September 30, 2017

1950. West Germany Celebrates Holiday as the East Prepares for Elections

Ascension Day in Germany
An inscription painted on a wall at the Bernauer and Schwedter Straße sectors in Berlin reads "Go home, Ami." A sign reading "You are now entering the French sector" is painted over, August 24, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 18, 1950

About the only real sign of peace in all Europe today is in the Bavarian mountain village of Oberammergau. At 8:30 this morning the villagers began the traditional performance of the Passion Play for the first time in sixteen years. The ceremony was abandoned during the war. 35,000 persons are attending including the American, British, and French high commissioners. They play lasts for ten hours, closing at six tonight.

It's Ascension Day in Germany, a holiday which for some reason is known as "husband's night out." The merriment has been making the streets of West Berlin noisy all morning. By tonight the hangovers should be fully constructed.

On the grimmer side of town, the East German Communist government is bending over backwards in thanking Comrade Stalin for reducing by fifty percent the reparations allegedly owed the Soviet Union.

The British claim that Russia already has taken more than ten billion dollars in reparations owed her. And that thanking the USSR for cutting the reparations is like thanking an extortionist for taking only fifty percent of one's salary for the next fifteen years.

The Communist government also announces its October election plans. The East German parties have announced they will have a National Front ticket—in other words, candidates handpicked by the party with no opposition slate.

General Maxwell Taylor made delivery today of the first of two million pounds of food to the city of Berlin for the needy and refugees. It's a gift from you through the International Rescue Committee.

The East German puppet administration is whipping up its "go home" campaign, and today there is even a poem addressed to High Commissioner McCloy advising him to take off.

A story circulating here concerns two Berliners standing by a "go home" sign painted on a wall. One says to the other, "What does it mean?"

The other replies, "That's English for 'Geh nach Hause.'"

The retort: "What a pity the Russians cannot read it."

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

September 29, 2017

1970. The Environmental Crisis Facing the Planet

The Great Political Issue of Our Time
The Earthrise photograph taken by astronaut Bill Anders during the Apollo 8 mission, December 24, 1968 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

July 19, 1970

Since I took over the ABC News ecology beat a few months ago, I've been up to my ears in a strange kind of journalistic pollution. Call it publicity flak—or public relations gunk, if you will. But ever since the Apollo astronauts took that first picture of the Earthrise over the moon's horizon—showing for the first time our beautiful blue planet swathed in a white batting of clouds—people seemed all at once to grasp the analogy that like the astronauts isolated in their space capsule, every one of us also is riding through space, each dependent on the life system within the thin capsule of atmosphere which encompasses our globe.

After the broadcasting and publication of that one Apollo Earth-picture, the word "ecology" had public meaning and the term "environment" assumed a special definition for mankind.

There's another thing about that Earthrise picture that also hit home. From some 250,000 miles away our planet looked pristinely clean, scrubbed under its wash of cloud cover. The continents shone like rare amber and the seas reflected the color of costly sapphire.

But all of us Earthlings viewing this photographic miracle knew the picture to be false. We had only to step outside our doors or look out the windows to see Man's violation of the land, air, and water; Man's depredation of his atmosphere, his wanton rape of the only world he possesses.

You can disagree with me, but it's my theory that one Apollo picture of the Earth literally hit people where they live—and produced a common and bumbling realization—that humanity must stop its ravishing attack on nature, or the Earth and everything on it will soon be dead.

As you know, there are some philosopher-ecologists who say it's already too late, that the exploding human population already has extracted, changed, or killed so much of the Earth's ecological system that the normal life cycle has been warped into an escalating spiral toward death and annihilation.

Whether these Cassandras are right or not, I simply cannot accept such a negative outlook, and neither can a lot of other concerned people. Which brings us back to that strange brand of journalistic pollution I was talking about.

After the tremendous national response to Earth Day last April, there were widespread predictions that "this ecology thing" was just a passing fad, that the whole "environmental bag" would end up in the hands of the long-haired flower children and the so-called conservationist and wildlife nuts who are more concerned with trees, animals, fish, and birds than they are with people.

When President Nixon's surprise invasion of Cambodia pushed everything else out of the headlines, friends of mine said "I told you so" and chided, "Whatever became of the ecology?"

The answer is that it's still very much with us. My desk is loaded every day with a plague of publicity handouts from the most unlikely industries, lobbyist associations, environmental groups, politicians, and just plain citizens. There are so many people trying to get into the environmental act that the endless announcements, their boastful achievements, their ambitious plans for the ecological future constitute a form of "word pollution."

Some of the young leaders of Environmental Action—the people who organized Earth Day—charge that some of the big companies and industrial associations are trying to solve the environmental crisis through highly-financed public relations campaigns; that such organizations would do well to turn those tens of thousands of publicity dollars back into cleansing their factory emissions into our air and rivers.

Actually, such goodwill spending is but an oil-drop in the Atlantic compared with the billions of dollars needed to tackle the mountains of gunk polluting the ecology. The true significance of this spending is that it demonstrates industry's sensitivity to the public concern about the environmental crisis. And in the long run it will be the people's insistence on a viable ecology and a decent place to live that will force the polluters to correct the situation.

Up on Capitol Hill, the politicians already have labeled ecology as the greatest political issue to come along since motherhood. Democratic Senators Muskie of Maine, Nelson of Wisconsin, Jackson of Washington, and McGovern of South Dakota moved in on the environmental crisis early with antipollution legislative proposals.

Then last week President Nixon finally acted to establish the new Environmental Protection Agency to marshal the federal government's scattered bureaus dealing with environmental problems under one umbrella. The move had two interesting aspects. First, it served notice to Democrats that they would not be the only ones to play pollution politics in the 1970 and '72 elections. Secondly, Mr. Nixon discarded recommendations from a White House commission on government reorganization, and from his own Interior Secretary Walter Hickel, that the government's antipollution machinery be concentrated under Hickel as a Cabinet secretary of a Department of Environmental Affairs and Natural Resources which would have superseded the old Interior Department.

Instead, by creating the independent Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Nixon has direct control of the organization—another sign of the political potency of ecology and environment in future elections.

As a matter of fact, there are some political pros around Washington who are speculating that, with the Vietnam War being phased out and both the Republicans and Democrats tooling up for an assault on pollution, it may not be long before the new Environmental Protection Agency is bigger than the Pentagon. And they were only half joking.

The other day I went down to the little Appalachian mountain town of Saltville, Virginia, to do a story on the proposed closing of the Olin chemical company's soda ash factory there. Saltville gets its name from the fact that it's located on top of a gigantic underground salt dome that has been mined since 1785. This plus quantities of limestone from the nearby hills provides an abundance of basic materials which go into the complex process of making soda ash, a chemical vital to glass and other US industry.

For some 85 years, the Saltville operation has been using the waters of the north fork of the Holston River to make soda ash, dumping residue saline water back into the stream. The Olin company says it has tried to be a good neighbor and keep the river pollution to a minimum, but for years towns and industries along the Holston in Tennessee have complained that the salt-hardened water has cost millions in downstream dollars every year in industrial damage and in softening the water again.

However, the Saltville soda ash production literally outgrew the river. Olin engineers were able to keep the saline pollution within the limits set by Virginia's Water Control Commission, but about a year ago new federal standards ten times more stringent went into effect. The Olin company says it is economically and technologically impossible to continue making soda ash in Saltville without violating the new antipollution standards. They will be forced to close down.

When I got there last week, the town of 2,800 people was still in a state of community shock. It means that more than seven hundred of the plant's nine hundred jobs will lose a $10 million annual payroll. The surrounding counties will be minus some $25 million in taxes.

