August 31, 2017

1949. John McCloy Poised to Head the Allied High Commission

McCloy Arrives in Occupied Berlin
Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy arrives in Berlin to attend the Potsdam Conference, July 15, 1945 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 3, 1949

The new American High Commissioner, John McCloy, is in Berlin today conferring with Allied and German officials as he takes over the direction of the United States stewardship of defeated Germany.

In his first full-dress news conference in military government headquarters here, McCloy said that there would be no immediate change in our occupation policies, and that through hard work and patience he hoped that a final and peaceful settlement of the East-West differences over Germany could be achieved.

At present McCloy has two titles. He is military governor of Germany until after the August 14 elections and the establishment of the West German state. After that there will no longer be a military governor but a High Commissioner. The difference in titles is significant, because as military governor McCloy has, as did General Clay, absolute power to order Germans in the American zone of occupation to do anything we dictate.

However, with the formation of the West German state, we have relinquished this life and death authority over our zone, and have reserved only those powers which will enable us to prevent Germany from again becoming a military nation. This means we reserve the power of limiting police organizations and other such measures to outlaw German militarism. We also have ordained international control of the Ruhr to prevent the reemergence of war industries there.

McCloy said he probably will need three headquarters in Germany: a headquarters in the West German capital of Bonn, a headquarters in Frankfurt, where military government machinery is located, and one in Berlin, the center of quadripartite negotiations.

Asked what he intended to do about the airlift now that Berlin's blockade has been lifted, McCloy replied that the question of stopping or tapering off aerial deliveries depended on three things: the stockpile of food and fuel in Berlin, the international political outlook in Germany, and military considerations.

The Anglo-American airlift delivered its two-millionth ton of supplies yesterday. To show something of the efficiency of Operation Vittles, it took eight months to deliver the first million tons. The second million was flown in in only four months.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 6, 1949

Serious efforts are underway this week to restore East-West trade in Germany—and subsequently in Europe—but discussions are surrounded by such political suspicion on both sides that the question of whether solid trade agreements can be reached still remains in doubt.

The West German trade delegation meets with the economic council of the Soviet zone tomorrow. However, typical of the political sparring now going on under the modus vivendi agreement between the Big Four powers are the military government meetings here.

The deputy military governors decided yesterday that the four Allied Berlin commandants will resume their conferences on the administration of this city. However, they decided that this would not be a resumption of the Allied Kommandatura, wherein, in the joint governing of the city, each nation can exercise a veto. The four Berlin commandants merely will sit down with each other, and if any decisions are made it will be the responsibility of each to carry out these decisions in his own way.

American High Commissioner John McCloy now is making a tour of West Germany to familiarize himself with his new job. He got along famously with the Soviet military governor, General Chuikov, when they met in Berlin last week.

Everyone agrees that McCloy is getting off to a good start here. His arrival is now official. The Communist newspaper Neues Deutschland this morning welcomes him with the first party-line blast. "McCloy is a cunning representative of Wall Street," the paper says. "He comes to Germany with a big checkbook to buy the German economy cheaply for America's capitalists."

British authorities have discovered a novel method of disseminating propaganda. The Elbe river crosses the Soviet-British zonal border southeast of Hamburg. A few weeks ago waterway police picked up two canisters floating in the river. They contained letters and drawings prepared by schoolchildren in the Soviet zone—propaganda messages attacking the Western Powers, obviously inspired by school authorities. This schoolwork is then sealed in the canisters, taken to the zonal border, and thrown in the river to be carried on into British territory.

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

August 30, 2017

1950. East and West Berlin Hold Dueling May Day Demonstrations

Opposing May Day Rallies in Berlin
"The partially restored Brandenburg Gate in Berlin decorated with flags, banners and slogans promoting a Festival of German Youth," May 1, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 29, 1950

Today begins the fateful May Day weekend for Berlin—and possible for all Germany and the world.

Next Monday, May 1, is the traditional Labor Day for Europe. This morning workers are constructing stands and loudspeaker systems in two places in downtown Berlin. On the east side of the Iron Curtain that bisects the city, Communist Germans are preparing the Lustgarten at the foot of Unter den Linden for the Soviet zone demonstration.

On the British side of the Brandenburg Gate, barely a mile away, West Berlin Germans are setting up their demonstration site in the Tiergarten before the ruins of the old Reichstag building.

Brandenburg Gate, ostensibly in the Russian sector, carries a new red banner for the occasion. It is the dividing line.

Monday morning the demonstrations will begin. Whether they will be anything more than the usual parades of trade unions and factory workers remains to be seen.

The Communists announce that their May Day celebrations will be the first test of the much-publicized March on Berlin scheduled by the Communist youth on May 28. The Communist People's Police will be included in the parading. Whether they display their new weapons, their tanks and armored cars, is questionable.

The West Berlin labor leaders label the Tiergarten as a demonstration for freedom and democracy and against Communism and tyranny.

Whether or not there will be peace on May Day depends on many unknown factors—the weather and the discipline of the opposing two mobs expected to gather so closely together.

The Communist check-off system probably will guarantee a crowd of two or three hundred thousand at the Lustgarten.

But the free Tiergarten demonstration depends upon the will of the West Berliner to show up at the Western meeting to demonstrate his support of the democratic idea as opposed to Communism.

In this sense, the size of the crowd at the West Berlin May Day demonstration is a test for the West.

American, British, and French occupation troops are on a standby basis, and coincidentally it has just been announced that the Air Force has sent two helicopters to Berlin. The announcement says—completely straight-faced—that they are here for National Defense Day on May 20.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 30, 1950

East Berlin workmen this morning are erecting no less than thirteen red flags atop the Brandenburg Gate at the Russian sector border in downtown Berlin—while a few hundred yards away, within sight of the gate, construction workers from West Berlin are putting up a big sign on the ruined Kroll Opera House which reads "Peace in Liberty."

This morning I went to the Tiergarten in the British sector and to the Lustgarten in the Russian sector of Berlin to see the final preparations for the two giant opposition May Day rallies scheduled tomorrow morning.

One's first impression is that the people who make bright red bunting have been working overtime, for everywhere you look there is a flag or a banner or a sign all done in red.

The main Communist slogan for this celebration is: "The first of May forever, the international fighting day of all working classes for peace, democracy, national independence, and socialism." It's a party line mouthful printed in giant letters above the speaker stand where German Communist bigwigs will review a six hour parade in the Russian sector tomorrow.

The West Berlin labor leaders have issued a proclamation to all citizens, calling for a fight against "Unity in Chains" and for "Peace in Liberty." The proclamation says the Western part of the city is the symbol of the people's will for democratic liberty, and asks the population to attend the Western protest demonstrations against slavery and dictatorship.

Serving as a reminder of more demonstrations to come, a statement on the Brandenburg Gate under the thirteen red flags advertises the May 28 Communist youth march on Berlin. The sign says "German boys and girls, Germany's capital awaits you."

The East German People's Police, now revealed as a nucleus army being organized by Russian authorities, is beginning to show itself for May Day. This morning I counted a half dozen of these young men guarding East Berlin government buildings along the American-Soviet sector border, all armed with rifles.

The contrast in the two May Day demonstrations tomorrow is revealed by their programs. The Communist-sponsored demonstration will feature drum and bugle corps of the Free German Jugend and their blue uniforms, flags, and banners. Also there will be a strong showing of crack units of the so-called People's Police, fully armed, most of whom will be dressed in black uniforms, as were Hitler's SS corps.

The West Berlin rally will start off with a symphony orchestra playing Beethoven's "Fidelio" motif—then speeches by Mayor Ernst Reuter, a representative from the Bonn government, and Irving Brown, European representative of the American Federation of Labor.

There also will be speeches from the Communist side. Party leader Walter Ulbricht sets the theme of these addresses this morning in an editorial in the Communist press.

