November 30, 2017

1950. East Criticizes Western Preconditions for Reunifying Germany

Sharp Disagreement Over German Reunification
The Central Theater in Leipzig featuring East German National Front propaganda posters reading "Hand in Hand für ein Einiges Vaterland! Unsere Theater gehören dem Volk" ("Hand in hand for a united fatherland! Our theaters belong to the people"), 1951 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

March 1, 1950

The West made two moves today in a new attempt to solve the East-West division of Germany and to get some sort of rapprochement underway in the Cold War before the spring "crisis season" begins.

High Commissioner John J. McCloy's proposal for a unified Germany based on free elections in all occupation zones has received widespread approval in the Western press, but in the Communist newspapers it is called "agitation" which attacks the Russian-sponsored National Front, which is termed "the only basis for reunification."

More practical, and probably more important in the long run, is the agreement reached in Berlin by East and West German economic commissions to resume steel shipments from the Ruhr to the Russian zone. The Western high commissioners have also authorized the Bonn government to deliver $7 million worth of steel rails to Communist China, which would appear to forecast closer economic ties between East and West. These two moves give a substantial basis for closer relationships between the participants in the Cold War.

Some economists here see Moscow's announcement finally placing the ruble on the gold standard as an important step in the new Russian attempt to stimulate trade across the Iron Curtain, a development which will have a vital effect on the West German economy. The critical shortages in all phases of Eastern industry, particularly for spare parts and machine tools, is admitted in this morning's Tägliche Rundschau, the official Soviet newspaper.

In discussing the imminent spring planting season in East Germany's collectivized agriculture, the newspaper charges that 40 percent of the tractors to be used this spring are not workable because of the lack of spare parts. Rundschau also attacks German farmers for failing to cooperate in a fertilizer campaign and declares that some 29,000 tons of seed potatoes are still short for the 1950 crop.

High Commissioner McCloy leaves for Washington the day after tomorrow to appear before a Congressional appropriations committee and to confer with State Department officials in Washington. He will be absent from Germany for about a week.

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

CBS Berlin

March 3, 1950

The East-West argument over Berlin is assuming all the characteristics of a neighborhood brawl today.

The Russian commandant has written another note to the three Western commandants. High Commissioner McCloy is being called all printable names this side of profanity, and a Communist propagandist has written another demand in the Eastern newspapers that all Americans go home.

The other day the American high commissioner reiterated US policy that a unified Germany is possible if free democratic elections were held throughout the country. Mr. McCloy also proposed that such elections would be possible on October 19, when the East German government is expected to allow a Communist-style election in the Soviet zone.

Reaction to this proposal has been particularly sharp. The Eastern newspapers call Mr. McCloy the "American satrap," a "liar," an "unmasked hypocrite," and say "the reason for his proposal is the shaking fear facing the increased movement of the National Front" under which the Communists propose German unity.

The "Go Home" campaign being directed particularly against Americans here today has an answer from the Western commanders. This campaign is aimed at the announced demonstration of more than a half million Eastern German youth on May 28.

This march, labeled the Deutschlandtreffen, is called "a transparent attempt to exploit German youth for Communist ends." General Maxwell Taylor and his colleagues endorsed a statement by Berlin's mayor that the Communist youth movement will not be allowed to march or demonstrate in the Western sectors of Berlin.

Any provocative acts or demonstrations which may be attempted will be suppressed, an official statement declares. "The commandants will take all necessary measures to assure the maintenance of public order and safety."

Thus does the fat get on the fire.

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

November 29, 2017

1970. Bloated Defense Establishment Reels from High-Profile Crises

Pentagon's Mistakes in the Spotlight
Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird (right) meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1969. From left to right: Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas Moorer, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Earle Wheeler, Army Chief of Staff General William Westmoreland, Air Force Chief of Staff General John Ryan, and Marine Corps Commandant General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 12, 1970

It's been more than a month now since that Blue Ribbon Panel of distinguished civilians issued its recommendations for a major reorganization of the Defense Department.

Panel chairman Gilbert Fitzhugh proposed some 113 changes in the Pentagon system; changes urgently needed because, as Fitzhugh says, the excessive cost overruns, the expensive failures of new weapons systems, duplication of effort in the separate services, and the general overall waste and inefficiency in the sprawling defense establishment due mainly to one thing.

Everyone has a hand in running so much that goes on at the Pentagon, therefore no one has the responsibility for anything.

In a discussion with the panel chairman yesterday, Fitzhugh revealed that the Blue Ribbon investigation turned up a number of horrible examples of top-level snafus that are so sensitive and embarrassing that they have been classified top secret in the interests of national security.

Since these secret failures of the defense establishment must have occurred during recent crises in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, I went back to the Fitzhugh critique on military intelligence, because the two most embarrassing, painful, and costly foul-ups to become public in the past few years were the incidents involving the spy ship Liberty—which lost thirty-four men killed when it was in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Israeli-Arab Six Day War—and the other monumental snafu, the North Korean capture of the USS Pueblo.

Fitzhugh refused to say that these incidents were involved in the report's blast at the Defense Intelligence Agency, which was supposed to collate information from the Army, Navy, and Air Force for a combined military assessment.

But, says the Fitzhugh panel, this unified service effort was a flop; a case of the DIA having too many jobs and too many masters. Also the Service Chiefs increased their own little intelligence empires, presumably to prevent derogatory information about their particular service branch from getting into channels.

Also edited out of the Fitzhugh report was any discussion of the military's relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency or the more mysterious National Security Agency. It was widely reported that both the Liberty and the Pueblo were under the overall direction of the National Security Agency when they got into trouble, and that intelligence communications were so bad that emergency messages ended up in some very strange places.

Publicly, these intelligence foul-ups were never fully explained. I wonder if the Blue Ribbon Panel ever got the real story behind the Pueblo and Liberty—or if anyone ever will.

Just about everyone agrees that the inter-service rivalry between the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines is a good thing—up to a point. And that point is when jealous generals and admirals begin interfering with the facts, no matter how distasteful. The Fitzhugh report indicates something like this happened during the Pueblo and Liberty incidents.

Because if the president and his National Security Board do not have the truth about our weaknesses as well as our own strengths, then the Pentagon might as well shut up shop.

This is Bill Downs in Washington.

November 28, 2017

1970. Celebrities Enter the World of Politics

California's Bellwether Gubernatorial Race
Bob Hope, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra in 1977
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 14, 1970

As far as we can find out, young Abe Lincoln was one of the first American politicians to wisecrack his way into Congress, later using his humor as a shield against the agonies of the Civil War. But what Lincoln proved in Illinois when he was just getting started was that votes can be wooed by entertainment as well as oratory.

The old-time traveling medicine men used the same techniques to sell snake oil. "Pass the Biscuits" Pappy O'Daniel rode into the Texas statehouse back in the '30s behind a hillbilly band. And now it's almost standard procedure for candidates to warm up an audience with either some inspired Dixieland jazz or country hoedowns blasting off of a public address system.

It doesn't always work, though, as third party presidential candidate George Wallace can testify. And not even old-time cowboy movie star Tex Ritter, armed with his trusty guitar, could pick his way through the brambles of Tennessee politics.

