The Charlotte News

Wednesday, August 5, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Communists released 400 allied prisoners of war this date, including 70 Americans, to begin "operation big switch", which would transpire over the ensuing five weeks, with 392 additional prisoners, including 70 Americans, set to be liberated the following day, this evening Eastern Standard Time. Many of the prisoners released were laughing and shouting, all of the Americans expressing thanks to be homeward bound. Some of the prisoners were so weak they could hardly walk. The head of the hospital at Freedom Village, into which the prisoners were released, indicated that doctors were finding a high percentage of tuberculosis and other lung diseases among the released prisoners, and he was not certain that all would recover. He said that there were also "a few mental cases" among them as well.

The first American officer released, Major John Daujat of Richmond, Calif., told reporters that the Communists had sentenced some American officer prisoners to long prison terms only two days earlier for "instigating against peace", sentences imposed a full week after the Armistice had been signed. Pentagon and State Department spokesmen declined comment on the matter.

There were few stories from the 70 released Americans concerning torture, death or maiming at the hands of their captors. Some of the interviews of the prisoners were conducted with frequent interruptions by censors. One officer explained that the Defense Department had "caught hell" after some of the stories told by the sick and wounded allied prisoners released the prior April. A censor stopped a reporter, for instance, from writing a story told by one prisoner that he had been captured because a South Korean division had collapsed on the flank of his American division. The reporter told the censor that he had written the story when it had originally occurred more than two years earlier. The same censor refused to allow a former prisoner to discuss deaths of allied captives on a mid-winter march from Seoul north to the Yalu River, except as to those deaths which the prisoner actually witnessed. A sergeant said that many of his friends had starved to death in the early months of 1951, describing the treatment in the Communist camps as "pretty tough".

The U.N. allies returned 2,760 Chinese and North Korean prisoners this date.

Peiping Radio broadcast this date a report that a second group of non-Korean prisoners, including captured Associated Press photographer Frank Noel, had left a Yalu River prison camp the previous night headed for repatriation.

New figures released by the Defense Department showed an increase of 1,159 casualties of the Korean War since the last report the prior week, reaching a total of 141,705, with the Pentagon noting that the new total did not necessarily include all of the casualties which had taken place prior to the cease-fire on July 27.

Secretary of State Dulles, in Seoul, met with South Korean President Syngman Rhee this date and quickly agreed on the agenda they would cover during four days of conferences, designed to lay the groundwork for the upcoming Korean post-Armistice peace conference, set to begin not later than 90 days after the Armistice, with focus on reunification of Korea. Secretary Dulles and President Rhee agreed to seek an early start date for the conference, between early and mid-October. Secretary Dulles said that the conference had gone very well and he had relayed a message from President Eisenhower to President Rhee. They had not yet agreed on a recommendation as to the location of the peace conference.

The State Department said this date that Russia had left the door open for a Big Four foreign ministers conference regarding Germany, but that the Soviet note on the subject was ambiguous as to conditions attached to the agreement and would require more study. The Department indicated that before a reply would be made, it would consult with Britain and France. A Big Three conference had already been held in Washington in July.

In Moscow, Premier Georgi Malenkov and six of Russia's top leaders attended the opening session of the Supreme Soviet this date. The deputies rose to their feet and cheered the Premier when he arrived. On the platform with him were Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov, Nikita Khrushchev, and others of Russia's "big nine" leaders. The session was a meeting of the Council of the Union, one of the Supreme Soviet's two houses, with the other house, the Council of Nationalities, scheduled to meet later in the day. The last meeting of the Supreme Soviet had occurred in March, shortly after the death on March 5 of Premier Stalin. This date's meeting was devoted to assessment of the budget.

In Berlin, 37 East German soldiers, including one officer, and policemen fled to West Berlin this date in the second largest mass desertion of members of Communist armed forces thus far in 1953. The group had fled from a food blockade which the Soviet Zone Government had established around Berlin the prior Saturday to try to cut off the American relief to 18 million East Germans. The record for one day of flight had been established June 24, a week after the East German riots, when 46 soldiers and policemen had fled to West Berlin, seeking political asylum. Thus far during the year, 2,555, two thirds of whom had been army troops, had sought asylum.