Although the Olin company has asked the government for permission to phase out the shutdown over a two-year period to ease the shock to the community, it seems inevitable that production must stop if the Holston River is ever to be clean.

Meanwhile, seven hundred workers and their families are in limbo. Their only crime is that of trying to earn a living.

It's a situation which is going to arise more and more as the nation moves to clean up the environment before the combined pollutants strangle us all.

But while man must concern himself with preserving the redwoods, saving the wetlands and the whales, conserving the wilderness for the bald eagle, the otter, and the moose—man must also be concerned for man.

We all are going to have to pay more in taxes and effort to clean up the ecological mess we have made. But the most costly, most unfair, and most cruel tax that can be assessed on an individual in the name of the environment is unemployment.

No reasonable government or society can tell seven hundred Saltville workers to go sit on the banks of the Holston River and watch it purify itself as reward for giving up their jobs. There are no calories in Appalachia's spectacular scenery.

There can be no healthy environment—or no chance of victory over pollution—if the economy is not also strong and vigorous. This goes for Saltville as well as the country.

And let's project that idea a bit to include Detroit and the nation's automotive industry. It has been estimated that one out of every ten Americans either directly or indirectly gain their livelihood from automobiles. In terms of transportation, virtually all two hundred million of us are involved.

It is also generally accepted that the internal combustion engine—the automobile—is responsible for sixty percent of the pollutants which smog up our air. American exhaust pipes spew out some ninety million tons of the stuff a year. Not counting the cost of increasing diseases, the nation's economic loss due to air pollution is estimated at $30 billion annually, including a half billion dollars to farm crops alone.

For these reasons alone, the drive to de-pollute the automobile is fully justified. After all, the greatest single group of polluters in the country are not the factories, the power plants, or smelters of metals. It is the automobile driver—more than one hundred million of us across the country who buy the gasoline and oil, turn the key in the ignition, and drive merrily along our polluted expressways and turnpikes.

So the thinking among many engineers is that there can be no real progress to banish smog and cleanse the air until we get rid of the fossil fueled reciprocating engine.

So eventually someone will come up with an efficient steam or electric drive—possibly even a nuclear engine—to replace today's super-cylindered wonders. Maybe even the gasoline and diesel engine would be outlawed. And the now de-polluted, mystery-powered motor car might not be built in Detroit at all.

The streets and highways no longer would be a source of smog. Oil refineries would work only part time. The ponderosa pines would appear on the mountains above Los Angeles. The Statue of Liberty could be seen from the Empire State Building. Emphysema and other lung diseases would be drastically reduced. Everything would be wonderful—except what do you say to some 360,000 Detroit autoworkers who would be thrown out of work?

This would not be allowed to happen, of course—at least not all at once—because the economic stakes are too high. Besides, the skills and plant capacity to make highway rolling stock are concentrated in the Detroit area.

But someone—both in private industry and in government—had better start thinking about what to do with people like the soda ash workers of Saltville when environmental necessity abolishes employment.

In Sweden, I understand that if an industry wants to shut down an operation or relocate a plant, the employer is required to provide other jobs for his workers and pay the costs of moving an employee and his family to the new job site.

In this country it may be a problem for a cooperative solution involving the employer, the labor unions, and the government.

It has been proposed that one way to solve the problem of junk automobiles, some twenty million of which are now scattered across the land, is to tack on a $30 disposal fee when the motorist buys a new vehicle. This would ensure the worn-out cars would be collected for demolition and recycling into scrap steel.

If we can provide an ecological solution for the junk automobile in the name of the environment, we should be able to come up with a solution to take care of these workers forced out of jobs in the war against pollution.

September 28, 2017

1942. Berlin and Vichy Worry About the Allies' Next Moves in West Africa

Rumors of Allied Maneuvers in the South Atlantic
"United Nations Casablanca convoy moves eastward across Atlantic bound for Africa," November 1942 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 4, 1942

London is a rumor factory today. Reports about West Africa and the possibility of an Allied move there is creating a minor war of nerves—a war of nerves which apparently has Berlin and Vichy extremely worried.

Axis radio stations for the past week have been fishing for information from the South Atlantic. If there is any truth to these Axis-inspired reports—and often in the past such rumors have been based on at least a grain of truth—it would appear that something is due to happen somewhere south of Gibraltar. There is, of course, no comment and no confirmation from British quarters of these rumors.

All this week continental radio stations and Axis-controlled news agencies have marketed West African rumors. The latest one is the report that a French flotilla of twenty submarines have arrived in Dakar, which Vichy said followed a "piercing of the Strait of Gibraltar" on September 20.

Earlier the Vichy News Agency inferred that another British convoy is on its way to West Africa including fourteen British supply ships. Vichy said this convoy left Gibraltar on Friday and was escorted by "exceptionally strong forces including a battleship, two cruisers, and six destroyers."

United States Army headquarters in London have been letting Berlin worry about whether America is doing anything in West Africa. American officials said they had no comment to make on Berlin radio's assertion that an entire American division has been landed from twenty transports at Takoradi on the Gold Coast.

Many London newspapers consider these reports so newsworthy that their headlines rank in importance with the Battle of Stalingrad. But whatever is happening or not happening in the South Atlantic, it is one time when the worrying is not being done by the United Nations.

While the world is awaiting authoritative news of just what is going on in West Africa, a major diplomatic mystery is developing here. Myron Taylor, President Roosevelt's personal representative to the Vatican, today is holding secret conferences with high British government officials. Mr. Taylor undoubtedly will confer with Prime Minister Churchill.

There probably will be no official statement as to the purpose of Mr. Taylor's visit to London until he has reported to the president in Washington. But British diplomatic quarters said the fact that Mr. Taylor came to the British capital instead of going directly to Washington might be considered significant. It is expected that the position of the Vatican in relation to the war should be more definitely and strictly defined after Mr. Taylor makes his report.

It is also understood that Mr. Taylor during his recent two and one-half hour conference with the pope informed His Holiness of the United States' determination to crush the Axis.

September 27, 2017

1942. Eleanor Roosevelt Visits Wartime England

Eleanor Roosevelt Visits Britain
"Eleanor Roosevelt and the Chief Commander of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) inspecting ATS troops somewhere in England. October 26, 1942" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 23, 1942

The RAF's full-moon attack on northern Italy last night was the twenty-sixth time that British bombs have been carried from England and dropped on Mussolini's most important shipbuilding and industrial area. Besides the port of Genoa, British bombers also have put their bombs into armaments factories and aircraft plants in Turin, Milan, San Giovanni, and the Venice area.

Because of the distance, the RAF has been forced to ration the export of its bombs to Italy. A 1,500 mile round-trip flight over the Alps would be an achievement under perfect conditions in peacetime. For the RAF to do it with almost no losses in wartime is something of a military miracle.

There are many people in Britain who have felt that Italy was not getting a fair share of the Allied bombing. These people maintain that a sustained offensive might force a political crisis which would kick Mussolini and Italy clear out of the war.

The military leaders here pay little attention to such talk. They bomb an objective with the intent of doing as much military damage as possible. However, they are watching with interest the reaction of the Italian press and the statements of the Fascist communiqués. It has been fairly well confirmed that there is unrest in Italy. How widespread is uncertain. But such reaction can only be good for the Allied cause.

You remember it was in Genoa that Christopher Columbus lived before he set out to discover a new world. Perhaps it is significant that this New World must destroy what is worst in the Old World to keep alive the spirit of Columbus.

