The Charlotte News

Saturday, August 14, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Russian school teacher Oksana Kosenkina, who had the previous day jumped from a third-floor window of the Soviet consulate in New York, suffering serious injuries in an effort to escape the Russians, had been placed under the protective custody of the U.S. Government after she accepted a subpoena, served on her at Roosevelt Hospital, to appear before HUAC. She stated that she had no objection to appearing before the Committee. Russia had demanded full control of Ms. Kosenkina while in the hospital, but the State Department, acting through Undersecretary Robert Lovett, had rejected the demand.

Pravda charged that American intelligence agents, wearing New York City police uniforms, had violated international law by entering the Soviet consulate grounds to aid Ms. Kosenkina after the jump. Pursuant to international law and diplomatic treaties, consulates and embassies are considered foreign soil in the country in which they are situated. The newspaper claimed that the "agents" then seized Ms. Kosenkina by force and transported her to Roosevelt Hospital.

New York's Acting Police Commissioner, Thomas Mulligan, denied the claims, saying that no Government intelligence officers were dressed as policemen. The FBI likewise denied the report.

The Voice of America was broadcasting to Eastern Europe, extending to Moscow and Valdivostok, the story of Ms. Kosenkina and her jump to freedom, powerful propaganda for the West to combat Soviet propaganda. The broadcasts had gotten through the iron curtain despite efforts discovered of late by the Soviets to jam VOA transmissions.

The Russian-controlled press in Berlin admitted for the first time that serious shortages of food existed in the Soviet zone of Germany. The newspaper said that a poor harvest had caused a severe shortage of fat. The Russians had promised 10,800 tons of fat, according to the report, which would close the gap somewhat. The previous week, the Soviet press reported severe sanctions imposed against food hoarders.

In the American zone of Germany, some 300,000 demonstrators had protested on Thursday high food prices, but there were no reported shortages, with rations the highest since the end of the war.

The British-American Berlin airlift operations were temporarily halted the previous night because of heavy rains and poor visibility.

Sixteen F-80 jets, the first American jets to be deployed in Europe, were returning to the United States. They had arrived in Germany on July 25.

A story by Sterling Green begins: "President Truman loaded his elephant gun today for a double-barreled blast at Republicans for trampling his budgetary and anti-inflation plans." The President would release the next day his mid-year budget review, which some Government officials predicted would show a deficit of two billion dollars for the previous fiscal year. It was believed that the Republican tax cut would get most of the blame for the budget deficit after the President the previous January had forecast a 4.8 billion dollar surplus for the fiscal year.

The following Monday, the President would act on the anti-inflation bill from the special session, limiting bank and installment credit.

The Egyptian Government notified U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte that it had rejected Israel's proposal for direct peace talks between the Arabs and Jews. The Egyptians said that they expected any permanent solution to the conflict in Palestine to come from Count Bernadotte. The Count asserted that if the truce could be maintained for six more weeks, the conflict might be resolved peacefully. He believed results might be achieved by mid-October.

Then, it will be October again.

Fighting raged in Jerusalem the previous day, the time set by Count Bernadotte for a ceasefire. Three Jews were killed by Arab sniper fire. Arab Legion troops said that they were under fire from Israelis.

The Dixiecrats failed to meet the ballot registration requirements in the President's home state of Missouri.

In Springfield, Ill., Senator Glen Taylor of Idaho, the Progressive Party vice-presidential candidate, said that Russia was in no position to threaten or fight anybody and its citizens were not anxious to give their lives to spread Communism around the world. He and the Progressive Party candidate for the Senate from Illinois accused the Democratic ticket of being "red baiters, militarists and monopolists."

Chester Bowles, former head of OPA, was nominated in Connecticut to be the Democratic candidate for governor.

In Chicago, the fate of a 22-month old girl was being determined by medical authorities, deciding whether an operation for her rare congenital condition of her bladder being outside her body, might give her a chance to live. Doctors said that she could not survive without such surgery and had but a one in one-hundred chance even after the surgery. A court would ultimately make the decision. The parents were leaving it up to the judge.

In Camden, N.J., the divorced woman who had sought, through advertising, a new husband willing to support her and her six children, having found her mate, was looking with him for a house. They were set to be married the following week. The lucky candidate was a construction worker, also with six children.

Cheaper by the dozen.

