The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 12, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that allied soldiers had battled with enemy troops all along the storm-battered front in Korea this date, as howling gales piled snow into drifts ranging from 10 to 15 feet deep along the eastern front, and snow accumulated to a foot in the barren "Heartbreak Ridge" sector, combining with rain and heavy clouds to restrict allied air attacks and cause most warplanes to be grounded. The heaviest ground fighting was before dawn on the central front, when an allied patrol entered no-man's land and ran into a force of between 150 and 175 Chinese Communist troops. The enemy quickly surrounded the outnumbered allies and closed in for close-quarters fighting in an area south of Pyonggang, lasting for eight hours. Two reinforcing units came to their rescue, the first of which had been intercepted by the enemy and the second, fighting its way through to the first, then combining to fight through the enemy and rescue the patrol, fighting slowly back to their lines.

Two Soviet jet fighters shot down a four-engine British bomber near the frontier between the British and Russian zones of Germany this date, the pilot surviving but at least four of the crew members killed. Parts of the wreckage were reported to have fallen across the Elbe River in Communist-controlled territory, but German eyewitnesses said that the attacking Communist planes definitely encroached on the airspace of West Germany. Two bursts of machine gun fire had been heard, and then the British bomber had blown up. Three of the men had bailed out, and one of them had later died, according to the British Foreign Office in London. Germans reported finding a hole in one of the parachutes and reports indicated that the pursuing planes continued to fire after the British plane had burst into flames. The prior Tuesday, Soviet-built MIG-15s of the Czechoslovakian Air Force had attacked two U.S. jet fighters in an area 300 miles south of the incident occurring this date. There had been no loss of life in that incident, as the shot-down jet's pilot had parachuted to safety and the other jet had escaped the area unharmed. The British Foreign Office spokesman said that it was far too early to determine whether the attack was part of a continuing pattern occurring in the wake of Joseph Stalin's death and the ascension to power of new Premier Georgi Malenkov.

The previous May, an Air France transport plane flying to West Berlin had been attacked by Soviet fighters over East Germany, with four civilians having been wounded, the Russians claiming that the plane had been outside the permissible corridor for such flights, while Air France denied that was the case. The previous October, a U.S. Air Force hospital plane had been fired upon by a Soviet fighter over East Germany, but reached Berlin unharmed. An unarmed U.S. Navy Privateer plane, with ten men aboard, had been shot down in a flight over the Baltic in April, 1950, the Russians rejecting U.S. protests over the incident, insisting that the plane had penetrated Soviet-controlled territory. In November, 1951, a U.S. cargo plane, off-course on a flight from West Germany to Belgrade, was forced down in western Hungary.

U.S. officials said this date that further shooting incidents between U.S. and Communist aircraft along the boundary of the Iron Curtain countries would hold grave danger of setting off an international explosion. Informants at the U.S. airbase at Wiesbaden said that there was no doubt that the U.S. plane and a companion jet in the Tuesday incident had been patrolling well inside the U.S. zone of West Germany when the two Czechoslovakian jets approached and opened fire, as proven by radar. Within a matter of hours after the incident, the U.S. had registered an official protest with the Czechoslovakian Government. The Prague Government, as anticipated, rejected the protest and told the U.S. Embassy that the clash had occurred after U.S. planes had penetrated Czech airspace and refused an order to land. The U.S. officials appeared to doubt that the attack was a deliberate, overt action in result of orders from the Communist high command, rather treating it as one of the things apt to occur in an area of high East-West tension. A problem was that a pilot traveling at 600 mph sometimes was unable to determine exactly what was home territory and what was not, and the officials suggested that the Czech pilots may have believed the two U.S. planes were in Czech territory.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this date ordered an investigation into who was responsible for the alleged ammunition shortage in Korea, as General James Van Fleet, just retired as U.S. Eighth Army commander, had recently testified had impacted combat operations. Chairman of the Committee, Senator Leverett Saltonstall, said that the Committee had determined that the charges had been substantiated and had directed him to appoint a five-man subcommittee to investigate the matter further. He said that he probably would name the subcommittee the following week, after conferring with Senator Richard Russell, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, and finding out which Democrats would be willing to serve.

The President presented his first Medal of Honor to a former Marine Corporal who had flung himself on a hand grenade in Korea the prior April 16. The hand grenade had exploded but the Marine, Duane Dewey, had lived, as had two other fellow soldiers, who might have been killed but for his act of courage.

