The Charlotte News

Monday, September 7, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Americans freed on the previous day, the last day of the prisoner of war exchange program at Panmunjom in Korea, had boarded a troop ship for home this date. The U.N. Command prepared to provide the Communists, however, with a list of missing allied prisoners who were known to have been in captivity but had not been among those released. Allied intelligence officers had compiled a list of those men. The prisoner exchange program had resulted in 3,597 Americans being freed and 149 had been returned in April as a part of the exchange of the wounded and disabled prisoners. Some Americans had died during their captivity. But accounting for all of those, there were still men missing who were known to have been captured.

Among the last to be released were several airmen who had "confessed" to use of germ warfare, after undergoing relentless physical and mental torture. Some of them had held out for months but eventually had succumbed to the routine. One pilot who had been captured 13 months earlier said that the Communists had still been seeking such confessions as late as early the previous day, just hours before the last of the prisoners had been released.

A released Marine colonel and a young Air Force lieutenant told reporters this date that there was only one way out of such a confession to germ warfare and that was either to die from the mental treatment or serve their country better by providing the Communists with the "fantastic information they wanted". Both had been freed in the last hours of the exchange the previous day and had initially declined to talk to newsmen, but agreed to do so this date after a day of rest. When asked whether there was any substance to the charges, they indicated that they were completely fantastic, with the colonel indicating that there were enough fleas, flies and mosquitoes in North Korea without their having to add to them. He had been captured in July, 1952, and on February 22, 1953, Peiping radio had broadcast his long "confession". He said that the Communists had never asked him to swear that his words were true, that truth meant nothing to them, as they only wanted the words subscribed on paper. He said that he had been placed in solitary in a tiny lean-to, and that he was made to sit there and sleep there on a small table without moving or exercise of any kind. Every day, an interpreter had come to seek his confession, and when he refused, the interpreter left. The routine continued through September and into October, when it became somewhat cooler, and into November when it became cold. The Communists gave him padded clothing which helped, but sitting in one position slowly caused him to freeze, and when he suffered frostbite to his fingers, he began considering that his captors were going to leave him to die from exposure. He was informed by a Chinese colonel that he would never leave the valley, not even after the peace was signed, unless he confessed. He knew they would not actually kill him, because they knew that the weather would eventually do so. At that point, he made up his mind to sign a confession, making it sound realistic by providing dates and places, while whoever heard it with discernment would understand how ridiculous it was. He said that he hoped and prayed that he had made it sound ridiculous. While writing out his confession and having to rewrite it several times for his captors' satisfaction, his fingers became so cold that they froze, and the ink froze in the pen, causing him to have to sit on it to thaw it out. The story is continued on an inside page.

Because of the Labor Day holiday, the garden page of The News, normally appearing weekly on Mondays, was not being printed this date.

In Bonn, West Germany, following the landslide victory for Chancellor Adenauer and his Christian Democrat moderate, pro-Western Government, it began a new four-year term of office. About 28.5 of the 33 million eligible German voters had gone to the polls in what was deemed the most important election in Western Europe since the end of the war. The results ousted from the Bundestag, the lower house of the parliament, all of the Communist members and inflicted a crushing defeat to a feared Nazi comeback, as well rejecting Socialist pleas for German neutrality in the East-West struggle. The Christian Democrats won 244 seats, compared with 141 in 1949, receiving 12.5 million votes, compared to 7.3 million in 1949, while the Socialists won 150 seats with 7.9 million votes, compared to winning 135 seats with 6.9 million votes in 1949. The Communists received only 607,000 votes, compared with 1.3 million in 1949, and won no seats this time. The 86.2 percent participation rate in the election compared with 78.5 percent in 1949. Despite Communist plots which had been uncovered the prior week to disrupt the election through exporting East German toughs across the border with the intent of attacking polling places on election day, there was no violence reported. West German police had arrested 7,500 Communist thugs who had been sent over the border for the purpose of disruption. A civilian army of four million had been mobilized to help guard the polls.

