Biden versus Trump- their first 15 months! April 1, 2022- Richard J. Garfunkel

At the end of March, 2018, 15 months into the Trump administration, the amount of jobs created were 2,931,000 or 188,700 per month. That was lower than the last year of the Obama Administration and lower than any of the last three years of that same administration. By the end of February of 2018, the unemployment rate 4.4% or approximately .3% lower than in 2016. That is also with the $2 trillion tax signed into law. In fact, In fact in the first three years of the Trump Administration the unemployment rate dropped from 4.7% to 3.5%, a 1.2% decline.  When Trump left office the unemployment rate was 6.9%, it is now 3.6%. In June of 2009, the unemployment rate from the Bush-Derivative Great recession had ballooned to 10%. When Obama left office it was 4.7%, a decline of 5.3% or cut by more than 50%.

The growth of the GDP in 2017 was 2.33%, way below the projected 4-5% that was predicted by the Trump economic team.  Wages grew at 2.5% in 2017. Also, the price of a gallon of gasoline, before the Trump Pandemic, topped out at an average of $2.90 in May of 2019.That was the highest price in five years. That was before the surge in demand and the war in the Ukraine.

As of April 1st of 2022, in the last 15 months of the Biden Administration there were 7,976,000 jobs created or a monthly average of 531,700. The unemployment rate was 3.6% or 18% lower than the Trump Miracle first 15 months.

Wages grew at 4.4%, the fast growth since 1983, and the GDP for all of 2021 grew at 5.7% or almost 2.5 times the Trump growth rate of 2.33%. The last quarter of 2021 grew at 6.9%. Both annually and in the last quarter, this was the greatest increase in the GDP in over 30 years.

According to a 2017 survey, many large corporations said that they didn’t need the money from the Trump administration’s tax cuts. They were sitting on a record $2.3 trillion in cash reserves, double the level in 2001

.Instead of using the money from tax cuts to increase production, create more jobs, or raise wages, the CEOs of Cisco, Pfizer, and Coca-Cola instead planned to use the additional cash to pay dividends to shareholders. The CEO of Amgen would use the proceeds to buy back shares of stock. As for the tax cut and jobs act of 2017, according to a study by the Booking’s Institute, May, 2020- the Trump Tax Cut did not pay for itself, nor is it likely to do so in the future.

Accordingly in January of 2021, the real unemployment was 25.5% or 15%.

Eddy Rickenbacker, America’s WW I, “Ace of Aces!” by Richard J. Garfunkel April 12, 2022

My grandfather, John Kivo, who was a pioneer regarding commercial flight was a great admirer of Eddie Rickenbacker, who made his name in racing, was the most famous American flier from WWI, who eventually ran and owned the Indianapolis Speedway, along with founding Eastern Airlines.

John Kivo was born in Yasi, Romania in the early 1884 and immigrated to the United States two years later with his family. His older brother had escaped the draft into the Russian Army during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, when many Jews left Romania and headed to other parts of Europe and eventually America. He was young, there was a price on his head, and getting out of the country was critical.

As my grandfather prospered, he started to fly commercially and was a very early investor in Pan American Airways. Since like all Americans of that era, he admired speed and racing heroes like Barney Oldfield, who was a pioneer in the field of auto racing and exhibitions of speed racing. Because my grandfather had met Eddy Rickenbacker a number of times, I was always interested in his career.  

Edward Rickenbacker, who was born in 1890, was from Ohio, like Oldfield and was the third child to Swiss German-speaking immigrants. Growing up in the little house, Eddy had the “privilege” of “working long hours before and after school. His life-long love affair with speed and machines also began in his early years. He and his Horsehead Gang buddies constructed “pushcarts” in a kind of precursor to the Soapbox Derby. About the time of the Wright Brothers first heavier-than-air flight, Eddie famously tried to “fly” a bicycle outfitted with an umbrella off his friend’s barn roof. Another time, he tried to design a perpetual motion machine. His father berated him for wasting his time on an invention that had no purpose. One today would call Rickenbacker a “dare devil” who seemed to do all sorts of things and adventures that put his life and limb at risk!

In his first automobile race Rickenbacker failed to finish after crashing through an outer fence. Nevertheless, his passion for speed was confirmed. That summer he went on to win most of the dirt track races he entered, including five of six at Omaha’s Aksarben Festival in October. When he burst onto the scene newspapers misspelled his name as “Reichenbaugh,” “Reichenbacher,” or “Reichenberger,” before settling on “Rickenbacher,” and sometimes “Richenbacher” or “Rickenbacker.

The month before, while he had been in Los Angeles, Rickenbacker had had two chance encounters with aviators. Glenn Martin, founder of Glenn L. Martin Company and more recently with Wright-Martin Aircraft, gave Rickenbacker his first ride aloft. Major Townsend F. Dodd was stranded with his plane in a field and Eddie diagnosed a magneto problem. Dodd later became General John J. Pershing‘s aviation officer and an important contact in Rickenbacker’s attempt to join air combat.

In late May, 1917, a week before he was to race in Cincinnati, Rickenbacker was invited to be chauffeur for General John J. Pershing. By mid-June, he was “somewhere in France,” driving Army officials between Paris and A.E.F. headquarters in Chaumont, between headquarters and various points on the Western Front.

Rickenbacker was given a rank of Sergeant First Class but did not drive for General Pershing. He mostly drove for Major Dodd, whom they had met in late 1916. Once again, Rickenbacker made an important connection by repairing a superior’s broken-down car, famously by fashioning a bearing of babbitt metal in a sand mold at a country mechanic’s shop for Lieutenant Colonel Billy Mitchell. Mitchell, a rising officer in the aviation section of the Army’s Signal Corps, was impressed. He was just the man Rickenbacker needed to ingratiate in order to get flight training, still his main goal. Mitchell would become famous for demonstrating the importance of air power. He created a sensation when he used “banned” tactics in a bombing exercise regarding captured German warships and obsolete American naval ships in the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia and eventually Cape Hatteras. Eventually he was the subject of a famous court-martial case held in 1925.  This case was made into a movie, starring Gary Cooper as Mitchell. On the Board of Inquiry, regarding the court-martial, amongst the “jurors” was the young General MacArthur and Colonel Thomas Lanphier Sr. He was eventually convicted. Col. Lanphier’s son, Thomas Jr, was the lead pilot of a P-38 Lightning, whose group intercepted and shot down the plane carrying the Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Mitchell, who died in 1939, at the age of 56, also was one who predicted that someday the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor. The B-25 Mitchell bomber was named after Brigadier General Mitchell, and 16 of those planes were used on the famous Jimmy Doolittle raid of Japan in 1942

For Rickenbacker, it was a chance encounter with Captain James Miller on the Champs-Elysees that put him on the track to become a fighter pilot. Miller asked Rickenbacker to be the chief engineer at the flight school and aerodrome he was establishing at Issoudun. Rickenbacker bargained for the chance to learn to fly at the French flight school outside Toul. He received just five weeks of training, twenty-five hours in the air, in September, 1917. Then he went to Issoudun to start constructing the US Air Service’s pursuit training facility,

American aviation cadets—college men—were just beginning to arrive for their flight training. Rickenbacker resented their cocky attitude. They scorned his rough manner and speech. During the next three months, Rickenbacker stole moments from his work to continue his flight training, standing in at the back of lectures and taking aeroplanes up on his own to practice new maneuvers. He would eventually earn the respect of the aviators, but for now he had just one ally among the cadets, Lieutenant Reed Chambers. In January, 1918, Rickenbacker finagled his way into getting released to gunnery school, the final step on his road to becoming a pursuit pilot.

In February and March, Rickenbacker and the officers of the nascent 1st Pursuit Group completed advanced training at Villeneuve-les-Vertus Aerodrome. There the young lieutenant came under the tutelage and mentorship of Major Raoul Lufbery, whom Rickenbacker would credit for his success in the air. “All I learned, I learned from Lufbery,” he would say Lufbery took him and Douglas Campbell on their first patrol “over the line” even before their Nieuport 28s were outfitted with machine guns. By now Rickenbacker had earned the respect of the other fliers, who had begun calling him “Rick.”

Both squadrons relocated to Toul, in the St. Mihiel sector, where Rickenbacker had begun his training with the French seven months earlier. Now the American air service had its own aerodrome, Gengoult, nearby. Before beginning their patrols each of the two squadrons chose an insignia to paint on its planes. The 95th chose a kicking mule. The 94th chose an Uncle Sam stovepipe hat, tipped inside a surrounding circle. One officer remarked, “Well, I guess our hat is in the ring now!”  And the squadron became known as “The Hat-in-the-Ring Gang.”

Rickenbacker made his first sortie with Reed Chambers on April 13, which almost ended in disaster when both became lost and Chambers had to make a forced landing. Flight commander David Peterson called Rick a “bloody fool for flying off in a fog.” Two weeks later, on April 29, 1918, Rickenbacker shot down his first enemy plane. On May 28, he claimed his fifth victory to become an ace. Rickenbacker was awarded the French Croix de Guerre that month for his five victories. This success did not mean the end of difficulties, however. Several times he almost fired on friendly planes. He nearly crashed when the fabric on his Nieuport’s wing tore off in a dive. He mourned the death of Lufbery. And his guns kept jamming whenever he went in for the kill.

Rickenbacker did get in the air in time for the St. Mihiel offensive based out of Rembercourt Aerodrome, beginning Sept. 12. By this time, the 94th and the others squadrons of the 1st Pursuit had converted from their agile but temperamental Nieuports to the more rugged, higher-powered Spad XIII. The new machine fit Rickenbacker’s style of attack to a tee. He made his first kill on September 14 against a Fokker D-VII, and another the day after that. As Rickenbacker’s performance was rising, the 94th Squadron’s was still disappointing after a sluggish summer at Chateau Thierry. Major Harold Hartney, commander of the 1st Pursuit Group since late August, wanted new leadership to spark the Hat-in-the-Ring Gang (later an early symbol of the NY Yankees) to its former greatness. He chose Lieutenant Rickenbacker over several other captains to become the new commander of the 94th Squadron.

Rickenbacker went to right work turning his men “back into a team.” He gathered his pilots and exhorted them to stay focused on their mission: shooting down enemy planes. Reminding the mechanics that he was one of them, he stressed the crucial importance of their work. Above all, to underscore his point, the next morning Rickenbacker took a solo patrol over the line and shot down two enemy planes.

Building on the leadership skills he had first developed with Maxwell in 1915–1916, Rickenbacker turned the 94th Squadron into a winning team. Rickenbacker was determined to “blind the eyes of the enemy” by taking out his observation balloons. The giant gas bags appeared so temptingly easy to bring down but were in fact heavily guarded and extremely dangerous to attack. He led planning sessions for multi-squadron raids of as many as fourteen planes. One reporter likened him to a big time football coach, “boning up for the season ahead” with “conferences on methods, blackboard talks, and ideas for air battle tactics.” All the planning didn’t guarantee success.

Rickenbacker himself was credited with bringing down five balloons, far fewer than the air service’s most prolific balloon-buster, Frank Luke of the 27th Aero Squadron. Rickenbacker inculcated the squadron with his new principles of engagement, first germinated while confined in a Parisian hospital. Never attack unless there is at least 50–50 chance of success; always break off an engagement that seems hopeless; know the difference between cowardice and common sense. He continued to fly aggressively, but with a calculated caution. What the sportswriter had written about Rickenbacker the race car driver still applied: “the most daring and withal the most cautious”[ fighter pilot in the 1st Pursuit Group. He also flew more patrols, more hours in the air, than any other pilot in the service, a total of 300 combat hours. He brought down 15 aircraft in the final six weeks of the war, bringing his total victories to 26 and making him The United States. “Ace of aces,” for the war.

The military determined ace status by verifying combat claims by a pilot, but confirmation, too, was needed from ground witnesses, affirmations of other pilots, or observation of the wreckage of the opposing enemy aircraft. If no witnesses could be found, a reported kill was not counted. It was an imperfect system, dependent on the frailties of human observation, as well as vagaries of weather and terrain. Most aces’ records are thus ‘best estimates’, not ‘exact counts’. Nevertheless, Rickenbacker’s 26 victories remained the American record until Richard Bong‘s 40 kills in World War II.

Rickenbacker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross a record eight times. One of these awards, regarding his victories in the air above Billy, France, was converted in 1930 to the Medal of Honor. It was awarded to him in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover. He was also awarded the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre by France. (See Honors and Awards below.) In 1919, Rickenbacker was discharged from the Army Air Service with the rank of captain, which he had obtained sometime in October.

Rickenbacker was received home as a war hero. At the Waldorf-Astoria, six hundred “friends and admirers, including Secretary of War Newton Baker and his mother, shuttled in from Columbus, Ohio cheered him and toasted him and shouted and sang to him. On the streets, he described getting mobbed by souvenir seekers, tearing buttons and ribbons off his uniform.

After the Liberty Bond tour, Rickenbacker was released from the army with the rank of Major, which he never used. He felt the rank of captain was the only one that was “earned and deserved.” He was often referred to as “Captain Eddie” or just “the Captain” for the rest of his life.

Rickenbacker had a name he could capitalize on in any business he chose. He had already told a reporter, “There is no comparison between the auto and the air. I am through with the automobile and I stand ready to place my skill and talents in flying.” As early as December 1919, Rickenbacker had begun discussing with Reed Chambers the possibility of a joint venture in aircraft manufacturing. But the way forward was not apparent. Airlines did not yet exist. Performance and safety were still a concern. “Aeroplane” was still the preferred spelling. Rickenbacker resorted to his promotional abilities to spur public and governmental enthusiasm, but his efforts did not always pay off. In 1920 and 1921 he made four transcontinental crossings, twice in Junkers-Larsen JL-6s and twice in De Haviland DH-4s. In the course of these four trips, he underwent seven crack-ups, nine near misses, and eight forced landings in cornfields and the like.

Rickenbacker spent the first eight months of 1921 traveling the Golden State, promoting the Sheridan and opening new dealerships there. He often traveled between cities by plane, a leased Bellanca.

Rickenbacker Motor Company marketed its vehicle as “A Car Worthy of Its Name.” It was a high-quality mid-priced car, “up to the minute in every detail,” with models ranging from about $1500 to $2000. The Rickenbacker was selected to make the first transcontinental radio tour in June 1922, because it “offers the least resistance to radio because of vibration.” 

Rickenbacker met Adelaide Frost Durant in Los Angeles before the war. She was married to Clifford Durant, hard-partying son of Billy Durant of General Motors fame and racing competitor of Eddie Rickenbacker. Cliff was also an abusive husband. Adelaide chose to get a hysterectomy to ensure she would bear him no children. Her father-in-law stepped in to allow her to live independently, buying her a comfortable home and giving her $220,000 in equities (half of the value in GM stock). Eventually Rickenbacker married Adelaide Durant.

On November 1, 1927, Rickenbacker bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which he operated for nearly a decade and a half, overseeing many improvements to the facility. Once the Speedway operations were under control, Rickenbacker looked for additional opportunities for entrepreneurship, including in sales for the Cadillac division of General Motors, and for various aircraft manufacturers and airlines. After the 500-mile (800 km) race in 1941, Rickenbacker closed the Speedway due to World War II. Among other things, holding the race would have been a waste of valuable gasoline, rubber, and other resources. In 1945, Rickenbacker sold the racetrack to the businessman Anton (Tony) Hulman, Jr.

Rickenbacker kept his fingers in the automotive pot and capitalized on his General Motors connections through his wife, former daughter-in-law of Billy Durant. On November 1, 1927, Rickenbacker purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Carl Fisher for $700,000. He deemed the income (he gave himself a salary of $5,000 a year) and public relations opportunities more valuable than the $700,000 in additional debt he incurred. In January, 1928, Rickenbacker became assistant general manager for sales at GM its Cadillac and LaSalle models. Later in the year, he took out another loan, this time for $90,000 to buy the Allison Engine Company, and earned a significant amount on the resale to GM. Rickenbacker did much the same thing with Bendix Corporation soon after. Lewis believes Rickenbacker kept some aspects of the transaction secret, saving him taxes and allowing him to pay back his debt.

By mid-1929, Rickenbacker had returned his focus to aviation. He convinced General Motors to purchase Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America, the designer of fighter planes he once faced on the Western Front. As compensation for his advice, Rickenbacker was made FACA’s vice president for sales. Rickenbacker chose not to follow the aviation company when it relocated its headquarters to Baltimore in 1932. He was quickly hired as vice president for governmental relations at American Airways (of American Air Transport), an essential function as at a time when all airlines were both subsidized and heavily regulated by the government. Ten months later, Rickenbacker separated from AAT and returned his attention to GM, prodding the auto maker to purchase North American Aviation, a company he had previously convinced American Air Transport to purchase. The deal went through and Rickenbacker was made vice president for public affairs in GM’s latest aviation venture, starting in June 1933. NAA was the parent company for Eastern Air Lines, Curtiss-Wright Corporation, and Trans World Airlines. Rickenbacker positioned himself to become general manager of Eastern Air Lines when the position opened up at the start of 1935.

Rickenbacker was adamantly opposed to President Franklin Roosevelt‘s New Deal policies, seeing them as little better than socialism. For this, he drew criticism and ire from the press and the Roosevelt administration, which ordered NBC Radio not to allow him to broadcast opinions critical of Roosevelt’s policies after Rickenbacker had harshly denounced the president’s decision to rescind existing mail contracts in 1934 and have U.S. Army Air Corps pilots carry the air mail. At the time, Rickenbacker was vice president of one of the companies affected, Eastern Air Transport. When a number of inexperienced, undertrained Army pilots were killed in crashes soon afterward, Rickenbacker stated, “That’s legalized murder!”

Rickenbacker’s most lasting business endeavor was his longtime leadership of Eastern Air Lines. Through the 1920s, he had worked with and for General Motors (GM): first as the California distributor for its new car, the short-lived Sheridan, then later as a marketer for the LaSalle, and finally as vice president of sales for their affiliate, Fokker Aircraft Company. He persuaded GM to purchase North American Aviation, a conglomerate whose assets included Eastern Air Transport. GM asked him to manage Eastern, beginning in 1935. With the help of some friends, Rickenbacker merged Eastern Air Transport and Florida Airways to form Eastern Air Lines, an airline that eventually grew from a company flying a few thousand miles per week into a major airline. In April 1938, after learning that GM was considering selling Eastern to John D. Hertz, Rickenbacker met with GM’s Chairman of the Board, Alfred P. Sloan, and bought the company for $3.5 million.

Rickenbacker also scripted a popular comic strip called Ace Drummond from 1935 to 1940. He worked with aviation artist and author Clayton Knight, who illustrated the series. The strip followed the adventures of aviator Drummond. It was later adapted into a film serial and radio program. Between 1935 and 1940, Knight and Rickenbacker also did another King Features comic strip, The Hall of Fame of the Air, depicting airplanes and air battles in a fact-based series about famous and little-known aviators. This strip was adapted into a Big Little Book, Hall of Fame of the Air (Whitman Publishing, 1936)

He oversaw many radical changes in the field of commercial aviation. He negotiated with the U.S. government to acquire air mail routes, a great advantage to companies in need of business. He helped develop and support new aircraft designs. Rickenbacker bought the new, large, faster airliners for Eastern Air Lines, including the four-engine Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-4. Rickenbacker personally collaborated with many of the pioneers of aviation, including Donald W. Douglas, the founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company, and the designer and builder of the large, four-engine airliners, the DC-4DC-6DC-7, and DC-8 (its first jet airliner).

Rickenbacker promoted flying to the American public, but, always aware of the possibility of accidents, he wrote in his autobiography, “I have never liked to use the word ‘safe’ in connection with either Eastern Air Lines or the entire transportation field; I prefer the word ‘reliable’.” Rickenbacker often traveled for business on Eastern Air Lines flights. On February 26, 1941, he was a passenger on a Douglas DC-3 airliner that crashed just outside Atlanta, Georgia. Rickenbacker suffered grave injuries, being soaked in fuel, immobile, and trapped in the wreckage. In spite of his own critical wounds, Rickenbacker encouraged the other passengers, offered what consolation he could to those around him who were injured or dying, and guided the survivors who were still ambulatory to attempt to find help. The survivors were rescued after spending the night at the crash site. Rickenbacker barely survived. This was just the first time that the press announced his death while he was still alive.

In a dramatic retelling of the incident, Rickenbacker’s autobiography relates his astonishing experiences. While he was still conscious but in terrible pain, Rickenbacker was left behind while some ambulances carried away bodies of the dead. When Rickenbacker arrived at a hospital, his injuries appeared so grotesque that the emergency surgeons and physicians left him for dead for some time. They instructed their assistants to “take care of the live ones.”[76] Rickenbacker’s injuries included a fractured skull, other head injuries, a shattered left elbow with a crushed nerve, a paralyzed left hand, several broken ribs, a crushed hip socket, a pelvis broken in two places, a severed nerve in his left hip, and a broken left knee. Rickenbacker’s left eyeball was also blown out of its socket.

It took many months in the hospital, followed by a long time at home, for Rickenbacker to heal from this multitude of injuries and to regain his full eyesight. Rickenbacker described his terrible experience with vivid accounts of his mental state as he approached death—emphasizing the supreme act of will that it took to stave off dying. Rickenbacker’s autobiography reports that he spent ten days at the door of death, which he illustrated as “having an overwhelming sensation of calm and pleasure”.

Rickenbacker supported the war effort as a civilian. While initially supporting the isolationist movement, Rickenbacker officially left the America First organization in 1940, having only been a nominal member of it for a few months. From this point on he took an outspokenly pro-British stance. He was inspired by “England’s heroic resistance to relentless air attacks” from the Luftwaffe‘s campaign against the island of Great Britain in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, and wrote at that time: “Should these gallant British withstand the terrific onslaught of the totalitarian states until the summer of 1941, it is my sincere conviction that by that time this nation will have declared war.” Rickenbacker was one of a few celebrities who took part in campaigns to rally his fellow World War I veterans to the British cause before the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1942, he toured training bases in the southwestern United States and in England. He encouraged the American public to contribute time and resources, and pledged Eastern Air Lines equipment and personnel for use in military activities. Under Rickenbacker’s direction Eastern Air Lines, along with other air lines such as Pan American Airlines, provided the means of war to British forces and flew munitions and supplies across the North Atlantic Ocean to the British.

Rickenbacker inspected troops, operations, and equipment, and served in a publicity function to increase support from civilians and soldiers. In 1942, with a sweeping letter of authorization from Henry L. StimsonU.S. Secretary of War, Rickenbacker visited England on an official war mission and made ground-breaking recommendations for better war operations. He worked with both the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces on bombing strategy, including work with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris and General Carl Andrew Spaatz.

One of Rickenbacker’s most famous near-death experiences occurred in October 1942. Stimson sent him on a tour of air bases in the Pacific Theater of Operations to review both living conditions and operations, but also to deliver personally a secret message of rebuke to General Douglas MacArthur from the President for negative public comments MacArthur had made about the administration and disparaging cables sent to Marshall. After visiting several air and sea bases in Hawaii, Rickenbacker was provided an older B-17D Flying Fortress (AAF Ser. No. 40-3089) as transportation to the South Pacific. The bomber, (with a crew of eight) strayed hundreds of miles off course while on its way to a refueling stop on Canton Island and was forced to ditch in a remote and little-traveled part of the Central Pacific Ocean.

The failure in navigation has been ascribed to an out-of-adjustment celestial navigation instrument, a bubble octant that gave a systematic bias to all of its readings. That octant reportedly had suffered a severe shock in a pre-takeoff mishap. The pre-takeoff mishap occurred during the first attempt to take off in a different bomber, but the landing gear’s brakes seized mid-takeoff. They kept the same damaged bubble octant on a different plane, which caused the navigational failure. This unnecessary ditching spurred on the development of improved navigational instruments and also better survival gear for the air crewmen. The B-17’s aircraft commander, former American Airlines pilot Captain William T. Cherry, Jr., was forced to ditch close to Japanese-held islands but the Americans were never spotted by Japanese patrol planes, and were adrift on the ocean for thousands of miles.

For 24 days, Rickenbacker, Army Captain Hans C. Adamson, his friend and business partner, and the rest of the 8 crewmen drifted in life rafts at sea. Rickenbacker was still suffering somewhat from his earlier airplane crash, and Capt. Adamson sustained serious injuries during the ditching. The other crewmen who were in the B-17, named Bartek, Reynolds, Whittaker, Cherry, Kaczmarczyk, and De Angelis, were hurt to varying degrees. The crewmen’s food supply ran out after three days. Then, on the eighth day, a seagull landed on Rickenbacker’s head. He warily and cautiously captured it, and then the survivors meticulously divided it into equal parts and used part of it for fishing bait. They lived on sporadic rain water that fell and similar food “miracles”, like fingerlings that they caught with their bare hands.

Rickenbacker assumed leadership, encouraging and browbeating the others to keep their spirits up. One crewman, Alexander Kaczmarczyk, was suffering from dehydration. He drank sea water, knowing it was a bad idea. He died and was buried at sea. The U.S. Army Air Forces and the U.S. Navy‘s patrol planes planned to abandon the search for the lost B-17 crewmen after just over two weeks, but Rickenbacker’s wife persuaded them to extend it another week. The services agreed to do so. Once again, the newspapers and radio broadcasts reported that Rickenbacker was dead.

The seven split up. Cherry rowed off in the small raft and was rescued on day 23. Reynolds, De Angelis, and Whittwaker found a small island, close to another, inhabited one. The natives of the second one were hosting an allied radio station, so all was good for the men. Reynolds was extremely close to death. A U.S. Navy patrol OS2U-3 Kingfisher float-plane spotted and rescued the 3 survivors on November 13, off the coast of Nukufetau in Tuvalu. All were suffering from hyperthermiasunburndehydration, and near-starvation. Rickenbacker completed his assignment and delivered his message, which has never been made public, to General MacArthur.

Rickenbacker had thought that he had been lost for 21 days and wrote a book about this experience titled Seven Came Through, published by Doubleday, Doran. It was not until later that he recalculated the number of days, and he corrected himself in his autobiography in 1967. The pilot of the plane that rescued the survivors, Lieutenant William F. Eadie, USN, was awarded the Navy’s Air Medal for his actions during the rescue. The story was also recounted in Lt. James Whittaker’s book We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing, published in 1943. The story of Rickenbacker’s ordeal has been used as an example for Alcoholics Anonymous when the first of their Twelve Traditions was formulated: “Our common welfare should come first. Personal recovery depends upon AA unity.”

Still determined to support the U.S. war effort, Rickenbacker suggested a fact-finding mission in the Soviet Union to provide the Soviets with needed technical assistance for their American aircraft. Rickenbacker approached Soviet diplomats, and avoided requesting help from President Franklin Roosevelt, due to their prior disagreements. He scheduled resumption of his tour of American air operations in the Far East, interrupted by his ordeal in 1942, while he awaited approval of his visit from the Soviets. With Stimson’s help and by trading favors with the Soviet ambassador, Rickenbacker secured unlikely permission to travel to the Soviet Union. The War Department provided everything Rickenbacker needed, including a highly unusual letter stating that the bearer was authorized to “visit … any … areas he may deem necessary for such purposes as he will explain to you in person”, signed by the Secretary of War.

Rickenbacker’s trip in the spring and summer of 1943 took him along the South Atlantic air route that Eastern Air Lines had helped pioneer in 1941, traveling to Cairo in an AAF C-54 provided him by Gen. Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the United States Army Air Forces. He made observations about conditions at every stop and reviewed American operations with a critical eye, forwarding reports to authorities. From Cairo he traveled by C-87 to India to experience the Hump airlift into China, on which he reported unfavorably to Arnold after his return to the United States. Continuing over the Hump to China himself, Rickenbacker was impressed by the determination of the Chinese people but disgusted with the corruption of the Kuomintang government. Reaching Iran, he offered to bring along an American officer to the Soviet Union, although approval of the request delayed Rickenbacker’s party several days.

In the Soviet Union, Rickenbacker observed wartime conditions, the extraordinary dedication and patriotism of the populace, and the ruthless denial of food to those deemed unproductive to the war effort. He befriended many Soviet officials and shared his knowledge of the aircraft they had received from the United States. He was lavishly entertained and recalled attempts by NKVD agents and officials to get him intoxicated enough to disclose sensitive information.

Rickenbacker’s mission was successful. He discovered that a commander of Moscow‘s defense had stayed at Rickenbacker’s home in 1937, and personal connections like this and the respect the Soviet military personnel had for him greatly aided his information-gathering. He learned about Soviet defense strategies and capabilities. In the distraction resulting from the outbreak of the Battle of Kursk, he saw a map of the front line showing the locations of all major Soviet military units, which he did his best to memorize. He also persuaded his hosts to give him an unprecedented tour of the Shturmovik aircraft factory. However, comments made by Rickenbacker during his trip alerted the Soviets to the existence of the secret B-29 Superfortress program.

Rickenbacker observed some traces of capitalism (for example, people were allowed to grow food and sell their surplus) and predicted that the Soviet Union would eventually become a capitalist nation. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill interviewed Rickenbacker about his mission. In the U.S., Rickenbacker’s information resulted in some diplomatic and military action, but President Roosevelt did not meet with Rickenbacker. For his service in support of the war effort, Eddy Rickenbacker received the Medal for Merit, a decoration for civilians in service to the United States government equivalent to the military Legion of Merit. For his service in support of the war effort, Rickenbacker received the Medal for Merit, a decoration for civilians in service to the United States government equivalent to the military Legion of Merit.

Rickenbacker’s main home was outside New York City. Rickenbacker was also an avid golfer, often playing at the Siwanoy Country Club course near his home in Bronxville. He is one of a very select few Club members who were granted honorary lifetime membership at Siwanoy. (By the way, I passed Siwanoy CC hundreds of times while I lived in Mount Vernon, NY.)

Rickenbacker owned a winter home in Coconut Grove, Florida, near Eastern Air Lines’ major maintenance and administrative headquarters at Miami International Airport. For a time, Eastern was the most profitable airline in the postwar era. During the late 1950s, however, Eastern Air Lines’ fortunes declined, and Rickenbacker was forced out of his position as CEO on October 1, 1959. Rickenbacker also resigned as the Chairman of the Board on December 31, 1963, at the age of 73. After that, Captain and Mrs. Rickenbacker traveled extensively for a number of years.

In the 1960s, Rickenbacker became a well-known speaker. He shared his vision for the future of technology and commerce, exhorted Americans to respect the adversary, the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but still uphold American values. Rickenbacker endorsed many conservative ideas, which put him at odds with many regarding the current and future needs of all Americans.

Captain Rickenbacker suffered from a stroke while he was in Switzerland seeking special medical treatment for Mrs. Rickenbacker, and he then contracted pneumonia. Rickenbacker died on July 23, 1973, (age 83) in Zürich, Switzerland. A memorial service was held at the Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church with the eulogy given by Lt. General Jimmy Doolittle, and then his body was interred in Columbus, Ohio, at the Green Lawn Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was the last living Medal of Honor recipient of the Air Service, United States Army.

 

Let’s talk about the real economy, the one before the Pandemic! Richard J. Garfunkel January 2022

Trump’s pre-pandemic record

Trump’s record offered little legitimate grounds for boasting before the pandemic. The persistent growth in output and decline in the unemployment rate during his first three years extended trends in the recovery from the Great Recession that he inherited from President Barack Obama.

Growth accelerated in early 2018 following Trump’s sole major legislative achievement, the tax cuts he and Congressional Republicans enacted. But that didn’t last long with the economy already near full employment, and the budget deficit swelled. A temporary surge in investment resulted mainly from higher energy prices.

“It provided no long-term benefit,” wrote Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics The counter-productive tariff wars Trump initiated quickly offset any short-term benefit from the tax-cuts and the administration’s deregulation push. That’s why Trump, to avoid further damaging the economy in his re-election year, called a truce with China in January without obtaining the structural reforms he had demanded from Beijing. Trump earlier threw away leverage by abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership with allies that the Obama administration had negotiated. (The NAFTA re-structuring was a sham and if Trump would have won re-election he would have ended the tariff War and declared victory!)

By the way, because of the insipid, misdirected, politically-inspired Tariff War, direct farm aid has climbed each year of Trump’s presidency, from $11.5 billion in 2017 to more than $32 billion this year — an all-time high, with potentially far more funding still to come in 2020, amounting to about two-thirds of the cost of the entire Department of Health and Human Services. Trump’s “very serious policy mistakes,” Zandi said, were his attacks on international and domestic institutions. They include “actively trying to undermine” the Fed’s independence. Financial markets vs. the real world. (Pressuring to low interest rates without a recession or the need for a recovery.

Trump can accurately point to above-average financial market gains. Through November the S&P 500 had risen by an average of 14.34% per year during his term, slightly more than the 12.43% under Obama. (a little inaccurate because, Obama faced five months of the Bush 43 Great Recession when the DJIA went from 8200 to 6600, and then rebounded to almost 20,000 at the end of his second term – a tremendous rebound!)

But those gains have largely been driven by rock-bottom interest rates, which drive investors into stocks in search of higher returns. And the benefits of those gains accrue largely to the most affluent Americans who own most of the stocks. (Also on the subject of jobs, even with the economy on steroids, Trump created 19% less jobs in his first three years than Obama in his last three!)

The President can also cite a higher-than-average 3.32% annual gain in real per capita disposable income. But that average conceals the extent of those gains that flowed to the affluent, who benefited disproportionately from his tax cuts.

As a candidate in 2016, Trump championed the beleaguered blue-collar workers he called “the forgotten Americans.” His policies have not closed the gap between them and economic elites. (also, every recovery from recession, since WWII was started by domestic home sales, hiring countless domestic, blue collar workers. The Derivative Bust, brought on the Great Recession which was caused by a glut of 1,000,000 homes, either abandoned or with under- water mortgages.)

Through the third quarter of 2020, Mark Zandi of Moddy’s, says, the least wealthy 50% of Americans own just 1.9% of the nation’s net worth, while the top 1% own 30.5%. The surging pandemic promises make that disparity worse before Trump leaves office. (the last 15 months before the 3rd quarter of 2019 and before the Pandemic, the GDP grew at less than 2%.)

When the Labor Department issues the final monthly jobs report of his presidency in early January, Zandi expects it to show a renewed decline in employment. In the first quarter of 2021, as Trump yields power to Biden, the Wall Street firm JPMorgan predicts that economic output will shrink. (Job losses, including the 6.6 million created in the first three years, now lost, will approach or exceed 12 million. (That is the only time in the last 12 presidencies that jobs were lost since Hoover!)

Where’s the Money?

 In 2019, the Federal Reserve published its 40 years (since 1980) evaluation of Asset Allocation. In those 40 years, $21 trillion went to the 1% and $900 billion was lost by the bottom 50%! If one added $4 trillion that was also transferred to the next 3-4% of the top earners, the total transference would be about $25 trillion. As anyone can see, $25 trillion is a lot of money! It basically reflects the Republican incurred deficits (Recessions and recoveries) since the end of Bill Clinton’s 2nd term, when the National Debt stood at $5 trillion. It is now about $30 trillion.

The top bracket from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan was 70%. All of these billions earned over the past 40 years were taxed at a lot less. From Reagan’s 28% for the top bracket through Donald Trump’s 37%, the average could be around 35%. Let us not forget the three disastrous tax cuts from Reagan to Bush 43, to Trump.

Therefore, in the most simplistic fashion, if the government had taxed, over the past 40 years, at the Kennedy Tax Rate, the revenues would have been $17.5 trillion. But, since those $25 trillion were taxed at about half the rate, the revenues dropped to $8.75 trillion. If we divided that difference by 40 years, we would come up with a differential of $220 billion per year. That works out to $2200 for 100 million families. If that $2200 had been put in a tax deferred annuity for 40 years, at the average rate of 5%, those families would have had $256,000. But, if that money had been spent each year on infrastructure, school construction, affordable housing, healthcare and better jobs, we would not be in horrible position that we are in today. We would have had more tax revenues and less debt.

June 5th, 2022

The last time I looked unemployment was at 3.6% and heading downward, On December 1, 2017 it was 4.1% after 80 straight months of recovery. In 2017, there were 2 million jobs created, so far, in 2021, after 11 months the total is 5.1 million. Let us remember in 2017, there was no COVID and a big, expensive tax cut, which would inflate the National Debt $3 trillion before the Pandemic.

What’s True

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% in fall 2019 — the lowest rate in about 50 years, since December 1969.

What’s False

No evidence showed Trump or his administrations fiscal or regulatory policies caused the 50-year low. Rather, the unemployment rate was steadily declining as part of the country’s overall recovery from the Great Recession before he took office.

The American economy expanded an annualized 6.9% on quarter in Q4 2021, much higher than 2.3% in Q3 and well above forecasts of 5.5%. It is the strongest GDP growth in five quarters with the biggest upward contribution coming from private inventories (4.9 percentage points), namely motor vehicle dealers as companies had been drawing down stocks since the beginning of 2021. Personal consumption increased 3.3%, pushed higher by a 4.7% surge in services spending, namely health care, recreation, and transportation. Fixed investment rebounded by 1.3%, led by intellectual property products that was partly offset by a decrease in structures. Residential investment however, continued to decline and was down 0.8%. Meanwhile, net trade made no contribution to growth as exports jumped 24.5% led by consumer goods, industrial supplies, foods, and travel; and imports went up 17.7%. Considering full 2021, the economy advanced 5.7%, the most since 1984. Under Trump, never broke 3% in the first three years, until it plummeted 36% from January to July 2020! The Trump Economic Miracle.

There was no Trump Economic Miracle! Just the greatest loss of jobs in 4 years since Hoover, record deficits and the rich getting richer as the billionaire class exploded.

 

 

 

 

Life Imitates Art: the Life and Loves of Greta Garbo March 15, 2022

Garbo was born Greta Gustaffson in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1905, to working class, impoverished people who could have been thought of at the time as peasants. She was loved by her parents and she loved them. Her father died when she was a teenager, most probably because they couldn’t afford him proper healthcare. She was a shy, day-dreaming young girl, who never attended high school. This was not unusual for girls who needed to work to support their families. Her uncle had said, “Greta was different from any other kids I knew!” Often she hid under a table and he asked her “what she was she thinking of darling?” His niece answered, “I am thinking what I want to do when I am grown!”

She, like many of her friends and peers, escaped the doldrums of their lives by going to the movies, which were quite primitive in that era. She was a student of the dramatic arts and came under the tutelage of the Finnish-Jewish film director Mauritz Stiller, who had immigrated to Sweden. He was an imposing personality, tall, ruggedly, handsome and he rose to prominence in the Swedish film industry at the time of Victor Sjosrtrum. They would be the dominating figures in that industry until Ingmar Bergman in the 1940s.

He saw something in her that even his cameraman who filmed her screen test did not see. Her hair was short, brown and to a degree unkempt, her clothes were plain, without any style and she was certainly not svelte. After her screen test, which she thought she failed, Stiller was incredibly impressed, and offered her a contract. He was a charismatic and dynamic director in the nascent Swedish film industry. He saw something in her that no one else seemed to see. Stiller would always look for new personalities to star in his films. He asked her to lose 20 pounds, taught her how to dress, to act, how to emote and generally how to handle herself.

After some local success in four Swedish films, Stiller contacted MGM and Louis B. Mayer, who was always looking for talent from Europe. It seems Mayer wanted Stiller to come to direct in Hollywood and his disciple and discovery, the newly named Great Garbo was almost a “throw in” regarding the “package” to go to America. So when the contract was signed in November of 1924 in Berlin, Louis B. Mayer told her that in America the public didn’t like fat women. When she heard the translation, she shrugged her shoulders. Interestingly, she wasn’t then very heavy at all.