Selective Service officials said this date that an executive order was being considered to make it impossible for any young man to obtain a permanent draft deferment through marriage and becoming a father during a temporary deferral for studies or training. The proposed change was being circulated among interested Government agencies before being submitted to the President.

Major Leo Frohe II, a Marine flier who had to swim from a plane crash in late January over Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, had just suffered a second crash landing on Monday at Cherry Point, N.C., when his Skyraider developed a "runaway" propeller. The plane lost altitude quickly and he determined that he could only make it back to the base if he dropped his gasoline tank, but because he was over a thickly populated area at 500 feet, he feared injury or death to those below, thus risked his life to continue piloting the plane until he was over a wooded area before dropping the tank, just seconds before the plane crashed 3 miles from the base. Helicopters reached the crash scene just as he was struggling to escape his protective harness. He was unhurt, but somewhat upset when the helicopter crew had started hosing down the crash with carbon dioxide, as he lost cookies, cakes and messages from families to their husbands and fathers on maneuvers in the Caribbean. Major Frohe said that it appeared he was making a career of crashing.

In Bonn, West Germany, U.S. Ambassador David Bruce, said this date that the six Western European nations forming the Schuman Plan, involving the sharing of coal and iron resources, appeared to be ready to ratify the European army treaty and that he did not believe Stalin's death would impact the plan.

HUAC postponed scheduled questioning this date of an instructor at Rutgers University, Abraham Glasser, after he reported that the wife of his attorney had suddenly become ill. Mr. Glasser had been a Government attorney for 12 years before joining the Rutgers Law School staff, and complained to journalists that there was no just or legal reason for calling him as a witness, handing them a prepared statement which he had submitted to the Committee and to the president of Rutgers, containing that charge. He had been summoned as part of the investigation of Communists in the nation's schools and colleges. Mr. Glasser said this date, in response to Committee questions, that he could obtain another attorney but had put in a lot of "skull practice" with his current attorney and they had developed a team mentality. Congressman Francis Walter of Pennsylvania asked what he meant by "skull practice", whether they were developing some kind of act, to which Mr. Glasser responded that it was only a football term, to which Congressman Walter indicated his awareness but wanted more information, at which point the chairman, Harold Velde, cut off the exchange. Mr. Glasser said that he had resigned the Justice Department in 1941 after serving in the lands and antitrust divisions since 1935, then joined the Office of Price Administration, handling constitutional tasks of controls litigation, until resigning from the Government in 1947 to join the Rutgers Law School. While at OPA in 1942, did he know a former HUAC member?

The President placed a reorganization plan before the Congress, which would set up a new Department of Health, Education and Welfare, to take over the functions of the present Federal Security Agency. The plan called for the current administrator of FSA, Oveta Culp Hobby, to become Secretary of the new Department. The Congress had 60 days for one of the houses to veto the plan by a constitutional majority, or it would become law. It was anticipated that the plan would be adopted. The plan would have the effect of increasing Ms. Hobby's pay by $5,000, to $22,500, the salary of Cabinet officers.

The Government was expected to end price controls this date on remaining consumer items, including coffee, beef, hardware, and fuel oil on the East Coast. It would leave still under controls some industrial metals, machinery and materials which formed a major cost of Government defense spending. It was believed that coffee prices would rise quickly under decontrol, but that grocers and dealers might absorb part of that increase for competitive reasons. It was anticipated that there would be no increase in brewery prices as a result of decontrol of beer and ale.

CIO president Walter Reuther said this date, in a statement prepared for the House Labor Committee, that the Taft-Hartley Act had worsened labor-management relations and given employers "a new arsenal of weapons with which to beat us over the head." He said that the Act needed substantial changes, suggesting removal of nearly all major provisions, with Mr. Reuther indicating that those who would charge that it would amount to actual repeal would be correct. He said that the law required the Government to seek injunctions against unions accused of certain unfair labor practices, while having no corresponding injunctive provision against employers accused of unfair practices.

In Niagara Falls, N.Y., three tourists said that an unidentified man, about 60, bald and clutching a black hat, had been swept over the edge of the falls the previous day, but police had been unable to find the man or any clues to his identity.

In Oakland, Calif., a Seattle contractor gave the Western Home Builders Convention advice on selling a new house, saying that if it did not sell the first week, to place a fence around it, and if not the second week, to landscape it, and if not the third week, to install a barbecue pit, and if not after the fourth week, to move into it, themselves.