However, showbiz is playing an increasingly important role in national elections, particularly since radio and TV. The election of George Murphy to the Senate and his friend and co-star Ronald Reagan to the California statehouse proves that. For better or worse, voters can project their favorite shadows from the screen and tube into the real world of politics.

Consequently, the Hollywood star as campaigner and fundraiser has become a political factor nationally, and in this off-year election, particularly in California, where the state's Mr. Democrat Jesse Unruh is challenging Republican Governor Reagan.

Here in Washington, both the GOP and Democratic national committees regard this contest for the Sacramento statehouse as the most crucial contest in the November voting. Although heavily Democratic, that party's leaders fear a Reagan victory might turn the state legislature Republican, a serious setback for the Democrats now planning for the 1972 presidential go-round.

So the entertainment industry's big names are being rolled out like artillery pieces. The Unruh Democrats boast such names as Gene Kelly, Dustin Hoffman, Diahann Carroll, Trini Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Cosby, and Robert Wise.

The Reagan Republicans boast of Chuck Connors, Walter Brennan, Dean Martin, Bob Cummings, and Buddy Ebsen—and one very important added backer, Frank Sinatra.

For Sinatra it's a party shift, for he has been a major Democratic fundraiser and in 1966 opposed Reagan. Now the millionaire crooner says he thinks Reagan is the best man for the job. It's a blow to Jesse Unruh's campaign. The California Republicans have all the political money they need; the state's Democrats are scratching for it. But comedian Pat Paulsen says he will replace Sinatra as the sex symbol of the Unruh political camp.

A pretty face, the inflated glamor of the screen, is not an automatic pass into political office, as Mrs. Charles Black—née Shirley Temple—found in her unsuccessful bid for Congress a few years ago. As a writer, some of my best friends are actors. But the best of them work so hard in their narrow, ego-stretching jobs that they have little time for anyone else. There are exceptions, of course. There always are.

This is Bill Downs in Washington.

November 27, 2017

1950. East Berlin Announces the Creation of the Stasi

The Ministry of State Security is Formed
Minister of State Security Erich Mielke during the naming ceremony of the Felix Dzerzhinsky Guards Regiment, December 15, 1967 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 27, 1950

The "90 percent blockade" of truck traffic into Berlin ends its second week today. At the Helmstedt checkpoint some 300 vehicles, some of which have been standing 36 hours, are lined up awaiting clearance by Russian transport authorities. Another 150 vehicles are queued on the Eastern side of the border for clearance out of the Soviet zone.

Only two to three trucks are cleared each hour, cutting traffic to about 10 percent of normal. Russia's General Kotikov has not replied to a protest against the traffic restrictions delivered last night by the three Western Berlin commandants.

The actions here in Germany—one on each side of the Iron Curtain—serve to illustrate the schizophrenic nature of this divided country.

In Bonn yesterday two right-wing deputies staged a fistfight in the lobby of the parliament building. A Bavarian representative attacked a member of the Economic Reconstruction Party, which claims representation for more than a million German refugees from the East. The Bavarian said it was inappropriate that a delegate claiming to represent these poor people should be driving around Bonn in a luxurious automobile. Since the accused man struck the first blow, he was excluded from the federal diet for the next 20 sessions.

In East Berlin, the Communist puppet government announces that it finds it necessary to establish a Ministry of Security. The decision was taken after a police survey which revealed widespread resistance and sabotage against the Communist regime. A lengthy resolution against incendiarism and widespread anti-government pamphlets was adopted by the Eastern parliament.

The East German government also pays tribute to Democratic propaganda methods. They attack RIAS, the American-controlled radio station in Berlin, as the main agitator for resistance in the Soviet zone. The official Soviet newspaper, Tägliche Rundschau, promises sensational disclosures of espionage and sabotage tomorrow.

West Berlin's Socialist party, the most aggressive political organization here, has been staging a series of meetings on the borders of the Russian sector of the city calling for ouster of the Communists and free elections for the entire city. As is to be expected, each meeting produces its share of trouble.

Last night, the Socialists got more than they bargained for. The Communists packed the meeting and succeeded in breaking it up the moment it started. Today both Socialists and Communists are wearing black eyes and bumps on their heads.

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

CBS Berlin

January 28, 1950

Russian transport authorities today have relaxed somewhat their slowdown of truck transport into Berlin. However, more than 150 trucks are lined up at Helmstedt as East Berlin police continue harassing tactics in handling permits and bills of lading in what they call a "document education campaign."

But the most interesting news in Germany today comes from the German Communist satellite government of the East.

Yesterday it was announced that the East Berlin government is establishing a Ministry of Security—in other words, formalizing the establishment of another Gestapo to protect their government and keep the Communists in power.

To justify this most important and final move in their creation of a police state, the official Russian newspaper, Tägliche Rundschau, publishes a full-page report of sabotage and other incidents over the past year which have been overt attacks on the regime. All of these incidents have been inspired by American and British espionage services behind the Iron Curtain, the paper declares.

Under the headline "Gangster, Robbers and Murderers," the article lists four explosions in powder factories in the Soviet zone that resulted in 18 deaths. Other crimes against the state include the distribution of anti-Communist pamphlets, attacks against Communist officials, and the collection of economic data for sale to British and American intelligence. 27 persons have been arrested.

The story is significant for two reasons. First, it is an official admission of widespread opposition from a large section of the East German population. Secondly, it touches off a new campaign of repression which probably will result in a series of treason trials and further consolidation of political parties around the Communist core.

There has been surprisingly little reaction from the East on the signing of the Atlantic Pact arms aid treaties. It has been expected that when American arms deliveries begin arriving in Europe, it will be a most critical time in the East-West Cold War.

However, in Berlin today only one Communist paper comments with the usual vehemence. "Arms deliveries are a new attack on the peace...The United States is getting Europe under complete military control."

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

November 26, 2017

1942. RAF Pilots Make American Friends Feel at Home

Prima Donnas of the Air Force in Britain
"Two fliers of the 8th Bomber Command clad in high altitude flying clothes including sheepskin coats & helmets, oxygen masks and sunglass goggles, at airdrome in southern England," 1942 (source)
RAF Pilots Do Fine and Friendly Things for U. S. Flier Buddies
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By WILLIAM R. DOWNS
United Press Staff Correspondent

A Spitfire Base Somewhere in England — (UP) RAF pilots have given up some of their best planes, fields and barracks to boost American morale by making United States fliers feel at home.

In some cases, British fliers are living in tents at half-finished fields, while Yanks occupy comfortable billets and their former bases. British officers have loaned out cooking staffs until such time as the Americans can organize their own facilities.

As a result, I found in a tour of American bases here, United States fliers have the greatest respect for their British comrades. The British, too, are most pleased with the Americans.

American fighter pilots, who form the "infantry of the air" in sky battles over the continent, are the prima donnas of the United States Army air forces in Britain. Their every ache, pain, gripe, and sign of temper are noted carefully by doctors, intelligence officers and flight commanders.

A careful watch is kept on their morale, which may depend on any number of circumstances from the meals they eat to the entertainment that is provided during their off-hours.

American officers have told me—and I believe it from what I've seen here—that the morale of American pilots in Spitfire squadrons is the highest of any fliers anywhere.

