This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
War in Europe, religious freedom, trees.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71156
Municipal archives id: LT4061
Incomplete audio. See notes below.
The original text of the WNYC radio broadcasts are the property of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. This digital edition is made available for research purposes only. The text may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives 31 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1944
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF MAYOR F. H LAGUARDIA'S SUNDAY BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK FROM THE MAYOR'S HOUSE, SEPTEMBER 24, 1944, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M., FOLLOWS:
Patience and Fortitude.
BATTLE OF ARNHEM
Every American today is standing with cupped ears to the radio and with eyes glued to our daily newspapers, following the heroic efforts of the United Nations forces fighting at Arnhem. The battle now being fought at Arnhem will go down as one of the greatest and most decisive in history. American, British, Canadian, French and Polish forces have pushed the Nazis back to the Siegfried Line, thereby liberating the greater part of France and Belgium. They are now in Holland and are on parts of German soil. As you know, the Nazis built the west defense or wall now called the Siegfried Line, utilizing all natural defenses of terrain and water, mountains and rivers. East of this bulwark, and it is strong bulwark, a second line is, in all likelihood, ready on the Rhine.
To understand the strategy of the Arnhem attack one must bear in mind the geographical layout and the topography of Europe. The Rhine, starting from Swiss streams, runs north up to near Arnhem and then west, where it divides into many mouths of a great delta running through Holland. Though our forces are piercing the Siegfried Line, a continued direct attack on that Line will be costly in lives and time. Its defense, that is the Siegfried Line, runs from the Swiss border right through up into the waters of Holland. You can readily see the purpose of the Siegfried Line. It establishes a continued and uninterrupted defense from water to water. Therefore, the strategy of breaking through at Arnhem is apparent.
Many may wonder how the Airborne Division is now encircled. That is a risk that must always be taken in a maneuver of that kind. The purpose of an airborne army is to establish a hold and form a line of attack back of the enemy, then press forward, catching the enemy between our advancing forces and airborne troops. [AVAILABLE AUDIO BEGINS HERE] It follows, of course, that the great danger of being encircled must always be considered and that is just what happened. The British Second Army is fighting desperately and has captured the strategic city of Nijmegan. So brilliantly was this maneuver executed that it captured the important bridge intact before the Nazis could destroy it. We read with great comfort and cheer that the airborne troops have received reinforcements. If contact is established with the airborne troops and Arnhem is taken it will be the decisive battle of Europe for then the Nazi troops will either have to change their entire tactics of defense or else real obstacles of natural defenses with favorable terrain is ahead of the United Forces at this point. Berlin is just 300 miles directly east of Arnhem, with no Siegfried Line or natural defenses intervening. The troops and defenses are scattered all through the various lines. If the Nazis move their defending troops from the Siegfried Line, our forces would rush through there. If they seek to weaken the Italian front it is very doubtful whether those troops could be consolidated at any useful point in time to stop our advance. If they withdraw or weaken the defense on the Russian Line, the eastern frontier, well, then, the jig would be up just as quickly, because the Soviet troops would come right through.
Arnhem stands right here at the Apex of a great triangle. Not only is the terrain east of it favorable for an advancing army but the Nazis will not be able to move any of its troops immediately south of Arnhem for there we have the greatest industrial territory of Germany -the Ruhr, Muenster, Dortmund, Esson, Duisburg, Duesseldorf and Cologne -right there, of course, the United Nation forces would advance and thereby destroy and cut the Nazi Army from a substantial part of its supplies, munitions, weapons and material. So therefore, you can see how everything hinges on this battle of Arnhem. If we go through and contact and establish as I have said, then the advance will be very rapid and it will not be long. If, on the other hand, we are held at Arnhem, it would look as if there would be a great deal of hard fighting for several works to come. Therefore, the battle of Arnhem is, in all likelihood, the Gettysburg war in the European Theatre of World War II.
