Last month, in our debut issue, I examined a copy of TIME Magazine from just after America’s entry into World War II. This time around we’ll take a look at a post-war issue of TIME’s main competitor, Newsweek Magazine.
The issue of Newsweek that I’ve pulled out is dated October 28, 1946 and seems to concentrate mostly on the return of meat to the market after the lifting of price controls. This meat issue is also covered as a major factor in the coming election, which Newsweek spends space speculating upon Senate contests in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. The biggest surprise to me is the mention but lack of truly in-depth coverage regarding the October 15 suicide of Hermann Goring and the subsequent hangings of his convicted Nazi cohorts. There are about 2-1/2 columns of journalistic coverage of the aftermath of the Nuremberg Trials but editorial comment is lacking. I originally assumed that deeper coverage would be found in the following issue, dated November 4, 1946, perhaps due to a lag in international reportage. This could be true, I don’t have the next issue on hand to prove it though. By the time I finished looking at this issue I actually formed a different opinion, but I’ll share that when we get there!
Looking at this issue as a whole it contains 104 pages inside the covers, of which it breaks down to 45 pages of editorial content (plus the front cover) and 59 pages of advertising (plus the other 3 pages of the covers). Full-page color ads are mostly for automobiles and include Ford, Packard, and Oldsmobile. Full disclosure of this examination leads me to say this issue was missing pages 51-54, but this center spread surely included four pages of color advertising, which was the norm for Newsweek during this time (I have counted these 4 pages towards the advertising total at any rate). My favorite ad inside this issue is a full-page color ad from Canadian Pacific which best seemed to sum up the time: “Travel Will Be Fun Again” the headline intones. “Remember how pleasant it used to be to travel on Canadian Pacific Ships! Remember the cuisine, the courteous service… Just now there’s a big job to do repairing the wear and tear of wartime years — replacing lost ships … but, when it’s done, travel will be fun again — the Canadian Pacific way!” A couple sits together on the floor with travel brochures spread at their feet and their happy faces focused on a world globe. It’s time to book that voyage!
I’ve included an image of the Index page so you can see Newsweek broke the news down in almost the same fashion as TIME. The issue opens with four pages containing (one column per page) reader’s letters with the more serious topics such as Newsweek’s coverage of the late F.D.R. being allowed a letter from each side of the political spectrum. The “Index” page also includes “For Your Information” a page signed by The Editors which gives a name to the cover image: Herman C. Kreitsch, a 68-year old Ford toolmaker who represents one of 58,000,000 U.S. workers facing the problems of the nation returning to a free, uncontrolled economy. The Editors note “If he demands and gets higher wages, the price spiral will rise accordingly and his dollar will buy less. If he just waits for better prices, increased production should bring them about–but how soon he can only guess.” The photo of Mr. Kreitsch on the cover is captioned “Wage Earner: His Pay Balances the Price Ladder.” Kreitsch is also mentioned in the top story in the Business section, “Wages: Round No. 2 of Strikes?” We learn that this fellow has worked for Ford Motor Co. since 1924 and was earning $1.20/hour in 1939, $1.42/hour in 1945, and $1.60/hour currently (1946). Newsweek tells us that Kreitsch “could earn more than $100 for a seven-day week” including overtime during the war, but is now back to a 40-hour week making $64 less social security, income tax, and $1.50/month union dues. Newsweek asks “Now that price and wage controls are being taken off by the government, will organized labor call another round of strikes to enforce another round of wage raising?” Now, I’m no economist, and honestly find most of this pretty dry stuff, but if you have any further interest in the picture of Wage Trends at the time, I’ve included a scan of Newsweek’s graph detailing trends from 1941-46–the solid black line indicates the percentage that gross weekly earnings have risen, the broken black line represents gross hourly earnings, and the orange solid line is real weekly earnings.
Newsweek opens with “The Periscope” on pages 17-18, which contains short punchy paragraphs about current events at home and abroad. The one I found most interesting was titled “Spanish Prisoner Returns” and looks to be an older snail mail version of the Nigerian e-mail scams we’re all so familiar with today. “Post Office officials are fighting a startling postwar revival or the 300-year-old Spanish prisoner racket which is taking an estimated $600,000 a year from gullible Americans.” The scam, which Newsweek asserts is originating from an international ring out of Mexico, is a 2,000-word letter being sent out to Americans requesting somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 to aid in the release of a former banker from a Mexican jail and help out his beautiful daughter (photos included with the letter). If you help these poor people out now with your money then later you’ll receive one-third of $300,000 which the former banker has stored somewhere in Texas. “Upon arrival in Mexico to negotiate with go-betweens, the victim is sooner or later relieved of his money. The operators cannot be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution…” but the post office is issuing warnings and looking into the scam. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that basically the same scam has been going on for centuries, but I had personally been under the impression that this was a new crime helped along by today’s technology–I guess I’m somewhat gullible though to think that these usually transparent con-artists came up with this trick all by themselves! History just keeps on repeating itself.
