December 27, 2022

1943. Foreign Correspondents Visit Kharkiv

The Destruction of Kharkiv
Civilians in Kharkiv, Ukraine during the German occupation in May 1943 (source)
Bill Downs was part of a group of American and British foreign correspondents that visited the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv shortly after it had been retaken temporarily by the Soviets in February 1943. The accounts featured in this Newsweek article were expanded upon in longer reports Downs did for CBS in February and March of that year. After the Germans retook Kharkiv in March, he wrote:
"[T]here is no better demonstration of just what Hitlerism stands for in this world than Kharkov. Usually, discussions about 'truth' have a nebulous quality that almost always end up in confused arguments about what is right and what is wrong. I don't want to preach any sermons. There is nothing nebulous about 'truth' in Kharkov today. The people who told the truth to us American and British reporters now stand under the thread of execution. Truth in that Ukrainian city today is a matter of life and death."

From Newsweek, March 8, 1943, pp. 22-23:

Kharkov's Story

Bill Downs, Newsweek's Moscow correspondent, sent the following cable on his return from a visit to Kharkov just eight days after the recapture of the city by the Red Army.

Fifteen months' occupation of Kharkov—what Hitler calls "Aryan Colonization"—has all but killed the Soviet capital of the Ukraine. Kharkov today looks like a city which has undergone earthquake, the Black Plague, and the Chicago Fire all at once. But the city's wounds are not so much on the surface as at its foundations—they are spiritual rather than material.

It is in the faces of the people of Kharkov that you read the city's real tragedy. They had been hungry for so long that they had got used to it. Their faces were dough white or pastry yellow. The children had deep circles under their eyes. Everybody's clothing needed washing, patching, and replacing.

These people who were lucky enough to survive lived for fifteen months on a maximum of 300 grams (10½ ounces) of bread a day—supplemented with what the family furniture and clothing would bring in the way of food through secret barter with the farmers in the surrounding district.

There are few young men anywhere in the Kharkov district today. Those caught in the city when the Germans marched in were either sent to Germany or were shot or hanged or escaped to unoccupied Russia. Even boys of 12 and 14 have the look of men about them. There are many women, some of them young. But one schoolteacher told me: "Most of our beautiful Ukrainian girls are gone now." The Germans also shipped beauty back to Germany as a Ukrainian commodity.

When the Germans entered the city a year ago last October, they immediately began hanging men. For a distance of 2 miles down Sumskaya Street, from the government center to the business center, Russians were hanged from every balcony. Thereafter, hangings were frequent, disappearances common, and beatings occurred every day.

The prewar population of the city was 900,000 which was swelled to 1,300,000 by refugees shortly before the occupation. The Soviets evacuated 250,000 before the occupation. The population today is estimated at 350,000. A number of people escaped to the unoccupied zone, but what happened to the rest no one will ever know. The Germans didn't bother to issue death decrees or keep records of their executions.

The Nazis organized their "colonization" schemes carefully. First, they used the extensive records of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement they had prepared in Berlin. Then they sent Nationalist leaders whom they found sympathetic into the Western Ukraine. They appointed Professor Alexeyev Kramerenko, an instructor of chemistry at the famous Kharkov university, as the town's first burgomaster. Kramerenko was an ardent Ukrainian Nationalist. The town was divided into six districts, and Kramerenko's friends were appointed district heads.

At the same time German "colonists"—businessmen, shopkeepers, carpetbaggers, and just plain adventurers—began to drift into town. The best buildings, shops, and houses were turned over to these colonists. The original Russian occupants were given worthless receipts or were told plainly to get out—or were hanged. Although the exact circumstances are unclear, Kramerenko finally realized he had been duped, and the Germans were forced to shoot him.

Meanwhile, the Germans succeeded in reestablishing part of Kharkov's factories but only for the repair of army equipment. While the population starved, parties of German soldiers searched homes of Russians suspected of hoarding sugar and other foods. Executions and internments continued. A man would be denounced to the Germans on one day and disappear the next. The Germans even tried pressing Ukrainian men into the German Army—mostly in the labor corps—but there were large numbers of desertions.

The rate of exchange for the German reichsmark was set at 1 mark for 10 rubles, giving the Germans a neat exchange profit. There was absolutely no civil law, and martial law did not include civil cases. There were many cases of rape where the parents of the offended girl were simply too terrorized to complain to the authorities.

When the Red Army drive reached the outskirts of Kharkov and two days before the Germans left, the Nazis began systematic demolition of the city's biggest and newest buildings, many of which were the pride of the Ukraine. The House of Projects, which looks like a small-sized Radio City, the House of Cooperation, which looks like a miniature Stevens Hotel, Kharkov International Hotel and others of the biggest and newest buildings were completely gutted by fire and by mining. Then the day after the Red Army's reoccupation the Germans sent over 25 bombers which systematically flew down street after street, dropping bombs on the smoldering buildings.

This is only part of the story. The rest would require a book. But Kharkov is only the first of the cities of Eastern Europe which must be retaken from the Germans. There are Kiev, Riga, Danzig, Warsaw, and a string of others where this same story is going to form one of the saddest chapters in the world's history.

December 5, 2022

1954. CBS Warns of Retaliation by Senator Joseph McCarthy

McCarthy to Appear on See It Now
CBS internal memo dated March 30, 1954 (click to enlarge)
On March 9, 1954, Edward R. Murrow devoted a full episode of See It Now to criticizing Senator Joseph McCarthy. Murrow offered him a chance to respond on air, stating: "If the Senator feels that we have done violence to his words or pictures and desires so to speak to answer himself, an opportunity will be afforded him on this program." McCarthy appeared a month later on April 6, 1954.

One week before McCarthy's appearance, CBS news director Wells "Ted" Church sent out a memo warning correspondents in Europe about possible backlash.

March 30, 1954

Dear Bill:

I am sending this letter to everyone in Europe except Alex, and I leave him out only because I am sure the letter wouldn't get to him in time.

I had a short huddle with Ed this morning and something he said prompts me to write all of you. You all know how determined he has always been to keep each and every one of us out of trouble. Now he is very worried that McCarthy will have something to say about some of us that may hurt. I assured him vehemently that not a man on the staff would be really hurt regardless of what McCarthy said, and that, furthermore, being brought up to the firing line along side Ed would be an honor for any of us.

If McCarthy shows up (and there seems to be some doubt that he will) next Tuesday night, whatever he says will undoubtedly be carried where you are as well as here. I think it would be a good idea if each of you, after hearing what is said, sent Murrow some kind of appropriate cable to disabuse his mind of any worry about any harm he may have brought down on the heads of any of us. His action stems from this very fact—he thinks maybe his action in attacking McCarthy will be responsible for what McCarthy says about someone else.

I am sure you see what I mean.

Sincerely your[s],


December 2, 2022

1943. Eddie Rickenbacker Lands in Moscow

'Rick' in Russia
"Eddie Rickenbacker (left) shaking hands with Henry L. Stimson (right)," December 19, 1942 (source)
From Newsweek, July 5, 1943, pp. 28-29:

'Rick' in Russia

Eddie Rickenbacker arrived in Moscow last week on another leg of his worldwide mission investigating the performance of American planes for Secretary of War Stimson—a mission that was only temporarily interrupted by his brush with death in the Pacific. In Moscow his job will be to pry from the Russians some information on how United States Lend-Lease planes have turned out. In the following dispatch, Bill Downs, Newsweek correspondent in the Soviet capital, describes Rickenbacker's reception.

The arrival of Rickenbacker's Liberator plane caught the American military and embassy officials by surprise. The knowledge that he was even in this part of the world reached Moscow only a half hour before he landed. Ambassador William H. Standley picked up the military attaché, Brig. Gen. Joseph Michela, in his big Buick—the most luxurious car in Russia—and raced for the airport in Moscow. It was a dead heat. The Ambassador's Buick arrived just as Rickenbacker's Liberator came in.

Rickenbacker was grinning and apologized "for dropping in like this without warning." Then General Michela and Ambassador Standley got together to solve the housing problem. Admiral Standley's residence was reserved in preparation for Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, and James Reston, assistant to the publisher, who arrived the next day on a Red Cross mission. The situation was solved by Michela who installed an extra bed in his apartment across the street from the Kremlin. The flier and his doctor, Alexander Dahl of Atlanta, who gives Rickenbacker osteopathic treatments at least once daily, were installed there.

Rickenbacker's mission had previously taken him to India and China. [This is the first report that Rickenbacker visited those countries.] He is going to Britain after he leaves the Soviet Union. The American flier also attended ceremonies at which United States medals were presented to Soviet soldiers and sailors. Rickenbacker met the foreign press in off-the-record conferences in which he talked with gracious charm—but gave no information about his mission.

November 20, 2022

1940. Edward R. Murrow from a Rooftop During the London Blitz

The Sights and Sounds in London

Edward R. Murrow

CBS London

September 21, 1940

I'm standing on a rooftop looking out over London. At the moment, everything is quiet. For reasons of national as well as personal security, I am unable to tell you the exact location from which I am speaking.

Off to my left, far away in the distance, I can see just that faint red, angry snap of antiaircraft bursts against the steel-blue sky. But the guns are so far away that it's impossible to hear them from this location. About five minutes ago the guns in the immediate vicinity were working.

I can look across just at the building not far away and see something that looks like a splash of white paint down the side. And I know from daylight observation that about a quarter of that building has disappeared, hit by a bomb the other night.

Streets fan out in all directions from here, and down on one street I can see a single red light, and just faintly the outline of a sign standing in the middle of the street. And again I know what that sign says, because I saw it this afternoon. It says: "Danger: Unexploded Bomb." Off to my left still, I can see just that red snap of the antiaircraft fire.

I was up here earlier this afternoon, and looking out over these housetops, looking all the way to the dome of St. Paul's, I saw many flags flying from staffs. No one ordered these people to put out the flags. They simply feel like flying the Union Jack above their roofs. No one told them to do it, and no flag up there was white. I can see one or two of them just stirring very faintly in the breeze now.

You may be able to hear the sound of guns off in the distance very faintly, like someone kicking a tub. Now they're silent. Four searchlights reach up, disappear in the light of a three-quarter moon.