Among factors which contribute to this are the confidence the American pilots have in their equipment and the respect they have for the men who command them.

Great competition exists between the various American Spitfire squadrons in Britain, and it is not unusual for fliers to hang around the field during their leisure hours for fear they may miss something. But the competitive spirit disappears once the men are in the air. For they know their lives depend on teamwork.

November 25, 2017

1942. American Volunteer Flier Tells His Story

Flier Who Joined Up With the RAF Speaks from Hospital
"American volunteer pilots of No.121 (Eagle) Sqaudron playing poker in the dispersal hut at RAF Rochford in Essex during August 1942" (source)
With Back Broken in Three Places, Flier Has Chance to Win Argument With His Doctors
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By WILLIAM R. DOWNS
United Press Staff Correspondent

Royal Air Force Hospital, Eastern England — (UP) Alex "Scotty" Cooke, former Los Angeles movie script writer, has been arguing with the doctors for nine months about his back, which is broken in three places.

The doctors said Scotty was going to die. He said he wasn't. That went on for months. Today the doctors are a little hopeful that they may have been wrong, but they aren't too optimistic. Scotty, however, is just as determined as ever, even when he has to bite his lips to fight the pain.

Scotty, 33, is one of nineteen men who paid their own way from the United States to Great Britain to fight with the RAF and he's the only one left.

He lies between electric blankets day and night and there isn't a moment when he isn't in pain, but he says he hasn't a complaint.

"So I copped a Burton," he grinned. "So what? I've seen plenty."

Cooke became a gunner on a Wellington bomber when he made the grade with the RAF, but right now he's fighting a tougher battle than anyone he ran into on the fifty trips he made over enemy territory. His sister, Mrs. Barbara Lambert, lives in Berkeley, Calif., and Scotty says of her:

"She's been prepared for me to snuff out but I've fooled her so many times that I think I can do it again."

Cooke gets lonesome for Americans to talk with, and he told me that while he had held numerous jobs in the United States he enjoyed most the days when he worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a scriptwriter and dabbled in songwriting.

Talking about the nineteen men who bought their own tickets to fight the Axis, he said:

"We thought we would have a little fun, see some action and do some good before the United States came into the war. Baby, we got what we came for. Those guys came from Texas, New York, California, the Carolinas, the Middle West and all over. We knew it would be dangerous and that some of those tickets would lead straight into a German prison camp. Now I'm the only one left."

November 24, 2017

1950. Opposite Reactions in Germany to Truman's Hydrogen Bomb Decision

Traffic Slowdown at Helmstedt-Marienborn Checkpoint
British motorized units near the Berlin sector border, June 1, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

February 1, 1950

President Truman's decision to proceed with the construction of the hydrogen bomb is the big news in Germany today. As is to be expected, German reaction depends upon which side of the Iron Curtain from which it comes.

Perhaps the most typical reaction from the West is the headline of an editorial in the British-licensed newspaper The Telegraph. This headline asks, "Peace Through Power?" with a great big question mark behind it. The paper says that it is the fault of the Kremlin that world statesmen are returning to the principle that "if you would have peace, prepare for war."

Berlin's leading Communist newspapers evidently haven't got the word from Moscow yet. Tägliche Rundschau carries the decision in a three-line item. But the German party paper Berliner Zeitung declares that President Truman's order means recognition of the use of mass destruction methods which have been outlawed by "the entire civilized and peaceful world as fascist barbarity."

The Russian-controlled Berlin radio station said that the entire world is indignant because of the American decision.

These events, however, haven't changed a thing at the Helmstedt checkpoint on the autobahn to Berlin.

More than 100 trucks are lined up there now as the Russians continue their slowdown of vehicle shipping to this city. The rate today is four or five trucks an hour with no sign of a letup. As a matter of fact, East German transport authorities are hinting that there may be interference with rail traffic too.

Again the sensitive spot is the elevated rail system which handles traffic in and out of the city. The Russian-controlled rail management today charges that new terror attacks are being made against the system; that trained saboteurs have caused serious damage.

All sectors have been having trouble with thieves who have been cutting out sections of copper cable for sale to Berlin industries. And last night there was a bad collision between two elevated trains in the French sector. This was due, however, to a faulty signal which the rail management had failed to repair.

It is possible that the Eastern transportation authorities could use the elevated as an excuse for slowing down train traffic, just as they now are slowing truck traffic.

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

November 23, 2017

1942. Eagle Squadron Pilots Celebrate Aerial Victories

"I Got Him"
"American volunteer pilots of No.121 (Eagle) Squadron run to their aircraft at RAF Rochford in Essex, August 1942. Flying Officer Barry Mahon (left) and Flight Lieutenant Seldon R Edner run to their aircraft as they are given the order to scramble" (source)
United Press article from May 28, 1942:
"I Got Him," Shouts Returning Pilot
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By WILLIAM R. DOWNS
United Press Staff Correspondent

An Eagle Squadron Fighter Station, Somewhere in England — (UP) Fliers of the second American Eagle Squadron were sitting in a dispersal hut, listening to a phonograph grind "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" for the twentieth time.

It was late afternoon when the telephone rang and the man who answered it said, "Something's up."

The Eagles walked out, a couple blowing kisses at the picture of a pretty girl on the wall, saying, "See you later, toots."

The adjutant, the liaison officer and the dispersal officer immediately began to act like expectant fathers pacing the floor in a maternity ward. They couldn't be quiet until the Eagles returned.

Barry Mahon, 21, of Bakersfield, Calif., was the first to land, and he was grinning.

"I got him!" he said as he climbed from the Spitfire. "A stinking Focke-Wulf 190. I got him right in the sights 200 yards astern with at least a second and a half of cannon fire. But dammit, I couldn't see him crash. I was just too busy. But I got him okay. I was smoking like a chimney and heading for the sea."

Others now pouring in could confirm Mahon's bag. Shouting because they were still deaf from the motors' roar, they slapped each other's backs and carried on like a high school football team that had just won the state championship.

Fred Vance, 22, of Norfolk, Va., had had the narrowest escape and his face was still white. The Germans had hopped the Eagles when they dived on a minesweeper escorted by a destroyer. Vance was accompanied by Bill Daley, 23, of Amarillo, Tex.

Mahon and Bill Kelly of Saratoga, N. Y., a former Syracuse University football player, were flying together, and Gene Fetrow of Los Angeles was in the attack.

"Hell's bells!" Vance said. "I just dived at that minesweeper and looked around and there were five Focke-Wulfs on my tail. You should have seen that Spitfire. I tied it into a knot. Damned if I didn't get on the tail of three of them, and I know I got one and I'm pretty sure I shot up two more."

Kelly confirmed that Vance had got one.

Kelly broke in: "I think I got one, too, but I can't check. A Focke-Wulf was messing around with Vance and I swung into him head on. Pieces were falling off of him when I last saw him, heading toward the sea."

They also sank the minesweeper.

