Copyright © Philadelphia Church of God
What a fateful year of world history that was!
To say nothing of what developed in the very Work of God that year, look at these pivotal world events of 1945:
February 3–11—The Yalta Summit Conference between President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin—at which the Western powers were outmaneuvered into giving all, and getting nothing.
April 12—President Roosevelt died at Warm Springs, Georgia, and Vice President Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president of the United States.
Notice, now, how in quick succession, in this one fatal month, three of the world’s top figures were erased from world power. The year 1945 was a pivotal turning point of world history—these men went—the war went—a new age, the nuclear age, was born.
April 28—Only 16 days after Mr. Roosevelt passed from the world scene, Benito Mussolini was executed, after having been captured by partisans at Dongo, Italy, as he was trying to flee across the border into Switzerland. His body was strung up, upside down, in extreme disgrace.
April 29–30—Adolf Hitler was blotted out of this world’s history, presumedly a suicide in his bunker underground beside the Chancellery in Berlin.
So notice—these three of the five world leaders were all removed from world leadership during the same month—the fateful month of April 1945.
Man’s last hope of saving this world also began—doomed to failure—during that crucial month of April 1945 at San Francisco. I was there.
But before we pass on to a more specific description of these tremendous events, let me impress upon the reader a truism we too often overlook. In February that year, three of the world’s top leaders met at Yalta. Two months later, three of them were removed from power—their voices silenced, their activities ceased. It is true—you never know what an hour may bring forth!
But to finish the listing of tremendous events of that one year:
April 25—The great San Francisco Conference opened, at which leaders of 46 nations formed and adopted a Charter for the United Nations.
May 7—Germany signed unconditional surrender, ending World War ii in Europe.
July 17–August 2—Potsdam Conference in Germany, a summit conference with President Truman, Prime Minister Churchill and Joseph Stalin—at which, once again, the Western powers gave all and Stalin took all.
August 6—First atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, destroying the city, and terrifying the world with sudden knowledge of the nuclear age.
August 9—Second atomic bomb exploded on Nagasaki, Japan, destroying that city.
August 14—Japan surrendered—end of World War ii—with the world now looking fearfully toward a nuclear World War iii.
September 2—Formal ceremony of surrender by Japan to Gen. Douglas MacArthur on board the uss Missouri.
What a chronicle of world events for one single year!
It was less than two weeks after the sudden death of President Roosevelt. The war was not yet over in Europe, but German resistance was crumbling fast. The nations outside the German-Italian-Japanese axis were planning a United Nations organization, which was expected to end all wars—make future wars impossible.
A great conference was set to convene at San Francisco on April 25. This conference of nations was to draw up and adopt a charter for this world organization of nations.
I decided it was advisable that I attend. Practically every hotel room in San Francisco was booked in advance before the world even heard the news of the conference. But I had a few useful connections and was able to arrange a reservation for Mrs. Armstrong and myself for the duration of the conference.
As editor and publisher of the Plain Truth, I was able to obtain full press credentials from the state department as a fully accredited press representative, and also associate press credentials for Mrs. Armstrong.
At the opening plenary session, on April 25, we were sitting in the forefront of the press gallery of the grand and famous San Francisco Civic Opera House. The seat next to us was occupied by one of the best-known network newscasters.
We sat through a round of formal speeches. Secretary of State Stettinius for the United States, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for Great Britain, and one or two others delivered very serious speeches.
They said that we were gathered there, charged with the grave responsibility of producing a world organization that was civilization’s
I wondered whether they realized how true their words really were—so far as man’s efforts to survive are concerned. Or was it merely window dressing, to be printed in the newspapers to impress the public?
Here were the world leaders, except for the Axis powers. They freely confessed—they put oratorical emphasis on the fact—that this world is doomed unless the nations of the world can find a common ground for peace. The world had tried the Peace Conference of The Hague, the Pact of Paris, the League of Nations. Now it was going to try an organization of united nations.
The League of Nations failed because it had no teeth in it. Only a world organization, or world government, wielding military power stronger than any nation bent on disturbing world peace could prevent another world war!
So here, on the floor below us, under the same roof with us, were the leaders of the world’s nations, trying once again to bring about world peace by human effort and organization! Truly, it was a spectacle!
The speeches certainly painted the grim picture. These men knew this was the world’s last hope!
But what happened? At every turn, Mr. Molotov and the Russians balked, opposed, blocked, fought.
