The Rats The Dark Decade: America in the 40s by Wendy Walters Despite being locked in the middle of passing the GI Bill, which would eventually get through and prove a great boon to helping servicemen find jobs and security, Wallace was forced to spend precious time and political capital trying to rebuild his cabinet after the fallout of the Guru Letters. Practically the only person who didn’t voice criticism to Wallace over the affair was Truman and only because, in Truman’s words ‘we needed someone to replace Wallace and I was scared Wallace would handpick him.’ Firstly, some of the roles would be outright abolished, notably ‘Secretary of War’, which became the first ‘Secretary of Defence’ role in the United States. This would be presided over by Robert Patterson, who had become well known for his encouraging more participation from Black American soldiers in the War. Others would keep their jobs, such as Henry Morgenthau as Treasury Secretary, whom Wallace liked owing to their mutual, unflinching hatred of Fascism. Harry Dexter White was appointed as Morgenthau’s Deputy owing to their close relationship. The most notable appointment came as a result of outrage by Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. He was angry over the Guru Letters and Wallace didn’t trust a businessman running things in the highest reaches of the White House. Other names were thrown around, but one name was lobbied fairly aggressively. He had done a lot of great work with the United Nations, helping set up the charter and was well-liked internationally. He was considered a good candidate by everyone who heard Wallace’s reasoning. Thus, it was decided: Alger Hiss would be the next Secretary of State. Overall, the new cabinet was more left wing than the one Wallace had inherited, but not radically so. It seemed reasonably sane at the time. Morgenthau’s re-appointment was the main bone of contention, as Morgenthau’s leaked plan calling for Germany to be de-industrialized had stiffened resistance in the last days of the war. Ultimately, Morgenthau was chosen expressly because Wallace did not want to radically improve relations with Germany. He did not want to drag America into another conflict, especially when he saw the new one taking shape in Europe to be between moral grey zones. He regarded Hitlerism as evil personified, but saw a ‘Colonial-Fascist’ alliance as little better than any Communist alliance. He ordered his new Secretary of State to maintain friendly relations with the Soviet Union to avoid having America brought into another war. Alger Hiss would be quite good at this job, though not for the reasons Wallace suspected. Interview of Storm Thurmond for PBS’s ‘The Wallace Years’ (1984) Interviewer: “Why did you and your associates decide to form your own political party?” Thurmond: “The main reason was unquestionably Dickstein and Wallace’s total aversion to the truth. He tried to pretend this was all a bunch of hoo-haw coming from a gaggle of right-wing extremists and all that. But we knew better. We knew the Northern section of the Democrats had totally lost that connection with the ordinary American. Your everyday American was worried about Communism. We had a Red making the laws! You’d think we’d be trying to fix that but Wallace was pretending that nothing was even happening! He was talking about all these extreme policies when it came to taxation and taking property. Now, that environment was tailor-made to let thousands of Commies come crawling in the woodworks and pollute the party we’d grown up in and loved. But no one was going to kick them out! So we had to make a stand. We had to set up a party that said ‘‘Zero Communists’ are still too many!’ Freedom is Slavery: The Dark History of a Party, by Sam Weathers Thurmond and others would insist that the formation of the Freedom Party was due to the fallout over the Dickstein case. In fact, both he and other prominent segregationists called Wallace in the days after the call to reiterate their support after Dickstein’s arrest. The rumour mills did not churn with news that the Southerners were going to defect any more than before. Dickstein may have been another straw on the camel’s back, but it is hard to argue it was the main event. However, another hypothesis is much more likely. On January 8th 1946, Wallace gave an executive order desegregating the army. This let off an angry fire of wrath from the southerners, who saw it as a blow to the heart of segregation and their local way of life. Wallace did little favors for his position, saying that ‘this was only the first step in the long but necessary road to liberating millions of our fellow Americans from daily indignity’. The Republicans supported Wallace (with even Patton concurring that it was a good move) and the Southern delegation of the Democrat Party now feared Civil Rights becoming the official position of the Democrat Party. When Wallace was asked by reporters on January 15th if Civil Rights would be on the platform in 1948, he said ‘I don’t know, but if it isn’t it won’t be for my lack of trying’. At this, the southern delegation had enough. They