The Soviet Embassy in Washington was asked by the National Association of Gag Writers this date to help make the eighth annual Laugh Week, scheduled to begin on April Fool's Day in the U.S. and Canada, a three-power international affair. They asked the Embassy to help "put a smile on the map of Russia" by providing an interpreter at the Kremlin for a person-to-person telephone call to Premier Malenkov.

That ought to be a real yuck-fest.

Did you hear the one about the coups in Russia? It was coups in coups.

On the editorial page, "The Senator Doth Presume Too Much" indicates that State Senator Fred McIntyre of Mecklenburg County had overreached himself, several weeks earlier having sought to abolish the County Police Department and transfer its functions to the Sheriff, until public opinion had risen up against the plan, now having introduced a bill to make the Park & Recreation Commission posts elective, after receiving petitions signed by 1,000 citizens of the city in favor of that procedure.

It finds that there might be some merit to the bill, in theory, as elected officials would be more responsive to the wishes of the people, but that because the job of the commissioners paid nothing and carried plenty of headaches, it would be difficult to obtain good people to seek the office in an election. What mattered most was having good personnel, and it recommends that the present system of appointment of commissioners by the City Council was the best method. Senator McIntyre, it suggests, had no way of knowing what the people of Charlotte really thought about the proposal and had only assumed that he knew what was best. The City Council had passed a resolution opposing the change, a position supported by the current Commission members. It recommends waiting on a long and thorough public discussion before making such a change.

"The Road Back to Reason" indicates that recent events had suggested that the loyalty investigation by Congress was waning, for the same reasons Congress had lost interest in other investigations, that the matter had gone full circle and tracked back to Congress, itself.

Dr. Bella Dodd, a former Communist greatly relied on by Congressional loyalty investigators, had testified that Communist agents had infiltrated many of the legislative offices of Congress. It did not mean that the charge was correct, but had placed Congress on the same level with other organizations charged with Communist and subversive infiltration. Members of Congress did not like investigating themselves, and so the probes were likely to be put on indefinite hold. The former Communists had accused nearly every group of American society of being Communists or sympathizers, and Americans could thus laugh at themselves, "shake off the spell of hysteria, and get back to the sound American practice of proving guilt with evidence, rather than innuendo or association, and letting the loyal nonconformist and independent thinker go their way."

"MIG's Catch Us Looking the Other Way" comments on the pair of Czechoslovakian MIG-15 jets which had fired on two U.S. jets over the U.S. zone of West Germany on Tuesday, shooting down one of the American jets while the other had escaped. The incident had awakened people to the reality that there would be no quick victory in the Far East through "unleashing" of the Chinese Nationalists, or an end to the Korean War simply through a change of Administrations or launching a major offensive in Korea in the spring. The threat of Russian imperialism was greater than ever, and was worldwide. The shooting incident was merely one of several such incidents through time—as set forth on the front page.

The Truman Administration could do no more than protest when Hungary had forced down an American transport plane in November, 1951 and held four American fliers for ransom. Now, the Eisenhower Administration was in the same predicament vis-à-vis Czechoslovakia. It suggests that the facts were that the free world, under its "guns and butter" program, had not yet made itself strong enough to enforce Soviet respect for the rights of other nations.

It concludes that the free world was in for a long, hard fight in the effort to win peace and avoid a third world war, that it would require sacrifice and hard work, patience and unity behind the Administration. The country had not yet reached its goals of strength, and thus Russia could taunt the free world, which was why the U.S. was unwilling and unable to retaliate, enabling the enemy to jab first here and there.

A piece from the Travelers Protective Association Bulletin, titled "Justice", tells of a man being found guilty of killing a deer at night and being punished with a fine of $250 and the confiscation of his car, his rifle and flashlight. The same court had found a man guilty of drunk driving and only fined him $100 and suspended his driver's license. In another court, two men had been convicted of fishing on Sunday and were fined $100 each plus costs, while the next day, the same court had found a man guilty of reckless driving and fined him $10.