A few days after the conference opened, a press conference had been scheduled for Secretary of State Stettinius. It was held in a special conference room in another building. Mr. Stettinius was some 30 or 45 minutes late in arriving. When he came in, his face was white with fury. He literally blazed with indignation. He had been delayed by the Russian Molotov, in a meeting of leaders of the few major powers, which should have ended sometime before this news conference was scheduled to begin. He explained to the newsmen how Molotov had blocked every move, fought and opposed every plan or suggestion, deliberately antagonized the other leaders, and started an intentional war of nerves.
I think that up until that moment the leaders of the United States government had naively believed that the Soviet Union was really our ally. President Roosevelt had felt that he could “convert” Stalin by kindness—by giving him everything he wanted—by appeasing him. During the war I was not allowed to tell the public, over the air, the truth about Soviet plans, or to say anything that was not complimentary about them. I was given to understand this was “policy” which had gone out from the White House.
More than once I witnessed to my shame, in newsreel theaters, a mild and restrained clapping when President Roosevelt’s pictures were flashed on the screen—and then, when Stalin’s picture was shown, wild applause, shouting, foot-stomping shook the theater!
Even before Potsdam—when Gen. George S. Patton’s forces were starting their drive toward Berlin after the Channel crossing—academic psychologists convinced the administration at Washington that the Allies owed it to Russia to remove Russian fears of future German aggression by giving the Communists most of Eastern Europe. That is why General Patton’s forces were halted on the drive toward Berlin and forced to draw back from territory already conquered!
It was about this time, possibly March 1945, that I was waiting to go on the air one Sunday morning in the kxl studios in Portland. Broadcast time was 8:30 a.m. General Patton’s forces were making good progress toward Germany on the west. Russian forces on the east had, the day before, come within a calculated half day of crossing the border into Germany. The first invasion into Germany itself would be big news. Customarily I covered the war news, with an analysis according to prophecy, on each program during those war years. It was already between 5 and 5:30 p.m.—or even an hour later—at the eastern front.
Arriving at the radio studios, I anxiously scanned the news teletype for a dispatch stating that German soil had been occupied by the Russian forces. No such dispatch had come in. I arranged with the station announcer to check every few minutes, and if the news came in on the tape, before my program ended, to shear it off and bring it in to me so I could put it on the air.
But no such news came. Not that half hour. Not that day. Not for many weeks!
Why? The Soviet rulers did not want to plow immediately through for a quick knockout of Germany. Instead, they left adequate forces just outside the German border and sent their invading divisions on south to conquer and occupy such Eastern European countries as Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Albania, setting the Russian boot on those lands, as conquered satellite countries, before bringing the war to an end.
At the same time, the Kremlin, with the help of the theoretical psychologists, prevailed on Washington to send orders through to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to pull General Patton back—to prevent ending the war until the Soviets had occupied all the East European satellite countries!
Sometimes, I wonder how gullible statesmen and heads of government can get! I continually pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Well, we are, with this revision of the Autobiography, 41 years closer to that happy World Tomorrow than we were then!
But if the American secretary of state had been altruistic about the Communists being converted—or being then, or ever becoming, our friends, Mr. Stettinius certainly was disillusioned now! He literally blazed with anger after the closed-door conference with Molotov! This I saw, and heard, in that press conference.
One morning—whether the first morning of the first plenary session or later, I do not now remember—Mrs. Armstrong and I arrived early at the opera house to get a close-up view of the celebrity statesmen arriving. One of the first was Mr. Anthony Eden of Great Britain. Quite a crowd was gathered in front of the opera house. Police guards kept a passageway up the middle of the crowd cleared, from the curb where the delegates stepped out of their cars on arrival. Mrs. Armstrong and I were standing very near the curb, just one or two steps up, off the sidewalk, and directly in front.
Mr. Eden stepped out of his car, smiled, took off his hat and waved warmly and in a most friendly manner to the crowd.
News cameramen rushed to him.
“Will you pose for us, Mr. Eden?” they asked. Smilingly he nodded. The cameramen decided they would like him on the very spot where Mrs. Armstrong and I were standing. Would we kindly move to the other side, just long enough for the “shot”? Sir Anthony smilingly thanked us, and stood while flashbulbs flashed, then briskly walked on up the steps and into the opera house.