Stiller and Garbo took the SS Dratningholm out of Goteborg, Sweden. It was the first time either of them had been on an ocean liner. Eventually they docked in NYC, checked into the Commodore Hotel for a two month summer stay in very hot weather. They were never used to the heat of an NY summer, and with limited language skills, life in NYC was not a happy time.

Eventually, after sitting around in NYC they finally headed to Los Angeles. After more than two months in Los Angeles, she was finally noticed by the young Hollywood “genius” Irving Thalberg, who had an excellent reputation regarding taste and talent. She was incredibly naïve, not educated, her movements were clumsy, her feet were considered big, but they really weren’t, and her teeth needed to be fixed. She giggled, laughed loudly and wore cheap clothes. That is what she had. In Garbo’s time, Los Angeles in the mid 1920’s, was smaller than Stockholm, not abounding with culture and was basically a “company” town. Finally, when her screen test was noticed, her hair was changed, a small blemish was removed from her forehead and her nearly perfect teeth were capped and made better.

In “Torrent,” her first film for MGM in 1926, the well-known writer Joseph Alsop, later wrote in 1935 about her hideous clothes, the insipid plot and her beautiful face. Not long after, she was cast in her second film, “The Temptress,” and she received raved reviews. By the next effort, “Flesh and the Devil” with her eventual lover, John Gilbert, her star never faded and audiences were mesmerized by her beauty. It seemed the plots didn’t matter.

Garbo was something new and unique for Tinseltown. She was taller than most women of her day and broad-shouldered. In that day, most women stars were petite, pensive and reserved. America’s sweetheart was the demure Mary Pickford. Garbo seemed to combine a sensual with a spiritual essence, and an androgynous aspect to her mannerisms. She was attractive to both men and women. There was a detachment about her, a wariness, almost a feeling of aloofness. All through her later career, just the movement of her face would evoke a kind attractiveness never found before or since. It created an instant magnetism. She almost got the lead in her first picture in America, “The Torrent” by accident. The Director, Monta Bell was captivated by her screen test and the lead who was chosen, Alma Rubens fell ill. Her co-star was Ricardo Cortez, another Hollywood answer to Ramon Navarro and Rudolph Valentino. This so-called labeled Latin Lover, was actually born in the Bronx, originally acted under the name of Jack Crane, but was born Jacob Krantz. Cortez/Krantz had attended Dewitt Clinton HS, had been a boxer and a runner on Wall Street. After his career fizzled before the 2nd World War, he went back to Wall Street as a successful broker.

With her first film, “The Torrent,” behind her, she was cast quickly cast in “The Tempest.” Her cameraman, William Daniels was the real star. He learned how to light up her face, so it would appear to glow. He had met her on the set of “The Torrent,” and treated her with great care. He created great high, lighting angles on her face so that her long eyelashes would be seen as shadows on her cheeks. This would become a hallmark of her allure.

Again, the public flocked to see her play the “vamp” in the more successful “Tempest!” At this time in her very, early career, she was already complaining about her treatment by MGM. To her friends in Sweden, she wrote that the film was rotten. But when it opened, in 1926, at the Capitol Theater in NYC, she was acclaimed by the reviewers who basically ignored the story. The famous playwright, critic and author, Robert Sherwood, who would be FDR’s last speech writer in 1945, wrote of her as the official “Dream Princess,” and spoke of the “efficacy of her allure.” In NYC, The NY Times, the Herald Tribune and the Mirror were ecstatic about her. Unfortunately, after “The Tempest” her mentor and most probably her first lover, Mauritz Stiller, who was replaced as the director on “The Tempest,” by Fred Niblo, was basically through in Hollywood. He left as a failure, returned to Sweden, became quite ill and died not long after in 1928. She worked insanely hard. She wrote to her great Swedish friend, Mimi Pollak that she was up at 6 am- was at the studio at 9 am and home by 6 or 7pm, exhausted and into bed. She was exhausted. She rarely went out, had no energy left to meet and converse with other film people and had no desire for small talk.

During the filming, she startled by the report of the death of her year older sister Alva from cancer. She had wanted to go home to see her when there were reports of her illness, but the studio would never let her have the time required. This, with her earlier disputes over her contract, added to her distaste with Hollywood and the studio system. That distaste would never abate. Later in 1948, Cecil Beaton would reports what she had written, “What a waste of my best years of my life- always alone it was so stupid not being able to partake more. Now I am just a gypsy, living a life apart.

Her 3rd film, “Flesh and the Devil,” made 11 months later, clicked, made money, and even though the plot was insipid and Garbo’s acting was a letdown, the public was fascinated by the love scenes and the whispered romance between Garbo and the 29 year old John Gilbert fed the audience’s appetite.

In “Flesh and the Devil,” she is again cast as the “vamp,” and all men as her prey. Eventually two of her lovers (noblemen) fight a duel over her, and as the unfaithful wife of an Austrian Count, she falls through the ice and drowns. In a review by the critic of New York Herald Tribune, the two lovers, John Gilbert and Garbo were ecstatically praised. “Never before has John Gilbert been so intense in his portrayal of a man in love, never before has a woman so alluring, with a seductive grace that is far more potent than mere beauty, appeared on the screen. Frankly, never in our screen career have we seen seduction so perfectly done!” Her star was soaring and all around her knew it.

Gilbert and Garbo were an item-talk of marriage that began in earnest regarding their closeness, but it never happened. In fact, she was not interested in marriage or Gilbert. Gilbert had become almost bellicose. He drank, he threatened her, called her incessantly, but the romance had cooled. He blamed her mentor, Mauritz Stiller, but it wasn’t really Stiller. Eventually, he calmed down, their “romance” became a matter of companionship, then friendship, and eventually she moved on. It didn’t happen overnight. They remained in each company, he designed his home to impress her with Swedish art, beautiful furniture and many hideaways for her. He wanted her to be his hostess for his many Sunday invitees. She wasn’t really impressed with his home, the décor, or his attempt to rely on her as his hostess. She certainly wasn’t interested in serving his company!

Many years later, when Gilbert was dead and his memory was fading, Garbo was asked about her romance with him. “There never was a romance,” she answered, “and now I wonder what I ever saw in him.” Was this just cruelty or her idea that whatever intimacy they had was a matter of convenience?

Eventually, Garbo would make demands on the studio of who could come on the set, intrude on her privacy, how she could be treated, the type of films she would accept, and who would direct her. This was unique in this male-dominated era. Along the way, she had lovers from probably Stiller to certainly John Gilbert and very possibly a number of women. It seems she knew little from love or romance, no less anything else. She considered sexual intimacy as a necessity, the urge and activity of the moment. She trusted no one, hated Hollywood and all who supported the studio system, especially the publicity machine. She was not well-read, but was curious. She was never surrounded by thoughtful, introspective people. The Hollywood literati had no influence on her at all. She had no connection with any part of that community. Her social habits were simple and it was dominated by her working on the scripts, getting to the studio on time and leaving every day at 5 pm.

“Flesh and the Devil,” made her an immediate star, hounded by everyone, including the paparazzi of her day, which were insatiable. No one had ever attracted this kind of attention. Every person she saw, with every relationship she had- the questions never ceased. The demands never relented. She refused to be photographed, she would sign nothing, because everything thing she touched, even a cigarette butt, was immediately re-sold on the open market. Once she signed a picture for the director George Cukor, who begged for one. Surreptitiously, a visiting reporter took a picture of it while Cukor had gone in another room and it wound up immediately in the press. The hunt for news about her life was insatiable.

What really elevated Garbo from just a mysterious beauty and charismatic movie personage to a respected actress was the making of the silent movie version of “Anna Karenina,” by Leo Tolstoy. During the filming she became sick with pernicious anemia, the effort was delayed for five weeks and eventually what had been filmed was scrapped, the cast and the director were fired. It was a $200,000 disaster. After her recovery, aided by a different diet, and the help of a Swedish doctor, the shooting began under the direction of Edmund Guilding, a Brit who seem to understand what was needed. The new title was, “Love,” and the studio hired John Gilbert to play the role of Count Vronsky. All the unpleasantness of the past: the contract disputes, the walkout of Garbo, her physical illness and the tempestuous problems and relationship with Gilbert were seemingly forgotten. Garbo excelled way beyond her beauty, charm and charisma with an excellent, understated performance.

Ironically, she wasn’t unavailable to people. She had friends and visited them often. She was constantly invited to small gatherings, but became wary of others who had been invited without her knowledge. Often she would beg out of an invitation at the last moment. She got along with people on the set, but didn’t like an “open set,” and therefore, few people had access to the filming of her scenes. Often people would view her through a hole in a separating, drawn curtain. Again, every day she was well-prepared, always on time and very business-like. Often there were many re-takes, because many of her directors wanted each scene perfect. These re-takes had virtually nothing to do with Garbo or how she reacted to direction. The cameramen knew how to photograph her, reflective of close-ups, whether she was sitting or standing or the trick of catching her facial movements.

Meanwhile the nascent American career of her mentor, Mauritz Stiller, took a turn for the worse. His health deteriorated. He had gone Paramount and they did not renew his contract. His final effort “The Street of Sin,” with the great German star Emil Jannings was not a success. He would leave for Sweden, he returned to the theater there, had some short term successes, but was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, the leading killer of the day, and eventually succumbed to the disease at age 45. Garbo would never see him again.

The picture, “Love,” was a great success, the famed writer Frances Marion had changed the ending of the Tolstoy classic, and the audience was happy that after Karenina’s death, Anna was re-united with her child and her great love, Count Vronsky. The profit to MGM was enormous, over $500,000 and it was 50% greater than the very successful “Flesh and the Devil!”

During this period the “Jazz Singer,” with the dynamic Al Jolson, became an incredible success, but, not all the studios were ready to drop their making of silent films. Even the “Boy Genius,” the real brains at MGM, Irving Thalberg, was not sure that it wasn’t a fad. As said, “Who wants to hear actors talk?” Both Thalberg and Mayer believed that the role of the silent films was not finished. They added sound backgrounds to their new productions, and assumed, incorrectly that the new wind blowing in with talking movies would abate. Also, let us not forget that many of their “stars” were foreigners, who’s English was certainly not perfect, including their now greatest star Greta Garbo. She still had many problems with English and often spoke in a combination of English, Swedish and German. She never really learned proper English grammar.
In “The Kiss,” her last talking film in late 1929, she was starred alongside Conrad Nagel and the young Lew Ayers. Ayers, who would become a major star in “All Quiet on the Western Front,” was placed in “The Kiss,” with Garbo. They had never been even introduced. Later he would say, “I would study her face as she sat there… and no one could tell whether she was plotting a murder, dreaming of her native Sweden, or figuring up her income tax!” He thought she was a wonderful artist, who he found very warm, polite, gracious, lonely and distant women. Though the film was mediocre, she was lionized again by Robert Sherwood. He would write that “we have compared her to Duse, Cavallieri, Mrs. Sidon, Helen of Troy and Venus, and then ground our teeth because we hadn’t made it (the comparison) strong enough! He went on to say that that she was “the best actress in the world.”

As she gravitated to “talking” movies, unlike many of the other great stars who failed, like the Gish sisters, John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, Mary Pickford, her popularity continued to grow, Even the great Chaplin fell from favor. Others like Valentino, Gilbert, Wallace Reed, and Jeanne Eagles, were dead before the “Jazz Singer” exploded on the public, marking the foreshadowing of the death of the silent film era. She would make five more silent films, ending with “The Kiss” in 1929.

Historically, when one reads the original reviews of her films, and even many of the later retrospectives on her, most reviews were negative. Innately the problem in the 1920’s and 1930’s was that the scripts were quite poor. Even decent material was constantly cut up, shortened and significant roles were cut or changed.

After her first talking picture in 1930, based on Eugene O’Neill’s play, “Anna Christie,” (Garbo talks!) success followed success. She seemed to even out act her co-star the great Marie Dressler. The critic’s raved about her performance-as one critic wrote, “The voice that shook the world!” He went on to write, “its Greta Garbo’s, of course, and for the life of me I can’t decide whether it is a baritone or a bass. She makes it heard for the first time on the screen and there isn’t another like it.” In reality, “Anna Christie,” by Eugene O’Neill was not one of his best works and the original story was completely distorted, as were the characters. Most reviewers swooned over Garbo’s style and sensuality. As for the picture, later perspectives were much worse. Many of the supporting players were weak and their parts were almost meaningless. Both co-stars, Marie Dressler and Charles Bickford, who were quite talented in their own right, were basically under-utilized.

After “Anna Christie,” other hits enthralled her legion of fans. In the same way, in “Anna Karenina,” the role of her “jilted” husband, Karenina, played by Basil Rathbone (later of Sherlock Holms fame) was panned. He was way too wooden. In “Camille” where she excelled, everything went wrong. The script was flat, the sets were grotesque, but the direction by George Cukor (a woman’s director) had a light-handed touch which gave her the latitudes she needed. Even the critics disliked Lionel Barrymore, who they thought was under-whelming. As for her lover, Robert Taylor, he was described as a wax dummy in a store window. The picture was only 74 minutes old, but it was another sensational box office hit. Later, it was reshot in German for overseas distribution with eight minutes added and it was even more successful. Ironically the author of the play, Eugene O’Neill never saw the movie.

Garbo was quickly teamed up with Clark Gable in October of 1931, in “Susan Lenox, Her Fall and Rise.” Again many of the critics panned it, the censors didn’t like it, but the audiences loved the electricity of the rugged, new type of American male in the body of Clark Gable and Garbo. In a sense it was a typical MGM tear jerker, regarding a young girl’s being forced into a marriage by her father that she neither wanted, nor would give in to. Meeting Clark Gable, they have an affair, she finds someone else, and eventually tracks Gable down and they begin a new life together.

As for “Grand Hotel,” it had a fantastic cast, which included John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Berry, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt. The scenes with the Russian ballerina, played by the 26 year old Garbo and the 50 year old Barrymore, a German Baron, turned into jewel thief are priceless. Garbo is entranced by Barrymore. He gives her almost a desire to live and perform. Of course, unaware of his sudden death, she leaves the hotel with the hope that this new life with him with will be her renewal. By the way, rest of the cast were excellent. Originally, John Gilbert had been thought of in the role of the Baron. He had been in a number box office failures, turned to drink after his divorce from his quickie marriage to Ina Claire (who later would be Garbo’s love-interest rival in “Ninotchka.”) But, he was despised by Louis B. Mayor and his career was allowed to wither, as he self-destructed. The myth about his speaking voice being inadequate, was just a myth.

In 1932, her five year contract ended and she decided once again to visit her native Sweden. Despite threats by MGM, through Louis B. Mayer and Thalberg, she had never signed a contract extension. The media machine of Hollywood and its character assassins, Louella Parsons, Sidney Skolsky and others like Walter Winchell started their attacks on her. Why was she here? She should be deported because she has no job nor contract, therefore her visa should be revoked. She shouldn’t be allowed to take money out of the country and maybe these foreigners should all be deported who won’t become citizens.

Aside from this xenophobic clamor, the First National Bank of Beverly Hills collapsed and closed during the last crisis of the inept Hoover Administration. She had lost a considerable amount of money in the stock market crash of October 1929, but now most of her assets were in jeopardy, along with the bank accounts of many Hollywood luminaries. As she set sail on the SS Gripsholm, the question of her lifetime savings was in doubt. Eventually, she arrived in Goteborg, was treated like a conquering hero and started a long stay, despite the blustering of the MGM executives, who were starting to worry that they lost their greatest star and revenue producer. After a number of months, a new contract was offered, she was to do a film on the life of the controversial 17th Century Queen Christina of Sweden and her salary would rise to $400,000 per picture. She had to re-apply for a visa, undergo a physical, comply with other regulations under our strict immigration laws and in July of 1933 she headed back to San Francisco by a freighter, the SS Annie Johnson. It was a small ship, with few passengers, the crew treated her wonderfully on her five week trip across the Atlantic, which went through the Panama Canal and up to San Diego where she disembarked, as her luggage sailed on to San Francisco. As usual she wanted to avoid the “feeding” frenzy at the dock in San Frisco.

After an absence of a year, Garbo would finally make “Queen Christina.” It opened on December 26, 1933 at the Astor Theater in NYC. The only leading man that was available and who didn’t turn the part down, was John Gilbert. Others were asked, like Leslie Howard and Ronald Colman, who were great stars and established stage actors, but who feared their part in the picture opposite Garbo. John Gilbert, who announced his retirement in 1933 and was working at the Fox Studios, was worn out and frankly finished as a big draw or even as a star. Garbo insisted that he be casted as her lover. Garbo was top billed, and though the film was a critical success it did not revive Gilbert’s flagging career. Interestingly, Garbo had screen tests with the young Laurence Olivier and found him unsuited for the role. Gilbert was given another opportunity by Columbia Pictures, for which would be his final chance in “The Captain Hates the Sea.” He gave a capable performance, but he was an alcoholic and he would only get worse. He suffered a heart attack in December of 1935 and a few months later in early 1936 he suffered a second and fatal attack. He was only 38. It was like the end of “King Kong,” when it was said, “that beauty killed the beast.” Gilbert had four unsuccessful marriages, each lasting less than three years, but none of these attractive women filled the place in his heart and psyche as Greta Garbo. Did she love him? It is hard to tell, but she liked him and didn’t wish to be controlled by him, or it seems, any other man.

Aside from the huge monetary success of “Queen Christina,” the fictional story of the Swedish Queen horrified Garbo. She thought that her country would be deeply offended when they saw the film. She said, “I often wake up and think with horror about the film coming to Sweden.” But, ironically it was a great success in her home country. The film goers there suspend reality like they did in the states.

Another factor appeared in Hollywood in 1934, with the rise of the power of the Production Code, chaired by an ultra-conservative, Joseph Breen. He became the arbiter of moral rectitude and along with the Catholic Church’s objection to the subject content in many films, he became the Lord High Censor. Aside from these factors, which cast a pall over any idea of realism, no less creativity, Garbo’s films in the South, the Bible Belt and in small Midwestern towns had been falling in revenue for years. They were too sophisticated and challenging to the narrow views of both the Baptists (Evangelicals of that day) and the male-dominated culture.

It would be another year, before her next film, “The Painted Veil,” would be released. There would be only four more films: the remake of Tolstoy’s “Anne Karenina,” with Fredric March, “Camille,” with Robert Taylor, “Conquest,” with Charles Boyer, “Ninotchka,” with Melvyn Douglas and the last film, “Two-Faced Woman,” again with Melvyn Douglas. According to the critics, she was luminous in “Anna Karenina” and “Camille” and the films were great successes. In “Conquest,” as Napoleon’s mistress Countess Marie Waleska, she seemed tired and the film never really resonated with her public. It incurred a great loss at the box office. The censors forced it to be cut to pieces.

With respect to both “The Painted Veil” and “Conquest”: the studio heads at MGM had to struggle with Breen who seemed to answer to no one else. Even if stories were classics that had been accepted by the public for generations, it was up to Joseph Breen what people could see. Any clue that Marie Waleska was actually Napoleon’s mistress and had his child seem to be too harsh for American sensitivities.

As for “Camille,” based on the character of the French courtesan, Marguerite Gaurtier from an 1848 novel, “La Dame aux Camelias,” by Alexander Dumas, it faced many challenges from the Breen office. Many great actresses, from Sarah Benrhardt to Eleanore Duse, Eva Le Gallienne, Alla Nazimova and then Garbo had played her since the novel was turned into a play in 1852. Her story had even been turned into the classic opera, “La Traviata,” by Giuseppe Verdi.

So, after many personal successes, despite inadequate scripts, poor casting and often wooden performances by her co-stars, her career, in her 2nd to last film, would actually reach its summit. With “Ninotchka.” The script was great, there were no shipwrecks, ambiguities, or any sustained passage of vulgarity. The film was funny and promoted with the phrase, “Garbo laughs!” The film was witty, polished and civilized. Ironically, in the film, none of the names were actually Russian. It was pure fantasy, but it clicked then and today. It was pure satire, making fun of everything from Stalin’s Russia to the expatriate communities in the Paris fantasy world. Eventually, her last film with MGM, was part of a two picture contract with Melvyn Douglas. The film, “Two Faced Woman,” was a failure. The studio attempted to make Garbo into an all- American girl and it went nowhere. Even she knew it was a disaster, as did the critics of that day and today! Part of the problem was again with Louis B. Mayer, an arch Republican, who disliked her co-star Melvyn Douglas, an outspoken Democrat, liberal and opponent of fascism. MGM never took on the Nazis or fascism like most of the other studios, aside from Warner Brothers. He actually tried to bribe him into silence by promising better parts for his wife, Helen Gahagan, (She was a bright gal from New York, who attended the Berkeley-Carroll School and Barnard College. She was an actress and opera singer, a political activist, was elected to Congress, served from 1944-51, and was defeated by Richard Nixon in 1950, for the Senate in California.)

The film was basically a silly comedy and there were some parts that Joseph Breen, the blue-nose, head of the Production Code objected to, but, it was cleared. That wasn’t the end of its problems. Then Archbishop Francis Spellman, head of the NY Catholic Diocese started a one-man crusade to bar the film. The Catholic Legion of Decency condemned the film and it was downhill from there onward. It was actually banned in some NE cities and eventually MGM pulled it from the theaters and re-shot some of the scenes. Eventually it was cleared by the Legion of Decency. Again, this was a foreshadowing of what was to become, regarding the mood of the country. In Hollywood’s eagerness to remove all the traces of European decadence, it became Garbo’s undoing.

Thus, the most outstanding of her films of the post silent era were, “Mata Hari,” “Camille,” “Anna Karenina,” “Grand Hotel,” “Conquest,” “Queen Christina,” “As You Desire Me,” and finally “Ninotchka.”Though no one really knew it at the time, even Garbo, her career was over in 1941. The pre-WWII Hollywood was changing and changing fast. Many stars were involved in war work. A number were drafted or volunteered to serve. Even the writers, the directors and the some of the big-time executives followed the call to duty. The theme of the movies changed to patriotism, the home front, and action.

Garbo felt there was no audience for her style of film or the roles she played. She was probably quite correct. She never was really part of the Hollywood scene, the gossip, the publicity, the lack of privacy or even the active foreign colony of stars. Basically, she despised the inner workings of Hollywood and never was really part of the machinery of the industry. Garbo even asked her salary to be cut in half regarding the war effort. There was even one report that LB Mayer gave her a check for either $80,000 or $200,000 (depending on the source) and she handed it back, saying she didn’t earn it. Basically, she was well-off enough to say goodbye.

It is said about her that she came along after the chaos of WWI and the she vanished from the silver screen forever in the early months of WWII. She came into a world that had been made for her, that was wanting of another hero or goddess to appear with all the tools at her command: power, majesty, and splendor. In the audience’s eyes all those things were beyond the range of human aspiration. She could enslave men with a smile or destroy with a glance. Women were not jealous of her, because she was much more beautiful than they would dare to be; men did not desire her, because she was clearly beyond the reach of human desire, even though on the screen she went through the motions of love-making.
On the screen, her early wannabe lovers from Gilbert, to Conrad Nagle, Lars Hanson, and John Mack Brown seemed ridiculous, as every man thought he could do better With this in mind, she became the star above all stars, a transcendental figure. As the war interrupted life all over the planet, it obviously changed hers. Her ability to travel back and forth to the continent ended. She eventually moved from her small, utilitarian home in Hollywood to New York. She was offered many roles during the war, but either she wasn’t interested or the financing collapsed. In a sense, she was neither eager for work, nor disappointed that the right property didn’t appear. She was not in need of money, and every door was opened to her. After the war, she was offered and rejected the role of Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard.” It was filled, very successfully by Gloria Swanson, who in actuality, was a faded star of the silent film era. Her butler was played by another silent film standout, the actor Erich von Stroheim, who was a leading director in that earlier period. Of course, like all things in Hollywood, nothing is often what it seems. Von Stroheim was not a Junker, which was a member of the landed nobility in Germany (Prussia), signified by the “von.” He was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in Austria, the son of middle class observant Jews. The production of the 1950 hit, “Sunset Boulevard,” was ironically the “swan song” of both of those veterans of the silent era.

During the war, she like others helped with the war effort. It was rumored that she helped facilitate the rescue of the Danish Jews to Sweden. But, stateside, she was accused by some of not being patriotic enough. She was one of three major stars, including Chaplin and Cagney, who failed to show up at the Hollywood Canteen, where men and women in uniform were entertained by the people from the movie industry. As for Cagney, he was a very private person, not unlike Garbo, and his reasons for not showing up are not generally known. With Chaplin, I have no idea, but he became such a politically, controversial person that he may have felt that his notoriety would upstage the effort. Obviously, an appearance by Garbo would have had the same riotous effect. Some right-wing, nativists even called for her to be deported if she didn’t approve of our country.

In 1946, Billy Wilder said, I don’t think that she’ll make another picture!” He added, “She’s is frightened of pictures as she is of personal appearances and everything that brings her in contact with people.” Let us never forget that her experiences with the curious, the fanatics, and the public in general, was scary and threatening. Many times out in the public she had her clothes ripped at, buttons torn off as she was often threatened by the over-zealous. Her time with people was never pleasant, almost always exploited and often dangerous.

After the war, and when normal traveling became available, she sailed back to Sweden on the SS Gripsholm and was welcomed like a returning hero. The trip was a mixed blessing with the seeing old friends and her family, along with having to deal with a public that was as bad as the worst public spectacles in America. Everyone wanted a piece of her. Her safety and sanity was constantly compromised.

In the frenetic days after the war, she became probably the first Jet-setter, before even jets. But by 1947, Hollywood’s “witching hour” had arrived with the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Their noxious efforts started first with their interview with a group called the Motion Picture Alliance, composed of people like John Wayne, Adolph Menjou, Hedda Hopper, Gary Cooper, Ward Bond and Walt Disney. They became the Committee’s first “friendly witnesses.” Many of them did not like the preponderance of Jews in Hollywood, especially those in the Screen Writers Guild and others who were fierce anti-Communists. Menjou and Disney had strong reputations of being anti-Semitic. Many friends of Garbo’s were attacked, threatened and blacklisted. It seemed that anyone who was a Democrat according to Menjou and some of the others, were socialists or communists. Even Ronald Reagan, the President of the Screen Actors Guild, was rumored to be a secret FBI informer (R-10). It wasn’t an easy time for the pre-war liberals, the people that advocated a second-front or the foreign community of Hollywood, especially people like Garbo, who didn’t go along with the studio line. In truth, Garbo was hardly political, but when she heard FDR’s speech regarding Italy’s Declaration of War against France, “on this tenth of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor,” she openly cried. No one had ever witnessed this reaction by her before. In the years after the war, a few interesting projects came her way, but again they had no real appeal for her. There was talk of her playing Saint Joan, from George Bernard Shaw’s play. But many thought she was too old. These ideas just seemed to be gambits created from wishful thinking. She changed apartments in NYC a few times, had a well-publicized affair with the famous conductor Leopold Stokowski, driving his second wife to the divorce courts. There was a possible romance with the author, of “All Quiet of the Western Front,” Erich Maria Remarque. She was helped financially, spiritually and health wise by the famous German-born, nutritionist and self-help author, Gayelord Hauser. They were close and friendly until the end of his life. She was definitely linked to the Russian-born financier, theater producer and millionaire George Schlee and his wife the Russian fashion designer and icon, Valentina. It was assumed that this interesting arrangement was some sort of ménage a trois. Nothing could be further from the truth. He served as her companion, he traveled with her and became her very trusted advisor for 20 years. As for his wife Valentina, she strongly indicated, after her husband’s death in 1964, that she despised Garbo. They actually lived in the same building, on different floors and after her husband’s death she had everything destroyed in their apartment that was related to Garbo. She supposedly brought in a priest to exorcize her apartment. She arranged with the building to never be in the same elevator with Garbo.

In the immediate years after the war she kept busy. In 1948, “Ninotchka” was re-released over the objections of the Soviet Union and it was very popular, especially, in Europe. She went to the theater with Tennessee Williams to see “Streetcar Named Desire,” and he tried to interest her in a project that was on his mind. Leland Hayward took her to see, “Mr. Roberts,” and the British producer Alexander Korda tried to interest her in Jean Cocteau’s “The Eagle has Two Heads!” Nothing seem to move her in any direction.

The closest she came to returning to the film was a project suggested by the producer Walter Wanger. She seemed interested the “Duchesse de Langeais,” or with its Americanized name, “The Lover and Friend.” Screen tests were started, but the cameraman died of a heart attack. The famous James Wong Howe was brought in and she seemed quite content and serious about the project. Unfortunately, the complex financial arrangements never worked out. American banks would not arrange the funding until the Italian financiers made a commitment. They thought the same. Howard Hughes refused to put up the whole $500,000 and her potential co-star James Mason was unhappy with his guarantees. Even the distribution rights were never finalized. In other words, Garbo was paid for her two horrible weeks in Rome, fighting off the paparazzi and that was the last time anything developed. Basically, she didn’t want to go through the effort and bother.

As for her social life, Garbo also had a rumored affair and a long-time association with the famous photographer and set and costume designer Cecil Beaton, who was bi-sexual, known early on as an anti-Semite, and later became famous for his work on “Gigi” and “My Fair Lady.” I am sure that Garbo, who had many Jewish friends, from her mentor Mauritz Stiller, to her Swedish confidante, Mimi Pollak and Salta Viertal, an Austrian-American actress screen writer and political activist, knew nothing of Beaton’s past. He wanted to marry her, and she wanted no part of marriage. In a sense, she laughed at him, but their on and off again friendship lasted for many years. In the early biographies of Garbo, he is hardly mentioned. But, when his massive letters to her, along with her responses, were posthumously published by Hugo Vickers, who handled his literary estate, his long-term infatuation with her was revealed. Many have wondered, in the years after his biographical letters were published in his memoirs, whether what he said was true. Most of the people who knew him well could not believe that he could have had any intimacy with her, no less anyone else. In fact, the specter of it was laughable to many!

She, for sure, didn’t write him off, and they often met, but his nemesis was George Schlee, who was always around her as a buffer, an adviser, and her guardian. All the men in her life, from Stiller to Gilbert, Beaton, Hauser, Schlee and others were smitten by her. Even though her co-stars were intimidated by her, startled by her demand for privacy and her formality, they respected her professionalism and her kindness. In fact, few, if any, had anything, but the highest praise. She had a unique and unequalled allure, even among the most beautiful women in the artistic world that was unique. The question was, who could not be charmed by this remarkable creature?

As for the women in her life, there were many. She was said to have liaisons with the actress Louise Brooks, Lilyan Tashman and even Marie Dressler. She had a great friend in Mimi Pollack, from her days in Sweden, and it was said, a long, on and off, friendship and possibly an affair with the poet, writer and social butterfly, Mercedes de Acosta, who was introduced to Garbo by her very close friend Salka Viertel in 1931. She had 181 letters from Garbo, but only a portion of them were permitted to be revealed by the Garbo estate, and none, it was said, reflected any romantic content.

De Acosta was also in a long-term arrangement with the dancer Isadora Duncan, along with later arrangements with Alla Nazimova, Eve la Gallienne and Marlene Dietrich. Garbo’s friendship, after the publishing of de Acosta’s book, “Here Lies the Heart,” soured dramatically. But, Cecil Beaton believed that de Acosta was a true friend and devoted to her. Again, Mercedes de Acosta was a strange, demanding and insatiable character. She was certainly smitten by Garbo, her stories of meeting her, or being in the same city with her have been questioned for accuracy. In fact, either these assertions were a matter of confusion or fabrication. She may have been the ultimate groupie or camp follower. Reflective of many accounts, Garbo was often dodging her when she was with others. Garbo’s celebrity was unprecedented for her time or almost any time after. What was real celebrity before the movies? Who knew what anyone looked like? Even some of the stars of the Silent Era were never insanely recognizable. Most of the luminaries of that era were in their own world, their own social colonies and believed in their own press clippings. Many of the foreign stars were divided into three groups. The British, who were mostly well-trained, stage actors, very confident in themselves and obviously well-versed in their own language. In a sense they were almost like distant cousins to most Americans. The second group were refugees, often intellectuals and artists who could never return home to the discrimination, the politics or war. Their earlier lives were gone, often forever. The last group were people like Great Garbo. They were neither refugees, nor were they fluent in the language. They were “discoveries” who were hired until they were no longer useful. They had no special skills, especially those from the Silent Era. The ones who remained rarely became stars, but wound up being bit players, character actors, or just pieces to be moved around. Many foreign stars, as soon as their contracts expired and were not renewed, moved back to their native countries before and after the WWII.

In reality, Garbo was easily bored, never really well read, and was hardly, if at all, interested in Hollywood after she left, or the movies in general. In fact, she knew virtually nothing about Hollywood’s post-war directors. She liked to take long walks, with friends like Cecile de Rothschild, was never inhibited about her body, often swam in the nude, and loved taking long walks on the beach. She did like California, but craved the isolation and anonymity she could only experience in New York. In a sense, she could get lost in the crowd. Rarely did anyone in NYC bother her on the street. She shopped like any normal person, she had her friends and intimates. She liked to collect antiques, and eventually displayed them in her apartment.

She traveled constantly from NYC, to London, Venice and Cannes. Yes, she was around people who were her idolaters. In a sense, she was a combination of Queen Christina, the dancer in Grand Hotel and the tragic Anna Karenina. With the advice and counsel of Gayelord Hauser, she invested in real estate in California and divested herself of property in Sweden. This proved quite fruitful and her economic independence was made quite secure.

In her later years, she outlived all her intimates, remained alone and continued to pick and choose who she wished to see. She was successfully treated for breast cancer and was receiving dialysis in the last years of her life. She had always been affected by gastro-intestinal illnesses, which many speculated had come from dieting. In the 20th Century, no one achieved her fame, notoriety and interest for a longer period of time. From her first film in 1926 until her dying day, people, all over the world were interested in her, what she did and where she went. In the age before film, no one was really recognizable. Almost anyone monarch could almost walk the streets in anonymity. As the movies brought remarkable notoriety and identification to all who were featured, Garbo’s face and fame transcended everyone. Even the greatest stars came and went. In our time, Marilyn Monroe’s fame lasted about 10 years. Who really cared about Liz Taylor and Richard Burton for more than a few years? Certainly Fred Astaire was famous for decades, but who cared where he went, who he ate dinner with or who he slept with? Hardly anyone! Garbo’s film career was relatively short, 28 films, squeezed into 19 years. Most of the films were hardly great, and for sure, without her they would be long forgotten.

Her estate was well handled by George Schlee and others. After her death, she left about $32 million in market securities and art to her niece.

The Golden Age of Hollywood, What and Who Will be Remembered! Richard J. Garfunkel May 14, 2020

From 1920 through 1940 was probably considered Hollywood’s Golden Age. In the early part of this era, Hollywood had come of age with the change from dominance of the Director, to that of the Star. The early films were dominated by directors from DW Griffith to stage directors from the theater to foreigners, like Erich von Stroheim (in actuality, his name was Erich Oswald Stroheim, and he was Jewish and not a Junker), who’s masterpiece was Greed and others as Joseph von Sternberg to the great comic directors Max Sennett and Charlie Chaplin.

The Hollywood Moguls, who ran the major studios: MGM, Paramount, Columbia, and Warner Brothers, went through a consolidation period and by the mid to late 20’s their ownership was securely in place. People like Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, Adolph Zuckor, and Harry Cohn, became household names. Other competitors would come into the business like United Artists, as stars Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, the lighting personnel and all the others. Of course, beyond Chaplin, Pickford and Fairbanks there was the concerted effort to import Europeans to Hollywood, The greatest of those, Charlie Chaplin, along with film producer and director, DW Griffith decided to make their own movies. Smaller firms would eventually emerge like RKO, Universal, International along with independent producers; the most notable being Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer’s son in law, David O. Selznick of Gone With the Wind fame. Eventually the last big player to emerge was 20th Century-Fox.

Thus, the Golden Age went from the dominance of the Director to the rise of the Hollywood Star. The studios decided to make stars of actors, sign them to long-term contracts and use them as they wished. In this way, they had much greater control of their industry. The Director became a hired hand, just like the writers, and all the other components of making films, from the camera operators, to the film editors, was Rudolf Valentino, and others like Vilma Banky, and Ramon Navarro. In the same vein, other American stars of that era were Buster Keaton, John Barrymore, Lon Chaney, and Lilian Gish. Eventually, one star would preempt and eclipse all the others, foreign and native born, Greta Garbo. She would be a major star in both eras of the Golden Age.

As the Silent Era basically ended in 1927 with The Jazz Singer, and its dynamic star Al Jolson. The Sound Era, of Talking Pictures would kill off almost all the great stars of the silent era, including the Gish sisters, Mary Pickford, Fairbanks, Navarro (Valentino had died in 1926 at age 31), John Gilbert, Lon Chaney and many, many others, who were unable to have the proper speaking voice, unable to read lines, or had heavy foreign accents. The ones who remained were mostly stage actors, with great voices like Ronald Colman, John Barrymore, Leslie Howard, and others who were able to speak well and deliver their lines, like Claudette Colbert, Myrna Loy, Mary Astor, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Carol Lombard, William Powell, and Boris Karloff.

Thus, the Golden Era of twenty years could be divided into two distinct eras; 1920 to 1929 and 1930 to 1940, when WWII started to change the whole dynamic of Hollywood. In the latter era scores of Jewish and other European refugees flocked to both America and Hollywood.

The beginning of the New Age and thus the eventual decline of Hollywood and the studio system would probably have begun with Casablanca which featured mostly foreign actors, aside from the main star, Humphrey Bogart, which included; Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sidney Greenstreet, Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and European refugees: most notably, Madeleine Lebeau, Leonid Kinsley, Curt Bois, SZ Sakall, Marcel Dalio, Ludwig Stossel, Wolfgang Zilzer and their Director, Michael Curtiz ( a Hungarian Jew, born Mano Kaminer).

Historically, the most profitable era of Hollywood’s Golden Age expanded exponentially as the talking movies emerged in the period from 1928 through 1930. The Hollywood studios also began to build and buy up the existing inventory of movie theaters. This allowed hundreds, if not thousands, of “in-house” outlets for immediate distribution of films. But, in the postwar era that would change dramatically. Eventually United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.,(1948) (also known as the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948,) a landmark United States Supreme Court antitrust case decided the fate of film studios owning their own theatres and holding exclusivity rights on which theatres would show their movies. It would also change the way Hollywood movies were produced, distributed, and exhibited. The Supreme Court affirmed (a District Court’s ruling) in this case that the existing distribution scheme was in violation of the United States antitrust law, which prohibit certain exclusive dealing arrangements. In plain language, the studios were force to sell the theaters.

The case is important both in U.S. antitrust law and film history. In the former, it remains a landmark decision in vertical integration cases; in the latter, it is responsible for putting an end to the old Hollywood studio system. Another earlier ruling, emerged from the contractual system used universally in Hollywood. Industry lawyers in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s took the position that an exclusive personal services contract should be treated as suspended during the periods when the artist was not actually working. Since no artist could be working every single day (that is, including holidays and weekends), this interpretation meant that two, or later seven, years of actual service would be spread over a much longer calendar period, thus extending the time during which the studio system had complete control of a young artist’s career.

In response, actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit on August 23, 1943 against Warner Bros. which was backed by the Screen Actors Guild. The lawsuit resulted in a landmark decision of the California Court of Appeal for the Second District in De Havilland’s favor on December 8, 1944. In a unanimous opinion signed by Justice Clement Lawrence Shinn, the three-justice panel adopted the common sense view that seven years from the commencement of service means seven calendar years. Since De Havilland had started performance under her Warner annual contract on May 5, 1936 (which had been renewed six times pursuant to its terms since then), and seven calendar years had elapsed from that date, the contract was no longer enforceable and she was free to seek projects with other studios.

