|◄ APRIL ►|
|◄ 1953 ►|
|President:||Dwight D. Eisenhower (R)|
|Vice-President:||Richard M. Nixon (R)|
|House:||210 (D)||221 (R)||1 (Other)||3 (Vacant)|
|Southern states:||98 (D)||6 (R)||2 (Vacant)|
|Senate:||47 (D)||48 (R)||1 (Other)|
|Southern states:||22 (D)|
|US killed in action,||382||(This month)|
|Korean conflict:||34,570||(Since Jun 28, 1950)|
Apr 3: North Korea frees fourteen French citizens who were captured during the North’s occupation of Seoul in 1950. The fourteen civilians include the French chargé d’affaires at Seoul, other consular officials and their families, nuns, and a reporter for France-Presse. The latest development, along with other conciliatory gestures from Peiping and Moscow, is seen as evidence that the post-Stalin “Peace Offensive” may be more than just a propaganda stunt.
Apr 4: The Soviet Union announces that fifteen doctors, many of them Jewish, who were arrested since the previous January in connection with the so-called “Doctors’ Plot” have been released. The doctors were charged as part of an anti-Semitic campaign with plotting to poison Soviet military and political leaders, including then-Premier Joseph Stalin. The latest announcement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs says that the evidence against the doctors was false and the confessions were extorted using methods which are “impermissible and strictly forbidden under Soviet law.” The announcement also says that those guilty of “incorrect conduct of the investigation” have been arrested and brought “to criminal responsibility.” The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet also revoked its January 20 decree awarding the Order of Lenin to Dr. Lydia F. Timashuk, the informer who allegedly provided state security forces with the details of the alleged plot. Timashuk is the wife of Dr. M.B. Kegan, one of the physicians now freed. The dramatic reversal, coupled with the quiet omission of the names of several senior government officials in official statements, is seen by Western observes as evidence of a continuing power struggle following Stalin’s death in March.
Apr 4-21: It’s Passion Saturday, and Roy Cohn and his new best friend David Schine show up in Paris for the start of their outrageous comedy of errors across Europe, looking for — who knows what? They are there as special investigators for Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), and what they’re looking for seems to change depending on what city they’er in. They spend forty hours in Paris looking for inefficiency in government offices overseas; sixteen hours in Bonn looking for subversive literature in U.S. Information Service libraries, and nineteen in Frankfort and sixty in Munich looking for both. During their twenty hours in Rome, they are told that McCarthy, back in Washington, said they were looking at how much was being spent “in putting across the Truman administration in Europe.” Whatever the explanation, the European press openly laughs at them all across Europe. They stay in posh hotels in adjoining rooms, eat at expensive restaurants, and demand that books by Mark Twain, Herman Mellville, John Steinbeck, Henry David Thoreau, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway, among others, be removed from U.S. Information Service libraries.
Apr 4: Columbia University School of Journalism dean Carl W. Ackerman says that he has stopped cooperating with the FBI, CIA, the Secret Service, state agencies and the police investigating his students “except on written request and advice of counsel.” Ackerman complains that investigators are interviewing professors and students “like prosecuting attorneys,” looking for Communists and other security risks. Recalling the late Joseph Pulitzer, who advocated an independent journalism based on “drastic independence,” Ackerman says: “Today, the vast majority of teachers in all fields of instruction have learned that promotion and security depend on conformity to the prevailing community or national concept of devotion ‘to the public welfare.’ There are not many classrooms in the country today where students are advised to be drastically independent. … The practical problem which confronts teachers and students today is political freedom to discuss public affairs in classrooms or at lunch or during a ‘bull’ session without fear that someone may make a record which may be investigated secretly, upon which he may be tried secretly, and also be convicted secretly, either by a government official or a prospective employer. … If we have reached the stage in our democracy hen fear of investigation becomes universal and the loyalty of college students must be investigated, we will be erecting an iron curtain all our own.
Apr 4: Rep. Harold H. Velde (R-IL) doubles down on his suggestion he made last month that the House Un-American Activities Committee, of which he is the chairman, should investigate the clergy for pro-communist affiliations and sympathies. Velde tells the City Club Forum in Cleveland that his mail is running “17 to 1 in favor” of an investigation. “Such an investigation will be made despite the left-wing press,” he promises.