I should say at the moment there are probably three aircraft in the general vicinity of London, because one can tell by the movement of the lights and the flash of the antiaircraft guns. But at the moment, in the central area everything is quiet.

More searchlights spring up over on my right. I think probably in a minute we shall have the sound of guns in the immediate vicinity. The lights are swinging over in this general direction now. You'll hear two explosions in just—there they are. Again moving in, still a considerable distance away, moving still just a little closer—there you heard two. The searchlights are stretching out now in this general direction. I can hear just the faint whisper of an aircraft high overhead. Again those guns are considerable distance away. You'll hear them just vaguely in the background.

Straight in front of me now you'll hear two sounds in just a moment. There they are. That was the explosion overhead, not the guns themselves. I should think in a few minutes there may be a bit of shrapnel around here. Coming in, moving a little closer all the while, the plane is still very high and it's quite clear that he's not coming in for his bombing run.

Earlier this evening we could hear occasionally—again, those were explosions overhead. Earlier this evening, we heard a number of bombs go sliding and slithering across to fall several blocks away. Just overhead now, the burst of the antiaircraft fire. Still the nearby guns are not working. And the searchlights now are feeling almost directly overhead.

Now you'll hear two bursts a little nearer in a moment. There they are. That hard, stony sound.

November 18, 2022

1939. Middle America's View of the World in Crisis

Nebraskans Weigh in on the Looming War in Europe
"Middlewesterners are 'unanimous for keeping out of war.' The cartoon is captioned 'A Fair Question.'" (by S. J. Ray in The Kansas City Star)

This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered world politics and the rise and fall of fascism in the years leading up to and during World War II. In July 1939, reporter Leonard H. Robbins spoke with residents of Lincoln, Nebraska about the situation abroad.

From The New York Times Magazine, July 23, 1939, pp. 6, 14:

How the heart of the nation feels about the big issues that confront America today


LINCOLN, Neb. — While the Atlantic seaboard and the Pacific Coast grow anxious over the war clouds looming on the nation's horizons east and west, how does the heart of the country feel? To know is important in these weeks of watchful waiting, for no national decision can be taken at Washington without the agreement of the Middle West.

Traditionally, the Middle West is different in point of view and habit of thought from the rest of the country. It is geographically remote from dangers that coastal regions might fear. Its opinions are its own; it is not given to going along docilely either with the industrial East or with the Solid South.

It is the stamping-ground of pacifism and the native heath of neutrality. At the time of the World War it was slow to anger. Today it is the most prolific source of peace petitions to Congress. What can be expected of it if a new world crisis should demand action?

•    •    •

Lincoln seems as good a place as any for taking the pulse of Middle America. It stands by its lone on the prairie floor of the great valley between the Alleghenies and the Rockies; it thinks for itself, and being the capital of a State, the seat of a State university and other colleges, and a principal trading center of a territory 500 miles wide, it can speak for many more people than its own 80,000.

It is a livable city of one-family homes, of lawns, gardens and shaded streets. A party of British visitors, admiring its miles of comfortable living, said: "Now show us your slums." Their host had to admit that Lincoln hadn't a slum to its name. They marveled also at the many colleges and public schools. "But what," they queried, "do you do with all these people you educate?" Their guide replied: "Oh, we leave it to them to get along somehow." And somehow the Lincolnites do it. In fact, their per capita purchasing power is $250 a year higher than the average American's.

Consider, besides, that Lincoln has 100 churches, sixteen parks, ten theatres, 10,000 automobiles, and airport, a symphony orchestra, a zoo, golf courses, a public rock garden and 110 "Who's Who" notabilities, and you are prepared to weigh the opinions of its citizens on peace, war and the foreign policy of the United States.

•    •    •

Sixty citizens contributed their thoughts to this sampling of the mind of their region. They included ministers, educators, librarians, business executives, public officials, doctors, dentists, newspaper men, housewives, tradesmen, railroad workers, college students and a retired ranchman.

About half of them favored airtight neutrality. Most of the others, including the Mayor of the city, said they were "for isolation, but not 100 per cent." Twenty believed that firmness at Washington, even at the risk of getting into war, was the surest way of avoiding war. None felt warlike. In no one had indignation over the inhumanity of the dictators reached the point of wanting to take over the Lord's prerogative of vengeance.

To the Middle Westerners, the age of martial crusades is over. They took part in one twenty-odd years ago, and they did a thorough job while they were at it. People tell you of terror by sight; of inoffensive old German farmers and farm wives dragged from their homes by mobs of patriots. The prairie folk went as far, it seems, as any other part of the land to make the world safe for democracy. But Governor Cochran recalls that they had little real enthusiasm for it at the time.

They have still less today. They quote the Quaker phrase, "Out of violence only violence comes." They say that war settles nothing. They set their faces against war not merely to save American lives and treasure, but even more to prevent the nation from resorting again to mass murder. The pacifists have been busy on the prairies since 1920. They have planted the peace idea, and it thrives even when the corn fails. They have kept alive the notion that the Kellogg-Briand pact means what it says. They have made the question of war a moral question here.

It transcends political partisanship. Mayor Copeland says, "Although I am a Republican and expect to be one always, I will support the Roosevelt Administration in any policy that will keep us out of war." A Republican merchant says, "This talk that the President wants a war so as to cover up his New Deal failures sounds like cheap talk to me. I trust him not to want war, in the first place, and to avoid war if that is possible. For one thing, there's Hull beside him." Other Republicans say, "Those fellows at Washington know more about the situation than we do. Give 'em a chance."

•    •    •

Against that, a New Dealer tells you frankly, "When F. D. cabled Hitler and Mussolini, I think he stuck his neck out." And former Governor Bryan, who opposed the NRA as hotly as Senator Borah himself, interrupted his game of billiards at his club to say, "President Roosevelt's message to the dictators was one of the smartest pieces of diplomacy I've ever known. You can quote me on that."

You have to expect politically irregular sentiments in Senator Norris's State, where party-mindedness is suspected of being a form of feeble-mindedness and where the voters shop around among the parties on election day.

A university professor, analyzing the anti-war feeling here, says: "We all sympathize with the victims of the international pirates. We are sorry for the Czechs, of whom there are many in Nebraska. But there are many Germans here, too; their love for their home land is as strong as ever, regardless of what they may think of Nazism; and both Czechs and Germans are good neighbors of ours, and good citizens.

"And there's the native sense of humor. Talk to people about lending our money to help save civilization, and they think of the war debts of last time. Tell them the fate of democracy is at stake, and they look at Turkey and Russia lining up with the forces of liberty."

Unanimous for keeping out of the war, Middle Westerners disagree on measures toward that end and on the need of any measures whatever. The tailor who says flatly, "What do we want to go over there for? Why do we get into that mess?" speaks the thought of many. To sit tight and do nothing is all that's necessary. You hear the argument that the United States can prevent a European war by merely withholding its credit.

But a dentist asks, "When our welfare is so bound up with the welfare of Europe and the world in general, how can we possibly keep out?" A minister observes, "We don't want war. We want peace, but it must be real peace. Can we assure it by simply taking cover to save our skins? I believe we shall insist on a nobler policy when the time comes." And a department-store owner says: "Peace won by playing safe might be most unsafe. I don't see that our national interests can be separated from those of England and France. If those nations should be overwhelmed, our turn would surely come next."

•    •    •

The retired ranchman on the list goes still further. "We can't say we have no concern in what other nations do. We can't have peace when other people are raising hob anywhere on the map. This world is our world, the same as theirs, and when they turn it into a roughhouse, there's no living in it for us.

"We can't make believe that a war in Europe is none of our business. We've got the right and the duty to yell before they start anything. And how much are they going to listen to us if we build a wall around ourselves and turn into another China?

"Here in America we're getting pretty well civilized, all things considered. But a lot of this world is still gun country. We've got to remember that before we throw the old musket on the junk heap. Or put it like this: the way the world is today, we don't live by ourselves, away from the rest, any more. We all live in an apartment house, so to speak. And when the people downstairs set the place afire, we don't save ourselves by locking our door and pulling down the blinds. As long as we won't help support a world fire department, we've got to be ready to grab a fire bucket.

"I'm for strong action before war starts," he concludes. "It will prevent trouble and keep us out of it better than any pussyfooting. And one thing more: They can hold their referendum without me. Let those who have to go do the voting."

•    •    •

Above a portal of the new Nebraska Capitol is inscribed: "The salvation of the State is the watchfulness in the citizen." People here are watching. They see very little war propaganda in their newspapers. They hear more from lecturers, and they discount most of it. They want facts. They ask the pulse-taker more questions than he asks them. One thing they want to know is: "What big Eastern interests will benefit from a war?"

The front tables in their bookstores are covered with such books as "The New Western Front," "The Rise of American Naval Power," "The Crisis of Democracy" and "This Peace." Hitler's book is a best-seller. The public library has waiting lists for new books on foreign affairs.

Opinion in the State Capitol reflects that outside. One official comments: Let's approach the war problem by putting our own house in order and setting a good example." Another says: "Expand the air force, maintain the navy, increase the army somewhat, and don't talk. Don't start anything, but be ready for anything." The Governor advises: "Don't tie the President's hands," and opposes a war referendum.

The State University teaches military science. Hundreds of lads in uniform give the campus a West Point look. But the student R. O. T. C. is, by vote, against war. It was not thus in the "Uni" battalion of 1898 when Cuba was to be freed. War has lost its glamour to Cornhusker youth. Nowadays they "reason why" about it.

A recent campus discussion of "Alternate Ways to Peace," though held on a busy morning in examination season, brought out fifty young men and women to listen to a peace-society speaker and a history teacher and to ask pointed questions.

The peace chap argued that world peace would be simple to arrange if the "have" nations would only share the raw materials of civilized life with the "have-nots." They were the "10-o'clock robbers" who had gone to work early and then turned respectable. Now come the "2-o'clock robbers" and find the cupboard bare; and "what they think essential to peace is just as important, in a forever-changing world, as what the reformed robbers think. Starving peoples won't stay democratic and starve to death peaceably. You can't eat democracy."