It points out that 1952 had been the worst year in the history of the country, save 1951, for loss of life in accidents, with approximately 100,000 persons having been killed—36,000 of whom in motor vehicle accidents, increasing almost steadily through 1980, when 51,000 lost their lives, declining since—and another 11 million having been crippled, of whom 300,000 had been crippled for life. It suggests that the absurdities of the courts, as the examples related showed, were why the accident rate continued to increase. Routinely, courts suspended jail sentences imposed by juries on drunk and reckless drivers. It suggests that it appeared to be a waste of time, energy and money, for highway patrols, county and city police to remove from the highways such potential murderers, only to have the judges diminish the gravity of the offenses and abrogate penalties imposed by juries, through suspended sentences. (The latter notion makes no sense legally, as juries might determine guilt or not and, in some jurisdictions, make recommendations as to severity of punishment, but courts always sentence, whether in a court trial or jury trial, except in the case of mandatory sentences imposed by statute or bifurcated death-penalty cases, the court's discretion taking into account the background of the accused, presence or lack of a criminal record, propensity for future recurrence, the gravity of the instant offense, and other such factors.)

Three transcripts of recent Voice of America broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain are reprinted from the Christian Science Monitor, the first having been presented in the wake of the death of Stalin, explaining how Stalin had subjugated the people of Russia and the satellite countries to serve the elite of the Communist Party.

Another broadcast dealt with the old charge that bacteriological warfare had been used in the Korean War, as stated by Radio Peiping and echoed by Andrei Vishinsky before the U.N. General Assembly. The only new aspect of the charge, it indicates, was that it related to the past, the previous spring, making it impossible to disprove.

The third broadcast dealt with refugees fleeing East Germany to West Berlin at a record rate of more than 30,000 per month, seven times the rate of refugees arriving the previous year. The rate had doubled during the prior two months, since December, and had quadrupled since the prior summer. It breaks down by percentage the typology of the refugees and indicates that they were fleeing Communist terrorism of many kinds, as well as shortages of food, fuel, and most other essential needs.

Drew Pearson indicates that French intelligence, which was usually pretty good, had produced a strange theory that Stalin had been dead for a month and that the Russians had installed an impostor in the Kremlin to fool the world. They had found that Stalin had actually died during the week of February 2 in Moscow, but that the news had been kept quiet while the Politburo secretly entrenched itself to make certain that there would be no revolt. They indicated that Stalin's double was allowed to meet with two foreign diplomats, the Argentine Ambassador to Russia and the Indian Ambassador, and that since neither had ever met Stalin previously, they were fooled, convincing the West that he was still alive. Meanwhile, V. M. Molotov, L. P. Beria and Georgi Malenkov prepared a series of phony announcements regarding Stalin's illness, spacing them over a four-day period so that the Russian people would not be too suddenly shocked. U.S. intelligence was inclined to doubt the French information, but admitted that there was some evidence supporting it, that Russian troops in East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia had taken unusual security precautions every night during the two weeks just before the announcement of Stalin's death.

There was an ongoing battle in Congress regarding the chairmanship of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, between two Republicans, Senator Bourke Hickenlooper and Congressman Sterling Cole, with the former assuming that he would be made chairman as Senators generally outranked members of the House. Mr. Cole, however, had pointed out that the chairmanship of the Committee was supposed to rotate between the Senate and the House, and that because he wished to run for governor of New York, chairmanship of the Committee would be an important springboard. In the showdown, House members supported Mr. Cole and the Senators supported Senator Hickenlooper. Meanwhile, Congressman Carl Durham of North Carolina, a Democrat, continued as chairman from the prior Congress. Senator William Knowland of California had proposed rotating the chairmanship every two years, providing it first to Senator Hickenlooper, but that had not satisfied Mr. Cole, who wanted to run for governor in 1954, causing Senator Knowland to propose that Senator Hickenlooper would be chairman only during 1953 and that Mr. Cole would assume the chairmanship the following year.

The President's chief of staff, Sherman Adams, the "assistant President", had developed a device to get around the Civil Service laws and banish all Democratic staff members on the Council of Economic Advisers, who could not be fired under Civil Service rules. He was letting the appropriations for their positions expire, and when they quit, more money would then be appropriated, with Republicans hired in their stead. But Mr. Adams was not on good terms with the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Styles Bridges, even though both were New Hampshire Republicans. Former Governor Adams, in consequence, had phoned Congressman John Taber of New York, who got in touch with Senator Bridges and convinced him to let the appropriations for the Council members expire.

