April 30, 2017

1949. The CDU and SPD Seek Compromise on New Constitution

New Plan for Berlin
The 1st Bundestag convenes for the first time in Bonn, Germany, September 7, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 21, 1949

The great Berlin Blockade "mystery" is becoming even more elusive today, with no indication that there is anything more than rumor to the recent reports that the Russians are going to lift their blockade.

Last night the rump government of Eastern Berlin announced that Oberbürgermeister Fritz Ebert would make a statement this morning on the "new plan for Berlin." However, this morning the special East magistrate meeting and the Ebert press conference were called off. No explanation was given.

Some observers connect this incident with the proceedings of the Social Democratic Party meeting completed last night in Hanover. The Socialists met in an attempt to reach agreement on a compromise constitution for the West German government. However, last night the Socialist party leaders turned down a compromise and submitted their own short-form constitution. Thus it would appear that there will be yet further delay in the establishment of the West German government. It had been hoped that the final details on the constitution would be agreed upon by German political leaders and the Western occupation powers at their meeting next Monday.

Thus if the Socialists and the Christian Democrats are going to continue their wrangling over the constitution for the West German government, the Communists will not be forced to act to lift the blockade in an effort to frustrate the formation of such a government.

Today the German Communists urge the Socialists not to cooperate with the right-wing Christian Democrats or with the Western occupation powers in forming the government. The Communists want to form a coalition with the Socialists to work for what they call the unity of Germany.

The blockade-lifitng fever which has spread throughout Berlin cooled somewhat today. Heinrich Rau, chairman of the Soviet zone economic council, denied that there have been any moves by his organization to reopen trade with Western Germany.

The issue now hinges on what the West German politicians achieve in the next four days. Representatives of the Socialists and the Christian Democrats will convene this weekend before they meet again on Monday with the Western military governors. If they work out a compromise by then and proceed with the formation of the West German government, the blockade-lifting fever will rise again.

If not and there is more delay, then there probably will be no change in the East-West split over Germany.

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

April 29, 2017

1949. Social Democrats Accuse Soviets of Espionage

Dueling Political Movements in West Germany
East German Foreign Minister Georg Dertinger at the swearing-in of the first cabinet of the newly founded German Democratic Republic, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

February 7, 1949

The Social Democratic Party in West Berlin and West Germany has long been known to have one of the best intelligence networks operating in the Soviet zone of Germany. The Socialists, who swept last December's Berlin elections, have been collecting information of Communist operations in the Russian-sponsored civil administrations of East Germany.

Today they announced that they have uncovered an espionage system in the Soviet zone in which the Soviet secret police force Germans to spy on other Germans who might not be in sympathy with Communist policy.

Willy Brandt, a Socialist party leader in Berlin, said this morning that for every one thousand Germans there are about four persons assigned to report to the secret police. If these Germans refuse, their families are threatened.

However, Brandt says that the Social Democratic Party already has a list of the names of five hundred of these informants which it soon intends to publish. These agents, he said, later will be punished for their activity.

The East German political leaders also are thinking in underground terms. Georg Dertinger, officer in the pro-Communist wing of the Christian Democratic Union, yesterday demanded the creation of a "German resistance movement" in the American, British, and French zones. This so-called "liberation movement," as he termed it, would be organized to eliminate Western German politicians now working with the Western Powers.

The British-licensed newspaper The Telegraph today reports the construction of a new underground, bomb-proof headquarters for the Soviet military command on the eastern outskirts of Berlin. The paper says the bunker consists of 370 rooms, has direct telephone communications with Moscow, and has its own electrical and air conditioning system. It took a year to complete. The site used to be a ball-bearing factory, dismantled by the Russians and later converted into a headquarters.

The bunker will be used, the paper says, in the event of an emergency.

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

April 28, 2017

1933. Hitler Complains of American Protests Against Nazi Antisemitism

"What Does America Think About the New Germany?"
Storefront in the United States with an American Jewish War Veterans sign supporting the boycott of Nazi Germany in the 1930s (source)
These articles are part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise of fascism.

Two months after Hitler assumed office as Chancellor, The New York Times reported his reaction to American protests against the Nazi regime's rabid antisemitism. His first year in power drew international protests and a boycott on German products. The ongoing pressure threatened Hitler's efforts to consolidate power.

In response to American protests, Hitler attempted to downplay Nazi antisemitism and accused the United States of hypocrisy by citing its own systemic racism, particularly the country's blanket restrictions on immigration from Asian countries and its refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing violent persecution in Germany.

From The New York Times, April 7, 1933:
Asserts We Have Least Right to Attack Anti-Semitism in View of Our Ban on Yellow Race
Demands Early Elimination of Their 'Preponderance' From German Cultural Life
Chancellor Says Newspapers Must Create Uniform Attitude—Admits 'Deplorable Phenomena'

BERLIN, April 6 — For the first time since he became Chancellor, Adolf Hitler issued a pronouncement on the Jewish question today, and this pronouncement was an endorsement of the anti-Semitic drive in Germany, together with a declaration that the United States had no business to protest because of its own racial discrimination through an immigration embargo.

The Chancellor expressed his views at a reception to the new leaders of the German Federation of Medical Associations, which, like many other organizations, has been placed under a National Socialist commissioner. His statement destroyed the hopes of those who had interpreted his silence during the height of the anti-Jewish boycott as disapproval of it.

"We must meet the natural demand of Germany for intellectual leadership according to our own kind by the early elimination of the preponderance of Jewish intellectuals from our cultural and spiritual life," Chancellor Hitler said. "True intellectual achievements have never been made by racial aliens, but always by strictly Aryan Germanic spiritual forces.

Denies Germans Are Inferior

"Considering the narrow confines within which German intellectual work has been restricted, our own people have an actual moral right to first-place preference. The admission of too large a number of aliens in comparison with the total number of our people might be interpreted as acknowledgment of the intellectual inferiority of our race, which we most certainly deny."

Referring to protests in the United States against the anti-Semitic tendencies of the regime in Germany, Herr Hitler said:

"America, which leads all other countries in the strong counter-movement, has least of all had reason for the protest. The American people were the first to draw practical political consequences from the differentiation of races. Through its immigration law America has inhibited the unwelcome influx of such races as it has been unable to tolerate within its midst.

"Nor is America ready now to open its doors to Jews 'fleeing from Germany.'"

The Chancellor called upon German doctors to lead in the movement to refine the German race.

"The hygienic purging process now under way may not show its results for a hundred years, but our first aim is to provide a firm foundation for future political development," he said.
Admits "Deplorable Phenomena"

Addressing a gathering of German provincial editors tonight, Chancellor Hitler for the first time admitted "deplorable phenomena" in effectuating the national revolution, but laid the blame on previous governments, which, he said, had pent up explosive forces in Germany, and the unsympathetic outside world, which had not recognized Germany's aspirations.

Then the Chancellor told the editors that their duty was to cooperate in creating a uniform attitude of mind and will in the German people in support of the new regime.

Going back to 1918 for excuses for the "deplorable phenomena" that he admitted, Chancellor Hitler declared that the repression of the national opposition to the regimes since then and the opposition of Germany's natural claims by the outside world had led inevitably to a damming up of explosive forces that in the end had to lead to a national overturn.