"The future of the German people is threatened by the Anglo-American imperialists," Ulbricht says. "They are colonizing Western Germany and are preparing it for a military base."

Western authorities are confident that the West Berlin police can handle any disturbances that may break out tomorrow. But in case of an organized putsch against the American, British, and French sectors of the city, the occupation troops of these nations are standing by.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 1, 1950

West Berliners staged one of the biggest mass meetings in the history of this beleaguered city when almost a half million quiet and determined people put on a display of democratic force behind Russia's Iron Curtain.

The Western demonstration was held on the British-Russian sector border in front of the ruined Reichstag and within shouting distance of the Brandenburg Gate, where more than one hundred black-uniformed Communist People's Police guarded the Russian sector of the city against any possible mobs.

The Russian-sponsored demonstration in the Lustgarten at the other end of Unter den Linden drew upwards of three hundred thousand persons, and by comparison it was a better show with its military bands, its parading youth organizations, and the crack marching of the several thousand People's Police.

Both East and West Berlin authorities took unprecedented precautions to handle any rioting. The Russian memorial, which stands only one hundred yards inside the British sector, was ringed by British military police with sidearms and tear gas. A special Russian guard carried Tommy guns. Riot squads and fire hoses were ready. Overhead, British reconnaissance planes patrolled the area, watching for possible invasion mobs from the East. Two American Air Force helicopters made similar reconnaissance flights over our border nearby.

It has been reported that fifty thousand West Berliners stoned East German police at Potsdamer Platz this morning in the first May Day incident in this hottest spot of the Cold War.

The anti-Communist demonstrators were presumably departing from a giant mass meeting a few blocks away in the Tiergarten.

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 2, 1950

It was five years ago today that the remnants of Adolf Hitler's army bitterly surrendered the encircled city of Berlin to the Russian Army conquerors.

In many ways, the present Cold War for Berlin is just as bitter but, thank the heavens, not so bloody.

The entire city is proud this morning that it got through May Day without bloodletting, which might have occurred if the Eastern and Western police had not been under strict orders to prevent such a thing. The mob that stoned the Communist police at Potsdamer Platz was quickly dispersed. Two Eastern policemen were reported to have been slightly injured.

Today both sides are claiming political victory as a result of their gigantic demonstrations, but a real showdown does not appear likely until Whitsuntide on May 28, when the Communist youth organization threatens to invade the city.

Among the things that May Day proved is that the extensive military preparations by American, British, and French occupation troops here shows we are ready to fight, and shoot, if necessary to maintain the Western position in Berlin, and that an overwhelming majority of West Berliners stand by our side and are our responsibility to keep them free.

The Communists also proved that they have captured the imagination and enthusiasm of the German youth in their zone and that they have assigned the Communist youth the dangerous task of capturing democratic Berlin and Western Germany for the Soviet Union.

The two young People's policemen from the Russian zone who were arrested in the American sector were sentenced today to a year in jail after conviction of being members of a paramilitary organization. Heinz Nocht and Wilhelm Roloff both testified that the People's Police is a nucleus German army being organized by the Russian authorities.

Today they claimed that they were victims of a gigantic hoax, that Soviet authorities had tricked them into joining such an illegal military organization.

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

August 29, 2017

1970. Senator McGovern Accuses Nixon of Press Intimidation

The Tradition of Blaming the News Media
Caricature of Spiro Agnew, Nixon's "hatchet man," by Edmund S. Valtman in 1970 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 18, 1970

Edward P. Morgan is on vacation. This is Bill Downs in Washington.

It has always been electorally fashionable for politicians, members of Congress, and government and military officials to blame whatever is bothering them on the news media. It's part of the American tradition. As general Omar Bradley used to say, "If the troops aren't griping, then something's wrong."

It's something the same with news reporting. If a correspondent or commentator doesn't generate some criticism, then he knows he's doing something wrong—or possibly being just plain dull.

As far as politicians are concerned, they are heard from whenever they hear or read too much that they don't like about themselves. Example: Vice President Agnew.

By the same token, when a political figure suddenly comes to the defense of the printed and electronic news media, the general rule is that this politician hasn't been hearing enough good about himself.

South Dakota's Senator George McGovern made a speech today in which he blasted the Nixon Administration, accusing it of a deliberate attempt to "harass and intimidate the press," and that Vice President Agnew had been designated as the hatchet man to do the job.

You recall Mr. Agnew yesterday blasted Senator McGovern as cosponsor of an "end the war" amendment which Agnew said would lose the war in Vietnam. So if Agnew is out to get the media, McGovern naturally would be there to defend them.

McGovern charged that "There's a deliberate effort by the Nixon-Agnew Administration to intimidate the press...and that the situation is a serious threat to our free society."

"What we are witnessing is an incredible paradox," the Senator continued. "The Administration seeks to silence its critics in the media while at the same time exploiting the use of the media for its own message."

So what else is new.

Unlike Vice President Agnew, McGovern said the press has been "amazingly tolerant" of the Nixon Administration, and the broadcast networks, particularly, "have been generous almost beyond generosity" in giving the President airtime.

Again, what's new. T'was always thus.

We agree with the Vice President that news reporting and reporters aren't always perfect. We agree with Senator McGovern that some formula must be found to give the Administration's loyal opposition equal time and space to present their views.

But as far as intimidating the news media—anyone who covered Washington during the days of Joe McCarthy finds Mr. Agnew's obfuscations about the journalistic craft singularly unterrifying.

Besides, anyone who can't take it as well as hand it out doesn't belong in news—or politics.

It was back in the eighteenth century that Jonathan Swift called printer's ink—today that would include typewriter ribbons—a malignant liquor compounded of copperas and gall.

Gall is as much a requirement of potatoes as it is of journalists. But in the give and take of politics and reporting it can turn to acid, and there's nothing worse than a corroded politician—or a journalist who has lost his sense of humor.

This is Bill Downs in Washington with the shape of one man's opinion.

August 28, 2017

1930. The New York Times on the Demagogic "German Mussolini"

The Nazi Movement Festers in Germany
"Adolf Hitler at a Nazi rally in Weimar, Germany, October 1930" (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism.

From The New York Times, September 21, 1930:
His Fiery Oratory Has Won Men of All Classes to Support Doctrine of "National Bolshevism"
When on the night of Nov. 9, 1923, Adolph Hitler, assisted by General Erich Ludendorff, launched his abortive revolution against Berlin in the Rathskeller of the City Hall in Munich, a Gargantuan outburst of laughter resounded throughout Germany. The "revolution" collapsed before it could get under way. Adolf Hitler became the nation's political clown.

Deserted soon thereafter even by his own followers, at odds with his chief supporter Ludendorff, and facing trial and imprisonment for conspiracy against the State, there appeared to be nothing in store for Hitler but oblivion. He was tried and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. Of this he served only one year. The German Republic, in its feeling of security and with a magnanimity not often displayed by governments toward conspirators who seek its destruction, released him, making him a present of four years of life which otherwise he would have had to spend behind the bars.

Hitler took good advantage of these four years. Today, five years after his release from prison, he stands as the leader of the second strongest political party in Germany, challenging the very life of the republic. Acknowledged leader of German youth, he is hailed by millions as the German Mussolini, come to free Germany from domestic depression and the foreign yoke. When, some time in the middle of next month, the new Reichstag chosen on Sept. 14 assembles in the gray pile facing the Platz der Republic, no less than 107 Fascists, members of the National Socialist Workers' Party—Hitler's party—will occupy seats in the legislative assembly.

Spectacular Rise to Power

In November, 1923, Hitler counted only 200,000 followers. In the last Reichstag his Deputies numbered 12. On Sept. 14, nearly 6,500,000 Germans flocked to his support, lifting him in one day from the status of political nonentity to that of a national figure.