In Whiteville, N.C., a State Senator criticized the new practice by the Highway Patrol of painting its cars in conspicuous colors, wasting taxpayer dollars and reducing the Patrol's effectiveness. He said that the only equipment the cars lacked were neon signs to tell motorists of their presence in the nighttime. He favored utilizing the money to increase salaries of the officers.

The "conspicuous colors" to which he referred were not identified. It was probably a spray job.

"Citizen radios", camera-sized broadcasting stations, would soon be on the market. Patterned on the wartime walkie-talkie, the citizens' band radios would have a fifty-watt power output able to broadcast about the distance a person could see.

That's a big 10-4, good buddy.

A big Christmas shopping season was expected, according to business specialist Elmer Roessner, as reported on page 5-A.

On the editorial page, "A Woman Defeats Molotov" views the case of Oksana Kosenkina as a diplomatic defeat for Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov. He had objected to the American government listening to Ms. Kosenkina's stories and said it was disturbing international relations. The same, he thought, was true of the Samarin couple.

Ms. Kosenkina's husband had been seized by the secret police in 1937 and was still missing.

The piece finds the story to have great psychological and symbolic significance as the lowly teacher had outwitted the Soviet spymasters and secret police and confounded the Communist propagandists. Mr. Molotov had lost face and his continued usefulness to Stalin and the ruling Politburo was dubious.

It recommends that Mr. Molotov retire and predicts that otherwise he would be removed and purged for allowing this woman to make a mockery of the Russian dictatorship and "deliver a mighty blow to the Red revolution."

"UN Needs more Than Our Dollars" expresses the thought that it would be nice to believe that the passage of the bill to loan 65 million dollars to the U.N. to build its permanent headquarters in Manhattan was a sign of lasting faith in the body. But it could not so find for the fact that the U.N. had inspired such great expectations for world peace at its inception that they were impossible of fulfillment.

U.N. mediation had stopped the war, at least for the nonce, in Palestine. But wars still raged in Greece and China, neither of which was subject to U.N. resolution because both the U.S. and Russia would not submit the cases to the body. Such big-power policy limited the U.N.'s role in major struggles between East and West.

It counsels that the U.N. would have to become top policy-makers if the world was to avoid World War III. As long as the cold war continued, the new headquarters building in New York would simply be another skyscraper and not an edifice symbolic of world peace.

"Canada's Experience with Spies" finds HUAC proceeding on the theory that every American Communist or fellow traveler was an espionage agent. The Committee found its rationale in the Canadian spy ring case of 1945-46. The Royal Canadian Commission which reported on the case had said that one of the most remarkable aspects of it was the fact that the Soviets had been able with uncanny success to recruit willing Canadians to assist their efforts at espionage. Many were highly educated and had positions of trust in the Canadian Government. None had responded to a lure of money. They had done their work for ideological reasons.

The piece finds Winston Churchill to have summed well the mentality when he had told Commons at the time of the Canadian case that one of the greatest dangers of Communism was that it believed, with religious fervor, in sacrificing one's native land for Communist Utopia.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "It Was Hard Won", tells of someone always warning Americans that they were using up their natural resources faster than they were being replenished or viably substituted, while others always said it wasn't true.

But the people with the dire warnings usually were those charged with the responsibility to look ahead, such as the U.S. Forest Service, who warned that the forests were being used up at the rate of 1.5 times their replacement, that in 40 years standing timber had been reduced by 44 percent.

With the postwar building boom, demands on forests and other natural resources were great. Exploiters could cause the nation irreparable loss. It was necessary therefore to continue to fund the Forest Service and provide for active management of the resource. It advises not to listen to those who claimed it was "socialistic".

Drew Pearson tells of the President sometimes mixing up the Congressional Thomases, Senators Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma and Elbert Thomas of Utah, and Congressmen Albert Thomas of Texas and J. Parnell Thomas of New Jersey. The President had recently informed Senator Elmer Thomas that he had appointed his son-in-law to the job he wanted. Senator Thomas stated that he had no son-in-law. Later in the day, Senator Thomas told Senator Elbert Thomas that he would be probably getting a call from the President, as he did.

He notes that the public confused the two Senators also. When Elmer Thomas was under fire for commodities speculation, Elbert got a lot of the blame in his mail. Moreover, now that Congressman J. Parnell Thomas was taking heat for his kickback scheme with staff, Elbert was also getting the blame for that.

