS. Something about how they felt about the lifting of the blockade and its possible effect on the peace of the world.

A stocky little individual on the outskirts of the group interrupted. There was some rapid palaver in Russian, and the officer interpreter explained that they could not discuss these political questions. I asked him if the lifting of the blockade was good or bad—he finally said "good."

Most of the American colony in Berlin stayed up most of the night last night. Scores of military and civilian personnel drove with their wives out to the Babelsberg checkpoint to see the barriers lifted, and throughout the night couples appeared to cheer on the correspondents racing in their automobiles. Many of the women came in long dresses from the blockade lifting parties staged throughout the British, American, and French sectors.

Most of the crowd at the Berlin checkpoint were newsmen and photographers taking pictures of each other. It was all very confusing—and somehow a little forced. There was no ceremony, only a little cheer as the cars moved.

The people who had the most fun at the lifting of the blockade on the outskirts of Berlin were a group of Germans who brought along several bottles of Schnapps.

They interrupted their drinking long enough to sing a song—a sad song popular during the last war. One of the lines goes, "And all things pass every December, and then there is May." Only the Germans were singing, "And all things pass every blockade, and then there is May."

Whether the cynicism of the Berliners is justified only time will tell. However, the news coverage is certainly building this event to immense proportions.

The best assessment of this event was told to me last night by a young mother here, who explained to her eight-year-old son that she was going out to watch them lift the blockade.

The little boy, who had had the whole situation explained to him in the American school in Berlin, thought the goings-on a little bit foolish. "They are not going to really lift anything, mother," he said. "All it means is that the soldiers will let them go through."

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

November 16, 2016

1949. The Harnack House Club

Americans in Berlin
The Harnack House around 1930 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 5, 1949

The most fashionable American club in Berlin is the Harnack House, a rambling stucco structure with its own recreation rooms, dining rooms, theater, and bar. Membership of the Harnack House club is restricted to Army officers and civilians. But since its establishment, the enlisted man—the G.I.—has been permitted to visit the club as the guest of any officer or civilian who invites him.

However, today a situation has developed that may turn into something more than a tempest in the Harnack House teapot, because last night a group—mostly of Army officers—succeeded in passing a ruling which henceforth will bar any of the Berlin enlisted men from entering the club, guests or not.

The vote came after a long and bitter debate, with most civilians insisting that it was their right as members to invite who they wanted into the club. But the officer clique won—the vote was 135 to 106.

As one colonel put it: "I have no objection to ninety percent of the enlisted men, but there are ten percent who don't know how to behave. They should not be allowed among officers and ladies."

The joker is that German nationals—which in this case means Berlin "fräuleins" for the most part—are not, like the G.I., barred as guests of the club.

One officer opposing the ban remarked: "This should have an interesting effect on the reenlistment campaign in Germany." While a civilian declared bitterly: "And they expect us to teach democracy to the Germans."

Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh left Air Force headquarters in Wiesbaden for an inspection trip of American air bases in southern Germany.

Lindbergh is inspecting operational procedures as an adviser to the Air Chief of Staff in Washington.

An underground anti-Communist resistance group against is reported for the first time in the East sector of Berlin. Pamphlets signed "The German Legion" were distributed at an elevated station in the Soviet sector the other day. The pamphlets demanded "destruction of the red disgrace."

Otherwise Berlin has been fairly quiet.

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

November 10, 2016

1959. "Radio News Has Matured Since World War II" by William J. Small

The Reign of News Radio
"CBS News correspondents gather in New York for one of the noted 'Years of Crisis' programs seen over CBS television and heard over CBS radio. At top left is John F. Day, who produced the program. At head of the table is Edward R. Murrow" (Quill, November 1959, p. 51)

From Quill magazine, November 1959, pp. 49-52:

Radio News Has Matured Since World War II

In the beginning there was a newscast—and that's how radio began.