Another earlier case served to erode the almighty power of the studios. Bette Davis, a major star under contract to Warner Brothers, was unhappy with the type of pictures she was forced to make by the studio. She also felt that to advance in her career meant being offered good scripts with talented directors. However, in the studio era of Hollywood, actors had very little control about what films they were offered. In 1936, she left in protest and went to England on a two film deal. The studio, however, procured an injunction against her for having left the States to do films in England. She fought back by taking them to court. Unfortunately, she lost the battle — yet, all the more remarkably, rather than being blackballed by the studio, from then on she started getting the kind of parts she felt she deserved. The power of the studios wasn’t broken, but the ability of major stars to balk at what they were assigned, go into voluntary retirement, for a time, or create adverse headlines, started the erosion of studio power.

As this Golden Age continues to fade into the past, movies made before WWII are now over 80 years old. The original audiences for those films are mostly gone, and the generation of their children is aging quickly. Most of the Baby Boomers who were born right after WWII and grew up with those movies and the star system, are in their 70s. Their grandchildren will be mature almost 100 years after the start of WWII. With that in mind, will this generation care about these movies?

What then will be the memorable films that this new generation watches? Will they ignore almost all the black and white films? Will they reject the films that showed American Blacks, Italians and other ethnics in deprecating roles? What will their feelings be about the films which ignored the reality of the rise of fascism in Europe? Almost all the studios ignored the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany and the abuse of their Jewish population, except Warner Brothers. Even the mere mention of Jews being victims in Germany were removed from films like, Mr Skeffington. Great films like, Gone With the Wind along with others about the antebellum era like, Jezebel, The Little Foxes, The Little Rebel, Young Abe Lincoln, Showboat seem to have denigrated the incredible abuse and brutality of slavery. In fact, it basically ignored one of the greatest crimes in history. Almost all the roles in Hollywood offered to Black Americans were in subservient roles, as: maids, servants, street cleaners, porters, etc. In truth, those were the jobs that most Blacks were allowed to have. They weren’t the only groups who were stereotyped.

Of course, there were many great films in that era, which culminated in their most memorable year, 1939, with pictures like the afore mentioned Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dark Victory, Gunga Din, Ninotchka, and Goodbye Mr. Chips. Many of these same films are still quite enjoyable, certainly well made, and to a degree, relevant. As for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, it was an enjoyable film that was hardly realistic, but it certainly sent a message. Let us not forget that in 1938, and other years there were some wonderful films, but are they really relevant to audiences 80 to100 years distant, in the 21st Century? Are they mostly a stylized, unrealistic, and romantic view of life in America, which distorted the world as it really existed? As WWII changed the reality of thinking around the world, one very stark, and realistic Hollywood film, The Grapes of Wrath, released in in 1940, comes to mind. No other film of that period so graphically illustrated the desperation of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that devastated Oklahoma and the heartland of America.

There have been countless books on that era and the major films from the beginning of the modern era of movies until our entry into WWII. Of course, not long after this Era started to wane, two films came forward that are widely accepted as the best of the best, Citizen Kane (1941) and Casablanca (1942). Both films were quite different from each other. One, Citizen Kane, came from a complete upstart and newcomer to Hollywood, the Boy Genius, Orson Welles. The other, Casablanca, was a pure creature of the studio system from Warner Brothers. No two films of that Era could be so completely different. As for Casablanca, it was dominated by stars with a remarkable cast, bolstered by scores of European refugees. It created a character in Humphrey Bogart, which had been evolving from the Maltese Falcon and High Sierra, both released in 1941. He became the prototype of an anti-hero, the cynical, tough, vulnerable, world-weary, character whose honesty and personal motives were ones to be questioned. After Casablanca, and with over twenty years’ experience as an actor, he would become, at age forty-three, the most enduring star of the postwar era and the 2nd half of the 20th Century. As for the Citizen Kane, its creator and major star, Orson Welles, at age 25, was truly a wunderkind. But, no matter how interesting and brilliant he was, he would never reach that same level of artistic and dramatic achievement and notoriety. By the way, Citizen Kane was made outside the major studios on the lots of RKO Pictures.

As for the stars of the 2nd half of the Golden Era, the ones who come to mind, who I think will be remembered are; Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Fred Astaire. There are some other marvelous stars, which include, Paul Muni, Frederic March, Ronald Colman, Leslie Howard, Gary Cooper, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, William Powell, Carol Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Gary Grant, Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Olivia De Havilland, Joan Crawford, and John Barrymore. Interestingly, a star of the later 1940s and the 1950’s, Gene Kelly, has stated, that in the future, only Fred Astaire will be remembered. He may have a point.

TE Lawrence; the Man, the Myth and the Ongoing Mystery April 1, 2022 Richard J. Garfunkel

In the immediate years after WWI the exploits of TE Lawrence or “Lawrence of Arabia” brought incredible fame to this most interesting, complex and troubled individual. Even the British public knew nothing of him during the war. His fame grew tremendously after the publishing of his exploits in the American press by Lowell Thomas, a journalist and newspaper man who, with his cameraman, took many films during parts of the Desert War. He led and organized the British effort (almost alone) and their Arab allies against the Turkish Empire. His story was enhanced by his autobiographical book, the remarkable “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.”

“The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” tells of his experiences during the Arab Revolt of 1916–1918, during the days when Lawrence was based in Wadi Rum in modern day Jordan as a member of the British Forces of North Africa. With the support of Emir Feisal and his tribesmen, he helped organize and carry out attacks on the Ottoman forces from Aqaba in the south to Damascus in the north. Many sites inside the Wadi Rum area have been named after Lawrence to attract tourists, although there is little or no evidence connecting him to any of these places, including the rock formations near the entrance now known as “The Seven Pillars”.

Speculation surrounds the book’s dedication, a poem written by Lawrence and edited by Robert Graves, concerning whether it is to an individual or to the whole Arab people. It begins, “To S.A.”, possibly meaning Selim Ahmed, a young Arab boy from Syria of whom Lawrence was very fond. Ahmed died, probably from typhus, aged 19, a few weeks before the offensive to liberate Damascus. Lawrence received the news of his death some days before he entered Damascus

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands, and wrote my will across the sky in stars.
To earn you freedom, the seven Pillared worthy house that your eyes might be shining for me, when I came.

 Death seemed my servant on the road, ’til we were near, and saw you waiting: when you smiled and in sorrowful, envy he outran me, and took you apart: Into his quietness.

 Love, the way-weary, groped to your body, our brief wage, ours for the moment. Before Earth’s soft hand explored your shape, and the blind, worms grew fat upon, your substance

 Men prayed me that I set our work, the inviolate house, as a memory of you, but for fit monument I shattered it, unfinished: and now, the little things creep out to patch themselves hovels, in the marred shadow of your gift.

 The original book was written a few times, it was first completed in 1922 and first published in 1926. Winston Churchill was quoted in an advertisement for the 1935 edition, saying: “it ranks with the greatest books written in the English language. As a narrative of war and adventure, it is unsurpassable.”

Along with the fame of the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the 1962 film, “Lawrence of Arabia,” is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. In 1991, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 1998, the American Film Institute placed it fifth on their 100 Years…100 Movies list of the greatest American films. It ranked seventh on their 2007 updated list. In 1999, the British Film Institute named the film the third-greatest British film of all time. In 2004, it was voted the best British film of all time in a Sunday Telegraph poll of Britain’s leading filmmakers.

The film cost was estimated at $15 million, it was nominated for ten Academy Awards and it received seven Oscars. Historically it is inaccurate and very incomplete, but like Lowell Thomas’s productions, that reality did little to devalue its marketability and entertainment value.

With that in mind, many think that the book, which the film is somewhat based on, is more like novelized history, and the film is certainly more fiction than fact. It covers two years of the life of TE Lawrence. Only three of the characters depicted are real (Lawrence, General Allenby and Sheik Auda) and for sure, no one knows why Lawrence is in Cairo in the beginning of the war. In fact, no one knows why he is uniform, nor where his great influence comes from, and who he really is. In fact, who really is TE Lawrence, what were his real aims, what does he believe and was he really a hero to the Arabs, an agent for the British imperialist government, or a man attempting to find himself? No one really knows his real interests, his sexuality, who are his friends and why he is so powerful and influential.

The real life and legacy of Thomas Eliot Lawrence or TE Lawrence or as he was known by history, as Lawrence of Arabia, is shrouded by clouded history, controversy, lies, lost records, suppressed state secrets and fantasy.  This most secretive and mysterious of men was one of the most famous of the first 3rd of the 20th Century and even the cause of his death, due to injuries on a motorcycle in May of 1935, is questionable. Mystery surrounds him from his emergence in college, from a background even he doesn’t really know.

He was the illegitimate second son of Thomas Chapman and Anglo-Irish squire and heir to a Barony, who left his wife and four daughters, abandoning much of his wealth and position to run away with a household nursemaid named Miss Sarah Lawrence. Even her last name is not really known and it could have been Junner or Maden and she could have been illegitimate herself. Chapman changed his name to hers and fathered five sons. His second son, Thomas Eliot, known as Ned, never knew that his father never re-married until he was in his teens. It certainly must have come of a shock to young Ned, in this post-Victorian Age, to learn that his parents weren’t married and that Lawrence wasn’t his father’s name, nor even his mother’s.

As for his father Thomas Chapman, he was descended from an old English family whose ancestors were cousins of Sir Walter Raleigh. As for his wife, Edith, she was called a “Holy Viper” who was an insanely religious shrew who made the gentile Chapman’s life miserable. She was so fanatical in her evangelicalism that she considered any form of amusement a sin, prayed three times per day, and never spoke without her conversation dominated by biblical quotations. She was an insanely strict parent, treated her daughters brutally and eventually made life so miserable for her husband. Thus, Thomas Chapman just ran away.

TE Lawrence grew up in Wales where his parents took on their new lives. Because of his birth in August of 1888, and even though he only lived a year in Wales, before his parents moved to Kirkcudbright Scotland, to continue to hide their identities, he was later able to accept a scholarship to Oxford reserved for qualified students born in Wales.

An early biography of Lawrence, written in 1924, by the famed American writer and journalist Lowell Thomas (1892-1981-in the movie, his character is the fictional Jeremy Bentley, played by Arthur Kennedy) tells little of his early life, because Lawrence was so secretive. It is said that with Lowell Thomas, Lawrence treated reality and the truth selectively. Later biographers, the famed Robert Graves (1895-1985, the author of “I Claudius”) and Sir Basil Liddle Hart (1895-1970, the renowned military theorist, expert and historian) were not created as cavalierly by Lawrence.

Over the years with the addition of other children, the Lawrence family moved quite a bit, including a long stay in Normandy, which TE Lawrence really considered his home. He and his brothers all attended the Oxford High School, and Ned, as he was known to his family, and earned a (Welsh) scholarship to Jesus College at Oxford. Ironically he loved Normandy, but despised the French.

TE Lawrence’s mother was also highly religious and an adherent of Calvinistic Protestantism. Though she dearly loved her sons and lived vicariously through their exploits, she could be insanely strict, meted out corporal punishment, and seemed to “beat herself up” over her matrimonial sin. This legacy of religious dogma seemed to affect his ideas of personal discipline, of which he exercised throughout his youth. He would go for days without eating or even sleeping. His mother saw this self-imposed regimen as a foreshadowing of his divine mission in his life.

Before entering Oxford, he would forgo an early interest in math to focus on history. In the summers before Oxford, he would spend countless days on bicycle trips to old castles and burial sites in Scotland, Wales and France. At times, some of these ventures would be with friends or alone. He was seriously interested in ancient artifacts and grave stone rubbings.

At Oxford, his great interest had morphed into the world of the Crusades, regarding knights, castle battles, legends, and chivalry. He decided, in the summer of 1908, to make the castles of the Crusaders the subject of his senior thesis, which was a new option regarding his final Oxford exam. He went on a three month cycling tour of France, He went alone with a camera and the trip covered over 2000 miles. At Oxford, he started to be groomed by David George Hogarth, (1862-1927) an author, archeologist, orientalist, (later a naval officer and intelligence officer during WWI) and then the keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. This influence of Lawrence was fostered by a recurrent British philosophy of Empire sustained a modern day “Round Table.” This association was described by Leonard Curtis in his strange periodical “Round Table,” combined with a study group, which played a role in British imperial affairs, has never been adequately analyzed or described. Many of these advocates were racists, xenophobes and Francophiles. Their main objective, reflective of Lord Alfred Milner’s (Viscount Milner, 1854-1925, colonial administrator) teachings were “Federation and Imperialism,” a basic union of all the white people in the Empire.

Lawrence was to be a new recruit to what was called “The Great Game,” (spying, as made most famous by Sidney Reilly (1873-1925?), called the Ace of Spies, who was born as Salomon Rosenblum in Russia. Reilly, almost a “Soldier of Fortune,” was finally commissioned by MI6 Head Mansfield Smith-Cummings (1859-1923) in 1918, (He was the prototype for Ian Fleming’s James Bond) Lawrence became a very willing disciple of David Hogarth’s intrigue and interests.

As for Lawrence, his military education didn’t start with the teachings of Carl von Clausewitz,     (Prussian general and military theorist, 1780-1831) but went back to Napoleon, all his campaigns, all the information on his tactics, and the writings about how they succeeded. He worked his way back to the tactics of Proscopius a Byzantine military thinker, (circa 560 CE) who advocated indirect means for avoiding pitched battles and described the hit and run tactics that broke the morale of the Gothic lancers and archers. This research by Lawrence seems to be the beginning of his potential career as an intelligence agent. This research not only sharpened his mind, but his hikes and long, lonely bicycle trips also tested his body with physical deprivation.

In 1909, he felt that he had to travel to Syria (which was still controlled by the fading Ottoman-Turkish Empire) to see the ancient ruins of the Crusader castles and battlements that had been built there. To travel there safely he needed and sought what was termed “Iradehs,” or safe conduct passes. The first part of his journey was to Palestine was where he didn’t need any special type of papers. He also carried with him a very powerful Mauser pistol, nicknamed the broom handle, a forerunner of what would be a submachine gun. He hired a Christian-Arab guide as he headed north to the Sea of Galilee. As he was amazed at the contrast of the wild unbroken vast tracts of dessert, he said “the sooner the Jews farm the land, the better!”

When he finally arrived in Beirut, these “papers” had never reached the British Consulate. He had taken some rudimentary lessons in Arabic before he left, so he could basically communicate regarding the bare necessities. Eventually, he did receive a less authoritative letter of safe conduct. The trip, which was reported in various accounts, involved a few violent attacks by robbers and brigands which threatened his life. Many of these incidents were reported differently and some contained critical inconsistencies. But with all his adventures, he returned in mid-October for his final year at Oxford.

As Germany, France and Russia began to take advantage of the decline of the Turkish/Ottoman Empire, Britain started to take sharp notice of both the vulnerability of the Suez Canal to potential, alien forces in Syria and Mesopotamia, along with the discovery of oil. As the power of the Ottomans started to wane, France seized Algeria in 1830 and Tunisia in 1881, Britain occupied Egypt in 1882 and then the Sudan, Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy seized Libya and whatever Balkan provinces that they had left broke away. For nearly 400 years the Ottoman Empire’s dominion of the Arab World had extended without a break from Algeria to the Persian Gulf and from Aleppo (modern Syria) to the Indian Ocean. The last absolute Sultan, Abdul Hamid, who came to the throne in 1876, saw the North African part of his empire being carved away. As a result of this continual erosion, in desperation, he began a rule of intense repression, involving spies, informers everywhere, massive arrests, torture and brutal treatment of minorities; Armenians, Kurds, and others. This led to rife corruption throughout their fading empire. The question going forth to the Arab population of their empire, would they be next?

Lawrence would start to develop his language skills and the mastery of the historical background and politics of the region along with intelligence work at the archeology dig at Carchemish along the Western Bank of Euphrates River in both Turkey and Syria. At the same time a bridge was being constructed by German engineers to enable the Berlin-Baghdad Railway to further go into Ottoman-dominated Arabia. Between 1911 and 1914, under the direction of his mentor, David Hogarth, work on this dig continued. In 1911, Hogarth was in the field himself. R. C. Thompson, and later T. E. Lawrence would be there from 1912 to 1914. The excavations would eventually be interrupted in 1914 by World War I, and then eventually ended in 1920, with the Turkish War of Independence. These expeditions uncovered substantial remains of the Assyrian and Neo-Hittite periods, including defensive structures, temples, palaces, and numerous basalt statues and reliefs with Luwian hieroglyphic inscriptions. During this period of time, Lawrence would send many shiploads of pottery back to the museum at Oxford. Eventually, the British Museum would ask for their share of the cultural remains of ancient Babylon.

Of course, more problems arose at the dig, especially with disgruntled Kurds and Arab workers along with unhappy Turks, who were leery of the Brits. Both Lawrence and his partner Leonard Wolley, (1880-1960), another intelligence officer, were able to defuse a riotous event regarding workers and their murderous threats to six German engineers.

The Turks were getting concerned about their (the British) real role in the region and Lawrence was encouraged to publish a paper (a white wash) regarding their archeological efforts. They returned to Britain and as Lawrence was completing, “The Wilderness of Zin,” war was declared.

While Lawrence was on this information mission, covered by the dig at Carchemish, an American, William Yale, (a descendent of Elihu Yale, the founder of Yale College) who was working for ESSO (Standard Oil), came in contact with Lawrence. It seems Yale was also looking for information, but found out none from Lawrence. He had been assigned to map out regions of the Negev and Sinai. Later on, during the war Yale was a member of the United States State Department and had a curious habit of turning up in places where Lawrence was assigned. (He would serve in the American State Department for many years and live to 1975.)

When the war broke out, while Lawrence worked on the (white wash) paper at Whitehall, he turned to his mentor David Hogarth for an appointment in the Intelligence Section of the Military Operations Sector.  Later, he and a few colleagues were posted to Cairo (seen in the film, “Lawrence of Arabia.”) Both Wolley and Lawrence wound up in the Intelligence Sector, as they wished, and they were assigned to the Egyptian War Office, dealing with the Sinai Project. How he gets transferred into this war zone is never really made clear. Certainly knowledge of his education and skills were beginning to be known.

Interestingly, in the early days of the war as a Subaltern (2nd Lieutenant) with three months seniority, he was not only crafting plans that were considered by Lord Kitchener (Herbert Kitchener 1850-1916, British High Command, lost is the sinking of the HMS Hampshire in 1916 on his way to a conference with Tsar Nicholas II) and was being asked his opinion on conditions in the Turkish sectors of Mesopotamia. It was during these early days, in the coming campaign against the Turks, the idea emerged of the “Arab Revolt.” Ironically, the British-Indian government feared the creation of a large Arab Nation more than that of the Turks, especially with regards to their long-term security from the Russians. Also, there were over 70 million Muslims living on the Indian sub-continent.

While this was happening Lawrence and others were setting up an intelligence network. For a time they all wondered whether there would be real action in the Turkish-dominated Levant. That time would not be long in waiting, as Turkey entered the war by attacking Russia.

It was in this period, before the Arab Uprising, that Lawrence became known for driving large motorcycles and for his scruffy (non-military) appearance. This was part of his general refusal to comply with established rules of conduct for young British officers. He often forgot to put on a hat, wear a belt and even salute. (One could see that emphasized in the film.)

Lawrence as an intelligence officer was first sent on a special mission to relieve the encircled British force of colonials (Indians) and British troops in Mesopotamia under the command of General Charles Vere Townsend, who had himself and 12,000 of his command boxed in by the Turkish commander Khalil Pasha. Lawrence was instructed to try to bribe Khalil with 1,000,000 pounds Sterling, but even when he upped the payment to over 2 million, it was rejected. In the midst of the negotiations, General Townshend surrendered his beleaguered and starving forces.

As for the disaster of the siege of Kut and General Townsend, the Anglo-Indian Command were strangely annoyed at the Lawrence Mission. They thought the idea of bribing the Turks to free Townsend’s surrounded army was dishonorable. Aside from their criticism, Lawrence and Audrey Herbert (1880-1923, later a Colonel) proceeded with their negotiations and were able to manage the release over 1000 wounded soldiers in exchange for non-wounded, Turkish military prisoners, but all else though failed.

Of the 11,000 soldiers taken prison after the surrender, over 5000 died on route to prison camps, as almost 26,000 others died in earlier and futile attempts to relieve Kut. General Townsend was interned, in relative comfort for the rest of the war and lived until 1924.

Lawrence would write a scathing account cataloguing the mismanagement that led to the tragedy at Kut. It was so truthful and brutal, that many parts of it were suppressed, Both Gallipoli and Kut were the result of muddled leadership and poor planning.

Eventually, Lawrence would be assigned to the role in instigating the Arab revolt against the Turks. Of course, contemporary views show him as a champion of the Arabs and an advocate for their freedom. He is depicted as trying to bring an end to the fratricidal rivalries among the various Arab Tribes and weld them together as a nation. That seems to be part of the overall myth of Lawrence.

In the beginning of 1916, Hussein, the Sherif of Mecca (A descendent of the Prophet.) and his sons- were encouraged by British promises regarding support for an independent Arab Kingdom-which would include parts of Lebanon and Syria, assuming an Allied victory. Hussein had been held as a virtual prisoner in Constantinople for seventeen years, before he was sent to Mecca as Sherif. He was the only Arab Leader of high religious standing. He knew most of the Turkish leaders of the Ottoman Empire as he was the only Arab leader known to Muslims outside of Arabia. He was the most critical individual, regarding the role of accepting British support in any uprising against the Turks, especially countering Sultan Hamid’s call for Jihad, or religious war against the infidels (the Allies.) This fear of jihad was quite real, because, as I earlier noted, the British ruled over 70 million Muslims in India.

For these reasons, Lawrence considered Hussein as the only possible candidate for this role. In 1916, he wrote a long memorandum, “The Conquest of Syria.” It was a remarkable description of Britain’s war aims, the consequences of the Arab Revolt, its emerging politics, its strategy and tactics, as well as the post war aims of Britain. Also let us not forget, Lawrence is only 28 years old and still a low-ranked officer. Who other than Lawrence was capable of these efforts? It seems, no one!

With that in mind, his commitment was complete and his success was in kind. The characters of Hussein (Hussein bin Ali al Hashim, 1854-1931, was the 37th direct descendent of Muhammad, the Prophet.) and his son Feisal are quite confused in the film. Feisal (played by Alec Guinness in the film) linked himself to Lawrence for the rest of the “Arab Revolt.” Feisal resisted the entreaties of Colonel Edouard Bremond, (1868-1948), Frances’s early counterpart to Lawrence. Bremond was a professional soldier in the middle of an outstanding career. He was a graduate of famous St. Cyr military academy and served in Morocco and Algiers. He was abrupt, patronizing, and jealous of his reputation. He was in favor of sending in large numbers regular French and British troops to confront the Turks, because of the limitations of the Bedouins in confronting regular soldiers. This was certainly part of the French post-war plans to occupy parts of old Ottoman Empire. Lawrence was bitterly opposed to this, because he believed if foreign troops (infidels) entered the fight the Bedouins would immediately desert. Bremond would be a rival of Lawrence’s for the rest of his life. They both actively disliked each other.

Feisal rejected peace overtures with the Turks and aside from some minor disagreements with Lawrence, remained loyal to him until the end of the war. But, eventually in 1921, he was completely disillusioned and turned quite bitter over his treatment by both the British and the French.

Of course, there would be many complications regarding the relationship between Lawrence and Hussein and his sons. In his account of the “Revolt,” in his “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” he describes his missions to Khartoum, Cairo, Jeddah and the problem of resisting a Turkish counter-attack from Medina on Mecca, the center of the Arabian rule, which would destroy the “Revolt.” This is how he summed up his mission. “The Sherif of Mecca was aged (he was in his 60s). I found (his sons) Abdullah too clever, Ali too clean and Zeid too cool. Then I road upcountry to Feisal and found him to be the leader with the necessary fire and yet with reason to give effect to our science. His tribesmen seemed sufficient instrument and the (surrounding) hills to natural advantage.”

In fact, Feisal (played by Alec Guinness in the movie is in reality, closer to the fictional character of Sherif Ali Played by Omar Sharif. One never sees Hussein.) With that in mind, according to Lawrence, his superiors were quite thrilled over his positive news regarding his ability to use Hussein’s sons in a productive matter. He was then sent back to the camp of Feisal. Ronald Storrs, (1881-1955, later a career diplomat, future military Governor of Jerusalem & Judea from 1920-6 and a WWII Member of the Arab Bureau) wrote that “Lawrence of Carchemish, Cairo and of any other place for a little while, became permanently, Lawrence of Arabia.” In fact, Lawrence was significantly much more important than a lowly, newly commissioned Subaltern (2nd Lieutenant). He was, in actuality, a very powerful force, sent to Cairo because of his high intelligence, great experience, and knowledge of the language and the customs of the Arab World, along with his unparalleled brilliance.

The remaining question was, who was he really? Who informed his superiors? In a fictional part of the movie, General Allenby is looking over his file and notes that he is well-educated. That did not happen and he met General Allenby much later.

One of the suggested tactics was the cutting of the critical Hedjaz Rail Line, which could eventually destroy the Turkish civil government that depended solely on its lifeline of relief and supplies. This was not the easy task described in the film, “Lawrence of Arabia.” The line was guarded by thousands of troops and it would take almost a year of planning and preparation. Preventing this action was the eventual inability to dislodge the Turks from their stronghold at Medina.

At this time, the secret Sykes-Picot treaty was drawn up and signed. This treaty would eventually grant Britain control and hegemony over Mesopotamia (Iraq) among other concessions that would include where modern Jordan is, along with Kuwait and territories southward. It would also create an internationalized Palestine with Britain in control of the ports of Accra and Haifa. The French, with ancient claims going back to the Crusades would get absolute control of Lebanon and Syria. As for the Sykes-Picot Treaty and the equally secret Hussein-McMahan correspondence in which British promises to the Sherif of Mecca, they are set out clearly in conflict. For sure, there were many Brits, including Lawrence, who were opposed to any presence by the French. Lawrence remained a committed Francophobe his whole life.

The Sykes-Pico Treaty was a secret document created by two career British and French diplomats. Sir Mark Sykes (1879-1919, a Baronet) and Monsieur Georges-Picot (1870-1951, a diplomat and lawyer) drew up an agreement dividing the choicest parts of the Ottoman Empire amongst Britain, France and Russia, leaving little worthwhile for the Arabs. Lawrence was well aware of the details of this agreement. How does a lowly, newly appointed, Subaltern of 28 years old know of this secret arrangement? He is certainly much more influential than his rank. Lawrence keeps this secret from Feisal and for sure, his father Hussein, the Sherif of Mecca, the titular head of the Arab-Muslim world.  He knew that if the Arabs discovered what has happened they will stop fighting.

The agreement was kept secret until the Bolshevik revolution, when the new Soviet government in Russia, revealed all the secret treaties and arrangements made by the former Tsarist regime. The Turks, seeing a chance to end the “Revolt,” hasten to tell the Arabs that Britain has betrayed their cause and to offer them peace terms. The Arabs are tempted to end their campaign, but when King Hussein questions the British, they deny that any such agreement exists. The British reaffirm their promise to free the Arabs. Lawrence and his mentor David Hogarth work to undermine the treaty, not because it betrays the Arabs, but because it lets the French into their plans for Arab Dominion. There were many parts to the agreement, including a way to convince the Zionists that an opportunity was at hand to at last realize their dream of a Jewish Homeland in the traditional Holy Land. In truth, no matter how it was to be interpreted, the Arabs were left with very little. There is no doubt that at the time, and in retrospect, if Hussein had known of the reality of the treaty, the “Arab Revolt” would have collapsed immediately. The Arabs would have known that there was no benefit in helping defeat the Turks. It meant exchanging one master for another. Without the revelation by the new Soviet government, there is no reason to believe the details of the Treaty would have ever been revealed. Of course, Lawrence being the agent that he was, knew all about the Turkish offers down to the last detail, because he looked at the files in Feisal’s office when he wasn’t there. The British often intercepted telegrams between Hussein and Feisal. They often doctored them to suit their purpose and policies, and then delivered the revised versions.

Feisal, of course, was disturbed by what the Turks told him, passed the letters to his father, Hussein, the Sherif of Mecca, who responded, “A British promise is as good as gold. No matter how hard you rub it, it still shines.”

The reality is quite different. Lawrence’s main task, according to his own papers was to bring the Arabs firmly under British control and make certain the tribes remained jealous of each other and divided. His paper of 1916, “The Politics of Mecca,” makes that quite clear. Part of his actions and beliefs were his fanatical opposition to any French hegemony in Syria. Also, in this piece, he is hardly seen as the future savior of the Arab People, as depicted in the film.

In one part he writes, “The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks, If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities, incapable of cohesion and yet always ready to combine against an outside force.” How correct he was. This reality would remain true for the next 100 years. He continued, “The alternate to this seems the control and colonization of a European Power other than ourselves, which would inevitably come in conflict with the interests we already possess in the New East.” This certainly reflected their keen interest in oil and the future security of the Raj in India.

Lawrence understood that to curry favor and trust with the Arab leadership he had to immerse himself in their culture. Evidence suggests that Lawrence wore Arab dress and behaved as a Bedouin for reasons aside from love or admiration for the Arabs, is to be discerned in his written piece, “Twenty-Seven Articles,” a manual for British political officers in how to handle Arabs. This detailed pamphlet shows with sincerity that that he adopted an Arab pose to win their trust and to be better able to direct their actions in concert along with the avenues that were parallel and most beneficial to Britain. He immersed himself in everything Arabic, including diet, habits, likes, dislikes, conduct, the nuances of language, etc. He believed that one’s success will be proportionate to the amount of mental effort one could commit.

In March of 2017, after a long bout of dysentery and a high fever, he claims to have re-thought the strategy of the war. He believes that the attack and the capture of Medina, the Turkish stronghold, would be foolish, especially with regards to the loss of men and material. Better let them remain stuck with their supply lines under constant attack.

Such a strategy would leave 12,000 Turks stranded and impotent, unable to move and harm the Revolt. The strategy was to convince the Turks to continue to supply a besieged garrison. In most cases his plans were developed over months as was his strategy of constant harassment, but not the destruction of the railway. Without the cooperation of Abdullah (Hussein’s son) he formed a small force of 300 or so men and attacked the rail station at Aba el Naam. In doing so with two machine guns, one mountain gun and a howitzer he was able to destroy the main building, the water supply, rail cars disable a locomotive, as they severed the telegraph line and the tracks. The 200 men at the station fled into the hills.

It took Lawrence 48 hours to get back to Abdullah’s camp. There was no love-loss between the two of them in the least. As soon as he got there, he set out once again to make a second attack on the railway. These were his first attempts at offensive patrols in force. The hit and run tactics developed in the desert were not novel and had been used for centuries before WWII. Since that time these tactics have been used routinely with freedom fighters, guerrillas and terrorists throughout the world.

Eventually, in April, of 1917, Lawrence would meet Auda, (1874-1926) the leader of the Abu Tayi Tribe, a section of the Howeitat Bedouins. This desert warrior was unique in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. He was fierce, had personally killed countless Arabs (possibly 75+), no less Turks.

He even knocked out his front false teeth that had been made by Turks to show his loyalty to the revolt. Auda (played by Anthony Quinn in the film, was one of the few real characters, aside from Lawrence and Allenby.)

Lawrence was long intrigued by Auda’s romantic image as the toughest of the Hejaz Chieftains. In a long, detailed, dispatch sent by Lawrence, Auda was well-described as the finest fighting force in Western Arabia. With the enthusiastic support of Auda, along with Mira as-Shalan, the long-time head of the Ruala Bedouins, Lawrence planned his attack on Aqaba. Auda’s support convinced Feisal that this audacious assault could work. With Feisal’s growing army, tensions arose within the ranks and the tribal leadership. Even the majority of the tribes were not enthusiastic about a frontal assault, hundreds of miles away across the arid desert.

Feisal, for this effort, relied instead on the nucleus of his bodyguard and then added other tribes, like regiments commanded by the hereditary rulers. This army was constantly changing. While the British command was still pressing on an attack on Medina along with a major attack on the Hejaz rail lines, Lawrence wanted to attack Aqaba from the rear, which was not defended by their big guns facing the sea. Feisal had previous blocked the plan, but with the arrival of Auda, he agreed. Lawrence changed the equation with the promise of glory and limitless wealth. With this Auda became his most enthusiastic ally. Gold was never unimportant to these leaders. They craved it and it bought a lot of effort, especially from their followers. As this was discussed, Lawrence convinced Auda that the attack was really the tribal leader’s own creation. Of course, many tried to take responsibility for the idea.

Lawrence, Auda and Nasir the exiled Sherif of Medina started toward Aqaba with 40 camel men on a mission which would make Lawrence famous. They carried few supplies, no machine guns, no heavy equipment and 20,000 British gold Sovereigns. The desert route was long and difficult and he had no orders from the High Command. He circumvented his immediate superior Colonel Charles Joyce (1878-1965), but he wrote to Colonel Gilbert Clayton (1875-1929) in Cairo and said he was taking on this effort on his own responsibility. This on its face is quite remarkable. It was on this march that he meets the two (seen in the film) young Bedouin boys, who become his servants.

In the long, hazardous, ten day trip from their starting point in Wejh- the lack of water started to become acute. During this effort, Lawrence and Auda crossed the Hejaz railway at the Wadi Deraa and blew up the rails. The rest of the journey was uneventful except for the famous story of Lawrence going back to rescue a man, Gasim, from certain death, who had fallen from his camel. Eventually they reached Auda’s camp and security. While there, for some unexpected reason Lawrence left for a mysterious and controversial reconnaissance in Syria on the 14th of June. Some reports said he was two weeks, other said he never left and there was always some historical doubt about the event. But, none in his camp, or even in the British Army, knew that Lawrence was really a secret agent. When he was gone he met with Syrian Nationalists in the outskirts of Damascus. This action was denied by an Arab historian, but Sir Reginald Wingate (1861-1953, future Baronet and a later High Commissioner in Egypt) recommended him for the Victorian Cross. It eventually was denied, because no British officer witnessed the effort. During his absence Auda raised a considerable fighting force of several hundred men. Three days later, after Lawrence’s return.in a diversion to draw attention away from Aqaba, they attacked a railway to the North. One hundred tribesmen, with Lawrence Auda and his nephew Zaal, struck at the railroad between Amman and Deraa. It was at Deraa where Lawrence was supposedly attacked and abused by the Turkish Bey (played by Jose Ferrer in the movie.)

As for this singular reconnaissance, which was questioned by some, Lawrence talks little about it in his book, “The Seven Pillars…” But, aside from the questions, his own dispatches seem to corroborate the effort along with his diary.

The secrecy and the apparent discrepancies in Lawrence’s various accounts of this and other exploits, can be explained on the ground of secrecy. The evidence is deeply conflicting, but in the light of what is known about Lawrence’s courage and endurance, it seems not unreasonable.

Also, all should understand, who is the now “captain,” and where does his authority come from and why is no one really questioning what he does and the authority he commands?

In an effort to protect important wells from destruction from the Turks, they took on a small Turkish force, which eventually alerted an enemy battalions. The battle was turned by a mad charge by Auda, which was followed by Lawrence, who was thrown from his own camel and knocked senseless while the battle was won. It seems that in the chaos of the charge, Lawrence shot his own camel, causing his fall and injury. With the loss of two Arabs, the Turks incurred over 300 deaths and surrendered over 160 men. Terms of surrender were sent to other Turkish outposts and they were accepted. The eventual fall of Aqaba, two months after Lawrence and Audo had left Wejh, which occurred on July 6th, was a fait accompli. Aqaba was cut off with no relief from the sea and no supplies. There was no real charge, as depicted in the film, the defenders had no choice and the garrison of a few hundred Turks surrendered. Thus, every port on the Red Sea was now in the British naval control. This outstanding victory would eventually make Lawrence a household name all over the world. It was an audacious effort, almost without parallel in modern times.

With that reality of this victory at hand, there was no way to alert British HQ in Cairo about this amazing and totally unexpected occrance. To get the information to Cairo, Lawrence and eight others (not his two servant boys in the film) headed across 150 miles of Sinai Desert. They wound up on the eastern side of the Suez Canal, found an abandoned set of building, abandoned because of the plague, were able to find a working phone, and finally reached an operator who understood what he was talking about. A launch was sent to cross the canal, and they headed to Suez City. Lawrence caught a train to Ismailia which was a connecting station to Cairo.

Upon arriving in Cairo, he made his way too his barracks, changed his Arab garb to an old uniform and headed to British Headquarters where he first meets General Edmund Henry Allenby (1861-1936, later 1st Viscount Allenby.) Lawrence had never met him before. (In the film, he went into an officer’s bar in Arab dress with his surviving Arab servant boy. This never happened.)

It seems that Lawrence had a great deal of authority and he was able to ask for and obtain 200,000 pounds in British gold Sovereigns from General Allenby (there was no personage named Dryden- played by Claude Rains who would certify the request.) In 1917, that money would be equivalent to over $16 million today. Gold opened a lot of doors in the Bedouin World of that era, as it would today.

Lawrence would eventually return to his joint command (with Feisal) of his Desert Army. There he would plan his next effort with more arms at his command and. of course. the gold. The Battle of Tafileh, on the 25th January of 1918, was a heavy engagement with three Turkish battalions of 900 men and officers and a company of cavalry. It was the only major battle Lawrence fought in during WWI. A force of a few hundred soldiers, under the nominally, joint command of Feisal’s younger brother Zeid, Jafaar Pasha Al-Askari with Lawrence, they entered the town of Tafileh. In a classic battle of small feints, strategic withdrawals, and a flanking action, the Turkish regulars broke from their well-defended lines, faced a flanking movement featuring machine guns during their retreat and were basically routed and cut down. Over 200 Turks surrendered, many were wounded and died because of the lack of any medical assets and the vast majority were killed.

In short, according to the media of the time and the famous movie about these two years of his life, “Lawrence’s war appears to be glamourous and adventurous and exciting because, as war go, it was just that, and Lawrence made the best of it. For two years he lived and fought with the Arabs.

He wore Arab clothes, went barefoot, ate Arab food, and suffered Arab fleas. He had malaria, dysentery and boils. It was a rough, rough life.” (From the very authoritative book, “The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia,” by Phillip Knightley and Colin Simpson.)

According to Tom Beaumont, who fought with Lawrence, “There was not thought of changing or undressing at night! We slept in a hollow made in the sand with a blanket or two for cover. It was four months before we could get a change of clothes. Shaving was win a tin of water for ten men. We used aviation petrol to wash clothes. Lawrence was incredibly tough and made a point of doing anything the Arabs could do and doing it better. He could ride a camel faster than most of them. He could run alongside and swing into the saddle- about nine feet from the ground- while it was moving. He could do it easier than most Arabs. The Arabs accepted him because of feats like this. He knew how to get along with them. They would follow him anywhere.”

Sir Major Hubert Young (1885-1950, soldier and Liberal politician) who knew Lawrence from his days at the dig at Carmemish noted that “Lawrence was absolutely without fear and very hard on himself, but he also never knew much about the regular army.” (Lawrence was not a product of a military background in the least.) Young, himself could not forgive Lawrence for his hated of the army and it rules, regulations and tradition. But, he understood that “he was a tireless and inspired, if somewhat unrealistic leader who won the respect of Arab and British soldiers alike, because of his utter disregard of danger and his readiness to endure not merely discomfort, but the worst kinds of hardship.”

