December 31, 2017

1970. The New Clean Air Act is Signed Into Law

Nixon Signs the Clean Air Act of 1970
"A younger Doug Draper, sporting a gas mask and sign reading; 'If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the pollution', in front of a polluting mill in Welland, Ontario during the first Earth Day," April 22, 1970 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

December 31, 1970

President Nixon signed into law today congressional legislation that serves notice on the Detroit auto industry to create its own technological revolution—or someone else will.

The Democratic Congress voted, and the Republican administration concurred, that if that nation has the choice of its present gasoline-powered transportation or an atmosphere free from auto exhaust pollution, then the people must opt for clean air.

It's by far the most far-reaching environmental legislation ever enacted in the history of the US, and will affect the lives of every American, the national economy, and even the appearance of the country as investors come up with new designs to meet the deadline for a virtually emission-free car by 1976.

The new law, signed at the White House at noon, specifies that the motor car industry must come up with a new engine by January 1, 1976 which produces 90 percent less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other pollutants allowable in the 1971 models.

Although many auto engineers say the five-year deadline is too short a time for such a radical design change-over, the Democratic sponsor of the tough legislation, Maine's Senator Edmund Muskie, insisted Detroit could do the job if it had to—although there is a provision to grant a company a one-year extension on new engine production under certain circumstances.

Ironically, Senator Muskie, a 1972 presidential hopeful, was not invited to the White House bill signing—sure evidence of the political potency of environmental pollution as a developing issue for the elections two years away.

The new Clean Air Act also authorizes a billion dollars over the next three years for research and anti-pollution aid to the states.

In addition, the new law provides for the establishment of national air quality standards, which requires the separate states over the next four to six years to enforce these standards.

Industries or power plants violating the federal standards will be subjected to fines and jailing. And the law gives the government the right to inspect private property, subpoena records, and requires factories to install pollution monitors if violations are suspected.

In signing the new Clean Air Act, President Nixon said 1970 was the year of the beginning of the job of cleaning up the environment. 1971 will be the year for action.

If, as it appears now, the environment will become a major issue in the 1972 race for the White House, there will be action all right as both Democrats and Republicans play to outdo each other at pollution politics, which in this case is the advantage of a two-party system.

With rigid and fair enforcement, only the nation can win.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with "The Shape of One Man's Opinion," a service of ABC News.

December 30, 2017

1940. Guesses at What Peace Terms Would Look Like If Germany Wins

A Dire Outlook for the World
German police march before Hitler at the Nazi Party Congress rally in Nuremberg, September 10, 1937 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism before and during World War II. In late May 1940, with France on the verge of falling and Britain undertaking the Dunkirk evacuation, the Axis powers looked close to victory. New York Times correspondent George Axelsson considered the question: What will Germany's peace terms entail if the Allies surrender?

From The New York Times, May 26, 1940:
If Hitler Wins He Is Expected to Make Terms to Satisfy His Many Grudges

BERLIN, May 25 — If Germany wins this war—and she considers herself on the threshold of victory—the world must look for some sort of reversal of that Westphalian treaty that almost 300 years ago dissolved the old order of the Holy Roman Empire and made Germany a mere patch on Europe's map.

At Versailles the world saw the spectacle of well over fifty nations gathered to share the spoils of victory. The Westphalian documents were signed by only two victors—France and Sweden—and given a German success only the "big four"—Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan—are likely to sign the new treaty, with the possible inclusion of Spain to accept the stewardship of Gibraltar plus a few minor concessions on the North African mainland.

The peace conference, when and if it occurs, under these auspices therefore may be expected to turn out much simpler than the affair at Versailles and certainly more drastic and perhaps, more severe, on the vanquished than was the treaty of Westphalia.

Wide Revenge Expected

Surmises in Nazi quarters as to what a victorious Germany's peace terms would consist of are, of course, only conjecture. But it is reasonable to assume that Herr Hitler has so many grudges against various nations that a successful war will tempt him to avenge not only Versailles but also the treaty that ended the Thirty Year War so disastrously for Germany in 1648.

Should the Nazis win the war, Germany must be seen as the all-powerful guarantor of this new peace which will certainly exclude Britain from any further say in the affairs of the Continent. Germany will reserve for herself the right of interference in the affairs of conquered States with a vote in their councils. The treaty, furthermore, is likely to be incorporated into the fundamental law of those countries and form the basis of their subsequent treaties with the Western Hemisphere, particularly those with the United States.

One German explanation of why Herr Hitler did not wait for victory to reincorporate Belgian Eupen and Malmedy into the Reich to which they belonged before Versailles, was that he wanted to make the population a gift of the "advantages of membership in the German community" against the time of a peace settlement.

Future of Belgium

This provides another argument for those who think the Nazi peace will be hard on the vanquished; it suggests the Belgians will fare as badly as the rest of Germany's enemies. One of the motives of Nazi philosophy as often expounded by party members, at least in private conversation, is that small nations, choosing deliberately to place obstacles in the path of Germany, have no right to an independent existence.

The Germans already predict rather openly that Belgium has been invaded for the last time. They stress the racial and language divisions between the Walloons and "oppressed" Flemings which in turn suggests that Belgium might be split into two, each part separately under German domination with the Reich Army assuming the role of protector against any challenger disputing Germany's rights.

The May 10 memorandum accompanying the invasion specifically stated that the Reich had no intentions on Belgium's sovereignty or form of government. Therefore it is possible that at least the Walloons will be permitted to keep their country and the Royal House, although as a mere vassal.

Holland to Be Reduced

Holland, in a similar predicament, runs the risk of being reduced to the state of a colony.

England, deprived of further influence on the Continent, would likely find herself an isolated kingdom, Ireland would be given complete independence, as would Ulster. It is expected that the British colonies and dominions would decide, or try to decide, their own fate and they might all succeed in doing so with the exception of South Africa, which, there is reason to believe, Herr Hitler will wish to annex to Germany.

India and Australia would be left as prey for covetous neighbors but they would have a chance for independence if they fought for it.

Canada, already enjoying the protection of the Monroe Doctrine, might try independence or solve her problems by soliciting membership in the United States.

The Mediterranean would once more become an Italian sea, of course, at the expense of Gibraltar and Egypt and, it is likely, at that of Yugoslavia and Greece. Just now Bulgaria and Hungary are basking in the sunshine of Italo-German approval as do Spain, Sweden and Denmark.

Baltic and the U. S.

The future of the Baltic basin rests on the degree to which Russo-German friendship is maintained.