The history teacher granted the need for a better division of the loot of the earth, but suggested: "If you give what you have to an angry person who will use it for your destruction, that doesn't help." The immediate problem was to prevent war, and it was unlikely that war could be prevented if the United States should let England and France carry the whole burden of representing democracy against the dictators. We should speak out, he inclined to think, even at the risk of involvement. After all, the sentimental ties were strong. "If London and Paris are bombed, nothing can stop us from digging up old Lafayette and dusting him off again."

The peace-society man came back. "To whip the 'have-nots' would only suppress the fundamental conflict, and suppressed conflict is not peace." But most of the audience seemed to side with the teacher.

•    •    •

Four hundred of the university's 4,000 students were polled last month for their views on foreign policy. Half of them would support a President in designating aggressor nations. Two out of three were for an embargo on foodstuffs and munitions to aggressors. Five in six opposed exporting munitions to all belligerents. The vote against sending troops to Europe was 4 to 1 and to the Far East 12 to 1.

That poll agrees very closely in results with the nation-wide Gallup poll on the subject, while the people talked with in Lincoln seemed strangely like the views of people in New York, in New England, in the Ohio Valley and elsewhere between the oceans.

That being so, and if Lincoln opinion is a fair picture of Middle Western opinion, then the Middle West is not so very "different," after all. Perhaps this prairie city typifies not its own region alone, but America—a wide-awake, cool-headed America that will not be stampeded either into rushing to arms or into dashing for the cyclone cellar when decisions have to be made.

October 24, 2022

1967. Polarization in Congress

The 90th Congress Set to Begin Session
"Opening day of the 90th Congress," January 10, 1967 (source)
Bill Downs

ABC Washington

January 3, 1967

In just a week from today the new 90th Congress of the United States will be gaveled into session, and already Washington columnists and reporters like myself are looking for an ear-catching name for it.

Considering the gains made by the Republicans in last year's off-year elections, the GOP leadership might want to label it the "nifty 90th," which just might possibly produce the man and a program which could defeat the majority Democrats in 1968.

According to what the new Congress does—or does not do—to the Johnson Administration's program, the Democrats might end up calling it the "nefarious" or the "naughty 90th," or perhaps even the "nasty 90th Congress."

Whatever it's called will not depend solely on the Republicans nor on the Democratic senators and representatives alone. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt's first New Deal, Congress has been divided by economic and social issues that cut along party lines. It's no longer enough for a man just to gallop the Democratic donkey or Republican elephant into Congress. Just as important is the question of whether he rides hardest on the right or leans furthest to the left of the saddle.

In other words, the political divisions in the new 90th are not only designated by party label. The members will also find themselves branded with either the conservative or liberal mark.

If you think this is confusing, just wait. The problem of identification of the members of Congress is even further complicated by the fact that no grassroots Solomon or professional politician has emerged here or anywhere else who can give a hard and fast definition of what exactly a liberal or conservative is, because the definitions must change with the times and the issues confronting each new Congress.

For example, some of Capitol Hill's leading so-called liberals today are sounding like America First right-wingers of twenty-seven years ago on the question of US Vietnam policy. On the other hand, some Congressional conservatives would seem to be committing political heresy by backing government efforts to improve the quality and quantity of US education and aid to the nation's elderly.

Consequently, as of now there's no dependable way to draw up a form sheet for the new 90th Congress, because until they get themselves on the record with a series of key votes, you cannot tell the players by their states or numbers—only by their actions.

There is one thing to watch for in the new, nervous 90th after it gets underway. Look to the membership and strength of what's called the "conservative coalition." The Republicans and Democrats who belong to this nebulous voting cartel usually deny that such a thing exists.

Whether it's organized or not, the so-called conservative coalition is usually made up of Democrats from the Deep South, plus Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, and right-leaning Republicans which form a majority of the GOP membership on some key issues. The landslide vote which swept Lyndon Johnson into office in 1964 pretty well cut the GOP props out from under the bipartisan conservative group and enabled the Democratic administration to push through the president's sweeping Great Society program.

However, the Republican gains last November appears to have rejuvenated the old GOP-Dixiecrat voting cartel, which can only mean difficulty and trouble for the Johnson Administration's free-swinging domestic programs and policies.

Poetically, a rose by any other name is just as sweet. In politics it's different. We'd bet that before the new Congress is many months old, the White House will be calling it the "noxious, no-good 90th"—and that will be just a starter.

This is Bill Downs for ABC in Washington.

October 17, 2022

1969. "Agnew Demands Equal Time"

The Power of Television News
Vice President Spiro Agnew speaking with reporters in Baltimore after pleading no contest to tax evasion charges on October 10, 1973, the day he resigned from the vice presidency (Photo by Frank R. Gardina – source)
From Time magazine, November 21, 1969, pp. 18-22:

The networks had been forewarned of the subject matter of the speech—including the line that read: "Whether what I've said to you tonight will be seen and heard at all by the nation is not my decision, it's their decision." Hence "they," the three television networks, had their cameras warm and waiting when Spiro Agnew arrived to address the Midwestern Regional Republican Conference.

For 30 minutes—carried live in the dinner-hour news slot by the networks—Agnew inveighed against the commentators and producers who control the flow of information and comment to the nation's television viewers. "A small group of men," said Agnew, "numbering perhaps no more than a dozen anchormen, commentators and executive producers, settle upon the film and commentary that is to reach the public. They decide what 40 to 50 million Americans will learn of the day's events in the nation and in the world." Such vast and unchecked power in the hands of a "small and unelected elite," the Vice President claimed, has served to distort traditional rhythms of "normality"—"our national search for internal peace and stability." Gresham's law, he said, "seems to be operating in the network news. Bad news drives out good. Concurrence can no longer compete with dissent. One minute of Eldridge Cleaver is worth ten minutes of Roy Wilkins."

No Censorship

In attacking TV—broad and inviting target that it is, Agnew was aiming at a larger foe. For network TV to many Americans is symbolic of the Eastern Establishment, of glibness and superiority, of unwelcome change, of dissent and division. Still, some of Agnew's criticisms were entirely sensible. He asked a great many questions that have troubled others about the nature and source of TV's power, its influence on America, its effects for good or ill. The speech was more professional and better drafted than almost any he has delivered—thanks to fitting in the White House speech shop. There were, for example, no such gems as "an effete corps of impudent snobs." If the prose was somewhat more finished than in some other recent Agnew performances, the tone was still truculent, occasionally intemperate and bullying. "I'm not asking for Government censorship or any other kind of censorship," he protested. But he noted pointedly that television stations are being subject to federal licensing.

Agnew began by attacking television's postmortem analyses of Richard Nixon's Nov. 3 Viet Nam speech. "President Nixon delivered the most important address of his administration," said Agnew. "His hope was to rally the American people to see the conflict through to a lasting and just peace in the Pacific." But no sooner had Nixon finished his painstakingly prepared address, the Vice President complained, than "his words and policies were subjected to instant analysis and querulous criticism."

Agnew did not name names, but the White House seems particularly incensed by the correspondent who "twice contradicted the President's statement about the exchange of correspondence with Ho Chi Minh." That was CBS's Marvin Kalb. Despite Nixon's claim that Ho was intransigent, Kalb ordered that "the Ho Chi Minh letter contained some of the softest, most accommodating language found in a Communist document concerning the war in Viet Nam in recent years."

Special Venom

Another commentator, said Agnew, "challenged the President's abilities as a politician." That was ABC's Bill Lawrence. A third was berated for claiming that Nixon "was following the Pentagon line." That was ABC's Bill Downs. "Others," the Vice President said, "by the expression of their faces, the tone of their questions and the sarcasm of their responses, made clear their sharp disapproval."

The speech had a special venom for Averell Harriman, former negotiator at Paris, who has consistently criticized Nixon's war policies. ABC had lined up Harriman for an interview after the Nixon speech. The choice was biased in a sense; it clearly indicated that ABC meant to criticize the President. Yet Agnew spoke not merely of Harriman's being "trotted out" to offer "gratuitous advice," but sharply impugned his peace efforts. While he was in Paris, said Agnew, the U.S. "swapped some of the greatest military concessions in the history of warfare for an enemy agreement on the shape of the bargaining table." That line has an Agnewistic demagoguery about it that led some to think the Vice President wrote it himself and inserted it into the speech.

The "greatest concessions" involved the U.S. bombing halt in exchange for a tacit agreement with North Viet Nam to stop attacks on South Vietnamese cities as well as military operations in the DMZ, and acceptance of the South Vietnamese government at the conference table. Since then, Hanoi has not entirely adhered to the first two points. But if the Nixon Administration really believes that Harriman made the worst deal in the history of warfare, would it not be reasonable to resume the bombing?

In another questionable passage, Agnew conjured up a comparison of Nixon to Winston Churchill, who "didn't have to contend with a gaggle of commentators raising doubts about . . . whether Britain had the stamina to see the war through." In fact, Churchill had his share of critical commentators. More important, the Nazi threat of total war against Britain and the entire Western world simply cannot compare to the threat posed to the U.S. by the enemy in Viet Nam.

Rhetoric aside, Agnew did touch on a major phenomenon. It is the strange, pervasive love-hate relationship that Americans seem to have with TV—the force that entertains them, unifies them by making them simultaneous witnesses to great events, and yet also brings them words and images they resent. Most often, of course, they are words and images beyond the control of the distant and suspect networks; they are the inevitable result of social upheaval, of change, or war. But in challenging the qualifications and motives of the TV news commentators and producers, Agnew brought to the surface questions that have been in the mind of every American who has ever tuned in a news program. Who are these men? What are their prejudices and backgrounds? Since they broadcast from Washington and New York, are they dedicated members of the Eastern Establishment or what Author Theodore H. White calls the "opinionated Mafia"? How do TV news commentary programs come to be? Do they need outside control? Agnew touched on several major features of TV news:

INSTANT REBUTTAL: "The President has the right to communicate with the people who elected him," said Agnew, "without having the President's words and thoughts characterized through the prejudices of hostile critics before they can be digested." It is true that a commentator can assure himself of a vast automatic audience by following the President on the air, and the instant rebuttals or analyses are often feeble. But in the case of the Viet Nam speech, reporters had an hour to study the text before Nixon spoke; they were also briefed on the contents by White House advisers so that they were not speaking entirely off the cuff in their critiques. Besides, the President's right (purely customary) to use television whenever he chooses is an extremely powerful weapon—some think too powerful. Says CBS's Eric Sevareid: "I think the networks should consider having all three of the major networks carrying a presidential speech at the same time live. Perhaps that is a kind of monopoly position given to a political leader that he ought not to have." Some argue that a President, controlling the U.S. Government's vast information network and releasing only what information he cares to, should not be allowed to air his official pronouncements without some balancing criticisms.

