FEBRUARY 18, 1949
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I read that Pope Pius has stated that the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty had as its principal purpose to "disrupt the Catholic Church in Hungary." Hungary always has had a great majority of Catholic people and it was reasonable to expect that a trial which was not conducted fairly would lead to great resentment among these people and would really hurt the control of the Soviet government far more than it would hurt the spiritual power of the Church.
Also, it was interesting to read in the papers the other day that Anna Louise Strong, an American citizen who was married to a Soviet official some years ago, now deceased, has been arrested as a spy and is being held for deportation in the USSR. Miss Strong has travelled far and wide in this country and in many other countries, and has written books trying to persuade people to see the virtues of Communism. One wonders what can have suddenly made Communist officials suspect her of being a spy. There will be widespread interest in what she has to say on her return to the United States, for she always has been loud in her praises of the things being done in Russia.
On the whole, many of the things the Soviets are doing today tend to hurt them in the opinion of the world. A persistent rumor that they keep a number of war prisoners and political prisoners in virtual bondage and working under systems of forced labor could so easily be cleared up if they would just take the suggestion of Assistant Secretary of State Willard L. Thorp. He proposes that the International Labor Organization send impartial observers to travel throughout Russia to look into the whole question. I doubt, however, if the Russians will agree to this. Yet, such a group of disinterested people could confirm or deny the reports that are bound to come out of a country which prevents, as far as it possibly can, travel within its limits by any outsiders.
I wish we could persuade our Soviet neighbors to stop being so secretive. It is possible that they will assert that no one in the ILO is capable of making an impartial investigation of labor conditions within the Soviet Union, but there surely are some open-minded, objective people who at least would report exactly what they saw and such facts and explanations as Soviet officials gave them. Their own impressions and interpretations might be favorable or unfavorable, but the rest of the world would have the benefit of a statement of facts and a true statement of what the Soviet officials said. Then we could weigh the remarks of the observer, and either agree or disagree with him. In the long run, I think better understanding among us all would result.