Under “National Affairs” Newsweek reports on the unexpected “major postwar problem” of parking. They note that automobile traffic is up 52% from last year (1945) and even 10% from 1941, while “parking space had decreased alarmingly as postwar building covered parking lots, and garages were converted to more profitable uses.” Problems are detailed in Chicago’s Loop where daily traffic had increased 42% in the past year while there were 4 less parking lots (82) and a quarter less garages since 1939. Dallas counted daily traffic of 83,000 vehicles with 40,000 parking spaces available. Kansas City, in the area around Petticoat Lane, had just under 16,000 spaces for nearly 171,000 cars. The problem was not an isolated one as a few other examples were given as well. The immediate result of this appeared to be a decrease in property value in downtown areas as shoppers turned to less congested suburban stores. Store owners were shocked to find out they were largely responsible for the problem as most of the cars parked around shopping areas were those of employees! Fixes bandied about included shuttle buses, more parking meters to reduce parking time, forcing stores to provide their own parking lots, and what was seen as the most likely but costly fix, underground parking garages.
A “United Nations” section focused on its location at the New York’s World’s Fair’s World of Tomorrow in Flushing and includes an image of the “futuristic UN General Assembly building” proposed by New York City. There’s also a photo of Bill Pogue’s bar on West 88th Street in Manhattan, above which Russian UN workers will have their apartments. The accompanying text notes that the bar “pestered” their wholesalers last week for speedy delivery of vodka. Also pictured is the $1,000,000 39-room Tudor mansion that Soviet Foreign Minister Molotoff will be staying in on Glen Cove, Long Island. “Meanwhile, by boat, train, and plane, the 2,000 representatives and diplomats from 51 nations poured into New York and into already crammed hotels.”
This article was fun to read, I’m picturing these world power brokers scrambling about the New York city area for living space. U.S. officials were said to enjoy “the novelty of bouncing from bed to desk in the same room” (I can relate!). Finally, one item to be discussed on the agenda has no doubt led to many unpaid traffic tickets throughout the passing decades: “A report on the UN-United States negotiations on diplomatic immunities for UN delegates and personnel.” This article on page 36-38 was perhaps the most enjoyable read for me in this issue.
The “Foreign Affairs” section was arranged interestingly. The first section was on Berlin, largely about the politics involved in the area for each of the conquering nations and especially jockeying between the Soviets and the West. Next was a small paragraph under a “Monte Carlo” heading–somewhat amusing in that it notes the casinos operated all throughout the war, but shut down last week as the croupiers went on strike for higher pay. Then there are sections of varying sizes over the next couple of pages about France, Britain, Czechs, Yugoslavs, and only then one headed “Nuremberg.” Russia, India, China are all covered after the Nuremberg section.
Nuremberg begins with Last Laugh, two paragraphs detailing the suicide of Goring. Newsweek reports that as Burton C. Andrus, American commandant of the Nuremberg prison headed towards the condemned war criminals to read them their death sentences, “Hermann Wilhelm Goring, lying on his small iron cot in Cell No. 5 and wearing black silk pajamas and a blue shirt, crushed between his teeth a glass vial of potassium cyanide, gasped, twitched, and died.” The next section is titled The 13 Steps and notes that prison officials immediately shackled the ten surviving convicts . “Then, in 90 minutes in the early hours of Oct. 16, they followed each other to the gallows.” The article notes that:
“Only Julius Streicher went without dignity. He had to be pushed across the floor, wild-eyed and screaming: ‘Heil Hitler!’ Mounting the steps he cried out: ‘And now I go to God.’ He stared at the witnesses facing the gallows and shouted” ‘Purimfest, 1946.’ (Purim is a Jewish feast). Then to the American officer he cried: ‘The Bolsheviks will hang you one day.’ He spoke again from beneath the black hood: ‘Adele, my dear wife’–and plunged through the trap. A groan came from inside the scaffold. Critics suggested afterward that Streicher was clumsily hanged and that the rope may have strangled him instead of breaking his neck.”