"It was inevitable under such circumstances that developments must be accompanied by some deplorable phenomena, but these should be judged not from a static and objective standpoint, but in reference to the psychology of war," the Chancellor said. "It will be a blessing indeed if the proper insight of reasonable persons will smooth the way for the government, but it is the duty of the government to carry through the measures it considers necessary for the good of the nation even in the face of resistance."

Calls Press Means to an End

In these great days, Herr Hitler said in conclusion, the press had a mission to perform; it must recognize that it was not an end in itself but a means to an end, and this end was cooperation in creating a uniform attitude of mind and will on the part of the German people.

"The right to criticism must be limited to the service of the truth!" he exclaimed. "It is quite intolerable that criticism should be turned into a cloak for treasonable attempts against the vital interests of the nation."

Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, announced at the same gathering that a new press law would be issued soon. He said the press was "indispensable to the government forces."

As evidence of this indispensability he declared that the government sought more confidential relations with the press than former governments enjoyed, and as proof of the genuineness of its wish to procure such relations he cited the fact that the government had placed the press under the direction of his Propaganda Ministry.

Of the forthcoming press law Dr. Goebbels said:

"It will newly regulate the relation of the press to political forces supporting the State and will establish the occupation status of journalists clearly and unequivocally. It will give unto the press what belongs to the press but will also secure the government's due rights.

"Like all revolutions, this one has created facts giving rise to a new legal situation. In one way or another all facts must accept this state of affairs, whether for or against the new regime. Opposition is futile. The government can only hope that the entire German press will recognize not only the irrevocableness of the overturn but also its inherent greatness and historic import.

"The idea of unqualified freedom of the press belongs to that period of liberalism that we have done with. It was a notion of liberty that derived from an idea of individual freedom that really degenerated into lawlessness."
"Four Nazi troops sing in front of the Berlin branch of the Woolworth Co. store during the movement to boycott Jewish presence in Germany," March 1, 1933 (source)
Later that year New York Times correspondent Otto D. Tolischus wrote about Germany's concerns about American public opinion. He spoke with the mayor of Mannheim, Carl Renninger, who vigorously defended the Nazis.

From The New York Times, August 22, 1933:
Hostility of Other Nations to Nazi Measures Begins to Trouble Them
But Mayor of Mannheim Shows Wealth of Confidence in Steps Guided by Hitler


MANNHEIM, Germany, Aug. 21 — The question which the American traveler in Germany is beginning to hear more and more frequently and with an increasingly understanding tone is, "What does America think about the new Germany?"

The Reich Ministry of Propaganda has given up the effort to conceal Germany's isolation, and the waves of hostility swirling around the country trouble the sleep of responsible persons, especially in an industrial town like Mannheim, where foreign antagonism means canceled orders, which in turn impede the attainment of the Nazis' prime objective, on which they stake their existence—namely, a solution of the unemployment problem.

The hostility in most countries is explained by Germans, at least to their own satisfaction, as old political and commercial rivalries, but the attitude of America is watched, especially because of America's decisive role in world economy and because the Germans are convinced America is beginning to swing into the Fascist camp.

The parallelism, even if there is no identity between the measures of President Roosevelt and those of Chancellor Hitler, is a favorite topic of discussion in Germany, especially among those who believe the Fascist ideology is destined to conquer the world. If told that American public opinion is less friendly, Germans point with pride to the achievements of Hitlerism—restoration of law and order, political peace, reduction of unemployment, an economic upswing and a new atmosphere of hope and national self-respect.

And the average tourist might easily be persuaded of the truth of these claims. On the surface Germany never was more orderly or more peaceful than she is today. The political struggle of the last few years, which resembled civil war and took a daily toll of dead and wounded in some parts of the country, has come to an end. The Nazis rule supreme, and their rule is so firmly entrenched that they are able to dispense a constant show of force.

In Mannheim, for instance, there are few outward signs of the national revolution. Since some Nazis attempted to use a hypnotic influence of their uniforms on the authorities for their own private profit, the uniforms have been forbidden except while Nazis are on duty and have practically disappeared from the streets. Only on Sundays, when Nazis hold propaganda marches, singing "To the Guns, People," does the new regime become more visible.

To find the national revolution at work it is necessary to read the Nazi press, investigate the situation of the Jews and "Marxists," view the concentration camps, learn of the daily arrests of political opponents of the Nazis, realize the suppression of political freedom, liberty of the press and freedom of assembly, and watch the people furtively look around before talking.

When responsible Nazis are told that America is unable to understand these things, the answer is likely to be the same as that given to a correspondent by Carl Renninger, manufacturer, who is now Mayor of Mannheim and who commands the respect even of his opponents because of his efficiency.

Says We Face Problem of Reds

"Who does America understand?" he exclaimed. "We take the Communists and put them into camps, where they learn to work and are taught to become human beings. America herself will have to face the Communist problem some day.

"The Jews? They have nothing to fear from us. They can buy and sell here, own property and conduct their business. But when they attempt to govern us and take leading positions in public and business organizations, we say no. So long as they keep to themselves and attend to their own business no one will harm them."
Mannheim Mayor Carl Renninger in 1933
When the correspondent called attention to the attacks of the Nazi press Herr Renninger said:

"Well, every so often it is necessary to use a club. Some believe we are not serious and begin to resume their old ways. These must be put in their place. This part of the program will be carried out rigorously. We want the Jews to make no mistake about it. Once they realize this they will find their place and the friction will end."

The principal aim of the Nazi regime, Herr Renninger said, was to restore confidence and order and to persuade business to go ahead with the conviction that "now is the time."

"Many are sitting back waiting, saying, 'Let the State do it,'" he asserted. "This is not the idea. Help must come from private initiative. On the other hand, many projects are ripe for execution. Here is where the city comes in. We spent 20,000,000 marks annually on welfare support. Now we take the money of this fund and put it to productive work. This, together with private sums available, creates new values and puts men to work, who in turn provide employment for other men and thus start a wave of general recovery.

"America has tried to start the same process by raising prices. We start at the bottom and go a harder but, we believe, a healthier road.

"The best thing in the Nazi movement is idealism—a desire to do something for the sake of the idea, without expectation of personal reward. The vast majority realize Chancellor Hitler's idealism and, therefore, support him. Thank God for Adolf Hitler, he has made the German people one united nation."

April 27, 2017

1943. Axis Forces Encircled Near Rostov

Nazis Face Another Stalingrad-Like Disaster
"Disaster Threatens Nazis in Donets: Sweeping gains for the Russian armies north of Rostov, threatening a Stalingrad-like disaster for 500,000 Nazis in the Donets area, were reported yesterday as the Reds captured rail junctions cutting off main avenues of retreat. As Soviets (1) menaced Kharkov, other Slavic forces in the Caucasus (2) pushed on after seizing Krasnodar. Ponyri (A) was captured and the Soviets pushed on toward Orel. The lined area is Russian-held and the black line represents the approximate battle front"
Distributed by the International News Service and printed in The Charleston Gazette, February 14, 1943, pp. 1-2:
Soviets Win Major Railways, Cut Retreat of 500,0000 Nazis
Foe Said Putting Torch to Rostov
Disaster Akin to Stalingrad Threatening Germans In Donets Area

MOSCOW, Feb. 13 (INS) — Soviet troops today captured Novocherkassk to drive within 20 miles northeast of Rostov, and simultaneously occupied Zolochev, 20 miles northwest of Kharkov, where they cut another major railway leading to central Russia.