EDITING REALITY: More worrisome than the influence of individual commentators is the effect that can be achieved by the selection of film or tape footage. In this way TV producers can more or less edit reality. Television, even more than other media, has a bias for action and excitement. A small disturbance at a cross-section can, when it fills a TV screen, suggest an entire city in riot. Similarly, during the Newark riots of 1967, TV reporters and their audience were duped into believing that a church assistant was a minister and prominent black spokesman. Hundreds of charges of distortion were brought against the networks for their coverage of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, but a Federal Communications Commission investigation found "no substantial basis" for them. If the influence of TV were as irresistible as Agnew claims, and if TV reporting of Chicago was so prejudiced, why did a majority of Americans nevertheless support Mayor Richard Daley and his police? Still, the power of television to decide which event and which part of an event to cover is awesome, and must be kept under scrutiny. On the evening newscasts a few hours before President Nixon's Viet Nam speech, both NBC and CBS carried film of atrocities committed by South Vietnamese troops.

INSTANT FAME: TV, Agnew charged, can create issues overnight and turn nobodies into national figures. But Agnew's own examples suggested that this process has limits. He mentioned Stokely Carmichael; in Carmichael's case, notoriety happened, at least in part, for complicated psychological reasons having to do with white guilt. Agnew also mentioned George Lincoln Rockwell; in his case, only minor notoriety resulted, and only assassination transformed him into a national figure.

Perhaps Agnew's most telling charge was that the TV "elite" consists of only seemingly well-informed, possibly unqualified people whose backgrounds and credentials are virtually unknown and who think alike: "To a man, these commentators and producers live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, D.C. or New York City. Both communities bask in their own provincialism, their own parochialism. These men read the same newspapers, draw their political and social views from the same sources. Worse, they talk constantly to one another."

The Vice President was echoing a journalist who closely followed the election of President Nixon, Theodore H. White. Reacting at least partially to unfavorable reviews of his book, The Making of a President, 1968, White attacked the "increasing concentration of the cultural pattern of the U.S. in fewer hands. You can take a compass with a one-mile radius and put it down at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 51st Street in Manhattan and you have control of 95% of the entire opinion- and influence-making in the U.S." On William F. Buckley's TV program, Firing Line, White suggested breaking up the networks. "Let's say we can rear back and pass a miracle bill. We would say only one national network can have its headquarters in New York City, one must be in Los Angeles and one must be in Chicago."

Agnew's proposals were not nearly so Draconian, but singled out "a dozen announcers, commentators, executive producers" who control TV news, and superficially he got the number right.
Walter Cronkite in the late 1960s
Right and Wrong

His complaint of sameness among the commentators also gains a certain superficial support from their biographies. Many are from the Midwest, most break into journalism on small or middle-sized newspapers, most are Democrats or Independents. But TV's top commentators are in fact remarkably different in their approaches to life and their jobs.

Because of his professional manner and general conservatism, ABC's Howard K. Smith probably stands out most distinctly. A supporter of U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, his hawkishness deepened after his soldier-son was gravely wounded in the war. Walter Cronkite also believes in U.S. commitment in Viet Nam, although he feels that it has developed serious flaws. Basically, he is an optimist. Poverty? Pollution? Problems of the aged? In his fatherly, concerned way, Cronkite feels that "we've got a pretty good democracy going in this country; it works pretty well. If the people really want to do those jobs badly enough, they'll get a Congress that wants to do those jobs badly enough."

After the Chicago convention, however, Cronkite developed at least one gloomy streak in the form of a premonition of censorship. "People are beginning," he said, "to mistake us for the stories we're covering." Those who were charging TV journalists with biased reporting were "doing so for political reasons, for the most part." Even mere reminders that TV stations were licensed amounted to censorship, he felt. "When they talk about public responsibility in the news, they're talking about censorship." And, he added, "they'll come to newspapers next. They won't stop." David Brinkley, "liberal, but not very," is just as pessimistic about the Federal Government, "a clumsy, heavy-footed bureaucratic monster out of contact with the American people."

No one could be further from effete snobbery than Chet Huntley. Deeply—almost lyrically—affected by his childhood in Montana, he is quite simply puzzled and troubled about America. When he was a child in the West, he says, "Our idealisms were be kind to your neighbor. You respected your father and your mother, you exercised thrift and you saved—you saved for a rainy day." Today, "we really don't know ourselves. We haven't had time in the past 60 years to stop and get acquainted with ourselves. Our youngsters have idealisms which are somewhat grander in proportion—namely, the brotherhood of man and world peace, and those are difficult to get into action."

Thoughtful, deliberate Eric Sevareid probably comes closest to the liberal intellectualism that is anathema to Agnew. Yet, even he shares an Agnewesque distaste for "professional intellectuals. They tempt me to agree with Eric Hoffer, who said that intellectuals must never be given power because they want people to get down on their knees and learn to love what they really hate and hate what they really love."

Agnew's most dangerous point is that newscasters ought to reflect majority opinion, rather than their own best judgment, and that this somehow would make them objective. Almost to a man, broadcasters reject objectivity as a goal and insist that they are fair. An objective man, says David Brinkley, "would have to be put away in an institution because he's some sort of vegetable." ABC Anchor Man Frank Reynolds was quoted by Agnew as saying, "You can't expunge all your private convictions," and during the 1968 campaign charged Richard Nixon with a suppressed "natural instinct to smash the enemy with a club or go after him with a meat ax." Av Westin, executive producer of the ABC evening news, puts the industry's case in its best possible light. "My politics are more conservative than Vice President Agnew would have people believe, but that doesn't matter. My job is to keep my politics and those of others off the air. You can't always be objective because you bring your experiences to things—so you try to be fair. We are on guard. We are not infallible. We try."

Typical of the kind of trying that goes into a news program is the Huntley-Brinkley Report. The first staffers arrive around 9 a.m., and shortly thereafter film crews are ordered out on the likeliest stories. Each morning Executive Producer Wallace Westfeldt attends a meeting with the NBC news brass, including President Reuven Frank. "But no one," says Westfeldt, "ever tells us what to run or what not to run." But, of course, certain prevailing assumptions, a certain atmosphere, almost unconsciously dictate decisions. Through the day, film arriving from all over the world is run off and edited. Late breaking footage can be put on the line from one of the affiliated stations.

Around 3:30 p.m., Westfeldt decides the first "rundown," the order and length (down to the second) of the stories. An hour or so later, a couple of writers begin to rap out Huntley's copy, mostly from the A.P. wire. Brinkley generally writes his own. Westfeldt has final film cut and say; he doesn't touch Brinkley's prose, but he sometimes overrules David on the priority of items. New, updated copy sometimes is slipped to the anchor men during commercial breaks.

Vote by Channel Selector

By what authority does this "small band of commentators and self-appointed analysts" (Agnew's words) shape the presentation of the news each evening? As in any business, their rise depends on intelligence, talent and merit. But TV is not just business; it is show business. Top commentators are in the $200,000-a-year bracket because they draw audiences. Thus, even though Agnew calls them "unelected," TV newscasters and commentators are more elected than any other newsmen in America. Every night the viewer votes with his channel selector; the Nielsen rating company tabulates the results. Just now, CBS's Walter Cronkite is ahead of Huntley-Brinkley 26 million viewers to 21 million. Despite Agnew's presumption that silent-majority viewers would prefer an alternative to CBS-NBC dovishness, viewer-voters leave Frank Reynolds (who publicly questioned last month's moratorium) and hawkish Howard K. Smith far behind, with an audience of 10,500,000.

There are many power centers in a free society—foundations, corporations, the print press—whose top executives are not "elected" and have no political constituency. Many people are legitimately concerned about the responsibility and power such men wield. One answer is that they represent an important counterweight to the sometimes excessive power of Government; another is that their influence is limited by competition and diversity. In TV, greater diversity is undoubtedly possible through proper financial support of the fourth, public network and a larger number of local stations.

Broadcasters' Greed

Agnew's implication that TV newscasting and commentary do not draw enough critical attention belies the facts on every hand. A new awards committee, supported by the Alfred I. du Pont Foundation and Columbia University, last week published a tough, 128-page critique entitled Survey of Broadcast Journalism 1968-1969. Prepared by a jury of five people who know their TV well,* the report indicted the industry for dereliction of its duty to the American people—although not in the sense meant by Agnew. Among its conclusions: broadcasting is far behind print in investigative reporting, "documentary programming hit a new low" and reporting of the 1968 election campaign did not adequately inform the electorate. In a personal postscript, Sir William Haley kissed off much of U.S. news coverage as "meretricious, superficial and spotty." The survey hammered at what it called "the real cause of the crisis in broadcasting": broadcasters' obsession with private profit rather than public service. "A theologian would call it greed," the jury dryly observed, and they included advertisers who shied away from sponsoring public-affairs shows as well as local station managers who did not deign to carry them.

Theoretically, at least, the agency to deal with these shortcomings already exists: the Federal Communications Commission. Its control of the broadcast industry would seem to be an infringement of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press, but it is excused on the grounds that there are so few available broadcast channels and they are therefore public property and must be used in the public interest. Stations are licensed and bound by written rules covering everything from transmission wattage to obscenity. Political candidates are guaranteed equal time with rival candidates, and a citizen may rebut a "personal attack" from anyone appearing on a TV station.