During February, Lawrence was introduced to the American journalist and adventurer, Lowell Thomas (the character of the American Jeremy Bentley in the movie). This meeting and their subsequent run-ins in Arabia were later to have a profound effect on Lawrence’s life, regarding the incredible notoriety that would come to him, along with the legend that still persists. It would also effect the perception of him that was basically a secret to almost 100% of the British public. There was virtually no Allied propaganda about the “Arab Revolt” and the War in the Desert. Throughout the war, the British government had no clue how to present their effort, utilized no positive propaganda, and through incredible censorship, little was known by the public of the details of almost anything, especially the role of Lawrence from 1914 through 1918. As for Americans, few even knew of the WWI British contribution of “blood and treasure,” Most thought the French, their traditional allies, were doing all the fighting and dying. In fact, Lawrence was virtually unknown, except to his peers and superiors.

In the spring, after a very difficult period of personal introspection and self-doubt, he was re-vitalized and master-minded a major new offensive against the Hegaz Line and a direct attack on the Turkish stronghold of Damascus (the capital of modern Syria.) He continued with his inability of delegating command and personally led numerous raids on the Hegaz rail system. As new and more modern equipment moved into the theater of operations, Lawrence was able to effectively use planes and armored cars. But, success and the vision of victory, was not without emerging problems. Morale amongst his Arab army was dropping. Like all soldiers, the wear and tear, the deprivation, and the fear of surviving the war was creeping into both the ranks and the leadership. German clandestine efforts to divide the Arab leadership was having a subtle, but obvious effect.

Feisal and his father, Hussein, the Sherif of Mecca were in the midst of a growing rift over policy, the direction of their actions and who would lead in the future. The specter of the reality of the Sykes-Picot Treaty, which had been denied for years by the British authorities was weighing heavily on the minds of the Arab leadership. Feisal offered his resignation, but both Allenby, with Lawrence’s initiation and prodding, were able to convince him to rescind his action at this critical juncture. Lawrence was able to doctor a half-hearted, apologetic letter from Hussein to his son and make it more conciliatory.

Lawrence would facilitate the attack on Damascus by isolating Deraa by blowing up a key bridge and destroying rail lines which would prevent further Turkish reinforcements. But, no matter what one did to the rail lines, Turkish retreat to Damascus continued unabatedly.

After a series of land and air attacks, Lawrence and Auda, with a body of irregular troops caught up with a retreating column of Turkish and German troops at a village called Tafas. At that small village occurred what has been termed the “Massacre of Tafas,” The Turkish commander was reported to have murdered 20 small children and 40 women. According to “The Seven Pillars…” The Arabs reacted with uncontrolled rage. Talal, one of the local Chieftains (who led the charge in the movie and was cut down by Turkish marksman) flung himself at the column, along with Lawrence and the others. It was reported that Lawrence gave the implicit directive, “take no prisoners!” The scope of the massacre at Tafas and the destruction of the Turkish and German column were never covered in the official papers of the campaign, very possibly, because of extreme censorship, but it is mentioned extensively in “The Seven Pillars….”

Of course, aside from the horror of war and the brutality of violent death exercised on both sides of any conflict, countless war crimes have been ignored even from when the Geneva Convention outlined rules of the conduct of belligerents in the modern era.

Official records reflect that this large contingent of Turkish troops were prevented from helping in the defense of Damascus. There is no real evidence that they were the “walking wounded” as depicted in the film or even in Lawrence’s book, “The Seven Pillars….” In the film it certainly shows graphically the slaughter of innocents in the village of Tafas. Of course, like many other debated accounts, Lawrence’s description of what occurred has been disputed from different sources, especially from the French who were rivals of the British and from their field leader officer, Captain Eduard Bremond, who despised Lawrence. For sure a massacre of some kind did take place, but a Jordanian historian has presented evidence that the initial slaughter by the Turks was exaggerated by Lawrence in an attempt to justify the orgy of killing of the Turkish column. That seems completely insincere. In other words, so small of a massacre only deserves a reaction in kind?

Historically, in the official account of the Allenby Campaign, “The Advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force,” which was produced shortly after the war from headquarters in Cairo by the British government press and the Survey of Egypt, there is only a brief, but laudatory mention of Lawrence, with hardly any hint of his political importance.

Thus ended the saga of Lawrence and his most pivotal role in the War in the Desert, the Arab Revolt. His fame would explode diametrically, in the days after the war, and would not be superseded by any soldier in the 100 years since the end of that conflict.

What was the consequence of sea changes in the Middle East? In a faraway retrospect, on the day Saigon fell to North Vietnamese troops in 1973, the British writer James Fenton founded a framed quotation on a wall of the abandoned and looted American Embassy: “Better to let them do it imperfectly than to do it perfectly yourself, for it is their country, their way, and your time is short.” The words were from T.E. Lawrence. That quote is from The Assassin’s Gate, America in Iraq by George Packer.

Finally, in 1927 after the publication of the masterful, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” trade editions of “Revolt in the Desert,” were published. It was a shortened and more commercial edition of “The Seven Pillars.” George Bernard Shaw wrote, “The most spectacular and mysterious figure of modern times, he relates on of the strangest stories written.” Shaw went on, “he exploded the Turkish Dominion in Arabia. Je united under himself tribes and nations which had not joined together since the last Crusade: he led them to victory- the white genius of the desert legions!”

In England, a serialization of “Revolt” had begun in the Daily Telegraph two months before the book was published. Advance orders exhausted three printings at a price four times that of a novel. Incredible praise was heaped on the book. One reviewer in the Times, wrote, “The description of that last crescendo of confusion and fury and fighting of desperate adventure and hair breadth escapes and at the culminating triumph at Damascus, is a masterpiece. It is a marvelous record, clear, incisive, utterly unsentimental, burking nothing.” There were many more glowing reviews from the Morning Post, The Daily News, The Westminster Gazette, The Times Literary Supplement and many more. It quickly became a best seller in Britain and America. Of course, all this happened while he was posted to Karachi with his pseudo name, as he attempted to run away from the fame, notoriety and incessant clamor and intrusion on his life. In fact, he would never really escape.

Thus, these last fifteen years of Lawrence’s life were a mixture of many, many myths, rumors, accusations, his need to escape, his effort to finish his book, efforts to live quietly, and his strange re-enlistments into both the Army and the Royal Air Force with fictitious identities.

He certainly developed dependencies on powerful friends like George Bernard Shaw and his wife, Winston Churchill, Thomas Hardy, Basil Liddle-Hart, Nancy Astor, and with many others, some from his days in the desert during WWI, along with others who served with him in the military. The question arises, why cannot he deal with reality, his notoriety, the clamor of people, in the post war world? What is he suffering from?

Is it mental, physical or psychological? The effect of the war, his own identity and legitimacy, his height, his health, fear of the media, his lack of resources, his sexuality and possibly post-traumatic stress syndrome are all part of his continuing anxieties.

Since Lowell Thomas’s book in 1924, there been many unauthorized and authorized books on the life of Lawrence. Many theories about who he was and his motivation have come and gone. Many of the later books had the blessing of the Lawrence Trust, ministered by his brother Professor AW Lawrence.

Lawrence has been insanely described as a sadistic deviate for whom the Arab uprising against the Turks was an opportunity to prey on others, or as the most generous man who ever lived; as a fraud who took credit for what others accomplished in Arabia, or as the only important military mind to emerge from World War I. Almost all who knew him during and after the war seems to have been convinced that he was a remarkable “genius,” though they rarely agreed as to what sort. He was impossible to pin down!

For Robert Graves and George Bernard Shaw, he was one of the important writers of the century, while his service mates in the R.A.F. during the 1920’s and 1930’s remember him as the best mechanic, or boat designer they ever knew. George Bernard Shaw’s wife described him as the most kind and decent man, a sort of saint. While, for a decade, the British Foreign Office had troubled dreams about his “real” ambitions, and breathed a sigh of relief when he was finally killed in a motorcycle accident. It is like the powers wanted him to disappear as much as he did himself.

Others like the author John E, Mack have written that “After one reads Lawrence’s idiosyncratic masterpiece, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” and the moving letters he wrote later on, it becomes clear that Lawrence was not so much a master of these spectacular effects—a “confidence man” Because, in a way his life was so fragile, so precarious, he could be, indeed he had to be, anybody at all. And because he was brilliantly sensitive and intelligent, all his “any bodies” were superbly convincing. Lawrence suspected, therefore, that his legend was merely his own illusionary sense of what he accomplished, multiplied beyond reason, and‐that the only course for him was to submerge himself below the surface of the legend, which he did, or half did, as a “secular monk” (his phrase) in the ranks of a peacetime army.

John Mack’s “A Prince of Our Disorder” is the first Lawrence biography that avoids these obvious snares and traps by addressing itself without prejudice to the man who gave rise to the legends and, finally, was overwhelmed by them. According to one reviewer, “Mack has tracked down virtually everyone who knew Lawrence, including many desert sheiks who fought at his side in Arabia, and he has gotten onto tape or in letters competing versions of crucial events, as well as memoirs of private encounters, personal impressions, etc. Wherever possible, in the period up through the Arab Revolt, he has given precedence to often unpublished contemporary accounts over later reminiscences, so as to avoid the distorting influence of Lawrence’s reputation.” With that in mind, reflective of the background of his effort, “Mack seems to establish beyond a doubt, that Lawrence’s description of the revolt in ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ is largely accurate.

He carefully circumscribes Lawrence’s diplomatic role at Versailles and, later on, when he helped Winston Churchill to rectify the mess the peace conference had made of the Middle East. He underscores Lawrence’s perverse impulse to create the appearance of secrets where, often, none existed, so that the “secret lives” that have delighted legend mongers for the past 50 years are seen to be a sort of joke Lawrence managed to play, finally, on himself.”

The “Lawrence Saga,” never ends, even in death from a reported motorcycle accident. In the same way, as mysteries and legend enveloped his life, there were questions of how it came about, was it really an accident or was it staged?

At least three theories have been put forth, if the crash was not an accident.  (Courtesy of “A Biography of T.E. Lawrence,” by Michael Yardley.)

  1. The crash was a quasi-suicide in which Lawrence had little left to live for and he made a deliberate decision to sacrifice his life to save the boys on the bicycles that were on the road in front of his speeding motorcycle/
  2. The accident was faked so that Lawrence could retire in peace, perhaps to Morocco. The only evidence of this extraordinary conspiracy is that none of the photographs taken of Lawrence in his coffin came out.
  3. That Lawrence was murdered (and here it lies in the realm of spy fiction!
  4. The British Intelligent Service feared his connections with Mosley’s Blackshirts, or because of his intentions to make public his RAF memoirs.
  5. The Germans, to prevent Lawrence from taking over the re-organization of Britain’s Home Defenses.
  6. The French or their agents in revenge for Lawrence’s anti-French activities.
  7. Zionists for reasons that are confused as they are unlikely.
  8. Bolshevik Russian agents because of Lawrence’s activities of an arch spy olf the world.
  9. Agents of an Arab Government
  10. The IRA, because Lawrence took a keen interest in Irish Republicanism and once had refuse Michael Collin’s offer a a brigade in the Free State Army
  11. Persons unknown because of the new secret work which Lawrence was about to or had already, become involve.

Most of these theories are pure speculation and almost impossible to believe. It is far more likely that his death was a result of high speed and an accident. But, there are many inconsistencies with conflicting statements about the accident, the speed he was going, the condition of the motorcycle, a mysterious car and the extraordinary secrecy and security precautions taken. Why was a policeman by his bed in the hospital?

Thomas Eliot Lawrence, known to history as the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia,” lived and died in the thralls of mystery, myth, secrecy and incredible notoriety. Will anyone really know the true story?

Sources:

“The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia,” Phillip Knightley and Colin Simpson, 1969

“A Biography of T.E. Lawrence,” Michael Yardley, 1987

“Lawrence of Arabia,” Jeremy Wilson, 1990

“The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence, 1926

 

 

FDR and Churchill : Their Political and Military Legacy

FDR and Churchill
Their Political and Military Legacy
An Update
By
Richard J. Garfunkel
November 11, 2021

With regards to Winston Churchill, the political role of the American system is much different then Britain. Churchill never had to really stand for election as leader and was never really trusted with “domestic” responsibilities. He was much more of a “loose cannon” and never really felt comfortable working with others. He was certainly a remarkable talent, but had too many inner doubts to be completely confident with himself. His “black” moods and depression limited his ability to have the confidence to “rule.” He had too many opinions that limited his ability to make political alliances. He was a man of action and not a calculating “planner.” He never understood the need to build organizations of political support. He was basically a talented loner. His forte was more foreign policy and the Empire. He had cabinet level domestic responsibilities early in his career, but his name and fortune was linked with the British Navy when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Of course, because Britain was primarily a naval power since the time of Drake and through Nelson, therefore, with vast overseas interests, it had to dominate the seas. Thus, the post of First Lord of the Admiralty had great cachet for Churchill. With all that in mind, the Churchill, who is known and revered today, is a result of his leadership in the days after the collapse of the Chamberlain government, which was seen as a failure. Chamberlain had become the symbol of appeasement, specifically with ill-fated Munich Agreement, which surrendered the Sudetenland (the industrial part of Czechoslovakia) to Nazi Germany, his failure to take action against Germany when they invaded Poland, and finally with the collapse of Norway on April. Let us not forget that at the same time Churchill was named Prime Minister, May 10, 1940, the Low Countries were successfully invaded, quickly conquered and the Battle of France would commence. The disastrous, forced evacuation of British Forces along with some of the allied troops at Dunkerque, and the eventual collapse and surrender of France, on June 25, 1940, would happen while Churchill was Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

But, with regard to pre-WWII British preparedness, let us not forget some other realities; the coastline radar stations were created, built, and installed by the Chamberlain government, as were the designs and production of the Hurricanes and Spitfires that won the Battle of Britain, along with the British heavy bombers, the Lancasters and Wellingtons which brought the war to Germany. Churchill was not part of the government in those days, but had warned of the threat of Nazi Germany, especially with regards to their military buildup and strength.

Churchill was not willing to sublimate himself to the will of others, and never could pose, or participate as a team player. Later on, after the WWII victory, he wasn’t prepared for the 1945 elections that swamped him and his government. The Conservatives suffered their greatest parliamentary loss since 1806. His campaign was terrible and he did not have a “clue” what the public was thinking about, or its needs. On one hand, he was still a captive of the upper classes that dominated British life. He seemed unaware and unconcerned, regarding how the MacDonald-Baldwin-Chamberlain governments ignored the working classes that suffered throughout the Depression. Of course, British politics were divided between the “plutocrats” and the “aristocrats” and Churchill never seemed to know where he fit. He was not keen on real reform that would have worked to restructure the critically unbalanced British economic and social landscape along with its aging infrastructure. He never understood the moribund future of colonialism, and his attitude towards India was foolish and archaic. His political philosophy was inconstant and vacillating. Both sides of the British ideological divide constantly mistrusted him. He was not able to dominate either party, and was perceived by the public as a political outsider with no place to “hang his hat.” His strategy as First Lord of the Admiralty, in the First World War, was badly criticized after the disaster of Gallipoli. His “snafu” was actuated more by logistical insanity then strategic miscalculation. All in all, it was a costly failure in blood and material, and therefore his career suffered terribly. As a so-called military “genius,” let us also not forget his very controversial role in the WWI defense of Antwerp, Belgium and the rightwing, revisionist attempt to exculpate him from the collapse of that city to the German army.

With regards to WW II his strategy was basically no better then Chamberlain’s. Under his watch the British experienced disasters with the navy in Norway, the 8th Army in North Africa and its collapse at Tobruk, the insane and huge defeat and disaster in Singapore, (the worst and most costly British defeat in history), the disaster at Dunkerque, the catastrophic losses of the HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales off Hainan Island, near the Chinese mainland, the abandonment of Greece and Crete, the ill-fated attack at Dieppe, the alienation of the French and the subsequent defection of the French fleet, causing the need for it to be crippled by British naval action along with many others. He and Britain were fortunate that the Nazis re-directed the Luftwaffe to bomb British cities and not go after their radar early warning stations, their aerodromes, and the British fighter defense. A smartly delivered strategy against these targets would have reduced the British to a position where their air cover became hopeless.

Under his watch, the British Navy allowed the German battlecruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to steam through the Channel to the Atlantic where they sunk 22 ships amounting to 116,000 tons. Eventually, those two ships and the Prince Eugen were docked at the occupied French port of Brest. Later, they made their historic dash back across the English Channel. The Channel Dash had cost the Germans 17 aircraft shot down, while the Luftwaffe lost 11 men and the Kriegsmarine two. Additionally, two torpedo boats were damaged, and the two battlecruisers had suffered damage below the waterline.

But the Nazis were quick to take advantage of the remarkable victory, their propaganda machine going into overdrive. Hitler basked in the glory of being proved right. Admiral Ciliax and Kapitan Hoffmann each received the Knights Cross.

In Britain, there was a national outcry at the perceived incompetence. The Times lambasted the inept performance of the armed forces, saying that Admiral Ciliax had “succeeded where the Duke of Medina-Sidonia failed.” The Duke had commanded the Spanish Armada in 1588. “Nothing more mortifying to the pride of our sea power had happened since the seventeenth century.”

This embarrassment was quickly followed on February 15 when Singapore fell and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his government came under scathing attack from all sides. Against his better judgment, Churchill ordered an inquiry into what became known as The Battle of the Narrow Seas, which he considered of “minor importance.” The findings of the inquiry were handed into the prime minister in early March, but for security reasons they were not published until after the war. Of course, in the context of WWII, this is a minor episode, but Churchill was also the Minister of Defense!
Basically US Lend-Lease, the US Navy and the convoy system, the undeclared US naval war in the North Atlantic against the Nazi submarine wolf packs, and the attacks by Germany on Yugoslavia and Greece, culminating with the postponed late spring, early summer invasion of Russia helped Britain survive. Churchill’s strong vocal leadership rallied Britain and the free world, but without Roosevelt and the power that he formulated by creating the “Arsenal of Democracy,” Britain would have eventually been beaten despite the flawed Hitlerian strategy. If the US had not helped Britain with our fleet, the fifty-destroyer exchange and Lend-Lease for Russia, (10% of their logistical needs were provided by America, along with over 400,000 trucks) the Soviets probably would have been neutralized and the further European resistance would have ceased. Greece and Yugoslavia were basically beaten, and the rest of the Eastern Europe, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania were German allies. Turkey was in Germany’s camp and would have remained an associated “player” looking to reclaim their former Ottoman Empire.

Churchill did have many successes aside from American help. Their combined naval/air victory at Taranto that devastated the Italian fleet, the sinking of the Graf Spee, the hunting down of the Bismarck, the destruction of the 10 German destroyers off Norway, his policy supporting Orde Wingate and the Chindits in Burma, his mobilizing massive bombing raids over Germany, the destruction of the French dry docks at Saint Nazaire, and his selection of Montgomery to head the British 8th along with his subsequent victory at El Alemain were strong plusses. But, even with the entrance of America into the war, the later British strategy with Churchill’s blessing and interference, led to the huge loses in Holland with the ill-fated Market-Garden assault on the Dutch bridges. Montgomery, Churchill’s greatest choice for leadership squandered his opportunity to cross the Rhine with his constant demands for more men and material, was one upped by the American capture of the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen. That single event, reflective of intrepid opportunism by American forces, dealt a huge blow to German resistance on the Western front. While Montgomery was accumulating landing craft, the US Army was surging over the Rhine with men and armor, creating an unassailable bridgehead, and trapping German forces on the wrong side of the River.

FDR, on the other hand, mobilized the American economy in an unprecedented way, fought an effective two ocean war, selected and appointed excellent overall leadership with his Joint Chiefs lead by Admiral William D. Leahy, who coordinated the activities of Generals Marshall and Arnold along with Admiral King. FDR’s selections, in all of the theaters of his responsibility, of MacArthur,

Nimitz, Eisenhower, reflected excellent carefully thought out judgment. Their choices of subordinates that included Bedell-Smith, Clark, Bradley, Patton, Hodges, Simpson, Eaker, Doolittle, Stillwell, Halsey, Spruance, Vandergrift, Smith, Lemay and many others spelled eventual success. His speeches, and cool leadership gave the people confidence after Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. FDR’s leadership of the wartime conferences at Argentia Bay, Quebec, Casablanca, Teheran and Yalta were the driving force behind victory and the post-war dominance of the West. His sponsoring of the Bretton Woods Conference had the most lasting effect on the future world’s economies vis-à-vis monetary stability. All in all FDR’s domestic leadership before and during the war were unprecedented. The late President, the architect of victory, won a hard earned election in 1944, with excellent majorities in Congress, even with his health suffering from advance heart disease and arterial sclerosis. He was able to maintain his majorities in Congress all through his tenure in office, and even though the Democrats narrowly lost Congress in 1946, they quickly recovered their majorities until the Eisenhower landslide of 1952. But from 1954 until the 1980’s the FDR-New Deal coalition of Democrats maintained Congressional hegemony.

Churchill, as a man, was bold, talented and basically remarkable. He was a brilliant speaker, a marvelous writer, a brave soldier, a reporter, a painter, a magnificent Parliamentarian, a cabinet official, a Prime Minister, and most importantly a beloved wartime leader. He embodied what was great about Britain. But he was a failure as a politician, lacked excellent judgment went it came to strategy and suffered from great insecurities. His terrible childhood and education plagued him with self-doubts, depression and lack of direction. Churchill spent a lifetime comparing himself to his father Randolph who had a meteoric political career but eventually became a miserable failure. Churchill, like Roosevelt, became much more a product of his mother. Overall he was able to overcome all of those limitations. Churchill was still, at heart, part of the “ruling class” that dominated Britain. He was still part of the Imperialist mindset, and he was still sadly lacking, with regards, to what the average “Brit” needed. He never built a political base, and when the post-war choices were made he was cast aside with little regret from the British people. His return to office in 1951 was no great success and he was too, too old to be a major factor in re-shaping Britain after years of war and social reform.

FDR was not the writer that Churchill was, but as an orator he was certainly quite capable, but few were in Churchill’s league. He was determined and self-confident. His childhood was one of nurtured success and happiness. He was beloved by his adoring parents. He was self-educated to age fourteen and went on to the best schools where he achieved moderate success. In a dissimilar way, FDR’s father, whom he adored and respected, died when he was eighteen while he was a freshman at Harvard. Unlike Churchill’s father who was much younger, James Roosevelt was intimately interested in his second son. His first son, a product of his earlier marriage to Rebecca Howland, who died, was 29 years older and his contact with him was not well known. But even with his loss, FDR had looked up to his father and respected his judgment and memory. James Roosevelt was not a politician like Randolph Churchill, and with his death FDR was able to transform his need for a psychological mentor to his 5th cousin Theodore Roosevelt.
Unlike Churchill, FDR was the single greatest elected politician in modern history and was able to overcome the devastating physical challenge of Polio. He was a vigorous man who overcame a lifetime of sickness. He had wonderful mentors, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Smith, and Woodrow Wilson. He took something from all of them, and was smart enough to avoid the problems they all experienced. He shaped his own destiny, built the new Democratic Party, reversed the effects of the Great Depression, rallied the public, instilled great respect from the world at large, inspired great enemies and opposition, took on the Fascists when America wanted no part of that fight, built the “Arsenal of Democracy” and through his actions at the Atlantic Conference in Argentia Bay, put forth his vision of the world based on the “Four Freedoms.” Eventually, in the midst of the war he coined the name United Nations and would work to establish that body at the Yalta Conference, where he received the agreement of Churchill and Stalin.
His vision is the vision of the modern world; the vision of the world community pulling together for the common good. Not unlike Churchill, who was one of the lone voices protesting against “appeasement,” FDR had withstood an “America First” isolationism that cut across almost all social and political barriers and demographics. FDR had to use his unequalled mastery of the America political landscape to on one hand re-arm America and on the other hand battle the limitations of our Neutrality Laws and the passion of people like Charles Lindbergh, who were his most vocal critics. He was also strongly elected to office an unprecedented four times. Churchill was never elected to national leadership in 1940. He was appointed by the King after the forced resignation of Chamberlain. After five years in the leadership of Great Britain, hi ruling Conservatives Party suffered its greatest defeat since 1806, when the national vote was finally counted in 1945, while he was attending the Potsdam Conference in July.
Churchill mishandled the election campaign by resorting to party politics and trying to denigrate Labour. On 4 June 4th, he committed a serious political gaffe by saying in a radio broadcast that a Labour government would require “some form of Gestapo” to enforce its agenda. It backfired badly and Attlee made political capital by saying in his reply broadcast next day: “The voice we heard last night was that of Mr Churchill, but the mind was that of Lord Beaverbrook”. Churchill was not prepared politically to run a national campaign and the results bore that out historically. Many reasons have been given for Churchill’s defeat, key among them being that a desire for post-war reform was widespread amongst the population and that the man who had led Britain in war was not seen as the man to lead the nation in peace. He was forced to leave the conference to his successor, the new Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
When he was again appointed Prime Minister again in 1951 by King George VI, after the new election in 1951, his party had actually received less votes than the losing Labor Party, with only a 17 seat majority. In fact, he served a lack-luster 3.5 years until April of 1955 when he was finally forced by health issues to resign. Churchill was nearly 77 when he took office and was not in good health following several minor strokes. By December, 1951, George VI had become concerned about Churchill’s decline and intended asking him to stand down in favor of Eden, but the King had his own serious health issues and died on February 6, 1952, without making the request. Churchill developed a close friendship with Elizabeth II. It was widely expected that he would retire after her Coronation in May 1953 but, after Eden became seriously ill, Churchill increased his own responsibilities by taking over at the Foreign Office. Eden was incapacitated until the end of the year and was never completely well again.
On the evening of 23 June 1953, Churchill suffered a serious stroke and became partially paralyzed down one side. Had Eden been well, Churchill’s premiership would most likely have been over. The matter was kept secret and Churchill went home to Chartwell to recuperate. He had fully recovered by November. He retired as Prime Minister in April 1955 and was succeeded by Eden.

One of the most tragic issues before WWII in Europe was the Nazi treatment of the Jews of Germany. During and after the war the evidence of their atrocities towards the Jews and other minorities was fully exposed. As for the punishment of Nazi Germany, regarding their conduct during the war, Churchill initialed the Morgenthau Plan proposed by US Secretary of Treasury, Henry J. Morgenthau Jr.) for post-war Germany, which called for the breakup of Germany and its de-industrialization. When the news of the Quebec Conference reached Germany, Propaganda Minister Goebbels claimed, “Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to the Jewish murder plan.” German radio announced that Roosevelt’s “bosom” friend Henry Morgenthau, the “spokesman of world Judaism” was singing the same song as the Jews in the Kremlin,”- dismember Germany, destroy its industry and “exterminate forty-three million Germans.” Interestingly, across the Atlantic, another democratic leader seems to have concurred with the blame-the-Jews theory. Also, let us not forget that Churchill signed on to many agreements that came out of WWII meetings, and later either ignored, denied or opposed these same agreements.

With regards to Churchill’s real feelings, an unpublished article by Winston Churchill, written in 1937 and discovered in the Churchill archives by Cambridge University historian Richard Toye in 2007, claimed that Jews were “partly responsible” for the mistreatment that they suffered. Churchill denounced the “cruel and relentless” persecution of the Jews but then criticized German Jewish refugees in England for their willingness to work for less pay than non-Jewish laborers, which — he claimed — caused antisemitism. Some of Churchill’s earlier statements about Jews and communism indulged in anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as referring to the Russian Bolshevik leadership as “Semitic conspirators” and “Jew Commissars.” Of course, anti-Semitism was rife through Europe, especially Eastern Europe and in Russia, before and after the Russian Revolution which eventually saw the triumph of the Bolsheviks and the rise of the Soviet Union. As for Britain, Jews were expelled in 1290 and only by 1655 were a small group of Sephardic Jews were allowed to stay. Over the next two hundred years Jews existed in Britain with a number of restrictions. True emancipation for them as a religious group came somewhat between 1829 or 1858. Before WWII over 500,000 European Jews sought asylum in Britain, only 70,000 were allowed to stay.

In the United States, though there was discrimination against Jews, Catholics, Asians, Blacks and Latinos, Jews were never restricted from immigration. Even with the very restrictive immigration laws of 1921 and 1924, which was based on National Origin demographics in 1890, which limited basically Jews and Catholics from the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe with quotas, Jews always immigrated to the United States. From 1933 through the beginning of WWII, despite obstacles from the American Department of State, mostly dominated by Republican appointees from the previous twelve years of Republican Administrations and Southern Democrats, over 150,000 Jews were allowed into the States. During the Depression and the immediate pre-war period, there was the rise of more virulent anti-Semitism in the United States. Most of that rise was surely fomented and encouraged by the large and significant German-American minority who bought into the rise of German nationalism. The rise of the German-American Bund was paid for and strongly supported by the Nazi Party in Germany.

As with of emergence of the Roosevelt Administration in 1933, FDR called upon Felix Frankfurter, of the Harvard Law School to start sending young lawyers down to Washington to staff the emerging New Deal. The Roosevelt administration employed many young Jewish lawyers, labor leaders and intellectuals to help rescue our society from the social and economic ravages of the Great Depression. FDR also leaned on his strong relationship with Jews throughout his whole political life: Bernard Baruch, Henry Morgenthau, his Secretary of Treasury, David Niles, Anna Rosenberg, Herbert Lehman, Governor of New York, later US Senator, along with the aforementioned Frankfurter, Ben Cohen, and his lawyer and chief writer, Judge Rosenman. With regards to his associations with Jews, they were novel and advanced for the period. Again, he had an “open” friendship with Henry Morgenthau who served in his cabinet for 12 years. Eleanor Roosevelt was also quite close to Elinor Morgenthau, the Secretary of Treasury’s wife.
FDR appointed many, many Jews to high office, and had a comfortable, but distant relationship with most of his contemporaries.

Jews made up 3% of the American population in the 1930’s but the New Deal, called the “Jew Deal” by anti-Semites, who often referred to FDR as that Jew “Rosenfelt,” but made up 15% of his administration. FDR was elected with approximately 70% of the Jewish vote in 1932, and by 1944 he received over 93% of that vote. FDR appointed, cumulatively, more Jews to office than all the previous 31 administrations and all that followed until the Clinton Administration!

In retrospect Churchill really left no governmental legacy. He really never governed. FDR’s legacy was one of not only unprecedented leadership, but of government innovation, reform and restructuring.

History has favored Winston Churchill for many reasons, which include his lonely pre-war opposition to the rise of Hitler and the threat of Nazism. He battled against both the appeasers and the pro-fascist elements in Britain. He also stood head and shoulders above his rivals, like Lord Halifax, who wanted to succeed the failed Neville Chamberlain. Let us not forget, that Roosevelt also warned of the threat of rise of the dictators with his “Quarantine Speech” which was universally excoriated by the conservatives and isolationists, who refused to see the worldwide threat of the Nazis and Fascists.

Churchill was always given exceptionally high marks as an inspiring and eloquent orator before the war and during it. His ability to lead a beleaguered nation in its darkest hours can never be underrated. With that in mind, he has been awarded high marks for standing alone during the Blitz (German air attacks) and keeping up British morale despite the nightly bombings, the massive destruction and the battlefield reversals. He certainly deserved criticism for his endless micro-managing policy, interference with his generals, reversals in strategy and poor choice in military appointments. He even was very critical of his “star” appointment of General Montgomery. The victor at Alamein. Ironically, Montgomery wasn’t his first choice to command the 8th Army in Egypt.

His first selection was Lt. General William Gott, who killed in a plane crash. According to many of the veterans of that campaign, who were familiar with both men, they felt that Gott certainly would have lost the battle for control of Egypt, the Suez Canal and the oilfields of the Middle East. Churchill certainly opposed Operation Torch and wanted American men and material supporting Montgomery, was against Operation Anvil-Dragoon, the August, 1944 invasion of Southern France, in the days after the Normandy Invasion and the breakout into France.

On the other hand, Churchill and the British leadership understood FDR’s problems and political skills. FDR’s promises on the mobilization of American’s war industry were incredibly exceeded and he for sure delivered on America being the “Arsenal of Democracy.” FDR’s strategic vision reached much farther and more accurately than Churchill’s FDR understood the emergence of Russia and China as world powers, and he pressed for the Unconditional Surrender, to avoid the postwar disaster that followed the end of WWI. He also knew that the Allies had to secure the peace, and that was why he worked so hard to create the United Nations. Churchill vision was most often limited to the sustaining of the British Empire.

Also, let us not forget many of the leaders of the Western Alliance during WWII and their generals were no raving successes, As for The United States, out of the fifty-six Lt. Generals, who were appointed during the war from December 1941 through March of 1945, about 45 of those served overseas, seven were recalled for incompetence or other reasons. As for the top leadership, Secretary of State Hull was not well and often ignored completely and had little to do with any decision regarding the prosecution of the war. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, a great patriot, a Republican and a former Secretary of War and State was consistently wrong. Even the sainted Chief of Staff of the Army George C. Marshall was also wrong regarding North Africa and the call for a cross Channel invasion of France in both 1942 and 1943, as was the head of the Naval Admiral Ernest King.
As for General MacArthur, his failures in the Philippines were outrageous and many called for his removal and to be court marshalled. Admiral Robert L. Ghormley who was in charge of the naval operations around Guadalcanal and Tulagi was replaced by Admiral William F. Halsey because of lack-luster performance and incompetence. As for the heroic Halsey, his “Bull’s Run” and indecision around the Leyte Gulf Invasion almost created a disaster for American landing force. Also, his command in the following days after Typhoon Cobra bordered on incompetence and criminal conduct. Following the typhoon a Navy court of inquiry was convened on board USS Cascade in the naval base at Ulithi. Admiral Nimitz, CINCPAC, was in attendance at the court, Vice Admiral John H. Hoover presided the Court with admirals George D. Murray and Glenn B. Davis as associate judges. Forty-three-year-old Captain Herbert K. Gates was the Judge Advocate. The inquiry found that though Halsey had committed an error of judgement in sailing the Third Fleet into the heart of the typhoon, it stopped short of unambiguously recommending sanction. The events surrounding Typhoon Cobra were similar to those the Japanese navy had faced some nine years earlier in what they termed “The Fourth Fleet Incident.”

General Joseph Stillwell, the veteran of the China-Burma-India Theater and the military liaison to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek had to be removed because of insubordination and downright idiocy. In Sicily, Lt. General Patton had to be relieved of his command for foolish incidents regarding the slapping of two “wounded” soldiers. He was regarded as a racist, a bigot, and an anti-Semite among his other attributes. General Mark Clark, the leader of the 5th Army in Italy had many detractors. But both he and Patton, who despised him because his mother was Jewish were liked by FDR. They both succeeded, despite intense criticism during and after the war.

As for French; the only two Generals who were not coopted by the Germans and dragooned into the Vichy Government were Henry Giraud, a total incompetent and Charles De Gaulle, a vain pompous ass. This famous quote was attributed to Churchill- “The hardest cross I have to bear is the Cross of Lorraine.” This remark referring to Charles de Gaulle was actually made by General Louis Spears, Churchill’s envoy to France. Film producer Alexander Korda asked Churchill in 1948 if he had made the remark, he replied, “No, I didn’t say it; but I’m sorry I didn’t, because it was quite witty … and so true!”

As for the British, aside from Churchill, they had really no leadership after Chamberlain, but another appeaser, Lord Halifax, who actually disliked America and Americans and was ironically made Britain’s Ambassador to the United States. Others like Beaverbrook were for sure not up to the task. With regards for the British Imperial Staff, no one would regard Field Marshall Alan Brooke as a far-ranging thinker.

FDR and Churchill and WWII Strategy!

Churchill attempted to direct and control President Roosevelt with regards to the direction of their joint effort. As Christmas approached, the United States was facing the unpleasant reality that the Philippines and MacArthur’s American and Filipino Forces on Bataan and Corregidor, were doomed to destruction as were the British possessions of Hong Kong, Malaya and their Singapore fortress. The Americans, with their Filipino allies, fought a delaying action in the Philippines, while a mixed American, British, Dutch, and Australian (ABDA) naval structure was set up to operate from Java in an attempt to hold the Japanese at the Malay Barrier. Given command of ABDA naval forces, Admiral Thomas Hart directed part of this defense into mid-February 1942.Eventually it had become quite evident that despite the brave ABDA sailors, the Japanese were not to be denied. The Japanese Navy was able to literally destroy the remaining Allied naval assets in, and around, the Java Sea and the India Ocean.

Therefore, as India was being threatened by massive Japanese naval assets in the Indian Ocean, two realities emerged. There were not enough Allied ships to counter their strength and India soldiers had almost no enthusiasm to defend India and their colonial status from the potential of a Japanese invasion. In fact, the British were seeing more and more evidence that their colonial armies were not willing to fight for the British Empire. FDR, a confirmed anti-colonialist understood this reality, despite Churchill’s inability to face the reality of the deteriorating situation in both the Middle and the Far East. FDR urged Churchill to promise India eventual self-rule or even the commonwealth status of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Churchill hated this option, danced around it, and delayed making a decision, until he almost was backed into a corner. He certainly was opposed to giving up any sovereignty in India, as he claimed that the subcontinent was not really a country, but a collection of princely states and contentious religions bodies: Hindus, Moslems and Sikhs among hundreds of others sects, who spoke many hundreds of dialects.

With that in mind, along with the existential threat to India, the British were apoplectic and were trying to insist that American intervene in the Indian Ocean. Of course, Americans did not have the assets to counter the Japanese. But, FDR initiated a bold plan that would eventually produce a remarkable chain of events. He wanted to strike back at the Japanese and change the whole defeatist attitude that was threatening to become pervasive in the post-Pearl Harbor America, and with our British allies. Roosevelt authorized the famed Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. The raid was planned, led by and named after Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces. FDR was able to turn the corner of defeat with one bold stroke.

It was also the first time, in more than a thousand years, that the Japanese home islands were attacked. It demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, and provided an important boost to American morale. Even though the results were almost miniscule, the political and strategic fallout was immense. The Japanese had never been attacked on their home islands, and with the knowledge that their air defenses were almost non-existent, they therefore, in an almost panic withdrew much of their naval assets from the Indian Ocean, to protect the Home Islands. The next consequence of this action was to assemble a massive fleet to strike back at America. Their aim was Midway Island. If they destroyed the American assets and presence on Midway, and occupied the island as a base, both the West Coast of America and Hawaii would be threatened. The Japanese never knew that American cryptographers had broken their naval and diplomatic codes (the Purple Codes) years before. When the speculation that Midway was confirmed as the target (the famous water desalination plant ruse) of this large Japanese force, of which some headed north to the Aleutian Islands, an American naval trap northeast of Midway was set. Of course, the rest is history.

With regards to WW II, Churchill’s strategy was basically no better than Chamberlain’s. Under his watch the British experienced disasters with the navy in Norway, the 8th Army in North Africa and its collapse at Tobruk, the insane and huge defeat and disaster in Singapore, (the worst and most costly British defeat in history), the disaster at Dunkerque, the catastrophic losses of the HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales off Hainan Island, near the Chinese mainland, the abandonment of Greece and Crete, the ill-fated attack at Dieppe, the alienation of the French and the subsequent defection of the French fleet, causing the need for it to be crippled by British naval action along with many others. He was lucky that the Nazis re-directed the Luftwaffe to bomb British cities and not go after their radar early warning stations, their aerodromes, and the British fighter defense. A smartly delivered strategy against these targets would have reduced the British to a position where their air cover became hopeless. One could say that Churchill’s greatest failure was his ego, his idea that he was a military expert, and his ability to choose the right people, for the right task.