Eleanor Roosevelt held her first British press conference this morning. She made a statement which caused American reporters—who have tried to keep up with the president's wife on other occasions—to say, "Well, boys, here we go again." Mrs. Roosevelt said her objective in Britain was to go and see everything. And she'll do it too.

The English journalists were interested in America's internal affairs and asked such questions as whether Prohibition was going to return to the United States and if the conscription of women was anticipated.

Mrs. Roosevelt said the Prohibition movement in America was growing but that she did not believe it would become a national issue very soon. She said the question of conscripting women into war industries, such as has been done in Britain, was a problem for future consideration.

As yet Mrs. Roosevelt has not been issued a civilian gas mask. She already has her ration books and will eat just what the rest of Britain eats under the national food rationing program.

But the outstanding development of her visit thus far is that the British, and everyone else, are genuinely glad to see her.

September 26, 2017

1950. Western Occupation Powers Consider German Role in Europe's Future

West Germany Reacts to Foreign Ministers' Conference
"On 9 May 1950, the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, invites Germany and other interested European states to place their iron and steel production under the authority of a supranational European institution. As Schuman's address could not be recorded on 9 May 1950, the Minister had to take part in a re-enactment of the event for posterity" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 14, 1950

The arrest of West Germany's No. 2 Communist leader is causing a sensation throughout this divided country, and today this news is overshadowing even the foreign ministers' conference in London.

Thus far the Communist press has made no comment on the incarceration of Karl Mueller, an old-time party leader and Communist member of the Bonn parliament. He was expelled from the party last week on charges of Titoism and being an agent of the British.

The Communists only admit that Mueller is being held by the puppet security ministry. But the case is beginning to assume the importance of similar purges in Romania and Bulgaria.

It most certainly is a blow to the organization of the Communist party in Germany.

Apparently the earlier reports that Mueller was abducted from his home in Hanover by the German K-5 secret police are untrue. Now it appears that the former German Communist leader voluntarily came to East Berlin to plead his case personally with Walter Ulbricht, the strongman of the German movement.

It is reported that Mueller is the victim of a personal feud he has been carrying on with Max Reimann, the recognized leader of the Communists in West Germany. Reimann has been busy the past few days denouncing Mueller and calling for greater party discipline and a clean-out of unreliables.

Whatever the true story is behind Mueller's arrest, it is agreed that it is clear evidence that the German Communists are in serious trouble. Party membership in West Germany has fallen by more than 70,000 in the past six months.

The events of the past two weeks, particularly the Russian announcement that no more German prisoners are to be returned, also is having a reaction here. German authorities say today that in the past seven days more than one hundred deserters from the Communist People's Police have asked for political asylum in the West.

West German editorial reaction to the foreign ministers' conference has been subdued thus far until the communiqué on Germany is released. American and British-licensed newspapers warn the people not to expect too much, but that the Western Powers now recognize the necessity of giving Germany a place in the Community of Western Europe.

This summer a series of elections will be held in the various provinces of West Germany. Yesterday Chancellor Konrad Adenauer opened the campaign for his right-wing Christian Democratic party. The emphasis is on foreign affairs.

Adenauer said his government would continue its efforts to build a federated Europe and that he has already replied to French Foreign Minister Schuman's offer to merge the heavy industries of the two countries. Industrial and economic experts from France and Germany will meet in a few weeks to further explore the possibilities of the merger.

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

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

May 15, 1950

West German reaction to the decisions of the London foreign ministers' conference has been sober and optimistic. This morning, comment from political leaders and editorial writers has centered around two points.

First, the American, British, and French declaration that until Germany is united on a democratic basis, there will be no separate peace treaty and no withdrawal of occupation troops. This is being interpreted correctly as an implied security guarantee of the West German government against Communist aggression from the East.

The second point which has impressed the German experts here is the reiteration throughout last night's communiqué that West Germany's future independence and sovereignty will depend upon the speed and method with which she fits herself into the democratic pattern of Western Europe.

As one editorialist puts it this morning: "The government policy is entering a decisive phase...in this new phase, the fate of the Federal Republic depends not only on the will of the Western Powers but also on the political progress of the federal government and of the German people."

The question marks left by the London declaration concern the extent to which West Germany will be freed of present occupation restrictions, particularly in the field of international economic relationships. And the extent to which the Western Powers will allow democratic Germany to participate in West European defense arrangements.

Chancellor Konrad Adenauer is pleased with the way things turned out. The London communiqué is a "document satisfactory in every respect," he says. "It represents considerable progress. Now one can assume for sure that in the near future important developments will take place."

A half hour ago, an American military court sentenced six members of the Communist People's Police to two years imprisonment on charges of being members of a paramilitary organization. The black-uniformed policemen, now being trained by Soviet authorities, were arrested April 13th when they mistakenly entered the US sector of Berlin.

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

September 25, 2017

1945. Howard K. Smith Describes the German Surrender to the Soviet Union

Surrender Ceremony Held at Soviet Headquarters in Berlin
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signs the German Instrument of Surrender at the Soviet Berlin headquarters in Karlshorst, May 8, 1945 (source)
HOWARD K. SMITH

CBS WORLD NEWS

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9, 1945

At 5:30 in the afternoon, New York time, yesterday, when it was half an hour before midnight over here, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics officially accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. The Soviets demanded for the sake of history that the leaders of the three armed forces of Germany appear before their greatest commander, Georgy Zhukov, and sign a fresh document of capitulation.

The ceremony took place in the headquarters of Marshal Zhukov, amid the ruins of Berlin. For the Allies the articles were composed and signed by three men who, more than anything else, have crushed Berlin—British RAF Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, whose planes started and continued the destruction of the German capital, General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the American Strategic Air Forces, who continued the job and virtually consummated it, and, for Russia, Marshal Zhukov, whose Red Army actually conquered the center of Nazism.

For Germany, the document was accepted and signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, for the German Army; by General Admiral Hans-Georg Friedeburg, for the German Navy; and by Colonel General Stumpff, for the Luftwaffe.

The article signed in Zhukov's Berlin headquarters last night differs in no essentials from the document of surrender signed in General Eisenhower's headquarters three days ago. There is only a slight difference in wording. The text of the new treaty will be available soon.

The main occasion for the new signature was historic justice. The Red Army's sacrifices for victory in Europe have been the greatest of all the Allies, and the Germans have wanted more than anything to avoid facing the Russians as dominant negotiators. But last night they did.

I was there in Zhukov's headquarters in the east Berlin suburb of Karlshorst. The ceremony took place in the dining hall of a former German Army engineering school in a big complex of plain gray buildings. There was tense drama in that face-to-face meeting of perhaps the two bitterest enemies since Rome fought Carthage.

Two men dominated the scene, Zhukov of Russia and Keitel of Germany. The faces of both men were frozen into hard, unrelenting frowns throughout the ceremony. Zhukov's jaw was calm, with the calmness of a commander who can and did fight his way from the inferno of Stalingrad, a thousand miles across Europe, to triumph in Berlin. Keitel was nervous, irritated, arrogant at being reduced to the most humiliating gesture a Prussian martinet can know, having to face and beg surrender from a "prolet" of Red Russia, as the Prussians are wont to call them.

Keitel and Stumpff and Friedeburg arrived in Berlin with the American and British delegation to the conference. We, the Americans and British, left Reims, France, at daybreak yesterday in four airplanes. We landed at Stendal, Germany, near the Elbe River demarcation line, between American and Russian-occupied territories, to wait for a Russian fighter escort. Keitel, also in an American airplane, joined us at Stendal airport, after flying from Flensburg on the Danish border.

Our escort began with a modest two Soviet fighter planes. They circled over the field until all five of our ships were in the air, then they escorted us over the Elbe. As we neared Berlin, more and more red-nosed Russian fighter planes joined us until the skies were swarming with them.