If the FCC finds that a station is not operating in the public interest, it can revoke its license or refuse renewal. The FCC does not license networks, but since each network owns at least five TV stations, the commission can exercise considerable influence over them.

It never has. Over the years, most commissioners have gone into or served as lawyers for the broadcasting industry once they left the FCC. Even if they had been eager to bite the hand that promised to feed them, the commissioners never had sufficient funds to monitor stations properly. Only lately, under the prodding of Nicholas Johnson and a few other activist commissioners, has there been a change. Last January Boston station WHDH-TV lost its license for several reasons, including the other media interests of its owner. And last August, an FCC hearing examiner recommended the suspension of a Los Angeles station's license for "dreadful" programming and because it "miserably failed to serve the public interest." Around the country, groups of concerned citizens are challenging the license renewals of stations for reasons such as racial bias, local media monopoly and unfair reporting.

Final Takeover

But the broadcast lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington, and Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island, chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, has introduced a bill to protect a broadcaster's license from public challenge unless it has been previously revoked. In effect, the Pastore bill would grant owners a permanent license. Commissioner Johnson called the legislation "the final takeover by broadcasters," and warned that it meant further emasculation of the FCC. Nixon's appointment of Dean Burch and a Kansas broadcaster named Robert Wells to the FCC has been interpreted as a pro-industry move. On the face of it, Agnew has rallied the nation's citizens against shabby television practices. But unless Agnew and his boss give equal time and attention to the defeat of the Pastore bill, the gesture will prove to be hollow.

Still, Agnew's attack on TV drew wide support, and it did quite a lot for him politically. He is undoubtedly a more considerable figure today than he was three weeks ago. During last year's campaign he blamed the press and TV for ridiculing him. Since then, he has provided by his own experience a perfect rebuttal of what he accusingly said about TV in his speech—that without justification, it can bring an obscure figure to prominence overnight. If Agnew, by his public speeches, had not compelled the networks to pay attention to him, he would still dwell in vice-presidential obscurity. Spiro Agnew owes his office to Richard Nixon, but today he is also a creation of the media.
* Sir William Haley, former director-general of the British Broadcasting Corp.; Author-Critics Marya Mannes and Michael Arlen; Richard Baker, acting Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and his predecessor, Dean Edward Barrett.

September 30, 2022

1943. Ukrainians Persevere in the Wake of Destruction

A "Desert of Destitution"
"Residents of the liberated city of Stalino (Donetsk) read 'TASS Windows,'" September 1943 (source)
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

September 6, 1943

The Russians tonight hold two-thirds of the Donbass and are moving westward at the rate of fifteen miles a day—so fast that the Soviet Union's richest coal country should very soon be completely in the hands of the Red Army.

The coal capital of Stalino is the only major Donbass city still held by the Germans, and the Red Army is only four miles east of there. Tonight's communiqué announces the capture of four big railroad and coal centers in the Donbass network, leaving only the western fringe of this vulnerable fuel basin in German hands.

The other big victory announced by the Soviet high command is the capture of the railroad junction of Konotop in the northern Ukraine. Konotop is 128 miles on the railroad east of Kiev. Now the Russians are advancing on an even bigger railroad junction: Bakhmach, seventeen miles west of Kharkov. Five railroads run into Bakhmach. It is the first station on the eastern edge of the Kiev railroad network.

We can assume that the Germans are firing and blowing up every building and mine pit and peasant's cottage in the path of their western retreat. The Ukraine tonight is scorched earth wherever the Nazis pass.

I saw examples of this earth scorching when I was in the Ukraine the day before yesterday traveling along the path of the German retreat from Belgorod to Kharkov.

The damage is so extensive that the occasional house that was new—unburned, without shell holes and not charred by fire—such scattered houses seemed almost to be showplaces. They stood out like the pyramids in a desert of destitution.

The most indestructible thing about a Ukrainian cottage is its big peasant stove. They are immense things as high as the house itself—sort of an enclosed indoor fireplace. Today their chimneys finger the horizon like the skeletons of peacetime.

But the people come back. They always come back, no matter how badly their homes are wrecked. Tonight they are sleeping in nearby haystacks, or in dugouts in the ground, or on the ground itself. They'll get up at dawn and start rebuilding the stove—and eventually build a house around it. The Ukraine has been kicked around and shot up and burned, but it is far from dead.

Now there is a rush to get the houses built before winter. Neighbors are helping neighbors. Not everyone is going to have a warm house by the time the first snow falls, but there will be enough shelter for the people who are left—the people who were not sent to Germany—to give the Ukraine a new lease on life.

It badly needs it.

September 23, 2022

1943. "Davies in Sovietland"

Ambassador Joseph E. Davies Visits the Soviet Union
US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies stands alongside Joseph Stalin and Foreign Affairs Minister Vyacheslav Molotov in May 1943 (source)
From Newsweek, May 31, 1943, pp. 50-52:

Davies in Sovietland

The arrival of former Ambassador Joseph E. Davies in Moscow was an event of importance in the Soviet capital last week. In the following dispatch Newsweek's Moscow correspondent, Bill Downs, gives the unofficial side of how Davies was received.

Joseph Davies arrived in a big cargo plane at the Moscow airdrome. He came with the cold spring rain which was out of season compared with the warmth of his greeting. When Davies poked out his head Admiral Standley shouted up the doorway: "Hello, Joe." Davies replied: "Hello Admiral. God bless you."

He climbed down the awkward ladder immediately and shook hands with the embassy officials and with fat V. G. Dekanozoff, who was Molotoff's representative and who could pass for one of the seven dwarfs—but not Dopey, for he is one of the smartest men in the Foreign Commissariat.

There was a great deal of good-humored lining up for the Soviet Film News photographers who were sent to make this the biggest greeting of any foreigner since Wendell Willkie. American and Soviet flags flying side by side at the entrances to the airport hangars stiffened in the breeze as the party drove off to the luxurious Soviet guest house at No. 8 Ostrovsky Street, where Willkie also had been billeted.

Davies agreed to meet the correspondents in a half hour. To do this he made a special trip to Ambassador Standley's residence, settled down in a chair in the library, and proceeded not to answer the questions. He explained that he had nothing to add to the President's statement concerning his mission.

Davies agreed to talk off the record—but did not say anything to throw light on his mission. Instead he dwelled mostly on his impressions of his trip from America to Russia. Then he went into an emotional talk about his visit to Stalingrad. He said: "I watched the reactions of the crew of my plane. No one said much; then someone said: 'Those dirty sons of bitches, I could tear them apart with my own hands.' That is how we all felt."

Davies next explained how, wearing a top hat and striped trousers and other diplomatic paraphernalia, he had once laid a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Belgium and how an Ambassador uncovers and lays the wreath on the tomb, steps backward, and bows his head about two minutes. He went on: "I followed that protocol at Stalingrad. It was very impressive. When I bowed my head before the common grave across the street from Marshal Paulus's headquarters, a curious crowd that gathered also bared its head. The silence lasted longer than two minutes, and it was very impressive."

Then Davies remarked: "I made a few extemporaneous remarks there." A correspondent asked: "Do you remember what you said?" Davies answered: "Not exactly, but my secretary happened to be there and made a stenographic report of what I said." There was a pause and Davies continued: "I wonder if I have a copy with me." After another pause for rummaging in his pockets he said: "Here it is." And out came five typewritten copies of his speech which were passed around.

However, all is not sweetness and light for Joe Davies's second mission to Moscow. The crew of his Army plane now are interested only in "getting him home." These men say they are thinking of writing a book called "Second Mission to Moscow." They all agree it would make fantastic reading. Davies is not well and brought with him a physician, Dr. Arthur F. Chace of New York, one of the world's outstanding authorities on internal medicine and president of the American Academy of Medicine.

However, Davies's trip augurs well and portends success. The Russians at least know where they stand with him. They operate on a principle which he himself quotes, saying that the Russian officials told him: "If you find any faults with us, you tell us—if you find something good, you tell the world."

September 15, 2022

1944. Entering Caen After the Allied Bombing and Liberation

"Why Did You Bomb Us?"
"A British soldier carries a little girl through the devastation of Caen, 10 July 1944" (source)

Below are brief accounts from Bill Downs and war correspondent Al Newman, both of whom entered Caen shortly after Allied forces took the city. More reports from Downs in July 1944 are featured here. From Newsweek, July 24, 1944, pp. 29-31:

Why Did You Bomb Us?

Bill Downs, Newsweek and CBS correspondent, was among the first few reporters to enter Caen after the British captured it. He cabled the following eyewitness story of the broken city, which once had 50,000 inhabitants.

A British colonel poked his head into a trench and said: "So you want to go into Caen?" We poked our heads out of the trench, looked at each other, and said with some doubt: "Yes."

"Well, go ahead," the colonel said. "But at your own risk." Continuing that kind of talk is bad for morale so we climbed into our jeep and headed for a mile of highway under German shell and mortar fire. No one liked the idea too much, but we had been waiting four hours to go ahead.

The jeep picked up speed. After the first quarter of a mile we relaxed—a little.

Down the hill was Caen proper. We came to an area which had received part of the 2,000 tons of bombs dropped by the RAF two days before. It looked as if someone had picked up the whole area, dropped it, and then come along with a gigantic finger and poked holes in the ground. White limestone dust covered everything, even the leaves still remaining on the shattered trees. Someone might have played a bad joke with dirt whitewash. We walked down the hill past the ruins of houses with their curtains flapping lifelessly from shattered windows. Parked beside a filling station with three leaning pumps was the remainder of a car. It looked like an oversize pepper shaker, there were so many holes in it.

This street once had been the beautiful approach to Caen. Ancient trees lined both sides of the avenue. In peacetime it was called the "Rue de la Délivrande."

The following day we were able to drive in from the west. There it was the same old story of destruction on the outskirts with damage tapering off as you reached the center of the city.

All Caen civilians who wish are being evacuated to camps near the beaches. Many of them since the invasion have lived in the Lycée Malherbe, the boys' school in the center of the city run by priests of the Church of St. Etienne. For weeks families slept on straw on the floor. There was no water, no light. But the Germans respected the asylum of the church and didn't bother the people. All in all, about 6,000 stayed here.

