NEW YORK (May. 19)
A 90-minute television program documenting the 1943 uprising of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, broadcast nationally last night over the CBS-TV network, has drawn hundreds of protests from German Americans, who object to “re-awakening of old racial antagonisms,” a spokesman for CBS-TV said here today. The program, however, “went on as produced on tape,” the network spokesman emphasized.
The show, “In the Presence of Mine Enemies,” was written by one of television’s outstanding play wrights, Rod Serling. It starred some famous American actors, including Charles Laughton, Arthur Kennedy, Susan Kohner and Oscar Homolka.
“Mine Enemies” has been a source of contention for upward of 18 months. Mr. Serling originally wrote the program for production last year, but sponsors vetoed it as “too controversial.” As aired last night, “Mine Enemies” told the story of a heroic rabbi, played by Mr. Laughton, and depicted both the tragedy and the heroism of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto who fought the Nazis, knowing that most of the fighters were in effect committing suicide.
For the last two weeks, it was ascertained prior to program time last night, CBS-TV has been receiving letters from individuals, many of them identifying themselves as “members of the Steuben Society.” The latter is the principal organization of Americans of German descent in this country. Many of the letters protested against a program which deals with “alleged Nazi atrocities.” Many others, according to Mr. Serling, included “outright anti-Semitic tirades.”
“The letters,” said Mr. Serling, “speak of ‘alleged German atrocities,’ as if there were any doubt about what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto.” The network spokesman said that, prior to the receipt of the letters, Mr. Serling had been asked to change the word “German” in the script to the word “Nazi.” “We did so,” the network spokesman said, “on the valid theory that not all Germans were Nazis, just as not all Frenchmen were collaborators or all Norwegians were quislings.”