The President was expected to send a message of congratulations to Chancellor Adenauer, reflecting his satisfaction with the prior Government. The extent of the Chancellor's victory came as a surprise to many key officials in Washington, who had nervously awaited the returns the previous night, wondering whether Secretary of State Dulles's endorsement the prior Thursday of Chancellor Adenauer might have a boomerang effect for being perceived as meddling in West German internal politics. They now believed that the expression of support might have helped him. They said that the overwhelming victory would help to stimulate the faltering drive toward Western European unity.

Secretary Dulles would confer with the President this date in Denver, stating that he was not aware of any rift with the President regarding several foreign policy problems. The question had been prompted by a published report that the President had summoned the Secretary to Denver because he was "gravely concerned" and "displeased" by certain statements by the Secretary the previous week anent foreign policy. But on Saturday, the White House assistant press secretary, Murray Snyder, had released a statement saying that the report was "completely untrue", that he did not know personally, however, what the President's reactions had been to remarks by the Secretary regarding West Germany, India, Trieste and Japan, which had triggered angry response abroad. In West Germany, the Socialist Party had denounced the Secretary's endorsement of Chancellor Adenauer's bid for re-election in the parliamentary elections of the previous day. After landing in Denver, the Secretary indicated that he was not surprised at the landslide victory of Chancellor Adenauer. He said that the main topic of discussion with the President would be developments in Indo-China and other Far East areas. The two had not met since August 10, when the Secretary stopped in Denver on his way to Korea and Japan.

At the U.N. in New York, many diplomats believed that Russia would make a dramatic attempt at the upcoming General Assembly meeting to seize the initiative on the problem of disarmament and atomic control, expecting new Soviet proposals dealing with conventional arms and atomic weaponry, including the hydrogen bomb. Disarmament and atomic control were both on the agenda of the Assembly, which would begin a three-month session on September 15. Since the last Assembly meeting, two key developments had occurred, the Armistice in Korea and the Soviet announcement of detonation of an hydrogen bomb, confirmed by the Atomic Energy Commission as having taken place on August 12. Several diplomats believed that the timing of the detonation had been planned to take advantage of the Assembly meeting as a venue for new proposals. Various proposals had been considered for both disarmament and atomic control since the U.N. had first gone into operation in 1946, but always coming up against the roadblock of lack of agreement on international inspection to ensure compliance.

Dave Beck, of the AFL Teamsters Union, and John L. Lewis, of the United Mine Workers, gave speeches this date pleading for unity in the organized labor movement. The President issued a statement from Denver saying that American workmen "mock the false insinuation that economic well-being can be purchased only at the cost of political freedom." Former President Truman was scheduled to make a speech in Detroit, his first devoted primarily to domestic issues since departing the White House in January. AFL president George Meany said on a CBS television program the previous day that the labor movement had gone backwards in America since Labor Day a year earlier and that the 83rd Congress had failed to do the things which were vital to the welfare of the American people. James Carey, secretary-treasurer of the CIO, stated on an NBC radio program that the new Republican regime had brought benefits only to big business, which had "reaped a multimillion-dollar windfall". Undersecretary of Labor Lloyd Mashburn said, in a speech at the California State Fair in Sacramento, that despite a few troubled industries, the overall economic picture was bright.

In Chicago, 14 persons, including seven children, had died this date in a flash fire in an old, four-story building in a congested section of the South Side. No cause of the fire had yet been determined.

In New England, four drownings and numerous boating accidents were attributed to Hurricane Carol, which skirted 50 miles east of Nantucket this date and headed out to sea toward the Bay of Fundy, after churning the coast of New Jersey and Long Island with heavy seas. It was now expected only to provide gusty winds this date to most of New England. The boating accidents had been caused primarily by dense fog and heavy seas attributed to the hurricane. A fishing vessel had wrecked when it ran aground in fog off Gloucester Harbor.