A special communiqué tonight also disclosed occupation of the key junction of Likhaya, 62 miles north of Rostov where the Voronezh-Rostov railway crosses both the northern crook of the Donets river bend and the Stalingrad-Donets rail line.

Rostov Reported Afire

Driving down the railway from Voronezh, the same Russian column overran Zverevo, five miles below Likhaya and 57 north of Rostov around which an arc was rapidly closing the north, northeast and south.

(Bill Downs, CBS correspondent at Moscow, broadcast unconfirmed reports in the Soviet capital that the Germans are setting the "entire city" of Rostov afire. A London broadcast heard by CBS said the Nazi garrison at the Caucasian gateway city was being shelled from three sides and that the Germans had "already lost their advance fortifications, but their defense is most stubborn.")

The special bulletin also announced the capture of Novo-Shakhty, 15 miles northwest of Shakhty, which is 10 miles above Novocherkassk. Shakhty was occupied Friday and the Red Army now controls the entire railway from Voronezh through that town down to Novocherkassk.

Some 125 miles northwest of Novocherkassk, Gen. Nikolai F. Vatutin's army was declared earlier to have overrun another 45 enemy strong-points south of the vital junction of Krasnoarmeisk, occupied Friday. This push came to within 70 miles above the northern Azov seacoast and 25 miles north of Stalino, controlling the last rail line of retreat left to an estimated half million German troops in the Donets-Rostov region.

Rout Like Stalingrad Looms

A disaster akin to that of Stalingrad threatened hourly to overtake the latter enemy forces.

Russian capture of Zolochev, announced in the special communiqué, cut the sixth of eight railways radiating out of Kharkov. Zolochev lies 20 miles northwest of the Ukrainian industrial capital on the line to Bryansk, 200 miles southwest of Moscow.

Its capture meant that one of at least four Russian armies, which have converged to within 18 miles of Kharkov, by-passed the queen city of the Ukraine on the north in a westward overland advance of some 20 miles from the Belgorod-Kharkov rail line.

Only 2 Rails Open

Only two of the eight trunk railways leading out of Kharkov remain available for the escape of the huge German garrison now threatened with complete encirclement. One leads due west to the Ukrainian administrative capital of Kiev, 160 miles away, with a branch threading northwest to Konotop and the western Russian rail system. The other runs 130 miles southwest to the German base of Dniepropetrovsk on the Dnieper river bend, already menaced by a Soviet column that captured Lozovaya, 65 miles to the northeast.

The closest Russian spearhead aimed at Kharkov was last reported striking beyond Chuguyev to a point less than 18 miles east-southeast of the "Russian Pittsburgh."

"On Feb. 13," said the special Soviet bulletin, "our forces as the result of a determined attack captured the town of Novocherkassk. Units under the command of Maj. Gen. Lutvenko were the first to break into the town. Troops of Maj. Gen. Shlemin, continuing the offensive, captured the town and large railway junction of Likhaya and the town and railway station of Zverevo.

"Our troops also captured the town of Novo-Shakhty.

"In the Ukraine as a result of stubborn fighting our troops occupied the town and railway station of Zolochev."

Likhaya, one of the most bitterly defended German strongholds in the south, already had been bypassed on the east by Soviet columns which had fought their way across the Donets bend to break the main German defense line shielding Rostov from the north.

April 26, 2017

1944. Clearing the Channel Coast

Nazis on the Defensive Across France and Belgium
"Buffalo amphibious vehicles taking Canadians across the Scheldt in Zeeland" September 1944 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Brussels

September 6, 1944 (second dispatch)

This is Bill Downs speaking from Brussels.

British and Canadian forces now have created another pocket which, when it is cleared up, may develop into another victory larger than the Normandy bag.

We have very few details as to the exact dimensions of the coastal pocket south of Antwerp, but roughly the Allied line extends from Antwerp through Ghent, southward to Brussels, then down to Lille, and cuts eastward to the area of Boulogne.

Some estimates say that perhaps 200,000 Germans are in this pocket. Other estimates are more conservative, saying perhaps there are 120,00 Nazis trapped in the coastal bag. The Germans are trying to filter through the extended Allied lines, but not many are getting out, chiefly because they simply do not have the transport to carry them—and it is a long walk back to Germany.

The British drive northward has paused the past two days, one reason being that the tanks and troops had to wait for their supplies to catch up with them. And then there is the question of this pocket. The Canadian and British string is drawing tighter around this bag, and some troops are being diverted to take care of it.

However, the one thing that has marked this advance by the British troops has been the work of the supply echelons. This army has advanced 205 miles in six days without a hitch.

The men who drive and load the trucks have done such excellent work that General Dempsey, commander of the British Second Army, addressed an order of the day to the Royal Army Service Corps praising their work. He said that the final defeat of the German army depends to a large extent upon the speed and efficiency with which gasoline and other stores reach the fighting men. And General Dempsey called on all supply troops to make a special effort until victory is complete.

Everyone is thinking in terms of complete and final victory very soon. And the way the armies are rolling, it does not appear to be very far in the future.

However, there is still fighting to be done, and there are still Nazis bearing arms to be killed.

The Battle of Belgium has for all intents and purposes been won the past three days. Next comes the Battle of Germany, the last battle of this war.

April 25, 2017

1933. Second World War is Unlikely to Happen, Says Expert

War Less Expected Than We Think
Nazi "Grand Tattoo" ceremony in Nuremberg marking the end of the 7th Party Congress on September 16, 1935 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise of fascism. In 1933, Dr. Earle B. Babcock of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace made the case that, despite the tensions afflicting Europe, another major war was unlikely to take place in the near future due to increasing international political cooperation and economic interdependence. He highlighted the Balkan States and Franco-German relations as examples.

From The New York Times, December 3, 1933, pp. 1, 8:
Finds War Less Expected In Europe Than We Think
Dr. Babcock Declares No Government or Responsible Statesman Wants It and Reports Gains in Organizing Peace
Assistant Director of European Centre, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

On my return to the United States after long residence and extensive travel in Europe, I have been surprised to find that there seems to be more doubt in this country about the possibility of maintaining peace and more fear that war is inevitable than exists in Europe. Most authoritative opinion there seems to me to be steadily and increasingly confident that war is not on the immediate horizon. From time to time, to be sure, incidents take place which give rise to rumors and furnish aid and comfort to those elements in all countries which have special interest in fomenting discord and distrust. The statements, which are made from time to time in America by returning travelers to the effect that war is inevitable in the near future because all Europe desires it, appear to me unfounded, misleading and subversive.

The truth is, no European people and no government or responsible statesman in Europe today desires war or feels that a war under present conditions offers any promise of correcting existing injustices, dissatisfaction and misery. These facts should be borne in mind by those who, because of their fear regarding the stability of peace, are doubtful about the possibility of world economic recovery.

A Question of Strength

It is, of course, unwise to play the role of prophet and no one can foresee what the situation will be in ten, fifteen or twenty years. It is, however, safe to say, I think, that so long as the countries which are opposed to a new Armageddon because they would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by it are so strong, and those which on account of their grievances and sufferings might in desperation have recourse to violence because they feel that anything is preferable to their present condition, are weak, there is no danger of a general conflagration. It is true that at some point in the future, unless the necessary machinery and technique for the solution of international disputes are set up and enabled to function, the age-long principle that the final arbiter is war will again triumph. The question is whether in the intervening years of grace these agencies can be organized on a firm foundation or not.