It was a little hazy over Berlin, for buildings are still burning. But through the haze it was easy to make out the charred wreckage. For miles of city streets, I could see nothing but roofless, hollow hulls of houses. Some places whole city blocks were wiped out, with not even the outlines of foundations of houses visible in the desert of powdery rubble. It was a terrible but fitting setting for the double-check surrender of Nazi Germany.

We landed at Tempelhof, the scarred main airfield of Berlin. Chief Air Marshal Tedder led the delegation of the Western Allies. He was received by two companies of an honor guard, a Red military band, and a battery of nigh on seventy Russian photographers.

Frankly, I enjoyed watching the Russians outdo us at our own game of mobbing celebrities who arrive at airfields. But I was interested in Keitel, the personification and—if civilization is lucky—the last gasp of Prussian militarism. He climbed out of his American transport plane and regarded the photographers with showy scorn. The expression of Admiral Friedeburg, Commander of the German Navy, was diffident. There were deep black circles under his eyes. The face of Stumpff, of the Luftwaffe, was neutral. It expressed nothing. But Keitel looked as though he had just taken a swig of aged bilge water and was waiting to spit it out as soon as nobody was looking.

The streets on the way to Soviet headquarters were in places just valleys between rubble. They were swarming with Red Army soldiers. It must have grated on Herr Keitel's brittle heart to see not white flags but red flags draped on what German homes were habitable. It was a working-class district and the flags are said to have been hung there by Germans. At the entrance to the suburb of Karlshorst, a neat red-brown arch of triumph was already constructed over the street by the Russians. Golden letters across the top said in Russian: "Glory to the Red Army." If you only knew Berlin, you would know how inconceivable it is for such things as that to be in Berlin. There were red-brown pillars all along the way at intervals. The only legend on them was, again in gold letters, "1945."

It was a great day for the Russians, having conquered Berlin, put an end to the sacrifice and suffering—and the Russians know sacrifice and suffering. Also it was V-E Day, which is just plain V-Day to Russians. They met the leaders of their allies and the leaders of the enemy as victors in the enemy's own capital.

We met Zhukov early in the afternoon yesterday. He invited the official Allied delegation to his rooms to discuss procedure. We correspondents weren't supposed to go; but, only slightly ashamed, we went. I admit that American reporters are a nosy, persistent lot.

Zhukov is a hard man to see. He doesn't like personal publicity. A British correspondent with us said that he had spent two years trying to get a glimpse of Zhukov in Moscow, but never had. We were intent on seeing him, so we tagged along behind Sir Arthur Tedder.

Zhukov, Russia's and perhaps the world's leading military commander, was a surprise. All the close-up photographs you've seen of him were taken before the war. He hasn't been photographed because he hasn't let himself be photographed for many years. The classic picture of him which appeared on the cover of Life some time ago shows a young man with a face almost brutal in its hardness, with coal-black hair and a haircut just about as close as Stalingrad was. The Zhukov we met was an older man. His hair is steel gray. He has a lantern jaw and an extremely high forehead. He's short, heavyset, and his back is as straight as a ramrod, but he still did not like publicity.

He looked embarrassed when we crowded in. He accepted a present from Marshal Tedder, General Eisenhower's invasion flag, but his first words, translated by an interpreter who stood at his side, were that this was intended to be a private meeting between the Allied General Officers and Marshal Zhukov. We promptly filed out of the room.

Negotiations and discussions of the wording of the surrender document went on all afternoon. In a separate room, Keitel became bitterly impatient. He told an American interpreter: "This is just like the Russians; one waits and waits and nothing comes out of it." The Russians, meanwhile, sent him and his delegation a supper of vodka and wine and chicken and caviar and fresh strawberries.

At an occasion so fraught with import as this, it's odd how many strange little things can happen. The Russians had no British or American flags with them. They had to make them on a spur of the moment out of what they cold. Red cloth they had aplenty. But for white they had to use bed sheets, for blue they had to use satin cloth, made in Germany for women's dresses.

I almost made history. To type out the official German translation of the capitulation terms, our delegation asked to use my German typewriter bought in Berlin years ago, but I had left it in the airplane. If I had only brought it with me, Germany would have surrendered to my "type."

At eleven-thirty at night we were called into the dining hall. Marshal Zhukov entered first, then Marshal Tedder and General Spaatz and then we. Tedder sat at the right hand of Zhukov and Spaatz on the left. The last two to enter were "Keitel and company." His two colleagues were properly undemonstrative, but Keitel snapped to attention and saluted the high table, holding his swastika-adorned Field Marshal's baton out towards them. The other Germans wore only military decorations. Keitel also wore the Nazi golden Party badge, which had been presented to him by Hitler.

Keitel was presented with the articles of surrender. Hardly reading them, he shrugged his shoulders and placed his hands on his hips in a blunt expression of disgust. No pen to sign with had been placed before him. Zhukov said nothing and did nothing, nor did anyone else. Finally, Keitel pulled out his own fountain pen and signed with it.

Friedeburg and Stumpff followed him. Then Keitel began really to play showman. He suddenly discovered that he had not read the document until after he had signed it. He began to gesticulate and twist back and forth in his chair, and to rant at Friedeburg who apparently was trying to make him keep quiet. Rumor immediately spread that the Field Marshal was going to withdraw his signature.

The faces of the Russians turned perilously sour. I edged from my place on the far side of the room, around to a position behind Keitel. He was arguing with an American interpreter. The new document, he protested, said that the Germans must not only surrender but also yield up their arms. He insisted that he must have an additional twenty-four hours to inform his troops that they had not only to surrender but to give up their arms. The brow of Zhukov, about ten yards away, looked like a gathering storm.

The American interpreter told Keitel to explain his case to the Russian interpreter. Keitel did. He also asked the Russian to request of Zhukov the twenty-four hours' reprieve.

The interpreter went to Zhukov. Zhukov gave no answer. He didn't alter his expression. He acted as though he hadn't heard a thing. Keitel, then, let the world hope, with the last gesture of Prussianism, slammed his portfolio shut on the already signed documents, arose, saluted stiffly, and marched out of the room. He was followed by Stumpff and Friedeburg and their aides.

Then, with victory complete, we dined at midnight. We had caviar and salami, beer, French fried potatoes, a wine cake, and strawberries. Four long tables were overflowing with food. There were speeches and toasts with vodka, white wine, red wine, and Russian champagne. I can't tell you how many toasts there were to the Allies and to Stalin and to San Francisco. I lost count after twenty-four toasts and white hot vodka.

Zhukov, the silent, became expansive. He made twelve speeches, through the time I was able to count. He seemed to be happy as a kid on Christmas Day. He embraced General Spaatz. After one toast he turned his glass upside down in front of Marshal Tedder to show that he had downed it all in one gulp and that the Marshal do likewise. He toasted Roosevelt and did not mention Truman. He allowed at least a thousand snapshots to be taken of him. And Zhukov, the inaccessible, stayed in our presence for hours until four o'clock in the morning. Before he left he even consented to sit down at my table and autograph a hundred-mark note I wanted to keep as a souvenir.

At six o'clock this morning, when we headed back to Tempelhof airfield, we were each presented with a bottle of wine, a bottle of vodka, and two tins of caviar in the name of Marshal Zhukov.

All over Berlin last night, similar celebrations were going on. The news was read out as soon as it was released. There was dancing and there was singing in Russian in the half-destroyed restaurants and beer halls that are still there in Berlin.