November 22, 2017

1942. American Pilots Look to Berlin After Successful Air Raids in France

Flying Fortresses May Soon Raid Berlin
"U.S. Army Air Force Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress bombers of the 381st Training Group from RAF Ridgewell, en route to a target over Nazi-occupied Europe," 1943-1944 (source)
U. S. Pilots Look to Raid on Berlin
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Mystery of Why British Panned Flying Fortress Cleared Up
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By WILLIAM R. DOWNS
United Press Staff Correspondent

London — (UP) United States Flying Fortresses may soon make a daylight raid on Berlin as the result of their astonishing success in raids this week on enemy occupied territory, it was understood today.

There was every indication that, aside from the likelihood of a Berlin raid, the Fortresses would work increasingly with the Royal Air Force in a program of day and night bombing which would give German cities no rest.

A mystery British criticism of the Fortresses in British newspapers as less suitable than British-made bombers for bombing Germany was cleared up today.

The criticism was based on the first Flying Fortresses sent to Britain a year ago. The British found that for European combat purposes they were lightly protected, slow and carried an inefficiently light bomb load.

The United States Army Air Force Fortresses now in action are new types. They are fast, heavily armored, so heavily gunned that they are already the dread of enemy fighter pilots, so tough that they can come home shot full of holes, and expertly manned.

Further, unlike the first Fortresses which came to Britain, they have the secret bomb sight which has permitted them to bomb targets so accurately that Allied fighter pilots who accompany them are amazed.

In their first raid Monday, on Rouen, the Fortresses dropped their entire bomb load on selected railroad targets in an area of 300 yards from a high altitude. In their next raid, on Abbeville Wednesday, they apparently hit every building in the target area. In their third raid, on Amiens, they scored fifteen direct hits.

And Wednesday over the North Sea, eleven of them downed or damaged six Focke-Wulf-190 fighters, the best Germany has, in a 20-minute battle.

In these four operations not a Fortress was lost.

The intrepidity of the Fortresses against fighter challenge is partly due to new guns of a caliber even larger than those the British use, and the new power-rotated turret.

So far the Fortresses have penetrated only forty to fifty miles inside enemy territory under heavy fighter protection, but as the crews get fighting experience they are expected to range far over Germany itself by daylight.

November 21, 2017

1949. Far-Right Nationalist Movement Emerges in Bavaria

East Germany Changes Leadership, West Deals with Far-Right
Mass rally at Bebelplatz in East Berlin to mark the founding of the German Democratic Republic and the election of Wilhelm Pieck, October 11, 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 18, 1949

American occupation authorities today have launched an investigation into an alleged neo-Nazi movement in Bavaria.

The investigation coincides with the new Allied High Commission law designed to prevent the resurgence of militarism and Nazism in Germany. The law provides punishment up to life imprisonment and a fine of $25,000 "for any activity which leads to militarism or which is contrary to the prohibition of National Socialist organizations or other organizations of a military character."

The leader of the Bavarian movement is a 27-year-old gardener, Karl Feitenhansl. Feitenhansl has been in difficulty ever since he organized his right-wing Patriotic Union. His meetings have been broken up by protests of the Socialists as well as the Bavarian Communists.

At his latest secret meeting, held in a Munich ratskeller, the Bavarian nationalist is alleged to have shouted, "Down with the anti-nationalistic traitors who have sold themselves to the Allies. The behavior of the German soldiers was better than the Allied soldiers now."

The Patriotic Union claims a membership of 25,000, including many former Nazi officials and SS members.

The East German satellite government today reveals a drastic change in its Communist leadership, confirming a long-rumored shakeup in its administrative directorate.

The announcement recognizes the Deputy Minister-President, Walter Ulbricht, as the new strongman of the East German state, pushing old-time Communist leader Wilhelm Pieck into the background and perhaps deposing Otto Grotewohl as prime minister of the German Communist government.

The statement carried in the Communist press this morning announces change in the leadership of the German mission to Moscow to congratulate Stalin on his birthday. The announcement says that "urgent affairs of the state which demand his presence in Berlin are the reasons that State President Wilhelm Pieck cannot join the delegation. Instead of Herr Pieck, Ulbricht will fly to Moscow."

This move is believed to be the direct result of Foreign Minister Vyshinsky's conferences here two days ago. Ulbricht has been a member of the German Communist Party since the First World War. During the last war he lived and worked in the Soviet Union.

Pieck now will probably take the position of elder statesman in Germany unless he is completely purged. He is 73-years-old and approaching senility.

Prime Minister Grotewohl is in a Russian military hospital for what has been variously described as a cold, a nervous breakdown, or attempted suicide. Whether he will return to his position in the Communist government is regarded here as questionable.

November 20, 2017

1929. Leon Trotsky Predicts the United States Will Cause a Second World War

Trotsky in Exile
Leon Trotsky speaks to soldiers in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, with Vladimir Lenin and Lev Kamenev on the left, May 5, 1920 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism and world affairs in the years leading up to and during World War II. Leon Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union in February 1929. One month later he spoke with a New York Times correspondent in Turkey as he sought asylum elsewhere in Europe.

From The New York Times, March 16, 1929:
TROTSKY SEES US CAUSING WORLD WAR
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He Says Power of America Will Bring a Conflict That Will Dwarf the Last Great War
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STILL HOPEFUL OF RUSSIA
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But Admits Counter-Revolution Might Bring Fascism—Germans Agitate for Exile's Entry
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CONSTANTINOPLE, March 15 — "The world contains more explosive material than ever before and the increase in American world power will cause an eruption compared to which the World War was only child's play," Leon Trotsky declared today in an interview with The New York Times correspondent, the second which Russia's exiled strongman has given since he left the Russian consulate for more comfortable quarters in a hotel at Pera.

"Bolshevism was a form of self-protection for the Russian people," said M. Trotsky. "Capitalistic Russia would have been after the last war only a colony of the United States. I have not lost hope for my country simply because it has expelled me. The establishment of the Communist regime is like the ascent of a high peak which, before it can be climbed, must be attempted from all sides.

"The difference between Stalin's policy and mine is simply that Stalin believes Bolshevist Russia can exist in the midst of a capitalist world, while I do not believe it. Neither, however, do I credit predictions by the White Russians of a collapse of the Bolshevist regime.

"If there is a counter-revolution and it succeeds Russia will simply swing from one extreme to the other. It would become Fascist. Land reform, however, will survive, no matter what changes of government may take place."
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For Trotsky's Entry to Reich

BERLIN, March 15 — The Tempe and other Democratic organs have started an agitation for the admission of Leon Trotsky to Germany, not so much for his sake personally as to uphold the principle of sanctuary. Many cases to which that of M. Trotsky is likened are quoted from history, among them that of Carl Schurz, to whom the United States gave shelter when he fled there as a youth of 20 years. Similar cases are quoted from recent English, French and Swiss history.

A pamphlet distributed in the streets of Berlin, which is intended to serve the same purposes, closes with a plea for the Russian exile's admission, contending that the German Republic, in which many thousands of Czarists have found asylum, can hardly deny admission to M. Trotsky, who has no friends among the Bolsheviki, Republicans or Monarchists. A number of German Fascisti also addressed a protest of the government asking that M. Trotsky, who is now at Pera, a suburb of Constantinople, be permitted to seek a cure for his ailment in Germany.