It was a different story for those who chose to live in their homes. German restrictions tightened when the Allies invaded. Then, following the big RAF bombing, SS troops ran wild through the town, beating civilians, breaking into stores and homes, and taking what they wanted. Liquor was their first demand.

What Price Deliverance: The people cannot understand the reason for this terrific bombing that preceded the final attack. "We waited four years for you to come," they say. "Then two days before you liberated us you bombed us." There has been no count of civilian casualties from this raid but preliminary estimates say that they may reach 2,000, maybe more.

The military argument for this tremendous attack is that the day after it was made the Germans began pulling men and equipment out of the Caen defenses. How many Germans would have defended the city and whether it would have been fought for house by house are questions that cannot be answered now. Many correspondents here have taken the line that such bombing is actually unnecessary, harmful to the Allied cause, and militarily useless. My belief is that it is impossible to tell in the case of Caen. The fact remains that Caen has been liberated.

Another Newsweek correspondent, Al Newman, arrived in Caen on Bastille Day, four days after Downs' visit. Newman sent this contrasting description of the town:

Before the cathedral, the Place du Lycée boiled with people. It took no second glance to tell that this wasn't a Bastille Day celebration but a panicky, tearful throng of refugees waiting for trucks to carry them to Bayeux. The dimly lit nave of the cathedral was thickly spread with straw, and hundreds, looking grim, scared and hopeless, lay there.

In the adjacent Lycée Malherbe, where more refugees huddled, relief workers buzzed from group to group. There were French Wacs brought from England for just such emergencies and local civilian Red Cross workers. American civil affairs officers answered questions, took notes, and shepherded refugees into trucks, saw to meals and supervised burial of the dead in mass graves behind the Lycée.

That was Caen's Quatorze Juillet observance.

September 11, 2022

1943. Soviet Summer Offensive Repels German Forces

"Guns, Tanks, and Chopin: A Look at the Russian Front"
Soviet anti-tank riflemen during the Battle of Kursk, July 20, 1943 (Photo by Natalia Bode – source)

From Newsweek, August 23, 1943, p. 28:

Guns, Tanks, and Chopin: A Look at the Russian Front

Bill Downs, Moscow correspondent for Newsweek and CBS, was among the group of reporters taken to the Orel front last week. Since the Russians seldom allow correspondents—or any other foreigners—near the front lines, the following eyewitness account by Downs is one of the first to be published on the present fighting in the Soviet.

Lt. Gen. Peotr Peotrovich Sabennikoff, 6 feet 4 inches tall and only 49 years old, stood in the tent of his field headquarters last Thursday and told us some amazing things about the Russian summer offensive. Suave of manner, with an almost wistful blond mustache, the general was often forced to interrupt his talk by the noise of groups of bombers and fighters speeding to the front, only a ten-minute flight away. Here are the main points he made:

Machines: The Soviet Command prepared the Orel breakthrough with the heaviest artillery and mortar barrage in history. "Compared with 90 guns per kilometer at Verdun," said Sabennikoff, "the Red Army had desyatki more barrels." The word desyatki means "tens." This is the closest Russian word to the English "dozens." It meant that the Russians had concentrated more than 1,900 barrels per kilometer around Orel. Note that the general specified "barrels," not guns—multibarreled weapons permit an exceedingly heavy mobile concentration.

Sabennikoff said the artillery opened up paths of attack 6 to 8 kilometers deep in the German lines, although in some instances the artillery and mortar preparation extended 30 to 40 kilometers from the front. The general declined permission for correspondents to see one of these battlefields. "There are mines all over the place," explained Sabennikoff. "I don't have sappers available yet to clean them up. I wouldn't risk a walk over such battlefields."

Sabennikoff said that American and British tanks were used in this offensive—British Churchills, American Grants. He praised the speed of both tanks but said the Grants were too high and were hit frequently. "Our tank men still like the Russian 34 best," he said. The foreign tanks were mixed in with the Russian tank groups, so there was no opportunity to weigh them as separate tactical units operating independently.

Concerning the defeated German forces, the general knocked down the flood of reports from the front that the Nazi "summer Fritz" or "total Fritz" (inferior type of soldier) was being used in large numbers on this front. He said the German command had concentrated crack troops on the central front for the summer offensive: "I have seen plenty of them. Very few are over 30. Most are well-trained, tough men in their 20s."

However, he said there were indications of cracks in Nazi morale shortly after the Russian offensive began: "We had been watching the Germans for a long time. When they finally struck against Kursk, it was just what we wanted. We began a concentric offensive on July 12. Our attack forced them to dissolve their reserves which were badly placed in relation to our attacks. Then I noticed that men began to surrender. At no time did this happen in great numbers—but the fact that it happened at all is indicative. The Germans I talked to said that the fall of Mussolini had a great effect on them. However, we captured an order telling the German soldier to stay in his trench and resist to the last bullet. Most Nazis are doing that."

Sabennikoff knows what he is talking about. He is a representative of the Supreme Command, and commanded the army group at Orel which first entered the city from the east. He was the first general in the town. Now he is chief of the Orel garrison from which this dispatch is written, only 25 miles from the front lines.

Scorched Earth: We reached the general's headquarters after fourteen hours of a backside-slapping ride from Moscow which gave all the correspondents a spanked-baby feeling and engendered a great personal hatred for the Lend-Lease ¾-ton Dodge trucks officially known as "bucket-seat ammunition carriers." They are sturdy and made the trip without a growl from the gear box, but it was like trying to break in a mustang with a wooden saddle. Sabennikoff's headquarters in the valley of the Oka River are camouflaged in a group of trees. The correspondents slept four to a super-comfortable tent with a Red Army girl as orderly. Ours was a youngster named Dora who had been in the army since 1941.

I have seen scorched earth in other sectors of the Russian battle front, but nowhere is the destruction so complete and so calculated as that now being carried out by the Germans as they are pushed back toward Bryansk. Every village is literally razed to the ground. All brick and stone buildings, whether important or not, are blown up. Wooden houses are burned.

Everywhere were trenches, foxholes, pillboxes, and gun emplacements. Along the main Mtsensk highway there were few signs of fighting. However, you could tell no man's land by the fact that for several kilometers there would be absolutely nothing but field on field of weeds. But up to the Russian lines the fields were cultivated—yellow with ripening wheat, rye, and oats.

Accordion: The most impressive moment of the trip came after midnight one night when I stood on a height above the Oka River. The moon was just rising. To the east in the distance, Orel lay quietly as if resting from its ordeal, but to the west on the horizon there was suggestion of light from the fires of burning Russian villages. A rocket slowly curved skyward in the distance—it seemed to climb barely half an inch into the horizon. Then from the darkness came the roar, the full-throated roar of hundreds of bombers from Soviet airfields somewhere in the rear. They made more noise in the next ten minutes than anything I had ever heard before. It was a steady throbbing that literally shook the ground. The Russians like to bomb from low heights where they can see the target. A sentry with a tommy gun standing nearby looked at me and grinned, stopped a minute, and then walked on.

Down in the men's barracks nearby the roar of the planes was followed by some tuning up on an accordion. Over Orel in the distance there came a big shuddering boom—another delayed-action mine going off. The accordion began playing a Chopin waltz. The sentry came back and grinned again.

September 9, 2022

1943. "Russian Orthodoxy's Offensive"

The Orthodox Church in Wartime Russia
"1943 meeting of the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church" (source)
From Newsweek, December 27, 1943, p. 70:

Russian Orthodoxy's Offensive

One of the most remarkable occurrences of the war has been the Soviet Government's growing leniency not only toward religion as such, but specifically toward its onetime archenemy, the Russian Orthodox Church. For the developments on Christmas, Bill Downs, Newsweek and CBS Moscow correspondent, has sent the following dispatch.

Two significant events in the spiritual life of the Soviet Union occurred last week. Yemelyan Yaroslavksi, former leader of the anti-religious movement and a faithful old-time Bolshevik, died. The press made no reference to his atheism; others referred to his "scientific writings." Long lines of people filed through the while marble Hall of Columns in downtown Moscow to pay homage to one of the most popular Communists of Russia—a man, who represented the tenacity of the religious feeling he could never quite stamp out. On Dec. 6, Yaroslavski's ashes were buried in the Kremlin wall behind Lenin's tomb.

The other event was the announcement in the newly founded Journal of the Orthodox Church and Moscow Patriarchy that a system of religious schools would be established throughout the Soviet Union in order to train priests and clerics to carry on the Orthodox religion. This is proof of the Soviet Government's sincerity and good faith in giving the official go-ahead which resulted in the episcopal assembly of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow last September. That was when the Metropolitan Sergius was elected Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

From the historical point of view, there is nothing hypocritical or devious in this shift of attitude toward the Orthodox Church. Briefly, the situation is this: Before the revolution, the church was one of the wealthiest institutions in Russia. Its corruption was notorious, and its subservience to the czarist government—which employed the church as a weapon—made it an enemy to the revolutionaries, who were also inspired by the atheistic concepts of Marxism. Hence the Soviet Government included most church land and property in its declaration of common ownership. the official attitude was that the church, with its ritual and dogma, must not have a chance—either by interference or tradition—to act as a brake on the progressive drive of the new Soviet Government.

Sergius the Patient: Thus the Orthodox Church, while never completely obliterated, went into a decline. But the wise leaders like Sergius (who retired to a Volga village near Kuibyshev and continued to preach the faith) accepted the complete break of church and state. They knew that the old-time Russians are one of the most deeply religious people on earth—people who would keep their beliefs.

The patience and good judgment of these men were rewarded when war came. Their church began to grow as one of the spiritual forces of the Soviet Union's fight against Fascism, since church leaders have left no doubt which side their God is supporting.

Thus the Orthodox Church takes the offensive. To faithful churchgoers, working and sowing to keep the Red Army in the field, the resurgence of their religion is another indication of the justice of their cause and God's. And although the Orthodox Church now emerging will be maintained only on the basis of a complete separation of church and state, the movement now under way is more than a temporary wartime arrangement. The establishment of ecclesiastical schools is indicative of this.

