The Charlotte News

Monday, June 8, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Robert B. Tuckman, that a prisoner exchange agreement had been signed this date between the Communists and the allies, eliminating the last major stumbling block to a truce in Korea, one which had blocked the armistice for more than a year. South Korean opposition, however, remained, and South Korean leaders vowed again to continue fighting. Agreement on a full armistice in the war might come as early as the following day. The prisoner agreement provided that of the 138,000 U.N. and Communist prisoners, those wanting repatriation would be exchanged within 60 days following the signing of the truce, and that Communist prisoners resisting repatriation, held by the allies, would be released as civilians no later than six months following the truce. In the meantime those prisoners would be turned over to a five-nation neutral commission within 60 days of the truce, would spend 90 days in the custody of the commission while Communist agents sought to convince them that it was safe to return home, that if they still refused, they would remain in custody for an additional 30 days while a political conference determined the question, and if it was unable to decide the issue, they would be freed. The agreement said that there would be "no force or threat of force" used against the prisoners on either side. A total of 14,200 Chinese Communists and 32,180 North Koreans in U.N. prison camps had indicated a desire not to repatriate. Only minor administrative matters stood in the way of a final and full armistice, which everyone believed would be reached soon.

News of the signing had come suddenly during the afternoon, the equivalent of midnight on Sunday Eastern time, and word of it had spread swiftly through the allied troops in the trenches and foxholes along the 155-mile front. The immediate reaction was to ask when they would go home, but the story indicates that they would not be leaving until peace was finally achieved, months, possibly years away. Americans among the fighting men greeted the news with glee, saying they had been waiting for some time to go home and it looked like they finally would, but expressed disappointment when told that it could be many months or even years away. A story presents quotes from several U.S. troops.

The President indicated that under the terms of the truce, South Korea and the U.N. allies were "required" to cease fighting and accept the present terms. But South Korean President Syngman Rhee, who previously had indicated that he would cooperate with the President, said to an Associated Press reporter that the Korean people would pay no attention to the armistice. His Cabinet and National Assembly crisis committee, meeting behind closed doors, had resolved to continue to fight and not recognize the truce under the present terms. A few hours earlier, President Rhee had said that he had not decided whether to accept offers of U.S. economic aid and a mutual security pact after the truce, communicated in a letter from President Eisenhower. He issued a statement to the people warning against any violence or unpleasant talk against U.N. personnel in Korea. He said that the U.N. proposal for the truce contained points that South Korea could not accept and that both the Government and the general public were united in their efforts to oppose it.

In the air war, the largest Communist air raid of the war took place over Seoul this night, as nine Communist planes dropped bombs on the South Korean capital, shaking President Rhee's mansion and injuring seven persons. Some of the bombs narrowly missed the Eighth Army press billets. The Fifth Air Force indicated that an airfield near Seoul also had been bombed. In other air action, U.S. Sabre jets, providing cover for Sabres acting as fighter-bombers attacking a Manchurian frontier dam, shot down three enemy MIG-15s, probably destroyed a fourth and damaged three others.

In the ground war, South Korean infantrymen who had been driven from "Luke's Castle" in furious fighting the previous week, renewed their assaults this date on the eastern front hill position, despite reports of an armistice being near. Elsewhere, ground action was light, with only ten minor contacts after midnight, six of which were Communist probes against allied forward and front-line positions.

Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson said to a televised Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing this date that the U.S. would continue to have the best Air Force in the world despite the controversy over cuts to the Air Force budget.

The Supreme Court this date unanimously, by a vote of 8 to 0, in District of Columbia v. Thompson Co., 346 U.S. 100, an opinion delivered by Justice William O. Douglas, upheld an 1873 D.C. criminal statute which required District restaurants to serve black patrons, provided they were "well behaved". The case was remanded to the D.C. Court of Appeals on the issue of whether the 1873 law had repealed a law enacted one year earlier, in 1872, requiring that all "respectable" persons be served without regard to race, that point being technical and having no real bearing on the ultimate ruling of the Court. Justice Robert Jackson took no part in the decision.

The Court also put off, until the following fall at the earliest, any decision in Brown v. Board of Education, subsumed under which were the five school desegregation cases, involving cases out of Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Unable to reach a decision on the matter, the Court called for re-argument a week after the start of the following term, on October 12. The cases had been argued initially on December 9, 10, and 11, 1952. The ruling would impact segregation in 13 other states which required completely or partially separate school systems, plus three other states which permitted segregation.