What is the meaning of this transformation? What are the causes behind it? One could make a long and detailed analysis of political, economic and social factors responsible for this phenomenal rise of German Fascism and with it of Adolph Hitler, but most important of all the force responsible is Hitler himself. Whatever else the German election has proved, it has demonstrated once again the truth so frequently challenged in this era of rapidly growing collectivism—the importance of the individual in politics and in history. For just as Italian Fascism would have been impossible without Mussolini and Russian Bolshevism without Lenin, so is the movement in Germany, which on Sept. 14 announced its presence with a thundering salvo of votes, inconceivable without Hitler. Hitler is its driving power and its inspiration.

Like many other leaders of important political and social movements, Hitler is a man of the people, a carpenter by trade. Politically he is an outcast, a man without a country. Born in Austria, he enlisted in the German army at the outbreak of the war. This lost him his Austrian citizenship. After the war he failed to avail himself of the opportunity to become a citizen of Germany. When later, after he had placed himself at the head of the Fascist movement, he sought German citizenship, it was denied to him. Perhaps he may have to wait for it until he is in a position to confer it upon himself.

He Has Energy and Reserve

Hitler is 41. He is of medium height, wiry, slender, with dark hair, bristling, toothbrush mustache, eye spurting fire, straight nose, finely chiseled face and a delicate complexion, quite unlike the Furor Teutonicus which he is represented to be. His entire being breathes dynamic energy combined with marked reserve. Four years in the trenches taught him to have no fear of death. He is an orator of apostolic fervor, and while the things he says are regarded by politically sensible people as pure ignorance and demagogy, he says them with a magnetism and a driving power irresistible to old and young, particularly the latter.

It is significant that most of Germany's 5,000,000 new voters in the recent election cast their votes for Hitler's party. It is to the young people, who know nothing of the war, whose hearts and minds burn with a desire to play a part in the life of their country and its future, that Hitler and his oratory make their greatest appeal.

It is very doubtful whether many can make much sense out of the inchoate mixture of ideas that constitute his program—a mixture of socialism, bolshevism, nationalism, militarism, anti-republicanism and anti-Semitism. Apparently it matters little to his followers what he says. Their chief concern seems to be how he says it. What he says may not appear true to those who know better, but to those who like it it is not without its logic.

Perhaps the best characterization of his doctrine yet given is "national bolshevism"—"national" in the sense that he stands for the repudiation of all Germany's obligations, the tearing up of the Treaty of Versailles and a war of liberation, if need be; bolshevist in the sense that he claims to be a foe of that big, industrialist capitalism of Germany, which he asserts is responsible for Germany's woes. By combining these two elements in his program he appeals to the youth of the land as well as to that large middle class which has suffered most from the social and economic perturbations following the war and from the present depression.

The effect of Hitler's eloquence and personality has been well described by a German who attended one of his early meetings in Munich.

"I look around at my neighbors. At my left sits an old aristocrat, a General in the World War. At my right, in the working clothes of the Eastern suburbs of Munich, a man whose honest eyes alone redeem his desperate face. Only after the meeting warms up does he tell me that up to a short time ago he was a convinced Communist, and that only through Hitler has he learned to feel himself a German.

"Suddenly, every one jumps up and a roar of applause sweeps through the big hall. Upon the speakers' platform steps a simple, modest looking, slender man of medium height who seems underfed and overworked. He is in the later thirties. His voice certainly is not unpleasant, but neither is it exactly fascinating.

"In astonishment I note that the condescending look of the old General on my left is gradually making way for an expression of wrapt attention. 'What a remarkable range of knowledge and technical learning!' he whispers in my ear. And later, as the accusation of complicity in Germany's want and misery is presented with almost crushing force, 'How fearfully excited the man must be, despite his external calm; he can't have a dry thread on his body!'

"My neighbor on the right, the Communist, no longer merely claps his hands in applause; in his eyes I think I see tears, and at every slight pause in the speaker's address he roars approval with all his might. In fact, in spite of the speaker's moderate tone, a very hurricane of elemental passion seems to be sweeping down upon the audience.

"So it is no wonder, then, that when Hitler, after having spoken two and a half hours, ends to a terrific storm of applause, the General and the Communist walk fraternally to a table to enroll as members of the National Socialist Party. Everywhere there are flashing eyes and exalted spirits. Youthful forms, although showing signs of semi-starvation, brace up proudly.

"'Yes, yes, there still lives in us, thank God, a little of the old Germanism, despite all the corruption,' a lady of my acquaintance calls to me as we go out. And a professor remarks, 'No college instructor can excel this man in the unshakable logic of his construction or in his powers of conviction.'

"We are met with howls of rage from Hitler's enemies when we reach the street, but they are soon silenced by one of his patrols."

Such is the man who has announced himself as the leader of the young generation of Germany and who may or may not prove the author of a new war of revenge.

August 27, 2017

1949. The Bundeshaus Prepares to Host New Parliament

Katholikentag Celebrated as Bonn Readies Capitol Building
A crowd gathers in front of the Bochum steel plant in West Germany to celebrate Catholic Day (Katholikentag) on September 4, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Frankfurt

September 4, 1949

Plans for the opening session of the new West German parliament in Bonn next Wednesday include a musical concert by a symphony orchestra from Cologne, but it appears today that this will be about all the harmony that will mark the opening months of the Federal Republic.

About the only thing certain at this moment is that the delegates will have a place to meet in their new capitol building—a huge white room with sidewalls of glass windows reaching from floor to ceiling. The lighting is by squares of pink neon tubing, which caused one observer to remark that if the capitol is moved to Frankfurt they can turn this room into a dance hall.

However, the right-wing coalition appears confident that they will have enough votes to justify the five million marks they have poured into converting the teacher's college building into the Bundeshaus.

The biggest trouble right now is the assignment of seats on the floor. The original plan was to preserve the traditional right-to-left seating arrangements according to the political complexion of the parties. The Communists already have requested seats on the extreme left of the floor. However, it now develops that no one wants to sit on the extreme right, a position all-too-recently associated with the Nazi Party.

So today the government planners are considering the assignment of seats by lot.

Willy Messerschmidt, the famous German aircraft designer, was in Bonn yesterday. He said he had received offers from many nations, including Russia, to design war planes, but that he has turned them all down. Messerschmidt has designed a rapid construction type house and came to the new capitol to get orders to build his dwellings to relieve Bonn's critical housing shortage.

In the Ruhr today more than a half-million German Catholics gathered at Bochum to celebrate this country's Catholic Day. The Catholic Workers' federation adopted a resolution calling for a strong, united Christian Germany; a united Europe with a single constitution, parliament, and law; and rejecting socialization of German industry.

Ironically, the mass meeting is being held at the site of the Bochumer Verein, one of the biggest and most modern war plants in Germany. Pope Pius is scheduled to address the celebration later today.

Composer Richard Strauss is seriously ill in his Bavarian home. The 85-year-old musician is suffering from a heart ailment and other disorders. Doctors are in constant attendance.

Tomorrow a US Senate subcommittee will begin its hearings into the Malmedy massacre case. Senators Baldwin of Connecticut, Kefauver of Tennessee, and Hunt of Wyoming are in Munich to investigate Army procedure in the trial of a score of Nazi soldiers charged with slaughtering American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge.

In the four-power city of Berlin, a British-licensed newspaper today says that the Russian air force is giving training to young German recruits into the people's police. This training, according to the newspaper, is part of a new mobilization of the Communist-led police and is the first step in formalizing an East German fighting force.

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

August 26, 2017

1949. The Allies Wind Down Airlift Operations

Airlift Put on Standby
RAF Dakota plane involved the Berlin airlift, November 23, 1948 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 30, 1949

The Joint Chiefs of Staff will arrive in Frankfurt today, just in time to see the last 32 hours of the Anglo-American airlift in full operation.