It is taken for granted that Herr Hitler will strongly oppose any attempts on the part of the United States to have a finger in the peace pie even as an "unofficial observer." Herr Hitler has often expressed distrust for American diplomacy as far as, in his opinion, it has sought to thwart his plans.

The fate of France in Herr Hitler's new deal remains the least grateful subject for the guesser. Defeat would certainly rob her of the departments of Alpes-Maritimes and the two Savoies in order to deprive her of a favorable frontier against Italy, and further of Corsica and Tunis. Whether she would also lose Alsace-Lorraine is a question that no German feels competent to answer just now.

December 29, 2017

1970. The Agnew School of Alliterative Insult

An Age of Puerile Political Partisanship
Future vice president Spiro Agnew after his election as governor of Maryland, 1966 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

December 21, 1970

Whatever its questionable literary value, Vice President Agnew's emergence on the national political scene has brought the "alliterative insult" back into favor, a move which may or may not be dividing the country, as the more fearful pundits claim. But this reporter thinks it might have at least one good residual effect. It certainly has led a lot of people to rediscover the dictionary.

This was brought home to me in a recent letter from an irate listener who took exception to a news story I covered, and my report on that story which greatly upset the listener.

Since I switched from newspaper reporting to broadcast journalism some twenty-eight years ago, I've had no end of mail—the "you cur, sir" types—so the assumption was that I was doing something right at least part of the time.

But since Mr. Agnew got so much mileage attacking the news media, a whole passel of presumptuous politicians—if the VP will pardon the phrase—have taken up the thesaurus with a vengeance—like Samson who converted the jawbone of the ass into a fairly effective weapon.

The particular non-fan letter I received from this particular member of a state senate raised some pretty pertinent questions:

"Who is this pipsqueak Downs," it asked, "to interject his puerile political partisanship on the nation?...Who is he and other of his ilk pontificating their sniveling sentiments as the ultimate in wisdom?"

Since this is Ed Morgan's usual time and this is a vacation-relief stint, we'll have to wait a couple of weeks for the "other ilk" to reply. But for the most part, we who try to report, analyze, and comment on how men and nature perform in our universe can no more be classified, catalogued, or branded than any other group of free citizens—including elected public officials or, say, radio engineers.

One man's politics are always puerile to his critics, and it must be admitted that everyone's sentiments sometimes have a tendency to snivel one man's "pip" is another man's "squeak," and never are they the alleged "ultimate in wisdom."

The trouble with the Agnew school of alliterative insult is that it tends to get out of hand. There's a tendency toward overkill, like accusing the "ilk" in the media of being the real "polarizers of America."

Not so, says none other than Spiro Agnew. He said last Thursday in Akron, Ohio, that polarization is good for the country, and you'd better believe it.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with "The Shape of One Man's Opinion," a service of ABC News.

December 28, 2017

1950. Downs Returns to Berlin

Downs Returns After a Week in New York
The Berlin headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union during the 5th annual conference, September 17, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 6, 1950

Getting back to the German beat after a week in New York leaves a reporter with a lot to catch up on. In the first place, every politician and his brother have been making New Year's statements. And there has been other incidental business in both East and West Germany that must be noted.

West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer lists a six-point program to guide his government during 1950, a program tackling the housing and unemployment problems and calling for foreign investment and liberalization of European trade barriers.

America's High Commissioner John McCloy has challenged the Soviet-sponsored East German state to hold free elections as the basis for the unification of the country.

The Communist president of the East German government also is calling for unity—but as usual on Communist terms. The satellite administration is reviving its National Front campaign and announces that unity administrations will be organized in the West during the coming months.

There are the usual reports of yet another purge in the German branch of the party. Tomorrow and the next day, the Ruhr Communists will stage peace demonstrations.

President Truman's State of the Union address today is hailed by the Western press as one of great promise and optimism; by the Eastern press as warmongering.

In other words, things are about as I left them ten days ago.

When you return here from the United States, as I did, the question everyone asks is: "How was it?"

Looking at America through European eyes, the answer is: "The people are well-fed. They have good clothing and shoes, there is lots of construction, the shop windows are full, and there are marked American tendencies toward internationalism."

In other words, it was swell.

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

December 27, 2017

1970. Franz Stangl Convicted of War Crimes

Stangl Sentenced in Düsseldorf
Nazi war criminal Franz Stangl in prison in Düsseldorf in 1971 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

December 23, 1970

There was bitter irony in the news from West Germany yesterday—just days before Christmas and on the opening night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights—Düsseldorf court convicted one Franz Stangl for the murder of at least 400,000 Jews.

Of course, we ancients over the age of fifty find it a little hard to explain to today's children how this killing all came about, particularly when most Christian families are up to their necks in yuletide presents and decorations and the Hebrew children are fascinated with lighting what some call the Hanukkah bush.

But back in the 1930s and '40s, Franz Stangl was a leader of the Nazi SS elite guard, and when Hitler's armies invaded Poland he became commander of the notorious Treblinka death camp. There he earned a Nazi medal for devising ways of exterminating so-called "inferior races"—that's what the Nazi Herrenvolk called the Hebrew and Slavic peoples and all others opposing Hitler.

Heinrich Himmler's SS corps produced many mass-murder experts like Franz Stangl, because the Nazi death camps killed an estimated six million Jews before Hitler was stopped. But at Treblinka, Stangl was very efficient, murdering about 18,000 Jews a day between the years of 1942 and '43.

When World War II came to an end, SS Captain Franz Stangl escaped from an Austrian jail and made his way to Syria and the Mideast. In 1951, he and his family fled to Brazil, where he became a safety official in the Volkswagen auto plant at São Paulo.

And that's where a private Jewish organization headed by Simon Wiesenthal of Vienna, and dedicated to tracking down Nazi war criminals, located Stangl and arranged for his extradition back to West Germany to face charges of committing 400,000 murders.

The Düsseldorf court sentenced him to life imprisonment, and the 62-year-old war criminal will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars.

How do you explain this bit of twentieth century history to a child lighting his first Hanukkah candle? How do you explain how allegedly civilized men have failed to heed the moral of the birth more than nineteen hundred years ago of one Hebrew child in Bethlehem?

The man, Jesus of Nazareth, would face his own Captain Stangl in the person of Pontius Pilate a few decades hence in Jerusalem.

But take a look at our own society at this 1970 holiday season of peace and goodwill. Look into the eyes of the ghetto, the migrant farmer, the Indian reservation, the segregated school or union hall. Perhaps you will see something there of what Stangl saw at Treblinka.