Apr 6: The Soviet newspaper Pravda says that the former Deputy Minister of State Security Mikhail Ryumin has been arrested and charged with chief responsibility for creating false charges against prominent Soviet doctors. Pravda also says that former Minister of State Security Semyon D. Ignatiev had been guilty of “political blindness and gullibility” in promoting the anti-Semitic plot. Kremlinologists see these latest charges as strengthening the position of Laverenti Beria, head of the newly-created Minister of Internal Affairs, which absorbed for former Ministry of State Security soon after Stalin’s death. This is also seen as a threat to Premier Georgi Malenkov’s position since Ignatiev is known to have been Malenkov’s protégé.
Apr 6: U.N. and Communist liaison delegates meet in Panmunjom to discuss an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war. This is the first significant lower-level meeting since March 28, when China made new proposals to break the deadlock in truce talks which had been suspended since the previous summer.
Apr 6: An atomic bomb is detonated at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site just 75 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The 11-kiloton blast isn’t especially large — it’s smaller than the Hiroshima bomb — but because it is dropped from an airplane and detonated 6,000 feet above the ground, the blast appears much larger to Las Vegas residents than other larger bombs that had been set up closer to the ground. Because the blast is so high up, it doesn’t sick up debris and dirt from the ground; its “mushroom cloud” is just the cap without the stem. A Las Vegas News Bureau photographer brings ballet dancer/showgirl Sally McCloskey to Angel’s Peak, where news photographers typically camp out to snap photos of nuclear tests. McCloskey’s interpretive dance in response to the shot appears in newspapers and promotional material for years to come.
Apr 6: The Senate Internal Security subcommittee releases figures showing that out of 54 educators or former educators who have refused to answer questions about possible Communist link, twenty-nine of them have been dismissed or suspended. The numbers given doesn’t include those who resigned or retired at about the time they were summoned as witnesses. The figures cover those who were questioned in open sessions of the Senate subcommittee and the House Un-American Activities Committee. The figures include faculty members of Harvard, Boston College, Columbia, Rutgers, New York University, Temple, Ohio State, Howard, Oklahoma University, Brooklyn Polytechnic, Sarah Lawrence, Smith, Virginia State, and Brooklyn, Queens, City and Hunter colleges. The figures also include public schools in Los Angeles, Boston, and Springfield and Summerville, Massachusetts, along with public and private schools in New York City.
Apr 7: United Nations and Communist negotiators agree to voluntarily repatriation of all sick and wounded Korean war prisoners. The voluntary repatriation is a major concession by the Chinese and North Koreans. They had been insisting on forced repatriations of all POW’s regardless of the prisoners’ wishes on whether they want to return or not.
Apr 8: The House Un-American Activities Committee’s final day of open hearings in Los Angeles was accompanied by plenty of fireworks. Actor and screenwriter Nedrick Young calls Rep. Donald Jackson (R-CA), chairman for this set of hearings, “a contemptible man” who has “told outright falsehoods in the halls of Congress.” He also calls the hearings “a disgusting procedure.” Jackson responds, “Your contempt is of a pretty low order.” As for Young’s charge of falsehoods in Congress, Jackson says that “coming from any other source than one who refuses to answer if he is a Communist, I would take extreme exception to that.” Young will be blacklisted, but in a few years he will find work writing for Jailhouse Rock (1957), The Defiant Ones (1958, credited as Nathan E. Douglas, for which he will win an Oscar), Inherit the Wind (1960, also as Nathan E. Douglas), and Shadow on the Land (1968).
Apr 8: The fireworks display before the House Un-American Activities Committee don’t end with Nedrick Young’s testimony. Also appearing before the HUAC hearing in Los Angeles is film composer and musician Sol Kaplan. Kaplan had never been identified as a Communist. His only crime was being actor John Garfield’s friend. Garfield had testified in 1951 that he had never been a Communist. But because Kaplan had been Garfield’s friend, and Garfield had been blacklisted anyway despite his testimony, Kaplan was fired from 20th Century Fox, where he had been under contract. When Kaplan protested that many studio executives had also been Garfield’s friends but still had their jobs, he was re-hired on a probationary basis. So when he is called to appear before the HUAC, Kaplan demands that the committee produce his accusers, and invokes the Bill of Rights when they refuse to do so. Kaplan is fired again the next day. He will immediately start work alongside many other Hollywood blacklisted worker on the independent left-wing labor film, Salt of the Earth.
