APRIL 20, 1960
NEW YORK—One interesting item in our Monday newspapers was the fact that churches in Moscow were filled on Easter Sunday. Sometimes I wonder how governments feel they can really wipe out people's deep religious beliefs by edict.
Certainly, it is not wise for party members in a Communist country to show that they would like to go to church. But apparently in Russia, where the vast majority do not go to church, the people are allowed to have one spring festival—May Day. And the return to many of the old customs in the way of foods and the festivity in the air made Easter Sunday the beginning of the May Day holiday. The Russian Orthodox churches were jammed, and some came to worship while others just came out of curiosity.
There is a town outside of Moscow called Zagorsk, which was always considered a holy city, and people crowded into the churches there.
It was a beautiful day in Moscow, so that people could stroll in the streets and perhaps many of them felt that this was preparation for their May Day celebration to follow. But, of course, no one knows how many of these people put a religious connotation on the day. From the account that I read this spirit of gaiety and rebirth spread to many other places in the Soviet Union besides Moscow.
I received today in the mail a most pathetic plea for a young man who had to flee and has wandered homeless and alone for months and years in Europe without papers, which is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to anyone. This young man is now in the United States.
He was a refugee from a Communist country, and how he reached this country I do not quite know. But the chances are that he will be deported to go back to the frantic search for a country in which to live and for a job to help him live. At least this will be the case unless someone in Washington can make our immigration laws a little bit more human. This would mean the introduction of a special bill to make it possible for this boy to stay in our country.
I have not seen him and I do not know him. But his case reminds me of an occurrence in Paris years ago when I talked to a Polish boy who worked by day in the packing department of a big department store and at night studied in the Sorbonne. He had no country. And he had traveled all over Europe, hiding and slipping over borders, constantly eluding border patrols and often being shot at.
Of course, our immigration officials must enforce our laws and, of course, they cannot be expected to look into every special case. But this case was brought to my attention by a man at Columbia University, who said that he and his friends had written many letters to Senators and Representatives in Washington.
I want to add my plea, since I have also written to a Congressman in Washington in the hope that this case can be considered from the point of view of a human being and be looked into carefully and not treated as just another immigration difficulty.