General Omar Bradley, the Air Force General Hoyt Vandenburg, and Admiral Louis Denfeld will be met by a band made up of Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel. This afternoon they will confer with High Commissioner John McCloy.

The strange thing about this visit of America's highest military men is that it has provoked no outrage or cries of warmongering from the Iron Curtain countries. A couple of months ago, before the Paris modus vivendi agreement, the visit would have been raw meat for Communist propagandists.

Air Force officials this morning have revealed the staging-out process which will put the Berlin airlift on a skeleton, standby basis.

During the month of August, the Air Force will fly 5,400 tons of supplies into the city, a figure that would be considered a bad day for the airlift today. In September the deliveries will be reduced to 3,500 tons and again to 2,000 tons in October.

In other words, beginning on Monday, only an average of 18 planes will fly daily through August. In September the average will be 12 planes and in October the average will be down to seven planes.

There are a mountain of statistics about the achievements of the airlift. For example, British and American planes flew a distance that adds up to 215 round trips to the moon. But the most important statistic is that 70 persons died in making Operation Vittles possible. 31 were American.

The four power committee of experts meet again this afternoon. There is hope that they may be able to get down to cases in discussing resumption of East-West trade. This is the first meeting of the economists since the Berlin commandants agreed on procedure to be followed in the meetings.

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

August 25, 2017

1967. The White House's Credibility Gap

Johnson Administration Struggles to Sell Vietnam War Policy
"Secretary of Defense Robert McNamera pointing to a map of Vietnam at a press conference," April 26, 1965 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

February 28, 1967

The principal product manufactured in this national capital on the banks of the Potomac is "words." There are millions of things turned out every day by members of Congress. A flood of words emanate every day from Senate and House committees, from government departments and agencies, from the Federal courts, from the White House—all official, in one way or another.

The point is that words are supposed to be the tools of ideas, but neither words nor ideas have any meaning unless they are communicated.

Thus it follows that words must mean the same to both the speaker and the listener if the ideas expressed are to have a common meaning.

When the official Federal words mean one thing to the official uttering them, and the same words have a different meaning to the people across the land who hear them, there exists a situation which worries Washington.

It's called a "credibility gap," and it drives people like government officials and politicians crazy.

If all this sounds complicated, believe me, it is. Because in an open society such as ours, words and ideas are the lifeblood of free speech, the red corpuscles of our individual and national liberty.

There are said to be so many so-called credibility gaps in this town that, according to the publicity given them, Washington should look something like the Grand Canyon.

Actually, the alleged "credibility gap" has been turned into a political ploy, and considering the viability of the campaign promises that flood the country every two years, for one politician to accuse another politician of being incredible in and of itself strains credibility. In fact, we'd wager that most political candidates get themselves elected simply because there is a general public misunderstanding between what they say and what they do.

However, here in Washington the Federal government, meaning the Johnson Administration, is forced to take its credibility gaps very seriously. And as you know, the biggest problem these days is to explain the government's policies concerning Vietnam, a war that technically is not a war because it is undeclared.

The Administration's difficulties in the credibility area were vividly demonstrated the other day when Defense Secretary McNamara found it necessary to call a special news conference to explain that there is no credibility gap between the Pentagon and Secretary Dean Rusk in the State Department. Several newspaper reporters had been circulating the story that the Secretary of Defense was the leading "dove" in President Johnson's cabinet, while the Secretary of State was the Administration's leading "hawk."

It just isn't true, McNamara declared.

It seems that the reasoning behind these stories was a simple circumstance peculiar to the Washington scene. In the past several years, the Defense Secretary has been defending White House policies before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, some of whose members have been demanding escalation and total victory in Vietnam. In answering these demands, McNamara has sounded comparatively most dove-like in supporting the Administration's limited bombing policies.

On the other hand, Secretary Rusk has been testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose chairman is William Fulbright of Arkansas, the leader of the so-called coterie of doves who demand that the US stop the bombing and seek a negotiated peace.

But when Rusk defends the same limited bombing policies in Vietnam, his arguments sound most bloodthirsty.

Anyone for semantics?

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.

August 24, 2017

1950. West Germans Scoff at Communist Declaration of "Liberation Day"

Berlin on the Fifth Anniversary of the End of World War II
"Berlin Communists gather around the city's Soviet War Memorial in 1950" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 8, 1950

Sitting here in Adolf Hitler's former capital on this fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War prompts one to ponder over who won what in the recent defeat of Nazism.

A look at the public comments in East and West Berlin today reveals that about the only thing the conquering nations achieved in their victory is the right to make another war.

Communist East Berlin is making the anniversary a public holiday. Wreaths were laid at two Russian war memorials in the city. At the big Soviet cemetery in Treptow, German puppet officials hailed the occasion as "Liberation Day," paid tribute to the Red Army and Stalin, and said that the Anglo-American warmongers want to use German youth as cannon fodder. America is preparing a new aggressive war, one German speaker said, but if it comes, the US will suffer a defeat worse than Hitler suffered at Stalingrad.

Over the weekend, West Berlin police arrested fifty-seven agitators attempting to collect signatures on a Communist petition for the outlawing of the atomic bomb. This morning three more persons were arrested at Anhalter railroad station on the American-Russian border for attempting to hold an unauthorized meeting.

West Germans scoff at the Communist "Liberation Day," coming as it does only three days after the Russians announced no more German war prisoners will be repatriated. This announcement is probably history's greatest public relations blunder if the Communists hoped to win any measure of sympathy from the German people.

Carl Schwennicke, leader of the West Berlin liberal party, says that the Russians have completely mistaken German psychology in calling this anniversary "Liberation Day," and that May 8 is rather an anniversary of plunder and the beginning of a new dictatorship. The Soviet Union has missed its chance for a peaceful and confident collaboration with the Germans. The true liberation day, he says, will come when eighteen million Germans in the East zone are free from the dictation of Soviet bayonets.

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

August 23, 2017

1935. Erratic Mussolini Rejects Cabinet Advice

The Isolated Duce
Mussolini, Hitler, Italian Foreign Minister (and Mussolini's son-in-law) Galeazzo Ciano, and others meet at Brenner Pass on October 5, 1940 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe.

From The New York Times, September 29, 1935:
He Tends More to Isolation and Depends Largely on His Own Judgments

ROME, Sept. 27 — Premier Benito Mussolini has never been a believer in "brain trusts" for running the affairs of his government. He believes that he himself supplies all the brains required.

He goes on the principle that things are never so well done as when he does them personally, and his unlimited confidence in himself is proven by the fact that he heads seven of the fourteen Ministries of which the Italian Government is composed. He has many trusted lieutenants but they can hardly be considered advisers, as their functions are virtually limited to carrying out the orders he gives them.

The lack of any advisers in the true sense of the word is shown by the speed with which Premier Mussolini changes his principal collaborators. He evidently is jealous of his position as undisputed dictator of Italy and delights in shifting his men about in an inscrutable, and often apparently erratic, manner. None of his Ministers ever feels sure of his post, for even the best of them knows he may be removed at any minute.

This system has the advantage that every one who works for Premier Mussolini gives his very best to please him. It has the drawback that it accentuates the isolation into which Mussolini has been retiring more and more since he became head of the government thirteen years ago.

The more prominent of his collaborators are those who last the shortest time. Dino Grandi, who for some years was in charge of Italian foreign policy, first as Under-Secretary and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs and was at one time considered the most promising among the rising young men of fascism, is now Ambassador to London and completely out of the political swim.

Balbo Also Removed

General Italo Balbo, whose exploits in the air once raised him to the dizzy heights of the principal Italian hero, is now Governor of Libya and as far removed as is Mr. Grandi from the centre of political activities. These examples could be duplicated almost endlessly.