I don’t like using such long pieces of the original material, but in this case Newsweek’s original reportage seemed appropriate. After the final prisoner was executed Goring’s body was brought out under a sheet, which was raised so the witnesses could confirm that he was, in fact, dead. The article then speculates on “The Fatso Mystery” which was a brief debate of where Goring had hidden his poison.
Traveling on throughout the world, the Soviet Union’s first postwar budget allocated $1 billion to “develop the science for the further growth of the economic and military might of the Soviet Union,” which Newsweek translates for us to include “vast, top-priority atom-bomb projects.” Soccer hooligans in Russia are also noted as a problem, with Newsweek defining the term: “‘Hooliganism’ in Russia means anything from disorderly conduct to rape.”
The “Transition” page is Newsweek’s announcement page of the type that usually includes Births, Deaths and those sort of comings and goings, which this one does as well, but most interesting to me on the page was “For the Record”, which records “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell writing an angry response to Hedda Hopper disputing her supposed purchase of an old hanging lamp like the one from her novel–“I have never been in Hollywood…I have never attended an auction sale…I have never wanted to buy an old hanging lamp…” Okay, lady, calm down! Also, philosopher George Santayana, under the appropriate heading of “Philosophical” predicts that all of Europe may soon turn Communistic with Germany and France leading the way. Santayana, 83, and living at the time in Rome, is quoted as saying “If Communism came to Italy tomorrow, I’d say: ‘Well, let’s try it’.”
In the “Medicine” section is a long profile on Dr. Harvey Cushing, but more interesting than that was a section on “Soldiers and Suicide.” The Army examined 1,179 cases of suicide in their first suicide survey finding that the average age of military suicide was 29.3 years, but that “the relative frequency in soldier over 40 was four times as great as in those between 20 and 29.” Newsweek provides further morbid details: “Firearms were used in 49 per cent of the suicides, hanging in almost 25 per cent, and poisoning in 8 per cent. In firearm cases, the head was the most frequent site of injury (62 per cent), the chest in 35 per cent.” The following page begins the “Radio” section and it starts with a paragraph regarding the reportage of Goring’s suicide. I can only guess that suicide was an oft-mentioned keyword in the news that week due to Goring and that Newsweek was trying to keep their readers informed from different angles.
“The Press” section details the magazines that never came to be. They mention that a year ago five “Project X’s” were being talked about from publishers as big as Gardner “Mike” Cowles of LOOK Magazine, Crowell-Collier, and the Curtis Publishing Co (publisher of Saturday Evening Post). Reasons given for the failure of these new magazines to develop are the shortage of both paper and printers, new (revised?) tax laws, last summer’s nosedive in sales blamed on the public reaction against “the outpouring of new magazines–mostly pulps, girlies, and comics–that glutted newsstands.” The tone of this article is somewhat humorous, as you can see Newsweek gloating over the failures of their competitors: they talk of a premature tenth anniversary celebration at LOOK (I took the subtext to mean the folks at LOOK just might not make it to 10 years). The Crowell-Collier project was to be headed by Ken Purdy, but when he left for Parade Newsweek crows that he’s there as “editor under several recent Crowell-Collier refugees.” The Curtis Co. abandoned their Project X, according to Newsweek, in order to concentrate “on making the expensive (50 cents a copy) Holiday go.” Finally when explaining the reasons for failure Newsweek refers to them as causes in the “searing of more than one rosy magazine dream.” This page seems to take as many direct slaps in the face of competing publishers that it can.
The “Sports” section reports on one of the most exciting World Series in baseball history, which saw the St. Louis Cardinals beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games on Enos Slaughter’s famed “mad dash” home on a double of the bat of Harry Walker. Slaughter scored when Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated on the relay throw and then pulled catcher Roy Partee off the plate with his throw. Newsweek uses quotes from Variety regarding the poor broadcasting of the Series by Jimmy Britt and Arch McDonald, the handpicked choices of Commissioner Happy Chandler to make the call. Variety’s report was titled “No Hits, No Runs, All Errors.” Newsweek also offers a pretty scathing summary of the Sox noting that the Boston fans had renamed their club the “Red Flops” and that “fans elected enough goats among their overrated American League champions to stock a small-sized farm: Manager Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, and Johnny Pesky, the chagrined shortstop who pulled a classic boner in the seventh game.” Newsweek does not use the term “mad dash” anywhere within the article.
The “Music” section had a couple of interesting items, both pretty controversial I thought. First is “What So Glumly We Hailed” which asks “Should ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ still be played before everything from a Broadway show to a baseball game?” Honestly, it’s not Newsweek stirring the pot themselves on this one, but instead reporting on an October 12 column by New York Sun music critic, and returning veteran, Irving Kolofin, who wrote that he preferred the playing of the anthem be scaled back and only played “when it can be performed in a manner and spirit befitting the dignity it contains.” Kolodin suggests that the American Federation of Musicians prohibit playing of the banner unless by special authorization.