• The program of religious studies will follow that of the formed seminaries. That means it will constitute one of the most rigorous courses in the world. Students will get such things as the history of the Christian and Russian churches, Christian apologetics, canonic rights and the Constitution of the U.S.S.R., hymnology, the reading of Greek texts and the history of Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican churches.

• Studies will be free. Moreover, money will be provided for those who need support and dormitories for students living out of town. Also, no candidate will be accepted until he is 18, which means that men entering the priesthood will first have a Soviet education.

• The study period is reduced from a prewar six or seven years to two or three years. (The course at the highest school in the land, the Orthodox Ecclesiastical Institute in Moscow, will take three years; at secondary schools in the dioceses, two years.)

September 7, 2022

1961. Interview with Secretary of State Dean Rusk

Secretary Rusk Discusses Foreign Policy

This interview with Secretary of State Dean Rusk aired on the CBS program "At the Source" on June 29, 1961. The text (including the footnotes) is adapted from a transcript printed in the Department of State Bulletin, Vol. XLV, No. 1149, pp. 145-151 on July 24, 1961, and has been altered slightly to reflect the audio:

Secretary Rusk Interviewed on "At the Source" Program

Following is the transcript of an interview of Secretary Rusk on a Columbia Broadcasting System TV program, "At the Source," on June 29.

ANNOUNCER: It is at this desk that some of the major decisions of our time are made. The CBS Television Network takes you to the office of the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C. We are "At the Source"—the physical setting in which Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, thinks and works and acts on important questions of foreign policy.

In an informal and spontaneous discussion recorded earlier today, Secretary Rusk meets with chief CBS News Washington correspondent Howard K. Smith and CBS News correspondents Bill Downs and Paul Niven. Now let us join their discussion "At the Source." Here is Howard K. Smith.

SMITH: Mr. Secretary, you've had a long and varied experience as a subordinate in the State Department, and now that you have had 5 months as the head of the State Department, have you learned anything you didn't know then?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, when I was one of 10 Assistant Secretaries back 10 years ago, I thought then that life was fairly complicated and busy. It's no less so today. I think the thing that I did not appreciate 10 years ago is that the Secretary almost never has the fun of dealing with a simple question; those are handled by his colleagues down the line. Most of the questions which come to the Secretary's desk and go from there to the President these days, given the pace and complexity of our relations with the rest of the world, are, shall I say, most interesting and usually complicated and difficult.

DOWNS: Well, Mr. Secretary, we who wander around this big building, which is your headquarters here, have sort of a saying that if you are pessimistic 100 percent of the time, why, 99 percent of the time you're right. But there must be another side of the coin. Hasn't something ridiculous happened to you since you've been in—something funny?

SECRETARY RUSK: Oh, I think there are a number of amusing things which happen along the way. It might be a little embarrassing to spell them out here, but there are always unearned dividends in this job—some perfectly ridiculous event occurring somewhere that no one could have predicted, with not grave consequences, but which adds to the gaiety and enlightenment of the world scene. No, there is fun in this job, too.

West's Commitment in Berlin

NIVEN: I suppose the least funny aspect of life today for you is Berlin, Mr. Secretary. It's now 2½ years since Khrushchev said he was going to sign a peace treaty with East Germany. Have our contingency planners in that time made a tentative decision as to where we draw the line? Do we let him sign his peace treaty with East Germany and wait for the East Germans to stop our trucks, or do we resist the peace treaty itself?

SECRETARY RUSK: Mr. Niven, the President yesterday in his press conference made a very important statement on this question,1 and I don't suppose it would be well for high officials to make fresh statements on almost a daily basis on such a serious question.

But let me say this in direct answer to your particular question: The essence of our commitment there—of our rights—and the basis for our concern about the future in West Berlin is the right of the three powers—the United States, United Kingdom, and France—in West Berlin—our obligations and responsibilities to the people in West Berlin, and the commitment of the West to the security and freedom of West Berlin. Now there are a great many questions which have been discussed and talked about—formulae, proposals, counterproposals—but this is the essence of the matter: We are there by right, not by sufferance. We have obligations to ourselves and to the people of West Berlin, and we do not accept the notion that those rights can be terminated or that the security of the people of that city can be endangered by the unilateral action taken by someone else.

SMITH: Mr. Secretary, a thing that bothers me—and I think bothers a great many people—is the thought that we may be prepared to be firm against an all-out, all-at-once warlike threat in Berlin. But the possibility exists that the Russians won't give us such a challenge. Instead they will try to shave away our rights in installments so small that none will seem worth fighting about.

Are we prepared to face the possibility that they will attempt first to grant East German puppet police the right to police our traffic, then delay the traffic, then harass the traffic? Are we prepared to meet that threat?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, this is one of the problems which will have to be thought about, considered, planned for in our discussions within our own Government and with other governments. In a situation of this sort the Soviets would probably try to create an ambiguous situation because these are more difficult to handle and deal with and to explain publicly.

DOWNS: What do you mean, sir?

SECRETARY RUSK: Along the lines of Mr. Smith's comments, that is, to leave it uncertain, to let whatever action occurs occur with hesitancy or with concealment or with indirectness, because the underlying issues are simple and direct and these must be understood by our own people and by peoples in other countries and it is important to keep the ambiguities cleared away so that we know exactly what the issues are.

DOWNS: Well, if we agree that freedom is not negotiable in Berlin, what is?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, since 1946 the Western Powers have made a series of proposals for a permanent settlement in Germany and in Berlin. Now these have taken a variety of forms over the years. Most of them have had to do with the self-determination of the peoples concerned.

This is an instinctive American reaction to the way in which you go about settling questions of this sort—ask the people themselves what solution they themselves want. And in the long turn of history this also may be the wise course in looking for a permanent solution because history is full of situations where the absence of self-determination has led to ambitions, appetites, revanchist ideas which in turn disturb the peace.

NIVEN: Do you expect this crisis to unfold according to any kind of a timetable, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY RUSK: The timetable, of course, depends upon all parties here. Mr. Khrushchev has indicated that he expects to take certain action by the end of the year. That does not mean that he might not raise one or another part of this question before then. That also does not mean that everyone else would wait until the end of the year to address themselves to it. So I think that it is safe at this time to say, Mr. Niven, that the Berlin question is going to be with us as an active question on our agenda both before the Government and the American people for the next several months anyhow.

Discussions Among Governments

NIVEN: Is there a hint there that we may try to beat him at his own game by proposing negotiations?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, I think there is no question that there will be discussions among governments about Berlin, including discussions with the Soviet Union. In the first instance, for example, we will be replying to Mr. Khrushchev's aide mémoire2 on the subject. When you raise the question of negotiation, this to some people implies a particular form or forum or way of talking. What I am saying is that undoubtedly this question is going to be discussed—but under what circumstances and in what way it will be reached—in the course of discussions among governments now going on.

SMITH: Mr. Secretary, Winston Churchill once said that, if the Allies had made it perfectly clear to the Germans before either world war that they would fight and just where they would draw the line, there wouldn't have been either world war. Would it not, in view of that, be an act of wisdom to let the Russians know exactly what we would not permit—for example, if we would not permit their East German police to take over the stamping of our traffic papers into and out of Berlin?

SECRETARY RUSK: The issue mentioned by Mr. Churchill is a central one in relations between a dictatorship, or an authoritarian form of government, and the democracies, because it is relatively easy for a highly centralized regime to underestimate the political processes which go on in a democratic society.

We debate vigorously among ourselves; we differ with each other. We have all sorts of internal quarrels as we sort out our political arrangements on a democratic basis, and, indeed, in our discussions with our friends abroad there is considerable public discussion of different points of view on important questions among thriving democracies.

Now, there is a temptation on the part of an authoritarian ruler to think that this is a sign of weakness and lack of unity. Indeed, a miscalculation on this point, an estimate that democracies would not do what in fact they would do, is a source of danger. So there will be a number of points of clarification of purpose and procedure and issue, aimed at the avoidance of this kind of miscalculation.

SMITH: These will be made public, will they?

SECRETARY RUSK: Public, and I presume in the course of intergovernmental discussions, yes.

Question of German Reunification

DOWNS: Well, Mr. Secretary, Walter Lippmann this morning said that it is the unstated policy of Britain and France to preserve the division of Germany as it now is. We, at the same time, are calling for reunification of Germany. Is that not a dangerous division of policy or opinion on the part—between us and our allies?

SECRETARY RUSK: The Western proposals on Germany and Berlin over the years have been on the basis of agreement. And the record there is filled with proposals to give the Germans a chance to decide on such questions as unification.

Now, when a new approach or a new move is made, such as was made in the Russian aide mémoire that was delivered to us at Vienna, you can expect all the governments directly involved to review the entire history of the situation, consult with each other, and decide how to move from here.

I myself am confident that there will be unity and agreement among the governments directly concerned and that disunity is not going to be the problem.

DOWNS: Someone said that the art of diplomacy is to avoid dead ends. Do you think that both sides have avoided a dead end at this stage of the game in Berlin?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, I think it is important not to come to the dead end but to explore every possibility of working out a tolerable peace that is consistent with the vital interests of our own country.

NIVEN: Some people have interpreted Mr. Khrushchev's speech yesterday as an indication that he is in a diplomatic hole that he got himself into and that he is almost appealing for help from the West in getting out of it—that this was a much more moderate speech than some of its predecessors. Do you agree, sir?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, appraising a particular speech is sometimes a little hazardous. Of course we read a speech of that sort with considerable care and interest, but in view of the record of the last several weeks I think one would not wish to leap to conclusions too quickly on the basis of a single speech. After all, those of us who have to make speeches from time to time know how easy it is to say things a little differently and without necessarily implying too much by it. But this will be given very careful study, of course.

Nuclear Testing and Disarmament

SMITH: Mr. Secretary, Berlin is topic A in the world. Can we talk to you about topic B—nuclear testing and disarmament?

Have you any theories as to why the Russians, who seemed to be interested in reaching a treaty to ban nuclear tests with us for several years, suddenly this year seem to have lost interest in it?

SECRETARY RUSK: There may be several reasons which move them in that direction.