The Court held in another case, Dalehite v. U.S., 346 U.S. 15, that the United States was not liable to pay about 200 million dollars in damages claimed as a result of the 1947 Texas City, Tex., disaster, when a French ship being loaded with fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate caught fire and blew up, killing more than 500 persons and injuring about 3,000. Justice Stanley Reed delivered the 4 to 3 decision, with Justice Robert Jackson writing a dissent, joined by Justices Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter. Justices Douglas and Tom Clark took no part in the decision. About 300 suits by about 8,500 claimants had been filed against the United States following the disaster, claiming that the Government had been negligent in the manufacture and distribution of the chemical and failed to issue proper warnings of the dangers involved in handling it.

In New York, about 5,000 banner-waving dock workers marched through city streets this date protesting proposals for a State authority to direct operations of New York's crime-ridden waterfront. Governor Dewey had called a hearing regarding the State Crime Commission report on waterfront conditions. The placards carried by the marchers had read: "This Is Not Russia, Mr. Dewey. We Oppose State Control of Any Labor Union." The Governor had invited some 21 government, business, labor and civic leaders to make recommendations on how to clean up the waterfront rackets.

In Rome, balloting in Italy's general elections ended this date without major disorders, with most areas reporting a large turnout, expected to favor Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi's center coalition. The election was to choose between the four middle-of-the-road De Gasperi coalition parties, Communism and Nationalism.

In Vence, France, Sir Alexander Korda, 59, British film magnate, married a Canadian woman, 25, after announcing their engagement five days earlier, having said then that they would be married in two or three months in Canada. It was Mr. Korda's third marriage, his second wife having been actress Merle Oberon.

In Kansas City, a red and white 15-foot war bonnet was presented the previous night to former President Truman to signify that he was now an honorary Indian chief in the Oklahoma Junior Chamber of Commerce tribe.

In Hollywood, a 28.5 hour marathon telecast, featuring many top Hollywood entertainers, had collected more than $483,000 in pledged cash for cerebral palsy, presented by ABC local affiliate KECA.

In Los Angeles, a streetcar with a dead man at the controls carried terrified passengers a block the previous day after a violent collision with a heavy truck, the impact having killed the conductor-motorman, enabling the car to continue until his foot had finally fallen from the control pedal, automatically braking the car. The truck driver was booked on suspicion of manslaughter. Nine passengers in the car had been injured, none seriously.

In Montreat, N.C., the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church this date assured the President of its prayers for his Administration, one of the few times that the church had ever officially extended good wishes to a President at the beginning of his term. The President had joined the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, a member of the Northern Presbyterian Church, shortly after his inauguration. The Assembly rejected a suggestion that it set a minimum annual salary of $3,000 for each full-time minister. It approved a resolution recommending that Presbyteries urge churches to pay minimum salaries set by Presbyteries. Dr. James Jones of Charlotte, who had recently visited missions in the Belgian Congo, said that Africa was in the midst of "an emerging nationalism which is really racial more than political." He said that missionaries through education could help direct the nationalism toward freedom.

On the editorial page, "Taft Catches Up with Events" indicates agreement with Senator Taft in his recently stated support for a Far East mutual defense organization similar to NATO in Western Europe. The concept was not new and had been considered for several years.

It finds it interesting that in the Senator's 1951 book, A Foreign Policy for Americans, he had explained his opposition to NATO on the basis that it was contrary to the theory of the U.N. Charter because he felt it would develop aggressive features more likely to incite Russia to war than to deter it, and that he opposed a commitment of U.S. troops to fight a land war in Europe, except to a limited degree, essential to U.S. security. It remarks that, as with so many things the Senator had said, events had proved him wrong about NATO, and now he had changed his position.

It suggests that the main problem in forming such a Far Eastern alliance would be finding agreement among the Pacific allies on the territory to be defended, which would obviously include Japan, Formosa, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand. But whether the alliance ought also include South Korea, with a guarantee of armed assistance in the event of further aggression, and French Indo-China, Burma and Malaya, plus the islands between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, would be the subject of debate. The Senator believed in an alliance with the British in Far Eastern affairs, but a large part of the Republican Party was at odds with British views on Far Eastern policy, and so it was questionable whether such an alliance was practicable.

It indicates that a Pacific pact would not only not weaken the U.N. but would strengthen it by allowing combined military power to be brought to bear in the region without being subject to U.N. Security Council veto, a chance to operate when U.N. action was blocked by the Communists. It suggests that it was a project on which Republicans and Democrats could agree regarding an area of the world on which they often disagreed, and that the support of Senator Taft ought prove instrumental in bringing such a pact into reality.

As previously indicated, SEATO would come into existence in 1954.