Progress Being Made

After all, in spite of the complexity of detail and the varied interests and points of view involved, which on the surface appear baffling and hopeless, there are certain general principles that are simple enough when disengaged from the confusion of thought now so prevalent concerning them. In spite of apparent chaos, selfish interests and a disconcerting growth of nationalistic feeling everywhere apparent, my own conviction is that constant and definite progress is being made along fundamental and constructive lines which may be built into the foundations of the edifice of peace. It is obvious that I can attempt here merely to indicate a few of these encouraging developments. They are only important if the general thesis be correct that through positive, vigorous and persistent effort alone can, to quote Nicholas Murray Butler, the "ideal of human liberty, justice and the honorable conduct of an orderly and humane society," upon which durable peace must rest, be attained. There is no need, in Europe, at least, to insist upon the brutality, wastefulness and stupidity of war and to point out the advantages of peace. The horror of the recent world conflict and its consequences are still so evident that such negative and high-pressure propaganda is futile.

What is now needed is not the pledge of young men to refuse to fight even in defense of their own country, but a determination on their part to contribute in every way possible to finding a substitute for fighting. It must not be forgotten that the mere suppression of war, essential though it be, will not correct injustices and well-founded grievances. The old conception of the inherent right of any people to have recourse to war for the purpose of redressing wrong and injury is now clearly seen to be open to two main objections: First, the obvious danger of permitting one party to a dispute to decide that armed conflict is justified and to provoke the struggle, and, secondly, the obvious uncertainty that the outcome would relieve and not aggravate the conditions previously existing.

Aristide Briand, after signing the Pact of Paris at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris on Aug. 27, 1928, remarked, "We have now declared peace. Our remaining task is to organize it." Experience has shown that the organization of peace presents great difficulties which can only be overcome when the public opinion of the world recognizes the soundness of certain contentions about which there is as yet no general agreement, although they seem to me axiomatic. First, the analogy between the State in the community of nations and the individual in the State is complete in so far as security and freedom of action are concerned. Second, in an environment of disorganized, uncontrolled anarchy the individual or the nation must depend upon his or its own strength to resist aggression. It has taken many centuries for the civilized nations to solve imperfectly the problem of the relations of the individual to the State. It is not surprising that in the few years which have elapsed since the end of the great war the more complicated problem of working out a successful association of nations which will accomplish the same purpose has not been completed.

Mobilization of Opinion

An optimistic or pessimistic attitude as to the future must be based, it seems to me, on the conviction that progress is being made toward this great end or that we are further from its realization now than a few years ago. The curious and false notion that an agreement on the part of any country to throw its influence against an aggressor nation means sending its young men to fight in distant lands must be eliminated. It is precisely to prevent such an unfortunate occurrence that the overwhelming power of world opinion should be mobilized in favor of a united stand against aggression.

That an agreement to take automatic and speedy action against the law-breaking nation on the part of all the civilized nations is possible in the near future does not seem likely. Therefore, M. Briand proposed a European Federal Union, both economic and political, in order that the European countries could bring about a return of prosperity in an atmosphere of security and confidence. It now appears undeniable as he had in mind, which, of course, could not be a United States of Europe, is not immediately possible. It has long been my conviction that regional understandings and ententes must precede the ultimate European union just as a European federation of some sort will come before world organization for peace, which is the final goal.

Under the guidance and direction of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler the European Centre of the Carnegie Endowment has taken for several years an active interest in the drawing together of certain of the smaller European States into larger groups wherever there are sufficient economic solidarity and common interests to make such a development practicable.

A Balkan Example

As an illustration of what can be accomplished along these lines and the method of procedure, I may cite the rapprochement among the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula, which I have personally observed for the last four years. I recently returned from attending the meetings of the Fourth Balkan Conference, held at Saloniki from Nov. 5 to 12. The first conference met at Athens in October, 1930, the second at Istanbul in 1931 and the third at Bucharest in 1932. I have had the privilege of being present at all of these reunions, to which delegates selected from many fields of activity came from each of the six Balkan States, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania, Turkey and Yugoslavia. At each conference notable progress has been made in the fields of economic and political cooperation. The fourth conference met several weeks later than was originally proposed because of recent remarkable diplomatic activity in the Balkans, the results of which it seemed advisable to observe.

First, at Angora the Greek and Turkish statesmen signed a new Greco-Turkish pact strengthening the friendship and cooperation existing between the two countries since the first agreement was ratified, three years ago. The new and striking features of this pact are the actual guarantee of the present frontiers and the clause promising consultation and united action in all international negotiations. The importance of these agreements is not confined to the two States directly concerned, but they have aroused keen interest throughout the Balkans and have powerfully stimulated the movement toward a Balkan union.

Visits Viewed as Proof

Proof of this wider interest is furnished by the visits of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, first to King Carol of Rumania and then to King Boris of Bulgaria, next to the President of the Turkish Republic and finally to Greece. Soon afterward, M. Titulescu, the Rumanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, went to Sofia, Angora and Athens. As a result of these conversations a pact of friendship and arbitration has been signed by Turkey and Yugoslavia, and important rapprochements have taken place between Greece and Bulgaria, as well as between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. The greatest significance of all these developments lies in the fact that they show a realization on the part of the Balkan peoples of the necessity of mutual cooperation for the maintenance of peace and the organization of economic solidarity.

At the fourth conference the draft of a Balkan pact, which the Bulgarians refused to discuss a year ago, was signed by the heads of all delegations, although Bulgaria made certain reservations. While this action had no official character, the project will now be presented to all the governments concerned.

The fourth conference also registered important progress in the vitally important field of economic cooperation: Development of communications, collaboration in social and hygienic policy, intellectual rapprochement, a partial Balkan customs union, an inter-Balkan Chamber of Commerce, etc.

Consequences Are Important

The actual accomplishment along the above lines is not the most significant development in the Balkans. The gratifying and remarkable change in public opinion in all the Balkan States from latent hostility to a friendly policy of conciliation and a friendly settlement of difficulties, the preparing the way for the notable official action due to the diplomatic movement indicated above and the knowledge spread among the Balkan States about each other are the finest achievements of these annual conferences and the constant activity which is carried on in the intervals between them. The Carnegie Endowment has closely followed and encouraged this movement from its inception, because of our belief that the spirit and attitude shown in these discussions, the resolutions which have been passed and the technique that has been developed, may well serve as a model for similar agreements elsewhere. It must be remembered that the attempt to create a Balkan union will have important consequences for the whole of Europe. These understandings, because of the improvement in economic and financial conditions, the restoration of confidence in the stability of the areas concerned and the resulting improvement in economic and financial conditions will have an importance extending beyond the regions themselves.

When one recalls the centuries during which the Balkan Peninsula was a centre for the Continental bitterness and the cradle of wars, the fact is amazing that it has now become the theatre in the world today where the most constructive, carefully planned and promising attempt to organize peace is being worked out. Even in Macedonia, which presents the most difficult problems, the bloody massacres which occurred so frequently in the past have now ceased.

The States that border on the Baltic Sea, which formerly belonged to Russia, because of their pre-war history and the ancient rivalry of Russia and Germany for supremacy afford an interesting problem and opportunity. The important convention signed last July in London by all the neighbors of Russia with the Soviet Republic defining aggression so definitely that there can be no doubt in the future as to the facts and the recent statements of both the Polish and the German Governments that they will attempt to bring about no territorial changes in the status quo except within the framework and provisions of the peace treaties, have prepared the way for an economic union of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on the basis of friendly cooperation with the Scandinavian countries, Germany and Poland, the interest and importance of which may prove to be quite comparable to the Balkan Entente.