A little later, three big, shiny black Cadillacs pulled up to the curb. Out of the first and third of these cars sprang a dozen or more Russian bodyguards. They promptly and rather rudely pushed all of us back farther, to widen the path through the crowd up the steps to the opera house entrance. Then, quickly behind them, out leaped about six more bodyguards from the middle car.
Last of all, out strutted Foreign Minister Molotov of Russia. Six or eight of the bodyguards completely surrounded him, and as he walked stiffly and haughtily up the steps, no smile or nod to anybody, more and more of his bodyguards closed in around him, marching up the steps with him.
What a contrast between the British and the Russian foreign ministers! Mr. Molotov’s haughty behavior made Mr. Anthony Eden all the more well liked by all of us there.
Mrs. Armstrong whispered to me, “Isn’t Mr. Anthony Eden a handsome man?” I assented—and added that so was Mr. Stettinius.
During the conference, I attended a few other press conferences held by outstanding delegates. Mr. Molotov gave one press conference, and I attended. It was stiff and formal. He spoke through an interpreter. He made himself thoroughly disliked and detested by all. We saw quite a little of him during that monthlong conference—more than we enjoyed.
Very much in the news at the conference were the Arab delegates, always noticeable by their flowing robes. They were headed by Sheikh Hafiz Wabba of Saudi Arabia. I arranged for a private conference with him. We spent an hour together in his suite in the Fairmont Hotel and became good friends.
The sheikh was in charge of all Arab negotiations on the Jewish-Arab controversy over Palestine. He explained to me, thoroughly, the Arab view, and why they felt the Jews had no rights whatever in Palestine. Of course, I also interviewed Jewish delegates, who gave me their side of the story. Each side had a most logical and convincing story.
I wondered if the Arab people themselves knew and believed they are the descendants of Ishmael, son of Abraham through Sarah’s handmaid Hagar. I asked him. He did not mention Ishmael’s name, but he said, “Oh yes, Abram [he pronounced it A-brahm, with accent on last syllable] is our ancestor. We are children of Abram.”
The sheikh spoke very good English. Mrs. Armstrong and I met him again, in 1947, in London, when he invited us to a royal reception to be presented to a former king of Arabia, then the Crown Prince. And again, in 1956, in Cairo, he and his wife came to our hotel and spent an afternoon with us. These contacts will be described when we come to those years in the Autobiography.
I had another interesting full-hour’s private conference with Mr. Constanin Fotich, former foreign secretary of Yugoslavia, who gave me a firsthand description of what happened in the Communist invasion of that country—and how farm owners had their farms taken from them.
One press conference attended was held by the former head of Latvia, or Estonia, or Lithuania—I forget which, but believe it was the latter of these three countries the Soviets had gobbled up. He gave us a lurid description of the Communist takeover.
On one occasion I chanced to meet the admiral of the Chinese Navy. He represented Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist China. This was before the Communist takeover. The admiral was a gentlemanly sort. I met him in the elevator of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. He was in a glamorous uniform—not even the Arabs in their flowing robes were more glamorous. On the uniform about every color of the rainbow was somewhere represented. There was only one unusual thing about the presence of the admiral of the Chinese Navy—Nationalist China had no navy! Not a single warship! That may be one reason all the glamor was concentrated on the admiral’s uniform.
Also, during our stay in San Francisco, I, myself, spoke a couple of times—not before conference delegates, but in halls before local radio listeners.
We also attended a Roman Catholic Pontifical High Mass held in the general civic area of the conference, and attended by many hundreds of delegates. It was presided over by the San Francisco archbishop, and the address was delivered by Bishop Hunt, of Salt Lake City, one of the two outstanding Catholic radio ministers at the time. Mr. Hunt was a powerful speaker, and his speech to those delegates—important officials and heads of state of many nations—actually carried prophetic significance.
He built his address around Psalm 127:1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” He stressed the seriousness of the world condition—how this effort to unite nations for peace was man’s last chance. These delegates were trying to build a “house”—a union of nations. Unless the Roman Catholic Church was put at the head of it—for of course he assumed that church was the Lord’s sole instrument on Earth—it was doomed to failure. Since they claim the pope is in place of Christ on Earth—what he really meant was that no move to associate or combine nations together can succeed unless headed and ruled by the pope. It was prophetic, because this is precisely what prophecy says will happen in the new European Union, now emerging in Europe, to resurrect the Roman Empire!Continue Reading: Chapter 49: World War II Ends—Atomic Age Begins