Apr 8: The hunt for Communists brings fireworks to Frankfurt, where Roy Cohn and David Schine are investigating subversive literature in U.S. Information Service libraries. Among their targets is Theodore Kaghan, acting deputy chief of the U.S. High Commissioner’s Public Affairs Office. Cohn charges that Kaghan had written pro-Communist plays staged by the New Theater League, which Cohn says is “officially listed as Communist-sponsored.” Kaghan had earlier derided Cohn and Schine as “Senator McCarthy’s two junketeering gumshoes,” and points out that he had been supervising anti-Communist propaganda for more hears than they have been out of school. The State Department pressures Kaghan to resign a month later.
Apr 9: Rep. Harold Velde (R-IL), chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, announces “with pleasure” that the Senate Internal Security subcommittee “was launching an investigation of individual members of the clergy who are alleged to be Communists in the New England area.” That news comes as a surprise to Sen. William Jenner (R-IN), who chairs the subcommittee, who denies that the subcommittee is considering such an investigation.
Apr 11: U.N. and Communist negotiators in Panmunjom sign an agreement for the repatriation of sick and wounded prisoners. The U.N. will receiver 600 prisoners, including 120 Americans. The Communists will receiver 5,800 Chinese and North Korean soldiers and North Korean civilians who wish to return home.
Apr 13: The House Un-American Activities Committee quietly completes its four weeks of televised hearings in Los Angeles with a day of closed-door testimony. Committee member Donald Jackson (D-CA) tells reporters that two teachers who testified refused to answer questions. Their names and photos are printed in the Los Angeles Times. Laguna Beach teager Matilda Lewis told reporters before going in to testify, “If anyone has the courage to come into open court and accuse me of perjury I am willing to stand trial — but he has to be prepared, if he is wrong, to pay damages.”
Apr 15: Charlie Chaplin says he has voluntarily given up his status as a legal U.S. resident. The British citizen and world famous film producer, director, and actor says he will settle in Switzerland. The U.S. revoked his reentry permit in September shortly after he sailed for London for the premiere of his film Limelight. The State Department says that he has been accused of being a supporter of Communist and other left-wing causes, among other “grave moral charges.” He has been a permanent resident of the U.S. since 1910.
Apr 17: South African Prime Minister Daniel F. Malan’s Nationalist sees dramatic gains in elections, widening its lead in Parliament from thirteen seats to twenty-nine in the 159-seat chamber over the opposition United and Labour Parties. The Nationalists capture 60% of the eligible vote, compared to United’s 37% and Labour’s 3%. The Nationalists have promised to impose stricter segregation laws, and to strip almost a million Cape Province mix-raced citizens of their voting rights. The United Party’s slogan had been “Vote so that you may vote again” because the Nationalists also vow to alter constituency maps and appeals court powers, and impose legal and educational disadvantages to English-speaking citizens in favor of the Afrikaners. These moves are designed to ensure the permanent status of the Nationalists as the entrenched ruling party.
Apr 17: Roy Cohn’s and David Schine’s waltz across Europe continues with a stop in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. They stop in for perhaps an hour at the USIA library and declare that everything is in ship-shape order. They then take off for a pleasant tour of the countryside. The Yugoslav press, like its western counterparts, treats the visit as a joke. Porcupine, a satirical weekly, publishes a cartoon featuring two pipe-smoking, zoot-suited teenagers lounging on a desk at the U.S. Embassy. A machine gun is slung over the back and whiskey bottles litter the scene. “Is there anything around here which would injure respect for America?” one of the youngsters asks an Embassy official. “Besides you, nothing else,” the official replies.
Apr 18: A single Iranian army captain holds off a mob threatening 38 American men, women and children in Shiraz. The mob is whipped up by religious fanaticism and Communist demonstrators when a rally for Premier Mohammed Mossadegh takes on an anti-American tone.
Apr 19: The Roy Cohn and David Schine show return to Paris, where they are grilled by British journalists who have heard rumors that the two junketeers may go to London to investigate the BBC. They are full of questions: “Will you investigate British subjects?” “On whose authority?” “How much sight-seeing did you do on your trip?” The British press — left, right, and center — is displaying an unheard-of unanimity in their loud condemnations of American “investigators” investigating British institutions. The Financial Times had already dismissed them as “scummy snoopers” and “distempered jackals.” Now, FT says “they should be told to keep out of Britain’s broadcasting affairs.” The Daily Mirror columnist “Cassandra,” who never agrees with the Financial Times, agrees. “I think we’ve had enough of this,” writes Cassandra. “General Sir Ian Jacob, who does not lack courage and directness, and runs the BBC … should send these lads packing.”