With historical concern regarding Egypt and the Middle Eastern Command, Generals Claude Auchinleck and Archibald Wavell (both later appointed Field Marshalls) both failed miserably in North Africa, as did Wavell, who subsequently failed in Burma. General Bernard Law Montgomery (also later appointed a a Field Marshall) and the victor in the 2nd Battle of El Alamain, did not earn high marks for the slowness of his march up the Eastern side of Sicily, along with his command of British forces on the Adriatic side of Italy. Again, his failure at Market-Garden has been well-documented. His later inability to cross the Rhine River was exposed as a fruitless effort when the American Army took the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen and crossed the Rhine. Let us not forget Lord Louis Mountbatten planned disaster at Dieppe, which cause the Canadians thousands of casualties. Also let us not forget the folly of British Lt. General Neil Ritchie, “Tobruk ist gafallen!” The surrender of the British outpost, with 30,000 men, of Tobruk in Libya with nary a shot fired. Also in 1942 the surrender of the large garrison in Singapore by Lt. General Arthur Percival to a Japanese force less than one-half the size of his 80,000 man force. This was the largest surrender of British-led forces in history.

In retrospect, as the war would move on to its successful conclusion, Churchill did have some tactical and strategic successes aside from direct American help. Their victory at Taranto that devastated the Italian fleet, the sinking of the Graf Spee, the hunting down of the Bismarck, the destruction of ten German destroyers off Norway, his later policy supporting Orde Wingate and the Chindits in Burma, his mobilizing massive bombing raids over Germany, the destruction of the French dry docks at Saint Nazaire, and his selection of Montgomery to head the British 8th along with his subsequent victory at El Alamain were strong plusses. But even with the entrance of America into the war, later British strategy with Churchill’s blessing and interference led to the huge loses in Holland with the ill-fated Market-Garden assault on the Dutch bridges. Montgomery, Churchill’s greatest choice for leadership squandered his opportunity to cross the Rhine and was trumped by the American capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. That single event of intrepid work by American forces dealt a huge blow to German resistance on the Western front. While Montgomery was accumulating landing craft, the US Army was surging over the Rhine with men and armor, creating an unassailable bridgehead, and trapping German forces on the wrong side of the River.

Churchill was always given exceptionally high marks as an inspiring and eloquent orator before the war and during it. His ability to lead a beleaguered nation in its darkest hours can never be underrated. With that in mind, he has been awarded high marks for standing alone during the Blitz (German air attacks) and keeping up British morale despite the nightly bombings, the massive destruction and the battlefield reversals. He certainly deserved criticism for his endless micro-managing policy, interference with his generals, reversals in strategy and poor choice in military appointments. He even was very critical of his “star” appointment of General Montgomery. The victor at Alamein. Ironically, Montgomery wasn’t his first choice to command the 8th Army in Egypt.

His first selection was Lt. General Richard Gott, who killed in a plane crash. According to many of the veterans of that campaign, who were familiar with both men, they felt that Gott certainly would have lost the battle for control of Egypt, the Suez Canal and the oilfields of the Middle East. Churchill certainly opposed Operation Torch and wanted American men and material supporting Montgomery, was against Operation Anvil-Dragoon, the August, 1944 invasion of Southern France, in the days after the Normandy Invasion and the breakout into France.

The Prime Minister began to recognize the criticality and enormity of this undertaking, (the invasion of France) with regards to a complete recasting of the Allied war strategy, barely six months before the agreed launch date of Overlord. What a dilemma for Churchill and the whole Allied effort – months earlier, before the Quebec Conference (Quadrant) – the British were talking about the invasion of Northern France sometime in 1945 or even 1946! Even though the date for the invasion was tentatively established for May 1, 1944, in Churchill’s mind it was just a “scrap of paper.” He saw, if possible, the task of the Soviets would be of defeating the Nazis, without much contribution of the Western Allies. Where that would leave Europe seems to be an unanswerable question. But, of course, Churchill imagined the Allies would go north from the Aegean into Eastern Europe and defeat the Germans in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, before the Soviets even reached Poland. The realism of this incredible, fantasied, gambit was never in American consideration. Again, in Churchill’s mind, right up to Tehran, the agreement was nothing more than a piece of “lawyer’s paper” – as he put it, “a contract which Britain could simply decline to observe, or keep asking to defer, each moment, until the bill came due!” This was the existential problem that FDR and the American Joint Chiefs faced as their ship advanced on North Africa. But, in fact, they had no real clue to Churchill’s obstructionism, as they had no idea what was on his mind. Why liberate the Allies of Nazi Germany?

Of course, if FDR accepted Churchill’s “option” and the Soviets felt betrayed about a “real” Second Front, and worked out a separate peace, an entente-cordial, with Hitler, as opposed to more countless casualties, the US military was between a rock and a hard place – with no obvious way of breaking the deadlock. This is what would face FDR and his advisors as they approached the landing at Oran and his flights to Cairo and Tehran. On the HMS Renown, Churchill bounced his theories, disappointments, and angst off the very receptive Harold MacMillan (a future British Prime Minister), who was serving as the British political advisor to General Eisenhower. Churchill complained that no one listened to him and that his “military genius” was restrained by the Americans, almost like a “man whose hands were tied behind his back” Of course, as many historians have reported, his own Imperial War Staff, led by General (later Field Marshall) Alan Brooke, had grave doubts about his judgment and were constantly offended, and put out with his interference on matters of tactics. His judgement regarding commanders was also questionable. In fact, up to this time he had made numerous mistakes in personnel, dividing his forces, and not judging the strength of the enemy opposition in| the Far East, Burma and the Indian border, the Indian Ocean, ate Aegean, Dieppe, etc.

The British considered the Mediterranean as their sea, in the words of Mussolini and the old Roman adage, “Mere Nostrum!” thus as the HMS Renown safely reached Malta, where Churchill had a meeting with Lt. General Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, one could readily see that he had no real clue what he wanted to do, and General Alan Brooke, the head of the Imperial War Staff disagreed with almost all of his decisions, his blurred vision, and his mixed messages to Anthony Eden, his Foreign Minister, to Marshall Stalin and to the Americans.

Churchill was, on the surface, quite confidant in the upcoming preliminary meeting in Cairo – codenamed Sextant, which would include Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Roosevelt, after making a dangerous and heroic trip across the Atlantic, was able to land safely in Dakar and eventually fly to Tunis and then to Cairo. He met with Chiang Kai-Shek, made commitments to help China so they could fight the Japanese who controlled the whole East coast of China, cooperate with our American general Joseph Stillwell, and have the huge Chinese army trained and better armed. The British objected to this meeting. They assumed when the Japanese were beaten, the French would go right back to ruling their Indochinese colonies. Churchill never wanted the precedent of de-colonization to start with removal of the decadent French, who after 100 years of rule, left that forlorn part of the world, worse than when they occupied it. He saw the eventual loss of Hong Kong, Malaya, and India as a disaster that he would do all to prevent. Well it eventually happened and will the British ever fight for Hong King? Never!

This meeting would eventually accomplish very little, Churchill was very bitter at the scheduling of the meeting with the Chinese leader, because he felt China had nothing to do with the defeat of Germany. In fact, all the promises that Churchill grudgingly made with Roosevelt would eventually be reversed by Churchill. This duplicity promulgated by the British, would later reverberate with disastrous consequences. With the ultimate failure of Sextant and Churchill’s continual disappointment with the American position on OVERLORD.

Churchill had been vacillating over OVERLORD for months, as he found excuses to pursue his unsupported adventures in the Aegean. As for Churchill’s hopes for a quick advance to Rome, Pisa and the Tuscan Mountains they were running into tough opposition. Eventually as the Allies bogged down on the road to Rome, he grudgingly admitted things were not going his way, and he took no responsibility nor any shame at ignoring the difficulties of fighting in the mountainous eastern Mediterranean, where island by island German forces were methodically liquidating the surviving meager British forces that landed in the Aegean. It was the disastrous Battle of Crete, which the British had ignominiously lost in 1941, all over again. It seemed the Prime Minister never could re-learn the same lesson. He continued was pressuring President Roosevelt and his staff, including Eisenhower to postpone OVERLORD, and its timetable would hamstring the war in the Mediterranean and deprive the Allies of “great prizes!” What great prizes? What and how could more adventures in the Eastern Mediterranean be sustained? Where were the supplies to come from? In fact, barely six months from the invasion of Northern France, the whole OVERLORD concept was a theoretical undertaking in Churchill’s vision, while the Mediterranean Theater was real. He warned the President to put all of the Allied eggs in the Italian basket, not the cross-Channel gambit. One can understand without too much more explanation the angst the Field Marshall Brooke felt. He even wanted all the landing craft currently being moved to Britain for OVERLORD to be transferred to southern Italy. Aside from the Americans being astounded and alarmed, so was the British High Command.

Eventually, FDR finally was able to get his meeting with Stalin scheduled in Tehran the capital of Iran. Franklin D. Roosevelt finally gets the meeting he wants with Churchill and Stalin- the Big Three. He starts his incredible secret journey aboard the USS Iowa, our newest “super” battleship, captained by his former naval aid, Captain John McCrea. It will be a dangerous voyage in the South Atlantic crossing to Africa with all the members of the president’s top military staff, including General Marshall, the US Army Chief of Staff, Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, his own head of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral William Leahy, General Henry Arnold, head of the US Army Air Force and many others.

Of course, as it has been noted numerous times, the voyage was dangerous. There was always the threat regarding secrecy and security, regarding news leaks, the threat of land-based German long-range planes, new U-Boats which much more sophisticated weaponry, which had been updated by greater underwater staying power (the snorkel) and their highly secret new “smart” torpedoes. Ironically, during a ocean training session, a torpedo from an American vessel was launched by accident and headed dangerously close to the USS Iowa, where FDR and the American chiefs were traveling to the Mediterranean.

But, in reality what was really happening, was that after three days at sea, and in the “wake” of the missed torpedo, launched by an American escort, there was still the strategic crisis over the British attempt to insist on a long-delay of the proposed cross-channel (OVERLORD) invasion of Northern France. It seemed it was always about Churchill’s desire to redress his WWI failure at Gallipoli, which was an immense military disaster and cost him his job as First Lord of the Admiralty and his reputation for almost two decades, aside from his well-known failures as battlefield commander on the Western Front.

So, where was the world in November of 1943? FDR, finally, after one year of trying, was able to establish the critical meeting with Stalin, who before would never leave the Soviet Union for a number of reasons. He claimed, as the chief of their armed forces, he could never leave his direct command, he was extremely paranoid, possibly about assassination, had severe fear of flying any distance, among other personal excuses directed back to the president. The Allies were incredibly fearful about a separate German-Soviet peace. The British wanted to preserve their overseas empire, with American assistance (which was opposed by a vast majority of the American public and its leadership.) They certainly wanted to maintain their Mediterranean hegemony from Gibraltar in the West to Crete and Palestine in the East, Egypt in North Africa, with the Suez Canal, with its critical passageway to India, and their political influence over Greece and the Aegean.

As the Iowa headed for Oran, in North Africa, Churchill and his staff are heading from Britain on the HMS Renown, a World War I dreadnaught, to a similar port of call at Malta. The Prime Minister began to recognize the criticality and enormity of this undertaking, with regards to a complete recasting of the Allied war strategy, barely six months before the agreed launch date of OVERLORD. What a dilemma for Churchill and the whole Allied effort – months earlier, before the Quebec Conference (Quadrant) – the British were talking about the invasion of Northern France sometime in 1945 or even 1946! Even though the date for the invasion was tentatively established for May 1, 1944, in Churchill’s mind it was just a “scrap of paper.” He saw, if possible, the task of the Soviets would be of defeating the Nazis, without much contribution of the Western Allies. Where that would leave Europe seems to be an unanswerable question. But, of course, Churchill imagined the Allies would go north from the Aegean into Eastern Europe and defeat the Germans in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, before the Soviets even reached Poland. The realism of this incredible, fantasied, gambit was never in American consideration. Again in Churchill’s mind, right up to Tehran, the agreement was nothing more than a piece of “lawyer’s paper” – as he put it, “a contract which Britain could simply decline to observe, or keep asking to defer, each moment, until the bill came due!” This was the existential problem that FDR and the American Joint Chiefs faced as their ship advanced on North Africa. But, in fact, they had no real clue to Churchill’s obstructionism, as they had no idea what was on his mind.

In fact, what was on Churchill’s mind was his secret attempt to sabotage the whole cross Channel operation, known as OVERLORD, which was planned for May 1, 1944. He was plotting with his chiefs of staffs to subvert the agreements made two months earlier in Quebec. He later would totally omit this from six volume history of the war. Distinguished Cambridge historian, David Reynolds said that this was “one of the most blatant pieces of distortion in his six volume memoirs.” He constantly talked about invading the Dodecanese Islands, bringing Turkey into the war, dominating the Aegean Islands, and being then able to enter the Black Sea with the British Fleet and the aid of the Russians in all their recovery of the northern coast, the Crimea, etc. Of course, this was farcical on its face, and very close to re-living the disaster at Gallipoli in 1915.Of course, when he wasn’t getting his own way with his own staff, he threatened to resign on October 29, 1943.General Alan Brook noted in his diary, “had he gone mad!”

The question that FDR put to his advisors on November 15, 1943, – “aware that at the end of the day, there was no way to enforce the Quebec Agreement, if Churchill resigned (as he threatened to do before) or withdrew the British commitment to the military partnership for the May, of 1944 cross channel endeavor, the war against Hitler would be effectively lost. Of course, if FDR accepted Churchill’s “option” and the Soviets felt betrayed about a “real” Second Front, and worked out a separate peace, an entente-cordial, with Hitler, as opposed to more countless casualties, the US military was between a rock and a hard place – with no obvious way of breaking the deadlock. This is what would face FDR and his advisors as they approached the landing at Oran and his flights to Cairo and Tehran. On the HMS Renown, Churchill bounced his theories, disappointments, and angst off the very receptive Harold MacMillan (a future British Prime Minister), who was serving as the British political advisor to General Eisenhower.

Churchill complained that no one listened to him and that his “military genius” was restrained by the Americans, almost like a “man whose hands were tied behind his back” Of course, as many historians have reported, his own Imperial War Staff, led by General (later Field Marshall) Alan Brooke, had grave doubts about his judgment and were constantly offended, and put out with his interference on matters of tactics. His judgement regarding commanders was also questionable. In fact, up to this time he had made numerous mistakes in personnel, dividing his forces, and not judging the strength of the enemy opposition in| the Far East, Burma and the Indian border, the Indian Ocean, ate Aegean, Dieppe, etc.

Macmillan was a perfect sounding board for Churchill, he was classically educated, a bon vivant and an English social and intellectual snob, with his Eton and Oxford education. He by nature looked down his nose at the Americans and had seemingly forgotten the many failures the British had endured, and “began to feel not gratitude for the way the US had helped save Britain in 1942 for mounting Torch (the invasion of North Africa),” but instead a discernible resentment at the growing American economy and military might in the Mediterranean. Of course, the British considered the Mediterranean as their sea, in the words of Mussolini and the old Roman adage, “Mere Nostrum!” thus as the HMS Renown safely reached Malta, where Churchill had a meeting with Lt. General Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, one could readily see that he had no real clue what he wanted to do, and General Alan Brooke, the head of the Imperial War Staff disagreed with almost all of his decisions, his blurred vision, and his mixed messages to Anthony Eden, his Foreign Minister, to Marshall Stalin and to the Americans.

Churchill was, on the surface, quite confidant in the upcoming preliminary meeting in Cairo – codenamed Sextant, which would include Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Roosevelt, after making a dangerous and heroic trip across the Atlantic, was able to land safely in Dakar and eventually fly to Tunis and then to Cairo. He met with Chiang Kai-Shek, made commitments to help China so they could fight the Japanese who controlled the whole East coast of China, cooperate with our American general Joseph Stillwell, and have the huge Chinese army trained and better armed. The British objected to this meeting. They assumed when the Japanese were beaten, the French would go right back to ruling their Indochinese colonies. Churchill never wanted the precedent of de-colonization to start with removal of the decadent French, who after 100 years of rule, left that forlorn part of the world, worse than when they occupied it. He saw the eventual loss of Hong Kong, Malaya, and India as a disaster that he would do all to prevent. Well it eventually happened and would the British ever fight for Hong King? Never!

This meeting would eventually accomplish very little. In fact, Churchill was very bitter at the scheduling of the meeting with the Chinese leader, because he felt China had nothing to do with the defeat of Germany. Realistically, all the promises that Churchill grudgingly made with Roosevelt would eventually be reversed by Churchill. This duplicity promulgated by the British, would later reverberate with disastrous consequences. With the ultimate failure of Sextant and Churchill’s continual disappointment with the American position on OVERLORD.

Here in Tehran, the capital Iran, the most important conference of the 2nd World War, certainly of the first half of the 20th Century and possibly, the whole 20th Century, until our time, the fate of Europe and the world was decided by the Big Three. Led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who initiated this meeting and who led each session, Marshal Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union and commander of their armies and Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and their Minister of Defense, would decide the strategy that would either win the war, prolong it, or even be forced to “broker” a peace.

In this meeting, Churchill, who objected to American command of Europe even though we were supplying two thirds to three quarters of the men and material to the Western effort! Though we were also supporting the Soviet armies with 10 to 15% of their trucks (400,000), planes, ammunition, guns, and equipment via Lend Lease through a land route using Iran as a marshalling base and the deadly North Sea route to Murmansk and Archangel, Churchill still had to be convinced that the correct path to victory over Nazi Germany was through Northern France.

Churchill seemed to have no interest in that effort, may have actually believed that the Soviets and the Nazis would bleed each other to death, wanted to preserve the British Empire at all costs, and continued to have operations in the Aegean Sea, the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes, and points east to actuate an invasion of the Dardanelles, with the dream of enticing Turkey into the war on the Allied side. This was almost dissolution, bordering on irrational. He never abandoned the pipe dream of an effort to surge northward to liberate Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria from whom, I ask? They were allies of Germany! They needed liberation? What about the western democracies under the thumb of four years of Nazi occupation, featuring; looting, slave labor, tyranny and murder?

What was his purpose to fight in the mountainous terrain of Yugoslavia, and divert attention away from Overlord, the invasion of France? He even opposed the invasion of Southern France, planned under the code name Anvil. Later, when he was convinced of the need for the invasion of Southern France, at Marseilles, he had the code name changed to Anvil-Dragoon, because he was “dragooned” into the controversial, but most successful operation. Later, after D-Day, in August of 1944, naval operation and its subsequent landings would move the American armies up through the Rhone River Valley, under the overall command of Admiral Kent Hewitt and General Jacob Devers. The US Army’s VI Corps, led by Major General Lucian Truscott, would carry out the initial landing and be followed by the French Army B under command of Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. Accompanying the operation was a fully mobilized separate detachment called “Task Force Butler”, consisting of the bulk of the Allied tanks, tank destroyers, and mechanized infantry. Regarding the immensely successful invasion of Southern France and despite Hitler’s personal order that vital coastal enclaves were to be defended to the last man, reason started to penetrate into the minds of the German defenders. The main ground force for the operation was the US Seventh Army commanded by Lt. General Alexander Patch. At that critical juncture in the Southern France Campaign (Anvil), the German High Command began to re-evaluate its entire position in the west. By August 16, with many of their divisions in danger of annihilation, the German leaders elected to order a general withdrawal from France. German General Johannes Blaskowitz was to leave strong garrisons at Toulon, Marseille, and several key Atlantic ports. Those actions only served incrementally to delay the Allied advance.. Marseille fell in less than a week. This mission of the VII Corps, strongly aided and abetted by Free French resistant forces, started to move northward. Though their supply lines were being stretched thin, all Allied Anvil commanders nevertheless agreed that keeping the initiative was paramount. Allied forces, under General Jacob Dever’s 6th Army, part of the VII Corps continued to surge northward on the heels of the retreating Germans. Eventually they would link up with Eisenhower’s forces that were sweeping south in a wide arc to encircle German forces in the Falaise Gap — the hammer striking the anvil — to finally drive the Germans out of France. Despite Churchill’s fears, opposition and fruitless demands, the Anvil Forces overwhelmed the light German forces in what had been Vichy France, as it was then able to liberate most of Southern France.
This was another case of superior American strategy over Churchill’s continued expression of his self-importance regarding overall theories of the conduct of the war.

With regards to more of Churchill’s mistakes and his obsession with the Balkans, eventually, the Germans were driven out of Yugoslavia, with the help of the Allies, Tito and his Red-Star hatted Communists. They were triumphant as the (pro-American) Chetniks were defeated and their leader, Draz Mihailovich became a hunted man, with a price on his head. The Allies soon recognized their colossal error, with regards to Tito, but the main burden for that failed policy fell into the laps of the British and Churchill, who later admitted it was his greatest mistake. Frankly, he made many mistakes. The Soviets through their spies in Britain, later known as the Cambridge Five, were able to convince the Brits that the Chetniks were really pro- German and that Tito and his partisans were the force to completely support. After the war, eventually after 18 months or so, on the run, Draza Mihailovich was captured. He had many opportunities to escape, but seemed to be resigned to his fate. Maybe he felt that as long as he remained at-large in Yugoslavia, there was resistance to the Communists. He was captured, indicted and tried for treason and eventually executed.

Sunny Italy turns into Bloody Italy as the Churchillian Gambit turns sour!

Let all of us understand that the Italian Theater of combat came about for various reasons. One was that the Allies, assuredly America was not prepared for a cross-channel attack in 1942 or 1943, envisioned by American planners, like General Albert Wedemeyer, and foolishly agreed upon by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall, and head of the Navy Admiral Ernest King. Not only was America not logistically prepared, but its armies were not battle tested and they wouldn’t be until the hard fought campaign in North Africa, from the landings during Operation Torch through the defeat at the Kasserine Pass by the Afrika Korps to the final victory in Tunisia. The 2nd reason was that after the successful liberation of North Africa by the combined forces of Britain’s 8th Army, under the command of General Bernard Law Montgomery, which drove from Egypt and America’s VII Corps, commanded by General Eisenhower and spearheaded by Lt. General George C. Patton which drove from Morocco and Algiers eastward into Tunisia, there was no other choice that was sensible. Therefore, the next logical target was Sicily and the combined forces under Patton and Montgomery quickly secured the island after their successful landings, beachheads, and thrusts northward. Prime Minister Churchill, acting also as Britain’s Defense Minister even wanted invasions of Corsica and Sardinia, which were totally unnecessary. The British, with Churchill at the lead, never wanted a cross-Channel invasion and as I have demonstrated would rather have ventured further east into Rhodes and Greece. Generally speaking, it was finally agreed upon to invade Italy from the south with Montgomery crossing the straits of Messina and the American 5th Army, under Lt. General Mark Clark invading at Salerno, not far from Naples. Thus, this satisfied Churchill’s quest to attack the soft-belly of the Axis somewhere. Unfortunately, from then on almost all went wrong. The soft-belly of Italy was not soft, and British gambits in the Eastern Mediterranean were a disaster.

This set the stage for another Churchill gambit. He desperately wanted to concentrate on capturing Rome and to surge northward with an idea that he could circumvent the Alps to invade Germany, which no one in history was ever to accomplish. Did he care about the hundreds of thousands of allied causalities in the mountainous territory of Italy? Were his arguments ever sincere? That is the question. Of course, he wrote the history (a six volume set, winning himself the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953) and said he “would bury his mistakes,’ which were legion! In fact, his history was forced by law to omit the reality of ULTRA, the breaking of the German Code, and his omissions of critical issues were historically insincere and frankly terribly inaccurate.

But, what of that gambit? In truth, the disaster of Italy could be summed up in one word, “Anzio, – Operation “Shingle.” It proved as General Eisenhower and Secretary Stimson had predicted and feared, a calamity. The 43,000 Allied casualties on the beaches of Anzio and the surrounding hills, over the next 4.5 months, included over 7000 who died there would be a terrible indictment of General Brooke’s support of the latest Churchill flawed strategy, but most of all his impetuosity and shallowness. In reality, Churchill’s autocratic and often wild behavior seemed to General Brooke to be substantially worse than ever in November, 1943, when Brooke had despaired of having to work with such an impossible Commander in Chief. As of mid-January, 1944, Brooke wrote in his diary that he could not “stand more of it, ”After 4 hours of meetings with Churchill.. “In all his plans he lives hand to mouth, he can never grasp a whole plan, either in its width or its depth.” He added, “His method is entirely opportunistic, gathering one flower her another there! My God how tired I am of working with him.”

The campaign in Italy went from bad to worse- no less than three bloody battle were fought at the foothills of Monte Cassino, with little or no results as the stranded forces at Anzio could not linkup with General Clark’s forces. Italy was, as Admiral William Leahy, FDR’s person Chief of Staff had predicted, a disaster. This was the “soft under-belly of the Axis?” Anzio was, in short, a mess, a catastrophe as Rome was still as far away as ever. This caused the shaken Prime Minister to plead for an emergency meeting with the President and the American chiefs of staff in the United States of the Bahamas. Because Roosevelt’s lingering bronchitis, it would never happen.

More problems would ensue between Churchill and the British chiefs of staff. In fact it would get much worse. By March of 1944, the entire British Chiefs were on the point of resignation! To Brooke, Churchill “has lost all balance and is in a very dangerous mood!”

Aside from the immediate problems caused by Churchill and the British command of the Mediterranean Theater, President Roosevelt, who received tremendous support from Marshall Stalin, felt that Stalin knew for sure more about military strategy than Churchill. FDR pointed out all the pitfalls regarding Turkey, the Aegean and the so-called worthlessness of attacking the so-called “soft under belly” of the Axis. For sure again, Italy was no “soft belly!” Why was the attack and occupation of Rhodes so important to Churchill? Where would that lead? In fact, the British were just thrown out of that region by strong German defenses and counter attacks. He seemed to have forgotten the British failures in Crete, Greece including 1940 and the later ones in 1943, in the Peloponnese, the Dodecanese region, along with the islands of Leros and Rhodes. And the question remains, what was Churchill’s ideas and was he even sincere about invading France even in 1945 or 1946?

Roosevelt was insisting on the American command of the cross channel invasion of France. He intimated that it would be the well-respected General George C, Marshall, the current US Chief of Staff. This was approved by Stalin and Churchill, but the British Prime Minister, who wanted British command of all of Europe, insisted that if the Americans commanded the Overlord Operation the British would command the Mediterranean. Of course, this would be his chance to divert forces back to the Aegean. This compromise, would lead to the backtracking of aid to China, a cancelling of Operation Buccaneer, the invasion of Andaman Islands, which caused the Chinese leadership to lose faith in American and allied support. The Nationalist Chinese thus focused their forces on the communists and Mao Zedong, who controlled northwest China. This turned out to be long-term disaster for China, Indochina, and the immediate postwar future of Southern Asia.

In the end, it was not Marshall who would command SHAEF and OVERLORD. It would be Eisenhower. The conventional wisdom was that Marshall would go to London and Eisenhower to the Pentagon as the new Chief of Staff. Of course, for many reasons this was never going to happen. FDR never really wanted Marshall out of Washington and the United States.Harry Hopkins, as FDR’s emissary, asked Marshall which he wanted, to remain Chief of Staff or the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force?

Marshall answered that he would serve the President in any role, with cheerful enthusiasm that the President wished. This was typical of Marshal and FDR saw that he would not make a “personal” commitment!” No one knows what was on FDR’s mind about Marshall’s future role. But, this enabled him to choose Eisenhower. He finessed Britain with the specter of Marshall as the Supreme Commander and he finally choose the most experienced officer in the field, General Eisenhower, who commanded American troops in North Africa and Sicily! In fact, FDR had consulted the aged General John J. Pershing, who knew and respected Marshall, but warned against his appointment.

Churchill, in the continued wake of his disappointments after the conferences at Casablanca, Quebec, etc., continued to fester over the thwarting of his desires to attack, up and through, the Aegean area all the way to the Dardanelles. He never seemed to come to the realization that these adventures were to never happen, no less succeed. In the meantime, the campaign in Italy had slowed down dramatically, the difficult terrain benefitted the defending German army, and the casualties were mounting at an alarming rate. The American command, and especially, FDR never saw the conquest of Italy as a strategic lynch pin for success. They were happy to have German divisions diverted from the Eastern Front with the Soviets and, thus have their manpower and supplies drained. For sure, the liberation of Rome was not a strategic objective, needed at all costs. Almost immediately, as Eisenhower relinquished command of the Mediterranean sector to the British, Churchill pushed for another invasion, up the boot of Italy at Anzio, which turned out to be another military quagmire, with the great loss of both American and British lives.

As Eisenhower was later to recall, “It was difficult to escape the feeling that Mr. Churchill’s views were colored” by considerations “outside the scope of the immediate military problem,” that the Prime Minister was all too, interested in personal objectives, and happy to disregard the military challenges involved, when it suited him. It seemed to Eisenhower that Churchill preferred to focus on British political needs, even personal prizes of low-hanging “fruits” dangling before him in his capacious mind. When “fired up about a strategic project, logistics (maybe reality) did not exist for him. Eisenhower reflected, about Churchill that “Combat troops just floated forward and around obstacles – nothing was difficult.”

Once again, Churchill’s interference with the goals of Tehran proved costly to allied efforts with regards to blood and treasure. Eventually, with the August invasion of Marseilles, in the Anvil-Dragoon Operation, Churchill was proven quite incorrect. He, even in one of his more lucid moments, admitted it was his greatest mistakes. Unfortunately, throughout the war, there were many, “greatest mistakes” from Norway, to Singapore, to Tobruk, to Anzio, and his operation to the southern invasion of France.

The most remarkable consequence of his actions was that General Brooke, Chief of the Imperial Army and his staff didn’t resign en masse regarding Churchill’s interference, inconstancies, casting of blame, and ranting diatribes, In fact, after the war all of their diaries supported their concerns about Churchill’s stability. Did this ever happen with Roosevelt, his staff, his war cabinet or anyone around him? No!

The End Game, OVERLORD and the Long Sought and Anticipated Invasion of Northern France!

Of course, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, all the arguments ended, the hand-wringing and doubts were superfluous. The beachhead was secured, eventually there was the anticipated Breakout and the earlier mentioned invasion of Southern France, Operation Anvil-Dragoon, proved a brilliant success. Roosevelt and the American planners were right. The VII Corps and the 6th and 7th US Armies moved up the Loire Valley, cut through Vichy, France and eventually linked up with General Patton’s 3rd Army as the Germans were in a general retreat from France.

The question over Churchill’s competence echoed through the British Imperial War Staff. Churchill was not immune to the stress and ravages of age and his consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. After Tehran, Churchill had collapsed in Tunis and reports had surfaced that he had died. Of course, the reports were unfounded, but he was seriously ill. But, with that reality in mind, many were speculating whether he could continue to serve as Prime Minister. Churchill had suffered other health setbacks, including mild heart attacks and bout with the flu and pneumonia, including in the days after his late December, 1941, visit to the White House. In the midst of FDR’s latest health crisis, Churchill rapidly recovered from pneumonia and atrial fibrillation.

Therefore, by September of 1944, another meeting between FDR and Churchill had become superfluous and redundant. There was no way that the ailing President Roosevelt was going to meet Churchill in Scotland or almost anywhere else, except in North America, especially in the midst of the presidential campaign. As the time for the next Quebec Conference approached, both western leaders were seriously ill. On the voyage west to meet with their American colleagues on the Combined Chiefs of Staff committee, at the Chateau de Frontenac, Churchill was quite impossible to argue with. Field Marshall Brooke later recalled, “It was a ghastly time which I carried away the bitterest of memories!” Churchill felt the same about his top two commanders, Brooke and Admiral Andrew Cunningham.

Thus, to sum up the Quebec Conference with regards to Churchill’s speech to the gathered fourteen chiefs and their staffs, his objectives regarding Vienna and Singapore were totally dismissed out of hand, as FDR punctured all of his trial balloons. FDR doubted that the Germans or the Japanese were about to fold.

The Japanese were beyond fanatical and suicidal on Saipan and the Germans eventually would retreat behind the wide Rhine River. He also predicted that there would be another huge German offensive in the West. Eventually he was proven right as the Germans attacked in the Ardennes, known historically as the Battle of the Bulge. As for fortress Singapore, FDR for sure didn’t want to attack fortified positions with the high resultant casualties, unless the position had strategic importance. Singapore had no strategic importance and he recommended that it be isolated from the north with an effort in the Malay Peninsula.

Churchill still wanted to reach Vienna from the Adriatic and he was coming to Quebec, with hat in hand, to solely obtain 20 landing ships to carry out an operation against Istria (a peninsular in the Adriatic) to seize Trieste. No matter what the British Staff reacted up against Churchill’s futile protestations, their objections went to “dead and deaf” ears! “Was Churchill then mad,” Brooke wondered or “perhaps ill?”

The next day of the voyage, Churchill’s fever increased and he became increasingly worse. Field Marshal Brooke recorded in his diary. “He knows no details, has only half the picture in his mind, talks absurdities and makes my blood boil to listen to his nonsense!”

Brooke also wrote, “I find it hard to remain civil,” and he continued, “The wonderful thing is that three-quarters of the population of the world imagines that Winston Churchill is one of the great strategists of history, a second Marlborough and the other one-quarter have no conception what a public menace he is and has been throughout the war!” Of course, FDR, in the midst of the presidential campaign, was a shadow of his former self, who was trying to end the war without more unnecessary, further bloodshed. He wasn’t looking for more “side shows” or gambits to satiate more imperial desires of Churchill. His objective was to defeat Germany, get the United Nations concept in place, and secure the peace.

Therefore, the critical Big Three meeting, known as the Yalta Conference was scheduled for the Crimea. The USS Quincy, a heavy cruiser, and a sister ship to the USS Baltimore, carried FDR on his last overseas odyssey to Yalta. He was accompanied by his daughter Anna, and a small entourage on board, which included his Chief of Staff Admiral Leahy, his Director of War Mobilization, former US Supreme Court Justice James (Jimmy) F. Byrnes, his Press Secretary Steve Early, his political advisor Ed Flynn, from the Bronx, his naval and military aides, his two doctors and three officers from the White House map room.

On January 31, 1945 as they passed into the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, they celebrated FDR’s 63rd birthday, one day earlier. On February 2nd they entered into the Grand Harbor at Valletta, Malta and disembarked. All of bomb ravaged Malta was out to greet him along with Ambassador Harriman, Harry Hopkins, his personal assistant, and Anthony Eden. Ed Flynn remarked, “It was quite an emotional moment!” One could just imagine how this small island, which endured 1000 air raids welcomed this great leader of the United Nations and the Western Allies.

After their stay in Malta, he and his intimate team, bordered a newly furbished C-54, the latest, newly equipped version of his plane, the “Sacred Cow.” (An early version of Air Force One). The plane was screened by six fighter planes and escorted to Russia.

Churchill, from his perspective, according to Harry Hopkins, dreaded the conference and despised the location. But, since Churchill had flown to meet personally with Stalin in Moscow, he wasn’t going to be left out of this conference. As damaged as Yalta was by the Nazis invaders and looters, who even took out the piping in most of the buildings, including the summer residence of the former Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. The Livadia Palace, was meticulously restored and rehabilitated by the Russians. Frankly, it was in excellent condition.

In the last few months of his life FDR struggled to balance the interests of the West, the special relationship with Great Britain, and the criticality of building trust with the Soviet Union and their leader Josef Stalin. He understood the anxiety of the Russians; their fear of the rise of German militarism in the future, and he also knew that the Soviets feared a united Western Alliance, bent on their destruction. He envisioned a Big Four, comprised of the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the emerging China, which would keep the peace, work for decolonization, and build understanding between competing economic and social systems. He understood the dynamic of nationalism and he also understood clearly that the Soviet Union was in control of Eastern Europe and that they would not easily give up their hard earned, with blood and treasure, buffer. He certainly didn’t believe it was in America’s interest to fight a 3rd World War over Poland’s sovereignty. Despite the opinion of his conservative critics, FDR was quite aware of what he was doing at Yalta. He tried to build confidence in Stalin, by showing him that the West was not in monolithic lockstep. He did annoy Churchill, who couldn’t understand his tactic, and it was basically the British who criticized his health and attentiveness. Almost all the others did not see FDR as the “weak sister” of the conference. He was for sure the leader of the Big Three and he also understood the reality of “Russian boots on the ground.” During his later address to a Joint Session of Congress he addressed that reality. There were few who could disagree with his evaluation.

But, in truth, it was only FDR who could have handled the post-war dilemma regarding peace or potential Cold War. As for Yalta, FDR comported himself quite well, and all the revisionist right-wing fiction can’t change the facts.

We could not have won the war without Stalin or the Soviet Red Army. They had 10+ million soldiers on the Eastern Front, they distrusted the Western Allies’ sincerity, especially Churchill, who had little clue how to lead a peace-time nation. The Soviets feared a resurrected Germany, and its partition was well justified. Unfortunately, because of the ensuing Cold War, Germany escaped greater and more deserved draconian punishment. At least in the Soviet Zone they suffered more deservedly then in the three Western Occupation Zones.

The great reason for the failed peace was the death of FDR, because he was the only one with the skills and prestige to lead the West and insure the peace. Truman did as best as he could, considering his inexperience and poor advice. As to the West, its fear of communism obfuscated the crimes of the Fascists, Nazis and the other Eastern European strongmen, who brutalized Germany, Italy and all the countries east of the Oder-Niese. The dictators of Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania were not democratically inclined and Poland was run by a military junta. FDR was not going to commit the US to go to war over Poland and he had stated that the Russians and Poles had hated each other for centuries and they both had blood on their hands. Poland was the “trip wire” with regards to Britain and France. They had no special allegiance to Poland and their treaties were signed to draw the line, with regards to German aggression. As for the Soviet Union, they were making geo political deals to survive no differently than the West. With Stalin, he was just another in a long line of oligarchs who had run Russia forever. The crimes of the Romanov’s, which had lasted 400 years, were not much different than the Bourbons of France and the other royal dynasties that disappeared in Austria and Spain. As Napoleon sagely said, “The victors write the history.” In the same sense, that the Soviets and the Russian people, after hundreds of years of oppression, turned to another system and, for better or worse, supported it. Was Churchill more aware of the threat of the Soviet Union than Roosevelt, or was a healthy FDR much more capable of handling Stalin, the Soviet Union, and encouraging their trust in the West? That is the eternal question.
For sure, Churchill’s vast mistakes in strategy were mostly a consequence of an inflated ego and a self-belief that he was an unequalled military genius, a mid-2th Century Carl von Clausewitz.

Churchill was a great man, with unparalleled oratorical skills, a polished writer, a wonderful artist, but understandably was most interested in preserving the British Empire. He stated it! Long-time, Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King, when comparing President Roosevelt and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, he wrote in his dairy, “Churchill has been raised up to meet the need of the day in the realm of war, to fight, with the power of the sword, the brute beasts that would devour their fellow men in the lust for power.” He also added, “Roosevelt might not be a greater man as an orator, or military ‘genius’; nevertheless he was a greater man!”

Of course, Prime Minister King was a dear friend of FDR, and he stated, “The President has overtaxed his strengths in other ways (than Churchill’s drinking). His fight for the people has made him many and bitter enemies!” As a consequence of his long political leadership from being the Governor of New York during the early days of the Great Depression, along with his long social, economic and political leadership of America from 1933 through the attack on Pearl Harbor, “he has been sincere in his determination to better the conditions of the masses, he is more human than Churchill!”