At McChord Air Force Base in the State of Washington, a Northwest Airlines Constellation crash-landed and burned early the previous morning, with all 32 persons aboard having survived, though 29 had been injured or burned, including three infants among the 26 passengers. Only nine of the injured remained in hospitals this date and physicians indicated that none were in serious condition. The plane had made its attempted landing with only one wheel down and two engines dead after it had burst into flames, with one engine failing shortly after takeoff from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the wee hours of the morning, prompting the pilot to divert the flight to Portland rather than continue to its intended non-stop destination in Chicago, but was forced to land ahead of Portland when the second engine went out. Despite the problems, he had managed to land the plane at the Air Force Base.

In Charlotte, the manager of the Central Avenue Sherwin-Williams store, 49, died from injuries suffered when he fell from a tree at his home.

On the editorial page, "A Story That Needs Telling" indicates that many stories of brutality had come from Korea but that few, if any, equaled those which had come over the weekend from U.S. airmen, describing physical and mental torture transacted over a period of many months to extract confessions of guilt regarding dropping of germ warfare bombs. Some of the airmen who had undergone the ordeal were not in a condition yet to talk about it and others might still be held by the Communists, among those who had indicated that they did not wish to repatriate.

Typically, the object of the interrogation was separated from the other airmen and asked many questions of a non-military, innocuous nature, designed to put him in a cooperative frame of mind, followed by tougher questions dealing with security matters. When the person being subjected to the interrogation balked, he was made to stand in a brace for hours or to sit for hours in an unheated room while his limbs froze, after which the interrogators continued. In at least one case, Communist doctors stood by as maggots crawled over the untreated ear wound of one of those subjected to the interrogation. Some attempted suicide while others broke down and said that they did that of which they were accused, even though knowing they had not. Yet, some were so confused that they did not know anymore. The Communists would use the written and recorded confessions around the world for propaganda purposes.

Some of those who had been victimized by this technique now hated themselves for what they had done and knew it might be hard for their friends and neighbors to understand what had occurred to their minds and bodies during captivity. It stresses that the story of Communist torture had to be fully reported and told in its entirety to enable understanding of the nature of the enemy by the American people, the U.N. allies and the citizens of Communist countries.

"The Right To Know Needs Re-Emphasis" indicates that on three recent occasions, the Administration had unsuccessfully withheld information which the people had a right to know. The Army had classified its order permitting the sale of liquor to officers and non-commissioned officers on military posts. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had given orders that no publicity attend the Air Force 1,000-plane cutback. The Department of Agriculture had inserted a clause, stating non-discrimination in employment, in lending agency contracts which required subscription by banks loaning money to farmers under the Federal price support program, but had made no mention of the clause in its explanation of important changes in Government contracts.

In all three cases, news of the matters surfaced under circumstances unfavorable to the new Administration. In the case of the Army sale of liquor, church and temperance groups, opposing the policy, were doubly upset by the secrecy surrounding it. A Washington Post reporter had obtained the story on the airplane cutback and its suppression. The fact that the non-discrimination clause had been included in the contracts without prior notification suggested "naivete or deviousness" on the part of some officials, hardly calculated to increase confidence in the Administration.

It finds no sinister purpose behind the attempts to suppress the information, but rather that they were the products of "obtuse, bureaucratic minds". It is disappointed because it had hoped that the new Administration would not so quickly succumb to those practices, against which the Republicans had railed during the 1952 campaign.

"Best Wishes" expresses good wishes to a labor newspaper and a labor-sponsored radio program which began this date in Charlotte, the Charlotte Labor Journal, resuming publication after an absence of several years, and a CIO-sponsored national radio program, carried locally on WAYS, moderated by John W. Vandercook, a well-known newscaster. It would look into the program and the publication, it says, for thoughtful comment on labor in the year ahead.