September 24, 2017

1949. Simmering Tensions Over the Ruhr

Occupation Authority is Tested
Protest in East Berlin against the Occupation Statute of Germany on February 11, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 12, 1949

Three American airlift fliers were killed early this morning when their C-54 returning from Berlin crashed near the Rhine-Main airport at Frankfurt.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident, which occurred shortly after one AM as the plane was coming in for a landing. Visibility was bad at the time, and there was a light snow falling. Names of the casualties are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.

This morning's deaths brings the total number of men killed flying over the Russian blockade to thirty-three—twenty-six Americans and seven British.

The British military government declared today that seven Ruhr Germans who agreed to work on the dismantling of the Bochum steel plant and then refused would be prosecuted in a British military court. The seven were part of a crew of twenty-one hired by the British reparations commission to tear down the drop forge section of the plant. German workers at the big steel plant are resisting the dismantling, claiming it will throw them out of jobs. The trials will be the first prosecuting civil disobedience.

A dozen Germans showed up for work today. German police are standing by, however there have been no disturbances—strictly passive resistance. Yesterday two presses, valued at fifty-thousand marks, were removed from the factory. The case is being carefully followed by the Germans. It is a serious test of occupation authority in one of the most important industrial areas of Europe. The Ruhr is being planned as a mainstay of the European Recovery Program.

And a footnote. The Harnack House, the fanciest officer and civilian club in Berlin, last night reversed itself and voted that if frauleins can be guests of the club, then enlisted men can be guests too. That settles that.

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

September 23, 2017

1942. Two Ignominious Anniversaries for Fascist Italy

Mussolini's Italy Comes to the Fore
"Greek Army soldiers use a rangefinder to target invading enemy Italian positions in the Pindus mountain range during the Greco-Italian War" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 28, 1942

Today is an Italian anniversary—the anniversary of two events that rank high in the history of world infamy.

It was twenty years ago today that Benito Mussolini made his abortive march on Rome and established a dictatorship that has put a tarnish on the glory that was Rome.

Then it was two years ago today that this same Benito Mussolini attacked Greece. This attack accomplished just one thing. It made heroes of the Greek people and lowered the Italian people in the eyes of the civilized world to depths unwitnessed since the Dark Ages.

It is significant, therefore, on this anniversary of Fascist ignominy, that it was revealed Greek troops are in the battle against the German and Italian forces in Egypt.

This is the first direct evidence of the United Nations fulfilling their promise to the conquered nations of Europe that Allied military might will assure their restoration.

But it is more than that. At this moment, it would appear Italy has become the main military objective in the United Nations' fight against the Axis. Ever since the American envoy to the Vatican, Myron Taylor, returned to the United States, Italy has come more and more into the news.

The RAF has pounded the Northern Italy industrial area. The seas around the Italian boot have been subject to heavier and heavier aerial and submarine attack. Both Britain and America have poured propaganda in ever-expanding force in their radio broadcasts to Italy.

In the coming weeks of the Egyptian offensive, it will be a good idea for you to keep a close eye on Mussolini's Italy. The way the wind appears blowing, the Allies are going to make it as difficult as possible for him to play whipping-boy to Hitler.

For the first time in this war, it would appear that Britain and America are going to try the old reliable strategy of divide and conquer.

September 22, 2017

1967. Public Confidence in Congress Continues to Drop

Congress' Ethical Dilemma
Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (center) with President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew for a luncheon, January 29, 1969 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

March 8, 1967

Remember the deep freeze and the vicuña coat which put so much publicity and heat on the Truman and Eisenhower administrations?

And remember all the righteous wrath and tongue-clicking speeches about morality in government that floated down from Capitol Hill at the time as senators and congressmen piously deplored the questionable ethics of the opposition party?

Well today, as often happens in official Washington, the tables have been turned—and the heat's now on the US Congress, which finally is becoming concerned about "the imperfect image" of the US Senate and the House of Representatives in the public mind.

The case of Adam Clayton Powell may have precipitated the present concern on Capitol Hill about the overall moral climate in the national legislature. But the loss of reputation has been many years in the working, as indicated by a recent Gallup poll that really shook up the current Congress.

The Gallup people asked Americans across the country whether they thought their senators and representatives misused government money as a fairly common practice. Only 21 percent of those polled expressed complete faith in the honesty of the men they elected to Washington. 19 percent said they didn't know. And a whopping 60 percent allowed as how the misuse of public money by members of Congress was a fairly common thing.

Both Republican and Democratic leaders are worried about a so-called "crisis in confidence" in the Congress. And they expect the situation to get worse before it gets better. This Powell case will be kept in the public eye through the New York congressman's legal efforts to force the House of Representatives to seat him, and also through the special election in Harlem next month.

And on Monday the question of congressional morality again will make headlines when the Senate Ethics Committee reopens its investigation of Connecticut's Senator Thomas Dodd, who is accused of converting political campaign funds to his personal use. Dodd denies the charges.

Most Democrats and Republicans agree that it's impossible to codify integrity or legislate propriety. Over the decades, both the House and the Senate have established precedents which allow members with big oil holdings to promote legislation benefiting the petroleum industry. Congressmen who own big farms can sit on key committees and vote major price supports for crops they raise on their own land. Bankers can sit on committees which form laws affecting fiscal and banking policies.

And even now, it's not considered completely improper in the current Congress to practice a bit of polite nepotism. A recent Associated Press survey revealed that more than fifty senators and representatives had their wives, sons, or daughters or some other relative on their payrolls at some time during the past year.

It seems to be inevitable that the House will again attempt to draw up a code of ethics for its members. The Senate already has an Ethics Committee, which after many years has not gotten around to drawing up a code of behavior—although the committee says it will produce one this year for sure.

Joe Clark of Pennsylvania and Clifford Case of New Jersey are proposing legislation which would require every senator to reveal in detail his personal wealth and sources of income.

Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen, however, regards such disclosure regulations as childish. "I did not give up my citizenship when I came to the Senate," Dirksen declares.

The late Senator Robert Kerr of Oklahoma took another tack. Kerr was an oil millionaire who voted enthusiastically for all legislation benefiting the petroleum industry.

"My constituents expected me to do it," the Oklahoma Democrat used to say. "After all, Oklahoma is an oil state. Hell, if everyone abstained from voting on the grounds of personal interest, I doubt you could get a quorum in the United States Senate on any subject."

Was he right—or was he wrong?

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.

September 21, 2017

1940. New York Times: What Would a Nazi Invasion of Britain Look Like?

Britain Prepares for a Fight to the Death
"The British Isles: Decisive Battleground in Europe's Struggle." Map printed in The New York Times, June 23, 1940
From The New York Times, June 23, 1940:
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN: HOW WILL IT BE FOUGHT?
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
Hitler Must First Try to Win Complete Mastery of Air Before Attempting An All-Out Assault on the Island
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯
By HANSON W. BALDWIN

As the Germans drove deeper into France last week and France signed an armistice, Britain, facing a Continent dominated by her enemies, prepared for a fight to the death.
The impending "Battle of Britain," as Prime Minister Churchill made clear, will be more than another battle; it may be the final act in a tragic drama of long duration.

The opening phase of this battle may have been marked last week by the bombs dropped in the Ruhr and on British towns, but at the week-end it was not clear how soon it would reach its maximum intensity or to what extent its course would be affected or postponed by the terms of the French peace or possible Hitlerian overtures for a final peace with Britain. It seems certain, however, that Hitler will act quickly; his whole strategy is based on speed.