Various people at different times have been reputed to exercise great influence over Mussolini. The fact that they are now almost all forgotten proves that their reputations were unfounded. Mussolini always played a lone hand. He uses men as circumstances demand but is always ready to discard them if they fail in their jobs or as soon as their usefulness is exhausted. Sometimes he consults persons who have specific knowledge of some particular technical question, but the object of these consultations is usually to obtain the data on which to base his own decisions and only very seldom to ask advice.

The only person who may be considered to have had any real influence over Mussolini is Admiral Costanzo Ciano, whose son, Galeazzo, married Mussolini's daughter, Edda, some years ago. He and Mussolini were and still are fast friends and have respect for each other's qualities and judgment. The admiral, however, has retired from active participation in the government and holds the prominent, but mainly decorative, position of President of the Chamber.

Son-in-Law Is a Factor

His place has been taken to some extent by his son Galeazzo, who is now Minister of Propaganda. Before his departure for East Africa as a volunteer airman the younger Ciano was one of the persons closest to Mussolini. But he is still very young, being barely 30 years old, and it cannot yet be said that Mussolini leans on him for guidance.

Mussolini relies on the newspapers and the audiences he daily grants to persons from all walks of life to keep in touch with public opinion. He is a voracious reader, especially of the foreign press, which reflects all shades of opinion more accurately than the strictly controlled Italian press. In it he reads what the world is thinking and saying about Italy and his way of running things.

But more and more as the years go by Mussolini retires into the shell of isolation. His contacts with people outside have grown less frequent, he sees fewer and fewer visitors and he has become much more difficult to see.

As a consequence, his touch with people and things is less intimate and his judgment has perhaps become more liable to error.

August 22, 2017

1967. Washington's Diplomatic Posturing Over Peace Negotiations

Rumors of Potential Peace Talks Between Washington and Hanoi
"Napalm air strikes raise clouds into gray monsoon skies as houseboats glide down the Perfume River toward Hue in Vietnam on February 28, 1963, where a battle for control of the old Imperial City ended with a Communist defeat. Firebombs were directed against a village on the outskirts of Hue" (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

February 5, 1967

Beginning this week, members of the Buddhist religion around the world begin the celebration of their celestial new year, an occasion called Tet. According to the Oriental horoscope, each new year is named after one of twelve animals who answered the summons of the great Buddha many centuries ago to celebrate his holy eminence, and in the coming new year Buddhists will live the next twelve months under the sign of the sheep.

According to some venerable Oriental astrologists, many of them in Vietnam, the year of the Sheep is a particularly good one for the settlement of differences. For this reason alone the coming of Tet would have significance for the war in Southeast Asia and in Vietnam particularly, where some local generals on both sides of the conflict govern their military decisions according to their horoscopes and the advice of the nearest Buddhist soothsayer on hand.

However, the Buddhist New Year also is called by other names with different connotations—other meanings, even—for the Americans on the diplomatic offensive here in Washington as well as for the US military command in Saigon.

The year of the Sheep is also called the year of the Ram, or the year of the Lamb, and sometimes the year of the Goat.

As this week in Washington ended, it would appear that the diplomatic postures of the US government, like that of the Communist regime of North Vietnam, were strikingly similar. On the surface, at least, both Washington and Hanoi were trying to maintain the outward stance of the buck ram, righteously challenging the world as master of his domain. But very, very quietly behind the scenes, the buck was making most conciliatory and lamb-like sounds to end the agony of the Vietnam War.

Overshadowing both these efforts was the determination of the conciliators in Hanoi and Washington that their government would not be cuckolded into a humiliating kind of peace, both determined that Tet would not mean they would wear the derisive horns of the Goat.

Thus it is clear that if the world's peacemakers, now working so diligently in the backstreets of diplomacy to arrange negotiations for the Vietnam War, must also find a way to satisfy the question of "face." Face, or "face saving," has sometimes been called the basic principle of life in the Far East. Men have been known to commit suicide if they somehow have fallen so low in the eyes of their neighbors as to bring disgrace on themselves and their ancestors.

However, the matter of face is not peculiar only to the Orient. It also is an overriding factor in the most advanced nations of the Occident. We in the West call it "national pride."

This past week in Washington began in sadness with the burial of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. But the week ended in an atmosphere of hope, as the Capitol was flooded with murmurs and whisperings that American efforts to establish some kind of dialogue with the North Vietnam government at long last was meeting with at least partial success.

In fact, it was Hanoi which was responsible for stirring up the eddies of peace talk that swirled through this city. A week earlier, Hanoi radio broadcast an interview statement from North Vietnam's Foreign Minister Nguyễn Duy Trinh, in which Trinh stated that there just possibly "could" be across-the-table negotiations with the United States—but "only after" an unconditional cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam by US planes.

Washington and Saigon authorities were still trying to fathom the significance of Trinh's statement when the State Department received confidential word from an undisclosed source that the foreign minister's broadcast statement was indeed intended by Hanoi to be of great importance, and that Washington should so regard it. If true, then North Vietnam was contemplating a major change in her policy toward the struggle of the National Liberation Front seeking the overthrow of the Saigon government. Previously Hanoi's conditions for negotiating a settlement of the conflict had called for four points, including the previous and immediate withdrawal of all US and foreign forces from the South and the per se recognition of the political wing of the Viet Cong guerrillas as the only spokesman for the people of South Vietnam—and so-called "free elections," Communist-style, for all the nation to establish a Hanoi-type regime for both the North and South.

The question raised by the North Vietnam broadcast was: had Foreign Minister Trinh dropped three of the four original preconditions to negotiations in order to get to the negotiating table.

Washington's dove-like rumor mongers were bolstered in their grapevine peace campaign by a number of things, including the revelation by the Pentagon that during the last six months of 1966 the infiltration of North Vietnamese troops into the South had shown some falling off.

Defense Secretary McNamara, however, went to great pains to insist that the supply of men and materiel to the Viet Cong had by no means stopped. In fact, he indicated that the infiltration had stepped up again about the first of the calendar year.

It was also reported without official confirmation that President Johnson had reacted to the worldwide furor over alleged bombings of civilians in Hanoi by ordering a cessation of air action against military targets within a five mile radius from the center of the North Vietnam capital. However, the Pentagon bluntly refused to admit that such a self-imposed stricture on US military planes existed. When reporters last Tuesday and Wednesday pointed out that air attacks generally on Communist territory had fallen off sharply, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler, personally intervened to straighten out the questioning reporters.

"The lessened number of aerial sorties against North Vietnam," Wheeler declared, "was due solely to the weather and the tail end of the monsoon season which is buffeting the region." Furthermore, the General asserted the weather in Hanoi's Red River Delta for the past couple of weeks has been just plain lousy. "It's lousy today," he said, "and the forecast is that it will be lousy next week and possibly the week after."

No one was saying it out loud at the Pentagon, the White House, or anywhere else, but the silent consensus was that, whoever he is, the weather forecaster for the Allied Air Forces in Southeast Asia should have gotten the "diplomat of the week" award.

On Tuesday the State Department made a cautious admission that the broadcast interview with Foreign Minister Trinh was getting "careful study."

On Wednesday Secretary of State Dean Rusk broke his self-imposed silence concerning the upheavals in Communist China and related the difficulties of Mao Tse-tung's new "cultural revolution" to neighboring North Vietnam. Peking's troubles, Rusk opined, might give the Communist leaders of Hanoi "more freedom of action" in finding a way to peace negotiations.

On Thursday President Johnson called a full-dress news conference and appeared before TV cameras and radio microphones to assure that his words would have a worldwide hearing. The chief executive put on a philosophical performance, and it soon became clear that he was addressing the leaders of North Vietnam as much as he was the one hundred or so reporters who crowded into the East Room of the White House.

