NEW YORK (Oct. 27)
Undersecretary of State W. Averell Harriman tonight challenged Soviet Russia’s “elaborate denials” of anti-Jewish discrimination in the USSR. He disclosed that during his last visit to Moscow he had raised the question of religion with Nikita Khrushchev, following the visit of his son-in-law, Alexei Adzhubei, to the late Pope John. “The Soviet leader replied that he is an atheist in an atheist government,” Mr. Harriman reported. “He closed the door to any thought that the Soviet government might alter its anti-religious policies.”
In an address here before the American Jewish Congress, Gov. Harriman charged that “the heaviest burden” of the Soviet government’s campaign of religious “suppression” and “discrimination” had been borne by Jews. He called for “relentless exposure of the real facts” of Soviet anti-Semitism “to the spotlight of world opinion.”
(A report from Moscow yesterday said that the Soviet authorities are pushing ahead with plans for a major show trial of two Soviet Jews–B.I. Roifman and M. Shakerman–accused of being the “leaders” of a group charged with “economic crimes.” The Soviet Government organ Izvestia reported the case has already been sent by the Procurator General Roman Rudenko to the Supreme Court and that Rudenko would demand death sentence for the two Jews. The announcement is unusual even in the current campaign against “economic crimes” in which results are normally reported after trials are held.)
In his address, Gov. Harriman expressed support of an “appeal of conscience” addressed to Soviet government leaders early this month by a group of 100 Americans, headed by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and Protestant Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike of California. The appeal proposed a seven-point program to lift religious and cultural restrictions against the Jews in the USSR and to take positive action against anti-Semitism.
Gov. Harriman said that after Stalin’s death Jews in the USSR enjoyed a brief respite from the “wave of terror” they had suffered during the Soviet dictator’s final years. Put, he added, “new pressures” have been exerted “slowly, steadily” against Soviet Jews. Of the 175 members of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, only one is of Jewish descent and only one Jew is a senior commander of the Soviet armed forces, he said.
Gov. Harriman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Soviet Russia and chief negotiator of the nuclear test-ban agreement with the USSR, spoke at a banquet in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at which he received the American Jewish Congress Stephen S. Wise Award for advancing human freedom. Dr. Joachim Prinz, president of the Congress, made the presentation. Another Stephens. Wise Award was presented at the dinner to Solomon N. Petchers, treasurer of the Congress. The award is an engraved bronze medallion.