Thursday, June 9, 2016

JOE MCCARTHY | June 9–Squelched by Welch

Sen. Joseph McCarthy
This day in 1954, Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) confronted Joseph N. Welch, special counsel for the Army. McCarthy claimed that a young associate in Hall & Dorr, Welch's law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a “legal arm of the Communist Party.” Welch was stunned and said, famously:
Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? 
A few minutes later, the audience burst into applause. It marked the end of McCarthy’s power, which had steadily risen from his February 1950 claim that “hundreds” of “known Communists” were in the Department of State.

McCarthy led the Red Scare, convincing millions of Americans that communists had infiltrated America. Behind closed doors,  the McCarthy hearings smeared a wide swath of civil servants and private citizens, destroying many careers. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated him because his attacks were directed at Democrats, especially Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy continued his increasingly erratic charges. This became unacceptable to his President and Party. Rather than taking on McCarthy directly, which might have backfired, Ike undermined the senator behind the scenes.

McCarthy was annoyed that the U.S. Army was taking away one of his staff members, who worked with Roy Cohn. So he charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was “soft” on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, he opened hearings on this subject. Joseph Welch, an outside lawyer from Hale & Dorr in Washington, represented the Army–and the President as well, since Ike had a special affection for the Army. During the hearings, Welch responded to all of McCarthy’s charges. The senator became bellicose, shouting “point of order, point of order”. He said that one highly decorated general was a “disgrace” to his uniform. Welch responded with the comment at the end of the first paragraph above.

One week later, the hearings closed. McCarthy was condemned by the Senate for contempt of his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years, McCarthy succumbed to alcoholism and in 1957 died, at 48, in office.


Alexander Forest was hired by General Eisenhower to work on the Nuremberg trials and then on the McCarthy Hearings. His skill with both German and Russian as well as English made him valuable in dealing with international issues. His birth name was Goldberg and he took the surname Forest when he came to the United States, probably before the outbreak of war in 1939.

His sister Anya Goldberg (Anna Ormont after she emigrated to Canada) remained in Holland and was sheltered by Bob Boissevain and his family along with her parents. The Boissevains were given a Yad Vashem award after the war; the father of the family died in concentration camp but his guests all survived. The wartime story is told here.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

BLOG VIEWS | 30K–Most-Read Posts

John Tepper Marlin in NYC. Photo
by Alice Tepper Marlin.
June 2016 – This blog, Warriors-Families, has just passed 30,000 page views. I try to post on this blog when the stories are about military or peace issues, but everything overlaps with everything else... 

Page views of my blogs on together are now past the  1.1 million mark.

Thank you for reading!

Here are the most-read posts for the month of May 2016. I am continuing to update the first on the list based on new information. When you see a June 2016 or later update in the subject line, it will be up to date. The Boer War post, #3, mentioning Charles Boissevain, was added only yesterday and will surely rise to #1 in a few days.

WW2 | 8. Hiding Jews in Holland–Bob Boissevain (Up...
Dec 2, 2014, 1 comment
US NAVY | Oct. 13–Navy's 240th Birthday
Oct 12, 2015
BOER WAR | May 31–Peace Treaty Signed
Jun 1, 2016
R.I.P. | Michael Intriligator, Peace and Security ...
Jul 8, 2014
FRANCE | June 10–Remembering Airmen Downed 70 Year...
Jun 13, 2014
VETS 3 | VA Loans–NYC Issues
Jun 11, 2013
VET STORY 2 | Franklin D'Olier, Founded American L...
Sep 17, 2013
WW2 | 12. Holland after the War (Updated Feb. 16, ...
Nov 2, 2014
VET STORY 8 | Edgar Jadwin, Author, "From a Milita...
Mar 5, 2016
ART BIZ | "Hope", Museum of Visionary Art - Yanni ...
Nov 6, 2015

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BOER WAR | May 31–Peace Treaty Signed

New Edition (2013) of an
old book (1899-1900) by
Charles Boissevain.
This day in 1902, in Pretoria, representatives of Great Britain and the Boer states signed the Treaty of Vereeniging, officially bringing to an end the second Boer War in South Africa.