A number of German physicians have addressed another protest to the government, asking that M. Trotsky be permitted to seek a cure for his ailments in Germany.
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Talk of Trotsky Organization

BERLIN, March 15 (AP) — A report from Constantinople tonight says that Leon Trotsky and his followers in various countries plan to discuss organization of a "Trotsky International" with which to combat the Third International and the power of his arch-enemy Stalin. A convention will be held in Czechoslovakia at the end of May. M. Trotsky will not attend, but will be personally represented, according to the report.

M. Trotsky has reiterated that all he seeks in desiring to enter Germany is health and that if permitted to take the cure here he will attempt to settle permanently in Norway or Holland.

November 19, 2017

1945. Rise and Decline of Hitler—A Cartoon History

Hitler's Rise and Fall as Chronicled by David Low
From The New York Times featuring cartoons by David Low, April 29, 1945 (click to enlarge)

November 18, 2017

1949. Yugoslav Diplomats Detained in East Berlin

The Kremlin's War with Tito Hits Berlin
East German People's Police patrolling the Bornholmer Straße border crossing connecting the East and West Berlin, December 4, 1961 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 9, 1949

The Kremlin's war with Marshall Tito came to Berlin this morning with the house arrest of seventeen members of the Yugoslav mission to Germany in their homes in the Soviet sector of the city.

The Yugoslav mission, which maintains its quarters with the Russians but has its offices in the British sector of Berlin, long has been a political orphan here since Tito's break with the Cominform.

The mission was established under agreement of the Big Four powers. However, it was the East German Communist government which unilaterally delivered the order for the Yugoslavs to leave.

The decree was handed to the Tito mission last night. It charged that they were criminally disturbing law and order in the East German state. Sometime during the night, a police guard was put around the group of houses.

When one Yugoslav official tried to move his trunks out of his quarters and drive to West Berlin, both his trunks and his automobile were confiscated. Seventeen persons, including two children and an expectant mother, are now blockaded by People's Police.

Their telephone, however, has not yet been cut off. Colonel Sibinovic, the ranking officer there, said this morning that there is some food in the houses but that there is no milk for the children. Sibinovic said that his house had been searched by the police and his property confiscated.

A mission spokesman said he knew of no reason for the sudden action. The Yugoslavs have been walking a diplomatic chalk-line here. They attend both Eastern and Western social affairs and, since Marshal Tito's defection, have been living in a political vacuum.

This incident has been reported to the Western commandants who are considering a protest.

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

November 17, 2017

1942. American Fighter Squadrons Join the Fight Over Europe

Allied Air Raids Continue in Western Europe
B-17 Flying Fortress with the VIII Fighter Command features a decal of Donald Duck saying "Bottoms Up," 1942 (Photo by Margaret Bourke-White - source)
The Air Over English Channel Is Just Another Main Street to Young American Fliers

By WILLIAM R. DOWNS
United Press Staff Correspondent

At an American Fighter Plane Base, England — (UP) The English Channel is "Main Street" for United States fighter squadrons. Dieppe is the corner drugstore and Calais is the hash-house, where the Germans dish up ack-ack.

After two weeks of action over the continent, these Americans, piloting Britain's best fighters, have become thoroughly familiar with their machines and enemy territory.

"We are making so many trips over the Channel that I am getting to know the place like Times Square, but I'll say the Focke-Wulfs and Messerschmitts are more dangerous than the midtown taxis," said Lt. Robert Lupton, New York.

Like Spitfires

British fliers term the Americans' performance, "top hole."

The Americans are highly pleased with their British Spitfires.

"I wouldn't trade mine for any two planes I know about in the United States to do the job we have been given," commented Lt. Ed Tharpe, Shreveport, La. "The Spitfires have everything and then some. They are a hell of a lot more maneuverable than our planes, and when you press the trigger button you get a kick like one from a Mississippi mule."

Maj. Harrison Thyng, Barnstead, N. H., said it was a good thing the American squadrons had Spitfires over Dieppe last week, because their maneuverability and firing power could not be overcome by the Focke-Wulf fighters.

They're Veterans Now

The Dieppe raid gave the American veterans' status, since it was the first time they were entirely on their own. All of the squadrons have made two operational flights and one made three.

One pilot who has attained local fame by wearing cowboy boots he bought while training at San Antonio, Tex., Lt. Bob Weismuler, Cincinnati, O., has a healthy respect for the Focke-Wulf's high diving speed. But he said the Spitfires "can take care of them."

The pilots have typically American enthusiasm but they have the seriousness and air of mature confidence which characterizes RAF youngsters. They seem considerably older than their average age of 23 years.

Lt. Ivor Williby, Des Moines, Ia., a middle-aged intelligence officer who questions the men after every operation, said they are "a new brand of pilots."

No Place for Sprees

"These boys have their fun, but there is none of this senseless drinking and debauchery," Williby, a World War veteran, said. "The man who goes out the night before he goes across the channel might not go anywhere again."

The Americans first used a fighting cock as their insignia, but Lt. Robert Rahn, Dayton, O., explained they changed over to an irate Donald Duck, brandishing a monkey wrench in one hand, because they could not find anyone who could paint the fancier cock on the planes.

The dispersal hut of the Americans, unlike those of their RAF comrades, so far is not decorated with pictures of slightly clad beauties. The only picture decorating the room is a photograph of Mrs. Jeanne Brown Cyrbowski, 22, Scranton, Pa., wife of Staff Sgt. Edward Cyrbowski.

But the Americans have an Airedale for a mascot, whom they dubbed "Monk Hunter," after Brig. Gen. Frank Hunter, chief of the USAAF Fighter Command.

"But for gosh sakes, don't tell the general," pleaded Capt. Lewis Zimlich of Louisville, Ky., "he might get mad."

November 16, 2017

1935. Fascist Italy Dreams of a New Roman Empire

Fascist Propaganda Stokes Italian Irredentism
Benito Mussolini marching among troops in Rome, 1936 (Getty)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. The New York Times ran two separate articles about Mussolini's imperial ambitions, one by Shepard Stone in 1935 and another by Herbert Matthews in 1940, both entitled "Italy Dreams of Empire."

From The New York Times, October 13, 1935:
ITALY DREAMS OF EMPIRE
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Il Duce's Propaganda Campaign Has Turned All Minds to Visions of Old Greatness
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By SHEPARD STONE
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Stirred by their modern Caesar and his soldiers marching into battle, Italians are once again dreaming of empire. While Italian legions fight their way forward in the attempt to plant their banner over large portions of Ethiopia, visions of the grandeur that was Rome fascinate Italian minds. Never before has the modern Italian turned the pages of ancient history with so much pride as he does today.

To the Italian of 1935 the rise of Rome to dominance in the world of 1,900 years ago is a challenge flung down dramatically by Mussolini. A keen student of the psychology of his people, Il Duce is playing the tune of Roman grandeur with all the instruments at his command. In newspapers, magazines and books, over the radio, in movie houses and at the theatre, Romans are being reminded of their former power. Throughout Italy maps of the Roman Empire have been set up, so that Italians may be inspired by the glory of their heritage.

What was the grandeur of Rome which Mussolini is trying to revive?