"The Growing Number of Commissions" indicates that when the President had appointed members of the 18-person National Agricultural Advisory Commission the previous week, it had discovered that the commission was a form growing presently within the Federal Government. Attorney General Herbert Brownell had established an antitrust commission, comprised of about 50 lawyers. A commission had been established to study the relationship between state and Federal authority. A commission headed by Vice-President Nixon had been formed to study fair employment practices. Another commission had been formed to study foreign economic policy.

It goes on listing a few other such commissions and concludes that constructive policy and legislation could result from commission studies, but cautions that commissions might lose some of their stature and prestige in the second session of the 83rd Congress, as most of the commission studies which would come to fruition at that time dealt with politically controversial matters, which during an election year, meant that many members of Congress would hate to commit themselves on issues on which the commissions were making recommendations, such as tariffs, taxes, FEPC and universal military training. It thus finds that action on recommendations of most of the commissions would be one of the biggest headaches the following year for the Administration, and it hopes that some of the "best minds", supposedly comprising the various commissions, were working on that prospect.

"All about Hurricanes" indicates that Admiral Francis Beaufort, for whom the Beaufort scale used in measuring wind velocity had been named, had described a hurricane as "that which no canvas could withstand". Since his time, it had been determined that hurricanes were unpredictable and often would become violent, that they characteristically moved slowly and relentlessly toward their victims, who often realized the hurricane's potential for destruction of life and property only too late. Hurricanes usually remained at sea but often hit beach resorts, selecting victims with caprice. It concludes therefore that there was good reason to label hurricanes with the names of women.

A piece from the Atlanta Constitution, titled "Free Marriage Licenses Okay", indicates that an auditor's report in a Louisiana parish had revealed that a court clerk, who had retired, had given away marriage licenses, and freely admitted same, saying that he had given away the licenses for free to couples who had no money, believing that the three-dollar license fee would not hurt the wealthy parish. But the State auditor had begged to differ.

The piece finds that the lenient clerk might have done wrong, but had romance on his side, and the free marriage license had the advantage of granting free passage to matrimony, only fitting as a man found so many places to distribute his money afterward.

Joseph C. Harsch, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, indicates that it had been reported, although not confirmed officially, that the new team of American foreign policy managers, Secretary of State Dulles and U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., contemplated the possibility that the Korean peace conference would lead to the admission of Communist China to the U.N. That would buck the trend of the Republican Party foreign policy thinking since the fall of Nationalist China to the Communists on the mainland in 1949. One of the reasons for the selection of Admiral Arthur Radford as chairman of the new Joint Chiefs was that he subscribed personally to the Republican view, that there could be no peace established with Communist China as it was incompatible with the security interests of the U.S.

The Far East policy of Secretary Dulles, however, pointed to a relaxation of this strict position. Shortly after the inauguration the prior January, there were reports of a decision to widen the scope of the war against China, proving completely false, with the new Administration embarking instead on a policy of disengagement of U.S. forces from Asia, with the Korean truce being the first decisive step in furtherance of that policy. There could be no consummation of that policy without a full settlement with Communist China, and there could be no settlement without admission of Communist China to the U.N. Furthermore, Ambassador Lodge had stated at the U.N., at the height of the debate over the composition of the Korean peace conference, that the U.S. purpose in the conference was to bring home the half-million American soldiers still presently stationed in South Korea, pointing in logic to a long-term purpose of settling with Communist China, as a withdrawal of all American troops from Korea could not occur without such settlement and consequent withdrawal of Chinese troops. Mr. Harsch finds it therefore probable that both men were contemplating the possibility of recognition of Communist China and providing it a seat at the U.N. as potential results of the Korean peace conference.