Actually the first newscast preceded radio as we know it by some nine weeks when experimental station 8MK, operated by the Detroit News, broadcast Michigan's primary election results on August 31, 1920. The first regular commercial radio station—KDKA, Pittsburgh—went on the air November 2, 1920, with one Leo Rosenberg reading the Cox-Harding election results. They say reception was fine up to seventy-five miles away.

While only a handful of "hams" heard that broadcast, four years later the election victory of Calvin Coolidge was heard by an estimated ten million radio listeners. Even recalcitrant Coolidge must have been impressed. He might be even more impressed, were he alive today, to find that those few words he uttered with such infrequency might be quoted on newscasts over 3,600 radio stations in business today.

Despite its getting off on a good news foot, radio neglected daily news coverage for the next decade or so. It did, however, concentrate on that field in which it to this day performs superbly: the special event. From the abdication speech of Edward VIII to political convention coverage to the 1937 Ohio Valley flood, it was on the scene with the excitement of the voices of those in the news.

My concern here is less with these special items than with regular news coverage, though I cannot resist repeating the famed moment in 1937 as American radio prepared to cover the coronation of King George VI, an elaborate coverage that called for fifty-eight microphones, thirty-two of them in Westminster Abbey alone. Still, the Columbia Broadcasting System asked the British Broadcasting Corporation to help set up more originating points, namely in a moving car along the two-mile parade route that had only a few observation points.

When the BBC refused the roving mike, the Americans pressed the point, asking, "What if some crackpot should take a shot at the King?" Replied a staid British broadcaster, "In that unfortunate event, we would consider it a matter for Scotland Yard, not the BBC."

Returning to early radio and broadcast news, we might note that in the early thirties, newspaper owners felt it unfortunate that radio had come about, considering news a matter for print and not the microphone. As radio began to attract advertisers, newspapers began to look uncomfortably at this upstart medium which transmitted top events so rapidly that it threatened the cherished on-the-street "extra."

A number of individual newspapers tried to curtail airwave competition by applying pressures to the news services. As early as 1922, the Associated Press warned its members that broadcasting its news was contrary to AP by-laws.

For the 1932 elections, CBS contracted with the United Press to get election results for some $1,000. Just before the eventful day, UP pulled out, noting that UP's income was derived almost entirely from newspapers and the temper of publishers was such that if UP sold service to CBS, it would lose thousands of dollars. Fortunately for radio, AP didn't know about this. Fearing a loss to its competitor should AP credits fail to get on the air, that wire service offered its election bulletins to both CBS and NBC for nothing. As it turned out, UP and International News Service somehow became equally available for much the same reason.

Publishers protested loud and strong. In April of 1933, the AP Board of Directors withdrew all service to radio networks. That same year, UP and INS suspended service to radio under strong persuasion from the Radio Committee of the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

Then a remarkable thing happened, due to two remarkable men. NBC news chief A. A. Schecter and his CBS counterpart, Paul W. White, brashly decided to go into competition with the giants of the wire services.

Paul White, a former UP editor who became one of the greatest figures of news by radio, began to gather his own news staff in 1933 when the advertising manager of General Mills offered to pay half the cost if CBS could manage to keep it under $3,000 a week. The Columbia News Service came into being in September of 1933. It took less than a month to get underway with White setting up bureaus in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles. The managers of these bureaus, in turn, lined up correspondents in virtually every city over 20,000 population by the simple expediency of paying them higher space rates than newspapers did. For overseas coverage White bought Exchange Telegraph, a British news agency, and for financial news, a subscription to the Dow Jones ticker which, on the side, moved quite a bit of Washington news.

Over at NBC, Schecter set up what he called his Scissors-and-Paste-Pot Press Association. He'd clip news leads from newspapers and then would make rich the AT&T, RCA, Western Union, Postal Telegraph and Mackay Radio by calling or wiring news sources for details. It produced a remarkable number of scoops and added dimension to many a story.