were still convinced that Wallace was only a fool, and that he would invite disaster on the South as totally as he had already hurt America’s international reputation. A meeting of representatives for the Dixiecrats was convened in a Washington hotel room on January 19th 1946 to discuss what to do. Some wanted a separate Southern presidential campaign only, but to generally stick to the Democrat whip. Others just wanted to hold the line from inside the Democrat party, feeling Wallace was only going to be a temporary phenomenon and they would take over thereafter. Ultimately, Storm Thurmond finally convinced the majority of attendees that Wallace’s ascension (alongside the influx of far-left Democrat members who came in during his reign to bolster support) meant certain long-term doom for the Democrats. For that reason, he argued, the best plan was to bail out while they could and resist at will from the safety of their own bench. For the new party, a name had to be chosen. Some simply wanted ‘The State’s Rights Democratic Party’ or ‘The Dixiecrats’, but it was successfully argued that there had to be a break from the Democratic legacy, which was already getting tainted by Wallace. Ultimately, a simple name was given in its stead: ‘Freedom’, or ‘The American Freedom Party’. The foundation of the party was Social Conservatism through and through, defending segregation, anti race-mixing laws and the traditional model of society. At the same time, they had broadly interventionist views on the economy, though respecting private property. This was all known to Wallace, who was being informed by sympathetic members of the Southern Caucus what was going on … but he didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, he didn’t want to share the same bathwater with the Dixiecrats and was glad to see them go. He only wished that every one of them defected and he would never have to worry about their influence in the Democrat Party again. When word reached him of the Press Conference that Thurmond, James Eastland and Benjamin Travis Lanely headed, announcing the formation of the American Freedom Party, he thought it was ‘the best news I’ve heard in a whole!’ Despite losing two governorships, five senators and roughly a dozen members of the House (not to mention the defections in the months to come), Wallace refused to see the danger of his support of Civil Rights. Speech by Storm Thurmond at the announcement of the American Freedom Party, February 22nd 1946 “Let us be clear: when we say ‘freedom’ we mean the right of New York not to have segregation as much as South Carolina’s right to do. That’s what ‘freedom’ and ‘state’s rights’ means to us. It means letting people do what they want. But in the modern Democratic Party, it appears that viewpoint isn’t popular anymore. It appears that they consider us abominable, evil, immoral to hold the views we’ve had for generations in circumstances they’ve never had to deal with. At the same time, they’ll let any two-bit Commie stroll in and they’ll put him right to the heart of Washington. If the Democrat Party is more comfortable with Communists than the working men and women all across this nation … If it’s more comfortable with Samuel Dickstein than Robert E. Lee … If it’s more comfortable with people working to destroy America than the people who love it … then it’s clear and sad to say that the Democrat Party is no longer party for any true American.” The Great Terror by Robert Conquest With the death of Togliatti, a new wave of persecution and terror began to grip the Soviet Union and even her new territories. Perhaps the one that suffered the most was Finland. As it had been fully incorporated, her internal opposition was totally exposed to the death grip of the NKVD. The NKVD wasted no time in rounding up anyone suspected of having been members of right-wing parties (even leftists who were right-wing at one stage in their past). Similar actions were taken against prominent policemen and teachers almost everywhere that could be found. All in all, nearly ten percent of Helsinki was arrested in the space of two days in January 1946, with not even half of the total ever returning home from Siberia. Similar demographics were found all across Finland. Carl Gustav Mannerheim, who was in a Helsinki jail cell, was found shot dead. The guards stated he had tried to escape, but given that he was found in a locked cell, it seems unlikely there was any need to shoot him. Mannerheim would become a martyr for Finns, especially among the growing refugee population in Sweden. It is estimated that nearly five hundred thousand Finns would successfully flee the country during the Cold War, a far more successful count than in East Germany. Some suggest this was due to attempts by Russian authorities to encourage the Finns to leave and open Finland up to demographic overthrow. Given the ultimate history of the region, this cannot be entirely dismissed. In East Germany, the local population received the blunt instruments of Soviet hatred. Field Marshall Chuikov was put in charge of the occupation and had no time to make friends among the