The saga of Franz Stangl is not a pleasant holiday story. But history seems to be full of ironic parallels. The anti-Nazi Jewish organization which spent more than twenty years locating the former SS captain in Brazil brought about his capture on information purchased for $5,000. The money was paid to Franz Stangl's son-in-law, who also was a former SS stormtrooper.

December 26, 2017

1970. The U.S. Navy's Military Dolphin Program

Navy Reveals Existence of Marine Mammal Program
Tuffy the military dolphin in the 1960s (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

December 26, 1970

The Navy finally has admitted that it has been conducting one of the most bizarre and exciting series of experiments in the long and bloody history of warfare, and that Operation Porpoise, or whatever it's called, is now underway in Vietnam. A team of three dolphins, those bottle-nosed, grinning, gregarious and capricious underwater mammals, have been drafted for duty in Southeast Asia.

But we're wondering if the Navy really knows what it's getting into. Historians know that the air-breathing dolphin has been cavorting in the seas long before man learned how to swim, but it wasn't until scuba gear allowed divers to join these man-size cetaceans did anyone discover how truly remarkable these animals really are.

They seem to revel in the company of humans and have a language that may be more complex and communicative than any land-based tongue. Their brain is comparable in size and composition to our own, and their strength and endurance underwater is phenomenal.

The navies of the world—the Soviet Union is known to have their own secret dolphin experiments underway—first became interested in dolphins to discover how they propel themselves through the water with such great and silent speed without leaving a bubble in their wake, a secret of great potential military value if adaptable to submarines or torpedoes.

But now it develops that dolphins get a great kick out of working with the Navy's aquanauts. During the SEALAB I and II projects they carried tools, equipment, and even mail to the divers. In 1966, a dolphin named Tuffy located a $4,700 discarded cradle from a Regulus missile launch—the first time the Navy ever recovered one. They can distinguish between different types of metals and even tell the difference between a 2 1/8th and a 2 1/4 inch ball bearing.

So now the Navy says the dolphin team has been sent to Vietnam on a "surveillance and detection mission." It could be a most dangerous move. As far as we know, dolphins don't make war against each other or any other living creatures on this Earth. If they come to understand they are being crassly used for man's ultimate atrocity against man, might they not take vengeance against all humans?

The US Navy had better watch it step.

December 25, 2017

1949. Another Christmas in West Berlin

Christmas Broadcast from Germany
Two brothers in Germany look at a Christmas tree, 1949 (Getty)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 25, 1949

It has been a busy morning here in Berlin. The custom of the country is to give gifts to everyone you do business with. The postman came around, the night watchman, the men who collect the trash, the woman whose dog plays with my dog. And the little orphans who I'm afraid have a kind of route among the Americans here; they evidently called on us because we couldn't persuade them to have anything to eat. They were full already, and took the cake and candy with them.

Then there was the usual checking on the news to do. Churches in Germany were jammed for the midnight Christmas services last night. There was a slight shortage of Christmas trees to be noted in Berlin. Protestant Bishop Dibelius, in his holiday message to the German people, stressed that the spirit of Christmas recognizes no Iron Curtain.

Then after this came the problem of preparing this broadcast. This job of doing a Christmas broadcast has been coming up annually for me for the past seven years that I've been with CBS. And it's always the same, whether you broadcast from New York, London, Moscow, Tokyo, or Berlin.

Nobody but kids really make news on Christmas, and it's the same wonderful story the world over, year after year.

So you sit yourself down to a typewriter and scratch your head and pound out something. Then you go to the studio, and there's no one but you and an engineer, the man who handles the knobs and dials and despite his boredom gets you on the air.

So on Christmas morning you get yourself down before the microphone and clear your throat and wait for your cue.

And when it's all finished, as this is just about to be, you stick the script in your pocket and you wave at the engineer—who has to work too—and say "Merry Christmas," which, after all, is the purpose of this trip to the Deutsche Post studio on Argentinische Allee in the American sector of Berlin.

So Merry Christmas, Herbert, and Merry Christmas to all working radio people everywhere. And Merry Christmas to you who are listening, too.

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

December 24, 2017

1949. Positive News for West Germany on Christmas Eve

White Christmas in Berlin
Brandenburg Gate in December 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 24, 1949

Germany tonight celebrates her fifth postwar Christmas Eve, industrially stronger and economically better off than on any holiday since the end of hostilities—but politically divided in an ideological split that appears to be a long time in the healing.

High Commissioner John J. McCloy's office today reveals that Western Germany's industrial production during November reached a record high—98 percent of the industrial production of the year 1936. It is a remarkable achievement. Eighteen months ago the figure was only 50 percent of the 1936 production. The year 1936 is considered the last period of normal output in this country.

Here in Berlin, Russia's General Kotikov has addressed a letter to the American, British, and French commandants, calling for resumption of four-power talks to normalize life in Berlin and blaming the breaking off of the conferences on the Westerners.

The three West Berlin commandants last month charged that the Russians were not living up to their settlement of Berlin's recent rail strike and are discriminating against the independent anti-Communist union. Although Kotikov offered to resume negotiations, the Western attitude is that until the rail union's complaints have been settled, further negotiations are fruitless.

For the past week, Americans here in Germany have been host to a million German children in a round of parties and Christmas shows that has everyone a little groggy.

The best break Berlin has received this Christmas Eve was the snow that fell last night. The city immediately mobilized 15,000 unemployed to clear it off the streets. A white Christmas in Berlin has more than sentimental value. It means that a few more of the quarter-million unemployed will get the most important present possible here—a job.

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

December 23, 2017

1949. Bill Downs Reports for the American Forces Network

Downs Joins the Troop Information and Education Radio Program
"US soldiers sitting on a tank eat their lunch at the Friedrich Strasse border checkpoint on October 27, 1961 in Berlin, Germany" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 23, 1949

The problem of news and information can be tackled in many ways, and there's a story that the Marines like to tell about themselves that illustrates what I mean.

The incident was said to have occurred during the famous battle involving John Paul Jones and the Bonhomme Richard against the British warship the Serapis in 1779. As you remember, the Serapis was a monster of a ship in those days, carrying forty guns and far larger and stronger than the Richard.

Anyway, Jones put in the attack and was having a rough going. Blood was in the scuppers, as the saying goes, and American marines and British marines were shooting each other out of the rigging like flies. At one point, the British commander shouted an order for Jones to surrender, at which point the American admiral made his famous reply: "We have just begun to fight."

At this point, one bloody and bandaged marine hanging in the rigging turned to another and said: "There's always some so-and-so that hasn't got the word."