Secretary Dulles had a policy of "liberation" for Russia's European satellites, and at the time of the Berlin riots the prior mid-June, had a choice of two approaches toward Russia in Europe, regarding its difficulties in Germany and other satellites as an opportunity for attempting to push Russia back to its own frontiers, or to treat its difficulties as an occasion for offer of sympathetic assistance by offering mutual withdrawal of both Russia and the U.S. from Central Europe. Advisers to Secretary Dulles were divided equally about the two courses of action, but resumption of the U.S. food giveaway in West Berlin to East Germans would indicate that the liberation policy had won out over the sympathetic policy. If that reading was correct, it was logical to conclude that the Secretary was pursuing a policy of maximum toughness toward Russia in Europe and maximum readiness for some form of rapprochement with Communist China in Asia. Mr. Harsch finds it interesting because at present, China appeared more aggressive than Russia, and the policies were at variance with the British Foreign Office, which all summer had departed from its view that China could be weaned from Russia, now believing that more could be gained by trying to wean Russia from China. He finds it ironic if British policy had become anti-Chinese while American policy had veered toward China, but such appeared to be the present inclination.

Drew Pearson indicates that it was the first Labor Day in 20 years on which labor was on the outside looking in, after enjoying a situation where top labor leaders were consulted at the White House and basic Government policy was aimed at being a people's Administration. Now, labor saw President Eisenhower promulgate policies which favored businessmen who had backed him, rather than the labor leaders who had bucked him. Despite the appointment of Martin Durkin, former head of the plumbers union, as Secretary of Labor, organized labor recognized that it was a long way from having any voice in the new Administration. One top labor leader had remarked that Secretary Durkin said that he had been consulted on all labor problems, but added that it made little difference when Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey increased interest rates on mortgages which every working man had to pay, when Mr. Humphrey also was proposing a national sales tax which would increase the cost of living for every working man, and when the Administration proposed cutting cheap Government electric power, increasing the electric bill for every working man. The labor leader regarded their situation as the same as during the Hoover Administration, which also had a labor person in the Cabinet, William Doak, but had some of the most reactionary policies in history, leading to one of the worst depressions in history.

Mr. Pearson indicates that the latter viewpoint had caused two significant and important moves in labor circles, first, a push to unite the AFL and CIO, and, second, a much greater effort to push policies which would help lower bracket groups generally, regardless of whether they belonged to a union, including Social Security, health benefits, lower taxes for the lower brackets, and public power as against private power. The AFL maintained a person in Washington, whose job was to watch Congress regarding health legislation, not only for labor but for the public generally, and he had been central in helping to get Congress to increase appropriations for cancer, heart, cerebral palsy and other forms of medical research, after Oveta Culp Hobby, the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the newly created Cabinet-level Department, had cut the research money in half. The AFL also maintained an expert in Washington whose job was to watch over other legislative matters, such as taxes, public power, gas and utility rates, also impacting lower bracket taxpayers. Both the AFL and CIO had their own network radio programs for the first time in history and the AFL sponsored Frank Edwards, a fair-minded, liberal commentator, while the CIO was starting a network program with John Vandercook. Some labor leaders were discussing the possibility of establishing a daily newspaper with a national circulation.

He goes on to discuss in detail the push to unite AFL and CIO, emblematic of which had been the quiet cooperation demonstrated between Walter Reuther, head of the CIO, and George Meany, head of AFL, at the recent international labor meeting in Stockholm, succeeding in overruling the British, obtaining admission of Israel to the executive board of the ICFTU, and the election of the Belgian representative as president of the organization. Both Mr. Reuther and Mr. Meany addressed the Stockholm meeting regarding East Germany, and sent a telegram to the President, urging that he take a strong stand in support of East German workers. The President had wired a response that he considered it significant that it was the workers who formed the backbone of revolt against Communism. Labor leaders pointed to the President's laudatory statement, in contrast to that of Attorney General Herbert Brownell, who had said that there were more Communists inside labor unions than in any other group.

Mr. Pearson provides some of the history of Labor Day, that it was first proposed by Peter Maguire, president of the Carpenters and Joiners Union in 1882, that by 1894, Congress had declared it a legal national holiday, eventually adopted by all 48 states to be celebrated on the first Monday in September. Approximately 17.5 million workers belonged presently to both the AFL and the CIO plus independent unions, the greatest number of organized workers in history.