Mr. Johnson carefully restated his position regarding the question of peace talks to end the Southeast Asian fighting.

"We have made clear that if the other side desires to discuss peace at any time...that we will be very happy to have appropriate arrangements made to see that such is carried out," the President said. "Where we would talk...and who would talk...and what we would talk about...are all matters that can be worked out by the two nations involved."

But the most significant thing to come out of Mr. Johnson's news conference was his returning time and again to the cautious theme that the American people should not get their hopes too high that a negotiated end to the Vietnam fighting is in the making.

"In all candor," he asserted, "I must say that I'm not aware of any serious effort that the other side has made, in my judgment, to bring the fighting to a stop...and to stop the war." At least three times the President pointed out the lack of what he called a "serious effort" by Hanoi to demonstrate any serious intent to come to the negotiating table. In other words, by the reverse-English standards of international diplomacy practiced in public, the President of the United States was openly telling Ho Chi Minh, Foreign Minister Trinh, and other leaders of the North Vietnamese government: "show me!"

When a reporter laid it on the line and asked Mr. Johnson just what he would expect Hanoi to do that would justify ordering an end to the bombing of North Vietnam, the President's reply seemed to be almost a plea.

"Just almost any step would be enough," he declared, adding, "They haven't taken any as yet..."

As we said, the flurry of peace rumors which still are circulating through Washington was touched off by a broadcast interview with Hanoi's Foreign Minister Nguyễn Duy Trinh. The reporter who did the interview was Wilfred Burchett, an Australian who this correspondent met during World War II while covering the Allied armies in Europe and then later during the occupation days of Japan.

Taking into consideration Burchett's open and avowed Communism, nevertheless he was a competent and thorough reporter. Today Burchett followed up his scoop interview with Foreign Minister Trinh with another news story from Hanoi to the English-language newspaper Yomiuri in Tokyo. Burdchett's dispatch, datelined last Friday, describes Trinh's statement as a "declaration that cessation of US bombardments could lead to talks between North Vietnam and the United States." It was made to test the sincerity of Washington's frequent expressions of a desire for peace, for negotiations and so forth, the Burchett story goes on.

"Hanoi feels it has opened the door and demonstrated its good will...and that it's up to Washington to make the next move...If Johnson is sincere, he must definitely halt the bombardments, start the talks, and see what steps are possible next..."

Again, neither the Hanoi government nor Burchett's news story mentions other conditions for going to the negotiation table, other than a pledge to call off the bombing of North Vietnam.

Thus Hanoi and Washington would seem to be in accord about the desirability of negotiations, but there still remains the problem of "face"—how to get to the bargaining table without tripping over national pride.

The Burchett dispatch to Tokyo mentions this, too.

"If Washington concludes that Foreign Minister Trinh's statement was made from a position of weakness, and the American hawks should insist that now is the time to hit Vietnam harder than ever," says the Communist reporter, "then that would be a major blunder."

"Hanoi is prepared for such a hawk-like reaction," Burchett continues. "However, Hanoi's statement that talks could start if the bombardment is halted is made from a position of strength—not weakness."

As if to prove the point before the Buddhist New Year, Viet Cong guerrillas again infiltrated a major American ammunition dump just north of Saigon this weekend and caused considerable damage.

The United States also demonstrated its position of strength over the weekend. There were some 77 fighter-bomber missions over North Vietnam today, and a B-52 raid on a North Vietnam Army base camp on the Hanoi side of the Demilitarized Zone north of the 17th parallel.

However, 77 Air Force and Navy fighter-bombers over the North is about one half of what the US Tactical Command has been sending there in the patter of aerial assault during the past several months. "Bad weather," says the Saigon weatherman. None of those 77 US planes got any closer to Hanoi than seventeen miles.

The Buddhist New Year celebrations begin next Monday with another one of those mutually-agreed ceasefires, supposedly arranged in secret conclave between representatives of the Saigon and Hanoi governments.

Saigon has agreed that the temporary armistice should last for four days. The Communists say they will observe a ceasefire for seven days.

Word from South Vietnam today is that the Saigon government now is reconsidering its position and is ready to confer with enemy envoys to extend the truce to match Hanoi's seven day period.

The United States and Allied forces will observe whatever armistice is satisfactory to the Kỳ government.

It's generally agreed here in Washington that the coming days and weeks are important ones for Southeast Asia. If you're an optimist, the question must arise, "What happens to the New Year's ceasefire if there is no fighting on the eighth day?"

It may turn out to be the year of the Lamb after all.

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.

August 21, 2017

1950. Soviets Shut Down Internment Camps in East Germany

NKVD Internment Camps Shut Down After Five Years
A column of German prisoners is led by Red Army soldiers through a ruined village near Stalingrad, December 1942 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 25, 1950 (recorded to air later)

In the middle of January, General Vasily Chuikov, Soviet High Commissioner for Germany, announced that Russian occupation authorities were liquidating three internment camps in Eastern Germany.

Camps that were a political embarrassment to Germans and Russians trying to sell Communism here. Camps whose names already were notorious under the Nazis and which were becoming equally so under the Communists.

Buchenwald. Sachsenhausen. Bautzen.

Chuikov's announcement said that 15,000 persons in these camps would be set free to return to their homes. Another three and a half thousand would be held as criminals. The USSR would keep 649 others for major war crimes against the Soviet Union.

The Communist propaganda ballyhooed this as a great show of humanity and generosity by the Russian occupying power—propaganda that political prisoners and opponents of the satellite regime will not agree with.

These are the pictures of some of the people who know something of the so-called generosity of totalitarianism. They were taken in at a headquarters of an organization called the "Fighting Group Against Inhumanity," an association of former war prisoners, internees, and persecutees formed to expose terror behind the Iron Curtain in Germany.

The first thing they do when they check in is to put down the names of comrades who they know have died behind the barbed wire.

Every day women come here to check on husbands, sons, or relatives.

Some of the prisoners were in fairly good shape, particularly if they had good jobs in the camps, like in the kitchen. Others are slated for TB hospitals—and probably early death.

The Fighting Group Against Inhumanity has figures that disagree with General Chuikov's. They say that out of 180,000 persons interned in 1945—five years ago—90,000 died behind the wire, and that 30,000 have been deported to Russia and disappeared. Those now returning every day by the hundreds are only what's left.

The three young men here, all in their early twenties, were arrested for trying to cross the Russian zonal border without the proper papers. They were accused of being spies and spent four years in the camps.

The Russians gave them good shoes when they were released, but the clothing has something to be desired. The coats they call "Sokolovsky" Mäntel; the hats "Kotikov" Mütze.

Life in the people's democracy is, it seems, more strange than wonderful.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 25, 1950

Transport trucks continue to pile up at the Helmstedt autobahn checkpoint today in what is being called a "creeping blockade" of road traffic in and out of Berlin.

Russian transport authorities are allowing only a half-dozen trucks an hour to come through.

Today something new has been added. Transport trucks trying to return to the Western zones from Berlin also are being held up. So now there are queues of heavy trucks lined up on both sides of the Russian zone border. Currently no more than a hundred loaded trucks are waiting to get in, and about half that number trying to get out. Also this morning four barges were stopped on the inland waterway out of Berlin. Railroad traffic is normal.

One Berlin Communist newspaper denies that there is any blockade or slowdown. Western reporters who say there is are "attempting to create tension and unrest."

Two weeks ago Russian occupation authorities announced they were liquidating three concentration camps in their zone and returning more than 15,000 Germans to their homes. The move is designed as a goodwill gesture to win public opinion toward the East.

This morning I spent several hours talking with some of the men and women returning from Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, and Bautzen.