Well, there are a lot of us who haven't got the word these days, which is the reason that Dave Nichol and you and I are sitting at this microphone.

Dave and I have the job of passing the word, as it were—Dave for the Chicago Daily News, me through the combined stations of the Columbia Broadcasting System.

AFN passes the word here in Europe to the troops. And if the measure of a nation's freedom is its informed public, then I suppose you could say we are doing pretty well.

But there is a lot of room for improvement.

The ultimate aim of foreign correspondence—of public information—I suppose, is to produce an ideal type of world citizen; a person whose vast knowledge could fathom the propaganda we're getting from the East, whose brain and experience could understand and act on the discoveries now being made in atomic physics, whose understanding could solve the social conflicts confronting us in the fields of racial and national relationships.

I don't think we're going to get it done on this program. But if we understand the problem, then at least we have made some progress.

Actually, the goal of public information, of news reporting, of the Army's T.I.&E. program is to arrive at the truth.

December 22, 2017

1940. Democratic Chair Asserts Hitler Wants Roosevelt to Lose Re-election

Edward J. Flynn Claims Germany Prefers Wendell Willkie
Wendell Willkie, the Republican presidential nominee in 1940, giving his "Report to the People" remarks on October 26, 1942 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism and fall of fascism in Europe. In the days leading up to the 1940 presidential election, Democratic National Committee Chair Edward J. Flynn argued that Republican candidate Wendell Willkie was Hitler's preferred candidate, and claimed that fascist agents were attempting to influence the election.

From The New York Times, October 31, 1940:
Flynn Accuses Him of Causing South Americans to Fear We Cannot Protect Them
Chairman, Answering the First Voters, Says He Withdrew Help to Youth Congress in July

Edward J. Flynn, Democratic National Chairman, charged yesterday that Wendell L. Willkie, Republican candidate for President, was playing the game of Adolf Hitler and Axis powers by belittling the nation's defenses and causing among South American nations the fear that the United States was not adequately armed to protect their interests.

Mr. Flynn's charge, made at his morning press conference in the Hotel Biltmore, was in elaboration of language contained in a formal statement assailing Mr. Willkie as "the most arrant demagogue that ever aspired to the Presidency of the United States."

Accusing the Republican candidate of failure to repudiate a whispering campaign against President Roosevelt, Mr. Flynn went on to mention "the publication of the definite declarations of support of his (Mr. Willkie's) candidacy by every Fascist organization in the country and the definite testimony from overseas that Herr Hitler and the Axis generally are doing what they can to accomplish the defeat of President Roosevelt and have doubtless ordered their representatives in this country how to proceed."

In response to questions by reporters concerning the alleged efforts of Herr Hitler and the Axis generally to bring about the defeat of President Roosevelt, Mr. Flynn replied that "they're pretty nearly doing it through the Presidential candidate."

"I think they're pretty nearly doing it through Willkie himself," Mr. Flynn declared. "I'll say this. I'll say that Mr. Willkie is playing the game of the Axis by attempting to belittle the defense of the country and by also causing some degree of fear in South America, among the nations of South America, that we are not as completely armed as we should be to defend them. Certainly any person that attempts to belittle the resources of this country to build up defenses is giving comfort to the Axis powers."

Replying to another question, Mr. Flynn said it was for the people to decide whether "deliberate" comfort was being given to the Axis powers.

Answers First Voters League

Mr. Flynn made public a letter written by him on July 24 to Jack McMichael of the American Youth Congress, withdrawing financial support from that group because of its alleged failure to keep a promise that it would, at its convention in Wisconsin earlier in the Summer, denounce communism and dictatorships.

Mr. Flynn explained that the letter was his comment on a full-page advertisement in Wednesday's New York Times, in which the First Voters League, Inc., referred to a meeting in Mr. Flynn's home on May 8, at which Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt was present and at which financial aid was given the National Youth Congress. Mr. Flynn noted that at the time he was not chairman of the Democratic national organization.

Mr. Flynn then exhibited to reporters a so-called "proclamation" purposedly issued by the Independent Young Americans, Inc., discussing the Warm Springs Foundation at Warm Springs, Ga., and stating that it was a private business operated for profit and not a Roosevelt charity and philanthropy. The "proclamation," signed by W. E. Porter and Robert Howard, addresses not given, discussed at some length the financial and corporate set-up of the foundation and its holding company.

"This is the filthiest thing that has ever been done in American politics," Mr. Flynn declared, adding that the circular was being distributed throughout the country and was tantamount to a charge that the Warm Springs Foundation was a racket instead of a philanthropic activity. Making it clear that he was not charging the Republican organization or its leaders with any connection with the document, Mr. Flynn asserted that "if they don't know about it, they certainly don't know what's going on." The document, he declared, was just another item in a campaign to "smear" President Roosevelt.

At Republican National headquarters all knowledge of and responsibility for the "proclamation" was denied.

December 21, 2017

1970. Uprising in Poland Rattles Leadership

Gomułka Resigns Amid Protests
Shipyard workers face off with police in Szczecin, Poland on December 17, 1970 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

December 21, 1970

Back in 1955, when the Russians marshaled the six Communist satellite nations on their European border to form a buffer zone against the Capitalist West, the fact that the Kremlin leaders chose Warsaw as the site of the signing of this political and military alliance was not by chance.

The so-called Warsaw Pact was, and is, more than a multilateral organization of socialist states to match the US-sponsored North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In fact, the tip-off is in the official title of the Communist agreement, reading: "Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance."

Translated from the original Marx, it means strictly Soviet-style friendship, mutual assistance made only in Moscow, and Leninist mutuality of cooperation, which is what the Kremlin wants it to be at any point in time.

The Hungarians found this out during the Budapest uprisings in 1956. Czechoslovakia tasted Moscow's brand of mutual assistance and friendship in 1968.

It was a week ago today that reports began leaking through the Iron Curtain of rioting, looting, and shooting in the Polish cities of Gdańsk (formerly named Danzig) and the Prussian city of Stettin, now called Szczecin.

US and NATO intelligence reportedly made only routine checks on these incidents, apparently believing that the First Secretary of Poland's Communist Party, Władysław Gomułka, had the country firmly in hand, particularly since the Warsaw government and West Germany had agreed on a historic border settlement aimed at defusing an ancient time bomb in Eastern Europe.

But apparently Gomułka and everyone else—including the Russians—overestimated his Warsaw regime. A surprise order by the twelve-man Polish politburo, which brazenly raised the official price of staple foods such as potatoes, flour, and fats, turned out to be the ukase that broke Gomułka's back.

