Advances not without high tolls.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Blue Network News Of The World – October 8, 1941 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
News for this October 8th in 1941 had much to do with events taking place in Eastern Europe. The German push into Russia and the fierce fighting taking place all up and down the Eastern Front. Both sides were claiming gains, while claiming the other sustained heavy losses. The big worry for Germany was the Russian Winter, as the first snow was observed just outside Moscow.
Meanwhile, German raids over England the night before were considered “light” with “little damage” reported. Concerns were being mounted over Turkey’s trade agreement with Germany, even though Turkey had a trade agreement going with England in effect until January 1943. Turkey claimed the German agreement was “for the future”.
Talk in the House of Commons in Britain over an “all planes for Russia” week, where all aircraft manufactured would be sent to the Eastern front to aid the Russian effort. The talk was criticized, as it seemed impractical to earmark all manufactured planes, since so many were needed for the war effort in Britain. There was also talk of The House of Commons wasting precious time taking up the subject of exempting members of The Oxford Group from military service. The matter in question had to do with 11 members of the group who wanted military exemptions on religious grounds. The controversy spilled over to the U.S., where the group had a number of members also concerned of future call-ups for the Draft into Military Service. The outcome in London was eagerly anticipated.
The subject of huge profits reaped by War contractors was the subject of debate on Capitol Hill. It prompted at least one Senator to call for a flat 7% profit to be gained by any company doing war-work for the government. At the time, companies were reporting profit margins of up to 240%. Who says war isn’t good for business?
All that, on a very busy news day for October 8, 1941, as reported by the NBC Blue Network.
All that, and Star Wars too.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio – The World Tonight – October 2, 1985 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Busy day in the world, this 2nd of October in 1985. The Middle East factored in, with reports that the body of a missing Soviet diplomat was discovered in Beirut, and additional reports disclosed the discovery of a second missing diplomat was found behind the Soviet Embassy. And if that weren’t enough, warnings were issued by the fundamentalist Muslim (The Islamic Liberation Organization) group responsible for the kidnapping/executions, that the Soviet Embassy would be attacked next. All this as retaliation for Soviet-backed Syrian assaults on the PLO and Sunni Fundamentalists in Tripoli.
Meanwhile, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Paris in what was called “French seduction”, en route to Gorbachev’s meeting with President Reagan. The Soviet leader tried to not let the Middle East drama get to him, but it was apparent it was on his mind. Gorbachev had a lot on his plate during this first series of visits since assuming power.
There was also the sad news that film icon Rock Hudson died of AIDS earlier in the day, a little over a year after his disclosure of contracting the disease.
If anything, brought the subject of AIDS home to just about everyone.
Click on the link here for Audio Player: CBS News Special Report – The Death Of Rock Hudson – October 2, 1985 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
And L.A. had another earthquake . . .
What a day – October 2, 1985, as reported on the CBS Radio program The World Tonight.
If it was getting any darker than this . . . .
Click on the link here for Audio Player – News for September 18, 1939 – NBC Blue Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Today was not a good day to be in Poland, or Europe for that matter. September 18, 1939 was about the swift demise of Poland and the abrupt and baffling partnership struck between Russia and Nazi Germany.
This turn of events posed a major problem for France and Britain, as it signified a potentially disastrous outcome for the allies who now had to deal with Russia added to the mix of aggressor nations, along with Italy and Japan in the Axis sphere.
Just how Joseph Stalin could forge such an unholy alliance caught many off-guard. And repercussions of such a move were felt everywhere including the U.S. where, at the very least, sympathizers and members of the U.S. Communist Party promptly resigned their membership and left in disgust. The Utopian promises under Communist leadership seemed more than just a little hypocritical on this day.
So, much of the news for this day was concerning speculation over the turn of events, the dissolving of Poland and what lay ahead for the future.
Gloomy – to be sure.
As presented by the NBC Blue Network for September 18, 1939.
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain – trying out that new thing called Shuttle Diplomacy.
Click on the link here for Audio Player: News of the Crisis in Czechoslovakia NBC Blue Network – September 13, 1938
September it seems, is a crisis month in history. On this September 13th in 1938, crisis was looming in Europe over a piece of disputed land belonging to Czechoslovakia, yet claiming to be part of Nazi Germany.
With a tenuous peace in Europe for a little under 20 years, this new flareup brought memories of 1914 to many. Disputes, squabbles and demands – and the end result being war.
And so this day in September of 1938 was about saber-rattling and the fears of a war looming, and the scramble to negotiate a peaceful settlement in the brewing conflict.