Possibilities of Anschluss

The complex and difficult problems presented by the situation of the Danubian States are perhaps the most pressing at the present time. Unless they are solved before many months have passed, the Anschluss, i.e. the domination of Austria by Germany with all its implications, which would break up Czechoslovakia and quickly draw Hungary and ultimately most of Mitteleuropa into the German orbit, can hardly be avoided. The obvious solution would be an economic confederation of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia that would relieve the dire distress prevailing in the first two countries as well as the extended unemployment in the latter. Whatever may be justly said against the political weaknesses and absurdities of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, as an economic unit it worked fairly well. But here as elsewhere, the obvious steps to take from the economic point of view are made difficult for political reasons, chiefly because of dissatisfaction with the present frontiers and the large minorities which have always existed.

Whether important peril will postpone their demands for frontier rectifications until the present crisis has passed is well nigh impossible to foresee. There is reason to believe, however, that the turning of Yugoslavia and Rumania toward the Balkans will enable the third member of the Little Entente, Czechoslovakia, to remove the trade barriers between itself and Hungary and Austria. Then friendly commercial agreements could easily be made with Germany on the one hand and Italy on the other, and the danger of violence and upheaval in this whole vast region would disappear.

Contributions to Friendship

I therefore reiterate my belief, often expressed in the past, that such regional understandings as have been described above, because of the improvements which they would bring in economic and financial conditions and the restoration of confidence which they justify in the stability of peace, will contribute powerfully to that ultimate reconciliation of France and Germany without which no permanent peace in Europe is possible.

In paraphrase of an often-quoted remark of Elihu Root, I may say without fear of contradiction that there is no problem in Europe so serious that it cannot be peaceably solved if those two great peoples see eye to eye, and there is no dispute so trivial that it cannot become the cause of war if they are not in agreement.

In spite of the withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations, an act which in my opinion was taken largely for reasons of internal politics, and the truculent statements in the Nazi official program, I am confident that Mr. Hitler does not at present want international complications of any kind and least of all war. For many years Germany's efforts and energies will be completely absorbed by her internal difficulties and the rebuilding of her material resources and moral prestige. The improved relations between Germany and Poland, which are the result of the conciliatory attitude of the German Chancellor, may well be extended now to Franco-German relations.

German Demand Neutral

The demand of Germany for equality of armament is natural and justifiable. It is intolerable to a proud people that its extensive frontiers should be defenseless against possible attacks from its neighbors and that it should be subject to the pressure which may be exerted because of this defenseless condition. Recent refusals of equality of armament, granted in theory but withheld in fact, is due to the conviction that ultimately Germany would use the relative superiority which she would obtain because of her industrial organization and chemical industry, either through disarmament of the other nations or by her own rearmament, for the purpose of obtaining by force what she has failed to get by other means.

The official announcement that Germany intends to incorporate ultimately into the Third Reich those portions of the neighboring countries which contain German minorities, beginning with the whole of Austria, has caused consternation everywhere and has provoked military demonstrations in Switzerland, Belgium and elsewhere. That there would be general resistance to such a plan cannot be doubted, but the excitement which the announcement of the plan has caused is due mainly, I think, to the failure to take into account the internal situation in Germany and the circumstances under which it was formulated. We must remember that the strength of Germany today, financial, naval and military, is relatively very inferior to what it was in 1914.

Furthermore, she has no alliances upon which she could count, the danger of the Anschluss and the Nazi regime in Germany having weakened the sympathies for her of Italy, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria. The Little Entente and Poland are prepared to defend themselves vigorously and effectively. Although France has greatly reduced the size of her army and the length of military service and the entire nation is opposed to any war, she feels now relatively secure behind the great fortifications erected along the Franco-German frontier. Even admitting that there may have been considerable rearmament in Germany and that this may continue, the German Military Staff after its latest experience is not likely to take any chances or to countenance a new war until it is practically certain of a rapid victory, knowing well that a prolonged conflict would ruin both victors and the vanquished.

Saar Basin a Big Factor

Germany and France are in many ways natural allies, each contributing what the other lacks, and they are not rivals in industry or agriculture. When the Saar basin has been returned to Germany there will be no territorial dispute, as Mr. Hitler himself has said, between the two countries. The only things that keep them apart are the humiliation to which Germany has been subjected by the Treaty of Versailles and the fear of France of future aggression on her part. Germany objected to the military and territorial clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, as well as those dealing with reparations. Many of her objectives since the armistice have been attained. Control of armaments in Germany by an inter-allied commission has disappeared. The allied troops have left the Rhine and reparation payments have been substantially canceled.

Direct negotiations between the German and French Governments can do much to give the German people the future satisfaction they require and to which they are entitled. I believe that France will respond to the conciliatory and friendly attitude of Mr. Hitler and that the necessary effort will be made on both sides to reach an agreement. This will, of course, take time. One of the obstacles in the way of action by France is the difficulty of forming a Cabinet which can command a stable majority in the Chamber of Deputies in the Senate. This is not due to any disagreement about the foreign policy of the country.

Followed Briand Plans

In fact, in spite of severe and unjust criticism of the policies of M. Briand which have appeared in the nationalistic press, every French Foreign Minister and every government since his hand left the helm have followed the lines he laid down. A reading of the Parisian press gives a false idea of the attitude of the French people on international questions. Such provincial papers as Le Petit Marseillais and La Dépêche de Toulouse give a fairer picture of the opinions and aspirations of the French people. The difficulty in forming a stable government is due to the perennial conflict between French foreign and financial policies. The French people and Parliament are becoming constantly more liberal in questions of foreign policy but they are rigidly conservative where financial matters are involved. MM. Herriot, Daladier and Sarraut, all members of the Radical Socialist Party, which is the most powerful in France at the present time, are in substantial agreement and have the approval of Parliament in their foreign policy, but they cannot get support for their fiscal policy in a chamber where a majority of the Deputies belong to the Radical Socialist and Socialist parties.

It is essential that Great Britain, France and Italy remain in that close and effective collaboration which will be required during an indefinite period to bring about an understanding between Germany and France. The last obstacle to direct negotiations between the governments of these two countries, the fear of France that she will alienate by such action her former allies and friends, has disappeared. The Italian Duce does not approve of an adjustment of these questions as at present constituted. By direct agreement with Germany, Poland has given the example to France as to how to proceed. The Little Entente is not unfavorable to anything which will lessen its fear of German aggression and the closing part of the great speech of Stanley Baldwin in the House of Commons on Nov. 27, as reported in The New York Times, contains noble words, giving unstinted approval of, and offering generous cooperation in France in her great adventure.

"We want France to get in direct touch with Germany and we will do all in our power to help those two nations to reach an understanding," he said.

Under League Auspices

"After this when the governments of the other countries have had these bilateral parallel discussions on this grave question we hope and expect that disarmament proceedings will be resumed on the lines of the British convention under the auspices of the League. To France I would say this: They and we are inheritors and possessors of great and ancient civilizations. If what we have preserved and what we have to give to the world should be lost, then in my opinion the world would not be worth living in. Our interests are very close; our friendship with France is tried and secure. I hope she may be side by side with us in this struggle for a secure peace which they want from their souls as much as any man in this country."

