This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Gerold Frank discusses his book "The Deed," a story about two young Jewish men who assassinated Lord Moyne (Walter Guinness), British minister of state in the Middle East in 1944. The men committed the crime hopes of bringing about independence in Palestine. Frank discusses his own presence at the trial of the two men, who refused legal council. They were found guilty and hanged.
The next speaker is Peter Ustinov, actor, director, and writer. He speaks generally about artists and authors, who are drawn to one another and are the "dangerous people in any civilization."
Next is Adolf Berle, a lawyer and author of the American Economic Republic. Tells a story about working with Ed Murrow to commission a book for Latin American readers (American Economic Republic). The US is the most successful economic system in the world. Free market. Social effort transcends individual interests. The economic system is not an end in itself, at least in the US. We're developing the outline of a stately house.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 70972
Municipal archives id: LT9524
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Ladies and gentlemen. This in a way is a special luncheon because it's the last of the session and I can only tell you that it's delightful to have such a big audience here and to urge you to be with us again next October when the next luncheon will take place let me introduce to you and come as a very special guest today. He has conducted the longest regularly scheduled book review program on the N.A.O. It's called the reader's own AK You may have heard it it's on every Tuesday night and now it is completing its twenty fifth year a week after this luncheon he will have done his thousand broadcast and it's a true labor of love and a public service so he has never received any remuneration for this said this I thought just a moment I thought today you might enjoy being here with me to my him Mr Warren Baloch. And now. I'm going to turn over this meeting to Maurice Dolby A My colleague who will introduce the speakers to you Mr Duffy. Thank you very much. In October nineteen forty four on the talk about guilt off in Cairo the highest British official in the Middle East minister of state a lot more was shot to death his assassins were to you two Jewish youths from Palestine members of the extremist step group one was seventeen. The other was twenty two. They were caught tried and hanged a lawyer would ask them to play dumb boring insanity and they replied I would deed was not an emotional accident it was a political act cut it out for moral purposes. In the courtroom covering the trial was a young American journalist named General Franks who was a walk out of Spondon with the United States Army in the Middle East. In the postwar years Mr Frank travelled and studied in the new state of Israel. The dream that these two young men had not lived to see come true he assisted in the writing of several books about Israel he told one interviewer that he had come to look upon Jerusalem as a second home. In his own country in the one nine hundred fifty S. Mr Frank achieved wide recognition as a writer in a field as father moved as possible from international politics telling the stories of figures in the theatrical weld much of whose lives have been made up of emotional Accidents such books as I'll cry tomorrow beloved infidel and too much too soon now Mr Frank has returned to the story that has haunted him for twenty years. As told with thoroughness skill and compassion the story of the two young men who killed and died for an ideal in Cairo in one hundred forty four. Reviewing Mr Frank's book the deed and yesterday's Herald Tribune Ruth group called it a genuine literary work a compelling document agonizingly true. It's off a. General Strike. You should believe in Dolby air ladies and gentlemen. I'm delighted to be here and have a chance to talk speak about the book. How I came to write it and I think there's nothing more gratifying or more warming to the fluttering egos of offers than to be able to talk of a can about a book. The deed began in a kind of Apple look pickle moment eighteen years ago it subsided into something of a knob session. And it became a kind of time bomb which went off about two years ago after I finished a book dealing with a theatrical personality. The night that Lord Moyne was assassinated I was in the city room the editorial room of the Palestine Post. We were about to go out to lunch with Julian Meltzer the Palestine correspondent of The New York Times when the Reuters news ticker began to chatter hysterically in a corner we dashed or to see what it was this was November nine hundred forty four when do we in Roosevelt were engaged in the struggle for the presidency. We saw the take unfold and spell the words Lord Moyne attacked near death his assailants are not repeat not each of us now in that editorial room of the Palestine Post a Jewish newspaper there was panic you saw it in everyone's eyes these are the last days of the war Churchill promised an answer to the Palestine problem and in everyone's I guess there was fear and you heard almost unspoken thought my God I hope they are not Jews within a few hours the truth was known they were Jews there are two Jewish boys one eighty one seventeen