Thursday, September 17, 2009

Miscellaneous Notes From Recent Readings

I am preparing some thoughts about the situation in Honduras but do not have time to give a full weigh-in yet so I will just extract a few items from a jar on one of the shelves of my memory.

1. Eisenhower and Patton, around 1918 or 19, were responsible for training tank commanders for use in war. Eisenhower had wanted to go to the war itself but had been good at training infantry so they kept him home. (He treated it more like football practice than war, and made it more lively.) Well, both Patton and Ike felt that a 3 m.p.h. tank was not good. They wrote letters to every superior officer they could find in Washington saying the tank should not be used to accompany the infantry (hence the slow speed) but rather to disrupt the enemy. They were told in no uncertain terms that if they did not stop writing these letters they would be court martialed. History later demonstrated who was right.

2. The Nazi Blitzkrieg was so swift that France fell in six weeks.

3. On one occasion General Rommel, in his lead tank, was so far ahead of his army as it sped forward that he rode into a French village all by himself without any support. The French forces were fleeing before he got there. The German army was (my memory fails me here) either 35 miles behind or 35 minutes.

4. Whittaker Chambers, editor of Time magazine in the late 1940's, had been a communist in the 30's but Josef Stalin's behavior, eliminating nearly everybody on his own side, led him to flee the Communist party. Chambers had been a conduit of U.S. secrets, getting them transported to the Soviet Union. Alger Hiss was his "inside contact."

5. Chambers became a witness for the prosecution in one of the biggest trials of the century. Hiss had been an aide to FDR and the notion that a communist was so close to the pinnacle of power helped feed the Red Scare of the early Cold War. Hiss had worked in the State Department and was a member of the delegation that accompanied FDR to Yalta in 1945.

6. Hiss lost, and went to jail for perjury. He denied ever having been a spy or communist.

7. Allen Weinstein wrote a book about the case called Perjury. His aim was to prove Hiss was innocent. In researching the book he was able to draw upon previously inaccessible information from the Soviet archives. The inescapable conclusion: Hiss was guilty.

8. For some reason people to this day attempt to proclaim Hiss' innocence. Hiss died in 1996.

9. The country of Rhodesia was named after the guy for whom the Rhodes Scholarship was named. Cecil Rhodes owned diamond mines and was a big believer in Colonialism and the supremacy of the the Anglo-Saxon race, proof that smart people can have stupid ideas. Sadly, such ideas were in vogue for a time. (See Rudyard Kipling's poem White Man's Burden.)

10. Today the once Brit colony of Rhodesia has been broken up into Zimbabwe and Zambia.

7 comments:

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Great pills of culture, take some every day and nourish your brain!

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

LOL, I reread what I just wrote in my previous message and it felt like one of those spam/viral/silly marketing messages that we occasionally receive in our blogs and e-mailboxes! Sorry Ed, the effect was unintentional...

Christella said...

Your memory jar can have connections to the memories of others.

1. I’m a WWII buff.
2. My housekeeper in Panama cleaned for Eisenhower when he was stationed in the Canal Zone.
3. When we were in Zimbabwe we went to see Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe. We were told that the older, official name in Zambia is Mosi-Oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders, and many preferred its original name to the enforced English name.
4. The first African American to win a Rhodes Scholarship was Alain Locke in 1907, who helped start the Harlem Renaissance. No other African American would receive the prize until 1962 when John Edgar Wideman, a professor and novelist, won. Since that time at least one winner is an African American.

It is very sad to see Zimbabwe today.

ENNYMAN said...

Pedro
Yah, funny.

Christella:
If you are a WWII buff you need to read my father-in-law's memoirs about his experiences for 3.5 years. Actually, the blogger LEWagner here edited and helped him produce the book which is a remarkable 535 page achievement.
Link to more info:
http://www.enewman.biz/budbook.html
and to purch:
http://bit.ly/xolmH

Housekeepers have changed human history. Naaman's housekeeper influenced Israel's history (II Kings 5)

I have heard Victoria Falls is beautiful, and yes, the country is a tragedy today.

e.

Christella said...

Thanks for the book suggestion. Will check it out.

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

On Zimbabwe, this is an old post in my blog, but it's yet relevant: http://incentives-matter.blogspot.com/2008/10/hyperinflation-in-pictures-monetary.html

David Chambers said...

4. Whittaker Chambers, editor of Time magazine in the late 1940's, had been a communist in the 30's but Josef Stalin's behavior, eliminating nearly everybody on his own side, led him to flee the Communist party. Chambers had been a conduit of U.S. secrets, getting them transported to the Soviet Union. Alger Hiss was his "inside contact."

A FEW NOTES (if I may):

- Whittaker Chambers was a senior editor and special projects editor at TIME Magazine as the Hiss Case started.

- Among the former Federal officials Chambers named when subpoenaed to appear before HUAC on August 3, 1948, were the names of Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss. Five others pled the Fifth. White and Hiss denied the allegation. White died a few days later, leaving Hiss the last man standing, so to be speak.

David Chambers (grandson of Whittaker Chambers)