Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
The Communist torture of U.S. fliers during and after the Korean War was part of a larger, more elaborate scheme by North Korea, China and the Soviet Union to convince the world that the United States had used biological weapons. Documents recently released from Russian archives reveal details of the plot, including one in which two North Korean criminals were injected with a culture of plague bacilli to fool international investigators. Two excerpts from The Post of Oct. 27, 1953:
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., Oct. 26 (AP). --
The United States declared today that Russians directed a Communist torture center where false confessions of germ warfare were wrung from United States fliers in Korea -- even after the armistice. The Russians entered a denial.
Dr. Charles W. Mayo, United States delegate, presented the charge before the U.N. Political Committee.
Dr. Mayo said an interrogation center known as "Pak's Palace" near Pyongyang, North Korea, was staffed by Chinese and North Koreans but directed by Soviet personnel.
"Many of our fliers were interrogated there by Soviet personnel," the Minnesota surgeon said. He told of a Kansas flier who refused to write a confession despite 180 hours of questioning directed by Russians.
Dr. Mayo said United States fliers were reduced to a level lower than that of animals, and that the tortures were designed to be more terrible than medieval methods.
"They are calculated to disintegrate the mind of an intelligent victim," he asserted, in order to make him destroy his own integrity and produce an elaborate fiction.
"If anything is surprising to me," he observed, "it is that so many of our soldiers -- both those who confessed and those who did not, although for months they were treated like animals or worse -- somehow continued to act throughout like men."
Dr. Mayo said the Communists accused 107 captured fliers of engaging in bacteriological warfare. Of these, 17 are listed as missing and 14 are known dead. He did not say how they died. He said 40 refused to sign anything, but 36 signed under duress.
Jacob A. Malik, Soviet delegate sitting in place of chief delegate Andrei Y. Vishinsky, responded that the United States had forced airmen who had confessed to germ warfare to repudiate their confessions under threat of prosecution.
He called Dr. Mayo's statement "a lie and a slander which we repudiate."
He tossed in a resolution by which the Assembly would call on all countries which have not done so to ratify the 1925 Geneva convention against chemical and germ warfare. The United States has refused to ratify it, demanding more than paper promises to stop such practices.
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y., Oct. 26 --
Dr. Charles Mayo, world-famous surgeon and United States delegate to the U.N., today gave the most detailed, scientific explanation of Communist means of extorting "confessions" ever present here. ...
"The total picture presented is one of human beings reduced to a status lower than that of animals; filthy, full of lice, festered wounds full of maggots; their sickness regulated to a point just short of death; unshaven, without haircuts or baths for as much as a year; men in rags, exposed to the elements; fed with carefully measured minimum quantities and lowest quality of food and unsanitary water, served often in rusty cans; isolated, faced with squads of trained interrogators, bullied incessantly, deprived of sleep and browbeaten into mental anguish. ...
"We must remember that all this was not done as mere senseless brutality; it was done for one single purpose: to make free men serve Communist ambitions."