It was a strange sight, this long after the war, to see war prisoners again. Some were fat and healthy, others were emaciated and tubercular. Some were teenage kids picked up making illegal border crossings and held as spies.

There was one new category—a middle-aged machine worker. He was arrested three years ago when his machine jammed and was ruined. For this he was sent to the coal mines to work out the cost of the machine—30,000 rubles. But in the mines he was denounced as an unreliable person and sent to Buchenwald. Strangely enough, he was included in the recent amnesty.

He is the only inmate I ever found in favor of a concentration camp—otherwise, he said, he would still be in the mines instead of walking free as he is today.

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

August 20, 2017

1949. Soviets See Favorable Prospects for Agreement with United States

Possible Softening of the Propaganda Line
Black market deal in East Berlin in 1953. The poster on the wall reads: "Es lebe die große Freundschaft zwischen den kulturen der Sowjetunion-Deutschland, die sewahr eines dauerhaftlen friedens in Europa!" ("Long live the great friendship between the cultures of the Soviet Union of Germany, which is a lasting peace in Europe!") (Photo by Ralph Cranesource)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 3, 1949

As in Paris, the sun has come out for the first time in a week to shine in Berlin, and it is possible to see the effects at once. People walk more sprightly in the streets, they smile and are kinder to each other. And for a moment it is even possible to forget that this is a blockaded city—that there is a Berlin crisis.

This is the first business day of the new year. The propaganda from the East sector of the city is not quite so abusive. Or perhaps the men who write the stuff haven't gotten their breath back after the holidays.

The Russian-licensed newspaper, Forward, today even hints that perhaps the new American Congress, meeting in a few hours, may come up with a solution to the East-West difficulties. This editorial claims that the victories of the Communist forces in China have changed the world outlook. And that this fact, coupled with the American elections and the rumored resignation of Secretary of State Marshall and other cabinet officials, presents favorable prospects for agreement between the United States and Soviet Russia. The newspaper says that the pressure of the peace-loving majority in America will force President Truman to seek a compromise with Russia in the coming months.

I mention this only as a possible softening of the Communist propaganda line toward the United States.

Meanwhile there is no letup of the blockade. Today East Berlin officials announce that all vehicles which do not have the new Soviet military permits will be confiscated where found in the Russian sector of the city.

The Soviet-occupied sections of East Berlin and Eastern Germany today begin what they hail as a "Two Year Plan" of socialization and reconstruction. Streetcars in the zone were decorated with banners and flags—red, of course—factory whistles were blown, meetings were held in the factories.

The idea is to increase production. The East German government has approved what is called the "Hennecke movement," a speed-up labor campaign similar to the Stakhanovite movement in Russia.

The current joke concerns the carpenter who bragged he had increased his production 1,500 percent. "How can this be?" he was asked.

"Someone asked me to bring him a nail," the Hennecke man replied, "And I brought a handful."

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

August 19, 2017

1932. Hitler Complains Nazis Are Victims of "Alarmist Propaganda"

Hitler Protests Crackdown
President Paul von Hindenburg in Berlin followed closely behind by Chancellor Adolf Hitler, February 25, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. Two weeks ahead of the German presidential election in 1932, Adolf Hitler complained to incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg that the Nazi Party was subject to "alarmist propaganda" from its opponents who warned about the dangers of a Nazi victory.

From The New York Times, February 29, 1932:
Complains to Hindenburg About Forecasts of Disturbance if Nazis Win Elections
Appeals to Foreign Correspondents After Prussia Tightens Ban on Agitation by "Subversive Parties"
BERLIN, Feb. 28 — Adolf Hitler summoned foreign correspondents to his headquarters at the Kaiserhof today to protest against his opponents' practice of predicting terrorism and disturbance to Germany's foreign relations and credit in the event that the National Socialists were victorious in the Presidential election March 13. He declared that such "alarmist propaganda" was dangerous in that it might really produce such an effect.

Herr Hitler said he believed his election would contribute to better foreign relations and establish internal stability. Then he made public an open letter to President von Hindenburg protesting against the alleged attempt to discredit him abroad and muzzle his newspapers and periodicals which he declared compelled him to appeal to the foreign press.

Herr Hitler's protest to the President follows instructions issued by Carl Severing, Prussian Minister of the Interior, to local administration officials to suppress agitation by "subversive parties inimical to the State" by rigorous employment of the special powers of censorship over the press and public meetings conferred by the emergency decrees.

Der Angriff Suspended

Der Angriff, the Nazis' Berlin organ, has been suspended for a week for an article representing President Hindenburg as the candidate of the Socialist party, whose spirit, according to the paper, is characterized by the words of one of its members, "We know nothing of the German fatherland; our country is the world."

"Herr Field Marshal, do you consider it worthy of your name to have your honor as a Presidential candidate guarded by a wilderness of emergency decrees and legal paragraphs while abandoning the candidate opposing you as a free game for partisan lies and defamation?" Herr Hitler asks in his open letter.

Citing the Socialist election appeal that "Hitler instead of Hindenburg means chaos in Germany and Europe, the direst peril and bloody struggles at home and abroad, and the annihilation of all civic liberties," Herr Hitler enters "an indignant protest against the attempt to mobilize the foreign world under cover of your name, Herr Reichspräsident, against the free decision of political issues in Germany."

Will Ward Off Attacks

"In my statements to foreigners," the Nazi leader continues, "I have never failed to emphasize that every German government to date has been imbued by a sincere love of peace.

"Attempts to discredit an inconvenient German movement before the foreign world as a disturber of the peace, made under cover of your name and not disclaimed, I shall henceforth know how to ward off personally. During the election campaign my utterances shall come to the knowledge of the world, just as do the statements of the representatives of the present system."

Herr Hitler charges that although his party is represented as endangering civil liberties the present system's emergency decrees have abolished democratic freedom and the liberty of the press, and that the suppression of his newspapers while the campaign is in progress represents a violation of the freedom of election guaranteed by the Constitution.

He contrasts his opponents' demands for a "chivalrous campaign" with alleged defamation of his lieutenants and himself, such as false accusations that he deserted the Austrian military service.

August 18, 2017

1967. The Central Intelligence Agency's Long Financial Reach

The Department of Dirty Tricks
The 6th World Festival of Youth in Students in Moscow, later revealed to have been infiltrated by the CIA (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

February 19, 1967

Official Washington was reminded this week of the double standard by which the citizens judge their government and its operations. It's a Puritanical and, some say, a hypocritical ethic, the kind that made Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter an American classic. For it is still a fact of life in this country that the people regard secrecy in government very much like they regard adultery in marriage. Or more accurately, they seem to equate the super-secret Central Intelligence Agency with the kind of man who finds it necessary to keep a discreet mistress as a professional sideline. It's really no one's business as long as the mistress doesn't interfere with his family, that he keeps her out of the neighborhood, and above all he does not get caught.

As this week in Washington ended, the most avidly-read publication in the national capital was not the Congressional Record with its slightly juicy revelations of the investigated antics of Adam Clayton Powell. It was a slick, West Coast, monthly publication called Ramparts magazine with a story about the CIA which during the week captured the top headlines from the war in Vietnam, the troubled Cultural Revolution in Communist China and the political pronouncements from the White House and Capitol Hill.

The Ramparts' exposé revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency for years had been consorting with its mistress of secrecy right under the noses of some of the most respected members of American society. The Agency not only brought her into the neighborhood but actually brought her in the nation's bedroom, so to speak, to entice innocent young collegians in the National Student Association.

Not only that, it now develops that the CIA, in its secret efforts to advance American foreign policies and defend the nation from infiltrating espionage agents, also employed the international departments of a number of AFL and CIO unions, including the American Newspaper Guild, which when I was a member was concerned with getting the normal $25 a week salaries of legmen raised to maybe $30 a week.

