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.
Digging trenches and trying on gas masks.
Click on the link here for Audio Player – Prime Minister Chamberlain Address on Munich Crisis – September 27, 1938 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
News for this September 27th in 1938 was grim. The crisis in Munich was rapidly coming to a boil and it seemed at the time inevitable that war would break out.
British Prime Minister Chamberlain, exhausted from the rigors of Shuttle Diplomacy, was about to present his case to Parliament, but decided to address the nation (and the world via shortwave) on the situation as it stood before Parliament convened.
Prime Minister Chamberlain: “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.
I can well understand the reasons why the Czech Government have felt unable to accept the terms which have been put before them in the German memorandum. Yet I believe after my talks with Herr Hitler that, if only time were allowed, it ought to be possible for the arrangements for transferring the territory that the Czech Government has agreed to give to Germany to be settled by agreement under conditions which would assure fair treatment to the population concerned.
You know already that I have done all that one man can do to compose this quarrel. After my visits to Germany I have realised vividly how Herr Hitler feels that he must champion other Germans, and his indignation that grievances have not been met before this. He told me privately, and last night he repeated publicly, that after this Sudeten German question is settled, that is the end of Germany’s territorial claims in Europe.”
Eventually an agreement would be reached, and the Czech people were, to put it mildly, thrown under the bus as a provision to prevent war. But on this day in 1938 there was no such outcome, and only speculation that war was going to happen. And the process of calling up reserves, trying on gasmasks and stocking up supplies for yet another war was well underway.
And that’s what this day looked and sounded like in 1938 as relayed to the U.S. by the BBC – and the tension dragged on.
. . .and with a few deft strokes of the pen . . . .
Click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio News reports on Munich Crisis – September 24, 1938 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
News for this day in 1938 was about the crisis over German demands for land belonging to Czechoslovakia. The Munich crisis over the Sudetenland, as it was known, was slowly turning into a flash-point for all-out war and last ditch attempts to prevent it were going on feverishly.
In a series of historic firsts – the first being Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain‘s shuttle diplomacy of flying back and forth between London and Berlin for talks with Hitler, which had never happened before, and signaled the first time Chamberlain had actually flown in an airplane. The other being the first time such a crisis was covered by Radio worldwide and was a form of instantly carrying news of the crisis. Both of these probably helped ease the crisis to a degree.
But the bottom line was, for all the proclamations and pledges of support for the Czech people, the end-result negotiations were far from satisfactory for Czechoslovakia.
On September 24th in 1938 the world was still hanging in the balance and details of negotiations were not yet revealed. Prime Minister Chamberlain was heading off to Munich again for what would be the last round of talks before “Peace In Our Time” was declared (which he actually never said, but those clever headline writers . . . . .)
Here is the latest news on the crisis, as reported by CBS Radio and its around-the-clock coverage, including talks by H.V. Kaltenborn and an interview in London between Edward R. Murrow and Czech diplomat Jan Masaryk.
And that’s what September 24th sounded like in 1938.
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.
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.