local population. With the average Russian feeling they had been robbed of the glory of taking Berlin, they treated the locals with unwavering disdain. Stalin outright encouraged the poor treatment of the locals as a way of letting the soldiers ‘blow off righteous steam’. One NKVD commander would infamously tell his comrades upon their arrival in East Berlin, “We are not occupying people. We are keeping the rodents in check’. It’s estimated that anywhere from 25%-50% of East German women between 18-35 were raped between June 1945 when the Soviets began to occupy their regions of Germany and 1948 when the necessities of war forced the Soviets to try and win the local population over. In what was almost an inverse of the Western situation, both SS and Wehrmacht soldiers were rooted out and given merciless sentences. This included Wehrmacht soldiers who didn’t even see combat against Russians and spent their whole time during the war fighting the Nazis. A particularly loathsome practice emerged where ex-Wehrmacht soldiers were arrested on non-existent charges and their sisters, girlfriends and wives were blackmailed into sex by Soviet commanders to save them (which even then was not always successful). When the extent of the rape became known to Soviet leaders, pamphlets were passed out to Soviet troops demanding they ‘never defile themselves with Germans’. These stories were used by Joseph McCarthy on the campaign trail in 1946 and 1948 to slam Wallace’s handing America’s Berlin zone to the Soviets – it proved devastatingly successful. In Poland, however, the mood was different. The well-armed Polish population was (for the time) safe from Soviet brutality. However, the mood was appallingly tense. It was not uncommon for Polish and Soviet troops to stare directly across the road from each other. Polish citizens refused to converse with Soviets, fearing being drawn into a disaster. The newspapers, still free, made frequent mockery of the unloved, unwanted Soviet soldier and his plight in Poland. Soviet soldiers found themselves locked up in their barracks, day and night with nothing to do. Even many prostitutes refused business with them as they were seen as occupiers, even though they were at the moment benign. The elections of 1946 confirmed the pattern, with the Communists receiving less than ten percent of the vote, and the Polish People’s Party (a right-wing organisation) taking the plurality to go into a coalition with the Polish Socialist Party. While it may seem strange that these two groups would join together, their platform was actually broadly united: they both wanted the Soviets out of Poland. With the Soviet atrocities against her conquered territories now obvious and overwhelming, they believed that keeping Russian troops in Poland was madness. Their plan would be to buy out the Soviets and neutralize their country like Hungary and Romania. While this was going on, the tense situation in Czechoslovakia grew worse still. While Slovakia was occupied by the Soviets (and living in day and night terror due to the NKVD’s purge of political opposition) a total open border remained open to Czechia. The Czechoslovakian Communists, the best performing Communist party at the polls in Europe pleaded with Stalin to calm the terror, as it was killing their popularity throughout the region. Stalin refused, with Klement Gottwald having to reluctantly support the party line that there was a ‘Pro-Tiso conspiracy’ within Slovakia that had to be dealt with. This broadly meant an Anti-Catholic purge as vengeance against the Papal edict that Communism was now an excommunicable offence. With Poland off limits, the Slovakian Church felt the full brunt of Russian efforts. It’s estimated that some ninety percent of Catholic priests in Slovakia were arrested for at least some length of time in 1946/1946 to ‘confirm their loyalties’. Of those ninety, more than half would never speak from a pulpit again. Some twenty percent were never seen again. With this, organised resistance to Communism in Czechia began to grow, culminating in the Brotherhood March, a meeting of nearly two hundred thousand Czechs and Slovaks in the centre of Prague to condemn Communist oppression in Slovakia. Jan Masaryk would deliver the final speech declaring, ‘We don’t want them in Czechia, in Slovakia, or anywhere!’ This would set off the chain of events that were soon to unfold in the unfortunate country of Czechoslovakia. Elsewhere, in Asia, life in Hokkaido proved particularly harsh. Japan had an extremely class-based society, with a language highly structured based on social standing. As such, the locals proved particularly resistant to Communism. Of course, the Russians did little favors for themselves. They didn’t even call it ‘The People’s Republic of Japan’ but ‘The People’s Republic of Hokkaido’, owing to the overwhelming presence of Ainu in the government. In direct but quiet defiance of Wallace’s orders, active Communists were rooted out of the Japanese government by MacArthur. They were subsequently ‘pointed’, to use his words, in the direction of Communist rule. These people often found