The blockade plus a rash of terror trials had cut sharply this date the rush of East Germans to receive the free food packages in West Berlin. A West Berlin intelligence organization reported that the first death in the anti-Communist clashes with police and Communist civilian gangs had occurred the prior weekend at Mollen Lake, when a fisherman was first shot in the arm and then beaten to death by the Communist Free German Youth, the FDJ. Four members of the fishing association were arrested on murder charges Sunday by Soviet Zone security agents. The disruption had occurred when the FDJ tried to break up a moonlight fishing expedition by the fishermen. Protests had erupted regarding the blockade on rail travel to Berlin imposed the prior weekend, but the Communist police had quickly put down the demonstrations with force, and the Government began a series of trials to punish people who had gone to West Berlin to obtain the "American Judas parcels" the prior week, as Communist newspapers printed long "blacklists" of East German recipients of the food, sometimes with pictures, denouncing them as "traitors and provocateurs".

We hate to have to make this observation, but East Germany in the summer of 1953 eerily appears to have resembled the streets of several American cities in summer, 2020, with blame squarely placed for the latter condition, not on "Blue State Governors" or on the past Administration which has been out of office for nearly four years, but on only one receptacle, where "victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan", that is, the White House, over which the latter-day version of "FDJ" and its counter-insurgents stem. You may fill in the meaning of the initials with your imagination in the current context. Start with "D" being for Don.

The U.S. demanded "appropriate compensation" from Russia this date for shooting down an American B-50 bomber over the Sea of Japan on July 29. The the formal diplomatic note rejected Moscow's version of the incident, which claimed that the bomber had been over Russian territory when Russian fighters had attacked it and that the bomber had first fired on the fighters. The note also requested knowledge of the whereabouts of the 16 crewmen who were believed to have been rescued by the Russians after bailing out of the aircraft. One of the crew, the co-pilot, had been rescued by an American ship.

A ten-engine U.S. Air Force B-36 crashed into the North Atlantic early this date and its 23 crewmen aboard jumped into the icy waters, with one crewman having been rescued by a British ship 14 hours afterward, reporting that a body had also been recovered, some 420 miles west of Prestwick, Scotland. Search planes had spotted two masses of wreckage 285 miles apart, and ships had been dispatched to both locations. A radio report from the plane had stated that a fire had broken out in one of the engines and that the crew was abandoning the aircraft.

A British freighter, which had radioed July 29 that it had been boarded by pirates off the coast of Communist China, this date reported that it had been released the previous Monday but that its cargo had been confiscated.

In Charlotte, police were continuing to search for the killer of the practical nurse who had been stabbed to death on her way home from work late on Sunday night. It was disclosed by police that she had planned to quit her job at a Charlotte nursing home and leave the city the following Thursday. Police were tracking down scores of tips received as to the possible killer, but, according to Police Chief Frank Littlejohn, nothing had been turned up which was concrete. He said that the dying statement of the nurse, to the effect that a black man had been chasing her and that she believed he had not caught her, probably referred to an earlier incident in which she was followed down the street and had become frightened of a black man. A five-inch kitchen knife, found a few blocks from the scene of the murder, had been tested for bloodstains and fingerprints, but so far had produced no proof that it was used in the crime. Two women who visited patients at nearby Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday night informed police that they recalled seeing a black man with a scar on his face, wearing a baseball cap, loitering on the grounds of the hospital about an hour before the murder, which occurred within about ten minutes after 11:00 p.m. One of the women said that she had become alarmed when the man started walking toward her car, prompting her hurriedly to lock the doors and drive away, afterward reporting the incident to the police.

Dick Young of The News reports of Charlotte's well-planned urban redevelopment program collapsing this date as members of the Urban Redevelopment Commission notified the City Council of their intent to resign their posts, because of the limitations placed by a State enabling act on their functions and the lack of a definite court decision on the constitutionality of the law. They recommended to the Council that their office be closed and the equipment sold. Among the commissioners was Pete McKnight, editor of The News. Mayor Philip Van Every expressed appreciation to the chairman of the Commission, Paul Younts, for the commissioners having attempted to do their jobs, and after the letter was read to the Council, a motion was made and unanimously carried to adopt the recommendations of the letter.

Queen Elizabeth and her children arrived this date for their summer vacation at Balmoral Castle in Ballater, Scotland, and the Duke of Edinburgh would join them later in the week, as he was racing his two yachts at Cowes. How wonderful for you all.

We are here, next to the swamp, stuck in a little cage, wondering if that furry thing across the way is preparing to bite us.

On the editorial page, "Allies Need Set of Basic Principles" indicates that Washington's "wait and see" policy toward Russia's continuing internal difficulties, according to Business Week, was reminiscent of former Secretary of State Acheson's policy toward China of letting the dust settle. The magazine had suggested that the current policy might have similar results.