I think Mr. Khrushchev, in his aide mémoire on the subject,3 and in some of the things that have been said in speeches and other places, made it quite clear as to what one of the reasons is. They have made, it seems to me, a far-reaching and fundamental decision about their attitude toward international organizations and international arrangements on such things as inspection and control. Their experiences in the Congo and their estimate of the effect of the actions taken by the United Nations in the Congo upon their policies in that country led them to say that "we are not going to subject the interests of the Soviet Union to decisions made by somebody else." 

Now, this is essentially the origin of the so-called "troika" formula—that in these matters there will be a Communist, a capitalist, a neutral, and that each one of them would have a veto on action taken.

Well, now, obviously, this would lead—if this is the principle on which the inspection machinery is organized and operated—obviously this would lead to self-inspection or to an ability to bar effective inspection and control and that would be unacceptable for the rest. I think it's also important to bear in mind that for the Soviet Union secrecy is a very great strategic advantage, as they see it. Their communications on the subject of disarmament, nuclear test control, suggest that they look upon international inspection and control as a form of espionage that effective control discloses secrets within the Soviet Union.

Well, this is for them a serious step. But for the rest of us it is a vital step, because we find it difficult to see how you can proceed down the path toward disarmament unless you have reasonable assurances that none of us will be, as Aristide Briand once put it, dupes or victims in this business.

So we have been discouraged, although not surprised. We have been discouraged by the attitude of the Soviet Government in the recent nuclear test discussions in Geneva. We had hoped that we could get that agreement, not because this represents a major step in disarmament but because it was a most significant first step and it would have established the principle of inspection and control and given us some experience in the actual operation of a system of inspection and control. This would then open the way for further steps in the disarmament that we all would like to accomplish, if we can find a way to do it consistent with our security.

Question of Resuming Testing

DOWNS: Well, Mr. Secretary, right now there are calls on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in the Government to resume testing. From the diplomatic viewpoint, do you think after a 3-year moratorium that the damage it would do to our prestige and power among the neutrals, whom we have been trying to woo the most, is worth the military gains that we would get out of resuming testing?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, this is a very serious question which must, of course, preoccupy the mind of President Kennedy. And he commented on it yesterday.4

I think that when we balance up these matters we will find that, in the first place, the world does understand that there is on the table at Geneva a reasonable, workable treaty5 submitted with bona fides looking toward the suspension of tests and the establishment of a genuine test-ban system. Now, I don't think we should assume that, because people in other parts of the world as well as our own people would hope that progress can be made on these matters, that they would not fail to understand that the rest of the world has a vital interest in the steps that the United States may have to take in the protection of its own elementary security.

NIVEN: Mr. Secretary—

SECRETARY RUSK: So this is a matter for the future and has to be; this is something that the President will have to decide in the weeks and months ahead.

NIVEN: Mr. Walter Lippmann has raised the possibility that Mr. Khrushchev may want tests resumed because Russian scientists need them more than we do at this point. Is there any feeling in our Government that that may be true?

SECRETARY RUSK: That is the kind of question which will have to be examined, but I think that it would not be useful for me to comment upon where the advantages might lie in the circumstances. This is something that has to be judged on a highly technical basis involving many classified elements, and I think any observation on my part would be beside the point.

U.S. Policy Toward Cuba

SMITH: Can we turn to Latin America? I would like to ask you what exactly is our policy towards Cuba?

One of your spokesmen has said, ". . . Communism in this hemisphere is not negotiable." Then, what do we do about Castro?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, there are two main things that it seems to me must be done and which are in process.

One is that we must do everything that we can to insure that Cuba is not, itself, exploited as a base for the further penetration of forces and elements from outside the hemisphere into other countries of this hemisphere; that is, any attempt to use Cuba as a base for agents or arms or whatever it is into other countries will require the immediate and energetic attention of all the governments and countries concerned.

I think, secondly, that the members of the Organization of American States do more than ever now recognize that this is something more than a bilateral question between Cuba and the United States, that it is in fact a problem for the hemisphere, that it is a potential disturbance to the peace of the hemisphere, and that the OAS, itself, should give it very serious thought and attention. We are developing our diplomacy and our discussions with other governments along both these lines.

Sino-Soviet Penetration

SMITH: Well, this penetration is, however, going on, is it not? I understand that the other day—one day this week in Montevideo—five tons of Mao Tse-tung's writings on guerrilla warfare were confiscated, and it's thought that they came via Cuban channels to Montevideo.

SECRETARY RUSK: I think we must recognize in this country that the Sino-Soviet bloc has made a very serious decision that it will try to press its opportunities beyond our alliances—jumping over the alliances, going around the alliances—in order to make as much headway as possible in the so-called underdeveloped parts of the world.

Mr. Khrushchev has indicated that—his great interest into these parts of the world include Latin America—in the underdeveloped countries; since 1954 they have been putting more and more resources into economic and cultural relations, and they have been building up their propaganda very rapidly.

Now, we believe that they will make an effort, a serious effort, in Latin America with all the propaganda and other resources at their disposal. We feel that the primary protection against this kind of attempted penetration is the mobilization of the energies and interests and the loyalties of the people of Latin America in their own economic and social development, because, if the peoples of this hemisphere show that they are on the move, along the lines of President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress,6 if they are ready themselves to take their own futures in their own hands and can move to build up their own education, their health, their productivity, that this is the way that societies become impervious to this sort of penetration. Now there are other things in the propaganda field, in the cultural relations, in broadcasting, many things which we can do more strongly than we are now doing. These require funds, and funds are not always easy to come by.

DOWNS: Well, Mr. Secretary, without getting into sort of washing dirty linen on the CIA and the rest of it, have you found that the Central Intelligence Agency's involvement in the Cuban fiasco gave us a black eye pretty well all over the world? Have you found that it dictates policy any place else other than it did in Cuba?

SECRETARY RUSK: I don't think that I want to comment about a specific agency and a specific episode. I am reminded of a statement made earlier that as far as that particular event was concerned, there was something in it for everybody. (Laughter.)

But, no, I think that policy of the present administration in our foreign policy is made by the President and the Secretary of State and his key advisers.

DOWNS: Well, let me ask you another one, and let me quote you—I've got it written down here, "Rusk's law."

There has been some discussion about whether or not there are two State Departments, one in the White House and one over here in this building and in your office, and you wrote back in Foreign Affairs a year ago, "No department or agency can be coordinated by a parallel department or agency." In other words, if you have got two agencies working on the same problem, you never get together. Do you think that's happening?

SECRETARY RUSK: Oh, I'm sorry that I have to suggest that is a misquotation. That was a law to which I was objecting in this article. That is, I do not myself take the view that it should be considered infra dig to defer to a companion agency.

Now, that coordination is something which ought to be worked out by the assignment of central responsibilities to identifiable individuals and departments who, in turn, have the responsibility for coordination with their neighbors. And we do need to work toward a simplification of the arrangements by which we come to our decisions, and I think the present administration has been doing that.

Handling of Latin American Affairs

DOWNS: Then you find no objection to the Presidential task force under Adolf Berle, or any conflict with the new Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Woodward?

SECRETARY RUSK: When the new administration took responsibility on January 20, there were a great many urgent jobs that had to be done quickly. For example, the book which my colleagues in the Department kindly prepared for me, entitled "Major Issues Facing the New Administration," was a looseleaf book some 3 inches thick. Now, there were several things in the Latin American field which needed to be done promptly. For example, the program under the so-called Bogotá program had to be presented to Congress, and quickly, to get the program moving. This could not have been done in the time available through the normal machinery of government; so that task force took that on. The Brazilian financing was a part of it. Some of the steps we have taken in Bolivia was a part of it. So that task force, during this period of getting started, has done some extraordinarily helpful and effective things.

Now, as we settle in and we get our new arrangements set, the normal procedures will more and more, of course, take over.

NIVEN: But I think you might agree, sir, that Secretary Dulles was perpetually vigilant to see that there was no great influence on President Eisenhower in the foreign policy field from anybody except him, whether it be from Dr. Milton Eisenhower or Harold Stassen or anyone. Is this something every Secretary has to watch out for?

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, how these procedures work is, of course, a matter of interest to any Secretary and to any President. But let me just comment that Washington, to me, is a city which is filled with quiet diplomacy but a good deal of local gossip.

Actually, the President is in full charge of his office and of foreign policy, and he has used the Department of State and the other departments as he needs them to help him in this job. There is close and friendly contact between his personal staff and the departments concerned.

After all, with the abolition of the old Operations Coordinating Board, it would be expected that certain members of his personal staff and the staff of the National Security Council would be more active in the liaison field than before. But let me assure you that this is not a matter which has struck into the actual operations of government in the way that some of the reports would suggest.

SMITH: Mr. Rusk, are you in favor of Secretaries of State traveling a great deal? (Laughter.) I understand you have traveled more than Mr. Dulles in an equal period of time.

SECRETARY RUSK: Well, there were three slated meetings of foreign secretaries that were facing me when I first took office, and I felt that I ought to go to those meetings and get acquainted with my colleagues from other countries. Then there was one unplanned meeting at Geneva over Laos.

I still think that the principal post, the habitual post, of the Secretary of State ought to be at his desk in Washington. I have discussed with some of my colleagues among the foreign ministers the problem of organizing a sort of trade union of foreign ministers to create tolerable working conditions for ourselves.

SMITH: Excuse me, sir. I'm afraid that's all the time we have.

On that thought, I would like to thank you very much, indeed. We all have a national, nonpartisan interest in wishing you the very best of luck.

SECRETARY RUSK: Thank you very much, Mr. Smith.


For text, see BULLETIN of July 17, 1961, p. 107.

An aide mémoire was handed to President Kennedy by Premier Khrushchev during their meeting at Vienna June 2-4.

3 For texts of a Soviet aide mémoire of June 4 and a U.S. note of June 17 in reply, see BULLETIN of July 3, 1961, p. 18.

4 Ibid.July 17, 1961, p. 106.

5 For text, see ibid.June 5, 1961, p. 870.

6 For texts of an address and a message to Congress by President Kennedy, see ibid.Apr. 3, 1961, p. 471.