At the time of its greatest geographical extent, in the days of the Emperor Trajan (98-117 A. D.), the Roman Empire spread from the hills and moors of Scotland to the mountains of India; from Gibraltar to the Caucasus; from the Rhine and Danube to the Nile and the sands of the Sahara. Rome was more than a great power in the Western world. It was the Western world.

All Bowed to Rome

Nothing like the Roman Empire had ever been seen before its rise; nothing like it has been seen since its decline and fall. Black Sea, Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean and the English Channel were all domestic waters.

The territories which British, French, Spaniards, Belgians, Swiss, Austrians, Hungarians, Yugoslavs, Rumanians, Greeks, Bulgarians and many other peoples now rule were then Roman provinces. From Jerusalem to London and from Paris to Thebes the Western world bowed to Rome. Britons, Gauls, Latins, Libyans, Babylonians, Greeks—they were all proud to call themselves Romans.

It was an empire populated by perhaps 100,000,000 people; rural and urban, warriors, administrators, traders, farmers, workers and scholars. The seas provided a connecting link to the provinces separated from Rome by water. Military roads, built with the genius of the Roman engineers and soldiers, were the arteries of traffic overland. In ancient days these roads were trod by Roman legions, marching to hold together the far-flung territories of the empire; they were also used by traders and administrators who traveled widely in the performance of their duties.

History Repeats

Just as Il Duce is trying to extend his empire today by warfare the Roman Empire was conquered by armies. When Rome had consolidated its position in Italy, about the middle of the third century B. C., it turned its eyes to the Mediterranean.

Here Rome came into conflict with Carthage, the powerful city-state of Northern Africa. The long Punic wars settled the contest. Not even Hannibal, with his cavalry and elephants, who marched through Spain and made his way across the Alps, could overthrow Rome. "Carthago delenda est!" cried Cato in the Senate. Carthage was destroyed and the ground on which it had stood was turned by the plow. Henceforth Rome ruled the Mediterranean world, with its islands and the territories along the North African coast.

Macedonia and Syria also felt the power of Roman arms and were conquered. Julius Caesar carried the Roman banner to Gaul and Briton. When the conspirators plunged their daggers into Caesar, Rome was already a world empire.

Roman law and customs became the standard of the ancient world. The seeds of Roman culture were planted hundreds of miles from the Forum. They grew and even today there are many striking differences between the lands where Rome once ruled and those which never came under its influence.

Of this empire in the days of its glory Mommsen, the great historian, wrote: "If an angel of the Lord were to strike the balance whether the domain ruled by Antonius were governed with greater intelligence and greater humanity at that time or in the present day, whether civilization and national prosperity generally had since that time advanced or retrograded, it is very doubtful whether the decision would prove in favor of the present."

The Dark Side

But there was another side to the picture. While the free population of Rome was wasted in wars, slavery crept in and weakened the fabric of the population. Conquest and corruption played their part; military and financial power finally crumbled; degeneracy weakened cultural and social life; the extent of the empire made it difficult to control from a central point; agriculture declined. Under repeated blows of the "barbarians" the empire fell apart. Many of the nations which last week at Geneva cast their vote against Italy's modern dictator were united under his predecessor, who ruled 1,900 years ago.

The empire of Benito Mussolini today is not the Roman world of Julius Caesar or of Trajan. Great Britain and France, not Italy, are the leading colonial powers. Italy possesses only Libya, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, exclusive of what she may conquer in her present adventure.

Italy herself is poor in natural resources. Her colonies, which have failed to attract large numbers of Italians, are also mediocre. They cover, in area, approximately 946,734 square miles. They are inhabited by 2,200,000 people, mainly natives. In economic value they suffer by comparison with the other great colonial empires.

Libya, on the northern fringe of Africa, produces tropical fruits, lemons, almonds and figs. Eritrea, on the east, is unimportant economically, though it has strategic value, as Il Duce has demonstrated during the past two weeks. Italian Somaliland is somewhat more fertile. Here cattle and camel raising are the chief industries. Half of the world's consumption of incense comes from this region.

The Riches of Ethiopia

But of gold, rubber, cotton, diamonds and other less precious minerals or raw materials Italy's colonies are relatively bare. That is one reason why Il Duce is stretching out for Ethiopia. The Italians say that Haile Selassie's kingdom is rich in natural resources and economic possibilities.

Should the Italian dictator, despite the efforts of Ethiopia and of the League powers to stop him, conquer Haile Selassie's domain, he will have added to his colonial empire a region approximately 350,000 square miles in area, or more than one-third of his present possessions. In addition, 10,000,000 Ethiopians would come under his rule.

Whether Il Duce will be as successful as the Caesars of ancient Rome only the future will disclose. But, as the maps reveal, he still has a long way to go.
From The New York Times, October 13, 1935 (click to enlarge)
From The New York Times, May 19, 1940:
ITALY DREAMS OF EMPIRE
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Street Demonstrators Hope for Colonies as Rome's Reward for Helping Germany
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By HERBERT L. MATTHEWS
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ROME, May 18 — Dazzling visions are being seen by Italian Fascists these days. All the riches of the Mediterranean and Africa seem to be stretching out before them as they see the glories of the Roman Empire revived. All they need do is help Germany defeat the Allies.

It is only in such terms that one can explain what Italy wants. She has no Alsace-Lorraine to conquer. She herself is not going to be attacked by anybody. She cannot even claim a great Italian Empire like the German one because, except for Malta and to a much lesser extent Corsica and Tunis, there are no territories with Italians to be "freed from foreign domination." The French have just as strong claims from the racial point of view to Tunis and Corsica as the Italians have.

Yet there are things that Italy wants and above all is domination of the Mediterranean. Premier Mussolini has repeatedly stated that Italy is a "prisoner" in the Mediterranean and so long as that status lasts he is going to struggle to free her. As the Italians keep saying "the Mediterranean is a route (via) to Britain but is life (vita) to us." The objections are that Gibraltar and Suez are in the hands of the British and French and the Dardanelles indirectly is controlled by them through Turkey.

Allies and the Canal

So far as the Suez Canal is concerned the Allies assert that the question is fictitious because the canal has always been internationalized and, when it comes to high tolls, British shippers and exporters have worked just as hard as Italians to get them lowered.

Gibraltar is another matter and if the Allies are defeated or being defeated the Italians expect Generalissimo Franco of Spain to take the Rock back, in which case it will be in friendly hands.

But the gateways to the Mediterranean are only one part of the Italian aspirations. Whenever there are demonstrations, as there were this week, some of the demonstrators dutifully take up the cry "Tunis, Jibuti, Corsica, Nice and Savoy." This is a large order to be sure, and one may doubt whether even the most sanguine fascist hopes to see them all in Italian hands at the end of the war. But if the Allies suffered a complete defeat and Italy could get what she wanted at least some of these places would change hands.

Italy lost Tunis to France because the French grabbed it first and were strong enough to hold it. The Italians would certainly like to have it but thus far the only demands made seem to have been to improve the status of Italians there. Jibuti would have great value to Italians since it is the port and terminus of the railway from Addis Abada. Corsica is one of those historic problems which can always be brought up when convenient. Geographically speaking, it should belong to Italy and its people were once more Italian than anything else although now they are Gallicized. An Italian victory over France might well result in Corsica's becoming Italian. What is true of Corsica is even more true of British-owned Malta, just south of Sicily, because the people still are predominantly Italianized.