In his speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington on April 16, the President had suggested that before the Russian "peace offensive" could be taken seriously, it was necessary for Russia to prove its good faith by actions, which would include an honorable peace in Korea, an end to the attacks on Indo-China and Malaya, a free and united Germany with free elections, signing of an Austrian peace treaty, and granting of independence to the Eastern European satellites. The President promised that in return for such action, the U.S. would work to reduce armaments, develop underdeveloped nations, and build world trade.

Since that speech, the purge of L. P. Beria in Russia as the Deputy Premier had shown dissension within the Soviet Government. Rebellion in East Germany and the other satellites had revealed weak puppet regimes, and the food giveaway program of the U.S. organized in West Berlin was having a dramatic impact on the hungry East Germans, as well as on people behind the Iron Curtain everywhere. Communist China was also having its internal difficulties, as there were reports of starvation and widespread purges. There was no evidence that long-range Russian strategy had changed, but there was evidence that a change in tactics had been forced upon the Kremlin by the events of the previous few months, the most recent example of which was the allowance for the first time of Red Cross representatives into North Korea to check on the prison camps in advance of the release of the prisoners of war.

It posits that the time was approaching when the free nations, led by the U.S., ought come to agreement on a single set of principles covering all areas of disagreement between East and West, with the West having to agree on how far to go in making concessions to obtain Russia's agreement with those principles.

It suggests that there might be a disintegration of the Soviet empire underway and that the wait-and-see attitude would prove adequate, hastening the disintegration internally as a result of the revolting masses, just as President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points had given impetus to the Armistice of World War I in 1918.

"Let's Apply Eisenhower's Idea in N.C." indicates that the President's idea of bringing together officials from various levels of government to develop relationships and understanding among Federal, state and local governments, might be applied in North Carolina by Governor William B. Umstead, as well as by other governors across the country. In May, the President had convened the first governors conference in 20 years at the White House, and the fourth such conference in history. He and his staff had briefed the governors on international and national affairs, and received thoughtful comment from the governors in response. During the current week, the President was meeting with the governors at their own conference in Seattle.

It suggests that it should help the President implement his philosophy of minimal Federal government, which meant more than simply having private enterprise substitute for government, but also entailed turning over to the states and local governments tasks which were more suited to them than to the Federal Government.

It recommends a joint study of the role of municipal government, as it had recently become a primary component of government in the state. Conferences between the Governor and the other government officials would increase public understanding of the issues, and the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill would be able to provide valuable assistance to such conferences.

"The Beginnings of Wisdom Re Russia" indicates that for 11 years, Associated Press correspondent Eddy Gilmore had covered Russia in Moscow, and had written a series of four articles, which had appeared in The News July 21-24, regarding his experiences after he had returned for the first time to the U.S. since 1942.

It had been impressed by his candor in saying such things as that Premier Georgi Malenkov was definitely in charge after the death of Stalin on March 5, but that Mr. Gilmore might be completely wrong on that point, as well as other such statements about which he admitted not knowing for sure, after venturing his best guess, including the belief that the report was essentially correct that Stalin had died of heart failure, while admitting that he could not say whether the rumors of murder were true.

It ventures that the reader might have gleaned from such thoughts that Mr. Gilmore had not learned too much about Russia in his more than a decade there, but it was also probable that in venturing his observations and qualified opinions, he had achieved the beginnings of wisdom regarding modern Russia. He had admitted having to guess when he lacked facts and had displayed in that absence of certitude a good set of rules to use in discussing any issue, particularly Russia.

A piece from the Johnson (Kans.) Pioneer, titled "Down to the Last Cadillac", indicates that the way the drought in the Southwest was being portrayed in the Eastern press, one would think that they were down to their last Cadillac. The cattlemen had been hit hard and the wheat crop had pretty much fizzled, but it was not a full-fledged "disaster". As one person had observed, "A man driving a $5,000 automobile does not look like a disaster."

It indicates that the history of southwest Kansas was that two good wheat crops in five years was a very good average. While modern machinery and the use of summer fallow had changed that average for the better, it had not changed it enough that one crop failure in 13 years formed a disaster.

It suggests that the modern habit of looking to government to correct every wrong had gotten to the point of absurdity, "and this 'disaster' business is the most absurd of the absurdities." It indicates that the people of Kansas had whipped a lot of disasters which had been a lot worse and then sent cash contributions to help out those in flood areas in the East.

Laurence C. Eklund, of the Milwaukee Journal, provides a profile of the new Senate Majority Leader, replacing Senator Taft, Senator William Knowland of California. Senator Taft had personally selected Senator Knowland to carry on for him as acting Majority Leader, when Senator Taft had stepped away from his duties in late May because of his illness.