This I believe to be the most significant and the most eloquent statement that any British statesman has made for many months. If it be true that no durable peace can be obtained in Europe without a Franco-German reconciliation it is equally true that this new understanding is impossible without the cordial collaboration of Great Britain. The next step would be a reorganization of the League of Nations, which will naturally and easily follow the above understandings. General reduction of armaments can then be obtained and the organization of peace will be well under way. This prospect is of such fundamental importance for the United States as well as for Europe that even slow and interrupted progress toward its fulfillment should be a cause of thanksgiving. We can reasonably hope and believe that we are nearer the goal now than at any time since the great war.

April 24, 2017

1945. Yokohama in Ruins

Desolation in Postwar Japan
"Japan's Emperor Hirohito in Yokohama during his first visit to see living conditions in the country since the end of the war, February 1946" (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedtsource)
Associated Press dispatch printed in the Hagerstown Daily Mail, August 30, 1945, pp. 1-2:
Yokohama Found Smashed To Bits
Japs Docile While Living Under Most Trying Conditions
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 30 (AP) — The trip to Yokohama by American troops of the 11th Airborne Division, who landed with General MacArthur at Atsugi airfield, was made in Japanese trucks and cars with Japanese soldier drivers, Bill Downs, CBS correspondent, reported today.

The dusty road between Atsugi and Yokohama, Downs said, was guarded by Japanese marines and sailors. Every hundred yards or so guards stood, backs to the road facing the fields and villages. It was explained that to the Japanese, the back facing sentinels were a mark of great respect as a common Japanese soldier does not stare at his betters.

The officers along the road saluted smartly as the Americans passed and their salutes were returned as smartly.

The people of Yokohama and the villages through which the party passed showed no emotion at all. They peeped from windows and stared with blank emotionless faces.

"As we drove into Yokohama," Downs said, "we saw at close hand the terrible effect of the bombing of this major seaport.

"The greater port of this city of more than a million has been reduced to a shanty town. Most of the people are living in makeshift shacks built of rusted, corrugated iron. Others had overturned great vats, boarding up the open ends, and are living in them.

"Some are living in caves, and still others have put lengths of sewer pipe together and sleep in them on straw. They do their cooking over open fires."

A few modern buildings which still are intact are being cleaned up by the Japanese to be turned over to Allied administrators and military commanders.

Frederick B. Opper, ABC correspondent, who likewise made the trip from Atsugi to Yokohama, reported similar conditions, saying, "the heart of Japan's greatest seaport city is smashed and desolate beyond recognition . . . It was burned to rubbish. In fact, a B-29 crew member who had participated in the raids on Yokohama whistled in disbelief as he saw what he and other airmen had done. Yokohama was an incendiary target and acres of the heart of the city are no more."

Opper reported the Japanese he saw seemed more bewildered and curious than angry. Japanese women seemed universally to have adopted baggy trousers in place of kimonos while all men were in some uniform or other.

"I was unable to talk to many Japs," Opper said, "although the few I engaged in conversation told me they were sick of the war, frightened out of their wits by the might of American air power."

April 23, 2017

1949. A Possible Price for Settlement of Europe's Postwar Problems

The Friction That Has Divided the World
A large portrait of Stalin looms over Unter den Linden in Berlin, June 3, 1945 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 6, 1949

Rumors of peace in the East-West Cold War are circulating in Germany today. Rumors say that Joseph Stalin has transmitted to the Western Powers Russia's price for settlement of Europe's postwar problems and an end to the friction that has divided the world.

West Berlin newspapers are basing their speculation on the forthcoming meeting of the American, British, and French foreign ministers in Paris this week—and on the projected meeting between Secretary of State Acheson and Russia's Andrey Vyshinsky.

According to unconfirmed reports published here, the Kremlin is promising a worldwide modus vivendi between the East and West in exchange for economic assistance to the Soviet Union and the nations in the Communist sphere of influence.

This is not the first time that such rumors have originated in this worried city. They appear at practically every major international conference. However, at the last Paris meeting this spring, the peace rumors were borne out; for out of that conference came the modus vivendi agreement on Berlin.

The East German Communist government has joined the chorus of the faithful, and today leaders of the new puppet administration have sent their notes of congratulation to Moscow on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It has been a weekend of receptions in East Berlin to demonstrate the new German-Soviet friendship. Ceremonies will continue through tomorrow, and the Communist-directed Radio Berlin will carry an unprecedented program: a broadcast of the military demonstration from Red Square in Moscow.

One of the problems facing the East and West German governments has been what to do about a national anthem. No one wants the old "Deutschland über Alles." Well, today the Communist state has solved the problem by publishing a new national hymn.

Its composer is Hanns Eisler, brother of Gerhard, the fugitive Communist. Eisler formerly composed film music for Hollywood.

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

April 22, 2017

1942. "Hitler Drives 3 Million from Their Homes"

The Enslavement of Europe
Labor office staff register the forced laborers at a transit camp in December 1942 (source)
Report printed in the Kansas City Kansan:
Hitler Drives 3 Million from Their Homes
"Master Plan" to Enslave Europe's Peoples Launched in Effort to Make Impossible any Internal Assistance to Second Front Invasion
United Press Staff Correspondent

London. — (UP) Adolf Hitler has launched a "master plan" to break the resistance of occupied Europe by deporting hundreds of thousands of enslaved peoples from their homelands, a United Press survey of information reaching refugee governments indicated today.

The primary purpose, of course, is to undermine and weaken the available help to an Allied second front army.

The refugee governments estimated that at least 3 million persons already had been deported from their homelands, most of them to Germany, and that thousands are being carted off daily from Holland, Belgium, France, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Denmark, and Greece.

In recent weeks the Germans were said to have accelerated the enforced migration as resistance and sabotage increased, and Nazi fears mounted that the Allies would open a second front soon.

A secondary purpose, it was believed, was to provide slave labor for Nazi war factories for construction gangs hastily erecting fortifications.

One refugee spokesman was confident that Hitler planned to take all the men from the troublesome areas and perhaps all the Jewish men, women, and children from Western Europe.

Denuding the troublesome or potentially troublesome areas of all their men would uproot potential leaders and paralyze further organized resistance.

Apparently Holland, which has been carrying on underground warfare almost continuously since the occupation, is to feel the most powerful effects of Hitler's master plan which reportedly involves the transportation of 3 million Dutch away from Netherlands, practically all of them males between the ages of 16 and 60.

April 21, 2017

1943. Joseph Stalin Hosts Top Dignitaries at the Kremlin

Toasts to the Future of the "Big Three" Alliance
The "Big Three" leaders Joseph Stalin,  at the Russian embassy during the Tehran Conference, December 1943
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

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

CBS Moscow

May 24, 1943

There were no essential changes last night on the Russian front. This morning's communiqué again mentions large German concentrations at Sevsk, about seventy-five miles west of Kursk. (Since the first of this month, the Russian communiqués have been carrying regular reports from what is called "the district of Sevsk." These reports tell of scouting operations by opposing reconnaissance groups. Last week Russian scouts located a big concentration of German tanks, and these were shelled. This morning the communiqué speaks of a big enemy infantry column near Sevsk.) When Red Army scouts discovered the column, the artillery opened up on it. Two German battalions were dispersed and partly wiped out. The district of Sevsk is a good one to keep an eye on.