In later years, Schecter told how he once clipped a British newspaper and had Lowell Thomas broadcast a story about a monkey that carried a bag containing 10,000 rupees into the Indian jungle. The story was days, perhaps months, old but the Lowell Thomas report created such a stir that two days later the monkey story was carried by an American press association.

Newspapers responded to White's new service by dropping CBS listings from their daily radio log. But by the end of 1933, the networks, the newspapers and the wire services were ready to talk things over. They met in the Hotel Biltmore in New York and signed the ten-point "Biltmore agreement."

For publishers, it appeared to be a smashing victory. It set up a special news bureau called the Press Radio Bureau which was wholly supported by the networks and was to provide material for two unsponsored five-minute newscasts, one after 9:30 a.m. and the other after 9:00 p.m. each day. In addition, special bulletins involving news of "transcendental importance" could be broadcast if followed by the statement, "See your local newspaper for further details." Of the Biltmore settlement, White later wrote, "Radio had given up income, some integrity and a glorious opportunity."

But the battle wasn't the war. Radio networks soon decided that Winchell, Thomas, Boake Carter and Kaltenborn were not news reporters but "commentators." As such, they could be sponsored.

Meanwhile, a number of radio stations sought news service and began to find it. The Yankee Network service came out of WNAC, Boston. Some radio men have noted that Boston newspapers made no threats to remove program listings of WNAC. The station was operated by John Shepard, owner of a department store that bought considerable advertising in Boston newspapers.

At the same time, a former Columbia News Service rewrite man, Herbert Moore, started Transradio Press which sold directly to radio for sponsorship. By May of 1935, UP and INS—neither enthusiastic supporters of the Biltmore pact—began selling to radio. AP held out for a while but by 1940 was permitting sponsorship of its news on radio.

Radio, freed of the problem of news services, found itself tied down in another area in which newspapers had complete freedom. In 1941, in the famous Mayflower case involving WAAB, Boston, owned by the Mayflower Broadcasting Corporation, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that a licensee cannot use radio to advocate preferred causes. Interestingly enough, the position that radio should not editorialize had majority industry support. However, within five years broadcasters changed their stand and began attacking the Mayflower decision. In 1949, the FCC ruled that a licensee could express his opinions, providing that editorials were fair and not one-sided.

Today, ten years later, radio hears much talk of editorializing and hundreds of stations claim they do it. This writer remains skeptical, noting that the number who editorialize on anything other than the evils of sin and the glories of motherhood, the horrors of traffic accidents and the wonders of "the American way" is still a small percentage of those on the air.
"CBS News correspondents broadcast a radio news program. From the left: Howard K. Smith, then European News Chief; Edward R. Murrow; Rome Bureau Chief, Winston Burdett, and John Secondari (Quill, November 1959, p. 52)
It is impossible in so short a space to list the many wonders of radio news coverage. One might recall such thrilling moments as Kaltenborn in 1936 giving an eye-witness account of a pitched battle in the Spanish Civil War from a haystack, Max Jordan from Munich as a world catches fire, William L. Shirer from Prague as the flames spread, Edward R. Murrow bringing the Battle of Britain to homes in Iowa and Idaho, George Hicks with his eye-witness description of D-Day as planes strafed the ship he broadcast from, or James Bowen's thrilling account of the scuttling of Graf Spee.

Radio news had its finest hour in World War II and has been traveling along at a merry clip ever since. Networks today have larger news staffs than the biggest of newspapers. Small stations have aggressive, professional newsmen, the match of most any reporter in town. The accomplishments of radio news have earned, sometimes grudgingly, the respect of journalists everywhere. This is not to say that all radio news is professional, but where it is done well it can be superb.

Radio has the advantages of speed and intimacy. It is speed that no other can match. When Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war in 1917, some remote regions of the nation got the news weeks later. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a similar request in 1941, radio listeners everywhere heard his voice sooner than some Congressmen in the back of the hall in which he spoke.