Apr 19: King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia warns that unless the French grant his country independence “within the next few months,” there is a real danger that Cambodians will rebel and join the Communist-led Vietminh movement.
Apr 20: Operation Little Switch begins when the U.N. and North Koreans exchange sick and disabled POW at Panmunjom. Over the next eight days, the Communists will return 600 allied prisoners and the allies will return 5,100 North Korean and 700 Chinese prisoners. Many American POWs say that their treatment varied according to how well truce talks were going. Many others tell of fifty-day death marches in which thousands of POWs didn’t make it. Others tell of American POWs being pushed off of cliffs and others being bayonetted by Chinese guards. Some prisoners say they know of other wounded POWs who have been held back and are not being exchanged.
Apr 20: The Subversive Activities Control Board orders the Communist Party of the United States to register with the Justice Department as an organization “nurtured by the Soviet Union” that seeks to overthrow the U.S. government and establish a dictatorship. The American party is required to provide an annual list of officers and party members, and a full financial accounting. The Communists refuse to register and will take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Apr 20: Roy Cohn and David Schine make an extremely short five-hour stop-over in London before taking off for America. They spend a few hours at the U.S. embassy, where they meet with a lower official from the BBC and the U.S. Ambassador. Then they’re off again. The Daily Mirror’s “Cassandra” takes his measure of the pair. “Both Cohn and Schine are young men — twenty-five and twenty-six — but their mental ages are a good deal younger and their characters raw and offensive — even to those hardened by the follies of youth.”
Apr 21: Roy Cohn and David Schine return to New York from London following a maniacal trip across Europe in which they offended their hosts in every country they visited. The two appeared particularly hurt the the British press “misunderstood” their desire to question officials form the BBC. Also returning from a three week trip across Europe were Reps. James Fulton and Robert J. Corbett (both R-PA), who were there as part of a general investigation trip for the House Foreign Affairs and Administration Committees. Fulton says of Cohn and Schine, “They are doing more harm than good. The reaction to their visit that we found was definitely antagonistic.”
Apr 21: As Operation Little Switch continues with the exchange of wounded and sick prisoners in Korea, allied POWs give additional reports of North Korean and Chinese atrocities. Thousands of American and other allied POWs are believed to have been killed in death marches, torture, abuse, and from starvation, especially at a POW rendezvous point the prisoners dubbed “death valley.
Apr 23: With mounting reports of Chinese and North Korean atrocities against United Nations prisoners of war, the Communists say that they will release more disabled allied prisoners than they had originally promised. The unexpected announcement appears to be an effort to forestall a U.N. protest that the Communists are holding back some disabled captives.
Apr 25: Sixteen congressmen and 2,650 troops witness an atomic blast from a 300 foot tower at the Nevada Test Site northwest of Las Vegas. An Associated Press reporter in Las Vegas writes that it’s “a thing of beauty as seen from here. As it flared a skyfull of fleecy clouds, invisible in the darkness an instant before, were momentarily printed with gold.” The flash from the 43-kiloton blast — among the larger detonations in Nevada — is seen in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other cities and communities as far as six hundred miles away. For the first time, cars and a Greyhound bus traveling on public highways around Glendale and Alamo, NV, are reported to have been contaminated with radiation. The radiation does not disperse as expected, but stays in a small concentrated area as it drifts eastward.
Apr 26: The radioactive cloud released by the nuclear detonation a day before drifts into an extremely severe thunderstorm over eastern New York state. Professor Herbert Clark, of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, is alerted by the Atomic Energy Commission and asked to measure the fallout. Clark and his students fan out across Troy and measure radiation three to 1,000 times greater than natural background radioactivity. Clark will publish his findings in the journal Science the following year.
Apr 27: Communist and U.N. negotiators meet in Panmunjom and reopen truce talks that have been suspended since last July. The Communists announce that they have finished delivering sick and disabled United Nations prisoners of war. Over the past week, the Chinese and North Koreans delivered 684 allied prisoners after originally announcing they would send back 605.