Senator Knowland had been in the Senate for eight years and prior to that, for six years in the California Legislature. His father had served six terms in Congress. As a boy at age 12, he had made speeches for the Harding-Coolidge ticket in 1920, and at age 16, had sat in for his father as chairman of a meeting to organize the Coolidge-Dawes campaign in his home county in 1924. He was able, patriotic and willing to work, but his critics insisted that he was not the diplomat to hold the Republican slender majority in the Senate in line. Those critics pointed primarily to his lack of humor. Democrats had found Senator Taft easier to get along with and believed that Senator Knowland's criticisms of the Eisenhower Administration's handling of the Korean truce situation would make it easy for Democrats to campaign for Congress in 1954. They contended that their record supporting the President showed that they were his real friends in Congress, and actually hoped to gain victories in both chambers on the strength of the President's popularity. The Senator had made the observation that had the Administration consulted more with President Syngman Rhee of South Korea, there would have been no late breach in June which nearly derailed the truce agreement. He said that the U.S. had treated President Rhee as "a colonial subject" rather than as a partner. Some of the Senator's colleagues believed it was strange for the acting floor leader to be expressing such opinions publicly, but the Senator believed that there were times when he had to speak individually, making it clear that he was not speaking on those occasions as acting floor leader. He had recalled, for instance, Senator Alben Barkley refusing to go along with FDR's veto of the 1944 tax bill, even though Senator Barkley was the Majority Leader at the time.

Senator Knowland had criticized the U.S. policy in China for several years, and as an ardent supporter of Chiang Kai-shek, had tried to obtain some of the billions of dollars being sent in aid to Europe for the Nationalist Chinese Government, becoming known among some of his detractors as the "Senator from Formosa" or a spokesman for the "China lobby". He was sensitive about that criticism, pointing to his record of voting for military and economic aid for Europe as well as for Asia. He had criticized President Truman repeatedly for having fired General MacArthur in March, 1951.

The previous March, he had created something of a sensation in the press galleries by tangling angrily with Senator McCarthy because he felt the latter had called him a liar in the debate regarding the confirmation of Charles Bohlen to become Ambassador to the Soviet Union. It had taken courage to take on Senator McCarthy at that point in time.

There was talk that Senator Eugene Millikin of Colorado might have support as the new Majority Leader at the start of the second session the following January, although it was practically certain that Senator Knowland would be considered for continuation in the job.

At 45, he was relatively young to be the Majority Leader, but had become California's youngest Assemblyman at age 25, and at age 32, had been the youngest person to be chairman of the executive committee of the RNC. When Governor Earl Warren of California had appointed him as Senator at the age of 37 to succeed deceased Senator Hiram Johnson, he was at the time the youngest man sitting in the Senate. He had been only 18, when, in the middle of his sophomore year at the University of California, he had married a classmate.

His father was wealthy and he had demonstrated that it was not necessary to be born of humble circumstances to succeed in politics. He had been re-elected in 1946 by 260,000 votes over Democrat Will Rogers, Jr., and the previous year had won handily as both the Republican and Democratic nominee, under the California convention which permitted the top vote-getter in both primaries to be the nominee, regardless of party.

Drew Pearson tells of the last two occasions on which he had met with Senator Taft before his death the prior Friday, one having been a meeting at the Senator's office, to find out whether the report was true that he had said in a weekly conference with the President, during discussion of appointing General James Van Fleet as the new Veterans Administration head, that there were "too many generals in government" already, quickly catching himself in embarrassment because he realized that the President had been a General. Mr. Pearson says that Senator Taft had readily confirmed the episode, and said that nobody had smiled, making it quite embarrassing. He explained that he had not meant it as a reflection on the President, but believed there were already too many generals in civilian jobs within the Administration. He also said in that interview that he believed there had been blunders made by the Administration because many people in the Cabinet still had a lot to learn. He compared the Administration to the current Government of Winston Churchill in Britain—as distinguished from the Churchill Coalition Government during the war—, indicating that at the outset, that Government had lacked good men and had become unpopular, but had come on later to gain strength, something which he believed the new Administration would do as well. He said that while he had backed the President on most matters thus far, he reserved the right to disagree on any issue.

The other meeting had occurred at a luncheon provided by former Ambassador to Russia Joseph E. Davies, and his wife, for Martha Taft, the Senator's wife, who had been confined for the previous three years because of her physical illness, which had taken a dramatic toll on her. This was her first emergence into a public setting, and the Senator made sure that she was comfortable throughout. Mr. Pearson had reflected back to a time just a year or two after the Senator had entered the Senate, during a debate with the Senator, when his wife was both his inspiration and provider of ammunition to fire back at his opponents, and now realized that what he had dreaded most when told about the limited time he had left was the thought that his partner who had made his battles her battles, would no longer be at his side.