The other item under “Music” is an article about a new book by Mezz Mezzrow titled “Really the Blues.” The book, and this article, is filled with “jive talk” about marijuana and his life as a musician during the jazz era. The article includes a “conversation” from the book in “Harlem Talk” where Mezzrow “was selling marijuana (‘gauge’) top his reefer-smoking customers (‘vipers’). Just to give you an example of this, here’s what Mezz’s customer, referred to as “First Cat”, replied to him after his purchase: “Jim, this jive you got is a gasser, I’m goin’ up to my dommy and dig that new mess Pops laid down for Okeh,” which apparently in 1929 “Harlem talk” translates to “Friend, this marijuana of yours is terrific, I’m going home and listen to that new record Louis Armstrong made for the Okeh company.” This is pretty dated stuff Newsweek offers us in terms of language, actions, culture, and race. They do note that “because of its clinical frankness and brutal honesty, ‘Really the Blues’ may not sit well with a great many people.” Mezzrow writes about how after he learned to smoke marijuana that he began to hear his saxophone from inside of his head and how this helped him play easier–Newsweek makes sure to point out that medical experts disagree upon this effect. Finally, Mezzrow writes “I never advocated that anybody should use marijuana, and I sure don’t mean to start now…I laid off five years ago…I know of one very bad thing the tea can do to you–it can put you in jail.” The book also details his four years in a Harlem opium den as well as his difficulty in kicking that habit. Mezzrow lived until 1972.
The “Art” section contains a full page profile of photographer Yousuf Karsh. The article includes a photo of Karsh himself along with four photos of his–I only mention this because I found it interesting that the Karsh photo of Winston Churchill that Newsweek prints is the exact same photo that graced the cover of LIFE Magazine on their May 21, 1945 issue. No mention is made of LIFE however.
And as I have previously mentioned the main breaking story of this issue would appear to be President Truman’s lifting of price controls on meat in the United States. While I’m strong in history, economics is one of my poorer subjects, so I’m only going to gloss over this one with the basics. Apparently meat was one of the last U.S. items to have war induced price controls lifted, and at the time of this issue the soaring prices of meat had caused a shortage and a backlash from the American public. The article notes that “slaughterhouses, which had laid off 50,000 workers during the weeks of OPA (Office of Price Administration) control, began frantically recalling men to work.” As for the consumers dinner plates: “More important to steak-lovers than last week’s near-record receipts of 332,400 cattle–nearly 65 per cent higher than the previous week’s–was the high proportion of commercial, good, and choice grades instead of the ‘canners and cutters’ of the famine period.”
An editorial by Henry Hazlitt takes Truman to task for doing the right thing for all of the wrong reasons, claiming that the President contradicted himself throughout his announcement, shifting blame and offering contradicting reasons behind both control and decontrol. Hazlitt writes “The way to decontrol is to decontrol” and that it “should proceed as rapidly as the present messy law allows.” Hazlitt goes on to say that Truman should call upon a special session of Congress to announce repeals on all remaining price controls except rent, and that rent should instead be handled by the states. The meat issue is again taken up by Raymond Moley in his editorial about the Senatorial elections in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York: “A little meat will turn away a lot of anger” is his answer to “The big question…whether the Republican trend has been a wave or a tide.” With the meat issue ready to completely disappear by October 25, Moley writes that it should not have an effect on which way American’s vote.
It’s this way that the meat issue is tied together with the coming election that is likely the reason I feel the Nuremberg information was shortchanged–While it’s obvious to me which story is more important 60 years later, Newsweek in 1946 was trying to report what Americans cared about then, and at the time they preferred the right to eat a good an affordable steak to anti-climactic world news about a war they were trying to put behind them–once again, to quote that Canadian Pacific ad “remember the cuisine, the courteous service, the fun of shipboard life…” Americans wanted to move forward.
As to value, I’ve been fetching $8-$12 for solid EX or 5/10 to EX-MT or 7/10 World War II era issues of Newsweek. This one, slightly after the war, would likely go for about $8 in that condition. Maybe we could push that up to $10 based on either/or the Goring story or World Series coverage.
Do you have a copy of the October 28, 1946 issue of newsweek including Julius Streicher?
Cliff Aliperti says
I’m sorry, I do not. I don’t have too many pre-1950 issues on hand at the moment.