Nice and Savoy would be another matter since in the reigning house of Savoy there are sentimental reasons, as well as the fact that ethnically the people, like the Piedmontese, are part French, part Italian, to make annexation desirable, One even hears the Italians say that since one of King Victor Emmanuel's titles is "King of Jerusalem," Palestine also should be absorbed by the new empire. However, neither of these demands is likely to be pushed far.

Dalmatia Demanded

Another of the "street cries" heard in Italian cities this week is "Dalmatia." The possession of the Dalmatian coast would be of enormous strategic value to Italy quite aside from its commercial importance and the fact that it would link Albania to Italy by land.

The Italian Navy might well have its say about the Mediterranean, for it does not like the threat of French and British naval bases in ports like Algiers, Bizerta and Alexandria. Then there is the colonial-minded Fascist who dreams of connecting Libya to Abyssinia across the Sudan and even Egypt.

In short, there is almost no end to what the Italians could hope for in a successful war. Meanwhile they are not specifying anything.

November 15, 2017

1970. President Nixon on the State of the Environment

Nixon's Special Message to Congress
"President Richard Nixon displays his trademark victory wave to a crowd during his 1970 campaign on behalf of Republican congressional candidates" (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

August 11, 1970

For a while there last spring—during April's "Earth Day" and the nationwide Environmental Teach-ins by the flower children and the so-called New Left, and with Democratic senators making most of the noises about our biosphere—it looked like the liberal Democrats and their left-leaning friends might be able to put a headlock on the antipollution issue which the Republicans might be unable to break, come election time.

Such GOP fears were groundless, however, because the environmental crisis has no one head that is lockable. It has a million heads that are as difficult to hold on to as a handful of liquid mercury, if you'll pardon the expression, since mercury has become the latest villain threatening wholesale poisoning of the environment.

President Nixon in his election campaign gave warning he knew the political potency of the environmental crisis. In January, he established the three-man Environmental Quality Council, which will serve as a kind of overseer of the national ecological struggle. Then in July the White House announced the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, which will be a kind of Pentagon directing the war against pollution.

Yesterday the president released the first of what is to be an annual report on the state of the US environment. A historic document, as Mr. Nixon noted, because it is "the first time in the history of nations that a people has paused, consciously and systematically, to take comprehensive stock of the quality of its surroundings..."

As we all know by now, the record of man's ecological sins is pretty frightening.

The interesting thing about the environmental council's report to Congress and President Nixon's special message that accompanies it is the Republican administration's approach to ecological salvation.

"Unless we arrest the depredations that have been inflicted so carelessly on our natural systems," says the president, "We face the prospect of ecological disaster."

Anyone who reads the council report, he goes on to say, cannot "remain complacent;" that we must concentrate on qualitative growth, not just quantitative; we must consider the social costs of pollution.

I've been hearing the same things at hippie rallies for over a year, and could imagine phantom cries of "Right on, Dick Nixon, right on!"

But just three paragraphs from the end of the president's special message to Congress, as the flower children say, he blew the whole bit.

After alluding to the possibility of ecological disaster, President Nixon ended his message saying that although our environmental problems are urgent, "they do not justify either panic or hysteria." That's correct. But then he added: "There must be a national commitment and a rational commitment." There's the loophole.

The Democrats and other critics of the Nixon administration most certainly will try to slap down the first official report of the president's Environmental Quality Council as proposing too little, too late to correct—or even save—our polluted environment.

Already the opposition Congressional leaders have attacked the White House approach for talking in tens of billions of dollars instead of the hundreds of billions that the environmental crisis requires.

The increasingly vocal ecological and Environmental Action groups around the country are demanding the federal government move now to cut back the number of automobiles on the streets and highways. They are demanding that major polluters be fined or shut down, and responsible company and corporation officials jailed if the offenders do not stop poisoning the air, land, and water.

President Nixon and his environmental council have not ruled out industrial fines or even jail sentences in the future. But Mr. Nixon correctly asserts that decades of depredation by the Industrial Revolution cannot be put right overnight.

The administration report proposes "incentives" to industry to stop their harmful emissions, or perhaps a "pollution tax" which, naturally, would be passed along to the consumer.

The eco-action groups say this would be like paying an arsonist for not striking matches, or rewarding Lucrezia Borgia for not dropping her poison in the table wine.

However, the environmental council's report does seem to contradict some of the administration's favorite projects. It raises the possibility that the proposed hot oil pipeline across Alaska may do more ecological damage than it's worth. It seems to come down on the side of the alligators of the Everglades rather than backing the wealthy land developers in Florida. It openly urges a go-slow policy on supersonic transport at a time when the Nixon administration has given the green light.

Hailing 1970 as the "Year of the Environment," the report credits a number of conservation pioneers for making the nation aware of the ecology problem, including John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau is probably America's most abiding, long-haired, anti-establishment symbolic hippie.

In his environment message to the Congress, President Nixon recognized the newly aroused concern for the ecology cuts across all walks of life, embracing the young and the old.

Both Republicans and Democrats are particularly interested in the young and the 1972 elections. 18-year-olds will have the vote for the first time, and the environment is and probably will continue to be their bag.

This is Bill Downs in Washington.

November 14, 2017

1949. Occupation Powers Back German Youth Movements

Drumbeats Echo in Germany
The Freie Deutsche Jugend "House of Youth," located along Unter den Linden in Berlin, with a sign reading: "Erhöhte Kampfbereitschaft der Jugend zur Verteidigung des Friedens," December 13, 1951 (Photo by Martin Schmidt - source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

December 15, 1949

The disputed pattern of the future is shaping itself in Germany along two lines, two philosophies which now are struggling for the key to that future in this country—German youth.

You remember about ten years ago we watched the newsreels from the land of the Nazi; magnificent and frightening scenes of Hitlerjugend, the erect, handsome, blond kids—boys and girls—with their mystical torchlight parades, the drums, the bugles, and the banners.

A few months ago I saw a similar procession a quarter-million strong, marching down Unter den Linden complete with torches, drums, and banners.

It was East Berlin, and the kids were from East Germany. Freie Deutsche Jugend—Free German Youth—they are called. The management is different, but the symbols and the meaning are the same as in Hitler's day—and just as frightening.

In the year and a half I have been covering Western Germany, the closest thing to a youth procession I've seen was a line-up to get into a GYA Christmas party. And there will be plenty of that this week as the GYA clubs spread themselves throughout the American zone of Germany.

GYA, German Youth Assistance, is our answer to pipes and drums and banners and torches. Basically it is a series of young people's clubs sponsored by individual units in the various towns and cities where American troops live.

There is more emphasis on baseball than drum beating; more emphasis on comradeship than torch-bearing.

There are more than two million kids under the age of sixteen in American-occupied Germany. This year they will eat better, have better clothing, and be warmer than any time since the war. There still are 186,000 of them who are homeless.

But GYA is more than food, clothing, and shelter now. It probably represents the first attempt by a victorious army to achieve peace by persuasion. And the young citizens of Germany will have much to say about peace when they reach maturity. It may depend upon them.