Joe Stalin gave a banquet for Joe Davies at the Kremlin last night. (As a result, almost everyone who attended is just a little under the weather this morning. A Russian banquet is full of good spirits—a lot of which come out of a vodka glass.)

This morning I talked with some of the men who attended, and they said that everyone, including Stalin, enjoyed himself. The banquet was attended by the British ambassador and military missions as well as the American diplomatic and military representatives in this country.

Besides Mr. Stalin, the Russian dignitaries at the dinner included Mr. Molotov and three of the Soviet Union's most eminent military leaders—Marshal Voroshilov; Marshal Novikov, chief of the Red Army's air forces; General Golikov, who led the Red Army's drive at Voronezh last winter; and Admiral Kuznetzov, head of the Russian fleet.

The banquet was held in the Catherine the Great room at the Kremlin, a big white marble banquet hall lighted by shining rock-crystal chandeliers. The principal guests were seated at a long table, with Stalin seated in the center. Mr. Davies was on his right, and the British ambassador, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, sat on his left. Across the table directly opposite Stalin sat Mr. Molotov and Admiral Standley, the American ambassador.

There were eighteen toasts drank last night—Stalin did his—toasting in red wine, although most of the guests stuck to vodka.

Stalin made only one toast last night, and it was a good one. He lifted his glass and simply said: "To the armed forces of America and Britain."

Then General Mike Michaelis, the American military attaché here in Moscow—and a good guy—acting in his capacity as representative of the United States Army, lifted his glass and said "to the Red Army."

At this Stalin got out of his chair and walked several steps to the General and clicked glasses with him. It was the only such gesture that the Russian Premier made all evening.

Then Admiral Standley made what is regarded as the most significant toast of the evening. America's white-haired ambassador got to his feet and said: "Here's to the friendship and cooperation of the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States after the war."

After Admiral Standley sat down, the British ambassador immediately got to his feet and seconded the Admiral's toast with another, drinking to the mutual two-way cooperation among the governments.

Stalin clicked glasses with the ambassadors, both of whom were sitting near him, (to signify he understood the meaning of Admiral Standley's "two-way cooperation" toast.)

April 20, 2017

1944. "Nazi Bombers Hit Eindhoven" by Walter Cronkite

Liberation Celebration Cut Short
"A convoy of Allied lorries under enemy artillery and mortar fire on the road between Son and Eindhoven, Holland," September 20, 1944 (source)
Bill Downs and Walter Cronkite were trapped during a Nazi air raid on Eindhoven in the Netherlands in September 1944.

From the Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 22, 1944, p. 5:

Liberation Celebration Cut Short by Raid


Eindhoven, Holland, Sept. 20 — (Delayed) — (U.P.) This debris-littered town of 100,000, whose celebration of liberation by the allies was cut short by a German air raid, dug out Wednesday after its worst beating of the war—but still believing the price of freedom was not too high.

Sixty-five of the inhabitants were killed, 150 wounded seriously, and damage was estimated in millions of dollars.

Site of an important radio works, Eindhoven had known air raids before, both Germans and allied. None matched the one Tuesday night for suddenness and savagery.

Thirty minutes before the raid, crowds were cheering American and British soldiers who entered the town Monday afternoon.

Dutch flags which had been brought out of hiding after 4 years to fly for 24 gay, care-free hours along with bunting in bedecked streets, hung in burned shreds Wednesday from charred poles.

Streets where children had danced to accordion music, where crowds jammed around American traffic vehicles so thickly that traffic was halted were strewn with glass, brick, stone, and cherished possessions.

The anticlimax to the celebration came between 7 and 8 p.m.

A rumor, one that had been smouldering all afternoon, spread through the hilarious crowds that a German armored column was moving to counter-attack the town. The number of tanks grew in the telling from 3 to 117.

Actually some tanks did get through to within shelling distance of the main armored corridor and dropped a few rounds near a road north of here before they were eliminated.

As the rumors mounted, army quarters took them seriously and part of the troops were evacuated.

I was dining with Bill Downs of CBS at a hotel near the center of the city when I first noted panicky civilians outside running toward their homes. Then we learned part of the army had been ordered out and we started for headquarters.

We drove through an almost deserted city. From some of the windows the Dutch, fearful of German return, had removed flags and pictures of Queen Wilhelmina.

Most of the American and British troops seemed to be gone. A few civilians stood wonderingly before houses. They no longer cheered nor wore the carnival hats and funny false noses of a short while ago.

Just before we reached headquarters a lone German twin-engined bomber dropped orange, yellow and green flares.

The town was without air raid shelters so we sped toward the open country. We got only as far as the town park before the first bombers arrived.

We lay on the ground while the bombs ringed us and explosions within 100 feet showered us with twigs, branches and dirt. Shrapnel clipped through the leaves above. Ammunition exploded in deafening bursts followed by the eerie scream of the shrapnel whistling overhead.

Eindhoven was paying the fiddler.

Wednesday cheerfulness was returning to the town. As the allies pushed on toward the front, the inhabitants took time to look up from their brooms and shovels, smile and shout "hello."

April 19, 2017

1951. World War III in Asia?

Will World War III Begin in Asia?
See magazine, March 1951, p.10
From See magazine, March 1951:
By Bill Downs

Chief CBS Correspondent in the Far East

Exploding in Country After Country, Moscow-Made Powder Keg Threatens to Ignite a World Holocaust
The first time I heard the question asked was in Pusan, that odoriferous, overcrowded United Nations base on the southeast tip of Korea. It was asked by a young second lieutenant who, last August, had talked his way out of the American base hospital there. He had been wounded north of Taejon back in July when the 24th Division was trying to put a few-thousand-man cork in a military bottle 150 miles wide.

"I've got a hunch this is only the beginning," the lieutenant said. "Those Communists are going for something more than just this peninsula. Look at those Russian tanks—T-38s, the same that licked Hitler. Their artillery is good, too. Their mortars are murder.

His face was lined and thin and older than it should have been. The heat was intense and his leg wound still pained him. The only difference between the lieutenant and the soldiers I had seen up north was that the young officer had a hospital haircut, a shave and clean clothing. He looked reasonably free of fleas.

"Don't you think," he asked, "that this is the beginning of World War III?"

It is a legitimate question—even more valid now in early 1951 than in the early summer of 1950 when it looked as if the honor of the United States army and the international prestige of the United Nations might be drowned in the Pusan harbor.

I don't know what became of the second lieutenant. The magnificent 24th fought and died with heroism matching anything that happened at Bull Run, San Juan Hill, or Omaha Beach.

But the lieutenant's question needs an answer.

To my mind, the answer is: Yes, Korea is the beginning of World War III. The brilliant landings at Inchon and the cooperative efforts of the American armed forces with the United Nations Allies have won us a victory in Korea. But this is only the first battle in a major international struggle which now is engulfing the Far East and the entire world.

Facing us are three enormous problems.

The first problem is the world-wide struggle against Soviet Communism, Stalinism, Russian imperialism—whatever you want to call it—that now has the Far East and Europe on the razor's edge. The second problem is the struggle being fomented between the white man and the yellow man. The past history of the white man's conquests and exploitations in the Far East do not make pretty reading. The present difficulties in Asia are not only a challenge to the Western World but also an opportunity.

The challenge is to our ideals of individual freedom and democracy. The opportunity is for the United Nations to prove that these spiritual things are not only for the Western Hemisphere but also for the hordes of unhappy, miserable and hungry people of Korea, China, Indochina, India, Siam, Burma and the rest.