Maj. General Clayton Bissell, former head of Military Intelligence, had been ordered back to Washington and was under investigation for black-marketeering, one charge being that he used an Army airplane to fly coffee into Germany and sell it on the black market. His two bank accounts in the United States had grown three-fold from $9,000 in the two years he had been overseas.

Housing Expediter Tighe Woods and Attorney General Tom Clark, in their conference with expediters and district attorneys from 21 key cities, called for a crackdown on fraud against veterans in the rental and purchase of homes. The builders had received priority allocation of materials to build houses for veterans and then exploited the preferred status when it had saved many builders from bankruptcy. They had not always adhered to the regulations circumscribing the arrangements. Part of the problem, according to V.A. Solicitor Edward Odum, was that the banks would no longer carry the low-interest G.I. loans. The district attorneys, however, criticized the V.A. for hiring appraisers who sometimes valued the properties without inspection.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop find American foreign policy to have enjoyed great success despite much criticism. In Greece, victory against the Communists was in sight, saving the entire Mediterranean from Soviet control. The U.S., through the Truman Doctrine, had accomplished the fact. Just nine months earlier, before the program had taken full effect, it appeared a close case whether Greece would survive, as 75 percent of the land area was controlled by the Communist guerrillas. But within the previous ten days, the guerrilla leader, Markos Vafiades, had fled to Albania, and his Grammos Mountain stronghold had been cut off from supply lines. Now, there was no chance that Greece would fall to Soviet domination save through a war between Russia and the West.

The Greek Army had performed the fighting with British and American arms under the command of American Lt. General James Van Fleet and three hundred American officers. General Van Fleet, a former football coach, had transformed demoralized Greek Army troops into a formidable fighting force. The General had used a two-pronged attack along the Greek border to cut the guerrilla supply base in Albania. The Russian satellites, not wishing to join the war overtly, had abandoned Markos.

The previous winter, the Greek Government was in chaos and inflation was rampant. Reconstruction had hardly started. The Greek Government, since that time, had been reorganized, with 8,000 underpaid civil servants who had been subject to bribes, having been released. The Government was being decentralized. The budget had been balanced and the currency in circulation was being reduced, stopping inflation. Reconstruction was progressing, as the Corinth Canal had been reopened and Greek harbors were beginning to thrive again. Eight hundred miles of roads had been resurfaced, whereas a few months earlier they were impassable.

While there was still much to do, the previous few months had shown that the end of the civil war would bring new prosperity and new, free elections, at which point genuine government reform could take place. Americans could accomplish more than many had believed. The job in Greece had to be done and it was being done. Saving Greece for the free world was the equivalent of saving the free world.

DeWitt MacKenzie tells of the fate of Italy's North African colonial empire, including Libya, Eritrea, and Italian Somaliland, again being debated at the Big Four deputy foreign minsters conference in London. Mussolini had settled thousands of Italian colonists in Libya's Cirenaica province, his Garden of Eden. The rich coast of Libya was a favorite attraction from the times of Cleopatra.

But neither that nor the rich farm lands was the chief attribute which made Libya an attractive plum. Rather, its geopolitical and military significance were vital. Libya and Crete could dominate the Mediterranean. So it was not surprising that Libya's disposition was a bone of contention between Russia and the West.

Russia wanted return of all the colonies to Italy for rule under U.N. trusteeships, pending independence. Most of the Western allies wanted Libya split into its provinces, with some falling under trusteeship by Britain, and Fezzan to France.

By so advocating, Russia hoped still to make political inroads in Italy through the Communist Party there. That could effectively place Libya, under such a settlement and consequent re-emergence of the severely weakened Italian Communists, within the Soviet sphere of influence.

The Libyans longed for independence. Their leader was the Grand Senussi who was a striking personality possessed of much culture. When Mr. MacKenzie had interviewed him in 1943, he expressed great hope for the education of the Libyan masses. He said that freedom should come first and then guidance from a larger power could aid in developing a new state.

The Editors' Roundtable, compiled by James Galloway of Asheville, examines the spy investigations in Congress, finding most editors to focus on the proof found by the FBI that Elizabeth Bentley was telling the truth in her charges of receiving information valuable to the Soviets from two spy rings in the Government. The majority believed that public disclosure of any such misbehavior was salutary and necessary but also disapproved of the Congressional methods and favored instead grand jury secrecy in conducting the investigations. The minority position was that absence of grand jury indictments undermined the credibility of Ms. Bentley and asserted that election-year politics had motivated the Republicans in timing the hearings, considered by the majority of editors, however, to be secondary to getting at the truth.