I have just been handed a bulletin from WNYC which says that General Eisenhower just announced that small units of British 2nd Army have crossed the north branch of the Dutch Line near Arnhem. That indeed is progress. So stick to your radios, grab your daily newspapers and let us watch this advance. If Arnhem is taken, it will not be long. On the other hand, it does not mean we are going to lose the war but it will be delayed and there will be a great deal more of bitter fighting.
Perhaps at this point I should say something to the many inquiries that I have received as to what we are going to do on V-E Day - that is Victory Day - Europe. Well there is one thing I am sure that we will not do; should not do and must not do, and that is, indulge in orgies of hilarity, in all sorts of demonstrations that are disorderly and destructive, for the war is not over. Even after we have defeated Hitler and conquered Germany there are still our boys in the Pacific. There is still a great deal of fighting to do there and things have not been going well in China the last few days. So how can anyone even suggest, "Oh, I'm going to get plastered", "I'm going to got tight", "I'm going to get lit". How can anyone take any enjoyment in heaving or throwing something at someone else? Remember, no matter where this happens there is, within a few feet, an apartment of some mother, some sister, some wife and children whose men are not coming back.
I can announce at this time part of the V Day program, I have been in communication with the religious organizations and the churches of our City. I find an unanimous belief that the day should be devoted to thanksgiving. Yes, we may rejoice - rejoice in a sublime sort of manner that the enemies of religion, that dictators and cruel men finally have been defeated. We must also give thanks for those who have been saved and render tribute to those who have made the supreme sacrifice.
The Most Reverend Thomas E. Molloy, Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn writes:
"You may be assured that in the Diocese of Brooklyn, people and clergy will join in a special expression of thanksgiving to God and of prayerful remembrance of our valiant men who have already offered the supreme sacrifice in defense of their Country as well as those who still may be called upon in another zone of this warfare to offer their services in behalf of all liberty-loving peoples throughout the world."
The Churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn will be open all day for appropriate services and thanksgiving.
Bishop James P. DeWolfe, of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which takes in Queens and Brooklyn, says:
"We have already made plans for Services of Thanksgiving and prayer in the Churches in the Diocese of Long Island, on European V-day. The members of the Church in this Diocese will have access to their Churches and services will be conducted immediately upon the announcement of victory in Europe."
Dr. Israel Goldstein says:
"You may be assured that our Synagogue [AVAILABLE AUDIO ENDS HERE] will be open on V-day for prayer and thanksgiving,"
All synagogues are writing in and making appropriate preparations.
The Most Reverend William. T. Manning, Bishop of the Diocese of New York, says that he is in the fullest possible sympathy with (my) suggestions, in regard to the observance of European V-Day. Our Cathedral and all our Churches will certainly be open and in use the whole of the day.'
Rt, Rev. Francis X. Shea, secretary to the Archbishop of the Diocese of New York, writes:
'We have anticipated your request and have arranged that in the Cathedral and in every church of the Archdiocese services of thanksgiving will be held throughout the day. The children of our schools will have their own program of prayer and thanksgiving.'
I have received a communication from the Most Reverend Bishop J. Francis McIntyre in which he says:
'We have arranged that on 'V' Day the girls of Cathedral High School, 50th Street and Madison Avenue - 2000 and more strong, will chant the To Doum (Thanks to Thee Oh, God) in the Cathedral at 3 o'clock in Latin and recite it in English - followed by a brief explanation of that universal hymn of the Church and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.'
That is from the Most Reverend Bishop J. Francis McIntyre and we are trying to make arrangements to broadcast that particular service.
The Protestant Council of the City of New York writes:
'We are in hearty accord with the sentiments you express in (your) letter and are confident that the churches will respond with genuine appreciation of the situation. We have devoted our advertising space in the paper to this same emphasis for the past three weeks. Your own appeal will give force and emphasis to the suggestion.'
You see, it is highly improper to plan a celebration or any sort of demonstration of wild hilarity while the fighting is still going on. How would you feel if you were in a combat regiment or in an airborne troop or in flying service and read that a city in your country is planning a wild celebration and you were fighting at that very moment. No, we must not do that.