FDR never anticipated his own death and no matter how much he would have brought Vice-President Truman into the councils of his own thoughts and strategy, he could not guide Truman’s hand from the grave. Truman, with all of his limitations, turned out to be a strong and resolute chief executive. Of course, Averill Harriman and the other “Cold Warrior” hardliners won the day, but ironically both he and George Kennan reversed their thinking on reengaging with the Moscow.

In the words of Professor Frank Costigliola, author of FDR and the Lost Alliances, “It was Harriman, who had worked most tirelessly to distort and undo Roosevelt’s vision, who later paid the most poignant testimony to his wartime boss. Harriman later stated, “FDR was basically right in thinking he could make progress by personal relations with Stalin… The Russians were utterly convinced that the change came as result of the shift from Roosevelt to Truman.” Harriman added, “If Roosevelt had lived with full vigor, it’s very hard to say what could have happened because – Roosevelt could lead the world.”

Of course FDR’s death, like Lincoln’s almost exactly eighty years earlier had proven to be a disaster for America. Great leadership is not easy to develop. Truman, though an excellent president, who history has treated quite kindly, could not fill the Seven League boots of his great predecessor.

THE NEW DEAL SOCIAL and ECONOMIC CHANGE Lecture at the JCC of The Hudson 1933-1939 Richard J. Garfunkel February 14, 2011

Hello, my name is Richard J. Garfunkel and I want to thank Linda Paver for inviting me once again to the JCC of the Hudson. I am happy to be back here once again.  For those of you who have not met or heard me before, I have been talking, writing about FDR and collecting his memorabilia for more than 40 years. I have been associated with the FDR Library and Museum and have been a member of the Roosevelt Institute for many years and I host a radio show on WVOX Radio called The Advocates.  I have had the pleasure of broadcasting over 20 shows over the years that have featured authors, experts, and people from Hyde Park; including William vanden Heuval and the Director Ms. Cynthia Koch.

The subject of the Great Depression, FDR and his New Deal is a profound one that has engaged million of Americans in thought since those dark days in and around FDR’s First Inaugural on March 4, 1933.

 Today I will try to consolidate the massive amount of material on the causes of the Crash, the rise of FDR and his New Deal in the next 25 minutes and I know we will have some time for questions!

First of all let me mention some of the myths about the New Deal and the Great Depression!

  • The New Deal extended the Depression
  • The New Deal made a Recession into a Depression
  • Unemployment did not go down significantly
  • Growth did not increase
  • The New Deal did not accomplish anything
  • The New Deal  opened the door to socialism
  • There was a great deal of waste and corruption

To frame those thoughts in today’s lexicon, I have in front of me an apology from a Republican Congressman Steven Austin, who stated not too long ago, that he conceded that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not cause the Great Depression. I am glad to hear that one of our newly minted representatives has finally read a book or two and some dispassionate history. With all that in mind…

  The Crash 1929 and Its Aftermath

  1. The economy 1919-29
  2. The boom after WWI
  3. Growth of National Income in the early 1920’s
  4. WWI debt owed to the United States by the Allies
  5. Recurring business cycle

After the war, while Western Europe was suffering from a lack of food and fuel, American mines, farms, railroads, and shipping created a false economic bubble that started to end when Europe once again became self-sufficient. In that period, farms couldn’t grow enough food for needy Europe mouths, and between coal and grain shipments the railroads were booming. But there were economic rumblings being heard and even though there was a return to the pre-war wealth, there would be great change stirring in the wind. Did President Calvin Coolidge, who seemed to hate government, and sleep away his afternoons at the White House really care? There many warnings, and in the in the words of Alan Greenspan, an atmosphere of “irrational exuberance.” Author Kennedy even believes that the low unemployment figures for that period were way over –stated. The collapse of pre-war Europe and the economic balance of employment and trade sowed the seeds for a future world-wide economic meltdown.

  1. The Stock Market Collapse of 1929
  2. Overvalued stocks
  3. Margin debt owed to brokers
  4. Stock Market value in 1932; 17% of Sept ’29 value
  5. Reduced consumer spending
  6. Over-saturated automobile market
  7. Reduction of immigration- reduced housing

Before the Crash of 1929, more wealth was in the hands of fewer people then any other period in our long history. Unrestricted capitalism led to wild speculation in the market places, an eventual credit crunch, and since we didn’t believe in “safety nets” or entitlements, the ensuing collapse devastated our social order. In Arthur M. Schlesinger Junior’s great works, on that period, which include The Crisis of the Old Order, and the Coming of the New Deal much of this history is accurately reported and eloquently described.

The Dow Jones Average had hit a high of on September 3, 1929, at 381.17. The market had been a bit shaky throughout the fall. Richard Whitney (1888-1974), who had graduated from Groton and Harvard, as did Franklin D. Roosevelt, but was admitted to Pocellian, unlike the late President, was a Wall Street legend. He was a member of the New York Stock Exchange at age twenty-three, was elected to the Board of Governors at thirty-one, and was the head of his own investment company. He was the mirror of the “old guard” of the New York Stock Exchange, which was a loose group of wealthy investors who crafted and guided its direction and destiny. As the leader of this group and at that time in the fall of 1929, he was a Vice-President of the Exchange and its acting President. At the beginning of the Panic on “Black Thursday”, October 24, 1929, he moved on the floor in the midst of the selling frenzy, and placed huge orders in an attempt to bring confidence back to the marketplace and to try to stem the avalanche of selling. He placed an order for 10,000 shares of US Steel at 205, which was 40 points above its current selling price. He also placed other orders for his group in a number of other blue-chip stocks. These orders were estimated to be in the range of $20 million. No one in history had ever spent that type of money in a single afternoon. Of course since he was associated with the House of Morgan, many traders assumed that Morgan was behind such incredible action. This legendary effort seemed to work for a while, and the market, which had dropped precipitously, seemed to take pause. That day over 12.9 million shares had changed hands and the market had lost an incredible amount of its value. Over the weekend investors thought over the situation and decided to sell their holdings and the market absorbed a record 13% loss in value.

This set the stage for its ultimate collapse. On “Black Tuesday”, October 29, 1929 the selling reached a historically un-reached crescendo. The losses were incredible and with record 16.4 million shares traded, the market lost another 12%. The market crash had wiped out an incredible amount of wealth. It would eventually bottom out at 41.22 on July 8, 1932 to a level not seen since the 1800’s. By April of 1942 it would have lost 75% of its 1929 value and the Dow Jones Industrial Average would not recover to its 1929 levels until November of 1954.

The Depression

  1. Collapse of raw material prices
  2. Decline of exports
  3. Collapse of German economy
  4. The Smoot-Hawley protective tariff
  5. Retaliatory foreign tariffs and trade restrictions
  6. British withdrawal from the Gold Standard
  7. Liquidity crisis over the Federal Reserve’s policies

The panic and collapse of the economy, brought on by the crash resulted in a massive deflation that President Herbert Hoover called the “Depression.” The New Deal, authored by Franklin D. Roosevelt, stopped the bleeding, but because of the severity of the collapse it could never resurrect the artificially inflated, halcyon days of the 1920’s. Of course present day business -oriented “talking heads” like to say that the New Deal prolonged the slump. Of course they have conveniently forgotten that the 1920’s made the “Techie Bubble” of 2000 look like a walk in the park.

Many seem to have forgotten or have totally ignored the disaster that we faced in 1933. After three and one-half long years of inaction from the Hoover Administration that left us an enduring and unending legacy of breadlines, shanty towns (Hooverville’s), hobos riding the rails, abandoned farms, beggars, apple selling retailers on the streets, unemployment in the tens of millions, social unrest, starvation, and a net loss of population, as more left America then immigrated, we were mired in an economic situation unlike any in history.

The Aftermath 1929-32

  1. Business Failures per 100,000 concerns
  2. 1928 -109
  3. 1929- 104
  4. 1930- 122
  5. 1931- 133
  6. 1932- 154
  7. 1933- 100
  8. 1934- 61
  9. 1935- 62

Gross Nation Product (Goods and Services of U.S.A.)

  1. 1929- 103.8 Billion
  2. 1930- 90.7
  3. 1931- 75.9
  4. 1932- 58.3
  5. 1933- 55.8
  6. 1934- 64.9
  7. 1935- 72.2
  8. 1936- 82.5
  9. 1937- 90.4
  10. 1938- 84.7
  11. 1939- 90.5
  12. 1940- 99.7
  13. 1941- 124.5

The size of the economic cataclysm is almost hard to perceive. Even though the Department of Commerce listed unemployment at 25% many estimates believe it ranged as high as 36% and the most likely number is probably a bit above 30%. The amount of new capital financing had declined 95% since 1929. The amount of new building contracts had declined by at least 75% in those same years. The Dow Jones Average was off 90% since its high in late 1929, and there were 5000 bank closings since the crash, which eliminated nine million, pre FDIC uninsured accounts. US Steel, which had almost a quarter of a million full-time employees in 1929, now employed no one but executives. Schools in major cities and some states virtually shut down for lack of money. In the first half of 1933, 250,000 homes were taken over by the banks, and over 1000 families per day were cast homeless into the streets. This is what Franklin Roosevelt inherited on March 4, 1933.

By 1933, business failures had risen almost 50% from the end of 1928 (109 to 154 per hundred thousand). From 1933 to 1935, only two years they dropped to almost 40% from the 1928 levels (62 to 109 per thousand). Unemployment rose from 3% in 1929 to 25% in 1933. From 1933 through 1937 unemployment dropped 44% to 14%. This figure did not include over 2 million workers employed by the WPA. As to the Gross National Product, by 1933 it had dropped from $103.6 billion in 1929 to $56.4 billion in 1933. This represented a loss of 44% of the total goods and services of the country in 3 years. In FDR’s first administration it rose approximately 64% to $92 billion. By 1940, with defense spending still only 22 % of the federal budget (from 1928 through1932, defense spending represented an average of 38% of the US Budget), and 2% of the GNP, the GNP had risen to $101.4 billion or 4% higher than 1928!  Because of the New Deal, hourly wages which had dropped from 58 cents per hour in 1928 to 49 cents for hour in 1933 (a drop of approximately 25%) rose 74 cents per hour in 1940. This represented a strong recovery of 28% from 1928. These figures are undeniable.

  • The Social Atmosphere
  • National Conditions:
  1. Vast unemployment
  2. Collapse of commodity prices
  3. Failure of the farms
  4. Immigration from the farms to the Coasts
  5. Breadlines
  6. Bank failures
  7. Social unrest
  8. Political Consequences
  9. Shift in power
  10. 1860-1932 GOP the dominant party
  11. Controlled the Senate for 62 years
  12. Controlled the House for 46 years
  13. Two Democratic Presidents (16 years) Cleveland

FDR took bold decisive action in the Hundred Days, and fifteen pieces of major legislation passed. The hemorrhaging of the banking crisis ceased, stability was brought back to the market places, and the NRA which came out of the National Recovery Act was the first of many regulatory efforts which would eventually include, the SEC, the AAA, the CCC, the PWA and the WPA.

On May 7, 1933, Roosevelt extolled the CCC in a fireside address on the radio:

“First, we are giving opportunity of employment to one-quarter of a million of the unemployed, especially the young men who have dependents, to go into the forestry and flood prevention work. This is a big task because it means feeding, clothing and caring for nearly twice as many men as we have in the regular army itself. In creating this civilian conservation corps we are killing two birds with one stone. We are clearly enhancing the value of our natural resources and second, we are relieving an appreciable amount of actual distress.”

The goal of the WPA was to employ most of the unemployed people on relief until the economy recovered. Its administrator, Harry Hopkins testified to Congress in January 1935 why he set the number at 3.5 million, using FERA data. At $1200 per worker per year he asked for and received $4 billion.

“On January 1 there were 20 million persons on relief in the United States. Of these, 8.3 million were children under sixteen years of age; 3.8 million were persons who, though between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five were neither working nor seeking work. These included housewives, students in school, and incapacitated persons. Another 750,000 were persons sixty- five years of age or over. Thus, of the total of 20 million persons then receiving relief, 12.85 million were not considered eligible for employment. This left a total of 7.15 million presumably employable persons between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five inclusive. Of these, however, 1.65 million were said to be farm operators or persons who had some non-relief employment, while another 350,000 were, despite the fact that they were already employed or seeking work, considered incapacitated. Deducting this two million from the total of 7.15 million, there remained 5.15 million persons sixteen to sixty-five years of age, unemployed, looking for work, and able to work. Because of the assumption that only one worker per family would be permitted to work under the proposed program, this total of 5.15 million was further reduced by 1.6 million–the estimated number of workers who were members of families which included two or more employable persons. Thus, there remained a net total of 3.55 million workers in as many households for whom jobs were to be provided.”

The WPA employed a maximum of 3.3 million in November 1938. Worker pay was based on three factors: the region of the country, the degree of urbanization and the individual’s skill. It varied from $19/month to $94/month. The goal was to pay the local prevailing wage, but to limit a person to 30 hours or less a week of work.

As to the great Harry Hopkins, later in his illustrious career he served as FDR’s special ambassador during World War II. On his initial visit to war-torn Britain in early January of 1941, he met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to discuss Lend-Lease aid. At the end of Hopkins’ tour of Britain with the Prime Minister they ate dinner at the Station Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. Churchill drew out Hopkins with praise for Roosevelt and a reference to “the Democracy of the great American Republic.” Hopkins, who was quite ill from the affects of the long-grueling trip and his own weakened constitution sat for a moment after Churchill’s remarks, and the rose to face the Prime Minister.

“I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return.” In his soft-measured voice, “Well I ‘m going to quote you one verse from the Book of Books in the truth of which Mr. Johnson  (Tom Johnson, the secretary of state for Scotland and a member of the party) and my own Scottish mother were brought up: ‘Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, the God my God.’” The dropping his voice, he added, “Even to the end.” No one could have said it better. Churchill sat with tears in his eyes.

This vignette reveals just a fragment of what made up the great Harry Hopkins, who was one of FDR’s greatest New Deal lieutenants.

The National Industrial Recovery Act on June 16, 1933, created the Public Works Administration (PWA) and budgeted several billion dollars to be spent on the construction of public works as a means of providing employment, stabilizing purchasing power, improving public welfare, and contributing to a revival of American industry. Simply put, it was designed to spend “big bucks on big projects.”

Under the leadership of Harold W. Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior, the PWA epitomized the Rooseveltian notion of “priming the pump” to encourage economic growth. Between July 1933 and March 1939, the PWA funded the construction of more than 34,000 projects, including airports, electricity-generating dams, and aircraft carriers; and seventy percent of the new schools and one third of the hospitals built during that time. It also electrified the Pennsylvania Railroad between New York and Washington, D.C. Its one big failure was in quality, affordable housing, building only 25,000 units in four and a half years. It provided the federal government with its first systematic network for the distribution of funds to localities, ensured that conservation would remain an element in the national discussion, and provided federal administrators with a broad amount of badly needed experience in public policy planning.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as president, he appointed Henry Wallace as his Secretary of Agriculture. In 1933 Wallace drafted the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA).

The AAA paid farmers not to grow crops and not to produce dairy produce such as milk and butter. It also paid them not to raise pigs and lambs. The money to pay the farmers for cutting back production of about 30% was raised by a tax on companies that bought the farm products and processed them into food and clothing. The AAA also became involved in trying to help farmers destroyed by the creation of the dust-bowl in 1934. By the time the Agricultural Adjustment Administration began its operations, the agricultural season for many crops was already under way.

The agency oversaw a large-scale destruction of existing cotton crops and livestock in an attempt to reduce surpluses. No other crops or animals were affected in 1933, but six million piglets and 220,000 pregnant cows were slaughtered in the AAA’s effort to raise prices. Many cotton farmers plowed under a quarter of their crop in accordance with the AAA’s plans.

Large farms benefited from the AAA policy of reducing surpluses, having “gross farm income increased by 50% during the first three years of the New Deal.”  The increase in gross income for farmers was largely paid for through government subsidies.

These of course are the major programs. FDR would have to fight the Courts over the constitutionality of many of his programs, and a number would be voided. As for example, in 1936 the Supreme Court declared the AAA unconstitutional. The majority of judges (6-3) ruled that it was illegal to levy a tax on one group (the processors) in order to pay it to another (the farmers). In 1938, another AAA was passed without the processing tax. It was financed out of general taxation and was therefore acceptable to the Supreme Court.

This struggle of course opened up the next phase of reform with his Second New Deal. Eventually the Court ruled Social Security to be constitutional, and a number of these very old Justices finally resigned after FDR’s effort to re-organize the Federal court system (The Court Packing!). Eventually, he was able to put his total imprint on the court despite losing his abortive court reform initiative. But with all of his success, new generations of his critics have been spawned in the 60+ years since his untimely death.

The First New Deal 1933-4 Aims ( The first Hundred Days)

  1. Unemployment and poverty relief
  2. Economic Recovery
  3. Economic and Social Reform
  4. Phase One- Stop the Panic- Bring back confidence in the government
  5. The Hundred Days- Legislation- 1933
  6. Unemployment relief- jobs- CCC, PWA, FERA
  7. Banking and Security Reform-FDIC
  8. Regional Development- TVA, CWA
  9. End of Prohibition- Repeal of the Volstead Act
  10. National Planning- NRA , NLB
  11. Farm Relief- AAA, FCA

Executive Action

  1. Fireside Chats
  2. Publicity
  3. Bank Holiday
  4. Reversing the panic
  5. Support of Business

Phase Two- Social Change and Reform- 1934

  1. The Emergence of Labor, Federalization and  Regulation
  2. Labor Laws- NRB, NLRB (Wagner Act)
  3. Housing- FHA
  4. Regulation- FCC-SEC
  5. Transportation- NRAB- railroads

The NRA- National Recovery Administration

Government and Business Cooperation

AAA factories couldn’t prosper while farms were in a depression.

Pump- Priming

  1. PWA- Harold Ickes- Interior Dept.
  2. FERA- Harry Hopkins –
  3. Monetary Expansion- going off the Gold Standard

 

Criticism over the pace of progress

  1. Thunder on the Left and the Right
  2. The Left:
  3. Huey Long
  4. Father Coughlin
  5. Francis Townsend
  6. Norman Thomas
  7. Upton Sinclair
  8. The LaFollettes
  9. The Right
  10. Herbert Hoover
  11. The Liberty League
  12. Business community
  13. The 2nd New Deal 1935- Response to Criticism
  14. New Legislation and its Impact
  15. Social Impact- REA- rural electrification
  16. Soil Conservation- SCS- helping farmers
  17. National Youth Act- NYA- social involvement
  18. Old Age Pensions- SSB- Social Security
  19. Employment- WPA- helping employ non factory labor
  20. Bituminous Coal Labor Board- labor in the minds
  21. Judicial Review
  22. Supreme Court rules NRA unconstitutional
  23. Other laws (Social Security, NLRB, Tax reform,

Electoral Coalition

  1. Political referendum of 1936
  2. Landslide- winning 46 states- 60.8% of the vote
  3. Uniting different groups
  4. Urban workers
  5. Farmers
  6. Ethnic and racial minorities
  7. Intellectuals
  8. Southern poor

Consequences

  1. Legislative dominance 1936 to the 1970’s
  2. New constituencies and favored legislation
  3. Labor laws
  4. Farm subsidies
  5. Welfare
  6. Religious and ethnic toleration- job set-a-sides
  7. Educational opportunities
  8. Medicare, Medicaid

Also in his Second Inaugural, the late President said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” (Second Inaugural, January 20, 1937)

Little really has changed in the minds of many of the old and new critics of the New Deal. But, did we go back to unrestricted capitalism, and therefore trash the SEC, NASD, and the Securities Laws of 1933, 1934, and 1940, wages and hours, child labor laws and the like? No, thankfully! Should we go back to the great enduring capitalistic legacy of the “Triangle Shirt-Waste Fire?” Or maybe we should trash the reform legacy of Ida Tarbel, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, and others who revealed to the public the abuses of private capital and power. Meanwhile how many judges did the “economic royalists” own? How many of them came from the bosom of private capitalism and the world of property? (Thankfully Holmes, Brandeis, and Cardozo didn’t!)

 

The Third New Deal- 1937-8

  1. Electoral success versus Judicial Review
  2. Court Re-organization
  3. Legislation to expand the Court from 9 to 15 members
  4. Age criteria ( many of the Justices were over 70 years old, 7 were appointed by Republican Presidents and most were conservative)
  5. Congressional Coalition halts plan
  6. Justices retire
  7. Legislation upheld
  8. Roosevelt eventually appoints all new court
  • Third New Deal Legislation
  1. Farm Security- FSA- 1937, Fed. Crop Ins. Corp. FCIC 1938
  2. Housing -USHA- Housing Authority -1937
  3. Regulation- CAA- Civil Aeronautics -1938, Maritime Labor Board- MLB Fair Labor Standards Act
  4. Federal Reorganization- BOB- Bureau of the Budget, Federal
  5. Electoral Purge of 1938 and political set-backs
  • Evaluation of the New Deal
  • Criticism from the Right
  • Government intervention in the economy and society had gone to far.
  1. Market mechanism impaired
  2. Too much reliance on government
  3. Too much concentration of power in Washington
  4. Criticism from the Left
  5. New Deal saved a capitalistic system that failed
  6. Achieved only minor reforms
  7. Recovery did not really come until WWII
  8. Inequalities of income were not noticeably narrowed
  9. Relief from poverty was stingy and limited
  10. Both sets of these arguments were rejected by a majority of the electorate and historians.

 

  1. Programs universally applauded: CCC, FDIC, TVA, Social Security
  2. WPA was on one hand the most popular and the most unpopular!
  3. Much of the New Deal was unknown to most of the public.
  4. The New Deal enmeshed politics and economics- regulated or “safety-net capitalism
  5. Did not bring full economic recovery! Unemployment remained high and economic activity never fully recovered to 1928 levels.

In Roosevelt’s own words this introduction to the first volume of his collected papers and addresses possibly sums up his thoughts on the philosophy of the New Deal:

There were inconsistencies of methods…inconsistencies born of insufficient knowledge. There were inconsistencies springing from the need of experimentation. But through them all, I trust that there also be found a consistency and continuity of broad purpose.

Consistently I have sought to maintain a comprehensive and efficient functioning of the representative form of democratic government in its modern sense. Consistently I have sought through that form of government to help our people to gain a larger social justice.

Basically we aim at the assurance of a rounded, permanent national life. Change from what historian Arthur Schlesinger called “single-interest” government, to the goal of a comprehensive and efficient functioning of the representative form of democratic government. FDR’s desire for a “rounded permanent national life,” expressed his idea of a stronger sense of community mutuality and obligation, man to man, and man to land, which were in his view the only basis of a lasting security. Probably the most central concept of the New Deal, at least in terms of frequency was interdependence. In private, FDR mixed the satisfaction of achievement with disappointment that the New Deal system had not come closer to his intentions. But he often acknowledged its flaws as democracy’s price.

After the war, he said, there must be renewed efforts to achieve resource and public works planning… In the meantime, shortcomings should be noted in the spirit of a remark he made in 1936, so often quoted.

The immortal Dante tells us that divine justice weighs the sins of the coldblooded and the sins of the warmhearted in different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in the spirit of charity that the constant omissions of a government frozen in the idea of its own indifference.

 

“FDR at War”- a Trilogy by Nigel Hamilton August 24, 2019

As Napoleon sagely wrote over 220 years ago, “The victors writes the history!” How true! Each society has its own narrative on how it sees itself. In a sense almost all autobiographies are lies, and if they were true, who would really know? On the other hand, no biographer knows everything, how could they? When a cohort of Winston Churchill’s worried how history would view questionable events, Churchill is reported to have said, “…don’t worry! I’ll write the history!” In Hamilton’s first book, “The Mantle of Command,” the scene is set for America’s emergence into the greatest and most important crusade against evil in history! Peter Baker, of the NY Times wrote, in his review in the last book in the trilogy:

Since Roosevelt left no lasting record of his life and thoughts following his untimely death in Warm Springs, Ga., in April 1945 at age 63, Hamilton relies on those left by others, including insightful diaries by Mackenzie King, the Zelig-like Canadian prime minister who always seemed to be on hand at key moments, and Henry L. Stimson, the Republican secretary of war who at times resisted Roosevelt’s judgments only to come around to recognize the virtues of the president’s approach.

Thus, as a student and faithful follower of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his immense legacy, I was most gratified to start Nigel Hamilton’s massive trilogy regarding “FDR at War” and his relationship with his great partner in that titanic event, Winston S. Churchill the most significant war-time Prime Minister of Great Britain (there were two other Neville Chamberlain and Clement Atlee.)  Peter Baker of the NY Times continued in his review:

But for years in many households, it provoked endless dinnertime debate. In the annals of the 20th century, who was the greater, more significant historical figure: Franklin D. Roosevelt or Winston Churchill?

The case for Churchill is powerful. He rallied Britain against Hitler’s hordes when the rest of Europe had fallen. While the United States remained on the sidelines and the Soviet Union embraced its devil’s-bargain alliance with Nazi Germany, Churchill virtually single-handedly defied the Third Reich in the face of existential threat: He was personally at risk, along with his countrymen, amid the cascade of bombs raining down on London during the Blitz.

But count Nigel Hamilton in Roosevelt’s camp — not just in his camp but perhaps his most passionate and eloquent champion. In “War and Peace,” his latest book on the American wartime leader, Hamilton presents a farsighted Roosevelt riding to the rescue of freedom, then setting the stage for a new world order to come. Churchill is depicted as a military dunderhead who let ego and imperial ambition get in the way of sensible strategy. Courageous? Yes. A stirring orator? Absolutely. But if not restrained by Roosevelt, Churchill, in Hamilton’s view, might easily have lost World War II for the Allies.

“War and Peace” is the third and final volume in Hamilton’s “F.D.R. at War” trilogy and certainly as gripping and powerfully argued as the first two, “The Mantle of Command” and “Commander in Chief.” Hamilton, as the historian Evan Thomas once observed, ended up producing the extended memoir that Roosevelt himself never got to write. Throughout Hamilton’s three books, Roosevelt is the wise and clever sage fending off myopic cabinet secretaries, generals, admirals and colleagues to steer the Allies to victory and the world to a better future.

“The Mantle of Command” opens with the critical Atlantic Conference held between President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in the waters of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in August of 1941.

In FDR’s typical, secretive way, he used diversionary tactics to prevent the revelation to the press, the public, and his own government of this meeting with the Prime Minister. The secrecy of this meeting was critical when one understands the isolationist, anti-British feeling that not only dominated many in the Congress, but throughout the country. Of course, Churchill was eager for this meeting, and in a sense it was an effort to induce the president to support a declaration of war against Nazi Germany. This meeting came almost after two years of war, which saw the decline and fall of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who preceded Churchill, and the various disaster that befell the western alliance of Britain and France.

After the invasion of the Low Countries, the fall of Norway and Britain’s naval disasters in the North Sea, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), along with thousands of French and Dutch soldiers from Dunkerque, the massive losses to German submarines in the Atlantic, setbacks in North Africa at the hands of General Erwin Rommel, along with the failures of British commanders, Wavell, Auchinleck and Ritchie in the Egyptian-Libyan Desert War, and the threat to the Suez Canal, the British were on the verge of desperation, and thus the need for this meeting. A declaration of war was certainly not in FDR’s mind, knowing the mood of a majority of the American people. But he wanted a strong show of commitment to the cause of Britain, without making a commitment that would probably never be sustained.

Out of that conference emerged the Atlantic Charter, an agreement to transfer 50 surplus American Destroyers to Great Britain, in exchange for the United States to have long-term leases on British territories in the Caribbean. There was no formal, legal document entitled “The Atlantic Charter”. It detailed the goals and aims of the Allied powers concerning the war and the post-war world, and it was based very much on FDR’s famous “Four Freedoms,” State of the Union speech made in January of 1941.

Of course, events following that meeting in August of 1941, would change the calculus of world power and the direction it was heading. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the heart of the American Navy and its armed forces in the Hawaiian Islands on December 7, 1941, would of course bring a Declaration of War on the Japanese Empire, but it did not mean we would be involved in the European War. As a consequence of that surprise attack, the Japanese war juggernaut would attack American, British and Dutch territories all over the Pacific Rim. Before America could even respond, the Philippines were attacked, and the American Army Air Force, under the direct command of General MacArthur, was virtually destroyed. As these multiple tragedies unfolded, Churchill was privately relieved of his greatest anxiety that he would have to continue to fight alone against the Nazis. Of course, he couldn’t be sure that America would be directly involved in the European War, and as a consequence of the Japanese attack on British interests, more disasters ensued. Eventually Hong Kong, Malaya, and their impenetrable fortress of Singapore would eventually collapse. As time moved on, even before America could respond, Burma would fall, as Rangoon was taken by the Japanese, and the India Ocean would become almost a Japanese lake.

In one of the strangest moves in history, Hitler, seeing the immediate success of the Japanese war machine, impulsively declared war on the United States. This of course, eliminated the problem for FDR regarding an effort to declare war on Nazi Germany! Therefore, after December 11, 1941, we were in World War II on both fronts, East and West! With this reality in mind, Churchill immediately made plans to travel to Washington to formulate a coordinated strategy to first turn the tide of battle around and eventually win the war. In the critical days through Christmas, 1941, in now wartime America, the policy of Germany First would emerge.

In the days ahead, Churchill would attempt to direct and control President Roosevelt with regards to the direction of their joint effort. As Christmas approached, the United States was       facing the unpleasant reality that the Philippines and MacArthur’s American and Filipino Forces on Bataan and Corregidor, were doomed to destruction as were the British possessions of Hong Kong, Malaya and their Singapore fortress. The Americans, with their Filipino allies, fought a delaying action in the Philippines, while a mixed American, British, Dutch, and Australian (ABDA) naval structure was set up to operate from Java in an attempt to hold the Japanese at the Malay Barrier. Given command of ABDA naval forces, Admiral Thomas Hart directed part of this defense into mid-February 1942. By that point in time, it had become evident that despite the brave ABDA sailors, the Japanese were not to be denied. The Japanese Navy was able to literally destroy the remaining Allied naval assets in, and around, the Java Sea and the India Ocean.

Therefore, as India was being threatened by massive Japanese naval assets in the Indian Ocean, two realities emerged. There were not enough Allied ships to counter their strength and India soldiers had almost no enthusiasm to defend India and their colonial status from the potential of a Japanese invasion. In fact, the British were seeing more and more evidence that their colonial armies were not willing to fight for the British Empire.  FDR, a confirmed anti-colonialist understood this reality, despite Churchill’s inability to face the reality of the deteriorating situation in both the Middle and the Far East. FDR urged Churchill to promise India eventual self-rule or even the commonwealth status of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Churchill hated this option, danced around it, and delayed making a decision, until he almost was backed into a corner. He certainly was opposed to giving up any sovereignty in India, as he claimed that the subcontinent was not really a country, but a collection of princely states and contentious religions bodies: Hindus, Moslems and Sikhs among hundreds of others sects, who spoke many hundreds of dialects. To add to the anxiety of the British, their fortress at the Port of Tobruk (Libya) fell to an inferior force (30,000 personnel surrendered) without putting up a major fight.

With that in mind, along with the existential threat to India, the British were apoplectic and were trying to insist that American intervene in the Indian Ocean. Of course, Americans did not have the assets to counter the Japanese. But, FDR initiated a bold plan that would eventually produce a remarkable chain of events. He wanted to strike back at the Japanese and change the whole defeatist attitude that was threatening to become pervasive in the post-Pearl Harbor America, and with our British allies. Roosevelt authorized the famed Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. The raid was planned, led by and named after Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces. FDR was able to turn the corner of defeat with one bold stroke.

This air raid, by sixteen United States B-25s, from the aircraft carrier Hornet, on the Japanese capital, Tokyo and other places on Honshu Island, was the first air operation to strike the Japanese archipelago. The sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, (further out than planned) each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China, since landing a medium bomber back on the Hornet was impossible. The bombing raid killed about 50 people, including civilians, and injured 400, was tactically minimal, but, in retrospect, strategically immense.

It was also the first time, in more than 1000 years, that the Japanese home islands were attacked. It demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor and provided an important boost to American morale. Even though the results were almost minuscule the political and strategic fallout was immense. The Japanese had never been attacked on their home islands, and with the knowledge that their air defenses were almost non-existent, they therefore, in an almost panic withdrew much of their naval assets from the Indian Ocean, to protect the Home Islands. The next consequence of this action was to assemble a massive fleet to strike back at America. Their aim was Midway Island. If they destroyed the American assets and presence on Midway, and occupied the island as a base, both the West Coast of America and Hawaii would be threatened. The Japanese never knew that American cryptographers had broken their naval and diplomatic codes (the Purple Codes) years before. When the speculation that Midway was confirmed as the target (the famous water desalination plant ruse) of this large Japanese force, of which some headed north to the Aleutian Islands, an American naval trap northeast of Midway was set. Of course, the rest is history.

Despite initial successes by the Japanese naval force regarding their bombardment of Midway and the destruction of many attacking American carrier and land-based planes, a series of strange and fortuitous events ensued, as the battle took a dramatic and fatal turn against the Japanese fleet. As a result of courage and luck, the United States Navy under Admirals Chester Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance were able to defeat this massive, attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under the command of Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chūichi Nagumo, they inflicted devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that proved irreparable. Military historian John Keegan called it “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare” With their loss of four fleet aircraft carriers, the Japanese were never able to regain the initiative in the Pacific. They would never be able to replace these ships, men or planes for years. With that result, India would never be threatened, the divisive issue of Indian independence was placed on the back burner, and after early June, 1942, the United States would always be on the offensive against the widespread Japanese-controlled territories.

After this spectacular and unexpected victory, the next strategic argument would be where the Allies would strike. The issue of Germany First was settled, as Japanese expansion in the Pacific was halted with the both the naval stalemate (strategic victory) at the Battle of the Coral Sea and the “incredible victory” with the Battle of Midway!  President Roosevelt was dynamically opposed to an invasion of France in 1942. Our leading military leaders, including General George C. Marshall, Henry Arnold, and Admiral King were focusing on France, as was Secretary of War Stimson. The British, for sure, were totally against that effort, but were obfuscating the issue by diverting attention to other theaters of operation. In fact, they were not sure of anything, but wanted to defeat the Afrika Korps in Libya.

This, of course, was creating a fissure between FDR and the Joint Chiefs. His idea was to invade French, Vichy-controlled, northwest Africa. Many American military leaders were opposed to helping the British retain their empire at the expense of American blood and treasure. A number of these same people (ranking officers) were using the threat (blackmail) to the British of moving the president away from the Germany First strategy to a focus on the Pacific. The British were incredibly fearful of this happening. But, FDR was much tougher than they realized and adamant about his strategic perspective.  His idea was to establish a landing in Vichy French Morocco and North Africa and thus control the West Coast of Africa. He realized immediately, with his encyclopedic knowledge of geography, that the Germans would be prevented from using that part of Africa as a potential launching site (springboard) for a later invasion of South America. In other words, FDR was protecting our Southern Hemispheric flank. FDR also recalled retired Admiral William D. Leahy, who had been his Ambassador to Vichy France, and made him his personal Chief of Staff. Leahy would be his direct, and authoritative liaison to Marshall, King and Arnold. Leahy also reported to FDR that there were less than 200 German personnel in Morocco.

With this information, and FDR’s coterie of diplomatic, vice-counsels (spies) assigned to French North Africa, (Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco) who were known as the 12 Apostles, he knew more about the conditions on the ground (in Vichy-controlled North Africa) then Churchill, General Alan Brooke, the head of the Imperial War Staff, and certainly the American chiefs. He was able to keep this plan secret from the press, his own government, other members of the US military and most importantly, the Axis Powers.

Eventually, all the concerted opposition to the newly renamed Operation Torch would dissipate. The European invasion of France, called at one time, Operation Bolero and Roundup, leading to the eventual Operation Sledgehammer, would be tabled (delayed) to at least 1943. Marshall Joseph Stalin, our eastern ally in this great effort to destroy the Nazis, had been calling for a “Second Front” to divert Nazi forces for almost a year. Understanding the reality of the war and the limited strength that the western Allies possessed, Stalin was delighted with Operation Torch. Of course, FDR was proven completely correct. The invasion of North Africa turned out to be a brilliant strategic move. At almost the same time, the British 8th Army, led by their new commander General Bernard Law Montgomery, successfully broke the German lines in the 2nd Battle of Alamein. The result was that for the first time since September 3rd 1939, the Axis, led by Hitler and the Nazis, were on the defensive. Rommel’s Afrika Korps was on the run and caught between the two pincers: the British surging westward towards Tunisia and the Americans eastward from Morocco.

With regards to WW II Churchill’s strategy was basically no better than Chamberlain’s. Under his watch the British experienced disasters with the navy in Norway, the 8th Army in North Africa and its collapse at Tobruk, the insane and huge defeat and disaster in Singapore, (the worst and most costly British defeat in history), the disaster at Dunkerque, the catastrophic losses of the HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales off Hainan Island, near the Chinese mainland, the abandonment of Greece and Crete, the ill-fated attack at Dieppe, the alienation of the French and the subsequent defection of the French fleet, causing the need for it to be crippled by British naval action along with many others. He was lucky that the Nazis re-directed the Luftwaffe to bomb British cities and not go after their radar early warning stations, their aerodromes, and the British fighter defense. A smartly delivered strategy against these targets would have reduced the British to a position where their air cover became hopeless. One could say that Churchill’s greatest failure was his ego, his idea that he was a military expert, and his ability to choose the right people, for the right task.

In retrospect, as the war would move on to its successful conclusion, Churchill did have many successes aside from American help. Their victory at Taranto that devastated the Italian fleet, the sinking of the Graf Spee, the hunting down of the Bismarck, the destruction of the 10 German destroyers off Norway, his policy supporting Orde Wingate and the Chindits in Burma, his mobilizing massive bombing raids over Germany, the destruction of the French dry docks at Saint Nazaire, and his selection of Montgomery to head the British 8th along with his subsequent victory at El Alemain were strong plusses. But even with the entrance of America into the war, later British strategy with Churchill’s blessing and interference led to the huge loses in Holland with the ill-fated Market-Garden assault on the Dutch bridges. Montgomery, Churchill’s greatest choice for leadership squandered his opportunity to cross the Rhine and was trumped by the American capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen. That single event of intrepid work by American forces dealt a huge blow to German resistance on the Western front. While Montgomery was accumulating landing craft, the US Army was surging over the Rhine with men and armor, creating an unassailable bridgehead, and trapping German forces on the wrong side of the River.

FDR, on the other hand mobilized the American economy in an unprecedented way, fought an effective two ocean war, selected and appointed excellent overall leadership with his Joint Chiefs lead by Admiral William D. Leahy, who coordinated the activities of Generals Marshall and Arnold along with Admiral King. FDR’s selections, in all of the theaters of his responsibility, of MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, reflected excellent carefully thought out judgment. Their choices of subordinates that included Bedell-Smith, Clark, Bradley, Patton, Hodges, Simpson, Eaker, Doolittle, Stillwell, Halsey, Spruance, Vandergrift, Smith, Lemay and many others, spelled eventual success. His speeches, and cool leadership gave the people confidence after Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. FDR’s leadership of the wartime conferences at Argentia Bay, Quebec, Casablanca, Teheran and Yalta were the driving force behind victory and the post-war dominance of the West. Roosevelt knew almost all the top ranking officers of our armed forces, because he had been president for eight years before Pearl Harbor. Therefore, he knew their weaknesses and their strengths and how they could be best utilized. He knew who to fire and who to hire!