As the food and protest riots spread to other cities there were reports of Russian troop movements from the twenty-division garrison the Soviets maintain in East Germany—also of Red Army units along Poland's border with White and Baltic Russia and the Ukraine.

Yesterday Gomułka resigned. He has been replaced by one of his old enemies in Warsaw's politburo, Edward Gierek, a former coal miner who got his party training not in the USSR, but in France and Belgium.

Although the purge of Gomułka and four of his government ministers seems to have quieted the hungry and unhappy Poles, the crisis may not yet have passed. And no one here in Washington dares predict what might happen if the Russians felt forced to invoke the Warsaw Pact's mutual assistance and friendship provisions with Soviet tanks on the Poles, as they did with the Czechs and the Hungarians.

The new Polish Communist leader Gierek is regarded with suspicion and apprehension in some sections of the West. Two years ago, when Gierek was fighting his way up the politburo ladder, he resorted to an ancient device to explain away the nation's shortcomings. The fault, he said, lay with Poland's Zionists—the Jews.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with "The Shape of One Man's Opinion," a service of ABC News.

December 20, 2017

1932. German Industrialist Advocates Fascist Rule

Fritz Thyssen Sees Nazism as Preferable to Communism
"Adolf Hitler and Fritz Thyssen visit a Thyssen factory in the Ruhr," 1935 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. In March 1932, New York Times correspondent Harold Callender spoke with businessman Fritz Thyssen, a Hitler supporter, about Thyssen's outlook on Germany's future.

From The New York Times, March 10, 1932:
Ruhr Industrialist, Backer of Nazis, Sees Choice Between Fascism and Communism
Holds Hitlerites Have Roused a New and Necessary Spirit of Nationalism in Germany

ESSEN, March 9 — In many parts of Germany your correspondent has studied the rising tide of National Socialism, listened to Nazi speakers, visited the universities, where youth is fired by the Nazi movement, questioned Adolf Hitler and other leaders about Nazi aims and sought vainly to discover the specific economic program of the party, which its leaders say is in the process of preparation.

Here in the Ruhr one gets new light on the movement, which enjoys the support of certain industrialists. So your correspondent today asked Dr. Fritz Thyssen, one of the outstanding leaders of German heavy industry, who is a friend and supporter of Herr Hitler, why he favored a Nazi regime for Germany.

Dr. Thyssen answered that he found sufficient reason for supporting Herr Hitler in the fact that he had roused in half the country a new spirit of nationalism that is essentially healthy and necessary and serves as a bulwark against communism.

Dr. Thyssen sees no danger in the socialistic theories of the Nazis because economic facts and not theories will determine policies. He believes that the choice, not only for Germany but for Europe, lies between communism and fascism, and he prefers fascism.

Stresses Nationalist Aspect

"It is the nationalist aspect of the movement that is important," he said. "Marxism is internationalist in tendency. This is true of the Centrist [Chancellor Bruening's] party because it is allied with the church and the trade unions.

"We need a nationalist government and a stronger foreign policy. Heretofore we have always made concessions. The policy of fulfillment must end. If foreigners insist that we make huge payments, we must say, 'Very well, but in that case we cannot buy your goods. We cannot do both.'

"Would a Nazi government have a disturbing effect on foreign relations, as some fear?" your correspondent asked.

"On the contrary," answered Dr. Thyssen. "It would not improve relations with France but it should make no difference with other countries. An anti-Communist regime ought to make a favorable impression in America and England.

"Relations with France are difficult whatever government we have. We have long tried for rapprochement with France without success. If Europe is to be tranquil Germany must have an opportunity to live without being under constant pressure form France and without its eastern frontiers being menaced by Poland."

"You support the Nazi movement then despite the Socialistic ideas of its speakers and pamphlets?" Dr. Thyssen was asked.

"A large proportion of Germans even outside the trade unions are socialistically inclined," he replied. "There are more or less socialistic ideas in all parties. The question is whether we shall enact socialistic measures because they are economically necessary or because we believe them desirable. That is what has divided the Marxists from the others.

Sees them Same as Fascisti

"We must regard the Nazis as the German equivalent of the Italian Fascisti. They are the same thing. Fascism has not done badly in Italy.

"I regard a Fascist State as one that in a crisis will take measures needed to bring order and then restore economic freedom when the crisis passes. Dr. Bruening has taken such measures to a certain extent, but the measures of the present government are socialistic and tend to lead us toward communism. The huge civil service based on partisan patronage is also expensive, and when the State is unable to pay then comes communism.

"The danger of communism in Germany is real. Many say that since cooperation with France is impossible we must turn to Russia. It is not yet determined which way we shall turn—to communism or fascism."

"But the Nazi ideal is what they call 'autarkie'—the restriction of Germany's international economic relations to the minimum—while the Ruhr, as well as other industrial areas, is equipped for world trade," your correspondent remarked.

"Industry and trade cannot longer be run as formerly," was the reply. "It is impossible in the long run to buy from the countries that do not buy from us. To carry out such control of trade we require State supervision, at least for the immediate future.

"The only question is whether this is to be for the duration of the crisis or become permanent. I think it is temporary, as Mussolini does, and that as soon as the crisis is past industry will recover its freedom. We have rigid State control of trade already, but how long it will continue depends on world circumstances, not statesmen.

"Russia has a state monopoly of foreign trade. How can we deal with her on an equal footing without similar measures? We cannot sell great quantities without buying at the same time. This is America's great mistake and one of the causes of the crisis."
Conference to Consider "Menace" is Urged by B'nai B'rith Meeting

A conference of major Jewish organizations was urged last night to consider the "alarming situation" produced by the anti-Semitism of Adolf Hitler in Germany and the "imminence" of his accession to power. The proposal was embodied in a resolution unanimously adopted by more than 500 Jews, meeting under the auspices of B'nai B'rith at Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue and Sixty-fifth Street.

The resolution was presented by Municipal Court Judge Myron Sulzberger after speakers had denounced Hitlerism not only as a menace to Judaism but to the peace of the world. It is to be forwarded for action to the national headquarters of B'nai B'rith in Cincinnati.

Supreme Court Justice Albert Cohn, district president of B'nai B'rith, presided.

December 19, 2017

1942. Married Women's Association Advocates for Women's Rights in Britain

Married Women Push for Equality
"A big demonstration in support of the International Labour Policy on Spain was held in Trafalgar Square on July 11. Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P., addressing the huge meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on July 11, 1937" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 6, 1942

There's a new movement starting in Britain which might develop into a new force governing the nation's political and labor relations. It's called the Married Women's Association, and it is now attempting to organize all British housewives into a union. The association is based on the premise that British housewives work seven days a week for twelve to fourteen hours a day. The Married Women's Association believes that something ought to be done about it.