An interesting point in history. First – the new use of the airplane as a means of bringing about Shuttle Diplomacy; something that was not around in 1914 (other than small bi-planes). And second – the first real use of radio as a means of transmitting information. It was The Munich Crisis (as this was to be called) that really brought about the birth of Radio News on a grand scale. The idea that a person in Los Angeles could be as informed as the person in Belgrade, at roughly the same time, was a fascinating technological leap. And it signaled a whole new way of communicating and, most likely, probably aided in ending the conflict quicker than it would have in 1914.
But on this day in 1938 the crisis was new and the crisis was deadly and there was no clear end in sight.
History unfolding, as it was presented by the Blue Network of NBC and by shortwave relays by the BBC on September 13, 1938. Starting off with a program at the time, a bulletin breaking into the program and the rest is history.
At first, no one wanted to believe something so horrible could be intentional.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – NPR: Morning Edition – Bob Edwards – September 11, 2001
At the time, people were hard-pressed to call it a terrorist act. It seemed unconscionable that anyone would intentionally fly a plane directly into the World Trade Center. But when a second plane hit, the horror began to set in, even though some still clung to the notion it may possible have been a coincidence. But after further reports of another plane crashing into the Pentagon, and another crashing into a field surfaced, all anyone could do was watch, dumbfounded and become enveloped with a feeling of total helplessness as the story unfolded.
And twelve years later it still seems strange. Strange that it happened and strange that so much time has passed.
And so this day serves as a reminder of how fragile this whole thing of life is – how the intentional killing of innocent people seems hard to imagine and how strange that our world has become a different and suspicious place.
Doubtless, this has become a day in history, like other pivotal days in history where people pause to recall where they were and what they were thinking at the time. And even twelve years on, it doesn’t seem very long ago.
And as the airwaves filled that day with little else aside from reports, alerts, reactions and precautions, here is a 70 minute extract from that morning – shortly after the second plane hit and the World Trade Center Towers began to collapse, via NPR’s Morning Edition for September 11, 2001 and relayed to KPCC in Pasadena.
Survivors from SS Athenia – wrong place – wrong time.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – News from BBC World Service – Paris Radio English service – September 4, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
With War in Europe officially declared, this day in September 1939, the first official casualties reported wound up being civilians, innocent bystanders, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The SS Athenia had been sunk, killing 117. And the news via shortwave listening posts, was all about that.
Amid conflicting reports (and there were a lot of them), the Passenger ship was bound for Montreal from Glasgow when it was torpedoed 200 miles off the Canadian coast. With some 1400 passengers on board, including 300 Americans, the ship was struck by one torpedo.
The Germans denied firing on the ship, even though the German submarine U-30 was seen following the Athenia. And the German passenger ship SS Bremen, en route from New York to Murmansk refused to pick up survivors, despite receiving distress signals.
All told, some 981 passengers and crew were eventually rescued.
But any indication this was going to be a civilized war was quickly abandoned as preparations continued for what was going to be a long and costly conflct.
And that’s what was going on this September 4th in 1939 as reported by The BBC World Service and the English service of Paris Radio.
An eerie echo of 1914.
Click on the link here for Audio Player: News from Berlin Radio, EIAR, Rome – Paris Radio -Commentary from Radio Berlin – August 30, 1939
As all hopes were pinned on a response to an eleventh hour appeal from Prime Minister Chamberlain to Adolf Hitler, no one was taking any chances. And news for this day was about preparations for what was sure to become another war.
News for this August 30th in 1939 comes from Radio Berlin, EIAR in Rome, Paris Radio and a commentary by Berlin Radio on the latest set of attempted negotiations in order to avert war. Meanwhile, cranking up the propaganda machine was Radio Berlin, with reports of “atrocities” committed by Polish troops near the border and acts of provocation on German civilians living in Eastern Poland.
All of these newscasts are in English and picked up via Shortwave at several listening posts in the U.S. The situation seemed dire in Europe, and was cause for concern in the U.S. But it also seemed like a distant crisis, and one that wouldn’t involve America. Having been only a little over 20 years since World War 1, it was remembered the U.S. didn’t become involved until 1916, when the war was already two years old. Perhaps this time it would be different.
But still, the ominous reports and news of the evacuation of Paris and how all public transportation was used to bring troops to the front seemed strangely familiar. As if nothing was learned from the last time. And on this August 30th in 1939 it was just a matter of waiting for shoes to drop.
History is just like that, it seems.