and one twenty to one and the al Hakim was a student the twenty two year old boy was a poet a student of Oriental languages he had translated Serai him and Kipling into Hebrew and hope to be a professor both were intellectuals. He had killed a man they never saw never knew had never heard speak and you nothing about the fact they had to carry a photograph with him so they could identify the man they had crept across the border Palestine into Egypt and they had killed in broad daylight Churchill's intimate friend Lord Moyne otherwise Edward Guinness head of the Guinness brewing family the most powerful man in the British Empire outside London the man in charge of British policy in the Middle East which meant the man in charge of the ships of refugees turned back from the shores of Palestine the man in charge of curfew police measures never thing else then happening in Palestine. These boys killed a man they didn't know because they thought in line with all political assassins of all time that they could change the course of history by one single act by that act they thought they would bring about independence and Palestine and are prepared to give their lives for a seventeen year old boy and a twenty two year old boy intellectuals dreamers students whose parents were in despair knowing that they were involved in a conspiratorial group of some two hundred sternness in Palestine then there were about six hundred thousand Jews there were the Haagen now which represented a vast majority of the country and there were two terrorist groups the smallest of these was the story of two hundred youths of whom one hundred fifty most of the most of the time were behind bars or in prison so they were fifty active members these fifty were going to change history and the only way the very very weak can persevere against a very very powerful is to strike bloody and powerful blows against the most important people his most important man was Lord Moyne whom they assassinated as a symbol of foreign rule not British rule as a symbol of foreign rule over the free independent Jews of Palestine they would accept no foreign rule. This is November three most later I was in Cairo when the trial opened of the two boys I had not seen them I only knew there was sternness and I remember standing in from the court room waiting for the boys to arrive they came in a series of military trucks soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder with naked bayonets so you couldn't see the boys and find a truck stopped and from the court house. Soldiers poured off and you saw the prisoners the assassins and I was shocked Hakim seventeen he looked even young he was tall slim with black eyes of you know black moustache a fin face brooding eyes and Zuri a little shorter blonde stalwart firm chin braced moustache blue eyes standing there manacled with just defiance his head up his shoulders back so sure of the rightness of his cause that the mere fact the way he walked and the way he mounted the steps enough to convince you that he was right and yet he had murdered somebody. The trial was held now in all the lives of in the lives of correspondence and newspaper men. Who not because of their own ability but because the fact they are newspaper men they're sometimes thrown into moments when they see human nature at its naked just they react most correspondents try to keep on the fence you try not to be a participant you watch the bull fight but you're not me. In my case I've had many such moments I've seen men die in the electric chair and I've been ashamed of myself for being there to witness that this last awful private moment and ashamed of the man who was dying knowing stranger watching him die in the Nurnberg trial I found myself come face to face with Marshal Gehring I spoke splendid in an American war correspondent uniform the marshal in a uniform stripped of every. Indication of rank and our eyes met and I was afraid at the Eichmann trial I sat while a twenty forty five year old man told the way he'd been lashed twenty five times in the concentration camps and was told to count up to twenty five he never got beyond seven because he fainted each time and sitting in the front row of the correspondence there with Eichmann sitting in a little glass Pew impersonal. Like a marked man making his notes at that moment listening to this man testify I almost felt the stigmata on my back to lashes on my back for all people who suffered so in this mad in humanity that had taken place at this time and this was the time that the two boys committed their deed of these moments that corresponds No none was as shattering to me as moving as the time when I sat in the correspondence row in Cairo and listened to these two boys. Defend not defend accuse it's eerie stood in the dock it was about ten feet square with huge iron pickets around and made his case first they didn't recognize the court they want an international court one based upon pure justice morality a court mankind has not yet achieved the judge or there is no court and that's where he said I know it yet we would wish to be tried before such a court because for what we did was a moral act on behalf of all people who are not free then after refusing to recognise the court to find a recognised court they refused to be defended by Egyptian attorneys they would make their own defense