themselves under Communist heel in Hokkaido owing to Ainu grievance. In many cases, the Soviet rulers had taken a lesson from the British and actively encouraged the visibility of the Ainu to put the anger for the actions on them as well as making sure the Ainu were dependent on Russia for their survival. The Yakuza, which had swollen to the ratio of having one member for every two policeman by the end of the war, proved surprisingly friendly to American interests in Japan. They were an extremely traditionalist organisation (not to mention one with a taste for materialism). As such, American planners used Yakuza members in Hokkaido to sabotage Communists initiatives and gather intel in return for a hands off attitude from the authorities when it came to ‘bloodless activity’ (such as gambling and prostitution, though these often included violence). The Yakuza quickly became the boogeyman of Hokkaido’s society and endless ‘Anti-Yakuza’ programs sprang up (it’s estimated some eight percent of Hokkaido was murdered by the Communist government with a further twenty-five percent fleeing). Of course, these were often simple ways to justify persecution and murder by the state. Shinto shrines in particular were burned down with astonishing intensity to try and destroy Japanese tradition on the island. This led to a gigantic growth in Japanese nationalism on both sides of the strait and a resolute Anti-Communist spirit to unshakably grasp the Japanese heart. We Brave Few: Europe 1945-1949 by Abraham Ferguson The first war on the European Continent following World War Two had had her seeds sown long before. Serbia, after having been devastated in the Third Balkan War, had been left to rot under the misrule of Milan Nedić. His state was so unstable that it could not even drum up international support to regain her Hungarian territories that were free for the taking following Hungary’s fall. He commanded no loyalty among his subjects, or even love among the Roman Alliance, who treated him with disdain. His state suffered from a gigantic influx of Serbian migrants who had been expelled (mostly from Croatia) into the already shattered remnants of the core country. Needless to say, aid for reconstruction was not forthcoming. Food riots rocked Belgrade in 1943 and 1944, with the ruling regime having no support among any segment of the population. In this environment, a guerilla war was almost inevitable. By far the largest was under the command of Josip Tito, a Communist who received covert funding and support from Moscow. But what made Tito especially popular was his strident Serbian nationalism. While he was initially a strong believer in the Yugoslav state as a concept, having seen the murder of hundreds by the Ustashe and the indifference with which the Croatian population greeted them, he decided it was a lost cause. He decided that he was at the very least going to defend Serbia from the humiliation the Fascists had imposed upon it. To first do that, he needed to overthrow Nedić. This task proved astonishingly easy. Despite Nedić’s position being guaranteed in the peace treaty with the Fascists, he received no support from any quarter. Indeed, some historians suggest that he was deliberately set up to fail so that the Fascists had an excuse to come back in again and flatten Serbia as many times as needed. By the end of 1945, it was estimated some 80% of Serbian territory was outside Belgrade’s control. Defections were so common that whole units would sometimes go out into the forests and never come back, only for them all to write letters home saying they had joined Tito. On February 2nd 1946, Tito planned his final operation – a full-on attack on Belgrade. Nedić had pleaded for reinforcements the prior week from the Roman Alliance but was dismissed. There were many reasons, notably the belief that defending Serbia was beneath the Roman Alliance, that Tito’s threat was exaggerated and that there was plenty of time to act. Instead, the attack was so sudden, overwhelming and intense that Parliament was seized by the end of the day, with the People’s Republic of Serbia declared. What had happened was that the regime’s soldiers mostly defected at the first sign of trouble, there was no ideological resistance to Tito anywhere in the population because even the right was desperate for a national liberator and the population overwhelmingly supported Tito as well. Nedić was arrested, given a court martial lasting forty minutes and shot to the displeasure of almost no one. The only displeasure the Roman Alliance felt was that now they had a Communist nation snuggled up against it. Pavelić relished the opportunity for further punishment of the Serbians, saying, ‘we’ll turn Belgrade into a field with rubble instead of soil’. There is some suggestion among historians that Pavelić outright wanted to genocide the Serbian population. Bulgaria and Italy were likewise readying their troops for invasion … until a message came through from Moscow on the morning of February 3rd. It stated that any invasion of Serbia by the Roman Alliance would be considered an act of war against the Soviet Union.