Mostly the Married Women's Association aims to do something about British laws which it feels now discriminate against the wife in favor of her husband. As present laws stand, wives in Britain are technically dependent on the goodwill of their husbands for support. Even their life insurance rights are wrapped up in the insurance of their husbands. British law does not compel the husband to make any provision for the wife's old age.

British husbands aren't really worrying about a united front of married women—yet. The new Married Women's Association admits its membership right now is not very large, but it's growing.

The tip-off for British husbands however came in a recent speech by Miss Ellen Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Home Security.

British women are now required to register for compulsory fire watching. Some women complained that they don't have time for fire watching. In fact, one housewife said if the government gave her any more household regulations such as food rationing and figuring out clothing coupons, she was going to have to hire a secretary.

Then Miss Wilkinson said that if British housewives were finding their war duties were running them short of time, they should start sending their husbands out to do the shopping. Then, she said, these husbands will begin to find out just what we wives go through to give them a comfortable home.

It will be interesting to see whether some time in the future an organization based on the wedding ring can wield influence in the House of Commons.

December 18, 2017

1970. Senators Propose an All-Volunteer Military Establishment

Republicans Goldwater and Hatfield Seek to Abolish the Draft
"Draft Director Curtis W. Tarr spins one of the two Plexiglas drums in Washington on Feb. 2, 1972, as the fourth annual Selective Service lottery begins. Inside are capsules containing birth dates and orders of assignment for men born in 1953" (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 20, 1970

For different—and equally sincere—reasons, one of the Senate's leading Republican doves was teamed in legislative harness today with a leading Republican hawk. Their primary goal is to quiet the political unrest over the Vietnam War by turning the fighting over to a volunteer army of American professionals.

Arizona's Senator Barry Goldwater and Oregon's Senator Mark Hatfield don't see eye-to-eye on many things concerning the US involvement in Southeast Asia and other military policies, but they have found common ground to make their stand to abolish the present Selective Service System and establish an all-volunteer military establishment.

Hence the Goldwater-Hatfield amendment to the $19 billion military appropriations bill, which would implement President Nixon's campaign pledge to go to a volunteer army as soon as feasible.

However, Defense Secretary Laird strongly opposes the move while the US is trying to disengage from the Vietnam War. Laird said abolishing the draft now would "needlessly endanger the national security."

Hatfield and Goldwater say the shift to an all-volunteer force would add some $3.5 billion a year to the Pentagon budget, but other estimates say the cost would more likely be at least $12 billion.

The proposal would raise the basic pay for new recruits by 50 percent, establish a system of merit pay for professional soldiers, and raise retirement and death benefits for survivors. The Selective Service System would be retained on a standby basis in event of a global emergency.

For more than a year now, a special Pentagon panel has been studying the feasibility of several voluntary army plans, but the tentative conclusions are that a professional military force would be exorbitantly expensive to the American taxpayer, and that there would not be enough volunteers in special categories such as doctors. And even among some top generals and admirals there are qualms about turning over the national defense to an elite band of military professionals.

Hatfield says such fears of rampant militarism are groundless, that Canada and Great Britain have shifted to the volunteer army and become less militaristic in the process.

Goldwater holds that military service can be an honorable profession for which people will be glad to volunteer if they are offered a decent salary with fringe benefits similar to civilian opportunities. And the Arizona senator asks:

"Is military service to be equated with a jail sentence?"

The answer to that question, Senator, is that it depends on what war you're fighting.

One of the major facts which has taken much of the steam out of the administration's argument for a voluntary army was turned up by a Pentagon review of its military manpower. Out of 200 million Americans, only some 800 men a month enlist for combat duty, which does not exactly make the US a warmongering nation.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with "The Shape of One Man's Opinion," a service of ABC News.

December 17, 2017

1970. The White House Plays Games with the Education Bill

Juggling with the Country's Future
"Police and student demonstrators facing off in an antiwar march down the I-5 freeway during the May 1970 student strike" (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 19, 1970

Simply on the face of it, a country that spends more than $70 billion for military defense and then quibbles about spending less than $5 billion for education has got a screw loose somewhere in its national priorities.

And when presidential politics gets into the education act, such juggling with the intellectual future of the United States becomes downright immoral.

When the Senate voted an overwhelming 77 to 16 yesterday to override President Nixon's veto and to authorize $4.4 billion for federal aid to education, it brought to an end a shoddy little game of political football that brings little credit to the team players at the White House or in Congress.

Mr. Nixon said he vetoed the bill because it exceeded his education spending proposals by more than $450 million. He called it "extravagant and inflationary," a recurring Republican label which the administration is trying to pin on the Democratically-controlled Congress.

However, ABC White House correspondent Bill Gill reports that the president finally decided on the veto only after he had received assurances from Republican congressional leaders that there were enough votes in the House and the Senate to override his action. The fact that 23 Republican senators joined 54 Democrats, and 77 Republican congressmen joined 212 Democrats in the House of Representatives to kill the veto, seems to be ample evidence that the GOP leadership got the word around that the White House really only was playing games with the education bill.

However, if the president's intent was to pin a spendthrift label on the Democratic Congress and thus place blame for the continuing national inflation, the tactic may have backfired. Too many congressional Republicans got involved.

What is even more disturbing is the changing national attitude toward American public schooling and higher education—an insipient kind of "know-nothingism."

In my youth even during the Great Depression when the colleges and universities were begging for students, the parents skimped and saved because they were determined their children would get the education the parents had missed.

Now the public school and higher education system is under attack from segregationists, north and south. A minority of professional students and amateur revolutionaries demanding relevance have been allowed to disrupt the education of the majority.

And one of the more shocking statements in my opinion ever uttered by a US public official was made by—guess who—Vice President Agnew. In a recent speech, Mr. Agnew allowed as how people would have to get over the idea that every American youth has to go to college. Okay, so we'll have a dumb country.

Like everything else, the cost of education has soared. But contrary to President Nixon, it is not inflationary. It's an investment in the American future.

December 16, 2017

1970. The New Age of Business

Some Thoughts on the Times
Aerial view of Expo '70, the world's fair held in Osaka, Japan in 1970 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 14, 1970

In these days of computered conformity, predictive extrapolation, and phalanxed midgetry, it's suspiciously refreshing to read that an advanced technology company is advertising for "a disagreeable young man." The help wanted ad goes on to say that the company wants a youthful curmudgeon who questions what he's asked to do, disagrees with his supervisors and coworkers—who is, in short, an individualist.