With speed, radio has the intimacy of the voices of those making news or those on the scene reporting it. Hundreds of instances pop up daily but to take a more recent example, how can mere print match the snarling exchange between Senator McClellan and Teamster Hoffa?

On the other hand, radio is strangled by time limitations, though less than television, which devotes less time to news and more of news time to the minute-snatching monster called film. Only a good newspaper can give the full detail and the full background day after day. As more and more newspaper editors and publishers recognize that broadcast news actually whets the appetite of their readers for more detail, they abandon the bitterness of the press-radio war of the thirties.

Radio newsmen have a first rate professional organization in the Radio-Television News Directors Association. One can foresee the day that it will match the national newspaper associations in prestige.

The most serious threat to radio today is that infection called "modern radio" or "rock-n-roll radio." These stations, unfortunately increasing in number as imitators keep appearing, fill the airwaves with screaming sirens. They offer a hopped-up "news" format that runs the gamut from rape to ravage. In the long run—as with the "yellow journalism" of the printed page—this, too, shall pass, leaving behind a few stalwart practitioners.

The whistle-blowing school of radio news was made possible by the impact of television on radio programming, with the juke-box replacing drama, public affairs, decent news coverage and special events. The good stations remain, however, and will regain stage center when the raucous sounds wear thin. The good stations are turning more and more to news and public affairs to fill the void left as comedy and drama switch to television, leaving disc jockeys behind them.

There are encouraging signs of more local and network news activity in radio. Longer radio news programs, news commentary, increasing editorial activity and discussion programs will become the core of important stations in every city, just as they already are in many cities.

Radio offers tremendous service to the national defense as the one medium that can still move news faster and to more places (including moving vehicles, darkened bedrooms, work and play areas) than any other means of man-made communication. In times of emergency, people will turn to their radios first as they always have since the home set first broadcast the sputterings of Adolph Hitler and revealed the need for an informed public to get its information fast.

One can foresee the day when Washington will erase its prejudice of many years standing and permit radio coverage of House hearings as well as the Senate (over Sam Rayburn's final protest) or, even beyond that, full broadcast coverage of Congress in its hallowed halls. For those on Capitol Hill who protest that permitting cameras and microphones there would encourage the filibuster for the home folk, we might note that in New Zealand broadcasts of parliamentary bodies resulted in the electorate defeating long-winded legislators at the very next trip to the ballot box. For those who protest the possible "disruptive" influence of radio and television, one can point to technical advances that permit such coverage in a manner that rivals the silence and skill of Rudolph Valentino stealing into a desert tent.

These same arguments, of course, apply to the courtroom. The day is fast approaching when the judiciary will recognize the good taste and silent posture which broadcast journalists display today. Like today's less colorful but more professional newspaper photographer, they are a far cry from the flash powder cameraman who made a mockery of the Lindbergh kidnap trial and brought about Canon 35.

As for other areas of restriction on broadcasting, as this is written Congress has taken first steps toward removing the odious restrictions of Section 315 of the FCC code, the equal time for political candidates provision. Here, too, respect for the professional abilities of broadcast journalism brings freedom from restrictions originally meant to prevent irresponsibility.

The future of radio news is increasingly bright in many places despite the medicine men popping up in others. A public can be fooled part of the time, but when it sees through quackery, it turns to responsible radio news. In turn, this kind of news is the basis for good radio generally.

In the beginning there was a newscast. In the end, there will be more newscasts, using the tools of speed and intimacy to help tell the story of what's happening in our all-too-busy world, why it's happening, and maybe even what to expect next.

A native of Illinois, William Small has been News Director of Station WHAS and WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky, since 1956. He went to Louisville from Station WLS in Chicago where he also held the post of News Director. Under his direction, programs of WHAS have won a number of citations and awards. Small is secretary of the Louisville Professional Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, is married and has two daughters. This year he is serving as chairman of the fraternity's Committee on Ethics.