WASHINGTON (Feb. 21)
Reporting that 15 tons of foreign propaganda, much of it anti-Semitic material from Germany, had been destroyed by the Post office since last December, Postmaster-General Frank Walker has recommended legislation to force identification of the sources of foreign propaganda.
Walker’s recommendation was made public in a letter to Senator Kenneth McKellar (Dem., Tenn.) in which he revealed that since last December the Post Office Department had taken advantage of a technicality in the foreign agents’ registration act to destroy 75,000 pieces of foreign propaganda mail received for distribution in this country, mostly at Pacific Coast ports.
Under the law all foreign agents who have not registered with the State Department lose the right to use the U.S. mails. While most of those distributing the propaganda in this country have registered, the postal authorities took advantage of a little-noted phase of the act which requires those abroad to do so also.
It was the mail from these agents which has been destroyed. The bulk of it came from Germany and Russia, some from Japan and comparatively little from Britain and Italy, Walker declared. He did not go into details as to the nature of the material seized by officials of the Foreign Mail Section, but said that a substantial part of that from Germany was anti-Semitic.
Pointing out that under the International Postal Agreement the department had been forced to notify foreign governments of the destruction of the mail, Walker urged legislation which would publicize both the sender and receivers of propaganda as being in line with “Congress’s evident policy that publicity rather than prosecution” should be used to combat alien propagandists.
Revealing that the postal authorities and the Department of Justice have had such legislation under study for some time, the postal chief recommended that the legislation require copies of a foreign propaganda to be filed with the U.S. Government as a condition for distribution, and that the names of the senders and recipients be marked plainly on the mail and be made available to the public, which would also be permitted access to the propaganda matter on file. In this manner, he pointed out, the admittedly knotty problem of totalitarian efforts to stir dissension and sympathy for foreign political and social theories could be met without recourse to censorship or U.S. withdrawal from the international postal agreement.
Senator McKellar said he contemplated sponsoring “some legislative move to combat this alien propaganda which attacks our people and our form of Government,” but added that “it depends greatly on how far we will be able to go under the Constitution and in the public interest.”