and now and then there was wrangling in the court at what time and what at one time the presiding justice turned to bed Siri and said Stop making a political speech but Suri was denouncing the British not the British but the foreign rule over Palestine. And the plane just said what is this got to do with the murder of Lord Moyne get down to the facts and Bedser took one step forward and raise his finger and pointed at the presiding just and in a voice so convinced of his own justice almost brought us out of our seats that our deeds stem from our motives and our motives stemmed from our ideals and of our ideals are right and just then you must accept that our deed was right and just another time when one of the Egypt's attorneys. Gave political reasons for what the boys had done and said what they want is a better regime in Palestine Bitzer he stopped stopped him and said If you think what we want to do is make change a good regime for a bad regime you mistake us we want to carried out by the roots and throw it away and this with a twenty two year old boy looking into the very noose of the gallows they are found guilty they were hanged before their hand I went back to the States is now forty five I became involved in writing a number of other books but always seem to me I was trying so to speak putting salt on the tail of the bird of reality what was reality so I became interested in a lowly and ROVs who'd written so high and then descended to such depths and into Diana Barrymore who thrown her life away and in a Sheila Graham the Cockney girl who became the lady and knew a great lover Scott Fitzgerald and yogic aboard the anatomy of. The anatomy of nightclubs and glamour and all the time I think what I was trying to find out is what reality meant because these people have lived extravagant and confused lives and if Rusk on the call of in Crime and Punishment could have sat next to me and said This is how I felt when I committed this and I did this how much more exciting than waiting for someone to invent reasons these were human beings and in their moment of nakedness in their moments of deep emotion they were confiding in telling me things which I would never learn from the boys but this was the essence of existence to find out what reality meant to other people and finally two years ago the time bomb went off and I began thinking of the two boys nice I do the book I went back to Cairo I went back to Palestine I checked into life two boys and wherever I went I touched what seemed to be a sub training stream of tremendous emotion a letter was sent on my behalf to a sister of one of the two boys. Would she talk with me if I came to Palestine. She replied If Mr Frank comes as one pure in heart I will speak with him. I talk to the next terrorist a friend of the two boys he threw his arms around and kissed me at last the story will be told I talk to another terrorist and as I question he lost his voice and finally sat there and able to talk trembling because we were talking about things that happened eighteen years ago in this conspiratorial group at risk of its life spent his days living in caves hiding in the desert eating stale bread dipped in hot water living on radish was pursued by the British pursued by the Jewish government itself because they were treated well not me to the British but the majority of the Jews of Palestine because they were murderers and they believed in terrorism and they were embarrassing to Weitzman and to Ben-Gurion and Weitzman himself when Lord Moyne was assassinated said this blow number to me more than the death of my own son his son was Nari of pot lost in action and finally. I talked to a number of people and I learned what went on when the boys finally reached their death. I spoke with. A tutor a professor who taught the two nephews of the commander general the Egyptian prisoners this man was later commander of the armies of Egypt against Israel. The two were called on him at two o'clock of the afternoon the boys were handed eight in the morning his name was the Pasha and with a two to came and how they are Pasha took him by the hand shook his hand warmly and said what I have seen this morning and the tutor. Said what has happened and how to Pasha said I saw two young lions die today and the tutor sat down heavily he knew at once the two from Palestine had been assassinated had had been hanged because for some time there was doubt that they might not be hanged there had been petitions from Toscanini from distinguished people all over the world Sigrid and others asking for clemency for the boys and the tutor said My heart goes out to them they were of my faith although I did not know them tell me action See how did they die and how did Pasha who had witnessed the hanging said they were quiet to the end I have seen nothing like this before they lived in the high world my professor they were close to God all the time they went to the death clean clean as white candle wax at four o'clock that afternoon a physician called upon to hang man's wife the hangman was called Muallem Shura Muallem in Arabic means master craftsman he was the official hang of Egypt for twenty years. The relation took care of his wife was about to leave the hanged man took him aside very nervously was a huge man black moustache was about six feet four. And he said to the physician I must