The Trenton (N.J.) Times asks why, if the charges were true, the FBI and grand jury investigations in New York had not produced any indictment.

—Yeah, Bob. We have to fix that.

—I know, get 'em while the iron is hot.

—No, yeah. That's exactly right. We should focus on that Hiss fellow because his name will really grab the people. He sounds threatening, just like a Commie snake.

—Yeah, that would be good. Orwell. Get a farm involved. This fellow Chambers has a farm in Maryland.

—Okay, you work on that angle, Bob. But try to come up with something spooky before Halloween, a couple of days out from the election.

—Pumpkin? That might work. Or maybe a turkey.

—Oh yeah, well, couldn't it be frozen?

—I know. But you never know. Polls can be wrong and we must protect the country, Bob, from Commies and radicals. Leave nothing to chance. We don't only wish to win, we wish to demoralize the pink opposition for good.

—Pigs. That's exactly right.

—Yeah, yeah. Best to your wife, Bob.

The Washington Post suggests that HUAC was essentially telling the American people that the FBI and the courts were not protecting their security. The Committee was conveying its own lack of trust in the courts and that distrust would transfer inevitably to the people, a dangerous effect. What was worse, the Committee was proceeding outside due process of law and thus providing its own public example of lawlessness.

The Fargo Forum quotes from The Winnipeg Free Press in Canada which found that the support for Ms. Bentley's story coming from former Daily Worker editor Louis Budenz had been nearly a carbon copy of the revelations by Igor Goudenko before the Royal Commission and later in court.

We suppose it never occurred to these people that a powerful form of Soviet propaganda, far exceeding any minor advantage from the wartime "espionage" with a wartime ally being revealed, would have been to plant the seeds of disunity and distrust both in Canada and the U.S., especially the latter, and sit back and watch the destructive parade, much as it in fact played out. HUAC, in other words, played into the Soviet strategy perfectly well in its public revelations, inspiring little more than distrust by the American people of their Government.

A quarter century later, when considered in this light, Watergate and its related scandals and subsequent Congressional revelations of them would be a mirror image of the 1948 HUAC hearings and not surprisingly so, given the man in the White House at that later time, a quarter century hence. Did that latter episode damage permanently trust in the Government? Probably so, insofar as we find the matter still gestating fully forty years on. But whose fault was that?

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot finds Mr. Gouzenko to have proved his case by having taken documents in his role as a cryptanalyst for the Russians. In contrast, Ms. Bentley had no documentary proof. Neither, apparently, did Whittaker Chambers. The FBI had not come up with proof in its investigations, save as a basis for the indictments of the twelve American Communist Party leaders.

—Yeah, Bob. Get to work on that, too. Documentary proof.

—Yeah, then we can stick it to 'em.

—Typewriter. You know a little man who repairs old typewriters for a living. Okay, get to work on that.

—Yeah. Right. Well, find out the brand.

The Hartford Courant posits that proof of Ms. Bentley's allegations would probably be hard to find and the absence thereof did not necessarily discredit her. But also the fact of being a Communist did not necessarily imply espionage or illegality, that a Government official could aid the Soviets without being a spy.

The New York Herald-Tribune finds that the Congressional committee, while never perfected to protect individual rights, was the only device currently available to probe the charges made by Ms. Bentley and Mr. Chambers.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal suggests that the New York grand jury should either render indictments of those accused in the hearings or provide a report which would reveal the facts, even if lacking evidence on which to indict. At present, it believes, the executive and legislative branches were working at cross-purposes, ultimately obstructing revelation of the facts.

A letter writer finds it inconceivable that both Governors Herbert Maw of Utah and Ernest Gruening of Alaska would have made up the statement they attributed to Governor Dewey at the Governors' Conference, stating that he had referred to the teachers' lobby as the "biggest lie since Hitler". The letter writer believes that the denials of this statement by the Dewey campaign were consistent with the Republican tradition of supporting the major lobbies, such as real estate, steel, and the National Association of Manufacturers, while finding the teachers vicious in their demands for higher pay and lower student loads.

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