The centerpiece of Roosevelt’s strategy, and that of all of the American leadership, of course, was Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion, which Roosevelt advocated relentlessly despite doubts, arguments and even sabotage by Churchill. The prime minister, aware that the sun was setting on the empire on which the sun never set, suggested almost every other option. He pressed for more Allied focus on Italy, as well as landings in Greece and the Aegean. He was consumed inexplicably with the island of Rhodes. He fixated on the bloody battle of Anzio. Roosevelt batted away one Churchill effort to derail the D-Day invasion after another, single-mindedly determined to seize the beaches of Normandy. In Peter Baker’s words:

Hamilton’s case for Roosevelt is a compelling one. Even in decline, the president had a vision that eluded others, including his closest partner. Yet if the author’s antipathy for Churchill’s strategic miscalculations is buttressed by prodigious research, it nonetheless seems to sweep aside too easily the profound importance of his singular resolve, grit and determination to defeat Hitler — not to mention his clear eyed view of Stalin and the looming Soviet threat that Roosevelt, ever confident of his own powers of persuasion, mistakenly thought he could manage.

To Hamilton, Churchill’s inspiration was no match for Roosevelt’s sagacity, his stirring speeches no substitute for the American’s strategic brilliance. Roosevelt was the architect and engineer who translated Churchill’s grandiloquence into a plan for victory. The Allies did fight on the beaches, as Churchill once memorably vowed, but it fell to Franklin Roosevelt to make sure they were the right beaches.

History has favored Winston Churchill for many reasons, which include his lonely pre-war opposition to the rise of Hitler and the threat of Nazism. He battled against both the appeasers and the pro-fascist elements in Britain. He also stood head and shoulders above his rivals, like Lord Halifax, who wanted to succeed the failed Neville Chamberlain.

He was always given exceptionally high marks as an inspiring and eloquent orator before the war and during it. His ability to lead a beleaguered nation in its darkest hours can never be underrated. With that in mind, he has been awarded high marks for standing alone during the Blitz (German air attacks) and keeping up British morale despite the nightly bombings, the massive destruction and the battlefield reversals. He certainly deserved criticism for his endless micro-managing policy, interference with his generals, reversals in strategy and poor choice in military appointments. He even was very critical of his “star” appointment of General Montgomery. The victor at Alamein. Ironically, Montgomery wasn’t his first choice to command the 8th Army in Egypt.

His first selection was Lt. General Richard Gott, who killed in a plane crash. According to many of the veterans of that campaign, who were familiar with both men, they felt that Gott certainly would have lost the battle for control of Egypt, the Suez Canal and the oilfields of the Middle East. Churchill certainly opposed Operation Torch and wanted American men and material supporting Montgomery, was against Operation Anvil-Dragoon, the August, 1944 invasion of Southern France, in the days after the Normandy Invasion and the breakout into France.

On the other hand, he and the British leadership understood FDR’s problems and political skills. His promises on the mobilization of American’s war industry were exceeded, and he for sure delivered on America being the Arsenal of Democracy.  FDR’s strategic vision reached much farther and more accurately than Churchill’s FDR understood the emergence of Russia and China as world powers, and he pressed for the Unconditional Surrender, to avoid the postwar disaster that followed the end of WWI. He also knew that the Allies had to secure the peace, and that was why he worked so hard to create the United Nations. Churchill vision was most often limited to the sustaining of the British Empire.

As Nigel Hamilton commented at the end of his first book, “The Mantle of Command,”

On Armistice Day, 1942, “America’s new journey had just began. It would not be an easy road, but it was a noble challenge Roosevelt was setting. Moreover, they (the people and the military) could take comfort in the fact that the President, who had saved the nation at a time of the worst economic depression it had ever suffered, was now, on a global stage, proving to be perhaps the greatest commander in American History!”

The next book, “Commander–in-Chief brings us into the great battle, in 1943, between FDR and Churchill, as the American contribution to the war effort escalates and fighting gets tougher in theaters, all over the world.

Tehran the most Critical Meeting in the 20th century! FDR at the Top of his Game!

“War and Peace” Volume 3

Part II

Franklin D. Roosevelt finally gets the meeting he wants with Churchill and Stalin- the Big Three. He starts his incredible secret journey aboard the USS Iowa, our newest “super” battleship, captained by his former naval aid, Captain John McCrea. It will be a dangerous voyage in the South Atlantic crossing to Africa with all the members of the president’s top military staff, including General Marshall, the US Army Chief of Staff, Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, his own head of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral William Leahy, General Henry Arnold, head of the US Army Air Force and many others.

Of course, as it has been noted numerous times, the voyage was dangerous. There was always the threat regarding secrecy and security, regarding news leaks, the threat of land-based German long-range planes, new U-Boats which much more sophisticated weaponry, which had been updated by greater underwater staying power (the snorkel) and their highly secret new “smart” torpedoes.

But, what really threatened the Iowa on this crossing was the inadvertent discharge of a torpedo, during a preparedness exercise from the USS Porter which was directed right at the Iowa and its precious cargo, the President of the United States, and the Joint Chiefs. By remarkable evasive action by the Captain McRae, luck, and every small gun trained and firing on the wayward projectile, the tragedy was averted as it was exploded either by the choppy waves or by gunfire. Amazingly, with almost a general panic aboard the ship, FDR, never lost his “cool” insisted he be brought up to the deck to observe the action, and never seemed to be worried or as concerned as everyone else who was involved.

But, in reality what was really happening, was that after three days at sea, and in the “wake” of the missed torpedo, there was still the strategic crisis over the British attempt to insist on a long-delay of the proposed cross-channel (Overload) invasion of Northern France. It seemed it was always about Churchill’s desire to redress his WWI failure at Gallipoli, which was an immense military disaster and cost him his job as First Lord of the Admiralty and his reputation for almost two decades, aside from his well-known failures as battlefield commander on the Western Front.

So, where was the world in November of 1943? FDR, finally, after one year of trying, was able to establish the critical meeting with Stalin, who before would never leave the Soviet Union for a number of reasons. He claimed, as the chief of their armed forces, he could never leave his direct command, he was extremely paranoid, possibly about assassination, had severe fear of flying any distance, among other personal excuses directed back to the president. The Allies were incredibly fearful about a separate German-Soviet peace. The British wanted to preserve their overseas empire, with American assistance (which was opposed by a vast majority of the American public and its leadership.) They certainly wanted to maintain their Mediterranean hegemony from Gibraltar in the West to Crete and Palestine in the East, Egypt in North Africa, with the Suez Canal, with its critical passageway to India, and their political influence over Greece and the Aegean.

As the Iowa heads for Oran, in North Africa, Churchill and his staff are heading from Britain on the HMS Renown, a World War I dreadnaught, to a similar port of call at Malta. The Prime Minister began to recognize the criticality and enormity of this undertaking, with regards to a complete recasting of the Allied war strategy, barely six months before the agreed launch date of Overlord. What a dilemma for Churchill and the whole Allied effort – months earlier, before the Quebec Conference (Quadrant)  – the British were talking about the invasion of Northern France sometime in 1945 or even 1946! Even though the date for the invasion was tentatively established for May 1, 1944, in Churchill’s mind it was just a “scrap of paper.” He saw, if possible, the task of the Soviets would be of defeating the Nazis, without much contribution of the Western Allies. Where that would leave Europe seems to be an unanswerable question. But, of course, Churchill imagined the Allies would go north from the Aegean into Eastern Europe and defeat the Germans in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, before the Soviets even reached Poland.  The realism of this incredible, fantasied, gambit was never in American consideration. Again, in Churchill’s mind, right up to Tehran, the agreement was nothing more than a piece of “lawyer’s paper” – as he put it, “a contract which Britain could simply decline to observe, or keep asking to defer, each moment, until the bill came due!” This was the existential problem that FDR and the American Joint Chiefs faced as their ship advanced on North Africa. But, in fact, they had no real clue to Churchill’s obstructionism, as they had no idea what was on his mind.

The question that FDR put to his advisors on November 15, 1943, – “aware that at the end of the day, there was no way to enforce the Quebec Agreement, if Churchill resigned (as he threatened to do before) or withdrew the British commitment to the military partnership for the May, of 1944 cross channel endeavor, the war against Hitler would be effectively lost. Of course, if FDR accepted Churchill’s “option” and the Soviets felt betrayed about a “real” Second Front, and worked out a separate peace, an entente-cordial, with Hitler, as opposed to more countless casualties, the US military was between a rock and a hard place –  with no obvious way of breaking the deadlock. This is what would face FDR and his advisors as they approached the landing at Oran and his flights to Cairo and Tehran. On the HMS Renown, Churchill bounced his theories, disappointments, and angst off the very receptive Harold MacMillan (a future British Prime Minister), who was serving as the British political advisor to General Eisenhower. Churchill complained that no one listened to him and that his “military genius” was restrained by the Americans, almost like a “man whose hands were tied behind his back” Of course, as many historians have reported, his own Imperial War Staff, led by General (later Field Marshall) Alan Brooke, had grave doubts about his judgment and were constantly offended, and put out with his interference on matters of tactics. His judgement regarding commanders was also questionable. In fact, up to this time he had made numerous mistakes in personnel, dividing his forces, and not judging the strength of the enemy opposition in| the Far East, Burma and the Indian border, the Indian Ocean, ate Aegean, Dieppe, etc.

Macmillan was a perfect sounding board for Churchill, he was classically educated, a bon vivant and an English social and intellectual snob, with his Eton and Oxford education. He by nature looked down his nose at the Americans and had seemingly forgotten the many failures the British had endured, and “began to feel not gratitude for the way the US had helped save Britain in 1942 for mounting Torch (the invasion of North Africa),” but instead a discernible resentment at the growing American economy and military might in the Mediterranean.  Of course, the British considered the Mediterranean as their sea, in the words of Mussolini and the old Roman adage, “Mere Nostrum!” thus as the HMS Renown safely reached Malta, where Churchill had a meeting with Lt. General Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, one could readily see that he had no real clue what he wanted to do, and General Alan Brooke, the head of the Imperial War Staff disagreed with almost all of his decisions, his blurred vision, and his mixed messages to Anthony Eden, his Foreign Minister, to Marshall Stalin and to the Americans.

Churchill was, on the surface, quite confidant in the upcoming preliminary meeting in Cairo – codenamed Sextant, which would include Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Roosevelt, after making a dangerous and heroic trip across the Atlantic, was able to land safely in Dakar and eventually fly to Tunis and then to Cairo. He met with Chiang Kai-Shek, made commitments to help China so they could fight the Japanese who controlled the whole East coast of China, cooperate with our American general Joseph Stillwell, and have the huge Chinese army trained and better armed. The British objected to this meeting. They assumed when the Japanese were beaten, the French would go right back to ruling their Indochinese colonies. Churchill never wanted the precedent of de-colonization to start with removal of the decadent French, who after 100 years of rule, left that forlorn part of the world, worse than when they occupied it. He saw the eventual loss of Hong Kong, Malaya, and India as a disaster that he would do all to prevent.

This meeting would eventually accomplish very little, Churchill was very bitter at the scheduling of the meeting with the Chinese leader, because he felt China had nothing to do with the defeat of Germany. In fact, all the promises that FDR and Churchill grudgingly had made with him would eventually be reversed by Churchill. This duplicity promulgated by the British would later reverberate with disastrous consequences. With the ultimate failure of Sextant and Churchill’s continual disappointment with the American position on Overlord, the scene was set for Tehran and the meeting with Stain.

Here in Tehran, the capital Iran, the most important conference of the 2nd World War, certainly of the first half of the 20th Century and possibly, the whole 20th Century, until our time, the fate of Europe and the world was decided by the Big Three, led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who initiated this meeting who led each session, Marshal Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union and commander of their armies and Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain.

In this meeting, Churchill, who objected to American command of Europe, though we were supplying two thirds to three quarters of the men and material to the Western cause and supporting the Soviet armies with 10 to 15% of their trucks, planes, ammunition, guns, and equipment through Lend Lease through Iran and the deadly North sea route to Murmansk and Archangel, had to be convinced that the correct path to victory over Nazi Germany was through Northern France.

Churchill seemed to have no interest in that effort, may have actually believed that the Soviets and the Nazis would bleed each other to death, wanted to preserve the British Empire at all costs, and continued to have operations in the Aegean Sea, the Dodecanese Islands, Rhodes, and points east to actuate an invasion of the Dardanelles, and entice Turkey into the war on the Allied side. This was almost dissolution, bordering on irrational. He envisioned, again, a surge northward to liberate Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, from whom, I ask? They were allies of Germany! They needed liberation? What about the western democracies under the thumb of four years of Nazi occupation, featuring; looting, slave labor, tyranny and murder?

What was his purpose to fight in the mountainous terrain of Yugoslavia, and divert attention away from Overlord, the invasion of France? He even opposed the invasion of Southern France, planned under the code name Anvil. Later, when he was convinced of the need for the invasion of Southern France, at Marseilles, he had the code name changed to Anvil-Dragoon, because he was “dragooned” into the controversial, but most successful operation, which would move the American armies up through the Rhone River Valley, under the overall command of General Jacob Devers and Admiral Kent Hewitt. The main ground force for the operation was the US Seventh Army commanded by Alexander Patch. The US Army’s VI Corps, led by Major General Lucian Truscott, would carry out the initial landing and be followed by the French Army B under command of Général Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. Accompanying the operation was a fully mobilized separate detachment called “Task Force Butler”, consisting of the bulk of the Allied tanks, tank destroyers, and mechanized infantry. Despite Churchill’s  fears, opposition and fruitless demands, it overwhelmed the light German forces in what had been Vichy France, and was able to liberate most of Southern France and created a southern pincer to the eventual Normandy Invasion and breakout. This was another case of superior American strategy over Churchill’s continued expression of his self-importance regarding overall theories of the conduct of the war.

With regards to more of Churchill’s mistakes and his obsession with the Balkans, eventually, the Germans were driven out of Yugoslavia, with the help of the Allies, Tito and his Red-Star hatted Communists. .They were triumphant as the (pro-American) Chetniks were defeated and their leader, Draz Mihailovich became a hunted man, with a price on his head.  The Allies soon recognized their colossal error, with regards to Tito, but the main burden for that failed policy fell into the laps of the British and Churchill later admitted it was his greatest mistake. Frankly, he made many mistakes. The Soviets through their spies in Britain, later known as the Cambridge Five, were able to convince the Brits that the Chetniks were really pro- German and that Tito and his partisans were the force to completely support. After the war, eventually after 18 months or so, on the run, Draza Mihailovich was captured. He had many opportunities to escape, but seemed to be resigned to his fate. Maybe he felt that as long as he remained at-large in Yugoslavia, there was resistance to the Communists. He was captured, indicted and tried for treason.

When news of his show trial reached the West, the former OSS men, who had a great deal of experience with him and the American air crews, who were rescued, fed and protected by the Chetniks and General Mihailovich, protested, almost in vain, to the American government. But, that was a hopeless journey and Mihailovich was convicted and in July, of 1946, not long after his conviction he was executed by a firing squad.

Churchill desperately wanted to concentrate on capturing Rome and to surge northward with an idea that he could circumvent the Alps to invade Germany, which no one in history was ever to accomplish. Did he care about the hundreds of thousands of allied causalities in the mountainous territory of Italy? Were his arguments ever sincere? That is the question. Of course, he wrote the history (a six volume set, winning himself the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953) and said he “would bury his mistakes,’ which were legion! In fact, his history was forced by law to omit the reality of ULTRA, the breaking of the German Code, and his omissions of critical issues were historically insincere and frankly terribly inaccurate.

Roosevelt received tremendous support from Marshall Stalin, who knew more of military strategy than Churchill, pointed out all the pitfalls regarding Turkey, the Aegean and the so-called worthlessness of attacking the so-called “soft under belly” of the Axis. For sure Italy was no “soft belly!” Why was the attack and occupation of Rhodes so important to Churchill? Where would that lead? In fact, the British were just thrown out of that region by strong German defenses and counter attacks. He seemed to have forgotten the British failures in Crete, Greece including 1940 and the later ones in 1943, in the Peloponnese, the Dodecanese region, along with the islands of Leros and Rhodes. What was Churchill’s ideas and was he even sincere about invading France even in 1945 or 1946?

Roosevelt was insisting on the American command of the cross channel invasion of France. He intimated that it would be the well-respected General George C, Marshall, the current US Chief of Staff. This was approved by Stalin and Churchill, but the British Prime Minister, who wanted British command of all of Europe, insisted that if the Americans commanded the Overlord Operation the British would command the Mediterranean. Of course, this would be his chance to divert forces back to the Aegean. This compromise, would lead to the backtracking of aid to China, a cancelling of Operation Buccaneer, the invasion of Andaman Islands, which caused the Chinese leadership to lose faith in American and allied support. The Nationalist Chinese thus focused their forces on the communists and Mao Zedong, who controlled northwest China. This turned out to be long-term disaster for China, Indochina, and the immediate postwar future of Southern Asia.

As Eisenhower was later to recall, “It was difficult to escape the feeling that Mr. Churchill’s views were colored” by considerations “outside the scope of the immediate military problem,”: that the Prime Minister was all too, interested in personal objectives, and happy to disregard the military challenges involved, when it suited him. It seemed to Eisenhower that Churchill preferred to focus on British political needs, even personal prizes of low-hanging “fruits” dangling before him in his capacious mind. When “fired up about a strategic project, logistics (maybe reality) did not exist for him. Eisenhower reflected, about Churchill that “Combat troops just floated forward and around obstacles – nothing was difficult.”

In the end, it was not Marshall who would command SHAEF and Overlord. It would be Eisenhower. The conventional wisdom was that Marshall would go to London and Eisenhower to the Pentagon as the new Chief of Staff. Of course, for many reasons this was never going to happen. FDR never really wanted Marshall out of Washington and the United States. When he asked Marshall which he wanted, Chief of Staff or the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force.

Marshall answered that he would serve the President in any role, with cheerful enthusiasm that the President wished. This was typical of Marshal and FDR saw that he would not make a “personal” commitment!” No one knows what was on FDR’s mind about Marshall’s future role. But, this enabled him to choose Eisenhower. He finessed Britain with the specter of Marshall as the Supreme Commander and he finally choose the most experienced officer in the field, General Eisenhower, who commanded American troops in North Africa and Sicily!

For sure, FDR was at the top of his game, he traveled a perilous 17,000 mile journey, finally met with Stalin, made sure that the Soviets were committed to defeating Germany, and got the recalcitrant Churchill on board for the invasion of Europe, sometime between May and June of 1944. It was a remarkable triumph, aside the unfortunate consequences regarding the British scuttling of the China promises of assistance to Chiang Kai-Shek, and further foolish British adventurism in the East Mediterranean.

Commander in Chief” Nigel Hamilton- volume 2 of “FDR at War”

As I finished book two, “Commander in Chief,” of Nigel Hamilton’s brilliant trilogy, “FDR at War,” I was moved my Winston Churchill’s daughter Mary and her words.

She found the president “magnetic and full of charm,” as she wrote in her diary: “his sweetness to me is something I shall always remember- but he is a raconteur,” she noted. At dinner, the 20 year old wrote, “Mummy is on his right & and several nights no other guests being there I’ve been on his left. I am devoted to him and admire him tremendously- he seems to have fearless courage & and the art of selecting the warmest part of the iron.”

Still so young, Mary thought both her father and the president indestructible. She did, however find herself intrigued, as was Daisy Suckley, (FDR’s cousin) by the contrast between their two characters. “To me,” she noted her diary, Roosevelt, “seems at once generous– idealistic-cynical-warm hearted & worldly-wise-naïve-courageous-tough-thoughtful-charming-tedious-vain-sophisticated- civilized all these and more for ‘by their works ye shall know them’- ‘And what a stout hearted champion he has been for the unfortunate & the battling- and what a monument he will always have in the minds of men. And yet while I admire him intensely and could not but be devoted to him after his great personal kindness to me – yet I must confess (he) makes me laugh & he rather bores me.” The truth was, the President had other things on his mind, despite doing his best to keep the Churchill’s and their daughter entertained.

Of course, young Mary Churchill was not different from the countless people who met Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He has been described countless ways. His great biographer, James McGregor Burns, characterized him as, in the words of Machiavelli, “The Lion and the Fox!”  He was a complex man, who the press called the Sphinx. He kept his own counsel, had few, if any friends, after he contracted polio, as he devoted himself to his recovery. Once Louis Howe died in the spring of 1936 and his devoted private secretary, Missy LeHand had a stroke in 1941, no one was really left from his earliest inner circle, political days. He was an incredibly discreet and private man, who, in the last 25 years of his remarkable life, knew many people, met countless others, but few really knew him personally. His life, given in the service of his country and the world, was heroic, self-sacrificing, and unprecedented. In the 74 years since his passing, no one has been able to fill his Seven League boots.

 After Tehran: Rome, D-Day, the Pacific, and the Struggle Between FDR and Churchill

Part III

“FDR at War,” the Final Volume, “War and Peace” by Nigel Hamilton

The political and strategic turning point of World War II came at the Tehran Conference, where the critical direction of the war in Europe was determined. Europe was always the critical battlefield involving all major combatants of the Old World and their descendants from the Americas. In the Pacific, the burden of the war was carried almost universally by the American forces, Army, Navy and Marines by the joint command of General Douglas MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific Sector and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in the South East and Central Pacific. Nimitz was based in Hawaii and MacArthur in Australia. Their personalities, styles and philosophies of war, regrading strategy and tactics, couldn’t have been much different. But, in their own ways, with their own staffs, they achieved remarkable goals.

Thus, after this most important meeting between the Big Three, which determined the strategy for the next critical phase of the war, it was up to the Allied armies to deliver tactically the success they needed to actuate this strategy. The decision for a cross-channel invasion, establishing the critical Second Front was what was determined, and the cooperation of the Soviets was clearly established. Sometime in the spring of 1944, depending on the weather and the availability of the most essential element of an invasion, the landing craft, the invasion would strike somewhere in Northern France. In coordination with that happening, the Soviets would launch a massive counter offensive against the German Wehrmacht, which was still occupying a huge swath of the European portion of the Soviet Union.

But, as a consequence of this agreement, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had commanded American forces in both North Africa, Sicily and the Mediterranean was transferred to London to organize the massive invasion, known as Overlord. Since the British could not achieve their desire regarding their own singular command over all of the European Theater from Britain to Greece, they were forced to concede to American control of the upcoming D-Day invasion Therefore, they demanded, and received, control over the Mediterranean Theater, which seemed to be always in their best colonial interests. No one should ever forget the logistical needs of this great effort. Aside from the build-up of men, artillery, armor, supplies, food, and ancillary equipment, without the critical landing craft, no invasion could succeed. Thus, there was always one sector competing with another for these vital ships (LSTs, LCIs and LCMs, among many designs and iterations).

Churchill, in the continued wake of his disappointments at Tehran, continued to fester over the thwarting of his desires to attack up and through the Aegean area all the way to the Dardanelles. He never seemed to come to the realization that these adventures were to never happen, no less succeed. In the meantime, the campaign in Italy had slowed down dramatically, the difficult terrain benefitted the defending German army, and the casualties were mounting at an alarming rate. The American command, and especially, FDR never saw the conquest of Italy as a strategic lynch pin for success. They were happy to have German divisions diverted from the Eastern Front with the Soviets and, thus have their manpower and supplies drained. For sure, the liberation of Rome was not a strategic objective, needed at all costs. Almost immediately, as Eisenhower relinquished command of the Mediterranean sector to the British, Churchill pushed for another invasion, up the boot of Italy at Anzio.

FDR, who was stricken with the flu, and as a result was being diagnosed with extreme hypertension and heart disease, was in no position of forcefully opposing this action. Anzio turned out to be a complete disaster. Even though it was a British created and directed operation, it was manned almost completely by American troops, who took the brunt of the fighting and casualties. Eventually, after a very difficult period, success was achieved under the heroic leadership of the controversial 5th Army Commander, the young General Mark Clark. The disaster of this campaign has been discussed and debated for decades. But, eventually, on the eve of D-Day, Rome was finally liberated. Many accused Clark of taking the Eternal City as a matter of glory and at the expense of other objectives, but in fact, when advanced units of the American Armed forces, including the war correspondent Ernest Hemingway drove into the outskirts of Rome, they found it almost abandoned by the German Army. In reality, those accusations are political and questionable. Italy was never a priority of the United States planners, but it was certainly more important than securing British interests in the Eastern sector of the Mediterranean. The eastern Mediterranean was far beyond effective allied naval and air support. Their abilities to adequately supply such actions, in the face of German land-based air support was tenuous at best. The Americans want no ancillary diversions from their main goal, the invasion of France. The fall of Rome was an important symbol, but meaningless to both the Germans and the Allies. The city had no strategic importance.

Once again, Churchill’s interference with the goals of Tehran proved costly to allied efforts with regards to blood and treasure. Eventually, with the August invasion of Marseilles, in the Anvil-Dragoon Operation Churchill was proven quite incorrect. He, even in one of his more lucid moments, he admitted it was his greatest mistakes. Unfortunately, throughout the war, there were many, “greatest mistakes” from Norway, to Singapore, to Tobruk, to Anzio, and his operation to the southern invasion of France. The most remarkable consequence of his actions was that General Brooke, chief of the Imperial Army and his staff didn’t resign en mass regarding Churchill’s interference, inconsistencies, casting of blame, and ranting diatribes, In fact, after the war all of their diaries supported their concerns about Churchill’s stability.

Unfortunately, after Tehran and the remarkable effort of FDR, his health did deteriorate significantly. It started with the flu, which many were afflicted with in the fall and the winter of 1943. A physical malaise set in and alarm bells went off with FDR’s daughter Anna, his cousin and confidante, Daisy Suckley, and others. His doctor, Rear Admiral Ross McIntire, was literally forced to bring in outside consultation. The young Dr. Howard Bruenn, a cardiologist discovered, along with the president’s traditional high blood pressure, advanced heart disease and all of its ancillary problems. With alarm bells ringing loudly, eventually specialists, including, the eminent Doctor James Paullin, former head of the AMA and Dr. Frank Lahey of the Lahey Clinic, were brought in to assist with the diagnosis.  He went up to Hyde Park for rest and recovery, but until all three of them could agree on a plan to deal with his severe health threat, FDR’s was in mortal danger. Finally, they agreed with Dr. Bruenn’s assessment, and he was allowed to administer digitalis, which then was the only treatment of an enlarged heart. Though risky, it probably saved his life.

Even Churchill was not immune to the stress and ravages of age and his consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. After Tehran, Churchill had collapsed in Tunis and reports had surfaced that he had died. Of course, the reports were unfounded, but he was seriously ill. But, with that reality in mind, many were speculating whether he could continue to serve as Prime Minister. Churchill had suffered other health setbacks, including mild heart attacks and bout with the flu and pneumonia, including in the days after his late December, 1941, visit to the White House. In the midst of FDR’s latest health crisis, Churchill rapidly recovered from pneumonia and atrial fibrillation.

As American command of the Mediterranean was turned over to the British, the pressure for the Anzio Operation was forcibly promoted by Churchill. As mentioned earlier, this action was supposed to relieve pressure on General Mark Clark’s US 5th Army, which was bottled up south of the monastery of Monte Casino, while British forces were also bogged down in the mountainous western part of Italy.

With all this happening, as FDR was recovering at Hyde Park, Churchill again was anxious for another Big Two summit. FDR wanted no part of another meeting and would not countenance Churchill’s next moronic plea for more landing craft to be deprived from the Overlord buildup. There would be no change in the American resolve to meet the agreed deadline of the cross- channel invasion in the late spring of 1944.

Of course, D-Day would eventually commence on June 6, 1944, over one month from the proposed May 1st objective. Despite all the existential anxieties and fears by almost all the parties involved, the invasion took place, and despite some bloody setbacks at Omaha Beach, the foothold on French territory was secured. The Germans were completely fooled over the true location of the invasion, as they continued to hold in reserve their powerful armored divisions, with the idea that the main invasion would take place at Pas de Calais. They never were able to mount a successful counter attack, and with the help of incredible Allied air supremacy along with the assistance of both the French resistance and allied OSS and SOE agents, the access to Normandy was sufficiently blunted. This total effort allowed American, British and Canadian forces to consolidate their five beachheads at Omaha, Utah, Sword, Juno and Gold. Even though they had adverse weather, which not only initially limited their ability to pulverize enemy positions further from the beachhead, but wrecked their artificial ports, they eventually slogged through the French hedgerows in the bocage country and would liberate Caen, Cherbourg and St. Lo. Once this done, the western Allies would not be denied nor reversed. As part of the Tehran agreement, the Soviet forces, on June 22nd, initiated a huge counter-attack on German positions. Thus Germany was caught between the teeth of two giant pincers from the east and west and were facing the two-front war they so feared. American armor, uninhibited by the mountainous terrain of Italy and under the command of General George S. Patton and his 3rd Army was unleashed into the flat French plains of southerner Normandy and Brittany and into the Loire Valley.

Therefore, with the political concerns of the 1944 election looming, FDR had to make difficult and wrenching choices, on not only whether to run for a 4th term, but how to manage a campaign when he was diagnosed with advanced heart disease. Of course, it was debatable whether he really understood the criticality of his health or just denied its reality. For sure, he had to decide who would be is running mate in 1944. As popular as he was the old New Dealers and many other liberal Democrats, his Vice-president Henry A. Wallace wasn’t popular with the party regulars who were delegates, the party leadership, a number of the labor leaders, and many of the average voters. Thus, FDR was faced with the dire necessity of not only facing the fact that the party needed him and only him as their standard nearer, and their dissatisfaction with his Vice-President, who at one time, was the most popular and effective member of the Cabinet. FDR had to choose between retaining Wallace, against his party’s wishes, and Jimmy Byrnes, a southerner from South Carolina, who had problems with unions, northern liberals, and because he had been a Catholic and was now a convert to being a Protestant, Justice William O. Douglas, who was too young and too controversial, and Harry S Truman, a little known Senator from Missouri, who had impressed many party leaders while chairing the Truman Committee.

Eventually, when FDR asked his Democratic Chairman Bob Hannegan to check on Truman, get him nominated by the DNC Convention, before there is any more trouble with Wallace and to make sure to “clear it with Sidney!” Of course, Sidney was Sidney Hillman, FDR’s close ally and friend, an active, committed liberal, who was the head of the CIO –Political PAC.

Once FDR was nominated, he was backed by virtually 100% by his party, except the sole vote of Joe Kennedy Jr, the only dissenting vote, in the whole convention. He had never attended the convention and was headed in his armored train, the Ferdinand Magellan, to San Diego for the critical voyage on the USS Baltimore, a heavy, 14,000 ton cruiser to Hawaii and a meeting with his Pacific Commanders. Once FDR and his staff boarded the USS Baltimore for the three day voyage to Hawaii, he began to recover his health and vigor, as he always did with sea voyages. Thus, with his spirits and demeanor buoyed, despite his worn and sallow pallor, he and his staff worked on the challenges of the meeting at Pearl Harbor.

By, all accounts, his welcome in Hawaii was unprecedented, as over 100 ships in the harbor saluted him, as their crews, in their dress whites, lined the desks cheering his arrival. He was eventually greeted by over 20 top command level officers of the Army and Navy. It was a remarkable event. The only one absent was the imperious MacArthur, whose association with FDR, went back decades with FDR. Of course, MacArthur had arrived earlier, but it was a long flight from Australia, and the president didn’t seem to mind the supposed “slight” from his old associate and sometime adversary. Both men knew that FDR had saved MacArthur’s career after his disaster in the Philippines back in 1942. MacArthur, who had been saved from surrender at Corregidor, had been order to Australia directly by FDR. He always thought that his beleaguered men on Bataan and Corregidor could have been relieved by an American naval force. Of course, that was a fanciful pipe dream, which lingered with MacArthur for the rest of his long life. In truth, FDR was always careful about his true feelings, and showed no obvious pique regarding MacArthur, for he knew him all too well.

The vast Pacific Theater was divided between the commands of the self-absorbed General Douglas MacArthur, whose headquarters was in Australia and had presidential ambitions pushed by a number of members of the Republican Party and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who was based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Both men were strong leaders with diametrically opposing styles and personalities. MacArthur’s command was the Southwest Pacific, with his forces made up by members of the US Army, his own Air Force and naval assets, the much smaller 7th Fleet.. His primary focus was New Guinea, and dealing with the Japanese strongholds of Rabaul and Truk Admiral Nimitz, the commander of most of the US Navy’s assets, including its fleet carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines, also was the tactical commander of all of the US Marine assets, which were part of the Navy.

This meeting would determine the future strategies to be employed in the Pacific Theater and the prosecution of the War against Japan. The included MacArthur’s concept of invading the three large islands of the Philippines; Mindanao, Leyte and Luzon and the navy’s idea of striking first at Formosa, bypassing the Philippines and eventually attacking the Bonin Island and eventually Iwo Jima as a stepping stone to Japan.  Eventually, with FDR chairing the meeting and without an over-abundance of staff, (MacArthur had little with him), both commanders made their presentations regarding their strategies. FDR, listened to both with an open mind, had no preconceived notions and eventually with consultation with Admiral Leahy, his Chief of Staff, he made the final decision reaching compromises on both the Philippines, bypassing Formosa, and the plans to move closer to the Japanese home islands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q232u5QnAjc .

It was another great effort by a seriously ill president. Eventually he was back on the USS Baltimore, made his way to the Aleutian Islands to visit American troops and then made his way back to the mainland and the issues and controversies that lay ahead. One of these continuing problems was the dealing with the demands of Churchill, as the late summer moved on into September and a second meeting with Churchill in Quebec.

Before this very successful meeting in the Pacific with the two American commanders, America’s partner in the great European crusade was still causing mischief and controversy in the central Mediterranean. Even as great progress was being made in Northern France, Churchill was offering alternatives to Anvil-Dragoon, the Southern invasion of France, scheduled for August 15th, a bit more than two months after D-Day!

Once more Churchill was proven devastatingly wrong as a strategist or a tactician. As a result of Anvil-Dragoon, Marseilles was overrun quickly and liberated within a week, when General Jacob Dever’s 6th Army moved quickly up the Rhone River Valley to link up with units of Eisenhower’s forces that were sweeping south in a wide arc to encircle German forces in the Falaise Gap.

Therefore, by September of 1944, this meeting had become superfluous and redundant, and there was no way that the ailing President Roosevelt was going to meet Churchill in Scotland or almost anywhere else, except in North America, especially in the midst of the presidential campaign.  As the time for the next Quebec Conference approached, both western leaders were seriously ill. On the voyage west to meet with their American colleagues on the Combined Chiefs of Staff committee, at the Chateau de Frontenac, Churchill was quite impossible to argue with. Field Marshall Brooke later recalled, “It was a ghastly time which I carried away the bitterest of memories!” Churchill felt the same about his top two commanders, Brook and Admiral Andrew Cunningham.

Churchill still wanted to reach Vienna from the Adriatic and he was coming to Quebec, with hat in hand, to solely obtain 20 landing ships to carry out an operation against Istria (a peninsular in the Adriatic) to seize Trieste. No matter what the British Staff reacted up against Churchill’s futile protestations, their objections went to “dead and deaf” ears! “Was Churchill then mad,” Brooke wondered or “perhaps ill?”

The next day of the voyage, Churchill’s fever increased and he became increasingly worse. Brooke recorded in his diary. “He knows no details, has only half the picture in his mind, talks absurdities and makes my blood boil to listen to his nonsense!”

According to Nigel Hamilton, Field Marshall Brooke wrote, “I find it hard to remain civil,” and he continued, “and the wonderful thing is that three-quarters of the population of the world imagines that Winston Churchill is one of the strategists of history, a second Marlborough and the other one-quarter have no conception what a public menace he is and has been throughout the war!” Of course, FDR, in the midst of the presidential campaign, was a shadow of his former self, who was trying to end the war without more unnecessary, further bloodshed. He wasn’t looking for more “side shows” or gambits to satiate more imperial desires of Churchill. His objective was to defeat Germany, get the United Nations concept in place, and secure the peace.

Thus, to sum up the Quebec Conference with regards to Churchill’s speech to the gathered fourteen chiefs and their staffs, his objectives regarding Vienna and Singapore were totally dismissed out of hand, as FDR punctured all of his trial balloons. FDR doubted that the Germans or the Japanese were about to fold.

The Japanese were beyond fanatical and suicidal on Saipan and the Germans eventually would retreat behind the wide Rhine River. He also predicted that there would be another huge German offensive in the West. Eventually he was proven right as the German attack in the Ardennes, known historically as the Battle of the Bulge would take place in nine weeks. As for fortress Singapore, FDR for sure didn’t want to attack fortified positions with the high resultant casualties, unless the position had strategic importance. Singapore had no strategic importance and he recommended that it be isolated from the north with an effort in the Malay Peninsula.

He explained that General MacArthur had successfully bypassed the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul and that Singapore could also be isolated and marginalized. Of course, the Prime Minister’s display of casualness in the face of casualties made Brooke groan. It was like he couldn’t care less!

But, FDR had convinced the Joint Chiefs of his sage advice and strategy. Admiral Leahy, the senior member of the Combined Chiefs was delighted, as was Field Marshall Brooke, who was also relieved! He later wrote, “My mind is now much more at rest!” The war was finally being “left to the professionals, who knew that its strategic direction bad been set by the president.”

The most interesting and controversial story that came out of the 2nd Quebec Conference was the Morgenthau Proposal on the post war conversion of Germany from an industrialized-based state to a group of bifurcated agricultural, almost min-states. Of course, by many, this was seen as draconian punishment of the German People. Obviously FDR was of that mind. The first negative reaction was from Secretary of War Stimson who was appalled at this, saw it as a case of Jewish vindictiveness, and thought it flew in the face of the Atlantic Charter’s declaration and goals. FDR, though sicker than it seems he would admit, was for sure affected by reports of German brutality, especially to the Jews and others. At first Churchill was indignant and repulsed by the proposal. Conventionally, excuses were made against the plan under the dubious auspices of Christian charity.

Franklin Roosevelt was a confirmed “German-hater.” He told the NY Times in August 1944, “If I had my way, I would keep Germany on a breadline for 25 years!” He wrote Cordell Hull, America’s Secretary of State, “Every person in Germany should realize that this time Germany is a defeated nation… and that the whole nation has been engaged in a lawless conspiracy against the decency of modern civilization.” It was FDR who advocated, against the wishes of Winston Churchill for the policy of “unconditional surrender” and a tough peace. He said that Germany should be dismembered and their leaders punished. Roosevelt, in truth, never rejected the “Morgenthau Plan” that called for the economic destruction of post-war Germany, and let his friend and the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry M. Morgenthau present and promote the plan. Thus, with its revelation, Secretary of War Stimson took a softer line and complained about its brutality to the President. He found that FDR was unwavering in its support, for the concept of a destroyed industrial state, surviving only on agriculture. Whether the plan was sensible or even w viable, it would later be scrapped by Truman who also accused Morgenthau of Jewish vindictiveness. Both Truman and Stimson agreed that no Jews, especially Morgenthau, should be at any peace conference determining the fate of Germany.

Even with Churchill’s opposition, he had almost immediately learned that Great Britain’s Exchequer (Treasury) was virtually broke.  With that in mind, FDR allowed Morgenthau to “sweeten the pot” regarding their effort to have Churchill sign on to the proposal. He made it clear that the US was willing to extend at least $6 billion in Lend-Lease funds to Britain after the war. At this, Churchill did not jump to sign, he leaped. All of sudden, the specter of billions to help Britain, meant that the British may be able to actually retain their hold on their teetering empire.