It seems equally certain that, if he wins the Battle of Britain, Hitler has won the war and probably ended the life of the empire upon which the sun never sets; whereas, if Britain wins the battle, her task has only begun. For the impending struggle is climactic in the fate of the British Empire and in the course of the war—if Hitler wins. If Hitler loses the Battle of Britain, he has lost in his attempt to crush the empire, but he has not lost the war; he still retains his hold upon the Continent of Europe, unless his repulse is so decisive as to cause Germany's collapse. That is possible but unlikely.

Britain's Two Big Tasks

Britain therefore has ahead of her two gigantic and separate tasks; first, the defense of Britain, the home base; second, subsequent operations designed to win the war. Entirely aside from the defensive measures which Britain must pursue in order to escape being crushed, she must adopt measures other than the blockade if she hopes to crush Germany.

Britain's fleet, it is true, is still supreme at sea, but in the Napoleonic wars it was not alone the stout walls of her navy that defeated Napoleon, but a combination of blockade with the power of the British pound and a system of opportunistic alliances. Today Britain has to blockade a continent. Her blockade plus the ravages of war may induce a famine in Europe next Winter, but we can be sure it will not be the Germans who will starve. The pound may again try to do the work of soldiers as it did 100 years ago, but it will be difficult to make it serve in a Europe dominated by economic autarchy. And the potential allies of Britain are, for the moment, few and frightened—a hesitant and alarmed Turkey; perhaps in the future a threatened Russia, though even this seems unlikely.

Dependence on Allies

The second of Britain's tasks therefore—the winning of the war—seems tremendous. But it must be clear that this second task is distinct from and does not necessarily stem from the first, which is the defense of Britain against a Germany still on the offensive, still retaining the initiative as she has done since the war began. But the first must be successfully conducted if the second ever is to develop. It seems apparent, therefore, that if Britain can ward off the immediate and deadly danger threatening her the war might yet be a long one, with unpredictable developments and Britain's chance of ultimate victory depending mainly on allies. Or the combatants might negotiate a peace, the terms of which might well leave Hitler in virtual control of the Continent and England with her empire still intact.

What are Britain's chances of guarding herself against the Hitlerian blow?

There are two ways in which Germany, with the help of Italy, can strike at the "tight little isle." One is a campaign of attrition or blockade—blockade by submarines and planes and perhaps small surface ships such as motor torpedo boats. The other is a campaign of assault. The method of one is starvation, the other of invasion; one is investment, the other attack.

Applying the Methods

There are several means of applying either of these methods; in fact, the two methods in some instances merge, and in such instances the Germans by one operation may utilize the methods of both investment and assault.

A bombing raid, for example, against docks, warehouses, shipping and convoys would not only tend to increase the difficulties of applying England but also would strike from the air against the people of England and against their morale. A raid from the sea in which guns took the place of bombs would serve the same double purpose; so, too, would long-distance artillery fire from emplacements at Calais and Dunkerque against the southeast coast and the Thames docks.

Even so, with submarines assisting in the blockade, a campaign of attrition in which bombing raids were limited to ports and perhaps munitions factories and no actual physical invasion was attempted might require too much time for Hitler's purpose. No sudden, blinding results, such as those that have occurred in the West since May 10, could then be expected and there would be time for American aid to become more effective. Besides, this method would permit the British Navy to operate under conditions most favorable to it, against an enemy it now understands how to cope with. The slow process of attrition would not seem to accord either with Hitlerian strategy or with German tradition. A blockade of England unquestionably will be attempted, but almost certainly it will be accompanied by an assault.

Methods of Assault

This may take two forms: the first, widespread and relentless assault by bombing against docks, factories, sources of supply, power stations and ultimately if not initially against the people—all with the idea of crushing the will of the people and of the nation to resist. The second form may be assault from the air as preliminary to actual physical invasion—from the air by parachute troops and transport planes; from the sea by small parties landed from small boats, submarines or light vessels at widely separated points. If a port should be captured, these invaders would be reinforced by troops transported in larger ships.

It is thus clear that regardless of what method or combination of methods the Germans may elect to try, air power will play the principal role in victory or defeat, for it is only through the full use of air power that the Germans can hope to win a definite victory either by assault or by blockade. Thus the first battles must be air battles. The Germans must decisively win air superiority over the British Isles if their plans are to succeed.

But the British, though on the strategical defensive against the German assaults, do not have to remain quiescent, withholding action until the German blows are launched. Their fleet with its attempted blockade of the Continent of Europe is actually an offensive instrument and, tactically, the bombers of the Royal Air Force which are already ranging deep into Germany, bombing the Ruhr, are important instruments of retaliation, offensive weapons of defense.

Bombing of Enemy Planes

In this first struggle for air superiority both sides will strive to reduce the enemy's air strength by bombing his planes on the ground, to reduce the enemy's capacity for plane replacements by bombing aircraft factories, to reduce capacity for plane operation by bombing air fields and fuel supplies.

Such a struggle must preface and accompany submarine and motor torpedo boat operations in the narrow waters around Britain by some of the 150 to 250 submarines and several score of motor torpedo boats available to the Axis powers. Britain will counter with the convoy system, the surface ships of her powerful navy and the plane.

If invasion is attempted it cannot be expected until Britain has been "softened" by preliminary operations intended to disrupt communications, disorganize defense, cut off outside supplies.

Then, if invasion does come, it is more likely to be general rather than limited—parachute troops dropping all over the country; small boats landing small bodies of troops all along the eastern and southern coasts, in attempts to establish bridgeheads on British soil, at strips of beaches and airports, where reinforcements in considerable numbers could be landed.

What Troops Would Do

If troops are once landed in sufficient numbers—and there are a thousand difficulties between the writing and the doing—the effort will undoubtedly be to cut Britain into separate unconnected areas by spearheads thrust along the lines of her great water courses and communication arteries. Drives must be attempted, for instance, from the Wash to the Thames or to the Severn in the south; from the Humber to the Mersey; from the Tyne to Solway Firth; from the Firth of Forth to the Clyde, and from Moray Firth to Loch Linnhe.

But such operations are at present only speculative and must be opportunistic. The Battle of Britain must first be fought in the air. The Summer months will tell a tale unpredictable in its outcome but certain to be sanguinary in its results.

September 20, 2017

1942. RAF Strikes Northern Italy, Eighth Army Fights in North Africa

United Nations Aims to Tear Italy from the Axis
"Dawn of El Alamein Battle, tanks waiting to advance," 1942 (Photo by Frank Hurleysource)
Bill Downs

CBS London

October 25, 1942

Big four-engined Lancaster bombers of the RAF did it again last night. Only a few hours after a strong British force made the war's most daring daylight raid on Milan yesterday afternoon, more Lancasters took advantage of the full moon and dropped more "block buster" bombs on Milan last night. Only five British bombers are missing from last night's raid and only three from yesterday afternoon's attack.

It was the fourth raid on the Northern Italy industrial area in 48 hours. You remember the Genoa area was bombed Thursday and Friday nights. The Italian radio has admitted extensive damage from the two raids on Milan. The Italians also say that there were many civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, there was other bad news for Mussolini from the Egyptian desert. The British Eighth Army is continuing its offensive, and this communiqué said advanced elements had by dawn yesterday penetrated the enemy's main position at some points. The communiqué said these advances were maintained despite counterattacks and that fighting is continuing. The Allied air forces over the Egyptian battle area are maintaining forceful aerial superiority.

Coupled with the bombing of Northern Italy and the recent decision by the United States government not to treat Italians in America as enemy aliens, it would appear that the United Nations may be making an all-out effort to divorce Italy from the Axis.