This advertisement is cited in the current issue of Nation's Business as the basis for an article by a Virginia computing company executive, Dr. E. G. Shuster.

Dr. Shuster, who must be top man in the company or otherwise very secure in his job, claims that the era of the gray flannel conformity, the committee rule of the organization men, is coming to an end. "A new managerial revolution is in the making," says Shuster. "It's the age of a new type of individualist..."

The doctor explains this disagreeable new paragon won't be the old-time swashbuckling buccaneer, the robber baron without codes or conscience. No siree. This new individualist, he says, will be one who "combines personal freedom with professional managerial responsibility to maximize human achievement..."

And right here, doctor, you lost me. For you admit that right now today's managers have done all right, that the good old team effort has reached a pretty high performance plateau.

So now you want this new cantankerous guy coming in to take charge, huh, seizing opportunities all over the place, maximizing human achievement. Some know-it-all kid who'll take us further...somewhere.

Okay, doc. March him in. The boys in the boardroom are waiting.

And while we're on the subject of business enterprise, consider the wily and industrious Japanese zaibatsu which futurist Herman Kahn says is now about the fastest growing industrial power in the world.

Kahn, quoted in a recent issue of New York magazine, described a Tokyo luncheon he had with a Japanese banker and the financier's research assistant.

"In the 1960s," said the banker, "Japan surpassed Italy, France, Germany, and England. If our Gross National Product continues at this rate we will pass Russia in..."

The chopsticks paused in midair. "1979," said the research assistant.

"Ah, so, Russia in 1979. And if the GNP continues growing, we would of course not pass the United States until..."

Now both Japanese paused, because was it truly courteous to speak of surpassing the great America? The research assistant could not resist the opportunity.

"Sometime in the 1990s," he said.

"But of course," said the zaibatsu millionaire. "1990 is a long time off. Many things could happen..."

One thing already had happened. Our Japanese friend had planted the idea that even tiny Japan, with a population that of the US, might be capable of making America number two. Perhaps we should try to find out about that Japanese know-how.

It's a twentieth century irony that the two nations which plunged the world into history's bloodiest and most destructive war—Germany and Japan—have emerged as among the most economically and industrially advanced.

This must be credited to the American long-range bomber and the accuracy of the US air crews which destroyed the enemy's industrial base. To the Japanese zaibatsu and the Rhineland industrial baron it meant forced modernization of which now is far advanced much of America's aging mills and factories.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with "The Shape of One Man's Opinion," a service of ABC News.

December 15, 2017

1970. Republicans and Democrats Hope to Attract the New Youth Vote

The New Bloc of Young Voters
Democratic presidential candidate Senator George McGovern introducing his running mate Sargent Shriver, August 9, 1972 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 22, 1970

Undoubtedly, the most intriguing political mystery of the generation is the so-called 18-year-old vote, which, if the courts don't close the door on it, will make its electoral clout felt for the first time in US history in the 1972 presidential contest.

Both the Republican and Democratic National Committees now are making elaborate plans to woo these newcomers to the political scene. And if anything it's certainly going to lend a more hip and swinging image to both national parties, whose directorates in the past have been dominated by the genial and loyal party hacks.

No one seems to know exactly, but by the time November 1972 rolls around it's estimated that between 11 to 12 million new potential voters between the ages of 18 and 21 will be on hand.

But will they vote? Some political pros say not very many. 18, 19, and 20-year-olds are much too wrapped up in their own affairs to take the trouble to register and go to the polls.

However, other experienced politicians, including such diverse personalities as Senators Barry Goldwater and Ted Kennedy, say this new crop of voters are more politically sophisticated and educated than any generation before them, and that they will use their franchise in such numbers that the so-called "youth vote" of under-30 citizens may well determine whether a Republican or a Democrat will be the next resident of the White House.

Senator Kennedy warned the other day that it would be a mistake to label the new youth bloc as "the student vote," for more than half of them will not be in colleges or universities—but holding down jobs as workingmen.

Out of an estimated 11 and a half million, about 5 million of the newly enfranchised will be in classrooms, about 900,000 in high schools, and the rest in college.

Just over 4 million of the potential new votes will have jobs. About one million will be housewives, and possibly 800,000 youths will be in the armed services.

How will the youth bloc vote, and which party will benefit most from lowering the voting age?

Senator Goldwater says recent GOP studies show that first-time voters tend to follow the political sentiments of their parents and family. He claims that there's a major trend toward political conservatism in the country—ergo, the Republicans stand the best chance of getting the youth vote.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Larry O'Brien, of course, disagrees. The new youth bloc will be feeling its political oats for the first time, and in their newfound independence and political power they will tend to kick the traces of parental politics and rebel against the entrenched administration, meaning the Democrats will prosper. What do you think?

The aristocratic German Chancellor Bismarck once remarked that "universal suffrage is the government of a house by its nursery." Bismarck was a man much respected by the Teuton princes and kaisers—and, of course, admired by Adolf Hitler.

Considering what such adults have done to this world, Bismarck and his successors should have spent more time in the nursery. In this country, it can only expand and enliven our democracy. So welcome...nursery vote.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with "The Shape of One Man's Opinion," a service of ABC News.

December 14, 2017

1942. "Soviets Still Battering at Weary Nazis"

"Heavy German Reinforcements Moving Into Crimea and Donets for Drive"
An Office of Strategic Services map of the Leningrad Front as of January 20, 1943 (Click to enlarge – source)
Soviets Still Battering at Weary Nazis
Heavy German Reinforcements Moving Into Crimea and Donets for Drive
United Press Staff Correspondent

London — (UP) The Russians steadily battered the Germans on the Leningrad Front today, having killed 3,000 of them, demolished twenty-two blockhouses and captured or destroyed huge quantities of supplies in forty-eight hours of fighting.

Dispatchers from the front said the trapped German Sixteenth Army in the Staraya Russa region below Leningrad had lost 1,800 in a new attempt to break out, and that Russian artillery was blasting them from all sides, and in one sector, at point-blank range.

The Russians, according to advice from Moscow, had cleared the enemy from large areas in the Vyazma district on the Central Front, the reinforcements had arrived to relieve the weary Germans who had been resisting continuous attacks.

A British military commentator said the Russians had driven "deep salients" into German positions, but the Germans had created "similar deep salients in certain positions."

"The question is now who can cut off the other," he said.

