Sir Freddie






Q: You earlier on mentioned the effects McCarthyism had on German broadcasting. Can you recall these events and ?

A: Very much so, since I was personally involved. When McCarthy's two henchmen, Cohen and Shine came to Germany, they had sent in advance a list of six people whom they intended to interrogate, meaning to expose as Communists, and I was on that list. One of my most humiliating experiences of my life was when on Easter Sunday, as it happened, because they arrived on Monday, the five of us met with the acting PAO at the US High Commission, Ted Kagan, at his house, and he said now among us let's line up our ducks in a row and see what do you think they might have on you. So of course I'd given it thought and I thought of the following: while I was a student at the University of Chicago I gave German lessons to the Vice President Bill Benton, who later to the son of the Vice President, a 10 year old boy, to make a little extra money. Bill Benton became Senator from Connecticut and was one of the earliest victims of McCarthy who during Benton's re-election campaign circulated phoney photos of Benton with American Communists. That, given the hysteria of the McCarthy period, would have seemed enough that I taught the boy of one of his enemies German lessons. The second point was that at NBC short wave during World War 2, when I came in fresh from the University of Chicago, it turned out I was the only native American in the short wave section. All the others were refugees from the nazis and so on. Previous attempts had been made to organise the place, union wise, and had been blocked by management. So the Radio Writers Guild, which was less a trade union than a professional organisation, approached me that since they now had a native born American, would I made another attempt? And of course I was delighted to do so, because we, the foreign language experts, were earning 140 dollars a month. So I organised the place and within weeks we were all raised to 400 dollars a month, one of my earliest proud achievements. And after the war the Radio Writers Guild turned out on McCarthy's list of Communist organisations. So if I'd been asked I would have said I wouldn't know, because the Soviets were our allies in World War 2, so it would have been a matter of total indifference to me whether the Radio Writers Guild was Communist controlled or not. I was only interested in boosting our salaries. But the mere fact that I was their organ in this organisation of the NBC short wave service would have been enough in McCarthy's view to make me a Communist of course. And so it was similar trivial - the most trivial was, and you won't take this seriously, but out of the hysteria of the time, you must take my word for it, in June of '45 my father and I, he had been yes, it was June, before they were allowed into Berlin. I had met him in Weimar, then US occupied, where he was waiting with other American correspondents to be permitted by the Soviets to enter Berlin. And since he had nothing do he went over to the Molde River, which was then the dividing line between the American and Soviet troops and we went over the river and in front of big photos of Roosevelt, Churchill, that was before the election in Britain, and Stalin, he took a picture of me. We were in correspondence officers' army uniforms. A picture of me with my arm around a Soviet young lieutenant. And so help me, I thought that private picture somehow McCarthy's henchmen might have gotten hold of that. So that shows the atmosphere at the time. So that was all I could find in my Communist past. The reason I sit here today and my career didn't end was that through a fluke Cohen and Shine didn't get around to interrogating me. In the middle of their interrogations they gave a press conference and American correspondents were very hostile to them, asked them sneeringly why didn't they interrogate the acting PAO, Ted Kagan, who as it turned out whom McCarthy had accused the night before in the Senate at being a Communist. Apparently Cohen and Shine, travel wasn't th

Q: At the end I would just like to ask you some rounding up questions which really cover the whole period of the Cold War, the whole 40 years. And what do you personally think as the Cold War necessary?

A: It was inevitable. It's not a question of necessary. To me it's clear cut from my experiences in Germany that we, the Western powers, leaned over backward in the early post-war period to run things together with the Soviets. And all these personal experiences with RIAS, with the currency reform and so on, show me that there was no goodwill on the other side to co-operate with the West. So what should we do? With all their threatening movements, of course, all the rearmament, everything was inevitable. I don't say that we made no mistakes on the Western side, of course not, but as to the overall question, to me it was inevitable because basically of the attitude of the Soviet Union.