"A Slap in the Face for Eisenhower" indicates that the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, after having been asked by the White House to withdraw their opposition to the desired six-month extension of the excess profits tax, or at least to remain neutral on the subject, had both declined to go along with the Administration and had made plans to send officials before the House Ways & Means Committee to argue for letting the tax expire on schedule at the end of June.

The President had made his request that Congress issue no tax cuts in 1953 a test of his new Administration's influence, and in the recent television show in which he appeared with four members of his Cabinet, he had explained convincingly that balancing of the Federal budget ought take precedence over tax cuts.

The piece agrees with the President and indicates that there were some businessmen who also agreed, such as the Committee for Economic Development, composed of representatives of some of the largest businesses in the country, which had recently issued a statement indicating that though it did not like the excess profits tax, it was convinced that balancing the budget ought be a first priority, and thus was supportive of the President's position.

It concludes that the Republican members of Congress, who for the previous 20 years had spoken out against deficit financing, would be more convincing if they also would back the President.

"At Long Last, a Civic Auditorium" indicates that though the turnout for the bond election the prior Saturday had been distressingly small, the 3 to 1 majority for the auditorium-coliseum bond issue for an additional one million dollars to complete the project, the cost of which had risen since its inception because of Korean War inflation, had been convincing evidence that the people of the community understood the city's needs and had confidence in its future. The total bond issue, including the three million dollars from the first approved bond, was a lot of money, which could be used to build many streets, schools, miles of water and sewer lines and provide other services.

The present bond fell under recreation, and the people of the city understood that public recreation was of vital importance in a crowded metropolis and had shown their willingness to tax themselves to provide it. It was happy that the coliseum would be included in the building program, and even happier that the modern auditorium, to supplant the poor acoustics and hard seats of the existing 24-year old Armory-Auditorium, would finally come into being.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Democracy and Efficiency", indicates that Guilford County's State Senator O. Arthur Kirkman had told the Greensboro Kiwanis Club recently what had ailed the 1953 General Assembly, that there were too many responsible leaders in it who obviously did not believe in the processes of democracy, based on the Legislature's failure to comply with the State Constitution's mandate to reapportion its membership and its passage of a secrecy law regarding appropriations committee hearings, enabling them to meet in executive session to consider budgetary matters, formerly required to be heard only in public session.

The piece agrees with the statement, finding that it was not only the press which had been barred from the budgetary sessions but also the public and its right to be informed. It regards the Assembly as having demonstrated "extreme arrogance" in shutting its doors to taxpayers and citizens who had every right to know how their legislators were handling their business.

Drew Pearson indicates that things had become confused in House hearings regarding the proposed extension of the excess profits tax until the end of the year, as favored by the Administration. Assistant Budget director Roland Hughes, who had once lobbied against the tax, testified in favor of it. Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana recalled that Mr. Hughes, formally of National City Bank in New York, had crusaded against the tax in 1950. When asked what had caused him to change his mind, he said that he still thought it was a bad tax but that now there was a budget situation involved which was not present in 1950 and thus he believed the tax should be extended, even though he disapproved of it personally. Mr. Boggs indicated that the budget had been out of balance also in 1950 and suggested that the change of position was only because Mr. Hughes was out of government earlier and was now a part of the Government.

Mr. Pearson indicates that the reason the Communists had been haggling so long about voluntary repatriation of prisoners was linked indirectly with the same reason why the Administration was reasonably confident that there would be no general war in Europe for some time, allowing for the risk of a reduction in armament. The Communists wanted all prisoners back in their homelands as an example to potential deserters inside the Russian Army. Most of the Chinese and Korean prisoners in the U.N. prison camps were deserters, having gone over to the U.N. side in droves, and the Communists wanted them back for punishment, probably to be shot, as Moscow's biggest worry was desertions from the Red Army. Three million Russian soldiers had deserted to the Nazis in 1940, enabling the Wehrmacht to race across Russia to Stalingrad, and indications were that unrest was stirring Red Army troops presently. The second reason for the Administration believing it could relax the arms buildup was that there were reports that Premier Georgi Malenkov was more or less on trial, being watched by other members of the Kremlin, and that he lacked control of the secret police and the Communist Party. With Russia going through such political uncertainty, Moscow would not risk war.