The third problem is economic. We found, when we went into Korea after the end of the second World War, that, when one Korean meets another Korean on a late afternoon stroll, he does not say, "Good evening," or "How's the little woman?" The formal greeting from one Korean to another is: "Have you had your evening meal?

The comment indicates the overwhelming poverty of the Far East. It also partially explains why the Oriental culture of about one-half of the world's population is willing to accept the spurious promises of Communism. The basic appeal is not to their political consciences—it is to their bellies.

When we first found ourselves committed in Korea, on July 27th, 1950, the reaction of the baffled officers and the green, badly trained troops was unanimous. "What a place to die!" they said. But they did die—and some are still dying.

The weather and fleas and mosquitoes and the rugged hills belied the historic descriptions of Korea—Choson, "The Land of the Morning Calm." Instead, the soldiers, with rough but typical soldiers' irreverence, called it "The Land of the Morning Calm, the Afternoon Attack and the Nightsoil." The main road leading from the former Red capital of Pyongyang through Seoul and Taejon to Taegu has been dubbed "Heartbreak Highway." The graves of those who died along this invasion route testify to the aptness of this name. But "Heartbreak Highway" does not end in Korea.

Even now, as we and our allies plan for the reconstruction and relief for thirty million Koreans, Communist-led troops are moving in Indochina and Tibet. They are mysterious names of little-known nations, but their conquest is just as dangerous to the people of America as if an enemy attempted to take Texas.

Indochina, fifteen hundred miles south of the Korean Peninsula on the Asiatic mainland, has about the same area as Texas.

Its southern capital, Saigon, is an Oriental version of Paris. Its people are more Indonesian than Chinese. As a French colony, Indochina has contributed great wealth to the French nation. The clumsy and often imperialistic policies of the French overseers created a deep-rooted hatred among the Indochinese natives. The West is now reaping the fruits of this hatred.

The French also have their "heartbreak highways" along Indochina's northern border with Communist China. A Communist-led army, as big as the North Korean force which struck across the 38th Parallel, has forced the French Foreign Legion to give up many border outposts and cede hundreds of square miles to the revolutionaries.

Although the uprising in Indochina is more of a nationalistic movement than a Communist one, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the rebels, is Moscow-trained and dedicated to Communism.

Like the Koreans, his men have great courage and skill in guerrilla fighting. During the past few years, they have been trained and armed by the Chinese Communists under China's Red leader, Mao Tse-Tung.

Strategically, Indochina is of great value to any aggressor. It is the gateway to Southeast Asia. It borders on Thailand. Indochina's coast curves around to form a flank on Formosa, considered by General MacArthur as indispensable to America's Pacific defense line. And, most important, Indochina's coast is only 800 miles across the South China Sea to the troubled Philippines.

Last October there was another dramatic move in the Far East pattern of Communist aggression—the Chinese Red invasion of Tibet.

Tibet is the stumbling block that has separated the two largest nations of the Far East—India and China. The alleged purpose of the invasion was to "liberate three million Tibetans from imperialistic oppression." This is obviously ridiculous since Tiber has been cut off from the outside world for centuries.

The Himalaya and Kunlun mountains that make up Tibet are too high and difficult for any extensive traffic. In fact, most of the nation is higher than our highest mountain, Mount Whitney in California.

Tibet's people are interested in three things: their flocks, their religion—and being left alone. However, early in 1950, the Chinese Communists advised the government of the 15-year-old Dalai Lama that Tibet—which he theoretically ruled—was to be a territory of the new Chinese People's Republic.

This statement vitally interested India, Tibet's neighbor to the south. India agreed to act as a go-between between the governments of Lhasa and Peking. The government of Pandit Nehru has long been attempting to establish itself as the neutral bridge between East and West—the moderator of disputes between nations.

India asked the Chinese Communists to "use moderation" in dealing with Tibet. The Peking government had every reason to accede. The Nehru government was carrying the cause of the Chinese Communists in the United Nations, presenting them as peaceful agrarian reformers who deserved to replace Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists in that organization. India argued that Mao Tse-tung was not interested in aggression, that Chinese Communism differed from Russian.

Then, embarrassingly, Chinese Communist troops began the invasion of Tibet. The move was a direct slap in the face of India, and there has since been a significant schism between Peking and New Delhi. India has declared she still will remain neutral in the struggle between East and West. But (as the Irish say) the Tibet incident may determine whom India will be "neutral against" hereafter. For Tibet has borders that touch—and now threaten—India, as well as Burma and Pakistan.

America's southern flank in the Southwest Pacific is the Philippines. When we granted them independence on July 4, 1946, the effect was felt throughout the Far East.

During the past five years, Washington has assisted them to the tune of more than two billion dollars in cash and materials. At first there were signs of post-war reconstruction and order in government. Then there were signs of decay. Great swindles occurred in the US war surplus material left in the islands. Election frauds and corruption in office became common. Production lagged. Finally, President Quirino asked the US to investigate. It did. Experts, headed by former under-Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Bell, exposed Philippine inefficiency and corruption. President Truman offered Manila another quarter of a billion dollars—but only on condition there be sweeping reforms.

Quirino has been having serious trouble with peasant revolutionaries called the Huks (short for Hukbalahaps). Their leadership is Communistic but the growing support they are getting in rural areas can be traced to government indifference and corruption.

The fundamental answer to the question of all-out war in the Orient now lies with the Communist regime of Mao Tse-tung in China. His 475 million subjects represent the biggest manpower reserve in the world.

There has been one encouraging development in the Far East, however. The recent armistice in the revolution in Indonesia, the islands to the south of Indochina, was one of the United Nations' first victories. A UN commission succeeded in stopping the bloodshed in Indonesia and forcing negotiation between the revolutionaries and the ruling Netherlands government. The upshot was the newly-born United States of Indonesia and a measure of independence viewed enviously by other peoples of the Far East.

Whether we like it or not, the USA has an inferential responsibility to the Indonesian government. When I first went to Batavia, shortly after the end of World War II, everywhere, painted on public buildings and on streetcars, were slogans reading: "All men are created equal," "Government of the people, by the people and for the people. There were other quotations from American history. Significantly, all the signs were printed in English.

World War III, which appears to have had its beginnings in the Far East, will not be won by force of arms alone. At present the Communists are doing much better than the Democracies in the ideological struggle. The young Chinese under Mao are dedicated men. There are those in Washington who argue that the hold of the Chinese Communist is unbreakable, but that Oriental Communism is a different brand than the Kremlin's. The school of thought urges that we try to convince Mao of the United Nations' good intentions—in other words, attempt to make him a Far Eastern Tito. Opponents charge that such a move would be craven appeasement.

Whatever the right answer, clearly we have many tasks before us in the Far East if the battles such as those fought in Korea and Indochina are to be kept under control.

First, the United Nations must be militarily strong. The American plan, adopted by the General Assembly of the UN, which provides a standing international police force to meet aggression wherever it occurs, is the first positive step towards preventing other "Koreas."

Secondly, as soon as possible in the Far East, the UN should attempt to ditch last-century imperialism inherited from the exploiting colonists. Finally, the ideals of personal freedom and individual justice must be "sold" to the people of the Far East.
But this is only the beginning of the job in the Orient. The easiest and best way of winning the East is with a full bowl of rice. Democracy, after all, is one philosophy that must be practiced with a full stomach.

See magazine, March 1951, p. 13