General Mark Clark, supreme commander of the U.N. forces in Korea, had cabled Washington, recommending that the U.S. begin a major psychological offensive in the Far East to capitalize on the death of Stalin. He had already sent American planes to drop leaflets, reporting of Stalin's death, behind the Chinese lines in Korea, but believed the U.S. should do more in a coordinated program with the British. He agreed with Marshal Tito, that it might be possible to turn Mao Tse-tung into a Chinese Tito, provided the allies played their cards correctly.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that none of the leaders of the West knew the new Soviet Premier Georgi Malenkov, no American official having had any real contact with him. Yet, there was one person who had observed him at close range, Dr. Arnhost Heidrich, perceptive and highly intelligent, the secretary-general of the Czech Foreign Office until he had escaped from Czechoslovakia after the Communist "rape" of his country, presently a refugee in Washington, but prior to that escape, having been considered a brilliant diplomat. Dr. Heidrich had encountered Malenkov in July, 1947, after he, Czechoslovakian President Klement Gottwald, and Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, who had shortly thereafter killed himself, were summoned to Moscow. There, they were warned bluntly by Stalin that Czechoslovakia must not, under any circumstances, join the Marshall Plan.

Afterward, they were invited to a lavish dinner in the Kremlin, with Stalin seated at the head of the table, smoking incessantly, and Dr. Heidrich only a few seats away, in between Andrei Vishinsky and Malenkov. The party lasted for five hours, during which Malenkov ate ravenously. Dr. Heidrich did not claim to the Alsops that the conversation was particularly significant during that time, but he was able to gather an indelible impression of Malenkov's personality. He said that at a distance, he looked very strong and muscular, but that in close proximity, it was obvious that the muscle was actually fat, making him appear as a "Turkish eunuch". His face was peculiarly "pallid, waxy and remarkably smooth". His cheeks were fat and puffy, especially under the eyes, but his skin was not fallen or wrinkled. His hands were also fat and smooth, hairless. Dr. Heidrich found him to be an unpleasant man, with a layer of fat on his face concealing all expression, only his eyes being alive, and they were small, "very black, very, very cunning, and very, very, very cruel." He was obviously not a man of the intelligentsia, whereas V. M. Molotov and L. P. Beria were men of extraordinary intelligence, and Stalin had been an authentic genius, while also "a cruel and very cowardly man".

Dr. Heidrich also observed, however, that Malenkov, unlike Molotov and Beria, had power, just as had Stalin. He had an inner force and assurance, but exercised his power secretly, in the shadows. Dr. Heidrich was certain that Molotov and Beria could not seriously challenge his power, that it could come only from the generals.

Robert C. Ruark, in Narok, southern Masai, in Kenya, tells of being camped in the area, ostensibly to shoot buffalo, but actually on the lam from MGM, as they appeared to follow him around Africa, perhaps not intentionally. He now found himself in the midst of the first or second company of the film "Mogambo", which would star Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. Hollywood had discovered Africa with a vengeance, turning it into a residence for hams. Even the animals had become screen-struck, and some of the natives had become somewhat unbearable because of their enforced association with glamour. There were about a thousand Samburu gathered to play the part of the bad men in the new movie, and he believed there would be no standing them once they tasted "klieg-light living".

There had been a time when the camera was a novelty in Africa, but now any tribesman was willing to pose for five shillings.

Hollywood had created a housing shortage in Nairobi, where the hotels were jammed, as well as an animal shortage in the bush, as the animals had left for Tanganyika or Uganda to escape the Hollywood sets. He says he had nothing against Hollywood as long as it remained home, but could not stand it positioning itself between him and his rhino target. He also was tired of explaining that he was not in the cast of the picture or a poor relation to Mr. Gable. Someone had asked him whether he was Frank Sinatra, causing him to wonder whether he had lost weight. The problem with Hollywood in the bush was that it never stopped being Hollywood, as the actresses all wore the same dark glasses and the actors seemed to have come from central casting, with a kind of superiority, "as if they'd suddenly discovered that leopards live along the river, and that Swahili is actually a language." They hired professional hunters to protect them from imaginary bogeys, since no wild animals would want anything to do with a movie safari. All they did, said one of the white hunters who had worked for MGM, was to pour tea.

He observes that soon the planes would be flying, heading to the Mara River, along with the hunting rigs and big trucks with MGM painted on the side, stirring up dust and scaring the "other baboons". Then, the "languid ladies with the bare legs will climb out of the cars, stretch, adjust their glasses, and complain bitterly of the sun, the cold nights, the noise and the tsetse flies."

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