CIA gold also was channeled into the US branches of a number of so-called egghead and do-gooder organizations such as the international society of writers called PEN—or the Paris-based, highly intellectual Congress for Cultural Freedom.

But most startling of all was the complex and most cumbersome method which the CIA used to disburse its secret money. More than a dozen wealthy foundations have been named as conduits for the Agency's dollars—dollars which, incidentally, by law the CIA does not have to make a public accounting.

These foundations, which channeled the money into a myriad of projects connected with the CIA's overseas intelligence operations, were based in such disparate places as Boston, Philadelphia, Columbus, Baltimore, and Dallas. Over the years, millions of tax dollars were involved. The foundations don't pay taxes, so presumably the CIA funds were not themselves taxed.

But what the Ramparts magazine article did was to open a floodgate of criticism of the Agency. For the Central Intelligence Agency, like the respected adulterer, made that unforgivable mistake—it got well and truly caught. But of more seriousness, as the professional intelligence officials put it, the CIA has lost its fig leaf—or rather a whole vine-full of fig leaves—which is going to make its covert operations overseas more difficult.

This correspondent spent some fifteen or so years as a foreign correspondent working around the world, including a wartime year in the Soviet Union. We suspect that the hullabaloo over the CIA's financing of students to attend international youth rallies, the financing of international labor organizations to teach democratic unionism to the working men of developing nations being wooed by the Communists, the secret sponsorship of professional organizations to counter totalitarian propaganda among the intellectuals of the world—we suspect these revelations are causing much more sensation here in Washington and across the country than they are in most foreign capitals.

In Moscow, for example, we found that every foreign correspondent was automatically assumed to be an intelligence agent for his government. News reporters deal in facts. Facts about Russia, put together even in the most innocuous story, constitute intelligence in the Communist mind. It did no good to explain that the private companies like the press associations, newspapers, and broadcast networks who sent their own correspondents overseas did so as a competitive business policy to sell the news collected by its correspondent-employees. To the Kremlin we were foreign intelligence agents. And to make it clear, they assigned black-capped and leather-coated members of the secret police to follow us about and report what we were up to.

Let me clear up one point here. When I was in the Soviet Union there was no CIA. The Office of Strategic Services under General William Donovan was just getting its intelligence service organized. To my knowledge, the news organizations for whom I worked overseas never accepted a dime of federal financing. For the United Press, CBS, and the American Broadcasting Company to allow its correspondents to become secret agents would risk the basic asset of the news that it markets—the integrity of their news gathering staffs. Destroy that integrity and the news organization is destroyed. It would be just plain bad business, because the UPI and the Associated Press and the broadcast networks market their integrity and their news not only in the United States but in foreign countries as well.

So while the current flap over the Central Intelligence Agency has surfaced many of its overseas operations, we suspect that the intelligence organizations in most capitals of the world darn well knew or suspected what was going on. In the case of the Russians and other Communist countries, the KGB and other secret police groups would expect the CIA to use American students. They've been doing it for years. Just as here in Washington it's generally assumed that the foreign correspondents for Pravda, Izvestia, and Tass most certainly are expected to work for the KGB. In fact, it's their patriotic duty by the standards of the USSR.

But what disturbs many people here in Washington is the extent to which the CIA secret operations have penetrated the economic and intellectual structure of our society.

For example, the Agency has channeled some of its money into the publication of books, good books which give a fair picture of the country and explain its origins. To give these books the necessary "cover," as it's called, reputable publishers put them on the newsstands for sale to American readers, thus divorcing them from any covert propaganda purposes when they are distributed overseas. This raises the question of whether there is something wrong about the US citizens purchasing again a book for which he has already been taxed to publish. Or more seriously, it raises the question of whether any democratic agency should ever be in a position to secretly propagandize its own people.

The use of federal funds to finance collegiate delegations overseas could and should be a worthy educational project. But for the CIA to make secret use of the National Student Association for this end has raised serious questions about the integrity of American education.

Allen Dulles this week defended the action, which he administered at the time when he was directer of the CIA.

"If you studied the student conference movement abroad during those years of the early 1950s," Mr. Dulles explained, "you would find that the Communists were making very effective use of them. The international conference had great propaganda value for them, and were influencing the youth in the United States as well as in other countries."

The question still remains: having succeeded, why didn't the CIA get out of the National Student Association? Its so-called fig leaf cover became more transparent as each graduating class increased the number of young people aware of the CIA secret. And, sure enough, it was a former NSA official which blew the whistle on the Agency in the Ramparts magazine article.

President Johnson this week ordered a review of the CIA's involvement and assistance to the Student Association and other areas of the nation's education establishment. The Washington Post says today that the investigation will probably broaden its scope to look into the CIA's involvement with American labor unions, charitable foundations, and ostensibly independent organizations and other institutions.

Mr. Johnson appointed a three-man panel to make the study, composed of Under Secretary of State and former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardner, and the present CIA director Richard Helms.

Congressional criticism already is blowing from Capitol Hill about the membership of the investigating group. "It's like asking an errant husband to investigate his mistress," said one Congressman.

Translated, that probably means that before the fig leaves have settled to the ground, either the Senate or the House of Representatives—or both—will be getting into the act.

More than a century ago, observing foreigners traveling in the United States returned to their homelands to write books about the brash young country. Eminent writer such as Alexis de Tocqueville, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few, variously admired or criticized many facets of US life. But they all agreed on one thing: Americans have big mouths. Their pride and energy make them talk too much, and living in a broad and open country where freedom of speech is a way of life, they have a great disdain for secrets—especially official secrecy.

Therein lies the paradox of the Central Intelligence Agency and the roots of the troubles which now are plaguing it. In the open society that is the United States, how does the government and its people accommodate an institution which, to serve them, must remain anonymous?

The authoritative Washington Star today raises the question of whether "the current flap over the CIA can be escalated to the point where it will destroy the nation's intelligence organization." We don't think so. In the nuclear era of what might be called the possibility of "instant stone age," if the CIA did not exist then Congress and the White House would invent it.

We do think that the Central Intelligence Agency can, like the snail, emerge out of its shell so people can observe and understand it. Like the snail, the Agency can keep its most sensitive organs concealed and people can still admire its impressive super-structure.

For ironically, by public declaration of virtually every CIA director from Allen Dulles to Dick Helms, about eighty percent of the enormous work that the Agency does is in the non-secret area. Today's intelligence mostly is made up of collecting, collating, and assessing overseas publications, winnowing statistics and details from agricultural, engineering, and professional journals, scanning big and little newspapers for national trade and troubles, and most important, monitoring thousands of broadcasts in dozens of languages which serve to update the top secret National Intelligence Estimate—a global summary of events prepared for the president and the National Security Council each morning.

The Agency has boasted that it has "the most comprehensive information retrieval system now in operation anywhere," with rows and rows of electronic memory banks, specialized miniature photographic machines, facsimile printing devices, and punch card indexes which contain more than fifty million cards.

One intelligence official once boasted that the Agency had collected a most eminent group of scholars knowledgeable about China, and that this collection of Sinologists was better than any university staff in the world.

For what it's worth, we suggest that the CIA's information retrieval system would be of great value to the students and historians throughout the country—that the CIA's historians and scholars should be shared with the nation when they can be spared.

We even suggest that someone in the Agency be allowed to come right out and say that there's a $60 million building on the banks of the Potomac in Langley, Virginia that several employees drive out to for work every day, and that they proudly work for the Central Intelligence Agency, which is a keystone to the defense and security of the nations of the Free World.

Let the Agency keep its so-called "department of dirty tricks" to itself. But when the government needs American students to attend the next International Youth Conference, let the appeal be open and above-board, not a behind-the-barn operation.

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.