Stewart Alsop, in Bonn, West Germany, indicates that the city was peculiarly depressing, for an American reason, as Americans in Bonn were rapidly losing confidence in themselves and their country, leading to a kind of paralysis in terms of great policy issues, as the Americans were substituting dogma for policy and the official line for serious, original thought. The chief policy advisers in Bonn had been able foreign service officers, John Davies, Charles Thayer, and Samuel Reber, but now all three were gone, two having been victims of the State Department's new chief security officer, R. W. Scott McLeod, the Department's "dutiful imitation of McCarthyism". It was thus hardly surprising that those who remained refused to stick their necks out.

The Germans took special delight in talking about the "American Gestapo", comparing the U.S. now to Germany 20 years earlier. That was nonsense, as there was no Buchenwald for American officials who had incurred official disfavor, instead being pressured to follow conformity. He cites as an example an official who happened to step out onto his balcony and had seen a shadowy figure clambering over the railing, prompting him to call the German couple who were his servants and asked them who the intruder might be, receiving the reply that it was doubtless the American secret service person who had several times interrogated them about the official's dinner table conversation and other aspects of his private life.

As another such example, there had been a series of secret interrogations to discover the identity of those who attended a farewell party for Theodore Kaghan, the able public affairs official for the State Department, who was one of those caught up in the recent sacrifices to Senator McCarthy. That party had been attended by U.S. High Commissioner to West Germany James Conant, making the investigation silly. Even sillier was the fact that the public affairs division had arranged the party, and so the gumshoes would have only needed to phone them to obtain a list of those present.

Mr. Alsop regards what was going on less a reign of terror than a "reign of stupidity". One official had recently received a suitability report on an able subordinate which indicated negatively that he was "super-democratic" and "intellectually curious". Another official had recently remarked that the food shipments to East Germany had been so controversial that had he openly favored them, he would have been "roasted alive" for wanting to send food to Communists, but, by the same token, if he had been against them, he would also have been roasted for opposing a great psychological ploy against the Communists. Thus, he had said nothing.

Mr. Alsop finds that a serious effort was being made to end the "reign of stupidity", with orders having been issued to limit wiretapping and the use of German nationals as informants against American officials. Furthermore, Dr. Conant had announced that he was prepared to back loyal subordinates to the hilt. Nevertheless, an incalculable amount of damage had already been done, with the U.S. made to look ridiculous in such incidents as the book-burning at the Information Service libraries and the spy hunt conducted in Europe by Senator McCarthy's investigators, Roy Cohn and David Schine. Many of the more able officials had been eliminated or disgraced, while others were thinking seriously of leaving before they met the same fate.

"In a reign of stupidity, the safely stupid flourish, and the key positions here are beginning to fill up with amiable nonentities."

James Marlow indicates that the President, in his speech to the governors conference the previous day, had stressed the importance of the four million dollars which Congress had voted to fight the Communists in Indo-China. The way the President had gone about obtaining approval for the aid showed how he had advanced in handling Congress.

He had a theory of government which he called gradualism, saying at his July 22 press conference that he considered it his job to bring people in Congress and the executive branch together to achieve progress.

He had begun his term in office in January by having members of Congress come to the White House for breakfast or lunch, seeking to establish a personal and friendly relationship with the members, still a goal. But in the beginning, he had relied on an attitude which conveyed the notion that he would lay his proposals before Congress, which could then suit itself, and hope things would turn out all right. Now, he was putting pressure on Congress or individual members thereof to obtain approval for what he thought was important.

He had done pretty well, until Congressman Daniel Reed, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, had erected a roadblock to the President's proposed six-month extension of the excess profits tax from getting out of committee for consideration on the floor of the House, with its originally scheduled automatic expiration otherwise on June 30. The President, with the help of other Republican leaders in the House, was able to get around Congressman Reed's obstructionist effort, however, humiliating the chairman.

Likewise, the President wanted the 400 million dollars in aid to Indo-China, but after the House had approved the amount, the Senate cut it back to 300 million. State Department officials urged the Senators to vote for the full amount, and officials of the Mutual Security Administration explained some of the reasons why that full amount was necessary, including secret uses of the money. The result had been that a few hours before the adjournment on Monday night, the Senate had voted the full amount.

Mr. Marlow concludes that just how far the President might have to go in getting Congress to do what he wanted was something he would have to work out for himself for the remainder of his term in office.

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