AFL President George Meany and CIO head Walter Reuther had met the previous week to discuss labor unity and both agreed that labor should keep its political powder dry for the time being to give the new Administration plenty of opportunity to make its record so that people could judge it for themselves. Mr. Meany found that the record so far was against the working man, that the Labor Department had been reduced to 6,000 employees and there were efforts to reduce it even further, whereas there were between 50,000 and 55,000 employees in the Commerce, Agriculture and other departments. Mr. Reuther was also distressed about the failure of the Administration to give labor spokesmen policy-making posts in the Mutual Security Agency, responsible for foreign aid. Harold Stassen, its director, had neither affirmed nor denied an agreement to appoint labor representatives to such positions, but most labor representatives had thus far been appointed to positions only as clerks in the Agency. He asserted that if the Administration wanted the MSA program to succeed, it had to stop kicking labor in the teeth.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop discuss the hydrogen bomb in terms of the newly announced Atomic Energy Commission development of the breeder reactor, capable of breeding increasing quantities of fissionable material exhausted in each experiment, taking the non-fissionable isotope of uranium, U-238, which became fissionable plutonium, and transferring the loss in the process of U-235 into usable fuel for the breeder reactors.

The major objection by the military and scientists to the hydrogen bomb had not been its horribly destructive character but rather its wastefulness of fissionable material. Great quantities of plutonium had to be sacrificed to make tritium, the heavy isotope of hydrogen which was the base element of the hydrogen bomb. Using the same amount of plutonium to make conventional atomic bombs would produce about ten times the explosive power of an hydrogen bomb. Such sacrifice, with fissionable raw material scarce and precious, seemed imprudent to many scientists. But with the breeder reactor successfully tested, that sacrifice was no longer so significant.

But the shortage of fissionable raw material was known to be the chief handicap for the Soviet atomic program, and it was likely that with the development in the U.S. of the breeder reactor, the Russians would not be far behind in the same development, enabling them to solve their shortage of fissionable material. And it had already been stated by the Joint Chiefs' estimate, according to General Hoyt Vandenberg, retiring Air Force chief of staff, that the Soviets would have the capability in less than a year to wage an all-out atomic attack on the U.S.

Marquis Childs discusses the problem of the relationship between England and the U.S., the recent flap over British ships transporting strategic goods and troops to Communist China having brought recrimination and misunderstanding. The Senate resolution to withdraw U.S. support from the U.N. should it admit Communist China had appeared to Western Europe "a blackjack held up menacingly". The fact that the resolution had been tempered by substituting language indicating only unqualified opposition by the Senate to the admission of Communist China was not considered so ominous by the allies and was not finally binding on the President.

To such influential persons as Senator William Knowland of California and Joint Chiefs chairman-designate Admiral Arthur Radford, it appeared to be incurable naïveté that Communist China over a period of years might be wooed away from Moscow, the Knowland-Radford approach being to meet Communist China head-on with force and win the Korean War, not just conclude it with a truce. There was, however, less talk about utilizing Chiang Kai-shek's forces to attack the mainland of China, as his army was estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000 by Admiral Radford, with an average age of 28, considered old for combat. But those troops might be useful elsewhere in the event of a general war.

Early on in the Administration, the President had removed the blockade from Formosa, to permit Chiang's forces to raid the Chinese mainland and thus compel the Communist Chinese to maintain larger forces opposite Formosa, withdrawing some of their available troops from Korea. But military experts believed the results had been inconsequential and, increasingly, discussion had turned to what to do about Formosa and Chiang.

Negotiations regarding a settlement for Korea following a truce were certain to be prolonged.

History suggested a parallel with 1918, when Winston Churchill believed in overthrowing the Russian Bolshevik regime, as there was widespread hostility toward the regime at the time in Russia, and rumors abounded that the British, with the help of Western Europe, would come to the rescue. A British Expeditionary Force of a few thousand was landed at Archangel on the Baltic, and the foolish gesture caused widespread disillusion, helping to bring at least passive acceptance of the Communist regime. An expeditionary force of 100,000 well-trained and well-equipped troops might have changed the course of history.

Even those Americans who urged aggressive action against Communist China were not prepared to send substantial numbers of U.S. troops against the mainland, and instead recommended a naval blockade, bombing of Manchuria, and perhaps later bombing of Chinese ports. That might produce a repeat of the Archangel expedition by the British, but mounting a truly effective force would mean turning back the entire Eisenhower program of economy and curtailment of the military budget.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that he still felt like he was 15 years old and that everybody else was just getting older, as adjudged by the news of Shirley Temple having a child, the child star of "South Pacific" presently playing a wife in "The King and I", and Marlene Dietrich and Gloria Swanson both having plentiful grandchildren. He still feels the same way he did when his mother dropped him off to begin his college education in Chapel Hill.

"So far's I'm concerned, I'm just pushing sweet 16, and the first lucky girl to come along can kiss me."

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