No matter how it was accomplished, Churchill initialed the Morgenthau Plan for post-war Germany. When the news of the Quebec Conference reached Germany, Propaganda Minister Goebbels claimed, “Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to the Jewish murder plan.” German radio announced that Roosevelt’s “bosom” friend Henry Morgenthau, the “spokesman of world Judaism” was singing the same song as the Jews in the Kremlin,”- dismember Germany, destroy its industry and “exterminate forty-three million Germans.” Interestingly, across the Atlantic, another democratic leader seems to have concurred with the blame-the-Jews theory.

An unpublished article by Winston Churchill, written in 1937 and discovered in the Churchill archives by Cambridge University historian Richard Toye in 2007, claimed that Jews were “partly responsible” for the mistreatment that they suffered. Churchill denounced the “cruel and relentless” persecution of the Jews but then criticized German Jewish refugees in England for their willingness to work for less pay than non-Jewish laborers, which — he claimed — caused antisemitism. Some of Churchill’s earlier statements about Jews and communism indulged in anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as referring to the Russian Bolshevik leadership as “Semitic conspirators” and “Jew Commissars.”

Not long after the breakup of the Quebec Conference, was the failure of the operations to seize the Rhine River Bridges, known as Market-Garden. It was the brainchild of Field Marshall Montgomery, even though it was originally panned by two American generals. The objective was to go north through Holland with airborne units, capturing bridges across the Rhine and bypass the vaunted Siegfried Line. The nexus of this plan seemed to come from various sources regarding the failure to capture French ports from the Germans, attacks by V-2 missiles on London, a problem of supplies, the inability to cross the Rhine River in force, and aggressive German resistance. Montgomery eventually flew to Brussels, where he confronted the Supreme Commander, Dwight Eisenhower, over his reluctance to sign on to this effort, originally called Operation Cornet. Eventually the effort was re-configured according to Montgomery’s design, and by a series of mix-ups, poor coordination, and heavy resistance, the effort failed miserably, and the American and British airborne troops were decimated, and forced to retreat, as the operation turned into a chaotic disaster.

Meanwhile, as bad as FDR felt, he was able to finish the campaign and though it was the closest election in many years, he was able to beat back the aggressive challenges of Governor Tom Dewey of NY, who lost the election. The Republicans campaigned against the New Deal seeking a smaller government and less-regulated economy, as the end of the war seemed in sight. Nonetheless, Roosevelt’s continuing popularity was the main theme of the campaign. To quiet rumors of his poor health, Roosevelt insisted on making a vigorous campaign swing in October and rode in an open car through NYC’s rainy and crowed streets.  He finished the campaign with an address at Brooklyn’s Ebbet’s Field. He certainly had rebounded miraculously. But, this like other extreme efforts, took a lot out of his constitution.

A high point of the campaign occurred when Roosevelt, speaking to a meeting of labor union leaders, gave a speech carried on national radio in which he ridiculed Republican claims that his administration was corrupt and wasteful with tax money. He particularly derided a Republican claim that he had sent a US Navy warship to pick up his Scottish Terrier, Fala, in Alaska, noting that “Fala was furious” at such rumors. The speech was met with loud laughter and applause from the labor leaders. In response, Governor Dewey gave a blistering partisan speech in Oklahoma City a few days later on national radio, in which he accused Roosevelt of being “indispensable” to corrupt big-city Democratic organizations and American Communists; he also referred to members of Roosevelt’s cabinet as a “motley crew”. However, American battlefield successes in Europe and the Pacific during the campaign, such as the liberation of Paris in August 1944 and the successful Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in October 1944, made President Roosevelt unbeatable.

Throughout the campaign, Roosevelt led Dewey in all the polls by varying margins. On Election Day, the Democratic incumbent scored a fairly comfortable victory over his Republican challenger. Roosevelt took 36 states for 432 electoral votes while Dewey won twelve states and 99 electoral votes. In the popular vote, Roosevelt won 25,612,916 (53.4%) votes to Dewey’s 22,017,929 (45.9%).

With the election out of the way, the next big crisis for the Western Allies was the Battle of the Bulge, which followed a massive incursion into the Ardennes Forest by German armored divisions, in their attempt to split the allies and retake the vital port of Antwerp. Eventually, it would fail as the late December weather, which had been incredibly bleak and overcast, had cleared up enough to sufficiently allow Allied airpower to attack all the units of the German army, which had been bottled up at the important crossroad city of Bastogne. Eventually, Bastogne was relieved on the ground by advanced elements of General Patton’s 3rd Army, which had swung northward over a period of 72 hours and relieved the almost surrounded city and its 101st Airborne Division defenders. The battle for Bastogne alone resulted in 3000 American casualties as they faced a German force over five times its size. As for the Battle of the Bulge, it was a last gasp effort by the Germans in the West and it was the largest battle fought in the West.

Total American casualties were over 85,000, with British losses at less than 1,500 and with the German losses, upwards of 100,000. With the collapse of Germany’s last offensive effort in the West, along with the Soviet Union’s penetration into Warsaw, Poland, it became apparent that there needed to be another Big Three Meeting to determine the final “end game” strategy of the European War and to determine what would happen in the war against Japan.

Therefore the critical Big 3 meeting was scheduled for the Crimea. The USS Quincy, a heavy cruiser, and a sister ship to the USS Baltimore, carried FDR on his last overseas odyssey to Yalta. He was accompanied by his daughter Anna, and a small entourage on board, which included his Chief of Staff Admiral Leahy, his Director of War Mobilization, former US Supreme Court Justice James (Jimmy) F. Byrnes, his Press Secretary Steve Early, his political adviser Ed Flynn, from the Bronx, his naval and military aides, his two doctors and three officers from the White House map room.

On January 31, 1945 as they passed into the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar, they celebrated FDR’s 63rd birthday, one day later. On February 2nd they entered into the Grand Harbor at Valletta, Malta and disembarked. All of bomb ravaged Malta was out to greet him along with Ambassador Harriman, Harry Hopkins, his personal assistant, and Anthony Eden. Ed Flynn remarked, “It was quite an emotional moment!” One could just imagine how this small island, which endured 1000 air raids welcomed this great leader of the United Nations and the Western Allies.

After their stay in Malta, he and his intimate team, bordered a newly furbished C-54, the latest, newly equipped version of his plane, the “Sacred Cow.” (an early version of Air Force1). The plane was screened by six fighter planes and escorted to Russia.

Churchill, from his perspective, according to Harry Hopkins, dreaded the conference and despised the location. But, since Churchill had flown to meet personally with Stalin in Moscow, he wasn’t going to be left out of this conference. As damaged as Yalta was treated by the Nazis invaders and looters, who even took out the piping in most of the buildings, including the summer residence of the former Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, the Livadia Palace, it was meticulously restored and rehabilitated by the Russians. Frankly, it was in excellent condition.

In the last few months of his life, FDR struggled to balance the interests of the West, the special relationship with Great Britain, and the criticality of building trust with the Soviet Union and their leader Josef Stalin. He understood the anxiety of the Russians; their fear of the rise of German militarism in the future, and he also knew that the Soviets feared a united Western Alliance, bent on their destruction.

He envisioned a Big Four, comprised of the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the emerging China, which would keep the peace, work for decolonization, and build understanding between competing economic and social systems. He understood the dynamic of nationalism and he also understood clearly that the Soviet Union was in control of Eastern Europe and that they would not easily give up their hard earned, with blood and treasure, buffer. He certainly didn’t believe it was in America’s interest to fight a 3rd World War over Poland’s sovereignty. Despite the opinion of his conservative critics, FDR was quite aware of what he was doing at Yalta. He tried to build confidence in Stalin, by showing him that the West was not in monolithic lockstep. He did annoy Churchill, who couldn’t understand his tactics, and it was basically the British who criticized his health and attentiveness. Almost all the others, did not see FDR as the “weak sister” of the conference. He was for sure the leader of the Big Three and he also understood the reality of “Russian boots on the ground.” During his later address to a Joint Session of Congress he addressed that reality.

Of course, as FDR and many of his aides understood, “the United States had not entered the war to take responsibility for the democratic future of such enemies – which they had effectively become German allies, following Hitler’s declaration of war on America.” There was in reality little that the United States could actually do to save them from communism. On the other hand this did not mean having to abandon the notion of a United Nation Organization. Even with British protests regarding the Russian view on Poland, and their support for the Lublin Poles (Russian backed, government in exile) the British had almost zero cooperation from the London Poles, and they couldn’t help Poland in 1939 and for sure couldn’t help them in 1944 or 1945. Where were these democracies in Eastern Europe? They certainly never had a democratic tradition in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Croatia, or Poland! The Baltic States were controlled by Russian and the Soviets before 1917 and had varied periods of independence until 1939 when they were conquered by the Germans. The Finns were aligned with the Germans against the Soviets and Austria was basically a Nazi state. There would not be a satisfactory answer to both Britain’s concerns about the future of a free Poland, along with the lesser concerns of the United States about the same issue. This consequences would have later political consequences for both the Democratic Party in the wake of FDR’s passing in Warm Spring on April 12, 1945, and the British general election, which would oust the ruling Conservative Party coalition and cause the replacement of Churchill as Prime Minister with Labour’s Clement Attlee.

Aside from all the reports of divisions between the Western Allies and concerns about Stalin’s cooperation, the Big Three were able, with the assistance of their staffs, to issue a comprehensive statement, which would eventually reach Hitler’s underground bunker. Hitler, virtually a sick, broken, and delusional prisoner in his Chancellery Bunker, was still railing to all who would listen, that the Allies would soon be divided, fighting amongst each other and that the 3rd Reich’s super weapons would snatch from the jaws of defeat, victory. The Nazi regime’s 2nd most influential voice, Herr Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister, also bought into the myth that the Yalta Conference would be an abject failure.

The fact that Russian armies in the East and the Allied armies in the West were, against stiff German resistance, moving inexorably towards Berlin seemed to be irrelevant.  Goebbels was about to ask Hitler to make a “clear statement of the war aims,” but that became patently realistic when the details of the Yalta Agreement reached the Bunker.

On February 12, 1945, the statement hit the delusional top Nazis with a large dose of realism. Its declaration, divided into “nine separate sectors and covered not only how the allies proposed to end the war.” It specified the following: specified occupation zones (US, Soviet, British and French), a new world security system (which would be the United Nations), unconditional surrender (declared at Casablanca), total disarmament, destruction of German war-making potential, an Allied Control Commission (for administrating the post war Germany), dissolution of the German High Command, arrest of German war criminals and their prosecution and punishment, along with complete de-nazification.

The final morning of the Yalta Conference Summit, in February of 1945, saw FDR looking at the sunrise over the Crimea. President Roosevelt and his daughter Anna, who was serving as his aide on this historic trip, managed to get in some sight-seeing on the grounds of the Livadia Palace. The final plenary meeting was held in the president’s dining room, and the final communique’s wording was fleshed out.

At 3:45 PM, that afternoon when the final document was completed, FDR, Churchill and Stalin presented it to their foreign ministers, for their polishing and release. They signed three blank pieces of paper which were to be later affixed to the final copy of the conference’s statement. After the meeting FDR bade his farewell to Churchill, and thanked Stalin for his hospitality. Within a few minutes, after gifts were exchanged, FDR was wheeled to a waiting car and he was driven to the coast of the Black Sea. The Yalta Conference was over, and FDR began his journey, and his “the Last Mission” to Egypt and his meeting with the “three kings!” (Haile Selassie, King Farouk of Egypt and Ibn Sa’ud of Saudi Arabia).

As they made their three hour journey, FDR insisted that they drive through the devastated City of Sevastopol, once thought to be the most beautiful port city in Europe, now as the Chicago Tribune called it, “the city of death.” It was completely destroyed by the Nazi siege, and the pre-war population of 150,000, had been reduced to a few thousand. FDR boarded the USS Catoctin for a night’s rest in the captain’s quarters. In the morning he faced another 3.5 hour drive (80 miles) to Saki Airport, where he met Harry Hopkins, Secretary of State Stettinius and his translator Charles Bohlen, along with other members of the American delegation and Foreign Minister Molotov.

The flight was a slow and torturous effort covering 1000 miles and 5.5 hours from the Crimea to Egypt. Because of FDR’s heart condition, the flight could not be above 10,000 feet and the plane had to circumvent Turkey’s high mountain peaks. Eventually the plane landed at Deversoir Field on the shores of the Great Bitter Lake, which is part of the Suez Canal system.  Of course, in the last few months of his life, FDR did assure both the Zionists in America of his continued support and the British and the Arabs that he would not unilaterally force a Zionist state on them without their consent. This dualism is not easily answered. In a sense FDR was continuing his balancing act with his British Allies. He understood their deep reliance on both India, with their large Muslim population and their long relationship with the Arabs. Certainly he did want not to threaten their unity with extraneous issues not related to winning the war in both Europe and Japan. He was unaware that the Atomic Bomb would be successfully tested in the coming months, and therefore he looked forward to a long bitter and bloody struggle to subdue and conquer Japan. Again, Roosevelt was also exhausted by his 12,000+ mile trip back and forth to Yalta.  The last leg of his voyage on the Quincy was marked by the fact that Harry Hopkins was terribly ill and had to be flown back to the states, and the death of his naval aide, and close friend General Edwin “Pa” Watson. In a sense, according to Ambassador Alexander Kirk, who had been part of the President’s diplomatic party, it was a “Death Ship!’

FDR’s Yalta Address was carried live on the radio and during his later address to a Joint Session of Congress he addressed that reality. There were few who could disagree with his evaluation. His extemporaneous remarks led some among the American Zionists to wonder about his true commitment to a Jewish State. Maybe in reaction to this original misconception, FDR on March 16, 1945, allowed Rabbi Stephen Wise to quote him directly and say: that FDR’s positive position on Zionism, from October of 1944, had not changed. Wise’s private account of this meeting is more sanguine, as he wrote in a note to Chaim Weizmann.

Wise revealed that FDR did something he rarely did, admit, “the one failure of his trip,” FDR confessed, “had been his meeting with Ibn Sa’ud.” Indeed, the president had arranged this meeting, “for the sake of your cause!” He deeply regretted his inability to make an impression on the Saudi ruler. “I have never so completely failed to make an impact upon a man’s mind in as in his case.” FDR feared that Sa’ud would attempt to unify the Arab States in a “holy war” which could easy defeat the small contingent of Jews in Palestine. He then revealed that the issue be brought eventually to the first meeting of the Council of the United Nations.

Franklin D. Roosevelt would never see the opening of the United Nations in San Francisco. As the world knows, he passed away on April 12, 1945, at his small home, the Little White House, in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was both the “Soldier of Freedom,” and as James MacGregor Burns said, “The Lion and the Fox.” He was the creator of the New Deal which halted and reversed the Great Depression. He authored the Four Freedoms and wrote the Atlantic Charter with Winston Churchill. He was the architect of victory for the Western World over the forces of darkness and enslavement. He founded the United Nations. His words and ideas would be incorporated in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He fought for victory to the end, and gave his life as an average soldier would in battle.

At his death, Winston Churchill said, “In the days of peace he had broadened and stabilized the foundation of American life and union. In war he had raised the strength, might, and glory of the Great Republic to a height never achieved by any nation in history.” To Churchill, as he stated, “for us it remained only to say that in Franklin Roosevelt there died the greatest American friend we have ever known and the greatest champion who ever brought help and comfort from the New World to the Old.”

In speaking of the late President, Churchill said in Parliament to the members of the House of Commons on April 17, 1945, “he died in harness, and we may say in battle harness, like his soldiers, sailors, and airmen, who side by side with ours are carrying on their task to the end, all over the world. What an enviable death was his.”

FDR never anticipated his own death and no matter how much he would have brought Truman into the councils of his own thoughts and strategy, he could not guide Truman’s hand from the grave. Truman, with all of his limitations, turned out to be a strong and resolute chief executive. Of course, the Harriman “Cold Warrior” hardliners won the day, but ironically both he and George Kennan reversed their thinking on reengaging with the Moscow.

In the words of Professor Costigliola, in his book, “Roosevelt’s Los Alliances,” “It was Harriman, who had worked most tirelessly to distort and undo Roosevelt’s vision, who later paid the most poignant testimony to his wartime boss.  Harriman later stated, “FDR was basically right in thinking he could make progress by personal relations with Stalin… The Russians were utterly convinced that the change came as result of the shift from Roosevelt to Truman.”  Harriman added, “If Roosevelt had lived with full vigor, it’s very hard to say what could have happened because – Roosevelt could lead the world.”

Of course FDR’s death, like Lincoln’s almost exactly eighty years earlier had proven to be a disaster for America. Great leadership is not easy to develop. Truman, though an excellent president, who history has treated quite kindly, could not fill the Seven League boots of his great predecessor.

In the end, neither FDR nor Churchill, made any headway with Sa’ud, who was an obdurate, narrow-minded oligarch, who had no concept of what the future, which was upon him, would mean. FDR, caught between his desire to aid the Zionist cause and to maintain good relations with the oil-rich Arabs, would struggle with this intractable problem right up to his death.

Even though his effort in moving the process along, had failed, it had marked a remarkable alteration in the evolution of American involvement in foreign policy.  The United States, from that moment on would now be a player in world events, aside from contributing mightily to the defeat of both the militarism of the Kaiser’s Germany in the First World War and Nazi Germany, in the 2nd.  The United States had become a global force, far beyond the New World and the Monroe Doctrine.

One of the great causes of the failed peace was the death of FDR, because he was the only one with the skills and prestige to lead the West and insure the peace. Truman did as best as he could, considering his inexperience and poor advice.

As to the West, its fear of communism obfuscated the crimes of the Fascists, Nazis and Eastern European strongmen, who brutalized Germany, Italy and all the countries east of the Oder-Niese. The dictators of Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania were not democratically inclined and Poland was run by a military junta. FDR was not going to commit the US to go to war over Poland and he had stated that the Russians and Poles had hated each other for centuries and they both had blood on their hands. How correct he was! Poland was the trip wire for war with regards to Britain and France. They had no special allegiance to Poland and their treaties were signed to draw the line with regards to German aggression. As to the Soviet Union, they were making geo-political deals to survive no differently than the West. As to Stalin, he was in a long line of oligarchs who had run Russia forever. The crimes of the Romanov’s, which had lasted 400 years, were not much different then the Bourbons of France and the other royal dynasties that disappeared in Austria and Spain. As Napoleon sagely said, “The victors write the history.” In the same sense, that the Soviets and the Russian people, after hundreds of years of oppression, turned to another system and, for better or worse, supported it.

Roosevelt and Church, their Political and Military Legacies

Part IV

With regards to Winston Churchill, the political role of the American system is much different then Britain. Churchill never had to really stand for election as leader and was never really trusted with “domestic” responsibilities. He was much more of a “loose cannon” and never really felt comfortable working with others. He was certainly a fabulous talent, but had too many inner doubts to be completely confident with himself. His “black” moods and depression limited his ability to have the confidence to “rule.” He had too many opinions that limited his ability to make political alliances. He was a man of action and not a calculating “planner.” He never understood the need to build organizations of political support. He was basically a talented loner.

His forte was more foreign policy and the Empire. He had cabinet level domestic responsibilities early in his career, but his name and fortune was linked with the navy when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Of course because Britain was primarily a naval power since the time of Drake, and through Nelson, and had dominated the seas, the post of First Lord of the Admiralty had great cachet.

He was not willing to sublimate himself to the will of others, and never could pose, or participate as a team player. Later on, after the WWII victory, he wasn’t prepared for the 1945 elections that swamped him and his government. His campaign was terrible and he did not have a “clue” what the public was thinking about its needs. On one hand, he was still a captive of the upper classes that dominated British life. He seemed unaware and unconcerned, regarding how the MacDonald-Baldwin-Chamberlain governments ignored the working classes that suffered throughout the Depression.

Of course, British politics were divided between the “plutocrats” and the “aristocrats” and Churchill never seemed to know where he fit. He was not keen on real reform that would have worked to restructure the critically unbalanced British economic and social landscape along with its infrastructure.  He never understood the moribund future of colonialism, and his attitude towards India was foolish and archaic. His political philosophy was inconstant and vacillating. Both sides of the British ideological divide constantly mistrusted him. He was not able to dominate either party and was perceived by the public as a political outsider with no place to “hang his hat.” His strategy as First Lord of the Admiralty, in the First World War, was badly criticized after the disaster of Gallipoli. His “snafu” was actuated more by logistical insanity then strategic miscalculation. All in all, it was a costly failure in blood and material, and therefore his career suffered terribly.

With regards to WW II his strategy was basically no better than Chamberlain’s. Under his watch the British experienced disasters with the navy in Norway, the 8th Army in North Africa and its collapse at Tobruk, the insane and huge defeat and disaster in Singapore, (the worst and most costly British defeat in history), the disaster at Dunkerque, the catastrophic losses of the HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales off Hainan Island, near the Chinese mainland, the abandonment of Greece and Crete, the ill-fated attack at Dieppe, the alienation of the French and the subsequent defection of the French fleet, causing the need for it to be crippled by British naval action along with many others. He was lucky that the Nazis re-directed the Luftwaffe to bomb British cities and not go after their radar early warning stations, their aerodromes, and the British fighter defense. A smartly delivered strategy against these targets would have reduced the British to a position where their air cover became hopeless.

Basically, US Lend-Lease, the US Navy and the convoy system, the undeclared US naval war in the North Atlantic against the Nazi submarine wolf packs, and the attacks by Germany on Yugoslavia and Greece, culminating with the postponed late spring, early summer invasion of Russia helped Britain survive. Churchill’s strong vocal leadership rallied Britain and the free world, but without Roosevelt and the power that he formulated by creating the “Arsenal of Democracy,” Britain would have eventually been beaten despite the flawed Hitlerian strategy. If the US had not helped Britain with our fleet, the fifty-destroyer exchange and Lend-Lease for Russia, the Soviets probably would have been neutralized and the further European resistance would have ceased. Greece and Yugoslavia were basically beaten, and the rest of the Eastern Europe, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania were German allies. Turkey was in Germany’s camp and would have remained an associated “player” looking to reclaim their former Ottoman Empire.

Churchill did have many successes aside from American help. Their victory at Taranto that devastated the Italian fleet, the sinking of the Graf Spee, the hunting down of the Bismarck, the destruction of the 10 German destroyers off Norway, his policy supporting Orde Wingate and the Chindits in Burma, his mobilizing massive bombing raids over Germany, the destruction of the French dry docks at Saint Nazaire, and his selection of Montgomery to head the British 8th along with his subsequent victory at El Alemain were strong plusses. But even with the entrance of America into the war, later British strategy with Churchill’s blessing and interference led to the huge loses in Holland with the ill-fated Market-Garden assault on the Dutch bridges. Montgomery, Churchill’s greatest choice for leadership squandered his opportunity to cross the Rhine and was trumped by the American capture of the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen.

That single event of intrepid work by American forces dealt a huge blow to German resistance on the Western front. While Montgomery was accumulating landing craft, the US Army was surging over the Rhine with men and armor, creating an unassailable bridgehead, and trapping German forces on the wrong side of the River.

FDR, on the other hand mobilized the American economy in an unprecedented way, fought an effective two ocean war, selected and appointed excellent overall leadership with his Joint Chiefs lead by Admiral William D. Leahy, who coordinated the activities of Generals Marshall and Arnold along with Admiral King. FDR’s selections, in all of the theaters of his responsibility, of MacArthur, Nimitz, Eisenhower, reflected excellent carefully thought out judgment. Their choices of subordinates that included Bedell-Smith, Clark, Bradley, Patton, Hodges, Simpson, Eaker, Doolittle, Stillwell, Halsey, Spruance, Vandergrift, Smith, Lemay and many others, spelled eventual success.

FDR also chose Republicans Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox to head the War and Navy Departments, along with William “Wild Bill” Donovan,” a Republican, who ran against Herbert Lehman for Governor of New York, as his personal envoy,  his chief information gatherer, without portfolio, and eventually the head of the OSS, (Office of Strategic Services.) It was this spy and espionage agency which became the forerunner of the CIA.

FDR’s greatest skill was balancing the needs, egos, and innate rivalries of these ambitious, talented men. He also had to balance the political necessities involving the Executive Branch regarding State, the War and Navy Departments, and the needs and desires of Congress. With the leadership of the skilled, non-partisan Marshall and the politically astute Stimson and Knox, American wartime policy was able to balance the different needs expressed by Cordell Hull, the American Secretary of State and FDR’s friend and upstate NY, neighbor, Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who did a masterful job in financing the massive spending required during WWII.

His speeches, and cool leadership gave the people confidence after Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. FDR’s leadership of the wartime conferences at Argentia Bay, Quebec, Casablanca, Teheran and Yalta were the driving force behind victory and the post-war dominance of the West. His sponsoring of the Bretton Woods Conference had the most lasting effect on the future world’s economies vis-à-vis monetary stability. All in all FDR’s domestic leadership before and during the war were unprecedented. The late President, the architect of victory, won a hard earned election in 1944, with excellent majorities in Congress, even with his health suffering from advance heart disease and arterial sclerosis. He was able to maintain his majorities in Congress all through his tenure in office, and even though the Democrats narrowly lost Congress in 1946, they quickly recovered their majorities until the Eisenhower landslide of 1952. But from 1954 until the 1980’s the FDR-New Deal coalition of Democrats maintained Congressional hegemony.

Aside from this top-notch staff which built the largest army we had ever had, they built the largest navies and air forces the world had ever seen. From total forces that numbered in the hundreds of thousands, these men, with the guidance of FDR created a force able to win victories in the Pacific and put together the incredible multi-service and national forces that successfully invaded Europe and prosecuted the European War from North Africa, to Sicily, to Italy, and then on to Normandy and Marseilles, before it moved on to the Rhine River and into the heart of Nazi Germany.

FDR’s greatest skill was balancing the needs, egos, and innate rivalries of these ambitious, talented men. He also had to balance the political necessities involving the Executive Branch regarding State, the War and Navy Departments, and the needs and desires of Congress. With the leadership of the skilled, non-partisan Marshall and politically astute Stimson and Knox, American wartime policy was able to balance the different needs expressed by Cordell Hull, the American Secretary of State and FDR’s friend and upstate NY, neighbor, Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who did a masterful job in financing the massive spending required during WWII.

Churchill, as a man, was bold, talented and basically remarkable. He was a brilliant speaker, a marvelous writer, a brave soldier, a reporter, a painter, a magnificent Parliamentarian, a cabinet official, a Prime Minister, and most importantly a beloved wartime leader. He embodied what was great about Britain. But he was a failure as a politician, lacked excellent judgment went it came to strategy and suffered from great insecurities. His terrible childhood and education plagued him with self-doubts, depression and lack of direction.

Churchill spent a lifetime comparing himself to his father Randolph who had a meteoric political career but eventually became a miserable failure. Churchill, like Roosevelt, became much more a product of his mother. Overall he was able to overcome all of those limitations. Churchill was still, at heart, part of the “ruling class” that dominated Britain. He was still part of the Imperialist mindset, and he was still sadly lacking, with regards, to what the average “Brit” needed.

He never built a political base, and when the post-war choices were made he was cast aside with little regret from the British people. His return to office in 1951 was no great success and he was too, too old to be a major factor in re-shaping Britain after years of war and social reform.

FDR was not the writer that Churchill was, but as an orator he was certainly in his league. He was determined and self-confident. His childhood was one of nurtured success and happiness. He was beloved by his adoring parents.  He was self-educated to age fourteen and went on to the best schools where he achieved moderate success. In a dissimilar way, FDR’s father, whom he adored and respected, died when he was eighteen while he was a freshman at Harvard.

Unlike Churchill’s father who was much younger, James Roosevelt was intimately interested in his second son. His first son, a product of his earlier marriage to Rebecca Howland, who died, was 29 years older and his contact with him was not well known. But even with his loss, FDR had looked up to his father and respected his judgment and memory. James Roosevelt was not a politician like Randolph Churchill, and with his death FDR was able to transform his need for a psychological mentor to his 5th cousin Theodore Roosevelt.

Unlike Churchill, FDR was the single greatest elected politician in modern history and was able to overcome the devastating physical challenge of Polio. He was a vigorous man who overcame a lifetime of sickness. He had wonderful mentors, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Smith, and Woodrow Wilson. He took something from all of them, and was smart enough to avoid the problems they all experienced.

He shaped his own destiny, built the new Democratic Party, reversed the Depression, rallied the public, instilled great respect from the world at large, inspired great enemies and opposition, took on the Fascists when America wanted no part of that fight, created the United Nations, built the “Arsenal of Democracy” and through his actions, at the Atlantic Conference in Argentia Bay, put forth his vision of the world based on the “Four Freedoms.” His vision is the vision of the modern world; his vision is of one of the world community pulling together for the common good. Not unlike Churchill, who was one of the lone voices protesting against “appeasement,” FDR had withstand an “American First” isolationism that cut across almost all social and political barriers and subgroups. FDR had to use his unequaled mastery of the America political landscape to on one hand re-arm America and on the other hand battle the limitations of our Neutrality Laws and the passion of people like Charles Lindbergh, who were his most vocal critics.

In retrospect Churchill really left no governmental legacy. He really never governed. FDR’s legacy was one of not only unprecedented leadership, but of government innovation, reform and restructuring. Both have great-unequaled places in the history of our world and our time.

*Many of the passages in quotation, before the comparison between FDR and Churchill, are taken directly from the Nigel Hamilton’s words.

 

 

 

Memorial Field Mount Vernon, A Sordid Story of Corruption 2-22-12

Last August 31, 2011, Mayor Clinton I. Young, Jr., Westchester County Board of Legislators Vice Chairman Lyndon D. Williams and Recreation Commissioner Peter J. Neglia, as well as hundreds of elected officials and community members broke ground at the new Stadium at Memorial Field. The $12.7 million renovation of Memorial Field had pushed forward despite attempts to derail its progress. Mayor Young and Vice Chairman Williams were joined by U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Council members Steven Horton and Yuhanna Edwards.

At the ground breaking, Young stated, “I thank Vice Chairman Lyndon Williams for delivering the funding for this important project. Memorial Field is a jewel for the city and the County of Westchester. It’s a real exciting day for the City of Mount Vernon,”

Mayor Young announced that Mount Vernon based Avanti Building and Construction Corporation had been awarded the contract to perform Phase I of the Memorial Field project, which included demolition of the old stadium and construction site prep work. The demolition was expected to be completed in three months.  Of course, this was now almost two years after the money authorized by the County of Westchester.

As time advanced, concern was finally voiced by Westchester County Board of Legislators Vice-Chairman Lyndon D. Williams (D-Mount Vernon) who said he was unhappy that the $12.7 million state-the-art Memorial Field renovation project continued to be stalled because if inaction by Mount Vernon city officials.  In a letter to Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young and City Council President Karen Watts, Vice-Chairman Williams expressed disappointment with the city’s delay of a project, which he had worked hard to have funded through the County’s Legacy Program. “It’s been two years since the City of Mount Vernon and the County entered into an agreement for the development of Memorial Field into a state-of-the-art stadium through the County’s Legacy program,” said Vice-Chairman Williams.

“In December 2009, eleven (11) months after approving the Memorial Field project, the County Board approved a similar project in New Rochelle.  Although Mount Vernon’s Memorial Field project was approved almost one year before New Rochelle, the Flowers Park Renovation Project in New Rochelle is far ahead and is in its final phase of completion. The New Rochelle City Council adopted bid legislation in early 2010 and bids were awarded in May 2010,” said Vice-Chairman Williams.

Where is the money?  That is the question on the minds of taxpayers throughout the City of Mount Vernon.  On Tuesday, May 17, 2011, bids were opened for Memorial Field to begin the construction phase of the project.  Prior to the bid opening by the Board of Estimate and Contract, City Clerk George Brown made it crystal clear that the City of Mount Vernon had only $11.5M to spend on the re-building of Memorial Field.

As the bids were opened, the lowest bid came in at $13.7M leaving a shortfall of $2.2M.  Many taxpayers questioned the motives of City Council President Karen Watts. The Journal News and News 12 ran stories about City Council President Watts collecting unemployment insurance while on the City of Mount Vernon payroll.  Watts may face criminal charges.

City Hall inundated with e-mails and phone calls regarding the situation of Watts.  Concerned citizens are looking for answers and seeking advice on how to oust her from office. Mount Vernon resident Mike Sklar publicly called for Watts’ resignation.

In a story in Mount Vernon Exposed, one of the city’s news blogs, it was alleged that Watts had reached a deal with Mayor Young., regarding his help with her unemployment situation.  Mayor Young then allegedly told Watts that he would help her out if she endorsed his candidacy for Mayor and publicly trash Comptroller Maureen Walker.  Again, it was alleged that Watts agreed to this deal.  It was told to Mount Vernon Exposed that Watts’ public endorsement of Mayor Young was scheduled for the same day the Journal News and News 12 broke their stories about Watts’ unemployment fiasco.

It has also been alleged that Watts will be stepping down from the City Council after all approvals are complete for the Memorial Field project.  Mayor Young has allegedly agreed to hire Watts as the Recreation Commissioner. It is public knowledge that Watts is having financial difficulties such as 20 thousand dollars in back taxes.  This type of behavior leads to major improprieties, scandals and corruption.  Watts would then be out publicly lobbying for Mayor Young’s re-election campaign as part of the deal to push her criminal activity under the rug.

The Memorial Field project was planned poorly from the beginning.  Greed and incompetence were the key driving forces behind this project.  As part of the agreement with the County of Westchester, the City of Mount Vernon now has to maintain all County roads and sewers previously owned and maintained by the County of Westchester.  One single road opening to repair the County sewer line that runs through Memorial Fields will cost upwards of $500K.

City Officials also seriously underestimated the true cost of construction for the Memorial Field project.  City Officials put the price tag for construction at $13M when in fact the cost of construction is $21M.  Where is the money?

Where to Park? Poor planning on the part of City officials also comes into play with the Memorial Field project.  The ambitious design of Memorial Field currently plans to accommodate 6,500 spectators and employees; however City planners did not factor in parking for all these cars.  On average, a car holds approximately 2.5 persons.  This would equate to 2,600 cars at full stadium capacity.  The current facility can only accommodate 400 cars. There was speculation that City Officials plan on using eminent domain to demolish homes on Garden Avenue to build a new parking lot for Memorial Field.  Poor planning done by City officials will prove costly for taxpayers as the Town of Pelham will likely litigate to stop the construction of Memorial Field.

Meanwhile Legislator Watts had been busy making deals with Mayor Young and others. Intercounty Paving was hired at a cost of $600K to repave various streets throughout the City of Mount Vernon.  The project had a mysterious cost overrun of $309K and immediately thereafter, Comptroller Maureen Walker began to audit the contracts and change orders for Intercounty paving.  Instead of allowing the audit to take its course, Council President Watts joined forces with Mayor Young and decided to vote to pay Intercounty Paving over the objections of Comptroller Walker. Needless to say Comptroller Walker did not vote on behalf of this payment.

The audit that was being conducted by the Comptroller’s office didn’t mean anything to Watts and company.  I guess being afraid that Mayor Young would expose her dirty little secret influenced her to vote the way she did on Memorial Field and to issue payment to Intercounty Paving.  The City of Mount Vernon is a municipal mess of mismanagement and corruption.

Cost overruns are common in the construction business, however many experts and professionals view cost overruns as a scam to bilk the consumers out of tens of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. The paving of Mount Vernon City streets performed by Intercounty Paving and approved by Commissioner Horton were not installed to the Dept. of Transportation and NYS BID Specifications.  In fact, the work done by Intercounty Paving that resulted in overbilling City of Mount Vernon taxpayers $309K, was done prior to City Council approval.  Watts was fully aware that the original purchase order was only for $600K.  Instead of protecting the taxpayers that she was elected to serve, Watts chose to go along with the status quo and voted to defraud the City of Mount Vernon of $309K, knowing fully that the deal was made in her and Mayor Young’s best interest.

Intercounty Paving was represented by August Nigro, a big time financial supporter of Mayor Young.  Mr. Nigro is also a high ranking member of Mayor Young’s golf outing committee.  Sources told Mount Vernon Exposed that Mr. Nigro was in attendance at the Board and Estimate meetings in attempt to put pressure on City officials to release funds that he was not entitled to.

The illegal payment authorized by Watts and her colleagues on the City Council was done even though City Council members received written notification of the ongoing audit.  Watts is no stranger to controversy.  At the Board of Estimate meeting, Watts was adamant about Intercounty County paving getting paid.

Mount Vernon Exposed recently learned that a complaint was filed with the F.B.I and the New York State Attorney General’s office seeking a full investigation on Watts and Intercounty Paving.  In addition to possible corruption on behalf of Watts’ and Intercounty Paving, City of Mount Vernon taxpayers will again be left holding the bag due to greed and incompetence of City officials.

The New York State Department of Transportation sets forth guidelines for paving road surfaces.  The D.O.T. standards were part of the Bid Specifications but were not adhered to by Commissioner Horton and Intercounty Paving. Hot Mixed Asphalt is not to be applied to surfaces that are colder than 34 degrees, and the cutoff date of November 15, is clearly stated in Bid Specifications. Eager to say that roads were not paved during an election year, Mayor Young chose to put his personal ambitions and agenda above the constituents that he was duly elected to serve.  Streets in Mount Vernon were paved up to and including December 27, 2010, well after D.O.T regulations and guidelines. The damage of this blatant abuse is irreparable, the reason for these dates and temperatures for work to be performed is, if applied when it’s cold the Hot Mixed Asphalt will not stick to its surface and will not adhere and lift over time. That is the purpose for following the D.O. T. State Regulations. The State of N.Y. wouldn’t condone this type of taxpayer waste of monies.

Funding for the paving of City streets came from two sources; Mount Vernon taxpayers and Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS).  The City of Mount Vernon is in danger of losing the (CHIPS) money due to City officials not adhering to guidelines.

Meanwhile on January 31, 2012, Ernie Davis, the newly elected mayor has put the brakes on his predecessor’s plan to raze the old stadium at Memorial Field to make way for a state-of-the-art sports complex. Instead, Mayor Ernie Davis is proposing a more modest renovation at the field that he says will cost less in the long run and preserve the 81-year-old stadium and tennis courts. Davis said Tuesday he recently ordered Avanti Building Construction Corp., the contractor hired for the park site’s preparation, to halt further demolition. The contractor will be paid for the work it has done up to this point.

This “is a historic building, and it should be treated as such,” Davis said during a Board of Estimate and Contract meeting Tuesday. “To take it down and put up what they have planned to put up to me is ludicrous.” The original plan, backed by former Mayor Clinton Young, called for razing the old stadium and building a new complex with grandstands to seat 4,000; an eight-lane track; an illuminated synthetic-turf football/soccer field; a natural-turf illuminated soccer field; and an illuminated basketball court. The city broke ground at the site in August amid much fanfare.

Davis said Tuesday that such a project would be grossly out of scale with the city’s needs, and would almost certainly exceed the original 2009 cost estimate of $12.7 million. Maintenance alone would cost the city about $600,000 per year, he said. Davis’s revised plan calls for a running track with fewer lanes; grass playing fields; the restoration of the old stadium with renovated bathrooms and improved handicap access. He would also like to incorporate a restaurant into the new design.

Davis could not provide a cost estimate for his proposal Tuesday, but maintained it would be cheaper than the original plan. The county had committed $9.7 million from its Legacy Program to fund the project, with the city responsible for the balance.

Westchester County Legislator Lyndon Williams said Tuesday that the county’s commitment was based on the original design approved by the city and the county in 2009. Williams said that any new plan will have to be reviewed by county officials if the city is to continue receiving that funding. Still, Williams said he is not opposed to changing course, as long as the field is rehabilitated in some form. “My role is to change what I see as a much deteriorated facility,” he said. “I have no basis for quarreling with a different vision.”