I have received letters from many Mayors throughout the country
and they are looking to our leadership here in New York City. We must not
let up for a single moment. Time was never more precious than it is now. I am sure that all war workers will continue working all through the day.
There should be no let up - we still have fighting to do in Europe. Men are being killed and we still have fighting to do in the Pacific. Well, we have talked about butter a great deal and though the situation is tight it should ease up in October. Butter manufacturers were informed by the War Food Administration that they will not be required to set aside for government purchase any of their October output, nor any of their output in succeeding months until Spring, when production will be seasonably higher.
Now that is quite a bit. The government this year, commencing this butter season, is expected to purchase 285 million pounds of butter, compared with a total of 464 million, pounds in 1943. That means that 80 pounds out of every 100 pounds of butter will be used by civilians in this country; 15 pounds out of every 100 pounds by U. S. Armed forces, and 5 pounds out of every 100 pounds will be sent to the Russian Army, chiefly for use in hospitals. That will improve the butter situation from October right up to the time when the season starts with perhaps a tight period in November. Therefore, use butter sparingly and do not waste a single ounce. If we are careful it will be easy going as I have just stated.
I know there are many statements in trade papers and other releases about the shortage of meat. There is no shortage of meat on the whole - mutton and lamb are increasing; there has been a slight increase in pork, but there is a shortage on choice cuts. Now there is no use harping upon that. Those choice outs do not exist and will not exist for some time, and therefore, I suggest to the trade papers and to butcher associations that instead of crying over something over which you have no control and about which nothing can be done, you advise your customers how to use the present supply of available meat.
I have something here that is very pleasant to me. A resident of Central Park West writes:
"I thought you might be interested to hear the following: An uptown Eighth Avenue bus stopped at 59th Street and took on from 20 to 25 students apparently from a school on 59th Street. There was not a loud word spoken, no mad rush for seats, but they conducted themselves with dignity, consideration for other passengers and good manners. They were a credit to themselves, to their school and to you; and it should be gratifying to you to know that your entreaties do not go unheeded. It was a very pleasant experience contrasted with the actual dread in other years of having to ride on a school-out bus."
EXEMPLARY SCHOOL CONDUCT
Well thank you very much. It is most gratifying. I think that those students must have been from the Haaron High School on West 59th Street. I want to thank you for writing me, and if you can identify the school I would like to inform their principal.
COURTESY PROGRAM in P.S. 103 BRONX
Now here is a letter that made me very happy. It was written by the students of Public School 103 at Carpenter Avenue and 230th Street, The Bronx and is addressed to me:
"Our school teacher read your article about the impoliteness of the children of New York City, to our class (7 B3). Therefore, we have decided to have, 'Courtesy', as our activity unit. We, in the class, find it interesting and helpful to improve our behavior. We wish to thank you for bringing this important matter to our attention. I hope that at the end of our 'Courtesy Program', we'll accomplish our goal, by being well mannered children.
Sandra Goldstein and Theresa Annarelli'
Well, thank you, Sandra and Theresa. You have made me very happy. I know you are going to be successful.