Perhaps it is significant that this move came after Myron Taylor, the American ambassador to the Vatican, made his report to President Roosevelt which must have included his observations of the morale of the Italian people. It long has been reported that the ordinary Italian has little stomach for the war. But whether a series of devastating bombers and military reversals for the Italians will solidify the people or make them more despondent remains to be seen.

There is more optimism in London today than there has been for many weeks. However, it is a healthily cautious optimism. The British people have suffered disappointments in North Africa before. They don't intend to be fooled by a series of paper victories again.

However, the newspapers already are speculating as to the enormous advantages of completing a successful campaign in North Africa. For example, the Daily Express says that, besides the destruction of German and Italian forces in North Africa, the Allied objectives might include a push into Tripoli "to win unassailable mastery of the Mediterranean, to put the German jackal Mussolini in his cage, to bring relief and confidence to Russia."

And then the Daily Express continues, "The Allies must break Germany into pieces, win the war in Europe, and then turn with China to deal finally with Japan."

That is the Daily Express war program. It makes pretty good reading. We can only wait and see if the Allied victory can be obtained this way.

September 19, 2017

1970. The Soviet Union and West Germany Sign the Treaty of Moscow

Signs of a Possible Détente
West Germany Chancellor Willy Brandt and East German Prime Minister Willi Stoph meet in Erfurt, East Germany on March 19, 1970, marking the first such meeting between East and West German heads of government (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 13, 1970

It was only a few months ago that the Kremlin's propaganda drums were beating out variations on a twenty-year hymn of hate, attacking the West German republic as the revanchist tool of American imperialism; charging that Chancellor Willy Brandt and his lackeys were conspiring US capitalist warmongers to obtain nuclear weapons with which to launch a new global conflict to avenge Nazi Germany's defeat by the Soviet Union.

In fact, Moscow's sing-song of threat and vituperation over the years became so repetitive that Bonn and West Europeans got used to it, like the background rumble of a faulty air conditioner.

But with the negotiation and signing of a non-aggression treaty between West Germany and the Soviet Union, the bristling propaganda talks have ceased and the sudden diplomatic hush from Radio Moscow has made everyone a little nervous.

Virtually every world capital—outside of Peking—has applauded this evidence of détente between the two countries. But at the same time, everyone remembers what happened the last time the Russians and Germans got together for a treaty-signing party—back in 1939 when Stalin made the deal that left Hitler free to attack Poland and start World War II.

Chancellor Willy Brandt's success in establishing an opening to the East now makes West Germany, politically, what she already had achieved economically—the most powerful nation in Western Europe.

Why did the Soviet leaders choose to so elevate the Bonn government at this time? The Kremlin-watchers here in Washington have several theories. One is that Russia is in bad shape economically; her industry falling behind the capitalist world, as evidenced by Moscow's attempt to get Henry Ford to build an auto industry there. The Ruhr industrialists have the tools and skills which Russia needs.

Another theory is that the Politburo decided to recognize the fact of West Germany's growing influence as part of an overall détente with the West, as evidenced in the SALT talks in Vienna and Russo-American collaboration to cool down the Middle East crisis. One view is that the Kremlin is shoring up her Western borders in order to concentrate on what appears to be an inevitable confrontation with Communist China.

The most important achievement of the Bonn-Moscow non-aggression treaty is that the Brandt government formalizes the Oder-Neisse line ceding to Poland some highly strategic territory that formerly was German. It also legalizes the line that bisects East and West Germany with the rhetorical provision that the two Germanys in the future may be allowed to unite by legal and peaceful procedures. Whatever that may mean to Willy Brandt, to the Kremlin it means any future German reunification will be done Communist-style.

Brandt was born in Berlin which, like Russia, uses the bear as its symbol. After the Bonn-Moscow treaty, the world's most popular pastime will be to see which bear has whose bear—by the tail.

September 18, 2017

1967. Leaders Gather for Inter-American Summit in Uruguay

Addressing the North-South Divide
Conference table at the meeting of American chiefs of state at Punta del Este in Uruguay, April 12, 1967 (Photo by Yoichi Okamoto - source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

April 16, 1967

The general geography of the world has presented mankind with a paradox.

We commonly think of our globe as being divided by the equator into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. However, the geopolitical experts here in Washington and in other major capitals around the world point out that the astronomers correctly made this division for the sun's-eye view of earth, but not for the people's-eye view of its inhabitants.

By what supernatural or accidental design, the population division of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is on the Arctic side of the equator, and from an economic and sociological viewpoint, the dividing line varies somewhere between the 30th and 45th parallels above the Tropic of Cancer.

By accident of history, the sociologists agree that the people who live north of this arbitrary line include the most advanced, industrialized, and developed nations of the globe, while those who live south of this zonal latitude generally include the so-called "have-not" nations awaiting development; areas which may be rich in natural resources but which history has passed over.

We hasten to point out that there are exceptions to this generalized view of the world. For example, Mongolia and mainland China are the exceptions in the Northern Hemisphere, while Australia and New Zealand disprove the rule in the Southern.

However, during this second half of the twentieth century the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and the Soviet Union are confronted with the problems of poverty and ignorance and social unrest of such magnitude in the have-not areas of the world that, unless the wealthy attempt to tackle and solve these problems in the poverty-stricken Southern Hemisphere, there is danger that all will be dragged downward into a morass of starvation and chaos.

Many sociologists and economists here in Washington and elsewhere in the Free World say that the twin problems of population explosion and diminishing world food production form a more serious and imminent threat to modern mankind than do all the nuclear weapons in all the military arsenals in the Northern Hemisphere.

So as this week in Washington ended, it was against this background that President Johnson concluded his meetings with a score of Latin American leaders at the Punta del Este resort area in Uruguay, an inter-American summit conference which some cynics said was unnecessary and foredoomed to be a failure. So little enthusiasm was there for the meeting here in Washington, that the president's anti-Vietnam critics in the Senate joined in a move to withhold a Congressional resolution backing the high purposes and goals of the United States' participation in the conference.

However, as assessments of the Punta del Este meeting—and the Latin American reaction to it—still are being made, there is every indication that Mr. Johnson's mission developed into something far more significant and important than even the most optimistic diplomats had hoped. Notably, that the president of the United States voluntarily took time out from pressing domestic problems and the Vietnam War to confer with his neighbors south of the border, and thus had more than expected impact on Washington's Latin American allies.

Secondly, Mr. Johnson deliberately played down his role as the most powerful man at the conference, thus emphasizing the initial point of United States policy, originally made when the late President Kennedy inaugurated the inter-American Alliance for Progress back in 1961, that the success of this alliance would depend upon the Latin American nations' own desire and initiative to help themselves.

In his opening speech last week, Mr. Johnson said that if his Latin American colleagues could make the next ten years "a decade of urgency," then together they could create a new international America. The Punta del Este meeting should make a realistic assessment of the past six years of achievement, and by that Mr. Johnson implied they should also look at the failures and lack of achievement. But more important, the twenty heads of state at the conference should look to their own common obligations to the future.

All of this high-sounding rhetoric would have little meaning if the words were not followed by deeds, of course. And no one at Punte del Este was claiming that the six year history of the alliance for Progress had solved many of the major problems of population—lack of education and sanitation, the prevalence of disease and poverty, of blatant economic injustice and absentee landlordism, of traditional fears of agricultural diversity, suspicions of modern methodology, and in some Latin American countries, the burden of economic and political dictatorship.

What the alliance appears to have done since the inspirational proclamations of John F. Kennedy was to get a larger and wider recognition of those age-old problems among the countries themselves.

It is a cliche of modern government that the definition of the problem is the first step toward its solution. But, again and again, President Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and the members of the United States delegation emphasized that the urgency and initiative to find the answers must come from the Latin American governments concerned.