Marquis Childs indicates that after a rash of jokes about the Eisenhower Cabinet consisting of a plumber and eight millionaires, Secretary of Labor Martin Durkin, the former head of the plumbers union, had scarcely been heard from since the start of the Administration the prior January. Yet, he had been busy behind the scenes, advising on changes to the Taft-Hartley law. As Senator Taft had lay dying in a New York hospital in late July, the approach of the Administration to the changes was being developed, with it having been announced on the date of Senator Taft's death that the White House was calling for drastic revision of the labor law. Secretary Durkin believed the proposed changes would have taken Taft-Hartley out of the political arena in ways which the AFL and CIO would have approved.

Mr. Childs indicates that it might have been the fact of the timing of the policy change, coincident with the death of Senator Taft, or it might have been the result of the premature leak of the document, but a flood of protests had resulted from the announcement of the proposed changes, from the National Association of Manufacturers and other conservative business organizations strongly opposed to liberalization of Taft-Hartley. The reaction caused the White House to send out a form letter explaining that the memorandum had not set forth the White House position but rather had been only a summation of Secretary Durkin's views. Since that time, the Secretary had said nothing publicly, but was known to be pressing the White House for an agreement on a proposal regarding Taft-Hartley. He had been pointing out that the AFL convention would start on September 21 and the CIO convention, on November 16, and that it was traditional for the Secretary of Labor to make important policy speeches to both conventions. The Secretary would have to confine his remarks to expressions of goodwill if no agreement on Taft-Hartley were reached by the time of the conventions.

But it was unlikely that the White House would reach any agreement prior to January when Congress would return for the new session. If, in the meantime, Secretary Durkin was unhappy with the prolonged delay, he did not show it, but "even the patience of a patient and forbearing man has its limits."

James Marlow contrasts on Labor Day the Soviet and U.S. labor systems. He indicates that 19 years earlier, Joseph Stalin had said, "Equalization in the sphere of demands and personal life is reactionary, petty bourgeois nonsense, worthy of a primitive and ascetic sect and not of a socialist society organized in a Marxian way." It was a way of saying that Soviet society, supposed to be classless because everyone was equal, would actually have many classes, or, as George Orwell had said in Animal Farm, everyone would be equal but some more equal than others.

In Soviet society, not everyone received the same pay or was able to live in the same kind of house or afford the same kind of food or clothes. While a physicist working on the atomic bomb or an artist or movie director might have a house in the country and perhaps a car and servants, a factory worker had to squeeze into one room with his wife and two children.

This Labor Day's speeches, emphasizing the importance of economic progress of American workers, sometimes without mentioning it, emphasized also the difference between the positions of American workers and Soviet workers, and the roles of unions in each society. In the U.S., a worker could quit his job and look for another, or stall on his job until the boss found out and fired him, then go job-hunting elsewhere. Two years earlier, Vladimir Gsovski, chief of the foreign law section of the Library of Congress, published a report on the condition of Russian workers, indicating that inefficiency on the job in Russia meant not only potential loss of the job but also prosecution in the courts. Workers were subject to penalties imposed by managers for loafing and to penalties imposed in the courts for absenteeism and unauthorized quitting of a job. Whereas in the U.S., a union could bargain freely with an owner for the highest wage a plant would pay and then strike to obtain the demands, in Russia, a strike was unthinkable because all plant managers were employees of the Government, as were the workers, and everything belonged to the people, thus causing a strike by a worker not only to be against the Government but also against his own property. A strike, therefore, was considered sabotage and thus prosecutable, with drastic penalties in the offing for the convicted offender. The unions in Russia were merely tools to keep the workers quiet, convincing them that the wage rates fixed by the Government were all that could be obtained and also all they should expect.

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