The Boers, which means farmers in Dutch, are also known as Afrikaners. They descended from the original Dutch settlers of southern Africa who came to South Africa to obtain land to farm on, in a period when imperialism was in the air in Europe and Europeans patriotically traveled to other countries to help plant their national flags.

The Dutch became well established in what we call today Indonesia (which they called India), the Caribbean, and in South Africa. However, Britain occupied the Dutch Cape Colony in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars. The Boers did not like being under British rule and in 1833 began an exodus into African tribal territory, where they founded the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

The two new republics lived peaceably with their British neighbors until 1867, when the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Dutch region attracted the envy of British empire-builders.  Preeminent among them was Cecil Rhodes, who coveted a British empire stretching "from Cape Town to Cairo"–a vision that he helped make a reality.

The first major discovery was on the Orange Free State farm of Boers named de Beer, who gave their name to a diamond-selling company created by Cecil Rhodes; the original de Beers did not profit from the diamonds that were found on their property. The de Beer company still controls one-third of the diamond market. Another diamond discovery occurred in the Transvaal near Pretoria, creating a rival diamond company controlled by the Oppenheimer family until the de Beers company absorbed it.

The first Boer War with Britain began as skirmishes in the 1890s. In 1899 this erupted into a full-scale war. Cecil Rhodes used his influence to ensure that his mines were protected and in return his company did everything it could to assist in the war on the Boers.

Resources came from throughout the British Empire to crush the Boers–Canada's Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier authorized a contingent to go to South Africa despite opposition from Quebec's French Canadians led by Henri Bourassa, who saw an ominous precedent (ironically, the next major military effort from Canada would be on behalf of France). Canada sent more than 7,000 troops.

By mid-June 1900, British forces had captured most major Boer cities and formally annexed their territories. Like the Scots fighting against Edwards I-III, the Boers launched a guerrilla war that frustrated the British occupiers. Beginning in 1901, the British began a strategy of fencing off areas with barbed wire, setting fire to the farms inside, and then systematically searching out and killing the guerrilla units. The families of displaced Boers were herded into concentration camps that famously became a precedent for the Nazi concentration camps, although the high death rate in the South African camps was a byproduct of the climate and isolation rather than being premeditated genocide.

Second letter to "An
American Lady", 1900.
Among the few voices in Europe speaking up for the desperate Boers was Charles Boissevain (my mother's grandfather). He famously wrote in December 1899 an Open Letter to the Duke of Devonshire making the case for the Boers and observing that war was being waged on farming "peasants" for one purpose only–to enable squalid British financial interests. The letter was published in 1900 by Boissevain's newspaper, the Algemeen Handelsblad and is available free as a Google eBook. It was also republished as a properly edited book in 2013 along with a second Open Letter to an American Lady.

By early 1902, the British had crushed Boer resistance, and on May 31 the Peace of Vereeniging was signed, recognizing British military administration over Transvaal and the Orange Free State, and in return authorizing a general amnesty for Boer forces. Cecil Rhodes died the same year, his wished-for empire largely in place.

In 1910, the autonomous Union of South Africa was established by the British, taking in Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Natal as provinces along with the original Cape of Good Hope.

While South Africa has since remained in the British Commonwealth, and the Springboks were formidable entrants in the British sport of Rugby,  Afrikaners took back South Africa at the ballot box–so long as voting was restricted to whites (and, for a time, "Cape coloreds").

Afrikaner control, however, depended on restricting the ability of non-whites to vote, which was at the heart of the policy of apartheid. Late in the 20th century, when universal adult suffrage was instituted and black Africans participated in the vote, Afrikaners again became a minority, and British South Africans an even smaller minority.