Consequently, the Punta del Este summit conference ended its session on Friday by approving a long-range program of economic and social development for the American peoples living in the geopolitical Southern Hemisphere of our globe. The formal document included a declaration of principles and a plan of action.

This plan called for the establishment of a Latin American common market by 1970 and specifying that it should be in full operation by 1985, some eighteen years from now. The common market would lower protective tariffs among its members. It would create a common currency to further alleviate barriers to inter-American commerce. A Latin American banking system would be established to permit inter-market movement of capital, and even of labor.

Secretary of State Rusk and his Washington economic experts had proposed this new approach to the economic problems of the alliance during the preparatory sessions the week before the arrival of the chiefs of state. Consequently, the adoption of the common market principle was a Rusk victory, but one that no one bothered to claim, so sensitive are the Latin American countries to the "Big Brother" from the north.

As The New York Times today explained the State Department's arguments, Rusk emphasized that, without economic integration, Latin America could not possibly hope to compete with the rest of the world as an equal. However, with a Latin American common market, the so-called "have-not" region could confront the world with a waiting market of nearly 250 million people, and with an economic capacity that, combined, would be far above today's gross national production of some $75 billion.

Secretary Rusk pointed out that United States aid to Latin America represents only a two percent contribution to the overall economy of the area, and that trade with the alliance represents the remaining 98 percent. Thus, the secretary reasoned, the answers to the southern continent's problems are contained in trade, not aid.

The Secretary of State was also expressing a political fact of life emanating from conditions in the United States, which is currently preoccupied with the war in Southeast Asia. As President Johnson later was to indicate, the Administration could not pledge in advance any increase in economic aid to the alliance, not while the conflict in Vietnam continues to intensify.

Only President Otto Arosemena Gómez demurred and refused to sign the Punta del Este "Declaration of the Presidents of the Americas." Arosemena said he rejected the document because "we consider that it does not satisfy the aspirations of our people..." The Ecuadorian chief of state charged that the United States was neglecting Latin American democracy while allegedly defending democracy in Vietnam. Arosemena has long been an advocate of a kind of US-financed "Marshall Plan" for South America, a proposition which Washington economists say would be inordinately costly and impractical at this stage of the game.

By contrast, President Johnson's final speech to the Uruguayan summit meeting sought to emphasize the "grand design" envisioned at the conference.

"The leaders of the Americas met in Punta del Este," he said, "to inaugurate one of the most audacious programs in the annals of mankind...The goal was to demonstrate that massive social and political transformation can be accomplished without the lash of dictatorship or the spur of terror..."

But again, the drive and initiative must come from enlightened leadership of the south-of-the-border governments concerned, and this means the hard task of breaking through ancient traditions and superstitions and the imposition of social and economic reforms. It means greater efforts to improve the living conditions, education, and health of more than 400 million people. It means land reform and programs for economic as well as social justice. It means common action against the present and the would-be dictators who still plague the southern continent. And it means meeting the political challenge of the Communists, including the Castroites, with democratic performance.

President Johnson said he would recommend to the US Congress that Washington make a substantial contribution to a fund designed to ease the economic birth pangs which may come with the creation of the common market for Latin America. He pointed out that his Administration already has asked Congress to increase the bilateral US aid to agricultural and educational projects in Latin America.

And then Mr. Johnson offered something new. The industrial and developed nations of the world—meaning the more fortunate peoples living in the geopolitical Northern Hemisphere of the globe—should act together to help the so-called "developing" nations of the world—meaning the "have-not" nations in the geopolitical Southern Hemisphere—not only in Latin America, but the underdeveloped countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

The United States and Canada, the prospering Marshall Plan nations in Europe, the economic giant that is the Soviet Union, and the miraculously wealthy postwar nation of Japan; in other words, the rich and successful nations should get together to find ways to give temporary trade and business advantages to the have-not countries now struggling to raise their economies to a level where they can engage in mutually profitable international commerce.

Just as the United States and Western Europe now are attempting to alleviate international tensions across the Iron Curtain by increasing commerce between the East and West, on a larger scale, the same thing might be done between the geopolitical Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

How far President Johnson will be able to advance his international trade and tariff policies in the economic councils of the United Nations, in Geneva, and elsewhere remains to be seen.

And here in Washington, the traditionally suspicious conservatives in Congress already are questioning the wisdom of so-called "unrestrained trade" with the Communist bloc. Ironically, they have been joined by some of the so-called liberals who object to the United States getting itself into a position of what they call "over-commitment" around the world.

While the conservatives argue that relaxed tariff agreements might mean unfair competition by the Communists which could threaten domestic industry—on the other hand, their Congressional allies in this argument seem to be developing what might be called a "liberal isolationism," claiming that United States generosity, plus a pathological aversion to Communism, has led this country into untenable positions and commitments; specifically, the war in Vietnam.

As viewed across this ABC microphone here in Washington, there does not seem much chance that the United States will suddenly "go isolationist," as it were, and try the impossible contortion of withdrawing to a defensive continental position behind our Atlantic and Pacific shores.

But there is a kind of "psychological isolationism" at loose in this country which might endanger the hopeful and idealistic programs outlined this past week in Punta del Este.

Meanwhile the rich nations will get richer, and the geopolitical southern half of the globe will grow poorer, more hopeless and desperate. And in this condition, both hemispheres of the earth face doom.

The doom can, of course, be avoided—say, by the holocaust of nuclear war. But the scientists and diplomats are making gradual progress against the threat of annihilation. They can do the same to prevent the slower death from overpopulation and starvation.

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.

September 17, 2017

1950. East German Lieutenant Testifies Soviets Building a German Army

Reports of an East German Military Force
"East German National People’s Army soldiers man an unfinished part of the Berlin Wall on August 18, 1961 at the town's sector division in Berlin, Germany" (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 28, 1950

A young German lieutenant in the Soviet zone People's Police testified in an American military court this morning that he is being trained in a nucleus Communist army in East Germany under the direction of Russian military authorities.

21-year-old Lieutenant Heinz Nocht, one of eight People's Police picked up in the American sector of Berlin two weeks ago, pleaded guilty to wearing the uniform of a paramilitary organization, to the possession of illegal weapons, and transporting these weapons.

Nocht and one other young German entered guilty pleas. The other six policemen will be tried next Tuesday.

The young man confirmed intelligence reports of long standing that Soviet authorities were building a German military force in their zone. Nocht specified he was a member of a military unit and not a police unit. These units will participate in May Day and Whitsun demonstrations in Berlin.

Nocht told the court that he joined the East German police upon his release from a Russian prison camp and that at first he had received normal police training. But suddenly he found himself transferred to Saxony, where he joined an infantry unit of between 800 and 1,000 men. There, Nocht said, he began getting basic military training the same as he had in Hitler's Wehrmacht.

The People's Police, Nocht testified, are training with armored cars, Russian and German tanks, automatic weapons, and artillery. Sometimes the training lasts ten hours a day. And always there was a session of Communist indoctrination from the unit's political commissar.

Nocht testified that there are 36 such units in the Russian zone of Germany, which would make the strength of this Communist armed force between 29 and 36 thousand men.

Included in the People's Police, Nocht said, is a naval unit stationed at a nearby inland port—there are also air force units under training which study military aviation theory and technique. Nocht said he did not know whether these units were supplied with planes.

Nocht said the truck carrying the eight People's policemen got into the American sector by mistake. He said he was on leave to East Berlin but that the truck and the other members of the group were in town to pick up supplies. Their unit is stationed at Magdeburg, near the British-Russian zonal border crossing point to the West.

The trial continues this afternoon.

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