Regarding the situation in the Staraya Russia region where the Russians have trapped the Sixteenth German Army, the commentator said the Soviets were operating over a large area, and "everything will depend on whether the Russians can reduce the Germans before the Nazis can bring up reinforcements."

Heavy German reinforcements also were moving into the Crimea and Donets basin in preparation for a supreme drive the Germans were expected to begin soon with 1,125,000 men.

December 13, 2017

1942. "British Hit Nazis in Big Air Battle"

"RAF Downs 13 Planes as Protection for Raid on St. Nazaire Port"
"Flight Lieutenant Brendan 'Paddy' Finucane DFC, an Irishman who flew with the Royal Air Force, seated in the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire at RAF Kenley while serving with No. 452 Squadron RAAF," 1941 (source)
British Hit Nazis in Big Air Battle
RAF Downs 13 Planes as Protection for Raid on St. Nazaire Port
United Press Staff Correspondent

London — (UP) Royal Air Force fighter pilots shot down thirteen German planes yesterday in great sweeps over northern France and the English Channel to divert German planes from attacking British naval vessels retiring from the "commando" raids on St. Nazaire.

An Air Ministry communiqué said five British planes were lost in continuation of the RAF's non-stop spring aerial offensive.

The communiqué, which described the sweeps, said that the British pilots gave the German air force "one of its liveliest days in months."

"The Huns were all over the skies," the Air Ministry said.

One of the heroes of the day's action was Brendan (Paddy) Finucane, the "fighting Irishman" who is squadron leader of a Scottish squadron, and who returned to action only recently after being wounded in the foot in a previous dogfight.

He shot down two Focke-Wulfe 190s and ran his score to twenty-nine planes.

The battle, in which 40 to 50 fighters were slugging it out at one time, was believed to have offered one of the first tests for new and improved German and British fighter planes which will decide the air war of 1942.

One squadron leader, the Air Ministry said, reported seeing at least thirty Focke-Wulfe 190s in action at one time and that his group scored hits on ten of them.

The offensive, which started with the first of two shattering raids Wednesday on the industrial Ruhr valley of Germany, picked up with full force today after being slightly slowed down last night by bad weather.

December 12, 2017

1970. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser Dies at 52

Nasser's Legacy After Eighteen Years
"Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister and future President Gamal Abdel Nasser and his convoy being welcomed by the residents of El Minya," June 24, 1954 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

September 28, 1970

When I first interviewed Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954, he still insisted on wearing the rank of colonel on his Egyptian army uniform, although as head of the Revolutionary Command Council of young officers who had deposed King Farouk, Nasser was the top man in Egypt.

He was a slim and handsome 36-years-old then, and while still harboring slightly veiled hatred for Zionist Israel, Nasser insisted that he held no hatred for the Hebrew people. But it was a claim not borne out in the years of anti-Jewish propaganda from his Radio Cairo.

But whatever else he was, to the Egyptian people Nasser remained a heroic figure who took their country away from a corrupt monarchy. He was, and will remain, their George Washington.

In the eighteen years that Gamal Abdel Nasser and his young army colleagues ruled Egypt, I watched the physical change in the man that seemed to parallel the fate of the United Arab Republic.

When I first interviewed him, Nasser was the lean and humble revolutionary—dreaming of dragging Egypt into the twentieth century by work and education. He had larger dreams of making the UAR the capital of the Islamic world by embracing Muslims from Africa to Indonesia.

But as the years rolled by, the dreams seemed to fade as the Nasser waistline expanded. He could not even keep his Syrian brothers within the Republic. He arrogantly defied the West and embraced the Russians.

In the Middle East, where the Muslim extremist brotherhoods regard assassination as a valid political practice, the announcement that President Nasser died of a heart attack will be received with some skepticism.

During his eighteen years as head of the Egyptian nation, Nasser's downfall or overthrow was often predicted on the diplomatic grapevines around the world, most particularly heard after the humiliation during the Six-Day War with Israel. However, Nasser survived that defeat and remained his country's hero, even after a purge of the Egyptian army and air force which executed some of his closest colleagues.

Nasser had been reported in bad health for several years, making a number of trips to Moscow for medical treatment. Presumably the strain of the civil war in Jordan, and his inability to do anything about it, was too much for the Egyptian president.

This is Bill Downs for ABC News in Washington.

December 11, 2017

1949. Another East Berlin Political Assault on the Western Sectors

East Berlin Criticizes West; Germans Clean Up World War II Battlefields
"Formidable concrete walls took shape at the seven crossing points between East and West Berlin on December 4, 1961. The new walls were seven feet high and five feet thick. Only small passages for traffic were left open. In center of the Bornholmer Bridge (French/Russian sector border), behind steel tank traps, a big sign showing the East German emblem hammer and compass" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 6, 1949

Eastern Berlin Communists this morning announce a new political assault on the American, British, and French sectors of the city, calling on all Berliners to join them for the unification of Berlin and reject democratic controls in the Western two-thirds of the former German capital.

Over the weekend, the Communist-led Socialist Unity Party held a meeting wherein Franz Dahlem, leading party official, gave orders for a new political propaganda drive against West Berlin aimed at conquering the entire city and making the so-called "foes of the German people"—the Western Powers—abandon it.

The official Russian newspaper here, Tägliche Rundschau, however explains today that this will be a completely all-German campaign, that the Soviet military government is keeping hands-off—at least for the time being. Plans outline a call for lightning demonstrations in the Western sectors, teams of trained speakers to address these demonstrations, pamphlets, and so forth.

In other words, there will be an attempt to create another Berlin crisis this winter. But there appears little possibility of another blockade in the initial stages.

The British commandant of Berlin, General Bourne, today refused a Russian request for the return of a Soviet private soldier who sought political asylum in the British zone three weeks ago.

The British commandant sent a letter to Russian officials saying that it had been established that 21-year-old Andrei Shieka had not wandered into the British zone by mistake, as was claimed, but for the express purpose of requesting political asylum. "In accordance with the declared policy of His Majesty's Government, political asylum has been granted to him," the letter declares.

General Bourne added, however, that should Soviet authorities wish to interview the Russian GI for the purpose of satisfying themselves that he is not being detained against his will, the British will be happy to arrange a meeting.

The problem of housecleaning a nation after a war has been fought over it is more than a four-year job. In the Hürtgen Forest near Aachen, more than four hundred persons have lost their lives by wandering into minefields and stumbling on un-exploded ammunition.

Here in Berlin, cleanup gangs have been going over and over the Grunewald, the forest in West Berlin where one of the last battles for the city was fought. Last week they found seven antitank rockets, five hand grenades, and about twenty pounds of other ammunition.

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