GYA is a big job that must be done in a complex world. It's bigger than the army; as big as the United States itself.

If GYA is truly to provide the answer to the drumbeat that is beginning again to echo in Germany, then it needs and deserves all the help it can get.

The man responsible for the creation of GYA can affirm this—former American military governor of Germany, General Lucius D. Clay.

November 13, 2017

1950. East Germany Threatens to Impose New Traffic Blockade on Berlin

Crisis Season Arrives Early in Berlin
A float protesting the Atlantic Pact drives through Leipzig in East Germany, 1950. The sign on the side reads: "Der Kampf um den Frieden ist der Lebenskampf unseres gesamten deutschen Volkes" ("The struggle for peace is the struggle for survival of our whole German people") (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

January 18, 1950

A new Berlin crisis appears to be in the making today. West Berlin police, acting under American orders, seized a building in the American sector occupied by the Soviet-directed Berlin rail management.

A dozen Communist police guarding the building were disarmed without incident and escorted to the Russian sector border where their arms were returned and they were released.

The building was seized under orders of the American High Commission property control division. Technically the building is under Russian supervision, since the four-power agreement gives the Soviets control of all rail property in the city. But nine months ago during the Berlin rail strike, the Russians moved the rail offices to their sector. Only a switchboard remains in operation in the disputed office, and it was manned this morning.

The West Berlin police seized the building in order to utilize some six hundred badly needed offices for their own city government.

This morning some of Berlin's elevated trains were running only at forty-minute intervals. Many workers were late. The rail management said the holdup was due to curtailment of service at the switchboard in the routing of trains.

A few hours ago General Chuikov, Russian commandant for Berlin, phoned a protest to American headquarters. Deputy commander William Babcock promised to investigate and reply to Chuikov.

High Commissioner John McCloy arrived in Berlin this morning to attend a three-power meeting of all Western high commissioners which began a few minutes ago.

Although it's freezing weather outside, the various charges and counter-charges and other moves by East and West would indicate that the political Spring crisis season is arriving very early. Such maneuverings in the Cold War usually don't come until there is a prospect of warm weather.

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

CBS Berlin

January 19, 1950

The cold winds of crisis again are blowing in Berlin today. And again the crisis point is the Russian-controlled elevated rail system.

The Soviet-directed rail authority today has cut down elevated traffic fifty percent in retaliation to the seizure of a building in the American sector that formerly contained the offices of the system. The administration of the railway was moved to the Soviet sector during last year's rail strike. A Russian-operated switchboard is all that remains in the building.

Night before last, West Berlin police moved in on the building under American orders. They were told to occupy some 550 badly needed unused offices in the building, but not to interfere with the space or personnel operating under Russian direction.

The Western police, however, disarmed a dozen East Berlin police, took them to the Russian sector border, gave them back their guns, and released them.

Russia's General Kotikov immediately protested vigorously. American authorities replied that they did not intend to interfere with the operation of the railway—only to take up the office space.

The situation is being regarded seriously by both the East and the West. The American action was unilateral—the British were not informed.

Last night General Kotikov and his deputies made a last-minute rejection to attend a four-power party of the High Commission. The reason: they were too busy dealing with railroad matters. And today we are being called provocateurs and instigators of a new Berlin crisis. It may be that the Russians will seize this opportunity to mark a new test of strength of the people of West Berlin.

High Commissioner John McCloy and General Maxwell Taylor, Berlin commandant, will leave tomorrow for a week of consultations with government authorities in Washington. McCloy will report to President Truman and check in at the State Department for consultations on German policy.

Today he is seeing Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to get the West German government's views on the Saar problem. Adenauer is seeking support to retain the Saar economy and political integration into Germany. Secretary of State Acheson's statement yesterday backing the French policy on the Saar came as a surprise in Bonn. Adenauer is now looking for a friend.

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

CBS Berlin

January 20, 1950

East German Communist authorities are threatening partial blockade of rail traffic into Berlin today in the dispute centering around the American-directed seizure of the former headquarters building of Berlin's elevated rail system.

Although Maxwell D. Taylor, American commandant, has informed Russian transportation officials that there is no intent of interfering with operation of the elevated, the rail directorate today continues to allow only fifty percent capacity to run.

At a news conference in the office of Gerhart Eisler yesterday, East Berlin officials said that the situation growing out of the seizure of the building might seriously affect rail traffic into Berlin from the West.

The elevated system handles all railroad trains coming into the city. In other words, the East Berlin government implied that it might slap on a partial blockade of the city. However, this morning all inter-zonal schedules are running normally.

The Communist excuse for this current hullabaloo is that a switchboard in the former headquarters building in the American sector controls all trains running on the elevated system.

I talked with General Taylor yesterday about this potentially dangerous situation. He said that if the German Communists attempted to impose a blockade on Berlin—which they could do without a Russian being in sight—he would recommend to the United States government that force be used to break any such blockade. Taylor today canceled a trip to the US to deal with the situation.

While we have our troubles with the East German government, we also are facing difficulties with our own West German republic.

The growing problem concerns the Saar, that industrially rich valley in the French sector which has become a point of dispute in our relationships with the Bonn administration.

Secretary of State Acheson's statement backing French claims on the Saar caused a sensation in the Bonn government. The French want a fifty-year lease on Saar coal mines. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer says the mines are German property and cannot be leased.

Now Adenauer is hinting that if any action is taken on the Saar without the consent of his government, West Germany may refuse to join the Council of Europe and other Western Union organizations.

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

CBS Berlin

January 22, 1950

The United States has lost a skirmish to the Russians in Berlin's Cold War this morning, but the threat of another crisis here is abated and the tenseness that has marked the East-West atmosphere in the city the past week is disappearing.

General Maxwell Taylor, American commandant of Berlin, yesterday evening ordered that West Berlin police withdraw from the headquarters building of the Russian-controlled rail system. He suspended the American notice of custody and turned some six hundred badly needed empty offices back to Soviet transportation authorities.

The offices were ordered seized by American officials last Tuesday as part of a program to utilize all empty living space in the city. But technically under the four-power agreement, the building is under jurisdiction of the Russians, although it is in the American sector of town.

Taylor's explanation says that it was the American intention to put this space to use for the benefit of Berlin. "Unfortunately, the unreasonable and provocative attitude of the Soviets makes it appear probable that the hardships which they intend to impose outweigh the benefits arising from the American plan."

The rail management recently cut elevated service fifty percent in reprisal for the seizure, and a Russian slowdown of truck shipping at the zonal border created fears that a new blockade was in the making.

As is to be expected, the Communists hail the American decision as a great Soviet victory. According to one newspaper, "the main enemy of the German people—the American imperialists—has suffered a sensitive defeat at the heart of his West Berlin bridgehead."

West Berliners with whom I have talked today seem to show an understanding for General Taylor's action. "It is a wise move," they explain, "because Nie wieder Blockade—never again a blockade."

However, our transportation troubles continue. The three Western Berlin commandants have just revealed they have dispatched another protest to the Russian commandant, this time over the confiscation of eleven trucks loaded with non-ferrous metal scrap traveling from Berlin to the West.

Soviet border guards have never allowed this type of metal through their zone, presumably because it is needed in East Germany.

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