LITERACY TEST FOR NEW VOTERS
We have received several communications from organizations - political, social, fraternal - calling my attention to the fact that a great many new voters fear the literacy test and have a sort of hesitancy or a little shame in the fear that they may not be able to pass it. Some have complained that the literacy test is too severe. Well, that is not correct. The literacy test is in keeping with the requirements of the Constitution and of the law and it is very fair and very simple. I want to urge all men and women who have a right to vote and who are voting for the first time this year, not to refrain from doing so through fear of the literacy test. [AVAILABLE AUDIO BEGINS HERE] Now let me show you just how easy it is. I am afraid it is the impression that scares you more than anything else. When you ask for the literacy test you are given a sheet of paper. The law says you must know how to read and write. This paper contains a very simple paragraph and from this paragraph you get the answers to the questions you are required to answer. For instance I have a test sheet here with this statement: "The Rhode Island Colony was founded in 6136 by Roger Williams, a Christian minister.' Now you go to your questions: 'By whom was the Rhode Island Colony founded?' Answers 'Roger Williams'. You get it right above. Next question: 'When was it founded?' Answers '1636', It says so right above, doesn't it? Question: 'Who was Roger Williams?' Answer: 'Roger Williams was a Christian Minister.' Then we have the next statement: 'The Puritans had come to America to secure religious freedom for themselves' concerning which the following question is asked: 'Why had the Puritans come to America?' The answer is right there, you can copy it. 'The Puritans came to America to secure religious freedom.' Then there is another statement: 'Roger Williams granted religious freedom to all the settlers,' about which they ask: 'What did Roger Williams grant to all the settlers?' The answer is obvious: 'Religious freedom'. All you have to do is refrain from getting excited. Just read the paragraph that is printed and then take the answers from there - copy them alongside of the question. You see it is fair and there should be no hesitancy. You will find that the teachers who give the examination are most sympathetic and helpful.
HELENT HAYES AT CITY CENTER
Paul Moss, who I have appointed as my assistant at the City Center, has asked me to be sure and tell everybody that Helen Hayes starts Monday in "Harriet". If you have not seen Helen Hayes in "Harriet", you must not miss it. And by all means, school children should make every effort, if there is a matinee, to see Helen Hayes in "Harriet". Students of colleges should also take advantage of this opportunity. There will be only eleven performances. It starts on this coming Wednesday, September 27th, and is the first play this season.
UNRRA APPEAL FOR CLOTHING
I am very happy to have Helen Hayes with us at the City Center. I have a special request here from former Governor Herbert H. Lehman to call attention to the collection of clothing for Europe which starts tomorrow. I am making this appeal in keeping with the request of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. There is a great need for clothing and a drive is starting tomorrow. Whatever our personal views may be on the advisability of sending used clothing, we must not question it now. The appeal is official, coming from UNRRA, of which the former Governor of our State is the President, and we must respond to the appeal.
Well, I have another budget headache. I have to find about a half a million dollars somewhere to pay for the destruction of the last hurricane. A great deal of damage was done to property. I again want to extend my thanks to the volunteer forces - to the Police Department, Fire Department, City Patrol, Air Wardens, Fire Auxiliary, Medical Emergency and Emergency Repair. We received a very complimentary communication from the Office of Civilian Defense in Washington, D.C. It says :
"It is apparent that the Citizens Defense Corps in your Great City not only has appreciated this need but has risen to the challenge in a magnificent manner. As the purely federal interest diminishes with the successful turn in the war situation, I am sure you share with me the hope that local communities may retain for future use a maximum of the fine community organization which is available as a result of the intensive preparation and training for Civilian Defense which has taken place during the last few years."
So I want to say to the protective forces of New York City that your magnificent services have been recognized by the Office of Civilian Defense in Washington.
The Board of Estimate appropriated a little over $300,000 at its last meeting and perhaps a little more will have to be appropriated. The greatest loss has been in our parks. The Borough Presidents suffered losses and damage to storm sewers. Of course, the physical damage to sewers and pavements and even buildings can be repaired and though it is hard to find the money, we will find it. Commissioner Moses has informed mo that about 30,000 trees were injured. He hopes to salvage 12,000 of the 30,000. That means that we have lost 18,000 trees. You know, that is tough. That is really something that we can not replace. Some of the trees that were lost were 25 to 30 years old. Yes, we have a nursery of trees on Rikers Island and in addition to that we buy a great many trees, but it takes years and years to grow those trees, and they are so beautiful.
You know, on many of the streets of Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx, and even on some of our streets in Manhattan and in Richmond, the whole atmosphere is changed when you have a row of trees. And children, you must think about that when you use our parks. You must be very, very careful not to destroy any shrubbery and not to injure a tree. Just look at those trees, I am looking out of the window now. They are so beautiful and to think that we have lost about 18,000 of them.
Poem entitled "Trees"
"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy aims to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Patience and Fortitude.
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